tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN August 28, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
are the ones that need the most help from their neighbors. >> officer shannon sims, director there at san antonio animal care services, thank you for all you're doing. i appreciate it and i'm sure those pet owners do as well. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me here. special coverage continues in washington. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. good afternoon to you. i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm brianna keeler in for jake tapper today. we're beginning with breaking news in the national lead. president trump about to hold a news conference, this coming jst days after hurricane harvey slammed into the texas coast and began unloading a staggering amount of rain on the state. 11 trillion with a t, gallons of rain and counting. at least 7 people have died on the flood plain, and this is nowhere near over. this is when the president will
likely face questions on the friday night moves that he made when the nation's attention was turned to this national disaster emergency, including pardoning the controversial former sheriff joe arpaio who was convicted of criminal intent in the handling of his immigration crackdown policies. in the meantime, the president met in the oval office with the president of finland and he spoke to reporters. >> this is a historic amount of water. there's never been anything like it. so the people are handling it amazingly well and the people of texas, as you know, have really persevered. and when you watch the spirit and the enthusiasm and helping each other, the teamwork, it's really been something for people to say -- even they would say it's been pretty incredible in finland. >> my panel is here to talk about all of this as we await the president's press conference and we even have action out in force with lifesaving attempts that are going on right now as
we speak. i do want to begin with cnn's brian todd. he is in houston where that's more than 2,000 people have been rescued. brian, earlier you were on an air boat with some of those first responders. what are you seeing now? >> reporter: well, brianna, it was a harrowing scene earlier on this, but we're back in downtown houston getting pounded from another feeder band from this hurricane as it moves ex krus excruciatingly slowly over us. the people have become a huge part of the story here as the rain continues to pound their neighborhoods. floodwaters are still rising in houston and its suburbs, making rescue a priority. in house after house, stranded residents signalling for help. merrill rice and her daughter lisa are in their house when
everything rose. >> the water just took over everything. >> reporter: they were up all night and huddled on the hood of their car until they were rescued by good samaritans. >> i thank god for these gentlemen! >> reporter: another resident, beverly johnson, was wait ing o her car since last night. flood rescues are a priority in texas as rain continues to pour down. houston's mayor says more than 2,100 people have been rescued by high water, some by coast guard helicopter. countless more have been rescued by private individuals using jet skis, kayaks, even canoes. this comparison by the "new york times" shows how deep the water is just west of downtown houston. on the left is a normal day, and on the right is the flooding now. flooding will only worsen in the coming days, forecasters say. about 25 inches more rain could fall in addition to about 25
inches that has already come down. more than 6,000 victims have already been evacuated to centers in houston and friendswood, and authorities are bracing for that to reach up to 30,000 as flooding worsens under the continuing rain. >> we're going to have to leave because it's just too much water. >> reporter: overnight authorities made an excruciating choice, intentionally releasing water from two dams in west houston because they're so full. >> if they don't do it, they hold back the water and it builds up, then it will go around addicks and the situation would be exponentially worse. >> reporter: but that means even more floodwaters will hit residents down strestream. residents downstream force tod evacuate even though it hasn't hit their homes. yet. we're showing you live pictures of folks who took up refuge in the convention center in downtown houston.
these we're told are 2500 at least, those who are in the shelter. we have now 7 deaths total from the hurricane, brianna, and i can tell you having been in the really flooded neighborhoods, the death toll could easily rise given how difficult it was that we witnessed, how difficult it was for people in air boats or any kind of watercraft just to get to those people's houses. they could be pulling people out for days. brianna. >> brian todd in houston, thank you for that. as we wait to hear from president trump, we join the president's political panel to talk about the president's very busy weekend, and also what he has ahead of him as he addresses this natural disaster. bill crystal, you look to the president heading tomorrow to this disaster zone or really getting as close to it as he can. this is a test for a president when you're talking about this. what do you think about the response so far of president trump and his administration. >> it's hard to tell, obviously, and we'll know much more later.
i do think we want to remember that john kelly, the very capable chief of staff, was secretary of homeland security before becoming chief of staff, and fema, the federal land management administration. he's a four-star general and is probably pretty good at getting things organized and happening on time. it looks to me like the federal government response has been competent. >> there is a lot ahead, of course, jen, but as someone who worked for the former president and saw his reaction through various disasters, what do you think? >> it's really tricky figuring out when the right time to go is, whether you're a democrat or a republican. you want to be there to show your support, but any president who goes uses a significant amount of local resources. now, local authorities and officials have been pretty supportive of trump. politically they're aligned with him. i'm not sure how much that has to do with it. but it's very tricky because you take up local forces, emergency services, sometimes roads and streets are shut down, and those are areas that really need to be
focused on recovery. so it's a gamble to go tomorrow. >> and we know at this point that looking at corpus christi and austin as well, which is somewhat removed, but corpus christi, that's an area that saw certainly some damage. it's not the same as, say, going to rockport, but this is the balancing act, right? >> that's right, and i have no doubt that john kelly is thinking about all of these things. i think the issue is people are being evacuated from their homes as we speak. they're being moved to austin and corpus christi and a lot of different areas. so it's just a tough calculation. and sometimes you think it's going to be okay and you get to the ground and you're using resources you shouldn't be using, local authorities and emergency vehicles are being used, and so to me it feels a little soon, but i guess we'll see how it goes tomorrow. >> jack kingston, former congressman from georgia, you know about all this, representing a district along the georgia coast, seeing disasters through the years and seeing the response of various
presidents, right? >> yes, and one of the trickiest parts that washington is going to call certain shots, but locally you have to have cooperation, so you have to have all these mayors and county commissioners and sheriffs, everybody has to be in step. one of the things we found over and over again in savannah was we would say, you need to evacuate, get out of town by wednesday. well, guess when they left? friday. you would open up both sides of the interstate, no incoming traffic, and yet all four lanes out of town were still bumper to bumper moving 2 miles an hour because everybody waits until the last minute. but then, you know, iv've i've evacuated cats and dogs and different generations of people. you want to make sure the medicine is there, you want to make sure the food is there. you want to have your comforts. it's a tricky process when you're talking about thousands and thousands and even millions of people. >> we're expecting that the president is going to be asked about this. he will have a somewhat limited news conference here with the
president of finland. what kinds of things do you expect he could be asked and the things he needs to address? >> i think one of the big things that people are just going to be curious about is whether or not he will be able to work with congress to get funding, because as we've heard from federal agencies over the weekend, the impact on texas and these communities that have been hit really hard could be not just days and weeks but really years, so to be sure they have appropriate funding. and in an environment where the president cannot pass a lot of things they want to do, can they get federal funding when we're also facing a governme government shutdown will be one of the president. the president has clearly demonstrated via twitter that he's been engaged, he followed the storm 14 different times over the weekend about it. he also tweeted about his trip to missouri on wednesday saying republicans will win that senate seat. he also tweeted about the wall he wants to build on the southern border. so i suspect he'll also get questions about the other things he's paying attention to other than what's going on in texas
right now. >> that's right, and he had a very busy weekend, and this will be the first time he gets to respond and is asked questions, we expect, about this storm. all of you stick around with me as we await president trump. we are moments away from the president speaking as we watch this catastrophe unfolding in texas. you can see there are reporters getting ready as the president is going to address alongside the finnish president members of the press there at the white house. we're also getting reports about e-mail investigations that appear to show attempts to build a trump tower in moscow, in russia, during the campaign. there is so much more ahead of us here, and we're going to see what the president has to say about it. stay with us. i'm leaving you, wesley. but why? you haven't noticed me in two years. i was in a coma.
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lead." we're looking at live pictures there as we are just moments away hearing from president trump at the white house. my political panel here with me. this is a press conference that is coming as we witness really unbelievable flooding in texas. also a slew of controversial moves coming from the white house. it started with firing sebastian gork arka the criticism preside trump faced after pardoning former sheriff arpaio. of course, this all happening as the president faces his first national disaster emergency on his watch. i want to bring in sara murray. sara is at the white house for us. what are we expecting from this press conference, sara? >> reporter: brianna, as you pointed out there, there is a lot happening today. the president is expected to make more comments about hurricane harvey and the efforts there. but in addition to that, you'll
have american press in that press conference as well as foreign press, and the foreign press may have other things at the top of his mind, such as the u.n. strategy in afghanistan, plus russia aggression. >> and the storm we're expecting him to be asked about that. the storm is a major test for the administration. how has he responded so far? >> reporter: it is, and i think as your panel pointed out there, it's tricky to know the right time to go through an area going through a catastrophe. so far the things we've seen on the president are on twitter. this will be a chance for him to speak to the american public on camera tomorrow. he's going to corpus christi tomorrow along with the first lady and holding up the option of going back over the weekend, back to texas and presumably to louisiana to tour some of these
flood-ravaged areas. but the key here is to time it so they're going to a place that's not a search and rescue effort. that's the reason they chose corpus christi because you don't want to draw resources away from what current officials are trying to do there. >> right, uit's expected but no necessarily the middle of it. you are watching top aides who have been seated, cabinet members seated there in the front row there in the east room of the white house as we await president trump. he could face some questions about the growing scrutiny on a series of e-mails that show donald trump's company was looking to build a trump tower in moscow while he was running for president. the "new york times" is reporting that these e-mails show a trump business associate pushing for this deal, bragging about his ties to vladimir putin and how this could help get donald trump elected. i want to go now to cnn's monu raji. tell us how these e-mails will help the investigation, monu.
>> reporter: we now saw the president on three different occasions discuss the hotel project in moscow with robin curnow. now they say on january 16, he wrote an e-mail to one of the president's most trusted aides and talks between the two have stalled. this would be about a trump official that we know today and a moscow official. this is a man known as felix sader, a trusted business associate of the president. sader said in an e-mail, quote, our boy can become president of the usa and we can engineer it, saying he would get the putin's team buy-in for the project. now cohen is downplaying the matter in a statement to cnn saying, in late 2016, i abandoned the moscow proposal because i lost confidence that
the prospective license see would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition. they made that recommendation to reach out to that putin aide, but brianna, all these developments undercut the president's regular claims that there were no business dealings whatsoever with russia. >> they certainly do, and monu, this isn't the only e-mail under review that shows an attempt to connect the trump campaign with russian officials, right? >> that's right, brianna. last week cnn reported about an e-mail that a top aide turned over to the hill that showed him reviewing a message from an individual from west virginia who wanted to set up a meeting with the trump campaign and vladimir putin. the man is a 54-year-old contractor who also informed gop center shelley moore capito.
he wanted to talk to the russian campaign about contacts. trump said he was simply trying to relay his own message from a friend who owned christian organizations who wanted to discuss, quote, shared christian values with the campaign. dearborn, we're told, rejected the request and said it should go through the state department. but intelligence officials say, brianna, this is a growing practice between officials to try to grow alliances between conservative groups to try to grow the political perception. >> we have eyes on the east room where we are awaiting president trump at the press conference with the finnish president. actually, here he is. let's listen in.
>> thank you. thank you very much. it is my great honor to welcome president ninocho to the white house. we just concluded a very positive meeting and i want to begin today by extending my thoughts and prayers for those affected by hurricane harvey and the catastrophe of flooding and all of the other difficulties that they're currently going through in houston, in southeast texas, and now it's looking more and more like the state of louisiana will be also affected. my administration is coordinating closely with state and local authorities in texas and louisiana to save lives, and we thank our first responders and all of those involved in their efforts. we're working directly with texas governor greg abbott who, by the way, is doing a fantastic
job, and his entire staff likewise, as well as with governor john bell edwards who is very much involved in starting the process of louisiana. we've pledged our full support as texas and louisiana battle and recover from this very devastating and historic storm. there's probably never been anything like this. under the supervision of fema, administrator brock long, there has been a tremendous amount of work done. he has been so outstanding in so many ways. more than 8,500 federal workers are involved in the texas effort alone. i've also today declared emergencies in louisiana at the request of governor edwards. recovery will be a long and
difficult road, and the federal government stands ready, willing and able to support that effort. right now the single most important thing is the safety and security of those still in harm's way, including the first responders who have been so terrific and brave. protecting the lives of our people is my highest priority. every asset at my command is at the disposal of local officials. tragic times such as these bring out the best in america's character, strength, charity and resilience are those characters. we see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend and stranger helping stranger. you see that all over. you watch it on television, you just see such incredible work and love and teamwork. we are one american family. we hurt together, we struggle
together, and believe me, we endure together. we are one family. to the people of texas and louisiana, we are 100% with you. we're praying for you, we're working closely with your leaders and officials, and i will be visiting the impact zone tomorrow to ensure that you're receiving full support and cooperation from the federal government. and on saturday we think we're going back to texas and also we will be going to louisiana. nothing can defeat the unbreakable spirit of people of texas and louisiana. right now every american heart sends its love and support to those whose lives have been upended, totally upended. totally, by this very hard storm. we ask god for his wisdom and strength. we will get through this. we will come out stronger, and
believe me, we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before. the rebuilding will begin, and in the end, it will be something very special, and i just want to thank everybody in the affected area because it has been absolutely incredible to watch, the spirit, the cooperation and the love. i would also like to share a message to the people of finland who have recently suffered a terrorist attack in tercu. we stand in solidarity with you against the terrorist threat. we must all work together to deny terrorists safe havens, cut off their finances and defeat their very wicked idealogy. mr. president, americans are grateful for your steadfast support as an ally in the fight against terrorism. appreciate it. including your membership in the coalition to defeat isis.
finland makes important contributions to the coalition, and its effort in afghanistan and has troops on the ground in iraq training iraqi soldiers. in afghanistan, finland provides troops and financial contributions to support the afghan national defense and security forces on a modern day frontier between barbarism and civilization. that's what you have, barbarism versus civilization. we are grateful for our citizens who have sacrificed for our security. finland is a leading expert in cybersecurity. in fact, we should be calling you pretty soon. you do a fantastic job with cybersecurity and i congratulate you. and i think in a very short period of time, we're going to be right there with you, believe me. the united states is a very
proud partner of finland's european center of excellence to counter modern threats, including cyber attacks. in addition, we look forward to your leadership as chair of the arctic council. the arctic region has strategic and economic importance for both of our nations. very much so. the foundation of our friendship is our shared love of freedom. on behalf of all americans, i congratulate you and the finnish people on the 100th anniversary of finland's independence, 100 years. that's fantastic. in honor of finland's centennial, the united states is contributing an additional half million dollars to the fulbright finland foundation. through the fulbright program, we are sending more of our best and brightest to finland, forging lasting connections between americans and fins. on the economic front, we seek
fair and economic reciprocal trade for both our countries. i applaud them to increase investment in the united states, adding new technologies and adding good jobs for hard-working americans. thank you. the u.s. finnish partnership is rooted in our shared interests and common values. as president, and i must say, and i want to thank you, president, we've discussed, and we look forward to further strengthening these bonds of culture, commerce and cooperation between our two countries so that our citizens and our nations can thrive and prosper together. mr. president, i would like to thank you very much for being at the white house and a great meeting in the oval office. it's my honor to have you here. thank you. thank you very much. >> mr. president, i want to thank you for your very kind
words. and i just want to tell you that it is a great pleasure and honor to be here today. i thank you also for the discussions we have had. they have been of most interest. we have been closely following hurricane harvey. our thoughts are with the people of texas and louisiana. they and you, mr. president, have shown strength and courage to overcome this catastrophe. it has been touching to watch the tv and see how people help each other. that is what we basically are built of, helping each other. finland highly appreciates our close relationship with the united states. today they are bigger than ever,
ranging from cybersecurity and trade administration. we are indeed celebrating our 100 years of independence. i want to thank you for the generous gift presented to the fulbright finland foundation. i want also to take this opportunity to create the almost 700,000 americans who have finnish origin. mr. president and i exchanged views on several international issues. our broad headline was security. we discussed the importance of the trans-atlantic bond between the european union and the united states. history has taught us europeans the value of unity. the u.s. and nato presence in
europe are -- and in the baltic sea are most important, and they are increasing rapidly. finland is doing its part to promote dialogue. to reduce risks, finland has made steps to improve safety in the baltic sea area. there are more positive steps to reopen dialogue between nato and russia. we remain committed to supporting afghanistan, and we are a dedicated member of the coalition against isis. finland took the chairmanship of the arctic council from the united states in may. we can't afford losing the pristine arctic nature. finland firmly believes that business and environment can
both be winners in the arctic. an example is reducing black carbon. mr. president, i'm looking forward to even closer cooperation with you and your great nation. i want to thank you. thank you. >> so we'll take a couple of questions. how about we go to texas. todd gilman? todd? >> thank you, mr. president. >> yes. >> i'm wondering what you can tell the people of texas to expect in terms of long-term recovery efforts, and in particular, you have been feuding with some key congressional leaders. you've also threatened a government shutdown potentially next month over border wall funding. are are these goithese going to funding that will be needed for long-term recovery? >> no, todd, i think you'll see
rapid recovery, certainly from the president. it's a terrible tragedy. your governor has been absolutely outstanding in the job he's done and his entire staff. i will say that i just spoke with greg, and he is working like 24/7. we expect to have requests on our desk fairly soon, and we think that congress will feel very much the way i feel in a very bipartisan way. that will be nice. but we think you're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast. texas is a unique place. it's a great, great state, great people. and i think you'll be up and running very quickly. really very quickly. so, yeah, i think you'll be in fantastic shape. i've already spoken to congress, and everybody feels for you and feels for what you're going through, but at the same time they have great respect, even additional respect, for the state because you've handled it so well, so brilliantly. but it's a long road. still pouring, still a lot of
rain. nobody has ever seen anything like it. i've heard the words "epic," i've heard "historic." that's what it is. but you'll have what you want, i think, very, very quickly. and todd, you can ask a question to the president. >> thank you. does this situation make you reconsider the possibility of a government shutdown next month? >> i think it has nothing to do with it, really. i think this is separate. this is going to go really very, very quickly. i've spoken to many of the people we're talking about, and everybody feels the same way i do. >> thank you. and mr. president, i wanted to ask you, your neighbor russia has meddled in u.s. politics. they have a message to the baltic, tension over there. what advice can you offer to the united states in dealing with this adversary? >> sir, we are not feeling ourselves as advisers, but we
are feeling ourselves as doing all what is possible to maintain peace. and that is what we are doing in the baltic sea area, too. actually, you referred to a different kind of military training, which is going to happen there. i have to tell you that a couple of weeks ago, i met president putin, and there were media interested in why chinese navy is having a training together with russians in baltic sea area. putin answered that it is not a block, it's not against anybody. my answer was that we are also training in baltic sea with united states and sweden, and it is not a block, it's not against anybody. so we have to be very careful
about this huge training, huge military trafficking over baltic, that it doesn't cause any accidental problems. we know from accidents might grow whatever. and that is why i think it's important that we caution you to work with nato to enhance, like i said, dialogue between russia and nato. and it is going forward. okay. >> thank you, mr. president. i have a question to our president trump, if i may. as the president minister told, he has been raising security mission in the baltic sea and
has been concerned about the russian planes flying there without transponders on. so my question to you, mr. president, would you consider russia as a security threat? >> i consider many countries as a security threat, unfortunately, when you look at what's going on in the world today. as you know, a few weeks ago, our great vice president, mike pence, who is right here, was in the region and spent quite a bit of time there. we consider that a very, very important part of the world. we have great relationships there. we have a great relationship with finland. and so i would consider many countries threats, but these are all threats that we'll be able to handle if we have to. hopefully we won't have to handle them, but if we do, we will handle them. >> can i have a follow-up? so if the situation in the baltic were to escalate, what would the u.s. be ready to do in that unfortunate circumstances?
>> we are very protective of that region, that's all i can say. we are very, very protective. we have great friends there, great relationships there. we are extremely protective. >> thank you, sir. >> a question for the president? yes. >> sometimes -- >> do you have a question for the president? do you have a question for the president? somebody else can -- >> you don't have to. >> mr. president and from finland. did you speak about climate change at all, and what about your initiative about cleaning up the arctic and doing it together with the united states? what kind of response did your idea receive here in washington, d.c.? >> we discussed a lot about black carbon. as we explained to everybody,
what happens from atmosphere black carbon covers the arctic. and we know what happens when sunshine meets black. it melts the ice. and the problem is not only arctic. if we lose the arctic, we lose the globe. that is reality. so we must fight against those emissions spreading black carbon. i understood that the united states is going to put it in half, and we know that black carbon sources are a lot of them in russia. they are old-fashioned energy plants producing heating. the other problem is flaring, you know, in oil fields they flare up the extra gas, and the amount is huge.
yearly they flare 40 times more than finland spends in gas. so if we can -- and here comes social business to the picture, it would be a good business to renew those old-fashioned plants, to make more with less energy. it would be a business to stop flaring, to take use of that gas which is now burned f. i think these are elements that we are discussing in arctic council. we have inherited the cha chairmanship from the united states and we continue the work. >> we had a very good discussion, in particular on the arctic and black carbon. and i think we have much in agreement. one of the things we also agree on, we want crystal clean water and we want clean air, the
cleanest ever. very important. so we have a lot of agreement. john roberts, yes? >> mr. president, thank you so much. president, i have a question for you as well, but if i could start with president trump. in the middle of hurricane harvey hitting on friday night, you chose to pardon former sheriff joe arpaio. i wonder if you can tell us what was behind your thinking for issuing a pardon for the sheriff, and as well, what do you say to your critics, even some in your own party, who say it was the wrong thing to do? >> well, a lot of people think it was the right thing to do, john, and actually, in the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a friday evening, i assumed the ratings would be far higher than they were normally. the hurricane was just starting. and i put out that i pardoned, as we call sheriff joe. he's done a great job for the people of arizona.
he's very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration. he is loved in arizona. i thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started, as you know, and he lost in a fairly close election. he would have won the election but they just hammered him just before the election. i thought this was a very, very unfair thing to do. when i mentioned him the other night, you saw the massive crowd we had. the people went crazy when i said, what do you think of sheriff joe, or something to that effect. the place went absolutely crazy when i was in arizona last week. and as far as pardons are concerned, i actually did this just before the meeting because i assumed somebody would ask me the question. i didn't know it would be you. as you can attest, you didn't even know you would be called. but i thought i would, and sheriff joe is a great veteran of the military, great law enforcement person. somebody that's won many, many elections in the state of arizona.
but i wanted to look at some of the other people that were pardoned over the yeears, and i you look at, as an example, president clinton pardoned mark rich who was charged with crimes going back decades, including illegally buying oil from iran while it held 53 american hostages. wasn't allowed to do that. selling to the enemies of the united states. he was pardoned after his wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the clintons. then you have dangerous criminals. president clinton pardoned susan rosenberg, a member of the weathered underground. the charge as part of a bank robbery that led to a bank guard and two police officers being killed. they convinced vince mcnally, a central player in a cocaine ring that stretched from california to minnesota. criminal leaker. you've heard the word leaker?
president obama commuted the sentence of chelsea manning who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to wikileaks, perhaps in others, but horrible, horrible thing that he did, commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned. president obama commuted the sentence of oscar lopez rivera who was charged as part of a violent independence group from puerto rico responsible for 28 chicago area bombings and many deaths in the 1970s and 1980s. sheriff joe is a patriot. sheriff joe loves our country. sheriff joe protected our borders. and sheriff joe was very unfairly treated by the obama administration, especially right before an election, an election that he would have won. and he was elected many times.
so i stand by my pardon of sheriff joe, and i think the people of arizona who really know him best would agree with me. thank you very much. >> mr. president, i would like to claim prescience that you did all the evidence, but i think the question is fairly obvious. i'm sure president trump was briefed today that you were prepared for the meeting with afghanistan in coming to the table with its allegations. given the history in the idealogy of the taliban, do you ever believe that they would honor any kind of an agreement that was ever made, or would they, when the united states and finland and other countries leave afghanistan, renige on that deal? >> yes. first of all, i want to under li line that finland has been involved from the very beginning
on any attempts in afghanistan. we have troops there and financial aid going on all the time. we have to try. we have to try in all possible ways to solve the situation in afghanistan. it has been ongoing quite a long ti time, for decades. but to solve it by negotiations, surely you have to have full respect to negotiate and to also believe what is negotiated is also fulfilled. these limits have to be all the time present when you discuss whichever party in afghanistan. >> i know there might be a couple more questions, but do you want to take one more? would you want to take one more?
go ahead, pick. >> please. >> again? you're going to give her the same one? >> she is not the same lady. they are sitting side by side. >> mr. president trump, what kind of role do you see as finland having in the u.s.-russia relations. do you think finland could be of assistance helping you get better relations with russia? >> i hope that we do have good relations with russia. i say it loud and clear, i've been saying it for years. i think it's a good thing if we have great relationships or at least good relationships with russia. that's very important. and i believe someday that will happen. it's a big country, it's a nuclear country, it's a country that we should get along with, and i think we will eventually get along with russia. finland is respected by russia. finland has been free of russia, really, just about one of the few countries in the region that has been for a hundred years. and russia has a lot of respect for finland, so that's always good. but i think finland is doing
fine with russia, and i hope that the united states will someday be able to have a very good relationship with russia also. i think that's very good for world peace and for other things. thank you. >> as a follow-up, if finland's relationship with russia were to deteriorate, would the u.s. -- what kind of assistance would the u.s. be willing to give to finland bilaterally if we needed it? >> as i said before, our relationship with finland is a very close one, and we're always ready to help finland. one of the things that is happening is you're purchasing large amounts of our great f-18 aircraft from boeing, and it's one of the great planes, one of the great fighter jets, and you're purchasing lots of other military equipment, and i think purchasing very wisely. i know all of the military kw t equipment, and i actually agree with everything you purchased. we talked about it before. i think finland is really a respected country militarily.
it's got large armed forces for its size as a country, really proportionally probably one of the biggest in the world, if you think about it. >> i suspect so. >> but they're very respected militarily and they're respected beyond militarily, so hopefully it will never come to that. thank you. >> and president nunicha? did you discuss russia and did you offer any assistance to the u.s. with their relationship with russia? >> well, lying i said earlier on, we did discuss about russia, but actually i don't feel myself or finland being any adviser to anybody. but we tried to do our best, and hopefully we get also results from that. i want to remind you that in nato meeting a year ago, approximately, it was stated by all nato countries that with
russia, you have to be deterrent, but you have to exercise dialogue, too. these two main elements have to be there. >> go ahead. >> thank you, mr. president. in the aftermath of hurricane harvey, do you believe that cutting fema's budget is the right thing to do so? >> no, i think what's going to happen is the fema money is relatively small compared to the rebuilding money, so fema, right now we have the money necessary for texas and louisiana if we need, but the real number, which will be many billions of dollars, will go through congress. i think it will happen very quickly. it will go very fast. and i want to congratulate you on the network of t. it's a great network. >> thank you. if i may follow up with something early. on the southern border wall, is your plan to have mexico pay for the wall?
>> yes, it is t. one way or another, mexico will pay for the wall. it may be through reimbursement. right now we're financing nafta. mexico is being reluctant. they've had one of the sweetest deals for years. i guarantee, mr. president, finland never would have signed nafta with russia or whoever you wanted. this is not a deal that you would want to sign. this is not a deal that finland would know about. nafta is one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time anywhere in the world, and i can understand why mexico is being difficult, because why wouldn't they be? they've had it their way. mexico will pay for the wall. it may be through reimbursement. we need the wall very badly. as you know, mexico has a tremendous crime problem, tremendous. one of the number two or three in the world. and that's another reason we need it. and just to add on, tremendous drugs are pouring into the united states at levels that nobody has ever seen before.
this happened over the last three to four years in particular. the wall will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth. so we need the wall, it's imperative. we may fund it through the united states, but ultimately mexico will pay for the wall. >> sir, if i may follow up, on tuesday you said, if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall. if mexico is paying for the wall, why would we close down our government? >> i hope that's not necessary. if it's necessary, we'll have to see, but i hope that's not necessary. the wall is needed from the standpoint of security, the wall is needed from the drug scores, what's coming through the areas that we're talking about. as you know, i have general kelly here. we stopped traffic coming through, 78%. it's going to be, i think, 81% this quarter, which is a record. in other administrations if they stopped at just a little bit, like 1 or 2 or 3%, they consider
that a great thing. we're up to almost 80%. we'll soon be over 80%. but you need the wall to do the rest, and you need the wall for the drugs. the drugs are a tremendous problem. the wall will greatly help with the drug problem. and ultimately that's a good thing for mexico also. we have a very good relationship with mexico, but i will say that dealing with them, i've always said -- i've talked about nafta, you've heard me many times, and i've said that we will either terminate it or renegotiate it. we're in the process of renegotiating right now the deal. i believe that you will probably have to at least start the termination process before a fair deal can be arrived at. because it's been a one-sided deal, and this includes canada, by the way. great respect for canada, great love for canada. but it's been a one-sided deal for canada and for mexico, and the united states workers. all of these incredible people who have lost their jobs because
of nafta, they're not going to be suffering any longer. it's been unfair for too long. so we will build the wall and we will stop a lot of things, including the drugs that are pouring in at levels like nobody has ever seen. we'll be able to stop them once the wall is done. thank you, everybody. thank you. >> president trump wrapping up his bilateral press conference there with the finnish president, sali nunista. wide range of topics covered that he was asked there in the white house, talking about the potential for a government shutdown, as well as discussing what is ongoing, of course, in texas, and also moving to louisiana with hurricane harvey and what the government is doing there. one thing that was particularly interesting is he was asked on friday, when he was asked to pardon the former sheriff in maricopa county, joe arpaio, there is a question whether he
did this on friday to avoid attention, because there was so much attention on the storm in texas. he said actually he thought ratings were higher then. so the point he was making, he wasn't actually trying to avoid the limelight, he was trying to bring attention, is what seemed to be the indication there, bill crystal, as our panel joins us to discuss this. he wasn't trying to avoid scrutiny, right? that's what he said. and then he also had a laundry list of other very controversial pardons by other presidents. >> he came with a piece of airplane with pardons of recent times. everyone was very critical of the pardon of mark rich on january 19 of last day of the clinton presidency, something he did, i think, without consulting with anyone. his own staff gave up a lot of money to the various clinton entities and stuff. i don't know if he gained a lot for the people that were pardoned. but he's happy to stick with it and make the case for it. i wouldn't defend pardoning him.
he was a terrible sheriff and i think it was a bad signal to send that he gets pardoned. it's one thing to commute the sentence and say he's 85 years old and he shouldn't go to jail. but to pardon him as if there is no guilt? i wouldn't do that but i guess he can. >> he's been pretty good at keeping his core base together, but his speech in arizona, which was completely unhinged and crazy, and then the pardoning of arpaio on friday night, they were winks to his base that he's still with them, and he's going to do the things he said he was going to do on the campaign trail, despite the fact that it's divisive and really appalling to most of the country. >> i think the arpaio brand is actually not a bad brand within the republican base. i think it's like sheriff clark. just certain kind of folk heroes, even going back to joe the plumber, that the republican base connects with. even if it was 85 years old,
people realize here's an older man in the sunset of his life. why send him to jail after his service as a sheriff and the war and so forth. i don't think this speech was unhinged. i know the d.c. crowd likes to say that. i think it was a great speech. i think he fired up his base. it was a campaign speech, and if i listened to some of the obama campaign speeches, i wouldn't have liked that. speaking of obama, i just want to remind everybody, 1700 commuted sentences. i think it says that our president can pardon a commute whenever he wants. that's what he was saying when he talked about the people his predecessors are pardoned. >> but to that point, with this laundry list, mark rich, susan rosenberg, these mp all
commutational pardoned. was he admitting these were controversial or was he stepping over himself saying, look, people commuted the sentences of very terrible people and this is someone who isn't terrible? because that's not the way it came across. >> what struck me as i reviewed this, viewing this through the lens when the president is faced with a crisis. he pardoned the commission of a controversial pardon during a historic weather event that has killed a number of people, that is still ongoing, the water is still rising in many of these cities. people are without their homes and he's saying he timed something to meet with that. is this a president who is meeting the moment that he is supposed to spend on this motion. i was surprised he worded it that way. >> what do you make that he is talking about utilizing the
deadliest catastrophe? >> i can tell you, he can talk about a 10,000-foot view or a microissue in just a second and transition easily from one to the other. i think newt gingrich as speaker of the house was that way in many respects. he could say some really high-level stuff, and then he can say something that makes you wonder, why did i go there? it's vintage trump. he is a guy who fires on all cylinders. i don't think this was a typical monday night decision. >> the question for the president is whether they can show empathy in very difficult times like this. we don't even know how many have lost their homes, have lost power, have been relocated, have lost their lives. it's the coming month when people are sore, they're suffering, they don't know how they'll get food and diapers.
he's showing empathy. we haven't seen that very often before. be sure to tweet the show at thelead@cnn. i'm turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. apocalyptic flooding. houston facing an unprecedented catastrophe. streets and highways are now rivers. neighborhoods have become lakes. as the waters rise, so does the death toll. authorities predicting tropical storm harvey will house upwards of 30,000 people in shelters and more than half the people will seek disaster assistance. more than 2,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes. and more than 79,000 911 calls just from houston