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Migrants Arrive at U.S. Border Seeking Asylum; President Trump Brags in Rally About North Korea Meeting; Trump On North Korea Meeting: "Whatever Happens, Happens"; Migrants Arrive At U.S. Border, Expected To Seek Asylum. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 29, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:03] ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. And thank you for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Fredricka Whitfield. And we begin today with some breaking news this hour.
A dramatic scene on the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants from Central America gathering along a fence between Tijuana and San Diego. They are part of the migrant caravan that has been headed to the U.S. border for weeks. And then on the other side of the fence pro- immigrant protesters have gathered.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is on the Mexican side of the border. She's been covering the passage of this caravan since the very beginning.
Leyla, tell us, set the scene for us. What is happening there.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I want to show you exactly what's happening behind me. You can see on this side there are quite a few people from the caravan that has arrived here to the U.S.-Mexico border. They sort of had this rally of sorts in which they were cheering for them. This is a great sense of accomplishment.
We did see many of them climb the fence. They did not cross. They simply stood there. And then on the other side, on the San Diego side of the border, there were supporters there as well, cheering. We heard many of them chant, we are not criminals. We are migrants wanting to work, wanting a better life. Many of them have talked about the violence that they are fleeing in Central America.
Now we have been following the story of one woman in particular. Her name is Gabriella Hernandez, and she is with me right now. I want to just kind of get her perspective as to -- as to how they're feeling right now.
This is Gabriella, this is Jonathan, her 2-year-old son. Gabriella --
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: So I asked her how she feels seeing that after more than a month of a journey that has been very tough for her, seeing the U.S. on the other side, she said that she's very happy but also very nervous, even fearful of what could be to come when she turns herself in.
I'm going to ask her what now? What is she going to do?
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She says that her plan now is to wait and pray to God that she is not rejected at the U.S.-Mexico border. I'm going to ask her a key question so that everyone can sort of understand. Why is she fleeing? What is this about?
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She's saying the reason she is fleeing, and since we followed her story, I will explain to you, she is fleeing because her children were threatened. Gangs in Honduras actually threatened to kill her child and that is why she left. That is why she is going to the United States of America. Of course, we're continuing to follow her story.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: I'm asking her what is her hope for the future.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She said her hope is to be able to cross, to be given permission to cross and get to her aunt that is on the other side. Now I am going to ask her, what if she's not allowed in?
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She said that's her greatest fear, that she won't be able to leave. Because she says she can't go back to her country.
Gabriella, muchas gracias.
I want to explain to you what sort of the process is in going to the U.S. What this group will be doing, a group of about 100, 200 migrants with this caravan. They plan to go to the port of entry and turn themselves in to seek asylum.
I want to be very clear. That is a legal process. That is the legal way to do it. This group has been criticized by many for illegal actions. This group in particular, they plan to do this the legal way. Gabriella has even said that that is very important to her, to go to the United States in a legal manner seeking asylum.
Now many of the people in this caravan have also opted to stay in Mexico. They are seeking sort of the refugee status here in Mexico. But the common line among all of them is whatever happens, they cannot return to their home country, which for many is Guatemala, Honduras, as well as El Salvador. [14:05:01] Central Americans who say if they go back, their lives
could be threatened. Central Americans just like Gabriella and her two little boys. I should also mention Gabriella is pregnant so for her this has been quite the struggle.
I have watched her climb onto trains, more than 50 hours on buses, nights sleeping on the floor of a shelter, nights where she has given her children food as she herself battles hunger. And so one of the things that she often talks about is that people say to her, you know, why are you going to the U.S., and she often says, a lot of people think I just woke up and said, this is what I want to do. But for her this is a matter of survival.
What will happen in a matter of hours when they go to the port of entry seeking asylum is the big question. What will the United States permit? Already we have heard the attorney general, as well as the president and Department of Homeland Security say that they plan to send a lot more attorneys, have judges on hand to be able to adjudicate these cases, to be able to process them quickly. But that uncertainty is still very much alive and creating the fear for these migrants just like Gabriella.
NOBLES: OK. Leyla Santiago on the ground there at the border of the United States and Mexico, in Tijuana, where these migrants have arrived seeking asylum.
Leyla, thank you for that incredible reporting. We're going to be back to you in a little bit.
We're going to discuss this now with a wide range of voices from all different angles. The president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd is joining me, as well as CNN Opinion writer and immigration analyst, Raul Reyes, and Maria Cardona, a former director of communications for the Department of Justice's Immigration and Naturalization Services, and she's also a CNN political commentator.
Maria, I want to start with you because you were sitting on the set with me, watching Leyla's report, and you were honestly starting to tear up a little bit. Explain to me why this has touched your heart seeing these pictures.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This, as a mother of an 11- year-old daughter and a 13-year-old boy, I can understand what these migrants are going through. I have met them. I know who these people are. Luckily I have not been through the hell that they have been through, but understanding that as a mother, if you are pregnant and you are coming over on a journey where you are battling hunger so that your young children can eat, and you are struggling to leave a country so that your young children don't have to have death threats every single day, that is a matter of life and death, Ryan.
I don't think people -- starting with Donald Trump -- understand what these migrants struggle through. They don't just get up in the morning and say, hey, I think it's a good day to go to the United States. It is hard to leave your home country. It is hard to leave everything you know, your family, your extended family, to a country that you do not know where your next meal is going to come from, if it's going to come.
So to me it is heart-wrenching and it's infuriating when I see Donald Trump's tweets and the way that he talks about this group of migrants as if they were criminals, as if they were dangerous, they are mostly women and children, and to me it also betrays not just -- not just a huge lack of compassion about what these people are going through, but a tremendous and dangerous ignorance of what the immigration situation is and what our immigration law say.
NOBLES: Right. And as we pointed out, as Leyla pointed out in her report, these individuals are seeking asylum. Their goal here is not to cross over the border illegally.
CARDONA: Yes. Exactly.
NOBLES: But I do want to bring Brandon now to the conversation. Brandon obviously works very closely with Border Patrol.
Brandon, from your perspective, how do you think the United States should handle this group of people attempting to cross the border?
BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Well, I think that we have to separate the two issues. If they come to the ports of entry, that is a legal process as long as they're not making a false claim to asylum. But we've already had -- in the Border Patrol yesterday, we've already arrested more than 50 people from this caravan that crossed the border illegally.
Now that is, in fact, a criminal act and it is something that we have to take them into custody for, we have to process them for. Then you also have to consider that if these people that are coming in and are making an asylum claim, it is expected that they're going to show up to their court date sometime later in the future. But 80 percent of those people that make an asylum claim, they never show up to their court date which then also criminalizes the act and makes it a very serious problem for law enforcement agents.
NOBLES: But, Brandon, from your perspective, how do you think the president's rhetoric throughout this conversation has impacted this conversation? Shouldn't the president just talk about this from a legal perspective? Let's bring these folks in.
NOBLES: We'll bring additional lawyers to the border to try to adjudicate this process and figure out the people that deserve to be here and those who should go back to their home countries?
[14:10:05] Does it help at all that he's kind of notched the rhetoric up a bit?
JUDD: Well, I mean, I have to look at the last comment that Secretary Nielsen made, and she was talking about illegal acts. She wasn't talking about legal acts. They are, in fact, sending more judges to the border. They are in fact sending more attorneys to the border, and again, we're going to handle this in two separate issues. The legal issue and the illegal issue, which is the part that I have to deal with, which is the illegal issue.
NOBLES: Right. Raul, how about from your perspective? I mean, is this -- Is the bigger problem the illegal element of this caravan or is this more a humanitarian story that we're dealing with?
RAUL REYES, CNN OPINION WRITER: Well, to be honest, this situation has elements of both. But in my view the Trump administration has mishandled this in two ways. First of all, as Maria pointed out, by characterizing this entire movement as some sort of attempt to storm the border.
REYES: And associating it with criminality, talking about these all alleged rapes which did not happen on the way to the border. That has created this association in the public's mind that these people are trying to sneak into the country illegally, which they're not. They're here to lawfully claim asylum. And under the rules of asylum, people may enter the country without papers or illegally, effectively, but they do have that legal right to ask for asylum. And that is the right under U.S. immigration law, under international law, even on the U.N. High Commission on Refugees.
But how the Trump administration is handling this now, they're now sending more immigration judges to the border, more Border Patrol agents. That's not what they need, because to process these people is basically a two-step process. First they have to establish that they face credible fear of persecution at home. And then the asylum claim will be evaluated. What they need for that is asylum officers.
Now we have a great shortage of those just as we have a shortage of immigration judges. In this entire country, think about the 11 million undocumented people and all the times we talk here about immigration. Our country only has about 353 immigration judges. When the Trump administration sends these judges to the border, that just increases the backlogs for legal immigrants and other undocumented people whose cases are working their way through the courts.
So they have mishandled this, in my view, from start to finish. And again this is a legal process these people are attempting to do and they have the right under international law.
NOBLES: Well, I think, Raul, to a certain extent, what you're alluding to, which is kind of the big elephant in the room with this discussion is that the country's immigration system is broken no matter what side of the issue you tend to be on. And the president actually did talk about that last night during his rally in Michigan.
Listen to what the president had to say about the current immigration system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you watching that mess that's going on right now with the caravan coming up? Are you watching this? And our laws are so weak, they're so pathetic. And let me tell you, we've gotten Mexico to work with us on stopping a lot of what's pouring in, but we have the worst laws anywhere in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, Maria, you know, you can interpret what the president is saying here in many different respects, but it seems to me as though he's saying that these asylum rules may be a little too loose and that the folks that do end up on this border, he's implying that he would like to see fewer of them come in than more.
CARDONA: I actually think if he had said that, then that would make more sense than the way that he is putting it. I don't think he's put any thought into this at all, other than to frame this in the terms for his base, which the way that he talks about it at these rallies and the way that he has refereed to these migrants in the caravan, that's nothing but political crap for his base, Ryan. And he does that repeatedly when he's in political trouble.
Going into the midterms, he's in political trouble. The problem with that is there is no question that our immigration laws are broken, that our immigration system is broken. We, as you know, have been trying to deal with this for years and years and years. There was a terrific opportunity in 2013 to pass a comprehensive immigration law that could have fixed a lot of this. It was even passed by the famous Gang of 8, including Republican senators.
It went to the House of Representatives, back then set up by John Boehner, who famously told Barack Obama that he was not going to bring it to a vote in the House of Representatives because he could not have a law that would pass with majority Democratic support and minority Republican support. This puts it square in the lap of Republicans for the reason why immigration laws are not fixed today, and Donald Trump is taking advantage of that in a way that to me is contrary to every American civic principle and the way that this country was founded.
NOBLES: OK. All right --
REYES: Ryan, you know, if I could jump in, I just want to mention that this is very much contrary to our rule of law because our Congress, when they established the rules governing the number of people admitted each year for asylum.
[14:15:03] Unlike virtually every other category under immigration law, there are no limits on the number of people who are admitted for asylum from year to year and that's because people who apply for asylum are fleeing desperate situations. But this is not what Trump calls a mess. This is a humanitarian crisis. And these people, many of them children, are coming from some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
NOBLES: Right. The vast majority of this migrant group is not from Mexico. They're from Central American countries.
CARDONA: Exactly. NOBLES: In desperate situations. And Brandon, I know you want the
opportunity to weigh in. Unfortunately we have to take a quick break. We're obviously going to keep a very close eye on this story. This is developing now along the U.S.-Mexico border so we're not just going to leave it but we have to stop this conversation for this brief moment, and we are going to take a quick break and we will be back.
These are breaking news stories right now. Live pictures in Tijuana, Mexico along the U.S. -- United States border. A migrant caravan seeking asylum has reached the United States.
Plus, the president taking a post-rally victory lap today as he sets his sights on his upcoming historic sit-down with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. We're learning new details about that meeting. We'll check in with our live reporter at the White House when we come back.
[14:20:47] NOBLES: President Trump is taking a post-rally victory lap today, touting his Michigan reelection speech as a, quote, "big success," while bashing the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner as a big, boring bust. And as journalists and politicians were gathered in Washington for a night of pointed jokes and jabs, the president also taking a few shots at his favorite targets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The only collusion is the Democrats colluded with the Russians, and the Democrats colluded with lots of other people. They are very, very dishonest people. Fake news. Comey is a liar and a leaker, and if our Justice Department was doing the right thing, they would be a lot tougher right now on those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: But he didn't stop there. The president also taking full credit for the North Korea breakthrough, basking in the crowd's praise as they chanted, "Nobel."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CROWD CHANTING "Nobel")
TRUMP: That's very nice, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: The president also giving a timeline for his historic sit- down with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, saying the meeting could happen in the next three to four weeks.
CNN's Boris Sanchez, he's live at the White House now. He was in Michigan last night.
Boris, details of this meeting are starting to take shape. What more can you tell us? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan, we know
that both of these men, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, will have plenty to discuss. As you noted, as President Trump was basking in the glow of his supporters' chants last night, it was really his relatively newly minted National Security adviser John Bolton who lay out an outline of what the two .
Not only is denuclearization on the table but also North Korea's ballistic missile program, their biological and chemical weapons programs, Americans that are imprisoned in North Korea, as well as a litany of other regional issues and obviously the sanctions that the Trump administration contends have forced Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table.
Bolton was cautiously skeptical, especially in light of some recent comments reportedly from Kim Jong-un that he is not the kind of person that uses nuclear weapons, and his invitation to foreigners to come into his country and watch the decommissioning of this nuclear facility, Bolton was sort of hesitant to put too much stock into Un's reported comments. He was, however, clear about who he feels the credit should be going to. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that Kim Jong-un is ready to negotiate away his weapons, or is he just trying to soften his image?
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I don't think we know at this point. I think if he has made a strategic determination that North Korea would be better off without nuclear weapons, then I think we've got something to talk about, and I think the president would be eager to capitalize on the opportunity. But I think it's clear we're here where we are today because of the pressure that the Trump administration has put on North Korea. Economic pressure, political military pressure. And I think it's up to the North Koreans to show us that they really do intend to give up nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And despite the optimistic tone coming from the Korean peninsula, Ryan, as you know, there is plenty of reason to be skeptical. We've seen similar denuclearization deals fall apart with North Korea before, and specifically on that indication that Kim Jong- un would allow outside observers into North Korea, you might recall back in 2008, he invited foreign observers to watch the destruction of this water tower that was used to enrich plutonium, and the tone was again optimistic there, but it soon became evident that there were other facilities also being used to enrich plutonium. So it's not really clear exactly how much stake the U.S. is putting into Un's comments now -- Ryan.
NOBLES: All right. Boris Sanchez live at the White House. Boris, thank you for that update.
So let's talk about this now. Joining me to discuss, CNN political analyst and congressional reporter for the "Washington Post," Karoun Demerjian, CNN political analyst and professor at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer, and CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd.
[14:25:02] Sam, let's start with you. Things are starting to come together for this Trump-North Korea meeting. It seems like they're moving a little bit more every single day. What's your take right now?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: My take is from a security perspective we are definitely better off than where we were. We don't have rockets flying, so that's good. But I think that John Bolton has rightly placed some -- poured some cold water on the president's statements that Kim is an honorable man and being very open in these negotiations. And we have to be very wary of shiny objects right now. Kim is saying, OK, we're going to stop nuclear tests, we're going to close down this facility.
Well, we have to ask why he's doing this. It's not an olive branch. He's taking these steps and making these pronouncements because he said we don't need these things anymore. So we might have, you know, test facility close down in a few weeks. We could have American journalists and experts there and Kim could use it as a celebration of the fact that he doesn't need it anymore because he's achieved nuclear capability. That would be very embarrassing.
NOBLES: All right. OK, so the president also weighing in on some new reports that the Russian lawyer, a key player in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, is actually a Kremlin informant. Listen to what the president had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Have you heard about the lawyer? For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, I know nothing. Now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. You know why? If she did that, because Putin and the group said, you know, this Trump is killing us. Why don't you say that you're involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic. Look at what's happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion. Give me a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Well, there's a lot of ways we can go out of that, Karoun. I mean, first, I guess basically, the most important question here is, is the president smart to even be talking about this particular topic given the legal implications?
KAROUN DEMERJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think -- absolutely not especially because he's talking off the cuffs, he's saying things that haven't necessarily been vetted by his team, and sort of creating exposure for liability when he's potentially going to be talking to Bob Mueller's team fairly soon.
Look, in a vacuum, the president is saying Putin switches up his game sometimes if he feels it's not working, that's accurate. That is how Putin works. However, this is not vacuum. However, he's not the best messenger for that message really because it would be, you know, advantageous to him to say, oh, yes, sure, that's just an expressed fact, I'm saying there might be connections here to, you know, throw sand on the fact that there seems to be connections developing, which means this lawyer who met with his top campaign advisers including his relatives, you know, during the campaign.
So his theory would be great if it were a theory, but it's not. Actually he's under investigation. People near him are under investigation and him saying this right now seems like he's potentially admitting to something. He maybe, maybe not, but he's not the person to be spinning this particular line that he's trying to spin.
NOBLES: Right, exactly.
So, Julian, we also heard once again President Trump slam the Russia investigation, saying over again there's no collusion, it's a witch hunt. He's also bragging about how tough he is on Russia. This is a line we hear over and over again from the president. Is this really about, you know, standing up to Russia, or is this about firing up his base like he did last night?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's about firing up the base, it's about controlling the political narrative about any issue. This is what President Trump does repeatedly. He will take any story, good or bad, and he tries to craft the way in which we should think about it. So here you have this meeting. It looks like it was exactly what he said it wasn't, but now he's telling it in a way that explains he's on the right side. And the Russians are actually trying to undermine him.
Just because he says he's tough on Russia doesn't mean he is, and I think the facts don't bear that out. So this is really, I think, a political move to try to counteract the critics and counteract the --
NOBLES: Are there national security implications to this, Sam? If he goes out and says that he's tough on Putin when he actually isn't?
VINOGRAD: Well, I actually agree with President Trump on this one. I think that this decision to let this woman -- whatever she was, a lawyer, in air quotes, an informant, a consultant, a Russian foot soldier, say on U.S. television.
VINOGRAD: That she had ties to the Kremlin probably was sanctioned by Putin. I agree that it was to sow discord. And I think what it shows is that Putin has no great love for Donald Trump. Putin denigrated and described it at Hillary Clinton during the campaign because he wanted Trump to win. Again not because he was bromancing with President Trump but because Trump said that he wanted to work with Russia. So what we may be seeing is that Russians saying, OK, you have sanctioned our oligarchs, you did expel diplomats and seized diplomatic properties, we don't like it so we're going to poke you in the face and send a signal that we can release this information when it suits us.
NOBLES: Now, Julian mentioned narrative setting by the president, one of his favorite things, he's continuing to try to write a new narrative, as it relates to Ronny Jackson, who is his failed attempt to become the next VA secretary. And he's using it to go against Jon Tester, the senator from Montana who's up for reelection in the fall. Listen to what the president had to say about this last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is a high quality individual like they would love in Montana and Tester started throwing out things that he heard. I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he would never be elected again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, Karoun, why isn't he saying them?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know if there's anything necessarily to say. You have to take into account there are Republicans that work with Tester. Tester would have said these things, yes, but Johnny Isakson has basically given Tester cover, doesn't think he did anything wrong.
Jerry Moran, who is actually critical of the findings, also said he doesn't think Tester has really done anything wrong here. So, the president is making this play saying, it's an innuendo, it's bad, but I'm going to do the same thing as Jon Tester.
He knew he needs a GOP to back him up on it and they are not right now. At least the people who could have said this is wrong --
NOBLES: He's getting some cover from the RNC, but not from other Republicans.
DEMIRJIAN: And this is happening in the Senate because they're the ones who needed to confirm and they are not in lockstep with the president right now, which tells you that there is space there. So, if he's going to keep driving this, he may be alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he got it out to the public, he got that story out there in that allegation that's what he wants to do.
NOBLES: Set the stage for the 2018 midterms. All right. Julian, Karoun, thank you. Sam, thank you as well. Great discussion as always.
Still ahead, President Trump says he could meet with Kim Jong-un in the next three to four weeks. This as the North Korean dictator says he's willing to allow American journalists in to witness the shutdown of his nuclear test facility. So, why such a dramatic change in thinking now? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBLES: President Trump is now putting a timeline on his historic meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think we'll have a meeting over the next three or four weeks. It's going to be a very important meeting. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula of North Korea. Denuke! Denuke! But we'll see how it goes, and again, whatever happens, happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And North Korea says it is offering to make concessions to achieve a deal with the U.S., including shutting down its nuclear site and allowing inspections by journalists and experts, and even saying it is willing to disarm if the U.S. promises not to invade.
Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley. He is live in Seoul, South Korea right now. And Will, are these concessions by North Korea -- are they significant as they seem?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are the most significant concessions when it comes to the nuclear program since they destroyed the cooling tower at Young Bjong (ph), the nuclear facility in 2008. However, I will say the North Koreans are very good at building. They built an entire block of high-rises in about a year.
So, yes, they are going to destroy the tunnels at (inaudible) and allow international experts and journalists to observe, just like they did back in 2008. However, that could pretty easily be rebuilt if these things were to fall apart in these discussions with President Trump.
So, we always need to keep in mind that the North Koreans always have a backup plan. They are never going to fully give up their leverage. We know that there are other things they plan to talk about with President Trump as well, other concessions that they are willing to discuss.
They want to talk about formally ending the Korean war, replacing the 1953 armistice with a peace treaty. They're actually going to be changing their time zone from Pyongyang time, which is 30 minutes behind Seoul standard time. They're going to change their time zone to align with Seoul because they're hoping for more cooperation with South Korea.
And they say they're going to discuss the release of three Americans, three U.S. citizens, who remain imprisoned in North Korea. I met one of them a couple of years ago. He's the longest American prisoner in that country, Kim Dong-tsol (ph). Hopefully President Trump could walk away from the meeting with the release of those three Americans as well. It's something we've been saying for several weeks now, that he might be able to walk away with that as a concession to the North Koreans -- Ryan.
NOBLES: All right. Will Ripley, thank you for that update from South Korea. I want to bring in Abraham Denmark. He is the former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the director of the Wilson Center's Asia Program.
[14:40:08] Abraham, the president struck a pretty skeptical note in his speech last night, basically saying, we'll see, we'll see what happens. At the same time, he was also promised completely a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. I mean, is it right, though, for the United States to go into this meeting a little skeptical North Korea's motives?
ABRAHAM DENMARK, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR EAST ASIA: I'd say it's right to go in very skeptical of North Korea's motives. Let me take you back to 2005. President Bush included North Korea as a member of the Access Of Evil, and a few years later, we signed an agreement with North Korea as part of the six-party talks in which we discussed a lot of the issues that are being discussed now.
In this document that came out in 2005, the United States agreed to (inaudible) any aggression against North Korea. All those parties agreed to a peace treaty. North Korea agreed to denuclearize.
And just 13 months after that, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. So heavy skepticism is very appropriate.
NOBLES: And so, one of the things that Kim Jong-un is looking for is a promise that the U.S. will never invade North Korea. Is that a realistic promise that the United States can make?
DENMARK: Well, we can make those promises. We have made those promises in the past. The key here, even after we come to some sort of agreement, is the sequence. What the North Koreans have traditionally said, what Kim Jong-un seems to be saying is that the United States needs to do all these things first.
We need to sign the peace treaty, we need to forswear any aggression, we need to reduce our military presence on the peninsula, and then maybe after that point, North Korea may denuclearize. The Trump administration is saying the opposite, North Korea needs to denuclearize and then we'll give them potentially what they need.
So, really the key here is what is the deal? But the really hard work comes after the deal is signed when we start talking about sequencing, implementation and especially verification.
NOBLES: I want to play something for you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier. He's a key player in these negotiations. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We talked about serious matters. He was very well prepared. I hope I matched that. We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries. I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left, Kim Jong-un understood the mission exactly as I've described it today, and he agreed he was prepared to talk about that and to lay out a map that would help us achieve that objective. Only time will tell if we can get that done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, from your perspective, do you think that the United States State Department and the Trump administration in particular is prepared to go into such a high stakes negotiation, particularly when you've got someone like Mike Pompeo, who even though he's been involved in this, he's only been secretary of state for about a week. This is a pretty big undertaking to take so early on in his tenure, isn't it?
DENMARK: It's a tremendous undertaking. If you look at the Iran deal under Obama administration, that took years of very intense engagements with the Iranians, Chinese, the Russian officials and the Europeans.
The Trump administration is really putting themselves in the beginning of a very long and difficult process. While there is still tremendous expertise across the U.S. government, the State Department and the Pentagon even the White House, still.
The key question is if top leaders in the United States government are listening to those experts and two, if they are willing to devote their tremendous amount of capital that would be needed in order to keep these negotiations moving forward, especially considering the roadblocks and the obstacles that the Chinese may throw in, North Koreans may throw in. It's a very difficult process that we are getting to the beginning of.
NOBLES: Yes, and that leads into my next question. There's obviously some very powerful leaders in this region, right? You have President Xi of China. Prime Minister Abe wants to be involved in this from Japan. You know, how important will the roles be of all these different and powerful countries in this region?
DENMARK: Absolutely critical. The president has had fairly good communications with all the key leaders. The Chinese have especially signaled by hosting Kim Jong-un. They're not going to be cut out of this. Prime Minister Abe from Japan came and visited President Trump.
And as we move forward on these decisions and on these issues, what's especially going to be important is coordinating with U.S. allies in Korea and Japan. It's been suggested that the United States and South Korea may look to reduce our military posture in the region, that our posture may be on the table.
Ensuring that whatever concessions we offer is being coordinated with our allies is especially critical, and any decisions we make is going to fundamentally change the geopolitics and especially the security situation not just on the Korean Peninsula but across East Asia.
NOBLES: Wow, a lot of stakes for sure. Abraham Denmark, very terrific analysis. We appreciate you being here. Thank you.
DENMARK: Thanks for having me.
NOBLES: All right. Still to come in our breaking news, a dramatic scene on the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants from Central America gathering around the fence between Tijuana and San Diego.
NOBLES: We are following breaking news right now. A dramatic scene unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants from Central America are gathering along a fence between Tijuana and San Diego. They're part of a migrant caravan that has been headed to the U.S. border for weeks. And then on the other side of the fence, pro-immigrant protesters have gathered.
And joining me now to discuss this is W. Kamau Bell, the host of CNN's "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA." Tonight's premier episode is actually all about this particular topic. So, Kamau, when you see these pictures playing out on the southern border, what are your thoughts?
W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, CNN "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": I mean, I think it's important that we put human faces on the problem of border security and the problem of how the United States approaches the U.S.- Mexico border.
[14:50:08] And so on our show tonight, we went to the Keno border initiative where we saw people who just got off the bus, after being deported from the United States of America. It's important to see the people who are the victims of the United States' policies towards Mexico and border security.
NOBLES: Leyla Santiago was our reporter down at the border. She actually had a mother with her who had a baby, she's pregnant right now. Do you think not enough Americans see that side of this conversation?
BELL: You know, most Americans don't live on the U.S.-Mexico border, but most Americans have an opinion about it. So, with "UNITED SHADES" tonight and also with reporting here, you have to actually see what's going on down there and connect with the individuals.
The image that President Trump creates of the border is of a violent place that's full of criminals trying to cross the border, but a lot of people are just searching for a new life and the United States has marketed itself as the land of opportunity.
NOBLES: What do you think about the president's rhetoric? I mean, he talked about this caravan three different times last night during his speech in Michigan. He was not talking about it kindly. Do you think his kind of almost angry rhetoric about this topic is helping the conversation about immigration policy in the United States?
BELL: No, I don't want to say his angry rhetoric is helping, because, you know, you can't fart in the car and then get happy when the windows are rolled down. I think the rhetoric is the rhetoric. The rhetoric is actually hurting people. We have to believe in these migrants and believe the border policies are not good, and we have to push these stories out there.
NOBLES: Let's play a clip from your program tonight on this particular topic. Let's watch.
BELL: What's your name, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
BELL: Tell me about Nogales, Arizona.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's gone. The way I grew up here is gone. I got a family in both sides. My mother was born over here. My father over there.
BELL: But in those days it was easier to go back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, not anymore. After 9/11, the crossing was very difficult. So, businesses started dying and dying. Now it's empty.
BELL: You see a lot of the businesses are closed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The economy is terrible here. There's not a lot of stuff to do.
BELL: So, you think it should be easier to go back and forth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that will help. I live here and I have a restaurant over there.
BELL: You have a restaurant. What kind of food?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mexican food.
BELL: I thought maybe, but --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tequila is on me.
BELL: Really, what's it called?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leo's Cafe.
NOBLES: I guess it could have been a Danish restaurant. BELL: I was trying not to assume it's just Mexican food in Mexico.
NOBLES: I get it. What you surprised you the most about this visit that you profiled in your story?
BELL: You know, we talked a lot about the wall and the idea that there is already a wall down there, but we talked about the idea of a Trump wall. We talked about people who live in Mexico, we talked to people on the border who were white people, and nobody was in favor of the wall.
Everybody goes like the more security that is put on the border, the more dangerous the border becomes. The harder it is for commerce to go back and forth. Nogales, Arizona, where I was very economically depressed and a lot of it is because Mexicans can't come across and buy goods and services over there.
NOBLES: All right. You've already won an Emmy for your work on "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" if anybody has seen those promos. You're kicking off your second season kicking off with another episode tonight --
BELL: This is the third season, third season.
NOBLES: I'm sorry. W. Kamau Bell, thank you so much. "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," the third season tonight at 10:15 p.m. right here on CNN.
There is much more ahead in the NEWSROOM. First, some of the most beautiful scenery in the Eastern United States can be found in West Virginia. In tonight's "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain discovers how much the state is much more than meets the eye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": It tends to tell the same story. What does everybody miss? If you were describing the best things, strong families, strong culture, gun rights. The countryside is uniquely beautiful. How many places look like this? Church goer. I don't say grace before dinner, but every meal I've had here, people do. Heartfelt expressions is something people deeply believe in. I respect that. So, is this the South?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just consider it more (inaudible). We're along the morals of --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: To see more, tune in to "PARTS UNKNOWN" tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
NOBLES: Hello from Washington, D.C. Thanks for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles in for Fredricka Whitfield. President Trump is taking a post-rally victory lap today touting his Michigan reelection speech as, quote, "a big success" while bashing the annual White House Correspondents Dinner as a big, boring bust.
And as journalists and politicians were gathered in Washington for a night of pointed jokes and jabs, the president also taking a few shots at --