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Report: Rescues Are Now Underway as Florence Pounds the Carolina Coasts; Florence Will Dump Rain on The Carolinas for Days; Storm Is Only Moving At 5 Miles an Hour; Manafort Makes A Plea Deal with Robert Mueller. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 14, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I am Brooke Baldwin. Don Lemon standing by on the coast in South Carolina. You're watching CNN special coverage of Hurricane Florence and the warnings about it are turning into reality. Just some numbers for you. More than 600,000 people without power. More than 20,000 spent the night in shelters, and the prediction everyone feared the most is now happening, high water is trapping hundreds of people that didn't or couldn't evacuate. And remember, Florence isn't stopping soon, moving at a speed not much faster than most of us walk, 5 miles per hour. That means it is dumping all kinds of rain both in the coastal areas and inland. We are all over the story with CNN teams across impacted areas in multiple states. Let's start with you, my friend, Don Lemon, co-hosting coverage from Myrtle Beach. Don? Over to you, my friend.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hey, Brooke, how are you. Listen, it is crazy. You get big spurts of rain and wind and the gusts they come through unexpectedly at any moment. Sometimes it is still like it is now and a second later, you get a buildup. The concern is flooding, water, rain, of course because it is just sitting on the Carolinas and spinning and drawing all of this water. As you said, 650,000 people really without power across the Carolinas. Most of those we're told in North Carolina. There are 126 shelters all over this region. As you said, 20,000 people spent the night elsewhere, not in their homes, at least those in the shelters now. We have been seeing active rescues across North and South Carolina. They're continuing to go on now. We have been seeing flooding as well.

Here's the thing, when we're out on the beach, there's a long row of hotels here, miles and miles of hotels. That tends to block the wind. You Don't see how much the wind is blowing. Then when you get away from the hotels, get on the streets, you can see that there are garbage cans and debris all over, projectiles. Folks are out there need to stay in their homes if you hunkered down, if you're here and riding the storm out, stay in your home. We spoke a short time ago to a woman in New Bern, stuck on the second floor of her home, said water is rising. Water in New Bern as high as 40 feet, storm surge up 10 to 15 feet. Someone that's now knee deep in water, Miguel Marquez, in Carolina Beach. You have been inundated with wind, rain, water there. Tell us what's going on.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Florence will not quit. It is just incredible how the storm keeps coming. Got up this morning, we were in the eye of the storm, there literally was not a breeze. Now this. This is Myrtle Avenue, Carl Winter Avenue in Carolina Beach. It has actually come down, it is getting better now, the tide is going out, but the wind and rain and surge clearly not giving up anytime soon. About 95,000 people across New Hanover County are without electricity. Carolina Beach, the town is without electricity. It is not clear how long waters will be this high, when they'll be able to open the bridge back up for people to get into town or out of town. At the rate things are going, it will be at least until tomorrow or Sunday before the conditions will improve that they will be able to do that. One thing authorities in New Hanover county are asking for is if you have an emergency at home, make sure it is life-threatening, make sure it is something that demands emergency services help right now because they're having a tough time. 911 operators having a tough time fielding all of the calls or downed trees, downed wires, things that aren't issues that emergency services are going to deal with right now.

[14:05:00] What you're looking at is the marina here in Carolina Beach. It is clearly filled to capacity, overflowing now. All of the boats are fine there, but it will be awhile before it comes back down. This is an area of town that floods in any event, but what has surprised people that live here is how quickly this came up, about half hour, 45 minutes or so, the storm surge came just about the same time the tide was coming in, and that's what we see now, this water, and it is not going down very fast either. It has come down a little bit. Another tide coming in in the next 8 hours or so. That will be the test for this area, to see how long and how big the surge will be and how long these conditions will persist. Don?

LEMON: Thank you. Miguel giving out good advice. Don't call emergency workers unless it is really a dire situation because they've got their hands full with rescues. Live rescues are under way right now. I want to get to Brian Todd at Wilmington where he is seeing some of that. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: Right, Don. Rescue workers are frantically trying to reach two people. We have a better angle than before. You see that tree came and split that room in half, that's a back bedroom. There are two people inside there. They're trying to extract them. It is an adult and a child. I have spoken to a relative of the adult, says it is her aunt in there. From what we gather, it is a woman and a child in there, and they're desperately trying to extract them. The call came in a little before 7:00 this morning, we're told by local fire officials. There was a man in there with them. They brought in a surgical team because the man was pinned, the surgical team was preparing to do an amputation, but were able to move and lift some objects. Then they determined they did not need to do an amputation, they were able to extract that gentleman and take him out for medical care. We do not know his condition at this time.

Don, we're told that's about a 30,000-pound tree, that's a back bedroom, fell and split that part of the house wide open. You can see these guys, they have been at this for hours. The battalion chief says these guys are so physically exhausted, but trying frantically to get to the two people. We Don't know the condition of the two people. I asked the battalion chief, are you communicating with them, he said not at this time.

That could mean a lot of things, Don. We Don't want to suppose anything. We can tell you they're trying to get to them. I did just see them bring a stretcher back there but that was a few minutes ago, and they're still working here. A dramatic rescue situation here, the conditions of two people including one young child are unknown at this time.

LEMON: Brian, stick with me as you continue to monitor the situation. Let's talk a minute. We have been talking about the evacuation orders all over the area and what they have been. What about where you are in Wilmington, what were the evacuation orders?

TODD: You know what, I'm not sure about evacuation orders here. Let me pose a quick question to people. Guys, did they say this was under a mandatory evacuation, this area? They did not. OK. Local resident says they did not say this area specifically was under mandatory evacuation. You know, again, and this is a solid structure, a brick house. Mandatory evacuation maybe not an issue here, obviously something horrible happened here, Don. We have been here a couple of hours. These guys have been here several hours. They have cribbing equipment. They had to cut through brick that's fallen, part of a wall that was in the way of them getting to the people. They had to cut through not just wood from the tree but brick as well. And they're still frantically trying to get to those two people.

LEMON: Brian Todd, thank you very much for that. As you can see, Brian, they've got their hands full. Evacuations are happening all over the area, major flooding as well. Listen, this thing is coming down, it is on top of us here. It is going to linger on. Want to get to meteorologist Jennifer Grey at the CNN weather center.

JENNIFER GREY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The storm is moving at a snail's pace, only 5 miles per hour. Still a hurricane. 75 miles per hour winds. And it is still just sitting here. We have still the on-shore flow. Showers and storms that are pulling from east to west. It is still pushing rivers backwards. That's what's causing all of the inland flooding. Still getting storm surge as expected, up to 11 feet in some places. This storm is now 20 some odd miles southwest of Wilmington, and you can see the heavy downpours.

[14:10:00] These bands are starting to train where we get showers one after another in the same location. That's why places like New Bern will see incredible rainfall totals. We have already seen rainfall totals more than a foot or foot and a half of rain. Some of these areas will get another additional foot of rain before it is said and Done. You can see very heavy rain that's why places like New Bern will see incredible rainfall totals.

We have already seen rainfall totals more than a foot or foot and a half of rain. Some of these areas will get another additional foot of rain before it is said and Done. You can see very heavy rain there on the South Carolina, North Carolina border. Wilmington, a little bit of a lull now. But that's not going to last forever. The rain will start picking up again, once again, there. Myrtle beach is not quite as bad. Heavy bands are coming for you in the next couple of hours as well. Very heavy winds, still to come, very strong winds, 60, 65 miles per hour winds. At 8:30 tonight, still in Wilmington, Myrtle Beach. It will pick up as this inches to the south and west.

Look at the rainfall totals. Oriental, North Carolina, more than 20 inches of rain. Wrightsville Beach has gotten more than 18. And like I said, rainfall totals could go up 6 inches or a foot in some locations, so we could have record breaking rainfall here easily. Davis, North Carolina had a 108 miles per hour wind gust. Cape Lookout, 106. Rain accumulation still to come. We could pick up an additional ten inches of rain across some of these locations in North Carolina and South Carolina. Don, it is going to determine where the bands set up, of course. The river gauges, major flood stage, moderate flood stage. We'll see records broken well inland, well away from the coast, Don.

LEMON: Jennifer, you said bands are coming toward us in Myrtle Beach. The forecast this morning at least earlier was the bulk of it may not hit us until 10:00, 11:00, midnight. What's in store for us here? We are starting to feel it more.

GREY: All day you have been getting offshore winds. That's why the waves aren't that big, the surf hasn't been that big. You are on the south or west side of the storm getting offshore flow. Once the eye gets closer and winds shift, you'll get not only heavy rain, stronger winds, you get on shore flow. That will pull in more surge to the area, increase waves, and that's when we will see more flooding in the Myrtle Beach area. Don?

LEMON: Can I ask you, Jennifer, you saw Brian Todd in New Bern, the flooding for those people, a lot of issues had to deal with flooding. They're going to get much more. This is sadly for them, this will get worse.

GREY: Right. They're stuck in a band, what we call training. Think of a railroad train on the tracks. Keeps going over the same location over and over for hours on end. That's where you could see locations with the heaviest amount of rain. New Bern is in a band training for hours, some of the highest rainfall totals, and doesn't look like it will be over for them anytime soon. Rain is coming down at a rate of several inches an hour.

LEMON: All right. Jennifer Grey with the updated forecast. Jennifer, thank you so much. I appreciate that. I want to get back in the elements and go over to Drew Griffin in Myrtle Beach as well. Drew, we're getting bands of wind and rain. It is coming and going, comes and goes. What are you seeing?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the wind has gotten to a point that many of the official responders in Horry County which is county we are in have decided they're only going out in life-threatening cases right now, Don, but I think the big news right now for us in Myrtle Beach is what Jennifer was talking about, that we're on the backwards spin, offshore flow. Even though we have high tide happening pretty much right now, tide is going out, there is no storm surge. So, you're not seeing any pelting or overtopping of the first Ocean Boulevard which we've seen so many times before. We did take a drive.

I want to show you some of the video. The damage around Myrtle Beach, not that great, palm fronds certainly on the streets, seeing a lot of awnings down, and a lot of police able to drive around, check on property and people that might be out. Not a lot of damage. The real problem for South Carolina, Don, is going to be inland and it is going to be river flooding coming down from the rain, not necessarily the storm surge. Even though we're expecting stronger winds coming, this hurricane will eventually be less of a wind event and more of a rain a rain event. Certainly, we'll see that in the coming hours.

[14:15:00] LEMON: This storm will go further inland, come ashore, move further down the coast south in the Carolinas. Drew Griffin, thank you very much. We'll get back to drew and our crews out here. The issue again as Drew said, as Jennifer said, Brian Todd, it's the rain. It's flooding. People are stuck in their homes. Flood water will rise. That's where the dangerous situations will come in. Brooke, you know, hurricanes most of the time come through quickly ashore, but when you get the ones that come through and they sit there and spin and bring in all that water and surge, what have you, that's where the big problem comes in. That's where people's lives really become effected by that. We're going to be here watching it.

BALDWIN: We'll come back to you. I was listening to your conversation with Craig Fugate saying this is the end of the beginning. Don Lemon stand by. We'll come back for special coverage in Myrtle Beach.

Meantime, the other breaking story today, Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy. Here's the biggie. Agreeing to cooperate with department of justice and talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Those details are next. Don't forget that the past can speak to the future.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll have more on the storm and flooding in Carolina in moments. But three words in Washington sent shock waves through the capital. I plead guilty. Paul Manafort uttering these words less than two hours ago in a Washington courtroom. The plea deal is another massive win for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team. Now the scary part potentially for the president, Manafort agreed to cooperate on any and all matters. Prosecutors say that includes interviews, briefings to special counsel investigators, testimony and other proceedings and turning over documents.

So, I have Gloria Borger standing by, also former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers. I want to begin Shimon Prokupescz was breaking this earlier today. He is there in Washington and so, Shimon, tell me what this cooperation means.

SHIMON PROKUPESCZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: This is the guy by all accounts that the special counsel wanted to cooperate from the beginning, right around the time gates was cooperating. They wanted Paul Manafort. They finally got it. Took some time. What this essentially means, he has to do everything the special counsel and department of justice wants him to do. It is clear that he has information that they wanted. They met with him according to documents just filed on September 11. Special counsel met with him, spoke with him in a proffer meeting where he has to tell them about crimes he committed, crimes that others committed, and it was after then about two days later they entered into the plea agreement. This is a game changer for sure in the investigation, in this story and how things go from here. Really everything that we've known all along in this case is that they really wanted Paul Manafort to cooperate.

The other thing here, Brooke, this is what a lot of defendants want in these type of cases, Paul Manafort faces a substantial amount of jail time, the rest of his life perhaps in jail. What the government agreed to do for his cooperation is write a 5k letter. Filed a plea agreement moments ago. In this plea agreement they say if he cooperates, if he is truthful, and if he provides them with good information, they're going to write a letter for him. It is a motion they'll file with the court, and therefore he could eventually be released and not face any jail time, go on with his life, and live free. Right now, he is sitting behind bars, facing potentially the rest of his life. So that's a substantial load to cooperate in this case as well. And Brooke, when you think of this and where the story goes, we Don't know. Who else is left. So many people are cooperating with the special counsel. So many charges have been brought, indictments have been brought. The question is what else is about to drop here, perhaps where Paul Manafort is going to provide that information.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Let me turn to you, Jennifer, Elie. This is a pretty big fish. A pretty big fish. Why is this so significant?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Federal cooperation is an all or nothing proposition, it is different in state systems. Someone comes in to cooperate with feds, they have to tell us everything. Jennifer and I have done this. You start. Did you shop lift when you were a teenager?

[14:25:00] And take us all the way up through the campaign and what you did yesterday in jail. It is an all or nothing proposition. Everything Manafort knows should become or already is in Mueller's mind now.

BALDWIN: Walk us through. Skip past shoplifting in high school, skip to this was former campaign chair for the Trump campaign, a man sitting in the Trump tower meeting. What kinds of questions will they be asking, and does this mean they're going to get the goods?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Elie, said he has to talk about everything he has Done but has to talk about everything he knows other people have Done, right? So, it is not just things he was involved in, it is what he heard, observed, all of that stuff. They're going to take him through from day one to the end of his involvement with the Trump campaign. How did he get involved, how did that come about, who did he deal with, what was he involved with, what are the Russian connections, what he may have done in that? That's where he is important. He is one of the ones with most of that. BALDWIN: How will they know if he is telling the truth?

HONIG: That's a great question, something we struggle with as prosecutors. You compare what he tells you to all of the other evidence, e-mails, financial documents, what you know from other witnesses. I have a laundry list of what I would ask about. Trump tower meeting, tell us everything, how did it come about, who knew, why did it come up, what follow-up. Why was the GOP platform changed on the shipping of arms to Ukraine a month after you came on board? Why were you hired in the first place, having incurred 10 million of debt to this oligarch? And this is a guy close enough to Trump, inner circle, Papadopoulos and other cooperators weren't inner circle, and he has the Russian connection.

BALDWIN: Gloria, one of the biggies, will this touch Trump? Sarah Sanders says this had nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated. That's their story, they're sticking to it.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Rudy Giuliani is saying the same thing. Evan Perez And I talked to a bunch of people affiliated with the sort of Trump side of this, all saying the same thing, and they Don't know. How do they know? When you look at this agreement and it specifically says your client shall testify fully, completely and truthfully about anything we want, they own him, OK, they own him, he can't plead the fifth. He has to tell the truth. He is going to go in and talk without lawyers. And of course, it will be malpractice not to ask about everything he knows about the Trump campaign during the time he was there, and that of course when you think about it pre-inauguration is the collusion part of the equation. So, it's not surprising that Sarah Sanders and Rudy Giuliani are coming out on the record and saying this, and by the way, Trump's attorneys said this all along, they weren't worried about Manafort, but Manafort had not cut a deal yet. And he has cut a deal as Shimon points out to save his life basically, to try to get out of jail free. And he's got to tell the truth in this or else it is completely useless to him.

BALDWIN: He is 69, he was sentenced to 8 and a half years. This could be a game changer for him, depending on what he is able to offer up. Gloria, thank you, Jennifer, Elie, thank you so much.

Coming up next, we're going to take you back to the Carolinas where Hurricane Florence is lashing the coast. A member of the Navy helping with the rescues joins me live.