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Trump Calls for End to Due Process for Illegal Immigrants; Thousands of Immigrant Children Still Separated from Parents; Federal Prosecutors Cancel Interview with Stormy Daniels; Harley Davidson Relocating Manufacturing Overseas Due to U.S. Tariffs; Meeting in the Works for Trump and Putin; U.S. Officials Trying To Fill In The Blanks After North Korea Summit. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. That's it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. No process, no regrets. As immigration confusion grows, President Trump vows to deny due process to people crossing the border illegally and he denies regretting his executive order ending family separation.

Public shaming. The president takes to Twitter to blast the restaurant that asked his press secretary to leave and the Democratic congresswoman encouraging supporters to harass Trump administration officials.

Stormy stalled. Federal prosecutors cancel their planned interview with Stormy Daniels. Was it out of fear of media attention, as her lawyer claims?

And driven away. Iconic American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson is moving some of its production out of the United States to avoid tariffs sparked by President Trump's trade war.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The White House now defending a startling tweet by President Trump, who called for an end to due process for people caught crossing the board illegally.

We'll talk about that and much more with Senator Tom Udall of the Foreign Relations Committee. And our correspondents, specialists and analysts, they are standing by.

First, let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's in Columbia, South Carolina, right now. Jim, the president's hardline on immigration appears to be getting harder?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Trump. President Trump will be campaigning here in South Carolina later on this evening. It is no secret, he is going to hammer the issue of immigration right up until the mid-term elections coming up this fall.

And even with families being separated with their children at the border, the president believes this issue is a winner for the Republican Party.


ACOSTA (voice-over): As his aides try to down out questions from reporters, President Trump pushed back on any notion that he regrets signing an executive order that was supposed to halt child separations at the border.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The executive order was great. It was something that I felt we had to do. We want children staying together. The law has been this law for a long period of time.

ACOSTA: But the president doubled down on his hardline stance, declaring he wants to set up a system that sends migrants back to their home countries, no matter their circumstances.

TRUMP: We want a system where, when people come in illegally, they have to go out. And a nice simple system that works. We want strong borders, and we want no crime. Strong borders, we want no crime. The Democrats want open borders and they don't care about crime. And they don't care about our military.

ACOSTA: Describing migrants as invaders, the president said he wants to deny due process rights to border crossers, tweeting, "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came."

The tough talk was echoed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who didn't close the door on the possibility that more children could be separated from their migrant parents.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president has made this clear. We're going to continue to prosecute those adults who enter here illegally. We are going to do everything in our power, however, to avoid separating families.

ACOSTA: The president revealed part of the reason for his crackdown on the border that's led to the separations of more than 2000 children. He thinks it's good politics.

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, they just want -- they want to use the issue -- and I like the issue for election, too. Our issue is strong borders, no crime.

ACOSTA: A few of Mr. Trump's fellow Republicans wonder how the president will solve the immigration issue while he's using it to beat up on top Democrats.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: When the president says that and calls them clowns and losers, how does he suspect -- or expect the Democrats to sit down and work with Republicans on these issues? And so words matter. What the president says matters, and he ought to knock that off.

ACOSTA: Democrats are punching back, booing administration officials as they dine out in Washington. One restaurant in Virginia refused to serve press secretary Sarah Sanders, drawing praise from Democratic lawmaker Maxine Waters.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome any more, anywhere.

ACOSTA: The president seemed to relish the fight, tweeting, "Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low-I.Q. person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the face the Democrat Party. Be careful what you wish for, Max."

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable. America is a great country, and our ability to find solutions despite those disagreements is what makes us unique.


ACOSTA: Now one sign of just how far these separated children have been removed from parents, consider where we are in South Carolina, Wolf, there are a handful of those separated children who are being cared for in foster homes in this state, more than a thousand miles away.

Of course, President Trump will be here later on tonight, campaigning for the man who wants to be the governor of South Carolina for another four years. That is Henry McMaster. And as you could hear hinds me, Wolf, the crowd is very riled up. We have about a couple of thousand people in this room so far. They are letting the press corps here know exactly how they feel about what we're doing here, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta on the scene for us. Thank you very much.

Despite the president's order ending family separation, thousands of children still have not been reunited with their parents. Our national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is near the border in McAllen, Texas,for us.

Miguel, we're seeing a growing number of protests. Is that right?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, here on the border, there is fear. There is confusion. There is anger over this policy. And now the administration trying to figure out how to make it better, how to bring those people back together or just not fix the policy at all.




MARQUEZ (voice-over): Anger growing on the Texas-Mexico border and across the country over the president's zero-tolerance immigration policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let them go! Let them go!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let them go! Let them go!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let them go! Let them go!

MARQUEZ: Zero tolerance equals children separated from parents, despite the president's executive order to end the separations, thousands of kids and their parents remain disconnected.

This man, just out of lock-up in El Paso, has no idea where his daughter is or how he'll find her.

"I don't know if I'm going to see her again," he says. "I need to see her and be with her. She's the only child I have."

MARQUEZ: In McAllen, responses to the first lady's fashion choice when she was seen wearing a jacket bearing the message "I really don't care. Do U?" Assurances today many here do care.

SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, CATHOLIC CHARITIES: They're scared. They're frightened. And they know that -- they're in a prison environment. and so they're not sure what's going to happen.

MARQUEZ: Sister Norma Pimentel has worked resettled immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley for decades.

PIMENTEL: Any person in any country that feels threatened and afraid for their life, they should have the right to go to a country and ask for protection.

MARQUEZ: But the president, as he has for years, insists there is a crisis of criminal immigrants flooding across the border.

TRUMP: We will have millions and millions of people pouring through our country with all of the problems that would cause, with crime --

MARQUEZ: The president now suggesting in a tweet immigrants seeking asylum should be turned back with no opportunity to make their case.

(on camera): Is it illegal to seek asylum?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not illegal to seek asylum. Stripping immigrants from due process, it's illegal and unconstitutional.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The government making its best case that children separated from their parents are being cared for. In this video provided to CNN by Health and Human Services, because they won't allow independent media to record in the facilities, the Torneo (ph) facility in El Paso Country portrays an upbeat atmosphere with kids playing, eating and staying in tents. There is no sound along with the video.


MARQUEZ: Now I just spoke to a state politician who says that she is assured that the government has the information, is tracking both the parents and the kids. But they have no ability to bring them together or perhaps don't want to bring them together.

One thing she has been told is that the government may wait until the asylum claims of the parents are handled before trying to reunite them. That could take weeks, if not months. And as Jim said, some of these kids are thousands of miles away from where the parents are here in McAllen, Texas -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Miguel Marquez on the border with Mexico. Thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is joining us. He's a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: Real pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. So you visited that Torneo facility and CNN wasn't allowed to bring a camera inside. The Department of Health and Human Services, as you know, they've been releasing their own official video. We're showing some of it right now.

Does this government hand-out really reflect the conditions you saw there?

UDALL: I don't think there's a real argument on conditions. I think the thing that worries me the most is the scars these children are going to bear from being separated from their families.

I mean, you talk to all of the mental health professionals, what we're talking about is very serious psychological damage, things like that, that can last a lifetime.

[17:10:10] And so I went down there to talk to the children. I got in on the second day to talk to the children and asked them how they were doing. You know, many of them have been held two and three and four months. So this is a long time to be away from parents.

And throughout that day, not just at that facility, I saw very young children that came over the bridge to the United States alone as young as 3 years old.

BLITZER: Alone? How could they -- just walk by themselves, 3 years old?

UDALL: Walked across the bridge. Three years old to the bridge into El Paso.

And the customs protection people that run the port of entry, they really don't have the facilities to take care of children. So we saw -- I think it was about eight children in a room that was used to interview people for asylum, with mats on the floor, taking a nap when we were there in the afternoon. Some of them were awake. And they were going to be processed and then moved over to the Health and Human Services Department refugee agency.

BLITZER: I'm really glad you were allowed to speak to at least a few of those kids. What sort of access in general did the government give you? What are your immediate concerns right now after visiting that one facility?

UDALL: Well, my big concern is for the children and the way being separated could really impact them.

The other thing I worry about is there's no accountability in terms of this separation. You know, the president signed an order, but there's no plan. The cabinet secretaries haven't stepped forward. I'm unaware of any hearings that are going to be held to get those cabinet secretaries that have responsibility up here.

I think the president should go down to the border and see the chaos that he's caused in the system.

One other thing is a former federal prosecutor that used to work in the United States attorney's office in New Mexico, prosecuting these cases, I'm very worried, throwing all your prosecution resources at misdemeanor crimes. There are very serious crimes that are going to go unattended if you throw all of your resources in -- and in the years I've watched this, we always wanted serious crime prosecuted, and you only have limited resources. So that's a big issue, is whether -- he says no crime.

Well, if you're going to prosecute people for misdemeanors, then you're going to let loose the bank robbers, the murderers, all the other cases the U.S. attorney's office handles, both in Indian country and in the state of New Mexico and across the country there on the border. You're going to let those folks -- you're going to let them go. You're not going to be prosecuting them.

BLITZER: The president is calling for immediate deportations of undocumented immigrants. Quote -- and I'm quoting him now -- "with no judges or court cases necessary."

Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, says you can have -- you can have, she says, due process without judges. Is that really constitutional?

UDALL: I don't think so. I think there are very serious constitutional concerns here. One of the things that was said by an eminent constitutional scholar, is this is a tyrannical power grab. And I think that's a pretty good description of what you have, when you say you're going to do away with judges; you don't care about judges.

And people -- we've always been a country, when people seek asylum, we let them make their case. You know, many of them do not win these cases. Many of them lose the cases and then end up going back to the country. But at least we give them that due process. They get their case heard. If they have a credible threat, they're fleeing violence, they get to make their case.

BLITZER: The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, says the administration still plans to criminally prosecute adults who enter the country illegally. The so-called zero-tolerance policy. But as far as you know, Senator, can an adult really go through that whole process of criminal prosecution without being separated from their child or from their children?

UDALL: Well, the hard part of that is, typically, when the parent is there, they -- and they're being prosecuted, they go into the criminal justice system so they're turned over to the marshal.

The marshal does not have facilities for families. And so the situation the president is moving us towards is a real humanitarian disaster, because we are now going to put families in big camps on military bases. We've never done that in the United States until -- the last time I can remember was the Japanese internment.

And so I think that's not a very good alternative. There are very humane alternatives that have been used before where people show up at court, 99 percent rate of showing up. But this administration decided to abolish those kinds of programs, where you manage the families in a humane way until they get their cases heard.

[17:15:13] BLITZER: Some Trump administration officials are seeing opposition to these policies bleed into their personal lives, as you know, with the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, being asked to leave a restaurant over the weekend in Virginia.

Then Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat, said this. Listen.


WATTERS: And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome any more, anywhere.


BLITZER: The president responded to that, tweeting this, "congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low-I.Q. person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of -- of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful for what you wish for, Max."

Where do you stand on all of this, Senator? UDALL: Well, I think we should tone it down, both sides. Very

unfortunately, you know, if you look at the history of the country, we've had some very negative, tough periods; and the president sets the tone. The president here is setting a very negative tone. I think he should cut that out.

But you can see what happens over and over again. If anybody challenges him, he's a big bully, and he just ramps it up four or five times. And so it makes it very difficult for us in the Congress to try to come together to be civil. I was always taught by my dad to disagree but don't be disagreeable.

What we're having today is warfare that's playing out on your station and other stations around the country, which doesn't help us get to the solutions that we need to have for our country.

BLITZER: And you want Maxine Waters to calm down too, right?

UDALL: Yes, of course. Of course. I don't think it's necessary to be insulting individuals. When I say you can disagree, but you don't have to be disagreeable. You don't have to be insulting. And I -- I really believe that's a lot more of what we need in this country. And I would tell both sides to cut it out on that front.

BLITZER: Senator Udall, thanks so much for joining us.

UDALL: Thank you. Great to be with you, Wolf. Thank you. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Federal prosecutors suddenly cancel their interview with Stormy Daniels. Her lawyer says he knows why.

And the Trump trade war prompts Harley-Davidson to take some drastic action.


[17:22:20] BLITZER: Federal prosecutors have canceled their planned interview with Stormy Daniels, according to her attorney. Our national political reporter, M.J. Lee, is working the story for us.

So what happened, M.J.?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a lot of moving pieces and some pretty heated words over the last 24 hours.

We reported yesterday evening that Daniels would be in New York City today to be interviewed by prosecutors as a part of the Michael Cohen investigation. This meeting was expected to be in advance of Daniels's grand jury testimony, and what we were also told by a source is that Daniels was subpoenaed as a part of that investigation. In response to that subpoena, Daniels has given authorities documentation about the $130,000 hush payment from Cohen that is of such interest to investigators. Now, a few hours after CNN and other outlets reported this, Avenatti

tweeted late last night that investigators canceled the meeting because word got out to the press. He said, quote, "They can't handle a few cameras outside their offices. If they consider this a big deal, how will they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen, let alone handle a trial in such a high-profile matter?"

Now Avenatti -- this is Stormy Daniels's lawyer -- also shared with us an exchange he had with investigators with the Southern District of New York about this cancelation. Here is what Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Ruse wrote to Avenatti, explaining their reasoning for canceling this meeting.

He wrote, quote, "We have learned that you leaked to the press the fact and location of our meeting with your client. Such leaks are inappropriate, in and of themselves, and more importantly, call into question your commitment to maintaining the required confidentiality of the substance of our meeting with your client."

So at this moment, Wolf, it's not clear whether that interview with Stormy Daniels will be rescheduled. Avenatti does tell us, though, that Daniels is still willing to cooperate and testify before a grand jury.

BLITZER: M.J., the Trump Organization has asked for more time to review Michael Cohen's audio files and documents. What can you tell us about that?

LEE: Well, Wolf, as you know, lawyers with the Trump Organization have been very busy the past few weeks going over the millions of files and documents and communications that were seized from Michael Cohen as part of the FBI raid earlier this year.

What they're on the lookout for is anything that might need to be protected under attorney-client privilege, and Judge Wood had set a deadline up for this Wednesday for the Trump Organization to finish reviewing the documents, but now the Trump Organization is saying they need more time.

They say that they received a batch of around 22,000 documents, as well as audio files late last week, and that going through all of those materials will take at least several weeks. So they're asking now for a two-week extension.

The government is opposing that request. They've responded by saying that the Trump Organization should only get a one-week extension maximum.

[17:25:09] It's clear, Wolf, that the government would like to keep the process moving along, and we're still waiting for the judge to weigh in, as well.

I should also quickly note, we have just gotten word that Michael Cohen's lawyers have informed Judge Wood that they have completed going through more than 4 million files that were seized as a part of the raid. They say they've designated over 12,000 files as privileged under attorney-client privilege -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots of legal developments. All right. M.J., thank you very much.

Coming up, I'll speak to Stormy Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, about why federal prosecutors canceled their interview with her.

Plus, President Trump goes on a public shaming spree, attacking his targets on Twitter.


BLITZER: The breaking news. The White House now strongly defending President Trump's latest controversial tweet urging deportations without due process. This comes as the president pushes back on a new report suggesting he was having second thoughts about that executive order he signed the other day ending family separations at the U.S.- Mexico border.

[17:30:50] Let's get analysis from our experts. And Chris Cillizza, listen to the president rejecting that report in "The New York Times."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret signing the executive order?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no. The executive order was great. It was something that I felt we had to do. We want children staying together. There was a false story, fake news in "The New York Times," just the opposite. I wanted to sign that. In fact I was saying yesterday before I read this phony story in "The New York Times" that -- that I was very, very happy that I signed that.


BLITZER: Your analysis?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: I mean, he can say whatever he wants. I don't tend to doubt "The New York Times'" journalism and reporting.

I think you have to remember how we got here, too, Wolf, because Donald Trump said this time last week that no executive order could solve this. Congress alone can fix it. That was Kirstjen Nielsen this time around this time on Monday, last Monday saying that. Well, turns out that an executive order kind of sort of can fix it.

I would point you to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the briefing today. She was asked, "Well, what happens after the 20 days of kids and their family -- and their parents," and she said, "Well, Congress has to fix it."

Well I believe -- and Ron will correct me if I'm wron -- 1986 was the last time we had comprehensive immigration reform. It seems unlikely that in the next seven days it's going to happen. BLITZER: You want to fix that?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. No. Yes, I think, you know, what we've seen, I think, is the Republican majority in the House has repeatedly shown it is unwilling to deal with the issue.

We forget, in 2006 there was a bipartisan majority in the Senate that included a substantial number of Republicans with comprehensive reform. The House Republicans would not take it up.

In 2013, again, a bipartisan majority in the Senate. The House Republicans would not take it up. Eighty-five percent of the House Republicans represent districts where the immigrant share of the population is below the national average. The Republican Party is overwhelmingly centered at this point on the parts of the country that are least touched by immigration and, as a result, I think they are moving toward a position of hardline not only on undocumented immigration but what gets lost is 80 percent -- over 80 percent of the House Republicans last week voted to cut legal immigration by 40 percent. And almost three quarters of the Senate Republicans did that this earlier year.

So the idea that they are going to find a way, I think, as Chris says, quickly to solve this is, you know, is fantastical, especially -- by the way, one other point.

Don't forget, where they start in all of this were the DREAMers. Eighty percent of the country in polls support some kind of legal status for the DREAMers and yet Republicans in the House and the Senate cannot find a way to come together to provide them that protection, at least without attaching it to provisions that are unacceptable to Democrats and many moderates.

BLITZER: Rebecca, the press secretary, she had the first briefing in a week today. It's been a long week, as we all know. What does that say to you, finally she came out and spoke to reporters?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, the waiting period that we've sat through, a week without a press conference, suggests that the White House is not exactly taking a victory lap over what transpired last week over immigration, that it was a difficult, if not terrible week for them from a public relations perspective. And that's no surprise.

But it, you know, also reinforces what we know about the White House and their view of the press. That they don't prioritize these briefings, this public exchange with reporters. And when they do carry out these briefings, it's not necessarily informative, because they're dodging and they're -- they're essentially lying in some cases.

So back to normal today, but certainly, this was not a priority for them last week in light of such bad news for the administration.

BLITZER: And David, the president clearly wants to take some radical steps on all of this. He tweeted over the weekend, "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came."

And then earlier this morning, he tweeted this. "Hiring many thousands of judges and going through a long and complicated legal process is not the way to go. We'll always be dysfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally."

Now, Sarah Sanders at her briefing now, she just said they still could have due process even if they're not allowed to go before a judge or have a legal proceeding.

[17:35:06] DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. That's tricky wording there by the press secretary. Right. Due process means that, even if you're interdicted at the border and taken into custody, and the government does have the right to initiate criminal proceedings against those who don't cross at a port of entry, part of due process means at some point you're going to either have an administrative hearing or a hearing with an administrative judge and be able to claim asylum for some other status. The government can then deny that status, and many people will be denied.

But one of the things that about being a country that has the rule of law is that we don't leave that decision in the hands of the Border Patrol agent on the border doing the interdiction, someone further down the line makes a legal determination.

Wolf, if I can add just one quick point on that. It's that, look, step back bigger picture with the president. He talks about "We don't want these judges. I don't want to fund more judges. We want to save money." This is what being a super power and being the world's largest economy and the world's greatest military power is all about. We don't do things like other podunk-y countries. We find the resources. We find a fair solution, not just, you know, leave it to whatever happens at the border.

BLITZER: The Dow Jones, on another sensitive issue, dropped 328 points today. Harley-Davidson is facing stiff tariffs in the European Union because of this trade war that the president has unleashed. He just tweeted this. Let me read it to you.

"Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the white flag. I fought hard for them, and ultimately, they will not pay tariffs selling to the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 billion. Taxes just to Harley, excuse. Be patient."

Harley-Davidson says they're going to have to build a plant in Europe now so they can avoid all those tariffs.

CILLIZZA: So -- and remember that it's either February or March of 2017. Harley-Davidson was at the White House. Donald Trump did a tour -- saw the motorcycles. This is a great American company. They're coming back.

You know, when you do things like that, if the boomerang comes back around on you, you're going to get days like today.

You know, if you listen to one of his speeches -- he's going to give one later tonight in support of Governor Henry McMaster in South Carolina. He talks a lot about how Chrysler is coming back, Harley- Davidson. If you look -- dig into it, there's scant evidence -- this is an easy one, because it's a direct contradiction of what he said. He's really fudging the facts a lot around all of these companies coming back and reinvesting.

It doesn't mean he's going to stop doing it, because gosh forbid a fact check got in his way. But he really -- he has been doing this sort of thing for a while.

BLITZER: Yes. That was in February of 2017. A month after he took office, he had Harley-Davidson over and now he's got a fight going on with Harley-Davidson and the speaker, who's from Wisconsin. Of course, Harley-Davidson based in Wisconsin. Lots of unhappy folks.

BLITZER: Coming up, preparations are now underway for a potential meeting between President Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. So what's on the agenda?

Plus, after a summit that produced a handshake but few specifics, U.S. officials are trying to nail down some tangible commitments from North Korea.


[17:42:47] BLITZER: President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, is heading to Russia potentially paving the way for a pleating between the President Trump and Vladimir Putin next month.

Our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is joining us now from Moscow with the latest.

Fred, so what's the significance of this trip?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's hugely significant to the Russians, Wolf. It's interesting in the past couple of days, that the Russians really are pretty tight-lipped about when John Bolton was going to come here and what was going to be talked about.

And the optics are pretty much clear. It's the Americans who are coming to the Russians. The Russians have this wait-and-see attitude. It's the Americans who are coming to them and trying to make this summit happen.

And it's a pattern, Wolf, that we've been seeing over the past couple of weeks, especially since President Trump alienated some of the U.S.'s main allies at a recent G-7 summit, saying he believe that Russia should rejoin the G-7 to make it the G-8 again.

The Russians then said, "Look, we don't really need the G-7." So the Russians are showing they don't need this but it is the Americans that are making the advances. At the same time, for the Russians themselves, this meeting would have huge significance as they, of course, try to get concessions from President Trump. For instance, sanctions relief from some of those sanctions that have really been biting the Russian economy, Wolf.

BLITZER: -- Fred, see a Trump meeting with Putin potentially as vindication?

PLEITGEN: Well, look, I think one of the things that the Russians are seeing, if you look at Russian government and you also look at some of the Russians state media, is that they believe that there are some rifts between the U.S. and its traditional allies, between the Trump administration, for instance, and the Europeans and the Canadians, as well. And they believe that that's something that could strengthen Russia's position.

At the same time, there's always been the belief here in Moscow that President Trump does one thing and that some of the people in his administration may see things differently, that he wants better relations with Russia, whereas maybe some don't and that's something that the Russians believe that they could use to their advantage.

I want you to listen into a clip from Russian state media from a show called "Sunday Evening" where they said exactly that. Here's what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Trump and his team regularly go different paths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes. They've been keeping him away from this meeting for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): And maybe Trump has his own agenda. So if Bolton brings his own agenda, there is no chance. But if he brings Trump's agenda, here we have options.



PLEITGEN: So clearly, they want all this stuff -- and when those two leaders sit down, of course there are going to be some concrete themes that are going to be on the table, Wolf.

Syria, no doubt, will be one of them.

Then, of course, also the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea. Of course, one of the other things we're going to wait and see is whether or not Russia's meddling in the 2016 election will also be a point that will be talked about, Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot at stake. Thanks so much, Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.

Coming up, as the Trump administration pushes North Korea on denuclearization, U.S. officials are eager to extract some firm commitments. So what is on the wish list?


[17:50:20] BLITZER: Tonight, a new push to nail down specifics in the wake of this month's historic summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Our Brian Todd is working this story for us.

So, Brian, what commitments are U.S. officials hoping to extract from the North Koreans?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.S. officials are being very tight-lipped about that tonight, Wolf, but analysts say the Americans are likely to, at least, ask the North Koreans to disclose where their major nuclear facilities are.

Now, despite President Trump declaring recently that there is no nuclear threat from North Korea, the White House has just extended a decade-old executive order stating that there is a national emergency because of North Korea's nuclear threat.

Tonight, the hard work of really getting North Korea to give up those weapons is really beginning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the pressure is on for the Trump administration to get real results from Kim Jong-un. Will he really give up his nuclear weapons?

A senior U.S. Defense official tells CNN the U.S. will soon present North Korea with specific requests for what the Trump team wants Kim to do to start to denuclearize.

DR. PATRICK CRONIN, SENIOR ADVISOR AND SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE ASIA- PACIFIC SECURITY PROGRAM, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: This is the future. Two weeks after the summit, we are beginning to fill in the crucial details, without which that document means nothing.

TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials are not saying tonight what those specific requests will be, but analysts outline where the U.S. could start.

CRONIN: Give us the disclosure of your major facilities and your major nuclear weapon assets. Not necessarily full disclosure even, but let's start with the high-value assets.

The second thing they do after disclosure is they start locking up and verifying, through international inspections, major weapons facilities.

Thirdly, we need to start acquiring missiles and nuclear warheads. To the extent that they want to disclose them, we now need to lock them down.

TODD (voice-over): But analysts say if the Kim family's pattern through decades of these deals plays out with this agreement, the North Koreans will stall, deceive, delay, and possibly cheat on the process.

And if they do comply with anything, they'll want something in return.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": The North Koreans would like to see a reduction in U.S. service personnel on the peninsula. They'd also like to see a reduction in the sanctions that we're now imposing on the north. They would like to see, I'm sure, some investment.

There's all sorts of things North Korea will ask for, and they will ask for a lot because they want to delay this process.

TODD (voice-over): That possibility of delays and dodges from Pyongyang could be why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells CNN's Elise Labott the administration won't put a timeline on reaching crucial milestones.

This is a process that will be grinding, analysts say. It could have a historic payoff with a less threatening North Korea. Or like all past agreements with this regime, it could break down.

CRONIN: What happens is that the process gets very messy. It gets bogged down. Threats are issued. There's a resumption of some more pressure but not maximum pressure yet. Eventually, somebody has to make the call that the deal is broken.


TODD: Now, if some key aspects of this nuclear deal fall through and the deal is eventually declared dead, analysts fear that President Trump, at that point, is going to simply lose his patience and not only continue a program of maximum pressure against North Korea but that he also might consider a pre-emptive military strike.

And in that event, he'd probably be going it alone, Wolf, without the support of Japan, South Korea. Certainly without the support of China, Wolf.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, Brian, there's some concern the United States and South Korea are giving up some of their best military leverage in the -- in this process that's ongoing right now.

TODD: There is real concern about that tonight, Wolf. The U.S. has announced, of course, that military exercises with South Korea scheduled for the next three months have been canceled.

Analysts are worried that America is giving up a lot of its military readiness in that region by doing that, especially in light of the fact that North Korea has not drawn down any of its forces from the DMZ and has not canceled any of its summer military drills. They have a million man army at the ready. BLITZER: Yes, a big one indeed. All right, thanks so much. Brian

Todd reporting.

Breaking news coming up. The White House defending President Trump's call to end due process for people caught crossing the border illegally.

Then, I will talk to Stormy Daniels' lawyer about a surprise move by federal prosecutors. Why did they cancel an interview with the porn star?


BLITZER: Happening now, still in limbo. As more than 2,000 children are waiting to be reunited with their parents, President Trump is digging in on his immigration crackdown. Will he order deportations without due process?

Muddying the waters. The President insults a Democratic congresswoman who is urging supporters to harass Trump administration officials. What did he mean when he said Maxine Waters should be careful what she wishes for?

Stormy cancellation. Porn star Stormy Daniels was scheduled to be interviewed by prosecutors in the Michael Cohen investigation until they abruptly canceled. I'll ask her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, for his take on why the meeting was called off.

[17:59:52] And feeling contempt. A new deadline comes and goes in connection with the Russia investigation as the House Intelligence Committee Chairman demands information from the Justice Department. Will Devin Nunes make good on his threat to hold the Deputy Attorney General in contempt of Congress?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm --