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British Authorities Make Significant Arrest in Terrorist Manhunt; President Trump to Address U.N. General Assembly; Key West, Florida, Open for Citizens to Return after Hurricane Irma; Florida Nursing Home Criticized for Conditions During and After Hurricane Irma; Former Police Officer Accused of Murder in St. Louis Killing a Black Man Acquitted. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 16, 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] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- there's no evidence of its involvement so far. CNN's Nima Elbagir is following the story for us from London. So Nima, what more do we know about this search that police are conducting?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just as was we were coming to air, Fredricka, the London Metropolitan Police force confirmed that they are keeping the terror threat level at critical. That is the highest threat level here. And that means that they believe that another attack isn't just highly likely but another attack may be imminent.

This all as their investigation, as their searches continue. They say they're very happy with the significant arrest, their calling it, of the 18-year-old. They said that they have managed to get hold of -- to commandeer a number of items that are helping them with their investigation, and that they are not as yet ruling out that he might have had broader support in the commissioning of this incident as they're calling it. That's what they're charging him with, the commissioning of an act of terror.

The searches continue, the cordoning off of that neighborhood in the commuter belt for the west of London, that also continues. And even though behind me you can see the streets surrounding Parsons Green subway station returning to normal, there is a sense that this counterterror operation is really just getting going here in the U.K. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nima Elbagir, thank you so much in London.

President Donald Trump is preparing for his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and he'll address the world leaders on Tuesday and is expected to focus on the need for better relations and cooperation on fighting common enemies like North Korea. National security adviser H.R. McMaster says nothing has been ruled out when it comes to Pyongyang.

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H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think we ought to make clear what's different about this approach is that we're out of time. And Ambassador Haley said before, we've been kicking the can down the road, and we're out of road. And so for those who have said and have been commenting about the lack of a military option, there is a military option.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joining us now from Washington. So Elise how big of a shadow will North Korea cast over the general assembly and the president's expected remarks?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, I don't know if will cast a shadow over the whole week. There are a lot of issues that the Trump administration and others are going to be talking about, such as U.N. reform, humanitarian assistance for some of the horrible conflicts that are out there.

But clearly North Korea is one of the priority issues and one of the priority focuses that President Trump and the State Department say will be a key issue this week. And I think that you can see that President Trump will be speaking a lot about North Korea and trying to get all of the countries on board to implement those sanctions.

I think what could also be hanging over this is what is China why going to do. President Xi Jinphing will not be coming to the U.N. General Assembly, but I think you can look to President Trump to send out that message to China that it really holds the key to making sure that this doesn't escalate by implementing tougher measures against North Korea.

WHITFIELD: And Kim Jong-un says he wants equilibrium with the U.S. military to deter a U.S. military option. Is that reasonable?

LABOTT: I don't think it's reasonable, Fred. I mean, clearly North Korea has nuclear weapons. We don't know if they can actually use them, marry all the components to actually launch one. They have a huge conventional army, and they could do a lot of damage. But I think any military moves by North Korea would certainly be suicide for the regime. I think between U.S., South Korea, and Japan, their convention and nuclear power is just completely overwhelming. There's no way for North Korea to ever really have parity, military parity with a country like the United States.

So I think that this is more rhetoric with Kim Jong-un. But of course even though he'll never have parity, he could do a lot of damage. And that's why it's almost a little bit of a deterrent in a way, even though General McMasters says there's a military option, certainly nobody wants to use it.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott, thanks so much.

Let's talk more about this and the expectations of this speech. Joined now by CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, professor at Princeton University. Julian, good to see you. So a challenge will be for this president, not -- in whatever he says, right, not to further escalate tensions, not to allow North Korea to use that language that the president articulates as provoking yet another test, or worse.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. The president is now coming to speak at an institution where he's had pretty tense relations. But it's important that he build support for both sanctions and for increasing pressure otherwise, maybe through military means, on North Korea.

[14:05:09] What would be a big mistake is if the speech actually backfires and starts to become a speech about or A discussion about President Trump rather than North Korea. So he does have to handle this with the kind of delicacy that we haven't always seen from the president.

WHITFIELD: In the past, candidate Trump hasn't shown a whole lot of respect to the U.N., in fact calling it a club for people to have a good time, even challenging whether it is relevant. So how might his demeanor, what he has to say, how he interacts with U.N. nations, how might that change that dialogue or point of view?

ZELIZER: Well, look, whether he likes it or not, he does, in the United States, needs the United Nations right now to confront this really important challenge and dangerous challenge that we face. His demeanor, his rhetoric, that's everything. He has issued some pretty harsh words about the U.N. as an institution and he has promoted an America first agenda which is at odds with what the United Nations is about. So this is an important moment that he doesn't escalate those tensions at a minimum so that he can get the support of at least many of the nations there sitting in the room watching him who are being asked to participate in building the pressure on North Korea.

WHITFIELD: Might there even be a lot of crossed arms from some of those other nations who take offense to the president saying America first when he's talking to domestic audience and sometimes a global audience, but then trying to express something different this week before the U.N.

ZELIZER: I think there's probably a little bit of leeway, meaning many of them are expecting a little bit of that, and they understand that President Trump can go off script at any second, so it's really a scale and scope question. It's about how far he goes in making those kinds of statements and going away from the kind of rhetoric that his speech writers will probably give to him.

And we don't know. But crossed arms are OK, but angry arms would be a problem. And the president needs to understand this. We think his advisers do. But this is not a time to make a speech simply condemning the U.N. It really has to be kept on the problem at hand.

WHITFIELD: The U.N. ambassador has already said, Nikki Haley has already said she actually saw the speech or she read the speech. She used the word "strong" to describe it, and says that it is one that has a very tough message. But what kind of modifications would that make this many days ahead of his speech?

ZELIZER: Well, look, the modifications are probably less relevant than the improvisation with President Trump. We've seen this again and again. You could hand him 10 pages of papers or put whatever you want on a teleprompter, but he's willing to say what he wants on the spot.

So I think the crossed arms, by the way, won't simply be other nations watching, but it will be his own advisors, including the U.N. ambassador. So he could obviously make adjustments right onto the day of the speech. But we're really looking to what he does at the moment.

President Obama warned in his final speech to the U.N., which I think was in September of 2016, about the danger of building walls, about the danger of nationalism to the mission. And so in some ways now we are going to see if those warnings were heeded or not.

WHITFIELD: And apparently telling Mr. Trump before inauguration that it would be North Korea which is the biggest threat. All right, Julian Zelizer, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So as the White House gears up for the U.N. General Assembly, be sure to watch "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper tomorrow morning. He'll talk with U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

All right, some people in Florida finally getting the chance to return to their homes for the first time since Irma struck, and they will be seeing the kind of toll this hurricane has taken.

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[14:13:04] WHITFIELD: All right, it's the message so many Floridians have been anxiously awaiting. Officials giving the all clear for residents of the Florida Keys to return to their homes this weekend more than a week after hurricane Irma. The northern Keys through Marathon Key opened this morning, and the lower Keys are scheduled to open tomorrow. Let's go live now to CNN's Martin Savidge in Key West, Florida. And I see a little bit more activity behind you.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, well this Key West was an area where there was still a lot of people who stayed behind. The evacuation was very successful but probably the most people did remain I the Keys were right here in Key West, part of the reason why they still have this service going on. This is the National Guard and others that are helping to distribute aid. It is basic. You get water, depends how many family members, but you can load up with water at the first stop. Then second stop you're going to get some MRE's, and then after that you pull on over to the very hot commodity, with is ice. A lot of people still need ice.

And now let's have a conversation with the mayor. And mayor, thank you very much for joining us. Mayor of Key West I should point out. Where do we stand on the recovery for your community, because I think there's some misunderstanding here that this town was devastated, and it was not. MAYOR CRAIG CATES, KEY WEST, FLORIDA: No, it was not. Structurally

we didn't get that much damage. You don't go to see roofs off and stuff like that in Key West. Power was mainly from trees taking out services. And they're putting them up now. As of this morning it was 50 percent of the electric was back, but now I believe it's about 75 percent. And by the end of tomorrow it's supposed to be 100 percent except small pocket areas that had further damage.

The water is up, running eight hours a day now, and by the end of the week could be running 24 hours. We got cell phone service back up. The grocery stores are just starting to come back open. A priority before opening Key West for the residents was to get the hospital going.

SAVIDGE: And you got that going?

CATES: Yes, that is going. The emergency room is operating, and David Clay, the head of the hospital said by tomorrow it will be about 75 percent, and as the people start coming back further in the week he'll have 100 percent.

[14:15:10] SAVIDGE: What advice do you give to people who are thinking about coming back?

CATES: Don't come back unless you can do most of the work yourself, or come down see what your damages are to line up people to repair it and then maybe leave and then come back if you have another place to stay. A lot of people don't have any other place to stay. They're having to pay for hotel rooms. We need to get them back so they can at least be back at their own house even if it has some issues in town. We're not 100 percent. At least their home and they can start putting their life back together.

SAVIDGE: This was not an easy decision. And I mean by that there were others involved, other government entities, other mayors in other parts of the Keys. You went long, late, and I heard very heated sometimes last night trying to decide.

CATES: Well, absolutely, because Key West, we were ready. Key West has its own police department, fire department, all the services Key West owns, sewer plant, the water utility is right here. So we had our stuff up and running. But further up for the next 40 miles they don't. They depend on the county. Marathon is working very hard to put the city back together but they have still got quite a ways to go.

SAVIDGE: People are going to have to pass through Armageddon, almost, just to get to Key West, and that is a problem.

CATES: Exactly. One the discussions was you're going to come through our city and slow us down on our road. And we say, it's all our road. We have got to share it. Key West needs to get up and running too, our citizens get back. But we all come together. And at the end of the day we're all happy, shaking hands. We made the right decision, and we're all moving together, forward together for the communities.

SAVIDGE: Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. Good luck to Key West. We'll be here to see it. Thank you.

And there you have it. Not everybody agrees that -- Key West is certainly ready to open for business, but other parts that people have to travel through, especially when you get up to Big Pine, there are a lot of folks who are saying no, no, no, no one should be going back there just yet because they are blasted. And that is true. We'll been up there.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Well, it's a huge undertaking coming back and then trying to figure out how to manage, because as the mayor just said, at least for a lot of the places in the Keys, when you go home be ready to do the work yourself because trying to get all those other services in, not going to happen just yet. All right, Martin Savidge, thank you so much from Key West, and thanks to the mayor, too.

Investigators want to know who knew what and when as they investigate eight deaths at a Florida nursing home after hurricane Irma. A criminal investigation is now open and big questions linger about how much people knew about the deteriorating conditions there and how quickly were the proper channels notified. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The video only 34 seconds long but speaks volumes about what was happening inside the rehabilitation center at Hollywood Hills. In the hallway, a woman sits on a gurney entirely naked. The person who shot the video says the same woman was clothed in a gown when she saw her on Monday but had grown so uncomfortably hot by Tuesday she stripped or all of her clothing, seeking relief from the heat.

The woman who shot the video did not want to appear on camera but wanted others to see the conditions at the facility after hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning. In the video, her 89-year-old parents, Gabriel and Libia Giraldo. Both were hospitalized after being evacuated from the facility Wednesday. Libia has since been discharged. Gabriel remains in the hospital with a urinary tract infection his daughter says he got because he was dehydrated.

The person who shot the video says she was at the facility Monday and the air-conditioner was already off. The video was shot Tuesday night just hours before the center was evacuated. It shows her father who suffers from Alzheimer's with a fan next to his bed, her mother in a second bed. Their second floor window open and the curtains lifted up to allow as much airing as possible. In the hallway a large fan is seen in an effort to keep air moving in the facility.

A spokesperson for the rehabilitation person says they contacted Florida Power and Light and state emergency officials immediately after losing air-conditioning. The spokesperson says the facility had adequate staffing and followed protocol throughout the crisis. The spokesperson also said water and ice were provided for residents and that disrobing residents is not protocol for staying cool.

Florida's agency for health care administration that regulates the facility told CNN at no time did the facility report that conditions had become dangerous or that the health and safety of the patients was at risk.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Hollywood, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And now new fallout from protests in St. Louis, people taking to the streets, outraged after a former police officer was acquitted in the death of an African-American man.

[14:20:03] Straight ahead, how it is affecting other things in St. Louis today.

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WHITFIELD: People are gathering and protesting in St. Louis over the acquittal of ex-police officer Jason Stockley who was charged with murder for the 2011 shooting death of a black motorist, Anthony Lamar Smith. This video right here shot just moments ago showing large crowds gathering inside the shopping mall there as the store doors are also being closed. This is now the second day of protests in the St. Louis area.

CNN's Ryan Young has just arrived on the scene. So Ryan, tell us more about what has been taking place in and outside of the mall.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the second day of protests. We're told more protests will be happening throughout the day. We are at the West County Mall. I want to show you something, Fred. If you look down this direction, you can see the lineup of officers who have gathered here just on the ramp right before you get into the mall. They've decided that, we've been told, that all the protesters have moved out of this mall at this point.

[14:25:03] But we've been told by some of the protesters that they're going to another mall, and they plan to do this over and over throughout the day. When we were marching with them yesterday, they told us they wanted to make sure that they were able to disrupt commerce not only in the downtown areas, but they wanted to get out in the suburbs. And of course we were with them last night as they walked into a neighborhood and trying to disrupt business in that area before moving into a residential neighborhood, and we did them break the window of the mayor's home.

And of course at that point cops swarmed in. Today from what we've been told so far this has remained peaceful, but they wanted to walk up and down that shopping mall, kind of disrupt things. We're seeing tons of people leaving here at this point, a lot of folks asking us what's going on. This is the first of many scheduled protests, we're told, throughout the day. So Fred, this could get interesting once again.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Young in St. Louis, thanks so much. Keep us posted throughout the afternoon. Appreciate it.

And thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "Vital Signs" with CNN's Sanjay Gupta starts right now.

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