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Trump & S. Korean President Meet on N. Korea Amid Rising U.S.- China Tensions; Small Plane Crashes on Busy California Highway. "Morning Joe" Hosts Hit Back After Trump's Vicious Tweet. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:31] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The president today just met with the president of South Korea, President Moon, at the White House, and this crucial meeting comes amid growing concerns over North Korea's nuclear program.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. Many years, and it's failed. And frankly, that patience is over. We are working closely with South Korea and Japan as well as partners around the world on a range of diplomatic security and economic measures to protect our allies and our own citizens from this menace.


So President Trump there, talking about support from regional partners, name checking Japan and South Korea, not mentioning China. The backdrop of this, tension rising between China and the U.S. over a series of sanctions and a controversial arms deal with Taiwan.

So with us now, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin.

It's been a while. So nice to see you.


So, can the U.S. And South Korea find common ground on dealing with North Korea? Because the two presidents see things very differently.

RUBIN: Well, they do. Very, very differently. The phrase, strategic patience, that President Trump just criticized in that piece of tape is a reference to the Obama administration. What happens -- and this has been happening for administration after administration, is the new team comes in and they criticize the past team's policy on North Korea. Because they imagine that through some magic combination of sanctions and diplomacy that the North Korean regime is going to change either its testing of nuclear weapons or its testing of missiles, in this case, the combination of intercontinental missiles. Meaning missiles that can hit America, not just California but New York, Washington, with a nuclear weapon on top. That's something that only a few countries in the world can do. North Korea is racing towards that. The president hasn't explained to anybody why he's got a better idea for why he will be able to stop the North Koreans from doing that. So, so far, this is --

BALDWIN: So you don't believe in that magic?

RUBIN: There is no magic there. What he has done, unlike President Obama, is raise the prospect and so has his national security adviser, General McMaster, much more loudly of a war. And this is not a small war. This is not ISIS. This is not the Iraq war. This is not anything that Americans have seen, you know, many Americans in their lifetime. This is a major conflict between a country, the United States, with its capabilities, and North Korea, which has tens of thousands of artillery pieces and other weapons that will strike a major metropolis of 10 million people within 10 minutes. In other words, we're talking about mass destruction of people's lives. I'm not telling you that that's going to happen. What I'm saying is that the casual reference to it, by President Trump, by General McMaster, they think it's somehow going to shake up the balance, and it hasn't, and I suspect it won't.

[14:35:56] BALDWIN: OK. On Russia, sir, we know that Vladimir Putin and President Trump will be meeting, or it's reported they're expected to meet, next week at the G-20 summit. Obviously hanging over this meeting, all these Russia probes. Do you think -- I guess it's too full. Do you think the president should confront Vladimir Putin when it comes to meddling in the U.S. election, and secondly, do you actually expect him to?

RUBIN: Well, the Russians, in recent years, have changed their approach to the United States and to the west and to the world. They have become the major menace in the -- in the civilized world. Across the board. Not just in hacking. And remember, when people say hacking, it's a misunderstanding. Spy agencies have been hacking each other since the computers began. What was now weaponized was that was revealing it and using it, not to change votes. And it really would help if people would explain this, to change the narrative of the campaign. So that discussion was had about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, not something else. That doesn't change votes, necessarily. But people think it was a --


BALDWIN: Interfering.

RUBIN: Interfering in our democracy and not to change votes, OK. And people should stop saying that. All right. That was one thing. There was a massive increase in its conventional forces, the invasion of Ukraine, the invasion of his aircraft of attacking all the civilians in Aleppo. So the spies in each country are now going at it. The airplanes of the United States, NATO, and Russia, every day, are having some kind of, you know, mini-dog fight. The world with Russia has gotten more dangerous across the board.

What President Putin needs to know, from an American perspective, is that we have a commander-in-chief who understands this across the board threat, not just the hacking. That was just an extreme form of, you know, kind of pickpocketing, compared to the other things I've mentioned. And the president has the wherewithal and the willingness to deter President Putin from any more of this behavior. But to deter, you have to convince the other side that you care about certain things, that you're willing to do it. And that's why all this talk about NATO is so important. If President Putin doesn't believe that Donald Trump and his NATO allies are in sync and agree and will fight together for their joint purposes --


BALDWIN: He'll take advantage of it.

RUBIN: And he won't be deterred.

BALDWIN: Right. Right. So much ado about this meeting. We'll see if, to your point, he has the power to delay -- to relay those messages, whether or not he does, or it's a quick photo-op. We'll see. But all eyes on the G-20.

Lastly, Jamie Rubin, Washington has found this rare point of agreement this week that the president, his disparaging, outrageous, you know, sexist tweets about this TV -- cable TV anchor, this female. Do you think world leaders, you know, when it comes to a war, or something just horrendous, happening around the world, where world leaders need to come together, do you think the world leaders will be able to compartmentalize the President Trump's tweets like this and move forward together? Or how much do you think of our allies' confidence in his temperament and judgment will change?

RUBIN: Well, I think the first point there is that, increasingly, our allies and most of the world are democratic nations, meaning that the leaders have to reflect, to a large degree, the views of their peoples. And if that's where the real problem for Donald Trump's tweets and behavior and irresponsibility and general grossness hurts us -- because peoples around the world used to respect the United States as a leader, as a moral beacon, as the country that stood up for human rights, the country that was to be respected. So when that respect is lost in the midst of this basically gross behavior, the peoples of the world lose respect for us. And thus, the leaders feel less compelled to follow their people. So, the lump -- the numbers are dramatic. The United States lost respect in Europe and around the world. Has tumbled in recent months as a result of the behavior of Donald Trump. That's where I would worry. I wouldn't say it so much that an individual leader is watching Donald Trump's tweet and being grossed out by it and, therefore, not wanting to work with him. Leaders will do what they think is in their national interest. And that will depend, in part, on what their population believes. That's where the danger of this. You know, gross, juvenile behavior causes our country -- we want our allies to be supportive of us. Because, if something happens, some day, we want our allies to be with us. They won't be if the president keeps grossing out the world population.

[14:40:54] BALDWIN: That's -- that's the worry.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, in London. Jamie, thank you so much.

RUBIN: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, look at this video. This small plane has just crashed on one of the busiest highways in America. This is the 405 in California. Traffic there at a standstill. We'll take you live to L.A., next.


[14:45:44] BALDWIN: Breaking news here. I want you to take a look at some pictures here as it has been -- this is the afternoon math. And there is this small plane in the middle of one of the busiest highways in this country. This is the 405 freeway in Orange County, California. This plane has crashed in the middle of essentially lunchtime traffic there. Traffic at a standstill.

Let's go straight to L.A. Sara Sidner is on this.

Sara, how, why, what happened?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is incredible that more people were not injured or even killed when you consider, as you mentioned, that this is the 450 in Orange County. It happened around 9:30 in the morning, so that's just at the tail end of rush hour traffic. It is usually packed with cars and incredibly, according to the fire department, only one vehicle had minor injuries. That person was also suffering from minor injuries. But the two people in the plane did survive this, incredibly, even after that fire. They were taken out. As we understand it from one eye-witness, one of the people in the plane, the female, dragged the male out. And so this is just an incredible story of survival at this point. But the 405, one section of it, still closed down at this hour. So we're talking several hours later.

We should also mention this. This happened right next to John Wayne Airport. We have just found out from audio that has just come into us from the tower as the pilot is talking to the tower and he says, just 11 seconds after takeoff, he says, mayday, mayday, we have a mayday. And he keeps telling the tower, the tower says, OK, the tower says, OK, we're ready for you, trying to make it back, trying to make it back to the airport and he then says that one of his engines is gone. One of his engines is blown and it's a twin-engine plane. So you can hear sort of the panic there, and you can hear the pilot trying to right himself and then trying to land. But he ends up actually landing on the 405 and you see the result of it there. Yes, there was a lot of fire. Yes, the plane has incredible amount of damage on the front end especially. But incredibly, only three people injured in this.

BALDWIN: They all survived?

SIDNER: They all survived. They all survived.

BALDWIN: Wow. The damage, the smoke, traffic.

Sara Sidner, as soon as you get more, we'll pop you back on TV.

Sara Sidner, thank you so much with that plane crash in the middle of the 405, rush hour this morning.

We'll be right back.


[14:52:04] BALDWIN: Exactly four years ago now, 19 Arizona firefighters died in one of the deadliest wild fires in U.S. history. Just a couple hours from now, a bell will ring for each of them during a memorial for the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

CNN's Martin Savidge spoke to the firefighters' loved ones at a site dedicated to them for going beyond the "Call of Duty."


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the last images of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, preparing to fight the fire that will kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOT: Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front.

SAVIDGE: A wind shift later sends flames racing toward the team, trapping them in a box canyon.

UNIDENTIFIED GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOT: Our escape route has been cut off.

SAVIDGE: All 19 men died.

In the aftermath, friends, family and officials worked to preserve the now-hallowed ground and the memories of those lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to get it right. You had to get it right.

SAVIDGE: The result is a memorial like no other that will test your heart as well as break it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a good example of the whole way.

SAVIDGE: A rugged seven-mile trail climbing more than 1,000 feet up the side of a mountain.

(on camera): Is it hard to come here?

DEBORAH KINGSTON, MOTHER OF ANDREW ASHCRAFT: Yes and no. No, because I know Andrew is in heaven.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft was one of the Hotshots killed. His mom remembers him returning from other fires covered in soot, a smile on his face, smelling of smoke as he hugged her. KINGSTON: After we lost him, I would say to my husband, can you just

a fire in the fire pit. I just need to smell Andrew for a minute.

SAVIDGE: On the trail, there are carefully placed plaques every 600 feet.

(on camera): Which means every so often, you meet a new member of the crew.

This is Andrew, Deborah's son.

The last part of the trail is the hardest of all, a 600-foot descent following the same path that the Granite Mountain crew did that day. It's tough physically. But it's very tough emotionally.

(voice-over): Because you end up here, the place where the men made their last stand. Iron crosses marking where each firefighter was found, tightly clustered. The men were as close to each other in death as they were in life.

Among them, Karen and Jim Norris' 28-year-old son.

KAREN NORRIS, MOTHER OF SCOTT NORRIS: Scott was fun-loving and adventurous and he really enjoyed making people laugh. This is a very emotional and very sacred place to me.

SAVIDGE: It's sacred to another family as well. Firefighters can often be found here, like this Montana crew hiking up during our interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to hug you. Moms got to hug.

SAVIDGE: Four years after the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, their memorial is a trail for remembering, and a path toward healing.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Yarnell, Arizona.


[14:54:55] BALDWIN: That is amazing.

Martin, thank you.

Coming up, we are keeping a close eye on the White House where President Trump is expected to sign an executive order in a minute. So we'll take that live when it happens.

Also, now, we have an audio-only White House press briefing just wrapping up. Sarah Huckabee Sanders facing some tough questions about the President Trump's tweet. Also a lot in there about health care. Much more.

We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump today is denying that he threatened two TV news anchors with an expose in the "National Enquirer." The accusation is coming as part of this response of Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. You know the story. They were the targets of a widely condemned, just outrageous tweet from the president of the United States. Today, the cable news anchors alleged the president used the "National Enquirer" to try and influence their coverage on their show.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST, MORNING JOE: We got a call that, hey, the "National Enquirer" is going to run a negative story against you guys. And it's was, you know, Donald, his friends with the president --