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Report: Category 3 Hurricane Intensifies; House to Vote Wednesday On Hurricane Relief Bill; First Look at Obama's Parting Letter to Trump. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: A week now after Harvey we are giving it close watch on another hurricane, hurricane Irma. Category 3 storm packing winds about 120 miles per hour, some Caribbean islands are under Hurricane warnings as we speak.

Meteorologist Tom Sater is watching Irma, so it's an issue for the Caribbean, but what about Florida?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think we are going to see definite impact the U.S. next weekend, Brooke. With a major hurricane, it's category 3 now, I think it will be a category 4 this afternoon or even tonight. It's got its eyes on the Caribbean and the southeastern U.S. Let me show you a comparison of two other models. The European and the U.S. or we call the GFS.

These are very reliable models, they are both on top of each other, so they're agreeing with themselves, but over time, there's always some separation when it comes to a forecast, but the euro has it coming right into Florida and the U.S. model has it headed toward the Carolinas. Last Thursday, when we ran this the European was a category 4, right in southern Florida, Miami, 1200 miles up in the northeast was the U.S. So, they're get into agreement.

Now back to where our watches and warnings are and to give you an idea of the track from National Hurricane Center, the northern islands under warnings, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kits, St. Nevis and then British Virgin Islands are next then Puerto Rico as the system makes its way toward the Caribbean it gains strength, a category 4 and sustains that, Brooke, that's just as strong as Harvey was when it destroyed Rockport in Texas.

But we are looking at most likely a pull to the north. Unfortunately, we're losing the window that would pull it past the coast and out in the open waters. Most likely next weekend, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, a big impact for the U.S.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: All right, so Florida, the Carolinas watching Irma closely, thank you, Tom. Congress goes back to work tomorrow helping those

hurt by Harvey will be one of the many items on the to-do list. A senior house leadership aide says that the house will vote on a disaster relief bill on Wednesday. The White House is requesting an initial $7.9 billion in aid but that

is just the tiniest of fractions of what the governor of Texas says his state needs. Kaylee Hartung is in Beaumont. What's the story with the water, Kaylee, can they drink it or not?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet. This is one of the many long lines you can find around the city of Beaumont as people line up at one of the three water distribution points that the city has set up. The water is not drinkable yet, but the new news is the mayor tells us it would be a matter of days before they can. That's better than the estimate she is was giving as recently as yesterday when she thought it would be a week or two before the water coming out of the taps would be safe.

I spoke to a Beaumont resident he's one of the thousands of people in this city who is lined up at one of these distribution points. He told me when the water first started coming out of tap it was brown. Now it is clear but even when he boils it, he's too afraid to drink it. So, he's one of those who is lined up at one of these distribution points.

Now the directions here, you can always hear the volunteers say keep it moving. They tell people to roll down their windows, pop open their trunk. They will throw a case of water in the car, they say you can come through this line as many times as you want, but only one case at a time. They're telling me they've had folks going through seven or eight times, because they're help get water to people in their neighborhood who can't drive here.

That is one of the only caveats here, you have to have a car to cue up. They have the MREs, the meals ready to eat and the tent next door, and then ice in the farthest tent. Brooke, this operation moving incredibly efficiently to get safe drinking water to the people of Beaumont while they need it.

BALDWIN: Drive-thru water bottles in Beaumont, they need it. Thank goodness for the volunteers as well. Thank you, Kaylee.

Next, the advice President Obama left behind for President Trump. What we are now learning after CNN obtained the full text of that inauguration day letter. Here's president Obama placing that envelope in that desk. The question now is President Trump following any of the advice? Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: Now to a CNN exclusive, a first look at the letter former President Obama left for President Trump, as he left the oval office in January. In fact, look at this photo, this is from Pete Souza posting this never before seen image on Instagram today. This was the whole tradition of the outgoing commander in chief to leave advice or well wishes for their successor. You can read the whole think on, but in part President Obama wrote we are just temporary occupants of this office, making us guardians of the Democratic institutions and traditions like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties that our forbearers fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

So, Julian Zelizer is here, CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton. You've heard the letter. What stands out to you?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND HISTORIAN: It's interesting, almost as if President Obama gave President Trump a list of things to follow to be a good president, and President Trump has used it as a checklist of things not to do. It was a very specific set of recommendations from taking care of people and having policies that think of the lack of fortune that many Americans face, to respecting Democratic traditions and institutions.

And you read it now in retrospect, and President Trump has really gone against many of those ideas.

BALDWIN: Interestingly, as our CNN piece notes, it's something that President Trump shows to oval office guests, as this is the letter that President Obama left for me. Also, interesting to know this letter from President Obama was twice as long, from what I understand, of previous presidents leaving letters.

ZELIZER: If you read through them, they're often about preparing for criticism, understanding you'll be criticized, but doing what's right. To really understand that is the centrality of what you have to do as president. This was a little longer, and it was clearly a set of recommendations. I think President Trump does like the ceremony of the presidency, loves the ceremony of the inauguration, but it's not clear that content mattered to him.

[15:45:00] Even on things like foreign policy, where President Obama said remember we're part of these international alliances, it has been central to our security, but we've seen President Trump go against it. It's more the ceremony he holds on to.

BALDWIN: And this lastly, I want to say it was the first line where he was congratulating him on a remarkable run. What did you make of that phrase? Everything that we all covered this president presidential election.

ZELIZER: I think it was genuine. It was. I do think President Obama respected the fact that he pulled this off. He pulled off what was impossible to many observers. It took everyone by surprise. So, I think he starts with that. He acknowledges that. That's Obama being diplomatic before he goes into his suggestions, which are respectfully written. But I think everyone that day after the election felt that way, and here he is, sharing that feeling a little later with President Trump.

BALDWIN: It's extraordinary we have this letter. Read the whole thing at, and Pete Souza, an awesome Instagram account to follow if you're fascinated by presidential photographs.

Still ahead here, the U.S. calling North Korea's test of hydrogen bomb a slap in the face to the international community. What the U.N. and President Trump are prepared to do in response.


BALDWIN: Tonight on CNN, we are premiering this documentary about really the first made for TV president, President Ronald Reagan. It includes some never before Scene clips of the former president in action.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think there is a great reason for hope ultimately to get rid of nuclear missiles all over the world.


BALDWIN: The documentary charts President Reagan's camera-ready presidency from the Hollywood actor turned politician who many now say paved the way for President Donald Trump. I have CNN contributor David Hume Kennerly with me. He is the Pulitzer prize winning photo journalist who has been taking pictures of presidents since 1966. David, so nice to have you on.


BALDWIN: You photographed President Reagan so many times. He was a former actor, he knew how to work the camera. We've got this photo you took here. This is in 1982 holding the cowboy hat high in the air. What does this say about him and his carefully crafted image?

KENNERLY: He knew what he was doing on camera. I spent a lot of time photographing him, and he was always more energetic in public in a way. When I was working with "Time" magazine I spent a lot of time behind scenes with him in a cabinet room, and he wasn't as energetic as he was out in the public. That hat was a perfect example. He knew how to use a prop.

BALDWIN: So, he's got the cowboy hat. We've seen lots of photos with the hat. What about the photo with his chief of staff, with James Baker? Tell me about this one.

KENNERLY: Well, Jim Baker was really the gold standard among chiefs of staff, and that was the words of them. I did a documentary about all the White House chiefs who talked to him all the way back to LBJ through Obamas, and Baker was the kind of guy they looked to. Baker was really important for keeping Reagan's White House on time, on budget. He was an incredibly important guy.

He could speak truth to power to the president of the United States. Reagan respected him and he listened to him.

BALDWIN: What about Mikhail Gorbachev? The famous picture of the two most powerful people in the world. They're smiling at each other. Tell me about this one.

KENNERLY: That was genuine. I like that picture because I was the only photographer in the room outside of the official White House photographer and the Soviet photographer. Gorbachev was looking at him with love and admiration. It was kind of genuine. He really liked him. They hit it off. They had a long conversation one on one, and that's when it wrapped up. I was very, very glad to get that moment because it underscores the value of personal diplomacy and sitting down with people.

BALDWIN: So, you have these gorgeous snapshots of an era, and we have this documentary, David, airing tonight, sort of talking about how it was potentially President Reagan who paved the way for president Trump. What do you make of the comparisons?

KENNERLY: Well, I watched the documentary. I think it's terrific because it really goes to Reagan's personality. That little clip about Sununu, a guy he had never heard of, he was like Sununu -- yes. It was perfect Reagan. One of the things I really liked about him, he had a true sense of self-deprecating humor. He liked people, he didn't say a bad things about people. He was a nice guy.

[15:55:00] I spent enough time around him behind the scenes to know that that was true.

BALDWIN: The film is called "The Reagan Show." it airs tonight on CNN at 9:00 eastern. David Kennerly, thank you very much.

Just in, President Trump has conceptually approved a weapons deal with South Korea, that is according a read out from his filmed conversation today between President Trump and the leader of South Korea, President Moon, which would be the purchase of billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment from the United States by South Korea.

In a separate phone call with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump maintained, quote, all options to address the North Korean threat are on the table.

Still ahead the president of the country's largest union weighs in on what it will mean for his members if President Trump ends the Dreamer program.


BALDWIN: On this Labor Day Monday, let me leave you with this. It has been a long, certainly, emotional, extraordinary journey but finally these two little boys are home for the first time. Staff at Blythedale Children's Hospital in New York saying goodbye to the once conjoined twins Jada and Anais McDonald.

You've been following this, Sanjay Gupta has been following their remarkable story since last year's marathon 27-hour surgery to separate them. The boys will turn two this Saturday and we're told they will be just fine. Jayden is the more physically dominant twin. Apparently, his development is right on track. Anias, who struggled a little more, is also making long strides. Both are taking the first step into the rest of their lives separated and together.

We wish them of course all the best. "THE LEAD" starts now.