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Brett Kavanaugh Accuser Speaks Out on Sexual Assault Allegation; Interview with Representative Pramila Jayapal; 15 Killed, 900 Plus Rescued as Floodwaters Rise in the Carolinas; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 16, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:01] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are shelters open but the rain keeps coming down and the rivers keep rising, and it is not clear how long the people can survive here, especially those who have been cut off by very fast-rising waters.
Back to you.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with me on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We have multiple breaking news story including this.
The confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is in question this hour as his accuser goes public, revealing new information about an alleged assault -- a sexual assault decades ago, she says. An alleged assault Kavanaugh has categorically denied.
As of right now eight Democratic senators and at least one Republican are calling for Kavanaugh's hearing to be delayed. Meanwhile, members of the Judiciary Committee are working to set up calls with both Kavanaugh and his accuser.
One lawmaker we've been closely watching is Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She's been undecided on Kavanaugh, and here's how she reacted just a short time ago when CNN asked her about these accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Well, I obviously was very surprised and it's an issue that I brought up with him last Friday and he denied as he did in his written statement. That's really all I have to say at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think? Should the committee vote coming up here this week?
COLLINS: I'm going to be talking with to my colleagues, but I really don't have anything to add at this point, as I'd said. I did ask -- I did read the letter last week and asked the judge in a telephone conversation on Friday about it, and he was very emphatic in his denial.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe the accuser?
COLLINS: I don't know enough to make a judgment at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, again, here is what has caused all of this. Just a short time ago, Kavanaugh's accuser came forward publicly. Her name Christine Blasey Ford, and she is talking exclusively to the "Washington Post." Ford has shared new details with the paper not only about the alleged attack but about key information that appears to support her claims.
"The Post" writes this about the night in question. "While his friend watched she said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit, and the clothing she wore over it. What she tried to scream, she said he put his hand over her mouth. I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."
Joining us now is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue and CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biscupic.
Ariane, first walk us through what more we know now about Kavanaugh's accuser and why she is coming forward right now.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana, as you said this woman has come forward accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her at this party that was more than 30 years ago, and according to "The Post" her name Christine Blasey Ford. She's a professor in California, and Brett Kavanaugh has vehemently denied her allegation.
In fact, on Friday he released a statement. He said, "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time," but in the "Washington Post" she said that they attended a party in suburban Maryland back in 1982. She said that Kavanaugh and a friend were, quote, "stumbling drunk," and she alleges she was corralled into a bedroom. At one point he tried to take off her clothes and he put his hand over her mouth, she said. She said like you referred to it I thought he might inadvertently kill me, he was trying to attack me and remove my clothing. She tells the "Washington Post" she was able to get up and leave at one point.
It's worth noting she only shared the details of this years later in 2012 with a therapist and with her husband. According to the "Post" the husband recalls his wife using Kavanaugh's name but the therapist's notes which have been reviewed by the "Washington Post" do not mention Kavanaugh. And it's also worth noting that the other man who's now a teen -- or who was then a teen and is now a man in the article, he says he had no memory of this act, and he said he's never seen Brett Kavanaugh act that way. He did give an interview to another media outlet -- Ana.
CABRERA: Joan, you have been studying the Supreme Court for a really long time, and we've heard a number of other people tonight mention Anita Hill. Are we witnessing an Anita Hill moment?
JOAN BISCUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Ana, there are so many similarities here, but there are also some key differences.
[20:05:03] First of all, to have a late in the game allegation. This one even more serious than what we had back in 1991. After hearings had been held for both of the nominees in a very partisan atmosphere, but what's different is that we are now in the Me Too moment. We don't even have to look much farther than the Senate Judiciary Committee to see a member who was removed -- Al Franken just last December resigned in the face of allegations related to sexual misconduct.
People have been accused of much worse and have had much more serious consequences and that is very much in the air, but the other thing that's very different here is that things are much more partisan. Republicans have banded together in what has already been a very tumultuous Kavanaugh nomination. Back in '91, a lot of people don't remember, but 11 Democrats actually voted for Clarence Thomas, and he is now on the court despite those accusations.
CABRERA: Ariane, one person we haven't heard from tonight at least is Kavanaugh. Does he plan to respond?
DE VOGUE: Well, last Friday he categorically denied it, as I said. I talked to a source close to him tonight and he said he stands firmly by his denial. He takes heart by the fact that a lot of women who knew him during those high school years, the end of last week, issued a letter supporting him, so we'll see what's going to happen next, but you look at Senator Dianne Feinstein.
She is the top Democrat on this committee. She received the letter from this woman all the way back in July. She did not bring it up right away, and Republicans are saying now, look, you got this letter in July. Why didn't you bring it up in the hearings, behind closed doors, in a closed session? They are really questioning the timing on one side.
CABRERA: Joan, how do you see this playing out? Because now we have Senator Flake who has come forward and essentially said let's hold off, let's pump the brakes. Let's hear from this accuser. Let's do some investigation. We've also heard from Senator Lindsey Graham also say he believes they need to hear from Ford immediately. Can Kavanaugh survive this?
BISCUPIC: That's a good question. As I said, Clarence Thomas survived it. It was a different atmosphere certainly and, again, you know, we want to make clear that these are -- these are accusations and the judge is denying them so, you know, that's very clear here still, and once the senators have a chance to talk to both Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh the situation might clarify itself better.
You know, back in 1991, there were so many repercussions, and it became what was known as the year of the woman, and Dianne Feinstein even got elected that year which is, you know, hard to imagine now that she's under scrutiny herself for how she handled it, but I think this is a rapidly evolving situation and much more will be clearer once key senators have a chance to talk to both of those individuals and to test what is she saying, what does she remember?
Obviously her claims are very, very serious, but, you know, he's saying, you know, at least so far, that he doesn't remember it. And he's saying also, you know, look -- look at his past record. That's what his support remembers are saying. You know, he's been a judge for 12 years, he's been subject to FBI investigations for many positions that he held, so neither of them have yet to be tested by the people who matter in the Senate.
CABRERA: All right. Joan Biscupic and Ariane De Vogue, thank you ladies both.
BISCUPIC: Thank you.
CABRERA: The story far from over and Ariane De Vogue just mentioned that letter that Kavanaugh's accuser sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein back at the end of July and we now have that letter, and I'm going to read it in its entirety. Some of the names and places have been redacted where indicated.
And it begins, "Dear Senator Feinstein, I am writing with information relevant in evaluating the current nominee to the Supreme Court. As a constituent I expect that you will maintain this as confidential until we have further opportunity to speak. Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980s. He conducted these acts with the assistance of redacted. Both were one or two years older than me and students at a local private school. The assault occurred in a suburban Maryland area home at a gathering that included me and four others.
"Kavanaugh physically pushed me on to a bed -- into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stairwell from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help. Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with redacted who periodically jump on to Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state.
[20:10:05] "With Kavanaugh's hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me. From across the room a very drunken redacted said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from go for it to stop. At one point when redacted jumped on to the bed the weight on me was substantial. The pile toppled, and the two scrapped with each other. After a few attempts to get away I was able to take this opportune time -- this opportune moment to get up and run across to a hallway bathroom. I locked the bathroom door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stairwell at which point other persons at the house were talking with them. I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home.
"I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see redacted once at the redacted where he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me. I received medical treatment regarding the assault. On July 6th I notified my local government representative to ask them how to proceed with sharing this situation. It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything. I am available to speak further should you wish to discuss. I am currently redacted and will be in redacted. In confidence, redacted."
Again, Brett Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied the allegations made in this letter, and the White House says they are still standing by their Supreme Court nominee. Now at the same time we are learning more about why Christine Blasey Ford felt she must come forward when she wrote this letter to her senator.
CNN national political reporter MJ Lee has been talking with someone familiar with her story. And she joins us now by phone.
MJ, what have you learned?
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Ana, you know, what's become really clear over the last 24 to 48 hours is that this decision to come forward and tell her story was obviously a very difficult one for Christine Ford and up until today we know that she was emphatic that her identity not be revealed, and I'm told, Ana, and this is according to a person familiar with Ford's story that at around the time that she sent that letter detailing that encounter with Kavanaugh decades ago, Ford discussed with friends how she might go public with her story.
And I'm told that over the past few months Ford has felt the kind of pressure on a personal level to share her story and has really grappled with the idea and that's partly what prompted the letter and this is according again to a source familiar with her story, and, of course, today with the "Washington Post" story we saw how Ford ultimately changed her mind and decided that if her story is going to be told, she should be the one to tell it.
CABRERA: And I'm looking at the "Washington Post" story as to why now. It says as the story snowballed after Dianne Feinstein reported having received this letter, Ford said she heard people repeating inaccuracies about her and with the visits from reporters felt her privacy being chipped away, her calculation changed.
So now you're outside the home of Ford. What is the scene like there?
LEE: Yes. So we're in Palo Alto outside of what we believe is Christine Ford's home. We didn't see anyone go in and out of the house all afternoon, but about an hour ago a man came into the house and then went out a few minutes later with a dog. We don't know who the man was, but he said that he was friends with the Fords and that he was helping to take care of their dog. He said that Ford is doing fine but that she's not interested in talking to anybody.
He said she's not planning to come back to her house either. He also said that Christine Ford was a great person but wouldn't really say anything more about her decision to speak out, her deliberations or any kind of reaction to Kavanaugh's denial of Ford's altercation.
I also just want to read a statement that we just got from our inbox from the head of the school that Christine Ford attended when this incident that she alleges happened. She attended Fulton Arms School, this is another school in Maryland close to the Georgetown prep school which is where Kavanaugh attended. Susana A. Jones is the head of the school, wrote in a recent article the "Washington Post" describes an alleged assault of one of our alumni by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that occurred in the early 1980s while she was a student at Fulton Arms. In these cases it is imperative that all voices are heard. As a school that empowers women to use their voices, we are proud of this alumni for using hers. So a very powerful statement from the head of the school that Christine Ford attended saying that she's proud of her for speaking out -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. MJ Lee, thank you for bringing us the very latest.
Right now the Senate Judiciary Committee is still scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation this coming Thursday. At this hour, though, it remains unclear if that is going to happen.
[20:15:06] Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
Congresswoman, thank you for being with us. The House obviously has no say in Supreme Court appointments. So your hands are somewhat tied but what is your message for your Senate colleagues who can do something?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I think the first thing is just to say again how courageous Christine Ford has been. This was not something she asked for. I think in many of these cases, as you know, Ana, it takes a lot for a woman to come forward and particularly in a situation like this where she knew that if she did come forward that this was going to be questioned, that her credibility would be questioned, and so my -- my thanks, deep thanks to her for coming forward with this.
I think that if the Senate Judiciary Committee goes forward with this vote this Thursday it would be an insult and an injury to every woman in this country. It would be like sticking a finger in your eye -- in the eye of every woman because we all know regardless of what political party we're part of, we all know that sexual harassment, sexual assault is real. That is what the Me Too Movement has been about, and at this point the Senate Judiciary Committee should stop these hearings.
They should get somebody who is an independent investigator come in and actually investigate this so that it's not -- you know, it's not about political partisanship and we should make sure that Christine Ford is given the respect of having a real investigation into this. This is the highest court in the land. There is absolutely no reason to move forward with Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings and confirmation vote at this point. That would be a tremendous disservice and I think, you know, as a mom I'm thinking about a 15- year-old daughter that this happened to.
We all should care about making sure that this confirmation does not go forward at this point without a full hearing. CABRERA: Kavanaugh's accuser has shared this detailed account now.
She has therapy notes that corroborate some of her claims, according to the "Washington Post." She also passed a polygraph test. Do you believe her claims?
JAYAPAL: I really -- I do, and, you know, I have been outspoken on this issue in the past, including in some difficult situations in Congress with some of my colleagues. I think that this is a very credible claim. I think it is absolutely understandable why she would not have come forward, and I think in a lot of these cases what happens is, you know, the victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment is sitting at home. She is watching proceedings go on.
She's watching somebody on TV being portrayed as this upstanding family man and finally something in her snaps and she says I can't do this anymore. I have a responsibility to say what happened to me. This has happened in situation after situation with women. It is very difficult to come forward, and it sounds like she has struggled with this.
The "Washington Post" did verify that she took a polygraph test. Why did she take a polygraph test? She took one because she knew her credibility was going to be maligned if she came forward and so this is -- I do believe her and I think that we -- that there is -- you know, the White House supposedly has a list of many candidates for this Supreme Court nomination, highest court in the land.
And remember that Brett Kavanaugh has also had other instances where he has clearly misled if not perjured himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The most notable being around the -- his role in the nomination of Judge Pryor where he said he was not involved to Senator Leahy back when this was -- when he was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, only to find out in these e-mails that that was not true.
CABRERA: Congressman -- let me bring it back, though, quickly to this issue specifically because there's been a lot of criticism for how Dianne Feinstein has handled this by Republican colleagues and supporters of Brett Kavanaugh, the fact that she had this letter at the end of July and just now is revealing that she had received it and, of course, that was even before this woman came forward publicly. She was just anonymous. Why do you think she sat on it?
JAYAPAL: Well, when you read the text of the letter, and I had read it earlier today as well, it clearly says in there, I want this to remain confidential, and I think we've all been in this situation where a woman has come to us and said this happened to me, but I am not ready to go forward with it, I am not ready to go public with it.
Clearly Christine Ford, Dr. Ford has been trying to figure out how to move forward with this in a way that allows her to feel whole and her to feel like she's done her responsibility to the country, but it was not something she was looking to bring forward.
[20:20:10] So I think it took her a while and I think Senator Feinstein had to respect for the desire of Dr. Ford to remain confidential and to not have her name be disclosed. Because, you know, you have to understand when you're coming forward, you have to be ready, and I don't know if you can be ready for something like this frankly.
JAYAPAL: In this kind of a moment, and I think Dianne Feinstein -- her hands were somewhat tied. I don't think that was totally clear until we saw the contents of the letter and until we heard from Christine Ford herself, but I think now it is entirely clear she was respecting Dr. Ford's wishes, and I think that was the right thing to do.
CABRERA: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you very much.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up, parts of the Carolinas are bracing for some of the worst destruction yet from the remnants of Florence. We are there live on the ground where the water levels are rising. We'll head there next.
[20:25:12] CABRERA: It is the never ending storm. Florence continues its slow methodical march inland drenching the Carolinas and creating a flood danger more immediate now than when it made landfall two days ago. All through last night and today, swift water rescue teams have been out in full force rescuing some 900 people statewide, including families with small children.
And just a short time ago the death toll from this storm rose to 18. Among the victims, a baby who died when a tree fell on her family's mobile home. 19,000 people are in shelters across both North and South Carolina tonight, and more than 700,000 homes and businesses are without power and the rain is still falling. The rivers are still rising. Many neighborhoods are cut off, turned into islands.
Let's get out to CNN's Polo Sandoval, he is in Lumberton, North Carolina, where the Lumber River is well above flood stage -- Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, you said yourself this storm is relentless. It continues to rain. This is just a brief break. I looked at the radar a little while ago. We're expecting yet another downpour in the next few minutes.
Tonight will be a critical night for the people of Lumberton. About 21,000 people call this part of North Carolina home. They are very familiar with the damaging potential of these storms when Hurricane Matthew swept through this region two years ago. Tonight is when the Lumber River is expected to crest. That's where all the water is coming from. Hard to make it out beyond this roadblock here but about an hour ago a state police officer came out and moved that barrier up a few feet, an indication that that water line is on the move.
People here did try to get ahead of this. Last week they built a makeshift levee at the location where they say the water from -- the floodwater caused by Hurricane Matthew basically flooded all these neighborhoods. However, that was compromised. That was breached. We were with the Coast Guard doing a survey and we witnessed that breach happen. The water was essentially seeping through the gravel and the sandbags that were placed there by volunteers, police officers. Members of the community.
However, that wasn't for nothing. That at least bought people precious time to evacuate, to head to higher ground. Already at least 900 evacuations from happened across the state. I've witnessed some right here. In fact the truck over my shoulder, that was a boat that was just loaded a little while ago, they are inside these neighborhoods right now, volunteers trying to look for people who want to get out, people who did not have a chance to evacuate.
There is, however, another levee, the main levee that is along the banks of the Lumber River. Authorities at last check say that it is still holding, it is still doing its job but they fear that if that does eventually give out, then more people could be in the path of the storms or floodwaters and even some of the city's infrastructure as well.
CABRERA: All right. Keeping those fingers crossed, saying prayers.
Polo Sandoval, thank you.
And if you want to help out those impacted by Hurricanes Florence, there are ways to donate, give blood, get in touch with charities that are responding. Just visit CNN.com/impact for more ways you can help. And we'll be right back.
ANA CABRERA, HOST CNN NEWSROOM: Continuing coverage of Florence now. Do not be fooled. This storm is not over yet. Emergency officials are warning residents in the Carolinas to expect conditions to still get worse before they get better. We're talking about flood damage that has already happened and a very good chance for rivers to still overflow. A result of the massive hurricane that struck the East Coast and has moved ever so slowly since making landfall. Let's get out to CNN's Nick Watt. He is in South Carolina, and Nick, when we saw you last, you were on the beach. Now I understand you've moved further inland. Show us the conditions there.
NICK WATT, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Ana, we've driven today maybe 100 miles inland to where the threat that this storm posed now exist. I want to show you behind me, we are in a town called Cherohala, this is normally a lazy little creek called the Huckleberry Creek. As you can see, it's now a flowing torrent. It has been risen, and I've been standing here 15 minutes and it's risen 3 or 4 inches in that time. Now, the chief of police tells me the issue they have been getting these flash floods this morning in one hour, he says they got 5.5 inches of rain and that left water standing three feet in places and towns, that has now dissipated but issue as in Lumberton as we just heard from Polo as on the Cape Fear River. The issue is river levels are rising.
This creek is flowing into the Pee Dee River which is just a few hundred yards down that way. That river normally runs -- normally flows at about 7 feet. Currently it's up at about 30 feet, and it's not expected to crest until Tuesday afternoon, somewhere at around 49 feet. And that will be just below the all-time record for the Pee Dee River which was set ray back in 1945.
Now, some people were evacuated from this area this morning during that flash flood when this creek really got going. As I say, the issue is the rivers. You know, trillions of gallons of water, Ana, fell over the Carolinas over the past few days. You know here in Cherohala, they had about 14 inches in just two days, and that is not the record for this date so far. I think it's just over 18 inches is the highest rainfall recorded.
Now this, you know, hopefully, we're not going to get too much more rain here, tomorrow, the river is still going to rise because all that rain that fell in North Carolina and South Carolina has to go in the rivers and those rivers are rising and rising and rising. Ana?
CABRERA: The water has to go somewhere. Nick Watt, thank you for that update. Stay safe. Coming up, we're continuing to follow the breaking news about -- excuse me, the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh and we're taking the pulse of suburban voters. mid-term voters and particulars who will be watching how the GOP handles this issue and many others. Stay with us.
Welcome back. As we follow the breaking news about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, we're taking the pulse of a key voting bloc ahead of the midterms, suburban women. They could be the key to which party controls congress come November, and we recently traveled to a swing district in Virginia to ask them about the issues most important to them and how they feel about the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: How would you grade this current president?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It would be an "F" for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree, F.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: F.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A minus because of his handwriting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incomplete.
CABRERA: Incomplete. Why do you say incomplete?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the jury is out on Donald Trump. He's done a lot right and a lot wrong and as a Republican, we're watching him. I mean there's a good chance he'll have a primary in two years. We don't know yet. CABRERA: You haven't made up your mind about him at this point?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has done some things really well and some things horribly, I disagree with him on immigration. I disagree with him on tariffs. Those are huge issues.
CABRERA: [Gerarda], what do you see as him doing really, really well?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that our President has delivered. His deliverables have been quite good, like the tax reform, filling out the judiciary, some of the difficult, albeit difficult relationships and international relationships is reforged. Has he delivered things that are good for our nation? And to that extent, I say he gets an A minus.
CABRERA: You disagree, Lana?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel he has done nothing but divide our country further apart, and, you know, he -- Charlottesville was huge for me. To see the President of the United States get up and say that there's good people on both sides really, really hurt. I don't want my kids looking up to that. I don't want my kids thinking that racism is acceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter was crying on the couch when she saw my friend from Sterling, Virginia have to jump out of the way of that car.
CABRERA: You knew somebody who was there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. No one in the commonwealth of Virginia should ever have to fear for their lives when they are at a rally supporting diversity.
CABRERA: Do you believe that this president has done anything that is considered an impeachable offense? Anika, I know you're an attorney. What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I don't practice that area of law. I do believe and support Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian interference and, of course, if there is anything that is uncovered by Robert Mueller in his investigation, of course, we should pursue any avenues that are out there to remove a president if the president has in fact colluded with Russia.
CABRERA: Do you believe democrats should be running on impeaching this president?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe so. Look at Bill Clinton. I mean, it was a huge distraction in the '90s, and at the end of the day nothing changed. They can impeach Donald Trump, but nothing is going to change. We should really focus on make the country a better place.
CABRERA: Do you support how the president has handled the Russia investigation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's lots of reservations with Donald Trump. No, there's -- some things he's done well and some things he's done horribly. I wish he would just stop tweeting.
CABRERA: We have seen support of the special counsel investigation on the rise over the last few polls even though the president has continued to go after Robert Mueller and his team and that investigation calling it a witch-hunt and a hoax.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been a number of indictments, there have been a number of convictions and I think any suggestion that this is a witch-hunt, that is obviously the president can speak his mind and he can tweet all day long if he would like, but the facts speak for themselves.
CABRERA: The president have called it an illegal investigation. Does anybody here believe it is an illegal investigation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't possibly answer that. I mean, that it's ongoing and finding the facts that need to found out, our neighbors and our friends are fact-based folks.
CABRERA: Do you believe this president is telling you the truth?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't speak with him so I can answer that.
CABRERA: Do you trust the president?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Office of the President is created and it's a function of the politics of it our nation and America selected Donald J. Trump to be our president, he serves in that capacity. It will be a measure on his ballot about whether America agrees with him. For my part, I like the work that he's doing as president.
CABRERA: Do you trust the president and that he's being truthful with you, Jo?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. But did I trust Obama? Did I trust George Bush, no, they are politicians at the end of the day.
CABRERA: Are you willing to overlook the facts?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, facts are facts. One plus one is two. So there is nothing like an alternative fact. An alternative fact is a lie, and our president lies regularly every single day. He has lost the ability to communicate with our allies because we are no longer trusted.
[20:45:00] CABRERA: I know your husband is in the service.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CABRERA: Lana, does that influence your perspective about this administration?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
CABRERA: In what way?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I fear he might make a grave mistake. Tweeting back and forth with Korea, it is unacceptable. There are people that are putting their lives on the line. I feel, Mr. Woodward's book is just coming out and emphasizing the fact that he's unfit to be president and congress needs to act on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: All of those women are from Virginia's 10th Congressional District. their incumbent GOP Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is currently polling behind her opponent, State Senator Jennifer Wexton. If Wexton wins, she will be the first democratic representative in that district in nearly 40 years.
Coming up, our coverage of Florence continues including the situation in Wilmington, North Carolina, a city now cut off in basically every direction because of the rising water. We'll talk to a first responder on the ground. Stay with us.
CABRERA: Turning now to Wilmington, North Carolina, a city so submerged by the floodwaters it's impossible to get in. The mayor says that for 20 to 40 miles in any direction, nothing can get into or out of the city. Every road is flooded. So that means no fuel deliveries, no emergency supplies, no FEMA crews, no power company trucks. Now Wilmington is simply cut off.
On the phone with us is Wilmington's fire chief, Buddy Martinette, Chief, it doesn't sound good. Bring us the latest. Are you still getting calls from people who need rescuing?
BUDDY MARTINETTE, WILMINGTON FIRE CHIEF: Yes, it has died down a little bit, thank you for asking. And we were very, very busy last night as the first part of the floodwaters started to rise and the waters started to -- took the phones but we were fortunate, we had prepared. We had swift water assets on the ground, we had our FEMA urban search and rescue teams here with swift water capabilities, so between our regional partners and our local first responders and our federal responders, we have been able to take care of our own, but as you mentioned, right now we're cut off from all of it.
CABRERA: And that has to be somewhat alarming. What are the biggest challenges you're facing right now? MARTINETTE: Well, right now, fuel is a big one. But just to show you
ingenuity of local first responders, and Wilmington is a port city and we have fuel terminals down on our riverfront and we were able to go down there with one of those vendors down there and actually get fuel from one of the tanks down there. So a little bit unusual, but serves a disaster event like this, and I think it just goes to show you the resiliency of preparation from the emergency management perspective.
CABRERA: It has been really remarkable. We know you're working so hard. We're looking at the long lines of people trying to get gas. And I know you said that's one of the biggest challenges you're facing. What kind of damage are you seeing so far?
MARTINETTE: It's widespread damage. I mean Wilmington is a Tree City and we suffered a lot of losses of trees initially, the problem was getting the first responders out to get to people's homes to make rescues because of the trees in the road. But we got that taken care of pretty quick. We have most of the main arteries cleared pretty quick and actually even did that prior to the floodwaters actually coming up.
So timing is everything and in this particular case, having the main arteries cleared where we could access most people or at least get close to them where we could access them was a blessing.
CABRERA: I know your team is very capable. But with a storm this large, sometimes it's a greater team effort. Do you feel you have the outside resources that you need? Do you have what you need from the federal government?
MARTINETTE: Yeah, I don't think you could look back and say we should have thought of this or should have thought of that. I have been involved in lots of disasters in my career. And I can tell you I don't know we could have been anymore prepared than we were. There were -- our local first responders were prepared and had practiced for this event and they have come through shining. Our regional partners, while they are still taking care of their selves have assisted us. The state department of emergency management was prepared, had assets predeployed for them to get in here. Now the roads are being cut off, that has provided a little bit of a snafu, but the airport was open tonight for a little while so the Coast Guard started flying in here.
And actually tomorrow, we'll be getting most of our assets in by airframe. So the government had urban search and rescue task forces. We have got three of them in North Carolina. There's a federal IST, an Incident Support Team in Kingston, and we have got Indiana Task Force One down here and they have been instrumental in helping us.
CABRERA: And Chief, what can you tell us about the plan and what the outlook looks like for the next 24 hours?
MARTINETTE: Well, I think the river is not supposed to crest until Tuesday I think is what I heard. That's going to be a challenge for us downtown. If it would ever stop raining, Florence is finally looks like it's giving us a break and pulling out of here. So that is going to be helpful.
The power is out everywhere. So we had to get the power back on. I think that's the main key. Once we get the power back on, we're going to be okay.
CABRERA: It's a long recovery process. And we know you're working as fast and as hard as you can. Chief Buddy Martinette, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Please just know we are there with you. We are sending our very best and we hope you get through this and everybody there safely.
MARTINETTE: We really appreciate everybody's thoughts and prayers.
CABRERA: Absolutely. Thank you. And to all of those in the storm zone, please stay safe. CNN is with you, we want to help you get through this. For now, I'm Ana Cabrera, that's going to do it for me.
Up next is back-to-back episodes of Anthony Bourdain. Parts Unknown.
Thanks for being with us. Good night.