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Donald Trump Speaks on Hurricane Michael Recovery and The Save Our Seas Act; FEMA Takes Action to Help Devastated Communities. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 11, 2018 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The horrible situation they had with Florence two weeks ago. But they're incredible people and they know how to do it. They've done it before and they'll do it again, but they know how to do it.

So we've had great reports in everything, the only - the big problem with this hurricane was the tremendous power. Unfortunately it was very fast, it went through Florida very, very quickly.

It didn't linger - didn't come back as we had in Texas where it actually came back a second time and then a third time. It went out, filled up, came back. This one went very quickly but its tremendous destruction in the areas where it - as the path that it - it shows is incredible.

That kind of destruction - we've not seen destruction like that in a long time. But it's - the rebuilding - I could actually say the rebuilding process and the survivor looking process, we don't have too much of that.

The area most affected was hopefully 100 percent evacuated, but there's always somebody that stays, and in this case they would have been in big trouble. But so far, the reports, as you know, are very good.

So I want to thank you for that and I don't know if you have any questions on the hurricane, does anybody have any questions? John (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have - do you have enough time to focus on hurricane (inaudible) today (ph) at the White House -

TRUMP: Yes, I do, I have a very busy day today. We're doing - as you know, we're going - having to do with copyright music, we're doing right now the Save Our Seas Act of 2018, which is a very important thing.

But I - and yesterday I had a tremendous rally in Pennsylvania, and we had thousands of people lined up and I just couldn't - you couldn't tell those people - and they were there for a day and a half before.

And I couldn't tell people that have been standing in line for a day and a half wanting to get into the arena that I'm not going. I went there, we had great control over what we were doing both in Air Force One at the White House and in Florida.

And I think you're seeing we're getting tremendous marks for the job that we did, and I wasn't going to disappoint thousands and thousands of people who have been standing on line for in some cases a day and a half. I wasn't going to do that. But I think - I think we've - I think we've really, really done a good job.

This is a particularly busy day because we're signing a number of bills, very different kinds of bills, so you'll be seeing me a little while later I think with a couple of the senators standing behind me right now. And you'll be seeing me and us in a little while. And we're having lunch with Jim Brown, one of the great football players of all time and a great guy, and Kanye West, he's coming - they're coming in for lunch.

And after that we're doing some additional interesting things. But we have a busy day, but I always have a busy day and the economy is doing really well and the jobs are looking - we think jobs are going to be better than ever.

We think records are broken already but we're going to continue to break the records. So let's talk about the Save Our Seas Act if we could, and again thank you all for being here. I want to thank also the members of Congress that are with us. That's Senator Dan Sullivan who's been absolutely terrific, worked with along with Sheldon Whitehouse and these two have been spearheading something that's very important and we want to thank you both.

Sheldon, thank you, Dan -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.


TRUMP: We appreciate it, really do. I know you worked very hard on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worked well together (inaudible).

TRUMP: And Mr. Sullivan, thank you very much for being here, we appreciate it very much. We have Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross who worked along with the senators and acting NOAA Administrator Admiral Time Gallaudet. You're here and thank you for being here, Tim. Thank you very much. Great job you're doing.

Every year over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. Now that includes China, that includes Japan, that includes many, many countries. This waste, trash and debris harms not only marine life, but also fisherman, coastal economies along America's vast (inaudible). The bad news is it floats toward us. I've seen pictures recently and you've some - some of you have seen them where this vast, tremendous, unthinkable amount of garbage is floating right into our coast. In particular, along the West Coast, and we're charged with removing

it, which is a very unfair situation. It comes from other countries very far away, takes six months and a year to float over, but it gets here and it's a very unfair situation.

It's also unbelievably bad for the oceans. Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans, and when you think of that number, I mean, to think 8 millions - and I would say it's probably, senators, I think it's probably more than that based on what I've seen and based on the kind of work that I've seen being done.

This dumping has happened for years and even for decades. Previous administrations did absolutely nothing to take on the foreign countries responsible. We've already notified most of them and we've notified them very strongly.

The Save Our Seas Act will help address this problem by extending the marine debris program for five additional years. We also are strengthening that up to improve waste management overseas and clean up our nation's water. We will boost the federal government's response to oceans waste by authorizing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare severe marine debris events, which happen all the time.

It's incredible, it's incredible. When you look at it, people don't realize it, but all the time we're being inundated by debris from other countries. This legislation will release funds to states for clean up and for response efforts, and we will be responding and very strongly.

The legislation also encourages the executive branch to engage with those nations responsible for dumping garbage into our oceans. My administration is doing exactly that. For example, the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement is the first U.S. trade agreement ever to include commitments by the parties to cooperate -

JOHN KING, ANCHOR, CNN: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS, I'm John King. You're listening to the president of the United States there in the Oval Office, discussing a number of issues, signing some legislation today, talking about the economy, talking principally so far also about what he believes is a very good federal and state response to the devastation of Hurricane Michael.

This is tape (ph) coming in from the White House, later on the president takes questions on other issues. We'll take you back in there when he discusses for example the current stand off with Saudi Arabia and other issues though.

But for a moment with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Eliana Johnson with Politico, Michael Shear with the New York Times, Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur, and CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst, the retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Now let's start with the hurricane and president saying obviously the Carolinas are still getting soaked two weeks after Florence. The current death toll is two, that's tragic, but if you look at the pictures from what we've seen from Hurricane Michael, in some ways it's also a miracle when you look at pictures like this.

And that number's likely to go up some in the hours and days ahead as they try to account for missing people. But the president saying we're on top of this, there was a bit of a controversy last night. The president decided to go to Erie, Pennsylvania for a political rally. And he said hey, you know, my - I knew my team was doing a good job, those people have been waiting, off we go.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean look, I think in some ways the president has learned the lesson of these disasters, which is to say that he - you need to set expectations, you need to describe the fact that the government is acting and is acting quickly.

All presidents, once they go through a couple of these natural disasters, they sort of realize what you have to do on the front end. I think the real question that all presidents also deal with, and it's not clear to me that this one has, is that there's follow through afterwards.

After you see the pictures of that kind of devastation, you know, what do you do? And obviously with Puerto Rico, he confronted the problem of, you know, not having done enough, not having, you know, followed through on the rebuilding and on - and on helping the people that have been so devastated get back to - get back to their houses and their lives. And that I think is the real test, not do you hold a couple of sort of photo ops and express your - your, you know, desire to (inaudible).

KING: To that - to that point, if you all (ph) hang in for a minute, sorry for the patience (ph), let's bring in Jeff Byard. He's FEMA's associate administrator for response and recovery. He's at FEMA headquarters right now.

Jeff, thanks for taking the time on what is obviously a very busy day. You heard the president there I hope at the top of the program talking about how - and these are heroes, electrical companies from all around the country send people in after this.

Now they have to get (inaudible). Take us - where are we right now? When you look at your list of challenges that priority one today is what?

JEFFREY BYARD, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR, FEMA: Priority one today is continuing our search and rescue efforts. The state of Florida's doing an outstanding job. We hope to have our initial search done which is a very wide area within the next 72 hours or so.

But we're -- actually earlier reports we're beating that timeline and I can't commend the work that Florida's doing, their National Guard, their first responders, we're supporting their efforts all along the coast.

Very important to also know that the president did approve the declaration, the governor's declaration for individual assistance, specifically I'm going to read them so I don't miss them. Bay Franklin, Gulf, Taylor and Wakulla counties in Florida. We encourage those survivors to go to and begin that process. And John, we also understand that there's power out, so we will have additional FEMA teams in tomorrow to start peppering those counties so that we can get the needed assistance to those survivors.

[12:10:00] But our primary efforts are going to be on search and rescue for the next couple of days. We also are looking at the Health and Medical Lifeline. We know we have some hospitals down in Bay County that we've got disaster medical assistance teams throughout Florida agency and health and human services that's assisting the efforts there in Florida.

So, the next few days definitely focused on search and rescue, meeting the immediate needs of the survivors. And then also as we're planning of a very long-term recovery efforts in Florida, Georgia and other states, in concurrence with that, getting the power back on as rapidly as we possibly can.

KING: When you talk about the search and rescue efforts, it may too soon and I'm sorry is this a premature question, but do you have any idea -- is there a number of people who were unaccounted for? Or is it just too early for that.

BYARD: I think it's too earl for that, John. As the day goes on, as the days go on, we'll have a clear picture obviously. We want to get to those survivors and unfortunately, you look at the devastation and the strength of the storm and some of the evacuation rates, they were not realized.

Those fatalities may very well be realized. But what a job search and rescue does. At all levels, it's a tough job and right now we want to get to as many survivors as we possibly can.

KING: Amen to those who are both the volunteers and the first responders at the state and national level. When you look at these pictures, especially when you look at these pictures from that areal view of Mexico Beach, you see the houses devastated.

Do you have any problems in terms of infrastructure? Any roads cut off, any other vital pathways in to try to do search and rescue, to try to get emergency supplies, anything like that?

BYARD: We have definitely our infrastructure; our road network is very heavily impacted. Most of the major arteries are open and the system that we have in place that Florida's put in place is we actually have teams that can cut their way in and then there're multiple muli-tools, kind of like a Swiss Army knife.

They have an element of law enforcement, element of search and rescue, the power cruisers coming in behind them. So, it's really a multi disciplined effort when we get in there.

We also have airframes, air assets that obviously are flying over our coast guards, doing a wonderful job. The Florida National Guard's also doing a great job. So, it's a team effort. And we want to get there by any means necessary.

KING: Jeff, again, probably unfair on this first day but I think you just set a benchmark for us. Any - what's the route number at the moment for people who are out of power? And your best guess for how long some of them are going to be waiting.

BYARD: Right now, our numbers are in between 300,000 and 400,000 in Florida alone, very similar numbers in Georgia. Those numbers also in Alabama, they're not quite as extensive obviously.

So, we've got just under a million, a million or so without power. A lot of those areas will come on pretty rapidly. But as you get down in to the coastal areas as we have massive amounts of debris, it's going to take us some time.

We have a plan in place, the state of Florida, the state of Georgia and Alabama. We've got commodities on hand. We will be dispersing the emergency food and water. But that's just a small token, that's one of the definite lessons learned as we move through hurricanes.

A majority and a large of amount of food is provided by our private nonprofits, our (inaudible), our (inaudible) communities which are already in the area. And so we support the Red Cross, we support that with both food and we have no limited factors as it comes to the amount of food.

We want to make sure that we have good distribution plans in place and we're working that as we speak.

KING: Jeff Byard, appreciate your time on this busy day at FEMA. Please keep if there's anything we can do to help spread the word, let us know and we'll keep in touch over the next several days and weeks as we go through the recovery effort again. Jeff Byard-


KING: We appreciate your time today. Thank you very much. Up next-

BYARD: Thanks.

KING: For us, our missing journalist and how his disappearance could rip a part a vital U.S. alliance.


KING: Just moments ago, new information direct form the president of the United States on the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The president said he wants to get to the bottom of what happened. And the president says you can expect a report soon.

But - and this is big, the president again expressing reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia with economic sanctions. That sets up a potential confrontation with an already outrage republican lead Congress after U.S. intercepts intelligence shows Saudi officials planning to detain Khashoggi. This from the president moments ago.


TRUMP: I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion, which is an all time record. And letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money because all they're going to do is say that's OK.

We don't have to buy from Boeing, we don't have to buy from Lockheed, we don't have to buy from Raytheon and all these great companies, we'll buy it from Russia, we'll buy it from China. So what good does that do us? There are other things we can do.

UNKNOWN MALE: But you think they should pay a price, since--

TRUMP: Yes. There'll be something that has to take place. First, I want to find out what happened. And we're looking. Again, this took lace in Turkey, and to the best if our acknowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right, or is that right?

UNKNOWN MALE: Permanent resident.

TRUMP: He's a permanent resident, OK. We don't like it, John. We don't like it and we don't like it even a little it. But as t whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternative, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable with me. OK, but we're looking for--


KING: The president again speaking in the Oval Office a short time again. Admiral Kirby, still with us. So what do you do if the president - if the president is saying I will not use what would be an obvious sanction--

KIRBY: Right.

KING: Cut off U.S. military assistance, you can do - he says there are other things. What else could he do to stop the buses of the Senators and Congressmen coming down to the White House and saying just like on Russia Mr. President, if you won't act we will push you.

[12:20:00] KIRBY: And he may not have that choice, John. He may not want to cut off arms sales, but that may not be in his hands to do, and frankly, I don't understand why he would take any tool off the table right now. And that's a valuable tool. It doesn't have to be binary, all or nothing.

But, other things he can do, the Magnitsky Act will allow him, if it proves that the allegations are true or warrant that this he could sanction individuals or Saudi corporations and organizations.

We can work through the U.N. to enact international sanctions against Saudi Arabia. He can curtail or cut back or cancel military to military cooperation. There's lots of tools in his tool box.

KING: Well, lots of tools, but let me start there. You say he could sanction individuals.

KIRBY: He could.

KING: Is there, based on your experience at the Pentagon and at the State Department, the Saudi's law have had a reprehensible human rights record. This one takes it to a new level. If the allegations on the table here are true, could this conceivably have happened without the express, not only permission, (inaudible) of the Crown Prince, given the way the Saudi system works?

KIRBY: It's such a hierarchical government. It's so dominated by the royal family. It is difficult in any way to think that this could happen, if it's true, without the Saudi royal family having knowledge of it, or in fact, agreeing to it.

KING: And so, you see the president there, he values this relationship. He thinks this is a good relationship for the United States, helpful in many ways. Confronting Iran, trying to get the Saudi's to have, even during the Obama Administration, open the door to peace with Israel, trying to make them a force of moderation, but this Crown Prince has proved he's not a force of moderation.

I find it striking, "The Washington Post" and that the CNN, the leaked intercepts of U.S. Intelligence, essentially connecting the dots and laying the blame on the Saudi's here for the, at least the apprehension, inside the Consultant in Istanbul and then they mystery where the Turkish government believes Mr. Khashoggi was murdered in that Consultant.

I took those leaks as, in our conversations with the Saudi's, they're not fessing up, they're not taking responsibility, so we're going to leak and prove, look we know you did this. You need to move.

JOHNSON: Well, the Trump Administration's embrace of Saudi Arabia begins with their view that Saudi Arabia was spurn by the Obama Administration of the Iran deal and everything goes back to the Obama Administration with Trump.

But, their embrace of MBS, the Crown Prince, may prove to be a mistake given this reprehensible crime, but the president's response is absolutely in keeping, I think, with his view of relationships with allies and foes is completely transactional and he doesn't view America's advocacy for democracy or push back against despotism as a tool in those transactions whatsoever.

KING: And so, the question is, what will happen if the president continues to be reluctant, I want you to listen here. This is Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Bob Corker, two prominent voices of the Republican Party on foreign policy, essentially, and remember the Russia sanctions debate, the president was reluctant, Congress pushed him, they push is coming.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He went into the embassy and never came out and gave his fiance his phone. Most people would come out to get their phone back to talk to their fiance, so this doesn't add up. How hard it this? Where is the guy?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: There's a tape of him going on. The Intel points directly at it now and them thinking about this in advance and I think they did it and I, unfortunately, I think that he's deceased. But, they certainly could produce him and change the narrative.


KAPUR: It looks like the Senate is going to be investigating this and if they do find evidence that the Saudi's were complicit, the president could have his hands tied. He could be required, by law, to impose some sanctions and I do wonder if this is going to be some sort of a breaking point in a 70 year relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, that has persevered through a pretty dismal human rights record, among the worst in the world.

And that's because of economic cooperation; they have a lot of coil (ph), that's military cooperation. The United States wants a base in the region, that's been especially true after 9/11, even though that was one of the bases was used to carry out the attacks, or at least where it was planned.

There was also the shared rivalry with Iran. So clearly there's a very high bar for the United States to confront Saudi Arabia. My question is, does this meet the bar, because this sounds and looks pretty awful.

KING: Right. And in this president's position, he's not the one who plants the flag and says is the United States of American, you can't do this.

His position has been, whether it's the Philippines or whether it's elsewhere in the world, that's their business, it's not our business, this is a permanent resident of the United States, this is somebody who writes for, including "The Washington Post" and American newspapers.

This is somebody, according to these intelligence intercepts, that the United States government had an indication that the Saudi's at least wanted to detain him. That's a polite word. Kidnap him, take him on a rendition, you pick your word for it.

So, in the State Department right now, what are they doing? What are they planning for an options list to bring to the president, especially since he laid out his reluctance there?

[12:25:00] KIRBY: I think, well, the first thing they're trying to do is get the foundation for an investigation that can be credible enough and transparent enough to help them make decision going forward. I don't think that they want to overreact right now.

KING: But if, forgive me for interrupting, but if the Saudi's did this, took somebody into custody, killed them in their own Consultant, smuggled the body out, what can they do? What can they do to say, sorry, and not have a significant break in the relationship? How does that work?

KIRBY: There's no way, I agree. I don't know what it's going to look like at the end, but there's no way that the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia stays the same after this, no matter which way this comes out. The question is, how deeply is it affected? And look, we actually have some leverage, which is why I don't understand why the president wants to take tools off the table.

We are -- we have achieved a measure of energy independence here in the United States, so we're not as reliant on Saudi oil. They can't hold that over us the way that they used to. We don't have any bases in Saudi Arabia, thought we would have like to have, we don't. So, they can't hold that over us. He has leverage if he's willing to use it.

JOHNSON: This is a case, in which, I think it's entirely possible that we could see the two tracks of the Trump Administration emerge where the president says one thing, but virtually every Senior National Security Officials from National Security Advisor John Fulton, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, says something else and they do something different.

KING: That's a great point, which we did see with Russia. The Administration has actually been pretty tough on Russia, in some cases from the get-go with sanctions and the president has been much softer, an excellent point there. We'll keep an eye on this one.

Up next for us here, President Trump's choice words for his handpicked chairman of the Federal Reserve after a wild day on Wall Street.