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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  September 29, 2017 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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make universal health care a reality. this is a pick sure of joe biden with the actress to say, we veeps stick together. jill and i, and all the bidens, are with you. when people talk about the hollywoods, they are so out of touch, whether we are talking julia louis-dreyfus or jimmy kim el. they can afford health care but they are fighting the fight because they care about americans. i'm stephanie ruhle. right now, more news is coming up with hallie jackson. see you at 11:00. right now we start with the bumpy ride with tom price doing damage control about his pricey plane travel as a new report gives more details about what he did overseas and why his total tab is now more than a million bucks. price says he'll pay you back, taxpayers, but only for the cost of his seat. but this morning new questions about yet another cabinet member, and that is not the only accountability question for this administration today. look what is happening in puerto rico. you've got san juan's port full
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of supplies with people on the island still waiting to actually get them. the head of u.s. homeland security heads down today as the white house explains what they are doing now to help. we have a lot to get to over the next 60 minutes. but i want to start with kristen welker over at the white house. because, kristen, we saw this, you could call it kind of apology tour for tom price, the for the first time coming out publicly to talk about his payback, reimbursing taxpayers for some of the cost of the charter flights he took. is that enough for president trump to forgive and forget? >> reporter: that is the big question here, hallie, that we have been trying to drill-down on all week. and the president being very tight-lipped earlier this week. obviously, telling you "we'll see" when he plans to fire secretary price, but then yesterday, of course, our own monica alba asked if he still has confidence in secretary price. and he declined to answer. sarah huckabee sanders, by the way, note giving many reassurances. saying the matter is being looked at thoroughly. and we know there's an ig
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investigation underway, but secretary price is on this apology tour saying he's going to payback the cost of his seat. that, by the way, is about $50,000. really only a fraction of the overall charter flights that he took. and look, he's acknowledging, hallie, he may have mishandled this to some extent. he was in congress and railed against the abuse of taxpayer dollars. so from that perspective, some are saying, this is hypocrisy, but politically speaking, this is a problem for the president because, of course, he ran on a platform of draining the swamp. the timing, not great for secretary price, particularly in the wake of the latest failure of the attempt to overhaul obamacare. so the politics not great for secretary price as this review gets underway. you talked about the price that other cabinet secretaries are being looked at as well, their travel interior secretary ryan zinke out with a statement, defending a charter flight he took from las vegas to montana, saying as a previous interior secretary, the secretary
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traveled on charter flights when no commercial flights are available. all travel is pre-approved by the ethics office before booking and the charter flights went through an additional due diligence. this is something the administration is looking at closely and frankly it is putting them on defense. >> kristen welker on the north white house lawn. she's not wrong. i'm joined by tamron keith and keith thomas. the white house is reviewing this. the president is reviewing tom price. you have lawmakers asking for an explanation about what the white house is doing to make sure that these cabinet members are being fiscally responsible. here's what tom price had to say about the president's reaction to all of this. >> he's talking about it. and as he said publicly, he wasn't happy. and he expressed that to me very clearly. >> how so? >> just -- just that way. i won't divulge any personal
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conversations i've had with the president, but he wasn't happy. >> so what happens now, big picture? because you have tom price leading the health and human services department at a time when the president hasn't given up on health care reform. >> also at the moment, there's not a deputy secretary for the department of health and human services. that confirmation hearing is scheduled for monday, not the hearing, the confirmation vote is scheduled for monday. so monday will be interesting. >> so if price goes, then you have to have somebody in there. >> and at the moment, there's no backup until this vote on monday. >> how does the math work here? tom price will be $51,000, but the private travel for charter domestically different than the military is $400,000. >> the math doesn't work well for tom price right now. he could have potentially just gotten ahead of it and paid the whole tab, but because he's only paid for just his seat, it might lead some lawmakers, people in the administration, even the president himself thinking that he just hasn't done enough to
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address the problem. >> and it gives democrats a bit of an opening here on the network this morning. you had one lawmaker who said, this is a president who promised the drain the swamp and this is pretty swampy behavior. is this another self-incurred error for this administration? >> it certainly is something that is problematic. i think in part, the reason the president is so upset about this is because it's not working well with the message. you know, at a moment where you are trying to do tax system overhaul that, you know, includes some cuts that will help the wealthy, and you have -- and you are also talking, he wants to pass a budget that would have dramatic cuts including to the department of health and human services. and then you have the secretary flying on charter flights. it just -- it's not a good look. >> let's talk about the cuts for a second. because this is all happening while hhs was looking for a billion cuts to the national cancer institute. $82 million in cuts to work on vaccines for things like the flu and the measles, too. >> it cuts to the bone.
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the other thing to keep in mind is that the president doesn't like to be made look bad in his dealings. and he's also someone from the business background that doesn't like to waste a lot of money. this is just one of the things that really just clangs with the message. >> there's some discussion about whether this is pervasive through the whole cabinet because you look at what kristen mentioned, ryan zink werks te w interior department defending him. and the request for traveling on a plane for his honeymoon. and then betsy devos, she paid for her own travel and foots the bill herself. >> this is a very unique administration where there are some very wealthy people who probably haven't flown commercial in a very long time, including the president of the united states. i was talking to a former top white house ethics lawyer from the george w. bush administration last night, and
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he was like, partially this comes from the top. this is sort of a tone that is set from the top of the administration. >> although sarah huckabee sanders did push back on that yesterday in the white house briefing. >> yeah. i was just struck by how unruly they were to give price much help here. >> much of a cushion, if you will, a lifeline. >> he seems to be left hanging out here. and you talk about the hearing on monday, that could be a concern for him. >> what are the conversations you're hearing inside the west wing from here? where price goes from here? >> i'm struck by the silence. i don't think they are going out to defend that much. and when the president says, we'll see, that can often be the kiss of death. >> "we'll see" is something you don't ever want to hear if you are working with the president of the united states. >> we'll leave it on "we'll see." we have breaking news and we want to go to the pentagon because a u.s. military helicopter has crashed in syria now. hans nichols is reporting from the president on what has happened. hans, fill us in and bring us up
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to speed on what we have learn in the last little bit. >> reporter: the most important new information is the osprey is a helicopter called an aircraft or helicopter that lifts up vertically and can fly away like a swift-wing aircraft. and it was a hard landing, so whether or not you call it a crash or hard landing, officials say it was a hard landing, and there were two injuries. now the injuries are non-life-threatening. the military personnel, we are not saying whether or not which service they are from, were treated and released. but this is a reminder of two aspects. one, there's a very active conflict going on inside of syria. you have some marines there providing artillery support. you have special forces around. 600 personnel. they're fighting against isis and coming into close contact with the russians as well as regime forces. unclear how that is all going to be deconflicted. they try to talk to each other.
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and the other aspect of this is aviation safety. we have had a season, a summer of aviation mishaps, crashes all across the globe. and ospreys went down off the coast of australia. the one down in the bean field. there have been over 44 deaths in non-hostile conflicts and environments. this most vent one doesn't look like there's any enemy involvement in this osprey that went down in syria. and just a quick note on the osprey, they used to have a lot of challenges with the plane, this aircraft. the marines really like them. we were flown around in an osprey in puerto rico a couple days doing relief. the marines like them for the capacity. they say this is a safe plane. they ride them hard. and sometimes you have mishaps. >> hans nichols, thank you. you heard hans mentioning puerto rico. there's a lot on the ground there with the island dealing with the logistical nightmare to get food and water out of the port and into thands of people
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who need it. so what is the status of that distribution? we'll have a report on the relief effort after the break. now that we have your attention... capri sun has four updated drinks. now with only the good stuff. do you know how to use those? nope. get those kids some new capri sun! ...from godaddy! in fact, 68% of people who have built their... using gocentral, did it in under an hour, and you can too.
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i know it is a hard storm to overcome, but it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people. >> damnit, this is not a good
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news story. this is not a good story. this is a life or death story. there's a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people's story. >> you can hear the emotion and the frustration many the voice of the mayor of san juan this morning. reacting to those comments you heard from the acting homeland security elaine duke who characterized the unified federal response as good news. we'll have more on that in a second, but we want to catch you up on the latest in the crisis in puerto rico. secretary duke and other officials are visiting the island for an update on recovery efforts. within the next hour, we know the navy is dispatching the uss comfort, the hospital ship to help out with the emergency medical response on the island. the american tourists are finally able to leave the island. royal caribbean's adventure of the seas evacuated more than 2,000 tourists and people who live in puerto rico last night. i want to take you now to the latest on the efforts to loosen up the log-jam at local port that is you heard the mayor
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talking about. she wants to make sure critical supplies get to the people who need them the most. gabe gutierrez is in san juan. >> reporter: the reason many of the shipping containers are still here is because of the logistics nightmare. there's no power, no phone lines and many drivers are not showing up to make deliveries. so much of the splice aren't getting to those in need. the acting homeland security secretary is set to visit today as the trump administration is criticizing that the federal government was caught off guard. this morning at san juan's shipping port. many containers are sitting there not getting to those who need them in the wake of hurricane maria. this is stifling relief efforts. >> we have not scaled up quick enough. >> reporter: the former general who coordinated military relief efforts after hurricane katrina said maria is a bigger challenge and the trump administration is not doing enough. >> we have to do better than what we're doing now, otherwise we won't get this done and more
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people are going to suffer. >> reporter: but the white house says there are now enough resources on the ground including 10,000 federal relief workers and 7200 troops. >> our message to the incredible people of puerto rico is this, the president is behind you. >> reporter: overnight the president tweeting, fema and first responders are doing a great job in puerto rico. massive food and water delivered. docks and electric grid dead. acting homeland security secretary elaine duke is flying into puerto rico today. >> i am very satisfied. >> reporter: but at the cruise port, we saw mounting frustration, thousands of evacuees standing in sweltering heat for hours waiting to board a royal caribbean cruise ship headed to florida. amy tiponaro has been trying to get back to new jersey for days to get to her kids. >> you cannot get off this island. if this ship didn't show up, i wouldn't be home until the middle of october. >> reporter: pitbull is trying to help sending his private plane to send cancer patients to the mainland, but many sick
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people are in dire shape. hospitals are in critical condition waiting for fuel. >> right now the island is working 100% dependent on power generators. the power generators are not built to last forever. >> reporter: it's not sustainable. >> it's not sustainable. >> reporter: the army is now helping deliver diesel to hospitals and a three-star general has been ape pointed to oversee the military relief effort. the president tweeting this morning that the governor of puerto rico has said that the federal government has delivered. and the president also said that, quote, big decisions will have to be made to the cost of puerto rico's rebuilding. >> gabe gutierrez there in san juan. i want to bring in our panel quickly. you saw the tweets that gave reference from president trump talking about big decisions having to be made. it's bringing up questions now, since we didn't hear the language from dr. harvey and irma, about the administration's response. you saw elaine duke talk about
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good news and the mayor of san juan frustrated. yesterday after the news conference i said, do you want to clarify this? what do you mean by good news? how do you think people in puerto rico will hear that? here's the exchange. >> i'm sorry, you said it was good news and i'm confused by that and think folks in puerto rico are wondering why this is good news. >> good news because the governor, federal and people are all unified in recovering from this horrible hurricane. ed the it is good news where the governor and the federal response and the people are all united in taking and saving lives to the people in need. >> but the mayor of san juan did not love that. >> the administration is looking technically at the bodies on the ground. >> they feel like they have done the steps they are supposed to do. the problem is that it is not being felt on the ground. and that word is getting back to the mainland u.s. and that is what is dominating
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the coverage is people saying, i'm not seeing fema. >> "the washington post" had an interesting story earlier comparing this response to the 2010 earthquake in haiti. and they were able to show a much bigger response in haiti. the question is, if you can do that after an earthquake, why can't you do it after a hurricane? >> but the administration has repeatedly said they feel like they are misunderstood or the facts are not being understood regarding the next 24 to 48 hours, pointing so only of the relief efforts they are putting in place now. is that going to be enough to help? >> well, there have been 73 billion dollars in debt before this happened. and the economy has been struggling for a long time. so the question is, you know, is the infrastructure allowing for them to improve things. >> i want to bring in somebody who is joining me from the phone, dr. jose lopez, chief administrator of florida physicians. he's on the ground helping out with a team of doctors from
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central florida. dr. lopez, i appreciate you joining us. i know you are calling us from a s.a.t. phone, communications are really tough, and you have another doctor, katia logo with you as well, to talk about the medical perspective. first, give me a sense logistically, are you seeing the supplies getting to you, getting to people who need it, give me a sense of what it's like from your perspective. >> yes, mornigood morning. so we are here in san juan. the supplies are coming in. the issue that is happening is the truckers are having a hard time moving across the island. they are afraid that if they're not else courted, they might be attacked or supplies might be taken. >> the administration has said it put in more security forces in place. is that seeming to help? do you think that will be something you'll see progress on over the next 12 hours? >> that would help tremendously. so we feel safe here in san juan. however, when we start going to the island, it's like no man's
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land. >> what do you mean by that? >> well, there are places where there's no security. there are pockets of places where there's civil disobedience. for the most part, people have to try to do their best. however, right now we're planning to go to a town in the northwest. and we will be escorted by either the national guard or the police because people are targeting the supplies. >> and i know that, i think, you're with dr. lugo able to talk a little bit about the medical assistance you're providing. i don't know if you're able to hand the phone off to her. i know this is telecommunications that are incredibly difficult, so i appreciate you calling in from your satellite phone. and if dr. lugo is with us, she can talk about the assistance you provided medically. >> thank you. dr. katia lugo is the leader of
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the team. >> hi. >> i was just asking what medical assistance have you been able to give to people on the ground? what have you seen the biggest need for? >> so the biggest need in the last 24 hours of working is they are running out of antibiotics. for example, the university hospital in catalina that is a training program of emergency medicine, they already ran out of medicine. they gave me a list of things like saline, it includes all the types of antibiotics, water. one of the major problems they're having that is not necessary is medical, but the generators are not able to keep holding on. of course, they don't have portable water. and they don't have any water in the system. >> so what is the plan --
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>> it is being made difficult. >> when do you expect to see a replenishment of the critical antibiotics in your hands? >> right now, we're sending -- we have a lot of help in the u.s., like i have friends and everything, i know they are collecting supplies. they are waiting to see how they can make it get to puerto rico with the issue of the port access, with the issue that we're not able to get that many flights into the island. it's being impossible. i have friends, like we have 1.5 million of supplies of everything and have no way to get it to puerto rico. it is desperation, in a way. >> the desperation, dr. lugo, dr. lopez. >> we don't have access to bring them. >> thank you very much. that illustrates the logistical nightmare happening on the island. we'll have another report coming up from puerto rico including
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with somebody who is getting ready to leave on the naval ship headed to the island coming up in a couple minutes. we're also talking about what is happening over on capitol hill behind me. senator mark warner is not happy about twitter's visit on thursday to talk about moscow's modeling in the november election. we'll tell you what he told the intel committee and what the vice chair is now saying about it. i didn't know where i was from ethnically. so we sent that sample off to ancestry. my ancestry dna results are that i am 26% nigerian. i am just trying to learn as much as i can about my culture. i put the gele on my head and i looked into the mirror and i was trying not to cry. because it's a hat, but it's like the most important hat i've ever owned.
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we are back now with more from the white house. five countries in 11 days with tensions still high over north korea's nuclear program. the president is set to travel to japan, south korea, china, vietnam and the philippines. it will be a very busy couple of weeks for us. come november, we'll see you from the ground there in a few months. and ahead of the airport's academy, have you seen this? this video is going viral for a good reason. look at this, he had some strong words for cadets thursday after racial slurs were found written on a message board at the academy's prep school. and at the end of the lecture, this guy, lieutenant general jay sovaria told cadets to get out their cell phones to remember
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this message. >> grab your phone, i want you to videotape this so that you have it, so that you can use it. this is our institution. and if you need it and you need my words, then you keep these words. and you use them and remember them and you share them and talk about them. if you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out. >> this video is an example of leadership across the country. sources at the academy appear to have a single vandal involve in the incident and security forces are looking into the matter. and congressional investigators leading the inquiry into russian interference in the 2016 election now say twitter has a lot more work to do to try to understand how its platform was manipulated by russian-linked operatives. twitter briefed staffers from the senate intelligence house xhees as we told you about on this show yesterday morning. but you didn't see what senator mark warner had to say after all
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was said and done. watch. >> the presentation that the twitter team made to the senate intel staff today was deeply disappointing. their response was, frankly, inadequate on almost every level. >> yikes. minneapolis msnbc's garrett haake is joining us from capitol hill. but first, janet, what did twitter say to congress? >> twitter basically found 201 russian-linked accounts that had possibly interfered or put out election interference messages and ads during the lead-up to the 2016 race. and the reason he might be upset about this is because they did all of their research off of the back, the facebook's findings. facebook originally found 470
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accounts, so twitter used that number and found 22 accounts that were corresponding and only 179 more accounts. and so that is where the questions are, why didn't they look at their broader user base of hundreds of millions of users. and what they found also is that rt, russia today, the kremlin-linked cable network, also spend about $274,000 in u.s. ads last year as well. and so twitter putting out a very lengthy statement on what they found, what they presented to the committee, and in part, they said this, they'll be rolling out several changes to the actions we take when we detect spammy or suspicious activity introducing new enforcements on the suspicious log-ins or bot. and tweets and engagements will be made visible while pending confirmation. but the issue is that congress doesn't believe twitter has done enough ahead of a hearing on november 1st. a house hearing as well in the coming months. >> let me go to garrett on that.
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as we look ahead to the open hearings, we are also seeing real dissatisfaction with lawmakers. how much pressure can the committees want to put on the companies? >> reporter: hallie, substantial pressure. yesterday was the maddest i have seen mark warner about anything. he essentially accused twitter of copying facebook's homework. he said they didn't do the forensics. he said the presentation was not ready to go. and he sort of tried to publicly shame them into doing more work. that 201 accounts is just not nearly enough. and mark warner wanted to make that feeling very public. i think also what yesterday did is it increases the likelihood that we're going to see some of the big more recognizable names from the tech companies like mark zuckerberg of facebook in the hot seat themselves. because lawmakers like warner want the people to be held accountable for what is going on
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on their platform. warner talked a little bit about facebook specifically in that same news conference. >> he has obviously built an extraordinary iconic company, but i think the iconic company, the company more than half of americans look to for every day is based upon a level of trust. and i think they need to be extremely forthcoming. >> reporter: different bite but same idea. hallie, one thing i'm hearing from the democratic senators, joe manchin of west virginia said some the other day. look, these are american companies and we would like to see something, not just from a business perspective, but from a patriotic perspective. these folks need to step up more and that pressure will increase. >> jo, quickly, are companies getting the message? >> they certainly are. twitter putting out a lengthy statement. they have not added anything new but do believe internally according to sources they will get their top dog called into
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congress says jack dorsey, the founder of the company. there's a lot of pressure, no doubt about it. up next, back to the ground in puerto rico for a live report. and new concerns this morning about cash running low on the island as a lot of folks struggle to find and pay more food, gas and water. we're headed there, next. if you have medicare
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the crisis in puerto rico. within a few minutes from now, the navy's hospital ship the comfort is leaving from norfolk, virginia, to help out with medical care on the island. and we're getting in new numbers from the defense department, too. 55 hospitals are partially operational. 8 of 9 airports are open. and the dod says six fema priority seaports are open to bring in critical supplies. the issue has been the distribution once it gets to the island. and nbc's mariona atencio is live. now that you're out of the city a little bit, now with supplies getting to the ones like those folks behind you there. >> reporter: it's worse than san juan, hallie. and i'm not that far away from san juan. just the fact that we're able to come to you live means that we have some cell service. so these people here, they are somewhat privileged compared to the people in other cities that
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we have heard of, like the places in the northwestern part of the island, northeastern part of the island. look at the line here in bayomon for ice, something so basic. there are at least a thousand people here, this line goes all the way back here in bayamon. and this ice plant is going to close at 11:30 a.m. eastern time. so these people know that they have been here since the very early morning. and they might not actually get those crucial bags of ice. i'm going to go around here, because as you can see, i mean, there are families, there are children, there are senior citizens here. and i just want to talk to some folks to see how dire the situation is. according to the latest fema press release, we know there are 600 fema personnel on the ground. we also know that they have been able to conduct search and rescue missions to about 90% of the island. but many of the people in this line, they tell us that they have ax luteally no idea about some of their relatives. they continue to receive the desperate facebook messages
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about people in these areas that i told you about, like ricon and saba. we'll talk to people on the line here, coma estas? how bad is the situation here in puerto rico? >> translator: this is chaotic. there is no food anywhere. there's lines for everything, absolutely everything. >> reporter: can you share with us in english about the situation? thank you so much, i appreciate it. let's continue to talk to the people in line here, hallie. how are you guys? how long have you been here in the line? >> a few hours. >> reporter: can you stand up for us? oh, let me come down to you. we know the president is coming on tuesday, he said that he has been sending the necessary help, do you think it's enough? >> i see a lot of talk but no, i don't see a lot of motion, a lot
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of action. >> reporter: what would be your message to the president for his visit on tuesday? i know it is hard. i know you're going through a lot. >> yeah, but i just -- if i were to say something, to please think about us. think about our families. we have done a lot, too, and i think we deserve the help. >> reporter: thank you so much. what we have been hearing from people is just that. they are wondering what makes them less worthy and less american than folks who suffered during harvey and during hurricane irma? now these people here hit by hurricane maria, and ten days later, this is a dire situation here on the island. hallie? >> thank you so much for us with mari mariana there in bayamon. some people not able to call
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back to the mainland to reach friends or family. we know there are efforts trying to be made to get that back up and running. it will likely take a long time. right now, we know that the navy hospital shift the comfort, you have heard about the ship, is getting ready to head to puerto rico. joining me on the phone is the program manager for the medical treatment facility, jim herbst. thank you for being with us. i understand you were at the naval station and the comfort is about to begin its journey over to puerto rico in the next, what, half an hour we think, hour? >> yeah, the next two hours the comfort will be departing from the oval station and traveling down to puerto rico. >> talk to us about the ship. it its crew, its capabilities, what is the plan once you get offshore on the island? >> this was a comprehensive medical treatment facility fully capable of staffing the icu beds, all critical care capabilities, humanitarian, family practice, pediatric care.
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we have a 50 bay casualty receiving. we have 831 medical personnel on board. we have a blood bank. we have a full pharmacy on board and can't wait to get to puerto rico to help the american citizens in puerto rico. >> you say you can't wait to get down there. there's been criticism that the administration did not dispatch the comfort sooner. did you have the capability to go down sooner had the order been given? >> no, we had to wait for the order to be given. there's a lot of things that are going on on the ground down there. so the comfort has been working, preparing to make sure that everything was good, making sure our medical equipment was tested and ready to go. we had our personnel that come over from the navy medicine commands. and we have -- we are ready to go. >> we had doctors on the show earlier about a half hour ago, i think, who said they arebiotics have the medical supplies they need.
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is the comfort equipped to help out those people? >> yes, the comfort is fully equipped to help out those people with a full pharmacy on board. we have full narcotics with the ability to perform surgeries and treat patients and be able to deliver the comprehensive care that they deserve. >> when do you get there and how long do you expect to say? >> we expect to get there in about four days. and as soon as we get there, we're there until we're told to go home. so we are willing to be there and stay as long as we're required to be there and support everyone. >> that's two weeks, essentially, after the storm hit. i think there are folks in puerto rico who hear this and think, oh, my goodness, why couldn't the ship be there sooner for us so this was available right away? >> we are on a five-day ready status for the comfort. so the personnel that we get, they come from shore base medical treatment facilities. and so our ship is in a reduced status, but once we get notification, we move pretty quickly and everybody comes
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together, the navy command, medicine, we work together as a team to get everybody out the door. >> i imagine there's some risk in getting these folks from hospitals in puerto rico, that are only partially operational in to the comfort for care. but that transport, that transfer seems like it could be a place of vulnerability. >> well, the transfer will actually work out very well. we have a helicopter detachment on board the ship. we'll have two helicopters. we'll be able to bring on board 300 patients per day and process them through the hospital ship. it is a comprehensive medical treatment facility. and we are looking forward to being ready, being prepared to help out as soon as we arrive in puerto rico. >> 300 patients per day, how many patients total will need help on the island? can you estimate the numbers at the point? >> we can't. what we do, we are just ready, and as directed, as the governor of puerto rico, as people need help, the comfort will be there and be ready to take all
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patients. >> okay. jim herbst, thank you so much. within the next two hours, the comfort leaving that naval station where jim was speaking to us from. in four days, four days arriving in puerto rico. up next, we want to turn to other news making headlines this morning. surprising reporting about the mysterious sonic attacks on u.s. diplomats in cuba. we've got the details after the break. liberty mutual stood with me when i was too busy with the kids to get a repair estimate. i just snapped a photo and got an estimate in 24 hours.
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we want to bring you some new reporting out just this morning from the associated press on this bizarre deepening international mystery that's currently under investigation by multiple u.s. agent sis. remember the state department? it confirmed in august that a number of american diplomats working in cuba were having this really wide range of strange medical symptoms. the cause? nobody knows. we do know that all of this started in late 2016. and officials at the highest level of the cuban government say cuba is not behind these incidents or these attacks. and today the associated press has new details on how the state department is responding to this. joining me now is one of the reporters on that story. josh leiderman, friend of the show and foreign policy reporter
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for the ap. so josh, scoop for you guys today. walk us through what we know what is happening with these cuba -- this cuba incident? >> major developments in this today. the u.s. is going to drive down more than half of the embassy in havana. we do not think tourists and travelers should go to cuba. i it may not be safe. so far no cases of tourists being hit by the mysterious health attacks. but our diplomats have been hit in hotels in havana if you travel as a tourist we can't say you're going to be safe. >> 21 diplomats have been affected by whatever this is. when it first came out, it was sonic attacks. like headaches and hearing loss. >> that's right. hearing loss. we learned about even more extreme symptoms and diagnoses.
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concussions. people having problems concentrating and other cognitive issue zblps the diplomats are being withdrawn for their own safety at this point. it's not a punishment. it seems at this point to cuba because the state department does not know who's behind it. >> they're saying in other situations where you have a natural disaster or public health crisis, we pull out our staff to the extent possible. >> i want you to listen to what the spokesperson had to say. this has come up. this has come up quite a bit. and here is what she said about secretary tillerson's review of all this. >> the secretary continued to express his profound concern for americans who are employed by the u.s. embassy in havana. the u.s. secretary is reviewing all of his options. we are reviewing how to best protect our american personnel. >> and it appears as though this withdraw is how the state department has determined to do that. >> and a warning to tourists not to go to cuba.
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well, tourism is a big part of cuba's economy now. the door opening to american tourists was a big deal. so if people were to change their travel plans, that could be big. >> nbc news has not confirmed your reporting at the ap, but if it turns out as they're looking into who's behind this that cuba is not responsible, isn't that pretty ominous? >> it's really concerns. i mean, we haven't gotten to the point where we're expelling cuban diplomats from the u.s. we did that -- two of them in may. we're a long way from 2015 when raul castro and obama, you know, opened the door to these two diplomatic relationships. >> he makes a really good point. this is -- there has been a lot of hope for the fact the u.s. was making progress with cuba. 50 years of problems starting to fade. and now you're going to have barely a skeleton staff at the embassy. a big knock toward the cuban economy. this is going to be really difficult.
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>> what is the state department doing to try to figure out who is actually behind this? how do they sleuth this out? >> there's been a massive investigation going on for close to a year now. the fbi has gone down to havana. has the mounties because there have been canadian diplomats hit. they brought in public health agencies. all kinds of people. and they have not found out what did this or who did this. >> that is so strange. >> it's bizarre. it's scary. and for our diplomats who are down there, it's something that they have to think about all the time. >> okay. josh, thank you for joining us on the morning of a busy morning for your reporting here. tamara and ken, thank you very much for being here with us as well on set. i appreciate it. coming up, we'll be right back with today's big picture.
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for today's big picture, we're headed to one of my favorite places on the planet. yosemite national park. iconic tourist destination there getting kind of dangerous. this is a veteran climber. look at this. he's at the top of the legendary el capitan. it's one of the most popular climbing spots in the country. now it's the site of huge rock falls in the last couple days. one of them deadly. you see that cloud of white dust? that is because a chunk of rock 100 feet by 100 feet by 100 feet peeled off el cap and fell to the ground. so far the rock falls have killed one person and hurt two other people.
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peter here says he's extremely lucky to be alive. we'll have more on this story coming up later tonight on "nbc nightly news." also love to hear your thoughts on my facebook, twitter, snapchat, and instagram pages on what has been a busy week. i appreciate you joining us for the last seven days here -- five days -- four days on msnbc. for now over to ali velshi and stephanie rhule. tgif but lots still happening. >> i know. >> like we get to do nothing on the weekends? you know the twitter's coming. >> i just have to say i've been upping my instagram game to try to keep up with the two of you. >> thank you. >> i like your instagram. it's good. >> and he's got a long way to go. >> i do. >> good morning, everybody. i'm stephanie rhule. >> and i'm ali velshi. it's friday, september 29th. let's get started. >> the situation in puerto rico becoming increasingly dire. >> critically needed supplies and thousands of shipping containers are just sitting
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there. >> today the acting homeland security secretary is set to visit puerto rico. >> satisfied so far with the federal response? >> i'm very satisfied. >> with all due respect to the white house, they've got to put lipstick on this pig but it's moving too slow. >> the pentagon appointed a three star general now to oversee the military relief here. >> you literally cannot get off this island. if the ship didn't show up, i wouldn't be home until the middle of october. >> i've heard the concerns and criticisms. all of the trips as i mentioned have been approved by the legal department and approved by the administration department within hhs. been deemed to be appropriate official travel. >> human services secretary tom price. he is now apologizing for his use of private charter flights at taxpayer expense. >> this is drain the swamp? >> and will pay back money for his seat on the private lanes. about $51,000. only part of the total cost. >> the taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those


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