tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 20, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
happening now, breaking news, destructive force. the center of hurricane maria is taking direct aim at the dominican republic right now after making a direct hit on puerto rico. we are getting new and clear views of the devastation. it's awful. a mid warnings the powerful storm left puerto rico 100%
without power. could it be leading for the united states next? >> trapped, last breaking, pain staking search for the survivors after a deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake. more than 225 people are dead. as fears of aftershocks grow. closing in, senate republicans are racing to persuade a few holdouts to get behind a last dish effort to repeal obamacare before end of the month deed line. republican majority leaders show down next week. could the health care bill be rolled back after all? and weighing in former praumt makes a rare public appearance slamming republicans for trying to undo his signature health care law. and joking that some voters didn't like him until he was gone. . i'm wob you're wolf blitzer here
in "the situation room." we're following multiple breaking stories this hour. the center of hurricane maria is back over open water where it could strengthen again after making a direct hit on the u.s. territory of puerto rico. officials report the island is devastated. and 100% without power right now. the hurricane is now heading for the dominican republic and the bahamas. standing by for an updated forecast. also breaking ongoing urgent search for survivors among buildings collapsed by yesterday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake in mexico. at least 225 people are dead. but there are stories of hope. in mexico city right now rescuers made contact with a little girl who alive but trapped in the rubble of a collapsed elementary school. we're also watching the last minute scramble as senate republicans try to put together
enough votes to finally undue obamacare. a vote will come down to a handful of senators. then in a rare meeting today obamacare says latest repeal says it makes no sense to have them go for another rebel fight. real discuss more with these coming up. and our correspondent analyst specialists will all have full coverage of today's top stories. but let's begin with hurricane maurl rampage through puerto rico. what are you seeing, rafael? >> reporter: much better weather conditions, wolf. but let me describe to you what we experienced this morning.
it was as if we could see a cargo train coming and you could hear the hurricane tossing all kinds of objects that were pummelling buildings around us. objects like these pieces of metal. dangerous winds and the sheet of metal shooting down the street as hurricane maria pummeled puerto rico. tearing down residents offenses and knocking out power. a spokesman from the puerto rico governor's office said the entire island is 100% without electricity. the most powerful storm to hit puerto rico in years made landfall with wind speeds of 155-mile-per-hour. sending debris flying dangerously in the air ripping up trees and tearing roofs off houses, battering two thirds of
the island relent less li. >> it sounds like a woman screaming. and it's coming through every crack in this building right now. >> reporter: the governor of puerto rico warning during the storm people are on their own. emergency crews cannot go outside in winds stronger than 50-mile-per-hour, leaving people to fends for themselves and take cover in stairwells or whatever they can. >> woman and children hiding in bathrooms and pantries, you are hearing all over through puerto rico, and other islands we took serious damage. >> reporter: some shelters still housing residents from irma are takingny residents fearing maria. >> this is the most devastating storm in center or quite frankly modern history. >> reporter: and the deadly storm continues to churn now threatening the dominican
republic. puerto rico governor has issued a mandatory cure few from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. starting tonight. and until saturday morning. wolf, back to you. >> all right, rafael, thank you, he's in puerto rico for us. even thou even though the center of the storm, winds and rains are already lashing dominican republic. what are most at risk. >> reporter: there are many here, wolf, in the dominican republic tried to evacuate but will to come back because airports were closed. they say they will be hunkering down. they have left no choice but to ride out outer bands of the storm. meteorologist not expecting a direct hit but i can tell you the storm is 75 miles off the coast, and boy can you see maria
presence there, the massive wicked waves off the coast here. that's really reminder of the potential flooding threat that we expect later today as a high tide approaches. officials saying that, yes, the wind concern is something that they worry about here t potential wind damage, but what they are especially worried about is the potential for devastating flooding, wolf, they have seen plenty of rain, particularly with irma, so the ground is definitely saturated so as we see the outer bands sweep across here then that threat of flooding is there. and as a result the entire northern coast of the dominican republic as well as eastern coast is under red alert which is highest one that calls for mandatory evacuations for some of those low living areas. people here expect ago very long night ahead. >> good luck over there to all the folks in the dominican republic. we'll stay in close touch with you. on the scene. our meteorologist tom sader is
tracking the storm. so now is the storm heading now, tom. >> well, making its way towards the turks and caicos, but good news downgraded to category 2. winds at 110-mile-per-hour, wolf, the mountains of puerto rico having its way with this storm. well, not until after maria had its way with puerto rico. out of 22 weather observation sites only one survived. both radar on puerto rico were wiped out as well. midnight hour strong category 5 with whinds of 175-mile-per-hour. did not think there was time to weaken, but thank goodness for the it man upstairs, unfortunate we had a lashing on st. croix, started to wobble somewhat, getting hit on coastline as well, then 615 landfall as category 4. now considering this is u.s. territory, that's the third category 4 landfall for the u.s. this year. that's unprecedented. never happened before. but now the mountains have had
their way with this. they'll still be lashed with heavy surf on the northern coast as well as dominican republic. i believe this should stay away from the capital of turks and caicos. that's the town by 50 miles. so high storm surge and strong winds. but then we watch the movement north. and here's the latest from the national hurricane center. does pick back up to category 3 but no longer a 4 in the forecast. doesn't mean that won't happen in the development. but as we watch points north ward showing signs cooler water, category 1 on monday. so still time to unfold. european in blue, u.s. in red, agreeing and keeping it close to outer banks. not a landfall at this point. this would be wednesday evening. so again they continue their movement to the north but better news is several days away weigh the system getting into cooler water. that should help downgrade it further. but we know with jose we've had
some fair share of beach erosion but cancelations of airports as well. >> okay. we'll stay sustained. we are also following in mexico trying to find survivors of the 71.earthquake. let's go to main focus of attention right now is on collapsed elementary school. ed, what's the latest? >> reporter: well, wolf, we have to speak very quietly. because rescue crews are in the middle of that school looking for people. and we'll talk louder here now. but rescue crews are still trying to find what they believe is it a young girl inside that building. this is one collapsed school in a neighborhood where many of the other buildings are still left intact. it is a scene of great sadness. scenes of hope and heartache as
a frantic search is under way for survivors of the devastating earthquake. more than 20 children are confirmed deed after the collapse of this elementary school in mexico city. but many have been found alive pulled from the rubble. as the multi story school building fell, it brought classrooms crashing onto other classrooms. some are still missing as rescue crews pour through what's left hoping to find more survivors. authorities are calling for quiet as they listen for signs of life raising their fists in the air as a command for silence. the powerful 7.1 magnitude quake struck about 75 miles southeast of mexico city in the middle of the day. >> the buildings started to shake. and people started to run. people started to cry.
yell. scream. >> reporter: onlookers in the street watched helplessly from this building. and outside the city overlooking the historic town. these panic tourists run to safety during the moment of impact. as the search and rescue mission continues, residents are cautioned to stay indoors and away from unstable structures, but many are flocking to the hardest hit areas to help the over stretched emergency crews. as the second major quake to rock the city in many weeks, many of the region lays crippled and the president nieto is declaring a national emergency. shelters are packed. make shift hospitals. schools are closed in definitelily. and millions are without power.
and, wochlf, thousands of peopl have come out and helped. i was watching the scene unfold and you can she rescue workers crawling through tunnels they have been able to make inside the collapsed part of that building as they look and continue that search for what they believe is it a young girl still trapped inside alive. whether or not this all comes to fruition is a scene and a moment here that many people here, as you can see around me, are anxiously awaiting. wolf? >> yeah, let us know what happens. let's hope for the best fr the little girl in mexico city. up next, senate republicans are trying to persuade a few remaining holdouts to join the latest push to repeal obamacare. after all the failed attempt does the last dish attempt have a real chance?
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on capitol hill republican leaders are pushing very hard to round up the last few votes they need to jam through a bill repealing key parts of obamacare that may be another show down vote on the senate floor some time next week. let's go to capitol hill. break do you know where the vote stands and which senators are the key switch votes. >> reporter: yeah, wolf, we are right back where we were about a month ago. and in this round of repeal and replace, it's the same group of four senators that will make or break the chances of this bill passing. we know rand paul is a no. susan said she is undecided but
leaning in the no direction. that means republicans request not afford to lose anymore votes and focusing on heavily on john mccane of arz and ma could you ski of alaska. coauthors of the legislation took the show on a road shopping the plan. and spent a bulk of the time of the office of senator dan sullivan of alaska. they met trying to pitch them that this plan is not only good for the united states but will specifically be good for the people of alaska after that meeting lindsey graham emerged and seemed confident about the bill's chances. take a listen. >> and we are at a point where we will take the bill up next week. and to my republican colleagues if you have a better idea now is the time to come forward. >> you are taking the bill up next week? >> absolutely. we'll go to the floor with a repeal and replace bill that is
federalism. >> reporter: but he did get somewhat support from the mitch mcconnell that said in a statement they have every intention of bringing this bill to the floor. but, wolf, big difference in having intention to to the floor, and scheduling it, many believe this won't happen until they are sure they have 50 votes ready to go. the white house said did a hopeful to get his friend john mccane on board. and last ditch effort will be enough to get this bill to the finish line. but, wolf, just like the last time around we won't know anything about these votes are finally cast. >> have to be cast by next week, september 30th is the deadline. ryan nobody else on capitol hill. thanks very much. meanwhi meanwhile democratic lawmakers are trying to do this. let's get perspective of senate
blumenthal of connecticut. as you know, next week republicans will lose their shot to repeal obamacare with simple majority. seems like it's coming down to the wire next week. so what can democrats do? are you planningny procedural steps, for example, to try to block this? >> we are preparing and planning to use every tool and tactic available to us. because we are on the precipice of one of the most cruel and outrageous legislative acts in recent history. and what's missing here is the real voices and real faces that i've seen just over the last 24 hours here in connecticut when i've met with cancer survivors, when i've talked on the floor of the united states senate about a young man who suffers from multiple sclerosis and whose care would be threatened. and the attempt to do at the 11th hour, literally in the last
seven days from this friday, what they failed to do in the last seven years, the succession with repeal and replace, it's w sequel to the who owe movie, deprive millions of people of health care and raise premiums for almost everyone who depends on these programs like medicare and medicaid. so i think that these kinds of efforts have to be defeated. and we will resort to all the tooms and tactics that we have available. >> it's going to be a close vote by all accounts. senator, i want you to stand by. we are also learning of a new report from "the washington post" former chairman paul manafort offered influential russia bill yar private briefings on the 2016 campaign. we'll discuss that and more right after this quick break. and we may not know much about medicine,
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when i asked democratic senator about boath of those stories, let's go to first senior correspondent over at trump tower in new york city with more. jim, what's the latest? >> reporter: wolf, we haven't gotten a response to the straks to those two stories but we should point out secretary of state rex tillerson should give briefing about those two breaking stories. the president would like to focus on other foreign policy like the iran nuclear deal. earler today he was dropping hits he would pull out of the agreement. something that would have major consequences. >> listening to president trump talk about the iran nuclear deal it sounds as if he's setting up another reality style cliff-hanger. >> i'll let you know. >> reporter: all week long the president has signalled he may
pause the iran nuclear weapon program. iran condemned president speech to the u.n. >> translator: the ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculous baseless allegations. >> reporter: president is offering no poll guys for the u.n. address. >> rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. >> reporter: despite the complaints from democrats. >> you have to ask yourself is america safer because of rocket man? did we bring anybody to the table as a consequence of that lang? >> reporter: including hillary clinton. >> i thought it was very dark, dangerous. not the kind of message that the leader of the greatest inflammation in the world should be delivering. >> the depraved regime. they appear to be softening some of the president's tough
talk. take nikki haley on the deal. >> it's a clear signal that he's not happy with the deal and that the united states is not safer because of it. >> reporter: making a rare public appearance in new york, former barack obama did not call him by name, but seemed to talk on the politics that had him rise into power. >> a politics that's not we but us anthem. >> reporter: across the town first lady were giving a speech about bullying on of all places social media. >> we must focus to the message they are exposed to on a daily basis through social media, the bullying, the experience online and in person.
>> reporter: they slammed the emmy awards. i was sad end to see the ratings worst ever. smartest people of them all are the depolarables. perhaps the president wasn't a big fan of sean spicer latest spin at the podium. now as the prospect of the u.s. pulling out of the iran nuclear deal, they are balking at curb their nuclear program. wolf, we should point out the president of iran were telling reporters earlier today not realistic their country would go into some new round of negotiations. >> thank you. let's continue our discussion with senator member of the armed services and judiciary committee. what's your reaction to this post that the former trump campaign chairman paul manafort offered what were described as private briefings to a russian
billion air aligned with the kremlin? >> another intriguing piece of a developing mosaic on paul manafort. on connections between the trump campaign, which manafort headed, and the russians. this ol was one that he was known to in the past, reaching out a trying to establish additional connections. so it's evidence of links between the trump campaign and the russian hierarchy at the highest level, including potentially putin, and it's important also because it is part of an investigation that concerns possible money laundering charges against manafort, a no knock raid that was conducted after finding a probable cause that a crime was committed, and that manafort had a link to it. and of course cnn's reports of
wiretaps that could not have been done without a finding of probable cause by foreign intelligence judge. so all of it is extremely significant when it is put together. >> this "washington post" report by the way says there is no evidence this russian billionaire actually took up the manafort offer. but was it appropriate to make that kind of an offer to begin with? >> in total context of the events and circumstances, i would say no. it certainly raises strong suspensions of collaboration and collusion between the trump campaign and the russians in their meddling in the election. and, remember, this took place just less than a month after the june 6th or 9th meeting, this communication was on july 6th, i believe, as reported, and we are putting together events, the meeting between manafort and
jared kushner and donald trump junior with potential foreign agents of the foreign government. this communication could be seen as follow up. and again there is no evidence yet about whether or not they actually received the email, but the fact it was sent indicates continuing intent or objective in establishing relationships and possible collusion. >> and "the new york times" is now reporting that the special counsel robert mueller is seeking white house documents on the firings of the fbi director james comey, adviser michael flynn along with documents from president trump meetings with the russians in will he explained the reasoning for comey firing. so what does that tell you, senator? >> what it tells me is that the president is saying to the top hierarchy of the russian government, including the foreign minister, after firing comey, that he was relieved
because he was so concerned about the russian thing, as he has called it, is additional evidence to be considered by mueller of obstruction of justice. it's really that serious. and potential obstruction of justice is a very serious federal crime under investigation by the special counsel. and now the special counsel is focusing on the white house, not yet with subpoenas, but apparently seeking interviews and documents from the white house that may reflect russian meddling in the election, but also trump collusion with that meddling through the campaign, and possible obstruction by the white house afterwards in the firing of comey. >> very quickly, senator, do you want manafort to testify before your judiciary committee? >> he must testify. he is among the witnesses that should be compelled to testify by subpoena if necessary, including jared kushner and
donald trump junior, he should be testifying in oath in public so the american people can hear what he has to say. >> thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> coming up, one of the latest on hurricane maria, after devastating puerto rico, the storm is setting its sites on the demin can republic, and possibly the east coast of the united states. >> plus a close look inside north korea provocative weapons testing. is president trump only strengthening kim jong-un's resolve. at ally, we offer low-cost trades and high-yield savings.
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. following breaking news devastation in hurricane as hurricane maria wipes out electricity across the island possibly for months. major threat to the caribbean throughout the night. but first there are major developments unfolding here in washington where republicans may be on the cups of repealing key parts of the obamacare. let's bring in our specialists. i want to welcome our newest cnn contributor. >> nice to be here. >> so how do you see the legislation very close right now to passing in the senate? >> well, it would be a disaster for the american health care system. in the first fou years by 2026, 27, it could be estimated 32 million people. >> how do you know that if the congressional budget office hasn't scored all those kind of
things? >> other people who have models of this. and previously the cbo scored a bill similar to this. this is actually worse than the previous republican bills. and came out with at least 32 million people thrown off coverage. because we lose through medicaid expansion, i mean aca exchanges, but also going to cutback on medicaid so a lot will lose coverage there. and employees will begin cutting back because of the rising costs. >> very sensitive issue pre-existing conditions. what does this proposed legislation do as far as people suffering from cancer or other pre-existing conditions? >> so basically it says states can repeal the conditions and raising the rates for them. it says you can repeal t and it's estimated that half of the american population will be exposed to states where the law doesn't require that they do that. >> and your analysis as far as premiums what? >> well, premiums will initially go down, but then ultimately go up. because you are going to have just the fewer insured people, a
lot more uninsured people having to go to get care at hospitals. and that cost is going to be transported to people who have private insurance. so it's a disastrous situation. and if you are buying individual insurance you can see the presume ums sky rocket. the individual market is going to go haywire. if they think obamacare is bad just wait until this passes. nothing really good in this bill. one gets a sense that the republicans want to pass anything and not even examining the details or impact on the american population. >> a lot of republicans disagree with you on that. but david, if there is no full congressional budget office report, a score, as they say, they don't come up with a number how many people would lose insurance. republicans still want to go ahead and vote for this and they say theal tirn ti alternative ie which is worse. >> right. and why the congressional office is so important to these
political debates it's a long partisan arbiter of legislation. so both sides while they try to spin the numbers, understand to a degree, basically to what the cbo reports. that's why the score gets so much attention, wolf. but, yes, i think the republicans are clearly poised to proceed with that. despite the fact that some of the critical republican votes have said they are very queasy about that and wish they could see a full score, that that would help them make up their minds. >> how fyou've been taking a cl look. you need 50 on board. >> that's right. and we were looking at the same people as we were before. ly sa mick could youcy lak, john mccane one of the undecisive voters. they had different reasons why they still might have complaints about this. the white house hoping that the
friendship between lindsey graham and john mccane might make a difference. but his problem with this is he felt it was rushed and not bipartisan. and not going through the proper senate procedures. so all those things are in place, so we'll see if he's changing his mind. and i was talking to people behind the scenes negotiating with this, obviously been talking to lisa, and one of the things they told me is the basically the idea is offer alaska anything they want to get lisa mccould you ski on board. the question is you offer her anything she wants, then who else is going to raise their hands and say. >> can they do that? can they buy off, if you will, some waivering senators? >> this is washington. you can buy off anyone. in some ways that might enable to get her vote. although there is push back from republican and democratic governors, ten of them right now, wolf, who have written a letter to leader mitch mcconnell and shum schumer and said, list
this big is being worked on, however, those negotiations collapsed last night. question is does lisa get cover from having her governor, an independent, write a letter to the leadership and say, please do not pass this bill? >> you really hate this proposed legislation, as i've told our viewers, you were one of the architects of obamacare. what do you think is going to happen? >> i think it's not going to pass in the end. let's point out that arizona, alaska, and maine all lose money as a result of this bill. and by 2027, every state is going to have a big cut. i mean, this cuts $500 billion out of money going to the states over the next ten years. that is not a nice prospect. and by the way, after 2027, right, no money for medicaid expansion or aca expansion, which means states are going to have to pull back or spend more money out of their own coffers, this is terrible bill except for
states like texas. those states that didn't expand medicaid they get a big bump. those that didn't huge cut backs by this bill and hurt back it. >> coming up next week, the deadline september 30th. guys stand by. more news we are following. some experts worry north korea might use trump tough speech as an excuse to test more weapons and nuclear weapons. so how far will kim jong-un go?
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as kim jong-un rapidly expands his weapons program, experts worry that north korea could be racing towards its ultimate goal a nuclear war head capable of hitting the continental united states. brian todd is standing by with more. >> reporter: we have new information just how likely he is to having that capability. we are hearing of one test that the dictator has not conducted that would alarm officials. this comes as the white house tries to lay down markers to try to prevent kim from making those moves. north korea's aggressive young leader has been on notice again by president trump. if kim jong-un fires the first
lethal shot against south korea or japan. >> we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. >> reporter: tonight analysts are concerned that statement might strengthen kim's resolve. others say the president has put down markers to kim about the risks he's taking. >> will he launch more missiles, yes, but he was going to anyway. he is not going to settle for any type of negotiation before he can demonstrate the ability to strike the continental united states without warning. >> reporter: tonight there are new warnings about how close he is. experts say last friday's test may be the first time they tested a missile from a mobile launcher. >> that means they can launch it faster and harder to pre-empt. >> it's not just the ability to launch quickly. officials believe north korea has already reached other milestones to becoming a nuclear
threat including building what's believed to be a hydrogen bomb. >> developing advanced engines and fuels. and submarine missiles. experts say a few steps remain for north korea to hit the u.s. with a nuclear bomb. and building a missile nose cone that can protect the missile head from burning in the reheat of the atmosphere. experts say there is one line that kim hasn't crossed that would make intelligence officials truly alarmed. >> if north korea were to put a weapon on a missile, fire it out into the pacific ocean somewhere and dead death natonate it at t you are look at a smoking gun. at that point there's really no denying it. >> reporter: and at that point sources say the u.s. may be
forced to take more aggressive military action of its own, like shooting down one of north korea's missiles while it's being tested or launching a cyber attack or an electromagnetic pulse strike. all design today send a clear message to kim jong-un that he cannot go any further. the question then becomes is he going to respect that message. >> we'll stay on top of the story. coming up the forecast for hurricane maria it's weaker after making a direct hit on puerto rico, but will it strengthen and could it pose a threat to the mainland u.s.? marcopolo! marco...! polo! marco...! polo! marco...! polo! marco...! sì? polo! marco...! polo! scusa? ma io sono marco polo, ma... marco...!
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happening now, breaking news, powerless, hurricane maria pounds puerto rico leaving the entire island and its 3 1/2 million american citizens without electricity. tonight a flood emergency is unfolding and a government spokesperson warns some things on the island will never be the same. a struggle to survive, a desperate search in mexico city, mexico for people left alived in an earthquake. private briefings a new report says paul manafort offered updates on the presidential race the a russian billionaire with close ties to the kremlin. there's also a report that the special counsel wants documents on president trump's actions. down to the wire. the senate is expected to vote next week on a last ditch effort to