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Death Toll Rises to 8 At Florida Nursing Home; Couple Watched Belongings Wash Away During Irma; Crews Going Door-To-Door Amid Destruction In Hard Hit Florida Keys; Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Agree: Blame Comey

Aired September 13, 2017 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett OutFront starts now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, breaking news, the death toll rising at a Florida nursing home. Patients suffering with no air-conditioning. What happened?

And my guest tonight using his own boat for dozens of rescues. We're going to go live to the town where floodwaters are still chest deep and residents are desperate tonight.

And Ted Cruz, in his first television interview since his Twitter account liked a porn video, answering questions to CNN.

Let's go OutFront.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, death toll rising, eight people now confirmed dead tonight in a Florida nursing home. Eight people who relied on others to survive, dying in the aftermath of Irma.

Suffering in a nursing home that lost power and was excessively hot. One employee from that nursing home which is in Hollywood, Florida, about 20 miles north of Miami, telling CNN the temperature inside was above 100 degrees.

Serious questions tonight about why those residents weren't evacuated days earlier. There is a major critical care hospital directly across the street. Tonight, a criminal investigation is underway and Governor Rick Scott released a statement saying that he will aggressively demand answers.

That tragedy of the most vulnerable coming as millions across Florida are still struggling without power. Many remain stranded in floodwaters. In Bonita Springs which is about 30 miles south of Fort Myers, volunteers are using their own boats to rescue people. And we're going to speak with one of those rescuers in just a couple of moments.

In the Florida Keys, now we know eight have died, 40 at least are injured in Irma's wake as they are going door to door to look for people. This is new video, it's a drone video that you're looking at right now over Big Pine Key, which is really at the center of what was crushed in the Keys, about 10 miles from where Irma made landfall. Virtually, every building there destroyed or damaged.

And one resident saying there is no water, no stores, no electricity and still no cell service.

Our team of reporters is covering the story from Florida across the Caribbean which of course is deeply suffering tonight. We begin with Miguel Marquez, OutFront at that nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.

Miguel, a horrific scene to imagine. The most vulnerable who need the most help, who can do the least for themselves suffering in this heat and dying. What are officials saying about what happened?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've been covering this story all day. You can't think a story like this gets more awful and then it does. It was a house of horrors in that facility, overnight it sounds like.

Three different calls starting at 3 a.m., then 4 a.m., then shortly after 4 a.m. for people going into cardiac arrest, suffering the problems of heat exhaustion and having heat related issues. Authorities just doing a press conference. The more they tell us about what happened there, the more shocking it is.

After the second call, firefighters then called authorities and said look, something is wrong here. That's when they sort of kicked in started looking it at the facility itself, went upstairs to the facility, it's two floors. Went upstairs, found three people dead in their beds there. Here's what one official from the city says about all this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We certainly can't get inside the heads of the staff or the administration of this facility. But I can tell you that our partners at memorial health care that do not own or run this facility jumped right in with the city of Hollywood, fire rescue and the city of Hollywood Police Department to make sure these patients were cared for and to triage these patients and get them to their high quality hospitals all throughout the Broward County metro area and we --


MARQUEZ: But this is really, really complicated. You have a level one, the finest hospital 50 feet away in from this place and nobody, not a staff member, not a doctor, not an administrator raised their hand. One thing they said shocked me beyond belief at this press conference that once they started investigating this facility, they realized that one f the dead had already been sent to the morgue.

The medical examiner in Broward County had that person brought back in order to see if they died from heat exhaustion and they had. It's not clear whether they were just trying to shunt this off as somebody who died of natural causes and get rid of the body literally. Shocking. Erin.

BURNETT: It is just horrible to imagine. When people just can't do anything for themselves and rely on others to care for them, it is horrible.

All right Miguel, thank you very much. As we are following that story, there are neighborhoods completely underwater. Rescues underway and then days after Irma struck.

Alex Marquardt is OutFront, he is sin Bonita Springs, Florida. And Alex, you're actually on your way to Naples, you came across the b neighborhood you're in right now, it is still under water. What are you seeing?

[19:05:01] ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were, Erin and Naples of course was one of the cities hardest hit by Hurricane Irma. We are just north of there, we are on our way there when we saw this incredible flooding here in this neighborhood.

This neighborhood completely flooded as well as many neighborhoods around. You can see the floodwaters stretching back there as far as the eye can see. This is a low lying area. So this was a mandatory evacuation zone. Most of the residents we're told did get out of here.

If you look over here at this house, you can see that they have boarded it up with those big plywood boards. That will work against winds during a hurricane like Irma. That is not going to do anything against floodwaters.

And if you look over here, I was actually just in this house with some of the residents who are coming back in for the first time. They didn't put up boards, but they did put out sandbags, they were expecting some level of flooding. This neighborhood actually flooded about a week ago with heavy rain, but nothing like this.

We walked inside into the living room, the floodwaters had gone over their sandbags, completely flooding a living room, destroying furniture. We walked into the kitchen, the dishwasher, the laundry machine, everything destroyed.

So the residents there grabbing whatever they could, baby clothes, television to take elsewhere. Everyone here has had to seek shelter elsewhere.

As you can see here, we're just up to my knees here in terms of the floodwaters. We went out with a resident earlier into his boat, it goes up much higher to the chest and even higher than that.

We ran into the Gonzales Family. They were back at their home getting whatever they could. Here's what they had to say.


SELENA GONZALES, RESIDENT OF BONITA SPRINGS, FLORIDA: It's really flooded and I mean, it's devastating to see. MARQUARDT: How's the house?

GONZALES: Oh, it's really bad. But we're all OK.

MARQUARDT: Where are you going now?

GONZALES: We live with our sister right now. My sister.

MARQUARDT: You're going to your sister's house. She's dry and does she have power?

GONZALES: Yes, we -- no, we don't have power. But yes, we're all OK.

MARQUARDT: What was your reaction when you came back to the house and saw the whole area flooded?

GONZALES: Oh I was just -- we were all shocked. It was surprising. I mean, to see all these houses just the way it is.


MARQUARDT: We were actually out there in that boat with a gentleman named Jose (ph). He's been going back and forth helping neighbors get whatever they can. You heard there in Selena Gonzales' voice how emotionally distressing this is, how difficult it is. She said that they lost a lot of valuables.

Now, we are hearing a very disturbing story about a trailer park which is not too far away from here. We are told there are lots of residents back there who haven't had any access to the authorities. Many are Mexican immigrants or from Central America, they don't speak English.

No one has been back there. We're told they don't have food or water. They are young people, they are old people, so we're going to check that out. But what is clear is that, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, even though the storm has passed, there's a lot of people who need help. Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Alex. And of course, as you hear again, the most vulnerable people who can't come forward or aren't able to communicate or too ill to communicate. These are the people right now who needs such help.

I want to go straight to Bonita Springs resident, Don Manley who's been helping rescue people there with his own boat. Nearly 30 so far, obviously, you're right with us now Don, in gray shirt and white hat so people are going to see you as you are, as we see some of this video.

I mean, look, you're in the middle of this and I think it's fair to say here, we have not really seen images like this from this storm. And we're hearing now what, up to the chest, even higher in some places, entire neighborhoods, people don't have food, people haven't been able to get in there. What have you been seeing? DON MANLEY, RESIDENT OF BONITA SPRINGS, FLORIDA: I've been seeing exactly the same thing. I just happened by this and I know living in Bonita that that's a low spot, and I happened by and I saw people in need so I had a boat and went back and got it. And I've been taking -- some of houses are very fortunate, they're just above the water line.

But I've taken people who -- when we got out of the boat, it was more than chest deep with them and those are the top ones. And when somebody says I'm going down to this house, and I passed by that house the past few days and I know how the -- how heavy or how deep the water is. It's very difficult to take somebody to a house like that when you know what's going to happen.

BURNETT: And Don, I mean, you've helped about 30 people. You're talking about some at this chest deep water. I mean, how dire have some of these situations been that you have been able to help people out off?

MANLEY: Well, yesterday, I'm actually with someone from CNN, I said that we need to turn the boat off for a second, I thought I heard somebody. And when I turned the motor off, when I whistled, I heard somebody holler back and there was two ladies who were standing in their couch with water chest deep and I have no idea how they got there.

They hadn't ridden the storm out, but they fought their way into their house and we evacuated them and took all of their belongings with them. So, those are the kind of things that we're just seeing and it's -- actually, I went back today and I'm up to about 80 people. I'm not keeping count but I'm just trying to remember all the people I've helped in that area. And there's been a lot of people with me helping.

[19:10:08] BURNETT: Yes, I know there have been and do you know anything about this neighborhood Alex was just speaking about, a trailer park area with a lot of people who may be in the country illegally who desperately need help, don't have food and water. Do you know anything about that?

MANLEY: It breaks my heart because right before, I've been out there all day long and somebody said could you take me to this park and I actually had so many people I was helping there, I said there's a sheriff's boat right down there, go ask them. Because I was helping somebody in the neighborhood I was at, but I know exactly where there's at.

My wife's taken blankets there during other floods. We've actually given furniture to people who live in those trailers and I know exactly where they're at and my heart aches. And I'm a little bit -- I'm at home now, I guess I should be there. I'm a little bit concerned.

BURNETT: As you talk about going back out though, Don, let me just ask you something. You know, you're doing this as a kind soul but you're doing it also at a great risk. I mean, personal risk. I just want people to understand this.

You know, look, after Hurricane Harvey, that water was horrifically contaminated right, chemicals, toxic waste, bacteria, sewage. I mean, that stuff is bad and it can be bad even with the right gear on. How worried are you about the people you're saving and about the risks you are taking yourself?

MANLEY: Did my wife call you right before this interview because that's exactly what she just mentioned to me and I blew it off. And she's very adamant about me taking care of myself because the first thing I did yesterday is cut my finger real deep. And she wanted me to go get a tetanus shot.

So I think my wife must have called and put that question up to you. You know I'll be OK.

BURNETT: Well, she didn't, but I hope you do, do that because those things can be very, very serious. Even a little cut, doesn't need to be a deep wound, Don, so please do take care of yourself as you are helping so many. Thank you so much.

MANLEY: Well, good, and I'm going back out tomorrow and I would suggest anybody who can help, you know, hug your fellow man. That's what we're all about and that's what we're in this storm.

BURNETT: All right, Don, thank you very much. As we said Don Manley, helping people going door to door in that town of Bonita Springs, chest deep and higher in some areas.

As these rescues are taking place in Florida, there is a massive crisis in the Caribbean. Chaos is reigning, the death toll there is growing, now 44 dead. Isa Soares is now live in St. John, she's actually in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the heart of this.

And Isa, I know you're on a rescue boat right now. What are you seeing?

And it looks like we don't have that shot. Look, I just want to be honest with all of you. Even getting transmission with the technology that we have is almost impossible. You just saw it there.

It's the same when you look at St. Martin, you look at other places where we have reporters, we're trying to get them on, they're not able to communicate. It is truly dire there. We're going to try to get that back for you.

In the meantime, we're going to take a brief break and when we come back, stunning new video revealing the devastation in the Keys.

Plus, Miami's Republican mayor says Irma is a poster child for climate change. He wants the president to acknowledge it. The mayor is OutFront.

And we have an update on this missing couple. You may remember them. Last heard from four days ago as Irma was lashing into the Florida Keys. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last thing she said was they were getting ready to go into a small closet underneath the stairs.



[19:17:25] BURNETT: Breaking news, new drone images tonight showing just how widespread the destruction is as residents try to pick up the pieces after Irma in Florida. The home that you're looking at on your screen right now is on its side.

That is in Big Pine Key which was just a couple of miles from where that storm struck. So you're looking really at the center of this. And that is where Kyung Lah is tonight.

And Kyung, you have spent time there, you have talked to a couple who literally watched everything blow away in nearby Marathon. What happens now?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question. They are asking it themselves. What do they do now? How do they even start this clean up and they're not the only ones.

You can see this house right behind me. It looks like the backside of the house was completely sucked away by the ocean. You can even see their fireplace in this particular angle. And so, what these homeowners say is all they can do is just begin the clean up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the hall way coming to our master bedroom and our master bathroom.

LAH (voice-over): We're getting a tour of Byron Goos (ph) and Jessica Cooper's (ph) home after Irma raged through it.

BYRON GOOS, RESIDENT OF MARATHON, FLORIDA: We still have three feet of standing water in here.


LAH (on camera): Your bed?

GOOS: This was our bed.

LAH (voice-over): What is this place?

My armoire, it was in this corner of my master bedroom with all my clothes. We're standing over three feet in the air right now.

LAH (voice-over): Beneath our feet, seaweed, three feet of saltwater and a beach that used to be outside before it burst into the home. The couple rode out the storm in a neighbor's house recording this video as the hurricane slammed against their first floor home.

GOOS: First sign that everything wasn't all right was we started seeing our possessions floating out this door.

LAH (voice-over): Their concrete construction held up, but the windows failed.

(on camera) Wait a second, these were hurricane shutters?

GOOS: Yes, these are hurricane shutters. But there's only two of them left.

LAH (voice-over): The couple lives in Marathon Key, a lower key. Hurricane damage is everywhere you look. It's still closed off for residents to re-enter.

In the upper keys, the clean up is underway. Without power, cell phones and in some cases, water, it's agonizingly slow in the Florida heat, but signs of modern life are returning. U.S. Highway 1 is cleared and open for emergency crews, gas finally coming back to a few stations in Key Largo.

COOPER: I don't know where to start is my problem. I know I need to start somewhere and I don't know where to start.

LAH (voice-over): But for those still waiting for those glimmers of normalcy.

GOOS: We're probably about four and a half feet above what would normally be our patio level.

[19:20:05] These are just regular full sized sliding glass doors that you would walk through that now look like bay windows.

LAH (voice-over): The disaster still remains at their front door.

GOOS: It's the -- absolutely most catastrophic thing I've ever seen. It's the price you pay living in paradise. It's not for the faint of heart.


LAH: This family did not have insurance so they are going to clean all of this up themselves. They say the structure is solid, that they will rebuild. Erin, they say perhaps this time as they rebuild, they'll think about living on the second floor. Erin?

BURNETT: Wow, that's incredible. Just standing there you're seeing the window. I mean, that much sand, four and a half feet of sand and that's just stunning just to actually see that. All right, Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

And you know, when you see that, it comes as officials in the Keys are literally going door to door, right. They're conducting search as you saw that family. They weren't supposed to be here, OK, you supposed to have evacuated. So if you didn't, they are now looking for you door to door.

OutFront now, Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi. And Roman, I talked to you before this struck, you said to be prepared. You were right.

Our emergency teams right now are finding people. I know they are going to door to door. What are they finding?

ROMAN GASTESI, ADMINISTRATOR FOR MONROE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, that's the good news, and thank you for having me. That's the good news that they're not finding people, they're finding what you just reported. That family that you just reported that there's a lot of destruction and some of the houses are in pretty bad shape or they're not existing at all.

I drove down from Key Largo today to Marathon, and some of the houses there were on stilts on the ocean side, the stilts were there on the ocean side, but the house was on the bay side. So it was a big blow, it was a huge storm and, you know, like the gentleman said, that's the price to pay for living in paradise.

BURNETT: You know, according to the updates from the Monroe County Emergency Management which of course, you know, includes the Keys where you are, crews are not entering homes that are shuttered. And I was just trying to understand, could you explain how come?

GASTESI: Well, because if you shutter your home, you normally not in it totally shuttered. That's what we mean. Any activity -- you could tell if somebody was home or not. Usually, they'll have a car in the carport or a garage, they will check the garage.

These guys are pretty clever and they're marking it, they're keeping track of it. We're just trying to get into the homes that have been destroyed with potential people in it and so far, we have not found anybody.

BURNETT: So that, which of course is a blessing. And on that front, do you think everyone is now fully accounted for? I mean, because we still don't have cell service and, you know, power. Is it time to breathe a huge sigh of relief about people who ignored those evacuation orders and stayed. Can we breathe a sigh of relief that they did survive in the Keys?

GASTESI: We are about 90 percent done with the search and rescue, that house by house. There's also the issue of boats. There's some boats that have -- that were more (INAUDIBLE) and broke anchor and they're out in the bay and they're sunk. And I hate to say it but there might be folks in there.

So we need to make sure that those folks got out, too. Right now, it looks great. I'd like to say yes, we're done and now, just continue to clean up, but we're still in the search and rescue mode also.

BURNETT: Ninety percent though, that of course I know it's not a full sigh of relief, but it is good. You know -- I know Roman, you talked about the power. Thirty percent of the power I believe you indicated was restored by one company, but another company, only seven percent when you look at the Keys.

So, where are you on that? Because when that happens, you can really start here on recovery. Are you going to get power soon?

GASTESI: Yes. Well, it's getting better and better. We just reported we just had our meeting right before this call and in the upper keys, it's 41 to 42 percent, and in the lower keys, they're up to 10 percent. So, you know, making little baby steps along the way and that's what it's all about is getting the power restored, getting our water restored, which is also bad.

Not a hundred percentage there, but it is bigger, more. So we're getting there.

BURNETT: All right, Roman, well, thank you very much. Glad to talk to you and glad that you look tired but you look well. Thank you.

GASTESI: Thank you. It's been a long nine days.

BURNETT: Yes. All right.

And next, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree. Both pointing the figure -- the finger, I'm sorry, at a one figure, which would be the FBI Director Jim Comey.

And Senator Ted Cruz, his first sit-down interview since the porn video was liked on his Twitter account.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will say Twitter went crazy with it. It became trending.



[19:27:56] BURNETT: Tonight, Hillary Clinton and President Trump agree, both pointing the finger at the former FBI Director Jim Comey. Clinton sat down late today with Anderson and here is some of what she said.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What's important to me going forward is as I say, I think it's important to focus on what happened because lessons can be learned. But, the more important lessons that will effect our democracy going forward are not about him and his investigation. He, I think forever changed history, but that's in the past.

What's important is the fact that the Russians are still going at us. He himself admitted that before Congress. People I really respect like Jim Clapper and John Brennan and others, who knew what the Russians were doing have been sounding the alarm. I will tell you this, Anderson, if I had been elected president under the same circumstances so that you know, I lost the popular vote. I squeaked through the Electoral College and evidence came up that the Russians for whatever reason were trying to help me, I would have said on the first day in office, we're going to launch the most thorough investigation, no nation, particularly an adversary nation, can mess with our democracy.

I would have had an independent commission. I would have done everything I could to get to the bottom of it because it's not going to stop. That's what I'm worried about.


BURNETT: OutFront tonight, David Gergen who served as adviser to four presidents, April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and Mark Preston, our senior political analyst.

Mark, you heard here. Comey, quote, forever changed history, it's loud and clear. She's sure she would have won if he hadn't interfered. Not mincing words.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, not mincing words, she showed that she's human. No doubt about that. She showed that she is willing to be brutally honest with her feelings. But sometimes, you don't speak in your outside voice and I do think her criticisms across the board probably would have been better kept for her in her own you know, space in history if she kept some of those criticisms inside.

Now, Comey certainly had something to do with it, but I don't think we can lay the blame squarely at his doorstep and say had he not done what he had done, a week before the election that she would be president.

BURNETT: And yet, David, that's exactly what she's doing, OK. Comey has been the focus of her new book tour. Here she is in two more interviews just today.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The role that he played historically was determinative.

I would have won but for Jim Comey's letter. That stopped my momentum and it really did cause enough people to move away from me.


BURNETT: What does he get from this, David? From being so direct and blaming him?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Maybe she finds some inner peace. I'm not sure, Erin. I don't think it's helping book sales and it's not helping her reputation, but I think it is consistent of what she has believed and certainly what Bill Clinton has believed. They believe the Comey incident tied to the fake news things that they think came from the Russians brought her popularity down sharply just before the election and they were never able to fully recover.

So, she has a point, but I think the way she is harping on it, instead of going more to the future, I do think is not helping her reputationally.

BURNETT: And, April, I want to get to that, but speaking of harping and Jim Comey, the other person who harps is obviously the president. And today, the White House coming out and hitting Comey. You were there at a briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she spoke today and yesterday, saying some of Comey's conduct likely could have been illegal. All right? That's what she said yesterday.

And then today, she was asked to explain. You were there. And here's what she said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement, and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign. I think that's pretty clean and clear, that that would be a violation.


BURNETT: I mean, April, she was clearly prepared for this, although if you're Jim Comey, I don't know how you see it. You're either an abject failure and you really blew it, or both sides hate you and so, you're doing something right.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, Sarah did double down today and it was almost as if she was leading into some kind of action, punishment taking against him. I'm waiting to hear that next. I'm sure it's coming.

But you have to remember this, James Comey has been pivotal for the last -- in this whole new cycle, for the last say year or so. You know, in November, just before well, in late October, we were waiting to hear, you know, first in the summer, the end of the summer, we heard Loretta Lynch and Comey say we're not going to take action on issues of her e-mails, and then the next thing you know, a couple of weeks into before we go into the election, anyone who was on the fence, that you know, pretty much sealed the fate for Clinton.

You know, James Comey is also, you know, we forget that piece. She's really brought it back to a psyche of a lot of people because right now with the fact he was fired, people are looking at him as a hero. But it brings Comey back into the reality of who he is.


RYAN: And the question is now with the White House, are they looking at him as a leaker or for some, they're looking at him as a whistleblower? So, what happen next to Comey from Hillary and from the White House?

BURNETT: And Clinton's book, just so everyone knows, look, it's the top bestseller right now on Amazon. She is on a book tour. As you point out, Mark, she has a lot of blame to go around. It's Comey, Russia, the media. She blamed misogyny and sexism directly in her interview with Jane Paulie and she is angry that women didn't vote for her, OK? She's angry about it.

Here's what she told Anderson.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do you give absolution to those who didn't vote? To women who didn't vote?

CLINTON: No. I don't. Look, I, when it first started happening, it was so soon after the election and the election was so bizarre and close. It was hard for me to, you know, comfort somebody who was coming to me and saying oh, I wish I had done more or I'm sorry I didn't vote. Because I think this was one of the most consequential elections that you know, we have faced in a long time. So, no absolution.


BURNETT: Mark, not afraid to blame women themselves and she said in other exchanges, sexism, misogyny, not afraid.

PRESTON: Again, brutally honest, certainly showing her failings, but again, not the smartest thing to do because in many ways, she would have been smarter to say I tried not to or I tried to forgive them, it was difficult, but I forgive them now. She would come off looking better than looking like she's trying to settle scores with those who didn't support her.


RYAN: I don't know if it's about settling scores or settling a spirit. Hillary Clinton is totally different from what she was on the campaign trial. We are not hearing those speeches of we can do this together.

She is putting the reality on the table and for a lot of people, it's hard because this woman who was on the campaign trial making us feel like we could overcome, do this and that, but now, it's you know, I have, I'm not absolving anyone.

[19:35:04] Particularly people of her own gender, it's very interesting to hear this different Hillary Clinton with this new book.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I wonder what this will do to some die hard Democratic women who just -- couldn't stomach voting for her, whether this makes them regret it or not. Well, we'll see. Thanks very much to all.

And you can see more of Anderson's interview with Hillary Clinton. That is next on "AC360."

Next OUTFRONT: Ted Cruz and Twitter, who was behind his Twitter account, you know, late at night when a pretty disgusting porn video was liked? Did somebody else logon as him?

The senator in his first television interview since the story broke.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You know, the media and the left seem obsessed with sex.


BURNETT: And Miami's mayor saying Irma was due to climate change and he wants Donald Trump to admit it. The mayor of Miami is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: New tonight: Senator Cruz sitting down for his first television interview since his Twitter account liked a tweet showing a pornographic video. So, what's his explanation as of now?

Here is Cruz speaking to our Dana Bash about this and his big push for tax reform.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about the tweet. @TedCruz, your Twitter handle, liked a post that was clearly porn. What happened?

CRUZ: Look, it was -- we had a staffer who accidentally hit the wrong button.

[19:40:04] And it was a screw up. I will say Twitter went crazy with it. It became trending.

As soon as we found out about it, we pulled it down and it's generated a lot of amusement. It has prompted a lot of jokes, I understand that. I saw one person joking online that if only this had happened during the presidential, Cruz might be in the White House right now.

BASH: Have you identified the staffer?

CRUZ: We have looked into it, yes, we have identified it, we pulled it down. It was an honest mistake. It was not, it wasn't malicious. It wasn't deliberate. It was a screw up.

BASH: Is the staffer being punished?

CRUZ: We have talked with the staffer. It's not going to happen again. It was a screw up.

BASH: Can you tell me the staffer's name? CRUZ: I'm not going to out the fella. I mean, this -- we're, we have

dealt with it internally, but I'm not going to throw someone under the bus.

BASH: Can you definitely say that it wasn't you?

CRUZ: It was not me and it's not going to happen again. The staff -- this was a screw up.

BASH: Do you appreciate the irony that you once defended a Texas law banning sales of sex toys?

CRUZ: No, actually, I don't. That's a good example, Dana, of where the media runs with things that are just totally false.

BASH: What's false about that?

CRUZ: So, what is false about that? So I read online, you know, Cruz supports banning sex toys.

BASH: No, no --

CRUZ: That's complete nonsense.

BASH: The sales. I re-read the brief this morning, the sale of it.

CRUZ: All right. I spent five and a half years as the solicitor general of Texas. I worked for the attorney general. The attorney general's law, job, is to defend the laws passed by the Texas legislature.

BASH: I get it, yes.

CRUZ: One of those laws was a law restricting the sale of sex toys. It was a stupid law. Listen, I am one of the most libertarian members of the Senate. I think it's idiotic, but it's an opportunity for knuckleheads in the media to claim, oh, isn't this ironic that Cruz wants to ban these things. People ought to be able to do what they want in their own bedrooms.


BASH: I can't believe I'm going to ask you this, but -- so you're officially saying Ted Cruz is OK with people buying sex toys?

CRUZ: I am saying that consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want in their bedrooms. And, you know, the media on the left seem obsessed with sex. Let people do what they want.

BASH: Let's talk about tax reform. The House and Senate Republican leaders have said that they're going to unveil their plan with the White House later this month and they hope to move it through committee in October. You have your own plan out.

What do you hope to see in the official Republican tax reform plan? CRUZ: Well, as you know, today, I gave a speech laying out seven

essential elements that I think are really important. I think we need to focus on growth and jobs and a number of pieces that I think are very important. Number one, let's simplify the tax code. Let's everyone fill out their taxes on a postcard.

We spend about 9 billion hours a year wasting time with the IRS. The world would be much, much simpler if you and I and everyone else just filled out a postcard. We produce a postcard -- that's one thing I'm urging.

Another big thing that I'm urging is what's called immediate expensing. And what that means is that businesses, farmers, ranchers, if you spend money on a capital investment, you can immediately expense that and deduct it from what you're paying taxes on.

BASH: What do you consider a victory for the voter who put Republicans in charge?

CRUZ: As a practical matter, it's going to be whatever can get 50 votes in Senate. We have a very narrow majority.

BASH: And it is very practical coming from you.

CRUZ: Well, and there's wide consensus. Every Republican wants tax reform. You know, we could end up with something kind of like the Bush tax cuts light. Some modest reduction in rates, a little bit of simplification and that's it.

BASH: Would you be OK with that?

CRUZ: I'd vote for that. That would be an improvement from the status quo. That'd be good.


BURNETT: And Dana is with me now.

Look, Dana, that was, I think really important. That whole exchange you had about the Twitter post, about the porn, really, that's really important. And I know obviously he wants to talk about tax reform. He also talked to you about his relationship with the president right now, which is front and center in all of this.

And what did he tell you about that?

BASH: Well, Erin, he said that he and the president talk more often than we would think, especially given how the relationship was at the end of the Republican primary season. And maybe even more importantly, he said that events like the president's having tonight, dinner with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leaders, which Ted Cruz warned to conservatives about during the Republican primary process, he said, you know what, it's OK. It's OK even if and when the president cuts deals with them. And as long as we don't give up on, you know, important key principles. Erin, you know you've covered Ted Cruz since he came to Washington. It was like who was this guy? He was, you know, stand on principle and everything else be damned.

He doesn't sound like that. He's saying over and over, Republicans need to figure out a way to prove to voters that we can deal with having control in Washington, that we can deliver.

[19:45:04] Very different from the -- you know, no holds barred, do nothing, you know, burn the house down if we can't get everything we want that we saw just a few years ago.

BURNETT: Right. As you pointed out, more than one issue.

BASH: Yes.

BURNETT: Although we don't need to get into the details on the other one.

All right. Thank you so much, Dana Bash. Appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

BURNETT: As we were saying, if Ted Cruz is for consenting adults doing whatever they want in their own bedroom, I guess he's for gay marriage.

OUTFRONT next, Miami's Republican mayor blames climate change for Hurricane Irma. He's OUTFRONT tonight with a message for President Trump.

And an update on a couple who vanished after Irma swept through the Florida Keys, leaving a relative desperate for information.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump praising his administration for its handling of two catastrophic back to back hurricanes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Especially in light of the fact that we had two massive hurricanes, the likes of I guess our country never seen. One was the biggest ever in water and the other was the biggest ever in wind. And you put them together and we have devastation in Texas and in Florida.

[19:50:04] And we've done -- and other parts of our country, by the way. And I think we've gotten very high marks for the way we've handled them thus far and we continue to handle them well. But they were very big and very powerful.


BURNETT: The president and his administration though, not getting high marks for their handling of the cause of these storms. Many scientists say the reason they were so massive and so devastating, there will be climate change, rising temperatures, of course, increasing the intensity and impact of major storm since they feed off water.

But the Trump administration refuses to blame climate change. In fact, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt responded to a question from CNN about this by saying, and I quote Mr. Pruitt: To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of storm versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced. To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.

OUTFRONT now, the Republican mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado.

And, Mayor Regalado, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

So, you heard Scott Pruitt. It's insensitive to the people in Florida to be talking about climate change right now. Is it insensitive?

MAYOR TOMAS REGALADO (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: It is insensitive of his part because I wish is that he would have been here when people ran from high-rises because of the storm surge. I wish that he had been here when we were told that we were facing an apocalyptic moment with a cat 5 hurricane and yet we cat 1, but the destruction here in Miami has been incredible for that kind of storm.

You know, it's funny that the president of the United States just said that we have just two a storm that we have never seen. Erin, I -- I was a journalist before being mayor of the city and commissioner, and we follow the storm by comparing to past storms and the history of those phenomenons. And yet, now we're told that these two storms back to back are anomaly. We have here in Miami, something in August which wasn't reported by the national press, but we were told that we were going to get some rain during an August day, and yet in Miami, in one hour, in downtown Miami, we had 5 inches of rain.

The National Weather Service says it was an anomaly. We had flooding, cars were destroyed, business were affected. So, my -- I'm not a militant. I'm not a national leader, I'm not one of those people that obsesses about climate change.

But I can tell you for a fact that in my city, we have a problem. In my office, I see the bay, I see the docks. I've been there eight years through the windows, I see the water. I am telling you that the water is higher and higher every year that I see.

So, you know he can say whatever he want. You know, we're doing here helping the people of Miami. We have 41 percent of the population of Miami without power at this moment.

We had to impose curfews in Miami because of looting. We have 18 people arrested for looting. And we have damage all over the city.

BURNETT: And I know you are dealing with that crisis but you made it very clear, dealing with the crisis, the immediacy does not mean that we shouldn't be talking about why we're here to try to stop it from happening again. Look, it's not just the EPA administrator, right, that is not admitting this is climate change. We're seeing it from the homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert.

The president himself, as you know, Mayor Regalado, has called global warming a hoax, right? He's pulled the United States out of the Paris climate deal. He's made his point of view very clear over time.

Are you concerned about his policies right now? That he is going to make things even worst by what he is doing for Miami?

REGALADO: Well, I think, you know, he's a very successful business person, and I will tell the president, Mr. President, had we had been hit on a direct way, but a cat 5 in the city of Miami, you, sir, will be now worrying about the collapse of the insurance world as we know it in the United States, because, we have the most exposed assets here. In the 14 miles of water front that we have, we have billions and billions and billions of dollars, 100,000 people only in Miami live in the water front. And we have Key Biscayne, Miami Beach.

I will tell you that this is something that's not only about Miami, you know, it's about the United States, and we have to have this conversation.

BURNETT: So what do you say to the president tonight, Mayor Regalado? What do you want him to say -- to say he's wrong about climate change?

REGALADO: No, I don't want him to say he's wrong about climate change.

[19:55:02] I just want him to tell his people to give us an explanation. To just not say, this is an anomaly and it never happened before. Things happened, you know, Forest Gump, remember. We need an explanation, because we have to plan for the future, we need to understand that Harvey and Irma were not anomalies, that there were things that are happening now because of several things that have happened.

I'm asking the president just to give us a chance to be informed, to inform the residents of south Florida and the United States.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Regalado, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

REGALADO: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And next, a couple missing for four days in the Florida Keys. We have an update, a happy one, about what happened tonight.


BURNETT: Wonderful news tonight about a story we brought you on Monday that could have ended horribly. Amy Fridley spoke to us about her sister Terry and Terry's husband Carlos Perez. They were in the hardest hit area of Florida Keys and Amy talked to her sister as the storm pushed in. But she had not heard from her after Irma arrived.

And here's what Amy told me, because she was desperately hoping against hope that her sister was alive.


AMY FRIDLEY, SISTER WAS MISSING IN FLORIDA KEYS (via telephone): The last time I spoke with her was shortly after 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. The last thing she said was they were getting ready to go into a small closet underneath the stairs.


BURNETT: Well, amazingly, they have been reunited. Terry and Carlos rode out the storm on Big Pine Key which was as you can see is completely devastated. It was though, they were miraculous. They survived.

We hope that everything waiting for word about their missing relatives find comfort in this good news tonight and that there are many more stories like this one.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson's next.