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North Korea Announces Successful ICBM Launch; Governor Chris Christie Faces Backlash Over Beach Photos. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 4, 2017 - 06:00   ET

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


[06:00:00] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We see an image of him as well actually giving his signature. He was there at the test site and he has claimed this a great success. So certainly much concern around the region.

The South Korean President Moon Jae-in saying that he warned North Korea not to cross the bridge of no return, also saying that if North Korea does cross the red line then he said for U.S. and South Korea, we don't know what our response would be, but he doesn't specify what the red line is -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul. Paula, thank you so much.

President Trump did respond immediately after the launch. He scolded Kim Jong-un with a statement that he put out on Twitter. The president once again has called on China to ramp up pressure on North Korea and all this as he prepares to travel to Germany for the G-20 Summit where he will meet face to face with many world leaders including for the first time with Vladimir Putin.

Now this is a meeting that could reshape the global political landscape.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House with the latest on that -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, North Korea's aggression again testing this president, putting pressure on him to see how he will respond, whether or not he will actually escalate the tension between the countries. At the same time he is also encouraging and pushing China to play a much bigger role in confronting the North Korean threat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump defiant in his response to North Korea's 11th missile launch this year, tweeting about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all."

The president prodding China to do more to confront North Korea, coming one day after a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The White House saying in a statement that President Trump raised the growing threat of North Korea's weapons program. The Chinese offering a more critical take. Noting that the U.S.-Chinese relationship is being affected by some negative factors.

President Trump issuing this stern warning on Friday after meeting with the president of South Korea.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. Frankly that patience is over.

MALVEAUX: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster confirmed publicly that the U.S. has updated its military options against Pyongyang.

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We can't repeat the same approach -- failed approach of the past. The president has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea.

MALVEAUX: The president's posture towards China clearly changing in recent weeks. Trump appearing to lose faith in Beijing's willingness to take on North Korea.

TRUMP: I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China but that doesn't seem to be working out.

MALVEAUX: Trump warning in April that he is willing to take unilateral action if China does not do more to contain the threat.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: They have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime.

MALVEAUX: This growing tension coming as President Trump prepares to leave for the G-20 Summit this week in Germany, where he is expected to sit down with President Xi and the leaders of Japan and South Korea, two other countries that the U.S. considers essential to confronting Kim Jong-un.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And President Trump's meeting with President Xi is just one of many high stakes significant meetings with world leaders at the G- 20 Summit in Germany. Take a look, of course at a lot of anticipation for his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, also a sit-down with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel, who famously did not get a handshake when she was here at the White House, she is already describing the talks with Trump particularly as being very difficult especially when it comes to climate change -- Alisyn, John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss all of the news this morning. CNN military analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton, congressional reporter for the "Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Happy Fourth to all of you.

Colonel, I want to start with you. So we do not know at this hour whether this was an intercontinental ballistic missile or an intermediate range missile and I guess the difference is whether or not it could actually reach the U.S.?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, that's right, Alisyn. Good morning. The basic idea between an intermediate range missile is the range and, you know, so you're talking a max range of about 3400 miles. If it's intercontinental ballistic missile, it's greater than that range and that could conceivably put it within range of Alaska. Put Alaska in the range of this missile.

What you're seeing here is the possible use of a North Korean missile known as the KN-14. That's a development of another North Korean missile, which has purported to have a similar range.

[06:05:06] But it's a lot -- it's a bit smaller than the KN-08 and what that means is that they're getting more efficient on how they use fuel and more efficient in how they're actually deploying this missile.

BERMAN: And Colonel, there does seem to be some question right now whether it's intermediate or intercontinental. But there doesn't seem to be any question that North Korea is speeding up the advances in its missile technology. It's getting better at this and is doing more tests.

I saw Kim Jong-un has done more tests in the last year than his father did, you know, during his entire reign. So this is something he's clearly deeply interested in. And how much further then do the North Koreans have to go before the U.S. is at direct threat? We don't know if they can miniaturize a nuclear technology yet. Is that correct?

LEIGHTON: That's right. And that's what is really stopping us from declaring an intercontinental missile with nuclear capability, John. So what you're seeing here is them definitely going into those areas that require the types of things that would make it, in fact, a true intercontinental ballistic missile and if they miniaturize the nuclear capability, put a nuclear warhead on top of that missile, then you have true danger.

You have another nuclear power that has intercontinental capabilities and that then becomes the game changer, that becomes the one thing that makes it very difficult for us to deal with the North Koreans, and it also makes it very hard for us to, you know, really put a stop to this development.

We may want to put them on ice as far as nuclear developments are concerned but that is just not going to happen.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Ron Brownstein, on the eve of the G-20, this is a major challenge for President Trump. So he's given different signals. He's said via Twitter it's time for China to step up but we understand from reporting that in a conversation with President Xi of China, that he had also signaled that the U.S. might be willing to do something after learning somehow.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, first of all it is a reminder that there is a real world of real threats and real challenges that go beyond wrestling videos. I mean, this is a job that literally at times can have the fate of the world seemingly in the balance.

And I think President Trump is not the first president from either party, first of all, to have been frustrated by the lack of good options on North Korea, and second, in his frustration, I think, with Xi Jinping, not the first president who kind of thought that a personal rapport with a fortunately leader would overrule and override contrasting interests of -- you know, of the nations themselves.

We saw it with George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, you know, when he looked in his eyes and saw his soul. This is -- I mean this is a fundamental problem, a kind of conundrum, where China is the one power that seems to have the ability, if it put all of its shoulder of the wheel to exert some leverage on North Korea, and yet for their own reasons they have been unwilling to go nearly as far as any American president wants them.

Now we have seen this problem, as President Trump accurately says, you know, grow deeper presidency after presidency in part because there are no easy options. And when we talk about military options, you know, there is the reality that Seoul is within easy reach of North Korean conventional munitions, so there's a reason we have gotten to this point, and it is largely because we don't have an easy key to turn to make this go away, but that doesn't mean that we're not going to be talking about it a lot more because the threat continues to advance.

BERMAN: No, it's the same futility faced by the last three presidents, as Ron points out. And we just heard President Trump say in the Rose Garden the era of strategic patience has ended, and just didn't work. He was referring to President Obama's strategy.

Whatever new strategy of the Trump administration, Karoun, hasn't worked any better either. You know, the president before he took office on January 2nd sent out a tweet, sent out a very -- you know, a bold statement about the North Korean missile tests that North Korea just stated that it's in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen.

He said it won't happen and of course maybe overnight, we don't know what the range is, it's possible North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. It's possible that the president is learning the limits of some of these statements.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And it's also interesting to note that his tweets about doesn't North Korea have anything better to do came before we start hearing talk about that this might be an intercontinental ballistic missile. So he hasn't really commented on it since that bit came out from North Korea.

But it's interesting. You know, the president has clearly thought that North Korea is a major threat. It's been in the forefront of his mind, it is well reported that that was something that concerned him the most, he was getting his earliest briefings about the situation in the globe. But he hasn't really defined his strategy from North Korea even though he's taken steps to suggest that he may be trying to pursue a different strategy.

He's talked about, well, thanks for trying, China, didn't work out as well as we hoped it to. He's talked about, OK, we may have military options on the table. But is he going to actually deploy those? Is he actually going to take -- military options you actually use that is a very, very serious step. It could escalate a situation beyond what we could control, especially if China is not on board.

[06:10:09] You just played the tape of Tillerson talking about how Chinese exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea and that is true. But we're also -- we've been stopping short of exercising what diplomatic and economic pressure we can on China to exert that pressure then on North Korea because it's been limited, because we have a relationship with China that we're afraid of blowing up and antagonizing as well.

So as much as the president has said that these things are on the table and that things are changing with China with the military option, to actually do that is not something he's done in a measurable way to actually change the course of this and now we're dealing with this first very serious test for him if all this talk is going to lead to actual change in what they do.

CAMEROTA: So -- but, Colonel, let's talk about what action President Trump could take? I mean, obviously it's unacceptable to everyone that North Korea keeps escalating. So what if the U.S. had to somehow take action or go it alone? What would that look like?

LEIGHTON: Well, that would be a pretty drastic situation, Alisyn, so what you could see is some kind of effort to suppress the missiles before they actually start their path toward a target. So that would mean actually actively seeking out these missiles. They are probably on mobile launchers which makes it even harder for us to track them and to find out, you know, where they are and where they're going.

So these types of things would be very difficult to do. It could involve covert action. There's always the favorite of using cyber techniques to go after the North Koreans but that really has limited utility in a country that is not really connected to the Internet and certainly doesn't use the Internet like we do to exercise command and control over its forces.

So it would require a combination of conventional and unconventional military efforts and it would be a very risky proposition because as I think Ron pointed out, this puts Seoul right in the crosshairs of North Korea conventional artillery, and that is a dangerous proposition right there. BERMAN: I just want to point one thing out. The Russians has just

came out with a statement saying they believe it's an intermediate range missile. Again we don't know if that's true. It's more convenient diplomatically for every country on earth if it's intermediate and not intercontinental. But again we're waiting for more information from the Pentagon on this.

CAMEROTA: All right. Panel, thank you very much for helping us break down this breaking news this morning. We will check back with you.

Meanwhile back here at home the government shutdown in New Jersey is over but the fallout continues for Governor Chris Christie. So wait until you hear what he's now saying after getting caught soaking up the sun at a beach that he closed for the rest of the public? The latest on beachgate when this special edition of NEW DAY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:16:30] CAMEROTA: OK. We are happy to report that just in time for the holidays, state beaches and parks are reopening in New Jersey today after an 11th hour budget agreement ending this three-day government shutdown.

But of course the focus is still on the governor, Chris Christie, after pictures showed up of him and his family relaxing on a beach that he had ordered closed to the public.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live in New Jersey with the latest.

So give us how this all got resolved.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the governor signed that $34.7 billion budget measure last night. So parks like Liberty State Park like this one will be open, the beaches will be open.

The state will be back in business but as you say, no one in this state or across the country for that matter are going to forget those pictures of the governor and his family lounging out on that state beach that had been closed you'll remember because of the budget shutdown. They're not going to forget those pictures any time soon.

The governor initially saying that he didn't get any sun but then once a reporter noticed that he looked like he had a tan he later said that -- actually his spokesperson came out and said he actually did get sun or actually that he was wearing a baseball cap so that he was able to be out there but didn't get the sun that he said that he initially had.

A very strange explanation, the hypocrisy not lost on many people here in the state, upset over the prospect of not being able to celebrate the Fourth of July out on state beaches or out in parks like this one.

Christie for his part, though, remaining defiant as ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The way I took Claude's question was, hey, were you like out laying out getting a tan today? That wasn't what I was doing and that's not what those pictures show. I'm sitting there with a baseball hat and shorts and a T-shirt talking to my wife.

Now if they had flown that plane over to that beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blond in that beach chair next to me, that's a story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: OK. Still trying to make a joke out of it. But once again, Alisyn, you know, not a lot of people here in the state finding any humor in this at all. This was a man who at one point after his failed run for president, there was some thought that perhaps he would have a spot in the Trump administration but after you had this particular incident that happened, you had another political scandal even before this one, that prospect now very much in question.

You also have to remember despite all the political scandals, this is a governor who has the lowest approval rating not just of any governor in recent memory here in the state, but across the country, hovering at just 15 percent.

Christie for his part saying he doesn't care about approval numbers but as you guys know we always hear politicians say that when they don't have the numbers -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Jason, thank you very much for all of that.

BERMAN: OK. Let's bring back our panel right now. Joining us, Errol Louis, Ron Brownstein, Karoun Demirjian.

You know, Errol Louis, Jason brought up the approval rating. It's almost impossibly low. John McCain has a joke about approval ratings that you're down to paid staffers and close family. This is beneath that. This is paid staffers and close family. You know, 15 percent here. And it's a staggering, stunning fall for Chris Christie who, you know, at one point may have been one of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination. He gave the keynote in the 2012 Republican convention and now he's at 15 percent with photos of him on a beach.

ERROR LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You know, I remember the sound check at the Tampa convention, when he was out on the floor and people just flocked to him. There was this glow around him before he gave what was later called the me-note.

BERMAN: Right.

[06:20:03] LOUIS: He spoke more about himself than about Mitt Romney who he was ostensibly there to nominate. But things went very, very badly for Chris Christie and frankly, some of the problems were evident even before 2012. Chris Christie came in and had a serious structural pension problem that has really metastasized and they are now in sort of the worst state of any state of the country where a severely underfunded their pension system.

He had other kinds of sort of budgetary challenges that he sort of papered over and it all -- the bill eventually came due. His absences, he was -- you know, he spent something like 190 days on the road when he thought he could become president back in 2015. That never sat well with the residents of his state.

He's got a bipartisan sort of gridlock problem that is familiar to anybody who've been following what's going on in Washington. He always had, you know, sort of a very narrow path to success. He thought he could walk that path to success by running for president, and when that sort of blew up in his face, when he -- I think he pulled seventh or something like that in New Hampshire, really poor showing, it was really all over and this is just sort of the final chapter.

CAMEROTA: And, Karoun, it's interesting to look at Chris Christie because obviously he's this sort of big personality guy. This fall from grace is always interesting to chart but the pension crisis is taking root around the country, that is not unique to him. How do you explain what we've seen from Chris Christie?

DEMIRJIAN: I mean, it's -- he's -- it's like Errol was saying, it's remarkable to just kind of watch the whole trajectory of what's happened. But he's somebody who started off with a lot of goodwill from both parties. He's somebody who made alliances that some people have found unpopular. Then there's the transportation scandal and now there's this.

You have to wonder if the speech episode is just him kind of washing his hands of the whole thing. I mean, you have to wonder what he's thinking himself looking at these numbers and how much he cares about trying to resuscitate his own image because if he was trying to be a guy on the make again, having aims at national office, you'd probably be pretty careful about the optics of anything that you do and it was interesting actually the photographer that took those pictures was pretty sure.

He wrote an account in "The Star Ledger" what had happened and he was pretty sure that Christie actually saw him, that they made eye contact when he was hanging out of that plane and they came over. And that he still went out later and said no, that never happened. So it's just -- it's an interesting mindset for him and you wonder at what point he maybe have decided like I'm heading towards the end of my career here politically at least and it's not about trying to do traditional politician things anymore.

BERMAN: I think that was a few weeks or months ago based on those pictures because clearly not someone concerned about optics.

Ron Brownstein, shifting gears here politically speaking to these voter -- you know, the voter fraud commission, the voter disenfranchising commission, whatever you want to call it, more than 40 states now say they are not going to comply -- more than 40 states say they're not going to comply with all or parts of this commission led by Kris Kobach. Has this just completely backfired on the administration or does this

provide some sort of political in for the administration here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think this maneuver has backfired but this is the first inning of a very long struggle. By the way, on Chris Christie, I don't think the issue is so much what he's done to himself. It's what he's done to his lieutenant governor who is the Republican nominee in New Jersey, who was already laboring under terrible approval ratings for Donald Trump in the state and is now caught in this giant undertow that Chris Christie has created.

And really, you know, for all the focus we've got on these special elections early this year, those New Jersey and Virginia governors' races this is fall that we're going to be watching most closely politically the rest of the year. And in both of them Republicans are looking very uphill now in part because of Trump's weakness on the states.

But on this, I think, look, this is a big struggle. I mean, this could have come out and you could have seen blue states being the only ones to say no. That would have been a very different dynamic. The fact that you essentially have, you know, across the full range of states across entire country saying no to this is a sign of how clearly they overreached.

But the concern of voting rights advocates, given the role of Kris Kobach on this commission and the others that President Trump has appointed is that this will become the basis for arguing that there should be further limits on access to the ballot box, when in fact you're seeing other states like Oregon move toward universal registration, and I do think access to voting is going to be yet another issue, put it on the list, that divide kind of red states from blue states, so no, I don't think this is the end.

I mean, this was a serious rebuff for the administration because it ended up being a broad range of states but they're going to be more rounds in this fight.

CAMEROTA: This is confusing, Errol, because the request coming from the commission to the states they say is just public information. We just needed help compiling public information and then the states individually are saying no, it's actually sensitive information that we should not be uploading to your online insecure -- unsecured Web site.

LOUIS: Yes . That's right. I mean, look, public information in New York like in other states if you go down to the Board of Elections you can find a particular voter registration card for Donald Trump, for Ivanka Trump, for any of these people, find out how many times they voted, and so forth, what party affiliation, but you have to go down there and do that.

[06:25:12] It's not something you can just order up by the millions. This is actually not just a privacy issue, but it's also sort of a ballot security issue. You know, I mean, 3100 counties, they've each got their own way of doing things and you've got to go down to 3100 county boards if you really want that data, you know, on some level, and that's important.

There are also sort of some clues here that their intentions were really not entirely pure, things like asking for party registration, that has nothing to do with voter fraud. Right? So why does somebody need to have a centralized file to be able to tell who registered in what party?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. Why do this?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, it seems to me clear that this voter suppression was always the goal here. I mean, you know, building on what Ron said. The idea here is to sort of take the false charge that was thrown out by the president, 3 million to 5 million, you know, illegal people somehow voted, you can't find them, there's no evidence, it ever happened. But then to take that falsehood and say and based on this we will curtail early voting, we will block automatic registration.

We will allow you as is true in some states to use a gun permit as your I.D. but we won't let you use state issued state university I.D. We want gun owners and not students to vote. It's clear where Kris Kobach has gone. He has done this -- he's sort of made a specialty of this.

It was the great fear that this was all about voter suppression from day one and I think that's really what we're going to sort of remember about this when it's all over.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of that information.

We should let you know that we will be speaking with two secretaries of state about this request from the National Voter Commission. We're going to have New Mexico's Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Colorado's Wayne Williams with us. They have different opinions about this. We'll see how that goes.

BERMAN: All right. We have a new provocation from North Korea this morning has the Trump administration pressuring China to take action.

Will Beijing crack down on North Korea or will the U.S. relationship with China now suffer?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)