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North Korea Threatens to Abandon High Profile Summit with President Trump; President Trump's Tweets on Chinese Tech Company Examined; Interview with Republican Senator John Kennedy. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2018 - 8:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I hear Yanny. It's split.


CUOMO: And you know what, that didn't even just happen. It was not some fantasized man that walked past you right now.

We're following a lot of news. What do you say, my friends, let's get after it.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're effectively saying that unilateral denuclearization is not what the North Koreans want.

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

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't remember whether we discuss that had issue or not. I don't think we did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a huge missed opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She loved being a police officer. She loved her job. She may have been lost that night, but she saved a lot of lives in turn.


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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 16th, 8:00 in the east now. North Korea is threatening to abandon the high profile summit with President Trump next month. The rogue regime says it won't be put in a corner on nuclear abandonment, meaning it won't give everything up before it gets anything back. This announcement comes after North Korea abruptly called off high level talks with Seoul in protest of joint military drills conducted by the south and the U.S.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And CNN learning the White House was caught off guard by North Korea's sudden about-face but earlier said officials are coordinating closely with our allies as this summit now appears to hang in the balance. So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Ivan Watson. He's live in Seoul with the latest. What is the latest, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. A bit of whiplash here on the Korean peninsula. There were talks planned between North and South Korea and they were abruptly canceled shortly after midnight local time with a written message with North Korea objecting to annual joint military exercises underway between the U.S. and South Korea. And then in a subsequent statement North Korea blasted the U.S. and ordered it to think twice about a possible summit, taking aim he White House national security adviser John Bolton, calling him repugnant for comparing denuclearization in North Korea to nuclear disarmament in Libya.

Take a look at this excerpt, quote, "If they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider the upcoming summit," and that's citing a top diplomat in the North Korean foreign ministry. It is a sharp U-turn and change in rhetoric from the North Koreans who have been exchanging pop music groups back and forth across the demilitarized zone, welcomed Mike Pompeo in personal one-on-one meetings with Kim Jong-un twice in the last couple of months, and of course we're planning a summit next month face-to- face between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

Even more confusing, just yesterday, the North Koreans were inviting South Korean journalists to come and attend a ceremony next week to show the dismantlement of a nuclear testing facility. And it has put a whole into some of the euphoria we felt here in South Korea where you had reports of construction companies and banks getting excited about doing business on the north side of the demilitarized zone.

CUOMO: All right, Ivan, appreciate it. Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston and Gordon Chang, "Daily Beast" columnist and author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes on the World." The press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on TV this morning talking about this. Here's what she said.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, as the president has said time and time again, we're ready to meet, and if it happens, that's great. And if it doesn't, we'll see what happens. We're still hopeful that the meeting will take place and will continue down that path, but at the same time, we know that these -- we've been prepared that these could be tough negotiations. The president is ready if the meeting take place, and if it doesn't will continue the maximum pressure campaign that's been ongoing.


CUOMO: All right, so let's talk about the realities, and we'll get into the politics as well. Gordon, if they don't want to have this meeting maximum pressure continues. But you are not surprised by this brinkmanship that's being played by North Korea, somewhat a return volley of what Trump said some time ago, that if the talks aren't what he wants he'll walk away.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN, NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Sure. And I was a little bit surprised by it occurring this time because it doesn't make sense from North Korea's point of view. They had created this euphoria in the South, this love of the North, and they turn around and I think they're going to lose a lot of support.

[08:05:10] As the White House spokesperson said, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the United States is just going to continue maximum pressure. And I believe that it should be not only maximum pressure on North Korea but also on its major power sponsors, Russia, but more particularly China, because China I think is actually told Kim Jong- un, look, we're going to help you. And we have seen sanctions busting on the part of the Chinese in the last two months and this is having consequences. It's giving Kim Jong-un the confidence to defy the international community. This can't go unnoticed.

CAMEROTA: Mark, to that end, that's why so many people, including many Republicans in Congress, have expressed confusion about where the president is. It doesn't seem that it's maximum pressure campaign. His tweet about ZTE, which was the big Chinese tech firm that has been accused of everything from sanctions busting to espionage and the idea that he was going to try to save their jobs and save the company, that doesn't square with maximum pressure.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No question about that. I think we have to take a step back and look at this whole picture and look at the statement that came out of North Korea last night and look at some things that we've heard from the administration just in the past few days.

Right now clearly North Korea's trying to use some kind of bargaining chip, and perhaps it's a bad play on their part, but if you go back to what John Bolton said just a few days ago here on CNN where he said don't come to us for economic aid. There's going to be no economic aid in regards to these talks right now. For a country like North Korea that really does need a financial boost right now, I'm wondering if this is a play from the administration's part, from North Korea, that is, from Kim Jong-un, to try to get some more concessions out before the talks even begin.

But to your point, Alisyn, when we look at what's coming out of the administration, everything is mixed signals. Everything is unpredictable. The unpredictability probably has got us here, but the unpredictability of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump could end this very quickly. CUOMO: Part of the problem is, Gordon, we're not really given great

explanations by this administration to the extent it has any for why it's doing what it's doing. So we're a little bit in the dark. But if we look at what is done and then work backwards from there, the idea of maximum pressure on China, as Alisyn alluded, we're seeing the opposite. So let's think about why. Could it be that the president sees being nice to China even in a way that violates the American first motto of bringing jobs back here is a way of using a carrot approach to get them to be more sympathetic to what we want in a North Korea policy plan that they may not endorse at this point?

CHANG: I agree that that is the assessment of the way the president thinks about China. That's the way American policymakers have thought about China going back, of course, to Nixon's trip to Beijing in 1972. The only problem is that, especially in recent years under Xi Jinping, the current Chinese ruler, these are -- every time we try to be nice the Chinese see that as a show of weakness.

And with regard to ZTE, the Chinese had really pressured President Trump on that embattled telecom equipment maker and they made it very clear in public that it was a condition for these trade talks that we'll see later this week that the U.S. relieve the export ban on sales of software and equipment to ZTE. What happened on Sunday? The president very publicly said, yes, OK, I'm going to help ZTE. And I think what the Chinese did that was oh, my gosh, we were able to push President Trump around. Kim Jong-un then immediately jumped on, this is piling on the president of the United States. You make bad policy in one area you create a debacle in another, and that's what we're witnessing at this particular moment.

CAMEROTA: Gordon, one step further, then why he is saying this about ZTE? This is such a questionable and dubious company that so many people in Congress think, why would he offer that carrot?

CHANG: The only thing I can think, Alisyn, is that he's getting advice from the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and perhaps Larry Kudlow who are telling him you need to have a deal with the Chinese, calm the markets, go into the midterms, everything will be OK. And I can understand short-term concessions, but what the Chinese are doing to undermine the U.S. economy is a long-term fundamental challenge.

And we have an innovation economy. If we allow the Chinese to take our innovation we don't have an economy, and that's the issues here. I don't think Steve Mnuchin understands that. I think maybe the president does, but the president's not listening to people other than Mnuchin at this particular time.

CUOMO: Mark, doesn't this not make sense? There's something that smells weird about this situation. Kudlow saying they have a bromance going. They don't have a bromance going. He knows that.

[08:10:02] The idea of now we've heard Gordon and we've heard another analyst say they're playing Trump, that they know they can push Trump around now. If we know anything about Donald Trump, is that he will do almost anything to avoid that perception, so why would he do something that he knows is going to be perceived as him getting pushed around and backing off of a signature promise?

PRESTON: I wonder, going back to what Gordon said, I wonder if Kudlow coming in has really helped prop up the idea of this working with China as opposed to directly going after them, criticizing them and attacking them. We haven't heard a lot out of Peter Navarro who is a very outspoken person against China that Trump listens to, no question about that. But I just want to go back to the unpredictability of this. The fact is if Trump does feel like he's getting pushed around, Chris, we all know how he takes things personally and the narcissism that really pulsates through him. That's what I'm concerned about, that if he does perceive something has happened, if he has put himself in a bad situation, then North Korea could be a problem, China could continue to be an even greater problem, and God knows beyond.

CAMEROTA: OK, Mark Preston, Gordon Chang, thank you both very much for the insights.

CUOMO: All right, so next week CNN's going to host a live town hall with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. There's so much on the table and at stake for the Democrats, it just begs this whole list of questions about where their heads are on the major issues -- North Korea, Iran, the nuclear deal, the fate of the dreamers, what's happening in Israel, what they'll do for jobs, what their pitch is to you for the midterms. So who better to ask the questions than you. I'll moderate there in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern, but the questions will come from you. And in my experience, they're always the best.

CAMEROTA: Can't wait to see that.

Meanwhile, in about two hours from now the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We have a member of that committee who will join us live with what he wants to hear, next.


[08:15:41] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: "The New York Times" is reporting that the Justice Department and FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica. You'll remember that's the data firm connected to President Trump's campaign. This as the Senate Judiciary Committee gets ready to question former Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistle-blower Christopher Wiley about the firm's use of Facebook data and other things.

Joining us now is Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana. He sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Good morning, Senator.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Hey, Alisyn, you getting any work out of Cuomo?

CAMEROTA: Not much, not much. He's a lame duck.

KENNEDY: I understand. CAMEROTA: OK. So we will -- we'll get to that in a moment, Senator.

But first what is your burning question that you have for Christopher Wiley the whistle-blower today?

KENNEDY: I want to know how it worked from the inside. The FBI and the justice will get to the bottom of any legal violations. I mean, allegedly Cambridge Analytica obtained the data about all of us, unlawfully from Facebook, but I don't think Cambridge Analytica did anything that the other social media platforms, like Facebook don't mean to pick on them, like Facebook do every day.

I mean, the goal of all these platforms and Websites is to sell us something, candidates, products, ideas, votes and the larger issue here to me --

CAMEROTA: I mean, just to stop you right there, but isn't Cambridge Analytica different than all the rest because they were involved in targeting voters and trying to figure out how to perhaps --

KENNEDY: Oh, you can do that on Facebook too. You can do that on Facebook too. Look, Facebook -- I don't mean just to pick on Facebook, when I say Facebook, I mean all the social media platforms, Facebook reaches and has data on 2.1 billion people. That's 27 percent of the world's population. They have the ability to influence what we believe, who we vote for, what we buy, how we vote.


KENNEDY: And that's OK as long as these companies, these digital media companies tell people what they're doing with their data and let people decide.

CAMEROTA: Transparency would have been helpful for sure, but I mean -- do you think now that the FBI and the Department of Justice are investigating Cambridge Analytica, what do you think they're going to find out?

KENNEDY: Based on what I know so far and I hope I learn more from talking with Mr. Wiley today, that the alleged crime or unlawful act that Cambridge Analytica committed was obtaining the data in an unlawful manner, but -- and I'm not trying to minimize what Cambridge Analytica did, but I want you to understand -- I think you do Alisyn, I don't mean to imply you don't, there are many companies out there whose job is to sell to voters a particular candidate or a product or a belief.

I mean, Russia tried to do it in the 2016 election.


KENNEDY: And this has been going on since the dawn of Facebook and these other social media platforms. It happened in the Bush/Kerry campaign. President Obama raised it to an art form. I'm not criticizing.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean -- KENNEDY: They were -- they did an -- they had an extraordinary media

campaign through the Internet.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I hear you. I think that people think that Cambridge Analytica is in a different category which is why the FBI is investigating.

But I want to move on right now to something else --


CAMEROTA: -- that I know has raised your -- has peeked your curiosity.

The president's tweet about the Chinese tech firm ZTE, can I just read it for everybody just to remind everybody of what the president said? This was this weekend, President Xi of China and I are working to give massive Chinese phone company ZTE a way to get back into business fast, too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done.

You say that you were startled by that. Why?

KENNEDY: Well, it was a change of the president's position. Look, I wouldn't buy a ZTE cell phone.

CAMEROTA: Why not?

KENNEDY: I wouldn't buy one from Huawei either. I mean, I'm not saying they're not well-made.

[08:20:01] I don't know.

CAMEROTA: But why wouldn't you buy one?

KENNEDY: Because the technology is owned by -- and apparatus is owned by the Chinese government.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, in fact, I mean --

KENNEDY: I want to use an American cell phone. And even then I'm not completely trusting with the government's not listening.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but just to be clear, this isn't just China owns it. They have been cited for espionage. They have been -- I mean, Congress was looking in to this. They've been sanctions busting with Iran and North Korea.

Why favor -- why do a favor for ZTE?

KENNEDY: I think this is a apart of a chess game. You hadn't heard the president say this, he's implied it, I think he's trying to negotiate a larger trade deal with China and this is part of it.

I think we really hurt ZTE and ZTE, whether the -- there's technically state owned or not, the communist party in China controls everything, I think this really hurt them and my guess is Xi Jinping has asked for a little relief and the president's doing negotiating trying to get us a bigger trade deal.

CAMEROTA: And are you OK risking national security for a better trade deal?

KENNEDY: Well, I think it'll happen quickly. I don't know that national security at the moment is being jeopardized. There are a lot of ZTE telephones out there. I want to see the final deal.

My guess is and it's just a guess that if we don't get a decent deal with President Xi Jinping, then the president will do about-face on ZTE. I think it's a bargaining chip. I don't care what kind of deal the president makes, I'm not going to use ZTE or a Huawei cell phone or any cell phone made by our friends in China.

I couldn't see this as part of anything other than a larger negotiation.

CAMEROTA: So, do you see it all -- do you have any concern that there's any quid pro quo with ZTE? That it will somehow enrich business that the President Trump has done in China or in Indonesia?

KENNEDY: I hope there's a quid pro quo with the Chinese government in terms of them stop giving -- stop stealing our intellectual property. They are beating our brains out in terms of trade. I'm not saying to get in a trade war. The only win a trade war is don't fight it.

CAMEROTA: Sure, but not with the Trump Organization, you don't think this is connect today somehow enriching the Trump Organization?

KENNEDY: No, I don't. I have no reason to think that and, frankly, I don't think anybody else does.

I mean, here's the problem. You know, when China was an emerging economy, you expect an emerging company to have higher tariffs. But China is no longer an emerging economy. China has arrived.


KENNEDY: And its tariffs are three times higher than our tariffs and on top of it, they steal our intellectual property. Now, we got to stop that.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Senator, last, can you help us settle a debate we've been having hear in the studio. Can I play an audio clip for you and you tell me what you hear, OK?


CAMEROTA: Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laurel, laurel, laurel, laurel.


CAMEROATA: What name do you hear, Senator?

KENNEDY: I hear laurel.

CAMEROTA: You hear laurel.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Handsome and intelligent.

CAMEROTA: You agree with Chris who hears laurel.

CAMEROTA: Can you believe --

KENNEDY: Can I reconsider?

CAMEROTA: No, I also hear laurel now. I hear laurel also.

But can you believe that half the population hears yanny?


CAMEROTA: I know! It's like --



KENNEDY: That is creepy.

CUOMO: It's like when I say something's a fact and you say it's fake, maybe it's just a hearing issue we have.

KENNEDY: There you go. There you go. It's pretty cool. I can't believe I agree with Cuomo.

CAMEROTA: I know. I know.

CUOMO: It's just proof there's always a chance for positive change, Senator.

KENNEDY: There you go, there you go.

CUOMO: We always have hope.

CAMEROTA: Senator, thank you for playing along. Great to get your perspective on all of this.

CUOMO: Good to see you, Senator. Be well, see you next time.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

CUOMO: I mean, if he agrees with me, you know, there's got to be something to it.

I think that looking at your responses, by the way, it's about 50/50 there's a poll on my site you can go to and click on my Twitter feed. I think it's about the register that your brain processes sound.

CAMEROTA: It must be. There's no other explanation.

CUOMO: If anybody's got a better, what do we know? We didn't stay at the holiday inn last night.


CUOMO: Whatever you think the explanation is, come at me on Twitter.

So, this investor from Qatar is now confirming he was at Trump Tower meetings in 2016. Why was he there? Was there a legitimate or a nefarious purpose? A member from the House Intel Committee wants to make a case to you as to why he thinks it is relevant to the investigation. We'll test it, next.


[08:28:39] CUOMO: All right. So, here's the development. A Qatari investor now confirms he attended meetings at Trump Tower in December of 2016, after the attorney for Stormy Daniels Michael Avenatti alleged his presence in a series of tweets.

The question now is, what was he doing there?

Joining us, Representative Mike Quigley, Democratic congressman of Illinois, a member of the House Intel Committee.

What do you make of it, sir?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE: You know, it's not a surprise since the Republican shut down the House Select Committee on Intelligence investigation revelations along these lines are happening on a weekly basis.

I think it indicates to me that a lot of people lied to us in their testimony, it's further evidence that the transcript should be released so the American public can make that choice and help them understand what's taken place. I also think it calls into question the testimony of a lot of other folks who should be brought back, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Nix, Erik Prince, who very similar to this story and, you know, didn't tell us that Mr. Nader was there with his meeting with the Seychelles where a Russian financial firm just happened to be there.

CUOMO: All right. I want to talk to you more --

QUIGLEY: So, further reason to move forward.

CUOMO: I want to talk to you more about the facts, but just one step sideways to process for a second.

I don't understand why you think that the House Select Intelligence should be put back together. Every indication was you couldn't work together, I was getting railroaded from the top, it was all partisan, even discussions about putting a physical wall between the two sides in the work room.

You couldn't get it done. You couldn't separate the politics from what was the purpose of the investigation.