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Trump Lands In Vietnam For Second Summit With North Korea's Kim Jong-un, Interview With Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); Theresa May Gives Lawmakers Chance To Delay Brexit; Rouhani Says He Hasn't Accepted F.M.'s Resignation; Butterfly Sanctuary Fights Construction Of Wall. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired February 27, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. We have this breaking news about a pivotal moment in Donald Trump's presidency that is hours away from taking place on Capitol Hill.
An explosive prepared testimony for a public hearing Wednesday. Michael Cohen will call the president a racist, a con man and a cheat. He will say Mr. Trump knew his long-time advisor Roger Stone was reaching out to WikiLeaks ahead of the publication of hacked emails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Cohen will also say Trump implicitly told him to lie about a Trump Tower project in Moscow underway during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen testified behind closed doors Tuesday in the first of three hearings.
CHURCH: Political analyst Michael Genovese joins us now from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us as we of course, work through this copy we received to Michael Cohen's prepared statement to Congress. So let's start with the new material he plans to table.
This is what he says, "I'm providing the committee today with several documents. These include a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse me, being Cohen, of course, for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign."
So what are the legal ramifications for the president if this check was written for that purpose?
And just how explosive could this prove to be?
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if true and if Mr. Cohen does have the check, it was written by the president after he was in the White House, what that means is that he would be implicated very clearly in the felony that Michael Cohen is going to go to jail for having committed. For having admitted to.
And so, this raises questions about, can we indict a president, a sitting president? Can a president pardon himself? This is only one of the big bombshells that Michael Cohen is going to talk about. But this is the one that has a direct connection to Cohen himself and to the actions of the president to support a felony.
CHURCH: Right. And Cohen also says that -- Mr. Trump knew that Roger Stone reached out to WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, about the hacked DNC emails. Here's what Cohen actually says. In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone.
Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.
So Roger Stone has always denied he had anything to do with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. What might this mean for Stone and more importantly for the president? And how reliable is the word of Cohen on this given his credibility issues?
GENOVESE: Well, we have to preface everything with if true. Michael Cohen is an admitted liar. If he lies to Congress now, he commits a further crime, he would then be subjected to more time in prison. And so, the odds of him lying about these things diminish, because he'll be under a microscope. Every word he says is going to be looked at and scoured. And so for him to lie now, it just adds to his prison time.
So what he is trying to do is trying to become the sort of redeemed Michael Cohen. In a similar way to John Dean's testimony in Watergate, where John Dean testified and read his statement of accusing the president -- in that case, Nixon, of a variety of crimes. That is what Michael Cohen's position is now.
And so the old, if true becomes the key. There's reason not to believe Michael Cohen, because we know he is a liar. Has been a lair but coming clean now is his effort to sort of revive his reputation and his family. And if he lies now, he'll spend many more years in jail.
CHURCH: All right. A lot to get through, because there was another quote, I want to read out from Cohen's testimony. This time on the Trump Tower meeting and Cohen said this directly, I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016 when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father's desk, which in itself is was unusual.
People didn't just walked behind Mr. Trump's --
[02:05:00] CHURCH: -- "desk to talk to him. I recall Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice which I could clearly hear and saying, the meeting is all set. I remember Mr. Trump saying, OK, let me know.
So what does this tell you in terms of possible collusion with the Russians? And again, it is just Cohen's word with no evidence to prove this exchange ever took place.
CHURCH: So again, how reliable is it?
GENOVESE: Well, we'll start with the WikiLeaks situation when there is one stream move from Russia. This is a direct connection if true, between President Trump and the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians designed to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. President's son responding saying, we would love it if that were true.
The president also is a participant in a fabricated story about that meeting. And so, if the president knew about it, he is directly implicated in the lies about it, he's directly implicated in the knowledge and the planning of it and it is a direct connection to Russia dirt on Hillary Clinton and that means collusion.
And so again, the key question for us tomorrow will be, to what extent does Mr. Cohen provide documentary evidence, supporting evidence, material evidence? We cannot rely simply on his word. We need to have more information. So the question is, does this open a Pandora's Box and others will follow and release more or does Michael Cohen have the goods on the president? We know that Michael Cohen does a lot of taping of conversations and he may very well have the goods on the president. We'll know tomorrow.
CHURCH: Yes. That's the key, isn't it? Because if he doesn't have any of these evidence either in documents or taping as you say, because we know the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, talked about Cohen on Tuesday saying he was a disgraced felon, Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements.
Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect -- we can expect more lies. So this is the problem for Cohen, isn't it? The White House already have their story on this. They are going to be over to say he is a liar. Why -- particularly with those conversations he overheard. There is no proof unless he can deliver these tapes which you say is possible.
GENOVESE: Well, you'll recall -- you're too young to recall but I recall John Dean in Watergate when he made very bold accusations against President Nixon. He had -- didn't have the evidence to support it. We later found out that there were tape recordings that prove the president was a criminal. In this case, Michael Cohen has been saying all along, you enough kept
a lot of records, I've kept a lot of material, that's going to be the test. Does Michael Cohen have the goods? If he doesn't have the goods -- it's just Michael Cohen saying his things, it will be largely dismiss except by the more anti-Trump folks around, because he's going to be saying some really bold things. The president is a racist. He's a conman. He's -- he has committed felonies. If he doesn't have supporting material, he's word will probably be discounted. And so, like John Dean and Nixon, is one of these he said, he said, let's see where the evidence is.
CHURCH: Yes, it's supporting material and of course, it will be interesting to see how the Republican respond to all of this explosive testimony. Thank you so much for joining us, Michael Genovese, I appreciate it.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
CHURCH: It seems like Cohen's testimony will be must-see TV and you can catch it here on CNN. We will have special coverage and analysis starting at 9:00 in the morning on the U.S. East Coast and that's 2:00 pm in London. Certainly tune in for that.
While Cohen testifies, Trump is in Vietnam for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. We're a few hours away from the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders in Hanoi.
While both men may be looking for a major breakthrough on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, it remains to be seen if they could move beyond the vague promises of the last summit. Will Ripley is live in Hanoi.
A lot of questions. A lot of expectations.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of expectation and a lot of distractions for Trump as needs to focus as he sits down with one of the most shrewd negotiators, probably on Earth, Kim Jong-un, and a team of shrewd negotiators. He's meeting with Vietnamese leaders here in Hanoi. Earlier he signed a trade agreement at the presidential palace, he met with the prime minister.
But it's what happens later at the dinner with Kim Jong-un --
RIPLEY: -- a private dinner after a 20-minute face-to-face sitdown. The bulk of their meetings are scheduled for tomorrow. But this is the first impression that's coming, President Trump already heaping praise on the host country of Vietnam and pointing it to as an example of what could happen in North Korea if they give up the nuclear weapons that they spent decades and vast resources developing. Here's Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vietnam is thriving. We have a very big dinner tonight, as you know, and meetings with North Korea with Chairman Kim.
And we talked about very good about having this very important summit in Vietnam because you already are as an example as to what can happen with good thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: Of course president Trump signing the big trade deal in Hanoi and he met with the Vietnamese prime minister. The prime minister gave an exclusive interview with CNN's Ivan Watson, live here in Hanoi. He's standing outside the Metropol Hotel where that big meeting and that private dinner and the summit talks themselves will take place.
Ivan, what do you see there?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to give you a little sense of the atmosphere here. We've been seeing guests of the hotel being moved out as a security precaution, the road blocked off and you can, of course, see security offices guarding the perimeter of that.
So these are the kinds of steps that are being taken ahead of the dinner between the North Korean and American leaders. We have seen a lot of streets around -- around Hanoi also blocked off, which is understandable. This is to allow the motorcades to come through and ensure the security of these heads of state.
The Metropol is famous because it was built more than a hundred years ago during the French Colonial period. Jane Fonda stayed here during the Vietnam War. I stayed in the courtyard next to the bar. You could get a tour of a bomb bunker built during the Vietnam War, when B-52s would bomb the city.
So there's an awful lot of symbolism there and symbolism because Vietnam was a country that was once famously at war with the U.S. and is enjoying a remarkable -- a remarkable relations and economic -- economic trade with the U.S.
That's something that -- that -- that -- that both Trump and the Vietnamese government are offering as a potential role model for North Korea if it truly comes out of the cold and gives up its nuclear weapons -- Will.
RIPLEY: Ivan Watson chasing all the action.
Speaking earlier with the Vietnamese prime minister, who said there are lessons to be learned about what happened in this country. Two men know the story more than probably anyone else, David Sanger from "The New York Times" and CNN political and national security analyst, and Joseph Yun special representative for North Korea under the Obama and Trump administrations, now senior adviser at the U.S. Institute for Peace and a CNN global affairs analyst.
David and Ambassador, great to have you both here.
You, David, had the forethought when you thought it might be in Hanoi, to book a room at the Metropol. So you're staying there.
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I am, although what I've discovered they have cut off the health club and, worse yet, the Bamboo Bar.
RIPLEY: You'll have to drink somewhere else. Trump is clearly going to be distracted as he goes into these negotiations.
What -- what do you see in terms of the behind the scenes?
How is this going to play out in the hours leading up to this meeting, where he needs to be focused when he meets with Kim Jong-un?
SANGER: I think the worry -- and that includes a worry among his own advisors -- is that the president doesn't spend a lot of time on his brief and he's not deep into the details of what's (INAUDIBLE) nuclear facility. Kim is.
The president is going to have one ear on what is happening back in Washington as his former attorney testifies. That has the -- has the possibility that it could throw him a little bit off base tomorrow.
I think one of the big concern that many allies have, if you just listen to the president's rhetoric in the past 72 hours, he's -- he's been saying things like we have all the time in the world. All they have to do is stop the testing. That's not what denuclearization looks like. And I think his own staff is worried he may give up too much in return for too little.
RIPLEY: Is there a disconnect with his staff?
Has he been listening to the people who are trying to advise him?
SANGER: I think there's a disconnect within the staff. You have a group of State Department officials who have been negotiating with -- with -- with the North Koreans, doing what --
SANGER: -- Joe used to do. They have been putting together the best package that they can put.
Meanwhile, over at the National Security Council, inside the White House, the people working for John Bolton, who are pretty suspicious that the State Department may be too eager to cut a deal.
RIPLEY: So, Ambassador Yun, if Trump is not focused when he goes in, how focused is Kim Jong-un going to be?
What is the potential danger?
JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Oh, he's going to be -- Kim Jong-un is going to be absolutely focused. And moreover you know they have a unified team. There's no division, no daylight between Kim Yong-chol, who is the chief negotiator, and with (INAUDIBLE), who is a very big foreign policy figure. Remember, this is a team that has been doing same thing in and out,
only focus being the United States since what?
'94 or so?
So they have -- they have -- you know amazing expertise. The thing that amazes me about North Korea, whenever I see them, is they're very, very disciplined. They stick to their lines. In fact, it hasn't changed much, which is removing the hostile policy and we can do business.
RIPLEY: Some of Kim Jong-un's delegation were there in 1994 when hammered out the agreed framework.
So, David, who is at an advantage and at a disadvantage?
SANGER: Both leaders have unique pressures on them. Kim Jong-un has -- has basically said that he can have both economic growth and nuclear weapons.
So the big question is, can he maintain both of those?
President Trump needs a big foreign policy win, particularly if this testimony is as damaging as it sounds like it might be, he needs to project that he's out making progress for the American people and that everything going on back home in Washington is noise.
So he's going to want to walk out with something, even if it doesn't add up to quite what we thought, which of course is what happened when we were all sitting in Singapore.
RIPLEY: Do the North Koreans know that and can they use that?
YUN: I think so. And you're seeing this narrative from Trump, Pompeo lowering the bar for complete denuclearization. Now saying significant move toward denuclearization. So you're seeing the expectations lowered. What is unfortunate is the stakes are so big. But we're all beginning to lower our expectations.
RIPLEY: Every single summit gives Kim Jong-un more legitimacy on the global stage.
Is that his strategy, to get people comfortable with him so people aren't so frightened?
YUN: I think so. I think he wants to be another Israel or Pakistan, that he keeps weapons. Everyone knows he has nuclear weapons. And then it becomes the new normal. I think that is absolutely his strategy. He wants to survive and he believes that Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi would be around had they had nuclear weapons. So for him, he needs that. At the same time, he wants economic growth.
SANGER: Remember, there's a big difference between talks about eliminating nuclear weapons and talks about controlling nuclear weapons. This is looking more like an arms control talk with the White House saying our eventual goal is complete, verifiable denuclearization. But in the interim, we're making progress by reducing the numbers.
Just as Joe says, Pakistan is the model here. Ten years ago people were saying it is intolerable for Pakistan to have nuclear weapons. Today we just kind of accept it. I think Kim Jong-un thinks he could go that route.
RIPLEY: Stay with me, we'll talk more this hour. They need something to come out of this or the U.S. loses face and credibility. Thank you both for being here.
Rosemary, this is such an important, monumental moment for Trump in terms of foreign diplomacy yet he's riddled with chaos and distractions back at home.
CHURCH: And that has worried a lot of people. We will see what impact that has on his meeting with Kim Jong-un. Thank you so much, Will, we'll return to you very soon.
From the college of cardinals to an Australian jail, the most senior Vatican officials convicted of child sex abuse, is no longer a free man. More on the George Pell case coming up.
CHURCH: Welcome back.
The most senior Vatican official ever convicted of child sexual abuse will be sentenced on March 13th in Australia. George Pell was taken into custody after his bail request was withdrawn. He earlier attended a presentencing hearing.
The 77-year-old was found guilty of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s and faces up to -- up to 50 years in prison. For more, CNN's Anna Coren is live in Melbourne.
Good to see you, Anna. What is shocking about this is just how the barrister described and downplayed the charges against his client. Tell us about that and the reaction to it.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everybody was in shock when -- when Robert Richter said that this offense was "plain vanilla," it was "a plain vanilla case of sexual penetration" of a child.
There was standing room only in the court and people -- people were wondering whether they had heard correctly. But they were the words that came out of Pell's defense barrister, Robert Richter.
He's probably the most famous criminal barrister in this country. He defends gangsters, gets them off murder charges. But today we're not exactly quite sure what he was thinking when he made that argument.
Obviously not something now he thinks probably he should have said. But for the victims, for the survivors and their families, it really was appalling. Take a listen to what Chrissie Foster had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISSIE FOSTER, CHILD ABUSE CAMPAIGNER: It is insulting because how can I say that?
You know, these are children. They're children, my children were treated to such rape, sexual assault. And to hear people speaking like that, defending someone who would do something like that, it is outrageous, insulting and that's what victims have to put up with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Chrissie Foster has had a horrendous life, two of her three daughters were raped by a priest in the 1990s at primary school. One of her daughters has since committed suicide. So this is a woman who has fought the church. She is really a face of survivors and their families.
They have battled against the Catholic Church in getting justice. That's why she's here --
COREN: -- today but listening to those comments by Robert Richter made her feel absolutely sick.
Now the prosecution say George Pell deserves the harshest of sentences. They say this has been a breach of trust, that Pell was responsible for these boys in that cathedral that the acts and the attacks were humiliating and degrading and Pell's shown no remorse whatsoever.
We have to remember Pell maintains his innocence. The judge, Peter Kidd, said he's thinking not the low end of sentencing.
The four counts of indecent assault each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years. As for sexual penetration of a child, that carries a maximum of 15 years. So Pell's facing a lengthy jail sentence, there's no doubt about it. But obviously his age and health and -- and the fact that he's a first time offender will be taken into account.
Something I'll note, the defense submitted 10 character references on behalf of George Pell. One was the former prime minister, John Howard. John Howard has known George Pell for more than 30 years. He obviously was saying that George Pell is an upstanding citizen of this community. This after he learned of the conviction.
Obviously, Pell's defense has launched an appeal that will take some months to play out. But for now, he's behind bars and spending his fifth night here at the remand center near where we're standing. George Pell is now a prisoner.
CHURCH: Difficult to reconcile the fact that Pell insists he's innocent but then the words his barrister uses to describe the charges against him seem to say otherwise. But we'll continue to follow. Anna Coren, thank you.
This just in to CNN. Pakistan says its armed forces shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace after the Indian air force crossed the line of control. India have not commented on the Pakistani claim.
Joining me now, CNN's New Delhi bureau chief, Nikhil Kumar.
What are you able to tell us about this?
NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: We have the statement from the Pakistani authorities. They said, as you highlighted earlier, that they shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. They said these two planes crossed the line of the de facto border between the neighbors in the disputed Kashmir region.
This is after yesterday when India said it conducted strikes beyond the line of control to hit a terrorist attack. Pakistan denied it at the time. It said what happened was Indian jets crossed and were repelled.
But what is coming out from Pakistan this morning marks another escalation in this saga of tensions between these neighbors. The attack yesterday that India said it had mounted, India said it did that in response to intelligence about possible terrorist attacks being planned by that group which Indian blames for killing 40 Indian paramilitary on the 14th of February in what was the worst attack on Indian forces in several decades.
We're waiting as you pointed out and it is important to know. We're still waiting to hear from the Indian authorities to get their account of what exactly happened in the border area. As we wait for that, what is coming out from the Pakistani authorities, it all points to another escalation, intentions, 24 hours after the news of the Indian strikes.
CHURCH: What concerns a lot of people -- and this is outside Pakistan and India -- these are two nuclear nations. That has people on edge.
KUMAR: It does indeed. That's always the case with conflict in this part of the world. These are two nuclear armed countries. The risk always is, if conflict begins, even if it begins at low level, nobody knows where it might end up.
Will it spiral out of control?
Yesterday when we first heard from Pakistan that Indian jets had crossed the Yellow Sea and they pushed them back and later saying they had gone to hit the targets, the narrative from the two countries yesterday was completely divergent. Pakistan said the jets made it across and were pushed back; India said they went, completed a successful mission.
I think that's important to highlight because that left room for de- escalation between the two sides, which is why today, as we take into the accounts of the Pakistani authorities, it's just as important that we wait to hear from the Indian authorities and what that suggests about where these tensions might go next. The ultimate risk here is these are two nuclear armed powers.
CHURCH: Thank you for the live report. We'll continue to watch this --
CHURCH: Indeed. Thank you so much for that live report. We'll continue to watch this story very carefully. And we'll take a break right now. When we come back, we will head back to Vietnam. And for the latest of course, on Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un. How the U.S. President hopes to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear program? We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Well, I want to recap this hour's top story. President Trump's former personal attorney is about to deliver a political bombshell in a Congressional hearing later Wednesday. In his prepared opening statement, Michael Cohen calls Mr. Trump a conman, a racist and a cheat. He will say Mr. Trump was aware his longtime advisor Roger Stone, was in contact with WikiLeaks before the publication of hacked emails from the Hilary Clinton campaign.
Stone is under indictment. Cohen will also say, Mr. Trump was aggressively pursuing a major project in Moscow during the campaign and Mr. Trump indirectly told Cohen to lie about it. Cohen goes to prison in May for his guilty plea on a number of charges including campaign finance violations. Well, earlier U.S. House Democrat Eric Swalwell weighed in on Michael Cohen's statement. He says, the president's former attorney has no reason to lie at this point. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Michael Cohen has very, very little incentive to lie. He has already lied to Congress. He's going to jail for a number of years because of it. He has to know that Paul Manafort is facing longer jail time because he continued to lie to the Mueller team. So, it's not of an interest to lie, they are already looking at him and if he lied to Congress he could face even more years.
So, I think they're, you know, going to be a lot that we're going to have to listen to just because his motivation is nothing other than to tell the truth. Second, very interested in, you know, some of the color that is now being provided around, what Donald Trump knew about Roger Stone's work with WikiLeaks. And it always seemed like this was something that Roger Stone would have shared with Donald Trump. We had evidence that Donald Trump and Roger Stone taunt all the time throughout the campaign, so it makes sense, sense that this was (inaudible) that was going on and that Donald Trump was informed or heard.
[02:35:00] Same thing with Don Jr. and his father -- as it relates to the Trump Tower meeting. We had evidence that Don Jr. and his father throughout the campaign, always talk so it just rings of truth from Michael Cohen to say he comes in to the office around the time that this meeting setup, steps around the desk. Again, it's the little details you're looking for that standout, that someone just couldn't and wouldn't make up.
But again, going back to I think he's credible because he doesn't want to go to jail for a longer period of time. The Mueller team is already looking at him. It's not in his -- it's not in his interest to lie.
CHRUCH: And while Michael Cohen testifies in Washington, Donald Trump is in Vietnam for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung- on. Now, we are just a few hours away from the first face-to-face meeting in Hanoi. Mr. Trump has been talking with Vietnamese leaders this morning, and praising the country as an example for North Korea to follow. So, let's get back to our Will Ripley, who is live this hour in Hanoi. Will.
RIPLEY: Hi, Rosemary, yes. Three hours from now, more or less, is when U.S President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will have 20 minutes, one-on-one with only their interpreters. The first time they've seen each other in person since there summit in Singapore back in June that delivered a lot of photo ops and little in terms of substantial results, at least on the issue of getting North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons.
Now earlier here in Hanoi, President Trump said that North Korea has an opportunity here, saying that they can enjoy the same kind of economic prosperity and economic growth that this socialist country that were in right now, a country that was at war with the U.S., eventually normalized ties, opening an Embassy here in 1995 and in the recent decades have seen tremendous economic growth, they've called it the economic miracle here in Vietnam and a lot of it do in part to normalizing relations with the U.S. President Trump saying, that could be North Korea if they're willing to give up their arsenal.
But back with Ambassador Joseph Yun and David Sanger, who knows all too well that it's not going to be easy. The sun is finally out here in Hanoi for the first time since we've arrived a couple of days ago, and it's certainly getting hot and the heat is on for President Trump with all of these other things on his plate. He's going to have to talk about a specific denuclearization deal with Kim Jong-un. Ambassador, what would a deal like that potentially look like?
YUN: Well I think we got to look to Singapore, you know, Singapore meeting the laid a foundation for this. And really get the four elements there. Number one is building a relationship between the U.S. and North Korea. So, I think if they can open some kind of small diplomatic office, say, exchange in liaison office that will accomplish that. Second thing, is building a peace regime.
And that's why so many people are looking to meetings in Singapore to get an end of war declaration. The toughest part is denuclearization and there you're going to have to give and take between denuclearization and sanctions. That's the largest unknown. Fourth is of course, return of the remains of U.S soldiers from the Korean War, and that I think has progressed quite well. So, the biggest unknown in my view is denuclearization and sanctions that tradeoff between the two.
RIPLEY: David, given that, you know, we've discuss North Korea is unlikely to give up its nukes, so at least not any time soon, what steps might they be willing at this point? Could they be more transparent about, you know, there Uranium enrichment sites or the number or the number war heads they possess? What could be realistically, expected of anything at this stage?
SANGER: Well, after the Singapore meeting, we thought that the first thing that North Koreans would do, within the month or two the meeting was turn over an inventory of their nuclear weapons, their nuclear materials, their sites, their missiles and so forth. But without that, you can't sort of start down the road of denuclearization. Secretary Pompeo went over raises many times.
They kept saying to the secretary, all you want is a target list. You just want this so you know what to hit. And the secretary would say to them, I don't need a target list, you know, the United States has known what they hit for 40 years.
RIPLEY: That's the mindset there?
RIPLEY: As you know.
SANGER: Right, absolutely. And so he was saying what I need is a list to see if you're being truthful at stage one. To see, you know, what you've got and we can compare it to what U.S. Intelligence says. They had never gotten that inventory. And curiously, Steve Biegun who is the chief negotiator and especial representative for North Korea said in a speech at Stanford about a month ago that they may move that back some.
The thing to stay completely focused on. Is what happens with Yongbyon, the main nuclear site? Do they announce that they're going to shut the main reactor? Which is in, top shape to begin with?
SANGER: Do they announce that they're going shut the facilities that produce Tritium? Which will you make a hydrogen bomb? Do they announce that they're going to stop uranium enrichment? Do they announce they're going dismantle these facilities?
[02:40:00] Otherwise the President is negotiating, while they're continuing to produce material. RIPLEY: And of course the (inaudible) Yongbyon was demolished, you
know, run a decade ago and obviously they rebuilt and we saw how that has all turned out. Ambassador, is North Korea is likely to be honest at this stage?
JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFARIS ANALYST: I don't think they're, you know, honest or not honest, you know, I don't think that's the question, what North Korea has done as David mentioned is turned it upside down, they want political resolution and then denuclearization. Our insistent had always been denuclearization first then political normalization. So, but looking at the -- in the statements of the administration last, you know, I would say a month or so, we are beginning to accept that maybe political normalization has to take place and then denuclearization will follow.
RIPLEY: Which means the world essentially getting more comfortable with a nuclear on North Korea which perhaps has been Kim's strategy all along.
SANGER: And the strategy has been, yes.
RIPLEY: All right. David Sanger, Joseph Yun, thanks. We'll be back with you. But right now I want to go to Ivan Watson who is at the David Sanger's hotel, The Metropol, David had the wise idea to book when he thought the summit might be in Hanoi. So, we'll actually -- probably have to check in with him tomorrow and see what's happening during the summit. Ivan is outside where the roads are blocked off, the crowds and the media are gathering and Ivan, not only is observing the color on the ground there but you spoke exclusively with the prime minister of Vietnam who told you that the North Koreans could learn a lesson from what happened here.
WATSON: That's right. Vietnam, the prime minister in that exclusive interview pointing out that Vietnam is just -- not just the host of this historic meeting, but it is also a country that provide some symbolic -- symbolism here because of course Vietnam has gone from being a bitter enemy of the U.S. to being a very close ally and important trading partner with both President Trump and Vietnamese leader signing agreements, announcing agreements today for example for various Vietnamese airlines to purchase more than a hundred Boeing aircraft as an example of those growing and flourishing trade ties and all things that the prime minister mentioned in his interview with me in the presidential palace. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN XUAN PHUC, PRIME MINISTER OF VIETNAM (through translator): For the peace of the world, for a connected and developed world, for our citizen's right, let's shake hands.
WATSON: It must have been very difficult for Vietnam to make peace with the U.S. after the terrible war, you lost very close relatives during that war with the U.S., what lessons can you bring from your personal experience to perhaps share with Chairman Kim?
PHUC: We don't forget our past, our history, but we need closure in order to look to the future. Millions of Vietnamese died throughout years of resistance wars to protect the country, our independence and freedom. More than ever, we value peace based on mutual respect for each other's independence and sovereignty. We don't interfere with each other's politics.
WATSON: How much of a role did making peace and improving relations with the U.S.? How did that contribute to your economic growth? And do you think that North Korea could benefit similarly if it improves relations with Washington?
PHUC: We can say that the U.S.-Vietnam relationship is a role model for comprehensive and collaborative development from enemies, we have become good friends and partners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Now, Will, you know, there was one area where the prime minister did not really -- he did not really want to discuss and that is areas of tension with neighbors, like china and in fact, North Korea. There's one episode of history, 2017, the assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia. One of the two suspects being charged in Malaysia is a Vietnamese national named Doan Thi Huong and he's facing the death penalty for that right now.
A South Korean official told CNN that Vietnamese officials expressed regret over the involvement of that Vietnamese citizen there. And when I pressed the prime minister whether or not he could confirm that, he really did not want to talk about it. And in fact, his interpreter advised him not to say anything about this particular issue, Vietnam doesn't want any disruption or tension marring this important high-stakes diplomacy here. Will.
[02:45:00] RIPLEY: That was really a fascinating moment in your interview, Ivan. It was clear that the Vietnamese Prime Minister didn't want to talk about that issue. Not right now, things are sensitive. The North Koreans are sensitive, and they have a sole focus, which is this summit going off successfully. We'll see what the result is. Ivan Watson, here in Hanoi. Thank you.
We'll be right back with more CNN NEWSROOM. Live from Hanoi and from Atlanta with Rosemary Church after this.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, throw out the back and forth over Brexit, only one thing had remained constant. The U.K. was going to leave the E.U. on March 29th. Well, now, not even that is certain.
Prime Minister Theresa May is offering lawmakers the option for a delay. Here is how the next few weeks could play out. Mrs. May will first hold a vote on her deal by March 12th. Now, if that passes, Britain leaves the E.U. with her deal. If it doesn't, lawmakers will vote on whether Britain should leave without a deal. If that passes, Britain crashes out. But, if it fails, lawmakers will vote the next day on whether to delay Brexit, an option the prime minister would rather avoid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Let me be clear. I do not want to see Article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on the 29th of March. An extension cannot take no-deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50 which I -- which I shall not do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Mrs. May also dismiss proposals for a second referendum on Brexit. Saying, it would take the country right back to square one. Well, Iran's president is reportedly rejecting the resignation of the country's top diplomat. It comes just a day after Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced he was stepping down.
Zarif is seen as a moderate, long targeted by Iranian hardliners. He's a major critic of the Trump administration but he's also U.S. educated and helped craft the Iran nuclear deal. On Instagram, Zarif apologized for what he called shortcomings in his service.
Well, it's a lovely peaceful place used to teach children about butterflies. But vicious hate mail, devastating bulldozers, and the border battle could end it all if President Trump gets his way. We'll explain when we come back.
[02:50:49] CHURCH: We are gearing up for "MY FREEDOM DAY" on March 14 here at CNN. Students from all around the world will join in a day of activism against modern-day slavery.
We've been asking people what makes them feel free. Well, here is what singer/songwriter George Clinton had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CLINTON, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: Being able to live my life in the pursuit of happiness, without the fear of being (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And tell the world what makes you feel free. Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay. We want to hear from you.
Well, a taste of spring is in the air across parts of Europe as record warmth has moved in. Meteorologists Pedram Javaheri joins us from the International Weather Center with the details and I have to say it's about time. PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: It's about time. Yes, you know, three weeks left Rosy until the official start of spring, but no complaints across Western Europe here. Finally, some good news to be had here when it comes to mild weather, sunny skies that we've been seeing in a multiple day stretch of this.
So, we have a blocking pattern, high pressure in place. We talked briefly about this yesterday, the -- what is known as the Omega block, because it resembles the Greek letter Omega. But we have an area of low pressure to its west, an area of low pressure to its east, both of which are pretty potent. But, in the central region there across Europe, and also in parts of Western Europe, plenty of sunshine, and look at this, the scenes out of London on Tuesday afternoon.
Folks breaking out the tank tops, making their way towards the parks. And, in fact, where you wait just west of town into the Kew Gardens region. 21.2 degrees Celsius. That is an all-time record high for the month of February.
Now, you get this sort of a pattern in the month of July, in the month of August. You're talking about uncomfortable too, in fact, dangerous temperatures. But this time of year we can enjoy it into the lower 20s in parts of Belgium.
About 18.8 degrees record temps also set in Northwestern Spain at 25 degrees. So, spring for, at least, a brief period has sprung. But with that high pressure, the air becomes stagnant, of course. So, the air quality with it has suffered a little bit as we've, in fact, seen it climb up to what is comparable to Beijing in the past 24 hours.
I've kind of shows you what comes with these sort of patterns when they're offseason and kind of out of the ordinary. But, unhealthy categories there for these places across areas of Western Europe.
But, we'll enjoy one more day of sunny skies in Paris, 18 degrees. London, partly cloudy skies about 18. Dublin, can you believe this? Pushing for the last portion of February temps into the teens and sunny skies as well as so. Still, far from seeing the season, of course, and here Rosy, and wintry weather are far from over. But, at least, we get a taste of it as you said, and not too bad at all.
CHURCH: Yes, good -- thank you so much, Pedram. Appreciate it.
JAVAHERI: Thanks, Rosemary.
CHURCH: When U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to get the border wall funding, he described a scene of drug smugglers crossing into the United States. But one patch of land is actually a nature sanctuary. CNN's Bill Weir visits the national butterfly center that's fighting construction of the border wall.
BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: On the banks of the Rio Grande, sits a hundred acre pocket of life, unlike any in North America. MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER: For butterflies, it's like that movie Fantasia. Everything's in bloom in the fall and you have to walk and talk with your hand covering your mouth so you don't suck in a butterfly.
WEIR: The National Butterfly Center is the tip of the funnel for these beautiful little migrants. Like the monarch which flies thousands of miles back and forth from Mexico to as far as Montana and Wisconsin.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: You got the little skipper right there.
WEIR: As director, the only thing Marianna Trevino-Wright used to worry about was pointing them out to school kids. But these days, she gets hate mail.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: We got a whole lot of -- you, and -- your butterflies. I hope M.S.-13 rapes you. A lot of ignorant, awful, hateful stuff.
WEIR: For the butterfly people.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: For the butterfly people.
WEIR: Living here, she's quite used to border security.
[02:55:03] TREVINO-WRIGHT: So, this I'm sure is somebody from the Department of Defense or somewhere else coming to check out this area.
WEIR: But the summer after President Trump took office, things changed.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: They were cutting down our trees, and mowing down vegetation, and widening the road. I said, "Who are you and what are you doing?" And they said, "The government sent us to clear this land from here to the river, for the border wall."
WEIR: The plan calls for 18 feet of solid concrete, topped by 18 feet of steel bollards right through the middle of their property. Then they saw what this machine was doing to a neighboring wildlife preserve.
And that's what they're using just west of you.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: On the forest, on the National Wildlife Refuge.
WEIR: When they realized how devastating a so-called enforcement zone would be to their habitat, they sued. And last week, they lost.
So, what are you going to do now?
TREVINO-WRIGHT: I understand from the lawyers, we'll be appealing or refiling.
WEIR: We asked, but the Border Patrol does not comment on ongoing litigation. But in this letter sent to local stakeholders, they're arguing for 30 new miles of wall around this area because the Rio Grande Valley typically leads the nation and arrests of illegal immigrants. What it doesn't mention is that those numbers nationwide are way down since 2000. And Marianna says, she has witnessed three illegal crossings in the last six years.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: We absolutely are in favor of border security. If there were a national emergency, why would I drive to work here every day? We have six children. Why would they allow mom to report for duty on the banks of the Rio Grande River every day, unarmed to receive school children, and birders, and butterfliers from around the world?
WEIR: Congressionally approved plans would have spared this place. But the president's emergency order, Trump's all that.
TREVINO-WRIGHT: So, we're just watching and waiting every day to see if that machinery shows up here.
WEIR: And all the while, these little guys flutter. Oblivious to borders and politics with no idea how fragile their future might be. Bill Weir, CNN, Mission, Texas.
CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter and I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You are watching CNN, don't go anywhere.