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North Korea Responds to President Trump's Announcement Canceling Planned Summit with North Korean Leader; President Trump's Lawyer Emmet Flood Attending Meetings Between Justice Department and Lawmakers; Harvey Weinstein Turns Himself In On Sex Crimes Charges. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 25, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're following a lot of news, so in the words of Chris Cuomo, let's get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've decided to terminate the planned summit in Singapore on June 12th.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The vice minister saying that we reiterate to the United States we are willing to sit down with them at any time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to make sure that when we have the meeting, it's going to be something that's productive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was an unannounced visit. Emmet Flood was not on the list.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That looks like advocacy. It doesn't look like a neutral investigation of the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see what the problem is with the president having an interest in transparency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein turning himself in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of these women feared the power that Mr. Weinstein had.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is huge news. He could be facing decades of jail time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, May 25th, 8:00 here in the east. Dave Briggs joins me this morning. Too soon for Chris Cuomo impersonations?
BRIGGS: Well, it's as if Beetlejuice shrunk Cuomo's body, so I thought I might drop a Cuomo line. That one should live on. CAMEROTA: Yes, that worked well.
BRIGGS: The guns are gone, but the line lives on.
CAMEROTA: I like that.
Meanwhile, here's all our news. North Korea says it is ready still to meet with President Trump even after the president abruptly called off next month's planned summit with Kim Jong-un. The North's carefully worded response to Mr. Trump steers clear of their usual inflammatory insults. The focus now shifts back to how President Trump will respond today.
BRIGGS: Meantime, the classified briefings between the Justice Department and top lawmakers does not appear to reveal any smoking gun to support the president's unproven claim that an FBI source was planted in his campaign. White House lawyer Emmet Flood attended both briefings and some lawmakers are not happy about that.
Also breaking news this morning, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein turning himself into the NYPD this morning. CNN has learned he will face rape charges. Let's begin, though, our coverage with CNN's Will Ripley who is live in North Korea with our top story. Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave. It's really been a surreal 24 hours on the ground here in North Korea. We spent much of the day yesterday at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. We saw them blow up three tunnels at the site. They say the tunnels are no longer useable but we have no way to verify those claims because even though the explosions were big, we don't know how far into the tunnels they went. We don't know if the buildings that were blown up on site could be easily rebuilt, if other infrastructure is really gone for good as the North Koreans claim.
They say it was a step toward denuclearization that they were making ahead of the summit in Singapore that was planned with President Trump. But when we were on the train ride back, we learned that the summit was cancelled. I got the phone call. It was the first time that the North Koreans had heard that the summit was off. I broke the news to them. They got on the phone we presume straight up to the office of Kim Jong-un himself, and there was a sense of shock on that train coming back.
And then we have a statement from the North Korean foreign ministry showing much more restraint, a more diplomatic response after some of the heated rhetoric out of Pyongyang in days. I'll read you a part of it. It says, quote, "Talking about the historic summit, we highly appreciate the fact that President Trump made a brave decision that no president in the past has made and put efforts to make the summit happen." But when you listen to the letter that President Trump wrote Kim Jong-un, there was a lot of nice language in that as well. There was also a threat saying, quote, "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used." Of course he was responding to a statement put out by North Korea's
foreign ministry where they did threaten nuclear war with the United States. They were angry with Vice President Mike Pence about comments that he made comparing North Korea to Libya, a country that gave up its nuclear weapons only to have its regime overthrown a few years later and its dictator killed by U.S.-backed rebels. The North Koreans said they had to respond with strong words of their own but now they're dialing it back. And that is a sign I'm interpreting on the ground here Alisyn and Dave the North Koreans do want to engage, they want to talk with the United States and try to make this summit happen at some point.
CAMEROTA: Will, great to have you on the ground there. We'll see what develops today in this fast moving story.
Joining us now is CNN senior political commentator and host of "The Axe Files" David Axelrod. He is the former senior adviser to President Obama. Axe, great to see you. What do you make of the past 24 hours with the president sending that letter to Kim Jong-un saying that it was their latest angry, inflammatory letter that shut down this meeting but that he's open to a phone call or a meeting anytime, and then --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But also willing to destroy them with nuclear weapons.
CAMEROTA: There was that caveat as well. And all of that, David, I think is interesting because it got the most conciliatory response I think we've ever heard from the North.
[08:05:00] AXELROD: It did. I think that there was a strategy behind that, Alisyn, and that was to position the United States as the party that withdrew and North Korea as the reasonable party that wanted the talks.
I think we've reached the limits, or we've seen the limits of improvisation. The president made this decision impulsively, didn't consult with his national security team, made it on his own, went out and said he was going to have this summit. And in certain ways I'm relieved that this has happened because these things take enormous preparation. You don't want to go into a summit between two leaders at that level without an understanding of what can be achieved.
And I think if I had been writing the letter the president wrote, I would have said I don't think we're ready, I don't think we have a common understanding of our goals and the possibilities here, so let's take some time and have our people meet and postpone this summit. I'm not sure I would have included the bellicose language that he did. But I don't think that we have reached the end of this potential for diplomacy, and I hope not because the only alternative is unthinkable.
BRIGGS: Well, it wouldn't be morning television without a Trump tweet, David. And the president has weighed in on the North Korea situation this morning just a minute ago. "Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea just like they are coming to the defense of MS-13 thugs saying that they are individuals." We'll just leave it there.
I did just ask Senator Ben Cardin about that notion, about Nancy Pelosi coming out with a soundbite making fun at this very unusual letter from the president. Is that a risk, though, that Democrats appear to be rooting against the president on his negotiations with North Korea?
AXELROD: Look, I don't think anybody should root against him. As I said, it isn't like there's a plan b that's acceptable here, so diplomacy is the only route. I give the president credit primarily for pushing for tougher sanctions that helped create this moment. I think they should have kept down that path, gone through the preliminary preparatory work that would have been normal for this kind of diplomatic exchange. But we should want the president to succeed. We should want some diplomatic solution to this nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. And I don't think whether you're a Democrat or Republican you should have a different view on this.
CAMEROTA: David, we're just getting another tweet and this is about the meeting yesterday.
BRIGGS: This is what we do. This is so exciting.
BRIGGS: It's executive time. He's watching a lot of TV, has a lot of reaction.
CAMEROTA: I think he saw your interview. Honestly that one was --
BRIGGS: He responded a minute after we talked.
CAMEROTA: But the reason that we're reading these is because they are right on message or on subject with the big news today, OK. So yesterday, as you know, there was this meeting between the DOJ, the FBI, the gang of eight, and then the president's lawyer, the White House lawyer, Emmet Flood unexpectedly showed up. So the president says, you want me to read this one, "Can anyone even imagine having spies placed in a competing campaign by the people in party and absolute power for the soul purpose of political advantage and gain? And to think that the party in question even with the expenditure of far more money lost." I don't know that the president got the memo --
BRIGGS: "LOST," all caps. "Spies" capitalized.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but I guess my point is that no one who was in that classified briefing, what they have said when they came out. Adam Schiff went so far as to say we heard nothing about spies. And Mitch McConnell on the Republican side said there was nothing new to hear. So nobody is confirming the president's theory.
AXELROD: No, no. Listen, spy-gate is actually lie-gate. The president is trying to promote this fiction in order to create -- in order to inoculate himself against what might come from Bob Mueller. Very, very clear that he wants to color this investigation as partisan, that he wants to color what the FBI did, what the Department of Justice has done, the probe itself as a partisan exercise so if the outcome is unfavorable to him, he can say, you see, I said all along this was a witch hunt.
And it's been pretty effective with his base because you hear people mimicking his theme. So I don't think he particularly cares about the reality of this, the truth, the substance. What he wants to do is continue to propagate this myth, even if it has really damaging impact on the institutions that he was elected to lead.
BRIGGS: True or false, the damage is done to the intel community and the FBI and the narrative is out there. But this is called Flood-gate right now on Twitter because Emmet Flood, the White House attorney, was at both of these briefings, something George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley said was a blunder of the first order. Was it appropriate for Emmet Flood to be there at both briefings and set the tone?
[08:10:05] AXELROD: Look, I think it was a bullying tactic to send a message to the FBI director, to Rod Rosenstein, that he wanted them to give Congress what they wanted, that he was watching, that he had the power to do that, that this was his Justice Department, he has the right to send anybody he wants. There was no reason for Emmet Flood to be there. Rudy Giuliani, who has these sort of spasmodic blurts of truth, said he did it because the president has the power -- absolute right to send anybody he wants. He has a right to know what's going on.
He doesn't. He may under law run the Justice Department and all the executive agencies, but the Justice Department is different and this is a probe about him. And sending his lawyer there was a malign message to the FBI director, to the Justice Department, that he's watching.
CAMEROTA: David, you asked former deputy attorney general Sally Yates about some of this and about some of these claims from the president. This is in "The Axe Files," the latest edition. We have a little preview, so let's watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AXELROD: How do you react to that, the implication that spies were sent in at the direction of the Obama administration?
SALLY YATES, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, well, you're right. It's under investigation now and I think I have to leave it to this Department of Justice and FBI to make decisions about what information they're going to publicly release, so I can't really comment on that specific situation.
AXELROD: Not the specifics, but what about the general sense that this was a politically inspired investigation?
YATES: Again, I'm not going to speak to this specific one, but I will say this. Look, I was with DOJ for 27 years, and I can tell you that the men and women of the Department of Justice take their responsibility very seriously. Investigations there are done based on the facts and the law and not based on politics. And I'm confident that that will be the result of this investigation as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: David, really interesting, but she's so circumspect. Why doesn't she just say, no, that's an outright lie?
AXELROD: Well, she did express some outrage about all of this. And her concern, Alisyn, was really interesting because it was not just that the Justice Department and the investigation was being impugned but that the FBI was being damaged and it would have an impact on future investigations if half the country believes that the FBI is a corrupt organization, as the president had suggested, that it would encourage people not to cooperate with the FBI in the future.
She is very, very upset and now vigilant about this issue of the institutions of the law and the rule of law, and she feels that the president has been infringing on them. She was circumspect in part because I think she has some sympathy for Rod Rosenstein who has the job that she had who she says is trying to walk a line. And I think what she means is prevent a confrontation that would cause him to have to leave that job in the middle of this probe.
Understood. OK, David, thank you very much for previewing all of that with us.
AXELROD: OK, guys.
CAMEROTA: Great to see you, have a great weekend. You can check out David's full interview with former acting attorney general Sally Yates on "The Axe Files," that's tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. only on CNN.
BRIGGS: So coming up, after President Trump pulled the plug on next month's summit with Kim Jong-un, what is the likelihood of a summit happening at all? We get some insights, next.
[08:17:54] BRIGGS: North Korea still expressing a willingness to meet with President Trump after he abruptly cancelled next month's summit. Got President Trump's Twitter attention just moments ago. Quote, very good news, received the warm and productive statement from North Korea. We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time will tell.
Let's discuss this with Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, editor at large at "TIME", and author of "Us Versus Them: The Failure of Globalism."
Good morning to you, Ian. Good to have you here on this important morning.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Sure.
BRIGGS: Let's start with, though, the United States calling off the summit in Singapore.
BRIGGS: Good move? Did they have any choice really in the matter?
BREMMER: No, they certainly had a choice, but on balance it was the more risk-averse move. It looked like the North Koreans themselves were moving towards either cancelling or making it unproductive. It was very clear that Kim Jong-un didn't like the idea of giving Trump all the credit for the stuff in the way the South Korean president was willing to give to Trump repeatedly. Trump didn't like that.
Also very clear that the idea of unilateral denuclearization was never really on the table for North Korea. We should have understand that in the United States, but ultimately, Trump made it sound as if his expectations were pretty high.
CAMEROTA: It doesn't sound like the North was on the verge of cancelling. The letter that they gave back, this highly conciliatory letter to President Trump. Here, let me read a portion of it, talking about the historic summit, we highly appreciated the fact that President Trump made a brave decision that no president in the past has made and put efforts to make the summit happen. I mean, it sounds like from the letter, but of course you can parse this for us, they are still willing to meet.
If President Trump called today and said it's back on, wouldn't it be back on?
BREMMER: Well, Trump was the one that cancelled.
BREMMER: And I think you had Axe on, a bit before Axe arrived, he was saying, yes, this is -- they don't want to be -- they wanted to say, hey, it's not our fault.
I mean, the more important player here is not the United States. It's China. China is responsible for 90 percent for North Korea's trade and they don't want to upset the Chinese.
I mean, look, the big news that's been made over the past several months is all still being made. Before any of this happened, Kim Jong-un had never met with any foreign leader. Now, OK, he's not going to meet with Trump.
[08:20:04] He met with President Moon and it was an extremely warm meeting, and they're going to have another summit. He met with Xi Jinping twice. That's a very big deal.
So, the fact that we're all excited in the United States that our president doesn't get to meet with Kim Jong-un because he's not going to give up his nuclear weapons, the fact is that the countries that matter the most to North Korea have actually done a lot more with --
CAMEROTA: And is that progress, the fact that those countries are talking to North Korea, or is the fact that the U.S. is being like triangulated out a problem? BREMMER: It is progress if what we're concerned about is the
potential of war on the Korean peninsula. Irrespective of Trump's talk about maybe I want to have a talk or is he going to go back especially with Bolton and the NSC right now towards preemptive military threats, the reality is we're much farther from strikes today than we were before any of this happened. Why?
Because the South Koreans have actually developed a much more workable relationship with North Korea. The United States isn't about to attack North Korea if our ally isn't completely on board. They don't even want to work with us as much on joint military operations right now.
So, the United States is a bit cut out, that's true. And now, we're saying maybe we can work with them again, give it some time, but it's very clear that what Trump really accomplished by pushing the Chinese and pushing the North Koreans hard, made both sides realize, hey, we need to be talking with each other. Like this, this isn't working.
BRIGGS: It's almost as if the United States is in the driver's seat and China is in the student driver's seat where you can hit the brake any time you want and throw off the driver any time you want.
But let's talk about the impact of all this and that's deals around the world with our allies, whether it be TPP, whether it'd be the Paris climate deal, whether it'd be the Iran nuclear deal or even domestically on DACA or Obamacare. Where has this unpredictable foreign policy led us as a country?
BRIMMER: Well, in bilateral relations with a bunch of countries, the United States is a lot stronger. On South Korea and Brazil, you've gotten trade deals that are somewhat improved from what we have before because the Americans have said we're going to hit you really hard unless you bend to our will. On NAFTA, that will probably happen too.
But when you look at a country like China, their willingness to bend to the United States is actually lower. They're a lot stronger as a country. North Korea, they're a rogue state, they turn to the Chinese. More important, South Korea same thing.
So, in multilateral framework, the United States has actually lost a lot of influence. The big question here is not about North Korea. Not about whether we end up with a meeting or not.
The big question is, is the absence of coordination with the Chinese going to lead the United States and Trump to start taking a tougher tack on trade relations with China? He's wanted to work with the Chinese despite all of his tough rhetoric in part because of China's help on North Korea. If he feels that's no longer viable, that's not been as valid, he's criticized the Chinese the past couple of weeks saying, you've been not as tough on sanctions. After meeting with Xi Jinping, he doesn't work with me as much anymore, Kim Jong-un.
That's the most important relationship in the world, U.S./China, and that's really what's in play right now.
CAMEROTA: And so, what is necessary for the U.S. to do to make sure that that is preserved?
BREMMER: Well, there are a lot of people around Trump that want to ensure that the U.S. and China don't get into a trade war because it's going to hit red states, going to hit the American economy, it's going to hit the price of our imports, all of that.
But, ultimately, Trump has shown a willingness to go and hit even if there's a potential to hurt the American economy if he thinks he's otherwise being disrespected, if people aren't treating him like he should be as the president of the United States.
Let's see what -- I'm much more interested on Trump's next tweet on China than I am on Trump's next tweet on North Korea at this point.
BRIGGS: I better get on it. Let's make sure there's no China tweet before you leave the set. No, not yet.
Ian Bremmer, the book is "Us Versus Them: The Failure of Globalism" -- great to have you.
BREMMER: My pleasure.
CAMEROTA: All right. A moment of vindication for the Me Too movement. Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to face sex crime charged this morning. We will speak to one of his accusers about how she feels today. That's next.
[08:27:42] BRIGGS: All right. Some breaking news at 8:27 Eastern Time.
Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein turning himself into the NYPD on sex charges, including rape. It's a pivotal moment for the Me Too movement.
CNN's Brynn Gingras is live outside the police precinct in New York -- Brynn.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, pivotal is right. This is something that women have been waiting for for years it seems.
Now, we know at this point, Harvey Weinstein has been arrested. He's inside that precinct house currently. We know he's getting his fingerprints taken and his booking photo as well.
Soon, we're expecting him to leave the precinct house and head over to the courthouse where he'll be facing charges of rape and criminal sex acts. And he's expected to receive a $2 million bond.
Now, with that criminal sex act, we know that the victim in that particular complaint is Lucia Evans. She is the one who came forward to police saying she was forced to perform oral sex on Harvey Weinstein back in 2004. It's unclear who has filed the rape charges. That has been kept under lock and key.
Now, this is just the beginning. We know that these are the first criminal charges to be filed against Mr. Weinstein, but we do expect more to come. We know a grand jury has been convened, continues to listen to testimony.
We also know there are probes federally, also in Los Angeles, also in London. So again, this is just the first day of what could be a very long process for Weinstein. I would like to mention he has denied all these claims from the very beginning and we expect his attorney to make another statement after today's court proceedings -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Brynn, thank you very much for the latest from the streets of Manhattan there.
Let's bring in CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin and one of the first women to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, she is journalist Lauren Sivan. She says that in 2007, Weinstein cornered her in a restaurant and tried to kiss her. She says when she rebuffed his advances, Weinstein blocked her from leaving while he exposed himself and masturbated.
Lauren, I have said those words a dozen times and it is still so shocking and gross to have to repeat it and you're just one of the dozens of women who came forward about your experience with Harvey Weinstein.
What is it like for you today to watch him perp-walked through the streets of Manhattan?
LAUREN SIVAN, HOST, "ABUSE OF POWER": It's a great day. It's a great day for all of his victims who have waited a very, very long time to see this man face justice. This has been going on for decades.