Return to Transcripts main page


Report: FEMA Official Expects A Long-Term Recovery from Hurricane Florence; Some Residents Of North Carolina Are Going to Ride Out the Storm; Trump Has Been Good for Book Publishing and Sales; Trump's Approval Rating Drops in Many National Polls. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I am Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me this Tuesday afternoon. It could pack the winds of Irma and rain of Harvey. Hurricane Florence is forcing more than a million people to get out of the way.

Take a look at me. Interstate 26 where there's now only one direction in which you can travel and that's far from the coast. Texas suffered through Harvey, Puerto Rico survived Maria, and Florida withstood Irma. Now looks like Hurricane Florence has its eyes on the Carolinas. It is that gargantuan of a storm with that much brute force, and it is forecasted to dump a deluge of rain, possibly 20 inches in some areas. So much water that the risk of flooding extends miles beyond the coast of the Carolinas days into next week.

And that not only affecting what you look at on the screen in places like Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Georgia. More than 20 million face the threat of the storm and more than 1.5 million are right now under a mandatory evacuation. Plus, assuming forecasts are accurate, at this moment, Florence will hit farther north on the east coast than any other category 4 hurricane ever. And FEMA is trying to manage expectations.


JEFF BYARD, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESPONSE AND RECOVERY, FEMA: This storm is not a glancing blow. This storm will be a direct hit. It will be a long time and a long-term recovery when we talk about the affects of Florence. So, this is not going to be a storm we recover from in days. It will take us a good amount of time to do the full recovery.


BALDWIN: Meteorologist Jennifer Grey in the CNN weather center tracking Florence. I know you're getting up-to-date information. You heard that. Officials saying it will take more than days to recover from this thing. What are you hearing?

JENNIFER GREY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. People could be without power days, weeks, months in some extreme locations. We're seeing the latest from hurricane Florence. The latest came out five minutes ago. No change in wind speed. Still 130 miles per hour winds, gusts to 160. It is moving a little faster west-northwest at 17. The previous advisory had it at 16 miles per hour as forward speed. Moving a little quicker. It is a huge storm. You can see the eye, outside the eye, where the strongest winds are. Hurricane force winds extend 40 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds extend 150 miles from the center.

This is expected to remain a category 4, major hurricane until just before making landfall. Could weaken just a little bit because it is going to slow down, but it is not going to matter because this is still going to be a major storm impacting most likely the Carolinas. This track has not deviated much at all. The models are now agreeing. This is not a storm you want to ride out. Not a wait and see where this will go. This is where it will go. You can see the confidence in the cone is big right now. It will be a category 3 likely as it makes landfall and it's just going to sit.

So, we talk about the storms a lot, lot of times we focus on the coast. With this storm, you want to focus on the coast and want to focus on areas inland. We could see huge amounts of rain. 20 inches, 30 inches possible across eastern portions of North Carolina and then 10 to 20 inches far inland, that bright pink is 10 to 20 inches of rain, not to mention the storm surge. As the storm surge pushes inland, it will push up all of the rivers that are inland. It will overfill their banks. We could see extreme flooding, Brooke, in inland locations, not just the coast. Inland folks need to pay close attention to the storm.

BALDWIN: So glad you mentioned it. Track it at Jennifer Grey will be in touch, thank you so much.

In terms of numbers as Jennifer was hitting on, more than a million people in the Carolinas and Virginia under mandatory evacuation orders. In coastal areas specifically, lane reversals are under way on several South Carolina interstates as people are urged to get out now. Let's go to Myrtle Beach. Nick Valencia is there. Nick, the mayor of myrtle beach issued a plea for folks to evacuate. The key question, are people heeding the warning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got off the phone with the congressman that represents this district. He says he believes most people are evacuating, Brooke, from people we have spoken to here, that's not the sentiment we're getting on the ground from folks we're speaking to. Jim Darling is one of the residents that's going to wait it out here. What gives you the confidence?


[14:05:00] JIM DARLING, NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: Not confidence, just been through it before here, and I would rather be home than stuck in a hotel somewhere.

VALENCIA: We heard from a representative of FEMA that said it won't take days to recover, but a long time. It will be a catastrophic storm. The mayor is saying please get out, pleading with you guys to leave. You heard the congressman saying this will be as catastrophic as Hugo. Doesn't worry you? DARLING: Not really, no. Just rather be home, comfortable, got

generators, you know.

VALENCIA: Do you think at all, we covered a lot of storms, Brooke, you covered hurricanes before as well, there's always people that don't leave. They stress that you might even put first responders in jeopardy if they have to help you out. The congressman I just spoke to says there won't be people to help you out in case you need help.

DARLING: Like I said, I am not worried about it. I won't be calling anybody to help me. I can take care of myself.

VALENCIA: You said you are originally from Boston, you lived through blizzards and severe weather before.

DARLING: Storms, 2, 3 feet of snow. Harder with snow than water and rain.

VALENCIA: We are out, we wanted to see preparations that residents are evacuating or sticking around. What essentials did you get?

DARLING: Water, batteries, food, milk. Milk. That's about it.

VALENCIA: Plans for the next couple days as you wait for the storm to make landfall?

DARLING: Watch TV, relax. Get stuff ready around the house.

VALENCIA: We'll be screaming at you to get out. Thanks for taking time. Appreciate it.

DARLING: You're welcome. Have a nice day.


VALENCIA: You heard it, Jim Darling is not alone, Brooke. I have spoken to people all day, residents on the beach this morning when I was on Myrtle Beach. They weren't concerned. They said they have been through storms before, they know about Hugo, were through it in '89. One resident remembers Hurricane Hazel in 1954. A lot of residents here see it as the norm. What the mayor is worried about, it will be a painstaking process for those that are leaving. If you're familiar with the area in Myrtle Beach, there's no major interstate. They're not connected to a major interstate. That means a lot of cars are on two lane highways trying to get out, hopefully not at the same time as we wait for the storm to make landfall.

BALDWIN: Nick, you haven't prepared us for the parrot.

VALENCIA: Yes. I wasn't prepared for that myself. His name is Maximus. He seemed pretty chill to me.

BALDWIN: You seemed chill with the parrot a few inches from you. We wish the man and parrot all of the best. Nick Valencia, thank you.

VALENCIA: We roll with the punches. BALDWIN: Thank you so much. In Myrtle Beach.

A short time ago the governor of North Carolina issued this warning.


ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR, NORTH CAROLINA: I have an urgent message for everyone in North Carolina. And Hurricane Florence will affect each and every one of you. This storm is a monster. It's big and it's vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening historic hurricane.


BALDWIN: With me from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Lisa Pressgraves that lived on the Outer Banks for a whopping 30 years. Lisa, listen, you heard the governor describe the hurricane as vicious, life-threatening. You are staying put, despite this mandatory evacuation. I need to understand why.

LISA PRESSGRAVES, RESIDENT OF KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C.: Well, I have been through a lot of storms and I will leave if absolutely necessary if it gets scary at the last minute. As of now, what I am watching in terms of the forecast, I'm going to go to higher ground. Do the best I can.

BALDWIN: Not the most awesome connection. I think I heard you say you're going to higher ground so you'll be leaving, you live closer to the water. You're going up to higher ground. You're at work now, you're a bartender. How many people are riding this out? You have a full bar there. There you go.

PRESSGRAVES: Got a full bar. Everybody is hanging out. Everybody has stuff prepared. Now we're just waiting for it.

BALDWIN: For people that are watching you from other parts of the country who have never ridden out hurricanes, can you just try to explain to people why you want to take that risk?

[14:10:00] PRESSGRAVES: Well, first of all I have my dogs. That's one of the big reasons. It is hard to take off with them. I don't want to take him away. And a lot of my friends are staying and I don't feel I am in that much danger. We have a generator. Plenty of food. I feel like I'm going to be safe here.

I don't want to take him away. And a lot of my friends are staying and I don't feel I am in that much danger. We have a generator. Plenty of food. I feel like I'm going to be safe here.

BALDWIN: We want your safety. Lisa, thank you so much. We want to be sure we hear from everyone, folks heeding warnings to get out, folks like you that lived in the area 30 years are staying put. Lisa, thank you.

Coming up, we will move away from the hurricane and talk about the president's son, Don Jr. He has been asked whether is frightened of going to jail. And why he says the number of people that trust his father are shrinking fast.

And is President Trump the best thing to happen to the publishing industry as Bob Woodward's book is released, we talk about astronomical sales numbers.

And something isn't adding up in the story of the officer that walked into the wrong apartment and killed the man living there. Hear what she's now claiming about the verbal command she gave him. We'll talk to his family's lawyer representing them, how they're saying something -- is not right. You're watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We are back watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin. Today is the release day for "Fear" by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Woodward, expected to break records online and in bookstores. A spokesperson for the publisher says we reprinted six times to meet extraordinary demand that puts 1 million books in print before we've gone on sale. While the White House has tried mightily to discredit sourcing for the book, the publishing world as a whole has benefitted from Trump's presidency. You look at the best seller list this past month, look at this. The majority of books in the top 15 are critiquing Trump or praising him. Chris Cillizza is here to talk about this. Chris Cillizza, Trump is good for books apparently.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Making book publishing great again. That's a claim that's 100 percent true, Brooke. I want to run through a few things. There are a few different types of books as you note. First of all, I am going to broadly say they're critical books. "Fire and Fury" began the genre, massive seller. "The Comey memoir." You know about Omarosa. Rick Wilson's book, he is a Republican consultant from Florida that's traditional Republican consultant, but anti-Trump. "Everything Trump Touches." This is number one on the "New York Times" best seller list.

And you know that. The dream of every author, a million sales. Largest presale in the history of Amazon. These are big sellers. So too, to the next screen, so are these. You can tell from some of the titles, "The Russia Hoax," "The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton And Frame Donald Trump" might be a little bit more pro-Trump. "Liars, Leakers, And Liberals, The Case Against Anti-Trump Conspiracy." Sean Spicer, and Cory Lewandowski and David Bossie, "Let Trump Be Trump."

All of these sold extremely well. There's a hint as to why. Let's go to the next screen. Look, Donald Trump has 54 million Twitter followers. Any publisher would like an endorsement. The Gregg Jarrett book, the Lewandowski book, Spicer book. Say 20 million of those 54 million are active Twitter. That's a huge, huge endorsement. Just because the president talks good or bad about you doesn't really matter. As you can see, Woodward, Woodward, Woodward, Woodward, Woodward. Donald Trump is perhaps the best example of all press is good press. That's his view. He just wants to be buzzed about. He will take negative press. All of this helped sell that book. Without question. If Donald Trump ignored it as some told him to do, that it would not have sold. It would have sold. May not have sold to the extent it did. So, Donald Trump drives book sales, period, full stop.

BALDWIN: Make America read again. I'm disappointed you don't have a parrot on your shoulder.

CILLIZZA: Maximus, the parrot, made my week. One other point, you said make America read again, make America buy the book again. Buying it and reading it aren't the same thing.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Meanwhile, the president's oldest son is coming to his father's defense. Donald Trump Jr. is talking to ABC news about the Russian investigation, who his father can trust, and about the possibility of serving time over the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your father denied reports that he is worried you might be in legal jeopardy because of the Mueller investigation. Are you scared you could go to jail?

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF THE PRESIDENT: I'm not, I know what I did, I'm not worried about that. That doesn't mean they won't try to create something, we have seen that with everything, again, I'm not.

[14:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some say Mueller is successful, he has an indictment of Manafort, he has a plea deal from Cohen, he has Papadopoulos sentenced. A litany of close associates of your father's under investigation.

TRUMP JR.: All for things that happened way before they were part of any campaign. So, if they get Manafort on a 2006 tax charge, I understand they're trying to get my father, and they'll do anything they can to get that.


BALDWIN: With me now, Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill. And Shannon Pettypiece, White House reporter for Bloomberg News. Welcome to you. Bob, to you first. Does it sound like Don Jr. is almost resigned to the fact that he might go to jail?

BOB CUSACK, EDITOR IN CHIEF OF THE HILL: I'm not sure resigned. He is like his father very defiant, taking a page from his play book going after Robert Mueller saying he will go after him no matter what, they want to get him, and there is a bit of a witch hunt here. I think that troubling times for the president now because the circle of people who have turned on him, Michael Flynn, possibly Manafort, Cohen, his lawyer, this is a troubling fall for Trump. That's why Republicans in Congress are nervous because all of this is happening at the worst time for them.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you as someone that covers the White House day-in and day-out, Don Jr. weighed in on the senior administration official anonymously penning the "The New York Times" piece. This is what Don Jr. said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP JR.: Pretty disgusting, sad. Perhaps a disgruntled person thrown out because they didn't deliver what they were supposed to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the crime?

TRUMP JR.: I think you're subverting the will of the people. To control the presidency while not the president. You have millions and millions of American express that voted. There are people he can trust, it is a smaller group than I would like it to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you trust in.

TRUMP JR.: I'll keep that to myself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they're not family.

DON JR.: I'm talking outside of family, that one goes without saying.


BALDWIN: Shannon, seems the walls are closing in and the White House, who can the president trust? Are his family members the only people left?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER FOR BLOOMBERG NEWS: It has been a shrinking pool of allies. You've had since the early months, I mean, around this time last year that he lost Keith Schiller, and he was Trump's long-time body man. At the time I remember people telling me they felt that could be deeply destabilizing to the president. Keith was someone that was a confidant, friend, first person he would see in the morning outside his family. It has only continued since then. Astounding number of people who we never thought would have left. Hope Hicks, incredibly loyal to the president left.

And then there's people he thought he could trust who now you see excerpts in books, Bob Woodward's book, Gary Cohen, I think it reaffirms this belief the president had from the beginning that family is the only people you can trust. That was something that was instilled in him by his father, coming up through a family business. Certainly, when you look at the president and who is left standing behind him, it is his family and the vice president. I would note there's still a sense in the White House that the vice president is one of the few people left that the president can trust, and of course can't really go anywhere, whether the president likes it or not.

BALDWIN: Sure. So, from who the president can trust to how much trust the American people have in this president, there was this dramatic drop in the president's approval rating. It wasn't just CNN, 8 high quality polls have been completed in the past two weeks, and every one of them has Trump's approval rating falling. What do you attribute this to?

[14:25:00] CUSACK: I think several things, Brooke. Those numbers are bad. This is a Trump slump here. I think the anonymous op-ed, Bob Woodward book and the booming economy, I think the John McCain death. Trump down the stretch in campaign rallies, he took shots at him for voting against the Obamacare bill, and that I think did not sit well, especially you had all of the dignitaries at the McCain funeral, including former presidents and vice presidents, but Trump was not invited. I think that's all boiled in. You look at the generic battle of voters, they think Democrat or Republican, who are they voting for, that's a double-digit lead for Democrats. We have a long way to go for the election, and the senate map is Republican friendly. Odds are Republicans hold the senate, the house looks more and more like it is going to flip.

I would add to that, Brooke, talking to people in the field working on midterm campaigns, this immigration, family separation issue. People told me working on campaigns that that was a real breaking point for a lot of people. That still resonates. They said don't underestimate that, seems like ancient history with the stuff that happened between now and then, family separation issue resonated with a lot of people. Of course, too, it comes down to a battle of turnout. If the 36 percent of supporters turn out, Republicans could do OK.

BALDWIN: They say voter opinion to the president have been linked how they vote midterms. Perhaps as you point out, Republicans should be nervous at least on the house side. We will watch how it plays out. Thank you to you both.

Meantime, on high alert. Several states bracing for hurricane Florence as it gets closer and closer to the coast. Millions in the bull's eye. I talk to a hurricane hunter on the beach next.

And 17 years after the September 11 terror attacks, where is the leader of al Qaeda, the terrorist that helped plot attacks with Osama Bin Laden. There's a new message from him today.