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Did Trump Signal Possible Pardons for Russia Investigation?; Trump Tweets on Book, NAFTA, Border Wall and Floods; Trump Increases Attacks on Fellow Republicans; President Trump's Childhood Home for Rent; Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 27, 2017 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: To avoid Mueller's charges because people now know Trump can and will pardon them if they remain loyal.

Now I've heard Democrats say that.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

TAPPER: But hearing a Trump supporter say that seems even more significant.

HAM: I actually disagree with that. I think this is a -- Arpaio is a theatrical publicity seeking birther who gets himself into trouble and then blames other people. I can't imagine why he is standing behind him. Like it's a personal affinity. It ticks off the right people that he pardons him.

And look, he has the power to pardon him. But there's a pile of ignominious pardons and clemencies that I think, you know, that Manning goes on that pile. Oscar Romero goes on that pile. And perhaps this does. Particularly because, look, he is an avatar of toughness and law enforcement to some.

But he also is an avatar for abuses of power in law enforcement and some of the worst excesses there. There's an argument that perhaps some of this was politically motivated, the timing of it going after him. But this is --

TAPPER: By the Obama administration.

HAM: Right. But this is a guy who I think has gone too far in many cases. And by the way, was voted out in a Trump county in Arizona 56- 44 which highlights some of the divisions we're seeing on this stage. And that's exactly what Trump likes to do. That's what he is a natural at.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But to your question about whether this signals something -- I mean, first of all, anybody who thinks that Donald Trump is loyal to anybody but himself only needs to talk to Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie. He is not going to be loyal to people. But second, there are a whole slew of state attorneys general out there who would be only too happy to pick up the thread if for some reason Donald Trump thinks it's a wise idea to prospectively pardon Flynn or Manafort, et cetera.

This will not be over. And by the way, if he did pardon others like those guys, there is a congressional investigation that's happening where right now they have taken the Fifth, those particular witnesses. If they are pardoned, they won't be able to take the Fifth. And you better believe Congress will get them to testify.

TAPPER: So, Michael, Adam Schiff, is a ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, he tweeted a similar analysis.

"Arpaio action was appalling and political. It also sends message to witnesses in Russia investigation to keep quiet, stay loyal and get pardon."

Do you agree?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT: No. Of course, as somebody who's in that jackpot, I can tell you that if I had done something wrong, I wouldn't expect the president to pardon me. I don't expect him to pardon anybody else involved in this. But the bottom line is this, Representative Schiff is on top of nothing. The Russia investigation is going nowhere. And now they're focusing on financial crimes that allegedly happened long before Paul Manafort ever worked for Donald Trump, long before --

GRANHOLM: How do you know?

CAPUTO: That's -- I'm just looking at the same leaks you are, illegal leaks that are breaking the law every time they come out. The fact of the matter is, this Arpaio pardon doesn't send a message to me. It doesn't send a message to Paul Manafort. This is all chatter. This is all designed to distract people from the fact that the Democrats have got a big problem here.

You guys have to come together and sell your progressive doctrine to the middle, to the independents, the Republicans. We have to expand our base, too. And instead of doing that, we're sitting around talking about Russia, Russia, Russia, which is absolutely nothing. He's not going to pardon anybody involved in Russia because nothing happened.

TAPPER: Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. In the meantime Bob Mueller is sending out subpoenas to Paul Manafort's PR. And look, what is chatter --

CAPUTO: Which has nothing to do with Trump.

NAVARRO: What is chatter is everything we're doing right now because what is happening is that Robert Mueller while we are all talking about it is focusing, is serious, is expanding his investigation. Has hired a very professional team, specializing in things like financial crimes, like turning witnesses.

So all of this noise around it, you saying that there's nothing, me saying there might be something, doesn't matter. The guy is focused.

TAPPER: We don't. Well, the truth is -- the truth is, we don't know. We also know that there was at least willingness by Don Trump Junior and Manafort and Kushner to attend a meeting that was billed as a Russian government attorney with dirt on Hillary Clinton. That's not who she was at the end of the day but there was at least willingness and we're told Mueller is also looking into that.

So the truth is, you know more than me because you've been interviewed. But we don't know what he's going to find.

CAPUTO: Right. But we're also seeing leaks that come out that there was apparently a member -- a junior member of the campaign who was incessantly trying to make meetings with Russia.

TAPPER: Rick Dearborn.

CAPUTO: No, no.

TAPPER: Someone else?

CAPUTO: This is George Papadopoulos.

TAPPER: Yes. OK.

CAPUTO: And he was rebuffed every time. And Paul Manafort said these are not the kind of meetings that we need to be having. Also we get this story this week on CNN that Rick Dearborn, the deputy chief of staff, has apparently sent an e-mail in, said that somebody is looking to set up a meeting with Russians.

If Rick Dearborn -- I mean, Rick Dearborn has been on the Hill for 30 years. When everybody else was getting off the Hill to go cash in and make millions of dollars, he became a man of the Senate, one of the leaders, one of those top experts on legislative process in the United States. If he is not safe in this investigation, if the leaks are coming out and embarrassing him and trying to smear him when he has done nothing, nobody is safe in this situation.

The fact of the matter is, inside those e-mails that all the committees have and the FBI has right now are also e-mails that exonerate the Trump campaign and people like Paul Manafort and others within the campaign on stories that came out last year that were completely false.

[13:05:10] TAPPER: Governor, let me ask you a question. Are you concerned that your party, the Democratic Party, has invested so much in talking about the Russia investigation that if actually it comes forward and let's say it's some minor financial crimes that happened long before the person involved was hooked up with President Trump, that ultimately your party is writing checks that the facts aren't going to cash?

GRANHOLM: Well, I do think that we cannot just focus on an anti-Trump message, although it is so tempting because every single day provides huge amounts of material to work with. I do think that for us, as a party, we have to -- we have to unite and lift people's souls and tell people that we are better than this as a nation. And that means that we've got to focus on a lot of the things that they care about, yes.

But, you know, Donald Trump and the Russia thing is one small slice. He also wants to do the wall. We don't want to do the wall because we want to unite. He wants to -- he says he wants to do infrastructure. He is attacking his own party. He's not going to get that done. We want to do that because we want to create jobs.

You heard Terry McAuliffe with the whole litany of things that he wants to do. We have to be for something. We have to call people to something higher. We have to have them be proud of America but not be divisive. And he is utterly divisive. And that is an important contrast.

HAM: I think there is danger in going just exclusively down the Russia path. And one of Trump's talents or luck is that when he says something like -- about the statues, Confederate statues, and where does this end, he can count on the other side popping up a bunch of liberal activists saying, I think I'll take a pass on Columbus and Washington. And people do feel like, wait, this is going too far.

So I think to your point about people reaching out to the middle, both parties are doing a magnificent job of driving the middle away from both of them. And to ignore the left's part in that I think it gives -- this is what gives Trump some power. People will always run in the other direction super hard.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: No, that's what I'm saying. There's two swirling (INAUDIBLE) on the side.

NAVARRO: Yes. I don't think that Donald Trump does for me, you know, perspective of why is he trying to distract us? We have been now in a steady stream of two weeks of distraction between Charlottesville, you know, which went on for days and days and days because of his ridiculous ham-handed respond. Then the transgender ban. Now Arpaio.

It's one thing after the other, which has been distracting us from Russia. Doesn't matter. Because the guy that's not distracted is Bob Mueller. And he's the one that's going to make the decision.

TAPPER: We have much more to discussion. This conversation is going so well. Our dear leader Jeff Zucker has allowed us to keep going and bleed into the next show. So stick around. It's actually -- we've gone over already. So stick around.

Coming up, we're going to talk more about President Trump including his escalating attacks against his fellow Republicans. That story next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:12:29] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. Just this morning, as catastrophic floodwaters were rising in

southeast Texas, this was President Trump's first tweet of the day, plugging a book by David Clarke, the highly controversial sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Quote, "A great book by a great guy, highly recommended," along with the Amazon link.

Now to be sure, President Trump has also addressed the storm. Moments again he tweeted -- moments ago he tweeted, quote, "Wow, experts are calling Harvey a once in 500 year flood. We have an all out effort going and going well."

President Trump now says he will travel to Texas as soon as it can be done without causing a disruption.

I'm back with my panel.

And, Michael, this is a big test for -- I mean, obviously, the most important thing is the safety and security of people in the path of the storm. But this is a big political test for the president.

CAPUTO: It really is. And the great thing is the president put in place really strong emergency administrators. We have Brock Long, who comes from Alabama, but has one of the strongest resumes for emergency response ever in the position. We have Eric Hyberger, who is his chief of staff, who was in New York on 9/11 and who in 2004 was at that terrible hurricane season we had in Miami. He was there on site.

This has all the markings of something that can be really -- a good showing for the president. You know, all bets are off because storms are tough. But the real problem here is, FEMA is a wreck. It's a mess. And what the people are facing today, they're going to look back on and see it as the high point of the situation because they've got years and years and years ahead of them trying to get their money back from their flood insurance.

We've got people from Hurricane Sandy who have been looking for their money for five years and FEMA is still screwing them today. So not only do they have to respond strongly, the president can take strong steps to reform FEMA, this is a great test for this administration.

GRANHOLM: Well, I would now -- I just think it's -- with all respect, a little soon to be able to say that this is the high point or something when people are still on their roofs and --

CAPUTO: Understood.

GRANHOLM: And, you know, unfound. But I do know this. The president in his budget put over $300 million of cuts in there for FEMA. And there's a lot of people -- I mean, a lot of Republicans in Congress who voted against helping communities like after Hurricane Sandy.

I just think that we've got to be really careful. When it comes to this issue of our nation being safe from natural disasters, this is an area we cannot skimp on. So I hope that members of Congress who are presented with this budget request will deny it and say, we have to fully fund it. (CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: No, but I think it's important as a Floridian, who, you know, lives with this hurricane season every year, I think it's very important.

[13:15:04] And it's a lesson that we learned through Katrina. We don't put political appointees, we don't put cronies, to run emergency services.

GRANHOLM: Yes. Agree.

NAVARRO: To run FEMA. We need the best of professionals. You know, President Obama, President Bush after Katrina named Craig Fugate who was terrific. I hope that this new person is just as good.

What's really important at this point is for state government, local government, federal government to be in complete and absolute coordination. And we need to be concentrated on this. I mean, obviously the people of Houston are hurting so much. So it would help if the president of the United States, instead of tweeting out about Sheriff Clarke and pardoning Arpaio in the midst of this would focus on this big state with big problems right now.

HAM: Yes, I think to your point, it's important to be careful. And one of the things that these bills when they ask for funding are not is careful. They're larded up with everything under the sun that everyone wants at that moment because they know that everyone has to vote for this thing. I think that is a -- that's actually a failure of leadership to pick priorities when we have a certain number of -- certain amount of money here. And the pool was not infinite.

But look, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was learning about Brock Long. And I think there are good people in place. Abbott is a competent governor. Has gone through Ike in 2008 in Galveston in an administration with Rick Perry. So there's some signs that point to good. But I think what we're seeing now with this flooding coming up, you know, a day or two after is how bad these can get several days after the actual storm hitting. And so they're really on watch right now.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: They're going to have all these people, which you've pointed out earlier.

TAPPER: Another tweet that the president sent out this morning, "With Mexico being one of the highest crime nations in the world, we must have the wall," that's in all caps. "Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other."

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: I think he did that just for you.

TAPPER: Just for me? Talking about the wall.

GRANHOLM: That's so ridiculous.

CAPUTO: He does this to communicate with the people.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: But also he enjoys seeing the reaction on television. I know he does. I would, too. I mean, the fact that it triggers the media so much.

GRANHOLM: It's so ridiculous. It's not just for media.

CAPUTO: It's modern times.

GRANHOLM: Or some others will pay for it.

CAPUTO: Do you still have a fax in your office? This is -- you know.

TAPPER: Do you not find it at all questionable, if you had been standing there and he was saying, should I send this, should I send this, when people are literally worried for their lives in Houston and he is sending out tweets about the wall or even more egregiously about David Clarke's book? That doesn't bother you at all?

CAPUTO: No, it doesn't bother me at all. I mean, we spent most of this show talking about anything but the storm. I mean, people talk about other things during these times. We're all really hopeful about it. We're relieved there's only been a couple of deaths. And I think that things are moving forward resolutely. I think the state and the federal and the local governments are working really well together.

The president is doing what he should do. And he is standing out, standing by, and getting involved when he needs to. If that means he can't talk or think about anything else, I'm sorry, you're going to be disappointed every time.

TAPPER: Just for the record, our first piece in the show was an interview with a reporter in Houston.

CAPUTO: Understood. Understood.

TAPPER: And then we did an interview with Brock Long who's with FEMA and then we did with the Governor Abbott. Mary Katharine?

HAM: Well, I think the president actually -- it was a rare moment today when the president tweeted something good about how -- whether he was going to travel there and he didn't want to disrupt anybody.

CAPUTO. Yes.

HAM: And I liked a Donald Trump tweet which does not happen very often.

TAPPER: You actually clicked like? You actually clicked like?

HAM: I did. So I will commend him for at times doing that. But yes, like, Sheriff Clarke's book could wait a week. (CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO: It's a new day. You know?

NAVARRO: This is Trump being Trump. This is the consistency. When he should be focused at the issue at hand, he throws out shiny objects. When he's got chances to unite, he chooses to divide. When he's got chances to heal, he chooses to hurt. We've seen him do it this week, the last two weeks with the Jewish community, with the African-American community, with the transgender community, with the Latino community. We don't know now what's going to happen with those Dream Act kids.

He is, you know, obviously on a rampage now, Arpaio, the wall, the Dream Act kids. God help those kids. I hope that the people in Congress finally get off their duff and pass legislation to help those kids because those children are the best of America, those young people are the best of America. They are Americans in all ways but one. And it is up to Congress not to allow this to be at the whim of this very sui generis.

HAM: Well, back when he was a Democrat, he was doing photo-ops with Dream kids.

TAPPER: Is that right?

HAM: Yes, at his office.

TAPPER: I want to change the subject for a second, which is about President Trump's fighting with fellow Republicans, with Mitch McConnell, with Paul Ryan, with Jeff Flake, with Bob Corker. Is this strategy here, do you think, if there is a strategy, to distance himself from an unpopular Republican Congress? Or is it more just they -- these people are not my friends and so I'm going to attack them?

CAPUTO: I think it's a little bit of both actually. You know, there are very few -- you know, like the media regarded much lower than the presidency, the Congress is regarded much lower than the presidency by the public. I think he sees that, he understands that, but also, there are a lot of Republicans like myself.

[13:20:03] I've been in the party working in elections for 30 years. I think it's time for Donald Trump to take a senator out. I really do. I think it's time -- and look, he's got Corey Lewandowski at the head of his PAC. And I think I've had run-ins with Corey Lewandowski. If I were John McCain, I wouldn't want him on my back side. It's time for the president to make sure people -- senators understand that there's something -- there's a price to pay when you go against him.

TAPPER: So you want him to take out Jeff Flake?

GRANHOLM: Believe me, John McCain has faced tougher foes than Corey Lewandowski.

TAPPER: Jeff Flake -- Jeff Flake is the one you think -- CAPUTO: I'm not quite sure who it is. I know Corey and the PAC are

thinking about this. I know the White House is thinking about this. There is no price to pay if you are against this president. We expected him to get some respect and command respect from the Congress. It hasn't happened. So it's time to make someone pay a price.

GRANHOLM: This is the strategy here. This is what Roger Stone has been calling for, have a scalp. So --

CAPUTO: I didn't expect it to blow you away.

GRANHOLM: Well, what does this mean? What does this mean? It means that if he doesn't get the wall, then he's going to be able to blame someone else. If he doesn't get infrastructure, he'll be able to blame someone else. If he doesn't get tax reform, he'll be able to blame someone else. He can blame it on Congress because of all things he can't be seen as a failure. So he is going to shift the blame.

But what happens if Mueller does decide to recommend impeachment or some kind of charges to Congress? What happens then? He will have alienated this entire body. It is a terrible strategy. Not that I --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Frankly, I hope he continues doing it. Because I hope it gives the Republicans in Congress the ability to grow up --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: And to stand up for what they believe, not for what Donald Trump believes.

CAPUTO: That's the president --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: You have spoken a lot. I think that the -- you know, the Republicans in Congress need to figure out.

CAPUTO: You interrupted me out.

NAVARRO: You know, that this guy doesn't have their back. Their duty is to this country, is to their voters.

GRANHOLM: Right. Right.

NAVARRO: It is not to this president who will throw them under a train, who will campaign against them, who will advertise against them, who will tweet against them, who will do everything he has to against them, which is a heck of an attitude to have when all you have is a two-seat majority in the Senate.

CAPUTO: The governor has a really good point. And that is, the president now has a unique opportunity that doesn't exist in the legal world. And that is to work as jury. Now I believe that he has to enforce his views and put somebody under the microscope who has been opposed to him over and over again. But at the same time, these people in House and in the Senate are his jury, if, in fact, this moves toward some kind of crazy, ridiculous impeachment. And they need to go on a charm offensive here.

The president, if you know him, if you know him for years, you understand that when he sits down with you in his office, he can be very charming. And it's time for him to start looking at the people and talking to them in the Congress just in case this thing gets too crazy. And this is a unique opportunity. You can't work the jury in this world.

TAPPER: That's interesting.

HAM: It's literally self-defeating for the president and for the party that he is supposed to be part of. And I think it illustrates a pattern of his, which is to not understand what the person on the other side of the table might need. He just comes to the table -- I know he's supposed to be the great deal maker. Comes to the table and say, this is what I need, so take a hike or give me what I want. And there are Republican senators who have different needs from their constituents and different things they're dealing with than his mere demands.

GRANHOLM: He just doesn't care, right?

HAM: And he's --

CAPUTO: That's not true.

GRANHOLM: He doesn't care about them.

CAPUTO: That is not true.

GRANHOLM: He doesn't care about people.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: I think you're --

GRANHOLM: He cares about one thing, and that's himself. He doesn't care about the forgotten American. He cares about himself.

CAPUTO: That's not true. See, every time you say something like that, every time you ridicule the president or popular culture, they ridicule him, you move Trump supporters closer and closer to him.

HAM: That's true.

CAPUTO: And you're not doing yourself or the party any favors.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: If Trump supporters move any closer to him, they'd become him.

GRANHOLM: He has not produced for them. He has not gotten Congress to do NAFTA reform.

CAPUTO: All right. All right, listen. I understand. But we also have --

GRANHOLM: He doesn't produce for them is what I'm saying.

CAPUTO: Why did the Senate not go out and sign (INAUDIBLE)? Why didn't they -- so that the president couldn't get through appointments to important positions? Who's in charge of the Senate? The Republicans. Why did that happen? They're not working with Donald Trump. Why should he work with them?

NAVARRO: You know what? That didn't happen because they were afraid he was going to somehow (INAUDIBLE) it to get rid of Bob Mueller.

TAPPER: So --

NAVARRO: And they knew they were going to have a disaster in their hands as Republicans. And Republicans -- here's the thing. You're either with Trump or you're not a Republican if you're in the party.

CAPUTO: That's not true.

NAVARRO: You know, I mean, people think that John McCain is not fit to be a Republican. The guy who was our nominee and who's a national hero. Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Sessions, I mean, you can go on and on. It would be nice if one day maybe he attacked Putin instead of attacking a Republican.

TAPPER: So earlier today, Secretary of State Tillerson was asked if President Trump's behavior and comments make it tougher to sell American values around the world. And Tillerson's response was the president speaks for himself, which is an interesting comment for a secretary of state to make about a U.S. president.

HAM: He makes it tough to ally with him, if you are not a supporter. He does the charm offensive for his core supporters. He does not do it for the guys on the Hill.

CAPUTO: It's time he does.

HAM: And I think it would actually help. I don't know that he's willing to do that.

[13:25:05] TAPPER: All right. Great panel. Thank you one and all for being here. We really appreciate it.

A lot of heavy news this morning. On a lighter note, do you want to live like a president? Well, now you can. We'll have the details in this week's "State of the Cartoonion" coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: A little breather for you here on STATE OF THE UNION. It might not be as prestigious as the White House or as extravagant as Trump Tower, but now you can have the unique opportunity to live like President Trump. It's a subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Looking for a summer getaway?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't go too much with vacations because I'm bored.

TAPPER: How about renting his childhood home in Queens?

TRUMP: I love queens. I grew up in Queens.

TAPPER: For a cool $725 per night, you can stay in the house where the president was born.

TRUMP: I hate to admit it. 1946, oh, wow. That's when I was born.

TAPPER: According to the listing on Airbnb, the property has opulent furnishings to represent the style and affluence of the Trumps.

TRUMP: Great taste. Great taste.

TAPPER: They added a sign at the bedroom in which the president was, quote, "likely conceived." The house fits 20 people and has a simple decor. Pictures of the Trump family throughout.

TRUMP: By the way, I love the pictures.

TAPPER: Including a life-sized cutout of the president in the living room which the listing says is, quote, "a great companion for watching the news late into the night."

TRUMP: The largest audience in the history of cable television.

TAPPER: And yes, of course, cable is included.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. CNN's coverage of the affects of Harvey continues next. Thanks for watching.

[13:30:00] TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. CNN's coverage of the effects of Harvey continues next. Thanks for watching.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thanks for being with us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with this breaking news. Tropical Storm Harvey has Donald trumped 24 inches of rain in 24 hours on Houston, Texas, and thousands of people remain trapped by floodwaters. There are two confirmed deaths in that state but other reports say there have been five deaths. A flash flood emergency has been extended for at least another hour

and more than 1,000 people have been rescued from the rising water. Some are desperately fleeing their homes in boats and by foot, some narrowly escaping in chest-high water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I help you carry this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma'am. We're about under maybe five feet of water in our home. And so we called for rescue about 3:30. They just now was able to get here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They're telling us they need help. They need people that are experienced with boats. They need boats out here.

How fast did the water come up? Tell us what happened at your house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It came up quick. We didn't have a chance to react because by the time you knew it the cars were already underwater. That quick. So we couldn't even get out.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: As you can tell, the rain is coming back down. It's starting to rain more here in east Houston. So you can just imagine what is going through these families' minds. I mean, all of their belongings are already destroyed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Extraordinary images there and then at any moment from this location, Austin, Texas, we expect to hear from the Texas Governor Greg Abbott to give the latest update on rescue and response to what was once Hurricane Harvey now Tropical Storm Harvey, still wreaking havoc on many parts of Texas.

The head of FEMA says the flooding is so severe and wide spread the agency is already bracing to be there long term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: FEMA is going to be there for years. This disaster recovery -- this disaster is going to be a landmark event. And we're already in the stages while we're focused on response right now and helping Texas, you know, respond we're already pushing forward recovery housing teams. We're already pushing forward forces to be on the ground to implement National Flood Insurance Program policies as well, and doing the inspections that we need. So we're setting up and gearing up for the next couple of years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The administrator there.

So let's begin our coverage in Houston, where catastrophic flooding has paralyzed the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country.

CNN's Rosa Flores is there. So, Rosa, what are you seeing besides that rising water?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the story here in Houston are rescues, submerged vehicles and streets and bayous that have turned into streams and raging rivers. Take a look around me. I am walking in downtown Houston, and you can see that I am surrounded by water.

I want to start on this street over here because you can see there's a submerged vehicle. We talked to police about this, Fred. They said they rescued the individual who was in that track. And as we pan over, take a look at the Harris County courthouse. Probably within the hour there were about five to 10 people rescued from inside that building.

One of those gentlemen that I talked to said that the water started rising very quickly. They began to be evacuated. One of them had a sick toe so he wrapped his foot in a plastic bag and first responders literally carried him above these waters to make sure that he could be lifted to safety.

Take a look over here. You see more submerged vehicles as we see these rising waters continue to grow. A manhole over there that looks like it's still erupting with waters. And you see first responders beyond there.

Moments ago, we saw -- and I believe we have this video, a high water vehicle. It's just surreal to see high water vehicles in downtown Houston. Of course these are out here. These are resources that were sent to Houston to make sure that they rescue people wherever that is needed. And you know, many people thought that it wasn't going to get to this. That it wasn't going to be this flooded in downtown Houston, but indeed it is. And you can see that police vehicles over here have barricaded certain streets.

Fred, it really feels like we're on an island here in downtown Houston. There are a lot of areas where we can't go to because the streets are shut down. From talking to the fire department, they say that they received at least 2600 calls since overnight. They of course have been working around the clock as we saw daybreak today.

[13:35:03] We began to see the monumental flooding that Houston is experiencing and as you mentioned it's still not over. You can see it's still sprinkling and we're expecting more rain -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Rosa Flores, we'll check with you there in downtown Houston. And downtown Houston used to be primarily a commercial business territory but now there are a lot of residents, as a result of, you know, renovations that have taken place downtown so it will be curious to see a little bit later how the people who are living downtown in that high water are able to either get rescued or get out and about to get food and other essentials.

All right. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Galveston far south, east of Houston, where evacuations are underway right now.

So, Ed, give us an idea how conditions deteriorated there overnight as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me -- Fredricka, we're about 20 miles north of Galveston. Galveston Island, it's almost actually holding up pretty well. We're trying to make our way into Houston.

Now we are standing on Interstate 45. As incredible as this might be to hear, this is the Interstate. If you look up this way, that takes you straight into downtown Houston. It is completely shut down at this point and we've been here through several hours here this morning and it is just an endless cavalry of people showing up with boats, deploying their own boats into these floodwaters to help rescue people.

Kind of give you a sense here of just how quickly the floodwaters have come up throughout the night. Just beyond this tree line there is a bayou that runs through here that is really the source of a lot of the problems, we're told, for this area. So this has been just an actual -- an easy little snapshot here of just how many boats we've seen, buses pulling people out, people deploying their own boats into these neighbors to try to rescue as many people as they can.

We spoke a little while ago with a -- a man by the name of Gilbert Rubio who had just come out with his mother or mother-in-law from a mobile home park where he told me -- you listen to a little bit of this conversation. They walked through chest-high water to get out of this neighborhood just a little while ago. Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILBERT RUBIO, EVACUATED FROM FLOODED TRAILER PARK: It's really bad back there. It's really, really flooded. Thank God that there's nice people out there that's helping. You know, they're bringing people up here to the front.

LAVANDERA: Right.

RUBIO: Because you really can't drive back there.

LAVANDERA: You know, are there a lot of people still trapped back there that need help?

RUBIO: Yes. A lot of people.

LAVANDERA: Can you say how many roughly?

RUBIO: I don't know. Maybe like a thousand?

LAVANDERA: Really?

RUBIO: Yes. You've got to have a boat. If you're going back there you've got to have boats or a big truck.

LAVANDERA: Are you worried about those people whether or not they were able to get out?

RUBIO: Yes, my neighbors -- I live in a trailer park and the whole park is flooded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: And Fredricka, just to be clear, this isn't just some small little road. A back road of some small, little town. This is Interstate 45 headed northbound into Houston. The rain has been torrentially falling here. We're underneath an underpass watching people deploy. This has essentially become like a beachhead where people have been deploying their boats.

We just spoke with these two gentlemen here. You might see putting the white and red boat into the water just off of the shoulder of the road. He said that those two guys are actually going out to help some friends who are in an apartment complex, that he told us, where they said that the water level is now reaching the second level of that apartment complex. So they're trying to get in there and navigate their way to that apartment complex to help their friends out.

So it is incredibly eerie, just a little while ago we saw a Coast Guard chopper flying over the scene, surveying. There's a series of communities around here that are just devastated. Many quickly flooding under water. We've got a chance to speak with several people. Some people who had evacuated a low-lying area, thinking it was going to flood in the area that they had evacuated to was now under three or four feet of water already. And the fear here is this water is just going to keep going up.

You can see how intensely it is still raining here this afternoon, Fredricka, as the visibility is really cut down by the rain showers along the interstate. But this has become kind of -- we're on the south edge of Houston, the south edge of Harris County in Houston where we have seen buses -- school buses being used to move people out away from this area to shelters. A lot of that operation people just kind of making do what they can in trying to help out.

People showing up with their own cars, big pickup trucks to help move as many people as possible out of some of -- out of some of these areas. So an incredibly captivating scene here this afternoon. And Fredricka, as many people just jumping into action and trying to help out where they can.

WHITFIELD: And so, Ed, just as the gentleman just described to you, he said as far as he knew there were probably about 1,000 people in the area where he lived who were still in high water. The only way to get to them is by way of boats. The weather is horrible and we know that, you know, local authorities are trying to get to people by boat, by chopper, et cetera.

[13:40:08] But because of the conditions, how much more complicated does it make it for first responders to get to people like the man just described?

LAVANDERA: Well, I would imagine at this point, you know, first responders have to be incredibly overwhelmed. There probably just isn't enough first responders to meet all of the demand and all of the people that need help.

Look, this is a little bit of a staging area here just on the other side of -- on the service road here of the interstate. You can see all of the different trailers, people with these, you know, pontoon boats showing up that have low clearance through some of these floodwaters. These are good boats to kind of navigate.

The problem is that, you're loading up with these boats with a lot of people and so they sink down into the water rather quickly, and that can also become a dangerous situations because some of the current in these floodwaters starts getting really strong.

Just over -- see, if I go back over this way, as we look here north on Interstate 45, you can see the emergency lights there at the top of the next overpass, and after that we're told that the water just completely takes over the Interstate. That's why we can't go any further north from where we are. So they're busy trying to get people out of all these various communities that extend beyond the tree lines over here on the west side of the interstate.

And if you look back toward the east side of the interstate, every once in a while another fleet of boats coming pouring with a dozen people and they go back in and start bringing more people back out. So that is the scene here this afternoon. And it's a little bit of everything. You see a number of first responders hire on the ground but by and large what you see mostly are people just in their own, you know, private boats showing up to offer whatever help they can at this point.

WHITFIELD: A lot of Good Samaritans. Right. And, you know, it is potentially dangerous on so many levels because we're talking about Good Samaritans, first responders working together using their boats, et cetera. They're going through water ways that are not ordinarily water ways. So there are fences sometimes, posts, that may be protruding that are underneath that new high water. So it makes it very delicate and very potentially dangerous.

Ed Lavandera, we'll check back with you. Extraordinary images right here. As you see these airboats and pontoons, as Ed was describing, also being used to help lift people from areas where the water has just gotten so high so fast with upwards between five and 20 inches of rainfall in the last 24 hours.

Extraordinary, and Good Samaritans are helping out first responders to try to get to people in need. And you see the variations of ages. We're seeing young people, you're seeing elderly people, you're seeing people who have their pets there, like in this case right here.

Let's check in with Nick Valencia in Rockport where yesterday, Nick, officials have been saying that this was, you know, one of the hardest hit areas. And now we're hearing officials say, this, quote-unquote, "area is totally void of any functioning infrastructure."

So what does that mean for people who did ride out the storm there in Rockport? Are we saying there is no safe place for them to be in right now?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's talk of entirely shutting down this town, Fredricka. We just came from a press conference a short time ago held by one of the agencies that's helping out local officials here. They received help from all across the United States, places as far away as Missouri and Ohio.

But the story today is the search and rescue operations. It was earlier this morning that we came across the Texas state task force who were doing search and rescue here in City Center. They were making their second pass and they told us the majority of their rescues were for family pets that were left behind during evacuations. People that tried to get out of the town before the storm hit on Friday night.

The good news in all of this is that there are no reports of people missing. I mentioned that press conference earlier. That local official told me that there are no reports of people missing and they anticipate that and they are optimistic that there's so far only one casualty. And they think that that's how it will stay.

There's a tremendous amount of optimism here among the people of Rockport. We've had the pleasure of meeting so many residents here in our last couple of days here. We talked to the owner of this jewelry store yesterday, Ruben Saizon (ph), who despite not having insurance, says that he plans on rebuilding and rising from the rubble like a phoenix, he says.

We talked to another business owner who came back and even though had just started leasing one of their businesses that is now ruined said that they were going to be OK. And it was earlier today that we just one of the most tender moments that we've seen throughout our coverage here of Hurricane Harvey. It was a family that have come back to see their business, a mattress store that had just been leveled by this 120, 130-mile-per-hour winds as they came through here.

And their first order of business going inside, beside removing the sandbags, was to put up the Texas flag. And we talked to that owner and he said, I want to at least give a symbol of hope to these people, to this community here.

[13:45:07] We are here, we are strong, and we are going to come back from this and bounce back. There's a lot of cleanup left. You can see behind me how much cleanup there is left to do. I mentioned that there is talk of shutting down this town entirely. Evacuating the 200 or so people that we understand are still in a shelter in Rockport and moving them somewhere else. The National Guard has just shown up, as have agencies from neighboring counties and all across the state -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Folks hitting -- being hit really hard there. I remember talking to the Mayor (INAUDIBLE) yesterday who really described, you know, very poetically what a beautiful community Rockport is right there on the coast.

VALENCIA: Yes. WHITFIELD: It's a fishing community. It's an art community. And I

think so many people are still inspired by the gentleman Rubin that you spoke with yesterday, who was still with a smile on his face, even though he lost his entire business but is determined to rebuild.

Nick Valencia, we're going to check back with you there from Rockport, Texas. And good news, based on the information we're getting thus far no reports of any people missing.

Again live images right now out of Houston. The fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States. And roads and small streets have been turned into lakes, creeks, like rivers. You see people with boats, first responders and Good Samaritans also getting out, any kind of flotation devices and apparatus that they have to help get to people who are trapped in their buildings.

In fact, Houston authorities telling people, if they were able to receive, you know, reports, that if they believe there is high water coming their way not to go into their attics, but instead go on to their rooftops.

More rescues are expected throughout the day because more rain is expected to hit this area for a period of days. So these fast-rising floodwaters in Houston indeed despite all of the reports from meteorologists and weathercasters, the national level and locally it did catch a lot of people by surprise nonetheless. And despite the devastation, many are trying to help their neighbors.

Here are some of the stories.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you all going back inside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there's still elderly people out there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's still elderly -- do you know them? Are you just neighbors?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're neighbors. Actually I lost everything. My whole building is -- I lost everything. There's a whole building completely submerged in water and there's still elderly people so we're about to go get the rest of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's your name, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Daniel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What makes you go in there and help people even in this dangerous situation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to help out. I feel like, if I was in danger, I would want somebody to help me, so I'm going to go help people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you for your time and thank you for your efforts. Thank you so much.

I do want to note that more people are going into this neighborhood. I just talked to Daniel, and he's the one with one of the floaties there. And he's headed back in that direction he said to help neighbors. But Junior just a few minutes ago told us that he went to sleep and then he woke up to go to the bathroom and then he realized there was water in his apartment.

I'm back with Junior now. Tell us, what was going on when you went to sleep? What time did you go to sleep?

JUNIOR, FLOOD VICTIM: Like 9:00, 9:30. Because I have my back problem. 9:30. So I took my medication, I went -- fell asleep. You know, medication put you to sleep heavy. Had to use the bathroom. I woke up. I thought I was dreaming, like I feel I thought I was dreaming. I really wasn't. It's real life.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So when you went to sleep was it raining really hard outside? Was there any flooding? JUNIOR: It was raining. It was just raining. I heard it raining,

but I didn't look out the window or the door, because I was tired and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So it was just raining. Had it been raining all day?

JUNIOR: Yes. On and off, yes. When I woke up, it was like this. Like -- man. I lost everything. My vehicle, my apartment, furniture and everything. I don't know what I'm going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Junior, I'm so sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Heartbreaking losses many times over there in Houston. People losing their homes, they're losing their livelihoods, their vehicles. And some are able to escape their homes because of rising water with nothing but the clothes on their back. Perhaps some even clutching their pets, others clutching each other. We're seeing Good Samaritans, first responders who are trying to get to so many people who are trapped because of the high waters in and around Houston. They're getting to them.

And you see that shot right there. Even the helicopters are in the air trying to pluck people off rooftops and in precariously dangerous situations. And people using their boats, their jet skis, we've seem images of folks using their jet skis and of course just like right here you're seeing people who are just walking in knee deep, waist and chest-high water.

[13:50:05] Let's check back again with our Rosa Flores there in downtown Houston, which really has become a very vibrant residential community in addition to business and government there, Rosa. So we're seeing images of people in and around Houston who are trapped -- they've been trapped in their vehicles and rescued in that manner. But for folks who are downtown what has been the experience for many who either live or work downtown?

FLORES: Here downtown, the downtown area, has just been pummeled with water, Fred. And the latest that we're getting right now actually from first responders and Harris County Judge Ed Emmitt is that the Ben Taub Hospital is being evacuated because of these rising waters in to the basement. So it disrupted the power source and they're moving patients right now, and, of course, they always move the patients that are the most -- in the most critical conditions first, and so that's what they're doing right now.

They're evacuating the Ben Taub Hospital here in downtown Houston and sending those patients to other areas. Of course, starting with the most critical patients and then moving on to all of the patients. But take a look around me and you'll see exactly why that is happening. The water continues to rise here. You can see that a car is submerged on this street. The woman that was in that car was rescued by police, and you see some curious onlookers still walking around, taking pictures.

We've seen many of them. And of course, first responders recommending that people not do that. That people stay home. We've also seen people go through the rising water in their vehicles, which is not recommended, but we're still seeing it today. We've also seen first responders in high-water rescue vehicles through downtown Houston which is a surreal image, Fred, when you think about the fourth largest city in this country and you see high-water vehicles, because those are the vehicles that are needed by first responders in these conditions because of the rising waters.

Now beyond that car, what you see is that bridge -- that bridge goes over Buffalo Bayou which right now is a raging river emptying towards the Gulf of Mexico. And these bayous are supposed to work to drain the city. It's supposed to drain. And we're getting pummeled here one more time and we've seen these bands, Fred, over and over. They just come and go. And that's the big worry, that -- you see how the streets are already saturated. They're overflowed.

The bayous are running like streams and raging rivers and we're still getting pummeled. And so the big worry here is when is this going to stop so that the bayous can do their jobs so that they can actually drain this water and empty out into the Gulf of Mexico -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: My goodness. And, you know, Rosa, you are getting hit again with more bands of -- you know, another band of rain. We're going to check in with our meteorologist Tom Sater because we know that rain is in the forecast for another few days there, Tom. And then, you know, as Rosa was describing, all these rescue efforts underway, an evacuation of a nearby hospital. But here's another big problem.

So many roads are so impassable that emergency assets can't even get through to try to get to people and even that evacuation is going to be difficult to get many of those people to another health care facility. So how long before there is some relief from all of these bands of rain?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The picture is not good. It looks gloomy. And I got to tell you this, the computer models even last Thursday were hinting at this stalling out. And we've been looking at the tracks and talking about how long could this storm stay in the state of Texas. Even today, three days later, the models are still hinting that it will be in the state of Texas on Friday.

So let's break it down. The infrared satellite images showing the bright colors of red and purple here that a lot of the higher and colder cloud tops sliding into Louisiana. But even last night, Chad Myers, who was on the air, was saying to the residents of Houston if you're going to get up in the morning go to church, be prepared. A feeder band down south of Bay City was going to slide in and drop 8, 10 and 13.

It seems incomprehensible but it happened. This is going to continue for a while. Now if you look at the feeder bands, just when you think they're going to end, the system continues to fire up more rainfall and bring it in from the Gulf. The center of Harvey here has only moved 60 miles in the last 36 hours. And if you break it down even more than that, think about the resources. We're going to have to spread these out across a good chunk of eastern Texas because I'll show you the total in a minute.

But even the national weather service out of Houston has been extremely busy. These are all tornado warnings. They have issued 99 tornado warnings since the storm first moved in. So the watch is still in place. We've got that in effect. But if we break down, this is the forecast now. Most of the precipitation to the northeastern flank, and that make sense because you're getting that flow in coming in from the Gulf.

[13:55:08] But what were happening -- what's happening the reason that we still have Harvey as a tropical storm is that it's feeding on the water it has already dropped on land. It's called the brown ocean effect. Usually these storms, first they feed on the warm waters when they're over water. But it's dropped so much rain in Texas it's actually using that as energy. So as the rain bans move in, they're still moving into Galveston, Houston, maybe a little more even toward the east, that gets into Lake Charles, too.

But with the spin, it's still now making its way slowly toward the coast, here's the next concern. And the computer models hinted at this just the other day. It moves almost back to where it made landfall and then slides offshore. Stays a tropical storm status. Many times by now this would have been a tropical depression or even the remnants of. But even with that said, it doesn't matter in this case. This is a different type of storm. It's got its own care. It's because it's so close to a water, it's dropped so much and it stalled.

Now that it moves over water, it's like taking an engine starter and spraying in an old lawn mower that won't crank it. You ever tried to do that? You give it a good crank it feeds on those warm water. So it will sustain its strength. And where does it go in the next 120 hours? Back over the Houston area. So this is a big concern.

By Friday, this is where it is. So we're only on Sunday. When you look at the numbers that are over, you know, two feet plus, what's interesting about this is each one of these areas is from a different county. So the resources now needed are going to have to be really spread. We talked about it last week. The emergency services are going to be hard pressed to keep up with everything. Even last Thursday my fear was thousands of 911 calls, and we're not even half way done with this system.

This is how much has fallen. Just to the east of Austin and Purple, plus 10 inches. And you'll see a little smattering of 20 plus. Now it's even east of Houston. That is what has fallen. Let's add that to the forecast going forward. For the next 48 hours, look at the area of white. That's another 20-plus inches in Houston metro area eastward, and now it shifts more to the east. Coastal areas of Louisiana, which is 20-plus.

That doesn't even take into account all of the area of purple, which is 10 inches plus. And it's really hard to fathom that they could double the amount of rainfall or possibly come close to what has already fallen. The number of rivers now that are up are 53, that are in major flood stage. And it's going to take weeks. This extremely flat area. Doesn't want to just flow quickly back into the gulf especially with those bands moving in of course from the south.

Kind of wants to keep that water at bay inland. But because it's so flat, it just fans itself out. We're going to have an issue with stagnant water but first we're just worried about what's coming down. And that is a big, big problem with this system. Still feeding on the rain it has already dropped. And now making its way toward the coastline back over water in the next -- well, by tomorrow afternoon -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Boy, there are so many problems that result from all of this. I mean, already thus far something like up to, what, 20 inches of rain that has fallen and up to another 20 more inches before Friday.

SATER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And even when waters recede, sometimes what it takes with it are portions of roadways.

SATER: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: And so while you make think they're going to be, you know, passable once the water dissipates, not always the case. It sometimes takes some of these roadways and pieces of highway along with it. So it's a very difficult task for so many there trying to get to those in need and many people just trying to get to another location for safety.

Tom Sater, thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

So I want to bring in retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russell Honore. He commanded the military response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. He knows so much about this, particular response to when the problem continues to build.

And so, General, when you look at these images, can you help but start thinking about Katrina?

LT. GEN. RUSSELL HONORE, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: Absolutely. And this is much larger scale than Katrina as far as the amount of population involved, Fred. There's a big difference, and the continuous rain. Katrina came in the night. And by the next afternoon it was in another state. This storm is staying around and it's continuing to compound with the amount of rain and it's overflowing the rivers.

And the reality of it, most of Interstate 10 in the Houston area going south is a flood zone, and normally it's not a problem. But when we get a 500-year event like this, we see the downside of where we live and most of the time it's OK, but this flood is over matching the ability of the -- ability to get everybody rescued on time and this is going to get worse --

WHITFIELD: It does.

HONORE: -- before it gets better. We need to evacuate tomorrow, Fred.

WHITFIELD: It is -- it is eerily reminiscent of some of the images that we recall seeing, what, 12 years ago this month in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina.