Return to Transcripts main page
North Korea Crisis; Will Hurricane Irma Hit U.S.?; President Trump Likely to End DACA. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 4, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We continue on. Happy Labor Day. Thanks for tuning in with CNN here on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We're talking today about North Korea, possibly about to launch another missile as the international community is reeling from its claims it has successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb.
Experts saying North Korea's latest and largest underground nuclear test represents a "new dimension of threat" and puts the whole world at risk.
In fact, one nuclear monitoring group says the device they tested was about eight times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima back in 1945, eight times.
The question, how does the U.S. respond to this? According to the secretary of defense, General Mattis, annihilating North Korea not at the top of the list, might be an option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: 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)
BALDWIN: And we just heard from Ambassador Nikki Haley at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: For more than 20 years, the Security Council has taken actions against North Korea's nuclear programs.
And for more than 20 years, North Korea has defied our collective voice. Enough is enough. We have taken an incremental approach and despite the best of intentions, it has not worked. His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's start this hour with Paula Hancocks. She's standing by in Seoul, South Korea, for us.
Paula, this is the sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date. How is the region responding to this?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, there is serious concern across the board in this region.
Every country wants to find a way to denuclearize North Korea, but there are some very different ideas on how to do that. China and Russia are talking about dialogue in order to get to peace.
We're hearing from South Korea something fairly similar to Washington, to Tokyo, saying that there has to be pressure and sanctions to try and force them back to the negotiating table.
We saw a live-fire drill just this Monday morning from the South Korean side, as fighter jets and ballistic missiles, surface-to- surface, a very visible show of force against North Korea, saying that there is a willingness to wipe out not just the North Korea nuclear asset, but also the regime, so putting Kim Jong-un on notice.
Now, we know the South Korean president has just spoken in recent hours to the U.S. president and they spoke about how to have a strong and realistic response to what has happened in North Korea, but just a few hours ago, there was a concern the U.S. president was not calling the South Korean president and was there a difference between how they believed they could get to the point of punishing North Korea?
We did see that interesting tweet from the U.S. president about South Korea saying -- quote -- "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work. They only understand one thing."
That was met by great surprise here in South Korea, by concern. There was a statement, a text message sent to reporters from the Blue House, the presidential office, after that came out saying that South Korea agrees there should be pressure, there should be sanctions to pull North Korea back to the negotiating table, so some concerns on the streets of Seoul that there is some difference between Washington and Seoul over how to get North Korea to denuclearize -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: South Korea a key ally of the U.S., essentially calling them appeasers.
Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, Paula, thank you.
Let's broaden out the conversation.
Jamie Metzl is with me, a senior fellow on the Atlantic Council. He worked on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and also with us retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, who is the bestselling author of "Besieged." And David Sanger is with us. He's a CNN political and national Security Council and he's also a security correspondent at "The New York Times."
Gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming in. It's such an important conversation, just beginning, General, with this bomb itself.
Again, it's Pyongyang, they claim this was the successful test of a hydrogen bomb, could be strapped, they say to an ICBM, as I mentioned, eight times and power much as Hiroshima. Tell me what more we need to know.
BRIG. GEN. ANTHONY TATA (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I think we know what we need to know, Brooke.
The ability of North Korea to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles and to put a nuclear warhead on it, they have said this is what they want to do. They want to be a nuclear power. We have a national security strategy that really has two underlying principles.
One is to have an international order based on the rule of law, and second is to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, which would include chemical and nuclear, obviously, and biological.
So our national security strategy mandates that we do something about this. And for my money, what I would like to see the president and the administration start to do now, instead of this war of words, we need to begin a non-combatant evacuation from the Republic of Korea.
We need to begin to more forces positioning them, two carrier strike groups off the Korean Peninsula, more -- another wing in Guam and Japan from the Air Force. Your rapid-reaction corps 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 10th Mountain, move them into position in Japan and surrounding areas, and South Korea, so we are demonstrating that we are serious about what we're talking about.
The time for more talk, I think, has ended. And we need to have this national element of power, the military piece shore up everything else that's been said.
BALDWIN: You are shaking your head. You are shaking your head.
JAMIE METZL, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes.
Well, I just think if we start taking those steps -- we definitely need a much stronger approach to North Korea. We definitely need a strategy. And this administration has been entirely feckless and inconsistent in its approach to North Korea.
But once we start having an evacuation of Seoul and moving warships into the area, that's a continued escalation. And what we need to be doing is taking a step back and say how can we have a strategy that is going to actually effect the change that we would like to see?
And North Korea, the North Korean leadership are making three big bets. One, that there's really no military option at this point. And there's not, because the United States is not willing to take hundreds of thousands, even millions of casualties in Seoul, of U.S. troops in Guam and elsewhere.
The second bet that they are making is that China thinks that they're better off even with a nuclear-armed and hostile North Korea than they would be with a reunified Korea allied to the United States.
And the third bet that they're betting is the fecklessness of the Trump administration and the inability of the Trump administration to pull together a global coalition to pressure North Korea, but more importantly China to change the strategic context in which everything is happening today.
BALDWIN: The fact you have called Trump feckless twice is not lost on me, and I know you come from a perspective.
But, David Sanger, to that point, I would give -- or people have been giving the secretary of defense credit for that strong statement coming out of the White House out of that meeting yesterday, and essentially saying, promising a massive military response and then saying we're not looking for the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but, as I said, we have many options to do so.
That's some pretty precise language.
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Brooke, it is.
And Secretary Mattis, interestingly, has been the most balanced spokesman for the administration on this, even to the point of saying the other day there's always some room for diplomacy and dialogue, not something we heard from Nikki Haley today, not something we've really heard from Secretary Tillerson, who has been strangely quiet, the secretary of state.
So, you have heard two different perspectives here. And I guess I would offer sort of a third one. I can understand why you would want to build up the military presence, in part to send the message to Kim Jong-un that no matter how big his bombs get, no how further he manages to shoot his missiles, he's facing an overwhelming adversary. And he just needs to know that.
Having done that, though, merely putting that out there, history shows, does not move the North Koreans. So then the question is, how do you fill this diplomatic vacuum you have got backed up by the show of military force?
And there, what strikes me is that we have not seen this administration lay out some alternatives of things that they would be willing to consider. We heard Nikki Haley say today -- it wasn't in the tape you ran, but
at another point in the conversation, she said she wouldn't take the Chinese proposal of a freeze on North Korea's nuclear missile test in return for a freeze on our military exercises.
Well, that's fine, but what would we offer in return for freezing these tests if we think that's useful to do?
BALDWIN: What about -- you know, we have talked I feel like until we've been blue in the face about sanctions.
Jamie, I'm left sort of wondering what's left to sanction? Obviously, we talk about oil and you said you could hurt them in the farming industry, but it's like I heard -- I think it was Jim Walsh on a segment earlier with you saying they're testing missiles faster than any of these sanctions hurt them, so we're kind of at the point where you have to do something else.
METZL: There's only one type of sanction that will work. And that's if China is willing to completely cut off North Korea from trade.
BALDWIN: But that seems like an impossibility.
METZL: It's an impossibility, because, as I mentioned earlier, China think they're still better off with North Korea as it is than with reunification.
METZL: And so the only, in my mind, rational, coherent policy for the United States and our allies is try to change China's strategic calculus, because the North Koreans are behaving very rationally.
They believe that they're safer, their regime is safer with nuclear weapons than without them. Until that changes, they are not going to give up those nuclear weapons. And so that's the conundrum we're in.
BALDWIN: Another conundrum, the way in which, General, this is to you, the president spoke about or tweeted about our good friends South Korea, calling them appeasers.
You could argue that South Korea has the most to lose in all of this. Isn't it time to show this united front against North Korea, and not show division? And do you think Kim Jong-un is loving this?
TATA: Well, I do think that the Republic of Korea has the most to lose here, and so do we, and so does Japan, and the entire world because of two of the biggest economic engines, in the Republic of Korea and Japan, and then China is the third, you know, the top five, 10 in the world economic engines.
You're talking about a cataclysmic happening here if we actually do go to war. But, you know, we went around the horn here, and nobody really has -- somebody called it feckless. What was feckless was Obama for eight years doing nothing, and completely uninterested.
At least right now what we have is a position of strength where we are actually standing up to North Korea and saying we're not going to put up this with anymore. And, sure, it would great to have that international coalition. We need an international coalition.
We need the rules-based international law that our national security strategy is founded on. I think that's what -- when you have Mattis and Kelly and McMaster surrounding the president, I think that they have been through the same training that folks like me have, and we talk about the international power, diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and leveraging all of those at one time to achieve the desired end state.
Nobody wants war on the Korean Peninsula. What we would like to see is them back away from brinksmanship without appeasement. And that's the bottom line from my perspective. And the reason I offer the military machinations and the non-combatant evacuations, Kim Jong-un is not going to take anything serious until he sees that.
METZL: But what's that position of strength?
Right now, we have a president who's contradicting his senior Cabinet officers. We have a president who's saying all sorts of things. We have allies who don't trust us. We have key positions across the government -- excuse me -- key positions across the government that aren't filled.
METZL: And we have strategic chaos.
So, we were much better off -- there were lots of problems with President Obama in certainly enforcing red lines, but President Trump has declared all these kinds of red lines, that Kim Jong-un will never have an ICBM, won't happen, all these things, and it means nothing.
So, the credibility of the presidency of the United States has been shot. The United States is weaker. There's no strategy. I don't know why anyone could say we're in a position of strength.
BALDWIN: I wish we had more time.
And, General, I want you to respond. I appreciate your perspective, and Jamie as well. We have got to go. We will continue it, I promise. General Tata, thank you so much, and thank you, as always, for your service. Jamie Metzl, thank you very much for coming in. And, David Sanger, appreciate it, on North Korea.
Coming up next, though, President Trump expected to make good on a controversial campaign promise, ending the Obama era program that protects so-called dreamers from being deported. [15:15:04]
My next guest is among the nearly 800,000 people who could be directly affected. He came to the U.S. at 4. He now holds a degree in neuroscience and psychology. Will he have to leave?
And an updated advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma expected to strengthen. Where it's tracking. Is there a growing threat to the U.S.? We will explore all of that coming up here on CNN.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President Trump said he would treat dreamers with heart, but now he's expected to end this Obama era program the helps undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. His announcement is expected tomorrow.
Multiple sources tell CNN that the president will call for a six-month delay in any action to give Congress any time to act.
As candidate Trump, he vowed to get rid of it, but he's also seemed to soften over time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 are going to deal with DACA with heart.
We love the dreamers. We love everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Sara Murray is at the White House for us.
Tomorrow -- we know they changed the timeline over Friday, so it is tomorrow that we should find out.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke.
The announcement is coming tomorrow. And just from listening to those Trump sound bites there, you can see why it's a decision they wrestled with. The president has basically been on every side of this issue, vowing to end the program, and also vowing to treat the dreamers with heart and to protect them. But it seem that they have settled on a decision, with the caveat that
this is the Trump administration, and since this decision isn't coming until tomorrow, there's still some wiggle room. But sources say the president does plan to end this program and put it on a six-month delay to essentially allow Congress to create a legislative fix.
That news has been welcomed by some Republicans who believe Congress should be the ones to solve it, but it's been panned by others, including the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a member of Trump's own diversity team, who said he spoke with the White House today. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But, Javier, it sounds like, if the president ends this program, even with a six-month delay, you may decide to leave that diversity council. Is that right?
JAVIER PALOMAREZ, PRESIDENT, HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: That is correct.
None of these young people gets government benefits of any sort. They're not costing us anything. They pay over $2 billion in taxes in form of state and local taxes. It would cost the American taxpayer over $60 billion to deport all these young people. If he gets rid of DACA, he's showing that he's a liar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: And, Brooke, this is part of the people you hear hedging and saying this is the plan, but with the president, you never know if it could change, because while the admission was not planning on having meetings today on the White House about this immigration policy, they fully expected the president and members of his senior staff to be getting phone calls like that one, to be hearing from people who were upset with the decision.
So we will see what exactly he does come out and say tomorrow, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Sara, thank you at the White House.
Let me turn to one of these young people whose life hangs in the balance on the president's decision tomorrow.
Angel Oaxaca-Rivas came to the United States when he was 4 with his parents. He just graduated from Regis University in Denver.
And just a couple years ago, CNN caught up with him and talked with him about how much of DACA program has meant both to him and his family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGEL OAXACA-RIVAS, DREAMER: We gave up to be part of a bigger family here, and sometimes that is hard. But now we're a little more included. It's a good thing. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Angel is with me now from Denver.
Angel, nice to meet you.
OAXACA-RIVAS: Nice to meet you, Brooke. Thank for you having me.
BALDWIN: So, we will get to the news of this in a second, but just a little bit on your background.
As I said, your parents brought you over when you were 4, grew up in the U.S., graduated from university, studied neuroscience and psychology. I want you to explain to me, what has it meant for you being a dreamer?
OAXACA-RIVAS: For me, it's been something that I'm simultaneously proud of and I'm also some -- it's something I have to hide.
I have been surrounded by a lot of loving people in my life, but it's not something that I can trust all the people that I come across in my life immediately off the bat.
It definitely is something that I'm very proud of other dreamers for, because it's a good group to be a part of, but it's not something I can share with all my friends. It definitely makes a space for us.
BALDWIN: You're speaking up now on live national television, and I'm sure part of that is because you're hearing all these reports, right, Angel, that President Trump will end DACA.
Unless Congress acts, you could go back to a place I presume you don't know well, which is Mexico. How does that make you feel?
OAXACA-RIVAS: It's very -- it's terrifying. It's terrifying, in the sense that this is the only home I have ever really known.
So, it's not something that I can easily transition out of. The only options that are going to be left for me if the program ends and I can't renew -- if I can't renew into the program -- would be that I would have to find a way to survive in this country without being able to obtain legal work, or I would have to leave the only home I have ever really known.
BALDWIN: So, either stay here and sort of live in the real shadows, is what I'm hearing, or go back to Mexico, which the last time you were there was when you were itty-bitty. What would you even do back in Mexico? Have you thought that far?
OAXACA-RIVAS: The only thing that I take a little bit of gratitude in is that I was able to finish my degrees.
My education is something that can't be taken away at all. It doesn't matter where I go now, because I know that I have my degree taken care of. And my education is something that no one can take away from me, regardless of my immigration status.
Like, that's something that's made me valuable to someone out there.
BALDWIN: You're right, by the way, and congrats on -- you know, congrats on that degree.
OAXACA-RIVAS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: What does it mean also, though, for just your family? I know your sisters were born here after you guys came over, so they have their papers. What does that mean for your family?
For my family, it's -- it's a strange middle ground to be in, because my parents have been spending the last few months just worried mostly about me, worried about my future, worried about my opportunities and what I can do to take care of myself.
But, on my end, the thing that I think a lot of dreamers themselves worry about is all the information that we have given to the government, the government knows exactly where we are at all times.
And that puts our parents in a very dangerous situation, where they might come to look for me, but they might actually take my parents instead.
And if that's the case, that leaves my sisters, two U.S. citizens, without parents and without their brother who can take care of them.
What would -- Angel, what would you say to the president to try to convince him to allow you to stay?
OAXACA-RIVAS: I think that he can think about this program of DACA as, it was a test.
It was essentially a test given to us. And I think that every person in DACA has shown that, because we were thoroughly vetted, showing how we were living in this country for so long, and how we don't have criminal records, we passed that test.
And it's not OK to get rid of a solution, a temporary solution, if you don't have a long-term solution beforehand. If we didn't learn about it in taking care of the health care bill, then we should have figured it out for the immigration reform that we're trying to do.
BALDWIN: How emotional is this for you?
OAXACA-RIVAS: I mean, it's difficult not to be angry, for sure, but it's -- I think that I need to be able to channel that energy in the right way.
A lot of my friends don't actually know what DACA is.
And these conversations, like on news, they ask me, or they come across it and they say something, but I think just having the conversations of telling them what it does and what I can do and what I can't do really shows people that this was a program that's beneficial for the country and for ourselves, and it doesn't really cost the country anything.
BALDWIN: Thank for you your voice. You do have your education. You, sir, are correct in that. Let's stay in touch with you. Angel Oaxaca-Rivas, thank you.
OAXACA-RIVAS: Thank you very much, Brooke. Thank you. Take care.
BALDWIN: Thank you. You, too.
Coming up next: Hurricane Irma lurking southeast of Florida just a week after Harvey devastated Texas. We will show you the latest forecast models and the chances it could hit Florida.