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Tillerson On North Korea: "Global Action Is Required"; North Korea Crisis Likely To Dominate G20 Summit; Forty Plus States Push Back On Request For Voter Info. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired July 5, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: -- it happen for Chris.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That is a great story, a great "Good Stuff." Thank you very much.
Time now for CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow and John Berman. Take it away, guys.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, you guys. Have a great day. We have a lot to get to. Let's get started.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Happening now, President Trump in the air with the fate of a potential nuclear showdown in the balance.
The President departed moments ago for key meetings in Europe as his administration scrambles to respond to the first ever test by North Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile. This is a crucial advance in its arsenal, one the Secretary of State calls a new escalation of the threat to the United States and the world.
HARLOW: Shortly before taking off, the President called out China for its economic support of North Korea writing in a statement -- Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for working with China -- China working with us. We had to give it a try.
Meantime, we are just getting in new video of that missile test carried out by North Korea, where state media reports that Kim Jong-un described the event as a Fourth of July gift to America.
We are, of course, covering all angles of this, this morning. Let's begin at the White House with Suzanne Malveaux. Good morning, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, President Trump is on his way to Warsaw, Poland. It is going to be a very quick stop, about 15 hours or so, before he goes to Hamburg, Germany for that G-20 Summit meeting with world leaders.
This morning, before he left the White House, reporters shouted questions about North Korea, and he only responded, saying that we are going to do very well. All eyes, of course, on the Trump administration's response here and just how tough they are going to be.
The President tweeting this morning really a dig, if you will, at China's leadership, China's President, because China has a relationship with North Korea, perhaps the greatest economic leverage. Instead, saying, look, now China and North Korea, they have growing trade as opposed to less trade.
That the sanctions potentially are not working. That we've given it a try, suggesting that, perhaps, there is more that the Trump administration is going to do regarding China and China sanctions as well as North Korea.
At the same time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson putting out this very strongly worded statement -- I'll read it in part -- saying global action is required to stop a global threat. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the U.N. Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.
And what we are going to see later this afternoon is that urgent emergency meeting with the U.N. Security Council to see if other allies, other countries, will agree and go along with the U.S. for additional punishment -- John, Poppy.
BERMAN: The U.S. has its work cut out for it at that U.N. Security Council meeting. Suzanne Malveaux, at the White House, thanks so much.
As for North Korea, it is celebrating the missile launch this morning. That quote from Kim Jong-un, we told you about, he calls it a, quote, "basket of gifts for American bastards."
CNN's David McKenzie, live in Seoul with more on this North Korea reaction. David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John and Poppy. You had that pretty crude language coming from state media in North Korea.
Let's just look at that video, again, of this media-released video of this Kosong (ph) according to the North Korea state media launch. They're calling it a successful launch. That it's an intercontinental ballistic missile, which, they say, they can put large nuclear warheads on top of and that it could reach, in their words, the continental U.S.
And so, again, this progression of this missile program is rapidly increasing, at least in the few months, these multiple tests of missiles, anticipation perhaps that there is a nuclear test coming up in North Korea and putting into disarray all diplomatic means, it seems, of trying to solve the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
You know, coming into the office this evening, it was striking again to see Seoul just going about its business. But really, it is yet another indication that Kim Jong-un believes that he will stop at nothing to develop this power, this power to strike right at the United States, John and Poppy.
HARLOW: David McKenzie, for us in Seoul. Thank you for that reporting. In meantime, the United States and South Korea, overnight, conducting these joint military drills. These are just hours after Pentagon officials confirm that the missile was in fact a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile that could be capable, in the near future, potentially, of striking the United States.
Let's go to the Pentagon where Barbara Starr has more. What's the latest?
[09:04:55] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, John, what we knew is that U.S. commanders had recently updated military options for President Trump for a rapid response if there was one of two things happening. Either an intercontinental ballistic missile test, as we now have seen, or an underground nuclear test that would indicate their nuclear program had taken a significant step forward.
So to see this rapid response, this is what the Pentagon wanted, to be able to demonstrate very quickly that it had a capability. These U.S. missiles that were fired have a range of about 200 miles. The message they sent is that the U.S. can be in South Korea, fire across the DMZ, into the North, strike North Korean targets like infantry, radars, communications nodes, that sort of thing.
I don't think there's anyone anticipating or looking for any kind of direct confrontation in a military sense with North Korea. That's not what the aim of all of this is. It is to send that message.
But let's face it, this is Kim Jong-un. He may have his own ideas. So when we have the Pentagon show the world these demonstrations of military force, it's always a bit tricky because you never know how Kim may react.
BERMAN: And, Barbara, talk to me more now about what the United States does say they believe to be an intercontinental ballistic missile. As a military advance, why is this significant for North Korea?
STARR: Well, this is exactly what the U.S. for years, but especially the Trump administration, had said it would not allow North Korea to build. No big mystery that they were moving ahead with it anyhow.
An intercontinental ballistic missile means it has the range, the ability to fly a distance that could strike potentially the western United States. Could that be tomorrow? Probably not. They still, you know, have work to do for reliability and guidance on their missile program.
But, look, for the last many, many months, they have continued to test. They have continued to make advance after advance. The U.S. intelligence community watching all of this very closely. They have been warning for months that this is the direction North Korea is headed.
And one of the most interesting things perhaps besides the threat it poses, North Korea making advances in being able to hide its program, hide its launches until the very last minute. They moved to mobile launchers, which are hard for U.S. satellites to track.
And they've moved to solid fuel missiles. That means when the missile comes out on the launcher, it's all ready to go. You don't have a satellite flying overhead that can watch for days as liquid fuel is pumped into it. So it cuts down on the warning time that the U.S. would have that North Korea is planning a launch, all very worrying to U.S. commanders.
BERMAN: It changes the military equation and the diplomatic equation as well, as we'll talk about in a moment. Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
All of this makes for a full menu for the President when he arrives at the summit.
HARLOW: Indeed, yes.
BERMAN: But, wait, there's more. The President also preparing for his first ever meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Though we should note, in the past, Mr. Trump claimed the two had met before.
That aside, this morning the Kremlin said the Russian goal was to establish a working dialogue with the United States. So what does that mean? What does the U.S. think it means?
CNN's Michelle Kosinski live at the State Department for the expectations, Michelle, of this big meeting, Friday.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, remember, a working dialogue is what was supposed to have been established when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow, met with the Foreign Minister, and met with Vladimir Putin. That was just a few months ago. But as we all know, that meeting did not go well at all.
Remember, the press conference afterwards was this testy exchange with the U.S. and Russia disagreeing sharply on Syria, on hacking of the U.S. election, on just about everything. So now, they're going out to sit down again. And this is with President Trump, so there are lots of variables there.
How the personalities match or don't is going to be a big part of it. How they lay the foundation is what the world will be watching for. As well as that question, does Trump even broach the subject of Russian meddling in the election?
The White House is not expecting him to bring it up. But they said because it's still an open-ended meeting, there's no specific agenda yet set for those discussions, that it could come up during this meeting. Because it's a formal sit-down bilateral meeting now, instead of just a brief pull-aside while they're in Germany at the G- 20, there will be ample time not only for preparation on each side but to have a wide-ranging discussion.
So the question mark, of course, is what comes out of this? And if there is some agreement reached, what is each side willing to give up? Is the U.S. going to offer Russia, say, giving back those diplomatic compounds that were seized at the end of the Obama administration? And what will change in Russia's behavior if the U.S. does offer up something like that?
[09:10:15] HARLOW: Michelle Kosinski, at the State Department. We'll be watching that meeting, coming in just a few days. Thank you very much.
The range of North Korea's test missile could be, will be, a game changer. What options does the United States realistically have on the table right now to deal with North Korea?
Also voters' personal information? The new voter fraud commission from the Trump administration facing a lot of pushback, pushback from 44 states to be exact. So now what?
BERMAN: And a New York City police officer killed in an ambush. We have new details about the attack and the investigation.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Sue Mi Terry, former CIA North Korea analyst and former White House official, and Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist. It's very nice to have you all here.
Sue, let me begin with you because you met with those from the North Korean government and the regime in Sweden. The message you say from them was look at Libya. Look at what happened to Gadhafi when he let go of his nuclear arsenal and that is what they are looking at as a reason to hang on so tightly right now.
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER CIA NORTH KOREA ANALYST: That's absolutely right. They said over and over look what happened to Gadhafi and Iraq. This is the only way for us to survive, it's our final card. This is the only way to have a deterrent.
It's their card. They said they would never give up their nuclear weapons program, never give up their missile program and that discussion is off the table. No more negotiation when it comes to nukes is what they told me.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Admiral, people look at Kim Jong- un and North Korea and say this guy's a mad man, but that's a very rational position, albeit one extremely controversial and one that causes huge problems for the United States here. And now that they have successfully tested an ICBM, what does that change from the diplomatic standpoint now?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, the options were never good before this launch. They're certainly no better now. From a diplomatic perspective, I don't know that it changes all that much.
It certainly ratchets up the sense of urgency they now have extended reach or potential extended reach. But I think the options continue to be very limited and really you're going to take military options kind of off the table that a strike is not going to happen.
All that will do is cause a war and ratchet tensions up dramatically. So what they're going to try to do I think is a continuation of the past, which is to try to exert more international pressure, to try to change the calculus in Pyongyang. I do think we need to be prepared for the fact that's going to have a limited effect as well.
HARLOW: Yes, and clearly they're trying to do that namely on China. You have the president this morning just a little bit ago in a statement saying look, China is not doing enough to help. We tried that, it didn't work.
And then you have Secretary of State Tillerson, Josh, coming out and using very strong language directed at China, it's pretty clear saying any nation that is, quote, "aiding and abetting a dangerous regime."
The question, Josh, becomes, does it work? If it hasn't worked up until this point with China, will this extra language do anything or will they be symbolic moves if anything by China?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what they have now won't push the Chinese for more action. When you talk to Trump administration officials, they're very clear, they said we want to give China time to do the right thing with limited pressure and now that time seems to be up.
So what they're moving now towards is maximum pressure and that means secondary sanctions, diplomatic pressure on China, means risking escalation and risking tension in the broader U.S./China relationship. That's what it's going to take to really test to see if China will do anything.
We seemed to be moving to that now. That has risks. It's a dangerous road to go down. If you're not willing to do that, they only have one other option, to sit down and negotiate with the North Koreans.
That's also very like unpalatable option. But you've got to either go big or go home. What's clear is what we're doing now is not working and North Koreans continue to advance.
BERMAN: Right. Again, make no mistake here, the president has invested personal capital in this.
HARLOW: A lot.
BERMAN: He met with the president, Xi Jinping, about this, talked about North Korea, didn't work. Josh, you know the U.N. Security Council meeting today, this emergency meeting that's been called, very important to this administration but also perhaps low expectations, Josh? ROGIN: Yes. Well, that's right. This is their last chance to really name and shame China and Russia. After an ICBM test, if China and Russia aren't willing to commit to real sanctions now, they never will be. This is it.
So they might as well try as hard as they can to get toughest measures that they can. If it works, great. If it doesn't work, at least the United States will be able to then say, look, we tried, we did everything we could, it's clear now that China and Russia won't help us with this problem.
We'll have to go with our allies, hopefully Japan and South Korea on board, and do something different. OK, so this is it. This is the showdown. They're putting a lot of chips on this meeting.
What's probably going to happen is exactly what you said, John, the Chinese and the Russians will agree to something symbolic but not something really strong, then the U.S. will be in the position to at least say, OK, we exhausted that multilateral diplomatic option, now we have to move to more pressure if that's what they intend to do.
HARLOW: Admiral, to you, how strong is China's counterargument, though, right, pointing to the U.S. and saying, look, we told you for a very long time that you should slow down and hold back on those military drills with South Korea in exchange for at least a freeze on the North Korean nuclear program. You didn't and that is part of what has landed us here. How strong is that argument from China? Does it matter?
[09:20:05]KIRBY: It's an incredibly weak argument. Look, China doesn't have unique influence in Pyongyang. They've been unwilling to exercise that. They hadn't fully implemented the sanctions that had been put into place.
For them to argue that a freeze in exercises is what's sort of preconditioned to getting talks going is ludicrous. The whole reason there is exercises, the whole reason we have deterrent capabilities on the peninsula is because the North continues to advance their ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
And to draw those back or even take the fat out of the deployment, to pull back on that is simply to encourage the North to continue to advance, not that they need any more encouragement. They obviously haven't slowed down.
We certainly wouldn't want to reward that by limiting our own ability to defend ourselves and our allies. And don't forget, this is a treaty alliance we have with the Republic of Korea. This isn't some casual gentleman's agreement.
I mean, there's still technically a war on the peninsula that hasn't been fully resolved and we have bonafide treaty alliance commitments with the South Koreans that we have to meet.
BERMAN: So six months in, Sue Mi, what should the Trump administration learn from the failed attempts at the past? The Obama administration probably dealing with this, the Bush administration tried to deal with this, it didn't work. The Clinton administration tried to deal with it and it didn't work. What are the lessons of the past for the Trump administration to take going forward?
TERRY: Well, I think Mr. Trump has already learned that even though he set many options on the table, I think he knows by now there are very few good options left or no good option actually when the goal is denuclearizing North Korea.
Because Josh mentioned earlier about potentially turning to talks. The problem is North Koreans are not willing to talk to us, not about the nukes. So we don't really have a lot of option except to pursue what we've been pursuing.
And I think that's what he's doing is going after sanctions and now what he probably has learned, more pressure has to be applied so that means secondary sanctions against Chinese banks and entities that do illicit business with North Korea.
The Obama administration was a little bit shy about doing that, obviously, because he didn't want to strain further relationships with Beijing, but I think it's now time to go full force with secondary sanctions.
BERMAN: We're seeing signs perhaps on Twitter from the president that he's doing that. Move beyond 140 characters in the next two days, we'll have to wait and see. Admiral Kirby, Sue Mi Terry, Josh Rogin, thanks so much for being with us.
Some are calling it an invasion of privacy, others call it a witch- hunt. Why the Trump White House request for voter information may be getting harder.
BERMAN: New this morning, the Trump administration facing growing resistance over a request for voter information. Forty four states are now pushing back on these requests for information like partial Social Security numbers, voting history, birth dates.
BERMAN: A lot of pushback. This request stems from the Trump team's Election Integrity Commission. Let's bring in our White House reporter Jeremy Diamond for more. Look, the White House is having to go on the defense on this one and go against a number of Republicans secretaries of state.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. And for this administration and for this commission, some of the criticism has been frankly baffling for them.
What they've made clear is that all the information that they've requested even when they've said wealth like to get, you know, last four digits of Social Security numbers and other information that is often private in many states they've said only if it's available publicly in your state.
So they want states to remain in accordance with their laws and release only information that's public. And yet still we've seen really a slew of criticism from dozens of states. Here's a small sampling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN FROSH (D), MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think the purpose of this besides indulging the president's fantasy, is to stop people from voting.
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: There's not enough bourbon in Kentucky nor enough wine in California to make this request sensible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seems to maybe be a fishing expedition or a witch-hunt of some kind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: But that criticism is not only limited to Democrats. We've also seen a number of Republicans come out and criticize the commission or push back against some of these data requests.
Here's the response from the Louisiana secretary of state who says, "My response to the commission is you're not going to play politics with Louisiana's voter data and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law to any candidate running for office. That's it."
So really a lot of this criticism has to do in effect with this commission itself and why it was founded, some of the motivations behind this commission's founding. As you'll recall, of course, it came about after the president claimed that millions of voters voted illegally in the 2016 election.
A claim for which he has provided no evidence and for which there appears to be no evidence to back that claim up. So of course that is in part with what the commission is digging into, but a lot of states expressing concerns not only about the privacy of some of this information but really about the motives that are driving this commission's efforts.
BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House. We should note Mississippi, red state, an official said the White House could essentially jump in the Gulf of Mexico.
BERMAN: It added geographically true information, Mississippi is a good place from which to jump in the Gulf of Mexico.
All right, a lot to discuss right now. Joining us now Ron Brownstein, CNN political analyst, author of a brand-new out just this morning weekly column on cnn.com called "Fault Lines." Shannon Pettypiece is with us, White House reporter for "Bloomberg News," and Shelby Holiday, politics and business reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."
Ron Brownstein, you say this voting commission is built on a foundation of sand to begin with. What do you mean?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, it's built on this allegation with utterly no proof, in fact, proof in the opposite direction that millions of votes were cast illegally to, you know, swing the popular vote in the 2016 election.
There simply is no evidence of large-scale in-person voter fraud of anything like that magnitude.