Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

More Than 2,800 Dead in Morocco After Magnitude 6.8 Quake; New Data Shows U.S. Household Wealth at All-Time High; Interview with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): Impact of a China-Taiwan Conflict. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 15:30   ET



AVRIL BENOIT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: So our team is there to offer support. Obviously, it has to be coordinated with the officials. We have to make a proposal. Here's -- here are all the things we can do. We have an expertise of responding in earthquake emergencies like this.

And then it's up to the government officials running the earthquake Commission to be able to say, all right, Doctors Without Borders, here's where we want you to go. We agree with you that these are the things that we need. Let's go. So that's essentially where we're at right now. We're still unfortunately in an assessment phase and looking to be as useful as possible with the expertise that we can leverage.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: So in in that assessment phase, have you determined some of the key needs, the resources that are most needed right now on the ground?

BENOIT: Yes, based on our experience you always need support in those remote areas. It looks like the -- to our view the Marrakesh referral hospitals are functioning. They were not destroyed in the earthquake and that's a great thing. But we know from earthquake injuries, for example, if somebody suffers crush injury, crush syndrome. Means when your limbs, your arms, your legs get so compressed that you lose circulation. You can have infections setting in. You then can go into renal failure. You need dialysis, the equipment and the nephrologist need to be on hand to provide it. And you may need surgery, hopefully, to preserve the limb. But in some instances to amputate. From there you need infection control must be very tightly monitored and rehab.

So between all of that as purely physical medical interventions, we also know that, you know, we heard about that woman who lost so many members of her family. Mental health needs are going to be enormous. And so, there is a possibility to intervene with what we call psychological first aid, bringing in psychologists but also training local people to be able to offer that support in a community centered way. That's where we definitely see that there's going to be a lot of need.

SANCHEZ: Sure, Avril, you mentioned some of the expertise and some of the previous situations in which your organization has done tremendous work. We're now 72 hours since the earthquake struck. I recall hearing incredible stories of survival in Syria and Turkey during the most recent earthquake there. Do you have hope, given what we saw there, that there might still be survivors that are trapped under rubble right now?

BENOIT: It's always possible, but if somebody has sustained a serious injury, it's not likely. And so, this is -- this is what you're managing, is that as much as they are doing the best they can to recover all the people that are lost that are missing the likelihood of finding people alive really does diminish at this hour.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is a delicate operation, one which takes incredible hands and incredible work. So, Avril Benoit, we very much appreciate what you and your organization are doing. Thanks so much.

BENOIT: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Still ahead, the financial risks of a conflict between Taiwan and China. Lawmakers are now gaming out the impact any conflict between the two would have on U.S. companies and investors. I'm going to discuss with Congressman Seth Moulton right after the break. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Now to some of the other headlines we're watching this hour. The number of people missing after the deadly Maui fires continues to drop. Hawaii's governor now says that 66 people are unaccounted for, a number that was once in the thousands. The death toll remains at 115 and the governor says officials are planning to reopen West Maui to visitors and end all travel restrictions by next month.

Meantime, MGM Resorts said it's shut down some of its systems over a cybersecurity issue. The company owns several properties in Las Vegas, including The MGM Grand, Bellagio, Luxor and the Mandalay Bay. Right now, The MGM Resorts website is offline with an apology message and a list of phone numbers for guests to reach their specific hotel concierge desk. The company says it's currently working with law enforcement to figure the situation out.

And Disney and Charter Communications have reached a last minute deal that would avoid a cable blackout. The move would restore access to Disney owned channels like ESPN and ABC, to charter Spectrum's nearly 15 million subscribers. As part of the agreement, Disney will provide the ad supported apps, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus to some of charters television packages. Of course, this deal comes just in time for the premiere of Monday Night Football on ESPN -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The gap between the haves and the have nots may be widening. New federal data shows Americans have never been wealthier. U.S. health -- household wealth has exceeded a record $154 trillion, but just last week, a CNN poll found 58 Percent of Americans think that President Biden's policies have made the economy worse. CNN's Matt Egan is here. OK, Matt, explain to us where the money is coming from, who it's going to, who it's not going to.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Brianna, this is undeniably good news and it is being driven by two powerful forces. First, the rebounding stock market and second, rising home values.


Those two forces combined to lift household wealth to a record $154 trillion. That takes out the previous record that was set early last year. Now 2022 actually saw household wealth shrink and that was because the Feds warn inflation, it freaked out investors. So we saw stock market values drop, the housing market stalled. And so, people were actually worth less. The Biden administration is taking a bit of a victory lap after these latest numbers. Listen to what the deputy Treasury Secretary said to our colleague Poppy Harlow just this morning.


WALLY ADEYEMO, DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: As we recover from COVID, we've seen what American families wealth return to pre-COVID levels. We're seeing job creation at historic levels. We're seeing the economy come back and inflation come down. What we're saying is that there's more work for us to do. We're committed to doing that work. And America is further along and doing that work than any economy in the world. And that's because of the great determination of the American people, but also because of the policies of the president.


EGAN: Now of course, polling indicates that the public is not giving the White House almost any credit for some of the bright spots here. And I think that's because some people are really struggling. I mean, while overall household wealth is at a record high, of course those gains are not shared equally. Not everyone owns a home. Not everyone even owns a piece of the stock market. Some people are actually worth less, and that's especially because this federal data it's not adjusted for inflation. And we know that $1,000, Brianna, it does not go as far as it used to. And so I think two things can be true at the same time here. Yes, household wealth is at a record high and at the same time some people are struggling.

KEILAR: Yes, they're saying that. That is what they're reporting. That is what they are feeling. But certainly this number is a good one here. Matt, thank you for taking us through that. We appreciate it.

And stay with CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: President Biden has just arrived in Alaska after a visit to Hanoi, where he signed a new strategic partnership with Vietnam. That agreement shores up diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries and is seen as an attempt to ease America's reliance on China.

Also happening later tonight, a bipartisan Congressional Select Committee will convene its own situation room with Wall Street executives. Both groups will hash out the potential global economic impact of a conflict between China and Taiwan. Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall issued his own dire warning about what a conflict between the U.S. and China would look like.


FRANK KENDALL, AIR FORCE SECRETARY: The Air and Space forces must change, or we could fail to prevent and might even lose a war. Not the kinds of war we've fought or been fighting for the last 30 years, but a war between modern great powers, when enormous costs and consequences for the U.S. and its partners, and for the world. We cannot let that happen.

Today, the intelligence couldn't be clearer, whatever its actual intentions may be, I could not say. But China is preparing for a war and specifically for a war with the United States.


SCIUTTO: Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. He will be at tonight's meeting. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and China. Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time this afternoon.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Good to see you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: As you know better than me, the war games playing out a potential conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan are just devastating. We're talking about thousands of sailors and airmen lost, dozens of ships just on the U.S. side and on all sides involved. What do you expect an economic war game, as it were, to show in terms of the economic costs of such a conflict?

MOULTON: Well, I expect it will be absolutely devastating and that's what we need to make sure everyone understands on both sides of the Pacific here that a war with China would be absolutely devastating both to American lives, as you said, we're talking Vietnam War level casualties in the space of a couple of weeks. Waking up tomorrow and two U.S. aircraft carriers at the bottom of the sea.

We want to understand the economic implications of a conflict as well, and ultimately, how we can use that to leverage deterrence, to make sure that war never happens.

SCIUTTO: We've been showing some video here of Taiwanese preparations, their own training to prevent a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or to respond to it. I went out there a few weeks ago. There's a lot of talk now about China's economic slowdown. Peak China, you've heard these discussions. Is it -- is a China that is less economically strong, more or less dangerous? Is it more or less likely to take a shot at Taiwan now might they calculate that their window is closing?

MOULTON: Jim, this is an incredibly important question. I mean, you've hit on something that we have been debating for a while now on the committee. A lot of the witnesses who have offered testimony to this Select Committee have suggested that there are ways that we can tighten the economic noose around China as they're experiencing their own troubles. But some of those same witnesses have said exactly what your question implies, which is that that might actually make it more likely for Xi Jinping to go to war.

So the challenge before us is to figure out how we can more effectively compete against China. We want to win this economic competition, but do so in a way that ultimately reinforces deterrence and doesn't make it more likely that China starts a war over Taiwan.


SCIUTTO: You heard the warning from the Air Force general, delivering a somewhat dire appraisal of the U.S. ability to win such a war. And I wonder if you share those concerns that if that conflict were to happen and no one wants it to happen, but if it were, would the U.S. stand a chance of losing it?

MOULTON: Well, look, I think Secretary Kendall is absolutely right that we need to modernize more quickly. I'm confident that if we went to war with China tonight -- God forbid -- we would win that war. But the problem is that China is modernizing its military more quickly than we are. But we're still wedded to big old heavy Navy ships that are big, easy targets for Chinese missiles as opposed to autonomous vehicles under, you know, the sorts of things that you see Ukraine using to take out that Russian bridge. We've got to modernize more quickly or China will get ahead of us. That's the real risk before us.

SCIUTTO: As you know, the G20 meeting took place this weekend and the statement that those G20 members walked away with was milk toast at best, regarding Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Could not come to an agreement that that uniformly condemned it. And I wonder if you consider that a loss not just for the G20, but for the Biden administration.

MOULTON: Well, I think the Biden administration is handling this incredibly well. I mean, they've been right all along about the Ukraine war and they continue to support Ukraine not just because it's the right thing to do for Ukraine, not just because it's stopped Russia in its tracks, in its ever widening and expansionist plans for Europe, but because it sends a message to China. That if they have designs on Taiwan, they're going to find a United World community that stands ready to oppose it.

Now this is of course why a stronger statement would be even better, but the way that the United States with the president, with Secretary Blanken, has been able to unite so many countries around the world, behind us, behind Ukraine, that sends a powerful message. Again, not just to Russia, but to China as well.

SCIUTTO: Final question. We have a presidential election coming up next year. You may have noticed the polls for the incumbent president are not good and they haven't been good for some time. Not just on approval ratings, but handling the economy and his age. Should a Democrat challenge Biden for the nomination?

MOULTON: Well look, you know we're in a country where you're welcome to do that, but I think a lot of Democrats just look at the president and all that he's accomplished and have a lot of respect for President Biden and all that he's done. And we'd love to see the next president, i.e., Joe Biden, do the same, have a lot of Democratic legislative accomplishments that we that we can achieve for the American people.

SCIUTTO: You're not uncomfortable when you see how close Biden comes out to Trump in those general election preference polls?

MOULTON: I am. I am uncomfortable, Jim. There's a lot at stake here and the risks of a second Trump term are hard to even estimate, I think. But you know, that's a -- it's a dangerous situation for the country, for sure.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Seth Moulton, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate having you.

MOULTON: Thank you, Jim.


SANCHEZ: Novak Djokovic's U.S. Open win is one for the history books. We'll show you the highlights when we come back.



SANCHEZ: 36-year-old Novak Djokovic is the U.S. Open champion for a fourth time, his 24th Grand Slam title. CNN's Don Riddell joins us now. Don. Djokovic seems to be getting better with age.

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, it's just amazing, isn't it? Remember when Pete Sampras got to 14 major titles and we all said that will never happen again? And then Federer got to 20, Nadal is at 22. And here we are with Novak Djokovic now at 24. It is just absolutely extraordinary. A brilliant final against Daniel Medvedev on Sunday, Djokovic, though winning it in straight sets. And at the end, Medvedev was like, why are you even still here? What are you doing? You're 36- years of-age.

But this guy Djokovic is showing no interest in stopping. Fully expect him to come back next year and keep winning more majors. It is almost impossible now to deny him the title of the Goat -- the greatest of all time.

Huge weekend at the U.S. Open. It wasn't just Djokovic making history. We also saw the young American Coco Gauff, who's still only 19, winning her first major title. She beat Aryna Sabalenka in the women's final on Saturday in three sets. Just an amazing achievement for Coco Gauff. And like Djokovic, we expect her to win many more after this. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: An incredibly bright future for her. Don Riddell, thanks so much.

Really. A big weekend.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the Coco Gauff game and match was fantastic. And she was down the first set, didn't look great for her, came back and she looks like a champion.

KEILAR: I love that look on her face where you can just see, like the elation.




KEILAR: Almost -- I mean, she deserved it. You could see it coming, but almost the disbelief.

SANCHEZ: It was so cool to see her as a spectator when she was a little girl all those years ago --

SCIUTTO: Watching Serena.

SANCHEZ: -- watching, knowing perhaps that one day she be on that court.

KEILAR: Really something.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.