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CNN NEWSROOM

President Donald Trump And North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Gearing Up For Round Two; New Clashes Are Erupting Along Venezuela's Western Border; Democrats Threaten To Subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller Is His Russia Investigation Is Not Made Public; New England Patriots' Owner Robert Kraft Could Be Charged Of Sex Trafficking; Pope Francis Rips Catholic Priests Who Sexually Abuse Children; Hollywood's Biggest Night, The 91st Annual Academy Awards Kicks Off In Los Angeles At 8:00 Eastern Time. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 24, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is a real problem and it is getting worse.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Happening now in the NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have made it very plain to chairman Kim. The alternative to giving up his nuclear weapons is remaining a pariah state.

WHITFIELD: Days away, take two of the summit with North Korea. But the President and his secretary of the United States seem to have different views on whether Kim Jong-un is friend or foe.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been no nuclear testing, no missiles, no rackets.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you think North Korea remains a nuclear threat?

POMPEO: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Plus --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we are (INAUDIBLE) to be a scene of humanitarian aides crossing in to Venezuela, an acute crisis.

WHITFIELD: Crisis in Venezuela swells as the protests turn deadly and soldiers abandoned their posts. The desperate need for aid grows.

POPE FRANCIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH LEADER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WHITFIELD: Tools of Satan, the words Pope Francis used today to describe priest who abused children. CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome this Sunday.

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un gearing up for round two. The two men will have their second one-on-one summit this time in Vietnam. And denuclearization is still the big topic on hand. President Trump is already setting up his pitch to Kim Jong-un on twitter, saying this, I'm quoting now, "Chairman Kim realizes, perhaps, better than anyone else that without nuclear weapons his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the world," end quote.

So after the first historic summit, President Trump claimed there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea and that he had a special bond with Kim Jong-un, and they, quote, "fell in love."

But in reality, a senior administration official says the U.S. does not know if North Korea has made the decision to denuclearize. There has been no commitment to any timeline. And there still isn't one set definition of exactly what denuclearized means to both sides.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo told CNN this morning what the U.S. needs from North Korea at this summit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Vice President Pence just said a few weeks ago quote "we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons." Researchers at Stanford University, as you know, estimate that North Korea added about seven nuclear weapons last year. What does North Korea need to do at this summit? What do they need to pledge to do for you to consider it a success?

POMPEO: You have to go back to where we entered this in the Trump administration to think about the path forward. We have always known this would take time and it would be a step forward and slower than the world has demanded, right? This is a U.N. Security Council resolution that we are attempting to achieve by getting North Korea fully denuclearized. We started when the Obama administration had a policy which was essentially test, pray and cower, right. Let them test missiles, let them test nuclear weapons, pray they stop and cower when the North Koreans make a threat.

TAPPER: TAPPER: They did sanctions also.

POMPEO: Not remotely what this administration has done. And didn't build out of coalition, an enormous global coalition we built our through the United Nations to put that pressure in place to allow us to begin to have what would have been real negotiations over the past now six or seven months. I'm hopeful that when President Trump and Chairman Kim get together, they will make a big step towards realizing what Chairman Kim promised. He promised he denuclearized. We hope he will make a big step towards that in the week ahead.

TAPPER: So what would a big step be? What is the kind of pledge that they need to do? I mean, last summit it was nice, and the remains of U.S. service members were brought back to the United States, but there wasn't any common step in terms of denuclearization.

POMPEO: Look. We have work to do on the denuclearization pillar. We got remains back. We have testing stop. Those are all good things. Tension along the borders is reduced, if you ask the military leader, frankly, on both sides for South Korea and North Korea, tensions are reduced.

There are many things he could do to demonstrate his commitment to denuclearization. Our negotiating team was on the ground the last three days and they will be on the ground again today. I will be there tomorrow to continue these discussions. I don't want to get into details of what is being proposed, what the offers and counteroffers may be. But a real step, a demonstrable and verifiable step is something I know the President Trump is very focused on achieving.

TAPPER: So tensions in the peninsula have alleviated but your successor, CIA director Gina Haspel, told Congress last month, that North Korea is quote committed to developing a long-range nuclear arms missile that would posed a direct threat to the United States.

And President Trump, after the last summit, said - he tweeted quote "there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea." Does he still believes there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea even though Gina Haspel, the CIA director says North Korea is committed to creating this missile to hit United States?

[14:05:02] POMPEO: Having been the CIA director not too terrible on the go.

TAPPER: Yes.

POMPEO: I am very familiar with the fact matter. We do know the history. We know the history of the North Koreans making promises, making commitments, lying, taking American money when President Clinton said we have got this resolved back in 1994.

This administration is not going to do that. We have charted a different path. Frankly, we have been criticized for taking that path where we work, where we negotiate and then the two people who can actually effectuate the denuclearization North Korea and a brighter future for the North Korean people will gather for a second time. We have economic sanctions in place. We know the standards for relieving those sanctions. And I'm very hopeful that we will make a substantial step towards achieving the full denuclearization in a verifiable way in North Korea. The South Koreans, the Japanese have been great partners in this. And we are very hopeful we can get a good outcome.

TAPPER: Do you think North Korea remains a nuclear threat?

POMPEO: Yes. TAPPER: But the President says he doesn't.

POMPEO: It's not what he said. I mean, I know precisely what he said.

TAPPER: He tweeted that there is no longer a nuclear threat for North Korea.

POMPEO: What he said is that - what he said was that the efforts that have been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made have substantially taken down the risks to the American people. It is the mission of secretary of state and the President of the United States to keep American people secure. We are aiming to achieve that.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, that's just a direct quote but I want to move on. Just a few days ago you said sanctions against North Korea won't be lifted until quote "we are confident that we substantially reduced that risk, the risk of a nuclear attack." But that standard, a substantial reduction of risk, it seems different from what you said last June. Take a listen.

POMPEO: We are going to get complete denuclearization. Only then will there be relief from the sanctions.

TAPPER: So I guess the question is, has the Trump administration changed the conditions from sanction relief from complete denuclearization, as you said in that clip, to substantial reduction of risk?

POMPEO: Jake, there is no change. Remember, this sanctions cover a broader way of activities. The core economic sanctions are the sanctions that prevent countries from conducting trade, creating wealth (ph) to North Korea. Those sanctions are definitely going to remain in place.

There are other things we could do. Exchanges of people, lots of other ways that North Korea is sanctioned today that if we get a substantial step and move forward, we could certainly provide an outlet which would demonstrate our commitment to the process as well.

TAPPER: So it's kind of a sliding scale. Substantial reduction, some sanctions are relieved, but not all, and then complete denuclearization, more sanctions are relieved. Is that right?

POMPEO: Jake, remember, the core sanctions - the core U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctions, we have said consistently full, verified denuclearization, that's the standard for relieving those sanctions. That policy has not changed since I think since the day President Trump took office.

TAPPER: Take a listen to what the President's director of national intelligence said just last month about the threat from North Korea.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.

TAPPER: How do you convince Kim to give up something that he thinks is critical to his regime's survival? What is the United States offering that is better than that?

POMPEO: We have made it very plain to chairman Kim. The alternative to giving up his nuclear weapons is remaining a pariah state, remaining a nation that is unable to trade, unable to grow, unable to take care of its own people. We have made the argument that it would be far better for Chairman Kim himself, his senior leadership, all the people for North Korea.

We have also shared with him that we are happy to make sure that North Korea's security assurances aren't worried about China. That the security assurances that they need can be provided in a way that is reasonable. And we have also told them there will be real opportunities. The countries from around the world will make his economy one that looks more like South Korea's economy than the one that exists in North Korea today. Those are the kinds of things.

I have had these conversations. I have been with Chairman Kim, I think, more hours now than anyone, including Dennis Rodman. We have had these conversations now over an extended period of time. And what Director Coats said is the history, and we are hoping to move forward and change that history fundamentally.

TAPPER: North Korea wants the United States to end the declaration of war, of the Korean War. Is that on the table for the summit?

POMPEO: We talked about a lot of things, Jake. I just prefer not to get into where the negotiations may stand today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, former U.S. ambassador to China and former Montana senator, Max Baucus.

Good to see you, ambassador and senator. So you heard the secretary of state Mike Pompeo, you know, seeming cautiously optimistic about this summit and what he hopes the United States accomplishes. What do you think can be accomplished?

MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Obviously it's going to be difficult. I think Kim Jong-un has done a pretty good job the last four, five, six years building up his capabilities, his nuclear capabilities as well as his missile capability, and at a time when China, the United States, other countries basically did not take any action to prevent that.

Second, we're at a spot now where I think the President very much wants a win. We all know he wants to win the Nobel Peace prize. But if he can get some agreement with Kim Jong-un, he then will take that as a victory and then go home and say, hey, look, I have normalized relations on the peninsula, and Kim Jong-un is not going to be a threat anymore. I think that's a hollow statement, that Kim will still be a threat.

He will always be a threat for the foreseeable future. And that's because it is his whole card. It's a way he can keep power.

Other countries have, frankly relaxed their sanctions a little bit against Kim. Russia has, China has, and we know that South Korea wants to relax relations with North Korea. So all of that together for me means we will have a big statement out of Hanoi. Not a lot of substance out of Hanoi, but another step as we move to try to figure out how to normalize, if you will, conditions on the peninsula. I think, frankly, we're going to see five, six, eight, ten years from now a different Korean peninsula but one where Kim Jong-un still has nuclear capability and where he is moving toward membership in the nuclear club, if you will.