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CNN NEWSROOM

Somber Ceremonies Honoring Victims of 9/11; Major Category 4 Hurricane Florence Takes Aim at Carolina Coast; Interview with Mayor Brenda Bethune; Peter Strzok's Attorney Denies Media Leak Strategy to Harm Trump Administration; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:45] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we return to the names. It is -- the ceremony itself is -- it encapsulates so much of the history, the memory, and the time that these families went through. The survivors, those whose loved ones died, are reading off those names.

There will be two more moments of silence. One shortly in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, for when the flight there crashed into western Pennsylvania. And then a final one when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 Eastern Time. And then the names will continue. They will continue reading the names for almost two hours, until every name is read. 2,983 people remembered, the individuals that died on September 11th, 2001, and six others who died on September 26th, 1993, during the first attack on the World Trade Center.

Just a -- it is extraordinary to see, no matter how much time has passed, it is still difficult to watch. Still difficult to see. And it's still difficult to think about. It's like time and history sort of collapsed into a single moment here -- Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. For everyone. Miguel, stay with me. I want to welcome our viewers again. It is the top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And we have just been watching and honoring and taking that moment of silence to mark the collapse 17 years ago this morning of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

As we all know all too well, almost 3,000 lives were taken that day when those hijacked planes crashed into both of the Twin Towers and into the Pentagon on that clear September morning. Another hijacked flight that was believed to be headed for the capitol instead was crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when passengers on United Flight 93 rose up and overtook the terrorists.

As we wait to get to the president, who will honor those lives this morning in Shanksville, let me go back to New York to the southern tip of Manhattan to Ground Zero. Miguel is back with me.

And Miguel, we have both covered this year in and year out, and we have been there. But I always feel at a loss for words, and like anything that I say can't do justice to the moment and to all of those thousands of people who lost those closest to them.

MARQUEZ: It is -- it is still difficult to talk about. I'm surprised at my own emotion on this day. Taking the subway down today, it was a quieter day. New York, the city itself, is more somber. It is hard to think about those 343 firefighters who were going up those stairs as they were coming down, and here's the fifth moment of silence to remember those who died in Shanksville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loved his sister and aunt.

HARLOW: Those are the bells tolling in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, marking 10:03 a.m. Eastern time, 17 years ago, United Flight 93 brought down by those heroes who overtook the terrorists.

We will hear from the president. The president of the United States is in Shanksville. He will take to the stage there and speak in just moments. You will hear it in its entirety right here.

Also, I want to get to the breaking news we're following today, and that is Hurricane Florence. It is time, if you are on the coast there on the Carolinas, to get your evacuation plans in order, if you live in any of the areas that are highlighted, let's pull this up on your screen.

[10:05:11] Florence is extremely dangerous. It's a category 4 storm right now. It will likely stay that strong or get stronger when it hits the coast of the Carolinas, more than one million people have already been ordered to evacuate. The mayor of Myrtle Beach is pleading for people to get out. That is because she's so worried about the traffic that's going to build up along the interstate as people try to drive away from this hurricane.

Gas lines very long. Lines at the tolls very long. Store shelves empty. Simply put, Florence is a monster. Look at this. This is an image from space. This is taken from the International Space Station. That is the intensity of the eye wall.

Let's get to our meteorologist Chad Myers who joins me now.

All right, Chad Myers is going to join us in just a moment. He's checking on the latest numbers. We're going to get to a quick break. We'll go to Chad right after this for the read.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:10:25] HARLOW: All right. We're keeping a very close eye on Hurricane Florence. Meteorologist Chad Myers is with me now.

Chad, update us on the forecast. I mean, what we're looking at now in terms of the path and the intensity.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The path hasn't changed since really 5:00 a.m., Poppy. But a couple of things have. And we will get a brand new update in about 50 minutes, 5-0 minutes, because the 11:00 update will have a new track. Hopefully, it doesn't change very much because if it does change then, obviously, the hurricane center is saying wait, we don't know what's going on.

If you keep it in the same focus, the same place, then at least the people that need to get out know that they need to get out and not change your mind. Yes, I'm going, no, I'm not going, because that's just absolutely the worst.

Hundred and thirty mile per hour storm, earlier today was 140. It lost its eye wall and it's rebuilding one right now. So we're seeing this eye wall right there from space, and if it gets itself back together and the hurricane hunter is out there flying around it right now, so 129 miles per hour, so 130 seems pretty darn accurate from where we are. And that's what's going to happen as it moves into warmer water, it will get stronger, the eye will come back.

We're going to go to 150 miles per hour, maybe even 145. Now even if we make landfall at 4 or even if it's a 3, it doesn't matter. What we have going on here is a bubble of water under the storm now. A lot like Katrina had a bubble. Katrina didn't hit the landfall at 4. And it really, what it was, it was a bubble of water that it built when it was a 5 that it pushed into Bay St. Louis and Gulfport and the like all the way out to the Dauphin Island with that wall of water.

Some of those waves now when we talk was 26 feet tall in Katrina. This could be 20. And you know what happened. You could see what happened in that storm. And this is the potential if you're on the right side of where the eye makes landfall. The left side is going to be less. It won't be zero, but it will be less. Somewhere between 2 and 4.

Here, they're going 6 to 12 in the north of Wilmington into Morehead City, easily. Up some of these rivers, we could see 18 feet. And if you are less than 18 feet above sea level and your house is, you need to leave. That's why this storm surge watch is going to turn into a warning later on today.

Here comes the storm on the European model. Making a run kind of at Wilmington. We'll see. I stopped it right there to give you an idea of what that -- the American model, the GFS, is thinking, farther to the north, closer to Cape Hatteras. We'll see if that happens. It makes a tremendous difference for rainfall, for one, but for surge.

This is going to be a surge with this storm that might be 70 miles wide. OK. So even if you get missed by 60, you still get hit. That's why we have to evacuate so many people. It's so wide right now. And it's getting wider -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. 18 feet potential storm surge, 70 miles wide. This thing is no joke.

Thank you, Chad. Stay with me.

Nick Valencia joins me now from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And again, we look at you and we look at the blue skies. At least there's no one on the beach behind you. That is good because the warning there from the mayor is get out.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're starting to filter out slowly but surely. When we first showed up this morning there was a lot of people on the beach trying to catch those last rays of sunshine.

As we've been here throughout the morning, Poppy, those clouds have gone bigger. The water, as I'm starting to inch away from it, has gotten closer and closer to us. I mentioned, though, that there are still some beachgoers, especially some vacationers here.

We're joined by a couple of them right now. Sheri Hamilton, Stephanie Fender.

You guys are visiting from outside of Indiana -- outside of Bloomington. Right? I mean, what do you think of what the mayor is saying, that it's a plea for everyone to get out? Are you leaving?

SHERI HAMILTON, EVACUATING AHEAD OF HURRICANE FLORENCE: Yes. Absolutely. Yes. We're out today. Yes.

STEPHANIE FENDER, EVACUATING AHEAD OF HURRICANE FLORENCE: We here a few minutes.

VALENCIA: You guys had a vacation planned. Drove all the way down here.

FENDER: All the way down here. Made it an overnight, two-day drive, and we got here. We were about 10 minutes out and I got a phone call saying that, well, if you're still coming, we want you to know you have to evacuate. And I was like, well, we're 10 minutes away. We're on our way. We'll need a place to sleep tonight so.

VALENCIA: That mandatory evacuation you're talking about takes into effect or goes into effect at noon Eastern. What do you think, Sherry, of the people that are deciding not to evacuate?

HAMILTON: I think it's sad. I mean, you really need to get out. I mean, they're saying this storm is like 150 miles wide. So seriously, you need to take this seriously and move.

HAMILTON: One of the questions people have is, you know, where are people supposed to go, if this is going to affect so much of coastal Carolinas and Virginia? Where are you going to go?

FENDER: Possibly the Biltmore. We love --

HAMILTON: Nashville, right?

FENDER: Yes. Yes. We also love Gatlinburg, so --

[10:15:02] VALENCIA: So just trying to get further and further inland. Yes. Further west.

HAMILTON: We're going to head west.

VALENCIA: And just last question, you've been through a hurricane before. You're not trying to see another one, I'm sure.

HAMILTON: No. Absolutely not. I was a small child, but no. No.

VALENCIA: All right.

HAMILTON: Don't want to experience that again.

VALENCIA: Well, thank you guys so much for taking the time. Sorry about your vacation. So sorry about that.

HAMILTON: Thank you.

VALENCIA: Sheri was talking about past hurricanes, and just how devastating they can be. Poppy, they've talked a lot about here about Hurricane Hazel back in 1954. Hurricane Hugo, more recent than that in 1989. Those were especially devastating hurricanes. Hurricane Florence already being compared to both of those -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Thank you very much, Nick, for being there, for talking to people. I'm glad they're all on their way out. We appreciate your reporting.

Brenda Bethune is with me, she's the mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and she has been pleading with people all morning to heed these evacuation warnings. She joins me on the phone.

Mayor, thank you for joining me. And let's just talk about what you're seeing on the ground there. Are people, you know, following what you're pleading with them to do, and that is to get out?

MAYOR BRENDA BETHUNE, MYRTLE BEACH: Good morning. And so far, yes, we are seeing people leaving town. We have a four to six-time increase of traffic heading out of Myrtle Beach, but it needs to be much more than that. We still have a lot of people who are not taking this seriously. And I cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to the governor's orders for mandatory evacuation and our own.

HARLOW: You know, Brenda, what we often find covering these, and I have covered far too many of these where I have seen people not evacuate, including, you know, Superstorm Sandy here in New York. I saw what happened in my own neighborhood when people didn't leave. One of the reasons why sometimes they don't leave is because they feel like they have nowhere to go, or they don't have the financial resources to afford to go to a hotel or to afford the gasoline.

What kind of state-wide federal resources are there for folks struggling that just don't know where to go?

BETHUNE: We have multiple shelters set up across the entire county, across the state. So we have places for people to go. And we just encourage everyone to reach out to friends, to family members, who do live in other areas, and try to find somewhere safe to get to. We are evacuating our animal shelter. We have found safe shelters for our pets. We have a shelter set up for our homeless, which is very critical during a time like this.

HARLOW: OK.

BETHUNE: And the issue with Myrtle Beach is we have over a million people to get out of town, and we do not have a major interstate. So this is a severe issue that is critical to get people out of town. It will be a very slow process. It requires a lot of patience. But it is critical that people do take the storm seriously.

HARLOW: OK. Mayor Brenda Bethune, I know you have a lot of work to get to, you and your team, so I'll let you go do that. Thank you for the warning. Again, everyone should heed it. We appreciate it. And good luck over the next few days.

Ahead for us, all morning here, we are of course remembering the tragedy of 9/11, 17 years ago today. The president is set to speak in minutes in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where those heroes brought down Flight 93. We'll take you there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:23:10] HARLOW: All right. We do have breaking news that I want to get to right now. An attorney for former FBI agent Peter Strzok this morning is denying reports that Strzok and his ex-girlfriend who also worked at the FBI, Lisa Page, had a strategy to deliberately leak information to the press hoping to harm the Trump administration.

This comes after new text messages between the two have been released and they reference a, quote, "media leak strategy." In a tweet this morning, the president also repeated the accusation and also asked why the Department of Justice and FBI are not doing anything about it.

Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju has this reporting. He joins me on the Hill.

Tick through it with us. I mean, what the texts were, what they show.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Mark Meadows, the congressman who leads the House Freedom Caucus, is part of this effort to investigate the FBI, released a letter last night to Rod Rosenstein detailing new text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in which he, Meadows, alleges a coordinating effort on the part of the FBI and DOJ to release information in the public domain in an effort to harm President Trump, and specifically, Meadows refers to text messages that he had just received, one from April 10th, 2017, where Strzok tells Page he wants to talk to her about a, quote, "media leak strategy with DOJ."

And that letter also cites another text message referring to a, quote, "article coming out" about, quote, "Page's namesake." And that appears to refer to Carter Page, the former Trump foreign policy adviser who was the subject of a "Washington Post" article soon after that. That article had the headline, "FBI Obtained FISA Warrant to Monitor Trump Adviser Carter Page."

Now Meadows seizing on this information suggested this is all part of this coordinating effort and asked for further investigation. Trump seized on that this morning, put out that tweet saying that there's something wrong.

[10:25:03] But Peter Strzok, the attorney, pushed back this morning, with his own statement saying just moments ago, "The term media leak strategy in Mr. Strzok's text refers to a department wide initiative to detect and stop leaks to the media." So they say there's a completely different interpretation that Meadows had in that letter last night -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Right. And now you've got the president calling on the Department of Justice, FBI to do something. Big question, how are Republicans on the Hill is going to respond? We'll keep a close eye on it.

Manu, important reporting. Thanks.

So in moments, the president will speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He will honor the victims of 9/11 17 years ago today when this country was attacked. We will bring you the president live next.

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