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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Harvey Wreaks Havoc With More Rain On The Way; Trump, First Lady To Visit Texas Tomorrow; Trump Doubles Down And Defends Arpaio Pardon. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 28, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:06] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time".
Horrible circumstances and heroic acts, that's the story of Tropical Storm Harvey so far. Let's be clear, the danger is far from over. Houston has seen 25 inches of rain in just two days, could see another 25 inches of rain by Saturday. That would equal the average rainfall that Houston gets in a year. Levels are not expected to crest for days.
We're seeing the damage spread to other states. New Orleans, on the anniversary of Katrina, may be in for more trouble. The entire gulf coast may suffer from this storm. And that water that you see is fast becoming a toxic soup in many places. Sewage of all kinds, run-off that can make you sick quick.
This is the reality right now. We want to show you these pictures. Do you see that? This is Texas. This is the fourth largest city in America. Imagine life reduced to nothing but survival for far too many. Boats replacing cars. Bags replacing homes. And these people that you see on your screen, they're the lucky ones. So many are still believed to be trapped in homes. Rescues are ongoing right now. But despite best efforts, and they are herculean by all accounts, the fear is all the folks you don't see who are battling rising waters and in need of saving.
We are doing what we can to get information to the rescuers, to get coordination for those who are stranded. We have someone on the phone right now. Her name is Vilopa Dhagat and she is stranded in her home in Richmond, Texas. Tell us what the situation is, Vilopa, can you hear me?
VILOPA DHAGAT, STRANDED IN HOME (via telephone): Sure, yes, I can.
CUOMO: All right. You sound good. I've been told that you're in the home, you have a lot of other people with you, and you're getting worried because the water is rising. What is the situation?
DHAGAT: Right now we have around 5 feet around my house. We cannot get out from the house. We cannot walk. And the water is about to come in the house. And my -- water, so we cannot do anything since four days. We've been locked down in house since Friday evening. CUOMO: So you've been there since Friday evening. We're assuming, you know, you're lucky you saw communication but the power hasn't been what you need it to be. We're looking at pictures from outside your house, scary, and it's not just adults, you have kids there as well, yes?
DHAGAT: Yes, I have two kids and a small dog. So my baby dog is with me, also, and he's really scared.
CUOMO: I bet. I bet everybody is scared. You sound good and I know that you're staying strong for the people there. You've reached out to 911.
DHAGAT: That's true, that's true, yes. And my hospital tried to help me. My manager tried to help me a lot but, still, we are inside. Now I go upstair because we cannot go down because water start coming inside the house.
CUOMO: What are you being told by the first responders, by the government, what are you being told when you call 911?
DHAGAT: We didn't call 911 yet because this isn't only the life threatening situation. You can call the 911. My hospital, Park Plaza, tried to help me to rescue from here and they provide us the housing so -- but it's too late now. It's too dark so we haven't tried to go upstair --
CUOMO: Everything is tougher --
DHAGAT: -- because I have a guest from India and I have four other people with me.
CUOMO: Well, be careful. Everything is tougher at night obviously and you know that everybody is telling you stay out of the upper parts of your house if you can't get out from there.
DHAGAT: -- other people also, because right now the situation is very bad everywhere so it's very scary and yesterday night we spent the whole night -- we could not even blink the eyes because we are really, really scared.
CUOMO: You know, I can imagine. I'm so sorry that you're in this situation. But I know you're doing your best to hold it together. Do you have water? Are the kids OK?
DHAGAT: Yes, I do. I have water and I'm more worry for my daughter because she's like (INAUDIBLE) from me. And she's very, very worried family. So she just keeps calling and trying to send us to a safe place.
CUOMO: Can you charge your phone? Do you have any electricity?
DHAGAT: Yes, I do. I have electricity. We are lucky -- our electricity is still on. So we are very lucky for that.
CUOMO: Yes, you are. And I know that you're getting more nervous as the water continues to rise.
DHAGAT: Yes, because my next door neighbor has a single story house and they have two small kids, like a 2-year-old and 1-year-old, and they're in a very bad situation yesterday. The water is up to like knee on his house. So they just rescue from the (INAUDIBLE).
[21:05:08] CUOMO: Well, we know that you've told people that you need help. We're going to communicate that information, again. We have your address. We'll give it to the first responders. We have people out there as well, and our crews, we're going to see if anyone is near enough to you to get to you probably in the morning. I know everybody tells you the nighttime is scary.
DHAGAT: Yes, nighttime is scary, so thank you very much for your help.
CUOMO: No, no.
DHAGAT: Yes, that's fine in the morning. We can go, yes.
CUOMO: No, don't thank us. Thank you for keeping your head together and making sure the people with you are OK. What are you telling the kids and the other people to keep everybody calm?
DHAGAT: Be safe and don't try to get out from the house and just stay in the house. Don't worry about anything. Don't worry about the job. Don't worry about the money. Don't go out. Just stay with your family.
CUOMO: Right now you matter about -- what you care about what matters most which is staying alive and staying safe.
DHAGAT: Yes, family matters most, yes.
CUOMO: All right.
DHAGAT: Because our family, our friends -- is so far away from us and they're just worried about us, also, so we need to be very safe.
CUOMO: Well, you stay safe. I know this is a hard situation but, Vilopa, I will stay in touch with you throughout the night and make sure everything is OK and we'll stay in touch until people come to get to you. Thank you for talking to us. Keep your phone charged. You never know if the power is going to go out so. Thank you and stay safe.
All right, now you have to remember, Vilopa and those people in there with those kids and, of course, the dog, you've seen pets everywhere, so many stories like that, there are so many people who are still in their homes and it's not about the first responders not doing their jobs. They're overwhelmed. That's why they put the call out to citizens and, boy, it has been answered time and time again.
We have so many people on the ground. Let's get to CNN National Correspondent Miguel Marquez, he's joining us now from La Grange, Texas. Miguel, you heard who we were just talking to there, Vilopa. You're coming across those stories again and again. WE know that you guys on the ground and try to coordinate with the first responders and get people help, but the need is just too great right now. What are you seeing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in this particular town they've had it pretty good, it's a town of 4,800. We're in Fayette County. About 1,000 people are displaced here but they knew this river was going up. They just didn't know it was going up this much.
This is the Colorado River. If you can just make out that bridge in the distance there, usually you have to drive about halfway across that bridge before you hit the river. Today the river has come to the people of La Grange.
I want to show you here just how high it got up. It's actually starting to recede. That's the water line right there in La Grange. So the water it's come down. It's a pretty good example right over here. It's come down about 2 feet so far. You can see the water here on the roadway and how much it's come down. This little girl is actually having a great time here, a lot of people coming out now.
They have pretty much dodged the bullet here. They have about 200 businesses and homes that are completely inundated. They had to evacuate an elderly center early this morning in the overnight hours. They did on an emergent basis. Another one, they did just because they were concerned, they weren't quite sure how high that water was going to go. They were expecting 49 feet above flood level. Flood level here, by the way, is 26 feet. It hit 54.5 feet today, it crested.
Cities downstream and towns downstream, though, they are now facing it. Columbus, Texas, between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, they are looking at the river cresting. They think they are ready for it but they have everything in place and all they can do is wait and hope that the banks hold. Chris?
CUOMO: And that is what it's all pinned on right now, is right, that hope that the future rains that are expected to come, maybe the same number that already has come, that they'll be OK and, of course, places down river, the need only gets more and more great. All water finds its way to the bayou in that part of the state.
Miguel, stay safe and stay in contact if we need to tell people something.
All right, joining us is Thad Allen, a former U.S. National Incident Commander who led the federal response during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and we have Lisa Monaco, adviser to President Obama, among her duty is coordinating disaster response.
Thad, give us some perspective about what they're dealing with in Texas. I was there for Katrina. I was there for Rita. I know what you did. We haven't seen and hopefully we won't ever see the loss of life in this situation like we did there, but how do the challenges size up from Harvey right now? ADM THAD ALLEN, FMR U.S. NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER, Thanks for having me on, Chris. I think we need to understand that all these events vary in complexity. And what's complex in New Orleans may not be what's complex in Texas. I think the issues here are a broad geographic scope, a lot of towns horizontally that have to work across boundaries to ply resources to the highest need and then vertical integration from state and local responders up to the state and to the federal level. It requires a lot of coordination and work together to get it right. And they don't know who evacuated and who didn't. So the real challenge is trying to find who needs help out there to respond to them.
[21:10:01] CUOMO: What's the priority if you were in control right now?
ALLEN: It's always safety of life. But once you are sure that you got everybody that needs to be saved out, then what you need is access. You got to get rid of the water. Debris removal paces everything, establishing electrical power and getting basic services back to the individuals.
CUOMO: But first is the obvious priority which is the human need, and they're struggling with that right now for obvious reasons that we can all see on the screen, but for some things that aren't visible which is just where are the people, calms are down, you know, you're learning a lot about this anecdote from people, about where the people might be. That's why we're trying to have people on T.V. like we just did and give those addresses through our reporters to first responders and people with boats. But, it seems it's hard to coordinate that.
ALLEN: Well, Chris, if you don't know who evacuated, you don't know who needs help and you get anecdotal requests via social media and 911 calls. The real challenge is trying to find out who is out there that needs to be saved. In New Orleans, it took over two and a half weeks, three sweeps of the city, to find people that so needed to come out and start to do the very difficult issue of remains recovery.
CUOMO: Yes, I remember. I remember it all too well. Hopefully we don't see anything like that in Harvey. From what you can tell from the outside, do they seem to have the resources?
ALLEN: Well, I'm not sure you ever have the right resources in the right place. The ability to reconcile that and put it where you need it is what's very, very crucial. The communications up and down the chain of command, state and local to the federal government appear to be excellent. I've talked to the folks that are working this problem. They're trying very, very hard. And I think the level of collaboration and cooperation is unprecedented. But the challenge is as well.
CUOMO: Lisa, the president wants to go, he wants people to know that he cares, that the federal government is behind them. It's a tricky measure because there's a big security footprint. It takes resources even if the president doesn't want it to. Is it the right move?
LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Look, it's very important for a president to go to an area that is being devastated, that citizens of the United States are feeling this trauma like you heard from the guest you just had on at the top of the hour.
I think the consideration has to be driven, the timing needs to be driven by the state and local officials. They need to assure the White House that there will not be an impact on the response. I will say I was surprised when I saw that the White House announced even before the hurricane had made landfall that the president was thinking of going early this week and then with the announcement that he would go tomorrow given what we're seeing in terms of, as you mentioned, multiple feet more of rain that is likely to fall. But it is important for a president to go. I think it's a very tricky call. The bottom line needs to be the state and local officials need to make the call about when is appropriate. I've been part of these trips and I've seen what goes into planning a presidential visit to a state or a city that is operating at full capacity and is not afflicted by a disaster. It is a huge undertaking and it stretches a state and local area regardless of the situation.
CUOMO: Nothing public has come out about the president being discouraged from going by the governor or the mayor and he has been very attentive verbally to the situation. He says the federal government will give everything that you need. What does that wind up being in the situation? What is the best use of the federal government?
MONACO: Well, first and foremost it is the president's duty and his job and he did this on Friday to approve what's called a major disaster declaration and we saw the White House, I think quite appropriately, leaning forward on Friday night, even before the hurricane made landfall and declaring a major disaster. And with that comes two types of aid. One called public assistance to help the public infrastructure get back on its feet and repair it. And the other, critically, is called individual assistance, and that goes to people, individual families, to help them get back on their feet. But the challenge here, Chris, it's one thing to declare and sign the paper and say that the assistance is coming. It's quite another to get that to the individuals on the ground.
CUOMO: The logistics.
MONACO: The logistics --
MONACO: -- literally getting it to individuals who need to sign up for that assistance.
CUOMO: And that's why often we wind up seeing the National Guard come into play here. We know it hasn't happened yet but they are standing at the ready.
All right, I need you and Thad, Thad I need you both to stay because there are more issues to discuss here. There are a lot of things about Harvey that are unusual. For instance, the call to citizens, if you have a boat, if you can help, get out there and help. It's unusual that here in such full (INAUDIBLE) fashion so early on. But, boy, has it made a difference.
We're going to talk to a member of the Cajun Navy. That name may sound familiar. They were born back after Katrina and they're just regular people who went out there and helped people who wouldn't have made it otherwise. They are now in Texas. When our breaking news coverage continues, stay with CNN.
[21:18:41] CUOMO: Rescue. That is the main urgency right now. Officials can't be sure but hundreds are estimated to be in need of saving in just the Houston area alone. Operation made much harder in the dark. We're just talking a moment. She said it's getting dark now. They say no one can come yet.
First responder's resources are already strained so word has gone out to anyone who can help. This is unusual for them to engage citizens. If you have a boat, if you're able-bodied, get out there, help your community and the call has been answered time and time again and that includes volunteers with the so-called Cajun Navy. Do you remember that phrase? It came to be in our vocabulary after Hurricane Katrina. And joining us now on the phone is Clyde Cain, a member of the Navy. Clyde, brother, I remember you good men getting after it after Katrina, helping the communities, trying to save people for weeks. What brought to you Texas?
CLYDE CAIN, ORGANIZER, LOUISIANA CAJUN NAVY (via telephone): Well, we waited for an invitation. They called us to come over and, of course, we went on our Facebook page and we got a Cajun Navy and called out for boats and of course all the others groups do the same thing and they got together and we came on over and we've been over in Pasadena most of the day as you guys know running rescues as best we could with the weather conditions being as they are.
[21:20:06] CUOMO: What are you seeing on the ground and what are you bringing in terms of resources?
CAIN: Right now we just have our boats here and we've pretty much exhausted (INAUDIBLE) a lot of guys -- we can't parked right now because of the weather. Other than that we have some resources staged up after this but a we have no idea how long it's going to last and what I just heard is, which is just hear say for a moment but the governor is going to be forming something maybe tomorrow, one massive effort to get everybody together which will probably be very good for everybody out here right now.
CUOMO: There's a need for coordination. But as, you know, as you know very well in an emergency situation you just get after what you can. How many of you came up? How many boats?
CAIN: We brought about 20 boats. We met up at the Lake Charles Civic Center. We brought about three boats (INAUDIBLE) and met up with leaders who had connections over here and ended up with about 20 boats, and then, of course, another boat (INAUDIBLE) as they contact our page and other page and groups and it's been showing up over here at the academy over in Pasadena. And as they've come in we've waited on instructions and, of course, we're working underneath others with their contacts. And as we get dispatched we're told where we can go. We go out and do the best we can.
CUOMO: Well, and you have shown the ability to do that in beautiful fashion. You're an example to many. We're watching your video of all the pickups and the trailers come with the boats. We will coordinate with the producers and with you to get new information about people who are contacting us and saying they need help and I want to thank you, Clyde, on behalf of all of us who aren't able to help the way you are. Thank you for what you're doing. You're doing God's work down there. Be safe and thank you.
CAIN: Yes, sir, and thank you to all the volunteers that have come in, also, a part of the great big Cajun Navy.
CUOMO: And you know the work that remains to be done for weeks, people will be down there in needs. So let's thank Clyde Cain, the Cajun Navy is back at it. Unfortunately, they're needed once again.
Let's bring back Thad Allen, a former U.S. National Incident Commander who led the response during Hurricane Katrina and Rita. And Lisa Monaco, advisor to President Obama, among her duties was coordinating disaster response. Am I wrong in that? I remember Katrina, I remember Rita, I don't remember the call going out so early that if you are able to help in anyway you have a boat, people were doing it anyway down there in Cajun Country, but this call, you know, this open and saying if you can get after it do so, somewhat unusual, isn't it?
MONACO: I think it is, but also a testament to the scale of what we're seeing down there.
CUOMO: Certainly needed.
MONACO: It certainly needed. It appears by all the images we're seeing out there and the ability to understand where people are so that we can get the state and local responders can get needed aid to them is going to be an all hands on deck job.
CUOMO: No question about it. And, Thad, I'm not saying this, you know, to be some sugary sweet sentiment about humanity, this is the reality. These citizens have stepped up. The stories are as heavy as the rain in terms of helping one community or another. The woman we just had on the phone she wouldn't even call 911. She's got five feet of water outside her house. She says I'm not in a life-or-death situation. We're holding it together. I'm lucky I still have power. She's been trapped in that house for four days. We're seeing people step up in unusual fashion in Texas.
ALLEN: Yes, there's a dilemma, Chris, and that's -- if everybody operates as an individual it's almost impossible to coordinate and direct them where they need to go. The best possible way to do this is to have them affiliate with some not for profit or agency so they can coordinated as a team together. There's a term used called spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers, they're very well intentioned, they're trying to help. Unless you can bring them into a larger framework to help it's really difficult to manage all the little pieces.
CUOMO: Totally understood. People aboard by them but logistics are also the most important component of a successful rescue and recovery operation. But right now they just need all hands on deck. When you have people calling you saying we got to get out of our house and no one is coming, anybody who comes is going to be an angel to them. But Thad, thank you very much. Lisa, as always, appreciate the perspective on this. And we're going to keep a close eye on the ongoing storms in Texas.
But, next there is another story for us to take on tonight. President Trump has doubled down basically saying he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio because the man is s a hero. Let's test that after the break. We have a member of Congress who supports the pardon, the president and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing. Steve King joins us next.
[21:28:34] CUOMO: All right. So late this afternoon President Trump doubled down on his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he was convicted of criminal contempt and cited for civil contempt by a different judge. Two different judges found him in contempt for his treatment of undocumented immigrants. But President Trump calls the sheriff an American hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff Joe protected our borders, and Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration especially right before an election, an election that he would have won, and he was elected many times. So I stand by my partner, Sheriff Joe, and I think the people of Arizona who know him best would agree with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Point of fact this whole matter stems from an incident that preceded 2011 so it wasn't just about some election kind of finagling and this was supposed to be law and forward president and this was an order from a federal court that Sheriff Joe decided to ignore.
Now, what does the law allow? The law certainly allows the president to pardon anyone he wants. So this isn't about his ability to do it. It's about whether he made the right call. Now what the law says about what Sheriff Joe was doing is that police can ask for documentation of immigration status while in the course of enforcing other laws. That last part is key. And it's also the key to the controversy because Arpaio was accused of rounding people up that looked like undocumented immigrants. And this goes back, again, many years. Context matters. This was not an isolated incident.
[21:30:16] Arpaio forced incarcerated inmates to live in an outdoor tent city that he likened to a concentration camp. He was cited for segregating Latinos within the prison population. He had an unusually high suicide rate of inmates, problems with his officers assaulting people. The contempt order and the instant controversy stems, again, from a 2011 Justice Department investigation that revealed unfair targeting of Latinos during immigration raids and traffic stops. He was ordered to stop. He refused. He boasted about that refusal to reporters, and he was subsequently found by two judges to be in contempt of court. So why does the president see him as a hero?
Cracking down on undocumented immigrants is popular with some voters, certainly many in the so-called Trump base and -- and -- there could be a personal toll as well perhaps.
Sheriff Joe is one of the people who helped Trump perpetuate the Obama birther myth that prompted then citizen Trump to tweet this in 2012. Take a look. "Congratulations to real Sheriff Joe and his cold case posse investigation which claims Barack Obama's birth certificate is fake." And that, of course, that wound up being bs, but it still created a bond.
And now Sheriff Joe is reportedly considering a run for the United States Senate against, who else, another enemy of the president or at least a political opponent, Senator Jeff Flake. He's been a punching bag for this president.
So this is not so much about the law. Again, the president has the right to pardon basically anyone he wants to. The question is whether or not it was right to reward Joe Arpaio for something the federal court found to be wrong. So there's the issue. Let's discuss it. We have Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa supports the pardon of sheriff Arpaio. It's good to see you, as always, congressman. Justify the pardon. What is your case?
REP. STEVE KING (R), MEMBER, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I watched this unfold, Chris, from my seat on the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives. And we had Democrats in majority and we had President Obama elected. And I saw that Justice Department react to what I thought was a political statement so the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and start to put the squeeze on Joe Arpaio because they didn't want enforcement of our immigration laws in Maricopa County. I made a trip down there to visit Sheriff Joe. I wanted to see what was going on. I talked to him at length about his process and his words to me were he was avoiding any kind of ethnic profiling. It's really not race but ethnic profiling, and he was compiling with the law. He had a 2807-G agreement and he also had over a period of time SB-1070, Arizona's immigration law, up until such time as the Supreme Court invalidated parts of it.
KING: I said to him, Joe, I'll help you. And he said I don't need your help. I have all the authority I need to enforce the law.
CUOMO: All right, look, the law gets tricky and I think this is more about the morality than the legality, frankly. I'll talk to you about the law in one second. But this is about morality. SB-1070 got knocked down the Supreme Court in part, not completely. You're allowed to ask for immigration documentation in the enforcement of other laws. Joe Arpaio wasn't doing that. He was cited by the Justice Department for rounding up people who looked like they could be illegal immigrants. It screamed of profiling. It wasn't a new practice and you know this. You know who Joe Arpaio is and was. So do I. This wasn't about the law because the law is -- the federal government does immigration not the states. You can't be in contradiction to federal law. And federal law doesn't allow profiling. That's what Joe Arpaio was doing. Two different judges said it.
KING: Well, actually I disagree to a degree, Chris. And the first thing is that who would have imagined that the federal government who had support from a state that passed a statute that was designed to match up exactly with federal laws so they could support federal law, who would have imagined that later on the Supreme Court would find parts of that unconstitutional? I don't agree with their decision, but Joe Arpaio couldn't have known that when he put his program in place. Joe Arpaio was living underneath the 2807-G or with the --
CUOMO: But that's why he was told --
KING: -- federal authorization to enforce immigration law and there is no federal law against profiling.
CUOMO: Well, first of all.
CUOMO: Profiling is wrong. It is found wrong under the law. It is found wrong as a practice by the Justice Department. That is what they told Joe Arpaio he was doing and they said stop it.
KING: I don't agree.
CUOMO: What don't you agree with?
KING: I don't agree that profiling is wrong. In fact, if you would take profiling away from the tools of law enforcement you couldn't describe a criminal in any way whatsoever.
[21:35:01] CUOMO: No, no, no hold on.
CUOMO: What happens when you profile?
KING: -- racial profiling and profiling. Let's not generalize. There's difference between racial profiling and broader profiling with all of the descriptions that are there.
KING: And I say it's wrong to and the Justice Department has --
KING: -- issue to direct and says you shall not racially profile if that's the only component. CUOMO: How is that not --
CUOMO: What broader profile? He was rounding up people. He was rounding up people some of whom wind up being citizens, and that's what his guys were doing and what did his defense lawyer say? You know, what they wind up saying after all the bravado --
KING: -- implication is.
CUOMO: After all the bravado to reporters saying I'm going to continue, I don't care what the judges say. That's called contempt by definition, by the way. And this is supposed to be a law and order presidency.
KING: And I don't agree with him --
CUOMO: -- hold on a second, congressman. If you don't agree with him defining the federal judge, then you agree with him being convicted of that crime because that's what he was convicted of.
KING: Not necessarily.
CUOMO: It was a contempt order. And he violated it. He then said through his lawyer that he unintentionally violated the law. It was an unclear order. And I know this is his lawyers, but Joe Arpaio had a chance to do it the right way and he didn't and he boasted about it. And now you're defending his flouting of the law. Why?
KING: I'm saying this, I don't agree with him for defying the judge's order. But we also should remember Judge Snow issued an order that was judge-made law, and it wasn't consistent with federal statute and there's nobody that can quote a federal statute, a law, against what Joe Arpaio did. And he said mistakes were made. That's how he defined what happened. But I don't know how you enforce immigration law in Arizona and not have some Hispanics caught up in that effort.
CUOMO: Nobody is saying that you're not going to have Hispanics caught up and there were Latinos caught up. And that you're not supposed to just be --
KING: But he said if he rounded up brown people.
CUOMO: Yes, that is what he did. I'm not saying it. It's what the Justice Department said and you're well affair of these facts whether or not you agree with the facts.
KING: And how do you avoid doing that if you're going to enforce immigration law? And he mention -- once in a while you get somebody that is a citizen by accident.
CUOMO: Yes, I know.
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: It wasn't by accident. It wasn't by accident. It's the whole point. He was ordered not to do the practice anymore and he boasted that he would. What was the practice? The practice was rounding up people just because they looked like they might be undocumented immigrants. The facts were never in question. Joe Arpaio never said the court had it wrong.
KING: Chris, let's remember this.
CUOMO: He said he was going to keep doing it anyway and I think you're defending it because you like what he was doing.
KING: Every law -- remember this, every law enforcement officer in the United States of America up until the Obama administration had authority to assist and participate and initiate the immigration enforcement. They had that. And the Obama administration turned this around and they used Clinton appointee judges to make judge made law. And Joe Arpaio had the rules changed on him in the middle of things and, yes, he defied the order of the judge but he didn't violate federal law. He violated --
CUOMO: Just hold on a second. So the Supreme Court comes up with ruling 5-3. Supreme Court come up with the ruling 5-3, Scalia, may he rest in peace, he didn't like it. There was dissent. Nobody is saying there wasn't, but it was the law of the land, that's what the supremacy cost were dictated, right? So they come forth and say you can't just go round up brown folks because you think they might be illegal aliens, as Joe Arpaio would call them. You have to be enforcing another law. You can ask for immigration papers if they don't have them you proceed on that basis. The law was clear. There was a standard --
KING: We should remember --
CUOMO: He flouted it.
KING: We should remember, though, SB-1070 --
KING: -- specifically prohibited targeting people because of race or ethnicity, specifically prohibited that. But President Obama made the statement that you could be an Hispanic mother and presumably be going out for ice cream, and have and be pulled over, and stopped, and have them demand your papers.
CUOMO: Right, do you like that?
KING: -- America. It wasn't consistent. No, I don't like it at all. But the language in SB-1070 prohibited that there be anyone targeted because of race or ethnicity for that specific purpose. But as long as it is part of a list of other things, profiling is necessary for law enforcement. Racial profiling set by itself is wrong.
CUOMO: But you say racial profiling as if that wouldn't capture what was happening here. Obviously if you were targeting a group of people because of their demographic qualities, their physical qualities, not their behavior, you're going to run into trouble with the law and that's what Joe Arpaio was doing. And he was found in contempt by two different judges.
So now the president, who is the law and order president, he says. We must respect the rule of law unless he doesn't like that rule of law, and then he calls the man who flouted the law a hero and pardons him. He takes away every sense that the justice system had judged this man and found him lacking. Do you agree with that?
[21:40:00] KING: No, not the way it's characterized. I will say this, that I have been making this case on the Judiciary Committee, in the airwaves, and I don't remember if I've written about it or not. But I'm concerned that Americans believe the broader definition, not racial profiling but profiling itself, that they believe somehow there's a federal law against it and that it's wrong. And I want to make the point it's necessary for law enforcement --
CUOMO: But it gets slippery.
KING: -- characterize the people that they are looking for.
CUOMO: It get slippery. Remember how --
KING: Yes. And that's why there's a directive from the Justice Department.
CUOMO: That's right.
KING: I think that's an appropriate directive.
CUOMO: And the sheriff flouted it. And why is it a slippery slope? You've lived this slippery slope. Because when you start learning about some, you start judging all. And that's where the cantaloupe came from, right? I know that you've apologized for it. I know you --
KING: No, that's not right, Chris. I'm a little surprised you bring that up.
KING: And I insist that I have the right to insult drug smugglers. I have the right to insult drug smugglers.
CUOMO: It's not about whether or not you have the right. It's about whether it is right. The idea that --
CUOMO: -- is silly. Congressman, it's silly. And it paints a group of people --
KING: It's not. It's accurate.
CUOMO: -- in a certain way. KING: And the statement that I made is completely and demonstrably true --
CUOMO: That people who struggle drugs have cantaloupe calves and that's how you know. That's --
KING: -- because they're carrying 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. And if you haven't seen the film you ought to Google it.
CUOMO: Look, I've lived it. I've been there.
KING: I've been down there and see it with my eyes.
CUOMO: And so am I. I've been there for over a decade. I've seen it come --
KING: If you've seen what I've described, haven't you --
CUOMO: -- documentary on it that comes out in the fall. The point is this, when you judge some and you make them a reflection of all it's a slippery slope. That was the problem with what you said. That's the problem with what Joe Arpaio did, two federal judges.
KING: -- hyperventilation, because I insulted drug smugglers and that's a characterization --
CUOMO: No, you insulted Latinos by saying the calves and --
KING: -- except the drug smugglers. That's silly. That's not what I've said.
CUOMO: You have to understand --
KING: You got to look at what I said not what people characterize as what I said, and I will stand on that statement for a lifetime. It's accurate. It's subjective and it's a fair characterization and it came from the border patrol who deal with it every day. And I go down there and ride with them --
CUOMO: I was just with the border patrol --
CUOMO: And I couldn't find one border patrol agent who says, yes, we can always tell the drug smugglers by the size of their calves. You know, it's just painting people --
KING: They're afraid of you, Chris. CUOMO: They're not afraid. Nobody one is afraid of me and certainly you congressman. What I'm saying is --
KING: They're not going to give you that answer.
CUOMO: It creates an ugly reality. Joe Arpaio reveled in that. He liked disgracing Latino people. He liked to separate them.
CUOMO: -- concentration camps.
KING: -- as valedictorians. I think we're talking over each other --
CUOMO: No, but congressman, I heard what you said. And, you know what, you do have valedictorians in a lot of that population, the DACA population --
CUOMO: -- arrivals, 96 percent say that there is --
KING: -- drug smugglers that will sneak in under DACA definitions.
CUOMO: Well, how can you --
KING: -- was about it.
KING: -- shake them by the shoulders because they were -- how can I make that --
CUOMO: How can you make that calculation that minorities who come here are 100-1 drug smugglers to students or good workers?
KING: You know, of all of the critics in the press not one critic came forward with a single valedictorian and I can show you drug smugglers to no end down there. And you surely got that from the border patrol. If not it wasn't a valid experience --
CUOMO: But if just being a valedictorian is what made you a good student and a valuable employee, you and I would probably be locked up somewhere right now. It's not just about being a valedictorian.
KING: I don't know. We might have been in a debate class together --
CUOMO: It's about being a beneficial member of society, a contributing, 96 percent of these DACA people are either in school or they're working and they're doing well. KING: I want them to respect the rule of law.
CUOMO: They were brought here as kids.
KING: -- and their presence here means either they or their parents didn't respect the rule of law and know they didn't all come as kids. Some did. Many didn't. They're up to 37 years old now and many of them knew.
CUOMO: Now, now they are.
KING: MS-13 didn't wait until they were 18 before they brought them into the United States.
CUOMO: What kind of --
KING: And a vast majority of MS-13 are illegal aliens.
CUOMO: Look, MS-13 --
KING: -- and many of them would qualify under DACA.
CUOMO: -- MS-13 is a real gang. It's an organized criminal organization. We're not talking about them. They're criminals. They're violent. What they do is an extension of their criminality. They should be judge the certain way when you find gangbangers and get rid of them. Nobody argues about that. It's about these other kids who came in as kids and they're just supposed to turn themselves in 10 years later --
CUOMO: -- when they realize how they got here? You think that is what America is about congressman, I'll give you the last --
KING: And what about their parents then? If it was against their will then it had to be their parents that are responsible. And I'm still waiting for the first DACA recipient to say so and sign an affidavit that say I didn't really do this of my own accord. My parents brought me in. They should have the law enforced against them. Give me amnesty.
[21:45:07] CUOMO: Yes.
KING: I'm not hearing that from the DACA people.
CUOMO: It's a shock.
CUOMO: -- their parents should be prosecuted. Congressman, we're going to leave this conversation here. It's a bigger discussion and I'm always happy to have it with you. Thank you for coming on the show tonight. Congressman Steve King.
KING: Thanks, Chris. Let's build the wall and restore the rule of law. Thanks.
CUOMO: All right, one step at a time.
So, President Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio is another point of division in the country. (INAUDIBLE) help matters. Trump says Arpaio is a hero. You just heard a congressman defend that decision. Two federal judges disagree.
We're also going to continue watching the storms and flooding in Texas. There's more water on the way and there are people in need of rescue. Stay with us.
CUOMO: So what do you think was pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former sheriff the right thing to do? It's not about the law it's about the morality at play and the fact that the sheriff violated a court order from two different federal judges. So Congressman Steve King from Iowa just told us that profiling which is what he says Joe Arpaio was doing is necessary for law enforcement. He draws distinction between profiling and racial profiling. I can tell a little confusing. Let's discuss.
[21:50:12] CNN Political Commentator, Jen Psaki, Former White House Communications Director and Former State Department spokesperson, and Former Republican Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum, CNN Senior Political commentator. What did you hear in that discussion, Rick, what are the merits of the decision from your perspective?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what I heard with respect to what Steve King was saying is that, you know, Joe Arpaio did violate the law. Obviously, you wouldn't be pardoned if you weren't convicted of something. I mean, that's what I find a little confusing here that you are saying it's the morality of it. And, all of these other factors, but, you don't get pardoned unless you did something wrong. And that you were going to be, you know sentenced or in fact were sentenced and convicted. Obviously, Joe Aarpaio wasn't sentenced but there's no doubt that Joe Arpaio broke the law. So that -- otherwise we wont' be talking about a pardon.
CUOMO: You are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am saying that the president's ability legally to pardon is not a real issue. He has almost complete authority to pardon anybody he wants other than in matters of impeachment. I'm saying --
SANTORUM: -- find this particular offense very heinous.
CUOMO: I'm saying that's the issue.
SANTORUM: -- it's an extraordinarily heinous offense.
CUOMO: Doesn't have to be heinous to be morally wrong. I don't think. I'm your Catholicism is stronger than mine.
SANTORUM: Are you suggesting --
CUOMO: Do you agree with the pardon?
SANTORUM: Are you suggesting that these other people who are pardoned didn't do morally wrong things. I mean, let's go back to everyone --
CUOMO: They got to be convicted of something as you point out. But I think --
CUOMO: There are different levels and different issues.
CUOMO: Do you agree with the pardon just to get an answer?
SANTORUM: Well, I don't agree at the timing of the pardon. I think he should have been sentenced. I think maybe he should have served some time. That would have been my preference. But as far as the actual pardon, probably would have done it myself at some point, yes.
CUOMO: Jen Psaki, but you guys argument keeps coming up. But you guys, you Obama people you pardoned lots of people, bad people. And so, why should there be any outrage about what the new president is doing? What is your response?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look I think on the legal front they went through a process and consideration that went through the Department of Justice. And that didn't happen here. Which I think is raising a lot of red flags for people. But I think, Chris to your morality, morality point, the issue here is this is ripping open, he's almost the symbol of a lot of the racial divisions that have been a part of our country and our fabric for decades. About the treatment, the disparity of treatment between people of different racial background, by law enforcement officials and this is a painful reminder to a lot of people, of that.
So that's why, this is really about why did President Trump make this decision to make this his first pardon, somebody who was going to continue to divide and not unite the country at a point when we really needed unity and not division.
SANTORUM: I would say that that's probably going to be the case in any high profile pardon. I mean, you go back to private Manning and the decision by President Obama to give that pardon. That certainly ripped open a lot of wound that a lot of people were harmed by the information that was leaked. And, you know, I would say was a very immoral pardon --
CUOMO: But President Obama didn't say what Chelsea Manning did was OK, in fact, she's a hero. He didn't say that, right?
PSAKI: And he commuted her. He commuted her.
CUOMO: Commuted the sentence. She was actually serving time. And the president's reckoning was she served enough, looking at other cases in similar nature and context. This is enough time. So I'm commuting the sentence. Certainly controversial. But what President Trump is saying here isn't, he's done enough time. It's he's done nothing wrong. Violating federal orders, two different judges finding contempt, there's nothing wrong with that. It makes him a hero. Do you have any problem with that message, Rick?
SANTORUM: You know, I don't like that message to be honest with you. I mean, I think it is one thing to pardon someone who you think was wronged by the system or you believe was not treated fairly by the system. And I think there certainly a lot of evidence out there that he wasn't treated fairly by the system.
But, I think it is one thing to do that. It's another thing to revel in suggesting that, you know, that he was a hero. I think in some respects, if you look at his history, certainly he served this country in a lot of different respects and served admirably. In that case referring to, you know, his time in the service and other things that he did. Certainly he has a strong and long record of service to our country. And maybe that's what he's referring to.
CUOMO: He has a long record, that's for sure. Well let the historians sort it out. Rick Santorum. Thank you. Jen Psak, as always.
Up next, we're going to look at how Mother Nature's hardest punches have brought out the best in all of us.
[21:58:40] CUOMO: This hurricane is Mother Nature at her worst. There's no question about that. But it also brought out human nature at its best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED LAVENDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You guys jumping in to help out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
LAVENDERA: Where are you coming from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tech city.
LAVENDERA: Tech city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
LAVENDERA: What are you going to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll boat on (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Ed Lavendera talking to that man, Ed Lavendera reporting at its best. And that man, coming from his own home to help others. And he isn't the only one running or wading towards floodwaters. A group of neighbors today pulled dogs and cats out of a flooded home saving them on makeshift boogie board floats and kayak rescue boats.
We're seeing it time and time again, people going out of their way to help others in need. Some people in Houston are approaching the horrifying situation with a sense of humor. If one of those laugh or cry moments.
On a tough day after a tough weekend we'll hopefully leave you tonight with a smile on your face as one Houston woman and her family made the most of their flooded living room, literally, literally, fishing for dinner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That's not making the best of a bad situation, I don't know what is. Thank you for watching us. "CNN Tonight" is next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "CNN breaking News".