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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Hurricane Irma Slams Caribbean, At Least 3 Dead; Barrels Toward Florida; Trump Blindsides GOP Leadership with Dem Deal; Source: GOP Leaders "Visibly Annoyed" When Ivanka Trump Showed up at Oval Office Meeting; Facebook Sold Political Ads to Russian "Troll Farm"; Trump Jr. to be Questioned by Senate Judiciary Tomorrow; Category 5 Irma Barrels Toward Florida, Hurricane Jose Forms It, Following Similar Path. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

People tonight are finding out what a strong category hurricane, the strongest-ever recorded over the Atlantic and growing even stronger can do. Millions more either on the move or hunkering down because of what it might do to them, the images already speak to how destructive Hurricane Irma is and so does the sound. Just listen.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

COOPER: That image is from St. Martin, the island got hammered, so did nearby St. Barts. Officials reporting two fatalities on those islands so far but as always we should say that these numbers are very early and very fluid.

Elsewhere -- well, just take a look. This is the island of Barbuda, at least one fatality reported there. There's some of the first pictures of the devastation. They were taken from a chopper flying the prime minister of Barbuda and Antigua over the scene.

I spoke with the prime minister a few minutes ago. We'll play you that interview shortly. What he saw, he calls the destruction unprecedented, saying -- and they're his words -- Barbuda is barely habitable.

And now, this monstrous storm, this already destructive and deadly storm, has started slamming Americans, millions of people with no way out in Puerto Rico. In a moment, the newest forecast of exactly where on the continental United States this may hit and just how hard.

But, first, let's go to CNN's Leyla Santiago who is in San Juan for us.

What are the conditions there, Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're certainly starting to feel the winds -- are not starting -- we are still feeling. We've been feeling this for several hours now as Irma is near the northern coast where we are right now of Puerto Rico. The shelters right now have more than 2,000 people in them at last

check. Rain is coming down and within the last hour, after checking with emergency management officials, they tell me that this evening, they have only had one rescue that they've had to carry out and that they haven't had any major injuries as a result of Irma. But you can tell, this wind is coming in strong and this was the fear for many.

You know, today, as we talked to one woman was locking up her business, closing down before going home to stay there for this very moment, very interesting how she locked the door and looked at us and said it is now in God's hands. Anderson, there's been a lot of fear leading to what we are seeing right now given that this is one of the strongest storms that has come this way. The governor saying that they have never dealt with the storm of this magnitude in Puerto Rico's recorded history.

So, now is the point that many people are paying attention to wait and see what is next, will there be floods and will they be able to handle what comes over the next 24 hours, Anderson.

COOPER: When is it supposed to be at its worst and I'm wondering how close from what you understand is it's supposed to get to Puerto Rico?

SANTIAGO: Well, it is coming just above the northern coast. We don't expect it to make direct landfall, but we will still have that that impact that will still be felt. We still will feel the wrath of this category 5 hurricane, making its way above Puerto Rico.

You know, that the governor has said all day that they were that they were hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. We don't know yet what the worst will be. Heavy winds, yes, we've seen it. Rain, yes, we've seen it. Rising water, some of it.

But what will come next is the big fear for this island that is filled with 3.5 million U.S. citizens that are dealing with the uncertainty of what's next.

COOPER: Yes. Leyla Santiago, we'll check in with you throughout these next two hours. Be careful.

At the top of the program, we showed you what it looks like on the island of Barbuda. Just before air, I spoke with Gaston Brown, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. Prime Minister, if you could describe the scene you saw over Barbuda today.

PRIME MINISTER GASTON BROWNE, ANTIGUA & BARBUDA (via telephone): It was heart-wrenching, absolutely devastating. I have never seen any such destruction on a per capita basis, prepared to what I saw in Barbuda this afternoon. Ninety-five percent of the properties in Barbuda were damaged. The infrastructure was damaged, all of the institutions, the lone hospital, the schools. It is absolutely heart- wrenching. COOPER: You said that 95 percent of the structures are damaged. How many of those are completely destroyed?

[20:05:03] BROWNE: In my estimation, probably about -- probably 20 percent, 30 percent of the properties were totally demolished, and let me add to that, even the lone airport as well was damaged, so it cannot accommodate any form of flight. The only way to access them now is by helicopters.

We have a situation to in which the telecommunication system was totally destroyed. So, for example, we have seen cell towers literally broken in two.

COOPER: So, is the island right now cut off?

BROWNE: Well, it was, and that is why it took us so long because we could not have gotten any form of communication. They had a ham system there that was actually ham radio system. It was destroyed. They even had a few satellite phones and apparently those got damaged during the storm.

So, they had absolutely no mechanism to communicate with us. It was too treacherous for any boats to go over to Barbuda and try helicopter. But a few of us to join it over there, it's tough, you know, when we actually with the element, not to get an idea as to what is happening because we noticed that after about 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. last night or this morning, we could not having any form of communication from Barbuda.

COOPER: You know, in some of the video from today, we can see at the cell tower seems just snapped. In terms of injuries or fatalities, what have you learned?

BROWNE: Well, luckily, there was only one fatality. I'm told that, apparently, one of the properties that was destroyed and the mother was actually moving, the child and obviously they're trying to get to safer ground, and they're in the process of leaving the property, those damaged apparently. The child suffered a fatal injury.

But when you look at the extent of the devastation, I'm surprised that we do not have more fatalities. So that in itself would have confirmed that, you know, they would have had a high level of awareness. But the monstrosity that this storm was, anything that would have been in his path evidently would have suffered the wrath of that storm.

So, it is easily one of the most damn consequential storms to have actually, you know, as if out in the Atlantic and certainly, you have actually come to the Caribbean.

COOPER: What are the capabilities in terms of relief of getting what's needed to that island? I know you said the runway is damaged. Obviously, that's something that needs to be repaired in order to bring in large aircraft.

BROWNE: Well, yes. So, what we'll have to do is to use Antigua as a hub and then to then use helicopters and some boats to move them easily by (INAUDIBLE) into Barbuda, and we're presently negotiating with different international agencies in different countries. We've actually estimated the rebuilding effort to be no less than probably US$100 million and that is conservative because you're talking about putting by rebuilding everything, all of the institutions the infrastructure for telecommunication, to roads, curbs and drains.

It is just absolutely heart-wrenching. Even the hotels on the island, those are totally demolished as well. It is terrible.

COOPER: Prime Minister Browne, I appreciate your time tonight and wish you the best. Thank you.

BROWNE: Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll get another report from that island coming up.

More now though on the scope of the threat, the strength of the storm and who is now in danger, as well as the horrifying fact that Irma is now just one of three hurricanes out there.

For that, we're joined by CNN meteorologist Tom Sater, and Ed Rappaport, acting director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Tom, first of all, let's just talk about the most important thing -- where is this headed, how strong is it going to get?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Conditions are starting to deteriorate, Anderson, and Puerto Rico and San Juan, they're getting gust over sixty right now and the rains really going to start to pick up. Yesterday, we told you there's only one other hurricane in recorded history, in the Atlantic, that was stronger, that was Allen in 1980. But Irma surpassed Allen in one dangerous category. This has been churning for over straight hours, with winds above 180 miles per hour. That is just staggering and it continues its strength.

We saw the large ice swallow up Barbuda. We heard from the foreign minister of France, saying the four largest structures in St. Maarten have been destroyed, along with most of the other buildings. We haven't heard from Anguilla.

Then in the British Virgin Islands and the radar now showing a well- defined offshore, not expected to make landfall, not for Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic or for Haiti. But the outer bands are starting to last this and will for a couple more hours.

The National Hurricane Center's track shows that moving through the Turks and Caicos and between Cuba, warnings are in effect there. We could see a 15, 20-foot storm surge then the Turks and Caicos in southeast Bahama Islands, already evacuations taking place there.

Not much of a change from this morning to this evening's track, but there was a change from last night. Shifting it eastward toward Miami, about 60 to 70 miles per -- off to the east. There is still a cone of uncertainty here, so each day is important as we watch these models unfold each and every day this week.

COOPER: So, just to specify that on Miami, it has now shifted which direction, east?

[20:10:05] SATER: East, about 60 to 70 miles, yes.

COOPER: All right. So, Ed, I know you -- I mean, you've spent decades studying forecasting hurricanes. From a historical perspective, how rare is this storm and what do you make of these models, how accurate are they?

ED RAPPAPORT, ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: At this point, we have quite a bit of confidence in the next three and a half days or so in terms of the track. As you saw, we're expecting the hurricane to pass just north of the islands. And then when it gets about to the Florida peninsula, we're going to see a turn. What we don't know is where the turns gonna occur right over the peninsula, just to the east or just to the west, that makes a huge difference.

If the hurricane turns and comes over south Florida as is forecast now, this would be the most significant impact that we've had in Florida and in fact in the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew. So, this would be a once-in-a-generation type of hurricane if it comes ashore at category four to five.

COOPER: So, that's the middle track or is that the track on the far west?

RAPPAPORT: Right now, the forecast track is for the Hurricane Center to come up very close to the east coast. But we're talking about four to five days from now and the average error is large enough to cover the entire peninsula here from west to east. So, if it comes ashore, we will have the worst of the conditions. If it turns offshore and even passes say miles offshore and we'll still have hurricane-force winds in south Florida because the size of the storm is large enough to bring hurricane-force winds out to that extent.

COOPER: Do you know -- I mean, this may be a dumb question -- when we will know which of those options it may be taking, with confidence?

RAPPAPORT: We'll probably know in about 24 to 36 hours. At this point, what we've what we know is a little more clearly is that the back will turn near the peninsula. As of yesterday, we're still some possibility that it would make it into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. That's much less likely right now.

Now, we're focused more on the area from east to the west part of the Florida peninsula.

COOPER: And, Tom, is it possible for you to go further up the East Coast?

SATER: Yes. I mean, we could look at an ensemble. This is about 21 models that make up the U.S., the GFS model, and we're still wondering, first, if it's going to interact with Cuba because that could downgrade it somewhat and squeeze out a lot of water unfortunately for Cuba.

But if it heads in this direction and then further to the north, I mean, we could be looking at a landfall up in the Carolinas if it stays just off the coast as well. And, Anderson, this is a lot like Matthew last year. I mean, this is devastated a category 5 in Haiti, taking hundreds of lives, and then plowing into Cuba.

But if you recall, when it made its way through the Bahamas and we had kind of a an eyewall replacement cycle reorganizing itself near Freeport, it stayed right along the coast. I mean, we had significant damage on A1A buildings all the way up and down the coast, and don't forget the historic flooding that we had up in the Carolinas where we lost dozens of people with the flooding and parts of Georgia, South and North Carolina.

So, even if it stays off the coast, there's going to be damaged. The difference is off coast catastrophic damage and if it stays off the coast, it'll be minimal or moderate damage. But if it just slides a little bit -- I mean, we're talking catastrophic damage on land for the entire peninsula. The winds -- the tropical storm force winds are so wide, it would swallow the entire Florida peninsula as it makes its way northward.

COOPER: Ed, I mean just how buildings in a city like Miami if it was that track that takes it right over land, how strong are they? I mean, are they built to prepare for a cat 5?

RAPPAPORT: After Hurricane Andrew, Florida upgraded their building codes. Their building codes are the strongest in the nation here. Still, a category 5 hurricane is going to cause devastating damage. The buildings may well be strong enough for people to survive now, which is good. But there will be tremendous damage if center and the eyewall just around it, come across the land.

COOPER: Tom Sater, Ed Rappaport, we'll continue to check in with you.

Coming up next, what it is like to observe and measure this storm from a whole lot closer than this view from space. We're about to show you.

You'll hear from a NOAA scientist who has just flown straight into Irma, says it is getting even stronger as we speak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:56] COOPER: Hurricane Irma, category five, deadly, now passing just north of Puerto Rico after slamming St. Barts, St. Martin, and laying waste to the island of Barbuda. Millions of people throughout the Caribbean now have some terrible hours days and weeks ahead. Others facing dangers so they can get the latest information on the storm itself, flying directly into hurricanes.

Late today, I spoke with a NOAA flight director Richard Henning aboard one of those missions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Richard, this is your third mission flying into Hurricane Irma. How does this flight compare to the previous ones?

RICHARD HENNING, FLIGHT DIRECTOR, NOAA HURRICANE HUNTERS (via telephone): Well, the last three flights that we've done, we've essentially followed the same kind of a pattern. I'm flying in the NOAA Gulfstream jet, which is a high-altitude hurricane under reconnaissance aircraft. This is the aircraft that flies across the top of the storm at 45,000 feet.

And what we do, there's a key element to our mission is that we're releasing drops sondes, which are essentially the opposite of a weather balloon. Instead of going up, we use sondes fall by parachute and transmit data back to the aircraft, critical data like pressure, temperature, GPS, wind direction, wind speed, and all that data gets gathered by the aircraft, and we transmitted by satellite for the National Hurricane Center. It goes directly into the computer model that are forecasting the track, which everybody in the entire southeastern us is now focusing on that track.

So, we are dropping 33 of those sondes on our mission this evening in order to refine the accuracy of the track.

COOPER: And in terms of what the storm is doing right now, I mean, can you say if it's getting weaker, is it maintaining, or is it getting stronger?

HENNING: The storm has actually, sadly -- sad to say, the storm is actually getting stronger. The latest aircraft in the center measure the pressure of 914 millibars which is the lowest it's been.

[20:20:06] And we're continuing to see winds measured directly by the aircraft in the range of 150 to 160 knots at the surface, in the eyewall, which is over 180 miles per hour. So, this is a legitimate category 5 hurricane. There's -- you really can't overhype the storm.

It's the strongest storm that has ever formed in this part of the Atlantic. We've had cat 5s that have formed further to the west, closer to Miami. Of course, we had Andrew, then we have had the storms like Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2005. But we really haven't seen a storm like Irma.

So, it's extremely dangerous especially with the past that it's projected, to go through the Bahamas and threaten Florida. Also a very large storm.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it bears repeating what you just said, that this is the strongest storm in the Atlantic that we have ever seen, and it's getting stronger. Is it getting stronger because it's going over warmer water as it approaches the U.S.?

HENNING: Yes, that is a big part of it. Part of it is the upper- level environment around the storm, and that's exactly what we are measuring right now with our Gulfstream jet. Again, we're up at 45,000 feet, getting a full profile of the atmosphere from that altitude, all the way down to when the sondes flashes in the ocean. So, it's not only the environment around the storm that's important

but also the ocean temperatures. The ocean temperatures ahead of Irma are very, very warm. We're talking water temperatures of 87, 88 degrees Fahrenheit and that just is fuel for the fire. The waters through the Bahamas, heading towards Miami are about the warmest they've been all year.

COOPER: And you talked about the size of the eye. If you could just repeat how big that eye is, and I know yesterday, people were talking about how sort of perfect the eyewall was, I'm wondering how it looks today.

HENNING: The eye continues to have that perfect, what we call the stadium effect to it, where it looks like you're inside a circular football stadium. Right now, the eye is approximately 15 miles across. It's actually getting smaller. It's going through another one of those, what we call eyewall replacement cycles, where there's a double eye wall right now.

That outer eye wall is forming that has a wider diameter than the inner eye wall, and it's contracting in towards the center. And normally what that does is it actually weakens the storm briefly. So, what you might see overnight is you might see the hurricane bottomed out in intensity, maybe even weaken just a few millibars. But then once it completes that eyewall replacement cycle, it's right back to being even stronger than it was before, and Irma has been three amazing because it's gone through about four or five of these cycles over the last few days.

COOPER: It's incredible to see. I appreciate all the work that you and all your colleagues are doing to keep us informed. Richard Henning, thank you.

HENNING: Thank you. Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I want to go now to Miami Beach and Mayor Philip Levine.

Mayor, do you feel that the Miami Beach is prepared for whatever comes?

MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Anderson, this is one of the most powerful storms in the history of the Atlantic, as your folks have just told you. I think we are as prepared as possible at this point. The county just declared a mandatory evacuation.

I've been telling our residents and our tours as of yesterday, get out of Miami Beach. The storm is a nuclear hurricane.

So, we have putting in pumps, we're putting in portable pumps, portable generators. We've been offering sandbag to our residents, so they can fortify their houses. But starting tomorrow morning, it's a mandatory evacuation. We want people to take this seriously and get off Miami Beach, including residents and visitors.

COOPER: How easy is it for people to get out if they choose to tomorrow heeding the --

LEVINE: Well, we're going to be offering all types of services, Anderson. We're going to have busses to take them off, trolleys. We have an entire protocol and program put together. We are working with our seniors, our homeless community.

And, of course, our special needs folks have already been under a mandatory evacuation I think as of yesterday, is when that was called. So, we're going to do everything I can and, of course, we're here for our residents and we just want all of them to be safe and that's the mandatory -- the most important thing.

COOPER: I know you know Miami has learned from past hurricanes, from past decades, and building codes are very -- I know people pride themselves on the strength of the building codes there. Just in terms of a category four or category five, you know, can buildings safely sustain that? Are they built for that?

LEVINE: Well, look, one of your experts said since Hurricane Andrew, the upgrade and the protocols for the construction are much higher. They're supposed to. But it doesn't make a difference. You can't take chances.

We do not want to be -- we don't want to be sorry, we want to be safe. So, folks should listen to this absolute mandatory evacuation and they should leave Miami Beach.

You know, of course, I'm going to be there. Our team is going to be there, all the way through this entire storm, and we're doing everything we can to protect our residents and, of course, property.

COOPER: About how many residents are in Miami Beach who you would like to have evacuated?

LEVINE: Well, I'd like to have all of them, but it's almost a little under 100,000 people and that's not including our tourists, and we're getting them out of the hotels right now. I issued a letter today before the mandatory evacuations, saying, please, I urge you to leave Miami Beach now. This is not a game. This is serious business.

COOPER: If somebody is staying for whatever reason, how many days do you advise that they're able to be self-sufficient in terms of food, in terms of water?

LEVINE: Well, that's something that you have to make a personal plan about, Anderson. We don't advise them to stay. Now, what's going to happen is, as this storm moves in and hopefully it doesn't, but it looks like based on what the experts are showing us, with a 300 or 400-mile diameter, it is so wide and so big -- I mean, the state of Florida, the width is only 140 miles across. This will envelop the entire state.

You know, we're telling them that services will be reduced to next to nothing as this storm comes in. So, I hate to say it, but you'll be on your own if you chose to stay in Miami Beach, because we will not put our first responders, their lives in danger, while this storm hits.

COOPER: Well, Mayor, I appreciate your time tonight and wish you best in the coming days. Thank you very much.

LEVINE: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up later, we'll speak to the mayor of Miami-Dade County on how residents are getting for -- getting ready for what could be a catastrophe in just a matter of days.

But, first, the stunning deal that President Trump made with Democrats today, how it happened, why, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- this moment, when we have fellow citizens in need to respond to these hurricanes so that we do not strand them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: President's move surprised his own party and also contradicted himself under the heading of there's a tweet for anything, he wrote this back in 2013. "The worst negotiators in history, otherwise known as Republicans, have just offered to suspend debt ceiling for four months. Pathetic!"

CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now live from the White House with more. So what did the President have to say about this deal with Democrats?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was more of the art of the deal, Schumer/Pelosi edition, Anderson. The President talked to reporters on Air Force One earlier today. He described this deal for a three month extension of the debt ceiling as a very good deal. And over here at the White House, the administration officials were defending it as something that was -- something the President wanted to do to swiftly get hurricane relief down to Texas and Louisiana. That was a part of this package that the President essentially signed off on today.

But Republicans were telling us behind the scenes that they were furious. They wanted a deal that would take the debt ceiling out for 18 months. They obviously did not get that. And I talked to one Republican source earlier today who said not only did the President buck his own party, he buck his own Treasury Secretary, and said essentially the President just folded in this meeting with the Democrats.

COOPER: Can you just explain, I mean, to people who aren't following the efficacies of this, why the Republicans would be upset about that, I mean, not just the fact the President sided with Democrat on this against Republicans, but why Republicans are arguing for a longer continuation of debt ceiling?

ACOSTA: Well, what they want Anderson is essentially a debt ceiling deal that is matched with tax cuts and spending cuts, a tax reform package. Mark Meadows, who is the head of the House Freedom Caucus, was asked by reporters, did you anticipate the President coming up with a three-month extension of the debt ceiling, and he said no, he did not. So this is how in the dark many Republican leaders were up on Capitol Hill. But it basically comes down to a lot of principles on the conservative side of the Republican Party. They just didn't want to give away a debt ceiling increase without getting something in return.

COOPER: I also, I understand Ivanka Trump stopped by near the end of this meeting, sort of coming in. How surprising is that and what do we know about it?

ACOSTA: Right, apparently she came in and essentially greeted the room we're told by Republican sources that the Republican lawmakers are in the room, the leadership was annoyed by this. "Annoyed by this," and thought that they had seen the meeting careen off course was the language that was used.

Now spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan said that this was just not the case that that did not happen, but interesting to note that Ivanka Trump was with the President later on today at this tax reform speech in North Dakota. And at one point, the President said that Ivanka Trump told him, daddy, can I come with you out to North Dakota today? It was one of those moments where you, obviously, you saw that Ivanka Trump was clearly on the President's mind today. And is a part of this administration, a part of this White House.

But when you talk to Republican sources as we did earlier today, they did not appreciate her involvement in that meeting, which did not work out too well for the Republicans. They sound pretty upset about this, and it doesn't sound like this is going to be over any time soon in terms of those sour grapes coming out of that meeting today, Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

As Jim mentioned, in the middle of that high stakes Oval Office meeting with Congressional leadership, the President's daughter start drop in. A Congressional source told CNN that some Republican leaders were visibly annoyed by Ivanka Trump's presence. Speaker Ryan's spokeswoman as you heard said that wasn't true.

Joining me now is Kirsten Powers and Michael D'Antonio. Kirsten, first of all, just beyond the Ivanka thing, which we'll get to second, just this deal itself, why is it so surprising and upsetting to Republicans?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, because I think the Republicans want to have something in return for it. They don't want to just raise the debt ceiling without any sort of spending cuts or something tied to it. And I think they probably recognize what Trump -- I actually don't know why Donald Trump did this, because it's not a very good deal. They recognize the fact that the Democrats are never going to vote against raising the debt ceiling. That's not going to happen. They're not going to shut the government down.

COOPER: Even though they were threatening to. POWERS: Right. It just -- but anybody, I mean, who follow -- has been following politics knows that that's not going to happen. They're not going to be responsible for sending our economy into chaos. And so, there is really no reason for Donald Trump to strike this deal with them. He didn't need to strike this deal to get what he wanted.

COOPER: He also talked about movement on DACA, which is also something Democrats want.

POWERS: Right.

COOPER: Michael, how surprising is it that Ivanka Trump, you know, drops in on such a high level meeting like this?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Not at all. And this is a woman who, as a child, did this from the closet at her school. She would call her father at the right moment, and he would stop a meeting to take her call to demonstrate how close they were. So she's been this kind of prop and instrument for him most of her life.

[20:34:58] And I actually imagine in this case that they knew what was going on, that no one else did. That the Trumps understood that he was going to make this arrangement with the Democrats. It was going to sell out the Republicans. But their interest is the President. It's not the Republican Party and it's really not a concern about the debt ceiling in December.

COOPER: It's also interesting, Kirsten, I mean, it's, you know, the abnormal becomes normal after a time. I mean, if, again, I go back to -- if this was Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton just decided to pop into a meeting to talk about an issues that was important, I'm not sure Republicans would be greeting this like oh, yes, that's just normal.

POWERS: Right. Well, I don't think it is normal. And I think, you know, this is something she's done repeatedly. She's come into meetings the President having and -- I don't know if he realizes that this actually isn't that impressive to people, right? I mean, the fact that -- so his meeting with "The New York Times" and then in comes Ivanka with the grand child, and it just -- I think he thinks, you know, Ivanka is sort of his prized possession, and everybody is going to be so blown away because she showed up.

COOPER: Right, in fact today in North Dakota, he said everybody loves Ivanka.

POWERS: Yes, right. But nobody cares. You know, I mean, it's just not -- this isn't -- this is the White House, right? I mean, I don't think anybody is going to stop and be like, oh my gosh, Ivanka is here, this is so amazing. You know, their meeting with the President of the United States and they're interviewing him or the meeting with the President of United States and they're trying to figure out, you know, governance. They don't need the daughter coming in, in the middle of the meeting. COOPER: Yes. Michael D'Antonio, thank you, Kirsten Powers. We got to move on. Thank you.

Coming up, Donald Trump Jr. scheduled to speak with Senate Judiciary Committee staffers tomorrow. There's a lot more to get you up to date on the Russia-White House watch.

Also ahead, of course, the latest on Hurricane Irma, where it is, where it's going, the damage importantly that's already been done.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New details are coming out tonight on just how Russian interference in the U.S. election actually played out, particularly on social media. Facebook told Congressional investigators today that it sold about $100,000 worth of political ads to a so-called Russian troll farm targeting American voters. Jim Sciutto joins with us that. So what's the latest on this?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, as you said, Anderson, $100,000 in ads, 3,000 adds over the course of June 2016 to May 2017 of this year. It doesn't sound like a lot of money or a lot of ads in the whole scheme of things. But keep in mind the way Facebook works, 3,000 ads they can be shared many times. So likely the eyeballs that saw those ads, many multiples of that, that's a key fact here.

[20:40:05] Another one is this, and this is something that Adam Schiff, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, brought up today on our air. He said that it raises the question, again, because some of these ads Facebook said were targeted to particular communities, districts, et cetera, now all of them but some of them, and that will raise questions about something that's already been a focus of this investigation. If Russia was targeting particular swing districts, did they get any help from here in the U.S.? Still an open question, but one the committees are very much interested in.

COOPER: And what about these ads, I mean, they directly make reference to the election?

SCIUTTO: They do. Not all of them did, some did, some made reference to Clinton or Trump. And crucially those that did not, Facebook said they were divisive issues, issues like LGBT rights, gun rights, et cetera, which were part of the political debate, which -- and again, this is something for the committees to investigate, political topics not necessarily helping or hurting a particular candidate, but ones that sought to inject themselves into very hot button issues which were issues in that campaign.

COOPER: And we know Facebook handed this information over to Congress. What happens now?

SCIUTTO: They do. Well, this is interesting, because we're hearing from sources on the Hill that Facebook wanted this to come out last week during the recess. The Senate Intelligence Committee said no. You're going to do this when the members are back, when recess is over. It appears perhaps an effort by Facebook to want to bury this during the summer still when recess was still going on. So, it's out now, it's getting attention. The committee believed it deserves -- but it still many open questions here, one of which I raised earlier, which is what does this say about whether there was coordination here. Did Russia and these Russia bot farms, as they were targeting particular districts and particular eyeballs, did they get any help from here in the U.S. to do that?

COOPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks. We're also learning new details tonight about the larger Russia investigation. Tomorrow, Donald Trump Jr., will speak to staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now this morning, Former National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, spoke with the House Intelligence Committee. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is also moving forward. Just in recent days, Mueller has asked the White House to preserve all documents related to the Trump Tower meeting, examined Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's potential role and the Republican Advisers effort to get Hillary Clinton's stolen e-mails.

He also subpoenaed Former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort's spokesman and former lawyer, and obtain the draft to President Trump's letter explaining why he fired then FBI Director James Comey. Carl Bernstein joins me now, John Dean, and Jeffrey Toobin. Carl, I mean, based on Mueller's moves, where do you see this going?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mueller is looking at two things, an obstruction of justice that might have occurred by the president of the United States in trying to undermine and obstruct and demean and kill the investigation into these allegations of Russian interference. And also, he's looking for evidence of collusion. We keep hearing that key word, collusion. And yet, his shop has been very tight. We do not have real "leaks" out of Mueller's shop, and we don't have evidence that he has found convincing evidence of collusion. That doesn't mean he has not.

But thus far, what is apparent is how convincing the evidence of the White House, presidential cover is. The question is, what is it that Donald Trump has been covering up, as you and I have talked about on this air for a good while. Does it go just to his business dealings in Russia and around the Russian empire, former Russian empire, with oligarchs, et cetera, et cetera, in favorable conditions for loans, et cetera? We don't know. But does it go to collusion? That we have no evidence of, certainly in the press yet.

COOPER: And John, I mean, this Donald Trump Jr. interview tomorrow by the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, he's always said that he's totally transparent. Obviously that's not been the case. There are a lot of unanswered questions and many different versions of what happened surrounding that meeting. How do you think the staff is going to approach this tomorrow?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not clear if they're going to put him under oath or not, whether this is actually a deposition or just an informal meeting to explore different areas and evidence. Depending on what -- which status it is, they may press him very hard on what happened on the details to that meeting. They probably know a good bit about it already. There have been other people who are there have been in touch with the Senate. So that will be the focus obviously

And I think secondarily, they may look for some corroboration with the dossier. He's -- there are no rules of evidence involved here. They can probe him for any hearsay he knows about what happened, any of the issues that are raised in that dossier that he might be aware of. So I think they'll explore all avenues and nothing is off bounds or out of bounds.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, I spoke to Senator Chris Coons last hour earlier. We're going to play that interview in the next hour. He made it clear that even though this is in a public hearing tomorrow, Donald Trump Jr. and the Senate Judiciary staff behind close doors, he says it will still be on the record. Are there legal consequences if he lies and, you know, you, I think in the past, have said kind of these staff interviews that aren't public can actually be more efficient, because people aren't sort of grandstanding for the cameras?

[20:45:20] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And it is a crime to lie in a staff meeting like this whether he's under oath or not. I mean, it could be different crimes and it could be less serious if it's not under oath, but it is certainly still a crime.

But, you know, I think it's important to point out that as important as these interviews are, these investigations stand or fall not on interviews, but on physical evidence. E-mails, remember, we wouldn't even know about this meeting but for the e-mails about the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with the Russian lawyer. E-mails, wiretaps, you know, John Dean caused a sensation during his Senate Watergate testimony to the Senate Judiciary, the Senate special committee on Watergate. But what really sealed Richard Nixon's fate was the tapes that corroborated what John said. The corroboration or lack thereof of the testimony, that's really what's going to determine the fate of this investigation.

COOPER: John, do you agree with that?

DEAN: I do. It would have been very lonely without the tapes. So, I actually added that to my testimony at the last minute, but that I thought I had been recorded. And it's the best addition I ever made to my testimony.

COOPER: Did you know you were being recorded or you just kind that you had the feeling?

DEAN: I had the feeling from one meeting in particular on April 15th, when he asked me a bunch of leading questions, and at one point got up and went to the corner of the office and in a staged whisper, he asked me a question. And at that moment, I just clicked and I said, he is recording this. COOPER: Wow.

DEAN: And, so it stuck.

COOPER: Do we know, Carl, the extent to which Mueller may be looking at the President's involvement in crafting that statement for Donald trump Jr., which "The New York Times" reported he had a very active role in?

BERNSTEIN: That is something we do know about, and we know it because there's so many lawyers involved in this, that they have been talking to the press about what their clients have been asked. And as a result, it's very clear that Mueller wants to know what exactly happened at the meeting, and did Donald Trump obstruct justice in crafting a statement on air, plane coming back from Germany, intended to defend his son, Donald Trump Jr. There are accounts of the meeting from numerous sources, and there are also accounts of Trump's plane ride back by, among others, senior White House staffers about how that response was crafted. And that is one of the things specifically that Mueller is looking at in terms of a possible contributing to a larger obstruction of justice question --

COOPER: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: -- about Trump's conduct --

COOPER: Right.

BERNSTEIN: -- throughout these months.

TOOBIN: And, Anderson, if I could just add, I mean, that's -- the testimony about that drafting is not going to be as important as if they can find e-mail drafts of the statement. It's those things that can't be lied about after the fact that really are the most important parts of any criminal investigation.

COOPER: Yes, John Dean, Carl Bernstein, Jeff Toobin, thanks so much.

Up next, the latest on the powerful category 5 Hurricane Irma barreling towards Florida after battering the Caribbean islands. I'll speak with the mayor of Miami-Dade County to find out how they are getting ready.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:51:33] COOPER: We have more information coming in on Hurricane Irma, namely the damage it could do if and when it hits South Florida, so let's go to Tom Sater in the Weather Center. How bad could the winds be if this storm makes a direct landfall in Miami?

SATER: Well, pretty devastating, obviously, Anderson. When we look at a storm of this magnitude, it's defying really the rules of nature here, by hanging at a cat-5 for so long. This track, if it goes right, moves toward Cuba, and comes up from the south, it's going to affect millions of people. So for those that are deciding that they want to hang out a little longer, that you're in a high-rise building. Take a look at this. Keep this in mind. The winds at a cat-3 or cat-4, let's say at the surface, there 145 miles per hour. The higher you live in a high- rise, the more the winds increase. If you're at 30 stories, they increase by 20 percent. Sot that 145 mile per hour wind is 174, because you don't have the friction with the ground.

If you live in a, let's say, the 80th floor to 100th, that's 30 percent stronger. So that same 145 mile per hour wind, Anderson, is up to 189.

It's amazing. You're going to see cranes swirling. Three weeks ago, we had a typhoon in Hong Kong. We had hundreds and hundreds of panes of glass fall from high-rise buildings as well. So not a safe place.

COOPER: And Tom, just quickly, I mean, a few minutes ago I talked to a scientist who is flying through the middle of the storm to gauge its strength, actually above the storm, he said it's actually getting stronger. I'm wondering your reaction to that.

SATER: Yes, what he is talking about, and we mentioned this the other night, alluded to it, when you take a top and spin it on the table, after a while that tropical (ph) forces start to wobble. It's going through an eye wall replacement cycle. And he even mentioned it's gone through four or five and we'll probably have another four or five.

Notice the eye in center where the winds are the strongest, about 50 miles from San Juan. But beyond that eye, there is a secondary band that's been forming. The strong winds in the center, Anderson, fan out and create an outer wall. Once that is established, that outer band then shrinks up and the storm increases again. It takes about 10 to 12 hours to complete one of these cycles, but by the time it's over with, and that outer band comes back into the center, it can be just as strong as it was before it began or even stronger, so that's why it's really been defying the rules here of nature.

So, again, if it continues at that strength with the waters getting warmer, it could go through this eye wall replacement cycle time and time again sustaining that strength which is not the best of news as it gets into the warm waters closer to Florida.

COOPER: Just incredible the strength of this thing. Tom, thanks very much. Continuing the focus on South Florida, I spoke with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Mayor Gimenez, your county just issued a mandatory evacuation order for all mobile homes, some other at-risk areas. How prepared is the area?

MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA (via telephone): Miami-Dade County is very well prepared. We've had experience with hurricanes, you know, forever here, and we've learned a lot from Hurricane Andrew. So we're much better prepared than before. Our state partners and our federal partners are also much better prepared to respond to whatever happens here in Miami-Dade.

COOPER: What's your advice for those in your county who are preparing now?

GIMENEZ: My advice is like I tell everybody is, A, have three days of water and food, you need to be self-sufficient for about three days because if we do have a major storm coming through, we may not be able to get to you for about three days. And we actually need to help those that can't help themselves. And so the more people can, then the rest we have to provide, you know, in those services. So that's the first thing. Make sure that you secure your home. If you live in an evacuation zone, like we just listed, then please, you need to leave because if something happens and the storm comes and you require help of police, fire, we may not be able to get to you.

[20:55:15] COOPER: And in terms of state, federal assets in place before the storm gets there, you feel confident?

GIMENEZ: Well, the problem that we have is that because the storm may be going from south to north, it's difficult for the state or the federal government basically to, you know, pre-locate so that they can come down quickly and that's an issue that we've been talking with the governor and our federal, you know, partners. I understand their predicament. They don't want to be caught in a hurricane, themselves. And some of these models have this -- this hurricane going straight up the state of Florida.

So, you know, they have to, you know, be careful about exactly where they reposition but also Miami-Dade County is much better prepared for hurricanes. An example, when Hurricane Andrew came here, you couldn't get gasoline out of the ground because the gas stations had no power. Well now a great number of our gas stations actually have emergency power. You couldn't get any food because none of our supermarkets had emergency power. Now a great number of our supermarkets have emergency power.

So what we have want to do is make -- get people to be self-sufficient again, get them back on their feet as soon as possible, make sure that they have a way to get around and also a way to feed themselves so that we government have to, you know, can provide the services to those people that really need it.

COOPER: Yes, as you said three days of self-sufficiency. Mayor Gimenez, I appreciate your time. Good luck.

GIMENEZ: Yes, my pleasure. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We have more hurricane coverage coming up. We'll get an update from San Juan, Puerto Rico, a live update. And also, hearing more from people who have already seen in the Caribbean what this storm can do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:59:57] COOPER: Breaking news at the top of the hour, Hurricane Irma one of three hurricanes out there right now stronger than the other two, obviously, stronger, in fact, than any hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. This is what it did to the island of Barbuda, the island according to prime minister barely habitable.