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Josh Green is Interviewed about Maui; White House Countering Impeachment; Mel and Michael Cherne are Interviewed about their Burning Man Experience; Merkel Cell Skin Cancer. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 04, 2023 - 08:30   ET



GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): Yes, I'd like to be really clear about this. So, while (ph) the number was 1,200 for some time then dropped to 800 and then dropped to 385, the 385 represents what the FBI and the Red Cross and other lists have given us. There are currently 41 active cases being investigated that have been filed as missing persons reports to the Maui Police Department.

So, that's the universe of active investigations. The number 385 is the list of everyone who, in a broad way, will cast a very broad net we have been able to get a name for. What we would like to do is, we'd like to see more people file police reports so instead of just having a first name or just a last name, we have some details so we can get into it.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR: Now, I understand this was a bipartisan delegation that came to visit from Congress. But, at this point, do you believe that the federal government is doing everything it can?

GREEN: I do. The president was very gracious with us. Within six hours he approved our major disaster declaration. He's been extraordinary. I was so appreciative of Speaker McCarthy coming with the bipartisan delegation. Everyone's working together. And I think that's critical for us in America. We need to see that. But particularly for my people on Maui and all of the victims in Lahaina. Everyone was very upstanding. Everyone was very compassionate. And I don't want to see any politics in this one. So, I thank them all.

CORNISH: I know there's been some conversation about what it would mean to rebuild. You've made some moves regarding preventing investors from coming in, sort of predatory investors, to take homes, et cetera.


CORNISH: But let's talk about insurance. Can anyone really feasibly rebuild there, or will insurers decide whether or not it's worth doing?

GREEN: That's a very good question. So, lots there. First of all, yes, we've had over 3,000 homes either totally destroyed or damaged. They're not habitable right now. The people of Lahaina have to choose when to rebuild. They have to be the people that tell us how they want to rebuild. People are getting insurance claims filled. And anyone who had a mortgage is getting it paid, if they choose to take that insurance money and pay it down.

But it's going to be some time. We, of course, are going to have some property damage that's also going to have toxic chemicals on it. The EPA is there right now. This is, again, is going to be a community decision.

I think that there will be opportunities to build in the region, more readily. That means up north or beyond the borders of Lahaina. We have a lot of state land --

CORNISH: But are there fears that claims could be denied? That people will look at what happened here, look at the other climate issues that the - that the island is facing and really have to charge residents to make that decision?

GREEN: Well, if people had insurance, you can bet we're going to insist that that gets paid by the insurers. We have a lot of those issues because we've had lava flows and tsunamis over the years and the insurance market adjust that. That's something that we're going to press very hard for to get our people protection.

CORNISH: You've also been calling for tourists to come back. Now, I understand that it's something like 6,000 acres, this is out of the whole island. But what do you say to people who are uncomfortable coming to the island, they believe using resources that could go to people who are still struggling to rebuild?

GREEN: Well, we are sensitive about that. But people who come to Maui with the exception of the part of west Maui and Lahaina that's been affected, they will be helping us to heal and recover. And those who come to Maui because they have loved it for these many decades, they will help us because people will have their jobs back.

We've dropped by about 70 percent, our travel to Maui. All of Hawaii, of course, is open otherwise, and the rest of Maui is open. We'll make some more announcements in the coming days, but just know in our - in our hearts and - and from you, you will be helping our people if you do come, as long as we're sensitive about Lahaina and that area.

CORNISH: Finally, what's your message to the people right now who are on the island, who really feel like they're struggling? And it looks like it's going to be slow going.

GREEN: That our hearts are broken for them, but we will do everything possible to get all the resources we get directly to families. I'm going to push against predatory behavior. We will try to set up resources that go directly to people much more quickly than usual. We're setting up some large funds with lots of different entities, including The Rock and Oprah and others, to get money directly to people each month. So, there's a lot of financial resources, but it will take time to build housing.

We do have an 18-month plan with FEMA to make sure people have stable housing in the region. I just am so heartsick that people have suffered this kind of loss. But in Hawaii we use the word Ohanna, which means family. And that's how we're going to approach this. And we thank everyone for their great aloha for our state. Everyone who can support should do it through the Hawaii Community Foundation or the Red Cross. That helps our people recover and rebuild.

CORNISH: That's Governor Josh Green. Thank you for your time.


GREEN: Mahalo.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as House Republicans are strategizing about how or when to move forward with a possible Biden impeachment inquiry, the White House is going on offense. We'll tell you how, next.

And a long-lost shipwreck from the 1800s is discovered in Lake Michigan. That remarkable find.

Stay with us.


MATTINGLY: Those are live pictures in Philadelphia where President Biden will speak next hour at a union rally in celebration of Labor Day.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, many Republicans on Capitol Hill are pressing ahead with their preliminary efforts to impeach the current president. And now the White House, not just waiting, it seems like they're going on offense, enlisting two dozen lawyers and legislative liaisons to counter those House efforts.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now from Rehoboth Beach, where President Biden just left.

And, president -- Priscilla, one of the questions I've had on this is, clearly, White House officials don't believe there's any merit to the push for impeachment and yet they're not waiting and seeing what happens next are they?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No, they're pushing back already. But to your point, Phil, White House officials are really monitoring whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy can even summon enough votes to open a formal inquiry. McCarthy has previously said that he would be required to have a House floor vote to open an inquiry. And he also noted that it's not a declaration by one person, which is what GOP hardliners have suggested he can do.

And the reality for McCarthy is that he could only lose four GOP votes. And that is going to be difficult, in and of itself, when there's hesitancy within the Republican conference.


But the White House is not waiting. They're pushing back. As you mentioned, the White House has spent more than a year putting together a team of more than a dozen legal, legislative, and communication experts to push back on Republican-led investigations. That also includes two top attorneys with experience in this space. And we're also told by sources that they are meeting multiple times a week. So, this is clearly front of mind for the White House as the president goes into a very busy September.


MATTINGLY: You know, Priscilla, in terms of how the building operates, the West Wing and the council's office, to some degree the EOB across the street where a lot of the staff is, do they try and keep this piece of it separate from, you know, what the president's going to be talking about today in his remarks in Philadelphia?

ALVAREZ: Yes, the White House is really focusing on the economy. And that is really what's going to be the focus today in Philadelphia. This is an event that's hosted by union members. Of course, they are very important to the president, and they buoyed his bid back in 2020. So, the White House, for its part, really wants to focus on their issues, be it the economy or abortion, which is what the campaign has been putting out ads for, attacking the Republican stance on that front following Roe v. Wade. And so all of that is really going to come together in the weeks to come. At least today, the president going to be speaking about the economy to union members, and not impeachment.


MATTINGLY: All right, Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.

CORNISH: This morning, NASA welcoming home four astronauts after their successful return from a nearly six-month stay at the International Space Station. They were traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour before the crewed Dragon vehicle deployed parachutes and splashed down of the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. The capsule reaching 3,500 degrees as it sliced back into the earth's atmosphere. The astronauts are from the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. They conducted three space walks and oversaw more than 200 science and tech projects during their stint in space.

MATTINGLY: Now to a remarkable discovery in Lake Michigan. The "Trinidad," a schooner missing since its final voyage on May 11, 1881, was found 270 feet under water. That's according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Historians Brendon Baillod and Robert Jaeck, used survivor accounts and sonar to locate the wreck near Algoma in eastern Wisconsin.

Now, officials say it was carrying a load of coal bound for Milwaukee when it suffered a leak and sank. But the entire crew managed to escape. The only loss was the ship's mascot, a newfoundland dog.

CORNISH: Coming up, you'll hear from a festival DJ and his dad who escaped the Burning Man Festival before a rare rainstorm turned the grounds into a sticky mess. Their experience and how they helped others who were stuck in the mud, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're live from Burning Man. We're sinking. I think bare foot's the way to go. The shoes are not working out.


CORNISH: That's Michael Cherne, aka DJ Trips, who performed at this year's Burning Man Festival in Nevada. He, along with his father, finally made it out of the site where heavy rain turned the remote desert into a muddy mess, leaving tens of thousands of attendees stranded.

Joining me now is Michael Cherne and his father, Dr. Mel Cherne. They just got back from the festival.

You guys are in California. And we've seen so many pictures of vehicles kind of stuck in the mud. Can you tell me why yours made it out?

DR. MEL CHERNE, HAS ATTENDED 10 BURNING MAN FESTIVALS: Well, the Burning Man camp, it's -- it has a huge footprint. And our camp was at the back end of it. And you exit through the rear of the camp. So, the roads in the more peripheral margin of the camp were not as chewed up at the inner camp. So, we were on I, J, K. K is the last road. And so what we did is one of my camp members and I, we got on our bikes. We got up at 5:00 on yesterday morning and we rode around and we picked a circuitous (ph) route through the back end of the camp to get to where the exit road was. We knew that once we got on the exit road, we would be able to get out to the pavement. And that's how we got out.

CORNISH: Michael, we heard from DJ Diplo (ph) this morning about how he was able to get out. I wanted to get a sense from you about helping other people at the site. You guys had provisions. Did you have enough? Did you share?

MICHAEL CHERNE, BURNING MAN FESTIVAL DJ WHO WAS STRANDED: Yes, you know, a lot of people actually planned to be there going into today and even tomorrow, because they do - they do kind of like -- they do, they bring The Man on a Saturday and then they'll burn what they have as a temple on Sunday. And a lot of people, even friends that I know that build our pieces out there, they were even already planning on staying until, you know, as late as Wednesday this week. So, you know, a lot of our neighbors, you know, we were giving out food when they left, because we knew they were staying a little longer than us. And, you know, we had people in tents in our camp that we offered, you know, to stay. We also had an RV and our tent in our camp, so we were able to give some people some shelter when it started coming down a little more.

MATTINGLY: Along those lines, Mel, one of the things that I've been trying to square is the stories from the weekend, it seemed, bordering on catastrophic and people very scared to, this is actually what this is all about. This is the community. We prepare for inclement weather or inclement moments to some degree. Can -- where was it for you guys?


MEL CHERNE: We were more at the second end of that range. We're veteran campers. I've been out to the -- my first burn was 2003. So, I've been doing this for 20 years. I've never seen a rain like that out there. But we've been stuck in rain out at Joshua Tree and in Calico and in some of those places it's the same kind of mud. It's - the playa is - it's a dry lake bed. It's the second largest playa in the United States behind Bonneville Salt Flats. The world land speed record over 700 mile an hour was made at the Black Rock Playa, where we're at. Burning Man takes a very small footprint. It's down in the southern part of the playa. The playa is like about 30 miles long. And if you know how to -- the playa -- the surface material is like a silt. And when it's dry, it's very smooth. And that's why it's easy to drive the art cars and bikes on it. But when it gets wet, which is all through the winter, you can't -- it's very sticky, you can't drive in it, you can't hardly even walk in it. And so it's never really rained like this at Burning Man since it started. This is a one off. So, it was interesting --

CORNISH: You said that you're - you said that you're experienced campers. Can you just tell us what worries you do have? Now that you're out, you're looking back at the images, what do you think people should be concerned about?

MEL CHERNE: How sticky the mud is. I mean if you start spinning your tires on your vehicle, you'll, in -- very quickly sink to your axles. So, once you're at your axles, you're not going to get out unless somebody pulls you out.

MATTINGLY: And, Michael, I think you sent a picture of -- over of a rainbow that you said perfectly kind of described the sentiment for those attending burning man. As somebody who's never been, likely will never make it out that way, why? Why?

MEL CHERNE: Come out.

MICHAEL CHERNE: Well, the cool thing about Burning Man is, you know, you definitely - you definitely try to find the small things that could, you know, make the situation better. So, I think that - that Saturday, you know, two days ago, you know, actually the sun came out a little bit, the double rainbow showed up, and you would just hear cheering all around the camps. And, you know, you still couldn't really walk too far. So, we kind of stayed in that section of I my day mentioned and we were around our neighbors. So, honestly, that Saturday night, we all kind of just got together and had a little celebration because The Man was supposed to burn, and he ended up not burning. So we actually did a little - just kind of all hung out. And I think that was a really cool way to kind of salvage that last two days of rain. We all just kind of went under a tent. It wasn't raining Saturday, and we were able just to - you know, just have a good time with all of our neighbors before, you know, people started trying to exit the next day. CORNISH: Well, Michael and Mel Cherne, sorry you missed the burn but

glad you made it out. Thank you.

MEL CHERNE: Great. Thank you.


MATTINGLY: Well, the music world lost a legend. How hundreds of fans in Key West honored the great Jimmy Buffet. That's next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, one, two, three, four.


MATTINGLY: That, of course, was the iconic intro guitar rift to American singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett's classic "Margaritaville." Buffett died on Friday at the age of 76. His fans gathered in Key West, a place near and dear to Buffett's heart, to celebrate the only way Jimmy Buffett fans know how.


CROWD (singing): Wasting away again in Margaritaville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, everybody.

CROWD (singing): Searching for my lost shaker of salt. Salt. Salt. Salt.


MATTINGLY: Buffett had a recording career that spanned decades and included other hits such as "Come Monday" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise." According to an obituary on his website, Buffett had been fighting Merkel cell skin cancer at the time of his death.

Joining us now is CNN medical correspondent Meg Tirrell.

Meg, I think what's interesting, we were just talking about this, skin cancer, very familiar with it. This I was not familiar with. What is it?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a very rare form of skin cancer. About 2,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. It is becoming a little bit more common as the population ages and as the diagnostics get better. But this is something to be aware of because it tends to grow quickly and it can be hard to be treated if you catch it too late. If you look at the five-year survival rates for this, if you catch it when it's localized, the five year survival rate is 75 percent. But if it's spread to other parts of the body, that goes down to 24 percent. So, it's really something to be aware of even though it's rare.

CORNISH: You said there's better diagnostics. What are the other risk factors?

TIRRELL: So, it tends to show up most often in older white men. We find that 70 - or 80 percent of the cases are in people over the age of 70. Men are twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with this. And 90 percent of the cases are in people who are white. So, spending a lot of time in the sun, of course, is a major risk factor for this cancer.

MATTINGLY: Signs and symptoms?

TIRRELL: So, tends to show up in places that are exposed to the sun. The faces is the most common place. But it can show up anywhere. If you find a new bump that's red, pink or purple, and it grows pretty quickly, it usually doesn't hurt, but anything like that is something to go talk to a doctor about. You know, we hear about moles that change. That's something to be aware of. And, you know, be really vigilant and protect yourself when you're in the sun. Sunscreen, cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, all of those things.

MATTINGLY: Meg Tirrell, thank you very much.

TIRRELL: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Go to your dermatologist always.

All right, we are about to look I think at -- President Joe Biden is in Philadelphia, should be heading to that podium in just a short while. Remarks on Labor Day. Also marching on Labor Day, as he always does every year. We're going to keep you posted throughout the course of the day.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.