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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Hurricane Center; Near Worst-Case Scenario For Tampa Could Be First Direct Hit In More Than 100 Years; Meadows' Text Link White House With Pro-Trump Operative Behind Plans To Seize Voting Machines; Resistance To Ukraine Draft Sweeps Russia; NASA Slams Spacecraft Into Asteroid For Planetary Defense Test; One Of The Last Patients To Receive Abortion In Arizona Shares Her Story; More Than 19,000 Residents Evacuated In Western Cuba Ahead Of Hurricane Ian. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 26, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And finally, tonight the massive price tag for Biden's student debt relief package of $400 billion. That is the new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office's which did an analysis. The White House had estimated just last month that it would cost about $24 billion a year to cancel up to $20,000.00 of student debt for certain borrowers.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: "Just leave now." A warning from the Mayor of Tampa, Florida as Hurricane Ian and grow stronger and moves closer to bringing with the head of the National Hurricane Center calls a near worst-case scenario for that city.

John Berman here, in for Anderson, and there you see it, a major storm heading for the Tampa area that could deliver the first direct hit there in a century, then not move for nearly two full days.

Already people in waterfront areas have an order to leave, the local Sheriff is warning anyone who defies the order and stays, you're on your own.

We've just received a new advisory from the National Hurricane Center. CNN's Tom Sater is in the Weather Center with the very latest, the new advisory, what does it say, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, John, we don't have much in the way of changes except the pressure is dropping, and it usually takes a while when that pressure drops, the storm gets stronger. So, what we're going to notice here is even though the winds have not changed still 100 mile per hour sustained winds, they will start to increase now greatly. When that pressure drops equivalent to a stronger wind pattern.

In fact, these are just heat engines. They feed on that warm water. That warm water then as it rises up change into kinetic energy and goes to wind. Now, we're about 130 miles from a landfall in Cuba, typically interaction with a landmass we'll break it down. We do not expect that to happen.

This already underwent a rapid intensification and it will do it again. Category 4. Last time we had a Category 4 pass this close to Tampa was in 1950. So, there are a lot of people who have never been through something like this. And even though, John, it goes from 4 to a Category 1, pay no attention to that. That's just the winds.

Think of Katrina. It was a Category 5, well off shore. It didn't make landfall in Louisiana as a 5, but it carried that Category 5 surge with it. Superstorm Sandy wasn't a hurricane when it made landfall, but it carried that Category 3 surge inland.

So therefore, we've got our Hurricane Warning now, which means from the Tampa area southward, we will see hurricane conditions in the next 24 to 38 hours. Now again, we're waiting for these models to update, but the European and the American model are now joining hands and are almost exactly alike.

Here is the problem, John, we're watching that five to ten-foot storm surge in the Tampa Bay area and points southward, but really from Cedar Key all the way down south of Inglewood, we are talking five to eight feet.

This is all about water. It's about the surge and the water just hour after hour, just pummeling this area up into every bay, every inlet. And then on top of that, you drop a good, you know, ten, twenty inches of rainfall. That's going to be staggering for many areas.

BERMAN: That's right. People don't need to pay as close attention to the category of the storm, which is windspeed, pay attention to the storm surge, pay attention to the rainfall. It is the amount of water that could be lethal and storm surge kills more people in hurricanes than anything else.

SATER: Absolutely. It is a problem --

BERMAN: Where do you think I am sorry. Sorry, Tom, at this point, where do you think -- where is it pointing, the storm?

SATER: Right now, it is going to hover about 25 miles off the coast of the bay. The worst possible position. If we can get this eye to jog a little bit, like we had with Irma. Irma was heading up toward Miami, and everybody left the State and you know, went off to the West Coast. But then it jogged a little bit and went in toward Marco Island, so everybody had to come back. So it can change a little bit.

But if it parks itself, and it looks like it may slow down, maybe to a crawl two or three miles per hour, think of Harvey in Texas, dropped forty, fifty inches. If it sits there, it's hour after hour, thirty- six, forty-eight hours of throwing this water well into every inlet, every canal, every channel, and not just right on the coastline. We're talking a mile or so in.

Developers off of the last several decades have grabbed every sand dune, every orange grove, and had put high value real estate here. So, this is a very vulnerable spot. Now, even if you look at some of these areas, of course getting up

over nine, ten feet That's staggering. There are churches, hospitals, MacDill Air Force Base will probably flood, a runway at the airport at Tampa International, but even down to Port Charles, you're going into Port Charlotte, you're going into Charlotte Harbor, this is the Peace River that is several miles inland. We're looking at nine to ten feet and homes line every one of these waterways.

So, it's significant to say the least.

BERMAN: Yes, 10 feet of water right on top of where people live, which could be lethal.

Tom Sater, thank you so much for that and we're going to watch the storm throughout the hour and bring you a live report from Cuba that Tom just mentioned, a bit later.


Now, we have multiple new developments with less than two days to go until Wednesday's House January 6 Committee hearing. There are the text messages obtained by CNN connecting then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, with a key player in the scheme to seize voting machines. There is also new footage of the former President's longtime ally, Roger Stone, a day before the 2020 election saying: "Eff the voting. Let's get right to the violence."

CNN's Sara Murray has more on both stories and joins us now. So Sara, let's start with this documentary footage of Roger Stone. What can you tell us about that?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, John, as you said, you know, this was a day before the 2020 election. Roger Stone is, of course, a longtime key ally of the former President. He pretty much makes it clear in this footage shot by documentary filmmakers that he doesn't feel the need to wait until the votes are tallied. Here's a look at what he said in this footage.


ROGER STONE, ALLY TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Come on. [Bleep] to the violence. Let's get right to the violence. Shoot to kill. See an Antifa, shoot to kill. [Bleep] them. I am done with this bullshit.


MURRAY: So, this was one of the clips that was obtained by CNN, but of course it was also shared with the January 6 Committee. You know, we know that they have been looking into Roger Stone's alleged ties to domestic extremist groups. We may see some of this coming through in their Wednesday hearing.

You know, they've also been looking at efforts that Roger Stone made to try to keep Donald Trump in the White House. We also got a lengthy statement from Roger Stone, so bear with me for this. He said: "I challenge the accuracy and the authenticity of these videos. I believe they have been manipulated and selectively edited. I also point out that the filmmakers do not have the legal right to use them. How ironic that Kim Kardashian and I are both subjected to computer manipulated videos on the same day." I'll let our viewers go down that rabbit hole on their own.

He continues to say: "The excerpts you provided below prove nothing. Certainly, they do not prove I had anything to do with the events of January 6th. That being said, it clearly shows I advocated for lawful congressional and judicial options."

So that is Roger Stone's take on these videos. But again, as I said, you know, there are this clip and others that the January 6 Committee has obtained.

BERMAN: So there is that Sara, then there are these text messages between them White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and this pro- Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines. What's going on there?

MURRAY: That's right. You know, this was a guy, Phil Waldron. He is a retired Army Colonel, but perhaps more importantly, he has been this big promoter of election conspiracies.

And he, you know, has promoted this effort to try to seize voting machines. The goal, of course, was to try to find evidence of these baseless claims of voter fraud. They've been peddled by the Trump team. So these texts obtained by CNN are from December 2020, and they really show that Waldron is keeping Meadows, then the White House Chief of Staff, in the loop about his efforts to try to access these voting machines.

So at one point, you know, he is texting Mark Meadows to essentially lament the fact that, you know, an Arizona lawsuit they tried to bring had been dismissed by a Judge. This was a lawsuit where they were trying to force State officials to hand over the voting equipment, again, so that they could go through this voting equipment and you know, find some kind of evidence to back up these allegations of voter fraud they were making.

And Meadows response and he says, "Pathetic," and that's what you can see in these text messages sort of Meadow sharing in this frustration that Phil Waldron is laying forth about his inability to try to get to these voting machines -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Sara Murray, thank you for your reporting on multiple fronts.

Some perspective now on the Meadows story from someone who once held his job, Leon Panetta served as White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration, followed by Defense Secretary and CIA Director in the Obama White House.

Secretary Panetta, very nice to see you.

As someone who had this job, what goes through your head when you see that Mark Meadows was communicating at a minimum, communicating perhaps indulging a conspiracy theorist about attempts to gain access to voting systems?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, it just adds to the evidence that Mark Meadows was obviously trying to find ways to implement President Trump's desire to be able to set aside the election results and have him be able to be elected.

So, what you're picking up here are all of the text messages that Mark Meadows was involved with, with all kinds of shady characters and obviously, Phil Waldron is one of those who was basically involved in theories related to election machines that were out there.

And, you know, it just shows that the level of desperation, I think, to try to see if they could find any way to overturn the election.


BERMAN: You know, Mr. Secretary, at the beginning of an administration, we've all seen the pictures of new White House staffers taking an oath, raising their right hand and taking an oath.

They take an oath to the country, right? The Constitution, not the President. So, should the Chief of Staff be offering a reality check to a President rather than indulging what could be these conspiracy theories?

PANETTA: Well, you know, it's pretty clear that President Trump had a very hard time while working with any Chief of Staff. He was getting rid of Chiefs of Staff left and right, because any Chief of Staff who was willing to stand up to him and probably John Kelly was one of those that was trying to exert some discipline on President Trump, the President got rid of them.

And so Chiefs of Staff came in and rather than standing up to the President and telling him the things that he was doing wrong, they basically implemented all of the strange conspiracies that President Trump was trying to implement related to the election. It's a sad commentary, and probably a very good example of how not to be Chief of Staff to the President.

BERMAN: Very quickly, Mr. Secretary. We learned about this mysterious nine-second phone call from inside the White House to a rioter on January 6th, which former January 6 Committee staffer, Denver Riggleman referenced on "60 Minutes" last night. Let me play that quickly.


DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: You get a real "aha" moment, when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter's phone while it's happening.

BILL WHITAKER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on, on January 6?

RIGGLEMAN: Absolutely.


BERMAN: So CNN has learned, the rioter is 26-year-old Trump supporter, Anton Lunyk, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. He says he doesn't remember receiving the call and claims he doesn't know anyone who worked inside the Trump White House.

Do you think the Committee or the Justice Department will be able to identify the person at the other end of the line inside the White House? And you think it matters?

PANETTA: It's going to be tough to do, I would think but, you know, obviously, it would be -- it would be good to be able to find out who in the White House made that call, because that could add to the theory that the White House was very involved in what was happening with the attack on the Capitol.

But I think, as the Committee itself has pointed out, they've made a lot of efforts to try to track down who that person might be and they just have not been able to determine a name that's associated with the White House.

BERMAN: Leon Panetta, as always, thank you so much for joining us.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, John.

BERMAN: All right, with us now is CNN legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.

Jennifer, let's start with the text messages, the December text message between Mark Meadows and Phil Waldron, what do they tell you? And we should point out that Meadows recently complied with the Justice Department's subpoena to handover information about the 2020 election, including these text messages.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, John, because we know previously that Waldron was working with the likes of Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, people who were definitely trying to overturn the election, but working from the outside, and they had access to the President, but they weren't inside the White House and a lot of people were pushing back against them, like the White House Counsel, for example.

The fact that Waldron had direct communications with Mark Meadows is a little bit different because that means he was into perhaps the person closest to Trump in terms of being able to observe and know what he knew -- what Trump knew and what Trump was directing.

So, I think it just adds to the pile of evidence that Mark Meadows is going to be someone that DOJ in particular is very, very interested in getting on their side with either a cooperation agreement or some sort of immunity order to get his testimony about the former President.

BERMAN: That is Bill Waldron -- Colonel Waldron you're looking at on the screen right now, just so people know what he looks like.

You know, criminal prosecutors in Georgia, the Georgia investigation is demanding that both Waldron and Meadows testify. Meadows is supposed to testify in this tomorrow, I believe, as soon as tomorrow. How much hot water do you think there could be in there?

RODGERS: Well, I think he is in a decent amount of hot water overall, but not maybe as much in Georgia because they're looking at the folks who provided testimony to the Georgia Legislature, and of course the famous call with Raffensperger, which Meadows apparently set up but you know, wasn't vocal.

And so I don't think he is in much danger in Georgia, but I still assume that he will not actually testify substantively, I would expect that he would assert his privileges and decline to testify to the grand jury unless he gets some sort of immunity from them.

BERMAN: Jennifer Rodgers, great to see you tonight. Thank you very much.

RODGERS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So next, growing concern about Vladimir Putin's nuclear threats over Ukraine and what the White House is now doing about it.

And later, Neil deGrasse Tyson on NASA's mission tonight targeting an asteroid in the first test of a way of literally saving Planet Earth maybe from extinction.



BERMAN: To give you some idea of how Russia's military call up is going, look at this.


BERMAN: This is from a military enlistment center in Siberia. The gunman shooting and badly wounding a recruitment officer. And in Ryazan, which is about a hundred miles southeast of Moscow, local media is reporting recruit set himself on fire, and border crossings are again backed up today with would-be draft evaders facing as long as a two-day wait in some places to leave the country.

In a moment, as only CNN can, a live report on all of this and the latest from inside Ukraine. First, though growing concerns about Vladimir Putin's threat, which he himself says is not a bluff to perhaps go nuclear.



JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.

ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: It is very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific.


BERMAN: That's not all this being said publicly or behind closed doors. CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House tonight.

Kaitlan, you've got some new reporting about what White House officials are saying about these threats from Putin?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're not saying as much publicly, John, as they are clearly saying behind closed doors because they've said that they are basically spelling out to Russia what the consequences would be if they were to use nuclear weapons inside Ukraine. Those aren't things that they're disclosing publicly for obvious reasons. But they say that they have made it very clear to Russian officials behind the scenes.

And I think the important part of this, John, is that this is coming as these so-called referendums are being conducted in Russia that the White House -- or in Ukraine, excuse me, that is orchestrated by Russia, that the White House is watching really closely, because it is these four regions, the results of it are set to be announced tomorrow and the concern that the White House has is not with the results because they basically say that is predetermined, we know what they're going to say, that people overwhelmingly voted to join Russia, which of course, you know, these referendums are basically being carried out at gunpoint with armed escorts taking these poll workers house to house and watching people fill out these ballots.

The White House says they will never recognize those results. But their concern is that once they are public, Russia then tries to annex these regions, and then try to make the argument that any kind of fighting with Ukrainian forces in these regions is an attack on Russia. So, that is something that they are monitoring very closely and I am told that if Russia does move to annex these regions that are part of these so-called referendums, the White House is prepared to act with some kind of sanctions. We're not really sure what that's going to look like, John, but they are preparing that.

BERMAN: Yes, the referendum as a pretext perhaps for Russia to escalate and the US calls these referenda a complete sham, as it is.

Kaitlan, has US Intelligence given any indication that they think Russia is actually planning to use nuclear weapons in the near term?

COLLINS: It's a good question. It's one that has been posed to the White House frequently, and especially when you're seeing Jake Sullivan and Tony Blinken talk like that about what they've said to Russians behind the scenes about it.

The White House says they've seen no indications that they need to change their own nuclear posture, but I was told by someone, you know, they are viewing this differently, this threat from Putin differently now than they were six or seven months ago when they thought the idea of this was incredibly unlikely. They still think it's low, they still don't think it's likely, but

they are viewing it differently, or they're taking Putin at his word when it comes to this posturing. It doesn't mean they've changed any of their own posturing here in the United States, but it is something that they are watching closely, obviously.

BERMAN: All right, Kaitlin Collins at the White House. Great to see you. Thank you very much.

More now on the mobilization backlash inside Russia.


BERMAN: Incredible picture. This the mainly Muslim region of Dagestan, you're looking at and those are police firing over the heads of protesters, many of whom believe they are unfairly bearing the brunt of the mobilization.

CNN's Matthew Chance is watching this story for us and joins us now.

Matthew, what do we know about these protests? How large they are and how widespread?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those images you just showed there from Southern Russia, from Dagestan, I think, it is the place where the biggest of the protests of the past 24 hours have been where you've seen thousands of people come out, locals, literally kind of blocking the roads to prevent the buses that were carrying their men off to their military units to fight in Ukraine from leaving.

There is such a lot of sort of anger that's been provoked by this so- called partial mobilization that the Kremlin has announced. And as you mentioned, this concern amongst people in Dagestan, but also in other areas, whether a high percentage of ethnic minorities, sort of in the far east of Russia, as well, that it's ethnic minorities that are bearing the brunt of this mobilization, that are being disproportionately called upon to pick up weapons and to put on uniforms, and potentially face death on the frontlines in Ukraine.

The Governor of the Republic of Dagestan has moved to try and calm people down, saying, look, anybody who is drafted illegally, somebody who is too old or has lots of children or who has never been serving in the military, that will be sorted out. We're going to try and kind of address that because there's been so many examples of people in those situations who have been drafted. But obviously it's not doing much at this stage to calm the anger.

There is also fear, as well, look at those incredible images that you briefly showed a moment ago of the cars, gridlocked 10-mile long queues of people lines, of cars and people trying desperately to get out of the country.

These are mainly young men of fighting age, some of them with their families who are trying to get out to the south of the country to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, similar scenes to the west with, you know, Customs officials in Finland to the west of Russia, reporting that the traffic out of Russia into Finland has doubled in the past week.

And so we're seeing this extraordinary mix of anger on the streets and fear as well amongst Russians that they are going to be fingered basically to go and fight in Ukraine -- John.

BERMAN: Just look at the congestion at the border. Those pictures truly are remarkable.

Matthew Chance, thank you very much.

Now to Ukraine, in a remarkable story of survival in one hard hit area by a 73-year-old woman for six months on her own. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When the blast pours in rare quiet in Toretsk, there are a few blessings to count and most are bitter.

One is here, a familiar scene of private worlds torn open by a Russian rocket two days earlier, but a place that might persuade you to believe in miracles.

Nineteen people were trapped up here when rubble blocked the stairs, but somehow not one of them was even injured. The fiber grade ladder getting them all out. Not even survivors like Natalia know how.

NATALIA, TORETSK RESIDENT (through translator): A noise. I blinked twice and couldn't see. The balcony door flew open and trash blew in. I'm terrified of flames and I realized we're on the seventh floor and it is collapsing. Then someone screamed, "Don't come out as there's no way." It's a miracle. I can't call it anything else.

WALSH (voice over): As Putin's fake referenda just a few miles away threaten yet worse here, just now, the shelling has finally become too much for some.

(NINA speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: I am so much trouble.

WALSH (voice over): Rescuers are evacuating Nina, 73, after six months living alone without water or help.

(NINA speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: God, let it finish fast before I die.

WALSH (voice over): We're told, she is the last person to leave her block.

(NINA speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: It's painful to leave, but it is also good. I've never been so scared.

I am strong,, but I do not have strength for this.

WALSH (voice over): Two days ago, a rocket hit her building, yet, also magically she was unscathed and just sat here under the gaping hole.

The lonely agony of the struggle before this moment lying around, the pictures of life left of her A-student daughter who died of meningitis age 40, of the choices of what to leave and what to take, of how hard just eating washing and drinking has been.

Winter will rip through here and this may be the last time the lights go out on this home.

She is taken to the courtyard where dozens of similar agonies are gathered, waiting for the evacuation bus and that are baffled by the heaviest question, why?

(NINA speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: I just want to ask, why did you (Russians) come to us? Who asked you? Or are we that silly that you wanted to liberate us? I think we will come home soon.

Home will wait for every one of us. It will wait.

WALSH (voice over): Then the guns pick up again.

WALSH (on camera): Artillery firing from near where we are. While that is being responded to by the Russians when shell landed over here. They're trying to get people on the bus as fast as they can to get them out of here.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: Come on, come on, faster. No time to relax.

WALSH (voice over): Dozens of lives with everything left behind them and nothing certain ahead.


BERMAN: And Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from Kramatorsk. Those pictures of the people leaving and what they're leaving behind are just heartbreaking, Nick.

The people you spoke with, why leave now?

WALSH: I mean, even here in Kramatorsk, the shelling is constant, just even this evening and there is no change. They're in a town closer towards Russian occupied areas like Toretsk, but there is a mood in the air amongst people very aware of these referenda, shams as they are and the likelihood that that is that will lead Russia to feel it can claim these occupied areas as part of its own territory and then possibly reach for something else in its toolkit or just continue to threaten.

You know, this is the place where nuclear threats from Vladimir Putin are most likely to come into reality and be felt.

And so people are deeply concerned. Some as you saw there, just frankly the shells have hit their house and that is finally enough after being able to stay for month after month after month, but there is a real concern here that we may be looking to a Russian escalation in the days ahead, , or just an escalation, frankly, even in tension and threats.


But also, to that we're looking at a Russian military whose conventional military you saw there in the mobilization, chaos just really isn't able to reverse the tide of momentum for Ukraine on the frontlines here, and that Moscow has to find something else, perhaps something slightly more terrifying to change the momentum here on the battlefield. And for ordinary people, that can be a reason to finally make the move. John.

BERMAN: What a searing report. Nick Paton Walsh to you and your team, thank you for being there. Thank you for your work.

And coming up, a conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson about an incredible event that happened just last hour, a NASA spacecraft slammed into an asteroid part of a test for a planetary defense system. We're going to show you the final moments, both from the impact in a clearly overjoyed Mission Control.



BERMAN: So last hour we were witnessed to an exhilarating achievement by NASA a step toward a planetary defense system. The space agency deliberately slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid to change its course. So, we some time before we know how successful the mission was, but this is what it looked like from the camera on board the craft as it approached the asteroid as well as a very excited Mission Control.


UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Oh, my goodness.


UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight, seven, six, five --


UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- four, three, two, one. Oh my gosh.


UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) visual confirmation.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. We got it?



UNDENTIFIED MALE: And we have impact.


UNDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) in the name of planetary defense.


BERMAN: Those are some pretty jazz scientists right there. I'm joined now by legendary --


BERMAN: -- right? Legendary Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History, joins me now. He's also author of the new book Starry Messenger Cosmic Perspectives On Civilization.

So, hitting this asteroid was successful, it hit what it was aiming at. But what will NASA determine to figure out how successful it was if it worked to push this asteroid away.

TYSON: So, it's not an isolated asteroid. It's a moonlit of a much larger asteroid. And they actually have a little gravitational dance that they do, where the moonlit orbits the larger asteroid. And so, a lot of thought went into what would be the best way to test if we can deflect an asteroid. And once you have a very well calculated and measured orbit, if you now give it a nudge, this was a head on collision in this case, then you can then see what has happened to the orbit after that collision.

And so, it's a bit brilliantly conceived and designed, I just think we should have been doing this decades ago.

BERMAN: So, the part that I get can't get past is that we need a planetary defense system. This is a dry run to test technology in case an asteroid is headed to Earth that poses a threat to humankind. You know, what, what's the chance of that actually happening?

TYSON: Well, you can bet that if the dinosaurs had NASA, they were deflected that asteroid that took them out 65 million years ago. So, I don't want to be the laughingstock of the galaxy, to be the only species to not only be smart enough to be able to deflect an asteroid have a space program in place to do so and then not do so and go extinct because of it. That would just be embarrassing, I think, for me, as a species. So yes, we this is, these are baby steps right now, just to see if it works, all right, to see if we have the power to do this. And then when the big one comes, you want to make sure that there was enough of these practice runs that in fact, we would end up succeeding. Notice, it's deflecting, and it's not blowing it out of the sky, as in so many cinematic scenarios have portrayed.

You know, in America, you know, we're good at blowing stuff up, and less good at knowing where the pieces go afterwards. So, a deflected asteroid is far more sensible, and what it would require to protect our species.

BERMAN: I like the fact that embarrassment is high on your list of concerns during an extinction event, it may be a little bit lower on my list there, but I do appreciate that, that you have that feeling as an astrophysicist. So, if an asteroid were headed to Earth, would NASA be able to replicate this missing? Or would it, you know, tailor what it does to a specific threat?

TYSON: Yes, of course, you'd have to tailor it. And the catch here is you want to get -- you want to discover the threat as early as possible. So, it might be we get an asteroid, than 1,000 orbits from now it might hit Earth, well, then maybe that's early enough so that you just nudge it, maybe one centimeter per second to the left, or to the right, all right in some direction that it's not otherwise headed. And once you give it that extra speed, that speed just accumulates in the deflection angle. And you can, with very relatively little investment of energy, have an asteroid completely miss Earth, if you get it early enough.

And so, a big effort of NASA now is cataloging the asteroids that will be called Near Earth threats Near Earth Objects. And once you get a full catalog of those, then you track them. And once you track them, and you get one discovered, that's when you go into effect. But we want to -- I rather we have this ready even before we discover such a threat. I feel better about it.

BERMAN: I feel better. I feel better just talking to you about it. Neil deGrasse Tyson, thank you very much for joining us this evening. Always a pleasure.


TYSON: And by the way you know that movie Don't Look Up, to me that was a documentary. So, I worry about.

BERMAN: Right.

TYSON: When everyone was in denial.

BERMAN: Neil, thank you very much. And reminder Neil's new book Starry Messenger Cosmic Perspectives On Civilization is coming up.

And coming up a live report from Cuba, Hurricane Ian which is gathering strength is due to cross the western portion of that island tonight or tomorrow morning before taking aim at Florida. CNN's Patrick Altman has the latest on the preparations there.


BERMAN: The abortion bans that have become law in about a dozen states this is Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade have divided voters as well as Republican Party officials, no more so than in Arizona a swing state narrowly won by President Biden that could help determine which party controls the Senate. The state's Republican governor had wanted a 15-week ban he signed into law earlier this year to take precedence. Instead on Friday. A judge sided with the Arizona Republican attorney general who demanded she reinstate a 121-year-old law passed before Arizona was even a state that bans nearly all abortions.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Arizona and met one of the last women to get a legal abortion there something she needed to save her life.



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Planned Parenthood clinic in Tucson, Arizona we meet a 23-year-old patient a mother of two boys, nine weeks pregnant with her third.

JANE, ABORTION PATIENT: You can see the head and the little nose.

LAH (voice-over): A baby she will never hold.

JANE: What brought me here is an abortion by choice.

LAH (voice-over): We're calling her Jane to protect her privacy. Her last pregnancy almost killed her.

JANE: Breathing machines and paperwork to sign to decide whether I have to save my life or my son's life.

LAH (voice-over): Two and a half months ago, she and her partner's birth control failed.

JANE: I'm only nine weeks right now.

LAH (on-camera): Nine weeks and all of this pain?

JANE: All of this pain. What if I do, and I keep this baby and I lose my life. And I can't be there for my other two sons.

LAH (voice-over): Jane will be among the last women to receive a safe and legal abortion in Arizona. The Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade through state laws into chaos. Days after we met Jane, an Arizona judge ruled in 1901 law banning abortion with no exception for rape or incest, but does consider the life of a mother is the law of the state.

JANE: Oh, it's constant here. It is constant fear. Like I said, it feels like you're alone. Like you're being given only one option by a man who doesn't know half of the struggles that us women go through. Or the women that want to have babies and can't or the traumas that we've experienced that our life. It is very, very frightening.

LAH (voice-over): The doctor in this clinic is Jill Gibson, Planned Parenthood Arizona's medical director. JILL GIBSON, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ARIZONA: To have politicians who have never had any formal medical training. For them to come into that exam room and make these decisions for which they have no basis is completely unacceptable.

LAH (voice-over): We met Gibson at the only fully functioning Planned Parenthood clinic in Tucson. Under the now existing pre statehood law, if she performs abortions that don't fall under the state's strict guidelines, she faces prosecution and up to five years in prison.

At another clinic in nearby Phoenix.

(on-camera): What's happening here now?

GIBSON: Nothing. The silence that's present here now is really deafening.

LAH (on-camera): Why is it so silent?

GIBSON: There's really a lot of fear about what is legal and what's not legal around the provision of abortion in our state.

KEISHA TALBERT, REGISTERED NURSE: This is Keisha calling from Planned Parenthood.

LAH (voice-over): Registered nurse Keisha Talbert now arranges travel to get women out of Phoenix to Tucson.

TALBERT: So, what I want to do is I can get you funding for your procedure.

GIBSON: People are furious, people are infuriated. And so, I'm really hoping that the electorate will be able to tap into that collective rage at this disruption and into our personal lives and demand something different.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, good afternoon.

LAH (voice-over): Activist hope that rage exists outside the clinics and will translate at the polls in November, especially among women.

RENA ALDRICH, PLANNED PARENTHOOD VOTES: She's been unwavering really in her support for abortion rights and access.

ALDRICH: I knew that the woman was a Republican.

LAH (on-camera): A registered Republican.

ALDRICH: Registered Republican.

LAH (voice-over): Who says she will cross party lines to vote for candidates who support abortion rights.

(on-camera): What does that tell you about Arizona and especially women?

ALDRICH: Even for Republicans, it's not an issue that just Democratic women face is an issue that all women face.

LAH (voice-over): Back at the Tucson clinic.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do this guide so you can live (INAUDIBLE) from your sin.

LAH (voice-over): Anti-abortion activists believe overturning Roe will pay off for conservatives this midterm.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: As a Christian, I believe God is pro-life. Jesus is pro-life and every single life has value. So, I think that it's a very good thing.

LAH (voice-over): But for the woman inside today. It's so much more complicated than politics.

(on-camera): Would you have wanted this baby?

JANE: If it didn't come with all the complications and everything that it did? Probably, yes. I feel like more women should take a stem. If we speak up more. Maybe our voices will be heard.


LAH: And we are getting this developing news out of Arizona Planned Parenthood, Arizona has filed a notice of appeal as well as an emergency stay. The lawyers calling the 1901 law unacceptable. And John while this legal limbo and battle is taking place. Abortions have been halted because Planned Parenthood is worried about doctors and women facing prison time for engaging in abortion services. John.

BERMAN: Kyung Lah, an important report. Thank you very much.

A powerful hurricane is taking aim at Cuba tonight before heading to Florida. We have a live report from Havana, next.


BERMAN: More now on Hurricane Ian. And as we mentioned the Tampa Florida area is getting ready for a possible direct hit. Local officials warning residents, this is the real deal. Ian is now a category two storm with maximum winds of 100 miles per hour and is expected to strengthen mandatory evacuations are underway in some parts of the Tampa Bay region. Right now, the eye of the storm is near the western tip of Cuba.

CNN's Patrick Altman joins us from Havana. Patrick what are the conditions there like tonight?

PATRICK ALTMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we felt bands of rain all afternoon, and right now John it's a s moment you feel right before a storm, you know from your years of covering hurricanes, the calm before a storm. And it doesn't feel like a hurricane is on its way. But of course, that is exactly what's about to happen. And Cuban meteorologists say, throughout the evening into the early morning hours, this hurricane will credit across western Cuba. It's not a very populated area but all across the western end of other side we all will begin to feel the impacts of this powerful hurricane already 20,000 people in the province of Pina Del Rio to the west of Havana have evacuated from their homes.


Ahead of the storm is arrival in Havana we've seen in low lying areas, people being evacuated by the government told they need to leave because the rain could flood those areas, you can have storm surge, and that could cause a very dangerous situation. Of course, in the middle of a hurricane, you cannot expect rescuers to go out and get people from their homes. So, they're trying ahead of the storm to get people out of the storm's path. And of course, the great fear here in Havana is even if Ian does not make a direct hit on Havana as expected go for to the west, you don't need much rain, much wind to cause flooding here to cause buildings, you know, there's old, ancient buildings that are beautiful, but have not been maintained well over the years. And they can fall down, they fall down often in in and heavy rainstorms.

So, that is the concern that some of this aging infrastructure in Cuba's capital city could give way with the storm passing through here. It had been a very quiet August for both sides of the Florida Strait and people really hope that here in Cuba and Florida that they might get off easy this hurricane season. Apparently, that is not the case.

BERMAN: Now it doesn't look like that. Patrick Altman, thank you so much for your work. Appreciate it.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: We mentioned at the top, the House January 6 committee returns to national television Wednesday afternoon for another hearing that if experienced bear is out. We'll make news as only CNN can, we're going to have special coverage analysis and perspective during the afternoon from noon until 4:00 anchored by Anderson and Jake Tapper during this hour, Wednesday night and throughout primetime. So, we do hope you'll join us for that.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT."