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Trump Meets with South Korean President to Talk North Korean Summit; Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Rod Rosenstein and Director Wray yesterday?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it was just a very routine meeting. As you know, the Congress would like to see documents opened up. A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country. That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen. That would be very illegal aside from everything else.

It would make probably every political event ever look like small potatoes. So we want to make sure that there weren't. I hope there weren't frankly. But some man got paid -- based on what I read in the newspapers and on what you reported, some person got paid a lot of money. That is not a normal situation. The kind of money you're talking about. So hopefully that would be -- and I think the Department of Justice wants to get down to it and I can tell you Congress does.

So hopefully they will all be able to get together. General Kelly is going to be setting up a meeting between Congress and the various representatives. And they will be able to open up documents, take a look and find out what happened. But if they had spies in my campaign, during my campaign for political purposes, that would be unprecedented in the history of our country. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you give us an update on trade talks with China? Is there a deal about ZTE? And what does --

TRUMP: No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And what specifically have you agreed on?

TRUMP: No. President Xi and I have a great relationship, as President Moon can attest. But there is no deal. We will see what happens. We are discussing deals. We're discussing various deals. We can do a 301. We can do -- where we don't need China, where we can just say, look, this is what we want, this is what we think is fair. That's always a possibility if a negotiated deal doesn't work out.

As I said, we lost $500 billion a year for many years. And then it varied from $100 billion to $500 billion. When you're losing $500 billion a year, you can't lose in terms of a negotiation. It's really easy to win. But I want this to be a great deal for the United States, and I want it to be a very good deal for China, too, if that's possible. It may not be possible.

As far as ZTE is concerned, the president asked me to look into it and I am doing that. And don't forget, for the ones who say, oh, gee, maybe Trump is getting a little bit easy, ZTE, we closed it. It wasn't another administration. It was this administration that closed it. It's a phone company, for those that don't know. A very large phone company. But it's also a phone company that buys a large portion of its parts that make up these phones that are sold all over the world from American companies.

So when you do that, you're really hurting American companies also. So I'm looking at it. But we were the ones that closed it. It wasn't done by previous administrations. It was done by us. So we'll see what happens. But as a favor to the president, I am absolutely taking a look at it. A lot of the stories on trade were incorrectly written, and I'm not saying that's the reporter's fault. I'm saying that I'm not talking about the trade deal.

I don't like to talk about deals until they're done. So we'll see what happens. But that deal -- I will say, that deal could be much different from the deal that finally emerges. And it may be a much better deal for the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein?

TRUMP: What's your next question, please?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'm a reporter from --

TRUMP: No, excuse me, I have the president of South Korea here, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. I have a question about --

TRUMP: He doesn't want to hear these questions, if you don't mind.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump, I'm a reporter from South Korea. How much confidence and trust do you have in my president in playing the mediator role in resolving this North Korea issue and the denuclearization process?

TRUMP: I have great confidence in your president. I think that he's brought a different perspective to the talks with North Korea. He wants to be able to make a deal. Now you've had some very hard-line administrations, and you have President Moon, and you've had others before President Moon who also had more or less this attitude.

I think he's a very capable person. I think he's an extremely competent man. I think he's a very good person. And I think he wants to have what's good for the Korean Peninsula, not just North or South, for the entire Korean Peninsula. So I have tremendous confidence in President Moon. And I think that his way -- the way he is -- really is helping us to potentially make a deal.

Whether the deal gets made or not, who knows. It's a deal. Who knows. You never know about deals. If you go into deals that are 100 percent certain, it doesn't happen. If you go into deals that have no chance, and it happens, and sometimes happens easily. I've made a lot of deals. I know deals, I think, better than anybody knows deals. You never really know. And that's why I say to you.

[13:05:03] But I will tell you, this is a good man and he is a very capable man. And I think South Korea is very lucky to have him.

Do you want to interpret that for him so he can hear? Because, you know, he's not hearing what we're doing here. Go ahead. Wait, we'll just let that be interpreted.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TRUMP: Did I do a good job?

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I can't do better than that. That's called an A-plus rating, right? I can't do better --

OK. We'll take a couple more. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what are your conditions for meeting with Kim Jong-un? You said you had --

TRUMP: I'd rather not say. But we are working on something. And, you know, there's a chance that it will work out. There's a chance; there's a very substantial chance it won't work out. I don't want to waste a lot of time, and I'm sure he doesn't want to waste a lot of time. So there's a very substantial chance that it won't work out, and that's OK. That doesn't mean it won't work out over a period of time. But it may not work out for June 12th. But there's a good chance that we'll have the meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, if I could ask you and President Moon this question. In terms of denuclearization, should it be an all-in-one or could it be incremental with incentives along the way for Kim Jong-un to denuclearize?

TRUMP: Well, all-in-one would be nice, I can tell you. I'm not going to go beyond that. It would certainly be better if it were all-in- one. Does it have to be? I don't think I want to totally commit myself. But all-in-one would be a lot better.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TRUMP: Or at least for physical reasons, over a very short period of time. You know, you do have some physical reasons that it may not be able to do exactly that. So for physical reasons, over a very short period of time. Essentially, that would be all-in-one.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump, I'm a reporter from South Korea. If North Korea and Kim Jong-un decide CVID, will you literally guarantee the safety of the regime of North Korea? TRUMP: I will guarantee his safety. Yes, we will guarantee his

safety. And we've talked about that from the beginning. He will be safe. He will be happy. His country will be rich. His country will be hardworking and very prosperous. They're very great people. They're hardworking, great people.

Look at what happened with South Korea. Don't forget, we helped South Korea. We have spent trillions of dollars, not billions. Trillions of dollars over many, many years. We helped South Korea. And South Korea is one of the most incredible countries in terms of what they do. You know that. That's what you are. That's where you're from. Same people. Same people.

So, yes, I think that he will be extremely happy if something works out. And if it doesn't work out honestly, he can't be happy. But he has a chance to do something that maybe has never been done before. And I think it would be -- if you look 25 years into the future, 50 years into the future, he will be able to look back and be very proud of what he did for North Korea and, actually for the world. But he will be very proud of what he did for North Korea. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what do you want to ask President Moon about his own summit with --

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

[13:11:09] TRUMP: And just to finish that, because it's a very important question, South Korea, China, and Japan -- and I've spoken to all three, one I happen to have right here -- they will be willing to help and I believe invest very, very large sums of money into helping to make North Korea great.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you want to hear from President Moon about his own summit with Kim Jong-un? What can he tell you as you're preparing for the meeting in Singapore?

TRUMP: Well, that's what we're here for. He's going to tell me. He's got his own meetings that he's had. We're going to discuss that. He may have a meeting coming up, he may not. The word is that he may not. It may be directly with us. It may go directly to us in Singapore, or it may be at a later date. But that's one of the reasons that he's here, to talk about that. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there anything you want to ask him specifically that you can tell us?

TRUMP: Nothing. No. We speak a lot on the phone. This should not be that long a meeting, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mean President Moon may have a meeting with Kim Jong-un instead of yourself?

TRUMP: He may or may not. He may or may not. Right now he doesn't know whether or not he has a meeting. But he may or may not have a meeting with Kim Jong-un.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TRUMP: OK?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, are you pleased with how the trade talks with China went?

TRUMP: No, not really. I think that they're a start, but we need something -- look, China has been -- I really call it a dereliction of duties. That if you look at it -- it's called -- in the military, they'd say it's dereliction of duty. What happened to our country, that our representatives allowed other countries, and I'm not just talking about China. China is the big one. To take advantage of us on trade the way we've been taken advantage of.

So China, as an example, has made a fortune. I mean, a transfer of wealth like nobody has ever seen in history. They're the big one. They're almost all bad, but China is the big one. So, no, I'm not satisfied, but we'll see what happens. We have a long way to go. But I wanted to go fairly quickly.

You know, you're talking about numbers like that; you're talking about billions of dollars a week. OK? So when they say, oh, let's meet in a couple of weeks, oh, that's $2 billion, right? I view it that way. You know, we're talking about billions of dollars a week that we suffer, we lose. And so we're looking to go quickly.

I will say I'm a little disappointed because when Kim Jong-un had the meeting with President Xi in China, the second meeting, the first meeting we knew about, the second meeting, I think there was a little change in attitude from Kim Jong-un. So I don't like that. I don't like that. I don't like it from the standpoint of China.

Now I hope that's not true because we have -- I have a great relationship with President Xi. He's a friend of mine. He likes me. I like him. We have -- I mean, that was two of the great days of my life being in China. It was -- I don't think anybody has ever been treated better in China, ever in their history.

[13:15:05] And I just think it was -- many of you were there. It was an incredible thing to witness and see. And we built a very good relationship. We speak a lot. But there was a difference when Kim Jong-un left China the second time. And I think they were dedicating an aircraft carrier that the United States paid for. OK? Because we paid for a lot that was built in China.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think China maybe discouraged Kim from having the summit?

TRUMP: No, but I think that President Xi is a world-class poker player. And I'd probably, maybe doing the same thing that he would do. But I will say this. There was a somewhat different attitude after that meeting, and I'm a little surprised. Now maybe nothing happened. I'm not blaming anybody, but I'm just saying, maybe nothing happened and maybe it did. But there was different attitude by the North Korean folks when -- after that meeting.

So I don't think it was a great meeting. Nobody knew about the meeting, and all of a sudden it was reported that he was in China a second time. The first time everybody knew about. The second time it was like a surprise. And I think things changed after that meeting. So I can't say that I'm happy about it. OK?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what's --

TRUMP: Let her finish.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TRUMP: Now President Moon may have a different opinion. I'd like to have your opinion on that, what you thought of the second meeting with President Xi. What is your feeling? You may have an opinion.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

TRUMP: And I don't want to get him in trouble. He lives right next to China. You know, he's not too far away.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

PRES. MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): Well, first of all, I am very much aware that there are many skeptical views within the United States about whether the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit will truly be successful and whether the complete denuclearization of North Korea will be realized.

But I don't think there will be positive developments in history if we just assume that because it all failed in the past, it will fail again.

There have been many agreements between the United States and North Korea previously, but this will be the first time that there will be an agreement between the leaders.

And moreover, the person who is in charge is President Trump.

And President Trump has been able to achieve this dramatic and positive change that you see right now.

[13:20:41] And I have every confidence that President Trump will be able to achieve a historic feat of making the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit successful and end the Korean War that had been lasting for the past 65 years, and also, along the way, achieve complete denuclearization of North Korea, establish a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and also normalize relations between the United States and North Korea.

I have every confidence that he will be able to make a historic turnaround in this sense. And I will spare no effort to provide all necessary support. And I believe that all of this will lead to a great thing, that it

will also guarantee the security of the North Korean regime, and also promise peace and prosperity for North Korea as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you believe that President Xi is committed to peace and committed to North Korea's denuclearization?

TRUMP: I would like to think so. I hope so. I mean, we're dealing mostly on trade. But you see, when I'm dealing on trade, I have many other things in mind also. Every time I talk to China about trade, I'm thinking about the border because that border is a very important element in what we're doing. It has been cut off largely, but it's been opened up a little bit lately. I don't like that. I don't like that.

So we have a very powerful hand on trade. And when I'm thinking about trade -- you know, I read you folks, and you say, well, why doesn't he -- there's a much bigger picture that I have in mind. Trade has always been a very important element in my life, in talking about other countries ripping off the United States. I've been watching them do it for 35 years. I've been watching them do that for so many years.

And nothing has changed, other than over the last 15, 20 years it's gotten worse. And it's not just China. But when I think of trade with China, I'm also thinking about what they're doing to help us with peace with North Korea. That's a very important element. So we'll see how it all works out. But in the end, it will work out. Can't tell you exactly how or why, but it always does. It's going to work out. OK?

Thank you all. John, you have one more? Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: One more, sir. I'm just wondering, what is your vision for the long game with North Korea? Is it two Koreas peacefully coexisting? Or would you like to see reunification at some point down the road?

TRUMP: Well, I think what's going to happen is you'll start off, certainly, with two Koreas. And then it's going to be largely up to them as to whether or not they get together. You know, that border was artificially imposed many, many years ago, and imposed to a certain extent and to a very large extent by us. It's an artificial border, but it's a border that nevertheless, it took seed, and that's what you have.

I would say that we are looking, certainly right now at two Koreas. Two very successful Koreas. You're going to have a very, very successful North Korea, and you're going to have a very successful -- and you already do -- South Korea. I mean, South Korea was in condition that was as bad as North Korea many years ago, when they started this great experiment that worked out so well for them.

Now you look at Samsung and LG, and the ships that they're building, and what they're doing. It's incredible. When I was over there, I flew over plants that are incredible. What they have done is incredible. So I see two Koreas, and then ultimately, maybe someday in the future -- it wouldn't be now, but someday in the future, maybe they'll get together and you'll go back to one Korea. And that would be OK with me, too, as long as they both wanted that.

OK? Thank you all very much. Thank you. Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned that you were looking into ZTE as a favor to President Xi.

TRUMP: I am, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you anticipate that ending up?

TRUMP: Well, again, ZTE buys a tremendous amount of equipment and parts for their telephones. They're, as you know, the fourth largest in the world. And they buy them from American companies. So immediately, when I looked at it, it was my administration that closed them down.

[13:25:02] But when I looked at it, I said, you know, they can pay a big price without necessarily damaging all of these American companies, which they are because, you know, you're talking about tremendous amounts of money and jobs to American companies. So I envision a very large fine. I envision perhaps new management, new board of directors, very tight security rules. But we caught them doing bad things. We caught them, not anybody else. We caught them doing bad things, and we essentially made it so difficult that it was shut down.

By shutting them down, we're hurting a lot of American companies, really good American companies. Don't -- and I will tell you, don't think that we didn't hear from them by shutting down this massive phone company. So what I envision is a very large fine of more than a billion dollars. Could be a billion-three. I envision a new management, a new board, and very, very strict security rules. And I also envision that they will have to buy a big percentage of their parts and equipment from American companies.

OK? Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go. Let's go, we're leaving. Let's go.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ma'am, let's go.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Reporters still shouting some questions, but the president wrapping up a lengthy exchange there with the visiting South Korean president, President Moon, answering a whole bunch of questions from reporters for nearly a half an hour given the translation from English into Korean and vice versa.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Extensive news on a potential summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. The president raising some doubts whether the June 12th summit in

Singapore will actually take place. Also raising some serious questions about the North Korean attitude suggesting perhaps Kim Jong- un's attitude toward the president of the United States changed after his most recent -- after Kim's most recent meeting with President Xi of China. At the same time the president reaching out to the North Koreans saying the United States will guarantee the survival of Kim Jong-un if in fact the denuclearization program involving North Korea goes forward.

Lots to discuss. And we've got an excellent panel to assess what is going on.

Samantha Vinograd, our national security analyst. What was your immediate reaction to the prospects of this scheduled summit June 12th, the president saying it may go on, may not go on, raising some doubts about whether it will go on?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there is definitely some public distance between President Moon of South Korea and President Trump during this briefing. President Moon seemed to treat the summit as a foregone conclusion. He used words like the upcoming summit. Whereas President Trump did obfuscate on whether this meeting would actually happen which contradicts his National Security adviser John Bolton, his Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who said last week that the summit was going ahead as scheduled.

Now, Wolf, I do think that this is smart. I think that the president should try to get North Korea to meet specific pre-conditions before he shows up in Singapore, but I also think it's important to have a coordinated line among at least his administration whether it will happen.

BLITZER: You heard, Max Boot, you heard the president say there was a change in attitude on the part of the North Koreans, Kim Jong-un, following that most recent meeting that Kim Jong-un had with President Xi of China. There was a difference when Kim Jong-un left China the second time. So if it doesn't happen, he seems to be blaming at least in part China.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's right. I mean, it's interesting that he is now seeming to attach pre-conditions to the meeting which he of course did not do when he accepted the North Korean offer to meet with them about 45 minutes from the time it was conveyed to him to when he said OK. He has now a big sit-down. Now he is wondering about what's going to happen because, you know, he raised expectations so high over the course of the last two weeks talking as if denuclearization already a done deal, saying that many people want him to win the Nobel Peace Prize and all of a sudden the events of last week kind of poured cold water on those high hopes, with newly belligerent rhetoric from North Korea, threats to pull out. He's blaming China.

And it may be rightly so. But I mean, this is very much in keeping with North Korea's historic attitude which you have to be incredibly naive and really know nothing about North Korea to imagine that after having spent decades and billions of dollars developing nuclear weapons they're just going to hand them over at the negotiating table, meeting with President Trump, and not expect something pretty substantial in return.

BLITZER: We're going to go to our White House reporter Jeremy Diamond in a moment, but Rich Lowry, I want to get your quick reaction to what the president said, I will guarantee his safety, referring to Kim Jong-un. He will be safe. He will be happy, his country will be rich, his country will be prosperous, we will help just like we helped South Korea with trillions of U.S. dollars. These are the same people they will be extremely happy if this deal is worked out.

RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we should offer anything if they really going to immediately denuclearize.