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Trump Hosts Packed Event With Few Masks, No Distancing; Trump To Woodward: Nothing More Could Have Been Done; Interview With Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV); Manhunt Intensifies After Ambush Attack On L.A. Deputies; Mayor Aja Brown (D), Compton, CA Talks About The Manhunt On The Suspect For The Shooting Of Two Sheriff's Deputies; Nearly 90 Large Wildfires Ravage Western U.S., At Least 35 Dead As Trump Laughs Off Impact of Climate Change; Hurricane Sally Rapidly Intensifying, Taking Aim At Gulf Coast; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 14, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, reckless. The President risking the lives of his supporters, holding another crowded indoor event. His new audio tonight reveals the President says, "Nothing more could have been done when it comes to the pandemic."

Plus, a manhunt. Tonight, authorities ramping up their search for the person who ambushed to L.A. County Sheriff's deputies. The Mayor of Compton is OUTFRONT.

And the situation growing more dangerous by the minute in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Sally rapidly intensifying as it head straight for the Gulf Coast. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's disregard for human life. The President holding his second indoor event in two days, despite the objections from his own experts, going against the guidelines of his own team, his own taskforce, his own CDC.

This is the scene right now in Phoenix, Arizona. Hundreds of supporters inside a room, I'll emphasis inside, you can see it. You wouldn't know there was a pandemic, there's no masks, there is no social distancing. In fact, the chairs in the room are packed together. There is no space between them and no forced empty chairs to separate people.

The whole point of this event is actually to have a crowded room, one that would look like there is no pandemic. Everything is normal. Everything is circa January 2020.

In fact, the only person socially distanced is actually the President himself. A stark image showing a lack of care for his supporters. Now, the President claims that he has done everything in his power to stop the spread of coronavirus tonight. This is what he told veteran journalist Bob Woodward a month ago, actually August 14th, when more than 168,000 Americans had already died.


BOB WOODWARD, VETERAN JOURNALIST: It's going to be a contest between you and Biden. It's going to be a contest between both of you and the virus. The virus is set, because it's in real people's lives. All those 10s of millions of people who don't have jobs, who don't have ...


WOODWARD: ... that in - listen, I mean, you and I ...

TRUMP: But nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done.


BURNETT: That is not true. A lot more could have been done. And let me just explain it to you this way, this isn't just to talk about masks and what ifs. I want to show you the numbers, when it comes to deaths per capita, the United States much higher than Germany, France, Canada, Australia, South Korea. The list goes on and on.

In fact, South Korea actually reported its first cases of coronavirus to the WHO on the same day that the United States did. South Korea never completely shut down its economy all because the country ramped up testing and contact tracing. And, yes, mask use, universal.

South Korea has had 363 deaths. The United States nearly 200,000. On any absolute, any per capita basis, it's atrocious. So yes, the facts are a lot more could have been done. That is a fact. A lot more was done in other places and hundreds of thousands of lives were saved.

Even now, though, Trump is going ahead with rallies. There was a brief time it seemed maybe when his friend Herman Cain died of coronavirus, after he happened to attend Trump's Tulsa rally, that maybe Trump would change, that maybe it would hit home, but he did not.

And tonight, he's holding another indoor event on the heels of a crowded rally yesterday in Nevada. Now, that was in the City of Henderson where it was held. They said that the rally violated multiple state rules, social distancing violation, masks violation, more than 50 people in one place violation.

And then the President went out and attacked the State's Governor for not easing restrictions, calling him a political hack. Well, I'm going to talk to Gov. Steve Sisolak in just a moment. The only thing though that Trump appeared to care about that night is that he was safe.


TRUMP: No, I'm not concern. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the (inaudible) here?

TRUMP: I'm more concern about how close you are, because ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry about that.

TRUMP: .... because you know why, I'm on a stage that's very far away. And so I'm not at all concerned.


BURNETT: Tonight, so it's what he did with that laugh and everything. So all of the people are packed in and they're not wearing masks, they're not social distancing and he legitimately was like, I want you away from me. OK.

On top of those events that blatantly disregard the health of his supporters, the administration is constantly trying to undermine some of the scientists here. Michael Caputo is a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services. And he spent the weekend accusing the CDC of 'sedition and having a resistance unit' that's determined to undermine the President. Quotes he has formally confirmed making.

And this comes after a federal official tell CNN that Caputo and his team have been altering the CDC's weekly science reports.


Altering the CDC's weekly science reports so that they don't undermine Trump, so that they're consistent with Trump's message on the virus. It's a stunning thing. He's not a scientist, he's a spokesperson.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, again, the President tonight going to an event, packed people with no masks, no social distancing, indoors. Clear, he doesn't want to be close to people, but clear that when it comes to his supporters, the rules don't apply.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You notice when he's in that room tonight in Arizona, he's the only person not sitting near someone else. He's the only person who is actually distance from other people and he said the same thing about the rally in Nevada yesterday. And of course the concern is not just the President's health, but also those of the people who were there crowded around each other.

And the President also told that reporter from the Las Vegas Review- Journal that he didn't think the state restrictions in Nevada applied to him or to his campaign. Because, of course, the governor has said no more than 50 at a gathering indoors, they had way more than that.

And we asked the campaign who it was that told the President that those restrictions did not apply to them. Was it a local official or some other state official? And Erin, they did not get back to us and said they could not comment, because clearly that means someone has not told them that because if they had they would have cited them in that instance.

But it's really this overall picture of what a contrast the President's events right now are with Joe Biden's where the President has mocked him for having very few people, if any, at all, at a lot of his events. But also it comes as the President's own allies and advisors spent yesterday on the Sunday shows defending him by saying he was not publicly minimizing the coronavirus for the last several months in those interviews with Bob Woodward in January and February and March.

But Erin, we are watching him do it right now by holding these events and blatantly ignoring the advice that he has offered to the American people and that his own advisors and medical experts in his administration have also told people.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you.

And I want to go now to the Democratic Governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak. And Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

So you heard what the President told Bob Woodward. These are new tapes that we just got today. So I don't know if you'd heard it just before I played it to you. But saying there was nothing more could have been done, that's the direct quote. In August 168,000 people were dead, now nearly 200,000 people are dead.

His quote one month ago today, "Nothing more could have been done." Your reaction, Governor?

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D-NV): That's absolutely ridiculous. First off, he doesn't know how many people died. Yesterday at the rallies he said it was 180,000 several times. Apparently the other 15,000 people that have died don't matter to him.

I've been on weekly calls with the President's task force, with Vice President Pence, with the CDC, with FEMA literally begging for PPE, for test kits. Literally begging can you give us some transport materials, can you give us swabs, oh, you can have all you want, we've had an abundance, we've got too many, we can't get them so much more could have been done.

If there would have been an organized national response, we would have saved thousands and thousands of lives. But it wasn't important to the President, so he chose to just ignore it.

BURNETT: So I want to show you again, Governor, the pictures from the President's event that's happening right now as you and I are talking. So this is in Phoenix. You can see chairs packed together, indoors, no masks.

This is a an event no one would have any idea what's happening right now, except for I'm telling you it is happening right now. Let me ask you, Governor, why do you think the President is doing this? And by the way, he's very clear that he won't come near anyone, he does socially distance. He's doing this to his supporters. Go ahead. SISOLAK: Yes. He had a rally here with several thousand people

yesterday. He cared about himself being protected. He didn't care about the other thousands of people that were in there and the 3 million residents I have in the State of Nevada, that are potential having disease transmitted because of what he did he only cares about himself and he knows what the rules are.

This isn't he can't say he didn't know. He knew what the rules were. He chose to show callous disregard in a reckless, selfish, irresponsible way. There's no other way to put it. No other way to put it.

BURNETT: So let me ask you a little bit more about that rally in your state last night. You have a state order limiting gatherings to 50 people. I just went through in Henderson, he violated that. He violated masks. He violated social distancing, all of the ordinances.

The President tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he did not think he was subject to your limit on 50 people. Do you take that seriously that he said that? I don't know why, because he's the President that he's not subject to the rules, when your rules, actually just to be clear to anyone watching, follow what his task force and CDC say to do?

SISOLAK: I mean, that's just the ego and the arrogance. That's just a joke. We don't make laws and say they apply to everybody except Donald J. Trump. We just don't do things like that. It's absurd for him to think that the rules didn't apply to him, where he got that idea is beyond me. I think he just doesn't much care.


BURNETT: So after you stood up to him with your tweets and you came out and said that this was reckless and it was a disregard for life, he responded calling you a political hack. He again tell the last Las Vegas Review that he only held his indoor rally indoors after 'they canceled six different sites because the Governor wouldn't let it happen'.

All external sites, basically, implying you forced him inside and here's what one rally goer told CNN, Governor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gov. Sisolak doesn't seem to stop any of the protests, but he tried to put up a roadblock for this to occur. It's not right.


BURNETT: What do you say to that, to his supporters who think you were somehow trying to prevent him from holding any type of event in your state?

SISOLAK: We had no input on his rallies. He knows what the rules are the same as everybody else knows what the rules are. Thank goodness most people have chosen to follow the rules and comply with what the rules are. And so he's comparing this to a protest, he's like a little kid saying so and so did it, so I can do it too.

I wish that we didn't have large gatherings anywhere, whether they're on the Las Vegas Strip or it's a protest, or it's at one of his rallies. When people are together, medical science shows us that disease is transmitted. The justification of it's OK that I did it because somebody else did it, that just doesn't make any sense.

He's the President of the United States, he should be an example for everybody, not play to the lowest common denominator and that's what he's doing.

BURNETT: So you brought up the Las Vegas ...

SISOLAK: (Inaudible) denominator.

BURNETT: Let me you, you brought the Las Vegas Strip, so Richard Grenell, former Acting Director of National Intelligence and Ambassador Germany tweeted to you - this is his tweet, so 10s of thousands of people were on the Las Vegas Strip last night. You were silent. Stop the election interference. You are weaponizing your office by attacking the opposition.

What's your response to Ambassador Grenell? Basically calling you out for anyone being on the Las Vegas Strip.

SISOLAK: Well, first off, he's ridiculous. He doesn't understand there weren't 10s of thousands of people there. If they were, my economy would be buzzing like it was two years ago. There was nowhere near that value.

What we've done is all of the resort properties have done an incredible job. They are subject to the same restrictions that the President's rally was. The difference is the resorts and casinos follow those rules. And the President chooses not to.

When someone leaves the business and goes on to a public street, there's nobody enforcing it. We have enforcement inside of the businesses, the business' enforcement. When you get outside on the street, nobody is enforcing it and that's a problem for all of us, for every governor that's facing these situations.

You've just got a situation there where there are more people on that street area.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Governor, I appreciate your time and I thank you tonight for being with me.

SISOLAK: Thanks so much, Erin. I appreciate the opportunity to represent the folks of Nevada.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you. And I want to go now to Dr. William Schaffner, former CDC official and now a Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Good to have you back with me, Doctor. So let me give you a chance to respond to the President, nothing more

could have been done. He said one month ago today. As a doctor, what do you say?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, as a doctor and as a public health person, we know that more could have been done. If you have distinctive national leadership, a coherent plan, good communication, assuring personal protective equipment, assuring mask wearing all over the country, social distancing, modeling that for the country, giving that good support, putting the public health officials in the front and the politicians behind them supporting them, we could have done much, much better.

The other countries that have followed that plan, obviously, have succeeded. We have not, we are still struggling with our heterogeneous program with a lot of confusion among our citizens.

BURNETT: So I want to ask you, which I mentioned at the top of the program, about the CDC controversy. You used to work there. So now a federal health official tells us that Trump's communications team at the Department of Health and Human Services has pushed to change the language of the weekly science reports released by the CDC.

So the CDC comes out with weekly science reports and you have politically appointed people at HHS who are trying to adjust them to make them consistent with the President's comments on the virus. What do you think when you hear that?

SCHAFFNER: Well, of course, I was very disturbed. I've since learned that the people who run that program, who put out that bulletin have been in trench warfare with the folks in Washington. They have struggled and succeeded, I think, in maintaining the scientific integrity of those reports.


But that struggle continues and is totally inappropriate for Washington to try to influence this report, which has been a model of scientific rigor, accuracy and helpfulness to the point that countries all over the world have modeled their own reports on that. We in the medical profession and the general public look forward to this report every week. It gives us solid information.

BURNETT: So when you hear about the spokesperson, the person in charge there, Michael Caputo, that he's confirming that he said that there are people at the CDC who are engaged in sedition and that there's a resistance unit within the CDC, trying to bring down the President. You're saying that they are they're fighting for the scientific rigor that they believe and that I want to make this very clear, you think that they're winning, that we can trust what we're getting from them?

SCHAFFNER: We can trust what we're getting. These are professional people. They put their politics outside. They have no politics inside the CDC. They're just working on behalf of the American people.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Schaffner. It's good to see you.

SCHAFFNER: Good to see you. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, two Sheriff's deputies ambushed, hit point blank as they sat in their SUV in Compton, California. Tonight, a massive manhunt underway for the shooter in that horrific and unacceptable attack. Compton's mayor is my guest.

Plus, wildfires tearing across the West Coast, dozens dead as the President makes his first visit to the region, downplaying the threat.


TRUMP: It'll start getting cooler. You just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.

BURNETT: And Joe Biden tearing into the President for his handling of multiple historic crises facing this country.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Once again, he fails the most basic duty nation. He fails to protect us.



BURNETT: Tonight, the manhunt intensifying for the gunman who ambushed two L.A. County Sheriff's deputies shooting them as they sat in their SUV, critically injuring both. The Sheriff's Department releasing surveillance video of the shooting we're about to show you in a moment. It's a warning that it is disturbing. Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): This is the moment two Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies are bushed. The shooter walks up to their parked squad car and fires multiple times. Both are hit at point blank range outside of metro station in Compton.


SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: That was a cowardly act. The two deputies were doing their job, minding their own business and watching out for the safety of the people on the train and seeing someone just walk up and just start shooting on them, it pisses me off.


SIDNER (voice over): A 31-year-old mother and her 24-year-old partner are rushed to the hospital, both have only been on the force 14 months. And the sheriff says both were shot in the head. The female deputy was able to apply a tourniquet to her partner who was also bleeding from his arm. Miraculously, they both survived.

Outside the hospital, a small protest of just five people or so appears screaming at police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


SIDNER (voice over): One says he hopes for the death of the deputies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope they die (inaudible) ...


SIDNER (voice over): The protester holding the phone identifies himself as a member of L.A. African Town Coalition, a group not nationally known. Before he set out, he took to Facebook.


KEVIN WHARTON PRICE, LA'S AFRICA TOWN COALITION: ... have been like I've been depressed, but this right here lightens my heart, Because, you know, the Sheriff department has murdered too many of our brothers and sisters. As a matter of fact law enforcement throughout the country has murdered too many of our brothers. And so this is a start of retribution and then I think this is a very good start.


SIDNER (voice over): The Mayor of Los Angeles reacting strongly to his callous comments.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CA: There's no place in civilized society for anybody to draw an arm to shoot our law enforcement officers that put their lives on the line. And I won't ever let a couple of voices that not only are uncalled for, but it's important to say something like that.


SIDNER (voice over): Both President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden weighing in on the shooting. Trump expressed his outrage to supporters in Nevada on Sunday.


TRUMP: And you saw a video of that animal that went up to the car, did everybody see that? This animals goes up to the car, two unsuspecting fine people, there were fine people. I mean, they're in very grave condition, as you know. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER (voice over): Biden responded with this statement, "Acts of lawlessness and violence directed against police officers are unacceptable, outrageous and entirely counterproductive to the pursuit of greater peace and justice in America - as are the actions of those who cheer such attacks on. Those who perpetrate these crimes must be brought to justice and, if convicted, faced the full brunt of the law."


SIDNER: And we spoke to a member of the community here who's lived here his whole life and he said as a black business owner here, he says he absolutely is disgusted with hearing people say they hope that the deputies die. He says absolutely no one in this community truly believes that and they are praying for the deputies.

As for what is happening now with law enforcement, they are still in a major manhunt scenario looking for the person responsible for shooting these two deputies. They have just now ups the reward from $100,000 to $175,000 to anyone with information that leads to an arrest, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you. A horrific and evil act.

Now, OUTFRONT now the Mayor of Compton, Aja Brown. And Mayor Brown, thank you so much for your time. I just wanted to start by asking you what the latest is that you're hearing on the search for the gunman behind this horrific attack?

MAYOR AJA BROWN (D), COMPTON, CA: Unfortunately, not much is known at this time. The suspect has been described as being dark skinned by the sheriff's department ages 28 through 30. Very general description and from what I understand there has not been anyone identified as of today.

BURNETT: And how are the two deputies tonight?

BROWN: From what I understand, they're still recovering. They had surgery and they're still struggling for their lives at this time.

BURNETT: The Sheriff's Department tweeted that after they arrived at the hospital Saturday night, protesters were quoted - again, this is from what the Sheriff's Department said, "Blocking the entrance and exit of a hospital emergency room yelling 'we hope they die' referring to the deputies.


This is jarring and chilling. What do you say to anyone who did that?

BROWN: Justice devastating and we are obviously living in perilous times and we have to remember to have regard for humanity and life. And I understand that protesters feel that they aren't being heard, they feel that justice is not being served equally. We still have to still uphold respect for humanity and these officers, be it as it was, they weren't involved in any of the particular shootings that are still under investigation throughout the county.

We just have to ensure that we come together as a community and not inflict unnecessary violence on people that have no bearing on what's happening regionally.

BURNETT: So a journalist was arrested during these protests and in the video of the arrest, you hear her screaming repeatedly that she's with the local NPR radio station, which contradicts the Sheriff's Department statement that she did not identify herself as a member of the press and she claimed she was wearing her press ID around her neck, we're obviously not able to confirm that. What's your reaction to this?

BROWN: Unfortunately, I'm not surprised. We must hold the Sheriff's Department accountable for upholding basic rights and basic constitutional rights that we all have as individuals that the press has to be able to cover what's going on within our communities. It's disheartening and it's really something that must be addressed.

I'm hoping that leadership will address this travesty and that we can continue to ensure that the press is protected while they cover the instances that are occurring in our communities.

BURNETT: So Mayor, you refer to the deep distrust in your community with law enforcement, a long history of this. You actually have talked about your own experience being pulled over and searched by deputies just last year.

You're mayor, you're with your husband at the time and your infant daughter when this happened. Tell me about that moment and what you learned from it as you're going through this now.

BROWN: Unfortunately, it's not the first time that I've been racially profiled. It is one of the first instances that this has occurred while being mayor. But the biggest message that I have is that people deserve to have basic human dignity and rights just because we are driving within our vehicles, within our communities it does not give law enforcement the ability to violate our rights and that we can't continue to accept this unfair treatment for people.

It doesn't happen in other communities. It shouldn't happen in ours or with people of color. And this is a systemic issue. This is nothing new. This is something that people are willing to listen to at this time, because of all of the unrest and just chaos that's occurring because of not addressing the systemic issue of racism in our country. We do not condone violence against anyone as a means to atone of unfair practices or even the loss of life.

I mean, I know this is something that I'm sure the families that have lost their loved ones does not condone. I mean, it's something that is not a reflection of the Compton community. I've been Mayor for the last seven years and our crime is at all time lows. We have not experienced this type of incident within our community, but at the same time, we are living in extraordinary circumstances.

And my fear is that if we don't see justice, for people of color that more people will begin to take matters upon their own hands. And I think it's something that all people in leadership cannot turn a blind eye to. This is something that should be alarming and my hope is that the leadership within law enforcement, with the County of Los Angeles and our communities can come together and really put together a story on how we plan to address the systemic issues that are long standing in our communities.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Brown, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

BROWN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, deadly wildfires turning millions of acres along the West Coast into ash. The President today though literally laughed about the science of climate change.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science know it, actually.


BURNETT: Also, the Gulf Coast bracing for a dangerous hurricane that is rapidly intensifying category two now gaining strength.



BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump visiting California. You see him there. At least 2,000 people have been killed by wildfires in the state. Wildfires burning across the West Coast, including 3.3 million acres in California alone. Everywhere you see on that map.

Here is how President Trump reacted to climate change during his visit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it is all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. It'll start getting cooler. You just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows actually.


BURNETT: Scoffing at the science and laughing at the scientists.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is being called a once in a generation event. More than a dozen large fires burning in the state of Oregon. About an hour and a half south of Portland, the Beachie Creek Fire is devastating the area, signs melting, structures bent to the will of the flames.

This week alone, the governor says over a million acres have burned in Oregon. That's double the amount that burns in a typical year.


SAVIDGE: Seventy-year-old Kathie Tapia and her two cats have been in this Portland Red Cross shelter since Thursday when they were forced to evacuate their home.

TAPIA: The police came knocking at the door within two hours and said we needed to go now.


This is the worst experience, scary.

SAVIDGE: Half a million Oregonians living in what are now evacuation zones, tens of thousands of them have already been forced to flee and there are growing concerns that the death toll can rise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the truck that would have been down there.

SAVIDGE: Parts of Oregon's rural areas remain too dangerous to search for the nearly two dozen missing, like George Ataya (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His home was completely lost and his shop.

SAVIDGE: Scott Bogerty (ph), his friend of more than 20 years, says Ataya would have fought until the end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody could do it he could.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Do you think he is still alive out there?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Across the western part of the U.S., more than 80 major fires are burning. Smoldering structures left by this wildfire in Washington state. At least 35 people have now died in the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington this season. Twenty- four in California alone where resources are stretched.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really are a beast in their identity. They move at their own whim. They are terrifying and move extremely quickly. SAVIDGE: Three of the largest fires in California's history are still

burning. President Trump visiting today to get a fire briefing on the ground, against the back draft of thick smoke, he emphasized the need to strengthen forest management.

TRUMP: This is one of the biggest burns we've ever seen. And we have to do a lot about forest management.

SAVIDGE: An astonishing 3.3 million acres have charred in the state since the start of the year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom says climate change played a key role.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: It is self-evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this.


SAVIDGE: We are at a checkpoint on the outskirt of the town of Lyons trying to get in. We will eventually. We know the town has suffered considerably.

The good news is weather is improving and they've made progress, the firefighters have. Smoke is lifting. Winds have died down. Even rain in the forecast.

The problem with the rain, there's talk of lightning and high winds. Lightning, of course, starts the fires, and winds are what drive them. That could come later in the week. Recovery is still a long way off here in Oregon -- Erin.

BURNETT: Martin, thank you.

I want to go now on that report to the Democratic lieutenant governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis.

And I'm glad to have you back with me, although, Lieutenant Governor, I am very sorry about these circumstances.

I want to give you a chance to react to the president when he was meeting with officials, including your governor, Gavin Newsom. He said, it'll start getting cooler. You just watch, to which an official responds, I wish science agreed with you. The president replies, I don't think science knows, as he laughs.

Your reaction?

LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, Erin, thank you for doing this segment. That was very well-reported. It is devastating in our state right now.

Three of the largest fires in our history are burning at this moment. In this fire season, five of the 20 largest fires in our history have already burned, just this fire season. So, our heroic firefighters, our national guards members, our cooperation with federal agencies like FEMA and the U.S. Forest Service, everyone is working very hard. The weather does appear to be helping us out right now.

But it's a devastating time. And as the governor said, the facts are so clear. They have been so clear for so long. And now, we have this devastating evidence that it is the result of a warming planet that is creating the conditions for this devastation.

BURNETT: Now, President Trump has said that the reason for these wildfires is that basically that your state, California, has not allowed for managed forest burns over the years. And, you know, as opposed to climate change which he did scoff at.

Your governor, though, today did acknowledge this was an issue. Here's Governor Newsom.


NEWSOM: There is no question when you look past this decade and looking past almost a thousand plus years, that we have not done justice on our forest management.


BURNETT: Does President Trump --


BURNETT: -- have a point that this is part of the problem?

KOUNALAKIS: So you have to manage your forests well. More than half of our forests in California are actually national forests. So, it is up to the federal government to manage them.

We have concluded that the management that's done of state forested areas is more robust than what the federal government is doing.

So, we welcome the aid. We welcome the partnership. Let's get together and work toward that goal.

But it is so far beyond forest management. Just to give you an idea, because of the change in climate, we've had a massive infestation of pine bark beetles over the last few years in our state. That in addition to other drought induced die offs have produced about 150 million dead trees in California.

This is the largest die-off in recorded history, some experts are saying.


So this is not just a matter of sweeping the forest ground as Trump likes to say. No. This is really a lot bigger than that.

And the equipment that we're going to need, the ability to create massive fire breaks is going to be very important. You know, we've had fires now jump across six lane freeways. We have fires that burn with the intensity of winds that create their own weather systems. We've had fire tornadoes and dry lightning strikes. Things we've never seen before.


KOUNALAKIS: There are stories of embers that travel many miles and start new fires.

So, the magnitude of what we're dealing with is simply not going to be solved by Donald Trump's suggesting that we should just be managing the forest better. No. There is much more that has to be done.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, lieutenant governor. Thank you.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you.

And, Erin, if I can just add -- for anyone out there who's watching, if you get a call to leave your home and evacuate, please do it. We have already lost 24 people to this devastation and there are sites online telling people not to leave that it's a hoax. If you get that call, please do evacuate along with your neighbors.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you. I hope people will heed that.

And breaking news now, Hurricane Sally rapidly intensifying into a powerful category 2. The Gulf Coast now bracing for the storm which could make landfall now in just about 24 hours from when I speak.

Tom Sater is OUTFRONT in the weather center.

So, Tom, what is the latest that you're seeing in terms of the strength and the path where it will strike?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I tell you what. If I may, oblige me if you will, Erin, let me start with this, because this is something you just don't get to see, five named storms. This has only happened once since records started in 1851, 49 years ago, 1971.

Paulette moved right over Bermuda. They named Teddy. They named Vicky. There is only one name left on the list of hurricanes for this year, Wilfred. And we're only half way through the season. Get ready for the Greek alphabet hurricanes, alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, and so on and so forth.

We knew Sally was going to increase in strength but it did so rapidly today. We knew it was going to put on the brakes. It also did that much earlier. The two, a combination of these events are going to be staggering for the Gulf coastal states. I cannot say this enough. Now because of slowing down, and it is going to start to even slow down more, you'll be able to out walk it, two, three miles per hour. What we thought would be a landfall after midnight tonight could be sometime tomorrow night or after midnight tomorrow night, it's even possible sometime on Wednesday.

New Orleans is looking better now. That's bad news though for areas of Pascagoula, for areas of Biloxi. Again, I really think Mobile Bay is going to have a terrible surge. The worst part of parts of Louisiana will be the surge, Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish.

But with the system stalling for a good 24 hours ongoing rainfall with a surge keeping all of that rain that falls inland, not allowing it to recede, is going to create catastrophic flooding. 10, 20 inches at least. But we're still not sure when exactly it moves in. But it's coming.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. We'll watch that and as you said the other four storms.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, as the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Sally, you're going to see how one woman is trying to save people from losing everything.

And Trump trying to paint Joe Biden as soft on crime. Will it work?



BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump claiming at a Latinos for Trump event that Joe Biden is a threat to law enforcement and the safety of the country.


TRUMP: You see what happens with the antipolice rhetoric from that whole group of Democrats and their supporters. They're endangering our law enforcement.

Biden is not a strong person. Never was a strong person. In primetime he wasn't any good. Let's face it.

And this is not primetime for him. This is not primetime. But he'll surrender your entire country to the radical left.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Amy Klobuchar. She's the Democratic senator from Minnesota and a former 2020 presidential candidate who is now supporting Joe Biden.

Senator, I appreciate your time. I'm glad to speak with you again.

So, tonight, I want to talk about this issue because, you know, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have spent a lot of time hitting the president on his response to coronavirus, right? That had been their main focus.

Do you think they need to pivot to talk now more about other issues? Like what has happened in Compton, like law and order and the unrest taking place across the country?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): They have been doing that with one simple argument that really puts it all together. And that is, are you truly more safe in Donald Trump's America? Look at the facts. You just saw California and Oregon, big chunks of

our country ablaze because they didn't do anything about climate change. The pandemic, you know, I have to visit my dad when he got COVID at age 92 through a glass window never knowing if I was going to see him again. So many Americans had that same experience or worse.

And then you go to the crime issue that he appears to be making the closing argument are his presidency when in fact he is the president. This is happening under his watch.

So you can make that argument as one but I think it is also important and this is now the closing months of the campaign, people want to know what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to do. And they've been laying that out there from the Build Better Plan for America, to the work that needs to be done to help people with child care from the very beginning.

And I think the debates will give them an opportunity to do that. And I think the results are there. They're ahead. They're ahead big time in my state.

BURNETT: OK. So, let me ask you about that, because you have a very fair point when you -- when you make the very obvious point, but sometimes -- sometimes you've got to state the obvious, right?


Which is that this is all happening -- oops! It looks like we just lost her shot.

So, give me a second here while we decide what we're going to do. Let's see if we can get her right back.

All right. Here is what I'm going to do because I don't want to waste your time and we have limited time. I'm going to take a break. When we come back, I want to continue this important conversation with Senator Klobuchar.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Senator Klobuchar is back with me.

And, Senator, I know we don't have a lot of time. But I started these questions, you were saying how -- Joe Biden is ahead in your state. We were talking about law and order.

So, there are a couple swing state polls, "The New York Times" has and Siena College, voters believe law and order is just as important as the pandemic in your home state of Minnesota, also in Wisconsin and New Hampshire. And law and order beats the pandemic by 13 percentage points in Nevada where, of course, they currently have a Democratic governor.

So, it seems from this that team Trump may really be winning on this issue and this issue is very important. Do those polls worry you?

KLOBUCHAR: No, because the bottom line is in all those states, at least by Nevada and New Hampshire and Minnesota and Wisconsin, Joe Biden is ahead, and he made it very clear in his beautiful speech in Pittsburgh that yes, we must have police reform. I mean, there's general agreement on that in America.

But that looting is not peaceful protests. Setting fires is not peaceful protests. That that's lawlessness and it must be prosecuted and he's made that clear.

So I think that when you look at it overall, the question still comes down to this is under Donald Trump's watch. We need a new president that's not only going to unite our country and stop these divides and try to put wedges between people like he does every single day. That is exactly what Donald Trump does.

So we can tackle these big challenges and get the testing out and get the equipment that we need and get people back to work and I can tell you in the Midwest what we believe. And that is people work really hard and they need a president and a government that has their back.


That is not Donald Trump.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Klobuchar, thank you for your time. I'm glad we got to speak, albeit briefly, despite the technical issues. We'll talk to you again soon, and thanks.

KLOBUCHAR: I'll come back again, thank you.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you.

And tonight, as the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Sally, I want to bring you the story of a woman who wants to save people from losing everything in a storm. She's building a kind of storm-proof home that has already been changing lives and she's one of the champions for change whose stories we're going to be bringing you-all week.

Take a look.


CARLA GAUTIER CASTRO, FOUNDER, KONTI DESIGN BUILD STUDIO: Hurricane Maria changed everything for everyone here in Puerto Rico. There were about 70,000 homes destroyed. Some had no roof and some only just had a toilet left standing.

We don't have to live this way. My mission is to build homes that are earthquake-proof and hurricane-proof. My company is challenging the way we look at construction. We're using shipping containers as a base structure.

I'm a third generation architect. My grandfather and my father are both architects. They've always taught me that being part of a community and helping out that community is actually really important.

Some days after Hurricane Maria, I joined FEMA to work as a construction inspector. I remember this one case, this lady came in to us and we couldn't find the house. We realized that we couldn't find the house because there was absolutely nothing left.

The desperation in that woman's face was just -- I'm just never going to forget it. The name of my company is called Konti Design Build Studio. In Spanish, it actually combines into many phrases. For example, the word Konti which means with you, as in you can take your home with you.

These actually look really good. And then we go inside. So there is no holes on the roof. There is no holes on the walls. It's a really beautiful container. It's a beautiful future home.

The first Konti home was built in Vieques, which is an island off the coast of Puerto Rico and one of the worse off communities after Hurricane Maria.



CASTRO: When I come visit Mildred and Amador who are the owners of this house, it just makes me feel so happy to see that this couple is actually able to get their dream because it was more cost effective and faster. It's probably one of my proudest moments.

LUIS AMADOR, HOMEOWNER (through translator): I open those doors and I'm in paradise. It was our dream, to have something that is ours. And we achieve it. At first, we didn't have a lot of faith but she fought for us to build.

MILDRED DIAZ, HOMEOWNER (through translator): Vieques lives with her hair standing on end waiting to see if we will get hit by another hurricane. This is the best option.

CASTRO: Almost three years after Hurricane Maria, the island is experiencing a string of earthquakes. In the south part of the island, this has left some homes and businesses uninhabitable. The nonprofit, Americas for Conservation and the Arts, is using one of our homes as a health command center, in order to be able to distribute supplies and aid to the people that have been affected by the earthquakes.

Communities have gathered together and built camps where they're sleeping in tents in open spaces.



LUZ MARIA MORALES VARGAS, EARTHQUAKE VICTIM: I lost everything. Got to get up again. I hope to God.

CASTRO: The median income in Puerto Rico is about $20,000, when the average home cost about $100,000. The math just doesn't add up. Our Konti one model goes for about half the price of the average home in Puerto Rico and we can also make homes completely off grid.

The ultimate goal is to be able to produce 100 units a month. We can really use these houses for disaster relief. We can use if for refugee camps. But the best part is, we want to produce them here in Puerto Rico and ship them around the world.


BURNETT: And we're going to be bringing you these incredible stories throughout the week on our show, and other shows here on CNN, leading up to a special event "Champions for Change", a one-hour special hosted by my friends Alisyn Camerota and John Berman this Saturday at 10:00 Eastern.

Thanks so much for all of you joining us tonight.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.