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Mattis' blunt warning to North Korea; U.N. Security Council calls emergency meeting; Trump's trade threat; North Korea preparing another missile test; Southeast Texas starts big cleanup; Nurse speaks put following ugly arrest. Aired 4-4:30 pm ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 4:00   ET




JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: Any threat to the United States or its territories will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of defense with a firm warning for North Korea after Pyongyang's latest nuclear tests. Now we've learned the U.S. and South Korea will look to deploy military assets including bombers. We are live in Seoul.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump will propose ending protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But could Congress give dreamers another chance?

KOSIK: And could billions in recovery funds for Harvey victims be tied to raising the nation's debt limit? The treasury secretary says yes.


KOSIK: Good morning and welcome to Early Start. I'm Alison Kosik.

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt. It's Monday, September 4th. It's 4 A.M. in the east, it's 4:30 P.M. in Pyongyang.

Top U.S. defense officials are responding to North Korea's biggest nuclear test yet with a blunt warning, defense Secretary James Mattis advising that any threat by Pyongyang against the U.S. or its allies could draw what he called a massive military response.

Mattis' warning came after a meeting with the president, vice president, and top national security advisers. Mattis said, quote, our commitments among allies are ironclad.


MATTIS: 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.

KOSIK: The new warning comes after North Korea's claim it tested a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, a test overseen by leader Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang claimed the weapon was designed to be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile, the kind it has also been testing. President trump was asked about the nuclear test Sunday as he left a church service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you attack North Korea?



KOSIK: Our coverage begins this morning with Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison, Alex, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and General Joe Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making that extraordinary appearance in front of the White House.

Mattis delivering a very carefully worded message, saying that the U.S. does have military options, that any threat from North Korea to the U.S. or its allies would be met with a massive military response.

He was very clear the U.S. isn't looking for total annihilation of North Korea. But make no mistake, they are looking to send this very stern, grim message to Kim Jong-un that if he does not give up his nuclear weapons, if he threatens or attacks, that the U.S. would take him out.

The U.S. strategy at the moment if there is a military strategy is to try and convince Kim Jong-un that he himself and his regime could not survive if they were to attack South Korea, Japan, Guam, or the United States.

But on the other hand, it's a message we've heard before. None of it has worked to change Kim's mind. And by all accounts, this latest underground nuclear test is a massive step forward. It is a larger test than anything North Korea has done before. Alison, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Thanks to Barbara Starr. The U.N. Security Council is set to meet in emergency session this morning in the wake of the latest test. It's the second meeting in just a week. But past meetings have done little to stop North Korea's provocations.


MARQUARDT: Earlier this morning, South Korea's army and Air Force conducted a combined live-fire exercise in response to the North Korean nuclear test.

Just moments ago, North Korean state media blasted South Korea for the drill saying it shows Seoul is hell-bent on escalating confrontation. The exercise came after President Trump called out South Korea on Twitter, suggesting that Seoul is appeasing the North Koreans.


MARQUARDT: CNN Correspondent Ian Lee is live with us in Seoul, South Korea, with regional response. Good morning, Ian. So what's South Korea's approach to this latest test?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you did have those exercises in the early morning hour. I should point out that those were designed to target North Korean leadership in the event of a war, and their nuclear programs.

That is a strong show of force right there. We're expecting more drills and exercises to take place. They have these advance air-to- surface missiles that they equip to their F-15s. We've seen them use that -- them in these drills.

[04:05:00] We're also hearing that South Korea wants more advanced U.S. weaponry on the Peninsula. Now what does that exactly mean? They say that they want the most sophisticated. Does that mean nuclear weapons? Well, South Korea isn't saying.

But do -- did say that they are committed to denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Also what we're watching right now is North Korea. There are reports that North Korea could be preparing for another missile test, so a continuation of their provocative measures that we've seen from the north.

As far as South Korea goes, they do have this two-pronged approach. One is the show the force. They want to show North Korea that they are ready for any scenario that would involve war.

But the other side is a side that we're seeing at the U.N. Security Council as these diplomatic measures. They're trying to rally everyone in the region to come out against North Korea and isolate them diplomatically and economically.

Although from what we've heard from inside North Korea, that is having almost a reverse effect with North Korea seeing that this is only galvanizing their nuclear program. Alex.

MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Ian Lee in South Korea.

KOSIK: OK. Time for an Early Start on your money, President Trump says the U.S. is considering stopping trade with any nation doing business with North Korea in response to the country's latest nuclear tests.


KOSIK: This could mean a halt to U.S. trade with China which has approve any economic sanctions on North Korea but remains the key economic partner for the rogue nation.

China is the U.S.' biggest trading partner in goods, total trade between the U.S. and China topping almost $650 billion last year and that's according to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative.

Meantime, the Washington Post reporting this weekend that President Trump is telling advisers to prepare for withdrawing the U.S. from a free trade agreement with South Korea.

According to the paper, Trump is frustrated that the new South Korean President Moon is not willing to accept some U.S. Trade demands.


MARQUARDT: Now joining us to help break this down, this latest escalation in the standoff, CNN Contributor Jean Lee. She is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center. Good morning, Jean.

KOSIK: Good morning, Jean.

MARQUARDT: Now, first off, we're just getting word that the U.S. and South Korea are going to be deploying more military assets. Specifically we're told aircraft carriers and bombers. Is that a move that Pyongyang will see as a provocation that needs to be responded to?

JEAN LEE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is what we call the show of force, right. This is what we call -- this is part of the military options that the U.S. and South Korea are talking about. There's really not much more that they can do than this.

But what they want to do is bring in this intimidating -- these intimidating military assets into the region just to remind North Korea that they can obliterate North Korea if necessary. And yes, North Korea will see this as a provocation.

Even the suggestions and reports that we're hearing that they're considering or that they're planning to bring these in will give North Korea the justification to continue testing.

So we're seeing reports from South Korean intelligence that they may be preparing for another ballistic missile test, and perhaps this is part of that reaction from North Korea.

KOSIK: OK. So we're seeing a lot of military might happening in an effort to try to, you know, push North Korea into backing down and then there's the sanctions question. We've seen sanctions, you know, placed on North Korea for many, many years.

They clearly haven't done anything. What in the world can be done? You know, now we're hearing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talking about stronger sanctions.

That the U.S. maybe wouldn't do traWde with countries that go ahead and do trade with North Korea and what's the likelihood that the sanctions could go as far as maybe sanctioning China banks?

LEE: That's certainly an option, although it's not a realistic one because trade with China is so important to the United States. And we are talking about China because 90 percent of North Korea's trade is with China. But it is a threat, right?

It's just to put China on warning that they need to really enforce the sanctions that are in place to make sure that they have some bite because these sanctions on North Korea are not going to be effective unless they are enforced.

And it's certainly been quite easy for the North Koreans to get around them. In terms of future sanctions, there is one area that had a lot of potential in really biting the North Koreans and that's possibly sanctioning the flow of gasoline, fuel, into North Korea.

This is something that North Koreans -- I can I was there in May and this is something that they were very concerned about. They are worried that China might actually stop that flow of fuel and that would have huge repercussions on their economy and o their livelihoods. And so, the last round of U.N. sanctions did not include any embargoes on fuel.

[04:10:00] So we'll certainly see if that's something that the U.S. pushes for. China will definitely be pushing back against that because they know what a devastating effect that could have on North Korea's economy.

That is where we see a little bit of room for additional sanctions and of course, as I mentioned, really pressuring China to make sure that those sanctions that are in place are enforced.

MARQUARDT: Jean, when it comes to North Korea, obviously the U.S. needs all the help it can get from Seoul and from Beijing. And then we saw the president tweeting that South Korea is appeasing North Korea.

First of all, how do you think that that will be taken by Seoul, and couldn't that complicate these efforts to stop these North Korean provocations?

LEE: Indeed. You know, the North Koreans are so adept at driving a wedge between allies in the region. So between the U.S. and Japan, between Japan and South Korea and perhaps between the U.S. and South Korea, that's precisely what we don't want right now.

What we need to see is a united front in terms of the countries getting together and making sure that North Korea -- there's a single message going to North Korea.

So this kind of mixed messaging is not going to be helpful. It looks very confusing. Not only within the White House -- we're seeing mixed messages coming out of the White House, but mixed messages coming from the allies.

And so it's going to work in Pyongyang's favor and I'm sure they're relishing the fact that they're not on the same page. It's very important for them to seek their messaging now.

I think it's not at all helpful for the -- for President Trump to be nit-picking right now and questioning South Korea's strategy. It's much more important to do that perhaps behind the scenes and to at least outwardly show that they have this ironclad alliance that they keep talking about.

KOSIK: OK. So the United Nations having an emergency meeting today, what do you see happening at this meeting today?

LEE: Well, we'll certainly get some sort of strongly worded statement. Whether it will go so far as another round of sanctions we'll see.

I'm sure the U.S. mission to the U.N. is working on crafting some sort of statement as well as perhaps another round of sanctions. You know, there are -- there's very little room for additional sanctions in terms so much has been sanctioned already.

But we might -- it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction and what kind of role China and Russia have in tonight's -- today's meeting at the U.N. Security Council.

You know, Russia and China are allies of North Korea, but they also don't want to see this provocations continue. And they've been consistent in calling for Pyongyang to restrain or refrain from provocations.

But also calling on the U.S. to back down, saying don't give them incentive to keep testing. Back off. So it will be interesting to see what kind of discussions happen today.

KOSIK: OK. Perhaps the U.N. meeting won't be all for show then. All right. Jean Lee, thanks so much for your expertise today.


MARQUARDT: And breaking overnight, President Trump is moving to end the program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

But the move is far from a done deal, multiple sources saying that the White House is looking at a six-month delay in any action against the so-called dreamers. So that Congress has the time to pass legislation which would allow them to stay in the country.

KOSIK: The expected move suspected to ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, it comes weeks -- after weeks of deliberation within the White House.

The move might satisfy the president's base, but it could disrupt the lives of almost 800,000 people working and studying in the U.S. DACA protects qualified applicants protections -- gives them protection from being deported.

MARQUARDT: Several sources are cautioning that the decision is far from final and won't be until it's announced on Tuesday. But already there's been a flood of reactions, immigration advocates calling it cruel while Trump's core supporters are applauding it as the restoration of the rule of law. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: OK. The treasury secretary says money for Harvey recovery should be tied to the nation's debt ceiling.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNITED STATES: Without raising the debt limit, I'm not comfortable that we will get the money that we need this month to Texas.


KOSIK: But is the White House playing politics with billions of dollars needed for aid? That's next.



MNUCHIN: Our first priority is to make sure the state gets money. It is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit.

So if we-- if Congress appropriates the money but I don't have the ability to borrow more money and pay for it, we're not going to be able to get that money to the state.


MARQUARDT: The Trump administration now says it wants federal spending on relief for Hurricane Harvey to be tied to raising the debt limit. The move sets up a potentially fierce political battle.


MARQUARDT: The ultra conservative wing of the GOP doesn't want to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts which means they would have to vote against aid for Texas if the debt ceiling and Harvey aid are tied together.

KOSIK: The White House has already asked Congress to approve a $7.8 billion package as parts of an initial request for funds. A request for more cash is expected later this month.

The death toll for Hurricane Harvey now standing at 53, thousands of people are still unable to return home. Tens of thousands of others still living in shelters and relying on aid.

MARQUARDT: In just last few hours, officials have lifted the evacuation zone around the Arkema political plant near Houston after remaining trailers full of explosive chemicals were deliberately set a blaze in a controlled ignition.

A Harris County fire martial says there's no additional risk to the community. In Houston, across the Southeast Texas flood zone, piles of trash line the streets. Items big and small left unsalvageable after sitting in water for days.

KOSIK: One bit of good news though, officials now say 95 percent of Houston is dry. The city's mayor says most businesses will reopen tomorrow after the holiday.

[04:20:00] Still, a small area evacuated in west Houston remains in dire shape. Sub waters there not receding because of nearby dams releasing water. Water levels at the Addicks and Barker dams are dropping but emptying the reservoirs could take weeks.


KOSIK: It's amazing the devastation -- I know you were there.

MARQUARDT: You know really just rapid -- just everywhere you look. Incredible.

A Utah nurse arrested for doing her job. The ugly incident caught on video. What's the Salt Lake City police department saying now?


KOSIK: New developments this morning in that ugly emergency room arrest caught on video in Utah. The nurse who was taken into custody for doing her job is speaking out and the police department offers an apology. CNN's Dan Simon has more from Salt Lake City.



DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The disturbing video comes from the inside of an emergency room. And the woman screaming, a burn unit nurse who is being assaulted by a Salt Lake City police officer.

ALEX WUBBELS, NURSE, UTAH: Please, sir, you're hurting me!



SIMON: The incident captured by police and hospital cameras happened in July. But now the district attorney says he wants a criminal investigation.

University and Utah Nurse Alex Wubbels said she was doing her job following hospital protocol by refusing to let police take a blood sample from an unconscious patient.

WUBBELS: Is the patient under arrest?

PAYNE: Nope.

SIMON: Wubbels said detective Jeff Payne demanded a blood sample from a car crash victim who was in a coma and severely burned. His truck smashed by a racing from police according to local media. Wubbels calmly explains the policy for obtaining blood.

[04:25:00] WUBBELS: There's three things that allow us to do that -- if you have an electronic warrant, patients consent, or patient under arrest. Neither of those things -- patient can't consent.

SIMON: She even gets her supervisor on the phone who backs her up. The tension escalates.

PAYNE: She's the one that has told me no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but sir, you're making a huge mistake now, like you're making a huge mistake because you're threatening a nurse.

PAYNE: OK. No, we're done. We're done. You're under arrest. You're going.

WUBBELS: You can't put me under arrest, sir.

PAYNE: You're going.


SIMON: Salt Lake City's police chief apologized and said what happened was unacceptable.

MIKE BROWN, CHIEF OF POLICE, SALT LAKE CITY: I was alarmed by what I saw in the video. I want to be very clear -- we take this very seriously.

SIMON: For now, Wubbels isn't filing a lawsuit.

WUBBELS: I feel very strongly in giving people the benefit of the doubt. And I truly believe that he was honest in his apology and sincere in his willingness to try and make change, and make things better.

SIMON: Police released Wubbels without charges that day after she sat in the police car for 20 minutes. Detective Payne said in written report that his watched commander advised him to arrest the nurse for interfering in a police investigation.

Payne and another officer now on administrative leave as the internal investigators looked into the startling incident. Dan Simon, CNN, Salt Lake City.


MARQUARDT: And the nurse in the story, Alex Wubbels, will be in New Day this morning. You can see the interview at around 8:45 Eastern Time.

Now the U.S. and South Korea are looking to deploy military assets to the Korean Peninsula amid new signs that Pyongyang is preparing to test another intercontinental ballistic missile. The growing tensions have many asking what's President Trump's next move.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mister President, will you attack North Korea?

TRUMP: We'll see.