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Korea Talks Focus on Olympics, Family Reunions; Trump Lawyers Want to Limit Mueller Interview; Oprah Winfrey for President in 2020? Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:24] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Hello -- everybody. I'm John Vause.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there. And I'm Kristie Lu Stout, coming to you live from Seoul, South Korea.

Direct talks between North and South Korea are under way for the first time in more than two years. They kicked off this morning about 10:00 a.m. local time. They had a break midday and they will resume shortly.

Now the delegacy arrived earlier in Panmunjom -- that's on the South Korean side of the DMZ about four hours ago. They appeared on camera to be laughing and in good spirits as they entered the conference room.

Now, these talks are focused on North Korea's participation in the upcoming winter games just exactly one month away from today to take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The South's lead negotiator also expressed confidence about making progress on inter-Korean relations hoping to, for example, resume reunions of families that were separated by the Korean War decades ago.

Now, let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks, who is live near the Truce Village at the DMZ. And Paula -- already news coming out of these talks that began just a couple of hours ago -- North Korea apparently going to the games.

How was this brokered and how was this announced?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie -- it is fairly quick. I mean they had been talking for about three hours or so at the Panmunjom Peace Village and then what we know is that North Korea said that they will send a delegation to the Pyeongchang winter Olympics next month. They'll send a high level delegation -- so athletes. They'll also send a cheering squad, a visitors' group.

And so this is certainly the basic that the South Koreans wanted to be able to claim a win. They wanted North Korea at the Olympics. But beyond that, these talks aren't over. South Korea is now proposing more things. They are saying that they would like to have Red Cross (ph) talks so that they can try and negotiate some kind of family reunion next month over the Lunar New Year. This is for the separated families from the Korean War, so who haven't seen each other really since the 1950s -- a very emotional issue for South Koreans.

And they've also said that they would like to propose military talks to make sure that there's no military conflict or military calculation in the future. So, a number of things that they have talked about.

We also had heard one statement from the North Korean side, the chief negotiator saying it will go well in the afternoon. So he's showing confidence as well.

So really a very positive start to these talks. South Korea securing North Korea's agreement to come to the Olympics within the first three hour -- Rosemary (SIC).

STOUT: You know, it was back in September when you had that sit-down interview with the South Korean president Moon Jae-In and he told you of his audacious plan of bringing the North Koreans to the Pyeongchang winter Olympics. How remote did that seem as a possibility then compared to it actually happening now?

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. I mean Kristie -- it wasn't that long ago that that interview took place. He was even talking about potentially co-hosting the Olympics. And I think realistically even the South Korean government knew that there simply wasn't enough time to get that done.

But he wasn't giving up. He said it's the Peace Olympics. He wanted to make sure that Pyongyang was part of the Olympics. He said it's 30 years since the Olympics has been in South Korea, a very significant time for South Korea and he wanted Pyongyang to be part of it.

And of course, part of that would be if North Korea's here and it has a delegation and athletes here. There is less potential for conflict, less potential for a missile launch or a nuclear test or anything that could to spook people who are in Pyeongchang for the Olympics itself.

And these talks were very high level. I mean we knew from the South Korean side that there was CCTV, an audio that President Moon Jae-In was listening to in real time. He was able to intervene to give guidance.

And exactly the same on the other side -- we know that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was able to hear the talks, not see them but hear them in real time and he had a hotline to be able to call up and give guidance or suggest something different.

So the fact that really the top powers on the Korean Peninsula were listening in to this meeting and they were able to secure this decision within such a short amount of time shows that there was the willingness on both sides to make this happen. But we have to see this afternoon how much more South Korea is able to secure from the North Koreans.

STOUT: Yes. Very compelling detail that you mentioned just then about how both of these leaders, Moon Jae-In and Kim Jong-Un, were monitoring and listening in to these talks as they proceed this morning and set to resume.

[00:04:54] Now more on the prospect of this plan, with North Korea going to the Pyeongchang winter games, the mood here in South Korea -- do the people of South Korea like the idea?

Do they support the idea of hosting and potentially paying for, covering the expenses of North Korean athletes in the games?

HANCOCKS: Yes, I was asking the governor of Gangwon Province about this yesterday. He is the governor of the province that's actually holding the Olympics. And he said that in the past they have had some cooperation and it has always been welcomed by the South Koreans.

Remember back in 2000, the Sydney summer Olympics, they had a combined team that walked out together for the opening ceremony and a flag that they held showing a unified Korea. So there is a precedent for this.

The governor actually said he wanted, for example, the two figure skaters who have qualified for the Olympics to come and be part of a joint Korean team. He was talking about potentially sending a cruise ship up to North Korea to bring the delegation down. He said that would also give them accommodation and said it wouldn't violate U.N. sanctions because sports is not included in those restrictions -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Paula Hancocks reporting live from the Truce Village very close to where these talks are taking place. Paula -- thank you.

Let's take it back to John Vause. And John -- as you heard Paula's reporting just then, North Korea going to the games. Kim Jong-Un gets to see his athletes take part in the winter Olympics. Also he can claim victory for that pause in joint military drills between U.S. and South Korea.

As for the South Korean side, the Peace Olympics for Moon Jae-In as he envisioned in going to happen. But we'll have to see if South Korea gets any more concessions out of these talks. We'll be monitoring it closely throughout the day.

Back to you -- John.

VAUSE: And all the time, the United States sitting on the sidelines-- a place it has rarely when the North and the South have sat down and held discussions. Kristie -- thank you.

The latest now on the Russia investigation and the 2016 U.S. election, and sources tell CNN the U.S. President's legal team is bracing for a request from the special counsel to interview Donald Trump. The President's lawyers are looking to try and limit the scope of that interview. A few hours ago Mr. Trump was in Atlanta for the National College Football championship game between Alabama's Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Earlier on Monday he was in Nashville, Tennessee speaking to a group of farmers announcing plans to increase Internet access to rural communities; also a chance to talk up that tax plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh are you happy you voted for me? You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.

The other choice wasn't going to work out too well for the farmers -- or the miners or anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining us now, CNN's political commentators: Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas. It's good to be back out of bed.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Welcome back.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to see you.

VAUSE: Sort of almost back to full health. Ok.

THOMAS: Happy New Year.

VAUSE: Yes. That was like three weeks ago, wasn't it? Ok.

So while the President was in Atlanta, you know, the city which he called what -- was it rundown and crime-ridden just a few weeks ago or a few months ago? His lawyers are getting ready for this request from Robert Mueller for an interview. It's all about the Russia investigation.

Over the weekend the President was specifically asked if he would agree to that request. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?

TRUMP: Just so you understand, just so you understand, there's been no collusion. There's been no crime. And in theory, everybody tells me, I'm not under investigation. Maybe Hillary is. I don't know. But I'm not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Dave -- apart from the fact the President was not asked about any collusions, just if he would talk to the special prosecutor or there was a crime. It would seem that after declaring his innocence so loudly and proudly for so many months, he has no other choice but to turn up and face this interview from Mueller I guess because politically the optics are just awful.

JACOBSON: The Russia investigation has truly become a real tangible cancer that is eating at the White House. And I think he's got no choice but to appear. Look -- the reality is if this guy has nothing to hide then he should be totally candid and transparent and up front and, you know, provide any documentation or interview. And frankly, he should testify before Congress if he's got nothing to hide.

I think the challenge is Donald Trump is a political Neanderthal and the question is like, what type of Donald Trump are we going to get? Are we going to get fire and fury? Or are we going to get the guy has this massive fabrications, this guy who just spews out these untruths. Because that's going to further exacerbate the potential obstruction of justice case if he's lying to the special counsel.

VAUSE: So John -- how perilous could this be for the President especially if he's under oath? And I guess that is one of the issues which the lawyers are now trying to work out. Will it be under oath? Will it be public? Will it be written? Will it be verbal? Whatever?

So how perilous -- how dangerous could this be?

THOMAS: It's a dangerous position for him to be in. First of all, he doesn't have a choice. He has to take the interview because optically it would be so damaging that he perhaps couldn't recover.

VAUSE: And he can't plead the Fifth, either.

THOMAS: Right. Exactly.

[00:10:02] VAUSE: Like I cannot answer that question on the grounds that I could incriminate myself.

THOMAS: Yes, he can't. So, I think that the risk he has here is that as he stated he -- Trump from (INAUDIBLE) there was no collusion. He's not under investigation.

In fact, in a way he might be relieved if Mueller's getting to the end of the road, kind of wrapping this investigation up but the challenge with these special investigations is the scope.

VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: Is it -- he's thinking about Russia collusion. He doesn't know if Mueller or one of his agents is going to ask about a real estate deal from 20 years and nail him on tax evasion.

VAUSE: Shouldn't be a problem. He's very smart.

THOMAS: Well --

JACOBSON: He's a genius. THOMAS: -- but that's the risk of these special investigations. As you're seeing, they're getting Paul Manafort for tax evasion, you know?

VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: I think that's what his lawyers are trying to limit as much as they can.

VAUSE: Right.

You know, there would be a lot to ask the President, in particular what he knows about that meeting in what was it, June 2016 at Trump Tower with the Kremlin-linked lawyer and a bunch of other Russians as well as members of the Trump campaign. Donald Trump Jr. was one of the main players in all of that.

Michael Wolff also in that new tell-all book about the administration, which, you know, has had all the headlines lately -- he had this detail about the motivation for Donald Trump Jr. being at that meeting. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY": He went through the steps. Why did Don, Jr. do this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about meeting with the Russians and all of that?

WOLFF: Yes. And Don Jr. did this to impress his father because he wanted to oust Cory Lewandowski and take over the campaign. And Steve said so he had to show his father he had the stuff. So this was definitely about Don, Jr.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And just to confirm CNN has not confirmed these details but Dave -- what he is saying adds, you know, to what Steve Bannon has already said that there is no way that Don, Jr. would not have taken the Russians up the next flight stairs to the 26th floor and introduce them to his father and that Donald Trump actually knew about this meeting.

JACOBSON: I have no doubt about it. And that's something that Bob Mueller has to get to the bottom of. But I think the dynamic with Cory Lewandowski and Trump, Jr. I think really illustrates the challenge that -- with the dynamic that Donald Trump has built both within the White House and previously within the campaign.

This dysfunction and this in-fighting has its downsides, right. Like you can make the argument that competing ideas ultimately will generate consensus and get the best solution possible. Or on the flip side you have people that are completely at war with one another trying to undermine each other at every step. And I think that's precisely what this illustrates. VAUSE: Yes. Speaking of being at war, it seems that Steve Bannon is

definitely trying to make peace but they're having none of it. It took about three days for Bannon's bravado to turn to boot-licking. He apologized over the weekend profusely. He basically said he didn't call Don, Jr. treasonous meaning it was Paul Manafort for the campaign --

THOMAS: That's remarkable -- John, because Steve Bannon is a guy who does not -- and we think Trump doesn't apologize, Bannon doubles down. He does not back down.

So for him to make that apology shows that he felt that his back was up against the wall, that the ceiling was crumbling in upon him and this is all he could do but it's not working.

VAUSE: Well, with that in mind, White House spokesman was asked, you know, is there a way Bannon can come back into the fold? The answer, "I don't believe there's any way back for Mr. Bannon at this point. It's very obvious Mr. Bannon worked with Mr. Wolff in this particular book. I just don't think there's any way back."

So is he banished forever?

THOMAS: He's done. There's no second act in this story. I think Bannon, who's a hot head normally, stupidly went on the record when he was trying to take down the Jarvanka faction at the White House. He lost that battle.

Now he regrets the comments. And he's -- Bannon was starting to believe his own press that he -- that the Trump base loved him. He was wrong. They loved him because he was a supporter of the President not because they loved him.

JACOBSON: I feel like you're right in the sense like if the President was a rational person and thinker but like let's look back to the 2016 campaign. I don't have any -- the quotes that I can pull off the top of my head but if you remember the horrifying stuff that Rick -- former Texas governor Rick Perry said about Donald Trump on the campaign trail --

VAUSE: Yes.

JACOBSON: -- right at the inception of the Donald Trump's campaign. And now fast forward he's Energy Secretary.

VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: That's a political campaign. What did Hillary Clinton say about Barack Obama and vice versa? That happens all the time. This is different.

JACOBSON: Right.

VAUSE: And this could be different, as well because Democrats are now looking toward President Winfrey and possibly even Vice President in 2020 -- a lot of excitement that, you know, the one-time queen of daytime television could make this run in 2020.

But Dave -- I want to read this -- this part of an opinion piece a few hours ago in "New York Times". "The magical thinking fuelling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.

That Ms. Winfrey could probably beat those considered likely front runners -- Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand -- is a testament to how demoralized and devoid of fresh political talent the post-Obama party has become."

I mean, look, this is only talk right now but, you know, are they looking at, you know, putting a sort of a TV star with no experience, with no executive experience, no governing ability, nothing, no track record in public life actually as their nominee? What sort of party would do that kind of thing?

[00:15:05] JACOBSON: Right. Look, who doesn't love Oprah -- right? Everybody loves Oprah. But I think you're on to something or I think that piece is on to something like there's a vacuum. There is no Democratic leadership. We have a DNC chair but there's no -- there's no President Obama leading the charge.

And I think you've got all these different factions -- you've got the Elizabeth Warren, the Bernie Sanders faction. You've got the more moderate factions. You've got local mayors like L.A. Mayor Garcetti.

But there is no sort of -- there is no front-runner in the presidential race for 2020. And frankly I think that's a good thing.

Like, we need to battle it out as a party. We're winning races. We saw the New Jersey and Virginia and Alabama, so clearly we're moving in the right direction. But I think at the end of the day we don't need a coronation like we had in 2016.

I think that's precisely the wrong move. I think we need a 180 from that. And I think having multiple people running is going to be good for us.

VAUSE: John -- quickly?

THOMAS: I mean we'll see if Oprah Winfrey, who's universally likable will have fun battling against Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Roseanne Barr and you name it and other billionaires. I say bring it. It would be - -we thought 2016 was the best cycle ever, 2020 could be the best cycle ever.

JACOBSON: Oh my God, what is Donald Trump going to say? Think about the TV ratings.

VAUSE: All big names.

THOMAS: I don't even want to go there.

VAUSE: We'll leave it there. Ok.

Dave and John -- good to see you.

THOMAS: Thank you. >

VAUSE: Thank you so much.

Still to come here -- we'll have a lot more on Oprah 2020. All came about after that rousing Golden Globes speech. So, what're the chances of a presidential run by Ms. Winfrey and what would it look like?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, it started with that acceptance speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night and now it's the political buzz. Will Oprah Winfrey run for president in 2020 against Donald Trump?

Two of Winfrey's closest friends are telling CNN she is actively considering it and the White House says it would welcome the challenge.

More details now from CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: The new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns it will because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight and some pretty phenomenal men.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looked like a political rally and sounded like one, too.

WINFREY: They become the leaders --

FOREMAN: Now sources tell CNN, Oprah Winfrey is actively thinking of jumping into the 2020 race. And already big name supporters are buzzing.

Actress Meryl Streep, "I want her to run for president." Country singer Billy Gillman, "Please run." Former Obama White House staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco, "We can't stop -- #Oprah for president."

WINFREY: Never.

[00:19:57] FOREMAN: The queen of daytime talk turned actress turned media mogul has always said no to the whole idea of trading her entertainment empire, adoring fans and super comfortable lifestyle for the frozen fields of Iowa and bruising world of politics.

WINFREY: There will be no running for office of any kind for me.

FOREMAN: But as far back as 1999, guess who thought she would be a strong running mate?

TRUMP: I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice. If she would do it, she would be fantastic. I mean she's popular. She's brilliant. She's a wonderful woman.

FOREMAN: Oprah has brushed up against campaigning only occasionally and for Democrats, notably stumping for Barack Obama in his 2008 run.

WINFREY: For the very first time in my life I feel compelled to stand up and to speak out for the man who I believe has a new vision for America.

FOREMAN: So in 2016, when her name was floated as a possible Trump running mate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he did make the call, would you take the call?

WINFREY: I would say "Donald, I'm with her."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see.

FOREMAN: Still, Oprah could create a stir. She's hugely popular. Forbes puts her wealth at $2.8 billion just under Donald Trump's $3.1 billion. And she spent a lifetime talking about poverty, education, human rights, addiction, faith, fidelity and the way powerful men sometimes treat women.

WINFREY: The time is up.

FOREMAN: But here's the thing. There's a big difference between holding sympathetic discussions about delicate issues and actually taking stances on such matters. When things like marijuana law and abortion rights and immigration and tax policy, talk show hosts don't have but presidential candidates do.

Tom Foreman, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: CNN political commentator Angela Wright joins us now for more. Thank you for coming in. It's good to see you.

ANGELA WRIGHT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Ok. So I guess, you know, one of the big criticisms that I've read, you know, today about Oprah running for the presidency is that she's just a liberal version, a nicer, softer, cuddlier but a liberal version of Donald Trump -- a celebrity with no experience. And while she is much beloved, she's a famous name, she has no governing experience and, you know, what the country needs moving forward are experienced politicians who live their game rather than superstars who have name recognition. How do you see it?

WRIGHT: I think that that's really complicated. I don't know that it's experience playing political games that's needed. I think there is a necessary need, like a major need, for us to re-instill faith in the process, to strengthen the democracy, to bring goodness back into that office. And I think that if she were to run she would do that.

I think that it would be beautiful to see someone that truly has transcended party differences -- right? I think that Oprah has appeal to folks in the Green Party, libertarians, Republicans and Democrats alike, folks who are independent.

And right now, I feel like I was excited about it and I am, you know, kind of a trained strategist and I was just like, you know what? Where's my Oprah 2020 shirt? You know, it didn't sound like a bad idea to me --

VAUSE: Sure.

WRIGHT: -- particularly given where we are right now. And I don't think she is a liberal version of Donald Trump. I think she is the only version of herself that she could be. I don't think that she, like we are talking about oil and water and, you know, everything. I mean they're two polar opposites.

Sure, they're two people with a lot of name recognition, huge numbers of Twitter followers. But that is about it. You know, she is not someone who has run anything on the backs of bigotry, racism and hatred. She is just not.

VAUSE: Back in 2008 you may remember one of John McCain who had the Republican nomination at that point, one of the most effective campaign ads against Barack Obama, it was called "Celebrity". It equated Obama with a kind of a Paris Hilton type you know.

WRIGHT: Yes. I remember.

VAUSE: All -- you know, all sizzle no steak. Here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, the answer was, yes. But the ad was effective. But back then --

WRIGHT: I wonder who it was effective for. I remember looking at like this is corny.

VAUSE: Yes. Apparently it did some, you know, he took some hits on it and it was an effective criticism against Barack Obama at that time because at that time celebrity was seen as being something kind of bad.

WRIGHT: Yes.

VAUSE: But now it seems it's almost like a prerequisite to run for president? You've got to be like an Oprah or a Donald Trump?

WRIGHT: Well, I think that that's what it looked like from the last campaign cycle. And I wouldn't even say it's just celebrity. It's like a reality TV star who thinks that it's still a reality TV show right now and can tweet things like my, you know, nuclear buttons are bigger than yours.

[00:25:05] Like, I wish that was a joke. It's not April Fool's Day, it's far too early for that. It really happened, right. So it sounds like that certainly was prerequisite for him.

And I'm just hoping that the American people will have enough of this and realize that just because you have name recognition does not make you qualified to lead. I still don't think that that's Oprah's testimony or her story.

VAUSE: Ok. You mentioned about the fact that, you know, she does bring people together --

WRIGHT: Yes.

VAUSE: -- from both sides of politics. Well, the President's daughter Ivanka, she tweeted, "Just saw Oprah's empowering and inspiring speech at last night's Golden Globes. Let's all come together, women and men, and say time's up." Ok.

So she then went on to the sexual harassment angle of things clearly ignoring the politics. But you know, everyone does love Oprah, everyone loves a new car. But the reason why she's so loved is because she's apolitical, isn't it?

WRIGHT: No.

VAUSE: And the minute she throws a hat into that ring doesn't she become political and doesn't she then, you know, incur derision, people don't like her. The minute she runs, 40 percent of the country will not like her?

WRIGHT: But she's not apolitical. I think that's a misnomer. I mean Oprah was very involved in Barack Obama's 2008, 2012 campaign. She was involved in 2016. Even last night that was, you know, political.

I know a lot of folks have said she was attacking Trump. But I don't think that's what she was doing at all. I think that she was appealing to our higher and better selves saying we shouldn't stand for attacks on the press, we shouldn't stand for men in power using their positions to be predators on women or people who are in lesser positions.

So I don't see her as being apolitical at all. Even the platform she's used with OWN, her network now as well as her talk show she always touched on policy-based issues. And perhaps because she didn't delve into the, you know, what the Republican side versus Democratic side --

VAUSE: Right.

WRIGHT: She has never been apolitical. I would not describe her that way.

VAUSE: I guess it's because she never got into the nasty, grubby kind of politics of it all. WRIGHT: And I don't think she would. I think that she would rise

above it.

VAUSE: Yes.

WRIGHT: And if there was ever a time for us to have it I think it will be now.

VAUSE: Yes. Angela -- good to see you.

WRIGHT: Good to see you, too. Thank you.

VAUSE: Thanks so much. >

Ok. Coming up here, look who's talking -- after more than two years of silence North and South Korea are meeting right now. We'll go live to the Korean Peninsula in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK).

[00:30:00] VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

VAUSE: And we are following that breaking news from the Korean Peninsula, where South and North Korean delegates are talking face to face for the first time since 2015. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is there, live in Seoul -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: John, yes, the talks (INAUDIBLE) to talk about PyeongChang, the Winter Games, to talk about North Korea's role in the upcoming Winter Olympics due to kick off in exactly a month from today.

Negotiators from both Pyongyang and Seoul, they were described as being in good spirits when they arrived for the talks today in Panmunjom on the South Korean side of the DMZ. It kicked off about 10:00 am local time.

The head of the South Korean delegation said that the talks are a good start for reengaging inter-Korean relations. He's hopeful that the two countries can resume for example reunions of families that have been separated at the end of the Korean War.

Joining me now here in Seoul is Duyeon Kim. She's a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum.

Duyeon, good to see you. I'm really curious to hear what you have to say about the news coming in from these talks. North Korea is apparently going to the Winter Games.

What does having North Korea there mean for Pyongyang and also for Seoul?

DUYEON KIM, KOREAN PENINSULA FUTURE FORUM: Thanks, Kristie, for having me. First, you know, the North Koreans, they have gotten so good at PR.

The North Korean delegation chief delegate, he really worked it. He came in. He strutted in. He continued the attitude that Kim Jong-un portrayed during his New Year's address of this big, powerful, flexible, considerate, gracious, big-hearted country.

You, South Korea, you've been begging us to talk and for us to come to the Olympics. OK. We'll give you those. We'll give you that. We'll talk to you. We'll send our delegation to the Olympics.

So that's the attitude that the North Korean delegation has projected. And Mr. Lee, he's also said that, in a very unprecedented, rare move, he said, why don't we just disclose the entire meeting to the press?

And he focused a lot on, one, Korean people. He focused a lot on using the word "public sentiment" and so, here again, the North is trying to bring back those warm and fuzzy feelings of this one Korean race, two Koreas working together as the same people, working towards peace.

So that's been their tactic and strategy going forward. Now to answer your question directly, the Olympics, for the North, it means two things. One, if it can along the way, which it's going to do, it's aiming to do, is try to extract as many concessions as possible in exchange, in return for its participation at the Olympics.

But its eye is on the bigger game. The bigger objective for the North is really to use this international platform to raise its profile to -- it's prestigious for them to be included in this international gathering.

And so that's what it's going to want to tout.

For South Korea, the Olympics are important because it would want to use it to -- as a stepping stone, as a ramp to continue with resuming inter-Korean cooperation projects that have been dead for a long time and, more importantly, for South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

He will want to secure an early summit because his frustration in the past has always been that the past two inter-Korean summits came in too late in a presidential term.

STOUT: Yes. The momentum is on for him to secure just that. But as you mentioned, this is a huge PR win for North Korea and this is a question I want to ask you as a nonproliferation expert.

Should North Korea be at the Games?

This is a hostile nation that has defied the U.N., defied the world with ongoing nuclear tests and weapons tests.

Should North Korea be awarded this honor as the nuclear standoff drags on?

KIM: Well, that's a good question and it's a very complicated one, too. It's complex because just for the very reasons that you have mentioned. At the same time, it can be argued the same question can be asked, should the North be a member of the United Nations?

So if it's a big sporting event, my personal view is, yes. Why not?

Why not?

If the --

[00:35:00]

KIM: -- South is not going to pay them too much for their participation under the table or up front, which, in the past, they have done, the South has had to pay a certain amount of -- there's always a price tag for the North's participation.

But if it's going to help lead to better inter-Korean relations or at least begin on that path of improving relations, then why not?

And if it's also going to help perhaps lead to potential U.S.-North Korea talks, then, why not, too?

We have tried this and we have seen the two Koreas and the U.S. try this in the past. Unfortunately, it has not succeeded in the past. It's more a trying again. Why not?

The conditions right now, the environment so far, has -- is such that the U.S. and South Korea has decided to delay U.S.-Korean military exercises until after the Olympics. So they have shown a gesture to which the North has replied, OK, if you guys basically saying, didn't say this out front, basically saying, OK, if you guys want to postpone those exercises, sure. We'll come to your games

But we can expect the North to try to, during these talks, try to keep those military exercises postponed indefinitely, try to poke holes in the international sanctions regime, try to break the international pressure campaign that the U.S. is leading, perhaps try to make it more difficult by befriending, becoming chummier with South Korea, perhaps try to make it more difficult for Washington to seriously consider preemptive strikes or preventive strikes or any type of military action on the nuclear front.

So short answer is yes, why not?

Let's try it but let's keep our eyes wide open, clear-eyed, not starry-eyed. And I do think that the South Korean administration is aware of what traps may come along the way.

STOUT: Yes. And time being, there may be just a short-term pause on the ratcheting up of tensions that we saw take place last year but the underlying reason for those tensions, that problem still exists.

Duyeon Kim, thank you so much for joining us here on the program.

Still to come right here, after the break, some big investors want Apple to fight a growing problem: smartphone addiction among children. And call it a blessing and a curse. A winter storm is bringing

California rain after devastating wildfires. Just ahead, why it's a possible threat for areas scorched by those fires.

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VAUSE: Some of Apple's largest shareholders are pushing the company to address smartphone addiction in children and teens. Recent studies have shown too much time on those iPhones, those smartphones, can affect children's well-being as well as their mental health.

Among the most disturbing trends, smartphone addiction can lead to isolation and higher rates of depression and suicide in teens. Teenagers are also putting off getting their --

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VAUSE: -- driver's licenses or finding jobs because of spending too much time on the iPhone. Teen pregnancy has actually fallen because they don't actually interact with anybody anymore.

After one of the longest dry spells on record and weeks of wildfires, much needed rain is falling across California but that brings the risk of mudslides in areas devastated by those recent fires.

Thousands of residents are under mandatory evacuation orders in Santa Barbara as well as Ventura Counties. A flash flood watch is in effect for about 15 million people.

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VAUSE: Well, from an administration which gave us classics like "front stabber," "lock her up" and "bigly," we now have "executive time."

It's reportedly the hours and hours and hours blocked out for the president to tweet and watch television. But the White House has pushed back on that claim with some alternative facts. Jeanne Moos explains.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Time for something new in the White House --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Executive time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quote/unquote, executive time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the new euphemism for TV watching as executive time.

MOOS: In no time the new time was plastered on a T-shirt because of a scoop by the website Axios.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's schedule has been secretly shrinking.

MOOS: He's reportedly not coming to the office, the Oval Office, until 11:00 am. The White House calls it executive time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says that it's in the Oval Office, but that's not true. He is actually in the residence watching TV, making phone calls, tweeting.

MOOS: How executive time flies to Twitter. I'm going to start calling my naps executive time. Here's Zoe taking some executive time. How we spend our executive time, tweeted Comedy Central.

Executive time sounds like something your dad says as he heads into the bathroom with a stack of magazines and newspapers. Voila, the executive time machine.

The White House press secretary countered saying, "The president is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen and puts in long hours and long days nearly every day of the week all year long."

Remember the days when candidate Trump was dissing Hillary for a lack of energy?

TRUMP: She doesn't have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.

MOOS: It takes stamina just to say stamina.

Hey, if it were not for executive time, maybe we wouldn't have gems like that stable genius tweet. A very stable genius at that, is how the president described himself.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think this: if he doesn't call himself a genius, nobody else will.

MOOS (voice-over): Then he found the genius in the stable to be Mr. Ed the Talking Horse. #stablegeniusgetshisdailybriefing. But even a stable genius likes to kick back and enjoy some executive time -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next with Kate Riley. You're watching CNN.