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N.K. Ambassador: U.S. Will Receive More "Gift Packages"; Texas A.G. Applauded Trump For Ending DACA; U.S.-Backed Forces Take Control Over Raqqa; Drone Footage Shows Liberated Raqqa; Pope To Promote Peace In Colombia. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 02:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: A massive storm is lining up to strike more than a dozen Caribbean Islands before heading towards the US mainland.

VAUSE: North Korea more defiant than ever, promising more so-called gifts for the US, a likely reference to an imminent missile launch.

SESAY: The Dreamer controversy, they were brought to the US illegally as children. Now, the White House is ending a program to protect them from being deported.

Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us for this third hour of NEWSROOM LA.

Hurricane Irma is now one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record. With winds of almost 300 kilometers per hour, the Category 5 storm is being called potentially catastrophic.

These images are from a resident in Saint Bart's in the Caribbean show Irma's impact already being felt on the island and Barbuda and Antigua are being soaked right now by rain from Irma.

SESAY: And take a look at the monster storm from the International Space Station. You can see from this perspective just how massive it is. The White House has issued emergency declarations for Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The US National Hurricane Center says preparations "should be rushed to completion." In Puerto Rico, people were rushing to stores on Tuesday, emptying shelves of food and water.

Let's go there right now where we find CNN anchor and correspondent George Howell. He is live in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

George, good to see you. Give us a sense of conditions as they are right now. GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha, so the wind is picking up here. It is an ominous sign of what's to come out there in the darkness, quite frankly lurks a monster. It is moving slower and slower, but closer and closer here to Puerto Rico. We understand again this will be a Category 5 storm that passes this island.

Officials have already taken a great deal of preparation. They've started to evacuate the eastern part of this island, a voluntary evacuation, but again, urging people to get to high ground, get to safety.

At the same time, some 456 shelters have been opened for people (INAUDIBLE) island is accustomed to big storms passing through, but again, you guys hit this off the top. This is unlike anything that has been seen in the Atlantic.

It is a big storm. It is moving closer. And, Isha, we believe it will start to see the conditions deteriorate even more as we get (INAUDIBLE) the afternoon, the late afternoon (INAUDIBLE).

So, again, that's what we're watching for, that's what we're waiting for. And officials telling people to take shelter.

SESAY: Yes, to hunker down in place. George, we're going to leave it there. I guess it's no surprise that we are having a few technical issues, given all that's happening around you with the weather. But, George Howell, do stay safe there in Puerto Rico. Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. Let's head now to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri at the International Weather Center for the very latest on the storm's position. And it's, what - it's a Category 5 level. What are you seeing here? Is it getting stronger, getting weaker, what's the call?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's incredible because when you think about this being a Category 5, John, in fact, it's so strong above the threshold that it requires you to get to Category 5, 257 kilometers per hour. This is just shy of 300.

If there was a hypothetical Category 6, this would be up there. And again, among the strongest we've ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean. But the position right now, pushing right through Barbuda and Anguilla. It is actually making its first landfall across that region inside the next couple of hours.

Wednesday - as we go into Wednesday afternoon, we think the northern tip of Puerto Rio could be impacted by this. The worst side of the storm is on the right side. So, Puerto Rico will actually be on the better end of a Category 5 storm. If there is a place as such, that would be it. And then it works its way towards the Turks and Caicos. We believe direct landfall possible there.

Again, it will skirt potions of the island of Hispaniola and, eventually, Cuba looks to be in the crosshairs of the storm system.

And the storm surge threat and, of course, just the shear wind power associated with the storm going to cause significant damage where we know, based on historical data, Category 4, Category 5 storms - there's only been, by the way, four storms in the Atlantic Ocean, four hurricanes that have ever been as strong as Irma is at this hour.

So, any time you have these type storms, you look at the data, (INAUDIBLE 0:04:28) communication is lost for weeks, if not months, and areas are uninhabitable for that same time period. In fact, you see it moving right over portions of Barbuda at this hour.

Population there, by the way, 2016 census has it at 100,000 people; highest elevation, 30 meters. So, there is very little unfortunately that people can do on these islands to stave off significant devastation with a storm of such magnitude.

But we're watching this track. And again, when you look at the numbers, you put it in among the most notorious of storms in Atlantic Ocean history of how strong they get. The hurricane warnings will remain in place across this region.

[02:05:00] And follow the track here because we know the storm surge threat, once you get towards the Turks and Caicos, up to 6 meters high on an island that, again, is as flat as they come. This will be sometimes, say Thursday, into Friday, pretty good guidance on the models here that this storm system will move in over Cuba Friday night.

It is beyond Friday, into Saturday, where there is significant variations on where the storm could end up. At this point, historically speaking, again, with four to five days out on a tropical forecast, you have about, say, 150 to 200-mile variance in error of where the storm could end up.

At this point, we have it potentially going over the Bahamas from the Cuba point, which again confidence is there for landfall there. But beyond that, we think the eastern coastline of the United States could be in a threat zone.

Notice, because of the way the eastern United States curves, this storm system will not be able to dodge it under almost every circumstance. And then, of course, centered right over southern Florida could be another option and then back into the Gulf of Mexico, which is the lesser threat at this point based on the environment, we think, will present itself on Saturday.

But again, notice, pretty good confidence here. But once you go in toward Saturday, it does spread here between portions of the Gulf and on into the Atlantic.

But either way, we never had a Category 2, Category 4s or 5s make a landfall in the United States in the same season. Records have been kept since the 1850s. So that again would be historical in itself.

But anytime you get to this, you are talking about areas being uninhabitable for weeks, if not months, and a scenario sets up with a catastrophic damage.

And one thing worth noting, with the island such as Cuba there, tremendous mountain ranges across this region. If this storm system interacts with Cuba, John and Isha, in any significant way, say, it stays about, say, 10 to 12 hours over land, that would significantly weaken the storm system beyond that, of course, at the expense of 11 million people that live there, but we think Cuba could almost be inadvertently, say, Florida's best hope as far as the way it would interact with land and weaken the storm on the next approach.

So, there's just a lot of variables in play once it gets there.

VAUSE: Yes. Basically, we aren't entirely sure how this is all going to play out. And I guess we just have to wait and see. But, clearly, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of worry right now. Thanks, Pedram.

SESAY: Thank you, Pedram.

Turning our attention now to North Korea and the country could be preparing for another missile launch this weekend as it celebrates the founding of republic.

South Korean sources have said they believe the North is moving an intercontinental ballistic missile. Pyongyang is also threatening to annihilate Americans by blowing up the US mainland.

VAUSE: Meanwhile, the diplomatic push is underway right now, Vladivostok in Russia, where South Korean President Moon Jae is meeting with Vladimir Putin. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also meet with the Russian leader.


SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (via translator): We should make North Korea understand that it has no bright future if it continues its current path and change its current policy. For that, Japan will cooperate with Russia and the international society. So, I'd like to have bilateral talks with President Putin and President Moon Jae-in.


SESAY: Well, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following developments from Seoul, South Korea and has all the details. Kristie?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Isha, and we'll see if that meeting that Shinzo Abe mentioned will take place in Vladivostok.

We know that CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there in Vladivostok. Ian Lee is in Seoul. We also have Yonsei University Associate Professor John Delury with us.

But first, let's begin with Fred Pleitgen on the line from Vladivostok. And, Fred, we know Vladimir Putin's position on North Korea. He's been very clear. And he says that sanctions are useless. He has been telling the world, do not push North Korea too hard. Dialogue is the way forward.

Tell us more about how he's sharing his view with Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President, and whether or not he'll be talking to and sharing a similar view with the prime minister of Japan.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vladimir Putin, Kristie, is currently in a meeting with Moon Jae-in and we expect them to give out press statements, I think, in about 20 minutes from now, is when they are scheduled. So, we'll wait and see what exactly we are going to hear from those two leaders.

But you are absolutely right. Vladimir Putin has essentially done two things. On the one hand, he has condemned that new nuclear test by the North Koreans. He said that it's unacceptable and that a nuclear Korean Peninsula is also unacceptable.

But at the same time, he has also lashed out at the United States. He says some of the fiery rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration has not been helpful.

And one of the big things that was really interesting was Nikki Haley, for instance, saying that she believed the way forward that Russia is proposing, the double freeze strategy of the Russians and the Chinese as well, she called that insulting and said that's not even something the US is willing to consider.

Well, the Russians have fired back and say, look, you can say that when you are sitting in the United States, but here in the region when you have a border with North Korea, things look a lot different. And that's why the Russians are saying they still believe that talks are the best way forward, that their strategy of a so-called double freeze is the best way forward. And they say they still hope that the US will also come around to speak about that as well.

[02:10:08] Of course, we also have to mention, Kristie, that President Moon and President Putin don't exactly see eye to eye on this issue either.

The South Koreans, of course, have been saying that they believe America and South Koreans also need to get more tough on North Korea. Also want additional weapons from the United States as well. That, of course, is contrary to what the Russians are saying.

So, it's going be very interesting to see how these two leaders interact with one another and what comes out at the end. Both of them have said they want to improve bilateral relations and they certainly want to find a common way forward on this specific issue because right now, of course, as you know, it's so important here for this entire region, Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. How are they going to find that common ground where there seems to be such a big gulf between the two? Now, from Fred Pleitgen in Vladivostok, let's go to our Ian Lee standing by here in Seoul.

And, Ian, we heard from Fred, the line from Russia is they want dialogue. They don't want, in the words of Vladimir Putin, "military hysteria." But in the last two days, we've seen that get-tough approach by the South Koreans with those live-fire military drills targeting direct message to North Korea. But Seoul also wants dialogue. So, in the eyes of the South Korean president, what's the way forward here?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. About as tough as you can say. When you say that these live-fire exercises are to show the North Koreans that they can go after the North Korean leadership and their nuclear program in the event of a war and those live-fire exercises continue today. You have over ten navy warships as well as submarines, F-15 fighters that are participating in this live-fire exercise.

In the next week, you have more live-fire exercises or more exercises which involve South Korean and American forces doing anti-submarine drills, which is very important for South Korea's security.

This is showing that strong force that they said that they're going to do. President Moon does want dialogue and this is something he said from the very beginning, but it has - the situation on the ground has changed the way he's been able to approach this current crisis.

Going from initially just wanting dialogue, to sit down and hash things out to now having to show a strong show of force because North Korea is determined to continue its nuclear program.

And early this morning, there was more talk between the Japanese, the South Koreans and the Americans. They had a video conference call in which the Americans reaffirmed their commitment to protecting Japan and South Korea.

The United States also reaffirming that the two countries are under their nuclear umbrella, which will be somewhat of a reassurance for these countries, especially after this weekend where you had President Trump tweeting criticism towards South Korea.

Having this reaffirmed approach, this united front is going to be crucial when going after North Korea's nuclear program in the international community and also showing a strong show of force.

STOUT: Yes. We'll see how much common ground can be reached there in this meeting in Vladivostok. A big thank you to both of our correspondents. Ian Lee live in Seoul for us. Fred Pleitgen live on the line from Vladivostok.

Now, we're also monitoring China because we know that the United States is asking, putting the pressure on China to sign on to punishing fuel sanctions against North Korea after its latest, most powerful nuclear test.

And that puts the Chinese President Xi Jinping in a tight spot. Will he agree with US demands and appear to be bubbling to America or is there another option?

Now, let's go back to our guest, John Delury. He is associate professor at Yonsei University based here in Seoul. And, John, thank you for joining us once again. We're anticipating this phone call tonight between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump. They're going to talk about sanctions. What is Xi Jinping going to say? JOHN DELURY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CHINESE STUDIES, YONSEI UNIVERSITY: Well, and what will Donald Trump tweet? We don't know what it's going to be like.

But I think what I'm hearing is that the Chinese are open even to starting some kind of action on fuel. Probably wouldn't want to formalize it. We're not talking about shutting down the pipeline. But they're having some indications that that is now within the pale from a Chinese perspective.

But I think Xi might tell Trump, look, I'll go along to this extent, but it's not going to solve this problem for us. Sanctions are not the way that you stop the North Koreans.

STOUT: Yes. Open to sanctions, but not the only way. Yes, the Chinese, they also want dialogue.

DELURY: That's right. The Chinese position is crystal clear and it has been consistent for a long time. It's that the missing piece is dialogue. They can't do the dialogue. It's the Americans that have to talk to the North Koreans.

They used to want the six-party talks to reconvene. If you notice, they don't talk about that as much. I think they have given up, to some extent. Now, they just want the Americans and the North Koreans in the same room.

[02:15:05] STOUT: And just how frustrated is Beijing right now? When North Korea detonated that nuclear device, it overshadowed a major economic summit that Xi Jinping was hosting in Xiamen.

North Korea continues to be defiant and tests weapon after weapon. What is the view in Beijing now about its once-close ally?

DELURY: Yes. I think China is deeply frustrated with North Korea. Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping have never gotten along. We don't have a photograph of them together. So, that relationship never really came together and there's deep frustration there.

On the other hand, if you look at this from a Chinese strategic perspective, you've now got the United States and South Korea having an internal fight. You've got questions across Asia about where is this going to go and are the Americans serious about war, which really plays into China's hand.

In terms of the bigger picture of - they are trying to step up and be the responsible stakeholder and be the voice of stability, and so there's couple levels to this game. China is not losing on every level.

STOUT: Yes. Last quick question for you. Does China hold the key because in the eyes of the Americans, they believe China does?

DELURY: The big hole in American thinking about North Korea is that China is the key.


DELURY: And to solve the problem, to open the door, you need a Chinese key. The key is in Donald Trump's hand. He just doesn't know where the door is and he doesn't know how to use it.

STOUT: John Delury of Yonsei University, thank you so much. And take care.

Let's take it back to my colleagues, John and Isha, back in Los Angeles. Back to you.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. We will take a short break. When we come back, mixed messages from the White House after announcing the decision to end the Dreamers immigration program. The president, though, tempering that move just a few hours later. That's next.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. Hours after his administration ended an immigration program protecting nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants, US President Donald Trump said he'll revisit the program if Congress doesn't fix it.

Well, this is what's happening in LA and around the US as people learned the program is being phased out in six months. Protesters say they'll keep showing up in the months ahead trying to get Congress to act.

The things are actually confusing at this moment. Does the president's tweet mean he's second-guessing his decision?

VAUSE: Mr. Trump now wants Congress to legalize DACA after his own attorney general says it was unconstitutional. Former President Barack Obama started the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA and he says it's cruel to end the program.

And Donald Trump wants Congress to find a solution here, essentially buying himself some time and shifting the burden to lawmakers.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a love for these people and, hopefully, now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly. And I can tell you, in speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right.

And really, we have no choice. We have to be able to do something and I think it's going to work out very well. And long term, it's going to be the right solution.


[02:20:03] VAUSE: Well, Republican strategist Luis Alvarado is with us now, so too Attorney Brian Claypool for more on this.

OK. So, Luis, first to you, the president, he's now passed the buck to Congress to try and fix DACA.

In a statement, though, the Republican Senator Marco Rubio made this point.

"It is important that the White House clearly outlined what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign. We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won't sign."

That seems like a fair point. But it also seems unlikely to happen.

LUIS ALVARADO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, after seven months of Donald Trump's administration and governance, sometimes we don't know where the goal post is at. And before the Congress and the Senate starts engaging in the battle, they want to know what a win looks like and there's nothing wrong with that.

The question is, will the Congress and the Senate actually have the support of Donald Trump knowing that there are people in his own administration who don't want it to happen.

Jeff Sessions being one of the primary forces in the administration that seems to actually not care. And we saw a memo today from the White House saying that the people in the DACA program should be preparing themselves for deportation and making documentation runs. And so, there are several messages out there and we don't actually know where the White House stands.

VAUSE: But you mentioned the talking points. So, we actually got a copy. CNN obtained a copy of the talking points. So, if we go to that, it's a little ahead of our schedule, but number five here.

"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."

Brian, does that indicate that DACA recipients should not rely on promises that they won't be immediately deported and that's what's in the cards?

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I wouldn't rely on any promises. This is absolutely abominable, John.

Here are some words that come to my mind when I heard about this repeal of DACA. And by the way, I've represented a family in a child abuse case a few years ago in Los Angeles where the child, the younger girl, was part of DACA. And let me tell you, she is in a music school right now and she aspires to be a doctor.

So, when I heard this today, I was outraged.

But here are a couple other words that come to my mind - heartless, selfish and hypocritical. And I'll tell you why. Because I believe President Trump is absolutely punting on this. This is just a pretext. Oh, let Congress try to fix this. What do they need to fix? President Obama set up DACA in 2012, John, to allow Congress to pass immigration legislation. In other words, it wasn't set up to be permanent. Here we are, fast forward, five years later, guess what? We have a Congress that can't pass any immigration legislation. So, what makes anybody in this country think that all of a sudden Congress is going to pass legislation?

SESAY: Let me pick up on that. And, Luis, this is to you. As a Republican, when you hear that there are people on Capitol Hill who are considering tying any kind of progress on DACA to getting the president his money for a wall, effectively using these young people as bargaining chips.

You're a Republican. How does that make you feel? How comfortable are you with that?

ALVARADO: Well, I had conversations all day long with many Republican operatives and leaders and how we're going to make sure that we talk to Congress and we help them get this in a clean bill. And likewise, it's not just Republicans, Democrats have been known to put poison pills on many bills as well.

So, let's make sure that not only Republicans, but Democrats don't politicize this. We have an opportunity to actually find a pivot point to bring this country together and, hopefully, this will be a message of hope for America and the world that we're actually moving forward if Congress can actually get this passed.

VAUSE: OK. For those who support the president and Jeff Sessions, they've made the case they're not actually heartless, but they are just following the rule of law. It was a point that Jeff Sessions made when he announced that DACA would be rescinded. This is the attorney general. Listen to this.


JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.


VAUSE: Brian, that's not entirely true because the Supreme Court hasn't made a final decision on whether or not DACA is constitutional, right?

CLAYPOOL: The Supreme Court hasn't made a decision. And, John, if President Trump and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions were so concerned that the courts were going to strike down DACA, why wouldn't they let the courts just do it? Why all of a sudden does President Trump through Jeff Sessions unilaterally repeal DACA?

I'll tell you why. This has nothing to do with respecting the laws and respecting the legislative process. Remember, I was on your show a month or two ago about the travel ban.

[02:25:08] Did President Trump respect the legislative process then? No, he didn't. He just enacted the travel ban.

But what this is really about, John, tragically - and I've supported President Trump on your show before. But this one, he gets a black eye. And I'll tell you why quickly because this has everything to do with enhancing his political score card.

He needs a win. He lost on Obamacare. Boom, I've got to get a score on my score card. And this has nothing to do with doing what's right for these folks.

SESAY: And, Luis, quickly, to that point in terms of contradictions on the part of this administration, President Trump waded in to the situation involving Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona and felt that here was a man who had been found guilty of doing something wrong, but he pardoned him. He waded into the law.

Then when it comes to 800,000 young people who have not done anything wrong, their parents brought them here, here he says I stand out and I have to uphold the law. The contradiction, how does that - tell me how that strikes you.

ALVARADO: Well, it strikes me as hypocritical because Donald Trump is talking out of both sides of the mouth. The question is, is there a strategy behind this? Or is he just so unprepared for the presidency that he actually has no control of the message machine coming out from his administration.

And I think that is the hardest thing to swallow for us Americans that actually there is ineptness in that White House and it can't get things done. And he's punting to Congress. And the reality is Congress has a history of not finding success in the last few decades -

VAUSE: But why did -

ALVARADO: - when it comes to bipartisanship. But I think, in this particular case, from reading the tea leaves, I think that Congress is going to get their act together. I think -

SESAY: With everything Congress has on -

ALVARADO: I think if Nancy Pelosi and Ryan actually sit down and work this out, there is going to be an opportunity to bring cohesiveness -

VAUSE: You are the eternal optimist, Luis.

SESAY: And we're grateful for that.

ALVARADO: We need that because - but I feel that there is the energy right now that I've never seen for the last ten years, coming out of the Congress, that I've seen today.

VAUSE: We're out of time. But thank you both. SESAY: Optimism.

VAUSE: Yes, indeed. That's we need.

SESAY: Time for a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next to our viewers in Asia.

VAUSE: For everyone else, does Kim Jong-un have greater ambition to his nuclear missile program beyond simple deterrence?

SESAY: And Pope Francis comes with a message of peace to a country still deeply divided after half-a-century of civil war.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

Hurricane Irma is reaching the Caribbean Islands of Barbuda and Antigua with heavy rains right now. (INAUDIBLE) what Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can expect later today.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says preparations should be rush to completion for those in the path of the monster storm.

VAUSE: The U.S. president, Donald Trump says he will revisit a controversial immigration program if Congress doesn't fix it within six months. Yesterday, his attorney general declaring DACA unconstitutional and canceled program which protected 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

SESAY: Well, North Korea is saying that Sunday's nuclear test proves the country's will to blow up the U.S. mainland and annihilate Americans. (INAUDIBLE) satellite appears to show Pyongyang moving a lot of ballistic missile in position along the coast and they say another test launch could come any time.

VAUSE: Joining me her in Los Angeles, Clayton Dube is the director of the U.S.-China Institute. And in San Francisco, Philip Yun, the executive director of the Ploughshares Fund. Thank you both for being with us.

The U.N. held their conference on (INAUDIBLE) in Geneva on Tuesday. It seemed an opportunity for the North Korean ambassador to deliver this warning.


HAN TAE SONG, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The recent self-defense measures by my country, DPRK are a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S. 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.


VAUSE: Philip, this has gone from (INAUDIBLE) to taunting.

PHILIP YUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND COO, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Oh, yes, yes. So this is kind of standard of the North Korean practice here. You know, if you blaster, they're going to blaster back and twice as hard. So we got this sort of war of words that has been ongoing several times. We had it back in April, we had it back in July, and now with this new test, another round right now.

And, you know, the good thing right now is that even though there is a lot of these things going on the ground, there's nothing there that really indicates that any kind of unilateral attack on either side is actually eminent in any way, shape, or form.

VAUSE: And Clayton, you were expecting this U.N. Security Council vote on sanctions next Monday, sanctions which many doubt will actually have any impact which now it seems the Russians or the Chinese are unlikely to support. So, what happens after that? Where this will go?

CLAYTON DUBE, DIRECTOR, U.S.-CHINA INSTITUTE: It's a good -- it's a very good question. And I don't know where this goes. We're really in uncharted terrain at this point.

The Chinese have never really very much worried about the North Korean nuclear weapons program. They saw it as irritating the United States. But they have reached the point where they've managed to mobilize South Korea to bring South Korea closer to the United States. They've even scared Japan so seriously that they might consider hosting nuclear weapons if not creating their own.

And so, China is in a very difficult box and is quite resentful of the fact that they choose the occasion of this big BRICS meeting to launch or to test this new nuclear weapon. And so, this is a very dangerous moment. We don't quite know where at anyone will go.

I think they'll try, I don't think war is likely, I don't think there's going to be a preemptive strike by anyone. It would be suicidal for North Korea to do anything but we don't know how we step back from the brink. It seems much more likely that we're going to have to move in the direction of containment and deterrence.

VAUSE: And Philip, with that point, just with regards to the relationship between North Korea and China. Clayton mentioned the fact that, you know, they conducted this nuclear test to -- wants to embarrass Beijing. The two other missile tests were also conducted within hours of another big event in Beijing.

What does that say now about the way Kim Jong-un sees himself in relation to Beijing? And, is this now, you know, I guess a (INAUDIBLE) little country that just wants a nuclear deterrence, keep the Americans away? Or does the North Koreans had much (INAUDIBLE)?

YUN: So I think it's a combination. I mean, this is -- a lot of this is really I believe at the stage right now is really (INAUDIBLE) whether North Korea can -- will not be intimidated and subject to regime change.

[02:35:01] I think that what's going on here is also as much directed towards China as it is towards the United States these days. I think there is -- it's not a secret, there's no (INAUDIBLE) between those two countries and those two people. And the North Koreans realize -- think the Chinese are doing what they're doing not because they like the North Koreans, it's because the Chinese think that supporting the North Koreans as they have is in their self interest.

But I think these tests, both the nuclear tests and the missile test at this timing is basically telling the Chinese, you know, you're not going to intimidate us either. We're going to do what we want to do and you're going to have to live with it. And China has got a difficult dilemma because if it uses all of its leverage it will have no leverage (INAUDIBLE).

If it does vote for the sanctions and agree with what the United States wants, like cutting off all its oil (INAUDIBLE). And essentially China has basically said has no capability to pull any tricks whatsoever. They're not ready to do that yet.

VAUSE: Well, just to that point, Clayton, it seems China will always back sanctions with the pre-conditions that the sanctions would not destabilize the regime which means that the sanctions don't work? I guess what has to happen for China to move from that position to, you know, essentially cutting off the fuel for example which would be very effective to this containment strategy?

DUBE: Well, there's things that might be done in addition to or in advance of cutting off the fuel. China has not enforced the economic sanctions. There had been a number of Chinese individuals, Chinese companies that have been fronts for North Korean operations.

And so, if they were to more energetically enforced those sanctions that would be a signal that they were trying to make it very clear that this was about the weapons, that they were not trying to overthrow the regime and destabilize it.

VAUSE: OK. But we're still away from that I guess. Clearly, this is the problem which is been searching for an answer for a long time.

Philip Yun in San Francisco, Philip, thank you so much and also Clayton Dube in Los Angeles, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

DUBE: My pleasure, thank you.

SESAY: We're going to have a quick break here. Legal battles are promised on both sides. We'll hear from the Texas attorney general on President Trump's decision to stop protecting Dreamers.

VAUSE: Also, the latest on the fight to liberate Raqqa, including exclusive images of the extended extraction to the self-declared capital of ISIS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Ever since President Obama announced DACA in 2012, there's been growing support for the program which allows so-called Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children to come out of the shadows and no longer face the immediate risk of deportation. Despite that, 10 states led by Texas were threatening legal action if the Trump administration did not end the program by Tuesday.

And the attorney general for Texas, Ken Paxton is with us now from the state capital of Austin. Attorney General, thank you for being with us.

[02:40:01] And you see this decision by Donald Trump as a win for the constitution. President Obama overreaching so this is essentially about restoring the rule of law. You know, technically, there was never a final decision that DACA was actually unconstitutional.

KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, so, the president has inhabited this as President Obama inhabited overreaching. In this case, he acknowledges that he didn't have the authority to do it. This should have been done by Congress and that's what are argument is that the constitution has separation of powers, that the legislature has specific role, the president has specific role.

In this case, the president shows to operate as a legislative body and he didn't have the authority to do that. And so, this is, by definition unconstitutional.

VAUSE: But just really the point, there's still a final rule (INAUDIBLE). And there seems to be another question, last month, more than a hundred law professors and lecturers, they wrote to President Trump insisting that DACA is legal. This is part of what they wrote.

"In our view, there is no question that DACA 2012 is a lawful exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Our conclusions are based on years of experience in the field and a close study of the U.S. Constitution, administrative law, immigration statutes, federal regulations and case law."

So, at the very less it seems it's still undecided?

PAXTON: Well, you know, it is undecided in the sense that we didn't take this particular case to court to (INAUDIBLE). But we had a case that was exactly the same as called DAPA. Had the same legal principles, same arguments. It was ruled unconstitutional (INAUDIBLE) separation of powers and overreached by the president of the United States.

So, it was very likely we're in front of the same judges, we're going to go up to the same circuit. Likely end up in the Supreme Court and we've won that case previously. So, most legal experts acknowledge that we're going to be successful in the next.

VAUSE: OK, so, (INAUDIBLE) this is an issue which your state and nine others believe is one which is crucial the issue of presidential power. Donald Trump has issued a number of executive orders which has been challenged in court. The original version of his travel ban for example, some courts ruled that they went beyond the power of the executive.

But Texas didn't join the legal fight there. We also have this controversial pardon of the Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Would you consider a legal challenge to the presidential pardon, the presidential power on that issue?

PAXTON: So what we were looking for in this case with DACA and DAPA was the fact that the president didn't have any statutory authority. He literally just changed the law.

If you go to the travel ban, we actually did get involved in that case, we just got involve on the side of the president because the president actually had statutory authority to operate and to have the executive order related to the travel ban. So, there was clear guidance on that. As long as there's statutory authority, the president can operate.

When there is none -- and President Obama acknowledged especially when he did DAPA that he was making a (INAUDIBLE) that he just changed the law. And he had said over a six-year period that he didn't have the authority to change immigration law and yet after saying this for six years over 20 times, he came out and he created DACA and DAPA. So it is interesting that the president himself acknowledged he didn't have the power and he went and created the law anyway.

VAUSE: OK. Well, Texas has about a 120,000 DACA recipients. A data poll of one study says that could be a $6 billion annual hit to the GDP of Texas, just to the state alone. Will that be a price worth paying?

PAXTON: Well, look, I don't know much about the state. (INAUDIBLE) I have not actually seen it but the reality is, my job isn't to focus on policy or economic impact. My job is to focus on the law. As attorney general, I don't make policy, I defend the constitution, I enforced our state laws, I enforced federal laws. That's my job.

So, I don't worry about policy, I'll let the legislature worry about that. I also think the president shouldn't be worried about necessarily creating law. That's what the legislature does.

So, what we're talking about here is separation of powers and federalism. The fact that states have certain rights and the federal government has certain rights. So, all we're asking is the president to stay within the guidelines of the constitution.

VAUSE: Well, Congress now has six months to find some kind of solution here which is exactly what the Texas governor, Greg Abbott had wanted. Listen to what he had to say on Tuesday.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS: These are issues for the federal government or Congress. It is -- again, the architectural design is for Congress to address it and it is right for Congress. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Notably, Governor Abbott didn't actually say anything about what Congress should do. Given that Texas was one of the states that brought his legal action, is there any responsibility from your state to at least offer up some kind of solution, say some kind of input and how all this should play out?

PAXTON: Absolutely. We have 36 congressmen and six senators, I expect them to be offering plenty of input. And that's (INAUDIBLE) is the federal issue, the states do not have control over immigration law. And so, yes, we have a responsibility through our elective representatives and that's what I expect to happen not from the attorney general or governor of Texas. We don't have any impact on that legislation but that's why we do elect these representatives.

[02:45:10] VAUSE: OK. After Hurricane Harvey, Texas is facing a lot of rebuilding, and again, another study for you. This was one a few years ago, it found that half of the state's construction workers were undocumented immigrants. That's about 400,000 workers.

Are you concerned this DACA decision and other Trump administration policies (INAUDIBLE) really aggressive enforcement of immigration laws might see those workers actually just leave when you need them the most?

PAXTON: Look, again, my job is not really to focus on policy or the economic impact of policy. My job is to focus on the law. And we have something that's clearly unconstitutional which DACA was. Then it's my job to say, hey, wait a minute, we can't allow a president, a rogue president to operate outside the constitution because once you make that exception, even if you like the policy, even if you love the policy, we end up on the slippery slope where we have a president of the United States operating outside his constitutional authority.

As we know, our founders (INAUDIBLE) they separated power and they divided government for a purpose of separating those powers and we're going to leave by that hopefully.

VAUSE: OK. Finally (INAUDIBLE) the attorney general is not responsible for anything other than the laws of the state. But here is a tweet from (INAUDIBLE).

"I'm a DACA recipient. This is my life on the line. I know nothing else but Texas. I had nothing else anywhere."

So, you know, you brought this legal action, (INAUDIBLE) of the legal action. What can you tell Louis (ph) now?

PAXTON: Well, I can say for sure (INAUDIBLE) the six months and probably there'll be some time after that. My hope is that Congress addresses the issue in the next six months or at least close to it. So something like this guy has resolution and knows where they stand because clearly right now, there's a lot of open questions with this being rescinded. One of the problems with putting something like this in place is once you undo it even though it's the right thing to do, it creates a lot of problems. This is why one of the reasons that when you go through this process, you wanted a legislative solution that will last as opposed to having a president that can just issue an executive order that can be easily undone.

VAUSE: OK, Attorney General Ken Paxton, thank you so much for being with us from Austin. We appreciate it.

PAXTON: OK, thank you. Have a great day.

SESAY: All right. Well, the Syrian government says that is has broken the three-year siege by ISIS on Deir al-Zor. This city was considered the terror group's last major position in Syria. The country's official news agency says all the unit carried out operations under intense air cover. And Russia says it backed the offensive with crude missiles.

This map shows key cities in the region and who currently has control in neighboring Iraq. Government forces have recently driven ISIS fighters from Mosul and (INAUDIBLE).

Also in Syria, U.S.-backed forces say they have taken control over a Mosque of Raqqa from ISIS. That's the declared capital or the militant group's so-called caliphate. CNN has obtained exclusive droned footage showing the destruction and terrorized neighborhood that have yet to be cleared off snipers and mind.

Hala Gorani reports.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the past three years, Raqqa has been hidden from the eyes of the world. But now, exclusive drone footage gives us a first bird's eye view of ISIS' de facto capital.

Three months since the battle for Raqqa began, this is what is left of newly-liberated western neighborhoods. Around 200,00 civilians have fled the city, an estimated 20,000 still trapped in the center. Not a person in sight in this square which is name after a relative of President Bashar al-Assad.

In Raqqa's center, ISIS had surrounded on all fronts. The SDF has taken back control of over half of the city including in the past few days with great (INAUDIBLE) in the old city.

The remarkable drone footage shows how much had been destroyed in this small city. Up to 20 airstrikes a day from U.S.-led coalition planes according to the SDF. While the airstrikes targets ISIS fighters, increasingly civilians are being killed. In part because ISIS often uses them as human shields.

As the smoke of the strike and mortars lingers in the air here, ISIS retreats, living danger in its wake. Local fighters says this (INAUDIBLE) open area has been laced with IEDs. And if estimated, there are around 1,500 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa.

The city has been the center of the terrorist group's self-declared caliphate since 2014. This drone pictures gives us a new inside view of a city starting to feel liberation. But at a very heavy price.

[02:50:09] Hala Gorani, CNN, London.


SESAY: The destruction is just extraordinary.

Next on Newsroom L.A., Pope Francis wants to heal the wounds of war after 50 years of violence in Colombia.


SESAY: Well, everyone, Pope Francis is heading to Colombia later on Wednesday, and his visit comes at a crucial time. The country is sorting out its peace process with major rebels. The deal ended half a century of war but left the country bitterly divided.

Colombia's president told Christiane Amanpour he welcomes the Pope's visit.


JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: He comes in the perfect moment to push us, in his own words, for the Colombia society to reconcile. To lay beside 53 years of war, of death, of violence, and start working together to construct that peace.

So, he comes in the perfect moment.


SESAY: Well, John Allen joins me now from Rome, he's CNN's senior Vatican analyst and also editor for Crux, an independent website covering Catholicism. John Allen, always good to have you with us.

According to Archbishop Octavio Ruiz, a Vatican official and Colombian, he says this, quote, the greatest talk of the church in Colombia now is their help stemmed the polarization around the peace process between the government and the guerillas. I mean, talk to us about the difference the Pope really could make potentially here in this regard.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Isha, I mean, let's remember, Pope Francis is himself Latin American, he is the first pope from Latin America. Colombia is one of the most fervently Catholic nations on the continent. People there are disposed to listen to the pope.

So, it is possible he can make a real difference. And just to say the sort of high wire at facing him is that he wants to go to Colombia to identify himself with the peace process but not necessarily with this particular peace deal negotiated between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the main guerilla groups, the FARC and now the ELN which has joined the deal. Because as you say, it's bitterly controversial in Colombia.

Many Colombians believe that deal gives too much impurity to these rebel groups for stalking conflict over more than a half century. So he's going to have to figure out a way to get across to Colombians that the mechanics of peace are up to them.

What the goal here of the end game, of ending the killing, that's something that is both urgent and that has a strong support.

SESAY: Yes. I mean, you and I both talking about the sensitivities surrounding the peace deal and the (INAUDIBLE) the pope will have to walk. We're talking about today with a friend of mine, for Vatical officials, is this something that it's generating concern there in the Vatican.

ALLEN: Well, I mean, the concern -- you know, the Vatican is founded (INAUDIBLE) to political situations before so I don't know that anyone is in panic mode. What I will say that inside the Vatican, people have looked at this trip for a long time as one of the more sensitive that Pope Francis is going to make.

[02:30:05] I mean, let's remember the official theme of this trip is reconciliation. He wants to bring Colombians together. But right now they are badly divided and he's got to figure out a way during the six days he's in the country to promote national unity and in a sense not will make the trip look like a victory laugh for the Santos government. But instead, one of those moments when Pope Francis can get across, that he's there, he's on the side of all Colombians no matter what their politics are. And wants to pry to bring the country together rather than (INAUDIBLE) on those six days more badly divided.

SESAY: And John Allen, obviously, we'll be covering the pope's trip to Colombia very closely but I want to ask you about the developments here in the United States and the Trump administration moving to end DACA. A statement was put out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calling the president's actions reprehensible. The statement went on to say this, " The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society."

I mean, what role you see U.S. Catholics clergy playing in this road ahead to make sure that DACA is indeed replaced by something else in Congress? Do you see them taking an active stand here?

ALLEN: Whatever the thing beyond active is, Isha, that's the sense they're going to take. I mean, they are in a full operating locked position on this issue.

I think one do the striking things about it is, the bishops are almost completely in the locked step on this. I mean, we all know the Catholic church (INAUDIBLE) and supporter of the population. It often has the same left or right divides as everybody else and that usually includes the bishops. But on this issue, they are singing from the same songbook.

You have to remember that many of those beneficiaries of DACA, those young people who have come of age in the United States are in Catholic parishes, all up and down the country. I mean, these are the church's people. And I think the bishops are determined to speak with one voice on their behalf.

I mean, in many ways, I think the comparison here, Isha, is with the battles over the contraception mandates under the Obama administration. That was the signature Catholic issue then, DACA and immigration is the signature topic issue in the Trump era.

SESAY: We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead. John Allen, always a pleasure, thank you so much.

Well, you have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The news continues with Rosemary Church after a short break. You're watching CNN.