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NEW DAY

Tornado Damages Parts of Ohio and Causes Flooding in Oklahoma; President Trump Invokes Kim Jong-un While Criticizing Vice President Biden; Mount Everest Death Toll Rises to 11 Amid Overcrowding. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- above 26,000 feet is a deadly consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 28th, it's 8:00 in the east.

And we do have breaking news. Residents in western Ohio are waking up to serious devastation from an outbreak of tornadoes. This is our first look at the scope of the damage in the Dayton area. This was just shot by our CNN team. This is Celina, Ohio, where a twister touched down overnight.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Two tornadoes struck Dayton's metro area 30 minutes apart late last night. Tens of thousands of people are without power this morning. Dozens of tornadoes have been reported from Colorado to Indiana in just the past 24 hours. There was also historic flooding in Oklahoma and in Arkansas where the Arkansas River is reaching record breaking levels.

So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Ryan Young. Ye is live in Celina, Ohio, for us. What are you seeing at this hour, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey guys, you first arrived here with us, and as we started getting out and started talking to people, we started hearing about how the storm was late last night. If you look through here, you can see how it cut a path, the storm so very powerful. Walk this direction with me. We had a chance to ask the family who lives here whether or not we could be back here, first of all. But if you look here you can see where their kitchen collapsed here. The man who lives here is a firefighter. His wife and kids had to go down to the basement, and they tried to survive this storm. They made it out, they are OK, so did the dog, but they heard the crumbling of this kitchen as it happened.

If you look back this direction, look at the neighbor's home over here. You can see how it just collapsed from the power and pressure of the storm. We were hearing from so many people, they heard the warnings, but they didn't think they were going to get this kind of power coming through this neighborhood.

And just look at this. We noticed this as we were standing over here. Look at this back bedroom right here. We believed everyone in this neighborhood survived, but you can see the power because of the collapsed area of this back room here. We're told everyone in this neighborhood ran to their basement. In fact, listen to this one woman talk about the pressure and the sound of the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET MCGINNIS, CELINA RESIDENT: It was like in the distance a train coming, and I jumped out of bed, put my shoes on, ran into the hallway. I could hear things banging against the apartment, and it was over quick. It was quick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: So you could look from above and see the scenes. We've been shooting drone video since we arrived here. And that's how we decided we could figure out the scope. When we first arrived, it was fairly dark here. That was something that was clear. And then we saw the path more than a half a mile large in terms of the scope of the damage. There are some people who live in this neighborhood who say they cannot believe their house made it through without any damage, and then there's other people who had such damage they are not sure when they will ever be able to get back in their home.

If you look back this direction, here is the real sort of concern at this point right now. Power crews are actually working as we speak, already on the ground trying to get power back up in this area. This is all going on while first responders are standing nearby, talking to neighbors to make sure everyone is accounted for. We are told seven people injured overnight. We are still trying to figure out the overall assessment to make sure no one was killed, but we are told at least three people in serious condition. Guys?

BERMAN: Ryan Young for us in Celina. You have to be so careful when you do return home and start picking through the debris there. You just don't know what could be there. Thanks so much, Ryan.

So this system is wreaking havoc in already flooded areas of the country. Some cities could see their worst flooding ever. Rivers in Oklahoma and Arkansas could rise to record highs today. Our Ed Lavandera is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the very latest. Ed, behind you that looks bad.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You can see that is the Arkansas River, and we are standing about as close as we can get to it, which is probably about 100 yards away from where it should be. But you can see the speed of that current that that Arkansas River is racing through here. We are just south of downtown Tulsa. Many of the riverfront roads have been shut down because of these floodwaters and this river coming out of its bank.

According to the National Weather Service, the river is expected to crest at some point tomorrow, perhaps coming up another foot or so. But the concern is downstream in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, as the Arkansas River winds its way through eastern Oklahoma and it gets into western Arkansas. The floodwaters there are expected to rise another perhaps five to six feet, at least in terms of the cresting of the Arkansas River. So that is a great deal of concern as well.

And all of this water is being released from the Keystone Dam, which is just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. And that has become a gawker place where people are watching the floodwaters being released from that dam, it's become a tourist destination as one of the local reporters here described it, as people have gone over there to see what it looks like, to see that amount of water, 275,000 cubic feet of water being released per second.

[08:05:10] And the concern here, John and Alisyn, is that more rain is in the forecast for later today and tomorrow, which could further complicate things.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Ed. Your shot is incredible and then the aerial shots of the surrounding area are incredible to see all of that flooding. Please keep us posted, Ed Lavandera, thank you.

So President Trump is on his way back to Washington this morning after his trip to Japan where he refused to condemn North Korea's missile testing and repeated Kim Jong-un's attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden. Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates pounced on that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Kim Jong-un is a murderous dictator, and Vice President Biden served this country honorably.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't need to be praising Kim Jong-un or other authoritarian leaders all over the world who Trump is making good friends with.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He care about Donald Trump first, last, and in between, and not protecting the interests of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK. Joining us to talk about this and so much more, we have Frank Bruni, a CNN contributor and "New York Times" op-ed columnist, Jeffrey Toobin CNN's chief legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor and a staff writer for "The New Yorker" -- you have too many titles.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I have too many titles, yes.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's work on that. And Bianna Golodryga, CNN contributor. Great to have all of you here in studio. Frank, do you remember when the Dixie Chicks were ruined for going overseas and criticizing President Bush? And now here is where we are all of these years later where our U.S. president goes on to foreign soil and criticizes a former U.S. vice president and sides with a murderous dictator to criticize that vice president. It is just a stunning moment. There are some things we can gloss over in terms of the president being critical of things. There are some things that we just need to say, time out, let's just see where we are in this moment.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I agree with you that we need to say time out and deplore this, but I don't think it's stunning. This is par for the course for Trump. This is someone who is happy to side with any kind of person in the world, Putin, Kim Jong-un, if it serves his purposes and helps him press a case against someone else. It's a shame Donald Trump wasn't in public office when Pol Pot was around, they could have been fast friends and he could have used him in these ways.

But this is an extension, he was saying during the campaign Putin likes me better than Hillary Clinton, that means I'm better. Right? Now he's saying Kim Jong-un likes me better than Joe Biden, I'm better. It's absurd, it's morally reprehensible, but it's par for the course.

BERMAN: And, Jeffrey, you printed about this. This is part of the norm busting. And I'm not diminishing it by calling it norm busting because I think it's very serious that we've seen before. And as you point out, there is a word that those in the past would have used for this, which is unpatriotic, which is something you don't normally say of a U.S. president.

TOOBIN: And there's a theme to it. It's all the authoritarians that he likes, whether it's in Hungary or Russia or North Korea. He identifies with the authoritarian leaders abroad, not with the democratically elected leaders, like Angela Merkel in Germany whom he doesn't like. This is how he is defining American foreign policy now. I don't know how closely people pay attention to this. He's obviously fixated on making some sort of deal with North Korea. Hasn't gone well so far, but, I agree with Frank, like so much about this administration, it's shocking but not surprising.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And how many Republicans have we heard speak out and condemned this?

CAMEROTA: A couple.

BERMAN: A couple. But not waves. It's not like Lindsey Graham is marching to the White House right now with pickets saying don't do this. But Joni Ernst and Adam Kinzinger.

CAMEROTA: At last count.

GOLODRYGA: And putting despots aside, this does put our allies in sort of a box, too, as we continue going towards the 2020 election because if they speak outwardly -- typically our allies overseas say we don't speak out or we don't get involved in U.S. elections, but this could put extra pressure on them to feel like they have to side with one candidate or the other as we approach 2020, and obviously they are very important international policies that they have got to work through throughout this time.

BRUNI: This sort of thing lends an interesting dynamic to the Democratic primary. You just saw a bunch of Democrats defending the frontrunner. In a normal primary they are all trying to poke holes at each other and gain an advantage. As this primary goes along, will Donald Trump's outrageous behavior mean that Democrats often find themselves united against their rivals rather than trying to seek advantage?

TOOBIN: And what's interesting is that the president seems completely fixated on Biden. He is always attacking Biden now. Will that cause the other candidates to defend them, thus create political problems for themselves.

BRUNI: Which would be great for Biden. Which would mean at the end of the day Donald Trump had done Biden did a great favor without necessarily --

[08:10:00] BERMAN: David Gregory who was on the last couple of hours had a sort of a theory here, which is Joe Biden hasn't been out on the campaign trail for 10 days. He's going out today again. But you don't have to be out on the campaign trail if President Trump is going to talk about you every day and make you the subject that your Democratic rivals are all talking about also.

GOLODRYGA: And he has been talking about it before he even announced, right. In many interviews he had said he is the one to watch and I would love to run against him. But clearly his eye has been on Joe Biden, and I think because -- and for many reasons people have said had he been the candidate in 2016 he would have been able to beat Hillary Clinton -- he would have been able to beat Donald Trump in a way that Hillary Clinton obviously was not there for.

CAMEROTA: And also having Kim Jong-un insult you, you can't buy that kind of P.R. for Joe Biden.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: So that's working for him at the moment. And him laying low on the campaign trail at least in the poll numbers also seems to be working for him at the moment.

BRUNI: I think he feels why should I change my approach, right now the arc of this is really good for me. I do think as we get closer to the primaries if he's doing one event a week it's going to be a problem. It's going to play into Trump's sleepy Joe. It's going to raise questions about whether he can go as hard as fast as he used to. But right now we are so far ahead of the primaries, we're so far ahead of the election, I think if it's not hurting him in the polls why not conserve your energy.

BERMAN: Maybe he will bring a neck pillow on the campaign trail like a candidate we once covered in one of the more famous --

CAMEROTA: Who did that? BERMAN: George W. Bush. Frank wrote an article, a very famous

article back in 2000 when Bush wasn't on the campaign trail as much as the others because it was hard on him.

BRUNI: And he used to travel with feathered pillow from home.

CAMEROTA: And he does like napping.

BERMAN: But we digress.

CAMEROTA: But we are a long way from that nowadays.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, I want to come to you, because you often ask the question, well, what will it matter, because the president won't lose his supporters under any circumstances. I do think when he does things like this with commenting about Vice President Biden overseas like this, he does cap out his possible support and give an opportunity for the Democrats to focus on something other than the economy. If they can make this about values, if they can make this about the president just does things that are offensive to our national ideals, then maybe it is an opportunity.

TOOBIN: It is true that during the 2018 midterms, the suburban moderates, many of them Republicans, went in significant numbers to Democrats. That was a change. The president won a lot of those people in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin. A lot of them went over to the Democrats, and in part one thing you heard from them was they didn't like the way he behaved in office. They didn't like the tweets. So in that respect potentially it might matter.

But in terms of the overall support, we talk about the polls, the approval ratings, they have not moved in any significant way in the two-and-a-half years he has been in office.

CAMEROTA: And Bianna, conventional wisdom says that if it's a good economy, the incumbent, President Trump, will win. I don't know if conventional wisdom applies anymore to anything that we're seeing.

GOLODRYGA: It is a new day.

CAMEROTA: It is a new day, thank you for the branding. However, what we heard Joe Biden say in one of his recent campaign stops was that basically President Trump, he feels, is riding on his and President Obama's coattails. And I think -- I wonder if he's going to be able to make the argument to voters the economy is firing on all cylinders and it will be anyway. It's a good economy. It's not President Trump's Midas touch. It's the economy, and you can do better on character issues with other people.

GOLODRYGA: He can say that it started with us, and "us" being under President Obama and an Obama/Biden candidacy, and during that administration. However, what President Trump has been able to do is articulate almost daily what this economy has done. President Obama and most presidents before him did not. They understood that there were people in this country who were still suffering, who were not being able to afford certain things like healthcare. But when it comes to President Trump a lot of this does spur confidence.

And when you're out there on a daily basis saying, look at what I did with the stock market, look at what I've done with the GDP numbers, go out there and buy a car, go out there and shop, they're willing to stomach even these trade wars, and even some of these cultural issues and values that they're not seeing their president display abroad. They're willing to do that because it makes them feel good about where they are from an economic standpoint. It's going to be very hard for Joe Biden to continue doing that and not giving President Trump any credit.

BERMAN: Bianna, Jeffrey, Frank, thank you all very much.

Another American has died trying to summit Mount Everest. The big concern, just one of them, is overcrowding. CNN's Arwa Damon brings you a report from the Everest base camp where she spoke to a veteran climber who just came down from the mountain. That's next.

CAMEROTA: Also coming up, you have to hear our conversation with one of the rescuers who found that hiker who was lost for 17 days in a Hawaiian forest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't help myself. I already called her. I was one trillion percent sure it was her. I was like we found her, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: He will explain how they found her and show she's doing now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:02] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He will explain how they found her and show she's doing now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Another American climber has died climbing Mt. Everest. That raises the death toll to 11 people this year alone. Experts are blaming inexperienced climbers and overcrowding for the deaths on the world's highest peak.

CNN's Arwa Damon traveled to the base camp at Mt. Everest where she filed this report for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have just arrived to Everest base camp and I have to say even at this altitude, even without being anywhere near to the summit, you really feel the impact of the decreased oxygen levels.

The scenery here is absolute spectacular. You really understand what the draw is. If you look that way, that's the ice fall that is so famous.

[08:20:01] It's what the climbers first have to go through to get to camp one and then, of course, as they move on up through the different camps and the different stops, trying to reach what is the one main goal that unites everybody here, and normally this entire area at this peak of the season is covered in tents.

What you have right now behind me is just a few tents that have been left, there are cleanup crews, still a handful of climbers that are down there, some of the last ones to come down from the summit on what has been an especially devastating hiking season for the summit of Everest because of the level of fatalities and because of the issues that arose from all of this backlog that took place, the photographs of the long lines of people waiting inside the Death Zone, called that because the levels of oxygen there are so low.

Every breath you take in the Death Zone only gives you a third of the oxygen that you would get at sea level. So you have to be climbing with oxygen tanks. So these long waiting hours may have contributed to the deaths that we did see, at least to most of them.

And a lot of these climbers aren't dying on the way up. You can make it to that goal, you can make it to the summit. It's when you come back down, that's when people's bodies tend to succumb to altitude sickness.

A lot of debate right now as to whether or not Nepal needs to be doing more to regulate the number of permits, to regulate who goes up, what level of experience they have. There has been a lot of criticism about inexperienced climbers going up, but there's also a burden of responsibility on the individual. Yes, this is such a challenge, it is such a goal that is really going to push you mentally and physically to the limit, but all of the climbers we are talking to are saying you really need to know how to listen to your body and just being there right now one really feels the effect of the lower levels of oxygen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: All right. So, Arwa just got back from base camp. She was only able to spend two hours there because of the affects on the body as she was describing. She then flew back to Kathmandu in Nepal and that's where she joins us now.

So, Arwa, your experience -- I mean, just for those two hours gives us a window into the conditions that these hikers have to contend with. So, just tell us about how your body started kind of shutting down as you were trying to report on this.

DAMON: You know, I think it might be a bit clear from that clip that you were playing, but I was struggling to formulate sentences, to find words, because your brain feels like it's completely slowed down as well. But when you get to that attitude, I mean, I felt like an elegant had decided to sit on my chest. And then the minute you get used to standing still you think, I can move around, you take a few steps and your head starts spinning. So, you have to be really careful about where you're going, what

you're doing, your fingers start to tingle very quickly because that's the body trying to conserve what oxygen it can, trying to conserve getting that blood flowing just to what's critical, critical organs in your body and then one of the experts who was with us was telling us that your toes can also go numb, people's noses can go numb. We had taken oxygen with us just in case.

But because of the affects of the altitude we also didn't move around very much. I mean, towards the end of our two-hour stay there, we did go down from that higher helicopter landing pad that we were at down to talk to some of the climbers who were there. And if that's the affect that we're feeling at base camp, what they're feeling higher up as they're getting closer to the summit is, of course, a lot more significant.

One of these climbers, she is just 17 years old but she was talking about how difficult it is to try to break through your brain is screaming at you to just stop, turn back and that's part of the challenge of summiting Everest, but that's also what makes it so dangerous because some people push through that barrier, but they push too far and people don't die when they are on their way up to the summit, they really end up succumbing to altitude sickness when they are on their way back down.

But it was really striking to be there and see how quickly one's body is affected. I should quickly say, though, that when the climbers are going to base camp, they are not taking a helicopter, they are actually doing a 10 to 14-day hike and they acclimatize along the way.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Arwa, you said you talked to climbers. What did they tell you about what they had seen on their way down from the summit?

DAMON: So we had talked to a 17-year-old girl and her father and he was talking about how he was, you know, worried, obviously, he's taking his daughter up with him and she's got this challenge that she's putting herself through, which is to do all seven summits on the seven continents before she turns 18. But then they were talking about how when they were going up, they were going past the bodies of some of the people who have died.

[08:25:02] And her father said that he was worried because he didn't know how that was going to affect her. She says that she looked, she acknowledged, but then she used it as inspiration to keep going because she didn't want to end up like them.

We spoke to the very experienced Sherpa who had taken them up and he was talking about how -- because he took a number of climbers up this season -- he was talking about how often other climbs he would see people really struggling, he said I felt so bad for them, they didn't belong on this mountain, they were pushing themselves too hard.

And he said for the most part, they are the ones who aren't going to make it. And so, amongst those who have experience, there is this sense of frustration and concern with the inexperience of some of the other people that are putting their bodies through something that they are quite simply not ready for.

BERMAN: Arwa Damon for us in Kathmandu in Nepal -- thank you so much for doing this reporting and telling these stories for us going truly where almost no one else will go. Appreciate it.

Joining me now is someone who has summited Mt. Everest six times and just came back from base camp on the Tibetan side. Veteran climber and guide David Morton joins me now live from Tibet.

David, thank you so much for being with us.

Eleven people have died on Everest this season. This is the highest since 2015 and that was an avalanche year, it was an avalanche that killed most of the people then.

Why do you think the deaths this year are happening?

DAVID MORTON, VETERAN CLIMBER & GUIDE: You know, it's really -- it's a complicated mix of factors which your reporter pointed out. There's -- this year, there was -- it was very obvious there was a very short, short weather windows. That was one of the biggest problems so people were all going up in a very condensed time period, two, three days, especially the one day where we all saw the picture of.

So, that was one of the biggest factors. It's also there's no question that there is inexperienced. There is a lot of inexperienced operators supporting the climbers, a lot of inexperienced climbers themselves. And when you bring those two factors together, Nepal government is not doing a good job limiting the numbers of people at all.

And so, when you do have a year when the weather windows gets so tight, you see it's glaring right in front of you, you see these pictures when there's that many people stuck together on one day trying to go to the summit and there's a lot of inexperience. You don't see it blow up quite as significantly as you do in a year like this.

BERMAN: We're looking at some of those pictures that you're describing of a traffic jam near the summit of Mt. Everest. How dangerous is that to be caught more or less unable to move when you might be, you know, 1,000 feet away from the top of the tallest mountain in the world?

MORTON: You know, looking at those pictures, I mean, it's sad and it's scary and it's disturbing. That being said, I do believe that it needs to be avoided and the only way that can be avoided is the Nepal government limiting the number of people and having a better coordination. At the same time, I do believe that the people if there was more experience and more experience among the climbers themselves, knowing their bodies, having been at altitude before as well as the operators logistically understanding they can't all go the same day, they need more oxygen on days like that.

You should be able to avoid fatalities. Those are avoidable, even on days when it's crowded like that. But it should not be that crowded in the first place.

BERMAN: It does seem like more and more people want to challenge themselves to try to summit Mt. Everest for some reason. What's your message? You've done six times and you're a guide.

What do people need to know who might have this itch?

MORTON: You know, I think that we -- I mean, I think as guides over half the expeditions I've been on, this was my tenth this season, I've been guiding and I think that there needs to be -- I think that guides have gotten to a point where they've been able to enable people without much experience to get up to the top of something like Mt. Everest and oxygen has a lot to do with that. Without it, it would be tiny numbers of people that were climbing Mt. Everest.

And so, I think that just because it can be done I think it doesn't mean that it should be done. I think that people need to really look within themselves and decide how experienced they really are and how -- if they really want to be that close to the edge out there without enough experience to sort of take care of themselves, when things really go wrong. It's when things go wrong, whether it's the weather and there is a huge storm or whether you get stuck in lines like that where things can really go badly quickly.

And without the experience of having been at altitude and in storms and mountains a lot, people just -- you know, they -- they can't put up with the factors that hit them in those circumstances.

BERMAN: Is it any better on the Tibetan side, David?

MORTON: You know, the Tibetan government, the Tibetan Chinese government is getting -- is much more proactive in terms of limiting numbers. They do have a cap on a number of people. It hasn't even reached that number.

I think it's 150 foreigners. On the Nepal side, you are seeing closer to 400 foreigners. So, there's significantly less people. There were two deaths on the north side this year and there were nine on the south side. That is a huge factor.

When we were up, I was on a research project, we were up over 8,000 meters for four.

END