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Trump Routinely Rips Up Papers that Need to be Preserved; Trump, Kim to Begin One-on-One Meeting in Singapore; Why Another U.S. President Was Also Annoyed with a Trudeau; Robert De Niro Blasts Trump at Tony Awards. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 11, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Documents that need to be preserved. Documents we're now being told need to be taped back together by staffers, everything from memos and notes and letters and even negative news articles he doesn't like. He rips them up. The problem is, those are all official records that need to be kept intact.
With me now, the writer that broke this story, "Politico's" Annie Karni.
Annie, I'm not such a great ripper.
But under the Presidential Records Act, the White House has to preserve all of this stuff that the president touches. Does Trump not know that?
ANNIE KARNI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: He's been told that by aids who noticed his habit and tried to stop it, and that warning didn't have any effect on his behavior. He's continued to do it. And so instead of trying to get the message through again, his aides are cleaning up after him. They're taking the wastepaper basket or the paper tossed from the residence and in the Oval and they're bringing in the records management team who are then Scotch-taping it back together and sending it to the National Archives.
BALDWIN: OK. Hold on. I was reading about two workers. One of whom was a career government official close to 30 years under his belt. They would be tasked to buy this particular kind of clear Scotch tape so you could see the words, and they would spend their day scotch- taping it back together?
KARNI: Yes, they said sometimes it would be one rip down the middle and sometimes like confetti. They ended up seeing this work as a type of punishment. These guys earn $60,000, $70,000 a year. They take pride in the job they do. They consider themselves civil servants. They're coming in here to do a menial task. They were astounded this is what they were asked to do every day. The Trump administration, they said they've never seen anything like this in any other administration. Yes.
BALDWIN: I read Obamas was more of a preservationist. He was constantly thinking, I need to go with the archives. It's the reverse for President Trump. Has he done this for years?
BALDWIN: Is it anything he reads?
KARNI: Yes. It was described to me as his unofficial filing system. It's like, OK, I've taken care of this paper, I don't need it any more, rip it up, throw it out. That's the way he gets rid of stuff. That's maybe fine if that's how he worked at Trump Org., if it worked for him, great. But he doesn't have any preservationist instincts here, and he doesn't seem to have an eye or an understanding of the history or importance that any document that comes across the Oval, that he writes on, even if it's not important, if it's just a letter in a kid who met him at a rally, is a presidential record and it needs be stores. And his aides tried to explain this to him, but it doesn't register or he doesn't care, it seems to be the case.
BALDWIN: I want to quote one of these guys quickly, because she was walked out of the White House by the Secret Service. "When she walked me out and took my badge and the gate closed behind me, it was like, damn, that's 20 years of White House service gone. Sometimes I cried. And I was mad because I got comfortable." One of the words from Solomon Larty (ph) as he was walked out by the Secret Service.
Annie Karni, on the notes, and the memos that the president rips up.
Thanks so much, Annie, for that many.
KARNI: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Live pictures out of Singapore today, as the president and Kim Jong-Un get ready to meet face to face. We'll show you around Kim's luxury hotel.
Plus, the secretary of state using a key phrase that could tell us everything about what may come out of the summit. Stand by.
This is CNN special live coverage.
[14:37:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our special live coverage. I'm John Berman, in Singapore.
Just a few hours now before President Trump sits face to face with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. President Trump arrives with high hopes in one very big goal, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. That language is fascinating. We'll talk about why in a moment.
In a preview of the high-stakes talks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the summit will be a test to see if North Korea can keep its word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: North Korea has previously confirmed to us it's willingness to denuclearize. And we are eager to see if those words prove sincere. The fact that our two leaders are sitting down, face to face, is a sign of the enormous potential that will accomplish something that will immensely benefit both of our people's and the entire world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: How likely is it that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons? And do the two countries have different views of what the language surrounding denuclearization actually means.
Joining me now to discuss, Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, and an expert on denuclearization.
Adam, thanks so much for being with us.
My first question is a political one, a linguistic one, and maybe a military one more than a science question. Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for the first time, said the U.S. goal is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which is language a lot closer to what the North Koreans have been pushing for some time.
Explain to our viewers what that means and why it might mean ultimately concessions from the United States.
ADAM MOUNT, SENIOR FELLOW, FEDERATON OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: Denuclearization is a term of art the North Koreans have used for several years now. It's something they've committed to in the past. And it's language that the United States has been flirting with over the last couple months. For the North Koreans, denuclearization of the peninsula stands in contrast to the U.S. formulation, which is complete verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear arsenal. Using the phrase "peninsula" for the North Koreans implies they want to reign in U.S. forces on the peninsula, but also to consider U.S. nuclear-capable and non-nuclear capable forces that could impact the contingency on the peninsula. So they're trying to bake American concessions into how they talk about denuclearization.
[14:40:14] BERMAN: Yes. It means that the United States would change its nuclear umbrella. There are nuclear subs, there are nuclear-capable planes that fly in and over North Korea all the time, not to mention ICBMs that can reach the peninsula. It's interesting that the administration chose to shift their language on the eve of that meeting.
Kim Jong-Un and the Kim family in general has sacrificed so much and spent so much to build up this nuclear arsenal. You can argue the fact that they now have it, they now have nuclear weapons, is the only reason they're going to meet behind me in this city tomorrow.
What do you think it would take for Kim to give up his weapons?
MOUNTS: North Korea, according to most of the reports, so far, has not been coerced into offering a complete and detailed time table for denuclearization ahead of the Singapore summit. In many ways, the president is walking into this meeting in some ways blindfolded. He will try to improvise a statement on denuclearization. But Kim Jong- Un can meet most of his objectives in Singapore tomorrow. The best the president can walk away with is a vague promise on denuclearization.
Really, what we should be looking for is a process over time that will denuclearize North Korea, provide security assurances, provide incentives, provide a stable arms control regime on the peninsula that reduces tensions, and works step by step toward disarm amendment. The consequences of the Singapore summit for American interests will depend on what happens in the weeks and months ahead.
BERMAN: I'm glad you mentioned this process. There's a cartoon in the "Washington Post" today that's worth noting. It's a cartoon of the president side by side with an aide. The president shows him a plane and, "I've got an outline of a good North Korea deal. Not everything we'd like, but a great step forward." Th aide says, "That's the Iran deal you quit." We're talking about a process, and Iran, there was a process, the president didn't seem to like it. We will wait and see if he gets a concrete process here.
Adam Mount, great to have you with us, helping us understand some of the language going back and forth here, because it really matters.
BALDWIN: John Berman, thank you. We'll come back to you in a second.
Meanwhile, the president's adviser is saying maybe the Canadian prime minister betrayed President Trump and stabbed him in the back. But this isn't the first time an American president had a beef with a member of the Trudeau family. We're going to go back in time for that.
Also, the story behind this now infamous picture of G-7 leaders all focused on Trump just before he backed out of their agreement.
[14:47:29] BALDWIN: President Trump has followed some pretty harsh words for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the last few days, calling him "weak" and "mild." It turns out, President Trump isn't the only president to have an issue with a prime minister named Trudeau. Back in the '80s, former President Ronald Reagan didn't always see eye to eye with his father, Pierre. According to a former Reagan administration official, the former president found the elder Trudeau a bit condescending and rude.
Let's go to Chris Cillizza, in Washington, our CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large.
Tell me what happened back in the day.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Hello, Brooke. This photo is so epic. I have this shirt interestingly enough. The Trudeau shirt totally epic. Here's what to remember, 1980, '81, Reagan and Trudeau are in office. They were not great friends ideologically. Over time, they got along OK. Trudeau lectures Margaret Thatcher. Reagan takes offense to it and goes over and apologizes to her.
Donald Trump did not tend to air his grievances in a public forum. He does it privately, I want to go to this photo which has become iconic from the weekend. In a way, Brooke, an amazing photo, you know this guy. What's so interesting to me, this is sort of a Rorschach test of what you think of Donald Trump. People who like Donald Trump say, this is great. He's not bowing down to Angela Merkel. That's Macron. Shinzo Abe. John Bolton sort of there for the ride. This is what we want. If you don't like Donald Trump, what you're saying is this is exactly -- this is the America Donald Trump promised and we do not want. You would argue, sort of petulant there. What else do you have to tell me? Merkel annoyed. Macron, can you only see here looks a little bewildered. Abe's face looks like me, when I walk into my local pharmacy trying to fill a prescription and a lot of people in line and there's only one cashier.
This whole thing, I do think these pictures matter. Merkel's office tweeted this out so they clearly like this dynamic here, her standing up to him. But what I would say is, I do think whatever you look at this picture and take from it is probably what you think of Donald Trump. You like him, or you don't like him. You think this is the world in some ways, and Donald Trump.
That's it -- Brooke?
[14:50:31] BALDWIN: It's like the photo, where you're told, you either see the older woman or a beautiful young girl.
CILLIZZA: That's right, Rorschach test.
BALDWIN: It all depends on the perception of the person looking at it.
Chris Cillizza, thank you.
CILLIZZA: I always see myself in those.
BALDWIN: Always, with the big collar, circa 1972. Wear it someday.
BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, thank you so much.
Moving on, Robert De Niro getting a standing ovation at the Tony Awards last night for dropping the F bomb in a rant against President Trump. Doesn't this play into the president's hands? Let's talk about that.
[14:55:31] BALDWIN: A surprise moment bringing the audience to its feet at the Tony awards. I'm not talking about Robert De Niro. I want to focus on the drama students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Singing the signature song from "Rent."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So special.
Earlier that night, their drama teacher was given the 2018 Excellence in Theater Education Award. She helped protect 65 people in a closet during the February 14th shooting that left 17 people dead.
Two of the other moments from the Tonys is getting buzz. Actor Robert De Niro goes off script and hits President Trump with a few choice words. I want you to watch the reaction from the audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: (EXPLETIVES DELETED).
DE NIRO: It's no longer (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What De Niro said was this, "I want to say one thing, F Trump." And then he said, "It's no longer down with Trump, it's just F Trump."
Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent with the "National Review."
Jim, we've seen what De Niro has said in the last year-plus about Trump. That's not the surprise. What surprised me is the lengthy standing ovation from the audience members at the Tony awards. Doesn't that just fuel Trump, fuel the Trump supporters, help them?
JIM GERAGHTY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yes. I hope it was worth it for everyone in that theater, I'm sure it was authentic. I'm sure that's how they feel. The question I suppose you could say, well, he's preaching to the choir, and sometimes the choir needs some preaching, too. Do you think there's a single Trump voter in America who looks at that says, I think I made the wrong choice?
BALDWIN: No, no.
GERAGHTY: No, I think if anything this makes them angry, and plays into Trump's favorite narrative, that the elites look down on you, the elites look at you with contempt. We're at an event celebrating. The moment with the Parkland students was amazing.
BALDWIN: So beautiful.
GERAGHTY: It's celebrating great performances. It's celebrity people who are great communicators who can make us feel things we never thought we'd ever feel.
There's a lot of arguments to be made against the president and the Trump administration. De Niro didn't do any of that. He dropped the F Bomb, and I don't think it persuaded anybody who wasn't already persuaded. The only way it could have been worse is if he said -- isn't it terrible the way he's corseting our culture?
BALDWIN: Corseting our culture, Jim Geraghty.
Speaking of being politically correct or not, did you see the whole Twitter uproar over Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey? He goes, he's eating at Chick-Fil-A, and a bunch of people from the left jump all over this, because the CEO of Chick-Fil-A has publicly been against gay marriage. Are you surprised at everyone hooting and hollering over this?
GERAGHTY: Yes. Happy Pride Month, everybody.
Twitter drives everybody nuts. It's not healthy for people. This is where I'm supposed to say, follow me, but the reactions I get, not a good idea. I could live happily in a world in which Twitter was trying to make everyone be polite. Don't' be rude, don't use bad words or stuff like that. Or we could live happily in a world where Twitter is the Wild, Wild West, everyone says what they want. Life is tough, you'll hear nasty things. Where a helmet. Be ready for it. What I don't like, and I think a lot of people see it, that sometimes Twitter enforces the rules, sometimes it doesn't. It's very kind of ad hoc, arbitrary basis. And you have this nagging feeling, a sense of like, wait a second, you enforce the rules --