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Trump Shows Altered Map of Hurricane Trajectory; Myrtle Beach Feels Effects of Dorian; Coast Guard Helps in Bahamas; Biden Looks at Fundraiser's Fossil Fuels Background. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 5, 2019 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so millions are still up and down the East Coast bracing for what Hurricane Dorian will do next. The president, meantime, is again this morning insisting the state of Alabama was in danger. In an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, he showed a map of Dorian's path. The map from the National Hurricane Center, though, had a small addition to it in Sharpie. It's this part in black showing the storm potentially affecting a section of Alabama.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: So the president claimed that the map was the original forecast, but a similar image released by the White House itself last week, along with data from the National Hurricane Center, contradicts that statement. Pretty clear terms there. Look at one with the Sharpie, one without the Sharpie.

Joining us now, CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns and CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Joe, you've covered this White House for a long time here and it's not the first time we've seen sort of a back filling by White House officials of a presidential claim. Are they telling you with a straight face that there's facts to back this up?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They're not telling us any more than the president has said. And you know that sort of follows a pattern that occurs here at the White House. The president will say something or the president will say he wants something and then people here at the White House or other aides will try to fill in the facts, which, of course, is a significant problem.

I also have to point out that the question of the Sharpie, as many Americans know, the president has used Sharpies or markers repeatedly to sign documents in public and then show them off, executive orders and what not.

Now, this issue has certainly been picked up on Twitter and others as something very funny, but can also be viewed as something very serious. Here we have a national emergency, an enormous hurricane coming up the coast of the United States. And multiple times, we're about up to five, the president has asserted, or either reasserted or tried to prove something he said simply wasn't true. And that's the case, of course, with this morning and the tweets.

Let me just read you the tweets that the president put out this morning.

Now, in the early days of the hurricane once predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, he goes as certain models suggested, Alabama and Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida to the Gulf. He goes on, instead it turned north and went up the coast, where it continues. In one model, through Florida, the great state of Alabama would have been hit or grazed.

Now, it's important to point that out, because when you look at the models, there was certainly a possibility at one point of just one corner of Alabama being grazed. But what the president showed on that map with the marker essentially points out that the president was suggesting that all of Alabama could have been swallowed, and that's certainly not a fact.

Back to you.

HARLOW: OK, Joe Johns, thank you for that.

Let's go to our Allison Chinchar now, our meteorologist, to help explain why that is simply not a fact.


ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so I mean if I asked any one of you to interpret this map behind me, a lot of you would struggle. And it's not a knock on your intelligence level, it's just simply because these are meant to be used by professional meteorologists for a reason. They're very difficult to look at and understand what's on them.

This is the map that the president tweeted. And I would like to note that the official National Hurricane Center track is within this. It's the red line with the red circles there that you can see.

But, again, it's hard to even see that amongst all of these countless lines that are in here, which is why they have the disclaimer at the bottom, National Hurricane Center advisories supersede this product. If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product.

That's why the National Hurricane Center takes a look at those. They try to condense that many lines into the ones that they tend to think are more reasonable. They will throw out the erroneous ones. They take into account the ones that have a higher resolution. And you end up with a map that looks more like this. And notice, none of these. This was from the same time that that original tweet was referencing. Look how fewer it is. It's much easier to read. And none of them, by the way, go to Florida.

But also another thing to note is that the president tweeted out a graphic that was several days old. It was nowhere near the most recent map. This should have been the one that he did tweet out. This, by the way, even only has one left hitting Florida, let alone Alabama.

So it all comes back to messaging. This is why the National Hurricane Center does not use spaghetti plots to tweet out. They tweet something like this, which is much easier for people to understand and know where the track is going to go, which is why we always tell viewers to trust the National Hurricane Center to get their track information from.


HARLOW: Hear, hear to that. Allison Chinchar, that is why we're glad we have you. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: And, listen, it matters, too, because it speaks to where you allocate resources, right?


SCIUTTO: And also how -- what the residents do in response. So if it's really coming, they've got to know. And if it's not, to say it's not coming.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Seems simple.

Anyway, power outages, tornado warnings, nearly two feet of rain possible in just one day today as Hurricane Dorian makes its slow crawl up the South Carolina coast. Ahead, a live report from Myrtle Beach where a typically busy tourist area today looks more like a ghost town.



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We are live here in Charleston, South Carolina, where, just as you can see, another gust of wind coming through from Hurricane Dorian.

I do want to update you on some good news. There are about 200,000 people out of power in the state of South Carolina when we came to you at the top of the hour. That number is down to 75,000. So that's something positive to focus on.

But just about 100 miles up the coast from me, it's where we find CNN's Rosa Flores, who is in Myrtle Beach.

And I know you're starting to feel some of these effects as well and there are concerns there, Rosa, about tornados.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the worst of conditions here, Erica, are expected to be felt here in Myrtle Beach at about 6:00 p.m. Why 6:00 p.m.? Well, because that's when Myrtle Beach is supposed to be closest to the eye. You can see right now that we are getting one of the outer bands of Hurricane Dorian. Earlier today sustained winds have been at about 17 miles an hour. At this hour we're seeing gusts of up to 33 miles an hour.

Now, I believe you asked me about a tornado, a possible tornado that hit north of here in north Myrtle Beach. According to the fire department there, they are assessing the damage currently. There is damage to vehicles and buildings. But there are no reported injuries.

Now, if you look around me you'll see that we're getting hit with pretty high winds right now. And if you look at the ocean, this is what we've been seeing all morning long. The ocean has been very rocky. The winds have been picking up.

Now, one of the biggest concerns for the mayor of this city is the storm surge. We're expecting storm surge of four to eight feet. On top of that, high tide is at about 1:30 this afternoon. And on top of all of that, there are about four to eight inches of rain that are expected. So that's a huge concern here in Myrtle Beach.

The good news, of course, is there -- there are municipal, county and state resources that are on standby. There are more than 1,600 members of the National Guard that have been activated, that have been strategically placed along the coast to make sure that these men and women can respond in cases of emergency.

But, Erica, you and I know that when those conditions deteriorate to a certain point, those brave men and women can't go out and rescue people. That's why those evacuation orders have gone out early here in Horry County. All of the coastal areas of zone a is under a mandatory evacuation. And if you look around me, you'll know exactly why, because these conditions continue to deteriorate and the worst of the worst, again, we're expecting, here in Myrtle Beach, is at about 6:00 p.m. when the eye will be closest to this area.


HILL: So you still have a number of hours to go. We should point out, while we're getting some of the worst of the worst right now in Charleston, we do know from our team in the CNN Weather Center, Poppy, that this is going to be an all-day event.


HILL: So even when it may seem like it's letting up a bit, there is still a lot of rain and a lot of wind to come.

HARLOW: I mean we can barely see you and Rosa and the waves like from the pool, Erica, where Rosa is are coming out of the pool. It's amazing to see these pictures.

Thank you for being there. We'll get back to you very soon.


SCIUTTO: Well, you've seen those devastating pictures from the Bahamas. So many people in need of rescue there. So, who's on the ground helping? The U.S. Coast Guard. It's conducting rescues across the devastated islands. And joining us now on the phone is Captain James Passarelli, who is chief of staff for the Coast Guard's Seventh District, which covers the area of the Bahamas.

Captain, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

CAPT. JAMES PASSARELLI, CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. COAST GUARD SEVENTH DISTRICT: Good morning, Jim. Thanks for having us on the air.

SCIUTTO: So, over the last couple of days, you managed to rescue more than 140 people. And we've seen some powerful pictures of your teams doing this and people in great need. Do you have -- do you have a sense of how many more people there are in need of rescue now?

PASSARELLI: Well, Jim the devastation from a cat five hurricane, especially one that parks over the same spot for about 36 hours, can be pretty devastating. It was a very compact storm, so we do see differences depending on where you are on the Abacos or on Grand Bahama Island as to how extensive the damage was.

We've seen completely devastated areas that you've seen, obviously the photos. But then we had our first looks into Freeport on the south side of Grand Bahama, which were far better than we expected.


So the devastation is pretty widespread and different depending on where they were actually on the island.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Now, do you -- do you have any sense of how many folks are still left behind? How many days are you going to be at this getting people to safety?

PASSARELLI: Well, Jim, we'll be there as long as the government of the Bahamas wants us there. Obviously we're poised and ready to respond in the Carolinas as well. That's a top priority for us as well. We've got folks staged to respond there. And we'll respond in the Bahamas as long as they need us.

Most of the operations to date have been relocating and transporting the critically injured to a higher level medical care. Most of that has been on the island of New Providence in the city of Nassau. But the government of the Bahamas is trying to re-establish some infrastructure on the islands of Abacos and Grand Bahama and get medical supplies and the basic needs for their folks up there. So it's a big effort between us. We've got our partners from Homeland Security and DEA helping us and then DOD as well.

SCIUTTO: Now, as we've been speaking to you, captain, we've been showing some of your rescues, but also just the devastation. It reminds me, frankly, of the images you saw after the tsunami in Asia in the mid-2000s.

As your teams have come back, do you have a sense of when places like Abacos Islands are going to be livable again? PASSARELLI: I don't. I really can't speculate on that right now.

Again, our emergent priority is to -- is to get the critically wounded out and help the government of Bahamas get the infrastructure back up so it's safe, sanitary and livable for -- at least on a temporary basis, for those folks.

Again, everybody who -- who was exposed to the elements and to those conditions can become a medical case quickly. So we're working really hard to try and help the government get those supplies in there. And the majority of the real relief supplies are going to come in via ship. So we're working with them also to help get their ports open.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, you make a good point, one thing is to survive the storm and then it's to survive the aftermath.

Listen, we know your teams are facing risks there. There are power lines, et cetera. So thanks to your teams there. And we're going to continue to cover all the great work you're doing.

Captain James Passarelli.

PASSARELLI: Well, thank you, Jim. We've got some of the best Americans in the country doing this mission. They're incredibly dedicated, and they're ready to respond 24/7. So thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Keep them safe.

Thank you, sir.

HARLOW: Wow, they certainly are. Thanks to all of them.

OK, so ahead, last night hopefully you didn't miss it, hours and hours of CNN's town halls exclusively focused on the climate crisis. Democrats shared their plans to fight it. But former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to be caught off-guard by one question about one of his fundraisers connections to the fossil fuel industry. We'll have more on that, next.



HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

So, clearly, Hurricane Dorian is putting another spotlight on the potential effects of the climate crisis right now and the search for answers certainly continues. Last night, ten Democratic presidential contenders took part in CNN's unprecedented climate change town hall.

SCIUTTO: One by one they laid out their plans to combat what they and, we should note, scientists call a legitimate existential threat.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are fighting for the survival of the planet earth, our only planet. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to think

about the whole world.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of us are basically using the same language. We're talking about existential threat. We're talking about urgency. We're competing over which one of our target is more accurate. But the fundamental question is, how are we actually going to get it done?


SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Jessica Dean joins us now.

Jessica, there was a surprising moment for the frontrunner, Joe Biden, make aware of his own fundraisers links to fossil fuels, of course, relevant to the climate debate. How did that go down?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning to both of you.

Well, an audience member who is a member of the Sunrise Movement, actually, asked Joe Biden about a fundraiser that's scheduled for tonight. And there is a man named Andrew Goldman who was an adviser for Biden back in his Senate days and who co-founded an energy company.

Now, he said -- the campaign says he's not involved in day-to-day. He's simply a co-founder. The Sunrise Movement really sees him as someone who's involved in the fossil fuels industry and, thus, that it's a conflict and it violates that no fossil fuel money pledge.

Take a listen to the exchange.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I didn't realize he does that. I was told, if you look at the SEC filing, he's not listed as one of those executives. That's what we look at, the SEC filings, who are those executives. I've kept that pledge. Period.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So was that -- are you going to look at that fundraiser tomorrow night or --

BIDEN: I'm going to look at what you just told me and find out if that's accurate, yes.


DEAN: And, again, Sunrise Movement calling for Biden to cancel that fundraiser this evening. The Biden campaign saying, as you heard the vice -- the former vice president say there, that they've looked at it, they really don't feel like this matches up with being a fossil fuel executive because this person is not involved in the day-to-day operations of this company.

Poppy and Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jessica Dean, thanks very much.


Hurricane Dorian, it's moving up the Carolina coast. It's a category three storm -- that is no small thing -- bringing with it heavy rains, high winds and flooding to many areas of Charleston. We're live on the ground.