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THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump and Kim Jong-un Summit Just Hours Away. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 11, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Historic meeting. We're just hours away from the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the first between a sitting American president and a North Korean dictator. They'll begin one-on-one, and President Trump says he'll be able to size up Kim within the first minute. But why has he already decided to leave early?

[17:00:30] Smiles and selfies. Kim Jong-un projects an air of confidence, strolling through Singapore with a smile on his face and stopping for selfies. Has he already achieved what he wants from the summit?

Ready for change? Back in North Korea, there's extensive state-run media coverage of Kim's arrival in Singapore and the buildup to the summit, and the U.S. detects no signs ever heightened military readiness. Is that in itself a sign of change?

And isolating allies. The president is meeting with a long-time enemy of the United States on the heels of his chaotic meeting with the G-7 nations. Why did the president single out Americas closest allies for harsh attacks?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. We're just four hours before the historic summit in Singapore between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The two leaders will begin one-on-one, joined only by interpreters. The stakes are enormous, with the United States seeking the elimination of North Korea's nuclear program. And even as he meets with a bitter foe, the reverberations continue from the president's harsh attacks on America's closest allies at the G-7 summit.

I'll speak with Congressman Mike McCaul. He's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are all standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with the breaking news. Our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is joining us live from Singapore. Kaitlan, both sides are projecting a sense of readiness for this historic summit.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, publicly they are both expressing confidence, but behind the scenes there seems to be a bit of a scramble and a schedule change. President Trump is now scheduled to depart Singapore just less than 12 hours after his first sit-down with Kim Jong-un. We're told that comes after the president learned that Kim Jong-un will also be departing Singapore in the hours after they are first initially scheduled to sit down with each other.

Of course, that is something that is subject to change, because this is a schedule that has been just about as unpredictable as the summit itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): Just hours before a handshake and a sit-down that could make history, President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un publicly expressing confidence. While the normally reclusive dictator took a late-night stroll in front of the cameras.

This as the White House announced that the president will leave Singapore more than 12 hours earlier than expected. But questions remain about whether or not North Korea is willing to commit to denuclearization.

President Trump's top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, telling reporters that the prep work is done. Now, it's up to the leaders.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Trump is going into this meeting with confidence, a positive attitude and eagerness for real progress.

COLLINS: Pompeo vowing the United States won't repeat past mistakes.

POMPEO: The United States has been fooled before. There's no doubt about it.

COLLINS: While moving closer to language used by Pyongyang, repeating that the White House wants --

POMPEO: A complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

COLLINS: Mentioning the entire peninsula is significant, because it could include the U.S. presence there. Pompeo declined to say if the summit could affect the 25,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.

POMPEO: I'm not going to get into any of the details of the discussions that we've had to date.

COLLINS: Only noting --

POMPEO: We're prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than have been provided -- than America has been willing to provide previously.

COLLINS: And while only hours away from a historic summit, President Trump is also dealing with fallout from his last one, refusing to let go of his feud with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7. Dispatching his top aides to defend him in the fight over tariffs.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: He really kind of stabbed us in the back.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with president Donald J. Trump.

COLLINS: Quite a departure from what the president said before he left Canada.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The relationship that I've had with the people -- the leaders of these countries has been -- I would really rate it, on a scale of zero to ten, I would rate it a ten.

COLLINS: Trump lashing out after seeing these comments from Trudeau.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Canadians, we're polite. We're reasonable but we also will not be pushed around.

[17:05:04] COLLINS: In Singapore, Pompeo seemed agitated when asked if the feud could affect negotiations with North Korea.

POMPEO: I came here today here in Singapore to talk about North Korea.

COLLINS: Downplaying the riff between the U.S. and one of its closest allies.

POMPEO: There are always irritants in relationships. I'm very confident that relationships between our countries, the United States and those G-7 countries, will continue to be -- move forward on a strong basis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the White House legislative affairs director, Marc Short, who is not here in Singapore but back in Washington, just said on CNN that he expects there to be some kind of announcement of progress after those meetings between President Trump and Kim Jong-un are over.

An official telling CNN that they are working together on a joint statement of understanding of some sort. Now whether or not that statement actually happens between the two sides and whether or not President Trump sticks by it or decides to walk away from it like he did the statement of the G-7 summit in Canada, is still up in the air.

BLITZER: Kaitlan -- Kaitlan Collins in Singapore for us. Thank you.

Kaitlan will be back later.

CNN's Will Ripley is also in Singapore. He's been to North Korea 18 times over the past few years. He knows the country better than almost any journalist on TV. So, Will, what kind of impression has Kim Jong-un made on the world stage, at least so far?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it's remarkable, because he spent his first six years in power being widely regarded as a recluse who was building up his image domestically, surrounding himself with people who were loyal and purging those who were not. While at the same time aggressively growing his nuclear arsenal, launching missiles, defying international condemnation.

And yet, at the beginning of this year when, really, the Olympics, there's been this diplomatic new turn. And all of a sudden, you now see this new side of Kim Jong-un.

I mean, to see him walking around the streets here in Singapore, just touring a bridge right down the block here from where we are, just extraordinary. Smiling, taking selfies with the Singaporean prime minister, you know, strolling around town, toasting with world leaders.

He has meetings coming up with President Putin, with President Xi Jinping who's rumored to be planning a visit to Pyongyang. And then, of course, just hours from now something that North Korea has wanted for decades, something that the two previous North Korean leaders could never achieve, a sit-down, a face-to-face meeting with the United States president, possibly giving this government the legitimacy, the leader of North Korea the legitimacy that has been sought for so many years and has always alluded the country.

Obviously there are a lot of -- a lot of controversy. Things that might not be brought up at meeting such as human rights for the 25 million people living in North Korea. A lot of people, a lot of analysts saying, including at the United Nations, that no nuclear deal would really be sustainable, no acceptance of North Korea's government would be sustainable without a discussion about the rights of its people, who some say live in one of the most cruel and oppressive dictatorships on earth.

But North Korea claims that they have a different definition of human rights. They want the world to accept them for who they are, for what they are. And if they get assurances from the United States and President Trump they could exist and security guarantees then they say they'll be willing to talk about denuclearization.

But we know that there is a wide -- a big divide between what North Koreans think about giving up nukes and what President Trump and his administration think. They'd love to see it happen in a matter of months. For the North Koreans, it could be a matter of years to talk about giving up nuclear weapons.

So it's going to be certainly fascinating. Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall just hours from now when President Trump and Kim Jong- un go into a room together with only their interpreters, sitting there for up to two hours face-to-face, starting this relationship. But where does it go from here? Does it go well or does it go horribly wrong, Wolf? That is the open question. That there is cautious optimism here on the ground in Singapore right now. BLITZER: In your 18 trips to North Korea, Will, you've gained

extraordinary access to Kim Jong-un's regime. How has North Korea been preparing for the summit and what are their goals?

RIPLEY: North Korea, for much of its existence, has been preparing for its -- this summit. Kim Jong-un has a team of people around him who are experts, not only experts who have been studying the United States and President Trump but also studying nuclear gamesmanship on the Korean Peninsula, studying how they're going to go into this, what negotiating points they're going to make. They know exactly what they want to get out of this.

And no doubt, part of the reason why Kim Jong-un has waited, you know, some six years for this coming out party is because he's been preparing for this moment. He needed to surround himself with a team who would support him growing up the nuclear arsenal, then doing this U-turn. And essentially now, Kim Jong-un has so much power in North Korea he can snap his fingers and one day say, "OK, we're going from testing nuclear weapons to now a full-throttle approach to try to grow our economy. Just do it." And in North Korea they're doing it.

The question for the North Koreans is does Kim Jong-un -- I mean, I'm sorry, does Donald Trump also have that ability to implement whatever agreement is made, because the problem with the North Koreans has had in the past is that when a new U.S. administration takes over, whether it's four years or eight years, depending on the president's terms, there could be a complete reversal. We saw that from the Clinton administration to the second Bush administration where, you know, President Clinton was almost ready to make a visit to North Korean. It didn't work out.

[17:10:12] And then when President George W. Bush came in, they totally reversed course on North Korea. And the agreed framework fell apart, and North Korea rapidly grew its nuclear arsenal, even after taking measures to eliminate it.

So we know that progress could be made here in Singapore, but we also know that it could quickly be reversed if things go downhill, either in the immediate future or down the road. Because I can tell you, Wolf, the North Koreans are never going to give up the nuclear leverage completely. They're always going to have a back-up plan. And the survival of their government is their No. 1 priority, even above any economic benefits of a friendship or normalization of relations with the United States.

BLITZER: Remember when President Clinton sent Secretary of State Albright to Pyongyang instead. I remember that visit well. All right. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas. He's the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He's also a key member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIR, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: You like the idea that the initial two-hour session between the president and the North Korean leader, just the two of them with only interpreters present? Because normally in a sensitive meeting like this, you want -- at least one senior aide from both sides, at least to take notes.

MCCAUL: You know, I actually do. This is called a meet and greet. This is a beginning of the conversation, I think, towards a peaceful resolution, if that's possible. I know the president's personality -- the personal chemistry means a lot to him. And this will give him an opportunity to feel out Kim Jong-un one-on-one and to, in his assessment, whether he can be trusted or not.

BLITZER: Well, what happens if there are very different interpretations, analyses of what happened during that one-on-one meeting, a North Korean version versus a U.S. version?

MCCAUL: I think it's good to have some confidentiality and speak candidly without cameras in the room.

Now, the second phase will have the advisers. I think the secretary of state will be there and the chief of staff, and we'll have a second conversation.

Again, I wouldn't raise the expectations too high here. I think this is beginning of the conversations. I know Mike Pompeo is very optimistic, which I was glad to hear that tone. But I would also exercise a good deal of caution. The Kim dynasty, three administrations three presidents have basically gotten concessions from us and then thrown us under the bus.

BLITZER: The president said he'll know within a minute -- a minute whether or not this is a good idea, a bad idea. He can tell. He's got the instinct; he's got the judgment. Do you believe that?

MCCAUL: I think that's his personality. I mean, just he either -- he either hits it off with people or he doesn't.

BLITZER: Within a minute?

MCCAUL: It's kind of -- it's not -- there's no gray area. It's black and white with him. I think in a minute he's going to know, "Do I like this guy or not?"

There's been a lot of preparation for this meeting, as well, and I think they do have some things already pre-negotiated that they'll be able to sign a document at the end of this.

BLITZER: But you know who Kim Jong-un is. You know what he's done in North Korea. He's a pretty brutal dictator.

MCCAUL: The human rights issues, the ICBM capabilities, the direct threat to the homeland, a lot of these issues need to be on the negotiation table. What I like about this one, as opposed to the Iran deal, is that he's willing to walk away from the table, if necessary. BLITZER: The president?

MCCAUL: The president could walk away.

BLITZER: Should he raise human rights in this initial meeting?

MCCAUL: I certainly think the ICBM capability is part of this. A miniaturized nuclear warhead.

BLITZER: What about the way he treats his own people? The North Korean leader.

MCCAUL: I do think this should be as much on the table as possible. And he's also said he's going to work with Congress, very important from how the Iran deal -- this is almost reminiscent of Nixon going to China and sort of an opportunity there to normalize relations in a country that's been very -- anything but normal.

BLITZER: Do you remember what the president said about North Korea in his U.N. General Assembly speech about a year or so ago. He went through the gulag, the prison camps, the starvation, the torture, all of that. He went point by point by point, and if he comes into this meeting and doesn't even raise it with the North Korean leader, what does that say?

MCCAUL: Well, the United States Congress passed sanctions on North Korea based upon their human rights violations and behavior, particularly the student who came back and died -- and was tortured --

BLITZER: Otto Warmbier.

MCCAUL: Of course. And I think that has to be part of this negotiation.

BLITZER: So the president should, at least at a minimum, raise all these issues?

MCCAUL: I mean, you have to be diplomatic -- I don't know if this president -- I think Mike Pompeo, certainly, has laid the groundwork on this, and I think it should be part of the discussion.

BLITZER: Let's talk about this -- he's trying to improve relations with North Korea, but the U.S. relationship with key allies like Canada and France and Germany clearly very strained right now in the aftermath of the G-7. The president was deeply offended by what the prime minister of Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau, had to say, which wasn't even all that significant. He just said, you know, if the U.S. is going to impose tariffs on Canada, Canada will reciprocate.

Did the president make a major blunder by sending his two top economic advisers out there and smearing Prime Minister Trudeau the way they did?

MCCAUL: Look, we need our allies in this, and our allies need to be joined with us in what's the biggest, perhaps, nuclear threat to the world. And so I think it's important we maintain those friendships. Would I have preferred to see that go differently? Perhaps. I have a different perspective on tariffs and trade, as well.

[17:15:14] BLITZER: But you can't justify the saying -- Peter Navarro, the trade adviser to the president, that there's a special place in hell for Prime Minister Trudeau.

MCCAUL: Well, let me just -- getting into the mind of Kim Jong-un, I really don't think he cares about all of that. I think he cares about --

BLITZER: No, I'm just -- forget about Kim Jong-un for a moment. I'm asking about U.S.-Canadian relations. Canada clearly, arguably, the closest ally the United States has, the top trading partner of the United States. For a senior adviser to the president to say he belongs -- there's a special place in hell for him. And what Larry Kudlow, the top economic adviser, what he had to say -- you heard it earlier. Forget about North Korea for a moment, but for senior aides to smear the prime minister of Canada like that, is that acceptable?

MCCAUL: It's not the rhetoric I would use. And NAFTA is very important to my home state of Texas. We -- Mexico is our largest trading partner, and we don't want to see that relationship or Canada's impacted such that that document is shredded.

In addition, in my energy sector, they rely a great deal on steel, and so these tariffs are not going to be, you know, particularly productive for them. And you have to look at my district.

But getting back to Kim Jong-un, I don't think in these negotiations that's really going to make a whole lot of difference.

BLITZER: I suspect it won't make a whole lot of difference, but I'm just wondering about the U.S.-Canadian relationship, which is so -- so very, very important.

MCCAUL: We have our allies. We have our enemies. And I think it's important to make that distinction clear.

BLITZER: Yes. So you disagree with what those advisers to the president said.

MCCAUL: This is a time we need every ally we have on the table to force North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Mike McCaul of Texas.

Up next, breaking news, the high stakes between President Trump and Kim Jong-un only a few hours away. Is it a cause for concern that the two impulsive leaders will start their own summit one-on-one without advisers present, only interpreters?

And after blistering attacks by the president and his aides, is America's relationship with its closest allies coming apart at the seams?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As the clock ticks down to the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un, the shock waves are still spreading from the president's harsh attacks on America's closest allies at the rather chaotic G-7 summit in Canada. The president's aides continued the extraordinary assault through the weekend. Our panel is standing by. We'll have a serious discussion.

But first, let's go to CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, how much fallout has there been among the allies after the G-7.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing shock and confusion still from U.S. allies. I mean, the G-7 is supposed to be this show of unity and shared value and friends sticking together.

So we're things like German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling President Trump's words and actions sobering and depressing. The French government saying that international cooperation can't depend on anger and small words. Let's be worthy of our people.

But we're learning more from senior diplomatic sources about how Trump was during these discussions. We are hearing that this was not easy. That these were very difficult conversations. They've been described as very intense.

And look at the photo that was tweeted out by the German government that shows what appears to be a very contentious conversation. President Trump with his arms folded across his chest. He looks like everybody is staring him down. Of course, the U.S. side tweeted out what appears to be about the same moment where President Trump is the center of attention with everybody gathered around him.

But now we're hearing from multiple diplomatic sources that, at that moment, there was this very tough, contentious conversation going on, a discussion about what would end up in the communique, the joint statement that the G-7 puts out. And that Trump was having difficulty with the language on trade. He disagreed with what allies wanted to put in there.

And also he didn't like a reference to an international rules-based order. That ended up making it into the communique. Of course, the U.S. agreed with it but then Trump rescinded his support for the communique. It's not entirely clear why he didn't like rules-based international order, although that tended to be a mantra of the Obama administration.

But when they reached consensus on the communique, U.S. allies felt like that was a big victory, like they had achieved something. So there was a lot of surprise when Trump ended up pulling away from that. And in the words of one source today, the whole thing doesn't make sense, Wolf.

BLITZER: Michelle, thank you. Michelle Kosinski reporting for us.

Let's bring in our correspondents, analysts and our experts. And John Kirby, you're an expert in this area. How much damage was done to the U.S. relationship with some of the most intense, closest U.S. allies? And what does this portend for the negotiations with North Korea?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: I think it was seriously damaging to the relationship with our G-7 partners. I mean, the G-7 is a unique body. Our closest allies on everything, from security and trade to all kinds of immigration issues.

And so to do this, I think he definitely has set things back in a significant way. And that's unfortunate.

Now I think he thinks that this makes him look strong going into this meeting with Kim Jong-un. That he pushed back on the insult from Trudeau and, you know, "I'm not going take anything, and I'm willing to walk out." I don't know that that really is going to help him at all, because I don't think Kim Jong-un is all that concerned about his relationships with the G-7. I think he's more concerned about what he did the Iran deal, what Trump did with the Iran deal and about the relationships in the region.

[17:25:09] And let me tell you something else, Wolf. When we talk about allies, this summit only is the beginning of -- it's going to get harder, not easier after the summit. And right now it's a bilateral discussion between him and Kim, but two days from now, it's going to be a multi-lateral discussion, because our allies and partners in the region, including Russia and China, who have interests here, are not just going to walk away from this.

BLITZER: Phil Mudd, what do you think?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, look, long-term we can withstand this. We've been with some of these countries for more than a century, but let's go short-term. The president has two and a half years left in his term. And he just threw a fourth-grade hissy fit. I would have been kept behind by Sister Noelle for that hissy fit in fourth grade.

So let's talk about short-term implications. If you're dealing with the Europeans, who have a great interest on the Iran nuclear deal, they have a great interest in Russia and strong ties with Russia on things like energy, we've got to deal with China in the South China Sea with allies like the Japanese. We obviously have to deal with Russia going forward with the Europeans and the Canadians on election intervention.

Would you trust the president of the United States after that tantrum? The answer is no.

And to close, Wolf, God forbid that we see with this president the same kind of incidents as we saw with George H.W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq. We saw in my generation, the invasion of Iraq a second time, the Afghan War. What do you tell the people who sent soldiers to die with us in those wars? "Sorry about the president throwing a hissy fit, but if there's another catastrophic event in the United States, don't worry about it. We love you"?

I think the president did a great deal of damage. Maybe not long-term but at least for the next two and a half years.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There's a lot more we need to assess. We're getting some new information at the same time. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and our experts. And Chris Cillizza, it's 5:30 in the morning, Tuesday morning over there in Singapore right now. They're 12 hours ahead of us. But the president is up maybe watching us right now.

[17:31:39] He just tweeted this: "Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly. But in the end that doesn't matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen."

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, my guess is he's still adjusting to the time difference. Because it's still about 5:30 his time. He hasn't been over there all that long.

But this tweet is Donald Trump in a nutshell. I mean, imagine if you were a staffer of his who had spent a week or a month or you are the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who had spent a lot of time trying to cultivate this relationship and set this up, and you get up -- or maybe you aren't up yet, but you get up in 30 minutes in Singapore, and you read, "Well, this stuff isn't important. And what really matters is what Donald Trump does."

Donald Trump's -- we've seen this. He has said this. It is about him. He has said it doesn't matter who all these other people are -- all these types. Don't worry about that we haven't filled all these various offices within the federal bureaucracy. "I'm the only one who matters." He -- he believes that to his core, and I don't think he cares all that much about the rest of the people.

BLITZER: So is there an overriding doctrine, a new doctrine we're hearing about now?

CILLIZZA: Yes. I want to make sure I get the quote right, because I do think that this is right, though these are not my words. But I do want to quote something, because I think it's accurate. This is from Jeffrey Goldberg, the big boss at "The Atlantic." He quotes a senior White House official as being asked to define the Trump doctrine, and he says the following, Wolf, "We're America, bitch."

Now reminder: those aren't my words. Don't isolate that out and say I'm saying that. And this is a slight overstatement, exaggeration of what I do think, broadly speaking, is Trump's view of the world. Which is we have kowtowed and bowed and scraped to the world community for too long. That photo, that photo that's now iconic that Angela Merkel's office sent out, my guess is Donald Trump is happy with that photo.

BASH: Of course.

CILLIZZA: It's him standing up to the world. Remember when he pulled out of Paris, he said, "I need to look out for Pittsburgh, not Paris." And that's what that photo, in his mind, shows.

BLITZER: But Dana, you know, we've been talking -- interviewing Donald Trump for a long time. Nineteen years ago, listen to what he told me in a CNN interview, because he sounds remarkably similar to what he says now. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is totally out of control and would you rather have a very, very serious chat with them now and, if necessary, you might have to do something fairly drastic? Or would you rather have to go after them in five years when they have more nuclear warheads and missiles than we do?

BLITZER: What if the North Koreas don't play ball, develop a nuclear capability, go forward with their missile development? Does the United States act unilaterally?

TRUMP: Excuse me. If spoken to correctly, correctly, they will play ball.

Look on another front what happened recently, where Clinton has asked our trade -- our so-called trade partners to come so we can renegotiate some fairness into trade, right. They don't show up. They say, "We're not coming." Why would Germany show up? Why would France show up? Why would Japan show up? They've been ripping us off for years. So why would they come here? It's ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was November of 1999. He could have said that yesterday.

BASH: Absolutely. Except for the fact that you're wearing different glasses.

BLITZER: Yes, exactly.

BASH: That was the giveaway.

BLITZER: A little bit more color in my hair.

BASH: A little, a little. But listen, Wolf, I think that there are a couple of things that Donald Trump has been incredibly consistent on since he was a businessman for decades, and one is trade and the other is things like this.

[17:30:10] And he was prescient; I mean, he was right. That if you don't deal with it now, it's going to get worse, and North Korea is going to advance and develop its nuclear program. And that's exactly what happened. And it is one of the biggest red flags that his predecessor, President Obama, raised with him in that meeting that the two of them had two days after the election.

Now, you talked about the president thinks this is different, because he's the one in the White House. But he's not wrong. I mean, he is different. And -- for better or worse. And if there were any other president in the White House right now, this meeting would almost surely not be happening. It doesn't mean that it's going to see fruition, but the two are them are going to meet one-on-one. Then assuming it goes well, then they're going to broaden out to their aides and advisers.

And then as you said, this is the beginning. Then the really hard stuff comes.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": I think that, insofar as President Trump does have a foreign policy doctrine, it's "How do I look?" This is a president who views every major policy decision, whether it's foreign or domestic, through the lens of how he is perceived and, most importantly, whether he is perceived to have the upper hand.

That has been his -- the way he has operated going into these negotiations with North Korea, without much concern for the substance of those negotiations, whether or not there can be a clear and definitive commitment from Kim Jong-un to dismantle and surrender North Korea nuclear weapons program. I think what you see from President Trump, instead, is this projection of what he believes is toughness. You even saw that in the way that he, of course, treated Justin Trudeau over the weekend.

And whether you're talking about North Korea, whether you're talking about the Iran nuclear deal, whether you're talking about the Paris climate accord, all of his decisions have been governed by this idea that he is projecting toughness where his predecessors have failed. What he's, instead, doing however, is dramatically reshaping America's standing on the global stage, as well as our relationships with key allies.

BLITZER: North Korea, he says talk to North Korea, see what happens, don't wait five years. On Germany and France, he says they're -- in his words, they've been ripping us off for years, and that's what he said in 1999.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, as Dana said very rightly, those are things he could have said yesterday, and he's not wrong about them. You know, we did tolerate a lot out of North Korea that we probably shouldn't have, or we probably should have done a better job getting them to a point where they didn't have the capability that they have right now. So we'll see how it goes.

I think he has done a fairly good job of keeping expectations low for the result of this summit. And I think we all need to realize that. He -- look, it's a spectacle. It's a parade. You know, we've got Kim Jong-un taking selfies and isn't that cool? But in the end, it's going to be what they agree on. And I think what they're going to agree on is something very basic: a framework for future discussions, and that's what's really important.

BLITZER: Phil Mudd, button this up. Go ahead.

MUDD: Pretty simple. We keep focusing on President Trump. He's not the player here. I think the player here is the mature guy in the room, and that's Mike Pompeo. The president's going to leave in 24 hours.

The question is not whether Kim Jong-un says he's going to play. The question is things like are we going to have access to scientists and engineers for years? Are we going to have access to facilities? Are those international inspectors going to have a limited time frame to get in, or are they going to have maximum access over the course of time?

I think Mike Pompeo is the key, and so far he's been tough but I think very professional.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following. The summit through North Korean eyes. People of Pyongyang didn't learn about what their leader is doing until this morning.

Plus, despite President Trump's proposal to let Russia back into the G-7 his Treasury Department hits back over Russian cyber-attacks, including attacks targeting the nation's power grid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:24] BLITZER: While President Trump is focused on his upcoming summit with Kim Jong-un, his Treasury Department here in Washington hit back over a series of Russian cyber-attacks on the United States, including attacks targeting the nation's power grid.

Let's go to Moscow. Our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is standing by live. Fred, tell us more about why these sanctions are now being imposed.

PLEITGEN: Yes, well, the treasury, Wolf, says that it wants to aggressively target companies and entities and individuals that are acting at the behest and at the direction of Russia's intelligence service, the FSB.

Now, it's interesting, because all this seems to be compartmentalized into two different things. On the one hand, it's about past attacks. One of them is a major cyber-attack that happened in Ukraine and the European Union last year, the Napetya (ph) attack. And then also what you were just talking about, those attacks on the U.S. power grid.

But there's a second aspect to this, as well, which is really, really important. It's that the U.S. is also targeting the individuals and entities of Russia's underwater capabilities. They say that Russia has been actively tracking underwater cable communications. That, of course, very, very important to communications around the world and very important to U.S. national security. And if you look at the three individuals who were targeted just now, they're all part of the same Russian company called Dive Techno Services that provides underwater technologies.

Now Wolf, we've been looking around this evening, and the Russians have not commented on any of this yet, but of course, all this comes on the heel of that G-7 summit where the president, President Trump, alienated a lot of America's allies and said that he actually wants Russia to be part of that group once again, Wolf.

BLITZER: How close is President Trump and President Putin to actually getting together for a meeting?

PLEITGEN: Yes. It's very interesting, because the Russians are being quite coy on all this. They say they are ready. They say they are waiting for the American side to come forward and to put forward proposals as to when such a summit could take place.

[17:45:00]

Now, we know that the Austrians have also said that they're willing to host such a summit. So far, it doesn't look as though there is a date set yet, but it certainly seems as though, when you look at the vibe here in Moscow, that a meeting between these two leaders is something that is closer than it has been over the past couple of months, Wolf.

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen in Moscow for us. Thank you.

Coming up, North Koreans finally are told what their leader is doing. Stand by for new information on the summit through North Korean eyes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:30] BLITZER: In a just few hours, President Trump and Kim Jong-un are scheduled to shake hands and sit down for a summit meeting the whole world will be watching. Even North Koreans know their leader is now in Singapore to meet with the President of United States.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd.

Brian, North Korea's state-run media didn't actually break the news for the folks in North Korea until earlier this morning.

TODD: Right, Wolf. We believe this may well have been the first time North Koreans were given the news that their leader is meeting with President Trump.

Tonight, we've got new information from intelligence officials and outside analysts on why Kim wants and needs this meeting in Singapore. We're told the nature of that announcement from the news anchor speaks to Kim's motivations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): She is one of North Korea's most famous people. Today the revered news anchor for Kim Jong-un delivered a bombshell to his people.

RI CHUN-HEE, KOREAN CENTRAL TELEVISION ANCHOR (through translator): At this historical first DPRK and USA summit, which is garnering the attention and hopes of the entire world, comprehensive and in-depth views will be exchanged from issues of common interest.

TODD (voice-over): The summit signals a new era, she says, including the possibilities of peace and a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Analysts say it's not clear this is the first time the North Korean people have been told that their Supreme Leader is meeting with the American president. Either way, it's likely a jolt to them.

DEAN CHENG, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: If this really is the first time that it's been brought up in any North Korean media, it's dropping a huge, huge piece of news with no preamble, no context. It would be like waking up and hearing that, I don't know, the President of the United States is going to be boarding the space station tomorrow morning.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say, for the young dictator, that grand announcement speaks to his motivations for wanting this summit.

He does want security guarantees from the U.S., they say, in exchange for some kind of promise to draw down his nuclear arsenal. He does want economic help to relieve the burden of sanctions. But a key motivation, analysts say, is a status that his father and grandfather never attained.

PATRICIA KIM, STANTON NUCLEAR SECURITY FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The Kim family has always wanted legitimacy in the eyes of the world. And I think going to this summit, sitting down face-to- face with Donald Trump, is a large part of earning this legitimacy.

TODD (voice-over): While he was in boarding school in Switzerland, according to a classmate, Kim was not social, didn't speak to many people, but was intensely competitive. Barely into his 30s as a leader, he quickly displayed his proclivity for violence, executing his own uncle, having his half-brother murdered in public.

Still, U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN, Kim is a rational actor. That despite those violent tendencies, he behaves in a very calculated manner. Those officials and outside analysts say his core motivation was drummed into him by his family from an early age.

CHENG: The strategic overarching objective for the North Korean leadership has always been to preserve the Kim family regime. That above all else.

If you're Kim Jong-un, you are the grandson of the leader that established and has made an entire country your plaything. There is no place, no thing, no person that you cannot reach out and touch in a good or bad way if you are of the Kim family.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Now, Kim Jong-un is signaling some measure of confidence in his hold on power because he brought his sister, Kim Yo-jong, with him to Singapore along with one of his top intelligence men, Kim Yong-chol, believed to have overseen the Sony hack, as well as other members of his inner circle who he took to Singapore.

Still, experts say the security apparatus in Pyongyang will be keeping a close eye on anyone who might try to make a move on Kim while he is out of the country, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, and on the security question, did Kim's sister travel separately to Singapore?

TODD: We believe she did, Wolf. We know that Kim Yo-jong, excuse me -- well, excuse me, Kim Jong-un traveled to Singapore on a Chinese plane. Analysts believe his sister, Kim Yo-jong, flew there on a North Korean plane.

Now, one analyst says the sister's plane could have been used as a decoy in case there was a threat. And that having them fly separately helps to ensure that if one of them goes down, the other survives.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.

Coming up, we are three hours from the summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. They'll start off one on one. President Trump says he'll be able to size up Kim within the first minute, but why has he already decided to leave early?

[17:55:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Singapore summit. President Trump and Kim Jong-un about to make history, meeting face-to-face for a summit with extremely high stakes for the Korean Peninsula, the region, and the world.

On the town. Kim Jong-un strolling the streets of Singapore, enjoying his newfound fame, and even taking a selfie. Has the isolated dictator suddenly become a man of the people?

Verifiable change? As North Korea prepares to discuss denuclearization, CNN is learning details of deep concern over whether Kim Jong-un would keep his word and destroy his arsenal.

[18:00:02] Hellish comments. The Trump team blasts one of America's closest allies with scathing remarks. Why is the administration taking a belligerent tone toward Canada while cozying up to the Kim regime?