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Trump On Way Back to U.S., Touts Progress with North Korea; National Security Council Produced Video Trump Showed Kim; Polls Close in South Carolina, All Eyes on Republican Incumbent Mark Sanford; Rosenstein to Call for Hose to Investigate Its Own Staff. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. President Trump puts his trust in Kim Jong-un and that's not how Kim though is spinning the deal.

Plus, the movie trailer-style video that Trump gave Kim. We now know who was behind it. What exactly were they planning?

Also breaking this hour, polls closing tonight in five states. Another big primary night. Trump picking a fight with the Republican incumbent Mark Sanford. Could Sanford lose because he took on Trump?

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, in Kim Trump trust. The big question tonight, is trust enough for nuclear deal with a country that has promised to give up nuclear weapons before and broken its word every single time because Trump says he trusts Kim.

Trump is on Air Force One on his way home from the historic meeting as I speak, tweeting on board, quote, great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea. Hostages are back home. We'll be getting the remains of our great heroes back to their families. No missile shot. No research happening. Sites closing. Got along great with Kim Jong-un who wants to see wonderful things for his country. As I said earlier today, anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace.

Let's just highlight this. No research happening. Sites closing. These are huge things for the president of the United States to say. To put his reputation and legacy on the line for without any mention of verifying anything. Because today, Trump said as clearly as a human being can that he trusted Kim, period, full stop.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: I do trust him. Yes, I think he trusts me and I trust him.


TRUMP: I do. You know, as I told you in six months, the answer is I do.


BURNETT: Kim, of course has promised annihilation of the United States of America. But Trump seems to think that all that now is just water under the bridge.


TRUMP: He's got a great personality. He's a, you know, funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator. He loves his people not that I'm surprised by that. But he loves his people.


BURNETT: Well, many would be surprised by that because the United Nations says in 2014 alone, up to 120,000 North Koreans were in the country's four main political prisons alone subjected to starvation, torture, and rape. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have died in those prisons. Millions have starved to death under the Kim regime.

According to a think tank arm of the National Intelligence Service, in the first five years as, quote, supreme leader, Kim himself has ordered the execution of at least 340 people which reportedly includes murdering individuals with anti-aircraft machine guns and poisoning his own half brother. You get the point. This is not a person you trust. Which is why the joint agreement coming out of the meeting matters so very much.

Now it's important to note the statement does include commitment by Kim to commit to, quote, complete denuclearization. It does not mention the words verify or verification when it comes to keeping that promise one single time. Which is frankly shocking when you listen to what President Trump said about the Iranian nuclear deal.


TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States.


BURNETT: See what you will about the Iran deal. In the short executive summary of that deal alone, the word "verify" is in there six times. We didn't even try to count how many times it's in the full deal which is 159 pages. And if you go back to the deal's early draft which is akin to today's statement, even it had the word "verify" in their twice and there was a reason for that. The Obama administration was loud and clear that it needed verification because it did not trust the murderous dictators of Iran.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE United States: This deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification.

JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not based on trust. That's what's important to understand. Everything in this agreement is verifiable.


BURNETT: And now, President Trump, one of the Iran deal's biggest haters. The guy who just threw it in a trash, is trusting a dictator he has met one time for five hours. A dictator whose latest sizzle wheel showed the annihilation of Washington, D.C. Today, receiving a sizzle wheel in return from President Trump with a very different tone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un. In a meeting to remake history.

[19:05:00] To shine in the sun. A new world can begin today. One of friendship, respect, and good will. Be part of that world.


BURNETT: I don't know what's up with the horses. I guess we could just start there. Let's go to Singapore right now. Will Ripley is there.

And Will, you're just getting word of how this summit is playing in North Korea, and it's very significant.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I give you a hint, Erin. Do you think the headline mentions the world denuclearization? Absolutely not. In fact, it's a side note in North Korea's reporting.

They're talking about a new era of relations between the United States and North Korea. They're talking unsurprisingly about the end. That President Trump has indicated he's willing to do the end of joint military exercises with South Korea. Perhaps the pullout of American troops from the Peninsula.

They're even mentioning that they believe there should be a change in the law in the United States. The laws in regulations to basically enforce the rhetorical promises that President Trump made that right now are rhetoric, but North Koreans want to actually be a concrete law, which may indicate that the trust doesn't necessarily go both ways.

Obviously there's a lot of mistrust on both sides going into this. All of the experts said that any nuclear deal with North Korea, the key is going to be a specific timeline. You know, revealing how many nuclear warheads they have, how long it's going to take, and what it's going to look like.

None of that was in this deal and unsurprisingly, North Korean state media not talking about any of that at all. But they did talk about, you know, the warm friendship that's growing between President Trump, and Kim Jong-un.

And also interesting, Erin, they talked about the fact that, yes, President Trump invited Chairman Kim to the White House. Chairman Kim also invited President Trump to Pyongyang. A North Korean say he's going to go at some point.

Talk about a way to even further legitimize the country than a visit by the president of the United States.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Will Ripley. As we said, he's been to North Korea 20 times. There's no foreign journalist who knows this story as well he does. And he's saying it's not about trust on that side.

So let's go now to the Republican Senator Jim Risch who is central to all this. He's going to be attending all further negotiations with North Korea because he's chair of the Senate working group on North Korea negotiations. And thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Senator.

So, let's start with this. What's your reaction to, you know, Trump saying -- I mean, he couldn't -- as I said no human being could be more clear in what he said. I trust him, I trust him, I trust him.

A denuclearization is not in the headline in North Korea. They're talking about how Trump is saying he's going to stop the joint military exercises which of course have been going on for years. And that the United States should change its laws to show that it's going to keep its end of the promise. Does the U.S. need b to be tougher here and verify?

SEN. JIM RISCH (R), WISCONSIN: Well, Erin, the first thing that strikes me is I'm shocked sitting here listening to your monologue. I'm not exactly sure what you want of this president. But look, this guy has done something that is absolutely historical and that is bringing these people to the table to talk about denuclearization of the peninsula.

I'm -- look, I'm hearing you talked about how there's no verification. I've talked to the president numerous times over the last three weeks about this. I had launch with him --

BURNETT: So is he telling you something different than he's putting in the statement?

RISCH: I am telling you he is not going into this with Rose colored glasses. He knows what verification is. He knows the problems we had with the Iran deal and he is absolutely committed to get airtight verification on this.

In addition to that, he and the vice president, the secretary of state have all told me they're going submit it to the United States Senate for a treaty ratification.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Senator, because you're --

RISCH: We are going to see that there is verification if indeed we get to an agreement with that.

BURNETT: And that's what people want to hear because what I'm calling out here is that we don't see any sign of it thus far. And what we see from the president is him saying, I trust Kim Jong-un and I don't need to go through Kim Jong-un's record with you and anyone else. I did a little bit there but you know it better than anybody.

But here's what the president of the United States is saying about Kim Jong-un.


TRUMP: I do trust him. Yes, I think he trusts me and I trust him.

ACOSTA: And do you trust him?

TRUMP: I do. You know, as I told you in six months, the answer is I do.


BURNETT: You don't have any concern about him being so adamant that he trust a murderous dictator that he's met for five hours one time?

RISCH: You would have to be the most naive person on the face of the earth to think that the president of the United States is going to walk in, meet with a guy for a bit and walk out there and say, well, I trust him and that's it --

BURNETT: Well, that's exactly what he just did, Senator.

RISCH: I'm telling you he understands verification. We are going to have verification or not going to have a deal.

[19:10:02] Two things have to happen to make this work. Number one, you have to have common objective that both parties agreed to. And then secondly, you have to have good faith on both parties as they work towards that objective.

And we are going to find out very quickly whether or not they have -- they are going to be acting in good faith. Just as you pointed out, we have had a bad history with this country. We have a different person in charge of this country now than his father or his grandfather, but nonetheless --

BURNETT: Right. Who still wants labor camps with rape and starvation and poisons his half brother and orders the murder of 341 people. I mean, I don't think we can act like this guy is a different guy. We've seen it six years he's been doing the same thing his father and grandfather did. RISCH: There's absolutely no question about that. And I'm certainly not going to stay in here and defend Kim Jong-un. He has done some really, really bad things, but he is headed down a different road than he was a 120 days ago. A 120 days ago, we and they were head to a very, very bad place.

That is not the situation today and President Trump, you have got to give him -- I know this is going to be tough for you but you've got to give him just a smidgin of credit for getting us to where we are which is a very different path than what we are on a 120 days ago.

BURNETT: So, can you explain because, you know, you're saying only the most naive person would think that Trump came out and said he trusted Kim but he did. Then he came out and said all these other things about Kim and you're saying I have no rose colored glasses at all about who Kim is and what he's done. But here's what Trump said about Kim.


TRUMP: And we have developed a very special bond. He's got a great personality. He's a, you know, funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator.

He loves his people not that I'm surprised by that. He's 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.

BURNETT: At least run it tough, I'm sure we could both agree as an unfortunate choice of words. But, what do you make of this, Senator. I mean, does he just not mean any of those things. He's referring to this guy as funny, smart, loves his people, he's talented? Are you really OK with all that?

RISCH: Well, look, I wasn't at there at the table. He's the only person I know and I know him personally that has sat down with Kim Jong-un and when it come to his sense of humor, he judges it the way he did.

Look, I don't think you're talking about someone who is totally naive to what the things the Kim Jong-un has done. But what you do is you take something like this out of context, go back and pull the tapes of what Donald Trump has said about him before. Put the two together, certainly --

BURNETT: Well, little rocket man, yes, for sure, for sure. But which one are we supposed to believe?

RISCH: I don't understand the question.

BURNETT: I mean, which (INAUDIBLE) are we supposed to believe.

RISCH: You're supposed to believe that Kim Jong-un has done some very bad things. If you want to believe the president, that the man has a sense of humor, so be it. But, look, I know you people are trying to put a rough spin on this, a negative spin on this, but this is an entirely different situation than we had a 120 days ago. Give him a break. At least give him some credit for saying that they're no longer testing --

BURNETT: I don't -- I would have to say, Senator, I don't think we're putting a rough spin. I think we're saying the president of the United States came out of a meeting and said I trust a guy with the record he has. That is exactly what happened. That's not spin, that's the facts.

So what I'm asking you is, why are those facts the way they are? Is it OK that he did that? Do you support that he did that? Because I'm not playing a spin on it, I'm just playing for you what he did.

RISCH: Yes. Well, you will recall that in the past, leaders have said well, we're going to trust, but we're going to verify. And I can tell you that is exactly where the president of the United States is today.

BURNETT: All right, so what you're saying is that what we heard from John Kerry and Obama is where Trump is going to go. He's going to have a different -- I'm sure definition of verify than the Iran deal because we know he despises it. But you're saying he agrees with that sentiment, not the sentiment that he is currently expressing?

RISCH: Well, I don't think simply by saying you trust somebody that you exclude the fact that you're going to verify what they're telling you. Look, we've been down this road, a lot of us have been through this situation with the Iranian deal and we were very disappointed with the regime that they put in place for verification. It is going to be a tougher verification or it's not going to be a deal and it's not going to be ratified by the United States Senate.

BURNETT: Because, I mean, the record here, right, 2005, promise we're getting rid of nuclear weapons, North Korea does, right. A year later, the first nuclear test, then they blow up the cooling tower. And a year later, the second test, right?

I mean, we have precedent here. And precedent is that North Korea lies, right? So that's the precedent.

RISCH: There is no question about that, Erin but on the other hand, I don't think you should take that precedent and say, OK, we are now going to go -- down the road we were going to go and head to a war with them and not talk to them. And try to get them to mend their ways, which obviously the president of the United States did.

You know, he was the one that was responsible for putting the maximum pressure campaign on.

[19:15:01] And he was the one that brought them to the table as this happened here and you've got to give him credit for that. If we just stay down the road, we were going --

BURNETT: Now, would you admit, Senator though Kim --

RISCH: -- it was going to end in a very, very bad place. BURNETT: I'm sorry to interrupt you. We're just little short on time, but I just want to be clear. Kim has -- they have always wanted to talk to U.S. presidents, right? Now Trump has gotten them to the table. That is important but it isn't as if they never wanted to come to the table before.

They've always wanted to come to the table. He's been able. He believes to put terms on it that make it worth his while, but to act as if Kim couldn't be brought to the table I think would be unfair.

RISCH: You know, Erin, if indeed, Kim is acting not in good faith, we're going to know it very quickly. This president is a person who does not tolerate that sort of thing at all. I guarantee you, if Kim's objective was just to get him to the table and talk a little bit and then go about his way, the way he was going before, that he is headed for -- he is going to be very disappointed when he finds out what this president is going to do.

BURNETT: All right, well, obviously, you've been talking to him. And that is what you have been told. That's important and I thank you as always, Senator for your time tonight.

And next, Trump's flashy pitch for peace. We know now who was behind the video with the horses galloping through the water.

Plus, poles closing in North Virginia and South Carolina. Could Republican incumbent Mark Sanford lose his seat because he took Trump on?

And breaking news, a major blow to the president tonight. A federal judge approving a deal that the president has railed vehemently against.


[19:20:23] BURNETT: Breaking news, we know who produced the movie trailer-style video that President Trump played for Kim Jong-un and he's now tweeted out. It was to win Kim over at the summit.

It was Trump's National Security Council. A spokesman tonight saying it was to show, quote, the benefits of complete denuclearization and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.

The video is raising eyebrows. It was very propaganda feeling like. It was very strange in many ways. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men. Two leaders. One destiny.

A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose? To show vision and leadership or not?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And, you know, we had already showed, you know, you the horses galloping through the water. I guessed maybe inspired by (INAUDIBLE), I'm not sure.

OUTFRONT now, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, Retired U.S. Army Major General Spiders Marks, and former CIA counterterror official, Phil Mudd.

Ambassador, let me start with you. look, the video at the least is unconventional, but so is all of this. And unconventional doesn't mean that it didn't going to be effective. Are you surprised that the National Security Council would take time and cost to put this together?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes. My eyebrows are raised about this, Erin. I mean, first of all, let me say, I think President Trump was right to have this summit. I give him credit. The Senator Risch challenged us that he got us this far. But this is a strange video.

I mean, if this is the video that they showed, Kim Jong-un doesn't speak much English. His people don't speak much English. But what really bothered me the most was these two men at the center, President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the two men who should be at the center of this are Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. They're the two people who have to decide whether the Koreans live in separate states or eventually unify.

I think it just -- it's the wrong imagery. It puts us into a situation where we're not really talking about our own allies. And as you know, Erin, when they announced the cancellation of the military exercises which President Trump wrongly called provocative war games, we didn't tell the South Koreans and Japanese, so we're not going to succeed here.

If we cut the Japanese and South Koreans off, we've got to include them in these and I think the video perfectly illustrates what the problem how the White House is seeing this entire negotiation.

BURNETT: Well, of course that video was all about Trump and Kim, right, even said at the beginning, introducing, right, Trump and Kim. It made it about two individuals and obviously the leaders of those two countries.

General Marks, I want to play another brief clip from this trailer for you. It was four minutes in total but here's another clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will this leader choose to advance his country, and be part of a new world? Be the hero of his people? Will he shake the hand of peace? Will he shake the hand of peace, and a enjoy prosperity like he has never seen?

A great life or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?


BURNETT: Will he shake the hand of peace and of course Trump's face then appears. General, what do you make of this?

RET. MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, FORMER SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER ON KOREA: Look, I have to tell you, I'm OK with the video. I disagree with the ambassador that it necessarily excludes the Japanese and it necessarily excludes the South Koreans. I think what it does very succinctly is, it's a very personal message to this very enigmatic, isolated leader of the hermit kingdom, message in full color that says look, I think there can be a path going forward and the choice is up to you. What you do, Kim, is important at this point.

And oh, by the way, the fact that we didn't mention the other nations that are a part -- well, let's be frank. It doesn't talk about the Chinese. It doesn't talk about the six party talks. It doesn't talk about those members that are involved truly in the structure of what we have on the peninsula now.

And I need to say quite frankly, I think our priority, it's fair to say that this peninsula is not going to be reunified. I think the first step in this process is something that approaches some measurement around nuclearization not a denuclearization. But the definition of how this nation can have some access to prosperity other than what it has right now.

BURNETT: And Phil, what do you make of the context of this of Trump calling the joint exercises with South Korea that have been going on like clock work, right for years as provocative, which of course is a word that North Korea uses to describe them.

[19:25:08] And then they're essentially saying, well, they're not going happen anymore because they're provocative. I mean, that in it of itself is a stunning step.

PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: Sure, but he's playing to his audience. I'm with General Marks on this. Let me take you back to when I started at the CIA in 1985. My first job was as a profiled, profiling foreign leaders for American officials to say not only where do the foreign president come from in terms of his schooling, but what was his psychological motivation. What got into his head?

I think what happened here was profiling. That is the U.S. Government says what motivates this foreign leader. They're clearly in my mind saying this foreign leader, that is Kim Jong-un likes to be the big man on campus on the Korean Peninsula. We're going to tell him in his grandiose sense of his place in history, he can be the big man on campus --

BURNETT: So you think this video accomplishes that?

MUDD: I think this is a fascinating case. I don't know how Kim Jong- un would receive this. What I'm saying is, it's too simplistic just to say it's a propaganda video. I think there's a lot about profiling in mind to Kim Jong-un here from American government experts that tells me as much about America as it does about Kim Jong-un.

BURNETT: Ambassador, in terms of what the president is saying about Kim Jong-un, and I played a few of these comments before for Senator Risch. But obviously, he has been very glowing, whatever you want to say, whether it's what he really thinks or whether he's pondering to what he thinks as Kim's need for accolades. Here are some of what Trump has been saying.


TRUMP: He's a very talented man. He's got a great personality. He's a, you know, funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator.

He loves his people. He loves his country. His country does love him. His people you see fervor they have a great fervor. I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea.

He wants to do what's right. He was really very gracious. Because I think he trust me and I trust him.


BURNETT: So that's what Kim Jong-un gets and then the Canadian prime minister, longest border with the United States, perhaps America's greatest ally, Justin Trudeau, the president this week calls him "meek, mild, dishonest, and weak" after Trudeau says Canada will fight back against U.S. tariffs in turn. Today, Trump actually came out and took it a step farther calling Trudeau obnoxious.

So, we hear that about Trudeau and what we just hear about Kim. Does it matter that that's how we're treating friend and foe?

BURNS: It does matter. It's a jarring juxtaposition. Look, I understand that President Trump lightly wants to be polite to Kim Jong-un as they meet. You wouldn't want the American president to be impolite to him.

But I think the fanning over Kim, I trust him, I like him, the smile. This is a dictator. He's an evil dictator. He's a murderer of his own people. Look at that 2014 U.N. human rights report which excoriated him.

And I think in negotiations, Erin, it's all about leverage. And we need to keep the leverage. And part of it is by being a steer and not giving in to Kim Jong-un and rewarding him.

And then of course, you look at the -- our allies relationship. Our largest trade partners are the European Union and Canada. The largest investors in or economy, the European Union. The greatest number of American allies (INAUDIBLE) I'm a former ambassador to NATO, Canada and the 27 Europeans, what happened in Quebec was a disaster for the western alliance. And frankly, appalling that an American president would be so critical of our closest friend and neighbor as Canada. And we're feeling that ramification.

BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much.

And next, breaking news, polls just closing in Virginia and South Carolina. The Republican incumbent there, Mark Sanford could lose his seat. The reason, President Trump.

Plus breaking news, Rod Rosenstein threatening to call on the House to investigate its own staff tonight. Why?


[19:32:09] BURNETT: Breaking news: polls closing just moments ago in Virginia and South Carolina. Two of the five states that are holding primaries tonight.

The stakes are huge and all eyes are on South Carolina at this moment. Polls just closed. The Republican Congressman Mark Sanford in an incredibly tight race.

President Trump today on his way back from Singapore slamming Sanford, tweeting in part, quote, Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me and my campaign to make America great again. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He's better off in Argentina.

Perhaps he meant Appalachia, because you'll recall, Sanford had an affair with a woman from Argentina and went, quote, MIA. Apparently hiking the Appalachian Trail.

So, why is Trump slamming a Republican who's never lost a race on such a personal level? Probably because of this.


REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When the president says I wish I could hit you in the face, if not, why don't you do it and I'll pay your legal fees, we ought to call it for it is. That's a problem.

What the president is talking about going back and renegotiating NAFTA, I think is, it would be catastrophic.

I think a lot of people would say, OK, the guy said something stupid. I think a lot of people, you know, were disappointed with the way he said it, what he said.


BURNETT: CNN political director David Chalian is OUTFRONT.

Of course, David, we're awaiting results here to come in. This is a crucial race, along with the other primaries this evening. And the president making a big move going against incumbent on Air Force One, right, on his way back from Singapore, says he hasn't slept for 25 hours. This was important enough for him to weigh in on.

Could Sanford really lose tonight because of Trump?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, of course, the president weighed in at the very last moment, right? I don't know how many votes you can move three hours before the polls close. But remember, Erin, what may happen here is that if nobody gets a majority of the votes, this goes on to a run off.

And if the president is trying at the last minute to just keep Sanford below enough to get into a run off, then it can have a big impact. But, you know, Mark Sanford certainly thinks that a potential loss was one of the possible outcomes here, it's why he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television advertising, something he doesn't normally do at all. Hasn't spent a dime in five years.

And so, he took this threat pretty seriously. And you are right, it is because of the anti-Trump rhetoric.

BURNETT: So, what would a Sanford loss -- and as I said, polls closed here, we're awaiting. It's a tight race. We don't yet have the results.

CHALIAN: Yes, he could end up winning this. Yes.

BURNETT: OK. So, he could end up winning, and that obviously would be very significant in its own right. If he loses, though, what does this mean for Republicans? You have an incumbent who's never lost a race before who takes on Trump and loses. If that's the case, what does it mean?

CHALIAN: Right and it's not a standalone item.

Remember, Martha Roby, the Republican congresswoman who was just forced into a run off again because she faced a challenge inside her party about her anti-Trump stance after the "Access Hollywood" tape.

[19:35:02] This -- if Mark Sanford goes to a runoff, or loses outright tonight, this is a clear message once again. This is Donald Trump's Republican Party.

And more important apparently than any issue set where you may be showing your conservative credentials, what the party voters would be demanding, how I would read that result is that fealty to Donald Trump is above else right now inside today's Republican primary electorate, the most active, devoted members of the party.

BURNETT: All right. David Chalian, thank you very much.

And, of course, if these results come in and we can call it, David's going to be back on that moment.

In the meantime, I want to go to national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh, along with former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings.

Joan, look, Trump's approval ratings among Republicans at the 500-day mark are incredibly high, 87 percent, second highest of any Republican since World War II. George W. Bush, the only one who did better and that was right after 9/11, which obviously was a turning point for the entire nation. JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Right.

BURNETT: Trump comes out slams Sanford, OK, as David points out, three hours before.

WALSH: Sure.

BURNETT: But he's made his feelings clear. Can he sink Sanford?

WALSH: I think he possibly can. I don't say it's a done deal. I think Sanford has a strong chance. He's very popular.

But I think, you know, Erin, win or lose, we know this is Donald Trump's party. I mean, this is what we heard from Senator Bob Corker today, challenging his Senate colleagues to stand up against tariffs and stand up for something that many of them personally believe is important and challenge the president. They won't do it.

So, I think we are seeing even if Sanford survives, that he survives because he's a very popular incumbent who's never lost a race but it's Trump's party.

BURNETT: Right, what, six races or something like that, I believe, that he really has never lost a race and obviously --

WALSH: And came back --

BURNETT: And plenty of controversy personally --

WALSH: Exactly. Came back from that personal controversy, was forgiven and won a congressional seat.

BURNETT: Scott, David brings up Martha Roby, Alabama congresswoman, was forced into a runoff. It's going to be next month. And she, of course, was critical of the Trump "Access Hollywood" tape. That doesn't seem like a controversial thing to be critical of, but obviously it is for some.

Are Never Trump Republican, Scott, doomed?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think there's a difference between Roby and Sanford. I think Roby did criticize the president, but she's come back in her congressional career under President Trump's leadership and she's voted with his agenda.

The difference on Sanford is there are only four Republicans in the House who voted less with president than Sanford. So, from that perspective, he's one of the most disloyal Republicans. This goes well beyond rhetoric here. It goes directly to policy.

It is true. This is Trump's party when you have a president, they set the agenda. He's setting the policy agenda and Sanford is not on board much of the time. So I think that in addition to some Sanford fatigue in the district, I have a friend who lives there, she says she'd be shocked if he lost, but he's been around a long time and we're in an environment right now where folks who have f around a long time are facing a little more heat than usual.

BURNETT: Yes, I mean, you know, the unexpected can happen as we've seen again and again.

Joan, here's the thing, though. You know, Trump says he does a lot of things. But a lot of people whatever your political persuasion is would agree are perhaps rude, mean, immoral, whatever they might mean and that some say, I care about policy. I'm fine with it any way.

WALSH: Tax cuts.

BURNETT: Tennessee Republican Bob Corker today came out and slammed his GOP colleagues. This was about trade. He was basically saying you're not getting on board on trade because you're scared of the guy. You're scared of him lashing out against you and here's how Corker put it.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment. Well, we'll do what we can do, but, my gosh, if the president get upset with us, then we might not be in the majority.


BURNETT: A very different take, right? His view is you could lose.

WALSH: Right.

BURNETT: But you know, poke the bear. That's the way he says. There's fear that he's basically calling out his colleagues for being scared for calling the president. Is that true?

WALSH: But they are. Of course, they're scared. They're scared in the House.

There are Republicans who want to use a discharge position to get a DACA petition, to get a DACA bill out, to preserve their own seats, many of them in California or New Jersey where they're a little vulnerable on the DACA. They can't get Paul Ryan to do that. And in the Senate, they can't get McConnell to move legislation that the president doesn't like, even if it might get a majority of votes.

So, it's Donald Trump's party. We're going to be living with this for as long as we have them.

BURNETT: Look, Scott, these guys if anything are pragmatic about their own situation, right? They care about themselves, ultimately, most of them more than anything else. Is this just their belief that if they criticize the president no matter on what, it will hurt votes?

Is that why they're afraid to poke the bear? So many of them?

JENNINGS: Well, I think -- I think what they want is more unity in the Republican Party. We've achieved some amount of unity in Washington and it's caused Trump and the Republicans to get things done.

[19:40:00] What Corker is proposing today is an amendment to the defense bill. It would kill the defense bill. The president would veto this idea anyway.

I think it's the wrong venue. Corker could go --


BURNETT: Maybe the wrong venue, but the sentiment is a trade policy that moderate Democrats and Republicans uniformly agree on. I mean, what the president is doing on trade is not mainstream, Scott. It's not.

JENNINGS: Well, it may not be mainstream in Washington, but I think the politics are a lot more confusing in the middle of America. And I also think that -- I also think that the president right now and the Republican Party are working better together than they have ever worked and what Corker, who's on his way out door is proposing to blow that up.

If I'm Mitch McConnell, if I'm Paul Ryan, if I'm somebody trying to hold the party together long enough to hang on in a rough midterm cycle, why would blow this up right now over a bill the president would veto anyway? It seems crazy to me.

BURNETT: Interesting point.

JENNINGS: If he wanted to shut down the Senate, he could do it. If he wanted to shut down the Senate, he could do it with Flake. They have chosen not to do that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. You got the first, you got the last, Scott.

And next, breaking news, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein taking on Devin Nunes. Why he's threatening to call for an investigation of his own.

Plus, a federal judge defying Trump tonight, approving a deal the president himself vowed would never happen under his watch.


[19:45:14] BURNETT: Breaking news: the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein upping the ante in his battle with House Republicans. CNN learning tonight, Rosenstein will ask the House general counsel to investigate House Intelligence Committee staffers after details of a tense meeting between the deputy AG and the committee were leaked.

Our justice reporter Laura Jarrett is OUTFRONT.

And, Laura, look, I mean, this is -- this is now a battle royal in some senses. What is it about this leak from the White House intelligence committee, of course, chaired by Devin Nunes that has Rosenstein so angry?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this one is different because justice officials say the facts of this meeting have been turned completely upside down. This latest feud between Rosenstein and the staff from the House Intel Committee all goes back to this heated meeting from January of this year, right as House Intel committee Chairman Devin Nunes started regularly threatening the deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, with contempt for failing to turnover documents related to the Russia investigation.

Well, another network reported earlier this evening that at that meeting, Rosenstein essentially threatened House Intel staff in the room with a criminal investigation into their own conduct, but two sources tell me that is false. And instead, Rosenstein said, if you hold me in contempt, realize, I will be able to defend myself and get text messages and e-mails. And so, as a result of how all of this has played out, Erin, Rosenstein is now going to call on the top lawyer for the House of Representatives, the general counsel, to investigate this conduct of these staffers who shared e-mails about this private meeting about the sensitive Russia-related documents, clearly furthering ramping up this fight with House Republicans, Erin.

BURNETT: It certainly is. All right. Laura, thank you very much. Laura Jarrett breaking this.

I want to go now to April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

I mean, April, this is pretty stunning in sense here. You have -- it's the House GOP, but it's Devin Nunes, right, with his clear political persuasion on all of this, on the House Intel Committee and Rod Rosenstein and now, you seem to have a battle royal. Can it get much worse?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Battle royal, I mean, it's battling in Washington. You've got the White House against justice over Russia. You've got now justice against House Republicans over Russia and how they handled it, how they've been dealing with it and presenting it.

The battle royal is I think a very calm word because this is escalating more than we know. And this could also -- I mean, with everything on the table, you know even legislatively, this could even possibly stick up some works for some matters that are going to the House and Senate right now.

This is a very, very bad situation, over this Russia investigation that just looms like an albatross around the necks of the Justice Department and this administration.

BURNETT: And that's that's what this is all about, right? This is about the Russia investigation.

RYAN: The Russia investigation. Yes. It's all about the Russia investigation. It's a very tense time. I mean, you've got to president breathing down their neck at the Justice Department and you have Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions basically together on this. Even though Jeff Sessions has recused himself, they're still together on this and now, Rosenstein has tried to fight back with what's happening in the White House with the GOP who, you know, who he's linked with.

So, this is just not a good signal for the American public to see all this fighting, the White House against justice, justice against the House, House GOP. It's just not good.

BURNETT: Well, it undermines, of course, confidence in the system. And there are imperfections and there are mistakes and there are bad apples everywhere. But, of course, undermining Americans confidence in the rule of law is a very serious thing.

April, what does this mean for the president? He's going land from Singapore. He has now slammed Mueller by name. He's slammed Rosenstein by name. He's got no fear, Jeff Sessions.

And now, does this just give him another arrow in the quiver or does he stay uncharacteristically silent?

RYAN: Oh, he will not be silent. You know this president. He will tweet at some point. He will make a statement at some point. Who knows? He could be even talking to reporters on Air Force One right now.

This president will not stay quiet and he will use this in his arsenal to say, see, what I told you. So, I mean, no matter what, this president is going to use it to his advantage or spin it to his advantage. So, this does not bode well for Rosenstein or for House GOP members when it comes to Russia.

The president will say, I told you so.

BURNETT: All right. April, thank you. Great to see you.

RYAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news, the stinging defeat for Team Trump. A federal judge green lighting a deal Trump said would never happen under his watch. So, what is the Trump administration's next move?

Plus, what is in a name? Jeanne Moos knows what Trump and Kim's signatures say about them.

[19:50:01] The experts weigh in.


BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, a federal judge defying Trump, approving AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which is the parent company of this network. Time Warner spokesman Gary Ginsberg saying tonight, quote: The court's resounding rejection of the government's argument is confirmation that this was a case that was baseless, political in its motivation and should never have been brought in the first place.

But will Team Trump give up? Is this fight really over?

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a federal judge has given the green light to the $85 billion deal between AT&T and Time Warner.

Judge Richard Leon ripped apart the government's case point by point, concluding for each of the government's three main arguments the government has failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially.

The Department of Justice which sued to block the deal in November is now deciding whether to appeal. Prosecutors argued that combining the country's largest telecommunications company, AT&T, with programmer Time Warner, parent company to CNN, would mean the resulting company could charge higher prices for it's must-have programming like live sports and news, harming consumers.

[19:55:02] In a statement, Makan Delrahim, the DOJ antitrust chief, expressed disappointment in the ruling saying: We will closely review the court's opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers.

AT&T general counsel David McAtee said in a statement, they hope to complete the merger by next Wednesday, writing: We are pleased that after a conducting full and fair trial on the merits, the court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner.

The courtroom fight played out over six weeks in Washington, D.C. The trial drew intense interests from media observers and the business world.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Will AT&T be allowed to buy Time Warner? :

SCHNEIDER: It was the first time since the 1970s the Department of Justice sued to block a so-called vertical merger, since AT&T and Time Warner don't directly compete. The judge also issuing a warning to the Department of Justice, cautioning them not to ask him to put his decision on hold and issue a stay.

The court has spoken. To use a stay to accomplish indirectly what could not have done directly, especially when it would cause certain irreparable harm to the defendants simply would be unjust.

The deal was announced in October 2016.

RANDALL STEPHENSON, AT&T CEO: The ability to take premium quality content to our customers in the mobile environment is huge for us. It's huge for our customers.

SCHNEIDER: At the height of the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump weighed in repeatedly promising to block the deal if he was elected president.

DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.

SCHNEIDER: The president's statements never came into play during the trial. And now, with tonight's ruling, this mega deal is moving forward pending any appeal by the government or further court action. The companies have set a June 21st deadline. And if the deal isn't done by then, either side could away.


SCHNEIDER: And tonight, AT&T says it plans to close this deal by next week, June 20th. But the question still loomed here. Will the Department of Justice move for a stay that will put this decision on hold and would effectively kill this deal and also will President Trump weigh in?

Erin, it was just back in November, one day after the Department of Justice sued to block this deal that President Trump did say he believed that this merger was bad for this country. And, of course, now, it looks like it will be moving full steam ahead -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica. A crucial few days ahead, to see what happens here.

And now, on a much lighter note, Jeanne, because President Trump and Kim Jong-un have something in common and that is big signatures.

Here is Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're such a political odd couple, linked even in a latte. President Trump and Kim Jong-un have been turned into everything from bubble heads to trolls.

But you know what's really strange to see together? Their signatures.


MOOS: We're used to seeing President Trump's chainsaw signature. But this is how Kim Jong-un signs his name, and most of the world have never before seen it until this signing ceremony.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. It's fantastic.

MOOS: Reaction on Twitter ranged from Kim Jong-un has a cute signature to preposterous.

Others noted its rising trajectory, looks like a missile, like a flying rocket -- actually, space is something a handwriting analyst picks up on immediately.

JAMIE MASON COHEN, CERTIFIED HANDRWITING ANALYST: Elongated space between each letter that he needs space from people. He doesn't like for people to get too close to him.

MOOS: Contrast it with President Trump's hands-on personality, reflected in his crowded signature.

COHEN: Trump clearly loves himself because of the size of certain letters. Trump's writing looks like a freight train that lacks compassion that goes on instincts.

MOOS: While Kim's looks deliberative.

And though their signatures couldn't look more different, our expert says they do indicate similarities.

COHEN: They don't forgive easily. They hold on to grudges.

MOOS: Both men apply a lot of pressure when they write.

COHEN: I was not surprised by the anger strokes because I have seen those types of strokes in other dictators.

MOOS: President Trump's signature graced the pen placed on the table for Kim to use. But instead, at the last second, his sister and close adviser pulled a switcheroo.

TRUMP: So, we're signing a very important document.

MOOS: And holding that pen were the hands of a much shorter man, making President Trump's hand finally loom large.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Got to give both credit for that. Trump had the pens with his signature on the table, I mean, managed to get those pens on the table to dominate and then the sister is there, and the switcheroo. That's intrigue for you.

Thanks for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch the show anytime. Just go to CNN Go.

Anderson starts now.