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Lee County Sheriff Describes Difficult Search Conditions After Ian; Report: Elon Musk Revives Twitter Proposal At Original Price; Sources: Lawyer Refused Trump's Order To Tell Archives All Docs Returned. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 15:00   ET


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In 2004, Lynn would make a huge comeback recording the highly acclaimed album, Van Lear Ros, produced by Jack White. She would be nominated for five Grammys for the album, winning two, including Best Country album. Lynn brought a strong female point of view to country music and was seen as a homespun advocate for ordinary women.

Her career spanned half a century, generating dozens of number one songs from humble beginnings to country music royalty, Lynn never dreamed of being such a success.


LORETTA LYNN, COUNTRY MUSIC: I don't think you can dream for success because I think it's more or less you have to work for it.


ELAM (voice over): Her hard work paid off with a lifetime of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. And as for inspiring future performers, she said they needed to be one of three things.


LYNN: Great, different or first, and I just happen to be different, because I started writing my own songs and didn't realize that the things that I was writing about, nobody want to even talk about them, they were just doing them, you know?



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: It's the top of the hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

It's been six days since Hurricane Ian made landfall and we still do not know how many people remain missing. The death toll is up to at least 106 on the East Coast. A hundred and two of those are in Florida and that makes Hurricane Ian the state's deadliest storm since 1935. One Sheriff described the challenges still facing search and rescue crews.


SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO, LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We have a difficult time identifying property at times because the property is no longer there. Get us the information and the second we're able to, the strike teams will follow up and do the best that we can to identify your loved one that hopefully is safe.


BLACKWELL: More than 430,000 people still don't have power across the state. And some people in Fort Myers Beach, in Sanibel Island, they could be without it for more than a month. Crews right now are really trying to reconnect the devastated barrier islands to the mainland with a temporary gravel bridge. Officials say that permanently rebuilding the bridge will be a long-term project and people in that city, they should be able to return to their homes to survey the damage tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: CNN's Leyla Santiago spoke with search and rescue crews looking for survivors earlier today. Leyla, are they still finding people?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting is that the - the Central Florida Task Force 4 that I spoke with this morning as they were heading out, they were heading out in boats. So they are searching people by land, by sea because this is a beach community and so a lot of folks live on these boats.

I want you to listen to one of the experiences shared by the manager of the search and rescue team, listen.


LT. MATT JAYNES, SEMINOLE CO. FIRE DEPARTMENT: We have a large amount of boats deep in the woods that would normally have people on them. So we're having to go along and find which ones have been locked and secured. And then we did run into a gentleman that did ride out the entire storm on a sail sailboat and he is about 50 feet into the mangroves sitting probably 15 to 18 feet in the air on top of them. And he has a kayak and means of getting back and forth. He was able to - and he's perfectly content and he's going back and forth getting these supplies and figuring his life out. So we just found him sitting there, he was smoking a cigarette and on his cell phone.


SANTIAGO: Pretty incredible stories that the search and rescue teams are telling us. But one of the things and I'll use their own words, they said these are boats that are ending up where they're not supposed to be. I mean just take a look behind me. You can see how these boats, how these massive vessels are ending up in positions given Ian's force.

And so there was a massive effort not just to try to search a bunch of properties on land but also in the mangroves as you heard there from that team leader. And so one of the things that I also found fascinating as I was seeing them off this morning as they went out on - into the water is that they were launching just next to the bridge that goes to Sanibel Island.

And they were talking to me about how access has been such a hard part of their job. One of the greatest challenges and that bridge really makes the point. I mean you can see why they can't get to the other side because we were able to walk on the bridge, what's left on it on the side that we were on, you could see the road cave in, in just where it collapsed.

So the damage, the destruction, the devastation still very much a part of the rescue effort as they try to go boat by boat, house by house what's left of them and tried to find anyone who still may need help, still may want to get out of where they are, Alisyn? Victor?


BLACKWELL: Leyla Santiago, thank you very much for that report.

Let's go now to Bill Veach. He is a council member in Fort Myers Beach, Florida there where Leila was reporting from and his home was destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

Councilman, thank you for being with me.

First, let me ask you about the latest that you know about the searches that are happening where you are, the intensity right now in Fort Myers Beach and what these crews are finding.

BILL VEACH, COUNCIL MEMBER, FORT MYERS BEACH, FL: Well, this damage is unprecedented and it took a while just to be able to get the road in a situation where there was access for the emergency vehicles. When I first came on the island, the morning of the storm, I could get a foot or sorry a block on the island before I had to park and walk.

We - the search and rescue people and the fire department came to the town a couple of days ago saying that they're - the people that were on the island, the people that were coming and going were interfering with the rescue operations. And the town stopped their work, some of the rubble that needs to be cleared to make the road clear may contain remains.

So the rescue crews pleaded with us to close the bridge to the residence and allow them to do their work. I understand there are like 400 search and rescue people at a time running shifts 24 hours a day to try to search every door. They are in their second and third passes through the island now.

BLACKWELL: And are they on those second and third passes? Are they finding people who are waiting for rescue as they're going through?

VEACH: I hear anecdotally that they are. I don't have a lot of solid examples. I try not to interfere and demand too much information from them. I prefer to let them do their job. BLACKWELL: So we heard from the sheriff there in Lee County that

there is no county wide number of people who are missing. Is there a number for Fort Myers Beach that still are unaccounted for?

VEACH: I don't have any hard numbers. Again, I hear people making a plea that friends or family were somewhere on the island and now they have not - no one's going to hold of them. I do know that they've had a number of successful rescues. I heard your story about the gentleman on the boats. I think sometimes it's as simple as someone who has lost their stairs, their stairs washed away or they're elderly and they're up in a high rise and now there's no elevator. Sometimes it's having to dig through the rubble and use dogs to find people.

BLACKWELL: Let's put those pictures back up, control room. This is your home that we're now showing that was destroyed in the storm, I think there are still pictures. So when you see the still pictures, here they are, your home was 90 years old. Tell us were you in it at the time and I understand you're also one of four council members whose home has been destroyed.

VEACH: Yes. One of the five council members, one stayed on the island through the entire storm. He was in a high rise condo. He has since left, again, nine floors without an elevator, without water, without sewer, without electricity is difficult. My house was 90 years old. It was a beautiful - we remodeled it 12 years ago. Absolutely gorgeous house, right on the beach.

There - we also did an addition, which you see in the picture there the yellow structure sitting up, that was an addition we did a few years ago that is up to the modern building codes and this is common in the island that almost everything is on the ground or this old and wooden like that has washed away, but the modern structures like the garage withstood - pretty much intact.

BLACKWELL: We heard from the FEMA administrator who says that when people on these coastal communities, in the coastal communities along waterways rebuild to make informed decisions about rebuilding, will you rebuild there on the waterway? Will you rebuild on the coast?

VEACH: I plan to rebuild and I plan to - well, I have to but I also plan anyway to build up to the modern FEMA building codes. The way they are designed and you can see by looking at the garage is that the water that came through there like a like a giant river is meant to break away the walls and just leave the supporting columns intact and that's exactly what we have with our garage and that's what happened throughout the island with the newer buildings.

BLACKWELL: Well, you obviously personally with the house you're showing us and your community has a long road ahead for recovery. We understand, of course, the President will be there tomorrow to survey the damage. Bill Veach, a councilman there for Fort Myers Beach, thank you so much for being with me.

VEACH: Well, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Just remarkable to see those pictures there of his house and how it broke away through the middle.


All right. Now to this, shares of Twitter surged today and were then halted after Elon Musk reportedly revived his original proposal to buy the social media at the original price.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Financial Reporter Matt Egan and Media Correspondent Donie O'Sullivan joins us now.

Matt, what is going on now? What's happening?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes. This is an amazing twist. I mean, we've seen a lot of corporate battles over the years, but we've never seen anything quite like this, only with Elon Musk. So we have Twitter shares up almost 13 percent halted for news pending. This is on reports that Elon Musk has decided to reverse course and actually go ahead and try to buy Twitter for the originally proposed $54.20.

Now, this is a surprise because it appeared as though both sides were ready to go to court for a trial in Delaware. It was set to begin in two weeks. But the problem for Elon Musk was that he was viewed very widely as the underdog here. He was trying to walk away from this deal, but he had a signed contract. He said he was concerned about bots, but a lot of legal experts did not think that that argument was going to hold up, so who knows, maybe he decided he just wanted to end this on his own terms and go ahead and get this deal closed.

I think what's surprising is that he didn't try to renegotiate for a lower price, because a lot of people thought $54.20 was a rich offer three months ago and we've seen the market come down significantly since then. So it's surprising that he didn't try to get a discount here.

CAMEROTA: I'm so turned around, Donie, honestly. I want to end this on my own terms, frankly. What does this mean for all of us, particularly in the political scene?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: I mean, Matt talks about the financial side of this, but the political side could be huge. There's a potential here that you could have former President Donald Trump back on Twitter by the midterms if everything were to go most - the way, if this were all to play out. What we have heard from Musk over the past year is that he said he would allow Trump back on the platform and just think about all the ramifications that it could have.

Right now, obviously, he has secluded to his own social media platform where he gets nowhere near the reach. So that will be a - one of the key decisions that is facing Musk if and when he takes over Twitter.

BLACKWELL: And this is coming right after he offered this, I guess vote or survey on an unsolicited peace plan between Russia and Ukraine. Elon Musk, obviously, know - is never shy about controversy.

O'SULLIVAN: No. Yes, yesterday he put a, as one does with international diplomacy in times of war, a Twitter poll on a solution to the war in Ukraine. One that was viewed very much so as being pro- Russia and we saw a lot of Ukrainians, including, Zelenskyy coming out and criticizing Musk for that. Then, of course, 24 hours later, we now get this news.

And in the middle of all of this, there are people, a lot - thousands of people who work at Twitter, people who are just trying to do their job, and they are seeing their company on this roller coaster over the past year. And I want to show you a tweet that one employee just posted in the past hour or two as this news broke. "Living the plot of succession is effing exhausting."

And I think that from a Twitter employee really sums up the feeling among many of the people that I'm speaking to at the company today.

CAMEROTA: Now, can this really happen in the next five weeks or will there be all sorts of more legal hiccups?

EGAN: Well, I don't think we could rule out anything at this point, right? I mean, all of this is pretty crazy. But listen, if I were Twitter, I would take this deal and run because you never know if Elon Musk is going to change his mind again. We haven't heard from Twitter yet, but if they take this Elon Musk, this apparent Elon Musk offer at face value, they could drop their lawsuit, they could say, hey, we have a new deal.

Regulators have already signed off. Shareholders have also signed off. This was the last obstacle, albeit it was a big one. And so yes, we could see a situation where maybe even within days, we get the world's richest person controlling one of the most powerful, influential social media platforms and to Donie's point that raises so many questions about freedom of speech, and misinformation and the future of democracy.

CAMEROTA: Stop this crazy ride and let me off right now. Donie, Matt, thank you both very much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, guys.

Sources tells CNN a lawyer for Donald Trump refused to follow the former president's order that involve lying to the National Archives. What this could mean for his legal battle with the DOJ that's next.

CAMEROTA: And as Russian President Putin illegally annexes parts of Ukrainian territory his troops are on the run in those same areas.



BLACKWELL: Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, is getting an update now on the recovery after Hurricane Ian. Let's listen in.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: ... and access. And that means - and I went, I visited the Publix, Publix is just giving away all their perishable items. They're going to open as soon as the bridge is back, they have generator, they're going to be back open on Pine Island and they're going to be bringing their supplies in, so that's going to be really, really important to be able to get that component done.

I will say probably saw more debris on Pine Island than any place I've been other than Fort Myers Beach. The electrical, a lot of poles down, you had other lines down and so no one had done anything about the power there. So today, when I went, we also had brought over via Chinook helicopters, we brought over linemen to be starting the work on the electrical there.


And so that's going to be - and that's going to be important and we want to do the same thing for Sanibel as well. So there's a contract now being bid on for a contractor to come and patch the causeway. Now, that's a little bit more difficult fix then Pine Island because it's broken in multiple ways, but I think you can get a temporary solution there to be able to restore access to Sanibel and Captiva, and I think that will also help with the recovery efforts and the restoration efforts.

I have not been on the ground yet in Sanibel, I've flown over it a couple times, I'm going to probably go tomorrow and look firsthand. But my sense is, is that it's similar to Pine Island. We just need more linemen there, we need the debris cleared. I know the guards been there clearing the roads, but very, very important that we do that because you got all this stuff going on and it's - and this - what we're doing here are important.

Our view at the state level, is you do all this stuff on parallel tracks, you don't wait until one thing is done, and then begin to start the next. We know we have to do all these, so let's start them all and move them forward. So as part of that effort, Kevin Guthrie (ph), we're going to start having on each of these barrier islands, Pine Island, Captiva some of the others a command and control element on the island so that all this stuff can be coordinated there. If they need something, then we obviously can be there.

So that's going to be something that's very, very significant. And it'll really help get those barrier islands going back in a better direction. So I'm proud that we were able to do that. I was also in Charlotte County. We've got people from all over this country that have come in to help people all throughout Florida, but particularly in southwest Florida.

One of the charity organizations there is a group out of Kansas City called Operation BBQ. And if you want barbecue being out of Kansas City's not a bad place to be from and so they're serving hot meals for people, and they're distributing a bunch, people can come in and align individually and it's really making a big difference.

I will say in Charlotte County, in Port Charlotte where we're at, there's debris. There's been damage and so folks need, need all the help they can get. So I'm really happy to see the private organizations and the First Lady's been involved, of course, and She's going to say something about that in a minute. But I think it's been really remarkable the number. I think Chick-fil-A is here today, right? They have the Chick-fil-A in town ...

BLACKWELL: Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, there in Fort Myers, giving update on the recovery. Of course, saying how much time and effort it will take to rebuild all that we've seen, but highlighting those corporations and those community groups that have come in and are, as he said, Publix there, the grocery store giving away perishables, people feeding others as well. And he talked about Pine Island as well, where he said there's more debris there than any other place that he's seen other than Fort Myers Beach.

CAMEROTA: Which really paints a picture because we've all seen Fort Myers Beach and what that looks like so you can imagine what Pine Island is looking like right now.

All right. Meanwhile, months before the FBI recovered those dozens of classified and top secret documents from Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump told his lawyer to say that all White House Records requested by the National Archives had been turned over. This is according to multiple sources.

BLACKWELL: And they say that lawyer, Alex Cannon, refused to follow the order.

With us now CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor, Elie Honig, and former adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye, welcome back to you both.

Ellie, let me start with you on the legal question. If this account is accurate that the former president told Alex Cannon, just tell them we gave them all they asked for, knowing that was not true, is that alone evidence of a crime?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Victor, it's crucial evidence of Donald Trump's knowledge and intent. And that often is the most difficult thing for prosecutors to prove. Here's why. When Donald Trump says, hey, let's tell the archives that we've turned over everything, that they have everything we have. That's false. We know for a fact that's false. There were still not a few but thousands of documents left at Mar-A-Lago.

And so the question is - was that an honest mistake by Donald Trump or did he know that was false. Now we know that the lawyer said, no, I can't go along with that, Mr. Trump, I can't sign on to that. The reason is lawyers are not allowed to lie. Lawyers are not allowed to sign on to statements that they know are false. So if I'm a prosecutor, I'm looking at that crucial evidence of Donald Trump's state of mind.

CAMEROTA: But Elie, his attorney basically said he couldn't attest to it because he didn't know whether that - he didn't know it was a lie, in other words. He just said, I don't know whether you've turned it all over or not, so I'm not going to attest to that.

HONIG: Yes. So I think the natural follow up the prosecutors want to ask is, well, what happened after that conversation? There had to have been something after the lawyer says, I can't sign on to that. Well, what's the response that then comes back from Donald Trump? Does Trump tell him I'm telling you it's true? I mean, clearly, the lawyer was never satisfied in the truthfulness of that statement enough to sign on to it.


So, absolutely, Alisyn, it's important to know what the follow up conversations were but it's hard to see them ending up in a place that would be exonerating towards Donald Trump, given that the lawyer never did sign on.

BLACKWELL: Olivia, from a national security perspective, those 15 boxes were handed over, obviously, in January. There were more documents that were taken as part of that search warrant in August, obviously, after it was taken in June, 33 boxes, including the most sensitive documents. What do you make of this reporting that in January he was saying they got all they need?

OLIVIA TROYE, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY & COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR TO VP MIKE PENCE: Yes, it's clearly an intent to stall and he clearly was lying to the National Archives in terms of whether he had the documents or not. And those documents don't belong to him, that's the bottom line. And so, I also think that it puts that lawyer down in Florida in an interesting situation, right?

Because we do know that that attorney down there at Mar-A-Lago, I guess, attested to the fact that they had returned these documents. And so now you've got two lawyers with the same client along the way, questioning sort of the scenario here, in terms of who's telling the truth. But good on Alex Cannon for being aware enough to know I'm not sure that I can speak to this if I don't know it firsthand, at least.

CAMEROTA: Olivia, I want to stick with you, because - and switch gears to Sen. Ron Johnson. Since January 6th, Sen. Ron Johnson has been trying to claim that it was not an armed insurrection. I don't know how he thinks 150 police officers got grievously injured, some of them, without weapons.

There were weapons on January 6th, that is proven. There were also firearms. And one of the things he's been trying to say is, well, it wasn't armed because there were no guns. Actually, police confiscated guns from some of the insurrectionists on the Capitol grounds. So he's wrong on every single point. But here again this morning, he was trying to say - but then he kind of contradicted himself, it's hard to make sense of it, here he is.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Recall what happened on January 6th as an armed insurrection, I just think it's not accurate. You saw the saw pictures inside the Capitol (inaudible), the armed insurrectionists staying in the rope lines in the Rotunda.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Okay. And so it's not an armed insurrection, but the armed

insurrection has stayed in the rope lines in the Rotunda. Do you understand what he's saying here?

TROYE: Yeah. Not an armed insurrection, but people were tased, people were hurt, officers lost their lives. There were gallows hanging outside and I'm confident that had those people found my former boss, Mike Pence, they likely would have killed him. And that would have been the loss of a life of a sitting Vice President of the United States.

So I don't know why Ron Johnson continues to espouse these types of lies other than I think he tries to flip the script and give a completely alternative universe of a narrative. But this is also a man who's also espoused anti-COVID things, anti-COVID vaccine things, conspiracies. This is who this individual is.

And look, people like him, honestly, I really, truly believe do not belong in office. It's really just an irresponsible behavior pattern by these individuals who take an oath to represent the American people and it's really they're just actually doing us a disservice.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I mean, he's creating a distinction that doesn't hold up, but even in common sense or court, I mean, if you bust somebody to hit with a flagpole, that's a weapon.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.


CAMEROTA: And there were guns there, by the way.

BLACKWELL: Exactly, there were firearms too.

CAMEROTA: That - if he's throwing that distinction, there were firearms.

BLACKWELL: All right. Olivia Troye, Elie Honig, thank you both.

CAMEROTA: So the Biden administration just announced another round of military aid to Ukraine as the country's counter offensive is having success and is forcing some Russian troops out of certain areas, all of that is next.