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Mattis' Blunt Warning To North Korea; North Korea Preparing Another Missile Test; Trump's Trade Threat; Trump To End Dreamer Protections. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 05:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: -- the best of humanity out there, and now we are seeing some good corporate do-gooding.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. "EARLY START" continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any threat to the United States or its territories will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.


MARQUARDT: The secretary of defense right there with a firm warning for North Korea after Pyongyang's latest nuclear test. We've learned the U.S. and South Korea will look to deploy military assets including bombers. We are live in Seoul.

KOSIK: President Trump will propose ending protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Could Congress give DREAMERS another chance?

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

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alex Marquardt.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Monday, September 4th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the east. It's 5:30 p.m. in Pyongyang.

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

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES MATTIS, U.S. 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. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea. As I said, we have many options to do so.


MARQUARDT: This new warning coming after North Korea's claim that it tested a hydrogen bomb on Sunday. A test that was overseen by Leader Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang claimed that the weapon was designed to be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile, the kind that North Korea has also been testing recently.

President Trump was asked about the nuclear test on Sunday as he left a church service.


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



MARQUARDT: Our coverage begins this morning with CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON 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, 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: Our thanks to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Now the U.N. Security Council is set to meet in emergency session this morning in the wake of this latest test. It's just the second meeting in just a week. Past meetings have done little to stop North Korea's provocations.

Earlier this morning, South Korea's Army and Air Force conducted a combined live-fire exercise in response to that North Korean nuclear test. Now North Korean state media is blasting South Korea for saying the drill shows that Seoul is hellbent on escalating confrontation.

The exercise comes after President Trump called out South Korea on Twitter suggesting that Seoul is appeasing the North Koreans.

CNN correspondent, Ian Lee, is live in Seoul, South Korea, with the regional response. Good morning, Ian. So, what kind of response have we seen from Seoul this morning?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ales. We saw those military exercises early in the morning and what's important about these is South Korea says that these were directed towards North Korea, saying that these missile tests were targeting their North Korean leadership and nuclear infrastructure in the event of a war.

[05:05:06] So, a very tough response there. What was used were ballistic missiles as well as advanced air-to-surface missiles fired from an F-15. We're hearing that there could be another test of those advance missiles today.

But we're also hearing from intelligence agencies saying that the intelligence groups saying that there could be another ballistic missile test by North Korea sometime soon before that.

You know, South Korea, one of their strategies going forward is trying to get the United States, and have a united front with them. That includes asking the United States for advanced weaponry to come to the South Korean Peninsula.

They didn't specify what the weaponry would be. But when asked if that could be nuclear weapons, they say that the South is still committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

So, what we are seeing is a tough stance by the South Koreans. One that they want to take the international community so that they can have a united front when isolating North Korea -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Some fast-moving developments in a serious potential for escalation. Our thanks to Ian Lee in Seoul.

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 test.

This could mean a halt to U.S. trade with China, which has supported economic sanctions on North Korea but remains the key economic partner for the rogue nation. China is the United States' biggest trading partner in goods.

Total trade between the U.S. and China topping almost $650 billion last year. 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 that it has 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: And breaking overnight, President Trump is moving to end the program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But the move is far from a done deal with 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 time to pass legislation, which would allow them to stay in the country.

KOSIK: The expected move ending the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals Program called DACA. It comes after weeks of deliberation within the White House. The move may satisfy the president's base, but it could also disrupt the lives of almost 800,000 people working and studying in the U.S. DACA protects qualified applicants from being deported.

MARQUARDT: Now several sources are cautioning that this decision is not final until it is announced. That is expected to be on Tuesday. But already there's been a flood of reactions with immigration advocates calling it cruel while Trump's core supporters are applauding it as the restoration of the rule of law.

KOSIK: If the president plans to end DACA, but gives Congress a chance to let dreamers say, will lawmakers go along with the president's decision? We get into that next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should DREAMers be worried?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We love the DREAMers. We love everybody.


MARQUARDT: He loves them but wants them out. President Trump will propose ending the program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the so-called DREAMers. Part of the plan will allow Congress to get involved which means any final action still up in the air.

Joining us to discuss it all, a familiar face with a new title, "Washington Post" reporter, Eugene Scott. Good morning, Eugene. KOSIK: Good morning, Eugene. Thanks for joining us.


MARQUARDT: This is a highly controversial move. It's being criticized by some members of President Trump's own party. In fact, we've got sound from Senator Jeff Flake. So, let's listen and talk about it on the other side.

SCOTT: Great.


SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: There are 800,000 DACA kids, kids who were brought across the border. The median age I think is 6 years old for those 800,000 when they came across the border. They should not be punished for the sins of their parents. That's just the basic principle that we ought to follow here.


MARQUARDT: So, Eugene, do you think that Senator Flake there speaks for the rest of the GOP? Will they go along with the president's plans if he does do away with DACA?

SCOTT: Well, he certainly speaks for many moderate Republicans in Congress and in America as a whole. Nearly 63 percent maybe 65 percent of Americans approve of allowing these children to remain in the United States.

But Donald Trump is trying to appeal to his base. He's very sensitive to the fact that he has such low approval now. He wants to keep people who are already on the Trump train with him. The question is will he be able to bring more people on with a move like this.

KOSIK: You know, the timing is very interesting. We heard over the weekend, we got a real look at the letter that President Obama left Donald Trump in the oval office when Donald Trump took over as president.

The timing is interesting because Donald Trump may be throwing that hot potato to Congress to go ahead and talk about these protections for undocumented immigrants to solidify protections in law.

It's interesting to read part of the letter that President Obama left. He said, "We've both been blessed in different ways with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It's up to us to do everything we can to build more ladders of success for every child and family that's willing to work hard."

Do you think that President Trump ever looks back on those words that President Obama left in the oval office?

SCOTT: I certainly think so. Primarily because there are other people in the White House who share the conviction that President Obama had which was that you have to steward this opportunity very well and use your time well putting forth policy that you think will make America better.

[05:15:11] And I think the reality is, you see the last line where President Obama was talking about the importance of creating a better America for children. President Trump has said that he loves the DREAMers. It is something that he said he's wrestled with quite a bit.

And what he will do in response to that isn't completely clear yet. We have until Tuesday, I believe, but there's a lot of attention on that.

MARQUARDT: You talked about this being a way for the president to shore up his base. We've seen him do this in the past with other things. Recently he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Is there any evidence to suggest that that's actually effective? Is the base growing at all, or is it just diminished?

SCOTT: Actually, according to some most recent polls it has been diminishing, right? So, the overwhelming majority of Republicans still support Trump, but not as highly as he did in the past. So, I think there's some concern that the drop in support is happening from his base. It's mirroring what we're seeing in other demographic groups, as well.

KOSIK: OK, let's switch gears and talk about what's going to be on Congress' agendas when they come back. Top on the list is aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey. You've got President Trump looking to tie the $8 billion aid package that he's proposing which is a first sort of traunch of aid for those victims. Tying it to the debt ceiling, how much can that really backfire?

SCOTT: Well, it can be a big problem for the Republican Party if they do not respond in a way that seems to be sensitive and beneficial to the Harvey victims. It's important to realize that the $7.5 billion is the initial amount. It's what we think it is going to be now.

All the reporting says that this is perhaps the most expensive hurricane that we've seen in history. So, there's already fear whether or not the government would have been able to pay its bills by the first week of I think October before all of this even happened. How they respond to Harvey will definitely affect them.

KOSIK: So, are you saying tying it to the debt ceiling is a smart thing to do since you say this package is going to get more and more expensive?

SCOTT: I think that's what many people think it is because it will show some sensitivity and some concern about what's happening to these Americans in the state that overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump right now.

MARQUARDT: The president has visited Texas twice now in the wake of this hurricane. The first visit came under some -- some intense criticism because he didn't see damaged areas, didn't visit with many of the victims. Do you think the second visit went better? SCOTT: We certainly saw some people who met with the president who were not on the Trump train before say that they were pleased with his interests and his compassion and concern on the second visit.

I mean, he's gone out very publicly, spoken about the need for prayer, spoken about the need to respond to these victims. I think he won points in areas of sensitivity that perhaps he lacked in the past.

KOSIK: All right. Eugene Scott, thanks so much for your analysis. We'll bring you back in about 20 minutes. We have more to talk about.

SCOTT: Great.

MARQUARDT: Now California Governor Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency for L.A. County in response to the largest fire in Los Angeles city history. The La Tuna Brush fire near Burbank has burned about 6,000 acres since it started on Friday.

The blaze has forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes, and shut down an interstate, and left plumes of smoke clouding the whole region. More than 1,000 firefighters from across the state are making headway against the blaze. Officials say it is 25 percent contained.

KOSIK: Amazing pictures.

JJ Watt's fundraiser for Harvey victims, it just keeps growing. The latest numbers are next.

Plus, a historic comeback in college football. How many points did UCLA score in the fourth quarter? Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" coming up next.



MARQUARDT: JJ Watt and his Texans teammates getting to work yesterday doing their part to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. You know, JJ Watt's raised more than $18 million for his hurricane relief fund. He says he hasn't even touched that money yet. Watt says he's consulting with experts on how to best use it.

In the meantime, he and his Texans teammates along with volunteers handing out supplies all over Houston yesterday. All of these supplies were donated. Watt says he's truly been touched by how many people have stepped up to help Houston.


J.J. WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS DEFENSIVE END: I can't say thank you enough to the people around the world, to the people around America, the people of Texas, showing their compassion, showing their true colors. Showing that when there's a difficult time, when times get tough, humans step up to help other humans. I can't say thank you enough to them. I hope everybody in the world gets a chance to see this and understand how much we appreciate it.


MARQUARDT: Houston native, Stacy Lewis, doing her part to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. She tweeted last week that she would donate all of her winnings from the LPGA event to Harvey relief. She went out and won the tournament. Her first win on the tour since 2014. Lewis ends up donating her $195,000 prize for first, and her sponsor also pledged to match the donation.

Finally, if you went to bed early thinking Texas A&M blew out UCLA, you are waking up to quite a surprise. The Bruins trailed the Aggies by 34 points with two minutes left in the third quarter. They would mount the biggest comeback in school history.

Josh Rosen making the spike, making the ten-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left. UCLA comes all the way back to stun Texas A&M 45-44.

[05:25:03] I have a lot of friends who went to Texas A&M. My Facebook feed was not a very pleasant place this morning.

KOSIK: But I'm glad you told me how the game ended because, yes, I did go to sleep early.

MARQUARDT: Unbelievable comeback.

KOSIK: All right. Andy Scholes, thanks very much.

MARQUARDT: Now, the U.S. and South Korea 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 is President Trump's next move.


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




KOSIK: Breaking royal news, Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their third child. Buckingham palace releasing a statement saying the duke and duchess of Cambridge are very pleased and the queen is delighted with the news.

The statement notes Kate is suffering from morning sickness, although it uses the Latin name for it. The new baby is going to join big brother, George, and sister, Charlotte. Congratulations to her and her family. MARQUARDT: Growing brewed.

KOSIK: Absolutely.