tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN September 19, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT
. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> there's breaking news we are following here in the united states. this morning. i am wolf blitzer in washington. hurricane maria taking direct aim at puerto rico, and dominica as a category 5 monster. the prime minister said they lost all money can buy and replace. we are watching the monster storm's path. let's go to our meteorologist, chad meyers, for the latest. how's it looking? >> we have had contact. if you remember what happened to barbuda, we did not have contact for eight to ten hours but at least now we have had contact with the prime minister. the eyewall made landfall on the island of dominica. the worst side was the north tip but on the backside, that also
saw significant wind damage and all the higher elevations. think about this, wolf. hurricane hunter just flew through the storm and at 600 feet above sea level found a wind gusts at 188 miles per hour. the higher you go in a hurricane the higher the wind speed as well. then guadeloupe did see a significant impact with the northern eyewall and now it's back in the ocean gaining more strength. this is still a very big storm. likely to be a category 4 or 5 landfall in puerto rico. the entire island is still inside the cone, but this would be khreb raw and all the way down to elsongwua, and then over
the city of san juan. puerto rico has 3.5 people, and it's a significant increase in the population and infrastructure. how many power lines are up and how many power lines will come down with this storm. the storm does turn to the right. every single model does take it away from the u.s. the u.s. is also down here. the u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico will see 10 to 15 inches of rainfall and that could cause more flash flooding, so we have everything. we have storm surge and flooding and mudslides and significant wind damage with this storm right over the u.s. v.i. and b.v.i. >> president trump already issued an emergency declaration for puerto rico, and the island is bracing for what could be the most powerful hurricane to hit
there certainly within the past 85 years. our correspondent, nick valencia is joining us from san juan right now. i assume folks are making major preparations? >> reporter: the preparations are well under way and have been. we are seeing behind us, shutters being put up at the hotel we are staying at and boarding up small businesses and anxiety. we are nowhere near the height of the storm but conditions already deteriorating. a while ago we saw a wall of rain form out in the distance in the ocean, and clouds eating up what is left of the blue sky. it's an ominous warning of government officials here, and earlier the governor spoke to cnn's "new day" and said this could be as bad as it gets. >> some people might think that -- might not really understand the magnitude of the
hurricane and might not think it will hit us hard but all indications are this is going to hit us hard and be catastrophic. >> reporter: there's still noticeable damage here in the areas, roofs on parts of the island still devastated. there are still people without power in the community. you can only imagine the emotion that people here are going through, just gotten over one hurricane and looking down the eye of another. wolf? >> nick in san juan, good luck over there. just minutes from now donald trump leaving to make his world stage appearance. he will speak before the united nations general assembly, an institution founded on global leadership and alliances.
he said the speech will be deeply philosophical. let's go to u.n. headquarters and set the scene. this will be a very important speech, jeff. >> reporter: indeed it will, wolf, good morning. donald trump has been unsparing in his criticism of the united nations. when he was running for president he said it was not a friend of freedom, but today when he walks into the hall of the united nations general assembly and stands before a group of 170 other world leaders, he officially becomes part of the club. he's softening his criticism considerably, which is a more measured tone. in reality here, wolf, he knows he needs the united nations security council particularly on north korea and other sanctions as they are increasingly showing their nuclear program and the ambitions of what it can do.
we are told he is going to focus considerably on north korea in the speech today, and he's foeing to call it a menace and talk about the iran nuclear agreement. this is another chance for the world leaders to take a measure of this president, to get a firsthand look and feel of his america first agenda. he tweeted this morning a preview, perhaps, of what is to come. it's a big day at the united nations. many good things, some tricky ones happening. we have got a good team behind us. tricky ones, perhaps an underestimate wolf, the challenge facing this president particularly on north korea and the rising nuclear threat. we expect him to talk about the fact that there are military options as well as other diplomatic options. wolf, the leaders here, hearing from president trump for the first time in this setting, no doubt one of the biggest foreign policy speeches -- the biggest foreign policy speech he has
given with so many challenges facing this president, wolf. >> thanks very much. i am joined by the state department spokeswoman. heather, thanks for joining us. a big day in the u.s. foreign policy. as you know the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, nikki haley, she says at the u.n., the president, president trump, in her words slaps the right people and hugs the right people. how are we going to see that play out in this speech this morning? >> the president is looking forward to addressing the members of the united nations today. it's a big speech for the president and we will see him talk about his approach of realism and that's where we will continue to promote american interests and bring greater stability to the world and encourage other countries to have strong sovereignty and the countries with strong sovereignty can work best with
other nations to address what is in front of us, like north korea. it's not the united states that stands against north korea, it's actually the world. we have seen that best at the u.n. security council. >> people are anxiously awaiting what the president has to say about the north korean threat in his speech today. how close is the u.s. to war with north korea right now? >> well, i think everybody needs to calm down the rhetoric a little bit. first of all, diplomacy is the preferred approach. that's our first line in dealing with north korea. i work for secretary tillerson and for the president as well and the american people, so to speak, and one of the things i can tell you, the secretary, when he sits down with nations all across the world, and countries you may never think of have a relationship with north korea. they could kick out north korea guest workers who are slave workers, and you have seen them in african nations, you name it,
and they make money and the government confiscates all of it, if not most of it, and that goes back to the north korean illegal nuclear program, not the people themselves. tillerson has that campaign and he keeps forwarding that and advancing that. you heard secretary ma knewtion talk about countries that do business with north korea, and that's a piece of it. and the military piece of it as well, and the first approach is always diplomacy and we are pushing ahead with that. >> as you know, most of north korea's business is with china. 90% -- without china, north korea is out of business for all practical purposes. will -- >> you're right. >> will the president be specific in going after china and urging china to stop all
trade, for example, with north korea? >> excellent point, and you are correct, china is a huge piece of this and russia is a huge piece as well, and a good sign that russia and china signed on to the last resolutions, two of them, and that's a step in the right direction. the president has an upcoming trip to china later this year in which he will continue the conversations with china's president. whether the president will call them out today in the speech, that i don't know, but we are working with china to put pressure on them peacefully with north korea. >> and the trump administration and your state secretary, and
will the state department certify at that time that iran remains in compliance with the nuclear agreement? >> look, our whole iran policy review is still under way. i don't want to get ahead of what the policy review will be. you are talking about the j.c.p.o.a., and that's just one part of how we look at the issue of iran. that just deals with the nuclear part. certainly an important part of it, but this administration prefers to look at the totality of our relationship with the regime and iran, and what iran does. we have seen incredibly destabilizing activities from the regime and iran, including crisis in yemen, which is people are at near starvation point, and we saw the kraoeus in syria because iran is sending weapons to hezbollah there. iran is probably going to be somewhat part of what is going
bad. we are taking an over all look and approach of how we view iran and i don't want to get ahead of that but it's coming up soon. >> i know you have to run but one final question before we let you go. au and it was said america will pay a high cost from the trump scraps the deal. will you respond? >> i will not respond to every world leader rhetoric. if i may mention, i know you have been talking about the hurricane, hurricane maria, the state department was a huge part of getting americans into safety from the last round of hurricanes, and if i can just encourage any americans traveling down there or any americans here who have loved ones in the region to sign up for the state department's step program, and that allows us to get in contact with americans if
we need to in emergency situations, and that would apply to hurricanes or disasters around the world, and we hope and pray that everybody goes well for american citizens and others in the region. >> the hurricane looks awful. >> it certainly does. >> we're watching it carefully. >> doing important work over there. thank you for all that. heather is the spokeswoman at the states department. and joining us now is our chief international correspondent, and joining us live from the u.n. you had this important interview christian, and what is the expectation based on everything you are hearing? will the u.s. continue to certify iran remains in compliance? >> very interesting to hear the state department spokesperson.
i was sitting in the french area, and i will interview the president of france. he tkroedeveloped a friendly relationship with president trump, although admits and so do his people there are areas of agreement and disagreement. one of the areas of disagreement is about the iran nuclear deal. and they believe particularly in this context, where you have nuclear crisis emanating from north korea, you do not want to throw away an agreement that actually controls and secures the nuclear element of iranian policy. i put that to the iranian president and he said, as you mention to the state department, there would be a price to pay, but he also put it in the context of trying to get north korea to abide by the international community's will. >> i think what the iranian experience shows is a good
experience of what could be executed elsewhere, but keep in mind, please, if the united states wishes to with draw from the jcpoa, why would the north koreans waste their time to sit around the table of dialogue with the united states, because they would think perhaps after years of talks and potential agreement the next administration could step over or pull out of the agreement achieved. >> so there he is saying in context of deals and honoring deals, but when he said to me that, you know, the u.s. and the rest of the world would pay a price for pulling out what he actually means is, that means iran will go back to the predeal days where they would be rapidly inreaching uranium, and if -- the president was clear not to impose sanctions on iran. here, about to speak to the
french president in the context of what you have been reporting, the breaking news, hurricane irma and maria and harvey, and the french president wants to persuade trump on pulling out of the climate change deal. there's a lot more news happening right now, including wiretapping. cnn broke the story first. the u.s. government was listening in on former trump campaign chairman, paul manafort, before and after the presidential election. what did they find out? minutes ago, president trump's long time attorney and confident, there you see him, he arrived on capitol hill and is about to face questions behind closed doors from senate
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cnn has learned u.s. investigators wiretapped the former trump campaign manager, paul manafort, before and after the election. surveillance continued into early this year covering a period in which manafort was known to be talking to president trump. and shaepla, tell us what you and your colleagues learned? sources tell us the fbi got permission to monitor paul manafort before and after the election. this is an extraordinary thing for the fbi to do this kind of surveillance. now there's a meddling probe and we are told there are
intercepted communications that raised concerns about whether manafort was encouraging russians to help the campaign, and other sources tell us this intelligence was not conclusive, and special counsel bob mueller's team has been informed of this. >> the fbi has been listening to some of the communications and other intelligent officials and these are russian operatives that are relaying what they claimed were discussions with manafort, and none of this has amounted to what people consider a smoking gun in the investigation. there's still more work being done to determine if there's a criminal violation here. manafort, wolf, it's important to note, has denied knowingly communicating with russians during the campaign. >> do we know whether president
trump communicated directly with manafort while he was under fbi surveillance? >> this, wolf, has been a hot topic on social media and elsewhere, people have been wondering this. what we have been told by sources is that the president and manafort were still talking this year, well after the campaign and after the president took office. during that time the fbi was listening to manafort's phones, so it's possible those conversations were collected, wolf. >> was the president right when he tweeted several times that he was being wiretapped by the obama administration? >> this is another question that a lot of people now have. the justice department denied they tapped any of the president's phone lines. what we are told, though, is that basically, you know, this is still ongoing. they don't have any information indicating -- the sources we have talked to, that the phones of the president were ever
tapped. it's possible, as we have been reporting, that communications between the president and manafort were picked up during this surveillance. >> interesting stuff. good reporting. you and your team doing excellent work for us. joining us to talk about this, a key member of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, thank you for joining us. >> good morning, wolf. >> it's not an easy thing to be able to carry out this fisa-approved surveillance. you have to make a case before the fisa court to prove there's just cause to do this. what is your opinion about paul manafort under surveillance before and after the election? >> i think it's a level of seriousness and that's why congress is taking a bipartisan stand to the investigation, and i commend the committee, and
they are talking about the facts before conclusions were drawn. there seems to be a lot of finger-pointing but no smoking gun so it's important that we continue the search for the answers and make sure we get to the bottom of it as we also support the mueller investigation going forward. >> yeah, looks like there's bipartisan cooperation. let's get to other major issues facing the country today. as you know the president is set to address the u.n. general assembly in the next hour. we are told the speech is expected to be what officials describe as philosophical, and we are expecting the president to issue harsh warnings to iran and north korea. what would you like to hear the president say? >> i think the president needs to layout a clear delineation about what we expect to see happening in iran and north korea and terrorism around the globe and other activities that the united nations should be leading in where they have
fallen behind. as it relates to north korea, there are 160 nations that maintain a trade relation sship with north korea, and there are 21 that have diplomatic admissions with north korea and he needs to make it clear that countries and businesses have a choice to do business with the united states, the largest economy in the world or do business with north korea, but can't do both. we need to make it clear there's no room for china to simply talk about what they are going to do and say they object to north korean missile programs, and it's time for china to take the responsibility of a leading nation, a leading global power and deal with the madman. he needs to make it clear he's going to address it with or without anybody's help. >> you are calling on what you are describing as 21 nations, including china, which has a huge economic relationship with the united states to cut all
diplomatic and economic ties with north korea, and in a letter to china's ambassador to the united states, you wrote this and i will put it up on the screen. maintaining official diplomatic regimes that continues to threaten nations across the globe only serves to raw ward nefarious behavior. closed quote. what are you saying, all economic ties between the u.s. and china should be severed if china continues to maintain a commercial relationship with north korea? >> what i am saying this. there are over 5,000 businesses in china that are currently doing business with north korea. it's time they stop. it's time that china stand up to those businesses and say enough is enough. we need to sanction those businesses. if they are doing business with the u.s. and trying to have access to the u.s. financial system, we need a global empwaue
empwaurg yo of north korea. and china has carried out a vin duckiveness against south korea. if they took that approach to north korea, we would see a different north korea. so instead of aiming their fire at south korea it's time for china to aim it at north korea. >> one final question. different subject, while i have you. house speaker paul ryan is calling it the best last chance to get repeal and replace done. if it passed the senate ryan said he would bring it up for a straight vote on the house floor. the first hearing on the bill is set for monday. where do you stand on this graham cassidy legislation? >> there's more information we
need to get on the impact of some states, and there are governors coming out in support of the legislation. i have been told states like colorado receive more dollars in the coming years than under the affordable care act and we have questions about those numbers and we will continue to get those numbers but we have to replace the affordable care act with something that drives down the costs, and in colorado, average rate increases of 27%, and 14 counties will have a choice of one provider to choose from. what we have right now is not working. i hope we have a bipartisan solution going forward and a bipartisan fix, and people on both sides of the aisle, i hope we can come together as a congress and nation. >> doesn't look like this one is bipartisan. you need 50 votes with the vice president in order to get graham cassidy passed.
you are still undecided? >> that's correct. that's what i have told my colleagues, i am still getting more information. i talked to a number of senators about their concerns. i talked to senator cassidy about those numbers, and they have been responsive to us. we have to work together as a country to come up with something that is going to work. we can put something in place to reduce the cost of health care and increase the quality. it's something we are all interested in. >> thank you. coming up, we will have more on the exclusive reporting of the government wiretapping of paul manafort. [car tires screech] [bell rings] you myour joints...thing for your heart...
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what does that mean? what could the feds have found out? joining us now, our chief correspondent, dana bash. it's not easy to get a fisa to approve surveillance of a top personality along the lines of a trump campaign chairman. >> it's hard to get a fisa warrant for anybody who is an american citizen, much less somebody who is a high profile paul manafort. before paul manafort went into trump world this was -- this was going on. so you know, it sort of begs the question, you know, obviously we have no idea if anybody from the president on down knew that he was under this kind of investigation, certainly it's impossible to think they did. if you take a step back and
think about the whole question of russian interference in the election, and poof, suddenly this guy who was, you know, so under surveillance that they got this warrant, which you said is so hard to get, and then appears in the trump campaign after not working in politics for decades is very, very curious. >> our excellent reporting, we have shown it, but "the new york times" has strong reporting suggesting that manafort, the special counsel, robert mueller and his team have had scare tactics, go into paul manafort's home and picking his lock and going through his clauseeosets taking documents. this is big time. >> it is big time. it's not only what do they have
on him, but what do they want to get on other people. you are going after somebody like paul manafort, who they feel like they have a lot of stuff on, but going after him as somebody who could turn on other individuals, and whether it's about his business dealings or bleeds into the core question of the mueller investigation, which is was there any coordination collaboration between russian government officials and the trump campaign and whether they can use paul manafort with all of the tactics and potential damaging information they got from the fisa warrant and the raid that they got, the information from people close to the president. >> and we have been reporting that paul manafort was actually wiretapped with authorization from a fisa court before and
after president trump was elected? >> well, it's obviously a highly significant development at several levels. first of all prosecutors and fbi agents can't walk into a fisa court and ask for a warrant. they have to present evidence, probable cause that an individual is involved with foreign surveillance. that means on two occasions the fbi had enough information already to persuade the judge to grant a warrant, which suggests there's evidence out there that paul manafort was involved with russians or ukrainians or some foreign forces who were under investigation. the other thing is that, you know, the timing especially of the second warrant raises all sorts of questions about who else is on these tapes and what are they saying?
this is a time where others have reported that manafort and the president, and the president-elect trump were still talking. does trump's voice appear on the tapes? how significant could that be? i think tapes are always enormously important evidence if there is some underlying crime. i think it's important to emphasize we don't know that paul manafort or anybody else committed a crime. nobody has been charged yet. this is obviously a very intense and serious investigation. >> "the new york times" reporting that there's the so-called shock and awe tactics and mueller and his team, prosecutors are going through to send a message. >> the shocking thing in "the new york times" story is manafort was told he will likely be indicted and the formal term
for that in federal law enforcement is he's a target. federal prosecutors are taught not to threaten idly, not to just say that and then not indict people. if you are told you are a target by a federal prosecutor as manafort apparently has been told, you almost certainly are going to get indicted. that suggests this investigation will move into an entirely new phase. obviously, as well, the mueller team is hoping that they won't have to indictment him and try him, he will plead guilty to something and flip and will become a witness against other people. the fact that they used a search warrant is really unusual in a white collar investigation. white collar crime is almost investigated through the use of grand jury subpoenas, where
compliance is essentially voluntary. there's a certain level of trust. a search warrant is unusual, not unprecedented, but unusual in white collar cases because it means mueller's team didn't trust manafort to turn over documents and information and computer files that they subpoenaed, that they felt they had to go and search for it. that just shows they are playing hardball with manafort and we will see whether it produces anything. >> i want jeffrey and dana to stick around. there's a lot more information developing, including on capitol hill. a possible health care bill revival. the senate's final push to repeal and replace obamacare. and one of the president's personal attorney is testifying on capitol hill behind closed
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we're following two major stories on capitol hill this morning. right now long-time trump attorney, his associate, testifying behind closed doors before the senate intelligence committee. he agreed to talk about his contacts with russian authorities at the height of the trump campaign. also another important story, senate republicans making a push to repeal and replace obamacare, and a crucial meeting hours from now could lay the ground work going forward. let's start with you, ryan. what is the latest? >> reporter: wolf, as you just
showed michael cohen entered p capitol hill, and this is behind closed doors and it's expected cohen will answer questions from committee staff and not directly from senators, and it's not expected he will take an official oath. instead he will be answering questions now, and that doesn't mean he can't tell the truth if you are appearing in front of a congressional committee. you still have to tell the truth according to the law. cohen expected to face tough questions about his role not only in the trump campaign, but also his ties to trump's business world. cohen is a central figure in trump world, somebody that has been with the president for a very long time and played a very important role in the campaign, and is heavily involved in his business activities, including the possibility of setting up a trump tower in moscow, so it's expected staffers will ask cohen about those specific business dealings he had, and if this is
somebody the senate intelligence committee has wanted to talk to for a long time and cohen himself volunteered to appear this morning. this is behind closed doors so we won't know what took place, but this is an important part of the intelligence investigation into the contacts into russia during the campaign. >> the other big development on capitol hill, a last-ditch effort to try and get obamacare repealed and replaced. what is the latest on that front? you just heard a republican senator tell us he's one of the undecided republicans. >> republicans are about to find out whether they can revive the obamacare repeal efforts. most on capitol hill thought it was a dead process and now all of a sudden there's new momentum with mitch mcconnell indicating if they can deliver the votes, he will bring the bill to the
senate floor. this is a bill that would fundamentally dismantle obamacare and repeal the individual and employer mandates and change the subsidies in obamacare into block grants and would end the medicaid expansion and make deep cuts to the program. i have to point out there are two things that make this an incredibly difficult exercise and that is math and also the timeline. keep in mind the math is very, very daunting. the math has not changed for mitch mcconnell. he needs 50 yes votes which means he can only lose two votes in his caucus. already senator rand paul said he's a no and others expressed a lot of concerns, john mccain, and a few others in july voted no and so far are being
noncommit y noncommittal. republicans have until september 30th to do it on a bipartisan basis. the congressional budget office said yesterday they will not be able to put out anything more than essentially a preliminary survey of the graham cassidy proposal, so they are trying to get this under the water just in the nick of time, . >> we are watching very closely to see what is coming out of that meeting say and if we get any indication things are moving in the right direction for republicans. >> president trump and his motorcade leaving trump tower in new york city. you can see the motorcade now departing trump tower. they're heading over to the east side of manhattan over to the united nations where the president will be delivering a major address that's coming up fairly soon. the first time the president will be speaking before the united nations general assembly. we'll, of course, have live coverage. m.j. lee thanks very much, ryan noebls, thanks to you as well. another major story we're
following including hurricane maria passing by antigua on it ways to puerto rico. this category 5 monster storm is so strong, even the outer bands are producing 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts on various islands out there. let's go to michael holmes on antigua for us right now. you're beginning to feel at least some of this right now, right, michael? >> yeah, wolf. antigua has been pounded and you can see the conditions behind me. the sea is boiling and the palm trees are bending and many have broken. there's. some minor damage down around here, that we have seen and trees down, but the thing is bear in mind we are 120 miles or more away from the main track of hurricane maria. just try to imagine what it must have been like for dominica, which was hit dead-on. we got word from a journalist who has spoken to somebody on the island somehow and they were told that the police station has been flooded out, the prime minister's residence has been
damaged, the hospital roof has been torn off. a lot of concern, what might be the situation on dominica. all communications are down. we tried to tune in via the internet to the local radio station. it is down. so no word coming out of dominica at the moment as to what the situation is with casualties and damage. it took a full hit. as i say, have a look at this, this is absolutely nothing to what they went through. so at the moment it's going to take several hours for this to pass through this area as it moves on a course to the u.s. virgin islands, the british virgin islands and to puerto rico, wolf. >> a monster storm. we're watching it. be careful over there where you are. once again we're only moments away right now from president trump's address before the united nations general assembly. he'll be delivering an america first message we're told with harsh warnings for iran and north korea. we're following all the late breaking developments, the speakers at the united nations
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want to keep this picture up as he gets ready to address the united nations general assembly. we're told he will be very harsh, for example, on north korea and iran. he will roach o reach out to the united nations in other areas. as he's walking in maybe we can hear chatter with reporters. let's listen in. [ inaudible ]. >> thank you.
[ inaudible ]. >> he's joined by his wife melania going up the escalator, heading towards the general assembly very soon. we'll, of course, have live coverage of the president's speech. we're told, jeff zeleny, the president and his team they've worked very hard in crafting the language to be as specific as possible. what are you hearing? >> we're told that, indeed, wolf, the president spent considerable time yesterday afternoon in between meetings of world leaders at trump tower working on this speech. he worked on it with stephen miller a chief speechwriter and policy adviser and this is the biggest foreign policy address at least on this stage. i am told it will be in the vain of previous speeches we have heard the president give in saudi arabia, earlier this summer and warsaw, poland, as well, shaping what he shorthands america first but calling on other nations to do their share. wolf, i am also told by a senior
white house official the president will also use very strong language on north korea and will call on other world leaders to, quote, not be bystanders to history. that will be one of the takeaway lines of the speech i am told. of course talking about the nuclear provocation, the rising nuclear threat, from north korea. that is one of the centerpieces of this speech. the president, of course, i'm told not going to offer any really clue into what his intentions are, if he'll use military options or diplomatic options, but wants to sort of bring the world community together. he is also going to rebuke and perhaps chastise other world leaders for not doing more on north korea. of course china front and center in that and chinese president xi jinping is not here at this u.n. meeting, wolf. but no question, north korea will be the thing, main threat to watch for in this speech that will go around 40 to 45 minutes, we believe, really filling in
some more of the blanks of the trump foreign policy that we're still seeing evolve. we'll put a much more measured tone than we are used to hearing the president, he is going to be using a teleprompter, of course, in a carefully crafted speech here that, indeed, will be watched by 170 leaders sitting in the general assembly audience, wolf. certainly on the edge of their seats to hear this president delivers this new u.s. foreign policy. as we continue seeing him evolve in office, wolf. >> yeah. arguably the most important foreign policy speech of his administration so far, jim sciutto our chief national security correspondent also at the united nations for us right now. people will be watching and listening for every word, jim, especially when it comes to two of the more sensitive issues, north korea, its nuclear threat, and iran, whether the u.s. is going to continue to adhere to the iran nuclear agreement? >> wolf, i have to tell you one of the most notab