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Trump Touring Storm-Ravaged Carolinas; Trump Visits Areas Damaged by Hurricane Florence; Separate Letters Issued to Vouch for Kavanaugh and Ford. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump is getting an up-close look at the deadly devastation caused by hurricane Florence. Right now, he's in South Carolina meeting with local and federal officials and victims from the hurricane. Earlier during his tour of North Carolina, the President helped pass out plates of food to families. So many families are still hunkered down in shelters heeding the warnings that it is still not safe to go home. Trump is vowing to be there for families in need.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hurricane Florence was one ever most powerful storms ever to hit the Carolinas. One of the most powerful and devastating storms to ever hit our country. To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you. And our hearts break for you. God bless you. We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We are with you all the way. And to all those impacted by the terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help.


BALDWIN: Also, in North Carolina, entrepreneur, philanthropist, Bethenny Frankel. She is there in Fayetteville mobilizing relief supplies for hurricane victims. She's in town as part of the be strong initiative. And Bethenny, we talked the last time, you did so much for Puerto Rico. I'm curious what you learned from that and what you are able to apply to folks there in the Carolinas.

BETHENNY FRANKEL, ENTREPRENEUR AND PHILANTHROPIST: What I realized is that every single disaster, whether it is an earthquake or the volcano erupting in Guatemala or Puerto Rico or the Carolinas, they're all very, very different. And when people hear it gets downgraded to a category one, they think, oh, OK, we're fine. But it's the equivalent of a category five with the flooding. The water levels rise every single day. Dams are at risk of breaking. People can't even get anywhere near their homes. There are blockades and it's terrifying. People are homeless.

The power issue means that people get to trust kids. Kids are often forgotten in this because kids don't have toys, they have nothing tactile to do. They're just walking around and it is very, very upsetting. But I will say just like every place I've been, disasters bring people together. Being with your family gives you a pride and a hope and people pray and I mean people have such high spirits. Be strong initiative, really our mission is cash card. So, the money donated goes to cash card so people can have the dignity to buy exactly what they need.

But people all around the country donate to us. Everything from hygiene, to pet supplies, to toys, to dog food, medical supplies. Everything. And we distribute that. And all of the money that donated goes directly to people. Everything else is donated to us and we choose to distribute it. The planes, I pay for or get donated. So, it's a very lean operation. It's a very rogue and being operation. We make sure that everybody knows exactly where the money is going and it is contagious to give and we want to teach people how to help other people. I'm here at the Mana Church, they're amazing. And people seem like --

BALDWIN: You can tell me about someone. Can you tell me a specific story of someone you've met who's really touched your heart who you've been able to help?

[15:35:00] FRANKEL: Well, there was an older woman who was laying here in a bed, you know, a senior citizen. And I gave her $100 of a cash card. And she asked me like what do I have to give you. And I said nothing, you just have to give me a you hug. And people want a hug. People want to be connected to each other, people want to be near their families, they want their kids to be happy. There is an odd bonding in crisis. And I think if people see it that way, and are part of the change, then we could change the world one bad thing at a timing. Whenever something bad happens to me, I try to make it into as positive and so I think people are trying to just have faith and look at the bright side and see that there alive. See that other people have it worse than them and just weather the storm.

BALDWIN: I think that you are absolutely right that giving is contagious. Good on you and your whole team for being down there and helping out. Bethenny Frankel, thank you. I know people are wondering how they can join in the effort. You can learn about Bethenny's Be Strong initiative at

Coming up next, classmates of both Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford are taking their corners. Issuing dueling letters in support of their people at the center of this controversy. We'll talk to a local reporter who's been digging into Ford's past, she's next.


HENRY MCMASTER (R), GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: For those of you who haven't been here for a while, welcome to South Carolina. Welcome to Conway. Welcome to Horry County. And if you've been looking for rain and water, you've come to the right place.

We're delighted to have the President here and others, as well. We have not had a disaster like this one before. Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, was a tremendous blow, but it came in in McClellanville, just above Charleston, and went through in a hurry.

Hurricane Florence came in and stayed, going to North Carolina and South Carolina, and left record amounts of rain. So, our problem has not been with the wind and the rain hitting us, but with the rain that is still here. And we have not only the record amounts that have dropped on South Carolina, particularly in this third of the state, but we have the water coming down from North Carolina, because we have three watersheds, three river sheds. The Waccamaw, the Pee Dee, and the Lynches River. Those watersheds all coming to where we are.

So, the rain and the water that you see out there now is just the beginning. The worst is yet to come. We're going to have water outside this building, maybe four feet deep, maybe five feet deep, maybe something less. But we've got people that need help.

The good news is the team in South Carolina is up to the job. We have had the best cooperation and coordination and preparation that people say they have ever seen. And it goes from volunteers to private companies and private people, as well as the local authorities, the state authorities, with our congressional delegation, and everybody in between, not the least of which has been our federal partners. We've had more cooperation and coordination and communication with our federal partners than we have ever had before. This may be the worst disaster that we've had in South Carolina.

But the cooperation, and the assistance, and the encouragement, and the confidence they've given to our people, by the federal establishment and what we call "Team South Carolina," is beyond compare.

So, we are confident that we are going to build our way out of this. We've managed the hurricane. Now we've got to manage the floods. And then we'll manage the reconstruction and the rebuilding.

And one great thing that we have helping us is this man standing behind me, President Donald Trump -- one in a million. South Carolina loves you, and we're delighted you're here.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, Henry, thank you. And you're doing a fantastic job. Everybody. Everybody -- the job that you're doing, the coordination.

We just left North Carolina. They got hit really, really hard, and they are working. And all of that water is coming your way. A lot of people don't know that. They assume, and you look outside and you see this beautiful weather, but over the next couple of days, it's going to get rough in South Carolina.

So, the federal government is behind you. We have Lindsey Graham here. We have Tim. Where's Tim and Lindsey? Tim Scott. They have really -- they're with us all the way. They're with us all the way. And whatever we need from Washington, we are there.

Our team -- I don't think there's ever been a team like this. From everybody -- virtually everybody said it -- what we're doing on a federal basis, what you're doing on a local basis, and the coordination has been absolutely incredible.

So, I know you have a rough few days. It will last a long time. It could last a long time. But you're going to have a rebuilding process, and we are behind you from day one. From three days ago, and now it looks nice, but it's really the calm before the storm. Because you're going to have a lot of water. We see it; it's coming down. It just comes down.

[15:45:00] Nobody would believe a thing like this could happen. And already you've broken all records, and this is going to add four, five, six feet of water all over the state.

So, Washington is with you. Trump is with you. We're all with you 100 percent. And we'll get through it. And I think the most exciting part is going to be that rebuild, because you're going to have a lot of rebuilding. I flew over, and there's a lot of damage. And you haven't really been hit yet by comparison to what's coming.

So, I love South Carolina. I love this state. I'm very proud of Henry McMaster, the job he's done as your governor. And I can tell you that Tim, and Lindsey, and myself, and Thom -- the great congressman -- we're all in there fighting. And it's going to work out very well.

This room -- the job you do is great. And we really want to thank you. This is real emergency stuff at the highest level. And we want to thank you. So, anything I can do, you all know where to call me. And we will be there for South Carolina. We're going to be there for this disaster. Thank you all.

I'd like to introduce a man who has truly been working overtime and he has been prepared for this for actually a long time. But over the last four or five days, there's nobody that's worked harder than General Livingston. And I just want to thank you. And, General, maybe you could say a few words?

GENERAL ROBERT E. LIVINGSTON: Yes, sir. Thank you so much. You know, in South Carolina, we always talk about Team South Carolina. And everybody sitting out here is part of Team South Carolina. And I told that to the President. I said, maybe you ought to call it "Team America" now that Libby's here and O'Shaughnessy's come in, and Lengyel has come in. He says, "No, I like South Carolina." He wants to be part of our team. So that's Team South Carolina. Team South Carolina has been out there from day one with evacuations. We've been evacuating people, working search and rescue, taking care of our citizens, welfare checks, security, infrastructure hardening. And that's everybody sitting in this room doing that.

And now, we're getting ready for this flood. We're really working on that infrastructure, getting ready to move our people. And we've got backup to backup to backup. If we lose a road, which we don't think we're going to do, but if we lose a road, we've got bridges. We're going to bring the bridges in. We've got aircraft. We are ready to take care of the people of South Carolina who also happen to be part of Team South Carolina.

I do want to give a real quick shout-out to the Governor's military force, the South Carolina National Guard. While we're fighting this flood, we got men and women down on the southwest border, we've got men and women in Afghanistan, and we've got men and women in Kuwait fighting the Syrian battle, taking care of this nation while we also take care of our people.

Mr. President, thank you so much for your support of this great state.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

RANDY WEBSTER, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR: So, to kind of put things in perspective at the local level -- first off, thank you to everyone who is involved in this. And many of you in this room are victims as well. And the support that you've given this operation, plus those in the field that are supporting what's going on, not only -- you know, all the volunteers, all the staff, everybody, all the coordination between all the jurisdictions. In my opinion, this is the way it's supposed to be done. And I think we're showing that each and every day.

You're making it easy for me. And I'm hoping we're making it easier for the President and the Governor and the General. Because if you do it right, it does become easier.

We're looking at a very tough situation in Horry County and the Pee Dee. I don't want to forget that. Record levels of flooding for three out of the last four years is a tremendous challenge. And I will tell you right now, this has been one of the most challenging events I've ever been involved in.

But the team -- Team Horry, Team South Carolina, is making it -- you know, every chance we can get to make this as good as we can, to save lives as much as possible, protect property as much as possible. And to do the things we can do now so hopefully the recovery will go quicker and we'll get things up and running as soon as possible.

So, we know what we're facing. We want everybody else to understand what we may be facing. What's coming is unprecedented. But we want everybody to know this team, all of us -- state and federal partners -- are behind everybody in Horry County and the Pee Dee region.

And we will get through it. We'll make it happen. And we'll all be better for it in the end.

[15:50:00] And I'm just very proud. And, Mr. President, I just want to thank you for your commitment and help on the federal level for everything you're doing for us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Good luck, everybody. We're with you all the way, 100 percent. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

BALDWIN: President there is South Carolina. This is after he was in North Carolina. He wanted to see firsthand, you know, the flood ravaged regions. Even though it was downgraded to a category one it took a lot of people from who've we talked to really did have this false sense of security and a lot of people needed those water rescues still in dire straits. The general made a great point too, you know, a lot of those volunteers who are helping out folks in need. They are also in need. They were also impacted by the storm. So, there you have it. The President in South Carolina.

Next here on CNN, Republican Senator Susan Collins is a key vote in deciding Brett Kavanaugh fate is now saying it's unclear to Kavanaugh if his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford does not come forward and testify. We'll discuss this latest development next.


BALDWIN: More classmates, close friends and even some who don't even know Christine Blasey Ford, are coming forward in her defense. A group of friends drafted and signed a letter of support and it's also been signed by a number of her neighbors in Palo Alto. The letter mentions forming a quote, human chain of protection around her home. With me now is Julia Prodis Sulek, a reporter with the "Mercury News" who read the letter of supporters and talked to a number of key people, close friends in professor Ford's world. Two of whom she confided in the summer. What did they share with you.

JULIA PRODIS SULEK, REPORTER, THE MERCURY NEWS: Well, they told me how conflicted she was about coming forward. She was worried about having her name come forward. She was hoping she could do this anonymously. And she told them about her fears if it did come out what onslaught she would face. And I think that's clearly happening. We can imagine it's probably her worst nightmare now.

BALDWIN: No, I mean, her own home address publicized, aerial photos of her home out there. Intimidation tactics, death threats, it's all come to light. I'm wondering for those who you have talked to who know her so well, if she does elect to testify, how to they think she'll fair?

SULEK: She's a very smart woman. She has two master's degrees, a PhD. She does a lot of number crunching, analytics. She's testified apparently in front of the FDA before. She gives lectures. She has spoken at conferences. So, they certainly expect her to be poised. But they also put themselves in her position and think wow, who could really withstand that kind of grueling testimony? But they think she's a very straightforward person. And if she decided to go forward she would do well. They certainly believe her. They've told me that they have no reason not to. Just as people have about for Judge Kavanaugh's character, so many of her friends say that she's teeming with honesty.

BALDWIN: Teeming with honesty and that sense of honesty -- I've got 60 seconds with you. There was one woman who came forward earlier in the thick of when me-too was beginning and she had posted something about being raped. And you tell me what professor Ford said to her.

SULEK: Yes. This friend had posted on Facebook like everyone, I have a story too. And Professor Ford reached out to her personally and commiserated and said I'm so sorry to hear that. I've been through something similar. And it was very traumatizing to me as well. And that was in late 2017. So well before Kavanaugh's name ever came up. And what she had told her friends when she was deciding whether to come forward, she said, who can vouch for me? I mean she does all of this analysis and she knows that to come to a conclusion you need support. And I think she was saying well who have I told this? Who can vouch for me? She certainly doesn't seem want to be in a he said she said situation.

BALDWIN: Sure. Julia, you're reporting your contacts with "Mercury" paper has been impeccable. Thank you so much. I appreciate you and all that you're doing. I'm Brooke Baldwin Thanks for being with me. We're back in 60 seconds.