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Pompeo and Chol Meet in New York; Trump Demands Apology; Obama Shook By Trump's Victory. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired May 31, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:51] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In just hours, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with North Korea's former spy chief here in New York after dining with him last night. Kim Yong Chol is the most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. in nearly 20 years. The two men are trying to revive the on again, off again summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
CNN's Michelle Kosinski joins us now with more.
Michelle, what have you learned about all this?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi.
Well, Kim Yong Chol is Kim Jong-un's right-hand guy. And this is the first time he's ever been in the United States. So we see these pictures coming out of this dinner last night with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The State Department released these photos showing them smiling and talking and having a good time.
In one of the pictures, Pompeo seems to be showing him the New York skyline, as if to say, this could all be yours. We're showing you a path forward. And that's what the State Department is saying. There are a couple of purposes here. First of all, they wanted to get things back on track and even see if a President Trump/Kim Jong-un summit can happen. Are they at least on the same page for that?
Secondly, they want to show North Korea that they have a better future if they denuclearize. That if they keep nuclear weapons, they're actually less secure than if they don't.
And, lastly, last night the State Department confirmed what we've been reporting from a source, that the U.S. wants to see some big gesture from the North Koreans at this summit with President Trump if it does happen. They said, we want to see something historic. We want to see something that has never been done before. They want the North Koreans to show that they are serious about denuclearization, that that means the same thing that the U.S. wants it to mean, and that North Korea will have to do something and make some step towards that that they've never done before.
And, keep in mind, guys, as this is happening, the Russian foreign minister, Lavrov, is meeting with Kim Jong-un. And this morning he's saying things like, well, there has to be sanctions relief for this to happen. It's not really clear what kind of monkey wrench he might be throwing into this, but it's not exactly on the same page as the U.S.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, an invitation to Moscow.
KOSINSKI: As you --
BERMAN: An invitation to Moscow, among other things, from Russia.
All right, Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
KOSINSKI: Thanks, John.
President Trump refusing to condemn Roseanne Barr's racist and anti- Semitic tweets. Instead, he's insisting he deserves an apology. What is he talking about? That's next.
[06:37:14] BERMAN: So at last we know how President Trump feels about Roseanne's racist comments about Valerie Jarrett. He has broken his silence, not condemning it. Instead, he's asking for an apology for him. He wants an apology.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst April Ryan, and "Washington Post" national reporter Wesley Lowery.
You know, Wes, you -- and, April, you were both on here yesterday. We were wondering if the president would weigh in, say anything about Roseanne. No, he said it's all about him. He wants an apology from some reason from ABC. And this is how Sarah Sanders justified it at the White House yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jamele Hill calling the president and anyone associated with him a white supremacist, to Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on "The View" after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head? And where was the apology from Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive- laced tweets attacking the president as a Nazi and even expanding Olbermann's role after that attack against the president's family?
This is the double standard that the president is speaking about. No one is defending her comments. They're inappropriate. But that's what the point that he was making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: YOU know, April, Sarah reading off talking points there almost as if those grievances dictated to her by someone.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.
BERMAN: For instance, perhaps the president.
CAMEROTA: Well, sure. I think we can assume that they were. I mean those are the things that it sounds like have affected him the most.
BERMAN: What do you make of that, April?
RYAN: Yes. Well, I don't know -- I don't know if it affected him the most. But what I do know is immediately after Roseanne Barr, after we found out that Roseanne Barr got the boot for her reboot, we were hearing these talking points. And they were bringing up names. That was that day. And then the White House -- so this is definitely a Republican talking point.
But what's interesting is, is at the end of the briefing yesterday, a reporter screamed out, will the president apologize for Pocahontas -- the Pocahontas statement? We are a lot of things the president has done. So, you know, we've got to be careful about pointing fingers.
Yes, there may be some issues. But the president also has some. But to the White House's credit, Sarah Huckabee Sanders did say that it was inappropriate and no one is defending it. And she kind of buried the lead after going through the talking points.
So there are issues on the table. But at the moment, it is about Roseanne Barr. And this president of the United States making a profound statement himself, not making it about him, but making it about all America. And he's trying to -- it looks like he's trying to shift the dynamic and trying to tone down his rhetoric. But is it a little too late?
CAMEROTA: But, Wes, I mean let's just dive into a little bit more about what Sarah Sanders said because obviously the easiest thing in the world, OK, would have been for her to come out or the president to come out and say, this is disgusting. Roseanne Barr doesn't represent any of us. These are disgusting conspiracy theories. This is disgusting racism. They didn't -- they chose not to do that.
[06:40:12] However, let's just take the flipside for a moment. Doesn't the president have a point that ABC has allowed Keith Olbermann to say -- I mean let's just use him as an example -- the president is a Nazi, he's a white supremacist, he's worse than bin Laden, a terrorist. He's used all sorts of incredibly vulgar tweets. Here's one we can't even show it to you, we have to block out two of them. He's sent hateful messages to President Trump's family.
I mean why is that OK?
WES LOWERY, NATIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I do think -- just setting aside Keith Olbermann for a second -- I mean I do think that the president is suggesting something here that's an apples and orange comparison. The -- Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America. Valerie Jarrett is a former public servant. These are two vastly different people. When you're the president -- when you're the most powerful person in the world, you do come under a different level of scrutiny and criticism, some of it mean and unfair, that other people do not.
CAMEROTA: Agreed, but hateful rhetoric is hateful rhetoric, right, on both sides? Isn't that what he's talking about?
LOWERY: Sure. Well, but calling someone a white supremacist is not hateful rhetoric. It might actually be an apt political descriptor that --
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, we can debate that, but, obviously, that's a horrible (INAUDIBLE) character (ph).
LOWERY: It's a descriptor, right, if you believe in policies that are -- that are discriminatory and that advance white people over other people, you are a white supremacist, right? And you can argue whether or not it is a fitting description. But compare that to calling someone a terrorist and spawn of a monkey is something very different.
CAMEROTA: Well -- well, sure, but I mean that's what Keith Olbermann is saying is he's worse than bin Laden, he's a terrorist, he' a neo- Nazi, and all sorts of other vulgarities.
So, again, I mean, just to the point of, is it OK that these things are lobbed at the president of the United States? How is that helping the national dialogue?
LOWERY: Well, I don't know that it's Keith Obermann's job to help the national dialogue. You know, Keith Olbermann is a commentator. His job is to talk about things. I mean we're talking about him on national television right now. It seems like he's accomplished what he's supposed to do.
You know, again, I'm not here to defend anything Keith's ever said or any of the other comments necessarily. But that said, I do think that, you know, this is the -- you know, if Donald Trump the celebrity thinks that he has been treated unfairly, that's something he can call, you know, ABC/Disney about. But Donald Trump, the president, is so thin skinned that he can't take political commentators saying mean things to him, perhaps he shouldn't be president.
BERMAN: Yes, it's a one way street, too, right, because the president has a history of saying things himself for which I don't believe --
CAMEROTA: That's a great point.
BERMAN: He's ever apologized for. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (June 2015): They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.
TRUMP (December 2015): Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
TRUMP (August 2017): You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me. Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.
TRUMP (September 2017): Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son is of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now? Out. He's fired. He's fired!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I mean far from apologizing. I think the president has doubled down and, in some cases, embraces most of those statements.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes, he's not following his own request. I hear you.
BERMAN: No. In a very big way.
April, what's interesting to me is that Roseanne Barr, who has said many, many different things over the last 24 hours, some of her more recent tweets suggest that she's having second thoughts about fighting back. She thinks maybe she'll fight back on all this thing. She feels empowered largely she says on Twitter by what President Trump has said. And maybe, you know, she'll get a show somewhere else. Maybe she's going to take this head-on. That tells you something.
RYAN: There is still a segment of society that supports this. And you have to remember, within the last two years -- well, even before then, during the 2016 presidential election cycle, we had heard something totally different than what we heard before. We have on the landscape now people who feel like I can do, without a problem or repercussions, this Archie Bunker plain talk, not politically correct speak. But there are consequences. It's causing an unhealthy and unsafe atmosphere on all sides. When one lobs, maybe the president or even Roseanne, other lobs back and it gets worse and worse.
And here's the problem for Roseanne. As she is probably looking to her future, she is viewed as unhinged. We go from -- I mean and even -- how -- how do people who support Roseanne, who are in the president's face, support the fact that she grabbed her crotch and screeched the national anthem, disrespect to the nation. And George H.W. Bush was president at the time and condemned that on Air Force One.
I mean every president has dealt with matters of race in the last 21 years that I've been here. Bill Clinton with a race initiative. George W. Bush with Katrina. That was horrific for him. Barack Obama, this president, that president. You know, just race embodied him because he was the first black president. And when you saw him, you saw race. And now this president, with the hate speak.
[06:45:13] We've got to figure out how to change the dynamic. And Valerie Jarrett is absolutely right, it comes from the top. He is the moral leader. And you can't legislative this. You can't do policy on this. This is a heart issue. It's good versus racism or versus someone who just doesn't have a compassionate heart for the other. What it is it, love thy neighbor as thyself.
CAMEROTA: On that note, April Ryan, Wes Lowery, thank you very much for all of your insights. OK, so this new book reveals how deeply Donald Trump's election
victory shook President Obama. How his long-time adviser says the results of the 2016 election impacted him. That's next.
CAMEROTA: OK, so here is something that we have not heard before. There is a new book that gives insight into how former President Obama was affected by Donald Trump's 2016 election victory.
[06:50:02] "The New York Times" has published excerpts from this memoir, it's called "The World As It Is" by President Obama's former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. Here's just one passage. Rhodes describes Obama's struggles during a trip to Peru.
Hey says that Obama said, maybe we pushed too far, Mr. Obama said. Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe. Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early.
OK, we're back with April Ryan and Wesley Lowery.
So, Wes, this is fascinating because President Obama has been notably reticent, OK. When all of this stuff has been happening with President Trump and so many people say, where's Obama? How does he feel? What is he thinking during all of this? And now here's this book that explains, you know, just how confused he was and what role he thinks he played and did he push people too far and this was sort of the natural boomerang after that. What are your thoughts when you hear these -- his thoughts?
LOWERY: Of course. Well, reading these excerpts from Ben Rhodes' book have been fascinating already and I'm eager to read the rest of the book, if only because, you know, we haven't had a lot of access to former President Obama since he's left office. He's been a president who, well, has given a few talks and an interview here and there, really has kind of allowed -- stepped off of the stage and beyond that. And it's hard to remember a time, but there was once a time when there was a White House where we weren't hearing about every single argument, every single fight, every single interaction.
That, largely, what President Obama was saying in private during his eight years of the presidency remained private. And so what this is providing is some insight into his private conversations, his private thoughts, his introspection. And so that, to me, part of what's really interesting here is, how does President Obama see himself, see his legacy and see what he did or maybe what he should have done as it relates to what happened afterwards?
BERMAN: And what does the Trump election mean about Obama's legacy? Because there were three people in this election, right? There was Donald Trump, there was Hillary Clinton, but there really was also Barack Obama here.
RYAN: Barack Obama.
BERMAN: And you can hear the former president trying to process the decision that America made in the 2016 election. And one of the things he says, he says, I don't know, President Obama told aides, maybe this is just what people want. I've got the economy set up well for him. He means Trump. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.
Very interesting, April.
RYAN: Yes, you know, but what I will say is what I know about former President Obama right now is that he's keenly aware of what's going on, but he's moving on, trying to do exactly what George W. Bush did for him, staying out of it as much as he can.
But going back to that -- that moment, you have to remember, there is a cord between Barack Obama and -- a familiar cord between Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Change -- the word change. They struck a chord in certain sections of America, change. And Donald Trump did the same thing. The question is, how much of a rebuke was changed with Donald Trump to Barack Obama? And that's what they're thinking. That's what they're wondering.
And I remember the day that President Obama marked the fact that history had changed. We had number 45, Donald J. Trump. And I remember that day when President Obama welcomed Donald Trump into the White House. It was only supposed to be like a 45-minute meeting. It wound up lasting for hours. And Barack Obama, no matter what he felt, no matter the fact that he was on the road talking against Donald Trump, his character, his moral fiber and his policies, he still wanted a transition of government, a smooth transition of government, to uphold the democracy. He did his job, even as he had those questions. Ben Rhodes hits it -- hits the nail squarely. He was in that inner circle to know.
CAMEROTA: There's other news in here, and that is, you know, there's so much noise and questions about, should President Obama have done more about the Russia interference? And you hear it from President Trump and his supporters. Well, this was on Obama's watch. Why didn't he do more?
Here's an interesting passage that I will read. Mr. Obama had authorize a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russia interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement. Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell's refusal staggering partisan and unpatriotic.
This is from an interview with, I guess, Rhodes in "The New York Times." So, that's new information, that President Obama had wanted, Wes, to alert people, but that Mitch McConnell wouldn't go along with the bipartisan nature.
LOWERY: Certainly. And I think that -- and we've heard, I think, tidbits of this before. We've heard about this idea of this bipartisan statement. I'm not sure -- we certainly hadn't heard President Obama's private reactions or his view on the fact that the Senate majority leader would not go along with it. It was -- it's almost refreshing a little bit to hear the president's almost cynicism about this. You can almost imagine a world where the president would have been the more idealistic one, frustrated that Republicans wouldn't come along. But here what you see is him kind of being resolved. After eight years of a Republican stature that was extremely obstructionist, him kind of accepting and understanding that of course they're not coming along. They wouldn't give us Neil Gorsuch. They wouldn't give us, you know, deals on, whether it be the economy or health care, of course they aren't helping us with this election. Like I said, had -- hearing Obama be a little -- a little bit of a cynic is a little refreshing, honestly.
[06:55:34] BERMAN: Wes Lowery, April Ryan, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Rudy Giuliani laying out his newest strategy to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller in that investigation. He's now setting this red line for Robert Mueller to finish up. Details on that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: You've got a group that's a lynching mob. Boy, we're ready to knock the heck out of you.
CAMEROTA: A newly revealed memo raising questions about the circumstances around James Comey's firing.
[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He actually did have Russia on the brain and he wanted to craft a narrative around that.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The FBI did exactly what citizens would want them to do. It has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Clearly there's still cause for --