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Hurricane Dorian Gains Strength, Takes Aim at Florida; Trump Rattled, Scrambling for Victories Ahead of Election; Furious Backlash after U.K. Parliament Suspended. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:17] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, August 29, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with big, breaking weather news.

Hurricane Dorian rapidly gaining strength overnight and now taking aim at Florida. It is expected to hit as a major Category 3, maybe even Category 4 hurricane over the Labor Day weekend. All of Florida should be on high alert for this hurricane this morning, which is expected to hit, then stall over land.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. All of Florida needs to be watching this. Twenty-six counties there are now under a state of emergency as the storm's path could take it anywhere from the Keys, all the way up to Jacksonville.

Now, the U.S. Virgin Islands in Puerto Rico, they were spared the brunt of the storm. You can see some of the images from when it was hitting overnight. The Virgin Islands did get strong winds and rain, but as far as we can tell, so far, no significant or overwhelming damage like we saw from hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has been going through the new data coming in from the Hurricane Center. This thing is getting stronger and headed right at Florida.

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Five a.m. now brings it as 125 mile-per-hour storm along the Florida coast. Now, there are still a couple of models, and I'll show them to you, that will turn it farther to the north up toward Jacksonville and farther north than that.

But the major number of models that we believe bringing it right north of Miami, north of Fort Lauderdale, south of the space coast as 125 mile or more hurricane. So that's Category 3, only five miles from a Category 4 storm. Those are the updates from, really, the overnight hours.

Nothing has truly been updated, I think, since then. Hurricane hunter in it. It's an 85 mile-per-hour storm. That's what we expected, moving away from San Juan. We're going to lose radar presentation quite quickly, because the only radar out there is from Puerto Rico, and it's getting so far away, you cannot really see the eye anymore. So we're going to rely on satellites for a while. There's no real radars there in the Bahamas we can use. So we'll watch the satellite. We'll watch where it goes from here.

The big story is the model data, bringing it in at 125 or some a little bit higher than that, 130 mile-per-hour storm in the central part of Florida. Does it go left, does it go right? Yes, certainly it can, and it's still in that cone, guys.

So we're going to watch this thing. It is a lot of time in some very warm water. Not much sheer, not much dry air, and a lot of time to gain strength.

BERMAN: Chad, what happens when it gets over Florida?

MYERS: A couple of different things. Many of the storms are trying to slow the storm down before it gets to the coast, which means the outer bands would lash Florida for a very long time. Another model actually stops it very close to Kissimmee, south of Orlando, and then turns it to the north into Georgia.

We're still talking 96 to 120 hours out, and the models have a hard time with that. But typical of landfalling hurricanes that we've had over the past couple of years, slowing down or possibly stalling. Which is exactly what we would not want from a hurricane that's putting out inches and inches of water an hour.

CAMEROTA: All right, Chad. Be on standby for us --

MYERS: I will.

CAMEROTA: -- as we know you will be all morning, because we'll check back as the models continue to change.

So Florida's entire East Coast is on alert for this monster hurricane that is headed their way. Residents are already stocking up, and emergency managers hope that all people there take this threat seriously.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live on the ground for us in Daytona Beach. What's the situation there, Nick?


This weekend would usually be one of the busiest weekends for Florida's beaches. But instead, the state is bracing for the potential of a Category 3 hurricane, preparing for the worst.


VALENCIA (voice-over): A rush to prepare for the worst in Florida. Under a state of emergency as Hurricane Dorian takes aim at the mainland U.S. after sparing Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of significant damage. All across the state, gridlock at the pump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just getting prepared before the storm comes. VALENCIA: Residents stocking up, stripping grocery store shelves

nearly bare, with bottled water harder and harder to find. They're purchasing plywood to board up windows and filling up thousands of sandbags, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better safe than sorry.

VALENCIA: Officials in coastal states urging people to be prepared.

MAYOR LENNY CURRY (R-JACKSONVILLE, FL.): The impacts are unpredictable in what with will it be. Will it be the wind, will it be the flooding, will it be downed power lines? And just prepared and be ready.

In their preparedness to be ready, we're not exactly sure where this storm is going to go, but you need to start preparing now if you're in the coastal communities for sure.

VALENCIA: The Caribbean islands feeling Dorian's strength with wind gusts as high as 85 miles per hour. Tree branches and debris scattered across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Heavy rains filling the streets with water, ripping off some of the blue tarps still covering buildings in the time since Hurricane Maria hit two years ago.

DARYL JASCHEN, DIRECTOR, DSVI TERRITORIAL EMERGENCY MANAGER: The damage right now are primarily to the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. The good news is we have crews still remaining here from Irma and Maria that are doing restoration.


VALENCIA: Dorian could be the fifth hurricane to impact the state of Florida in the last four years. Some residents here, John, not taking any chances.

BERMAN: Nor should they, Nick. And they should use these days to get ready for what appears to be a direct impact somewhere along that coast. Our thanks to Nick Valencia for that.

Hurricane hunters have been up flying several missions a day to get data for the forecasts for the meteorologists. We have some images that were captured above a NOAA plane flying through Dorian's eye yesterday. This is that footage.

Joining us now on the phone is NOAA flight director Paul Flaherty. Paul, thank you very much for being with us. You were up in Dorian's business four times yesterday, including once overnight. Tell us what you saw.

PAUL FLAHERTY, NOAA FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Hi, good morning. Thank you for having us.

Yes, the crew that I've been flying with, we have flown for the last four days for -- in support of Hurricane Dorian missions and forecasts. So what started off as pretty much a messy storm, as you have probably

followed, has really started to change quickly. It's a storm moved more northward and more into a favorable environment.

So we've seen that transition. We've been following it. We've been mapping both what's happening inside the storm and the surrounding area to help with the track forecasts. And some good news is there's dry air to the south. As Dorian has moved north, it's moving away from the dry air, that part is bad news. But if we could keep the dry air coming in from the south and maybe eroding that eye wall, maybe Dorian won't be as strong as the models indicate it could be.

BERMAN: So if that dry air keeps on messing with the eye wall, it could weaken things as it passed over that warm water. Passes over that warm water. Is that what you're saying?

FLAHERTY: Yes, that's our hope, anyway. We've been finding it consistently down there. And so the models aren't -- aren't really hitting that as a big factor as it does move. As you see, they are -- many of them are starting to forecast it to become as strong as a Category 3.

So it's certainly moving away from that environment. Just being a little hopeful that it maybe slows down its (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a bit.

BERMAN: This storm really seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise. Because as you've said, you've been looking at it for four days now. At the beginning of those four days, it was sort of a disorganized mess. It got itself together.

FLAHERTY: Yes, it sure did.

BERMAN: And it moved over this land. Tell us about that.

FLAHERTY: Yes. In fact, we were flying out of St. Croix originally and decided to make the move to Barbados just to be safe, even though at the time, St. Croix didn't look like it was under too much of a threat. But that changed quickly as the storm sort of reorganized and took a slightly different path and moved away from that dry air to the south.

BERMAN: So Paul, you live in Lakeland, Florida. Home is Lakeland, Florida. And in these maps we've been looking at, it's very possible that that is exactly where this storm could hit.

How's your family? How are you going to handle your dual roles -- roles there, having to take care of your house and fly these missions at the same time?

FLAHERTY: Yes, it's certainly something that weighs on the minds of all the crews here. And it was the same case when we were flying Hurricane Irma just a couple of years ago.

We have a job to do. We are working for the public, and we want to do everything we can to ensure the public is informed and can make the right decisions and let the hurricane forecasters and emergency managers have the best information they have. Because that will make not only our families but all the families around -- in this case all across Florida a little bit safer.

So, yes, we come home, we sleep, and we go back and fly. And we take about one hour to try -- a little less time than others have to try to prepare our homes and get our families ready before we head out and fly again.

BERMAN: Well, what you're doing is helping people be safer, because they have three days now to get things together. Get ready, Florida. Because if you wait, it will be too late. Paul Flaherty, thank you for what you do. Thanks for being with us this morning.

FLAHERTY: Thank you for having us.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John. To other news, sources tell CNN the president is, quote, "rattled" as the election ramps up. So what is causing the anxiety? We have that and a revealing new interview with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Next.


BERMAN: CNN has new reporting this morning the president is rattled. Sources tell CNN the the economy is flashing warning signs Trump didn't expect. His trade war with China is dragging on months longer than expected; yet he refuses to give in. His chief promise to supporters -- that he would build a wall along the southern border -- has gone unfulfilled.

Trump sources say he's "searching for an accomplishment to run on in 2020 and realizing time is running short to fulfill some of the key promises he made to voters in 2016."

Joining us now, Frank Bruni, "New York Times" op-ed columnist and CNN contributor; Sarah Isgur, CNN political analyst; and John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst.

This is new CNN reporting, John. And I think it informs everything we are seeing this week. And by that, I mean the president's orders to his subordinates to "Build the wall, even if you have to break the law, and I'll pardon you"? It informs the attacks on, of all places, FOX News.


BERMAN: What? It tells us why he's doing what he's doing this week.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it helps explain why he's had a particularly unhinged two weeks. I mean, last week was really one for the record books with a lot of sort of messianic references.

This week, you're starting to see, you know, the wheels come off at home. And that wall reporting, right? I mean, in his intensity to try to finish this core accomplishment as he sees it.

BERMAN: Or start it, by the way.

AVLON: Yes. Get credit for it in the eyes of his supporters.

The fact, again, that he ordered subordinates to break the law, and he would use the power of the pardon to enable them to commit illegal acts, that's a sign of -- that's a totally different dimension of seriousness.

He should have been able to see the economy coming. Trade wars aren't good and easy to win. But consequences are not something that often enter into this president's consciousness. And that's what we're dealing with.

[06:15:00] CAMEROTA: Sarah, you have your finger on the pulse of the Republican base and some of President Trump's supporters. And, you know, the idea that he was going to build a wall really resonated, obviously, at his rallies. And back then, during the campaign, he promised a thousand miles of wall. That he said it over and other, at least a half a dozen references, to a thousand miles.

So now they -- what they're saying in their campaign releases is that they are building the wall. Sixty miles of refurbished fencing. So fencing that had become dilapidated is what they're now fixing up. Is that going to cut it, I mean, with -- is that --? Are we good? Are we all good with that? Is that -- is the base going to be satisfied with that?

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is going to be his "Read my lips." This was his chief promise. It's what his supporters remembered most from 2016 and what really, I think, rallied them that this was going to be a different kind of presidency and someone who was going to do the things that, you know, were unpopular, not politically correct.

And I think, though, as far as whether that will be effective, what you're saying, will refurbishing wall be enough, I think it will depend on whether the Democratic nominee is able to bring that argument home. Are they willing to say, "Here was his chief promise to you, and he didn't do it"? Are they really going to try to go after Trump voters, or are they simply going to try to energize their base?

What we've seen the last few elections have really been base elections, not independent voter elections. But I think that Democrats, when you're looking at these debates, should be looking for someone who can make that case. Because I think it's a very strong one with Trump's voters.

BERMAN: What interests me is sort of, again, the full picture of the behavior we're seeing with the wall discussion, with the FOX News discussion. And I was reading an op-ed in "The New York Times," and let me quote from it. It's by a certain --

CAMEROTA: Was it brilliant? BERMAN: -- Frank Bruni, who is sitting behind this. This is P-415.

Frank suggests -- and I'm talking about him as he's sitting beside me -- that -- that the more the president does this, it will hurt him. He says, "I wouldn't be surprised if voters consciously or subconsciously conclude that they just can't continue to live like this and that four more years would be ruinous, if not to the country as a whole, then to our individual psyches."

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think voters are exhausted with the melodrama. And there are a lot of things that Trump can blame on other people. But he can't blame the melodrama, he can't put that on Democrats' doorsteps. He can't blame that on fake news. Just all you have to do is go to his Twitter account and look at the volume and vitriol of what he tweets.

People elected Trump, many of those who did, because they don't like politics; they don't like Washington. And now it's all they hear about all the time. It's so pervasive it's ambient. And I think people are tired of it, and I think they realize that, however you align or don't align with him ideologically, this is a degree of constant turmoil that can't be good for the country, and it's not good for themselves. They don't like living like this with just all of this drama around them all the time.

CAMEROTA: They're sick of winning?

BRUNI: They're -- they're sick of whining. They're sick of his whining. I think they're just sick of all of this.

I mean, they elected him, because they wanted something different and they wanted a Washington that worked better. And instead, they have late season "House of Cards." You know, something that's a burlesque.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what happened with Jim Mattis.

AVLON: Sure.

CAMEROTA: So he was former defense secretary under President Trump. And now he is speaking out. He's given -- he has a book coming out. We excerpted -- it was excerpted yesterday. We read portions of it. And it's really notable, John, because he has been so tight-lipped about his experience and what drove him out. And now there are these revelatory moments. And so let's see what we want to read here.

BERMAN: Well, this is a new interview. What's new is it's a new interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, a series of interviews published in "The Atlantic" just a few minutes ago, where you get even further insight into what James Mattis was thinking.

CAMEROTA: What's your favorite one?

BERMAN: Well, I think there are two folds here. No. 1, Mattis talks about why he hasn't been more vocal about the president. Because everyone seems to think that Jim Mattis has a lot of problems with the president of the United States. And Mattis talks about what he calls the duty of silence.

CAMEROTA: "The duty of silence. If you leave an administration, you owe some silence. When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country."

OK. The one that I think is more telling is this next one.

BERMAN: I like that one, but go ahead.

CAMEROTA: OK. We will take it to the poll in a minute.

OK, next: "You don't endanger the country by attacking the elected commander in chief. I may not like a commander in chief one freaking bit, but our system puts the commander in chief there and to further weaken him when we're up against real threats -- I mean, we could be at war on the Korean Peninsula every time they launch something."

The tell there is the "one freaking bit" part. That wasn't necessary.

AVLON: That's what got your attention?

BERMAN: Maybe I don't like him one freaking bit.

CAMEROTA: He didn't need to -- he didn't need to add the "one freaking bit" part.

AVLON: I think this is a tension that military commanders, particularly those who serve in the orbit of the White House, often have. And there -- it's something called honor that we've become unacquainted with in recent years in politics. Where they feel a special duty -- and I think this is true with Kelly and H.R. McMaster and some of the other military folks who have served in the orbit of this White House -- where they're trying to help the commander in chief to help prop up the constitutional order, even if they disagree with the president's instincts, impulses, and decisions. And they try to keep that stuff private.

[06:20:15] The question is, heading into a re-election, if you've had unique insight into a person's capability and capacity as commander in chief, is there a larger duty? Is there a larger obligation to tell the American people that before they go in the voting booth?

Our friend Ron Fournier writes this morning, Frank, does he owe the president silence or does he owe America truth?

BRUNI: I think he's wrestling with that. And I think one of the great things about this Jeffrey Goldberg interview is you see him wrestling with that in real time.

But this is also a really important reminder: Trump has burned through staff. The turnover has been furious. And that means there are more refugees from this administration, embittered refugees, out there than any normal administration. And that is going to end up being a dynamic --

AVLON: Sure.

BRUNI: -- for November 2020. It may not be Mattis who ultimately talks in a way that captures voters' attentions. But there are others out there who may. There's Rex Tillerson. There's Gary Cohn. He has burned through all of these people. Most of them have left on very bad terms. Most of them have left feeling very awkward, at best, about their service to the administration. And I think we're going hear from some of them before November 2020.

CAMEROTA: Sarah, one more thing. According to his friends --

BERMAN: Sarah.

CAMEROTA: According to Mattis's friends, his aides and friends say he found the president to be "of limited cognitive ability and of generally dubious character."

Now, he's not saying that, but the people around him are saying that he expressed those feelings.

So -- so what do you think? What do you make of Mattis coming forward? And is -- is this -- is he speaking loudly enough to get people's attention?

ISGUR: I find the most interesting question here why he left when he did. He does try to explain in the excerpt we were looking at yesterday. And I think that there's certainly an ambience around Goldberg's piece that gets to that.

But a lot of people -- and I think that John's point is well made; a lot of them are in the military -- have the sense of duty and believe that we need good people in government. And it can't be the case that the moment you disagree with your boss, you resign. Or else we wouldn't have anyone in government. No one agrees 100 percent of the time. But at what point do you leave?

Mattis picked a specific point, but we can assume that there were many points before then that he didn't agree with the president. When do you serve? How long do you serve for and when do you leave? And I think that that's a version of what we're all trying to get at, that perhaps General Mattis would be helping the country if he discussed his philosophy on that, might get to this.

BERMAN: Do you think he will, Sarah?

ISGUR: I think that we've seen about as much leg as we're going to see from General Mattis. I hope that we will hear more of his thoughts on service, but I don't think we'll hear a lot more on the president.

AVLON: Easy with the leg-showing references there with General Mattis. I don't know. It's a little early in the morning for that.

ISGUR: He's a good-looking man.

AVLON: All right. Duly noted. BERMAN: I don't know. For some reason I'm thinking garters right

now. All right.


BERMAN: Frank, Sarah, John, thank you.

Furious backlash after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament and drag the queen into the Brexit political crisis. We have a live report from London, next.


BERMAN: The breaking news this morning, Hurricane Dorian is getting stronger, and it's headed right at Florida, with potentially dangerous impact right on Labor Day as a Category 3 or maybe Category 4 storm.

Let's go straight to meteorologist Chad Myers with the very latest forecast -- Chad.

MYERS: Good morning, John.

A little bit earlier, you asked me what does the storm do when it gets to Florida? Let me show you this timeline. Because I can break this cone down.

This is the three-day cone. Basically, where we are now, where we will be in 24 hours, where we will be in 48 hours, and where we will be in 72 hours. Fairly equally spaced out.

Now let me take you to the next day and move you forward to the next spot here. That is another 24 hours. That line's not so far away from the others. It's kind of closer. And then this is the next 24 hours. Very much closer. Which means the storm is slowing its forward progression from almost 15 miles per hour maybe down to 7 or 8 as it makes landfall or something out there.

It could still turn to the right and out to the ocean. It could still do that.

These are the big landfalls from the same general: Hugo, Jeanne, Frances and Irma. Now, there were many others that were smaller than that. But in that zone, those are the potentials that we're looking at because of the water temperature. Almost 90 degrees out there. That's the fuel to the fire for this storm. It's 85 miles per hour right now.

Beginning to get away from us now on the San Juan radar. Not going to be able to get that on the radar for very much longer. It'll be a satellite storm for the next 72 hours until it gets close to Florida.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll just hope that Dorian gets that memo to turn right and go back out to sea.

BERMAN: That's right.

CAMEROTA: So please keep us posted, Chad.

All right. Meanwhile, now to international news. Protesters taking to the streets of London after Queen Elizabeth approved British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to suspend Parliament. The move gives his opponents less time to block Britain's departure from the European Union without a deal.

CNN's Max Foster joins us live from London.

Max, just give us the historical significance of everything that happened yesterday.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. Effectively, what we've had over the last couple of years is a situation where Parliament has predominantly wanted to remain within the European Union. The public voted to leave. And now we have a government which is determined to leave, no matter what, at the end of October.

So what we've got currently is a situation where Boris Johnson is saying he wants to take the lead here. He wants to take control away, effectively, from Parliament by reducing the amount of time they have to block this. So he's reducing the amount of time Parliament is open next month. That's seen by many as undemocratic.