Return to Transcripts main page
Raids Sweeping Across The Country, As Federal Agents Go After Undocumented Immigrants In At Least Six States; North Korea Has Launched An Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, Aired 7:00-8:00p ET
Aired February 11, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with me.
Business as usual for the start of the immigration crackdown promised by President Trump. We are watching raids sweeping across the country, as federal agents go after undocumented immigrants in at least six states. These raids have, so far, netted at least 360 people, arrested at their homes and places of work. Some who has criminal convictions and some who don't.
And the deportations have been swift. We can tell you, at least three dozen of those arrested in California alone have already been sent back to Mexico. Millions of undocumented immigrants now fear the next knock on the door could see them deported, too.
Protesters are taking to the streets from Los Angeles, where highways were blocked.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: To this protest happening outside the White House, where they chanted, immigrants are welcome here. But is this all just a knee-jerk reaction? ICE officials and the White House both say yes and these raids are routine.
Important to remember here, President Obama deported more people than any previous president and immigration enforcement officials say for the most part, these raids were planned at the end of his immigration.
Let's all set the stage now as we get reaction from the ground.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is live at an ICE detention center in Phoenix, Arizona.
And Polo, these ICE officials say these raids are routine, but the public reaction has been very different compared to past operations. Why? What are you hearing?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That ICE official telling CNN that these kinds of operations, these detention and deportation operations, typically happen about two or three times a year. What is different, though, is obviously the political climate right now and that debate that is happening across the country about how the U.S. government should be prioritizing some of these cases which leads to the crux of this issue here, the immigrant activists right now, they are concerned that, for example, some of these non- violent, but undocumented offenders, could be categorized in the same group as some of the violent offenders, people who have convictions for drug trafficking, assault, and other things of that nature.
So really, that is at the heart of the debate right now. But in the meantime, we are hearing from the Trump administration, including his newly appointed secretary for the department of homeland security, who is stressing really the meaning behind what we're seeing here, some of these latest detentions and deportations. This is some of the latest comments from Secretary John Kelly. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, they're not rounding anyone up. The people that ICE apprehend are people who are people who are illegal and then some. ICE is executing the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: And this is also leading to warnings from the Mexican government, who, as we have already heard, is now reaching out to some of the Mexican citizens who are living in the United States, many without legal status, to simply be informed, Ana, before they make their way to their nearest ICE detention center to try to keep up with their immigration proceedings.
CABRERA: All right, Polo Sandoval reporting. Thank you.
Let's bring in our panel now. Famed attorney and professor at Emeritus, a Harvard law school, Alan Dershowitz, Norman Eisen, a former ethics czar for the Obama White House, also a former ambassador to the Czech Republic and a fellow with the Brookings Institution. And CNN political commentator and former Reagan White House political director, Jeffrey Lord.
Ambassador Eisen, let's start with you. Now, the planning for this immigration operation, we're hearing about, apparently began during the Obama administration. And ICE officials say other raids were part of day-to-day operations. Now, is it fair that Democrats and activists are now hitting President Trump for ripping families apart, if, indeed, these raids were planned previously?
NORMAN EISEN, FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Ana, thank you for having me. And I do think it is fair for the country and its political leaders to be asking hard questions. Planning is one thing. And there was controversy around the Obama enforcement actions, but execution of the raids is another matter. And it does seem like there's extra vigor to the execution of these raids. And one has to ask, is President Trump taking out his frustration with his losing campaign in the ninth circuit on an immigration issue, on these individuals, tearing these families apart? So I think the questions are fair. CABRERA: Jeffrey, Donald Trump promised an immigration plan, quote, a
lot of heart. How does that square with the story we have been reporting, about Guadalupe Garcia De Rayos, an undocumented immigrant mother of two who was just deported back to Mexico?
[19:05:11] JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she wasn't just an illegal immigrant, she was also a convicted felon.
CABRERA: Right, for a Social Security number that she used that was falsified.
LORD: Yes. I mean, so what does that mean? She was using it to vote? I mean, did she vote? Was she getting Obamacare? Was she - I mean, what was she doing with all of this?
CABRERA: No, but she was checking in with ICE officials year to year, even after that felony conviction, and just now happened to be deported.
LORD: She still violated American law. If you are using somebody else's Social Security in this country and you are an American citizen, you can wind up in jail and should. So, I mean, I'm just a little baffled at this. I mean, she is being -- the fact that she was here and did this is not excusable.
CABRERA: All right. Let's move on to talk about the president's travel ban.
And Professor Dershowitz, President Trump talked to reporters last night about losing the court appeal on his controversial travel ban. But now he is saying he could write a brand-new executive order. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You also talked about --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will win that battle. The unfortunate part is it takes time statutorily, so it takes a little time. But we'll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand-new order on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you planning to do that? Is that your intention?
TRUMP: Could very well be. But I like to keep you, you know, I like to surprise you. We need speed for reasons of security. So it could very well be that we do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I know it was a little bit hard to hear. We had to put up the subtitles on the screen. I don't know if you could see those. Essentially, he said, a new executive order could be possible. It could come as soon as Monday. He said speed is of the essence. Alan, you have been saying on days and days for CNN here that the
president should withdraw his order and start over. Why do you think that's his best bet?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Because, although he might win a partial victory in the Supreme Court, it would take weeks or months to do that, and he is already On the Record saying that failure to have an order in place poses a major national security threat. So I think he has no option but to issue a new order. Hopefully, it will be a constitutional order. One that will distinguish between American people on the one hand, people with green cards, people with visas that are proper, people going to American universities, and people who have no contact whatsoever with the United States. And there is a constitutional distinction between those categories. I hope he will also add some due process and will change some of the language to avoid any claims of unconstitutionality.
I want to make a broader point, though, that relates to the question you asked previously. You know, when Obama did something and when Trump does something, even if it's the same thing, you are going to get a lot of people opposing what Trump did, because Trump did it.
For example, picking the seven countries. There were no objections of very few, there were very few objections from liberals when Obama did the dry foot/wet foot policy, abolished that. And by the way, the same thing happened to Obama early in his administration. Everything he did was wrong. And I think both sides are wrong when they do this. I think you have to judge actions by the actions themselves, not by whether you like the president who engaged in those actions. And I think we need to take a step back, give the president an opportunity to govern, just like I said, we should be giving President Obama the opportunity to govern and stop with all this partisanship, which is really hurting the country in so many profound ways.
CABRERA: So let's talk about --
LORD: I disagree with Professor Dershowitz entirely.
CABRERA: I thought you would agree with him. That's why I didn't ask for your reaction, Jeffrey.
CABRERA: All right. Ambassador Eisen, though, this one to you because -- let's talk about kind of like the legal ramifications of all of this. And there was criticism of President Trump rolling out this travel ban initially kind of quickly led to chaos at airports. Ultimately, a legal defeat. Any concern that the president could be moving too fast again, saying he's coming out with something early this next week, as soon as Monday?
EISEN: Ana, I think that it's wise of the president to consider a new order, parse what he said very carefully, though. He didn't necessarily say he's going to withdraw. I want to be the first to sign up for the Alan Dershowitz for White House counsel club. Because Dershowitz is giving him the right advice! You have got to yank that unconstitutional order and replace it with a good one.
That may be the direction they go or they may be doing a supplemental or separate order. I do think that they're moving too fast. When I worked in the White House, my nickname was Mr. No. And they need somebody and the White House city council, Don McGan (ph) needs to do this, and the justice department needs to do this. It seems like Donald Trump is surrounded by yes men and women.
So I think they need to take the time. They need to do it right. The ninth circuit has given him a road map, and he would be wise, the president, to take that road map. It is true, I may even get Jeffrey to agree with me on this. It is true that the weakest part, the weakest link in the chain of the distinguish-making in the ninth circuit is the aliens who have no connection to the United States at all. And that is where he should focus. They haven't even had the -- talk about wet foot/dry foot, they haven't even set foot inside the system to have any engagement at all. That's a bright line you can draw. I think that that would rest easier with the ninth circuit, in reviewing the new order. And make no mistake about it, it will be reviewed.
[19:10:10] CABRERA: Go ahead, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: The problem is --
CABRERA: Ana --
DERSHOWITZ: I think the problem is that the people who work under Trump are terrified to disagree with him. I mean, look at what happens just today, Eliot Abrams, eminently qualified to be the undersecretary of state, a man who really could have brought about peace in the Middle East with his experience. He passes everybody's test. Tillerson says yes. Jared Kushner says yes. Even Trump says yes, after meeting with him. And then he finds out that he wrote an article critical of him back in May, and he says, no, I'm going to overrule the secretary.
It's hard to be critical of this president. And that's why anybody who accepted the role of White House counsel or Mr. No in the White House would be doing it at the risk of his job. I'm very much worried that people are not going to stand up.
Look what happened to the office of legal counsel. They approved this horrible order without giving him the kind of criticism that office of legal counsel is supposed to do. I think people are afraid that if they give him the truth, he is not going to -- he's going to --
CABRERA: Jeffrey, are people in his circle too afraid to confront him with something he may not want to hear?
LORD: No, I don't think so. And Ana, two quick things here. Number one, in terms of Eliot Abrams, whom I like enormously and respect a great deal, he was getting blowback not from inside the Trump administration, but from a lot of folks out there who were Trump supporters, who would disdain for what is called in the trade Neo Conservatives, of which Eliot is one. So I know for a fact that there was blowback against that -- that there might have been some political problems with that.
And secondly, as to President Trump himself, and this -- and the court order, et cetera, the president is not one to go down rabbit holes. He wants to win, as he's famously noted. So I can assure you, based on his performance both in his business and his campaign, he will do with this executive order whatever he thinks he needs to do to accomplish his objective.
CABRERA: All right. We will end it there. Thank you all so much for joining us. A lot of good points.
LORD: Thanks, Ana!
EISEN: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Thank you.
Coming up, Russia calling national security adviser general Michael Flynn walking back some of the denials initially that he talked sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump was even in office. Did he break the law?
Plus, a fury of raw emotion at Republican town halls as constituents confront lawmakers face to face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you will be quiet and give me an opportunity, I'll speak. Or would you just rather for you to yell and scream and holler -- is that what you want? OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:16:51] CABRERA: Breaking news here on CNN. This is from overseas. Word from South Korea that their neighbor to the north has now launched some type of ballistic missile.
Joining me on the phone, Matt Rivers. He is joining us from Seoul.
Matt, what have you learned about this ballistic missile launch.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, we are still very much in the initial stages of figuring out what exactly North Korea has done here, but a defense official literally just confirmed a few seconds ago with our producer here in south Korea, an official with the south Korean defense ministry here, that a ballistic missile test was launched around 7:55 a.m. local time this morning. But the big questions that you have to ask every time you hear this kind of line is what kind of missile was launched and was the test successful? And we don't have the answers so far to either of those two questions.
There's a couple different kind of options that North Korea could launch in terms of missiles. There's short-range, medium-range, and of course these long-rain intercontinental ballistic missiles that you have heard quite a bit about. And to be frank, we just don't know yet what kind of missile was launched, and also whether this particular test was successful.
But regardless of what kind of test it was and whether or not it was successful, the timing of this test is obviously very important, given that this is the first ballistic missile test that we have seen the North Koreans conduct since Donald Trump became president. The last time they conducted such missile tests was back on October 20th, obviously, before Election Day. And so, this really is going to be the first test, when it comes to North Korea, for this brand-new administration dealing with so many other things at the moment.
And we also heard lots of bluster from the North Koreans about specifically intercontinental ballistic missiles. The kind of missiles that could potentially reach the United States. North Korea has never successfully tested one of those missiles yet, but it is something that they have been working on for a long time and we heard their leader, Kim Jong-Un, in January, say that the North Koreans were in the final stages of developing that kind of missile to test.
And so that is the big question we have right now, Ana. What kind of missile was this? How successful was this test? And how is the Trump administration going to respond?
CABRERA: And what was the motivation or message wanting to be sent here.
I want to bring in our CNN military analyst, lieutenant general Mark Hertling, to talk more about the timing of all of this.
Obviously, not a huge surprise, we know. The world has been anticipating some sort of missile test since last month. It was January 1st when Kim Jong-Un said that they would be testing an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile soon, at the time. We also know that at the beginning days of President Obama's administration, there was a missile test. And again, even after his second term started, there was, within a short amount of time, another missile test. So, there seems to be a pattern. What do you make about the timing of this, and of course, knowing that the Japanese leader is here in the U.S.?
[19:20:03] LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, that's the other interesting aspect of this, Ana. And the North Koreans have done this with every president. And what we were talking about is two different types of missiles.
They have fired what's called a Musadan missile that has the range of about five - 2500 kilometers on several occasions. That is not the intercontinental ballistic missile. They have another one that they have been working which has a range of about 7,500 kilometers. That could hit the United States. And they are desperately saying they want to do this. And as we remember, a few weeks ago, President Trump tweeted that they would never get a missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile while he was in office. Now, this new missile has a new rocket engine, it's supplied by the
Russians, it has a Russian design, but just because they are testing this doesn't mean that it's going to be successful. And that they haven't connected any kind of warhead to it.
When you have an ICBM, you also have to do things like have a heat shield on the entry vehicle to prevent it from burning up, if it was a nuclear weapon or even a conventional missile. You have to have a two-stage design, which they have been working on, where one stage falls off as the rocket goes up. It has to withstand g forces as it launches.
All of these things the North Koreans have not been successful with. But just the very fact that they are firing this, and many of us, in fact, I predicted a few weeks ago on CNN that they would fire a missile within 30 to 60 days to test Mr. Trump. And now that Prime Minister Abe is here with him, I think they will have a lot to talk about tonight, other than their golf scores.
CABRERA: Well, stay with me, general. I also want to bring in CNN political commentator, Jeffrey Lord.
Jeffrey, you obviously know our president personally. It might be the first major international crisis, perhaps, of the Trump administration. Certainly, a test of his administration. Given what you know of him and about him, how do you anticipate he might deal with this?
LORD: Well, he's a very steady executive. I mean, he's an executive's executive. So he will doubtless get all the facts, talk with as many people as he needs to do, and then his reaction will be based on that. It's very interesting, as the general said, that the prime minister of Japan is not only with him, but he's not with him at the White House, he's with him at Mar-a-Lago. And you know, there are a number of American presidents, President Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, took the king and queen of England in World War II or right before the start of World War II to hike park for hot dogs. President Bush 41, I think, took the president of Egypt to his home in Maine, and President Reagan took Queen Elizabeth to his ranch in Santa Barbara.
This is a treat, if you will, for the foreign dignitary. And I think it's a sign of the bonding that might be going on with President Trump. And he's really getting to know him and making him his new next best friend.
CABRERA: Getting back to this missile launch, general Hertling, if you were advising President Trump on what he should do now, what would you say?
HERTLING: Well, a couple of things, Ana. The first is, they have been in office -- the president has been in office for less than 30 days. His national security team is completely not in place. Now, the big players are, certainly the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the national security adviser. But they have been focusing most of their attention on signing executive orders and starting the kind of things that Mr. Trump promised on his campaign trail.
In conversations I have had with individuals on the national Security Council, they have not conducted rehearsals to address any kind of emergency action procedures, what they call EAPs. And that's where you have the national security team come together, actually practice some type of emergency reaction, get the press involved, know how the statements are going to go out, understand how each other's talking, who is bringing in information. And they have not rehearsed that yet.
The other thing that's critical is they don't even have all the members of their team together yet. The NSC is about 20 percent filled, from what I can understand, and most of those filled are still coming from other agencies. There hasn't been the appointments, the subordinate appointments in both the state department and the defense department have not been made yet. So there's a lot of missing holes right now.
This is the expectations that when you have an emergency action, when someone is testing the president, these are the kind of things that you are concerned, first of all, how to analyze that data, how to talk about it, and then how to get the word out to the American people, as well as put different organizations on alert.
The military and some of the security agencies are doing what they need to do, because they're used to this concept. But we have a whole new steam onboard, who I think is going to find some new dynamics as they work through these kind of issues.
CABRERA: Lieutenant general Mark Hertling and Jeffrey Lord, we are going to leave it there. Actually, go ahead, Jeffrey, we'll give you the last word.
LORD: I just want to say -- I think defense secretary Mattis has already been to Korea as one of his first stops to South Korea. So I'm sure he's coming back with fresh information.
[19:25:10] HERTLING: Jeffrey, general Mattis has been there several times before, so I think he is just reaffirming the ties, but he is just a very small part of the national Security Council --
LORD: Right, right. But he was there.
CABRERA: He was there. He will be part of the discussion, likely, as the Trump administration moves forward now in responding to North Korea and this missile test.
Again, general Mark Hertling, Jeffrey Lord, Matt Rivers, our thanks to all of you.
We are going to take a quick break. We will be right back.
[19:29:21] CABRERA: Updating you on the breaking news here on CNN. Word from South Korea that their neighbor to the north has launched
some type of ballistic missile. We are still working to gather more information on exactly what type of missile this is. But, of course, it comes as Prime Minister Abe with Japan is here in the U.S. visiting president Donald Trump. It is the first ballistic missile launch of any sort by North Korea since the Trump administration took office.
Back with us now, Ambassador Norman Eisen. I want to first just get your initial thoughts about what we're hearing about this ballistic missile launch.
EISEN: Well, Ana, having had the privilege, but also, the responsibility of sitting in an embassy and trying to calculate the actions of foreign governments with respect to the United States.
This is a test of Donald Trump. And it's intended, of course, Japan is our other major security ally with South Korea and the region. And the North Koreans are well aware of Donald Trump's remarks during the campaign that perhaps Japan should get its own nuclear weapons. So I think they are stirring the pot.
I think it is very important that we and the president and our allies not overreact to North Korea. President Trump is going to have to set a steady course. The North Koreans have vexed every president since Truman and they are going to do the same for Donald Trump.
[19:30:54] CABRERA: mentioned them perhaps testing our new administration. We talked about the tweet by Donald Trump back in January on the 2nd, in fact, when he wrote, North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen.
Do you think that was a little bit of a, I don't know, a go ahead and try it type of comment made by President Trump on twitter?
EISEN: Well, President Trump is finding out that the world is much more complicated than 140 characters, Ana. And, you know, look at his China behavior. And by the way, the North Korea reaction may be in response to the Chinese's toughness towards Trump. He seemed to assault the one China policy, embrace the prospect of change with Taiwan. The Chinese gave him the silent treatment, and lo and behold, on all the news this week, it may not have gotten as much attention as it should have.
President Trump buckled. He embraced. He went back and embraced the one China policy. So the world is harder, and when you do that, when you retrench, the North Koreans say, OK, let me push. They're like spoiled children. When they feel they're not getting the attention they want. They always act out. And you have to treat them with that in mind.
CABRERA: I want to bring in Elise Labott. She is joining us from Washington. Elise, upon this news, what are you learning from your sources?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we have a variety of U.S. officials and a defense official telling us that it does appear some launch took place. It looks like, initially, it seems like an intermediate range ballistic missile, not what they call an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is the longest kind of -- which would reach basically the U.S. -- could reach the U.S. mainland. This has about a range of up to maybe 6,500 kilometers. Certainly, that could reach Australia, Japan, and South Korea, maybe U.S. territories in Guam, maybe even Hawaii, but it's not the kind of missile, you know, that's an earth-shattering missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.
But clearly, the U.S. has been looking at this for some time. They have expected that North Korea would launch some kind of missile test. They thought it might happen around President Trump's inauguration. There was some reports that there was increased activity at some of the sites. And North Korea has been saying, we are going to test some kind of long-range missile. And generally, the U.S. takes North Korea at its word.
So, I do agree, this is a test for President Trump. I don't think it's a coincidence that Japanese Prime Minister Abe is at Mar-a-Lago with President Trump this weekend, trying to have a nice relaxing weekend, certainly this was on the agenda yesterday, when the two leaders met, but now it's going to be on the agenda once again. North Korea does not like to be ignored.
They do sometimes act like a petulant child, but sometimes that petulant child throws a temper tantrum and there are dangerous repercussions. And certainly that's the case with North Korea. I do think for President Trump to say, you know, North Korea, there's increased activity, they're making the threats, it isn't going to happen. I think North Korea has shown over the years with a series of nuclear tests, with more than a the dozen missile tests in recent years, that it is continuing to grow its nuclear and its missile program at an alarming rate.
And this is something the incoming Trump administration has been very concerned about. And officials have been debating on what to do. I think you're going to see a very serious response at the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. will be looking at further measures for North Korea, Ana.
CABRERA: Lieutenant general Mark Hertling is still with us here. And now that we have learned it does not appear to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that they fired, but rather some kind of ballistic missile that is in the intermediate range, what's your take? Or what's your reaction, general?
[19:35:08] HERTLING: Well, it's still a step toward an ICBM, and that's the goal of the North Korean politicians. They want an ICBM. It is gaining attention. They continue to launch these tests, Ana, and last year, there were multiple tests, in fact, some of the people that were monitoring some of these missile tests said they almost lost track of them. But as I said previously, there are several factors that go into building an ICBM.
But this intermediate ballistic missile is certainly dangerous. It has a greater range than some of the Musudan missiles that they have been testing prior to that. And it's not only a concern for the United States to hit the mainland of the United States, but it also has concerns for all of our Asia partners. Japan is critical, North Korea, certainly. The outskirts of Seoul are about 75 miles from the border with North Korea. So you're actually within artillery range, much less rocket range of North Korea when you're in South Korea. And that's always been a concern, would North Korea perhaps attack South Korea with a missile and cause diplomatic problems within the various countries that are defending South Korea, not only the United States but Australia and New Zealand and others. So all of these things have implications, but it has always been North Koreans' intent to continue to drive towards an ICBM with a nuclear tip warhead.
CABRERA: So Elise, is this still considered a ratcheting up of any sort by North Korea? Or is this more of the same?
LABOTT. Well, I think it's more of the same. But you saw that North Korea kind of took a step back, maybe the rhetoric continued with President Trump coming in. But I think they have been watching and waiting, trying to see, you know, keeping their powder dry, so to speak, for an opportunity. And I don't think anybody, you know, really thought that this wouldn't happen. Clearly, they have been saying that they're going to do this.
And like I said, they will not be ignored. And so this is a continuation of that. But to continue on what the general was saying, it is -- even though it's not the kind of intercontinental ballistic missile, the intermediate range is very concerning because of U.S. allies, because of U.S. territories that could be reached, but also because as the general said, North Korea does want an ICBM and every time they make a test, every time they test a launch, this brings them closer to that point. So a lot of times, you heard the Obama administration say, well, it's a medium range or it's not a long-range missile, it's not a satellite, but they do continue to improve their program at every point.
And so, you know, how many intermediate range missile tests does it take until they have perfected the long-range missile? So every test they make is of great concern. And you know, the Trump administration is going to have Korea. The Obama administration exercised this policy of what they called strategic patience. They were not going to negotiate with North Korea until North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program. And what happened? You had eight years of North Korea continuing the program, continuing to develop their missile and nuclear technology. Continuing to impose -- get sanctions that were not really effective. And so there is a lot of discussion among the administration on what to do.
I think you are going to see an initial, you know, ratcheting up of pressure on North Korea, perhaps, you know, President Trump has said he wants to increase pressure on the Chinese to in turn put pressure on North Korea. I think you will see that. But at some time, you know, experts have said, there has to be some dialogue with North Korea. Or it's basically delaying it until North Korea, you know, does something very dangerous with a nuclear weapon. CABRERA: So ambassador Eisen, all of this being said, that what we
have learned, if you are the Trump administration or were advising the Trump administration, how do they react? How seriously do they take this threat? And how quickly do they need to put some kind of message out there in return?
EISEN: Well, number one, the strategic patience met with frustration. But the dialogue approach of the George W. Bush administration also was challenged, because the North Koreans are very different characters.
Number two, I agree, China is the key here. And what a shame that the president and his administration squandered the opportunity while they were so busy cozying up to Russia, squandered the opportunity to build relations with China. Fortunately, they did a reset this week. We'll see where that goes.
Third, they need to have a long-term strategy. They need to understand what is what does North Korea want? Number one, they seem to want to be taken seriously. Number two, they definitely want food and other economic aid. We need to work with the Chinese and other allies. That's the key. We need to find multiple pressure points.
So the Trump administration is going to be confronted with one of the hardest problems in international diplomacy. It is good that President Trump is sitting with Shinzo Abe and maybe, but for the complexities of South Korean politics, he should do the same with the South Koreans. Their politics, unfortunately, are in total disarray now. That's another aspect of the North Korean testing. One of the -- one of our critical allies in even more political chaos than we are, Ana.
CABRERA: We are showing some images of the president having dinner and a meeting with Prime Minister Abe. Again, a reminder that this missile test has happened at the time while the prime minister of Japan is visiting the U.S. And we know that in a statement that they released, a joint statement from the president and Prime Minister Abe yesterday, they talked about how they have doubled down on defense of each other and that the U.S. would be most definitely behind japan, and even after the rhetoric that we heard from president on the campaign trail, saying, maybe Japan should have nuclear weapon capabilities of its own. So, all of that really setting the stage prior to this missile test, general.
HERTLING: Yes, and that's a very good point, Ana. One of the things that we have seen, as Mr. Trump has come into office, is the commentary about how, what a successful businessman he has been. And there's been illusions to the fact that most of his negotiation has been binary. One on one, with another country. I think he is going to get a very quick lesson in terms of the criticality of alliances right now. Because you can't deal with North Korea one on one. It has to be a combination of dealing with China. He has insulted them. He has made comments about japan and the potential for them getting nuclear weapons. He has made comments about South Korea, saying they're not paying enough for U.S. defense forces over there. He has insulted the Australian prime minister. Australia is part of this, as well as New Zealand, and several other countries.
So I think, you know, as you get Mr. Tillerson onboard, as general Mattis gets a better feel, as the national security adviser really focuses on these kind of crisis, I think the new president is going to find out, there is no such thing as binary deal making in a globalized world. He has got to pull together an alliance to counter these kind of missile launches by North Korea.
CABRERA: All right. All of you, stay with me. We have got to squeeze in a quick break. We'll continue our coverage of this ballistic missile launch by North Korea when we return.
[19:46:11] CABRERA: We are continuing to follow breaking news here on CNN.
Word from South Korea that North Korea has launched an intermediate range ballistic missile. Now, it went into the sea, we are learning and it appears that they have launched this intermediate range ballistic missile just in the at last 24 hours or so.
CNN global affairs analyst, Elise Labott is joining us now.
And I understand you have some new reporting for us, Elise?
LABOTT. Well, Ana, I just want to point something out. This is like the benefit of our viewers, who are kind of tweeting us information. And someone just reminded me that the U.S. and japan passed this kind of critical test on Monday, which is about the anti-defense missile shield. And they were able to intercept the exact kind of intermediate range missile that North Korea seems to have launch today. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the U.S. and Japan did this on Monday, and now you have President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe having dinner tonight in Mar-a-Lago. They met yesterday at the White House. Obviously, North Korea was huge on the agenda.
And so I think that this, you know, obviously, we know that these type of missiles by North Korea, these launch, in addition to trying to develop their missile and nuclear program and improve their technology, they're also sending a message. Who is that message to? It's to President Trump, but also to the U.S., Japan, and South Korea alliance that says that they are going to increase their defenses against North Korea. And this is a message to North Korea to say, we will not be ignored. And they will continue to try to develop those type of missiles that may be they don't think will be intercepted.
The U.S. is obviously discussing what to do with North Korea. That's certainly part of the agenda between the two leaders. You had defense secretary Jim Mattis in the region, in japan, in South Korea, sending that message that the U.S. is very concerned about the North Korean growing, nuclear, and missile program, and that the U.S. is ready to increase their defenses in the region.
CABRERA: Elise Labott, stand by. I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent, Athena Jones,
traveling with the president, joining us now from Florida and the Mar- a-Lago estate there.
I'm wondering, Athena, we know that the Prime Minister Abe from Japan is visiting. He and the president getting ready to have some dinner, I understand. Have you noticed anything changing where you are in terms of a scramble, in terms of the team there to react?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we are no longer near the estate, but I can tell you about the press pool that is at the estate, that is at Mar-a-Lago. And they are reporting that they are going to try to ask the president to respond to this news. I have been reaching out to White House sources, also reaching out to Japanese sources to get any sort of response, to learn anything about whether either leader has been briefed about this news, whether the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has been briefed, what they might say. And so we're hoping that the press pool gets an opportunity sometime in the next few minutes to get some sort of response from the White House. It's unclear if they are still monitoring the situation, as the folks are at the Pentagon or the state department or if they were caught flat footed.
We do know, as I believe you guys have been discussing, that there have been some warning signals last month that this could be in the works. We have also been discussing the fact that North Korea likes to test the new president. We know they conducted just a month into his second term early. And President Obama first term. And that early last year, Pyongyang said it successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. So this is a way to flex their muscles.
And as Elise Labott just said, it's no coincidence this is happening when the president and Prime Minister Abe are having this weekend of friendship and getting to know one another. This was certainly a topic of conversation in that first official meeting at the White House yesterday. It was included in the official communique, the joint statement where they talked about how both countries strongly urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and not to take any further provocative actions. Well, clearly, this is how North Korea is answering that part of that statement. They're doing exactly what the U.S. and Japan hope they wouldn't -- Ana.
[19:50:26] CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones, stand by with us.
I want to bring in Gordon Chang. He is a contributor to the "Daily Beast." Also author of "Nuclear showdown, North Koreas take on the world.
Gordon, first, what's the message that North Korea is trying to send here, do you think?
GORDON CHANG, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, there could be various messages. But I think the important thing here is that this launch undercuts North Korea's interests in South Korea and it also undercuts China's position in South Korea. And so, it's curious that they do not want South Korea to deploy the U.S. sat anti-defense anti- missile system. And when North Korea launches a missile, it just gives impetus to South Korea to go ahead with the U.S. plan. So China can't be happy about this, unless there's some motives we don't know about.
Also, we also know that the North Koreans have an interest in roiling the political scene because a missile launch could help the conservatives. So it's very strange timing for North Korea.
CABRERA: And I'm just looking at an urgent message that is crossing our wires here. Ministry of defense official telling CNN the projectile fired by North Korea was a ballistic missile and it traveled 500 kilometers. That source adds that further details are going to be analyzed by South Korea and the U.S.
So to you now, lieutenant general Mark Herting, now that we know it traveled about 500 kilometers, does that give you a better sense of their ongoing capabilities?
HERTLING: No, that's actually less than the capability of the Musadan rocket is, Ana.
What we are talking is just some testing. And when you're talking about the development of missile systems, a couple of things you have to occur. You first of all not only have to get the rocket to stay together and launch and hit the G forces as going in the atmosphere, but it also has to hit the target. And North Korea is notoriously poor at having missiles that have any kind of accuracy. That's why they launch them into the sea.
I will make comment little earlier, you were talking about the cooperation between Japan and the United States, testing something called the SM-3. Believe it or not, SM stands for standard missile. It's an air defense system that Japanese and the United States have been testing. They did launch one a few days ago off one of the atolls in the pacific. That's in complement to something that has been debated recently about putting the T.H.A.D. system, the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system on the South Korean peninsula to defend against these North Korean missiles.
So there is a combination of ground based interceptors, sea based interceptors off the aegis type cruisers in the U.S. Navy, and also this missile system that could potentially protect. But again, you know, it depends on how that missile leaves North Korea, what direction it's flying in, how far it's going, the accuracy of its payload, what it's carrying. All those things determine whether or not you have a successful missile launch. In this case, if the North Koreans launched a missile that went 500 kilometers, that's not very far. It's something they have already done many times in the past. This is no advancement. It's just another launch.
CABRERA: But what do you think is the reaction he's trying to solicit from the president of the United States, Gordon Chang?
CHANG: Well, Donald Trump tweeted that North Korea would not launch a ballistic missile. Kim Jong-Un in his new year's message said this was something that was going to happen soon. Trump said it wasn't going to happen. So Kim Jong-Un did what Donald Trump said could not occur. And so therefore, it's a direct challenge to the United States. It's very good politics back home in Pyongyang. Kim Jong- Un's hold on power might be a little bit shaky. He had to purge his minister of internal security about a week ago. So therefore, you know, this might be an attempt to bolster his position with the military.
[19:55:011] CABRERA: All right. We are going to have to take a quick break. Stay with us, all of our guests -- Athena, Elise, lieutenant general Mark Hertling and Gordon Chang, we will talk to you more in just a moment.
[19:58:50] CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And we are following breaking news at this hour here on CNN.
Confirmation now that North Korea has launched some type of ballistic missile. That confirmation coming from both South Korean and American officials. White
House correspondent Athena Jones is in south Florida near President Trump's resort there. Also with me, Elise Labott, global affairs correspondent in Washington, D.C.
But first, to CNN's Matt Rivers in Seoul.
Matt, some things we don't know yet will determine how critical this missile launch is, but what are your sources telling you?
RIVERS: Well, we are learning in just the last half hour or so that the type of missile that was launched appears to be an intermediate range ballistic missile, which is crucially important here in terms of determining how important this ballistic missile test is in terms of a broader strategic gain for the North Koreans. Because what we have heard from the North Koreans for a long time now, especially in January of this year is that they were in the final stages of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, a long range missile, a missile that could potentially hit the United States at some point. And this missile test does not appear to be, according to sources, that kind of a missile test. This missile we know only traveled about 500 kilometers or so before crashing into the sea. And we still don't know yet whether it was a successful test or not. We are still talking --.