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North and South Korean Meeting Set; Trump Names Jackson; Trump Calls Rosanne; No Communications Director; Outrage Intensifies Ahead of Clark's Funeral. Aired 9:30-10:00a

Aired March 29, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:30:43] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Today, North and South Korea set a date for the first face-to-face meeting of those country's leaders in more than a decade. It will take place on the southern side of the DMZ on April 27th, potentially just weeks before North Korea's Kim Jung-un actually meets with President Trump.

CNN's Ivan Watson in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

I mean the fact that there's a date, the fact that we now have things in motion, Ivan, is significant.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's going to make history because there have only been two previous summits where North and South Korean people, leaders, have met. The last one was more than ten years ago. So this is consequential.

You're going to have the first meeting ever of these two leaders face- to-face on April 27th. The South Korean official who was leading the South Korean delegation at these talks about the talks that took place on the DMZ today, he said that the agenda for the summit will include denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, settlement of peace and improvement of inter-Korean relations.

That is the most important part, though, denuclearization, because that is what all of the tension and the talk is about. What to do about North Korea's arsenal of nuclear weapons, its repeated threats to envelope Washington, D.C., in fire, for example. And the fact that in the past North Korea has said it is nonnegotiable, disarmament. But now it appears that North Korea is inching or dangling the possibility of discussing this as has been mentioned provided there's cooperation from the U.S. and South Korea.

John.

BERMAN: You know, Ivan, it's fascinating. North Korea is in the middle of a flurry of diplomacy, not just with the South, not just with the United States now, but also with Japan. There's a lot going on all of a sudden.

WATSON: Yes. I mean, just a few months ago, John, North Korea was an international pariah. It was facing increasing sanctions, even from its traditional patron, China, which was having very bad relations, bilateral relations, with North Korea. And now Kim Jung-un, he might feel like the coolest kid in school. He just got the red carpet treatment from Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader who's been declared effectively president for life. He's going to meet the South Korean president in a matter of weeks. President Trump has indicated he wants to meet and he's looking forward to the meeting. The president of the International Olympic Committee is in Pyeongyang right now. And now the Japanese say they too want a meeting with the North Korean leader. What a difference a few months make.

BERMAN: Ivan Watson for us in Seoul.

Ivan, thank you very much.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator and member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

Senator, thank you very much for being with us.

: Good morning.

BERMAN: We see North Korea, we see Kim Jung-un, he'll meet with the leader of South Korea. He just met with Xi Jinping. He's going to meet with the president of the United States, possibly. The United States, President Trump says this is all because of the maximum pressure campaign achieved by the United States. Do you feel like the U.S. deserves credit for this?

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, I think the international sanctions and the pressure has been important. But there's no doubt that Kim Jung-un is the person who's driving this diplomatic initiative. And I've had a chance to meet with a number of former secretaries of state and defense who have negotiated with the North Koreans in the past. And one of the things they said was very important to those negotiations was the preparation that was done beforehand. And we're in a situation where we're missing a secretary of state and a head of the CIA. So we need to think about those preparations so that when President Trump goes into negotiations, he's got somebody there to support him.

BERMAN: Are you confident that the meeting will happen between Kim Jung-un and President Trump?

SHAHEEN: Well, I certainly hope so. I think the -- the talk of negotiations has reduced tensions on the Korean peninsula and that's in everyone's interests. I think getting China -- for the United States to get China and South Korea involved in these negotiations would be helpful so it's not just President Trump against Kim Jung-un.

[09:35:02] So I think we've got a lot of work to do. And it will be interesting to see what comes out, what the specifics are. That's what I'm waiting to hear.

BERMAN: All right, we will come back and speak to you when we learn more on that subject. Let's talk about another cabinet department. You brought up the State

Department. Let's talk about the VA, the Department of Veterans Affairs. The president just fired David Shulkin. Your reaction to that?

SHAHEEN: Well, it was disappointing. I certainly didn't agree with David Shulkin on everything that he had done. But we had a scandal at our VA hospital in New Hampshire. He came in. He took action immediately. He replaced the people who were responsible. And we felt like he handled that very well.

I'm concerned about putting somebody in charge of the VA, the second largest agency within the federal government, who doesn't really have management experience. So I'm waiting to hear what the president's nominee is going to say at his hearing, how he's going to convince us that he has the skills that it's going to take to continue to operate the Veterans Administration, which is so important to our veterans. And we need somebody there who understands that the VA is very important to veterans. And that while we may need to privatize some services, we don't want to privatize the entire Veterans Administration.

BERMAN: You're talking about Dr. Ronny Jackson, an admiral -- a rear admiral in the Navy --

SHAHEEN: I am.

BERMAN: Who has been the presidential physician since the Obama administration. And we have no idea where he stands on privatization or the market and moving the VA towards the market --

SHAHEEN: That's right.

BERMAN: Because I've never read anything he said on that subject, if he has commented on it. Again, he was beloved within the Obama White House and the Trump White House as well. But you have concerns about the managerial experience. Why?

SHAHEEN: Well, because this is a huge agency. It's had a number of scandals and challenges over the last few years. We have a lot of returning service men and women who are coming back from having served overseas. A lot of cases of PTSD and mental health issues. We need somebody who understands how to manage and make this department operate better.

BERMAN: So your vote is to be determined at this point?

SHAHEEN: I want to hear what he has to say.

BERMAN: Let me shift gears, if I can. Obviously it was Sunday night -- it feels like a lifetime ago -- that we heard from Stormy Daniels --

SHAHEEN: It does.

BERMAN: Who alleges that she had a relationship -- a sexual relationship with President Trump and then was threatened basically into signing a non-disclosure agreement. First of all, do you believe her?

SHAHEEN: I watched her interview. I thought she was very believable.

BERMAN: Is there any role for Congress in this matter right now? Right now it's courts -- federal courts who will be weighing in on whether or not this non-disclosure is valid, whether or not there was defamation. Does Congress have an oversight role here?

SHAHEEN: Well, it's hard to know what Congress is going to do here. I've been disappointed in my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, so many of whom have been quiet about the president's transgressions, whether it's his sexual exploit, whether it's his inaction on Russia and taking Vladimir Putin to task, whether it's his name calling, his dismissal of people who have experience in positions and putting his own cronies in. So I have a lot of reasons to -- that I'm concerned about this president. But so far we haven't seen our colleagues on the other side of the aisle say very much about it.

BERMAN: Character concerns are one thing, though. You know, and you cannot like him, you cannot like what he's done or is accused of doing.

SHAHEEN: Absolutely.

BERMAN: The question is, does it go beyond -- does it go beyond a characters issue. Do you think it goes beyond a character issue?

SHAHEEN: Well, I don't think we know that yet. One of the things that has been alleged about the payment to stormy Daniels is that it's an inappropriate financial contribution to the Trump campaign. We need to know more about that. We need to have an investigation and see what was done there. If there is a situation where the law has been broken, then that's where Congress needs to step in.

BERMAN: Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. I know all of your people up in that state will be rooting for the Red Sox on opening day. So, thank you for that. Appreciate it.

SHAHEEN: Absolutely. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, ABC's "Roseanne" premiere was a ratings gold mine. You know who really, really loved it?

Stay with us.

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[09:43:36] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could you have voted for him, Roseanne?

ROSEANNE BARR, ACTRESS, "ROSEANNE": He talked about jobs, Jackie. He said he'd shake things up. I mean this might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the way things are going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse.

BARR: Not on the real news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: ABC's "Roseanne" reboot, a huge ratings winner this week. So big that Roseanne actually got a congratulatory call from, guess who, the president himself.

"60 Minutes," by the way, did not get a congratulatory call after the Stormy Daniels interview Sunday night, although those ratings were bigger.

Joining me now is CNN's senior media consultant -- correspondent, I should say, Brian Stelter.

Brian, the number is huge, 18 million viewers.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: This really is remarkable. And remarkable both as a business story and also as a political or a cultural story. You know normally a new sitcom debuts in 2018 in a world where there's thousands of options all over TV and Netflix and you're lucky to get 5 million, really lucky to get 10 million viewers. Roseanne bringing in 18 million viewers is a testament both to the idea of reboots, you know, the idea that everything old is new again, you bring the show back. People loved it before, they love it again. And it's also a testament to where the country is. You know, here's a screen that shows both the ratings for "Roseanne," which actually drew a higher audience than the series finale almost 20 years ago, 21 years ago.

BERMAN: Which is remarkable. Which is amazing.

STELTER: That never happens.

We put the "60 Minutes" ratings on here as well to put this in perspective. That all things Trump seem to be ratings gold right now. We've seen that in cable news. But especially that Stormy Daniels interview, which set a record for "60 Minutes," a decade record, it's another example of anything related to Trump, to the culture wars, seems to have an appeal.

[09:45:15] And the "Roseanne" show is interesting because Rosanne Barr, both in real life and as a character on the show, is a Trump supporter and some of that drama players out on the show about other members of her family not supporting Trump. So it's kind of reflective of real life in a way that's of significance.

BERMAN: And it was interesting, too, I understood that a lot of the markets where it did particularly well weren't the coastal markets. It was --

STELTER: Yes. And, of course, this is going to be a little bit of a reminder to Hollywood that there's a lot of room for shows about families that live in big cities. There's also room for shows about working class families, like the Barr -- like the Rosanne family that is portrayed on the show.

Actually, we have a clip of Roseanne talking to GMA this morning about the call from the president. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSANNE BARR, ACTRESS: It was pretty exciting, I'll tell you that much, that I -- they said, hold, please, for the president of the United States of America. And, you know, that was about the most exciting thing ever.

You know, he's just happy for me. I've known him for many years and he's done a lot of nice things for me over the years. And so it was just a friendly conversation about working and, you know, television and ratings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: There it is, a reminder that the president is very aware of television ratings from his old job on "The Apprentice," still in his new job as president. Pays close attention to what's working, what's not.

But as you said, John, I don't think Anderson Cooper or "60 Minutes" have received a congratulatory call about the Stormy Daniels interview.

BERMAN: You know, Brian, just crossing while we were doing this -- and, again, I think this is an interesting story because it speaks to the audience that is out there for this type of thing.

STELTER: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: But back to the real White House, as opposed to the imaginary world.

STELTER: Yes.

BERMAN: Our Jeff Zeleny and others are reporting that the president doesn't think -- is being told by friends -- let me make sure I get this right -- that he doesn't need a new communications director. Hope Hicks had her last day. He -- that job is vacant right now. He's been told he doesn't necessarily need an official communications director or maybe even an official chief of staff. What do you make of it?

STELTER: It's -- in any other White House, this would be mind boggling, the idea that such important jobs would be left unfilled. Now, we don't know if the president will actually go ahead and leave these jobs vacant. But the mere idea that he wouldn't need a chief of staff or communications director I'm sure will shock and frankly kind of worry folks who used to have the job.

You know, we both know Bush and Obama communications directors. We know how important those roles were in those White Houses. People organizing events for the president, trying to help him set the agenda, figuring out ways to communicate his message through interviews and events and press conferences. These are not optional jobs. These are vital roles inside any white House. But, as we know with President Trump, he is trying a lot of new things.

BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter, great to have you with us.

We'll have much more on that development ahead.

Also, the family of Stephon Clark getting ready for his funeral today. This as authorities prepare for a new day of protests. We'll have the very latest from Sacramento, next.

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[09:52:32] BERMAN: Later this morning, the funeral for Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police in his grandmother's backyard a little more than a week ago. For days protesters have flooded downtown Sacramento demanding the D.A. charge the officers involved. More protests are expected today.

Our Dan Simon outside the church where the funeral will be held.

Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, John.

The memorial service will get underway in a few hours. It's expected to be a very large crowd. As many as 500 people could attend this service. And Reverend Al Sharpton will actually be delivering the eulogy.

In the meantime, obviously people are still grieving over this incident, but questions still remain, of course, over what happened with the shooting and the aftermath. Specifically questions about those microphones being turned off. That's what you see there in the police body camera video. The family attorney -- civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump addressed that earlier this morning. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR STEPHON CLARK'S FAMILY: This seems like a very suspicious time to do that. And the family believes that that was when they started to try to conspire to try to cover this up and justify -- and justify a shooting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: We have yet to hear directly from the officers to hear their version of events. Keep in mind, one of the officers is African- American. But we are hearing from the Sacramento Police Officers Association and they are defending the officers. They're basically saying that Stephon Clark got into a shooting stance and the officers feared for their lives. This is part of the statement that was released. It says even as tragic as this event is, we cannot ignore the fact that the shooting was legally justified under the law within police policy and in accordance with training.

And, John, more protests expected tonight. But we may not see those protesters go back to the Sacramento Kings basketball game. That's because the Kings announcing that they have actually come up with a partnership with Black Lives Matter to create opportunities for black youth. They've also announced that they have created an education fund for Stephon Clark's children.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Dan Simon covering this story for us in Sacramento.

Dan, thank you very much.

Again, that funeral later this morning.

The president's communications director Hope Hicks is out. Now word that the president is being told he doesn't need a new one or a chief of staff for that matter. Stay with us.

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[09:59:27] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

New reporting just in to CNN about who is in and who is out at the White House and who may never be in again. We're talking about entire jobs that could disappear. Sources confirmed to CNN that outside advisers are telling the president that he does not need a chief of staff or a communications director, at least in the traditional sense of those jobs. There is no communications director as of today. Hope Hicks had her last day yesterday. But there is still a chief of staff. General John Kelly works there, for now.

[10:00:01] All of this less than 24 hours after President Trump fired his Veteran Affairs secretary and nominated the White House doctor to take over. More on that in just a moment.

But let's start with these new developments. CNN's Jeff Zeleny, part of the team that broke the story.