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Pedestrians Injured in London Car "Collision"; Hurricane Nate Strengthens; Police Shooter Had 50 Pounds Of Explosives In His Car; "Numbers" Found On Note Left In Shooter's Hotel Room; President Reaches Out To Top Senate Dem On Health Care; Tillerson Denies He Threatened To Resign. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired October 7, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:59:49] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the NEWSROOM and welcome to our international viewers.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We're following breaking news right now.
Police have detained a man after a vehicle collision incident in London near the Natural History Museum. A number of people have been injured.
Our Nic Robertson joining us right now on the phone. Nic -- what can you tell us?
NIC ROBERTS, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (via telephone): Well, the police have a large area cordoned off outside the Natural History Museum, which is very close to the Victoria and Albert Museum just west of Central London -- a very, very popular tourist destination.
You're seeing police rushing in, more vehicles, more ambulances coming in -- there's another ambulance, another medical official driving in right now. The police having to hold back the crowds that are passing by here so that person can get in.
What we know from the police right now is that a man drove a vehicle into a line of people outside this museum area. We don't know how many people were injured after he drove into the crowd.
The police have detained the man and taken him away. They have not provided any details about him yet. They haven't provided details about the number of causalities, about the nature of injuries at this time. And at the moment the police are saying they are investigating this incident. It's not clear what caused it.
The police have responded rapidly with a huge presence. The area that's cordoned off is, perhaps, a half a mile by half a mile by half a mile. I can see dozens of police cars at the side of the road. There were armed officers in ballast (inaudible) there on the scene here. This is typical if the police suspect that this could be, potentially, a terrorism incident that they would deploy this type of armed officers. They haven't said it's a terrorist incident, but given the number of attacks in London over this summer and in particular two incidents where pedestrians were mowed down by drivers, police clearly in this incident not taking any chances and have quite literally flooded this zone (ph) that is popular with tourists and is an area for many embassies from around the world.
They have flooded this area with appears to be traffic police, medical officials, as well as highly-armed, what we would suspect under these circumstances that the officers trained in counterterrorism.
WHITFIELD: So, Nic, because it is a tourist area, a place that is very popular with a lot of foot traffic, already in place presumably, would be a lot of security. And when an incident like this has unfolded, that largely explains a kind of rapid response?
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. You know, the police here have no need to dust down plans for an incident like this, because they've been living it this summer. They are absolutely on a hair trigger. There was additional police presence in the city today because of concerns about a demonstration by a right wing group, who's having a demonstration, so the police would have had additional security measures in place, as they would do for any large demonstration of any particular persuasion -- left wing, right wing, it didn't make a difference. So there will be additional officers on duty for that.
But in London at the moment, because this is a tourist destination, there are so many people here, the police absolutely know and the terrorists have said London is a target and they continue to tell their people through their propaganda how to, you know, how to execute attacks.
So the police are very aware. So their plans would have been in place. It's commonly believed at the moment that in London at any given moment there are counterterrorism response units on a hair trigger waiting for a call to move.
And when that incident happens, where there were three attackers in a van mowing people down on a bridge in June, Tower Bridge, close to Borough Market. During that incident the police were there within a matter of minutes. I believe it was 11 minutes, possibly less. Armed police who have been able to tackle and kill the attackers in that incident. So the police here in a situation like this don't hold back.
It was only a month ago that officers apprehended a man outside Buckingham Palace where the Queen lives. He had a sword in his vehicle. He was apprehended late at night. It's not uncommon here for the police to capture people when they are on their way with swords (Ph) at night to places like Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament here.
That happened this summer, as well. So the police, the intelligence services, know that there's a problem and have a response to that problem, but also have preventative measures and they have shut down in the past, about six months, I believe. At least five potential attacks have been shut down before they happen.
But because there are believed to be so many potential people who may perpetrate an attack, the police recognize that they are in a situation where they cannot follow and watch them all. The intelligence services know that, as well, so they are prepared for when somebody gets through.
[11:05:07] It's not clear if that's what happened in this case. But that's the mindset of the security authorities, the police here in London at the moment.
WHITFIELD: Nic -- also joining us right now, our producer, Mohammed al-Sia as well as Joseph Giacalone, a law enforcement expert.
So Mohammed -- to you first. You were also there in the London area. Are you able to give us anymore detail? When authorities say a collision accident, are we talking about more than one vehicle, or is it singularly a vehicle?
MOHAMMED EL-SIA, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, I'm just about 300 meters from Nic so I'm on the other side of the zone. As far as the police are telling we know that -- as I've been told by police here -- it was one car and one person injured.
We're seeing some reports there may have been more. As we've described, you know, it's a lot of pedestrian area, so it would be likely if someone were to careen, you might see that.
But the two who have given us information is the driver is being questioned right now. We've had the police tell us this is a major incident. That's pretty obvious from their response. We've seen them walking that back a little bit.
But again as Nic described, there are police cars ling up and down the edges of the road, armed officers around -- armed officers in riot gear jumping out of their car.
Since I spoke to you about ten minutes ago what we've seen is a slight de-escalation. We've probably seen about five or six police cars pack up and come out, a couple of ambulances leave, as well. We saw one person, what appeared to be a person in a wheelchair under a blanket of some description. I couldn't tell you who they were or what they'd done and they seemed to be put into a police van, and that person left in the van that drove off -- one of a few that have.
But again, as far as we're hearing right now from police on the scene, one person injured, the driver right now being questioned and they are just waiting to see before they make any further announcements what he has to say to them.
WHITFIELD: All right, also with us law enforcement analyst Joseph Giacalone. So, Joseph -- again, authorities are not releasing or unable to give us too much information, particularly as it relates to what kind of investigation this is, just calling it a collision incident. It is not necessarily being called an act of terrorism.
However, this is a highly populated area. This is an area that Nic has already spelled out would have a pretty good concentration of law enforcement because it is a tourist attraction. But this also happening after at least three incidents, you know, that were terror related this year.
So talk to me about the brevity, how quickly authorities got into -- got involved here and are now questioning this one individual.
JOSEPH GIACALONE, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, yes. I mean, unfortunately, London has had a number of these vehicle attacks, same as other places in Europe, so they are trying to get prepared for stuff like this.
One of the things we saw in other cases was, you know, different attacks happening at different locations. So we don't see that happening right now. We don't know if this is even an attack yet or just a car accident.
And because it's such a highly populated area with tourists and the like and it's a museum, there's going to be a lot of video surveillance and that video surveillance I think will take us into exactly what happened with the driver. If he just lost control or he climbed a sidewalk and was trying to run down pedestrians.
That's going to be the key in this and I think that's what we'll discover the motive. You know, they certainly weren't treating the driver as if this was just a mere car accident. They had him out of the car -- I don't know if you saw the video to that. They had him out of the car, on his stomach, and there were two guys holding him down.
So, it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. But I think that police in London right now are just preparing themselves to see if there's anything additional that happens, anybody who gets inspired by this, even if it was just a vehicle accident. They are on edge over there with vehicles.
The New York City police department already put out a statement that they are monitoring the situation there, too. And I'm sure you're going to see a lot of police presence in places like Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge, and those kinds of places.
WHITFIELD: And Joseph -- we're also being told that British Prime Minister Theresa May has been made aware and she is being briefed as soon as they continue to collect information.
So, you talked about the cameras that are everywhere in London. They have been so instructive in solving crimes, terror related and otherwise in the past. How immediate is the information that they are able to replay? Are they simultaneous to their interviewing of this driver, able to also look at the images from cameras in the vicinity?
GIACALONE: Well, I'm sure that doing the same thing like we do here in New York. If something like this happens, there's a team that goes and collects the video surveillance. We call it a video surveillance canvas. They go out there right away and gather this.
[11:10:04] Unfortunately, there's a lot of different machines that they have to use, so there's usually a team that's machine responsible for it.
Some of these videos might come from street cameras that actually might be owned by the police or the local government and it's easy access for them to get it. But since this is a museum and a high value target for any type of terrorist attack, I'm sure we have great quality video that's going to come out here and that's going to tell us the whole story.
WHITFIELD: And, Joseph -- I'm just hearing from my producer that authorities are saying they are not treating this as a terror attack at this time. What does that tell you about, you know, the quickness of trying to convey that message?
GIACALONE: Well, yes, I think they are trying to, you know, calm people's fears. I mean we've seen a number of these attacks and like I said before, you know, it could be an ordinary car accident. We have to make sure that, unfortunately, because of these many incidents that they've had with vehicles they are going to treat these initially as if it's an attack and then until it's proven otherwise.
We want people to remain calm and we want people to, you know, go out and enjoy themselves, but these, you know, vehicles are a huge problem for any law enforcement agency to try to keep control of, you know, unless you put bollards up on every sidewalk, you're not really going to stop something like this if it was an attack.
WHITFIELD: All right. And on a Saturday when so many more people are on the sidewalks out enjoying the surroundings there in the museum district.
Joseph Giacalone, Mohammed al-Sia, and Nic Robertson -- thanks to all of you. We'll touch base with you as soon as we get more information on what is being described as a collision in London.
All right, we've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.
[11:11:42] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
The other big story at this hour that we're following: Hurricane Nate in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN Weather Center reporting that it is now likely to be a Category 2 storm when it makes landfall.
Right now, four and a half million people are under a hurricane warning stretching from Louisiana to Alabama. Nearly 30 million people are in its path in the U.S. Residents are bracing for heavy winds, torrential rain, and in some areas storm surges of up to nine feet.
The deadly storm packing 80-mile per hour winds; it has is already left a path of devastation in Central America. At least 25 people killed in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Hundreds have been rescued from flood waters and mudslides.
We've got reporters on the ground in all areas along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. as this major threat is now imposing on the coast.
First let's go to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest forecast -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right.
Let me update you here. Ninety-mile-per-hour storm forecast to be 105 at land. Big, big changes since we've been away here, so we need to pay attention.
The water is still very warm, Hurricane Hunter finding a closing eye which means the storm is intensifying. It is getting stronger. The storm surge will be 11 feet now with this storm, as it makes its way on shore.
There you go -- 105 miles per hour, 7:00 tonight, Central Time, very close to Pilot Town. That's the end of the Mississippi River. And then it's going to turn to the right a little bit and head right toward Biloxi. Biloxi, you could see wind gusts of 120 miles per hour.
So all of a sudden we've ramped up from a tropical storm to what will be a Category 2 at landfall. Hurricane warnings here in red; hurricane watches even still around.
But really it's the tropical storm warnings that go from Montgomery all the way to Birmingham. There will be trees down all across this area, even though you're 100 or so miles away from the landfall.
Seven to 11 feet here from Biloxi back over to New Orleans. That's the surge. Now, I know Katrina had a 20-foot surge, so this isn't Katrina. But 11 feet, that is a big surge for a coastal community.
This is like a catcher's mitt. All this water is going to pile up in here and then run up those rivers and that's where that surge is going to be the worst.
Here's where the radar looks like right now. We're going to move you ahead now. We've kind of advance the radar all the way through tonight and even up to Mobile -- very heavy rainfall. Flash flooding when it comes to fresh water rainfall flooding likely in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, all the way up to West Virginia.
Now we get to the wind speeds. Biloxi Gulf shores, only in the 50s by 7:00. Look at this, 11:00 tonight Biloxi you may have a wind gust of 123. It's a forecast wind gust, a computer model. I get it, but that's what the computer model is thinking right now.
Let me tell you what's going on here across the water. Because right now we can't show you what the radar looks like from New Orleans. It's just too far away yet, but the Hurricane Hunter aircraft are now flying around finding 75, 85, and now just a 94-mile-per-hour wind gust.
Something else the Hurricane Hunter could show us is the radar from the nose cone. It can actually show us what's going on here. And the radar from below the plane kind of spreading on out and we see now the eye developing.
That's what we did not want to see -- Fred. When you get a well defined eye under a central dense overcast, that's when a storm can rapidly intensify and that's what we're seeing now. What we didn't want.
WHITFIELD: And I think it was only two or three hours ago where you talked about the absence of that eye. So that is pretty -- that formation is very fast.
MYERS: Yes, it is because the water is so warm.
WHITFIELD: All right. Chad Myers -- keep us posted. Thank you so much.
All right. Meantime, so it means a state of emergency has already been declared in Louisiana and mandatory evacuations are already under way outside New Orleans.
That's where we find CNN's Kaylee Hartung. So Kaylee -- what are you seeing there in terms of how people are preparing?
[11:19:57] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred -- earlier today we were in the middle of New Orleans in the French Quarter. There were no real preparations to show you visually, so we traveled about 20 miles east into Irish Bayou. This is one of the areas under mandatory evacuation.
And right now as we talk -- I'm just going to swing us around here -- right now we've got these two brothers loading up a truck. You see a pickup truck. They're loading up some boxes. They've put this gentleman's Ford Explorer on the back of a trailer. And then this guy says he's going to throw all of his other stuff into his RV to the other side of New Orleans to Metairie.
But here in this low-lying area we're talking about the stretch of land that's between Lake Pontchartrain and where it dumps out into the Gulf of Mexico. This is life as usual for these folks on a day with heavy rain and high tide. They can see water up to four feet, but when we're talking about a storm surge of five to nine feet, these people recognize when they are under mandatory evacuation, it's time to run.
I asked him, I said I noticed a lot of RVs in the driveway. They said yes, because we know when it's time to go, you throw your stuff in the RV and go. Fred -- people here are heeding the warnings and within New Orleans, as we think of the city center of New Orleans, they need to pay attention to 7:00 tonight. That's when a curfew goes into effect until tomorrow morning -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you. Appreciate it.
Folks there preparing and some know exactly what to do as the hour passes.
So, Mississippi is also opening storm shelters and urging coastal residents there to evacuate.
CNN meteorologist Derek van dam joins us now from Gulf Port, Mississippi. So Derek -- what are you seeing there from the beach?
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right.
Fredricka -- we're actually in Biloxi, which is about ten miles east of Gulf Port, but we are standing along kind of a symbolic highway here, Interstate 90. I've got the Biloxi lighthouse behind me.
This area was completely inundated by water in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina. Everybody remembers it. It's the benchmark storm for this area.
But there's almost an eerie calm taking place across the shops and the Wal-Marts and the Home Depots here. There hasn't been a major rush to the stores to get supplies. Is it storm complacency? Is it fatigue? Time will tell. But we do know that the storm is strengthening very quickly.
Have a look at the ocean. It's quiet right now, but you heard Chad Myers just a few minutes ago about how the storm is now 90 miles per hour and how it's expected to land -- make landfall as a Category 2. That's 96 miles per hour to 110 miles per hour.
So we are just to the west of the official National Hurricane Center forecast path. So the concerns here are the storm surge, the strong winds, and of course, the heavy rainfall. But what we're seeing with this asymmetrical storm, all the heaviest of winds as it stands right now tend to be on the right side of the storm.
So that eye wall, where it makes landfall, is going to be so crucial to determine who gets hit the hardest, who sees the most storm surge, and who sees the most devastation. Do not let your guard down, listen to authorities, evacuate now if you can -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right.
From Biloxi, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast there -- Derek Van Dam. Thanks so much.
Now let's go to Alabama where a state of emergency has also been called.
CNN's Ryan Young is in the Gulf Coast town of Mobile. Ryan -- what's the latest there? RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, something I
heard, Fred, from Derek when he was talking about the complacency. Look, we've talked to several people who don't really feel like they are going to be impacted by the storm.
And in fact, he and talks about that run on the grocery stores. A couple of the ones that we went to so far haven't experienced that run. I saw palettes and palettes of water available, but so far it doesn't seem like anyone is scooping those up.
The mayor though is taking this seriously. They've cleaned out the storm drains. They've prepositioned heavy pieces of equipment and they put all their emergency folks on red alert just in case anything happens here.
When you talk about that storm surge, of course, it could have an impact in this area. We do know the airport is closing around 4:00. The port here was closed this morning. In fact, there was a Carnival Cruise Line that was supposed to come in this morning. They are going to leave them out in the ocean just to make sure that the storm can pass before they come in to this port.
So then you start having the conversation about the critical structures within the city. We do know we saw some sandbags throughout the parts of downtown. But look, we've had people come up and say during normal rains they deal with flooding and some of those streets have already been shut down. So they're prepared for that.
The real question is, are people taking the next part seriously? As we drove through some neighborhoods, we didn't see the massive boarding up that we saw when we were in Florida earlier this year. So really the conversation here is some people were like I'm not going to worry about a Category 1 storm. If it gets to Category 2, that's when I'll start paying attention to it.
Well, of course, now we're starting to see this intensify. So it will be an interesting conversation over the next few hours -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And of course, still the worry is that people don't wait too late, you know. Heed the warnings coming from the experts thus far.
All right. Ryan Young -- appreciate it. Thank you.
All right. Straight ahead, new details about the investigation into last Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas. Why police say they believe the shooter acted alone.
[11:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
We continue to follow breaking news out of London. Police there investigating a collision at the Natural History Museum that injured several pedestrians. Police saying this is not terror-related. The scene was quickly swarmed with police, and the injured are being taken away from the scene. Police also tell CNN that a man was detained, but again they do not believe that this vehicle collision there was terror-related.
[11:29:54] All right. In a few hours from now, back in the U.S., Vice President Mike Pence will be in Las Vegas to pay his respects to victims of last Sunday's massacre. His visit comes as investigators continue to search for a motive nearly a week after that gunman killed 58 people.
Here's what we know right now in the investigation. An alarm from a room down the hall from the shooter is what brought a security guard up to the 32nd floor of that hotel. The guard was shot in the leg when he approached Stephen Paddock's door, that's the gunman.
Police confirmed there was no one in the room with Paddock, and no one appearing to be an accomplice has been seen on the security video. The shooter brought his more than two dozen bags of guns and ammunition up to the room over the course of several days.
I want to bring in CNN's Scott McLean, who is following the investigation. So, Scott, the shooter also had some 50 pounds of explosives in his car. What do police believe his intentions were?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is not exactly clear at this point, Fredricka, it's one of the questions that continues to puzzle investigators. The suspect had some 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle, along with that 50 pounds of that explosive compound called Tannerite.
It is fully legal in the United States. It's commonly used by target shooters to create exploding targets. We also know that Paddock tried to purchase ammunition called tracer bullets, which essentially have a pyrotechnic charge on them that would have allowed him to better see where his bullets were actually landing, potentially increasing the number of causalities that we have.
He wasn't actually able to purchase those bullets at the Phoenix gun show that he tried to purchase them at because they didn't have them in stock. The disadvantage had he have actually been able to buy them and use them, is that police probably would have also been able to trace those bullets and see exactly where they were coming from.
The motive here is pretty unclear. Police haven't really established one at all at this point, but what they have found inside of his hotel room is a note, not a manifesto, not a suicide note, it is a piece of paper with some handwritten numbers on it.
Police are currently analyzing that note for clues they might be able to glean. They are also continuing to question his former girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines at the time of the attack.
We are told she is cooperating with investigators, but her lawyer has made clear she will not be giving a public statement to the media any time soon. As you said, the vice president, Mike Pence, he is currently en route to Las Vegas to take part in a unity prayer walk. He's also expected to speak at that event just after noon local time here at Las Vegas City Hall -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Scott McLean, keep us posted. Thank you so much.
All right, let's talk more about the investigation now. Joseph Giacalone is a former sergeant for the New York Police Department and teaches at Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Casey Jordan is a criminologist and behavioral analyst. All right, good to see both of you.
So, almost a week now has passed since the shooting and we still don't know enough about the motives. So, Casey, how unusual is it for someone perpetuating a massacre like this to not let their motives to known, to not leave a manifest or suicide note, but instead this note of numbers that investigators still want to figure out?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: It is relatively unusual, Fredricka, and this list of numbers, I would call it a list more than a note. I'm not at all convinced that it's cryptic, meant to tell us anything, that the cryptologist of the FBI will be able to decipher it.
It could be mathematical equations for the trajectory of the bullets. It could be mathematically equations related to probability of getting away with it. It could be bank account numbers.
If he wanted us to know what was wrong, he would have left a manifesto, and that is unusual, because generally we look for an (inaudible) event, something that broke down and very often these mass murderers are what we call grudge collectors.
They feel wronged by society and are eager to let us know why they are angry, but I think he didn't leave any clues because it's more power and control than revenge that motivated him, and in the end, he wins if he doesn't give us any clues whatsoever about what that motive is.
WHITFIELD: And so, Joseph, this car of explosives, 1,600 rounds of ammo, 50 pounds of an explosive compound. Does that say that his intention was to detonate that at another location or, you know, that it couldn't just be his get-away vehicle, or that it was to be detonated upon his death or departure?
JOSEPH GIACALONE, FORMER NYPD SERGEANT: Well, we've seen this in the past where somebody has done an incident like this where they've set up explosives to target the first responders, figuring out where they are going to go within a perimeter of a location.
And that parking lot would have been one of those locations that law enforcement would have chosen and I think law enforcement going forward has to understand it. We saw many of these incidents where there were booby traps set up so the police go after these things, right?
[11:35:02] They go very cautiously into them because of the booby traps set up, even the shooting at Columbine High School, they booby trapped the door. So, law enforcement has to be mentally prepared for that, too, as well.
So, maybe they need to think of other locations where they want to set up, this way if somebody does plan this, they can prevent that from happening.
WHITFIELD: So, Casey, authorities questioning the girlfriend who was overseas at the time of this massacre, Marilou Danley, what would be the questions that you would have for her about how much she might have known or at least witnessed prior to this gunman doing this to people?
JORDAN: Authorities are going to just try to reconstruct what was going on in Paddock's life over the past year, months, maybe several years. And Marilou Danley, who had been with him since 2013, is probably the only person that can really offer us some insight.
I happen to think she's completely blameless in this. I do think that he had an addictive and perhaps power control oppressive personality and their relationship was probably marked with some emotional and psychological abuse of Marilou.
When he bought her a ticket, she got on the plane, didn't question it. She thought maybe he was trying to break up with her. I'm interested in knowing what was going on in his life, was he decompensating in any way and showing signs of addiction, power control.
Keep in mind that Marilou, we love to blame the person who's still alive, but I really don't think she had any clue. When she said she didn't know, she really didn't know, and the rest of her life is going to be extraordinarily difficult just trying to, you know, second guess herself.
So, she may be able to give us some clues, the police will let us know in the coming weeks if it sheds light on the motive, but I actually believe we may never have the answer.
WHITFIELD: And you mean in terms of whether he would have expressed to her verbally certain frustrations, anyone or thing he was angry about, or even the motivation about the collecting of these weapons, or if he had collected all these weapons unbeknownst to her, how much would that say about him if she were unable to answer questions about his behavior of collecting all this ammunition and weaponry?
JORDAN: Well, I think the bottom line is that he did this, owned several properties, he did this without her knowing. He was a highly intelligent human, and what we end up wanting is to put a little, you know, square in a peg, peg in a square hole and say there has to be a reason that explains it all, but this is going to be one for the textbooks.
I truly believe this idea you have such a level of power control that you don't want anyone to ever have the answers is something that we are going to use as a baseline for creating future profiles of massacres.
WHITFIELD: All right, Joseph Giacalone, Casey Jordan, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
JORDAN: Great to be here.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, President Trump tweeting this morning that he reached out to Democrats about a new health care bill. What Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer had to say about all that, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump is reaching out to the top Democrat in the Senate about a possible deal on health care reform. This morning, the president tweeting, "I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great health care bill. Obamacare is badly broken. Big premiums. Who knows!"
Senator Chuck Schumer had a different take on the conversation and said in a statement, quote, "The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that's off the table. If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions."
Correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us now from the White House. So, Ryan, the president said earlier he would consider working with Democrats on health care, but doesn't sound like the Dems or the president will have exactly the same approach and the same goal.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, this back and forth this morning between the president and the minority leader demonstrates in a very crystal-clear fashion exactly what stands in the way of any sort of bipartisan grand bargain when it comes to health care.
Most Republicans are not going to support any form of health care reform that is not a repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and no Democrat will support a repeal plan that means taking Obamacare off the books.
So, when you have that sort of an impasse, it's almost impossible to come to some sort of a bargain, and, you know, Donald Trump campaigned on the idea that he was going to get rid of Obamacare.
So, for him to backtrack on that puts him in a difficult position and there's really no motivation for someone like Chuck Schumer and the rank and file Democrats in the U.S. Senate to get on board with a plan that's repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
So, we're really right back where we started in terms of the debate over health care. The Republicans just don't have the votes right now when it comes to repeal and replace, and you're not going to find any Democrat to get onboard with a plan that involves that level of repeal.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. All right. Let's get more perspective on this from our panel. David Swerdlick is a CNN political commentator and assistant editor for the "Washington Post," Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst, also a historian and professor at Princeton University. Good to see you both.
All right. So, David, to you first. We know this president doesn't, you know, like being corrected or, you know, put in his place, especially not publicly, but is that what just happened with Chuck Schumer's statement saying, you know, we do not have the same goal?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, good morning, Fred. And I think Ryan just laid it out pretty clearly. There's a reason that repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act hasn't already happened. It's that Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats want to keep it.
Both sides are probably willing behind the scenes to tinker with it, but that's not what President Trump campaigned on. You know, if you go back to 2009, if Democrats had done Medicare for all or remember the public option, then Republicans could come along now and repeal that and replace it with the Affordable Care Act, because that used to be a Republican plan.
It was Romneycare, but Democrats wound up using that Republican plan eight or nine years ago and now Republicans don't have a plan they can get the votes for to repeal and replace Obamacare with.
WHITFIELD: So, Julian, Senator Schumer, you know, also mentioned in a portion of his statement that efforts by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray, you know, trying to draft a bipartisan bill to stabilize health care might be the more plausible route. But what are the chances that something like that does come about and that the president would endorse that?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you could imagine the president endorsing that. He doesn't have a fixed set of principles on health care, and he's shown many times he'll move around.
The problem is many Republicans on the Hill, particularly in the House, the Freedom Caucus, would really not be happy if that's the health care reform that comes out of Congress and that the president signs, and the president is aware of this.
So, the best possibility for legislation is fixing the markets, but it's going to run right up into partisanship, where many Republicans won't be able to sign on to that. So, the odds are incredibly low at this point.
WHITFIELD: So then, Julian, what is all of this doing, you know, to his calling card as the great negotiator, the great deal maker, and going back, you know, on this issue that has had so many failings already? Why does the president still feel so confident that he could prove to be the great deal maker on this issue?
ZELIZER: Well, the calling card isn't worth much at this point. It's now been many months and he hasn't been able to put together a deal, and although he likes to blame the Republicans, a lot of the blame is on him and the way he has handled this issue. I think part of this is about rhetoric.
It's about getting out the idea that he could reach a grand bargain if everyone else was willing to do it, so that his voters hear that, so that reporters hear that, but there's not much there, so I don't think his tweet or statements about this at this point is really worth that much.
And many legislators in both parties just don't trust the president at this point so it's hard to make a deal when no one trusts you.
WHITFIELD: And then this president has a knack for keeping people guessing. The latest example of that was this remark of the calm before the storm, when meeting with his top military brass. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what did you mean by "calm before the storm" yesterday? What did you mean by that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you very much. You'll find out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll find out?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: First he said that in front of his military, you know, leaders, and then he was asked again about it when he met up with the manufacturers there, and so, you know, David, this ominous, you know, you'll see. Is this really just the president who wants to continue to kind of keep people, particularly his adversaries, on their toes, keep them guessing about what he really means and what he could potentially do?
SWERDLICK: Yes, Fred, he does like to keep people guessing, and the phrase we'll see is something that the president uses in all types of context. You have to assume that this at least was a reference to the military, since he said it initially while doing a photo op with members of the military.
But I don't want to go too far inside the president's head at speculating exactly what he was trying to say, but it seems to be of a piece of this idea he wants to keep people off balance, he wants to suggest he's got some plans that he's ready to unleash at any moment that he's unwilling to share in advance.
But the similarity between that statement and what we were talking about before with health care and some of his tweets is that we're at a point now in the administration as Julian pointed out that his time- honored tactic of sort of bluster or half hyperbole or sort of the salesman game or the big reveal is not as effective in terms of marshaling members of Congress to get on his side.
It's not as effective at making world leaders do what he wants. It's already a tactic that's been diminished over the course of this first year of his presidency.
WHITFIELD: And then, Julian, the whole issue of his secretary of state and him reportedly being on thin ice after also reportedly, you know, calling or describing the president as a moron and how enraged, you know, the president has been, even furthermore once that reporting became public.
[11:50:01] But if Rex Tillerson were to step down or if he were to be encourage to step down or fired, how much more difficult does it make for the president on global affairs push forward or you know, is that even a consideration of this president, how potentially crippling it would be without this secretary of state after so many have stepped down or been shown the door.
ZELIZER: I'm not sure he's really thinking of it that way. In many ways, he has isolated the State Department and Secretary Tillerson long before these comments. That's part of what Tillerson's frustration in July seems to be about.
So, I'm not sure the president sees him as a very valuable player, nor does he see the State Department as a valuable player, but if he stepped down, it's possible he ends up replacing him with someone who has a little more political savvy or a little more clout, even, on the Hill, and maybe can push back against some of the more bellicose tendencies in the administration.
It would be a big deal if Secretary Tillerson stepped down, but I'm not sure the president is as concerned with it as he is about the insults and about the reports in the media.
WHITFIELD: And also a big deal because it's who wants the job after such tumult. All right. David, we'll leave it there and Julian, thank you so much. And we will be right back.
WHITFIELD: An American conservationist purchased millions of acres of land in South America's Patagonia region to protect wildlife and plants. That same person, billionaire, Doug Tompkins, one of the founders of the North Face label, died in a kayaking accident in Chile back in 2015, but his legacy is still alive.
Bill Weir, host of CNN's "THE WONDER LIST" traveled to see it firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:55:04] BILL WEIR, CNN HOST, "THE WONDER LIST": This amazing place is home to the smallest deer on the planet, the little pudu. The most agile and intelligent big cat, the puma. There are over 1,000 different kinds of moths, countless ferns, big trees that were alive 1,000 years before Christ walked the earth. All of which appealed to a certain tree hugger from back east, an adventure lover, adrenaline junkie, big river rafter, big mountain skier, and big moneymaker by the name of Douglas Tompkins.
Dropped out of high school, went west to climb Yosemite's Rocks and fell in with a group called the Fun Hogs. Summer of '68, they climbed into a van in San Francisco, surfed, climbed, skied, kayaked their way all the way to Patagonia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh, I'm ready to get a plane ticket right now see all of that. But wait, I can see it on tv and then later I'll get the plane ticket. "THE WONDER LIST" airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern and host, Bill Weir, joining me now.
Such extraordinary images. No wonder Tompkins was so enamored and said, wait a minute, I want to preserve this as best I can.
WEIR: Right. Right. He's a guy who was an accidental multimillionaire in his 30s and had this sort of midlife realization that his art collection didn't mean as much to him as these volcanos and fjords and valleys and the most wildest corners of the planet.
So, he's tried -- he gave everything, you know, sold all of his collections, cashed all his stock, bought as much land down there as he could with his new soulmate he met late in life, Chris, and they got married and moved to this remote cabin in the middle of the wilderness and started giving this land away but the neighbors were really suspicious and resentful.
They wondered, who is this gringo, comes out of the sky. It would be like if someone from China or Russia bought in South Dakota.
WHITFIELD: They were afraid.
WEIR: Yes, so it's an amazing love story how they pulled together their love of the planet but also fights with neighbors turned to love in the end. Tragic twist but it's a nice way to look at how we argue about what we have to do to preserve what is left of the pristine places.
WHITFIELD: Wow, so that became his life's mission, and you know, and he was able to get all of those skeptics there on board but then how about now?
WEIR: Well, that's it.
WHITFIELD: What's happening to that land?
WEIR: Not exactly. So, he died doing what he loves best. He was kayaking on this glacier lake and he went in the water and his friends tried to save him from hypothermia. The nation of Chile made him an honorary citizen but then a few weeks later the parliament backed away. Because if you're a politician in that part of the country, it's not very popular if you embrace these Americans who want to come in and tell you how to run and manage your land.
So, it's a, you know, sticky thing. And what are the ethics of someone from outside telling people how to live and how to conserve? You know, but as we argue about this stuff, more of those wild places are shrinking and the human population is getting bigger.
So, we're asking some big questions but also luxuriating in some of the prettiest places I've ever seen -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: That's part of the mission for "THE WONDER LIST," Patagonia. Beautiful. We're going to be watching. What are some of the other places that you're going to take us to alongside?
WEIR: We're going to scuba dive down to a lost city.
WHITFIELD: That's me. I like it.
WEIR: A city that sank off the coast of Egypt in the Nile Delta. We're going to follow the salmon run through Alaska and talk about a big fight since they discovered what may be the biggest gold mine right above these precious spawning grounds for the fish.
We're going to Madagascar and then fun in New Zealand. Lots of Americans are moving there after this last election, but they're also in the process of trying to kill every rat and mouse and weasel in the entire country in order to save their native bird life so all kinds of fascinating stories this season.
WHITFIELD: That is incredible. I can't wait and now my list of places to go only continues to grow with your show. Thank you so much, Bill Weir. Appreciate it.
All right. And don't forget to watch the season premiere of "THE WONDER LIST, Patagonia, Paradise Bought." That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN. We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.
All right. Hello again and welcome. Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We're following breaking news on Hurricane Nate, threatening the U.S. which is now likely to be a Category 2 storm when it makes landfall. The 4.5 million people are under a hurricane warning stretching from Louisiana to Alabama.
Nearly 30 million people are in its path. The hurricane is now packing 90-mile-per-hour winds and residents from --