Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

F-16 Training for Ukrainians will be Supported by the U.S.; Prior to Anticipated 2024 campaign, DeSantis Visits New Hampshire; Interview with The Messenger National Political Reporter Marc Caputo; Italy Floods Claimed At Least 14 People's Lives; Italy Undergoing Rescue Operations as a Result of Flooding; Skyscrapers in New York City Contributing to the City to Sink. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 19, 2023 - 10:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: The news comes ahead of Zelenskyy's trip to Japan where he is set to join G7 leaders. He will be greeted with this news, Sara, which I think will be very welcomed ahead.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in New Hampshire making his second visit to the first in the nation primary state. Sources say, he is there to meet with a large group of Republicans in the State House of Representatives as he is on the cusp of a presidential run. But while DeSantis is traveling to the northeast, "The Messenger" reporting that DeSantis' views Iowa as a make-or-break state for his presidential bid, and is considering a plan to campaign across all 99 of its counties as he looks to run for president and make that announcement as well.

Joining me now is Marc Caputo, national political reporter for "The Messenger." Thank you for coming on this morning with us. So, we heard some news that came out of "The New York Times" that DeSantis was, you know, making calls to donors. And telling them, look, here's how I feel. There's only three credible candidates, that is himself, Joe Biden, and President Trump. And he said, look, only two of us even have the possibility of winning and Donald Trump was not one of those people. What do you make of that?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: Well, of course, he's going to make that pitch. I mean, what's he going to say, I'm one of a thousand candidates who might run the Republican primary and we all have an equal shot, then no.

You know, as a story I wrote said, he looks at Iowa as a make-or-break state out of necessity. Donald Trump is so far ahead in the primary, so far ahead in the polling that it would be catastrophic in DeSantis' own view, in the view of his team, in the Trump's teams, in the view of all other campaigns and consultants who know what they're talking about to lose Iowa, because what happens then?

Well, if Trump wins Iowa where he's always already well ahead, the next state is New Hampshire. And if Trump wins that, where he's already well ahead, what's to stop him from losing in Nevada and then South Carolina and having a cascade. So, for DeSantis -- and really all the other candidates in the primary, Iowa is the place where they need to stop Trump instantly. That's how they feel, this is not my opinion, that just the facts as they see them and that's what the polling is currently showing.

So, for DeSantis, he's got to make this pitch, hey, I'm the most electable. But there's a problem with that pitch with a lot of Republican voters. When you talk to a lot of them, especially conservative ones who are part of the base that DeSantis is going for, they think, hey, that establishment has always told us who to vote for. They've always used the electability argument. They told us to get behind John McCain, and he lost. And they told us to get behind Mitt Romney, and he lost. Now, this is their view. And they told us not to get behind Donald Trump, and he won.

So, in the minds of Republicans, this isn't really a very persuasive argument. CNN's own polling last month showed that what Republicans are looking for is someone who shares their values and understands them. Not relatively speaking, someone who is considered the most electable. There's a reason for that deep suspicious.

SIDNER: They've seen an anomaly happen where someone who is considered not electable ended up being elected to the presidency, that is of course, Donald Trump. Can I get your -- an idea of where you see voters? Do they see DeSantis as someone who is actually running to the right of Donald Trump on issues like guns and abortion?

CAPUTO: Well, I think the media is talking about that a lot more, perhaps than voters. You know, like, we're going to look at it that way. Like, is he running to the right, the most strategy and the like? If you do look at the research and you talk to voters, they do see Ron DeSantis, and understandably so, is very conservative. Yes, on abortion, on guns, on LGBTQ rights, on these various issues, some would call them culture war issues. DeSantis has a sterling record in the view of very conservative voters and the view of progressive voters is pretty horrible. So, he is making that part of his pitch.

But as a Republican primary, you don't get elected to the Republican primary by being a moderate, at least not right now and certainly don't by being a progressive. If you want to win in a Republican primary, you have to be, in their terms, pro-choice, in their terms, pro-guns. And the way they see it, what they call pro-family, and as other people would say, anti-LGBTQ rights. So, that is where the base of the party is currently, and we'll see how that plays out over the next few months.

SIDNER: I understand you have some reporting about DeSantis, something about secret invitation. What was that all about?

CAPUTO: Yes. Well, DeSantis has a very secretive shop. They're pretty press averse. I'm not sure press shy would be the right way to say it. And they don't like leaks in part just because for not liking leaks at sake. So, he is having a meeting of donors or fundraisers on Wednesday and Thursday. He's essentially already launched his campaign. By the way, he's already an official candidate, they're just waiting for the paperwork to be filed, it could be Tuesday. And on Wednesday he's probably going to make some sort of announcement at the Four Seasons in Miami. But for these fundraisers who are going to be making calls for him on Thursday, they first got some of these invitations verbally, there was nothing written.


Usually there's some sort of invitation that goes out, usually an e- mail. And then some of them got text messages. But all of the people that I and other reporters, such as at CNN and other outlets have gotten, is everyone wants to talk off the record. They're terrified of even discussing these details even though it's -- you know, I don't know, it shouldn't be a state secret but in the view of DeSantis' world, it is. It's something they're holding close to the vest.

SIDNER: I really appreciate you joining us there from Miami with all of the insight.


BERMAN: All right, Sara. More than a dozen people are confirmed dead in the wake of severe flooding in Italy. We have the latest on the rescue and recovery efforts.

And experts say, New York City is sinking. That's right, sinking under its own weight. So, is like Manhattan going to be the next Venice?



BERMAN: All right. Happening now, rescue efforts are underway in Italy after days of heavy rain have led to widespread flooding and mudslides. At least 14 people have been killed, thousands more have been displaced. One official says, six months' worth of rain have fallen in just 36 hours. More than 20 rivers have burst their banks causing 280 landslides total.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau is in Rome with the very latest. These numbers, they're just bad, Barbie.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I know, it's really devastating. And you look at some of these heroic rescue efforts by these first responders. But what's really interesting, I think in this area, is that everyone was expecting this to be a drought area. They've been undergoing severe drought area over the last summer. No snow this year that fed the rivers and things like that.

And what we've got right now are all these rivers cresting and bursting, and the roads are wiped out. We had the mayor of a small town called Russi in which two people were found dead yesterday, advised people, you can't get out. You have to go to higher ground. You have to go to the top floors of their house. Let's hear what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR VALENTINA PALLI, RUSSI, ITALY (through translator): We have staff who decided that you must go to the upper floor of your home. I repeat, go to the upper floor. Only those who don't have an upper floor must evacuate their home.


NADEAU: Can -- I mean, can you imagine how terrifying it is for the population there. They know they can't get out. They just have to hope they have enough food until someone can come and rescue when this water eventually goes away. The big problem though, it's still raining, John.

BERMAN: Still raining, so this could get even worse. All right. Barbara Nadeau in Rome, thank you very much.


SIDNER: Is the Big Apple too heavy? A new geological study finds New York skyscrapers are so heavy they're weighing the city down causing the city to sink ever so slightly more and more every year. The study comes as the army corps of engineers is raising to find ways to prevent the city from being submerged one day during future natural disaster.

CNN's Bill Weir is joining us. Bill, we talked a bit about this yesterday. How much is the city sinking each and every, I don't know, how long does it take for it to sink? Year?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, over a year, it's about the width of a -- or the thickness of a couple of nickels. It's only a couple of millimeters right there, but it varies, that the average of the whole city of New York. Some places it is sinking faster, Staten Island for example. Parts of Brooklyn and Queens, right here.

But now we know the U.S. Geological Survey answered your child's clustering question, how much does New York City weight, 1.7 trillion pounds, that's a pretty staggering number. And it matters because we live in the age of sea level rise, thanks to the 1.7 trillion tons of carbon dioxide and other heat tripping -- trapping gases there in the air there.

But here's what -- sort of brings it home right now. This is Brooklyn, we're in Brooklyn looking at Manhattan there. There's the Brooklyn Bridge, this is Jane's Carousel, a local landmark here. And here's a picture of what superstorm Sandy did to Jane's Carousel, you might remember that haunting picture back then. That one storm in 2012 completely rewrote the floodplain maps of New York City. There's now an extra of about 65,000 people living in a floodplain, they didn't know they were until Sandy came along.

And you can see here, you see this barge with the heavy equipment and stacks of boulders, for the last couple of months, they have been shoring up this area that was completely washed out by superstorm Sandy. All these shops, apartment buildings, the water was in the lobby there as well. And as a result of that, the army corps now is looking into a number of different plans that would build various seawalls depending on the tradeoffs. It's expensive. It's a lot to think about, but this is the reality.

It's expected that the east coast is about -- the Atlantic Coast four times more vulnerable to sea level rise than the rest of the global average. And cities that are sinking, this isn't just happening here, it's happening around the world, subsidence makes it worse. So, cities that are sinking are going to see three to four times the sea level rise. Right now, the science says it could be depending on how fast we cut back on fossil fuels, anywhere from 7 inches to 2 feet by 2050, Sara, that's not that far away.


SIDNER: It isn't. And when you consider that it really isn't the skyscrapers that's the biggest problem, it is the sea level rise. We could see a lot of changes in the waterfront there in New York. Thank you so much, Bill Weir, for that.


BERMAN: All right. Rapper Fat Joe is demanding U.S. hospitals, stop hiding the rates they negotiate with insurers and tell patients how much they are paying for medical services.


FAT JOE, RAPPER: Now, I never thought that Fat Joe, the rapper, would be saying enforce the law.


BERMAN: And next week, marks one year since the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. CNN sat down with some of the victims' families to find out the questions that they still have.



SIDNER: This morning, Fat Joe from the South Bronx known for his rapping and a few scrapes with the law says even he is surprised he's fighting for the government to enforce a law. But he is passionate about it because it is aimed at protecting patients from medical bills that could bankrupt them. He has been to Congress, imploring lawmakers to make sure a Trump-era executive order is enforced on hospitals to make them reveal the cost of medical care. Here's part of our conversation.


FAT JOE: I'm a capitalist. I like to make money. When is enough, enough? How much profit do you need? At whose expense? There are people in the hospitals all over America right now, watching right now sitting in the bed, getting taken advantage of. So, something's going to happen. This is the ideal time that's come. I believe that -- I believe in people power. I believe there's bigger than any ideology. And I'm just saying, yo, enough is enough, man. Just let the people know what the prices are. Have a heart.

You know, we started out talking about this behind the scenes. I loved your passion during COVID when you were just talking about what was going on, how many people were affected in hospitals, how many people were passing away. And we just got to have a heart. You know, when isn't it about profit, and it's about the people?

SIDNER: Wow. That's a really strong message. Thank you so much, Fat Joe.

FAT JOE: Thank you so much.

SIDNER: I do want to say, I don't know, they might need to start calling you Slim Joe. I see you.

FAT JOE: Hey, I am trying to stick around.


SIDNER: We had a good laugh, John, but he was very serious about trying to help patients who, really, are suffering under the weight of those medical bills.

BERMAN: Look, it's an important issue.


BERMAN: Uvalde, Texas, getting ready to mark the one-year anniversary of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. It was May 24th when a gunman opened fire at the Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers. Outside the classroom doors, law enforcement waited 77 minutes before taking decisive action. One of the student victims was Lexi Rubio, a 10-year-old who made honor roll earlier that day.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz spoke to Lexi's parents about those 77 minutes and how one year later they still don't have answers.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What is your understanding of what went wrong that day?

KIM RUBIO, MOTHER OF LEXI RUBIO: My understanding is this first group of officers that come in, they were shot at, they retreat, and they never go back in. They let children die in that classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my wife's classroom.

RUBIO: And I cannot explain to you what they've taken from me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the class.

RUBIO: It's more than just lives. You know, maybe Lexi's gone immediately, but that's what they've taken from me, those answers. Had they engaged immediately and my child is deceased, then I know in my heart that she wasn't scared very long. But because they waited so long, now I'll never know -- I don't know if it was fast and I don't know if it took 30, 40 minutes. And that's hard. That's hard to sit with.


BERMAN: That is excruciating. That was a clip from this week's episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper". And with us now is CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz. He and his team have won a Peabody Award and others for the extensive coverage. Shimon, that, I have to say, is just heartbreaking.

PROKUPECZ: It is one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do, is have to talk to these family members. You know, we've spent the last year doing this. Just the entire team, as I've said, we've just poured our hearts out in doing this.

What we set out to do with this weekend's episode was, kind of -- it really gives people a view inside of the lives of the family members who've lost loved ones, but also the survivors. And some of the pain that they're going through, and not only the fact that they don't have answers from authorities, but also what is going on in their lives today and how hard it is for them to live and be in these situations.

And you see the video we were just showing you, something very remarkable happened there in our -- filming of this while we're out in the community. These family members, these mothers you see on your screen here, they called us and they asked to see video of the moments, the minutes that their kids, these are survivor -- parents of survivors. They wanted to see the moment when their kids were rescued by -- finally by police.


And we showed them the video of their kids running out of the classroom as police were going in. And the reaction to that, we filmed their entire reaction to that. And as you can imagine, it's extremely emotional. We also showed them a moment where all of their kids, the survivors of this, are on a school bus after law enforcement takes them out to take them to the hospital and they're all sitting on the school bus.

One of the boys, he's shot in the leg. Another girl, who wasn't injured, but she's just full of blood because she, basically, put blood all over her body so that the shooter would think that she was dead. And then we show video to the mothers of a little girl, her little girl was passing out and shot several times. She'd never seen this video before. She had no idea that her daughter was passing out during these moments.

And for them, it was all about learning these key moments about how they could help their kids and try to find some healing in all of this. And so, that's why they wanted to see this video. But it is an extraordinary and powerful hour. It's something that I feel has never been done before as it relates to a mass shooting.

BERMAN: The journey that they have all had and the frustrations that they have had, and you've documented, and in some case, that you've tried to help alleviate. This is extraordinary, Shimon. Again, to you and your team, thank you --

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- for the work that you've done from the very beginning there.

And you can tune in to this all-new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper". One whole story, one whole hour. It airs Sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.


SIDNER: Now, to an appeal to allies. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy will attend the G7 Summit in Japan in person. The meeting comes during a critical moment in the war. We're live in Japan.