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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper; Trump Administration Separating Immigrant Families at Border?; President Trump Reversing Decision on North Korea Summit?; Interview With Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Trump Administration Loses Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Kids; Kim Jong Un Studies "The Art of the Deal" In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 27, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:14]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Special request. President Trump's legal team wants its own briefing, after lawmakers say they learned nothing new on an FBI confidential source.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I want is, I want total transparency.

BASH: Is this just another strategy to discredit the Russia probe?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I wonder, what the heck is the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation in the first place?

BASH: President Trump's attorney general Rudy Giuliani will be here live next.

Plus: Playing games? North and South Korean leaders meeting for the second time after President Trump indicates the summit he just canceled could still be on.

TRUMP: It's moving along very nicely. So, we are looking at June 12 in Singapore.

BASH: Who is playing whom? Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper weighs in.

And finger-pointing. President Trump is passing the blame for separating immigrant families at the border, as Democrats call the president's policies inhumane.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple.

BASH: While hundreds of migrant children are missing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is playing games.

President Trump had a busy Saturday night, appearing in the Oval Office to herald the release of an American prisoner from Venezuela, and indicating the historic summit with North Korea might not be canceled after all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's moving along very nicely. So, we are looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn't changed. And it's moving along pretty well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: As the world watches the diplomatic whiplash on North Korea, the president also continues to toy with the special counsel's Russia investigation.

In a flurry of tweets on Saturday, the president called the probe rigged and, despite presenting no evidence, again claimed government spies were in his campaign.

Here is what he tweeted: "With spies or informants, as the Democrats like to call them because it sounds less sinister, but it's not, all over my campaign even from an early date, why didn't the crooked highest levels of the FBI or" -- quote, unquote -- "'Justice' contact me to tell me of the phony Russia problem?"

This as his lawyer Rudy Giuliani says the president's legal team wants its own briefing on the classified information presented to lawmakers.

Let's get straight to the president's lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining me this morning.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Let's start right there.

The -- the FBI confidential source is directly connected to this ongoing investigation into the president's campaign. Doesn't it create an appearance that the White House is interfering with this investigation?

GIULIANI: I don't see that, Dana.

I think that the White House has every right to know, the president has right to know, as commander in chief. After all, the investigation, as the Democrats have revealed, nothing new. So, there's nothing -- to us, that means exculpatory, because the new would be if something turned up that was a -- that was a surprise.

So, it should be very easy to brief us. And we can come out of it saying the same thing, nothing new, or we might come out and be able to say nothing, in which case you will have a real signal.

BASH: You say that -- that the president has a right to know as commander in chief.

This is a very complex situation. He is not just commander in chief. He is -- he was the head of and was a candidate for a campaign of which this investigation is taking place.

GIULIANI: That's another reason he should know.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: I mean, if that -- if the spy gate is over...

BASH: But how is that -- how is that legit for him to know about an investigation of him and his campaign? Explain that.

GIULIANI: Because it -- because it is over, and it revealed nothing new. So then he has a right to know about it, both as a candidate -- I mean, as the candidate back then, now as the president.

He has a right to know about it in order to figure out, what does it mean to this investigation? All that it means is an investigation that we thought was rigged was rigged from the very beginning. It never should have -- it never should have started.

BASH: But if you're saying...

GIULIANI: Because there was no evidence of collusion.

BASH: If you are saying it is over, back to the confidential source, then are you saying here this morning that you feel comfortable that there was no spy, as you and the president call this person?

GIULIANI: Well, I don't because I see contradictions.

[09:05:00]

I see Clapper saying that there was a spy, but he was spying on the Russian end. But spying on the Russian end, if they thought there was collusion, meant spying on the president's campaign.

BASH: Well...

GIULIANI: I would like to know who he is and what he's found out. And then we...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: To be clear, James Clapper said that he didn't know anything about it. And he was using the spy -- the word spy because it's what the president said, and he actually, as part of that, said that he doesn't like that term.

But I guess here is my big-picture question. You are somebody...

GIULIANI: Sure.

BASH: ... who made your name as U.S. attorney in New York. You had a reputation for prosecuting crime as mayor, upholding the rule of law.

If somebody connected to one of your investigations asked you for information about a confidential source, you wouldn't stand for it.

GIULIANI: Of course. I wouldn't give them the name.

If I -- if I thought that that information would help induce a guilty plea or cooperation, I would lay out for the lawyers or let them see the evidence.

Very, very often, prosecutors lay out the evidence pre-indictment in order to end the case. They say, look at this, listen to the tape recording, listen to the information.

Hey, every once in a while, they will give up a confidential source if the person is being protected. So, the name here has already been put out there. You and I don't know if it is true.

But if it is true, and it's dangerous to this man, he better be protected already. I don't believe he's being protected. Says to me that maybe the FBI and Justice Department is being a little hypocritical here?

BASH: Why is that?

GIULIANI: Well, they said, he can't be revealed because it is dangerous.

Now he's been revealed, "Wall Street Journal," several other newspapers. If that man is the man, he better be protected. I'm not sure, but I hear he is not. So, what is going on?

BASH: Mr. Mayor, I want to just ask point blank, will the president sit down with Robert Mueller, even if the White House legal team or you, anybody on his legal team, doesn't get a briefing about this confidential source?

GIULIANI: Well, if he wasn't thinking about it and it wasn't an active possibility, we would be finished with that by now and we would have moved on to getting the investigation over with another way.

But he -- he is adamant in wanting to do it.

BASH: He, the president?

GIULIANI: We are -- we -- the president.

But we are more convinced, as we see it, that this is a rigged investigation. Now we have this whole new spy gate thing thrown on top of it, on top of already very legitimate questions.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: How is there evidence that it is rigged?

I just want to go through it, because I know you use this term a lot, and, obviously, so does the president.

This investigation has already brought charges against 22 people and entities, including 13 Russians who have been indicted for trying to change the outcome of the election.

So, how is it a rigged investigation, when they already -- when they are not even close to being done, and they already have this in their pocket?

GIULIANI: Well, because, first of all, there are two different investigations, right? The counterintelligence investigation is now over for over a year.

And they weren't disclosing it to anybody. Immediately, that raises questions in my mind, why not? I think why not because it clears the president.

Then you get the Comey thing, which is a leak of a confidential memo, which is illegal for an FBI official to do, and that becomes the basis for appointing Mueller.

I'm not saying Mueller is illegitimate. I'm saying the basis on which he was appointed is illegitimate. Now let's look at the indictments.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But you think -- I just want to separate -- so you think that the Mueller probe is legitimate?

GIULIANI: I -- not anymore. I don't.

I did when I came in. But now I see -- I see spy gate. I see the judge, Judge Ellis, in Manafort saying...

BASH: But -- but what you call spy gate, you admit, happened before Robert Mueller was -- was brought on to the scene.

GIULIANI: But it has to -- but it has to inform the decision to appoint Mueller. Either it is evidence or not.

And if it's not, it goes along with what they found already, which is no collusion with the Russians.

BASH: It might have informed it, but it wasn't the beginning...

GIULIANI: So, we end up with...

BASH: I just want to point one other thing out, because I know that you and the president have talked about that as well, that even the Republicans in the House, when they did their report, they said that the reason that this -- the main reason that this probe was launched was because of George Papadopoulos, who was on the president's foreign policy council, an -- an encounter he had with somebody in Australia, not because of this confidential informant.

This is from the Republicans in the House.

GIULIANI: I think -- I think, actually, the explanation for -- for -- for Mueller is mainly Comey.

Comey said he wanted an independent counsel. Comey said he was going to orchestrate one. Comey wrote a memo and leaked it illegally through a professor.

Hence, we have Mueller. Illegal. No basis.

Now, whatever the spy gate thing is, we are just learning about that now. I wouldn't come to any definitive conclusions on that. And Papadopoulos was part of that whole spy gate thing as well, so it kind of gets all intertwined.

[09:10:05]

But the two indictments that you point are really pretty questionable. Manafort, before Judge Ellis, maybe no authority for that indictment. That would be extraordinary. That would ruin the whole investigation.

Second, the Russians.

BASH: Yes.

GIULIANI: That's a pretty phony indictment. They are not showing up for anything.

You think they are coming here to be -- to be tried? That is like a paper indictment on which the press can fawn all over it, and it will be nowhere.

BASH: How are you so sure that there was no collusion with anybody in the campaign? We don't know exactly what Robert Mueller and his team has right now. Do you know something we don't?

GIULIANI: Well, yes. I know 50 years of investigatory experience tells me they don't have a darn thing, because they would have used it already, and they wouldn't be off on collusion, they wouldn't be off on Manafort, they wouldn't be off on Cohen.

You got a good case, man, you go right to it, against -- and against the president of the United States, you got something, and you don't start charging it? Come on. It would be out there immediately.

BASH: Well, maybe not necessarily against the president himself, but people in his orbit.

You are confident that there was no collusion?

GIULIANI: I -- I can't -- I can't be confident (INAUDIBLE) my client.

I mean, am I -- am I confident because I was in that campaign at a very intimate level? Nobody talked about Russians. Nobody knew about Russians. This came as a surprise to me, to the president, and to the top four or five people around him.

Now, you go out to the outer orbit, how do I know what is going on? But I don't think that would matter. You can't -- if there is collusion with a guy 50 rungs down on the campaign -- not that I'm saying it happened, but, if it did, I don't know -- I don't know what that means.

BASH: Mr. Mayor, I want you to take a look at...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

GIULIANI: No, go ahead. No, no, I got -- I made the point. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: OK.

I want you to take a -- I want you to take a look at this CNN survey. When asked whether President Trump should testify in the Mueller investigation, only 39 percent of Republicans say yes.

That is down 15 points in less than six weeks.

GIULIANI: Wow.

BASH: Now, this is not an accident. Is it fair to say that you and the president have a very specific, very political strategy to undermine this investigation, and it appears to be working?

GIULIANI: No, no, it's not a strategy to undermine it.

They are doing it. I -- how did I know about spy gate? How did I know about...

BASH: But they are not talking, sir.

GIULIANI: ... about the Cohen -- yes, but it's falling apart.

So, we have to -- we have a briefing. We have got a briefing. We have Congress involved. We didn't do that. They are doing it.

I didn't know that the Cohen thing -- Cohen is now two months old, three months old. I came into it after Cohen. I didn't know the Cohen thing would result in nothing involving the president -- or so far has.

BASH: But you have been -- you and the president...

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: And all these things keep falling apart.

I didn't know that Judge Ellis -- let me just finish that point. I didn't know that Judge Ellis was going to question the legitimacy of the indictment by the Mueller team.

BASH: The president's...

GIULIANI: You know, they are all -- they are...

BASH: The president's allies on Capitol Hill...

GIULIANI: They are all, largely, very, very committed Democrats.

BASH: OK.

The president's allies on Capitol Hill -- and then was picked up by the president in his tweets and by you as well -- have been seizing on this confidential source -- you call it spy gate -- and without giving evidence that you really think it is there.

That has, no question, helped erode public confidence in the -- in the -- in the investigation, which -- you are a lawyer, but you're also an experienced pol. You know what you are doing.

Is that fair to say?

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: I hope. I hope I know what I'm doing.

I have a birthday tomorrow. So, I think I know what I'm doing.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: No, but, I mean, that this is an intentional strategy to undermine the investigation, knowing that they, the investigators, the special counsel, it's their policy not to talk. But you are very free to and are very aggressive about doing so.

GIULIANI: Well, I mean, they're -- they are giving us the material.

I -- I couldn't do it if I didn't have the material. They are giving us the material to do it. Of course, we have to do it in defending the president. We are defending -- to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.

Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So, our jury is the American -- as it should be -- is the American people.

And the American people, yes, are Republicans largely, independents pretty substantially, and even Democrats now question the legitimacy of it.

Democrats, I suggest, from their own self-interest, this is not a good issue to go into the congressional election.

BASH: That is something that you and the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, actually agree on. We are going to leave that for a second.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: We are going to have to take a quick break.

We have a lot more to discuss, including a potential...

GIULIANI: Thank you, Dana. I look forward...

BASH: Thank you -- a potential interview with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Will the president do that interview?

Stay right with us, Mr. Mayor. We're going to ask you that after the break.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: All right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:18:54]

BASH: And we are back with President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Let's talk about a potential interview with the special counsel.

You told my colleague Chris Cuomo that Robert Mueller has agreed to limit that interview from five topics to two topics.

What are those two topics? What is in? What is out?

GIULIANI: Well, the two topics that we more or less agree on -- and I should say it is all contingent on every point being worked out.

It's kind of like the North Korean negotiations, not as important. And if all the agreement -- everything can be worked out, then they would probably limit it to collusion and obstruction.

The collusion part, we are pretty comfortable with, because there has been none. The obstruction part, I'm not as comfortable with. I'm not. The president is fine with it. He is innocent.

I am not comfortable, because it is a matter of interpretation, not just hard and fast, true, not true. So, if you interpret his comment about firing Mueller -- firing -- sorry -- Comey.

No discussion of firing Mueller, by the way.

[09:20:01]

BASH: OK.

GIULIANI: If you interpret that as obstructing the investigation, as opposed to removing a guy who was doing a bad job, on the recommendation, in part, of Rosenstein, but you see it as obstructing the investigation, then you can say it is obstruction.

And then you can say it is perjury, which is even easier for them, which is where I think, if they are sneaky, they are going.

I don't believe Bob is. But, remember, those guys were present at Hillary Clinton's victory, hah-hah, dinner. They were present in some of the prior investigations.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Mr. Mayor, you know Robert Mueller is a Republican. That is a little bit of a red herring when you -- I understand why you are doing it, why you are talking about people who work there who are Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: Who worked -- who worked -- who worked for Obama and who hired Democrats, and very, very partisan Democrats.

I never would have done that. I would have hired -- all my assistant U.S. attorneys were basically nonpolitical, no political axe to grind.

BASH: But Robert Mueller is the special counsel, and he is in charge of this.

Would you -- so, are you saying that...

GIULIANI: Good, which is why we say it has -- which is we have pause, because if I were looking at 13 down-the-middle people, many and women, I would say fine. But I'm looking at the opposition party.

BASH: OK. Let's get back to the interview. Let's get back to the interview, because that's the -- the key question here.

GIULIANI: Sure.

BASH: You mentioned the second topic, questions about obstruction.

Are you, as the president's lawyer, willing to allow him to sit down and answer questions about that, about firing James Comey?

GIULIANI: Well, sure, I would be willing. All of that depends on how comfortable we are with their having an open mind and not having interpreted it wrongly already.

If we have an open mind, we would recommend it to the president. Since the president is inclined to do it, I would assume he would.

And we are a little bit away from that -- I thought we were closer last week when we talked -- because of the summit. The summit is going to, I think, happen now and on our terms. I can't believe that Kim Jong-un is talking about denuclearization.

BASH: So, let's -- you mentioned North Korea.

You said earlier this week that President Trump was more likely to sit down with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, than special counsel Robert Mueller.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: So, does the president see Robert Mueller as a bigger threat than Kim Jong-un?

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: No. No, no, no. No.

In the case of Kim Jong-un, he has got all of his advisers recommending it, except, hey, they pulled out originally, right? No. When he was talking about meeting us on -- how about that, meeting us on the nuclear battlefield? And people expect me to intrude with this silliness.

I can't -- I can't do that. Now the guy has made a remarkable turnaround. He not only wants to meet. He tells President Moon that he is considering denuclearization of the entire peninsula.

Wow. I mean, that's -- that's -- that's Nobel Prize stuff.

BASH: Well, the president certainly hopes so.

But you are talking about North Korea. I just have to ask, because you have brought it up. The president last night said in the Oval Office that the talks are -- are -- are going very, very well.

Have -- you are talking to us about it. Are you talking to the president about North Korea as well?

GIULIANI: Well, he does -- he talks to me about it necessarily, and to Jay, because it depends on -- our timing is driven greatly by it.

For example, if they put this thing on -- and probably have to do it in the next few days -- we literally can't get much done until after the 12th, until he comes back from Singapore, nor would anybody want us to.

So -- and, if not, we have got a good span of time there, which we were counting on, for making our decision on an interview, and then moving forward with the rest of our strategy.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: So, you are not advising the president on foreign policy? That's not part of your purview?

GIULIANI: Oh, no, no, I'm not.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: I'm not.

I used to in my old role as his policy adviser. But I'm not now.

BASH: OK. Let me ask you...

GIULIANI: I hear -- I hear it. I hear it. Just I hear it, to the -- to the extent that it affects our timing.

BASH: Got it.

Sources told CNN on Friday that President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen -- mentioned him earlier -- that he got yet another consulting contract with the business partner of a Russian oligarch after meeting with him in Trump Tower during the transition.

We've seen several stories like this. Was the president OK with Michael Cohen essentially selling access to him?

GIULIANI: Well, first of all, most importantly, the president is not involved. The president had no knowledge of any of these.

BASH: He...

GIULIANI: Remember, the first one that came out was the one involving some other Russian company that turns out not to be. The president didn't know about it.

Then we asked him about the other two, Novartis and AT&T. Didn't know about it. And, at AT&T, Justice Department...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Is he upset with Michael Cohen for even attempting to sell access, whether or not it worked?

GIULIANI: He doesn't -- he doesn't -- he doesn't like that.

And he -- look, I don't think his worst critics believe he likes that. I mean, he -- he definitely wants to do everything he can to drain the swamp in Washington. Been the most successful president doing that.

[09:25:01]

Anything that even raises a question about that, he is not going to be happy about. It doesn't mean that the man should be -- I like Michael Cohen.

Lots of people are selling advice. Some are selling influence. I don't like it, particularly the influence part. I think the advice part is perfectly -- that's Henry Kissinger, the highest level of advice.

BASH: One last question.

The president unleashed attacks this week on career civil servants, former CIA Director John Brenner -- Brennan, rather, the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

You have worked closely with intelligence officers throughout your decades in public life. GIULIANI: Yes. Well...

BASH: Do you really believe that people like Brennan and Clapper are part of a deep state conspiracy?

GIULIANI: I don't know what you want to call it, but I have no regard at all for Clapper and Brennan. I think they are two clowns.

I mean, the other guy -- the other -- Clapper is talking about spying, which -- and he doesn't realize it's spying on the Trump campaign? He's got an obligation to tell him.

Brennan has been -- Brennan was chief torturer in charge. Then he disowned it. Then -- I don't know what he did with the CIA. But he is the most political CIA director I have ever met.

And Clapper, yes, well -- they are not -- they are not civil servants, as far as I know.

BASH: Really, all those decades of service...

GIULIANI: They're political appointees.

BASH: ... in the military, in -- in...

GIULIANI: Political appoint -- yes.

Hey, there are a lot of people with decades of service. Some are good, some bad. And some then get consumed with power, and some begin to lie.

And, in the case of Brennan, he is a political guy. He was -- he was Obama's chief defender. I'm not sure about Clapper. I don't -- don't know -- I haven't watched him as well.

But, watching him, he's sure not impressive.

BASH: Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining me this morning.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: I appreciate your time.

GIULIANI: Thank you. You are very fair. Thank you. Thank you.

BASH: And -- you mentioned -- thank you.

And you mentioned James Clapper. He is actually here with us in the studio. He is going to respond to the president's lawyer. We are going to ask him how he interprets the diplomatic push back and forth over North Korea as well.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

The president of South Korea says the North Koreans still want complete denuclearization, after a surprise meeting with Kim Jong-un at the DMZ this, this as President Trump said late Saturday that the historic summit between the two leaders may still go on as scheduled in Singapore on June 12.

[09:30:10]

Here with me to discuss this is former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and also the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence."

I want to ask about North Korea.

But let's just first talk about what you just heard from the former New York City Mayor, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

He called you and Mr. Brennan a clown. And he also said that you are just political appointees, and that is where the heart of these investigations come from.

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, in the space of a week, I have progressed from being the dumbest foreign intelligence officer on the planet, according to President Trump, and now a clown. So, it's career progression, I guess, at its best.

I -- but just more in the narrative here.

BASH: Let's talk about the specifics, though.

The idea of the president's legal team wanting to get a briefing from the FBI about this confidential source, good idea?

CLAPPER: Well, no.

I mean, I don't think this is a good idea at all, any more than it was a good idea to have the president's attorney show up, unannounced, I guess, for the Gang of Eight briefing.

I was recalling when I heard about that. My last Gang of Eight briefing, which was on the 6th of January, 2017, when we briefed the Gang of Eight before we flew up to New York to brief then president- elect Trump...

BASH: And the Gang of Eight, the leadership in Congress and the top intelligence leaders.

CLAPPER: Leadership of Congress, to include, of course, importantly, the chair and ranking members of each of the intelligence oversight committees.

I just -- I was trying to imagine what it would have been like if somebody just walked in at that session, which had extremely sensitive information in it. And that's just not done. It really contravenes a longstanding practice and norm that makes our government work. BASH: I want to ask you one of the things that Rudy Giuliani brought

up and that the president has been tweeting about this weekend as well, which is, if this was -- if there was enough concern about people penetrating the Trump campaign, why not contact him?

Why not contact the campaign, instead of sending an informant -- an informant or a confidential source in? What is the answer to that?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the first thing is determine just what was going on.

If there wasn't a concern about the Russians and that could be allayed, then perhaps there is no reason to do that. I -- the FBI has rules and protocols on when they decide to do things like that.

And I don't think, at that point, that it had reached the point where it would be appropriate to engage with the head of the campaign or the nominee.

BASH: But you didn't -- as the director of national intelligence, did you know about the operation or not?

CLAPPER: No, I wouldn't -- no, absolutely not, did not know about it, nor would it be appropriate for any DNI to know about the specifics of informants, their identities or what they are doing on the part of the FBI.

I mean, that's -- lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is the confidentiality and the protection of the informants.

BASH: Let's talk about North Korea.

You have spent a lot of time on the Korean Peninsula in your career. Most recently, in 2014, you went as DNI to Pyongyang to help free two Americans.

What is your interpretation of this back-and-forth that's been going on over the summit?

CLAPPER: Well, first of all, I support the letter that President Trump sent to Kim Jong-un. I think it was a good thing to do.

Having done that, though, I think -- I have been long an advocate of -- and this is typical North Korean, one step back -- two steps forward, one step back. That is what they always do.

And in some ways, Kim Jong-un may have met his match here with very -- our very unconventional president.

What I have been long an advocate for is, let's first establish the conduit, the apparatus for communicating, which I think would be a real plus for the summit. And by that, I mean establishing interests sections in both Washington and Pyongyang.

What this means is a diplomatic presence below the level of a full embassy, much as we did in Havana, Cuba, for decades. This would facilitate -- would be reciprocal, would facilitate dialogue, would gain a lot more insight and understanding about what is going on in North Korea, would promote information flow into North Korea, and, importantly, would give the North Koreans a measure of security.

And if they could agree to tone down the rhetoric and use that conduit instead, that would be an improvement.

[09:35:05]

Just a note on denuclearization. Denuclearization could also be a two-way street, and that is, apply to the United States as well, where the North Koreans could expect us to restrict our nuclear umbrella, meaning no more B-1s, B-2s or B-52s deploying in -- on the peninsula or within operational proximity, so just a...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Unfortunately, we are out of time.

Just real quick, can you just tell me, do you think it is better for the president to have the summit, regardless of whether there is no agreement, just to establish the dialogue?

CLAPPER: I do.

I think there is -- there is value. Having gone this far, there is value in meeting and greeting, gripping and grinning, and just establishing a rapport. I think -- yes, I think it would be important to have the summit.

BASH: James Clapper, thank you so much for coming on. Appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And nearly 1,500 migrant children are unaccounted for. President Trump is slamming Democrats for immigrant families being split up at the border but his own chief of staff says it is a tough deterrent. Our panel weighs in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you cross the border unlawfully then we will prosecute you. It's that simple.

If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Welcome back. And w are here with our panel. That was Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcing the new policy of the Trump administration to separate families caught crossing the border. And this -- that happened as reports immerged this week of migrant parents being unable to find their children, some of their children who have been separated because the parents were taken to be prosecuted, 1,500 of the children were separated from their parents.

Patti Solis Doyle, what do you think is going on here?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is a tragedy, number one. And it is unspeakably cruel.

You know, these parents are coming with their children because they are trying to escape some horror that they're facing in their own country . They are coming to save their kids.

They're met with criminal prosecution. Their children are being torn away. And now we are finding that our government has lost these children.

Where are the kids? As a mom I am -- I mean, I just can't think about a child, a 4 year-old in a different country with strangers and now vulnerable to human trafficking, vulnerable to abuse. And there is nothing that these parents can do.

So I think that the president should use every resource at his disposal to find these kids and make sure that they are safe and tell us that they are safe.

BASH: This is an unintended consequence of (INAUDIBLE) immigration policy?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is a process going on a long time.

What happens is these children come into detention. There is a vetting process of who these children are assigned to. It's not just 1,400 children, it is a much larger group of kids. And they are -- they are assigned to sponsors in this country who go through a process to be able to qualify to the sponsors.

The children are placed in them. And what happened -- again, thousands more than the 1,500 that you are talking about that they follow up with a lot of these -- they follow up to find out where the children are and how they are doing. And what they found is that 1,500 of them, somehow the sponsors and the kids are off the radar.

They haven't checked in. They haven't been able to find them.

Now, the reality is a lot of the sponsors are in many cases have, you know, they have been checked out but they may have other reasons for not communicating or dropping off the system. So this isn't -- this isn't, you know, what we have lost these kids.

No, they were placed in vetted homes and for some reason or another these parents are not -- are not (INAUDIBLE) communicating. BASH: If they are not lost where are they? Where are they if they are not lost?

SANTORUM: The question is they haven't had communication with these previously vetted sponsors.

Does that mean they are lost? No. That means that there is a process that's going on right now to try to find why these sponsors haven't checked back in to give us their location.

But the idea that 100 percent of the sponsors are going to check in, of course, that is never going to be the case. There is always going to be a problem, people move. They don't feel, oh, we don't have to check in anymore. We've gone someplace else.

So, the idea that they are -- quote -- "lost" I think is an overestimate -- is hyperbole to try to -- to try to create an issue. I don't really think there is one other than the fact that the bureaucracy, surprise, surprise, doesn't work very well.

DOYLE: If you think that 1,500 children being lost is not an issue then there is something definitely wrong.

SANTORUM: I don't think -- I think the idea that they are lost, they are placed with families that had been previously vetted --

DOYLE: And the government has said they have lost track of them. That is another word for lost.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

SANTORUM: That doesn't mean that the kids are -- there are logical explanations. And, again, we are talking about a government system and we all know Bill and I will sit here forever and tell you how inadequate a lot of these government agencies are at doing a lot of things. I mean, we lose people all the time in a lot of other government programs.

BASH: Let me -- let me just bring in some -- it's not just Democrats who are saying this. Conservatives also have been outspoken about being upset about this.

Eric Erickson who is a conservative write he said something quite graphic but he said, "Pro-lifers, if you are upset about ripping a child out of his mother's womb, please be upset about ripping a child out of his mother's arms at the border. Responding to illegal acts with evil acts is not the way of a moral people."

[09:45:01]

TURNER: Amen.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Look, I mean, this was an explicit policy decision by the president. We have in fact reporting that the president pushed the secretary of Homeland Security to implement this policy and Attorney General Sessions is for this too, as deterrent to mothers or families bringing young children across the border. So that is a policy decision by the president.

I don't think it's -- I wouldn't defend it but he made that decision. The issue is that. Then it is a question of the kids who the department of -- DHS has lost track of.

But I think -- yes. I mean -- so, Rick gave the most reasonable semi defense of the situation which is more than the administration has done. And if -- if this happened in any normal administration the president would put out a statement saying, we don't know -- quite know what has happened here.

We are looking into it as fast as we can. I've ordered the secretary of Homeland Security to give a report by Monday morning. The secretary of Homeland Security will be on television saying we care a lot about these kids.

We want to make sure this is OK. Congress will be having hearings and deciding whether to pass legislation. What is striking is we'll see if Congress does something when they get back, I think they should.

But what is striking is the president doesn't mind the story, I think, actually, because it makes him look tough on immigration. There is no pushback -- Rick (ph) pushback but there is no pushback in the administration on these very disturbing (ph) stories (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Can I just tell you, he is also -- he and his colleagues are also slamming Democrats saying that this started out as a Democratic policy. We have done a fact check and that is not exactly true. But that is certainly the --

SANTORUM: A bipartisan --

BASH: Right. Thank you. It's more bipartisan.

TURNER: But this is stunningly immoral and cruel. So whoever started it, this president and this administration has the power to stop it.

And to Bill's point about this president going the extra step through policy and the fact that we're having -- that some, particularly him, has a cavalier attitude I want all of us to put ourselves in the place of those mothers, of those fathers or as Patti was -- we're both mothers. I mean, I can't even dream of a situation where my son would be torn from arms in that way.

SANTORUM: With all due respect these parents are putting their children in peril by putting them and coming across the border.

(CROSSTALK)

DOYLE: They are trying to escape peril. They are trying to escape peril.

SANTORUM: You don't know their situation. Some may be. Some may just be an economic -- there may be all sorts of reasons people come here.

TURNER: Well, Senator, to me that is not the point anymore.

SANTORUM: It is the point.

TURNER: It's the moral -- no. The point is that --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: It is the point because you want to discourage that behavior.

TURNER: That point is that we have children's lives at stake here.

SANTORUM: But the parents are putting their children's lives -- let's get to the bottom line here, Nina. The parents are putting these children in danger by doing what they do.

TURNER: No, the point is that America has a moral obligation to those kids.

DOYLE: Right.

TURNER: That is larger than what the parent may have done.

SANTORUM: The moral obligation -- the moral obligation is to deter that type of activity.

(CROSSTALK)

DOYLE: And the children --

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: You can be disagree --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: At some point the parents have to take responsibility for their children.

TURNER: We're going to use the children as a pawn --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: At (ph) some (ph) point the parents have to take responsibility for this.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Go ahead. You want to get in.

KRISTOL: Like I'm saying one can believe some of these parents -- some of these parents have been behaving irresponsibly. One can also believe that it's a matter of policy. It is unwise and cruel to take the kids away from them. TURNER: Yes.

KRISTOL: And there are other ways you can --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: We take kids away from parents who do illegal acts all the time. And we put parents in jail.

TURNER: We don't lose --

(CROSSTALK)

DOYLE: Exactly right.

SANTORUM: Well, I guarantee you -- I guarantee you, Patti, that millions -- millions of kids over the course of this country whose parents have been put in jail have been -- quote -- "lost" in the system. And you know that to be true.

TURNER: We cannot justify this -- cannot be justified and this president is going the extra mile to push this narrative.

BASH: Should there be --

SANTORUM: I wish you had the outrage for parents who were jailed as much as you have outrage for what's going on here.

TURNER: No --

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: I have outrage for it. I have outrage about a whole bunch of stuff. So if you want to go down that line we can.

SANTORUM: OK.

BASH: Kamala Harris is calling for members of the administration to come up and testify about this. Is there any doubt in any of your minds that that is going to happen?

KRISTOL: It should happen. Congress has -- as some of the other instances has the power. You know, Congress can say this should not be the policy. This policy is not prohibited.

TURNER: Right.

KRISTOL: Little kids should be kept with their parents. They can be disciplined together. They can be held together --

TURNER: That's right.

KRISTOL: -- in a detention facility if that's the right thing to do while their claims asylum, while their claims of refugee status or their claims to be able to immigrate are adjudicated. These are -- this is what Congress is supposed to do. It is another case where -- I mean, I would be very curious to see when they get back and if I were a Democratic congressman (INAUDIBLE) Republican would agree with this, I would insist on acting fast, not a hearing.

BASH: Yes.

KRISTOL: I mean, why don't they just change the policy? It's not that hard.

BASH: All right. Everybody --

TURNER: Right.

BASH: -- thank you for that incredibly lively discussion. It is a very tough issue. But I think we all agree that the kids are the most important thing whatever the policy is.

TURNER: Yes.

BASH: Thank you so much.

And up next, is Kim Jong-un learning "The Art of the Deal" from the president himself? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:54:07]

BASH: Maybe the president should recognize the North Korean leader's negotiating tricks, after all, he wrote the book. And that's the subject of Jake Tapper's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): It's back to school for Kim Jong-un, amidst all this back and forth about the summit that may or may not be, we do know that the North Korean leader is trying to figure out President Trump.

The class, Donald Trump 101, and the primary textbook written by the president himself.

TRUMP: I wrote "The Art of the Deal." One of the all-time bestselling books about deals and deal making.

TAPPER: But how to go up against the brash billionaire? Lesson one, threaten to leave before the negotiations have even begun.

TRUMP: If you can't say you're going to walk, you can't make a good deal. OK? It's called "The Art of the Deal," right?

TAPPER: The North Koreans are reportedly studying up on that tell-all White House book, "Fire and Fury."

[09:55:01]

TRUMP: Fire and fury like the world has never seen.

TAPPER: But why stop at memorizing Trump's deal making tips? The North Koreans are hungry for any advantage, maybe even studying the president's choice of fuel.

TRUMP: The Big Macs are great, the Quarter Pounder with cheese.

TAPPER: As Kim Jong-un prepares to sit down at the negotiating table he also might want to practice his golf swing in case talks move to the links.

TRUMP: Even as we played golf all we did was talk about different things.

TAPPER: Most importantly, of course, studying up on the president's one time hit show "The Apprentice," all 14 seasons.

TRUMP: "The Apprentice" was such as tremendous success. You're fired.

TAPPER: One test both leaders have already passed, they know how to put on a show.

TRUMP: I do get good ratings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Are the president's policies helping or hurting Americans' image abroad? Fareed Zakaria has this next.

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