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Flash Floods Rip Through Maryland Town, At Least 1 Missing; 3.5 Million People Under Tropical Storm Warning; U.S. North Korea Race to Revive Trump-Kim Summit; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:01:07] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, an important reminder of what today is all about. Memorial Day as you look at these live images of the World War II Memorial in our nation's capital. Today a day when everyone in this country should pause to honor those who lost their lives and gave the ultimate sacrifice defending this nation.

Soon a fallen soldier will be brought home to his family at Dover Air Force Base and then President Trump will arrive at Arlington to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and we'll see the president and hear from him in just a little bit.

Thank you all for being with me on this Monday morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And we do begin with a major story happening right now outside of Baltimore. One person is missing after flash floods ripped through Ellicott City, Maryland, overnight.

This is a scene just hours ago that murky brown water ransacked the town's historic main street and this morning a clear view of the utter devastation left behind. The governor has declared a state of emergency.

And let's go to our Suzanne Malveaux who is there.

First, Suzanne, what do we know about this missing person?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, tragically, I mean, his name is Addison Herman and he has been missing since 5:20 yesterday, in the evening. He's 39 years old and he is simply a visitor of Ellicott City. He's not a resident or a business owner, but somebody who was here simply visiting over the holiday. And he was reported missing, they are still looking for him. They have not yet found him.

Also, Poppy, I want to show what is happening behind us now because this is really critical. This is Elliott Mills Road and the other side is main street. The main street where all those cars flooded and literally where the gush of water just went through within hours, turning these cars into toys and what you're seeing now, these cars have been stuck in the mud ever since. The flat bed trucks are now pulling them from the mud, many of them just disabled.

You can see some of the markings, the X there, that is familiar as we have seen with FEMA and Katrina, on the homes there, the X noting the date, the time, and if there was anyone who was in a vehicle or deceased.

What we have been told is that no one at least now that we know has been killed from this tragic storm, that there are no significant injuries, but certainly somebody who is still missing. The gas lines are down, a lot of power lines are down and, Poppy, a lot of people just waking up trying to get back into the neighborhood, back in their businesses, so far being kept at bay because it is still too dangerous -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And just adding to the devastation, just on the fact that this exact city experienced horrific flooding two years ago.

MALVEAUX: That's right. And officials that we spoke with this morning say that it is actually worse than what we saw back in July of 2016, that some of the areas that had been repaired are now damaged and then some of those areas held up but then there is new damage, and that they said simply that the -- even the money, the resources that they have, $1 million from FEMA to get a program started to actually create a warning system for a tragic situation like this, they would start next year, that they just didn't have enough time to rebuild, restart and prepare for something as catastrophic as this.

Ninety-six percent, Poppy, of the businesses that were destroyed back in 2016 had been up and running, they had 20 more stores that were in place that are right along that main street line so there was a real sense of community bustling here. And now all of this, again, the rubble -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you for being there and for that reporting.

With me on the phone now is Allan Kittleman, he is the Howard County, Maryland, executive.

Thank you for being with me and please accept our condolences for everything that the community is going through right now.

ALLAN KITTLEMAN, EXECUTIVE, HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND: Thank you, Poppy. I appreciate that. This is a devastating time for Ellicott City and as you just heard 22 months ago we were hit with what we saw was the most devastating natural disaster to hit our town and now it has been even more so now. So this is clearly a worse storm than we had two years ago and going to be a long road again.

[10:05:07] HARLOW: Do you have any updates on the missing 39-year- old?

KITTLEMAN: I do not. I do not. As you heard, we had heard that he had not been seen since 5:20 p.m. yesterday. We did not get an official missing person report to us and to our police department until 12:30 this morning, but we're making that our top priority today, to find this gentleman, to make sure that everybody is safe. That's clearly the top priority today is to make sure everybody is safe, make sure nobody goes into a building that's unsafe. So we're focusing on that today.

HARLOW: What --

KITTLEMAN: Also meeting with others to plan for what are the next steps.

HARLOW: You mentioned not going into buildings that could be unsafe. Obviously the structure, the foundation will be very compromised from these floodwaters, from the mud, from the -- from the extremity of what has been experienced. What is your message to people today about where they can and cannot go safely?

KITTLEMAN: Well, we have our police officers there, cordoning off any buildings that we have not checked out early. We're keeping people out of the town right now. We cannot let anybody come into the town. Unless they have a job in doing down there. And so -- what we do also understand because, you know, we've been through this two years ago, we have businesses, we have residences -- residents who have personal property, business property, they have to get out, whether it is cash, whether there'd be computers, and so we're working the best we can to get things stable.

Also the folks can make a short trip down to get out the valuables they have and then allow us to start working on different structures and deal with our issues. But as always people come first. And so we're focusing on the safety of everybody and the structural stability of the building.

HARLOW: You spoke in this press conference about the FEMA money that came to Ellicott City after the devastating flooding two years ago, but that it took a long time to come and you've really just recently received it. Was anything put in place that was at all helpful during this storm or did you simply not have the time to implement what needed to be implemented from that funding?

KITTLEMAN: Well, certainly 22 months is not much time to actually get things actually built.


KITTLEMAN: We had already done a lot of analysis, a lot of place have been done, we worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help us evaluate different things and we actually had designed and secured funds to build some two new storm water retention ponds to kind of divert and slow down the water coming down. But you can't get all that built in 22 months. And so it's unfortunate. It's something with the storms aside, you know, again, who knows what kind of storm water retention would have helped.


KITTLEMAN: I mean, we're hearing now we got a little over seven inches of rain in less than five hours. It could be even more than that. And so this is -- it's a mill town, it was built for water coming down, so it could run the mill past the 1700, and so we have to continue to deal with it. And so right now my heart is broken for the residents and the businesses and the property owners. And that's what I'm all thinking about right now is what I can do to provide to them. HARLOW: Yes.

KITTLEMAN: And Governor Larry Hogan has been tremendously supportive. He was two years ago. He now is as well. He's already here. And we also heard from Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Cummings who lives in this area as well. But we will continue to have our federal state partners working with us.

HARLOW: Good, glad to hear it.

Allan Kittleman, thank you. We're thinking about you guys.

All right. Meantime, you've got millions under a tropical storm warning, as subtropical storm Alberto is making its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi have declared a state of emergency.

Let's go to our Nick Valencia, he's in Panama Beach, Florida.

And Nick, I understand in just the last hour two things have turned a little bit there as this storm is really approaching.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely. This morning, Poppy, we've been out here for at least a couple of hours now. And this is the steadiest that the rain has fallen. Since we got out here earlier this morning, we have been keeping our eye on these waves behind us. And they have been dramatic, no doubt about it. They have gone up to probably about the midway point of that pier, so maybe 15, 20 feet.

It was earlier I was talking to a local resident, he said he saw it as high as the walkway. Right now there is a red flag warning on the beach, which means they want people (INAUDIBLE) there. We did see a surfer get in there just a short time ago and this rain kind of really just started to pick up here.

In some spots they're expecting maybe four, eight inches of rain, isolated spots about 12 inches. And landfall for subtropical storm Alberto is not supposed to make landfall here until later this afternoon. But just judging by these conditions, ominous warning signs for Panama City Beach. I did check in with the Bay County sheriff's office a short time ago. So far no mandatory evacuations. They are telling people to keep an eye on the storm system as it passes through here in the Gulf of Mexico -- Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Nick, thank you for being there for us. I know everyone is bracing for it.

Let's go to our meteorologist Chad Myers in the weather center.

Talk to us about this storm, I mean, subtropical storm, what does it even mean, how big will it be?


HARLOW: When will it hit land? MYERS: If it is a tropical storm, Poppy it means it has a warm core

and the storms have wrapped all the way around the middle. The center. Doesn't have an eye. The middle.

[10:10:03] This doesn't have that. It just never really got its act together. Too much dry air got in train, a little bit of sheer got in the way. And so that's the good news. This storm never did get to be a category one hurricane because it just almost too early in the season, that there is no such thing, but the water was 82, 83 degrees, that is warm enough to get it there, it just didn't have everything to make the right kind of soup.

Now we brought five hours from really where the center will make landfall, not that far from where Nick is right now. Out of 65-mile- per-hour storm, we haven't even seen a gust to 65. This went right over a buoy in the Gulf of Mexico and had a gust to 50 miles per hour. So they're out there looking at the storm, it will be a rainmaker. It will be a surge maker.

Apalachicola, your waves are already three feet higher than they should be right now. So not the waves on top of the surge, this is the water that is already in your bay, in your back bay. St. Mark's, water is also rising there, so we'll watch that. That's the east side of the storm. The other thing is the heavy rain, flash flood watches up and down the East Coast and the surge here, about two to four feet, we're already at three.

And look at what happened over the weekend here on the other pictures you showed. Ellicott City, officially now 8.4 inches of rain fell in that city in less than half a day and that's why all that flooding happened.

HARLOW: Your heart is just breaks for them, they just went through this less than two years ago.

All right. Chad Myers, appreciate the report on both fronts. Thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Still to come for us, to politics we go, the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani defending the president's criticism of the Russia probe and unveiling what seems to be the latest PR effort to undermine the special counsel's probe.

Also, right now a U.S. delegation is inside North Korea trying to resurrect the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Could the on again-off again summit be back on?

And live pictures this morning on this Memorial Day from Arlington National Cemetery where we all honor the fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country.

You're looking at Section 60, and this is where Americans who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. And just moments, the president will arrive and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You'll see that here live.


[10:16:17] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And this morning, preparations seem to be in high gear for President Trump's possible upcoming summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. Barely four days after President Trump cancelled this historic meeting, a high level team of U.S. envoy is now inside of North Korea. A separate team is in the summit host of Singapore.

Let's go to the White House. Find out what's going on. Our Kaitlan Collins is there.

So do you know this morning if it's on or if it's off?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the question now, Poppy. Just four days ago the president called this off. And now there have been a stunning series of developments that suggests this summit could actually schedule -- go forth as scheduled on June 12th in Singapore. There were several developments over the weekend, including that U.S. delegation crossing into North Korea to meet with their North Korean counterparts to discuss what it is both sides are looking to get out of this summit.

That is certainly one of the strongest signals we've received yet, that the United States is actually trying to make this summit happen on June 12th. But there's also been conversations between the South Korean president and Kim Jong-un as well as that White House advanced staff flying to Singapore, they should be touching down any minute now to really smooth out the wrinkles logistically ahead of any summit that would take place in a little more than two weeks.

So certainly all those signs are there that they are moving forward with these preparations as if this summit is still happening as planned, even though just a few days ago the president called it off because he said he didn't feel it would be appropriate to hold a summit like that at this time. So it raises the question of what has changed because, of course, when the president calls it off, one of the reasons that a senior White House official cited to me was that North Korea statement that called the Vice President Mike pence a political dummy.

It wasn't the insult to the vice president, but it was something later on in the statement where they were essentially threatening nuclear war to the United States. So that makes you question what it is that has changed from that statement to now that makes the White House believe this summit could be back on.

But, Poppy, to be clear, there is certainly a divide here between the president and his aides. The president has this newfound optimism that the summit could still take place on June 12th. But his aides are skeptical that they could get everything prepared in just a little more than two weeks now.

HARLOW: But when your boss says make it happen, you make it happen, right? COLLINS: You make it happen.

HARLOW: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you very much.

Joining me now, director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, John Park.

John, nice to have you here. Let's just begin with that. What is your over-under on this summit actually happening on June 12th in Singapore?

JOHN PARK, DIRECTOR, KOREA WORKING GROUP AT HARVARD'S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Well, right now, Poppy, I think what you just mentioned, when the senior leaders are basically saying move forward, and that's the message to their various working groups.

HARLOW: Right.

PARK: I think there is a good chance now. But a key part of this is the role of South Korea. A number of countries are doing important work here, but South Korea is playing almost this role of first responder. When the United States and North Korea seem to get cold feet, bruised egos you see the South Koreans and particularly South Korean President Moon Jae-in get in there and basically directly interact with those individuals. And so that's the key component that I think is very important, the discreet activist role of the Moon Blue House.

HARLOW: Yes. And look, and calling South Korea a first responder here, the fact that Moon held that sort of -- the summit with Kim Jong-un this weekend. They got it together in just a matter of hours to make that happen on Saturday night. But what South Korea is promising, President Trump and the United States here, is that the North is going to agree to, in their words, a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Now there are different definitions of what complete denuclearization means to Kim Jong-un and to the United States. And that's where the issue lies, does it not?

PARK: Absolutely. That's a critical gap and I think when you look at the different statements here by the North Korean and the U.S. side, you can see that definition is very different.

[10:20:08] But this is all the more reason why I think this denuclearization mechanism is going to be crucial. Secretary Pompeo in his most recent meeting with Kim Jong-un came out and mentioned this denuclearization mechanism. It is, I think, important to focus on the separate mechanism because this is where the gaps would be addressed. And this leads o this whole notion of the summit in Singapore rather than negotiations per se. It's really going to be the unveiling of a pre-prepared joint declaration and I think that's the official launch of this denuclearization mechanism.

HARLOW: The word choice of the president has used in his tweets about North Korea over the last 24 hours is -- it stands out because he uses phrases like brilliant potential, as he did in this recent tweet describing North Korea, this comes on the heels of him calling Kim Jong-un honorable a few weeks ago, saying he treated the detainees excellently.

It is clear that flattery works with Kim Jong-un and that's what the president seems to be trying to do here. I just wonder if you think there is a danger in using language like that about this regime with all of its human rights abuses.

PARK: You know, there is a delicate line to walk here, but I think when it comes to the eye on the prize right now this is the idea of the Singapore summit. And I think for that purpose, getting this process under way is critical. And the hope is that once you get that process under way, you can discuss things like human rights and other issues, but they're prioritizing the launch of what would be this denuclearization mechanism and an important element of clearing this pathway for the South Koreans and the North Koreans also move forward with their Panmunjom declaration, they also have their own pathways and goals.

HARLOW: But one thing that President Moon of South Korea has said that Kim has told him is that he is unsure of how firmly he can trust the United States commitment to in his words ending hostile relations and providing security guarantees for the Kim regime.

Is that, do you believe, in part at least looking at recent history and looking at the Trump administration pulling out of the Iran deal, for instance?

PARK: I think from a North Korean perspective it's a lot to do with more of their internal experiences with North Korea and U.S. dynamic and previous agreement situations. So less so on the influence of the Iran deal experience, but rather previous agreements like the 1994 agreed framework.

HARLOW: Right.

PARK: Between the United States and North Korea and so forth.

HARLOW: John Park, appreciate it, thanks for the expertise this morning.


HARLOW: So president trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani now calls in an interview with our Dana Bash the Russia probe illegitimate. It is apparently part of a major new strategy by the president's team to at least get public opinion on his side.


[10:27:11] HARLOW: All right, Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, seems to be taking on two roles these days. Both as president's attorney, but also as his strategist. Listen to what he told our Dana Bash in their interview this weekend about the PR plan the president's team has come up with to influence public opinion about the Russia probe.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: We're defending -- to a large extent remember, Dana, we're defending here -- it is for public opinion because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So our jury is the -- as it should be is the American people.


HARLOW: With me now, two American people, two political whizzes on other sides of the aisle, joining me now CNN political commentators Patty Solis Doyle and Alice Stewart.

Of course Patty ran Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008, Alice Stewart, former communications director for Republican senator Ted Cruz.

Thank you for coming in on a holiday. You both get bonus points for that in my book. And Alice, let me --


HARLOW: Happy Memorial Day. An important day to honor those who have given so much. So thank you, both.

Alice, to you. What do you make of Giuliani clearly laying out here, this is not just about legally defending the president, this is about how he's viewed in the eyes of the American public.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, he's clearly engaging in an opening statement of trying to win this argument in a court of public opinion, but in my view, it would be more beneficial to make sure that his client, the president, can make his case in a court of law if necessary. And he is -- has expressed deep concern about if the president were to testify with Mueller, he would get caught up in a perjury trap.

Well, the best way to not get ensnared in a perjury trap is to not perjure yourself and to tell the truth. And look, this is clearly the route that they're going to go. They think it's really important for not only their base, but Republicans and many Americans to see what they view as a witch hunt, as a spygate, and they're going to continue to plead that case.

My view, I would recommend the best way to handle this is to continue to do what they say they have been doing. Help Robert Mueller in any way with this investigation, provide the necessary documents, provide the information, sit back and let the investigation play out, if they have done nothing wrong, if there is no coordination, no collusion, let the facts lead where they may and let's focus on other things like the summit and the economy and jobs. That would be the best route to go with this.

HARLOW: Patty, when it comes to how Democrats should address this, you know, utilize it, in running for the midterms because as much as this is legal, this is also very political. Here's what the ranking Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The broad question is how do you counter a president who repeats falsehood after falsehood after falsehood, that has the bully pulpit of the presidency to do it and has allies in Congress who are willing to support that? And Martha, at the end of the day, there is one remedy for that. And that is you need to throw the bums out.