The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcrpt 9/8/17 Mueller probe moves to the West Wing
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: September 8, 2017
Guest: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Howard Dean, Ron Klain, Ed Rappaport,
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much. Today, Washington is
completing funding for one hurricane, while bracing for another.
Fallout also continuing from that historic appearance by Donald Trump, Jr.
before senate investigators. Now, tonight, we have a report on where the
Russia probe is heading, including who Bob Mueller wants to interview. And
the latest in politics.
But we are beginning, of course, in Florida where the authorities, experts
and scientists all agree on one thing. This potentially cataclysmic
hurricane is on the way. A Category 4 storm, it is expected to tear into
the US coastline at wind speeds that now exceed potentially 155 miles per
hour in the estimates and surges that may exceed 10 feet in height.
We also can report 17 deaths from the impact alone in the Bahamas already.
Now, in the United States, the path of the storm can wind through
potentially the entire State of Florida. As you may know, one out of every
American lives there. Buildings projected now to collapse completely into
the sea according to experts.
One estimate from the National Weather Service tells us some areas will be
inaccessible to human beings for weeks or more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The storm has taken lives already. It`s going to take
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be unprecedented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beach right now, it`s like post-apocalyptic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thing does look like a monster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are running out of time. The storm is almost here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We may be running out of time, but at any moment, we do expect to
hear a new update from Florida Governor Rick Scott, important for people in
that state, as well as folks around the country, and we`ll bring that to
But we begin right now with NBC`s Jose Diaz-Balart, who joins us from
Miami. Jose, what can you tell us about what`s happening as people make
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ari, good evening to you. This
could be the largest mass evacuation in the history of the United States.
What`s going on in South Florida is something that I`ve never seen before.
And I think it`d be safe to say that very few people have. The amount of
people that have decided to leave this area - we`re talking about hundreds
of thousands of people, tourists that have been here, as well as residents,
from the Keys all the way up north through the area in Orlando.
This mass movement, and you were just seeing in that story, Ari, how
someone says it looks post-apocalyptic. Folks, if you`ve been to South
Florida and South Beach, this is a vibrant, multilingual, multicultural
city, filled with colors and light and passion.
And it is a ghost town here. There is - I just saw two joggers pass by.
The cars you see are very few and far between. The long lines you all see
are just at gas stations. And people have taken this very seriously, Ari,
because it is such a monster storm.
And South Florida has had a history of dealing with monster storms, and I`m
thinking of the 24th of August of 1992. I covered Hurricane Andrew. It
was a far different storm. It was a Category 5 storm, but it left deep
scars in South Florida.
But you know what, that was 25 years ago. A lot of the people that are
here have never been to a storm like this, and so as the cone shifts and as
it seems as though it goes more western one day or more eastern - the fact
of the matter is this is a storm that everybody here has taken very
seriously, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and that includes
people just hunkering down and getting ready to deal with what could be a
MELBER: Our colleague Jose Diaz-Balart, who, as you mentioned, has covered
so many of these. Thank you for your report tonight and stay safe.
DIAZ-BALART: Good to see you, amigo. Thanks.
MELBER: Now to MSNBC weather contributor Sam Champion over in Miami beach.
What can you tell us?
SAM CHAMPION, MSNBC WEATHER CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Ari. I just want to set it
up for you a little bit. We`re standing on Miami Beach here, in my home on
the balcony. And then you`re looking out at downtown Miami there. Those
are some of the islands behind us that people have homes on. And then you
see the high rises that are built right along Biscayne Bay behind me.
I will just say what Jose has said, and that is that the beach has never
been more quiet. This is normally a high drive time. And the causeway
from here to there is jam packed normally. Now, there`s just a handful of
He mentioned a little bit about Andrew. And we can make a comparison for
you just to show you on the graphics here what those two storms are like,
if you put them back to back.
So, Andrew came in in 1992. It was a Cat 5 in the water, but actually came
onshore as a Cat 4 and cut right across the bottom of the state. That went
from east to west and the damage was intense. It was damage from south
Miami and flattened Homestead and then moved right out into the Gulf.
Now, take a look at Irma. Irma is just about double the size really if you
put them together. Irma was a Category 5 for 69 hours. It`s been breaking
records the entire trip over here. And that shatters the record - the
previous record was 17 hours. So, unbelievable, the strength of this
storm. Still, should be a 4 as it makes impact on the tip of South
And, Ari, one more thing that I just want to say to people who are watching
overnight tonight. This storm will go from the south of Florida all the
way to the north of Florida, no matter what happens with its wobble on its
Everyone in the state of Florida has to watch the strength of this storm.
Now, as far as impact goes, the strongest part of this storm is right in
the eye wall, the tight center, that beautiful clear center, if you`re
looking at it from the satellite picture.
Well, right on the edge of that, as that storm is driving, the northern
edge of it, the worst winds, the worst surge, so that`s why we`re so
careful about where the impact of that eye will be. And it previously had
been in the most populated areas of South Florida toward Homestead, to
Now, the Hurricane Center has adjusted that a little bit to the west, but
we`re still cutting the storm across the central Keys. That will be
devastating for the Keys, devastating for the Keys. And wherever the
initial impact of this storm, it will be equally as bad.
I don`t want people to relax when they see that little wobble, Ari, from
that east coast may be to the west coast side. I don`t want you to relax
at all in any location. Stay tight with this storm because this is a big,
big monster storm.
MELBER: Important warnings and we appreciate the historical comparison and
context. It really gives you another way to understand just how massive
this can be.
Sam Champion, as I`ll say to a lot of people today, stay safe. Thank you.
NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins has more on the tracking of the storm. And
also, Bill, if you want to add on to that reporting on the comparison.
Walk us through why it is that it stays a Category 5 or 4 for however long
and how it hits the land and how that affects the potential devastation
BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. There`s no analogy to this
storm. We`ve never had a storm this strong that`s going to cross this much
land, including Florida, Texas or wherever else.
So, this is going to - we have nothing to compare this to. We`ve tried
there with Andrew a little bit. But we saw this is twice the size and it
will be with us at least two times, maybe three times as long.
So, let`s dive into the models. They`re all pinpointing now, a little
further west, in between Key West and Key Largo, the first landfall. That
will be 5:00 am Sunday. And that could be a Category 5 hurricane landfall.
You wonder if A1A, the bridge will even remain intact after going through
this as we go throughout the early morning Sunday.
This is also when the hurricane force winds will arrive through all of
South Florida, the Miami area, Homestead, across Alligator Alley here into
Marco Island. The forecast has gotten much worse today in areas for
Naples, Fort Myers, even the Tampa area.
But if we`re going to see the Cat 5 destruction that the winds can do, like
the stuff we showed you from Barbuda, that would be down here around Naples
and the Marco Island area.
If you haven`t evacuated from that area, get out now while you still can,
you only have about 24 hours left, because all of our models are
pinpointing that`s where the worst of the storm surge is. That`s where the
Category 5 winds would be. It`s like the equivalent of going through an
So, you want nothing to do with that. You don`t want even to be sheltering
a place in that unless you really, really have to. So, that`s at 1:00 PM
The other thing is, if we slowed this down a little bit, I was hoping to
get this storm out of here in a hurry, but even as of 2 AM Monday, it would
still likely to be a Category 2 hurricane right over the top of central
Florida, in between the I4 corridor of Tampa and Orlando. That`s where all
our models are pinpointing. That would be extreme power outages and a lot
of downed trees.
I was in Orlando for Charlie. It was only a Cat 1, bordering Cat 2 and it
went through - we didn`t have power for two weeks. So, don`t think that
further north is that much safer.
And at about the time - at 10:00 AM Monday, it`s still in Florida. So,
we`re literally talking about 24 to 28 hours of this storm remaining in
Now, we still have about 24 hours. What could possibly change? Our
American and European models unfortunately are in excellent agreement.
They shifted a little further west during the day today.
There is that land fall right on the keys here about 10:00 AM. By 2:00 PM,
that`s when the worst of it will be in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, even
though the storm, the really nasty 150-mile-per-hour winds will be over
here near the Naples area.
We will still have 100-mile-per-hour winds, about 50 to 60 miles away from
the center, coming onshore, so around 8 AM to about 2 to about 4 PM. That
is when we will lose all the power in areas of Southeast Florida. That`s
when we will have some windows shattered. That`s when trees will go down.
That`s also when the storm surge will come onshore here.
And then by 5 PM, that`s when everything will really start getting bad in
areas like West Palm Beach, still horrible in Fort Lauderdale, hopefully a
little bit of a break by Sunday evening down in the Keys as the storm moves
to the north. And there you see by 8 PM Sunday.
What you don`t like is this excellent agreement. And, Ari, the thing with
this storm, we`re trying to pinpoint who is going to go through the eye
wall because that`s where the ultimate destruction will be. Those are the
people that won`t be able to return to their homes for weeks.
Everybody else still has to go through the tropical storm force winds and
the hurricane force gust. I don`t think anyone in Florida is safe from
getting less than hurricane force gusts.
This area that we show here, the hurricane, look how huge it is. That`s
easy going to cover the entire peninsula as we go throughout the day
As the storm weakens, by the time, it gets up near Tampa and Orlando, that
area shrinks a little bit. So, we`re hoping the damage around Melbourne,
the Space Coast, Cocoa Beach, heading up into areas of Daytona Beach or
Flagler County, we`re hoping it`s not going to be quite as extreme there
for you as the storm begins to weaken, but that`ll be one of the stories we
also have to watch.
Just these wind gusts are just going to be pretty incredible site, Ari. To
talk about Category 5 landfalls in our country, Andrew, and then you have
to go all the way back to storms that were before our satellite era.
So, this will be - we`re all about to witness something that most of us -
hardly any of us have ever seen before. And the fact that it`s such a
large storm means no one`s going to be spared in Florida.
But if I had to pinpoint one city that I am very concerned for, it is that
Marco Island and Naples area. They could be the ones getting the direct
MELBER: And, Bill, you`re speaking to the true lack of any modern
precedent, when you look at, as you were saying, that really wide, wide red
circle representing the core of the hurricane, we can see that moving up,
is there any time that something that wide has hit this much landmass in
the United States?
KARINS: We`ve had huge storms before. Floyd was a very big storm with a
huge wind field. Katrina, we had a huge wind field, very large tropical
storm force wind field. So, we`ve had storms that have been this big
But what`s different is, remember Katrina was a Category 4, I believe,
bordering on a Category 5 when it was in the Gulf. But by the time it
actually made landfall, it did weaken down to a strong to Category 3.
This one is expected to maintain its intensity and hurricane (INAUDIBLE)
maybe get a little bit stronger right before that landfall. And we saw
what that does. Harvey did that. The storms that get a little stronger
right before they come onshore, they have a little more oomph to them.
Again, if we do get this expected path right almost over the top of the
Naples, Fort Myers area. That would be - that`s where Wilma came on shore
really badly. That was only a Category 3.
These go exponentially. So, like, a Category 2 is not double worse than 1.
It keeps getting worse and worse. It`s not just one category worse. A
category 5 is 500 times worse than a Category 1.
MELBER: Right, right. We`re using very simple number system, but it
actually reflects, as you say, a kind of growth that is really the
potential humanitarian crisis that we`re all keeping an eye on.
KARINS: Imagine how we`re going to get power back to the State of Florida.
You have to go from north to south, roads are going to be blocked. People
are going to be wanting to get back to see what damage to their homes and
how are - all these power crews have to go through the entire state,
millions and millions of people have to get their power back on. Maybe
months. Is that so crazy?
MELBER: Incredible displacement. And I will mention, a lot of our viewers
know you from your coverage. As a colleague and a listener, I have never
heard you sound an alarm quite like this. so, obviously -
KARINS: We thought - last year with Matthew, when we thought it could hit
West Palm Beach, it was close to this, but Matthew just barely missed. I
don`t see any way this one does.
MELBER: Right. In terms of the landfall. Bill Karins, thank you. We`ll
be checking back in with you, of course, later in this hour. I appreciate
We`ve talked about the authorities` preparations. We`ve talked about the
science and the meteorology.
Now, we go to the people. Jacob Soboroff has been in and around Miami
Beach all day talking to people, local residents and folks, trying to help
them under this mandatory evacuation order, which was first put in place
yesterday. What can you tell us? What are you seeing at this hour?
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank goodness, Ari. There are
not many people out here on Miami Beach right now.
I was talking to our friend and colleague Greg Melvin earlier today on our
air. To think about that this is a Friday afternoon, now evening, on Miami
beach, on South Beach, and there`s not a person inside or just a couple as
you look down the beach. It is what you guys have been talking about. It
does have an apocalyptic feel to it.
When you talk about the storm surge that Bill Karins has been talking
about, that Sam Champion has been talking about, we are plus or power minus
(INAUDIBLE), obviously, at sea level standing right here in front of the
Atlantic Ocean, on Miami beach, a barrier island to Miami-Dade County.
We`re talking about 5 feet or 10 feet of storm surge once it comes out
here. And what that is going to affect is not just people down here on the
beach, of course. It will affect almost the entirety or much of Miami-Dade
County, which sits at or below sea level.
What else is going to affect are these buildings right here. We have got
thousands - 91,000 people live on Miami Beach, in the City of Miami beach.
We`re talking about hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars` worth
of construction, worth of infrastructure. You`ve got elderly people that
have decided to ride out this storm as we brought to our viewers earlier
today on MSNBC.
There are still some people that have decided not to leave this area. And
if and when that storm surge hits this area, the entire Miami Beach, which
is, like I said essentially - it`s not essentially, it is an island - could
end up almost entirely underwater.
That`s the big concern. The concern is getting people out in time. The
good news is the local police department, Miami Beach Fire Department,
Ocean Rescue has been out here all day long, driving up and down this
beach, telling people frankly to get the heck out.
And that is what they`re saying today, which is after 40 mile an hour
winds, the local first responders are not going to be out on tropical storm
winds. You are on your own.
So, again, if anybody is watching is, they are in the Miami Beach area, in
low-lying areas, it is time to get out. It was time to get out a long time
ago. And it is only going to get more dangerous from here on now, Ari.
MELBER: Appreciate it, Jacob. And appreciate the message that they are
sending, which is not to be dramatic, but to be clear. There won`t be help
later. They have to act now.
Jacob Soboroff, thank you. We`ll be checking back in. We go right now
Catie Beck driving from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando. This is on 95 North.
Catie, what can you tell us?
CATIE BECK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ari. The same thing that Jacob
said. The highway here is an absolute wide open space. There are very few
cars traveling at this hour.
You`ve heard the stories of the traffic backs up, of people evacuating from
Miami, thousands and thousands trying to rush out.
I think that happened yesterday and the day before, but today the roadways
are really open. It seems like people really heeded those evacuation
warnings and headed to higher ground and safer places in North Florida.
Struggle now is that the path of the storm could end up coming there as
well. It could end up coming to Orlando, which is where we`re headed. We
have learned that Disney World have made an announcement that they`re going
to, tomorrow, shut down the park, presumably until about Monday or Tuesday.
They haven`t made that decision final yet, but they`ve said they want to
make sure that all of their guests are safe and that they are concerned
enough about this storm making landfall in Orlando and what that could mean
for the safety of park-goers
So, we will be headed to Orlando, but our trip there, as I`ve shown you,
it`s a pretty open, wide 95 North right now, not too many people rushing to
get away at this point, which is probably a good sign. Ari?
MELBER: Catie Beck, thank you. Reporting from the road there.
Up next, we`re going to look at Southern Florida, which is, of course, used
to hurricanes, but Irma, one of the most power storms on record.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins me on the emergency
planning. Plus -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have my confidence in God. I know we`ve prepared
for the storm. And when the storm is coming, the best thing you can do is
to prepare for it. You don`t just sit there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to be unprecedented. If it continues on the
same course, it will be unprecedented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beach right now, I went out this morning just to
look around, it`s like post-apocalyptic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Miami-Dade area now undertaking its single largest evacuation
ever. Officials telling over half a million people the time for waiting is
over and it`s time to get out.
Let`s get right to it with Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Her district is one of many that lies right in the path of the storm in
Congresswoman, what is your top concern at this hour and what are you
learning from your discussions with authorities?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, one of my main concerns
is the folks that have refused to leave despite mandatory evacuation
While we have seen quite a few people make their way to shelters, get out
from the low-lying areas, and Miami Dade, as you said, is undertaking the
largest evacuation in their history, there are people that are choosing to
This is a very, very serious storm. We`re grizzled veterans down here. We
live in hurricane alley. We`re used to preparing for storms, but
unfortunately there is a lot of people that get a little cynical because we
do a lot of prep and then thankfully, most times, particularly in modern
times, we`ve not had to ride out and deal with a very significant storm.
You showed a graphic earlier, Ari, of Andrew, which was one of the most
devastating storms in our history in the United States, and essentially
Irma would swallow Andrew in terms of its size.
My district really appears to be headed for a direct hit. Even with the
western jog, because I represent an area that is the Sawgrass to the
Seagrass from the Everglades to the ocean - and the distance between Naples
and Westin, which is my hometown, is just under 100 miles and the width of
the hurricane force winds is about 75 to 90 miles.
So, we are going to have a lot of people get hit very, very hard and we`ve
not had a storm that is really going to affect every major metropolitan
area in the state virtually. So, that`s my concern.
But we`re preparing. We`re working with the states and the local and
federal officials. They`ve pre-positioned equipment and supplies.
The HHS at the federal level has medical teams pre-positioned, ready to
come into the state and already pre-positioned in the states. So, we`re
ready for the aftermath of this thing, but it`s going to be devastating.
MELBER: Congresswoman, you mentioned it, the few people, but people
nonetheless, who are there, who for whatever reason aren`t leaving, maybe
they don`t consume as much media, maybe, as you mentioned, they feel they
have “been through this before,” what do you want to say to them tonight?
SCHULTZ: Anyone within the sound of my voice that is in a mandatory
evacuation zone absolutely needs to get out. You do still have a few more
hours. You have this evening that you can evacuate, get to higher ground,
go west, go to emergency hurricane shelters that are open and available,
but it`s absolutely essential that you not leave yourself vulnerable in the
path of devastating storm surge where there are no emergency personnel that
are going to be available to help you, if you remain in the path of that
storm. It`s absolutely critical.
MELBER: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you for joining us
on a busy time for you and your constituents.
SCHULTZ: You`re welcome.
MELBER: We`re going to continue tracking this historically large storm and
we have more for you on that later in the hour.
But up next, we`re going to turn back to some other stories that would have
been probably the top story tonight, breaking out in Congress today. The
resolution of one set of hurricane relief. Democrats winning part of that
fight. Rifts deepening between the Trump White House and Republicans in
Congress and new reports on Russia.
MELBER: As Hurricane Irma is barreling towards United States, President
Trump signing a Hurricane Harvey relief package, the one negotiated by
Democrats and the House voted to send $15 billion out there for Harvey,
with 90 nos from Republicans. That`s a stark sign of interparty anger with
Trump right now.
Many Republicans saying that Trump blindsided them by cutting that deal
with those two democrats you see there in the Oval Office, Chuck Schumer
and Nancy Pelosi.
And Trump`s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is actually the kind of
Republican who would be complaining about this if he didn`t take a job with
Trump. He literally founded the conservative Freedom Caucus, which is the
group that agitates against deficit spending, but today he was making the
case for Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I was in
there today, making the case that they should vote for this.
That`s not the right question to ask.
UNITENDTIFIED FEMALE: Why not?
MULVANEY: Because I work for the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you won`t say whether -
MULVANEY: I don`t think that`s a relevant question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It is always helpful when people in politics tell us what the
right questions are to ask.
Meanwhile, conservatives going in hard on Treasury Secretary Steven
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX MOE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did you get to talk to Mr. Mnuchin?
REP. MARK WALKER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I did. I thought he did a very
poor job in answering our questions today. In fact, his last statement
was, “vote for the debt ceiling for me.” I thought that was pretty weak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Weak. Meanwhile pressure mounting on Speaker Ryan this morning.
A member refusing to voice support for Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want leadership to change. Are you OK with Speaker
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask to do what we told the American people we
were going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With me now is Ron Klain. He severed in senior roles in Obama
White House and wrote in “The Washington Post” today that Schumer and
Pelosi just totally suckered Trump. Also with me former Vermont Governor
and DNC Chairman Howard Dean.
Gentleman, good to speak with you. This is partly, of course, where
politics and policy meets the hurricane, which is on everyone`s mind right
now. And it`s partly where politics in the age of Donald Trump goes, Gov.
Dean, where it doesn`t seem like anyone, including literally Donald Trump,
knows what he is going to do when he walks in the room.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: That`s true. And if it where
another president who had a track record of consistency and thoughtfulness,
I actually think that we would say, this is really smart.
Here is why. There are about 90 of those people - about 70 of them weren`t
going to vote for this no matter what Trump said.
So, if Trump is thinking ahead, which he never does, he actually knows that
he has to make a deal with the Democrats because he can`t get the
Republicans on board. Ryan is too weak a Speaker. So it`s odd because I
don`t give Trump any credit for foresight whatsoever but if another
President had done this, we`d all saying how smart he was.
MELBER: Yes, Ron Klain, I mean, there is – part of this that is sort of
bumbling into what could be strategy but as the governor says it`s not
strategy, doesn`t count if it`s an accident.
RON KLAIN, FORMER AL GORE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, you know, I think for
Donald Trump it was a mistake for this reason. What the Democrats got out
of this deal was a very short term lease on President Trump. Governor Dean
is right. To raise the debt ceiling, to fund the government, he needs
Democratic votes. But a savvier president would have done what Steve
Mnuchin recommended which is try to get a deal defunded for the next two
years and put the Democrats on the back bench for the next two years. What
Pelosi and Schumer got was a deal that puts Trump on a 90-day leash. He
has to come back to it again, 90 days from now and get their votes again
and perhaps two or three times before Election Day 2018. This means the
Democrats are going to be relevant. They`re going to have leverage and
they`re going to be able to bring their preferences to the table and have
some power in dealing with Trump. And that`s what the Democratic Leaders
very wisely got out of this agreement.
MELBER: Right. And dealing with Trump also appears to be a lot of one-way
loyalty. As you know, Governor Dean, these Republicans –
DEAN: That`s true.
MELBER: Yes. I want to play something for you to get your response.
These Republicans upset about how he undercut them but he will break no
criticism. Steve Bannon in some very flashy comments on 60 Minutes going
back to something that many Trump supporters said they didn`t agree with.
What he said in the Access Hollywood Tape. And Bannon says Chris Christie
cost himself any role in government over voicing what so many people said,
which was even if you do agree with some Republican positions Trump
advocated, that was over the line. Here is Bannon on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Billy Bush Saturday to
me is a litmus test. It`s a litmus test. Billy Bush Saturday showed me
who really had Donald Trump`s back to play to his better angels. All you
had to do and what he did was go out and continue to talk to the American
people. People didn`t care. They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker
room talk with the guy. Christi because of Billy Bush weekend and was not
looking for cabinet position. I told him the plane leaves at 11:00 in the
morning. If you`re on the plane, you`re on the team. Didn`t make the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: I think that`s probably right. I really do. I think Ron`s point is
a very, very good one. He – what Trump has done which is really
infuriated the Republicans has empowered the Democrats to do something
about DACA. Now Trump is going to have a choice. If he wants to work on
another agreement of which DACA is a part, he can undo a fair amount
incredible ill will that the Hispanic community in this country has for
Trump and the Republicans over the objections of the Republicans. And so,
I agree. Ron is absolutely right. He has empowered the Democrats. That
may not be all bad from my perspective.
MELBER: Right. And that goes to what he wants to do with it. And the
problem for Donald Trump is he has never articulated reasons for when he
does these things. So this one looked really, as the kids would say,
Rando. Governor Dean, thank you. Ron, stay with me because I`m going to
talk about one other thing. We got to do an update here on the monster
storm barreling towards the Florida Coast. What has been the subject of
most of our hour? Hurricane Irma now expected to make landfall this
weekend. The winds are going to go up to 150 miles an hour. From the
National Hurricane Center in Miami, I have Acting Director Ed Rappaport.
We want to get right to you. What is the most important information you
want to convey?
ED RAPPAPORT, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER ACTING DIRECTOR: Our most
important concern is the storm surge hazard. We have a video of what the
storm surge looks like behind us. At this point, we`re expecting five to
ten feet of storm surge on the southeast coast of Florida and the Florida
Keys, as much as six to 12 feet on southwest coast. That`s a life
threatening condition. And on top of that storm surge, we`re going to have
damaging, potentially destructive waves.
MELBER: So, when you talk about the surge, you`re talking about what
people are actually going to see on land. Does that include potentially
even if they`re not right close to the eye of the hurricane?
RAPPAPORT: Nearest to the eye of the hurricane will be the strongest
winds. And what we`re seeing, in that case, is very close within say 30
miles of the eye will be the category 4, maybe category 5 winds. But the
hurricane is fairly large. Hurricane conditions spin up 50 miles in every
direction. So with the forecast to the center coming across the Florida
Peninsula, it`s really the entire Florida Peninsula that could be affected
by those winds and again our greatest concern is going to be the storm
surge for the Florida Keys and potentially for southwest and southwest of
Southeast Florida Coast.
MELBER: And briefly, the reports that entire buildings could go down.
What can you say about that?
RAPPAPORT: South Florida – in fact Florida as a state has the strongest
building code but category 5 can challenge any structure. At this point
though, we have a category4 hurricane and we think that those winds while
potentially destructive to many structures will likely be not enough to
cause loss of life if people are in a well-fortified building particularly
with shutters up on that building.
MELBER: Copy. I know the National Hurricane Center is very busy and doing
a public service. We wanted to get your pieces of information here on the
air tonight. Ed Rappaport, thank you for joining.
RAPPAPORT: Thank you.
MELBER: Ahead, more on this storm but also, breaking news on the Bob
Mueller-Russia investigation. He has specific names according to the
Washington Post that he wants to interview. And we`ll have more on this
historic storm headed towards Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of frazzle right now. Americans are – I`m
hoping everybody making it through safe. If it means losing power you know
and not having water, things like – I`d rather deal with that than anybody
lose their life.
MELBER: Turning to a major development in the Russia probe, this might be
the top story in America on this Friday evening if not for the hurricane
headed towards Florida. The question that Bob Mueller`s inquiry has always
been obviously, where is it headed? Who is in the eye of this probe?
Well, on this Friday evening, we have news, another scoop on Russia that
gives some clarity about that. The Washington Post reporting late today,
Mueller is looking to interview specifically six former or current Trump
aides who worked in the White House including Reince Priebus and Sean
Spicer. Those prominent faces could thus end up in an FBI interview or
even a grand jury box. The list also concludes spokesperson Hope Hicks,
White House Counsel Don McGahn, one of his deputies and a spokesperson who
works closely with guess who, Jared Kushner. Now, we don`t know what these
interviews will be about.
And as you may have heard me saying before when covering cases, there is
nothing automatically negative to be inferred about someone being asked for
this kind of interview. But this news does give us some clues into at
least the kind of stuff Mueller is looking at. The inclusion of White
House government lawyers, for example, is not normal and it suggest that
there is some interest in at least reviewing the handling of the firing of
Jim Comey, the White House delay in responding to the DOJ`s stated concerns
about whether Russians could blackmail Michael Flynn and any potential
obstruction issues relating to that cover story hatched for Donald Trump
Junior about his meetings with Russians at Trump Tower.
I want to bring in Joyce Vance, a former Federal Prosecutor and back with
me Ron Klain. Joyce, you heard me do my disclaimers and that`s to be fair.
But certainly the inclusion let`s start of the White House Counsel and
Deputy is fascinating because he has potential arguments for both lawyer-
client privilege and executive privilege. But Bob Mueller still thinks
there`s something to talk about.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It is really interesting. Courts
have ruled that the White House counsel doesn`t have an attorney-Clint
relationship with the President or other White House staffers. I think Bob
Mueller is on firm ground here. He`ll have the opportunity whether it has
to be litigated first or not to interview the White House Counsel and his
Deputy. Both of whom are identified by the New York Times as being on his
list. And they, of course, were present for this dramatic meeting where
Sally Yates, then the Acting Attorney General of the United States came
over from the justice building to visit with the White House Counsel. In
and of itself a rather unusual meeting to let them know that there were
problems with then-National Security Director Michael Flynn and his
contacts with Russians. So I think it`s predictable that Mueller will
focus in on those conversations. Interesting that he`s there already, Ari.
MELBER: Right, and as you know in legal circles, that`s the kind of
meeting that isn`t just a meeting because it forces the hands of the people
getting the warning. If Sally Yates comes over and says this rises to this
level, that`s not a personnel opinion like, hey, I don`t think this person
is doing a good job. It`s a – has some legal component which she
explained in her public testimony. So that`s the Flynn Piece.
I want to ask you and then bring in Ron about the Comey piece because
McGahn may have been doing a good job – we don`t know as White House
Counsel – in trying to stop Donald Trump from doing what he thought was
potentially a legally dangerous thing, reading again from the report. Mr.
McGahn gave Miller, Stephen Miller a marked up copy of this first draft
letter about firing Comey highlighting several sections he believed needed
to be removed. Joyce, in his roles as White House Counsel, again, I don`t
imagine that that has to do with word choice. These are poetic decisions,
right? He thought there was something really wrong with that letter.
VANCE: That`s really the only conclusion you can draw from his effort to
keep the President from sending this letter. We know that the President
was concerned about the ongoing investigation into Flynn. And it`s very
important to note the timing here. If the President had wanted to fire Jim
Comey over the way he engaged in the Clinton investigation, you would have
expected him to rip that band aid off right at the top of the
administration, not continue to court (INAUDIBLE) with public applause,
fireside dinners, private Oval Office meetings.
And so, the fact that he waited some period of time and then fired Comey
while the OIG, the DOJ Office of Inspector General investigation into
Comey`s conduct was still ongoing. The point of that being that if the
President waited until that investigation had concluded to then fire Comey,
he would have had some cover. But the fact that they launched this letter
in the middle of those two events and the White House Counsel was concerned
about its content makes you wonder if there wasn`t something about the
Russia investigation in the lines of that letter.
MELBER: Right. And Ron, speaking of someone who has been in this White
House conversations, walk us through that personnel part because the
President doesn`t have tremendous authority to decide who to keep and who
to fire. Trump officials are right about that as far as that goes. You
can basically fire someone for no reason but not for an illegal reason.
KLAIN: That`s right, Ari. I think you have the right point here.
Obviously, the President has broad authority to dismiss federal officials
even the head of the FBI who does have a term of years but can be
dismissed. But he can`t do it for an illegal reason. And if he fired Jim
Comey to obstruct the investigation of the Russian controversies around the
2016 campaign, that would be an illegal reason for firing him. And what`s
happening today with these six White House staffers being subject to
interviews is just the start of what`s going to be pardoned upon here, you
know, rising water in the west wing.
Because these six people will say, well, you have to know these other three
or four people were involved. And those three or four people say, well,
these other three or four people were involved. And so before this was
over, the list is going to be much larger than six and the questions are
really going to go at what the President knew, what the President was
involved and what he was doing when he drafted that statement on Air Force
One that lied about Donald Trump Junior`s meeting at Trump Tower. There`s
a lot of fodder here for Bob Mueller and his team.
MELBER: Right. And you don`t start an investigation at the top of the org
chart. You start at the bottom. I mean, no disrespect to Mr. Josh Raffel
if we put the pictures back up. Our viewers here at MSNBC follow politics
closely. They know a lot of these names. They don`t probably know Mr.
Raffel because he`s not a key White House figure. And so, it`s very
unlikely that he`s been brought in as the end of the line. He`s being
brought in at the beginning the line and you have to work your way up at
least in traditional investigation. So it is fascinating to get some of
these first clues. It`s a big story, I expect we`ll be covering it more
next week when we have more time. Joyce Vance and Ron Klain, thank you,
KLAIN: Thank you.
MELBER: Up next, back to the top story today. We`re going to look in
South Florida. People bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m kind of getting anxious right now since because I
can`t get out. I have a family to go back to so I`m just really worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Our coverage continues. Hurricane Irma continuing to barrel
towards Florida in what could be one of the most devastating storms the
United States has ever seen hit land. I want to go back to NBC`s Bill
Karins. Bill, you walked us through it with precise detail, the timeline
earlier in the hour. What do you have for us now?
BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: I`m very concerned with our friends
in Cuba. That`s been the million-dollar question, how bad will the storm
be in Cuba? I want to show you, this is the visible satellite imagery. It
goes black as the sun set, but look at the eye, really close up closing in
on the Cuba coastline. We can see in in an infrared imagery a little
better here. I mean, this is going to be raking the coastline of North
Cuba. We haven`t really talked much about the effects of the storm on
Cuba, but they could be just as devastating, especially if we continue this
westward drift here. Very scary and nervous times for the north coast of
Central Cuba and eventually all the way up there through the northern
So the hurricane center here is assuming the storm will not weaken that
much over Cuba. There`s still a chance it could. That could be one of the
saving graces for Florida. But we`re going to assume at this point that it
doesn`t weaken over Cuba and at the stage close to the warm water. That
leads us to two things that are going to cause the most damage, the storm
surge, that will cause billions of dollars of damage, and then the winds,
which will cause billions upon billions of dollars of damage.
So the storm surge, the worst of it, the most – the greatest concern, the
Naples area, Captiva, Fort Myers, heading south toward as it heads towards
Alligator Alley and all the way down towards Everglade City. That`s 12
feet of storm surge possible. They don`t usually put the houses up higher
than that on the stilts. Those are the houses that could get water in
them, waves in them, and be washed out and destroyed and washed out into
the sea. That`s why it`s very important anyone throughout this coastal
area, listen to your emergency managers. If they`re telling you to get
out, you only have about 24 hours.
And now I made this graphic to kind of help every one time the worst of the
winds. This will tell you when the damage will begin in your city or in
the area of your interest. As we go through 8:00 a.m. Saturday winds at 50
in Key Largo or 40. This will not knock power out in the Keys. They`re
pretty storm hardy down here in the Keys But as we go through the day on
Saturday 8:00 p.m., the winds in Marathon starts to kick up to 80 miles per
hour, Key Largo, 74. These are hurricane gusts. That`s when we could
start to get some power outages and some downed trees.
Notice, not too bad during the daylight hours nearly evening through
Central Florida but watch what happens when we wake up Sunday morning.
Miami starting to gust near Hurricane, Key Largo, 180, look at Marathon,
127, Key West 127. That`s the heart of the storm. And during the day on
Sunday, we get that possible second landfall up here around Marco Island
towards Fort Myers. I mean, that`s my concern. You go through the eye,
130-mile-per-hour winds potentially, maybe even gusts higher than that.
That`s the – you know, that`s the scary part of this storm, Ari. A lot of
people are going to lose power. We`re going to have tons and you know,
thousands upon thousands of damaged roofs. But as far as the destruction
goes, you don`t want to be near that eye.
MELBER: Thank you very much, Bill Karins. We`ll be back with you again in
our coverage. NBC`s Kerry Sanders is out in Miami Beach live. Kerry?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there`s a little bit of
activity here, but mostly this is a deserted area. Folks who know would
(INAUDIBLE). This is really quite a view to see it quite empty as it is.
The hotels have been closed. A lot of people really are from other parts
of the world. I met people today who are from Belgium, from Germany, one
couple that`s here on their honeymoon. They were told by the hotels they
needed to get out. Some of them actually took Ubers over to the evacuation
centers. And that`s where there`s a problem. We have such a large
evacuation under way of people who have decided to go to shelters that it
turns out there are more people than there was space in the shelters.
At some point today, a list of other shelters that were going to open
leaked out, went on the internet, people started lying up. Those other
locations, the lines got so long there that not everybody could get in
there. A lot of frustration and a lot of concern, especially for folks
who`ve never actually been through a hurricane. The lines and the problems
look like they`re being worked out. The 40 shelters in Miami-Dade County
look like they will be able to accommodate. It`s estimated that there`s
anywhere between 100,000 to maybe 500,000 people who will be looking for
some sort of emergency shelter. That is unprecedented. This is like
writing the book, or the new book, on how to handle a hurricane. At the
same time, sheltering in place is not just something for humans.
One of the big questions people often have is whether they can take their
animals and their pets to shelters. Yes, they can, but at Zoo Miami, which
was leveled during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, today they were moving the
flamingos. Those flamingos are being placed in a spot which will hopefully
be safe. It was built after Hurricane Andrew and was built to a new
TAPPER: We`ve seen a lot of different images, a lot of them harrowing now
on a little different but all of it makes you think just about the
tremendous threats that are out there to people, to animals, to the
infrastructure, to the roads, the buildings. It`s just – it`s just a lot
to take in. Kerry Sanders, thanks for your reporting. Please stay safe.
Hurricane Irma is already devastating in the Caribbean as we`ve been
reporting deaths there. We`re going to go live to the Bahamas next
MELBER: We are back with our Hurricane Irma coverage here in Manhattan.
NBC`s Rehema Ellis though is live in the Bahamas. Rehema what can you tell
REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you that the wind is
kicking up as Irma is making her way up here into the Nassau area. She
already touched ground in the Southern Bahamas. And authorities say that
it`s so devastating there that people who were evacuated may not have much
of anything to come back to. Here in Nassau, where I am, they`re really
concerned about tropical storm force winds and a storm surge they say that
could be up to 20 feet. That`s the height of a two-story building which
they say if that happens, it could be life threatening. The airports are
closed, and that`s what made it impossible for a couple we spoke to from
Wisconsin who came here. They wanted to get out but couldn`t. So they`re
holding on to each other to ride through the storm. Ari?
MELBER: Rehema Ellis in the Bahamas. Thank you and stay safe. And thank
you for watching our coverage tonight. We`ll be back here on THE BEAT 6:00
p.m. Eastern on Monday but our Hurricane Irma coverage continues.
“HARDBALL” starts now.
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