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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Thousands Expected to Attend Trump Balcony Speech at White House Tomorrow Despite Previous Outbreak; Presidential Debate Officially Cancelled after Trump Refuses Virtual Format; Hurricane Delta Makes Landfall In Louisiana; Six Men Arraigned In Plot To Kidnap Michigan Governor; Attorney General Barr Quick To Condemn Leftist Groups, Mum On Kidnapping Plot. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 9, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, well, Mayor Bartie, I appreciate your time. I hope that tonight, everyone is okay. And it's not so destructive for you. Thank you again, sir.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. We continue to follow this story and others. Let's hand it over to AC 360.

[20:00:29]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Talk about insatiable appetites for the President it seems, one super spreader event just isn't enough. John Berman here in for Anderson.

We're also covering Hurricane Delta as it makes landfall on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. We are looking at Lake Charles and we'll bring you a live report from there very shortly.

We begin though with the manmade disaster now unfolding as the President of the United States grapples with rising COVID numbers, falling poll numbers and what could be fading prospects for re- election.

For days now the President who, after all has the poker face of a neon sign has been telegraphing his frustration at all of it, along with his craving for the adulation he just can't get from taping infomercials on the South Lawn.

So tomorrow, if all goes to plan, hundreds of supporters will be standing on the grass there -- hundreds. The President we're told will be up on the balcony "Evita" style, so he'll be a safe distance from them, which is more than they will be from each other at the White House no less. Hundreds of people, two weeks to the day since the ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett, where all the people you see in the picture highlighted have since contracted COVID.

And today, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the affair what it truly was.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We had a super spreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: A super spreader event says Dr. Fauci to which his fellow Taskforce member Dr. Deborah Birx added and I'm quoting here, "The only thing that will prevent the next wave is us, is us doing the responsible thing in public spaces and private spaces." It sounds like she didn't get the memo from a certain Commander-in-Chief or the note from his doctor clearing him for public appearances, even though the C.D.C. says that patients who have been admitted to a hospital and given oxygen may need to isolate for up to 20 days.

As for the rest of the content, well, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta who joins us in just a minute had this to say to Anderson last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no temperature on here for somebody who has an infection. And that's key because that's the -- not having a temperature is one of the criteria for starting to come out of isolation.

They don't even mention the temperature here. Instead they say that he has a trajectory -- he has advanced diagnostics in the right trajectory. I don't even know what that means. I mean, what tests -- are those tests -- so it's purposely vague and it's disappointing, because again, if you want to -- if you want to present information, then do it. Otherwise, you're presenting this stuff that sort of gibberish and hard to translate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Bottom line, we don't know the President's medical condition. We don't know if he has tested negative for COVID recently since leaving the hospital. He evaded that question on FOX last night. Oh, and he had to stop twice to cough and clear his throat during the process.

We also don't know when the last time was that he tested negative before he got ill. Now, it might be academic for him from a medical standpoint, but not for dozens or hundreds of others who would be helped by contact tracing, and would also clue the public in as to whether he knowingly kept campaigning and holding events while infected.

Again today, the White House stonewalled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: When was his last negative test, you said you don't have that. You don't know or you don't want to say.

BRIAN MORGENSTERN, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, we don't have that. There's -- well, I don't personally know.

HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Wait. What does that mean?

MORGENSTERN: There are --

JACKSON: Have you asked, Brian? I think Wednesday, you said you were going to look into that.

MORGENSTERN: So Hallie, the president doesn't check all of his HIPAA rights at the door just when he becomes President. The doctors obviously share fulsome information with the President. The President shares a great deal of information with the American public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He said a lot more after that, but never answered the question. And when you think if everything is going well, and all the tests are coming back great. Once you think this President of all people would be eager to have it out there, wouldn't he be shouting it from the nearest balcony? At the nearest super spreader site?

Well, lacking a balcony and crowd, today, the President went on Rush Limbaugh, who provided him with a surreal and phony substitute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: And greetings to you music lovers, thrill seekers, and conversationalists all across the fruited plain. Welcome to the Rush Limbaugh program.

Mr. President, it is a distinct honor and privilege to have you with us and I want you to do something for me sir.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go ahead.

[20:10:01]

LIMBAUGH: I want you to imagine you have just landed in a gleaming majestic Air Force One to the largest radio rally in history instead of thousands cheering as you walk up to the stage, there are millions and millions of patriots out there right now, anxiously awaiting to hear from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So the President needed his sugar, and even though it was only Splenda, the dose was enough to get him talking for the next 111 minutes. He ran through the usual insults, aired many of the usual grievances, and made many of the same false allegations about mail-in voting.

What stood out, though, was how eager he was to use any tool at a President's disposal -- any -- to win. Here he is reacting to news that the Justice Department's report on the Russia probe would not be out before Election Day?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: If that's the case, I'm very disappointed. I think it's a terrible thing, and I'll say it to his face.

See, this is what I mean with the Republicans. They don't play the tough game. They don't play the tough game. If this were the other side, you would have had 25 people in jail for the rest of their lives with what we found.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: So there he is, directly framing what is supposed to be the impartial administration of justice in the country as just another tool to be used in hardball politics.

Look, if 240 years has taught us anything, it's that politics ain't beanbag. But by the same token, politics ain't that. Not here.

But if that kind of thinking and talking concerns you as it should concern us all, there is another way of looking at it, for as much as the President seems to be dreaming of a brave new world, so much of his focus is in the rearview mirror. Not on the election, the polls suggest he is losing; but on the election, he won and the candidate he beat.

Listen to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've got the e-mails, we're getting them out. We're going to get all this information out so the American people can see it.

You'll remember, there was classified information on a private server, it should have never been there. Hillary Clinton should never have done that. It was unacceptable behavior. It's not the kind of thing that leaders do.

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: The President has the authority to declassify anything he wants. All authority is to him. Could he declassify it and order it released if he wanted to? And if he ordered?

POMPEO: Absolutely, we're going to get there. We're going to get this information out so the American people can see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Boy, that's really going to sink Hillary Clinton's chances. But it has nothing to do with 213,000 Americans dead of COVID, nothing to do with millions out of work, kids not in school. The President about to hold another super spreader event.

And frankly, nothing to do with the election. This election, less than a month away.

More now from CNN's Jim Acosta, at the White House. Jim, this mass event on the lawn, what kind of safety protocols is the White House going to have in place because we're just learning that what -- 2,000 people have been invited.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, but we're not sure how many of those people will actually show up. You know, there is sort of a buyer beware element to this event on the South Lawn of the White House tomorrow.

We're told about, you know, hundreds of people should show up, and in terms of safety precautions, we're told by the White House that they do plan on doing coronavirus tests here. It'll be those rapid tests that are sometimes unreliable.

They are they're going to require people they say to wear masks. Of course, they don't have a great track record in that regard. I can tell you, I saw administration officials walking around on the grounds today not wearing their masks, and so on.

And so, you know, this is the potential -- I don't think you're overstating it, John -- there is a potential that this will be yet another super spreader event, even on the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci is talking about the last super spreader event here at the White House.

BERMAN: And as I said, he has an insatiable appetite, it seems for such events because he is planning on holding a rally in Florida on Monday as well. What can you tell us about that?

ACOSTA: Right, that's going to be in Sanford, Florida in Orlando. As you know, John, Central Florida is going to be hugely important if Donald Trump wants to win the State of Florida that's crucial to his quest for reelection.

But we're hearing, you know, from our sources that potentially the President could have an event every day next week or that he is striving to have an event every day next week, even though tonight, John, keep in mind, we have not gotten a letter from Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician. We have no indication from the President's team of doctors as to whether or not he is in any condition to do any of this.

It just seems they're going to throw him out on the balcony and try to get the band back together even though he potentially could still be spreading the coronavirus.

BERMAN: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Please stay safe there. Appreciate you being with us.

ACOSTA: Will do.

BERMAN: Joining us now, David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, along with CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay two weeks to the day after an event that Dr. Fauci has now called a super spreader event at the White House, a mass gathering at the same place. Medically speaking, how reckless is that?

[20:10:02]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a gathering of people in the middle of a pandemic. It happens to be at a residence where they just had a super spreader event.

There may be still people there who have more recently contracted the virus even beside the President, who could be contagious. So you know, it was reckless before the President got hospitalized for COVID and it is still reckless.

I mean, you know, it doesn't matter what the group of people are coming together for. The virus doesn't care. It just loves the idea of people getting close together and clustering like that, because it can jump from host to host to host. So it's a terrible idea.

And again, even if the President is distanced, what about the other people? The White House staff that may have been exposed to this virus even over the last couple of days now? And we just have no idea what sort of protections they have had.

BERMAN: based on what Jim Acosta just reported, Sanjay, what's your take on the protocols in place for keeping the people safe there?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I mean, if you think about it, we sort of gone through this a few times, right? Testing is, I mean, testing can be very important overall, but the idea of using it like this, and then telling, you know, making it okay that people don't have to wear masks, they can still not physically distance, not abide by the basic public health stuff doesn't -- it doesn't -- that doesn't work that way.

The real value of a test is if it comes back positive, then you know, you need to isolate. If it comes back negative, first of all, it could be a false negative. But if it comes back negative, you still have to abide by those public health guidelines. It's just that you don't have to isolate.

You know, you could still come in contact with the virus or you, yourself could be carrying the virus and the test just hasn't picked it up yet.

BERMAN: David Gergen, I just saw for the first time that 2,000 people were invited to this event, 2,000 people, and if that's going to be the number, even if it's half that, they're going to be packed in cheek to jowl there. How irresponsible is this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not just reckless, John, it's morally reckless. He is asking people to make a choice. I'm going to invite you to the White House, you want to come to the White House? You can see me -- see me talking. But you may put your health at risk.

We've had over 30 people who have come to White House events since the President was hospitalized, who have now come down with COVID, over 20 people are in the President's inner circle. How many more people must be struck down by this before the President comes to his senses? It really raises a question, John, as he comes out of the hospital

just five days ago, whether his judgment is impaired, certainly being up on a balcony, recalling the scenes from Eva Peron, and Mussolini and how they took to the balcony. This has all the makings of what strongmen do and it's very disturbing.

BERMAN: Abby Phillip, is there no one in that building who can tell the President this is a bad idea or steer him in a different direction?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Clearly not. I mean, the President has done a number of things that don't make any sense for someone who is recovering from a contagious virus. Not the least of which is, you know, coming home from the hospital immediately going up into the top of the balcony to record a promo video and taking his mask off in the presence of other people, and then he insists on working from the Oval Office, when as President, he can literally work from anywhere.

Look, this is a President who wants to do what he wants to do and he is surrounded by aides who will let him, and on top of that, I think what we will see tomorrow, and with a lot of the other events next week is just a President who wants adulation.

He wants large crowds, as many people as possible. But there are real potential consequences to that. As Sanjay pointed out, we just learned today that, you know, nine people who attended one of his rallies in Minnesota have contracted the coronavirus.

I mean, people are in fact getting sick and this is not registering to the President or the people around him. But what's politically reckless about this event tomorrow is that all it does is just remind people that the President wants to flout the rules that other people are living by.

BERMAN: And Sanjay as Abby said, it's not just the event of the White House tomorrow. It's a rally in Florida on Monday. Jim Acosta reports the President wants to do one in-person every day this week.

We saw a rally with Donald Trump, Jr. in Florida yesterday, people were packed inside a room unmasked there. Even if they're outside, they're not wearing masks, and they're sitting together closely. This just seems to completely flout the C.D.C. guidelines in the middle of a pandemic.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, history is not going to judge these events very kindly at all, John. As you know, the thing about Florida too, is that Florida is a place that has essentially opened up. I mean, you know, the pandemic is over, I think, as far as you know, Governor DeSantis is concerned.

And, you know, I mean, that makes it much more likely that if you were going to go to a rally like that, that you're going to come in contact with someone who is carrying the virus. You know, you could start to actually do the math on this, but when you start looking at a certain trajectory of viral spread, it starts to really amplify itself, so it is no longer linear growth. It goes into exponential growth and these rallies, as we've seen at the White House can turn into a super spreader event.

Many, many people then infected going back to their homes and going back to their communities. It's a huge problem. I mean, you know, we are understandably making a big deal about the remarkable pace of medical innovation with this vaccine, and it's worth celebrating. But we can't get the basics right. If we can't get the basics right, the hard stuffs going to be really hard to get done.

[20:15:29]

BERMAN: David Gergen, not for nothing. This is a political event at the White House tomorrow, which means the President can't technically violate the Hatch Act. But really, we saw a convention speech there, this just goes to show he'll let nothing get in the way of busting norms.

GERGEN: He is obsessed with winning re-election. It's all about self- respect. It is whether he is going to be humiliated or not, and I understand why his strategists think, hey, you've got to go to Florida. You know, Biden has inched ahead there. If you lose Florida, there's just almost no path to the presidency. So you've got to go to Florida.

We've got to understand why he has been told that. But he is the guy who has to make the calls and make some final decisions. It's up to him, and that's why I say when his judgment is impaired, I think that's increasingly dangerous for the country.

And I do think, John, increasingly, it becomes apparent that before people go to the polls on November 3rd, both Biden and Trump must come forward with their health records. It's imperative that people can turn to and can get those records turned to Sanjay and say, what does this all mean, Sanjay? How dangerous is it we elect this person for the next four years?

BERMAN: To Abby's point, it's not just bad public health, but it's just -- it's hard to see it as anything other than bad politics. Also, why keep showing this picture to people as Abby was pointing out?

Sanjay, big picture on the pandemic now. We're seeing record high hospitalizations in 10 states. We're seeing case numbers rise. How concerning is this?

GUPTA: This is particularly concerning, John. I mean, you know, one thing -- we talk about this in terms of people who have been infected, people who have sadly died, people who have recovered, but you know, the impact in terms of what happens to people in the interim, you know, people get sick, and you start to project what are the hospital bed requirements going to become as we go into the winter months? And what do we really have?

So take a look here, we found this sort of buried into the I.H.M.E. models, but what you find is that purple line there sort of shows what the hospital beds sort of demand may be as we go into the end of the year. When you do the math on that, you'll find that it starts to significantly exceed what we actually have in terms of hospital beds.

I think we have one more graphic here, if we can just show in the country right now. Where are we right now hospital capacity? There you go. The darker the color, the fuller the hospitals are in those states, some of them well over 70 percent, John, and we haven't even really gotten into the bulk of flu season yet.

Add into that COVID, and we're running into trouble and a lot of planners from around the country have been calling me, talking to me about this. They say they're looking at convention halls and buildings. It's going to be cold outside. They've got to find places that could potentially serve as hospital facilities.

I know we've gone through this before. We talked about this back in April. We're going to talk about it again here in the next few weeks.

BERMAN: Look, it's worse than it was one week ago. I shudder to think where it will be one week from now. David Gergen, Abby Phillip, Sanjay, thank you very much.

So someone who has seen the President up close day in and day out, what Tony Schwartz, author of the book that made Donald Trump a household name makes of him now and throughout the hour, live reports from the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Delta, you can see it right there comes ashore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:22:13]

BERMAN: So not only are we talking about the President's eagerness to hold what could be another super spreader event, a huge one, there is also a sudden eagerness to make a deal with congressional Democrats on another round of economic relief. That's after walking away from the talks on Tuesday.

Sure, it doesn't sound like anything from the pages of the "Art of the Deal," but we've got the book's author Tony Schwartz with us in any case. More recently, he has written "Dealing with the Devil: My Mother, Trump and Me."

Tony, it's always great to see you. I've been dying to talk to you about this, because in the last week, we've seen things that I think to the layman are hard to explain. The President backed out of a debate he needs, a losing candidate needs more debates, not fewer. He walked away from a debate.

The President walked away from stimulus negotiations that might help them politically, unilaterally walked away and announced it and now has come crawling back. You say, he is in pure fight or flight mode. Can you explain that?

TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR: Well, what's happened is that he is feeling a sense of terror. He believes, I believe that he believes he's going to lose this election and that is making him crazy. He is fearful of the loss. He is fearful of being seen as a loser. He is fearful of losing his power and his sense of control, and he lives to be in control.

So this is a time when he -- if you think about how you feel when you're really anxious or you're really upset, you lose connection to your brain, specifically to your prefrontal cortex and what happens is you're driven by your emotions, by your amygdala. That's exactly what's happening with him.

And all of those things you've mentioned, can be explained by the fact that there isn't anything rational going on. There's simply survival instincts playing out.

BERMAN: So he does or doesn't think that these decisions will help him? Because that's what I can't figure out. Right? He was -- this debate, you would think would be one of the few things that might be able to get him back in this race, but he walks away. So why do something that will ultimately hurt you?

SCHWARTZ: So he does it out of an impulse as he does almost everything, and the impulse is to prove how powerful he is, so I'll walk away from the debate. And then he gets flooded with evidence, it is not a good idea and so he flips again, and says, well, I'll do the other debate or, you know, some way of trying to -- trying to flip the equation after he has done it, but it's the impulse that arises first and the impulse is always, always to feel better about himself.

BERMAN: Incidentally, how capable do you think he would be or will he be maybe in the last debate that would be two weeks from now in behaving differently than he did in the first debate?

[20:25:05]

SCHWARTZ: That's a great question. And I think I think actually, he will be hurt by it. It's sort of a no win situation, because on the one hand, if he doesn't debate, he's losing, perhaps the only opportunity he has to once again make his case to the public. On the other hand, if he does do the debate, and we look at what's happened before, and how upset he is, the odds are he will do further damage to himself.

So I think what he is feeling is that this is slipping away from him day by day, and he sees it as a verdict on his life.

BERMAN: What about the stimulus negotiations? What did they tell you? The fact that he walked away and is now going back, I mean, it's not the strongest negotiating position.

SCHWARTZ: Well forget that. He wasn't thinking about a negotiating position. He walked away once again, because he wanted to demonstrate that he could do whatever he wanted to. Damn it.

He came back, because once again, there was a terrible response, first of all, from the stock market, but also from, you know, people he respects or if he doesn't respect, he thinks that they're on his side. And he flipped, because they made the case and he then, a little quieter, internally, he then recognized, oh, my God, giving the stimulus is a positive for me. But when he said, I'm walking away, he wasn't thinking.

BERMAN: What's your take on the event tomorrow at the White House inviting 2,000 people to the site, essentially of a super spinner event two weeks ago, where he will address them from a balcony?

SCHWARTZ: I felt what I'm about to say for a long time, but I've never actually said it out loud. He is Jim Jones now. He is inviting people to the White House to you know, drink the Kool-Aid and die.

I mean, this is where we've gotten. He has a cult following. They are brainwashed. His own -- the people around him are brainwashed. And quite frankly, John, if I were standing across from him right now, I would be frightened.

He never frightened me. But I would be frightened, because you watch what he did with Biden where he just rolled on him. He just -- he just kept coming at him. That is -- and I had this experience -- very, very hard to resist.

So he is going to bring in those people and he is going to subject them to, you know, a terrible outcome.

BERMAN: You wrote on Twitter recently, and I follow you, as many people do. You said, "Trump seems determined to ensure his defeat by a landslide." What do you think the next 25 days are going to look like?

SCHWARTZ: I quote William Goldman, the screenwriter that nobody knows anything. It will change 15 times. There will be many, many more unexpected events that will all jump up and start all that. I do believe -- nobody wants to say this and I apologize for being the exception, but I do believe he is going to lose.

I do believe he's going to lose by a huge margin. Democrats don't want to say that.

But I do believe that's what's going to happen. I think he is right. It has slipped away.

BERMAN: Tony Schwartz, we'll see. Twenty five days left. As always, we appreciate your insight. Thanks so much for joining us.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Breaking news straight ahead. Hurricane Delta slamming into the Louisiana Coast as we speak. Only six weeks after another big storm, Hurricane Laura, drove through the region. We have an update when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:33:17]

BERMAN: Breaking news just a short time ago Hurricane Delta made landfall in Louisiana. Two hundred thousand now without power there as well as Texas with powerful winds and storm surge battering the gulf coast line. This is the fourth, the fourth major storm to hit Louisiana in the last year. Martin Savidge joins us now from Lake Charles, Louisiana with the very latest.

Martin, man it looks wet there. How are things looking?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty bad. The good news is that of course the storm went to the east of here, which is, you know, John it means that we're not getting the worst of the winds. And in theory now that Delta is coming ashore, things should begin easy, but it's always in increments over time. It's still getting hammered here. Heavy rain that's been continuing, well, almost as noon today. For the wind. The winds have been extreme. Not necessarily high force hurricane winds.

But you got to remember, Lake Charles is in a situation like few other places in Louisiana. It was hammered devastated by Hurricane Laura six weeks ago. And now it's being hit again by Category 2 storm. And in many cases the buildings were so weakened because of that hurricane Laura, 95% of the buildings and homes the mayor says have been damaged in some way. Their ability to stand up to a second blue like this is really in question. That's why they began mandatory evacuations Wednesday, telling people it would just simply not be safe to stay in a home that could come apart in the middle of a storm. We can find the first hurricane and.

Then there's the debris. There is tons and tons and tons of debris. We were in the neighborhood earlier it would be suicide to be in there now. With all the glass, with all the wire, with all the (INAUDIBLE), with the nails. All of that flying through the air and access battery would be leaving (INAUDIBLE).

[20:35:12]

The circumstances for this city are unique. And that's why they are very worried about how it will eventually end and what it will look like in the morning. They have only just restored power (INAUDIBLE). Power is out in many places, the wind continues to (INAUDIBLE). And the storm that was started with Laura now continues with Delta. This community is suffering both. John?

BERMAN: I got to say, Martin, it sounds just ferocious there right now, if you can still hear me. You mentioned that, that another storm passed just a few weeks ago and there were still tarps out on many of the buildings. What did they do to get ready for this?

SAVIDGE: Well, the first thing they did was tell people to leave. And they were absolutely adamant and serious about it. You happen to go and then they did. But there were others who were suffering from evacuation, but they didn't want to leave. I talked to families that stayed behind, I have no idea how they're handling things now. But the debris piles were five and six feet high all along the street in which they live. Imagining all of that material and this kind of width does make it very bright. So, I think for a lot of people here, they got up for those who stayed behind. They've got to be rethinking that decision right now. But there's nothing of course they could do until morning and wet things inside. BERMAN: Martin Savidge, you and your team, please stay safe. Thank you so much for being there for us.

For more of the storm now let's go to Tom Sater in the weather center. Tom, what's the latest on where this hurricane is headed? And at this point, how strong is it?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's dropped now to Category 1 as expected. It's typical when they interact with land and make landfall. That where Martin is in Lake Charles in just the last 30 minutes, the wind gusts went from 75 miles per hour to 95. So I think those of us who are going to be seeing video coming out of this region tomorrow for most of us, we're not going to know the difference between what is new damage and what is old damage, they will know because they've been spending the days and weeks trying to clean up and rebuild. But we're down to Category 1. Hurricane Delta, this only the second time we had to get into the Greek alphabet the last time was 2005. And already at setting records. Not only is Delta the first hurricane with a name from the Greek alphabet to make landfall in the U.S., but it's now known as the fastest pace to ever go from a tropical depression to a Category 4. It only took 30 hours making landfall south of Cancun as a Category 2, tourists had one hour to get in pack up get to the airport, no fatalities. But we knew it was going to grow in size, before it hit Cancun the eye was a pinhole only four miles wide. Earlier today 46 miles. So that wind field is broad.

Back edges are now starting to dry up that's some very good news, but we have our Category 1 incredible. We've got now two within six weeks hitting the exact same area. This is just unheard of as far as that time limit. Heavy rainfall is falling, we've got over nine, 10 inches, we'll see more. Storm surges over nine to 10 now east of the center. Here's where Lake Charles and so they're on the back edge of the eyewall but Lafayette with a home of 130,000 are going to get into it. Only 10 to 13 miles between Laura and Delta's landfall. Wide pattern of wind damage over 200,000 without power that will grow through the night. As we watch the wind gusts move up look at 55 in Alexandria, 41 (INAUDIBLE) that's tropical storm, Jackson 52. Unbelievable. This is the 25th name storm for this season John. The record is 28 from 2005. And we have seven and a half more weeks of the season to go. Watch out for the tornadoes tomorrow, pParts of Louisiana overnight and toward the panhandle of Florida, north into Georgia. Incredible season and it's not over yet.

BERMAN: 2020. Tom Seder, thank you very much. We're going to have more on the storm later in the program.

Up next, the latest on the bizarre, terrifying plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the virtual silence from the Trump administration on the arrests.

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[20:42:54]

BERMAN: Six of the seven men arrested on state terrorism charges and other felony counts in the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. They were rain today. A total of 13 were charged after a joint operation with the FBI and the Michigan State Police.

CNN's Sara Sidner in Grand Rapids, Michigan for us tonight, Sara even covering this from the beginning doing a wonderful job. And you met today with someone who knew one of the suspects well, what did he tell you?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Brian Titus owns a vacuum shop here in Grand Rapids. He said he was surprised as anyone when the FBI ended up raiding his business because the person who was living there, who was a longtime friend of his who had been living there just for a little while after he said he got kicked out of his girlfriend's place. And so, we gave him a place to stay. He had a job there. His dogs were there with him. Turns out he is one of the leaders according to the FBI of this plot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TITUS, STORE OWNER: He was staying in the basement.

SIDNER (voice-over): How do you get there? Is there --

TITUS: Right there. That's the secret passageway. It's not a secret pass, it's the basement.

SIDNER (voice-over): Oh, OK.

TITUS: They're talking about the wood. The reason why I put the wood on there this case if the dog I had to go somewhere, put them in there so he wouldn't ruin the carpet. Well that's the basement where he stay.

SIDNER (voice-over): OK.

TITUS: And he was only going to stay there till -- on November.

SIDNER (voice-over): Why did you decide it was time for him to go? Did you notice any kind of activity?

TITUS: Buying stuff on Amazon? I wasn't stupid. I was in the Marine Corps for 12 years.

SIDNER (voice-over): Where there -- was he buying ammo or?

TITUS: I don't know if he was buying ammo. He was buying more like attachments for like an AR-15 and he was buying like food. And I'm not stupid. I was in the Marine Corps, so that I told he had to go.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: But before he actually left, he says they arrested him and 12 others. He talked about the plot and the FBI talked about this plot that really centered around trying to kidnap the Governor Gretchen Whitmer here of Michigan. But there were other things that were so disturbing beyond even the kidnapping plot. Also the FBI saying they were planning on storming the Capitol, that they were planning on potentially using explosives, that they had actually fashioned some explosives. And they were talking about potentially burrowing up a bridge to try to keep police from being able to get to the governor when they tried to, to kidnap her according to the complaint.

[20:45:34]

They also, you know, sort of talk about some of the things that these men were saying to each other. But certainly 13 men now charged in this case, some with state terrorism charges, some with federal conspiracy to commit kidnapping charges, very serious charges and a really scary time, obviously, for those in the government here. Some of the Democrats saying they are terrified that the law still allows to bring guns into the state capitol. And we saw those pictures of people, you know, standing outside of the Capitol this year and trying to get into the Capitol arms to the teeth they're saying they want that to change. But so far the last dance.

BERMAN: Sara Sidner, as you said, terrific reporting. Thank you so much for being there for us. Really appreciate it.

So even though the Trump administration's Justice Department was heavily invested into the arrest through the efforts of the FBI and two separate U.S. attorneys. So for the Attorney General William Barr has not commented on it. And the only thing President Trump has said publicly other than to condemn Governor Whitmer for her remarks criticizing him has been to wonder why he hasn't been thanked.

Perspective now from Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI and a CNN contributor and Miles Taylor, former Homeland Security chief of staff and the Trump administration, also a CNN analyst.

Andy, I want to start with you, the Attorney General William Barr has traveled up and down the country to appear in public for any event that has to do with condemning or cracking down on leftist violence. He's held briefings, he's appeared, you know, in settings condemning urban violence as well. But not only did he not travel to Michigan to be on camera here, but he hasn't briefed the public at all hasn't said anything in public at all about a plot to kidnap a sitting governor. What does that tell you?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, John, thanks for having me. It is really, really puzzling. I can tell you from having had the experience of overseeing these sorts of investigations for years, and also from having had to brief many attorneys general on exactly these sorts of operations. I can tell you, there is no way the Attorney General wasn't briefed on this investigation as it went forward. If the FBI worked a case in which the Governor was an intended victim of a kidnapping, and they didn't tell the Attorney General, I mean, that is a heads will roll moment.

So, if you assume for the sake of the argument that he knew about it, then it's up. The only possibility is that he was either unwilling or unable to come forward and talk about this case yesterday. And as you mentioned, this is the type of case that in the past an Attorney General would travel to the site of the arrest and travel to the venue where it's being brought to court to appear on stage in the press conference with the U.S. attorneys. So it's very strange that we haven't heard anything from Attorney General Barr in the last day or so.

BERMAN: Yes, you say he's either unwilling or unable it may be unwilling. So Myles, why not take the opportunity to condemn domestic terror? Why not take a public stand against this type of extremism for the Attorney General or the President. The President's done all these cable television interviews, and really just complain about not getting credit? And he's criticized Governor Whitmer. So what are we to make of this?

MILES TAYLOR, CNN ANALYST: Well, look, I think Andy said it, the operative word is puzzling. This is completely puzzling. And this is the type of case that we expected would ultimately happen if domestic terrorism went unchecked in this country. I mean, Director McCabe was there at the same time as me when we saw a big uptick in this threat and his bureau and our department. We're flagging this for the White House pretty actively at the time period.

Now, again, at the time period, the ISIS threat was a bit higher, but we saw the domestic terror threat ticking up and we were worried that the same remote radicalization we saw of ISIS fighters overseas could potentially happen here in the United States with individuals who were motivated by, you know, racial supremacist groups and the like that started to happen. The White House was disinterested, John, because they feared that some of these individuals on the right would potentially also be some of their supporters. So, they didn't want to speak out against this because they were worried that politically, it could be damaging to them. And look, you saw that today rather than as you know, Bill Barr going and appearing publicly to talk about this. Instead, you have the President dunking on the governor of Michigan on Twitter instead of dealing with this problem, that's a really big concern. And the President, his campaign message right now is law and order.

[20:50:09]

But what we've seen right now in Donald Trump's America is lawlessness and disorder. That's not a political talking point. I think that's a direct result of his law enforcement policies and strategy, which we were consistently frustrated by at the Department of Homeland Security, and which now are resulting in things like the case that was just announced yesterday.

BERMAN: Miles when you would raise the concern about extremist groups like this domestic terror groups, what would the White House say?

TAYLOR: I'll tell you point blank, they told us not to talk about it. In fact, as we were developing, the administration's counterterrorism strategy, which I was intimately involved in developing, we were told the focus needed to be on Islamist terrorist groups overseas. And we shouldn't be talking about, quote, right-wing extremists here in the United States. There was a very clear signal sent from aides that reported directly to the President, that this should not be a focus.

Now, that didn't stop either Director McCabe's bureau or our department from focusing on the threat, we focused on the threat and we doubled down on the threat. But the problem is, if the White House itself isn't going to coordinate those departments and agencies to step up with more people, more resources, more attention than the threat isn't going to get the level of response that it deserves. And it didn't.

BERMAN: Andy, what do these extremist groups these would be domestic terrorists here in the silence from William Barr, what do they hear in the President's unwillingness to openly denounce this type of extremism?

MCCABE: Well, John, you can't overstate the significance of how domestic extremists and extremists of all stripes truly, are very closely watching the media coverage of the threat, the media coverage of the things they and their groups are doing. They are looking exactly for things like the communications they are subtly getting from the President now. I am convinced that people on the far-right, the right leaning extremist groups, the white supremacist groups, the anti government groups, the boogaloo boys, all those sorts of groups, they are watching the President's very careful but clear desire to avoid condemning them at any turn. And they see that as a signal of approval. They see that as a signal of we finally have one on our side.

I mean, you saw the reaction from the Proud Boys the day after the President essentially gave him a shout out in the debate. It is a very positive energizing thing that they get. And that is exactly the sort of trigger that could cause some of these groups to act.

BERMAN: And I'm sure you've still got friends who are in the service in the FBI. What are they telling you about their concerns for the next 25 days or maybe longer for this election?

MCCABE: John, people are buckling in and getting ready for a very bumpy ride. You know, look, we had great concerns about how particularly the white supremacy community would react to the inauguration of President Obama or first black president. And so, we did a lot of work in the months leading up to the inauguration, months leading up to the election and the inauguration to watch those folks that we were concerned about to make sure that we got in front of any terrorist planning. I am quite sure the FBI is doing the exact -- that exact sort of work with these particularly these heavily armed and militia groups, and these right leaning kind of white supremacist organizations.

The sad fact is there are very, very many of them. In Michigan alone, we've heard numbers in the two to three dozens of organized militia groups just in the state of Michigan and they are all over the country now. This is a big challenge for the FBI and partners at DHS and other agencies to stay in for.

BERMAN: It's the point that Miles was making me just this morning as well as the Attorney General of Michigan was making to me this morning. The scary thing is these groups, these 13 individuals, not alone, not at all.

Andrew McCabe, Miles Taylor, thank you both. Great to see you tonight.

MCCABE: Thanks, John.

TAYLOR: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right, we have a live update from the Gulf Coast when we come back.

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[20:58:26]

BERMAN: We end tonight's program with one more look at Hurricane Delta. You're looking at live pictures right there was just made landfall a short time ago. The number of those without power has increased substantially just since our last report now more than 330,000 people in Louisiana and Texas without power.

Let's go back to Martin Savidge live in Lake Charles. Martin checking back in with you still just as wet, how are things looking?

SAVIDGE: You know, John, I would come back and I wouldn't be able to tell you because we've used up a lot in Lake Charles. They have not I mean the winds still howling, we still getting blasted by rain. Of course this is an area that got slammed six weeks ago by Hurricane Laura. Significantly, significantly weakening and damaging not just structures but trees. They only just got the power back now they've lost the power again. We don't know about the water system. That was another major issue. And we know that many of the buildings are suffering damage again. For the poor folks who made their way back just recently, they're now realizing that their homes are going to be in more potential danger. The amazing thing is there are still people who think they can go out in this store.

It is hard to imagine what we're going to find given all the debris that had been left on the streets. (INAUDIBLE) and that's the real fear for the officials. It's the fear for those who stay behind. It all becomes airborne, dangerous and potentially deadly. John.

BERMAN: It'll be hard to sort out the damage from this hurricane and the damage still on the ground from the last one. Martin Savidge, please stay safe.

[21:00:00]

So before we go tonight a brief programming note. Be sure and watch a special Saturday edition of CNNs Global Town Hall Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Anderson will anchor the program along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta tomorrow 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The news continues. So let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."