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Trump Arrives in North Carolina to Tour Florence Devastation; North and South Korea Commit to "Era of No War".. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired September 19, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: In just a few moments President Trump will arrive in Cherry Point, North Carolina. He is going there, of course, to tour flood ravaged areas affected by Hurricane Florence.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll there is now 36. Let's go to Nick Watt, our colleague who's on the ground in Wilmington, North Carolina. A town that, Nick, earlier this week, as you saw firsthand was completely cut off, right? This peninsula had become like an island. It may not be cut off anymore but still, I mean, the aftermath of this -- is grim for a lot of folks. What are you seeing? And what will the president see?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Poppy. Listen, the aftermath of this hurricane is far from over. I mean, Wilmington here, the cleanup operation has begun further inland. Some of those rivers more than a dozen rivers still in major flood and still big, big problems caused by the water there. The death toll, as you say, 36. Two women killed last night on the roads.
Now, the president is landing at Cherry Point Base which is just about 60 miles from here. And he will see some damage at that base. It still isn't up to full working capacity. And New Bern, one of the towns most affected, is just close by.
Now, of course, this is going to be a politically charged visit. Remember, he caught a little bit of heat last year when he went to Texas after Hurricane Harvey and didn't meet any survivors on his first visit and also, when he was down in Puerto Rico, you know, lobbying those rolls of paper towel at people. People thought that was perhaps the wrong attitude to take so.
He knows that the eyes of the world and the country are going to be on him. And actually, the president is already anticipating some criticism in saying it will come from Democrats. I will read you a little bit from a tweet from him from yesterday. He says, you know, 100 percent, it is all great so far but at some point, the Dems will start ranting that FEMA, our military and our first responders, who are all unbelievable are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie. So, he is calling something a lie that hasn't even already been said.
Now, we don't know exactly where the president will be going in the Carolinas. He will be here in the area for about seven hours and then will return to Washington tonight. Poppy and Jim?
SCIUTTO: Nick Watt on the ground there for us. Thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thank you, Nick. Again, we just saw Air Force One landing there at Cherry Point base. We'll bring you the president if he does speak to reporters once again when he gets off the plane.
Meantime, he didn't react right before he headed to North Carolina this morning to the plea deal made between his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort and Mueller's team. More on that ahead.
[10:37:13] HARLOW: All right. The president, Air Force One there had just landed in Cherry Point, North Carolina. The president is going to tour the damage. The devastation, frankly, in the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence -- we know the death toll is now 36 people. You have places like Wilmington, North Carolina where our Nick Watt just was, were completely cut off, made an island essentially by the flood waters here. And the pain from Florence continues. We'll watch this. And we'll see if the president speaks to reporters as soon as he walks off of Air Force One there. We'll keep an eye on it.
But in the meantime, major news developing on the Korean Peninsula overnight. Jim Sciutto has a fact check for us. Because you know there was a lot of positive talk but what actually happened?
SCIUTTO: Exactly. And that will be the difference.
SCIUTTO: Words and actions. There is a difference. But there were some important words there. This morning, North and South Korea declaring, quote, "An era of no war." Leaders Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un pausing their high stakes summit overnight to announce that they have agreed on a way to achieve denuclearization. The leaders saying that they plan to end hostilities to reunite families, even host an Olympics together. Then, according to Moon, Kim Jong-un said that he would dismantle a key - one key nuclear site. But there are caveats here and they could be major caveats. Before we get to those caveats, the president did address these talks regarding North Korea in just the last hour. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea prior to becoming president it looked like we were going to war with North Korea. And now we have a lot of progress, a lot of tremendous things. But very importantly, no missile testing, no nuclear testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The president went on to say that he and Kim Jong-un are both, quote, "very calm." But let's break down what was agreed to between the North and South Korean leaders and what was not. So, let's start with what North Korea offered here. They did one and this is big, dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility. It's a huge facility. They enrich uranium there. They make nuclear bombs. They make nuclear weapons. They promise to do this if there are corresponding steps by the U.S.
They also repeated an offer to dismantle a key missile testing site. And to do so for the first time, they made that promise before but never with inspectors, present. That is, of course, important because they would have then to confirm. Did they actually destroy the site?
Here is what North Korea did not offer in these talks. They did not offer to dismantle all nuclear facilities because it is a strong suspicion of U.S. and western intelligence that Yongbyon is not their only facility for making nuclear weapons, for enriching uranium and to be truly denuclearizing. Of course, they have to dismantle all those facilities.
[10:40:00] They also have not taken this step. And this is a step that U.S. negotiators have wanted from the beginning even before that meeting between Kim and Trump, just a list of all of North Korea's nuclear weapons, it's nuclear sites because that's normally a starting point of nuclear negotiations because then you can go from there, to saying OK, have you gotten rid of this one? Have you gotten rid of that one? They haven't taken that step yet. We don't know what they have.
Here is what is unclear going forward. These are the opening - the outstanding questions. What are the corresponding steps that North Korea is demanding from the U.S.? Because it says we will take down this site Yongbyon as long as the U.S. responds, reciprocates. We don't know what they are expecting or demanding the U.S. to do. How many nuclear weapons? How many facilities do they have? Still an open question. Of course, key one if you want to destroy all of those facilities.
Finally, does it meet this test? Remember, from the beginning Secretary Pompeo and the president, they've used this phrase, permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement. Those are - that's a very high standard to meet, permanent because some of these can be reversed going forward. We don't know how the U.S., North Korea and South Korea are going to get to that point or if they will ever get to the point. That is a key question, Poppy.
HARLOW: Thank you for the fact check. Facts first. We appreciate it.
All right. Now, come back and sit next to me because we have the president there who just landed in North Carolina. He is going to tour the devastation from Hurricane Florence. Will he speak to reporters? We're going to keep an eye on it. I believe you have - Kirstjen Nielsen there. - There you have her there next to him. They are with some Marine Corps officials there and others. (CROSSTALK) There she is. So, will the president speak to reporters as he did right before he left.
SCIUTTO: Will he meet with survivors of the storm? Again, the criticism that you have from past visits to Harvey last year.
HARLOW: Yes, one we think. We'll keep close eye on this. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.
[10:46:17] HARLOW: The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- you are looking at the president in North Carolina right now. He just landed in Cherry Point. He's going to survey the damage of Hurricane Florence. He is meeting with officials. Thanking them undoubtedly for all their work. We're going to keep a very close eye on the president.
But I do want to get you to Capitol Hill right now because we just heard some very important comments from a very important person.
SCIUTTO: Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee there talking about the possibility whether the hearings go forward if Brett Kavanagh's accuser does not come before the committee. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That this person who pleaded through the "Washington Post" - and I didn't learn anything about this until I read her name in the "Washington Post" on Sunday, I believe, that -- she was willing to come and testify. And we immediately started contacting people to make the hearing possible. (CROSSTALK) So, I reached out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who are you questioning if she comes?
GRASSLEY: We have to make plans for her to come. That is what I'm concentrating on.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you still have the vote next week?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swallow who serves on both the House Judiciary Committee and Intel Committee. Congressman, thank you for taking the time. You heard Senator Grassley there holding out hope that Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will still appear on Monday, but also, certainly not making any promises. She does not --
HARLOW: All right.
SCIUTTO: Excuse me for a second because we have the president speaking here in North Carolina.
TRUMP: -- but some of the hard work is taking place right now, even though it's nice and beautiful and sunny.
I was talking to the Governor. And, Governor, I want to thank you. A really fantastic - a fantastic job. But in speaking to the Governor, some of the flooding is actually epic. Hard to believe. And we've seen all the pictures where houses are literally covered beyond the roof. You don't even know there's a house there. And, you know, one of those things. Well, the water is starting to go down now, finally.
But again, I want to thank Governor Cooper. I want to express my gratitude to your Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, very importantly. And to all of the state and local leaders who have been really incredible partners throughout this response and recovery.
There's been a lot of talent. A lot of work and a lot of talent. Without the talent, it doesn't work either. You had a combination of hard work and that great ability.
We're joined also by Secretary Nielsen, Administrator McMahon, Director Mulvaney, and FEMA Administrator Long.
[10:51:28] -- our citizens has been nothing short of incredible.
Nearly 20,000 federal and military personnel are supporting the response efforts along with Southeast Coast, including brave men and women of North Carolina and the National Guard. Now, of course, we're going to South Carolina right after this, and they have been incredible. And I know you've worked and coordinated very well also, Governor, with South Carolina. That's been a really great partnership.
Together with state and local first responders, they've assisted and rescued more than 3,000 people. So we want to thank you. And I will say, I've been watching the Coast Guard with all of the helicopters lifting people off rooftops, and it's been an incredible job you've done again. We appreciate it. Thank you very much.
More than 1.6 million meals have been delivered to North Carolina, and more than 400,000 are ready in South Carolina as soon as they're requested. So we're standing by with 400,000 meals in South Carolina.
Crews have restored power to over 1.2 million customers already in North and South Carolina. And the power is starting to go on as soon as the water goes down. They're meeting the demand incredibly well. So I want to thank the power companies and all of the federal workers, but we have to also thank some of the power companies because they've been very responsive. As soon as that water goes down, for the most part, people have power.
In moments of despair, we witness the true character of the American people. So true. Citizens all across our country rally together to rescue the stranded, to protect the innocent, and to restore hope to families who have experienced tremendous and unbearable loss.
I want to thank all of the people here today. A very special group of people. Very talented group of people. And we love working with you. It's an honor to work with you. We've done a real job, and we've got to continue to do that real job because another phase is coming in right now, and we're going to meet that phase just like we've met phase one. So, Governor, again, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And to everybody, thank you very much. And whatever we have to do at the federal level, we will be there - and you know that - 100 percent.
And, Secretary Nielsen? Please.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Yes, sir. Well, first I just wanted to start by thanking you for your leadership. I think we would all agree, we appreciate (INAUDIBLE) to respond, to direct all of our federal governments, to support our partners.
And what you see there is how that partnership works so well. We've got the private sector, we've got our congressional members, state and local officials. We certainly have all of our partners at DOD and the National Guard. So we are all working together as it should be, in unity of effort, under your leadership. And we greatly appreciate everyone's partnership.
If I could, I'd like to ask the Administrator to give us a brief update as to where we are.
BROCK LING, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: So, Mr. President, as you know, a disaster response like this takes all of us working together, not just coordinating the federal government together, which has come together very well so far. But it takes all of us from neighbor helping neighbor, all the way up to the federal government, to help people overcome what they've been through.
I've been on the ground yesterday. I'll be on the ground through tomorrow to make sure that I verify that we're doing everything that we can right now. This event is not over, the rivers are still cresting. And so we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to the life, safety, and life sustainment mission.
[10:55:04] But we're also simultaneously working on making sure that we stabilize all of the critical lifelines in regards to the infrastructure. So it's all interconnected. We got to get the roads open to be able to get the power crews into the isolated areas and the flooded areas. And we also have to put a big focus on the hazardous materials, and the health and medical capabilities, and getting them back up and running fully in every community.
One of the things that's most important is that we're already pushing forward our disaster survival assistance teams into the fields, into the shelters. We need people to register with 1-800-621-FEMA, or they can download the FEMA app, or they can go through DisasterAssistance.gov.
But more importantly, my job is made easier when a governor like Governor Cooper, Mike Sprayberry, Erik Hooks, have truly done their part to be self-sufficient at the state level. They have been very strong and capable partners. So, thank you.
Thank you, Sir.
NIELSEN: And perhaps we turn it over to the Governor. Governor, as you said so well yesterday, "Sunshine doesn't need safety." So we're right here with you in the midst of a very (inaudible) response.
GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you, Mr. President, for coming to North Carolina as our rescue and recovery continues.
Our rivers are still cresting, and there is still danger for some people. We're hoping that they can get evacuated and that out first responders continue to make sure that people are brought to safety.
Our state took a gut punch, Mr. President. And our people are still reeling. We've lost 27 lives, officially, so far. And some more are under investigation. And we mourn their loss.
We have farmers who have lost significantly their crops. A lot of businesses are down. And, of course, people have lost their homes. We have about 10,000 people right now in shelters. I talked to one the other day who had a rescue out of an apartment in downtown Wilmington. And I will say this. All the way from firefighters in Wilmington, to our state responders, our National Guard, and the United States Coast Guard, there have been some heroic first responders who have saved lives.
We are beginning the process of getting our feet under us, Mr. President. We're getting water and supplies, hot meals to people. We're beginning to clear roads, although we have a number of roads continuing to be closed, including parts of Interstate 95 and Interstate 40. And you can imagine what that does to commerce and people trying to get from one place to the next.
We have a lot of power that has been restored, but there are thousands of people who are still waiting to get their power back.
I know that this state has a great economy, great education. We are a beacon in the south. And we have weathered storms before in our state. But, Mr. President, we have never seen one like this. This one has been epic, it has been disastrous, and it has been widespread. It is a storm like no other.
We're beginning the process, with your federal help and with our local county people. Many of them are here today. And we want to thank our local responders and all of the help that they have given to deal with people right there on the ground. But we're starting to figure out how we will build back. We will do it in a smart and strong way. I've been grateful for Secretary Nielsen and for Admiral Buschman. Thank you for your help with the Coast Guard and helping to rescue people.
And, Mr. President, Brock Long, as FEMA Administrator, along with Albie Lewis, who has been here, they are helping us right now significantly. And we're grateful.
I've got a great Emergency Management Director in Mike Sprayberry and my Secretary of Public Safety, Erik Hooks. They're all onboard. Our Adjutant General of the National Guard, General Lusk, has been doing a fantastic job.
And this Title 10 that we've invoked with our joint military exercise, we are grateful to the members of the U.S. military who have stepped up and helped us through this process.
But, Mr. President, we've got a long road ahead in the days and the months, and even years ahead, to make sure we build back to where we need to be here in North Carolina. And you're here, and I'm asking you, sir, for your help, every step -