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Trump Declassifies Russia Docs, Officials Work on Redactions; North and South Korea Sign Peace Agreements at Summit; U.S.-China Trade War Escalates After New Round of Tariffs; Trump Touring Florence Devastation in North Carolina. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:34:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump standing by his unprecedented order to declassify some documents and text messages from the Russia investigation despite concerns from the intelligence community. Now the president says he's doing this for transparency. Intel officials are now working with justice and law enforcement officials to prepare new versions of the documents with redactions.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who serves of course in the House Intelligence Committee. Good to have you with us here. Listen, you have --


HILL: Good morning. You've seen the FISA documents that are included in this request and you said before all the rules were followed in obtaining this warrant. So if all the rules were followed, nothing to worry about here, why not let that information be out there?

SWALWELL: Yes. This is quite lawless of the president to selectively declassify. You know, he's only putting forward to the American people what he believes helps him completely and recklessly risking sources and methods who could be put at risk and have their lives at risk.

So, you know, transparency is great but he doesn't want to put out the full story or all of the evidence that exists against him.

[11:35:06] He just wants to put out what he thinks helps him and that is a very destructive way too act as a person being investigated himself and to order your own intelligence communities to do so.

HILL: In terms of your concerns about protecting sources, classified information. Now we know that they're being poured over in terms of redactions. Given that, there will obviously be some redactions here before they're released. Do we still need to be concerned about there? Wouldn't those be taken out?

SWALWELL: Well, then the president is ordering complete declassification. And he has seen -- who knows if he reads this stuff. He has, I hope, been told that, you know, there are sources and methods in these documents and people have come forward to the government in many different cases and cooperated hoping that there's trust and that they will not be outed. Otherwise, we can't count on receiving information in the future.

But, you know, the truth is, I've seen these documents, this president is O for declassification. Every time he tries to declassify something, it ends up backfiring. I'm more concerned though about the precedent of a person being investigated, being able to order declassification selectively because he thinks it helps him. That's not how a rule of law country works.

HILL: We know that the president though has said, listen, this is all about transparency. If it was broader, would that work for you? If it wasn't as selective as you say it in your words?

SWALWELL: Well, the problem with how he views transparencies. He thinks that an ongoing investigation should have all of the facts that have come forward so far, just put out into the public. And that's not how investigations work, and you don't let subjects of investigations dictate the terms of investigations.

Now, let me also just say, Erica, the House Intelligence Committee has concluded its investigation. The Republicans on that committee lead by Devin Nunes said that they would release the transcripts to the public, that never happened. So the person who's so interested in transparency, President Trump, has no interest in telling Devin Nunes to put forward all of the evidence we collected.

So again, it -- to me, it seems like it's more self serving. But the larger issue here is it -- is violating the rule of law and the independence of the Department of Justice must show.

HILL: In terms of that, we know how divisive the investigation was in the House obviously. But is that something that you would make a push for in going to Devin Nunes and saying, OK, look, if this is what we're supposed to see, put it out there?

SWALWELL: Well, Chairman Nunes actually, over the weekend on a different network said that he was going to release those transcripts.

HILL: Right.

SWALWELL: And again, we're waiting. And we believe the public will see --

HILL: Right. But have you pushed him for that because he's put that out there? That is my question?


HILL: It's more of going after him and saying, OK, let's see it. And his response to you?

SWALWELL: Yes. Credits of ranking -- credit to Ranking Member Adam Schiff who is pushing for that. He hasn't responded. He won't even look us in the eyes when we try to confront him over these issues. This has been a long standing problem with him.

But, the American people will see if those transcripts are released with what little investigative tools we were given, the concerning contacts, the personal, political, and financial relationships between Donald Trump, his family, his campaign, and his businesses with the Russians, and also what little interest the Republicans have in exploring any of that. I think that's why they're not willing to put those transcripts out there.

HILL: Before we let you go, I just want to get you here about the president's latest attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Saying earlier, I don't have an attorney general. What's your reaction to that?

SWALWELL: He means he doesn't have an attorney general who will protect him and allow him as president to be above the law. The best thing we can do, I believe, is to cement Bob Mueller's role, Bob Mueller's role legislatively to protect him from being fired and then let the president fire the attorney general because I don't think Jeff Sessions should be there either.

But, without that protection for Bob Mueller, firing Sessions would also lead to being able to fire Mueller. The Senate should pass that legislation and cement Mueller's role.

HILL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, we are out of time. I appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks.

HILL: Coming up, South Korea's president calls it a new era of peace with the North. So after historic summit today, is the Korean War over? And what could this mean for the United States? That's next.


[11:43:47] HILL: Could the Korean War finally be over soon after nearly 70 years. This morning, the leaders of North and South Korea signing a wide-ranging peace agreement at their summit in Pyongyang. It includes getting rid of nuclear weapons and stopping some military drills. North Korea also said it would permanently destroy a nuclear facility if the U.S. takes certain steps. Here's how President Trump reacted to the news.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had very good news from North Korea, South Korea. They met and we had some great responses. I got a tremendous letter from Kim Jong-un as you know, it was delivered three days ago. We're making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea.

Prior to my coming into office, a lot of people thought we were going, it was inevitable. We were going to war in North Korea. And now we're -- the relationships I have to tell you, at least on a personal basis, they're very good. It's very much calmed down. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Let's dig a little deeper with our Daily Beast Columnist Gordon Chang who's also the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World". Just give me -- I'm always fascinated by what you really think in these moments so what's your gut on this agreement?

[11:45:01] GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, my gut is that the United States and the international community owe Kim Jong-un the opportunity to do the right thing. But we didn't really see any breakthrough promises here. Because the promises that he made which are steps forward are nonetheless reversible and none -- and don't really show a change of intent. This is Kim family playbook being played out again, you know, in the sense -- I'm skeptical but nonetheless, we do owe him that one shot opportunity that President Trump talked about.

HILL: These corresponding measures, those two words are getting a lot of attention.

CHANG: Yes. This is Kim Jong-un saying, look, he'll give up his Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes those corresponding measures. Those were not specified and Kim is going to ask for a lot. He's going to ask for too much.

So, I think that this was sort of euphoria creating words from Kim which they're very good at Kim -- Kim's family is very good at doing that. So, I really worried about what they're going to ask in return for getting rid of Yongbyon.

HILL: As we wait to hear a little bit more on that, this question about are we seeing an end to the Korean War here? You're smiling a little bit. What's your take on that?

CHANG: Well, Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president says, look, starting to day we're ending the Korean War. Well, there's been no war in the Korean Peninsula for 65 years. And the only reason why there's no war is not because the South Korean president says I don't want war, the only reason why there no war is because U.S. troops day and night have been guarding the peninsula. Both Moon and Kim Jong-un want U.S. troops off the peninsula. So everyone should be concerned about what happens after that occurs, after we leave South Korea.

HILL: How real do you think that is in terms of -- I mean, happening in the near future?

CHANG: It mean, I don't think it's going to happen, Erica but there's a really big chance that it might and unacceptably large chance because I think most South Koreans want the U.S. there but there's a political system led by Moon Jae-in and some of his pro-North Korean advisors who want us out. And also you got the North Koreans who want us out.

You know, in that statement they talk about self-determination for the Korean Peninsula, I mean, how can you have self-determination in a totalitarian state? But I could see Kim and Moon saying, well, let's have a peninsula wide referendum, you know. And probably the results of that referendum wouldn't be good for world peace.

But, you know this is where they're going. And so it is a dangerous time. If we're asked to leave, we leave. That's what the United States does.

So we're not going to stick around even if it means the place falls apart and I'm really concerned that that's a an unacceptably large chance of that occurring.

HILL: Gordon Chang, always appreciate it. Thank you.

CHANG: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Coming up, a new trade battle erupting between the United States and China. How could it affect your wallet? That's next.


[11:52:11] HILL: Oh, you are watching the president here, he is in New Bern, North Carolina, as he is getting a better sense of the damage that Florence has left behind. He's at a church which is doubling out the distribution center for the area. New Bern, you may recall had significant, significant flooding early on in this town, on the coast, the city, actually, more than 300 years old. It was a colonial capital of North Carolina. You may have seen our Dianne Gallagher saw reporting from there during the storm as New Bern was just inundated with the water from Florence which of course just sat and dump rain on this are for hours, days on end. Let's listen in for a moment.

TRUMP: How many have been here?



TRUMP: Go sign up at the front door and we'll get you signed up, OK?

HILL: The president seems to be helping to hand out food here. Checking in with the recipients, asking them how they were affected. It sounds like -- it's hard to hear all of his audio there but again, this stop for the president. He made his North Carolina a short time ago with a number of officials as he's there to assess the damage.

Much of it we're learning too just based on these swollen rivers in that state, some preparing to crest a second time. We know there's still more to come. So we'll bring you more of the president's visit as he continues to tour the devastation left behind by Florence.

A new round of tit for tat tariffs meantime. China slapping more tariffs on U.S. goods, an additional $60 billion worth after the U.S. of course hit China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of its goods, another $200 billion. This is just the latest escalation between the Trump administration and Beijing leaving potential trade talks in limbo. CNN's Alison Kosik is live at the New York Stock Exchange. So the market doesn't seem to be really fazed by any of this. What's really going on?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right about that Erica. Hello to you. So we are seeing investors really just shrugged off the latest round of tariff from the U.S. and even those retaliatory tariffs from China. Several reasons for this. You know, this back and forth with these tariffs, it's already priced into the market. Investors, at least to them, the Trump administration imposing a 10 percent tariff instead of a 25 percent tariff shows that there's some wiggle room in these negotiations.

China's premier also said the country want to value yuan. This is important because it's an effort for China to say, look, we're not going to try to win the trade war through our currency. And these markets, they continue moving higher because of the president's tax cut plan. Fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong and so are corporate profits.

You look at the DOW so far this year, it's up more than six percent.

[11:55:00 he S&P 500 up almost nine percent. But if you look underneath the surface, there are some concerns. A survey just published shows 24 percent of investors, they're bracing for global growth to actually slow down over the next year.

Plus, we start hearing from a bunch of companies sounding the alarm about trade. FedEx, Apple, Cisco Systems, Cisco warning that U.S. tech products, they're prices may go up. And if the next earning season shows tariffs are cutting into company profits, the markets could really react and turn lower. So we have to really watch for that third quarter earning season gets underway next month.

Now, I'm going to be talking about all of this and more when I host CNNMoney's live stream show "Markets Now". That happens today, 12:45 p.m. You go to You can have your computer (INAUDIBLE) watching me right when you have you have your T.V. on watching CNN. That's the idea, Erica.

HILL: I like to be able to do both at once. Alison, thank you.

KOSIK: Sure.

HILL: I want to bring you back now to New Bern, North Carolina. The president again live. Let's take a listen.


TRUMP: What's your name (INAUDIBLE)?


TRUMP: How's the house?

(INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: How was the house?


TRUMP: Did you sign up out front of the church?


TRUMP: OK, thank you.




TRUMP: Do they have ice?



TRUMP: Go up there and they'll get you some ice. Thank you.


TRUMP: Where is your dad?


TRUMP: You did a good job. Go ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good catch, good catch.

TRUMP: Good save, good save. Who's got the camera here?


TRUMP: Where's mom? All right, you got it?





TRUMP: Thank you. You hanging in there?


TRUMP: Are you hanging in there? How's the house?



TRUMP: You take care of yourself. Thank you very much.

Hey guys. Are you doing OK in there? Is that what you need (INAUDIBLE)?

You need anymore?

HILL: You're looking at live pictures here of the president, Governor Roy Cooper of North Caroline there as well in New Bern, North Carolina. They're at Temple Church, we can see meals are being hand out. The president handing out meals, asking people how they're doing, how their homes are.

Our Nick Watt is in Wilmington, North Carolina. Both of these cities, we watched them just being battered by Florence in the hours and hours -- the initial hours of this storm. What more are you hearing in terms of what the president might see today and even how the visit has gone so far?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we heard from the White House earlier that president was very eager to get out there and meet people affected by the storm. And we're already seeing him do that. He of course met with local officials earlier at the marine base where he landed and then drove to New Bern which was one of the most hard-hit areas. Hundreds of people were rescued slashed evacuated by boat as the river there just rose and rose as Florence just poured more rain and the surge came in.

Now, we don't actually know exactly where the president will be going from here, but, again, as I say, he wants to meet people. He wants to see the worst affected areas and perhaps they're being cagey about the schedule because it is still fluid on the ground. You know, we just heard now that the Pee Dee River at Diamond, South Carolina quite near the coast that that is a potential danger area right now because all of the trillions of gallons of rain that fell here in North Carolina and South Carolina flowing down there, those rivers still cresting.

Back to you.

HILL: Nick Watt with the latest for us from Wilmington. We're going to continue to follow the president's trip to North Carolina throughout the day as we listen in here. Stay with us in just a moment, things pick up on INSIDE POLITICS with John King.