Return to Transcripts main page
Death Toll Higher from Hurricane Maria Than Reported; Trump's Trashes the Media at Nashville Rally; White House Daily Briefing Begins. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired May 30, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:34:14] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting some shocking new numbers into CNN. The new estimate putting the death toll to Hurricane Maria 70 times higher than the official death toll. According to these Harvard researchers, more than 4,600 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and they say that's a conservative estimate.
Let me say that all again. More than 4,600 people dead. For the record, the island's official death toll stands at 64. Researchers say many of the deaths were due in part to power outages that affected medical care and other services.
I have with me Bethenny Frankel. You know her from "The Real Housewives of New York." She is the founder of Skinny Girl. But she has chartered all of these planes full of supplies to bring to victims of the national disaster. This was before Trump and FEMA got to the island. She had a suitcase with 100,000 gift cards and raised more than $300,000 through her foundation, Be Strong. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:35:15] BETHENNY FRANKEL, ACTRESS & FOUNDER, BE STRONG FOUNDATION: Ah.
Hi, Nila. How old are you.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Seven.
FRANKEL: Seven? My daughter is 7 also.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
Ah, can you imagine? I think you need it, $600, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
FRANKEL: Oh, I didn't do anything, but I'll take a hug.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And Bethenny is with me here.
Thank you for all that you've done for the people of Puerto Rico.
First, the news on the death toll, the fact that the official estimate is 64 people and the new number is 4,600.
FRANKEL: That is recorded. I'm the only one who is not surprised. I tweeted in October, I've been there six-plus times now, I was just there two weeks ago. In the beginning I tweeted they were saying there were 17 deaths. I had seen people in excess of a hundred who were dying. And we've sent 50 million in relief and when we were there, I was sending patients home. So every plane that went there filled with relief, patients, sick people who were dying, were coming home. And we were in the mountains where people couldn't get to, people who were ankle deep in mud, people today still have no electricity, the elderly have no dialysis --
BALDWIN: Take me back five steps. Why did you, Bethenny Frankel, it's obvious the pictures and stories were horrendous. But why did throw so much of yourself into this island?
FRANKEL: After helping in Houston and then in Mexico after the earthquake, I realized I had a skill set. And Puerto Rico was the most challenging because people were telling me you can't go because they have no water or electricity. And I said I have to go. This was before Trump went there. When you do something and lead, that's when people jump in, that's how we got the cargo, that's how we amassed the airplanes and that's how we raised $1.1 million in cash. It was $1.1 million in cash that goes directly into people's hands.
BALDWIN: Why was that so important that you gave them cash? It's my understanding you really care about rebuilding the communities, putting money back in these local economies that have been so totally devastated.
FRANKEL: In the beginning, people need water, rice, beans, the medicine, the respirators and the solar power. People are spending a thousand dollars a month to get their electricity on to get their dialysis. The reason for the cash is, a, dignity. They know what they need. They could need water, insulin, diaper, a thermometer. They know. And lastly, to pump money into the economy. It needs to be rebuilt. And not every inch of the island looks like that. So many places do. There was still power outages when I was there two weeks ago. People see San Juan and think it working.
BALDWIN: You've been there six or seven times. Have you seen improvements?
FRANKEL: You see improvements but it's hard to keep up because the power keeps going out. The poor keep getting poorer. San Juan will survive because there are hotels and all that. Places in the mountains, people have no homes, their kids are depressed, dogs without legs. It's a very bad situation. It has never not been a crisis. And this is going to be another hurricane season that's supposed to be worse. So people need to lock their doors before they get robbed and people need to know who they're investing their money in to give directly to people. So much corruption. BALDWIN: There are all these reports that tens of thousands of people
are fleeing the island to Florida. Do you get the sense in talking to people on the ground that Puerto Ricans are giving up on Puerto Rico?
FRANKEL: Two things are happening. There are a lot of refugees. We've given a lot of money for refugees. Orlando is a big place they're going to. People in Puerto Rico, they're very family centric and they will have nothing and be living in mud and have rats and they'll be loving because they're with their family. They have fortitude, we're strong, we're not giving up. The power goes out, they make it like it's nothing. And they're not complainers. They're very honest. We would go to the house and give a cash card and, by accident, go again and they say, you already gave me one, give it to that person. So they have an amazing spirit, but they're being kicked like dogs and it's time for them to finally get a little break. Now with this hurricane season, they might not get that break.
[14:40:22] BALDWIN: Bethenny Frankel, thanks so much. Stay in contact.
FRANKEL: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
If you want to find out how to help Puerto Rico victims through Bethenny's charity, go to bestrongdeliveringgood.com.
Just ahead on CNN, President Trump eggs on the crowd in Nashville last night against the media. We'll show you what happened when our own chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, started to get heckled.
And Roseanne, with brand new comments out in the last couple of minutes saying she is not a racist. This just in. Stand by.
BALDWIN: President Trump going after one of his favorite targets at last night's campaign rally in Nashville, the media. His vitriolic comments drummed up the crowd and causing some to turn against reporters in the audience, including our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There they are right back there.
TRUMP: They're fake. They are fake.
TRUMP: Look how many of them. Look how many of them. Oh, boy.
(BOOING) TRUMP: That's a lot of people back there.
TRUMP: That's a lot of people. Fake news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Jim later tweeted out this photo, and he said there were plenty of people who came up to him with nice things to say.
But CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House reporter, Julie Davis, tweeted this, "Depressing sight at Trump rally in Nashville. Adorable young boy, probably about my son's age, pointing iPhone at me and other reporters and snapping pix while screaming 'fake news'. A child who will grow up believing a free and fair press is the enemy, a bad thing to be mocked and hated."
Jim Acosta is with me now.
Wow. That's strong from Julie. But tell me about your experience and how bad the heckling got.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it got bad at one point towards the end of the rally. There was one man standing in front of what we affectionately call the press cage, the press area inside these Trump rallies, and he was yelling "scumbag" and that sort of thing at us for a good 20 minutes or so.
There is some audio that we can play that for you and paint the picture for you a little bit more -- Brooke?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're disgusting. These scumbags. You're disgusting! That's the scumbag right there. Look at the scumbag! You work for CNN, dude. You work for CNN. You're a scumbag!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Brooke, it is a little surreal to hear that stuff hurled at you while Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" is playing in the background.
ACOSTA: I've been doing this for a while, so I'm not too put off by it.
But, Brooke, I want to show another picture to you. You showed it a few moments ago. This gentleman came up to me during the rally wearing a "You are fake news" T-shirt, he came up to me and we shook hands. I thought it was fascinating. So many people came up to us and they would express their frustration and parrot things they hear on FOX News and other conspiracy oriented networks. But after they talked to you -- I wonder if Trump supporters are going to run out of anger before the president himself does. I was starting to get the sense of that last night. So many people came up to us and more than a few of them said thank you for what you do, we know you really get targeted can he White House, but we appreciate what you're doing. My sense of it is as the president whips up this frenzy and tries to turn the crowd against us at this rally, there are many of them who enjoy the show and know some of this is an act. But in the long run, they may be coming out of this sense of hostility that he's placed in many of them towards us. That was I think, you know, representative by that gentleman in the you are fake news T-shirt. He came up to me and we had a nice 10-minute conversation about what was happening in the news.
My sense is perhaps while the president seems to have this ability to divide and conquer and pit one crowd against another that maybe over time his supporters might say, you know what, this isn't working anymore.
BALDWIN: I love that.
ACOSTA: They may want to binge watch something else.
BALDWIN: I love that. I love that you're so right. Get out in the country and listen to what other people have to say. When you end up face to face and having a conversation, you find out --
ACOSTA: That's right.
BALDWIN: -- you actually aren't that much different than you initially thought.
ACOSTA: We're all Americans. That's right.
BALDWIN: We are, we are.
You called out the president's erroneous statement about how long African-Americans in this country have been able to vote and for whom they have historically voted. Tell me about that.
ACOSTA: Right. It's interesting, he calls us fake news and whips up the crowd and gets us them to call us fake news, but yet, he spreads fake news himself. He did it again last night talking on a variety of subjects. Once again saying Mexico will pay for the wall on the border when we know that is never going to happen.
But at one point, he talked about African-American voters and said they've been voting for Democrats over a hundred years. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: African-Americans vote for Democrats, for the most part. You know, a vast majority. They've been doing it for over a hundred years.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Either the president is peddling fake news himself there or he hasn't read a history book and doesn't understand the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Johnson, that is what gave African- Americans the right to vote all over this country, especially in the south where there were so many voting barriers placed against them.
It's another indication of the president projecting on to us that which he is doing himself. He is spreading fake news, but he wants to call us fake news. It is sort of Alice in Wonderland, "Through the Looking Glass" Stuff. Brooke, this is what happens all the time covering the president. He'll call us fake news and then spread fake news of his own.
[14:50:07] BALDWIN: Just go back to that song.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: At the White House.
Just in, she may be cancelled but she's anything but quiet. Roseanne with brand new comments about her racist tweets and a brand-new defense. Stand by.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will host the White House Sports and Fitness Day with a number of activities on the South Lawn, including flag football, baseball, volleyball, golf, soccer and track.
The administration is committed to highlighting the benefits of youth sports and reversing declining participation rates through the development of a national strategy. As the mom of three preschoolers, I support them burning as much energy as possible, and I think sports is a great way to do that.
Lastly, a special "happy birthday" goes out to my nephew, Thatcher (ph), who turns 1 today. So happy birthday, Thatcher (ph).
SANDERS: And with that, I will take your questions. Jonathan (ph).
QUESTION: Sarah, now that Trey Gowdy, who has actually seen all the classified information on what the FBI was doing, says that there is nothing to the allegations that they were spying on the Trump campaign and, in fact, Gowdy says that he FBI was doing exactly what they should have been doing -- given what Trey Gowdy has said, is the president prepared, now, to retract his allegation that the FBI was spying on his campaign? SANDERS: No, clearly, there's still cause for concern that needs to be looked at. Let's not forget that the deputy director of the FBI was actually fired for misconduct. The president's concerned about the matter, and we're going to continue to follow the issue.
QUESTION: But Gowdy was in the briefing. He knows what was done, and he is saying that these allegations are baseless.
QUESTION: So there was no spying on the Trump campaign.
SANDERS: Certainly, the president feels that there is cause for concern, and it should be looked at. And like I just said, the deputy director of the FBI was fired for misconduct. There are a...
SANDERS: There are -- I'm not finished. There are a number of things that have been reported on, and that show, I think not just for the president, but a number of Americans, a large cause for concern, and we'd like to see this fully looked into, and we'll continue to follow that matter.
QUESTION: But based on what evidence? What evidence do you have?
SANDERS: Sorry, John (ph), but we're going to keep moving so you guys can (inaudible)
QUESTION: What -- what does Secretary -- what does Secretary Pompeo need to hear from the North Koreans today at the meeting in New York for the summit to go forward?
SANDERS: We're continuing to prepare for the meeting between the president and the North Korean leader. As the president says, if it happens, we'll certainly be ready. We've got not only the meeting that you just mentioned; Secretary of State Pompeo is meeting with the president currently, and when he finishes that meeting, he'll be headed to New York for a dinner tonight, as well as a day full of meetings tomorrow. The advance team led by Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagan met with the North Korean team in Singapore earlier today, and again, expected to do so tomorrow.
And we want to thank our strategic partner in Singapore, who's been incredibly generous in agreeing to host the summit, and the president's very appreciative of Prime Minister Lee for all of their efforts. We also have reports back from the DMZ. The U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador Sung Kim, met with North Korean officials earlier today as well, and their talks will continue. So far, the readout from these meetings has been positive, and we'll continue to move forward in them.
QUESTION: Do you think it will take place now, the summit, or is there a denuclearization plan taking shape?
SANDERS: The conversation is going to be focused on denuclearization of the peninsula. That's what these ongoing conversations taking place now will be centered on, as well as this summit that would take place in Singapore. And we're going to continue -- as long as that is part of the discussion, we're going to continue to shoot for the June 12th and expect to do that.
QUESTION: Two questions, first on North Korea. In the interest of the nuclear program, (ph) that North Korea also maintains other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons. Does the president intend to raise those in the summit with Kim Jong-un?
SANDERS: I'm not going to get ahead of all of the topics that may come up. The priority focus that we have discussed, and that are in the ongoing conversations at the -- with the secretary, Pompeo, as well as at the DMZ are focused on the denuclearization of the peninsula. But certainly, I think a number of topics are likely to be discussed at the summit.
Francesca (ph)? Sorry, I'm just going to do one question today. Francesca (ph)?
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. I -- I do have -- I do have two, if you'll indulge me (ph) quickly. Number one, going back to...
SANDERS: I'm going to do one question today, so I can try to get in as many people as possible before the (inaudible) starts.
QUESTION: OK, well, I'll -- I'll -- I'll make it all one question. On North Korea and the possible summit, can you tell us what your deadline is at this point for deciding whether or not that will or will not happen? And on a completely separate topic, Kim Kardashian is supposed to be at the White House today. Can you tell us a little bit more about that -- who she plans to meet with? It's been reported that she'll be meeting with Jared Kushner, as well as President Donald Trump.
SANDERS: She is expected to be here at the White House. I can confirm she'll be here. We'll keep you posted on any meetings that take place, and what those look like.
In terms of North Korea, as I've said, we are preparing and expect that to take place on June 12th, and we'll be ready, if it does, on June 12th, and it it's not, then we'll be ready if it takes place on June 12th, and we'll be ready, if it does on June 12th. And, if it's not, then we'll be ready if it takes place on July 12th.
QUESTION: If the attorney general is not living up to the president's expectations, if he is so frustrated with him, why doesn't he just fire him instead of sort of nursing these grievances so publicly?
SANDERS: Look, the president's made his viewpoint very clearly known, and I don't have any personnel announcements at this point.
QUESTION: Sarah, the president said during his Right To Try legislation signing that drug makers will soon be announcing what he called a voluntary, massive drop in their prices. Is there any more you can tell us on exactly when --
-- this is going to happen and how widespread this massive drop in prices will be?
SANDERS: Yes, I can't give any other details at this point, but we do expect some specific policy pieces that come out on that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has the president spoken --