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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Central Mexico; Category 5 Hurricane Nearing Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands; Special Counsel Investigating Manafort for Possible Financial Crimes Going Back 11 Years; RNC Covered $230K+ in Trump's Legal Fees in August. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 19, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Two natural disasters begin a very full night of news. The death toll rising after major earthquake hits Mexico and a category 5 Hurricane Maria is about to strike Puerto Rico after bringing fresh damage to already devastated Caribbean islands.
First, we go to the quake. It struck this afternoon and magnitude 7.1, 75 miles north. Here's what it looked like at the Mexico City airport. Across the capital, more than a dozen buildings collapsed many more were damaged. The death toll topped a hundred or this evening and that is climbing just moments ago.
I spoke with Christopher Edwards from the humanitarian group Youth With A Mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: Chris, take us through what happened when the earthquake hit. Where were you? What was that like?
CHRISTOPHER EDWARDS, SEARCHING FOR EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS (via telephone): I was in downtown Mexico City, up on the fifth floor of where our office is and where we operate out of as a NGO basically and we had just been talking about the drill of because they just did a earthquake drill two hours prior to the earthquake, because today is the 30th anniversary of the '85 earthquake that made a lot of destruction here in Mexico City.
So, when it started happening it all just took us by surprise because the floor started shaking, the building started moving, and then we just realized, OK, this is the real thing it's not just a drill. And then just people took off running and heading out of buildings and we were trying to stay calm and then we went out, just started looking to where we could help people and help calm people down a bit.
COOPER: Can you estimate how long -- I know sometimes it's hard to tell time in a situation like this -- how long it was shaking for?
EDWARDS: At least 20 seconds I would say, 20, 25 seconds, before at least the top before our building calmed down and we could move around with these again.
COOPER: And I understand you you've been trying to help people forming human chains that collapse buildings to try and do what you can. What have you been doing?
EDWARDS: Yes, we came down just because some of our guys have some training and counseling. We had a nurse on our staff and we just thought, let's go down to the area that's most affected, there were out reports that buildings have collapsed and see where we can help.
And as we got here, they were just forming human chains and just taking down debris, all the way down and putting it down in the medians of the road. Getting it away from the affected areas.
And so, that's just basically we've been doing grabbing just debris and pile them up in different places, handing out water bottles, handing out just mass for the air quality and stuff, celebrating when there are rescue people and just working whenever in between.
COOPER: You've seen people being rescued?
EDWARDS: There's been at least on rescued and I know they've located six more up on the 12th floor that they're trying to get to right now. From what I heard from one of the medics that we just talked to.
COOPER: Are you on site of that building now?
EDWARDS: I am not. I'm about two blocks away. They sent us to another location because a lot of people came to this one and they say there's a couple more victims that went down. So, we gathered up our staff and we just we're heading down that way and I actually found a Starbucks here and I connect to their -- the Starbucks is closed but the internet is open. So, I connected because I could get to the data to get ahold of you guys.
COOPER: How organized are things right now in terms of you know rescue efforts? Do you see a lot of authorities? Do you see rescue personnel or is it a lot of citizens just people trying to do what they can like you?
EDWARDS: Up on the building, mostly, it's like the civic rescue people the marines. We got firefighters and police officers up there, and then it just lines and lines of citizens that had just come down to the area just to help with the removal of the debris.
But actually on location where the building is, it's the officials that have the experience and know what they're doing and leading the way.
COOPER: And do you -- I mean, do you have a -- can you go back to your home tonight? Do you have a -- is your building OK? And for a lot of people I guess, there's the concern about whether the structures are sound.
EDWARDS: Yes. In the building, where we have our organization, where we have a lot of our staff that actually live, there's no -- seems to be no damage to the building. We've checked around pretty thoroughly. There is some glass broken in the buildings around us and then my house, it's about minutes from there is not quite as old as the apartment building that are -- where we rent our office space and stuff.
But everything seems fine my wife and my child are back there they said everything's OK.
COOPER: Well, of course, I appreciate you talking to us and glad your family's OK, and appreciate all you're doing. Thank you so much.
EDWARDS: Thank you guys.
We said at the top of broadcast, two natural disasters sadly are unfolding tonight. We're going to have more from Mexico City throughout the next two hours.
The other is Hurricane Maria, now category five storm, could be about to do serious damage to Puerto Rico, on top of what it's already done to places like Dominica.
[20:05:03] Our meteorologist Tom Sater has new details on both tonight. He joins us.
So, Tom, if you can't just break down for us where exactly was impacted by this earthquake today.
TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The 7.1, Anderson, on the anniversary of the 1985 quake. That was an 8.0 and took over 5,000 lives.
But you would look at the depth and think this is quite deep. You know, you look 32 miles. But anything that's within 42 miles is considered shallow. Of course, the closer to the surface, the more shaking. But a good 75 miles south, southeast of Mexico City, they were on the northern fringe of the shake map and we saw the damage they had.
Typically, we'll have one 8.0 a year. That one came 11 days ago. We'll have maybe between a seven and 7.9, a good 15, and we've had a few of those.
Are they related though? Don't really think so. If you have an 8.0 like we had 11 days ago, you can have one aftershock that's a 7.0. But it's nowhere near that map. In fact, it's well down to the south where all the aftershocks were from the previous one. But we've got over 14.5 million with moderate shaking, strong. It's over 15 million, 1.6 with very strong, and that's what means everything here.
When you look at a 7.1, you can have one aftershock. That's a 6.1. You can have ten that are 5.1, and even over a hundred that are four. So, for the next several days, weeks and even months, anything that goes on most likely is going to be an aftershock and we'll see more damage unfold.
The USGS, and their computer models speculated that about 39 percent chance of fatalities, ranking from 100 to 1,000, and we're in that area right now.
As far as what we're looking at, as far as Maria, another devastating a story here, Anderson.
How many times we have to say the word catastrophic this month.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, let's talk about Maria. What's the latest on the forecast?
SATER: We've got a pinhole eye and sometimes it's the smaller well- defined eyes that are more ferocious. This one's only 11-1/2 miles in diameter. Irma's was about 23 to even 25 miles, but it just deficit devastated Dominica. This is the second category landfall, category five that we've had in the Lesser Antilles.
We go back to 1851, we didn't have any. So, that's how many seasons now without any, but what a year, headed right for Puerto Rico. The eye itself is about miles from St. Croix, and it looks like it's trying to wobble in that direction. They're already in the bands, but we're miles from San Juan. So, the effects are going to start to go downhill.
Our only hope, Anderson, is to have an eye wall replacement cycle which could help weaken the system. But already, the pressure inside is dropping a lot lower than it was in Irma. When we break this down, you're going to probably find a landfall around 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, southeastern areas of Puerto Rico.
We've got now watch in effect for the Turks and Caicos in the southeast Bahama islands sliding up, but mainly trying to stay off the eastern seaboard and that will come later. But if you look at the path of Irma, it stayed 50 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico and they lost power to a million people. So, with a direct landfall and a population of 3.4 million, that's where things are going to get a little hectic here, and we could see massive power on.
This is a population map, so the red dots are the higher population and we have figured over half of the population of Puerto Rico is in the eastern third, and when you talk about, you know, some of the rainfall effects there is a high spine of the mountains that reaches over 4,000 feet and you look at it St. Thomas about five inches, Ponce down to the south near 12, and even San Juan over nine, almost nine and a half.
But everything in purple here is 10 inches plus and we think we could see up to 18 inches in the mountains. So, that's a landslide threat, no doubt, Anderson. This is going to get worse before it gets better, because again, they've got right now a recession since 2006, unemployment's 10.1. They filed bankruptcy.
And you toss the situation like this and there could be widespread power outages, water communication for weeks on end. They didn't even get to restore the power from the last system.
COOPER: Yes, and all that rain in St. Thomas, obviously, they got hit hard just by Irma. San Juan itself, I mean, it looks like that might be in a really bad
position when Maria makes eye landfall. It's in the worst possible position because they're in that front right quadrant.
Here's the European model in the U.S. We'll put them together and, of course, they're going to grieve as time goes on. They'll start to widen somewhat. The red is the U.S. model takes it near the outer banks. European is offshore more.
But watch what happens. The European and the U.S. want to toss it up, of course, toward the Northeast, and that's where Jose has been trying to dry out. But we've even seen the winds and the surf with Jose caused numerous cancellations and delays, all the area airports from Philadelphia up to Logan in Boston -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Tom, I appreciate it. We'll continue to check in with you.
Given the magnitude of what Tom just laid out, as you might imagine, the governor of Puerto Rico is urging people to find safe shelters, warning the damage could be very well be catastrophic.
Our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Palmas Del Mar on the southeastern coast of the island. He joins us now.
What are the conditions like right now?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you can see, Anderson, we've had the wet rain picking up in the last couple of hours or so. Behind me, you can't see, past these houses which are beachfront houses is the sand of the beach where we should at 8:00 tomorrow morning see the first landfall of Hurricane Maria.
[20:10:08] Now, this is an island still reeling from two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma, as you heard, a billion dollars of damage, 46,000 people still without power as a result of that and the drive here from San Juan, you can see on the side of the road, the trees still taken down, damage still evident. The question is, are people still braced after Irma, and therefore potentially able to avoid the damage of Maria, or are they weakened because of it?
And bear in mind, Hurricane Irma was a glancing blow. Fifty miles out to sea, still massive devastation. Maria is supposed to go straight through Puerto Rico, onto land behind me.
The Hurricane Center Now suggesting it's actually picked up speed to potentially 175 miles an hour. Devastating. It's supposed to go across the island to San Juan itself, 3.5 million people here potentially having to try and seek some form of shelter.
They've been told to get away from flood risk areas. I'm standing in one of those, where we could see potentially a storm surge that's when the hurricane itself pushes large volumes of water ashore. That storm surge could be about 11 feet as the concern in some areas. That would be almost nearly twice my height here. So, people moving away from here bizarrely they understood in the past
few hours we've seen people actually racing to the beach and a golf buggy to get a last view of the sort of looming storm heading towards the shore. But certainly, 500 shelters in place, concerns earlier in the day that they weren't filling up.
This has also been a haven for people fleeing other Caribbean islands hit by Irma two weeks ago, but I think the biggest question now is how severely have these very, very severe warnings being taken by those on Puerto Rico and what are we going to see in the next 24, 48 hours, people out a distance and safe or struggling to get out of the way, as water in huge volumes potentially moves in -- Anderson.
COOPER: You said there are shelters. I mean, you give that number of shelters. There are shelters for people if they do want to leave their homes and try to seek higher ground and a safe area.
WALSH: Yes, absolutely. But, of course, we don't know exactly what the effect of this storm will be. We are concerned. We're hearing concerns about the flood risk areas. That's obviously coastal parts where so many of the population live.
San Juan, there are shelters around there, the convention center where people are being moved into if they need to go there. The broader issue I think is exactly as I say how seriously are the warnings being taken we've seen stalls rationing water sales to cases per shopper. We saw earlier on and gas stations with queues.
The message is definitely out. The broader issue as I say is exactly how severely people taking, how far away from potential danger they're putting themselves. And given we don't frankly know the scale of what we're going to see in the next two days or so, quite what needs to be done to be kept out of harm's way, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Nick Paton Walsh, take care.
We're going to continue to track the storm and bring the latest from the Caribbean throughout the program tonight, as Maria approaches, also more from Mexico City. Plus yet another new development in the Russia investigation, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, you'll only see here. Stay tuned for that.
[20:16:54] COOPER: Tonight, another CNN exclusive in the Russian investigation. CNN has learned that the special counsel investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is examining activities to go back more than a decade.
Our Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz broke the story. Evan joins us now.
So, exactly what have you learned?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are reaching to 2006, in a probe that centers on tax and financial crimes of Paul Manafort. It's one indication of the pressure that Mueller's team is placing on the former Trump campaign chairman and the broad time frame shows that Mueller's team is going well beyond Russian meddling during the campaign as part of the investigation of the Trump campaign associates.
As we reported yesterday, Manafort has been the subject of an investigation -- of an FBI investigation for years, including wiretaps and he has emerged as a focal point from Mueller.
Manafort spokesman, by the way, declined to comment for this story, but we should add that Manafort has denied any financial wrongdoing, Anderson.
COOPER: You said financial crimes. I think you meant possible financial crimes.
PEREZ: Possible financial crimes, that's right.
COOPER: Why all the way back to 2006?
PEREZ: Well, the period that is mentioned in this search warrant covers much of the decade that Manafort was working as a consultant for Ukraine's former ruling party. It's that work that actually prompted the interests of the FBI in Manafort. The party was accused of corruption and the FBI was trying to figure out whether any American consultants were actually involved.
COOPER: So, you -- I know you have new details about that, the July raid on the Manafort home.
PEREZ: Right. Well, the search was unusually hard nose. Sources tell us that it began before dawn as Manafort and his wife lay in bed, the FBI agents entered with guns drawn and insisted on searching his wife Kathleen Manafort for weapons, which is really a standard part of what the FBI does in these types of searches, but it's something that was jarring no doubt to the Manaforts.
COOPER: And there's been a lot of pressure on Manafort. Is there any sense whether he's actually going to be charged?
PEREZ: Well, we're told that Mueller's team has warned Manafort that they're working to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes. Now, that's an indication that this investigation could be in an advanced stage. We should note that none of that none of that is about election meddling, which is what this is supposed to be about.
Mueller's office has subpoenaed reams of financial records from Manafort, in addition to documents that the agencies during that search, we talked about. We also know that his spokesman has testified to a grand jury just this past week, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, a lot of interesting details.
Evan Perez, appreciate that. Joining me now is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, and former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.
Jeff, first of all, what do you make about this there's new information about the investigation going back as far --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's just more hardball. It's -- like the search warrant, it just shows how desperately they are trying to get something on Manafort.
You know, there have been recent changes in a lot of white-collar crime laws that extend the statute of limitations to 10 years and perhaps even longer. So, the Mueller team has a lot of flexibility in what cases they want to charge.
Also, if you're talking about tax offenses, even if the misconduct took place let's say in 2004, 2005, if the tax return is not filed in 2006, '07, or '08, you can still make a take tax case out of it.
[20:20:08] So, there's an enormous amount of flexibility there.
COOPER: And, Jeff, if they're looking at Manafort's records, financial records that far back, would they be looking at President Trump's as well?
TOOBIN: They could be. I mean, one of the $64 questions about the Mueller investigation which I'm certainly not aware of the answer to is, have they gotten the hold of President Trump's elusive tax returns? Certainly as prosecutors, they have the right to get it and it would not be public if they got it. President Trump might not even know if they got it.
But they have the right to get it. There is a process prosecutors can use. But whether they've exercised that right, I just --
COOPER: John Dean, I mean, you're in the rare position to know about the pressure presidential ally feels during such high-profile investigation. What do you make of these new details and what cards Paul Manafort might still have left?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I think the card he -- they want to see from him is that he reveals whatever he knows about Trump and other higher-ups that are involved in the Russian collusion. That's where it all started. I'm trying to find a historical parallel for this. There was some hardball played during the Whitewater investigation.
Nothing like this during the Watergate investigation, other than the fact that the judge played hardball. He, for example, put 40-year sentences on first offenders to crack them. So, this is clearly at the prosecution level and very unusual.
COOPER: Ken, I mean the idea that the FBI went in with guns drawn, search Manafort's wife for weapons. As Even said, it's standard procedure and if the special counsel wants to send Manafort some sort of message, I guess it's within his right to do so. But it is pretty surprising.
KENNETH CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, I don't agree that it's standard procedure. I mean, there are different levels of invasion and they have to control the premises. But there is no -- unless there was some reason to indicate danger to the officers or even the possibility of it -- of course, safety comes first when you're exercising a warrant. But I have a hard time imagining any good reason for going in heavy like that.
I also am very surprised at how far back and how far afield Mueller's investigation is going. I mean, to the extent information exists about the potential for criminal activity by Paul Manafort back in '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, et cetera, it should be handed off to Department of Justice prosecutors, not Mueller.
I mean, this is really going way beyond the scope of an appropriate interpretation of his charge as a special counsel.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin?
TOOBIN: Well, it's very hard to know the answer to that without seeing the basis for what Mueller is doing. But certainly, if he is investigating Manafort for his ties to Russia, that would certainly suggest a motive for his involvement with Russia during the 2016 campaign. So, as long as the investigation deals with his relationship with Russians and people like the -- or the Ukrainians who were affiliated with the Putin regime, I don't think there's any problem.
And if you look at the jurisdiction that Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller --
COOPER: It's pretty wide.
TOOBIN: -- certainly, it's very broad, and it's within his rights to do this.
COOPER: Yes, Ken, do you think the kind of the marching orders, the mission was too broad?
CUCCINELLI: Well, I do think -- I assume the folks in the Department of Justice in retrospect do think it was written too broadly. And just as a proper matter of the boundaries that should have been drawn.
And Jeff may be right in terms of looking for a motive, but if you're going that far afield, you're away from the heart of the case and the heart of the charge that you got from the Department of Justice to investigate. And I really think this is well beyond the line and you know we won't all know it and have the facts to deal with it, perhaps ever, but certainly not until this whole process is over.
But then you're looking back and going, oh, well, you shouldn't have done that, and this made sense. COOPER: But, John, I mean --
CUCCINELLI: And it's Monday morning quarterbacking if that's the --
COOPER: John, this could be very much just a cudgel to try to get Manafort to flip? I mean, going back that far.
DEAN: I think it is. I think it is. They probably have a whiff of something, and they're trying to smoke it out. So, they have put no real boundaries on themselves to try to turn him. Hardball often works in situations like this. We have no idea what the man's breaking point is.
TOOBIN: But --
DEAN: His family is now involved as well. They -- you know, his wife was there with him at the time. So, this is pretty ugly stuff that they're dealing with.
TOOBIN: But sometimes, it doesn't work. I mean, Kenneth Starr famously locked up Susan McDougal for months for refusing to cooperate and she never agreed to cooperate, because she said she had nothing bad on the Clintons, and it may be Manafort says the same thing, that he has nothing bad on Donald Trump or anyone else.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We got more to talk about that.
As the Russian investigation continues, President Trump's legal bills are piling up.
[20:25:03] But someone other than the self-proclaimed billionaire is picking up at least some of the tab. You might be surprised to learn who's paying for it. We'll tell you, ahead.
COOPER: As President Trump is facing the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, we're learning new details tonight about who's footing some of the president's legal bill.
CNN has learned that the Republican National Committee, the RNC, spent more than $230,000 on the president's legal fees, just in the month of August alone.
Our Jeremy Diamond joins us now from the Trump Tower with more.
So, what did you found out about this?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Anderson.
Last month, the Republican National Committee began paying the president's personal legal bill stemming from this investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. So, last month, the RNC actually paid $230,000 to two of the president's personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, via their personal law firms. All of this is coming from the RNC's own legal fund, so not from their general campaign coffers, coffers that go to their political activities.
But, of course, this does raise the question about the president and why he needs to go out and seek outside help to pay for his legal bills. The president, of course, has claimed the net worth of the upwards of $10 billion. So, of course, those questions also beginning to be raised -- Anderson.
COOPER: I also understand the RNC paid for Donald Trump Jr.'s legal fees or for some of them, right?
DIAMOND: That's right. An RNC official also telling me that Donald Trump Jr., his attorneys also receiving payments from the Republican National Committee. Just this month, nearly $200,000 in payments.
And so, now, Trump Jr. is not only getting his legal bills covered by the Trump campaign which has been previously reported but also now by the Republican National Committee.
And of course, Trump Jr. is embroiled in all of this because of that infamous Trump Tower meeting last summer during which he met with an attorney he believed would provide him with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Anderson.
COOPER: So, Jeremy, just quickly, if it's coming for -- the money from the campaign, it that money being donated by the citizens who wanted to donate to the campaign?
DIAMOND: So, that's one thing that the RNC wants to be very clear about is that, it is coming from this legal fund that the RNC already has. So that's -- you have to actually donate to that specifically. A lot of times what happens is large donors who come in with a maximum contribution will donate to various accounts within the RNC, including the legal fund. But small dollar donors, you don't specifically donate to these funds, their money is not going towards this.
COOPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, I appreciate it.
Joining me now is CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dead and former Virginia Attorney Genera Kenneth Cuccinelli.
This is legal? Yes, obviously?
TOOBIN: It is legal. As long as the legal fees relate to an investigation of the campaign, it's legal. The RNC couldn't pay Donald Trump's legal fees to do his estate planning or relating to -- you know an adoption or some, you know, something unrelated to the campaign.
TOOBIN: But -- and it is true this is related to the campaign. The question is sort of more one of appropriateness about whether a billionaire should be calling on campaign contributors to pay legal fees that presumably he could afford to pay himself.
COOPER: Yes, Ken, do you think it's appropriate?
CUCCINELLI: Yes, you know, I think I'm a little surprised that what I suspect is how easy it is to get some donors to donate to this. It is in the surprise to them what the money is being used for and they heard all the same things, all the rest of us heard about the President's network during the campaign.
And, you know, so clearly he's a big boy, he can handle this himself. But I also think he's probably as we've seen many times, he's ticked off by it all, and he probably feels like, you know, why should I have to do this. And, you know, I think this President respond to that. And -- so, I think that may be where some of it is coming from in terms of just accepting that kind of help, even when he's clearly capable of handling it himself.
COOPER: Well, John Dean, I mean, the idea that the RNC has also paid some of Donald Trump Jr.'s legal bill, I guess, he was a surrogate on the campaign and I guess that would be the justification for them to do that. Does that make sense to you?
DEAN: Yes, there have been some questions by the chairwoman of the RNC about what funds are appropriate and what are inappropriate. And she doesn't have a definite rule in this. My understanding at this time other than the fact that generally was put in for legal defense was contemplated. This was for election related defense matter, not for a White House or the son of a President being investigated for connection with the Russian hacking. So, we don't really know. And I suspect where w this news out somebody night bring a lawsuit and test it.
COOPER: Yes. All right, thanks everyone.
More now on the earthquake, the destruction of Mexico City tonight is intensive. Here's what it looked and sounded like when it struck.
We also saw a number of buildings just collapsing. Joining us now from Mexico City, freelance journalist, Ioan Grillo.
Ioan, what are you seeing, what's going on around you right now?
IOAN GRILLO, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: So, right now I'm at the scene of a damaged building. The rescue people are calling to silence to try and communicate getting rubble away from the scene. There's a building right behind us which is just collapsed, an apartment block with various people living there. We don't have a number on how many people could be alive or dead in that building.
COOPER: Ioan, if you need to be silent that's fine.
GRILLO: Hundreds of people have come out to the street. They're come out voluntary to help clear the rubble and try and save lives of the people inside. You know what, let's just -- if they're calling for silence, you be the judge, they're far away from you I know, but I'm just wondering what -- you know, what kind of damage you have seen? It looks like citizens, it looks like there were rescue personnel on the rubble there but it's actually citizens who are, you know, having this bucket brigade, try to help remove some of the rubble?
[20:35:01] GRILLO: That's correct. There's a strong tradition in Mexico of solidarity with earthquakes. There's a strong historic memory going back to 1985 when a devastating earthquake was killed tens of thousands of people. And there's been a regular drilled since that time waiting for that disaster to happen again and today that disaster has happened again.
So, people came out on the street in the thousands all around. Now, the damage is devastating from what we've seen. Just around from where I live, literally 50 meters from my house, an apartment block was flattened like a bomb had hit it. Every where you look you can see damage from minor damage of shattered glass to buildings really destroyed.
If you look around at some of the people here, you can see they're passing buckets, taking rubble away, looking, searching for bodies, searching for people.
Now, it's only been some seven or eight hours since the earthquake so many people could be there injured, struggling for their live, urgently in need of medical help.
Just earlier I saw a man running with a young girl. She looked maybe seven or eight years old with her in his arms running for an ambulance. So you've got people come our, trying to save those lives and families around here devastated, very stressed, very worried, looking for their children, looking for their parents, looking for this loved ones.
COOPER: In terms of -- it's obviously getting dark there now, do rescue workers have lights that they are able to bring in? I mean, I'm wondering how organized are the authorities? They're calling for silence right now so we're just going to move on and we'll come back to you later on.
So again, that's the scene right now from Ioan Grillo.
Just ahead the President Trump's fiery speech at the U.N. and the threat he level at North Korea.
[20:40:43] COOPER: President Trump spoke to the world today, and for anybody wondering whether he would borrow from recent tweets, make threats to North Korea, echo some of the name calling the campaign or restate the American First platform he campaign. And went on, you can rest easy, that's what he did. Today, making his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he did all of that to the point that left some delegate taking it back and cause emotional reaction in the chamber, apparently, as the senior U.N. official put it to our Jim Sciutto. Here's a small sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As President of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few then evil will triumph. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself for its allies we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the President also put Iran on notice calling the multilateral nuclear deal of the U.S. as a part to, "An embarrassment to the United States." He said some nations where in his words going to help. The speech set off a rave reaction and caused the political spectrum from the left. "The Atlantic," Peter Beinart writes President Obama's foreign policy vision on his head.
On the right, the National Review's Rich Lowry opened his piece with this. "As someone said on Twitter, never before has been, there are so much murmuring of holy expletive and so many different languages."
With that in mind, I want to get New York Times Columnist, Tom Friedman's take. He is the best selling author most recently of, "Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations."
Tom overall, I'm wondering what you made of the President's speech today.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, yes, it's a world view that I just don't share, Anderson, though world view that the President articulated is America first. And I think we became a prosperous and secure country ever since World War II in particular by being America, the most connected.
And I think in a word where network are basically becoming the center of our lives and what flows through that network, ideas, trade, opportunity, the country that's most connected to the most networks is the country is going to be the most thriving and the most secure.
And I just don't agree with the President point of view. I also think the speech was larded with contradictions. Others have pointed this out. You know, the President says now, you know, the first thing is sovereignty. Countries have to respect each other sovereignty. And one really is tempted to ask President Trump, really. We had the biggest nonviolent attack on our sovereignty by Russia during the last election according to our three leading intelligence agencies that our countries are very experienced and he is yet to really condemn that.
And the other contradiction is he basically signal that he is -- he wants to rip up the Iran deal, and apparently intends to do so. The Iran nuclear deal, the one that has denuclearizes Iran effectively, potentially from getting nuclear weapon for 50 years, essentially. And at the same time, we're going to persuade North Korea to voluntary give up its nuclear weapons. And you're sitting in North Korea, you've see that the United States struck a deal with Iran. Iran gave up its nuclear option and now the United States want to tear that up. That's not going to really work in great harmony with your North Korea diplomacy. So that's my general reaction.
COOPER: This notion of American First and -- I mean, you know, something sort of echo something else he said during the campaign about kind of not dictating to other countries or not sort of being the -- certainly the world's policeman but also not trying to change or nation build in other countries. Is that something which -- do you think he actually believes that? Because I mean, obviously there are many countries where the U.S. is involved with and is trying to dictate terms on how they should behave and what they should do.
FRIEDMAN: Yes, it's not particularly thought out. Obviously we're telling the Iranians how to behave but we're not telling the Saudis how to behave. And both of them have problematic domestic issues as far as we're concerned and even international ones.
[20:45:02] So none of it, Anderson, feels deeply thought out to me. It starts with a kind of, you know, catch phrase, America First. And then it attempts to build a kind of global foreign policy around it.
It doesn't strike me as very deep and it flies in the face of how we built a world that has been largely peaceful if one looks at the broad span of world history and made us largely prosperous every since World War II. It argues that there is a completely different approach. Anderson, what do you think are the odds that every one of our statesman since -- our greatest statesman since World War II who built American prosperity and security on the idea of making a much inclusive world, shaped around our values and really our interests that they got it all wrong but Donald Trump and Breitbart got it right.
COOPER: You know, there are some supporters of Trump who will listen to what he said about North Korea and say, well look, maybe this kind of threat it will work. I mean, nothing else seems to have worked. They would point out through multiple administrations which tried kind of different tactics on this?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I want to take up that specific point because I think they have a point. I know rock man is kind of juvenile, but whatever maybe behind it is a feeling that we need to shrink this guy in North Korea, not build him up. So put a nickname on him. And making him afraid of what Trump may or may not do. I don't have a problem with that.
The real question is, is there a long-term strategy other than living with North Korea with a nuclear bomb. Are we really ready to go to war over that, I just don't know. I sense so, Anderson, in what the President said whatever he had to say, in the last 24 hours, we may be approaching a point where we will say to the North Koreans the next rocket you test, the next ballistic missile you test near one of our allies, particularly China and South Korea, we are going to take out the launcher.
And then you put the North Koreans in any situation where they have to decide if they retaliate by taking out the launcher they are beginning a process that could end up indeed in there on suicide.
The one thing that has made me, you know, slightly somewhat hopeful that this doesn't have to come to a violent solution in Korean Peninsula is the fact that North Korea is three generation dynasty. It's not been ruled by three generation of the same family. That suggest to me that this family is not suicidal, it's homicidal. And I do believe that gives us some room for maneuver. I wouldn't bit the wife and kids on it but it does suggest that at the end of the day these guys aren't in the business of committing suicide.
COOPER: Tom Friedman, thank you very much.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: We're following closely the earthquake just outside Mexico City. Also, an update on hurricane Maria which could end up being the stronger storm to make landfall in Puerto Rico in at least 85 years. I'll speak with the NOAA Flight Director, who is flying to the storm, next.
[20:51:24] COOPER: We have an update from Mexico City shortly. And we also continue to follow hurricane Maria. We'll going to be watching it here and across the network all through the night.
In the meantime, as people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean are bracing for this category five monster scientists are flying through it.
Joining me on the phone is NOAA Flight Director Richard Henning. Richard, you've been up in the plane for a few hours now, flying in and around hurricane Maria. At this point that's storm doing? Is it getting stronger?
RICHARD HENNING, FLIGHT DIRECTOR, NOAA HURRICANE HUNTERS (via telephone): Well, Anderson, at this moment it actually looks like it's leveled off in intensity. Unfortunately, it's leveled off at an extreme level of intensity. It has actually been getting stronger throughout the entire day. And it's been getting stronger ever since this went over Dominica last night and reemerged back out over the waters of the eastern Caribbean.
The pressure has dropped all the way down to 909 millibars, which is historically low for this portion of the Caribbean. The maximum winds are at 175 miles per hour sustained with higher gusts than that. So it's just about as bad as you could get, if you can imagine a worst case scenario for Puerto Rico, that's pretty much what we have tonight.
COOPER: I mean, that's incredible, 175 miles an hour sustained with gust about that, that's extraordinary. What about the storm's organization? How does it compare to other storms this season?
HENNING: It is a classic hurricane in every sensor of the word. We're flying above the storm right now through the upper portions of storm at 45,000 feet. If you can imagine a hurricane like a fireplace in your home, we are essentially flying through the chimney of the hurricane in what we called the outflow of the storm. And it is pretty much a perfect outflow, so all the mass that's coming in to the center of the storm is coming out the top like a chimney.
And right now there's nothing to restrict the intensity of the storm. It's over very warm water. There's nothing shearing the storm. Unfortunately, I wish I had better news for the folks in Puerto Rico, but all indications from the data we have are that the National Hurricane Center forecasts is right on track. It's heading straight for the island at category five intensity.
COOPER: With the storm, I mean, of this strength, did you fly through the eye of the storm as you have before with others or do you just stayed with the outer bands?
HENNING: In this particular aircraft, the G4 that flies at 45,000 feet, we cannot fly through the eye wall into the eye with this aircraft. That's what we do with the NOAA P-3, that's an airplane that is a four-engine turboprop that makes the real, making down with low altitudes between five and 10,000 feet. That's the one that gets the extreme roller coaster ride.
This aircraft is a lot of turbulence outside. Let I said, we're in that chimney and all of that mass coming out of the top of the storm creates turbulence at our level, but not nearly with the P-3 encounters down in the eye wall at low altitudes.
COOPER: Richard Henning. I so appreciate what you and all your colleagues at NOAA do. You get us the -- you get everybody the information that then helps people track where this is and how to do prepare and saves lives.
[20:55:47] Coming up, -- thank you very much, the latest on this powerful hurricane heading toward Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and the latest on the deadly earthquake that hit Mexico today. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Deadly earthquake hits one of the biggest cities on earth and one of the strongest hurricanes on record takes aim at U.S. territory. First the quake, even on water you can see the force of it.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. This is a bad idea to be on this boat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't want my phone to get -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fear for my life --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Magnitude 7.1 centered in the Mexican state of Puebla. Large scale destruction there and just to the north in Mexico City, this is another video. See the effects on the building.