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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House: All Options on the Table After North Korea Says It Tested Its Most Powerful Nuke Yet; Trump Expected to End Dreamer Program with Delay; Trump Associates Set to Speak to Intel Committees Probing Russia; Hurricane Irma Now a Category 4; U.S. Impact Likely; Parents Reunited with Infants Evacuated From Hospital; New CNN Film on President Reagan. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 4, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Nuclear fallout. Kim Jong-un claims he exploded a bigger nuclear bomb and puts President Trump and the world to a bigger, tougher test.
Plus, Congress about to return. With the Russia investigation gaining new focus, one former senator says the Intelligence Committees holding hearings can't handle it. Why? He's my guest.
Plus, breaking news: state of emergency. Florida's governor declaring one with a cat-4 hurricane Irma heading this way. We'd just received new word on when and where it might hit.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
BERMAN: Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. I'm John Berman, in for Erin Burnett.
Not a quiet holiday for American troops on the Korean Peninsula, nor for millions of South Koreans within range of North Korean artillery, nor diplomats at the U.N. Security Council, nor President Trump facing his gravest global challenge yet.
We're now waiting for Kim Jong-un's next move. Will he test another continental range missile, a little more than a day after setting off what North Korea claims is a hydrogen bomb, a nuclear device so much more powerful than anything they have ever tested?
South Korea's defense minister now says he is willing to review a plan for the deployment of American tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula.
Also today, the Security Council met in emergency session. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley warning, with its testing and threats, that North Korea, and these are her words, is begging for war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We've kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Tough words today. Tough talk and tweets over the weekend. The president writing that appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing.
And Defense Secretary Mattis weighing in, with the soothing reassurance that the United States is not yet prepared to totally annihilate the North.
The question is, does all this ring hollow after so much similar talk not even a month ago?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So the rhetoric has not changed, but the stakes sure have, and some of the president's response so far has been to publicly scold South Korea and threaten a trade war with China. We're going to talk about all that.
We begin, though, with his outreach to allies, including South Korea.
CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with that.
Sara, what are we learning about those calls?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the White House is making clear today that all options are on the table when it comes to North Korea. That's after the president spoke today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as South Korean President Moon.
Now, in the phone with Moon, the two world leaders agreed that South Korea should possess more powerful military weapons and agreed that the U.S. would be willing to sell them billions in weaponry and equipment.
Now, from there -- sorry, from there, we have seen this tone change from the president day-to-day. It was just yesterday that he put that tweet out insisting that South Korea was trying to appease North Korea and it was sure to be a failed strategy. A pretty clear indication that even as President Trump is evaluating America's options, he is still hoping to put pressure on U.S. allies to step up when it comes to curbing North Korea's provocation -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray for us at the White House.
We've heard the president say all options are on the table. What military options are realistically on the table?
Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This live fire exercise by South Korean forces, a direct military response to the North's largest nuclear test. Army and air Forces simulating an attack on North Korea's nuclear test site.
Even as North Korean state media issued new threats to the U.S., including Guam, one editorial saying: Every time the U.S. goes crazy talking about sanctions and war, our will of vengeance will become 100 and 1,000 times stronger.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley very much in the hard-line mode, back at (ph) Kim.
HALEY: His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he's begging for war. War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now.
STARR: Rising tensions pushing Defense Secretary James Mattis to exactly where he never wants to be, center stage at the White House.
JAMES MATTIS, 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.
[20:05:01] STARR: But are there credible military options without thousands of casualties?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What I think Secretary Mattis was doing was simply trying to convince the North that we have this option, and they cannot be certain we would never use it under certain circumstances.
STARR: It may be the most critical decision ever for Donald Trump.
STEVE WARREN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: How much of a price we are willing to pay, how much we are willing to bleed to accomplish our objectives. This is a decision not for military members. This is a decision for elected political leaders to make. And they always have to weigh the cost versus the benefit.
STARR: Short of U.S. attack, the Pentagon could send an aircraft carrier offshore, the Ronald Reagan is nearby. More bombers could be sent. South Korea and Japan both upping their missile defenses in cooperation with the U.S.
STARR: Some U.S. military assets could move in the days ahead, closer to the Korean peninsula. Nothing has been announced yet. But the bottom line remains this: would any of it convince Kim Jong-un to change his mind about proceeding with his weapons program? The betting money, it won't change his mind -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon -- Barbara, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT tonight: Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman, thank you so much for being with us.
Ambassador Nikki Haley says that Kim Jong-un is begging for war. Do you think that's the case?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, it's certainly a risk that he's taking. But you know, backing up a little bit, I don't think her comments or those of Donald Trump are helpful at all. In fact, clearly they are backfiring. They are actually pushing Kim Jong-un to accelerate his nuclear and missile development programs.
We need a different strategy. Inflammatory rhetoric, fire and fury, looks today more like fecklessness and failure. I just don't -- I'm stunned at how inept the diplomatic effort has been thus far in the Trump administration. Although maybe I shouldn't be, since barely any diplomacy capability left in the State Department.
BERMAN: So, what should have Nikki Haley said today? What words should she have used that she didn't use?
CONNOLLY: I think we have to have a whole bunch of very strict measures we're prepared to take. And the threat certainly stays on the table of a military option. But I don't think many people take that seriously, because of the consequences on the peninsula in the South, as well as the North and in Japan.
I do think what's missing is a carrot. There are things the North Korean regime desperately would like. Recognition, admission, inclusion, trade investment opportunities. We may dangle those out. There has to be a carrot along with a stick.
BERMAN: Is that not rewarding them for their provocations?
CONNOLLY: No, no. Look, we followed this model successfully for what we want, not what they want. We did this for Iran and it worked. Iran rolled back its nuclear development program with a series of carrots and sticks, including some relief on sanctions. If you don't have carrots, then the only thing left is the stick. And does anyone, including Kim Jong-un, really think we're ready to go to Armageddon tomorrow to stop their nuclear development program?
BERMAN: The issue with Kim Jong-un, and let me put it in the president's words here because he put this on Twitter. He said the U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years. Talking is not the answer. You know, aside from the fact he said this on Twitter, he's not wrong that the U.S. in different ways has been in discussions with North Korea for a very long time, longer than 25 years.
A whole lot of presidents have had administrations in discussions with North Korea. Sanctions have been tried. And during that time, what has North Korea done? It's tested a ton of missiles, and six nuclear weapons, 108 missiles, 28 this year alone, and now, six nuclear weapons.
BERMAN: So, talking hasn't done anything, at least not yet. So why would things be different? Go ahead.
CONNOLLY: John -- John, that's a little bit of revisionist history. Actually, when we were talking and engaging and relieving some of the sanctions under Bill Clinton, actually, they rolled back and froze their nuclear development program. It wasn't without effect.
Now, I'm not saying that, you know, carrots alone somehow will make this go away. And it may be that we're beyond the point of no return, because he is so close getting what he wants. Why would he give it up for any reason?
But the idea that we're going to somehow have a nuclear retaliatory strike to stop them, you go to remember, Seoul is a suburb of the demilitarized zone.
[20:10:02] It's only about 30, 35 miles away. So, you know, the use of nuclear weapons to stop them in the North would actually spill over into China in the North and South Korea in the South in devastating ways. And Japan would not be unaffected either.
So is that a realistic option for us? And I don't think -- the man that really matters in answering that question is Kim Jong-un. And I don't believe he takes it as a credible threat.
BERMAN: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.
CONNOLLY: My pleasure.
BERMAN: OUTFRONT next, North Korea claims it tested a hydrogen bomb, much more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Would Kim Jong-un actually use this weapon? We're going to ask a former spy.
Plus, a dream deferred or denied. President Trump gets ready to put the lives of 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants on hold. The real question tonight: what, if anything, will Republican lawmakers do about it?
And we do have breaking news: new data from the National Hurricane Center on where Hurricane Irma may hit and how very hard.
BERMAN: Welcome back to a special Labor Day edition of OUTFRONT.
A strong warning tonight for North Korea after it conducted its sixth nuclear test over the weekend. Ambassador Nikki Haley urging the U.N. to seek the strongest sanctions possible to punish Kim Jong-un whom she says is, quote, begging for war. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war.
[20:15:05] War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now. But our country's patience is not unlimited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: OUTFRONT now: a former State Department spokesperson and former Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby. He's also a retired rear admiral from the Navy. And former CIA operative Bob Baer.
Admiral, I want to start with you in the words from Ambassador Haley. Kim Jong-un is begging for war. A, is he? And, B, are those smart words to use?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: I don't think it's very clear that he's begging for war, and I don't know based on what she's citing is the evidence of his tests and ballistic missile program that that's what he wants. I think most analysts will tell you what he wants is an insurance policy. He believes the United States is an existential threat and then having a nuclear weapons program with ballistic missile capability helps protect him against that threat. That's the conventional thinking. So, I don't think she's accurate the way she put that.
Number two, no, I don't think that was wise. All that's doing is escalating the rhetoric. We've already had enough escalatory rhetoric. I think what we need now is to really move forward on meaningful diplomatic solutions here.
Sanctions are important. I'm glad they're going to pursue additional sanctions. What matters is they get implemented. But there's also room here to try to find ways, incentives, to get back to the negotiating table.
Right now, Kim Jong-un doesn't have much incentive, right? He's got a program that's moving at a pretty fast clip, faster than most people thought it would. But we could do a better job working with China, to see if China could use their influence to try to get some sort of negotiations at some level going again.
BERMAN: You know, Bob Baer, what's the impact of the words, these tough words from Ambassador Nikki Haley, followed, you know, on the summer of fire and fury from the president. What impact do these words have on Kim Jong-un and could he ever back down because of them?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, John knows, you know, threatening the North Koreans has never worked, it never will. This is a culture that is basically face saving. It's just going to -- as John said, they look at the United States as an existential threat and Kim Jong-un right now is wondering whether we are going to initiate a war. And if he gets to the point that he does, he might strike first
against Seoul or an ICBM missile, whatever target he can hit. We simply don't know what his capabilities are now. But the last thing you want to do is push the North Koreans into a corner, because you could have an accident and an escalation and a real full-on war.
BERMAN: You don't think, Bob, the U.S. would ever be safe to assume that Kim Jong-un would not use a hydrogen bomb?
BAER: Oh, I think he would use it, you know, if he thought he were under threat and the regime was going to go down. John, you have to remember that North Korea is in effect a theocracy. And this family, the Kim family, is key to that country's survival, at least that's the way they look at it.
And if we did anything like an attempt assassination or regime change, they would strike back in every way they could. The North Koreans -- I've operated against them -- a very formidable enemy. And I agree with John, you want to go into diplomacy. And the last thing you want to do, by the way, is threaten the Chinese with cutting off trade or going after the South Koreans on trade. That's just -- it's crazy.
KIRBY: I want to -- let me just peg on to that --
BERMAN: Go ahead.
KIRBY: Bob makes a really important point about decisions space. You know, we -- you know, President Trump keeps minimizing his own decisions space. Every time he talks about fire and fury and military options, which we all connote as being war, he's closing down his own maneuver space.
But Bob makes a really good point. You're also helping close down Pyongyang's decision space. And we don't have perfect visibility into how this guy thinks or he operates. But one of the things we ought to try to preserve is the maneuver space there, as well.
BERMAN: Admiral, let me ask you about one of the military decisions that might be made in the near future. The secretary of defense -- the defense secretary or defense minister in South Korea says he's going to review plans or is willing to review plans to bring back American tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea. I guess the last ones were removed decades ago.
Do you see that as a realistic option and what the impact of that be?
KIRBY: Honestly, I don't, John, to be honest with you. I think he was speaking a little off the cuff. You might have noticed, the blue house came out after him and sort of put it back in the box and said, look, there's no change to our policy about a denuclearized peninsula. I do not see that as a viable option that the Defense Department would support at this time.
BERMAN: Bob Baer, let me ask you the risk to the world that another actor, a new actor appears to have a hydrogen bomb. What are the possible side effects of that? BAER: Well, we may have to accept the possibility that North Korea
has become a nuclear armed country with a deterrence and ability to attack. It may be too late for that. Diplomacy has failed along the way. We've obviously made mistakes. And there's not much we can do.
This is -- like I said, this is a very tough regime, and they are -- will not hesitate to go to war if they think it will contribute to their survival in some form.
[20:20:03] Now, we may look at that as a little bit crazy, but this is a paranoid regime. Kim Jong-un killed his half brother with a weapon of mass destruction in an international airport. So, I don't underestimate these people.
BERMAN: All right. Bob Baer, Admiral Kirby, sobering discussion, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT next, if the president tomorrow puts the DREAM Act on hold, how does that square with his promise to treat the DREAMers with heart?
Plus, breaking news. Florida braces for Hurricane Irma. That happens as Texans recover from Harvey, including the tiniest survivors, a baby born 10 weeks early, who was separated from her family.
BERMAN: Welcome back to a special Labor Day edition of OUTFRONT.
Just hours from now, President Trump is expected to announce that he's ending DACA. This is the program that protected undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. Sources say the president will call for a sixth-month delay in action to let Congress pass legislation that would allow those immigrants to stay in the country.
OUTFRONT, "Washington Post" national political reporter, Abby Phillips, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner", David Drucker, and CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston.
Abby, I want to start with you. I think the fact that we don't know exactly what the president is going to say tomorrow colors this discussion a great deal, correct? Because he could come out tomorrow and he could say, I'm setting this deadline six months from now, but I want legislation. I'm going to work for legislation. I want these 800,000 DREAMers to stay, and I want them to stay badly.
You know, it depends how he frames it, doesn't it?
[20:25:02] ABBY PHILLIPS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that's absolutely right. I mean, the reality is, we know this has been an issue that he's been very personally torn by. But it's partly about keeping a campaign promise, or at least appearing that that's what he's doing, and also about setting the wheels in motion for Congress to do something. I think the reality for a lot of DREAMer advocates is that the DACA
program has always been in danger. The best solution has always been for Congress to codify in some way, and Trump can really take the lead on that and actually show some leadership here and say, hey, you know, I'm setting a six-month window here for you guys to do something. Here's what I would like to see you do.
I'm not sure that we really knows where he's going to land on that, whether he is going to signal to his base whether he wants to be tough on DREAMers, or what he said repeatedly, which is that he wants to have heart for these young people who were brought here at no fault of their own.
BERMAN: If you want to get a sense of the pressure from the so-called base, let me read you some that Congressman Steve King, congressman from Iowa wrote on this, Steve King very anti-immigration. He said: Ending DACA now gives chance to restore rule of law. Delaying it so Republican leadership can push amnesty is Republican suicide.
So, David Drucker, you do see the pressure the president night face from a certain wing of his party.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, sure. Look, the president is going to get it from both sides. There are Republicans that want to codify DACA and have always believed that you should do something about the DREAMers and you should pass legislation. And then, of course, you have Republican hardliners on immigration, or immigration hawks, and they look at anything like this as a form of amnesty and they're going to oppose it.
I think the real interesting part here and Abby talked about this, is the fact that if it's as reported that the president is ending DACA, which was always constitutionally questionable, but giving a six-month window before he implements the end of the program, what he's basically saying is, I'll sign a bill. Even if he doesn't lead on trying to get a bill passed the finish line, what he's actually saying is, fine, I'll give you guys six months.
And then the interesting thing, John, is, with President Obama in office, given the tricky politics for Republicans on immigration, it was always difficult unless they at least had a majority of their majority supporting anything to send a bill to Obama because of all that meant in Republican primaries and things like that. But here you have President Obama who theoretically is saying, I'll sign a bill.
So, exactly what are the -- what are the conditions under which it's acceptable for Paul Ryan in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate to allow a bill to go forward, including with Democratic votes, and get something to the president? I think this is something that is a whole new sort of playing field for Republicans on immigration. If you have somebody like Trump who is willing, at least theoretically, to sign a bill.
BERMAN: The real problem or one real problem here, Maeve, is that there are 800,000 people who are being used to some extent as pawns in this political game here. If you were one of these DREAMers, you don't know for certain that Congress will pass this. Congress has not passed plenty of things, and it seemed almost certain that it would pass, and then what happens to you?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And, you know, in places like California where I've been out talking to some of these DREAMers, I mean, there's such a sense of fear and uncertainty. You have legal groups that are just feel overwhelmed and feel like they don't have enough funding to, you know, help getting legal advice to some of the other DREAMers. So, there really is a great sense of uncertainty.
And I think also frustration among Democratic leaders, you know, the mayors of big cities around the country, that, you know, if Congress were to not pass the bill here, that they wouldn't really have a lot of practical options to protect these DREAMers. And that's going to be a really interesting thing to watch. A lot of them are out there talking, trying to put pressure on the president, even Republican congressmen here in California who are, you know, vulnerable in 2018, trying to get the president to, you know, to really support a DACA bill.
So, it will be really interesting to se what the political impact is. And there's a huge downside for Republicans if they can't get something through.
BERMAN: Let me just remind you of where President Trump and candidate Trump has been on this issue. He's sort of been everywhere on this issue.
BERMAN: Let's play some of the sound we have on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.
We always talk about DREAMers for other people. I want the children that are growing up in the United States to be dreamers also. They're not dreaming right now.
It's a very, very tough subject. We're going to deal with DACA with heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: With heart. And Abby, we know that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are pushing him hard to deal with DACA with heart. Paul Ryan is, as well. He is facing pressure within his White House and his own party to be careful here.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and let's just remember, the DACA -- the principle behind DACA is actually very popular. The American people by and large do not believe that the right thing to do is to deport the nearly 1 million people or more who were brought here as children and who are existing in the United States without any sort of legal status.
What I think is interesting about where we are in this debate though is that for many years, under the Obama era, this DACA debate was about the executive overreach and to some extents among Democrats, that was about what to do with the DACA kids. Do we push for citizenship, do we push for green cards? My sense is that where we are right now is that Democrats -- you would probably find nearly a 100 percent of Democrats in both chambers voting in favor of any sort of DACA measure that gives these kids some sort of certainly, whether that is something slightly short of citizenship or otherwise. And I think that's a different dynamic than we've had here. You know, it will be about whether Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan want to go along with that. But they can conceivably use some Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats to push something over the line which is a different dynamic that they had in the Obama years. That's new to the Trump era, because of where we are.
RESTON: And John, you've seen some surveys even among Trump voters, you see a numbers as high as 73 percent of them supporting, allowing DACA kids to stay in the country. So there is a huge downside potentially for Trump.
BERMAN: Which is why the actual words he chooses to use tomorrow will be so crucial.
BERMAN: All right. Maeve Reston, Abby Phillip, David (INAUDIBLE) thanks so much. And I think also (INAUDIBLE) useful influence for the President Obama --former President Obama comes to us and talks about this, as well.
Next, strong words from the Russia probe from a former senator who ran the 9/11 investigation in Congress, why he thinks his old colleagues may be setting themselves up for trouble. And later hurricane Irma and the chances that could bring a Harvey level punch to Florida and all the way up the eastern seaboard.
[20:36:01] BERMAN: Welcome back. You're watching a special edition of "OutFront." Congress is back tomorrow, and the next few weeks, both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are expected to conduct closed door interviews with high ranking members of the Trump campaign, or at least officials connected to President Trump, including Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, Jr. Former senator Bob Graham was the Democratic co-chair of the joint congressional inquiry in to the September 11/9 attack. He is out front tonight and Senator, you wrote an op-ed where you have deep concerns about how the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are handling this. And one of your biggest concerns seemed to be you think there's a very real possibility that Robert Mueller will not be allowed to finish his investigation.
BOB GRAHAM, FORMER U.S. SENATOR; RAN CONGRESS 9/11 INVESTIGATION: I don't know what the odds are that he won't be able to finish the investigation, but it seems as if every time he gets a little bit closer to the core of the issue of Russian involvement, that creates a flurry of activity that may be interpreted that he's under threat of being cashiered. My position is that if that happens, the full responsibility for the investigation into what is an unprecedented attack on American democracy is going to fall on the Congress. And I don't think the Congress is very well prepared to accept that responsibility.
So my op-ed urged that the Congress take a fact, take another step by getting more competent staff for this particular type of investigation. Be sure that they're going to have access to all the records that have been assembled when Mr. Comey and now Mr. Mueller were running the Department of Justice investigation. And then all of that be done with a sense of urgency, that we get this information completed, out to the American public, as rapidly as possible.
BERMAN: Create a backstop you think in case the Mueller investigation is somehow called off. You talked about the staffing issues. You don't think that the committees are sufficiently staffed to handle the investigations right now. How about what they have done so far, how would you grade their performance, these committees?
GRAHAM: I would say unknown or incomplete, because there's been so little information made available to the public as to just where their investigation is at this time. My concern is that when we investigated 9/11, the first decision was to merge the House and the Senate so that there was not any appearance of competition or conflict between the two houses. And then we hired an independent staff under an excellent, very professional director. And with that, we were able, I think, to do a deep, thorough, and very persuasive inquiry to what happened on 9/11. I don't see those elements being in place now, the inquiry into the Russian meddling in our election.
BERMAN: Do you think there needs to be an end date here? You know, the Senate Intel Chair Richard Burr says, he wants to finish by the end of the year. Do you think end of the year is realistic? Do you think they should they push to get it done by that date?
GRAHAM: I think they should push to get it done as quickly as possible. And to do a thorough inquiry that will have the confidence and support of the American people that this is the truth and we can rely on that in terms of whatever policy decisions will flow from the inquiry into Russian meddling.
BERMAN: How do you think the President has behaved so far vis-a-vis the various investigations?
GRAHAM: Well, I think this is just another example as your previous segment on DACA, where the branches of government are not working well together. Yes, we believe in the theory of controlling tyrannical government by dividing responsibility among the three branches. But the three branches still must have a level of respect for each other and for themselves. And I don't think that's been very apparent in the way in which the DACA issue has been handled, and certainly not in this Russian meddling case.
[20:40:21] BERMAN: All right, Bob Graham, a lot of advice to the current members of Congress. Thank you for your time, sir.
GRAHAM: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: Next, we do have breaking news. A state of emergency declared in Florida, the very latest on hurricane Irma, which could be headed that way. And in Texas, the mother and child reunion after Harvey and all that went into it. That's next.
BERMAN: Breaking news tonight. Florida's Governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency in advance of hurricane Irma, it is now a category four storm. And all of the computer models showing where it might go are coming into focus. Just in some fresh data.
CNN'S Tom Sater in the Weather Center. Tom, give us the latest.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the 5:00 p.m. advisory, John, it became a category four, but in the last few hours it strengthened another 10 miles per hour. It is now stronger than Harvey when it plowed into Rockport and we saw the devastation there. There have only been a handful of storms that have been this strong for the Lesser Antilles since the satellite era began.
[20:45:05] But again, it does have its eyes true the Caribbean and on the south eastern U.S. We've got warnings and effects, where in green lines, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda, six to nine foot storm surge, heavy amounts of rain already now for Puerto Rico, a state of emergency. The center looks like it stays over water for the most part. Throughout the week we'll see some deviation to the north or south. We may see some fluctuations in the strength. It carries it as a category five to the northern coast of Cuba. And this is when it might be a little interesting come Friday night, we expect the trend to turn north ward. If that occurs, it all depends on the timing of when the turn to the right occurs, John, of who is going to have a landfall, in Florida or Carolinas and at what time.
Let me quickly show you a computer model. We will put the European and the U.S. back to back, on top of each other. You wand to see them trending together, that gives you confidence. There's always some spread in the end, but there is not much here.
This is Sunday afternoon near West Palm, Miami. Now let's take a look at, of course, Monday, which is September 11th. Both systems bring it up into the southeast with a landfall here, but it could be anywhere, John. We're hoping for a small window to keep it off-shore, but that window is closing quickly. But it looks like a major category three, four or possibly five next weekend.
BERMAN: Some ugly models tonight.
BERMAN: Tom Sater, thanks so much.
All right, hurricane Harvey, of course, destroyed homes, up ended lives, forced families and friends to be separated. After one hospital was shut down in the aftermath, some newborns were transported to other facilities. Their parents frantically worried about when they would reunite. Now those some families are breathing a sigh of relief. Elizabeth Cohen is out front.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Itzel Gonzalez, born ten weeks early, so tiny, so fragile. Her parents so worried. And then on Friday they were separated. The five-week-old had to be air lifted out of Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, Texas because the hospital had no clean water.
MARTHA SIFUENTES, ITZEL'S MOTHER: I just broke down. To think that I couldn't see her, knowing that she was going to get on the helicopter without us, I got really emotional. It was really heartbreaking.
COHEN: Martha Sifuentes and Angel Gonzalez couldn't follow their baby to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, 120 miles away.
SIFUENTES: We didn't know when we were again, be able to see her again. Thank God everything cleared out on the roads so we were able to make it like the next day.
COHEN (on camera): On Saturday they were reunited with their baby.
COHEN (on camera): So Angel, do you remember how you felt when you first saw your daughter back here in Galveston?
ANGEL GONZALEZ, ITZEL'S FATHER: Yes. It is almost like I seen her again for the first time. I was real happy. I got to see her again.
COHEN (voice-over): Itzel's parents are among the lucky ones.
COHEN (on camera): Let me introduce you to some of the other Beaumont babies. This little boy, born seven weeks early and now this little girl right here, she was born 12 weeks early. And this boy, he couldn't breathe on his own when he was born. All of these babies survived the flight from Beaumont to Galveston, but their parents can't come see them because they can't get out of Beaumont. Eight babies in all life flighted to safety. Dr. Joan Richardson, head of pediatrics at UTMB took the babies in.
DR. JOAN RICHARDSON, HEAD OF PEDIATRICS, UTMB: They were asleep. They were very happy. They could have cared less that they had been in a helicopter.
COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Snehal Doshi, the neonatologist who flew with the babies from Beaumont has stayed with them every step of the way.
COHEN (on-camera): Well, that's a big sacrifice to stay with these babies instead of going back home.
DR. SNEHAL DOSHI, NEONATOLOGIST, BAPTIST HOSPITAL: It is, it is. So it was sacrifice for all of us.
COHEN: Why did you do it?
DOSHI: They're our babies. The parents and their families, they trusted us with their kids.
COHEN: All of the babies are doing well. Itzel recently was allowed out of the incubator and into a regular crib.
RICHARDSON: That's a big step. She will be going to college soon.
COHEN (voice-over): The babies are expected to go back to Beaumont on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Galveston, Texas.
BERMAN: The cutest evacuees anywhere. All right, out front next, we will look back at a time when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear annihilation and the President of the United States was a 70- year-old former celebrity.
[20:53:39] BERMAN: In just a few minutes CNN will premiere our latest film "The Reagan Show." It features never-before seen footage providing unique look at what President Ronald Reagan was like behind the scenes. Here is a clip of President Reagan as he prepares to deliver a New Year's Eve greeting that air in the Soviet Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, this is Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. Got no history books over there? I don't think so. I am pleased to speak to you on the occasion of --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK?
REAGAN: Good evening. This is Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. I'm pleased to speak to you on the occasion of a New Year. On behalf of the American people, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Let's work together to make it a year of peace. There is no better goal for 1986 or for any year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Poignant words, especially tonight. Out front Doug Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian, author of "The Reagan Diaries" and Ann Compton, former White House Correspondent for ABC News and my journalistic guiding light for nearly two decades. Ann, let me start with you, and let's start on the subject of nuclear weapons right now because tonight, we have been talking so much about North Korea. President Reagan dealt with the Soviet Union and nuclear disarmament. You know, President Trump dealing with North Korea and its nuclear weapons now. What are the similarities and what are the differences here Ann?
[20:55:01] ANN COMPTON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Well, the differences are so striking. Ronald Reagan came to power during the cold war at a time when the Soviet Union was huge and had a mighty, mighty nuclear force, as did the United States. But it was a government where relations weren't great, but at least you could talk to them. President Trump, who has had far less government experience than President Reagan did, is now dealing with a leader in North Korea who is so unpredictable and hasn't responded to any of the sanctions and the other diplomatic things. So it is a different time and they're two very different presidents.
BERMAN: Yes. And Doug Brinkley, you know, President Reagan, though he had been an actor a long time before, also came into office with very set views about how you felt about the soviet union. I'm not so sure that President Trump came in with quite a similar background when it comes to North Korea.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Not at all. I mean Donald Trump likes to kind of kiss the ring of Vladimir Putin, Ronald Reagan would never reduce himself to such a thing. Reagan was a big internationalist and he likes building friendship with our allies around the world. I mean, today you have in Great Britain, Theresa May doesn't like Donald Trump but back then in the '80s Margaret Thatcher adored Ronald Reagan. You know, Angela Merkel didn't like -- doesn't like Trump but Helmut Kohl like Reagan.
Pope John Paul II collaborated with Reagan and Romania and Poland to promote freedom. And you have Donald Trump refusing to cooperate with Pope Francis on climate change. So Reagan was a global player who had many, many friends. Trump is more isolationists and likes to go it alone.
BERMAN: Yes, nevertheless though, there are people who do like to make the comparison. They're both -- you know, both have entertainment in their background right now. Listen to Mike Pence, vice president of the United States, how he compared the two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a sense of this man. I have a sense of his heart. I have a sense of his hands- on style of leadership. And for all of the world he reminds me of Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan achieved great things in his life and his career, a movie star, a celebrity, a governor of the great state of California, but he never lost the common touch, did he?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Ann Compton, what do you make of that comparison? COMPTON: Well, there are -- it is really intriguing when you think that the -- over the span of 35 years, the two oldest men ever to become president both share that television experience earlier in their life, but Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump both came to office at a time when the media landscape of America was changing to their advantage, each of them.
Ronald Reagan, a master at television. We saw a lot of him. He went directly to the American people and in addresses from the Oval Office. He invented that Saturday radio address; five minutes of unfiltered Ronald Reagan live every week.
Donald Trump has come to office at a time when he is harnessed one of the social media outlets, Twitter, unfiltered and uses it. What is really different about the two of them is Ronald Reagan needled the press a lot, treated us as a foil sometimes, but he wasn't afraid of the press and he didn't hate the press. Donald Trump has demonized the press and called us enemies of the American people. Two very different approaches.
BERMAN: And the other thing, Doug, is that Ronald Reagan -- you know, President Trump was new to politics, he just was. Ronald Reagan spent two decades at the center of American politics before he became president.
BRINKLEY: Exactly. I mean as governor of California in the 1960s we got to watch Ronald Reagan in action. Some people didn't like him, but everybody knew he was a good governor, that he was competent. We could look at his managerial style. He would be very flexible. I mean, the big thing is Reagan was a conservative, but he also wanted to be seen as a pragmatic conservative. So he did things to promote wilderness and the environment at different things. I mean just look at Ronald Reagan and immigration and the issue of Mexico. I mean Reagan would have been very open-hearted to the dreamers.
He was -- now you are looking at, you know, Donald Trump kind of demonizing them. So their hearts were different. Reagan was an optimist. Donald Trump operates as a pessimist. Reagan hated Americans to be afraid and Trump feeds off of making people fearful.
BERMAN: And we have about 10 seconds left. Behind the scenes Ronald Reagan, what was he like?
COMPTON: Ronald Reagan won two elections with 44 states the first time, 49 states the other. President Trump has won with less than the full majority, so both of them have different leverage when it comes to the American people.
BERMAN: All right. Ann Compton, great to see you. Doug Brinkley, great to see you always as well. Thank you both so much for joining us. And thank you all for joining us on this Special Labor Day Edition of Erin Burnett OutFront. "The Reagan Show" is next.