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Earthquake Hits Mexico City; Puerto Rico Braces for Hurricane Maria; President Trump Addresses United Nations; Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana Shares His Thoughts on the Iranian Deal to Halt Nuclear Weapons; Michael Cohen Speaks Before the Senate Intelligence Committee; Interview with Rep. Andre Carson; Trump Threatens North Korea, Calls Iran Nuclear Deal an Embarrassment. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Major earthquake, a deadly magnitude, 7.1 quake rocks central Mexico and shakes Mexico City, bringing down buildings and buckling highways. The government mobilizes for an emergency on this, the anniversary of a quake that killed thousands.

Disaster scenario: after laying waste to the Caribbean island of Dominica, Hurricane Maria is barreling towards Puerto Rico right now where the governor calls the Category 5 catastrophic. The latest forecast is just in.

Direct, Trump stuns the United Nations with a tough speech warning they would totally destroy North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. He hints to sink the Iran nuclear deal which he calls an embarrassment. And turned away -- President Trump's lawyer was to meet behind closed doors with Senate Intelligence committee today but was turned away after first going to the news media. Now committee leaders want to grill him in public.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. Powerful and deadly earthquake rocks central Mexico, leveling buildings and buckling roads. The epicenter was about 75 miles from Mexico City where significant damage is reported. The Mexican government is now implementing an emergency plan.

The new forecast for Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that brutalized the Caribbean Island of Dominica with 160 mile per hour wind gust leaving much of it in ruin, and now threatening to do it to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's governor is calling Maria catastrophic.

And to a stunning address to the United Nations, President Trump issues doomsday warning to Kim Jung Un saying the United States would quote, "Totally destroy North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies." The president also labeling Iran's government a murderous regime. He calls the multinational nuclear deal an embarrassment to the United States, suggesting he'll work to torpedo it.

And investigators are now stepping up the pressure involving the Russian probes the day after CNN broke the story that the US government wiretapped former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen may be in hot water with the Senate Intelligence Committee. They scrapped his closed door meeting with the panel after he first went public with the news media. They now plan to bring Cohen in for a public hearing.

House Speaker Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of the House Intelligence Committee and our correspondents, specialists, and guests, yes, they are all standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd and that devastating earthquake in Mexico. We're seeing reports of death, Brian, and widespread damage.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are, Wolf. According to a preliminary report from the governor of the Mexican state of Morelos, at least 42 people have died just in that state from this devastating earthquake. Now the death toll is likely to rise as we get reports of people trapped in burning buildings. Tonight Mexican officials are just now beginning to assess the widespread damage.

In the streets of Mexico tonight, panic and pandemonium. The major earthquake, a 7.1, shook central Mexico shortly after 2:10 Eastern time hitting in a heavily populated area just southeast of Mexico City. As buildings swayed, thousands of people fled office buildings and homes only to see glass shatter and roads split open. This scene from the Mexican television shows firefighters digging through rubble what appears to be a collapsed building.

Tonight Mexico City schools are closed and the government is assessing the damage. Today's quake ironically comes on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed much of the capital. People in the city had spent part of the day holding drills. This earthquake also comes just two weeks after a magnitude 8.1 trembler shook Mexico. The president's office told our Leyla Santiago that the president had been visiting those devastated by that disaster when this one struck today. Wolf, they are just now getting their arms around what happened there.

BLITZER: What a horrible, horrible situation. All right, Brian, thanks very much. I want to bring in our meteorologist, Tom Sater. He's monitoring the earthquake. First of all, what are you seeing as far as the earthquake is concerned, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEROLOGIST: Well we'll probably, Wolf, start to see some aftershocks occurring. When you look at the quake and the magnitude of this, you usually have one that's 8.0 or higher. That was the one 11 days ago on the southern coast. Between a 7 and a 7.9 there are 15, and we have seen quite a few of these, but this one is still considered shallow. Now they occur all the time and we see them many times several hundred miles even deep into the ground.

[17:05:00] But this one is 32 miles depth, 7.1. We'll take you there and show

you a little bit more. But it comes to the USGS. This is important. They put out a shake map and they look at the population in the area. The computer model's handle this beautifully. About 21 million feeling light shaking, 20 million feeling moderate, and this is when it kicks in here. At strong, you've got over 8 million and they're almost 1.5 at very strong.

So that's what we're looking at and I'll even give you a little closer look and you can get an idea of the shake map because we'll put this into Google Earth for you. What you see in yellow, these are the aftershocks from that 8.1 just 11 days ago. And they will start to spread out but now we're going to look for those aftershocks to start occurring in this region. But we get in closer and you'll get an idea. Mexico City was on the fringe of feeling the shaking.

And even when you take a look at this, and you'll see some of the lighter colors, you can get in closer just to see kind of the hue of greens and yellows. We have reports of even some structural integrity being compromised. Some facades, of course, showing some damage but Mexico City was quite some distance from this but as a 7.1 you get an idea of what we're dealing with.

Now as far as the aftershocks, how many can we expect? First, the fatalities. You always want to see green when you talk about the USGS and green is up to one fatality. We have a good 39 percent chance, Wolf, between 100 and 1,000 fatalities but still a 30 percent chance from 1,000 to maybe 10,000. That's a little lower chance, but it still gives you an idea of the magnitude. Now the aftershocks.

When you have a 7.1, historically speaking, you have one that's over a 6.1, you can have as many as 10 that are above 5, and even 100 that are over a 4. -- 04.1. So again, any structure that's already been compromised, any shaking anywhere and those aftershocks can be anywhere, Wolf, will create some more problems. No doubt about that.

BLITZER: Tom, I want you to stand by. We're going to come back to you in a moment but joining us now on the phone is Manny Samaniego who's in Mexico City, experienced the earthquake. Manny, tell us where you were, what happened, what you felt.

MANNY SAMANIEGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. I was in the ESPN Mexico building at 1:09:40, the building had scheduled a mandatory evacuation drill and it happened we were going down the stairs and the building started to shake. And people started to run, people started to cry, yell, scream. The building security was -- were taking care of everybody. We walked to a safe area and stood outside for about an hour until the building was clear.

We were allowed to go back in, collect our belongings, and we were told not to report to the office until tomorrow. I'm standing outside of the Los Angeles hospital, it's in the federal (ph) area of the city. There is traffic here. It's a strange feeling right now. As you may know, Mexico City has one of the worst traffic in the world and right now all I can see is cars bumper to bumper on each side. There's people on the sidewalks, people trying to talk on the phone and reach family members to let them know they're OK.

We haven't felt any aftershocks thus far, but they can happen at any moment. So the city is -- I know the airport's closed. But the city right now, at least where I am, is at a standstill.

BLITZER: Manny, have you heard of any people missing or injured where you are in Mexico City?

SAMANIEGO: No because you don't see a lot of structural damage here, at least where I am right now. Via Twitter and Facebook and just seeing reports from some of my coworkers here who are from here, the epicenter was in Puebla which is about an hour and a half from Mexico City. And last I heard, it was five people dead there but I can't confirm that.

At least here in Mexico, again where I'm standing, there seems like its 5 o'clock traffic but, again, it's all related to what happened earlier today.

BLITZER: You know it's interesting, Manny, this comes what just two weeks after there was another major earthquake, one of the strongest ones, an 8.1 magnitude in Mexico, killed dozens of people. It's also the anniversary of the deadly 1985 earthquake. So how are people in Mexico City, where you are, feeling about all of this?

SAMANIEGO: Well, I think everybody here is scared. I mean you can see people are worried. The thing is -- they're prepared from what I've been told.


The buildings -- all the buildings were constructed up to code and again, the ones that I have seen, they don't seem to have any damage at first sight. But the architects will have to go in and check each building, I guess. But you can tell people are walking, some are on the phone. That's the thing. Everyone is on the phone trying to reach people, trying to reach family. The phone service seems to be working OK. There is signal, spotty at times, but you are able to connect.

The internet comes and goes but in a city of 24 million people, this happens and everybody is trying to do the same thing, just communicate to their family members that they're OK.

BLITZER: Which is totally understandable. Good luck, Manny. Good luck to you, your family, everybody else in Mexico. We'll stay atop of this latest earthquake, another horrendous earthquake in Mexico. We're also following another major disaster, Hurricane Maria. It's now a Category 5 storm taking direct aim at the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Let's go back to our meteorologist Tom Sater. What is the latest forecast, that has just come out, say Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEROLOGIST: Right. Well, unfortunately it continues to be quite strong. In fact, it's even grown in strength in the last couple of hours. Sustained winds 165 and now the National Hurricane Center does believe it will make landfall in Puerto Rico, most likely just before that with these winds at 165, that would make this the strongest hurricane in history to make landfall. The last time they had a Category 4, 1932. In 1928 they had a Category 5, the sustained winds were at 160.

So the symmetry is what concerns me, Wolf. The bright purple, it's got a well-defined core now. The only thing that could help us out to lose any strength whatsoever, is if this system would undergo an eyewall replacement cycle. We talked about that all the time with Irma and Harvey, and if it would do that, then maybe it could drop a good 15 miles per hour. But that's just 15 miles per hour, we'll take it. Devastated Dominica as it moved through, it was a tighter eye.

Sometimes those tighter eyes are more ferocious and they're just wind makers. This system carries it very close to St. Croix, could put them in that eyewall, in that front right quadrant where you do not want to be. But it looks like conditions not only deteriorate in St. Croix but we're looking at a landfall around 8 or 9 in the morning, tomorrow morning. By late tomorrow, the tropical storm force winds will have exited Puerto Rico and we do have more warnings now.

In fact, the northern coast of Dominican Republic now under a warning. Moments ago, we have watches now in effect for the Turks and Caicos in the southeast Bahamas Islands, so we do expect this storm system to progress in this direction, staying away from the US coastline for now. But the warnings are in effect, and again, after making landfall in Dominica, we had problems. There are some power outages in Guadalupe, Montserrat as well, but our big concern tonight is going to be St. Croix and then conditions deteriorating.

Take a look at the storm surge. It's higher for the lesser Antilles Islands, for the US and British Virgin Islands, getting up to 7 to even 11 feet while they're only looking at 6 to 9. I only say 6 to 9 feet in Puerto Rico. Some of that has to do with the gradual sloping of the ocean floor. When you have a slow slope, it creates larger winds and of course, waves that are pushed by those winds. The amount of rainfall could be staggering in this high terrain as well.

We could easily see up to 18 inches in some areas. Many live along the coastline. They don't want to go to the mountain areas where the winds are stronger and the rain will be heavier, so this is definitely going to pack a punch and we're watching it every hour by hour.

BLITZER: We'll keep checking back with you for all the latest information. Tom Sater, our meteorologist. Just ahead, President Trump's truly stunning warning over at the United Nations.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.




BLITZER: The following breaking news, a deadly earthquake rocking central Mexico, including Mexico City. And a major hurricane Category 5 Maria, bearing down on Puerto Rico. But right now President Trump is also in the spotlight with a truly stunning address at the United Nations, including a chilling threat to North Korea and its young dictator who he once again called "Rocket Man."

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's outside Trump Tower in New York City. Jim, the president certainly did not mince any words.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and a senior administration official tells CNN that that line about "Rocket Man" and Kim Jong Un was added to the president's speech this morning. But that was hardly the only provocative moment as the president threatened to go to war with North Korea with a speech that made the UNGA say, "OMG."


REPORTER: In a Tweet storm of a speech to the United Nations, President Trump jumped from one jaw-dropping warning to the next putting rouge nation leaders like North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, on notice.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. "Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

REPORTER: The president punctuated that threat with a tweet repeating his willingness to totally destroy North Korea, if necessary.


That wasn't the only eye-popping moment in the speech. The president again hinted he's on the verge of withdrawing from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal crafted with other world powers.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one- sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don't think you've heard the last of it, believe me.

REPORTER: That was a cause of concern for French president Emmanuel Macron.

TRANSLATOR FOR PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: If we simply throw out this agreement, there's nothing to replace it. And if you have nothing, then it's the same situation as North Korea and I don't want to find myself in a no-man's land.

REPORTER: The address to the UN sounded much like a campaign speech, minus the applause from his conservative base, as the president talked of making America first and taking out terrorists. PRESIDENT TRUMP: The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

REPORTER: Contrast that with the message the president said he planned to give as he arrived at the UN.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The message is really a message of peace, it's a message of coming together.

REPORTER: Mr. Trump's talk of brinksmanship was also a big departure from the promises he made before he was sworn into office of non- intervention around the world.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks. Our goal is stability, not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country.

REPORTER: As he delivered his dark message, the president tried to win over a world body he has ridiculed as ineffective.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some in fact, are going to hell. But the powerful people in this room under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems. I just want to toast everybody in the room.

REPORTER: Later in the day, the president gave a toast to UN leaders where he defended some of his past rhetoric.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: For years I've been a critic but I've also been somebody whose said that the United Nations has tremendous potential.


ACOSTA: Now despite some talk about cooperation at the United Nations, President Trump made it clear he is ready to go it alone on a variety of fronts including Iran. A senior administration official tells CNN to expect to see a new Iran policy from the Trump administration next month, strongly suggesting Wolf, that the president is ready to toss aside the Iran nuclear deal. Wolf?

BLITZER: It certainly will be a powerful and dramatic moment, if it happens. And Jim Acosta in New York City for us, thank you very much. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana, he's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, I want to begin and get your reaction to President Trump's comments today on North Korea saying the United States would have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. Did he strike the right tone?

CONGRESSMAN ANDRE CARSON: Well, I think on one end, Wolf, he acknowledged the importance of the UN and its contributions to peace and the global community. I think on another end, he talked very clearly about acknowledging our allies, particularly our European allies -- the same allies who felt ostracized by his criticisms of NATO. In another regard, he talked about countries like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon who have taken in refugees.

But at home, his agenda stops us from taking in refugees. He praised the state department which is interesting because his proposal, his budget, makes the deepest cuts in state department history. So it was hypocritical on one end, but on the other end, it's much better than his campaign rhetoric.

BLITZER: But what did you think of his words when he said if necessary, the US will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea and he also referred to Kim Jong Un once again as "Rocket Man"?

CARSON: Well, President Trump is -- is being who he is. He's provocative, he's entertaining, and some people would say he's resolute. I think that his language would be offensive to others because it may not set the right tone in terms of establishing diplomatic relationships. I do, however, believe to President Trump's credit that you have to be firm, particularly with our enemies. Particularly those who have threatened to do us harm.

You have to be very firm. I don't think it's a -- it's a chance to dance around the issues. I think we have to be firm with our open enemy.



BLITZER: When he speaks about totally destroying North Korea, does that make it sound like he's ruling out what some military planners have described as a limited military strike option?

CARSON: I can't say that at this point. But what I will say is that Trump understands symbols. He understands language in a very unique way. And I think because of that, he's a very emotive person and he speaks in absolutes. And it has gotten him this far. I think on the global stage, though, he will find some pushback. I think if we continue to isolate our global partners, it makes it that much more problematic in our attempts to isolate and neutralize North Korea. If he continues to criticize NATO in an unfair way, it further isolates those who are there historically who have helped us particularly our Five Eye Partners.

BLITZER: The President also focused the significant portion of his speech on Iran. He said the nuclear deal hashed out during the Obama Administration with Iran and other world powers was an embarrassment to the United States. He hinted that the U.S. might now withdraw from that agreement. Do you believe that would be a huge mistake?

CARSON: A tremendous mistake. I supported the Iranian deal. I think that the Obama Administration did a phenomenal job in terms of bringing Iran to the negotiating table thus halting the nuclear program in a very meaningful way. I think getting rid of this deal brings us closer to war, Wolf, unfortunately.

BLITZER: He said this is one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. He said the deal is an embarrassment to the United States and then he added the words, "I don't think you've heard the last of it, believe me." Which seems to suggest he's going to thave the U.S. walk away from the deal. Do you think he could negotiate potentially a better deal if the U.S. were to withdraw from the agreement? Do you think there's any chance of that happening?

CARSON: We would have to see. But I hope we don't close the doors on this deal right now as we speak.

BLITZER: Because you think the deal is working?

CARSON: I think the deal is working. I think the deal is worth it. I think walking away from this deal would be a huge mistake. If he has a better deal, I'd love to see your proposal but I'm not hopeful at this point.

BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stay, stay with us. There's more we need to discuss. Also coming up President Trump's lawyer, his personal lawyer blows his chance to meet behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee which now wants to grill him public. We're going to find out why. Stay with us. You're in the Situation Room.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We are tracking breaking news. A deadly earthquake rocks central Mexico, bringing down buildings in Mexico City 75 miles from the epicenter. Millions of people right now are without power. At a Category 5, our hurricane Maria with winds now up to 165-mile-per-hour takes direct aim at U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, and there are other major stories we're following tonight as well.

As the Russia probes heat up, we're talking with House Intelligence Committee member Andre Carson. Congressman, we're going to get back to you in a moment. But first, Trump personal lawyer, Michael Cohen just got off on the wrong foot with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, is up on Capitol Hill. It was pretty dramatic moment, I must say. Manu, tell our viewers what happened.

MANU: An abrupt moment, too, Wolf. Michael Cohen is one of the heavily anticipated witnesses to come before the Senate Intelligence Committee. This, because of his close relationship with president Trump and the recently revealed issue of him pushing for a Trump Tower Moscow project, during the campaign season. Now, Michael Cohen released a public statement about his testimony. His opening statement, what he was actually going to give to Senate investigators, and in that statement he denied doing anything wrong, said he was not involved in any collusion with Russia, and said that Trump Tower Moscow project died in January of 2016 and was just, quote, a real estate project.

But there's a problem with that statement Wolf. According to the committee, he was not supposed to do that. They urged him not to make any public comments or statements before his testimony. And when he did that, in the moments after him releasing that, the committee staff abruptly canceled this planned interview. Now in a statement, the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that they believe that he preempted today's interview by releasing the statement despite their warnings. And, Wolf, today the Senate Intelligence Committee is setting a public hearing in response, on October 25. So no longer will he be behind closed doors. He has to appear in public.

Now I had a chance to talk to Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman, Mark Warner, about exactly that Trump tower project and how critical it is to that investigation. He says he wants to question Michael Cohen about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How important is the understanding this Trump Tower Moscow project for your investigation?


SENATOR MARK WARNER, (D) VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well I think it's very important. It's again, one of these-it seems like every week there is a new story that pops up. And our responsibility is to get all the facts.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, Wolf, the reason why the committee is really taking this hard line, because they did not like the way that Jarred Kushner, the President's Son-In-Law, when he came before the Senate Intelligence Committee staff the way he put out the public statement to try to shape the news coverage about exactly what happened given that this is all happening behind closed doors, in a classified setting, it was impossible to get a full picture about exactly what happened. So they set a firm line saying no public statements by their witnesses. And just by the fact of Michael Cohen doing this, the Committee's saying OK, now everything will be in the open something that presumably Michael Cohen will not exactly prefer. No word back yet from Michael Cohen if he will indeed come forward in that public testimony. But, Wolf, if he doesn't, subpoenas could be on the table.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm hearing he's ready to come back testify in public. His argument in that statement that he released is he did nothing wrong, he's more than happy to cooperate. All right, Manu, thank you very much. We are back with a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. Was it a mistake to postpone Cohen's interview with staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee. They could have spent four or five hours getting a lot of information from him, presumably it would have been useful information as far as the overall investigation is concerned. Do you understand why they decided to cancel the whole thing?

CONGRESSMAN ANDRE CARSON (D) FROM INDIANA: I won't speak to what they do on the Senate side. But I will say his actions were clearly an attempt to influence public opinion. And this is not surprising.

BLITZER: Well, what's wrong with trying to influence public opinion? He's a private citizen. He argues he did nothing wrong. He's been smeared by a lot of reports out there. If he wants to come out and say, look, I'm fully able, I'm fully anxious to cooperate with the committee, I'll answer all of your questions under oath, whatever you want. But I'm trying to defend myself. What's wrong with an American citizen trying to do that?

CARSON: There is nothing wrong with it. I mean, even as public figures wrestle with pushing back on news articles or from some entity that claims to be legitimate that's not legitimate, saying negative things about you, attacking your family, I think any person has a right to defend himself especially if they are innocent. But I think also cooperating with the committee will go a long way in terms of helping establish your credibility. And one would only hope that anyone who is participating in these hearings or interviews would do so in good faith.

BLITZER: You just heard the top Democratic of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Warner saying the pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow, that project was very important thread in the investigation. I assume the House Intelligence Committee was interested in that. But here's the question, Congressman, if he had spent a few hours answering questions about that tower today as opposed to a month and a half from now or month from now or whatever, wouldn't the investigation have achieved something?

CARSON: I think in many ways, yes. But I think that's the beauty of having three separate tracks. You have the track with Director Mueller. You have the Senate Intel track. And you have the House Intel track. We work together only to avoid being at cross purposes with one other and avoid scheduling conflicts in terms of witnesses, but we are at different levels and policies in our own separate investigations. And so the purpose of Director Mueller's investigation is to make sure criminal activity has not occurred. What the House Intel Committee is doing and the Senate Intel Committee is doing is to see the extent of Russian interference into our elections.

WOLF: As CNN exclusively reported last night, Congressman, the FBI surveiled Trump Chairman Paul Manafort beginning back in 2014, that surveillance was then discontinued last year, but eventually restarted another FISA warrant was released allowing that surveillance to go forward--The Surveillance Intelligence Act. First of all Congressman, were you aware that Paul Manafort was under surveillance?

CARSON: I can't speak to that. But what I'll say is that if the FBI, to even obtain a FISA warrant, you have to establish probable cause. And the difference between standard warrant and FISA warrant is that the FISA deals with Americans who may be acting as agents for foreign governments or even foreign individuals who may pose a harm to national security. And so there is it a unique distinction there. And the question becomes was Mr. Manafort acting as an agent as foreign entity or country?


BLITZER : The New York Times is reporting that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is already threatening Manafort with an indictment? Were you aware of that development?

CARSON: I can't speak to that.

BLITZER: Is your Committee seeking access to the information gathered through surveillance of Manafort?

CARSON: I think the upcoming weeks, Wolf, we'll see a lot of things. And I'm sure you'll be in the mix. But the House Intel Committee has gotten us this far. The Senate Intel Committee, they are doing a fantastic job as well. And Director Mueller has an excellent track record for getting to the bottom of things so the American people can be reassured that democracy is working well.

BLITZER: Congressman Andrew Carson, thanks so much for joining us.

CARSON: Always a pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you. Coming up, we continue to bring in pictures of the widespread damage after this afternoon's magnitude 7.1 earthquake near Mexico City. Stand by for the latest on that as well as the updated forecast for Hurricane Maria-a category 5 monster storm taking direct aim at Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.


[17:45:59] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll have much more ahead on the devastating Mexican earthquake as well as Hurricane Maria, but we're also following the reaction to President Trump's speech over at the United Nations today.

The President threatened to totally destroy North Korea, also called Iran a rogue nation, and the Iran nuclear deal an embarrassment.

Let's bring in our specialists.

Gloria, the President was very, very tough in talking about North Korea, the nuclear threat. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully, this will not be necessary.


BLITZER: Tough words. What stood out for you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, those words, actually, stood out for me. This was a speech that you can say is full of bombast, which it was. But it was the first time, I think, we really heard laid out completely, clearly, Donald Trump's vision for the world.

He took on North Korea directly. He took on Iran directly. He took on Venezuela. He took on Syria directly.

And he also -- in addition to taking on those bad actors, he made the case that we foot a lot of the bill in the United Nations and that has to change. There are a lot of people in the audience who would be upset about it.

People who will not be upset about it are Donald Trump's base and lots of Republicans. Mitt Romney of all people tweeted today, for example, that he applauded this speech. That it was about time that somebody spoke to the United Nations about other countries paying their fair share.

So while it was bombastic, Wolf, he laid his vision out very clearly. And there was no ambiguity.

BLITZER: Yes, it was a Trump doctrine --


BLITZER: -- that was laid out, David Chalian. And it's the kind of speech we haven't heard in a long time from a U.S. president at the United Nations.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. A lot of times, you'll hear a president go there. And actually, a lot of their more muscular rhetoric is given elsewhere, and there, they talk more about human rights or, you know, how all countries can get along.

But I found it -- I agree with you whole-heartedly, Gloria, that I do think it was geared towards domestic political audience.

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

CHALIAN: It was clearly his target. And it was, for Donald Trump, I thought, the clearest sign yet we have about how he sees America's role in the world. And we have heard so much about this America first strategy.

But what I thought was really interesting that he did in the speech, it wasn't America first, and I'm turning my back on the world. It was, yes, of course, America first, and all of you should be out for your countries first. But join me in, as he set it up, as part of the righteous many versus the wicked few.

It was his call to arms to the nations around the world to go after people that he thinks pose a really serious threat.

BLITZER: Yes. George W. Bush had his access of evil speech back in 2002 that set the stage for the war with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

And in this particular case, as David points, Rebecca, he laid out what some would call his access of evil.

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: That's right. And not using those words but using, perhaps, even more hyperbolic language than George W. Bush used in his time.

One of the big questions here is, Wolf, can the international community that is so used to these diplomatic traditions, the way that international partnerships have progressed and looked in the past, can they adapt to a Donald Trump style? Using this sort of hyperbolic, bombastic language, but toward some of the same aims that presidents have had in the past, corralling these rogue nation states like Iran, like North Korea.

[17:50:13] Those are the same goals that Barack Obama and George W. Bush had. Donald Trump just approaching this in a very unorthodox way because it is Donald Trump.

BLITZER: He was also very blunt, Gloria, when it came to the Iran nuclear deal, which he clearly hates. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me.


BLITZER: All right. So he's clearly hinting he's going to rip it up.

BORGER: Right. Well, October 15th, he's got another deadline coming up, and I don't think we could have had any clearer signal that something's going to change there. And you heard Netanyahu, of course, was very complimentary about Donald Trump's language today.

What was stunning to me -- it's sort of interesting -- Donald Trump is used to these audiences that give him all kinds of applause and cheering, and he gets his energy from the audience. And I think George W. Bush once referred to this audience as like a wax museum because they all kind of sit there.

And yet Donald Trump plowed kind of right ahead here, not needing that applause or that affirmation that, in many cases, he knew he wasn't going to get. But taking it right to the people. I mean, North Korea, as you pointed out earlier, Wolf, this morning, was right in the front -- right in the front row.

BLITZER: The North Korean delegation.

BORGER: The North Korean delegation, right in the front row.

BLITZER: Yes, they --

BORGER: And there he was.

BLITZER: They were sitting right down in front and the President noticed that the North Korean delegation --

BORGER: Yes, he did.

BLITZER: -- was in the front row, but clearly it was -- you know, he's been going after this Iran nuclear deal throughout the campaign, since he became President.

But twice already, he's authorized the Secretary of State, David, Rex Tillerson, to certify to Congress that the Iranians aren't in full compliance with the deal, and they got to do it again by October 15th. And there's some suggesting despite this tough talk today, he may have no choice but to certify that again.

CHALIAN: Well, we'll see. He has certainly learned, as his administration, that tearing it up on day one, as was talked about on the campaign trail, was not actually a realistic proposal.

As you noted, though, his rhetoric today clearly indicating where he wants to go. Whether that is for the October 15th deadline or sometime further down the road, we will find out. You are right. He hasn't been able to rid himself of it yet.

BORGER: But he sure set it up today, Wolf.


BLITZER: He did.

BORGER: Like he has no choice but to do something because he said it on the world stage.

BLITZER: He said this deal is an embarrassment to the United States.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: And he hinted, I don't think you've heard the last of it, believe me. When he says believe me -- that may not have been in his teleprompter, but when he says that, he is trying to underscore his point.

BERG: No. And you saw those little bits of Donald Trump flair, even in a teleprompter speech in a very staid, sober setting of the United Nations General Assembly. The "rocket man" phrase used to refer to Kim Jong-un was another instance of that. As Jim Acosta noted earlier, added at the last second to the speech.

So Donald Trump, even he can't give just a typical presidential speech. He needs to add his little parts.

BORGER: Well, he's never been diplomatic. Let's just put it that way.

BERG: Yes.

BORGER: This was a group of diplomats, and he was practicing what he calls his principled realism. And the language was very realistic.

CHALIAN: It was bombastic, no doubt, but I think he -- politically, yes, I think he probably sounded some words today that a lot of Americans can say --

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

CHALIAN: -- I can rally behind that. I can understand somebody pointing to this is a threat and trying to rally the world to the point of view to take care of it. I think he wasn't so far off the reservation kind of thing --



CHALIAN: -- as we've seen Donald Trump in other circumstances. This was a more, yes, muscular approach, no doubt, but one within the realm of being presidential and playing to that domestic crowd.

BERG: Sure.

BLITZER: Yes. And he keeps expressing optimism. He's going to -- he's working on the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. He could achieve that.

He's got other hopes for ending the dispute between some of the Arab states and Qatar. We could achieve that, he always says.

So far though, no deals yet, but he's got time. Let's see if he does.

BERG: Well, in this situation, I mean, it's all Donald trump. He doesn't have to depend on Congress. He has full license over foreign affairs.

BLITZER: And people will be studying this speech for a long, long time. All right, guys, stand by.

Coming up, breaking news we're following. Very deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocking central Mexico, shaking Mexico City, bringing down buildings, buckling highways. The government there mobilizing for an emergency.

[17:54:55] And Hurricane Maria is carving a path of destruction across the Caribbean with winds now at 165 miles an hour, and it's heading directly for Puerto Rico. We'll have the new forecast.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Powerful earthquake. Buildings cracked, fires erupt as this 7.1 magnitude disaster rocks central Mexico. Stand by for new information on this earthquake emergency.

[18:00:00] Catastrophic storm. Millions of Americans are now in the path of another monster hurricane. We're tracking Maria as it plows through the Caribbean with Category 5 force winds.

Total destruction. President Trump uses his first --