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CNN TONIGHT

Trump On Tax Plan; Homeland Secretary, Puerto Rico A Good News Story; CNN Exclusive. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: I think everyone hopes that. Everyone can use a little respite from bad times. Thank you all. I appreciate it. This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon, thank you so much for watching it is a little bit pass, and it's actually 11:00 here on the east coast. We're live with breaking news on big stories for you tonight. CNN learning that a social media campaign calling itself black activist and linked to the Russian government used Facebook and twitter in an attempt to stoke racial tensions during the election. More on that in just a moment. Plus, I need to tell you that -- talk about Puerto Rico. With half of Puerto Rico without clean drinking water and almost all of the island without power, homeland security secretary Elaine Duke, she calls the situation a good news story and says she is very satisfied with the government's response. Anybody else think that sounds a lot like heck of a job, brownie? Let's talk about his, let's go right do our CNN exclusive.

A twitter and Facebook account disguised to look like they were run by the same black activist were actually the work of Russians. The accounts are part of the material being handed over to congress in its investigation into the Russian meddling in the Presidential election in 2016. The accounts, both called black activist posted videos of police brutality against African-Americans and wrote about injustice to blacks. Let us take a look at its Facebook page, it says, watch another savage video of police brutality. We live under a system of racism and police are directly letting us know how they feel and where they stand. Our senior reporter for media and politics is Dylan Byers and he joins me right now. Along with CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem and Senior Political Commentator David Swerdlick, also Mark Jacobson of Georgetown University. Thank you all for joining us. Mark and Dylan, welcome back to the show. Dylan, these posts were all designed by the Russians to amplify racial tensions here in the U.S.

DYLAN BYERS, SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS, CNN: Yes. That is absolutely right, Don. It gives you an idea what the Russian strategy was, and also how well the Russians understood the sort of political and cultural flashpoints for us. I want to bring up something about the Russian motivation here that is significant, and something that many of your -- the experts you had on in the past hour alluded to, which is this. This is so much bigger than the 2016 campaign, although it certainly may have had ramifications for 2016 campaign. What this is really about is a Russian strategy, they've used it in other countries, to drive a wedge between Americans. To basically amplify the political discord that already exists in this country and to create an atmosphere of chaos. It helps them in that regard perhaps that Donald Trump is President. But it wouldn't be all that much different if Hillary Clinton were President, so long as Americans feel pitted against each other, so many public opinion polls would suggest that is the case. The Russians are winning in their mind. And that is really what this campaign was geared towards. When you look specifically at an account like this black activist account on Facebook and twitter, you understand how they believed they could achieve this goal.

LEMON: How influential was this group? And the following, how big is the following?

BYERS: We looked at the Facebook page. They had -- more than 360,000 likes. You look at the official verified black lives matter Facebook page, it has about 300,000.

LEMON: Explain why you say this black activist account is an example of war being waged by Russia on two fronts.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So when we look back to 2016, there was two fronts that Russia is waging. One is the first that Dylan just described, which is the sort of social, cultural disruption that they knew was catering to a lot of divisions within our own society. The second is, of course, the one that is being investigated by Robert Mueller, which is, was there direct or complicity between the Trump campaign and Russians about helping a particular individual win. They come to the same question looking forward as Dylan was saying, which is, is Facebook and twitter enabling Russia in the future by failing to do anything about this? And is Trump enabling Russia in future elections by denying that it happened? So in some ways, everyone pretending like it wasn't my problem is just sort of laying the ground work for Russia to do it again. So I'm also like Dylan worried about the future as much as it is about 2016.

LEMON: You're saying Facebook is culpable here. Mark, the Russians are exploiting our divisions. You say you knew this was bigger than the election and it happened before. Explain what you have found.

[23:05:00] MARK JACOBSON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I keep thinking, listening to both Dylan and Juliette that passes prologue. The soviets were very capable at sewing division or exacerbating the racial tensions that already existed in the United States, especially in the 1960s. They tried to fan the flames of a peaceful African-American protest movements. They tried to sow propaganda that argued Martin Luther King was an uncle tom. The Russians also did an effective job convincing the world that aids and HIV were a CIA plot. We still see echoes of that today. When I see past is prologue, let's look at the bigger picture. As Juliette said, this is just fighting on two fronts. It's also one part of a larger campaign designed to weaken the United States. So if we are focused internally and because of our divisions there's paralysis on the domestic front then that is to Putin's advantage and the rest of the world. We can't focus on the transatlantic relationship, we don't have time to deal with things in the Middle East and the complexities of the problems in Asia. That is exactly what Vladimir Putin would like to see.

LEMON: I was going to ask you to what end, but he wants to weaken us and put our attention elsewhere. David, this CNN exclusive reporting comes on a day when representatives were on Capitol Hill and it didn't go too well, did it?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it didn't. I think congress wanted to put some of the pressure on twitter and by extension on Facebook to try and get them to be more vigilant with their own internal processes, so that we are not in the future as vulnerable to this. But look, I think everybody has said, and first of all, it's great reporting by Dylan and great context by Mark and Juliette. This is not a situation where there's one group to blame or one company to blame. You have Russia making this concerted effort to sow discord in our country, not just in the election cycle but in general.

This is a time for Americans to look at this more broadly. If I can be an optimist for one second, Don, even though this is serious business and I don't want people watching to think this is being naive. This is where we are when you live in a free society. Juliette has written about this in her book. When you don't have censorship, when people are allowed to express themselves, when they are allowed to be on Twitter and media that they want, you're also vulnerable to this kind of manipulation. What we as a society have to do is figure out how to balance our freedoms with being vigilant to the fact that clearly, from the reporting, from Dylan's reporting, the reporting of "the Washington Post" and "The New York Times," that we are under attack.

LEMON: And become more media literate. But how do you do that? Dylan, you said today that you couldn't tell how much Facebook and twitter disclosed about Russian linked accounts. How much more will we see?

BYERS: You know Don, Senator Mark Warner said this is the tip of the iceberg. My view is this is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. The reason I say that is this -- congress put pressure on Facebook to come forward with what it knew about Russian meddling through ad buying on its platforming. Facebook went and they looked at any ties they could find to the firm that is tied to the Kremlin in Russia. So they got the low hanging fruit. It was anything that they could get ahold of that was obviously connected to that group. So they're looking at Russian IP addresses, Russian credit cards. Twitter comes in, twitter search is limited to accounts that it knows about, based off of the accounts that Facebook has already found. That is an even more limited number of accounts.

Anything more sophisticated than that, an ad buy that used another currency, an IP address from another country. Anything that even took the most basic steps to try and hide what it was doing, may not have been found by Facebook or twitter. That is one of the reasons that congress, the senate and House Intelligence Committees, want and will have a public hearing with these companies on November 1. They need more information and they need the public to know that they're trying to find more information, that they need that information in order to prevent this from happening in the future.

LEMON: Fascinating conversation. Thank you all. I appreciate it. When we come back, we'll dig deeper in the story and how Russian trolls are exploiting an American weak spot. Plus the senator slamming a white supremacist on twitter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:13:12] LEMON: Back here with our breaking news a CNN exclusive, a fake black activist accounts on social media intended to amplify racial tensions during the election linked to the Russian government. Let's discuss now. CNN Political Commentator Angela Rye, a former executive director of Congressional Black Caucus, ben Ferguson host of the Ben Ferguson Show, Van Jones President of Dream Core and Republican Strategist Alice Stewart. Good evening to all of you, welcome to the show. Angela, I want to start with you. You heard the reporting from Dylan, Russian trolls posing as black activists on Facebook and twitter. Is it surprising to you?

ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: It's not surprising. At this point, nothing about this election or how it happened or any of the fallout is surprising. I think the one thing that we can point to is we've all been trolled on twitter and folks continue to say things like, don't respond, it's a bot or whatever. So we know these accounts exist. I think the most surprising part of it is it's still tied to the Kremlin. That is just odd.

LEMON: Van, it's important to keep in mind that these Russian trolls are exploiting a very real weak spot in America. Look at Charlottesville. Look at the angry around the country. The FBI announcing today that they are investigating over a thousand incidents of suspected white supremacists or domestic terror according to "The Washington Post." do you think President Trump will acknowledge that he can play a role in bridging our country together instead of pushing it apart?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that Trump is likely to do that any time soon. I do think that this is one of the reasons that when they criticize the young people who are protesting black lives matter et cetera and say you guys are doing something wrong. No, the reality is you have a movement of young people, very intelligent, very smart, policy smart, some of them have elected people to office, saying we have a real problem here. And if we don't deal with it, it's going to get worse and our enemies will be able to use it against us. Who are the real patriots? Are these young people who are out here trying to make America better, lifting up some of these issues, begging for real progress who want liberty and justice for all, can we now call them patriots? Because what you're seeing happening right now is, because of our inability to deal with this issue, our enemies are now taking advantage.

[23:15:30] LEMON: Listen, Ben Sass, Nebraska Senator, really upset, got into a fight over this issue with prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer on twitter, Sass share a news story on the Russian trolls and saying this. He said, no one loves American versus America infighting more than Putin. His Intel agencies stoke both sides of every divide to which white nationalist Spencer replied, in the minds of Gruber conservatives, the Russians are to blame for racial divisions. Sass replied, let Gruber and non-Gruber agree on this, racist like you are to blame, but Putin's agencies also love using you as their divisive tool. Sass went on to call Spencer's ideas un- American, poison. Why can't President Trump talk this way about Russian meddling and white supremacy? Ben Ferguson that is for you.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'll say two things. One, I think the President certainly moving forward has to do a better job being very clear about these certain issues. And there's a lot of concerns that have challenged him on that to make sure he does. I think he understands how to talk bold and blunt, and there's a lot of people that want him to be a little more bold and blunt. But I also think that we have to be cautious not to take the bait and allow people that hide behind computer screens, whether they're white supremacists or Americans or Russians to divide us. A lot of what you're describing tonight is the cowards that hide every time all of us are on TV. All of us get it from people that say things to divide us, they vulgar and disgusting, wishing you were dead, wishing your parents would have aborted you, saying you're un-American every time you're on TV just because you're something or you're a racist. We all have to learn from this.

LEMON: People like Richard Spencer -- the guys who are down there -

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: But Don, Don, how many people come after you who hide behind a computer screen every single night? The same number of people that come after me when I come on your show. My point about Russia is, Russia sees there's a vulnerability here that they can manipulate a conversation in this country and hide behind a computer screen, the same way that white supremacist and neo-Nazis and other racists do things.

LEMON: Here's the difference. I don't really care. I don't read it. I know what it is. Pretty much most of the time.

FERGUSON: But it does have an impact on this country.

LEMON: It does. But you didn't let me finish my point. There are people who can't distinguish between it, especially when you have the leader of the free world who is promoting it. Take a look at this poll. 60 percent of people, this was a pew poll or Quinnipiac poll, 60 percent of the people believe the President is dividing the country, 35 percent say no. Let me get me thought out and you can answer. The reporting shows the Russians are trying to sow dissent and discord that is exactly what the President is doing.

FERGUSON: But Don, there's a lot of people that would look at what you're doing right now is the same thing.

RYE: How?

LEMON: By reading a poll? FERGUSON: Some people that are watching this right now. I'm saying

you love to have this grand debate, and some people would say that what you're doing right now every night when you pound the President and you demand that he talk a certain way, to be acceptable to you is dividing the country, because you're pounding this every day.

LEMON: I'm not demanding anybody be acceptable.

FERGUSON: You hit on him hard every day.

LEMON: We're reporting on him and he is not acting Presidential. What is wrong with reporting on that? What is wrong with reading a poll that is true? I'm speaking truth to power. He doesn't like that. You don't like it. You don't like the reality of the situation -

(CROSSTALK)

Hold on, Ben and then Alice. Quickly, Ben.

FERGUSON: Don, there are days when we have debates here where it's very clear that you have something that you don't like about Donald Trump and you are going to pound him on it, which you can't then say --

LEMON: Ben, that is not true. That is your -- that is your opinion. That is your opinion.

FERGUSON: Sure, it is my opinion.

LEMON: Because you are -- you have a certain point of view and certain perspective that you would like to get across. I don't have that.

{23:20:00] I'm just asking questions. I'm reading poll, I am reading information and facts about the President, because those facts are not favorable does not mean I don't like the President. So you're way out of line with that.

FERGUSON: How many -- how many times have you given him credit for anything since he is been President?

LEMON: I'm here every night. I'm here every single night for five nights a week, two hours. This is not about giving somebody --

FERGUSON: Right. How many times have you given him credit for doing something?

LEMON: It is not my job to give him credit. That is not what I do. I simply give the facts, without favor, and if he doesn't like them, if you don't like it, that is too bad. But those are the facts. The facts are the facts. So I'm sorry, that is how it is. Go ahead, Alice.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If I could say, with regard to the question you brought up about Russian bots and interference in the election. It is no surprise, and this is the way it's always been, that President Trump doesn't like to talk about Russian meddling in the election, because he views that as questioning the legitimacy of the outcome of this election.

LEMON: Be careful, because you're going to be seen as pounding the President, Alice, but go on.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The reality is he won the election. He didn't win the popular vote, but he won the election. I think that is something that sooner or later he will have to acknowledge. Here's the problem with that, whether he talks about Russian meddling or not, the fact remains, they did meddle in the election. We have just begun to scratch the surface on their infiltration with regard to Facebook and twitter. I commend Facebook for coming out and answering questions and providing information. Twitter acknowledges they have --

LEMON: Agree.

STEWART: Here's the problem. They are also protecting a lot of information out of privacy rights. Whose privacy, Russia's privacy? I think it's critical, while Facebook is doing everything they can to put information out there, I think we need to continue to put all of this out there. I don't care if they influence the outcome of the election, I care that they did have anything to do with our election in the first place. So I think it's really important that we get all this information out there with regard to how they're influencing our social media, how they're getting involved in our election, because we cannot let this happen in our next election.

LEMON: We'll continue this conversation right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:26:23] LEMON: Health and human services Secretary Tom Price says he'll cut a check to cover the cost of his seats on private planes, but that may not be enough to get him out of hot water. Back with me now, my panel. I want to ask you about this. CNN is reporting that HHS secretary Tom Price used military aircraft to fly privately on two long international trips, each with multiple stops. How bad does this look for the Trump administration? I know Ben is not going to be happy about this, Angela. What do you think?

RYE: First of all, I think that is what we call shade, Don. That is the second time tonight, Ben. I apologize on don's behalf. So I think that what is most drawing to me as a former Hill staffer, Tom Price spent several years in congress, so he wasn't taking any chartered jet flights, he was taking commercial flights. The only time that members of congress take flights that are chartered if they're going on congressional delegation trips. But it's not something that he should have been accustomed to, given the successful medical practice he had. Inquiring minds want to know. But nevertheless, I think it's a major distraction that this administration can't afford at this point, because it looks like, again, they're out of touch and they don't understand how to work within the confines of everyday American folks and how people live their lives.

LEMON: Van, he said he is going to pay it back. He is making a big show of reimbursing taxpayers, around $52,000. The only problem is the estimated cost for the travel could be worth over $1 million. Here's what he said about it, and then we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: By paying for my portions of these trips is a huge demonstration, it's never been done before. Unprecedented as I'm told.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Van, that is about 5.2 percent of the actual cost if it's a million dollars. I mean that is a great deal. What do you think about it? That is a small fraction.

JONES: I mean, it is unprecedented, he is correct, it's unprecedented to see this level of corruption and abuse just flagrant at this point. I cannot imagine during if Obama administration if it turned out that one of -- that one of the major cabinet officials had decided to just take it upon him or herself to spend $1 million flying themselves around the country. It would have been -- I mean, it would have been a massive, massive scandal. You would have had congress meeting around the clock. There would be hearings called, people would be demanding investigations. These crooks, how can they do this? You're going to jail, buddy. Lock him up. I hear none of that. That is part of the problem I think that we have right now, is that the standards have fallen through the floor from a party that was trying to hold Barack Obama to nearly super human standards that he frankly most of the time met.

So I think there's really no way at this point for the Trump administration to maintain this idea that they're this populist thing, they're on the side of the little people. There's not one little person in the Trump coalition or any coalition who would think spending $1 million when you could fly on Delta or Southwest is a good use of the American people's money.

LEMON: OK. The Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke got news coming out now that Zinke took a $12,000 charter flight in oil executive's plane. That is what the document showed. "The Washington Post" is reporting that. Ben?

FERGUSON: Look, first off, I think its Bush league to fly this much private when you're supposed to be serving the people of United States of America and you are supposed to be making sure that their tax dollars are protected. This was a really stupid move. I also think the million dollar estimate is ridiculous. I mean seeing what campaigns pay for private jets to charter them for months and multiple stops, flying all over the country, to say a couple of his trips add up to a million dollars, that is just --

LEMON: It was a military jet, internationally to Asia and Africa. FERGUSON: Again, go look at a G-5 or G-6 and see how much it costs to

fly anywhere in the world. It's not a million dollars. It's probably several hundred thousand dollars.

LEMON: Eight months, Ben.

FERGUSON: Let's not put out ridiculous numbers. How many trips was it?

LEMON: Ben, you're arguing about something that does not exist again.

FERGUSON: Don, don -- how many trips in eight months did he take?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don, I can see where it would add up to a million dollars over eight months.

Ben, is there nothing you won't make an excuse for. Hold on, Alice. Is there nothing -- because we challenged you on something? Is there nothing you will not make an excuse for? You're saying ok, they shouldn't be doing it.

FERGUSON: I asked a simple question that you haven't answered. How many trips was it? I asked you how many trips?

LEMON: Listen, it's dozens of flights, two internationally. Some of them on military jets. He is admitted it, and is telling you how much he is going to pay back. Yet you're still saying -

(CROSSTALK)

He is only paying back 5.2 percent of the money. I want that kind of loan.

STEWART: He is paying back for his seat, not for the charter.

FERGUSON: All I said was -

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go ahead, Alice.

STEWART: Don, never have me back, because I can never talk here. I'm teasing. We have to give the administration a little credit because they had called them out, they are holding him accountable. At the same time when an elected official says the taxpayers are not paying one dime, they are actually correct, they're not paying one dime, they are paying a lot more than that, and they're reimbursing the government because they got caught. I do think that it is a good thing, the president -- this was brought to the President's attention. He said I'm not happy about it, I'm going to do something about it, and he is doing something about it. We heard today from the press briefing that they are looking into it and making sure it doesn't happen again. I think that this is a good opportunity for the press to continue to put spotlight on this and hold the administration accountable.

LEMON: Alice, do you think he should be fired?

STEWART: No, I don't think he will. Because they are giving him the opportunity to pay this back. I think he is going to continue to do what he is been doing. He has been working hard, along with others to help try and get some health care reform passed on repealing and replacing Obamacare. I think he is doing the best he could do. But I don't think he is going anywhere.

ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: What about the golf courses, though? I know this is about his charter jets, but there's been a lot of money spent at these golf courses spent with Donald Trump being the person accountable. So he is wasting taxpayer dollars, too.

LEMON: Yeah. Is everyone in Trump's cabinet trying to keep up with the billionaires? There are a lot of billionaires, seriously, and these people, some of them, are paying for their own private travel. Some of them have their own jets. Are they trying to keep up with appearances?

FERGUSON: Some people are just stupid. I think some people are stupid and they see an opportunity to travel in a great way and when they get busted they get busted as they should.

LEMON: Don't join the government because you are a servant.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I will say, as a Jones, I don't think anybody is trying to keep up with me.

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: That is cute.

JONES: What I would say is that, I got a chance to serve in government for about six months, and what I saw in the Obama White House is 180 degrees different than what I'm seeing with the Trump White House. I want to remind people, Valerie Jarrett was a complete task master when it came to not only the letter of the law. Forget the letter of the law. The spirit, the optics. Any sense of impropriety at all. I mean people on the Obama staff walked the straightest line you could walk, and it got into the blood system, where people were self-policing each other, and nobody wanted to do anything that might embarrass the Obama administration. We knew we were under scrutiny.

I resigned because stuff I had done almost 15 years ago got in the press. I didn't want to bring any extra attention to the White House. There was a sense that this is the White House. This is the White House. You have to act above and beyond. Not just are you breaking the rules and can you get away with it? But what kind of image are you creating? That just seems to be gone. It seems to be whatever we can get away with. If it's legal, illegal, ethical, not ethical. As long as we don't get caught in the press, it's ok. And that starts at the top.

[23:35:28] LEMON: You're talking about one person here. JONES: No, I'm not.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Ok, you're talking about two people then. Let's not indict an entire administration with hundreds of people because of the action of two.

LEMON: It would be three including Scott Pruitt. And other people in the administration reportedly on some of those flights.

JONES: Ben, you're making my point for me. You are correct, there are undoubtedly a bunch of people in that building that go there every day that are doing a good job, but the reality is, those people are suffering too, because there is a sense that there's some green light someplace in that building, in that administration for all kinds of shenanigans and nonsense. So yes, you're correct, it's not fair to paint everybody with that brush. By my point is, once you have one, and then you have two, you've got to -- you run an organization yourself, Ben. That means you've got a culture now that you have to deal with.

LEMON: We're out of time.

FERGUSON: Here's the thing about the White House. It was clear the White House didn't put their arm around him and make it better for him. He is paying back the money which is sending a clear message to the White House.

JONES: He still has a job.

FERGUSON: Everybody else better cut it out.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: He gave back 5.2 percent of the money.

FERGUSON: I understand. I mean how many people do you want to get fired here?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: There's not a moratorium on people getting fired for doing the wrong thing. If you're doing the wrong thing, you should probably get fired.

FERGUSON: Out of curiosity when Michelle Obama took off two hours early to go to Chicago instead of waiting for the president and we paid for that flight, did anyone say she should get fired as first lady? Or set to pay it back on her own pocket, because that did happen.

LEMON: Hold on. Michelle Obama is not the first lady anymore. When we come back, the Trump administration's hurricane response. With half the people of Puerto Rico without clean water, almost everyone without power, more than 3 million Americans would probably disagree. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:16] LEMON: The Trump administration defending its efforts in hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, but millions of American citizens there are desperate for help tonight. CNN's correspondents are all over Puerto Rico covering it for us. I want to go to Senior Correspondent Ivan Watson, he is live for us in San Juan. Ivan, hello to you, President Trump is tweeting tonight on the crisis in Puerto Rico. One says, Puerto Rico is devastated, phone system, electric grid, many roads gone. FEMA and first responders are amazing. Governor said great job. Ivan, the President says food and water are being delivered. What's the reality there on the ground?

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I went to a community today that hasn't gotten any assistance at all, the locals say Don, from the outside world in more than a week now, since hurricane Maria. Part of this is complicated by the fact that the main bridge linking to that community was washed away in flash floods after the storm. Take a look at an excerpt and example of what we saw there on the ground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: The wire that they're hanging on to has been set up by residents of the town. This is their improvised method for trying to reach the outside world. We just spoke with a couple who had crossed this way and then walked two hours to the nearest supermarket to try to get bread and food and rice for their children, and then had to walk two hours back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: So what I saw were residents who haven't gotten any help. They have no telecommunications. They can't call 911 if there is an emergency. They have to ford a river and walk for hours to buy bread to feed their children. If they want fuel, to run their generators, they have to do that, and then stand in line for hours in gas stations. The community that I visited said that they had gotten a visit from some FEMA representative's right after the storm, but no help. And they've gotten a couple of visits from a municipal mayor, but again no help. They distributed food from their shattered school that was messed up by the storm to the community. We saw military helicopters fly several times overhead, but they never stopped in this town called San Lorenzo. So I didn't see any help whatsoever going to these Americans in that is isolated and cutoff American town that was only 45 minutes' drive from San Juan the capital to where we are standing right now.

LEMON: Unbelievable. I'm wondering if there's a sense of panic setting in. How long can these people go on without adequate services, without food, without water?

WATSON: I did speak with residents who were overwhelmed. Certainly after hiking for hours under the hot sun, carrying food to their children. What's very impressive is that there is just the kind of, we've got to survive and get through this kind of attitude, even if, again, there's no electricity, there's no telecommunications. And your house, the walls have been blown in, and the roof has been blown in. I saw people sleeping in their -- they put their mattresses outside their houses to sleep in at night. One woman I talked to said listen, if I don't get my job again at the school because the school was damaged, I'm talking with my son about moving to Texas at the end of the day. So people are just trying to survive and move forward. But I was really struck. Traveling around some 50 miles today on the roads, out and back, I counted five cars with flashing lights that looked like some kind of government cars.

[23:45:04] I saw one military Humvee. I saw one crane and one truck with something like a generator. I didn't see convoys of workers fixing the cell phone towers, fixing the power lines, fixing people's homes. I just didn't see it. And I only traveled about 25 miles as the crow flies from San Juan west. I'm sorry, it's been a long day and in the hot sun. But I thought I would see more. Don?

LEMON: Certainly understandable. I've been watching you all day. You're doing a fantastic job there on the ground and bringing the information to these people who are suffering so much. Ivan, continue to do it, thank you so much. Please try to get some rest and we'll see you back here soon on the air. Ivan Watson reporting live for us from Puerto Rico. I want to bring in the Mayor Levine of Miami Beach. His City was battered by hurricane Irma just two weeks ago. Now he is working to help the people of Puerto Rico. I mean, what an awful, awful story, mayor. You were down there in San Juan yesterday meeting with the mayor there. You were able to bring supplies with you, as well. What did you see?

MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Don, we landed in this magnificent massive aircraft at San Juan yesterday filled with everything you could imagine, from diapers, medical supplies, water, food, generators, and batteries and when we landed, the mayor of San Juan, Mayor Cruz, she literally had tears in her eyes when I came down the gangway. I mean literally had tears in her eyes. She is there with the people, doing everything she can. What did I see? I saw a city that was devastated. Power lines down, poles down, flooding. No electricity whatsoever. It's a sad situation to see a major American City in this condition, Don. And you don't see a lot of people around from the government, just as your anchor reporter just said to you.

LEMON: And people forget, it is an American City. You're in a unique position, Mayor. You just went through a hurricane in Florida. We're now eight days out of this one. Do you think President Trump responded as quickly to Puerto Rico as he did to the hurricanes -- the ones that hit Texas and Florida?

LEVINE: Not at all, Don. You know the difference is, here in Florida, we have great big resources, and we're on the mainland. Same with Texas. This is an island out in the middle of the Caribbean that needs help. I've got to tell you, I am so disappointed in the leadership that came out of Washington in this situation. You can't tweet this away. You can't tweet water or generators. You know, Don, I have to tell you, the greatest generation, when we fought World War II, when we landed in Normandy, there weren't always these excuses the weather is not good. We're not sure if the community can handle it. Maybe there's a couple hundred thousand Nazis shooting back at us. They landed and got the job done, America came together. What you don't see is that same military way of thinking to get it done when it comes to these people were attacked by hurricane Maria that are experiencing devastation.

LEMON: Why is that, some lack of foreign or emergency policy experience this we have lots of airplanes and ships and helicopters and lots of resources. Why do you think that is?

LEVINE: Don I will tell you what it is. I have a sign in my office in City Hall in Miami Beach. It says the speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack. You see it in any organization. I'm sorry to say, we're seeing lack of CEO skills in the White House right now. They don't have the right people in place. They don't activate them. There's no sense of urgency. There's no one in command and control. That is really what's going on. I'm going to call it the way it is.

LEMON: Mayor Levine, thank you.

LEVINE: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, personal stories from Puerto Ricans living under siege. They see things there much, much worse than any of us have seen.

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[23:51:22] LEMON: Puerto Ricans desperate for aid in the aftermath of hurricane Maria's destruction. Joining me now is Maria Cardona, CNN political contributor. Also her family in Puerto Rico. Her brother, Roberto Cardona and his wife Desiree Lowery. Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. Roberto, I know communications are tough there so bear with me. It's hard for you to hear. How will you guys doing? Tell us what you're dealing with.

DESIREE LOWERY, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: Well, right now every day is a challenge. I think that we listen to the radio, to apple radio every day, and we think the next day it's going to get better, but then the day comes and nothing is changed. It's the same four or five-hour gas line. It's the same 500 people trying to get into a supermarket. And it's something that is really disconcerting to think that, you know, all of this aid is supposedly here, but you can't see it. You don't see it anywhere.

LEMON: So Desiree, I got a note from Maria saying that, you know, your husband and many other people will wait in line, drive for a ways, wait in line for hours, maybe six hours at a time. There may be looters. Explain to us what's going on. Take us there, if you can.

LOWERY: Well, security is definitely an issue. It's something that I worry about every time I go out, when Roberto and I go out to get gas or when we have to go get something at the supermarket or even at our own home. You hear stories of looting, of armed robberies, of carjacking's, of gas stations being held up by drug traffickers that take over the gas station just to fill up their own cars and just horror stories that maybe the police department isn't in tune with everything that is going on, because they've got so much on their hands. So you think as a citizen if something happens to you, if you get held up, if you're a victim, who is going to respond?

LEMON: Can you ask Roberto if he would like to say something? I know he is having a hard time hearing if you want to ask him.

ROBERTO CARDONA, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: Yeah. I just want to say that -- yeah. I just want to say that one of the major problems has been trying to get gas for generators just to run a simple refrigerator. Those gas lines have been four, five hours long at the beginning. They've gotten a little less, but it's been a daily routine to make gas lines for two to three hours. And you can only get between $25 if you're walking with a tank and $40 if you're in your car. But really people need more than that in order to drive further distances, in order to fill their generators. So you get the same people in the same gas lines every day, day after day. Thank goodness that today they passed a law that gas stations starting tomorrow will not be allowed to do that. And I think that will bring down the level of lines a little bit.

LOWERY: There won't be a limit.

R. CARDONA: But I think people are still going to want to hoard their gas now so they don't know if that will change. So the lines for the next two days will be long. So the least people will be able to get their fill and move on, three, four days --

LOWERY: On the highways you see hundreds of cars that are stalled because they ran out of gas. They literally ran out of gas trying to get to San Juan where they know that there are a lot of gas stations open, so it's really a tragedy for these people.

[23:55:00] LEMON: I want to bring Maria in. Maria, we have a short time left but I know that you're just happy to be here to see your family, right.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Thank you so much.

LEMON: I know you were worried. Don't make me cry on TV, seriously. So let's --

CARDONA: I'll control myself.

LEMON: What do you think when you see -- you want people to know about this.

CARDONA: Yes. So what I will say is the horror stories that Roberto and Desiree are talking about and they're one of the lucky ones. They have generators and their house was minimally damaged. But the horror stories are out there, Don. And your reporters have been so great at bringing those stories to light. And what I want to underscore is that the Trump administration has got to stop patting themselves on the back and start focusing and putting their heads together on how to get help to these 3.5 million American citizens. This is an island that is on the verge of the collapse of civic society if they don't focus on how to get aid to the folks that are outside of San Juan. San Juan, yes, absolutely, difficult. The lines and, you know, we don't know what's going to happen if we don't get the supplies there. But you have the rural areas where you have the morgues and the hospitals are being overrun. I think that the death toll is going to be a lot higher than what has been reported. And there is now, I think, a big threat of a public health issue if things don't get under control.

LEMON: I've got to go because it's the end of the show. Thank you. Roberto, Desiree, good luck to you. If we can help out any more than we have, please let us know. And Maria, you know, I love you. So thank you.

CARDONA: Thank you, Don. I really appreciate it.

LEMON: Before we leave you tonight, I want to turn to some very good news. Congressman Steve Scalise, the house Republican whip who was shot in June when a gunman attacked a congressional baseball team practice returned to Capitol Hill today for the first time since being seriously wounded. President Trump tweeting a welcome back message. The Congressman called his recovery a miracle.

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LEMON: Good for him. Glad to have him back and that he is doing much better. That is it for us tonight. Thank for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.