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THE SITUATION ROOM
Camp David Peace Talks With The Taliban "Dead"; Bahamian Evacuees Seeking Asylum Denied U.S. Entry; Wilbur Ross Threatens To Fire NOAA Officials On Trump Tweets; House Judiciary Committee To Vote On Rules For Impeachment; U.S. Spy Extracted From Russia In 2017 Amid Worry About Exposure And Trump's Handling Of Intel; Dire Situation In The Bahamas, 70,000 Homeless; North Korea Says It's Ready To Resume Nuclear Talks With U.S. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 9, 2019 - 17:00 ET
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, "I took my own advice." President Trump says it was his own idea to cancel secret peace talks with the Taliban at Camp David against the backdrop of the 9/11 anniversary. Now, amid fierce backlash, he's declaring negotiations dead.
Threatening weather. A new report tonight says that top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were threatened with dismissal after weather officials in Alabama contradicted President Trump's incorrect claim that Hurricane Dorian was threatening the state.
70,000 homeless as the plight of the hurricane victims grows increasingly desperate, dozens seeking refuge in the United States are turned away. Tonight, President Trump is unleashing familiar anti- immigrant rhetoric, warning of gang members and drug dealers among the refugees.
And ready to talk, again. North Korea makes a new overture to the Trump administration with the regime now saying it is ready to restart nuclear negotiations in a matter of weeks. Does Kim Jong-un sense desperation on President Trump's part? I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
This is CNN breaking news.
We're following breaking news, President Trump declaring peace talks with the Taliban dead. But he's also defending his now canceled plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David for a secret summit that would have taken place around the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.
Also breaking this hour, "The New York Times" is reporting that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that followed a tweet from the weather service office in Alabama that contradicted President Trump's claim about Hurricane Dorian threatening the state.
We'll talk about that and all the breaking news with Congressman Jim Himes of the intelligence committee and our correspondent and analysts standing by. First, let's go to our White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She is in North Carolina for us.
Kaitlan, the president is getting ready to attend a pretty large rally there tonight.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he is Wolf. But before he left the White House, he spoke about that canceled summit, a summit he hoped would end America's longest running war.
But was a meeting that was put together at the last minute after a push by the president even though as they were negotiating the details of inviting Taliban leaders to Camp David, some of his top National Security advisers were pushing back.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump declared U.S. peace talks with the Taliban dead after his abrupt announcement and cancellation of a secret summit with the group's leaders.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned they're dead.
COLLINS (voice-over): The clandestine meeting was kept under wraps until he tweeted about it, announcing he was calling it off because the Taliban admitted to a suicide attack that killed an American soldier and 11 others.
TRUMP: The only reason I canceled that meeting is because they killed one of our soldiers.
COLLINS (voice-over): But sources say there was more to it than that.
TRUMP: It was my idea and it was my idea to terminate it.
COLLINS (voice-over): Trump pushed for the last minute summit after growing unhappy with the status of the talks and thought he, the dealmaker-in-chief, could get last minute concessions from the Taliban in a presidential setting.
TRUMP: In terms of advisers, I took my own advice.
COLLINS (voice-over): Despite that claim, not many agreed with his tactic or his venue. Including Vice President Mike Pence and National Security adviser John Bolton, who argued holding a summit on U.S. soil with the leaders of the group that harbor the al Qaeda terrorists behind 9/11 was a bad idea.
TRUMP: The alternative was the White House and you wouldn't have been happy with that either.
COLLINS (voice-over): That's not how Democrats or Republicans see it.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESDIENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn't a game show. These are terrorists.
REP. MICHAEL WALTZ, (R-FL): I do not ever want to see these terrorists step foot on United States soil, period.
COLLINS (voice-over): Trump says the talks are off, his Secretary of State says they're off for now.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It will ultimately be up to the Taliban.
COLLINS (voice-over): But sources tell CNN new dates for another meeting are already being discussed. While Trump was willing to let the leaders of the Taliban visit the U.S., he says he's not so sure about the hurricane survivors from the Bahamas.
TRUMP: The bahamas got hit like no thing that I ever have seen.
COLLINS (voice-over): After dozens of people seeking refuge, but without a U.S. visa were kicked off a ferry headed for Ft. Lauderdale.
TRUMP: I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come in to the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.
COLLINS (voice-over): Customs and Border Patrol says the ferry operator is to blame. But Trump said he agrees with the move.
TRUMP: Everybody needs totally proper documentation.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, the president will tour storm damage in North Carolina before hosting a rally in the state.
TRUMP: We're going to be stopping at one of the sites that got hit very hard by the hurricane.
COLLINS (voice-over): As he works overtime to keep the ninth district Republican red.
COLLINS (on camera): And, Wolf, we just learned that President Trump is no longer going to be able to tour that storm damage because of bad weather here in North Carolina. So instead, he'll get a briefing from officials on Air Force One, a briefing about the impacts of Hurricane Dorian. As we are now learning "The New York Times" is reporting that the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top officials at NOAA after the agency's Birmingham office contradicted the president after he had falsely claimed that Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.
That is what led to NOAA issuing that long interesting statement on Friday night that was not signed by any officials and rebutted their own claims about whether or not the hurricane could impact Alabama. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thank you. Kaitlan Collins in North Carolina for us. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee is now poised to take a key step forward, this week, in its impeachment investigation of President Trump.
Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, lawmakers will vote on a resolution defining the parameters of their impeachment probe. Does that mean an impeachment inquiry is under way?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee will say it is in fact under way, that there is an impeachment investigation happening and Thursday's vote, which is a sensible lay out exactly how the hearings will take place procedurally in the days and weeks ahead.
It shows that they're doing exactly that, investigating whether or not to impeach the president of the United States. Now, I just had a chance to ask the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, whether or not she agrees that they are in an impeachment investigation. She wouldn't exactly say.
She said they have been investigating for some time, Russian interference as well as the president's apparent misconduct while in office. But when I asked her if she agreed with what the chairman of the Judiciary Committee had said, that there are in formal impeachment proceedings, she said, "I really don't know what the chairman said. I do know that we have been on a path to investigate and that includes a possibility of legislation or impeachment"
Now Wolf, Democrats and Republicans have been on a summer recess. They just got back today. They're weighing their next steps. Democrats have been hearing a range of issues from their constituents, some told me today that their voters are getting impatient while others are urging caution. Take a listen.
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RAJU: (Inaudible) there yet on impeachment?
REP. ADAM SCHIF (D-CA): I would like to have a chance to weigh the consequences of this so I haven't made a firm judgment. I'm keeping an open mind, but I would like to be able to do this investigation.
RAJU: How did they react when you explained to them the process? REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): They're still a little impatient. I
think when every day there is fresh news reports of un-presidential conduct, of further conflicts of interest, people are impatient.
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RAJU: Now, the decision ultimately will be whether or not the committee will recommend articles of impeachment and will vote -- the full House would vote after the committee would take such a dramatic step. The goal of this committee, I'm told, is to get that done, make that recommendation by the end of the year.
But one thing that could hold the committee up, Wolf, is what will happen in all those court fights. Will they drag on particularly trying to get the former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify? We don't expect a ruling before November, but then the appeals process could drag out. So, ultimately, the question is when do Democrats decide to move forward or will the courts will push this into 2020, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. And now a CNN exclusive, a secret mission to extract a top U.S. spy from Russia. We're told it was driven in part by President Trump's mishandling of very sensitive classified intelligence. Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto broke the story for us. Jim, excellent reporting. Tell our viewers what you've learned about this previously undisclosed mission.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you, Wolf. Multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge tell me that in this previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the U.S. successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest level covert sources inside the Russian government.
A person directly involved in the discussion said that the removal of the Russian was driven in part by concerns that President Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence, which could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
Now, the decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and then Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
The intelligence concerning ISIS in Syria have been provided by Israel. The disclosure to the Russians by the president, though not about the Russian spy specifically, did prompt intelligence officials to renew discussions about the potential risk of exposure. This according to a source directly involved in the matter.
At the time, then CIA director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out in public regarding the asset.
BLITZER: Jim, this wasn't the first time they were concerned about this asset being exposed.
SCIUTTO: No, that's right and that context is important. At the end of the Obama administration, some several months before, U.S. intelligence officials had already expressed concerns about the safety of this spy and other Russian assets, given the length of their cooperation with the U.S., this according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official.
Those concerns grew in early 2017 after the U.S. Intelligence Committee released its public report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which said that Putin himself had ordered the operation.
The intelligence community at the time also shared a classified version of the report, with the incoming Trump administration, that included information on sources and methods behind the intelligence. At the time, senior U.S. intelligence officials considered extracting at least one Russian asset but did not do so.
According to the former senior intelligence official, the meeting with the Russians in the Oval Office raised new concerns in the intel community which continued to grow. And I should note this because none of these incidents happening in isolation.
Weeks after, the decision to extract the covert source, the president met privately with Russian President Putin at the G0 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Afterward, I'm told, U.S. intelligence officials again expressed concern that the president may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia. This according to an intelligence source with knowledge of the intel community's response to the Trump/Putin meeting.
BLITZER: Jim, what's been the administration's response?
SCIUTTO: Well, of course, we reached out to the administration as well as the CIA. A U.S. official tells me -- suggested there was media speculation at the time about the covert operative, but could not point to any public reporting about it.
Asked for comment, Brittany Bramell, the CIA Director of Public Affairs told CNN, "CNN's narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false. Misguided speculation that the president's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence which he has access to each and every day drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate."
A spokesperson for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment for the story. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "CNN's reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger."
However, I should not this. This removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intel community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration. And those concerns were described to me by five sources who served in the Trump administration, the intelligence agencies, and Congress.
And, Wolf, as a final note, I should mention that CNN is withholding several details about the spy to reduce the risk of this person's identification, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, terrific reporting as I said. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much for that.
BLITZER: Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut is joining us. He is a member of the intelligence committee. Congressman thanks so much for joining us. What is your reaction to this exclusive new report we just heard from Jim?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, Wolf, as you might guess, I can't go near the details of this story with a 10-foot pole. You know, sources, the treatment of sources and the methods used by our intelligence community are some of the most sensitive matters so I can't touch the story.
What I can tell you -- I can give you a little bit of background though, Wolf, which is I'll offer you two points. Number one, this is a president who has demonstrated time and time again that he's pretty sloppy with classified information. Just a couple of weeks ago, of course, he tweeted a satellite photograph of the destruction around an Iranian missile.
That -- you need to understand that there is absolutely no upside to doing that. And I don't know if that particular photograph disclosed capabilities or, you know, what technology can do, but there is zero upside to doing that because it could.
The president in a tweet discussing the explosion in northeastern Russia made an awful lot of people uncomfortable because again, it was disclosing to people what we knew. And so this president has a long track record of being pretty sloppy in his use of classified information.
Now, remember, Wolf, he is the declassifying authority. That means if he says something is not classified, it is not classified. But nonetheless, the intelligence community and people like me are very, very worried about the very loose attitude he takes to it.
The other thing I'll say, Wolf, in this, again, I can't go near the specifics of this case, but people do need to understand that all over the world, our intelligence community does have sources and these are people who very literally put their life at risk to help the United States.
And quite often they do it because they ideologically agree with what we stand for in terms of freedom and an open society. And having spent a lot of time around the intelligence community in these last several years, we make the ultimate commitment to those people and that we say, look, we may pay you for this information, but if you help us, we will make sure that no harm comes to you or to your family.
Now again, let me stress I'm not making any reference to this particular case, but the intelligence community in the United States, the CIA, makes sure that they protect and give confidence to the people who choose to work with them in the service of the United States national security.
BLITZER: Very good perspective indeed. Let's turn to some of the other breaking news, Congressman, we're following. As you heard, "The New York Times" now reporting that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, for tweets contradicting President Trump's claim that Hurricane Dorian might actually hit Alabama. What is your reaction to that report?
HIMES: Well, it is pretty clear. If that story is true, and I don't know that it is, but if that story is true, the commerce secretary needs to resign now. That would be the most blatant use of an official position in the service of the ego and the political fortunes of the president that we have ever seen.
And in this case, it is particularly serious because, of course, you know, issues around weather forecasting, ships rely on that, communities rely on that, people make decisions about whether a hurricane is coming or if it is not.
By the way, the Commerce Department also provides all of the data on the United States economy, which is used by our businesses, and by people who watch the United States economy. So if the commerce secretary is saying I don't care what's true, here is what the president wants, he needs to go and he needs to go yesterday.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the president's scheduling and then canceling a Camp David summit with the Taliban. What message did the president send by even considering this meeting in the first place?
HIMES: Well, I'll say two things about that. Number one, I do support the president and his goal to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. It is our longest war now. It is not a situation that is getting better. I've been there many times and I always hear well, we're just on the brink of it getting better and it never turns out to be the case.
So, I absolutely do support the president's efforts to strike a deal that will get the United States out of Afghanistan. Now, second thing, let's remember, the Taliban are not the Israelis and the Egyptians. You think of the Camp David accords that brought together, you know, those two parties.
The Taliban are a murderous, backward looking, you know, sect of people that want us all living in the ninth century. They want women in the homes. They kill women who want to get educated. And by the way, they harbored the people who attacked us on 9/11. So they do not get in front of a camera under any circumstances, much less at the kind of stage that Camp David or the White House provides.
So, what I would say to this president, I think I did say to this president via social media, is please, make a deal. We need to deal with some pretty nasty people in our own interests, but do not give these guys a platform especially so close to the anniversary of 9/11.
Can you imagine what it would be like for a -- I've got an awful lot of them in my district -- a family who lost somebody in 9/11 to see the president shaking the hands of the people who harbored the terrorists who committed that act? So, again, let's get a deal done, but no Trump-like theatrics. This is not a game show. This is not reality T,V. Do a deal, do it quietly, get our troops out of Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Congressman Jim Himes, thanks for your perspective. I appreciate it very much.
HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The breaking news continues next. We'll have more on this "New York Times" report. The top weather officials were actually threatened with firing after a weather service tweet contradicted President Trump about Hurricane Dorian.
BLITZER: Breaking news now, "The New York Times" is reporting that the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. That followed a tweet from the weather service office in Alabama that flatly contradicted President Trump's claim at that moment about Hurricane Dorian threatening Alabama which at that time it was not threatening Alabama. What do you think about that, Chris?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I wish I could say I'm surprised. But if you watched this administration, I don't think you should be surprised. And the reason for that is simple. Donald Trump, according to the "Washington Post" count, has said more than 12,000 things that are literally false or misleading during his presidency.
That has an impact generally speaking when the president of the United States says things that are false, right? But it has more than an impact just on the president and what he says. It is -- it sets a tone and a culture that trickles down into the administration.
And I frankly worry into our broader society and culture that it is more important to make the boss happy than it is to adhere to the truth. It is more important to listen to the president of the United States, not a meteorologist, than to people who are trained in the weather. That should concern all of us.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL: SECURITY ANALYST: But let's be clear, we're not just talking about a weather forecast, whether or not you need an umbrella for the day.
HENNESSEY: We're talking about the federal government telling people whether they're not there in the path of a hurricane. Staying whenever you're supposed to be evacuating is dangerous. Evacuating with whenever you don't need to evacuate is dangerous. This is important public health and safety information.
The American people need to know that they can trust the government and rely on that information. The idea that the president would have made sort of these outlandish claims over the past week is bad enough. Now, to know that not only are cabinet members threatening to fire people for telling the truth about basic information, we're talking about eroding confidence in really, really important public information.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's really what this is all about. These departments and agencies are there to provide assessments, both within the U.S. government and to the American public that are based on facts, that are based on the realities on the ground and not driven by the whims of a president who doesn't want to acknowledge he got something wrong.
The White House could have just said, he made a mistake and move on. But instead, they're trying to take punitive actions against people, public servants, for doing their jobs and, you know, to Susan's point, this is a public safety issue, but this is how, as we have seen time and again, the president views his administration.
He believes that all these departments and agencies are there to service him, not to service the American public and to punish people, because they didn't toe the White House line. That is a creep toward authoritarianism. That's not what we do in this country.
BLITZER: And it sends beyond a horrible message to career professionals, experts at the weather service, who are trying to make sure people in Alabama know what's going on, not what might have happened a few days ago, an assessment four or five days earlier.
But at that particular moment, they wanted to reassure people in Alabama, don't worry, there is no hurricane threat facing you right now, irrespective of what the president might say.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: These experts that were thrown under the bus by their own superiors, Wolf, and experts that could in many regards get more better paying jobs in the private sector, yet, here they are performing their duties to protect U.S. citizens, only to have to deal with this now over a week later.
And what makes this so frightening is that it is not just this one tweet the president sent. Think about the subject from a larger perspective. A hurricane is something this president cannot be blamed for. It is not his fault. What will happen if they go to these lengths to protect the president and his ego? What would happen if something does occur with the economy, something the president can be blamed for?
If we have a geopolitical crisis, something the president can be blamed for. What lengths will the president and those who support him in his cabinet go to protect him versus disseminating the truth to the American public?
CILLIZZA: And just one other quick thing on this. I really do think that one thing we lose, while all of these machinations were going on, the reversal of the statement, Wilbur Ross allegedly, you know, saying he'll fire people who disagree with the president, the president putting out map after map.
North Carolina and South Carolina were being hit by this hurricane. This is, again, this is the point. Whether or not Donald Trump was right about Alabama -- he wasn't -- there were Americans in the path of a natural disaster. And to bend this much government time, energy and money to try to prove a point is remarkable and to be honest, quite scary about the future in what it means.
BLITZER: You just heard Congressman Jim Himes say, if this "New York Times" report is correct, Wilbur Ross should be fired. Other members of Congress are also beginning to say exactly the same thing. Much more right after a quick break.
BLITZER: We're back to our experts. Another very sensitive story that we're following, exclusive reporting by our Jim Sciutto, Bianna, that the U.S. actually had to remove a high-level covert asset from Russia back in 2017 in part because of concerns that the President, in meetings with Russian officials, may have mishandled some very, very sensitive classified information, intelligence, and that that high- level covert access -- that asset could have been compromised.
GOLODRYGA: That's great reporting by Jim Sciutto, but it does fit a pattern that we've seen from this president since before he was even elected. If you go back to January of 2017, prior to his inauguration, you had reports of the Israeli Mossad giving the CIA a heads up about their concern about how any -- the President may be vulnerable with regards to Russia and any information shared between the two of them.
Then you fast-forward to the -- obviously, that summit in Helsinki, the two-hour meeting, where it was only the President and Vladimir Putin. You talk about what happened just recently a few months ago in Osaka, Japan, another one-on-one meeting between the two of them. And so many questions remain as to what took place, what did they talk about.
You look at the outcome, and some of the geopolitical decisions that this president has made seem to be favoring Vladimir Putin and Russia with regards to Syria, with regards to, perhaps, even Afghanistan. Now, there are reports with Ukraine. Where this administration had, at one point, said that they would be arming the Ukrainians, now they seem to be walking that back.
One has to stand back and scratch your head, wondering why does this, all of a sudden, seem to be benefiting, out of all people, Vladimir Putin the most.
BLITZER: Now, Susan, you used to work at the NSA. What's the cost of losing a high-level asset like this in Russia?
HENNESSEY: Yes, I don't think you have to have an intelligence background to understand how incredibly valuable it could be to have a highly-placed source within the Russian government as a matter of intelligence collection. You don't have to be a national security specialist to understand how dangerous it could be were that person's identity to become known. Not just too dangerous for the interests of the United States, but dangerous to that individual person.
But, look, what's most astonishing about the story, and I agree that it is really a great reporting by our colleague -- you know, is that the source of the threat here is the President of the United States and concerns about whether or not he could keep this information safe.
And as Bianna laid out, there have been concerns about President Trump's reckless handling of classified information from the very beginning. And, you know, right, he stood in the Oval Office with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and shared classified information reportedly from an ally, Israeli intelligence, about ISIS with the Russian Ambassador just for the heck of it, for no strategic purpose whatsoever.
He is allowed to do that. As the President of the United States, he is allowed to classify or declassify information as he sees fit. But it's a breach of his oath of office, it's a breach of his obligation to people who risk their lives, who serve in silence in order to, you know, and -- defend and protect this country. And so, look, if people want a president who is reasonable in safeguarding classified information, the only way to get that is to vote for one.
SIDDIQUI: It's remarkable that the Commander-in-Chief cannot be trusted with classified information. This is someone who has the authority to lead the country into war. The fact that the government had to take this very unusual step of having to remove that individual from Russia because of the President's conduct signal that they had reason to fear for that individual's security, for that person's safety.
Now, they've lost someone who had a deep understanding of the inner workings of the Russian government, which is a key adversary of the United States. We now know less about what they are doing, what their intentions are toward the U.S., and it also fits into this pattern of the President's repeated deference to Russia. We don't know what he said to Vladimir Putin in many of those meetings, and he continues to seem to prioritize the Kremlin's interests over those of his own government. CILLIZZA: And it's just -- it's not just among classified
information. We've seen this time and time again where Donald Trump, among people around him, is not trusted, or they don't believe he should be trusted with information because they are afraid he will do something with it he shouldn't. This would suggest that that fear is well-rounded.
BLITZER: And there are reports out there the Israelis have held back certain information because they felt they were burned in this particular case. Let's follow up on that front as well.
Everybody, stand by, there's more news we're following. An update from the Bahamas where at least 70,000 people are now homeless and in desperate need of food and shelter.
BLITZER: We're following the desperate situation in the Bahamas. Authorities now say at least 70,000 people are homeless. Today, the power company that serves the islands called conditions dire in the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian.
CNN's Paula Newton is in the Bahamas for us. Paula, what are you seeing?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, each story, one more heartbreaking than the next. I just spoke to a woman who lost her mother, her father, her brother. She told me this while holding her brother's child. And yet she says, Wolf, she is the lucky one because she knows where her loved ones are and what happened to them. Take a listen.
NEWTON (voice-over): Tonight, survivors of Hurricane Dorian are terrified of what they may face next. Winis Louisdor is frantic. She hasn't seen her cousin since Dorian flattened Marsh Harbour more than a week ago.
She says Leonard Fredlett (ph) is a quiet, generous, 33-year-old contractor.
WINIS LOUISDOR, HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: I hope they find him. I hope so. He just had a son. (INAUDIBLE) he says yes. I hope they find him. I hope so.
People tell us, while he was swimming, water hit him and broke an arm. I don't know if that's the reason why -- of course, like he can't swim no more because he's dead. I don't know.
NEWTON (voice-over): Evacuated just a few days ago, Louisdor tells us it's been tough to even know where or how to start looking for her cousin. For that reason, Vanessa Pritchard started DorianPeopleSearch.com.
With a handful of volunteers and her laptop, the list is a living document of the missing and located and a place to start for so many.
VANESSA PRITCHARD-ANSELL, STARTED DORIANPEOPLESEARCH.COM: There are still people missing, and we have to look at the timeline of where we are, how many days has it been since Dorian passed over the Abacos, how many days has it been since Dorian sat over Grand Bahama for 40 straight hours. And so that's -- you know, that's hard. That's really hard.
NEWTON (voice-over): And survivors are still coping with so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miranda (ph) needs to go to the doctor because she was having some back pains, and she's six months pregnant.
NEWTON (voice-over): Anne Wilmore (ph) in Marsh Harbour has so much on her mind, she hasn't even had time to report one of her relatives as missing, let alone look for her. It's one of the reasons that getting an accurate number of those missing and feared dead has been so difficult to come by. And it adds to the agonizing administrative details now so frustrating survivors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All passengers who don't have U.S. visas, please proceed to disembark.
NEWTON (voice-over): In Freeport, dozens of desperate evacuees on a ferry bound for the U.S. were told to get off the boat as they didn't have visas. U.S. Border and Customs Patrol says the ferry company should have coordinated with them, and it wouldn't have happened. But it was too late for so many.
NEWTON: I mean, Wolf, can you imagine, they thought they were that close to getting out of the horrific situation they were in, and they were told to get off. Hopefully, most of them got back out.
We're here at the main shelter in Nassau. Wolf, the conditions are not so great. They tell us the Bahamian government is trying with all they can, especially with that support with the U.S. government, but so many tough weeks -- weeks and months ahead, Wolf, for so many.
BLITZER: Yes, it's going to be so, so difficult. Very heart- breaking. Paula Newton on the scene for us, thank you.
Coming up, North Korea signals it's ready to resume talks with the United States, but the offer also contains a threat. How is President Trump reacting?
[17:51:23] BLITZER: North Korea says it's ready to resume stalled nuclear
negotiations with the Trump administration. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, the timing of Kim -- the Kim regime's overture is noteworthy.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf, because the North Koreans' offer came just a little bit more than a day after President Trump's diplomatic deal with the Taliban collapsed. Analysts say, by making this offer now, the North Koreans could be showing they think President Trump and his team are getting desperate for a deal.
TODD (voice-over): North Korea's calculating young dictator may now sense there's something in the air. A new window to make a nuclear deal with President Trump.
One of Kim Jong-un's top diplomats tonight saying his regime is ready to start talking with the Trump administration again as soon as later this month. Still, the overture comes with a threat, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui saying if the U.S. tries, quote, the worn-out scenario, the DPRK-U.S. dealings may come to an end.
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER UNITED STATES SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: They really do sense desperation on the part of the Trump administration. Over the last few days, you've seen the Afghanistan deal fall apart. This cannot happen to the North Korea deal.
TODD (voice-over): Indeed, in recent days, Trump's top diplomats, including his Secretary of State, have spoken publicly about their eagerness to get nuclear negotiations going again.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are hopeful that, in the coming days or perhaps weeks, we'll be back at the negotiating table with them.
TODD (voice-over): Today, the President himself responded to the North Korean statement with his typically vague optimism.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens, but I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing.
TODD (voice-over): But the clock is ticking. Kim has given the Americans until the end of this year to make more progress on a nuclear deal. Trump is facing a re-election campaign starting soon, where analysts say he may feel he needs to show some progress with North Korea.
Three meetings between the men have produced nothing, and Kim has recently been perfecting his short-range missiles with provocative test launches. Tonight, analysts say the two sides could now be setting their sights a little lower than striking a comprehensive nuclear deal at once. BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW FOR NORTHEAST ASIA, THE
HERITAGE FOUNDATION: If North Korea agreed to the end zone, then it could be implemented in 10-yard increments. If they agree to the all of fissile production freeze, perhaps that would be enough as an interim step if they committed to denuclearization in the long term.
TODD (voice-over): But that's a commitment that one veteran diplomat believes Kim and his regime will never make.
EVANS REVERE, NONRESIDENT SENIOR FELLOW OF THE CENTER FOR EAST ASIA POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The dialog has always been aimed at getting an answer to a fundamental question -- is North Korea prepared to give up its nuclear weapons program? And I continue to believe, after three encounters between our leaders, we now have the answer to that question, and the answer is a very clear and definitive no.
TODD (voice-over): As for the North Koreans' latest offer, the State Department would only say it doesn't have any meetings to announce at this time.
TODD: Analysts say the administration probably doesn't want to be too quick to jump on the North Koreans' latest overture, but that we can probably expect a summit sometime in the next few months. A summit where there will be incredible pressure on both men to come up with some progress on a nuclear deal, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting.
There's breaking news coming up next. President Trump declares talks with the Taliban dead as he faces backlash for planning to host terrorist leaders at Camp David for a secret summit.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Killing the talks. President Trump says negotiations with Afghanistan's Taliban leaders are dead after he called off a secret meeting at Camp David, but that's not diffusing the backlash over his willingness to host terrorists on U.S. soil.
Firing storm. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly threatened to fire top weather officials after the President's false claim that Alabama might be hit by Hurricane Dorian was contradicted.