Return to Transcripts main page
Dorian Stalls Over The Bahamas, At Least 5 Killed; Trump Golfs, Tweets 100+ Times as Deadly Hurricane Nears U.S. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired September 3, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just thinking about how dangerous the winds could be. I think it's really important to just stay away as far as you can.
[07:00:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a storm of storms.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. I'm John Berman, live in Jensen Beach, Florida, this morning. Alisyn Camerota is up in New York.
And this is Hurricane Dorian, about a hundred miles from the center of the storm, which is still just past the Bahamas, devastatingly slow. Those islands have been hit so hard over the last 48 hours. And only now, as the son is coming up, are they getting a real sense of the damage and devastation there.
Five people dead as far as we know, but you can expect that number will change as they get more information. The communications there have been very difficult.
Here in Florida, it's a waiting game. The storm moving so slowly toward the coast here. There are hurricane warnings up the coast all the way to South Carolina, mandatory evacuations still underway. They are still expecting hurricane-strength winds in many of the places on the coast and very dangerous storm surge.
I'm on the intercoastal waterway. You can see the seas. They are kicking up here. The water will rise even further than this. And the winds could reach hurricane strength overnight, and into tomorrow.
The overall strength of the storm is down to a Category 3, but that is still a major hurricane, and this is no time for complacency as the storm moves ever so slowly northward, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: As we've learned from this hurricane, anything is possible with Dorian. So obviously, you were there for us keeping track of it all morning. Meanwhile, there's other news. We're also following new details from Southern California, where 34 people are feared dead from that inferno aboard a dive boat. All five crew members somehow made it off that boat safely, and now
there are questions about all of those passengers and how they became trapped below deck.
So we have a live report with the investigation coming up for you. But for now, we want to go right back to John in Florida.
BERMAN: All right. And we are getting new information about the track of this storm, and the forecast.
So let's go right to Chad Myers in the weather center. And Chad, Hurricane Dorian has continued to surprise, and I think astound all of us with just how much damage it's doing and how slowly it's been moving.
CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: I don't think, John, that we have ever seen a storm stay in one spot and not kill itself. But I mean, we started out at 185. So now we're down to 120. There's some good news there.
But when a storm stays in the same sector or the same area like it is right now, it uses up the warm water. The Gulf Stream actually is here, and it's not in the Gulf Stream. There still is a threat that, if the storm gets here, it could reignite itself, but for now, it has used up its energy. It has used up the power that it had, because it has turned the water cold. It has used all of the warm stuff.
So now we're still seeing a big eye. We're still seeing winds at 120, but certainly not where we were just 24 or 48 hours ago.
Still going to make a run at the East Coast of Florida. The closest approach will likely be Cape Canaveral, because it sticks out clear. But otherwise, the next stop would be up into the Carolinas for the next potential landfall.
Here are the wind speeds. Here's today at 1 p.m. Stewart, Florida, not far from where you are. Fifty-nine, for tonight, all the way into overnight, Melbourne, 64.
Daytona Beach by tomorrow morning, 62, and then slightly turning to the right, St. Simons to 53. These are almost hurricane-strength but not quite, and that's the good news, John.
BERMAN: That is the good news. Almost hurricane-strength but not quite. Any deviation in the path could make those winds stronger. And of course, the gusts will be stronger, as well. Watching the storm very closely.
Chad Myers, thank you very much for keeping us posted.
I want to go straight to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island right now. Patrick Oppmann and his team have been there for days now. The communications have been difficult, the conditions even worse.
Patrick, please tell us what you are seeing this morning as the sun comes up. PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
Well, you know, the winds have dropped somewhat. Yesterday, it was -- it was just incredible how long the storm went on, and how, actually, in the evening it seemed to intensify to a point we haven't seen all -- all day yesterday.
Right now maybe we have Category 1 tropical-storm-force winds, but we are sensing, you can sense that the storm is leaving or is at least less powerful. And that may allow us, for the first time, in days to get out later and sort of assess damage.
We have seen people who have had to evacuate their homes. Some of them came here and are using the lobby downstairs as a makeshift shelter, about 15 people and many of their animals.
One woman, as -- as she was coming here, slipped and fell and broke her hip and had to be carried in. These are people who said that yesterday evening, they thought they'd escaped the worst of the storm. And then they noticed the water was rising around their home.
And by the time they had the ability to get their belongings together, John, the water had already risen so much they could not get the front door open, because it was blocked by water. They had to crawl out of their houses. They had to break their roofs. They said that some people riding out the storm now on top of the roofs around the rest of Freeport.
We know the hospitals had flooding. We've heard the animal shelter is completely flooded, and people there who put their animals there before the storm are concerned that nobody went back to open up the cages to let out several hundred animals.
So there is no sense of any kind of government here, any sense of people in charge or helping. And that is what the Bahamian government said before the storm. They said not until the airport opens, not until you bring in boats. Will you get resources in here?
So we are waiting for that to happen. But for the moment, a very dire situation here.
BERMAN: Hopefully, Patrick, the winds die down, and people can get a sense of just how much damage there is, and what the need is.
Patrick Oppmann, to you and your team, please stay safe there. We'll check back in with you.
Right now, I want to go to Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center. Ken, you've been with us for days now, giving us constant updates on this storm, the likes of which, frankly, we've really never seen before.
What's the very latest? What are you seeing this morning? KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: John, just still
stationary movement. I mean, the latest advisory you put out, still stationary. So the winds are still 120 miles an hour, sitting over the same place. So they're still getting battered by the winds and the waves and the water.
So, you know, we're just really waiting for that movement today, get this thing northward during the day and tomorrow so we can improve conditions in the Bahamas.
BERMAN: At this point, what do you think the people of Florida can expect and where?
GRAHAM: Yes, as soon as we start moving to the north, it's going to take a little time throughout the day. But if you look at the timing here, by 2 a.m. Wednesday, we're off the central portion of the coast of Florida, and then moving northward up into the Carolinas by 2 a.m. Thursday.
So once this makes the move, it will start to accelerate with time, but you're going to see tropical-storm-force winds. Those extend 140 miles from the center. Going to see storm surge and going to see rain. So those impacts are coming throughout the next couple of days.
BERMAN: You know, I'm standing right in the Intercoastal Waterway in Jensen Beach, and we can see the water here. It's been rising for a day or so, and it's kicking up. How much storm surge can they expect along the coast?
GRAHAM: Yes, looks like we're still forecasting 4 to 7 feet in some areas. So that's a life-threatening situation in some of those low areas.
But the big thing, John, that we've got to remind people is that water can come in well before the storm. So if, you know, you're told to evacuate, listen to the local officials. That's very important, because the roads could get cut off well before the storm.
BERMAN: One more question for you, Ken, if I can. The Carolinas, they've been waiting, Charleston. Any impact expected there?
GRAHAM: Yes, absolutely. With time, this will continue to move north. So if you think Wednesday at 2 p.m., and then over Thursday, and then Friday, impacting Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, even Virginia with some rain, some storm surge, a lot of these areas very susceptible to storm surge. So we've extended that -- that watch for the potential of hurricane-force winds and storm surge up the coast.
BERMAN: Ken, thank you so much for all the help you've given us over the last few days. Not over yet. We'll be speaking to you over the next day or two, as well.
All right. I want to go back to the Bahamas now. Joining me now is Captain Stephen Russell. He is in charge of the emergency relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Captain Russell, thank you so much for being with us. I understand
search-and-rescue operations are about to resume. What do you expect?
CAPTAIN STEPHEN RUSSELL, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (via phone): Again, good morning. The search and rescue is our priority for going through today. Again, we got quite a bit of calls throughout the night from persons who are still trapped in their homes. The water levels are rising in the areas.
I'm to almost 15, 20 feet in some areas, and some homes. Obviously, quite a bit of homes are submerged. Persons on the roof or in the attic. So search and rescue is a priority. Our aim is to save lives and minimize injuries. The level of destruction is out of our hands, but saving lives is our priority as we go into the day.
BERMAN: How are you going to reach them? What's the means by getting to these people? Do you have forces stationed on Grand Bahama?
RUSSELL: Well, Abaco is our priority now. We cannot quite get into Grand Bahama again until the winds subside quite a bit and we get the all clear to a certain extent.
But I think we are more clear to go into Great Abaco. We're working with the United States Coast Guard. They've been doing a tremendous job over the past -- past day rescuing some persons for us and bringing them in to Nassau to seek medical care, and we hope that continues in all earnest today.
BERMAN: Do you have any sense of how many people need to be rescued, how many calls have come in?
RUSSELL: I'm quite sure there are -- there are probably scores and scores, 40, 60 or more calls that we're aware of at this point in time of persons who are trapped. And not just a call. A caller may speak of five persons trapped at a location. So there's quite a number of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) calls. The number of persons can really multiply or triple in terms of at a particular location that needs to be rescued.
BERMAN: As you said, the U.S. Coast Guard has sent ships to help out in assistance. We've been looking at video of that.
Talk to me about the airports and the runways. Can planes, can relief even get into Abaco, not Grand Bahama just yet, because it's still being struck by a hurricane, but does the infrastructure exist for planes to land?
RUSSELL: No, not at this time. And Abaco in particular, the only -- the only runway that is operation is the southern section of the island. That's some 60 miles away from the marsh harbor area. So that's some distance away.
And the Coast Guard and the helicopters, they're doing -- they're doing the best they can. The helicopters have -- they're on such a wide platform to land on, but they are doing the best they can. The airports most -- most likely flooded because of the levels of
water, like I said, up to 15, 20 feet in some areas, so definitely the airport is not accessible at this time.
BERMAN: I know communications have been difficult. So far we've heard of five fatalities. Are you concerned that that number will rise?
RUSSELL: Yes, I am. I pray it does not. But I'm being a realist. Based on the level of flooding above people's homes, I'm quite certain the number is most likely to rise.
BERMAN: And are you able to reach the parts of Grand Bahama that are still being reached by communications, I mean, even hear from the parts of Grand Bahama that are still being hit by Hurricane Dorian?
RUSSELL: I'm sorry? Grand Bahama or which one? You're speaking of Grand Bahama or Abaco?
BERMAN: Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama, at this point, which is still being hit by the hurricane. Have you been able to hear from them at all?
RUSSELL: Yes, I spoke with them probably sometime late yesterday afternoon, and like I said, conditions were rapidly deteriorating on that island. We had nothing after midnight from Grand Bahama. So we're standing by, hoping conditions improve.
BERMAN: What's the greatest -- what's -- I'm sorry. What's your area of greatest need now, Captain, and how can Americans help?
RUSSELL: Like I said, the main area of need is just to rescue, search and rescue. We need to get people out of harm's ways or the conditions they're in on the roofs or attic, to a safe, dry area, and then basic food and shelter would be the next order of business. Saving lives, minimizing injuries. And then a bit food and shelter.
BERMAN: Is there sufficient food in place and water for the people in need?
RUSSELL: Food and water is on standby. Again, we have our ships, defense force, our Coast Guard on standby. Nassau, we can open our warehouses and food supply to get into Grand Bahama's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Airports and sea ports are accessible.
Again, we can do some more overflights to check our airports and sea ports. First, we have to get supplies in sea ports, because the airports are still flooded in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) area. But food and water, those are lining up to go into those areas as soon as possible.
BERMAN: All right. And Captain Steven Russell, you are in Nassau, correct? You're coordinating from there. When do you think you'll be able to get on the ground in Abaco and Grand Bahama?
RUSSELL: Again, once the all clear is given. I'm going to probably do an overflight of both areas, as best I can, sometime this afternoon. But as soon as we get confirmation that the airport is clear for landing, or we may even get in by chopper sometime tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll try and get on the ground in Abaco, in particularly, tomorrow, on the ground.
BERMAN: All right. Listen, Captain Steven Russell, in charge of the relief efforts and the rescue efforts, frankly, that are still going on in the Bahamas. Thank you so much for being with us. Please stay safe. Let us know what we can do to help.
RUSSELL: OK. Thank you so much. Good morning.
BERMAN: Thank you, sir.
And Alisyn, you can tell, you know, there is contact with people on Grand Bahama and Abaco. The storm has passed over Abaco. But they can't land planes yet on Abaco. They can only reach parts of the island with U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters. So they're only beginning to get a sense of the damage and the need.
And they can't get to Grand Bahama Island and Freeport yet, because the hurricane is still hitting there. They have their work cut out for them over the next several days.
CAMEROTA: Right. And I mean, heaven only knows what they'll find when they can land there. I'm just watching on our big wall the satellite imagery of how it is parked there. I mean, that's what Chad keeps talking about, how it's just parked over the Bahamas, and they've already experienced so much pain. And obviously, people have been killed, and so everybody is just holding their breath to see what happens once this storm moves on and what is left behind.
So John, thank you very much for reporting on it from Florida. Obviously, we are with you all morning.
But there's other news to get to, as well, because President Trump got some important information about this hurricane wrong this weekend. And he put that erroneous info out to the public from the golf course. So what's going on?
Well, up next, former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, about the president's comments on the hurricane.
CAMEROTA: Hurricane Dorian is parked off Florida's East Coast at this hour. And while the deadly storm battered the Bahamas, President Trump put out some erroneous information to people in harm's way. Why is he making these mistakes?
Joining us now is former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Great to have you here. We have a lot to talk about.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Let me just play for you two conflicting things that the president said. One was in may about a hurricane, and one was this weekend about this hurricane. So listen to how he categorized this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've just come from a stop at Tyndall Air Force Base, where I saw the devastating effects of that Category 5 hurricane.
I'm not sure that I've ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed, and I've seen some Category 4s. You don't even see them that much. But a Category 5 is something that I don't know that I've ever even heard the term other than I know it's there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How did he forget that a Category 5 exists over the past three months?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, I think what happens is he's on sort of replay mode, you know, so it's almost like a season rerun for him. And so he has a few phrases that he uses repetitively that he thinks are is working.
And so saying that he's never heard of a Category 5 hurricane, and not remembering that he's heard of a Category 5 hurricane is emblematic of what's going on in terms of the mental decline. But I think the --
CAMEROTA: Well, let me stop you right there about that. Because I know you're talking about his mental decline. But not a lot of people are talking about that.
However, for Democrats, with Joe Biden, there's a lot of talk about whether people should be concerned about his mental acuity. So are you saying that what you hear there is a -- is mental decline or is something else going on?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, if you look at a whole pattern of speech and you look at a whole deterioration of his syntax and the way he's talking -- look, I'm not a psychologist, so I'm not going to clinically evaluate him. But just as a person, looking at it as a voter, you're saying, OK, the guy is obviously in mental decline.
But what I find sad and troubling about the whole thing is that he's got a group of people around him that are supposedly loyal to him and like him, that they're not addressing it. They're not evaluating it.
So what's happening is CNN is showing a clip like that, which is incredibly embarrassing.
But here's what I would say, if it was my dad, OK, or it was a family member, and you were showing clips like that, there's a little bit of sadness to the whole thing. There's an element of sadness to the whole thing. And so for me, I'm looking at that. The guy is obviously in mental
decline. He missed the fact that Alabama wasn't affected by the storm.
CAMEROTA: Right, so what you're talking about --
SCARAMUCCI: And so now you've got a whole group of people that -- like I said to you guys, you know, it's like Trump-nobyl. He's in full blown meltdown. And now you've got a group of people who are going to cover this up, as opposed to clean it up. You've got --
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I don't know if he's in full-blown meltdown. I don't know what your evidence of that is.
SCARAMUCCI: Full-blown meltdown?
SCARAMUCCI: What are you talking about? I mean, he's --
CAMEROTA: The fact that he says he doesn't know a Category 5 and then he does.
SCARAMUCCI: He's -- he's on -- he's on a vicious -- he's on a vicious rant and attack. He attacks his fellow citizens almost every day repetitively on Twitter. He went after Debra Messing, who's just a fellow citizen of his in the United States, over the weekend. He sends out between 40 and 60 tweets in a 24-hour period of time.
CAMEROTA: There was 122 this weekend.
SCARAMUCCI: There was 122 this weekend. And so when you say that he's not in a full-blown meltdown, we all have different opinions of what a full-blown meltdown is.
But I think, you know, look, I've been around the situation now for three solid years. There are people critical of me, saying, "Well, you should have noticed it three years ago." OK, I'll accept that criticism. But it's way worse today than it was three years ago, and it's going to get way worse in about six months.
So again, the Republicans have a responsibility to the nation to get him evaluated, and they have a responsibility to the nation to tell the truth.
Now, if they are all in camp with him, then they should speak out over the next coming months and roundly endorse him, and say that he's doing everything great and he's totally fine. But you notice they're not doing that either.
CAMEROTA: Well, some are. But I mean what you're talking about it --
SCARAMUCCI: Some are? Who? Which ones?
CAMEROTA: In terms of his supporters, his supporters in the Congress.
SCARAMUCCI: In the Congress.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. I haven't really heard that many supporters in the Congress speaking out about -- glowingly about how well he's doing. I mean, he had a -- let's face it, he had a horrific summer, you know. He's doing well?
CAMEROTA: What you're talking about in terms of Alabama, I just want to read it for people, because this was erroneous information put out by the president of the United States as a storm was approaching, is approaching: "In addition to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama will most likely be hit much harder than anticipated."
And, you know, I just don't know what voters are supposed to make of erroneous information like this.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, that could be a combination of things. That could be his coms team that was putting that out. He wasn't probably paying close enough attention to it.
Again, I'm not -- I'm not here to apologize for that tweet or even defend it. But I think what's even crazier about the whole thing is he can't ever admit that he's wrong.
And so he's putting out a tweet after the fact, saying, well, it's good to be prepared anyway, even though the hurricane is not near you. It's like telling Nebraska that a hurricane is coming, but, like, be prepared for it.
So -- so but I mean -- But this is the stuff -- we're now in that debate where you guys are showing those clips. Those clips, if you're a family member, they should be sad to you, honestly. And if they're not sad to you, then what is exactly going on?
I mean, is the power that important, where you have to hold power that closely, despite the fact that you know that there's a dematerialization going on at the time that you're observing something like that?
CAMEROTA: You know, much has been made that you were only in the White House for a short time. However --
CAMEROTA: -- you have been around the team enough to know, I think, what happens behind the scenes during a crisis like this.
So when the president cancels his trip to Poland, as he did about this hurricane, what -- what's going on? Is he -- is he feeling compassion for the victims? Because it's hard to tell when we see him just golfing all weekend. SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, listen, I mean, again, these are my
personal opinions, my personal observation. He doesn't really feel a lot of compassion for anybody, actually.
And so if you just look at what he was doing in El Paso, where he's holding the babies recently, orphaned. He's got his thumb up in the air like it's a fundraiser out in the Hamptons. And so he's not really showing great compassion.
He's out golfing. He complained about President Obama golfing incessantly, and so now he's doing the exact same thing, if not worse. I think he's golfed, you know, over 200 days.
But -- but I think the real issue isn't just that. It's that the messaging from the presidency and the reason why he's stuck at 40 percent, and I predict will go down into the low 30s, is that at the end of the day, it's about people. It's about people way more than it is about policy, Alisyn.
And people are concerned. And when you look at the country right now, and you say OK, is this how we want things to go? At the end of the day, somebody that's sitting in that office, has to have a little bit more compassion, a little bit more humanity.
You point out the fact that I was only in the White House for a short period of time. That's fair, but I was on the campaign. I was on the presidential transition team.
And even after getting fired from the White House, I wanted to stay loyal to the president's agenda, and I wanted to stay loyal to, by and large, a lot of the policies.
But as you and I both know, two years of discussions about the situation, there's a lot of things that are going wrong. And so now you've gone past the trip wire of normalcy. And so even a Republican like me who would like to support the president, you can't support this sort of stuff.
And so the question is when will normal, rational people start to come around to that? Because I get the loyalty conflict, and I get the anchoring to something that's so, so wrong.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but let me post that to you. Because the last time we spoke, you predicted that there would be other people from the administration who would come out and express their condemnation of the president or their displeasure.
CAMEROTA: And then Jim Mattis came out and did that last week. Is that who you were referring it?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, you know, I don't want to speak for General Mattis. You know, he's on his book tour right now, and obviously, he's a decorated Marine. And so I think he was a little bit more subtle than the approach that I'm taking, but he's definitely in the camp where there's something wrong.
CAMEROTA: But are you saying that more people will come out?
SCARAMUCCI: I absolutely believe that. Yes, there was no reason for people to come out in the month of August, OK. But as we go, you know, we're after Labor Day now. School's starting. The new cycle is going to kick in into the fall. I do believe that responsible Republicans that know the situation are going to have to speak out, because you've got to save the party.
I mean, you're not going to be able to sit there in 2024 and say, "Listen, I whistled past the graveyard of the Trump dereliction of duty, and I did absolutely nothing, because I was afraid of a tweet. I was afraid he was going to attack one of my family members. I was afraid of his bombast and his bullying."
So how are you going to stand on that stage in 2024, if you didn't do something today in 2020 or 2019?
CAMEROTA: And you've also talked about a primary challenger or primary challenge.
CAMEROTA: And are you referring to Joe Walsh? Or are there others?
SCARAMUCCI: I think there's a few. I mean, the deadline is November. I think there's a few others. Remember, states like New Hampshire have a proportionate delegate system, and so if you can get somebody in there. In New Hampshire, he's a disaster in the polls. I mean, he's down 26 percent against a generic Democrat.
CAMEROTA: But you think somebody else will step forward?
SCARAMUCCI: I do. I think somebody else is going to step forward. I think it's going to cause some disruption. And I think somebody that really loves the Republican Party and loves America actually needs to damage him going into the presidential race, if he makes it to the presidential race. I mean, it's not clear to me that he's going to make it. I still predict that poll numbers are going to go much lower, and I predict that, like Lyndon Johnson, he'll --