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Trump and Kim Vow to Denuclearize North Korea; Trump Says U.S. to Stop War Games with South Korea; Mitch McConnell Reacts to Trump- Kim Summit; Kim Jong-un Leaves Singapore After Summit. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un has just wrapped up.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the two leaders did make history, just meeting face to face. They also signed a declaration in which Kim commits to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Pretty much all the document says about that. There is zero mention of a huge concession from the president, a call to U.S. military exercises with South Korea, something he mentioned in the hour long post-summit news conference. President Trump called those exercises war games, his words, costly provocation and declared this a very great day for the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no limit to what North Korea can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons. This is complete denuclearization of North Korea, and it will be verified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All this brings me to CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, certainly a remarkable day and we're seeing Kim Jong-un, now just his motorcade -- just about to leave for the airport, President Trump obviously has already left. Question, of course, what if anything is going to come out of this long term?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's the question here. Is this just something symbolic or did we get concrete commitments in this agreement that President Trump and Kim Jong-un both signed. They signed this agreement in front of the cameras, after they had met one-on-one and then also with their advisers.
This is a statement that the president touted as this big comprehensive statement, said they had made significant amount of progress and then we actually looked through the statement and it's actually not that comprehensive and there is not any new language in it about what exactly the president and Kim Jong-un were putting their names on paper for and what it was going to signify in the future.
And then the president held that lengthy press conference where he took reporters' questions for over an hour, going through what his day with Kim Jong-un was like, what it was like to meet him, also what they discussed.
Now the president during that press conference offered up praise for the North Korean dictator, someone who has executed members of his own family, has starved his own people in favor of building up a nuclear arsenal, he called him a talented guy, and a reporter asked him what he meant by that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I also will be inviting Chairman Kim at the appropriate time to the White House. I would -- I think it's really going to be something that will be very important, and he has accepted. I said at the appropriate time. We want to go a little bit further down the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So the president, Anderson, there turning that question about his human rights abuses into flattery for the North Korean dictator, saying he's going to invite him not only to the United States, but to the White House. So that's a separate matter. But then back to the statement of what the overarching outcome of this summit is going to be, it's still largely up for debate.
What is remarkable about this statement that the president signed today is not what's in it, it's what is not in it. The president said this means there is going to be denuclearization of the North Korean -- of the Korean peninsula, but he doesn't really say how we're going to get there.
There is no mention in this statement that the president signed of those intercontinental ballistic missiles. There is nothing about he's going to verify that North Korea has denuclearized and nothing about them going in there, nothing about these inspector sites and no timetable here, Anderson. So it seemed like a lot of photo opportunities for the president today, but we don't know what the real results of this are going to be.
COOPER: Yes, and certainly seems a lot is left up to Secretary of State Pompeo and future negotiations.
Kaitlan Collins, appreciate that. Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. So the president is also pledging to end what he calls those war games along the Korean peninsula. Just listen to the president this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Those so-called war games are U.S. military drills with South Korean forces. Pyongyang has long considered them a dress rehearsal for war. China is not a fan of them either.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins me now.
And Barbara, this is a huge concession from the United States, something that North Korea really wanted, something that China likes to see. So what is the Pentagon saying about it this morning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, from the Pentagon point of view, anything that reduces tensions with North Korea is a good thing. I think everyone agrees on that. But as for these training exercises that the president calls provocations and war games, let's remember where they came from. These have been developed over decades to help train to defend South Korea in the face of a North Korean nuclear threat. These are defensive exercises.
[10:05:02] You know, the president talked about bombing empty mountains, that's because it's training. They're not bombing active targets. This is something that is being very carefully watched by China, the next major training exercise is already set just weeks from now in August, with several allies in the region, up to 17,000 troops participating in that.
The Pentagon right now trying to figure out the way ahead. Are all exercises called off right now? Is it forever? Is it while the negotiations are going on? Is it small exercises, large exercises? How does it impact the allies? And if you are going to call off all training, what happens to the 28,000 or so U.S. troops in South Korea, what happens to troops that go into South Korea for this training? Are they just going to stop all of it -- Poppy.
HARLOW: And Barbara, I know that you clarified for us last hour that, you know, it's really unclear if South Korea even knew that this was going to happen. But I also want to ask you about what the president repeated a lot this morning in the press conference, and he talked about the fact that Chairman Kim had agreed to destroy what the president calls a major missile engine testing site. And he says that agreement to destroy that missile testing site is not in the framework, on paper, but that it's a big deal. Is it? Is it a win for the U.S.?
STARR: Well, we will have to see, I think, because, you know, the U.S. position is irreversible denuclearization, irreversible. That is a pretty tough standard to meet. You can take apart a missile test stand, for example, rip up the concrete pad, take out all the instrumentation, destroy what equipment is left behind. But you still have your engineers and --
HARLOW: Sorry to interrupt. Sorry to interrupt. We're going to listen to Mitch McConnell, Senator Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor about North Korea. The Senate majority leader. Let's listen.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Resolving the 65-year-old international challenge will take a great deal of hard work. As President Trump explained a few hours ago, today is the beginning of the arduous process. Our eyes are wide open. I support the goals contained in the joint statement and I remain supportive of the administration's stated position. As Secretary Pompeo has reiterated, the goal of the United States is the, quote, "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
If North Korea does not prove willing to follow through, we and our allies must be prepared to restore the policy of maximum pressure.
Today I congratulate the president on this major step and share his hope that it will begin a process that leads to an historic peace.
Now, Madam President, on a related matter, history clearly shows us that skillful diplomacy, global peace, and a strong American military are in no way opposed to one another. Quite the opposite. These components of American strength are complementary.
As President Reagan explained, quote, "Peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it, and guard it, and pass it on to future generations."
And yesterday afternoon the Senate took a step toward doing just that by turning to the John S. McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation builds on the landmark bipartisan budget agreement Congress and the president reached --
HARLOW: All right. There you have Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor this morning, congratulating the president on what he calls a major step, congratulating him on the diplomacy and reiterating I think what everyone hopes, Anderson, and that is that this leads to a lasting peace between the two nations -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I want to break this down now with former U.N. ambassador and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, also CNN global affairs analyst, Ambassador Joseph Yun.
Governor Richardson, just your quick take on what actually came out of this summit today.
BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, reduction of tensions in the Korean peninsula, that's very positive. Road to normalization of the relationship, two leaders building trust, that's good. But it is a start of a negotiation. But I didn't see much meat on the bones or hardly any on the issue of missile technology, missile negotiations, nuclear negotiations. I didn't see anything on the peace treaty. I think it was lacking in the human rights area.
I was pleased with the discussion of the importance of retrieving some of our remains from North Korea. There is about 5,000. A lot of families are trying to get them back. I brought back seven in 2007 under the Bush administration.
[10:10:01] So positive on the tone and diplomacy, but lacking and mixed on the substance. And, you know, the North Koreans, I've negotiated with them, they always want you to go first. And we did go first by reducing or suspending the military exercises, then they say they're going to do something, sometimes they do it, other times they don't do it, they never say yes or no. So their negotiating strategy on this initial discussion worked.
COOPER: Ambassador Yun, you and I have been talking about this. I mean, to Governor Richardson's point, a lot of the language that came out of today is actually less specific than language we've seen in other deals that have been negotiated in the past.
JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I completely agree with that assessment. You know, it was an amazing day today. We had two halves, I would say. We had all the pageantry of summit and two arch enemies getting together, and a warm feeling almost developing the two. So, I mean, you and I were looking forward to so what did they actually accomplish and we looked forward to seeing the declaration.
But as the governor says, there was no meat in it, you know? And all the language was repetition of previous language. So, of course, we have to judge the outcome, there is still time. Let's hope the meetings that the president says will start next week will provide something. But I must say, I was a little surprised at the kind of ending of joint exercise.
COOPER: That caught you by surprise.
YUN: It really did. I mean, it's something, you know, as Governor Richardson knows well that they've always asked for. But what is the point of having troops if they're not ready? They don't exercise. That begs the question, you know, what did he mean? Did he mean all exercise, some exercise? So again that needs to be flushed out.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Governor Richardson, that the president kind of looks at those exercises as being costly as it being an expense, and kind of a question of saving money, even talked about the possibility of ultimately removing troops from South Korea. Obviously that's a -- I'm not sure how much of that the South Koreans were aware of in advance, but that would be certainly an enormous step.
RICHARDSON: Right. And I'm concerned on two fronts. One, we obviously didn't consult the South Koreans on this because of their statement that they issued saying they wanted clarification. That always means in the diplomatic lingo, you never talk to us. And secondly, you know, this is a significant concession. Because what you're doing is this is not something that we have as a giveaway to the South Koreans.
This is U.S. national security. This is to contain China. This is to send messages that we're engaged in Asia. This is to protect our treaty relationship with Japan and South Korea. So this enhances America national security, it's not like a cost issue as you mentioned. The president is always wanting to reduce troops in Germany, he wants to reduce troops in South Korea, all around the world, but, you know, reducing troops is something that is not in the national security interests of the United States. We're protecting our flanks from China, from Russia, from other
countries that generally have geopolitical interests, opposite of ours.
COOPER: Yes. Ambassador Yun, it's also pretty stunning to hear the president in his press conference afterward really praising the dictator of North Korea, talking about how few people could have done what he did coming into power at 26, and that, you know, that he did it in a tough way. I mean, he executed members of his family, there are tens of thousands of people in gulag like prisons, the U.N. has put out a report years ago saying that there is the atrocities that take place in North Korea have no equal anywhere else in any other country in the world.
YUN: Yes. I mean, you know, as a diplomat, we got to talk to everyone.
YUN: So I can understand not wanting to criticize publicly.
YUN: But it seemed a little farfetched to go beyond that and to praise him, you know. And that's something I think certainly as an American diplomat you want to avoid. You know, you don't want to criticize your negotiating with him, but to praise him, I think that's a little too far.
COOPER: Yes. Ambassador Yun, appreciate it. Governor Richardson, as well. Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. So still to come, President Trump says he trusts Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-un trusts him. Could this all, this gamble, though, back fire?
[10:15:00] Also, it's a lasting image from the G7 summit, the German chancellor seemingly facing off with President Trump, but the president explained this picture in detail this morning. What he says was really going on next.
COOPER: Kim Jong- is heading to the airport any minute here in Singapore. Paula Hancocks is at the airport, joining us now.
Paula, what does the -- what do the North Korean people at this point know about the summit? Because unlike past events that Kim Jong-un has gone to, North Korean media has been following this almost in real time, talking about an event while Kim Jong-un is still at the event, which is very rare.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That' right, Anderson. They knew ahead of time that he was coming to the summit, which shows there was a certain amount of confidence that this was going to go well. Also the North Korean people, though, so far have seen is his walkabout last night around Singapore.
[10:20:04] The fact that he was walking around, he was being greeted by Singaporeans, by tourists shouting out "welcome, Kim." So they saw that part where he was looking fairly presidential, being shown around the town by the Singaporean Foreign minister.
They haven't seen the summit as yet. So they haven't seen how it has gone. It would be very interesting to see exactly how they play it, whether they see this as a success for Kim Jong-un, clearly that's the way that they will tell their people that it was, but it's also the way that many people around the world see this, as a success for the North Korean leader.
It's not unusual, though, for it to take a little time. It's usually about 24 hours or so for this to reach the living rooms of those in North Korea. But clearly the camera men from North Korea have been following every single move of the North Korean leader. So we should expect to see that soon -- Anderson.
COOPER: Paula, as someone who's based in this region and who has been following this obviously for so long, I'm just wondering what you make of what we witnessed today, the declaration that was signed by both leaders and also the praise that President Trump had for the dictator of North Korea.
HANCOCKS: Well, I think the process was really quite remarkable. I mean, I think, Anderson, we all knew that this was going to be about two big personalities. This potentially was going to pivot on whether or not the leader of North Korea and the leader of the United States got on a human level. And we heard from the U.S. president that he was going to go on his gut instinct and would know in the first minute if he could get along with Kim Jong-un and try and make peace.
So it's been quite remarkable the optics of this. Of course coming out of the North-South Korean leaders meeting as well, it was picture perfect then. The optics of this have been quite remarkable. The fact the two seem to be getting on, the declaration not so much. We've seen that kind of language before. We didn't see the words complete irreversible or verifiable in the declaration. So those are things that North Korea has agreed to before this complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But one thing --
COOPER: And Paula -- Paula, let me just tell you that -- Paula, let me just tell you that Kim Jong-un is -- because I know you're at the airport, Kim Jong-un now, we're just seeing his motorcade leaving the St. Regis Hotel, so will be heading toward the airport where you are, so those are the pictures, I just want to let our viewers know that we're looking at.
Go on, Paula.
HANCOCKS: Yes. I was going to say, Anderson, one thing I was very surprised about, and I think many people were, including potentially the U.S. military, was the fact that the U.S. president said that there wouldn't be war games as he put them. These joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea have been covering these joint exercises for many years. They have been going on for decades, both militaries saying that they're necessary for battle readiness. Not saying that they're against North Korea, but just through the alliance that these two militaries need to be in tandem.
I spoke to someone at U.S. Forces Korea, they weren't aware of it. So I think that really stood out for me -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Obviously we'll see how that plays out in the coming days and weeks.
Paula Hancocks, thanks very much -- Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. So we're going to continue looking at those pictures because we do have Kim Jong-un's motorcade leaving the St. Regis Hotel, heading to the airport as well. I believe we have that. But the president this morning at the same time is using words like talented and worthy to describe the North Korean leader. When it comes, though, to what he has to say about Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, listen to what President Trump said in response to a question at a press conference this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have a good relationship with Justin Trudeau. I really did. Other than he had a news conference that he had because he assumed I was in an airplane and I wasn't watching. He learned. That's going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned. You can't do that. You can't do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Seemed like a veiled threat. With me now, CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot. He's a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also a former adviser to Senators John McCain, Mitt Romney and Senator Marco Rubio's presidential bids, and CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich is also here.
Jackie, to you first, though. I mean, the president is continuing to fight with Justin Trudeau and saying it's going to cost Canada, our second largest trading partner and one of our most significant allies. Why?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it all goes down back to the personal. He feels like Prime Minister Trudeau offended him, even though I believe he was saying Trudeau is saying those things pretty much all week. The president didn't like the fact that he went on TV and he felt like he was made foolish.
Now there is a lot of discomfort about this on the Hill and elsewhere in the political sphere, picking a fight with what is our closest ally, but this is what the president does. If he feels personally slighted, he's going to hit back, whether or not someone is of critical importance. HARLOW: Interesting that this now famous picture, let's pull it up,
guys, of the president there with Chancellor Angela Merkel, you see Prime Minister Shinzo Abe there as well, John Bolton.
[10:25:08] A lot has been said and written about this photo and exactly what it means. This morning, guys, in the press conference, the president described what he says was actually going on here at the G7.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And frankly, really good with Merkel, really good pretty much with all of them. I was very surprised because we actually were getting ready to sign a document. I made them various changes and you know that so-called semi-famous picture --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You've seen the picture.
TRUMP: Right. She was looking at me, you know what we were doing? We were talking while we were waiting for the final copy of the document. There was -- that was such an innocent picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: If it was such an innocent picture and everyone is getting along so well, Max, why then did Angela Merkel announce yesterday that Germany will retaliate against these U.S. tariffs?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you can't take seriously anything that Donald Trump says. We can't take it literally in any case. I mean, clearly this was a catastrophic summit, the worst G7 since G7 summits started being held. I think it was in 1975. There is a huge amount of animosity and mistrust between the United States and all of our traditional allies and it's all the more striking that President Trump says he has a, quote, "very special bond" with Kim Jong-un, this vicious dictator. And at the same time, his aide is saying that there is a special place in hell for Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada.
HARLOW: Right. Which I will say, Marc Shore, the legislative director at the White House, you know, shot down what Peter Navarro said about a special place in hell for Trudeau yesterday. But I hear your broader point. I want you both to react --
BOOT: Well, Peter Navarro is still employed by the White House, if I'm not mistaken.
HARLOW: I hear you. He is indeed.
BOOT: He should have been fired 30 seconds after he came out the air.
HARLOW: And he said he was channeling --
BOOT: Because he reflects the views of Trump unfortunately.
HARLOW: He said he was channeling what was coming from Air Force One, meaning the president.
BOOT: Yes. You're right.
HARLOW: I want you both to listen to what Republican Senator Marco Rubio said when talking about human rights as a part of any negotiations with North Korea and also sort of the flattering language that the president used about Kim Jong-un in the press conference today. Here is Senator Rubio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I also think the human rights issue, you can't have this guy with death camps, which is what he has now. These things have to be addressed. He obviously, I would imagine, doesn't truly believe this guy is that talented. I mean, he inherited the family business from his father and his grandfather. The family business is dictatorship. But I think the president is trying to butter the guy up to make it easier to get a deal with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Max, and then Jackie. Max, what do you make of Rubio's comments? He says look, the president is just trying to get a deal here. That's why he's saying these nice things.
BOOT: Well, I think that's right. I think Donald Trump traffics in flattery. He loves to be flattered and he doles out flattery. What he can't stand is any open disagreement. That's why he is seething at Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel and others who are willing to disagree with him face to face and just say that he's wrong when he's wrong.
What he really rewards is kind of the MO of somebody like Kim Jong-un who flatters him to his face, but then doesn't deliver on these vast commitments that he makes, just basically lies to Trump's face, which I would assume is probably the case now because North Korea has promised to denuclearize since 1992, without ever actually doing it and there is very little reason to think that they're actually going to do it now.
But I'm sure that Kim Jong-un fawned over Donald Trump and Donald Trump fawned over Kim Jong-un. This is kind of the way that he operates. But it is, you know, it may be OK in the real estate business, but it's odious and disgusting when he's fawning over one of the most vicious dictators on the planet.
HARLOW: Jackie --
KUCINICH: It should be said -- go ahead, Poppy. Sorry.
HARLOW: I just want you to also address the human rights part of that.
HARLOW: I mean, Marco Rubio says you've got to do more on human rights. The president answered a few questions on human rights, said we did talk about it, didn't go into detail. Let me sort of equivocate it, saying it's horrible there, it's really bad there but it is horrible human rights abuses other places, too.
KUCINICH: Well, it is true that American leaders and presidents have dealt with really bad people in the past. And that is an unfortunate undercurrent of diplomacy sometimes. That said, he did take it to another level. He talked about how much Kim's people loved him. It's amazing how hard you'll cheer for someone when you don't want your family to end up in a gulag. So it really is -- he took it a step further than he needed to. It's one thing to butter someone up, it's another thing to take it to the next level, which the president seemed to.
HARLOW: Jackie Kucinich, Max Boot, nice to have you both, thank you very much.
Just moments ago, we heard from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate, congratulating President Trump on this summit with Kim Jong-un. But he says the U.S. and its allies must be ready to act if North Korea does not follow through on the framework laid out here. How are other members of Congress reacting? We'll speak to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, next.