Return to Transcripts main page

CNN RIGHT NOW

Three Million People Expected At Fireworks Celebration In New York City; Hours Away From President Trump's Controversial Event; Earthquake Initially Reported At 6.6 Rattles Southern California, Felt In Los Angeles. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 4, 2019 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:30:00] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That would also be a stretch, when President Trump launched strikes in Syria, for example, without getting authorization from Congress. I think what we'll see is the administration start saying that these are very targeted strikes, this is not war. This is about the national interest of the United States. Again, just using jargon that would fit within his constitutional authorities.

There will be, I think, strong bipartisan pressure for the president to consult with Congress on any actual military action in Iran, but the broader question is, what kind of war is President Trump trying to get us into? Any strikes in Iran would most likely be met by significant counter response that would put U.S. assets and allies in the region in direct -- in the direct line of fire of Iranian proxies and Iranian rockets.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That's a very good point. Sam Vinograd, thank you so much.

Now this is a story that we have heard all too often. An off-duty police officer shot dead. An unarmed black teen sparking riots. The difference this time is it didn't happen in the U.S. This happened in Israel.

For days scenes like this have played out. Protesters blocking streets, torching cars and this stems from Sunday night when an off- duty police officer shot and killed a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli man. The officer felt his life was in danger, his lawyer says, police say, but he was taken into custody soon after the shooting. The Israeli Public Security minister said he would create a body within the police force to examine accusations of racial discrimination.

And on this Independence Day, we will be going live to the National Mall where Washington is hosting so many people, and even as you can see there, Trump protesters who have gathered, including with this large Trump balloon, ahead of his big speech tonight. We're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:36:35] KEILAR: American turns 243 years old today, and city officials say the largest birthday party will be held in New York. For nearly half an hour, fireworks will be launched from the barges that you see right here. And for the first time in several years from the Brooklyn Bridge itself.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is in New York.

And, Brynn, the NYPD has been working tirelessly to ensure people are safe tonight. What does it take to prepare for something like this?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, I mean, it's a huge undertaking, right? This is something that they've been planning for really since the fireworks went off last year. Serious meetings beginning early this year and then really the last week is when we have seen and heard about the major plans that are really put in place. And we got this rare look into the NYPD yesterday, their special ops units. And these are the guys that are tactical, they have the specific skills, and we went along with them on their harbor units, the ones that are patrolling all the waters around these fireworks.

And then we also went up with them in the aviation, in helicopters for those units. And we learned a lot. We learned that, you know, they have to use scuba gear just to get under those barges, make sure nothing looks suspicious before they put fireworks on there. They're going to be using drones in the air just to be able to survey the crowds that are expected here tonight, be able to even communicate with those crowds if need be.

Just incredible technology being used to really keep everyone safe. I want you to listen to the chief of that special ops division as he gives us a little bit more details on what's going to happen from their end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY WEDIN, NYPD CHIEF OF SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Coming up to the event, probably a week, we do a lot of diving, proactive diving with the scuba unit, diving among the barges, checking the barges before the fireworks are loaded onto them, checking the areas where the people or the public will be viewing the event from, all along the waterfront, checking all of them. So it's a big week for all the special operations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Yes, the harbor unit calls it, Brianna, their Super Bowl. This is a big week for them or big night for them. Of course, they're in the waters making sure all the boats that actually come to watch the fireworks are safe as well. It's going to be a good night here and very safe according to the NYPD -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And it should be spectacular, Brynn. Thank you so much for that from New York.

Meanwhile, here in Washington, the city is preparing for a major celebration spearheaded by President Trump. He has promised his Salute to America event will be the show of a lifetime. He's going to give a speech. There will be military flyovers, including an appearance from Air Force One. Tanks are on full display here in Washington, but there is a lot of controversy surrounding just how political this traditionally apolitical event will get and just how much this will end up costing taxpayers like you.

We're going to be taking all of this live. And for days now we've been covering this newsworthy controversy surrounding this event so we want to ensure that you get to see it. You can make up your own mind as to whether the president politicized the event as some military chiefs, CNN has learned, are concerned he may do, or whether he used taxpayer dollars to celebrate America in a nonpartisan way.

We have CNN National Security Reporter, Kylie Atwood who is on the National Mall for us. This is the site of President Trump's event.

And Kylie, CNN has learned that up until last night staffers were still scrambling. They have free tickets that they have been trying to give away to this show. And part of this is that they want to make sure the National Mall is full because they're concerned about having another inauguration crowd size disaster that the president would surely frown upon.

How's it looking now?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So we know that aides in the White House were rallying to get folks out to the National Mall so that President Trump, who loves large crowds, would in fact have a large crowd.

[13:40:04] But one of the interesting things is that the president has sought to elevate the role of the military here in Washington today. There will be tanks that are on display. He will be giving a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial and he'll be flanked by military leaders. But we just watched this parade go by and it was not strictly a military parade. There was no U.S. weaponry on display. In fact, it was much different than that. There were military units that were part of it, but there were also marching bands and there were members of dance troupes and there were really young Boy Scouts who were out there.

So it was really a celebration. There was even a massive cake balloon to celebrate America's birthday. So it was a different feeling now. We'll have to see how the military increases its role in this day, in this celebration, as we get closer to President Trump's address, which will be at 6:30.

And I want to pull in Darryl. He came up here from Florida. It's his first time in Washington, D.C., for the Fourth of July. How would you describe the atmosphere today in Washington?

DARRYL SINGLETON, VISITING FROM PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: I'd say it's very patriotic. Nobody seems to be one side or the other, everybody is for America.

ATWOOD: Why did you decide to make the trek up here? It's a long way.

SINGLETON: My daughter decided she wanted to come to Washington, D.C., so this is our summer vacation. And we picked the Fourth because of the celebration.

ATWOOD: That's awesome. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

And we should note that he was here in Washington for President Trump's inauguration as well so he's back. And there are folks from across the country that I've talked to who are here from Florida, California, Colorado, Ohio, you name it, there's a lot of folks here.

KEILAR: And all the way from Florida. All right. Thank you so much, Kylie Atwood. We appreciate it.

Now I want to bring in now at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia, Robert White.

Robert, this is your city. It's my city as well, but this is your city and you're part of its leadership. Do you have any concerns about the celebration tonight?

ROBERT WHITE, AT-LARGE MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: I have a lot of concerns. What President Trump has done is really taken the nation's holiday and co-opted it the way that he did with the national anthem, the American Football League, and it's not fair. There are so few things these days that pull us together. And we can't have someone put his ego in front of the nation. That's not what a patriot does.

KEILAR: So some, you know, of his supporters would say, well, what's the matter with celebrating this, with honoring the troops, with honoring the country? What do you say to that?

WHITE: Well, we honor our troops. I think all of us understand the sacrifices that our troops make. But what we've never had -- what we haven't had in recent memory in the District of Columbia or around the country is using the Fourth of July as a military show or to make it a partisan event. That just is not what it was meant to do. So people who see tanks in D.C., folks who lived here in 1968 during the riots when the National Guard was called out, they see tanks in our city a little differently.

But it's also, it's going to tear up our streets, it's going to tear up the mall, it's going to cost taxpayers and specifically D.C. resident taxpayers a significant amount of money for the nation's most expensive photo-op ever.

KEILAR: So tell us about that. Because we know there are federal expenses that are going into the millions. It's hard to exactly figure out how many millions, but we know it's a lot. What type of expenses is the city incurring?

WHITE: So we have to plan our protection, our police protection around the president's ideas, which it seems are still being fleshed out now. So we don't know the total cost to the taxpayers. Bringing tanks up to D.C. costs money. Flying jets over D.C. costs money. An extra fireworks display costs money. And all of these things require additional protection as well, not to mention handing out tickets on a partisan basis as if this were a campaign event. That is not fair to the nation, certainly is not fair to the residents of the District of Columbia who are footing and frankly who are still owed over $7 million from Trump's inauguration.

KEILAR: Tell me what part of tonight you will be participating in.

WHITE: I will be with my family away from the National Mall, as most D.C. residents are.

KEILAR: Yes.

WHITE: Watching the fireworks. And hoping that we are all really enjoying family and remembering what this holiday is about. It really is one of our rare opportunities across partisan lines, across the country to come together, celebrate our nation, the progress we've made and understanding that we have further to go.

KEILAR: Yes. We know the mall can be a little bit of a mess. So a lot of us in D.C. do tend to celebrate away from it, sir. Thank you so much, Robert White, we appreciate it.

And you can catch the July 4th celebration as well as the president's tonight on CNN. His speech is expected to begin at 6:30.

And we do have some breaking news now. A moderate earthquake has just rattled Los Angeles. I want to get to Sara Sidner, she is at our L.A. bureau.

Tell us about this. Could you feel this?

[13:45:02] SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely we could feel it. The building that we're in is about 15 floors. The entire building was shaking. You could look down on the streets and see that the light poles were moving back and forth.

This was a pretty strong one, one that we haven't felt in some time here in the Los Angeles area. I can give you a little bit of information of where this earthquake was centered. It was centered in Ridgecrest, it's about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, to give you some idea of how far away it is and the impact. But we certainly felt it here. We are located in Hollywood.

I also want to give you some sense of how big it was. They're saying the magnitude of this is a 6.6. So a moderately strong earthquake certainly felt here in Ridgeview where this is centered. There's a population of about 27,000 people but obviously it has rippled out across this area. Certainly they felt it northeast of here in, for example, Pasadena, someplace that a lot of people are familiar with.

And to give you some idea of what a 6.6 is, when the last large earthquake that hit here did quite a bit of damage was Northridge and that earthquake was a 6.7, so this is just down a notch from that. But that earthquake, a lot of people remember because they saw, for example, you know, a highway that fell in and there was quite a bit of damage in the Northridge area where that was centered.

Now this one is centered about 156 or so miles from Los Angeles. We could certainly feel it here across the Los Angeles area. We are hearing from people in other areas that are nearby, they certainly felt it. We do not have any information on whether or not there is damage, whether or not there are injuries. But it was certainly felt and we'll get more information to you as soon as we get it.

The earthquake -- the folks here who are very familiar with how to deal with these are all gathering. The experts, the seismologists. I just talked to one of them. They are opening the earthquake center which will be giving out more information as we get it. But I just wanted to say again, 6.6 earthquake in the Ridgeview area, which is about 150 miles from Los Angeles, felt all over Southern California -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And actually as you know these things sometimes change a little bit in the numbers.

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: USGS is now saying that it's 6.4.

SIDNER: OK.

KEILAR: This is -- this is still substantial. I mean 6.6, 6.4.

SIDNER: It is, yes.

KEILAR: There's been at least one aftershock. That's what USGS is saying, Sara.

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: We're going to stay with this and just keep an eye on this because, I mean, I'm a Southern Californian. I went through the Northridge quake, but I was very far away from it.

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: You're 150 miles from Ridgecrest.

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: And it's important to note that as it happens with all earthquakes, we're waiting to get in those local reports.

SIDNER: That's right.

KEILAR: Because you're feeling a significant quake. Imagine what is happening there at the epicenter 150 miles away, right?

SIDNER: Absolutely. They can feel it much more strongly. It can create damage. Even a 6.4, downgraded a bit from when they first looked at these numbers which was a 6.6. But yes, they can certainly feel it much differently. It depends on what kind of earthquake it was, whether it was a back and forth or up and down. Those can really create a lot of damage. It just depends on exactly how shallow, for example, this was. But we

certainly felt it. And I can tell you, I've been here about five years. This is the first time I've actually felt an earthquake here in Los Angeles that was strong enough to move this building, which is about 15 floors, move it significantly where we could all really feel it. We knew immediately we were having an earthquake right now.

It lasted for probably 10 to be 15 seconds here where you can feel it. And time actually is a big deal. If this goes on for, for example, a minute, it can create a lot more damage, especially at the epicenter. It didn't feel that way here but we do not yet know exactly what it felt like and how long it lasted. This is now being called a 6.4 magnitude earthquake there in the Ridgeview area 150 miles or so from here in Los Angeles.

KEILAR: OK, and Sara, stick with me, if you will, as you keep an eye on this. I want to bring in our Meteorologist, Tom Sater. He's in our weather center.

And this is in Ridgecrest, right? This is the epicenter.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Correct.

KEILAR: Tell us a little bit about this, what you're looking at with a 6.4 and what some of the different factors are that could either give more or less damage in a situation like this.

SATER: Well, to be quite honest with you, Brianna, I -- we cover earthquakes it seems like every week on our sister network, CNN International. This is the very first time I can remember in about eight years where after an earthquake, you can't get the information from the USGS.

KEILAR: Really?

SATER: Their Web site is clogged. So we have little data. We will get it, it's just been slow and they've kind of re-amped and redid their Web site. What we know is pretty much between Las Vegas and Bakersfield. This is pretty much the area of what we're finding here. Right in this region. This is very close to Death Valley National Park. Now again, as mentioned, 150 miles away. The most important thing is even though originally it was a 6.6, typically they all drop a little bit. 6.4 is still significant.

[13:50:08] Anything above a 6.0 is going to do some damage. The most important factor, though, is just how deep. And they record these in kilometers. Eight kilometers, so you're talking just a little over 10 miles deep. That's significant enough to absorb most of the shock and the energy. However, a lot of it depends on the soil in this region. Of course, in Southern California the wave action does pretty much promulgate outwards. So there's no doubt there were some effects and of course as you mentioned felt at in L.A.

What we're going to find now are aftershocks. There is a site, another Web site called EMSC, it's a European site. It much like the USGS. They reported since, what is it, about 10:50 West Coast Time? Since about five after 10:00 there have been three smaller aftershocks. And one was a 4.7. Now that's typical. If we have something that shakes a little bit stronger that's a 6.4 then that'll be the earthquake and this is considered a foreshock. But right now this is what we're going with, 6.4 away from of course the cities. Again, in between Las Vegas and Bakersfield.

But you've got to remember, in the last few weeks there has been a lot of interest in kind of swarm of smaller tremors that have been happening in California, and it's kind of sparked the interest on many seismologists and I'm wondering, hey, is something going to happen? Are we going to see a larger release of energy? Is this it, the 6.4? No one knows for sure. So we're going to try to dig in, get what we can from the USGS and they'll provide us with a couple of graphs. Their computer models that look at the population in the area. It'll show us a shake map, how many people felt light shaking, how many moderate strong, or very strong or violent.

That'll come out along with the possibility of injuries based on the population and where that shaking was taking place. So in a few more minutes we should have much more information right now. But I've never seen the USGS site get crammed like this in the last eight years. Quakes happen every week.

KEILAR: Yes.

SATER: But this one is significant so we're going to be watching this one closely obviously.

KEILAR: All right. Tom, we certainly are. I will tell you Twitter is alight with people there in California reporting what they felt.

I want to get to -- back to Sara Sidner. You have some new reporting, Sara. What can you tell us?

SIDNER: Sure. Tom is absolutely right. It's off the chain if you go on social media, always, even when it's a small one. But we do want to give you some information now that we are hearing ourselves. There was a hotel in Ridgecrest that we were able to talk to. They said they have some damage, they saw the floors rippling. So we're getting -- starting to hear some of what is happening where this earthquake was epicentered. The 6.4 is what the USGS is saying now, the magnitude of this quake, that there has been damage according to a hotel that we were able to talk to.

They talked about the building moving. They talked about the floor rippling, that they do have damage. So the first report that we're hearing now of damage there in the Ridgecrest. So we're getting in the Ridgecrest area about 150 miles from Los Angeles.

I also want to tell you this, we have just spoken with someone in Las Vegas. That's about 269 miles away from Los Angeles, they felt this earthquake all the way in Las Vegas. I mean, as you know, the further away you get from the epicenter the lesser effect that you're going to get from an earthquake. But the fact that they felt it all the way in Las Vegas, that they felt a shake, they felt a tremor is significant here. Again a 6.4 is a moderately strong earthquake. It can do damage. And

now we are hearing there is damage in Ridgecrest according to one hotelier that is there, that they certainly saw and to see the floor ripple. I mean, for people who have never experienced this it is unlike anything else. Hurricanes, we know they're coming, right? You get a forecast that a hurricane is coming. Earthquakes, not so much.

There are some technology out there that will give you sometimes 10 seconds. Japan has some great technology to give you some idea to take cover. But here in the States that is far and few between. So you just all of a sudden start feeling the ground moving underneath you or if you're in a building like we are that is elevated you start feeling the building sway.

There's a lot of concern in California in particular about building codes. There are a lot of buildings that are not yet up to code, a lot of old buildings that they have to retrofit, and so this is always a concern.

If something is not built to withstand a certain magnitude earthquake there can be extremely devastating damage. We've seen that before. Obviously there's a lot of freeways here with a lot of overpasses that can be pretty vulnerable to an earthquake. You saw that in Northridge, of course. And if you were anywhere in that area you certainly felt it.

The folks in Ridgecrest were to have -- certainly the whole population there about 27,000 people would have felt this one for sure since we felt it all the way here and they felt it all the way, 200 plus miles away in Las Vegas.

[13:55:05] But again, I just want to reiterate that we have heard now a report coming into us of damage from a hotelier there in Ridgecrest. Floors rippling, you know, stuff sort of falling down, and we will be getting some pictures I assure you. Whether it's on social media or from the local stations that are in the area, and we will be heading to that area shortly as well.

KEILAR: And --

SIDNER: But we should mention, 6.4. And now we have had an aftershock of about a 4.0 according to USGS.

KEILAR: Yes. And part of the issue, too, is the damage that will be assessed afterwards even if --

SIDNER: Sure.

KEILAR: You know, God forbid, there's not going to be damage like we saw obviously in something like Northridge. Those quakes are few and far between thank goodness.

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: But when you do have quakes of this size there are issues about the structural integrity of buildings. SIDNER: That's right.

KEILAR: Buildings, of homes, things that are going to be assessed over time and afterwards.

I was just texting with our contributor Samantha Vinograd who is Santa Barbara. She said that she felt --

SIDNER: Yes.

KEILAR: -- an earthquake just before she went live with us here just a few minutes ago. I checked that out. She's about -- she is a little over 200 miles from Ridgecrest, so this is certainly something that people are feeling as you said much farther away than you are. And this is -- so right now we're expecting we're going to get obviously someone on the ground there in Ridgecrest.

I also think when we're talking about floors rippling here, that's the question is what kind of damage is coming now. What kind of movement was this? Was this jarring, was this rolling? And those are going to be the questions that we're answering here in the short-term hopefully.

SIDNER: Absolutely. And we'll start getting those reports in shortly. The Los Angeles Police Department I should mention has put out a tweet to everyone that if you felt it, you know, let us know if there's any damage, let us know if there any problems, any injuries. So all of the apparatus us here, the rescue teams are all ready to assist in whatever way is needed. And yes, you know, look, we get earthquakes all the time as you heard from our fabulous meteorologist there. We get them all the time.

They're usually small enough where you actually don't even feel it. We have 1.1, 3.2s where you're not even sure if something happened. You feel something sometimes and you're not sure. Was that an earthquake or is that, you know, just somebody, you know, dropping something up above us.

This one was unmistakable.

KEILAR: Yes.

SIDNER : You felt the building, you felt the shake, and it didn't stop immediately. It went on for quite a few seconds so you knew and anyone who's ever, you know, sort of experienced one of these, you know that this was a fairly big one because of the length of time and because of the strength and what it did to sort of the infrastructure as well, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. All right. Sara, stick with me. I'm bringing in Tom Sater again.

SIDNER: Sure.

KEILAR: Tom, you are saying that it's been hard to get in touch with USGS. Have you been able to see any more information from their Web site or anything? Or is that still not working?

SATER: It is still down, Briana, believe it or not. Once it comes up, I mean, the shake maps are going to tell us everything. However, I'm going to give you information from the counterpart of the European company that does pretty much the same thing as the USGS. They monitor the world as well. Let me read some of your tweets from -- first of all, let me just tell you between Las Vegas and Bakersfield, pretty close to the Death Valley National Park right in the center here.

You see where Los Angeles is. I believe we might have a few graphics and I'm going to ask my producer Taylor if he can bring those up for us. Here it is. Originally 6.6. It is not unusual to see it drops somewhat. The USGS does this, they recalibrate it, they look at the energy and the waves. And again, 6.4, that's significant. Anything that's 6.0 or greater is going to cause some damage.

The depth is the most important factor right now. Eight kilometers. When we cover these earthquakes around the world that are 6.2 or greater, many of them, Indonesia, you're going to find them 400 kilometers deep. That's significant. It absorbs all the energy. Eight kilometers there's going to be some shaking going on. And that's why we're waiting on the shape map. So again, 10:33, more of these tweets from this European company, it's called EMSC.

Let me read some of these because they're saying now there's been a number of aftershocks and they're right pretty close within 20, 25 miles around Ridgecrest. Again, a 4.2 this is 13 minutes ago, that's about 32 miles northeast of Ridgecrest. They come down and of course they've got another one that was a 3.9. They're saying there's been as many as five already since the main quake of a 6.4. That is not unusual. A lot of times it takes time to release this energy, and aftershocks could go on for days. They can go on for weeks.

In some areas of the world when it's a really strong like a 6.4, 6.6, 6.8, you could have aftershocks, Brianna, continue for a month, even two months. We see this in parts of around Bali and some of the earthquakes they had about eight months ago. But again once that comes in and we'll be able to go through and look a little bit better to see if we have any more in the way of information.