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Trump Welcomes Three American Detainees from North Korea; Details for U.S.-North Korea Summit Will Soon be Announced; Three Ex- Detainees Return From North Korea; Administration Moving Forward On Summit; Israel Retaliates For Missile Attack; Clients Paid Cohen For Legal Advice; Global Stocks Rise On Higher Oil Prices. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 10, 2018 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ISHA SESAY, HOST, CNN: -- just only there for at Joint Base Andrews. If you're just joining us we're coming up to top of the hour, midnight here on the West Coast, 3 a.m. we're approaching on the East Coast of the United States.
And if you are just joining us you are looking at the aircraft carrying those recently freed Americans, freed from North Korean prisons. They have now touched down on U.S. soil.
Aboard that aircraft the U.S. president and the first lady, Melania Trump, who made the journey from Washington from the White House to Joint Base Andrews to personally welcome them home.
JOHN VAUSE, HOST, CNN: This has been a journey which began about 20 hours earlier when these three men were escorted on to the plane although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had flown there to essentially negotiate the final stages of their release and also to talk about that upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
And there were have the first lady Melania and just behind her, her husband, the president, Donald Trump, and the three men.
SESAY: And the three men.
VAUSE: Here they are.
SESAY: The president and the first lady giving them the handshake and letting them take in the moment.
VAUSE: And they look in not only good spirit but a good health.
JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, I'm still here.
SESAY: Jeff Zeleny, although we're watching these pictures there, and as you say no family members there but a lot of press.
ZELENY: A lot of press and also the cheering that you heard there, that was from the airmen and women who are stationed here at Joint Base Andrews. This is a moment, I can say you can -- you can feel the gravity and
weight of this moment as we watch this, you know, incredible scene here.
One of the gentlemen throws his hands in the air as they descend these steps here to take their steps on American soil on U.S. soil. Of course, they landed in Alaska briefly but now they are greeting the Vice President, Mrs. Pence, and Secretary Pompeo.
And again, the cheers you can hear here from the men and women in the armed forces who are watching this happen here. There's not a crowd of other folks here. It is just the people who are working at the base.
But as we can see the handshakes here keep an eye on the president and the first lady, he is likely to come this way and he may make remarks and we'll see if he indeed answers our questions about this moment here.
They certainly want to capture this moment for history, and let's watch.
VAUSE: Here we are, 3.02 in the morning at Joint Base Andrews and the three American detainees and the president of the United States and the first lady of the United States. Now back home.
VAUSE: Our Boris Sanchez -- sorry -- he's at the White House. And Boris, I guess one of the issues with North Korea is that, as far as Donald Trump is concerned, he sees North Korea as, you know, a real possibility to a moment of -- I think we're about to hear from the president. Stand by for a moment.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are really three incredible people. And the fact that we're able to get them so soon was really a tribute to a lot of things including a certain process that's taking place right now. And that process is very important. So we will see what happens.
We have a meeting schedule in a very short period of time. You'll be hearing about it soon. We have the location set and we will see if we can do something that people did not think was going to happen for many, many years and a lot of bad things could have happened in between.
So, I just want to say this is a special night for these three great people. And congratulations on being in this country. Thank you.
How does it feel to be home?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like a dream and we're very, very happy.
TRUMP: How are you treated, you have to give them answer.
[03:05:00] (FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we were treated in many different ways. For me, I have to do a lot of labor but when I got sick I was also treated by them.
TRUMP: My proudest achievement will be this is a part of it, but will be when we denuclearize that entire peninsula. This is what people have been waiting for, for a long time. Nobody thought we can be on this track in terms of speed.
So, I'm very honored to have helped the three folks. They are great people. You know, I got -- I got to speak on them on the plane, these are great people. They've been through a lot but it's a -- it's a great honor.
But the great -- the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: No, not at all. We very much appreciate that he allowed them to go before the meeting. It was sort of understood that we'd be able to get these three terrific people during the meeting and bring them home after the meeting. And he was nice in letting them go before the meeting.
I mean, frankly, we didn't think this was going to happen and it did. So, you could say we're a little bit ahead. It was a very important thing to all of us to be able to get these three great people out.
And I must tell you I want to pay my warmest respects to the parents of Otto Warmbier who is a great young man who really suffered. And his parents have become friends of ours, they are spectacular people and I just want to pay my respects. I actually called them the other day and Mike called them also, Mike Pence. They are really incredible people.
TRUMP: I think our secretary of state, despite the fact that the New York Times said he was missing, he was in North Korea, but I think our secretary of state has done a fantastic done.
Mike, did you know that you are missing, they couldn't find you. They couldn't find him.
TRUMP: They couldn't find him because he was in North Korea, you know. I just want -- I don't want to comment on whether or not I spoke to him.
(OFF-MIC) TRUMP: Well, we're starting off on a new footing. This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early. That was a big thing. Very important to me. And I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful. And if anybody would have said that five years ago, 10 years ago, even a year ago, you would have said that's not possible.
So, a lot -- I will say this. A lot of very good things have happened.
TRUMP: Say it?
TRUMP: I really think he wants to do something. I think he did this because I really think he wants to do something and bring that country into the real world. I really believe that, John, and I think, I think that we're going to have a success. I think this will be a very big success.
It's never been taken this far, there's never been a relationship like this and we're starting from here. But I really think a lot of progress has been made and we'll see what happens. We're talking about a few weeks, I guess many of you will be with us, but some great things can happen and that's what we hope.
So I want to thank you all. It's very early in the morning. I think you probably broke the old time in history television rating for 3 o'clock in the morning, that I would say. But I want to just congratulate. These are three great people and congratulations.
TRUMP: Thank you. Congratulations. Thank you. It happens.
VAUSE: We've been looking to Donald Trump there making some (Inaudible) we know that ratings we're bringing at 3 o'clock in the morning could be very well true. He also talk about the motivation.
VAUSE: Why Kim Jong-un has released these three men at this point in time. He thinks he really -- that Kim Jong-un really wants to do something this time. And he wants (Inaudible) although this is the real sign that they are serious about negotiations and progress will be made.
[03:10:08] I guess he said it was very nice of Kim Jong-un to let the three men go before the summit takes plce.
SESAY: Yes. Jeff Zeleny is there at Joint Base Andrews. I mean, Jeff, you also from what we just heard from the president specifically his comments on Kim Jong-un. We keep saying this, I mean, it is remarkable the change in tenor and tone on the part of the president when it comes to talking about the North Korean leader.
ZELENY: No question about it. I mean, this is someone who the president, you know, refer to as rocket man but even more than that. I mean, when he was delivering a speech to the United Nations last fall, I remember being in Seoul, South Korea watching the president really, you know, take Kim Jong-un to task and belittle him in a personal way.
All that was gone. You saw the president have nothing but respect and praise for him. I think one of the more interesting answers to the brief questions the president was taking there was why do you think Kim Jong-un is doing this. And he said that I think he wants to do something, I think he wants to bring this country into the new world.
So, I think that that is the open question here. But one thing that is clear the president wants to make a deal. He wants to have a bit of history of his own. He did not like the Iran nuclear deal from the beginning largely because it was negotiated by President Obama. He wants to do something big and he believes it is indeed this.
ZELENY: But he said, yes, he believes this is an honor, he believes this is a big moment, but also he made clear that the biggest moment of course will come through a true change in the nuclear weapons program in North Korea.
One question here is, what is the United States willing to concede or give up. That certainly will be something now that is part of the discussions. Of course it's clear what the president expects Kim Jong- un to give up but what is the president willing to give up.
So, these talks certainly will be complicated in every way, but now the United States has more information about Kim Jong-un than ever before.
Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, former CIA director has spent more time face-to-face with him than anyone of course in American history.
So, you can be sure the next few weeks here will be spent studying his, you know, his habits what he wants to hear and like, and the president of course will have all that on his shoulder when he sits face-to-face with Kim Jong-un likely in Singapore likely in about one months' time. John?
VAUSE: Again, Jeff, thank you. We would like you to stay with us. Standing by also in Seoul, South Korea, Ivan Watson. And Ivan, yes, Mike Pompeo through those surprise visit like around Easter that we found out about few weeks afterwards, there was another second trip as secretary of state, but there was also the role that the Swedish have playes in all of this. Their negotiators actually played a role in getting these three men freed from their North Korean prison.
IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right. Because the U.S. doesn't have diplomatic representation in Pyongyang, it's the Swedish embassy that handles that. And we heard that the North Korean foreign minister had proposed initially the possibility of releasing them during a trip to Sweden previously.
So, Sweden playing a role as an intermediary when you did not have really direct formal ties between these two governments. And now of course we've had Mike Pompeo travel twice to Pyongyang in under two months.
But worth noting also, you know, you heard President Trump there saying that it look like things were ahead of schedule that the three American detainees had been released.
When Mike Pompeo was flying to Pyongyang on this most recent trip he told reporters a, he wasn't sure whether or not he would get face-to- face time with Kim Jong-un, and b, he wasn't sure whether or not he would be able to secure the release of the three men.
And it did turn out that he had about 90 minutes sitting down with Kim Jong-un. And as we of course have seen he return with these three men. We only heard from one of them on the tarmac, that's Kim Dong Chul who was detained in October of 2015, he spent the longest amount of time in North Korean custody.
And when he was asked about his treatment and how he was treated, he said, you know, we were treated in many different ways. He said that he had been through a great deal of manual labor but then that when he would became sick when he became ill he was treated for that illness.
[03:14:55] He was speaking Korean through a translator there. And he would have spent the longest amount of time.
I think we all can see that this is not a repeat of the tragic case of Otto Warmbier which President Trump mentioned, highlighted, where that American university student was returned last year to American diplomats in a vegetative state, suffering some kind of brain injury and dying shortly afterwards.
So this would be a relief certainly to the family members of these three released American citizens.
WATSON: Very important to note, the South Korean government here has welcomed this released, John, they're calling for the release of at least six South Korean citizens currently in North Korean custody. John.
VAUSE: Ivan, just very quickly. We know this is being covered by North -- by the media in North Korea, what sort of coverage they are getting at and how is it being dealt it?
WATSON: South Korean TV has been running with these live images. North Korea put out a statement its state media about the Pompeo visit with Kim Jong-un.
And that was so striking, John and Isha, because it said it's quoted Kim Jong-un congratulating Pompeo on his appointment to the position of secretary of state from the CIA director's position, saying that he warmly and sincerely greeted America's new top diplomat.
The fact that you have this kind of language coming from North Korean state media which just months ago was talking about enveloping American cities in nuclear fire is nothing less than striking and underscores how rapid the diplomatic changes have been in just a matter of months here.
VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. And again, please stay with us.
SESAY: Jeff Zeleny, to you at Joint Base Andrews. It is notable and I wish this shouldn't let pass this as the president welcome these three Americans back home, in those remarks he also hit two familiar note.
One would be to reference ratings and say that this is what we're going to break the record for ratings at 3 a.m. and we know the president is fond of talking about ratings. And secondly, to hit out at the New York Times.
ZELENY: Yes. I mean, that was classic President Trump could not have gotten through a moment even one as, you know, as symbolic and weighty as this one without talking about the ratings.
I mean, you could see the glimmer in his eye when he looked him saw all of the television cameras had come for him at 3 o'clock in the morning here in Washington. And he made the joke as you said that it was the best ratings for, you know, any show at 3 a.m. Eastern Time in Washington.
But also he did take a shot, as you said at the New York Times. He's been doing this for several days, specifically about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he was referencing a criticism that it was in the editorial pages earlier.
But I think, you know, setting that aside, the president clearly was enjoying this moment. He was also a saying, you know, this is a special night. Congratulations for being in your country. So, you know, fraught with symbolism is certainly weighted with symbolism.
The president now is heading back to the White House getting a bit of sleep perhaps before he begins his day on Thursday.
But boy, the real work actually begins on diplomacy now as they work toward setting up the final details of that meeting.
It will be announced officially in the coming days, and certainly he will be meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to debrief him, and again make a strategy really for that face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong-un. That will be the biggest diplomatic presidential moment that Donald Trump has ever faced and it will take some planning and preparation.
VAUSE: OK. Jeff, thank you. And again, we're looking at the images we're talking just moments ago of the U.S. president deplaning, I guess you say with the three American detainees who were now back on American soil. They briefly stop in Alaska for refueling but this is the moment.
VAUSE: When they're home. Kenneth Choi is standing by for us in Seoul. He is the international editor of the Chosun Ilbo which is major newspaper in South Korea, but we just lost him unfortunately.
VAUSE: So communicating (Ph) problem. So, but he's back. OK. Kenneth, I understand you're with us. As you watch these images and you watch everything play out there with the U.S. president with these three American detainees, all the words of goodwill and the good gestures which are coming from both sides, does it give you hope for the future or does it just gave you this could go very badly. How easier?
KENNETH CHOI, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, CHOSUN ILBO: Well, I think it's a good sign, it's moving in a positive direction. And as President Trump said that, you know, Chairman Kim, Kim Jong-un wants something happened for sure. So, on his side it's a goodwill gesture.
[03:20:00] But I just want to point this out. You know, the North Korean authority detained these three people and they charged, you know, the spying charges on these people but I think it's a baseless thing.
Because, you know, look, as you have seen these three people on video they were sort of three old men, 12 of them are professors at the Pyongyang University for Science and Technology and they were there to teach North Korean students and these North Korean authorities charge them for spying.
The other person Kim Dong Chul is a pastor. Obviously, he has no freedom of speech but he was there for humanitarian purposes and they detained him for spying on the nuclear issues on North Koreans stuff like that.
But you know, just come to think of it how much of these people can spy on North Korean nuclear facilities. So, from the beginning I think this was a baseless charges on these three people. But at the same time, you know, North Korean release these three and I think they are willing to do something with President Trump.
And I just want to point out that actually, you know, Koreans was seeing these three people on video they feel pretty good, because, you know, America sent the message. American government do care for its citizens. So, you know, the South Koreans do hope that they can get those six people that actually detained in North Korea to be back home as well.
CHOI: I think that's--
VAUSE: That's a good point.
CHOI: Yes, the sign is a good sign.
VAUSE: That's a good point, Kenneth, that you make that he release (Inaudible) on charges in the first place, they are really detained in detention by the North Koreans.
SESAY: And Kenneth, you make the point that it signals to you that Kim Jong-un is willing to make a deal of some sort. But the question is, what kind of deal and is it the same deal that President Trump is looking for which is complete denuclearization. I mean, that is ultimately the biggest test here.
CHOI: The general analysis is that, you know, the two people are talking different terms on nuclear issues. Yes, President Trump wants, you know, it's like PVID, or permanent, you know, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization process.
But the North Korean Jim Jong-un he probably wants a sort of step by step, you know, getting the ease of sanctions and getting the economic benefits out of this as much as he can.
So the big question is, OK, you know, they all meet. I'm not sure, you know, how much you are able to agree on getting whole, you know, the nuclear process result at once. It may take some time but I think, you know, just simply by meeting by the top 10 -- top two leaders they will be able to get something done. And from there maybe, you know, the speed of denuclearization process might be in different terms.
But still, you know, they are moving in the right direction and I hope, I hope that this talk actually do succeed because, you know, this is the last chance the North Koreans have in my opinion.
VAUSE: Yes. Everybody has the hope that these talks succeed but I guess one of the concerns is that, you know, make the television moment like this one with the president turning out at 2 o'clock in the morning at Joint Base Andrews to greet these three detainees as they arrive home seems to be hyping the situation and building up a lot of expectations ahead of these talks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un and that's where there could be some problems.
CHOI: Well, you know, President Trump is clearly understanding how the media operates, and I think, you know, 3 o'clock in the morning he's talking about the ratings. Yes, somebody who is understanding, you know, the TV things. And I think he's raising all these hypes because he's got some confidence in getting things done.
I just want to raise this up. Kim Jong-un I think two days ago met President Xi of China and I hope that they do not make any miscalculation because, you know, the North Koreans obviously meeting the President Xi from China because they want some sort of an insurance.
And if President Xi from China, you know, does sort of ease the sanction issues, let's say, you know, open the back doors for, you know, dealings of trades or whatever going into North Korea that's going to be a mistake, because President Trump is clearly mentioning that, you know, there will be no ease of sanctions until North Korea actually step into the right direction and start denuclearization process.
CHOI: So I hope that President Trump, President Xi, and maybe Prime Minister Abe and you know, President Moon, they all in the same page talking about the denuclearization process. And I hope the North Korean leader also gets on this board on our side and make sure that, you know, they all in the same page about how this denuclearization process should take place.
VAUSE: OK. Kenneth, thank you so much for being with us. We'll leave it there. We're almost out of time. Kenneth Choi, we appreciate you joining us.
[03:24:59] SESAY: We are. We are almost out of time. Jeff Zeleny at Joint Base Andrews we probably have less than 30 seconds. The event just facing what comes next.
ZELENY: What comes next is really the planning for that historic summit, the time and date will be announced in the next coming days. We do believe based on our reporting from officials that Singapore is a likely spot for that, but the question now is now that these stakes have been raised so extraordinarily high with this.
The hard work begins and the president clearly, you know, he'll be meeting with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week here in Washington, all setting the course for that meeting.
But again, for all these images tonight as powerful as they were, and indeed, they were, this is a victory for this president. It is the first step in a long road if he wants to actually accomplish the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
VAUSE: Yes, actually. And we can only say thanks, Jeff.
SESAY: Thank you, Jeff.
VAUSE: We can only say that there are three men who were being detained in North Korea go home.
SESAY: Go home.
VAUSE: So from this point on, yes, this is a good night.
SESAY: Yes. Let's not lose sight of that. And good night. And we want to thank you for watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Our live coverage of the North Korean detainees returning to the United States will continue after the short break. You're watching CNN.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)