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Trump Signs Executive Order Aimed at Punishing Russia, Others Meddling in U.S. Elections; SC Governor Talks Hurricane Florence; Protecting Wild Horses During Hurricane Florence; Pope Francis Takes Unprecedented Measures to Address Rising Priest Sexual Abuse as His Popularity Plummets. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CHRISTINE MEINHOLD, WILL RIDE OUT HURRICANE WITH SEVEN RESCUE DOGS: I do. I have had several offers. My cousin offered to come get me. The problem is, you got to remember, that these are rescue dogs. Every one of them have their own little problems, their own little quirks. I have one that he was a starvation abuse case, and this poor guy, he's terrified of men. I live alone with them. And the only man he is used to is my nephew, Will Overland, that will be coming out here to stay with us during the storm. I'm doing the best I can with what I got. I feel it would be putting them more in danger by taking them out of their environment.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Tell me how you are hunkering down now?

MEINHOLD: I have been prepared for days now. Every year before hurricane season, I stock up ahead of time. I have plenty of candles, batteries, water. I have five-gallon buckets full of water for the dogs. I have gallons of water. I have bottles of water. I've stocked up on dog food, on people food. I have everything that I need, tools, everything that we will need, you know, if case things go bad.

BALDWIN: And, Christine, you know what bad looks like, right, you have been through this before?


BALDWIN: You have been through Hurricane Matthew and all the flooding and everything that comes with the flood waters afterwards? What was that like?

MEINHOLD: That's actually where I got two of my dogs. They were hurricane dogs that were left out in the water. They were drowning and they got pulled into the life boats. I, myself, was out with some rescuers. I've seen firsthand, you know, the dangers and what's happening. And I just feel that, you know, we're going to do OK. I have enough, you know. I do drills with my dogs all year long. I have harnesses and collars and leashes. I double leash and double harness every dog. I feel prepared. I'm scared, yes, but I do feel that I am prepared enough that take care of it. And with my nephew, Will, here, I have an extra hand with the dogs.

BALDWIN: Christine, may we'll talk to you in the course of the next 24 to 48 hours. You and Will and check in on those seven dogs, including your hurricane dogs. You have a heart of gold for taking them in.

Christine, we wish you the best. Thank you so much.

MEINHOLD: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Time is running out to get out of the Carolinas, though, before this hurricane hits. FEMA is describing this storm as, quote, "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast." Local officials say those who choose to stay will essentially be on their own. We are standing by to hear from the South Carolina governor, next.


[14:36:51] BALDWIN: We will get you back to this hurricane coverage in a second.

But I want to take you to the White House, where President Trump has signed an executive order aimed at punishing Russians and other foreign actors that try to interfere in the U.S. election. The White House is hoping this order will help dispel the idea that this president has been too soft on Russia.

To Kaitlan Collins we go, at the White House.

Kaitlan, what exactly does the order allow?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The bottom line, Brooke, this is meant to the punish people who interfere in the elections. It directs the National Intelligence, Dan Coats, to identify in a sense people meddling in the election and then apply sanctions to them, recommending those to the Treasury Department. It directs them to conduct these assessments regularly on a rolling basis up until the midterms to determine who could be interfering in an election, to provide reports to the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, and make the sanctions recommendations going from there.

Now, it's not just country specific. They made sure to tell reporters that it's not just about Russia. It can be Russia, China, any other country. It's not just about countries either. It applies to individuals, companies, anyone trying to interfere in election systems to try to spread disinformation to sway some votes. All of those people would be concluded here.

But really the bottom line here is they want to send a message that they will not let election meddling go unpunished. The national security adviser, John Bolton, was asked if this is in response to the harsh criticism that the White House and President Trump specifically have received after that press conference with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. He said, no, it had nothing to do with this. There certainly is an effort we are seeing from the Trump administration to make sure they are sending this message, weeks ahead of the midterms, they will not let election meddling happen and go unpunished.

BALDWIN: What has the reaction been from Capitol Hill?

COLLINS: There's actually been some criticism and not just from Democrats. We got a statement from Senator Van Hollen, a Democrat, and Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, and they said that this executive order that President Trump signed earlier today recognizes the threat but doesn't go far enough to address it. They said, "The U.S. can and must do more, mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks our electoral systems are the best deterrent for this."

So far that's the reaction from Capitol Hill. It's noteworthy it is coming from Republicans, too.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you so much.

Let's go, take you to South Carolina. The governor here, Henry McMaster, speaking on Hurricane Florence.

HENRY MCMASTER, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: -- with this hurricane, we know that. This is something that is unusual about this hurricane. This hurricane is bringing some rain and water that we have not seen before in hurricanes. We've seen high winds, notably with Hugo. These winds may be that high as well, but this will likely be more rain than we saw with Hugo or other hurricanes. And that is because, as has been explained, when this hurricane gets to land, it is liable to stop there, to continue its flow of rain on us, but to move very slowly, and may even come down the South Carolina coast. So we will have water coming down the rivers from North Carolina, the heavy rain there, as well as in our South Carolina rivers and streams. So be aware if you are in a low-lying area, be aware. We will be on the lookout for major flooding.

So with that, General?

[14:40:26] Thank you, governor.

UNIDENTIFIED SOUTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD GENERAL: South Carolina continues to support the evacuation efforts of our citizens. We are poised and continuing to shift assets. The governor's orders allow us to shift assets throughout state to be prepared after the storm for search and rescue, further evacuation, security and clearing of routes. We have coordinated with our neighbors to the south to get further assets into South Carolina, if needed, and we are card fated with North Carolina and Virginia to have coordinated responses to the storm. We have federal military assets available. The fact is, we'll actually have a helicopter carrier and a ship after the storm that's available to help us, so assets are there. And we'll be prepared to deploy them to support the citizens of South Carolina.

MCMASTER: One question, General, is this the first time we've had those ships offshore?


This is the first time we had those ships offshore. It's a great asset. We appreciate the president providing that. And we have tight coordination so that when those assets are used, they will be properly used and effectively used.

Thank you.

MCMASTER: Thank you.

Secretary Hall?

BALDWIN: All right. There's a governor in South Carolina speaking about all that flood water and what has been, we can adjust to it, adjust, it has been weakened to a category 3 storm here as it barrels to the coastline. It seems more and more people in South Carolina and Georgia will be affected.

Coming up, we will talk live with more people across the Carolina coastline who are choosing to stay. Some of them defying mandatory evacuation orders.

We will also take you live to the Waffle House Storm Center. Yes. That is a real thing. A center that FEMA actually monitors.

Plus, Pope Francis taking unprecedented measures to address rising reports of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church as his popularity plummets in our new CNN poll.

We'll be right back.


[14:47:09] BALDWIN: You know you look at the skies along the Carolina coastline, gorgeous blue skies. Do not be fooled. This is the calm before this storm. Hovering just out at sea is Hurricane Florence. According to FEMA, it is going to deliver, I'm quoting this official from FEMA, "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast." They're ordering people to get out while they still can.

But while many are taking their families and pets and getting out of dodge, these wild forces from the Outer Banks are staying behind. There are roughly 100 gorgeous creatures. They have lived along this coastline for more than 500 years. I know it's been a while. But a lot of you may remember the video shortly after Hurricane Irene hit. This was 2011. Some voiced concern for them this time around. They're worried if they will be OK.

Meg Puckett is with me, the herd manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. The fund protects and manages and helps conserve these beautiful horses.

Meg, thank you so much for being with me.

And I know there are these wild horses, there are rescue horses. Protecting human life, human life the number-one priority. We are also concerned about animals. Tell me how you are protecting them.

MEG PUCKETT, MANAGER, COROLLA WILD HORSE FUND (via telephone): Absolutely. Like you said, there are about a hundred of horses living in the wild, colonial Spanish mustangs. They are a threatened breed. We do everything we can to protect them. But in situations like this, these horses have incredible instincts. They're so resourceful and they have an incredibly strong will to live. We are already seeing group up together. They go into the forest where they get under cover of the live oak trees that protect them and go to the highest ground. And instinctually they know where to go. So we know they are safer riding out the storm on their own in their natural habitat than they would be if we intervened. That would be very dangerous for them.

BALDWIN: You talk about their instincts. Are you already -- you mentioned these wild horses are heading -- are they heading towards the wooded area? Cn you sense a change in their behavior?

PUCKETT: Yes, definitely, definitely. They live in family groups and tend to be territorial. During times like this, they do group together. And they will all go to the same spot. They know that's where the highest group is. They all kind of get along in situations like this because they have to. They go to that high ground and share that space with each other. And they are already doing that.

BALDWIN: Despite their instincts of where to go, are you concerned?

PUCKETT: Yes, absolutely. We're going to get some pretty bad weather. So there's always a concern, always a risk. But these horses have been here for centuries and they are probably better equipped to handle this than anybody else in the Outer Banks right now. While we are concerned -- and believe me, I haven't slept in days, worrying and making sure we have all of our bases covered. We know we have done everything we can. We have people that are not evacuating, staying up on the beach, but who we're in constant contact with. There are people that keep an eye on the horses. We have people staying at our rescue farm, too, to keep an eye on the horses there as well. So they will be staying with those as well.

[14:50:30] BALDWIN: You've got people staying behind with the rescue horses, riding the storm out, making sure they're OK.

Meg, please, you know, you stay safe. Everyone, a part of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, stay safe. Of course, these beautiful, beautiful horses.

Meg Puckett, thank you for calling in.

Florence is closing in on the east coast. People aren't the only ones preparing. We will take you live to the Waffle House Storm Center. That is an actual place. What they are doing in preparation for Florence.

And a romance novelist who once wrote about ways to murder your husband has been arrested in connection with murdering her husband. That's next.


[14:55:40] BALDWIN: How about this one today? A romance novelist who once wrote an essay on how to murder your husband is now under arrest in connection with murdering her husband. Nancy Crampton- Brophy now sits in a Portland, Oregon, jail charged with murder and unlawful use of a weapon. Police believe she followed some of her own advice, shooting and killing her husband in his workplace at the Oregon Culinary Institute on the morning of June 2nd. Now, hours later, Crampton-Brophy took to Facebook telling friends and family of his passing, saying this, she wrote, "I'm struggling to make sense of everything right now." For now, police have yet to release a motive.

A CNN poll has been released today revealing Pope Francis' favorability among American Catholics have plummeted in the wake of stunning new sexual abuse allegations against priests (sic). See the number for yourself, 48 percent of Americans express a favorable view of the pope, that is down from 66 percent, who indicated the same if January of 2017. Even more concerning among Catholics here in the U.S., these ratings have fallen from 83 percent favorability last year to just 63 percent now.

That poll coming the same day as an unprecedented move from the Vatican. Pope Francis is summoning top Catholic officials from around the world to discuss the escalating sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church.

CNN Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher, has the details from Rome - Delia?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, Pope Francis is convening top bishops from around the world to come to the Vatican in February to discuss sex abuse. It is the first time that bishops from around the world will be coming to the Vatican to discuss the topic. Some would say it's coming a bit late considering the Vatican has been dealing with this since 2002, at least publicly. Nonetheless, it's important, given that many countries around the world still have not begun to look into their past with regard to clerical sex abuse.

There's a report out just today from Germany. The German bishops have conducted an investigation. Their findings will be released officially September 25th. Some has been leaked already to the German press. It says there were 3,766 cases of clerical abuse against minors from the period of 1946 to 2014. That's only Germany, of course.

Clearly, an international meeting at the Vatican to discuss this is going to be important going forward.

One test case for what might happen is going to be seen with Washington, D.C. Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl who, on Tuesday, announced he will be returning to the Vatican to speak to Pope Francis about a possible resignation. Cardinal Wuerl has been at the center from the Pennsylvania grand jury report and from the letter from the pope's ex-ambassador to the United States claiming that Cardinal Wuerl also knew about sexual abuse on the former Cardinal McCarrick against seminarians and did nothing about it. Those are allegations Cardinal Wuerl denied. However, he clearly feels it may be time to move on. We don't know when that meeting is going to happen. What happens to Cardinal Wuerl, what kind it is, and whether there's an investigation will be a test case going forward. As indeed, tomorrow's meeting with Cardinal DiNardo and Gomez, the top officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with Pope Francis, a highly-anticipated meeting. Cardinal O'Malley, of Boston, will be there.

What comes out of these meetings, Brooke, will determine whether or not the Catholic Church and the Vatican are able finally to get a grip on how to handle these investigations and how to bring who didn't handle them properly to justice -- Brooke?

[14:59:28] BALDWIN: Delia, thank you.

You are watching CNN on this Wednesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Here's what you need to know about Hurricane Florence. It is shaping up to deliver disaster for days to the Carolina coast. And its latest projected path is now forcing a fourth state to declare a state of emergency. Georgia now joining North and South Carolina and Virginia. Florence is now expected to pause right at North Carolina's coast, shift south, and pose even greater danger. So Florence could now batter coastal areas within 24 hours of hurricane-force winds, bring catastrophic flooding with more than three feet --