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CNN NEWSROOM

Four Rescued from Capsized Ship; Homeless Numbers Rise in Bahamas; Sit Down with Justice Neil Gorsuch. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:31:53]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just a dramatic rescue off the coast of Georgia as the fourth and final crew member who was trapped on that overturned cargo ship is brought to shore.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. That's the moment there. Rescue crews from the U.S. Coast Guard say they heard tapping sounds from inside the ship. They then drilled a hole in the ship, right there, just big enough to pull out the crew members.

Let's go now to CNN's Natasha Chen. She is on St. Simon's Island where this took place, or just off where it took place.

Tell us about the condition of these four crew members after what had to be a frightful several days inside that ship.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim and Poppy, we're talking about 36 hours for the four of them inside.

We just got off the phone this morning with Southeast Georgia Health Systems, who confirmed that they do have, as of this morning, all four of those patients. We're still waiting on word of their conditions. But we know from the Coast Guard yesterday that when they were rescued, three out of the four of them were able to walk on their own. One of them did have to be rescued in a rescue bucket. But, of course, they said the four of them were elated when they were finally rescued and the Coast Guard says the expressions on their faces said it all.

HARLOW: What caused the ship to capsize? We talked to you yesterday.

CHEN: Yes.

HARLOW: And you just said at that point we didn't know, right? We didn't know if it was top heavy or what. Do they know any more this morning?

CHEN: Well, there are questions being raised about whether the vehicles that were being transported on this ship were properly latched down. And so I did speak yesterday afternoon with the COO of Hyundai Glovis, that's the company that owns this ship. They believe, the COO believes that rules were, in fact, followed to latch down those vehicles on board, but, of course, everybody is still waiting for this investigation to figure out what happened.

SCIUTTO: And now concerns about oil leaking from the ship. How concerned is the Coast Guard about that?

CHEN: Yes, Jim, so the Coast Guard, this morning, tweeted that there are no leaks coming from the vessel. So that's good news. But both they and the spill management team handling this situation say that there is a light sheen coming from the vessel. So that's a little bit of oil coming off the vessel. The team has been working to contain that.

Here is what Gallagher Marine Systems says are some of the risks considering where we are with the sound here.

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CHRIS GRAFF, GALLAGHER MARINE SYSTEMS: We know that there's manatees in the area. There's turtles -- nesting areas in the area. There's some bird activity in the area. All of those are concerns for us. So the environmental unit will make recommendations for operations on how to best clean an area, where to keep oil away from it, if we have to deflect the oil to a different area.

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CHEN: So right now the focus is on making sure there's not an environmental incident and, of course, the salvage team is going to figure out how in the world to right this 656-foot vessel and get it out of the sound. That is a process that is going to take quite some time. And right now the Coast Guard doesn't know how the salvage team is going to do it, but they will be supervising.

HARLOW: But at least they got everyone off. Our thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard.

CHEN: Yes.

[09:35:04]

HARLOW: Just amazing --

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Amazing work rescuing those four on board.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Natasha, great reporting. Thank you so much.

So, obviously, the rescuers were overjoyed when that last crew member was pulled out from the ship. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's amazing! The best day of my career because you guys did that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outstanding. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you guys! Whoo!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That was Captain John Reed (ph). He's the incident commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, who you heard in that video. And Captain Reed now joins us by phone.

Captain, first of all, congratulations to you and your team on a job well done.

You said it was the best day of your career. Tell us why.

HARLOW: Wow.

CAPT. JOHN REED, U.S. COAST GUARD (via telephone): Thank you very much, Jim. And good morning, Poppy.

I'll tell you, it was -- it's not always that you end up in a situation like that with such dire circumstances where people's lives are at risk and you're able to rescue them. And that wasn't all the Coast Huard there. We certainly were instrumental in coordinating the initial 20 with the air station out of Savannah. Their two helicopters, the boats out of Station Brunswick, CTO (ph) here in Brunswick, Moran Towing, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Those first 20 in the darkness of that night with the vessel on its -- turning on its side was amazing.

HARLOW: Wow.

REED: But that technical rescue team brought together by the salvage company really made that happen. And you talk about a hole, it wasn't -- it wasn't just a hole. They were -- the way they were working their way in there was drilling initial holes to get a camera in and then also working through, connecting three-inch holes to make a large enough hole to get teams inside to bring those guys out. And then to eventually get a team over to see and rescue that final person who was in the control room.

HARLOW: That's amazing.

Talk to us a little bit more about that, because as Natasha just reported, Captain, that your team heard like knocking, you know, in certain parts of the ship. Obviously the crew members that were trapped on board and that they knew where to go when they heard those noises?

REED: Yes, Poppy.

So that was great news when we found that out on Sunday evening and through Monday morning. They had been tapping through the night because earlier in the day on Sunday, there were not responses to the tapping. So I'm sure you can imagine there's only certain parts of the ship where you can actually get to the outer hull to be able to provide a response to what we were trying to communicate to them, that they were there, that we were working our best to stabilize the situation and to -- and to get to their rescue. And that team put together by Don John Schmidt (ph) and, you know, was -- was amazing. And those guys are global experts when it comes to this kind of -- you know, something you don't necessarily get to practice for and to be able to execute it in this way, managing certain risk to both the responders and to the men on board, just couldn't have come together any better.

HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: And the final rescue -- so someone who was trapped behind glass in an engineering control room, how did you manage to get to that person safely?

REED: Jim, the team actually had to -- that was quite a feat because you're going through vertical accesses that used to be passageways and working their way to this man, who they had to grind through a glass window that's meant to protect from fire and flame and explosions in an engine room to rescue that man. And they did so. And having to take breaks and come to fresh air, and that was part of that whole managing risk portion of it because we did not want to sacrifice a team of men to save a man who was in pretty stable condition for being in there for nearly 40 hours without food or water.

But that team did an amazing job. And I'm grateful for all the advice that was provided, for the outstanding team, and for just the attitude of teamwork among everyone.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, congratulations to you. We're happy it turned out. Thanks for the risks that you and your team took for this.

Captain John Reed of the U.S. Coast Guard.

REED: Thank you, Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course.

SCIUTTO: Confusion about just who is allowed into the U.S. is adding to the crisis for thousands of Bahamians trying to flee their hurricane--ravaged homeland. We're going to take you there on the ground once again.

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[09:44:35]

SCIUTTO: Now to the crisis in the Bahamas. It is continuing. Numbers show nearly 5,000 people have fled the island since Hurricane Dorian ripped through the country. Look at the devastation there. You can see why people talk about it. It looks like an atomic bomb was dropped. HARLOW: It does. It does. Unbelievable. That is a far cry from the

estimated 70,000 people who were left homeless by the storm. The official death toll, it now stands at 50, but we know that number is going to rise significantly.

[09:45:02]

Our Patrick Oppmann joins us again this morning. He remains in Freeport to cover all of this.

And, Patrick, one of the -- it was heartbreaking to watch that video yesterday of some of these people trying to just get to safety in the United States, get to relatives, and being told to get off of that ferry because they didn't have the proper visa documentation. I mean they are even Republicans in the Senate calling for this to change. Senator Rick Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, right, to allow them to come.

What is the latest for them?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest for them is, apparently, has been a misunderstanding between the ferry service and Customs and Border Protection. Who was really at fault, we don't know. But they've -- people have been told that if they have the correct documents, because Bahamians do not need visas, particularly now in a time of crisis, so they are able to come if they can show that they have -- they are Bahamians and that they have, as is required, no criminal history, which is something they can get here. So that is good news because so many people here have family in the United States who, of course, taking people in.

You know, go back to that number of 70,000 homeless. We're talking about a country of 500,000 people.

HARLOW: Right.

OPPMANN: So if that number is accurate, and we have no reason to doubt it, we're talking about 17 percent in a couple days of the population that is now without their homes. And so many other people here are living in homes that are not suitable to be lived in here in Freeport and in Grand Abaco.

We are still without power. Still without water. Makes it very, very difficult living conditions. To get gas can take all morning. To get food can take all morning. You know, there's a black market for bread now. And, you know, every little item that you can -- you know, we just all take for granted. There is -- you know, we worry about eating spoiled food because so many markets lost their generators. It is really tough conditions.

And, understandably, many people, particularly if they have small children -- you see so many people in those lines with small children -- they just don't want to risk it. They don't want to be living in the conditions that we are forced to live in right now.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, and the president claimed, without offering any evidence, that the -- those people fleeing, many of them are drug dealers, gang members, et cetera.

Patrick Oppmann, it's great to have you on the ground there.

HARLOW: Yes.

He and his team are doing just such a remarkable job.

SCIUTTO: Phenomenal. Phenomenal.

HARLOW: We're so lucky to have them there.

We'll keep on that story, we promise.

Coming up, a rare sit-down with a sitting Supreme Court justice. Our Arianna de Vogue sits down one-on-one with Justice Neil Gorsuch, his take on serving during the Trump era and why he's calling on all Americans to get involved in making a change in this country.

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[09:52:17]

HARLOW: All right, new this morning, a crucial new voice on the Supreme Court opens up in a very rare and revealing interview. For the first time we're hearing from Justice Neil Gorsuch.

SCIUTTO: He sat down with our Ariane de Vogue, who joins us now from Washington.

Ariane, remarkable access here.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Asked him some very direct questions.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. He talked broadly about the confirmation process, his judicial philosophy, even disagreeing civilly, maybe unlike the other branches of government.

But I really pushed him hard on President Trump's attacks on judges. Remember, last fall, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who had to issue that rare statement defending the judiciary. And, Gorsuch, he spoke very eloquently about the rule of law, the role of judges, but he declined to call the president out by name. And I also asked him about some of the comments the president makes on the campaign trail.

Take a listen.

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NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The rule of law in this country is strong. Strong and stable. And I'd say to anybody who questions what a wonderful inheritance we have in our courts and the rule of law in this country, go spend six weeks in a court in another country of your choice and come back and tell me what you think about our courts. DE VOGUE: I want to go back to the president, because he praised you

during 2017 at a campaign rally and he said something like, Neil Gorsuch, he'll save people's Second Amendment rights. But do comments like that, does that blur -- for the public, does it blur the lines between politics and the law?

GORSUCH: I'm not going to get involved in politics or political campaign rallies. That's not my business. My business is to make sure that your rights, all of them, are enforced.

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DE VOGUE: Right. And he has now written a book and the timing of this is interesting, right, because it comes just weeks before a block buster Supreme Court term is going to start. The Supreme Court is going to look at LGBT rights, the Second Amendments, even immigration, maybe even abortion and health care. And there are a lot of people who are thrilled to have him on the bench, but there are others who are worried, they're worried about five conservative members joining this court and they're worried about the direction that the court is going to take.

HARLOW: Sure.

DE VOGUE: But he says, look, that those are only a few, those 5-4 cases, that the court decide each year, so he's not worried.

Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Again, as Jim said, amazing access to him. We rarely see sitting Supreme Court justices talk to the media. What did he say about his judicial philosophy, Ariane?

DE VOGUE: Well, that's what's interesting because he's a solid conservative, right? He voted to allow the travel ban. He would have allowed a citizenship question on the census. He's following in the footsteps of Justice Anthony Scalia.

HARLOW: Yes.

[09:55:10]

DE VOGUE: He says he's an originalist. He thinks that you shouldn't -- judges shouldn't add rights that are not in the Constitution. But, keep in mind, his critics say that his vision of the law is outdated and they worry, they say, his philosophy writes certain groups out of the Constitution. And so that's the criticism against him. And he rejects it.

SCIUTTO: And I heard you press him, I mean him saying that 40 percent of the decisions are unanimous. But the fact is, on the key political questions, voting rights, gun control --

HARLOW: Abortion.

SCIUTTO: Census, you know, a whole host of these things that 5-4 line with five conservatives, four more liberal-leaning justices is pretty consistent.

Ariane de Vogue, it's great to have you on this. We know we're going to keep talking to you about this in the coming months.

HARLOW: Thanks, Ariane.

DE VOGUE: Thanks. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: I'm getting new details about the skepticism that President Trump has for using foreign spies to gather intelligence on America's adversaries. Also I have more reporting about the covert Russian informant extracted by the United States. Stay with CNN. We'll have those at the top of the hour.

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