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Evacuations Ordered for Coastal Areas; Hurricane Hunters inside the Storm; Trump's Calls to Investigate Op-Ed Writer; 17 Years After 9/11. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:52] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Hurricane Florence, we begin with breaking news because of this hurricane that is bearing down on the East Coast right now. A hurricane watch has just been issued from South Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Florence is barreling towards the U.S. coast.

So let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. He's tracking the path for us.

So how fast is this moving? When do you think it's going to make landfall?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Moving now at 15 miles per hour. And that's more than we've seen yesterday. We were somewhere around nine or 10 miles per hour yesterday, getting over very warm water. We had what we think is called an eyewall replacement cycle overnight. Yesterday our big word was rapid intensification. This is a new one today. The inner eyewall has really fell apart, an outer eyewall tried to build and is trying right now and that will re-strengthen the storm.

I think the hurricane hunter aircraft is in there right now. It, not that long ago, left Charleston. It is flying through, headed toward the eye right now. We tried to get a live shot from that airplane, but it is just so loud in the airplane that the pilot and the second pilot and the officer can't even hear us on the phone. So we'll just let them fly the plane.

Here you go. From Florence it will take its way a little bit farther to the north today. Yesterday we were very close to a Wilmington landfall in the middle, but now it's slightly farther to the north. And so, therefore, maybe Norfolk, you're back in it. Hampton Roads, you're back in it. Charleston slightly less in it than yesterday.

Remember, now, the closer the storm gets to land, the smaller the cone gets. So we'll have a better estimate in eight hours, another better estimate in 24 hours. And that's why the hurricane watches are all the way from Kill Devil Hills, all the way from really Hampton Roads, all the way down to Charleston just in case. This means that you will feel or someplace feel this hurricane force wind gust in the next 36, 48 or 72 hours. It will get upgraded to a warning and they will narrow down where that warning is.

The next real big thing is the storm surge threat. And I just tweeted out, I hope you go look at it, the tweets that I'm going to put out today are about storm surge. There could be some wash, some salt water washing over some of these islands. I'm not sure if it's Morehead City or if it's -- if it's, you know, Cape Lookout. I just -- we just don't know yet. But some of these waves and water coming over the ocean banks will be 20 feet high. This is almost what we saw in Katrina, which Bay St. Louis and Gulf Port had 28 feet. And those communities, some of them, aren't even back yet completely compared to where they were.

So still a lot of rip currents. You need to stay out of the water today. The storm is still far away. I know there will be surfers trying to get in this, but not without a life jacket. Absolutely not, guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chad, thank you very much.

That -- those hurricane watchers that are flying into the middle of the storm right now that you just mentioned, we're going to try to connect with them, though it is really loud as you can imagine inside their plane.

So joining us on the phone is the NOAA Aircraft Operations Flight Director Richard Henning. He's flying inside Hurricane Florence at this moment.

Richard, can you hear me?

RICHARD HENNING, NOAA AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Yes, hi, I can hear you just fine. Our satellite connection seems to be working pretty well.

Yes, I'm at an altitude of about 44,000 feet. We have just exited the environment immediately around Florence and we're continuing to take our observations as we head back to our base in Florida.

CAMEROTA: OK, so tell us about your observations. What was it like when you flew in there?

HENNING: Well, what we've been doing is we've been flying a pattern up at high altitude where we drop a number of weather instruments, in fact, we will be dropping a total of 27 of them today out the bottom of our aircraft that fall by parachute. And what these instruments do is they measure all the vital metrological data that those computer models need, pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and we drop those in the path of the storm, in the environment around the storm and actually across the top of the storm, again, from an altitude of between 40,000 and 45,000 feet.

[06:35:10] And this is a very large, very powerful hurricane. The feeder bands were extending all the way out in excess of 150 miles from the center. Everything that you've been hearing about this storm in terms of its severity is all true. CAMEROTA: So, listen, Richard, give us some context. You do this for a

living all the time. So tell us about Florence, because we were really stunned yesterday when it jumped from a category one to a category four. So is this a different type of hurricane than you normally see?

HENNING: Well, one thing that's really good is that the NOAA computer models have gotten better and better all the years. So this intensification was actually well forecast by the National Hurricane Center. They say that it would rapidly intensify from a tropical storm all the way up to a major hurricane, and sure enough it did that. So the more data that we can collect with aircraft like this, the better the computer models get, the better the forecasts are going to be. So amongst the metrological world, it really didn't take anybody by much of a surprise what happened yesterday.

CAMEROTA: Well, here in -- at the news desk, I think it maybe -- it just surprised me, perhaps not Chad Myers. But I guess what I'm asking is, from what you've seen up in the sky, what do you want people on the ground in North Carolina to know?

HENNING: Well, what I can tell you is that all of the conditions that are necessary for a hurricane to continue to intensify are present. We're seeing very little wind shear up here at this altitude. The instruments that we dropped show the very favorable environment surrounding this storm. It's going to be traversing water temperatures that are around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So there's nothing to prevent this storm from continuing to intensify.

It's leveled off for the moment in intensity. I would say that it's fluctuating right now in intensity. But nobody should -- for example, if it were to drop from a 140 mile an hour storm down to 130, nobody should take that as weakening because it's got a long way to go to get to the North Carolina coast and the National Hurricane Center forecast has it becoming a very powerful category four storm up in the neighborhood of 150 miles per hour before it makes landfall.

So everybody needs to take this storm very, very seriously. Anybody from the area around Beaufort, South Carolina, all the way up to Norfolk, and even further up the coast from there needs to pay very close attention.

CAMEROTA: OK. Richard Henning, such great advice. Thank you very much for bringing us your report literally from the eye of the storm. We really appreciate you taking time to show us and tell us what's happening there.

I mean those guys are incredible. The video from when they're flying through the bands of the turbulence inside the plane is like very heart pumping to me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've got to say, I hope people are listening to what he said. Because what he told you, he said, everything you're hearing about the severity of this storm, it's all true and there's nothing standing in the way of this storm getting even stronger.

CAMEROTA: Yes, intensifying. BERMAN: All right, we are talking about what's going on in the White

House as well, trying to project an image that everything is working just fine. They don't care at all about the release of this Bob Woodward book. Nothing to see here. Is that really the case? Next.


[06:42:59] BERMAN: So, this morning, the White House is trying to contain the fallout from the anonymous "New York Times" op-ed and Bob Woodward's new book "Fear," which is actually finally out now, for real, not just leaks and excerpts, but the book is actually available in book stores as of today.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is saying what President Trump is saying, she wants the Justice Department to look into the author of the op-ed to figure out who it was, who it is, though she insists that she doesn't think lie detectors should be used on staffers to reveal his or her identity.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No lie detectors are being used or talked about or looked at as a possibility. Frankly, the White House and the staff here are focused on doing our jobs and trying to show up here every day and do what we can to help better the American people, not deal with cowards that refuse to put their names in an anonymous letter.


BERMAN: All right, Chris Cillizza decided to come back with us. Also joining us, senior political analyst John Avalon.

And, John, you know, I think it's interesting when you hear Sarah Sanders and the White House talk about this, we asked people in our poll if the author of this op-ed should be outed, as it were. And people say, yes, we'd like to know who did this. Some 58 percent of people say that the -- that the writer should identify themselves. I don't think that means that they think that they should be outed through an investigation.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that's just normal human curiosity. Look, the idea of subjecting White House staff to lie detector tests is bonkers. The fact that we had the second in command in the United States, the vice president, offering to take a lie detector test is just a sign of how strange these times are. But the White House wants this to go away. They desperately want it to go away. But it's not going to go away on its own unless events overtake it.


BERMAN: Not if the president keeps on talk about it and writing about it. AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: I mean you say the White House wants it to go away. I don't know what the president wants.

CAMEROTA: Well, but, I mean, I -- to John's point, Sarah Sanders sort of had a smile on her face addressing it as though this was a ludicrous suggestion that there would ever be lie detectors, you know, in the Oval Office for people to come in and take them.

But as you point out, the vice president volunteered to do that. He had an opportunity, Chris Cillizza, to say like that's a ludicrous suggestion. We're going to go about the business of the people. But he didn't say that this weekend.

[06:45:13] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: No. No, and, remember, Mike Pence's M.O. is that he has to be the guy who's the most loyal to Donald Trump, who Donald Trump never doubts, because that's his path to the big job, period.

The other thing I would note is, Sarah Sanders said in that briefing that the White House is moving on. Somebody should probably tell Donald Trump that because it doesn't appear as though he is moving on.

BERMAN: Right. And as we were talking about in the last segment, I think that's having an impact on everything.


BERMAN: I mean the president could be talking nonstop about the economy. Instead, he's talking somewhat, at least partially, about Bob Woodward, who has --

CAMEROTA: But how do you want him to move on when the book comes on today?

BERMAN: It's a good point.

CAMEROTA: There could be more bombshells in the book. I mean maybe we've heard the worst of it, but there could be more bombshells in the book that comes out today.

BERMAN: You've read it.

AVLON: I've read the book. It -- it is -- has a lot of delicious anecdotes, many of which have already been published. There's more to dig into there certainly. But, look, I think the White House should not be as consumed by this. There's the business of governing. Do they have a problem on their hand that's been detailed in reporting in this book and the op-ed? Hell yes. You can't spin your way out of that. But they should really focus more on the art of governing. And what they tend to do now is say, look, don't pay attention to what the reporting says, pay attention to the economy. But even the president seems to have a capacity to step on his own message in that, as they did yesterday.

CAMEROTA: Chris Cillizza, your thoughts?

CILLIZZA: No. I mean I -- look, the -- the president stepping on his own good message I think is the sorry of the 19 months here. I come back again and again to the economy. People believe the economy has turned around. It is going in the right direction. There's positive views of it. This should all be to the good.

Presidential approval and economics, or direction of the country approval move in unison traditionally. To have people saying the economy is good, 69 percent of people I think is what John cited earlier. And to have presidential approval at 36 percent, that gap, that delta, we've not seen a ton in the past. And I think speaks to the fact that he is such a divisive and unpopular figure that it looms over everything, including something that would traditionally be a very good piece of political news for a president.


BERMAN: I think one thing we've learned over the decades is that scandals leave a mark when they reinforce a stereotype.



BERMAN: And so when we talk about "The New York Times" op-ed, when we talk about the Bob Woodward book, the reason that they're having an impact is that they reinforce this notion which is existing. You talk to any member of Congress, this is what we've said all along, that it's chaos in the White House, that the president needs to be contained, he needs to be held in check, and that's why it's leaving a mark, maybe because it's true.


BERMAN: And all the protestations that we're hearing from the White House may not have an effect because there's some truth to this. And we know a little bit -- the history of Watergate teaches us something here, right?

CAMEROTA: Yes, it does, because it turns out that Deep Throat had denied that he was Deep Throat for decades and then he finally admitted, Mark Felt, that he was Deep Throat and we know that Bob Woodward's reporting was proven true. So here's Ben Bradlee's autobiography, this is of "The Washington Post." You'll remember he was executive editor during Watergate. And he said, little by little, week by week, with knew our information was right when we hear it, right when we checked it once, right when we checked it again. Little by little we came to realize that the White House information was wrong, as soon as we checked it, that all of these statesmen were lying.

AVLON: And, at the time, one of the things the Nixon White House said was all the White House Watergate reporting was a witch hunt. I'm just saying.

CAMEROTA: That's interests.


CAMEROTA: That's an interesting nugget.

BERMAN: That's a nice little button there.

CAMEROTA: Thank you there.

AVLON: Yes, you're welcome.

CAMEROTA: John, Chris, thank you both very much.

So it's been 17 years since the September 11th attacks. Where are we on the war on terror? John Avlon will give us a "Reality Check," next.


[06:53:04] CAMEROTA: Well, I can't believe it's been 17 years. The terror attacks of 9/11 were 17 years ago today, also on a Tuesday. I remember that day. I thought we would never recover. I thought that life would never be the same again. And it is amazing the power of resilience and how quickly America and New York came together and D.C. So what is the status of the war on terror today 17 years later? John Avlon joins us with a "Reality Check."

AVLON: That's right, Ali.

Look, terrorism is always one bad day away from being issue number one in America. We learned that 17 years ago on September 11th, 2001, when 2,977 souls were stolen from us. It was a day that defined us, a hinge of history that set our century off on a very different course.

And while the threat of terrorism has not stopped, and America's longest war continues in Afghanistan, thanks to vigilant intelligence agencies and law enforcement, we have not suffered attacks on the scale of 9/11 since.

The ISIS-inspired 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando was the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil since 9/11. Forty-nine people lost their lives.

The 2014 San Bernardino shooting was the second deadliest with 14 people massacred. The 2009 Ft. Hood shooting by Major Nadal Hassan claimed 13 lives and, no, it was not workplace violence, a Senate report called it terrorism.

Eight people were killed by jihadists driving down a bike path up New York City's West Side Highway in 2017. And the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 claimed three lives, but wounded at least 264 bystanders. And that resilient city emerged "Boston strong."

And these are just some of the attacks attributed to terrorism since 9/11. Jihadis still represent the greatest terrorism threat with 104 lives claimed in 13 separate attacks according to a study by the New America Foundation. But right wing terrorists claimed 73 lives in that period, the same study found, with massacres like the nine people murdered in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, and six people slaughtered in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 by a man with white supremacist ties.

[06:55:06] And then there are incidents of hate inspired mass shootings, like the murder of five police officers in Dallas in 2016, the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11. And the Las Vegas shooting, which left 58 dead and few clues about the motive.

It's notable that most of these attacks have been carried out by lone wolves, rather than specific terrorist organizations in the wake of 9/11. And, of course, these grimless do not include the terror plots that were stopped before they could start. Some studies count that number at more than 100.

We have learned a lot since 9/11, constantly calibrating the balance between security and civil liberties in a free society and beating back the bigotry of Islamaphobia whiles we confront the very real danger of terrorism, the weaponization of hate and fear deployed against innocent civilians for political purposes.

Seventeen years after 9/11, the memories of the day have started to fade and, to some extent, it is natural. After all, 17 years after Pearl Harbor, it was 1958, and America had moved on from the Second World War into the Elvis era.

But we must not give into historic amnesia. We must not forget the lessons learned from 9/11. And we should always honor the heroism that we witnessed that day.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: And never forget the people who were lost that day as well. Seventeen years later, I know it feels like a long time. Not a long time for these families.

AVLON: That's right.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right, a hurricane watch is up now from South Carolina all the way to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Mandatory evacuations begin today. This is a serious storm. Hurricane Florence every sign it will get stronger before it slams into the East Coast. Pay attention.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a tough storm. We've got to prepare for the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A category four storm is life-threatening. It's going to bring storm surge that we may not have seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one looks a little uglier than other ones. Better be safe than sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's naming off people that he believes helped Woodward write this book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is (INAUDIBLE) absurd. Where is trust within this administration?

[07:00:06] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To not even verify some of these quotes seems very careless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's one of the most thorough reporters I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen