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North Korea and South Korea Agree to Hold Military Talks; Immigration Standoff Threatens Deal on Budget; Immigration Standoff Threatens Deal On Budget; Gayle King: Oprah "Intrigued" By Idea Of 2020 Run; Ivanka Trump Praises Oprah's Golden Globes Speech; GOP Representative Ed Royce Won't Seek Re-Election. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow. Top of the hour. And we do begin with breaking news.

What looks like a breakthrough in these face-to-face talks between North and South Korea, the two sides have now agreed to hold military talks.

BERMAN: Military talks. What does that mean? North Korea also says it will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyongchang in South Korea. Those games start one month from today.

Our Will Ripley on the ground, near the Demilitarized Zone where these talks happened.

Will, what can you tell us? What came from these talks?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, probably the biggest announcement that just came out within the last hour, John and Poppy, was that North and South Korea will be engaging in talks in the very near future on de-escalating military tensions on the peninsula, which certainly sounds like welcome news until you hear what North Korea's lead negotiator also said which is that North Korea's nuclear weapons are pointed directly at the United States, and not South Korea or Russia or China.

Obviously those are ominous words. North Korean state media putting out a statement today saying that the United States must learn how to peacefully co-exist with a nuclear armed North Korea or face ruin, and in fact the North Korean official who spoke just a few minutes from where I'm standing right now, that bridge behind me leads into North Korea, those talks happening at the Panmunjom Truce Village a short distance away from here.

He said that North Korea denuclearization is simply not going to be on the agenda when those talks happen. And so the biggest issue, North Korea's nuclear program, the North still very far apart from much of the rest of the world which is calling on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for concessions like lifting of sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

So the question is really how far can this actually go if North Korea still insists that they are going to have and keep their nuclear arsenal.

On the topic of the Olympics, North Korea agreed to send a high-level delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Games. This will include athletes, taekwando martial arts experts, a performing arts troupe, a cheering squad, a press corps and high-ranking government officials as well.

This really can be considered a win for both sides here. South Korea's president Moon Jae-in wanted to engage with the North Korea, he campaigned and promised that. He has now delivered on that promise. Hopefully South Korean officials say that the Peace Olympics, as they're trying to brand this, will go on smoothly, that they believe with North Korea participating there's less of a chance of a missile launch or a nuclear test that could disrupt the most important sporting event for this country since the Summer Games in Seoul back in 1988.

And Kim Jong-un gets to send his delegation, all expended paid, to South Korea. There might be some sanctions lifted temporarily to allow that visit to happen. We don't know yet how the United States is going to react to that.

And Kim can point to the fact that President Trump and President Moon agreed to at least temporarily postpone joint military exercises that were due to kick off during the Olympics themselves. Those exercises now pushed back to a later date.

So the Olympics -- that's the short-term goal, and in the long term we really need to watch very closely how this unfolds. And again the biggest issue of all, the nuclear issue, North Korea saying once again just within the last hour, they are not giving up their nuclear weapons.

BERMAN: All right. Will Ripley for us in near the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea.

Will, thank you very much.

We just got a statement from the IOC.


BERMAN: The International Olympic committee. Obviously welcoming this development. They say these proposals mark a great step forward in the Olympic spirit, and as far as the Olympic Committee is concerned they're going to talk forward about how to include the North Korea athletes -- there's some issue about how many qualified and for what sports -- they'll figure that out. That's not the main thing here.

HARLOW: It's not. But it is -- you know, look, sports at least bringing people to the table. BERMAN: Right.

HARLOW: How much is it beyond that? With us now our military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Gordon Chang is also here, the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Gentlemen, this is beyond just sports. This is beyond the games. This is a joint statement from North and South Korea this morning an agreement to have military talks.

General, to you, how significant and what does it mean and is it different than before?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, Poppy, I'm optimistic by nature but also my military experience has taught me to be pragmatic because of experiences. You know, we've seen a repeated trend with North Korea. It is provoke, then engage, then attempt to gain consensus then revert back to old means and then provoke again. We have seen that repeatedly, and unfortunately I think we're going to see that again this time.

They want to be in the Olympics. I was in Korea in 1988 when the last Olympics were there, and the kinds of things that North Korea did then to become involved in that Olympics were amazing. Very, very contentious. Very nasty in terms of dealing, trying to get their teams, have events held in North Korea after they had already been developed.

So this is another attempt to not allow South Korea to shine on the Olympic stage. It may be a good thing. There could be some things that occur because of this, but, you know, using an old Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu, you've got to know your enemy and know yourself and know the terrain, and at the strategic level in this case all three of those things have a whole lot of implications.

BERMAN: You know, our Will Ripley mentioned a statement from the North Korean negotiator.


BERMAN: On these developments. And he said speaking of the nuclear issue, all state-of-the-art strategic weapons including atomic and hydrogen bombs, ICBMs, rockets are entirely targeting the U.S. It is not targeting our own people. He means South Korea. It is not targeting China and Russia as well.

Gordon, another point that Will made is that these the military talks, while they will happen, and that is a development, will not include, according to the North Koreans, the nuclear issue. Can you have military talks on de-escalation without talking about nuclear weapons?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, there's one very important thing the South Koreans can do and that is to introduce an element of deterrence with regard to the North Koreans. We don't have that right now. I mean, the Americans don't talk to the North Korean military, but the South Koreas who are allied with us do. So I think it's very important they have those talks and that the South Koreans just tell the North Koreans how serious all of this is. Because that deterrent element is absolutely critical.

HARLOW: So, General, back to you. North Korea's chief negotiator, and part of the statement that John read, also expressed strong displeasure over -- even the mention of denuclearization. Right? I just wonder what North Korea is giving up here? If everyone has to give something when they come to the table, what is the North giving at this point?

HERTLING: Yes, not much. They are getting a whole lot. They are getting funded to go to the Olympics, they're probably getting the Kaesong Industrial Zone re-opened. They will be seen as being playing both North Korea a new leader -- I'm sorry, playing the new leader in South Korea, but also playing President Trump in this. They're getting victories across the board.

Right now I don't see anything they're giving up but we're also hopeful that they at least come to the table and avoid war. They're being allowed to really attain the best of all worlds in this particular engagement.

BERMAN: And, Gordon, I want to ask you the same question because I think it is an important one here, is North Korea doing all the getting and none of the giving.

CHANG: Well, so far. You know, Will Ripley just reported that the South Koreans are paying for the North Korean delegation. That's going to be quite large. You've got to remember, of course money is fungible. That means every dollar that Seoul pays to Kim Jong-un is one more dollar that he can use to launch missiles, detonate nukes, engage in all sorts of dangerous activity. That just shouldn't be permitted.

And this Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Obama administration was very clear with Moon that they could not re-open that, and that's largely because of U.N. sanctions. The Trump administration has also been leaning on Moon to box him in. So while, you know, the North Koreans look like they are running free, I think that to a large extent, you know, both the Obama and Trump administrations have sort of put Moon in a position where you can't do exactly what he wants to. Because if he could do what he wanted to, he'd give them -- North Koreans -- everything.


General, finally, just some other really fascinating words in this very brief joint statement from North and South Korea. The third point they talk about issues involving inter-Korean relations, dialogues, negotiations, talks to improve inter-Korean relations. I mean, that is very peaceful language to be using at such a point in time. What does it tell you?

HERTLING: It tells me a lot and Gordon can say this more than I can because he's a historian on this, but it is the same thing they had said repeatedly over the last seven decades. It is that requirement -- you know, the people of Korea want to come together. They really do. There are families on both sides, they want to be hopeful.

They will try and find the best way they possibly can to spin this in both the North and the South because they do want their people to come together. But unfortunately, every time this has occurred in the past history, it is reverted back to provoking again from the North.

BERMAN: We will see, we will wait and see if there's a response from the Trump administration.


BERMAN: And that could be coming soon as well.

General Hertling, Gordon Chang, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

A very big morning in Washington on a different front. The president holds a big meeting very shortly with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to see if they can work out some kind of an agreement to protect hundreds of thousands of the so-called Dreamers.

HARLOW: Right. A deal to protect the youngest undocumented immigrants likely tied to -- yes, the president definitely tied the funding for a border wall. Who is going to blink first? And right now a source describes all of those talks as well, a mess, to put it bluntly.

Joe Johns is at the White House with more. Good morning.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It does appear to be a mess and the sticking point is pretty clear. It is the president's number one priority during the campaign. That would be the border wall, the southern border wall on the southern border of the United States.

[09:10:08] Long list of lawmakers from both parties expected here at the White House later today to sit down with, among others, the chief of staff John Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary, and a long list, as I said, of Republicans, Democrats, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Dick Durbin, heavy hitters, absolutely, and the question seems to be what do you do about this wall? The administration has asked for billions of dollars to either repair or put in a new structure along the border.

Democrats are dead set against it and the president says he doesn't want to give up on DACA unless he gets his border wall, including also some other immigration priorities, like ending chain migration, getting rid of the lottery system. But the wall seems to be the major problem, and the question is, how can they get to yes and thereby avoid a government shutdown when both sides appear to be at this stage, at least, entrenched.

John and Poppy, back to you. BERMAN: Joe Johns, for us, as the fog may be lifting finally in

Washington literally --

HARLOW: It's ominous behind him, isn't it?

BERMAN: It's one of the cases where the fog is lifting literally but not metaphorically.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: In Washington, you might say.

HARLOW: I think you're right.

BERMAN: Joe, thank you very much.

All right. Well, this is intriguing, at least Oprah is intrigued. And that may be the big thing here. The billionaire's best friend not tamping down the Oprah 2020 talk.


GAYLE KING, OPRAH WINFREY'S BEST FRIEND: I also know that after years of watching the "Oprah" show you always have the right to change your mind.


HARLOW: Oh, really? And bracing for it, the president's lawyers anticipating a request for the president to be interviewed by Bob Mueller, the special counsel. They're talking to him about ways to limit the scope. And Democrats digging in over Dreamers. We're talking to one who is set to be in that meeting with the president today. Will he budge?



BERMAN: All right. Any moment the president sits down with bipartisan lawmakers trying to work out a deal to help the some 800,000 DREAMers who live in this country and maybe forced out if no deal is reached.

Plus, what is going on with Oprah Winfrey. Much to discuss with our panel. We are joined by CNN contributor, Salena Zito, CNN political analyst, Amie Parnes, who wrote the book "Shattered," a book about Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and senior political writer at "FiveThirtyEight," Perry Bacon.

Amie, I want to start with you on this DREAMers meeting taking place at the White House. Sources tell CNN that the deal making process right now is a mess. You think that correctly describes what is going on?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I've talked to people on both sides. Democrats are playing their cards right. They know Republicans really want a spending bill really bad, a long-term spending bill and they are trying to play that out.

And they are saying we are not going to give this to you. We are not going to negotiate at all unless you give us what we want on the DREAMers. So, it's very far from happening, and I think they are really holding firm on this because they know they can.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the president said, Salena, again over the weekend, Mexico will pay for the wall. Mexico is not paying for the wall. That aside, who blinks first here?

SALENA ZITO, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I have no idea, but I do know that it's going to be dramatic and interesting and chaotic, sort of like Congress always is. You know, I also think it's fascinating to take a look at who he has invited to the White House today at 11:30.

I mean, it's a broad mix of all kinds of Republicans and Democrats and Democrats that he has invited are U.S. senators that are in vulnerable states of Dakota and Montana. So, you know, there's a lot of theater attached to this, but I think there's a lot of serious discussion.

I think both sides can probably get a portion of what they want, but between now and the deadline, which is January 19th, I do think that we are going to see nothing but chaos and that's pretty much normal for Congress and this White House.

BERMAN: I hope it's a serious discussion, right?

HARLOW: Yes. Those people are caught in the middle.

BERMAN: Eight hundred thousand people caught in the middle right now. The government on the verge of a shutdown.

HARLOW: Almost every American wants a solution for DREAMers. It's 83 percent.

BERMAN: That's exactly right.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Perry, look, you look at congressional races around the country. You watch these things very closely, Perry. I mean, how far do you think Democrats are willing to push this?

PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, "FIVETHIRTYEIGHT": The big question is, there's a divide in the Democrats of whether to have a shutdown over this. You hear people like Pamela Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, senators from more liberal states that are pretty comfortable saying we can have a shutdown over the DREAMers issue.

And then you have people like Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, people who are running for re-election in red states in 2018, and they are very nervous about a shutdown. So, that's one of the big factors here as Democrats may agree on what they want as a solution, they are not sure about how to get there.

HARLOW: Oprah, time to talk about Oprah.

BERMAN: It is time to talk about Oprah.

HARLOW: This is not just rumors anymore. Her bff, her best friend speaking out this morning, Gayle King, on her morning show, "CBS This Morning," she said she spent a long time, guys, talking to Oprah last night after all of the hubbub yesterday and here's how she put it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she considering it?

GAYLE KING, OPRAH'S BEST FRIEND: No, I absolutely don't think her position has changed. I don't. I was up talking to her very late last night, and I do think that she is intrigued by the idea. I do think that. I also know after years of watching the Oprah show, you always have the right to change your mind, and I don't think at this point she's actually considering it.

[09:20:03] But listen, there are people who want to be her campaign manager, who want to quit their jobs and campaign for her. She loves this country and would like to be of service in some way, but I don't think she's actively --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record, that's a significant change.

KING: I don't think she's actively considering it at this time.


HARLOW: Amie, that is far from a no, that's not a no, and it's a diplomatic answer with some very intriguing points from maybe a future White House press secretary, I don't know. What do you think?

PARNES: I think she's keeping the door open. Everybody that I spoke to yesterday that is familiar with the way she approaches things, and it was much orchestrated. There was a non-denial, denial, in fact, from Stedman, her long-time partner.

I think she's thinking about this and it's very real. What is really fascinating is that Democratic donors are salivating over it, particularly the Obama side, and they think she can really energize the party, and the party really needs leadership right now. So, I think that's why you're seeing this thirst for someone.

BERMAN: I'm so glad you said opening the door because by any conventional measure, and I know we are not allowed to use conventional measurements anymore, we don't do that in politics, but by any conventional measure exactly what Gayle King did was leave the door open to a possible Oprah Winfrey run.

You know, let the speculation continue to be stoked right there. Something else that happened overnight and I don't know what the heck it did or where it fits in the entire Oprah discussion, which is there was a tweet about Oprah from Ivanka Trump.

Let me read this to you, "Just saw Oprah's empowering and inspiring speech at last night's Golden Globes, let's all come together women and men and say time is up, united." So, Salena, is there a play or is there no play? Can there be no play when you are talking about somebody possibly running against your father?

ZITO: Well, I mean, I think to Ivanka's point -- there's plenty of women out there that voted for Trump, independent, Republicans, Democrat, whatever, who watched Oprah's speech and felt sort of the moment and the momentum and the importance of what she said and could support that and be supportive of her ideas and ideals and aspirations that she presented, and still vote for Trump, and still be impressed with it and still feel empowered by it, and still find a way to share to their daughters and nieces and nephews and kids.

So, I don't think there necessarily has to be a conflict. Ivanka always has been to a certain aspect her own person and she has gone outside the lines of norms when she has liked things that other people would see contradictory. You know, this is a different kind of presidency and a different kind of family and we are in a really different kind of era.

HARLOW: I think it's really interesting that Ivanka tweeted that last night after a day of speculation on news talk, yesterday morning before this was a buzz and before Brian Stelter broke the news that she was actively considering it. Perry, how do you see it?

BACON: We should note, has Oprah been to Iowa or New Hampshire in January? Has she gone around held babies a long time? Does she actually (inaudible). Campaigning for president is often very boring and not interesting. So, that's one thing to think about.

On the other hand, Oprah is very rich and very popular. She's one of the most admired people in America, according Gallup every time they do a survey on this. So, Oprah would be a great candidate if she wanted to run. I'm not sure she wants to run because I think running for president is less fun than we think it is.

BERMAN: Ed Royce is the chairman of Foreign Relations announced he is retiring yesterday from California. Republicans said this came as a surprise and this one hurts. This is a seat that they thought he could hold. That now they don't think they could hold.

PARNES: It went from leaning Republican to leaning Democrat. I think they are going to capitalize on this. The road to the House is through California. If they can win back some of the seats in California, win back Darryl Issa's seat, they will win the House back.

So, Democrats are feeling very confident right now, and Republicans are a little bit nervous and I think that's why you are seeing all the tension play out on the floor right now.

HARLOW: We would love to have him on the show to ask him the same question we asked Charlie Dent last week, which is, is the president and his actions over the last year any part of the reason you are not running again and see what he says. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it. Salena, Amie, Perry, thank you.

So, limit the scope, the president's lawyers are working on a plan that if the president is interviewed by the Special Counsel Bob Mueller, they sure hope that the scope is quite narrow.

BERMAN: All right. We are just moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, and futures higher again with the S&P and Nasdaq coming off of record highs. Investors not showing any signs of concern as far as we can see heading into the earning season.



BERMAN: So, CNN has learned the president's legal team is anticipating a request from the special counsel to talk to President Trump about the Russia investigation.

HARLOW: So, what our sources say is that the president's team is now looking at ways to limit the scope of the questioning that the president could face. Will it be on camera? Would it be written responses?

Shimon Prokupecz is in Washington with more. This tells us a lot, but also leaves a lot of open questions.