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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Florida Braces For Life-Threatening Storm Surge As Ian Nears; Sedition Trial Begins For Leaders Of Far-Right Oath Keepers Leaders; Satellite Image Shows Nearly 10-Mile-Long Line Of Cars Leaving Russia; President Biden Under Pressure To Allow Foreign Ship To Bring Oil To Puerto Rico; Lawsuit Filed To Block President Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 27, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: In 2012, she became the first woman on record to climb Mount Everest and its adjacent peak in 24 hours. We'll continue to follow that story.

Stay tuned. THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Florida's west coast, get ready or get out.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Hurricane Ian closes in on the United States as Florida Governor DeSantis warns of catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge. The rush to get people out while those who states gamble to stock up on essential supplies and hurricane hunters fly directly into the storm. We try to get Ian's latest track and strength.

Plus, this hour, we are live near Russia's border where thousands of Russians are trying to avoid getting dragged into Putin's war on Ukraine. We're going to go there next.

And the new lawsuit that challenges President Biden's plan to cancel student loans. What this could mean if you thought you are going to get your loans forgiven.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start today with our national lead. Hurricane Ian barreling towards Florida. Right now, it is a category three storm, meaning Ian's wins could reach up to 129 miles per hour. Ian is expected to strengthen into a category four storm later tonight, with winds up to 156 miles per hour, as it churns over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect in parts of Florida's western coasts. Major airports in Tampa and also in Orlando and Central Florida will be shut down. Today, Governor DeSantis is warning people should expect to lose power once the storm hits. It could be days or even longer before power is able to be restored.

Parts of Cuba lost power earlier today with Ian slamming into the western part of that country earlier.

Already, the outer bands of Ian are lashing the southern tip of Florida in the Keys, as you can see this brand-new video.

CNN's Bill Weir is in Bradenton, Florida, near Tampa for us. And CNN's Randi Kaye is just south of that, in Punta Gorda. We'll get both of them in just a second.

But let's start the Hurricane Ian's latest track and CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

Jennifer, what's the current outlook for Florida? What are you mostly concerned about?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's not looking good for Florida at all. I'm mostly concerned about that stretch of coast from Tampa to Naples and where the storm hits is going to be devastating. We could see potential record storm surges for some of these locations. The winds right now are 120 miles per hour. We've got gusts of 140, it's moving to the north at 10, and as you mentioned earlier, expected to strengthen into a category four.

This is most likely going to make landfall as a major storm. It's also expected to slow down dramatically once it gets very close to shore. And so, that means if this storm is moving at a walking pace, we are looking at long durations of the storm surge.

The storm surge and the rain is going to be the two biggest impacts from the storm. We could see up to 12 feet of storm surge in one of the cities, wherever the storm makes landfall. That's where we are going to see potentially that much storm surge. And we also could also see 30 inches of rain.

So, the flooding is going to be catastrophic, potentially for some of these cities. So, 8 to 12 feet of storm surge, wherever the storm makes landfall right around the center and just to the right of the center. And then as you spread out, it gets a little bit less.

So, right here, based on the current tract, we are looking at potential for nine feet of storm surge right around Port Charlotte, Boca Grand, Fort Myers Beach. So, that's why these evacuation orders are in effect.

And if you are in evacuation zones, get out. This is not a storm that you want to stay for, for sure. We are looking at the rain as you mentioned already, starting to impact south Florida. We are going to start seeing tropical storm gusts across this as a portion of this state, Jake, as early as tonight, and then conditions continuing to deteriorate from then on out.

TAPPER: All right. Jennifer Gray in the CNN Weather Center, thanks so much.

The Pentagon says more than 3,000 National Guard Service Members are preparing to help with the states response to Hurricane Ian.

Let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye as people in Florida brace for Ian.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: This is the type of storm surge that is life-threatening.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Hurricane Ian barreling towards Florida, many here aren't taking any chances. Guadeloupe has been boarding up his home for days.

GUADALUPE GOMEZ, PUNTA GORDA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: We take everything, every time it is coming, we say prepare for it.

KAYE: He says at least 12 of his family members will take shelter here. The concern with Hurricane Ian is not just the wind, it is also the rain and storm surge. Nearly 7 million people along Florida's west coast between Fort Myers and Clearwater, including all of the Tampa Bay area, are under a storm surge warning.


PATRICK FULLER, CHARLOTTE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR: Storm surge is always one of us one of our largest concerns in southwest Florida. You know, 90 percent of fatalities occur due to water.

KAYE: Charlotte Harbour in the cities of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda are expecting the highest storm surge, with 8 to 12 feet possible. Around Tampa, a record surge is expected.

MAYOR JANE CASTOR, TAMPA, FLORIDA: There's going to be a lot of water. There's no doubt about that. A storm that slows down for 24 to 48 hours and just continuously dumps rain into the Tampa Bay area is devastating.

KAYE: Hurricane Ian is expected to dump at least 2 to 3 months worth of rainfall by Friday, possibly as much as 24 inches of rain in Tampa and west central Florida.

FULLER: You can't stay in your home. You know, whether you're or not, it doesn't matter. It only takes 18 inches of water to be a life- threatening situation.

KAYE: Tampa's airport taking no chances.

JOE LOPANO, CEO, TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: With the storm and the intensity of the winds, we will close today at 5:00 p.m. That's 5:00 p.m. today, no more commercial flights.

KAYE: Evacuation orders expanding since Monday with shelters open for those without other options to wait out the storm. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never been in a hurricane. This is my

first time, my first time at a shelter, but I feel better here than if I would be alone at home.

KAYE: Those running out the storm are racing to get sandbags, facing lines for gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are out of water, folks. No water.

KAYE: And a familiar scramble to stock up on food and water. Then hurry up and wait.


KAYE (on camera): And the emergency operation center, Jake, here in Charlotte County just put an update out as a press conference. And they told us that there are 120,000 people under evacuation orders. That is about two thirds of the entire Charlotte County. It is probably a wise move, Jake, because if you consider this, we are in downtown Punta Gorda, we are on the edge of the Peace River and Charlotte Harbour. They are talking about a 10 to 12 foot storm surge possibly. This entire area will be underwater very likely come tomorrow, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Randi Kaye in Punta Gorda, Florida, thank you so much.

Let's go 70 miles north now. CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir is in Bradenton, Florida.

Bill, Hurricane Ian is expected to intensify quickly and become a cat four storm in the near future.

How much is the climate crisis to blame for any of this?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: A lot, mainly the one word that you mentioned there, intensification. Warm water is hurricane fuel. It's vitamins, it is steroids for a hurricane.

And we saw this over the weekend in the South China Sea when Typhoon Noru went for 85 miles an hour to 155 in six hours. It is unlike anything our team at CNN, the weather unit, has seen in their careers.

And that's what we were worried about here in the gulf as well, as Ian started churning and picking up speed, getting strong and stronger as it ate up all that warm water. We are here in Bradenton now, near Sarasota. This path now seems more vulnerable than just a few hours ago.

We are up a little further north in St. Petersburg. I think we have some footage of the mile long line of cars waiting to get their allotment of sandbags, which is not going to do a whole lot of good sadly for folks who are two or three feet above sea level. We just saw a family here at this beach volleyball court using trash bags to fashion improvised sandbags. So, we are in that part now, Jake. This is not your granddaddy's

hurricane. These storms now are stronger and wetter than they ever were before. We have a lot more people.

I think about the population of Florida I think goes up by 900 or thousand people a day. A lot of people want to live near the water. They're putting themselves in this situation.

Now, some for the first time to enchanted shrink of a hurricane like this. This time tomorrow, this part of Florida will be getting hammered, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Bill Weir in Bradenton, Florida, thanks so much.

Then there is Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. Why a loaded fuel ship stuck off the coast is not allowed to help, although President Biden does have the power to change that.

Plus, how Putin's veiled nuclear threats became even more alarming after Russia's so-called victory in its sham referendum.

Then, the federal sedition trial considered the most significant yet among case involving January 6 defendants.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: This just in, Hurricane Ian, the powerful category three storm currently lashing the southern tip of Florida, is also affecting plans here in Washington, D.C. Multiple sources tell CNN that the January 6 committee is supposed to postpone tomorrow's hearing in light of the dangerous storm hitting the U.S. The panel was set to reveal new evidence it has uncovered since last year in July.

In today's politics lead, jury selection is now underway in what could be the most significant January 6 yet. Five members of the far-right militia, Oath Keepers, including the leader Stewart Rhodes, face a maximum sentence of 20 years each for their roles in the deadly Capitol attack. It's the first sedition trial in the U.S. in more than a decade. And that one a decade ago was thrown out by the judge.

CNN's Sara Sidner is following the case for us.

Sara, what happened in court today? And what are prosecutors expected to argue at the trial?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, they have hundreds and hundreds of pages of text, and they've got hundreds of hours a video that we're all expecting to see. Much of this video you've seen, some potentially we haven't yet seen from January 6th.

But what they're trying to say is that this group of people, it's just the first group. They're charged with the most serious charges you can be charged with so far in this case. And what they're charged with this basically trying to overthrow the government by force, or planning to do so.

And some of the members, about five of the six, are all former military. And several -- there's one member, two members, excuse me, that were outside of the court. A lot of people go, how is that we're going to work?

What they're trying to say is the plotting and planning happened between all them, including the founder, perhaps the most high-profile defender we've seen yet in January 6th.


The founder of the Oath Keepers was arrested and is now part of this group of five who are facing these charges.

We will see things from the government such as, they tried to get a cache of weapons. They were talking about how do we get those weapons into Washington, D.C. to try and overthrow the government to stop, for example, Joe Biden from becoming the president?

And then they talked about some of the people that happened even after January 6th. And there were more plans, according to the government, by this group to go forward and to try and stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as president.

So there's a ton of evidence. But there's, of course, the defense. The defense is, they're just gathering because they thought the Insurrection Act, believe it or not, was going to be called on by the current president, which was Donald Trump at the time --


SIDNER: -- and they were just preparing for that.

TAPPER: Interesting.

There's a separate case I want to ask you about because one of the January 6 rioters assaulted then D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. He was sentenced today. What happened there?

SIDNER: The judge was very pointed. Kyle Young was sentenced in the court. The judge looked at him and said, on January 6, the violence was you.

And so, she made clear, she called him a one man wrecking ball. She gave him 86 months, that's 7.1 years, if you don't want to do the math. Bless you.

And so, you know, look, it's a very serious case, obviously -- assaulting a police officer. He is still dealing with injuries. I know you talk to Officer Fanone.

And, one by one, we heard this in the other courtroom, this is happening in the same court, right, in the same courthouse. What you notice that is different than other cases that I've covered, is there are people inside that courtroom, sometimes family members, of those who are on trial. But there are also people there that believe that these defendants, the January 6 defendants, are being unfairly tried.

And so, you have this toxic mix of people in and out of the court that are constantly coming in and out wearing t-shirts, saying January 6th insurrectionists, quote/unquote, are not getting their right defense. So it's really an interesting mix of people.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much, Sarah, appreciate.

Coming up next, protests in Iran igniting demonstrations around the world. But the challenges still ahead as people try to change policy with the Iranian regime.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead quote, we'll be reunited with Russia very soon. That from the head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, just one of the four areas internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, soon to be annexed by Russia.

Unsurprisingly, Russia claims the fake election was a sweep in their favor, while Ukraine, NATO, most of the United Nations condemned sanctions on the illegal land grab.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, who is in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

And, Nick, Russia isn't just expanding their borders. This is likely a calculated step in a broader, much more sinister plot.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yeah, certainly, and we're getting that much choreographed, much unexpected results we are thinking we get from these sham referendums in four areas. Notably in Zaporizhzhia, it appears all the votes are in, and a low -- comparatively low number of 93 percent there are in favor of joining Russia, differing numbers in the 90s, differing levels of counting so far.

In the other three areas, for example, though, this theater is moving ahead fast, and we're going to expect the Russia appointed head of the Luhansk region to head to Moscow and kickstart the theater there for this process of annexation by the two chambers of Russia's parliament, possibly, according to the British ministry of defense, we might hear a speech from Vladimir Putin on Friday.

It starts a series of events here which is deeply troubling in terms of the course of events on the battlefield. We're seeing Vladimir Putin really struggling with his conventional forces. The real army has essentially lost over the past six or seven months. And the partial mobilization he put into play is not going to translate, according to what we're seeing in terms of dissent and poor equipping.

It's not going to translate into tens of thousands of real fighters here to change the course of events on the battlefield. So we're now seeing Kyiv and Washington saying we're not going to recognize the annexation of these territories by Russia. That leaves the dynamic on the battlefield still likely moving in Ukraine's favor.

So, Vladimir Putin is suffering at home from this partial mobilization, and the dissent it caused. He's certainly not doing well on the international stage. He's likely to see U.S. sanctions after this form of annexation. And essentially, his position relies on projecting strength.

So, this is where so many are concerned about the nuclear we've been hearing over the past week or so. It is one tool he has yet to reach for. You might argue he could uses air force more and carpet bomb, or more horrifyingly, chemical weapon.

But there are concerns now that he's put himself in the corner we has to project strength to change the course of ensuring the war, and he's increasingly under pressure at home. A very tense week ahead, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine, thank you so much.

Russians are on the run. Thousands heading for the border fleeing Putin's new draft orders. Finland's border guard reports 152 percent increase in Russians crossing the border over the previous week.

And these new satellite images show ten mile long of cars waiting to get into the country of Georgia.

CNN's Melissa Bell is on the Georgia Russia border right now.

Melissa, we're hearing military draft papers will be given to Russian citizens trying to leave. But is that stopping anyone?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, on the contrary. The sense here, really, Jake, is of a much more determined and desperate effort to get out of the country. This is the scene tonight at the large crossing that has seen a massive increase over the course of the last few days. The cars are so backed up that it's on foot, carrying what they can, that you see not just fighting age men leaving on their own, leaving everything they had behind them, but families as well.

We watched women making their way across the border, young women with their children accompanying the men that they're fleeing with. Some pretty harrowing tales. We spoke to one family that had left their car 18 kilometers back, because that's how long that queue of traffic is.

Remember, there's about a 20 hour drive from Moscow to the nearest town on the other side of that border with Russia. There they're having to abandon their cars, like the family I spoke to, and then walk the last 18 kilometers here looking incredibly haggard and exhausted, and scared about what's happening next, cursing, some of them as they come Putin along the way. Georgian authorities are doing what they can to things flowing along

the border. But it's been a massive influx of people over the course, just the last couple of days. This week, over last week, a 45 percent increase in the number of people coming across this border, Jake. For having watched over the course of the last few months so many of millions of Ukrainians fleeing their homes with nothing, it's quite extraordinary to watch Russians doing the same thing.

TAPPER: All right. Melissa Bell, in Georgia for us, thank you so much.

Turning to the 11th day of protests in dozens of cities across Iran, ignited over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran's morality police custody, detained for the crime of not covering her hair. Iran state media say at least 41 Iranians have been killed in subsequent violence and oppression by the government, but the risk of death and police crackdowns have not quashed the apparent uprising.

This woman stood near a pile of burning rubble in Iran's capital, Tehran, and shouted death to Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran.

Let's bring in Iranian journalist and activist, Masih Alinejad.

Masih, it's good to see you again.

It's clear Iranians are not just fighting against this mandated hijab, they're risking their lives to overthrow decades of this oppressive, zealot dictatorship.

Does it feel as though real change could actually come?

MASIH ALINEJAD, IRANIAN JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST: To me, and millions of other Iranians who are risking their lives actually within society, this is a woman's revolution, this is Iran's revolution. I have to tell you, the brutal death of Mahsa Amini can be a tipping point for the Islamic Republic because Iranians made up their mind. You know, they're facing guns and bullets.

The number of people who got killed is more than what you mentioned, Jake, because the regime actually cut off the internet. They're trying to stop the rest of the world to understand how many people get killed. They want to hide the level of brutality.

So -- but right now, what can survive the Islamic republic, it's the West. If they don't take action, of course, the Iranian regime will continue killing people.

TAPPER: So, what does the West need to do? Because I have heard some human rights activists say that some sanctions could actually hurt the protesters. What do you want the West to do?

ALINEJAD: First of all, Jake, you have many of those activists in CNN for years and years saying the same thing. But have you ever heard a single slogan against sanctioning the streets right now? No. Have you ever seen people burning the flag of America? No, they clearly are saying, death to dictator. TAPPER: Right.

ALINEJAD: The target of sanctions must be continued because Iranian people are being killed by the same murderers.

But let me tell you something. Jake Sullivan actually, a decent man (ph), when he condemned the brutality of the police right now. And he condemned the murder of Mahsa Amini.

But at the same time, Jake Sullivan says that they want to continue negotiating with the same murderers. It means that they're going to give billions of dollars to the same people that they condemn. So that's not going to help people.

I remember that Jake Sullivan mentioned about this, that Obama made a mistake by not supporting Green Revolution. Do you remember?

TAPPER: Uh-huh.


ALINEJAD: They're doing the same right now. Iranians are risking their lives. And they want to see that the Biden administration do the right thing and take action. You know, ask your allies from European countries to cut any ties with the Islamic republic. Put human rights under nuclear deal. You cannot just -- you have to send the right signal to those Iranians who are fighting for democracy.

TAPPER: All right. So, just to -- just to be clear, you want the United States, you want the Biden administration to stop negotiating on the Iran nuclear deal, because -- or at least putting human rights conditions with it? You want more sanctions on the morality police and others in the Iranian government.

ALINEJAD: Yeah (ph).

TAPPER: No, I'm just trying to get a list here. And also you want U.S. allies to also cut off ties and imposed sanctions? What else?

ALINEJAD: Kick all the diplomats out from here. There's Iran's intersection, Jake, in Washington, D.C.

Come with me. Let's go both of us in America. Let's go to Iran's intersection. They won't let me go in because my hair is not covered.

This is 21st century. Mahsa got just killed because a bit over here was visible. Women are getting killed right now. Men are getting killed right now. And what are these people doing here in America?

I want your audiences, send emails to your senator, to you representative, and tell them that this is 21st century. I myself, I took to the streets in New York proudly, proudly at the women's march, saying, my body, my choice.

But it seems that for my fellow sisters in Congress, it's my bodies, it's not my choice in the Middle East, in Iran, and Afghanistan, because for years and years, we have been ignored.

Now, I'm calling you, solidarity itself, it is beautiful, but it's not enough.

TAPPER: Right.

ALINEJAD: You know, we have so many Western female politicians who went to my country, they obeyed compulsory hijab law. They said, shhh, we don't want to cause Islamophobia.

Believe me, by legitimizing compulsory hijab laws, you are responsible of the brutal death of Mahsa Amini. I call on Ilhan Omar, AOC, I call on all female, congresswomen, just don't -- we don't need empty words.

You can call people. We need a women's march across the West. Because if you don't keep your sisterhood, you don't support women of Iran, women of Afghanistan, our murderers, Islamic terrorists, will get united and they will end feminism, democracy. They will end everything.

We're not just fighting for ourselves. We're fighting for dignity and freedom for everyone around the world.

TAPPER: Yeah. I saw, you tweeted and you called for AOC and Congresswoman Omar to go to the site of the former Iranian embassy in Washington, D.C. What do you want to do with him there?

ALINEJAD: Look, not former. Right now, Iran is using Pakistan embassy as they call it Iran's intersection. But there's no interest for Iranians. Those killers have intersection here, but they don't allow me to go there.

That's why I'm calling all the women's rights activists here, and I want Ilhan Omar to wear hijab, come with me, support my rights, to step into Iran's intersection without being forced to cover myself. Is that too much to ask because Ilhan Omar actually come with the legislation saying that we're going to fight everyone causes Islamophobia in America. I deserve to be -- I mean, I have the right to be scared of Taliban, Islamic Republic, Sharia laws because Mahsa got killed.

Many people like -- many people in the West putting blame on sanctions. Jake, when Iranian people were suffering from sanction, the money went to Bashar al-Assad, the money went to Hassan Nasrallah.

When Iranians apologist around CNN saying that we don't have money for medicine because of sanctions, they were lying, because Javad Zarif came on TV and said that we just built a hospital in Venezuela. The money go to morality police.

Did you know we have 51 religious institutions during sanctions? The budget of these religious institutions got increased. The money for these religious institutions is like morality police, killing more Mahsa.

So, don't -- don't buy this narrative. Iranians want to get rid of the Islamic republic. And they put the blame on those who took hostages.

TAPPER: Right.

ALINEJAD: And now, their relatives are here in America. I know that I'm talking a lot because I have to make it clear. And I have to get the attention --


ALINEJAD: -- of Americans to support us. The relative of the ayatollah's are here in America. And they should be blamed, not America.

So, help us Iranians, people are facing guns and bullets, they want to be heard and support, they need action.

TAPPER: Absolutely. Masih Alinejad, thank you so much. We always appreciate having you on.

Coming up next, the technicality upheld by the Biden administration that's preventing Puerto Rico from getting critical aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, nine days after hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without power. And a British Petroleum ship, BP ship, that's loaded with diesel fuel and could bring relief to the island, is being blocked from docking at a port on the island because of a technicality in a World War I era shipping law called the Jones Act.

Let's bring in CNN's MJ Lee.

MJ, why is the Biden administration not giving a waiver for the Jones Act to allow this boat dock to provide this diesel for Puerto Ricans who need it?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. As you said, Jake, it all comes down to the so-called Jones Act, which is this kind of obscure and almost a century old shipping law that basically says that all goods that are transported between the U.S. have to be carried on ships that were made and owned and operated by Americans. And at the White House press briefing today, both the FEMA administrator and White House press secretary were asked multiple questions about the waiver issue that you mentioned.


And their response was basically that they have to look at every waiver request individually including the waiver request for this one. And that they really just need to see whether there's a proper legal authority to do so. So, we don't know exactly what the timeline is going to be. They did also say that the ultimate decision will come from the da secretary, Jake.

TAPPER: What are people from Puerto Rico saying about this?

LEE: I mean, they're basically saying that they need a lot of help. And that time is of the essence.

We know that the Puerto Rico governor has said that he is personally asking that DHS secretary to get involved and expedite the process. We've heard from the members of Congress and activists who have spoken up to say, look, this is help. The diesel on the ship could really be useful for the people who are trying to recover from Hurricane Fiona. A lot of people on the island are still without any power.

So, again, they think that time is of the essence in that the waiver could go a long way in getting people the fuel and power the need as they try to recover after this hurricane.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee, thanks so much.

As Puerto Rico tries to recover from Hurricane Fiona. Hurricane Ian is barreling towards Florida.

Here to discuss how his state is preparing for the storm is Florida senator and former governor, Rick Scott.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall in Florida as a major hurricane tomorrow night. Is your state prepared?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Well, I've talked to, people average out to the, governor I've talked to sheriffs and mayors across the state. Everybody is working hard. It comes down to you. Every individualized got to take this seriously.

They've got to follow the news such as CNN and say, hey this, is significant. Wind -- that's going to be bad but what will kill use the water. Storm surge, we've got a lot of low lying areas on the west coast of Florida. Four, five, six or ten feet of storm surge you will not survive.


SCOTT: You have flooding. You've got to -- people got to take this seriously. If you're told to evacuate, evacuate now. Not tomorrow, evacuate right now.

TAPPER: I know the governor's office is concerned about getting the word out to people, especially in southwest Florida. Do you have a message for people on the west coast of Florida who are right now refusing to evacuate?

SCOTT: You know, you can rebuild a house, but you can rebuild your life. Take care of yourself, your family. And don't put force responders in harm's way. They're going to try to

rescue you right after the storm passes. Nobody can rescue you during the middle of the storm. So, be smart, don't take risks.

I remember with Michael, you know, we're going to have storm surge, and we kept looking at the size of the storm, it's not that big. Well, ultimately, the storm surges what killed people. We lost people up there because they said, oh, I've been through one or two of three before, but you've never been through a five and six, or nine foot of the storm surge.

The west coast is already saturated water. We're going to see a lot of trees down. We're going to see a lot of flooding. But this storm surge is deadly.

So, if you're -- if you're in evacuation zone, these management centers around the state know what they're doing to get out now.

TAPPER: We mentioned this earlier with Bill Weir, but one of the challenges is that so many people moved to Florida everywhere because they want to live in Florida for various reasons. So, you have people there that have never experienced hurricane before, who are about to experience the first one.

Explain to them what you mean by a storm surge? Because for some of the Floridians listening right now, this is all new.

SCOTT: Well, first off, a lot of people the rating is, oh, category 3. Well, that's just the wind. It doesn't talk about breadth.

With the storm surge, we have better and better data about how high the water will go out above median high tide. So, if it says five feet, think about, five feet of water coming towards you pushing you. I don't think you're going to survive that. That's what could happen if we get five foot or six foot.

We're talking about as much as ten feet of storm surge. You will not survive this. I watch this with Irma, because we got nine feet of storm surge down the Keys. I watch it with Michael, where we lost people up in Mexico Beach were lost all because of storm surge. It can take out the entire bottom half of your house, which means your house is gone.

So, I remember the day after Michael, I was talking to family members, they were looking for their family members. If they said, they've lived there for 30 years, they've survived all the storms. But you can't survive big storm surge.

So, I'm just telling people, don't take a chance. I mean, your family loves you. We all love you. We want everyone to stay safe. Really listen to what they're telling you.

The locals know whether. They're following what the National Hurricane Center is saying, the National Weather Service on the storm surge, listen to 'em. You know, be prepared. What's the worst case? You see your life is safe. TAPPER: Yeah. And I know that having been governor there for two

terms, you've seen more death and destruction than you want. And the destruction might not be preventable but the death can be.

I want to ask you, because these storms are getting more intense. And one scientist told CNN that as the climate crisis advances, and the Earth continues to warm, these storms are going to occur more frequently and become more intense and therefore more deadly. Florida is one of the first victims of the climate crisis. We see Miami's Republican mayor argues that this is still no longer theoretical.

At what point, will you and Senator Rubio and others in your party who are seeing this devastation firsthand, your constituents, your friends, start to push serious solutions to the problem?


Because we see this happening now. It's no longer theoretical, as the Republican mayor of Miami says, it's happening to Florida.

SCOTT: Well, clearly, the climate is changing. Clearly we have to continue to come up with solutions. I did as governor. Actually, I worked with mayors across the state, including Mayor Suarez down in Miami. We talked about that today because I talk to them about the storm.

We've got to do everything we can to deal with this. And so -- and there are things that we can do. We've got to come up with new ideas.

I'm going to keep doing that here. I'm always open to new discussions. So what I'll do is I know the climate is changing, I know we've got to continue to do things. I did as governor, I'm trying to do it here. I'm hoping to have a conversation with anybody.

TAPPER: Other parts of Florida that people should no longer develop because of the climate crisis?

SCOTT: I think what we've got to do is we've got to be very clear what we can do to make sure we can prevent these problems and make sure I don't -- developers don't want to develop where somebody is going to lose your house. And we can't redevelop areas where we know you're going to continue to lose your house.

So, we have to constantly come up with ways like that, better building codes, but also, we've got to deal with sea level rise, beach re- nourishment -- all these things.

TAPPER: All right. Everybody watching on the West Coast to Florida right now, you heard your senator, your former governor, Rick Scott. Get out if you're on the West Coast of Florida. Please evacuate.

Thank you, Senator. I appreciate your time.

SCOTT: Thanks, Jake. Have a good day.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the lawsuit trying to challenge Biden's plan to cancel millions of dollars in student loans. Might this impact the money that perhaps you thought would be forgiven?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead, President Biden estimated $400 billion plan to cancel some student debt faces a new legal challenge. A lawsuit filed today by a public interest attorney in Indiana is looking to stop Biden's forgiveness plan before it takes effect. The argument is that the policy is an abuse of executive power.

Let's bring in CNN's Rahel Solomon.

Rahel, what more do we know about this lawsuit?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, as you pointed out, at the center of the lawsuit is that lawyer. His name is frank garrison from Indiana. He says that as part of Biden student loan forgiveness program, his student loan debt will be automatically wiped and he doesn't want it to be.

So, we know that 8 million borrowers will have their student debt forgiveness automatically wiped. And he says that's part of the problem, it's going to leave him with a tax bill that will ultimately leave worse off than if he continued, hard to believe. But the lawyers behind the law say that impacts others in at least six other states.

When the White House was asked about this lawsuit earlier, Jake, the White House said that the claims are baseless and no one will be forced. But when I talk to one of the lawyers behind this suit just a short time ago, they said that's not true. There is no process at this point to opt out. And that is part of the problem, that details are still very limited.

We get this lawsuit, Jake, on the same day that we get another look at how much this program could cost. This projection is coming from Congressional Budget Office that the price tag is looking to be about $400 billion dollars. According to projections today, put another way in 2023, for example, CBO estimates that cash flow to the Treasury will be reduced by about 0.2 percent.

That said, some Senate Democrats -- Democrats coming out today are saying that while they don't necessarily agree with the projections or all the projections they still called the relief transformative.

When I asked, Jake, those lawyers if they feel like this will succeed or go much farther. They said they're hoping show because this relief could take impact or could effect as early as the first week of October.

TAPPER: Rahel, meanwhile, a recent Bank of America survey shows the cost of living is outpacing pay for more than 70 percent of U.S. workers. A lot of Americans can relate to that right now. SOLOMON: Absolutely, right, because you still have inflation at about

8.3 percent. We know for most wages are not going up nearly as quickly.

So, this Bank of America study suggesting that nearly three or four workers say that inflation is outpacing how much they bring home. And that's leading them to tap into their savings, for example, Jake.

Twenty-one percent said they had to tap into their emergency savings. About the same said they have to work extra hours just to keep up with inflation. About the same say they're just looking for a higher paying job. And 6 percent said they have to resort to a 401k hardship withdraw.

So, that is part of the pain. We know that rising borrowing costs of course cause --


TAPPER: -- in a new forecast from the National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Ian. We're going to go to the CNN severe weather center with that update, next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, you can run and you can hide but you cannot escape the law unless, of course, you're the Texas attorney general and don't want to get served.

Plus, will the gamble in Michigan pay off? The seat could determine control of the House theoretically, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent almost half a million dollars boosting a MAGA candidate to the GOP primary base because they thought he would be easier to beat in the general. But as Michigan voters weigh in, might MAGA get the last laugh?

And leading this hour, a 100-year storm bearing down on Florida. By this time tomorrow, Hurricane Ian may be a category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 miles per hour. After undergoing a period of rapid intensification in the warm waters off the Gulf of Mexico, but the real threat is flooding.

Some areas could see storm surges up to 12 feet, the monster hurricane could sit over the Tampa area region for two whole days and evacuations have been ordered for 1.75 million Floridians. Let's go to Tom Sater. You just got the updated storm forecast for Hurricane Ian. What are you seeing?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the latest advisory has a few slight changes, Jake. Sustained winds are still at 120 miles per hour, still a category 3. The gusts however, have increased somewhat to 150. So the storm is getting stronger. The pressure is still going to drop and when the pressure drops, the winds take awhile to respond to the pressure drop and start to really blow up.

We know one thing, though, this storm is getting larger in size, which is going to affect more of the state of Florida. In fact, tropical force