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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
South Korea: Trump Agrees to Meet Kim Jong-un by May; Democrats on House Intel Committee Threaten to Subpoena Former Trump Campaign Manager; Adult Film Star Jessica Drake Named in Stormy Daniels' Non- Disclosure Agreement. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 8, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next. Breaking news -- President Trump promising a major announcement on North Korea moments from now. Live, we are learning about an invitation from Kim Jong-un personally to Trump.
Plus, Russian investigators on Capitol Hill calling for a subpoena for Corey Lewandowski, amid growing conditions tonight -- questions tonight for Trump ally, Erik Prince on a meeting in the Seychelles.
And a new twist in the Stormy Daniels Saga. We now have another woman who may have confidential information about Daniels and the President of the United States. Let's go "OutFront".
And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett, OutFront tonight. The breaking news -- you see the sort of an unprecedented moment. All of a sudden we find out we're standing by for what President Trump is calling a major announcement this evening about North Korea.
It is expected to take place any moment just outside the West Wing. And let me just make this clear, sometimes we get a warning of when these things happen. This is so last minute appearing sort of thrown together. It's going to happen when it happens. So you've got to stay with us, because it's going to start any second. It started this afternoon. The president made a surprise appearance in the briefing room at the White House late today to sort of showing up like that opening the door.
Our Jeff Zeleny telling us this is the first time -- he can recall that the president has actually come into the briefing room. And this came after South Korean delegations stopped by the White House this afternoon. Our Will Ripley, reporting at the South Koreans and hand delivered a letter from Kim Jong-un the leader of North Korea to the White House to give to President Trump. It was a personal invitation for President Trump to meet Kim Jong-un.
Now, this is according to a senior U.S. official and a former U.S. senior official. There's a lot to get to tonight. We're keeping this shut up because again, as I said, they're going to walk out when they walk out and you're going to hear what they have to say, what this announcement is that the President of the United States felt was so momentous, he needed to jump into the briefing room and tell the press to announce it all of a sudden, there would be this live announcement at 7:00 Eastern.
Let's begin our coverage with Jim Acosta at the White House, Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea.
Jim, let me start with you, though. I mean, this is a pretty stunning thing in terms of the theater and the set up or lack there of, and then you've got this Kim Jong-un inviting Trump to a meeting.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. You know, welcome to our world at the White House. Things are changing a mile a minute. And you are right. What we do expect to see in just a few moments here is the leader of the South Korean delegation, Chung Eui-yong, he will be coming to the microphones out here. We suspect without any other U.S. officials mainly because that guidance we've been given by the White House.
But keep in mind, Erin, the President liked to break the news earlier this afternoon. I would not be surprised if he pokes his head outside the doors of the West Wing here, so we'll wait to see if that happens in just a few moments. But in terms of the content of what we are going to hear, we do understand that the leader of the South Korean delegation met with the President earlier today.
And as you were saying, Will Ripley and others reporting that he hand delivered some kind of letter or message to the President inviting the President on behalf of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, to meet with the North Koreans about how to deal with this very tricky issue of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
And of course at this point the question is will the President go forward with this and agree to meet with Kim Jong-un. Now, we're hearing from sources here at the White House, that the President is perhaps not likely to do that, that he is already being counseled that that would be a bad idea.
But, Erin, as you know, past being prologue. We have seen the President defy the advice of his advisers before and go in a very different direction. And so, I think it's totally up in the air as to what the President ultimately decide on that front.
And we should also point out that this maybe more than just an invitation from Kim Jong-un. There are these talks that have been going on between the South Koreans and North Koreans and I'm told by a senior administration official that the content of what we're going to be hearing from the South Korean leader in just a few moments is, "Interesting" and so there is going to be more, I think, than just this information about Kim Jong-un inviting the President of the United States to meet with him.
But make no mistake, we've gone from the President referring to Kim Jong-un as little rocket man, and the President talking about fire and fury, to the potential for a very unlikely and incredible and, dare I say, reality TV style meeting between two very different and in some ways similar leaders.
BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible, I mean we're learning now from our Ryan Brown, Pentagon reporter, that some Pentagon officials were caught completely off-guard by this announcement. They didn't know there was announcement to make when the President came into the Briefing Room. Of course, Jim, as you've been talking about, the President didn't even tell his own staff that he was making this announcement.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BURNETT: How caught off-guard was everybody who works for the White House here?
ACOSTA: They were caught off here at the White House.
[19:05:02] I was talking to senior administration official earlier this evening who said they were making plans as this announcement was being made by the President, and the things, I was being told, could change at any moment. So yes, they were obviously caught off-guard and the press was caught off-guard as well. I mean just paint you a picture, the President walks into the briefing room, something, you are right, he has not done from what we understand at least publicly when there are reporters around since he's been in office.
And he was talking to reporters and said, hey, this is off the record. He initially said this is off the record. And then other reporters in the room said no Mr. President we can't take this off the record. Can you just tell us this without perhaps having any video footage of this?
So the President perhaps not understand how off the record works. When you walk into the White House Briefing Room, start telling reporters about South Korea we're going to pretty much consider that to be on the record, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, I mean that's as where the definition of things that obviously or not quite familiar to him. All right stay with us, Jim. I want to go to Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea.
Will, you've been breaking a lot of the story, you know, the players here. You've been to Pyongyang 17 times. Why do you think Kim did this in dramatic way, right? You give a letter to the South Korean delegation, they go to Washington, it gets hand delivered from Kim Jong-un to President Trump. Why do you think Kim did this and offered a personal meeting this way?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, sources that I've been speaking with who are very close to North Korea say that Kim Jong-un has been studying intently President Trump. And he's taking a page, Erin, from the Trump playbook here. He looks at what is happening right now. The sanctions that have been largely imposed by the Trump administration according to my sources are really beginning to bite in North Korea.
The trucks coming from China have gone to almost none and it's going to have a very dramatic effect -- negative effect to North Korea's economy in the coming months and years if the sanctions continue. There's also the messaging from President Trump that he'd be very willing to move to a military option, an attack on North Korea if diplomacy doesn't work.
And So, Kim Jong-un, he wants to remain in power for decades to come. Long after President Trump leaves office. Long after South Korean President Moon Jae-in leaves office. And so his calculus at this moment is that diplomacy is his best and perhaps only option to move forward even though North Korea talks about you know, they have nuclear missiles pointed at the United States. They know that if there was a war to break out with the United States that the odds of North Korea surviving as we know it are next to none.
And, therefore, the North Korean calculus is that they need to engage with this administration, despite the insults that were hurled back and forth, despite all the bellicose rhetoric. And so this is Kim Jong-un being very screwed (ph) here and saying, OK, let's have a meeting and he knows that President Trump likes photo ops, he likes drama. Kim Jong-un, ready to deliver that apparently with this letter that was brought, it was really top secret. I mean nobody here in Seoul knew what was in the contents of this letter that delivered by the national security chief and his vice chief, but just given the secrecy surrounding the fact that the South Korean stated that it was their number one priority when they were in Pyongyang on Monday to secure a meeting between the United States and North Korea.
The South Koreans want these two countries to talk. They want it desperately. They don't want to see the situation escalate any further. They want engagement. And so they flew to Washington and from what we are learning from a former senior U.S. official and a senior U.S. official they delivered this letter, this invitation. They also delivered apparently a promise by Kim Jong-un to freeze nuclear missile testing as this diplomatic process is ongoing, Erin.
BURNETT: Right, of course something they promised to do many times before and of course, broken those promises. Will, let me ask you, do you know anything more about the letter itself? I mean, you know, I think people are very curious about this. Could it have been written by hand? What did it say anything about where a meeting would've happen? What's the drama with the letter itself? Because obviously for President Trump that drama matters a lot.
RIPLEY: And we didn't even confirm, Erin, that this was a letter until a few hours ago. Initially, we were told that it was a message but most likely a verbal message. But now obviously we are hearing it was not. And, you know, if you looked at those images from Kim Jong- un at the headquarters of the Workers Party of Korea, where he had a more than four-hour meeting and extravagant dinner with the South Korean delegation. He was holding in his hand a large binder which, you know, if you look at the binder you assume he had notes, he had talking points, he was ready to sit down, ready to talk.
But perhaps in that binder that Kim Jong-un was holding, he also made a very formal presentation to the South Koreans of this letter, or it could have been that the South Koreans tried to convince him that a letter was the right way to do it, he wrote the letter that they had a follow-up meeting in the next day before the South Koreans flew back here to Seoul to debrief officials here before heading to Washington. And so it will be interesting if the White House releases an image of this letter, what it's going to look like. We've seen what letters from Kim Jong-un looked like before. We've seen his signature. But this could be a document that will go down in history to have a letter from the leader of North Korea written and addressed to Donald Trump, the President of the United States.
BURNETT: This is pretty incredible. All right, thank you very much. And as Jim and Will stand by, you all can see what we can see. We expect them to come out of the door there and walk over to all of those microphones as you see.
[19:10:08] Because the White House seemed to not have any idea what they were actually going to do here, we can't really tell you whether Sarah Sanders will introduce the South Korean delegation, whether the President himself pops out.
This is the sort of theater of course that the President of the United States likes to present us with and you have it there right now. Right now they are 10 minutes late from when they were anticipated to approach. I want to -- as Jim and Will stand by, bring in Phil Mudd, former CIA Counter Terrorism Official joins me now along with Sam Vinograd, she is the former senior adviser to the national security adviser during the Obama administration. Also with us, retired General James "Spider" Marks, he's our military analyst and of course spent a lot of time in South Korea. And Gordon Chang author of "Nuclear showdown North Korea takes on the world". Also here with me in New York, Elise Labott, our global affairs correspondent. She spends a lot of time at the U. N, which of course is supposed they're going to be presented with this whole situation at a special meeting on Monday.
OK, let me start with you, Sam, you're next to me. And this is the big question, this letter comes in. How unprecedented is this moment, that there is a letter from the North Korean leader to the President of the United States requesting an in-person meeting?
SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is historic. We did not get a letter from the North Koreans during the Obama administration, we did not have --
BURNETT: All right, they are going to start talking right now. Let's listen in.
CHUNG EUI-YONG, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, SOUTH KOREA: Good evening. Today, I had the privilege of briefing President Trump on my recent visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. I'd like to thank President Trump, the vice-president and his wonderful national security team, including my close friend, General McMaster.
I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture. I expressed President Moon Jae-in's personal gratitude for President Trump's leadership.
I told President Trump that, in our meeting, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said he is committed to denuclearization. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.
President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.
The Republic of Korea, along with the United States, Japan, and our many partners around the world remain fully and resolutely committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution.
The Republic of Korea, the United States and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.
BURNETT: All right. That was a stunning statement. Let's just start with the most stunning part. That was the National Security Adviser for South Korea Chung Eui-yong and he is saying that in his meeting with President Trump. President Trump expressed his eagerness to -- I'm sorry, Kim Jong-un expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible and President Trump responded saying yes.
Now holding it out there whether he will, he said yes, he will meet Kim Jong-un and he will do so by May. That is an incredible thing and I don't think there is anybody watching this or any expert on Korea who expected that response at this time. Pretty stunning.
Also you heard from the National Security Adviser of South Korea a lot of flattery from South Korea to the President of the United States and saying that Kim Jong-un reiterating his position that North Korea would refrain from anymore nuclear tests.
OK, there is so much to talk about here. Sam Vinograd, who worked with President Obama, you've just said this was unprecedented in terms of getting this letter. Let's just get to Elise, the response. President Trump comes out and says yes I'll meet with you. I'll do it by May.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean look, President Trump wants to be the leader that no -- he wants to do what no other leader has done, right. He wants to meet with Kim Jong- un, get a commitment from the North Korean leader. And, you know, good for him for lowering the temperature. This maximum pressure campaign as you saw the South Korean envoy flattering President Trump speaking to his, you know, ego a little bit. Will someone say ego. And saying, look, your leadership has brought you to this point.
[19:15:17] But, you know, these talks that the U. S. would have with North Korea, if President Trump were to sit down with Kim Jong-un tomorrow, what would he say? I mean, there is no -- and you talked to U. S. officials, there is no strategy for what they want from North Korea, how would this go, these kind of important summit, it would be historic. You would want to think the ground work was laid. And, you know, if he's going to put his advisers in a very tough position right now to prepare the ground for these talks. It's historic. And it's very significant, might be a little premature.
BURNETT: I'm curious, General Marks what you think of the President's strategy. You know, he had the option of saying well OK, I'll think about it. Let's see what you do, whether you actually keep your word or not, then maybe I'll meet with you. But he didn't do that he came out and said yes and not only will I meet with you I'll do it by May. Is that the right strategy?
JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, he said he would meet him by May, which is -- and again I'm blown away here, I've got to tell you, I just took my tie and put it back down in front. Frankly, totally unprecedented, but I think what is not unprecedented, it should -- or skepticism about how this thing is going to evolve. The President indicated he'll meet by May, but there are -- as Elise pointed out, there will be preconditions.
This has to be completely set up so the President doesn't walk in and is totally ambushed and walking away from what ends up being a stillborn outcome. There have to be preconditions. There have to be inspections, if there is going to be a freeze on nuclearization in terms of missiles and tests, that has to be inspected. We have to be able to verify that this is moving in the right direction. So there is a lot of green on that table. That pool table between good intentions and execution.
BURNETT: But Phil, to this point, where, you know, General Marks talked about being blown away. I mean to say he'd do it and he'd do it by May, I mean were you also stunned by that?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Totally stunned. Oh no, absolutely. I was not expecting this announcement to include this.
BURNETT: Yes, sorry, Phil.
MUDD: Yes, but, let's put a couple of things on the table here. Because count me as a skeptic as well. Look, I don't have any problem with the White House trying to lower the temperature with the North Koreans. This is better than the President tweeting that the head of North Korea is little rocket man. We don't need that. But Bush failed. Clinton failed. Obama failed. And let's look at the language that was just used a couple of moments ago at the beginning of this program, Erin. They didn't say they would reverse. That is the South Koreans. They didn't say we had a promise from the North Koreans that they would reverse.
MUDD: They said they would refrain from future testing. What did we see in the past year or two?
MUDD: The development of a ballistic missile program and nuclear testing, which suggest to me that they already have a capability. If I'm the North Korean, I'm saying I can deliver missiles and I can deliver nukes, why not cement the progress I've made and have the American say, that's OK, let's talk?
If I'm the president, I got two questions. What's on the table? And it doesn't sound to me like denuke. It sounds to me like freeze. And number two, what happens if you fail? I didn't hear either one of those.
BURNETT: And Gordon, on this issue, right? The words from the North Korean -- I'm sorry, South Korean national security adviser where they would refrain from anymore nuclear tests. But obviously, you look at what happened to Bill Clinton, right? That they agreed in 1994 that there would be -- that would be the end, and of course that was broken. In 2005, they said they're going to end their nuclear programs and allow inspectors under George W. Bush, and then in 2006 when they have their first nuclear test, so that was worth a whole lot of nothing.
It happened again and then under President Obama, Kim Jong-un for the first time as the leader of North Korea reached out, said there would be no more long-term missile launches and they would halt activity at their major nuclear side. And guess what happened the year later? Their third test. So there's a track record here it's very clear. They say they're going to stop nuclear test and then they just go ahead and do it whenever they are ready to do it next.
GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, there's something different though. You know, this time, there are reports that office number 39 which is the Kim family slush fund is low on funds. And that's low on funds because of the accelerated testing of missiles last year. So I'm not surprised -- I'm surprised by this whole thing. But the one thing that is not surprising is that the North Koreans are not going to test that much more. First of all, as Philip Mudd suggested, look they have already gotten to a high level of proficiency on this.
BURNETT: Right. Because they can already do what they say they want to do or I mean that's a crucial question, right?
CHANG: It certainly is. But also remember they just don't have the money, because President Trump's and the U. N. sanctions are really starting to bite. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence. The most important thing for President Trump right now is not to stop the pressure. And that means, as we heard National Security Adviser Chung say, we can't stop the pressure.
We need to actually pull a lot more on because the North Koreans will give up their nukes eventually if they have no other choice. They're not there yet, Erin, but we can push them, Erin, about six months.
[19:20:15]BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me. More of our breaking news coverage of this stunning moment here and the President of the United States agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, this spring by May. We'll be right back.
BURNETT: And we are back with the breaking news tonight. President Trump agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea by May. An unprecedented move and stunning developments in a relationship that has included a valley of nasty insults, right? We have North Korea calling Trump a dotard, Trump calling him little rocket man, threatening annihilation.
I want to go to Will Ripley in Seoul, because Will you have some new information. I mean, a thing that really seem to just knock people over here was the President Trump said yes, I will meet with you and I will do it by May. You have some information why May?
RIPLEY: Well, May because President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un are going to be meeting at some point in April and so ahead of that meeting and ahead of this presidential summit between Trump and Kim in May, there is obviously a lot of ground work that's going to be laid out.
But, you know, all sides appear to want to be seizing on this momentum here that was first gained when the inter Korean talks were revived in January. They picked up during the Olympics, even though, The U.S. and North Korea never had any meaningful interaction in Pyeongchang.
[19:25:00] Obviously now, Kim Jong-un has calculated this is the time to deal with the United States. And if you think about it, it makes sense. I've been chatting with sources who say that really Kim Jong- un is probably looking at the scenario, he thinks that Trump is somebody who -- one-shot man, who could skip all the bureaucracy and make a realistic decision on the fly without having to go through all the steps that other previous U. S. presidents have done.
So perhaps Kim Jong-un thinks that President Trump could be the one to achieve what he wants, which is, you know, they work out some sort of deal where Kim says he'll freeze his nuclear program in exchange for what North Korea wants which is limited, you know, recognition as a nuclear state and more normalized relationship with the U. S.
I mean, Kim Jong-un has been studying President Trump and he knows that face-to-face meetings are the way to do it. And so, you know, you talk about the charm offensive at the Olympics. Well, this is going to take the charm offensive to a whole new level, Erin.
And I also wanted to talk briefly about the significance of the letter, because in the Western World it might seem kind of crazy for people to think that, you know, they're so much important attached to letters. But you're inside North Korea, documents, letters are everything, letters are the most formal way that a message can be delivered, they hold the highest significance, remember the China's President Xi Jinping also wrote a letter to Kim Jong-un.
So the fact that Kim Jong-un sent President Trump a letter, this is about the highest form of communication that he could do to show he respects President Trump. And he's ready to sit down at the table and try to make a deal obviously for the benefit of his country and his interests.
BURNETT: And obviously, respect is so very crucial in terms of what President Trump wants and his significance of this. All right, Will, stay with us. I want to bring into the conversation now Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby who, of course, was the spokesperson for both the Pentagon and the State Department through many conversations with North Korea.
Admiral Kirby, thank you very much. You heard what Will Ripley just reported a one shot man and that Kim Jong-un thinks this is his chance. President Trump is the guy who can cut through all the bureaucratic tape and get this done. Is this actually a great endorsement and a victory for President Trump?
JOHN KIRBY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Yes, let me tell you something else about the dynamics on the timing here, Erin, it's not just about Donald Trump, it's about Moon Jae-in. Kim Jong-un knows very well that he may not get another shot like this with as such a liberal president of South Korea, somebody who is almost tripping over himself to engage and to make something happen.
The other thing we have to think is it's not just Kim Jong-un here being cowed by Donald Trump, yes I think Will is right that the sanctions are biting, certainly he's a little bit concerned by the military uncertainty. But so, too, are our allies in South Korea. President Trump has rattled them.
So when we talk about what's bringing this about and the timing behind it, it has almost as much to do with the tensions and the feelings and the fear south of the DMZ as it does with the uncertainty to the north.
BURNETT: But is all of that, Admiral, about Donald Trump?
KIRBY: Yes, so --
BURNETT: He's the guy who is -- I mean is this a different moment on every single level than it was with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, right, president after president who failed. Is it different and is it different because of one person, Donald Trump?
KIRBY: It does. It certainly does feels like a different moment to me. I don't think you can look at tonight's developments and not say that it is. And I do think that President Trump deserves some of the credit here because the sanctions that he put in place and the international pressure is starting to have an effect because he has created uncertainty in the minds of both the South and North about what he might do militarily. Yes, he gets credit for that but two other things are really important, Erin.
One, Kim is not his father. He has more credibility at a negotiating table now because he has more capability militarily and he's not going to give that up any time soon. And so he knows he's going into this with a bit of an upper hand.
Number two is Moon Jae-in, as we just talked about, Moon Jae-in is the other factor here that we haven't really discussed. It's because he wants to engage so much. Kim knows that. Kim is taking advantage of that, and he to some degree he's had a running on the table here.
BURNETT: All right. And let's me go back to our team of experts.
Sam, let me go back to you. You obviously were part of whatever conversations intermediaries there were with President Obama. Does this moment feel different to you with this extraordinary development tonight of a meeting between Trump and Kim?
VINOGRAD: It does. Look, it doesn't mean that we should rush into a nuclear summit. Erin, we would spend months preparing for basic meetings that President Obama used to have. Talk to your intelligence committee, talk to your diplomats. There is no way that President Trump can be ready by May to have a high-stakes negotiation on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. It's just impossible.
So we're looking at the scenario now where the President perhaps because he wants a PR opportunity, perhaps because he's desperate to do a deal. It's going to be rushing into a nuclear negotiation. And guess what, you can't wing it. Kim Jong-un is going to be fully prepared.
I think that he's playing to the President's ego and the President's weaknesses by flattering him and by inviting him to Pyongyang. But this is a major confession if President Trump does meet with Kim Jong- un, he's going to be going in unprepared and he's going to be giving to Kim what Kim wants, which is positive photo op.
BURNETT: I mean at least is that what it is between these two? Because if that's the way it is, Trump is going to what? You see him in every one of these televised meetings. He doesn't want the process. He wants to come in and say I'd do it.
LABOTT: That's true. But let me play devil's advocate this time.
LABOTT: OK. They're not going to sit down to a nuclear negotiation and come out in one day with a deal. We are talking about meeting. We're talking about talks. Maybe they sit down and they agree that they are going to give technical experts or Secretary Tillerson and their envoys -- they're going to start negotiations. I don't think --
BURNETT: So, it's really then just a face-to-face meeting?
SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right.
LABOTT: It's face-to-face. Could it be a photo op? Yes. Could it be a start of something? Warming of tensions?
It's been pretty tense on the Korean Peninsula. I do think this is different. I agree with Will Ripley entirely that Kim Jong-un sees that President Trump might be the most favorable deal he's going to get. And if he's going to do something, he might as well try and do it now. I think you have to trust but verify. And the U.S. is not going to
giveaway everything. President Trump does have good advisers around him.
I think it is a different moment. I think it's significant. I think President Trump as we have said does deserve credit for this maximum pressure campaign working. But I think you need to be skeptical about what the North Koreans are going to do.
BURNETT: Well -- and -- you know, on that front, though, what does happen with the North Koreans? Right? Because you have to look at history.
They have allowed inspectors in before. They have said they are going to freeze before. They have said they are not going to test before. And every single time, they have.
And it would seem to defy reason that they would give up all of their nuclear program in a completely verifiable way, which of course is what this administration said they have to do.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, so, let's cut to the chase. The question is, is it different? Let me give you my answer, hell no.
You have a South Korean adviser who just walked out of the West Wing and didn't talk about denuclearization, which is what the President has been talking about. He talked about a freeze. So, the President shows up at the table. He says we are going to freeze in a place where the North Koreans have already proven to us that they have a nuclear capability.
If you are the North Koreans, you are saying in the past five minutes, I just won. So the conversation is whether we test more, not whether we denuclearize.
I don't buy this for a second. I think the North Koreans have won. I would do this if I were the President. Who knows what the North Koreans will show up with? I think the sanctions are having some impact.
But I would place the chance that we see something on denuclearization over that past -- let's -- over the next let's say six, 12, 24 months somewhere between 0 and 20 percent, no better.
BURNETT: Which is interesting.
You know, Gordon, there was an interesting article in the "Wall Street Journal" the other day that went through a little bit of what Will Ripley was talking about, you know, the Chinese trucks at the border and how the borders are empty, there's been all kinds of problems. And, really, China stepping up to the plate has made a huge difference obviously it's the most significant trading partner.
That same article though still said from their reporting that wealthy North Koreans were still able to get everything that they wanted. Now, who knows what the exact situation on the ground is?
Gordon, what's your perception? How dire are the straits? Are the things that Kim Jong-un cares, right, these fancy cars, these fancy alcohol, his women, all the things that provide, you know, the lifestyle that he wants to maintain, has that truly been damaged to a level he's willing to negotiate?
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, I think there has been certainly a reduction in the money going to regime. We saw that with that soldier who defected on November 13th. He had uncooked kernels of corn in his digestive tract, indicating he was scrounging for food.
BURNETT: And worms, right?
CHANG: He was one of the best of the best. Well, the works we know about because North Korea uses excrement for fertilizer. But the uncooked kernels of corn were actually significant, because this guy is best of the best. He's in the joint security area. North Korea has every incentive to keep him fed, and they didn't do it.
And, Erin, just by one thing, I think that Kim Jong-un and President Trump are trying to influence President Moon, that's why they are making statements they ordinarily wouldn't make.
BURNETT: General Marks, let me ask you about one other thing that was said here. Often, you know, you get these texts and this anger from North Korea when the standard joint exercises, the standard joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korea happen. You know, we have all been in South Korea around when this happened.
This was very explicit tonight. The South Korean envoy saying that Kim Jong-un accepts that the joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korea must continue.
How significant is that? Kim Jong-un was willing to put that on the table. Is that something or not?
JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is something. It's huge, quite frankly. I would think Kim would run the risk of being viewed as irrelevant and in fact not being taken seriously if he were not to acknowledge that the coalition, the South Korean-U.S. coalition, military coalition on the peninsula is one of the best in the world, and has been there for 70 years. He has to acknowledge that that's not going away, and that their rhythm of exercises and joint connections and that command is going to continue to exist in some capacity.
[19:35:06] The fact that he acknowledged that makes us realize there might be something real here. But again, we have to be -- a large dose of skepticism has to be taken with all of this.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to all of you. Just an extraordinarily evening and of course owning the door to the big question, if President Trump can truly solve this problem, that would be going down as a great President, and there's no way around that. That is the reality here.
Thank you all.
And next, new developments in the Russian investigation. Tonight, House investigators threaten to subpoena former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after his testimony on Capitol Hill today.
And the wrath of Trump raining down on a top aide tonight, blaming here for making the Stormy Daniels story worse, as a second name surfaces tonight.
BURNETT: New tonight, Democrats on the House Intel Committee threatening to subpoena former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. He spent three hours testifying before the panel today, claiming he answered all relevant questions. But that's not what Congressman Adam Schiff is saying. The ranking member saying Lewandowski refused to talk about the firing of James Comey or the misleading statement drafted about Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Witnesses don't get to pick and choose when it comes to relevant testimony to our investigation. So, we requested a subpoena. Whether that will be granted by the majority or not, I cannot say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill, breaking a lot of the story.
Manu, Republicans were willing, the majority, as Schiff refers to, they were willing to subpoena Steve Bannon when he refused to answer questions before the committee.
Are they going to be willing to do that for Lewandowski?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not getting any indication that they are willing to go that far. In fact, Republicans that I've talked to afterwards are saying that they believe that he answered all, quote, relevant questions. And that's the buzzword of Lewandowski. When he left the hearing committee, he said, I answered all relevant questions.
But he chose what questions were relevant and what were not. And Democrats said that there were questions that were left unanswered, including as you mentioned, how that statement was drafted about that Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians, as well as what he knew about the firing of James Comey, because Lewandowski, despite having left the Trump campaign June 2016 remained contact with White House officials and with the President himself.
But Republicans seem willing to move on past Lewandowski. They believe they got answers to their questions. And it's unclear, Erin, what else they're going to do with Steve Bannon threatening to hold in contempt for not answering questions. But right now, it's uncertain whether they're going to move forward with that as well, Erin.
BURNETT: Of course, you know, "The Washington Post" has been talking about Mueller zeroing in on that meeting in the Seychelles that was between a Russian insider, a Putin insider, and Blackwater co-founder Erik Prince. And now, Schiff is calling for Erik Prince to return in front of his committee because Schiff was concerned he misled them about that meeting with the Russian banker.
When I spoke to Erik Prince about this, he downplayed the meeting and who he met with. It was rather strange exchange. Let me play it quickly, Manu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIK PRINCE, BLACKWATER CO-FOUNDER: Some fund manager I can't remember his name.
BURNETT: A fund manager but you don't remember his name.
PRINCE: I don't remember his name. We didn't exchange cards.
BURNETT: How long was it, the meeting, do you remember?
PRINCE: It probably lasted about -- as long as one beer.
BURNETT: So it was a casual setting?
PRINCE: Absolutely. Private business that had nothing to do with the U.S. government, had nothing to do with the Trump team, or the transition team or anything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All the way to the Seychelles for just one beer, Manu, that doesn't jive with what other people involved in that meeting, of course, have told me and others have told you. Why is this meeting getting so much renewed scrutiny now?
RAJU: Well, the big question is whether or not there was an effort to create this backchannel discussion between the Russians and the incoming Trump administration in January of 2017. And Prince furiously, of course, denied that, not just to you, Erin, but also to the House Intelligence Committee when he testified in November. But now learning that another participant was in one of those meetings, that's George Nader. He's a businessman, a Lebanese-American businessman with ties to the Trump team, with Middle Eastern specialist.
And Erik Prince did not reveal to the committee that Nader was a part of these meetings. And Nader himself cooperating now with Bob Mueller's investigation, looking at whether or not this was also part of the backchannel's effort to create that backchannel discussion. So the question tonight, Erin, tonight for the Democrats on the committee whether or not -- whether Erik Prince told the true to the committee, Republicans right now though, Erin, don't see any issue, that they don't see any reason to bring him back to the committee.
So, we'll see how this ultimately is resolved here on Capitol Hill, Erin.
BURNETT: Obviously, crucial for the committee and also for Bob Mueller. Thank you very much, Manu Raju.
And we have breaking news now. Jim Acosta at the White House.
Jim, you've got more breaking details on the stunning from the North Korean president to President Trump, which the President has accepted. What can you tell us?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, one thing we wanted to make sure, Erin, is that White House is confirming the President has indeed accepted the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un. The White House is confirming that. We have a statement from Sarah Sanders, the press secretary.
I can read it to you. It says, President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept, the statement says, the invitation to meet with Kim Jong- un, a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.
And so, they are making clear that they're not taking the foot off the gas pedal in terms of this pressure that's been applied on North Korea. They want to remain this in place until this meeting happened. But, Erin, I can tell you within talking to a senior official, just in the last several minutes, this all transpired very quickly this afternoon.
I'm told by this official that the South Korean delegation first met with H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, that was when this offer was first revealed. Then, they went straight to the President. They went into the Oval Office. Briefed the President on all of this. The South Korean delegation once again explained that to the President.
And then within about that same hour, I'm told, the President then came into the briefing room, made that surprise stunning announcement and sprung it on all of us. All of that happened within about an hour.
So, this was all moving very quickly this afternoon. And an according to this official, now, all they are working on at this point is the date and place for this meeting which will obviously be quite extraordinary -- Erin.
BURNETT: So, Jim, let me ask you, because this is a crucial, it's a specific point. But when you say at a place and time to be determined, the South Korean envoy said that President Trump had agreed to meet Kim Jong-un and to do so by May. [19:45:08] ACOSTA: That's right.
BURNETT: They are obviously explicitly not confirming May to you. They're -- it sounds like trying to keep the date out of this. Right, explicitly, right?
ACOSTA: Exactly. And I think they want to keep this so tightly under wraps at the moment that they don't want to say exactly, to your point, whether this may happen very soon. They are simply saying that this will happen by May. They also don't want to get into the location of when these talks will occur. But this official did mention that they do believe the South Koreans will also be involved in the conversation.
So does it make sense for the President to go to Seoul, South Korea? That would obviously be a meeting point that would make sense. But, of course, we can't jump to conclusions at this point as to whether this might take place, because they say they are working on all those details as we are speaking right now.
And, Erin, this moved so quickly this afternoon, I would have to think they are trying to catch their breathe inside the White House at this point before they start planning all this -- Erin.
BURNETT: Right. Of course, as we have reported from the Pentagon, many officials there didn't know about this. I mean, it's just stunning that it took the breathe away of so many in the President's administration.
All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta.
And next, we have new details on the Stormy Daniels scandal. What we are learning about a new woman who may have confidential information about Daniels alleged affair with President Trump.
[19:50:25] BURNETT: Breaking news, we are learning that a woman may have, quote, confidential information about Stormy Daniel's alleged affair with President Trump and she also happens to be a Trump accuser.
Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.
So, Sara, what are you learning about this woman who Trump has, of course, denied knowing?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: Yes, another denial that doesn't look like that it's actually true.
Let's talk about this. It's a little confusing, but we'll go through it. Adult film star Jessica Drake accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct about a month before the presidential election. That is her there sitting next to Gloria Allred, who is her attorney and was also attorney at the time. Now, when she came out with those accusations about President Trump, this is how, excuse me, candidate Trump, this is how candidate Trump's spokesperson responded just before the election. The spokesperson saying, listen. Mr. Trump does not know this person, does not remember this person, and would have no interest in ever knowing her.
Now, he's talking there about Jessica Drake. Less than a week after that statement was made, Jessica Drake, under her legal name, Angel Ryan, showed up in the non-disclosure agreement that was signed by Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney. That non- disclosure agreement is the agreement that Stormy Daniels also signed, saying that she would not go forward with her story.
This is where things get complicated. Now, it appears that Jessica Drake was told by Stormy Daniels the details of what happened between her and President Trump, whether they were sexual details that she alleges and that this affair lasted from 2006 to 2007. She must have had some information, because she's named in the non-disclosure agreement as someone who got information from Stormy Daniels.
We still have not heard from the White House on this, whether they are going to acknowledge that indeed the President did know who Jessica Drake was, but that is the latest. We are now seeing new evidence that CNN uncovered that the person that is listed in the non- disclosure agreement, named Angel Ryan is indeed Jessica Drake, one of Donald Trump's accusers -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara, explaining that. It's complicated, but explained it very clearly and well. So, we all know exactly what's at stake here.
Let's go now to national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh, and former Trump adviser, Steve Cortes.
So, Steve, let me start with you as Sara laid this out. Adult porn star Jessica Drake is named in the Stormy Daniels non-disclosure agreement, which, of course, was signed by herself and Michael Cohen. The President didn't actually sign on this part. But Trump obviously has claimed that he did not know who Jessica Drake was.
How damaging could this be, Steve?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Erin, I don't think damaging at all. I think in all reality, what we're seeing a lot of the mainstream media right now is majoring in the minors. Instead of talking about the diplomatic breakthroughs that you've been talking about tonight, instead of talking about the economy, ISIS mashed, what is a lot of the media fixated on? Tabloid smut, allegations from people involved in pornography from a decade ago. I don't think it's relevant to what's going on today. It's certainly not relevant to most Americans --
BURNETT: Certainly, if the President of the United States was aware of a payment made to her to obtain her silence to help him in the election, it would be a violation of federal election law and in that sense, Steve, that would be a crime and quite significant, I would argue.
CORTES: Well, I would say, listen, there's no credible information. By the way, these accusers have been incredibly conflicted themselves. So, I take the President at his word.
CORTES: I will just say this, and I think this is really conflicted because Stormy Daniels has made incredibly conflicted statements again and again. And I'm going to take the President's word over someone involved in pornography.
But I think more importantly, to the people who elected the President, they didn't believe when they voted for him that he was Mother Teresa, that he had a perfect past. And, by the way, none of us do. But nobody believed that. So, that was not the reason they voted for him.
They voted for him because they believed in the change and the opportunity he would bring to this country, and he's delivering on that.
BURNETT: OK, Joan?
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, what Trump voters want or believe is not what's paramount here. The law is paramount, Steve. And also don't ride Erin for not paying attention to the South Korea/North Korea breakthrough, because she just spent 54 minutes on it.
So, we're getting to this at the end. This is still important. If a crime was committed, it's going to matter, whether it matters to the Trump voters or not.
We also, I am also fascinated by the fact that, you know, Jessica Drake shows up here, she can corroborate some of the Stormy Daniels story.
[19:55:03] You know, conceivably, can Stormy Daniels or Stephanie Clifford, her real name, can she corroborate any of Jessica Drake's claims about the President Trump's unwanted groping, kissing, basically sexual assault. It's all getting very interesting, even if Steve doesn't want to see it.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Steve, first of all, this is an important story, period. Secondly, we spent almost 40 minutes talking about Korea on this show. Thirdly, the White House pulled Peter Navarro who was supposed to come on and give us a 10-minute interview about tariffs and they did so right before this program began.
So, perhaps you, if you were working at the White House wouldn't have made such a poor decision, but that's what they did, OK? So let's just be clear here. They don't want to talk about the substance of things like tariffs, so they pulled him off the show.
CORTES: Well, I'm happy to talk about tariffs any time you want. I love -- (CROSSTALK)
BURNETT: Right. But you don't work for the White House. You don't speak for the White House. And Peter Navarro does. So --
BURNETT: That's the way --
CORTES: That is true.
WALSH: And Peter Navarro got humiliated today because he said that there would be no exception, and suddenly, this agreement is riddled with exceptions, starting with Canada and Mexico, but maybe we're going to have exceptions for everybody.
BURNETT: And, Steve, on the point here of Stormy Daniels, you know, we are learning Trump is upset with his press secretary, the way she handled it. He thinks that she gave the whole thing oxygen, the steroids the word that we've been told was used after she acknowledged his involvement in the arbitration with her.
Obviously, that is significant too. His press secretary, Steve is, one could argue at this point the most loyal person in the White House to this President. And he's mad at her about Stormy Daniels.
CORTES: Right. Well, look, I don't know that that's true. If it is true, I would say this. What Donald Trump did as a private citizen, as a Hollywood celebrity a decade ago is pretty irrelevant to me, I think it's irrelevant to most working Americans. What matters is what he did once he became a candidate and certainly once he did -- what he has done --
BURNETT: You keep skipping the crucial thing. It matters if he violated federal election law by paying her off to win the election.
WALSH: He was a candidate. That was actually only a year and a half ago. So, that's what -- no one cares about Stormy Daniels. At least it seems it was a consensual relationship, some women alleged he had non-consensual relationships with. So, we're adults don't care about porn stars. We care about cover-ups, do you care about crime.
CORTES: The allegations of sexual misconduct against the President, then candidate, were widely known by the American electorate. They either decided that they were irrelevant --
WALSH: So that means it doesn't matter?
CORTES: -- or they weren't true or some combination of both. No, I'm saying that --
BURNETT: Do you care if he violated the law? Do you care if he violated the law in election contribution or do you not care?
CORTES: Of course I care if he violated the law. I don't believe he did. Of course, I care about that.
BURNETT: OK, then you care about Stormy Daniels. And just said you care about Stormy Daniels.
CORTES: I don't care about Stormy Daniels.
BURNETT: OK, that's the person who received $130,000 from the President's personal attorney days before the election.
CORTES: I don't care what a porn star who has been shown already incredibly on the public record to be a liar several times. I really don't care what she says.
BURNETT: I'm not talking about she says. First of all, I'm not talking about what she says, and I'm not going to say which of them is more credible. I'm simply going to say she got $130,000 from Michael Cohen.
WALSH: Why --
BURNETT: Who cares about what she says? The point is, if there was a payoff to help the President in the election, it can be a violation of federal election crime. If you don't think that's a story, you don't.
CORTES: Right. Look, I'm not a lawyer. I don't know about federal election crime. I know this, I know Donald Trump is a man who captured the imagination and belief of the American people that we can do better, and he's delivering every day on that in office.
No one ever claimed that he was Mother Teresa. Nobody claimed he had an unblemished past. He himself certainly wouldn't have. So, if don't think there's a story here. I really don't.
I think there's an effort again by mainstream media and by his critics to instead of talking about the substance of his administration, to try to dig back to something from a decade or more ago and try to create it tabloid rubbish.
BURNETT: We're talking about a banana, and you're talking about an apple.
BURNETT: We're talking about what happened days before the election, Steve, not what happened ten years ago. What happened days before the election. That's what we're talking about. We want to make it very clear. You can't just by saying we're talking about something else, make us talk about something else. It's not just the fact, OK? It's just not. Sorry, Joan, final word. WALSH: It's poor Melania. My final word is poor Melania, but I
really don't care about the consensual relationship with a porn star. I care whether she was paid off, and you should care, too, Steve.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much for joining us. I appreciate it. You can watch OUTFRONT anytime anywhere on CNN Go.
Breaking news coverage of what's going on in North Korea, extraordinary development tonight, with a meeting coming up between the President of the United States and Kim Jong-un continues right now with "AC360" which starts right now.