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Interview With Senator Rand Paul; Trump and Kim Jong Un Summit Just Hours Away. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 11, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And 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?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un now just three hours away from their historic meeting in Singapore.
But changes to the plan continue. CNN has confirmed that Mr. Trump has moved up his departure from Singapore now by 12 hours.
We will talk about it with Senator Rand Paul of the Foreign Relations Committee. And our specialists and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's in Singapore for us right now.
Kaitlan, the eyes of the world are on this meeting that's about to take place.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. It's a meeting that could make history.
And though it's 6:00 p.m. there back in Washington, it's 6:00 a.m. here in Singapore. And President Trump is up and tweeting right on schedule, as he usually is. This time, it's about North Korea, essentially a teaser of that sit-down with Kim Jong-un.
The president writing -- quote -- "Meetings between staff and representatives are going well and quickly, but, in the end, that doesn't matter." The president says, "We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen."
So, the president there teasing his meeting with Kim Jong-un that happens in just three hours from now, a meeting that the president said he will know within one minute whether or not Kim is serious about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. (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.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think things can work out very nicely.
COLLINS: 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. 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: The 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 have had to date.
COLLINS: Only noting:
POMPEO: We are 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 G7, dispatching his top aides to defend him in the fight over tariffs.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: He really stabbed us in the back.
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: 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.
TRUMP: The relationship that I have had with the people, the leaders of these countries has been -- I would really rate it, on a scale of zero to 10, I would rate it a 10.
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.
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 rift between the U.S. and one of its closest allies.
POMPEO: There are always irritants in relationship. I'm very confident the relationships between our countries, the United States and those G7 countries, will continue to be -- move forward on a strong basis.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the president is up. He is tweeting several times, once about the stock market. Another about the meeting. He is saying that it right now -- I'm actually going to read you this tweet, Wolf, that the president just sent out minutes ago.
Saying on Twitter -- he is not only talking about this meeting with Kim Jong-un, also tweeting the stock market, the unemployment rate, then saying -- quote -- "The fact that I'm having a major is a major loss to the United States, say the haters and losers."
He said: "We have hostages, testing, research and all missile launches have stopped. And these pundits who have called me wrong from the beginning have nothing else they can say. We will be fine."
That -- Wolf, that confidence from the president coming about this sit-down with Kim Jong-un as his own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has failed to say if the North Koreans have offered any concrete commitments about whether or not they are committed to denuclearizing.
That is something we will likely find out in the coming hours -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thank you. Kaitlan is in Singapore for us.
Let's get some more on all the remarkable events unfolding right now. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is also in
Singapore for us.
Jim, is there any reason to believe this summit will not go forward at this late point, what, less than three hours away?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, with three hours to go, that would be a remarkable development.
It looks like, and with the president expressing that kind of confidence he is on Twitter, it looks like the meeting is going to go forward. But the meeting going forward is one thing. The question is, what do the two sides agree to?
These last 24, 48 hours, the work has been on a written statement of some form, to put into words, to put on paper the commitment that both sides are making to each other. And the question is, how far do they go?
You heard from Secretary Pompeo just within the last 24 hours that the U.S. side is still waiting to hear if North Korea in his words is sincere about being willing to denuclearize. That's a remarkable question to raise less than a day before, now three hours before the leaders of those two countries sit down.
It appeared at that point they did not have that commitment. So, we're going to have to look at the wording of that statement to see how far they are willing to go.
And, of course, whatever words are down on paper, the real test is going to be following through on those commitments going forward. But it was also interesting, I have to say, Wolf, as I heard Kaitlan read off that last tweet from the president. He is referencing things that have already happened, certainly important things, the release of the hostages, the fact that they are sitting down.
Is he adjusting expectations to some degree to focus on the positive things that have happened already, in light of questions about what they're going to substantively agree to in this statement? We don't know. But let's see as they sit down and let's see what is in that final statement.
BLITZER: Let me read that tweet that the president just posted.
"The fact that I'm having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters and losers. We have our hostages, testing, research and all missile launches have stopped. And these pundits who called me wrong from the beginning have nothing else they can say. We will be fine."
The president also finding some time to report on Twitter just a few moments ago as well: "The stock market is up almost 40 percent since the election, with $7 trillion of U.S. value built throughout the economy."
So, he is up in the morning. It's already Tuesday morning there. He is tweeting extensively already.
How significant, though, is it, Jim, that the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is now saying he wants denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula?
SCIUTTO: It's enormously significant, Wolf, because what does that mean? That would mean not only that North Korea gave up its nukes, but that the U.S. commit to no nukes on the Korean Peninsula.
Of course, our closest ally, one of our closest allies in the world, South Korea, part of their security is based on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and not just whether there are U.S. nukes deployed on the peninsula, but you have U.S. nukes on submarines in the seas around the Korean Peninsula.
You have nukes that can be deployed on U.S. military aircraft based in Japan, in Guam. Is that a concession that the U.S. side is willing to make? That would be quite a concession, because it would not only affect North Korea's sense of security, but South Korea's sense of security as well.
And then, of course, the other question is, what happens to those 28- some-odd-thousand U.S. forces that are on the Korean Peninsula? Is -- the president himself has raised the possibility of withdrawing those forces. That would be remarkable as well.
And, keep in mind, those forces are not just about North Korea. Those forces are a show of power, a show force for China as well. It's about a U.S. military footprint in the region. So, these are things to watch. How much does the U.S. give?
And, remember, yes, North Korea has suspended tests, et cetera, but it has not made any hard, lasting commitments yet. That will be the real test.
BLITZER: We will watch it together with you, Jim Sciutto, in Singapore for us. Thank you.
Let's get some more on the breaking news.
Joining us now, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He is a key member of the Foreign Relations and Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committees.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me get to North Korea. What do you want President Trump to get out of this first historic meeting with the North Korean leader?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I don't think we should over -- have expectations that are too high.
I think dialogue alone is a success. We have never had dialogue from the head of our country to the head of their country. So, this is a big step forward just having dialogue.
What we get out of it, I think denuclearization is obviously what we want. They have suspended testing. That's good. We have gotten some hostages back. That's good. So, I think these are all good small steps forward.
I think there's a possibility we could get the symbolic ending of the war from the 1950s between the North and South. I think that is symbolic, but also would show a thawing in tensions.
But I think ultimately what people want is that they would give up their nuclear ambition. That's a big ask. In order to get that, we will have to have some very verifiable and would have to be over a period of time with inspections. So, I'm not sure we get that immediately. But I think the conversation is much better than having no conversation.
BLITZER: If the North Koreans do what the U.S. wants, Secretary Pompeo is promising what he called unique security assurances for the North Koreans.
What concessions would you be comfortable with in terms of American military power in the region, for example, reducing the U.S. troop level, removing nuclear-capable submarines and bombers from the Korean Peninsula?
Would you be comfortable with all of that?
PAUL: I think everything should be on the table, including removing our troops.
But I would say that that would have to do with verifiable denuclearization and that, really, since it takes time to do some of these things and it takes time to believe that the -- your adversary will actually do them, that I think it should be a gradual lessening of tension, a gradual lessening of sanctions, a gradual lowering of troops.
I think you could even have an international force. You could have Chinese troops as part of an international force that would be a stabilizing and reassuring presence.
But the bottom line is, you can't give everything up front. And so I think a good deal gives things gradually. And I wouldn't give any taxpayer money. I think the offer of economic assistance would be through trade and not through actually direct assistance, but through opening our trade to them.
BLITZER: Yes, the president has said repeatedly over the past few days he wants South Korea, Japan, China to invest in North Korea. He says the United States is not going to spend any money over there.
Can American allies, Senator, South Korea and Japan, for example, trust that President Trump will represent their interests in this meeting? As you know, they're very nervous right now. PAUL: I think, ultimately, any agreement has to be between North
Korea and South Korea. I mean, we're part of the process, because we were part of the war going back 60-some-odd years now.
But, ultimately, South Korea has to directly negotiate with North Korea. And I think what you have seen is South Korea is actually very open to negotiations. And, in fact, in some ways, South Korea has been pushing it forward by having meetings there in Korea.
So, no, I'm not of the belief that the U.S. will trample on South Korea's rights. I think, ultimate, only -- any real peace comes from an agreement between North Korea and South Korea.
BLITZER: The president hasn't made any military threats going into the summit, as you know. But Senator Lindsey Graham, your colleague, he wants an authorization for the use of military force in case the talks fail.
Do you think President Trump has taken the military option off the table? And would you vote for such an authorization for the use of military force?
PAUL: Absolutely not.
Lindsey Graham is a danger to the country by even proposing ideas like authorizing war with Korea. My goodness. So, that should be something that is seen as naive and seen as something that really serious people shouldn't even really be discussing.
BLITZER: You are calling a fellow Republican senator a danger to the country? I want you to elaborate.
PAUL: Well, if you have watched over time, I think what you have seen from Lindsey Graham is basically a naive world view, where he believes that war is always the answer. And that also means that expenditures for war are always the answer.
And so I think that's bankrupting us as a country. But it's also gotten us involved in dozens and dozens of war, where it's not really clear what the American interest is in those wars. And I think sometimes the reaction to our involvement in those wars has actually been worse than had we not been involved at all.
BLITZER: At the same time, President Trump is expressing optimism about his personal relationship that's going to unfold with Kim Jong- un.
And he is calling the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau -- quote -- "very dishonest and weak."
You heard his advisers, Peter Navarro, for example, say there's a special place in hell for Trudeau, and Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser, saying Trudeau stabbed the president in the back.
Do you believe those types of personal attacks advance U.S. interests?
PAUL: Not really.
And what I would say about trade with Canada is, let's stick to the facts. We have a very mutually beneficial trade with Canada. Are there some places in that trade where Canada is doing things unfair? Yes. On dairy and lumber, Canada is doing something.
So, let's isolate it on the problem, which are at least two different segments of our economy, where we want to sell things to them and they are closing the door and protecting their economy from our goods. Let's work on those. And let's have some tough negotiation.
But let's don't discount that, on 80 percent, 90 percent of the different industries, we have pretty free and open trade. And it's of great benefit to the United States to trade with Canada.
So, I guess I would approach it a little bit differently. But I'm not completely discounting that the president and his team have a point, particularly on dairy and lumber, that there is some Canadian protectionism.
BLITZER: As you know, according to the Office of the U.S. Special Trade Representative, the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada when you add in goods and services, a trade surplus of, what, $17.5 billion.
So, I'm not exactly sure why the president is so angry at Canada. Are you?
PAUL: Well, like I say, overall trade is good with Canada. You are right. I think it's mutually beneficial to both countries. There are a few isolated areas it could be better, dairy, lumber and a few other things.
We need to see, is there anything they are complaining about on their end that we are protecting? And maybe there could be a negotiation where we could make trade better. But I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. I wouldn't say we're going to threaten all trade or try to ratchet up tariffs with Canada, because, by and large, Canada is a great neighbor to have.
And we have done very well. Both countries have done very well having open borders for trade.
BLITZER: Let me put those numbers back on the screen, because I misspoke as far as the trade surplus with Canada. When you add services and goods, it's an $8.4 billion surplus that the United States has with Canada, our neighbor to the north.
Senator Paul, thanks so much for joining us.
PAUL: Thank you.
BLITZER: The breaking news continues next, as we count down to the unprecedented meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. We are learning new details.
Plus: the growing concerns about Kim's nuclear arsenal. How can the U.S. be sure he will dismantle?
BLITZER: We're following breaking news.
President Trump set to meet soon with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in Singapore, where they will talk one on one with only translators in the room.
CNN's Will Ripley has been to North Korea 18 times. He is in Singapore covering the summit for us.
Will, you spent a lot of time inside North Korea. So, what does Kim want from this initial meeting with the president?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing he wants, he already has, arguably, which is legitimacy, because he will be sitting face to face across from the president of the United States, something that his father and his grandfather wanted and were never able to achieve.
He is already hobnobbing with world leaders. He is being referred to in some quarters as a statesman. And keep in mind this is someone that has been called a cruel, brutal and oppressive dictator, a recluse for much of his six years in power.
And yet, in the span of just a few short months, we have seen a completely different image of Kim Jong-un. And I would argue that this is all carefully crafted on the part of the North Koreans, beginning with their missile testing freeze back in November and then, of course, the opening up of communications with South Korea earlier this year, the Olympics, and now this moment, this historic moment.
But the big question, is he going to get what he wants when he's in the same room with President Trump? Because he wants security guarantees. He would love to keep his nuclear arsenal. But the United States is saying that absolutely won't happen. So, perhaps he would like to keep it as long as possible and stretch out the denuclearization process as long as possible.
We will just have to see what happens here in the coming hours, Wolf.
BLITZER: We are showing our viewers some video. Kim Jong-un now on the world stage taking selfies there in Singapore, walking about.
How significant is this after so many years of being such a reclusive leader?
RIPLEY: Yes. I mean, he was even touring the Marina Bay Sands behind me and a bridge just down the block from where we are.
What has struck me watching Kim Jong-un in action here in Singapore and before that at the inter-Korean summit, he is almost using the same playbook that he uses inside North Korea and that he has for many years to sort of build up his image. Going out on the town, touring different sites, smiling. You saw him take a selfie.
He is not taking selfies in North Korea, but he's interacting with the people on the ground there. And you're seeing him interacting here on the ground with other officials. And every move is being documented by North Korean state media.
I was at his hotel, the St. Regis, a couple of days ago, right after he checked in. And not only were there dozens of North Korean security officers everywhere around the hotel, but there were also just as many North Korean photographers, still, video, because North Korea is capturing this.
And they are going to tell their people that their leader has arrived, that he has had a successful summit. And no matter really what happens, when he walks out of this meeting, inside North Korea, it's going to be portrayed as a win for Kim Jong-un.
But, again, we just don't know what's going to happen when he is sitting in the same room face to face with only President Trump and a couple of translators. He has been preparing for this, probably preparing for this for the entire Trump presidency, studying President Trump, trying to get inside his head.
And you have seen the North Korean messaging, including that very flattering message after President Trump canceled the summit. Then, of course, President Trump responded. And the summit is back on and happening in just a couple of hours.
So, we know that Kim Jong-un is walking into this very well-prepared by a team of experts. President Trump says he has been preparing for this his whole life. He is really going to have his deal-maker reputation put to the test when those two are in the same room.
BLITZER: Yes, he certainly will.
All right, Will, thank you, Will Ripley in Singapore.
Let's get some more on the breaking news.
Joining us, our specialists and our analysts.
And, Gloria, this is obviously a historic moment. But we have already learned that the president is stepping up his schedule to leave Singapore based on what he is hearing from the North Korean side.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. The president is not one to be left at the altar.
And it appears that Kim is going to leave earlier than originally planned. And so I don't think the president wanted to be left behind. I think it's as simple as that. Also, it could be a tactical decision, which is, if these talks go
well and they both decide that they want to extend, then the image is, wait a minute, things are going well and we're both going to stay a little longer. So, that could be a part of it as well.
But I think initially now, the president doesn't want to be left behind.
BLITZER: Samantha Vinograd, the first session will just be the two leaders, the North Korean leader, the president of the United States, one on one with only interpreters there. What are the potential pitfalls for such an encounter?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Wolf, I think this is a self-inflicted mine field.
The choreography for these summits is king. I remember stopping President Obama at the G8 summit the last time he met with President Putin. And we purposely had him do what we call a two-plus-two meeting, having his national security adviser there, just because we wanted an extra set of eyes and ears in the room.
And President Trump, instead, is going into this meeting by himself already at a significant handicap. Keep in mind that Kim Jong-un has great intelligence on President Trump. He just has to look at his Twitter feed, including the tweet that the president just issued.
And we have very limited intelligence on Kim Jong-un. So, Trump is going in at a disadvantage by himself.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, the president says he has been preparing to deal with North Korea his whole life. I want you to listen to what he told me 19 years ago. This is an interview here on CNN back in 1999. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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?
You go in, you start negotiating. And if you don't stop them from doing it, will have to take rather drastic actions, because if you don't talk them now, you are going to be in awfully big trouble in five years from now, when they have more missiles than we do. We're a bunch of saps.
BLITZER: What if the North Koreans 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 have been ripping up off for years, so why would they come here? It's ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: David, that was almost two decades ago.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLITZER: What do you make of that?
SWERDLICK: So, President Trump or then Donald Trump had an initial point that he was right on, that the longer you let international issues fester, the longer you let proliferation issues, nuclear proliferation issues go on and on, the harder they get to deal with down the road.
But the problem is, in his own words, he is saying there when you get to a point like we're at now, you have a choice of either negotiating or dealing with them, it almost sounded like he was saying, toughly, militarily.
But if these negotiations don't work -- and most negotiators don't think we're going to get denuclearization out of these talks -- does that mean he is going to follow his own advice from 1999 and take military action?
What was different then that's not the same now, that you have a war- weary public that's been through 15, 20 years of war in the Middle East. It's not going to play out the same way.
BLITZER: He has been very consistent, Rebecca. What he said in 1999, he could have said last week.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
Well, Donald Trump has cultivated his image as a negotiator over many, many years throughout his business career. And so the focus for him has always been getting down in a negotiating situation with someone, sitting at that table and working it out.
But what's remarkable is that the situation with North Korea hasn't really changed over the course of those decades. And we're still in a situation where we need to have those negotiations. And it's more urgent and pressing than ever.
BORGER: But I just think it shows you that Donald Trump really hasn't changed in 20 years.
BORGER: What he believed then, he believes now. And he is not going to change his mind.
So, when he says he has been preparing for this his entire life, I mean, it may be partially true, even though he didn't expect to be president of the United States at that particular point, which may be why he says he doesn't -- he didn't need to prep.
And what certainly hasn't changed is his own self-regard, Trump's regard for himself as this incredible negotiator, this very adept businessman. He's thought of himself that way for many, many years. And certainly, his ego is no smaller today than it was two decades ago.
[18:30:20] SWERDLICK: Right. There's no situation in which he wouldn't say he was perfectly prepared all his life, no matter what.
BLITZER: Samantha, his self-confidence clearly has not changed either.
VINOGRAD: Exactly. But that's exactly what I think that Kim is going to play off of, Wolf. I think that President Trump is an open book when it comes to what we call an intelligence psy-ops or psychological operation. It's a tool. And if you're Kim Jong-un's team and you're prepping him for this one on one, you're going to tell him to flatter the president, to use a lot of superlatives to talk about how this is the biggest moment and a historic moment, to talk about internal dissent in the United States. It's clear that the president is deeply focused on that. And he and Kim share this paranoia about deep states in both of their countries.
So I think this all plays into the fact that Kim has the upper hand in this meeting, because the president is such an open book. And it makes him very easily manipulated.
BORGER: And how are we really going to know what occurred in this meeting? Back to your earlier point, which Sam was talking about. I mean, these two men, neither one is known for their veracity. Let me put it that way.
So you have Donald Trump and you have Kim Jong-un coming out of this meeting. They may very well be telling different stories. We then know that Pompeo will be meeting and has been meeting. So are we going to have to wait to hear from the secretary of state? But he wasn't there. So for history's sake, we really have no record of this historic meeting.
BLITZER: Very important point. One thing that has dramatically changed over these 19 years, my glasses, if you play close attention.
BORGER: A little bit.
BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. Sharp new Republican reaction to attacks on Canada by the president and his top aides, including one who said, quote, "There's a special place in hell" for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
[18:36:50] BLITZER: There's more breaking news as we await the start of the historic Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Tonight, the president is facing fresh criticism from fellow Republicans for the turmoil he unleashed at this weekend's G-7 summit in Canada. Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju has details.
Manu, you just spoke with Republican Senator Susan Collins.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Republican after Republican, Wolf, are raising some serious concerns about what they heard from the president this weekend and from the president's top trade adviser, who said there would be, quote, "a special place in hell" for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A number of Republicans told me that's going to only undercut the White House going forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: That is completely unhelpful. We do have some legitimate trade concerns with Canada. And it makes it more difficult, not less difficult for us to resolve those concerns if we have this war of words between the two countries.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: That's awful. That's an awful way to treat your allies. I saw the press conference. I saw what Prime Minister Trudeau said. I didn't think that it rose to the level for that kind of vitriol. I mean, I don't think I've ever seen a statement like that against any of our worst enemies, let alone our allies.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I don't think anyone should be using overheated rhetoric.
RAJU: Would it be good to add Russia back to the G-7?
CRUZ: No, I don't think that would be a good idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And of course, that last reference to the president saying that he'd be open to seeing Russia be added back into the G-7. That doesn't have much support on Capitol Hill.
But Wolf, a lot of Republicans are also not publicly speaking out. And one reason why they're not publicly raising concerns about all all this, is what Jeff Flake told me earlier. He said that they are reluctant. It's an election year. You don't want to split with the president in an election year. And he in his view, he said, some things are too important to keep quiet about -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu. Thank you. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. David Swerdlick --
BLITZER: Sort of rare, though, to hear Republicans who are still up for re-election down the road, who haven't dropped out yet, criticizing the president.
SWERDLICK: Well, they see trouble down the road in terms of trade negotiations. And they also see what's clear to most people, that this is highly disrespectful to a country that's our next-door neighbor, our military ally, a country that fought alongside us in Afghanistan, thousands of Canadian soldiers.
Think about the way President Trump handled this whole weekend. He went to the summit, the G-7 summit, like a kid who goes to high school class, late, takes over the discussion, answers the questions wrong and then asks the teacher if he can leave early, all the while offending everybody in the process, even though all Canada is doing is something that Trump says he does, which is sticking up for America. Justin Trudeau said Canada won't be pushed around. He took offense. Here we are.
BLITZER: And this public criticism from Republicans, Gloria, relatively muted. But what you hear privately from these Republicans is blistering.
BORGER: Well, it would be interesting to hear it publicly, to be honest. I mean, especially after the president -- forget the language that Peter Navarro used, forget the president's tweets. After the president suggested Russia become a member of the G-7, making it the G-8.
[18:40:07] Where are all the Republicans, aside from people like Jeff Flake and John McCain and others, who are -- who are up for re- election? Where are they saying, you know, "This is not where the Republican Party has been. We understand what happened in Crimea. That wasn't just some little thing"?
And it's astonishing to me that we haven't heard more Republicans objecting to Peter Navarro's language, for example, or the president's language.
I mean, what I think the president has right now on his staff are enablers. This is what he has wanted. This is the new Donald Trump. He has enablers. He doesn't have people who are pulling him back and saying, "You know, Mr. President, not a great idea." Instead, they go out and take what he said and they notch it up, which makes for a very difficult situation with our allies.
BLITZER: Yes. Samantha, a senior White House official described what was described as -- called a new Trump doctrine in some rather colorful language in a conversation with "The Atlantic's" Jeffrey Goldberg.
VINOGRAD: Exactly. "The Atlantic" is reporting that a senior White House aide described the Trump Doctrine as "We're America, bitch." And unfortunately, I think the crassness of this final word does speak to the approach that the president often takes with allies and with enemies. It's condescending. It's confrontational, and it's unnecessary.
I have to tell you, though, Wolf, I really bristle at the use of the world "doctrine" when we come to describing President Trump's pattern of behavior. A doctrine should be what the administration is for. Often we see the president talking about everything that he's against. The Iran deal, fighting climate change, free trade.
What we see is a pattern of behavior that is defined by being transactional, marriages of convenience, and double standards. And we're seeing that right now with North Korea. The president has decided to ignore what China is doing in other areas to get them on side with North Korea. And he has a double standard when it comes to meeting with Kim Jong-un, who has done none of the things that Secretary Pompeo has said Iran needs to do to come to the negotiating table. So this is not a doctrine.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Rebecca, what's your reaction?
BERG: I mean, it's still stunning, Wolf, to hear that kind of language, as we quoted from the senior White House official, coming out of the White House. This is one of the most powerful countries in the world. The president is one of the most powerful people in the world. And for him to think that he can just go it alone, offend our allies and not need anyone's help accomplishing America's goals, it's pretty astounding.
BLITZER: It certainly is.
All right. We're standing by for the historic events about to unfold in Singapore. The Trump-Kim summit getting underway very soon. We're also learning details of the growing concerns about how to verify the fate of Kim Jong-un's nuclear arsenal.
[18:47:29] BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, all eyes on Singapore where President Trump and Kim Jong-un will soon sit down for a one-on- one meeting as the United States urges North Korea to give up its nuclear program. But even if Kim does agree to denuclearize, how can the U.S. verify it?
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working this part of the story for us.
Barbara, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants complete, verifiable denuclearization. How hard is that?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is going to be very tough. The hard work now begins if they get an agreement at all in Singapore. They also want it to be irreversible.
How hard is this? You know, a couple of weeks ago, you remember the video, the North Koreans showed blowing up underground tunnels used -- that they used to test nuclear bombs, nuclear devices. They moved around a lot of dirt, a lot of dust. U.S. officials have concluded they can't verify that the North Koreans really blew up anything other than the entrances to these tunnels. So, this is the best example right now of how hard it is to verify what they might decide to do.
So, how would it all work? The North Koreans have to make a declaration of everything they have, a vast complex of missiles, warheads, test sites, research facilities and uranium and plutonium facilities, much of it is secret, much of it is buried underground. The CIA believes it knows where an awful lot of it is. But they may not know everything.
So, they make a declaration from Pyongyang. You have to believe that they are telling the truth. How do you believe that? You have to get international inspectors on the ground inside North Korea to look at everything, to verify it. Those nuclear warheads we are told may not be stable enough to be moved to be dismantled. That's just one problem, irreversible.
You have to remember, Wolf, North Korea will still have its scientists and engineers inside that country capable of restarting a program down the road if they choose to -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Secretary Mattis reiterated today that troop levels -- U.S. troop levels in South Korea are not part of these talks. How significant is that?
STARR: Well, look, Kim Jong-un wants security guarantees, so he wants potentially to see a formal end to the war, to the Korean War. If they sign that agreement, why are U.S. troops still there? What Secretary Mattis said today is, his position is that the U.S. troops, 28,000 of them, are not a bargaining chip, at least not right now.
[18:50:03] That they will stay put.
If there is a negotiation to get the U.S. troops out of there, that will be between the U.S. and South Korea. Kim will not get a vote on that, but, look, Kim wants security guarantees in order to come to the table on the nuclear deal, and he wants -- make no mistake -- those 28,000 U.S. troops gone -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thank you. Barbara is at the Pentagon.
There's breaking news next. Take a closer look ahead to the Trump/Kim photo-op coming up tonight. CNN's Chris Cuomo is standing by.
We'll be right back.
[18:55:17] BLITZER: The breaking news continues tonight with a summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Just a little over two hours away.
CNN's Chris Cuomo will be covering the historic events for us on his show later tonight. We're all counting down to 9:00 p.m. Eastern, where the moment we'll see the president shake hands with Kim Jong-un. We will all be watching your program.
Take us down the road a little bit. What do you anticipate would be a definition of success for these talks?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": That's a tough question. And, in fact, we're going to be asking it on the show tonight because really it is a matter of perspective. I think you could start, Wolf, from the historical perspective of just saying, this is already success on one line. It took 50 years for the leaders of North and South Korea to meet, I think it was in 2000, right, 50 years after that war ended over the Korean peninsula. So things take a long time there.
And in such rapid succession, you've had North and South Korea say they want to end the war, and everybody should remember, this is an armistice, there's no true peace there right now. And now, here we are with this summit. Couple of hiccups, but tonight, we'll see these two men shake hands.
And then it all begins. You know, that's the one anticipatory frustration of today, is that we're waiting for something as if something's going to happen, but we're really just waiting for the beginning. They're going to say hello to each other. They're going to go back inside.
Then we believe that we will have some live coverage of their setting within the actual summit meeting room. We're not sure what that will mean, but we'll take it live. We'll see what it is, and that's it. Then they go away, and we figure out what they can make.
We've seen the big boxes, Wolf. Will there be peace on the peninsula? What kind of guarantees must there be? What does this mean about denuclearization?
But I think we have to be conservative in our prospects and our predictions. I think that nothing will be decided at this summit. This will be about promises of what happens next.
BLITZER: We will find out soon enough.
Just moments ago, as you know, the president tweeted this -- let me put it up on the screen -- the fact that I'm having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters and losers. We have our hostages, testing, research, all missile launches have stopped. And those pundits who have called me wrong from the beginning have nothing else they can say. We will be fine, end quote.
What do you make of that?
CUOMO: I make that I can't believe he's tweeting from Singapore. I thought that it would be Dan Scavino or somebody who's just putting out a pat message, but that's obviously the president. And he's distracted as a time he needs to be focused. So I make nothing of it. This is his modus operandi. It's very
ironic that people who support the president or criticizing the prime minister of Canada from employing tactics that sound a heck of a lot like the ones that are used by the United States president himself.
So I have a surprise for you tonight. Who is the one man who can claim to be good friends with Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump?
BLITZER: We all know the answer, and you have him as a special guest tonight. Tell us about that.
CUOMO: When I first interviewed Dennis Rodman back in 2014, I thought that there was no way that he would ever be right about North Korea opening up anytime soon and that Kim Jong-un wanted that. Kenneth Bae was still there. Rodman was on the wrong side of that issue about Bae had done or not done.
And then sure enough, here we are, a few years later, and Dennis Rodman is saying, I told you so. So, because -- this is a bizarro world, Wolf. But really, I don't know that I have a better guest to bring to the audience tonight than Dennis Rodman, if I want someone who can talk about Kim Jong-un and what his predisposition is to the summit and how he'll be and what he'll respond well to or not.
He's our best guest.
BLITZER: As far as we know, he's the only American citizen, other than Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, who've actually sat down and met with the North Korean leader. We will be watching your program later tonight. History will be unfolding.
"CUOMO PRIME TIME" begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
Finally tonight, our warmest congratulations to CNN's Brianna Keilar. You've seen her here in THE SITUATION ROOM, filling in for me, as well as doing excellent reporter as CNN's senior Washington correspondent.
But good news, tonight, she has breaking news of her own. Brianna gave birth to her son Antonio Lujan on Friday, with the baby weighing five pounds, three ounces.
Brianna's husband, Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Lujan, he was in Japan when she went into labor, but scrambled home and made it back just in time for the birth. Brianna's stepson Teddy is excited to be a big brother.
We wish, of course, the entire family all the best. What a great picture, beautiful family. Congratulations.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.