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Hurricane Florence Heads for East Coast. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 10:30   ET



RENE MARSH, CNN: FEMA saying yes that transfer of money occurred, but none of that money came from the pot of money that is designated for responding to hurricanes like the hurricane that we are looking at now, Florence. They say that they believe and they are pretty confident that they have enough funds to handle what Florence will deal. Take a listen.


JEFF BYARD, FEMA OFFICIAL: As far as the DRF, we're healthy. I don't have the exact numbers, but I do know that we're healthy in the DRF and we have no concerns as far as recovery on that.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Do you have a ballpark at least?

BYARD: It's well over 20 billion, so we're healthy on that.


MARSH: All right, so you heard there, the DRF, the Disaster Relief Fund, they say they have over $20 billion there in the fund to respond to this storm and any other storm that follows behind.

Also, Poppy, they are watching some nine toxic sites that threaten to release toxic chemicals in this area. They are in the path of the storm, so they are watching that closely. We're talking about former industrial sites, military sites, so that is another issue as we talk about that storm surge.

So lots of factors that FEMA is currently paying close attention to as that storm gets closer. Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN: Yes, I know -- know the EPA had been alerting and been concerned about those nine sites and sort of what a storm of this magnitude could do to them and do the environment as a result.

Rene, thanks for all the great reporting there from FEMA Headquarters in Washington.

You have residents along the Eastern Seaboard, some of whom are ignoring all of these warnings to get out, to evacuate. That includes longtime Hatteras Island resident Lou Browning. He's also the founder of a wildlife rehabilitation organization there, and one of his big concerns is his animals. How does he get them out? He joins me now on the phone. Lou, can you hear me?


HARLOW: Lou, thank you for being here, and we're looking at this monster storm as is barrels right towards you guys. You are not going to leave. Why?

BROWNING: I'm well prepared for it. I understand the -- the consequences and the dangers. I consider it in some ways a little more dangerous to deal with the traffic, but also I have a number of patients in wildlife rehab that it's very stressful for them to travel, to -- to change places. It's also difficult to find someplace to take them to.

HARLOW: You know, that is one of the big concerns, is -- you know, is what you do with -- with your animals. I know that's, you know, the big reason why you are staying and -- is that you can't transport a lot of them.

We just heard from the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, who said, you know, everyone needs to download this Ready NC app, and there are details there on what to do with pets, et cetera. As we look at some of the -- some of the animals on your reserve, I mean, do -- do you think it's safe to stay at this point in time? Because that is, you know, counter to what all of the officials are saying.

BROWNING: Yes, I think it is for us, because we're a lot better prepared than most people. I've been going through storms for close to 40 years, and have worked with fire and rescue and emergency management over the years, and so, you know, when -- when we prepare, we keep, you know, enough to sustain us for a month or so on hand. We're high. We're in good structures.

But also, we try not to do stupid things, and -- which is where a lot of people get hurt. You know, so we stay in during the storm and so forth.

HARLOW: Well, but -- but -- but -- but Lou, I mean you know that -- we even heard the president say yesterday this could -- you know, this could be, you know, the worst storm we've seen in decades if not ever to hit the Carolina coastline. You know, do -- do you think about, "Look, this could be different this time. We've ridden out a lot of storms, but this one may be different"?

BROWNING: I think it will be different. I think the coast has eroded so much that we're going to see very severe erosion, and I'm more worried about road damage and the island being cut up into vulnerable areas. I'm more worried about that than the wind at this point.

HARLOW: OK, look, again, the warning is to evacuate. Ultimately it is up to you guys what you decide to do. Whatever your final decision is, we hope you're safe. Lou Browning, thank you.

BROWNING: You're welcome.

HARLOW: All right, so the president says that the government is, in his words, fully prepared for the impact of Hurricane Florence, and he also weighed in on Hurricane Maria. He has certainly not forgotten about that, almost a year ago. And he is applauding his own administration, patting himself on the back for what he calls an incredible unsung success there. But the facts dispute that.



HARLOW: Alright as hurricane Florence barrels toward the eastern seaboard President Trump say's we'll handle it. A few men (ph) and other first responders are full prepared according to the president. While also reminding all of us what he deems to be a quote "A+ federal response" to last year's hurricanes. And repeating his hotly disputed claim that the Fed's did a quote "great, but unappreciated job in Puerto Rico" in the after math of the devastation of hurricane Maria.


Yesterday the president went even further. He called Puerto Rico quote "an incredible unsung success". This is not most people's idea of an incredible success. 2,975 deaths tied to Maria and its aftermath. Electricity still not 100 percent restored on Puerto Rico as of mid August. The government itself now says more than half of the FEMA workers sent into the field there last fall were quote "unqualified".

That wasn't intentional. The agency was stretched, and strapped, and depleted by multiple storms and wildfires. So says he governments own accountability report. They came out just last week. Yet the president still say's other wise, with me now our Political Director David Chalian, and from Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason.

Good morning gentlemen, and David to you, if it's one thing in not to admit a mistake. It is another thing to call the biggest bar on, let's pull it up, this graphic, we'll bring it up in a moment, that 2,975 deaths an incredible success. I mean is this just spin and bluster or something more?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You know this is the president as he does sometimes just creating an entirely alternate universe where he believes he has done great and deserves a pat on the back. And just makes no acknowledgement of reality. And of course the irony of making this statement about nearly 3,000 American's dying and calling it one of the best jobs ever that's been done in this realm of dealing with storms by FEMA and the federal government.

Of course on the same day where you're commemorating the loss of American life on the anniversary of September 11th, was an irony as well. But it just seemed lost on the president entirely. That perhaps when 3,000 American's die due to a storm and it's aftermath that perhaps the response was not as great as it could have been.

HARLOW: I just think Jeff, you can not overstate American. These are American citizens, right, that he's talking about when he talks about this incredible response on Puerto Rico. I mean can you imagine if he were saying the same, if the same thing happened in say North Carolina, or say South Carolina, where this storm is barreling toward right now. I mean will there be repercussions for the presidents comments on things like this say in 55 day's in the midterms?

JEFF MASON, REUTERS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well that's a good question. It's hard to say whether there will be repercussions on that. I mean there are so many issues that are effecting the election in November. But I think it underscores what people who oppose the president don't like about him. And certainly that will perhaps help energize some of the democrats in those states.

But you're right. I don't think you can underscore enough the fact that these are Americans. Nor can you spend enough time emphasizing that outrageous number of some 3,000 deaths. And I think the way David mentioned the irony of discussing it on September 11th was spot on, because of course we know how tragically nearly 3,000 people died in that awful, awful event.

Well you know nearly 3,000 died in Puerto Rico because of this storm.


MASON: It's a huge number. And it's a huge tragedy and it is difficult for the president to admit when something didn't go as well as he would have liked it to have gone.

HARLOW: But we're talking about American lives, right?

MASON: Absolutely.

HARLOW: And what's the facts show? David to you I want to turn the corner here. We have some new CNN polling out just this morning and some numbers that are really telling. This is falling on the Russia probe. And it compares how people feel about how the presidents handling, and how the Special Council Bob Mueller's handling it. And Muller comes out on top on this one 50 percent there.

50 percent approve of how he's handling it. Verses 30 percent who approve of how the president is handling it. Trumps approval rating on the Russia probe has gone down four points, you know, since August. And Mueller's has gone up three points.

CHALIAN: I mean that 20 point gap there about how each man is handling this Russia investigation is huge. Not only has - is Mueller hitting a 50 percent which he's never been that high before.


CHALIAN: This is an uptake of the last couple of months that we've seen now despite the Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump onslaught to ruin his credibility. But that 20 point gap, when this comes down to a report get's issued and as Giuliani said there going to issue there report. Mono e mono Trump verses Mueller, clearly in the eyes of the American people Mueller is the evangel (ph).

The one thing I do want to point out here, is independent voters. That is where this movement is come from Mueller, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, that's true. That's a good point.

CHALIAN: And among independents he's gone up six points since last month.


CHALIAN: Among democrats and republicans he's remained constant. But this is what happens when you pursue a base strategy.

HARLOW: Right.

CHALIAN: A FOX News base strategy that Giuliani and Trump are pursing. You leave some of the independents behind to flee you. And that's what's happening here.

HARLOW: And you know the thinking may be - and you know among the Trump camp.


Look, it worked in 2016 because those independents got on board for -- for many different reasons, right? But...

CHALIAN: He -- he won the independents, yes?

HARLOW: Right, right, but will he -- exactly. But look at what the CNN polling from earlier this week showed, Jeff Mason. It showed that 17 point decline in independents for -- for the president. If you're the president, you're Rudy Giuliani, you're looking at Mueller's approval rating up nine points since June, what are you thinking?

MASON: Well, I think that that has to be a cause for concern for them, and I think as you -- as you mention, those independents swinging towards then-candidate Trump in 2016 could absolutely swing the other way in the midterms. Many -- many voters, some of those independents in 2016, had voted for Barack Obama in the two elections that he won, so they are certainly capable of swinging, and with the...


MASON: ...approval ratings for the president as -- as low as they are, and these statistics that you're showing about Mueller being higher, that has to be cause for concern within the Trump circle.

HARLOW: Yes, no question. All right gentlemen, thank you both for being with me on both of those fronts.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Poppy (ph).

HARLOW: David Chalian, Jeff Mason, quick break, we're back next.




HARLOW: This morning we are learning more about the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by his neighbor who is white and who is a Dallas police officer. Officer Amber Geiger is charged with man slaughter in the death of Botham Shem Jean. Two witnesses have reportedly come forward now and are telling attorneys for Jean's family that they heard knocking on the apartment door before hearing those gun shots that were fired the night that Jean was killed; this as we get new video of the police officer pacing up and down the corridor there right after the shooting happened. Let's go to my colleague, Ryan Young who is following these developments for us from Dallas. I mean the background here, people have been following the story, is that it was the belief apparently the officer's attorneys are saying that she thought that was her apartment, right, that she walked into. But it wasn't; it was his and she killed him.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so many questions about this even from the people who live in the apartment complex just behind me. Of course, she lived in the level right below his apartment, but so many questions. Now you have those two witnesses who are talking to the family attorney who say they heard knocking, they heard yelling and then they heard those shots being fired.

Of course, this is probably as close as we get because obviously, Mr. Jean cannot talk about what happened there. But then other people from the apartment complex are still telling us the way the doors here work is basically you have to have a special key. You see every label as you walk towards the door and the doors shut very strongly because of the spring system that's on there. So you have so many questions about this. On top of that, investigators say it is now in the hands of the D.A.'s office.

There is no timeline for when this investigation will end. What we do know is according to Amber Geiger is that she got off on the wrong floor and as she walked toward this apartment and she thought somebody was inside her apartment and when the man didn't comply with her commands, she opened fire and that's left so many people with questions. On top of that, there was a peaceful protest just a few nights ago and an officer from the Dallas Police Department apparently discharged some pepper spray balls towards that crowd. That has angered so many people here because it was a peaceful protest. The chief says they will investigate that, as well, to figure out why that happened. Poppy, so many questions in this case, of course, with no timeline, we will have to wait and see what happens next.

HARLOW: And the family of Botham Shem Jean asking for answers and asking for justice. Thank you for being there and for that update Ryan, I appreciate it.

Ahead, our breaking news, we are staying all over Hurricane Florence which is being called the "storm of a lifetime." Our breaking news coverage continues next.


VAUSE: Well what is and what isn't racist? Well to many an Israel county in Australia sparks outrage (inaudible) three, and with is Serena Williams. But the Brad Drewett (ph) and his employers are doubling down as the team sought out racism but rather behavior. Reporter Brent McCloud tells this one.


BRENT MCCLOUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of Australians most popular cartoonists drawing fire from the world's most popular orphan.

MARK KNIGHT, CARTOONIST: Well done on reducing one of the greatest sports woman alive to racist and sexist tromps. To have J.K. Rowling trolling me is well, it's something I didn't expect in life.

MCCLOUD: Harry Potter writer just one of thousands who've taken to social media condemning this depiction of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open. A reaction that the cartoonist didn't anticipate.

KNIGHT: One of the greatest of all time, who I have admired and drawn many times having a dummy speech. And I can say that when I drew the cartoon it was like yes, that's not bad and off it went.

MCCLOUD: The U.S. Association of Black Journalists referenced a racist past when it called it a repugnant cartoon which exudes racist and sexist characters of both women. But Williams depiction is unnecessarily Sambo like.

KNIGHT: Her facial expressions are one of somebody having a dummy speech. I don't know how I could have done it any other way.

DERRYN HINCH, AUSTRALIAN: I support him on it. It's a great cartoon and I don't think there's any racism here at all.

MCCLOUD: Mark Knight has the support of his news corps chiefs who dismissed the online attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this world of perpetual out rage where people are looking for victim hood, nothing surprises me.

MCCLOUD: The daughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King called that response unfortunate with their consideration for the painful historically context of such imagery.

KNIGHT: Look I'd say in my defense I've done - I'm not a racist. I've done cartoons supporting Adam Goodes and his bluing (ph) situation.

MCCLOUD: As Mark Knight goes back to the drawing board he says he won't be referencing himself in tomorrows cartoon. But he may rethink just what he depicts in future drawings. And not just because of the response he's been getting.

KNIGHT: My family are worried and upset at the threats that we're getting. Is it going to affect me in the future? Maybe it will, maybe I will have to pull my punches.

MCCLOUD: He'll leave the last word to his famous cartoon Pete.

KNIGHT: What have you gone and done now?

MCCLOUD: Brent McCloud, 9 News.


VAUSE: You've been watching CNN "Newsroom" live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. The news continues on CNN right after this.


HARLOW: Hurricane Florence is still barreling towards the Eastern seaboard. Its impact being felt on college football. Lindsay Czarniak is with me for more on this morning's Bleacher Report. It seems like they play no matter what; they just have to move.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's really hard to tell because it doesn't take that much severe weather to impact a game, right, but that's why I think a lot of schools wait but there are a lot of schools monitoring or making adjustments. My alma mater, James Madison University in Virginia, they moved their home opener to tomorrow night instead of Saturday.

This Bleacher Report brought to you by Ford, going further so you can. So, here is a look at big moves that have been made already. Thirteenth-ranked Virginia Tech's home game against East Carolina has been cancelled after East Carolina notified Tech the team just could not travel.

N.C. State's game against number 14, West Virginia will not be played. UCF's trip to North Carolina has been postponed. Meanwhile Virginia has moved its home game against Ohio from Charlottesville to Nashville, so some schools able to move it if they can. Because of the storm, Duke's football team will travel to Baylor tomorrow morning, a day earlier than planned. Players and coaches saying they will be thinking about their friends and family back home.


JOHNATHAN LLOYD, DUKE UNIVERSITY WIDE RECEIVER: We don't want to be in the middle of a storm but we -- our prayers and thoughts are with those left behind and the people who are going to be affected by it more so than we are; we will be away. We hope that nothing too catastrophic happens and that everybody is well once we get back.


CZARNIAK: And in the pros Poppy, it looks like the only game that could come into question is the Washington Redskins. They are at home this weekend and so they do expect that they're going to be able to play, but also there is a lot of severe weather being called for that area, so we'll have to wait and see.

Finally to baseball as we turn to on the field action. A Cardinals' fan displaying what I would say is both incredible skill and also massive risk. No problem for him not bringing a glove to the ballpark because this guy caught a foul ball one-handed with his baby in the other hand. I mean, I don't know man, that's a little too dangerous for me but that was some serious defense. If that wasn't enough to make him happy the Cardinals went on to win. They beat the Pirates 11 to 5, but I mean that is some serious skill, right?

HARLOW: Look at that baby, all giggles.

CZARNIAK: I know so sweet.

HARLOW: Now they have to put it in one of those glass things and put it in the nursery.

CZARNIAK: Yes, what a memory, absolutely.

HARLOW: All right, good job, dad. Lindsay, thanks for being here. I appreciate it. We will keep an eye on all these games.

Thank you for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York at this hour. Kate Baldwin starts now.