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Trump, Putin to Hold Full-fledged Bilateral Meeting; North Korea Claims Successful Long-Range Missile Test. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired July 4, 2017 - 09:15 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:17] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and happy Fourth of July. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Poppy Harlow and John Berman.
Breaking news this morning. CNN learning just moments ago that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's sideline meeting at the G20 Summit this week has now been upgraded. It will now be a full-fledged bilateral meeting, according to the Kremlin.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live for us at the White House with more on this. Suzanne, what are you learning from the White House?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this could certainly mean that this is more significant when it comes to symbolism as well as substance.
I want to start off by first reading what we have obtained from the spokesman out of the Kremlin here, the statement that they've just put out here that we got, this urgent saying that the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of this week's G8 Summit in Hamburg will be a full- fledged bilateral meeting, rather than a brief on-the-go contact.
That, according to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. This, according to state-run TASS. We have not gotten a White House confirmation on the expansion of this.
But, Fred, I want to tell you what we think is the significance here. When you have something -- and having covered a lot of G8 and G20 Summit meetings, when you have something that's just a by-chance meeting on the sidelines of these very important summits, you look at the body language here. You look at how they greet each other, but there is not really a lot of opportunity to see the interaction between the two leaders.
When you have something like a formal bilateral meeting, these offers an opportunity, first of all, the symbolism to say it's much more significant. These two leaders will sit down side by side. There will be more some private time between these two leaders to talk about substantive issues, whether that's Ukraine or Syria or even the threat, the provocation of North Korea.
Secondly, what happens during these kind of bilateral meetings is, typically, they'll have some private time, the two of them, but they'll also have some public time before a pool spray. And that is a small group of reporters who follow these two leaders during the day.
They sit down. We saw this when I was covering President Obama in his first meeting with Vladimir Putin. You could really get a sense of the body language between the two, the handshake, and also potentially questions that can come from reporters.
Typically, they will make opening statements, and then perhaps take some questions. So this is very significant in terms of what we're going to see between these two leaders, what does this mean. And all eyes are going to be on that meeting in the days to come, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And, Suzanne, really quick, what does it mean that an official statement hasn't come from the White House, that it would be the Kremlin first on this?
MALVEAUX: Well, certainly this could be that the Russian President wants to get ahead here of the United States President. That's part of it. But, you know, I mean the Russians have taken the lead on this. We'll see if Trump will respond to this.
We do know that this is a very important meeting. A lot of people have been asking what the substance of this is going to be.
And one of the things that CNN has learned is that, very likely, it's not going to come up about Russian meddling in the elections. That this is going to be something that they can to try to both look like they are strong leaders and that they have some sort of support, some sort of collaboration when it comes to policies and issues that serve them both.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll see if that dynamic changes at all now that it is a bilateral meeting. Thanks so much, Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.
All right. We'll return to that topic. Now also to that stunning claim from North Korea, which says that, for the first time, it has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, one that, it claims, could, quote, reach anywhere in the world. The United States now assessing whether that claim is true and whether a missile could potentially hit the U.S. mainland.
Kim Jong-un appearing right there to celebrate the launch as he's watching through the binoculars and with his eyes there, coming just hours now before the American July 4th holiday and just days before President Trump leaves for that G20 Summit.
Here now is the President of the United States' response, saying, quote, via tweet, North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all, end quote.
CNN International Correspondent Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea with more on this. What are the concerns that are coming from South Korea as well? [09:05:04] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well,
Fredricka, there are some great concerns here in the region and obviously in the United States, this claim of a historic event for North Korea. This is is what the news anchor said on that special broadcast on North Korean television, saying it was a successful launch of an ICBM, saying that Kim Jung-un ordered it.
He signed that order, which they then showed on television. And that he was at the test site to make sure that it went well. And apparently, it was a shining success, we're hearing, from that news anchor.
Now, what the South Koreans are doing right now, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is working with the United States to try and figure out whether or not it was, in fact, an ICBM. They have not ruled out that possibility, although they haven't admitted it either. We heard from the JCS saying that say this launch had an improved range compared to the one on May 14th.
Now, the launch on May 14th was widely considered by many experts to be the most significant advancement in the North's nuclear weapons program to date. So the fact that the JCS says that this has an even greater range shows that it is significant, no matter whether it is an ICBM or not.
But the unofficial assessment by many of these experts that we speak to is that it could well have been -- one could well be able to reach Alaska if the range is what they believe it would be, given the figures they have been given by North Korea. Of course, they have to look with U.S. and South Korea, when the intelligence agencies get that exact radar data, the satellite data, and figure out exactly what they're looking at. But there are some great concerns here.
And of course, Kim Jong-un is in a hurry to get to the stage he set. At the beginning of the year, he was close to test launching an ICBM. Was this the test launch? He has already show that he has test launched far more missiles and carried out far more nuclear tests than his father and his grandfather put together, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Paula Hancocks, thank you so much, from Seoul, South Korea.
All right. Here to discuss all of this, CNN military and diplomatic analyst and former State Department spokesperson, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby; CNN global affairs analyst and senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast," Kimberly Dozier; and CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. Good to see all of you, and happy Fourth.
All right. So, Admiral Kirby, you first. You know, how worrisome is this development in the potential advancement of a nuclear weapon that could potentially reach the U.S.?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: If it is determined that this is an ICBM with that kind of a range, it is a big deal. It's a game changer. But it's not necessarily a game ender, right?
We don't believe that he has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and put it on a missile. Not that he couldn't conduct conventional provocations with a missile of this range, but he wouldn't necessarily yet have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on it.
What it does is -- none of the options going forward are good. They weren't good yesterday; they're not any better today. They are maybe a little bit more limited.
But in the report we just heard, she's exactly accurate. He has been racing to get this capability because he sees it as an ultimate bargaing chip. There is no reason for him to want to sit down and negotiate with the international community, not while he's trying to develop this capability. He won't want to talk until he has it, and he has what he considers some sort of an upper hand.
I can tell you that, speaking to sources at the Pentagon, that they're obviously going to be presenting a full range of options that go from very low risk to high risk. As well as, I think, other agencies in the government also will be looking at options they can present the President for how to move forward.
If anything, this should just underscore the sense of urgency that we're dealing with here, and the need for the entire international community to really come together and to try to put appropriate pressure on Pyongyang.
WHITFIELD: So, Kim, this is the 11th missile test this year. And, you know, you think of the symbolism. It's coming on the Fourth of July for America. It's coming just one day now before President Trump meets at the G20 Summit and now, we hear, bilateral talks with Russia's President.
The admiral was saying this is something everyone should be involved in. Do you see this being a discussion added to the table with a President Trump and Putin?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, absolutely, and also a discussion added to the larger G20 and a test for Donald Trump. Will he seize this opportunity to be the global voice that says, here's how we should proceed forward.
In his previous group meetings with world leaders, what he's, instead, done is lecture them. Remember that NATO meeting where he had the leaders right next to him and lectured them about being behind on their investments in defense.
So the other thing that could seize the march on Trump is a growing axis between Moscow and Beijing. We've just had the Russian and Chinese leaders meet, and they could step in to create some sort of bridge to Pyongyang. And in a sense, the White House has handed China that opportunity by putting them mostly in charge of trying to talk Pyongyang down from its nuclear testing. [09:10:18] WHITFIELD: And so, General Marks, you know, the "New York
Times" was reporting that Trump, in a phone call on Sunday with China's President Xi, said that the U.S. is prepared to act alone. But now, we also know there will be trilateral talks during the G20 involving Japan, South Korea. China will be having its own discussions with Japan. How do you see this upcoming summit as an opportunity for all of these parties to get together to address North Korea in a bigger way?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, in a rather ironic way, its perfect timing, if you will. It's just on the heels of the visit between President Moon of South Korea and President Trump and, you know, on the doorstep now of the G20.
And clearly, Kim Jong-un, this was very calculated. It was not simply serendipity. He chose the Fourth of July to launch this latest missile.
It has forever -- the problem with North Korea has forever been top of shelf for the United States simply because of our relationship in the South and regionally, most importantly our regional partners, Japan, the Philippines -- excuse me -- South Korea. It is important now that we realize and we do, but we have to get the rest of the world on board to understand that this has gone from a very specific regional challenge to one that is global in nature and scope.
However, the United States has troops in South Korea, has a long- standing relationship with South Korea. We are, in fact, driving that relationship right now. Irrespective of what might seem like a bit of a gap that might be existing or at least growing between the new President in South Korea and the United States, that relationship is locked. The foundation is incredibly strong, and so what you see in public is not necessarily what takes place in private.
But the problem remains, first and foremost, for the United States to galvanize other partners to make sure that we can do it. We can have a solution. At the end of the day, there is a military solution. There is an array of options, as John indicated.
And we have to be able to be prepared to make a very tough decision because the ultimate challenge here is you're going to have a nuclearized North Korea that can deliver a nuke. Whether it's over distance to the United States or if it is simply an altitude burst over South Korea, that's a challenge.
That is unacceptable outcome. So if we accept that unacceptable, what do we do in advance of that? These are very, very hard decisions that have to be made. And I can guarantee you, the United States is prepared to that.
WHITFIELD: And, Admiral Kirby, you know, the General talked about the importance of this important relationships, the U.S. and South Korea. But what about that relationship between the U.S. and China, which is pivotal in trying to deal with North Korea? It's been rather tenuous, but then you have the President who tweets, China needs to do more. So what is the U.S. asking China to do in terms of more? KIRBY: Yes, and you saw in his most recent tweet that you put up on
the screen, he once again twicked China a little bit. Look, they're not wrong. This is a problem that this administration, I believe, has handled in a very deliberate, thoughtful way from the very beginning.
The national security staff has really come together and coalesced over working through the options. And again, there is no good ones. They have realized, what the Obama administration realized as well, is that the path to Pyongyang runs through Beijing, principally.
It doesn't mean that it lets the international community off the hook or that we should not think about our own unilateral options. Of course, we should, as the General rightly said. But really, in terms of influence on Pyongyang, it's got to come from Beijing.
They have not been willing to exercise that influence because they have believed that they have been able manage. They could manage some sort of stable North Korea. They don't want to see a unified Korean Peninsula that is aligned with the West, so they have sort of hedged a little bit here in terms of not fully implementing the sanctions on Pyongyang, not exerting the influence that we know that they have over Kim Jong-un.
And maybe -- maybe -- this new test might be able to will push them in that direction. But I don't know that it's really likely. The other things is -- and they'll tell you this and they're not being completely dishonest -- they don't have 100 percent influence on Pyongyang.
They have been frustrated by some of Kim Jong-un's bellicosity of late and the speed, the acceleration, of this testing program. They don't like that at all. They haven't been able to put the brakes on it completely, but, clearly, they can be doing more and they haven't. And I think you'll see, however the White House responds to this test, I have no doubt that part of that response will be to try to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing.
[09:15:02] And Kim's right, this is a great week. Look, if you're going this, if this is the approach, this is the week to do it, at the G20. He's got an opportunity here on the world stage to try to get more pressure in the region against Pyongyang but also globally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- pressure on Beijing and Kim's right, this is a great week. Look, if you're going to do this, (inaudible) approach, this is the week to do it at the G20. He's got an opportunity here on the world stage to try to get more pressure in the region against Pyongyang but also globally.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And Admiral, I asked you at the very beginning, my very first question to you was about the bilateral meeting now that's going to take place between Trump and Putin.
And whether North Korea is something they will discuss and in that bilateral, is it your expectation that if anything, Donald Trump can infer, ask, demand Putin try to leverage some influence on China as it pertains to North Korea?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, he could, I mean, I clearly think they'll have to talk about the North Korea challenge when he meets bilaterally with Putin and Putin does have a relationship with Xi. Xi was just there now.
So there is a potential for some leverage, but again, what's in Russia's interest, they obviously don't have an interest in a nuclear armed North Korea. But they also don't seem to want to help us in a bilateral way on national security issues.
So it will be interesting to see if they can find some common ground on that, but clearly Putin could be more involved than he is.
WHITFIELD: All right, Admiral, thank you so much. Kim and General, appreciate it.
All right, fireworks, parades and protests, and no vacation for lawmakers facing voters upset over the Senate health care bill.
Plus Venus Williams breaking down in front of reporters, her first press conference after being involved in a deadly car accident. She talks at Wimbledon.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
[09:20:00]Our breaking news this morning, North Korea claiming it has successfully launched a long range missile capable of hitting of anywhere in the world. The U.S. military now working to see whether that's true.
But all analysts agree this launch had an improved range over previous tests, but President Trump responding via Twitter late last night saying that he condemns the launch and he's calling on China to, quote, "put a heavy move on North Korea," end quote.
All of this as Trump prepares to head overseas for the G20 Summit where we just learned President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a full-fledged bilateral meeting.
Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. He serves on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Good to see you. REPRESENTATIVE MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: good morning, happy Fourth of July.
WHITFIELD: Well, happy Fourth of July. Let's talk first about this bilateral meeting now. The kremlin saying it will be a full-fledged bilateral meeting between Trump and President Putin. In your view, is this a step up, an upgrade? What do you see as the potential benefits here?
QUIGLEY: Well, I think it's an important meeting. It's an opportunity for the president of the United States to exert his leadership. What I would like to see first, I think President Putin needs to hear President Trump issue a pro NATO statement, reaffirming his support for our allies.
I also think they need to get on the same page on how we're going to handle ISIS, how are we going to get on the same page as it relates to Syria? And finally and perhaps most importantly, I think President Trump needs to acknowledge that it was Russia who hacked into our democratic process and he needs to make it clear that this is not going to be tolerated again.
WHITFIELD: And if he does not on the latter, because the White House has already said that it would be Syria and Ukraine, but that's when it was a sideline meeting, if the president of the United States who does come face-to-face with Vladimir Putin and does not say anything about the meddling, knowing that their upcoming election in which Russia could influence or meddle again, what does that say to you?
QUIGLEY: I think it sends a green light to Putin, if Putin doesn't see resistance, if he doesn't see strength in pushing back, he sees this as an acknowledgement that it's OK, we have seen this kremlin playbook before, and what we have seen is that if leaders don't push back, Russia will continue this.
WHITFIELD: And Congressman now, let's talk about North Korea, the 11th now missile launch this year and it happens on the Fourth of July, and just head President Trump heading to the G20, and Trump responded via Twitter this way saying, "Doesn't this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer.
Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all." Is this the same kind of language or even demeanor that you want to see from the president when he does confront many of these nations about North Korea while at the G20?
QUIGLEY: It's clearly something of a flippant answer to an incredibly complicated and serious issue. Obviously, he's going to have the opportunities with the G20 to help build an alliance there, to have a stronger response.
Clearly the most important actor in all of this is China and China has shown a willingness, although a frustration in dealing with North Korea. I think we need to have the entire G20 work and talk with Beijing about what they can do to strengthen this. To say that South Korea and Japan sort of implies that they are the only two actors that can play a role is simply incorrect. They're the ones most impacted by this and most at risk. But it's going to take a worldwide effort to get North Korea to stop what they're doing.
WHITFIELD: And quickly in your view, why do you believe Kim Jong-un feels so emboldened to do this? There have been, you know -- he's had an aggressive approach to these missile tests this year since the inauguration of President Trump?
QUIGLEY: I think he's always felt this way. I think he's willing -- the problem is, China can do a great deal in this effort. But unfortunately, the leader of North Korea feels like he can sacrifice his own people.
So if there are additional sanctions or economic push back, the people that will suffer unfortunately first will be the people of North Korea and their leader knows this and seems willing to let that happen.
WHITFIELD: Congressman Mike Quigley, thanks so much for your time on this Fourth of July. Appreciate it.
QUIGLEY: Everyone have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
[09:25:07]WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. All right, the president of the United States said he was losing patience with North Korea, so with the latest missile test coming right before Trump travels abroad, could we see Trump put more pressure on allies to take action. More on that straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right, we're following two big stories this morning, we just learned President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin will no longer have a brief on the go kind of face-to-face sideline meeting.
Instead the two world leaders now who have been sizing each other up from afar whether hold a full-fledged bilateral meeting at the G20, that according to the kremlin. One thing Putin says they will focus on North Korea as well.
This comes after Kim Jong-Un sent Trump a Fourth of July message, so to speak, that rogue nation will remain defiant, testing a long range missile, it claims could reach targets anywhere in the world.
Trump responded by calling on China via tweet, calling on China, Japan and South Korea to take action. Both North Korea and this meeting will -- with Putin will prove to be a major diplomatic test for the president of the United States.
So let's talk about all of this with CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "Politico," Tara Palmeri, CNN political analyst, historian, and professor at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer, and politics reporter for the "Daily Beast," Betsy Woodruff. Good to see all of you. And we're also learning more information on this Fourth of July, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin says that it is important for Russia and China to push their initiatives to resolve the Korean Peninsula crisis.