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Possibility of Global Trade; Singapore Summit Details; The Double Standard in Media. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired June 2, 2018 - 00:00   ET



CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: It's back on. U.S. President Donald Trump confirms the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will happen as scheduled but now warns that it could be just part of a long negotiation.

Counterattack in the European Union, Canada, and Mexico hit back at the U.S. with their own trade tariffs and a shakeup in Europe with a new government in Italy and Spain. What changes the new faces may usher in. We'll discuss that later in the show. Live from CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.

Mark your calendars if you haven't already. A face to face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong- un is back on for June 12 in Singapore. President Trump made that announcement, that confirmation, Friday afternoon after meeting the Oval Office with the second most power man in North Korea, former Spy Chief Kim Yong-chol.

Kim hand delivered a letter to the President from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And after the meeting Mr. Trump started downplaying expectations. He said the Singapore Summit will probably be a part of a longer process.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be a beginning I would say and I've never said it happens in one meeting. You're talking about years of hostility.

I don't even want to use the term maximum pressure anymore because I don't want to use that term because we're getting along; you see the relationship. We're getting along. So it's not a question of maximum pressure.

Why would I do that when we're talking so nicely?


VANIER: Alexandra Field is following the story first in Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, do we know, by the way, what Kim Jong-un wrote to Donald Trump in that letter?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Cyril, President Trump teased reporters about how they would want to know what was in the letter. He didn't reveal the contents. He then said it was a nice and an interesting letter and then he went on to say that he had not, in fact, read the letter. That was after that 90 minute meeting with the former Spy Chief of North Korea, Kim Yong-chul.

But we do understand that U.S. officials have been briefed of the contents of the letter written by Kim Jong-un prior to the meeting. It was described generally as being a positive note. But Cyril, it doesn't seem to have included whatever clinched the deal in terms of President Trump deciding to go ahead with this summit.

You know just days ago we were hearing from state department officials that North Korea was going to have to do something historic, have some kind of gesture that they've never shown before in order for this summit to come together, in order for it to be successful and then they sort of backed away from that language.

You heard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking about his meetings with Kim Yong-chol earlier this week calling those productive meetings talking about setting specific conditions that would lead to a productive summit and saying that their work had been effective. But really we didn't get the go ahead until President Trump came out and said that in fact he would sit down for this summit saying it would simply be a mistake not to do it at this point. Cyril.

VANIER: You know there's one word that Donald Trump kept repeating after and after the meeting several times and that was the word process. And now he seems to acknowledge that's it not just all about June 12. That whatever the outcome of June 12, this negotiation is going to take awhile.

FIELD: Yes, there has been so much. Will it happen, won't it happen since President Trump cancelled the meeting citing North Korea's hostilities but it did very much seem that this was a President that did want to have this historic meeting. The big fear here has been that this will be a photo opportunity for Kim Jong-un, that it would be a handshake. That would certainly be the last thing that the White House would want. They want this to be an effective summit but at the same time they know that this is a President who wants to (inaudible) with having this summit.

So he does seem to be tempering expectations about what will come out of it saying really that this is maybe this a start, that there could be a second summit but there could be a third summit that this is a way to start this conversation here. That is a move that's being applauded here in South Korea. This is what they've been looking for. The people in South Korea, their safety is threatened by North Korea more than anywhere else on the planet.

They're the ones who have argued that the U.S. and North Korea must come to the table, must begin to talk. So they think this is productive but there are others who are still concerned about what could happen at this summit. Japan also behind the idea of dialogue but warning that they don't just want dialogue for dialogue's sake Cyril. They point to the fact that North Korea has proven to be untrustworthy

in the past when talking about denuclearization. They want to make sure that this is a meaningful summit where meaningful topics are addressed and where there is some sort of resolution even if this is just a start as President Trump says. Again he says it very clearly; he doesn't plan to sign anything as he put it. Cyril.

VANIER: Alexandra Field reporting live from Seoul, South Korea. Thank you very much. Let us talk now to Paul Carroll. He's the senior advisor for the group N Square follows this North Korea story closely. He joins me now from San Francisco. So Donald Trump says


this is starting to sound like real world diplomacy now I'm tempted to say for the first time. What did you think?

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISOR TO N SQUARE: I completely agree with you. If you take away the style of Donald Trump, it's all about me, wait till you see what I do, and it's going to be great, and push all that aside for a moment. As you said Cyril, he used the word process, he used the word multiple meetings and this is precisely what his concerns the people watching this process as it has unfolded, then this see saw between will it happen, won't it happen; it's going to be all or it's going to be nothing.

And now we're hearing things that while they seem more traditional give hope to the fact that Donald Trump has realized this isn't a one and done. This is going to be a long effort. It's a marathon not a sprint. What we can only hope is that it's implemented in the right way - that Pompeo and the Chief of Staff Kelly do in fact put in place the team and the talent to see that through. It's one thing to say it, it's a very different thing to do it.

VANIER: One thing came up when the President was talking to reporters that hadn't come up I believe before and that was the topic of human rights. Mr. Trump said no, he had not discussed it with the North Korean envoy. He made it sound like it wouldn't be a part of a negotiation going forward. Do you think the U.S. can make any demands on the North Korean dictatorship regarding human rights?

CARROLL: I think that they can. I think it may be something to put into a second or third meeting. Traditionally it was a third rail of communications and dialogue with the North Koreans. That all changed a few years ago when there was a very damming U.N. report about human rights in North Korea.

And really for the first time in decades, the North Koreans took it very seriously because after all they want legitimacy. It bruised them; it bruised their image. And while I wouldn't lead with that, it's certainly a legitimate topic and I would feel that it would not be a productive process if they completely left it off the table. Would I begin with it? No. Would I include it at some point? Absolutely.

VANIER: Consider what the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. He warned the President not to fall in love with the deal. Listen to this.


MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's going to be quite a challenge and I think for these situations to work you have to not want the deal too much. If you fall in love with a deal, and it's too important for you to give and the details become less significant, you could get snookered.


VANIER: Do you feel Donald Trump is in love with the idea of a deal and that therefore, perhaps he's in danger of getting played? I ask you this question because it was just over a week ago that he cancelled the meeting.

CARROLL: I think there's a sweet spot in the middle. I think the idea of being in love with the deal and therefore making it perfect is one end of the spectrum. And wanting a deal, not paying attention to the details is something that I would be concerned about. But by the same token, you don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Take the Iran Deal for example. The Iran Deal which President Trump withdrew from was very narrow, was very specific. It was about nuclear weapons. When the opposition or the political tide that didn't like the Iranian regime which is understandable started saying well it doesn't address missiles, it doesn't address Hezbollah. That's absolutely right. The deal is not about those issues. So while on the one hand Mitch McConnell is right you don't want to fall in love with the deal and ignore things of substance that matter.

The flipside of that coin is you don't want to throw everything into the deal at the first discussion, everything including the kitchen sink and if you don't get it all at once then you walk away then you're back to square one which is having a very serious security risk in the region and to United States interest. So there's a lot of middle ground to talk about.

VANIER: Yes, Mitch McConnell also saying there you also have to immerse yourself in the details. Clearly that was a pointed jab if you read in between the lines at President Trump. Still ten, eleven days now to prepare this, what will be the first of potentially several meetings according to the U.S. President himself and Kim Jong- un or at least several meetings between the U.S. and North Korea. Paul Carroll, thank you very much. Thanks for joining us on the show.

CARROLL: My pleasure. Thank you.

VANIER: Another top level summit may be in the works; this one now between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The Wall Street Journal" says planning for this is still in the early stages. The paper says the U.S. Ambassador to Russia has been in Washington to help arrange face-to-face talks between the two leaders. No word yet on a date or location but Syria and Ukraine would likely be on the agenda. Mr. Putin and Trump have met before on the sidelines of gatherings last year in Vietnam and Germany. Now let's turn to the threat of a global trade war


between the U.S. and just about everyone else. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross just landed in China to continue tense trade talks that got a whole lot trickier. After weeks of reported progress in negotiations with Beijing, the White House now says it will pursue tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The Chinese government was blindsided by this announcement. And America's allies are also reeling after harsh U.S. tariffs were suddenly imposed Friday on steel and aluminum imported from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. The E.U. filed a formal complaint with the world trade organization alleging the U.S. action was illegal. Canada's finance minister spoke to his American counterparts on Thursday to give him a piece of his mind.


BILL MORNEAU, MINISTER OF FINANCE IN CANADA: I did exactly what I said I would do which is express in strong terms our opposition to these tariffs in the steel and aluminum sector. Our absolute view that this is absurd to think that Canada could in any way be a security risk to the United States and also to say what happens when you put tariffs in place is you harm people. You harm people in the United States. You harm people in Canada.


VANIER: Well all of this could make for an awkward meeting next week when Mr. Trump goes to Canada for the G7 meeting. With the U.S. pitting itself against its own allies, some are now calling it the G6 plus 1. But President Trump is unapologetic about starting a possible global trade war.


TRUMP: They are our allies but they take advantage of us economically. And so I agree, I love Canada. I love Mexico. I love them but Mexico is making over $100 billion a year.


VANIER: Now Curtis Lee joins me now. He's a national correspondent with "The Los Angeles Times." Curtis, first of all when you hear the words global trade war, look that's scary. But just to put things in context, how serious is the risk here? I mean how bad could this get?

CURTIS LEE, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: I think this is very serious. I mean we've seen Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, come out strongly against this policy by the Trump Administration assailing it saying it's not good; it's insulting to the relationship between Canada and the United States. We've also seen Mexico officials coming out strongly against it. This really puts the United States in an interesting predicament. I mean we're seeing our closest allies - decades and generations of

allies - coming out and expressing their discontent with the Trump Administration. I mean European Union leaders, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, have come out against this. It just really - it puts the U.S. in a position that we haven't seen a sitting President in in years. I mean to really have our allies come against us with this trade policy.

VANIER: You know just as you're talking, we're seeing what Canada, the E.U. and Mexico are targeting for their tariffs. What we didn't see is where they're targeting them. Most of the U.S. states that produce the products that we're seeing on the screen right now are Republican states. That is Trump country. You're talking Wisconsin, Tennessee, you know all the - Kentucky. They're doing it on purpose obviously.

It doesn't seem to faze Donald Trump. Is that something you think he's taking into account, the political calculus here?

LEE: I'm not sure. I mean we saw today a number of top Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington coming out against the President saying that this is not going to help them; this is not going to help the party. This is not going to help these red states that you just names. I mean House Speaker Paul Ryan who is from Wisconsin has come out staunchly against this - the President on this and we really are seeing a split with the President and this party on this issue. I mean Republicans have been at the White House often having closed door meetings with the President saying, "Hey do not go through with this.

The President has seemed to just ignore those requests and move forward with what he wants. Republican leadership is deadest against these tariffs. Donald Trump, however, was very positive about the state of the economy today and I wonder whether it could be related. Listen to this.


TRUMP: We've made about $8 trillion in value since, you know we're double the size of the economy of China. We picked a lot of value, a lot of wealth since I've been President. More than $8 trillion. Now that's a very low number because we're talking stock market wealth. I'm talking about beyond that. Our companies are doing great.


VANIER: So this is the question that popped into my mind when I heard Donald Trump say that today. Do you think that Donald Trump thinks he can afford essentially to take a hit on the economy with a global trade war because the economy is starting from such a high point right now.


VANIER: So this is the question that popped into my mind when I heard Donald Trump say that today. Do you think that Donald Trump thinks he can afford, essentially, to take a hit on the economy with a global trade war because the economy is starting from such a high point right now?

LEE: We did see those job numbers come out today an the unemployment rate is low, so this could certainly be something that the president is factoring in in his moves with these - these tariffs and you know, that's something that you - you never obviously know where this administration is going or what this administration is thinking on any given day.

But that could certainly be something that that is in the president's mind at least.

VANIER: How far do you think he's willing to escalate this because, I mean, if there's a - if there's a counter-measure, a counter- tariff from the EU, Mexico, Canada? How far is Donald Trump going to take this?

LEE: Well, he's going to receive a lot of pushback from these Republicans and his own party on this and - and you'll start to see - we'll have to kind of wait and see what that pushback looks like and whether the president is wiling to - to shift course. We have seen this president do that often. He takes the temperature of his party or the temperature of an issue and then he might revert back and you know, it just all depends.

And I think only time will tell with how far the president will take this.

VANIER: All right, Curtis Lee, pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much.

LEE: Thank you.

VANIER: Sweeping political changes in Europe as Socialist Prime Minister takes power in Spain while a Populist government forms in Italy. We'll be discussing how all of this could affect the continents after break.


VANIER: Italy enters a new political era as Giuseppe Conte is sworn in as prime minister. The law professor has never held political office, now he leads Italy's new populist Euro-skeptic government and that's unsettling for France and Germany that are both eager to push for further EU integration.

Mr. Conte is set to present his cabinet next week and will face a vote of confidence and a seismic shift in European politics continues with Spain. Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez is set to be sworn in Saturday as the new prime minister. He takes over after Mariano Rajoy lost the no-confidence vote.

Years of corruption allegations came to a head last week when a court convicted some of his former aides. With Sanchez now the man in power, he says he understands the gravity of his new position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PEDRO SANCHEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am aware of the responsibilities that I assume in such a complex political moment in our country. And what I can say is that apart from being totally aware of it, I'm going to face all our country's challenges with humility and commitment, and above all, with a lot of determination -- first, to transform and modernize our country.


VANIER: OK, two countries, two new governments. Let's discuss with CNN European Affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas. Let's start, Dominic, with Spain. Getting rid of the conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was the easy part, I feel, for the socialists. I mean everybody in Parliament pretty much agreed with them.

Now they find themselves, though, running the show as a minority government. Are they going to be able to last?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: No, they're not going to be able to last. They're going to have call elections.


The question is when they will actually going about doing this. This has all happened very quickly. I think the first person they caught by surprise was Prime Minister Rajoy who really never saw this coming. His party, of course, has been embroiled in a whole range of corruption scandals and so on. I think that all in all, this could be a good thing for Spain.

It's been caught up over the past year or so in the problems with the independence and separatist movements in Catalonia. Rajoy was never going to back down on those particular questions. We don't know exactly what the outcome of that will be, but certainly for the weeks and months to come, the new prime minister can start and begin to address with that - that particular issue and call some elections.

The interesting thing of course is that all the polls are showing that it is not his party that would come out ahead were an election to go ahead, but in fact, the Citizen's Party in there. So there's a lot of uncertainty there and with so many political parties on the - the spectrum, the outcome is unpredictable as is a future coalition government.

VANIER: If I can get you to pivot to Italy now, this new government is really - it's a new look for an Italian government. They've got the league, which to some extent they were familiar with their politics -- a lot of anti-immigration rhetoric, anti-EU rhetoric.

They've also got the Five Star Movement which is the other founding member of this government -- the anti-elite, anti-establishment party that has really surged over the last 10 years. What do you think Italy is going to look like under this new anti-establishment government?

THOMAS: Well, it's a very different situation. I mean the northern league have been in power before in a two Berlusconi administrations. So as you say, they're not completely unknown and the presence of a populist ministers in a government is not that unknown. Of course today in Europe in both Hungary and in Poland, you have populist leaders in power.

What's going to be interesting here is having two political groups come together who are really quite different and who've managed to create this coalition government. One of them, as you mentioned, the Five Star Movement was only really officially created back in 2009.

Started off as this anti-establishment party opposed to corruption in the Italian system and has really built its agenda and its policies on the back of European politics over the last 10 years, initially on the question of austerity after the 2011-12 debt crisis, moving on to the migrants and refugee crisis in 2014 and 15, have no experience in power.

And now in many ways like Emmanuel Macron can say, I have to go from transitioning from being a movement towards being a political party with a prime minister, that is at best a puppet, put in place by these two leaders of the Northern League and the Five Star Movement. And it will be interesting to see how he handles these two disparate groups, that they compete for power and legitimacy in Italy today.

VANIER: CNN European Affairs commentary, Dominic Thomas. Always a pleasure to speak to you, my friend. Thanks.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VANIER: Still ahead on CNN, after two vulgar outbursts by comedians just days apart, people are asking whether we're entering a new age of nastiness in U.S. politics or is it just more of the same?



VANEIR: If you were paying attention to political conversations in the U.S. lately, it may seem that we're in a brand new age in terms of vulgarity. Celebrities, politicians, TV personalities are insulting each other in public. As CNN's Nick Watt it is getting worse and it seems to be fueled by social media.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Samantha Bee calls the First Daughter a thankless (expletive) on TV.

UNKNOWN MALE: Who the hell talks this way?

WATT: Roseanne Barr likens Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well they should never had a show to begin with.


WATT: And that's just this week. Cussing is nothing new. President Obama once said this of Kanye West before an interview began...




WATT: George W. Bush once got caught calling a reporter this on a hot mic.




WATT: But the instability is more now blatant. Kathy Griffin posing with an effigy of the President's severed head and it's (inaudible). White House staffer Kelly Sadler joking Senator McCain's opinion doesn't matter because he's dying anyway and there is even more exaggerated pearl clutching for political points scoring on both sides. As one commentator tweeted early this a.m. "Good morning Twitter, what should we pretend to be outraged at today? Now we all have a platform."

I mean without social media how did anyone vent when Harry Truman called General McArthur a dumb Son of a (expletive). Trump tweeted early this a.m., "Why aren't they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low-rated show. A total double standard but that's OK."

Double standard because Roseanne's show is cancelled after the Valerie Jarrett Tweet.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media saying that the most horrible things about this President and nobody addresses it.


WATT: Yet he's called Mexican immigrants rapists (inaudible). Stated reported mocked Heidi Cruz' looks called Chuck Todd...


TRUMP: He's a sleeping son-of-a-bitch I'll tell you.


WATT: Crickets. Instability is not an impeachable offense. In fact Trump supporters spin it into a positive after the President called a bunch of countries (expletive) holes, hang on, I can't say that on TV?

(BEGIN VIDEO) SANDERS: One of the reasons that he won and is sitting in the Oval Office today is because he isn't a scripted robot.


WATT: Economics might not be trickle down but instability just might be.


TOM ARNOLD, ACTOR: They do it because we have a white trash racist President. That's a fact.


WATT: To strong, Tom, too strong. I demand you apologize and are fired.


VANIER: Thanks for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.