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Trump Visits Puerto Rico; Trump Speaks in Puerto Rico; Government Response in Puerto Rico; Aid Needed in Puerto Rico. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: With John King and "INSIDE POLITICS."

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

President Trump arrived just moments ago in Puerto Rico. There, yes, to console those devastated by Hurricane Maria, but also to press his case that any suggestion he and his team are too slow with recovery help is flat wrong.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Texas and in Florida we get an A plus. And I'll tell you what, I think we've done just as good in Puerto Rico. And it's actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared. Communication is starting to come back.


KING: And a still stunned Las Vegas. Still no answer to the biggest question, why did Stephen Paddock open fire on a crowd of 22,000 people.

We are learning more, though, about the faces and the stories behind the tragic number, 59. Fifty-nine killed in the worst mass shooting in American history.


HEATHER GOOZE, HELD SHOOTING VICTIM'S HAND AS HE DIED: I just -- I didn't want him to be there alone. There was another guy that was by us. His wife had been shot and killed. The mother of his three kids. And he never left her side. And I didn't want Jordan to not have somebody with him.


KING: Too soon for some. Too important to wait for others. The Vegas massacre again stirs calls for tougher gun controls. Whatever your view, the political map in Washington shows no signs of changing.


REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: We need to do more to make the indiscriminant killing of human beings less easy.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: So I think it's important that as we see the dust settle and we see what was behind some of these tragedies, that mental health reform is a critical ingredient.


KING: President Trump facing two very difficult days ahead. Today he's in storm-battered Puerto Rico, arriving just a few moments ago for a firsthand look at the devastation two weeks, of course, after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island. Almost all of the island's 3.2 million residents still lack electricity. Food and water, still hard to come by in most places. OXFAM, the global anti-poverty organization, criticizing the U.S. response, calling it, quote, slow and inadequate.

But the president told reporters back in Washington before he took the trip, yes, it's tough, but in his view, everything's going pretty fine.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the roads are cleared. Communication is starting to come back. But I will tell you, the first responders, the military, FEMA, they have done an incredible job in Puerto Rico.


KING: The president on the ground right now in Puerto Rico. We know, of course, he heads to Las Vegas tomorrow. That after Sunday's deadly massacre at a music festival. The president this morning calling what happened there a miracle because the police were able to respond so quickly.

But at least 59 people were killed, more than 520 taken to area hospitals. More on the shooting investigation and the big question in just a few moments.

Let's begin, though, on the ground in Puerto Rico with the crisis there. CNN's Sara Murray is standing by on the ground.

As the president gets there, Sara, he is well aware he has been criticized. We know he's going to actually see the San Juan mayor with whom he has been in a bit of a sparring match in the recent days. What are we expecting from the president? Are we expecting any acknowledgement that things maybe aren't going as quickly as the local authorities would like?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't think we'll see any acknowledge from the president that maybe the federal government was a little bit sluggish at the outset or maybe there's a need for more than what they've done so far. But I do think that what federal -- or what local officials are hoping

to impress upon him is the magnitude of the devastation. The governor of Puerto Rico said earlier today he was printing out photos from --

KING: Sara, sorry to interrupt. Sara -- Sara, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we're getting to see the president -- his early briefing here on the ground with the governor of Puerto Rico and other officials.

Let's listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He came to Florida. And that -- we gave him another A plus. And then all of a sudden we said, there's another one heading out to Puerto Rico and to the U.S. Virgin Islands. And -- but it wasn't one, it was two. And I was going to be here a week ago, if you remember. And that was the day of the hurricane. That was the day of the second hurricane. So Brock has been unbelievable.

And this has been the toughest one. This has been a category five, which few people have ever even heard of, a category five hitting land. But it hit land. And, boy, did it hit land.

So I want to thank you. I want to thank Elaine. Elaine, thank you very much. Fantastic acting secretary. Elaine Duke has been incredible. Tom Bossert's here someplace. Tom, great job. Great job.

And to all of my people. And I have to say, General Buchanan got here a few days ago and there's no doubt about it, you are a general. There's a reason you're a general, right? But he's no games. That's all -- I said, give me a general. I don't want to have any -- I don't want to have a general that plays games. And you've done a fantastic job. The whole team has been amazing.

Your governor has been -- who I didn't know. I heard very good things about him. He's not even from my party and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did. And he was tremendously supportive. And he knew the level of the problem had you had at the beginning, before, and the level -- what happened with respect to the tremendous storms that hit your beautiful island.

[12:05:25] And, governor, I just want to tell you that right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He didn't play it at all. He was saying it like it was. And he was giving us the highest greats. And I want to -- on behalf of our country, I want to thank you.

I also -- I also want to thank your congresswoman, who actually represents the largest number of people of any congress person in the United States. I know that. It's 3.5 million people, Jenniffer, right?

So Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, who I've watched the other day and she was saying such nice things about all of the people that have worked so hard.

Jenniffer, do you think you could say a little bit of what you said about us today? And it's now about me. It's about these incredible people from the military, to FEMA, the first responders. I mean I've never seen people working so hard in my life. Perhaps you could say, congresswoman?

REP. JENNIFFER GONZALEZ-COLON, PUERTO RICO: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President.

The first thing is that, before we were hit by Maria, we were hit by Hurricane Irma. And during that time, before the hurricane, it was FEMA acting together with a lot of employees. More than 4,000 people were here in the island from the different branches of the military, HHS, Navy, Army, FEMA, and all the staff working together before the hurricane hit. They were here before, during, after the first hurricane and they continue to stay on the island, boots on the ground, during Maria, the same thing.

I think we never got the level of communication within the federal and the local government like never before. And we are in the path of the hurricane. So we are used to receiving hurricanes, but never before a category five. The amount of devastation, it's unheard of.

But during all this time, we got the federal government by our side, doing the job of the people here like you and the military doing all that has been done. I ask all the questions and the requests that the governor did, the president and his cabinet accomplished it and sent more people and has continued to send in more people, trucks, drivers and resources.

Thank you, Mr. President, for all you've been doing for the island.

TRUMP: Well, I want to thank you, because you were really generous. And I saw those comments and everybody saw those comments and we really appreciate it. And, you know, it's so important when you have men and women that have worked so hard and so long. And many of them came from two other catastrophic hurricanes. I mean they came from Texas. They came from Louisiana. They came from Florida. And there was no -- how many night's rest have you gotten, zero in the last month, right?


TRUMP: Yes. All right. Well, we're going to keep him for another couple of weeks. And by that time I think, you know, but we -- come here. Special guy. I will tell you. Special. Really good. Really good.

I also, in addition to Tom, I also want to thank Linda McMahon, Small Business. I always joke. I said she's in charge of Small Business, but Small Business is massive business when you add it all up. And she has done an incredible job. Built a great company with her husband, Vince McMahon. And I wanted her so badly for this position because there's nobody that knows how to build a company like those. And, let me tell you, like this woman. She has been amazing in business and now she's doing an incredible job as the administrator. We want to thank you, Linda, very much.

And Mick Mulvaney is here, right there. And Mick is in charge of a thing called budget. Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you're throwing our budget a little out of whack because we've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that's fine. But we've saved a lot of lives. If you look at the -- every death is a horror. But if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous -- hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering. Nobody's ever seen anything like this. And what is your -- what is your death count as of this moment, 17?


TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taking place in Puerto Rico.

[12:10:16] I also want to pay a very special thanks to the Navy. Who's here from the Navy? Who do we have? General, who do we have?


TRUMP: What a job. So you have ships all over the place. I saw them flying in. I said, boy, this looks like very big stuff. And the job you've done, getting things here. There are no docks. There have been -- we're just in the process of opening them up. They were just devastated. But there are no docks. No nothing. And the way you got this stuff on shore is incredible. So I want to thank the Navy.

Would you like to say something on behalf of the Navy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, your Navy and Marine Corps team is here to respond and (INAUDIBLE) immediately deployed. We have four Navy ships to get here and handle anything that happened in Irma. And (INAUDIBLE) we repositioned and was able to respond to Puerto Rico right after Maria. So the Navy (INAUDIBLE) was happy to come here and save lives and coordinate with FEMA, with the governor of Puerto Rico, and to demonstrate our ability to come from the sea, air and land.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Well, thank you. And thank you very much.

And, you know, I don't have to even mention the Marines, because where have General Kelly. Where's General Kelly. Where is our General Kelly. He likes to keep a low profile. Look at him sitting in the back. But, boy, is he watching. You have no idea how he's -- General Kelly, come up here.

So General Kelly's a four-star. Not a bad general, right? You don't get any better than General Kelly. But on behalf of the Marines, I'll tell you, they've done some job, general.

Now, can we also mention Army and can we also mention some people that I really got to know and respect even more in Texas, and that's the Coast Guard. What a job the Coast Guard has done throughout this whole -- throughout this whole ordeal.

I mean they would go right into the middle of that. I mean I don't know. I wouldn't want to be doing it. But I want to thank everybody. I want to thank the Coast Guard. They are special, special, very brave people.

And a lot of people got to see the real Coast Huard during this incredible trouble. And especially I think here and in Texas was incredible what they did.

So, thank you all very much. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We really appreciate it.

Would you like to say something on behalf of your men and women?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm representing the Air Force.

TRUMP: No, I know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's been a tremendous team effort coordinating (ph) with FEMA and (INAUDIBLE) the U.S. Virgin Islands and then to Puerto Rico, specifically trying to open up the air fields that (INAUDIBLE) as island to get the majority of the supplies in (INAUDIBLE) setting up across the island (INAUDIBLE) and logistics (INAUDIBLE) so we could really get to the people that are the most hurt and devastated by a (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: And the runways now are pretty open?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. We have major -- four major runways that are fully open and operational, flown about 700 plus strategic (INAUDIBLE) to and from (INAUDIBLE) island of Puerto Rico to provide (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: That's an amazing job. That's an amazing job.

So amazing that we're ordering hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of new airplanes for the Air Force. Especially the F-35. Do you like the F-35?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, it's a game-changing technological, awesome aircraft.

TRUMP: I said, how does it do in fights and how do they do in fights with the F-35. They said, we do very well. You can't see. You're -- literally, you can't see it. So it's hard to fight a plane that you can't see, right?


TRUMP: But that's an expensive plane that you can't see.


TRUMP: And as you probably heard, we cut the price very substantially. Something that other administrations would never have done. That I can tell you.

So, thank you very much.

Where is the Coast Guard? Who can speak on behalf of the Coast Guard? Who can speak? Where is our Coast Guard representative?


TRUMP: Come here. Get over here. Come here. Come here. Let me ask you, on behalf of the Coast Guard, just say a few words. You guys have been amazing. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's anything that the men and women of the Coast Guard would rather do than help the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow American citizens. For us, this is what we get to do on a daily basis and getting to help our fellow citizens is just what our duty is all about. So it's our pleasure to be here, sir.

TRUMP: Well, you know, in Texas, it came in, it did devastation, then went right out into the coast. Then it came in and out. It came in three times. It would load up with water and come in. Nobody's ever seen water like that. And the Coast Guard would follow it. It goes in, and they'd be right behind it, and then they'd move.

They saved 16,000 lives in Texas.


[12:14:56] TRUMP: Sixteen -- hard to believe, 16 between the helicopters and all of them. But the Coast Guard itself saved, in Texas, 16,000 lives. And they went right through that hurricane and there aren't too many people who would have done it. Believe me. Would you thank everybody for me?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Customs and Border Protection sitting over here (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Absolutely. Say a few words. Please, say a few words. Customs and Border Protection, say a few words, please. Don't be shy.

What I would like to do, you want to stand up? Go ahead. That's OK. Stand up. Go ahead.

KING: All right, this is John King in Washington. Not quite sure what happened to the footage there at the end, but the press pool obviously told to leave that event.

You saw the president sitting around a table. You just heard the president giving himself high grades for what happened in Puerto Rico in the response effort that is still underway. Then going around the table, bringing in the governor, bringing in the congresswoman, bringing in every branch of the armed services, applauding his cabinet member, leaving, sitting at the end of one of those tables, the mayor of San Juan, with whom he has had his differences. We are told he shook the mayor's hand on the way into that meeting.

But a remarkable, remarkable presentation there from the president, clearly trying to say, I'm doing fine, Puerto Rico, and I'm doing fine for you. Not much discussion there about how to get more aid there faster. How to get more medical personnel in on the ground faster.

Let's get back to our Sara Murray. She's live on the ground in San Juan for us, our White House correspondent. Also with me here in studio, Julie Hirschfeld Davis of "The New York Times," CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Franco Ordonez, from "McClatchy" newspapers, and Margaret Talev from "Bloomberg News."

Sara, let me start with you.

The president goes there. He graded himself A plus before he left Washington. He knows the dustup in Puerto Rico. He knows that even a lot of officials like the governor who have said the president has been available every time I've needed him. I know Washington is trying to do everything, but we need more. The president clearly there deciding to have a love fest for him and his team.

MURRAY: That's right. And, look, I don't think when you talk to people on the ground, people are not criticizing FEMA. They're not criticizing first responders. They just say, we need more of these people. We need more of these people out here in communities where we don't have access to food, where we don't have access to power, where we don't have access to cell phone service.

And even the governor of Puerto Rico was saying earlier today, yes, the death toll has been very low. It stands at 16 right now. But we are reassessing that number with the morgues as we speak. We fully expect that number to go up in the wake of a disaster like that.

This is still a humanitarian crisis on the ground. And I think that that is what you are going to see local officials impressing upon the president behind closed doors. Not necessarily criticizing him. I think they have seen from the San Juan mayor what the president does if he feels like he's under critique.

But they just want to impress upon him that there is still a lot more that needs to be done across the island. That they need a lot more help from the federal government. And that, frankly, it's going to come with a very large price tag. We heard the governor of Puerto Rico speaking this morning about the fact that they are going to need a large aid package and it's going to need to be the right kind of aid package because these are American citizens who are on this island. And if they can't get access to the kinds of services they need, all they need to do is book a plane ticket and go to the mainland.

KING: Sara Murray, on the island, standby as we continue the conversation here.

This president is unique. We have seen this time and time again. He communicates in a unique way. He does love to be told, and sometime he says it himself, that I'm doing a great job. But it was remarkable there. Again, he's a politician. He understands the environment. It should be no surprise that he is defending the performance of his team. And it also is just a fact that whenever you think of what's happening in Puerto Rico, it's not all the federal government's fault for what -- for the things that have not been up to speed, it never is. We saw this after Katrina. It's a combination of things.

But he left the mayor there. He called on the governor. Brought up his chief of staff, that doesn't like to speak in public. The mayor of San Juan who he called a political ingrate is sitting right there. And she's not brought into the conversation. I mean, I guess, somebody help explain why he does things this way.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I mean, he clearly sees -- has seen this through a political lens. And the first thing he said about the governor was, even though he's not of my political party, he's said very nice things about me. And so he certainly is viewing this in sort of a, you know, me versus them, my side or their side.

But it's true, he -- you know, there has been a huge federal effort, and as well as a local and state effort, to try to bring the needed services here. It's -- right now these people are still in crisis though. And so, you know, we don't know what we didn't see behind -- after the cameras left. But for the briefing to all be about how great everything has gone, A pluses all-around, leaves room for, you know, what actually does Puerto Rico need right now in order to get out of the crisis that they're in. Nobody had the chance to offer that perspective. And that's often what you hear at these presidential briefings.

[12:20:14] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There definitely wasn't much listening there by the president in terms of what is happening on, you know, specifically what they need. We're talking about how good they've done. But in terms of this being a fact-finding mission, perhaps that's happening as we speak off camera there.

But this is show and tell for a morning. But I think the president was saying there that they -- you've thrown our budget out of whack. He's right about that. I mean that is going to be a significant amount of spending there and they still haven't put a dollar sign on that.

But in terms of asking what they need and inspecting things, he's not going to get out of San Juan. But as our Sara Murray reported earlier, people are going to show him photographs of the rest of the island to see how devastated it actually is.

KING: Right. That's an interesting point. Number one, the pictures you just saw there a moment ago, you saw the president of the United States shaking hands with the Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan. You see the picture right here for you. There was a question of whether they would actually meet heading into this because of the sparing between the two of them. She was invited to the briefing and she said in a statement, I will use this opportunity to reiterate the primary message. This is about saving lives, not about politics. This is also about getting the people of Puerto Rico the respect we deserve and recognizing the moral imperative to do both.

So she wants to make the point. The president clearly with the press in the room, the media there, was not going to let anybody who might be critical speak. He called on the congresswoman and teed her up by saying, please repeat the complimentary things you have said before.

But you make an important point, even the governor of Puerto Rico, who I think has handled this very well and has publicly said nice things about the president, even as he says we need more. We appreciate everything they've done so far, but we need more, said he was going to come with photos of the devastation in the outlying areas because he's paying attention. He understands that that's how you get this president's attention, the photographs, with charts, with graphs.

FRANCO ORDONEZ, MCCLATCHY: Yes, the reality is, we still don't know what's going on. I mean I think you have -- there's so much devastation there. Yes, there is personnel coming. Yes, there is money flowing. But we're still -- still early in this. There's still so much to come out.

You have water that is just settling that they have to do. Think about the diseases that potentially could come. Trump is changing the narrative or trying to change the narrative, but we really don't know. We just scratched the surface. And he tries to tell a narrative, a very positive one, but with 90 percent of the people without power, half the country without water, there is a lot to happen.

MARGARET TALEV, "BLOOMBERG": And this actually was not the tact that I expected him to take upon landing for a couple reasons. One is that we've seen in his response to Las Vegas an understanding and acknowledgement that it's very important to hue (ph) closely to a script where there is a tragedy so that you are making the points that you want to make and not inadvertently stepping on your own message.

Two is that, in the intervening days, I think the president has heard from a lot of Republicans who have explained that Puerto Ricans are probably going to move to the mainland, like the worse the devastation is, and they're probably going to move to places like Florida. And their arrival here is going to have a further political impact on his fortunes and the Republican Party's fortunes, in addition to the actual just handling of this disaster. It's like obviously important for hospital needs to be taken care of, for people's homes to be restored, for education and schools.

But all of that aside, he is also the head of the Republican Party. And he does not want to create an unnecessary complication for the Republican Party. In the last couple of days, we have seen him move to kind of merge these messages about the (INAUDIBLE), caring for the people of Puerto Rican, as much as he does for Texans or for Floridians.

This opening message was more like a pep rally than it was a listening session. And I --

KING: More like a pep rally. And, again, go back through the last few days. In this sparring match with the mayor of San Juan, the president tweeting out that it's fake news and political ingrates who are telling you things are not going as well as they are in Puerto Rico.

No, the pictures we are showing, the pictures our team of reporters, a fabulous team of reporters are showing, are not fake news. Again, it doesn't mean it's all the federal government's response. It doesn't mean the federal government isn't trying. But the people need help. It is not political ingrates for somebody to say -- she might not be right on all the facts, but she's not a political ingrate to say my city needs more. My people need more. Can you do more?

Among those on the ground for us is our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. We'll bring Sanjay into the conversation.

From a getting people the medical attention they need, Sanjay, from getting people the medical supplies they need, the other care they need, the president before he left said A plus. Do the facts on the ground support that?

GUPTA: It's -- no, it's not an A plus. I mean, John, look, to be fair, it's never an A plus. There's always difficult environments after a disaster like this. There are people, John, who are still going without. I mean it's -- it was surprising, even shocking, to hear some of that language. There are people who are still going without. They may not have been adversely affected by the hurricane directly, but they are at real risk of dying still, John. People that have gone without basic supplies, food, water, shelter, lifesaving medications, insulin, pain medications, IV antibiotics, IV fluids. You name it.

[12:25:04] I mean what we've seen is that there's communities where they've just not still been reached. These private organizations now going in, oftentimes by foot, treatment bags in hand, knocking on doors because they know people can't even get out of their homes. They can't get out of their communities.

So this is an ongoing issue here. I was surprised, even a little bit shocked, because I just -- I -- people who are suffering right now, to hear self-congratulations like this, I think has got to be really, really tough for them because the people who are in and out of hypoglycemic comas sweating away in shelters, not having food or water, not having a snack today so they can try and control their blood sugar when they take insulin, they can't even check their blood glucoses. They don't have fluids.

I mean I -- I don't know, John, it's not an A plus by far. It's never an A plus. But this is just not -- it's not good what we're seeing here, as soon as you get 15, 30 minutes, an hour outside of San Juan.

KING: And, Sanjay, when you have those conversations that people need the basic supplies, in terms of a response infrastructure to set up, who catalogs what is needed? Who finds out who has it or who can get it to you the soonest? Who then can get it delivered?


KING: What's the sense of the process? It's been two weeks. Where are they in building the basic infrastructure to deal with these crises you're talking about?

GUPTA: There are hospitals that I visited near the central part of the island that have not been reached yet. There has been no communication with them. So they're listed as up and running, but they're sort of surprised by that. They said no one's actually asked us. No one's been here. So how are we up and running? We have enough fuel maybe to last another day. We have 230 patients. Our morgues are overflowing. Do we take new patients? Kind of hard to do because we don't know if we're going to be able to take care of them tomorrow. We'll have to transfer them out tomorrow. So that's a -- that's a huge issue.

I think communications is very top of the list, to your question, John. What I have seen so many times is that these supplies that I'm talking about, many times they are on the island. It's just been a question of getting them from point a to point b. I know it's trucks. I know it's fuel. But literally people actually being able to communicate in some way and ask for these things, that still hasn't happened. Nor have they been checked on.

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us on the ground.

Sanjay, appreciate the reporting. Keep up the great work down there.

And, again, there's a way to say we're doing everything we can. There's a way to say we're prepared to do more. There's a way to say, I'm here to learn so we can get even better what we're doing without sort of the self-congratulatory, as Sanjay put it, we just heard there. Abut we'll follow the president's trip and see what happens throughout the day, see if he meets with some of the victims, some of the people. See if there's any further conversation with the mayor of San Juan.

Up next, though, we shift to the big story in Las Vegas. What we're learning about the gunman. What investigators found in his hotel suite and at his home.