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Hurricane Dorian Strengthens, Heads for Florida; Rattled Trump Seeks Victories Ahead of 2020 Election; Trump: FOX News 'Isn't Working for Us Anymore'; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Drops Out of Presidential Race. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, and we begin with breaking news on Hurricane Dorian.

[07:00:09] This storm is getting stronger and getting stronger quickly out in the open and very warm water of the Atlantic. It's getting bigger. It's getting stronger as it takes direct aim at Florida. It could make landfall at a Category 3 hurricane or perhaps even stronger right over the holiday weekend.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Florida's governor has declared a state of emergency in 26 counties, though exactly where Dorian will make landfall is still not clear. Millions of residents from Key West to Jacksonville are on high alert at this hour.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were spared the worst of Dorian. There were strong winds, as you can see, and rain. But no significant damage like we saw from hurricanes Maria and Irma back in 2017.

So let's get right to meteorologist Chad Myers with the latest forecast. What are you seeing at this hour, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: The update came in at 125 mile- per-hour hurricane at landfall. That is a dangerous Category 3, almost that borderline 130, Category 4. So this is really something to not take lightly.

I know when it's a T.S. or Cat 1, people are going, "Yes, whatever." But this is not a "whatever" storm.

So I take you out 67 hours. Not my numbers, Hurricane Center hours. But from here, here's 24 hours. Here's 24 hours. Here's 24 hours. They're equally spaced, because the storm continues to move at about 12 to 15 miles per hour.

But now what happens when it gets to the coast? That line is much closer to the other line. That means it's slowing down.

Now I take you out to 120 hours. And that line is only right here. So the distance between here and there, that's 24 hours' time. This storm stops, or very close to stops, when it gets on land. And it spins at 125 miles per hour. Are you kidding me?

Right now it's an 85-mile-per-hour storm. And the storm is in the warm water. It isn't that organized at this point in time. That's great. It just -- it didn't hit any real land, didn't hit any mountains. We're losing it on the radar right now, because it's just getting too far away from Puerto Rico. And so this will just be a satellite storm for a while.

This is the track of all the models in the middle. This is the outlier, the American model taking it up toward Jacksonville, maybe a little bit farther to the north.

Where will it go from here? There's a big high pressure right here, trying to send it this way. If the high pressure moves a little bit over here, then it goes around this way. And wouldn't that be nice? Still too early to tell. We're still five hours -- five days, really, from any kind of landfall.

BERMAN: Chad, you went over this a little while ago with us, but just do it once again. Once the storm hits the coast --


BERMAN: -- it could cause even more trouble, correct?

MYERS: Sure. It could absolutely stop on land very close to Orlando, maybe the Big Bend. It could even get in the Gulf of Mexico, turn to the right and then head up over Georgia and then into the Carolinas a little bit, something like this. This is what many models are doing that kind of thing.

Not a lot of reorganization here but going all the way across the Florida peninsula. That would be the worst-case scenario.

Best case is that it really does slow down. And it could slow down, slow down, slow down, and then come to a stop and then decide to go back out to the ocean. That is not an impossible scenario. The chances aren't high, but the chances aren't zero.

BERMAN: All right, Chad. Please stay close. Keep a watch on this for us.

MYERS: I will.

BERMAN: We'll come back to you in a little bit.

Florida needs to pay attention to this. Residents along the coast need to be getting ready. So are they?

CNN's Nick Valencia live in Daytona Beach. Nick, give us a sense of what you're seeing.


This would normally be one of the busiest weekends for Florida's beaches. But instead, residents are preparing for the potential of a major Category 3 hurricane.


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: 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.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: 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.

[07:05:04] DARYL JASCHEN, DIRECTOR, DSVI TERRITORIAL EMERGENCY MANAGER: The damage assessment right now is primarily to our 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 would be the fifth hurricane in the last four years to impact the state's emergency officials, saying don't pay attention to the track. All of Florida's East Coast has the potential to get hit by this, so you should get ready -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nick, thank you for that warning.

Joining us now is Ken Graham. He's the director of the National Hurricane Center.

So we just heard from Chad and Nick talking about how the model now shows that it's from the Florida Keys all the way up to Jacksonville. So the whole Florida coastline. Ken, what do you want people in Florida to know at this hour? KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Alisyn, it's that

message I've been talking about for the last couple days. With this uncertainty in these data forecasts, we just have to have everybody ready, from the Georgia coast all the way down the entire Florida coast.

Because, you know, at the current time, there's enough uncertainty that any one of those areas could get not only the impact of the center of the storm, but they're going to get impacts anyway, no matter where this hits.

CAMEROTA: You are the person in charge, or at least the organization in charge of the hurricane watches and warnings. So when should we expect those?

GRAHAM: Yes, it's interesting that -- that we'll look at that. And you've got to look at the onset of tropical-storm-force winds. So we look at that. So you'll actually have the onset of some of these tropical-storm-force winds Sunday morning.

So if you back that up 48 hours, it could be -- you know, we start having serious conversations about that around here on Friday.

So we need to get everybody ready. And really, if you look at this with time, the be ready by, tropical-storm-force winds means you need to be ready. It gets too dangerous outside. So Sunday, we could even start seeing some impacts. People have got to be ready before Sunday.

CAMEROTA: OK. Ken, we often talk about hurricane and classify them in terms of a wind event, a rain event. I understand that you're keeping an eye on the storm surge here.

GRAHAM: Yes. It's interesting, Alisyn. If you look at history, storm surge is the leading cause of fatalities, historically. Fifty percent of them. So the storm surge is the reason that we have -- we create these evacuation zones to get people out of the way.

And then another 25 percent is the inland flooding. So the water. The water is one of the bigger threats. So the wind, the water, all aspects of those impacts could happen with this hurricane.

CAMEROTA: Does the holiday weekend, the Labor Day weekend complicate matters or help matters, since people are already on the move and traveling? Maybe they were already going someplace out of state.

GRAHAM: Yes. We've received a lot of calls on that. And we're giving the advice that you can see the conditions over the weekend. So be really careful with those travel plans. And we -- folks, listen to the local officials. Keep tuned to the latest forecast. We're letting people know, just be careful. I think that's the biggest thing at this stage. And have the latest information.

Almost uncertainty like this, you could have shifts in the forecast. So we're letting people know, keep tuned. Listen to the weather. Be prepared. Listen to those local officials. CAMEROTA: Ken, I think the latest gauge shows that the winds of

Dorian are at 125 miles per hour, correct me if I'm wrong. But that's different, of course, than the speed that it is traveling. And so the hurricane -- I mean, its winds are picking up and accelerating. But is it slowing down?

GRAHAM: Yes. We predict a little bit of a slowdown. A lot of times what happens, Alisyn, is when -- when you move forward and you make that turn, you get the resistance. There's a big high pressure here. And what happens is, when the hurricane hits that, it's a little bit of a resistance. So when they make this turn, often they start to slow down.

CAMEROTA: So the closer these points are together, the slower the movement. We do expect it to pick up with time. So speed is incredibly important. Not just the wind speed that you feel, but the forward motion. That has a lot to do with how much rain you get. The slower the storm, the more the rain.

CAMEROTA: OK. Ken Graham, thank you very much for giving us all the information that Floridians and all of us need to know this morning. We'll check back with you.

GRAHAM: You bet.


BERMAN: All right. We have new reporting from inside the White House this morning. The president is rattled. How this explains his recent round of attacks and his call for aides to break the law if they have to.


[07:12:58] CAMEROTA: President Trump is scrambling to score some victories ahead of election day next year. Sources tell CNN the president realizes time is running short to fulfill some of the key promises he made to voters in 2016.

So let's bring in Kaitlan Collins. She's our CNN White House correspondent who has this reporting. Abby Phillip, CNN White House correspondent. And Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House press secretary.

Great to have all of you. So Kaitlan, explain how the president is feeling rattled and why.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So basically, what you're seeing is the president realizing, more so lately than he has than at any other point in the past several weeks and several months, that the economy is not going to be this guarantee that they've seen it as for the last several years for him to run on for re-election.

He and his advisers are often at odds with each other on how they want to try to stave off this potential of an abeconomic downturn as they've seen these warning signs flashing in the economy. Yet, they have not been able to agree on any way that they want to move forward.

Aides aren't sure what it is the president would agree to and stick with. And of course, a lot of them are privately conceding his ongoing trade war with China has a lot to do with this.

So because of that, you are seeing the president right now really search for some accomplishment he can run on in 2020. That's why you've seen the talk about his border wall lately. Something that we're told the president has been having several meetings at the White House with staffers, talking about. That's when he made that remark the White House insisted was a joke, that he would pardon aides if they needed to break the law to make sure that part of his border wall did get built by 2020.

Because even though he's insisting publicly that part of that wall has been built, we know that as of August, our sources are telling us no new miles of wall have been built. The president is essentially realizing that time is running short for him to fulfill these key campaign promises he made. And he needs something to run on next year.

BERMAN: And Kaitlan, I think this reporting -- and we'll turn to you, Abby -- explains so much of what we've seen over the last two weeks. And we see in the Quinnipiac poll where, all of a sudden, the president's under water on his handling of the economy. All of a sudden, Americans at large don't have a positive view of where the economy is going. And the president knows this, Abby.

[07:15:10] So what with does he do? He falls back on the wall, what he thinks got him elected, and he wants it built. He wants pictures of it being built, even if his aides have to break the law to do it.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And there's some serious challenges to this kind of logic for the president. He falls back often on what he knows best, which is how to appeal to people who already support him; how to appeal to his base.

But the problem for him is that his economic appeal, which used to be something of a strength going into this phase right now, was something that allowed him to appeal to people who were more independent-minded voters, people who were less inclined to vote for him for strong ideological reasons. And the wall just simply doesn't do that for him. So it's not actually a one-to-one exchange here.

And the weakness that he's showing in the Quinnipiac poll is a real, real problem. Because what it tells -- what it tells everyone and what it tells the president is that people are not expecting the economy, necessarily, to either stay strong or to get better. And in fact, they do not think that President Trump's stewardship of the economy or the country is positive.

One of the data points in that Quinnipiac poll was that they felt like -- more Americans felt like the president's policies were hurting the economy than necessarily helping it.

So a lot of red flags for the president. And on top of that, nearly every top-tier Democratic candidate beats him handily if you put them head-to-head. So -- so there are real reasons why the president should be worried. The problem is building the wall doesn't necessarily solve that problem for him when it comes to the voters that need to be persuaded to come over to his side.

CAMEROTA: Joe, I think the wall is a really interesting illustration though. Because in the campaign emails, they're already claiming that the wall is being built. It's already been a victory, when the CPB has told our reporters that, in fact, they're refurbishing of 60 miles of wall that needed fixing.

And what the president promised was 1,000 miles of a new wall. OK? That's what he promised. And I just can't tell, and maybe nobody can how much his supporters will hold him to that. Or -- I mean, I don't remember the chant. You know, the chants at the rallies were "Build the wall, build the wall," not --

BERMAN: Refurbish!

CAMEROTA: -- "Refurbish dilapidated fencing." But if it was refurbished dilapidated fencing, then OK. Mission accomplished and give back the rest of the money.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think Abby makes the right point there, which is I don't think his supporters are going to hold him to any standard, you know, that we'd normally say, you know, promises made, promises kept.

And it's important -- it underlines why, when he said, "Don't believe what you see and what you read, believe what I say happens." Because he just outright -- it's just outright lying now about what's actually happening.

In fact, I think the refurbishing money was appropriated during the Obama administration. So he's gotten really nothing done.

He's really stuck, though. And it's by his own doing. You know, a lot of presidents come in -- the president I worked for, Bill Clinton, very deliberately took the pain early. Raised taxes at the beginning of the administration, knowing that he wanted the economy to get going when he was running for re-election.

Trump has decided to have his dessert first. He had a big tax cut at the beginning. It didn't do anything to stimulate the economy. It gave corporations a big tax cut, which they used for stock buybacks. But now he doesn't have any tools left. There isn't -- You can't go back, given the $1 trillion deficit, and come up with some big stimulus program or tax program. And the economy is slowing.

Some of it is just cyclical. Not his fault, but it is accelerated by these tariffs with China and the trade war and the trade war worries.

So he has to go back to what got him there in 2016, which is this kind of "us against them" culture, anti-elite. And I think the country has grown pretty tired of it. BERMAN: What's interesting to me is in the "us versus them"

formulation, "them" is getting even bigger. And this gets back to the whole being rattled thing. And you'll be interested in this.


BERMAN: Because all of a sudden, the president is going after FOX News. Directly. And this is P-502 I want to read here. He was writing this yesterday, obviously dissatisfied with some coverage.

CAMEROTA: Because they were covering some of the Democrats, the Democratic race for president.

BERMAN: All right. So he writes, "I don't want to Win for myself. I only want to Win for the people. The New FOX News is letting millions of GREAT people down. We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. FOX isn't working for us anymore!"

FOX isn't working for us anymore.

CAMEROTA: I mean, wow. What a statement. Because, you know, Kaitlan, after the long, wet kiss that they have been engaged in for the past, you know, with the president for -- I mean, it's been much longer for three years. I mean, it's been probably eight years that, you know, FOX has really been boosters of Donald Trump.

And the idea that now he doesn't like them. First of all, no wonder he's confused, because it's been such a wet kiss. So now he's confused when they have to interview Democrats.

BERMAN: Or they have to breathe. Sometimes you have to take a breath. Even during a great, wet kiss.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So that's confusing, of course, to now the president. And I'm sure that it is going to be a challenge for FOX management. Because what do they do with this golden goose who's turning on them?

COLLINS: Well, basically, people who know the president well say his allegiances only go so far, and they always lead back to Donald Trump.

So a lot of people around the president kind of saw this coming, because, yes, we do have this cozy relationship. Of course, he calls a lot of their anchors regularly. He praises them publicly, brings them onstage during his campaign rallies at times.

But of course, when the president turns on his TV, and he sees them interviewing a Democratic candidate for president, for which there are many and which will happen time and time again over this election cycle, that's what the president doesn't like.

Because when he says he believes media coverage is biased against him, the president does really believe that. And he does see -- he believes people like Elizabeth Warren get a lot more credit for crowd sizes they have at certain rallies, when he feels like he doesn't get enough credit. Of course, he's president now. It's a much different landscape that

he's entering -- entering into this race, not as the underdog, not as someone who was dismissed, as he was in the last election. So the president is going to really see this differently.

But we're told that's what bothers him. When he turns on the TV, and he sees anyone other but himself on there, namely someone who is trying to take the White House away from him. That's what aggravates the president, regardless of which anchor it is on TV telling the news. That is what gets under the president's skin, is seeing someone who is running against him who is criticizing him on his TV.

BERMAN: Abby, do the people around the president think that he is helping himself this morning?

PHILLIP: By criticizing FOX News in this way?

BERMAN: By any of it at this point.

PHILLIP: OK. You know, I mean, I think when you talk to White House aides about President Trump's -- some of President Trump's behavior that raises a lot of eyebrows outside of the White House, a lot of them are kind of resigned to this.

I mean, the president, they know, often does not necessarily act with some sort of political strategy in mind. Or -- or even sometimes with his own best interests in mind. Sometimes he acts just based on the way that he's feeling in any given moment or -- or based on what he's seeing when he turns on the television and watches it.

And so, you know, we're 2 1/2 years into this. And the White House aides who have been around President Trump for that duration -- and there are not that many left -- they understand that this is a president who's going to, generally speaking, do what he wants.

And if there are people who have come -- the people who have come into this administration mid-stream, they've come in fully acknowledging that President Trump is not going to suddenly wake up and do things that seem to be the orthodoxy.

So -- so no. I mean, I think there are definitely a lot of times when they know that he's not helping himself. But many of them, when you talk to them, they'll take the position that this is a president who's -- who's won by doing things that don't seem like they are serving his best interests. And so in a lot of ways, they do defer to him, because they think the elections is just proof that -- that his instincts have worked for him, even if it's unconventional.

CAMEROTA: Yes. His instincts did work for him in 2016. And we'll see if that still works.

Let's talk about the Democratic side.


CAMEROTA: Joe. And then there were 20. LOCKHART: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So -- so Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out yesterday. And what do you think that means for the larger picture of the race in terms of is -- are we about to see a cascading effect before this next debate?

LOCKHART: Well, I think the way the DNC set this up, it's working the way they want it to. You can argue about it, but they have forced a winnowing of the field. And we're -- you know, there are ten people on the debate stage. There'll be a couple more that may hang around, hoping to get there in October. But we're now seeing the field go down.

And I think there's two types of candidates right now. There are people like Kirsten Gillibrand, who -- whose campaign didn't catch fire for a lot of reasons, but whose career in politics is not anywhere near over. We're going to hear about her as either a leader in the Senate, a governor of New York, or maybe a presidential candidate in the future, who looked around and said it's time to get out.

There are some who are just looking -- who have other ideas. You know, the Marianne Williamson who's trying to bring love to America. And you don't need great poll numbers to bring love to America. They have a different --

CAMEROTA: You act like bringing love to America is something to meet with a wry take.

LOCKHART: It polls very well. And it is something good.

[07:25:04] So I think it is working. It is somewhat cruel to, you know, wake up and say, "I don't have 2 percent in the polls, so I've got to get out."

But for her in particular, I think it's a recognition of looking at her future and knowing, you know, as a -- as a young politician who has always done well, it's time to step back, you know, a tactical retreat to see what happens next.

BERMAN: Who's next? Who's dropping out next, Joe?

LOCKHART: I would think the mayor of New York fairly soon. You know, again, I don't know what people like Tim Ryan hope to get, you know, going forward.

But I think when -- when they step on the debate stage in September and there's only ten of them, it's very hard for anyone else in the race to go to Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and say, "Pay attention to me. Pay attention to me." Because that's what this is all about at this point at this point. Just getting -- capturing the public's imagination. And if you're not on the stage, you're not on the stage.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, Abby, Joe, thank you, all, very much. BERMAN: All right. There is a new interview just published this

morning with former Defense Secretary James Mattis. The general speaking out -- speaking out about his silence. This is heavily nuanced stuff, but he also warns he won't stay silent forever. That's next.