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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
HHS Secretary Price Out After Private Jet Scandal; Trump Brags About Puerto Rico Response as Fed-Up Survivors Plead for Electricity, Water, Fuel; San Juan Mayor: "This is not a Good News Story"; Trump Brags About "Incredible" Results In Puerto Rico; San Juan Mayor: "Help Us, We Are Dying"; HHS Secretary Price Out After Private Jet Scandal; Celebrity Chef Feeding People In Puerto Rico. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 29, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper coming to you live from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On this island in many towns across this island tonight, families in Puerto Rico are waiting, waiting for fuel, waiting for electricity to be restored, waiting to get some fresh drinking water and waiting to see what's going to happen to them and their towns and their island in the days and the months and even the years ahead.
Today, President Trump said that relief efforts are going well, really well, in his words, all things considering. Really well, he said.
Tonight, we'll talk to the mayor of San Juan. We'll talk to the governor of Puerto Rico and we'll talk to regular people, citizens, American citizens, all across this island to find out if they think things are going really well with the relief efforts. We have extensive reporting from Puerto Rico tonight.
But, first, we want to turn to the bombshell that happened out of Washington today, the resignation of the Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Ryan Nobles joins me with all the latest.
Ryan, explain how this all went down today.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it appears that the president just could no longer handle this controversy surrounding his secretary of health and human services and the response that the now former secretary had to the controversy just seemed to make things worse. In fact, this afternoon the president made it clear that he did not like the way that this scandal surrounding the use of private airplanes reflected back on his administration and that a change was necessary.
Listen to what the president said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you lost confidence in Secretary Price? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a question of
confidence. I was disappointed because I didn't like it, cosmetically or otherwise. So, I don't like to see somebody that perhaps there's the perception that it wasn't right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, essentially, what the president decided to do later today was accept the resignation of Secretary Price. It is effective at midnight tonight. There will be an acting secretary that will take his place until a permanent person can be put into that position.
But, Anderson, this controversy just seemed to grow and grow by the day and the chatter on cable news was something that the president was clearly keeping an eye on and he decided that today a change was necessary.
COOPER: Well, you know, certainly, Tom Price and his staff did Tom Price no favors. I mean, first, they underplayed the extent of his use of private planes. And then yesterday, with much fanfare, he announced that he was going to reimburse the government, meaning reimburse taxpayers, but only for the cost of his seat on those planes as if those planes would have been going off on those trips even without him.
What do we know now? Is Tom Price still going to at least reimburse the $50,000-some he had said he would do yesterday?
NOBLES: We have no reason to think that he's not going to, Anderson. But to your point, it's pretty clear that his response to this controversy was not something that pleased the president at all. He thought it was lukewarm at best and it made the situation even more worse. As you mentioned, the idea of only paying back $50,000 for expenses that got up more than a million dollars when you take into account the use of military planes was just a very small drop in the bucket. So, the president just deciding that this -- the optics of this situation as he said himself, were just too much for him to handle.
And we now will wait and see if Tom Price makes good on that commitment to pay that $50,000 back to taxpayers.
COOPER: I mean, it is amazing when you look at how many people from the president's inner circle have resigned or been fired just in the short time he's been in the White House. There are a number of other cabinet secretaries who take private planes. Some of them are billionaires and can pay for it themselves, but others are under scrutiny as well tonight.
NOBLES: Yes, that's right, Anderson. So, what's interesting about Tom Price is he's the first cabinet secretary that's been forced to step down from his post. Everyone up until this point have been administration officials that work in the White House and closely with President Trump.
Price being the first that actually represents an entire department, but as you mentioned, there are at least three or cabinet secretaries who have admitted to the use of private and chartered flights, among them Ryan Zinke, who is the secretary of the interior. He today calling the accusations of the use of these private airplanes B.S., saying that they were necessary for his travel and that he only uses coach every other situation.
Also, Scott Pruitt who is the EPA administration official. He also has used private planes on a number of different occasions, including taking a military jet before a flight internationally to catch that flight.
And also, Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, perhaps his most famous interaction with the private flight was when he went on a tour of Fort Knox in Kentucky and also took in the eclipse at that time. Also, Mnuchin was also considering using a private flight for his honeymoon.
He decided to backtrack on that and never said that it was a serious consideration, just something that they looked into. So, certainly, Anderson, even though Tom Price is no longer in his position, this controversy surrounding the use of private planes by the Trump administration is not going away anytime soon.
COOPER: All right. Ryan Nobles, appreciate that reporting. We'll have more on the resignation of price throughout the broadcast tonight.
But I want to turn to what is happening here. We have reporters all over the island of Puerto Rico as we have all week. The president spoke about the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and how he sees it.
Here is some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can tell you this, we have done an incredible job considering there's absolutely nothing to work with. And a very big question is what are we going to do with the power plan? Because the power plant has been wiped out. It's not like let's go back and fix it. That's what I do. I'm a good construction guy.
You don't go back and fix it. There is nothing. The power grid is gone.
So, we have a lot of big decisions, and you're talking about -- the dollars that you're talking about are really tremendous. And I'll be talking with the Democrats and we'll be talking to Congress about what we're going to do a little bit longer term.
In the meantime, we've saved a lot of lives. We've done a really good job and now we're bringing the people for distribution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, yesterday, you may remember Elaine Duke, the acting homeland security secretary, made headlines and raised eyebrows with her optimistic shall we say assessment of what's been going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELAINE DUKE, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I am very satisfied. I know it's a hard storm to recover from, but the amount of progress that's been made, and I really would appreciate any support that we get. I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the mayor of San Juan quickly pointed out today that it is not a good news story what is happening here on the ground. She also had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. I am mad as hell because my peoples' lives are at stake. And we are but one nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And I'm joined now by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has been here now reporting extensively on the medical situation. What have you seen today just in terms of efforts about, you know, medical supplies, relief getting out? I mean, San Juan is one thing and, you know, compared to the rest of the island, there's a lot of places in San Juan that are doing OK and it's easy to get relieve here, but elsewhere.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The most coordination you're going to see is right here. You get beyond here and 15, 20 minutes beyond here, you really see nothing and I asked, you know, the first few days that I was here, have you seen anything? Nobody said that they had seen any coordinated relief efforts, no FEMA, no trucks come in. What I saw today were private organizations, disaster relief and Project Hope in particular going out and doing things.
We've been talking to these doctors now and just saying, hey, look, what do you need? They have no communication, what do you need? One doctor was telling us what she needed specifically and also came up with a plan sort of how to address those needs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're tied up here because we don't have antibiotics to give the patients and we have no place to get them.
GUPTA: I kept thinking to myself how difficult could this be. If these life saving supplies are on the island of Puerto Rico, why aren't they getting to the people who need it? What's standing in the way of that happening and can I make it happen myself. The first place I'm going to try are these DMAT tents, Disaster
Management Assistance Team, HHS. This is the federal government. Let's see what they have to offer. I was with the doctors yesterday who were volunteering and this is what they were asking for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
GUPTA: OK. So we've been waiting about 45 minutes now outside the HHS tent. We know that they have medications. What we heard is that they've got to run it up two lines of command, two chains of command, and then they get back to us.
But again, it's been 45 minutes.
How are you doing? We're going to try somewhere else.
We're trying to get some of these medications because we went to some of the shelters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can get some here.
GUPTA: Is there medication --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the medication just arrived. OK.
GUPTA: OK. Thank you.
Because the hospitals have been slow to start back up, these are all volunteer doctors over here who have basically come trying to gather supplies and take it out to the people who need it. They're trying their best. It's a slow process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see (INAUDIBLE), one we have there. OK?
GUPTA: OK. Yes. If we can get a few doses we'll take it over there. Is that through?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have only some of the antibiotics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need it also.
GUPTA: Yes. That would be great. All right. Perfect. OK, doctor. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other one I will get you.
GUPTA: Appreciate it. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. You too.
GUPTA: It's all about getting the supplies and then getting them to the people who need it. These come from an organization called Direct Relief. You can see they're set up right underneath this parking structure are with all these medications. We got them. Now, we're going to take them.
What Dr. Morales asked was that we get these medications and see if we could bring it to this clinic, this hospital. This is one of those places that's up and running. But without these medications, they haven't been able to really take care of patients.
Dr. Rodriguez, I was told to bring you this.
DR. MARIA RODRIGUEZ CONCETTA, CONCILIO DE SALUD INTEGRAL DE LOIZA: Thank you.
GUPTA: These are --
CONCETTA: Thank you.
GUPTA: Let me tell you what we have. This is all sorts of antibiotics primarily. Dr. Morales said that you were needing a lot of this. Is it true?
GUPTA: You can go through it and there's also pediatrics. Well, I hope this helps.
CONCETTA: Yes. A lot. Thank you.
GUPTA: You're doing great work here. Keep doing what you're doing. Like a little baby.
GUPTA: It's such a patchwork. I mean, again, there's no coordination. I mean, people are just literally putting these medications under a parking garage. They're in duffel bags. I mean, it's there's hospitals here, there's doctors here, there's a system here --
COOPER: It takes you making the connection -- I mean, that's odd.
GUPTA: It can be done.
GUPTA: The distribution can happen. We can drive a vehicle. We can pick up these meds. It can be done.
All these things are here. It's like in medicine if you develop this great treatment, everyone is applauding it's great, but then the people who need it don't get it, what value does it have. The things are here but only half the job I think has been done. Distribution is what I have seen is the biggest problem.
COOPER: I want to bring in retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore who obviously led the military efforts on the ground in -- during Hurricane Katrina. When you see what, you know, Sanjay, basically going and picking up medication bringing it to a place it's needed, what are the logjams here?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), LED MILITARY RESPONSE AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA: Well, we need more capacity. We need to have an LOT at each hospital, a liaison team that can call in for emergency medicine. We know how to do this. We've got medical companies in the military. They got to get here.
COOPER: There needs to be more troops on the ground you're saying.
HONORE: Yes, sir. And I'm sure General Buchanan is working on that. And his first assessment, you don't have enough capacity. Right now when you come into the airport, you see these C17s on the ground with off loaded pallets, a quarter mile of them with one forklift working.
He's going to assess that. He's seeing the same thing. And we need a big unit at the airport to get that through put so you can get that arm order movement of the supplies. But right now, it's a function of capacity.
The other thing we've got to create communications. And this is a resilience piece. And I'm not going to -- this thing costs 5 hundreds a year. And it's a satellite phone. If you don't use it, you don't pay.
And you can turn it into a box that you create a hot spot so a whole town, government can be able to communicate. If you can't communicate, you're in trouble. A couple other recommendations, if I will.
COOPER: Yes, sure.
HONORE: Walgreens, big brand here. They dominated, came in and took over the pharmaceutical.
The stores are not open. All they need is a generator. And we need a generator law in Puerto Rico to look forward in resilience and make all those drugstores have generators.
COOPER: You know, one of the problems I found today at a gas station, we're going to show with my piece in a little bit, is that there were a lot of people waiting in line who work at some of those big stores who can't get to their job because they need gas in their car, so they're waiting for ten hours in line. They finally get gas and luckily their bosses are sympathetic and say, look, you've got to get gas, but it's this cycle, if you don't have gas, if you don't a car, you don't have a car, you can't get to your job.
HONORE: The enablers. Florida passed a gas -- a generator law for gas stations.
HONORE: Every gas station in Puerto Rico needs to have it because when a storm comes and it cuts the lights out. These are the type things and AT&T needs to get the cell towers up. We did it in New Orleans. You know how we did it? Troops from the 82nd Airborne went on top of
the buildings, found the towers, stood them up and put a small generator on it and the police were able to talk. If you can't coordinate, you can't communicate.
COOPER: The doctors that you're talking today, I mean, how -- are they frustrated? Or what --
GUPTA: Yes, they're incredibly frustrated and part of the issue is that, you know, we keep hearing these numbers that 40 of the hospitals out of 70 are up and running.
COOPER: Right. When you look at the stats on paper, it looks OK.
GUPTA: Yes, I think maybe it's improving. And we went to some of these hospitals that are up and running, have problems.
[20:15:02] Number one is they have no comms, as the general is mentioning. So, they can't communicate with anybody. No one is communicating with them to actually know that they're up and running.
Number two is they don't have medications. So, patients come in, maybe they have power now but they can't actually treat people. And, finally, you know, they are told they have fuel for six hours, for example.
You can't -- what do you do with that? How do you plan? Can you admit patients? Are you going to tell somebody you can come in but six hours from now we may not have power to be able to take dare of you. It's a very frustrating situation. Many of the doctors are volunteering their time, sitting in these gas lines that we're describing and then trying to do this work.
COOPER: General, I talked to Brock Long, the administrator of FEMA, who I know you have respect for.
COOPER: Yesterday, he was saying, look, the FEMA supplies are getting off loaded and getting moved out, but the guy from the port yesterday was -- we're telling our correspondents, there's all these goods, some perishable, there's water, there's food, medications in some cases, that could go to stores and that people could buy but it's not getting distributed because there's not truck drivers.
Isn't that something if there were more military personnel with trucks, that they could do the driving?
HONORE: You could bring military personnel in. I saw some three truckloads of troops coming in from the airport and I saw 7T, I mean, seven trans. There's some elements of transportation unit that they brought some drivers in.
They're going to bring more in, but we've got to get industry working. We've got to get people back to work. Some of these require special skills and we've got to get the distribution warehouses open. Going in there and doing that could cause further disruption once they
get up. But there has to be a demand on the system from the governor to get people to work, because until people start getting back into the drugstores, back into the distribution houses, the cycle won't work. Good news is I did see about six trucks showed up with money at the airport that came in with cash.
COOPER: That's a problem with banks.
HONORE: So people can be paid.
COOPER: Right. And that's the problem with banks are running out of money.
HONORE: That's an indication that the government is starting to think ahead because payday is tomorrow, 24 percent of the population are on Social Security.
COOPER: Do you think it's still going to be months before electricity is restored?
HONORE: That being said, with the grid down, the multiple grids, school system, hospital. We're strongly suggest the governor start an evacuation of the vulnerable population, particularly those people who want to stay with family and friends, give them a free ride out to get there, to sign up with FEMA.
Everybody in here is eligible for FEMA. We've got to get them so they can sign up. We need to have a FEMA registration team at the airport so you sign up before you leave, so when you get to your destination a few days later, you've got cash to you to help you out and sustain you when you get to the States.
COOPER: All right. We're going to be talking more throughout the next couple -- coming days obviously.
We're going to take a short break. When we come back, the mayor of San Juan comes here who responded quite strongly to what the acting secretary of homeland security said that this was a good news story. We'll talk to her ahead.
[20:21:51] COOPER: Coming to you live from San Juan, Puerto Rico, an island that is still reeling. I mean, there's no doubt about it. Relief efforts are under way. There's disagreement certainly between a lot of folks in Washington and a lot of people here on the ground about how effective they have been, about whether the military should have brought in, a three star general should have been brought in sooner, should have gotten on the ground sooner. That's to be discussed.
But we want to go out -- and we've had correspondents here obviously for the last week.
Today, I went to a place called Loiza. It's about a 25-minute drive out of San Juan, not very far at all, where there's still obviously no electricity. Most people don't have clean drinking water in their homes. But gas stations were open and they weren't actually rationing gas anymore. You can actually fill up your tank.
But I wanted to see what the whole process was like. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): In Loiza, gas stations are open, but the lines are long and agonizingly slow. It's 91 degrees and Gloribeth Munoz is trying her best to stay cool.
(on camera): So, how long have you been waiting here?
GLORIBETH MUNOZ, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT (translated): Sitting in the car since 5:00 a.m.
COOPER: Since 5:00 a.m.
And just sitting here in the car?
COOPER (voice-over): Felicita Ferria (ph) can't sit in her car any longer. She's been waiting for nearly ten hours.
I've been here since 4:30 a.m., she says. We're just waiting for the generator to turn on. They turned it off because it got overheated.
When the generator starts again, so does the pumping. Like most places in Puerto Rico, here cash is king. Credit cards can't be processed, so dollars rule the day.
(on camera): A lot of people can't even bring their cars here. They're just waiting in line in person with as many gas cans as they can, but this line, there are dozens of people and it stretches all the way down here. And a lot of people here have been waiting for hours as well.
What's it like? I mean, just day to day?
GISEL TORRES, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: Well, I haven't been able to come back. Even my boss said, don't come back unless you have gas just for our risk. But during the day, we have from 6:00 a.m. all the way to 7:00 p.m. to be out in the streets looking for whatever you can so that --
COOPER: That's how you spend your days basically, looking for stuff, water --
TORRES: Yes, yes.
COOPER: Gas, food, anything.
TORRES: Right now, today, it's just gas.
COOPER (voice-over): Slowly, the cars inch forward. Felicita is close with cash in hand.
Loiza's deputy mayor says the needs are overwhelming and it all starts with the need for gas.
DEPUTY MAYOR LUIS ESCOBAR, LOIZA, PUERTO RICO: This is the chain, right. This is one piece. This is another piece. No fuel, no work, no money.
COOPER (on camera): It's all connected.
COOPER: People are patient, but they're tired and fed up.
FRANCIS FELTON, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: I don't understand what's -- why things are so drastic and so out of control. It's just gas. We have gasoline, so why isn't there in the stations?
COOPER: Do you see relief supplies coming? Do you see the federal government coming?
FELTON: No. No.
COOPER (voice-over): Felicita finally makes it to the front. Fuel is no longer being rationed, so she can fill her tank and a small gas can as well.
[20:25:01] She drives off happy. Tomorrow, she'll look for water and other basic necessities. The line inches forward. It's another car's turn at the pump.
COOPER: That's the scene just about a 25-minute drive from here in San Juan.
Ivan Watson has been here now for days.
I mean, gas, it's such an obvious thing we all take it for granted in the States, but as the deputy mayor in that town said to me, if you don't have gas, you don't have a car, if you don't have a car, you can't get to your job, you can't get to your job, you can't get paid, you can't get paid, you can't get food.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it breaks down the whole supply chain here. And everywhere I've gone on the island, these gas lines just go on forever and ever and ever.
And then the other intriguing or disturbing thing is the people that are standing in line have no information. There's no telephone. No Internet. They don't have televisions working right now. So, they don't know -- is it a tanker going to come and deliver gas or what?
And I keep asking everybody I meet, has anybody come from the federal government, anybody? And today, finally, I encountered a team of FEMA workers in one small town. COOPER: Let's take a look.
WATSON (voice-over): Welcome to Florida. Florida Puerto Rico.
Like so many other communities on this American island, this town suffers from fuel shortages and the collapse of many other utilities.
NORMA BRUNO, RESIDENT OF FLORIDA, PUERTO RICO: There's no water in the house. No telephone, no Internet, nothing.
WATSON (on camera): Have you seen any --
BRUNO: People from government? No.
BRUNO: No. No one. No one. No one pass from any neighborhood. No,
WATSON (voice-over): One neighborhood in Florida is struggling with an additional problem.
(on camera): This is -- are these fish in the road?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Fish in the road.
WATSON: You've got fish in the street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Really big one.
WATSON (voice-over): A flood.
(on camera): This town is up in the hills. Nowhere near the coast and yet somehow, the storm backed up a nearby creek creating this flood that has inundated dozens of families' homes. Among those now homeless, Edith Negron.
EDITH NEGRON, RESIDENT OF FLORIDA, PUERTO RICO: We lose everything. First floor, and second floor, everything is gone. Everything is gone.
WATSON (voice-over): She's now living with her son and family in a local government shelter. The municipality provided this pump to suck out thousands of gallons of flood water and it's distributing fuel to volunteers like George Pagan, who is using his own equipment to help clear debris.
Much of the cleanup here is also being done by ordinary citizens.
During our visit the mayor of Florida appeared accompanied by officials from FEMA, the Federal Disaster Relief Agency. The mayor tells a FEMA representative he's worried the flood could spread disease. Residents made homeless by the storm have their own questions for FEMA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your sources for like food wise and gas wise and water?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That need that the mayor reported to us we're reporting back to San Juan and somebody --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how long will that take?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the first to come here, apparently, so --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because for us to move back in here, because it's black water, it's full of black water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no type of moving back in there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Right.
WATSON: FEMA's first visit to Florida comes nine days after the storm.
CAROLINE CUDDY, FEMA: We've said this is the first many visits. FEMA is not going to forget about this community. FEMA is not going to forget about the needs that they have and we are going to work with our people back at the field office in San Juan about what we're going to do.
WATSON: The people here could sure use some more help.
WATSON: So my question here, Anderson, I've never covered a hurricane in the state of Florida, but I just wonder after one of these monster storms has come through, would it take nine days for FEMA to reach a town in the state of Florida like it took nine days to reach the town of Florida here in Puerto Rico?
COOPER: What FEMA says is, look, it's harder to reposition supplies on an island that's going to be hit by such a big storm. There's concern about the equipment getting destroyed and also, obviously, you know, it's not Florida where you can just drive trucks. But you were saying the roads, I mean, that -- the Florida town you were in in Puerto Rico, that's only about an hour from San Juan.
COOPER: So, it's not like you took a helicopter to get there because the roads are impassable.
WATSON: No, you take a highway and take an exit off it. And what is remarkable is all the roads I have traveled on have been cleared. Somebody has done a really good job of opening them up and you can travel back and forth very easily. That FEMA team I asked did you bring anything to this community? They said they did supply a satellite phone to the mayor because these mayors can't even call to, you know, the headquarters here at the government in San Juan when there's an emergency.
COOPER: Right. So that's an assessment team from FEMA, basically. They look at what the needs are. They report back to the organization here and then I guess the idea is they then send out supplies at some date to be determined.
WATSON: Down the road. But what's really striking is how much of the recovery effort, the clean-up effort is clearly just Puerto Ricans themselves helping each other out and just cleaning up on their own with some assistance from the municipalities that are obviously victims also of the storm.
COOPER: Yes. I was in a town on one street and there was like a central house where people are cooking together and then feeding people on the block.
Ivan, appreciate your reporting. It's been a remarkable over the last couple of days.
All right, we're going to take a short break. We're going to have more from Puerto Rico. I'm going to talk to the mayor of San Juan. A lot to talk to her about, coming up next.
COOPER: As we showed you at the top of the broadcast earlier today, President Trump said that things are going very well here, those were his words. The mayor of San Juan had a different take earlier today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. I am mad as hell because my people's lives are at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.
CRUZ: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: You said you're mad as hell earlier today. Tonight you're wearing a t-shirt that says, "Help us, we are dying." That's really happening.
CRUZ: It is really happening.
COOPER: That's you're really -- that's not a metaphor.
CRUZ: No, it's not a metaphor. If you go also inside the island, it's very important that people to know, people are drinking out of creeks here in San Juan.
[20:35:07] You have people that are in buildings and they're sort of becoming caged in their own buildings. Old people, retired people that just don't have any electricity. We've taken 37 people out in the last two days from retirement homes. Some of them have been left to die there. They have no dialysis or nothing of a sort. So it is dying.
COOPER: When you heard the acting secretary of Homeland Security say that it's a good news story --
CRUZ: You know that's ludicrous. Maybe from where she was sitting, you know, going back to her air-conditioned office it's a good story. It's not a good story. When people are dying, when people are starving, when people are thirsty, when people don't have -- can't go back to work, you got to put people back to work, we have our communications up and running, get to have our power reconstruct, and we're very into rethink the society that we build from now. And so I don't know who in their right mind would say that this is a good story to tell.
COOPER: When the -- the administration yesterday was saying at a White House briefing that this was done text book, that this is exactly kind of how they wanted it. They didn't need a three-star general here eight days ago because that's not the way things worked. Would you have like to have seen a bigger military presence earlier?
CRUZ: I would have like to see a bigger logistics like military presence. When you look at the comparison and some of the newscasts have done between what happened in Haiti and what is happening here, it was so good. We were all so proud of when this happened in Haiti or where the Ebola crisis happened.
But then here, everything seems to be more than we thought. It seems to be just something that's not allowing people to do what they are supposed to do. So today when I ranted and raved all of a sudden a whole bunch of FEMA staff appeared at the coliseum, I had mayors --
COOPER: After you publicly complained.
CRUZ: Yes. I had mayors -- and they said, well, it was coming. Yes, sure, you know, but I'm glad. I'm glad. Yesterday I got a call from the chief of staff, president's chief of staff, and all of a sudden I get a call from the White House and I was very happy. John Reagan, the regional director, we've been communicating.
So I am -- I hope that things will change, but this is me. I'm in capital city, but we are literally dying here, Mr. Cooper. People cannot fathom what it is to have children drinking from creeks, people at nursing homes that don't have any oxygen.
Just today we met with Dr. Gupta here and he said, "Look, I'm going to the northeastern side of the island and they asked for this medication." So we brought it for him today and gave it to him to take. So -- and then --
COOPER: Which is kind of crazy.
COOPER: I mean, that it's, you know, Sanjay, I mean, he's, you know, he's a doctor and he's a great person and it's great that he can do it, but you would think after this many days that that message would have gotten across here.
CRUZ: Not only that, it's very simple. One, you get your communications up and running. Two, you get your hospitals up and running. Three, for those that are really ill when the power grid is going in and out, we had our hospital. We thought it was going to start working then the power went out so you have to do all the bacteriological tests everything again so you don't have an intensive care unit.
So one of the things that we need to do is we need to put these people in places where they can be taken care of because really -- and I'm glad you said it that way, because people think, "Oh, they are exaggerating."
On the one hand we see 3,000 containers that there with the medicine, supplies, everything that we need. But on the other hand, the wheels are not churning fast enough.
COOPER: Now, FEMA says, "Look, our supplies got out of the port quickly. We make sure they get out of the port and get distributed." Those are -- those box cars that -- the thousands that were in the port yesterday and that we were interviewing people about, the port people say those are commodities that should be in stores that would help people, it is. Its food, its water, its medicine at least people could be able to buy it if they were made it into store and the stores will open.
CRUZ: With all due respect, there's a disconnect between what the plan says and what is really happening. Just today --
COOPER: So you don't see that FEMA pipeline moving?
CRUZ: I got it yesterday, three crates of water, four crates of food and two crates -- four crates of baby supplies. And you know what I did? I gave it to another town called Comerio, because they had gone to their FEMA distribution center and when they got there they said, "Sorry, we got nothing for you. Make a call on Monday and we'll see what we can do."
COOPER: Because that's what FEMA says that they've set up distribution centers around the country that then municipalities come, get the supplies they need and distribute. It's not working, isn't it?
CRUZ: You know what they've also set up? If you register for FEMA in the internet, you're OK.
[20:40:04] Well, we don't have any internet. We barely have phones. We don't have power anywhere. So you have -- isn't that the marine's motto, you improvise, you adapt, you overcome. That's exactly what we have to do.
This is not a standard operating procedure. Everything has just gone away so you have to improvise and makeshift. If you cannot go on the internet, you just fill up a form and somebody with an internet connection then does the data entry for you.
COOPER: How are you holding up? I mean, you must be even working nonstop.
CRUZ: My house got flooded, got cleaned up, everything inside is lost. I'm staying at the coliseum, (INAUDIBLE) where we have the largest refugee station in all of Puerto Rico, 685 people. We had --
COOPER: That's where you're staying?
CRUZ: That's where I'm staying with my family. We're sleeping on cots. We're eating the same food that refugees are eating. And we're doing the best we can. And I'm getting whatever -- I'm exhausted. I can tell you that. But you know what? I have to get the voice of our people out there.
I lived in the United States for 12 years. I went to school there. I had my child there in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I know what the U.S. heart is all about. You know, you are intelligent, daring people, so I just don't understand why things have become so complicated and the logistics are so insurmountable.
COOPER: I got to say, it hurts me so much to hear so many people on this island say to me and say to reporters, "We're Americans. We're Americans." They have to explain that as if we shouldn't know that. I mean that -- I just find that so -- I mean, I think it says something about the way people here feel about the way things have been handled.
CRUZ: There's a lot of linked history. There's a lot of cross moving, those people in Orlando, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston. Every time there is a problem we are the kind of people that share our sorrows, but also share or triumphs.
And we just don't understand and, sorry, maybe I'm too tired I get a little emotional but, you know, we're dying here. We truly are dying here. And I keep saying it, SOS, if anyone can hear us.
You know, if Mr. Trump can hear us, let just get it over with and get the ball rolling. You know, when you have to do an emergency tracheostomy, you're not concerned if what you're doing it with is the actual correct and precise knife.
COOPER: You just want things done.
CRUZ: You just want things done. You know, sometimes you have to build the plan as you go along. I was supposed to go to a FEMA distribution center that is in Canovana. Now, that is about 30, 40 miles from San Juan, when there's one in Bayamon that's about 20 miles and the answer was, "Well, that's how the plans was done." But, you know, the great plans (INAUDIBLE). Things have to change. We got to move fast. And frankly, we have to show the world that we can do it. And in that respect, I want to thank all of you people from the news that have been doing such a great job in amplifying our voices and making sure people know that we're here and that we count on you to get our voice out there.
COOPER: There are a lot of people counting on you, Mayor. Thank you very much for being with us.
CRUZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it.
CRUZ: Thank you very much.
COOPER: We will have more from Puerto Rico. We'll be right back.
[20:45:57] COOPER: We're going to have a lot more reporting from here in San Juan and all over the island of Puerto Rico over the next hour and so. But, first, I do want to turn back to the blockbuster story out of Washington.
Just a stunning development that HHS Secretary Tom Price has resigned after downplaying the reporting about Politico about his private jet use, then yesterday saying, "Well, I'm going to reimburse the tax payers."
But it wasn't really reimbursing the tax payers for the full cost of those private jet flights at national Tennessee, which he could have gotten commercially for a lot cheaper or to St. Simons Island. He was just going to reimburse for one seat as if the plane was going to go to those places without him.
Dan Diamond from Politico broke the story wide open joins me now, as well as Amanda Carpenter, CNN Political Analyst and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz.
Dan, when you started reporting on this, A, how long ago was it and did you have any idea it will lead to this?
DAN DIAMOND, REPORT AND AUTHOR, POLITICO PULSE: Anderson, I remember the night vividly. It was four months ago back in May and my colleague, Rachana Pradhan, had gotten the first tip on Tom Price taking chartered jets.
Hadn't been able to make a lot of head way, she brought it to me and I remember thinking then how big it could be if we could just got the story right. And it took time and care to get all the details that we needed to show, not just that he was taking a few chartered flights, but really the extent and cost of it.
COOPER: And Dan, I mean, I got to say the song and dance that Tom Price and his people did about your reporting, I mean, from denials to, you know, saying, oh, there wasn't that many trips, to, you know, "I have such a busy schedule. I have to take these planes, to, there was no other commercial flight available, to, I'm going to reimburse but not really. I mean, it was just one thing after another.
DIAMOND: There were stories involved over the 10 days, Anderson, even until the moment when Tom Price on Thursday said, "I will repay for my seat on the plane." We were being told by HHS, this was defensible. This was normal. It was needed. So, a very sudden shift in the past 36 hours and it really rapid move from admitting some guilt to now being out of office.
COOPER: Amanda, clearly President Trump was not happy about this and that is why the resignation happened, which I guess it was a firing but, you know, they called it a resignation officially. There have been a lot of people from Trump's inner circle who have now left in a very short time. I'm wondering what you think this says about the Trump White House and what this say about the president.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it really puts Republicans in a bind when it comes to Obamacare because Tom Price is supposed to a guy who's going to be really cut through the regulations and get a lot of stuff done for conservative, but then never really materialize.
And I do have to just go out of the way to thank Dan and his colleagues at Politico, this is real accountability journalism because they exposed these improper practices. They have likely saved tax payers millions of dollars, because it's not just Tom Price. Donald Trump's administration does have a plain problem. There's more investigations going on. And I think that with Price resigning, there may be an end put to this.
General Kelly, Chief of Staff, has put out a memo saying that they're going to start vetting and looking at all these. And just because it may pass legal muster does not make these sorts of activities right.
And so this just proves how shining a bright light on the sort of practices is so necessary because, Anderson, you are standing in the middle of a crisis right now in Puerto Rico. We must have leaders who are good stewards of tax payer dollars so that money is available to truly help people who need it and not just give numbers of the administration of cushy plane rides.
COOPER: Well, and, Dan, also for the administration which, you know, who's slogan was draining the swamp, draining the swamp, all during the campaign, I mean, I said this last night. I mean, you know, Tom Price was flying over the swamp in a private jet, and the (INAUDIBLE) of this guy who was criticizing, I think, it was Nancy Pelosi back when he was in Congress, for flying a private jet across the country.
DIAMON: Not only did he criticize congressmen and other officials when he was in Congress, Anderson, just a few months ago, Tom Price proposed a cut to HHS' own travel budget of more than $600,000.
[20:50:09] And what is ironic about that is he himself took more than $600,000 worth of travel. We quantified over $1 million in domestic travel and international combined in a four-month only span of time.
CARPENTER: And if I can just jump in there. I mean, Tom Price is a guy who knew better two Republicans. This is why there was no support for him when this news came out. For Republicans he was supposed to be a model of fiscal conservative.
He was budget chairman. He was the head of the Republican Policy Committee. He was the head of the Republican Study Committee, which you can say (ph) that this is a really good pedigree for a Republican. There were high expectations for him.
And so when this started to drip out and then watching members of his administration defend the practices, members who we knew the names of who were good conservatives try to justify this, it was just staggering to think that Tom Price would let Republicans down this way.
And so I hope all Republicans take a look at this, because Tom Price was a guy who supposed to do better and he blew it. This wasn't something that Donald Trump bullied him. This was all of his own making. And the opportunities where Republicans says are dwindling by the end of the year, so this better be a lesson and a blowback pitch for Republicans who are getting out of line.
COOPER: Yes. Amanda Carpenter, appreciate you being on. And Dan Diamond, again, thank you for your reporting. It makes us all proud. Thank you very much.
We're going to have more from here in San Juan and across Puerto Rico. One of the greatest chefs in the world, Jose Andres joins me, coming up. He is going down here to try to help a lot of people just coming to try to do what they can in ways big and small. We'll talk to Jose in just a moment.
COOPER: We are live in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here's my old friend, Jose Andres. I went to Jose Andres in Haiti a couple months ago. He was in Harvey in Houston feeding people. And you came down here just to try to do what you could.
JOSE ANDRES, COOKING FOR SURVIVORS IN PUERTO RICO: Again, I came to learn. But in the process of learning, first day we did 1,500 meals, second day we did 3,500 meals, third day we did 5,000 meals, today we did over 8,000 meals. Today, we're going to reach 10,000.
COOPER: I mean you can't be doing this by yourself, obviously. You're getting volunteers? How -- I mean --
ANDRES: I'm only a cheerleader. I came and I want to make sure I was going to have food. And as a chef, I know always how to get food. I got many friends in this island, that's why I have a restaurant here and I've been coming to this island for many years. I try to find it hard. I went to (INAUDIBLE) to a restaurant called Jose Enrique.
[20:55:05] Jose Enrique is my friend and he was already doing Sancocho for the hungry people around his neighborhood. And I told him, "Man, we're right here. We have a parking. We're going to start doing more." "OK, let's do it."
When it became 1,000 became 2,000, when it became 2,000 it became 4,000. Today is no match because you said dropped, but to know that tomorrow we're feeding 10,000 meals and we're going to keep doing this. It feels very good.
COOPER: I got to say, I was in town not far from here earlier today and just on one street, you know, in a home people were cooking for everybody on the block. You see that really all over the place. And I mean, you're part of that. You're saying you were crying a lot today.
ANDRES: I was crying a lot today because I know we can do better. I know that the people of Puerto Rico are amazing people. We need to remember and we need to send this message that people of Puerto Rico are Americans like you and like me. Don't forget about that.
The people of Puerto Rico are Americans that happen to live in an island. And the people of Puerto Rico are family people like every single American in the homeland, and they are religious people, and they are liberals, and they are Republicans and Democrats. They are people that they are only looking far better tomorrow.
What you see is the heart of Puerto Rico, that when there is moment of hardship, they come together and with nothing they are able to do a lot.
COOPER: I said to the mayor, I just think it's so sad. I've had people today say to me, "I'm an American. Tell people I'm American." The fact that people on this island feel like they have to say -- the fact that you have to say these are Americans is -- it's sad.
ANDRES: These are very simple. I've been in Haiti for many years. I went after the earthquake. I went after the last two hurricanes. I truly -- I've been with Anthony Bourdain before a hurricane. And the amount of help that came from America was far way bigger than the amount of help has come to Puerto Rico from the military.
At one point we had 25,000 military in Haiti, and we're not even close to that right here in Puerto Rico. So this message is simple. Mr. Trump, we want you to lead, but let's just keep doing what we've done successfully before, no less, use equally. Let's learn from the past and let's make sure that we don't fall in past mistakes.
COOPER: I don't want you to get into a fight with the administration because --
ANDRES: No, I don't.
COOPER: -- you've already been there once or twice. But just in terms of, you know what the administration is saying is, "Look, this was part of the plan. We didn't need a lot of military people here earlier. We didn't need a three-star general." From what you've seen, do you wish that impact was bigger sooner? ANDRES: Let's put things in perspective. Nobody is more organized than the military. When I was a young boy, I was in the Navy. I understand the values that the military bring to occasions like this. They are organized. They understand command. They understand hierarchy. And they make things happen. So when you have a situation like this, military is always welcome.
So I wish they came before. But I know they are trying to be -- they are bringing three -- the three-star general is here and I hope they're bringing more military. But I'm a cook and I care about feeding people. And we have three million people and probably over a million and a half needs somebody to be feeding them for the next two or three weeks. And what I'm only asking is what is the plan with nothing, with no support?
We've been able to feed tomorrow 10,000 people, probably 13,000. I just offer the mayor of San Juan 3,000 meals and she began crying. So I cannot believe that the legal operation is able to deliver to mayor of San Juan 3,000 meals. Sunday, we are going to Biacas (ph) to try to do what I think is the first hot food operation in Biacas. So, they need us there.
Food is in these islands. There are bakeries producing bread nonstop. There are factories like Budweiser and Coke like they did in Houston that they stopped their plants to produce water. So water should not be an issue. The truth is that the main issue is the lack of gas.
ANDRES: We need to make sure that we cover their need we start moving this forward.
COOPER: Yes. Gas gets distribution when stores open.
COOPER: Jose, thank you for being here.
ANDRES: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Thank you. We're going to talk a short break. We'll talk to the governor of Puerto Rico when we return