Transcript for SPECIAL REPORT: President Trump makes first on-camera remarks on Hurricane Harvey ahead of Texas visit
This is an ABC news special. George Stephanopoulos. Good afternoon we're coming on the air right now because president trump has just entered the eastern of the White House where you can address the devastation of hurricane Harvey White House. We've just concluded a very positive meeting and I want to begin today by extending. My thoughts and prayers for those affected by. Hurricane hardly. And the catastrophe. Of flooding and all of the other difficulties that they currently going through in Houston. In southeast Texas. And now it's looking. More and more like the state of Louisiana will be also affected. My administration is coordinating closely with state and local authority is. In Texas and Louisiana to save lives or we thank our first responders. And all of those involved. In their efforts. We're working directly with Texas governor. Greg Abbott who by the way is doing a fantastic job. And his entire staff likewise. As well as with governor John Bell Edwards whose. Very much involved in starting the process. Of Louisiana. We pledge our full support as Texas and Louisiana. Battle an recover from this very devastating. And historic storm this probably never been anything. Like this. Under the supervision. Of FEMA. Administrator brought along. There has been. I had tremendous amount of work done he is. He has been so outstanding and so many ways more than 8500. Federal workers are involved. In the Texas. Effort. Allowed. I've also today declared emergencies. In Louisiana. At the request of governor Edwards. Recovery will be a long and difficult road and the federal government. Stands ready. Willing and able to support that effort. Right now the single most important thing is the safety. And security of those still in harm's way. Including the first responders. Who have been so terrific. And brave. Protecting the lives of our people is my highest priority every asset at my command. Is at the disposal of local officials. Tragic time such as these bring out the best and America's character. Strengths charity. And resilience. Are those characters. We see neighbor helping neighbor friend helping friend and stranger. Helping stranger and you see that. All of you watch on television you just see such incredible work and love. And teamwork. We are one American family we heard together we struggle together. And believe me we endured together we are one family. To the people of Texas. And Louisiana. We are 100%. With you. We're praying for you are working closely with your leaders and officials. And I'll be visiting the impact zone to mark to ensure that you're receiving. Full support and cooperation. From the federal government that on Saturday we think we're going back to Texas and also we will be. Going to Louisiana. Nothing can defeat the unbreakable spirit of people of Texas. And Louisiana right now every American heart sends its love and support to those whose lives have been up ended totally up and totally. By this. Very horrible storm. We ask god for his wisdom and strength. We will get through this we will come out stronger. And believe me we will be bigger better stronger than ever before. The rebuilding will begin and end the end. It will be something very special I just want to thank everybody. In the affected area because it has been. Absolutely incredible to watch this spirit of cooperation in the low. I would also like to share a message to the people of Finland. Who have recently suffered a terrorist attack in terms crew. District is present there encouragement support for the people of Texas and Louisiana east at a press conference the president can win and come back to that when they take questions but right now wanna go to Houston. We're talking Imus is on the scene right now has been there all through the weekend town we see the rain. Continue to come down president says this is going to be a long hard and difficult road and they are far from out of the woods yet. George good afternoon the president did mention there's a lot of love right now but there's also a lot of pain here in Houston a want to show you this striking image. Just behind me is the outskirts of downtown Houston were next to the buffalo. By U. And you can not tell where the river just volume witnessed YU starts. And we're downtown ends because it is all completely flooded. Now because of Vista with all the search teams from New York to California and everywhere in between it's just not enough. So neighbors are now being forced to help neighbors there's been a public call for annual with the boat. To get out of that boat and to help rescue their fellow residents we were out on the water yesterday with a pair of Brothers are going. House White House trying to save as many people as they can and it just 1 evening they had don't want implied that story rescues. Carrying multiple families at a time when the boat that is probably just. Fifteen to 23 to very small boat. But that's what's new right now we were just on the highway trying to get to another played out neighborhood and it's not just neighbors it's completely. It's complete strangers we flattened this guy down because yet. A big rig pick up truck. We were able to get to the back we went to a woman's house for failing was worried because her world was gonna collapse which she refused to go to a shelter because one she couldn't get out of a house and two she has still intact so there are still were several story still developing here the president is right that we talked about that what America family there is a lot of love your door people that are helping others helping complete strangers but that's what's needed because George as you can see this rain just does not do. Not stopping over 2000 rescue so far then we can continue to climb. And victory Canas in the George Brown convention center there in his which has become a Red Cross relief sent to the people keep on pouring in Victor. George evacuees continue to come in here by the busload the latest numbers. 3900 people checked in and accounted for here at the convention center in Houston Texas they come in. Cold tired hungry we just spoke to win who's walking in holding her three month old baby carrying him he was shivering. We caught up with her right there at the check in desk right behind me that's where they're registering with the Red Cross. The lines are certainly back up quite a bit once they register he actually walked right into the room. To the left here where they're able to get some dry clothes some food and some water and medical attention if they needed. The good news the donations here have been pouring in the community here in Houston. Has responded however there is an urgent need here. For social workers for nurses. And more volunteers that's what the Red Cross is asking for here in Houston at the number of evacuees continues to grow. Capacity here 5000 people again at last check there are 3900. George they say that if they do reach capacity there are other shelters in the area. Thank goodness for that I could return to come back to right now whether chief meteorologist ginger zee engine even sounding the alarms. All weekend long about how serious this storm is I think a lot of people are still wondering. How could a hurricane that lost street so quickly do this much damage. Right and that's the thing hurricane or tropical storm can do a lot of damage no matter what strength it hits flip if it sticks around this is a function of time. Geography. And lack of steering there is nothing to kick this storm out so let me take you to the map right now George. Tornado watch in place that of course has been one of the threats and one of the things that we've seen do major damage for much of southern Louisiana. But that shield of rain that you sought Tom standing in is still heavy for Houston. The storm itself is back in the Gulf of Mexico this is not good because that is eight you'll center. Heat and moisture where can still strengthen the next couple of days just a little should stay at tropical storm but either way it has all that rain with it self. We still have Houston getting another six to twelve inches of rain on top of what they've already had we've seen places. At nearly forty inches so we're adding that on top suite will see places to close to fifty. The heaviest thing going into Louisiana please see that accumulated rainfall it is not just used to now want to bring that end. It is all areas shaded in white that had seen twenty to third. The point right there you've got to sit in area something like 5560. Square miles. There's been completely flooded were used to flooding but not over that big an area. And when it's fat pay and it rains into the rivers and creeks in the buy is those not just drained for days but for weeks so once the rain does stop for Houston stay in the next 24 to 36 hours. We'll still see flooding there because it's gonna come downstream. And the president talked about going to lose again he spoke with the governor of Louisiana as well. As the storm goes through the golf what can they expect. Louisiana already has picked up in some places that far south southwest corner a considerable amount now they are in those outer bands and we go back to the radar you can actually see. Those outer bands fueling flash flood warnings in Lafayette the next couple of days watch the timing here. That's him with a little more quickly for them but not quick enough I think they could easily picked up in some of those places twenty to 25 inches there you see it nor Allen's getting rain certainly Lake Charles and laugh. Dan and I started as the greatest danger going forward and took the reins number one tornadoes second. Okay we're learning keep an eye and the president right now and the president two in the middle as they do I don't go back to Tommy honest. In tea in Texas right now in time we heard from the governor of Texas 121000 National Guard now deployed. No receipt of all over the highways we see them in the flooded out neighborhoods but Georgia got to tell you what changes said was incredibly chilling because. As we talk about the rain out how it doesn't stop looking just behind me and there's a vicious Tug of war going on some of the flooded out neighborhoods. The floodwaters recede but that with all this rain ends up coming back. And it and never have waited a second time with this double whammy as ginger mentioned and that the that really scared me for a couple reasons one. These people been hunkered down in their home for several days now. Without how work so the food any food they had he's gonna start to rot. And if they're gonna have to be there for at least two more days. Things could get really ugly here and really scary very fast and return to the danger situations in the hospitals as well. Yet that's true we we've had reports of all hospitals tried to evacuate and they were unable to because the roads were still flooded and also losing several resources. We don't know about. Political life resources just yet but we are seeing reports of several hospitals having some some severe problems that we you have a hospital full of patients. Trying to get around here is impossible George just trying to drive somewhere that takes you usually ten minutes is taking us and our sometimes more book tour and you can't and that. The sense we have OK we want to go back to that an east room of the White House now the president is about to take questions from the press and I'm wondering what you can tell the people of Texas to expect in terms of long term recovery efforts. And in particular you've been feuding with some. He congressional leaders you've also. Threatened the government shut down potentially next month over border wall funding. Are these going to hamper long term than did the funding will be needed long term for recovery. No doubt I think that you're gonna see very rapid action from congress certainly from the president. And dad you're gonna get your funding it's a terrible tragedy. Your governor has been. Absolutely outstanding and of the job he's done in this entire staff. And I will say that I just spoke with Greg and he is. Working like 24/7. We expect to have requests on our desk fairly soon and we think that congress will feel very much the way I feel. There in a very bipartisan way that'll be nice but we think you're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast Texas is a unique place. It's a great great state great people and I think you'll be up and running very very quickly. Really very quickly so. Yeah I think you're going to be in fantastic ship I've already spoken to congress and everybody. Fields who you would feel so what you're going through but at the same time they have great respect even additional respect for the state. Because you've handled so well so brilliantly but it's a long road still pouring. Still a lot of rain nobody is ever seen anything like it they I've heard the words expect I've heard historic. That's what it is. But you'll have. What you want I think very very quickly. And drug you can ask a question to the presidential thank you think did does this situation make you reconsider. The possibility of a government shutdown. Next I think it has nothing to do it literally I think this is separate this is gonna go. Really very very quickly again I've spoken to many of the people were talking about. And everybody feels the same way I do. And thank you and Mr. President I wanted to ask you your neighbor Russia has metal in US politics. They have a military exercise coming up next few weeks. In the Baltic there are tensions over there what kind of advice have you offered and can you offer to the United States. In dealing with this adversary. So are we are not feeling you know sell excess advised us thoughts BR feeling. Always selves so do we pull. What is possible to maintain peace. And that is what we are doing it Baltic Sea area to. They have we'd actually. You refer to different cargo military. Training which is going to happen there I have to tell you about them a couple of weeks ago I met Christian school team. And they're very media interest to you do you know. Why didn't Chinese. Navy's. Having a train. To cut over the Russians in Baltic Sea area. Hootie Johnson wrote two you dias not look it's not against anybody. My so close that we are also trading in Baltic Sea. We've that United States and Sweden. Added he's not a book it's not against anything. So we have two. Doesn't course in U accidental. Programs because we know that from accidents might grow what's have a and bodies flying. I think it's important that we continue to move we've made toe. Two you know on Smart costs it. Dialogue between Russia and NATO ITT's. Scornful of it. Fetus prove. He proved costly company verio RO OK. Thank you missed a precedent. I have question to help president trump if I'm may asks president niece that told he's been raising that you CO filed the the security situation. In the Baltic read the region on this pulled XE specifically. And has being concerned about the Russian planes flying there without transponders on. So my question to you Mr. President would be. Mystic from what you've gone cedar roster as a security threat. Thank you are like. Senator many countries as a security threat unfortunately when you look at what's going on of the world today as you know a few weeks ago are. Great vice president Mike Pence whose right here. Was in the region and dad spent quite a bit of time there. We consider that a very very important part of the world. We have great relationships there we have a great relationship with Finland. And so I would consider many. Countries' threats but these are all threats it will be able to handle if we have two hopefully we won't have to handle them but if we do we will handle that. And I have a follow up us he had also. The so if the situation in the Baltic birch escalate. What looked to you this be ready to do in that unfortunate circumstance we're. Very protective of that region that's all I can say we have very very protective we have great friends there are great. Relationships that we are extremely protective. Thank you so. A question for the president. Yes. No between. Sometimes he do you have a question for the president do you have a question for the president. To but somebody else can you don't have to. But at fifty mr. president's. London idea from Finland. Did you speak about climate change at all. And what about your mister president meanest of initiative about cleaning up with the Arctic and doing it together with the United States. We'll try to response video idea received here in Washington DC. We discussed a lot about a black car. Until between explained whom everybody. What happens he's from the atmosphere of black car phone called us the Arctic. And we know what happens when the sun shine needs black. It melts. Eyes. And the problem is not only our peak if we loose the Arctic we lose the crow. That is the reality so weak month must fight that goes those conditions. Separating. Black carbon I and stood the United States he's going to. With the team half. And tip we know that our Carbone source these are a lot of them in Russia. They are old fashioned. Energy plans. Producing heat team. The other problem is flaring. You know cut. You know will teach they flare up. The extra costs. And give Maltese cute. Unity and a cleric forty times more than treatment assessments. Cuts. So if we gun. And to be here come social. Business. To feature. It would vehicle would be just needs to read you those old fashioned flats. To make more we have less energy. It you would be the bee's knees to scope for Hillary to take use. Both at Gus which he snow and courtly. Until I think that of these elements are shots that we can't continue discussing. You know arc to console we look. Terry TDs children she form United States and two we continue the work. We are very good discussions in particular on the Arctic and black carbon. And I think we have. Much in agreement. One of the things we also agree and we want crystal. Clean water. And we want clean air the cleanest ever very important cell. We have a lot of agreement. John Roberts years. Mr. President thank you so much president need to stop have a question for you was while benefactor Serb president trump. In the middle of a hurricane Harvey hitting on Friday night you chose to pardon former sheriff Joseph Arpaio. Award if you can tell us what was behind your thinking for issuing a pardon for the sheriff. And as well what do you say to your critics even some in your own party who say it was the wrong thing to do. Well a lot of people think it was the right thing to do huge and actually in the middle of a hurricane even though as of Friday evening I assume the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally you know of the hurricane was just. And I put it out that I had pardoned as we call as we say sheriff Joseph. He's done a great job for the people of Arizona he's very strong on borders. Very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona. I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they. Came down with their big decision to go get them right before the election voting started as you know and he lost in a fairly close election he would've won the election but I think. Just hammered him just before the election I thought that was a very very unfair thing to do. What I mentioned him the other night you saw the massive crowd we had to people went crazy when I said what do you think of Jared sheriff Joseph or something to that effect to place went absolutely crazy when I was in Arizona lastly. And as far as pardons are concerned I actually did this just before the me because I assume. That somebody would ask me the question I didn't know what do you as you can attest you can even know you're going to be called but. I thought I would end you know sheriff Joseph is a great veteran of the military great. Law enforcement person. The somebody that's won many many elections in the state of Arizona. But I I wanted to look at some of the other people that were pardoned over the years. And if you look at as an example President Clinton pardoned mark rich. Who is charged with crimes going back decades. Including illegally buying oil from Iran. While it held 53 American hostages wasn't allowed to do that selling to the enemies at the United States he was pardoned after his wife donated. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. To the clintons then you have dangerous criminals President Clinton pardon Susan Rosenberg a member of the weathered. Underground. Charges part of a bank robbery that led to a guard and two police offices. Being killed. Drug dealers. President Clinton commuted the sentence of Carlos vignali a central player in a cocaine ring. That stretched. From California to Minnesota. Criminal leaker. You've heard the word leaker. President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents. To WikiLeaks. Perhaps and others. But horrible horrible thing that he did commuted the sentence. And perhaps pardoned. President Obama commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera who is charged as part of a violent. Independence groups. From Puerto Rico responsible for 28 Chicago area bombings. In many guests. In the 1970s. And 1980s. Sheriff Joseph is a patriots. Sheriff Joseph loves our country. Sheriff Joseph protected our borders. And sheriff Joseph was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration. Especially right before an election an election that he would of one. So and he was elected many times so. I stand by my pardon of sheriff Joseph and I think the people of Arizona who really know him best. Would agree with me thank you very much. Mr. President I'd like to clean impressions that you get all the research but I'm afraid I have to confess to question was fairly are pissed that. And president in his step. I'm sure the president trump either briefed you today or you're aware of his new plan for Afghanistan that really relies at its core. In bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations. Given the history of the ideology. Of the Taliban. Do you ever believe that they would. Honor any kind of an agreement that was ever made or would day when the United States and Finland and other countries leave Afghanistan renege on that deal. Yes even first of all. Want to underline that Piedmont has been involved. From the very beginning. To all the attempts to solve the situation in Afghanistan we troops there are we while also trying to seal aid. Going on all time. We have to try and we have to tried. In all possible ways. To solve the situation in Afghanistan it has been ongoing. Quite wrong time for. Dictates. But sent. To Soviet spies negotiations. Sure you have to food respect them. Two of the one. You negotiate. To or so cool believe that books he's negotiated TDs. Or so. Four treated. These elevenths. Has to people who time precedent. When you discuss when we should have a pot TV in Africa and east. And at MIP a couple of more questions but you wanna take one more would you want to take one more go ahead pick up. Iowa. It is again that you're gonna give her at the same one no she's not Goosen new models I had. Duct destitute sang hello. Love to women have been on. Miss the president trump. What kind of role do you CS Finland having in the US Russia relations do you think Finland good to be of assistance helping US get better relations with Russian. Well I hope. We do have good relations with Russia say it loud and clear I've been saying it for years I think it's a good thing if we have a great relationships or at least good relationships. Whether Russia that's very important. And I believe someday that will happen. It's a big country it's a nuclear country it's a country that we should get along with and I think we will eventually get along with Russia. Finland is respected by Russia Finland has been free of Russia really just about one of the few countries in the region that has been for. A hundred years. And Russia has a lot of respect for Finland so that's always good but I think I have Finland is doing fine with Russia and I hope that the United States. Will someday be able have a very good relationship with Russia also. Think that's very good for world peace and for other things. Thank you. As a follow up if that island's relationship with Russia where two DT area right. Would the US. What kind of assistance would the US be willing to give to Finland bilaterally if we needed. Well as I said before that you know our relationship with Finland has a very close one. And we're always ready to help Finland one of the things that is happening is you're purchasing. Large amounts of our great F eighteen aircraft. From Boeing. And it's one of the great plains one of the great fighter jets and you're purchasing lots of other military equipment. And I think purchasing very wisely I know all of the military equipment and I actually agree with everything you purchased we talked about it before. I think village really a respected country militarily. It's got large armed forces for its size as a country. Really proportionally probably one of the biggest in the world if you think about this but they're very respected militarily. And their respective beyond militarily so hopefully it'll never come to that thank you. And president mean he spent. President Meehan is that did you discuss Russia and did you offer any assistance through the US with their relationship with version. Well we like us and or earlier on we indeed reduce costs about crush up thoughts. Actually I don't feed myself for a few non competing any advice or to anybody. Pot we tried to do always list. Two. Hopefully we get social response from that I want to remind you about he NATO. Meeting in a year ago approximately. Ethos a state teased by all NATO countries. Two with Russia you have to PD Terrance Potts. You have to exercise dialogue to. These two way elements. Two. Though it. Thank you Mr. President traits with one American news. In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey do you believe that cutting Bemis budget is the right thing to do. No I think what's going to happen is the FEMA money is relatively small compared to the rebuilding money. So FEMA right now we have the money necessary for Texas and Louisiana if we need. But the all know the real number which will be many billions of dollars will go through congress. I think it'll happen very quickly you go very fast. And I want to congratulate you on the network it's a great network think if I may follow up on out one other question test earlier. The southern border wall is your plan's still to have Mexico pay for the wall. Yes we will one way or the other Mexico's gonna pay for the world let's let it be through reimbursement but one way or the other Mexico will pay for the wall where right now negotiating NAFTA. In my opinion Mexico has been very difficult as they should be why wouldn't they be they had a sweetheart deal for so many years. It's one of the great deals of all time for them one of the worst trade deals ever sighed I guarantee you Mr. President Finland would never have signed. NAFTA. With Russia or whatever you wanted to that this is not a deal that you would want to sign a this is not a deal that Finland would know about it NAFTA is one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time anywhere in the world. And I can understand why Mexico is being difficult because why would they be they've had it their way but no Mexico will pay for the wall and may be through reimbursement. We need the wall very badly as you know Mexico has a tremendous crime problem tremendous. One of them. Number two or three in the world and that's another reason we needed and the just to add on tremendous drugs are pouring into the United States at levels that nobody's ever seen before this happened over the last. Three to four years in particular the wall will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth so we need to while it's imperative. We may find it. Through the United States but ultimately Mexico will pay for the. If I may follow up on Tuesday steady if we have to close down our government we are building that Walt. Well I hope that's not use the wall 100% our government out I hope that's not necessary. If it's necessary we'll have to see but I hope it's not necessarily the wall is. Needed from the standpoint of security the wall is needed from the standpoint of drug tremendous did drug scores. What's coming through in that through that area through the areas that we're talking about. As you know I have general Kelley here we stopped. Traffic coming through 78%. It's going to be I think 81%. This quarter. Which is a record in other administrations have they stopped it just a little bit like one or two or 3% they consider that a great thing we're up to almost 80%. We'll soon be over 80%. But you need the wall. To do the rest and you need the wall for the drugs the drugs are tremendous problem the wall will greatly help. With the drug problem and ultimately that's a good thing from Mexico also we have a very good relationship with Mexico. But I will say that dealing with them that I've always said. I've talked about NAFTA you've heard me many times and I said that we will either terminated or renegotiated we're in the process of re negotiated. Right now renegotiating the deal. I believe that you'll probably have to at least start to termination process before a fair deal can be arrived at. Because it's been a one sided deal. And this includes Canada by the way great respect for Canada great love for Canada but it's been a one sided deal for Canada. And from Mexico. And the United States. Workers all of these incredible people who have lost their jobs. Because of NAFTA. They're not going to be suffering any longer it's been unfair for too long. So while we will build the wall and we will stop a lot of things including the drug to drugs are pouring in at levels like nobody's ever seen. Will be able to stop them once the wall is up thank you very much thank you. Thank you. Acute. President trump they're wrapping up a press conference of the president of Finland began by talking about hurricane harbor in the devastation what the federal government is gonna do he predicts that congress will approve more money. Quick quickly but also isn't tough words there for the Government of Mexico the president insisting the wall is going to be built in Mexico is gonna pay fort even though they flatly denied any intention. I think Ford also making some news they're saying that it is very possible that NAFTA the North American Free Trade Agreement we terminated negotiations apparently not going well. The president declined to call Russia a security threat hopes for better relations he said. In that press conference also extensive thoughts on his part in controversial pardon on Friday night I share of Joseph Arpaio in Arizona. The president calling in the patriot he's done good things for the state of Arizona also very popular in the state of Arizona Boller bring in our chief White House correspondent John Carl. For more on that the president did not say what chef party sheriff Arpaio had to be part in for which was contempt of court for illegally profiling. Latinos also did not mention that his part in. Was opposed by the two Republican senators from Arizona. John McCain and Jeff flake. And also strongly opposed by the speaker of the house Republican speaker of the house Paul Ryan. What you saw the president fully prepared to take on that question. To defended the pardon of Joseph Arpaio he want he went on at some length saying that he stands with sheriff Joseph. He stands by his pardon. He also went through chapter and verse many of the other controversial individuals that have been heartened by other president's. But as you know George this a pardon that has been criticized by many people in the president's own party because of the message it sends. Both about the commitment to civil rights law. And the commitment to enforcing federal law. And in part because of the way we sent a chain that part of around 10 o'clock on Friday night as hurricane Harvey was just beginning to hit. A state of Texas that state still devastated right now the city of Houston. Under water and historic event there that's where the president. Began today you can get the latest on many time by downloading the ABC news that there will be a full report tonight on world news tonight Tommy honest he Houston. I'll see you tomorrow and Jimmy. This has been a special. Or maybe.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.