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Brett Kavanaugh Faces Accusations of Sexual Misconduct; Tropical Storm Florence Pounds East Coast; Manafort Agrees to Cooperate With Mueller; Florence Death Toll Climbs to Five as Storm Hits Hard; Kavanaugh Denies Allegation of Assault as a Teenager. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 14, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: catastrophic flooding. Florence hits, and disaster strikes, with a deluge of wind and water swamping homes, cars and streets.
We're live across the Carolinas covering this hurricane crisis that just turned deadly.
Manafort flips. President Trump's former campaign chairman agrees to tell all to Robert Mueller in a new plea agreement that could change everything in the Russia investigation. We have details on the deal and the pressure it puts on the president.
And assault allegation. We're learning about the contents of a secret letter accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was in high school. We will talk about how this is being handled and whether it might prevent Kavanaugh's confirmation.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two major breaking stories on the Carolina coast.
The first confirmed deaths in the Hurricane Florence disaster. At least four people have been killed, including a mother and a baby whose house was hit by a fallen tree. Hours after Florence made landfall, it's now a tropical storm and on a slow, very, very punishing crawl. Rescuers are scrambling to reach people trapped by life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic flooding.
More than 600,000 customers right now, they are without power.
Also breaking, prosecutors now say Paul Manafort is already giving them information after entering new guilty pleas as part of a deal with a special counsel. The president's former campaign chairman agreeing to cooperate on -- quote -- "any and all matters," a potential game-changer in the Russia investigation. We have our correspondents, analysts and guests standing by in the
disaster area of the storm. And here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're covering all the breaking news.
First, let's go to the hard-hit North Carolina area, where CNN's Nick Watt is covering the storm disaster for us.
Nick, you're in North Myrtle Beach. What are the conditions like there?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, all day, we have had heavy rain and driving gusts of wind that have actually made it too dangerous for first-responders to venture out for much of the day.
And here in North Myrtle Beach, Wolf, we're actually still waiting for the worst of the storm to reach us.
WATT (voice-over): Tonight, Hurricane Florence beating down on the Carolina coast, the storm making landfall in North Carolina early Friday morning, bringing sustained winds of over 90 miles an hour, ripping through structures, washing out roads, soaking the North Carolina coastline, as it slowly crawls ashore.
The center of the storm is expected to linger over the coast of North and South Carolina for another day, bringing life-threatening storm surge, dangerous winds, and torrential rains, endangering the many residents who stayed behind.
GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless. It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trestle's almost underwater.
WATT: In New Bern, North Carolina, 150 residents were trapped overnight while awaiting rescue.
FELIX FISHER, NEW BERN: It got real heavy real fast.
WATT: Storm surge reaching 10 feet in that area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water on the wall, you can see how high up the water was by the dirt.
WATT: At a nearby river bend, volunteers from Maryland dispatched in eight-person teams to the area to assist with rescues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to go out last night just for -- to scope the area to see where we were going to go today, and ended up getting several calls last night, hundreds of calls for service last night. We risky a couple people that were posting on Facebook their addresses and stuff. We -- elderly people, blind people.
WATT: The Cajun Navy, a volunteer group based in Louisiana, spreading out across the worst-hit areas, rescuing hundreds of people overnight along the North Carolina coast.
TAYLOR FONTENOT, CAJUN NAVY: From about 3:30 a.m. to about 8:30 a.m., evacuated well over 500 people.
WATT: As the storm creeps towards South Carolina, some residents there also wanting to stay behind, bracing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stayed there during Hugo. And I hadn't left, didn't leave during Matthew. And I just am going to ride it out.
WATT: And there are a couple of thousand people here in North Myrtle Beach who have decided to ride it out. Call them brave. Call them foolish. But they are here.
One local official texted me a little while ago. And he says: "We are lucky right now. Only a few down trees and downed power lines." Let's see if that luck lasts through a wet and windy night -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Nick Watt, be careful over there. Thank you.
Let's get some more in the first deaths since Florence hit land.
CNN's Brian Todd is in Wilmington, North Carolina, for us.
Brian, you're near the house where a mother and her baby were killed.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
And we have some updated numbers for you tonight. We just heard there are a total of five fatalities in North Carolina so far today from the storm. So these numbers could easily, of course, be going up. And this was the scene of really an excruciating rescue operation.
This 30,000-pound tree right behind me, we can zoom in on this house. You can see where it came crashing down. It's split the back of this house wide open. And that's the back bedroom. And shortly after that happened, a little before 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, the 911 calls came out.
The rescue teams got here as soon as they could. They quickly knew that they had to send in reinforcements. They brought a lot of trucks here, a lot of heavy equipment to try to cut through some of this stuff. We got here shortly after that.
This rescue operation took a total of about eight hours. And we were here for much of it. But, in the end, they could not save the lives of a lady in here and her small child. Two people in this house died. A third person did survive, a man, and he almost didn't make it, Wolf.
He was pinned underneath some very, very heavy objects. They brought in a surgical team here, thinking that they might have to amputate his leg. They got the surgical team in here. They cut through some other objects, lifted some objects. And they were actually able to extricate him without having to amputate any of his appendages there.
So he got out and was taken for some medical treatment. But, Wolf, we were talking to these first-responders all day long as they came in and out of here. They were telling us just what they were trying to do to get to these two people. They had to go -- first they tried to get access to them from the inside. They couldn't do that.
Then they came back out and had to cut through everything. They brought just a lot of heavy equipment to cut through this material. They had to cut through brick and the wood of the tree and other material to try to get to these two people.
And I saw them cutting through and then throwing out a big set of dresser drawers. So they were just -- they were working to the point of exhaustion. In the end, Wolf, they simply could not save the lives of this lady and her baby.
BLITZER: Sad, indeed.
All right, Brian Todd, on the scene for us, thank you.
Tonight, rescuers, they are an alert across the Carolinas, and as the waters keep rising, even more people may be trapped.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in New Bern in North Carolina for us.
You have been with the rescuers. What are you seeing? What are you hearing?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, overnight, Wolf, many residents here in the town of New Bern, which is rather inland from the North Carolina coast, started seeing the floodwaters rising from rivers and tributaries coming into their homes.
Many neighborhoods looking like this, taking on three to four feet of water. One rescuer told me they have seen six to 10 feet of water in some places. And that led to a flurry of activity here throughout the day, with not only swift water rescue teams, professional teams that had come in from across the country to help in this crisis, but also a fleet of volunteers who, reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey, what we saw there a year ago, where volunteers showed up with their own boats and just launched boats into these floodwaters to pull people from their homes.
That's very much what we saw today throughout this town in the pockets of the areas where floodwaters had come up and overtaken some of these homes. The mayor of the city says more than 300 people were pulled out of their homes throughout the course of the day.
Last we heard -- and we still haven't gotten any final updates from the mayor today -- but roughly three dozen to 40 people still needed to be pulled out of their homes. Those rescue efforts have to have continued, but now, as the sun is about to set on another dreary day here in New Bern, North Carolina, many of those operations will come to an end. It's just simply too dangerous. But it has -- all of this has taken place, Wolf, under an unrelenting rain and downpours that have gone on throughout most of the day -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And it's continuing, as we can see. Ed Lavandera, thank you.
Let's bring in a veteran storm chaser who's been in the middle of all of this as Florence pounds the Carolinas. Ben McMillan, a field correspondent for WeatherNation, is joining us. He's in North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for us tonight.
So, what's it been like to watch this storm, Ben?
BEN MCMILLAN, WEATHERNATION: Yes, Wolf, good anything from the Carolina coast.
We had very strong winds earlier in the day, but those have started to die down. We've seen a lessening of those wind speeds. But that doesn't mean the threat is over.
The next threat we're looking at is flooding. You can see it behind me, covering trucks and houses, and those water levels are just going to go up. Many storm deaths occur in tropical systems because of flooding, even more so than those winds.
So, we want people, just because the wind is dying down, to not think the threat -- we want them to be vigilant as we go throughout the next few days.
BLITZER: We know a lot of people have evacuated, but those who stayed, what are they doing now? Where are they encamped?
MCMILLAN: Many folks, Wolf, have left these areas, as they were under a mandatory evacuation.
We have actually seen (INAUDIBLE) around. We've seen some vehicular traffic with people trying to come back to the area. But, again, we want to urge you, if you have been asked by officials under a mandatory evacuation to leave, please wait for those officials to send out the word that it is safe to return home.
BLITZER: What about the flooding and storm surges? You are seeing them right now. Are they going to get worse over the next few hours?
MCMILLAN: Well, we haven't really seen the winds coming off of the ocean much here in North Myrtle Beach today, so that storm surge could be a problem, especially as we approach high tide.
Most of the water you see behind me is from freshwater, all of that heavy rainfall, because this storm has been slow-moving. It has really added up. And we're just going to see those threats continue with that surge and the high tide levels coming into the overnight hours. BLITZER: Ben McMillan is a field correspondent for WeatherNation.
Ben, We will get back to you as well.
I want to quickly go to CNN's Dianne Gallagher. She's in New Bern, North Carolina, for us with a different view.
What are you seeing over there, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a you can see right now, the wind and the rain picking up yet again.
Ed was talking about this relentless feel of rain that we have had all day today. To be very honest, it has felt worse today than it almost did last night, when Florence was coming in and we were outside doing these live shot. In downtown, we have seen a lot of the flooding kind of return.
Some of it had receded, leading all of this debris and moving very large things. Like, they have these barriers around town they moved into parking lots. They had large potted plants, port-a-potties just scattered and littered around downtown.
We went on a rescue mission this morning with some volunteers from Maryland. They came down here on their own. They drove through the day, worked through the night, slept a couple hours, came back up, worked all day through the day.
But the most difficult thing that they're dealing with right now is the people who don't know what they're going to do now, Wolf. There are a lot of people who didn't think that this was going to be a big deal. That's why they didn't leave, or they didn't have the finances to leave. They thought that they could ride this one out.
They're being rescued. They can't bring anything with them. They are small boats they're getting on. And so they have left everything in their homes. And it could be one, two weeks, maybe never for them to actually go back and retrieve some of that.
And, Wolf, we were able to see some of these people's personal belongings just going in the water, hanging out on their neighbor's yard. People posting on Facebook asking, have you seen this or that?
There is a woman who is staying at our hotel. We don't have any power there. She's there. It's sort of a communal area where there's one room off of a generator that got it. She said, I know that my home is gone. But I can't bear to look at it. Pictures are up. I can't look at it right yet.
BLITZER: Such a heartbreaking story, indeed.
All right, Dianne, thank you. We will get back to you.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Carolina Beach in North Carolina for us.
Miguel, you're on the water in very dangerous conditions. I want you to be safe, but update us on what you're seeing and hearing. It looks awful.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
The wind is whipping stronger than it has in the last 24 hours. It is unbelievable. This storm, Florence, will not quit. They call this a Category 1. This is some of the strongest Category 1 winds that I have certainly seen.
Most of New Hanover County is now out of electricity. No electricity service to almost the entire county. Our cell phones have gone down. All communications here cut. We are now using a satellite phone and some other technology to even get this live shot out.
It is absolute pandemonium here. The emergency services have just basically hunkered down for as long as possible, hoping that they can get through this storm. At midnight tonight, there is another tide that will come in, and that's when it will sort of be make or break for people here.
They expect a very strong storm surge, and with these winds, I cannot imagine that there is not be a lot of downed trees and damaged homes and problems in this town. This is a city of 6,200 people. About 600 people or so have decided to stay. This may be the greatest test they face in the last 24 hours -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I want you to be very, very careful out there, Miguel. Go inside to safety,because this is -- it looks awful, from our perspective as viewers right now.
Have you ever seen or felt anything like this before in all of your years you have been covering these hurricanes?
I guess we have lost communications. And I'm glad he is going inside.
Miguel, if you can hear me, be safe over there.
MARQUEZ: We have we have not felt anything like this, not in this storm. This is completely different.
BLITZER: That's first and foremost priority.
MARQUEZ: These are the most intense winds we have seen. We can't even really get out in them right now. The rain, the water, we have seen tons of that, certainly a storm surge today, but winds like this, we have not seen -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Be safe over there. Get some safety.
Obviously, we want you, first and foremost, to be safe. It looks awful out there, Miguel Marquez reporting for us.
BLITZER: just ahead down, we're going to have much more of our breaking news coverage.
We will speak with a top emergency official who's right now on the front lines of this disaster about rescues that are currently under way.
BLITZER: Breaking tonight, at least five people are now dead, as Florence collaborate the Carolinas and refuses to go away.
It has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it's still very powerful and very dangerous.
Just got an update on power outages. Now more than 700,000 customers don't have electricity tonight.
Let's bring in CNN's Drew Griffin in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for us.
Drew, what are you seeing and experiencing there as the storm hangs on?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it hangs on and continually batters the coast.
But as this storm weakens here at the coast, Wolf, it's increasingly becoming a fact that, the more you go west, inland, is where this next disaster is going to take. I just did get a forecast for the river flooding that's going to take place in South Carolina.
They're talking about rivers peaking not until Wednesday in some cases where they're going to have some record flooding. Right now, Florence continues to batter us here right on the beach on Myrtle Beach. Minor damage. Most of the saving grace has been that the hurricane, now tropical storm, has pushed the water away from Myrtle Beach, because we have an offshore flow, so not that much storm surge here.
They're hoping that will hold as this slow, torrential rain just keeps churning through South Carolina. And, as I said, Wolf, people are really starting to look inland for where this disaster is going to be.
Low-lying areas, anywhere along the rivers is really going to have a tough time for days on out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, this disaster is going to continue. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
Let's talk to the director of emergency management in Myrtle Beach. Bruce Arnel is joining us on the phone. Bruce, what are the greatest risks to life for people in your community right now?
BRUCE ARNEL, MYRTLE BEACH EMERGENCY MANAGER: Right now, Wolf, as Drew was saying, we're in the midst of it right now with the wind and the rain.
We encourage everybody to stay where they are, in shelters, if that's the case. We're faring pretty good. We're not getting a lot of structural damage in Myrtle Beach. However, the wind is blowing. And, again, as Bruce said, we're more concerned right now with the riverine flooding, cutting off access into our city in the days to come.
BLITZER: Have you been conducting rescues?
ARNEL: Not so much in Myrtle Beach. We don't plan on getting out until in the morning to do our damage assessments. We don't have a lot of people in town right now. So that hasn't been an issue.
BLITZER: A curfew, as you obviously know, has been extended for the area. Are people heeding that curfew?
ARNEL: We have very good voluntary compliance with our curfew right now. We're happy with the percentage of people that have left the area.
But, again, our concern right now is the riverine flooding in the inland areas outside of Myrtle Beach that could potentially cut off access in the days to come to our -- to our city.
BLITZER: So what's your advice for those people who are hunkering down in those areas right now?
ARNEL: The best thing I can tell them right now is to be patient and -- just be patient, because this is going to take a couple days for us to figure out.
The governor has not lifted the evacuation order, so -- and we're in constant communication with our county partners and our state partners in reference to that. But we just want everybody just to be patient, be calm, and just give us time to sort this out.
BLITZER: Bruce, do you have all of the resources you need? Do you have enough support from state and federal authorities?
You know, we did the right thing early. The governor did the right thing early. I feel that we're prepared to handle this, although it is going to be -- it is going to be a challenge in the days to come due to the length of time that we're going to be dealing with this flooding.
BLITZER: Give us some perspective. How do you compare this storm to others that you have had to deal with? ARNEL: Matthew was one of the biggest flood events, besides Floyd,
that we have had in, you know, recent history. This one has got the potential the do worse damage than Matthew.
BLITZER: Yes, it is an awful situation. Well, good luck to you, Bruce. Good luck to all of the folks in Myrtle Beach, indeed throughout all of the Carolinas. We are watching and hoping for only the best.
Appreciate it very much.
ARNEL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, just ahead we are getting new information. We are getting more pictures from our correspondents in the Carolinas. We have many of them up and down the coast. We will have live reports coming up.
Also, another major story we are following: Paul Manafort flips. He's agreeing now to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and avoiding a second criminal trial. So, how big of a win is this for Mueller and his federal team? Our analysts are standing by.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: We're following breaking news on the Florence disaster in the Carolinas, and we are seeing some very, very dangerous and deteriorating conditions unfolding right now hours after the storm made landfall. Let's go back to CNN's Miguel Marquez who is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina for us. Miguel, update our viewers right now. Can you hear me? Tell us what is going on?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I can hear you. We have had to take some pretty extraordinary measures to get a live shot out of here. It is unbelievable. This storm, Florence, will not quit. We have dealt with rain, we have dealt with the tidal surge and now we are dealing with winds, like we haven't seen the entire time. It is an incredible burst of energy that this storm is now unleashing on Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
About 600 people or so of the 6,200 people who live in this town decided to ride this storm out. For the most part, over the last 24 hours, there has been heavy winds, there has been rain, there has been some damage to this community, but this is the most intense wind we have seen. It has been going for the last hour or so and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. It is just amazing how slow this storm has moved, and even though it is a tropical storm, it came on as a Category 1, this is an extraordinarily strong Category 1.
MARQUEZ: At the moment, we must be experiencing something in the 60 to 70-miles-per-hour sustained winds, which is just a very brutal place to be right now. The amount of damage that we had already seen around town, we can only imagine it may be worse. This wind will also drive that tidal surge around midnight tonight. We expect that tide to come back in, and wind like this will drive it up even higher.
Authorities really aren't not sure what to expect or to think. They are just hoping that people who are here can ride out this storm and that they will be okay in the morning, and then it will be a matter of assessing a very broad area of not only Carolina Beach but the county as well.
Some 108,000 people across the county are now out of electricity, certainly here in the city as well. Cell phones have gone down, and it is just - this is a storm that just won't quit. It is really impressive, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I want you to be safe over there. Be careful, Miguel Marquez, Carolina Beach, North Carolina, for us. We will check back with you. Obviously, we're going to continue to watch all of the hurricane developments as they unfold, but there's another major breaking story we're also following right now.
Tonight, the former chairman of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, he is now cooperating with the special counsel in the Russia investigation. Manafort striking a plea deal that requires him to provide information about any and all matters considered relevant by the Federal prosecutor.
This is incredibly significant, perhaps even more than we realized depending on what Manafort knows and whether it involves the President of the United States. Our analysts are here along with our justice correspondent, Evan Perez who was in the courtroom earlier in the day.
Evan, tell us what it was like. It was a dramatic hour that you personally eye witnessed.
EVAN PEREZ, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right, it was a dramatic hour. What was most remarkable about it was that the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, sort of delivered this in the middle of an extended soliloquy about exactly what Paul Manafort was admitting to. And in it, he almost sort of just breezed by saying that in Page 2 of the cooperation agreement, and we all kind of gasped at the idea that there was a cooperation agreement that we did not know about.
It is clear, Wolf, that this is an extensive agreement. This is something that is broad and it essentially gives prosecutors everything that they want. As you said, the language says that any and everything that the prosecutors want him to testify, he has to come in for interviews and briefings without a lawyer present.
He has to testify in any proceedings that the prosecution wants him to testify in. If he wants to - if they need him to go to a grand jury, he has to do that. So as part of this agreement, he's probably going to get a pretty good break on the possible prison sentence that he was facing, but really what the Mueller team has gotten here is everything that they wanted from Paul Manafort.
BLITZER: Yes, I read the 17-page plea agreement and it is incredibly detailed. Jeffrey Toobin, how significant is all of this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it is something that the Mueller team has wanted for months and they have worked very, very hard. They leaned on Paul Manafort like I have almost never seen.
Two cases against him, at one trial, another trial coming up, and they got what they wanted. They got a complete cooperation agreement. Obviously, the big question that we don't know the answer to is what does Paul Manafort know and about whom. He confessed to an extraordinary number of crimes.
I mean, this guy, Paul Manafort, was basically a one-man crime wave when you think about the number of different kinds much crimes he committed. Now, we need to know did he work with others besides his deputy, Rick Gates, who has already pleaded guilty and what does he know about people in the Trump campaign. That remains a central mystery in the case, but it is one that at least the Mueller team is going to answer for themselves.
BLITZER: Evan, I want to get back to you because you are getting some new information on a prominent Democrat who potentially could be charged in the not-too-distant future in connection with all of this Manafort ...
PEREZ: And I want to thank Jeffrey for the perfect setup because actually one of the people who is implicated in the documents we saw in court today, in the information that prosecutors filed today in the Manafort plea agreement is Greg Craig. He worked for a big law firm here in Washington, Skadden Arps and we're told by sources - Erica Orden and I -- that prosecutors in New York are looking to bring charges against him. This is an investigation that began with Mueller that he referred up to the prosecutors in New York. Essentially, it is centered on the question of whether or not Greg Craig should have registered under this law that says if you are representing foreign clients you're supposed to - represent foreign governments rather, you are supposed to register with the Justice Department.
PEREZ: Known as FARA - this is the same law, by the way, that Paul Manafort has gotten in trouble for. This goes back to work that Paul Manafort was doing. He hired Greg Craig and this law firm to help white wash a report that they were doing for the Ukrainian government, which was a pro-Russian-Ukrainian government at the time.
And so what now this has caused now is that Greg Craig is in trouble. As you said, he is a prominent Democrat. He was the White House counsel under President Obama, the first White House counsel under President Obama and it looks like he's in deep, deep trouble.
Skadden Arps by the way is a big, prominent law firm here in Washington. They're also facing some trouble here and we expect that there is going to be some kind of civil resolution, perhaps a deferred prosecution.
BLITZER: He was a lawyer for Bill Clinton during the impeachment process back in the '90s. Why didn't Paul Manafort accept the plea deal from the start? What was he waiting for?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO ROBERT MUELLER: It is a mystery to everybody who has been following this case because there really wasn't a solid defense theory in the prosecution, both in Virginia and DC. So either he was stubborn and just didn't want to cooperate or he held up hope that somehow a miracle would befall him and that he would prevail, or he was just afraid of Russians or hoping for a Trump pardon. We just can't figure it out.
This plea agreement, which is good for him because there's a possibility that he'll get this 5k-1 reduction for substantial cooperation, really comes a day late and a dollar short in terms of Manafort really helping himself in the way Gates did.
BLITZER: He's 69 years old, almost 70 years old and he certainly doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in jail. Jackie, I'm going to put up on the screen some of the others who have already have been found guilty in connection with these various investigations. Look at this -- Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman now pleading guilty; Rick Gates, the former deputy Trump campaign chairman pleading guilty; Michael Flynn, the President's former national security adviser, pleading guilty; George Papadopoulos, a campaign foreign policy adviser, pleading guilty; and the President's long-time fixer personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty in a separate case with the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York. All of this does not bode well for the President.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: And the thing to watch is going to be how the President reacts to what happened with Manafort today. Aside from the White House saying this has nothing to do with us and the President did nothing wrong came from his personal attorneys. He did, at one point say that Manafort was standing strong, he was a good man and his poor family . I wonder how long that lasts?
Because there are several people on that list, maybe not Papadopoulos, but Cohen, he used to have nice things to say about him until it was very clear that he was no longer there to be on team Trump and it became more about team Cohen.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey Toobin, it is fair to say all of these individuals who have decided to plead guilty, they now work for Robert Mueller.
TOOBIN: That's how it works with top prosecutors. They work from the bottom up. But here, you know, think about how prominent these people are and they're all now convicted felons.
I mean Donald Trump has more convicted felons around him than a lot of mafia dons. I mean, it is just an extraordinary number of people. You know, because it has happened gradually, we sort of haven't focused on just how many prominent people around Donald Trump are either on their way to prison or, you know, will be there shortly.
You know, the question is what do they know? Now, it is true that Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Sanders have said they don't deal directly with Donald Trump, but it is a hell of a coincidence that all of these people turn out to be criminals.
BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There's more breaking news we are following and we are going to go live to the area where Florence made landfall as we continue our coverage of the rain, the rescues, the damage and the flooding. Much more right after this.
[18:48:45] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Breaking tonight, Florence is taking a heavier toll on the Carolinas with at least five people now confirmed dead. The storm is continuing to pummel the coast.
CNN's Martin Savidge is on Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
Martin, what's the situation there?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's amazing, Wolf, but we have been in these kind of storm conditions now for well over 24 hours.
And even now, 11 hours after the hurricane made landfall right in this area, it is not only the conditions are bad, they've actually grown worse today after the storm in this area made landfall. Wrightsville Beach is actually across the bridge behind us. There's the intercoastal right here, and from what we know the winds are too severe to cross that bridge.
So, only first responders are getting in there. The initial messages from Wrightsville Beach is they're getting hammered, getting hammered like many of the areas along the coastal part of North Carolina here. They've got water coming in from both sides, the intercoastal waterway and they've also got the Atlantic Ocean which has been like a table saw eating away with beach erosion on the Atlantic side. On top of that, the rain everyone is getting as it comes from the sky, and then it is the wind fatigue.
[18:50:01] You've had wind blowing from one direction for about 12 hours, now it's a 180 from the other directions, the wind loads on the buildings, the stresses, but the fact that it's now gone and turned them 180 is another thing they're dealing with. So this storm, even though it was a category 1, now a tropical storm, continues to just beat and it's the time and length of time, how long can structures continue to handle this, how long can the ground continue to try to absorb the rain, and we're going to go through another tidal surge.
So, it's going to be another tough night, even here after this storm supposedly is moving away -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stay safe over there, Martin. We'll be in close touch with you.
Just ahead, we're going to have much more on Florence and the disaster that's unfolding through the night as the rescues continue and the waters keep rising. Also, we're going talk about new allegations that have surfaced of
sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh when the U.S. Supreme Court nominee was a teenager. Ronan Farrow of the "New Yorker" magazine, there you see him, standing by live, we'll discuss. He'll tell us what he's learning right after this.
[18:55:45] BLITZER: We're watching the breaking story out of the Carolinas where Florence isn't letting up. We're monitoring conditions there. We're going to have more live updates just ahead.
But, also right now, we have some breaking news on the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. CNN has confirmed details of a letter to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein that describes a woman's claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were both in high school back in the early 1980s.
Ronan Farrow of "The New Yorker" magazine has been digging on this story. He has a new report that's out.
Ronan, thanks very much for joining us.
As you know, Kavanaugh flatly denies the allegation. What does Kavanaugh's accuser say happened?
RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Kavanaugh's accuser raised this allegation with two politicians on the Hill, a congresswoman and also Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And this is a story, I should point out, Wolf, partly because of Feinstein's handling of this situation.
The allegation itself appears to be serious. It's from many decades ago. This woman claims that at a party during high school, Brett Kavanaugh and a classmate of his were involved in an encounter where they turned up the music in a room to conceal this woman's screams and Kavanaugh clamped a hand over her mouth and held her down and attempted to force himself on her. She did escape but she said in her communications and her letter to these individuals on the Hill that this was a traumatic incident, so much so that she had to seek psychological treatment for it.
BLITZER: I understood you spoke to Kavanaugh's classmate. "Weekly Standard" has named this individual as Mark Judge (ph). He also denies the allegation. What did he tell you?
FARROW: Mark Judge said very clearly that, you know, he had no recollection of this encounter, and anyone who knows the reporting we do at the "New Yorker" knows we don't seem comment lightly or through a single conversation. This was a source who had many opportunities to clarify or add to that.
BLITZER: You report that soon after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, this woman approached these Democratic lawmakers with her story. Why didn't this become public until now? FARROW: Well, that's a point of contention on the Hill right now,
Wolf. There are other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who say that it is not acceptable how Dianne Feinstein resisted questions about this for a pretty protracted period until finally public pressure mounted and she did read this letter eventually to other members.
Now, I think everyone involved in the conversation understands the need to respect the confidentiality of this woman. This woman has decided, ultimately, after considering and I think initially wanting to come forward that she does not want her name out there and Dianne Feinstein, according to the sources we spoke to, wanted very much to respect that.
However, there is a feeling on the committee that this is something that could have been raised during their discussions and their questioning of Kavanaugh without exposing this woman publicly. And they no longer have that opportunity.
BLITZER: They did have those closed door Q&A sessions with him as well if they wanted to, they could have done it then. Have you spoken to the --
FARROW: And it didn't come up in that context either.
BLITZER: Yes, I know. It didn't come up then either.
Have you spoken to the accuser since the story broke and do you think she might change her mind about identifying herself publicly?
FARROW: The accuser declined to comment for our story and I'll leave it at that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Could there be, potentially, based on all your reporting, other women?
FARROW: Again, I will stick very carefully to what we've reported so far, which is just that this allegation was raised with politicians and that there's now a lot of tension on the Hill about the handling of the allegation.
BLITZER: The committee, the Judiciary Committee, is supposed to vote on the confirmation next week. Then it's going to go before the full Senate. Based on all your reporting, Ronan, do you think that the Kavanaugh confirmation is still looking pretty good or some senators might change their minds?
FARROW: It's not for me to handicap any of this. I think I'll leave it to others to do punditry. All I'll say is that there are certainly people on the Judiciary Committee right now who feel there was a missed opportunity to fully interrogate this allegation.
BLITZER: Ronan Farrow of the "New Yorker" magazine, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
FARROW: Thanks, Wolf. BLITZER: Our breaking news is about to continue right now.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.