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Trump Says No Mixed Signals On DACA Decision; One of the Strongest Storms Ever Heads for Florida; Trump Says President Xi for De-Nuke of North Korea. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 15:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Today, President Trump says he is not sending mixed signals and that he doesn't have second thoughts about ending DACA, that program that protects undocumented immigrants who grew up here in the U.S.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: No second thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you confident in Congress to do something for DACA recipients.

TRUMP: I hope they do.


KEILAR: But last night, the president tweeted that he would revisit the issue if Congress cannot reach an agreement on DACA in the next six months. The Trump administration had until yesterday to make a decision on the program's future or else face a lawsuit by the attorneys general of nine states, and my next guest, Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge is one of those who is pushing for a decision. Thank you so much for joining me on this, and I'm wondering what you think about what the president has said here, where he may be revisiting this issue.

LESLIE RUTLEDGE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ARKANSAS: Well, I commend the president for rescinding DACA in a very responsible fashion, that we need certainty for these individuals, for these Dreamers.

[15:35:00] We need certainty for America. We are a country of laws. I don't think the president is sending mixed signals in any form or fashion. He rescinded, the attorney general came out yesterday and rescinded DACA. Again, in a very responsible manner and giving Congress time to act, and it's time for Congress to act on immigration, and that's what the president is asking them to do.

KEILAR: Attorney General Rutledge, if Congress doesn't act, he's leaving open this possibility that he's going to revisit it which seems to take some of the bite of really pushing it into their lap to deal with it. RUTLEDGE: Well, actually, I read that tweet as the president

encouraging Congress, listen, it's time Congress for you to do your job. And that's what I'm encouraged by as a state leader is that it's time for Congress to act on immigration. For far too long, we have an immigration policy in flux because of President Obama's action on DACA. That is why the states attorneys general, why we sent that letter to this administration, was saying, listen, it's time to act. It's time to get a legal immigration policy in place and that's what I believe the president is sending the message to Congress to, let's get this job done. It's time to get the job done on time and under budget, as he likes to say.

KEILAR: You've stressed that you're not asking the government to remove any person covered by DACA or rescind permits that are issued, but in guidance sent from the White House to the Hill, it says the Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States, so while that may not have been your intention, it appears that may be the result of this. No?

RUTLEDGE: Well, again, the letter that we sent was not asking the government to remove any individual. However, what the government has done now is said, yes, those individuals who have license in place that we're not going to renew those, however, they can stay through those license, through their approval time, they can, if you haven't -- if it's expiring before March of next year, it's time to get those renewed, turn that in by October 5th of this year, so this is a responsible plan. And I think that's what America needs is a responsible plan to give these Dreamers.

KEILAR: This says arrange for the departure and even if you're saying that you're not talking about removing someone, advocating to remove a protection, even if there are issues with how President Obama put this in place, advocating to remove the protection of, of course, has the result of someone perhaps being removed from the U.S.

RUTLEDGE: Well, yes, and I believe that these -- the Dreamers that I have met with, these young individuals, that it's imperative that all of us are prepared for situations and prepared for what might come. Here, the government has said, here are the time frames, here are the renewal process, take care of business and -- but let's also put the pressure back on Congress to take care of business. So, these individuals, I encourage them to be prepared but not to be panicked because again, we have a responsible plan in place from this administration to try to correct the wrong that was done by the previous administration. It was, again, the previous administration that did this -- made these illegal, unauthorized actions, putting us in this uncertainty, and so now, we're looking for certainty for all of these individuals that are impacted.

KEILAR: Attorney General, you say prepare but don't panic. If you were preparing to potentially be deported, would you be panicking?

RUTLEDGE: No, because these individuals, I know their status, now they know the time frame from which they can properly apply to work toward certain goals, and again, these -- the individuals I have met with are so encouraging, bright, talented individuals, but again, we are a country of laws, and that's why their parents came to this country is because of all the great things that the United States has to offer. Again, we're a country based on laws and we must adhere to those laws and we must have an administration that adheres to the laws and the executive branch putting pressure on the legislative branch is all that is happening here.

We are simply saying the president of the United States tell Congress, Congress, it's time to act, let's get some legislation passed and address immigration reform. And quite frankly, there are Senators and Congressmen already with bills in place or in the drafting process, Arkansas's own Senator Tom Cotton.

KEILAR: But the number two Republican John Cornyn said they're not -- he said -- here's what he said. There's no way it's going to be a stand-alone and he basically said there's no way they're going to address this in, you know, soon. So, there may be bills that are out there, but I mean, that's the buck kind of stops there, right, with the top Republicans in the senate.

[15:40:00] RUTLEDGE: Well, the buck stops with the American people and the American people need to tell the men and women that they have elected to the United States Congress, House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate that it's time to get some legislation passed, that as the attorney general of a state, as the executive office, we don't have the option to kick things down the road. And so, we're now asking Congress to pass some reasonable immigration reform to address this issue and other issues.

KEILAR: All right, well, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, we'll be watching as well. Certainly, Congress hasn't inspired a whole lot of confidence in passing legislation recently but we'll be keeping an eye on that. Thank you, ma'am. We appreciate it.

And next, Hurricane Irma is already battering the Caribbean. It's 185-mile-per-hour winds right now, sustained winds, gusting up to 225 miles per hour as people in Florida are scrambling to secure their homes and stock up on supplies or get out of the state altogether. We are going to be live in Miami in just a moment.



SEN. BILL NELSON, (D), FLORIDA: This is a monster. It eerily has very similar track to Andrew, and you remember what that was like 25 years ago.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: Whether you're in the eye of the storm or 50 to 75 miles away from it, it is going to be nasty and you've got to be prepared for that.


KEILAR: Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson there warning their constituents about the danger of Hurricane Irma. It's a storm that has prompted mandatory evacuations in the Florida Keys. It has a nation on edge just days after the destruction that we saw from hurricane Harvey in Texas. And if this is any indication, people appear to be heeding the warnings of state and local officials in Florida. We're seeing massive lines at gas stations, in Miami-Dade, as many people are preparing to leave south Florida. CNN's Rosa Flores is joining me live now from Miami, so Rosa, there are long lines there for gas. Are there any concerns that the supply there could run short?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the latest from governor Scott here is that he is making sure that supplies can come into the state unrestricted. He's also suspended all tolls in the state of Florida to make sure that people can flow in as much ease as possible. Now, Brianna, I want to set the scene for you right now because it sounds cliche, but this really is the calm before the storm. You can see it's beautiful Miami scape today, it is hot, it is humid, it is wicked, but it is nice and clear here, just a slow sway in those palm trees, but don't be fooled by this beautiful scape.

People taking Irma very seriously, as you mentioned, a lot of folks flocking to grocery stores and hardware stores to get supplies, food, plywood, to patch their windows, and they're also going to gas stations. We've seen very long lines in some areas and some gas stations going out of gas because everybody's flocking to get resources that they need. Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, is under mandatory evacuation, FIU has been determined as a shelter for them. And Brianna, just north of us in Broward County, 43 shelters are ready to go, and they could house 33,000 people, but as you know, millions of people are in the path of this storm, and everybody looking and hearing to see what local officials are going to do to give them next steps as Irma approaches.

KEILAR: All right, Rosa Flores in Miami, thank you so much.

FEMA teams are already in place to respond to Irma. We just heard that from the governor of Florida, just minutes ago. But there are concerns about funding, especially after Harvey devastated Texas. FEMA's disaster relief fund has just over $1 billion in it but only about half of that money is immediately available. Rene Marsh is joining us now. So are Rene, the house just approved an initial $8 million disaster relief package for victims of Hurricane Harvey. But when you look at the big picture here and the resources that FEMA has, is this enough as it's looking at Irma coming its way.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION: Short answer is no, it simply is not and speaking to that, we heard from Senator Marco Rubio as well as Bill Nelson, essentially calling on Congress to act on additional aid. This is even after the House passed that $7.8 billion relief bill there for Harvey victims. So, no, it will not be enough. In actuality, that $7.8 billion will probably last only a couple of weeks, and as you point out, Irma is on its way to Florida and they don't even know -- they can't even begin to estimate what that damage is going to cost. So, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what they will need.

KEILAR: As we're looking at people trying to get out of the area that could be affected there in Florida, we've seen a lot of people who have been looking at flights and they're seeing that the prices jumped astronomically especially from Monday to Tuesday.

[15:50:00] They feel like there is price gouging happening. Do you know anything about that?

MARSH: You know, we have seen a lot of those reports. We reached out to both the Department of Transportation, which would be in charge of investigating that sort of thing. We have not heard anything back from them as yet. We also reached out to airlines like American Airlines. That airline operates the most flights out of the Florida area, because that is their hub there in Miami.

And they say they have not changed their algorithms, and they have not changed how they do their pricing. What people are seeing is there is this demand, you oftentimes will have one seat left and many cases, the flights are sold out, and what people are seeing are last-minute prices. The prices are really high. A lot of consumers don't seem to believe that. But again, if there is any gouging happening, you got to believe the federal government will know and find that out, because there would be an investigation. But the airlines all telling us, look, the demand is so high that this is just how it works. It's a very complicated structure when it comes to airline pricing and that is what we are seeing playing out.

KEILAR: All right. We'll see what the Department of Transportation says. Rene Marsh, thank you so much for your report.

Just in, the White House revealing which charities are getting the president's million-dollar donation to relief for Hurricane Harvey. The donation is spread out between 12 charities. The most goes to the Red Cross and to the Salvation Army, $300,000 each there. And $25,000 increments to a number of other charities, including The Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies and Team Rubicon.

Moments ago, President Trump telling reporters aboard Air Force One that he spoke with President Xi about new threats from North Korea and his Chinese counterpart is very much in favor of a de-nuke. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen is here, we will have his reaction live, next.


KEILAR: Top Republicans are reacting to President Trump's surprise deal with Democrats bucking his own party. It is a deal to avoid a government shutdown and it would include a 3-month extension on the debt ceiling.

This just in from Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, quote, the Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad. Just one line there, we are going to look more reaction rolling in.

In the meantime, President Trump said he just had a, quote, very, very frank conversation with the President of China today over the intensifying nuclear threat from North Korea. The rogue nation this week boasted it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Here's what president Trump said while speaking with reporters on Air Force One.


TRUMP: We had a very good conversation with President Xi of China. It lasted for about 45 minutes. He's very much in favor of the de- nuke of North Korea.


KEILAR: Joining me now is someone who has had to directly handle the North Korea threat, former Defense Secretary William Cohen who served under President Clinton. Secretary, thank you so much for joining me.


KEILAR: You heard what he said there, that President Xi is very much for the de-nuke of North Korea. There are many people who say you just have to live with the fact that this is where North Korea is. So, is there an avenue for a denuclearization?

COHEN: If China really joins the United States and we sit down with China and discuss with them an overall plan, in other words, what should a united Korea look like 15, 20 years from now, maybe even a shorter time frame? We can't do that without having China as a full partner. So, the first thing we have to do is, once China gets through its plenum and resolves its own political challenge, to sit down with President Xi and his strategist and say, how do we solve this problem? Because a nuclearized North Korea poses the potential for spreading that to South Korea, Japan and others. None of us want that, so how do we deal with it? I think that's possible.

KEILAR: It was a frank conversation that they had, but where do President Xi and President Trump need to be -- what do they need to be talking about, besides, obviously, what you described, this 15, 20, 25-year plan?

COHEN: They need to be talking about what the nature of our relationship is going to be with China. Right now, it's unclear. What are we going to do vis-a-vis China? China is a growing power. We are an established power what does that mean terms of the so-called Thucydides Trap namely you've got this imbalance taking place for the existing power being confronted with a rising power, history has not been very positive on that. Of the 16 studies that have been done, 12 of those studies resulted in looking at past history, 12 of those instances involved war. We're trying to avoid that, if at all possible.

With respect to North Korea, the North Koreans have been basically showing contempt not only for the United States, the United Nations but also for China itself. China has been its principal benefactor. If the President of China says time for a change here, I think the President of North Korea has to worry what will happen to his regime.

KEILAR: You saw Vladimir Putin met with the South Korean president today and he said the North Korea situation may be, quote, impossible to resolve. What do you think of that? COHEN: President Putin said a couple of interesting things. He said

sanctions don't work. If sanctions don't work, why is he so interested in getting them removed from Russia? He's been desperate to have those sanctions removed from him? He said, well, North Korea is different. They'll eat grass. I don't think so.

If the North Korean people understand, they could have a cobb salad or a Caesar salad and Texas beef as opposed to eating grass, they might have a very different reaction to the existing president and decide to overthrow the regime from within. That's the difference, and I think that's something we should contemplate. We should send the signal in an information campaign to say you're not going to be so secure when your people find out what you've been doing to them compared to what's happening in South Korea.

[16:00:00] KEILAR: You support talking about regime change. Why?

COHEN: I talked about it in the sense of if you're not going to change the course of your regime by stopping the building of these nuclear weapons and threatening everyone, then we have to consider having a regime change. Hopefully, that would come from within. Namely, if you have a number of generals saying we could be doing a lot better than we're doing now, life could be much more secure and more prosperous, they might consider removing him.

KEILAR: You see it as an important stick, as a motivating stick, right?

COHEN: I do. I think it's an incentive -- a stick that we should use, I should say, to hit President Kim with.

KEILAR: Any dangers in that?

COHEN: Obviously, he may feel that he has to respond militarily. That's why we have a great defense and deterrent. I think he would be in a very difficult position if his generals decide their lives would get much worse eating grass as opposed to eating well.

KEILAR: It is a difficult problem. Secretary Cohen, we appreciate your insight on it. Thank you so much.

We're just an hour away from the National Hurricane Center's next update on the path of Irma. And "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.