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Historic Hurricane Devastates Florida Panhandle; Turkey Says It Has Audio and Video of Journalist's Murder; U.S. Pastor Freed After being Held in Turkey for Two Years; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired October 12, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We're glad you're with us.
Finally this morning, the storm that shattered records, lives, homes, entire communities, in the Florida Panhandle is headed back out to sea. But if you're waking up to scenes like these in Mexico Beach, Florida, maybe all you can do is be glad that you are waking up. Recovering, rebuilding, maybe relocating, all seem like far-off dreams.
SCIUTTO: This morning, 11 deaths being officially attributed to hurricane and tropical storm Michael. This across four states, all the way up to Virginia, and the head of FEMA says that he expects that number to climb as rescue workers pour into areas that still, almost 48 hours later, are virtually cut off by road and telephone. Unreachable and unrecognizable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, our lives are gone here. You know, all the stores, all the restaurants, everything, there is nothing left here anymore. You know. All the homes on this side of the road, at the beach, they're all gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was bad. It was bad. Never want to go through it again, ever. Next time I'm going opposite of wherever it is. I'm leaving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can't describe the feeling. And I know I'm not the only one here that feels the same. They've lost everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. Let's go to Miguel Marquez, our colleague in who is Mexico Beach this morning.
Miguel, you're there. The sun is out and there -- I mean, it's flattened. It is flattened behind you. What are people saying to you? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Between that wind that
was like a buzzsaw and then the storm surge which may have been 12 feet or higher that just wiped everything clean, this was a neighborhood. There are a few homes still standing, but even the ones that are still on their foundations are so heavily damaged, they're probably not going to be livable again because they're soaked through and through.
This is what most of Mexico Beach looks like this morning. We have a camera up on top of the truck that we're using that you've got to get a somewhat better context of where we are, but this is everywhere throughout the town. And 98, the main drag that goes through Mexico Beach, there are giant sections of it that are completely washed away. So it's impossible for rescuers and for those trying to help out to even get through town very easily because you have to snake back through the neighborhoods to get around here.
It is a massive, massive effort. We have spoken to a lot of people who are --
HARLOW: You know what? We just lost Miguel's shot. And that goes, Jim, to the point that even though the sun is out there, that is how difficult the service is. Right? If we're losing those satellite images, it just speaks to everything that they're going through there -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, it does and it's one of the reasons we don't know the true extent of the death toll or the damage.
SCIUTTO: And we're going to keep reporters down there as we find out.
Joining me now on the telephone is the chief of emergency services at Bay County, Florida, Mark Bowen. This is just outside Panama City, Florida, where we have been reporting from this morning.
Mark Bowen, thanks for taking the time this morning. Tell us what you're dealing with right now.
MARK BOWEN, CHIEF OF EMERGENCY SERVICES, BAY COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, we are in the process of trying to restore critical services. Everything that people depend on for their daily lives. It's not just been disrupted. It's been absolutely destroyed. And so for an example, the power grid here, they're starting at the beginning. Everything has been just decimated, and so we had a mandatory evacuation that affected about 120,000 people.
From our statistics, our count looks like about 21,000 people heeded that evacuation order. That gives us an idea of how many people that are left in the impact area. Gives us an idea of how many people are going to try to return. We want people to be able to return even if it's just to see where their homes used to be or if it's to check on a home that, you know, possibly was spared from this. But we have to do that safely. And you can help us by messaging that for us. Down power lines,
trees. It's -- the character of this area will be changed forever. The amount of trees and homes just devastation. We will rebuild this, but right now people need to be patient. People need to know that food and water is coming. Cell service is coming. Sporadically, it's coming back today. It's going to be better than yesterday.
And tomorrow is going to be a much better day than today. So people need to hold on to hope. They need to know that the entire nation is descending upon us with resources and we are working as diligently as possible to get those resources out to the people that need them. It is truly been just an unbelievably historic event.
SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you this. We've been showing pictures of your community. You've talked about trees down. Boy, you can see it there, and worse. Some houses just flattened and disappeared.
[10:05:06] Are you concerned that in the midst of that wreckage, you may find more lives lost? Because as you said, a lot of people did stay behind.
BOWEN: Absolutely. That's why the most critical resource that we dialed up early on were urban search and rescue teams. You know we've good firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement here. But there's only a certain number of us. Because, you know, we're geared up for day- to-day down here. We do have a huge tourist influx, but we were coming off of that, you know, that tourist influx.
And so we dialed that up very early. In fact, we are at a point now where we've got more teams than we actually need. So that's a good thing. So we've got them out. They are saturating this county's hot bend ever since right about when the high wall back of the eye wall passed us, we realized that it wasn't going to be several more hours before we could get out. It was very quickly.
BOWEN: And so all of our first responders jumped on that immediately. And then it was just not long at all before we had the USAR teams in. And I do expect that we're going to find that kind of bad news, and you know, there's a process that we go through for that. And then we -- you know, our priority, obviously, is the living. And we're looking for people that are trapped. And then we're also dialing up as much resources as we can, food, water, things of that nature.
And we're trying to get the county to the point where it's safe for people to move about. And our retail is gone. You know, it's just devastating.
SCIUTTO: You mentioned how quickly the storm came up on you. And listen, some of this no one can control because the storm surprised folks. It grew in strength as it got closer to the coast. Are you concerned that you didn't -- that your community did not get enough fair warning of how severe this storm was that was coming?
BOWEN: You know, the truth of that can only be found out in hindsight. What I can tell you is that people had plenty of time to get out of this impact area. And again, the numbers speak for themselves. We told 120,000 people to leave. About 21,000 people left. But that decision is something that we're going to look at in hindsight, and every one of our citizens, I guarantee, is going to look at that, too.
What we've got to be focused on right now is what can we do for the people that are here. You know, the decision to stay or to go was theirs. They certainly had time to do it. We just did not see the traffic count on our roads and we began to fear the worst then. Any silver lining to that, at least we started dialing up resources earlier than we might have otherwise. But the focus is to take care of the people that are here.
BOWEN: But you know, I know you guys are trying to report as accurately as possible, and we -- you know, unfortunately, we predicted loss of life to the media because people weren't evacuating. We were doing that to try to get people to evacuate. And you know, unfortunately, you know, we now know that is the case, and all I can tell people is help is coming. If they're still, you know, capable of receiving it. And we just -- our hearts go out to the people that lost everything and can't find their loved ones.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, our hearts go out to you, Chief Bowen. We know a lot of the hardest work is just beginning now. Take care of yourself. Take care of the community there.
HARLOW: Yes, that's a great point. Much of the hardest work happens when the cameras aren't there anymore. Right, Jim? When the spotlight is no longer on the tragedy and so much of that help comes from these volunteers, from relief workers who are on the ground right now and who will be there for weeks and months on end.
Joining me now is Alvin Migues, the Texas Division Disaster coordinator for the Salvation Army.
Thank you for being with us. The work you do and your teams do is remarkable. Can you share with us what people are saying to you as they come back and they see what is left, if anything, of their homes?
ALVIN MIGUES, TEXAS DIVISION DISASTER COORDINATOR, THE SALVATION ARMY: Well, Poppy, thank you for having us on this morning. The Salvation Army has been in some of the neighborhoods now in the last couple of days, starting to see obviously the destruction that is so terrible that we're not able to get around very well. But the people that we have talked to are definitely in need of a lot of things. They need water. They need hydration, obviously. They need food.
We have 28 canteens. Our mobile kitchens that are rolling into the area this morning we will be spreading that across the Panama City area and on down into Apalachicola and Port St. Joe today to see what the need is down there.
HARLOW: You know, I think so often, I know I feel like this, we feel helpless from here. We can give money, but we don't really know where it's going.
[10:10:03] For everyone watching this morning, across the country, what do you need the most from them?
MIGUES: Well, obviously, cash donation will go a long way to get what people need here immediately. We're able to funnel that money into the local economy here to get the things that they require. Food, obviously, and water and those types of things we'll be accessing here. Folks can reach out to us add 1-800-SAL-ARMY or to www.helpsalvationarmy.org.
HARLOW: You know, I'm wondering about the structures. As we're looking at these images of what look like relatively new buildings maybe from the 1980s at oldest ripped apart, I mean, like an EF, you know, four tornado flew through them. Most of the buildings there where you are in Panama City, Florida, were they built after, you know, 1967 when the building code changed there and yet they were still devastated in this way?
MIGUES: This has been a terrible situation with all the buildings that we looked at. We have some facilities here in the area that did withstand a lot of the wind damage. We had some trees on them, but most of the buildings that we're seeing in this -- right around this area here have been damaged to some degree pretty badly.
HARLOW: Yes. Even the newer ones. Final thought, what was --
MIGUES: Even the newer ones. Yes.
HARLOW: What has struck you the most when you actually arrived and you actually saw it with your own eyes?
MIGUES: I have seen a lot of these disasters over the years. I'm remembering Hackleburg, Alabama, the F-5 tornado that went through there in 2010, and this is very reminiscent of what I saw there.
HARLOW: Wow. Thank you for being there. Your entire team, we know you're going to be there for a long time. Thanks, Alvin. And good luck.
We do have news out of Turkey. Still to come, Turkey now says they have evidence, video and audio evidence that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside of the Saudi consulate. We are there live in Istanbul next.
SCIUTTO: Plus the breaking news this morning, a Turkish court has freed Andrew Brunson two years after he was detained, accused of helping to plot a coup against President Erdogan. That American pastor now going home.
HARLOW: And turbulent times for this country. What is it like to lead? We will speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin about leadership in turbulent times.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:16:59] HARLOW: Welcome back. This morning, sources close to the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi now tell CNN Turkish authorities have audio and video evidence that he was murdered inside of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Let's go to our diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, he's outside the consulate this morning.
And Nic, you have been reporting on this from the beginning. U.S. intelligence seems to be getting much, much closer to having a conclusion here.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and so do some of the other Western intelligence agencies that we understand from our source, Turkish officials have shared this evidence with. The evidence we're told by the source who was briefed on one of the -- briefed by one of those Western intelligence officials who has seen, heard this material, said that it was a brutal type of attack on Khashoggi. It was very violent. And it ended with his death.
And indeed, the source says that the intelligence agent was shocked, shocked by what -- by this evidence that was presented by the Turkish officials. In a way that, you know, surprised even him, this intelligence agent, because obviously in their job, their line of work, they're exposed to a lot of -- you know, a lot of violence.
And this just seemed to be at an exceptional level. So this is now the main thrust, it seems, of how Turkey is trying to win support from its allies, from the United States, from France, from Germany, from the UK, by explaining and putting this evidence in front of them. So they can understand the brutality of what they have been alleging, that Saudi officials did inside the consulate here -- Poppy.
HARLOW: And then the question becomes, OK, if that's the case, if this is a conclusion of U.S. intelligence, what will the president do about it? What will the repercussions be? What will Congress do about it?
Nic, before you go, a big development, breaking news out of Turkey this morning, just happened in the last hour. The American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held there since 2016, has been freed. This has been a major sticking point between Turkey and the United States. What happened?
ROBERTSON: Huge sticking point. Well, Pastor Brunson and his wife, we're told, sat in the courtroom, they looked fairly calm as the judge delivered his verdict. A jail sentence of three years and one month, but because of the way the judge said that Pastor Brunson had deported himself during all these difficult trying legal process because of time served already in jail because of time served under house detention, he was now allowing him to go home. Free to leave, free to leave the court, free to leave his house where he's been under house arrest for many months, and free to leave the country.
He's had his security bracelet removed from his ankle. Quite when he may travel back to the United States isn't clear. But this is absolutely something. His family, his supporters, his community have been so desperate to hear for so long -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Exactly. And we heard the president just a little few minutes ago tweeting about it, prayers for the family, trying to get them home safe.
[10:20:05] Nic, thank you for all the reporting from Istanbul -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, he is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You bet. Good to be with you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So first, you heard CNN's reporting there that Turkish authorities said they have both audio and visual evidence of what they say was a murder inside the Saudi consulate there. Now you have been briefed on the intelligence that the U.S. has, without getting into classified information, I would just ask you this.
Based on what you've seen, does the evidence point to the Saudi government being responsible for Khashoggi's death?
SCHIFF: I think that's certainly the likely outcome here. We're still seeking corroboration of what the Turks have to say. We're still seeking answers in terms of precisely what happened to him. But we fear the worst, that he was killed inside that embassy. And it's hard for me to imagine that the rendition, if not more, came from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
This is not a step you take without making sure that you have, you know, this on the highest authority. So this is going to have very serious repercussions in terms of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and it should.
SCIUTTO: The administration, the Trump administration's response so far has been conservative, you might say. The president said he's going to stick with U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Treasury secretary has announced he's still going to attend a conference in Saudi next week that a number of organizations, including CNN, are pulling out of, and John Bolton, the president's National Security adviser, hedged his bets, it sounded, this morning in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, I want to play that for you and ask for your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The United States does not have information. It's not revealing. If we had information, we'd know better exactly how to handle this. We've made it clear we want to know what the facts are. We're going to continue to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Did you hear not only in Bolton's comments but the president's comments, Mnuchin's travel plans, do you hear the administration hedging here on how far it's going to go with Saudi Arabia?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. And you know, look, I think there are several things at play here. The first is the president has financial interests with the Saudis and has for a very long time. And we know the president's financial interests drive a lot of his thinking and decision-making. But they've also invested so much in the crown prince. They have backed him, I think, quite without restriction in terms of prosecuting the war in Yemen.
They have backed Saudi in the conflict with Qatar, so they put a lot of their investment in the Middle East in the House of Saud. And if that house comes falling down or they're forced to acknowledge that that has been a failure, it's a big problem for the administration. But you know, we also have to consider the fact that the president seems to have no problem maintaining a good relationship with people who are murdering others around the world.
Certainly that's true of Putin. And the president's relationship, it's true of his relationship with Kim Jong-un, who says he loves, who there's every reason to believe murdered one of his own family in an airport in another country. So this doesn't seem to be a deal- breaker, sadly, for the president of the United States.
SCIUTTO: What can Congress do without the president -- some of your Senate colleagues, including Republicans, have mentioned the Magnitsky Act.
SCHIFF: Well, I think sanctions should be applied under the Magnitsky Act if the evidence supports what we believe took place inside that embassy, but more than that, we may have to fall back on what we had to do over the president's opposition vis-a-vis Russia and Putin. And that is we may have to pass measures in Congress to exact a price. And what will really get the Saudis' attention even more than the Magnitsky Act is cutting off support for their campaign in Yemen.
That, I think, will send the strongest message. But I think we should put a pause on things as we get the full facts. And I certainly think that means the Treasury secretary doesn't go to Saudi Arabia for this conference. And that we demand answers, and that we're willing to suspend support, military support, to the Saudis until we get those answers. And if those answers are ultimately that the Saudis ordered the murder of a U.S. resident and journalist, then I think the repercussions are going to be far reaching.
SCIUTTO: And Secretary Pompeo of course recently recertified U.S. arms sales of Saudi Arabia after evidence of this attack that killed children there in Yemen.
I want to ask you about another story CNN is reporting this morning, that the president's lawyers are preparing written answers to some of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's questions, specifically relating to the question of collusion. In your view, are written answers rather than a face-to-face interview with the president sufficient? SCHIFF: Absolutely not. When you ask for written answers, you're
essentially getting the lawyer's testimony, not the president's testimony.
[10:25:05] It may be that with certain foundational questions you can dispense with them in writing, but this is no substitute for bringing a witness in, being able to ask questions real time, being able to follow up on those answers in real time. And on certain key issues like what was the president's intent when he fired James Comey, was he intending, as he said to Lester Holt, to have an impact on the Russia investigation, you can't get a written answer to questions like that and be able to rely on it in any way.
So I certainly hope this is not an indication that the special counsel does not intend to press forward with subpoenaing the president if necessary for his testimony because I think that will be necessary.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks very much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Jim.
HARLOW: OK, important interview, Jim. Thank you for that.
Turbulent times. Any president knows about them, but how they handle them is another story. My next guest literally wrote the book on it. "Leadership in Turbulent Times." Doris Kearns Goodwin is with us next.