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Movement of Hurricane Irma; Miami Beach orders Evacuations; Florida Gas Concerns; Storm Chaser Talks about Landfall; Lines form for Sandbags in Florida; Trump's Deal with Democrats; Trump And Kuwaiti Emir News Conference. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 7, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Was the president in recrafting a statement that had already been written. And, you know, their -- that Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said, well, he weighed in on that statement. So what does -- you know, what does that mean? And so I think they're -- they're going to go on for hours and hours because they really need to peel this onion.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I want to just alert our viewers at the top of the hour right now. We're standing by for the president's joint news conference with the visiting emir of Kuwait. There will be questions on a wide range of issues. We're told both the president and the emir will make an opening statement and then answer reporters' questions. We'll have full coverage of that coming up.

We're also standing by for a new forecast on Hurricane Irma, which is directly moving towards the United States right now. One of the most powerful storms, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever, ever in the Atlantic. We'll stand by for that as well.

Jacqui Jeras, by the way, is joining us, our meteorologist.

Jacqui, update us on the latest information we're getting bout this monstrous storm.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this is a powerhouse storm for sure, Wolf, The winds still very strong at 175 miles per hour and it's now starting to close in on the Turks and Caicos and they're beginning to feel those impacts. This storm is still about 750 miles away from Miami. So we still have time to prepare, but we do need to be prepared for the worst.

If you're just joining us in the last hour or so, new hurricane watches have been issued for southern Florida, as well as The Keys. In addition to this, a storm surge watch has been pushed into effect. That's that water that gets pushed up by the strong winds and can inundate the coastline with feet of water.

So this is the big area that we're talking about, Bonita Springs, over towards West Palm Beach, and everybody south of there. We know evacuations have already been issued, and for good reason.

Here's a look at that surge that I was talking about. It could be as much as five to 10 feet of high water. But this isn't just a surge storm. This is also a very strong wind storm. And it could be very catastrophic for south Florida. Our latest track, high confidence in the next 24 to 48 hours of this moving west northwesterly. But when and where exactly it makes that turn up to the north will make a big difference in the impact.

But either way you slice it, the size of this storm is enormous, that even if it stays off the Florida coast, we do expect life-threatening impacts here throughout the entire state. And then we've got to be watching places like Georgia, as well as the Carolinas, for potential impact or even a second landfall. If it takes this outer line, it could be just the one up toward the Carolinas. So still a bit of uncertainty down the line.

But one thing I want you to notice here, our computer models have been very consistent in this area through the Bahamas of where this storm is going. And the spread goes greater as you head up toward the U.S. But now we're starting to see more clustering of these different computer model forecasts all getting a little bit closer to that Florida coastline.

So let's take a look. This is the European model. A very good model. And this shows you what we're expecting Saturday night into Sunday. This is really the worst case scenario for Miami with the landfall just south of you, which puts you in that right front quadrant of the hurricane where the worst of the winds are and where the worst of the storm surge is.

Now let's take a look. That continues to pull on up toward the north. This storm will move, by the way. It's not going to be like Harvey, that sat there and dumped rain forever and ever.

This is a look at the American model. Notice it's pretty close. However, it doesn't quite make that full landfall, and scrapes the coast a little bit more similar to what Matthew did.

So we're seeing small differences, and we definitely will see different impacts depending on which one of these ends up coming on true.

So, a very powerful storm. A very grave situation as this gets closer and closer to the U.S. coastline.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Why do the American model -- why does the American model differ from the European model? Do we know?

JERAS: Well, we put different data in it and the resolution is a little bit different. So it's kind of a different mathematical equation, so to speak. So what you put into it certainly will affect what you get out of it. The European has done a better job as of late and certainly did with Harvey predicting this storm. But we've seen the two models be actually really pretty close together now for about the past day or two. BLITZER: Yes, that European model is precise and accurate. The

millions of people, 3 million people alone in Miami-Dade County, millions more in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, millions more in Palm Beach County. This could be a, you say a worst case scenario, a nightmare for those people and that's why there are so many mandatory evacuations underway right now.

All right, Jackie, we're going to get back to you.

I want to go to Miami Beach right now. CNN's Rosa Flores is on the scene for us.

So we heard from the mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine, a little while ago, Rosa, that basically the whole Miami Beach area has been told, get out, evacuate, this is a danger zone.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is exactly what that mayor is saying, and that is the sentiment from public officials here. They are asking people to get out.

[14:05:08] Now, here's the good news, Wolf. We are seeing signs that people are heeding that warning. Not only are we seeing long lines at gas stations, but we've learned from Florida Highway Patrol that they are seeing increased traffic heading north.

Now, they have troopers all along that area. They've also seen a lot of displaced vehicles. So, starting today, they're going to be towing those vehicles so that the flow of traffic can continue.

Now, you've heard about fuel shortages. We've learned from the governor of this state that they are unloading 300,000 barrels of fuel in the port of Tampa at this hour. Now, they are also bringing in a fuel tanker from Mississippi, from a refinery in Mississippi. It's headed towards the Port of Tampa. It will have a military escort.

We've also learned that to make sure that these gas stations across this state have employees that run them and also fuel, they are escorting employees to gas stations. They're escorting fuel trucks to gas stations to make sure that while public officials ask people to evacuate, that people can actually get out of this monstrous storm.

Wolf.

BLITZER: How difficult is it, though, to drive out, to get out of there, especially with the shortage of gasoline that is clearly evident?

FLORES: Imagine the stress of having to patch your house with plywood, get your kids and your dog and your cat into your car and only hope that you can get gas that will get you to the next service station. And that's exactly what people are doing and that's what Florida Highway Patrol is also saying because they are not allowing people to fill up gas cans. They are only allowing people to fill up their gas tank and head north. And then hope and pray that they can get to the next gas station, fill up, and then keep on heading north, hopefully to a gracious family member or friend that will take them in. As you know, Wolf, nobody has a little, you know, bag of cash ready to

go just to evacuate just because Irma is coming. So many people can't afford to stay in hotels. They will probably stay with friends and family. And last resort, officials tell us, is head to a shelter. Head to the nearest shelter. You don't have to head too far north in Florida, just to the safest shelter that you can get to.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, what worries me, especially a lot of the retired folks who are down in south Florida right now, the elderly. It's not going to be that easy to get them out, to get them evacuated. I know that all sorts of efforts are underway to help these folks, but that's going to be a serious -- very serious problem.

Rosa, we're going to get back to you shortly.

I want to bring in AccuWeather storm chaser Reed Timmer. He's joining us live from Key Largo right now.

This is an area that presumably is a ghost town right now because for the last couple of days people have been told there, get out.

REED TIMMER, ACCUWEATHER STORM CHASER: Well, right now I can see a steady stream of traffic that are heading out of town right now. The gas stations were largely out of gas yesterday, but then a gas truck came in today and then everybody was waiting in line to fill up with gas. That's going to be their final tank before they head north on I- 95. But they're taking it very seriously across the Florida Keys.

I spoke to several people that were filling up gas and they said that they were packing up everything and they said it's sad and it requires a lot of money to evacuate, but they have to do it because it's very dangerous to stay here. This whole area here is very low.

Right now we are on Cape Largo and this area here will likely be under water if it takes its forecast track because it will get a substantial storm surge off the Gulf of Mexico side as well, on the backside of this hurricane.

BLITZER: Reed, you've witnessed the power of these hurricanes firsthand. You're a storm chaser. That's what you do. So what do you expect to happen in the area where you are, in the Florida Keys, with this enormous disaster that's called Irma right now, the -- by far the most powerful storm on record in the Atlantic?

TIMMER: Yes, if this storm comes anywhere close to shore, this will likely be like no other storm I've ever witnessed as a storm chaser in 20 years of storm chasing. The winds will be stronger than I've ever experienced in a tropical cyclone. That includes Harvey last week on the southeast Texas coast. We were in Rockport for that one. We were measuring those wind speeds with our instrumentation here.

We have a probe here that we normally deploy in the path of tornados. But we deploy that in the eye wall of hurricanes as well. We deployed that in Harvey ratchet-strapped to the top of (INAUDIBLE) and measured a wind gusts in excess of 120 miles an hour. But if this eye wall comes ashore in south Florida, the wind gusts will likely be a lot stronger than that because the water is extremely warm just off shore of south Florida, including the Florida Straits, and people in the Florida Keys, as well, if this storm does go a little bit further west in the forecast track, than it will just be devastating here for The Keys as well.

BLITZER: A lot of our viewers are wondering, Reed, what's your exit strategy? How far are you willing to go to chase this hurricane?

[14:09:59] TIMMER: Yes, that's important. You always want to have an exit strategy when you're chasing these storms. We're prepared, if we do get trapped, we've got enough survival gear to survive for a week or two if we have to. But our exit strategy will be north on Interstate 95. But our plan is to -- if it does take the current forecast track, to head north toward Miami Beach, find an elevated parking garage, set up our instrumentation there. And if the hurricane is too strong, we'll leave, go inland a little bit. But I think our plan is to ride it out on Miami Beach.

We've got Mike here with the H.E.R.V. as well, that's the Hurricane Eyewall Research Vehicle. It's not an anemometer that's up there, way up there, over about 10 feet. And we'll also be parking that at Miami Beach to measure wind speed inside the eyewall and as well as pressure data. So we'll have multiple data points out there as this thing comes ashore, but it's very important, if you're in the path of this thing, to get out, heed those evacuation warnings because this storm is definitely the real deal. It's going to be a deadly storm if it does take its forecast track anywhere close to south Florida.

BLITZER: Reed, I just want to make sure you know that the mayor of Miami Beach, he's already said everything in Miami Beach is now off limits, a full evacuation of Miami Beach. But you're saying that's where you'll be heading if necessary?

TIMMER: Yes, we'll likely deploy our instrumentation there and then get off the island if it is too dangerous, because the last thing you ever want to do as a storm chaser is be the victim of a storm. We're out there to report its conditions as they deteriorate and also collect data inside these storms.

BLITZER: Be careful over there. Reed Timmer, we'll stay in touch with you. Thanks so much for joining us.

I want to go -- quickly go to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's joining us now from Merritt Island in Florida.

People are filling sandbags, I take it, Brynn. What's the latest there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we're in Brevard County, Florida. We just got here. It's a torrential downpour right now. So this whole process is underway in all these rains.

But I want to actually show you, there is just an enormous line of cars that wraps around this area that we're at, which is basically a park, and it goes all the way, about a half a mile, down into the street. I mean it is an enormous line for people trying to get as many sandbags as they possibly can.

You're one of those people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GINGRAS: How long have you been waiting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got here at 8:00 when they opened.

GINGRAS: 8:00 this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we had to wait in line. Well, we didn't get into the park until probably about 9:00.

GINGRAS: So a long time you've been waiting for these sandbags.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GINGRAS: Now we're still trying to find out, how many sandbags can you get and how will that help you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten. They're supposed to be ten 10-pound sandbags. And we have a sliding door right outside of our bedroom. And even in a bad rainstorm like this, the water comes right up to the edge. So we're hoping to put the sandbags along --

GINGRAS: So any bit helps really.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.

GINGRAS: So Brevard County, we know evacuation orders in effect tomorrow. So everyone I've seen boarding up. What sort of precautions are you guys taking?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we live in Rockledge --

GINGRAS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so we're hoping we won't have to evacuate. But if we do, we may end up over in Tampa visiting my husband's relatives with our dog and our 18-year-old cat.

GINGRAS: So you -- you don't sound too excited, but everybody has an evacuation in place. That's good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GINGRAS: Thanks for chatting with us.

Wolf, I want to walk around this way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) be safe.

GINGRAS: All right. You too. We're going to walk around this way quickly because I just want to

show you this process. They're actually using inmates from Brevard County to fill all these sandbags and then lower them into the back of the cars. As you heard that woman say, they're expecting only ten sandbags per car, which is consistent with what we saw in Orange County in Orlando, which is certainly more inland. But you can see all these cars, people coming from different counties, different areas of the state to try to get their hands on anything they can to help with these measures.

And as I mentioned to that woman, Wolf, we saw a number of people who were already boarding up their businesses, their homes as we were traveling into this section right along the coastline. We saw those shutters already closed.

So evacuation orders are in effect tomorrow. There's no school today or tomorrow in this county. They definitely want people out of here and into a safer place, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's pretty amazing, Brynn, that woman's been waiting, what, for six hours to get ten sandbags to protect her home, and that line is so, so very long. I can only imagine what it's like to try to get gasoline where you are.

GINGRAS: Absolutely. You know, we just got into this area, so we weren't able to see many of the gas -- if there's a gas shortage. I imagine there is. When we were actually in Orlando, further inland, there wasn't gas issues, but there was major water issues. There was issues about getting gas cans to fill up for future traveling. We certainly saw some gas stations that were already boarded up. So who knows if that means they ran out of gas and went home. But we're working to find out all that information. But it is certainly preparations underway for the possibility of this storm coming and hitting this direct area.

BLITZER: Yes, people are worried, as they should be, and they have to take these precautions.

Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

[14:14:52] We're standing by. The president of the United States about to hold a joint news conference with a visiting emir of Kuwait. We'll have live coverage of that. No doubt there will be questions about this hurricane and other issues.

Stand by. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Once again, we're standing by momentarily for this joint news conference. The visiting emir of Kuwait will be holding this news conference together with the president of the United States. They will be walking into the East Room. Their senior aides have already been seated. So momentarily they should be coming in, making an opening statement, each of them, then answering reporters' questions. Top of the agenda for both of these men right now, the feud that's been going on between various U.S. allies, including the Emiratis, the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, versus the Qataris right now and the Kuwaitis have been trying to broker some sort of compromise. We'll be hearing about that.

[14:20:05] The stakes are enormous for the region, including for the United States. The U.S. has a major base in Qatar right now. The Kuwaitis have been trying to finesse some sort of deal. So far no success at all. At issue is their relationship with Iran. A serious issue for the Kuwaitis as well as the Bahrainis and the Emiratis and the Saudis.

We'll have much more on that. We'll be hearing a lot about that, I assume, in their opening statements, especially in the questions that will follow.

As we await, let's bring back our panel.

We'll also be getting questions, no doubt, about this hurricane, this monster that's about to hit the United States and all sorts of political developments, including the president's stunning development yesterday when he sided with the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate as opposed to the Republican leadership.

BORGER: Right. And I think, you know, the hurricane is related to that in many ways because it's very clear that the president is kind of fed up and wanted to get this funding, this hurricane funding through, and he did what he thought he had to do to get it done, and he didn't want to have any arguments about it. I mean he just -- he just -- he's been to Texas. He was very affected by it. And he wanted to get the money to the people who need it. And he wasn't about to kind of go ideological with conservatives on this issue. He just wanted to get the hurricane funding out, particularly with Irma waiting in the wings.

BLITZER: He seems to be pretty comfortable working out a deal, the president of the United States, with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, this is what he campaigned on. Washington doesn't know how to work. I'm going to run it like a business. I'm going to get things done. I'm willing to reach across party lines. And we'll see what happens. We'll see how this one plays out. It's interesting today, Wolf. We'll see the results as we go forward.

BLITZER: Yes, here comes the president of the United States, the emir of Kuwait, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. We'll hear from the president first.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

Good afternoon and thank you for all being here.

It's my great honor to welcome his highness, the emir of Kuwait, to the White House.

The United States and Kuwait share a strong and enduring partnership. We recently commenced the 27th day of remembrance of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, which we all remember so well. The United States is proud to have contributed to the liberation of Kuwait and for the friendship we have built together in the years since.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to our shared security interests and recognize Kuwait's critical contributions to regional stability. We also thank Kuwait for its humanitarian leadership and for its partnership in the fight to destroy ISIS.

During my trip to Saudi Arabia, I spoke to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations about the need to confront our shared enemies, murderous terror groups that threaten all civilized people. Every responsible nation must work together to strip these groups of their territory, their financing and the false allure of their evil ideology. I applaud Kuwait for its role in this effort and encourage all nations in the region to do their fair share in defeating those who wage war on the innocent.

Each nation in the region must decide what kind of future they want for their own children, one of violence or one of peace. That also means confronting those such as the Iranian regime who support terror groups and radical militias. Cooperation between America and Kuwait has never been stronger, never, ever. The FBI and the Kuwaiti government are expanding our counterterrorism and intelligence sharing efforts. We're making progress on promoting Kuwaiti investments in the United States. They're making tremendous investments in our country. They have great confidence in our country.

We're also entering a bilateral agreement with Kuwait regarding customs enforcement. During the same period and the same trip to Saudi Arabia, which was my great honor, representing our incredible country, his highness personally asked me to expedite a $5 billion agreement for the sale of American FA-18 super hornet fighting jets for Kuwait. I am pleased to report that the State Department has now authorized this transfer and purchase, which will not only strengthen our mutual security, but will greatly benefit American workers.

[14:25:14] Kuwaiti's investments in America through its sovereign wealth fund are profitable for Kuwaiti people and they create many, many jobs in the American workforce. I am pleased to report this year that Kuwait has taken delivery of ten American-made Boeing 777 airliners. They're beauties. American workers build the best planes in the world, by far, and we want them to be made available for those countries that want them. And Kuwait has been a big buyer of commercial airliners made by Boeing and others.

Our partnership extends beyond shared economic and security interests. We're signing a memorandum to deepen the close educational ties between our two countries, enhancing English language, and that's what we're going to be doing. We're enhancing the whole relationship through the use of the English language. And that is something that's very exciting, I think, for both of us.

I want to thank his highness for his leadership role and the role he's playing to help the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council follow through on their pledges from all over. Because we went to Saudi Arabia and the pledges of ending terrorist financing came from every country in that magnificent room on that magnificent day. And we are addressing the ongoing GCC dispute. And the emir is leading those discussions and hopefully it will resolved very soon.

We call on our GCC and Egyptian allies to focus on our commitments at that Saudi Arabia summit, to continue our joint efforts to drive out and defeat terrorists. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt are all essential U.S. partners in this effort. We have great relationships with all of them right now, maybe better than we've ever had. We will be most successful with a united GCC.

Tomorrow, Secretary of State Tillerson and Foreign Minister al-Sabah will chair the second U.S.-Kuwaiti strategic dialogue. By strengthening communications with allies like Kuwait, we send a strong message to both terrorist organizations and regional aggressors that they cannot win. They will not win. They cannot win against us. And our military is getting stronger and stronger and stronger. And that those who cherish and value human life will always prevail.

I want to thank his highness for joining us here today. The United States values its close friendship with Kuwait and its people. And we look forward to strengthening these bonds even further. Together, we will show the world that the forces of destruction and extremism are no match for the blessings of prosperity and peace.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.

SHEIKH SABAH AL-AHMAD AL-SABAH, EMIR OF KUWAIT (through translator): My dear president, Mr. President, Donald Trump, your excellencies (ph) and highnesses, ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted and my delegation to be here today in Washington this great city in response to the invitation that his excellency, my friend, President Trump, has extended to me.

[14:29:19] I would like at the outset to re-affirm and re-send (ph) once again our condolences to the president and the people, the American people, about the victims of Harvey hurricane that hit Texas. And we are deeply affected by the human losses and the huge destruction in public facilities and property. I pray to God Almighty that he would make this, the coming hurricane that is about to hit Florida, for it to be a harbinger of goodness not evil.