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Food, Power Shortages in Caribbean, Virgin Islands Hardest Hit by Irma; DOJ Blocking Interviews of FBI Agents on Comey Firing; Flynn Refusing to Cooperate with Senate Intelligence Investigation; Tim Scott to Meet with Trump over Charlottesville Response; Interview with Rep. Dave Brat. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 13, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] ANNE SEQUESTIS (ph), ST. JOHN ISLAND RESIDENT (via telephone): It's horrific. I'm a wedding photographer, but my career is over on this island. Like, there's not going to be any weddings here anytime soon. That's for sure. We're looking at -- I mean, I understand that Florida are all hurting as well and my heart goes out to all of those affected. But I've heard from some of the states that they're looking at a few weeks without power and we're looking at next year. It's going to take so much time and so much help and we need so many more resources than what's coming in right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You mentioned, you live on the island, you're a wedding photographer. Are you going to -- are you going to leave the island? Are you going to stick around? What are your plans right now?
SEQUESTIS (ph): I actually started -- felt this urge in calling to document this from the day before the storm hit to while we were in the bunker room, while I was crying, while I couldn't -- it was the only thing that kept me sane, even for a minute at a time, was to film and take photos of everything that's been going on. I got up the next morning and hiked into town in the pouring rain with a couple of the people that helped save my life and was just in destruction and little kids running around and people without homes. Like, I'm fortunate enough to have been where I've been, but so many of my friends have lost everything. And their businesses, like, their boats are sunk. They're underwater, it's gone. They just lost everything.
BOLDUAN: I know --
BOLDUAN: I'm so sorry. I know you're stay -- you were staying at Kenny Chesney's house when the storm came through. How is your house?
SEQUESTIS (ph): I was actually in the middle of moving. I haven't checked on my new apartment, where all my clothes are. I haven't gotten in contact with that landlord yet. I'm really hoping he's OK. The roads have just started to be officially cleared in that area for me to even go there and check, but there's just other priorities that I've been trying to take care of, by helping people in town and helping, you know, the guys that I am with. They're designating their own road-clearing teams and actually out there right now trying to clear out in Coral Bay. There's still many families that haven't been heard from yet. And communication is so limited, I don't even know how I have a signal right now, to be honest, because so many others don't. I'm kind of the team lead as far as communicating messages from -- sorry, a helicopter, might get a little loud.
BOLDUAN: I don't mean to put a fine point on it, Anne, but St. John is a U.S. territory. The United States is -- and we've heard from a lot of folks who are concerned that the islands are just getting forgotten in how much devastation it is. Do you feel forgotten? Do you feel safe? Is help getting there?
SEQUESTIS (ph): I -- I mean, I'm not down in town at the docks where the ports are now officially open and running short, limited, you know, ferries and stuffs like that. But I'm not seeing FEMA anywhere. I don't really see a strong presence. I've been asking everyone, but them going out and doing road clearing and getting medical supplies together and we do feel forgotten. We do need a lot of help. We need federal organizations and coordination. There's no Federal Emergency Management right now and all of these groups that are coming together, just local residents trying to create order and help can't communicate with each other. So we need one main goal and one director to help us with that. We need food, we need water, we need propane for generators. We need, you know, tons of resources and medical supplies. There's women with broken hips being turned away from the clinic because they're not a life-or-death situation right now. And the hospital in St. Thomas was, from what I understand, pretty much completely destroyed. There were patients that didn't make it during the storm being transferred from ICU, I was told. So there's just -- (INAUDIBLE). And it's just, you don't even know where to start. That's why we just need Federal Emergency Management down here. We need a lot of help. And I feel like we're being completely overlooked. I feel like St. John is just a dot on the map to some people. But there are so many lives down here that need help from you guys and from the states.
So we're hoping to shed light on that by doing as many interviews as we can and that's all we really can do from here right now, other than, you know, immediate cleanup and search and rescue teams and getting what we can. There are people on the islands that are in the states for vacation and are calling us, go to my apartment, take what you need, take whatever you need. Before the looters get there. So we've been going to random apartments and getting their favorite belongings and just supplies and food and water that you can. So we're just salvaging whatever we can right now, until major help gets here.
[11:35:04] BOLDUAN: Oh, Anne, thank you so much for getting on the phone and telling your story and being the voice for so many in St. John. Thank you so much for bringing it to us. Our hearts are breaking. People are listening. And we'll continue to bring your stories.
Thank you so much for what you're doing. I really appreciate it.
SEQUESTIS (ph): Thank you, Kate. Thanks for listening.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
Much more of our special coverage on Hurricane Irma and the devastation she left in her path. That is coming up.
Also, we have breaking news on two major political stories developing right now. Any moment, President Trump will be meeting with Republican Senator Tim Kaine. Of course, this is after -- I'm so sorry. Republican Senator Tim Scott after Scott, of course, blasted the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville. What will be the tropic de jure today? What will he tell the president today? Details on that, ahead.
Plus, the Department of Justice is now blocking Senate investigators from talking to two FBI agents in connection with the president's firing of James Comey. That's coming up.
[11:40:11] BOLDUAN: All right. CNN has breaking news on two separate investigations into the Trump administration right now. One involving the president's firing of James Comey, the former FBI director, of course. The other involving the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his ties to Russia.
CNN's senior ongressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is joining me now from Capitol Hill with details on both fronts.
So, Manu, first, this breaking news on the firing of James Comey. What are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That's right. The Senate Judiciary Committee actually wants to interview two senior FBI officials who probably have firsthand knowledge of exactly what happened around the firing of James Comey and all the circumstances around it. But, the Justice Department is not allowing that to happen. They are citing the special counsel's investigation into the Russian collusion issue as well as other related matters, possibly even obstruction of justice. Now, that is a sign that perhaps Robert Mueller is looking at very closely the issues of Comey's firing, because the Justice Department is saying that they do not want to interfere in any way with what Robert Mueller is doing, which is why they are not allowing these individuals to come forward. These two individuals, James Robikki (ph)and Carl Gottas (ph). I asked the Justice Department about a comment about this. They said that this was up to the special counsel's office. And the special counsel said they would not comment.
Kate, this comes as there's an escalating turf war between Capitol Hill and the three committees that are independently investigating what happened during the elections and any possible obstruction of justice, as well as Robert Mueller's investigation. Mueller, we know, wants to get information about that Donald Trump Jr interview that happened before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. But the Judiciary Committee is saying they cannot give unfettered access to the transcript of that interview until the full Senate approves that. They're citing a long-standing Senate rule. So you're seeing this happen on multiple fronts, not just with the
Donald Trump Jr interview, but also this James Comey firing. The Judiciary Committee suggesting that they may look into other measures, if they do not voluntarily comply with coming forward to interview these two senior officials. We'll see if subpoenas are on the table as well -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And we would like to see things speed up and reach a conclusion. This surely is slowing things down.
You also have new reporting on the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn is, CNN had learned, refusing to cooperate with the Senate Intelligence investigation. But there's now new ties to Russia.
Did we just lose Manu?
All right, we're having some technical issues. We just lost Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. We'll get back to that.
All right, coming up for us, any moment, President Trump will meet with Republican Senator Tim Scott. This is after Scott blasted the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville. What will the message be to the president today? A lot going on at the White House. Let's get some details. That's coming up.
[11:47:33] BOLDUAN: Any moment now, President Trump will be meeting with Republican Senator Tim Scott to discuss the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month. Senator Scott, the only African-American Republican serving in the Senate, made headlines when he came out to criticize the president's response. Scott saying that the president had compromised his moral authority in how he had responded to the protests and the violence.
Congress today is sending a resolution to the White House, condemning the Charlottesville violence. It will be on the president's desk.
Let's go to the White House right now. CNN White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, is there.
So, Kaitlan, what do we know about this meeting?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It's definitely going to be a little bit of an awkward meeting here, Kate. Senator Tim Scott is someone who was an ally and supporter of Trump's throughout the election last year and since he's been in office. But he did not mince words in response to what the president said about Charlottesville after Trump remarked that there was violence on both sides. Senator Scott said that was something that he simply couldn't defend.
So we know that one purpose of his meeting here today at the White House with the president today is that he wants the president to understand what it's like to someone who's experienced racism for first hand and the agony of that. That's the message he'll be trying to get across to the president today. We'll have more details of that meeting that's taking place right now here at the White House.
But it really highlights the president's overall struggle with his relationship with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, not just as a whole, but especially with African-Americans lawmakers. You know that the Congressional Black Caucus declined to meet with the president and just this week, as you mentioned just a second ago, the House and the Senate passed that resolution that's going to go to the president's desk, asking him to sign it, that condemns white supremacy.
So it definitely shows it's a pretty blunt message from Capitol Hill that they did not like the way the president responded to Charlottesville.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, Kaitlan, one other meeting that just popped up, House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, meeting with the president today. What are you hearing about this?
COLLINS: The White House has confirmed that both of the Democratic leaders will be here for dinner with the president tonight at the White House. We hear that the Dream Act is something that they're hoping to discuss with the president. That's the proposed legislation that would essentially protect those undocumented immigrants who benefited from DACA, the program the president decided to rescind last week. But this also comes after the president shocked Republicans when he struck a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer for the debt limit in December, this short-term deal. It's the first time they're meeting again face-to-face since that last week.
[11:50:07] BOLDUAN: Let's see if any more deals come out of this meeting.
Kaitlan, great to see you. Thank you so much.
Joining me now to discuss more from Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Dave Brat, of Virginia.
Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. DAVE BRAT, (R), VIRGINIA: Hey, sure, Kate. Thanks.
BOLDUAN: You heard Kaitlan talking about the pleating with Scott and Congress is sending over to the White House this resolution to the president to sign as soon as possible condemning the white nationalists at the Charlottesville rally and calling the death of Heather Heyer a domestic terror attack. Do you have any doubt that the president will sign it?
BRAT: No, I don't think so. I think it's great he met with Senator Scott. We need to lay out the clear philosophical case. Fascism requires a total state. Republicans want a small state. Those groups are not conservative in any way, shape or form. Hitler and the Nazis, that was the Third Reich. The first Reich was Constantine, then Charlemagne. The Third Reich is the anti-thesis of the Judeo- Christian tradition and our values. So we're all opposed. We've spoken in the strongest terms. It's an affront to everything Republicans believe in fiscally and morally and historically and philosophically. It's about that clear, right? We stand for the Judeo-Christian tradition, love came out of that at about the year zero in the Western canon. We all stand on that foundation.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, and the resolution itself is very clear. It was a joint resolution by the Senate and the House, joint resolution of Congress going to the president's desk. But there's a reason. You wouldn't need a resolution if maybe it wasn't so clear where the president stood. If he does nothing -- just go with me on this. If he does nothing with this symbolic resolution, it would still go into effect in ten days. If he does nothing, what had that say?
BRAT: I don't know. You can ask him that. I just know my position. He's condemned all the racists, the KKK, the fascist groups. He's condemned every group there is. But let's codify it, put it on paper, make it formal. And institutionally, we need to do those things because the country doesn't stand for any of that.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, I want to ask you a little bit about the hurricane relief effort and what we're seeing out of Florida, the islands as well as Texas and Louisiana. Moody Analytics came out with an estimate that the cost of the two storms from property loss and lost output, the two together could be between $150 billion and $200 billion. If you don't get a straight, in the coming days or weeks, if it's not a straight hurricane relief bill, are you going to vote against that hurricane funding, as well?
BRAT: No, I mean, that hasn't even come up yet. I don't know -- what we're concerned about --
BOLDUAN: They're likely to need more federal funding. The first bit was described as a first amount that was going to go to hurricane funding. You have to approve more.
BOLDUAN: You know what I mean?
BRAT: Every Republican last week, just to be clear on this, right? Every Republican was going to vote for hurricane relief. Every Republican was going to vote for raising the debt ceiling. The problem was the intellectually questionable linkage between the two and saying we have to protect the treasury bill or something absurd like that. Right? We were all going to vote for all of that. But it was linking it together with no statement on fiscal discipline moving forward. The national debt just crossed $20 trillion this week.
BOLDUAN: Right. So you ended up voting for -- you say you support both, funding for hurricane victims and raising the debt ceiling as long as -- but those need to be separate. You ended up voting against that deal that was struck by the president. But that's the important bit of this.
BRAT: No, no, no --
BOLDUAN: This deal that you voted against, this is a deal that was struck by the Republican president and Democrats.
BRAT: Just so you got it straight, I voted for the hurricane relief the week before. The same number --
BOLDUAN: You voted for the hurricane relief. You ended up voting against the entire package that ended up being approved, ended up being the final vehicle.
BOLDUAN: You ended up voting no on the end on the final vehicle. That final vehicle, that final package was struck, that deal was struck by the Republican president.
BRAT: Yes, and our leadership.
BRAT: Yes, and I made it very clear, I thought it was intellectually not sustainable. I made it clear on that linkage of putting a clean debt ceiling package, which we never would have even put on President Obama's desk, on a Republican's desk. And most of the Republicans in the conference shared that view. And so --
BOLDUAN: Who is to blame for this intellectual dishonesty, if you will?
BRAT: Whoever came up with a plan. What's always left out from this is the $20 trillion.
BOLDUAN: Does the president --
[11:55:11] BRAT: You're asking me for my view. I get your view. But let me give you --
BOLDUAN: No, I don't have a view.
BRAT: Well, the context here.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, you and I understand the context of debt ceiling.
BOLDUAN: I understand truly understand your position on the debt ceiling --
BRAT: Let me give you --
BOLDUAN: -- and why you want to have a debate on spending cuts to go with it.
BRAT: We're $20 trillion in debt. And we have $100 trillion, right? I was just at my convocations back home with the kids. The kindergartners are in the class of 2030 they told me. They will graduate from college in 2034. If you do know the context, that is the year that Medicare and Social Security are insolvent. I don't think people do know the context. Otherwise there would be more urgency and they wouldn't put up with the nonsense on the fiscal front.
If the press would weigh in on what the damage, it's a guaranteed fiscal crisis in 2034, guaranteed in law. I'm on the Budget Committee. We can't touch it. You got to pass it in law. So that's the context. And so with that, you ask the average voter, how you should vote on a clean debt ceiling increase with no physical discipline, the whole country is 90 percent.
BOLDUAN: To my question, does the president deserve some blame here because he's the one who struck the deal?
BRAT: Yes, on that issue, I totally disagree.
BOLDUAN: Congressman Dave Brat, always too many questions and not enough time.
BRAT: Get me on for tax. I want to do tax.
BOLDUAN: That's next. Then we talked over each other.
We've got to get to the breaking news is out of Florida. So that's next.
That will be tomorrow. Thanks. I appreciate it.
BRAT: Sure. Thanks, Kate. You bet.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news out of Florida. There are now six people confirmed dead at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. We started the hour with five people dead, just to make this clear. We now are confirming it's six people dead out of this nursing home in Florida. Police say they're treating it as a criminal investigation and they believe, at least now, that the deaths are somehow, in part, linked to the loss of power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. We'll have more details on this coming up.
[11:55:29] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.
Irma's death toll is rising. Millions of homes and businesses still without power. The Florida Keys are devastated. And as residents complain help it hard to come by, the FEMA director says they have only themselves to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: The citizens are frustrated, you know, about not being able to get the support they need right now.