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North Korea Announces Successful ICBM Launch; Governor Chris Christie Faces Backlash Over Beach Photos. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 4, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- reaching the U.S. mainland.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump responded with a statement on twitter. He seemed to be mocking the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. He said, "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" He said that before suggesting that China put more pressure on Kim Jong-un.

And this comes as President Trump prepares for a critical overseas trip that includes a face-to-face meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. This is at the G-20 Summit in Germany.

We have this all covered. Let's go first to CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, North Korea says it's an ICBM test which would be a major advancement.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. They say it was a success. They say it's an ICBM. They also claim in the statement television broadcast that it could actually now show that they can hit any country anywhere in the world. Now clearly experts don't believe that to be the case but what they're looking at is exactly how far they can reach with this missile.

Now we just heard from the Joint Chiefs of Staff here in South Korea. They said that they are still analyzing data. They said at this point they don't accept that it is an ICBM but they don't deny it either. So clearly a lot of work is going in right now, analyzing satellite data, the radar, trying to figure out exactly what the missile was.

North Korea, though, is convinced. It was an ICBM. They say that Kim Jong-un ordered it himself. He signed the order. He was there at the test site and thought it was a great success.

Now just to give you the figures, the altitude was about 1700 miles high further and distance more than 570 miles and it flew for 39 minutes according to North Korea.

The U.S. Pacific Command have some different figures a little earlier in the day. Their initial assessment was it wasn't an ICBM. We haven't had an update from them at this point but we're certainly waiting to see what they say. Everyone in the region is very concerned and of course in the states as well. Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Paula, thank you very much for all of that breaking news.

Almost immediately after the test President Trump criticized Kim Jong- un on Twitter and called on China to ramp up pressure against North Korea. This as President Trump prepares for a high stakes trip to the G-20 Summit in Germany where he will have a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live from the White House with more.

What do we expect, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, again North Korean aggression is testing this president and his administration putting a lot of pressure on him, all eyes are on him whether or not it escalates the tension between the countries and of course at the same time we're hearing from the president trying to really put more pressure on China to confront this growing threat.


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.


MALVEAUX: And President Trump's meeting with President Xi is just one of many high stakes meetings with world leaders at the G-20 Summit. We'll see the first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

[07:05:02] That is to be highly anticipated. Also a meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They had a phone conversation yesterday. Merkel famously not getting that handshake here at her White House visit. She has already said publicly that she thinks that the talks with Trump would be very difficult especially when it comes to climate change -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Yes. It's going to be a very interesting meeting, Suzanne. Thank you very much for teeing it up for us.

Joining us now to discuss all of this, we have CNN political commentator Errol Louis, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, who is debuting a new column today on called "Fault Lines." Everyone should read that. Also with us CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton.

Colonel, let me start with you. We just heard President Trump there at a rally say, I wish that China were doing more to help us with North Korea but that doesn't seem to be working out. Is China out of the equation?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, I don't think so, Alisyn. They're going to be there for however long it takes. And really they're there forever because they're North Korea's neighbor and prime benefactor. So everything commercial North Korea does, everything military North Korea does somehow there's a Chinese connection to it.

In the past the Chinese were avid supporters of North Korea. Now that relationship has cooled, but they have it in their interest to keep North Korea as stable as possible because they don't want any type of implosion in North Korea, and they certainly don't want a German style reunification of the Korean peninsula.

So it's in China's interest to keep North Korea kind of where that is. And if that means a few weapons tests here and there, they will basically allow those to happen.

BERMAN: So, Colonel, take us behind the scenes right now what military analysts are doing. They're trying to determine whether this was an intermediate range missile or an intercontinental ballistic missile. How do they determine that and why is that distinction important?

LEIGHTON: Well, distinction is important, John, because if it's an intercontinental ballistic missile, what that means is that it can then affect territories way beyond East Asia to include Alaska, potentially the west coast of the United States, and put a lot of things at risk that otherwise would not be in danger.

An intermediate range ballistic missile is still very dangerous, but it is less dangerous to the U.S. homeland because it just can't reach it. It's a matter of range. So when they do this analysis, what they're going to do is they're going to look at how far this missile flew, what kinds of test parameters there were, or if this test was instead of a test, really a demonstration, which means it's less rigorous in terms of the science that went behind it.

So what you're looking at here is a way in which they can actually figure out what the danger is, and they're going to take, you know, as much of a sample of the atmosphere around the test to determine if it was, you know, potentially equipped with something that we don't like, like a nuclear warhead and certainly wasn't in this case, but those are the kinds of things that they look for, and they look for the possibility that it could be modified into something much greater than it currently is, and that's really what they want to examine and what they need to examine to protect U.S. and allied assets in the region and on the West Coast of the U.S.

CAMEROTA: So, Errol, the U.S. response. President Trump is not the type to just stand by idly and let this happen. He tweeted back in January before he officially took office, "North Korea just stated it's in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen." Exclamation point. What are President Trump's options?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's interesting. Every nuclear expert I talked to, and this goes back years now, has said that it's not a question of if but when. It will, in fact happen, that sooner or later North Korea will have nuclear capability, making diplomacy all the more important to try and figure out how to contain this, how to sort of manage this.

What the colonel said is exactly right. There is this assumption here that is reflected in Trump's statements that it's in China's interests to sort of make this problem go away. When actually the opposite is true. China does not want to destabilize North Korea. They don't want a humanitarian crisis of hundreds of thousands of people flooding across the border of a failed state. At the same time they don't want a unified democratic Korea right on

their border. That presents certain challenges to the communist system that they built up there. So the status quo is what China wants. For Donald Trump to try to go around that status quo using military options is almost unthinkable. But, you know, we will see. They call it principled realism. We'll see how realistic this is.

BERMAN: Look, on the one hand, the "New York Times" is reporting the president is suggesting over the phone -- President Xi of China that the U.S. might be willing to go it alone. On the other hand, if you read his statements that he's put out on Twitter he's basically putting this ball in other countries' courts. "Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea."

[07:10:04] So that's a little bit of a mixed message there, Ron.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, look. There is a reason why Victor Cha, who is the head of the -- advised George W. Bush in Asian affairs in the White House, appeared on CNN many times, famously described North Korea as the land of lousy options, a phrase that people still talk about a decade later because in fact, there are very limited options.

On the one hand, people, you know, really across the spectrum say China is the nation with the most leverage on North Korea, yet there's significant debate and doubt about whether even China has the leverage to dissuade them from doing this, moving forward on this program, and whether in fact they want to.

I mean, the context of all of this is the president's decision right when he took office to walk away from the Transpacific Partnership, which was the Obama administration's kind of centerpiece of their pivot to Asia, trying to build stronger economic relationships with the nations of Asia, pointedly excluding China.

Now we have walked away from that. China has kind of stepped into the void and is promoting its own free trade vision across the region, so we have -- you have just very dramatic cross currents. On the other hand, this may be one area where the president can find some common ground at the G-20.

I mean, he's been heading toward a pretty turbulent meeting. Angela Merkel had been unusually pointed this week -- last week in her comments saying that isolationism and protectionism are no way to go forward but this is an issue, the North Korean threat, that I think can unite many of the countries in particular our traditional allies in Europe that have been skeptical of many of the initiatives of the Trump administration.

CAMEROTA: So, Colonel, how does this all play at the G-20 summit when President Trump comes face-to-face with all these world leaders?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think the big irony here Alison is that just before President Trump goes to the G-20 Summit, he's going to be in Poland and one of Poland's main concerns is the missile threat from Russia, so there's kind of an irony there and I think the poles are going to tell President Trump that they need as much of a defense against Russia as we want to build in East Asia against the North Koreans.

So we see some, you know, odd duality coming out here, you know, when President Trump makes his trip to Europe. I think what the G-20 Summit will do is it will basically showcase a bit of a unity between the U.S. and certainly its European allies, as well as Japan and Korea. The issue then will become with China and with Russia, because both countries are going to be -- both for historic reasons as well as current political reasons they're going to be very reluctant to do anything that would upset the balance of power, which currently exists on the Korean peninsula and in greater East Asia.

BERMAN: And Ron, this raises the stakes for what was already, you know, an exceptionally important G-20 Summit. There are a lot of different balls in the air right now whether or not it's the president's first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin, you know, the first meeting since the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, and now you have the North Korean missile threat.

How do you think the United States is prepared for this, the Trump White House going in?

BROWNSTEIN: As there always are, John, look, I mean, you know, the last -- the first foreign trip the president took was actually one of the more kind of stable periods of his presidency until he got to Europe and met with our traditional allies, where there was much more tension than there was earlier in the trip, for example, in Saudi Arabia, where there was the French president or the German chancellor.

And I do think that the contrast in vision is very clear. As I said, Angela Merkel has led into this meeting with a remarkable series of kind of explicit comments saying we are not on the same page about climate, we are not on the same page about isolationism and protectionism, which uses those phrases. There's no -- you know, there's no confusion about who she's talking about and there's going to be plenty of disagreement.

But I think the -- North Korea is an area where essentially almost every nation in the world does not want to see this progress past a certain point. Even China I think as the Colonel said, you know, really wants the status quo. They don't want it to advance. So there may be an opportunity to build more common ground there.

On the other hand, the lack of trust, the lack of kind of personal relations and the sense that this is an administration that is leading the U.S. in a very different direction to what Europe has seen before does limit -- and has walked away from some of the efforts to kind of knit together the nations of Asia, does limit the ability of the president to kind of wrangle together an international consensus.

BERMAN: High stakes to say the least.

Ron, Errol, Colonel, thank you so much for being with us.

There is global peace in at least one key geographic location. CAMEROTA: New Jersey.

BERMAN: I'm talking about the jersey beaches, of course. Beaches are once again open for everyone in New Jersey but Governor Chris Christie's private beach day is overshadowing the budget deal. What the governor is saying about it now, that's next.


[07:18:48] BERMAN: State beaches and parks are open again in New Jersey as the budget agreement ended a three-day government shutdown but the state budget deal is getting national attention because of pictures that showed Governor Chris Christie soaking up the sun at a beach that he had ordered to be closed.

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

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, oh boy, those pictures. The governor signed that $34.7 billion budget measure last night. Parks like this one will be open. The beaches will be open. Certainly good news to all those holiday goers who are looking forward to that, but many of the people here in the state, John, are not going to forget those images of Christie out there on that beach, a beach that was closed on Sunday because of the budget shutdown. The government shutdown.

Initially the governor said that he didn't get any sun. Later his spokesman came out and clarified joking and saying well, look, he didn't get any sun because he was wearing a baseball cap. That joke lost on many people here in this state who are simply fed up with this governor, to put it frankly. This governor basically last night came out and was defiant as ever.


[07:20:02] 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.


CARROLL: Well, I think a lot of people here in this state, John and Alisyn, would simply say pictures speak for themselves -- John, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, Jason Carroll --

CAMEROTA: His reaction -- (LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Thank you very, very much, Jason. I appreciate it. Jason didn't like the joke. I think --

CAMEROTA: The pause -- hmm.

BERMAN: Which actually -- we show some of that difficulty for Governor Christie right there.

Joining us once again, Errol Louis. I want to bring in the person you've heard the name Claude there. Claude asked one of the key questions to Governor Christie. Claude Brodesser-Akner, senior political reporter for "The Star Ledger" and

So, Claude, not only did you have that exchange with the governor yesterday but really the one that set it all off was this one. Let's listen.


CHRISTIE: No, I didn't, Claude, but go ahead. I didn't get any sun today. No. No. There's no one at Island Beach State Park. There are no lifeguards, there's no one to pick up the garbage, there's no one providing any services at Island Beach Stage Park. Next. Next. Excuse me, next. Next. I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


BERMAN: This is more, Claude, than just, you know, update on the vitamin D that the governor of New Jersey has been getting. It's really representative of something much greater that he's facing in that state.

CLAUDE BRODESSER-AKNER, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, THE STAR LEDGER AND NEWJERSEY.COM: Yes, you know, this was an interesting exchange. It's interesting that he referenced TMZ because it's -- there are three letters, I used to work there years and years ago. I helped launch the Web site back about a decade ago, but he's famously captured brandishing an ice cream cone on the boardwalk after he'd gotten into a sort of verbal altercation with the New Jersey resident I think over pensions or something.

You know, what is so stunning about the exchange I think for most folks in the state is that the governor came out there on the beach and his defense of all this has been, you know, this is our residence. We can go there. We're entitled to be here. I think the reaction is just because you can doesn't mean you should. You know, when so many people are forced off that beach, the optics were just -- they suggested a kind of cavalier attitude.

And my line of questioning was simply to ask, you know, are you able to swim on that beach? I really couldn't get the question off. I think they see kind of a defensive crouch in this whole thing. I think that's where the governor might be getting into trouble in terms of public opinion.

CAMEROTA: Errol, I mean, this is being called his "let them eat cake" Marie Antoinette moment where he gets to go to the beach while for hundreds of thousands of people on July 4th weekend it's shut down. His approval rating -- was it 15 percent?

LOUIS: Fifteen percent.

CAMEROTA: Last week. What is it today?


LOUIS: Yes. You can probably shave a couple of points off that. He was already the least popular governor in the state of New Jersey.

CAMEROTA: But why is that? What was his approval rating before all of this at 15 percent?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, you know, there were a number of problems that all stacked up. Right? You had the corruption scandal that sent two of his top aides --

CAMEROTA: Bridgegate.

LOUIS: Yes. Led to their convictions. He spent 191 days outside of the state when he was running for president and that ended up being a bust anyway. There's the personal style that you just saw where he's not just being sort of caustic and personal and bullying and inappropriate but he's telling a lie, you know, saying that he wasn't on the beach when there are photos of him on the beach.

So this is something that New Jersey voters have sort of put up with, and I think the accumulation of it over nearly a decade really just kind of came to a head with this. And he clearly has no future in electoral politics at least in New Jersey, and this is again part of sort of the caustic Chris Christie style where he pretty much will say, you know, he has no interest in polls, he has no interest in what the voters think of him. He'll go lay out on the beach, lie about it, attack people personally, and so forth. The Christie era is basically over.

BERMAN: Well, what about that, Claude? Because he seems to be going out just as he came in here. But what are the last few months of the Christie administration? What do they look like? What do you think he does now following his trip to the beach for the next, what is it, you know, five months?

BRODESSER-AKNER: Well, you know, we're sitting here having just completed a budget deal, so most of the governor's leverage comes from the ability to wangle concessions from the Democrats on what they want in the budget.

Now that the budget is passed, he's truly the lamest of ducks. There isn't much he can do. The legislature is going to go out of session now and they're all concerned with their own re-election which was really the pressure on them, as they struck this budget deal. [07:25:05] Once they disappear, really the only thing he can do is via

executive order because there won't be a legislature to be in session. It's a very constitutionally powerful governorship but absent the legislature it's very difficult to make legislative imprint on the state without them here to be a partner with him.

And so, you know, Chris Christie is more or less done as of midnight last night in terms of I think influencing -- exercising any influence on the legislature and the laws of the state of New Jersey.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to imagine, Errol, that he's done nationally because he is a compelling guy. He's funny. He's compelling. He speaks -- he doesn't just speak in the talking points. He goes off script. He does -- you heard him. I mean, I didn't know that that was an option when somebody asks you a question you don't like, next. Like pass.

LOUIS: Spark, right? Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But he is a compelling person to interview. What -- I mean, what is the future for Chris Christie?

LOUIS: It of course remains to be seen. I mean, and this was part of his political woes just in the last few months was that he apparently truly believed that he was on the short list to become running mate for vice president for Donald trump.

CAMEROTA: And maybe he was.

LOUIS: That didn't happen.

CAMEROTA: Maybe something went wrong.

BERMAN: But he thought he was on the short list for president.

CAMEROTA: For president, right.

LOUIS: Well -- exactly.


LOUIS: All of his larger ambitions, which were baked in right from the beginning. This is not something that occurred to him as he was having a successful governorship. This was really the whole point of the governorship was to form a launch pad for him to run for national office. That has been foreclosed.

If he's got something to say, I mean there was a moment there when -- and back in 2012 when he was considered a rock star of the Republican Party where he was thought to have something to say to a very conservative party about how to appeal to Democrats, how to appeal to people in blue states and so forth. That was a complete bust, though. I mean, he flamed out by the time New Hampshire was over.

He sort of put all his eggs in that basket and I think came up with something like 7 percent. So it remains to be seen. Perhaps the Republican Party and American politics will have to move toward Chris Christie but he's clearly going in his own direction.

BERMAN: Hey, Claude, what is the buzz, you know, among the political class of reporters inside New Jersey about the future for Chris Christie? And again, his approval rating is 15 percent. I mean, this is epically almost impossibly low.

BRODESSER-AKNER: Well, listen, I mean, just in the state he's already expressed a desire to drown himself in the Potomac rather than run for Senate so you can rule out any ideas about Chris Christie as a senator. Also the demographics of the state would make it very challenging for him to seek election with its current approval ratings.

Having said that, look, I think he's clearly an ally of the president and I think last night we saw him give as sort of kiss and make up speech last night, the kind of speech a lot of people are hoping that the president will himself give someday, which was, hey, you know, I think he used the word "appreciate" eight times in the span of 10 minutes.

He devoted almost a third of his announcement last night of the budget, basically $5 billion budget, about a third of it was just devoted to telling the New Jersey press corps how much he appreciates them, how much he respects them. You know, there was a kind of psychic --


BRODESSER-AKNER: You know, disconnect for a lot of us, because we're kind of abused children there, but, you know, he came out and said the kinds of things you most want to hear from an elected official about in an era of, you know, where the press is constantly being under attack for fake news and being accused of being the enemy of the American people which is, you know, a stunning pronouncement to hear from a sitting president about a free state.


BRODESSER-AKNER: So Christie came out and said those things last night. Those are the kinds of things I think might have been a teachable moment for the president. I don't know if he was trying to emulate that. I can't pretend to get inside his head. But he said the kinds of things I think a lot of people would like to hear from someone who might run for president again in 2020 or, you know, who knows what's going to happen whether or not there will be a second Trump term or whether or not -- you know, you can roll the bones on all that stuff, and said, you know, what if, what if, what if.

You know, we could easily see Christie maybe replacing Jeff Sessions at some point or, you know, Reince Priebus at some point. But, you know, that's all speculation. And that's not (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Well, Claude, thanks for sharing your personal interaction with Governor Chris Christie.

BERMAN: He likes saying his name. Let's face it. CAMEROTA: Yes. He does say Claude a lot. So there's that.

BRODESSER-AKNER: I hear it a fair amount even in my sleep.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Claude. Errol, great to have you here as well.

All right, so we do some have breaking news this morning because North Korea has launched a new missile test, it is getting the attention of the world. How will this affect the talks at this week's G-20? We'll ask a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee next.