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Trump Jr. Meets with Senate Investigators; Ryan on Trump's Debt Ceiling Deal; Florida Governor's News Conference. Aired 9:30-10:00a ET
Aired September 7, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:31:38] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, any moment now, Donald Trump Junior will be on Capitol Hill to face Senate Russia investigators. Front and center, the June 2016 meeting the president's son had with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux on The Hill on the story for us.
And, look, this is not public as certainly some of the Democrats wanted on that committee. This is private testimony that he will give. And we're expecting him at any moment.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, we are expecting him in just moments to arrive here on The Hill. And one thing that we're learning from Senator Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, some details here that there will be a transcription of this interview, that there will be staffers, not necessarily members of the committee who will be interviewing him, but really a discussion here. That it will be on the record. They will take notes. And eventually, they feel like committee members will get a shot at asking some questions. They can go in and out, but not necessarily take over this meeting.
Diane Feinstein says she does want a public hearing. They have not given up on that yet. She says that, in fact, Trump Junior has agreed to it. But he may or may not stick to that agreement. She says if he doesn't, that they will, in fact, subpoena him.
But the bottom line is that they will be asking him about that meeting that took place back in June of 2016 at the Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who said that she promised to have dirt on his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton. What they really want to know is what happened after that meeting because we do know that Trump Jr. released in that e-mail chain, if you will, the invitation. So was there any quid pro quo after that meeting occurred and what does that mean?
They're also going to be looking at some other folks that they would like before the committee, although they've gone before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. And that would be Paul Manafort, as well as Jared Kushner. They are competing with those committees for them to go before their own members. But it is something that they are hoping to get at a later date.
BERMAN: We do understand, Suzanne, that Donald Trump Junior has now arrived on Capitol Hill and should be behind closed doors at this moment with the Senate Russia investigators. So that is going on. We didn't see him, but we are told he's there.
Also other major developments overnight into this morning having to do with congressional Republicans, Democrats and the president of the United States. The president cutting this deal with Democratic leaders for Harvey funding, also, you know, to suspend the debt limit and also government funding in general. Paul Ryan, I understand, reacting anew this morning.
MALVEAUX: You know, it's interesting because I covered the press conference just an hour prior to that announcement that they had made this deal and what we saw from Paul Ryan who was saying that it was ridiculous and disgraceful what was being handed to them or offered to them from the Democrats, this potential deal, well, a very different story after it emerged afterwards when the president cut that deal. Of course it does have to be signed by members of Congress. But it's expected that Republicans are going to swallow this and do this.
So, you know, this was something that was stunning and embarrassing to a lot of Republicans. But we heard in Paul Ryan today, just about a half hour ago, at a "New York Times" panel, where he is trying to strike a different tone, if it you will. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: My read of the moment in the situation is, it goes back to your earlier point. The president believes -- and I completely understand this -- we've got two hurricanes hitting us right now. And what the president didn't want to do is have some partisan fight in the middle of a response to this. He wanted to make sure that in this moment of national crisis, where our country's getting hit by two horrible hurricanes, he wanted to have a bipartisan response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[09:35:24] MALVEAUX: Not the 18-month deal that they wanted there for raising the debt ceiling, but clearly Paul Ryan trying to put the best spin on this as possible during this hurricane season.
HARLOW: Suzanne Malveaux on The Hill. Thank you very much.
Let's discuss all of it with our panel. CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is here. CNN political commentator Errol Louis joins us as well.
So, Errol, that's one way to look at it. I'm not sure that that is the immediate response that Paul Ryan had yesterday when it happened.
BERMAN: That's putting lipstick on a something is what that is from Paul Ryan.
HARLOW: I think it is. I think it is. Which he's had to do a lot lately.
HARLOW: What do you think, Errol, the bigger deal is -- is here?
Hold on. Let's go to Governor Rick Scott of Florida.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Right now the National Hurricane Center is reporting that Hurricane Irma remains a dangerous and life threatening category four storm -- category five storm with winds of 180 miles per hour. A category five, 180 miles per hour.
Based on what we now know, Miami-Dade will have major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge -- deadly storm surge -- and life- threatening winds. We can expect this all along the east -- the entire coast. The Florida Keys should be prepared to start feeling the effects of the storm as early as tomorrow night.
Look at the size of this storm. It's huge. It's wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts on both coasts, coast to coast. Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate.
Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent. Just because models show it going along the east coast, the west coast will still have hurricane conditions and these storms can move and change. Remember, Hurricane Andrew is one of the worth storms in the history of Florida. This is much worse and more devastating on its current path.
Irma has already caused multiple fatalities. This storm is powerful and deadly. We already have people in the Caribbean that have passed away, died. We are being very aggressive in our preparation with this storm and every Floridian and every family should be very -- take this seriously and be aggressive.
You've got to protect your family. Possessions can be replaced. Your family cannot. This is serious and we cannot take chances. It is life- threatening. It is not a storm you can sit and wait through.
One of our top priorities right now is fuel availability. We know there are problems with supply at gas stations and are working around the clock to get fuel to you. Last night I spoke with all the fuel retailers and I just got off the phone, just a couple minutes ago, with all the -- with the oil companies. I have been very clear to the retailers and the oil companies that we have to know -- that we have to get the fuel as fast as we can out so everybody has the fuel to evacuate. We need to know exactly what their needs are so we can solve their needs.
The issues include fuel availability from our ports, federal rule and regulations, and getting fuel to traffic to gas stations. To addresses these concerns we're doing the following. I've spoken to FEMA, the Department of Energy, EPA and the White House about waiving federal rules and regulations to get as much fuel as possible into the state and through our ports. I've direct state law enforcement to provide escort services to gas trucks to get through traffic so they can get to the stations faster. One of the issues is just getting from the ports to the stations so they can put the fuel there and they can get back and get more.
Right after this I'll be talking to all the fuel distributors. We know fuel is very important. And we're absolutely devoting every state resource to addressing this and we're talking to the federal government about their support. While we're making progress, you will see lines or outages, unfortunately. I know this has to be very frustrating. And we will not stop working on this.
If you're concerned that you do not having a way to evacuate because of the fuel issue, please call 1-800--955-5504, 1-800--955-5504, which is a dedicated transportation hotline. If you're in an evacuation area and you don't know how to get out, we will get you out, but you've got to call us.
If you are, call us now. Do not wait. If you're in an evacuation area, do not wait to get out. We're not going to be able to save people once this storm hits. If you know you're going to a shelter in your county, please take only the fuel you need. You don't need to fill your tank to the brim to stay in your own county. I've said many times, if you have -- you have to take what you need, but we've got to be considerate to try to get as many people fuel -- fuel they need.
[09:40:18] The Gas Buddy app is a great resource to find open stations with fuel.
Yesterday I asked the governors of Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia and North Carolina to rescind weight and driver regulations so out-of-state resources can move expeditiously into Florida. All of these states were quickly to respond to our request and we now have waivers from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina. I've also spoken to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. They have lifted federal regulations to get gas to Florida quickly. All ports still remain open and operating to bring fuel and supplies in. We are laser focused on how we get as much fuel as possible to our ports while they are open.
I've offered school buses for transportation needs in Monroe, Miami- Dade and Broward Counties. At this time, Miami-Dade is using these services to help evacuate those with special needs and Broward has buses on standby. Monroe has said they do not need these buses right now, but our offer still stands.
Right now there's a mandatory evacuation order in effect for the Florida Keys. This means all residents and all visits. I was down there yesterday doing everything we can to make sure citizens can get out. We estimate there are about 31,000 people that have already evacuated from The Keys as of 6:00 p.m. last night. If you're in The Keys and do not have a way out, 1-800-955-5504. But do not wait. If you're in The Keys and you're still home, leave and get out. We can't save you after of the storm starts. You're going to have -- you're going to have hurricane -- unbelievable wind and storm surge. The entire lower Keys hospital has been evacuated. All other hospitals
in The Keys will be evacuated today.
I've been very clear with Monroe County that the state will provide whatever resources are necessary to get the hospitals back open quickly following the storm. I went through Andrew, and that was an issue of getting hospitals back open.
We also have a task force devoted entirely to helping prepare and respond to The Keys. For the remainder of the state waiting on evacuation orders, listen to your local officials. They will tell you if and when your area needs to be evacuated. If you're told to evacuate, get out quickly. The roads will fill up quickly, so you need to go. We're already starting to see a significant increase in the number of people on the roads. We're doing everything we can to keep them open.
We can expect additional evacuations as the storm continues to get nearer to our state. Miami-Dade has ordered evacuation -- mandatory evacuation for zones a and zone b. If it you live in these zones and you're still home, leave now. Don't wait. The roads are going to get worse the longer you wait.
There are voluntarily evacuations being ordered in Collier County. Broward County has issued voluntary evacuations of mobile homes and low-lying areas. I can stress -- I cannot stress enough, do not ignore evacuation orders. Remember, we can rebuild your home, you can get your possessions again, but you can't get your life back.
The regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate. This storm can change. Right now the track is on the east coast. It can change. Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent.
Traffic. I know many of you are in traffic. I know it's frustrating, but please be patient. Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes is available -- are available at fl511.com. We're watching all of that and we're going to do everything we can to keep these roads open. We have traffic cameras on every major roadway in the state and are clearing trafficking issues real-time so we can keep people moving.
FDOT and law enforcement are working diligently. We're already seeing bottlenecks at major highway junctions, which brings up an important point. You do not need to evacuate out of the state or hundreds of miles away to stay safe. Find shelters in your county. We're coordinating with Goggle's emergency response team to prepare -- to close roads in Goggle maps in real time in the event that Hurricane Irma forces a closure of any roads in the aftermath of the storm. You'll know if a road's closed.
At my direction, all tolls have been waived across Florida roadways. This should help families evacuate quickly and safely. Again, if you're concerned that you do not have a way to evacuate, 1-800-955- 5504. We will do all we can to get you out, but do not wait.
National Guard. Today I'm activating another 3,000 national guardsman to help with shelters operations and evacuations. Today we will have more than 4,000 Florida National Guard members activated to immediately beginning assisting with ongoing Hurricane Irma preparations. These men and women are putting themselves in harm's way to save the lives of their fellow Floridians. We can never thank them enough for all they do to keep us safe, both in their service to our nation abroad, and in their response to emergencies like Hurricane Irma at home. Let's remember, they're helping us while many of their own families are -- are planning on -- they're going to have to evacuate.
[09:45:02] After the storm hits, they'll work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on search and rescue operation. National Guard members will also be assisting the utility companies following the storm as they respond to return power to homes and businesses. Thirteen helicopters and more than 1,000 tactical high- water vehicles are on standby ready to be deployed.
By using resources from other states, we also have 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters and air evacuation crews ready to support our state. I talked to both President Trump and Vice President Pence yesterday and they have offered the full resources of the federal government to support us. We've requested the following, tarps, water, baby food supplies, supply trucks, search and rescue personnel and equipment and incident management teams. We've also submitted several requests to the U.S. Department of Defense for readiness and post storm response. We've asked for military water craft and aircraft with the capability to move fuel to the mainland, to Keys at Marathon (ph). Personnel, resources and National Guard that were federalized (ph) to respond to Texas have now -- anybody that responded to Texas has now been demobilized to come to Florida to assist us if we need them.
We've asked for a military vessel, like a Marine or Navy ship, to sustain shuttle operations and complete ship to shore missions. This vessel will allow us to move crew, supplies and fuel to the mainland.
I mentioned the major concern to the Florida Keys regarding any potential destruction of bridges. They have over 50 bridges down there. If we lose one bridge, it isolates everybody south of there. If we lose a bridge, people are going to clearly be stranded. FEMA is looking at options to assist the state with this. I've also discussed that with the White House.
I've discussed the importance with FEMA about the need to help every hospital get up and running when the storm passes. The federal government has also pre-positioned medial support personnel and disaster medical assistance teams and they're en route to Florida. These rapid response teams aid in the provision of medical care to those who need it after the storm.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is preparing search and rescue teams for potential deployment. FWC has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty team with sporting resources, such as trucks, coastal river patrol boats, ATV and shallow drop boats are preparing for evacuation support, search and rescue missions or any additional needs.
FWC was also coordinated with partners in states like Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas in case additional officers or resources are needed.
The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring road and traffic conditions to ensure roadways are clear. Our roads remain clear and there are no major problems so far on our roads. FDLE has established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and seven logistics and planning teams.
Utility providers, they are actively pre-positioning resources throughout the state and in neighboring states. We know from previous storms how incredibly important it is for power to be restored quickly. This could be very important to get this power back on quickly. FP&L (ph) has activated its emergency response plan as thousands of workers preparing to respond to Irma. I know they're one of the largest providers in the state.
We're also working with out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies to secure additional resources. They have opened more than 20 staging sites throughout the service area where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are stationed.
Lake Okeechobee. The water levels in Lake Okeechobee are still being lowered and the lake is current is 13 -- at 13.67 feet. But we still don't -- at this point we do not have major concerns about the dike. We will immediately advise if any of that changes.
Shelters. If you're evacuating from The Keys, you can shelter at Florida International University. There's absolutely no reason for anyone not to evacuate if you're ordered to do so. Shelters are available and you should follow the directions of local officials to go to the shelter that fits your needs. If you need a hotel, go to expedia.com/florida. Expedia is working on hotel occupancy in real- time. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Industry has encouraged all hotels to wave pet policies, offer shelter and be compassionate with cancellations. Families can go to floridadisaster.org/info to learn where shelters are in their area.
Comcast. They're opening more than 137,000 free Xfinity wi-fi hot spots throughout the state for individuals in need, including non- Comcast members. You can find these hotspots at xfinity.com/wifi. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, they're all helping with hotspots.
The state is staging supplies, such as meals, shelter support, trailers and water at the state logistics resource center in central Florida for deployment as need. And FEMA has resources in Alabama. We are pre-positioning these goods to help everyone in the storm's path.
We need volunteers. We have -- we've had more than 6,800 volunteers sign up in 24 hours. So, thank you for that. This includes more than 1,000 state employees. This is great. We need more. We need a total of 17,000 volunteers statewide. You can go to volunteerflorida.org to sign up for volunteer opportunities, or you can call 1-800-FL-HELP-1, 1-800-FL-HELP-1. We need more volunteers. They make a big difference in emergencies and help with shelters, food distribution and response efforts.
[09:50:30] State office. State offices in Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Okeechobee, Martin, Charlotte, and St. Lucie are closed today until further notice. Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on, regardless of what coast you're on. We are 100 percent focused on making sure Floridians and visitors have timely information on this storm and we will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Irma and issue updates throughout the next few days.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BERMAN: Florida Governor Rick Scott talking to the residents of Florida, very much in the path of Hurricane Irma, a devastating storm, a category five, 180 miles an hour. Let's listen to the questions right now the governor's taking.
SCOTT: So, we have -- I've been talking to the corps. We have been talking to the corps every day. The corps right now, Jason (INAUDIBLE) is in there -- is in Tallahassee, along with General Holland (ph), that is out of Atlanta. They have done inspections. It's at 13.68, which is -- because right now -- we can take a lot more water right now. The -- they, you know, the big -- the big risk they have there, of course, is they would get too much water. And it looks like, so far, you know, something could change, this storm is moving fast, which means we will not get the same sort of rain that Texas got.
Now, that can all change. But that's our -- the biggest risk on the dike of Okeechobee is too much rain. That's why they're lowering levels. We're doing the same thing with the canal through the (INAUDIBLE) Water Management District. So we're trying to make sure to the extent that we get a lot of -- a lot of rain, and the issue with Miami-Dade, it's not just the rain, it's the storm surge. The canals are going to be as low as we can get them. So if that -- if something changes, we're going to tell you. So -- but we're -- we're at 13.68 and we can take a lot more right now.
SCOTT: Well, it's got -- I think it's gotten to 18.67 or something without anything happening. We are do -- we -- they do -- they constantly do inspections. They'll even -- they'll even do more detailed inspections when it hits 17 feet. But 13.68 feet, they can take a lot of water right now. So the biggest -- the biggest risk would be if -- if for whatever reason it just sat here and dumped rain. That would be -- that's their -- that's their concern. Their concern is not the wind right now.
SCOTT: Yes. So Turkey Point will, of course, be closed at the right point. And the -- I've been talking to FP&L. They're all prepared to do it. The -- we're preparing both to close it and how to reopen it. The big issue on reopening it is, we've got to have -- we've got to have the evacuation zone completely clear. So we worked a plan with the National Guard and with FDOT to make sure that we -- it's ready -- it's ready to close, first of all, by FP&L, but it's also going to be ready to reopen.
Let's remember, we've got to survive this storm and then we've got to get back. So whether we close a hospital -- I went through this back in Andrew -- it takes work to get them to reopen. So we've got to -- we're ready -- we're going to do -- we're going to prepare. We're going to try to keep everybody safe. We're going to recover everybody. And then we're going to get everybody back to work as quickly as we can. And we still want to think about all of them.
SCOTT: Yes, they're not -- they'll have enough power. They have -- now, just think about it, the usage has gone down as people are leaving. I was talking to FP&L about that and they -- they -- they're comfortable that they will have -- they'll have enough power.
Now, as you -- as you -- you know, as you know, the issue is going to be downed power lines. A typical storm. We're going to have downed power lines. We're going to have debris. We're going to have to deal with all of those things. But that's why we have got all these crews coming in. I've talked to all the utilities. They are all bringing crews in all across the state. The -- and now with Gulf Power (ph), it's not appearing it's going to hit the western part of the panhandle, they can provide more crews to us also.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
[09:55:18] HARLOW: OK, so you saw Governor Rick Scott there addressing some questions. We're going to keep monitoring this, of course, if more questions are asked.
But the headlines here, he said, this is still a category five storm, 180-mile-per-hour winds heading to south Florida. Deadly storm surge. Life-threatening winds.
He also talked about both coasts, which is interesting. He said we're not sure where this hurricane is going to turn. So both the east and the west coast of Florida, residents there need to be prepared to evacuate.
BERMAN: Again, this has got a 300 mile span, this storm does. All of Florida will feel the effects. A particular concern right now seems to be fuel. A fuel shortage for people trying to evacuate. The governor went to great lengths to talk about how he's trying to address that concern. Speed up the transfer of fuel from the ports to the gas stations, even providing state escorts for the vehicles making that trip. Obviously, people need fuel in their vehicles if they are going to evacuate. And that seems to be a problem right now.
HARLOW: You know, there's also the issue of people -- as we were talking about before -- that can't afford to evacuate. So he talked about, if you need assistance, if you're listening to this, if you're in Florida, or your parents are down in Florida and they need help paying for fuel to get out, paying for somewhere to stay, hotels, et cetera, he gave several phone numbers that people should call for that assistance as well. And that's important so that they can get out.
He also talked about volunteers. They have about 6,000 volunteers right now. They need up to about 17,000.
Looks like he's taking another question. Let's listen in.
SCOTT: Everybody's working hard. I can tell you, we are -- you know, we're providing escorts to the carriers. We're talking to -- making sure there's fuel here. We're going to do everything we can to keep Everglades -- Port Everglades open as long as possible so we can get the fuel out of there.
I'm talking to -- we're working with the federal government to waive all the rules and regulations. So we're providing -- we're doing everything we can to get -- to get fuel.
Go to the Gas Buddy app to find out where there is fuel. I'm -- I'll be in a few cities today. As I traveled yesterday, they -- you had -- you had stations that had plenty of fuel with no lines and then you had other that had lines. So we're going to do everything we can to get fuel.
And -- but if you have a problem, if you call the telephone number, we will get you evacuated. We will do -- we will find the resources to get you evacuated. We're going to do everything we can to get everybody out, because the big thing is, you can't wait. I mean this is -- you can't -- just think, whether it's fuel, whether it's traffic, whatever the issue is, the longer you wait, it's harder to provide the resources. So, take this seriously.
And the truth is, whichever coast you're on, because this thing can change. I can tell you, in Andrew, I had all these hospitals. I evacuated hospitals to a hospital in the southern part of the city, and Andrew changed in the last, what, half hour, 45 minutes. So these things can change.
And just a small change can change which coast it's going down. If you look at what the National Hurricane -- look at the cone. The cone hits our entire state. And this thing's bigger than our entire state right now. So take this seriously. Have a plan. Listen to what the locals are telling you.
So, look, I -- we're going to do everything we can to keep everybody safe, but we all have to do this together. Thanks, everybody, for all your hard work.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about people driving (INAUDIBLE) in the road while the storm is coming (INAUDIBLE).
SCOTT: We are going to do everything we can to keep all the evacuation routes open. The Highway Patrol, the National Guard, FDOT, everybody is part of keeping those roads open. We -- the first thing we'll do is if we start seeing too much traffic, we'll -- you'll be able to drive on the shoulder. We're not there yet. So we'll have that. So we're going to make sure people can get out.
SCOTT: Yes, and if you have a question, if you're looking, go to fl511.com and it will -- you can look at -- it will tell you on there both through some cameras and through information where the bottlenecks are and then we are following that and we are working diligently to keep them open.
BERMAN: OK, you've been listening to Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Top of the hour now. Let's reset the situation.
All right, the breaking news on Hurricane Irma, Floridians told do not wait, get out. That from Governor Rick Scott just moments ago.
The Bahamas just ordered the evacuation of six southern islands. This is a devastating storm causing historic destruction with more on the way. The category five hurricane passing the Dominican Republic and Haiti today. Tropical storm force winds spanning some 300 miles. A Red Cross official just told us that on the island of Barbuda, everything is literally decimated. Look at these pictures. In Puerto Rico, 1 million people are without power, 56,000 without water.