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Six Dead after Florida Nursing Home Loses Power; Survivors Desperate for Food & Water in Caribbean; Rice Explains Why She Unmasked Team Trump Members. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 13, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Nursing home deaths. Police in Hollywood, Florida, open a criminal investigation into the deaths of six nursing home residents after the air conditioning failed in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Florida's governor wants answers and wants first responders to check other healthcare facilities in the state where millions are still without power.

Desperate for help. In the Caribbean islands first hit by Hurricane Irma, the situation is truly desperate. Britain's foreign secretary describes one island as a nuclear landscape. In parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, people are running out of food and water, and it may take many months to restore power.

Secret meeting. A CNN exclusive. A top Obama official tells congressional investigators she unmasked the identities of senior Trump campaign figures to learn why they met secretly with the Middle East crown prince at Trump Tower.

And Russian software ban. U.S. government departments and agencies are ordered to identify and stop using any software supplied by a well-known Russian company, amid concerns Moscow could gain access to U.S. secrets.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news: police have launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of at least six nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, left without power and crucial air conditioning days after Hurricane Irma hit. Florida's governor is calling on first responders to check health care facilities throughout the storm- ravaged state. And police now say they're evacuating an assisted living facility in north Miami Beach for lack of air conditioning.

Close to four million customers are still without power in Florida, and some won't be back on the grid for weeks. Some areas in northern Florida hit by storm surge flooding are still underwater, while in the far south, residents in the Keys are trying to return home, but the homes may no longer exist. Some are being turned away as search teams are still going door to door.

And a week after Hurricane Irma slammed into a series of Caribbean islands, the situation there is dire. In many places, food and water are running out, and there are reports of violence. Britain's foreign secretary describes the devastation in the British Virgin Islands as a nuclear landscape. And in one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a relief worker says people have no sustainable option and must be evacuated.

I'll speak with Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage.

But let's begin with the horrific nursing home deaths in Hollywood, Florida. Our national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is on the scene for us in Hollywood.

What are you learning, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at least six people are dead in an unbelievably frustrating situation. A nursing home 50 feet away from a level 1 trauma center.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A criminal investigation is now under way into the deaths of elderly residents at this Hollywood, Florida, nursing home. They died after the facility faced power failures in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

MAYOR JOSH LEVY, HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA: They did have, apparently, a generator, but whatever was running by that generator, apparently the main air conditioning units for this facility that would take care of also the second floor apparently were out of commission.

MARQUEZ (on camera): So the electricity was on and the air conditioner was on when you left last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the current -- not from the generator. Right, right.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The surviving residents of the rehabilitation center at Hollywood Hills had been evacuated to Memorial Regional Hospital, which is adjacent to the nursing home.

Tonight, about a dozen of them are in critical condition. Dr. Randy Katz is head of the emergency care unit at Memorial. He says at least 50 of his employees ran to the nursing home after being called for help.

DR. RANDY KATZ, MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: The scene was chaotic when I arrived. We had 115 -- at least 115 patients that we were trying to evacuate and bring to safety.

MARQUEZ: This woman's mother is a patient in the nursing home.

(on camera): Were you in there this week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yesterday. I come every day.

MARQUEZ: You were here yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MARQUEZ: What was the temperature?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A hundred and 10 or more.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Millions of Floridians are still without power, and with temperatures in the 90s, the health risks significant. Across Florida, more than 30,000 federal employees are on the ground working with state and local officials.

And while most of the state is dealing with downed trees and damaged buildings, in the Keys, the situation is more grave. Just in the last 24 hours, the Coast Guard has made more than 100 rescues.

[17:05:05] CAPTAIN JEFFREY JANSZEN, U.S. COAST GUARD (via phone): It's a dire situation, but the good news is the resources are coming. We're getting food. We're getting water. We're reconstituting the port of Key West, but it's going to take a little time.

MARQUEZ: Beyond the continental U.S., on islands throughout the Caribbean, a sense of helplessness a week after Irma's deadly assault. There is widespread looting. Some are guarding their properties with machetes. On St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, virtually 100 percent of the power infrastructure is damaged or destroyed.

ADAM MARIATT, GLOBAL DISASTER IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TEAM (via phone): There is a significant challenge that we have right now from debris management. But even -- there's ongoing life safety issues that we're handling. The biggest challenge is not just debris but also getting people off the island, because there's just no sustainable option for them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now, the governor says that the agency for health care administration here in Florida was aware three days ago that there was a power issue at the facility behind me. They were assured that they had fans and spot coolers provided by the hospital. It seems, Wolf, that a lot of people knew that there was a problem here but nobody made the connection. And now six -- at least six people are dead. The doctor who's caring for them says that that number could go higher.

BLITZER: Yes, a tragedy. And only right across the street from Memorial Hospital, a major hospital in South Florida.

All right, thanks very much, Miguel. We'll stay in close touch with you.

Meanwhile, residents of the devastated Florida Keys are trying to make their way home, but some are being turned away, and others are finding they have no homes left to return to.

Our Brian Todd is on the Lower Matecumbe Key for us. What are the conditions like over there?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a scene of frustration and, in some cases, desperation right here behind me. A long line of cars all day long as residents, hundreds of them, have come up to this checkpoint between Lower Matecumbe Key and Long Key and have been turned away by sheriff's deputies.

A lot of them are angry; they're frustrated. The weather is playing a part, because it's 90-plus degrees with no breeze here, and a lot of them are just sitting here in hot cars, just waiting for any word that they may be able to get past the checkpoint into their homes. And we just talked to sheriff's deputies, and they have no timetable for it.

Now, we spoke to a sheriff's deputy who explained why they're turning people away. And we videotaped a confrontation between a sheriff's deputy and a man who was waving a bottle of medication who tried to get around him. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: This guy's showing medication. Now he's letting him -- this guy's trying to get through with some medication.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! Stop! You're going that way!

TODD: You know why they're not letting residents in, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we're still trying to get everything together, still trying to get hospital personnel down there. We're still not ready with everything yet. We just want to make sure they're safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, that's a perfectly rational explanation, but it doesn't satisfy a lot of the people in this line. They are upset. They're angry. They're saying, you know, "At least communicate to us."

One guy said, "I have enough food and water. I have a generator. Just let me get back to my home. It's my call. It's my life. If something happens to me, that's on me. A lot of them are saying that. And a lot of them, Wolf, are saying that they are staying here in their cars, because there are no hotels available around here; and a lot of them can't afford hotels.

So they're stuck here in the hot weather and, again, sheriff's deputies not giving us a timetable as to when they might be allowed in their homes. Wolf, it's a very frustrating situation for so many people behind me after a week and a half of all of this. And they're just tired of it.

BLITZER: It's going to continue for some time, too. Brian Todd, thank you very much. The breaking news we're following, police are now investigating the

deaths of at least six nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, left without air conditioning in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Police say another nursing facility in north Miami Beach is being evacuated for lack of air conditioning.

Joining us on the phone right now, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

Senator, how could something like this happen?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA (via phone): Well, I'm on my way to that nursing home, meeting the mayor. And I'm going to find out. And I just got off the phone with the secretary of veteran's affairs, thanked him for taking the poor people on St. John Island in the Virgin Islands and putting them in the V.A. hospital in Puerto Rico. And I said by virtue of that, let's consider doing that in Florida as a place to go until they get air conditioning back.

He says, "You speak for me. If you see that need, you speak for me." So that's where I'm headed right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of us, and I'm sure you, as well, were deeply concerned about the elderly, the senior citizens, the retirees in Florida, going into Hurricane Irma. And we feared something like this could happen.

How many more residents right now -- as far as you know, Senator -- are at risk? Not just at that nursing home, but in other nursing homes, as well?

NELSON: Well, if the nursing homes do not have air conditioning, I think virtually every nursing home or assisted living facility is under a threat, because we've already seen -- you said six. I've heard it's now eight deaths. Whatever it is, it's way too many. More than one -- one is too many, and this is inexcusable. You just can't leave elderly, frail people in hot-box conditions. You just can't do it.

BLITZER: And what's so frustrating, Senator -- you know the area, I know the area. This nursing home is literally right across the street from Memorial Hospital, a major hospital in south Florida. Fifty feet away, 100 feet away. And all of a sudden, this happens.

So what are the steps that local authorities can take to prevent this from happening again?

NELSON: Well, the state of Florida does the regulation of nursing home and ALF. And as a result, you have got to crack the whip to make sure that they -- their personnel are trained so that, if these conditions occur, they know what to look for on overexposure to heat, and at least pick up the phone and call 911.

I mean, that's just a simple thing that a child is taught to do. And yet here we have a staff -- the first question I asked the hospital CEO, did the staff over at the nursing home abandon the people? And they said, no, that they didn't. Well, why didn't they call 911? This is inexcusable, and that's where I'm headed, to find out more.

BLITZER: And the authorities said at least a dozen other folks in that nursing home are -- were rushed to the hospital. They're in critical condition right now. Let's hope for the best for them.

And I know you agree that you've got to come to the bottom of this. You've got to learn the lessons to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Senator Nelson, thanks so much for joining us.

NELSON: Thanks.

BLITZER: Up next, desperation in the Caribbean on islands which took the first devastating blows from Hurricane Irma. Residents and tourists are running out of food and water right now.

And a CNN exclusive. A top Obama official tells congressional investigators she unmasked the identities of senior Trump campaign figures to learn why they met secretly with a Middle East crown prince at Trump Tower in New York City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:17:44] BLITZER: Our breaking news. A criminal investigation is under way into the deaths of at least six nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, after the air conditioning failed following Hurricane Irma.

Meantime, there's a dire situation for many residents and tourists in the Caribbean islands, which suffered the first devastating blows from the monster storm.

Our national correspondent, Brynn Gingras, has been looking into that. Brynn, what are you learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're learning is that most of the world that people -- Americans associate with paradise looks, according to one foreign official, as you pointed out, more like a nuclear aftermath.

The people who are living there are increasingly desperate, and survival really is a day-to-day battle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS (voice-over): People in the Caribbean fighting for survival one week after paradise took the hardest punch from Hurricane Irma. There's little food, water shortages, and communications wiped out across several islands. The death toll is rising.

We now know at least 44 people were killed in the Caribbean by the Category 5 hurricane.

The French and Dutch island of St. Martin took a direct hit. Downed power lines snake through tons of rubble which used to be homes and hotels. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank God we're alive. Thousands of U.S.

residents have been shuttled out on military cargo planes. French President Emanuel Macron continues to visit the country's territories.

EMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): The days that follow are the days for returning to normal life, everyone who can and who wants to stays on the island of St. Martin.

GINGRAS: For them, rescuers brought supplies and much-needed water. But there's only so much to go around.

Looters took to the streets, some reportedly armed with machetes. They demanded anything.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, this before and after picture of St. John's is striking. The once lush paradise now deserted, the vegetation all dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the roof. The roof is about to come. Yes, there it is.

GINGRAS: Terrified residents watched as roofs ripped off home after home in nearby St. Thomas. FEMA says shelters are greatly needed. Supplies are rushed to the area.

The U.S. Navy helped injured residents evacuate. Residents who stayed behind are still in disbelief.

[17:20:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never, ever experienced anything like this. Never hoped I would.

GINGRAS: And look at the catastrophic devastation in Barbuda, Anguilla, both islands nearly wiped out. Across the Caribbean, what used to be paradise, parts now being described as hell.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: And for many of these islands, the relief is really two- fold. There are these waves of shuttling supplies, water, food to these areas where people are literally rationing what they had from before the storm even hit.

And then there are these other efforts to get people off the islands because, in some cases, they're just not even livable. The situation incredibly dire, Wolf. And the request from those who live there, though, is simply this: don't forget about us -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We won't. All right, Brynn, thanks very much.

And CNN has now confirmed the death toll in that nursing room in Hollywood, Florida, has now gone from six to eight. Eight confirmed deaths. We know that there are others who are in critical condition in a local hospital, as well. We'll have much more on that devastating story coming up.

But right now I want to turn to CNN's John Berman on Big Pine Key, one of the hardest hit areas in South Florida.

John, a lot of devastation, continuing danger. Is it safe, first of all, for residents to return?

BERMAN: Well, look. The authorities here don't want people coming back just yet. And the main reason for that, Wolf, is because if you are here, there's no way to communicate with the outside world. Cell service is down. There's no way to reach your loved ones and tell them you're OK, so the authorities don't want people to come here and then get caught up. Plus, there's not much water. There's not much food. There's virtually no fuel, so it just makes the situation worse.

Right now what they're trying to do is help the people who were here already. And a number of people did stay, including the people living in this house behind me, this house that was just washed out by the storm surge. Big Pine Key really got hit hard by the storm surge. The eye passed south of here. Cudjoe Key, where I was earlier, that wasn't nearly as damaged as this. But this got the surge, sort of a dirty side of the storm and a lot of devastation here.

And Wolf, you were reporting earlier, we heard from Brian Todd and others at these choked-off checkpoints north of here with folks who are trying to get down, you know, it is creating some logistical challenges for the recovery efforts here.

The authorities are asking for patience. The residents that I've spoken with here who I said rode it out, they're increasingly pleased with the federal and local and statewide response they're seeing. Water is getting to people. Food is getting to people. They're being able to call out on our sat phones and other people's sat phones. They're feeling more calm, maybe, than they were yesterday, but this really is just the beginning, Wolf, and they know that.

BLITZER: Do you they have a sense? Is it going to be a matter -- certainly not days, but is it going to be a matter of at least weeks, if not months, before life can return to some semblance of normality?

BERMAN: Depends what you mean by normal. For instance, these residents in this house behind me, you know, this house is never going to be normal. They're going to knock it down. They told me they're going to knock it down, and they're going to build it further away or further in from the shore. So that will be months before that house is built. It could be weeks before the electricity is up, or days before the electricity is up and the cell service is back up.

I spoke to the superintendent of Miami-Dade County schools. That, of course, the county to the north of here. He's going to open his doors to some 13,000 students from Monroe County. That's the Florida Keys. So kids may be going to school up in Miami for some time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right. Thanks very much. John Berman reporting for us from the Keys.

Coming up, our breaking news continues. A criminal probe is launched into the deaths of Florida nursing home residents after the air conditioning failed in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

And a CNN exclusive. A top Obama official tells congressional investigators she unmasked the identities of senior Trump campaign figures to learn why they met secretly with a Middle East crown prince at Trump Tower in New York City.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:26:57] BLITZER: We have exclusive breaking news information on the Russia investigation. New details about what President Obama's national security advisor, Susan Rice, told congressional investigators.

Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. Manu, what are you learning?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, last week when Susan Rice met with the House Intelligence Committee, I'm told she talked at length about unmasking the identities of Trump officials whose names were shielded in classified intelligence reports.

Now Rice was trying to figure out why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York last December, because the Obama administration was not notified in advance of the crown prince's visit, which is typically custom.

Now, it turns out the crown prince was in New York to meet with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law; Steve Bannon, his chief strategist; and Michael Flynn, then the president's incoming national security advisor. Now "The Washington Post" reported on the meeting earlier this year, but this is the first we're hearing of Rice detailing it as a reason to unmask, Wolf.

BLITZER: We've also heard about another secret meeting involving the emirates?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. This New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House. And that back-channel discussion we know took place in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean shortly before the inauguration.

Now, sources who know about the New York meeting insist that the Russia meeting, Russia issue was not discussed at all at Trump Tower. But Wolf, that -- the timing of that New York meeting, followed by the Seychelles meeting and the fact that the UAE did not notify the Obama administration about why it was coming to the united states has all raised questions in the eyes of investigators.

BLITZER: On another sensitive issue, we know that President Trump over the summer called on President Obama's former national security advisor, Susan Rice, for unmasking. What do they say now?

RAJU: Well, I actually put this question directly to Sarah Sanders, the White House spokesperson. And she would not explicitly say if the president still believes that Rice committed a crime, instead saying that the issue of leaking and classified intelligence and unmasking needs to be investigated.

But a number of Republicans, Wolf, who sat in on the Rice testimony said they don't believe she did anything illegal and thy believe that she acted properly. And Wolf, Rice herself declined to comment for this story, and the UAE did, as well.

BLITZER: You also have some exclusive reporting on the FBI's refusing to allow two FBI officials to testify up on Capitol Hill. What are you learning?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. The Senate Judiciary Committee actually wants to meet with these two officials to learn more about the circumstances around the firing of James Comey. But they have been told the reason why these two officials will not come before the Senate Judiciary Committee is because of the special counsel's investigation, suggesting, Wolf, that the special counsel is looking into the issue of James Comey's firing and showing that perhaps the issue of obstruction of justice is on the table in its own investigation.

And the Republican and Democrat on the Judiciary Committee saying, "Look, we don't want to talk about the investigation. We just want to focus on the Comey firing." But still the Department of Justice is not playing around.

BLITZER: Very strong reporting. Manu Raju, thank you, very, very much.

Joining us now is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. We've got lots of issues to discuss. I know you've got to vote fairly soon.

But Republicans appear to be -- correct me if I'm wrong -- satisfied with Susan Rice's explanations regarding the unmasking of Trump campaign officials. Does this put to bed any suggestion she did anything either improper or illegal?

[17:30:22] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, Wolf, I can't go into the contents of her testimony. I can say that, you know, very broadly we were interested in the Obama administration's response once we learned that the Russians were hacking our democratic institutions. But that Ambassador Rice was also asked about the unmasking issue. And I think that people were very satisfied with her testimony, and I can certainly express my own view that I see no indication that she did anything at all wrong, and in fact, I think that what she -- what she did in her role was perfectly appropriate. So I think that people were impressed with her testimony.

BLITZER: During an interview with "The New York Times" earlier this year, President Trump suggested that Susan Rice actually committed a crime by unmasking people. So how does that accusation look now in retrospect?

SCHIFF: Well, it looks now like it did at the time, which is a baseless accusation and a slander against a dedicated public servant. Not at all unlike the president's suggestion that he had been illegally wiretapped at Trump Tower, something that even the Justice Department recently debunked. But that had already been, I think, labeled as patently false by Director Comey and Director Rogers in their testimony.

BLITZER: What questions, Congressman, do you have about that meeting in December that Manu Raju just reported on between the UAE crown prince and Trump officials? Apparently, the -- the Trump White House was not -- the Obama White House was not informed about that -- that the crown prince of the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, was even visiting the United States.

SCHIFF: Wolf, that's a subject that I can't confirm or deny. So I'm not in a position to really discuss that.

BLITZER: All right. I know you've got to vote. We'll continue this conversation later. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, thank you very much.

SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's get to our panel. And Gloria Borger, let's start with you. These are all pretty dramatic developments, which suggests the Russia probe, the Russia investigation is moving on to a new level.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it is, Wolf. And you'll remember at the beginning of the Russia probe -- and I think that's one of the reasons Manu decided to pursue this -- is that there were all these questions that were raised about this issue of unmasking and when, in fact, as Devon Nunes, who was the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had intimated, that -- that the Obama administration was unmasking names of people in these meetings inappropriately.

And I think what we are reading from and learning in Manu's piece is that, in fact, Susan Rice made the case that she had a good reason to try and figure out why -- who was in this meeting, because she had not been told about it in advance. And of course, this was during the transition when she was still national security advisor.

So I think that is one big partisan area that, in effect, is starting to get cleared up, because we've heard intelligence official after intelligence official say that in issue of unmasking is, in fact, something that is done all the time, that it is not done for fun or gossip, but in fact, it's done because people need to understand the context of these meetings. And to help them understand what may or may not have taken place.

BLITZER: Dana Bash, so what does all this suggest about Devon Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- he's removed himself from the actual Russia probe -- about his involvement in this? Because he's one of those who was suggesting that Susan Rice did something improper by unmasking these Trump campaign officials.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He wasn't just one of those. He was taking the lead on it with that bizarre press conference that he had, that his, you know, racing to the White House, coming out again and talking to it. It suggests that maybe he didn't have all the information when he was accusing Susan Rice of unmasking.

When I say all the information, all the information about why she unmasked. And now because of Manu's reporting, we have more information. And as you were reporting, Manu, Republicans understand more why Susan Rice felt that she had to do what she did. And say that they -- you know, that they can't blame her for it, that they probably would have done the same if they were in her position.

BLITZER: So does this put -- does it put to rest these accusations against Susan Rice, Jim Sciutto?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, not from one party, probably, but it's interesting. Very soon after Nunes made these accusations, we spoke with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and asked if, based on the classified information they'd seen about these unmasking requests, whether there was anything unusual about them, untoward, illegal, and they told us -- Manu and I did that story; this is weeks ago. They said, no, Democrats and Republicans.

[17:35:24] So for some time that has been the view. This makes it more definitive, because now we know exactly. She's given her explanation as to what she was looking for. So it backs that up to some degree. But will it put it to rest for some Republicans? I don't know.

I will say, though, that it's interesting, talking to members of the committee, Nunes -- and I wonder if you agree, Manu -- that Nunes is somewhat on an island here about these accusations. You don't -- you don't have Republicans lining up behind him and saying, "Yes, we've got to burn the house down over there."

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. Tom Rooney, who's one of the members who is now helping run this investigation after Nunes stepped aside, said that Rice didn't do anything wrong. He said, in fact, he doesn't think that she did anything illegal. Same with Trey Gowdy, said something similar. Mike Conaway, who's running this investigation, told me yesterday there's no reason to bring her back for further questions.

But I tried to ask Devon Nunes these questions yesterday. He declined to entertain any questions. He was upset about a previous story that CNN reported. He did not specify which story it was, but because of that, he didn't want to answer any questions whatsoever. Suggests that perhaps he's not satisfied, but he may be the only one who's not.

BLITZER: Yes. And just to be precise, Susan Rice, the then-national security advisor to President Obama and other Obama officials did not know the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York...

BASH: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... was meeting with officials over at -- with Trump campaign officials. And they said, "Well, who is he meeting with?" And that's the unmasking.

BASH: Exactly.

BLITZER: And the conclusion, apparently, is there's nothing wrong with her trying to figure out who visiting the crown prince of the UAE was meeting.

BASH: Right.

SCIUTTO: In light of the fact it would have been protocol for him to let the current administration, which was still serving, of course the Obama administration, to let them know. The UAE, a U.S. ally.

BORGER: You know, it's unsettling if you're the national security advisor and you see an important foreign figure coming into the United States, and you don't know about it. And you don't know why. And you don't know who this person is meeting with.

And, you know, so I think that -- that she probably explained, like, "I had to try and figure out what he was -- what he was doing."

And, by the way, there doesn't have to be anything nefarious there, I might add. Jared Kushner and the rest of the people in that meeting have said that they were talking about foreign policy, perhaps trying to establish a back channel to Russia. And so it doesn't mean that there was anything nefarious. What it means, though, is that the national security advisor of the United States didn't know about it.

BLITZER: Wanted to find out who they were meeting with. All right. Stand by, guys.

There are new developments involving the president's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. We'll share that with you right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:34] BLITZER: We are following some major new developments in the Russia investigation, the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Jim Sciutto, Michael Flynn all of a sudden, his name has resurfaced on a couple of areas, the president's former national security advisor.

SCIUTTO: That's right. After it was quiet for some time, but first being the Senate Intelligence Committee, which first subpoenaed him a number of weeks ago, reached out to him again to see if he'd be willing to testify before the committee. He refused in the original request, citing his fifth amendment rights.

And they went back and in effect said, "Have you changed your consideration here?" And he said no. So turning down that. We should note that he has produced documents, some 600 pages in documents, business records, which were in answer to a subpoena that followed that original request to come and give testimony. He has provided those documents.

But suffice to say that both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee would like to hear from him more and have more documents from him. But at this point that's as far as he's going to go.

BLITZER: You know, Manu, he's a retired three-star general, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. But when he applied as a civilian to renew his security clearances, he didn't mention that he had been involved in trying to put together a deal with Russia and Saudi Arabia, a billion-dollar deal, to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. That sounds like a big deal.

RAJU: It is a big deal because the law specifies very clearly that you need to disclose these foreign trips on your security clearance form. And this is not just the first example. There are multiple examples now of Michael Flynn not disclosing these foreign trips, this most recent one revealed by House Democrats who had gotten information from Michael Flynn's business partners, who were working on this Mideast deal to deal with this nuclear energy project, as well as purchasing Russian military hardware.

Now as soon as he came back in 2015 from the Mideast, he renewed his security clearance form, but he did not disclose that meeting. This is something now that they have sent over to Bob Mueller's team, the special counsel, to investigate. And you have to think this is an area ripe for his investigation, which is looking into a number of issues about Michael Flynn...

BLITZER: Yes. That's not something, a deal like that, something that you can forget about.

BASH: No. Which it certainly -- not only does it obviously raise -- ring alarm bells, it makes you think that he was intentionally trying to hide it. And then the question is why.

It's not like he -- I mean, look, there are people in the Trump world who have never filled out forms like that before. And I'm not saying that they have an excuse, but they've never filled out forms like that before. Michael Flynn is not one of them. He's been in the United States government for some time. He understands what's right and wrong.

Now, he was in the military but, still, he understands what's right and what's wrong when it comes to telling people exactly what he did and knowing, maybe, if he didn't do it, why he's keeping it under wraps.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Gloria, where is this heading?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, there are lots of questions, as Dana was just pointing out, about these security clearance forms.

There's -- there have been questions about Jared Kushner, why it took him -- I think, three tries, right, guys? -- three tries to do a full security clearance form. He says, and his attorneys say, it was inadvertent at first, and then they discovered more meetings going through their e-mails for discovery for the committees.

I think that because Flynn has some legal exposure in a lot of areas, I think this will not be taken lightly because, as Dana points out, he's somebody who's been in the government. And the administration has always said, well, we assumed his security clearance -- it was renewed. Go look at the Obama administration. They gave him his security clearance. I don't think that's going to hold up when you're talking to Bob Mueller.

BLITZER: Yes. And he's got a lot on his plate right now, Bob Mueller. We're watching it closely.

Stand by, guys. There's more breaking news we're following in Florida. Eight deaths now in a nursing home that lost power in the wake of Hurricane Irma. How many more lives are at risk?

And harsh sanctions bring angry defiance from Kim Jong-un's North Korea. Stand by for a CNN exclusive report from Pyongyang.

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[17:51:35] BLITZER: We're following a new barrage of angry threats from North Korea right now. Kim Jong-un's regime is lashing out against new international economic sanctions, calling them a heinous provocation.

CNN's Will Ripley is the only western T.V. network correspondent reporting live from Pyongyang. He's joining us now.

Will, what else are the North Koreans saying?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Officials here in Pyongyang, Wolf, are strongly condemning these sanctions, as they put it, in the strongest possible terms. They're using words like vicious and evil. They're threatening the United States with unbearable consequences.

And yet when you go out on to the streets, people express their hatred for the United States, but they are shrugging off these sanctions, shrugging off the threats from President Trump, saying, in their eyes, it's not a big deal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY (voice-over): In Pyongyang, traffic cops direct the flow of cars. The streets, noticeably busier each time I come here. Busier, at least for now.

The U.S. says the latest U.N. sanctions threaten to cut North Korea's oil supply by nearly a third which could spike prices for everything, from taxis to energy. A ban on textile exports and the end of foreign labor contracts could further slash the income of this cash-starved country.

But if you Ri Hae Hyung (ph), she's not worried. Her refreshment stand has a steady flow of customers. She says life is improving, despite round after round of increasingly heavy sanctions.

RI HAE HYUNG (PH), PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA RESIDENT (through translator): We have no problems. Everything I'm selling is made locally. We don't worry. We rely on ourselves.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Kim Hae Song (ph) casually shrugs off threats from the United States.

The U.S. president, Donald Trump, said that these sanctions are just not a big deal and that there's much worse to come. Does that worry you at all?

KIM HAE SONG (PH), PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA RESIDENT (through translator): We don't care what the U.S. President says or what the outside world thinks about us. We don't worry because we believe in the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong-un.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Keep in mind, this is a very thin slice of life in this closed country. Reporters like us can only see what the government allows.

But all over the North Korean capital, we see plenty of new construction, an increasingly modern skyline. A mandate from North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, determined to prove he can grow the economy. And the nuclear program. All in the face of unprecedented sanctions for his repeated violations of international law.

You see these posters all over Pyongyang, and they pretty much sum up North Korea's official response to increased pressure from the U.S. More missiles.

North Korean propaganda is built around their nuclear program. It symbolizes strength, independence. It's key to their national identity.

Is there anything, anything at all, that could get North Carolina to walk away from its nuclear program?

LEE CHANG SONG (PH), PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA RESIDENT (through translator): We'll never give them up. If we did, it would mean our destruction.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Around town, new posters show a pair of hands ripping up U.N. sanctions resolutions. North Korea's defiant message? They will never give up their nukes, even if that means life is about to get a lot harder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: And that really is the bottom line. North Koreans view these nuclear weapons as vital to their national survival, their identity as a nation, and they absolutely refuse to give them up.

They think the idea of economic pressure causing them to walk away from the nuclear program is absolutely ridiculous. And in fact, they say, these sanctions are only going to speed up their testing of nuclear weapons, not slow it down.

[17:55:04] So, Wolf, really, what this means is that this threatens to escalate an already dangerous situation even further.

BLITZER: Will Ripley with exclusive reporting from Pyongyang, North Korea. Thanks.

And a quick programming note. Will has a documentary coming this Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. It's called "SECRET STATE: INSIDE NORTH KOREA," 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Friday, only here on CNN.

Coming up, the breaking news. Police in Hollywood, Florida open a criminal investigation into the deaths of nursing home residents after the air-conditioning failed following Hurricane Irma. Florida's Governor wants answers and wants first responders to check other health care facilities in the state, where millions are still without power.

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