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Hurricane Irma Now a Powerful Category 5 Storm; Trump Unhappy With DACA Decision; Trump Receives National Security Briefing. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:54] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

And we begin with breaking news. Hurricane Irma has now strengthened to a powerful Category 5 storm. This makes it the strongest Atlantic hurricane in a decade, winds packing 175 miles an hour, both Florida and Puerto Rico taking no chances, declaring a state of emergency as Irma moves closer and closer to the U.S. mainland.

Let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. This morning, I mean, just a few hours ago, it was a Category 4. Why has it intensified so quickly?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, because you have a category that is a line of demarcation between 155, 156 and 157. So we were already 150. We were a very, very strong Category 4 this morning when we woke up. And a hurricane an aircraft blew through it and found significantly higher winds than that one time.

Now we haven't seen those types of winds since. That was just a one- time fly by that they find somewhere between 188 and 192 where they were flying, 7,000 feet high. That was enough to upgrade it to the Category 5. I don't see any significant re-strengthening right now or continued strengthening. It's kind of leveled up. There is the eye. It's a big eye, about 28 miles across. If that eye gets down to about 10 or maybe 15 miles per hour or 15 miles wide, that's when the storm will increase again in intensity that would scathe thing when she pulls her arms in and she goes faster, angular momentum.

There's the five. There's the storm. There are the islands that are in the way, from Angola to the British Virgin Islands, maybe the northern northwest to the U.S. Virgin Islands to St. Kitts and the like. Now this is the official hurricanes in our forecast and we always talk about if it's left, if it is right, it could be in the cone. If it is in the middle, the storm will still be a very strong Category 4 when it approaches the Florida Keys.

If the storm continues to clip the Dominican Republic, and then into Cuba, like a few models, this will not be 150, it won't have a chance to be 150 because the land will get in the way. If it's on this side of the cone, it will certainly stay to that very major Category 4 hurricane and some spots may even see Category 5 damage through the Turks and Caicos. You see how they're just a couple of models through here. One very important model says that the European model says that it is going to be right over the island of Cuba. That will devastate -- that will devastate Cuba. Somebody is going to get hurt. Somebody is going to get devastated here, it's either going to be the U.S. or it is going to be Cuba probably Haiti and D.R. will see some flooding. But somebody is going to get hit with this thing.

And when it does hit, it's going to be a Cat 4 or 5. If it hits Cuba first, like the European model says, then it will be a Cat 2 by the time it gets to the U.S. But watch the devastation as the eye goes over Cuba for hours and hours and hours on the European model, kind of bringing the power down. The American model doesn't do that. It keeps the power up.

HARLOW: Chad Myers, thank you for the reporting. We'll keep an eye on all of this day by day, as it moves closer and closer to the U.S. mainland. Thank you.

We are learning more and more this morning about the White House decision on DACA. President Trump seemed to confirm speculation on our reporting that he plans to end DACA, while giving Congress a six month window of time to try to fix it. The president put out a statement this morning writing on Twitter, "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" It's a pretty clear statement there from the president, right?

Now, what we don't know yet is if he will speak it all about DACA on camera. But his attorney general will, Jeff Sessions, very shortly. Sessions will hold a briefing on DACA at the Justice Department. That briefing comes, as sources tell us, just how critical he has been in the president's decision on this.

Our Joe Johns is at the White House with more on what is a tug of war. And it seems like from our reporting and outcome that the president is not enthused with.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. That's reporting from CNN's Jeff Zeleny, describing the decision to let the attorney general take the lead on this DACA issue this morning was something they called outsourcing. No one is happy with the decision, a quote in Jeff Zeleny reporting goes.

[10:05:00] There's more reporting, obviously, the attorney general, apparently was instrumental in convincing the president that the DACA program would not survive a legal challenge that was expected to be brought as early as today by 10 attorneys general from red states, who were planning to go to court if the president did not end the program.

We are also told this plan is going to be phased out over the next several months and at the end of six months it's to give Congress time to try to put something else in place. Of course, it's a curious situation because if the president were, in fact, to sign a document that said they were reinstating DACA, he would essentially be allowing a program that he ran against during the campaign to become law. So, it's kind of a curious situation. But that tells you how complicated and in some ways sad this is for those 800,000 dreamers in the United States whose lives are on the line. Back to you.

HARLOW: Joe Johns, reporting for us at the White House. Thank you very much.

And right now, protesters are also gathering not far from where Joe is at the White House. Let's go to our Jeremy Diamond. They are there because they know this reporting, the president is going to end DACA. What are they saying?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Well, these protesters have just begun to gather here right outside the White House. Initially, they weren't sure that they would be able to get this close to the White House. But they are here now. There are perhaps about 200 people out here already.

And many of these people are from various different groups, about a dozen different organizations here to voice their discontent with the president's upcoming decision. The decision that we are expected to get from Jeff Sessions in about an hour that he plans to effectively end DACA. At least phase it out for a time period and perhaps give Congress a chance to act.

But these protesters certainly unhappy with that decision, saying that the people united will never be defeated. Those are some of the slogans that they are chanting. Some people here actually Dreamers themselves and were expecting a group of them to come here soon, those Dreamers actually on a hunger strike for the next several days to protest this president's decision. Poppy?

HARLOW: Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you so much. We'll keep an eye on that protest.

Let's talk about the big picture here around this DACA decision that is imminent. Joining us now, CNN political commentators, Angela Rye, Ben Ferguson, Betsy Woodruff also here, politics reporter for "The Daily Beast."

So, Betsy, let me just get your take on this new reporting from our Jeff Zeleny that there's been a quote, "tug of war" inside the White House on this one. And it quote, "no one is happy with the outcome including the president." So he's punting this to Jeff Sessions make the announcement. But you know, I don't understand why then the urgency from the president. Yes, there's a pending lawsuit from the states attorneys general. But if the president isn't keen on this, if it's not a priority, why do it and face backlash from senior fellow big name Republican leaders.

BETSEY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Regardless of what the president decided to do, he would face extraordinary criticism either from more moderate, mainstream Republicans on Capitol Hill as well as the business community or from his base. If there's one thing we know about President Trump, it's that he is highly sensitive to what the people who voted for him want.

And remember, one thing that I cannot overstate is just how much the Republican Party base, particularly the sector of that base that voted for Trump absolutely opposes anything that could be construed as, quote, unquote "amnesty." The Gang of Eight bill back in 2013, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, Tea Party activists that I spoke to at the time said they were just as opposed to that legislation as they were to Obamacare.

The amount of backlash the president would get if he defended DACA in court, if he directed Sessions to defend DACA would have been extraordinary. And remember, Sessions himself has long been a vocal, energetic opponent of DACA. So it's a really - it's a tough decision for the president and of course, it's a decision that impacts 800,000 people's lives. And I think that's why nobody is happy here because the situation is just incredibly fraught.

HARLOW: What about, Ben Ferguson, the economic argument that has been made about what ending DACA would do, right? You've got about 800,000 young people, some in their 20s and 30s, just working, entering the labor force, et cetera. The Cato Institute, which is no sort of left wing thinking. I mean, they are libertarian. They -- according to many, people lean right.

They say deporting these Dreamers would cost more than $60 billion for the federal government to just do it over the next decade. It would cost a loss in tax revenue of $280 billion and it would cost economic growth. I mean, this is an administration that wants to see 4 percent economic growth. Are they misjudging this situation in terms of the effect on the U.S. Economy?

[10:10:06] BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that they are misjudging it. I think they are in a situation where they realize that it's also unfair to these Dreamers to just extend a program and start a countdown clock for those people with another round of uncertainty.

And I think what the president's point is, this. Look, there needs to be closure and finalization of a law on what we are going to do with people that are in the DACA program. And not just punt and go down the road and then have the legal challenges from the states on this, which they would by the way probably lose.

And so, I think the president's point is, Congress, you got to do your job and actually let people know what their future looks like. If you look at these Dreamers, I'm a conservative that actually feels like many of these Dreamers deserve the opportunity to stay in this country, permanently, not with a stopwatch where it says, OK, you are five years away, now four years away, now you are three years away of possibly being deported. That's - to me, inhumane to have that over someone's head. --

HARLOW: Ben, let me just jump in here because I hear what you are saying. But you are saying, that you would like -- as a conservative, would like to see these Dreamers be able to stay here permanently. That's not the message that the president consistently sent during the campaign, right? He said I love these Dreamers. I'll deal with heart. But he also said in this speech last August in Arizona, we will put an end to the unconstitutional programs put in place. He called it a legal amnesty by President Obama. FERGUSON: And I think that's the reason why he's now saying, Congress, if you want to make this right in legal, then Congress has to actually pass a law. I believe that what the president did was illegal. The president's job is not to pass a law for a short period of time. That is Congress' job to pass a law, period. The president's job is to sign that law, advocate for it or veto it. And what you have is Congress has not done their job. And so - I would say to every Republican and Democrat --


HARLOW: This president -

FERGUSON: Let me say this -

HARLOW: Plenty of executive orders. Hold on, let me get in.

FERGUSON: The difference between executive order and literally saying as the president of the United States of America, I'm going to actually make immigration law and I'm going to make it where it's basically amnesty but only for a certain period of time.


HARLOW: -- He'll get it with an executive order. -- Angela Rye, to you, Representative Steve King of Iowa, Republican here totally opposed to DACA, tweeting this morning that delaying DACA so that Republican leadership can push amnesty is Republican suicide. I mean, that applies in the face of Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch, so many of these other Republican leaders. What do you make of that?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't. Honestly, I think wasting our time, telling people about what Steve King tweeted instead of what's actually happening is not even a good use of our time, Poppy.

And I think we know that over time, Steve King has demonstrated that he cannot stand immigrants, particularly those who he doesn't appreciate how they entered this country. But I appreciate something that Ben said, and very rarely do we agree.

But here is where we do agree. These folks do have the right to be here permanently. The reason why Barack Obama intervened is because Congress didn't do their job. And that is the role of the president to act the executive order where Congress does not act. And where he can, within his parameters, thanks to legal counsel he did everything that's within his legal power to do. He didn't break any laws at all. He ensured that these folks were not living under a cloud. And that's the very thing that Donald Trump, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to do today.

They are virtually extending this cloud over these folk's head of uncertainty saying, well now we'll give you six additional months and hope and pray on a wing and a prayer that Congress will finally do their job. Well, it seems they haven't been able to do that with Obamacare. We're likely going to see they are not able to do that with the debt ceiling.

So today, folks better taking matters into their own hands. They are using and they are going out protesting these actions that they know are going to cause and put people at risk, 800,000 people, Poppy, some of which have only known America as their home. And it really doesn't make sense when you consider the fact that more than 86 percent of Americans also support the right for Dreamers to be here.

FERGUSON: Let me say this, too -

HARLOW: Hold on just one second. We got to wrap up. Angela, what poll are you citing, the 86 percent? What is that from?

RYE: I'm not sure for sure of the poll, but I definitely will tweet it after.


RYE: I'm confident that there's 86 percent of Americans support Dreamers being here. That means they are in favor of the Dream Act that's also --

FERGUSON: I don't think that's right.

RYE: -- That's also bipartisan supported from Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin. It was introduced by those two members of Congress. So this is what -


HARLOW: It was, indeed. I asked because I have been looking for some recent polling on this.

RYE: I promise I will get it right after.

HARLOW: We'll look for that.

Guys, thank you very much. We'll have you all back as we continue to follow this important development. Thank you so much.

FERGUSON: Thanks Poppy.

HARLOW: New signs from North Korea, the country may be planning another long-range missile test. So the president this morning is reacting.

[10:15:03] Also, the Russia probe set to intensify, but so are tensions between Capitol Hill and Special Counsel Bob Mueller. The CNN exclusive reporting is ahead.

And the president telling Congress to get ready, to do its job when it comes to DACA, we'll get reaction from one Republican lawmaker who does not want to see DACA end.


HARLOW: As we speak, President Trump is set to be in a closed-door briefing by his national security council on North Korea, of course, on the top of the list. Now, a North Korean diplomat today promised more, quote, "gift packages for the United States." As long as Washington engages in what he calls, "reckless provocations."

South Korean intelligence, meantime, is seeing new potential signs of another North Korean missile test. This is just days after that underground nuclear bomb test that was larger than any Pyongyang had carried out before. The South Korean Navy for its part carried out more live-fire war games today warning, quote, "If North Korea provokes, we will destroy and bury them at sea."

[10:20:06] Let's go to our Will Ripley. He's following this very closely. And Will as someone who has had countless meetings with the North Korean regime inside of Pyongyang, gift packages? What do you make of it?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My first thought is, is there a return policy? Because that's a gift we don't want. And North Korea knows that.

Look, this is cheeky writing, but it's about a very serious topic. I mean, here you have - there is the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. Let me just read a quote of part of what he said. He said - this is from Han Tae Song, said, "The U.S. will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK."

Those gift packages of course being intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear tests, provocative acts and North Korea has been giving lots of so-called gifts lately and they may be getting ready to give another one because there are reports out of South Korea, according to the national intelligence service there, that North Korea has been spotted rolling an ICBM to a launch spot on the Korean coast. And this is a spot where they could launch in a trajectory towards Japan or over Japan as we've seen before. That it'll be likely in a northeastern direct trajectory or it could aim it south, in which case they could also fly over southern Japan, towards the U.S. territory of Guam, which is a threat, a very specific threat that North Korea laid out several weeks ago.

And we do know that this is a regime that when they make specific threats like this, they often do follow through. They have been talking. They have been known that they are ready to conduct the six nuclear tests for many months. Well, it took longer than a lot of people expected. They did conduct their most powerful nuclear test over the weekend.

In response, we now have a new tweet this morning from President Trump. And this, apparently, is some insight into the president's North Korean strategy. He says, quote, "I am allowing Japan and South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States." So, after decades of trying to keep weapons out of this region now talk that Japan and South Korea might be buying more powerful weapons. And South Korea, they've already agreed in principle just getting rid of a limit on the size of warheads on their missiles. Could there be a regional arms race here, Poppy? Certainly it's an escalating situation with no clear way out at this point.

HARLOW: Will Ripley reporting for us in Tokyo. Thank you very much, Will.

Joining us now, CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren and Balbina Hwang is here. She's a former senior adviser of the State Department, now visiting professor at Georgetown.

So, Colonel, to you first, let me get your take on this movement the South Koreans say that they are seeing they believe possibly an ICBM movement by the North. How significant?

COL. STEVE WARREN (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's more the same. So there's certainly some significance to it. The North Koreans launch in two different ways. In some cases, it's from prebuilt structures where they assemble the rocket and fire it. In other cases, it's with these road mobile launchers, which is essentially an 18- wheeler modified to be able to carry a missile. Those are very difficult to detect and in fact, the North Koreans can launch them with almost no notice.

HARLOW: So, Professor, to you, Vladimir Putin, who has been calling for an end to North Korea's nuclear program, but at the same time has been pushing along with the Chinese this freeze for freeze agreement which Nikki Haley said, is intolerable. He came out with a number of statements this morning saying, these sanctions are going to be useless and ineffective. And then he interestingly pointed to Iraq and Saddam Hussein, right? And he brought up the comparison. And if you think about that and if you think about Saddam Hussein, the fall of Saddam Hussein or the fall of Gadhafi, these are two guys, two dictators who didn't have nuclear weapons. So, Kim Jong-un looks at them and thinks they are dead.

BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, yes. And of course, North Korea has nuclear weapons ambitions, precisely for survival as everybody keeps saying. But it's actually more than that. I mean, it's somewhat trivial just to say that that's the reason it's for survival. Every state wants survival, including the United States.

What is happening here, I think, is North Korea is trying to change the fundamental strategic balance in all of East Asia. And the reason that China and Russia are playing - trying at least attempting to play this duel card is precisely because for China and Russia, the Korean Peninsula and the status quo, and changes in the status quo are not just about the region or not just about the Peninsula. But it's actually global. And I think Putin's remark, trying to draw linkages with the Middle East is actually a very good indicator of that.

HARLOW: So, but what about Nikki Haley, yesterday, coming out at the U.N. with her very strong language and essentially without saying the words China, pointed to China when she said that every country that does business, Professor, with North Korea is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions. She is essentially saying China is complicit. So when Xi Jinping hears that, does that move his hand at all?

[10:25:12] HWANG: Well, and she was right to say it. She was correct to say it. And we actually have been saying that for the last 20, if not 30 years.

Here is where Xi Jinping has great difficulty. He is facing probably the single most important period in his entire political leadership, which is the upcoming fifth year change of power, the new party of Congress. And he needs, above all, number one, number two, number three priority, is keeping his economy stable until he can get that transition in. And all of these, this kind of very blunt language from the United States is threatening those priorities for China.

HARLOW: Colonel, the North Koreans have toughs through some of incredibly egregious times before, right? The famine in the '90s, where it's estimated up to one in ten North Korean starved, died as a result. I mean, they can deal with increasingly tough sanctions, correct? So is there reason to believe that the stepped up sanctions that Nikki Haley and the U.S. would like to see would do anything to dissuade them?

WARREN: Pressure is pressure there's no question about it. So there may potentially be some impact. But Poppy, you are exactly right. You know when I was walking patrols in North Korea or on the North Korean border and we could see the North Koreans right across the fence line from us. And I'll tell you, they have proven to the world their pain tolerance, their ability to with stand pain exerted on them from outside. It is exceptionally high. I see no evidence, at all that the North Koreans intend to give up their nuclear capability. That famous photograph of the Peninsula with the South brightly lit, full of energy and light and the North is completely black, tells you what this regime is willing to do to their own people in order to achieve their military objectives.

HARLOW: Colonel Warren, thank you. Professor Hwang, we appreciate the expertise. Thank you so much.

Right now, there are protesters gathering outside of the White House. This is of course, over the administration imminent decision coming in less than an hour on DACA. Up next, the Republican Congressman who agrees with them.