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North Korea Threatens to Cancel Trump-Kim Summit; Justice Department Investigating Cambridge Analytica. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2018 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea threatening to cancel the upcoming summit with President Trump.

[05:59:13] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're effectively saying that unilateral denuclearization is not what the North Koreans want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a temporary setback and their way of protesting against the military exercises.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're exercises that are legal. They're planned well, well in advance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We weren't even at the 50-yard line yet, and the president was practicing his end-zone dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans did not get a chance to ask questions about the concerns over this Chinese firm, ZTE.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make China great again? This company is a very serious problem.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I can't remember whether we discussed that issue or not. I don't think we did.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 16, 6 a.m. here in New York, and here's the starting line.

North Korea threatening to abandon its highly-anticipated summit with President Trump next month. The rogue regime says it will not be put in a corner on nuclear abandonment. The announcement comes after North Korea abruptly called off high-level talks with Seoul in protest of joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.

CNN also learning the White House was caught off-guard by North Korea's sudden about-face. So far, the White House hasn't responded to the latest statement, but earlier, the White House said that officials are coordinating closely with our allies as the summit hangs in the balance. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, sources tell CNN that

President Trump and Republican senators had a positive meeting on Capitol Hill. But it's what they did not discuss that's getting some attention this morning. His GOP colleagues did not challenge the president on a series of controversial topics that they claimed they would, namely the president's plan for helping that Chinese technology company or the nasty comment a White House aide made about Senator John McCain's health.

A Defense Department official says the the Trump administration is exploring ways to hold children who are caught trying to cross the border at military bases. This could be the latest sign that the White House is planning to split up families in its crackdown on immigration.

Our coverage begins with CNN's Ivan Watson. He is live for us in Seoul with all the breaking news there -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

Some here suffering from whiplash when they woke up to really unusually harsh statements coming from North Korea after months of cooperation and conciliatory messaging where North Korea suddenly accused the U.S. and South Korea of deliberate military provocations and told the U.S. it's got to think twice if it wants to maybe have this North Korean summit, leaving analysts to wonder, is this just a bargaining tactic or a real threat that North Korea could pull out of next month's U.S./North Korea summit entirely.

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WATSON (voice-over): North Korea threatening to cancel next month's high-profile summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, stressing in a statement, quote, "If they try to push us into the corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks, and we will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit."

The rhetoric echoing earlier threats from President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go.

WATSON: North Korea's vice foreign minister asserting that they will never follow the path of Libya and Iraq, criticizing President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, by name, seemingly referencing these remarks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a requirement that Kim Jong-un agree to give away those weapons before you give any kind of concession?

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think that's right. I think we're looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004.

WATSON: North Korea's warning comes after they first cast doubt on the summit when they suspended separate high-level talks with South Korea scheduled for today. The North Koreans citing their anger over joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert defending the joint military exercises as the news broke.

HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: They're exercises that are legal, that are planned well, well in advance.

WATSON: Aides tell CNN that the announcement caught the White House off-guard. Press secretary Sarah Sanders releasing a brief statement, noting, "We are aware of the South Korean media reports. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies."

President Trump ignoring questions about the summit after visiting the first lady in the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you meet with Kim Jong-un, sir? Will you still meet with him? Will you go to Singapore?

WATSON: The sudden step backward coming after North Korea released three detained Americans last week. And after months of what appeared to be warming relations on the Korean Peninsula and with the United States.

TRUMP: Kim Jong-un was -- he really has been very open. And I think very honorable from everything we're seeing.

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WATSON: Well, part of what's so puzzling about this sudden U-turn is less than 24 hours ago, North Korea was inviting South Korean journalists to come up to a ceremony it scheduled for next week, where it says it is going to show off how it is dismantling its main nuclear testing site.

And the watchdog group 38 North just published satellite photos dating back to May 7 of what they said looked like dismantling already beginning at this controversial site. So that makes this change in tone and rhetoric all the more surprising.

[06:05:10] The South Korean president's office is trying to downplay North Korea's sudden harsh rhetoric, calling it growing pains in what is a complicated process towards trying to get to a better result here on the Korean Peninsula -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: Ivan, appreciate it. Why don't you stay with us.

Listen, let's bring in CNN political and national security analyst and national security correspondent for "The New York Times," Mr. David Sanger.

David, I'll tell just by your visage, you're not surprised. You're not rattled. You're not puzzled, and you're not startled. This is what you expected at some point in this process, yes? DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's

absolutely right, Chris. I mean, anybody who has followed the history of negotiations with North Korea -- and they really date back to the Clinton administration in 1994 -- has seen every act of this play before. Including this one, which is the preemptive sense that they would walk away from the table.

You know, President Trump once said, in reference to the Iran deal, that he would have gotten up and walked away from the table at several points during the negotiations. Well, the North Koreans do one better. They threaten to get up and walk away before the negotiations even started. And this is why those calls for the Nobel were a little premature. Because we're a long way from getting this conversation going.

I think what was interesting in Ivan's report here, though, is their main objection isn't really the military exercises, which were entirely predictable. It's what John Bolton, the national security adviser, said about following the Libya model. Libya just gave away its -- the material that it put together.

And the North Koreans, when you read into the statement, said look what happened to the Libyans, look what happened to the Iraqis. In both cases, they wrote, the whole of their countries fell to big powers. Well, that's not what they have in mind.

CAMEROTA: So David, one more question to you. If -- if you have seen this movie before, what is the next act? What happens usually now?

SANGER: If I had to bet, they will probably have the summit. I don't think the summit is going to be terribly conclusive. It will be a great photo-op. There will be some agreement on general principles, Alisyn.

But there's a big, long negotiation. And both sides are coming at it from very different positions. You've heard both Mr. Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo say there will be no payoff to the North Koreans until everything is turned over. North Koreans made clear in the statement that's not what they have in mind.

CUOMO: Also, you know, it's great that you pick out the Libya model. There's also another looming message there, right? Ivan Watson, we all know what happened to Gadhafi. So you know, that's something else that's going to loom large in terms of what the exigencies are, of this.

You referred to this -- there was a plan to let journalists come and see what is alleged to be the dismantling of one of the nuclear test sites by the North Koreans. We don't know what's going to happen with that. How big a deal is that type of access?

WATSON: Well, this also isn't the first time we've seen something like that, Chris. This ceremony to dismantle that nuclear testing site. It's almost exactly ten years ago that North Korea invited journalists, invited CNN, U.S. diplomats to witness the very public demolition of a water cooling tower that was part of a uranium enrichment plant, where they kind of generate ammunition for nuclear weapons. And that was filmed. And that was in a period of negotiations.

And within a year after that, negotiations had broken down and North Korea conducted another nuclear test. So it just gives a sense of historical context about how North Korea has engaged in an ebb and flow of talks, and they have gone forwards and backwards in the past. And we may be seeing another iteration of that right now.

CAMEROTA: David, as you saw, the president didn't respond to the questions the journalists were shouting as he was leaving the first lady's hospital room yesterday. So -- but I mean, as you know, the narrative has been that President Trump can be unpredictable.

And for whatever reason, that has somehow, his style has brought Kim Jong-un to the table. And Kim Jong-un can be unpredictable. And thus far it's worked. But what should President Trump's next move be?

SANGER: Well, I think the White House has to go into this, understanding this is a true negotiation. And in true negotiations, they give up something. In this case we're asking them to give up the one thing that they view has kept the country independent and kept the Kims running their dictatorial state. And the United States is going to have to give up something, as well.

[06:10:12] And the most interesting part of the statement, Alisyn, is the reference to there will be no unilateral disarmament. Well, the key word there is "unilateral." That means that they're going to have a set of demands, probably about the American troops on the peninsula or the American habit of running simulated bombing runs using nuclear- capable bombers over the peninsula.

And you know, it's an interesting question. Since the United States can reach any corner of North Korea with a nuclear missile launched from Nebraska, it's going to be interesting to see what kind of disarmament Kim Jong-un has in mind for us. And that is certainly not a discussion, I think, that this White House has entertained seriously that they're going to get into with the North Koreans. And it may be what Kim has in mind.

CUOMO: David, what do you make of these couple points of strategy? One was now that we hear that the president was thinking about pulling people out of South Korea right before the Olympics, which was somehow some kind of suggestion that something could happen. And Bolton being very outspoken about saying, "We're going to follow the Libya model. You give us everything or you get nothing. We will bomb." You know, Obama bombed without even going to Congress about it. And then Gadhafi wound up being taken out.

What do you take of those indications?

SANGER: Well, on the first one, President Trump has over the years said many times he doesn't understand why the U.S. has military forces in a country with whom we have -- with which we have a trade deficit. And he said this during the campaign. It's come back up. I think that he was talked out of it, in part because it's not just the military.

We only have about 28,000 military in -- in South Korea. We have several hundred thousand Americans living there, doing business there, studying there. So I'm not quite sure how you do an evacuation of the city of that -- of that size.

The second issue on -- on Mr. Bolton that's really interesting, because I don't know why the United States believes that the North Koreans on faith would give up everything in return for the promise of economic integration. And it sounds like a great thing to American ears. To the North Koreans it sounds like being a vassal state. And of course, North Korea over the centuries, has been a vassal of various moments, of the Japanese and, in their mythology, the United States, as well.

So I think they're coming to this with very different visions of how this negotiation is going to play out. And this will only be the first of many dramas along the way.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, stay tuned, as the president would say. David Sanger, Ivan Watson, thank you very much.

Now to this big story. The Justice Department and the FBI reportedly investigating Cambridge Analytica. You will remember that's the data firm with ties to the Trump campaign. What do prosecutors want to know? We take that up next.

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CAMEROTA: "The New York Times" is reporting the Justice Department and the FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica. That, of course, was the data firm that was connected to President Trump's campaign. The report says prosecutors are questioning the firm's former employees and the banks that handled its business dealings.

Let's discuss with CNN political analyst John Avlon and associate editor of RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard. John, what took them so long.

I mean, Cambridge Analytica -- you know, listen, just to remind people of what Cambridge Analytica is, because everybody knows the name, but they may not know what it did. That -- Cambridge Analytica offered tools that it claimed could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior in so-called psychographic modeling techniques which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, unknown to the 50 million users, underpinned Cambridge's work for the Trump campaign in 2016.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And actually, you know, there's some occasion they may have reached as many as 87 million Americans.

Look, right now there has been a British national crime agency investigation into Cambridge Analytica, for bribery, for evidence destruction, for hacking computers. Now the Justice Department seems to be running parallel. In the past,

previously, this has not been a Mueller focus. But there's no question they work for the Trump campaign. They misused data. And there's some question about whether they might have been mobbed up in some deeper activity about accessing that data.

CAMEROTA: We don't know if it's Mueller focused. We don't know if it's connected to Mueller.

AVLON: No, we do -- that is actually a fair point. To date Mueller has not been focused on --.

CUOMO: We know it is not Mueller focused. I mean, the hearing that they're going to have about it today, A.B., and where they're looking at it, this is a straight DOJ probe. The reason it's taking time is because they take time.

You have a whistle-blower involved in here. You have a guy -- you have a guy who is doing his own analytics that was supposedly taken and used for the wrong purposes by Cambridge Analytica. So you have layers. And when you have layers, it's going to take time. A good reminder to people about the Mueller probe These investigations take time.

The question is how aggressively do you think they pursue this, given that a lot of the fingers that they're going to be finding are going to be pointing at the White House?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: That's a good question. The independence of the Department of Justice right now, with all the pressure that they're under, from congressional Republicans attacking and trying to discredit the investigation, trying to threaten contempt for the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and also impeachment for Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is always a factor.

Politics has driven the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to actually release more evidence and intelligence from his investigation that FBI experts say normally would be given to the Congress. So there's -- that is always going to be overlaying all of this, unfortunately.

Cambridge Analytica is intertwined with the Trump campaign in a way that is going to, in the end, I believe, be a part of the Mueller probe.

I remember after the famous Nunes memo that was going to change the world two months ago, Trey Gowdy, who is the chairman of Government Reform and Oversight, who has seen more intelligence than Trey Gowdy [SIC], because he is -- he has the authority to, said something very interesting on a Sunday show. They asked, would there be a Mueller probe without this Nunes -- without the -- without the FISA warrant? And he said there absolutely would be.

And he mentioned the Trump Tower meeting, and he -- and for some reason, he mentioned Cambridge Analytica. And it was sort of hanging out there. And everyone sort of wondered why.

If you look at the connection to how Steve Bannon was involved in the campaign, how Jared Kushner sat for a huge magazine profile and bragged about what he was able to do as the king of data in the Trump campaign through Cambridge Analytica, there is no way it is not going to be at least part of, in the end, the Mueller probe.

AVLON: That's right. Bannon's on the board. Kushner's king of data, and the Mercers are the big funders.

CAMEROTA: OK. Next topic. Let's talk about what sounds like the beginnings of a possible plan to, when undocumented immigrants show up at the U.S. border, to separate them from their children. Children would be held possibly in military bases.

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And parents would be processed separate from them. And so here's what Kirstjen Nielsen, director of homeland security, said when she was challenged about is this the example of your philosophy on using this as a deterrent.

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KIRSTJEN NIELSON, DIRECTOR OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It is a law, as you know. And you know, I had an exchange last week with a different senator that tried to cut me off and said, "Well, I know this is your philosophy."

And it's not a philosophy. It's the law. If you enter our country illegally, we will refer you for prosecution. We will prosecute you. But as you know, for every sob story, we have 73 percent border assault increase. We have people like Kate Steinle. I mean, where is the compassion for the flip side of this conversation?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: I think a conversation about compassion is predicated upon defending separating children from their parents and putting children on military bases as fundamentally flawed. Are you trying to be a dystopian Disney character?

I mean, right now there's a capacity for 10,500 children on this military base. Now, if there are 20 kids in a kindergarten class, that's 500 kindergarten classes being policed by soldiers. For a party that allegedly believes that government doesn't do a lot right, having soldiers babysit children separate from their parents probably not the best moment in our history.

CUOMO: All right. So you've got to give it a little broader context. We've been here before. We remember the roundups of the kids down on the border at the end of the Obama administration.

AVLON: Not a good moment then.

CUOMO: They have held kids in military installations before. CAMEROTA: Weren't those unaccompanied minors? Wasn't that different?

They showed up as unaccompanied minors.

CUOMO: That's true.

CAMEROTA: Not separated.

CUOMO: Right. However, they're talking about both right now. When kids show up, what do you do with them? What do you do with families?

Look, you can argue that it's not a compassionate way to do it. You can argue that what Nielsen is saying there is somewhat disingenuous, because you do have a choice whether or not to prosecute it. You can treat it criminally; you can deal with it civilly. It's up to them. So there is discretion there.

But A.B., this is a hard problem to deal with. To your point about compassion, once you decide to prosecute people who are coming across the border, you have to separate the kids from the adults. You can't keep them both in the same place. You don't have the capacity. You're over 90 percent capacity now with the facilities they have.

So what -- what can you do with the families if you're going to prosecute them? How is there any --

CAMEROTA: Why can't you keep the parents also at the military base? Why do you have to --

CUOMO: If you have the capacity, you have capacity. They could argue that, without limited capacity, they could turn everyone away. That the child doesn't have to be separated from their parent. They don't have to come in at all.

And the thing is that, because the Obama administration used the same military pieces in, I believe, three separate states in the child migrant crisis of 2014, the argument goes away. That if it's -- if this is an overcapacity argument, and they literally have nowhere for them. And if the choice is to turn them away or put them on a military base, that argument is -- it goes away. It's a question of the separation of the families.

They want a deterrent. This administration is seeking a deterrent. And a lot of people in this country want a stronger deterrent. They were happy last year when we had 64 percent reduction in border crossings. They would like them to never come here to begin with so that there was a debate about -- about the separation.

There was support in the spring of 2014 for comprehensive immigration reform, some kind of path to legalization, if not citizenship. Over 60 percent in this country. And that plummet down into the 40s after that summer, after the mishandled child migrant crisis that the Obama administration wasn't even entirely truthful about and really mishandled.

And this is more popular than people expect, the fact that maybe they should be turned away altogether. AVLON: But drill down on the question of whether parents and children

should be separated at the border. Attorney General Sessions is arguing specifically that this is intended as a deterrent. Parents don't cross over. We're going to charge you with child, you know, trafficking. That should be a deterrent to not have you here.

[06:25:00] But then you have the additional responsibility of start separating children from their parents. And that's not what America stands for.

CAMEROTA: I also reject the notion that you, if you don't -- if you care about these children, you don't care about Kate Steinle. No. We actually are capable of having compassion for both.

AVLON: Yes. Of course.

CUOMO: But Kate Steinle has always been a gross misappropriation of the tragedy that ended her life. It doesn't meet with the facts of the situation, the facts of what happened to Kate Steinle. It only make sense on one level, which is but for -- but for this guy being in this country when he shouldn't have been, she would have never died.

But the facts of it, he was -- the idea of what he was painted as, there is a monster in our midst. And there are so many just like him. The facts don't line up on it. And it's always been a gross abuse of the situation.

But you still have the same problem. When you prosecute a family for anything, forget about immigration, you separate the adults from the kids.

AVLON: A practical point. But, look, there is still the opportunity, as there was last fall. Many Democrats agreed to increase border security as part of a grand bargain. We've got to find a way to reason ourselves out of this. And it's going to be involving getting tougher at the border in terms of prevention and also more compassionate.

CUOMO: What do you do? If it is illegal to cross the border, which it is if they choose to prosecute it that way --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: -- what do you do with the family?

AVLON: Don't put children on military bases separate from their parents.

CUOMO: Where do you put them?

AVLON: Find a way to keep the families together and then deport them.

CUOMO: -- under the Obama administration. Remember the lawmakers --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm just saying you need a better answer, then. You can criticize what they're doing, but you need a better answer?

CAMEROTA: Why can't you put the parents on the military base with them.

AVLON: I think there are ways to handle them. My point is, keeping children on military bates separate from their parents, babysat by soldiers, is not a good look for the United States. We're better than that. We can do better.

CUOMO: We've done it before because they couldn't come up with a better answer.

AVLON: Sure. Interment camps we did, too, and that was a bad move.

CUOMO: You're right. So the question is who's going to come up with a better solution? That's all I'm saying.

AVLON: Let's do that, America.

CAMEROTA: We have to go.

CUOMO: That's what happens. There's outrage. Moving on. All right. Here's to another real atrocity that has to be dealt with. You have violence that's going on in Gaza. It does appear to be calming down. But you remember, peace here is always short-lived, especially after one of the deadliest days in years. The international community is now asking if the deaths of Palestinian protesters could have been prevented. We are live in Gaza, next.

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