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NEW DAY SATURDAY
HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns Amid Private Jet Scandal; Trump Brags About "Incredible" Results After Hurricane; Massive Lines Form For Vital Supplies, Food, Clean, Water; Thousands Of Containers Of Aid Remain Stuck At Port; First Lady Vows To Combat American's Opioid Crisis; Ohio Officer Drops Uniform Patrol Car to Help Addicts. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired September 30, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:00:00] SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: -- Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Price knows better. He railed against people using private jets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was time for him to go. He had lost the confidence of the American taxpayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parts of Puerto Rico are at risk for flash flooding this weekend.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not rest until the people of Puerto Rico are safe.
RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: We're taking food, water, and medicine everywhere. We would like it to be quicker. Of course, it's not where it needs to be, but we recognize that there is a limitation in terms of the logistical support to get there.
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: We're dying here. We're truly are dying here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm tired of the president always talking about how much it's going to cost. It's costing lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So grateful to have you with us here on a Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: Well, he was caught flying high on the taxpayers' dime essentially and now Tom Price is flying home.
SAVIDGE: I wonder how he's getting there. He is the first casualty of President Trump's cabinet, forced to resign as Health and Human Services Secretary after days of questions and revelations over his air travel.
PAUL: And this morning as the White House tries to clamp down on pricey flights, President Trump is spending days dealing with the unfolding crisis in Puerto Rico we've been watching.
SAVIDGE: The mayor of San Juan, delivering an emotional plea for help more than a week after Maria devastated the island. This morning, more bad weather is unfortunately on the way and President Trump is promising more help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe. These are great people. We want them to be safe and sound and secure, and we will be there every day until that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: President Trump is spending the third straight weekend at his New Jersey golf resort. This morning, CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us here in New Jersey. It has certainly been a really tough week for a lot of people, including the president.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Christi, the removal of yet another high-profile administration official on a Friday afternoon really capped what was another difficult week for Donald Trump in his administration, and let's just run down exactly what happened during this very busy week. Of course, last night Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services forced to resign after the scandal surrounding the use of private planes. Earlier in the week, though, the Trump administration criticized for the slow response and the slow amount of effort that it took to get aid to 3.5 million Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. That, of course, earlier in the week, the official failure of yet another attempt by this administration and the Republican Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare when the votes were just not there for the Graham-Cassidy plan.
Then, of course, on Tuesday, Donald Trump's favored candidate Luther Strange loses in the race for Senate in Alabama and a different candidate will now be on the ballot in December there on the Republican line. And then, of course, the very beginning of the week on Sunday when NFL players across the league were in basic unison protesting Donald Trump's response to them in a rally for that Senate candidate -- where he called NFL players who chose to kneel during the anthem to protest racial inequality as SOBs. It has been another bumpy week for the Trump administration, but they feel that their response to Puerto Rico is improving and they also believe there was some swift action taken as it relates to Tom Price and they're hoping that they can regain their footing begin next week on a much stronger note.
PAUL: Well, a lot of people are watching, of course, Ryan, as we know, as they always do. And I want to read a tweet from Lim-Manuel Miranda, he is the Creator and Star of Hamilton, another Broadway show, and he wrote this on Twitter. "@realDonald Trump, 16 dead Americans on your watch and rising. You're golfing again this weekend while families die and wait for water." Do we know what the president has planned moving ahead for Puerto Rico? He is -- he's going there is it on Tuesday?
NOBLES: Yes, he's going to be there next week, I believe it is Tuesday that he's going to travel to the region. But I think to your point here, Christi, and to Miranda's point as well, there is an optics question about the president spending yet another weekend at one of his private resorts, leaving the White House and leaving Washington. He's not scheduled to play golf this weekend but he is going to attend a golf tournament tomorrow -- the President's Cup which is actually taking place here in New Jersey. And you know, with all this controversy surrounding the use of private planes to get cabinet secretaries around the country, the president is yet again using an enormous taxpayer expense for the security and his travel and his family's travel to get here into New Jersey. So, there is an optics problem for this White House as they try and get out from underneath this latest controversy.
PAUL: Yes, and it just doesn't seem to be focused solely on Tom Price as the president talked about that optics issue. Ryan Nobles, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
[07:05:12] SAVIDGE: And we're going to talk about it some more because joining me now: CNN Political Analyst and White House Correspondent for the New York Times, Michael Shear; Congressional Reporter for Politico, Elana Schor; and Former Ethics Lawyer for George W. Bush, the White House, Richard Painter. Thank you all for being with us this morning.
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure, happy to do it.
ELANA SCHOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER FOR POLITICO: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Michael, let me start with you. Hours before Price resigned, the president told reporters that he didn't like the optics of Tom Price flying private jets at the cost of taxpayer money at about a million dollars, I believe. So, was it really the bad headlines that sort of doomed Price?
SHEAR: Well, to some extent. I mean, these are -- this is sort of your classic Washington scandal, bad headlines that started with politico, and really politico drove this story with kind of one headline and one story and one revelation after another. But it's also -- you have to think about: in order to survive one of these scandals in Washington, you have to have friends somewhere. And inside the administration, Tom Price had utterly failed to do the one thing that President Trump had wanted, which was to repeal and replace Obamacare. So, you know, he didn't have many friends inside the White House.
And outside the White House, he was -- his history before coming HHS secretary was being a Conservative Republican lawmaker, and conservatives really saw him as somebody who was going to stick to the fiscal discipline, saving money and so the idea on Capitol Hill that his fellow conservatives looked at him and saw a guy who was, you know, spending all of this taxpayer money at a time when the message to the base is supposed to be, hey, we're -- you know, we're saving you money, we're not the Obama administration, we're actually taking taxpayer dollars and saving them instead of spending them. He didn't have any friends there either. So, between all of that when the headlines started, there was just no real way that he was going to survive this long-term.
SAVIDGE: Yes, no one was going to throw him a lifeline. Last night, they have a new record which should set out guidance to White House staff saying that all air travel, except commercial, now has to be approved by Chief of Staff John Kelly. When you worked for the White House, was that ever an issue?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER ETHICS LAWYER FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh, yes. We insisted on approving all travel on noncommercial air by the presidential appointees. And I had several of those requests that I dealt with and we'd rarely approve it. If you needed a charter plane to go up somewhere from the Roswell for Alaska or something like that, we'd sign off on it, but we did not want administration appointees jet-setting around, either at the expense of the taxpayer or third- party companies and others paying to put people on private planes, so we just don't do that. That's incompatible with public service.
And I'm shocked this is going on because we've got several of them, we've got the Treasury Secretary now, we've got the Interior Secretary, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, they're all using the private planes. And now, there's the president of United States himself, now he's entitled to do it, to go on vacation, but a vacation every week? Every other week? You know, he's setting the wrong tone here and this is a serious problem. It's not the most serious problem we've found this week. I mean, the e- mail thing and people using personal e-mail which could be compromised by the Russians since they've been in contact with the Russians. I'd be a lot more worried about that and trying to make sure nothing was compromised there.
SAVIDGE: We'll get to that in a moment. Let me just stop you there, because I want to bring in Elana. Elana, the question is simple: the end of what has been a week of a lot of setbacks, how does the White House regroup?
SCHOR: Well, it's going to be extremely difficult. Because, as pointed out, Tom Price is not the only cabinet secretary in trouble on Capitol Hill. You have the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for data on the travel by the Interior Secretary, on the special soundproof booth created by the EPA administrator. So, there are just going to be Republicans now jumping on, picking at this government waste issue and that is what's going to make it hardest for the White House to regroup.
SAVIDGE: Richard, I know, to try to clean things up a bit, Price was saying that he was going to pay back 52,000. That's about five percent, I guess, of what was owed. Do you think he's going to pay up now?
PAINTER: I don't know. He has shown terrible judgment and including when he was in Congress, trading stocks, and healthcare companies. While he's working on a health legislation, exposed himself to an insider trading investigation. I don't know what's going on there. So, I do not know whether he's going to pay any of that back or what he's going to do but he has not shown good judgment. He is not alone in this administration in showing very, very poor judgment. We've had quite a few administration officials who simply don't understand what it means to be a public servant.
[07:10:15] SAVIDGE: Right. And he's not, as you point out, the only one to have some issue when it comes to using private air travel, Michael. So, could you -- could there be more resignations to come over this?
SHEAR: Well, there could. I mean, I think that from what we know at the moment Secretary Price's travel was perhaps the most egregious in terms of the amount of money spent and the amount of travel and the kind of travel that could have been done other ways far cheaper. But I think we just don't know yet, and this is an administration, as we know there have been many -- he was the first as cabinet secretary to leave, but there've been many departures from this administration in less than a year. And so, you know, I don't think you can say with any certainty that there won't be any more departures and depending on the news that comes out in the next days and weeks, we'll have to see what happens.
SAVIDGE: Elana, this was the first cabinet member, I believe. How significant is that to see someone so close to the president fired?
SCHOR: I mean, it's especially significant also because it comes after this failure of Obamacare. And there was actually a lot of chatter among Republicans on the Hill about Tom Price's non-presence during this debate. It was CMS Administrator, Seema Verman, it was Vice President Mike Pence, who was coming up there to rally the troops through these repeated Obamacare failures. Tom Price was not really there. So, I think it's going to be really interesting to see whether he attempts to nominate someone, that is the president, very soon because that Senate confirmation will be very difficult.
SAVIDGE: It will indeed. Elana Schor, Michael Shear, and Richard Painter, thanks to all of you.
PAUL: Well, the mayor of San Juan is begging for help this morning. There are millions of people who are struggling still to find food, to get clean water, to get medical supplies. We're going to share with you her emotional plea for that island.
SAVIDGE: Plus, more bad news could be on the way for Puerto Rico. The threat of flash flooding, mudslides -- that is going to be a major issue today. We'll get a live report from the CNN Weather Center. That's up next.
PAUL: And law enforcement, going beyond the call of duty to combat the opioid crisis. Why one officer hung up his uniform to help save addicts. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm there to convince them to live. I am convincing them that they have a second chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:16:47] SAVIDGE: Please save us from dying. That's the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, begging for more aid after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
PAUL: Yes. She criticized the U.S. government for their response to the disaster thus far and gave this emotional appeal on CNN last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: I have to get the voice of our people out there. I lived in the United States for 12 years. I went to school there. I had my child there in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I know what the U.S. heart is all about. You know, you are an intelligent, caring people, so I just don't understand why things have become so complicated and the logistics are so insurmountable.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got to say it hurts me so much to hear so many people on this island to say to me and say to reporters, we're Americans. We're Americans, that they have to explain that as if we shouldn't know that. I mean, that -- I just find that so -- I mean, I think it says something about the way people here feel about the way things have been handled.
CRUZ: There's a lot of linked history. There is a lot of cross moving. There are people in Orlando, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston. Every time there is a problem, we are the kind of people that share our sorrows but also share our triumphs, and we just don't understand, and sorry, maybe I'm too tired. I get a little emotional, but, you know, we're dying here. We truly are dying here and I keep saying it. SOS. If anyone can hear us. You know, if Mr. Trump can hear us, let's just get it over with and get the ball rolling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: And that plea was coming from the mayor as millions of Puerto Ricans struggle to find vital supplies. Just look at the lines around the island yesterday, people waiting for hours, no guarantee that any food, water or gas will be left when they finally get to the front of that line.
PAUL: Well, CNN Correspondent Boris Sanchez is live from San Juan right now. So, Boris, help us understand the discrepancy that we're hearing this morning: President Trump saying look, this response has been, you know, incredible, local officials said people are dying because they don't have supplies. What is happening there this morning? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Things are incrementally improving
on the island of Puerto Rico, though, unevenly. I'll give you an example: yesterday we were standing in a gas line that was absolutely massive. It was more than a quarter mile long. People were waiting for hours just to get their hands on some gasoline. As a matter of fact, the gentleman that was at the very front of that line got there at 9:00 p.m. the night before. They ran out of gas, and so he just parked his car there. He figured he didn't have anywhere better to be, slept there overnight, waiting for the sun to come up and more gas to get there.
Yesterday they got another shipment of gasoline and fuel while we were sitting there. So, they certainly have the resources. But at about 6:30 p.m., they had to shut down for security reasons because there's no electricity on that block and once the sun goes down, and it gets dark there's a grave concern that violence may break out because there've been reports all over the island of gangs, specifically targeting gas stations and assaulting people who are just trying to pump gas whether into their cars or in their canisters to then take then home and power their generators.
[07:20:20] There are a series of issues with getting supplies and aid to where they need to go here in Puerto Rico. And some places like Guaynabo City yesterday, the mayor was going around driving through the street and people were running into the street to wave him down to ask for federal aid that was being distributed. They were able to get their hands on some very basic goods -- MREs, emergency food kits, food, and water, the basic essentials. But even the mayor acknowledged that they are going to need more.
In other areas, yesterday in that gas line, I spoke to one woman who told me she was in line for hours outside of a grocery store and when she finally got inside, she was heartbroken because there was no water on the shelves for her. Meantime, you have thousands of shipping containers sitting at the port, stuck there because there aren't enough truckers available to go get them out of the port. There's not enough fuel available to help power those trucks to get those items where they need to go and there's not enough cash because there aren't enough banks and ATMs operating because there's no electricity. So, again, layers and layers of issues, a gridlock that needs to be undone before Puerto Rico can get back on its feet, Christi and Martin.
PAUL: Boris, you brought up something that is striking. The vulnerability in this case and in many in a situation like this where you have gangs or people who will get violent to try to get what they need. Is there a police force or some sort of authoritative entity there that is able to try to quell that?
SANCHEZ: That's something that we have heard from several residents. They want to see a larger military footprint. Yesterday at that gas station, I'll give you an example, there were fewer than four police officers; there were about there. They came in different shifts but they were there more so to guide the flow of traffic. They weren't really there to provide information or to provide aid. One of the things that struck me about yesterday is that at 6:30 p.m., when they finally shut down, there were still more than 100 cars in line waiting to get gas and it was a police officer having to approach that next car in line as he set up a rope to block them off to tell a woman in that car that she was not going to get gas even though she had been waiting hours for it. That woman's face is indescribable.
The feeling of dejection that she's going to have to go at least another day, perhaps spend more hours in line waiting to get gas so that she can get back to her home and help her loved ones is something that is being felt across this island. And I asked that police officer what that was like for him, having to relay that message. He told me he had been doing it already for several days and he'd become accustomed to it and he said he'd developed a mind for it, Christi.
PAUL: You'd almost have to, to carry out that job over and over again. Boris Sanchez on the ground for us here in San Juan. Thank you so much.
SAVIDGE: And while we've been focusing our coverage on Puerto Rico, the president is tweeting this morning about Puerto Rico specifically. He is saying, "The mayor of San Juan who was very complimentary only a few days ago has now been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump." Again, that is a tweet coming from the president of the United States.
To make things worse, towns that have been devastated by Hurricane Maria could see flash flooding and mudslides this weekend. CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, is live in the severe weather center.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Now, we've already had some rain come down across areas of Puerto Rico. Some, especially in the northwestern section of the island have already seen two to three inches and more rain is on the way. We have all of Puerto Rico under a flood watch at this point because conditions are there for more rain. The problem isn't necessarily the new rain coming through, it's the fact that it's coming on the heels of Hurricane Maria. This is a map of what Hurricane Maria dropped in terms of rainfall. The red areas are about six to 10 inches, the purple areas about 10 to 15; the white areas exceed 20 inches of rain.
Now, we're talking about adding even more rain on top of that. Widespread likely up to about two inches but there will be some pockets of yellow and orange that you see here -- we're talking four to six inches. This is a problem. A lot of the rivers and streams in Puerto Rico have yet to recede back to normal levels. So, now you add more rain on top of that and they're likely to swell quickly. Not to mention some of the streets and some of the areas that are still underwater. This is a look at the satellite. Here's the (INAUDIBLE), the Virgin Islands, and this is Puerto Rico. This is all of the tropical moisture that we are seeing start to flow back into Puerto Rico. It's moving north, and again, it's a lot of moisture.
[07:25:15] But here's the problem: this is the only entity we have left to use. This is the radar. This is normally what we would use right about how to tell who's getting the heaviest rain, how much to expect. This is where the dome would have been, right over top. It's gone. Hurricane Maria took it away. Even their backup radar was taken out by Maria. Here's the problem, Christi and Martin, in the lower 48, say, in Atlanta for example, if their radar was destroyed by weather, what would happen is your surrounding cities, Birmingham, Huntsville, Chattanooga, some of the surrounding towns that have radar, they would make up for that lack in that city. They don't have that in Puerto Rico. So, again, that causes problems with that local weather service office because it gives them a delay of perhaps getting those products and getting those services out to the people that live in Puerto Rico.
SAVIDGE: Understood. Allison Chinchar, thank you very much for that.
[07:26:10] PAUL: Well, the restaurant owner who grew up in Puerto Rico is doing everything he can to help. He is going to be with us next to talk about how you can help with relief efforts, truly. Stay close.
[07:30:37] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Always so good to have you on board with us here. 7:30 is the time, I'm Christi Paul.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: So let's talk about President Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He was forced to resign in scandal. We now have Don Wright sitting in that place as of this morning. But, Secretary Price or former Secretary, dominated headlines after it was revealed that he used taxpayer money to take private flights for government business. He ran up a toll of more than a million dollars for non- commercial flights.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, officials in Puerto Rico are pleading with President Trump to send more aid after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island. 3-1/2 million Americans are without food, water, gas or even a way to communicate with loved ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: I am begging. Begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying. I am mad as hell because my people's lives are at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Now, the President has just responded to the Mayor's comments saying, "The Mayor of San Juan who was very complimentary only a few days ago has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on islands doing a fantastic job." Again, a series of tweets coming from the President of the United States.
Both Secretary Price's resignation and the crisis in Puerto Rico are putting the White House in what you would say is damage control. CNN White House Correspondent Sara Murray has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not happy, OK? I can tell you, I'm not happy.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump today accepting the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price. The bombshell announcement coming after days of mounting controversy over Price's travel on private jets at a cost estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
TRUMP: Not a question of governance. I was disappointed because I didn't like it cosmetically or otherwise. I was disappointed. And you know, this is an administration that saves hundreds of millions of dollars on renegotiating things. So, I don't like to see somebody that perhaps there's the perception that it wasn't right.
MURRAY: Price agreed to pay a fraction of the overall tab but sources say the offer only appeared to exacerbate Trump's anger.
TRUMP: Well, we have great Secretaries, and we have some that actually on their own planes, as you know and that solves that. But we've put it in order that no more planes --
MURRAY: This, as the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues to mount, leaving Trump to defend the federal government's response.
TRUMP: When you have a Category 5 wipe out an island like this -- because you have nothing. You don't have the roads, you don't have anything and you don't have the people even to operate the equipment.
MURRAY: Characterizing the crisis as unprecedented, he painted a bleak picture of Puerto Rico's condition before the storm.
TRUMP: The electrical grid and other infrastructure were already in very, very poor shape. They were at their life's end prior to the hurricanes, we're literally starting from scratch. We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe.
PAUL: So, as Puerto Ricans are -- as you can tell, they're just struggling to find aid after Hurricane Maria. There's a restaurant owner who's doing everything he can to help his former home. Elmer Passapera started collecting food, water, other supplies, just hours after Maria hit Puerto Rico. Look at this that he has collected and he sends -- or has helped send two cargo planes full of aid to the island where he grew up and he is so graciously with us now.
Elmer, thank you for being here. First of all, how is your family? Do you know?
ELMER PASSAPERA, OWNER, BUEN PROVECHO RESTAURANT: The family members that I'm aware of, they're OK. Some of the family members I haven't been able to communicate, of course, because of the communication issues back home, and we're just praying that they're OK. PAUL: Do you have plans to go yourself?
PASSAPERA: I'm hoping to do that once they lift the restrictions, and being able to travel over there.
PAUL: So, how is it that you're able to collect all of this aid and get it there?
[07:35:02] PASSAPERA: As we were became affiliated with a -- with a committee that was established here. "Puerto Recovery" is the name of the committee and --
PAUL: This is formed after Maria?
PASSAPERA: Yes, yes, ma'am.
PAUL: Or was it formed beforehand to be prepared for it?
PASSAPERA: This was performed just shortly after Maria hit. We got together to respond, to responds to the needs of our people back home. And there's some members within the committee that have connections with a different organizations that they've already done this in the past, being able to aid different countries, if you may, under the hurricane situation.
PAUL: What is your family telling you? Is their most urgent need right now?
PASSAPERA: They need -- they need help. You know, all the consumable goods, there's no water, no electricity, as you -- as you've heard. The other issue is, is that the communications, families from -- that are there can't reach out to the families that are outside the island and vice versa.
PAUL: Have you physically spoken to families?
PASSAPERA: I have, I was able to get in touch with my cousin who lives in Bayamon.
PAUL: And how are they emotionally dealing with all of this?
PAUL: What -- and what does he say to you?
PASSAPERA: First of all, they've never experienced this, and second of all, just she told me, Elmer, how you remember home? It doesn't exist anymore. That breaks my heart to hear her say that. She says, I literally stepped out of the house, I walked a couple of houses down, a couple of blocks, looked around. She says, I live in a different place. Everything that she remembered is gone, and just to hear that, to hear that plea, to hear that cry for help, it drove me to do the efforts that I'm doing here now. And maybe to some people that might say, well, that's just a little seed, you know, but this seed has been growing, and I told her, look, even if it's just myself and the people at the restaurant and maybe the small community that we'll get together, we'll do whatever it takes even if it's just to aid just a couple of people over there. We have to respond, we have to do something. We can't sit around and wait for the government to decide, hey, we've got to respond.
PAUL: And I'm so sorry. First of all, I can't imagine what it's like. Do -- is there a sense -- did she give you the idea that there is a sense that as Americans, they feel forgotten or does she just feel like it was just not -- there was not enough preparation to help?
PASSAPERA: They just feel they've been pushed to the side, you know, that we'll get to you when we get to you. And the fact is this is that, you know, everybody knows Puerto Rico is -- it's a U.S. territory and, you know, we serve the country, you know, just like that we're U.S. citizens. And so, everything applies so we expect that in return, the same treatment that other States get, Texas and Florida, that response, that quick response. So, we expect that as well and we don't see that. Yes, it gets us angry, we start second guessing, you know, OK, so, what is really the relationship that we have with the United States? You know, the President slowly responding the chaos that's back home. There's no order, we need order, there's shipments that are out there and --
PAUL: They're sitting there.
PASSAPERA: -- they're saying that just sitting there
PAUL: Just sitting there. I wanted to ask you about what we're hearing here just in the last couple of minutes from the President, you've been listening to the Mayor, Mayor Cruz and her plea to get supplies there, to get help there so people will not be dying as she says. The President just tweeted in the last couple of minutes, "The Mayor of San Juan who is very complimentary only a few days ago has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico who are not able to get their workers to help," and then there's a third one as well. "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort, 10,000 federal workers now on the island doing a fantastic job."
When you hear that from the President and yet you hear what you're hearing from your cousin, what is your response?
[07:39:43] PASSAPERA: We don't want anything done for us, we're survivors, we're warriors, but in return, we've given our lives to this nation, so, is that a lot to ask that we get the response? That we get the treatment of sacrificing our relatives who have died in war? Is that much to ask for all the stuff that we've done? That we've participated? That we've been involved in economically, agriculturally, socially, unto United States? We're not sitting here and saying, hey, you know, spoon feed us. We just need help, we can -- we can overcome this and we will overcome this. But, if we have a commitment, there's an understanding and being U.S. citizens, that for itself should speak and say, OK, let's do something, let's help our people, let's get them back off the ground, let's get them up and running and we'll take it from there. You know, we don't want to be handheld.
PAUL: If you could sit down with the President, particularly before he goes to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, what would you want him to know? What would you want to say to him?
PASSAPERA: There's a lot of things I would like to say, but to keep things in order, I would just say, you need to do this yesterday. You need to get your hands in there, get involved, get dirty. Go, go look around and see how the people are dying right before your eyes. You know, this is not just -- we're not talking about a very small crisis or a period of a couple of days. There's a -- there's an outcry, there's an outbreak and if you respond, the people will respond. But if you don't respond, the people are going to respond but at the same time, they're going to forget you.
PAUL: All right. Elmer, we so appreciate you being here. Again, I'm so sorry for what you're going through, I hope you get there soon.
PASSAPERA: Thank you. Thank you.
PAUL: I know that you will feel better, won't you, if you can just get there yourself?
PASSAPERA: Yes, if I'm -- if I'm able to communicate, if I'm able to be there with the family and you know, all these donations that we're getting, it's been awesome --
PAUL: Yes, how can we help you? Can we help you?
PASSAPERA: -- it's been awesome. Yes, we need help with --
PAUL: Where do they send? Where can people send things?
PASSAPERA: They can send it to our restaurant. We have -- somebody has donated a warehouse, over (INAUDIBLE) Kennesaw which has been a blessing.
PAUL: And your restaurant is --
PASSAPERA: My restaurant it's called, Buen Provecho which is located 2468 Windy Hill Road in Marietta right off of 75. And we need -- we need truck drivers. We need volunteers who can come and help and the pictures speak for itself.
PASSAPERA: Last night was incredible, I had over 60 volunteers helping out and these were people who just -- they were pouring out their hearts. They just wanted to feel the connection and being able to serve our island back home with just gathering stuff. And just being -- we need a truck driver; we need people to load up these trucks so that we could take them to this warehouse. We're overwhelmed. I have boxes right now, we had to move the tables and chairs and put the boxes inside because we ran out of space.
PAUL: You're doing good work. You're doing good work.
PASSAPERA: Thank you.
PAUL: I'm glad that you're getting help doing your work.
PASSAPERA: Thank you.
PAUL: And please keep up with us and let us know how everything is (INAUDIBLE)
PASSAPERA: Thank you, absolutely, thank you. Thank you very much.
PAUL: OK, thank you. Martin?
SAVIDGE: Still to come, First Lady Melania Trump, led her first roundtable discussion on the opioid epidemic. Plus, we'll take a look at how one officer is going beyond the call of duty to combat the crisis.
[07:47:37] SAVIDGE: First lady Melania Trump led her first roundtable policy discussion on the opioid crisis in America, Trump just tweeting about it. "Many of those invited to the event were directly affected by opioid abuse."
PAUL: Meanwhile, in Ohio, one of the States been hit the hardest pike as crisis. Law enforcement officers are going beyond the call of duty to combat the growing epidemic there. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen have this.
CHARLES JOHNSON, DEPUTY SHERIFF, LUCAS COUNTY, OHIO: For 19 years, I wore this uniform --
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Charles Johnson has hung up this uniform for this uniform because of the opioid epidemic. As a deputy sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio, it's Johnson's job to visit overdose survivors in the hospital and try to save them.
COHEN: You're not there to arrest them.
COHEN: What are you there to do?
JOHNSON: I'm there to convince them to live. I have convince them that they have a second chance.
COHEN: Do you think it makes a difference that they see you in a coat and tie rather than a sheriff's uniform? JOHNSON: Absolutely, I think so. For you to go in a uniform, you can offer them all the help in the world and he is going to shut you down.
COHEN: Every day, on average, six people overdose in his County.
JOHNSON: They'll meet their dealer up here in this parking lot and that's where they'll shoot up right here.
COHEN: On this day, Johnson gets a call to visit a woman in this Toledo emergency room. It turns out he knows her. She's a waitress in a local restaurant.
JOHNSON: She's waited on me and my wife there. I know her personally. These people are overdosing, they're your mailman, they're your neighbors, they're your -- they're your friends.
COHEN: More counselor than cop, Johnson promises that his team will drive her to detox.
JOHNSON: Her and I made an agreement, and we're going to go for it.
CODY MORRIS, RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT: We met at the hospital and I was laying on that bed and you showed up and gave me an opportunity, man.
COHEN: Since 2014, Johnson and his team have convinced nearly 80 percent of overdose survivors to go into detox, an impressive number according to addiction specialists.
COHEN: You stick around in these people's lives.
JOHNSON: You know what, I remember every one of their names. I stop and I visit their homes, I know their families, I visit in the jails. I've been a parent to 100 addicts.
COHEN: You've been to jail 12 times?
MORRIS: Yes. Every time I got out of jail, I went back to the same thing, every single time.
COHEN: Having Charles around, did it make it easier to come off of heroin?
MORRIS: Yes, and he thanked me and he had only had known me for 10 minutes. He was like, Cody can do this, he's got this. And you were staying in touch making sure I was doing the right thing, you know, going, you working today? Yes, I'm working that's why like to hear, you know.
COHEN: Does it take an emotional toll?
JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely, you can get really burnt out doing this. My phone never stops ringing, I have people calling me 24 hours a day. I won't not answer that phone call, someone's life could depend on it.
[07:50:06] COHEN: It's that commitment that's been making a difference in the overwhelming addiction epidemic in Lucas County. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Toledo.
SAVIDGE: Also coming up, recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, they've got everybody helping out even our four-legged friends. One dog's incredible clean-up story, next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure your stroke is nice and straight and even coming back.
ANDREA ELISCU, FOUNDER, ORLANDO DRAGON BOAT CLUB: Dragon boating is about 2800 years old and started in China. A dragon boat is 41-foot long. Everybody has to be synchronized with their paddle. You do what the person in front of you and the person across from you does. And if you can do that, the boat goes straight and it goes very fast.
WILLIS WEAVER, RETIRED POLICE OFFICER, ORLANDO: It's the cardio, it is the constant motion. You're constantly -- it's like a short burst of energy. I recently was retired as an Orlando police officer after 23 years. And no matter what I dealt with on the street when I came out here, I was able to leave it. The water smells good, it feels good even it smashes up on you, like it's kind of like a Zen moment.
MELISSA ROMERO, SALES AND CUSTOMERS SERVICE AGENT: For me, it's about getting my heart rate up, getting some exercise in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charge, lengthen your strokes.
ROMERO: I like being out in the open, rather than being in a gym. I have a lot of core strength now. When I first started, I couldn't paddle for more than a minute at a time. And now, I can probably do an hour continuous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's take the lead.
ROMERO: The worries of the day just kind of melt away.
ANNOUNCER: STAYING WELL brought to you by Aleve, just one pill for 12 hours of pain relief.
[07:55:33] SAVIDGE: Usually after a hurricane, we talk about animal rescues. Now, in this case, we're talking about animal to the rescue. A group of volunteers working together, clear fallen branches and debris up a road in San Juan Puerto Rico and look who decided to help out.
PAUL: Oh, it's Nico, he picked up a large branch in his mouth, you can hear somebody chopping in the background there, as he dragged that to an area that was full of fallen trees. He struggled a little bit at first. Look at his tail going now, he is happy to be there and help, and he successfully pulled it off. Thank you, Nico, thank you to everybody that has given so much there, the first responders. Everybody there, and the animals, and the people of Puerto Rico who is doing their very best. See, they are man's best friend.
FEMA, by the way, is set to give us an update on the situation there. Next, we're going to be right back with you and we're going to let you know what they are saying this morning. Stay close.