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U.N. Ambassador Haley: North Korean Leader "Begging For War"; Ambassador Haley: We Must Adopt Strongest Possible Sanctions; Mattis Warns North Korea Of "Massive Military Response"; CNN: Trump Expected To End "Dreamer" Immigration Program. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 4, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war. War is never something that the United States wants. We don't want it now, but our country's patience is not unlimited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: What exactly does that mean? This comes a day after the rogue nation conducted its most powerful nuclear test so far. That blast set off a chain reaction of concern and condemnation around the world as well as serving to increase tensions among allies.
The latest developments and there are a lot for this. The regime has made new threats against the U.S. and Guam. South Korea claims its neighbor is preparing to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile. They're saying this could be days away.
And Defense Secretary James Mattis says any threat would be met by a massive military response. President Trump has also speaking out on Twitter by accusing South Korea of appeasement and threatening to cut off trade with any country doing business with Pyongyang.
A lot to go through. Let's get started with CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House with the very latest on this. So, Kaitlan, we heard from Nikki Haley this morning. Some strong words from the U.N. ambassador. What are we hearing, though, from the White House?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, we heard from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin yesterday who said that he was drafting this sanctions package to send to the president that would place economic pressure on North Korea.
And the president essentially doubled down on that yesterday when he said on Twitter that the United States was considering stopping, quote, "All trade with any country doing business with North Korea."
Now that would be incredibly significant, Kate, as you know, because China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and they're the second largest economy in the world.
Then we heard Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations really echo all of this calls for diplomatic means during that emergency session just a few minutes ago. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left. This crisis goes well beyond the U.N., the United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country and the United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country that is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And Kate, the South Korean government announced earlier this morning that their president was scheduled to have a phone call with President Trump this morning. So, we will keep you updated on any details we get from that call today?
BOLDUAN: No wrap up yet. No readout yet from that call, but we'll be sticking closely here exactly what happens. It seems, Kaitlan, that would be the first call since the nuclear test over the weekend and also the first since the president's tweet?
COLLINS: Absolutely. Yes. It would. We know that he spoke to the president of South Korea on Friday, but this phone call this morning would be the first one that he's had since that launch of that missile. The White House has not provided any details. They don't typically confirm these phone calls until after they've already happened.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what comes from that. Kaitlan, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
All right. So that from the White House. Let's head overseas right now where reaction has been coming in, of course, CNN's Will Ripley was in North Korea last week. He is joining me from Tokyo with more reaction from the region. So, Will, what are you hearing from there tonight over there?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lot to unpack, Kate. Certainly, that shot across the bow aimed at China with Nikki Haley saying that anyone who trades with North Korea is trading with a nuclear pariah.
China's ambassador saying that they will never accept chaos and war on the Korean Peninsula. China has said via state media editorials that they would step in if the U.S. launched a preemptive attack. That wasn't an official statement, of course.
But it was a statement through the "Global Times," which often reveals some of the opinions, the hawkish opinions of the Chinese government here in Japan, continued messages in sync with the United States even though Japan is a passivist country. The Japanese ambassador on CNN's "NEW DAY" was talking about appreciating that the United States has Japan's back and is willing to keep the military option on the table.
And then in South Korea, there's a lot of nervousness because it took more than 30 hours for President Trump to call President Moon Jae-in even though he had two conversations over that same time period with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
And then you have North Korea with more threats, threatening to launch attacks against the United States, threatening to launch missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam. So, you have escalating tensions, escalating rhetoric.
Just right after North Korea's most powerful nuclear test to date. The chance they could launch another missile possibly to coincide with their major national holiday, their foundation day coming up on Saturday.
BOLDUAN: So Will, you've been in North Korea more than almost any other reporter. Do you get a sense from your time there -- do you get a sense of the end game right now? Everyone seems to have a take on it.
RIPLEY: Well, a lot of people are wondering why North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, would now be apparently preparing to launch another ballistic missile possibly an ICBM just after his nation's largest nuclear test to date.
[11:05:08] And the only thing that I can think of is that if you have to look at the messaging from North Korea. So last week, there was an editorial calling on the United States to change its view on North Korea, to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.
Something North Korea has wanted for a very long time. Ambassador Haley saying that's not going to happen. Then you saw that picture release of Kim Jong-un standing in front of a hydrogen bomb, a miniaturize warhead, that they can put on an ICBM.
And then few hours later, they blow up a hydrogen bomb underground, the largest artificial explosion that some seismologists have ever detected, magnitude 6.3 earthquake, a secondary 4.3 earthquake, likely a collapse underground as a result of this massive explosion.
So, they have proven now that they have the largest nuclear weapon they've ever created. And then if they launch an ICBM toward the Pacific potentially in the direction of the U.S. territory of Guam, they're sending the message that, OK, they have the warhead. They tested the warhead.
Now they have the missile. They're testing the missile. They're trying to tell the United States they need to change their view because North Korea is trying to prove that they have this weapon in their arsenal.
And frankly, Kate, they may be trying to do it to get some discussions going before these sanctions really start to take effect. Because eventually if the round after round of sanctions is imposed, it is going to start hurting.
But when I was in Pyongyang last week, I didn't see any visible impact of the sanctions. Cars are still on the roads. Lights are still on. People are still dining out at restaurants at least for now.
But we know that sanctions take a while to take effect. So, maybe this is a blitz that North Korea hopes will lead to talks although the tone from the United States, from Nikki Haley, just within the last hour doesn't seem to indicate that. The U.S. still wants to punish North Korea and put pressure on them.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Not at all. If you hear Nikki Haley, that's not going to happen any time soon. That's for sure. Great to see you, Will. Thank you so much.
Here with me now to discuss, Balbina Hwang, a Georgetown professor of Asian Politics. She was also a senior adviser to former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Christopher Hill. Retired Colonel Steve Warren, he is a CNN military analyst and a former spokesman to the Pentagon.
Jim Walsh is an international security analyst and MIT researcher, and Jamie Metzl, a former staff member of the National Security Council and State Department under President Bill Clinton. All great to you have here.
Jamie, we played a couple bits of what we heard from Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador. We kicked the can down the road enough. There is no more road left. Nikki Haley wants stronger sanctions. The next step in sanctions would be what?
JAMIE METZL, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, there will be more sanctions. There will be stronger secondary sanctions. Those sanctions will affect Chinese companies and other companies that have been doing business with North Korea.
BOLDUAN: Do you get the indication that China is ready to sign on to those sanctions?
METZL: They'll sign on to stronger sanctions, but they're not going to sign on to sanctions or an embargo that is so strong that it threatens to undermine the stability of the North Korean regime. That's the essential point here.
The North Koreans are making three big bets. One, that the U.S. doesn't have a realistic military option. Two, that China is going to feel ultimately that it's better off even with a nuclear armed North Korea than it is with Korean reunification and reunified allies with the United States.
And three, they're betting on the fecklessness of the Trump administration and so far both -- all three of those are pretty good bets. BOLDUAN: Well, in light of this, Balbina, speaking about China, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, the Security Council meeting has been going on this morning. And China said, the ambassador said that China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula. What does that mean at this point?
PROFESSOR BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER HILL: Well, that's a very clear articulation that China will not do what it takes to destabilize and lead to the collapse of the North Korean regime.
Look, I think the important thing about sanctions is not necessarily just to punish the regime itself or to create chaos in the society, but now it is very clear that we need to target sanctions to prevent that further proliferation and development of these weapons and delivery systems, the missiles.
BOLDUAN: And speaking about the missiles, Jim, you now have South Korea saying that they see North Korea preparing for another missile launch, a missile launch -- I mean, it could perhaps be less than a week since this nuclear test that happened just yesterday. What does that do? What's your take on that?
JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think you're right. It may be Saturday which is North Korea's Founder's Day. We may be back here in the studio then for that. Well, you know, I know most of our conversation focuses on sanctions.
My colleague at Harvard, John Park and I did a study of sanctions. We interviewed North Koreans whose job it was to get around sanctions and they're very good at it. And we sort of keep doing the same thing.
It seems to me that there's a real disconnect here. They can build missiles faster and test nuclear weapons faster than we can impose sanctions that would matter. We spend all the time talking about sanctions and they just keep testing away.
I think that's -- you know, you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again and it fails, you should do something differently and in particular, small steps.
[11:10:07] It would be great, for example, if we had an ambassador, U.S. ambassador in South Korea. It's just astonishing that we have a rolling crisis here. It could get very dicey if someone makes a mistake, as a miscalculation or in this perception.
And we don't have the president's representative in Seoul to help, you know, to help with our allies at a time when we are insulting our allies and calling them appeasers. I think, you know, yes, sanctions are important, but we spend too much time talking about that and not enough about the other things we need to be doing today to deal with this situation.
BOLDUAN: And part of that, of course, Colonel, was Jeff Blake said over the weekend that it's become cliche because there is no good military option and that's what people keep saying over and over again.
The last word we heard from the administration though before this U.N. meeting, before Nikki Haley was from Defense Secretary James Mattis. It was a pretty important moment when he came out yesterday to speak. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Colonel, as many people noted since Mattis came out this is not a man that seeks out the spotlight and who wants to be the face on something like this. He is just not that -- that's not his personality. You know him. You heard that from James Mattis and you thought what?
COLONEL STEVE WARREN (RETIRED), FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS: Well, Secretary Mattis sort of set out two very important stakes in the ground. I think we shouldn't ignore. Stake number one is to remind the North Koreans that there is a military action. Don't forget who you're dealing with here.
Sure, none of the military options are good and we've talked about that a lot, but those military options exist. And then I think the second important mistake that he laid out was that we are not interested in annihilating North Korea.
So, he kind of put a left and right limit on what sort of how he sees this is beginning to develop and this was very important. Kind of a sober, thoughtful statesman like statement coming out of the secretary of defense that I think kind of frames up where the North Koreans can now move around. I think it's a very important message.
BOLDUAN: Well, you say, statesman like and Jamie then -- I'm left with where does this land on the statesman like scale? These tweets coming from President Trump over the weekend. You have one where he accuses South Korea of appeasement with North Korea.
And another one saying that we're going to stop -- threatening to stop, he is considering to stop all trade with any country doing business with North Korea. That, of course, would be China. What does this do to the conversation?
METZL: Of course, that's a setup question because the lack of statesmanship by the president of the United States is a major destabilizing factor in world affairs and what we are seeing is even with Secretary Mattis --
BOLDUAN: Do his words destabilize at this point? METZL: Absolutely, yes. The words and the actions. What does the president do? He assumes office. One, he limits our influence in the region by getting out of the Transpacific Partnership, by continually even more recently attacking our allies when we really need to be focusing on our adversaries.
Contradicting his top cabinet officials. These tweets are so dangerous and they are doing so much damage to the United States and our allies at a time when we need to be standing together.
And that's what is really worrying. Everybody knows that Kim Jong-un is a destabilizing factor. He's moving towards developing a nuclear weapon, but now there is this additional variable of Donald Trump and nobody knows what Donald Trump is going to do. That is making matters even worse.
BOLDUAN: I know Jamie you would like to debate me on at any moment at any time. I for one am interested what comes from this phone call with the South Korean president and President Trump. Hopefully, we'll get a read out. All I really appreciate it. Thank you so much on this very important story.
Coming up for us, the backlash from both sides of the aisle after reports say that President Trump is expected to end the program that protects children of undocumented immigrants. Where is he headed? Where does this take the country? Where does it take the Republican Party if he does?
Plus, President Trump's EPA says at least 13 toxic waste sites in Texas were hit by Hurricane Harvey. How they're handling the threat and what it means for folks on the ground. That's ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They're with their parents. It depends. But, look, it sounds cold and it sounds hard. We have a country. Our country is going to hell.
I want the children that are growing up in the United States to be dreamers also. They're not dreaming right now.
We will immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties.
If they plan on serving and if they get in, I would absolutely hold those people. Now we have to be very careful.
They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody.
Some absolutely incredible kids, I would say mostly. They were brought here in such a way -- it's a very, very tough subject. We're going to deal with DACA with heart.
We love the DREAMers. We love everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: There you have it. President Trump's changing statement. In some cases, pretty vastly changing statement on so-called "Dreamers" overtime, some 800,000 undocumented immigrants that came to United States as children.
Sources now tell CNN the following, tomorrow, the president is expected to terminate the Obama era program that protects "Dreamers" from being deported. His plan if, this is what is announced, is to give Congress six months to pass legislation to essentially replace the program with something else.
[11:20:03] He's already facing criticism from Democrats and from members of his own party on this for different reasons.
Republican Congressman Steve King, he's an immigration hawk to say the very least, he thinks the six-month time frame that the president would put in place is too long. He said ending DACA now gives a chance to restore rule of law. Delaying so Republican leadership can push amnesty is Republican suicide.
On the other end of the Republican spectrum, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida says this, "After teasing "Dreamers" for months with talk of his great heart, the president slams the door on them. Some heart."
Criticism also coming from the left, to Vermont's Bernie Sanders says, "If Trump ends DACA, it will be one of the ugliest and cruelest decisions ever made by a president in our modern history."
All righty. Let's discuss. Joining me now, CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, Attorney Raul Reyes, a CNN opinion writer, Steve Rogers, a member of President Trump's Reelection Advisory Board and former lieutenant commander of U.S. Navy Reserve, and Bill Press, the host of the "Bill Press Show."
I know, it's amazing. It is called the "Bill Press Show." I'm going to come up with something more catchy sometime soon.
BILL PRESS, HOST, "BILL PRESS SHOW": We'll work on that.
BOLDUAN: Yes. We got nothing but time. Alice, if this is the decision that the president announces with regards to DACA, then it throws it over to Congress. What does that do?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It really forces them to take action. Look, it's interesting to hear members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, as you just read, being critical about this when if you really look at it, we're in the situation because of Congress' inaction. But 20 years ago, we were trying to figure out how to deal with "Dreamers" and what to do and as time moved on, President Obama became frustrated with the inaction in Congress and he used his pen and phone as he promised and used executive action to provide protections for these people.
Now here we are years later. Congress still hasn't provided some type of immigration plan to deal with them and President Trump is doing exactly what he campaigned on, exactly what he won on.
He is working to have better immigration in this country and also, he also promised to do away with the President Obama's illegal executive action. So, he is saying he will do the same thing if Congress doesn't act.
BOLDUAN: It is a little squishy. You heard it in the sound. He was definitely going to get rid of it and then he started saying he was going to have heart. I guess you could try to say will is somewhere in between that those things are the same thing. I'm not entirely sure. Stand by for that.
But, Bill, as Alice is laying out this is not new. DACA, "Dreamers," the Dream Act, this is the discussion from -- that has been going on for years. A failed discussion on the part of Congress. Do you see an appetite right now for Congress to move ahead on some sort of plan for "Dreamers" realistically?
PRESS: No. Let me say, first of all, this is one of the cruelest decisions or most cold-hearted decisions any president could even make. Let's remember who these people are. These are kids that did not choose to come here illegally. Their parents brought them here.
They have nothing -- no say in that matter at all, and there are 800,000 of them. They are in school or in the military. They got jobs. They're paying taxes. They are the future of this country.
And Donald Trump said over and over again, I'm just interested in the criminals. Those who commit crimes not the "Dreamers." Now I think he's trying to have it both ways. It is really a chicken move that he won't get away with.
He will be remembered if, he does this, as the person who ended the "Dreamers" Program. You cannot count on Congress to do anything. Hell, if, they couldn't repeal Obamacare after talking about it for seven years, they're not going to do anything on the "Dreamers."
BOLDUAN: Stop stealing my questions for later, Bill. Stand by. Steve, if six months expires and Congress has not done anything on this, who is this on? Can the -- does the president protect himself from responsibility or blame if he passes this is off to them now?
STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT REELECTION ADVISORY BOARD: First of all, the president is a father. He's a grandfather and I'm sure when he says he's going to be moving from his heart, he is. That is number one. Number two, Kate, the fact that parents, there are consequences for their actions. I just heard last guest say that thighs children are here as a result of the acts of their parents and they shouldn't be blamed. To some degree he's right. But remember this as parents, there is something called accountability and responsibility.
They should have known long ago when they did this that they may come a time when the law is going to be enforced. So, the point is this. The president, I believe the six months is a good idea.
And my view is that if the Congress does not act and will they, I don't know. They don't seem to be able to fix anything. But if they do not act, it's on them. It's on the Congress.
BOLDUAN: Do you see it that way, Raul?
RAUL REYES, CNN OPINION WRITER: Number because when he was on his way back from Paris, the president specifically stated that he would make the decision on DACA. It would be his decision.
[11:25:01] So, this notion of trying to put it off on Congress or to say that Jeff Sessions said he wouldn't defend it that, is just deflection. In fact, the discussion is that we're already seeing about whether Congress can do it, in an instance advocates him of that leadership on this issue.
And I understand what you're talking about from a theoretical point of view that actions have consequences and in an ideal world, all of our parents would always do the best and right thing for us.
But here's the reality, these young people within this six months or past the six months because there is a lot of questions about the deadline, what will happen? They will likely lose their status.
As they lose their status, they will be eligible for deportation. We know under Donald Trump's administration arrests of non-criminals are up 150 percent this year. That means these young people right now who are medical students, who are teachers, they will be deported to countries in Central America, countries like Venezuela where they could possibly --
BOLDUAN: What is your advice to the "Dreamers" now. I mean, it's not five people. It's like 800,000 people.
ROGERS: Raul, my question to you is this. What about the people who came here legally? I have friends and relatives that came to this country legally. They work hard. They paid a lot of money to get lawyers. They're in support of the president.
And what about American students? I talked to combat veterans who fought for the country their whole life here. Their kids couldn't get into college because there are quota systems set up for DACA students. What do we say to them? That's not nonsense.
BOLDUAN: Let me put it this way. The immigration issue if, it was easy, it would be done. It wasn't hugely personal, but when it comes to "Dreamers" though, this is a segment of the population where there is bipartisan support to find a way to help them out.
I mean, James Langfort (ph) to your point. He put out a statement saying that there are consequences for people who come here illegally. However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.
REYES: I understand what you're saying. I understand you have come across anecdotally who have these concerns. I don't dispute that and there are many Americans who have that anecdotal evidence.
But when we look at the data, most Americans support keeping DACA, a majority of Americans. In fact, for a political poll, 75 percent of Trump voters favor keeping DACA. The right thing to do for this president should have been to leave it in place. He never had to act on this deadline that we can have DACA and have Congress act --
BOLDUAN: Bill go, ahead. This is something that often is lost in this discussion, which is this is an arbitrary deadline. The president could say, guess what? I'm not ready to make a decision. I'm not forced into making a decision.
I'm a little surprised that the president seems forced to announce this decision because of a threat from states attorneys generals, threat or actual lawsuits being filed have not moved the president in the past, Bill.
PRESS: No. I agree. If the president really believes in this, he ought to say go ahead. File the lawsuit. We'll meet you on the Supreme Court. We'll fight for what we believe in.
Donald Trump is unwilling to do that. The only point I want to make in response to your guest there in studio is that, look, we should not be -- our goal is not to punish these parents for doing something they shouldn't have done 20, 25 years ago.
Our goal should be what is best for this country and these 800,000 people who are making a great contribution to this country and can even do even more, they're the people -- it's our -- it's in our interest to give them status and leave them stay here.
ROGERS: It's in our interest to enforce the law of the land. We must be a land of law. You say it's nonsense. I think the majority of Americans believe we should enforce the laws.
BOLDUAN: Here's the thing. This is the thing where the president has a problem. Alice, we'll get to you at the end of the break. There are a lot of Republicans support for trying to figure out a way.
Paul Ryan himself says the president should not do this. Republicans need to -- Congress needs to figure out -- figure this out from their standpoint. Maybe the real shrewd political move on this is giving Congress a deadline because that is the only way they ever get anything done.
So maybe that is the true political move in all of this which is a hugely emotional issue. Don't go away. Please don't go away. Much more discussion including what is Congress going to do? They're brutal to do list on Capitol Hill.
The debt ceiling, border security, disaster relief all on the docket and add on top of that, tax reform. How are they going to do it all? They head back tomorrow. We'll be right back.