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Queen Approves U.K. PM's Request To Suspend Parliament; Puerto Rico Spared As Powerful Storm Heads Toward U.S.; Impact Of Leaving E.U. Now Weighing Heavily On U.K.; Queen Approves U.K. P.M.'s Request To Suspend Parliament; Trump Lashed Out at Puerto Rico as Hurricane Approached; Top U.S. General Not Saying "Withdraw" on Afghanistan; Evidence North Korea Working on Nuclear Submarine; Brazil Accepts Aid from U.K. but not G-7 Yet. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, the big gamble by Bojo. Boris Johnson risks a constitutional crisis by suspending Parliament and increases the chances of a new deal Brexit and in the process is accused of politicizing the monarchy.

Puerto Rico avoids the worst from Hurricane Dorian but not from Donald Trump. The president calls the U.S. territory one of the most crop places on earth. That was just hours before this latest storm.

And how to save the northern white rhino from extinction when the last two left on earth are both females?

Dear Boris Johnson, it's all just standard procedure, ending the current parliamentary session to begin a new one and outline a bold agenda. Any new prime minister would do the same thing except this new British Prime Minister has suspended Parliament for almost five weeks, the longest period between sessions since 1945. And all of this happening amid the contentious debate over Brexit, the biggest national crisis Britain has faced in decades.

With power now for five weeks, official debate over leaving the E.U. on Halloween and a no-deal Brexit will also be cut short. But the prime minister says hey, no big deal.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October the 17th summit, ample time in Parliament for MPs to debate, the E.U. to debate Brexit and all the other issues, ample time.


VAUSE: Members of parliament from both sides of politics have been left outraged. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn calls it reckless and a threat to democracy. And there is outrage also on the streets. Protests has gathered outside parliament. Some of the demonstrators were waving E.U. flags and more than a million have signed a petition demanding this suspension be reversed. Nic Robertson now on the public act.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What began a few hours ago was just a handful of people chanting about a queue about democracy being broken by Boris Johnson has grown by late afternoon. We've got much bigger gathering, a much more vocal gathering, a much more focus gathering.

People here are telling us that they've come out because they want Boris Johnson, they want the politicians to understand very clearly, they don't like what he's done, they understand what he's doing, and they're utterly opposed to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am worried about a no-deal. If this continue, people like me will be fine, but it's the people who will -- who will lose their jobs, the food will be more expensive. It's madness. And they were not listening to experts. It's -- economists, sensible economist are telling us this isn't a good idea the right-wing of this country has taken control. And there's a whole lot of us in the middle who feel completely disenfranchised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hopeful that there will no possible conflict from the government to bring Boris Johnson to a general election. Hopefully, sense will start to (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're trying to enact a will that doesn't exist. You know, this supposed will of the people they keep telling us about. Well, you know, that was three years ago. And all the polling shows it's actually very unpopular. So all they're trying to do is sneak something over the line when they know people aren't for it.

ROBERTSON: It's by far from the end of all the protests. We're going to see plenty more of them coming up. But this is where the real decisions are going to be made, the cut and thrust of the political debate inside Parliament. But the real question for those that want to stop Boris Johnson as these protesters have today inside Parliament, are they going to have enough time to find the legislation to do it and to debate that legislation and turn it into law, and that's a real question.

Right now, Boris Johnson has the European Union precisely where he wants them, believing that he can deliver a no-deal Brexit and cutting off the opposition in Parliament to do it. Nic Robertson, CNN London.


VAUSE: CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas is with us once again from Berlin. Dom, good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN European Affairs Commentator: Hey, hi John! VAUSE: OK, in the past, when Britain has been facing a national

crisis, the Prime Minister usually has convened Parliament. This time though for an entire month, five weeks before one of most important moments in British history, Parliament will be absent.

His other former treasurer Philip Hammond a conservative described the move. It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at the time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.

So is suspending Parliament profoundly undemocratic or just business as usual as some within the Conservative Party have described it?

[01:05:29] THOMAS: Well, John technically and legally what Boris Johnson is doing is perfectly OK. New sessions of Parliament begin once the previous session has been suspended. But what we've seen over let's just say the last 40 years is this period of prorogation of parliamentary suspension in order to introduce new legislation with the Queen's speech has just taken place over a few days.

And so what's so absolutely disingenuous here about the response from the Conservative Party or from what Boris Johnson has been arguing is that throughout the Conservative Party election campaign this was an issue. The issue of prorogation came up. Different candidates waited on this. They all talked about what a problematic procedure is.

And it's just clearly and unambiguously here in the face of an opposition that is working to coordinate against a no-deal and for Boris Johnson to throw and a spanner in the works here and deny Parliament the opportunity to debate at length this really crucial issue and in British politics.

VAUSE: Here's part of the letter that Johnson wrote to MPs explaining the reason for the suspension arguing that this current legislative session has to come to an end because it's already one of the longest in history 400 days.

He wrote, I, therefore, intend to bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit. There will be a significant Brexit legislative program to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition.

And there is a bridge for sale in London for anyone who actually believes that. I mean, as you were saying, the reality is that th practicality of the matter is that by reducing the number of days that Parliament sits, Johnson limits the options for the anti-Brexit faction to come together and put forward -- put forward I plan to prevent this No Deal Brexit from happening.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, certainly, you, know when it comes to sitting in parliament, of course, it's completely restricted. They don't get back until October, the E.U. Council meets October 21st, and so on. So it's completely limiting the amount of time they can debate in Parliament.

The question really here with this calculation strategies, we saw Theresa May call a snap election in 2017 to try and extend her lead. That backfired. And in this particular case, it's obviously then going to provide the opportunity for an otherwise divided opposition to start thinking about alternative strategies and to coordinate those in the face of what they will see naturally and as an affront to their capacity to be able to do what they were sent to Parliament for which is to debate and legislate and govern the country.

VAUSE: Well, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan put out a call to try and stop the Prime Minister. He tweeted, Boris Johnson will try to shut down Parliament next week in order to deliver a catastrophic No Deal Brexit running roughshod over our democracy in order to ruin the life chances of future generations. It's disgraceful. It must be stopped.

There is this narrow window opportunity for the MPs to move a vote of no-confidence in Johnson and his government, and that could then lead to this general election which actually could, in fact, be the point.

THOMAS: That could be the point. I mean, what he's doing right now is essentially he knows that really through Parliament they're not interested in the withdrawal agreement as much as they will talk about that. They know that the European Union is not going to make any kind of concession that will compromise either the single market or Northern Ireland.

And this opportunity here to have a general -- or to have a vote of no-confidence or general election calls really helps I think the Conservative Party argue, this kind of us-and-them strategy. I mean, he himself is unelected. Nobody has had an opportunity to weigh in on a referendum or a people's vote.

But what we do see is a divided opposition. They are united when it comes to fighting and a no-deal. They're united, of course, when it comes to sort of issues of prorogation. But the fact remains that the Labour Party is not opposed to Brexit.

And until that is there, the Conservative Party has essentially a Liberal Democrats that are standing to do much better than election that have four remaining in the European Union and a divided Labour Party. And this may be an opportunity for him to exploit that.

VAUSE: Well, Scotland's First Minister had this warning for British MPs on the consequences of fairly to stop this move by Boris Johnson. Here she is.


NICOLA STURGEON. FIRST MINISTER, SCOTTLAND: Shutting down Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit which will do untoward and lasting damage to the country against the wishes of MPs is not democracy, it's dictatorship. And if MPs don't come together next week to stop Boris Johnson in his tracks, then I think today will go down in history as the day U.K. democracy died.


VAUSE: You know, pretty dire stuff. So what -- you know, there was a theory out there that you know, by Johnson doing this, it's so outrageous, so -- you know, so much -- it flies in the face of parliamentary procedure tradition and everything else, that somehow this will unite all those sort of anti-Brexit lawmakers. They'll all come together and it will backfire in a major way against Johnson. What are the chances.

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I mean, the thing is you know, it's not as if which issue prorogation has not been around. This is why as I said earlier, it's so disingenuous for the -- for Boris Johnson to be talking about the fact that this is merely in order to introduce new and exciting legislation in his -- in his Queen's speech which is a normal practice.

Legally, juridically, technically, they're absolutely correct, but this is not at all what's happening now. We're at this moment of crisis where Brexit has been defining British-European world politics for the past three years. To prevent people from debating, of course, runs the risk that there will be this coordinated sort of all against the Boris Johnson administration inaction.

Their calculation is that the opposition is in fact much more divided than that. And so long as he sticks to his guns as the person who promises to deliver a Brexit, he can bring under his control and aegis the Brexit Party, that Farage, you keep all that sort of gang, and come out of this election with what he hopes to be a new majority that will allow them to deliver Brexit.

On the other end of the political spectrum, the opposition really needs to think very carefully about the impact of these -- of these kinds of divisions. And I think that until they take an oppositional role which is to propose remaining in the European Union, the Conservative Party is going to continue to control the narrative.

VAUSE: You know, at the end of the day, Queen Elizabeth will technically head of state as a ceremonial role. It will be stunning if she done anything other than agree to Johnson's request, right? But it seems that the Prime Minister is now forcing her to pick sides and has done most -- you know, many have seen as sort of being this unthinkable. He's politicized the monarchy. And that could actually have consequences far beyond Brexit.

THOMAS: Well, it does, but it's also quite ironic the idea that you know, even sort of provoking or pushing the Queen into that -- into that position. It would've been extraordinary if she had and come down and not allowed for this to happen.

And so essentially what he's saying is if the Queen had come around that way, he would have said look, we now have a queen intervening and interfering in our parliamentary process, and yet the very process of proroguing of preventing Parliament from weighing in particularly with someone like Boris Johnson who's only elected by a small group of conservative party members is all the more egregious.

So it was yet another opportunity to kind of provoke this in the public place. And I think the Queen had very obviously no option really but to go along and support this. VAUSE: There's a certain amount of irony or bizarreness or whatever.

You know, in the name of the people, we will suspend the people's voice.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: Dom, we'll leave it there. Thank you. Good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: In Puerto Rico, they're breathing a sigh of relief after hurricane Dorian changed course and swept past to the east of the island avoided a direct hit. Here's where Dorian is right now, a category one storm intensifying as it pushes into the Atlantic towards Bahamas. It's expected we have a powerful category three storm as it heads towards Florida over the weekend.

As Dorian passed through the Caribbean, the worst of the storm at the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, officials there are still assessing damage. Here with the very lights now on Dorian's path Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us. Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: John, the fact that it didn't actually make landfall on Puerto Rico is not good news for the future of this storm because the landmass acts as a tool to help disorganize tropical systems. And well, now that it stayed over open waters, it just has all rights to continue to strengthen and strengthening it is doing right now.

This is the latest radar. We're about a 150 kilometers north of San Juan as we speak. So we're exiting away from Puerto Rico, a few outer rain bands still impacting the region. This is not what we want to see on our radar right about four days prior to a landfall of across Southeast United States, a symmetrical eyewall indicating strengthening, indicating deepening of the storm.

This is the latest from the National Hurricane Center. 140 kilometers per hour sustained winds. Listen, folks. There is nothing between here and the Southeastern United States but warm ocean waters to provide the fuel necessary for the storm to continue to intensify.

Guess what, it's rapidly intensified within the past 24 hours. There's criteria for that 55 kilometers per hour in 24-hour period. This time last night it was sitting at about 80 kilometers per hour. Now we have a full-on category one hurricane and it's expected to get stronger than that.

Here's the high-pressure system. This is our steering current for the direction of this storm once it reaches the northern Bahamas. This is going to help steer it in a general westerly trend. That's at least what our computer models are showing us as we speak.

Look at the forecast cone. You can see that this is expected to strengthen as it moves in a northwesterly direction perhaps a category three. Some computer models show stronger than that. Of course, the official stands for taking coincides of the National Hurricane Center. Don't focus on the spread here. But the point is, John, anywhere from Miami to Jacksonville, that's a 500-mile stretch that potential exists for a land falling major hurricane on Labor Day weekend. Not good news.

[01:15:11] VAUSE: Yes. And this is always a problem. You just never know exactly where these hurricanes are heading, you know, just so far out. It's always very difficult to predict, but the closer it gets, the more we'll know. Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Absolutely. Okay.

VAUSE: With us now from Vega Alta, west of the capital of San Juan is Luis Gutierrez, who by day is a CNN political commentator, but by night, he's our eyes and ears on the ground in Puerto Rico. So, Luis, great that you're with us. Great that you have electricity. I guess one thing you look at the path that Dorian end up taking. So, it swung out, you know, to the Northeast, I guess, away from the island. The relief maybe you're feeling right now must be palpable.

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a lot of relief. Let's remember that even though the -- it wasn't a hurricane, it was still a tropical storm, for the most part when it came close to Puerto Rico today. Tens of thousands of people lost their electricity in San Juan, and that's because it's very fragile. The system is generating electricity again, the generation, it's a distribution that is very weak and hasn't been replaced.

30,000 homes in Puerto Rico tonight, as we speak, still have a blue car -- tarp over them. Can you imagine.

VAUSE: It was years ago. Yes.

GUTIERREZ: That's from two years ago. I mean, I live in the richest, most powerful nation in the world. And two years later, we cannot put a roof over 30,000 people's homes. So, imagine if it would have been a category 1 -- forget about it, OK? If the storm would have hit Puerto Rico, those 30,000 homes, it would have felt like a category 5, they would have lost their roofs.

VAUSE: So, I guess it's just -- I'm just wondering, if after the storm, what you can say now is that Puerto Rico dodged a bullet, as opposed to surviving a bullet because the (INAUDIBLE) still hasn't had this test, what would actually happen if it was, you know, in the direct path of a major hurricane?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I will say this, it appears that people were ready, right? At least more so than when Maria came by. There was still a lot of places for people to go and seek refuge that were close. And many of them didn't have generators. Many of them didn't have water or cistern systems. And so, it's clear that we can work on preparing better, because given global warming, and given the current erosion, even of our shores, especially on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, it's clear that the earth -- that these hurricanes are all simply going to intensify in the future, and we have to be ready, so that the next time a hurricane comes to Puerto Rico, of course, it would help. We had a commander in chief that would love and care and cherish and

(INAUDIBLE) began to any of those things, be respectful of the people of Puerto Rico and their lives and their ambitions and their dreams. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of commander in chief at the White House.

Well, you mentioned Donald Trump, because many hours earlier as Dorian was actually baring down on Puerto Rico, Donald Trump, he hit the Twitter machine, he called Puerto Rico corrupt. The island leaders were either incompetent or corrupt. And then, a tweet came and sort of at least at first sounded almost normal. "We are tracking closely Tropical Storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico. FEMA and all others are ready and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big thank you not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan."

This is a president we're seeing some -- no boundaries. There seems to be, you know, no insult he's not prepared to make. And that tweet, he says actually, Puerto Ricans, you know, we're not grateful you know, last time (INAUDIBLE) they received. It just -- it just seems very tone deaf at this moment.

GUTIERREZ: But it is the president that we have. For the most part, John, here in Puerto Rico, people are ignoring the comments of the President of the United States. They're used to them. They don't expect any better from this president. I will say this, that the people of Puerto Rico in the world a lesson in how you eliminate corruption. We had a governor who was caught on the chats really talking ill about the people of Puerto Rico, the people that elected him to the governorship. He was talking ill about women and gay people and the poor.

And at the same time, this was a corrupt administration where the Secretary of Education was indicted and the Secretary of Health and Human Services was indicted. And you know what the people of Puerto Rico did, first there were 10,000, then there were 50, then there were 100, then there were 500,000 people.

[01:20:09] And we demanded that he resign and he had to resign. So if anything, Mr. Trump, we know how to take care of corrupt politicians. I think you should take a lesson from the fate that Governor Rossello confronted here in Puerto Rico because you're going to confront the same fate come November 2020.

Luis, it's a good point. We shall leave it right there. But thank you very much. We're glad you're well.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: We're glad everything is well there on the island. We'll catch up soon. Be well.

GUTIERREZ: Please, look forward to it.

VAUSE: Thank you. After the break, a little more on Puerto Rico and Dorian, last time the island was devastated by a hurricane, Donald Trump threw paper towels. This time, he's throwing out insults.

Also, suspending Parliament in Britain sent the pound into a freefall and (INAUDIBLE) what may be a concern that is heading to all-time lows.


VAUSE: Well, suspending Britain's Parliament had an almost immediate negative impact on the pound, down about one percent against the U.S. dollar in the immediate aftermath of the announcement on Wednesday. But Sterling has since recovered most of those losses. International Business expert Ryan Patel joins us now from Los Angeles. Hey, Ryan.


VAUSE: OK, doom and gloom and end of the world. Yeah, the economy is all about to die and everything is happening. I mean, all of this stuff is happening, right? We know this is going about. But you know, here's some of the real world implications because currency fluctuations will always have winners and losers. But with Britain being very dependent on imports, for small business owners, those sharps ups and downs, they can be toxic, because it makes it almost impossible to manage inventory. And that's a real world consequence, being felt right now by a lot of those small business owners across Britain.

PATEL: And to your point, we kind of know it was coming, but when I heard the news, I just like, wait, what just happened? And that's exactly what the business community just had, because there was hope that there could be something, a deal that was happening. Now, what's happening -- and then Bank of England actually came out and says, the business owners are not prepared for this exit, they're going to -- the output is going to come down. You already see the investment numbers in the economy. In the economy, they're expecting two percent decrease. They're already down 1.6 percent this year in the U.K.

And then, talking about the small business about travel. I mean, think about travel and tourism and obviously what's going to happen at the border. And that's going to be furthering down. But, I do want to put one caveat just to make sure that the viewers know that you may see some strong numbers before this because people are going to be trying to buy a lot of different things like we saw in the U.S.-China trade war, that you may see some positive numbers in the next quarter because people are trying to buy stuff before they actually leave the deal. But that doesn't necessarily show you that there's going to be a positive pieces to it, and there's going to be a disruption to it.

[01:25:18] VAUSE: There's going to be a lot of business at Costco in the coming weeks as people stuck up on your ramen noodles and rocks or soup. You know, the negative consequences of this no-deal Brexit goes way beyond the value of the pound. Here's part of a report from the Financial Times, "Two-thirds of FTSE 350 company secretaries expect the U.K. economy to decline, with almost 60 percent saying their companies would be damaged by any form of Brexit. About eight percent said Brexit would lead to significant damage."

That's any Brexit. A no-deal Brexit is the worst case scenario. And that just became a whole lot more likely if Johnson actually manages to make this parliamentary suspension happen. And it seemed -- it's almost as if Johnson and the other Brexiters are, you know, they're backing, they're cheering for this no-deal Brexit.

PATEL: Well, I mean, does this deal kind of sounds familiar, this rhetoric? I hate to bring in President Trump, this kind of seems like what he kind of tried to do with the government shutdown, and it's kind of what Boris Johnson is doing when it comes to these businesses -- the business perspective. And why it's important for the businesses that now they're vocal. The U.K. had been -- U.K. businesses hasn't been as vocal with Boris Johnson recently on behind the perspective of actually leaving.

But now, the U.K. government is going to have to spend more money, they're going to be about another $2 billion in preparing for Brexit, which is above its budget, which obviously that's one piece. And then the word "recession" kind of comes into the avenue. Will the U.K. Government -- or the U.K. economy tie into the downwinds into what's going on, globally? Timing is not very good right now. And then that last -- the last thing why I think you see President Trump come out really, really supportive of Boris Johnson is that he's going to look like the savior, if he comes for the U.S. with a big trade deal. It actually could buy him some time with China, with a big trade deal with the U.K. Puts it -- Yeah, you like that point now, John.

VAUSE: Kind of. Keep going. Keep going.


PATEL: And really kind of, you know, maybe help the U.K. kind of stay afloat just a tad. I mean, that's what Boris Johnson is going to have to do on the other side of this to help the economy stay afloat. I'm not talking about going further, I mean, just to keep it through the transition, because the transition isn't going to be pretty.

VAUSE: I always like connecting the dots, because I think that's the important part (INAUDIBLE) because these things do not happen in a vacuum, right? He talked about Johnson, and you know, he's going to have to, like, have a big spend up in investment, all the rest of it.

Let's listen to the prime minister talking about, you know, where there needs to be investment, what he's looking at in this no-deal Brexit scenario, here he is.


JOHNSON: We need to invest in our fantastic NHS. We need to level up education funding across the country. We need to invest in the infrastructure that's going to take this country forward for decades. And we need to deal with the cost of living, moving to a high-wage, high-productivity economy, which is I think, what this country needs to be.


VAUSE: Absolutely. But tell me this, where do you magic up all that money? Because the U.K. economy is heading into recession as predicted. Where is it all come from?

PATEL: Well, all those things is what they were before Brexit. I mean, those things that -- every single of those attributes he just mentioned is going to take a hit. You look at in the U.K. housing industry has been actually very, very strong for over the years. This past year is taking a dip, it's going down, which is amazing when you -- when you think about the confidence of the citizens and what they're trying to do there. And, you know, the U.K. economy has always been around entrepreneurship, innovation, and they've always been spending a lot of money in that perspective. What happens now, right, when there isn't that much money that's going to be there? And, you know, it seems like they're going to be playing catch up versus actually pushing those items that he's talking about.

VAUSE: This excellent point is a little out of your realm because it's not entirely business related, but it goes to the sort of the general upheaval of everything that, you know, we've gotten used to with Britain, you know, the external nature of the Queen now being very much part of this Brexit story, or the headline from Vanity Fair reported, "Boris Johnson drags the Queen into plan to royally screwed British economy."

And you know, because of headlines like that, the Queen has stayed or try to stay above this Brexit debate for years, but there's only so a chance that she'd do anything other than agree to Johnson's request. And that's just by having more than a million people signing an online petition, demanding no suspension of Parliament. So, you -- just everything here just seems to be -- it's sort of an uncharted territory. There is uncertainty no matter where you look right now in Britain.

PATEL: How -- I mean, I may not be an expert on the politics of Britain, but how do you bring the Queen into this? Like, you know I know you don't bring the Queen into this, in that aspects. Especially in the community when you talk about the economy, right? Typically, it's separated. This is not a conversation that's having it, and you know, for the business perspective, and I like to tie in the economy because she does have a big brand name in this, where there is a stamp of approval that this is happening.


Now people are revoking against this kind of notion a sense of suspending parliament. You know, I actually kind of laughed when I heard the news. And I was like whoa -- that's probably his only move that he needed to do to be able to get away from all the noise from both sides, from everybody. Even to create this kind of notion.

And lastly I want to say one more thing is does this give enough leverage back to the E.U. to show he's crazy enough to follow through this and mind you Germany and those -- you know, their manufacturing out put to the U.K. actually has been down. They've been hurt more there than the U.S. I'm not saying his plan is working but it's going to be very interesting to see how it comes out and who is going to hold that line. I'm interested to watch to see if E.U. will not do anything and just take -- both sides are going to hurt. Both the economies are going to take a hit when this happens.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. They both will. Germany's in recession. We'll see what happens there. Britain is facing a recession so you know, things aren't good.

Ryan -- thanks.

PATEL: Thank you.

VAUSE: A short break. When we come back a new storm rekindling an old argument. The U.S. President lashing out again at the leaders of Puerto Rico, in particular his old nemesis, the mayor of the capital of San Juan.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has approved the Prime Minister's request to suspend parliament for five weeks. That means those opposed to a Brexit and in particular a no-deal Brexit will have just 17 days to find a way to block the U.K.'s withdrawal from the E.U.

Rival political parties in Italy have reached a tentative deal to form a new government led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who resigned last week. A new agreement would sideline far right leader Matteo Salvini who quit the previous coalition.

Hurricane Dorian battered the U.S. and British Virgin Islands with heavy rain and winds but the Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit from the Category 1. Flooding though remains a concern there. Dorian is expected to strengthen to a possible category 3 storm as it nears the U.S. state of Florida.

Joining us now Republican strategist Alice Stewart who has been communications director and national press secretary for a long list of high-profile presidential campaigns over the past decade. And she is with us now from Harvard. So Alice -- thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: Ok. So when Hurricane Dorian was still what -- about six hours away from Puerto Rico and there were fears of a direct hit, widespread destruction, that was the moment when the President decided it will be a good time to lash out at the U.S. territory as well as its leaders.

[01:34:51] He tweeted, "Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their legal system is broken. Their politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Congress approved billions of dollars last time more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to crooked pols" -- politicians -- " no good.

At least he didn't repeat the lie that Congress approved $90 billion in assistance for Puerto Rico because that was not true.

But here is the question, surely at the most basic level, there should be at least some realization by Trump that, you know, if the worst happened and Dorian made landfall, that would trigger the type of emergency where local authority would need to have the faith and the trust and support of the U.S. President and the federal government and the people of Puerto Rico would be there. So what would be gained by undermining the confidence in local authorities?

STEWART: Absolutely nothing. And John -- look, no business and politics for personal grievances and there certainly is no place for personal grievances when we are talking about natural disasters and certainly to the magnitude of what the storm is.

Fortunately it like Puerto Rico is going to avoid the brunt of the storm and unfortunately it is its way to the mainland. But it's important to remember that while lot of people seem to forget Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. It is part of the U.S. government's responsibility to help out in times of such tragedies.

And while we did step forward and helped tremendously with billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars with Hurricane Maria two years ago and Congress allocated billions of dollars last year, if it's coming up again and they need the help of the federal government again then now is the time to make sure that happens

And any of this political bickering back and forth it's just not necessary, whether it's from the President or whether it's in return from the mayor of San Juan. They just need to put that aside and look at the immediate needs of what the people in Puerto Rico need. Offer our prayers and certainly whatever help they need let's make sure they get the help that they need.

VAUSE: I just want to read the last part of that presidential tweet. Donald Trump added, "And by the way, I am the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico."

And this is all part of a delusion which began almost two years ago after Hurricane Maria. Have a look at this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success. I think in a certain way the best job we did was Puerto Rico but nobody would understand that.

I am the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico because we did a great job in Puerto Rico. They don't like to give me the credit for it but we did a great job.


VAUSE: This is a president who see success where others only see dismal failure or he takes phone calls from senior Chinese leaders that never actually happened, or he sees border wall construction which is only visible to him. Whatever it is, he then repeats himself over and over and over again. Who is he trying to convince?

STEWART: His base and people that maybe low information voters. Look, we provided billions of dollars probably over $40 billion, in the last a hurricane. But unfortunately what a lot of people remember are the optics of him going down there throwing rolls of paper towels to people there on the ground. And that is something that will not be erased from many peoples memories, we need to make sure that they have the confidence in the federal government and in addition to that the resources they need to continue to rebuild from Maria, and any damage that is done as a result of this current storm.

VAUSE: The Congress approved $43 billion in relief assistance after Maria. $14 billion has been spent. So there is progress being made, you're right. It's (INAUDIBLE) just the paper towels being thrown by the President from that trip which is the lasting image.

You know, part of Donald Trump's act back in 2016 when he was on the campaign was to play the role of the law and order candidate. You know, good old fashioned, common sense type of law and order. Now CNN is reporting that Mr. Law and Order has recently told aides, he would pardon them if they committed illegal acts while fulfilling his demands to build a wall on the southern border by 2020, two officials confirmed to CNN.

Usually that could be, you know, like ignoring environmental regulations or simply seizing private land along the border. This says a lot about how crucial the wall is -- or how he sees it anyway and has been so crucial for his chances in 2020. But more importantly, and maybe more troubling is the active lack of respect for the rule of law.

And we should note that there has been some pushback from -- one White House official saying the President was, you know, joking about all of this but it wasn't really a joke?

STEWART: No it's not a joke. And look, while building the wall and securing the border, and national security is a key component of his campaign and certainly will be a big part of his reelection campaign, he needs to figure out how to get that done, without robbing from Peter to pay Paul.

Look, I never personally believed that Mexico was going to build this big beautiful wall, but I did know that national security and immigration was going to be a top priority.

And in my view in the ideal world you would actually realize and reinforce to members of Congress this is important, this is national security. [01:39:59] And sit Republicans and Democrats down and figure out how to secure the border, how to build that wall whether it is a wall, whether it is boots on the ground or drones in the air and get it done that way.

Taking from important resources that are needed for national emergencies is not the way to go about doing it.

VAUSE: You know, the border wall seems to be ultimate Trump projects in a way. It was oversold. Construction has not begun and there is no money to begin the project in the first place.

You've got a President, not for the first time who has suggested pardons for government employees who break the law to implement his policies. He (INAUDIBLE) during conversations with senior officials from foreign government. He hasn't mentioned any construction projects.

And this is why, you know, a lot of people are asking, you know, will an elder statesman within the GOP come forward and challenge this man in a primary. You know, maybe a Mitt Romney, for example. Or a Governor John Kasich.

Where is that elder statesman within the party who's willing to essentially to, you know, kamikaze mission if you like, to ruin Donald Trump's chances of reelection?

STEWART: Well, they're sitting on the sidelines waiting until after President Trump runs for reelection and potentially looking at 2024. Look, I commend anyone that wants to get in there and go against a sitting president but I am not a gambling person.

But John -- I can tell there's absolutely zero chance of any Republican beating President Trump. You have to have all these things in place. You have to have the infrastructure, fund-raising, data, analytics and the support of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump has all of that in spades. And I'm not talking just about the Republican National Committee but state directors, state committees, people in these individual states because John -- as you know, the presidential race is not a national race. It is a state by state presidential race.

He has all of those officials locked up. And they are not going to do what needs to be done, and helping anyone that wants to put a viable challenge against him. That is just not going to happen.

VAUSE: And if anybody knows the Republican primary as well as you, you've seen your fair share over the years. So it's great to have your analysis and your perspective -- Alice. Thanks so much. Appreciate you being with us.

STEWART: Thank you -- John.

VAUSE: While he never mentioned the U.S. President by name the former Defense Secretary James Mattis delivered a stinging rebuke of Donald Trump's brand of division and isolationism. In his upcoming book Mattis also questions mixing politics and the military.

He writes, "I did as well as I could for as long as I could." Mattis resigned late last year when President Trump announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

The extract from Mattis' book came the same days the current Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff held their first news conference in a year. One of the big issues they addressed are reports that Taliban and U.S. are close to a deal that could lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

But the top U.S. general made clear any agreement will be conditional.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon everyone. It is --

GENERAL JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I'm not using the "withdraw" word right now. I'm using we are going to make sure Afghanistan is not a sanctuary and we are going to try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.


VAUSE: 13,000 U.S. troops are serving alongside forces in Afghanistan training and advising Afghan soldiers. At that same news conference, the Defense Secretary Mark Esper had some concerns about recent ballistic missile tests by North Korea but he says the U.S. remains focused on diplomacy.

Meantime Brian Todd reports Pyongyang is seriously working on a new first strike capability.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New evidence that North Korea's ambitious young supreme commander may soon have a submarine to command and a new way to threaten the U.S. New satellite photos just published by the Website Beyond Parallel, show what appears to be new activity at the Simpo (ph) South shipyard in North Korea where Kim Jong-un's regime build many of its submarines.

Two support submarines, a larger sub and a so-called midget sub are parked there along with another support vessel. There is a crane, a vehicle in one phot and people at the dock. Analysts believe it all could be to support this -- an enormous nuclear-capable submarine being built or renovated which Kim was photographed inspecting last month at a nearby location.

Experts say the shipyard activity could mean the North Koreans are preparing for a crucial test.

DVID SCHNEIDER, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The purpose of this vessel maybe to take the test fires out into open waters and test a submarine launched ballistic missile.

TODD: CNN talked to a top Pentagon official about the new pictures.

RANDAL SHRIVER, U.S. ASST. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We see very intentional modernization on the part of the DPRK --

TODD: What concerns you about the development of that submarine?

SHRIVER: Well, you know, if you extrapolate far enough they are looking for a capability that makes them a more potent adversary.

TODD: Another senior U.S. official has told CNN, the U.S. has been tracking the development of this sub for a year and a half. Kim successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a smaller submarine in 2016. A vessel which experts say could hold one nuclear-tipped missile.

[01:45:04] This larger one they say could hold three or more. These subs give Kim the ability to launch nuclear missiles that will be harder to detect an advance. And analysts fear he's trying to develop a longer range submarine.

RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY CENTER: They could potentially within the next decade developed submarines capable of transiting the Pacific Ocean within range position to launch missile strikes against the United States.

TODD: The new development comes as President Trump's new Defense Secretary spoke about Kim's other missile threat.

MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Obviously, we are concerned about the short range ballistic missile tests. We want to understand what they're doing and why they're doing et cetera.

But on the other hand, we're not going to overreact.

TODD: But experts say Kim full steam ahead program to perfect his submarine shows he is trying to build a nuclear force that can survive enemy attacks. While at the same time, diminishing the promise of President Trump's overtures toward the dictator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This type of activity only reinforces the fact that North Korea seems at least at the moment not committed to denuclearizing to the extent that the President had mentioned.

TODD: How can the U.S. and its allies counter the submarine missile threat from Kim Jong-un? Military analysts say the allies are going to have to put more spy planes in the air, more ships and underwater sensors in the Pacific Ocean to try to detect and intercept those North Korean subs.

It's going to be difficult and costly, they say and it may provoke China and Russia to become more aggressive in the Pacific. But the allies they say really may have no other choice.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: As the fight continues to contain fires burning in the Amazon, there may now be reason for optimism and maybe a little hope. We'll explain in a moment.


VAUSE: Well, while the Amazon burns, South American leaders plan to talk about it next week. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is still refusing to accept millions of dollars in aid from the G-7 because the French president called him a mean name.

Shasta Darlington reports.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A glimmer of hope from the Brazilian Amazon with the latest satellite images showing that fire activity has diminished in recent days and is at normal or even below normal levels for this time of year. And Brazil has at least started to accept some international aid. The government announced it would accept 10 million pounds in aid from Great Britain.

[01:49:52] President Jair Bolsonaro however suggested yet again that Brazil will not accept $20 million in aid from the G-7 until French President Emmanuel Macron either withdraws or apologizes for insults that he's made against Bolsonaro.

In the meantime the President announced that said that the countries straddling the Amazon region will hold a meeting on September 6th in Colombia to discuss how to combat the fires. And also to discuss sustainable development in the Amazon region.

Here in brazil, some 2,500 troops have been deployed to the Amazon to help put out fires and clearly that's starting to have an impact. What isn't so clear is just what the long term effects will be in a region that is as big roughly is two-thirds of Europe, just how big an impact these fires have had on the diverse plant and the animal life.

Shasta Darlington, CNN -- Sao Paulo.


VAUSE: Let me tell you about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and the moon up above and the thing called love. For many in the 60s, the lyrics of that 1964 hit song was the closest thing they would come to which could be called sex education.

And I'll tell you that the scientists trying to save the northern white rhino are posing quite a challenge. Just two rhinos are left and both are female.

Farai Sevenzo reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the race to save the north white rhino species, the stakes are high. As veterinary scientists tried a new procedure for the first time. The hopeful silence was deafening.

Their mission to extract eggs from the last two northern white rhinos to save the species from extinction. The team successfully gathered five eggs each from the two female rhinos in Kenya --Nagin (ph) and Fatou (ph).

This remarkable achievement born of science and hope, signs of life for the white rhino's prospects after Sudan, the last male northern white rhino died earlier last year.

His sperm along with the sperm of another who died in 2014 since frozen in incubators (INAUDIBLE) the reproduction. Nagin and Fatou can't carry a pregnancy by themselves. And collecting their eggs was only one step in the process.

Scientists managed to artificially inseminate seven of their eggs with the frozen sperm. Now the next part would be an embryo transfer to a southern white rhino which will be the surrogate to carry it full term.

JAN STEJSKAL, DVUR KRALUVE ZOO: What we have to do next it means that we have to (INAUDIBLE) a real technique for embryo transplant. And all this time we again cooperate for the zoos in Europe.

SEVENZO: The world must soon see another northern white rhino. But the fight to save the species from extinction is far from over.

Farai Sevenzo, CNN -- Nairobi.


VAUSE: And with that we'll take a short break. You're watching CNN. Back after this.


VAUSE: Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is now in New York after traveling almost 5,000 kilometers across the Atlantic. Waiting from a zero carbon admissions vessel she completed her 15-day journey from England to take part in a U.N. climate action summit in September.

The young activist said she was ready to relax, have a good meal, the boat didn't exactly have a shower or bathroom facilities and those on board including her father ate those frozen dried meals the entire trip.

U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is taking a swing at more than just the White House. He recently took out boxing on the campaign trail. Jeanne Moos has the blow by blow of what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) [01:55:01] JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this corner 77-year-old Bernie "The Cerebral" Sanders who couldn't resist jabbing the speed bag he passed by the other day.


MOOS: He took on the bag but the bag clobbered him or as one armchair analyst put it, "Speed bag TKOs Bernie Sanders seconds after fight began. Quickest technical knockout in boxing history."

Note to candidates. If you're clueless about hitting a bag, don't do it. Unless you want to become a punching bag.

"What a doofus. LOL. If he keeps that up maybe he'll knock some sense into himself."

Someone else took a swing at socialism tweeting, "Chen capitalism claps back."

Even the President's son Don, Jr. weighed in, "This wouldn't exactly strike fear in the minds of our adversaries."

But Bernie supporters thought it was cute. "Float like a butterfly, Sting like a Bernie."

We've seen the candidates shadow box before, reacting to his doctors saying what great health the senator is in.

SANDERS: Do I get involved in senior boxing?

MOOS: In addition to shadow boxing, we've seen Donald Trump perform a fake takedown at a WWE event billed as a battle of the billionaires.

But at least Bernie is punching a bag and not threatening to punch his opponent.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish we were in high school, I can take him behind the gym.

TRUMP: He said I'd like to take him behind the gym. I dream of that.

MOOS: but our favorite political boxing moment was when retiring senator Orrin Hatch tried to spar with a piece of bacon. A slice of bacon is great but don't get any ideas from this guy. Don't even think of pummeling meat Bernie even if the wood tenderized it.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Rocky movie.

Anyway, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. The news continues with Rosemary Church right after this.


[02:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A storm that's only getting stronger. Hurricane Dorian picks up speed as it barrels towards Florida.