Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Falsely Blames Democrats for Separating Families; Trump Tries to Distance Himself from Manafort; CNN Source: Cohen Telling Friends, Family He's Willing To Cooperate; Trump Defends Praise Of Kim Jong-Un, Calls Him "Talented"; Trump: I "Solved" The Problem With North Korea; PETA Outraged Over Bear Used In Russia Celebration. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired June 16, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[10:59:49] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hopefully we'll find them a good home.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We hope that obviously for all animals certainly, children -- everybody.

Listen, we thank you so much for spending your morning with us. We always appreciate your company. We hope you make good memories today.

SAVIDGE: We're going to turn it over to our colleague Fredricka Whitfield. Good morning -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you.

PAUL: Good morning.

WHITFIELD: All right. See you all bright and early tomorrow morning.

PAUL: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Have a good, restful day. Thanks so much.

It is 11:00 on the East Coast. Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

NEWSROOM starts right now.

And we begin this hour with the number now at the center of the nation's fierce immigration debate -- 2,000. That's how many children have been separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border in just a six-week span from mid-April to the end of May according to new numbers from Homeland Security.

And just a short time ago, the President once again tried to blame Democrats for a practice that increased dramatically because of his administration's zero-tolerance policy launched this spring.

The President tweeting this, "Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the border by working with Republicans on new legislation for a change. This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good at only three things -- high taxes, high crime, and obstruction. Sad."

Here's what's unusual. The President is passing the blame at the same time his own attorney general is holding up the practice as his own even citing a bible verse commanding citizens to obey the laws of government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would cite you the Apostle Paul in his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. We have live coverage beginning with CNN's Sarah Westwood at the White House. Sarah -- a fact check -- the latest tweet from the President.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. President Trump repeating his misleading claim that Democrats are responsible for the separation of families from their children at the border. Trump administration officials, they've repeated this untrue argument a number of times in recent weeks as the practice of family separation comes under increasing scrutiny.

Like you mentioned, the government has separated more than 2,000 children from their families since implementing a policy that the Trump administration describes as a deterrent -- made to deter future illegal immigration. And that's the policy of prosecuting 100 percent of people who attempt to cross the border illegally.

Trump this morning hinting that Democrats could end the controversial practice by paying a political ransom of sorts and voting for his immigration priorities.

Now, just to be clear, Democrats are not responsible for the law dictating family separation because there is no such law. Instead, this practice is occurring as a result of the Trump administration's decision in April to implement a zero-tolerance policy referring 100 percent of all illegal border crossings for criminal prosecution which forces adults and children into separate detention centers.

Previously families caught attempting to cross the border illegally were referred for civil deportation proceedings which allowed them to stay together -- Fred. So what we're seeing is a little bit of partisan sleight of hand as we've seen before when we're discussing family separation.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood at the White House -- thank you so much.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is at the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas. And here's his firsthand look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's hard to see people moving through the thick south Texas vegetation; the Rio Grande rolls by just beyond the tree line. And then just like that, they appear out of the brush -- a small group of undocumented immigrants walking into a public park.

(on camera): We just came across this group of undocumented immigrants here in the town Mission, Texas -- two adults, four children just finished crossing the Rio Grande here a little while ago. And now they're in the custody of border patrol.

(voice over): This group is actually made up of three different groups. They say they met along the journey from Honduras and decided to enter the United States together. Border patrol agents give them water and they sit in the shade as they wait for a vehicle to take them to a border patrol station.

There's Jonathan Arielle (ph), 11-years-old. He says he left Honduras with cousins, but they abandoned him along the way. He says his mother lives in Virginia and told him not to make this journey alone. But now he's here.

"I told her I wanted to come," he says, "but she said it's very dangerous."

(on camera): Are you scared? "A little," he says.

(voice over): It's a brief conversation that leaves you with many more questions about how a young boy can get to this point. As an unaccompanied minor he will likely end up for the time being in a children's shelter like this one as federal authorities try to connect the boy with his mother.

The rest of this group is made up of two adult women with their children. Dalia Sayupa (ph) is 24 years old, and she crossed the border with her little boy.

[11:05:03] (on camera): Why did you come?

(voice over): She says gang members left a note at her home threatening to kill her. And that's when she decided to flee.

Are you afraid they're going to separate you from your son?

"Yes, he's my son, and I love him," she says. I have carried him throughout my journey.

Dalia says she did not know that she might be separated from her son once she is taken into custody in the United States. But she says, "I have nothing in Honduras." The families are loaded up and taken away unsure of what happens next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Ed Lavandera -- thank you so much. President Trump now says he hates seeing parents and children ripped away from each other at the border but he claims it's not his fault. For the past few days, the President has been falsely pointing the finger at Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The children -- the children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Placing the blame squarely at Democrats. The truth is this was a deliberate shift by the Trump administration. It's a legal practice, but the President has the power to unilaterally reverse it at any time.

Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. Congressman -- thanks so much for your time.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: So as the son of an immigrant father from Mexico, what goes through your mind when you hear these stories of families being separated, when you see Ed Lavandera's piece and see this young boy who was trying to reach the border where his mom is on the other side?

CUELLAR: You know, I've been seeing this since 2014 when the crisis started in 2014. And I've seen some of the very young kids -- sometimes young boys, sometimes young girls, and it just takes you to a situation to just imagine how can a young kid just travel thousands of miles on their own, in the hands of coyotes which are the smugglers at times that they're abused up here? And it's a very difficult trip for -- voyage for them to take. But it just shows you how desperate people can be. And when they get desperate, they'll take certain measures like we're seeing right now.

WHITFIELD: What do you want to see happen?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, I want to see a sense of fairness, of dignity. You know, I always smile when the President -- you know, does one thing and then blames it on the Democrats. As you know, Republicans, with all due respect to my Republican colleagues, they control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

And as you said a while ago, somebody said there it's a shift, a shift not from Obama but shifted over where the administration is doing this. In my opinion, they're trying to send a message down to folks who say we're going to separate you, we're going to separate you if you come over here.

I know exactly what they're doing. They're trying to send a message so they can stop this flow from coming over.

WHITFIELD: So if the idea is this is a deterrent, see what happens if you run the risk whether you're with your children or whether you are alone, you will be detained. Is this a deterrent? Is this effective?

CUELLAR: Well, I think they're trying to make it effective. They're trying to send that deterrence message. But as you see, the numbers are still coming. One other thing I've always said -- I mean I live on the border. I drink the water. I breathe the air. I understand what's happening down here is that we keep playing defense on the one- yard line, where we spend over $18 billion a year, called the U.S.- Mexico border.

My thing is if you go play defense, you ought to play it on the 20- yard line instead of the one-yard line and work with those countries. Back in 2015 we added $750 million -- I think it's $650 million to the Alliance for Progress where we sat down with the countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala.

I just met with the President of Honduras and he says, you know, some of our neighbors are just so frustrated that the money that you all put there has not really gone to us. And that's one thing that I'm going to work on appropriations. Get the State Department to move faster.

We're seeing this crisis here at the border, but at the same time, the State Department has not got those resources because we're trying to address the economic, the security issues of those countries. And the more we do on the 20-yard line instead of the one-yard line called the U.S. border, the more effective we can be.

WHITFIELD: So under the Obama administration, there was according to "The Washington Post" reporting -- you know, a surging number of unaccompanied minors being apprehended at the border in 2014. There were nearly 70,000 according to "The Post" reporting. And that same year, there was this viral image of children being kept in a cage at a detention center.

[11:10:05] Do you see any parallels here? How different is what we're seeing today from these images?

CUELLAR: In many ways, I think I was -- I don't know what image you're using, but I released some of those photos because it was kept very quiet under the Obama administration. There were large numbers of people coming in. The Obama administration was trying to keep this quiet.

And I don't know which image you're using, but I released some photos that I had gone about those young kids who are kept there. And we are still seeing the numbers. Keep in mind, when they talk about putting some of the young kids in those centers, not all of them are being separated. Some of them are coming alone as Ed said a few minutes ago -- some of them are coming on their own. So it's not a matter that every single child that we have in those centers are being separated because some of them are coming alone.

Keep in mind that under the law, you can separate a child if that person -- the adult, is not the real parent or the custodian because sometimes we see situations where they'll bring a child because they know of the policy that we have over here with children. Or at least what we used to have.

Or if there's a criminal offense and -- but they're using this zero tolerance to separate. And that's an area that I think we need to look at.

WHITFIELD: So Congressman, currently the President is placing the blame on Democrats saying, you know, we can work together with some kind of legislation. At the same time, there are others who argue that the President has the power to change this practice by the stroke of a pen.

And then we heard from the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is citing a bible verse in defending this practice of separating families. So which is it? Who has the power to either alter, change, end this practice or do something different?

CUELLAR: Well, first of all, the President can do that. I mean the President's so good at doing certain things and shifting the blame over. I mean we don't need to fact check him. I think we know that he does that more frequently than anybody I've ever seen. So he can make that shift --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Is it your view -- is it your view that he's using this as potentially leverage in what's to come of any immigration bill, any efforts of getting the wall built that he wants?

CUELLAR: He focuses on a 14th century solution called the wall. And I -- I wish he would understand that there are ways that we can secure a country a lot better than using that 14th century solution called the wall. He is so caught up, so obsessed with this wall that he just won't go beyond that.

So he just puts the blame on the Democrats because we're not agreeing on that wall. We want to see strong border security. But darn it, there's a smart way of doing this. And if you keep going back to the past thinking that a wall is going to be the only way to solve this, you just don't understand it.

Forty percent of the people that we have here in the United States came here through a legal visa permit, and they overstayed their visa -- that wall's not going to stop them.

You want to stop drugs -- did you know that the DEA's latest report shows that most drugs come through ports of entry. WHITFIELD: Ok.

CUELLAR: So a wall is not going to stop it. We have to be smart on how we do it. Now --

WHITFIELD: Congressman --

CUELLAR: -- if we're going to do immigration reform, it's got to be bipartisan. But to say here's the immigration bill that we have. We Republicans are going to write it. You Democrats sign on so it can become bipartisan. It doesn't work that way.

WHITFIELD: Ok.

CUELLAR: Bipartisanship means we both sit down, give and take, and get it done and pass it through a bipartisan vote instead of the Hastert rule which is a majority, the majority of the Republicans in the House. That is not bipartisanship.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Henry Cuellar -- we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much for joining us.

CUELLAR: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up -- no pardons at least not yet; what Rudy Giuliani is saying about how the President could react to prosecutions in the Russia probe.

Plus, Paul Manafort behind bars as Trump's legal team says he can challenge any subpoena from Mueller. What's the new strategy?

[11:14:08] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: President Trump's former campaign chairman is in a Virginia jail this morning about 90 miles outside of Washington, D.C. Paul Manafort's bail was revoked yesterday by the federal judge in his foreign lobbying trial after he was also charged with witness tampering.

President Trump trying to distance himself from a man who was front and center in his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel -- I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. With Manafort in jail, the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is talking pardons, specifically if and when the President would grant them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:20:00] RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: My advice to the President of the United States as his lawyer, not as a government lawyer, is no pardons. It would completely change the momentum that we have right now because it's very strong right now. You can see the polls moving in the President's favor and against Mueller.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Then why did you suggest it?

GIULIANI: I didn't suggest it. I said he shouldn't pardon anybody. The President said to me he shouldn't pardon anybody. What I said was after the investigation is over then it has to be considered as a governmental matter, not by me.

And what the history has been is these people -- these things get cleaned up. Ford did it. Reagan did it. Carter did it. Clinton did it. And Bush did it in political investigations.

CUOMO: So you're saying after the probe is over, it may be cleaned up with any pardons --

GIULIANI: If people were unfairly prosecuted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. I want to talk about this with my panel now. Joey Jackson is a CNN legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney. Matt Viser is a CNN political analyst and deputy Washington bureau chief for "The Boston Globe". Good to see you both.

All right. So Joey, let me begin with you. So what did you think of Giuliani's remarks?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Giuliani is advising on pardons, the President is giving pardons, and the President we know is his own person. If this is not a signal to all those who are embroiled in this investigation, who are either under indictment or about to be under indictment, I don't know what is.

Stay the course, there's historical precedent, right, you heard him say, for pardons being issued by various other presidents. Support our president -- you've seen him give pardons before. Scooter Libby, you've seen him give -- you know, Dinesh D'Souza -- we've got your back. And so I think that's the signal I take that it's very much on the President's mind.

Final thing is that you saw, and we heard, right -- Fredricka, you played the clip from the President. And his refrain -- it's very unfair, witch hunt. You go back 12 years. So I think that certainly sets the stage to justify to the populace that a pardon would be warranted.

WHITFIELD: So Matt -- is this the President just kind of throwing people off that, you know, Manafort, you know, he wasn't really part, he wasn't really a part of the campaign, yet he was there for more than four months, and he had a pretty instrumental role. Is this the President trying to distance himself at least for now from Manafort? But then later, there could be something cooking?

MATT VISER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean he has always -- he's had this line about Manafort, you know, not playing an important role in his campaign for quite -- for the past eight months really since Manafort was first indicted on these charges, which just is not true.

Manafort played an important role, he was at the top of Trump's campaign for a good five months. And during a vital period where he was trying to secure the nomination and -- and ensure that he was the nominee.

WHITFIELD: Yes. He was front and center. I mean he really was taking to all the airwaves. He was speaking for the candidate. And -- and there was an inference that he was bringing some real organization to the campaign and the messaging.

VISER: Yes. And so I think his idea that he was not a part of the campaign or not an important part of the campaign is -- is factually untrue.

And I think -- I agree with Joey that this does seem to be sending a message, the talk of pardons, to both Manafort and Michael Cohen. This came on a day when Manafort is put in jail, and where Michael Cohen is increasingly talking about being open to talking with federal investigators.

So it -- it is a message to those two individuals that the President could potentially take care of you down the road. So Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, keep that in mind -- sort of the underlying message.

WHITFIELD: And the President tweeted out just a short time ago on the report by the inspector general into the Clinton e-mails saying "The I.G. Report totally destroys James Comey and all of his minions including the great lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who started the disgraceful witch hunt against so many innocent people. It will go down as a dark and dangerous period in American history."

So let me ask you both whether Trump's legal team now believes that they can challenge any subpoena by the special counsel because of that inspector general's report. Joey -- you first.

JACKSON: Well, you know, it's broader than that -- Fredricka. And it's about getting the narrative out there and about sustaining a narrative that's viable, workable, and that the American people will support.

Our discussion today is as much legal as it is political. Remember, the only way you're going to get the President is in the event that you indict him. You can't indict him while he is the President, meaning he has to be impeached.

As long as you have a Republican Party controlling the House -- may or may not change in the midterms -- and a Republican Party in the Senate, the President I would argue is immune, right because you have to vote articles of impeachment out of the Congress -- that is the House of Representatives. And then, right, by majority, then two- thirds, which is I mean really impractical of the Senate.

[11:24:57] And hearken you back, since Giuliani's talking history -- let me briefly, if you remember the Clinton impeachment, not one Democratic senator voted to impeach Bill Clinton.

And so this is about the President driving the narrative, talking about a witch hunt, talking about no collusion, talking about unfairness so the American people can say this is nonsense, let's get by it, and there will be no political will in the Congress to do anything to him at all.

WHITFIELD: Matt?

VISER: I mean I think the President's focus on the I.G. report takes, you know, suggestions that it says things that it doesn't. It is damaging to James Comey. I mean, the I.G. report was fairly critical of James Comey but it doesn't get into the Russia investigation.

It doesn't exonerate the President from the things that Bob Mueller is looking into. And it also suggests that the person who was harmed by James Comey's actions was Hillary Clinton, you know, in the investigation.

So I do think that the President -- there are things that he can seize on the I.G. report. But he's suggesting that it says things that it does not say.

WHITFIELD: Joey Jackson, Matt Viser -- thanks, gentlemen.

JACKSON: Thank you -- Fredricka.

VISER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, new signs Michael Cohen could be closer to flipping as federal agents piece together shredded documents seized from his home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:45]

WHITFIELD: All right. Pressure is mounting on the president's former lawyer and self-declared fixer, Michael Cohen. Investigators have pieced together 16 pages worth of shredded documents collected in the raid on Cohen's home, office, and hotel room.

According to a source, Cohen is telling family and friends he's willing to cooperate with the feds. Despite everything, he's not hiding. He ventured out, facing the cameras on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael, are you going to cooperate with prosecutors? Are you concerned at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wish you luck, Mr. Cohen.

MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER LAWYER: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got out of jail? Awesome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on Cohen's legal battle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney and fixer, hinting to friends and family he may cooperate with federal investigators in an effort to alleviate pressure, according to a CNN source.

In part because he is said to be feeling isolated by his longtime friend, Donald Trump. A source close to Cohen says the possibility of criminal charges are taking a major toll on his family, and they are his top priority. This could mean trouble for the president. Trump called Cohen a good friend and expressed little concern about him flipping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cohen might flip?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I did nothing wrong. You have to understand, this would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong.

GINGRAS: In April, not long after the FBI seized more than 3.5 million records from Cohen's home, office, and hotel, Trump tweeted this, "most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible witch hunt and dishonest media."

But those close to the president spoke differently earlier this week when news broke about Cohen's plans to switch attorneys handling his case. A possible signal of a new legal strategy. This is disturbing, said one Trump ally to CNN, he is facing the end of a barrel, said another about Cohen.

Cohen's current attorneys reached a crucial deadline in their fight to get a first look at the files taken in the April raid to determine if they fall under attorney-client privilege. The feds are investigating Cohen's business practices and personal financial dealings, including the payment he made to porn star porn star, Stormy Daniels, on Trump's behalf just weeks before the election.

Daniels accuses the president of an affair in 2006 which Trump denies. And an attempt by Cohen to silence Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, from talking to the press has been rejected for now.

The order claimed Avenatti could jeopardize Cohen's chances at a fair trial, citing his more than 120 media appearances. Avenatti called the motion an attack on the first amendment.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: They want to intimidate people, shut them up. It doesn't matter if you are a judge, the press, or an attorney. They don't like people that speak the truth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Brynn Gingras.

All right. Coming up, President Trump has a history of praising dictators and strong men from Putin to Duterte. Is he taking it too far with Kim Jong-un?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:38:41]

WHITFIELD: All right. Days after that historic summit, President Trump and Kim Jong-un are planning to speak by phone tomorrow after the president revealed he gave the North Korean leader a direct phone number. The news comes as the president defends a bizarre remark that he made while praising the dictator and the way North Koreans treat him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hey, he's the head of a country, and I mean, he's the strong head, don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And to be clear, Kim's people sit up at attention because they fear imprisonment and murder. According to a 2016 report from the Institute for National Security Strategy, Kim ordered 340 people to be executed in his first five years, about 140 were government officials.

Maybe that's why President Trump tried to backtrack a bit later claiming he was being sarcastic. You'd be excused for not doing that because his comment comes after a week of praising the North Korean dictator. Take a listen --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT 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. Loves his people. He loves his country. His country does love him. His people have a great fervor. I think that he even wants to do a great job for North Korea. He wants to do what's right.

[11:40:05] He was really very gracious. I think he trusts me, and I trust him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, CNN political commentator and senior columnist at "The Daily Beast" Matt Lewis, and national security reporter for the "Washington Post," John Hudson. All right, good to see you both.

All right. So, Matt, you first, the president said he was being sarcastic. I mean, it's hard to believe that this was under a week ago that all of this kind of began because there has been so much.

That whole comment about, you know, they sit up at attention remark, you know, knowing -- most people know that, you know, North Koreans have been starved, many have been put into camps, and we know there have been many who have been executed. Did the president perhaps just forget about those things when he made this --

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He doesn't care. He doesn't really care about it. He likes if you you're nice to him. If you suck up to him. Look, I think a couple things -- one, if this was a normal president, we might cut him slack.

He misspoke, it was -- you know, Donald Trump has a pattern not just of saying great things about this dictator but about saying great things about other authoritarians including Vladimir Putin. He likes strong men, he likes authoritarian.

So, this is a pattern. There's a couple problematic things about it. I mean, first, we luckily live in a country, America, that has these strong institutions that hold powerful people accountable.

But one wonders what if Donald Trump, what if we didn't have the strong institutions here to keep our powerful elected officials sort of in their lane? What would Donald Trump do if he could? That's one thing I wonder.

The second thing, I think this betrays the notion that Donald Trump doesn't believe in what I would consider to be American exceptionalism. You know, part of American exceptionalism isn't just that we're more powerful than other countries. It's that we actually hold ourselves to a higher standard.

You know, Reagan called the Soviets the evil empire partially because we wanted to have this moral authority. We don't have that anymore. Donald Trump, it's about power. It has nothing to do with virtue, with the rule of law, or with anything that might be considered moral authority.

WHITFIELD: And John, the president also said that, you know, he's solved the problem. Problem solved with North Korea. This is the president in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You remember the sit down with Barack Obama, I think he will admit this, he said the biggest problem that the United States has and by far the most dangerous problem, and he said to me that we've ever had because of nuclear, is North Korea. Now that was shortly before I entered office. I have solved that problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. What do you think he means?

JOHN HUDSON, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, so on one end, there was a high degree of fear and uncertainty just after Donald Trump took office with all of the fire and fury rhetoric, vowing to totally destroy North Korea. So, there is sort of a general consensus that it is better that they are talking instead of bombing.

But in terms of resolving the issue, you know, anyone who has looked at the length of time it takes to get a full-scale nonproliferation, denuclearization deal, it's going to take years and years and years. This is an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

It involves ICBMs and warheads, we don't even know where they are. So, none of that has actually taken place yet, very thin details were released in the joint statement in Singapore, what they agreed upon.

But it's going to take years and years, and there's been no sort of concrete steps that have been taken yet to even begin that denuclearization process or even a clear understanding that the United States and North Korea have the same understanding of denuclearization. There's a lot of vagaries right now. So, there's -- they're a long way to come.

WHITFIELD: Or even the same understanding of what took place when the two men met because we're getting different versions, you know, from both sides. So, Matt, the "Washington Post" reported more details about that summit including this stunning photograph about Trump watching North Korean television.

So, this is how he reportedly reacted to it -- and I'm quoting now, "He joked that even the administration, friendly Fox News, was not as lavish in its praise as the state tv anchor, one of the people added, and that maybe she should get a job on U.S. television instead."

LEWIS: This is just a continuation of the last question you asked me which is to say Donald Trump does not have an appreciation for the American system, for, you know, our liberal democracy. He wants to live in a world where he is basically the king and where the powerful, smartest, best and brightest person in the president doesn't run up against opposition.

Actually, our system, I believe, that one -- this is a feature, not a bug. We don't want presidents or powerful people to really get to do whatever they want to do, right. We believe in competition, we believe in checks and balances, we believe in pitting ambition against ambition.

[11:45:10] It's not a great idea even if Ronald Reagan, the greatest president of my lifetime, I don't -- you know, I wouldn't have wanted him to be able to just have cart blanche authority to do whatever he wants for a variety of reasons.

I mean, absolute power corrupts absolutely for one, and the other is just sort of the wisdom of crowds. We have a system where we get the best by having these fights over ideas. Donald Trump doesn't believe in that. He doesn't want that kind of America. He -- he wants to basically have the kind of power that authoritarians have --

WHITFIELD: Dictatorship?

LEWIS: Yes, essentially. I mean, I hate to say that. That sounds so hyperbolic, but it's actually true in this case.

WHITFIELD: I'm hearing -- a lot of -- many people have used different language to describe the pattern of I guess thought process from dictatorship or whether, you know, this is, you know, monarchy or whether he's king, et cetera.

But John, this latest, you know, propaganda video that is now playing in North Korean state television actually features President Trump saluting one of Kim Jong-un's generals. You know, how valuable will that kind of imagery be for North Korea? There he is, the commander- in-chief who is now saluting someone else there in North Korea.

HUDSON: Yes. Well, absolutely. So much of the summit, the salute is part of it. But really the entire pageantry surrounding the summit of North Korea's leader meeting the president of the United States and the two appearing to be equals at a bilateral summit. This is -- that's going to be on repeat ad nauseam in the sort of North Korean state tv channels. So that -- that will, you know, be repeated and this was something that was -- that U.S. officials were aware of and fearful of --

WHITFIELD: And wouldn't they have prepped him? I mean, you're -- he would have had that kind of instruction from his advisers before the meeting. These are some of the things, body language, you know, verbally cues that you shouldn't take, that you shouldn't engage in, that you want to stay away from for this very reason.

HUDSON: Certainly, there is the common understanding that you don't want to be seen as being overly flattering to Kim Jong-un. I think it's fair to say that that message was not delivered or communicated to the president. I mean, this entire summit had gratuitous praise and flattery involved.

And we should hold open the idea that this is really actually how Donald Trump believes that he can use the force of his personality to sort of secure concessions that haven't been done before.

WHITFIELD: Except if that's his method and that's how he's been doing business, that perhaps those who know him have said perhaps this is where he thinks it's applicable as the leader of the free world, as well. Matt Lewis, John Hudson, good to see you both. Thank you so much.

All right. Coming up, we're live in Moscow where the World Cup is underway. Why Putin is winning big time no matter what happens with Team Russia on the field.

Plus, a viral video of a bear, a real bear, celebrating a World Cup victory for Russia. Now that has animal rights activists sounding an alarm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:53:02]

WHITFIELD: All right. The world's most watched sporting event, the World Cup, is under way right now in Russia. Regardless of how team Russia performs on the field, the fact that Russia is hosting the event is a big enough win for President Vladimir Putin.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live for us in Moscow's Red Square. Good to see you. So, how big is this for this country right now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, I think it's absolutely huge. I mean, Russia has, as you know, a lot of negative publicity that's generated itself in fairness, whether it's the annexation of Crimea or meddling in the U.S. election. It's had years of really negative news that it wants to put behind it.

So, it's hoping at least for the next few weeks of this tournament the world can put that behind it and focus on the football. They want this to be about sport and not about politics for the first time in many, many years. This country is so far, with a few exceptions, it's going off quite well.

WHITFIELD: Except the folks of PETA are a little distracted by all of the fun fanfare of football and instead they're looking at this picture of this bear playing an instrument made popular at the 2010 World Cup and now it's back. By way of this live bear being, you know, brought through the streets there in a convertible. What do you know about Russia's response, whether the people there, you know, are outraged, like it, what?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, you know, unfortunately, Fredricka, this is an all too common sight in Russia. Particularly on festive occasions or when it's some kind of public gathering. You often see bears or birds of prey or other exotic animals like monkeys being brought out. It's sort of quite medieval in that sense.

But you're right, this has caused particular outrage around the world. The people for the ethical treatment of animals released a statement from Germany saying the cruel and degrading sight of a bear being forced to play a musical instrument should not be what the world associates with Moscow and the World Cup.

[11:55:11] They've called on the Russian authorities to track this bear down and its owner, to confiscate the bear, to put it in a sanctuary where it can live out its life in peace. WHITFIELD: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow, thank you so much.

Coming up, Rudy Giuliani attacking former Vice President Joe Biden, calling him a moron and a mentally deficient idiot. Is Trump's attorney doing more harm than good? Hear what Giuliani has to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Hello, again, and thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.