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Price Forced Out Over Private Jet Scandal; Medical Care Hard to Find in Puerto Rico; Top Dem Disappointed With Twitter Presentation To Intel Committee; CNN Exclusive: Russians Bought Black Lives Matter Ad On Facebook Targeting People In Baltimore And Ferguson; Medical Supplies Running Short, Health Crisis Growing; Trump: Puerto Rico Recovery Going "Really Well"; ISIS Chief Breaks Silence In Threatening New Audio Message Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:15] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Price gouged. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is forced out, resigning after his extensive use of private jets was made public, infuriating President Trump. Now there are questions about other cabinet secretaries who have been chartering planes. Are their jobs now on the line?

Wiped out. The president paints a bleak picture of the devastation of Puerto Rico while praising his administration's response to the disaster. His acting homeland security secretary is now on the island. Is she satisfied with what she's seen?

Medical melt down. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes in search of desperately needed medical supplies in Puerto Rico. Hospitals are closed, or they're struggling to cope with difficult conditions. Are some survivors of the hurricane in danger of dying from the island's health care crisis?

And alive and threatening. A recording surfaces from the mysterious leader of ISIS months after the Russian government insisted he was dead. What chilling message is the ISIS leader sending to his terrorist army?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We are following breaking news. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is out. The White House says the president has just accepted Price's resignation following the controversy over his extensive use of private jets. Shortly before the announcement, President Trump said he was disappointed in Price, adding, quote, "I didn't like it, cosmetically or otherwise."

We're also following the hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, where there's fear of more flooding from heavy rain that's forecast to drench the island.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke is there. She faced criticism for calling the government response, quote, "a good news story." San Juan's mayor rebuked her, saying it's a, quote, "people are dying story."

And right now there is a concern about a growing health crisis. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on the island and reports that medical supplies are increasingly hard to find. Some hospitals are still closed. Others are struggling without power or communication.

We are covering all of that and more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Eric Swalwell of the House Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are standing by, as well.

Let's begin with the breaking news. Health Secretary Tom Price resigning, apparently forced to quit. And CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is working this story for us.

So Sara, the president was clear, he was not happy with Price's use of private jets.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It was not hard to figure out how President Trump felt about this. He was angry. He was frustrated, and he was perfectly happy to walk in front of the cameras and to talk about that. Here is just a selection of some of the things the president had to say about Tom Price.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see. I mean, we have -- he's a very fine man. But we're going to -- we're going to make a decision sometime tonight. He's a very, very fine man.

But I felt very badly, because Secretary Price is a good man. And I think it's a shame, because as a human being, Tom Price is a very good man, I can tell you. Look, I think he's a very fine person. I certainly don't like -- like the optics.

I'm disappointed in him. But he's a good man, but I'm disappointed.


MURRAY: A good man that will no longer be serving in this administration. Obviously, President Trump was extremely frustrated, extremely disappointed that Price made this decision to repeatedly use private jets for government business and to stick taxpayers with the tab.

Now Price came out. He basically said he was trying to solve this problem by writing a check that would cover a very small portion of what experts estimate the flights would have cost. And we're told by sources that that decision frustrated Trump even more and just exacerbated his anger. The notion that somehow it would fix the problem to write a check for just a sliver of the cost of those flights. Certainly not a controversy that the Trump administration or the president wanted to linger. And so they made a decision today -- Brianna. KEILAR: They made the decision today. Sara Murray at the White

House. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

So Jeff, you have some new reporting on just how angry the president was about all of this.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Brianna. It became clear that the president was -- knew that the only way to sort of move on from this was to get the resignation of his Health and Human Services secretary. He believed that this was overshadowing his agenda.

And after seeing the secretary do an interview last evening where he talked about how it was unprecedented that he was writing a check for these flights, I am told that the president simply did not find that believable. That that actually, as Sara was just reporting, the price of the check that he was going to write, just shy of $52,000 for plane rides that were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even a half million dollars, that simply was not sufficient.

[17:05:18] But, again the whole notion that the president thought that this was over shadowing his agenda, indeed his brand, about changing Washington, about draining the swamp as we heard candidate Trump say so many times. He knew he could not get over this.

And when the president was leaving the White House earlier this afternoon, I asked if he had confidence in him. And he said it's not a matter of confidence; it's matter of optics. So that is something that, I think, is a very instructive way to -- into how the president views this here, the optics of how taxpayer money was, indeed, spent.

The president also went on to say something interesting. He said, look, "Some of my cabinet secretaries are wealthy enough to afford their own planes, and that's OK. Those who can't will not be flying private commercial planes any more going forward here." So it certainly was a message to other members of the cabinet, as well, who have had a few reports of private aircraft, as well, Brianna.

But Tom Price tonight is getting this Friday treatment from this White House, submitting this resignation but, of course, was pushed to do that.

KEILAR: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thank you so much.

I want to get analysis now from our experts. We have Chris Cillizza with us and David Axelrod, as well.

So David, when you hear this, that Tom Price is gone. There was some question about whether or not the president would actually fire him. But this came pretty swiftly.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And I think wisely. This thing was -- was getting worse by the moment. The story was growing.

He still has the problem of other cabinet members. Secretary Zinke was pretty flippant about this in a speech today and said that he thought it was a bunch of B.S., even though he took private planes to his home town, he took private plane, apparently, to the Caribbean.

So the question is, is the rule going to be applied across the board, or is it just Tom Price who, frankly, wasn't in favor with the president after his handling of the whole health care debate?

And that's something that's going to have to be resolved. It can't just be a one-off.

I'll say one other thing about this, though. I have to say this. I've said it before. There is something odd about the president. Every time he's about to fire someone, he feels compelled to say they're a really good person. "He's a good person. But..." And I'm beginning to wonder whether he thinks being a good person is a good thing.

KEILAR: Well, I mean, he certainly seems to provide that as the consolation. That seems to be what's clear there.


KEILAR: Maybe he's trying to take the sting out of it.

AXELROD: Yes, that's the hearty handshake and "Here's the home game, and you're out."

KEILAR: That's right. All right. So, Chris Cillizza, David brings up a really interesting point, which is what's going to happen to other members of his cabinet. And particularly, I do think about Secretary Zinke, but then I'm also reminded, look, that was someone who one of his sons sort of identified and was instrumental and putting in place.

And it's also -- Secretary Zinke even went to bat for President Trump against an Alaska senator during the health care battle. Is this a different story?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: This is what's hard. So in a traditional presidency, you would have to think this through and say, "OK, what's our policy going to be? And how are we going to deal with these other issues we have."

Obviously, none of them are as bad in terms of number of flights, cost of flights that we know of right now as Price. So you could potentially draw a line there.

What's fascinating to me -- and you guys played it right at the top of the show, Trump's comments when he was still trying to leave some drama, although there wasn't much, about whether he was going to fire Tom Price or not, he says, "The optics aren't good. I didn't like the cosmetics of it." It gets, really, to the heart of who Donald Trump is, which is Tom Price wasn't really fired because he used private jets and it cost taxpayers a lot of money. He was really fired because it got bad headlines for the boss. That's Donald Trump. He watches TV. He does not like..

KEILAR: But what's the difference between that and, say, Secretary Mnuchin, whose wife goes on a trip with him, that the idea of looking into whether they really should have even been there. And he's using a government jet to considerable expense, and she's putting hashtags with "TomFord" on Instagram.


KEILAR: And it's very "Let them eat cake."

CILLIZZA: Because he's friends with Secretary Mnuchin.


CILLIZZA: Secretary Mnuchin, personal friend. Secretary Mnuchin is someone who comes from New York in the finance community and someone with real money of his own.

Donald Trump respects people who are rich. I mean, that is a fact. That is a proven fact. Look at his cabinet.

You could ask the same question of Jared Kushner. It's not clear to me how much he actually disclosed. It seems like he didn't disclose as much as he did. There are so many things. The private e-mail address. The meetings he had with various officials. These are things he just doesn't disclose.

[17:10:09] You could ask that same question: Why is Jared Kushner still around? Now, the answer to that one is easier: because you can't fire family.

KEILAR: David, what...

CILLIZZA: But I do think personal relationships, Brianna, go -- he's willing to give you more rope if he views you on his level, which usually is determined by wealth, and if he has a personal relationship with you.

With Price, you know, it's a member of Congress. He was fine with him, but ultimately totally expendable and Trump expent him.

KEILAR: What do you think?

Look, I think that Chris makes an important point. What they really need is a policy, and the policy needs to be enforced. There is no policy here. This was a selective kind of firing. And it's not going to end the controversy, because there were other issues that -- that continue to haunt him.

The second point is that it's very tough, when the president sends out signals that he's very selective about ethics and ethics rules when there's no uniform standard that he and others abide by. It's very hard, then, to expect the people below you to behave in a way that is ethical.

So these are two issues that are left unresolved. The optics of Tom Price may be resolved here. The optics of the larger stench is not removed.

KEILAR: And he's got a lot of people who have -- there was what was really this sort of, you know, one, two, three punch there for a while of folks leaving. This is slightly delayed by that.

But the chief of staff gone. You know, he lost his national -- his first national security adviser.

CILLIZZA: Three communications directors.

KEILAR: Oh, my goodness. So look, we've got this whole list of people.

CILLIZZA: The chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

KEILAR: Chief strategist Steve Bannon.

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, look, there's -- it is -- David can speak to this better than I. All White Houses have turnover, because...

KEILAR: And here's a full list by the way.

CILLIZZA: It's a very difficult job that's very time consuming. Almost no White Houses, and I can't speak that eloquently to the White House of Zachary Taylor, but almost no modern White House has this much turnover in -- I was going to say in the first year, but the first eight-plus months. Particularly at such a high level. And when you're talking about the chief of staff being gone.

KEILAR: That's right.

CILLIZZA: The chief strategist being gone. Three communications directors. I mean, these are senior level people.

KEILAR: You know, Chris? You know what? I think back to covering Capitol Hill, and it's shorthand to say, "Oh, well, they've had three communications directors in three years." That's shorthand for that is a really difficult member of Congress.

CILLIZZA: Boss. Exactly. Well, breaking news, I think Donald Trump might be a difficult boss to work for.

KEILAR: Very difficult.

CILLIZZA: Because to David's point, he is not just mercurial as it relates to issues or Twitter. He's mercurial about everything.

So I think part of his M.O. as a manager is to keep you always guessing. You never know where you stand with him. That leads to, I think, people doing things, stress levels, people leaving. I mean, you saw Dubke, the communication director, just simply walk away. KEILAR: But David, not only is that saying, "Oh, that's a difficult

boss. I mean, it's also -- that turnover is -- it's just an easy shortcut to say there's a lot of time spent on not getting stuff done.

AXELROD: Well, that's the thing. There are two reasons why people are forced out. One is scandal. And the other is failure. They've had a lot of both in the first eight months. And not a whole lot of success.

Now, I think John Kelly has gotten the White House under a degree of control that didn't exist before. But the problem always persists as to the man on top. And the ability to control him.

But basically, they've had a lot of controversy. A lot of failure. Some scandal. And not a lot of success. And that results in a lot of turnover. And the question is whether a team is put in place that can have greater success, but some of that depends on the president's own behavior, which is a big question mark.

KEILAR: OK, gentleman, stand by for me for just a moment.

Coming up, the growing medical crisis in Puerto Rico. Supplies are increasingly hard to find. CNN is there. Trump administration says it's doing everything that it can.


TRUMP: The disaster and the response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.



[17:19:00] KEILAR: Following the latest developments in Puerto Rico's hurricane disaster. And right now the island is actually bracing for more heavy rain, possibly some flooding as a result of that. And with hospitals already struggling, medical supplies are now running short. They are just increasingly hard to find in many places.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is there for us. And Sanjay, you found out firsthand just how difficult the situation is.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Brianna. Let me just point out I'm back in San Juan. We're out and about today quite a bit, seeing what's happening around the country.

You can hear -- I don't know if you can hear that, Brianna, or not but salsa music in the background, I point that out, because really, the first sign of life, I think, among any of these businesses or anything that I've heard since I've been here. So you know, that's a little bit of a good sign obviously, here in San Juan.

But you start to get outside of San Juan, and it's a very different picture. There's this town, Loiza, Brianna, it's about an hour away. I've been there a few times now. Each time I go, I'm looking for signs of relief, signs of some sort of relief from FEMA or other organizations. Still haven't seen that.

[17:20:07] But we are starting to see some private organizations come in. Project HOPE, for example, was there today. Another organization called Direct Relief was there today. They are trying to offer private help, donations, volunteer workers, coming in and trying to do something.

But, again, just because that music is getting louder, it's kind of a little bit of an uplifting feeling, a little bit at least here in San Juan, to hear that music and hear that life starting to return a little bit here to the city.

KEILAR: You know, Sanjay, I was talking to the spokesperson for DHS today. And I tried to get -- they tried -- he was saying that they have contact with hospitals. And I was asking if these individual hospitals are all on the radar of DHS. And he seemed to indicate they were, but there was a lack of specifics.

What's your understanding of hospitals, which are such a critical point for the government to be in touch with? What's your understanding of how much of an open channel they have with the government?

GUPTA: I think it's very challenged. And I think it's a very important point, Brianna, because you keep hearing numbers, some 70 hospitals. You hear 44 are now open. Somebody said 29. Then 54 I heard.

There's two issues here. One is the one that you just raised. It's near impossible to establish communications with some of these hospitals. Certainly not any kind of reliable communication. So you just don't know. Just don't know. And that's many of the hospitals.

The second thing is, while they may be up and functioning for a period of time, they may get six hours of diesel, for example, that...

KEILAR: Oh, no, we just lost Sanjay's signal there, so we're going to try to reestablish that and get more information. But as he was saying there, a lot of communications issues with the most crucial parts of Puerto Rico, the hospitals.

I want to get more now on all of this with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.

I do want to talk to you about Puerto Rico. But first I want to ask you about Tom Price, a former colleague of yours. What's your reaction to the news that he has resigned?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Brianna. It was time for him to go. He had lost the confidence of the American taxpayer. He had wasted millions, at least a million now, on excessive travel.

And also, I think this is an opportunity to bring in a new Health and Human Services secretary and have a health care reset in our country. Someone who can work with Republicans and Democrats to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and not sabotage it. So I see this as an opportunity.

KEILAR: You are part of a relatively small club there, being a part of the House. Did you know him well or sort of know of him well enough to have an initial impression to news that hundreds of thousands of dollars, taxpayer dollars were spent on planes?

SWALWELL: Brianna, no, I didn't. And I don't think Republican or Democratic members would, you know, support that or approve of that. You know, it's not a partisan issue at all.

KEILAR: Yes, I imagine some were surprised, considering of his history with Budget Committee and everything.

I do want to ask you about Puerto Rico, though. Such a pressing story that we're following. Do you think Congress is doing enough to help right now?

SWALWELL: No, Congress should act immediately. And we always, when a disaster strikes, we speak with one voice. And we provided aid immediately after Harvey hit Texas. We should do the same now for Puerto Rico.

Now, and Brianna, just a few weeks before Puerto Rico was hit, Hurricane Irma hit the Dutch islands of St. Martin. and it was actually Puerto Rico who welcomed Americans who were stranded there and had to wait for Hurricane Jose to pass through. And so just two weeks later they have been hit, and so we should help them and really step up in Congress as soon as possible.

KEILAR: What needs to be in the aid package?

SWALWELL: Well, of course shelter and food and supplies. That's the immediate need. But then rebuilding Puerto Rico.

And I think it's unfortunate that the president wants to dwell on Puerto Rico's financial issues. I think this is an opportunity to provide them with an economic stimulus, with infrastructure and, you know, create jobs down there in a place that desperately is going to need new opportunities.

KEILAR: Do you think that Congress will be able to band together? You said that Congress should speak with one voice. Will they be able to?

SWALWELL: We have to. We can't wait as long as we saw happen with Hurricane Sandy, which was about 90 days that the people in the New York-New Jersey area had to wait.

The people in Puerto Rico need relief now. They don't need to hear anyone pat themselves on the back about how the relief effort is going. They need shelter. They need food. They need water. They need doctors. And they need a path forward to get the electricity and cell towers working again. [17:25:07] KEILAR: There's been a lot of criticism of the Trump

administration, how it's handled Puerto Rico, if it's been fast enough to respond to the hurricane damage there. A lot of it coming, of course, from your party, the Democratic Party.

But I was speaking with the spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, and he said as difficult as it is to hear in a moment like this, you can't get things there fast enough to make people happy. And the best that you can really do is reassure them that it's on the way. And he insisted that everything that is -- that could be done is being done. Do you feel that that's true?

SWALWELL: No. No, Brianna, I don't. We have a tremendous amount of resources in our military that can move supplies down there much faster. We also have allies like Mexico and other countries who would step up and have offered to assist us, and we should take them up on that.

But, Brianna, there's also the symbolism here. While this was happening, the president could have been talking to the country about what we need to do to help Puerto Rico. And instead he was insulting African-American football players. And again, I think if you're a Puerto Rico can and see this, you just see an unfocused commander in chief when you are in a time of great need.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman Swalwell, stay with me. We have so much more to talk about ahead. Of course, there were Twitter officials on Capitol Hill, talking to members of Congress, including a committee that you sit on, so we're going to want to get your input on that. We'll be back after a quick break.


[17:31:11] KEILAR: We're back now with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee which is very important because Twitter officials met behind closed doors yesterday with House and Senate Intel Committee staffs to discuss Russian efforts to use Twitter during the 2016 election. I wonder what you thought about that, what your staff thought about this briefing, Sir. Because Senator Mark Warner told CNN he was really disappointed by it, he said he it showed a serious lack of understanding of the seriousness of the issue. What did you think, what did your staff think?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, what I can say, Brianna, is we know that Russian ran a pretty sophisticated interference campaign that weaponized social media including Facebook and Twitter and other platforms. And what we expect of all social media companies is we're not seeking to, you know, ascribe blame. We -- now that we know, we think there's a responsibility to look back and tell us just what Russia did. But also, to have a real conversation about what can we do to secure future elections and make sure that our freedoms of speech are not used against us. And I think we all have an interest in doing this cooperatively and collaboratively and showing unity. And so, that's what we're seeking to do right now. KEILAR: Facebook has been criticized as being a little late to the

game on acknowledging how big the problem is, but clearly, they're starting to take some steps. And one of the things that really frustrated Senator Warner was that -- well, in addition I should say, generally, people are frustrated because Twitter allows bots unlike Facebook. But when they came in, the Twitter folks came in for this briefing, they had suspended it turned out about 200 accounts but they were all linked to Facebook accounts that had already been identified by Facebook. Does Twitter need to do more? Is it up to these social media companies to be more pro-active?

SWALWELL: Brianna, I believe, yes, you know, we do live in a free speech culture that we all value. That was our -- that's our greatest strength but Russia turned it into a weakness. And we have to find a balance against, you know, sensoring people for what they -- what they want to say on Twitter but also making sure that Russia's intelligence service aren't using bots against us. And that's why I think just cooperating, being forthcoming, is the best way to do this. Not having to be served with a subpoena. That shows disunity, and that just emboldens Russia to really just, you know, drive another truck through the chaos here in the United States.

KEILAR: We know now it's pretty extraordinary, too, that these fake social media accounts targeted Black Lives Matter ads towards voters in Fergusson, also in Baltimore, clearly trying to exploit racial division in the U.S. Do you know from your position on House intel or just being a member of Congress, do you understand or have you gained any understanding about how the Russians new exactly where to target those ads? Were they just following the headlines?

SWALWELL: We're seeking to understand that now. Because, Brianna, you know, when you look at some of these ads, one of them said #growaspinevotejillstein. You know, that's using an American colloquialism, an idiom. And idioms are often lost in translation. And so, I would expect that the smartest political scientist in Russia would still have a hard time speaking the language politically to Americans. And so, this suggests that there may have been, you know, inside help from the United States. So, that's part of what we're trying to understand. We're also trying to look at the ads that were used.

KEILAR: Wait, is that -- is that -- is that -- I mean, obviously, it sounds like you don't have confirmation of that, but that's one of your real concerns that there could have been some sort of assistance by someone inside of the U.S. knowingly helping Russian intelligence, or not necessarily?

[17:35:03] SWALWELL: My biggest concern is whether somebody in the United States worked with Russians intelligence services as they wrote these ads and targeted Americans that they knew who exactly to target and that the copy of the ads was tailored in a way that it would be credible to an American audience. You know, some of these ads are so off beat that it's clear that they probably weren't written by an American with any knowledge of our political system.

KEILAR: And some may be raised that question for you, very interesting. All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks so much, Sir.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

KEILAR: Coming up, we have more on the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, forced out of President Trump's cabinet after days of scandals surrounding his hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded travel on private jets. Plus, a new message from the leader from ISIS, apparently alive and directing new threats towards Americans.


[17:40:33] KEILAR: President Trump says his administration has done an incredible job tackling the crisis in Puerto Rico. But the conditions on the ground are dire, with food, water, medical equipment as well, all in short supply. Let's bring back our political specialists to talk about this. OK. So, you heard, Chris Cillizza, you heard the President talking about it where he says that the recovery is going really well.


KEILAR: You know, is that -- I guess, the first question is just match that against reality.

CILLIZZA: Well, so, I compare it to when kids would make fun of me in junior high school for not having a girlfriend, and I'd be like, I have a beautiful girlfriend, she loves in Montana. None of you no her. Like, it's kind of the same thing --

KEILAR: You didn't really have a girlfriend, did you, Chris?

CILLIZZA: No comment. He's overcompensating because he -- what does he do? He watches television, right? He watches lots and lots of cable television. He knows that the narrative right now is that he got caught flat-footed here, that he was focused on the NFL, that he was focused on the Alabama special election, that he was not as focused on Puerto Rico as he was in Florida and Texas. And that these are American citizens. So what does he do? He creates a narrative that fits in better. Everyone is saying we're doing great. The Governor of Puerto Rico just said we're awesome, we're doing -- we've saved many lives. It's a story he tells to himself. He does the same thing on Russia, he does the same thing on healthcare. Remember we were talking yesterday, he said, we have the votes on health care. Everyone said, no, you don't. But it -- he creates a story that is more beneficial to him.

Unfortunately, as you point out, Brianna, that the facts on the ground still significant amount of people without power, drinking water low, food low, the credit card system is still not working, working in sort of an all-cash economy. I mean, you know, so he tries to -- he doesn't even try to reconcile these two things.

KEILAR: He can't even get -- yes.

CILLIZZA: He just kind of puts out his own version and his supporters believe it.

KEILAR: If folks can even get cash, which is also an issue as we understand it. We've seen the video of people using gutters from homes, and streams created from rainwater and using that to wash their hair, to fill buckets so that they can drink. And the Mayor of San Juan painting a very different picture than the governor, right?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. It's completely devastating, Brianna. And the pictures don't lie. And that is what's make it so difficult for the President to get out there and try to market a completely different story than what we are seeing on the ground in Puerto Rico. And that's going to be challenge for President Trump and this administration going forward is to show a different side of this story, the side that they want told, that this is a great success, that they're doing fine. This situation in Puerto Rico is expected to deteriorate even further as time progresses, as this situation on the ground gets worse, people still need access to food and water. And then, you know what will President Trump say then as the pictures showed just this complete devastation.

KEILAR: David Axelrod, as someone who served in the White House that obviously dealt with disasters and certainly had strong connections to them while they did deal with, say, you know, Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath of that. The truth is these are very difficult things to deal with, right?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, without question. And, you know, the one thing that we learned, and we learned the hard way early in the administration, is it isn't even enough. It is essential to get your arms around these very difficult problems and throw everything you can at it and do it in an organized and efficient way. But --and sometimes they don't easily yield to those efforts. It's also important to express empathy and support for the people who are suffering. And the problem with what the President is doing is in his zeal to defend himself, he is sending a message to those people in Puerto Rico that they are not foremost on his mind, this is not what he is concerned about. They are about a political problem for him.

And Presidents have to have that element of empathy, that element of connection, that sense of advocacy for people in times of crisis, it is extraordinarily important. And the fact that he just can't get there. Now, maybe he'll have another chance on Tuesday when he goes to Puerto Rico. He did recover when he went down to Texas after being criticized, frankly, by me and others for lack of empathy. Perhaps he can do that. But this has been a big problem. So it's been an organizational issue and a response issue. But also, a leadership and empathy issue which is really serious.

[17:45:08] KEILAR: David -- go on.

BERG: But remember what President Trump also said when he was on the ground in Texas, which was how he was getting great reviews, how his administration was doing such a great job with that recovery. And you wonder, is that going to be the President Trump that we see in Puerto Rico and will that be -- you know, that would be serious tone deaf with what's happening on the ground?

AXELROD: There is -- yes. There is a pathological element to this. I mean, let's be honest about it, there is a pathological element to this. Donald Trump is always the center of his own story. And he very rarely -- I can't remember a time when he's really effectively expressed empathy for others in situations like this. And it's a -- it's a real barrier for him when crises like these emerge. And as Chris points out, there's the added element of the way he responded in Texas and Florida as opposed to Puerto Rico, where today, he had callously sent out a memo or a tweet, I should say -- he doesn't do memos -- tweets saying that we're going to have to look at how we pay for the significant cost of rebuilding Puerto Rico, suggesting that there's going to be a big debate about this. Where is the sense of urgency that we saw when Texas had these problems, when Florida had these problems?

CILLIZZA: And remember too -- just very quickly, remember too that David's point, even in his first tweets about Puerto Rico, what did it say? Puerto Rico utterly devastated, much debt and bad infrastructure. Which is it sounds like --

KEILAR: He -- that's not the first time he's referenced that.

CILLIZZA: Yes, that's true, but maybe don't say it right now while people are sort of trying to grind out the most basic survival down there.

KEILAR: And a quick plus for David Axelrod's podcast, this weekend's episode of "THE AXE FILES", because you speak with James Baker, former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. This is on CNN. He's also -- he's also the Secretary of State under H.W. Bush as well. And so, we are going to be watching that tomorrow at 7:00. David Axelrod, thank you very much. Right here on CNN.

AXELROD: Thank you.

KEILAR: All right, guys, thanks so much. Really appreciate it. And coming up, the head of ISIS breaking his silence, dispelling rumors of his death with a new audio message. We're going to have details on the latest threat from the terror chief.


[17:52:07] KEILAR: After months of silence and swirling rumors of his death, the head of ISIS apparently just released a new message, and it's full of new threats towards Americans. Brian Todd has details on the latest audio recording from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, tonight, the ISIS leader is calling on his terrorist followers to launch attacks inside the borders of America and its allies. We've got new information now on the hunt for Baghdadi and on his operational security.


TODD: He's been called a ghost and the invisible sheikh. So mysterious, only this one video from 2014 exists of him. For months, the Russian government had said he was dead. Tonight, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of ISIS, is apparently alive and calling on what's left of his terrorist army to attack the U.S. and its allies.

ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI, HEAD, ISIS (through translator): Carry on your jihadyou're your blessed operations. Let not the crusaders enjoy life in their homelands while your brothers are subjected to bombardment and destruction.

TODD: The new audio message running more than 45 minutes is, experts say, a clear directive.

Any doubt that that's a call for ISIS to launch attacks inside America?

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA ANALYST: What ISIS wants to do is show that they are a virile, powerful organization. And what better way to show that is to lunch attacks wherever these folks are, whether it's in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, or elsewhere. And so, this is Baghdadi in the bunker.

TODD: U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN they have no reason to doubt the tape's authenticity. The message does appear to have been recorded recently. It references the nuclear threat from North Korea and current Syrian peace talks. What's not clear is why the message was released now. Could Baghdadi be trying to regain command and control?

PERITZ: We know that he had delegated a lot of his efforts to his underlings. His successor has been trying to get things going in a lot of places. But as we've seen, pushing out for complex operations such we saw in France and in the U.K. and elsewhere is extremely difficult.

TODD: A U.S. official tells CNN the American-led coalition has tried to take several shots at Baghdadi in recent months and thought they had their best shot at killing him in a recent airstrike. But getting him has proven challenging. Baghdadi is said to have an obsession with his own security. Analysts say he covers his face, even when meeting with his most trusted lieutenants and makes them place cell phones in a lead-lined box. But experts say he's also got an Achilles' Heel.

MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": And his personal proclivities I've heard -- I've heard it from various sources might give the game away. For instance, Baghdadi has kept a consortium of sex slaves. He's taken Yazidi women, some of whom -- one of whom at least has escaped his clutches as his own personal chattel.

TODD: If he's alive, which the new tape suggests, the ISIS leader could be running out of places to hide. The coalition says more than 33,000 square miles of territory in Syria and Iraq are clear of ISIS, and more than 6 million people have been freed from ISIS control.


[17:55:14] TODD: Analysts say this audio message may only intensify the coalition's hunt for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That intelligence agencies are likely combing through the audio for any clues to his whereabouts. If they can successfully target him, it could put ISIS even more on the ropes. One expert told us that of a possible replacement for al-Baghdadi, quote, all the usual suspects have been killed. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Brian Todd, thank you. And we have some breaking news next, Health Secretary Tom Price forced to resign over a private jet scandal. Do other cabinet secretaries who use private planes have their jobs on the line tonight?