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Hurricane Florence Pounds East Coast; Manafort Agrees to Cooperate With Mueller. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 14, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:17]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our special live coverage of Hurricane Florence.

I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. And Don Lemon is standing by with me there in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as we have just confirmed, tragically, the first two deaths in the wake of Hurricane Florence, this mother and her baby due to a tree falling on a home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

So, of course, thinking of them and really just everyone stranded in so many homes.

Just talking, Don, to the Cajun Navy commander about all these high- water rescues you know in and around the Carolinas, where you are, tell me what you're seeing, what you know.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing the wind starting to pick up, the rain as well. It comes and then it goes.

But, Brooke, what -- you were interviewing the member of the Cajun Navy, and all of those folks there. It's just -- it's sad because people stay in the storm. And that's what happens when you stay. You get trees falling down. You get electricity. You get transformers breaking. You get debris, and you don't know what's under floodwaters.

So that's the problem. It's sad that this happened. But the real part is, is that we're probably going to get some more injuries in the storm. Let's hope there aren't any more deaths and that people are actually doing what emergency workers say -- are saying.

If you're in your homes, get to a high place, because there's going to be some flooding here. Stay in a place that is safe. Stay out of the elements.

I want to get too CNN's Miguel Marquez.

Miguel has been following the storm now and witnessing and been involved in some of the flooding there. The last time we saw him, he was knee-deep in water. Not sure exactly what's going on now.

Miguel, what's going on?

(CROSSTALK)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ... how powerful this storm is.

It is it's very clear that, as tragic as it is, trees, light poles, everything is going to come down in this storm. We have we have moved from the area where we were earlier, where it was flooding. The tide is going out and it is somewhat less intense.

This is the boardwalk to the ocean. And I want to show you just how intense this wind has become. This morning, we were out here, and this was beach right up to this boardwalk here. Now about a foot of the beach here. Then we got two feet of the beach -- of the other beach here in Carolina Beach has been washed away.

Significant beach erosion along this entire area. The waves are just massive here. The wind is unrelenting, still blowing up from the south. We started the day, and it was absolutely nothing. We were in the eye of the storm. And now we are right back in this storm that is just creeping along, 108,000 people across New Hanover County now without electricity, just a massive disruption to people's lives here.

I just met some people who are -- 11 people who are staying here, and they said they're doing OK. Everyone just hunkering down here in New Hanover County and in Carolina Beach. But it's going to be a long, long time before this storm blows through -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, yes, 108,000 where you are, Miguel, 650,000 across the region. That's a lot of people without power. That's the issue. People have lost electricity, but also the flooding as well.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And the rescues.

So, listen, I want to get now to Brian Todd.

Brian Todd witnessed this attempted rescue in Wilmington. He's at the scene, where we have gotten confirmation that two people have died.

Brian, tell us what you're seeing. What's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Don.

These rescue teams now are just kind of -- I will pull the police tape down a little bit here and we can zoom in. These rescue teams pretty much wrapping up their operation. They seem to have just gone through some kind of an after-incident briefing. They're packing up equipment. An ambulance has just departed from here.

And here comes another one. But he's stopping right now. We have confirmed what we believe now are the first two fatalities from this storm here in Wilmington, a mother and her child. I was told by a relative that it was a very young child died when this -- you may be able to see this tree over my right shoulder. That massive tree came down on that small red brick house early this

morning and split it open. There were three people inside, Don. We got here after -- shortly after the first person had been extracted. That was a man who we're told survived, but he almost didn't make it.

[15:05:00]

We're told that they brought a surgical team in to possibly amputate what we believe was his leg that was pinned in there, but they moved some objects -- they were able to hold some objects in place and pull him out.

So he was extracted and they were able to take him for some medical care. We do not know his condition. But he apparently did survive this. But after that, and as we were witnessing for hours, these crews were working exhaustively for several hours trying to extract the mother and her child, trying to save them.

They were cutting through the tree. They were cutting through brick. They were cutting through other parts of the house. We saw them removing a set of dresser drawers and tossing it aside trying to get to them.

I spoke to a battalion chief, you know, a couple of hours ago, when it was still unclear what their conditions were. I said, are you communicating with them? And he said, not at this time. He had a fairly grim look on his face. We got a sense of what was going on. But, again, you know, they were just working so frantically and exhaustively trying to get these two people out.

And, unfortunately, a very sad outcome in the end -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, it's a really awful outcome. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

And that -- you heard the warning from Brian Todd. You also heard I from Miguel Marquez. Unless it is a really dire situation, they're asking you not to call rescue workers or emergency workers or dial 911, because they have their hands full. They're dealing with people who have flooding issues. They're dealing with people who may have some trees down, people that really need immediate medical attention.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

LEMON: A lot of people, as we have been telling you, riding this storm out.

One of them is Todd Byrd. He joins us from Wrightsville Beach.

Todd, how are you -- how are you faring?

TODD BYRD, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA: Oh, we're doing -- we're doing fine It looks like maybe we're seeing the worst of it. It looks like the tide is finally starting to recede a little bit.

We still seem like we're getting some very high gusts, though. LEMON: Well, it's starting to recede, Todd, but if you have been listening to the forecasters, you know that this is going to sit for a while and it's going to cause us some flooding.

Do you normally ride these things out? Do you normally stay for big storms like this?

BYRD: Yes, so I have been in Wilmington since 1984, and I have ridden them out since Diana.

This one has been a little different, though. It seemed like it just keeps going and going. I guess it's just stalled on us. I don't have any television or anything. So I'm trying to keep posted, so it's kind of good to talk to you to find out what the storm is doing.

Is it going to stick on us for a little bit?

LEMON: Yes. Yes, it's going to say over for a while. It could be a couple of days.

The worst, at least where I am -- I'm in Myrtle Beach -- the worst won't happen until maybe the midnight hours. At least, we won't get the beginnings of this storm.

[15:10:08]

But then it's going to continue to sit here and circle.

I have got to ask you, though, because, in Wilmington, we're just getting our first combination of two people who died, a baby and a mom.

BYRD: Oh, no.

LEMON: And that was due to a tree falling.

I'm just wondering -- I'm just wondering what conditions that you're able to see there where you are now?

BYRD: There is a tremendous amount of trees down.

I have three down in my backyard alone, which has crushed a little chicken coop and a well house. Looking out my backyard now, I can see probably a total of about nine or 10 trees, big trees, that are down. It just kind of depends on where you go in town.

It's like you will get a big gust in a certain area, maybe not so much in another area. But I think one went right through my backyard. And I was down at my marina this morning down at Wrightsville Beach, and overall not too bad. But we did get some flooding in our lower levels.

LEMON: Todd, how many family members? Is it you by yourself? Or you got some folks with you?

BYRD: I have my wife and my daughter, which I have sent to Disney World. And my son is in Raleigh to visit with some family members up there, so I'm here by myself looking after property and my other businesses.

And they're safe. They're on vacation. Maybe I should have gone too.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: That would -- probably would not have been a bad idea.

Listen, we're glad that you're OK. But, listen, to try to stay in the center of your home. There's so much more to come when it comes to Florence. And also stay in a high area in your house as well, because we don't want you to being a victim, a flood victim here.

Thank you very much, Todd. You take care of yourself. We appreciate it.

I want to get back now to my colleague Brooke Baldwin.

Brooke is there, and she's been covering this from New York.

Brooke, my heart broke when I heard you...

BALDWIN: I know. I know.

LEMON: ... get the confirmation live on air about the baby and the mom. It is just awful.

But this thing is going to stick around for a while, and, sadly, we're going to be reporting on more people who are going to need a lot of help throughout the situation here.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I know. I can't stop thinking about them. I can't stop thinking about this mother and the baby, and the father, who survived, who's en route to the hospital.

And if I may just take a minute, think about the first-responders who were there, many of whom are parents themselves, right, who saw this and tried to help, and just -- just couldn't.

LEMON: Yes.

BALDWIN: Don, thank you. Stand by.

Also, we will talk to someone who is trapped inside their home. That's ahead.

Plus, a stunning turn of events in this Paul Manafort case, the former Trump campaign chairman cutting a deal, agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. We have details and what he's being forced to give up and what it could mean for the Russia investigation.

CNN's special coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:20]

BALDWIN: All right, staying on the breaking news here, Hurricane Florence, we were just reporting the tragic news out of Wilmington, North Carolina.

This mother and her child, young child, have been killed after this tree fell on her house. The father has apparently survived and is being treated at the hospital.

But we have now also learned of a third fatality involving a woman in Pender County, North Carolina, who had some sort of cardiac event. Emergency crews just couldn't quite get to her in time. So that is number three as far as deaths so far. And it's still early yet, unfortunately.

Miguel Marquez is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, who has had the pictures of the day.

You were in water for much of the day. And now you're saying the story where you are, not only the water level, but the wind.

MARQUEZ: Yes.

Brooke, it is absolutely horrendous that people are now dying. And this is one of the concerns that emergency services was worried about. And I can tell you that the reason that you had this obviously tree fall into a house, the winds are just horrendous. And this storm will not relent.

This is the boardwalk in Carolina Beach. I want to show you something here that's quite amazing. One, the waves are unbelievable. They have grown in size, maybe doubled in size since this morning.

And when we got up this morning, it was the eye of the storm, and it wasn't actually that bad.

Going to walk this way, because it's so darn painful.

This morning, there was beach up there to right here. There was sand right up to here. Check this out now. About two feet of the beach is now gone here. They have erosion all the way down Carolina Beach here. It is just brutal.

Across New Hanover County, about 108,000 people are now without power. Certainly, here in Carolina Beach, we're without power. Duke Energy only serves about 128,000 people in New Hanover. So most of the entire county is now without power.

How much longer this is going to go on is anyone's guess. The storm is just moving so slowly. They think by Saturday, perhaps Sunday the rain and the worst of it will have gone by and they will be able to reopen the bridge onto Carolina Beach and get people off it onto the island again, but right now just miserable conditions out here. We're expecting another storm surge, another tide around midnight

tonight. And that storm surge at the same time, and we respect more flooding, and that may be the biggest test that Carolina Beach will face -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: That wind is insane.

Miguel Marquez and team, thank you so much on the island of Carolina Beach there in North Carolina.

Coming up next, we're going to talk to a woman who is currently trapped in her home, more high-water rescues for you as well.

[15:20:05]

Stay with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And you are watching CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Florence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We are back with the breaking news on Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman is now a government witness.

[15:25:01]

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of witness tampering in federal court today. And, as part of this whole deal, he is cooperating with prosecutors, including special counsel Robert Mueller, on -- quote, unquote -- "any and all matters.

So, Manafort's lawyer today choosing his words very carefully with reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL MANAFORT: Tough day for Mr. Manafort, but he's accepted responsibility.

And he wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. He's accepting responsibility. And this is for conduct that dates back many years, and everybody should remember that.

So, thank you, everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We have standing by chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Also with us, Berit Berger, former federal prosecutor.

But, Shimon Prokupecz, let's start with you in Washington, D.C., just on what you have been reporting out today, this cooperation deal on any and all matters. SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

And what could that possibly be, right? That's what everyone's questioning and asking. Sort of, what other information, what information could Paul Manafort possibly be providing?

This is a big get for the special counsel. This is someone that they wanted to cooperate from the beginning. Certainly, when Bob Mueller came in and took over this investigation, his team, Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead prosecutors who was in court today and stood up and announced to the world that Paul Manafort was now cooperating, this is something that they have wanted for quite some time.

But something has seemed to change, perhaps maybe because Paul Manafort had spent all this time in jail and the prospect of facing the rest of his life in jail now perhaps led him to cooperate.

What's significant here also is that the government has agreed that, based on his cooperation, if it's a successful cooperation and he does everything that he's supposed to do, they're going to write a letter to the judge essentially downgrading his sentencing, which could mean that he will be a free man eventually, and he will be able to move on and live his life.

His cooperation is substantial, obviously, because he was in on a lot of meetings. He's had a lot of overseas contacts with Russians, with Ukrainians, with people that -- with other countries, people associated with other countries.

And the other thing I think that's important in all this is that his cooperation is not limited to the special counsel. It has to do with the Department of Justice. And as we have been reporting these last several months, the special counsel team, Rob Mueller, Bob Mueller, and his team, they have sent cases all over the country, different parts of the country that have nothing to do perhaps with the campaign or Russia or Trump, that have to do with other issues, that Paul Manafort may have knowledge of and.

He will have to testify in those cases as well. So, as you said, Brooke, no doubt a significant get here, a significant development. Changes the entire dynamic of this investigation now.

BALDWIN: Shimon, thank you so much.

Over to Berit and Jeff Toobin next to me.

And we were talking earlier today when the news broke about the plea deal. And you said, my question is whether he will cooperate. He is now fully cooperating. This is a big get. This was someone who was in Trump's inner circle. What kinds of questions will he be answering for team Mueller?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the big question that's been at the core of this investigation from the very start is, we know there were these conspiracies of the Russians to help the Trump campaign using social media, using hacking. We know, too, that the Trump campaign was extremely solicitous of

Russia, that President -- that candidate Trump was praising Vladimir Putin. What we don't know is whether there was a connection. Did the Trump campaign conspire, collude with the Russian government?

If anyone's going to know that, it will be Paul Manafort.

BALDWIN: Paul Manafort.

TOOBIN: And that's got -- and I don't know what his answer is, but we will -- the Mueller team will know soon.

BALDWIN: Berit, how would they know that he's telling the truth?

BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's interesting.

I think one of the ways that they do that is by testing every single thing that a cooperating witness says against the other hard evidence they have. Here, they have the benefit of already having signed up many other cooperating witnesses, having served dozens of subpoenas, conducted an entire grand jury investigation.

So they're going to ask him questions that they already know the answer to. So I think that's one of the ways that they will be able to figure out if he's actually telling the truth or not.

BALDWIN: What would you be looking for next? Like other potential charges involving other people, and you sort of read between the lines, and think, hmm, is that because of something Paul Manafort said?

TOOBIN: Well, the person who's clearly in the -- in the sights of the special prosecutor at this point is Roger Stone.

I mean, they have been interviewing everyone around him. And what makes him a potentially interesting target is that he is someone who, at least allegedly, and has not -- this has not been proven, and it hasn't been charged -- had connections to both WikiLeaks -- that is sort of the Russian side -- and the Trump campaign.

That connection has not yet been made.

BALDWIN: So, Gloria, back over to you in Washington, and, of course, this Trump White House and that statement from Sarah Sanders essentially saying, you know, this has nothing to do with --