tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 18, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
the opioid crisis after they release the final recommendations this fall. that's it for the "the lead" for jake tapper. i now turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now the world stage. president trump makes his due bay at the united nations calling for reform of the world body as he looks to step up pressure on north korea and step down u.s. commitments. rocket man mr. trump comes up with a new nickname for north korea leader calling him rocket man after a series of weapons tests. but as u.s. allies engage in own show of force, is kim jong-un getting close to strg a missile that can hit the united states with a nuclear warhead. another hurricane, murk maria has doubled strength in atlantic category 4. going toward the caribbean islands. a state of emergency has been
declared in puerto rico. and last chance, making one last chance to overhaul obamacare to pass a health care bill. can they do it before september 30th deadline? i'm wolf blitzer here in "the situation room." president trump makes his debut with the united nations and makes a splash calling for reform of the world body and an end to business as usual. the head of tomorrow's big jenna sem bl assembly dropping hints he wants to drop the deal, whether he wants to drop out of the paris climate accord. the president spoke by phone today with china president white house saying they agree to maximize pressure against north korea. that comes a day after president
trump calls kim jong-un rocket man. among an aerial show of force, and among word north korea is drawing closer to reaching the united states. also at a washington d.c. restaurant talking loudly. the lawyers publicly debated over how much to cooperate with the special council robert mueller's investigation and openly worried that white house colleagues were wearing wires, microphones, for the special council. and breaking news the new forecast is just in. hurricane maria is category 4 and state of emergency is already up in puerto rico as the storm churns toward caribbean islands already hammered by hurricane irma. and our correspondent guests are all standing by with full
coverage. let's begin with president trump's debut with the unts looking up to step up pressure on north korea and step down on u.s. commitments in other areas. let's go to our white house correspondent. jim, the president wants to see some dramatic changes at the u.n. >> that's, right, wolf. president trump is signaling a big change in foreign policy here at the utah united nations this week. he is dropping hints planning to pull out of the deal. and top officials are telling reporte reporters stick with his plan to get out of the paris climate agreement. >> during his first visit, president trump is closing in on a major decision whether to scrap another big piece of former president trump barack obama legacy the iran deal. >> do you plan to stay in the iran nuclear deal? >> reporter: president sat down
with only foreign leader that is only critic than he is. president benjamin nate. >> iran cnn telling canceling the agreement nuclear weapons program would come with consequences. >> exiting such agreement would have -- would carry a high cost for the united states of america. >> he is showing what trump diplomacy looks like. >> we are looking at fourth of july. >> tweeting a new nickname. i spoke with president moon of last night asked him how rocket man is doing. long gas lines in north korea, too bad. while they are defending mr. trump's attempt at humor. >> rocket man, i thought was poking at kim jong-un in a
frankly in a pretty funny way. >> u.n. ambassador nikki haley is trying to make the case they are serious about what would happen if diplomacy fails. >> president is looking for the u.n. support after the world body as candidate. >> the united nations is not a friend of democracy. it's not a friend to freedom. it's not a friend even to the united states of america. where, as you know, it has its home. >> now he's all but telling foreign democrats to form his campaign. >> make the united nations great. not again, but make the united nations great. >> while working in a quick plug for one of his apartment buildings. >> i actually saw great potential right across the street. >> a new yorker, the president is not a total stranger to the u.n. meeting with foreign secretary general in 2001, and even weighing in on the 2005
when he sounded less critical of the world body. >> i'm a very big fan of the united nationss and all it stands for. >> i'm listening to these people that are very nye heaaive and i respect them. now i might be naive in their world. but in this world they are naive. >> reporter: now, as for the president's talk of having a fourth of july parade to show off america's military strength, we should point out, wolf, there is already a fourth of july parade in washington d.c. on independence day, but not to show off the military might. we should also point out tomorrow morning the president will be delivering his first major address to the united nations. expect more on north korea. >> thanks, very much. let's turn now to our chief national security correspondent jim. jim, what's the trump administration bottom line message as far as north korea is concerned? >> reporter: well, wolf, you have the american president, in
the odd position as being someone who in the past has derided, somewhat dependent on the u.n. council on the votes as we had one several days ago to do sanctions, which is a key part of north korea military program. nuclear program. escalation. that said the message in the last 24 hours from trump administration officials, mac master, the security adviser, nikki haley and others is the time for diplomacy in their words is running out. their patience is running thin and next syllabus military options. the thing is military options have potential of ee norm tnormn cost, especially to seoul, but you have enormous civilian population. you said defense secretary james mattis say among u.s. military
options are options that he says do not put seoul at grave risk. he didn't say what those options are, but he did say options in that vein. it shows at least public postering that is a military response is something under consideration by president. >> how are the north korea reacting to u.s. threats to military options? >> reporter: well, in very colorful terms, wolf. and i want to read this because you have to listen to these words, even for north korea, they call the north korea, the sanctions against north korea imposed by the u.n. security council, vicious, in humane acts of hostility. they go on to say their program will not be koud or stopped. because economic sanctions under this point under trump and previous administrations build as very strong, very powerful, have not stopped the north korea
nuclear program, either missiles or nuclear tests. it remains what will stop them. that's why you have the trump administration making clear they are considering the pobltd ssib of actions. >> thank you very much. we have senator. thanks for joining us. let's talk about north korea. clearly north korea is upset with the new u.n. approved sanctions. are you hopeful that these latest measures are putting enough pressure on the north korean regime to really have an effect? >> reporter: well, wolf, it's the best hope that we have. kim jong-un and his father who is previously the dictator of north korea have shown great resilience and willingness to continue to pursue a nuclear weapons program that could threaten the homeland even in the face of tough sanctions. president trump has a tall order tomorrow at the united nations. he needs to show that he can be a world leader.
and rise above name calling on twitter or a blustering or threatening speeches and pull together the world community to confront the reckless north korea regime. one of the things he has going for him is exactly of american leadership under the obama administration which brought them to the table. i think it would be a disastrous moment for the trump to walk away from the iran agreement for the consequences that would have on our allies to trust us that we would fully implement an and tie north korea agreement. >> what's your reaction, senator, to the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley saying that the secretary of defense james mattis will in her words take care of north korea if the diplomatic efforts fall through? >> reporter: well, i do think ambassador haley has done a
strong job at the ufrt. that is a reminder there is military options. not appealing or positive. they would lead to huge loss of life mostly among south koreans, but it is reminder the amount of time we have left for diplomatic solution is running short. i do think this is a moment when the trump administration and ambassador haley need to redouble their efforts. as i've said on this show before, i was deeply puzzled by the trump administration budget which slashed our diplomacy by a third. i'm puzzled by their choice to cut the number of folks we have representing us at the u.n. at exactly the moment when we need to strengthen our engagement and dome around the world because the military options against north korea are so unappealing. >> you mention the future of the iran nuclear deal. as you know the president, president trump he's been dropping some strong hints about that deal. maybe getting ready to move away from it even though he's authorized the secretary of state recollection tillerson to
twice so far during the administration sort pcertify th north korea is complying with the basic outlines of the agreement. do you believe that iran, that the president is getting ready to scrap the iran deal? >> it's unclear what direction he's going. as a candidate trump was forcefully vocally opposed to the iran deal saying it was a terrible deal. but as president his secretary of state recollectix tillerson said is in compliance with the deal. the main criticism that president trump has had of the deal is legitimate one, which is that it didn't deal with iran's human rights violations, ballistic missile program and support for terrorism in the region. i too had that criticism of the iran nuclear deal but it was intended to constrain iran's efforts to get a weapon. it didn't address the other things. there were many that would hope
it would change the behavior. i think i was a critic of the iran behavior tlutd the process. more importantly, wolf, we have too many crisis on the world stage for us to throw over an eye ran agreement that so far has worked to contain iran nuclear program. >> so you are saying iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement. but as you know the critics are pointing out what iran is doing in the situation, that the terrorist organization, what they are doing in yemen, and iraq. you see iran spreading influence, especially now that it has all of this cash that the u.s. provided as a result of the iran deal. are you comfortable with that, senator? >> no, i've never been comfortable with that. to be clear, wolf, iran is one of the leading state sponsors of terrorism in the world. and they have not restrained in any way, in fact they have advanced their support for terrorist organizations in the
region and around the world. their human rights record remains dismal. their support for organizations remains appalling. and their ongoing ballistic missile is alarming. none of those were goals of the iran nuclear deal. it was opened that they would restrain those, but they didn't. i never thought that they would. and to be clear, the access to money that they got was not u.s. money given to iran. it was money that was iranian and frozen in accounts around the world during the period when tough sanctions were imposed on them. also, to be clear, wolf, i've joined many other senators, both republican and democrat in cosponsoring a biehl that imposes tough new sanctions on iran, rekrntdly signed into law by trump for exactly the reasons you raise, terrible human rights record. i think it's appropriate for us to continue to call them to account and to impose tougher
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pretty amazing story, senator. i want your reaction to the report of the "new york times" according to the times two of the lawyers were overheard at a d.c. restaurant talking about conflicting views within the president's legal team. cobb voiced frustration with the white house saying he was too conservative with russia probe and alleged mcbegan has ha couple of documents locked in a safe. are you concerned that the white house might be hiding information from the special council's investigation? >> well, wolf, it's my hope, it's my expectation that the white house will fully cooperate with special council robert mueller. i have no reason to believe that that's not the case. this was a titillating story, suggested that you have a pretty senior attorneys making the mistake of chatting loudly on a sidewalk cafe and we'll see whether it amounts to anything. i have been working across the aisle in a way that's designed
to strengthen this process. republican senator tom tillis and i introduced a bill before we went out on recess in august that would make it more difficult for any president to fire a special count. this is about strengthening the independence of the department of justice and process. and it's my hope that we will see a strong bipartisan support for special council mueller and for this investigation going forward. i think you'll see further hearings in the judiciary committee this month. >> they also say they express fear secreting reporting conversations. how much legal liability are staffers at the white house exposed to right now? and how much paranoia is going on there? >> well, i don't speak for white house staff, wolf, but i would expect that knowing that there is an ongoing investigation by
the judiciary committee into obstruction of justice, by the intelligence committee into the national security russia interference in 2011 election, and mueller, very respected republican, law enforcement leader, that lease leading an investigation that is bearing down on members of the inner circle of the trump campaign, that would make me exceptionally uncomfortable if i were on white house staff. so i would suspect this is a difficult time for that. that making sure that they are observing all the boundaries and processes that are required once you've got a federal investigation like this has got to be an added layer of stress for them. >> but it would be pretty shocking, i assume you agree, senator, if white house were wearing wires. >> that would be a striking development if senior members of the white house team had begun to cooperate actively with mueller's investigation by gathering further investigation
in that way, yes, that would be quite striking. >> and professional conduct of these two lawyers who were having this conversation at the d.c. restaurant speaking loudly, a reporter from the new testament new testame"the new y could over here what they were saying. was that appropriate? should they face consequences discussing open session all of these sensitive issues? >> well, wolf, it's certainly sloppy. it's not the best of legal practice. and i'm sure they are having difficult conversations with their client. but i can't speak to whether there would be disciplinary consequences from the d.c. bar or whatever bar they are admitted to. it certainly doesn't reflect the highest standards of representation, particularly in such a sensitive matter as this ongoing investigation. >> good point. senator, thanks for joining us. >> thank, wolf. >> of delaware. coming up president makes debut of united nations. ahead of the speech he's making it clear north korea and iran are topping his agenda.
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so far keeping world leaders guessing about what he may do about iran nuclear weapons. let's bring in our specialist. president trump has hands full on the world stage. how big of a test is this for the president this week especially tomorrow morning when he addresses the general assembly? >> i think it's a very big test. this is a president who has already talked about america first. and he's speaking to the united nations where the world comes first. and so it's going to be interesting to see how he adjusts his world view. and what they think of him on this stage. this is a president that they don't know what to make of. you know, he promised he was going to withdraw from the iran deal. he hasn't. he promised he would withdraw from nato orr said he would like to withdraw. he hasn't done that. he said he was going to withdraw from nafta and hasn't done that. so they are trying to figure out who the real donald trump is. they do agree with him on north
korea. they like the united states to take a leadership role but not quite sure what fire and fury means. and so i think they are going to be all ears. and the one on ones are going to be really important to this president. >> do you remember during the campaign he was very critical of the united nations. didn't like the fact that they were funding so much of the united nations operations. how is he likely to be rereceived? >> it largely depends what he says in his speech. my understanding his speech is probably going to sound a lot like what he warmed of in the campaign. he maybe won't be as explicit but at least implicitly america first. but, look, you've been to presidential speeches for many years. i've covered a few in my time as well. and certainly been many controversy speeches. and many spot lights on presidents because of whatever is happening in the world. i don't think, it's certainly my memory, there will be one quite
like we'll see tomorrow, if for no other reason then the world is fascinated and obsessed with donald trump. well the world is going to be gathered, representatives all in one place to hear from donald trump about how his world view is right now. certainly will be about the u.n., institution, but also about that. and talked in an interview with nikki haley yesterday and she was very clear it was all of the buzz. and of course it is. >> yeah, very important point. we'll see what he says tomorrow. how is he going to play the iran nuclear deal? because as you know he says the worst deal ever, ever, bar none. he says the u.s. should have never signed it. during the campaign he said he was going to rip it up. but twice now during the administration rex tillerson has written documents to congress saying the iranians aren't complying with the agreement. and october 15th veto do the same thing. how do you think this will play
out? >> i'll give you the same answer relating to his world view, wolf, we'll kind of wait and see which is what to dana's point makes this speech and donald trump presidency very watchable. whether you like him, hate him, or don't know what you think about him, that's probably ten total people in the world, but he is someone who often says contradictory things. dana noted the world is waiting to see him elucidate his world view. i'm interested to see how much of donald trump having a world view beyond america first. yes, we know that was the campaign slogan. yes, we know that's why he got elected. but what does that mean? let's put some flesh on that bone. what does it mean? is this the speech where he explains a little more what it
means? i tend to think when we believe that donald trump is going to go into a lot of specifics and give us a real meaty foreign policy we tend to be over disappointed, but who knows this is a speech where he could do that. >> because he said during the campaign he wanted to renegotiate that deal. it was a horrible deal. worst deal ever. got to be renegotiated. >> but what's worth noting is that the day that we pull out of the iran deal. the sapgss would have to be reimposed with allies including great britain and france that they don't want us to leave the deal in the first place. they think it's a good deal. so with drawing from this deal could be a tremendous gift to iran because they could get their nuclear program started up again, and no sanctions. so that's a problem that with drawing from the deal. and that's why, i think, the
trump administration is not with drawing from the deal. >> and we have already withdrawn from the paris climate change deal, although there seems to be a little question now about whether the door is open this much. but you withdraw from one, and then you withdraw from another, and your allies are left holding the bag or deciding what to do? >> hand campaign rhetoric versus government. you see it time and again fire and fury. what does that mean? it is easy to say we'll rip this up. make better deals with everyone in the world. be tough again. being tough is not a foreign policy. >> let me get susan hennesy into this. you are a former lawyer at the national security agency. what was your reaction when you read that "new york times" story about two of the president's lawyers having a blunt discussion at a d.c. restaurant
clearly within earshot of a "new york times" reporter sitting at the next table. >> it's certainly a notable story. the underlying issue is the scope of executive privilege. the president has some ability to keep documents secret. how much is he is going to assert that? that is involving all of the investigations involving the president. what's really interesting in this case is one that it's not just about sort of conflict between the special prosecutor and trump's team. it appears there is conflict within trump team. they don't have access to all the same documents. that raises questions about their organization, that ability to amount to defense. the other question syllabus why were these lawyers having this sensitive conversation in the public in the first place. that goes to broader issues of professional conduct. >> let's bring are other analysts into this conversation. you saw it that the white house are wired at the request of the
special council. that i never heard before. but you have more experience in this than i do. >> certainly that is an investigative technique. >> for white house staffers to be wired? >> no, i'm saying it's for criminal prosecutorers in general. it has certainly never happened in history before that people in the white house have been wired. and i think that would raise all sorts of difficult constitutional and legal questions about whether that would even be permitted. remember, as you point out, that has never been done before. but the issue that these two gentlemen were discussing at significant volume is actually one that comes up in every investigation in the white house, which is how cooperative to be. do you want to turn over documents and sort of let the chips fall where they may, sew there is nothing there, or do you want to fight the way bill clinton fought with ken star about disclosure of documents? i mean, that is an important
strategic question that all these white house lawyers deal with. they usually don't deal with it in quasi public settings. >> yeah, and there are differences in approach among a lot of these lawyers. because perhaps their clients have competing interests. and so there are going to be different approaches. i think the big question here is executive privilege and when the president asserts it and when he does not assert it. i'm not a lawyer, but you are. and a question of cooperation. so far what we have heard from the white house is we are cooperating with the special council in every possible way that we can. that's what we've heard publicly. >> and a midst of all this russia investigation, pretty stunning commented to from the hillary clinton in a new
interview on her book with npr. she had this exchange. >> i want to go back to the question. would you completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learned that the russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now? >> no. i would not. i would say -- >> you are not going to rule it out? >> no. >> pretty stunning you have to admit not ruling out the possibility. she would raise the legitimacy of this election if the russians were proven to be involved. >> right. and that's a big if. because as of right now the people who initially were looking at it in the obama administration said they didn't seeny eviden seeny evidence. that the meddling that they did changed the election. having said that, look, she's doing a book tour. she's explaining the things that she felt that she did wrong. but also talking pretty extensively about the fact that
she believes russia played a very big role. and i have to say we all know that donald trump just can't quit hillary clinton. he can't get over her from the retweeting the gift this weekend to everything that he talks about. and a big reason is because of that l word, legitimacy. and for him to hear that, i'm sure he is going to go -- >> well, retweeted a tweet with golf balls and hitting her in the back. >> that's what i'm talking about. >> the gift. i'm not so sure this wasn't her way getting back to him. >> hold that thought for a moment. we have a lot more coming up. including the updated forecast for hurricane maria turned into ha major hurricane threatening islands already devastated by hurricane irma. also, the president jabs under the current leader jimmy calling him rocket man. products that sus and i get back to business. ♪
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many. breaking news, major hurricane now threatening some of the areas devastated by hurricane irma. let's go to our meteorologist. she has the latest forecast for hurricane maria. where is the storm heading alison? >> reporter: it's heading to lesser and till ease, and moves to the west. right now winds 130-mile-per-hour that makes it a category 4 storm.
it's moving west northwest at about 9 miles per hour. so we do expect it to make its way toward dominique in the next couple of hours. from there progresses to the north and west to virgin islands and then towards puerto rico where we expect a direct landfall. from there it continues up to the north but exactly where that's the ultimate question. when we talk about the two big models, there is very good agreement up to puerto rico, in fact, both of them while the landfall point might be slightly different, they both expect a hit on puerto rico. after that, however, the american and the europe model split and they split pretty far part. the blue is europe even nod el and red is american model. that has it hit towards the ugs. why is there enough discrepancy in the two? it all comes back to this high pressure. this is what's stirring is
currently. the european model is banking it won't move. the american mod sell banking on that shifting to the west, in doing so it will push maria to the west potentially giving us a u.s. landfall. but i would like to point out we are still talking at this .7 to 10 days out and a lot can change. >> unfortunately our friends in puerto rico they are bracing for the worst. alison, thanks we'll ta in tost touch with you. coming up mocking calling him rocket man. and later shows off fire power and vladimir putin is there to watch. . this is a financial transaction secure from hacks and threats others can't see. this is a skyscraper whose elevators use iot data
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there's an alarming new prediction about north korea's missile program and it comes just as president trump is taunting the north korean leader kim jong-un, as, quote, rocket man. let's bring in cnn's brian today. >> reporter: a short time ago a u.s. intelligence official told me unless russia and china step in there's no reason to believe kim jong-un is going to stop his provocations. development of its longest range missiles that could hit the
united states is, quote, in the final stage. it has north korea's rivals conducting live fire drills. >> reporter: multiple bombs explode simultaneouslsimultaneog a target in a narrow valley. fire jets scramble, part of a massive show of force over south korea. at the same time, u.s. and japanese forces conduct urban warfare drills near mount fuji japan. this is what the region looks like when it's on edge. these drills all in response to kim jong-un's forces launching what's believed to have been an intermediate range missile which flew over the japanese island of hokkaido on friday. the distance that missile traveled could have been meant to send a message to america. >> this missile flew about 320 miles. if you rotate that south, that puts guam in range. that could be a signal by north korea to the united states that
it could hit the island. >> reporter: tonight new information on north korea's longer range missiles which could soon be capable of hitting the united states with nuclear warheads mounted on them. south korea's defense ministry says kim's regime believes its development of its intercontinental ballistic missiles has advanced, quote, near the final stage. analysts say that koocould be accurate. >> we have not seen them demonstrate a vehicle re-entry technology but that's the last part of the puzzle. u.s. intelligence community has assessed that they can. >> reporter: tonight the challenges of stopping kim jong-un's weapons program and taking him on in the event of war are coming into focus. south korean defense officials say they're speeding up the creation of a so-called decap tags unit, a military brigade which would specifically target north korea's commanders in the
event of war. those commanders would include kim jong-un. the unit could be ready by the end of this year. analysts say kim's likely taking measures to evade the assassination teams. >> he uses many kinds and of course different vehicles and for a long time the guard command did not allow, whether it's his father or himself, to fly the plane. >> reporter: analysts warn that while kim jong-un is taking his own measures to dodge south korean assassination squads, he could well be preparing assassination teams of his own to go after south korea's president. the north koreans did that at least once before. in january of 1968, sending dozens of commandos to target south korea's president inside his residence, the blue house, that came within 350 feet of that residence, and in a furious gun battle, nearly 60 soldiers from both sides were killed, but the south korean president survived. wolf. >> very interesting. amid all this tension and the
combat drills that are going on right now, the u.s. defense secretary, james mattis, just made a rather surprising comment about military options for north korea. >> reporter: he did, wolf. secretary mattis a short time ago at the pentagon told reporters that there are military options to deal with north korea that would not put the south korean capitol, seoul, at grave risk. mattis would not go into detail but what those military options are, but until now, most analysts believe that any military option to deal with north korea would inevitably provoke an attack from north korea on seoul which could kill tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people in seoul. interesting the defense secretary mentioned that option. >> interesting indeed. brian, thank you. brian todd reporting. coming up, breaking news, hurricane maria is now a very dangerous category 4. it's racing toward the caribbean islands already devastated by hurricane irma. we'll have the latest forecast. [vo] quickbooks introduces rodney.
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i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. happening now, breaking news, extremely dangerous. hurricane maria intensifies to a devastating category 4 storm. we're tracking its power and path right now on the heels of two horrific hurricane disasters here in the united states. nuclear diplomacy. president trump makes his debut at the united nations where the threat from north korea is an urgent priority right now. mr. trump leaving u.n. members guessing about his next moves as he mocks kim jong-un and his provocative missile launches. russian war games. vladimir putin presides over a powerful show of force right on nato's border. is he sending a troubling message to president trump and the west?