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Trump Courts Sen. Paul to Confirm Pompeo Nomination; Pompeo Meets with North Korean Leader Ahead of Proposed Trump Meeting. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2018 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be meeting with Kim Jong-un. We will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success.

[05:59:45] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know how this is going to turn out at this point in time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea for years has wanted respect.

TRUMP: There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't make sense that you want to take military action but you don't want to do sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To not target them with sanctions is just letting them off easy.

TRUMP: They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them. They are still here.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He is endlessly whining about Mueller and Rosenstein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody can -- I think everybody jumps the gun. The fact of the matter is he hasn't fired them.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 19, 6 a.m. here in New York, and here's our starting line.

President Trump expressing optimism ahead of planned talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The president is also vowing to cancel or walk out if the meeting is not, quote, "fruitful." Denuclearization and the release of captive Americans are all on the table. President Trump repeating the words "No collusion" three times in his

very first sentence after being asked whether he would sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller. The president again insisting, wrongly, that the Russia investigation is a hoax and downplaying reports that he's considering firing the special counsel and the deputy attorney general.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump again claiming that nobody has been tougher on Russia than him. But CNN has learned that President Trump personally made the decision to abandon that new round of sanctions on Russia. You'll remember that the White House threw Ambassador Nikki Haley under the bus for announcing those sanctions on Sunday, and she then fought back.

And a long-time lawyer for Donald Trump named Jay Goldberg says he got a phone call from the president seeking advice. Goldberg says that he warned the president not to talk to the special counsel and to watch out for Michael Cohen. Goldberg predicts that Michael Cohen will flip on the president and cooperate with the feds.

So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip. She is live in West Palm Beach, Florida, with more. What's the latest there, Abby?


President Trump spent the last two days with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe here in Mar-a-Lago, talking about that North Korean summit. And he's optimistic. But he says that if the meeting isn't going well, he may very well pull out while it's underway.


TRUMP: If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go. If the meeting when I'm there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump giving new insights into his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Mr. Trump promising Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he would work hard for the return of at least a dozen Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and '80s.

The president also declaring CIA Director Mike Pompeo go along really well with the North Korean dictator during their secret meeting over Eastern weekend. Mr. Trump using this news to push for Mike Pompeo to be confirmed as the next secretary of state. But one prominent Republican senator still opposes it.

TRUMP: I will say this about Rand Paul. He's never let me down.

PHILLIP: Meantime, CNN is learning new details about the confusion with plans to impose sanctions on Russia. Three senior administration officials tell CNN that President Trump personally made the decision to abandon those plans hours after U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley made the announcement in a televised interview on Sunday. TRUMP: We'll do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it.

PHILLIP: As the commander in chief grapples with the Russia investigation closing in on his inner circle.

TRUMP: There has been no collusion. They won't find any collusion. It doesn't exist.

PHILLIP: President Trump declaring five times there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, despite ongoing investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate. Mr. Trump downplaying speculation that he could fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

TRUMP: They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they're still here. So we want to get the investigation over with.

PHILLIP: CNN also learning another one of President Trump's long-time lawyers warned him that Michael Cohen, who is under criminal investigation, could turn against him after the FBI seized records from his office, home, and hotel room.

Jay Goldberg says he told the president on Friday, "Anybody who is facing 30 years never stands up."


PHILLIP: So the president today is heading to Key West, Florida, to visit a military unit that intercepts drugs by air and sea. He's going to be in Florida also for the rest of the week -- Alisyn and Chris.

CAMEROTA: OK, Abby, thank you very much.

Let's discuss all this with CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger.

So David, when the president says he's willing to walk away if the meeting with Kim Jong-un is not fruitful, do we know what the goals, the stated goals of this meeting are?

DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we know one stated goal, Alisyn, which is that he says he wants to bring about complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But that's the very end point. And people have been saying that, and presidents have been saying that for many, many years.

[06:05:14] So the question is, does the White House have a theory of the case about how they're going to go do this negotiation. Do they understand what it is they want to get out of this initial meeting, what kind of process they want to set up. And then once they set it up, how do you keep it moving along very quickly? And I've already been told by South Korean officials and others there are already some differences about how much time you allow for this to happen. As for his walk out of the room, you know, in 2016 when he was

critiquing the Iran deal, he said to me and to Maggie Haberman that he would have walked out of the room many times before he got that deal. It was hard to pin him down about what. And yesterday was about the same thing. He didn't really tell us very much about what he wanted to get out of this.

CUOMO: So John, the stated goal of getting rid of nukes is obviously a very, very high bar.


CAMEROTA: Then it becomes, well, what is the process here, and what will show progress there, right? So this gets complicated. You have Pompeo go there. Obviously, this was a little bit of a coup politically for them. They did it. We didn't know about it.

CAMEROTA: Well, what concession did they get? I mean --

CUOMO: None. But just that they were able to do it.

CAMEROTA: It was secret.

CUOMO: We didn't know about it. It was Pompeo. He's his man. You know, he took his intel guys. It's all playing well is what I'm saying.

AVLON: Sure. You gave him a Nobel Prize yesterday. My God.

CAMEROTA: He nominated him.

CUOMO: Remember what Obama got the -- the Nobel Prize for.

AVLON: No, that's absolutely true.

CUOMO: If you wind up having some kind of agreement with North Korea where they stop any kind of weapons vision --


CUOMO: -- and you have the armistice turn into a real peace, we'll revisit. I'll come back to this show for that conversation. And you can put me right over there, next to J.B. And I'll just be staring at you like this the whole time.

AVLON: And I -- and I will be -- I will be saying you're right, and he deserved it. Look --

CUOMO: What I'm saying is it just gets more complicated.

AVLON: Of course it does.

CUOMO: Pompeo going there, that was crafty. It looked good. We'll see if it helps Mike's legitimacy with people who are questioning him. But now you have to fold in, is Japan part of this? Is that why he's meeting with him right now? China, is that a carrot and stick? "I'm going to be really good friends with Japan, but I'm going to be very tough on China."

CAMEROTA: I think it's called details.

AVLON: Right, sure. Look, the devil is in the details. China needs to be part of the process, because they're a co-signatory to the armistice, like the United States.

Look, what Trump -- Trump and Co. deserve credit for taking on North Korea early. Remember, Defense Secretary Mattis's first foreign trip was to South Korea. That was a recognition of the priority on North Korea and the danger they felt represented, because past administrations, Democrat and Republican, are kicked the can and gotten North Korean to a place where it could, all of a sudden, have nuclear weapons that could threaten not only regional security but the United States.

So they've been hawkish on North Korea since the beginning. And that hawkishness, that tough talk, seems to have changed the calculus in the region. Donald Trump deserves credit for that.

When they get to the negotiating table, remember, that agreement for a face-to-face talk really took his advisers in the administration by surprise. Is there a danger that Donald Trump could get rolled? Yes. Is he maybe approaching this negotiation with the bluster of a New York real estate deal? That's one way to look at it.

But the other way to look at him walking away is Reagan in Reykjavik: "I'm not going to take a bad deal."

So is this high stakes for the world? Yes. Are they actually doing a lot of the hard work necessary to change the calculus? I think they deserve credit for this.

CAMEROTA: David Sanger, what do you think? And touch on that, if you would, about whether this was a coup for Mike Pompeo or whether he left without concessions or we just don't know about the concessions.

SANGER: Well, clearly one of the things they wanted to do when they sent Mike Pompeo was get those three Americans who were being held by the North Koreans and get them on his airplane coming back with him. And that did not happen.

Now, that may be down the line, as they -- and I suspect it probably will be. And the president made a reference to it yesterday. But remember, Bill Clinton went to retrieve some Americans. Jim Clapper, the director of national intelligence, went a few years ago, came back with the Americans. It was interesting. When Mike Pompeo got on that airplane, he got on it alone.

But it was a coup. And I think it will probably help Pompeo in what's going to be a bit of a rough confirmation process here, because he's like to not get -- in fact, almost certain at this point that he will not get a positive referral out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And that will be the first time in nearly a century that's happened.

My suspicion is he will probably pass when the Senate takes it up.

On the question, the really fascinating question of how the president approaches this, look, I think the best you could do in a first meeting is, in trying something that they've had, de facto, since November, which is a freeze on nuclear testing and a freeze on missile testing. And that would be a first step, and the president would spin that as this is on the way to denuclearization.

[06:10:05] The only issue out of that is it also enshrines the current status quo, and the current status quo, the president has said, is unacceptable because North Korea has clearly got the range to reach some American territory, maybe the United States. And clearly now has probably 20 or so weapons. So they have to move beyond that. And the president's got to do this so that he gets something better than the Iran deal.

CUOMO: All right. So let's skip to another international topic, fact or fabrication. Now, the president says, "Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I am." John Avlon.

AVLON: I'm laughing because it's worth laughing about. I mean, look, Ronald Reagan was pretty tough on Russia. Plenty of presidents have been tough on Russia. Donald Trump has not been one of them.

Have the administration, and particularly his Pentagon, taken some tough actions? Yes. But for example, one of the toughest, the expulsion of 60 diplomats, we know that Donald Trump now pushed back in private and was furious about that. So he's trying to take credit for being tough without falling through. We know he's reluctant to criticize Vladimir Putin, in public or private. We know that he undercut Nikki Haley's call for sanctions, which was apparently an administration plan. And then he pulled back from the president.

So have they been tougher than some of the people on the far left they suggest? Yes. The administration has been tougher than some folks may suggest. Have they been tougher, the toughest? That's ridiculous.

CAMEROTA: So David Sanger, let's fact-check what the president claimed about this yesterday. Let me play it for a moment.


TRUMP: We'll do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it. We will have -- that is a question. There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.


CAMEROTA: OK. Well, there was more about where he laid out what he thought his case was that they have built up the military. They've created vast amounts of oil. They've raised billions of extra dollars in NATO. This was the case that he was making. Your thoughts?

SANGER: Well, first of all, they have allocated more money for the U.S. military. They have talked about building up our nuclear forces. But so far there's not much of a change in the posture. Now, maybe that will come over the next few years.

The second thing -- I think this is sort of critical -- the president talks about sanctions as if they are the end goal here. They are not the end goal. Sanctions are the means to an end. What is it that we want to get the Russians to do if -- for the lure of having the sanctions lifted?

Well, to start with, turn back Crimea. Secondly, got out of Ukraine. Thirdly, stop a set of provocations around Europe. Stop the cyber- attacks that are taking place not only in Ukraine but in the rest of the former Soviet states.

CUOMO: And here.

AVLON: And here. And in Europe.

SANGER: Right, right. And in Europe. So what the president -- he's talking about sanctions as if putting sanctions on is -- shows your toughness. No. Sanctions are a way to start a conversation and a diplomatic process to get something done. And we've never heard him articulate that.

AVLON: Right.

CAMEROTA: All right. Very helpful. David Sanger, John Avlon, thank you both very much.

CUOMO: Another interesting twist in the whole legal kerfuffle going on around the president of the United States. A long-time Trump confidant and, actually, a counsel of his, warns the president that Michael Cohen, known for his loyalty to Trump, could turn on him. Really? Why would this be said by an attorney for the president? Next.


[06:17:13] CUOMO: All right, kids. It's time to put on the thinking caps, OK? Here's what happened.

One of the president's long-time legal advisers warns President Trump that Michael Cohen could flip on him, as he is facing, potentially, jail time in a criminal investigation. That is very, very early on in an analysis. All right. We haven't even had any charges. There's no indictment against Michael Cohen. However, let's discuss with John Avlon and CNN political analyst, Margaret Talev.

Help us understand this situation. So this man, Jay Goldberg, OK, who has worked with the president in the past as a lawyer.

CAMEROTA: A divorce attorney.

CUOMO: So two different divorces he's done. Right? So we must presume he is a family law specialist. That's what he does. People don't freelance in divorce work. They do it.

So for some reason, he says the president called him for advice. So I don't know what he was asking for advice on. But somehow in that conversation, he wound up discussing Michael Cohen and his potential for flipping. Because nobody, when they're facing 30 years, stands up. We don't know that Michael Cohen is facing that. But I don't understand what any of this means, John.

AVLON: It's important. First of all, the president is doing dial- for-advice.

CUOMO: With a divorce attorney?

AVLON: Apparently.

CAMEROTA: He's also talked to Sean Hannity.

AVLON: The bar is not terribly high.

CAMEROTA: Not that Sean doesn't have good guidance, but he's looking for advice a lot.

AVLON: Particularly on geopolitical issues. Anyway, the point is so he is a lawyer. The president apparently asked him or, you know, he offered whether Cohen can flip. And he used the lens that's usually used for any -- if someone is off being confronted with 30 years in prison, they'll flip. They'll flip against their best friend.

The difference is everyone else doesn't have the president as a client, who has the power to pardon.

There may be some history between Cohen and Goldberg. With don't know. Everything we know about Cohen shows that, I mean, his loyalty to Trump takes on the level of religion. I mean, it is a deep and personal and definitional thing for him. So that would be surprising.

But also, the president has got the power to pardon. So I'm sure the advice occurred. But whether it's credible is another question.

CAMEROTA: It's also interesting that Jay Goldberg, the divorce -- long-time divorce attorney for Donald Trump, spoke to Gloria Borger of CNN and shared this conversation with her. What happened to attorney- client --

CUOMO: Maybe the president's right. Maybe it is dead.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Either it's sanctioned by the president, which is -- presents its own set of questions.

AVLON: Right.

TALEV: Or he's just sort of operating on his own. But we heard the president talk last week about -- I think it was on Twitter. I'm trying to remember right now. How many lawyers he has. And I think in parentheses, he said "too many." And we're like, "Wait, how many lawyers does he have?" And we could think of a few. There's Jay Sekulow, right? There's Ty Cobb at the White House. There's Dom McGahn at the White House. Who are the other lawyers?

CAMEROTA: Here we go.

TALEV: This is sort of a reminder that there are actually other lawyers. Michael Cohen and now Mr. Goldberg.

CUOMO: But it's just -- so --

TALEV: We could ask him during the Macron news conference.

CUOMO: Right. We'll see how that goes. You know, the idea that -- first of all, it's just a weird thing to say.

So if Jay Goldberg knows -- Donald Trump should not want Jay Goldberg to suggest that Michael Cohen could flip on him. OK? Michael Cohen is a confidant, is a friend and supposedly someone he considers family. So this is insulting to Michael Cohen.

[06:20:12] And for Goldberg to go out of this confidence and talk about this is also strange. So why would this be happening? I just -- I don't get it. I believe it happened. I just don't understand why it's happened.

AVLON: Only the best people, Chris. Only the best people. Look, I think there's some competition in Trumplandia for the president's attention. And you know, again, I think sometimes we look for strategy when there is none.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's move on. The president was asked yesterday during a press conference, have you concluded that it is not worth the political fallout to remove the special counselor, Robert Mueller, or Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Here's what he responded.


TRUMP: There was no collusion. And that's been so found, as you know, the House Intelligence Committee, there's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia other than by the Democrats. Or as I call them, the obstructionists, because they truly are obstructionists.

This is a hoax. As far as the investigation, nobody has ever been more transparent than I have instructed our lawyers. Be totally transparent. So we are hopefully coming to the end. It is a bad thing for our country. Very, very bad thing for our country. But there has been no collusion. They won't find new collusion. It doesn't exist.


CAMEROTA: He did announce that he had trademarked that phrase. Worth noticing. So anyway, that isn't what he was asked. But, you know, the president sticks to the "no collusion" talking point.

TALEV: I think he sort of got to it -- you know, the idea that, as of right now at this exact moment, Mueller and Rosenstein are still in their jobs. As Jim Comey has been saying on his national book tour, he didn't think he was going to get fired either. So I think this is the operative plan for right now, is that either

one of these two gentlemen isn't going to be messed with by the president or his team, for right now.

CUOMO: Well, look, I mean, the simple answer, Kellyanne Conway struggled with this also. They're relying on Rosenstein now as a point of integrity for the case against Comey. But at the same time, they will not say that Rosenstein is secure in his job.

All the president had to say was, if he wanted to take a shot at the media, which is unjustified. Because every time we say someone is going to leave, they wind up leaving. It's just a question of when. And now know the president often delays decisions to make it look like we're wrong, but then it happens eventually anyway., which is a waste of time, but whatever.

He says Rosenstein is fine. Next question. And it's over. And in fact, if anything, it generates a positive news cycle for him.

No collusion. Isn't the risk in that, that at some point, this president is going to need the government of the United States to be respected by the American people? At some point he's going to have to come to the American people and say, "Here's what we know. Trust us. And this is why we're going to do" whatever it is.

CAMEROTA: Yes. (ph) Incredulity.

AVLON: That's one of the many, many problems.

CUOMO: But at some point, he's going to have to do that, and he's planting, especially in his base, anybody who's open to the suggestion, they have to know is wrong. They have to know the investigation is not a hoax at this point. When he says that to the American people, he is planting the seeds for them to say, I don't believe you. I don't believe our government would do anything like this with integrity.

AVLON: He is running down the United States government, which he leads. He is diminishing the presidency, the Oval Office he occupies and sort of short-term impulsive blurting out sound bites designed to create a drum beat that are often not only distanced from facts but have no relation to them. The Mueller investigation is a hoax. The no collusion dance remix I'm looking forward to.

So this is a -- this is a fundamental problem about trust in our institutions that the president is undermining systematically for short-term gain.

TALEV: But I flip it. The premise of the campaign was that the institutions have been untrustworthy and that they have gotten us into foreign entanglements, into interventions, wars, engagements, policies, health care policy, you name it, that you can't trust, that you can't believe in.

I actually don't see this as really a tipping point of any of that. It's -- it's what the argument for Trump has been based on among many in his base. But I think the issue is a little bit different, though. It is a question of can you hang onto enough Republican support, you know, permanently to stick by and to support you particularly after these midterms.

And we also know that there have been discussions and consideration among the president and his advisers about, you know, whether Rosenstein and Mueller, what are the kind of variables. You're going to do this, and you're going to do that.

It's not like this is coming out of nowhere. It's not like, you know, news reports have invented this debate or these discussions. The question that was asked in the news conference is much more geared to where is your head at on this now? You have thought about it. What have you concluded?

[06:25:00] CAMEROTA: Margaret, very quickly, because you're the president of the Correspondents' Association and the White House Correspondents' Dinner is coming up, which is the annual event where we all get together and, generally, the president of the United States always comes. He's often roasted or at least poked fun at.

TALEV: He generally does.

CAMEROTA: But this year he's announced he's not. He didn't come last year, as well. So Donald Trump has not gone to this as president. Will that change the tenor of the night?

TALEV: No, of course not. The night is about celebrating great journalism, the next generation of student journalists, the First Amendment and, hopefully, bringing all sides in the political spectrum together that -- that night. And we're very pleased to have Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, join us at the head table, and the message is what it always has been, about the connection of the First Amendment not just to the business of journalism but to all Americans' lives.

CUOMO: How do you cover the dueling rally if everybody is at the White House Correspondents' Dinner?

TALEV: We'll send someone who's not a White House correspondent to be covering the response rally that night.

CAMEROTA: All right. Margaret Talev, thank you very much.

John Avlon, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So James Comey is out there. He's writing op-eds. He's doing lots of interviews. But now we're coming to the second phase of analysis. He's gotten his message out there. But there are questions. And he is going to be sitting across from a very good questioner today. Jake Tapper interviews James Comey on "THE LEAD" today at 4 p.m. That's no-miss TV.

CAMEROTA: I'm setting my alarm right now.

All right. Meanwhile, this update for you that's so important. Federal aviation officials are taking action after that passenger was killed by the blown engine on that Southwest Airlines flight. We have the new details about what is about to change.


All right. The FAA is taking action. They're ordering an inspection of jet engine blades aboard the southwest airlines flight. The directive will limit the number of takeoffs and landings mandating that blades be replaced when they fail inspection. Why? Because investigators say the blades, one of those had metal fatigue broke apart and led to flying shrapnel that may have led to the death of a passenger when she was partially is sucked through. She died of blunt force trauma to her head, (inaudible) and torso.