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White House delivered a stern and somber message to North Korea; Millions of dollars in donations have poured in since last weekend since hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas gulf coast; Exclusive look at President Obama's advice to incoming President Trump on the eve of his inauguration; Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 3, 2017 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:07] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I am Fredricka Whitfield.

We are following breaking news. Minutes ago, the White House delivered a stern and somber message to North Korea. It comes just hours after the regime announced it successfully detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb and more ominously that it could be placed on a missile. Here now is defense secretary James Mattis and the entire statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We had a small group national security meeting today with the President and the vice President about the latest provocation on the Korean peninsula. We have many military options and the President wanted to be briefed on each one of them. We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attack, and our commitments among the allies are ironclad. Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, response both effective and overwhelming.

Kim Jong-un should take heed, the United Nations security council's unified voice, all members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses and they remain unanimous in commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

So Barbara, the significance of this statement, coming from the secretary of defense.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look at that, you know, those images, Fred. That's defense secretary James Mattis standing at his side, General Joseph Dunford, the four star chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Dunford, of course, is President Trump's chief military adviser.

No Washington politics in this one visible. This is a military message. I mean, there's politics behind all of it, of course. But the optics here are this is Mattis and Dunford. It is not the politicians in the administration delivering the message.

Very interesting couple of points here. Every word would have been carefully crafted, but secretary Mattis said any threat by North Korea to the U.S. or allies would be met with massive military response. North Korea is already a threat. So it is interesting why he didn't say any attack. He may not have wanted to put that word out there.

And he also pointed -- he also was very specific in saying the U.S. was not looking for the total annihilation of North Korea. But make no mistake, what the U.S. is looking for is for Kim Jong-un to change his ways and to convince him he will be annihilated going back to the first point if he threatens or attacks the U.S. or its allies, that the U.S. does have the military options to get him out of power, basically to annihilate him and his regime.

Whether those are practical, whether they can really be used without massive civilian casualties in South Korea, without provoking more global conflict in that region remains to be seen, but it was a pretty stern message at least for today.

WHITFIELD: It was.

OK, Barbara Starr, we will see you again very soon.

Let's go now to the Korean peninsula where we find our Paula Hancocks joining us from Seoul, South Korea.

So Paula, the defense secretary issuing the strong message to North Korea. How much relief does this come to South Koreans?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, I think certainly that the fact that secretary Mattis spoke about the threat to the U.S. and its allies, the fact that the alliances with the allies are ironclad, this is something that South Korea can never hear enough of, especially when you consider what they have been hearing earlier today from the U.S. President Donald Trump saying that South Korea, he said in a tweet that South Korea has been told by him that appeasement was his words is not going to work.

Now this sparked an unprecedented response from the blue highs there. She sent out a text message to reporters who were consistently calling to find out what the response was to that tweet. And they said that they wanted to point out that South Korea and the U.S. agree on sanctions. They agree the pressure and sanctions are the best way to try and get North Korea back to the negotiating table. So saying that Korea is a country that has experienced war, we can't let this experience be repeated again on this land. We will pursue the denuclearization of Korean peninsula through peace with allies.

Now the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has been consistent in saying there will not be a second Korean war, who at all costs avoid any military action on the Korean peninsula. And also called what North Korea has done of absurd strategic mistake. Let's listen to his security adviser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:05:24] CHUNG EUI-YONG, SOUTH KOREAN CHIEF OF NATIONAL SECURITY (through translator): North Korea today ignored the repeated warnings from us in the international society and conducted a stronger nuclear tested before. With the continued provocation of ICBM level missile launch, President Moon has ordered the most powerful response to condemn North Korea, along with international society and decided to seek diplomatic measures such as pushing ahead for resolution to completely isolate North Korea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: And we know that General Joseph Dunford, twice on Sunday, had a phone call with South Korean counterpart, discussing what they could do about North Korea. And according to South Korean statement, they decided there should be some kind of combined military measure as early as possible. Now this could be a show of force. We have seen bombers flying over the peninsula, just last week. We have seen a bombing drill from South Korean forces. So it will be interesting to see what kind of military measure they believe they could carry out - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.

All right. Let's discuss this now with CNN military analyst colonel Steve Warren and back with me, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

So colonel Warren, what about the language being used by Mattis very carefully. In one context, he did, you know, use the word attack, but he was talking about, you know, the U.S. defending ourselves and allies, South Korea and Japan, from attack. But then later on he is careful to use the word threat.

COL, STEVE WARREN (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Sure. The word threat, you know, in military world can be interpreted a lot of different ways. We can use that word in several different ways. Of course, it can be simply words, someone else threatening the United States or our allies, can be a threat. But also if we see something more kinetic. If we see bombs or troops massing or things like this, that also is a threat.

So I think the secretary of defense was deliberately a little ambiguous there, right. It creates a little bit of uncertainty in the minds of our opponent in this case, the North Koreans. But at the same time, trying to dial it back far enough so that we prevent miscalculation.

WHITFIELD: And colonel, it was a very short statement. He was very judicious about his words, his language, but it wasn't just a message to North Korea. It was clearly was a message to allies as well. How important was it for secretary Mattis to say that we will -- that we are not looking for annihilation of a country, namely North Korea.

WARREN: The key in critical that he mentioned our allies and partners, and key and critical that he underlined the fact that we are not interested in the annihilation of North Korea. So he really balanced both of those things. The assurance of our allies and a message to the North Korean regime yet also the North Korean people, whether or not they hear it remains to be seen, they probably won't, but the message to the North Korean people is that we are not looking to wipe out North Korea. It's, you know, it is the leadership and this nuclear threat that we have our eye on.

WHITFIELD: And Barbara, earlier President Trump, you know, he has been tweeting and he seemed to escalate, you know, his rhetoric against our ally. In fact, South Korea saying quote "South Korea is finding as I have told them that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work. They only understand one thing." And then coming out of church this morning in Washington, D.C., this is the President when asked about the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you attack North Korea?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So these varying messages, whether it be by tweet or even we will see, and then you have a very sobering message coming from the secretary of defense. Is it that last word, is it that message from the sec def which is much more resonating globally.

STARR: Well, I think, you know, I think both of them will resonate. I think people - many people may find themselves trying to puzzle out exactly what the President was referring to. You know, when he says we will see, you can't really expect a President to say no, I'm not going to attack. Yes, I am going to attack. No President would do that publicly.

But I think what you are seeing from Mattis is an effort as Steve Warren just said to dial it back, not let the rhetoric get out of hand, right now, be very firm, be very much in a tone of warning the regime that there are U.S. military options, even if many people wonder if they are practical or not, at least the Trump administration is trying to send the message that there are viable military options. And if Kim hears that, the hope is he might change. I think that might be a very long stretch, we could be a long way away from Kim Jong-un changing his mind about anything.

[16:10:18] WHITFIELD: And then colonel Warren, you know, President Trump also seemed to needle China, saying this now North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China which is trying to help but with little success. Is there a concern that China could be losing its influence or that distance is being created between China and the U.S.? WARREN: I think your point is spot on. I believe that the Chinese

have over time lost some influence with the North Koreans and perhaps can gain some of it back, but probably not quite frankly. The North Koreans have shown they are willing to withstand tremendous hardship in the pursuit of the weapons and military posture that they want. And we have seen that for the last two decades. Their willingness to withstand internal hardships so that they can keep the military strong.

WHITFIELD: And they listen to what the treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said this morning regarding new sanctions on North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We are working a strongly consider everything at this point. And again, I will draft a package for his strong consideration that would go as far as cutting off all trade or other business. And this behavior is unacceptable. And if countries want to do business with the United States, they obviously will be working with our allies and others to cut off North Korea economically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. I'm going to ask you both that.

So Barbara, you first. You know, you mentioned earlier, you know, military leaders are fairly reticent to really brag about or boast about military options, yes, they are there. Is it their hope potentially that sanctions would be more effective?

STARR: Well, if you put sanctions under the sort of label of diplomacy, yes. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson, defense secretary Mattis, general Dunford for months now have been saying that they want to see the diplomatic option work, that they do not believe we are out of time for diplomacy. And I would put economic and financial measures under that. They are very much on that page. Others are more expert than me, but the military option seems to be potentially disastrous for South Korea, to say the least.

WHITFIELD: Colonel Warren?

WARREN: Yes. What is needed here, Fredricka, as Barb pointed out, is really is what we refer to as state craft. That's bringing all the pieces of this puzzle together, the military, the diplomatic, the economic, and other means to bring to the table to formulate long term strategy that will help us get out of this crisis because make no mistake, there is a crisis right now.

WHITFIELD: Colonel Steve Warren, Barbara Starr, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, 36,000 and counting have been rescued by federal responders from hurricane Harvey's devastating flood waters. Details on the city's rebuilding efforts and its road to recovery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: When you look at the number of homes mowed down and destroyed and damaged, this is going to be a huge catastrophe. The people need to come to grips with is going to take years for us to be able to overcome this challenge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:46] WHITFIELD: All right. It has been just over a week since hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas gulf coast. Millions of dollars in donations have poured in since last weekend. The NFL Houston Texans alone raising more than $18 million.

Earlier I spoke to attorney Kenneth Feinberg who specializes in compensation fund that worked with Katrina victims. Here's what he says the donated money could be used for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNETH FEINBERG, WORKED TO GET COMPENSATION FOR KATRINA VICTIMS: That money that was donated privately, they have got to sit down and decide what exactly do they want to do with that money. For example, that money may help those that lost loved ones, those who are physically injured. Some of that money may go to help alleviate financial burden of the families who survive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: There is a great need there and so many parts of south Texas.

I want to bring in our reporters right there on the ground, CNN Stephanie Elam is in Houston. CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez is in Beaumont.

So Stephanie, let me go to you first. Lots of mounds of trash, people taking that stuff out of their homes. But that doesn't mean that their problems are over.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. There is so much work here. In fact, you know, while you look here, looks like a lot of drywall in front of me. A lot of it is people's best possessions, right. Some of their most favorite things. Things they cared about when the water surprised them, from what I understand talking to people that live here. And three feet of water entered their homes, they left in a hurry. And now you can see what has happened.

A lot of these people were able make it back in here about Wednesday. And since then, you see the work that has been going on. Just emptying out their homes, pulling out the drywall, trying to get their house to dry. Some of the people I talk to, they are like we have nowhere else to go. This is where we are going to be.

One family just remodeled their kitchen in June. Just finish doing it, doing this work themselves. And now you look at what we have out here. And one of the issues that they are dealing with is how long is it going to take for them to get in touch with FEMA, for FEMA to come look out and take a look at their homes for them to begin the work of rebuilding the homes and putting up new drywall. And all of that that it takes.

This is just the beginning step of it. And for some of the people out here, their families all live in this community. So all of their homes are effected. And they are having to do some work in their homes. And they go help grandma. And they go help the parents and all of that. Still when you look at this, this all has to be removed. They said they have seen some of it removed by dump trucks. But if you look up and down the street where I am, this is the picture, this is exactly what it looks like, Fred.

[16:20:14] WHITFIELD: Wow. It is a big job. And we are really just at the beginning stages, really infantile stages.

All right. Miguel, let's check with you. You are there in Beaumont. Water services are in the process of being restored in some parts. You have been driving around the city. People are out and they are already trying to rebuild as well?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are trying to put their lives back together, but it's going to be a long time. This is the Naches River.

Listen to this. Rapids, this beginning to drain away. This is the point now. Twenty-four hours ago, actually, we just heard an explosion in the distance. And I believe that was the I-10. There was a bridge that engineers were trying to get rid of. And I think they were demoing that bridge right now.

But look at this area here. This is an industrial area in Beaumont. You can get a sense of just how much water there is in the Naches. Twenty-four hours ago, this river crested just here. And now it is all the way down there, but it has a long way to go. The areas around Beaumont are even harder hit. That water is just sitting. You can't get to places like Pine Wood Estate or (INAUDIBLE) or Saddle Lakes around Beaumont.

People are coming together. It is Sunday. They are going to church. They are getting together. They are helping out each other in the city. We saw a couple of local restaurants that completely shut their doors for several days and served thousands and thousands of meals and delivered them to evacuees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: When people get a hot meal that is well made, what is the reaction?

JOHN WILSON, LOCAL RESTAURANT OWNER: I mean joy. I mean, just fuel. I mean, it is just need. I mean, it is a sign of relief.

MONICA COBB, LOCAL RESTAURANT OWNER: When I saw what was happening, I even tried to evacuate. I tried to get out. And it was like God plucked me up, said go back to your community and start organizing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, as for the water in Beaumont, it is sort of sputtering back to life, like the city itself, literally sputtering out of faucets here. They are able to get some water back for the city, but they believe it will be at least before the Naches River goes down more before they get to the pumps, get them fixed and restore full water to the city - Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. So much to do.

All right. Thank you so much, Miguel Marquez and Stephanie Elam. Appreciate it.

And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:27:19] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

CNN is getting an exclusive look at President Obama's advice to incoming President Trump on the eve of his inauguration. In fact, this is never before seen photographs of the outgoing commander in- chief, flipping a handwritten letter for Donald Trump in the oval office desk there.

In part, the note reading first, we both have been blessed in different ways with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It's 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 to 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 wealth and safety depend. Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office, makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and several liberties that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it is up to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

All right. Let's discuss this with Julian Zelizer who is a CNN political analyst and a historian and professor at Princeton University.

Good to see you again. All right, let me get your thoughts on the tone and substance of this letter.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a very pointed letter as these letters go. Usually the letters we've seen say that you'll be criticized very often and stick to your principles, but in this letter President Obama is telling the new President a set of principles that he needs to adhere to, to still care basically for people who don't have the same good fortune as Donald Trump did, now President Trump. He also is saying to respect international alliances, which is a key part of Trump's campaign. And I think the most important warning, remember, this is a democratic institution. And at some point you will no longer hold this office and you have to remember that.

WHITFIELD: And then talk about the timeliness of this letter as Trump is dealing with not only a growing crisis in North Korea but unfolding national disaster with Harvey, and difficult decision what to do with undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.

So does it appear in your view that President Trump is using that letter in any way as a guide post as he embarks on these very big decisions?

ZELIZER: Yes. I think his critics will probably say that President Obama really saw what was coming, but President Trump didn't listen. Many of the warnings I think have not been followed. Obviously international connections have been strained under this president. And right now we're going to see how much he relies on those to combat the threat in North Korea. And certainly his critics will say that he has stretched presidential powers in ways that contradict the basic warning that President Obama was trying to make, and that's at the heart of the investigations that are now going on.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: And then don't you recall that when President Trump, you know, read Obama's letter, he had this reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. We will keep that and we won't even tell the press what's in that letter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And so now we've learned though. But then just 41 days after saying that, calling it a beautiful letter, President Trump sent out this tweet storm of baseless accusations in part against, you know, President Trump tweeting on March 4th specifically now -- Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism. And tweeting, how low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon Watergate. Bad or sick guy.

So, the U.S. Justice Department now has just revealed that it found zero evidence that former President Obama ever wire tapped Trump Tower as President Trump claimed, tweets and other ways. And in a filing release just last night, the DOJ writing this, I'm quoting now, both FBI and NSD confirmed that they have no records related to wire taps as described by the March 4th, 2017 tweets. So, Julian, will or should President Trump face any repercussions for making those false accusations?

ZELITZER: Well, I don't think that he will, but there should be some political repercussions. That was really a bold accusation to make about the former president. It was never based on credible evidence. People have been saying this from the start. And this gets to the heart in some ways of the warnings that former President Obama was trying to make, to be careful, to have caution, to show restraint about the office.

And the relationship between President Trump and former President Obama has been really strained and I think President Trump could probably learn a lot from the last person who held this job and that would be a good exercise. This moment with the letter, with the Justice Department report, to try to take a different approach to listening to the wisdom and counsel of a former president.

WHITFIELD: All right, Julian Zelitzer, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much.

ZELITZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still so much more ahead. But first, meet this week's CNN hero, Sergeant Andy Manzi suffered from PTSD and now actually helps others rebound after war through surfing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MANZI, CNN HERO: When I got home, I really didn't have any urge to be around any veteran. I pushed myself so far away from it, and then I started surfing and teaching how to surf.

We're going to arch our back. You want to try to be center on the board.

I started meeting veterans in the water. Out there it's different because we're also focusing on the present and the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So to learn more about this CNN Hero or perhaps nominate someone by visiting our website, CNNheroes.com.

[04:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump is expected to make a decision on DACA on Tuesday. That's the program that offers for protections for so-called dreamers, those undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. Well, leaders in the GOP are stepping up and voicing support for DACA. Today, Republican Senator Jeff Flake told CNN he hopes the president will decide to protect dreamers and not punish them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Obviously, you hope that presidents keep some of their campaign promises and you hope that they ignore others. This is one that he ought to ignore. There are 800,000 DACA kids, kids who were brought across the border. The median age I think is six years old for those 800,000 when they came across the border. They should not be punished for the sins of their parents. That's just the basic principle that we ought to follow here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me now to discuss this is Hector Balderas. He is the attorney general for the state of New Mexico. Good to see you Hector. So, do you believe the president should continue the DACA program?

HECTOR BALDERAS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW MEXICO: Thank you for having me. I absolutely agree with the president when he says that these are incredible kids and I'm hopeful that the president will do the American thing and really protect these dreamers. I believe they're vital to our community, our national security and the strength of our economy.

WHITFIELD: And what happens if the president ends this protection, what would the legal avenues for the young people be?

BALDERAS: Well, we have a rich history in this country where we not only pursue rule of law but we pursue justice. And I believe there are many attorneys general across this country that will defend these dreamers and I'm hopeful that this doesn't turn into protracted legal fight. I want the president to do the right thing, protect these individuals.

They came here as young people. They are Americans in culture. They are allegiant to this country. And I'm hopeful

[04:40:01] but yet very concerned that we do everything we can to protect dreamers.

WHITFIELD: And what will the impacts, you know, be in states like New Mexico if indeed the president ends DACA?

BALDERAS: Well, it would be catastrophic. First, these dreamers came here as young children. They are law abiding. They have done background checks and they comply with Homeland Security and they also participate and cooperate with local law enforcement. So this would be a public safety catastrophe.

But more importantly, these dreamers are now teachers. They are in the military. They are law enforcement. They are even first responders who are today helping out other Americans in the Houston flooding, and so it would be a catastrophic setback for public safety, national security, and I believe it would be a black eye for this country.

WHITFIELD: And in fact you mention flooding, Harvey and Harris County alone, it's the inner county of Houston. There is something like 65,000, you know, DACA young people. With that in mind, do you believe the president's sensitivities about DACA may have been in any way influenced by what has happened, the devastation in south Texas and whether in any way that it might influence his decision making on Tuesday?

BALDERAS: Well, I believe in this country. I remain optimistic that the president hopefully will lead not only with his head but with his heart as he has stated. He has said these were incredible kids but truth of the matter is now, these dreamers are great Americans and they just simply lack the opportunity to citizenship.

They are doing everything they can to comply and it would be catastrophic to send them back to countries that they no longer associate with or probably don't even know as they have grown up here in this country.

WHITFIELD: New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

BALDERAS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, up next, are you on drugs? That's what White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb reportedly asked a journalist when digging for details on Jim Comey's firing. We'll talk to that reporter about the testy exchange after the break.

[04:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A draft of President Trump's letter detailing his reasons for firing FBI director James Comey is now in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and in one reporter's pursuit to learn more about the draft letter and the investigation, a lengthy e-mail exchange came between that reporter and White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb, and the political reporter from "Business Insider."

There is Ty Cobb right there. So apparently through this e-mail exchange, Ty Cobb then asked the journalist are you on drugs and then criticized the press of being, quote, rabid about this entire story. That reporter, Natasha Bertrand, and she is joining me now. All right, so Natasha, walk us through exactly what happened.

You had already established, you know, Ty Cobb as a source and you were having a conversation about just trying to flush out this draft letter and the investigation, and then what happened?

NATASHA BERTRAND, SENIOR REPORTER, BUSINESS INSIDER: Right, so essentially what happened is I wrote an article about how Don McGahn's role in all of this essentially recommending that Trump not send this letter directly to FBI Director James Comey. It would potentially hurt Donald Trump if it came to the point where McGahn would be required to come before a federal grand jury and testify, the reason why he decided to block Trump from sending that letter.

McGahn then -- the lawyer then wrote me, Ty Cobb then wrote me an e- mail and said that, you know, he made some very interesting points. He said that there was little or no push back to this letter and that Trump actually wrote the letter right after listening to James Comey's testimony on May 3rd.

Now, that raised some interesting questions as well because that would then indicate that he was -- he wrote the letter and made the decision to terminate James Comey's, you know, tenure at the FBI before Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions wrote their own memo explaining why they thought that James Comey was unfit to lead. I asked him, you know, if that letter was not problematic? Why didn't

the White House decide to send it to James Comey directly? Why did they instead send it to the DOJ? And his response was, are you on drugs? Have you read anything else about this? He would not then explain what he thought was inaccurate about my reporting and he would not answer my questions any further.

WHITFIELD: So at first he had a rather, you know, matter of fact, in rather eloquent statement to you about the whole issue, and that it had been revealed, but then the conversation became a bit more combative or perhaps it appears as though he was a little bit irritated, calling the press rabid and then saying to you, you know, where you on drugs.

So, this came in the form of an e-mail, but then you took it further and it became part of your reporting and you even tweeted it out. What compelled you to do that?

BERTRAND: Well, the interesting thing about Ty Cobb is that he was hired by the president earlier on in the summer

[04:50:00] to kind of serve as, you know, for lack of a better word, the adult in the room. Ty Cobb is known as a very buttoned up, very professional lawyer who has a very good reputation in Washington, D.C. So when he came on, you know, the fact that he was so professional and that he, you know, really wasn't going to let his mouth run, you know, as Marc Kasowitz did in an e-mail that got him in a lot of trouble earlier on in the summer -- that was supposed to differentiate Ty Cobb from the rest.

So the fact that he sent me those e-mail asking me if I'm on drugs, just being overall kind of just testy about the entire thing really surprised me and I thought that it would surprise others to learn that, you know, these people that are surrounding Trump and giving him legal advice are reacting this way to journalists' very basic questions.

WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Bertrand, thanks so much for your availability today.

All right, we'll be right back.

[04:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Thousands have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. And while dramatic rescues unfold on television, the farmland was conducting its own rescues. Texas leads the U.S. in cattle production and as farmers begin to assess damage, they fear that Harvey's impact will take a toll on their livelihoods. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Water hasn't stopped bubbling through the soggy road that leads to the V8 Ranch. It's home to Brandon Cutrer and his family. BRANDON CUTRER, TEXAS CATTLEMAN, V8 RANCH: This spot where we're

sitting on right now is directly in the middle of the Brazos Rivers and the Colorado River, and so flooding from both those has affected our ranch.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Six thousand-acre property, sits about an hour's drive west of Houston.

CUTRER: Our venture (ph) to say is close to three quarters of it. Total -- we're under water.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Like so many southeast Texas ranches, V8 took a heavy hit from Harvey.

CUTRER: It hit hard and it hit fast.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Last week, the water rose quickly, trapping some of the ranch's prized Brahman cattle that led to this rescue effort. It was captured on cell phone video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUTRER: Just pray for us until we get these cattle out of here. They're doing pretty good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: While officials had their hands busy in the city saving people, you guys had rescues of your own to do.

CUTRER: That's right.

SANDOVAL: And those were?

CUTRER: Just trying to save our livelihood, not only ours but our neighbors'.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Seven generations of ranch to V8 says this cattleman, none of them have ever faced a flood of this magnitude.

CUTRER: What we were expecting as when we put the boats in the water to start to look for things that we wouldn't find them. And if we did find them, they'd be turned over upside down, hung up in a fence dead.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Neighbors usually separated by acres of rolling ranch land came together following Harvey, in many cases hoping to lead each other's herds to higher ground.

CUTRER: Altogether, V8 Ranch has well over 2,000 head.

SANDOVAL: How many did you lose?

CUTRER: That we know of, one. There area some people that lost their entire herd.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): From the air, we saw many ranches in a similar situation. Water either continues to flood properties or left them uninhabitable for cattle.

SANDOVAL (on-camera): Even after the flood waters begin to recede, many of these pastures won't be able to be used for grazing. You see all of this floodwater left behind some pretty nasty sediment.

CUTRER: You know, the grass has kind of got a brown tint to it, and that was from all the mud and the silt that was in the floodwater and it's kind of coated on there and the cows don't really like to eat it too much.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Light rain may actually help by rinsing off the once sprawling dark green pastures. Until that happens, the region's ranchers are counting on winter hay reserves and on each other.

CUTRER: I'm glad you made it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You all take care, buddy.

CUTRER: You too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Harvey's havoc may have been overwhelming. It is no match against this Texas rancher's will to survive.

CUTRER: Quitting is not an option. You've got to feed your family so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for that point of view from the ranchers there in Texas.

All right, tomorrow night, CNN is airing a documentary on President Ronald Reagan and it's called "The Reagan Show." here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, this is Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. Got no history books over there? I don't think so. I am pleased to speak to you on the occasion of --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK?

REAGAN: Good evening. This is Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. I'm pleased to speak to you on the occasion of a New Year. On behalf of the American people, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Let's work together to make it a year of peace. There is no better goal for 1986 or for any year. Let us look forward to a future of chistoe nebo for all mankind. Thank you, spasibo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say it better than I do but it sounds like you had a T in it, instead you netbo (ph).

REAGAN: Chistoe nebo. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The lighter side, behind the scenes of what it is to be Ronald Reagan. "The Reagan Show" tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. eastern time right here on CNN.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. The next hour of the "CNN Newsroom" Ana Cabrera starts right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Top of the hour, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the the "CNN Newsroom." Thank you so much for joining me. We begin this hour with North Korea's most powerful nuclear test ever and a fresh, direct warning from the U.S. to the Kim Jong-un regime.

North Korea claims it detonated an advanced hydrogen bomb that is missile ready.