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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Forecast: Hurricane Taking Aim at Carolina Coast; President Trump Already Boasts About Tremendous Accolades for Florence; Stockpile of Water in Puerto Rico Never Distributed. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:l7] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin this hour with breaking news in what could be the worst storm to hit the Carolinas in a generation. The National Hurricane Center is just out with new information on the strength and the direction of hurricane Florence. And even without any numbers, the picture alone is terrifying, as are the possibilities from massive storm surges to more than 3 feet of rain to areas that could experience hurricane- force win for a day and a night.

We'll, of course, be covering all the angles, all of the evacuations, the preparation, all of it. We want to begin with the very latest numbers and the track of the storm.

CNN's Jennifer Gray joins us.

What have you learned, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, the latest advisory just came out about five minutes ago and we have learned it has weakened just a little bit, 115-mile-per-hour winds. Still a major storm, though. Still a category 3, with gusts of 150 miles per hour, moving to the northwest at 16. So the forward speed is still the same.

But you can see the eye starting to collapse a little bit. It could be going through an eye wall replacement, meaning these storms just exhale and inhale. They can't maintain that strong intensity for very long.

It is expected to still make landfall as a category 3. That hasn't changed. That's what we've been talking about the last couple of days, and that extreme slowdown is still expected, as well. We'll be able to walk faster than this storm is going, by the time it gets close to land.

Now, it could go on land and then meander to the south. It could stay offshore a little bit, but either way, we are going to get inundated with rain. This is going to be a long-term event. And we are going to see a lot of storm surge from this, as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, let's talk about that storm surge. I mean, what can coastal North Carolina residents expect?

GRAY: We're expecting anywhere from 9 to 13 feet of storm surge. And with this storm sitting here for 24 hours or more, we are going to see this storm surge push inland for at least 24 hours, multiple high tide cycles. We know how dangerous the high tide can be when you're talking about storm surge, because it makes it even higher.

So this will be pushing in through all the rivers, inundating homes, neighborhoods. Let's go to the floor and I'll show you what this can do. And I know, Anderson, you've seen this in your history of covering storms. When we have this storm surge, it will fill people's first floor. They go up into their attic, their second floor, they get stuck up there, they can't get out, and that's the worst-case scenario. That's why they're telling people to get out while you can, because it is going to fill people's first floor and possibly part of their second.

COOPER: So if it does make that slow crawl up to the coast, as expected, what are the anticipated rain totals?

GRAY: Well, on top of the storm surge, you're going to have massive amounts of rain. We're talking about 20 to 30 inches of rain across coastal portions of North Carolina as well as South Carolina, so you see that area shaded in white. That's the 20 to 30-inch rainfall total.

That's expanded from what we were talking about yesterday, down into South Carolina, and well inland.

Look at this, western portions of South Carolina could get anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of rain. So if you have evacuated the coast for this storm and moved inland, be careful, because if you've gone to Columbia, they could get six to 10 inches of rain. So, we could see massive flooding, long-term flood event well inland, well away from the coast. And so, that's an incredible danger, as well.

COOPER: And just in terms of the rain, I mean how long are we talking about here? Assuming -- first of all, when are you thinking about this coming ashore? Is it still sort of very early Friday morning, the a.m. hours? And how long will people be impacted by the rain?

GRAY: We're talking about the effects being felt as early as tomorrow morning, with winds. We're talking about the storm moving onshore Friday, early Friday or mid-morning. The timing is still a little questionable. But some time early on Friday.

The rain is going to hang around until Sunday, even Monday, possibly Tuesday. And then it's going to move up to the Northeast. And so, we could see 6 inches of rain in New England, believe it or not, by the middle-to-end of next week.

COOPER: Wow. It's going to be -- we're going to be dealing with this for a long time. We'll check in with you a little bit later on. On the ground today, it was described as the last good day to leave. Leave now. That was the message to more than a million people have been given the word.

And for those without the means to travel, buses have been leaving coastal towns, bringing people inland. Local station WWAY in Wilmington, North Carolina, reports that the final buses heading to Winston, Salem, several hours away were slated to depart this evening.

Wilmington's Mayor Bill Saffo joins us now.

So, Mayor, we're less than 24 hours until this storm hits. How confident are you that your city is ready?

MAYOR BILL SAFFO (D), WILMINGTON, NC: We're as ready as we can. We've been preparing for this for the last several days. A lot of people have heeded the warnings, have moved out of the area, the barrier islands, of course, mandatory evacuation.

[20:05:05] We've got a lot of people that have moved west of here and we feel pretty confident that those that wanted to get out have gotten out. That window, of course, is closing. We would say no later than this evening, early tomorrow morning, we're going to start feeling some of the effects of this storm.

But we want people to be ready to go, because at some point in time, by Friday, I mean, late Thursday or early Friday, we're going to start feeling some pretty significant effects of this storm.

COOPER: Yes, I heard you say on CNN last night that once the storm is upon us, we can't save you. How much of the population do you think remains in Wilmington and how concerned are you for their safety during the storm?

SAFFO: Well, we feel a lot of them have moved out. I don't know the exact number, Anderson, but there's been a lot of people who have moved out of the area. Those with means have definitely evacuated and gotten out of the area.

What I see with this storm, which is very concerning to all of us down here is this thing may be an event that sticks around for 36 to 48 hours, with four different high tides, a tremendous amount of water. We're going to have a lot of inland flooding.

So, we're going to have a lot of people after this event is over with, that are going to want to come back into the area. We've got to have personnel to get in here to try to -- Duke Power wants to get in here as quickly as possible. All of the assets that will have to come into the area to clean this place up as soon as the storm passes.

So I was on the phone this afternoon with the governor, sharing my concerns about what the highway patrol can go to make sure that we get the assets into the area first, before the folks get back into the area. So, some of these folks that have -- a lot of these folks that have evacuated may be away for quite a few days before they can get back in. Because we do know that we're going to have swollen creeks and rivers. And I know that the highway patrol is not going to allow people to cross those.

And we've seen it in other events like Matthew last year, where we had a lot of flooding inland. That storm was about 17 inches of rain. This one could be 20, 30, maybe even 40 inches, is what I've been told.

COOPER: Yes. So your message tonight to the people in your city who are still there?

SAFFO: Yes, just get prepared. This thing is coming. It looks like we're going tyke a direct hit here. It looks like the track is going to go south. I know that our neighbors south of us in Myrtle Beach and Charleston have been prepared and been getting ready, but this is going to be a significant event for our community and for our area.

And we appreciate all of the efforts of all of the media that has really gotten the message out to the folks. I think these -- everybody here in this area and in this community has heeded those warnings and have made the proper accommodations and have secured whatever they can before they left.

COOPER: And there's no way, obviously, to know how long, you know, folks may be without power for. In past storms, how long has power been out?

SAFFO: I've seen power outages here, we were out of power for ten days.

COOPER: Wow.

SAFFO: And we may be talking about an event as I said, Anderson, that we could be here for 36 to 48 hours while these winds and this hurricane comes through. I've never seen or experienced anything like this. And I would venture to say that most meteorologists have never seen an event where a storm sits over us for 36 to 48 hours. That's what's so nasty and bad about this particular storm.

Most of these storms move in. They get through the area pretty quickly. This one is going to linger for quite some time and it will cause a lot of havoc, not only in North Carolina, but also in South Carolina.

COOPER: Yes. Well, we wish you the best, Mayor. We'll continue to check in with you. Mayor Saffo, thanks so much. Please be safe.

Just down the coast in Carolina Beach, the town is under a 24-hour curfew. The one bridge to the access -- to access to town is closed to inbound traffic. Still open to cars getting out. The beach, of course, is closed right now.

Martin Savidge is there for us -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can see, perhaps, this is the closing of the bridge, at least as far as the lanes going on to the barrier island behind us here. It's been talked about for days. Now it's really happening. It's a clear indication that everything that people have feared and prepared for is now starting to kick into action.

Sometimes you worry about what's called the perfect storm, but what if you had the perfect person, perhaps, in place to lead in disaster? This is what we found here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAYOR JOE BENSON, CAROLINA BEACH, NC: Hey, Michael --

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Joe Benson is the mayor of Carolina Beach, a North Carolina oceanfront community staring hurricane Florence in the teeth.

MICHAEL CRAMER, CAROLINA BEACH TOWN MANAGER: Right now, we're looking at possibility of storm surge in the area that looks like it would be between 9 and 13 feet of storm surge.

SAVIDGE: He also spent 22 years serving in air force special operations.

BENSON: In the case of Afghanistan, six times. Six times, I went.

SAVIDGE: And he's got a college degree in meteorology.

(on camera): I mean, I don't want to blow your head up too much, but I can't think of a better resume to have at this particular time.

BENSON: How coincidental, huh?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): This first-time politician has been in office less than a year and now has a disaster at his doorstep.

[20:10:07] (on camera): Did you ever anticipate that you would be mayor of a community that faces now a cataclysmic hurricane?

BENSON: Not necessarily, although everyone who lives on the island, and most people you'll ask, they'll say that the risk of living in a beautiful place like Carolina Beach.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): He's no longer responsible for just his own family. He has 6,300 residents to look out for.

(on camera): Do you have any idea how many people have left?

BENSON: I'd say about 75 percent. Now, I know that 100 percent won't.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): With Florence closing in, he takes a look around his community.

BENSON: The road will certainly be threatened, if not significantly underwater.

SAVIDGE: Like any commander before a fight, he assesses what he's up against.

BENSON: But we have to expect that water -- Atlantic water is going to get over both the frontal and the primary dune and get to at least Lake Park.

SAVIDGE: Storm surge isn't the only threat. He has the local lake drained to accept what could be record-breaking rain.

(on camera): Do you think all of that's going to be enough?

BENSON: I hope so. I know hope's not a -- not much of a game plan, but at this point in time, take every measure you can.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): There is another critical decision this weather commando has made. He's leaving.

(on camera): You don't see that as the captain abandoning his ship?

BENSON: No, you know, from my background in special operations with, yes, I can get the sense how that might read.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But he also knows he told everyone to leave.

BENSON: It doesn't set a good example.

SAVIDGE (on camera): What do you think you'll find when you come back?

BENSON: We're going to lose beach and structural damage in the island. It's my hope that we can accept that and rebuild from that. But loss of life is intolerable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And, Martin, what's happening in the community tonight? What are you seeing?

SAVIDGE: Well, this is, you know, where the curfew begins to go into effect. That was always the plan, 8:00. That essentially means that the barrier island behind us, Carolina Beach, goes into a kind of lockdown.

Residents will only be allowed to stay on their property if they stay behind. Nothing is open. There's no food, there's no restaurants, there's nothing like that.

And the bridge, at least to get on the island right now is shut down. They have left two lanes to allow people to leave the island, because the bridge will actually close depending on the weather, and that will be tropical storm force winds above 45 miles an hour. There is still a chance for people to get off. But that window is closing fast.

COOPER: Yes, sure is. Martin Savidge, appreciate you being there.

We're going to continue to bring everybody updates from across the area throughout this hour.

Also tonight, President Trump has just patted himself on the back for storm preparations. We'll tell you about that.

And with the president boasting about the unsung success after Hurricane Maria, as he called it, we'll take you to a Puerto Rico to get the story behind this photo. Those are cases and cases of bottled water, and yes, they're undelivered. And we have details on that. And later, the revelations from "Fear," Bob Woodward's inside account

of the Trump White House. Also the remarkable reporting that went into it and Bob Woodward's own take on it all, how the president compares to all the others he's known. I talk to him, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:25] COOPER: With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina coast, President Trump tonight again weighed in on how prepared federal emergency response now is in his opinion. It's not unusual, of course.

What is unusual is once again, the president did a little boasting, just as he did in a tweet today about Puerto Rico. We got A-plusses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent mayor of San Juan. We are ready for the big one that is coming.

Now, as you might, the president soliciting praise with nearly 3,000 Americans dead in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. It may have surprised some people, but it wasn't surprise after what the president said just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the government in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success. I think in a certain way, the best job we did was Puerto Rico, but nobody would understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, that touched off a storm of its own. In a moment, we'll go to San Juan to get you some reaction and bring you new evidence how short the emergency response fell.

But first, CNN's Jeff Zeleny on what the president just said -- Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the president tonight was talking earlier about how big of a storm this is. He said, it's coming very quickly. It's bigger than we anticipated.

No question the president is paying very close attention to the very specifics of what's going on on the ground, handling this almost like he's a governor or a mayor, talking to senators, talking to other local officials. But at the same time, he's also still kind of caught in that moment of Puerto Rico, caught in that moment of Hurricane Maria, saying again, you know, that there were no lessons to be learned. That everything was done successfully.

But he didn't mention it tonight when he spoke in the East Room of the White House. He was talking again about urging local officials and, you know, actual citizens, many, of course, his supporters, to follow the instructions of their local and state officials and get out of that storm zone. Then at the same time, though, he said, we're already getting a lot of accolades about this.

But, Anderson, no question, this administration, this government, this White House will be judged by the response to this Hurricane Florence. They know it. The president knows it.

COOPER: And he's certainly not backing down from the comments about Puerto Rico that he made yesterday.

ZELENY: He's not. I mean, he talked about, in the Oval Office, that it was an unsung success, never mind not once mentioning the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives. He never once mentioned one thing they could have done differently.

[20:20:02] And FEMA actually has said, yes, there were many things we could have done differently.

But he did not mention that. And again, he was sending a tweet this morning, he called it an unappreciated response.

So, this is very classic President Trump. We have seen it by now. We know it by now. He has his own version of reality. He never apologizes. Never backs down.

But, Anderson, inside this White House, there is a sense of focus that I can see that we normally don't see on this storm, particularly. They want to get it right. We'll see if that happens, of course.

A lot is left to Mother Nature here, but the White House is focusing on this. They have no choice, of course. All presidents, don't forget, are tested by something outside of their control. He's not yet been tested with the exception of a Maria last year, by a natural disaster. But, boy, there are a lot of people relying on him and his government tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, obviously, Texas as well. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

More now on Puerto Rico, how the president sees it and how differently people there really see if people who, sad to say, who have seen far too much already. Hurricane Maria hit the commonwealth about a year ago. Just recently, as Jeff Zeleny alluded to, the official death toll was raised from 64 to almost 3,000.

And according to researchers from Harvard and elsewhere who studied the death toll for months, the government in Puerto Rico made it difficult to get accurate mortality statistics. And even thousand -- now in Puerto Rico, we're seeing powerful reminders of all the things that turn a natural disaster into a worst man-made tragedy. In this case, this one iconic image.

Our Bill Weir joins us now from San Juan with more on that.

So, what have been you been seeing while you're down there, Bill? BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're down here to do a

special hour on the one year after recovery to see how things are shaping up. And we came across a site that just has to infuriate the countless Puerto Ricans who are drinking rain water or rigging pipes into rivers to survive in the months after the storm and all the good souls back in the mainland who tried to help them by sending water, even bringing down supplies.

This giant blue pile we came across in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, about a 45- minute drive south of San Juan, is 20,000 pallets of FEMA water, bottled water, maybe between 30 and 40 million bottles of water that have been sitting, going to waste, in the hot sun for months. They started to arrive back in October or November. They didn't start sending out the water until May.

And then people reported a foul odor and smell, which touched off some sort of government testing program. So there it sits, unused and blame is kind of like that water. There's an awful lot of it to go around.

FEMA says, look, we're not in the distribution business. We got the resources to the island. It's the local's responsibility to get it to the people in need. The locals put out a statement, the Puerto Rican government who said, look, they brought too much water too late in the process, and now it's tainted perhaps, and they want to return it to FEMA, which creates a whole another logistical nightmare -- Anderson.

COOPER: And I understand the mayor where the water is call this excess water, that the people have what they need. Is that what you're hearing from people on the ground there?

WEIR: Well, maybe in his neighborhood, they're all fine and dandy, but we're heading up to Utuado tomorrow, to west, where people are still desperate to get just the basic stuff of life. I was on a Vieques, the island off the coast of Puerto Rico yesterday, where people are carrying water, cisterns of water up to their homes, some still living in tents there. That island running on generator power.

So, no, I mean, you know, disaster management really is a game of logistics. Getting what is needed to the right people at the right time. And that runway full of pallets of water there, you know, if this happened at Walmart or FedEx, imagine the heads that would roll. It seems like an abject lesson that all levels of government should be from the cities all the way to the White House should be studying. But you heard the president, he gives this an A-plus.

COOPER: And, Bill, you spent a lot of time down in Puerto Rico, you know, in the -- during and in the aftermath of the storm. I'm just wondering some of the things that have really stuck you in the time that you've been there this time?

WEIR: This time, you know, we've just started our journeys, spent a day on Vieques. What I'm realizing is when the rain stops, that's just the beginning of a slow motion disaster. And what they're feeling now is the mental health burden, the PTSD, as another hurricane Isaac sort of wanders dangerously close for comfort this way.

We were at the suicide hotlines today, which are lighting up. The schools, they've lost a third of their schoolchildren, as schools closed down. And then there's the insurance piece of this. I heard many anecdotes of people saying they just can't get the claims and when the insurance company does make them an offer, it's pennies on the dollar.

So, so many different layers of recovery that they will be sorting out really for a generation down here.

COOPER: All right. Well, I'm glad you're there and I look forward to the special.

Bill Weir, thanks very much.

Coming up, my conversation with Bob Woodward whose new book on the Trump White House paints a graphic and detailed picture of what he calls a nervous breakdown in the executive branch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:28:34] COOPER: Well, Bob Woodward, along with Carl Bernstein, who once effectively brought down a presidency by sheer tenacity of their reporting. That's not the goal of Woodward's book about the Trump White House, the result of his latest exhaustive reporting effort. He says he did not write the book for any political reason, but as he told me, to give an account of what this White House is really like.

"Fear: Trump in the White House" is already causing a lot of turmoil in the White House. All you have to do is check the president's Twitter feed to see that its publication is shaking him.

I asked Bob Woodward about the response to the book and much more in an extended conversation earlier today. We started with something that the president's son Eric said on Fox News this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: There's a lot I obviously want to ask you about the book. I do want to just ask you about something that was in the news today. Eric Trump was critical of, obviously, of the book, calling it sensational nonsense. He said, CNN will definitely have you on, because they love to trash the president, it will mean you sell three extra books, so make three extra shekels at the behest of the American people.

Besides the fact that he doesn't know what the word "behest", how to actually use that word, some have interpreted his -- talking about shekels, as kind of a dog whistle to -- basically, an anti-Semitic dog whistles.

Do you see it that way?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": I just hope no one would talk like that, frankly. I think that that just doesn't fit. And I'm sorry anyone talks like that, whether it's a dog whistle or whatever the intent is, it's not -- I mean, part of the point of this book is that we need to have a serious debate about serious issues and to use invective and this attack rhetoric or what -- you know, whatever it might be, I -- it's -- it sets us back.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to -- there's so much in the book to talk about, but one of the -- you talk about having a serious discussion. One of the things that stopped me in my tracks when I read this book was when you call what's happening in the White House a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world. That's a terrifying, as a citizen, that is a terrifying thing to read about a nervous breakdown in the executive branch.

WOODWARD: I think that's exactly what it is. And it's supported by the decision making and the discussion and President Trump's impulsive behavior on a range of issues, from North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East.

COOPER: Would you have said that in the Nixon administration, there was a nervous breakdown in the executive branch? Or is this -- I mean, obviously, it's apples and oranges, but is this worse than what you saw inside the White House then?

WOODWARD: Well, it depends -- Nixon was a criminal. My colleague, Carl Bernstein, always says this and he's exactly right. It's the criminality. In the case of Trump, we don't know. The Mueller investigation is not over. And so we're going to have to wait on that.

COOPER: Is there true allegiance to the President, among the people in the White House?

WOODWARD: Well, it depends. You can't put everyone together. What I do is cite specific examples. And I think there are kind of three pockets here of people taking actions like Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser, swiping, stealing something from the resolute desk in the Oval Office --

COOPER: What he said he was doing for the good of the country.

WOODWARD: Yes, not just for the good, but to save the country, to protect the country, because if that had been signed, you begin the unraveling of our relationship with South Korea. Not just in trade, but in terms of the 28,000 military personnel we have in the country. And the top-secret intelligence programs. And so, you can't separate those.

And to do what the President wanted to do, just summarily say, we're out of this trade agreement, the experts and the people interested in protecting the country said, no, we have to take action and in my view, in reporting on this, these are acts of conscience by people who say that, yes, I'm taking a risk, but better to take a personal risk than to go down this road that the President, at least on a number of points, wanted to take.

COOPER: It is fascinating in these statements that Gary Cohn has put out, Rob Porter, even General Kelly, which clearly, from all the reporting, there's been pressure in the White House to have everybody put out statements criticizing the book. They're not actually disputing most of your quotes. I mean, Kelly says he didn't call the President an idiot, but he says nothing about crazy town, he says nothing about off the rails.

WOODWARD: And other people have reported, before --

COOPER: Right.

WOODWARD: -- going back in May that the chief of staff of the Trump White House called the President an idiot, so --

COOPER: And Gary Cohn, in his statement said the book, quote, does not accurately portray my experience to the White House. That doesn't really mean anything. He's not refuting any of these direct quotes.

WOODWARD: That's quite correct. Carl and I used to call this the non-denial denial. That these are security denials to protect people's reputations with Trump. But you know, it's -- look, I'll stick with the reporting. It was done in a very meticulous, careful way that Carl and I really, quite frankly, I learned from Carl. Go knock on people's doors. Ben Bradley, the editor at "The Post" during the Nixon case said, let's get two sources, if we can, on something.

And this is my report on what goes on in the Trump White House. And you asked the question, well, why would you call it a nervous breakdown? Because it is a nervous breakdown. In the human body, if it has a nervous breakdown, it means that part of the body is doing something uncoordinated with the core mission of the body, to survive or however you might define it. But this, when I learned about this, I was shocked, I was surprised.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[20:35:01] COOPER: We're going to have more of my interview with Bob Woodward ahead, including how he got so many people to talk. And how much of all of this is actually on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do you have a sense of what percentage of interviews you actually recorded?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ill give you his answer, next.

Plus, the latest on Hurricane Florence, on a collision course with the Carolinas. Have a live update from Myrtle Beach.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Now more of my conversation with Bob Woodward. His book, "Fear: Trump in the White House" is the result of exhaustive reporting, in-depth interviews with administration officials. Hundreds of house of interviews, and yes, Bob Woodward recorded a lot of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how many -- what percentage of interviews you actually recorded?

WOODWARD: Almost all of them.

COOPER: Wow.

WOODWARD: The deal was I would interview somebody, they would be a confidential source. They're not -- I know who they are. They're describing specific events. Often, there are diaries or notes or documents supporting it. And then I would just -- a couple of times, people would say, I want to go off the record, and I said, no. Very interesting lesson for me. When you say "no" to off the record, then people in almost in every case, maybe except one, said, OK, I'll tell you anyway on deep background, so you can still use it.

[20:40:15] COOPER: you can use it, but you can't just say where it came from.

WOODWARD: That's exactly right. And so if you were -- and this goes back to the Watergate coverage, when all the notes came out, when all the tapes came out and so forth, it turned out that our coverage, Carl Bernstein's coverage and mine was conservative. It was restrained. And when somebody looks at this in 20 or 30 or 40 years, boxes of recordings and documents, they will say that this was very carefully done. I know, I can argue with a straight face that an ardent Trump supporter would read this and have to have pause. Because whether you like Trump or don't like Trump, it's a management issue. How the White House, how the administration is managed. And this is the nervous breakdown.

COOPER: At one point, you also say, you write about the anarchy and disorder of the White House and Trump's mind. I understand that anarchy and disorder of the White House, the way its set up, I mean, Reince Priebus, you have him quoting, "When you put a snake, and a rat, and a falcon, and a rabbit, and a shark, and a seal in a zoo without walls, things get nasty and bloody". I mean that's an unbelievable way to describe the White House.

COOPER: And that's from the former chief of staff. And there is time and time again, not just in the economic area, but I think in a more significant way, the national security area, where the President is absolutely horrified that we're spending money to have troops in Europe or --

COOPER: Missile defense system in South Korea.

WOODWARD: Yes, with I mean, here he is, the greatest missile defense system that we have. And there are top secret special access programs that allow us to protect our country. We're not doing this just for the South Koreans. And the secretary of defense is in there in a very emphatic way saying, look, these are the best national security dollars we spend. And the President won't let up. And he's saying, you know, we're being played for suckers. We'd be so smart, we'd make so much money.

Well, the idea is to protect the country. And so you finally have the secretary of defense says to the President, we do this to prevent World War III. Now, I've spent a lot of time with eight other presidents looking at how they handled the office in war and the economy and so forth, and they all knew that protecting the country, preventing World War III, preventing a nuclear weapon from going off in the United States is job one.

COOPER: Right.

WOODWARD: This occurred not in the first week of the Trump presidency, but Trump had been in office a year and there is still this debate going on and leads to a lot of frustration and a lot of anxiety.

COOPER: The book ends with John Dowd, the President's former attorney saying, he's an f'ing liar.

WOODWARD: Yes.

COOPER: I mean that's the stunning quote.

WOODWARD: Yes. But here you have John Dowd, who worked with the President very closely for eight months, as his private attorney in the Mueller investigation. And they go through step by step, and the issue gets down to, is the President going to testify? And so they run a practice session in the White House. And Dowd plays Mueller and asks all kinds of questions and the President makes things up, lies, explodes, and at the end, Dowd said, you can't testify. I will not sit next to you and allow you to do this. You will perjure yourself, you know, it -- out of control.

And the President first agrees, he's not going to testify. But then he says, the President can't be seen taking the Fifth Amendment, so I've got to testify. He changes his mind, is insistent. And it's very poignant, the phone calls between Dowd and the President on this, because Dowd really wants to stay and help him, but this is the red line, if you will. I am not going to let you testify and be your lawyer. And so the insistent that Dowd finally resigns.

COOPER: It's a fascinating book, "Fear: Trump in the White House." Bob Woodward, thanks so much.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well let's check in with Chris, see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

[20:45:03] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, what an interview. And I have to tell you, you're laying it out so well with Mr. Woodward. We expect the White House to do what they do best, its call everything fake news that they don't like. But what makes this so different, is not only do you have a Woodward par excellence, you know, with his journalism and his recording that everything that said.

COOPER: Yes.

CUOMO: But it's not just quotes, he puts people in the rooms where relevant things happen. And that's a meaningful distinction. Great interview, Anderson, for the audience.

So tonight, there is new information, the power of the storm and the size of the storm have changed. Now, the second factor matters a lot more than the first, for people who have taken false confidence in this storm coming down. We have Sam Champion here tonight, Anderson, to help us through what matters and why. We also have Andrew Gillum, who's running for governor in Florida. What does he think the lessons that should have been learned from last year to be applied to Florence are? What does he think of the President's assessment.

Remember, there are a lot of Puerto Ricans that left that island and are now possible voters in Florida. And we have the debate to end all debates about the President's unsung success story. Ana Navarro, Steve Cortes.

COOPER: All right. I'll definitely be watching that, about 14 minutes from now, Chris. I'll see you then.

Just ahead, more on this storm. We'll take you inside an evacuation center where people are already gathering to wait out Hurricane Florence.

Plus, a year ago, another hurricane, Irma, struck southern Florida and in its deadly wake, 14 people died at a Florida nursing home. You may remember that 12 of those deaths have been ruled by a medical examiner as homicides. The question is, was anyone held responsible? I think you're going to be surprised at the answer. We investigate, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:47] COOPER: Hurricane Florence getting even closer to the Carolinas. Some people already taking refuge in a Red Cross Evacuation Center. Our Scott McLean is at one location for us tonight he joins us from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

So what's the latest where you are? How are people holding up?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, look we're still a day away from Florence actually making landfall. But there are 440 people inside this shelter hunkering down until the storm passes. Staff here at the Red Cross, they tried to make things as comfortable as you can. There people are getting three square meals a day. There are table set up, for socializing, or playing cards, and there's also this entertainment area over there playing movies for the kids during the day and for the adults at night.

But look, the Red Cross also stresses this is not a shelter. The function here is to purely keep people safe until Florence actually passes. That means that there are only cot set up for the elderly or for the sick. You know, some people have brought air mattresses. But a lot of people are just sleeping on the floor, Anderson. It is far from ideal, but it's a lot better than the alternative. That's because a lot of the people here they live in prefabricated homes or mobile homes, not where you want to be when some of this weather that might come, comes in.

You know, wind gusts potentially 100 miles per hour, rain potentially up to 30 inches. I spoke to one woman who said that she rode out the storm in her trailer Hurricane Matthew two years ago with her two kids, she said that is not a mistake that she's going to make again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trees are falling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, trees were falling, and taking down like the neighbor stuff. We're surrounded with trees. And either it gets weaker and weaker, you know, and help lives, if they get weaker --

(OFF-MIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- come here. It's like I said far reaching on (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Wow.

MCLEAN: And so after Hurricane Matthew, that family was -- without power for a week Anderson. This time it could be even longer than that. The Red Cross says though that this will become an actual shelter after the storm passes, if people can't return to their homes that are damage or flooded out. But I have to tell you the most amazing thing to hear though here is so many people with just amazing attitudes, I mean think about it they are facing the prospect of having their homes damage or even destroyed.

One woman who doesn't even have insurance on her mobile home, she told me that, look you can replace material belongings, you cannot replace people. So she's not taking any chances.

COOPER: Yes, we wish them the best. We'll continue to follow. Scott McLean, thanks very much.

The uncertainty that people and their feel tonight. Speaking at (INAUDIBLE) Florida one year ago, that's when Hurricane Irma toward through that state. Now you may recall that three days after Irma hit, people started dying in a south Florida nursing home. Got a lot of attention at that time, 14 people lost their lives there. It was a chaotic scene, a horrible tragedy.

But like a lot of hurricane aftermath when reporters left and the adrenaline kind of war off for people the residence where it once left to pickup the pieces and that's what Randi Kaye found when she look it though what exactly happened at that nursing home. And what happens since.

Here's her report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF NOVA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: It is -- one of the most upsetting parts of this is that my mom passed away under such circumstances. The temperature gauge was not able, they didn't read her temperature told about 15 minutes after her time of death and it was 110 degrees.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Jeff Nova first heard his mother Gale (ph) had died after Hurricane Irma hit, he could hardly believe it. She was so we thought under the watchful care of nurses and staff at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Florida.

Then came the news that seven others had also died. On the same day, in the same facility. That was a year ago. And still Jeff and his family don't have answers or in their mind justice.

NOVA: I want to know who's responsible. I'm hopeful that in this investigation, they come out with the truth and really what happened.

KAYE (voice-over): In all 14 patients from this facility died in the aftermath of the storm. The medical examiner found that 12 of the 14 died from heat exposure. Many of the victims' body temperatures tap (ph) 106 degrees. 12 have been moved homicide by the medical examiner including Jeff's 71-year-old mother. 12 homicides, but to this day a year later, no charges.

[20:55:04] It all began when Irma hit Sunday, September 10th last year. At around 3:00 p.m. strong winds down the tree which knock up the nursing home's air conditioning system. Many of the patients were move into hallways, next to fans and spot coolers.

NOVA: Why they wouldn't know to evacuate if the temperature was that great and continuing to rise. Someone I have to assume had that responsibility and decided not to take it.

KAYE (voice-over): Instead, all 141 patients remained inside for days. Sweating these workers trying to manage the situation on their own. Law enforcement says temperatures inside the facility climbed to at least 99 degrees. Still, several doctors who visited the facility to check on their patients testified that it felt warm but not unbearably hot. And they thought residents were safe.

Attorney Jorge Silva represents five family suing the nursing home and Florida Power & Light.

JORGE SILVA, ATTORNEY: We're talking about days where these individuals were deteriorating and suffocating to death.

KAYE (voice-over): Administrators claim they had repeatedly called Florida Power & Light, state regulators and the governor's office. And say they were assured the air conditioning would be restored soon. SILVA: This isn't a light switch that the patients were doing fine one moment. And then the next second they weren't doing fine. This was a very slow grueling death.

KAYE (voice-over): This video recorded the night after the storm shows the conditions, a fan next to one residence bed, a larger fan in a hallway to keep air moving. And this, a woman laying naked in a hallway on a gurning. The woman who took this video told CNN that same woman was wearing clothes the day before, but had this robe to try and keep cool.

Representatives of the nursing home said, it was safest for the patients to shelter in place, given the danger and moving elderly patients.

(on-camera): This is the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center. It is right across the street from one of the largest hospitals in the state Memorial Regional Hospital, which never lost power during a storm. It remained fully operational with air conditioning, all just steps away.

(voice-over): Instead an emergency unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what is your emergency?

KAYE (voice-over): Eight calls to 911, but only one nurse mentioned that there wasn't any air conditioning in the nursing home. Also not a single caller suggested an evacuation was needed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling because there's a patient who's gone in cardiac arrest. Code blue. Respiratory failure. I saw her slouch over. I realized that she's not breathing.

KAYE (voice-over): Residents were dying one after another. After three patients were rushed to the emergency room at Memorial Regional Hospital with extraordinarily high temperatures, doctors and nurses chose to immediately evacuate the nursing home.

The "New York Times" reported some residents were so hot, their skin was steaming.

DR. RANDY KATZ, MEMORIAL REGIONAL HOSPITAL: There were patients that were not living any longer that were upstairs on the second floor when we entered the building.

KAYE (voice-over): Nobody from the Rehabilitation Center would speak with us. But court documents provided by lawyers representing the nursing home say that Florida's agency for healthcare administration never suggested evacuation. And instead told them to call 911 if residents developed emergency conditions.

The rehab center did call 911, but not until it was too late for a dozen residents. The governor's office says, at no time that anyone from the nursing home indicate that conditions have become dangerous or that patients were at risk. And family say Florida Power & Light is to blame too for not showing up until long after the nursing home had been evacuated despite numerous calls for help.

SILVA: This nursing home was not attended to despite multiple calls, multiple e-mails, and multiple requests for assistance.

KAYE (voice-over): FPL said in a statement that it urge customers to call 911 if it was a life-threatening situation.

SILVA: To think that help was so close and yet sadly so far for these individuals is really, really disturbing and troubling.

KAYE (voice-over): Jeff Nova still struggles thinking about his mother's final moments. And wants to make sure she didn't die in vain.

(on-camera): You haven't given on justice for your mother?

NOVA: I believe that there has to be justice in this situation like all situations. These events don't go away and get brushed under the rug. Some closure has to occur, some changes have to occur. So this event doesn't get replicated.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Randi joins me now from outside the Florida hospital where those patients could have been taken. So where do things stand now with the investigation?

KAYE: Anderson, it's still an active investigation. Hollywood police and a state attorney's office are still looking into this. And we understand that they have video surveillance from inside the nursing home which shows what was going on inside and something if they will likely use to build a case for criminal charges if those do come.