Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

FEMA Chief Said 16 U.S. Ships Involved in Puerto Rico Response; Trump said, "I Wasn't Preoccupied with the NFL"; Parents of Otto Warmbier Says North Korea "Destroyed" Our Son. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 26, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] ELAINE DUKE, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: -- the governor has control of the state. We are supporting the governor. He has national guard troops. We have DoD working with us in terms of supporting the governor and recovery. Like I said, we are adding additional convoys to do distribution into the more remote areas of the island and we feel confident that will stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

DUKE: Not to my knowledge. We have heard nothing from the governor that he plans to declare martial law.

BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: So, on the security too, it's about correctly allocating the resources that you have currently on the island. So, for security purposes, the National Guard that has been there, for a very long time and activated, is providing security forces. What we're bringing in his it's going to bolster everything on top of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Compared to hurricane Katrina like the devastation. Is it as bad or even worse? (INAUDIBLE) How is that seen on the ground?

DUKE: And every hurricane is unique. One of the difficulties in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico is the total, because there are these smaller islands, the total devastation. In the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, we had zero power. And it's going to take a long time to restore the power grid. And we don't have the adjacent areas from which to deploy like we did in Katrina. But I'll tell you one thing that's working is the forward leaning-ness of the President in declaring the disaster declaration very early. And the governor and asking for help and FEMA being on the ground. So, I think it is a very different response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the administration going to ask Congress for initial supplemental (INAUDIBLE)?

DUKE: We do not have a dollar figure. We are working with Congress on estimates of the needs. And we do believe we will need additional, beyond the October 1 increment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) returning from electricity?

LONG: Let me tell you what we've taken action on to this point. Puerto Rico has power an authority on the island. Obviously, I spoke to the diminished capacity to be able to get that back. Because you've got to remember, when I say diminished capacity the power workers, the first responders, are also disaster survivors at this point. They may have lost everything. So, we recognize that. So, what we've done is we pro-actively asked, the mission assign the Army Corps of Engineers to basically take oversight and management of not only the emergency power restoration but also the initial part of rebuilding the entire grid. The entire rebuild of the grid, that's a long process. If we do it, we have to do it right. Because we don't want to wind up having the same discussion 10, 20 or 30years from now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, the army corps of engineers are working --

LONG: They are on the island, yes. They are on the island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

DUKE: We're focused really on the response and recovery. And that's what we're doing and DHS and FEMA. But I think that what we have learned is not losing any time. On both Harvey and this hurricane Maria, the President declared the disaster before the eye hit landfall. That is absolutely critical to allowing us to come in in support of the governor before the disaster really hits. To me, that has been a game changer.

LONG: Yes, I think the last 35 days or so have been a gut check for Americans, that we do not have a true culture of preparedness in this country. And we have a lot of work to do, whether it is in education and being ready. It is not just saying, hey, have three days of supplies ready to go. It's greater than that. It's also having the finances and the savings to be able to overcome simple emergencies. We have to hit the reset button and create a true culture of preparedness starting at a young age and filtering all the way up.

DUKE: One last question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

DUKE: Puerto Rico was in debt before the disaster hit. I think as the administrator Long said earlier, the President has provided for a hundred percent reimbursement of all the major response efforts by the federal government for the first 180 days. And so, that will get us to a point we can reassess. Thank you all.

LONG: Thank you folks.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. FEMA administrator and FEMA folks just talking about the dire need and how the U.S. is really coming to the aid of Puerto Rico. A dire situation there. We're talking about the airport, the long lines.

[15:35:00] Only a few flights every day. And so, U.S. military coming to the aid of Puerto Rico there. And you heard the President earlier today speaking, saying he will be going to Puerto Rico and also, he hopes to go to the U.S. Virgin Islands next Tuesday. Coming up next -- speaking of the President -- he also today speaking

from the Rose Garden slammed the NFL again arguing with his war with protesting athletes. Those taking a knee is more than a mere distraction from big agenda issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed at what was taking place. Because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national ahem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed at what was taking place. Because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national ahem. To me the NFL situation is a very important situation. I've heard that before about was I preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all

I have plenty of time on my hands. All do I is work. And to be honest with you, that is an important function of working. It is called respect for our country.

I think it's a very important for the NFL to not allow people to kneel during the plane of our national anthem. To respect our country and to respect our flag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was the president just moments ago. Once again, going after the NFL and specifically the players who have been taking a knee. With me now, Drew Rosenhaus, one of the most prominent sports agents in the biz, who has negotiated more than $2 billion in NFL contracts. Good to see you again. And Chris Draft, he played 12 years in the NFL. So, gentlemen, thank you for being with me and Chris Draft, just to you first. You heard the President saying a while ago, no, I'll not preoccupied. Yes, I still find it disgraceful. Do you think the President is at all winning this cultural war?

CHRIS DRAFT, FORMER PLAYER WHO SPENT 12 YEARS IN THE NFL: I don't think he is. But I think the key is to not focus on the protests but focus on the cause. I think it is clear that he called out our players and saying they were sobs. And when I see that I say, you know, he could have called anybody that. When the players are taking a knee, or doing their protest, I mean, that's not just standing up and protesting just to protest. That's sending a message that's unacceptable. And not because it's offensive to an NFL player but it really should be offensive to Americans in general. BALDWIN: Sure, no, that's not the right language. I think any sort

of someone in that office should be using. That said, you think about the owners.

[15:40:00] You think about the money they put in then candidate Trump's pocket during the campaign. Drew, do you think the president thinks the owners will listen to him?

DREW ROSENHAUS, SPORTS AGENT: They shouldn't. What's more important is they support the players on their team. The players have put them that a position to be owners. The players are the ones who make the National Football League, not the owners. Anybody with enough money can own a team. It is the players they make the game what it is today. And they're the ones who deserve more respect.

For this president to come out and generally call players, who protest, sobs is completely unacceptable. Especially when he didn't use the characterization for white supremacists or neo-Nazis. That's sickening to me. That's scary. And on top of that, not a single player has ever uttered anything negative about the national anthem, the flag or the United States of America. What they're upset about, Chris alluded to, are social injustices that's take place every day and inequalities. This is what America is about, expressing those concerns.

BALDWIN: I think everyone is on the same page about language. But what if you took it this way? Chris, what if the President hadn't used that kind of language? That kind of vulgar language. Would you be OK with the President speaking out on this?

DRAFT: Well, I's be OK with him speaking out on somebody kneeling. Again, there's a reason for them doing it. And so, I would still want to know why somebody's doing it. I think what's great as an NFL player that you can still be seen. You know, I think you probably know, Brooke, I've been on this show before and I talked about losing my wife to lung cancer in 2011. And one of things I knew was because I was an NFL player, I could be heard. And there are so many survivors. There were so many people who felt like they were not being heard. And that's were in this case the NFL guys, they're not standing up just because of the NFL. They're not just standing up because they play in the NFL. These are men that are part of America. That when they stand up they're saying there's something wrong. Just like in football, when we do something wrong, people demand that we fix it. That was wrong. Let's fix it.

BALDWIN: Do you think it's possible that the President in speaking out, it almost back fired on him because it has really unified the spot -- Drew last question. And how do you think it has changed the NFL moving forward?

ROSENHAUS: It's absolutely back fired on him. He made it so much more controversial, or negative than it needed to be. He also said, guys should be fired. How insensitive is that? He has no idea what goes into making an NFL team, being an NFL player, the sacrifices. He's got bigger things to do than worry about the National Football League and the NFL players. He should focus more on the injustices and the problems that's this country has, than criticizing NFL players who are trying to make this country better and calling them out. That's a disgrace. That's not what you expect from the leader of this fine country.

BALDWIN: Drew and Chris, thank you both so much and an extra thank you for the patience in waiting in the wings. A lot of live moving parts today, gentlemen. I really truly appreciate both of you.

And just a quick clarification on something. Yesterday on this show it was reported that all players started coming out stand for the national anthem in 2009 as a result of an advertising deal between the league and the military. The NFL says that's not true. The traditional players coming out for the anthem did start in 2009. But it was not tied to any financial agreement.

Coming up next, a really special live interview, the parents of Otto Warmbier. Their son was held captive in North Korea for more than a year and died days after being sent home with severe brain damage. We'll get their reaction to the president's comments. And their message to him about the brutal North Korean regime. Please don't miss this.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: President Trump speaking today speaking from the Rose Garden. Speaking out on North Korea as the standoff continues. But I want to get now to a very special interview. Because with me now, I have to Ohio parents now revealing just how much that brutal regime has taken from them. They are the mother and father of Otto Warmbier. The college student on scholarship at the University of Virginia who passed away three months ago. He was just 22 years old and lost his life mere days after returning home from 17 months of detention in North Korea.

Warmbier had gone there as part of a travel group. But at the Pyongyang airport, he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing some sort of political poster. When North Korea released Otto Warmbier, he was severely brain danged. What doctors described as quote, unresponsive wakefulness. And so, Fred and Cindy Warmbier our good enough to swing by CNN to speak with me today. And so, first just my heartfelt condolences to both of you of someone who you never, ever, ever, ever, ever, should have lost in the first place. And so, just thank you so much and I am just so sorry. I have a lot. But just beginning with -- you haven't spoken publicly really until today. And just, either of you, why are you breaking your silence? What do you want people to know?

FRED WARMBIER, SON OTTO DIED DAYS AFTER RELEASE FROM NORTH KOREAN DETENTION: Well, for starters, Brooke, Cindy and I knew the day we met Otto at the airport, that we were going to share our experience. The horribleness of what North Korea did to him was so devastating to our family that we experienced a shock that I had never experience in the my life. As a family, we needed to come together and process this as best we could. And over the last three months, we've started the grief process. My kids, Austin and Gretta, are amazing. Now we see North Korea with the tensions claiming to be a victim. And

they're claiming that the world is picking on them. And we're here to tell you, as witnesses to the terror of their regime, North Korea is not a victim. So, we felt it was time to tell the truth about the condition that Otto was in.

BALDWIN: Let's start there. Mrs. Warmbier, if you don't mind, tell me about the day.

CINDY WARMBIER, SON OTTO DIED DAYS AFTER RELEASE FROM NORTH KOREAN DETENTION: Sure. Well, in the morning, of the day that he was going to be medivacked home, Senator Portman called us to tell us, we weren't sure that North Korea was going to release him even though we knew he was in a coma. And that he had been in a coma pretty much shortly after his trial. And so, he was out of their air space. So, he, Senator Portman said he'll be home tonight. And I said to him, can you tell me how Otto, how his brain is functioning? I was, we're really optimistic people. We were just still hopeful that we would get Otto back and he could be like with good American health care, he could improve and be OK. And Senator Portman said, it was severe brain damage.

So still not knowing what that entailed, we went to the airport and waited. And we were kept away from all the press.

[15:50:00] We weren't sure what was going on. But we knew that the press wasn't going to be involved. Because this was our private time with Otto. So, I'm going to let Fred start, but we were at a little private hangar and tarmac, and the plane landed and --

FRED WARMBIER: Using the term coma, for Otto's condition is completely unfair. Otto had severe brain damage. Otto was systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim Jong, Kim and his regime. And this was no accident. They intentionally injured Otto. I'll tell you what it was like when we met Otto at the airport. We were in a waiting room in the plane comes in, comes near to where we are. The medical team agrees they'll go out and meet Otto first. And then they come down five or seven minutes later and it's time for the family to go up and meet him.

So, we walked out to the plane. The engines are whining. It's my self, Cindy, Austin, and Greta. We climb the stairs to meet with Otto. Halfway up the stairs we hear this loud guttural howling inhumane sound. We don't know what it is. We continue up the steps. We get to the top of the steps and we look across in the airplane and Otto is laying on the stretcher. He's strapped to the stretcher. And he's moving around and jerking violently making these howling, inhumane sound. Greta and Cindy go back -- leave, go down the steps. It's too much for them to handle.

Austin and I walk over to Otto. And he's in this condition. He has a shaved head. His eyes are darting around. They are as big as saucers. He's blind. He's deaf. He's got a feeding tube. And we kneel down and we hug him and try to connect with him. And he's a complete vegetable. And his bottom teeth looked like they had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged them. And, so, there was no comforting Otto. This was horrible. And this noise kept -- he kept doing this.

CINDY WARMBIER: We weren't prepared for this at all. No one --

BALDWIN: How could you be?

CINDY WARMBIER: -- no one had any idea going in there what we were going to see. His hands and legs were --

FRED WARMBIER: Totally deformed.

CINDY WARMBIER: And he was --

FRED WARMBIER: You want to say, this was not our son. This is our son. We are proud of him. But this was our son. And this was the condition that Kim and his regime intentionally put him in.

BALDWIN: How -- I'm listening to you and I'm trying to -- how did he die? How did he die specifically?

FRED WARMBIER: Who knows.

BALDWIN: Has it been explained to you?

FRED WARMBIER: Well, oh, sure, two days after Otto came home, his fever spiked to over 104 degrees. Otto had this huge scar on his right foot. He was on his death bed when he came home to us. This was not a pleasant sight. This was a horrible --

CINDY WARMBIER: That's why they released him. They didn't want him to die on their soil.

BALDWIN: How has it been explained to you what North Korea did? When you say torture, what did they do? Do you know?

FRED WARMBIER: No. North Korea doesn't even acknowledge -- they considered it a humanitarian gesture sending Otto home. His teeth looked like they had been rearranged with a pair of pliers. You can only look at the evidence. A perfectly healthy young American visiting there, an innocent young American, comes home with severe brain damage. But it's not like it happened and they shipped him home immediately. It's a year later. These people are terrorists. Kim and his regime intentionally injured Otto.

BALDWIN: Help me understand, because looking at the doctors, they said, you know, he suffered extensive loss of brain tissue.

[15:55:00] Consistent with cardiopulmonary arrest. Was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. Didn't know what caused his brain damage. They say he didn't show any obvious indications of trauma or evidence of either acute or healing fractures. Why opt out of an autopsy?

CINDY WARMBIER: That's a really good question.

FRED WARMBIER: Absolutely. Otto and our family have been through enough, enough. Otto was abandoned by his family, his country, and the rest of the world. He was kidnapped in North Korea. He was isolated from his family and the world. He was paraded in front of their -- he was humiliated. Our family and Otto were humiliated by North Koreans. And ultimately when Kim made the decision Otto was tortured and murdered. Enough. Enough. Otto is at peace. And it's about time.

CINDY WARMBIER: I wasn't going to let him out of my sight. And I didn't. And she did a visual, our corner did a visual, and she's the one who brought up the huge scar on his foot.

BALDWIN: What happened to his foot?

CINDY WARMBIER: We don't know.

BALDWIN: You have no idea.

CINDY WARMBIER: It covered the entire top of his foot. How do you get a scar that covers the entire top of your foot? It looked like -- she said it had to be open wound for months and months and months.

BALDWIN: What has the U.S. government said to you?

FRED WARMBIER: We don't engage with them at this level. And it's not that we can't, we don't need to ask them what condition or what happened to Otto.

BALDWIN: In general, I mean obviously you want this, what any information has the government given to you?

FRED WARMBIER: None. None. None. But we don't need it. And we're not here to bad mouth the Obama administration, the State Department, any of them. This is solely the responsibility of the Kim regime. Kim and his regime.

CINDY WARMBIER: And nobody should go there, ever. Nobody needs to go there. It was legal. He went with a tour group. Nobody needs to go there. You know, the Wall Street journal just went there. They show you what you want to see. So why are we playing into this? Why do we play into this at all anymore? I mean, I don't want to see anyone else hurt or taken.

BALDWIN: That's also why you are speaking out?

CINDY WARMBIER: Oh, Yes.

BALDWIN: How are you feeling?

CINDY WARMBIER: I'm feeling like I'm getting stronger all the time. Every day I think of Otto. I mean, almost every minute of every day I think of Otto. He's always going to be with me. It's a wonderful memory. And I don't want to remember Otto in North Korea or in the hospital. I have enough fantastic memories of the 21 years we had together.

BALDWIN: Can we end on that? Can I in my last two minutes.

CINDY WARMBIER: Oh, sure. FRED WARMBIER: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Tell me about Otto. What do you think about in your bones about your son?

FRED WARMBIER: He was a good boy. He was all boy. So, again, you have to remind yourself that he wasn't perfect. And that he would call you up and talk, and then you realize he's scamming you because he wants to borrow money. So, he was all boy. But he was loving and kind. And we had fun together. And we were older when we had kids. We wanted to be a part of our kids' lives. We're currently a part of our other kids lives. So, we have no regrets. I can honestly say that. And I would point out when Otto was kidnapped our family got together and we had to make a decision how we were going to move forward with this new situation. And we also had to do it again, by the way, when Otto was sent home and ultimately passed away and we buried him. We had to make a decision how we are going to move forward. And we said, Otto's death and circumstances are not an excuse to fail. And then at the reverse were true, and Cindy and I were killed, we would need Otto to carry on, to be a positive person, and to do the absolute best that he could in life. And that's what we are charged with as well. And we are proud. We are proud people.

BALDWIN: Proud people, proud parents. I have 20 seconds left just finally to hear from mother's voice about her son.

CINDY WARMBIER: Sure. I have so many great stories but I'll share just one. Fred and I think for our 25th wedding anniversary, we went to Glacial National Park and Otto was in charge of the other two younger kids and he wanted to give them a special day. So, he took them to a gorge -- hiking at a gorge just on a day trip. And brought them back and he surprise them. And he told us he was going to do it. But --