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Trump Praises U.K.'s Nigel Farage, Calls Him Asset To Britain; Search Underway For Eight Climbers Missing in Indian Himalayas; Maui Hiker Apologizes For Comments She Made After Rescue; Historic Floods Threaten Communities In Arkansas; D.C. Celebrates Batman Anniversary With Visit To Troops Overseas. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired June 2, 2019 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's 6:00 a.m. here on a Sunday morning. We are so grateful to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.


In a handwritten note posted on the front door of their home last night, the family of the man who killed 12 people in Virginia Beach Friday is offering their condolences. Our colleague Erica Hill is in Virginia Beach with the latest.

Erica, good morning to you.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys. Good morning to you. In this city, the shock perhaps beginning to wear off now as we move into the second day. You can see we saw some pictures that you just showed of the memorial which is just behind me in front of this municipal building where the shooting happened on Friday afternoon, growing a little bit overnight.

There was also a more official memorial on the other side of that building where we have seen the flowers and the mementos grow. We can tell you that the focus, very clearly for the city this morning, is to stay on the victims. The mayor saying yesterday the city will not be defined by the horror and as we keep the focus on those 12 victims, we want to let you know this morning, a little bit more about who they are.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laquita C. Brown who works in public works for over four and a half years and is a right-of-way agent and she is a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia.

Tara Welch Gallagher who works in public works for over six years and serves as an engineer and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Mary Louise Gayle who has worked in public works for over 24 years and serves as a right-of-way agent and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Alexander Mikhail Gusev who has worked for over nine years in public works and is a right-of-way agent and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Katherine A. Nixon who serves in public utilities for over 10 years as an engineer and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Richard H. Nettleton. Rich worked in the public utilities for over 28 years, serves as an engineer, served with me as a lieutenant in Germany in the 130th engineer brigade and was a resident of Norfolk.

Christopher Kelly Rapp who served in public works for just 11 months as an engineer and is a citizen of Powhatan.

Ryan Keith Cox who served in public utilities for over 12 1/2 years and is an account clerk and a resident of Virginia Beach.

Joshua Hardy who served in public utilities for four and a half years as an engineering technician and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Michelle "Missy" Langer who served in public utilities for 12 years as an administrative assistant and is a resident of Virginia Beach.

Robert "Bobby" Williams who served in public utilities for over 41 years as a special projects coordinator and is a resident of Chesapeake.

Herbert "Bert" Snelling who was a contractor trying to fill a permit and is a resident of Virginia Beach.


HILL: The 12 victims there. As you saw 11 of them public employees, just like the shooter himself. We can tell you four others were injured. They remain in the hospital this morning. Three of them in critical condition.

The city, itself, will be holding a memorial on Thursday evening. We can tell you though a number of vigils have been popping up at various churches starting yesterday morning, we saw some. A little bit Friday night, there was also talk of more on Saturday evening.

President Trump has ordered flags at half-staff through Friday. I spoke with Mayor Bobby Dyer yesterday who, once again, stressed the resiliency and resolve of this community.



MAYOR BOBBY DYER (R), VIRGINIA BEACH: Since I've been mayor for a little over six months but on council 14 years, I see out in the community the willingness of people to always help their neighbors and get along and we have a very strong military, you know, presence here. And the military is part of our DNA here, you know? And, you know, we got a city to be proud of and the other thing is too, we are a city of heroes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: The mayor stressing that he wants the city to be known for its love and compassion. He wants that to define the city going forward.

I should tell you as well he spoke with CNN last night. And the other things he said is he wants to avoid a knee-jerk reaction on the gun control debate. Saying he wants to have a substantive conversation, wants to really be able to have the conversation and wants to keep the politics out of it.

You mentioned off the top, Victor, that we are hearing from the family of the shooter. They, in fact, posted a statement on their front door and sent us a picture of it. We're going to put that up for you now.

The statement reading, "The family of DeWayne Craddock wishes to send our heartfelt condolences to the victims. We are grieving the loss of our loved one. At this time we wish to focus on the victims and the lives loss during yesterday's tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who loss (ph) their lives, and those recovering in the hospital."

For many, the question, of course, will center on why. It is a difficult question to answer. But the investigation under way. The FBI taking a significant role at this point.

CNN's Brian Todd is following the investigation pieces for us and we should get a bit of an update today, including we heard from the police chief, possibly a time line today.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Hopefully, releasing a time line later, Erica, later. A lot of questions are being asked about how long this shooting took place, how long the gun fight was. The police chief said several points that it lasted several minutes.

We have heard accounts ranging in time. So hopefully that time line will give us a clearer picture. Investigators have a lot to put together here obviously. They are working on several tracks.

We saw them here yesterday combing through the parking lot recovering casings and other things because some of the shooting did take place in the parking lot. But, you know, two of the tracks that they are working on are motive and method.

Now in the methods, we are getting some more information this morning and last night about the weapons used by the shooter, the ATF special agent in charge Ashan Benedict spoke about that and here is what he had to say.


ASHAN BENEDICT, ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Working with Virginia Beach Police Department and State Police and our partners with the FBI, we identified two weapons used in the shooting yesterday. Both weapons are .45-caliber weapons. One was purchased in 2016, one was purchased in 2018. Both pistols were purchased by the shooter and all indications are they were purchased legally.


TODD: And in addition, Ashan Benedict said that there were two weapons found in the shooter's home. They didn't give a lot of specific information about those weapons but we hope to learn more about that today.

Also we can tell you just more about the shooter himself. He is 40- year-old DeWayne Craddock. He was an employee of the public works, public utilities department here for about 15 years, employed by the city of Virginia Beach. He served in the Virginia National Guard from 1996 until 2002. He was of course killed in that shootout with police.

We are putting together also, Erica, some information we think we can hopefully report later on, motive. That is a little bit harder to get at. And the police are not saying much about that publicly.

HILL: Right.

TODD: Clearly there was a workplace issue going on. We are trying to get some more information about that. We have been talking to coworkers and others and putting together kind of mosaic and hopefully getting that information together soon. But motive is key here --

HILL: Right.

TODD: -- because he was there for 15 years and was known as a quiet person, kind of kept to himself. So what was it that spurred this on? Clearly something, an event or possibly a conflict with someone there --

HILL: Right.

TODD: -- might have spurred this on. We're going to hopefully get more information on that.

HILL: And as you point out one coworker telling CNN yesterday he actually had an exchange, was always a nice guy --

TODD: Yes.

HILL: -- he had an exchange with him in the bathroom shortly before the shooting happened.

TODD: Right.

HILL: Didn't notice anything or -- be interesting to see and it was in interesting in the press conference the police making -- the police chief making it very clear he had not been fired. He was still an employee.

TODD: That's right.

HILL: So look forward to more on that, Brian. Thank you.

We will continue to follow the latest develops from here in Virginia Beach. For now, Christi and Victor, we send it back to you.

PAUL: All right. Erica Hill, Brian Todd, thank you both so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. The White House, that revolving door is spinning again. We will tell you who is next to leave the White House before the end of this month.

PAUL: Also, London's mayor lashing out against President Trump this is ahead of the president's U.K. trip. The mayor calling him a -- quote -- "example of a growing global threat." What we can expect from this first state visit.




AARON ROUSE, VIRGINIA BEACH CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: I know what our community is made of. We will define who we are in this moment. Am (ph) I (ph) defining who we are in this moment we will come together like never before, like never before.


BLACKWELL: That was Aaron Rouse, Virginia Beach City council member. Now there has been such a big outpouring, donations and volunteers the city council has set up a link on its Web site on the ways you can help. There it is on your screen.

White House lawyer Emmet Flood will be stepping down on June 14th. President Trump tweeted the announcement adding, he has done an outstanding job.

PAUL: Now Flood represented the White House during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe taking up the job after others were not able to handle the issue to the president's satisfaction.

With us now is CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. So the president saying, listen, this is case closed. But this is a guy who -- I mean, he worked well for the president, with so many investigations that are still going on.


PAUL: Are you surprised of his exit?

SANCHEZ: Not really. Emmet Flood had been sort of eyeing the exit pretty much since the waning days of the Mueller investigation. He sort of privately told people that he wasn't interested in sticking around for the subpoena battles with House Democrats.

Had he a meeting with President Trump on Friday. They agreed that June 14th would be his last day. He's somebody who from all accounts President Trump actually liked. Part of that has to do with his aggressive tone and attacking the Mueller report suggesting that Robert Mueller acted inappropriately and that the Mueller report itself was this sophomoric law exam paper.


So he is somebody that likely will be missed personally by President Trump. Remember, he replaced Don McGahn --


SANCHEZ: -- who the president didn't exactly have the best relationship with and further there were questions about whether he would stick around for potential impeachment proceedings. It doesn't appear that things are going in that direction so it's -- I guess time for him to go.

BLACKWELL: Well, to Christi point the ongoing investigations from Congress, like those will not stop. And there is the open question of impeachment.

Is the White House staffed up for 18 months of the administration? There are questions about the strength of the White House counsel's office. Are they prepared? Are they preparing for that potential?

SANCHEZ: They have been preparing for it for some time. President Trump, obviously, made that a priority in guarding himself, bringing in people like Emmet Flood and having this large cast of attorneys ever since the Mueller investigation was launched. He feels like he's in good hands with Pat Cipollone, the current White House counsel, and to some degree he is almost entertained by the prospect of impeachment because he recognizes that his base isn't going to wane. Even Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker has acknowledged that the country isn't really there at this point.

So the president he's in a comfortable space right now. And he is sort of using it as a tool to galvanize supporters.

PAUL: Let's talk about Larry Hogan of Maryland. He is the Republican governor. He was going to challenge President Trump.


PAUL: He has decided to jump that ship supposedly.


PAUL: What changed here?

SANCHEZ: Well, I think he mentioned to "The Washington Post" in an interview that the president support among Republicans is just so strong, it's hovering over high 80s low 90 percent range in approval. And I think this is really just another indication that the Republican Party is Trump's party.

For so long there has been a discussion of whether Trump owns the soul of the Republican Party. I think there's no question at this point. In reality, he likely was not going to be a strong challenger to the president because of the support that he has. So this is kind of a victory for the Trump campaign and it really sort of eases things moving forward to show the party is united going into 2020.

BLACKWELL: It's interesting because Governor Hogan's father actually was the first Republican House judiciary member to call for impeachment of Nixon and he says in "The Washington Post" story that his father, had he still been alive, would likely be urging him to challenge the president. But there is a challenger to the president former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld.


BLACKWELL: We assume though that the president, the party, the White House they don't see him as a serious challenge.

SANCHEZ: Not really. You know that Weld already tried to sort of run for the White House in 2016 and it didn't exactly work out.


SANCHEZ: But the president is in a very comfortable position within the Republican Party right now, and I think the biggest indicator is that Justin Amash has been the only Republican to come out and speak negatively of the president in light of the Mueller report. So many other Republicans basically said, well, some of the behavior we don't like but it's not illegal and therefore we should continue moving forward.

It's unlikely that the Senate is going to pick up on impeachment proceedings if they advance in the House. So he's essentially at this point getting ready to announce his reelection coming up in an event in Orlando in June and he feels like he's in a good place and he doesn't have much to worry about when it comes to the Republican side of things.

PAUL: So as we are talking a lot about tariffs over the last week, do you get a sense, however, that there are some people who think, listen, as long as the economy is going well it's going to be smooth sailing for the president? If something happens with the economy, if it tanks, if something becomes very unstable, do some of these challengers, do they beef up a little bit?

SANCHEZ: I think, you know, the president has staked so much of his reputation on the economy and on the stock market. And you live by the sword, you die by the sword. If something is to go wrong in the economy potentially this trade war with China escalates a potential tariffs on Mexico that he has threatened, if that derails things then you could potentially see points of weakness where Democrats can go after him, or potentially Republicans may start to splinter off.

But the fact is the president has this solid base of about 30 percent, 33 percent of Americans who are with him and in many ways, he continues to garner support from other corners of the Republican Party in part because the economy is doing well and a lot of people feel that he speaks to a portion of the country that hasn't been spoken to before. And so that support, in my opinion, at this point, is not waning. BLACKWELL: All right. We're certainly going to talk more about the tariffs on Mexico, the China trade war. You're back next hour. Good to have you in Atlanta.

SANCHEZ: A pleasure. Good to see you guys. Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: We'll talk more in moment (ph).

PAUL: Thanks, Boris.

So President Trump is making his way to the U.K. tonight. This is his first official state visit. We have a live report for you from London because before he even gets there, there is some controversy.

BLACKWELL: And we are, again, hearing from the hiker who survived 17 days in Hawaii in a forest, but this time, an apology. We will hear her message to the people who helped search for her and those criticizing her for getting lost in the first place.




MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot tolerate being the only developed nation where this is routine. We now it's not the last time this is going to happen and Washington's failure to act is costing lives.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Enough is enough. How many more than of these tragedies do we have to see?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What can you say? It's a terrible tragedy and it speaks to the need what this country finally needs to do what the American people want and that is common sense gun safety legislation.


PAUL: The 2020 Democratic candidates there calling for legislative action on gun control. They called for it before. Let's put it out there. But in light of the Virginia Beach shooting, they are bringing it up again.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in fact, says every day 100 Americans are killed by gun violence. The Virginia Beach shooting is the deadliest mass shooting this year so far.

BLACKWELL: Well, this morning, London's mayor says President Trump sounds like a 20th century fascist. The president is preparing to travel to the U.K. tonight for his first official state visit. He will be hosted by the royal family and heads of state.

Now the trip comes at a critical time for Britain. The country's Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she is stepping down as a result of a failed Brexit plan. Now, the governing conserving party is battling over who will replace her.

President Trump weighed on the matter telling "The Sun" newspaper Boris Johnson would do a very good job as her placement.


CNN correspondent Phil Black joins us now with more from London.

We talked about what he said about the Duchess of Sussex. Let's talk more about what he says about those who are on the government side who are trying to replace Theresa May. What is on his schedule this week and behind all the pageantry what can we expect as it relates to policy?


Yes. There will be a lot of ceremony, you're right. As the queen and the royal family hosts President Trump and his family too. But in terms of substantive policy, there simply can't be a lot of discussion there, certainly no significant decisions made because of that point that you touched on. The current Prime Minister Theresa May is essentially a lame duck. She has already acknowledged that she must leave office in the coming weeks because of her failure to secure a deal that would allow Britain to leave the European Union and her party is in the process of trying to decide who would succeed her.

Now with these state visits there is a convention that says the host should not get involved with the domestic affairs -- or sorry -- the guest should not get involved with the domestic affairs of the host country but President Trump has already defied that convention through interviews in British newspapers ahead of his visit by giving his take on the biggest political issues in this country at the moment.

Notably he criticized Theresa May's handling of the Brexit negotiations saying essentially that that she was too soft. He has openly supported, backed one of the contenders to replace her Boris Johnson saying he would be an excellent prime minister. And he also said that one of his own personal friends Nigel Farage, a leading pro Brexit politician here but someone who is not part of the governing party. Well, he says, he should be part of future negotiation with the European Union.

All of this has the potential to be hugely embarrassing for the British government. Now there are also those who simply strongly oppose his visit here. And the leading voice there is the London mayor Sadiq Khan. No friend of Trump. They've been feuding on Twitter since 2016 but in a national newspaper column he has argued that Trump does not deserve this honor, should not get red carpet treatment because he says that his views and his policies, well, they are not compatible with British values.

And then more than that, there are other political leaders. The leaders of main opposition parties who will be deliberately boycotting the Buckingham Palace State Banquet where Trump will be the guest of honor. BLACKWELL: Yes. The mayor Sadiq Khan also invoked the president's comments after Charlottesville in which the president said they're very fine people on both sides talking about some of those neo-Nazis as well.

Phil Black there for us in London. Phil, thank you so much.

PAUL: So, White House reporter for "The Washington Post" and CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa with us now to talk about this further. Toluse, thank you for being here.

I want to ask you the same question Victor was talking about there. When you've got the Prime Minister May leaving office, obviously, the president is going into this with some sort of aim for policy. Is there any gauge of what that truly is?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It seems like politics is what's foremost on the president's mind. He's focused on this new leadership fight and the conservative party trying to figure out who's going to replace Prime Minister May, and he wants to have an ally there. He believes that Boris Johnson would be that person.

On policy it's not clear that the president is trying to get very much out of this relationship. He obviously wants the U.K. to spend more on defense. He talked a little bit about that in the interview with "The Sun" how the U.S. makes the best equipment and how the U.K. should buy more defense equipment and increases defense spending under the NATO obligations that it has.

But it does seem like the president is trying to get -- putting politics first as part of this visit and this really caused a stir here in the U.K. by deciding to weigh in on the leadership race and not sort of playing by the normal political rules where you don't interfere with another country's elections. The president is getting very much involved in meddling in that election because he wants to have an ally, he wants to have someone who supports his point of view in the leadership position here in the U.K. so that maybe down the road he can get some of those policy wins for the future.

PAUL: Yes. Toluse, in fact let's listen here to what the president said about somebody who Phil Black had mentioned about Nigel Farage.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like Nigel a lot. I think he has got a lot to offer. He has got a lot to offer. And obviously a lot of people agree with me because I saw his numbers and they were very good from a couple of days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'd be an asset in that negotiation?

TRUMP: I think he is an asset to your country.


PAUL: The Brexit numbers may be supported there. Is Nigel Farage supported in the U.K.?

OLORUNNIPA: He does have some level of support but he's not broadly popular across the country just as President Trump is not broadly popular across the U.K. There are expected massive protests when the president lands here tomorrow. They are expected to be protests during his entire visit, in part, because the president is embracing a brand of politics that is popular among a small portion of the political base on the right wing here in the U.K. but not broadly popular across the country.


That's the same thing for Nigel Farage. So they will be very close watching as to whether or not the President meets with Farage and tries to give him some more political support and a political boost when Brexit is sort of all the rave here in the U.K.

But it's not clear either that either man has broad support and we have seen from Farage being attacked on the streets and being protested, that he does not have the level of popular support that would be necessary to sort of lead a broad government, and President Trump does not have the type of popular support that would make his endorsement go very so far. So it's not clear that even Boris Johnson would want to be seen with President Trump during this visit either.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN NEW DAY: Well, Farage and President Trump do have some like mindedness in certain areas. They're both anti- establishment. Farage is a eurosceptic. He's against the E.U. membership. Are seeing -- is there a sense that we're seeing some sort of alliance forming between these two and what does that mean for the U.S. and the U.K.?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. I think you heard a little bit about that in the op-ed that was written by the Mayor of London, Mayor Khan. He is saying that there is this broad sort of global alliance of the right wing that is on the rise and President Trump is seen as the global figure head for a lot of these leaders.

Nigel Farage would definitely be among that group. He is trying to say that, you know, the European project is over and that the U.K. should mind its own business and focus on its own issues. It's sort of like an America first policy here in the U.K.

And President Trump is fully supportive of that. He was support of a Brexit back in 2016 when the voted happened and he has been sort of a source of concern in Europe because he has challenged a lot of the longstanding principles of American foreign policy, which has long stated that a unified European Union is a positive for the globe and is a positive for American interests.

President Trump seems to say an America first policy and U.K. first policy and the rise of the right wing populism in Europe is something that's positive. And he has people like Steve Bannon who is trying to lead that effort here in Europe and it's clear that President Trump is fanning the flames of that movement and trying to push more and more people to get involved in that right wing populism because he believes it worked in the United States and he believes it can also work in Europe.

PAUL: All right. Toluse Olorunnipa, always appreciate you being here. Thank you, sir.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN NEW DAY: Nearly three weeks ago, 12 climbers set off on an expedition in the Indian Himalayas but only four came back. No one has heard from the others in more than a week now. We'll tell you what crews are doing to find them.

PAUL: And rivers across ten states are at record highs this morning and they are expected to keep rising. One community, in fact, where the swollen river has wiped out hundreds of farms has a story. We'll tell you.



ROB HUFFMAN, EXECUTIVE PASTOR, BRIDGE CHURCH: Matthew 5:4 says, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. We just believe that the comfort of the Holy Spirit is over our city, it's with those families that are mourning tonight. When part of our city hurts, we all hurt. When part of our city weeps, we all weep.

PAUL: That's Pastor Rob Huffman of Bridge Church. That was during one of the vigils that was held in Virginia Beach last night. There are several churches there that have planned several services and vigils today as they remember the victims of Friday's mass shooting that left 12 people dead.

BLACKWELL: And we'll be going back to Virginia Beach. Our Erica Hill is leading our coverage this morning. And you'll hear from her in just a moment.

But right now, crews are searching for seven climbers and their guide. They've been missing more at least a week now in the Indian Himalayas.

Now, they were going up, trying to scale the second highest peak in India. Now, there were two Americans as part of this group, a part of a larger group of 12 who set off for the expedition on May 13th. They were supposed to have all come back by last Sunday, but only four returned. Several search teams are right now helping with the rescue effort with more teams on the way.

PAUL: And that hiker who was rescued after more than two weeks, she'd been lost in that Hawaiian forest, is apologizing for comments she made after she was found and for putting those who looked for her in danger.

Amanda Eller was rescued after 17 days. She was rescued last weekend. I mean, look at their relation (ph) when they found her there. She had severe sunburns. She had no shoes. She'd lost nearly 15 pounds. And she faced criticism for likening her struggle to stay alive to a spiritual journey. Now, she says getting lost wasn't intentional. She called herself irresponsible for going into the woods unprepared.


AMANDA ELLER, HIKER RESCUED FROM MAUI FOREST: I now understand how many people dropped their lives in what was important to them to help me and the dangers that they were maybe put in to help find me. And I'm relieved that there were no injuries and no serious consequences to that. But I do apologize for putting anybody in harm's way.


PAUL: She says she wished that she would have spent more time after her rescue explaining how she got lost, maybe not so much about what she got out of the experience.

BLACKWELL: The result of a new clinical trial is offering hope for younger women battling a common form of breast cancer. Listen to this. 70 percent of patients under the age of 59 who received hormone therapy along with the cancer drug, Ribociclib, were alive three and a half years after undergoing treatment. Now, that's compared to the 46 percent of women who were treated with only the hormone therapy.

Now, the study is the first to show a significant benefit in survival for premenopausal women with hormone receptive positive breast cancer. Advanced breast cancer is leading cause of death in women 20 to 59.

PAUL: Listen, there is a sound of severe weather expected this whole week across the Central U.S., which means more than rain, possibly more flooding for these already overwhelmed communities. Take a look at some of these pictures we're getting in.


We are going to show you more of this and tell you what to expect.



MAYOR BOBBY DYER (R-VA): Let me commend the officers, the people that ran into a building with an active shooter shooting .45 caliber bullets and saved many people. Without doubt, question or reservation, Virginia Beach is a city of heroes.


BLACKWELL: That was Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer. Listen, we're talking a lot this morning about not only the victims who lost their lives, those still in hospitals, but the heroic actions of the police officers who ran into the building when the shooting started. We also know one of those officers was shot by the suspect but was saved by the bulletproof vest he was wearing.

Again, our Erica Hill is there in Virginia Beach and she'll get us the very latest on what's happening there, not only with the investigation, but with the community remembering those who lost their lives on Friday. We'll get back with her in just a moment.

PAUL: Yes. There are other communities we have to talk about today as well because of the growing threat in Arkansas. Hundreds of farms are under water this morning. There are roads washed out because of river waters that have pushed past levees now.

BLACKWELL: In a town of Dardanelle, about an hour west of Little Rock, the river was nearly two feet above its record crest before the bridge.


CNN's Natasha Chen got a look at the damage from the air.


JOSEPH BLUNDELL, RESIDENT: This is family's land right here.


BLUNDELL: It's all under water.

CHEN: There's usually cattle all over Joseph Blundell's (ph) family property, but he says most of the cows have now been moved to higher ground.

BLUNDELL: Financially, this area will be devastated probably three to five years due to the lack of income and not being able to produce any crops.

CHEN: Crops like corn, soybeans, rice, which are distributed to other parts of the country. Blundell (ph) says he sprays pesticides and fertilizer for a living. So he left to find work in other states.

Right now, we're flying over a (INAUDIBLE). It's a wildlife refuge and it's close to where the levee breached. We can tell that the opening is already much bigger than it was just a day ago.

But this dam farther north is structurally sound even with the unusual violent flow of water. Senator Tom Cotton grew up in this area.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Well, it's hard to describe just how abnormal this is. If you go up the river a little bit to the Highway 7 bridge, there are entire baseball parks and even basketball goals now that are completely submerged under water.

CHEN: We saw Blackhawk helicopters dropping large sandbags, just one of the ways local, state and federal partners are trying to mitigate the damage. And however difficult the challenge is, the Mayor says they'll get through this together.

MAYOR JIMMY WITT, DARDANELLE, ARKANSAS: This is Dardanelle. This is what happens. I can literally but a Facebook message out right now, and within 30 minutes, I would have a hundred people. That's how much I believe in this town.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Dardanelle, Arkansas.


BLACKWELL: And, listen, this threat is far from over for North Dakota, Louisiana and the states in between. There's a major flooding concern right now.

PAUL: Yes. And think about that when you listen to him say three to five years of our family economy that could be washed out here. This is a big deal.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, help us understand what's going to happen this week.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So the concern is when you start adding more rain, it's stuff like this going to start to continue, which, when we say that, we mean more levee breaches. We mean more levees even breaking, like you can see here in this video. Again, you can clearly tell exactly where that broke and all that water is now flowing through where it shouldn't be.

Now, you want to know what that looks like on a river gauge? Let's take a look, because you'll actually start to notice a dip in the river gauge. This is the Arkansas River at Dardanelle. Here, you see that rise of all the water that we've been talking about with the flooding. And it hits its record crest.

Then you see that sudden jump down. You think, oh, it looks good, it's all receding, this is fantastic. Now, that is actually the levee breaking. And now, all of that water is leaving the river, lowering it but it's now pouring into the surrounding communities and towns that are there.

Here is the thing though. It's not the only one. When you look at all of these river gauges and where they're cresting, yes, a couple of them are going to be today. But for some of these folks, you're still looking at a crest date multiple days away, which means the water is only going to get higher at least until we get into the middle portion of the upcoming week.

And it's not just one or two rivers. You have about 300 of them that are either at or above their flood stage. And look at that number, almost 70 that are at major flood stage. So the last thing they need is more water. Unfortunately, that's what they're going to get.

This is the look at the next seven days. Look at the widespread yellow and orange colors. That's two, four, if not, even six inches of rain by the time we get all the way through Saturday.

Now, on the southern end of this, places like Texas, Louisiana, the other concern is this, this 60 percent chance of development down here in the Bay of Campeche, the Southern Gulf of Mexico. The concern right now, Victor and Christi, is where does this go? Hurricane hunters are going to go out today, investigate this to determine whether or not this will become tropical storm Barry.

But right now, all of the models do at least bring some rain chances into areas of Texas and Louisiana over the next couple of days.

PAUL: I don't think I've ever seen a map where the entire map had rain on it, the entire map. I've never seen that.

BLACKWELL: And with some of those communities that have gone on weeks now with this constant rain. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for bringing it to us.

PAUL: You know, they serve as real-life heroes overseas. Well, they get a visit from an iconic super hero and his Bat Mobile this week. How D.C. Comics is bringing comic con directly to troops overseas.



PAUL: So Batman is turning 80 this year. And in honor of the big anniversary, D.C. Comics is celebrating with some real-life heroes. This week, 12,000 service members overseas are getting the chance to check out the iconic Bat Mobile and meet some of the artists and writers behind the cape crusader.

So I was able to speak with super fan U.S. Army Captain Anthony Corsi and Jim Lee of D.C. Comics about what this whole experience is bringing to our troops in Kuwait.


PAUL: Because I'm sure you had a lot of opportunities trying to figure out how to celebrate Batman's 80th anniversary. A lot of people would say you did it right here, taking a fictional super hero to our real-life super heroes in the military. How did that come about?

JIM LEE, D.C. CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, PUBLISHER: This year, because we are celebrating Batman's 80th, we saw this amazing opportunity to actually go out and bring in some talent. We brought a comic book writer, Tom King, and some actors from our TV shows and really are bringing the comic con experience directly to the troops.

PAUL: So, Captain Corsi, I understand you're 34 years old, you're from Detroit, you've served in the Army for 12 years, and thank you, first of all, for your service. Talk to me about why Batman is such an iconic figure to you. I hear you're a super fan.

CAPT. ANTHONY CORSI, U.S. ARMY: He's one of those super heroes that doesn't have the super powers. He's a regular guy. You know, he uses his tools, and it's kind of like us. You know, we use our tools to take care of issues around in the areas that we're deployed to.

PAUL: Jim, hearing that from Captain Corsi, what he loves about Batman, when you hear from people, does that ever help you shape the stories you tell or the way you craft your super heroes? [06:55:06]

LEE: Well, I think, you know, when we create characters like Batman, you know, we are looking for some authenticity in their core, their center, certainly a character like that without super powers. It's all about self-determination, having the willpower and the drive to be the best you can possibly be.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you, Captain Corsi, I know that I asked you about life on base and about events like this and how they change things for you, how they get you through. But, you know, there are a lot of people that don't understand the sacrifice you make. Help us understand truly what it is like for you to be away from your family and to have this moment to kind of escape just for a little bit the work that you're doing and does it bring you back to who you feel like you really are?

CORSI: Yes. I mean, it's pretty hard. You know, I have a 3-year-old daughter at home. This is the first time I've been away from her for longer than a week, two weeks. So, you know, it's been kind of rough for me that, you know, being away from her.

PAUL: What is your hope at the end of the day for what you're bringing to the troops through bringing Batman and comic con to them?

LEE: I think sensibly we're celebrating 80 years of Batman but we're really here celebrating the troops and the service to our great nation. It's been a great experience meeting these young men and women at these different bases and seeing what their lives are like and the hardships that they face.

PAUL: Yes. Jim Lee, thank you so much for being with us. Captain Anthony Corsi, thank you so much for your service. We are so grateful that you volunteer your talents and your time to take care of this country the way that you do and to, you know, make the sacrifice of being without your family for so long. We appreciate you. We appreciate both of you. Thank you very much both.

LEE: Thank you.

CORSI: Right. Thank you.


BLACKWELL: All right. Three back-to-back democratic presidential town halls tonight on CNN starting with Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. I'll moderate that conversation at 6:00 Eastern. The Congressman will also a guest on State of the Union coming up this morning at 9:00 A.M.

Now, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan will be at 7:00 P.M. moderated by Poppy Harlow, California Congressman Eric Swalwell at 8:00 with Jim Sciutto, all live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, again, tonight starting at 6:00 Eastern.

PAUL: Lots more political news to talk about, as well as our own Erica Hill is in Virginia Beach with the very latest from there.

Your next hour New Day starts in just a moment.