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New Poll: Most Americans Don't Agree with NFL Protest; Trump Attacks Media for Criticism of Puerto Rico Response; Elaine Duke Faces Criticism for Calling Puerto Rico "Good News Story"; HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns Amid Private Jet Scandal; U.S. Pulls More Staff from Cuba after Sonic Attacks; Elaine Duke's News Conference in Puerto Rico Begins. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: We're talked about this before, the idea of critique on forms of protest. People didn't agree with the march on Washington protest. They thought there should be different kind of protest. They didn't like this gathering, in the language of the day, the gathering of 200,000 negroes in the capital in 1963.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Now, 1963. That's not what history -


HENDERSON: Exactly. Now it seems like it was inevitable, the was a peaceful gathering and everyone agreed with.

KEILAR: And it's upheld. I mean, it's upheld.

HENDERSON: Yes. And this idea, I think there has been a bit of hijacking of the military, this idea that people in the military. The military is incredibly diverse, about 40 percent nonwhite. The idea that people in the military don't have an investment, a voice in racial equality. There are African-American servicemembers, white servicemembers, Latino servicemembers, all sorts of servicemembers, who have a stake in speaking out against some of these things that people in the NFL are talking about. You have seen the hijacking of imagery. Pat Tillman, for instance, a lot of those images going around. Pat Tillman's family saying, don't politicize the death of Pat Tillman for political gain. It's a complicated issue, race, patriotism. Two often what has been throughout this country, painting them as unpatriotic. You think about those students in the civil rights movement, they were calling on American ideals in the original documents for Americans, to live up to those ideals.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: I think the poll, going back to this, the numbers, for those of us talking about this for a week straight, I'm surprised. I think there are positive signs for those players who are protesting. The nation is not against them, 60 percent. This was basically

(CROSSTALK) BRENNAN: -- split within the margin of error. We were talking about that. I have no idea. Polls are polls. Nonetheless, here we are. This is the snapshot we are looking at it right now. The fact that again, six out of 10 Americans are saying Trump is wrong, I think that's shocking news to the White House. I think it's heartening new for the players. I realize there are other things we would want to see.

But I also think because of the fact that Trump is inserted himself, there are people who might not have been on the side of kneeling players who are saying I want to see them protest because they are protesting against Trump --


BRENNAN: -- which is, in many ways, diluting the argument. But it is also bringing people --


KEILAR: I have one final question. I want to put it to you, Domonique.

When you heard the president say as a former player yourself, he said he talked to owners and he thinks they are afraid of the players, that essentially, they are sort of going along with it because they are afraid. What's your reaction?

DOMONIQUE FOXWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER & CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, NBPA: That's a dog whistle. I think everyone recognizes --


FOXWORTH: It's certainly not -- it's a loud dog whistle that we all seem to be able to hear except for President Trump. It's unfortunate and disappointing but --

KEILAR: But as a player - a former player, or as a current player, what is the first thing you think when you hear that?

FOXWORTH: I talked to a lot of players, but I can't say I was that disappointed or surprised. It's hard for me to be surprised by what he says and does up to this point. It's a problem obviously, but what is more scary, and we have seen progress in those polls, but it's scary to me, that anybody believes that the players are wrong. The players are acting like our conscience. This country is hooked on this drug of racism and has been for so long. The players are trying to help us bring us to an intervention. The response is, no, I want to have fun and watch football. That's the wrong response.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALHYST: But part of protesting and taking a stand is not the expectation that it will be universally embraces.


HENDERSON: It rarely is.

GREGORY: The importance is the protest. Not everyone will agree with form or the substance of it. That shouldn't matter.


FOXWORTH: I don't they disagree with the form as much as they disagree with the substance and then they find something in the form to disagree with.


GREGORY: No. I think there are people who do find, who do disagree with the form. They think it's an inappropriate way to register that form of protest. That can be a legitimate reaction.


FOXWORTH: I think they convinced themselves and a lot of people to come to decision by instinct and immediately and find a rational to support that without them knowing it. I think that's what's happening. They see black players kneeling during the national anthem and they are angry. They look for a reason to hate them. It happened all the time throughout our history where you find a reason to undercut the cause because you hate the cause but you find another shield to use and say, it's about a form protest. I don't they care about the form of protest. You look at numbers who support it. I think sports is the perfect place for this discussion because where else are we so biased? The Packers fan may see it quite differently than a Bears fan. This is the same thing. We saw the racial numbers. Like black people --


GREGORY: The right place because it's so diverse.

FOXWORTH: Absolutely.

GREGORY: Like legitimately diverse. So --

[13:35:15] KEILAR: David, Nia, Domonique, Christine, thank you so much. Not full agreement in this conversation, certainly over the topic of it.

Thank you to all of you.

Coming up, President Trump is attacking the media for its criticism of the government's response to Puerto Rico. Congressman Sean Duffy is going to help me to discuss this and so much more.

Plus, any moment, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke is going to speak in Puerto Rico. This is her first press event since calling Puerto Rico a, quote, "good news story. We will take this live when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:39:52] KEILAR: Any moment, the acting Homeland Security secretary will hold a press conference in Puerto Rico. We'll bring that live because she is facing major criticism for calling the administration response a "good news story."

We have Wisconsin Republican Congressman Sean Duffy joining me from New York now.

Congressman, what do you make of that comment, considering she was saying that it was a "good news story," quote, "in terms of our ability to reach people."

[13:40:20] SEAN DUFFY, (R), WISCONSIN: Listen, Brianna, if you watch any of the news stories and talk to anybody from Puerto Rico, there no good news coming out of the island. It is devastated. They have been flattened. The governor has done a good job of bringing resources to the island. But the distribution network doesn't exist. Not only is it food and water and medicine, but they need drivers and trucks to get around the island, an additional challenge. I would disagree. I think it's short sided. From those I talked to, they are reeling. There no good news right now.

KEILAR: We have reporters who, for instance, are in downtown San Juan, and that is, of course, the big city on the island. That's the place where the port is and where you expect things to get going before other places on the island, up in the mountains, far along the coast. They are telling us that it's intermittent and they're barely seeing anything when it comes to federal response.

DUFFY: Again, I think the problem is when you bring things to the island, you expect there to be a distribution network. The federal distribution network, you have a whole other set of resource to bring to help the island out. The governor has been complimentary of President Trump in bringing in the resources when requested. But this is not like Florida or Texas. There infrastructure there to deal with the supplies there to help the citizens. That's not what it is in Puerto Rico. They have a destroyed and crushed economy before this hurricane hit. They are having a double whammy here, and aren't even able to get the aid out to people when it arrives on their shore. That's the problem. Now they have to go, OK, if they don't have it, let's get transportation on the island to help people. Brianna, we hear stories, we might still be finding bodies and injured people up in the hills. This is devastating.

I love the island and I worked on the Formasa (ph) bill to try to help them out of their debt crisis. And I have been down there a number of times. The greatest people and the most American-loving people you will ever meet. They will need help as fast as possible right now.

KEILAR: They certainly do.

I want to talk about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, former colleague of yours. He agreed to pay back a portion of the cost of his flights, a small fraction. The president is reportedly very angry over this whole affair. Do you think he should be fired? Should Tom Price be fired? DUFFY: Fired, no. Tom is a great choice for this position at Health

and Human Services. I know Tom Price. He's a great guy. But as you rally against Democrats for wasting money and you are a budget hawk, and you take private planes at government expense, that's a real problem. He should have flown coach. We applaud Paul Ryan and John Boehner when they said we'll flew commercial and coach, where Nancy Pelosi was on a private jet. We thought that was great. What we apply to Democrats, we should apply to Republicans. And Tom Price should pay it back and apologize and get about the business of trying to fix the health care system in America.


DUFFY: -- distractions he brought on himself.

KEILAR: But what does it say to you when -- I think the reason it bothers so many people is it sort of reveals maybe a way of thinking or even not thinking, not thinking about how you are spending taxpayer money. Especially when you are talking about being a fiscal conservative and then you go to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have paid so much -- you could have paid so much less flying commercial at a time when Republicans are talking about Obamacare repeal, and at a time when Republicans are pushing a tax reform plan that even the top adviser to the president admitted yesterday that some middle-class Americans are going to pay more in taxes. This is maybe --


KEILAR: -- but isn't that something that creates much bigger problems for your party's priorities.

DUFFY: At a time we talk about a $20 trillion debt, as well, that's a big mantra of our party. If you're going to be a fiscal conservative, you should be one every day. I would note that we have to be fair as politicos or reporters on how we analyze this stuff. If I criticize Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama, I should also critic Tom Price. Democrats, if they don't critic Nancy Pelosi, they shouldn't criticize Tom Price. We ought to be fair in our criticism that meets the values of how we see our government, working and operating, and how the resources should be used. For me, I'm going to criticize them both. Let's start saving some money. And we might go $200,000 as chump change, but adding $200,000 here and there, that's real money. It adds up. That could go to Puerto Rico. That could go to Texas or Florida. I shake my head at all of those who are abusing money in the federal government.

[13:45:25] KEILAR: Should a strong message be sent about what it means to have used those funds?

DUFFY: What is unique is that every news outlet has held Tom Price to task, and you have the president, who is frustrated and angry at him. It will hit him in the pocket book. He will pay at least a portion back.

KEILAR: Are you saying like $2 on a 10 spot. DUFFY: If there's travel overseas, that might be a different scenario

than if you are traveling to Nashville or Philadelphia, where there are flight every hour on the hour. Those are two scenarios. You have to look at where's the abuse and where wasn't it. Pay back the abuse. I'm not going to call it. Does this rise to the call of having him fired? No. He made a mistake. He's called it a mistake. He's going to pay it back, and let's move on.

I'm a conservative and a fiscal hawk. I'm going to call him out for it.


DUFFY: He was our budget chairman, and he was writing budgets to save us money. And you get to the administration and your views in plane usage -- I think it sends a wrong message. It looks hypocritical. It is hypocritical. If you are going to stand on principle, you should stand on principle every day as opposed to, one day in the House, and the other at Health and Human Services.

Brianna, I think Secretary Tom Price is a great guy and I think he is doing a great job, and I support him there. He has this wrinkle he has to deal with.

KEILAR: And big struggles in his job at Health and Human Services as Republicans are struggling to repeal Obamacare.


KEILAR: Unfortunately, I don't mean to say that and then say you can't respond.


KEILAR: But that's subjective, right? That has been a struggle for him.

Congressman --


DUFFY: We have a question of Obamacare that falls in the hands of Democrats that we have to fix somehow so poor people don't get left behind

KEILAR: All right. It is a tall order for him or whoever may succeed him as well. We will see how it shapes out.

Sean Duffy --

DUFFY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Congressman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DUFFY: Thank you. KEILAR: The State Department is taking new action after a string of mysterious sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats in Cuba. We will have the details next.

Plus, we are still waiting for a press conference from acting Homeland Security director, Elaine Duke. We will get it to you live. We'll get it to you as soon a begins.


[13:52:04] KEILAR: Americans under attack in Cuba. Now families and other are being pulled out by the State Department for their safety. Americans are being warned not to travel to Cuba.

CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is here with me.

These are, Elise, acoustic attacks aimed at the U.S. embassy. So tell us about this new decision by the State Department.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's very mysterious, Brianna. Twenty-one diplomats and family members have been affected. About 50 separate incidents. And the State Department says it's been investigated with the FBI. They've gone down there. They don't know what it is. They think it's some kind of sonic device that was either inside or outside these diplomats' homes and hotels that they've been staying in. They say the Cubans have cooperated, but that they haven't provided any evidence. So it's basically not protecting their diplomats. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, look, until the Cubans can protect our diplomats, we have to take them home so they're not at further risk. So they're drawing down the embassy to more than 60 percent reduction.


LABOTT: They're not going to be able to give visas anymore in Cuba. And they'll still have a small skeleton staff to help Americans and such, but it's a big drawdown.

KEILAR: They're clearly trying to send a message to Cubans that you need protect Americans. When you're talking about a 60 percent drawdown, what does that do perhaps, you know, to the detriment of relations between the U.S. and Cuba?

LABOTT: That have really improved under President Obama.

KEILAR: That's right.

LABOTT: They had this great opening, and opened up the embassy a couple of years ago. Listen, it's a message to the Cubans that, if you're not going to protect our people, we're leaving.

Look, officials say this has nothing to do with the broader relationship. But it can't help not affecting them. They're telling Americans not to go down there. You have -- they're not going to be able to be providing visas for Cubans. They're going to have to get them in a third country. And essentially, that opening, that exchange of people back and forth, is going to go away. I think it is a big effect to the relationship. Even though that's why the State Department took the move.

I think there are Senators and other lawmakers like Senator Rubio who's been hard on Cuba, has been calling for closures of the embassy, tougher measures. So those people that were upset with that opening between the U.S. and Cuba I think are -- are going to think this is a good idea.

[13:54:24] KEILAR: Elise Labott, thank you for that report on the new move. We appreciate it.

We are standing by for a news conference from the acting Homeland Security secretary. These are live pictures. Hopefully, this is going to start shortly. Elaine Duke, we're expecting her to talk about the crisis there in Puerto Rico. She is under fire as well for her comments.

Plus, "nobody is taking care of us." One sick woman's plea in Puerto Rico. Our doctor, Sanjay Gupta, helps her get to the hospital when no one else can.


RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: -- security, accompanies by a whole host of assets, including the general, who has been leading efforts in designing infrastructure for and working in infrastructure for energy purposes, as well as Admiral Shultz from the Coast Guard.

But, Secretary, thank you very much for being here.

It is really a testament to the commitment of the administration that the secretary of Homeland Security is here with us. We had a briefing with the secretary. Our director of public safety, resident commissioner and myself, were talking about the issues of Puerto Rico, the commitment of the administration, and the vast devastation we've seen in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The secretary listened to us. We've established priorities that we need right now in this emergency. And afterwards, we flew over parts of Puerto Rico where she could see, number one, where the flood plains were, and how that devastation ensued. Number two, in the mountainous regions of Puerto Rico, now the effects of winds and the collapsing of vulnerable housing. And number three, the infrastructure, such as the refinery. We flew over it.

So the secretary had a snapshot of the aftermath in Puerto Rico. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to sit with their assets from the Energy Department, from the OMB office, from TSA. And the administrator is here with us as well. So that we can have a --