Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump and McConnell Put on a Show of Unity; Trump Does Not Rule Out Visit to DMZ; Iraq Seizes Disputed City from Kurdish Control; Wildfires in Portugal and Spain; California Fires. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 17, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

ISHA ESSAY, CNN ANCHOR: Despite several squeaky wheels, President Trump holds a bizarre press conference to tout his administration's well-oiled machine.

VAUSE: Ophelia's wrath -- the strongest storm to hit Ireland in decades after fanning deadly wildfires in Portugal.

SESAY: Plus, it's not just Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood. How the #metoo movement made the scale of sexual abuse and harassment go viral.

VAUSE: Hello, everybody. We'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. Good to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: With the Republican agenda stalled in the U.S. Congress and the party on the brink of civil war President Donald Trump and the Senate Majority leader attempted a show of unity on Monday. They've feuded for months over the failure to repeal Obamacare. But Senator Mitch McConnell stood by as the President said they've never been closer.

Some commentators said they looked like an unhappy couple in an arranged marriage as the President took questions on a wide range of issues for almost an hour.

SESAY: Mr. Trump said he hopes Hillary Clinton will run again, he'd like the Russia investigation to end and he falsely claimed previous presidents didn't write or call the families of slain U.S. troops. He also did not rule out a visit to Korea's demilitarized zone during next month's trip to Asia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid of provoking North Korea by going to the DMZ?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll take a look at that. I didn't hear in terms of provoking but we will certainly --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: There is a lot to get to in this hour. We have Alexandra Field standing by in Seoul, South Korea. Also our political commentators Dave Jacobson, John Thomas in Los Angeles.

But Alexandra -- first to you. The President dodged that question essentially about whether or not he would go to the DMZ. It was originally on the schedule. Now there's some speculation it may not be on as part of the trip.

If he did follow through or even just simply talking about going there, what is likely to be the reaction from the North Koreans give the tension between these two countries right now?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look John -- I think that we can safely presume that there would be a strong reaction. But there will be a strong reaction from North Korea to President Trump as he makes his trip to Asia based on messages that he would be here to deliver.

We can surmise that based on the pattern that we've been seeing for months now this volleying back and forth between President Trump and state news in North Korea, where you're seeing this sort of lobbing back and forth of threats, the tone of President Trump lately most recently has been alternating between fiery and cryptic when it comes to how his administration will deal with the unfolding crisis on the peninsula.

It's not entirely uncommon that a President wouldn't confirm specific details of an overseas trip. There are certain security precautions that need to be taken. So don't think that we can read entirely into that.

We should also point out that certainly previous presidents have visited the DMZ, both Presidents Bush, President Clinton, President Obama and even Vice President Mike Pence was there during the early months of the Trump administration.

The focus during that trip was, in fact, on the message that Vice President Pence delivered that was when he announced as he did several times that this administration would put an end to the policy of strategic patience. He said that the new means of dealing with North Korea would be about redoubling economic and diplomatic efforts to rein in that rogue regime.

Certainly those aren't the kind of words that we have heard President Trump use recently. He has taken a tone that has been much more suggestive of the United States' ability to unleash a military option if called to do so, if that was deemed to be necessary by the administration.

That, of course has been tempered in a very big way by his Secretary of State who has continued to say very publicly that the primary goal of the administrations is to pursue a diplomatic resolution here -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. Alexandra Field there in Seoul with the update there. We appreciate it. Thank you -- Alexandra.

SESAY: All right. Let's bring it back to the studio here to Dave and John. John -- to start with you, you have been a supporter, fan, if you will, of President Trump's muscular or strident approach when it comes to North Korea.

Is this a trip he should make to the DMZ? Unconfirmed -- he dodged the question. But should he make this trip given -- again as John himself, my colleague here said -- the tensions?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would be worried just from a security standpoint. This I not a place you want to go. This is -- you know, North Korea is not a stable country. They have tons of weapons right next to -- and the border of the DMZ pointed at South Korea., I wouldn't advise it at this stage especially as how tense the tensions are currently.

[00:05:00] But it looks like Trump is just leaving all options open. I just don't see how you even would do it, a secure trip at this point, given what has been exchanged between the two leaders.

VAUSE: Dave -- how does he not go now that it's sort of out there?

SESAY: Yes.

VAUSE: If he doesn't go -- he's backing down, maybe he's scared?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean Donald Trump is a weak president. You've seen this all the time. He's going to repeal and replace Obamacare. He said all this big and bold things that he was going to do as a president. He never delivered.

I guess the question for me is like, why poke the bear? Like he's coming off like a warmonger and like he wants war to happen. And perhaps he doesn't understand what the consequences mean but like, it's the President who's intensifying and accelerating the heated rhetoric between us and North Korea. It doesn't make any sense to me.

VAUSE: With that in mind a North Korean officials has told CNN before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration we want to send a clear message that the DPRK, the Democratic People's Republic of Koreas has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States.

In other words, they warn of ICBM that can reach the East Coast with a nuclear bomb or a nuclear warhead before they'll start talking about any kind of --

THOMAS: -- which is exactly the problem.

VAUSE: Exactly. But you know, John -- considering the U.S. President has repeatedly hinted at military action being the only solution to this problem, that kind if statement does it come as a surprise? THOMAS: No. And a lot of things doesn't come as a surprise. I mean

North Korea originally claimed they didn't want a nuclear weapon, they wanted, you know, nuclear power -- when in fact, they just wanted the weapon.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: You can't trust a thing coming out of this North Korea administration. Look, it's not a pretty place we're in. Tillerson said, when was it, today or yesterday that he's going to try his best to use a diplomatic solution but I just don't see it. Although you've got to give Trump credit where he has gotten more action from economic sanction out of China than any president before.

JACOBSON: Can I just say like this rhetoric, like is pulled directly out of the Trump playbook. They're mimicking what he's doing -- right. And obviously --

THOMAS: No, he's been -- it isn't like that.

JACOBSON: -- there's conversations going on behind the scenes.

THOMAS: Consistently. I mean the bottom line is the last eight years was much of appeasement with North Korea it didn't work and now we're trying a different tact.

SESAY: Dave -- you heard what John just said that, you know, Tillerson -- he referenced Tillerson's comments that he's going to give it his best shot, but given President Trump's public statements, words and Twitter -- I mean how much -- how weakened is Tillerson even if he wants to give it his best shot?

Because it's quite clear he doesn't necessarily always speak for the President of the United States when it comes to dealing with Pyongyang.

JACOBSON: No one else speaks for Donald Trump clearly, besides Donald Trump. Like Rex Tillerson has been humiliated and totally undercut repeatedly by President Trump so he doesn't speak for the White House. He doesn't speak for the United States as far as I'm concerned.

If the President of the United States is undercutting you, if you're saying you're having negotiations and the diplomacy is going to continue until the first bomb is dropped, then the President is saying something totally different, you're not speaking on behalf of the country. And so I think that poses a real challenge for the Trump administration.

VAUSE: Well, from one flashpoint to another one. Two U.S. allies are facing off against each other in Kirkuk. Iraqi military has moved in retaking the city back from Kurdish forces. The U.S. President is trying to avoid taking sides. Another issue he talked about during that news conference in the Rose Garden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We don't like the fact that they're clashing. We're not taking sides. But we don't like the fact that they're clashing.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We -- let me tell you, we've had for many years a very good relationship with the Kurds as you know and we've also have been on the side of Iraq even though we should have been in there in the first place. We should never have been there. But we're taking sides in that battle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ok. Let's go To Michael Krause now. He's a former U.S. Marine captain, State Department contractor as well in Iraqi provided security services for the U.S. Consul-General in Irbil. He spent some time in Kirkuk.

So Michael -- you know the region well. This action taken by the military -- by the Iraqi government here seems to be well-organized, well-disciplined, relatively peaceful. They said they were coming.

The Kurdish forces, they did a deal, mostly left. What is the problem you see moving forward after this point, though? And how - what will the consequences of the President not taking a side in this? Essentially trying to stay above it, keeping his hands clean.

MICHAEL KRAUSE, FORMER U.S. MARINE CAPTAIN: The thing about it is it's the Middle East. You have to take a side at some point. When it comes to Kirkuk, it was inevitable that the federal forces, the Baghdad controlled forces were going to come back in.

We have to understand that Kirkuk was saved by the Kurdish forces from the same fate as Mosul back in 2014. The Iraqi army fled before the ISIS offensive. If it hadn't been for the Kurdish forces coming back in to Kirkuk, then we would have had the same type battle that took place in Mosul.

In terms of taking sides, there's two ways to look at it. First, from a humanitarian standpoint, the Kurds are the largest minority group in the world without their own nation. So if you look at it from that standpoint we should take the Kurdish position.

However, we are still trying to fight ISIS. Now, granted they've been pushed out of Iraq in the Syrian territory mostly and our largest ally in defeating ISIS early on was the Kurds.

[00:10:02] And you can go back and watch the tapes from Obama back in 2015 and David Cameron when they were talking about we're going to have no boots on the ground because we have the Kurds fighting for us.

So moving forward, we have to get someone there, whether it's the State Department and we just had this conversation about Tillerson maybe being diminished in terms of his power but we have to get someone down on the ground in Baghdad to broker some type of negotiated settlement with the Kurds and the federal government of Baghdad.

VAUSE: Ok. Michael -- we appreciate your insight there. Thank you very much for being with us.

KRAUSE: Thank you.

SESAY: Michael -- thank you.

John -- to bring it back to you, you know, you heard Michael say it's the Middle East. You have to pick a side -- the President clearly not wanting to do that. Is that because he's trying to exhibit shrewd political dealings or does he just not have an Iraq policy? I mean, what is your sense here?

THOMAS: I think it's the best I can read into it is what he campaigned on which is staying out of unnecessary conflicts and wars, that America shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place. He said he was against it. And he's trying to keep America out of these conflicts.

I think this is just one of those times where you think we don't need to be in -- and getting into another conflict. America's stretched too thin. We're dealing with things we have to deal with like Iran and North Korea. But beyond that we don't want to go any further.

VAUSE: Ok. Quickly -- Dave.

JACOBSON: I think he looks like a spineless politician who's refusing to pick a side. I mean --

THOMAS: But if he got involved you'd say he's a warmonger. So it's --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: You say get involved. Just very quickly to what Michael said. He was talking about Tillerson and brokering. Not, you know, so --

THOMAS: Right. And I'm --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- to the pleas of involvement --

THOMAS: I wouldn't be surprised to see the State Department get involved.

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. president also -- during that news conference when he asked why he has not spoken publicly about the four U.S. servicemen who were killed, you know, almost two weeks ago in Niger. And then he had this off the cuff remark about calling the families of the servicemen and what President Obama did or did not do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

If you looked at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally, I would say that I like to call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, that set off some fierce criticism from those who used to working for President Obama. Former Obama aide Alyssa Mastromonaco tweeted this. "That's a lie". She said President Obama -- or past presidents did call the family members of soldiers killed in action. He's a deranged animal.

You know, later during the news conference, John -- he did try to -- the President tried to walk it back a little. But this seems to be the problem with the Trump presidency. He doesn't know history and he makes stuff up as he goes along and then it comes back to bite him.

THOMAS: I mean there's just no doubt. When I saw it this morning I thought this is a classic case of foot in mouth, I mean in a way. President Obama, President Bush -- I mean I remember as it happened they call the grieving families. This is what Presidents do.

SESAY: Yes.

THOMAS: Maybe President Trump wants to do it better, maybe bigger and more robust than it's done before but to say that the presidents haven't done that in the past that's just not true.

SESAY: Let me read the White House statement, Dave, and then get you to weigh in. This is what was said. "The President wasn't criticizing predecessors but stating a fact." This is coming from Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary.

She said "When American heroes made the ultimate sacrifice, presidents pay their respect, sometimes the call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they the opportunity to meet family members in person. This president, like his predecessors, have done each of these. Individuals claiming former presidents such as their bosses called each family of the fallen are mistaken."

Dave -- your response to that and really what was the President's intention in actually saying that statement in the very first place?

JACOBSON: I think any time that President Trump could attack President Obama, he's going to exploit that opportunity. The fact is Donald Trump is a pathological liar. We know that. We've seen him tweet out lies every single day, like this isn't different.

I think what's really significant here is the fact that Donald Trump campaigned as the military guy. He is in it for the troops. And he came off extraordinarily disingenuous with that message where he waited ten days to say anything about these fallen soldiers. It's abhorrent.

VAUSE: You know, one of the criticisms also of the President is that there is this blatant shifting of responsibility which happens all the time. That was also on display today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Spoke (ph) with the press, right -- I have great relationships with actually many senators but in particular, with most Republican senators. But we're not getting the job done.

And I'm not going to blame myself. I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done."

VAUSE: You know. A whole (INAUDIBLE) -- generally failing but then he caught himself and he blamed the party.

THOMAS: I think that was actually a fair criticism. You've got a president in this White House that would literally sign anything that the Republicans put on his desk --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- related to health care. He would sign anything.

[00:14:56] SESAY: Dave, I mean again, bearing in mind tax reform is on the table in Congress, how does it behoove you to in public lay the blame as he did and not take any share of the responsibility, lay it on Congress?

JACOBSON: That's something that only Donald Trump can do. But look, it's put up or shut up time. Let's show the American people results. Get stuff done. You're the leader. You've got a problem with Congress. Go walk up to Capitol Hill and jam something through.

THOMAS: It's not unusual for presidents to blame Congress. President Obama did it all the time. Usually they blame -- gridlock.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: The difference is they usually blamed the other party.

SESAY: Yes.

THOMAS: Trump blames anyone.

JACOBSON: For sure.

VAUSE: Well, ok.

The President also -- I know we're moving through this but there was so much news to get to. So, we're moving on.

The President also promised action next week about the opioid epidemic in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I'm saying officially right now, it is an emergency. It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I actually think that sound bite was from August. That wasn't from today.

SESAY: That's when he initially said it.

VAUSE: Let's bring Reef Karim in here because -- Reef is an addiction specialist, founder of the Control Center of Beverly Hills. So Reef -- that was back in August when he promised to do something. He's now promising to do something next week which is essentially what his own commission recommended this government do.

So if he does follow through, what will the impact be?

REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, first off, thank God he said it's a national emergency but we've gone in reverse because there's a bill that came out in 2016 that essentially made it harder for the DEA to track distribution of pills that go on to our streets by going to pharmacies and going to doctors' offices.

And between a number of pills that we see and the number of prescribers and the lack of information that's being put out there, what is he doing?

I mean yes. You can say we're going to do this. We're going to do that. We're going to throw lots of money. Tell me what you're doing. Are you going to throw it at research? Are you going to going to throw it in creating a national registry, which we absolutely need, that tracks these abusable medications so we know who's getting what.

And are you going to track the way that the pharmaceutical companies who are manufacturing these drugs? Are you going to change the scheduling of these drugs? What are you going to do President Trump?

VAUSE: Ok, Reef -- thanks for being with us.

SESAY: Yes. And John -- to you quickly because we're almost out of time -- how does the president declare a national emergency when it comes to opioids and keep his nominee for drug czar -- Tom Marino?

THOMAS: He can't. And I think he even hinted at it today that he was re-evaluating whether or not -- I'm hearing the guy's gone.

VAUSE: Dave, look -- national emergencies are usually for hurricanes, disasters. This is an ongoing, long-term health problem in this country. A national emergency may help, it's not going to fix it.

JACOBSON: It is an epidemic. I think there's something like 142 people are dying per day.

VAUSE: 142 every day.

JACOBSON: Right, right.

VAUSE: Nine to eleven every three weeks. JACOBSON: I think this is a rare opportunity for bipartisanship in

Congress. Like this is something that you should have common sense, you know, coalescing with Republicans and Democrats to come together. It could be a big win for both sides. We have to tackle this issue.

Big pharma has a stranglehold over Washington and we need to address this head on.

VAUSE: Good to have you on. Thank you -- guys.

SESAY: Gentlemen -- appreciate it. Thank you.

JACOBSON: Very wise.

VAUSE: And with that, we'll take a short break.

When we come back, we'll head to Spain and Portugal where wildfires have killed at least 39 people. And these flames are being driven by the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia.

SESAY: And Ophelia also slammed Ireland dumping heavy rain on coastal towns and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. The full cost is next.

[00:18:35] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello, everyone.

Wildfires are ripping through Portugal and Spain killing at least 39 people. Thousands of firefighters are now on the front lines. It has been unusually warm and dry for the area but authorities say some fires may have been started deliberately.

VAUSE: Portugal has declared a state of emergency and is asking for international help. Over the weekend, the flames were fanned from the winds from former Hurricane Ophelia.

SESAY: Well, Ophelia then moved north, weakening to a storm but dumping heavy, heavy rain in Ireland and parts of the U.K. At least three people died. Ophelia brought hurricane force winds.

VAUSE: Leaving hundreds of thousands without power the, strongest storm the region has seen in decades.

Let's go to Pedram Javaheri for more on Ophelia, which is what -- Pedram, heading up to Scotland at the moment.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, what is left of it here at least is going to be impacting that region. And what an incredible storm when you think about how things play out of course along the coastal community significant damage. And officials of course had warned people this is going to be one of the more impressive storms they've seen in decades as you guys were just talking about.

When you look at how things played out here, we're not just talking about a hurricane at one point, we're talking what was a major hurricane but in fact the strongest storm ever to form this far east and this far north made it up to a category 3. And of course, pushed ashore as it transitioned into being what is called an ex-tropical cyclone or a post-tropical cyclone.

Essentially all that means is the center of the storm is now cold cored versus the tropical moisture that makes them make them warm cored and what we call hurricanes. But of course, this comes in as an ex but it means it is still going to be just as strong in the wind Department and that's precisely really what fanned the flames with some 145 large active fires scattered about Spain and Portugal.

The storm system in close enough proximity here to not really fan the flames but also pick up the smoke, pick up some ash, some embers and certainly picking up some sand, as well, from sub-Saharan Africa and push all of this to the north across this region of Ireland into Scotland and eventually across the North Sea, as well.

And in fact, even in France -- look at Strasbourg there. The sea is playing out as such with the blood-color sunsets that we saw across this region. And this is expected to continue as the storm -- what is left of it pushes in across Scandinavia. So going into Tuesday and Wednesday, expecting some spectacular sunsets around that region.

I want to quickly talk about what's happening back around the western Atlantic. There's a 40 percent chance of a tropical system, so it's warm. Models have been indicating this system will catch the same sort of a searing environment and guess where it ends up -- Ireland Friday, into Saturday.

May not be as strong but again kind of an eerie pattern here to get multiple disturbances working their way across that region over the next several days.

Now, I go from western Europe to the western United States. How about this? Fifteen large active fires still around much of California -- a lot of them across northern California at this point. The amount of coverage as far as containment is concerned, we've seen gradual improvement in the last couple of days.

The Tubbs fire there, of course, historic in many respects -- 75 percent containment so good news beginning to be seen across that region. The wind speed, notice they've dropped significantly from where they were just a few days ago.

And I want to bring in the official there out of California. In Sacramento, we have one of the officials there. I don't know if we can incorporate him and bring him in here because I want to ask Ken Pimlott here -- spokesperson for Cal-Fire.

Ken -- we see the conditions begin to improve weather-wise at least across California. How is this going to impact the operation there as far as you guys finally being able to gain the upper hand on what has really been an incredible run of wildfire season the last several weeks across your state?

KEN PIMLOTT, CAL-FIRE SPOKESPERSON (via telephone): Yes. Good evening.

Absolutely the weather is going to make a difference. We're looking at potential for a storm system to come through on Thursday and Friday, bringing up the humidity. The main thing is the winds have subsided for now. And you know, we had the dry north winds that when these fires began late Sunday evening of last week.

As you indicated we're making great strides towards containments on all the fires. There's still some areas where we have some active burning and firefighters all -- almost about a thousand firefighters continue to be on the fire lines and our goal is to continue to get a fire line around all of these while we work with our local communities and begin the repopulation effort.

[00:24:57] JAVAHERI: Chief, you know, I always say Mother Nature has the upper hand when it comes to wildfires like this and really for just about any wildfire if it's going to be windy enough, if it's going to be hot enough or dry enough. It just makes it extremely, extremely difficult if not impossible to gain the upper hand on these fires.

What are some of the challenges you guys are facing right now as we're seeing the weather improve, of course? But what are the challenges moving forward into finally containing most if not all of these fires over the next several weeks?

PIMLOTT: Yes. One, just for size, as you know, just the Tubbs fire alone is over 36,000 acres. And you know, and several others are larger than that. At one point we had 22 large fires burning. So it's just a matter of getting resources on the ground and around all of these fires.

And again, it's trying to get that contained before weather changes again. Because we've indicated with our models here that after this weather front passes we are potentially back in the north wind conditions again and we're looking at Santa Ana winds for southern California as early as this coming weekend. And so there are challenges to get ahead of this weather and make as much progress as possible before adverse weather comes back.

JAVAHERI: Yes. Best of luck to you guys. And Chief Ken Pimlott there with Cal-Fire. Thanks for making time for us tonight.

I will send it back to John and Isha in Los Angeles -- guys.

VAUSE: Ok. Pedram -- thanks for the update.

SESAY: Pedram -- thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, coming up here Hollywood turning its back on disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, booting him out of the industry's most prestigious groups, leaving him a pariah in Tinseltown.

SESAY: And two words are fast becoming a rallying cry on social media. Scores of women are pouring out their personal account of harassment and abuse using the #metoo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

[00:28:00]

(HEADLINES)

SESAY: Now the once feared and powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein's increasingly becoming a pariah in Hollywood. The Producers Guild of America has become the latest organization to condemn him in the wake of sexual harassment and rape allegations. Its board voted unanimously Monday to begin expulsion proceedings.

VAUSE (voice-over): Well, it's a long list. Weinstein has already been kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and his membership in its British counterpart, BAFTA, has been suspended and later Tuesday he could be booted from the board of his namesake company not to mention he's also facing criminal investigations in the U.S. and the U.K.

SESAY: Well as more allegations against Weinstein have surfaced, two words have become a rallying cry of social media. On Sunday actress Alyssa Milano tweeted to followers to post #MeToo as a status if they'd been sexual harassed or assaulted to show just how widespread a problem this is.

And women have been responding in droves on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram. Wendy Walsh joins now. She's a human behavior expert and psychologist.

[00:33:25]

Wendy, thank you. Thank you for being with us. This is incredible. I mean the way you know these moments that happen, where one says something and then it kind of catches fire.

So Alyssa Milano put out that tweet, calling for people to use #MeToo and according to "The Washington Post," more than a quarter million people were discussing #MeToo Facebook around midday Monday and Instagram had also 350,000 posts tagged with that label.

What does that tell us (INAUDIBLE) but what does that tell us about this moment we find ourselves in?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think that that's actually a small number compared to the number of women who actually experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault in their lives. What we're seeing here -- and as you recall, this trend really began a year and a half ago with Gretchen Carlson and Roger Ailes at FOX News and then picked up steam with me and Bill O'Reilly becoming the face of a story of sexual harassment. Then it moved into Silicon Valley with the Uber stories and other and now we're moving into the entertainment industry, an industry notoriously bad, very, very difficult for women and challenging as in terms of sexual harassment.

What we are seeing is a massive cultural shift and I think it's partly because in the last labor statistics it showed that there are actually more women in the workforce in America right now than men.

And so women finally have a voice. We are starting to see not a male- ordered workforce so much a workforce that meets female needs. And I think it's a tidal wave. And now it's become the people's cause, not just the celebrities, not just the people speaking out against their bosses. It has become the cause of every woman.

SESAY: And so a hashtag like #MeToo, what does it mean for dismantling the culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault?

WALSH: It's making it safe for women to talk. Not so much years ago, when this stuff happened, the men who were the perpetrators were called, oh, he's a womanizer. The women who were the victims were called, oh, she's sleeping her way to the top. Right?

Listen to how the language has changed now. I don't believe that you can give sexual consent if someone signs your paycheck. And in fact, I say to women out there, if you've had a sexual act with your boss, you should come forward because the fact that you engaged in sexual behavior with him or her is evidence that you've been sexually harassed.

And so I think people need to come out. I think women who have been forced to sign gag orders, legal gag orders, and unable to speak, should come out now because I don't think this is the time that anyone's going to go after them. The climate is so pro-women right now.

SESAY: You know, Tarana Burke (ph), who is an organizer of youth workers and sexual assault survivor, she said this to your broader point, that it's not just Hollywood, we have seen it move to Silicon Valley and general media and news media.

She said this, "Nobody's floored by the realization that Hollywood is riddled with sexual predators. For every Harvey Weinstein, there's a Joe Blow who's doing the same thing in his community."

I'm interested in your perspective, talking about sexual harassment and sexual assault, we're talking about symptoms not the disease itself, which is patriarchy.

WALSH: Yes, very good. You're so smart. What patriarchy really is at its essence is a bid to control women's reproduction, whether that reproduction is about when she has sex, who she has sex with or whether she's forced to have his baby. And it's -- becomes an abortion argument. Right?

Patriarchy is about controlling reproduction and it begins in workplaces because, you know, it becomes having some equity in the workplace, both on a pay scale and not to be sexually harassed. It's our right.

SESAY: Absolutely. I do want to ask you -- we're almost out of time but I think it's important to end on this note, what about healing?

There's been a lot of talk about the act and surviving it but, healing, is there enough conversation around that?

[00:40:10]

WALSH: Not yet. I think that the arc has to go -- first the pain, the bleeding, the stone throwing, if you will, and then more like an act three. We're going to start to see more men, instead of getting defensive and blaming the victims, we're going to see some tears. We are going to see some men come out and say, I am sorry. I want to hear your pain.

Mark my words, there's going to be a high-profile man who will do a network primetime special with some of his victims and they'll talk it through and people will cry. Hey, talking is healing. I'm not making light of this. A lot of deep healing can simply come from the words, "I'm sorry."

SESAY: Wendy, thank you so much for coming in --

WALSH: Thank you.

SESAY: -- and having this conversation. It is an important one. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well the U.S. president continues to give his administration an A plus for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. But most Americans do not agree. We'll have the latest poll numbers when we come back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: Last month the U.S. president was basking in strong approval ratings for his response to the two recent hurricanes, the ones that hit Texas and Florida. But now not so much. In the latest CNN poll, he's seen a 20-point drop in approval with Puerto Rico still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

SESAY: Still, at the White House Monday, Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for how his government is dealing with the disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gave us an A plus for how we the hurricane aftermath and that includes Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Well, CNN has found many people in Puerto Rico are so desperate for water they're going to potentially contaminated sites to get it. Weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, 28 percent of the island still does not have water or sewer service; 86 percent of the island still does not have electricity.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) joins us now. He's an actor from Puerto Rico. He's been working, to try and get supplies to the island.

We spoke three weeks ago.

KAMAR DE LOS REYES, ACTOR: Yes.

VAUSE: OK, so we now -- let's put the politics aside.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- the president gets low approval ratings; you can't get approval ratings if you're in Puerto Rico right now. You can't (INAUDIBLE) doesn't mean a whole lot.

What's the urgent need that -- what's the thing that people need most right now?

Obviously electricity but (INAUDIBLE) people that you can't rebuild --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- what beyond that?

What do they need?

DE LOS REYES: Yes, they need water. They need sanitary water. So and unfortunately, other than being able to boil it, that's the only way to get it, other than electricity, so it's kind of like a catch- 22.

But we need to figure out a way to deliver enough water to the people that need it most.

(CROSSTALK)

[00:50:45]

VAUSE: We've got 3.2 million people (INAUDIBLE) --

(CROSSTALK)

DE LOS REYES: -- Americans that are lacking in water. I mean, that's what -- you know, my brother and I and dayglowrelief.org (ph), have partnered together with a group of pilots. We are -- and we have gotten a bunch of contributions from different organizations here in the United States. And we are flying that stuff in and we have local groups on the ground that are meeting us on the ground. We're making sure that everything gets delivered to the proper people, that the chain of command isn't being broken. VAUSE: I find this incredible because it seems to be so many people out there who have said, OK, something's broken. Something's not working. We have to fix it.

DE LOS REYES: Yes.

VAUSE: So, when you do that, what are the problems you start encountering?

What are the difficulties you have seen?

DE LOS REYES: Well, look. It's hard to say because you know there's obviously -- you know there was a disconnect with the federal government and the local government. But there's also a lot of crime going on in Puerto Rico. I hate to say that because this is my island but it's happening.

A lot of things are getting lost, a lot of things are being put in the wrong hands.

VAUSE: Right. A lot of people also desperate, too.

DE LOS REYES: Yes, people are desperate. For sure. For sure. So it is important that whoever is delivering, it's important that they know who they're delivering it to and those people that are on the ground need to make sure that it gets into the right hands, which is what my brother, Daniel, does -- he's from the Zach Brown Band (ph) -- that's what we are doing.

VAUSE: We spoke, what, about two or three weeks ago?

Just after Maria. We knew the (INAUDIBLE) group was going to be an issue. We (INAUDIBLE) maybe six months to get that fixed. Everybody hoped it would be sooner. Clearly, that's not going to be any time soon.

But you do think that (INAUDIBLE) so many people in Puerto Rico would still be struggling now just to get clean drinking water and sanitation up and running?

DE LOS REYES: Not like this. Not like this. We are the United States of America. I just didn't think that it would be like this. It's a sad, sad situation. And I don't see it getting better anytime soon.

VAUSE: And when you talk to your family who are living through the conditions, because your mom who is 84, I think.

DE LOS REYES: Yes

VAUSE: Refusing to leave and the family's still there. And then -- I don't want to say it's normal but does it become a normality to this?

[00:55:30]

DE LOS REYES: And we're very fortunate because my mother doesn't need a lot to survive. She needs clean water. And, again, my brother who was just there this past week, was able to go and deliver a Catadin (ph) Pro microfilter that filters all the bacteria.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Not a lot of people in Puerto Rico get --

DE LOS REYES: -- that sort of thing which is what we're trying to do at dayglowrelief.org. We're trying to get those types of things to the people in Puerto Rico so that they can survive long enough until the federal government and the local government get the electricity up and running.

VAUSE: They can work it out and get their act together?

DE LOS REYES: Yes. Correct.

VAUSE: Hey, well, we'll be sure the best of luck. Thank you so much. Please come back. Check in again with us sometime and let us know how it's going.

DE LOS REYES: Thanks.

SESAY: It's a story we'll stay very much on top of.

VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.