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Hurricane Ian Takes Aim At Florida As Cat 3 Storm; Officials: Hurricane Ian May Be "Worst Case Scenario" For Tampa; Mandatory Evacuation Order For Manatee County; Sources: Trump Lawyers Sidelined From Mar-A-Lago Case; Trump-Ally Roger Stone Called For Violence Before Election Day; Raskin: Stone "Saw Where Things Were Going Before Jan.6"; Tomorrow: Jan 6 Cmte Resumes Public Hearing; Midterm Elections Will Decide Control Of Congress. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 27, 2022 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST, AT THIS HOUR: Right now, this dangerous storm as it heads towards that state. Thank you so much for watching us. At This Hour, I am Kate Bolduan. Inside Politics with John King, starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your busy news day with us. Devastation and fear, Hurricane Ian expected to get stronger. Forecasters warning now, we may see a worst-case scenario for Florida's west coast.

Plus, a January 6 committee teaser, a documentary film crew captures Roger Stone, openly calling for insurrection day violent. It is part of the evidence we are likely to see as the committee prepares for a public hearing tomorrow. And a critical midterm battleground. One Democratic congresswoman says what happened in two Pennsylvania districts, will tell us everything about which party controls the House next year.

To begin the hour though with Hurricane Ian and in Florida now bracing for its arrival. Cat 3 storm on a direct path toward the Sunshine State, already packing maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Ian expected it to strengthen over the next 24 hours. Local officials now making urgent pleas for people to evacuate.

The storm did make landfall this morning in Cuba, heavy rains and winds hammering the small island nation. Around Tampa, flooding is the major concern, forecasted storm surges of up to eight feet. The current track within center 10 miles from St. Pete, if that holds true, it would be the closest pass to Tampa for major hurricane since 1950.

CNN covering the storm from all angles. Carlos Suarez live on the ground for us outside of Tampa. First, let's get to the weather center and CNN's Chad Myers. Chad, what's the very latest?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, the 11 o'clock advisory came in. And also, now the American model did come in just in the past about 10 minutes. And it does appear that the storm is still trending to the south, away from Tampa and maybe closer to or even south of Sarasota, putting Charlotte Harbor into really dire straits. We need to get you out of there.

And when our A and B's zones with this storm, it is still gaining strength. It was over Cuba for about four and a half hours today. But now it's back in the water. And because it's back in the water, it will continue to gain strength up to about 130 miles per hour.

This is not a point we always say that. Normally we say that because we want you to look at the cone. This is not a point because this storm is so big. There will be hurricane winds for 60 miles wide. And some of the areas we're going to see cat 3 winds probably 30 miles wide. We're also going to see significant surge, that surge is going to push water into Punta Gorda into places just south of Cape Coral.

These are the areas that are only about three or four feet above sea level and house is built on top of that. Not as much surge in Tampa, I don't think if we get landfall down here, but this is Port Charlotte. And if you get landfall up here in Port Charlotte, we're going to push that water here. And that's nine feet.

And if your floor is three feet, that means there could be six feet of water all surrounding your home. Here's what the radar looks like now, the eye is offshore. That's when we expect it to begin to grow. This is very warm water. This isn't going to die. This is going to keep, keep getting stronger. It's just the placement.

But if you're in this area, you need to understand the difference between what's going to happen here. And what's going to happen here. There's going to be wind everywhere, there's going to be surge to the south, there's going to be 20 to 25 inches of rain, John.

So even if you miss the eye, there's plenty of spots that are going to get flooding anyway with fresh water. We have Tornado watch in effect, because some of these storms that are coming on shore are rotating. We have eight million people in hurricane warnings right now and these are the areas.

This area here, right around Tampa all the way up to Orlando could see between 15 and 20 inches of rain in the next 48 hours. It's hard to get away from this thing. I'm telling my friends to kind of go southeast rather than northeast out of here, because you're going to be in the way as that storm continues to move that direction, John?

KING: Chad Myers, grateful for the very latest. We of course, will stay in touch as we watch the important 24 hours ahead. Let's get now to CNN's Carlos Suarez. He's near Tampa. He's in Gulfport Florida. Carlos, what are you seeing there?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. So that shift to the south really is the talk right now among business owners out here because that might give some relief when it comes to the storm surge associated with Hurricane area for this part of the Tampa Bay area. That however is not stopping business owners from getting ready. Just about every business here in Gulfport, at least where we are live right now has plywood up. They've got their sandbags out. They are ready for this storm. You keep walking towards the Marina side, and you just run after business after business that has a tarp out. They've got the sandbags out. They've also got just everything in place ahead of whatever impact we might get with this storm.


Now earlier this morning, we did receive word of yet another mandatory evacuation over in Hillsborough County. So, that brings the total number of folks in that part of the county are being told that they have to leave their homes to nearly 400,000 people.

Here in Pinellas County, we're talking about two mandatory evacuation orders, including the barrier islands of St. Pete, all of these folks are being told they have to leave their homes, especially because so much of this is in a flood zone. They had to be out of here by tonight. The concern still remains the flooding that we might see because of the storm surge.

But again, John, the folks here, they are breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief because they feel like if the storm goes a little bit further south, then things might be a little bit better when it comes to all of that water coming in, John?

KING: Carlos Suarez, live on the ground. Carlos Suarez, appreciate the reporting. We will stay in touch again as we walk through the next several important hours. Let's get some perspective now from Mayor Gene Brown. He is the mayor of Bradenton, Florida. The mandatory evacuation order has been issued for parts of that area ahead of the storm.

Mr. Mayor, grateful for your time. You heard Chad Myers talk about the latest. When you talk to your emergency management team. What are you being told to expect today right now this hour compared to maybe earlier this morning or yesterday?

MAYOR GENE BROWN, BRADENTON, FLORIDA: Yes, sir. Thanks for having me. At nine o'clock this morning, obviously, the track had it coming right at us. And as we've seen, it's continued to shift a little bit south. But we're still taking this very seriously. We want all of our citizens to continue to prepare, prepare, prepare, because complacency might end up hurting us in the long haul. But what we want to do is just, you know, keep track of it, and tell all of our citizens to stay safe, hunker down and do what's told when you have to be evacuated or go to the shelters.

KING: Obviously, you're in a very low-lying area. What are you being told is the greatest threat, storm surge, wind, rain, all of the above?

MAYOR BROWN: Well, all of the above. And when you know, depending on what side of the storm you're on, you know, if you're on the south side of it, you're going to get a lot more surge. But if you're on the north side, you might not get as much to some of the weather. But we still have to be prepared, because we know how these things in my whole life living in Bradenton and watching the storms, they may start one way and then come back another way as the day goes forward.

KING: You mentioned that people who've been at this a long time, but sometimes they take it seriously, sometimes they hear one forecast. They say, oh, it's taken a band. Are you convinced that people are listening hour to hour? Are they taking it seriously listening when you say you need to evacuate?

MAYOR BROWN: Yes. I believe that this is probably the most serious in my lifetime that I've seen people, even my dad, and it's, you know, been here his whole life. You know, we're taking this a lot serious than we have in the past, because of what we've seen. We saw in the last couple of years up north and in Mexico beach, and that and people are very concerned. But we've seen the number of sandbags, we've given out been the most we've ever given out. And we're just continuing to prepare.

KING: You say you continue to prepare, hopefully, you are spared the worst. But as you know, coordination, communication critical here in terms of your coordination with the state, the governor's office, coordination with FEMA and the federal government. How is that going at this point? It is there anything at this moment? When you're going through your checklist, you say I need more of this.

MAYOR BROWN: We've been working with all of the agencies, you know, obviously, we're a city with inside Manatee County, working great with our county EOC, with our state partners, with federal everything so far that we've been talking about. And you know, we needed some generators. They're getting to us.

And right now, when you look at it, it's kind of a wait and see, because if it does go farther south than anything we got, we're going to share with our partners to the south in the counties, because this isn't just about us, it's about all of us working together, depending on where it comes in. And we'll be there to help if it doesn't hit us directly.

KING: You mentioned your lifetime there. You mentioned your dad thinking this could be the worst, he has seen in this community. How you're trying to get that message. What are you doing? Obviously, you're being here as part of it. What are you doing to convince people, take this seriously? You know, sometimes you're near the end of the hurricane season, people are back to school. It's been a stressful couple of years, maybe people think this one's going to miss us. How do you convince them? Stay tuned in here, listen.

MAYOR BROWN: Well, to continue through our social media through obviously, the shows here. I mean, it's something that the more we get out there saying, you know, hey, this is serious. And also obviously, watching things on TV and seeing what's happening has been a wake-up call. Again, I think, to me, it's the part that hit you know, in the Norfolk last year with Mexico beach and seeing that, because we have a lot of beach communities around us that if something hits like that, it devastates us and so people are taking it serious, and I really feel that this time more than any and even if we do get missed, we still have to prepare.


KING: Amen for that. Mayor Gene Brown in Bradenton, Florida. Sir, I know you're very busy. Really appreciate your time and we'll stay in touch in the hours and days ahead as we watch this play out. Thank you, sir.

MAYOR BROWN: Yes, sir, thank you.

KING: Thank you. Ahead for us, some brand-new reporting on Trump's newest addition to his legal team and a new wrinkle.


KING: We're bringing some brand-new CNN reporting now on a big change in Donald Trump's legal team. Two sources telling CNN that Chris Kise, the former Florida solicitor general, who just started representing the former president weeks ago, is now being sidelined from the Mar-a- Lago documents case. Let's get to our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. For more Kaitlan, what happened?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It hasn't been that long since Chris Kise was brought on to the president's legal team. He's the former solicitor general of Florida. That's really part of the reason why he was brought on here to help given this investigation is mainly centered in Florida.

And now despite the fact that he was brought on to help with this Mar- a-Lago case ever since the raid of the search of former President Trump's home. I'm told he's basically been sidelined from dealing with the documents investigation and is not actually leading the legal team's efforts when it comes to this investigation.


Now, I am told he's does still remain on the legal team. He may be working on some of the other investigations that Trump is dealing with. John, we know there's several of those, including the ones dealing with the civil lawsuit in New York, looking into Trump's business practices, the January 6 investigation that's based out of Washington, D.C. A lot of investigations that he could potentially work on, but it's notable that he's not leading the efforts when it comes to the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

Part of that reason is because he was hired with a $3 million price tag. That is what was paid for by Trump's outside campaign arm that was dealing with that $3 million paycheck that Chris Kise asked for upfront. That's something that is notable because obviously Trump has developed his reputation for not always paying his legal fees.

And so, we should note, John, at this comes as we reached out to a Trump spokesman. They told us on the record, Chris Kise's role as an important member of Trump's legal team remains unchanged, and any suggestion otherwise is untrue. But he is not leading the way here on the Mar-a-Lago investigation. It's not precisely explained why he is no longer going to be really mainly dealing with that. But it is notable given, John, that's precisely what he was brought on to deal with, with his experience in Florida law. But now, he's been effectively sidelined from the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

KING: Notable to say the least. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate the important development. We'll keep an eye on and see what role develops in the future. Moving on now somewhat related. Tomorrow, the January 6 committee resumes public hearings. Today, a glimpse, a tough glimpse at some of the panel's shocking new evidence.


KING: The voices you hear there, most of it is Trump ally Roger Stone, the day before the 2020 election, saying skip the counting and kill if necessary to keep Donald Trump in office. That clip obtained by CNN is taken from eight minutes of Danish documentary footage that was turned over to the January 6 committee in the House of representatives.

With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Kasie Hunt, CNN's Melanie Zanona, Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post, and the former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. The committee resumed its public hearings tomorrow. The big question has been, what new evidence can they put forward as they continue to build their case about not just what happened on January 6, but all the planning in the weeks and weeks and weeks from election day through January 6.

This documentary footage, let's before we discuss, listen to a little bit more. I just want to warn you at home, we bleeped out the profanity. But just the subject matter, the content is disturbing.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP'S ALLY: I suspect it will be - I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine tenths a lot. No, we won't, I'm sorry, over where we are wrong.

What they're assuming is the election will be normal, the election will not be normal. Oh, these are the California results. Sorry, we're not accepting that we're challenging them in court. If the elector show-up in the electoral college, armed guards will throw them out. I'm the president. You're not stealing flour, you're not stealing. I'm challenging all of it.


KING: For the record, Roger Stone says that was somehow digitally manipulated, that none of what you just saw happened. It was somehow digitally manipulated. That's what Roger Stone says for the record to the prosecutor. First, its value as evidence. Both for the committee and is it valuable, maybe outside the committee say at the Department of Justice.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: OK. So, let's go to the Justice Department first, John. It is valuable, because it's hard to say that any of those comments or offhand statements or jokes or asides that people could, you know, for the former president all the time says, well, I was kidding, I was teasing, I was joking. So, this is not great for him criminally.

Now, for the January 6 committee, what their case is, and what they're building for is a report that lays out all the information about January 6, and this is valid and valuable for that purpose. Now, look, will this lead to them referring criminal charges, we don't know. But for their goal, putting together a report spot on, it's good stuff.

KING: And we can listen here. This is over the weekend. Jamie Raskin, one of the Democrats on the committee. You understand like, so why is this important? Remember that a lot of people have said a crowd showed up for the Trump rally, then they went up to the Capitol. It was spontaneous. It was unfortunate. Jamie Raskin says this piece of evidence should convince you no way.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D) JANUARY 6TH SELECT CMTE. MEMBER: He's someone who I think, saw where things were going. And there were clearly people who understood, the preparations that were taking in place. And if you think you almost knock over the government of United States, spontaneously, then you haven't been paying close attention.


KING: That's the arc. The committee is trying to build that from election night through insurrection day and even through the Biden inauguration and some would say continuing to today, that this was not an accident, this was not spontaneous, this was a plan.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Right. These clips of Roger Stone really speak to the heart of the select committee's thesis, which is that Trump and his allies never had any intention of accepting the electoral results. If it didn't go Trump's way, and that the violence was planned, it was premeditated. It was part of the plan all along. It was not some spontaneous thing that just happened on January 6.

And the other piece with Roger Stone as we know, he has ties to extremist groups. What the select committee has yet to establish is whether there was a link between Trump and those extremist groups. And whether Roger Stone was a go between or if there was some sort of channel of communication.

We do know from Cassidy Hutchinson testimony that she did, here that Mark Meadows was trying to get in touch with Roger Stone, was directed by Trump to do so the day before January 6, but the committee could start to fill in some of those gaps at the final hearing.

KING: To the point, Melanie, makes about the who is Roger Stone, Roger Stone goes back to Nixon, I've been a Republican offer for a long time has been a known dirty trickster for decades here in Washington. We know oath keepers provided security for him on January 5. He recorded - he was recorded reciting the Proud Boys' oath. He attended the stop steal rally on January 6. He is a longtime associate. KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right? I mean, they've been tied up together for many, many years. And, you know, the thing that struck me listening to what Roger Stone was saying there, when he's trying to claim, oh, these tapes were manipulated. I mean, OK, except that like what he says actually happened, right? Like that's what they did. They did all of the things or tried to do all of the things that Roger Stone lays out in these clips. They took it to court, they tried to claim everything was inauthentic. I mean, there's been reporting about how Donald Trump didn't actually want to vacate the White House.

And then, of course, we had violence on January 6. So, you know, it rings a little bit hollow to me. And, you know, I'm sort of juxtaposing that in my head against, you know, and I think there's another clip from Roger Stone that we haven't shown the audience, but he talks about how the judges that are going to make the decisions are Trump appointed judges, which is also pretty remarkable. But none of those judges actually bought anything that they were trying to sell

KING: That is a key point. But in addition to talking about the violence, just about deny the results, just deny the results, don't accept them, just deny them from day one. So, the committee comes back into the public hearing. The hearings have been remarkable in the sense of new information, new material, and every one of them, they had the summer off. They were gathering new information, they said that new information continued to come in. What are we looking for tomorrow?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, this is definitely the biggest part that they have at least said that we've reported out that we should be able to see tomorrow, but this is likely to be the final hearing. This is a big deal. This is big stakes. There are members who definitely want to push and say, you know what, let's do a couple more before the report comes out at the end of the year. But this could be the final capstone, we've seen them lay out their argument against Trump, against his allies.

But there's still a lot of questions left, and I know a lot of us are going to want to know and maybe members on the panel will tell us at some point, you know, have they heard from Vice President Mike Pence, they were trying to pursue his testimony? Are they going to try and subpoena the former President Donald Trump himself? Could that be something. There's question about secret service text messages that went missing? And also, they were trying to compel testimony from Republicans on the Hill. Where are they on that? Those I think are some of the things that we want to make sure we get to know.

KING: If this were your trial and this are your last hearing? It's the last - it's the closing argument. It's a summation but this is not, this is different. So, what is different? What's the challenge? If you were trying to help the committee, OK, this is the next building block if you will, what's most important?

WILLIAMS: Eyeballs getting people to watch this but remember, the committee has been very coy and using the word saying last public hearing, public hearing. They're going to be doing a lot of work, interviewing other witnesses. Most witnesses, I worked in Congress for years, most witnesses never appear publicly. They have behind the scenes sort of depositions and meetings and briefings.

Those things are going to happen. And we're going to see a big written report at the end of this, not unlike the 911 commission, which is a little bit of a different body, but they put together a beautiful book at the end that laid out the case for the American people.

KING: At every step we have learned for the skeptics out there about the committee and every one of these we have learned more so join us tomorrow please our CNN special live coverage as the January 6 hearings resume. New witnesses and new evidence attack on democracy the January 6 hearings live. Our coverage begins this hour noon Eastern. Up next for us. The biggest midterm questions. The Pennsylvania county critical to Trump 2016, and then Biden 2020, now gets a giant say in crucial 2022 races.




KING: A little flashback map here. This is the last time we counted a big November election 2020. We count your midterm votes 2022, six weeks from tonight. There are fascinating and consequential races coast to coast. The early clues though will come when the polls close first along the east coast. And one swing County in Pennsylvania likely to tell us a lot.

If you're watching the program on Friday, you'll remember, I was traveling and I was here in Northampton County Pennsylvania. This is 2020. Joe Biden just barely, just barely carries this swing county over Donald Trump, goes on to win the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, goes on to win the White House.

Go back in time to 2016. This is one of our clues about Donald Trump 2016. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a little more than three points there. It goes on to win this county, wins the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, goes on to win the White House. Obama had carried this county twice only went to 25 counties in the entire country. Twice for Obama then for Trump and then for Joe Biden, so why does it matter in 2022?