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Interview with Rep. Adam Kinzinger; North Korea Threatens To Cancel Trump-Kim Summit; ZTE In Focus As U.S.-China Trade Talks Begin; New York Magazine Takes A Closer Look At Trump And Hannity's Relationship; Laurel Versus Yanny: What Do You Hear? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 16, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:30:33] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea threatening to abandon the June 12th summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump. Regime leaders saying if Washington insists on pushing North Korea into a corner on nuclear disarmament -- if that happens they will walk away.

Let's talk about this and much more with Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Always good to see you, Congressman.


CUOMO: I'm doing well, thank God.

So, are you shaking in your boots? Is all lost now that North Korea is saying we won't be put in a corner. We walk away first.

KINZINGER: No, I think they're probably doing a little bluster right now trying to show his domestic population that he's still in control and -- you know --

But it also is -- it's concerning to this perspective. This is the old pattern of North Korea where they, on the one hand, come out smiling with some unicorns that they give to South Korea and then the next day it's like OK, we're going to -- we're going to fight back and do all this kind of stuff.

So, I'm not overly -- I'm not losing sleep over this issue but it does -- the only reason it concerns me is it just shows that North Korea is back to their old pattern of kind of give and take, and angry and happy, and that's always concerning because of what they've done in the past.

CUOMO: You know, Jane Harman was just on. I don't know if you were listening to her.

KINZINGER: She's great.

CUOMO: Yes --

KINZINGER: I wasn't, but I like her.

CUOMO: She was in Congress in California for a long time. She's at the Wilson Center now. She's got a lot of expertise in this area.

She does have concerns that the chance of getting the best deal the U.S. could get in North Korea is receding not because of what North Korea is saying right now but in terms of the approach of how many allies, how many people are involved, how many different points of pressure.

Do you share those concerns?

KINZINGER: Well, I'd have to hear more -- kind of, her thesis on why and unfortunately, I didn't get to see her prior.

But no, I think we're on the track -- I think the reality is this. We're at a moment -- and I hate to be so stark but it's true. We're at a moment where we're either going to get a really good deal -- a verifiable non-nuclearized North Korea for infinity or I think it makes war more likely, which is why I actually think a deal is going to happen because I think both sides realize it and neither side want it.

So there's a lot of leverage being put on right now. There's a lot of points of pressure.

And I think Kim Jong Un -- I've got to imagine -- I don't know this from any sourcing so please understand that, but I've got to imagine that that first time Kim Jong Un got summoned over to China there were some harsh words about hey, it's time that this is over, let's move on -- and maybe that's why we're in this new phase.

CUOMO: So help us understand a little bit what the eventuality is.

And again, as stark as it is and I know that you're not saying you want it. I mean, you know, you're one of the representatives who put your life on the line for the freedoms of the rest of us. You know the sacrifice better than anyone.

But, you know, that reminds me of what Bolton was saying -- a Libya model is what --


CUOMO: -- we're looking at here. Very provocative. North Korea --


CUOMO: -- by all indications, didn't like it because what does a Libya model mean? Give us what we're asking for first before you get anything, or big bombs are coming your way and you will no longer exist, Kim Jong Un.

KINZINGER: Yes. CUOMO: Is that the right message?

KINZINGER: Well, I look at the Libya model as don't mistreat your people or eventually they're going to stab you in the back of a pick- up truck, unceremoniously.

And so I think as some people try to put together the issue of nuclear weapons and American involvement against them, the reality is I think even if -- even if Gaddafi had developed nuclear weapons his people would have still risen up against him.

Could the West have intervened? Maybe, maybe not, but I think that's the reality of it.

With North Korea -- look, the reality is this. There's going to be some carrots given to North Korea and I think in the form of there will be economic assistance or in the form we, in essence, have a security guarantee like we did with Cuba. Something along that line.

Look, we're not interested in invading North Korea and maybe China holds that security -- that security blanket. But I think a long- term, non-nuclearized North Korea is essential.

And my concern is if this doesn't happen we're at that Churchill kind of moment where we're looking forward and saying do we want a country where anybody can get -- a world where anybody can get nukes, and do we need to stand strong now?

CUOMO: Well, look, it's tough though, right --


CUOMO: -- because if you're going to do that in North Korea -- yes, they have more munitions but then you have Iran.

Pakistan, which already has nukes -- the United States is hedging back on aid to Pakistan because it's not dealing with terror groups well, but that only creates more financial pressure on them to do something with their nukes and maybe ship one to somebody else, like Saudi Arabia.

So this gets very complex, so we need friends.


CUOMO: China is a friend with quotes around it when it comes to this.

[07:35:02] Do you believe that the need for Chinese involvement that is sympathetic to the American initiatives here is the reason why we're seeing this otherwise surprising softening from the president on Chinese telecom ZTE?

KINZINGER: Yes, I certainly hope not. I think -- you know, there's -- we need to have a relationship with China, obviously, on the long- term. We need to have a relationship with China when it comes to North Korea. But we also have to understand China's an adversary and I think long- term, they're actually our biggest adversary -- and whether that's economic or military.

The concern with ZTE telecom is not some -- it's not really economic mismanagement as all these other Chinese companies have done. It's actually an espionage issue and we'd have to be in a different format to get into some more detail.

So I was actually pretty concerned and a little blown away when the president made a statement about and I hope that there's more clarification to come because we have got to stand up against this Chinese espionage.

CUOMO: Two provocative things to unpack.

One, you can't be a little blown away. He says that he did this because too many jobs were lost.

What happened to "America First"? What happened to bringing those jobs back here and punishing China for violating our intellectual property and other activities that you call espionage? What happened to that?

KINZINGER: Well look, I think there's no doubt the president's done a lot for "America First" and American jobs. Just look at the economy.

I don't understand that statement, though, and there's a lot appreciated that he's done on foreign policy which I think has been really good. I think there needs to be some clarification on exactly why this is happening.

And I don't think it's a quid pro quo with China and North Korea, but I do think there is some issue there that we need to unpack.

And, you know, maybe that's just the president wants to have a great relationship with the president of China, which is good. We need that. But I think we also have to stand up against our I.P. theft and espionage and, of course, those kinds of issues.

CUOMO: So we'll see why this was done. We're still waiting for an explanation, as well.

You said something else. I'm out of time. You have to come back because people will be surprised to hear that China, in your view, could be the biggest not just economic but military adversary for the United States --


CUOMO: -- going into the future.

KINZINGER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You need to unpack that for us. We'll make another date. Thank you very much -- KINZINGER: Any time.

CUOMO: -- Congressman -- Alisyn.

KINZINGER: You bet. See you.


In a new piece in "New York Magazine", it describes the last voice the president hears most nights. Spoiler alert -- it's the man on the right side of your screen. So what is Sean Hannity telling President Trump? That's coming up.


[07:41:40] CUOMO: It is time for "CNN Money Now." "The Washington Post" obtaining a long list of demands from the Chinese government that are very ambitious, ahead of high-stakes trade talks. But the president may have given in on one already before the negotiations even start.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center. What did he do? What did he do?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": You know, this is round two now, Chris, for U.S.-China trade negotiations and China, as you said, has this really long list of demands that some say are unreasonable.

But the president may have caved in on one of them, ZTE. This was an enforcement action on a Chinese company that broke U.S. sanctions and then lied about it.

The Trump administration playing tough with China and then reversing, leaving many to question the U.S. strategy here. In exchange for saving ZTE, the hope is China doesn't target U.S. ag products -- that's the trade-off.

Senator Marco Rubio called it terrible dealmaking.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: In addition to posing a significant espionage threat against the United States, it's part of an overall industry in China that steals intellectual property. And so somehow, now, removing sanctions on them in exchange for removing tariffs on farmers that didn't do anything wrong, it doesn't sound like a good deal to me.


ROMANS: ZTE is just one part of these very tricky trade talks.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says there's one thing working in this president's favor.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: I think there's a little bit of a bromance between President Trump and President-for-life Xi. Where this leads, I don't know. It might even lead to a trade deal, which would make me very happy.


ROMANS: He added there -- bromances, Alisyn, are always good.

CAMEROTA: Are they? I mean, have we tested that premise?

ROMANS: Well, Macron -- Emmanuel Macron has a bromance with the president and still, the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

CAMEROTA: There you go. They're fun to watch, bromances. I agree with that.

Christine, thank you very much for all of that.

Now, to a follow-up on a story that we brought you yesterday. In my conversation with Linda Vester, who's the former correspondent at "NBC NEWS," she claimed that Tom Brokaw assaulted her in the 1990s. Brokaw has vigorously denied this accusation.

Brokaw issued a statement which reads, "I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC. The meetings were brief, cordial, and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other."

After Linda Vester's CNN interview, Brokaw also emphatically denied any assault of any kind in either meeting with Vester.

Vester also told us that she was speaking out now because she wants to have the conversation about what happened.

An NBCUniversal spokesperson told us that "NBCUniversal has reached out to Ms. Vester via her attorney to discuss her allegations and so far she has not accepted our offer."

Well, Vester's attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, told us, "I have made it very clear and advised counsel for NBC that my client is more than willing to be interviewed as part of an independent investigation. Her offer to take part in an outside investigation remains open but at this point, NBC has not taken my client up on that offer."

Vester has questioned the integrity of NBCUniversal's recent Matt Lauer investigation because she says it was handled internally.

An NBCUniversal spokesperson says that "NBCUniversal's investigation was thorough, objective, and conducted at the corporate level, outside the news division.

Kim Harris, the company's general counsel, led this process with a team of legal and H.R. professionals who are independent of the news.

[07:45:08] In addition, we consulted with two prominent outside law firms, Proskauer Rose and David Polk, both of whom validated the investigation's methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommended next steps."

So, obviously, this story continues. As you can imagine, there's all sorts of things that happen with sexual harassment cases and allegations that continue -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

"New York Magazine" diving into the relationship between President Trump and one of his T.V. favorites, Sean Hannity. How often they talk, what they talk about -- all of it, next.


CAMEROTA: A profile in "New York Magazine" brings us inside one of the president's most talked about relationships -- his friendship with Sean Hannity. The article claims the president and Hannity like to talk before bedtime.

Olivia Nuzzi broke this story and she joins us now. Olivia, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: That's a funny and provocative headline, obviously, that they like to talk before bedtime. But in the article, you dive into what is being said and you give us some more color.

So here's what the article says.

"The call to the White House comes after 10:00 most weeknights when Hannity is over.

[07:50:00] Hannity calls the White House switchboard. The operator then dials the president, who leaves the Oval Office around 7:00 p.m. and who, by this point in the evening, is almost always by himself on the third floor of the executive residence.

The first lady reportedly sleeps in a separate bedroom."

OK, there are a lot of questions raised by even just that paragraph so let's start at the beginning, Olivia.

What do these two talk about most nights?

NUZZI: It seems as though they talk about everything. My reporting indicates that they speak in a very friendly way, almost as though the president is not really the president. Almost as though he is still just a T.V. personality.

And it -- one source put it to me -- one source who knows both Sean Hannity and Donald Trump explained that it was a way for the president to decompress.

And this was kind of a recurring theme throughout my reporting that the president kind of lacking a normal social environment in the White House and not having, according to my sources and according to other reporting, his wife around to decompress with. That this is a way for the president to kind of feel normal and unwind at the end of the day.

CAMEROTA: Can we talk about that last part that you just talked about -- his wife not being around? In your report, you say that -- you had a source that said President Trump doesn't live with his wife.

What does that mean?

NUZZI: Well, what my source meant -- or my interpretation of what they meant is that they are not spending a great deal of time together as a normal couple might.

And there has certainly been other reporting. I think "The Washington Post" had a story last week about this. About the fact that the president begins his day alone. Melania Trump has a different area of the residence that she hangs out in and that she sleeps in.

And so, the president kind of is looking for other outlets -- other ways to feel like a normal person.

CAMEROTA: And the reason that they don't have that normal relationship and don't, according to your reporting, spend time together at night -- anything on that?

NUZZI: Well, this is an article about Sean Hannity, not about Melania Trump, so I didn't really explore that question too deeply, though I hope to in the future.

But I think the most interesting thing to me is that this is an unprecedented situation. There have been previous presidents in the past who have had relationships with members of the media -- who have been friends with members of the media or enjoyed kind of cozy relationships with them and talked to them with some frequency.

But I think having a president whose real best friend seems to be a member of the right-wing media and he talks to him more than some people talk to members of their family -- I think that's pretty remarkable --

CAMEROTA: I do, too.

NUZZI: -- and something that we haven't seen.

CAMEROTA: And what is their bond? What did you learn about why they connect on this level?

NUZZI: You know, a childhood friend of Sean Hannity's, John Gomez -- they grew up together on Long Island -- he told me that really, the president and Sean Hannity, in his view, are like competitors in some weird way.

The president is still obsessed with television. He's still obsessed with T.V. ratings.

And my reporting indicated that they talked so much about T.V. ratings. They talked about whose shows they liked, whose shows were bad. Who was doing well, who was not doing well.

And they like to just sort of gossip about the people that they both know in the media industry.

And I think in a lot of ways it was -- it's sort of way for the president to just feel like his version of normal, which might not be my version or normal or your version of normal. But for him, this is somebody who for the last stretch of his life before his political career began in 2015, was a T.V. star in America.

CAMEROTA: We should mention that CNN has reached out to Fox News for their comment on this piece but we have received no response.

NUZZI: Right.

CAMEROTA: One of the things in terms of his viewing habits, it's often been reported that he's a devotee of "FOX & FRIENDS" -- their morning show. You have some reporting that it was not always the case but he was sort of steered in that direction.

NUZZI: Right. Well, anyone with a Twitter account or watching CNN or reading the news knew that he was watching a lot of morning television, especially in the early part of the administration. He was watching a lot of CNN, he was watching other networks as well. He was watching MSNBC.

And he would often kind of live-tweet his viewing in the morning and start these news cycles based off of the things that agitated him on the shows, be it what the shows were covering or the personalities themselves.

And then that started to change. We still get the early-morning tweetstorms but it doesn't seem that he is reacting to other networks the way that he reacts to the programming on "FOX & FRIENDS," at least for the last stretch of the administration.

And my reporting indicates, based on two sources -- one current White House official and one former White House official -- that early in the administration when this was identified as a problem that was not going to go away in the White House -- it was a problem on the campaign -- that Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus made an effort -- a planned effort to steer him away from CNN and MSNBC and steer him to Fox News in the morning with the hopes that it would kind of calm him down and that it would lead to being thrown off course far less than he was throwing things off course in a communications way in the early part of the administration.

[07:55:12] Because sometimes, by his intelligence briefing which is sometimes as late as 11:00 a.m., the entire day is kind of thrown into disarray based on what he was tweeting based on the morning shows.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I'm not sure it had the intended outcome of calming --

NUZZI: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- him down by steering him in that direction.

NUZZI: Right.

CAMEROTA: So, here's the president himself talking about Sean Hannity and how when the president was trying to make the point that he was always against the Iraq War, which there -- people were having a hard time finding evidence of --

NUZZI: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- he was -- basically, Sean Hannity came to his defense.

So listen to this moment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I then spoke to Sean Hannity -- which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox, and Sean Hannity said -- and he called me the other day and I spoke to him about it. He said you were totally against war because he was for the war.


CAMEROTA: So people didn't know if that was actually a reliable narrator, given their relationship.

There's also a question of whether or not the president produces Sean Hannity's show. Do you have any sense of how involved he is in the programming level?

NUZZI: Well, I -- based on my reporting, I know that they do speak about the show sometimes. The president obviously, very publicly tweets about the show sometimes before it's on.

He tells people when it's going to be on and where they can watch it, and to tune in. And it does seems as though Fox and the White House are in communication quite a bit.

But one of the White House officials who I spoke to for this story -- someone currently there -- was sort of complaining about the fact that they don't always know what's going to be on Fox News and they have to react to it as the president reacts to it publicly.

But it's not -- I mean, if you watch Sean Hannity's program it's pretty much the same most nights these days. It's a lot of complaining about the so-called deep state and Robert Mueller's investigation. It doesn't sound very different from the way that the president sounds in his own tweets or rare statements not to Fox News on the subject.

But, you know, when it comes to the Iraq War and Sean Hannity being the person who reporters were supposed to call to get a confirmation on what the president was claiming, absent any evidence to that claim, it's a pretty ridiculous statement. I think people took it as a ridiculous statement at the time.

I mean, these are not two men who are known for being reliable sources.

CAMEROTA: Olivia Nuzzi, it's a fascinating read. It's --

NUZZI: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Again, Donald Trump and Sean Hannity like to talk before bedtime. Thank you.

NUZZI: Who among us --

CAMEROTA: Who doesn't, exactly.

Thank you very much.

NUZZI: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. We've got a good one for this morning.

It is the earworm version of the 2015 viral sensation, the dress. Do you remember that? What colors do you see?

We're going to play something for you and you tell us whether you hear "Laurel" or "Yanny."


Laurel or Yanny, Laurel or Yanny, Laurel or Yanny, Laurel or Yanny.


CUOMO: All right, quick, go to the jib with Chris Lucchese (sp). What do people hear? Jimmy, what'd you hear?

JIMMY: I heard both.

CAMEROTA: What? You can't hear both.

CUOMO: I mean, look, get off the fence.

Bruce, what did you hear?

BRUCE: Yanny.

CUOMO: Yanny for Bruce. Anybody else?



CUOMO: All right. What did you hear? CAMEROTA: OK. Well, right now, I heard Laurel but when I was driving in this morning and Dave and Christine were doing it, I heard Yanny so clearly.

CUOMO: It's a sign of a weak mind.


CUOMO: I heard Laurel every time out -- Laurel.

CAMEROTA: But you heard Yanny because I --

CUOMO: Listen.


Laurel or Yanny, Laurel or Yanny.


CAMEROTA: Now I hear Laurel.

CUOMO: I think it's like a joke. Like a trick.

CAMEROTA: No, I know. It's just like the dress.

CUOMO: But I felt like this about the dress. Put the dress back up.

CAMEROTA: Yes, hold on. I want to see the dress again because that one was so obvious. OK, what do you see?

CUOMO: All right, now I see like a periwinkle blue --


CUOMO: -- and like a gold.

CAMEROTA: Oh, OK. I see a white and gold. But you don't see a black anywhere?

CUOMO: I don't. I see like gold and I see like a blue.

And again, this is another one where I don't get -- I've never fully understood why you hear Yanny and I hear Laurel, why you see white. That at least made more sense to me, like cones in my eyes.

Maybe I'm a little color blind, which is why I want to wear -- which is why I want to wear this.

But on this one, I don't get it with my ear.

CAMEROTA: I don't either. How can we all hear something so different? Now, I can only hear Laurel but I heard Yanny so clearly. My own ears are playing tricks on me.

CUOMO: I heard Laurel every time. It's kind of like when we say fact, the president hears fake.


Although -- is it kind of like that --

CAMEROTA: A little bit.

CUOMO: -- or is it actually nothing like that at all?

CAMEROTA: It's a lot like that.

CUOMO: This we don't understand -- the Yanny-Laurel.

CAMEROTA: We need your Twitter feed to tell us what --

CUOMO: All right, let's see. What are people saying --

CAMEROTA: -- the answer is.

CUOMO: -- other than we hate you? No, what are they saying?

CAMEROTA: They never say that.

CUOMO: I hear Yanny.


CUOMO: It's split.

CAMEROTA: All right.

CUOMO: And you know what? That didn't even just happen. There was not some fantasized man who just walked past you right now.

All right, we're following a lot of news.