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Trump on North Korea; U.S. Options for North Korea; Legal Battle Looms over Voter Fraud Panel; Protests in Germany; Trump Lands in Germany. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:31] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, President Trump says he's considering some, quote, "pretty severe things" after North Korea launched a missile that could potentially hit the United States. A new kind of missile the likes of which U.S. intelligence has never seen before. But what exactly is that regime capable of? Tom Foreman explains.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What this tells us, John, is that the North Koreans are going full steam ahead. They are on course to have a record number of missile tests this year, more than a dozen already, and each one is steadily expanding our sense of how far they can probably send some part of their arsenal. The latest one is a real milestone. Analysts saying now for the first time they believe that they would be capable of actually reaching onto U.S. territory somewhere up here in Alaska.

So let's take a look at this missile and talk about what we're dealing with here. This is a little life size model of it. Not terribly tall. A little more than 50 feet. So it's about as tall as a basketball court is wide. And even if you believe what the North Koreans said about it, it didn't fly that far horizontally, less than 600 miles.

So why is everyone so excited? Because of how high it went. The altitude of this thing took it way, way, way above the International Space Station. And, if we believe everything we've seen here, it came back under some sort of control to a splashdown. That speaks an awful lot about their advancements in propulsion and in guidance.

[09:35:01] So, where do we stand now? In terms of range, we have to give them a green light because they've shown now for the first time they can launch an intercontinental missile of some sort. They'll have to replicate it, but, yes, if they keep going this way, they could hit places in maybe Hawaii eventually, maybe even places in the lower 48 if they keep making progress.

What about accuracy? Now, this is a yellow light, a caution light here. They've not yet proven that they can make something fly this far and necessarily hit what it is aiming at. That is also a big hurdle to get over there. And, remember, they had some big failures in their missile tests earlier this year as well.

And the real stopper, of course, is the last one here. The purpose of an ICBM, quite frankly, is to carry a nuclear warhead. And there is no indication that they have yet been able to miniaturize a warhead and make it reliable enough to be carried by any of their missiles. But, still, consider all of this. Put it all together and you still have to say they are making progress on all these fronts in a very worrisome way for the rest of the world.


BERMAN: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

So what are the options now for the U.S. to respond to this? Joining me to discuss, Anthony Cordesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tony, thanks so much for being with us. Is the idea of a limited military strike by the U.S. against North Korea really even possible?

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, it's certainly possible. The problem is, what would North Korea do in response? And it is also, what would we gain from the strike? It's easy to talk about hitting at North Korea's nuclear capabilities, but striking at a reactor would create all of the problems of hitting a nuclear device and nuclear fallout. That might be acceptable. It's a relatively small target. But, still, you can consider the international impact.

There is what appears to be an underground centrifuge facility near that reactor. Whether we can target and hit that with conventional warheads is more questionable. And it's very likely that North Korea has disbursed and hidden virtually all of its nuclear material it can use in weapons, or weapons it's actually assembled. We may or may not be able to target those. We may or may not be able to hit them if they're underground.

Other targets are easier and perhaps less provocative. Their critical missile production and design facilities, something that would show that we might be able to target any future missiles they take to a launching site.

BERMAN: And then, of course.

CORDESMAN: This would be a lot less provocative.

BERMAN: You know, but then, of course, North Korea has a pretty powerful deterrent. Maybe they don't have ICBMs that can reach the United States reliably just yet, but they have plenty of artillery. They can reach South Korea. They have plenty of weapons that can hit the 20,000-plus troops stationed just over their border.

CORDESMAN: Well, they certainly have plenty of those weapons. They also have a very powerful existing missile force with conventional warheads. And they can strike at area targets anywhere in South Korea. They could potentially launch a demonstrative strike against Japan. They can certainly create the ability to harass any form of air traffic or shipping in the area. So these are all options. But we also need to remember that North Korea is an extraordinarily

fragile economy. There are precision-guided weapons with conventional warheads that could hit at its power grid, communications systems and many other critical targets. So this is a problem of who is willing to escalate the most and just how far this would go as a conflict began to develop.

BERMAN: Is missile defense, whether it be here in the United States with these systems that have been tested with, you know, very middling degrees of success, is that a realistic option right now?

CORDESMAN: Well, you've got a key point because you have missile defenses in development to deal with a longer range ballistic systems, but as yet you have no North Korean threat. And we're probably talking about a minimum of one to two years before they could develop an ICBM reliable and accurate enough to use, knowing that if they ever launched it, it isn't just a matter of missile defense, the United States would almost certainly reply with a massive nuclear strike against North Korea.

BERMAN: Right. Tony Cordesman, some very, very sobering realities here the White House dealing with it right now. The president certainly will discuss with China and South Korea and Japan in the coming days.

Tony, thanks so much for being with us.

CORDESMAN: My pleasure.

[09:40:01] BERMAN: Almost every state resisting request right now for voter data from President Trump's voter fraud panel. There is even a lawsuit now. But now one of the men running the commission is defending the panel and pushing back. Stay with us.


BERMAN: All right, live pictures now from Hamburg in Germany. Very shortly President Trump will arrive at this airport on Air Force One. Then he will get in that helicopter to go to the G-20 Summit, where he will be meeting, very shortly actually, in just a few hours, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. You can see the press there waiting, as well as the staffers to greet the president. Again, that happens in just a few minutes. The next stop on what has been a very eventful day so far for the president overseas.

Meanwhile, the White House dealing with some activity here. Today's the deadline for the Trump administration to respond to a federal privacy lawsuit that is threatening to shut down the president's voter fraud commission. This after a growing number of states have been resisting providing all of the voter information requested by the president's panel. Now the vice chairman of that panel, Chris Kobach, ripping those reports.

[09:45:07] CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond has all the details.

Jeremy, what are you learning? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hey, John.

Well, a privacy group has been seeking to block this commission's efforts to obtain some of this voter data from a number of states. The Trump administration sought to immediately dismiss that lawsuit and a federal judge, a district court judge, is not immediately agreeing with the administration, instead asking for a series of questions requesting more information about essentially the motives of this commission and the storage of that data. So certainly an interesting point there with the judge not immediately siding with the administration, raising questions about the future of this lawsuit.

Of course, that came after a flurry of criticism from a number of Republican and Democratic secretaries of states with regards to this commission's request for voter data. The commission's vice chairman, Chris Kobach, has pushed back on that in a statement noting that only 14 states have outright refused to hand over any information. And he also notes that more states are actually complying with the request.

This morning on CNN's "New Day," one of the members of that commission spoke out defending it. Here's what he had to say.


KEN BLACKWELL, MEMBER OF TRUMP'S VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION: Those who would want to kill the commission in the crib, you know, that's pure nonsense. There are organizations that understand that our voter rolls across the country are corrupt. They're - and that corruption is a vulnerability and an opening to folks who might want to change the result of an election.


DIAMOND: And that's the point that this commission and this administration is making is that a lot of this has to do with politics. What's interesting is that a lot of the states that have actually refused to submit part of this information that the administration is requesting, a lot of that information actually the administration says in its letter only submit that to us if it's publicly available. So certainly some of these states that are actually complying by saying they will give public information despite the pushback in their statements, well, they're actually complying with the commission's requests. John.

BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond for us in Washington. Jeremy, thank you so much.

We have some more news from Washington. This morning, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is back in intensive care. Doctors at the MedStar Washington Hospital readmitted him due to new concerns about infections. His condition is now listed as serious. You will remember Congressman Scalise was shot last month at a Republican baseball practice. A gunman opened fire on the team. He is recovering from a hip injury and major damage to internal organs and blood vessels. Again, back in the hospital in intensive care. You know, our thoughts with the congressman. The president now moments away from landing in Germany. He will arrive

at the G-20 Summit. You have live pictures now from the airport. He touches down in just a few minutes. He's made a lot of news this morning. His clearest statement yet condemning Russian activities while at the same time questioning, in clearer terms than he usually does, whether or not U.S. intelligence on Russian election meddling has been completely straightforward.

Stay with us.


[09:52:44] BERMAN: All right, live pictures right now. That appears to be Air Force One landing in Hamburg, in Germany. The president arriving for the G-20 Summit there. He has a series of big meetings which begin within hours. He will sit down with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, today. Tomorrow, his face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. The stakes there could not humanly be higher. Again, the president touching down here.

As for his reception in Germany, may not be as warm as he's seen in Poland so far on this trip. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, already setting the stage for what could be some confrontational moments.

As we're watching the plane land, let's go to our Frederik Pleitgen, who is in Hamburg right now at the sense of where there have been some protests.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there certainly have been. And, you know, one of the things that you were talking about, the reception by Angela Merkel, there is, of course, also the reception here by the city of Hamburg as well. And that certainly won't be as warm as maybe, John, we saw there in Poland.

We're actually right now at the place where protesters are gathering not only protests against the presence of President Trump here, but, of course, generally against this G-20 Summit. But certainly Donald Trump really is a lightning rod for many of these protesters and that's something where they believe that these protests are going to be even larger than they have at past G-20s.

There have already been a few scuffles over the past couple of nights and there was one really interesting protest that happened yesterday, which was a walk of zombies where several people or thousands of people who were all in gray clay walked across Hamburg here, symbolizing the gray masses that fell left out by summits like this one.

But the police are expecting that there could be - or there will be larger protests and possibly even violence, especially tonight. The (INAUDIBLE) very important today with that bilateral meeting going on between President Trump and Angela Merkel. Certainly these people that you see gathering here right now, they want to be out here on the streets and in force and make sure that the leaders, especially President Trump, hears their voice.


BERMAN: Fred, we're seeing Air Force One now landing in Hamburg. Very shortly we should hear whether or not the White House briefed reporters during this flight. Sometimes they do even on these short flights. That wasn't much more than an hour and 20 minutes from Warsaw. Although sometimes they also don't, particularly if they want a message to stick. It might be that the white House wants the president's words in Warsaw to be the line of the day and they don't want to really add to that in any way.

[09:55:06] Fred, I want to ask you, because you've been in Germany for a long time, grew up there, covered many different aspects of it. The president gave what his clearest message to date was in support of NATO. He said that the U.S. stands behind Article Five of NATO, that's the collective security provision that they will all stand together in case anyone NATO nation is attacked there. I imagine among the leadership of these NATO nations, including Angela Merkel, that will be a welcome statement.

PLEITGEN: Yes. Yes, you're absolutely right. And I think one of the people who are going to be looking at that very carefully is, of course, Angela Merkel because one of the things that she said when President Trump was last in Europe, during that summit in Brussels, during the NATO Summit, was that she believed that European nations could no longer rely on others for their safety and for their security. And that was purely aimed at the president back then not saying that he was behind Article Five or failing to say that at that point. So certainly she'll be seeing that with a lot of interest.

The Germans themselves have actually boosted their defense spending and say they want to continue to do so, but it is going to be one of the major things that the two leaders are going to be talking about when they meet. Of course, the other big ticket issues are going to be trade. The Germans really worried and concerned about some of the things that they've been hearing from Washington. The German foreign minister gave an interview in a newspaper where he even said he believed that the U.S. might be out for a trade war against Europe and that Europe would respond to that. Angela Merkel also came out in a newspaper interview and said that she believes that the president perhaps saw globalization as having winners and losers rather than be good for everybody. So certainly there are a lot of issues but, yes, NATO is going to be one of those key issues that they certainly are going to touch as well.

BERMAN: And indeed it's possible the leadership in NATO and these nations, including Germany, you know, have different views than the people on the streets protesting right now.

Our Frederik Pleitgen in Hamburg, thank you so much.

Again, we are seeing Air Force One arriving right now at the airport in Hamburg, Germany. The president flying from Warsaw, where he gave a major speech today where in the clearest terms yet he condemned what he called Russia's destabilizing activities. He also set up what he really considered to be a struggle between the west and things that threatens what he considers western security.

I'm joined by international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson also in Hamburg at the G-20. Again, the president landing right now.

What does the president have in store today, Nic, and how do you think the message that he delivered very deliberately in Poland prior to his arrival, how will it be received?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, his first meeting here will be with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, his host. That's expected to last about an hour. And he had quite a clear message on immigration when, you know, when he was in Warsaw. And that's not a message - his message there is not a message that will play particularly well with Angela Merkel. But let's not forget, President Trump has criticized her personally for what - what he's described as her catastrophic handling of the refugee crisis. Germany letting in more than a million refugees from Syria and other countries just in the past couple of years. He criticized that. He's criticized her personally on trade, you know, saying Germany is essentially fixing the value of the euro to its advantage, that there's a trade deficit with cars in the United States. Angela Merkel has retorted back at a later date saying, well, I hope President Trump is happy because there are lots of iPhones here in Berlin, you know, meaning that, you know, the United States is putting iPhones into Germany and Germany is putting BMWs/Mercedes into the United States.

But - so there's a clear disconnect between these two. And so this meeting, a face-to-face meeting, not their first. Of course, that famous moment where he - where President Trump in the White House giving a joint press conference with Angela Merkel talked about how he says we've both been - had our phones bugged. And that was such an awkward moment for Angela Merkel. And she was critical back here in Germany for not having a quick retort to that. She is known as somebody who can think on her feet.

But this meeting will be behind closed doors and perhaps will get to some of the concerns of Sigmar Gabriel, the foreign minister. We just had Fred there explaining how he believes that the United States might be about to start a trade war. But, you know, in relative terms, these are still relatively short meetings. I don't think anyone's going to change anyone's mind. But at least between the pair of them, the host and the biggest leader arriving here for the G-20, they can at least agree that perhaps some parameters of how the G-20 will go, some common language, where they want to get with it.

Let's not forget, Angela Merkel invited Ivanka Trump here, the president's daughter, to a forum, a very important forum on women and women's values and women's role in the workplace and women's role in the world. And that's something that Angela Merkel has wanted to keep within the context of the G-20, some language that she'd like to see very likely in the communique at the end. So there is commonality there as well. No doubt they'll find part of their conversation getting on to that topic as well.

John. [10:00:01] BERMAN: All right, Nic Robertson in Hamburg. Stick around, Nic. Again, Air Force One just arriving at the airport right now. The president will deplane shortly and head to his meeting - his first meeting at the G-20 with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.