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Cat-3 Hurricane Irma Could be Headed for U.S. Mainland; Houston Over 95 Percent Dry, Businesses to Open Tomorrow; U.S. Warns China of Trade Cuts Trade Over North Korea; Prince William & Kate Expecting Baby. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:24] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCOR: Another dangerous and powerful hurricane is intensifying. Could have an impact on the U.S. Hurricane Irma, a category 3 storm packing winds of 120 miles an hour. Several islands in the Caribbean now under hurricane watches.

Tom Sater is in the Severe Weather Center tracking Irma's path.

Everyone is thinking not again, too soon.


BALDWIN: Where is she?

SATER: Well, it looks like she's making her way, Brooke, to the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles. Warnings in effect for Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Kitts. If you have a flight to British or U.S. Virgin Islands in the next couple days, cancel. It will not be enjoyable. If you have this weekend, call ahead. Communications could be knocked out, power and things of that nature.

Category 3, will make its way to category 4 this afternoon or tonight. That's the same strength when Harvey devastated Harvey in Texas.

So here are the watches and warnings. Next will be the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The computer models, Brooke, are in agreement. They're handling the environment well. The National Hurricane Center carries it at a category 4 straight through the Caribbean. Now depending on interaction with land, it could get down to a 3. It could regenerate. These waters are extremely warm, so that's jet fuel.

We are losing the window for the only hope of missing the U.S. That is sliding up towards the Outer Banks and open waters of the Atlantic. That window is shutting quickly. If you look at the models, though, they do have it being drawn northward. It just may be, when south of the Keys, south of Miami. There's an outside chance that maybe it could go into the Gulf of Mexico. But right now, notice as the models go out further in time, we're watching more of a various. Again, the computer models, we watch the European and the U.S., are giving us the impact in the U.S. next Monday. This weekend, get ready. Start preparing now. This is landfall in southern Florida on one model, and into the Carolinas on another one, Brooke. So 9/11, we're watching it closely.

[14:36:26] BALDWIN: OK, Florida and the Carolinas.

Tom, thank you. We'll check back in.

Meantime, more than a week after Harvey left parts of Texas just drenched, historic flooding, people are struggling to figure out what's next following the destruction and devastation left behind. Congress returns to work tomorrow. It is expected to begin work on an aid package. The House could vote on supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements as early as Wednesday. The White House is requesting an initial $7.9 billion, but that's a fraction of what the Texas governor says his state really needs.

As the cleanup begins, Houston officials say 95r percent of the city is dry. And some businesses are set to open tomorrow. But it is a mess throughout subdivisions in Houston and beyond.

Stephanie Elam is there live for us.

Surrounded by what was once, you know, items in people's homes, now gone?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of their worldly possessions out here on the curb now, Brooke. It's hard to fathom what this means and how this entire neighborhood looks just like what we're showing you here. There's a crib, the drywall, the wood paneling from inside these houses. All of this is people thought they might get a bit of water on the property. They didn't think they would have nearly the devastation. One family having about five feet in their house. Another family, they have about three feet. One family saying their entire extended family, about nine homes within the community. The people they would normally stay with, they're also dealing with the breakdown of the flooding in their homes. It is all throughout here. You see this devastation, people trying to get ahead of the mold. It is hot here. It's muggy. You can already smell the mold coming up. And it's on both sides of the street where you see everyone's taking everything out of their House and getting it on the curb.

There is some frustration as they're trying to figure out what their next steps are. A lot of these people don't have money to go stay someplace else. They have to figure out to make their home s livable again. This is their only option. This is where a lot of these folks worked hard all their lives to buy this house. And to have it devastated like this and lose all of their memories and possessions is just difficult, let alone the fact their cars were all flooded out because it happened in the middle of the night. They're still trying to figure out how to get to work without their vehicle being on top of it -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Oh, my gosh. Just all of that, and the mold and the bacteria and the smells that we can't fully appreciate. Everyone there can.

Stephanie Elam, I cannot imagine.

Thank you very much.

So many people are raising money for the good folks of Houston and Texas.

Ahead here, President Trump fires a warning shot at China, threatening to cut off trade with nations that do business with North Korea in the wake of the regime's latest bomb test. But could the president's rhetoric come back to haunt the American economy? We're back in a moment.


[14:43:27] BALDWIN: As the U.N. Security Council works to peacefully resolve the volatile situation on the Korean peninsula, the president is considering, quote, "stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea."

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he's drafting a package of sanctions for the president to consider.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're going to strongly consider everything at this point. And, again, I will draft a package for his strong consideration that would go as far as cutting off all trade or other business. This behavior is unacceptable. And if countries want to do business with the United States, they obviously will be working with our allies and others to cut off North Korea economically.


BALDWIN: The key player here is China. Despite signing on to the U.N.'s sweeping export sanctions, China is North Korea's biggest trading partner. China is also the largest trading partner for the U.S. Total trade between the two nations topping nearly $650 billion last year. The U.S. imports cars, clothes, electronics, even your iPhone from China.

I have the Peters standing by. Peter Morici, professor of international business at the University of Maryland. He also did a piece on this for the "Washington Times" today. We also good enough to be with us on this holiday, CNN contributor, Peter Beinart, a contributing editor at "The Atlantic."

Welcome to both of you.

Professor, let me begin with you.

If the president follows through on this threat, and I know that could be a huge if, and pulls trade with anyone who does business with North Korea, what would that even look like for the U.S.?

[14:45:07] PETER MORICI, PROFESSOR INTERNATIONAL BUSIENSS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: I think it would be an absolute disaster to just cut off trade with China and India and the others completely. The idea here is to isolate Korea. We would end up isolating the United States and devastating the U.S. economy. This would be playing into North Korea and China's hand. Remember, China is using North Korea as a foil to further its foreign policy objectives in Asia. It's using it to tie the Americans down.

BALDWIN: Peter Beinart, China has said this is unacceptable, to be sanctioned for trading with North Korea. My question is, why is China so unwilling to dial back its trade? What is China so totally getting out of this business relationship with North Korea?

PETER BEINART, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A few things. You have to remember the historical relationship. China and North Korea went to war against the United States in 1950. China went to war to keep U.S. troops off its border. China fears the possibility that if North Korea collapsed, the Korean peninsula could be reunified under South Korean control, and U.S. troops could be on China's border again to do exactly what China went to war to prevent. China looks out at Southeast Asia and sees a whole series of U.S. allies. And North Korea, as horrific a regime and as flawed a regime, even from China's view, it is, North Korea is China's ally. China also fears a failed state in North Korea that could lead to a total massive refugee, humanitarian disaster on its border. So China may not like North Korea's nuclear program, but if America going to get China to use its leverage on North Korea, America also has to have some understanding of where Chinese concerns are, which is not the same as American concerns.

BALDWIN: Is there a way, Peter Morici, to sanction China to a level that would force them? I'm listening to Peter Beinart and all this history. I understand that. But a way to sanction them at all to stop this trade with North Korea, but not hurt the U.S., or because of what he just laid out, impossible.

MORICI: First of all, I don't think we're insensitive to China's concerns. It's just a matter that the United States and China are headed for a confrontation with regard to Asia and hegemony in Asia. Let's be plain.

There's no silver bullet here. Conventional, military action, surgical nuclear strike, anything like that with regard to North Korea is not going to work. It's going to create more problems than it solves.

Trade sanctions by themselves will not cause China to move. It is within China's power to fix this problem. But to get China to move, we're going to have to make it so costly that it decides that sustaining North Korea and the advantage it has of using it as a foil to needle of United States are not worth it. We're going to have to go after China in places that really smarts. For example, certainly trade sanctions would be a piece of that. Banking sanctions would be a piece of that. But also pushing them really hard on the South China Sea because that is really important to the Chinese. And they're doing things down there they shouldn't be doing. This is the time to play that card.

BALDWIN: Do you agree, Peter Beinart? How do you see it playing out with China? BEINART: No. This really doesn't make any sense at all. First of all, you have to have a clear vision of what your goal is. Preventing China from gaining hegemony, this is way, way too broad. What can America reasonably expect in terms of North Korea's nuclear program? North Korea's nuclear program, the genie is out of the bottle. Is not going to get rid of all of its nukes at this point. Even if China wanted it to. China has a proposal out there that has basically been endorsed by the South Korea government. It is for a freeze in North Korea's nuclear program in return for some kind of reasonable or limitation of U.S./South Korean military exercises. That is a reasonable way to start this process, to try to prevent North Korea from getting a nuclear weapon that could hit American shores.


BALDWIN: Why would they stop their military exercises when you have missiles flying over Japan and threatening Guam.

MORICI: Hold on a minute. It's absolutely absurd --


BEINART: North Korea, as horrific as it is, has a very rational reason to desire nuclear weapons. It sees that America's adversaries who have not had nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi, have ended up with their regimes overthrown. That is their security blanket for the regime's survival. If you want to change that calculus, you have to change the nature of America's relationship with North Korea. That's what the South Koreans and the Chinese are saying, but Trump doesn't seem to understand.

MORICI: First of all, I view that approach as appeasement. This is America's newest moment. This is Trump's --


[14:49:51] MORICI: We heard you out. We heard you out.

That's appeasement. Basically, we would have been giving into the Chinese. What they want us to do is to cease military exercises with the Japanese and South Koreans. Give them a free hand. We're not going to have it out over hegemony on this issue. But we can make it costly enough that the China to rethink their policy of accepting their textile exports and their workers and remitting the money to the government of North Korea. But it's absolutely absurd to accept the situation of status quo, where they have the missiles and the bombs. They could invade South Korea and we could be in the kind of situation we were in, in the Crimea. That is, if we do anything, it could set off a thermonuclear war. This is not a stable situation. And I just don't buy the notion that


MORICI: -- that because we toppled Saddam Hussein that we need to protect the regime in North Korea.


[14:50:49] BALDWIN: Let's agree on it's not a table situation.

Peter Morici and Peter Beinart, I'm out of time. We're not going to fix this now, but we'll continue the conversation. North Korea is not going anywhere.

Gentlemen, thank you so much. I really appreciate both of you.

Coming up next, a royal revelation. Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, are expecting. Why the couple was forced to reveal their pregnancy a bit earlier than they actually planned.


BALDWIN: Britain celebrating news that a brand-new royal is on the way. Prince William, his wife, Kate, celebrating their third child. The baby joins big brother and sister, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The new baby will be fifth in line to the throne.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin has more on the big announcement -- Erin?


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, Kensington Palace announced the happy news this morning. The announcement made after the Duchess of Cambridge had to cancel an appearance at a royal event due to acute morning sickness. It was at that point that both she and Prince William decided to announce this news before the 12-week mark, decided to be open with the public about what was going on.

Acute morning sickness is something that she suffered from during her previous two pregnancies. In fact, you may remember, with Prince George, she was actually treated in hospital. This time around, as with Princess Charlotte, she's being treated at Kensington Palace. Doctors, no doubt, monitoring her. The key concern with acute morning sickness is dehydration.

We understand from Prince Harry, who is out and about in London today, that she's doing just fine. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How are you feeling about the news you'll be an uncle again?

PRINCE HARRY: Fantastic. Great. Very, very happy for them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTR: How is your sister-in-law doing?

PRINCE HARRY: I haven't seen her for a while, but I think she's OK.


MCLAUGHLIN: Prince Harry currently fifth in line for the throne. Once this baby is born, he'll be sixth. We understand, once the Duchess of Cambridge is feeling better, she'll be back to her royal duties -- Brooke?


BALDWIN: Erin, thank you so much.

Ahead here on CNN, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says North Korea is, quote, "begging for war." So what, if anything, can be done to stop them?