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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Tropical Storm Idalia Moving Through Georgia, South Carolina; Forecast Update: Idalia Now A Tropical Storm; McConnell Freezes During News Conference In K.Y.; Giuliani Loses Defamation Lawsuit; Forecast Update: Idalia Now A Tropical Storm. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 30, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Jake Tapper this hour.
We just got a brand new update on Idalia. No longer a hurricane, now a tropical storm after lashing Florida as a devastating category three hurricane earlier today. Landfall this morning was in Keaton Beach, which is right along the so called Big Bend of Florida. The Big Bend is where the Panhandle meets Florida's west coast, the west coast of the peninsula. The National Hurricane Center's very first for action back on Saturday came within just 10 miles of that, about 20 miles north.
A woman in the town of Perry, Florida, captured a tree falling right on her home as Idalia moved through. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh. No. It's OK, it's OK, it's OK, it's OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That woman told CNN, thankfully, she and her family are OK. The tree damaged part of her roof. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis surveyed parts of that small town of Perry, Florida not long ago. DeSantis himself has a bit of storm damage because Idalia knocked over a large old tree at the Florida governor's mansion in Tallahassee. The Governor's wife, Casey DeSantis, posted this picture on social media.
CNN is covering this from Florida to Georgia where the storm is right now. Let's start with meteorologist Chad Myers live in the CNN Weather Center with the latest update.
And Chad, this storm seems to be moving pretty quickly.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. It is. And that's the good news. And that may reduce the amount of flooding because when storms stall, that's when the heavy rainfall comes in and it lasts for a long time. As long as this keeps on moving, we are in good shape.
I just saw a live shot there from Tallahassee, and it was sunny already. And the days after a hurricane, it can get very, very hot in that sun. But now 70 miles per hour, no more number four. The storm itself, no -- nothing to worry about at this point in time other than some rain and a little bit of wind and the potential for a land falling tornado or so. The wind issue -- I mean, really, we're not going to see gusts of 100 miles per hour.
That is done. It's been over land long enough. There is the threat though, of the tornado still. And we have two tornado warnings in effect. They're not large tornadoes and they may not even be on the ground, but you may -- they have a way of getting these warnings to your phone. Make sure you know how to do that.
Even though they're small and really not small if they're near your house, are they? Five hundred thousand without power now with the power outages stretching up into parts of South Carolina. So, yes, you mentioned how quickly it's moving, spreading the rainfall out a little bit, but still the potential in the Piedmont here of four to six inches of rainfall, and that's enough to cause some of those more topographic areas to fall off and into creeks and streams and get into some river flooding there possible later on today, Jake.
TAPPER: And Chad, the National Hurricane Center's first forecast on Saturday was pretty close. How unusual is that?
MYERS: It is very unusual. Five days away to be 10 miles away. I mean, come on. This looks like the spaghetti plot and they're all little plots in here and they're all moving up toward the north. But those are all of the subsequent forecasts as well.
Every single one within 55 miles of the actual landfall and the one that you talked about, the very first one, 120 hours before this storm hit was 10 miles from where it actually made landfall. Spectacular. That's all you got. I mean, it was a category one on this forecast, not a category three or four, but we always know that we know where it's going, but sometimes when you get rapid intensification, you don't know how strong it is or how strong it will be, but that is spectacular. Nothing -- no other word than that.
TAPPER: Chad Myers from the CNN Weather Center, thanks so much.
Savannah, Georgia, is the next large city in tropical storm Idalia's Path. And CNN's Ryan Young is there in Savannah.
And Ryan, the storm surge is a real concern where you are.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And people are listening to all those weather reports to see what actually happens next. You can see the Savannah River behind us, it was a lot higher yesterday. They're worried about it cresting to the point where some of the businesses here have put up these water dams that kind of stop the water from coming this direction.
But look, this is one of the America's most traveled cities. People come here for tourism all the time. And look, we see this family here from New York. You guys just got in from New York.
CHERYL (PH): Hi. Yes. YOUNG: Your name is Cheryl (ph).
YOUNG: Tell us what brought you to Savannah, first of all.
CHERYL: So we flew into Savannah, and then we traveled to Hilton Head to have fun with the kids by the sand and the ocean. But then we came here because the hurricane, so we felt safer in Savannah.
YOUNG: Were you concerned at all when you saw the storm sort of turning this direction?
CHERYL: We were concerned, that's why we left Hilton Head Island. So we came back here to Savannah. And the kids have been enjoying the weather. They're having fun in the rain. So, it's been great and we feel safe.
YOUNG: OK. And I know the hotels put a lot of preparation into this. What are you worried about in the next few hours? Because the rain is going to pick up, the wind's going to pick up. Have you been through a hurricane before?
CHERYL: We haven't since we live in Manhattan.
CHERYL: But we're told that they have hurricane proof windows, they've made a lot of preparations, and they have a generator, so we feel safe.
YOUNG: Well, fantastic. Thank you. Hopefully you and your family are safe today.
CHERYL: Thank you.
YOUNG: You guys wave because I know you want to be on camera, so go ahead and wave.
Look, you know, that's part of this, Jake. You know, people come from all over the country, all over the world to come here to Savannah. We'll walk this direction just a little bit. And one of the reasons why I want to show this, they are taking extra precautions here. The port has been shut down, and as I mentioned in the last hour, the large bridges throughout this area have also been closed off because they're worried about the wind.
The other thing that we've been monitoring is the power outages throughout the area. Georgia Power has been staying on top of that. You can go on an app and look at it digitally and see how it's spiking up and down. And the winds in the area at Hunter Army Airfield, which is nearby, they've been gusting around 45 miles per hour. So not the heavy wind gusts that we've seen in other places. If you did know that this was a normal day around here, you would not know a hurricane is coming, but the streets are empty because this coastal community is not taking any chances. As we've been driving around just a little bit, we've noticed the streets have been clear, emergency operations are standing by just in case anything else happens. But right now, Jake, we're told it's the next two hours where we should see the heavy rain and wind coming into this area. Maybe it skips us, maybe it breaks up, but at the same time, they believe they're ready. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, CNN's Ryan Young in Savannah, thanks so much.
Let's bring in the former FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate.
Administrator Fugate, you also previously led Florida's Division of Emergency Management. And you live in Florida. Obviously, it's still early, do you foresee this being an easier recovery than Hurricane Ian based on the facts as of right now, 05:06 p.m. Eastern for Floridians?
CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes, this is, again, very rural, so we're not dealing with this population. The storm surge and the impacts, again, these were small communities that may be catastrophic, but we're not talking thousands of homes. Towns like Perry got hammered, and we're seeing that wind damage, but it decreased across the state. I think the real thing on this response is going to be those coastal areas that got tremendous storm surge damage. Those first cities that got the hurricane force winds, and then power restoration is going to drive a lot of this recovery.
TAPPER: You spoke to CNN earlier about the trickiness of responding to these small, rural, spread out communities, southeast of Tallahassee where -- which took the brunt of this hurricane. How are first responders getting to that area? We've already heard some people, some officials from the area talk about how many downed trees are there and how they have to travel with chainsaws.
FUGATE: Yes, the Florida Department of Transportation has a really simple plan, it's called cut and toss. They're not trying to clear debris, they're just opening up the roads so the responders can come in. And in this area again, we got I-10 across the north. We got I-75 to the west of a lot of this area or to the east of the area. And then we have U.S. 1927.
These are all very good highways once you get them cleared to move up and down and get in these areas. But there's just a lot of rural community here to get out and check on people. So that's going to take some time. But they were already in the areas that were getting impacted. The Steinhatchee has been searched, and they're going to continue looking for people. But it's really -- and now, think it's turning from the initial search and rescue to the assessments and getting power back on and looking at the damages and what may be needed for people to recover.
TAPPER: Current FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell also said today the agency is in long term recovery mode for the Maui wildfires. How does FEMA handle short term and long term disasters overlapping like this? FUGATE: Well, they deal with multiple disaster. You know, we don't get the luxury of having one disaster at a time. So, this is what FEMA does. You'll have disasters in various states in that initial response then going into the short term immediate needs recovery and then looking at the longer term rebuilding. So, you know, President Biden had already appointed one of the FEMA leadership, Bob Fenton, to handle the long term recovery.
And that allows, really, for headquarters now to focus on the next crisis, in this case, this hurricane. And that's how they keep doing it. They put in the staff on these disasters to manage those until they get those stabilized and they rotate staff in the new disaster.
TAPPER: I heard an interview with somebody on NPR today in which they talked about Maui, if I could just go back to that disaster for one second. And a woman was talking about -- a government official in Maui was talking about how people in Maui still have to pay their mortgage on homes that were burned down to the ground, homes that no longer exist. And also they no longer have jobs because of everything that happened in Maui. That's the kind of after effect, long term problem that a lot of people have that I think people -- most of us who have not experienced anything like this don't even understand.
FUGATE: Yes, we see this -- we saw this in Ian, we've seen this in a lot of floods and hurricanes where people didn't have enough insurance or didn't have insurance, their homes got destroyed, they still have to pay their mortgage, they have to find a place to live. And they may not have a job. A lot of the federal -- that short term like disaster, unemployment assistance and temporary housing. But things that you have to also look long term economic recovery.
And this is a huge issue. We're challenged in Maui, but we're seeing in other places rebuilding and keeping areas from being gentrified to where the people that live there can no longer afford to go back.
TAPPER: Yes, Craig Fugate's computer froze up there. Thank you so much for your time.
I want to bring in the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center right now, Jamie Rhome.
Jamie, thanks for joining us. We just got this new forecast from the National Hurricane Center showing that it's now a tropical storm, not as dangerous, not as bad as category one hurricane. What's your assessment of the danger for people in Georgia at this hour?
JAMIE RHOME, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes, so with this change, we're transitioning from, you know, coastal storm surge and powerful wind threats to heavy rain and flooding threat inland. And you can see it sort of unfolding behind me here on the radar with these very heavy rains that have been working their way through southern Georgia through the last several hours. And now they're setting up over eastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina. TAPPER: Yesterday you warned that the island of Cedar Key could be completely cut off from the rest of Florida. We did end up seeing a monster storm surge there. In your expert experience, how long does it take a community to recover from a storm surge such as the one we saw there?
RHOME: You know it's going to depend on several factors, the degree of the damage and how quickly we can get search and rescue in state and federal teams into that community to help them bounce back and recover. You know, generally speaking, that magnitude of a storm surge, if you look at sort of Fort Myers beach, it can take weeks to months to get back on your feet after something that magnitude.
TAPPER: And these storm surges we need to underline, they could be pretty toxic to people, right? I mean, it's not just, oh, it's ocean water filling the streets. You have sewage farm runoff, hazardous waste in that water. I remember touring New Orleans after the levees failed after Hurricane Katrina, and that water was nothing that you would ever want to step foot in.
RHOME: Yes, I mean, this is a really great point and speaks to why it's so difficult to communicate, why storm surge is so impactful and why we have to evacuate for it. It's not just the water and the immediate push, it's the aftermath that it comes with it that creates an unsafe environment within the community for days and sometimes weeks afterwards. You know, that water is really dirty and a lot of people will go wading through it and if they cut themselves. You're talking about creates a cascading series of problems for them, and they may not be able to get emergency services or help right away in that instance.
TAPPER: Deputy Director Jamie Rhome, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
The head of FEMA, Deanne Criswell, said today that she plans to travel to Florida at some point this evening. We're going to go down to the coast and get a closer look at some of the damage crews are already assessing next.
TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead. Tropical storm Idalia currently battering South Georgia before it got that far. Take a look at what it did to this beach house in Keaton Beach, Florida. This is where the eye of Idalia came on shore just before 08:00 this morning, East Coast time. The roof of the house completely ripped off, exposing the upstairs bedroom and other rooms as though you're looking at a blueprint almost. Let's bring back Meteorologist Chad Myers.
Chad, between the flooding and the tornado risks, can you walk us through the biggest worries tonight?
MYERS: Yes, both of those. And as it gets to sunset and dark, all of a sudden people are still driving around not realizing that there is flash flooding still out there. This thing still has a tremendous amount of tropical moisture. It doesn't have tropical wind characteristics with it anymore, and I know that says 70, I haven't been able to find a gust over about 55 now for a couple of hours.
But hey, you know what, we are still going to see the potential for tornadoes as these storms come on shore. There is that potential still today. All the storms coming on shore could be rotating. So you need to keep your radio, your phone on, make sure you know what's going on locally.
TAPPER: All right, Chad, thanks so much.
Let's go live to Gulfport, Florida now where we find CNN Correspondent Carlos Suarez.
Carlos, the water where you are appears to be receding. Tell us what you're seeing on the ground there.
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. So, we are in Gulfport, as you said. That is in Pinellas County, where most of the city out here really has dried out. This part, just a few hours ago, you could not drive up and down this street because most of it was covered. A few minutes ago, we spoke with the mayor on your show, Jake, and he was telling us that this part of town was under about three feet of water.
I just drove a little bit further that way for a couple of minutes to see if there was any more flooding on that side of town. It's all gone as well. That is good news, considering where things were just a few hours ago here in Pinellas County. Just a few minutes ago, the mayor of Tampa over in Hillsborough County, that's about a half hour drive from where we are she had a news conference and said that really they didn't have much of any injuries with respect to this storm in the Tampa Bay area. We also know that the mandatory evacuation order in Hillsborough County has been lifted.
It was lifted around 05:00, actually. So about 20 minutes ago, folks were allowed to return to their homes if they decided to go inland or if they decided to stay in one of the hurricane shelters. The evacuation order for this part of Pinellas County, I believe, is still very much in effect, though, we have seen a number of folks return to this part of town.
And in fact, a couple minutes ago, this restaurant here put out some tables, they finished up some of their cleanup work out here. A couple of businesses further up the street appear to also get things in order, hopefully to reopen open either later today, if not at some point tomorrow. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Carlos Suarez, thanks so much. We're going to have more from Idalia's storm path coming up.
But first, the health concerns for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, after he appeared to freeze again at a news conference earlier today. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: We're tracking what used to be Hurricane Idalia, now is tropical storm Idalia as she heads right towards Savannah, Georgia, after battering parts of Florida. We expect to hear from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in just a few minutes. We will bring that to you live.
Let's go to Crystal River, Florida where CNN's Gloria Pazmino is standing by.
Gloria, how is the storm surge impacting the area where you are?
GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, that's exactly what we're keeping our eye on right now, because right over that way is where the Gulf of Mexico and the river meets. And the high tide is expected to be coming in the next few hours. And all this water that you're seeing right here could be moving inland towards people's properties which are directly in front of us. So there's a lot of water here about up to my knees.
And I just want to give you a sense of the landscape here. This is a main thoroughfare and we've been watching as emergency vehicles and some other cars try to get across. I watched as there were a couple of airboats that were making their way over, trying to get to people who might need help. So things here in Crystal River, you know, the worst of the storm is over, but you can tell that the cleanup is barely just getting started.
I want to introduce you, Jake, to a local resident. Her name is Bernice (ph). She told me just a few minutes ago she's lived here her entire life.
And Bernice, just tell me, what have you been seeing? I saw you walking over in that direction just a little while ago. What did it look like?
BERNICE (PH): It wasn't good at all. I've never seen it like this ever. And I'm 64 years old. And it's sad to see it like this because as I was walking further down southeast of the Highway 44 area, the water began to get deeper and it was like pushing me bite.
BERNICE: And that's when I realized it was time to turn around. Like I said, it's sad because I've been here all my life. Pretty much teared up right now because --
BERNICE: It's just sad.
BERNICE: You know?
BERNICE: The water had -- we've had floods but never had ever gotten to this point where it's all the way down to Northeast Fifth and Martin Luther King.
BERNICE: It's never gotten this far.
PAZMINO: I hear you, Bernice. I'm sorry. I hope you and your family are OK. I know you told me you had to get out of your house through the window last night.
So, Jake, as you see here, you know, Florida's worst of the storm is over, but people are here still grappling with the consequences of this historic storm. A lot of damage, a lot of devastation, and potentially more water that could be moving inland as that high tide rolls in. Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, it can be as dangerous, if not more so, in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Gloria Pazmino in Crystal River, Florida, thanks so much.
Let's turn to our politics lead now because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, he's 81 years old, he had another episode today where he seemed to freeze, he seemed unresponsive during a news conference. I want to play some of that moment. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: What are my thoughts about what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Running for reelection in 2026.
MCCONNELL: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear the question, Senator? Running for reelection in 2026?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. I'm sorry, you all we're going to need a minute. Senator. Benny (ph).
BENNY (PH): Yes.
We'll head outside, sir. Come with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody else have a question, please speak up. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What efforts, Senator, (INAUDIBLE) Cameron going to have to make on the campaign trails when Kentucky is over in November?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, Daniel Cameron. Do you have a comment on Daniel Cameron?
MCCONNELL Well, I think the governor's race is going to be very close, far and away the best candidate we could have nominated. And the state has become increasingly Republican. In fact, the governor is the only Democrat left in Frankfurt. So I'm optimistic that Daniel will be our next governor of Kentucky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This incident is not dissimilar from what we saw at the Capitol just over a month ago. McConnell was hospitalized in March after suffering a concussion. Let's talk about this with Dana Bash and David Chalian.
So, this is going to renew a conversation not just about Senator McConnell and his ability to do his job at 81 with whatever he is dealing with health wise, but also President Biden, Donald Trump, Dianne Feinstein, who in some ways, I can't believe is still in office. What do you make of it all?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, the conversation is already happening. There already was happening about sort of the broader point about the aging politicians at the heads of our government. But specifically with Senator McConnell, it was very noteworthy there. It was very difficult to watch, we should say, and our viewers obviously saw that. That he clearly didn't want to leave. When this happened in the summer, when he was on Capitol Hill, they moved him away. It lasted a bit longer here.
Here, he didn't want to leave because he -- it almost felt like he knew what was happening and he wanted to stay and answer the question. And then when the question was asked about a political candidate for governor, he knew exactly what it was, knew exactly who the reporter was asking about, and wanted to answer the question.
What we don't know is why this is happening. All we know is that his office is saying that he was lightheaded, just like they did over the summer, and that he's seeking help from a physician before he does his next event, and that he's spoken with members of his leadership team.
TAPPER: Right. But most of us have been lightheaded at one point or another and not had that experience. And I have to say, and I don't mean this in a crass way, but if one of my parents had a moment like that, and they're 81 and 83 and they have not, but if one of my moments had a -- one of my parents had a moment like that, I might have a conversation about taking away the car keys. I mean, that is concerning. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is concerning. There's no doubt about that. And of course, your parents are not in a position of authority in the government, which to me requires a different level of transparency here. And so I think while, clearly we don't know what is going on and I -- there's no doubt he wanted to stay there. But the recovery which he did was able to talk about the Kentucky governor's race, able to talk about Daniel Cameron, doesn't --
TAPPER: I think you guys are overstating how much you could hear him. How --
CHALIAN: No, no. It's a different Mitch McConnell, Jake. There's no doubt about it. I'm just saying, from being frozen and not speaking at all, he was able to process the next question and actually answer about the on topic, the Daniel Cameron and the Kentucky governor's race.
TAPPER: But he sounded very different than he's --
CHALIAN: There's no doubt about that. My point is, the fact that he was able to do that does not in any way, I think, excuse his office, himself, the team, from providing Americans with as much information as possible as to what is going on, providing Kentuckyans with as much information as possible.
BASH: Yes. I mean, the fact that this is the second time that this happened that we know about publicly, in front of a camera, is troubling. Look, he is somebody who is not up for reelection for not this term, but the following term for his Senate seat. The question in the short term is going to be among his fellow Republicans, whether or not he should remain as leader.
If they argue that 90 percent of the time that isn't happening and he can still do his job, they might rally around him. For somebody who is a stubborn man, somebody of a different generation, that's got to be incredibly tough because it's sad, but it's also, no doubt, knowing him, embarrassing.
TAPPER: Yes. I think there are two things that have changed if I could just observe from somebody who's been covering Capitol Hill and this town for decades, and one of them is reporters are less polite about this, which I think is a good thing, more honest about it in terms of Senator Feinstein especially. These are just happening in front of the camera. But that's really new.
Senator Cochran, rest in peace, there was a long period where he was clearly not all there and was an incumbent senator, and people kind of tiptoed around it, same thing with Strom Thurmond, et cetera, et cetera.
BASH: Yes. I was just going to say that Strom Thurmond, Robert C. Byrd, these are people who did not want to leave office. And they didn't until they were way past the ability, their ability to do their jobs. I remember, and I'm sure you do, too, Strom Thurmond being wheeled around in the halls of the Senate. And his top staffers were effectively doing the job of senator, chief of chief. Yes. CHALIAN: Although he was not elected by anybody, that chief of staff.
BASH: No, exactly.
CHALIAN: But I would just note the American people, Associated Press and NORC did a poll this week. We saw -- we talked about the news item of the three quarters of Americans in the poll concerned about Joe Biden's age, a slim majority of Americans.
TAPPER: I was just concerned. Didn't think he could do the job --
CHALIAN: Didn't think he could do the job, no doubt.
TAPPER: Including a majority of Democrats.
CHALIAN: No doubt, 69 percent of Democrats --
TAPPER: We asked Karine Jean-Pierre about that yesterday.
CHALIAN: Yes. And 51 percent of Americans say the same about Donald Trump. What is interesting is two-thirds of Americans say in that same poll that there should be an age cut off to when a Supreme Court justice can serve, when a president can serve, when a member of Congress can serve. Americans overwhelmingly are in favor having an age limit. You know, the Constitution has a minimum age requirement. But Americans are in favor of a maximum age requirement.
TAPPER: Right. Well, these rules were created when people lived to be, like, 60.
TAPPER: Right? I mean, if -- at most.
BASH: Yes. There is a reason why you are seeing some of the candidates, particularly 2024 candidates in the younger generation, lean into the generation argument more and more and more. And it is because they see this. It's not just because of Joe Biden. It's also because of what they see on the GOP --
TAPPER: And it's also because of Donald Trump, to be honest.
BASH: Yes. That's what I mean. Yes.
TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash and David Chalian --
BASH: Thank you.
TAPPER: -- difficult, difficult conversations, tough to watch.
Coming up, more legal problems for Rudy Giuliani, this time a defamation lawsuit. Why a federal judge is ordering him to forfeit his case, next. And we're going to continue to follow Tropical Storm Idalia. You can help victims already impacted if you want. Head to CNN.com/impact, CNN.com/impact for options to donate or you can also text 707070. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Even on Florida's east coast, Idalia's storm surge pushed powerful waves up on shore, flooding ocean side roads, and sidewalks. Idalia's wind swept through the Jacksonville, Florida region after making landfall on the opposite side of the peninsula as a category three storm near Keaton Beach. Idalia is now a tropical storm making its way through southeastern Georgia. Between Georgia and Florida, more than 460,000 customers are currently without power. Please stay with CNN as we continue to track the storm's course.
Until then, though, in our Law and Justice Lead, a loss that may prove financially devastating for Rudy Giuliani. A federal judge just ruled that Giuliani must forfeit the defamation lawsuit filed against him by a pair of Georgia election workers. He publicly named while making false claims about ballot tampering after the 2020 election. Let's bring in Sara Murray. Sara, why did the judge determine that Giuliani just forfeits this case?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right, that's another way of saying, you know, he loses in this situation, but it's because he was just not handing over the documents that he was required to hand over as part of discovery in this case. And so the judge said, essentially, if you can't comply with discovery, there's no way for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, again, the election workers that Rudy Giuliani has talked about and falsely claimed of ballot tampering.
There's no way that they can appropriately bring their defamation case against you, so essentially, you forfeit, you lose. And then this moves on to figuring out what the damages are. And, you know, obviously this is a victory as far as Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are concerned. They said he turned their lives into a living nightmare, Jake?
TAPPER: When this case goes to trial, Giuliani could be ordered to pay thousands if not millions of dollars. Meanwhile, he's already claiming to be struggling to pay other massive legal bills, and Donald Trump is apparently not giving him much help there.
MURRAY: Yes, I mean, we don't have a sense of what the damages are going to be in this case. There's going to be a trial either later on this year or early next year that'll determine the damages that Giuliani has to pay. But his lawyer has previously said that he's having financial problems. He complained that part of the reason that they couldn't comply with discovery was some of the financial obligations, even though Trump has helped him on some of the records keeping components of this. But it's very clear that Rudy Giuliani is having a cash flow problem. It was interesting, his political advisor, Ted Goodman, said that Giuliani, of course, disagrees with this decision and wants it reversed. But again, it's hard to see how you can go back and relitigate these things over and over again if your well of cash is running dry. Jake?
TAPPER: Turning to the Georgia indictment today, two Trump co- defendants who requested speedy trials asked a judge to formally separate their cases from the sprawling overall indictment, which includes 18 people plus Donald Trump, what might that mean for Fani Willis's case, the district attorney there, if those two do have their cases separated?
MURRAY: Well, look, she made it clear that she wanted to try all of these 19 defendants together as part of this sprawling racketeering case. And I think this gives you an indication of how difficult that's going to be. Both Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell have said they want speedy trials. They're now trying to sever their case from the rest of them. Donald Trump's attorneys have already said he also wants to sever his case.
So trying to get everyone to actually go to trial at the same time seems like it could be an uphill battle for the District Attorney. So it may mean she's trying groups of people separately. And we're still waiting to see, frankly, which court this ends up going to trial. And obviously, Mark Meadows and others have tried to move this case to federal court, and it's still an open question if they succeed, if other defendants, if the whole case could end up going with them. So there's a lot of herding cats at this point. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much.
Idalia was the third hurricane to hit Florida in just the last twelve months. Coming up, the science of these storms. What's making so many of them so powerful?
TAPPER: And we're back with our coverage of Idalia, formerly a hurricane, now a tropical storm. This was the scene in Perry, Florida, earlier, near where Idalia made landfall this morning, toppling trees, creating quite a lot of damage along the way. CNN's John Berman is in Perry, Florida, for us. John, what else are you seeing?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWS CENTRAL: Yes, I'm seeing things like this behind me, Jake. You can see I'm at Roady's Truck Stop in Perry, right in that same town you were showing that tree damage from. And you can see this awning over the diesel gas pumps just blew over. It tore up the brick. It twisted the metal that was holding it in place. And now it is just completely leaning on its side.
Now, Perry was where the storm passed directly over. It made landfall about 18 miles in that direction right there, Keaton Beach as a category three storm, winds of 115 miles an hour and then passed directly overhead here with winds almost that powerful, maybe it was down to 105 at that point. When were driving here, Jake, what we saw is that Idalia was a powerful storm, but a relatively small storm and fast moving. Therefore, the damage from it almost happened in one distinct stripe.
So you didn't see that much damage as you were driving to Tallahassee. But when you started seeing it was bad. We saw those trees that you get used to in hurricanes, the exploded trees. We saw telephone poles leaning into the roads, wires strewn about everywhere. We actually had some problems getting through here because of the wires that were on the roadway.
We saw Governor DeSantis's motorcade actually drive by us from Tallahassee to Perry. So this was, I think, the hardest hit area in the region in terms of the wind. This is where the wind damage was. Obviously about 18 miles in that direction on the coast is where they had issues with the storm surge, that powerful storm surge. Not as many people live there, luckily. Here, Perry is a town of about 7,000 and they're having a hard time digging through all the fallen tree branches right now. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, John Berman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Tropical Storm Idalia is just one of multiple destructive weather events as Americans insurer -- endure, a summer of intense, relentless natural disasters. Let's discuss with Dr. Corene Matyas, geography professor at the University of Florida, as well as our meteorologist, Chad Myers. Dr. Matyas, let's start with you. For years we've heard that climate change is a growing threat. This year, we have seen all sorts of real extremes across the United States, from Hawaii to Georgia. Is the average American, do you think, now starting to understand that climate change is here and having a disastrous effect?
DR. CORENE MATYAS, GEOGRAPHY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: It's hard to say what that average American might think, but scientists all agree that there's been a change over the long term in the conditions that we're facing, and that does come with extremes in our weather conditions.
TAPPER: And Chad, talk about how climate change played a role intensifying Hurricane Idalia. What impact could it have?
MYERS: You know, we've been talking about the water temperature around the Keys now for what seems like months and how there's going to be this coral event, likely bleaching event. The water has been in record warmth territory. Now, Idalia would likely have happened anyway, but you cannot tell because of where it started, what would have happened had the water not been five or six degrees warmer than it should have been.
We don't have hurricanes in the winter because the water is not warm enough. It only starts in June. Well, now it's starting in May, and it's supposed to be over in November, but sometimes we get them in December. It's the warmth of the water that caused Idalia to be significantly stronger than it likely would have been had the water temperature been normal.
TAPPER: And Dr. Matyas, climate change obviously is fueling more dangerous storms as it relates to hurricanes. Let's flash forward 10 years. What might it look like for Americans who live along the coastlines, such as the west coast of Florida, other impacted areas? Are there difficult questions to be asked about whether people should rebuild in some of these areas?
MATYAS: Well, those are difficult questions. And, you know, they're already being asked, as we know that there is sea level rise happening and, quote, normal tides now are higher than they used to be. So there's a lot more flooding that's happening even when there isn't a storm available. And so when you have a devastating storm and even winter systems can cause a lot of beach erosion and building damage along the shore, so not just tropical systems, but also winter systems. There's got to be a lot of mitigation or adaptation decisions that need to be made.
TAPPER: Chad this summer, we've seen thousands of heat records broken. Ocean temperatures at hot tub levels, extraordinary wildfires, California, Hawaii, earth's hottest month on record. What are the practical impacts that this is happening and will continue to have on people's day to day lives?
MYERS: You know, the people that live in the urban wildlife interface right when you back up a home into a forest, your threat of a forest fire now of a wildfire, has grown significantly. We are growing things in the wet season, and sometimes they're wetter, and we are drying out the forests and the wildland when it is dry.
And it is a bigger swing from wetter to dry. Typically, we used to see this when it was El Nino, La Nina. You get a big El Nino event, it starts to rain and California grows things, grass, all the chaparral, and then it dies, and then it burns. But now there isn't a wildfire season. It's just the wildfire year.
TAPPER: Dr. Matyas, there is remains not just political polarization on this issue, but continued misinformation about the causes of climate change. Polls show Republican voters far less likely to believe human actions are the root cause. A lot of this can be traced back to a misinformation campaign funded by the oil companies decades ago. How do you help people understand the science behind this? And the storms such as this, do they change minds?
MATYAS: Well, yes. As a scientist, I work with the data. And so we have really good collection of data these days and models that can show us how the different conditions line up. And so part of my job as a university professor is to, you know, educate the generations that are coming through the university and teach them science. And then they go and they make their own informed decisions based on that.
TAPPER: Do you encounter skeptics students that don't believe it? And if so, what do you do?
MATYAS: Well, we stick to the facts. You know, we have testable hypotheses and, you know, we verify our data sources. We used methods that are scientifically proven. And so, yes, sometimes we do have a debate about it, but the end of the day, we let the data speak for themselves.
TAPPER: Dr. Corene Matyas and Chad Myers, thanks to both you for that conversation.
Officials in Pasco County, Florida, just north of Tampa say, Idalia has damaged upwards of 6,000 homes. Nearly a half million customers in Florida and Georgia currently do not have power. Any moment now, we expect an update from the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, we'll bring you that live next in the Situation Room.