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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Forecast Shows Dorian On Track To Slam Into Florida As Major Hurricane; Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Is Interviewed About Trump's Change Of Tone; Sources: Trump Considers Blocking Military Aid To Ukraine; Trump Gets Serious As Storm Threatens U.S. Mainland, Cancels Trip To Poland; DOJ Watchdog: Comey Violated FBI Policy By Sharing Trump Memos But Did Not Reveal Classified Info To Media; North Korea Grants More Authority To Kim Jong-un. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 29, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for that report. And you can follow me on Twitter @danabashcnn or tweet the show @theleadcnn. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.
[17:00:15] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.
Strengthening storm. Hurricane Dorian is heading toward Florida, where it's expected to slam into the coast as a powerful Category 4, putting millions of people at risk, as Georgia now joins its neighbor declaring an emergency. The latest forecast is just in.
Change of tone. After attacking Puerto Rico as Dorian approached, the president is now openly concerned about the threat to Florida and says he's skipping a trip to Poland so that all federal resources are focusing in on the storm.
Abandoning an ally. Risking a bipartisan uproar, President Trump is considering a plan to block a quarter billion in military aid to Ukraine, a move that would further ingratiate him with Russia's President Putin.
And even more supreme. Dictator Kim Jong-un changes North Korea's Constitution so that he's now the official head of state. After naming himself supreme commander and respected comrade, is he just collecting more titles, or looking to legitimize himself to negotiate with the United States.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: Breaking news, the new forecast is just in, and Dorian is expect to do slam into Florida as a major hurricane on Labor Day, bringing life-threatening storm surges along the coast. After lashing the Virgin Islands, leading Puerto Rico largely unscathed, Dorian is now a Category 1, expecting to intensify as it moves north in the warm Atlantic waters.
It could make landfall on Labor Day anywhere from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia. Florida's governor has declared an emergency for the entire state, and there's already been a big run on water, food, gas and building supplies. A dozen Georgia counties have just been placed under a state of emergency after treating Puerto Rico with contempt when it was in the path of the storm.
President Trump has now turned very, very serious now that Florida and Georgia are likely targets. He just canceled a trip to Poland, saying he wants to focus in on the hurricane. I'll speak with Congressman Don Beyer and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Florida's governor has now declared an emergency in all of the state's 67 counties, and urgent preparations for the storm are underway. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Port Canaveral for us right now. So, what's the latest there?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, authorities are already warning residents here to get prepared. Tomorrow they are bringing in two truckloads of sand so that residents can make sandbags in preparation. When I have asked people here, what is your greatest concern? Every single person has said a direct hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll get it for you.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Tonight, Hurricane Dorian is barreling toward Florida, expected to be a Category 4 storm, it's already causing hurricane-force issues for the sunshine state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a Monday, but we had to make some sudden changes --
SANTIAGO (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- for the itinerary because of the hurricane.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): As Floridians prepare to hunker down or get out -- the coming storm is forcing others to stay away during the Labor Day weekend, usually a vacation season money maker for hotels and cruise ships.
SANTIAGO (on camera): In terms of money, how much will you lose here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This hotel, in excess of $120,000.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Debra Green says she's had a steady stream of cancellations at her hotel on what was to be a sold-out holiday weekend. But tonight, Florida officials say better safe than sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The time to act is now. If you haven't acted, act to make preparations. Do not wait until it's too late.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SANTIAGO: Dorian has already pummeled the British and U.S. Virgin islands and lashed Puerto Rico with rain, but since it has moved back out into open waters, it's picking up steams, and could now pack winds as high as 115 miles an hour by the time it makes landfall early Monday, prompting Floridians to take action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just getting ready for the hurricane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just getting prepared for the storm comes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just want to protect against what's coming potentially.
SANTIAGO: Tonight, the rush to fill up at the gas pump is underway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saturday, I'm going to put my shutters off. You know the praying has already begun.
SANTIAGO: And in Daytona Beach, they're also filling up with sand and lining up at hardware stores so they can board up at home.
[17:05:03] TIERRA JOHNSON, HOME DEPOT EMPLOYEE: What you don't want is to have a situation where you can't keep your family and friends safe because you didn't take the time to prepare ahead.
SANTIAGO: Floridians are being warned to have seven days of food, water and medicine on hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just trying to be prepared. I have you know a 1- year-old at home and my daughter. It's not the first hurricane I've been through. So --
SANTIAGO: Meantime, even NASA says it's not taking any chances either, moving its mobile launch platform back inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously because the mobile launcher is so tall, it would be affected by the wind.
SANTIAGO: A feat that will take at least eight hours using a 6 million pound vehicle to slowly roll the platform 3 1/2 miles to safety.
SANTIAGO: And, Wolf, you are looking at live right now - live pictures in Miami, where gas lines are forming -- have been forming for quite some time as people try to get fuel not only for their cars but also for those generators they may need in the upcoming days should Dorian cause power outages.
Now, back here live in Port Canaveral, we are right now at the second busiest cruise port in the world. We saw two ships today. They told me they expect three tomorrow but after that, we could see some adjustments in the itinerary. And of course, that could be a big impact for businesses here.
BLITZER: Sure. We'll be - Leyla Santiago thank you very much. We'll stay in close touch with you.
Right now, I want to turn to our meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She's at the CNN Hurricane Center for us. Allison, first of all, I understand a new forecast has just been released.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and probably the biggest change from the last advisory that we had is we're noticing a delay in the landfall timeline. Now most of the basic statistics with this storm have remained relatively the same. Still Category 1, winds at 85 miles per hour, moving to the northwest at 13 miles per hour. It's trying to form an eye, but what's interesting is the southern portion of the storm has really started to enhance.
In fact, Puerto Rico is probably getting more rain now than it did when the center of the storm was actually right upon this particular area just 24 hours ago. Very heavy rain bands pushing in not only to Puerto Rico, but across portions of the U.S. Virgin islands as well.
But we talked about the changes to the track. Let's take a look at it. Here again is the current position. It is expected to intensify rather quickly up to a Category 3 here in just about the next 24 hours. And that's due in part because the water is incredibly warm.
Another part, there's really nothing in its way to weaken it, but we still expect it, Wolf, to get up to a Category 4 storm, but now the landfall time is a little bit later. We're expecting maybe late Monday morning into early Monday afternoon.
The good news is, Wolf, it gives people more time to prepare, but you also don't want people to become complacent knowing that it's going to be a little bit later than originally forecast - it has always change back.
BLITZER: Any better sense, yet, Allison, where it might hit land?
CHINCHAR: So more of the models are starting to trend a little bit further south, especially the European model. So, again, now it's looking more and more like it would be more on the southern half of the state. But again, that's just one model. It could all go right back again for the next model run.
The key thing to know even if it does make landfall in the further south point, it's got to go north after that, so really the entire state is going to have some form of an impact from the storm, whether it's direct landfall or the aftereffects as it continues to move on.
BLITZER: Allison Chinchar for us. Thank you very much.
After treating Puerto Rico with a scorn - with a lot of scorn, I should say, when the storm was bearing down on that U.S. territory, President Trump is taking a different tone as far as Florida is concerned. Florida now very much as you heard, in harm's way.
Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. So, what is the president saying now, Jim? JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump just announced in the Rose Garden a few moments ago that he won't be going to Poland for a trip coming up this weekend, so he can stay in Washington and keep tabs on Hurricane Dorian.
Vice President Mike Pence will now be going in the president's place, and the president insists his administration is ready for the storm, but there's no mistaking the big difference between how the president is responding now and how he's been behaving over the last 48 hours when the same hurricane was targeting Puerto Rico.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is sounding all business about his administration storm preparation efforts, announcing in the Rose Garden he is postponing his trip to Poland as Hurricane Dorian is expected to do crash into the state of Florida over the Labor Day weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane, and I will be rescheduling my trip to Poland in the near future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The president is warning Floridians that Dorian could be devastating, tweeting - "Be prepared and please follow state and federal instructions, it will be a very big hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest."
But contrast the president's no-nonsense warnings for Florida with his comments on Puerto Rico, when the hurricane was on its way to the island. The president tweeted - "Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either incompetent or corrupt."
"And by the way, I'm the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico!"
[17:10:09] But critics in Puerto Rico say that's not true, pointing at the president's paper towel tossing performance on the island two years ago after Hurricane Maria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Between 1 and 10, how would you grade the White House response so far?
TRUMP: I would say it was a 10.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Away from the storm, the president is making other waves, as his administration is considering pulling back on military assistance to Ukraine even as the country is reeling from years of Russian aggression.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Cutting that aid would be welcomed by Russia's Vladimir Putin.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: (INAUDIBLE) as a strong moral. I believe ethical commitment to help the Ukraine defend themselves against the Russian coercion. The Eastern Ukraine - it's hard not to juxtapose this with the push by President Trump to bring Russia back into the G7.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: But president is again ramping up his rhetoric in his trade war with China, accusing Beijing of retaliating with tariffs and get American farmers to punish Mr. Trump in 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: China plays a vicious game. They've targeted our farmers. That's how vicious they play the game. They actually target because they know that the farmers like Trump and Trump loves the farmers actually. I love what they do. They're incredible people. They don't want any subsidies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The president sounds just as bad at Fox News. Telling one of the network's host -- he's unhappy with the conservative channel's coverage of his administration with the exception of certainly personalities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm not happy with -- I'm not happy with Fox. I think -- you know people think Fox is for me. Fox is good. Look, Sean and Laura and Tucker has really been very good for - well, Tucker's a little tricky, but that's OK. But he's been very good. And you know many of them, you guys in the morning, Ainsley and Steve and you, you become - you were sold - you know, I used to say you were a solid six or seven, maybe a seven but you're getting much better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now in another big foreign policy move. The president said he's planning to draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump has long advocated for a total withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it appears advisers warn against that kind of move have won the day for now.
As for the president's trip to Poland that's been postponed, as you said, it is worth noting, Mr. Trump was supposed to meet with the new president of Ukraine while he was in Warsaw. No word on whether the vice president will instead have that meeting.
That's a key meeting, as you know, Wolf, as the administration is considering whether to hold up military aid for Ukraine, something the Pentagon doesn't want to see happen, but of course the final call belongs to the president. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House for us.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia. He's a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Congressman thanks very much for coming in. Did the president do the right thing by cancelling, or at least postponing his trip to Poland this weekend?
REP. DON BEYER (D-VA): Yes, I think he did. I'm glad he's going to focus on Dorian hitting Florida and maybe Georgia. But I don't think that can take away from the fact that he so blew it two years ago when the storm hit Puerto Rico. And I certainly hope that he didn't go attack all the political leaders in our southern states the way he's done the political leaders in Puerto Rico. In fact, when they have needed help the most, he's been out there tearing them down.
BLITZER: And while he was in Warsaw, supposedly this weekend, he said even Vice President Mike Pence instead as you just heard from Jim Acosta, he was supposed to meet with the new president of Ukraine, obviously that's not now going to happen. What do you think of these reports that he's thinking of cutting or eliminating about $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
BEYER: First of all, I think there will be strong bipartisan backlash against that, Senate and House. And it's really ironic. John Bolton was just there yesterday meeting with the Ukraine leaders, pledging U.S. support for their independence, their sovereignty.
It's really hard not to see this in the G7 context. Last week, we have Trump - they're trying to get Russia back into the G7 but they have not yet paid a price for stealing Crimea, and for continuing to really try to disrupt democracies throughout Western Europe and the United States.
BLITZER: I'm sure there will be plenty of opposition if in fact that decision goes forward. You heard a very different tone. And you pointed it out yourself when the president is talking about Puerto Rico and the threat to Puerto Rico, as opposed to the threat to Florida, and maybe Georgia as well. Why do you think that is?
BEYER: Well, part of it is that Florida could be a swing state in 2020. And part of it is Florida is not an island full of people of color. We have seen him again and again pick on anywhere where color is involved. But I don't really criticize his sticking up and trying to modify the impacts of the hurricane on Florida. I just wished that he would be evenhanded when it comes to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.
BLITZER: But you know does he realize that the 3 million people who live in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens? BEYER: I don't think he's ever really acknowledged that. And at least he didn't talk about dropping a nuclear bomb in the middle of the hurricane as he's apparently reported this week doing.
[17:15:00] BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) from developing.
BEYER: A little crazy.
BLITZER: He's denying that as you know. But Axios is confirming that multiple times.
The president says FEMA is prepared for this new hurricane, this Category 4 potentially when it hits Florida, maybe Georgia, but as you know, the Trump administration is now diverting about $271 million from FEMA in order to beef up immigration protection, as the president would call it. What do you think about it?
BEYER: I think it's crazy. He has this obsession on a wall, and now a black wall, when we know the things we really need to be concerned about at the border, drugs, for example, fentanyl are all coming right through the ports of entry. So it's a disaster. FEMA gets better and better, unfortunately with climate change we have become more practiced at dealing with this.
BLITZER: But since Congress appropriated, authorized those funds for FEMA, appropriated those funds for FEMA, does the president have the authority to simply sign some sort of document and move more than $270 million from FEMA to some other purposes?
BEYER: We don't think that he does. But he's going to say, so called EEPA authority, Emergency Powers Act but it's really difficult to make the case that there's an emergency on the border right now. The emergency is with taking care of the women and children who have turned themselves in voluntarily. And in the last couple of weeks in Congress we addressed that.
BLITZER: But $150 million is from FEMA, another $100 million or so from other disaster relief programs that he wants to reprogram. So, will you challenge that decision?
BEYER: Yes, we absolutely will. We had this fight over the last couple weeks where he was going to divert a couple of billion dollars for the foreign aid. Again, same idea, citing EEPA and he relented, thank goodness because there was bipartisan push back. I think there will be again on this.
BLITZER: Congressman Beyer, thank you so much for coming in.
BEYER: Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.
Up next, emergency declarations are now up for all of Florida and parts of Georgia as millions of people scramble to get ready for Hurricane Dorian forecast to hit the U.S. mainland as a very powerful hurricane.
And after ridiculing Puerto Rico as Dorian approach, the president is now openly concerned about the threat to Florida. So what's behind the change in tone? Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[17:22:00] BLITZER: Breaking news with Hurricane Dorian now gaining strength and taking direct aim at Florida, President Trump just announced a little while ago, he's cancelling a trip to Poland this weekend so he can stay and monitor the government storm response. Just now at the White House, he sounded much more concerned about the hurricane's impact than he did in the same storm was heading toward Puerto Rico.
Let's bring in our experts. We'll talk about the president's abrupt change in tone.
But, Abby, first of all you cover the White House for us, by all accounts he did the right thing in deciding this was not a good weekend for him to be away as millions of people potentially in Florida and maybe in Georgia are in serious danger.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean I think most presidents would be facing a very similar choice. Obviously the president can work and be president of the United States literally anywhere in the world, but typically when the U.S. is threatened by major storm, they stay nearby.
I remember when Hurricane Maria went to Puerto Rico. In fact, the president was at his golf course in New Jersey. And that was a point of concern, because he was trying to convene meetings from up there. It looked like he wasn't entirely focused on that storm, so he's doing the right thing this time. But also, we should note, this is already a trip that's been cut short. He was going to go to Copenhagen. He would already cancel that part.
So it was a lot easier to just go ahead and cancel the whole thing and send the vice president.
BLITZER: It was interesting because today, Chris, it's exactly 14 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. Remember President Bush at that time got a lot of criticism for sort of not necessarily being on top of it.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, the defining photo or image of the Bush presidency is him looking down at all of the flooding -- flying over it.
Michael Brown, Brown doing heck of a job. If you look at George W. Bush's presidency, the war in Iraq is not actually the point at which the public loses full confident to him, it's Hurricane Katrina where he just sort of being at the bottom of his handling of it.
So, yes, I think Trump makes the right decision. He makes decision or every president makes -- Republican or Democrat. The challenging thing for Donald Trump is he, 24 hours ago, was mocking Puerto Rico for their corruption, for their bad mayor of San Juan. It's so totally different from what he's saying now. It's impossible not to notice and wonder why.
BLITZER: He said Puerto Rico the most corrupt -
CILLIZZA: You can feel that way, but when a major hurricane is seemingly bearing down on that place, it's probably not the best time to mention that as the president.
BLITZER: You know, Joey, why do you think there is this different tone when the president talks about the dangers facing Puerto Rico as opposed to the dangers facing Florida?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, I think it's obvious. I think it pertains to race and it pertains to politics. First of all, I think that in instances of any hurricane or a national disaster you have to be out there for the people and all the people. But when you look that you have race you don't need me to recount the terms of how he has referenced and talked about black or brown people, go to his Twitter feed, you can look at that yourself.
[17:20:00] But on the issue of politics, how many electoral votes does Puerto Rico have? Zero. How much participation do they have in the presidential elections? Zero. How much representation do they have in Congress? Zero.
Look at Florida, it always is a state of contention. 23 electoral votes, that's the third most, right, tied with New York, you've got to get it. And you look at the past presidential election, Obama went for the first time, less than 3 percent, wins it again against Romney, less than 1 percent. Trump wins Florida, right? And he wins it again by just a little more than 1 percent.
So it will be hotly contested who you're going to pander to. The people you need to elect you that would be Florida. Simple question, simple answer, and that is race in politics.
BLITZER: What do you think, Susan?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: I think Joey is absolutely right. There's almost pathological feature to this that the president really does not view himself as being the president of people who didn't vote for him.
And he also seems sort of - wanting to -- as if he wants to communicate but not only does he not see himself as their president, something obligation to them. He doesn't care about them. He doesn't care their suffering. He really thinks sort of want to go out there and make sort of a gratuitous or cruel statements.
Of course, there is some degree of irony in this case, right? Because as he was saying, you know, just the other day, well you know a hurricane is heading towards Puerto Rico as usual, almost implying that it was the Puerto Rican's fault, Mother Nature shifting not - sort of sending it directly into Florida. Obviously, a remarkably you know important politically important state. It does speak to sort of the situation of Puerto Ricans that essentially have second class citizenship.
It also speaks to you know questions about why Democrats aren't out in Florida attempting to register the more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans who were just placed following Hurricane Maria, have resettled in Florida and are now therefore eligible to vote in the presidential election. Why aren't the Democrats really, really focused on registering those people to vote? It seems like they would be a rather powerful voting bloc in that state.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right, especially for the very, very close battle in a battleground state like Florida.
Everybody stick around. We have a lot more coming up right after this.
[17:31:46] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts.
Susan Hennessey, the President canceled a trip this weekend for understandable reasons, because of the hurricane threat affecting Florida right now, maybe Georgia as well. But he was supposed to be in Warsaw with the new president of Ukraine, and he's now threatening to cut about $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine. What message will that send?
HENNESSEY: Yes, so this would be yet another gift from Trump to Putin. You know, certainly, this will be welcome news in the Kremlin. And, you know, of course, sort of currying favor with Vladimir Putin has been the bizarre hallmark of sort of throughout Trump's presidency.
This is a move that would draw a -- draw bipartisan condemnation from Congress. Another example, of course, in which the President is out of step not just with Democrats but with members of his own party who recognize that Ukraine is a U.S. ally and Russia is not. The President simply doesn't share that view.
You know, and yet again, it's an example of Trump sort of trying to intrude on the constitutional function of another branch -- of a co- equal branch of government. The Congress gets to appropriate funds. They have the power of the purse. They get to decide how money is spent.
Congress has set this $250 million to military assistance for Ukraine. For the President to essentially refuse to spend it is a way of undermining, you know, an important legislative function.
Keep in mind, this all coming at the same as the President's private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, continues to mount this sort of -- this bizarre and, frankly, disgraceful campaign to try and get the government of Ukraine to potentially release some sort of damaging information about a political opponent's family members. Ukraine has failed to play ball.
And so, as we see Trump's reluctance, you know, in this area to do something that really is common sense, it's coming as the backdrop of his supporters attempting to sort of pressure Ukraine to do what is -- what amounts to corrupt political favors.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani says that Ukraine has damaging information about the Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Biden, and his family. And that has not emerged, at least not yet.
You know, he was threatening to cut about $4 billion in various forms of foreign aid but had to relent on -- in the face of pressure from not only Democrats but Republicans as well.
PHILLIP: Right. I mean, and with this, the President is basically daring Congress to push back against a move like this.
And in some cases, and particularly when it comes to certain types of foreign affairs issues, Republicans in Congress are willing to use whatever power, influence, they have over President Trump to sway him. And they typically do it privately, through back channels, through the Vice President, for example, through Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State.
And so, they try to do it quietly without making it seem like they're reprimanding the President. But make no mistake, there are some things that Republicans think is even a bridge too far for President Trump and they have been willing to push back on these things.
BLITZER: The President did a rather lengthy interview today about -- what, about 22 minutes or so?
CILLIZZA: That's right.
BLITZER: I listened to it, you listened to it --
CILLIZZA: We did.
BLITZER: -- with Fox News -- on Fox News Radio with Brian Kilmeade. And he spoke about some of the criticism that he's leveled -- he was asked about some of the criticism he has leveled lately against Fox News. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I'm not happy with -- I'm not happy with Fox.
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS RADIO HOST: Yes.
TRUMP: I think -- you know, people think Fox is for me. Fox is -- is good. Look, Sean and Laura -- and Tucker has really been very good for -- well, Tucker's a little tricky, but that's OK. But he's been very good.
[17:35:07] And, you know, many of them -- and you guys in the morning, Ainsley and Steve and you, you become -- you were solid -- you know, I used to say you were a solid six, maybe a seven --
TRUMP: -- but you're getting much better. You're getting great.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: What did you think?
CILLIZZA: I mean -- so he, clearly, is a believer in state-run television and views Fox as that, that they are supposed to be, effectively, propagandas for Donald Trump.
When he says, you're -- you were good, he -- remember that Donald Trump doesn't gauge news on factual, interesting context, et cetera. He gauges it solely, is this good for me or is this bad for me? And when I say me, I don't mean the presidency, I mean Donald Trump personally.
The first name stuff -- you know, Sean and Laura, they're great -- you know, affirms everything we know. He watches a ton of cable television, right? He watches it virtually all the time. It's his lens through which he sees the world. Then he has expectations of Fox that are wholly unreasonable for someone who understands how a free and independent press works.
BLITZER: Well, I watch a lot of cable television.
CILLIZZA: Yes, hey.
BLITZER: He's not the only one. We all watch a lot, but let me get Joey --
CILLIZZA: But we would never bad mouth cable television.
BLITZER: Yes. Let me get Joey to weigh in.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Joey.
JACKSON: You know, Wolf, I just don't know, where do you find the time?
You're the leader of the free world, right? You're dealing with domestic policies and all types of issues, hurricanes coming our way, economy -- you know, we're talking about recession potentially -- don't want to mention that "R" word -- and international issues. But yet you're naming, by first name, the morning show, the night show.
JACKSON: You know, you're giving them a rating, you're a solid six, seven, but you're getting much better. I just find that amazing, his fascination, but what's worse is that it leads to policies, which leads to tweets, which leads to the government going in a direction based upon what you learn on cable news.
PHILLIP: And, Joey --
JACKSON: Which is scary.
PHILLIP: Joey, it's called executive time.
CILLIZZA: I was just going to say.
JACKSON: Executive time.
PHILLIP: That's what it's called, executive time. And --
PHILLIP: But this is -- the President is doing something that makes Fox -- even Fox uncomfortable. They like to make a distinction between what goes on during the day, the news time, and what goes on at night and early in the morning, the entertainment time. The President sees that and he is saying, why can't all of Fox be like the people that I like? These are Fox News hosts that he talks to on the phone, that are kind of, in some ways, informal advisers to him.
And he is pushing the network to do more for him. I don't think he's -- he is serious about the threat of abandoning Fox, but he certainly wants them to do more for him.
CILLIZZA: Just one quick point to Abby's executive time -- and Joey's asked how he's -- how does he have so much time. Do you know how many public events he had today? One, this afternoon, about Space Com. It was about 10 minutes long.
CILLIZZA: There's a lot of time in that to watch a lot of cable T.V., which, judging from his Twitter feed, he did.
BLITZER: He certainly does. All right, guys, stick around. There's more news we're following, including the Justice Department's Inspector General leveling new criticism at former FBI Director James Comey, this time over how he handled his meetings with President Trump. Stand by, we have details. We also will get reaction.
And later, what's behind the North Korean parliament's latest move to grant Kim Jong-un even more authority?
[17:38:18] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news as Hurricane Dorian heads toward Florida where it's expected to hit as a very powerful storm. We'll have much more on that just ahead. Also tonight, the Justice Department's Inspector General has released
a report on former FBI Director James Comey and how he handled memos about his meetings with President Trump.
Our political correspondent Sara Murray has been going through all those documents. Lengthy documents over here. I've been going through it as well. What did you discover?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf. I mean, and the Inspector General took a pretty dim view of how Comey handled these memos. They said he violated FBI rules in how handled these, and he set a dangerous precedent for current and former members of the FBI in handling this sensitive information. Although they did concede that none of the information that, ultimately, he shared through a colleague with "The New York Times," with reporters, was classified information.
Now, let's go back to when James Comey was on Capitol Hill explaining why he wanted to get these memos out here. Here he is in his testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a Special Counsel. And so, I asked a close friend of mine to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: So here is what the report concludes about Comey taking that approach. It said, Comey had several other lawful options available to him to advocate for the appointment of a Special Counsel, which he told us was his goal in making the disclosure. What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information obtained during the course of FBI employment in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.
BLITZER: Yes. I read the report, also. It said, after reviewing the matter, the Department declined prosecution, but then went on to say, as described in this report, we conclude that Comey's retention, handling, and dissemination of certain memos violated Department and FBI policies and his FBI employment agreement. So there's a lot of material out here.
MURRAY: Right, there is a lot of material. And this is one of those things, and I think you've seen this today, that you take away from it what you want to take away from it.
If you are a Republican, an ally of the President, who believes that the FBI was biased against the President and was acting inappropriately, then those are the takeaways that you're getting, that James Comey violated the rules. He acted in his own interest. He wanted to get those memos out there, essentially, to hurt Trump. [17:45:02] You know, other people would say that James Comey was a
patriot. And he was concerned about the way the President was acting, for the country, and that's why he wanted those -- those memos out there.
And Comey, you know, for his own part, took to Twitter and pointed to that line saying that no classified information was shared with journalists to say, look, I'm not a leaker, I'm not a liar, this is what I've been saying from the very beginning.
BLITZER: The President, obviously, had a different interpretation -- perhaps never in the history of our country has someone been more thoroughly disgraced and excoriated than James Comey in the just- released Inspector General's report. He should be ashamed of himself.
MURRAY: And all of this is before we get the Inspector General report on the origins of the Russia investigation.
MURRAY: So more to come.
BLITZER: More to come indeed. All right, Sara, thank you very much.
Stay with us, we'll have much more on the breaking news, the newly updated forecast for Hurricane Dorian which is taking direct aim at Florida.
And what's the real message behind the North Korean parliament's decision to change the constitution to give Kim Jong-un even more authority?
[17:50:39] BLITZER: North Korea has just bestowed more authority on the dictator, Kim Jong-un. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into why this is significant. Why -- what are you finding out, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're told this could be to bolster Kim's standing with President Trump in their ongoing nuclear talks because, frankly, the clock is ticking fast to get something done there. But this is also seen as a move that Kim wanted to make for internal consumption in North Korea, to remind his people that the Kim dynasty is unshakeable.
TODD (voice-over): His thirst for absolute power has never been in question. But tonight, Kim Jong-un's handpicked parliament has solidified the strong man's rule just in case anyone might be questioning it.
The Supreme People's Assembly just adjusted North Korea's constitution to formally make him the, quote, Supreme Leader of the Party, State, and Armed Forces of the DPRK. A symbolic move, analysts say, but one which could be important inside North Korea. MARCUS NOLAND, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF STUDIES,
PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Internally, the country is hitting a little bumpy air. The economy's not doing too well. He doesn't have anything to show for his diplomacy with Washington. So it's to reaffirm that he is in control if anybody had any doubts.
TODD (voice-over): A statement from Kim's media arm says, at least four times, that the parliament's move establishes the, quote, monolithic guidance of the Supreme Leader. It's not clear if Kim gets a formal new title, but he has already given himself enough to tumble off the side of any business card.
Among his official designations are Dear Respected Comrade, Chairman of the Workers' Party, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army. Titles one might expect of a man who was anointed as a third-generation dictator when he was a child.
ANNA FIFIELD, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT SUCCESSOR: THE DIVINELY PERFECT DESTINY OF BRILLIANT COMRADE KIM JONG-UN": At his eighth birthday party, he was presented with this little general's uniform, an olive green uniform with epaulets and brass buttons. And he was called the Little General, Comrade General, and real generals came in to his birthday party and saluted him and bowed to him.
TODD (voice-over): Analysts say his newly bolstered authority follows the structure set up by his revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, who many believe Kim Jong-un tries to emulate. Opinions vary as to whether Kim is now more powerful than his grandfather was or not, but experts believe this latest move could boost the 35-year-old in his dealings with President Trump.
NOLAND: This could be seen internally as reaffirming his primacy and dominance and giving him kind of extra status for any negotiations with the United States.
TODD (voice-over): Trump and Kim have met three times. The first in Singapore ended with promises but no action. At the second, their failed summit in Hanoi, Trump walked out. And this summer, they had a handshake and a brief chat at the DMZ where they simply promised each other to keep talking.
Experts say Kim, like Trump, is under serious pressure to strike a nuclear deal.
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER UNITED STATES SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: Tremendous pressure. I mean, in Hanoi, as you know, Kim Jong-un went back very, very angry. He changed his team. And so, it was an abject failure for Kim Jong-un. And by the way, you know, North Korean leaders don't do failures.
TODD: Could this latest adjustment to Kim Jong-un's authority be designed to head off any threat from inside North Korea? Analysts say it's not likely that the dictator is facing any significant threats internally at the moment, but they say that could change if the North Korean economy really spirals further or if Kim leads North Korea into some kind of military conflict which might lead his generals to turn against him, Wolf.
BLITZER: But, Brian, on the security front with the region as a whole, Kim might have an advantage now because South Korea and Japan, they are squabbling.
TODD: That's right, Wolf. South Korea recently did pull out of its intelligence sharing agreement with Japan because of other disputes that those two countries are having. U.S. officials are very upset about that. They're saying South Korea's move is increasing the risk to U.S. forces in South Korea.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Brian, thank you.
Coming up, the breaking news. State of emergencies are up in Florida, parts of Georgia, as Hurricane Dorian is expected to make landfall as a very powerful storm.
[17:54:52] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Category 4. That's the forecast for Hurricane Dorian's power and fury when it's expected to crash into the southeastern coast. Tonight, more than 20 million people in Florida and Georgia, they are bracing for a potential Labor Day disaster.