tv State of the Union With Jake Tapper CNN September 3, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT
hello, i'm dana bash in washington, where the state of our union is threatened. breaking news this morning, north korea claiming it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, the sixth test of a nuclear weapon by the rogue nation and first since president trump took office. north korea state media is calling the test a, quote, perfect success. this comes just hours after a photo was released of what it
says is kim jong-un observing the launch. president trump responding, north korea is a rogue nation, which has become a great threat, an embarrassment to china, which is trying to help but with little success. south korea is finding, as i have told them, their talk of appeasement will not work. they only stands one thing. let's get to cnn's will ripley in north korea, he's one of the only western journalists to spend significant time in pyongyang. you just returned from there yesterday, your 14th trip. what does this mean. ? >> number one, they have proved
they can launch -- in july they tested two, and an ballistic missile last week flying it over hokkaido, the northern island here in japan, also sending a strong message of continued defiance despite multiple shows of force, of course the joint military drills ended just last week. a few weeks ago it was the provocative rhetoric, threatening to rain down fire and fury, if they continue acts that continue to threaten the united states. all last week meetings with officials and north koreans state media, they will not back down. in fact if there's more pressure, they will on accelerate and push forward. >> the question also is, why now? is it because they were just ready with the technology?
i know it's very hard to look inside the reasons inside this regime, but you, if anybody, can do it for lots of reasons, especially since you just came back. >> well, we've been saying since april and so has the united states and south korean officials they believe north korea has been ready to conduct this sixth text with little or no notice. a lot of people thought it was happen on april 15th, the day of the sun celebration. it did not happen then, but just last week the intelligence service briefed lawmakers and said they observed this activity in the mountains in northeastern north korea, very close to the border with china. why now? clearly north korea up been the ante as far as the escalation of tension, and indicating that eastern though the seventh round of sanctions has been passed and has yet to kick in, that this will not stop them. they're trying to send this message maybe even before the
bite of those sanctions takes effect. what they want ultimately is leverage. north korea has an arsenal that the u.s. doesn't seem to have a strong response to. a war on the korean peninsula would be more horrible than we can even put into words. in fact they put out a statement about 48 hours ago, saying that the u.s. needs to change its long-held position of refusing to acknowledge its changed political influence. it wants to be recognized, they want a seat at the table not from a position of desperation, but strength. perhaps they think as long as the united states stops telling they is the precondition is knee nuclearization, maybe they would be willing to have discussions with the u.s. ultimately what north korea wants is really the only thing that the u.s. can give them which is legitimacy, increased
opportunities to engage with the outside world. the real question for the u.s., would they reward north korea for continued acts in flagrant violation? no easy answers here, but the weapons program continues to advance. >> no easy answers is the most important thing we should remember. will ripley, thank you for the report. i want to bring in senator jeff flake, a members of the foreign relation committee. north korea as we've talking about, announced its detonated a hydrogen bomb that can be pointed on top of ann and he accused america's ally of appeasement. he said psychopsychois finding that their talk of appeasement with north korea will not work. they only understand one thing. what do you make of that.
>> i think south korea certainly will be with us in whatever we decide, but i don't know about that criticism directly. south korea knows the situation they're in, the proximity of seoul to the dmz and north korea is obviously of big, big concern to everyone in south korea. so i don't know. i don't want to characterize the president's remarks. >> north korea's nuclear test, no doubt about, this was an extraordinary show of defiance against the united states and specifically president trump who threatened last month to bring fire and fury tonoicnoic if it continued to threaten the u.s. do you think the president has
backed himself into a corner here? >> well, what we've been doing over the years, has certainly not slowed the advantage of their nuclear program, bud i don't think harsh rhetorc does either. certainly sanctions are not, you know, arrested that develop either, so just about nothing we have done so far has helped slow it down. obviously we hope that china exercises its leverage, they have considerably more leverage than we do, but given where we are, we see the limits of economic sanctions obviously on north korea. >> steve bannon gave a really blunt assessment of the state of play, advice ahave north korea last month. he said -- there's no military solution to north korea's nuclear threats. forget it. until somebody solves the part
of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in seoul don't die in the first 30 minute from conventional weapons, i don't know what you're talking about. there's no military absolute here. they got us. do you agree with that? >> well, i have a lot of confidence in our national security team. general mattis and others. that's obviously something they have to consider and everyone dealing with this situation has to consider. you know, it becomes cliche to say there are no good options here, but there really aren't. i think that everyone recognizes the problems you have with a war on the korean peninsula. for those who believe that we can simply strike and knock out their capability somehow, they don't understand the situation very well there. >> so you agree there is really not a military solution at this point? >> obviously you cannot rule
anything out. all options have to be on the table. obviously having north korea with the means and the ability to have a nuclear weapon, a hydrogen bomb, and to deliver it to our shores is not an option we can tolerate either. so we simply can't take any option off the take at this point. >> senator james clapper, the director of national intelligence under president obama, he recently questioned president trump's fitness for office and capacity to handle the nation's nuclear arsenal. listen to what he said. >> sit worry about frankly, you know, the access to the nuclear codes. in a fit of pique, he decides to do something about kim jong-un, there's actually very little to stop him. >> senator, there's a lot of people waking up this morning in
this country very concerned about what they're hearing from north korea. do you share clapper's concern not just withnoic, but with the president's ability to respond? >> i do have good confidence in our national security team, and the president does not have experience in this kind of situation, but few presidents do when they come into office. i'm confident that the people around the president are giving him good advice and i believe he'll follow it. i sure hoe he does. obviously you like a leader that's measured, sober and consistent. our allies want to hear that. i think our adversaries need to hear that. we have a good team around the president. >> you talk about the president's team, but not about the president himself. are you concerned about the president himself as james clapper is? >> like i said, no president
comes in prepared with regard to foreign policy experience. that's why you have a good team around them. i've had my concerns, i think everyone has, as some of the statements made by the president with regard to nato and other areas in foreign policy. like i said, i think we want somebody who is measured and sober and consistent and conservative in this regard, but he has a good team around him and i have confidence in them. >> all right, senator, stay with us. we have a lot more to talk about. plus later president trump on the attack against the man you're talking with. we're talking with jeff flake of arizona. listen to what he said. >> weak on borders, weak on crime. nobody knows who the hell he is. and also president obama left a secret letter to president trump in the oval office. we now know what that letter
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flake. "the washington post" is reporting that president trump has instructed advisers to prepare to withdraw from a free trade agreement with south korea. do you think that's the right thing to do now? >> no, not at all. i don't think that that would be good in any circumstances. now it's particularly troubling, given what south korea is faced with. i think that we need to do more trade, not less, and withdrawing from trade agreements is a very instrumentaling sign i want to ask you about daca, the obama-era program that shields them from deportation. you tweeted the following -- congress needs to take immediate action to protect daca kids. let me show you what president trump promised during the campaign in your home state of arizona. >> we will immediately term nay
president obama's two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants. five million. >> the president said he will make ha decision soon, why should he go back on this promise? >> because it would be the right thing to do to go back on a promise. you obviously hope that presidents keep some campaign promises and hope they ignore others. this is one he ought to ignore. there are 800,000 daca kids, kids brought across the border. the median age i think is 6 years old when they came across the border. they should not be punished for the sins of the parents. that's the basic principle we ought to follow here.
they're either in school or graduated and are working, i think 90-some percent of them are in the workforce. to remove them from the country, to split up families like this, is just not the way we should go. >> if the president says he will extend protections, but do it in exchange for funding from congress for his border wall, would you go along with that compromise? >> obviously all of us believe in border security. it depends on what he means by the wall. we still really haven't seen what he means. if that's a metaphor for border security, we can certainly support that. if he's talking about a solitary brick-and-mortar 2,000-mile ed fits on the border, no, nobody ought to support that. we really haven't seen what the president is really talking about, when he talks about the wall.
president trump is really on a mission to defeat your -- he's called you a flake, says you're toxic, and has promoted your primary opponent kelly ward. i want you to listen to more of what the president said on your home turf just this past week. >> nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime. so i won't talk about him. nobody knows who the hell he is. >> senator, what makes you think that you can win your republican primary in your state with the president attacking you and you going after him. >> the people in arizona tend to elect independent-minded senators barley goldwater, john mccain. i think the voters expect me to have my own franchise, to represent them, not be a rubber stamp for the president. i'm quite comfortable where i
am. i would hate to be tethered to any president, republican or democrat, and every position they take. >> senator, 88% of republicans in your home state voted for donald trump in november. you might be right about the general voters in arizona, but we're talking about an intra-republican worse that one of the battlefields is right there, and you're leading the charge against the trump voters. >> no, that's not the case. i'm vote okay a conservative basis. that's my philosophy. i will support the position when i believe he's right. i'll oppose thoughs that i think he's wrong on, things like nafta, for example. i think nafta has been good for arizona, good for mexico, good for canada. those kind of things that will damage arizona, i won't support the position on, but on most things i do.
that's what i do with every if you want. that's what the voters in arizona expect me to do to search russian facilities here in washington, and they call it a hostile act. do you think that russia's interference, wasn't that just that, a hostile act? >> obviously russia did try to intervene. what we do with regard to diplomatic for a sims set govern thei conventions and protocols in place. >> russia is an adversary, if we don't, we all to continue to recognize that, so i'm certainly supportive of us recognizing them as an adver sear.
>> lastly, senator, the leaders here in washington, they're preparing to potential attach this popular bill to help victims of hurricane harvey to a controversial measure to increase the nation's debt limit. do you support this move? >> well, we don't know how it would come forward. we desperately need to help those who have been through this horrific situation in texas and louisiana. we'll do so. we'll also raise the debt ceiling -- raising the debt ceiling is simply paying for bills that you have already accrued. we obviously need to be concerned about our growing deficit and our massive debt but the debt limit is not the place to do that on. obviously we have to provide assistance to those in texas and louisiana. >> to be clear, you will support
federal assistance for harvey? >> obviously we're talking about this coming week is immediate emergency assistance, kind of the down payment. i don't think you'll have much argument there. >> senator, thank you so much. we appreciate your time this morning. we have much more on the breaking any ahead. it's the country's fifth ever nuclear test. what is kim jong-un planning? that's next. when heartburn hits fight back fast with tums chewy bites. fast relief in every bite. crunchy outside. chewy inside. tum tum tum tum tums chewy bites. i'm val. the orange money retirement squirrel from voya. i represent the money you save for the future. who's he? he's the green money you can spend now. what's up? gonna pay some bills, maybe buy a new tennis racket. he's got a killer backhand. when it's time to get organized for retirement, it's time to get voya.
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joining mess is david sanger national security correspondent for "new york times." david, you are the expert on all things north korea. why do you think he did this now? >> i think he's doing it for two big reasons. first, he's had a summer in which he just wanted to establish himself as a major nuclear power, akin to, say, pakistan or india, one whose nuclear capability is such that we're not going to get to under wind it. secondly, i think hoe wants to divide the american alliance with south korea and japan for make it clear that all his talk, president trump is no more willing than his predecessors to actually go in and disarm him. that could create a breach from japanese and south koreans who doubted from the beginning of the campaign whether the president would come to their aid. >> you said north korea is giving president trump the middle finger.
is this about getting under trump's skin? >> i think it probably is, because kim jong-un continues to do this stuff and president trump says all sources of things like locked and loaded and fire and fury. i think the reason kim tested it right now is he sees chaos in washington, he thinking he can get away with it. also china, in the run-up to the 19th party congress, a very sensitive time for xi jinping, the chinese rulinger. i think he believes that both washington and beijing, neither are in a position to oppose him. >> gordon, how much should we really bev the north koreans whether they say they can put -- >> i don't know if it's a thermonuclear device, but it was probably 120 kilotons, which means it possibly was an h-bomb.
sometimes they exaggerate, but if they're exaggerating, it just means they're going to accomplish this two, satellite, four, five months down the road. within nine months to a year they'll be able to do everything they have promised and then we're at risk. >> here's what slipped sit graham told me this morning -- the length of the diplomatic road is defined by the pace of the north korean military buildup. the military buildup is exceeding the diplomacy. >> he's basically got that right. one of the big diplomatic options that people have been talking about is getting a nuclear freeze, getting them to top doing missile and nuclear tests in return for the united states. if they stopped down, they would stop as a pretty established nuclear power, whether or not as gordon said, they are ready to get this bomb on to a missile. the second thing i think you have to are is when president trump tweeted this morning that
the south koreans should stop appeasement, it's hard to imagine president trump giving the north koreans something, whether it's an end to u.s. mill tar exercises or greater aid. it just doesn't seem like the president trump we know. that's what i'm afraid is the dynamic that could get us to something more confrontational. >> david sanger, gordon chance, thank you very much for your insights. stay with us. president trump, he has visited with victims of hurricane harvey, and next we will take to the state's governor about new challenges, including flooded toxics waste sites in texas. plus an exclusive from one president to another. >> i just went to the oval office and found this beautiful letter from president obama. think you'll need in retirement?
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welcome back to "state of union." i'm dana bash. president trump and the first lady visited victims of hurricane harvey. he just got back to the white house, where such spoke cooperation and coordination. joining me now is the republican governor of texas, greg abbott. thank you so much for joining me. i want to ask by looking back in time to hurricane sandy. after that hit in the northeast in 2012, the federal government spent $56 billion on relief efforts. on friday, the trump administration asked congress for 7.85 billion, an initial hurricane funding relief.
given the devastation, will $7 billion be even close to enough money from the federal government? >> it will not be. however it's very clear that the president has made it clear, congress is making it clear, this is just a down payment. let's not compare it to sandy. let's compare it to katrina. the population and geographic size is far larger than katrina and i think sandy combined. we have over 5 million people. it's the swath from corpus christi over to beaumont. it will require even more that was funded for katrina, which was $120 billion. in addition to that, we are trying to rebuild the state of texas ourselves. that's why we have created this new fund, called rebuildterebui.
you believe the federal government will need to give north of $100 billion? >> in the overall equation, the cost of this, if i understand it correctly, to rebuild katrina was over $120 billion. when you consider the magnitude of the size of this storm, it's far larger than could tria. both geographically and population-wise. when you look at the number of homes mowed down and destroyed, damaged, this is a huge catastrophe. this will take years to overcome in challenge. >> the waters are receding in texas, people are returning to their homes that have been devastated. only 15% of houses in harris county, which include houston, have flood insurance. what's going to happen to those
people, governor? >> well, let me first say one thing -- i'll answer that, but remember the waters are receding and drying up in houston, harris county, but there's so 78 other parts impacted such as the beaumont and others regions in the lower brazos river, we're still done search-and-rescue operations. we are still in phase 1 of responding to the emergency. but as it comes to the homeowners in harris county and houston, texas, with the most dramatic and widespread flooding took place, we're working on multiple levels. one way in which the trump administration has been very, very responsive is having all their cabinet members as well as the fema administrator in texas constantly. we're looking on strategies to help the homeowners have an effective response for them. >> the associated press reported
this weekend that 13 of the 41 contaminated superfund sites in texas were flooded, and are now experiencing possible damage result of the hurricanes. when will the epa inspect all 13 of the sites. the epa has been aggressive, working on some of them already. they have restraints simply because of the water. >> what threat do you think it poses, in all honesty of public health to your citizens. this is a multitude. listen, people, as they begin the cleanup process, they begin to realize as the waters have flown through their homes it's not just what you're talking about there. it's filled with chemicals,
waste, that can pose real health hazards. we caution everybody, as you begin the rebuild and cleanout understand your homes, buildings, any area where the flooding waters have come across your pros, there is potential of dangerous dirt and grime left behind. >> should people wait to know the answers to what really is left behind before they go back? >> no. as we cured around houston yesterdays we saw in typical texas fashion, people are getting back to work. what people need to do is just be very cautious in the way they respond. do things like wear gloves, masks, clothing so your skin is not brushing up against what you're cleaning. people can begin the rebuilding process like we have seen across the state of texas and already, and so impressed with the work ethic of our fellow texans about
getting back and rebuilding the process. governor abbott, thank you so much. >> thank you. congratulations and some advice. in his final moments in the oval office, prime minister prime minister left a private letter to president trump. we now know what was said word for word. that's here on cnn. ...where each drop was formulated to be smarter.... ...even smarter than that...
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with no artificial preservatives hot doin all of our meat.. and no added nitrates or nitrites. in every... single... one. so, fire up the grill before summer's over, and finish summer strong with oscar mayer. welcome back. looking through an oval office window, as he slipped a handwritten letter for donald trump into the resolute desk, addressed to mr. president. two days later president trump spoke about that letter.
>> i just went to the oval office and found this beautiful letter from president obama. it was really very nice of him to do that, and we will cherish that, and we will keep that, and we won't even tell the press what's in that letter. >> president trump has since shown that letter to his white house visitors. now for the first time cnn has an exclusive look at the contents of that special letter, and it reads in full following -- dear mr. president, congratulations on a remarkable run. millions have placed their hopes in you and all of us regardless of party should hope for expanded prosperity and security duringtenure. this is a unique without a clear blueprint for sections, so i don't know that any advice from
me will particular helpful. still let me offer a few reflectio reflections. first we have both been blessed in different ways with great good fortune. not everyone is so lucky. it is up to us to do everything we can to build more ladders of success for every child and family that's willing to work hard. second, american leadership in this world really is indispensable. it's up through us through action and example to sustain the international order that's expanded steadily since the end of the cold war and upon which our own wealth and safety depend. third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. that makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions, like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties that our forebearers fought and bled for. regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of
democracy at least as strong as we found them. finally, take time in the rush of events and responsibilities for friends and family. they'll get you through the inevitable rush patches, michelle and i wish you and melan melania, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can. good luck and godspeed, b.o., barack obama. >> you have a president. >> that was a very gracious letter, i understand why president trump shows it to the people that come to the white house. i think he hit on all the key themes, was gracious about it. i hate to nitpick, but i will. the introduction was politically correct, he didn't congratulate him on his victory, he congratulated him on his run.
also he didn't say americans support you, he said millions support you, that was actually a cave caveat, but after that i thought the letter was well written. >> these beautiful words were written in spite of the fact that president trump tried to delegitimize the first african-american president. president obama rose above that. he also talked about latitudes of success. we don't see him working to create better jobs with good paying wages and lowering the cost of living and so i hope that president trump really rereads this letter and understands it's wisdom and uses it as a road map to the rest of his president. >> you worked for the last american president, president bush and his cabinet, knowing
the history of this tradition of leaving notes, what is your take? >> there was a message in there, when he talked about keeping the international order, that's probably juxtaposed to president trump's america first, but when you get into recommending that he spend more time with his family, there's no question that this is diplomacy at work but these two men are archrivals, they have been and they always will be, that's something to keep in mind when we see these wonderful statements of friendship. these are two rivals, these are two competitors. >> you know the woman who thought he was going to be president, this was not, to your point, senator, an easy letter to write. it was carefully written, he tried to obviously do it respectfully, but this is not
the person he wanted to write it to. >> i think that goes to the graciousness of the later, he was not only writing to the person who defeated the person he was actually in favor of. but donald trump actually started his campaigning, made his name as a birther. i think what's extraordinary about this letter and other letters that have been in the public, usually you do not have to remind the president about essential democratic norms like civil liberties and lrespect fo the president, that's an unusual thing to have to do. and i think its spoke to the concerns that the majority of americans had in the election. >> one of the quotes in here that struck me that speaks to actually the differences within the republican party big-time right now, is the following, this is on american leadership, american leadership in the world is really indispensable.
if this was president bush was coming in, this would not be a sentence that barack obama would have to write in his letter. >> yeah, look, that's true, i think president trump was very concerned during the campaign putting america first and the centrality of focus on this country, and at least during his campaign, he was talking about the disconnection from international order. that obviously has not happened. if there's anything, i would make the argument that president trump has been connected more and has been more involved in setting the order than president obama ever was. president obama deferred on a regular basis. that remark in there when he said we need to provide international leadership and he wasn't providing international
le leadership on a whole host of things. but there's no question that he's stepping forward and trying to chart a different path that previous administrations have and in my opinion, that's a good thing. >> i think north korea is an example of how his bluster may well be act secelerating this situation, so i think there's a difference from international leadership. >> from where, we're seeing nuclear tests before, and now we're seeing more nuclear tests, where's the acceleration. >> if you look at the last 10 years, we're on a faster past over the last six or seven months than over the past 10 years, perhaps you think it makings sense for a president to tweet that he's going to threaten fire and fury, at north korea, but it does not seem to have stopped them from detonating a massive nuclear run, i'm not saying this is all on trump, just as i'm not saying
you were wrong to saying you were wrong to criticize president obama. but the president has talked about the ability to handle crises like these. right now he's basically more critical of south korea in his tweets today, than of china, given that south korea is going to face the most fire and fury in this situation. >> his personality is stronger than policy. his policy is stay away, we're not going to be nation builders, but the moment he sees ago situation where he needs to come back and tweet and get into a tweet fight with someone, he gets involved, i agree he's probably more involved than we have seen in the past, but there doesn't seem to be a pattern or a formula or a strategy that puts all these things together. as you say, why would we cancel
a trade deal with south korea? they're not our enemy. we're supposed to be looking north. >> when we look at international leadership, we're looking at first of all, this president trump has withdrawn from the climate change accord, we were leaders in that effort and this is a major, major problem, withdrawing in terms of u.s. leadership, secondly, when you look at the state department budget, i serve on the funding committee for the state department. this administration has proposed a 30% cut, this is our diplom diplomatic budget, to look at global initiatives, this is how you reduce tensions, this is how you reve you prevent wars, i just returned from west africa and we reit frat ewill -- when you loo at this administration, you
don't hear much, when you look at this information, we we cuts of our defense department. >> to remind us of those contradictions, we're going back to the sanctions of cuba, going back to the era of the embargo, why? because there was political pressure to do so. so there is a lot of mingling in other countries, to do things, but the official policy is we're not going to do that. >> and in our nuclear deal with iran, this administration continues to send signals that it wants to withdraw. we're trying to reduce tensions in the world this president wants to take us back. >> i don't think that iran that has a nuclear weapon in 10 years is ledeucing tensions. what's -- number three, the president obama did nothing with
respect to venezuela, he sat quietly while chaves destroyed that country. >> the only thing the president has done is say we have a military option for venezuela. what that does is give venezuela a chance to double down. >> we can't assert american influence and actually threaten if we follow it up. >> the stated policy is that we're not going to do that. so the problem here is what is the policy? >> i think -- i think the fact that we're having this discussion and it's not just democrats and republicans having a healthy debate but it's among republicans, tells us a lot about the state of affairs. >> i was just going to say, it's fascinating to me that we're all critical about president obama on north korea, because of the acceleration of the program.
>> i agree, that president obama actually put in place a regime to stop iran from becoming north korea. iran is not testing nuclears, they're not threatening their nation -- other nations with nuclear bombs, you were talking about iran getting a nuclear bomb is ten years, north korea has a bomb now, the international order is to stop that, instead ofpplauding that. >> north korea is considered a rogue nation and there are multiple u.s. sanctions, what president obama has done has put iran on a path to legitimate nuclear weapons. >> president obama is gone, president trump is president and it is what he is doing today that really counts and i can't tell you what his policy is. cuba, cuban rights, how many other countries around the
world, where we have these wonderful relationships also have human rights policies. we have this selection policy, that seems to work on the whim of how the president feels on a given day. >> you have a policy that says to me that the military option is always the first option, the military option should be the last option. when you look at increasing the military budget from 67 billion to $17 billion when you look at rolling back the gains we have made with just normal relations with cuba. when you talk about the president really pulling back on the neuclear deal, you see an america that's more mill tarristic. >> we have a lot more to discuss and luckily we're on a special extended edition of state of the union. >> this is cnn break