The Briefing Room: FEMA preps for Hurricane Florence ahead of Friday morning landfall

FEMA prepares for Hurricane Florence while calling $10M fund transfer to ICE a "non-issue," Trump claims he received "A pluses" for Hurricane Maria response and FiveThirtyEight gives Senate forecast.
19:27 | 09/12/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: FEMA preps for Hurricane Florence ahead of Friday morning landfall
The country right now bracing for a major hurricane while the president through his statements and bluster here in Washington fueling some political storm. Of his own I'm Mary Alice park's genetic colleague just in official. Alley Rogen and special guest today again two days in a row welcome to the briefing room I'm boxer eighty news contributor. And former secretary of Homeland Security. The department the agency that. That does so much federal disaster response important alimony or. Well that's for later. Time yesterday the president was really confident talking to reporters and the American people said the country was totally prepared as prepared as anyone has ever been. Burger king of this magnitude is political risk O aura or an actual risk to sending a message like that or is this what the country needs to hear. Well look a little bit about race that you want the president to strengthen note that you want the rest of emergency measures to strike take this seriously. Don't look at this is if it's not really a problem and thinking yourself into trouble subtly meant to send the message that you should says watches on he would not take precautions. Personal accountability is just that that's the message and theme of the day is an emergency managers and FEMA director's all of those beneath them are making that point. I think what the president wanted to do was reassure the American people that from his vantage point those federal agencies are poised to help that doesn't mean this is going to be. Easy doesn't mean it won't be messy and also unfortunately doesn't mean. He knows it's a big political issue hurricanes have and you were with him during one of the worst hurt and pain seasons on record. How was he responding right now what's com I'm thing. Well you know he's taking it seriously and by that I mean he's dedicating time and personal attention terrorists have. Presidents at the deli a lot of things right now he's dead on his mind he's watching the coverage of it he's taken the phone calls and a time in the meeting space and the clear you schedules thing that's important. But when he does that with the bluster look he's he is who is president trump he's got a lot of confidence in himself and his team he's gonna cheer lead for them. I don't think that should be taken as him saying a word about this we've got it there's a lot of hard days ahead of us a lot of frustration. There's this big push for evacuations. About a million people under mandatory evacuations have been hearing it from governors and mayors get out of dodge. When I have people that really struggled to a vacuum it don't have cars their own places to go. What responsibility in local government the federal government have to help some. Those people yet so look the first and foremost responsibility here is not only on individuals but those state and local authorities and volunteer organizations the federal government ultimately gets a lot of attention to provides very little support in this regard. So even the shelters that are authorized by the federal government in some case is funded by them. Our Ron is certified by local volunteer organizations even the red crosses are alike credit Salvation Army and others like that so. Right now there are services available but the federal government doesn't provide services that individuals until after. This has reached a point where it's exceeded the state locals collective capability in the president's issued an emergency but not major disaster declaration yet so. You'll see some volunteers mean I can see a lot of federal resources for people. Just scary time there has to be. I'm Tyler I want to ask W Hazmat another story that's making a lot of headlines lot of bias. Overnight organ senator Jeff Merkley was out. Overnight in this morning accusing this administration of moving finds ten million dollars from theme response to. To ice to immigration services and saying that this. This moving of the mighty coincided with Matt zero tolerance policy separating children from parents at the border. Ali I know you've been researching this and all more eighties sort of creep dramatic headlines. This morning we had a director on the ring America responding to listen to what he had to say nasty that what you thought let's listen. The ten million the funds that were move from FEMA to life says that. Affect your preparations at all the loss of that that that money. Now not at all it's just an attempt to divert away from the life safety issues Florence or does not come out of the disaster relief fund. That funds everything behind me that funds everything in the field so it's it's a non issue for us at this moment. So a non issue Alley in his right. Yes this is ten billion Steve me ten million dollars came from FEMA operational budget and so that his administration. It administrative cost. Senator Hartley called this a scandal but it may actually be more of a case of bureaucratic sausage making these serf fines that are totally separate from a 25 billion dollar disaster relief fund that also exists that is separate from that's in. Thomas and off camera that it may actually be a lot harmony and that. And also the other thing to keep in mind is yes ten million dollars sounds like a lot of money because it is a lot of money if it not dealing with disaster. Exactly and mean you consider giving that money to Puerto Rico recovery efforts would be a huge boon how ever. This is again money that was never meant to be spent directly on disaster relief so. Anthony home acting now some are necessary it's not and denial of those services this is a totally different bucket of money on your advisor in this White House. Is this political spinners as the real story it's. Political spin the department on a security has an over forty billion dollar annual budget so put in perspective we're not talking about ten million compared to the disaster relief fund or even a theme as one billion dollar appropriations we're talking about internal moving of money. In a forty billion dollar as a. So we get back the agreement that may not be that the scandal here but. I think what's what's rubbing people the wrong ways he's the comments from yesterday the. This is an on some success that's just your just taking. A pass I think that they are. An end and giving up eight plus graves for a mystery group of people that happened. It. Let's tell people yesterday were just as a screeching at the White House the president was asked about the White House is response to. The disaster in Puerto Rico a year ago in response to hurricane Maria he said it was an unsung six men accused six asked Reagan into more leader but used and in a political Twitter battle with the mayor of San once again. What do you guys make of this town was it an unsung successes and Puerto Rica. Yep absolutely and here's the thing there's a lot of empathy that we need to put behind this answer saw try to do that very quickly. There's loss of life the suffering continues their work conditions that were deplorable and Parikh that predate the storm that require. A whole lot of extra attention that when normally accompany a storm and its recovery. But the actual mobilization and logistics effort that went into sending in federal. And volunteer resources into that island and actor query it was not only huge effort was unprecedented and it was well run. And it saved a lot of lives and of course demon that's out infractions were different from suggesting. That we've gotten ourselves a year to date back into a position in which things are or run Rosie in eureka effect it's had more than. Ten years to recover after Katrina and so there's a whole sense of moving goalposts of what the president's trying and credit hour. And that's the trying to make a publicly he's not compassionate. While I think he didn't look too can. He talks about success and he doesn't some of these 83% of residents reported kinds of Russian who has pulled him out this week. That their lives were dramatically. Impacted. I'm plane sent back threatening health problems damaged homes pat lots are probably three and metal every single resident. You can talk about the extent that there was an instant response when it was called themselves so much hurt so much loss of life is. And Nixon have. Look a little cold I think you know or findings. I think that's fair but you know it's it's like the nomenclature issue we just talked about a moment ago it sounds like a ten million dollar scandal first if they dig into it learned the scale. And the context of it when you talk about the nomenclature here we separate the mitigation planning. From the response effort the lifesaving effort that we're gonna mobilize here for Florence and conversely. What would mobilize for Puerto Rico right after the storm. And then we talk about recovery separately. The recovery efforts are played with bureaucracy and slowness and distrust among contractors and people that spend public money and on behalf of public. Elected officials were there to put trust measures in place and so at this point it's almost a no win game for him but he's I think rightfully proud of what he mobilized to respond in due life saving this eureka it's a total credit for I think maybe. He's been probably. And at times and bring the beginning of what you say I was I wanna puts an empathy behind the presidency. I think just underscores that it's got to be frustrating for the folks that are communicating these things with in the White House. To make the points. That Tom is making. And the nest the points of the president's. I'd I don't wanna be belabor this but I am sorry it's interactive. There's been a lot time Puerto Rica and with the people of Puerto Rico and with the governor and they need to know that my experience the president does have that behind the scenes off camera empathy for them. He sent me down there are alive and what they're dealing with I would report back to him content. It's he does have that sense the nation here that. And I want to bring in more are calling everywhere assignment this today in rather logical the wrong when he raised a lot of eyebrows. And Democrats on Capitol Hill Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was demanding an apology from the president. I want to bring in John Parkinson our colleague up there John act. Why has the response been to the president's comments on Puerto Rico and our lawmakers gonna continue to push among this you know we haven't seen that much oversight. I'm the response from our break up there really upset as the more they should be doing. Yeah the Democrats have really been you know condemning the president's comments and spoke with Steny Hoyer the house democratic whip today. He's very critical of the president's comments that this is an unsung SaaS. I'm I think from the other Democrats and I talked to GK Butterfield yesterday a Democrat from North Carolina ahead of the storm. And while he's bracing for its landfall he tells me that he's pretty confident what the first responders have done for preparations. He wants to get out of the way let them do their job and then when he sees problems come up that's when using a step in the conduct that oversight. And so in the next few days are you expecting lawmakers to be out there be be in front of the cameras are as as a moment where they released I'd take a backseat like he's Nazareth that it is their way to support. Local authorities from behind the scenes. Yeah I you know some some Republicans and Democrats I talked with yesterday down in south and North Carolina. They just told me that they want to be able to be a means of communications to their constituents. When the first responders need to get a message out. They want to be able to use the third reach to their constituency. To help convey that message and the really underscoring really the dangers of the storm right. We might see a couple of inches of rain in the first couple of days but. This is something that's gonna have impact for. For weeks on end and now the really concern that even just a couple of inches could cause widespread damage and widespread flooding. I would John stick with us because we're gonna say that the politics and know you have no shortage of thoughts and opinions on that and when it. They write to Don lancer ABC news contributor former advisor there at the White House and you wouldn't think you still its earliest it with your politics to stick around that recchi chitchat at the time they use alleged. Before we're gonna like you know at this offered the use staking out here I want to hate athlete hot and 538. My kids how land. Out with some big news today from our friends over 530 a new forecast about. This that we are under sixty days to those mid term elections and work here's what all you guys over there at the radiator spank. What is the likelihood that you'd in the senate could maybe flip control. Yet in mid terms are coming up that right so we launched our senate forecast today that shows Democrats which one in three chance of winning a majority. That obviously get Republicans about it two in three chance of keeping it. And I was struck not only eight by we would let's bring that grabbing a boomer time. But is really interesting to me here is the high probability. Of a 5050 split talking about whether or not that is possible. Yet it's very possible I mean this on it those evenly divided now and you have sort of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object this years in that. The environments it's so good for Democrats. But some senate map is so good for Republicans. And those two at the moment according to our forecast. Are canceling each other out of and you end up with sort of just you know a tie in again you eat you could get in that case of course the vice president. Mike Pence would would break it and Republicans would keep the majority. Read the last time we how to split like that was in 2001. And we had a lot of jostling over chairmanships and that does what to do it how to handle that I think you're right it's important to remind people that this map was so favorable. For Republicans this year Alley was both to be. A lifeboat in a wave for Republicans that they would only be defending a handful of seats whereas Democrats would be having to defend. Double digits eight Derrick hand Democrats who are defending their seats in states that the president want. And yet somehow we are still talking about a possibility. Grant 31 in three chance possibility of Democrats. Taking that chamber what do you make of that what is going on here where the map to be so Ferrell for Republicans but Democrats. Seem to be camp and how it's actually it's unbelievable because I don't think anybody would have thought at the beginning of this section. That this is where we would be now just yesterday senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was in Kentucky. Talking very honestly about the fact that. Some of those senate races including some of the ones you were talking about that's ten states the Democrats are present that president trump wine including. North Dakota West Virginia he called the Indiana he called is dead even. In addition to places where Republicans efforts were supposed to be a little their kids were supposed to be. Almost a foregone conclusion including Tennessee. Arizona the Democrats there are very seriously in play and that that is my with pain have huge implications for with a bounce Howard means in this and it taxes yet. Let us and I made my name the four passes I haven't model from back that he shows beat over the democratic challenger to Ted Cruz. But about three in ten chance. Beating and that senator there from Texas. Now three intact obviously so still not likely still not savored according to your modeling but still going to be but that's gonna get a lot of attention. Talked about some about that rates of some of the other red states. Yeah it's actually a bit surprised that models. Was not bullish. The democrats' chances taxes. Mean part of the big thing going on there is if you look at how much money auto Rourke has raised. It is a pond. And and fund raising has historically been a decent predictor of how of how well these candidates do I mean we all know that Texas. Has gotten more purple over the years but I think you have a chance where. Those changes are combining weight the good national environment for Democrats. Combined with they have a really good candidate down there. And up and altogether it's it's getting them an outside chance here I would not outside one and three is a pretty good chance. And apple gets love John there talking to us from capitol help but tell us what your impressions have banned from. Lawmakers is therein anxiety that they're feeling the day you've seen Republican lawmakers feel worried about the possibility of both chambers slipping in November. Why haven't heard is much anxiety about the senate flipping I think that you know this forecast today is in. Put a little new fear in in the Lott senate Republicans. But certainly in the house there's no widespread concern there from house Republicans. That the majority is is RD gone. Much talked to one member a couple days ago who you know didn't want to be identified but he did tell me that he thought there's a lot of trouble. That it's it's not looking good at this point even. You know fifty days outer little more than it. They're kind of right in an off and so I think that as much as they can they're looking to grasp that some these singular seats in just kind of you know do as little damage they can to the majority. Well Tommy appreciate your insights there from Capitol Hill you know we started talking about a storm and I think we typically end with another storm. Stain and never any pain area. I certainly can't else was on the view today one of those women who is accused the president of and a fear. And and accused had accused a mile long and actively working to try to silence her and her story. She brought a personal response. It's describing the moment she found out. That Michael Connelly and the president's former personal lawyer. Had said in court that he was directed or working with the president to actively try to keep her story from coming out. So let's listen in let's watch that moment on the beating out autos and. Because indicate diet. Was so overwhelming just broke down in the sobs because I didn't realize how much pressure I felt you know people probably all kinds names and who cares. But to be called a liar and it will not believe me for months and months and months. Had really against Tulsa and it was just so. Lake yes vindicated just so I just felt like all those making off specialist. And as you know Travis has how does it feels that now know that the world knows. That you've been telling the truth. And it's not just that. It's that the president we've just learned is not going to enforce the non disclosure that he made he hatter sot. Which means she's free to tell her story. They seem kinda joked that she RD screen and welcome. Course of course but now I mean now that that's a huge burden off her shoulders that the huge legal burden off for children though. Sudden we've got a book cover out everyone and poised to do. New sentencing between stormy and the other people who have recently written a book as she wasn't in the White House and so I think that's going to meet a big difference in terms of the people who can come out and question her integrity or say. Well that's not how she said it in XYZ meeting. Because this doesn't include. Anything that happened within the White House palace. Entry into your point that this her story is out there. And I think in terms of what political damage this may. Put on the president I don't know I don't see I see that damages have been largely done already. In the joke to the end of that interview about her attorney Michael and I hate potentially running for president. What do you think there isn't really make a be responding where he's going. Pretty well I mean he's certainly. Right stylistically he could be an interesting counterpart to the president by thirteen a lot of other candidates like him fizzle out I'd say this I think he. He I know he's taking this seriously he's having meetings he's he's getting advice on how to run his campaign and I think that. He me he. It represents an interesting rhetorical sort of counterweight to the president how serious it actually is is planning a time to find that out but. State. We'll see. He is making waves per share I Mary Alice parks they may just additional an Alley Rogen. Thanks for watching the briefing room with the back here tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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