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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
7.1.Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Central Mexico; Category 5 Hurricane Nearing Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands; Special Counsel Investigating Manafort for Possible Financial Crimes; Trump Threatens To "Totally Destroy" North Korea; GOP Taking Another Shot At Repealing ObamaCare; Hurricane Maria Could Be "Catastrophic" To Puerto Rico. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 19, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:01] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: We see the effects on a build.
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COOPER: Many other buildings came down or where badly damages. Upwards a 100 people have died. That's the number known so far, but that number is climbing. That wasn't, of course, the only building that collapsed like that. There are reports throughout parts of Mexico City. A short time ago I spoke by phone with Brittany Kaiser in the Mexican capital.
COOPER: Brittany, Where were you when the earthquake struck?
BRITTANY KAISER, MEXICO EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR (via telephone): I was in (INAUDIBLE) which is just east of Polanco in Central Mexico City. I was on the third floor of a building waiting for a business meeting to begin when the building started violently shaking back and forth, as you can imagine, if you are on a tiny boat in a middle of the ocean during a very, very strong storm (INAUDIBLE). We immediately decided to evacuate which was actually quite difficult to get down the stairs --
COOPER: Difficult because there were a lot of people or difficult because the building was moving?
KAISER (via telephone): Difficult because of how strongly the building was moving. You had to grip very hard on to railing. Not (INAUDIBLE) stairwell, but everybody headed outside very safe and my building there's no damage (INAUDIBLE). And everywhere around us was quite damaged. As soon as we got outside there was a huge dust cloud from a building that had collapsed on the road.
COOPER: And where are you now? I mean, is your -- the place where you live, is that OK? KAISER (via telephone): Yes, the building that I live in actually sustained a significant amount of damage. It cracked in half and a lot of the facade came off the front, so I can't stay there today. And I'm actually walking through my neighborhood to check and see if we can get any of our belonging. We'll be staying in our hotel (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: As someone who knows Mexico City well as you do, I mean, what is it likes to see the city like this right now?
KAISER (via telephone): It's quite strange. There's even more traffic than normal, which I suppose won't surprise anybody that knows in this city very well. But most people are outside and standing in the middle of the road because nobody really wants to be inside unless you have a very new building that's mostly concrete and steel. You can't guarantee the foundations are safe, and so there is somebody that comes and officially checks on it for you, from the city government, which hasn't happened through the whole city yet.
COOPER: And have you seen, you know, in places where there's buildings and rubble, the people trying to search through?
KAISER (via telephone): I haven't been close to there. Most of the buildings that I've seen that has collapsed are quite small. Seems like everybody got out in time, there were no ambulances. But there are sometimes there are about 10 or 20 ambulances at a time coming down the street going to different sites. There are more than 30 buildings that have collapsed in downtown Mexico City today already.
COOPER: Brittany, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. I'm glad you're safe.
KAISER (via telephone): Of course, thank you so much.
COOPER: And the death toll now is raised officially to 138 after Mexico's earthquake and no doubt in the hours ahead it's likely to rise even higher.
We're going to continue to bring you the latest from Mexico as we learn more. There is Hurricane Maria as well. Category 5, it's been growing throughout the day. We just heard from NOAA folks who is flying through it that have seem to have stabilized, but stabilize with sustain winds about 175 miles an hour. Tom Sater joins us now with more on both disasters. First of all, let's talk about Mexico City. What are you learning about the impact of the earthquake?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Believe it or not we haven't had much of the way of aftershocks. Typically we would have a few by now, Anderson. And I'll show you an aftershock map. Give you an idea of where all the aftershocks were from the previous earthquake. That was an 8.1, 11 days ago, 7.1 magnitude and 32 miles in depth would think that is deep but that's considered shallow. Anything within 42 miles, believe it or not, is shallow. Closer to, of course, the surface, the more shaking there is. And if you take a look of what we see typically around the globe we'll have one 8.1 or greater, that was the one 11 days ago between 7 and 7.9, we have 15. And we've had quite a few of this.
But when you look at the USGS shake map, Mexico City was on the very northern extremities of this because you've got a 75-mile difference from the epicenter, though we have 15.5 million feelings strong shaking and that doesn't include all the other millions that that felt light, or moderate, or even strong. But the USGS computer models did hinted at the fact that there was a 39 percent chance that we would have 100 to a 1000 fatalities. And unfortunately, that's what we're seeing now. The problem is the infrastructure that's been compromised, thousands of homes and businesses, what we have there.
[21:05:15] Originally, if you have a 7.1, what you can look at in the near future for aftershocks and to have a 6.1 -- a 5.1, you're going to have 10 or a 100 that are 4.1. Here is the shake map. And you'll have an idea all these yellow dots, Anderson, these were all the aftershocks from that 8.1 we had 11 days ago. And here is our epicenter, here southeast of Mexico City.
And again, when you look at the colors and put it on the shaking, you can start to see and some of the communities that have felt strong shaking in the brighter colors. The Mexico City is well up to the north. So again, now that some of those structures have been, you know, kind of worked with getting shaken a little bit, you've got the opportunity to lose power and some downed lines and things to that nature, so again, there's going to be a lot of folks unfortunately sleeping out in the streets tonight.
COOPER: Yes, people are just scared to go home. Tom, what's the latest for Maria?
SATER: Maria is gaining strength today. In fact, few hours ago, sustained winds were 160. And that was the strength off the category 5 that moved in, in 1928 when Puerto Rico had a category 5 make landfall and a category 4 in 1932. This one is stronger.
So most likely, if it sustains the strength, 175-mile-per-hour winds, we're most likely going to find ourselves with the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Puerto Rico. I'm concerned about St. Croix right now. They're only about 50 miles from the center. San Juan, 145 and already we're starting to see the winds. In fact, already reports of power outages in Puerto Rico when it was over 200 miles away. Remember they lost about a million lost power. And we're looking at this eye hopefully going through an eye wall replacement cycle.
Notice the bright colors around the eye to secondary ban, that's the only hope we have for this thing, losing at least some strength before it landfall around 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning.
In purple, we have higher storm surge number, 7 to 11 feet, mainly because of this eye they have a slow slope to the water our table. And, of course, is it comes up to ground in Puerto Rico, six to nine- foot storm surge, the problem is they're going to take a direct hit. When you look at the path of Irma, it stayed off the coast of Puerto Rico by 55 mile, but again, devastated by the winds and the surge a million losing power. Now when we get closer we're going to be able to look at the population density, you get an idea of just how they're going to be affected by this. Landfall, 8:00, 9:00 in the morning, San Juan, look, at all the colors of red, population density. Most of the population we calculated at least over half is in the eastern third, Anderson. So with them being on that front right quadrant, it's the worst place for San Juan to be which takes us to a power outrage map. If you take a look at, of course, Puerto Rico, we'll look at some of the other islands as well, British and U.S. Virgin Islands, you don't want to see orange, you never want to see red, that means widespread power outages in the next 24 to 48 hours.
I really think that by tomorrow afternoon or late in the day, at least a tropical storm force winds will start to leave this region, Anderson.
COOPER: And Tom, very quickly, you mentioned St. Croix which obviously didn't get as badly hit, thankfully, in Irma, but St. Thomas and St. John obviously did. Are they going to feel effects from the storm?
SATER: They're going to have tropical storm force winds. I think St. Croix is going to feel the brunt of this. I mean, we move to Dominca today we lost a life in Guadalupe. So again, even though they're further away they just don't have quite the structures right now for shelters sets up, but I think they're far enough away, they're not going to have storm surge. They're going to have some quite strong winds with this. But again, it's really Puerto Rico and St. Croix. Again, we got to watch this area because thousands left the islands here to go to San Juan to seek shelter because they just didn't have any place to stay after the devastating effect of Irma sometime ago. And then we'll watch it in the days ahead. Hopefully it'll stay off the coastline but models are having a problem trying to figure out what's going to happen by day six or seven, Anderson.
COOPER: 175-mile-per-hour sustain winds. That is just unbelievable.
COOPER: Tom, I appreciate that. I want to get the latest now from Puerto Rico. Our CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is there on the southeastern coast. Nick, what are the conditions like there now? And are people are ready there for 175- mile-hour winds with sustain winds?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see, Anderson, the rain has been coming in the last three or four hours or so. I am about 50 meters away from the beach front there, the east coast where we should between about 6:00 or 8:00 a.m. see the first landfall of Hurricane Maria here. This is (INAUDIBLE) where potentially begin this journey across the island to San Juan, this place of 3.5 million people.
Only two weeks ago hit by Hurricane Irma that was a glancing blow it went to the north, but still a billion dollars damage cost. Still now, even 46,000 people without power.
On the drive on the way here, we saw the damage, the forestation around, and the city of San Juan itself, rationing water sales, (INAUDIBLE) two cases for shop and store, (INAUDIBLE) for gas stations.
[21:10:11] The board is going up, people certainly getting the message, the question is, what level of understanding did they have about how severe this could be. You have to be over 89 years old it likely seems to see anything as violent as the storm that will hit tomorrow morning.
Now we know in this beach resort the people have mostly left -- just before the dark. So someone headed down the beach in golf buggy have check out the learning storm as it came in. But as you move further in land too, the risk is still there of flooding. And that's what the governor is most concerned about, the fact that people may get caught by the huge volumes of water the hurricane will throw at the island.
Where I'm standing we could see potentially an 11-foot storm surge, seven to nine, maybe 11. 11 is almost twice my height. So a lot of worries too about what a 25 inches you may see it most extreme in some area of rainfall will be too. And that could bring landslides. That could, of course, bring power outages too.
Obviously, some, perhaps, thing for this island after Irma is still bracing, itself still ready and maybe some of damage has already being done. Lessening what Maria could also do, but at the end this is a storm the ferocity of which they haven't experienced nearly a 100 years, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, the building you're in, is it a new building? Is it a building that -- I mean, you feel good about?
WALSH: Yes, it's a concrete structure of three floors, so, I mean, obviously we can't predict the kind of ferocity of the storm, but we're step back from the coast and behind the other buildings too to protect ourselves. That seems fine. The flooding too also probably won't reach much higher than the first story here. But it's across the area here where there obviously areas with less secure buildings where they can be vulnerable to from the storm surge. Many people don't really expect that to come flooding in. But perhaps the depth in that may occur. So that's the broader range of thinking in the day ahead. Certainly, as you heard it may be towards the end of tomorrow that it starts moving away. But it's now 175 miles an hour and some of the projections say and suggest that most of its ferocity will in fact be (INAUDIBLE) Puerto Rico, may leave the island slightly weaker. But of course, could be devastating for a place as you've heard, you know, has a huge --
WALSH: -- half population nearly below the federal poverty line, Puerto Rico very much on edge.
COOPER: Yes, our thoughts are with them. Nick, stay safe. Joining us now by phone from St. Croix is Myritta Hesser Paul because the storm is hitting there right now. Communication is obviously are difficult. How are things right now where you are? Are you safe? What are you seeing around you?
MYRITTA HESSER PAUL, RIDING OUT STORM ON ST. CROIX (via telephone): Hello?
COOPER: Yes. It's Anderson Cooper. You're on the air. If you can hear me, explain where you are and what you see around you.
PAUL: I'm on the island of St. Croix and I can see nothing because it's completely dark here. The wind is raging on so many levels. It's even hard to explain. There are so many different sounds. And they're all rather terrifying.
COOPER: Are you in the location that you feel is secure? Myritta, are you in a location that you feel is secure?
PAUL: Yes. My condo seems to be holding up extremely well. I have fabulous --
COOPER: We're obviously having difficulty communicating, as you can imagine already feeling the effects of this massive storm. We'll try to reestablish contact with her. We're also trying to reestablish communications with our fearless reporter in Mexico City. Obviously, communications there are even difficult given what is going on in that city.
Just ahead, we also have new exclusive CNN reporting on the Russia investigation, specifically the probe of Paul Manafort. And later, sharp reaction of President Trump's sharp-elbowed speech today at the United Nations and the new threat of annihilation he directed at North Korea's dictator.
[21:16:42] COOPER: Tonight another CNN exclusive on the Russia investigation. CNN has learned that the special counsel investigation into Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is examining activities that go back more than a decade. Our Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, they're breaking the story tonight. And Pam Brown joins us now. So what have you learned?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are reaching back to 2006 in a probe that centers on possible attacks and financial crimes involving Paul Manafort. It's one indication, Anderson, of the pressure that Mueller's team is placing on the former Trump campaign chairman. And the broad time frame shows that Mueller's team is going well beyond Russian meddling during the campaign as part of the investigation of Trump campaign associates. And as we reported yesterday on you show, Anderson, Manafort has been the subject of an FBI investigation for years, including wiretaps, and he has emerged as a focal point for Mueller. In fact, still one of the most visible investigations under Mueller's direction. Manafort spokesman declined to comment for this story, but Manafort has denied any financial wrong doing, Anderson. COOPER: It's also -- why are they looking as far back at 2006?
BROWN: Right because this is a period mentioned in the search warrant as you'll recall. There was a raid back in July of his home in Virginia. It covers much of the decade that Manafort works as a consultant for Ukraine's former ruling party. If that worked, Anderson, that the prompt of the FBI's interest to Manafort, initially, that party was accused of corruption and the FBI was trying to figure out whether the American consultants were involved.
COOPER: I understand, you also have new details about the July raid on Paul Manafort's home in Virginia.
BROWN: We do. So, we have learned that the search was an unusually hard-nose. It was a no-knock warrant as we previously reported. And sources tell us it began well before dawn as Manafort and his wife lay in bed. FBI agents entered with guns drawn. They insisted on searching Kathleen Manafort for weapons, his wife. A standard part of FBI searches asking to search for weapons but something -- it was something that was certainly jarring to the Manaforts, we're told.
COOPER: There's obviously been -- a lot of focus on Manafort in this investigation. What can you tell us about whether he's going to be charge?
BROWN: Well, that is the big question. And we are told that Mueller's team has warned Manafort that they are working to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes. So that's an indication that this investigation could be at an advanced stage. And we should note that none of that is about election meddling, it's really focus on tax fraud, possible financial crimes. Again nothing has happened yet, but this is what they have been investigating and it does seem to be in an advanced stage. Mueller's office had subpoenaed reams (ph) of financial records from Manafort in addition to the documents agencies during that search back in July. And we also know that a spokesman testified to a Grand jury last week, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Pamela, great reporting. Thank you. A lot to talk about with the panel. Joining me tonight, Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, Paul Begala, Tara Setmayer, and Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeff, what do you make of this -- I mean, hard-nose search and the fact that it goes back all the way to 2006.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I've rarely seen a prosecutor focus on someone trying to flip them as hard as Mueller is trying.
COOPER: Bottom line, that's where --
[21:19:57] TOOBIN: -- I mean, I just can't imagine any other explanation for what's going on here. There have been recent changes in white collar crime law that expand the statute of limitations to 10 years or even longer for many white collar crime. This happened actually after the Enron story broke a decade ago. So there is no doubt that Mueller has the legal possibility of filing these cases. Whether they are actually related to his jurisdiction, you know, we can't know. Presumably he's trying to establish some sort of motive for why Manafort is trying to I ingratiate himself and perhaps the Trump campaign with Russia, because he has this long term ties and financial ties to Russia.
COOPER: Is it -- Scott, do you think?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that he's trying to get him to flip and give somebody up in the Trump organization. I think if you're the Trump people tonight, you know, if you want to put a sliver lining on it, they've clearly not got anything on Russia meddling yet that was made clear by the reporting.
On the other hand, they're trying to take a guy who is in a 60's and say, if you don't want to spend the rest of your natural life in prison, you're going to give us something on Russian meddling. And so, that's the conversations we don't know that are probably taking place. We haven't talked about General Flynn tonight, but I suspect they're trying to do the same thing to him.
And so, you know, I'm worried about this investigation because it could leads to indictments between now and the midterms and they are somehow able to connect it to the Trump organization, that could have far-reaching political implications for the Republicans in the midterms and obviously it would grind the administration to a halt, which is a terrible outcome for, you know, Republicans who want to see the president succeed.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is the beginning of the end. These are remarkable tactics, this is a remarkable situation. We've never before had at least allegations of foreign influence meddling in American election. And so I think Mr. Mueller is going to be as thorough as his reputation suggests that he would be. I think Mr. Manafort is in a lot of trouble. I'm sure he's got competent counsel, but he better cooperate.
COOPER: Assumes, you know, live through investigations in the White House, you were in the Clinton administration. What kind of an impact does -- even a story like this have on folks who are in the White House, who are maybe going to be called to testify or who are kind of looking over their shoulders?
BEGALA: Right. And when I was in the White House people who were called were only potential witnesses, right? This is just about whether President Clinton had affair or he lied about the fair. So nobody else had affair -- nobody else lied about the affair. So nobody else was really in peril, and yet it was enormous. I've never got called. I can't complain. But I had a lot of friends who were called. They were hauled in front of the Grand jury, they had hundreds of thousands of legal bills, some of them.
In this case Mr. Manafort may well have done something wrong, he may not have, but he's clearly a target in a way that nobody else in the star investigation was except Bill Clinton. And he's not the only one. You mentioned General Flynn. There's been reports about other folks who have been called in. This is going to be a colossal problem. But the folks who I feel are important are those who are peripheral, the people who helped the president drafted the statement that was so misleading about his son and son-in-law and Mr. Manafort's meeting with the Russians. There are reporting that they are getting called in, that they're going to have to run up big legal bills. They're just staffers trying to do their job, but if in fact they made a mistake, if they've even committed a crime, they're going to go down in this thing too.
TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: That's why the ethics office has allowed anonymous donors or legal defense funds for staffers in the White House to be permissible now. This is a mess. No White House, and you know this, it has a chilling effect on the staff in the White House because no one knows who's next, what's going to happen. The last thing you want to do is to be dragged before a special prosecutor that is, you know, that's awful. Maybe the IRS is the only place that might be worse.
But this situation with Paul Manafort is quite serious, and it's detailed. Anyone who's been following this or following Manafort's career knows that he's been involved in some questionable business activity all the way back to way before he had anything to do with Donald Trump, back when he was with Roger Stone and their lot being firmed, and a lot of the firm work that they did, which is probably why Mueller's going back that far. Let's not forget --
TOOBIN: Let's be fair. I'm sorry to --
SETMAYER: You know, I know -- let's not forget that the story that came out about Manafort's name being written down in the logs in the Ukraine when they raided those offices when things were falling apart there with potential cash payments to the millions of dollars to Manafort. These are all things that connect in a very indirect way to the association with Russia and Trump and that influence which is why Manafort is such a target.
TOOBIN: Right, but no one has ever charged him with any sort of crime before, --
SETMAYER: That's true.
TOOBIN: -- so I think it's important to point that out. And no one know. And just the fact that Mueller is leaning on him to cooperate against other people doesn't mean he has something to give on other people. Remember, brother Begala will certainly remember Susan McDougal who Ken Starr locked up for months in an effort to get her to cooperate against Bill Clinton and she wouldn't talk because she said she had nothing to give. So maybe Paul Manafort --
[21:25:13] COOPER: Kirsten, if you are in the White House and, you know, you're hearing that they're going back to 2006 with Paul Manafort, I would assume that would send fear into anybody, how far they're going to go back in other people's records and what might they find.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think it just shows the seriousness of it, right, that they're -- how sensitive this is going to be. But I do think we ultimately -- I mean, Jeffrey is right. We don't really know that much and we don't know if he knows anything. This all, you know, this all presumes that there's something knowable, because obviously his financial and tax crimes would be bad if they happened, but what's more important is -- what if they were colluding with Russia in terms of, you know, affecting the U.S. election. So there' a lot of dots that have -- still be connected here.
COOPER: We're going to have more with the panel in just a second. We want to quickly go back to the Mexico story. Some new video showing the quake as it happened. Take a look at this.
COOPER: We're trying to give you as many, you know, as these videos come in show you just a sense of it. Obviously, we have seen -- I don't know if we still have the other video that we showed of an entire building just pan caking down collapsing the smaller building. This looks like a more modern building. Let's take a look at the other video watch.
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COOPER: For the last several hours, since this earthquake, we have seen hundreds if not thousands of people trying to help others trying to dig through rubble. An emergency crews on top of piles of rubbles, on top of -- that remains of buildings like that searching for anyone trapped beneath who may still be alive, searching for the living, hoping to recover the dead as well. There you see actual rescue crews the kind of further out in the blocks around a situation like that. We've seen hundreds of people lined up in bucket brigades carrying one to another handing one bucket to another filled with rubble, moving the rubble off. Freelance journalist Ioan Grillo is in Mexico City. He joins us now right now. What's going on around you right now?
IOAN GRILLO, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: So, Anderson, right now I'm in front of another condominium which has collapsed. You can see behind me if camera man looks behind, another building. We don't know how many people in it yet who are struggling for their lives.
And around the streets there's a lot of chaos, traffic collapsed, a lot of phone lines down, electricity down, water not working. People struggling to find their loved ones, to find they're OK, and many people around this building wondering is my daughter there, is my father there, is my wife there, and are they alive. But as you mentioned, an amazing outpouring of solidarity, thousands if not tens of thousands of people who have come out to help in any way they can, these people who are carrying buckets of rubble. People bringing water out, food out, anyway they can support people. I think there's a feeling of solidarity. People have a collective fear of a major earthquake since 19 -- to this tragedy.
COOPER: The bucket brigades, is that people just wondering around, seeing a building that's collapsed and just joining in? I'm wondering how organized are these things and do authorities have enough rescue crews needed? Do they have enough right now to respond to all the locations?
GRILLO: So the bucket brigade brigades -- there are rescue -- who are helping organize them in a -- very chaotic -- raise their hands and organize these things. Now, -- there are probably --
COOPER: Obviously, we're having trouble maintaining the satellite image with you Ioan Grillo. We'll going to check back in with him. Obviously, a very chaotic, fluid situation. We'll continue to follow this obviously throughout the night.
When we come back, I'll speak with Congressmen Jim Himes of the House Intelligence Committee to get his take on the Russia reporting that we brought you a few moments ago.
[21:32:54] COOPER: We'll show you the latest from Mexico City, also from Puerto Rico where they are expecting a landfall, a direct hit from the hurricane that we expect to make landfall around early in the morning. Right now, category 5, sustained winds of 175 miles an hour. Wind gusts above that. It's extraordinary to even contemplate that.
We've also been talking about new CNN reporting tonight that the special counsel in the Russia investigation is going back 11 years, investigating possible tax and financial crimes of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. As you know, the special counsel's effort is just one of multiple investigations on Russian meddling in the election.
Joining me right now is Congressman Jim Himes of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Himes, I want to know what's your reaction to this reporting that Mueller's focus on Manafort this spans 11 years back to 2006.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, good evening, Anderson. It's a little hard to know and it's important that people understand that there's very little communications actually between the works that Robert Mueller is doing, the investigation that's being run by the FBI which could be very far ranging.
I mean, those of us who are old enough to remember the Clinton investigation which started out as an investigation of a land deal in Arkansas and we know that that wind up being an impeachment based on the allegations of perjury and misbehavior with an intern. So it's really hard to know where that could go.
And we don't talk to Bob Mueller all that much, but what I can tell you is just a sheer volume of activity and we've seen it in the press. CNN has broken some of this, you know, the purported picking of the lock and all those stories that are out there suggest that there is just a huge amount of work been doing on Paul Manafort. And from my standpoint, that that's interesting because Manafort is one of the, you know, two or three nexuses, maybe three or four nexuses between people who are very close to the Trump campaign and Russia. Joining of course Michael Flynn, with all of the contact with the ambassador, Don Jr. with the meeting with Russians. And, you know, now Manafort is a guy who worked for a President Yanukovych of Ukraine who is very, very close to Putin.
So clearly, there's the possibility that there was some sort of communication there and that's where we need to better understand.
[21:35 01] COOPER: When you see the -- you know, the tough tactics being used by Mueller's team, by the FBI, you know, according to the CNN's reporting, searching, going in with guns drawn, no knock, you know, searching Paul Manafort's wife for weapons, telling him that he's going to be indicted or is likely to be indicted. To you, does that seem they are wanting to turn him, to get him to flip on any information he may have?
HIMES: Well, that's one of the possibilities, no question. You sort of can't help but wonder about the very public nature of some of these statements about expecting indictment. And, again, because there's really not communication between the congressional investigation and the FBI investigation, I'm acting from, in this case, the same sort of information that your viewers are seeing through the press.
But yes, that's one possibility that there is a hope that Paul Manafort can be turned to testify against other people, other people presumably higher on the pecking order than he is. You know, there's also the possibility that they are really worried. That -- I mean, you know, if this is true, and if they sort of tediously entered the apartment, I mean, it's -- you know, there's not a lot of reason for that other than you think that there is evidence that could be very rapidly destroyed.
So, you know, as in so much else in this investigation, the facts that come out in the media raise just profound and difficult questions for us.
COOPER: Looking ahead to next week, I'm wondering what you're hoping to find out from Roger Stone when he appears in front of your committee on Tuesday.
HIMES: Well, I think one of the interesting things about Roger Stone is that he's another one of those nexuses to -- if not directly to the Russians. At least people who were being used by the Russians and of course, I'm referring to WikiLeaks right here. And, you know -- again, you can look up the Twitter history. Roger Stone predicted the release of the compromising information from the Hillary Clinton campaign from the DNC. He predicted that several days in advance and predicted it on John Podesta and said explicitly that he was in contact with Julian Assange who runs WikiLeaks.
So, we are really interested in understanding what the nature of that dialogue was because one of the things that we do know is that Wikileaks willingly or unwillingly, and people have different theories, was one of the mechanisms that the Russians used. So how can Roger Stone who's so close to the Trump campaign be getting information well before anybody else is. That's a key question.
COOPER: Congressman Himes, appreciate your time. Thank you.
As promised, a big night of news, we'll talk next about President Trump's blunt talk at the U.N. and the threat he leveled of North Korea.
And we're getting new information from Mexico, Mexico City. We'll bring it to you as we continue.
COOPER: New details from Mexico. At least 139 people died in the magnitude 7.1 earthquake officials said. Most deaths were reported in Puebla, (INAUDIBLE) and Mexico states in Mexico City. You've seen the images, rescue workers in hard hats and civilians of a Mexico City neighborhood digging through two-storey (INAUDIBLE) of rubble. Some carried away buckets full of debris. Volunteers called out the names of those possibly trapped under collapsed buildings. Videos and photos on social media showed.
President Enrique Pena Nieto says 27 buildings have collapsed in the capital. There's no putting a fine point on it, we'll obviously continue to follow those developments very carefully over the next several minutes and also several hours.
[21:40:03] But also, we want to turn to what happened at the United Nations in the General Assembly. President Donald Trump speaking to the General Assembly for the first time. Now, perhaps, it was hyperbole when he talked about wiping out North Korea or as he once called it truthful hyperbole. But President Trump warning to North Korea is certainly getting a lot of attentions so is his openly America first point of view and his openly skeptical view of the Iran nuclear deal. All of it was on display today at the U.N.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. "Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll get the panel's take in a moment. But first, I want to go to CNN's Jim Acosta at Trump Tower. No surprise to hear President Trump advocating for his America first agenda today at the U.N.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. And keep in mind this is somewhat in contrast with what President Trump said during the campaign trail as late as last December. He was saying at one of those thank you rallies in Fayetteville, North Carolina that gone are the days in the Trump administration of overthrowing governments and toppling regimes. Well, if you listen to the president's speech at the United Nations today, that was essentially what he was warning not only to North Korea but to Iran. I talked to a senior administration official earlier today who said, you can expect a new Iran policy from the Trump administration next month. And when asked whether or not this means they're going to be doing away with the Obama era Iran nuclear deal, this senior administration official strongly suggest that that is going to happen and said that they're now going to have a new comprehensive strategy when it comes dealing with Iran.
COOPER: The delegation from North Korea I understand they walked out before the president started speaking, only some junior diplomat was left there, is that right?
ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. And the North Korea delegation, the ambassador to the U.N. for North Korea basically said, yes, we boycotted President Trump's speech. And it was not hard to discern what the president was going to come out and say today. Senior administration officials were telling us yesterday that this was going to be a very tough speech.
Now, what we did not expect was the president to come out and refer to the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man". I'm told by a senior administration official that that was added into the speech just this morning. And the reason why is that the president wanted to make these warnings very clear, put it in very plain language. This official went on to say that you can even translate "Rocket Man" clearly into Chinese.
That was as plain as the president wanted to make his message to the United Nations today, and he certainly did that, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, Jim Acosta, appreciate that. Back now with the panel.
Kirsten, what do you make of it?
POWERS: Well, what's the message, the "Rocket Man" message? That doesn't even really make sense. I mean, that that's a serious diplomatic message to call him "Rocket Man"?
I mean, I think the serious message was --
TOOBIN: Excuse me. Does he speak Korean, not Chinese?
POWERS: Details, details. Yes, I mean, I think the bigger message is, you know, threatening to totally destroy North Korea, obviously. And, you know, there's nothing -- I actually didn't have that many problems with the speech overall. I think that, you know, North Korea is a major threat. I think it's important to highlight that, it's very important to let, you know, to tell other countries that you shouldn't be doing business with them and that we're very serious about this.
The problem with that is he basically -- it's a kind of a red line, right? I mean, when you make these kinds of threats, you need to be able to follow through on them. And -- so the idea that maybe he's just trying to scare him, and we don't know, you know, so North Korea will think he's unpredictable. But -- I mean, what's the difference between that and the red line and Syria?
JENNINGS: I was happy with the speech today. I think the reason he gave him a nickname is because he clearly gives nicknames to people he hates. He gave nicknames to all his primary permanent opponents.
You know, George W. Bush used to give nicknames to people that he likes. This guy gives nicknames to people that he doesn't like so he's given Kim a nickname. I thought it was a well-delivered speech. It was a clear message.
He needs the North Koreans and the Russians and the Chines to believe, we have a serious military option. And he's digging out of a hole because his stop strategist on his way out of the White House gave us an interview in which he said, there's no serious military option. So the president has to go back over this ground.
He weaved in humanitarian notes today, he mentioned PEPFAR which is a program near and dear to a lot of Republican hearts. It was a really detailed tour of world American engagement. George W. Bush could have given 95 percent of this speech and I think he made clear that America first does not mean America alone. And he sounded numerous times notes of asking for international cooperation.
I heard from a lot of Republicans today, very happy with the president.
BEGALA: Yes, not quite there. It was incoherent.
If in fact North Korea is such an existential threat that we have to seriously contemplate the death of millions of people on the Korean peninsula, why is he just "Rocket Man", right? To me those two don't go together.
I mean, build him up as such a great threat that for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans will use nuclear weapons, probably not against a rocket man, right? It's a -- to me, that was incoherent.
[21:45:06] But fundamentally, as (INAUDIBLE) who's a professor at (INAUDIBLE) tweeted this earlier today, if in fact Kim is on a suicide mission, then threatening to destroy him is not much of a deterrent since that's his goal. Again, internally incoherent.
The president talk a lot about America first to his supporters, he loves that. But America first stops at the Kremlin wall, right? Barack Obama in 2015 was very tough on Russia for their invasion of Ukraine, and talked about the sanctions that he put on Russia to punish them, referring to some 2012 sanctions probably with the Magnitsky Act that the Russians are so upset about. This president, not even a whole sentence. He just passes through. He said we must -- he did say, we must reject (INAUDIBLE) from the Ukraine and the South China Sea. By the way, the Ukraine is what we called Ukraine when it was part of the USSR, not an independent country. I'm not sure that we should parse this president's language that carefully the (INAUDIBLE) is the way I think Mr. Putin would call Ukraine rather than independent country (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Tara, were you surprised by what you heard today?
SETMAYER: No. I mean, nothing surprises me with Donald Trump, but there, you know, were parts of the speech that I thought that were really good and I agree with Scott. There were other parts where I felt the rocket man thing and some others where I felt the same pain that the chief of staff John Kelly did and anyone who saw the photographs of his pained facial expressions during the speech gets what I'm talking about. (INAUDIBLE) look it up.
But the parts that I thought were good, I thought were when he brought up the examples of how socialism is an evil, and how destructive that is for societies in bringing up Venezuela. And he actually -- that was probably one of the more eloquent parts of the speech and I give him credit for bringing that up because it's important. There's a humanitarian crisis going on there, and socialism is a failed experiment, it's never worked and he brought that up.
And the reaction at the U.N. I thought was very telling where some actually laughed in the background. I don't think the people in Venezuela who are suffering right now are laughing at how they've suffered under socialism. But that was very telling, and unfortunately, that could have been a good moment for him, but those kinds of positives get overshadowed when he goes on the petulant rants of rocket man and saying things that are incoherent.
There were things about the speech that were incongruent. Like, you can't say America first but then you're talking about how you want to be a part of the world and that we're going to, you know, be there for other nations. He got to pick one.
TOOBIN: I was struck by the Iran section because here of you have a treaty that is in effect now that has stopped the Iranian nuclear program. If we withdraw from this treaty, that means the Iranians are free to continue developing a nuclear weapon, and there are no more sanctions in place -- and our allies who wants us to stay in the treaty, England, France, even Russia is in this, they're going to trading -- there going to be no sanctions. So if we withdraw, there are no sanctions and there's no limit on the Iranian nuclear program. How is that a good thing?
COOPER: We have to take a quick break. Up next, the latest Senate GOP attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare. How they hope to get across the finish line this time when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:50:08] COOPER: There's a last ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare before a procedural deadline hits in 11 days. But the Graham-Cassidy Bill, the new Senate GOP healthcare bill suffers from some similar issues to the previous bill versions.
Our Phil Mattingly joins us now with more. So Phil, talk about this bill. What's the latest? Where do things stand?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, you're really seeing two fold. For Senate leaders, Anderson the work really starts now and they have a press timetable to actually to do it. They only have 11 days to actually get this done.
You think about this, this is a dramatic shift in what U.S. health care policy would actually look like. They're trying to get this all done in 11 days. They failed in the previous eight months of this iteration. So what they're trying to do right now is two fold.
One, just educate their members. What this bill would do is different than what we've seen in past Republican efforts here. Instead of maintaining some of the ObamaCare subsidies through tax credits, how people would be helped to pay for their plans, changes all together. It takes all of the money from the ObamaCare taxes, it takes the Medicaid expansion which would (INAUDIBLE) and put it into the block grants that would send out to states.
For individual senators from these states, figuring out exactly what that would mean for the state, how much money they would be getting, that's extremely important. Now, to move a little bit further in that, was also going to out behind the scenes I'm told from several sources right now is they know there are senators that are on edge right now, and they're trying to figure out deals. They're trying to figure out what it will take whether it'd be changing the funding formulas in those block grants. Whether there are specific items that they can give them to try and get this onboard.
Sounds familiar? It is. We've been through this multiple times. But again, this is it, this is their last opportunity and they're trying to figure it out.
COOPER: Is this going to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office? And my sense says it's not. And in terms of votes needed, where do Republicans stand at that point?
MATTINGLY: Yes, they'll get the bare minimum from the CBO and that's frankly a time issue right now. The CBO putting out a statement yesterday saying they're going to put out a preliminary report, and basically all they would do is check the box for the budget reasons. They'll be able to say how much it would and wouldn't add to the deficit. Coverage numbers, how much would it cost overall.
All of these things, premium totals, those won't be scored. Senate Republicans are going to vote on this kind of massive issue here (INAUDIBLE) to the economy and they're not going to have any of those numbers. Obviously Democrats crying foul about that. And some Republicans including Susan Collins of Maine have said that is a major concern for her. Republican leaders saying, she will likely be a no. Rand Paul, also put him in that category, Anderson.
So with 52 Republican senators, they need 50 to move this forward win and they've already lost two. They can't lose anybody else but I'm told right now as they are laser-focused on Lisa Murkowski, Alaska's senator voted against this the first time around. That's who they're targeting, that's who they're trying to (INAUDIBLE) with this bill.
Of course, you can't forget about John McCain. He is very upset with the process, he's very upset with how fast this is moving. And I can tell you right now, I've talked to just everybody in leadership, nobody knows where he's going to end up. If either of those individuals vote no, this thing goes down, Anderson.
COOPER: And you have said that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today having some choice of words saying, this new version is a quote, shammed and that millions will lose coverage. Certainly, Democrats are obviously nowhere near onboard.
MATTINGLY: Yes, I think that's safe to say. I think the big question for Democrats right now, Anderson, that everybody is trying to figure out is they've been so engaged, they've been able to activate their grassroots, these outside groups so effectively in past iterations of this effort. Can they do it again?
Think about it. Ten days ago, I was talking to the most senior members of the Republican leadership team, and they're saying this bill, we're not going to try it. There's no chance (INAUDIBLE) if we bring this up. We don't have the time, we don't have the bandwidth, and now they're just couple of votes away.
So Democrats trying as best they can to reactivate those groups. I'm told, expect a major outreach effort in the days ahead, and a major push from those groups to try and do exactly what they did the first couple of times around over the course of the next couple of days, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, appreciate it.
Coming up more on Hurricane Maria and the extreme threat it poses to Puerto Rico. The last time a category 5 storm hit there, the only time in fact, 1928. I'll speak to Puerto Rico's governor about what's happening there now and how people are trying to get ready.
[21:56:35] COOPER: The governor of Puerto Rico is leaving no uncertainty as Hurricane Maria approaches the island. He's warning of catastrophic damage, urging people to get to shelters. Joining me now on the phone is Governor Ricardo Rossello. Governor, what are conditions like there right now?
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Well, Anderson thank you for the opportunity. First of all, our prayers to (INAUDIBLE) in Mexico after the terrible earthquake that they -- just passed. But over here, the conditions are deteriorating rapidly, you know. We are expecting a very tough hurricane, worst hurricane in modern history in Puerto Rico.
So for the past couple of weeks -- days, we've been organizing. We can get people out of harms way, out of flooding regions, out of low level housings, and make sure they make their way to safe shelters.
COOPER: How many shelters do you have set up? And we're talking about 165 mile an hour sustained winds. As you said, it's like nothing most people have ever seen in Puerto Rico.
ROSSELLO (via telephone): Right. So, we have about 500 shelters opened and ready, they are concrete, they are out of flooding of regions so that we can make sure that people can pass through, can weather the storm, you know. But it's likely they're not going to be comfortable but at least they're going to be safe.
And this has been our key (INAUDIBLE), you know. We understand that infrastructure is going to be devastated and we're going to have to rebuild but our main focus is realizing that lives are not replaceable and infrastructure is.
COOPER: And just in terms of those buildings that are able to withstand those kind of winds, do you have them? I mean, are there many kind of new construction buildings with high building standards?
ROSSELLO (via telephone): Well, we have building standards, and many of those do possess that. They were designed so that they can withstand a category 5 wind. Some of them are just concrete buildings that stand a much better chance. I suspect that, you know, some of them won't stand it but we have (INAUDIBLE) in Puerto Rico.
So, again, our objective was to make sure that people just to get out of the flooding regions, (INAUDIBLE) to a concrete buildings, could have food and water accessible to them. And we've been working on that of course, not resting until we make sure that everybody in Puerto Rico is at a safe shelter.
COOPER: Is there still time for people to get to shelters at this point? I believe the hurricane is supposed to make landfall around early in the morning?
ROSSELLO (via telephone): It is. But right now, the conditions are starting to deteriorate. I mean, early in the morning, we're going to have sort of the eye of the storm and the hurricane type winds. But, you know, we implemented a protocol, it's a national protocol where once you get above sustained 50 mile an hour winds, we get the rescue workers out of harm's way, and then, you know, it's time to weather the storm.
But there's still time. Conditions are deteriorating. People (INAUDIBLE) so if you have family members that are in Puerto Rico, a friend that are in vulnerable areas, flooding areas, this is going to be a long storm, it's going to be a hard storm, so let's make sure that they survive it.
COOPER: Yes, well, Governor, we wish you and all the people of Puerto Rico the best. Governor Rossello, thank you very much. Stay safe. Our thoughts are of course with all the people of Puerto Rico and St. Croix, all the regions being affected.
Our hurricane and earthquake coverage continues now with Don Lemon in CNN TONIGHT.