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Pompeo Optimistic Over Summit; Trump and Kim's Meeting; Trump Adviser Comments on Trudeau; Trump Threatens to Stop Trading; Night out in Singapore. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 11, 2018 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Really appreciate it.

Thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

A countdown to history. President Trump face to face with Kim Jong-un just hours from now. Tons of drama and one defining question, is North Korea really willing to give up the nuclear program that defines its regime?

Plus, all this talk of Trump and Kim, missiles and warheads. Twenty- five million people live in the most secretive nation on earth. What does the Singapore summit mean for everyday North Koreans?

And diplomatic is not a word allies are using to describe team Trump this Monday. The president ripped up the G-7 communique this week, then a top aide said there was a special place in hell for Canada's prime minister. Allies were furious. The White House says, too bad.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The idea that the president is going to go to G-7, wherever it is, in this case it was in Canada, and do the mealy-mouthed talk of other types of perhaps leaders in the past or even other leaders in industry is just not Donald Trump. Donald Trump, very quickly, he took a tiny, tiny issue called trade that was mired in single digits, if not even registering at the polls, and elevated it to a manner of fairness. And he will always look out for those farmers and those workers.


KING: Back to the anger of allies in a moment. But we begin in Singapore, where history is being written. In just under nine hours, President Trump and Kim Jong-un will enter a room with only translators. After about 45 minutes, other members of the delegations will be invited to join them.

No American president has ever met with a North Korean leader. In some frame, the stakes here, black and white, war or peace. Two unpredictable leaders, high stakes. But if they're nervous, they're not letting on. President Trump tweeting a short time ago, excitement is in the air. And Kim Jong-un making a remarkable public show of his confidence. Look here. A photograph making a late night outing, cruising around town in Singapore with a massive entourage of security and photographers. The president's top diplomat, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, says the prep work is done and now it's up to the principals.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: But I'm very optimistic that we will have a successful outcome from tomorrow's meeting between these two leaders. It's the case in each of those two countries there are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude, and those two people are going to be sitting in a room together tomorrow.


KING: Let's get straight to CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, the substance is the true test of this summit, but Kim sure proving a short time ago that he knows a little bit about the made- for-TV imagery as well.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's as if, John, he knew the world was watching. Kim Jong-un making this stunning statement tonight by leaving his hotel, going out to several places in Singapore just hours ahead of that high stakes meeting with President Trump.

This is a reclusive dictator who often doesn't do things like this. So it's stunning to see him out and about so carefree, seemingly. So maybe he is sending a message to the Americans ahead of his sit-down with President Trump. That going on while President Trump was behind closed doors tonight after some meetings earlier today, likely putting the last-minute touches ahead of his meeting with Kim Jong-un.

And we know what the logistics of this meeting are going to look like. A handshake, a sit-down that just involves the two leaders at first. But what we don't know, John, is what the substance is going to be and what's going to come out of that meeting because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who briefed reporters right next door to where I am now, made clear that they have not received any concrete commitments from the North Koreans just yet. So that is what we'll be waiting to see.

That one-on-one meeting is going to be what's crucial. That's likely when President Trump and Kim Jong-un will come to an agreement or not come to an agreement if they are going to do so. And we'll likely hear from President Trump on that from himself when he holds a press conference with reporters later on in the afternoon before departing for Singapore. But right now, John, we're waiting to see if history is going to unfold here in a few hours.

KING: It's a remarkable day. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate the reporting. Get back to us if anything breaks during the hour. Here with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights,

Julie Hirschfeld Davis with "The New York Times," CNN's Manu Raju, Carl Hulse, also with "The New York Times," and Jackie Kucinich with 'The Daily Beast."

The point Kaitlan just made is what makes this so remarkable. An American president has never met the North Korean leader. North Korea now has nuclear missiles that can reach the United States. They do not have, the secretary of state says, a plan. There's no commitments. They've been working on, will North Korea sign a statement saying it's willing to give up its nuclear weapons? But if he -- if the secretary of state is telling the truth, that there's no commitment heading into the summit, what is success for President Trump?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I mean, if you listen to him talk about it in the last few days, in the last couple of weeks, a lot of success is just getting to the table and getting to know him, sort of taking the measure of the man. He's going to get -- he said he's going to get sort of a sense for whether he's serious in the first few moments.

[12:05:05] And clearly you can see with Kim Jong-un's outing in Singapore just a few moments ago, for him just getting to the table is a victory, right? He's there on the world stage. He's being treated like a rock star in Singapore, all those photographers. He's showing the world that he is, you know, playing with the big dog and he's there and he's, you know, he's gotten himself to this negotiation.

The key moment, though, is -- or the key moments are the -- is that one on one where there won't be anyone there. There's no one from the policy side on either side. And Trump's advisers don't know what he's going to say. I don't know whether Kim Jong-un's advisers know what he's going to say. But we may never know because it's just them and the translators. So the real question is, what can he come out of that room with and will they -- the two of them leave the room with the same idea of what they've agreed on or not agreed on?

KING: And to that point, I just want to bring -- what -- the point Julie just made.

The president fashions himself as the art of the deal president. This is what he said he would do as a candidate. I can -- everybody else is stupid. They make bad deals. I will make good deals. I will make history.

His history as president so far has been ripping up deals and walking away from deals. He has negotiated exactly zero big international agreements.

But to your point, the president says this is about attitude and he'll know within seconds.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think within the first minute I'll know. QUESTION: How?

TRUMP: Just, my touch, my feel. That's what -- that's what I do. I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen.


KING: I don't know how he could say that. I mean he -- look, remember, to Julie's point it's accurate that -- remember when Putin and Trump met last year, they both came away from these meetings with opposite interpretations of what happened, and whether or not the president confronted Putin on election meddling. Here, these two men are going to be sitting down with their translators. They're probably going to come out with somewhat -- different interpretations. They may do that. And how do we interpret that going forward?

I also think that -- look, Mike Pompeo is very -- had a very high bar he's been setting for weeks, and he did so again today saying any agreement needs to be irreversible, verifiable, complete denuclearization. Will the president also maintain that hard line with Kim Jong-un in a private meeting? I don't think we know that yet.

KING: It's a great point because remember history. President Bush trusted his gut about Vladimir Putin. He said he looked into his soul after his first meeting. He now would acknowledge that that was a dramatic mistake, that Putin's a thug and Putin fooled him. That's what President Bush would tell you now.

To your point, Secretary Pompeo understands the nervousness of some conservatives back here in the United States, a lot of people back here in the United States, but does President Trump so want a deal that he will trust Kim Jong-un, which is why Secretary Pompeo says, no, no, no, no, no, this isn't just about trust.


POMPEO: The president's made very clear, until such time as we get the outcome that we're demanding, economic relief is not going to be provided. That's different. There was always this hypothesis that somewhere along the way the Americans would take their foot off and allow those economic opportunities for the North, and thereby reduce the capacity to actually achieve the deal. We're not going to do that.


KING: We know this secretary of state is closer, more in sync with his boss than the last secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. But is he 100 percent confident the boss will stick with that?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I mean that's the -- that's the gamble here, you don't know what the president is going to agree to. The White House may be saying the administration says one thing, the president is going to make a separate deal. I do like the gamesmanship of him getting out and walking around

Singapore. You know, these things are set pieces. And it reminded me of Gorbachev when he was visiting during the Reagan administration. And he got out at K Street, Connecticut and K, and walked and, you know, to show that he was in town.

And I think that, as far as them getting in the room together, one, if it doesn't go well in the first few seconds, does the president leave, you know, because he's going to be able to tell right away if this is going to work. I don't think that's going to happen because if both of them have really strong incentives to say that they got something here. So I think it's one of those situations where no matter what happens, everybody is probably going to try and at least declare victory that they got something and go on from there.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": But while there will only be two leaders in that room, they will need to loop in China and North Korea because they're going to need buy-in. it can't just be -- this isn't a bilateral agreement. It can't be. China has the purse strings. South Korea, obviously, is an enormous stakeholder in this and they have a president that want peace as well. So while we'll see what comes out of this, but there is a lot of things that need to happen outside that room to make sure anything that is agreed to by these two leaders, however they interpret it, sticks.

KING: And Japan as well in the sense that --


KING: That Secretary Pompeo has talked about some unique security arrangements. Kim has said he doesn't like the U.S. troops in South Korea. There is zero indication the United States is willing to significantly reduce its footprint, but might there be a rearrangement of which weapons are kept where? So Japan could commit to this calculation.

Julie made this point at the beginning of the program. If -- this is General Michael Hayden, former head of -- chief of U.S. intelligence services, saying essentially, Kim Jong-un has already won. The challenge now for President Trump is to get something in exchange.

[12:10:09] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's got a meeting with the president of the United States face to face with a sense of equivalency. That's a remarkable achievement. We've already paid that bill, John, by having this meeting, and now we need to push Kim in a direction where we're now going to be getting something. And, again, I think it's a very long process.


KING: And there's nothing wrong with a very long process. If you can get North Korea at the table, they stay at the table for months, they stop launching missiles, they stop launching nuclear weapons, they stop threatening South Korea, they stop threatening Japan and they're actually making productive progress in the negotiations. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is not what this president is known for, investing in a long process.

HULSE: Yes, he wants a quick decision and to come out of here and say, I won. So -- but these things always take so much time and they have to go through so many layers. But that's what I'm saying, these first statements after the individual meeting will really be defining, as far as I'm concerned.

KING: Do we buy -- do we buy the White House changing the schedule today, putting out a statement saying the president is going to leave tomorrow, he's going to have a news conference. Is he leaving tomorrow? Is that part of convincing Kim, you have one shot? The president said you get a one-time shot here. Is that trying to convince Kim there's a clock running?

HIRSCHFELD: Well, I do think we know that this president is, as Carl said, he's not a patient person. So he's going to want to be able to say something definitive very quickly afterwards, whether it's at that news conference or right after they meet in between, you know, all the delegations come in to really sort of nail down whatever details there are.

But the question really is, if this is going to be a longer, drawn-out process, if they can keep North Korea at the table, how will they do that if they're going to hold to what Mike Pompeo said, which is no relief from any kind of economic sanctions, no concession on that side until they get everything that they want. We know from Kim Jong-un from the past that he is not likely to want to be patient with that either. So that's the real question is, can either one of them sustain the presence at the table?

KING: Right, the atmosphere is the trust between the two leaders is primary, but the substance is what matters when you get to tomorrow, next week and beyond.

Up next for us here, the president's in Singapore with one diplomatic challenge. Fresh global anxiety after the president torments his neighbor to the north.


[12:16:23] KING: Welcome back.

The global spotlight is on the president today in his high-stakes summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. A diplomatic success would wow the world. But today, diplomatic disaster is the label being attached to the president by traditional U.S. allies who are anxious, alienated after a weekend summit that ended in unprecedented disarray and name- calling.

Take a look here. Some headlines from around the world. This is the U.K.'s "Financial Times," "The West in Disarray." "The Quebec Journal," "Trump Hounds Trudeau." And a German paper out of Munich, "Europe Cannot be Intimidated." President Trump infuriated the other G-7 leaders by pulling his

support for a summit communique, a message he delivered by tweet hours after he left the meeting. Then team Trump went on the attack, singling out Canada's prime minister.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.


KING: That's not exactly what happened, but that's how team Trump portrays it.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, called the president's behavior, quote, "sobering" and "somewhat depressing." Her foreign minister, more direct.


HELKO MAAS, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): It's actually not a real surprise. We have seen this with the climate agreement or the Iran deal. In a matter of second, you can destroy trust with 280 Twitter characters. To build that up again will take much longer.


KING: We are at a remarkable moment, and from the other G-7 members, the G-6 versus one is what the weekend turned out to be, the incoming for them is that this is not just a fight and a feud, but that a line has been crossed, that in saying Justin Trudeau betrayed the United States, that there's a special place in hell for America's neighbor and most trustworthy ally, whether we're talking about economics, whether we're talking about Afghanistan, whether we're talking about culture, whether we're talking about history.

They view this as a line crossing. The question is, what happens?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean this is stunning. I mean not just the rhetoric was remarkable, that's usually reserved for America's worst adversaries and certainly not our closest ally. You probably don't even hear that language certainly coming from senior level officials. You know, typically directed at a head of state. If there's anything, it's, you know, a head of state calling out another head of state, and they probably don't even go to the level that Peter Navarro did yesterday by saying there's a special place in hell for Justin Trudeau.

You know, the -- what Larry Kudlow said yesterday was that this was an effort to show American strength heading into North Korea. They do not want to make America look weak ahead of these talks. But really we think the question is, is the U.S. more isolated going into these talks in light of what happened over the weekend?

KING: Right. And the G-7 is an annual meeting. The White House team is saying the president did Trudeau a favor. He was doing a plus, if you will, a nice by going to the meeting. No, it's his responsibility. They meet every year. You have to walk and chew gum if you're the president of the United States.

Here's how Donald Tusk, the president of the European Union, responded to this. There's a special place in heaven for at Justin Trudeau. Canada, thank you for the perfect organization of G-7.

So these guys are politicians, too. And now the president of the United States has said one of them, through his trade guy, should go to hell, essentially. A special place in hell for you. You betrayed us. The French left mad. The Japanese left mad. The Germans left mad. What happens?

HULSE: Well, I think there's a place of diplomatic history for this meeting. I don't think we'll ever forget this meeting. And as someone said, that picture of them confronting Trump's going to be in every history book.

Trump operates out of pique and he got mad. He didn't want to be at this summit in the first place. He didn't want to be juggling this and the Korean meeting. And he got angry with the pushback that he got. He does not like this kind of push-back from people who consider themselves his peers.

[12:20:13] I think the big question in Washington that everyone's asking is, why do we treat our greatest allies so poorly and our adversaries, as you said, so well? You know, at the same time he's saying that Russia should be allowed back into the G-7 to make it the G-8. People are confounded by this. It was a really erratic display. I mean --

KUCINICH: Well, and I think you saw that because some of the guidance the press received before he decided to blow this up was that this was -- that their -- everything was fine. Trump himself I think called CNN fake news because they were asking about some of the tension that was going on behind the scenes. Well, clearly it wasn't. This is exactly what happened. And I think Carl's right.

And the fact that you actually are not hearing leaders on Capitol Hill talk about this yet. They're going to have to. They're going to get questions from the press. They're coming back in. But the fact you haven't seen them talk about this at all I think is telling. They're afraid.

KING: Right. Whether it's the broader question of the president walking away from the Republican Party's principle about free trade and globalization --


KING: Which he did in the campaign. This is -- that part's not new, but they have stood up to a little -- KUCINICH: Well, Republicans pushed back on it during the campaign too.

KING: But -- but-- but the personal language about the prime minister of Canada, given the history, given the relationship, and then the incoming from the other countries also was that they were getting mad because the president won't budge off a point when he's wrong or when he's out of context. In the sense, the president has been angry -- look at his Twitter feed, about Canadian tariffs on dairy products. Every country has is sacred cows. And in Canada literally they're cows. They're literally the cows. You know, every country has products, parts of their economy that they protect, either because they are vulnerable or because they have political friends or both in some cases.

Here's the point. Yes, Canada does impose a 270 percent tariff on U.S. dairy goods. The United States imposes a 350 percent tariff on some peanut products -- on tobacco products I mean, and 132 percent tariff on some peanut products.

We have the same tariffs on some products that the president's complaining about. If you look at the broader tariff picture, of the broader trade deficit picture, the United States, actually if you take goods and services, has a trade surplus with Canada, not a trade deficit. If you're only looking at goods, it's a modest trade deficit.

Their point is that the president gets stuck on this one thing, doesn't have the perspective about the bigger picture and won't budge.

DAVIS: Well, and he doesn't care about the details. And you played that sound from Kellyanne Conway earlier where she talked about the president's taken this issue that people didn't really care about and elevated it to this huge issue that trade with other nations is unfair to the U.S. and he will not let go of that, whether the facts bear it out or not. In this case, as you pointed out, with Canada, it actually does not.

Now, there's no question that there is a broader perspective that he's trying to elevate here and he wants a better trade deal for the U.S., and there's nothing wrong with that. But for a year and a half now, these allies have been trying to sort of work within this relationship where they know the president is very adversarial towards them and they want to try to kind of keep the United States in this alliance because it's important, both economically and otherwise, and I think this summit just showed that all of those efforts really are for naught when you have a president who does not care about the details and doesn't fundamentally care about the alliance -- about the importance of the alliance per se, and would rather go transaction to transaction, and if he feels wronged or he feels like he's being insulted, walk away.

KING: Well, the next step is going to be, according to the Canadian prime minister and others, retaliation against the United States. We'll see what happens when they actually start imposing their own tariffs, watch this escalate, both on the economics of it, the big diplomatic picture.

Up next for us here, more on Kim Jong-un's night out on the town. Is he trying to send the Americans a message?


[12:27:50] KING: Welcome back.

How did Kim Jong-un spend the night before what could be the most important day of his life? Out on the town. The North Korean leader taking a stroll through the streets of Singapore late in the evening, surrounded by bodyguards. The international media clearly not a lighting director. And here he is posing for a selfie with Singapore's foreign minister.

CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from Seoul. Nic, clearly Kim Jong-un gets the imagery of a summit. The question is, such little is known about him, can he be trusted at the table on the substance?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: His father couldn't be. His grandfather couldn't be. It's all going to come down to the leverage. You have to look at his positioning of himself this evening with this walk-about. He's certainly going into this meeting tomorrow, a hugely important meeting, giving off an air of confidence. And I guess if you really want to be Machiavellian in your analysis of him, the timing of when he choose to go and walk on the streets is not only a message that says, "I can do this," but it doesn't really leave any space of time for President Trump to come out and do something similar, even if the security service were to allow the United States president to walk on the streets the same as Kim Jong-un.

He kind of scores something of a plus there. It's going to be hard for him to have pictures of him sort of in a terribly ostentatious environment paraded before his home domestic audience who are getting an abnormally sort of almost tick-tock account of what he's doing and how the process, how the meetings are going so far.

But to the point is, can he be trusted at the table? This is a guy that the -- that the South Korean foreign minister has described as serious. He's described him as well-mannered. But somebody who is deeply knowledgeable. He has got everything to fight for here. It's his survival, his regime's survival, his dynasty's survival. He's been at this learning at his father's knee, who learned from his father's knee. This is a man who very clearly cannot be taken at his word. But what is his intent? We don't even know that still, John.

[12:30:11] KING: Eight and a half hours, we may begin to find out.

Nic Robertson, appreciate the perspective there.