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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump-Kim Summit Coverage. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 11, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson. Yes, please stay with us for this historic moment.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

It's just before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning in Singapore. Now, any minute, we will see president Trump of the United States and Kim Jong- un of North Korea come face to face. It is historic because it will be the first time any U.S. president has met with a leader of North Korea.

The mission, the U.S. made clear today that only full denuclearization will be acceptable.

We see here, you know what that vehicle, that holds the president of the United States. He will be exiting that vehicle and coming to meet the North Korean leader.

So, on North Korea side, what do they want? Well, high on the list was a meeting just like this and all the recognition of being on even footing with the man on your screen right now, the president of the United States , Donald J. Trump.

Remember, before Trump, no president would offer that. So, we're going to see this big meeting. We anticipate a handshake.

And then as Anderson was telling you, then the real moment happens, a one-on-one meeting, no policy people, no protection as far as we know. Just the leaders of the two countries. How long will it go? Minutes, hours? Will we know what happened in there? There is a lot of anticipation, a lot at stake.

Let's bring back Anderson Cooper on the ground in Singapore.

History is unfolding as we speak.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you saw some photographers getting in place. That handshake about to take place really any moment now. And as you said, Chris, we won't know the details of what they discussed except when President Trump decides to talk about it afterwards. There's not going to be as far as we know, a recording. There's not going to be any minutes taken of the meeting that will be released as far as we know.

So, the only word that we will get of exactly what was discussed is going to be from President Trump or perhaps Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime. Certainly, a lot of questions about what sort of attitude both leaders, what strategies both leaders are going to be using in this first face to face meeting. This is the meeting President Trump wanted to have first before a larger meeting with other officials as well. And then there is going to be a working lunch as well.

So, Chris, a lot to watch for and certainly a lot of expectations in the hours ahead.

CUOMO: The category of unusual though, Anderson, you know, obviously, this moment is a first of its kind. With that idea of a meeting face to face, just translators, of course, there's going to be tons of intrigue, you know, what other skills will each of these translators have on either side of the table. Will they be intelligence operatives? Will they be policy people as well?

But the idea of being there face to face is one of the reasons that preparation was in such a premium heading into this, because this as we all know, you don't get a second chance to make the first impression. All the hype is over. These two men across the table, how will they regard each other? How will they mix? What will they put on this table initially? What tone will that set going forward?

These are major considerations and, you know, journalists like us were left reaching here. There has been very little providing in the way of detail. Even the off the record information about scheduling leaves huge blocks of time with a lot of unknown.

COOPER: Yes. President Trump beginning to change sort of the parameters for what the meeting was going to be, calling it in recent days a kind of, a get-to-know-you plus. Not something -- not trying to raise expectations too high in terms of concrete issues being hammered out and decided on. As you know, Chris, any kind of verification with Secretary Mike Pompeo has talked about over and over again the importance of verification for any kind of denuclearization. That is going to take years perhaps or at least months to set up the kind of protocols for that and years to actually execute.

CUOMO: Sure, the "what" of denuclearization is the easy part of the ask, right? It gets into when it happens and how.

We have a ton of great guests to help us through all this happenings, as we wait for this face-to-face meeting, the first of its kind between Trump and Kim Jong-un. Anderson and I will take you through it as it happens.

We have by my side, CNN national security analyst, former director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper.

Thank you for being with us.

JIM CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: So, some of the things that Anderson and I are discussing, this is a first for Trump to have made this moment happen, how big a deal is this? CLAPPER: Well, it's a huge deal, and really a big deal and I have

long maintained that -- and particularly after I went to North Korea in 2014, that seemed to me at the time the North Koreans were stuck on their narrative and we're stuck on ours, and I think it takes a bigger partner to change that narrative. And that really is what President Trump has done here. So, yes, it's a huge deal.

CUOMO: All right. So, we're about 90 seconds away, they tell us, from this. This is ceremony, the two men coming, the handshake. Do you -- there is Kim Jong-un right there live on your screen right now walking into position. Obviously he is alone, unattended, coming in.

Here comes the president of the United States. And here is the two gentlemen, let's watch the moment.

(INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: And just like that, history has been made.

We have Anderson Cooper and Jim Clapper with us. We're meeting them right now. The men speaking I guess, Jim, with who is anticipated to be their translator, right?

CLAPPER: That's what it looks to me. And, by the way, I do have some concerns about gauging people through translators. That's a very difficult thing to do because there are huge cultural differences here. My own experience over many years of dealing with the Koreans and trying to gauge the measure of a man or woman that you're dealing with through a translator, it's not the same as real estate in New York.

CUOMO: Now, we do hear them speaking to each other. Do we know if Kim Jong-un speaks any English?

CLAPPER: I don't --

CUOMO: I'm assuming President Trump isn't speaking Korean.

CLAPPER: Yes, I don't know if he speaks English or not. He may understand some from his experience in schooling in Switzerland.

CUOMO: Little surprise at the apparent warmth and the body language there. Not just the handshake but an arm, you know, held and a hand on his back. Culturally, is that something that Kim is used to? What does that say to you?

CLAPPER: Well, probably not. Not too many in North Korea do that. But it's -- the occasion called for it, I thought. And that's, you know, brief body language there, that's a good sign.

CUOMO: Anderson, to you.

COOPER: Chris, here with Christiane Amanpour, also Ambassador Yun and Jim Sciutto as well.

For all the waiting, it was quick, but fascinating to see. CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was

quick. It was really fascinating, and there was body language. I mean, you saw their arms outstretch. Obviously, President Trump didn't smile, that was something -- at least not at the beginning. He did as he was walking on.

But Kim Jong-un did smile quite broadly as they were walking off and, you know, Kim Jong-un has had the old hug and arm tug when he was with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. And he's had this, you know, good pair of handshakes with President Xi of China, and I think that this is pretty amazing.

You know, Secretary of State Pompeo said yesterday, for all the talks, for all the hopes, for all the everything, nobody can make the decisions except for the two people that will be in that room together and those are those two people.

And I must say, this precise moment, you do have to remember that just a few months ago, it was all talk of war and bluster and fire and fury and destruction. And then to be frank, Kim turned on a dime with his New Year's speech. He took the opportunity to go to South Korea, or to send his delegation to South Korea, his trusted lieutenant, including his sister, to South Korea for what they called the peace Olympics.

And then he gave through the South Korean president this remarkable invitation to meet with the president of the United States. So, he has actually been almost in the driving seat from the beginning and talk is better than war. What did Churchill say? Jaw-jaw, not war- war.

COOPER: Ambassador Yun, I mean, you spent a lot of time in meetings with North Koreans over many years. What do you think is going to take place, how important is this face to face in private?

AMBASSADOR JOSEPH YUN: I think it is very important. And the day, the way they met --

COOPER: Let's listen in.

YUN: Yes.

(INAUDIBLE)

REPORTER: Mr. President, how do you feel --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel really great. I feel really great. We're going to have a great discussion. And I think tremendous success, going to be tremendously successful. And it's my honor and we will have a terrific relationship ahead.

(INAUDIBLE)

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): The past (INAUDIBLE) and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we overcame all of them and we are here today. TRUMP: That's true.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This way. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Again, here we are seeing the president of the United States and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

We saw the handshake. Now, second moment armed only with their translators. We don't think there will be policy people in this meeting with them or any kind of security. But here they are having a second press opportunity where President Trump was asked how he feels. Now, you can see the media is being sent out of the meeting right because, obviously, this is going to be a private meeting.

Jim Clapper, the president says this is an honor. We're going to have a terrific relationship going forward. Kim Jong-un responds through his translator, that there were a lot of obstacles to get to this point. It was not easy to get here but we made it through and now, we are looking at the schedule of what they're going to do today.

We don't know if this face to face with no other policy people will be just minutes or maybe even hours. What do you make of what's been said so far and what do you anticipate as the dynamic in that room?

CLAPPER: Well, so far so good. I notice a very similar format as in the press sprays as in the Oval Office. The president adopted the same pose that he always adopts when he's in the Oval in a similar circumstance. So, I think it -- from what you can tell from this, from the optics, it's all through a good start.

CUOMO: Who leads this conversation at the table? What are the rules?

CLAPPER: Well, I think -- well, I think the protocol is that Kim Jong-un who has been head of state longer I think is by definition, by protocol a senior. But I suspect that President Trump will be kind of leading the discussion.

CUOMO: Now, you had said earlier you were wary of only having translators and trying to get a read on specifically North Koreans that way. Why?

CLAPPER: Well, it's one thing to gauge the measure of someone when you're dealing in the same language and the same culture. And President Trump's confidence about his ability to size people up is quite true in an American context. This is very different.

The cultural norms for Korea are different than ours and it's hard to read. You can't interpret body language and completeness of a communication, interpersonal communication when you have that barrier. And the other thing is, of course, you want to have confidence in the renderings of both translators, that they are accurately rendering what you have said in Korean and conversely you're hearing back in English, the correct rendition.

CUOMO: Who do you use as a translator in this kind of instance, do you have somebody who's pulling double duty? You know, somebody who has some kind of policy sophistication, as well?

CLAPPER: You could. You could have someone -- and typically when translator -- in my experience using translators, and I have done this a lot with Koreans, is translators will take notes, their own rough shorthand notes of what their principal is saying, and then we'll use their notes to convey the message in the other language. So there will be, I think, a semblance of note-taking just by virtue of what translators normally do business.

CUOMO: Do you expect it to be brief? Do you think the two men could go and hour or more or you think that they'll leave a substance into seconds and thirds?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't -- I don't know. That's a good question. But whatever estimate you make, you have to double it to allow for the translation. So, if you say you have an hour meeting, it's really 30 minutes of discussion.

CUOMO: Everything said twice.

CLAPPER: Exactly.

CUOMO: Of course.

Let me ask you something, did you ever think you would see this moment?

CLAPPER: Absolutely not. Since I served as director of intelligence, U.S. forces in Korea in the mid-'80s and follow the peninsula ever since, when I got to go to Pyongyang in 2014, I never thought I'd see this sight or I certainly never thought I'd see the sight of Kim Jong- un and President Moon greeting each other pretty warmly at the DMZ at Panmunjom.

CUOMO: Just a quick reminder for people, what was said here, President Trump said when asked moments about, how do you feel? He said, I feel great. This is an honor for me to be here. And we will have a terrific relationship going forward.

Kim Jong-un was gracious and said there were a lot of obstacles on the way here but we overcame all of them.

The right thing to say at the right time, yes?

CLAPPER: Exactly.

CUOMO: This, of course, the historic moment.

Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence, has been with the North Koreans and has negotiated with them. He said he thought that he would never see this moment.

So, what was Trump able to do that Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush before him could not do?

CLAPPER: Well, I think, Chris, this had more to do with the North Koreans than anything we did. And I think that the North Koreans achieved whatever it is they thought they needed to achieve in the way of nuclear deterrent so that they could do this, come to a negotiating table, not as supplicants, which has always been the case in the past, where they have been the inferior and we've been the superiors.

They have reached the point, whatever it is, that they have confidence in their nuclear capability as the deterrent.

CUOMO: So, let's head back to Anderson Cooper, of course, in Singapore.

And you heard the president of the United States say it. He feels great. This is an honor to be with Kim Jong-un and that they will have a terrific relationship going forward. Those are things that we've never heard an American president say before.

COOPER: Yes, interesting, especially when you consider the president saying that he would know within the first minute or so about whether a deal could be reached, but as Director Clapper was saying, the difficulty of working through translators is obviously very real.

I'm joined again by Christiane Amanpour, Ambassador Yun, and also Will Ripley.

I mean, it's fascinating, Will, just to see the North Korean flag and the United States flag next to each other, just in terms of legitimizing the Korean regime. I mean, this is certainly what Kim Jong-un and what his father and what his grandfather have been wishing for.

Is this being broadcast live in North Koreas as well do you think?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't -- I would be surprised if it is broadcast live inside North Korea. Live events are very rare.

But, you know, we're monitoring KCNA. So, I think if there is a live signal, we would see it. And I haven't heard us talk about that.

But I just keep think about -- I was in North Korea eight times last year. And there was time that I was there, and President Trump would tweet something insulting about Kim Jong-un or they would launch a missile, and it seem at many moments that we were on the brink of war, and it was frightening frankly to be inside the country and know that the North Koreans, they were, you know, full speed ahead with their nuclear program. President Trump was talking about a phase two military option.

And yet, here we are seeing this moment. The two of them shaking hands. President Trump saying that they're going to have a terrific relationship and, frankly, I imagine they might hit it off quite well. I mean, you think about it, they were both born into wealth and privilege. Obviously, there's a huge age difference there.

But President Trump has implicated empathy for Kim Jong-un in the past, inheriting this regime from his father at the very young age. I mean, he's actually talked about Kim Jong-un with empathy and then kind of mixed that with insults and fiery rhetoric.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the room with the two of them and their translators.

COOPER: I also would want to bring in our Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, are you hearing from the White House team at this point?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're not hearing from the White House team that is actually on island there in Sentosa, but I can tell you, people back in Washington, at the White House, and indeed who are here traveling with the president who are not there and watching this with just eager anticipation, seeing the sight as you were saying of the two flags together.

And the two leaders intentionally sat down, I'm told, because there is a significant height difference. And when any photo opportunity like this all sort of optics matter.

But, Anderson, I am struck by, it was exactly three months and three days that President Trump walked into that White House briefing room unannounced, the first ever in the White House briefing room, a South Korean delegation was there and he said, we're going to have some news tonight. And he accepted Kim Jong-un's invitation.

Three months and three days and he is there in Singapore, sitting next to Kim Jong-un. Most of his own advisers did not think that it would happen, urged it, you know, perhaps to slow down, he said no. The question now is, what his engagement in this is going to be going forward. Some even supporters and friends of his often talk about his attention span. Does he have a long attention span to stay engaged on something in terms of details like this?

This certainly is a moment of chemistry and the -- you know, at least it looks by watching them of course that they are getting along fine. But we know that Kim Jong-un has studied Donald Trump. He has read "The Art of the Deal."

So, this in some respects -- I think getting here is the hard part. This right now are seeing is probably the easier part. But again what's going on behind the scenes in terms of the definition of denuclearization and verifying that. That is what is going to be important, if there is a signed statement when the president flies out tonight.

And also the timing. Let's keep a watch on the timing. Kim Jong-un announced he was going to leave shortly after the summit. So, then the White House announced that the president also going to leave this evening. But that could always be flexible. Those two men obviously are in

charge of their own schedules here. So, people are watching this without a script from the outside, which is not how president events normally are. That's why it's historic and it's why it's fascinating -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes.

Yes, I mean, Christiane, it's very rare that you have an event like this at this level, this magnitude without months and months of preparation in terms of meetings and hammering out an agreement really in advance. Often a meeting like this is sort of the afterthought and just signings of papers.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's true. In general protocol, the leaders come together and sign on to something that's being negotiated for months and sometimes years. But the fact of the matter is, as Jeff pointed out, it was three months and three days ago that he reminded us that actually this invitation was accepted. That Kim Jong-un made all of these steps. That he, you know, went to meet the South Korean president, the South Korean president pushed so hard to have this diplomacy between United States and North Korea rather than, you know, that horrendous trajectory that we were potentially right up to the end of last year.

So there has been months in order to prepare. We understand that even as CIA Director Mike Pompeo had the North Korea briefed and so, was, obviously, pretty read up on everything that's going on. And so, they have had a pretty decent amount of time.

They both know what they want and we've all been discussing the merits or demerits of having the leaders meet now. And clearly in this generation, this time, with this American leader, this North Korean leader, getting a measure of each other seems to be what they want to do first.

And I am struck by the body language. There is a lot of touching. I mean, there's President Trump touching his arm. Kim Jong-un touching the president's arm. There's a couple of different handshakes, there's the choreography of the standing straight and getting the photo-op at the beginning.

I have seen American and North Korean flags together. It was actually in Pyongyang. I've even heard the North Korean philharmonic play the United States national anthem. I thought I was going to die. It was unbelievably chilling.

So, there have been these moments in the past where there's been an immense amount of hope, and we just hope that this is one of them that will -- that will last, have ripple effects and that their ministers and others can negotiate and hammer out major details after this meeting.

COOPER: A lot more to cover. Let's go to Chris in New York -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Now, look, there has been hope in the past, Anderson, but never anything like this. We are living history together. You are looking at the handshake between the leaders of North Korea and the president of the United States. This is a moment that many thought would never happen in our lifetime.

But there they are. It was a warm moment. They then went and we saw them sitting in chairs. Jeff Zeleny reports that was because of the height discrepancy. They were there with their translators.

The president of the United States said this is an honor. They are going to have a terrific relationship. The leader of North Korea said there were obstacles on the way here, but we overcame all of them. Of course, the process hasn't really even started yet.

Now, we anticipate the two leaders will be joined only by the people that you are seeing on your screen right now, the translators, no policy people. How long will it take? What will that agenda be about? It will be hard for us to know because there is going to be no reporting on the meeting specifically.

So, let's get to Jim Clapper, former head of the director of national intelligence here.

So, first things first. We hear that Dennis Rodman, we have him on the show later on may have given Kim's men in New York, Trump's book "The Art of the Deal," and that he read it. Significant to you?

CLAPPER: Yes, it is, I have long been an advocate of involving Dennis Rodman in a --

CUOMO: So, Jim Clapper, the former head of -- the former DNI, the director of national intelligence, you saw Dennis Rodman as relevant?

CLAPPER: I do. He is a unique person since he has a relationship with both Kim Jong-un and with Donald Trump and obviously has great rapport with Kim Jong-un who is a basketball fanatic himself. So, I think that there is potential here to engage Dennis Rodman in a serious way in promoting this relationship.

CUOMO: So we just found out that the person with Trump is the division chief at the State Department for interpreting, his interpreter.

CLAPPER: Right.

CUOMO: That sounds like a pretty heavy title. Now, toes that mean that person has more portfolio than just language skills?

CLAPPER: Perhaps.

CUOMO: Division chief.

CLAPPER: I think the first -- I hope the first criterion was expert fluency in the language. That to me in this instance is most important thing rather than other hats that person may wear. Of course, you know, that person will be a witness to what went on. That will be important. CUOMO: So, that's good to know, another piece of information. You

say the most important question that the president might ask is to say to Kim Jong-un, tell me what you need so you don't have to have nuclear capabilities?

CLAPPER: To me, that would be the most important question to pose to Kim Jong-un. And, you know, first time in 70 years, you know, North Korea is a family owned country. That we had opportunity to hear the answer to that question from the horse's mouth. And it would be very useful. It might be a stiff price tag, but to start the discussion with what is it North Korea needs, what is it that Kim Jong-un personally needs to ensure that he -- that they don't need nuclear weapons for security.

CUOMO: Now, the problem with asking the question, if you don't know the answer to it, is what you get in response. You say that when you were over there dealing with the North Koreans, they were paranoid about bombers. What if Kim answers the question and says, I have some requirements for you when it comes to military capabilities and maybe even nuclear capabilities -- then what?

CLAPPER: Well -- and the point here, Chris, is denuclearization could be a two-way street where this isn't just mandating to the North Koreans, you must denuclearized, which when I was there was a complete nonstarter. That could also apply to us where they could say, for example, we don't want anymore B1s, B2s, or B52s landing on the Korean peninsula, or an operational proximity to the Korean Peninsula.

Well, that has huge implications for our nuclear umbrella that we have maintained for decades over both the Republic of Korea as well as Japan. So, this has big implications.

CUOMO: Well, you teed up the relevance of Dennis Rodman. We have him joining us on the show. He made his way to Singapore. There he is right now.

Good to see you again, my friend. Dennis, can you hear me?

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: How are you doing, guys?

CUOMO: Good. Do you have -- what does your hat say?

RODMAN: What's my hat say?

CUOMO: Oh, good. Now, I can see it. So, you have --

RODMAN: Let's make America great again.

CUOMO: All right.

RODMAN: You got it right up? You got it?

CUOMO: I got it. Thank you.

So, you made your way to Singapore. How important is this to you? You talked about the prospects for peace when we spoke several years ago. Did you think this moment would ever come?

RODMAN: Well, in my heart and soul, when I first went to North Korea, I was very honored to be selected to go there. And once I went to North Korea, I didn't really understand what the old situation was as far as being over there.

And when I first met Kim Jong-un, I was more like, I didn't know what to expect. You know, I didn't know who he was. I didn't know what he represented. I didn't know if he was someone important.

But I knew something was going on, but once I got familiar with the culture and the situation over there, I got to really used to being there and I felt like I was at home.

CUOMO: Now you know both men. You've spent time with the North Korean leader. You spent time with Donald Trump. How do you think the two men size up in terms of how they might get along?

RODMAN: Well, I think the fact that Donald Trump would understand the fact that North Korean, the people of North Korea have a -- have a heart, they have soul, charisma and they love each other. I think the fact that Kim Jong-un and his family understands that.

And I think that President Trump should understand the fact that the reason the marshal of North Korea respects Dennis Rodman is the fact that he trusts me. And I gave him something for his birthday, and I thought I couldn't pull this off. And I said to him, it was his -- the day before his birthday, I said, I'm going to give you a present. And he said, what is that?

I said, I'm going to bring a basketball, professional basketball to you. He said, can you do that? I said, yes, I can. Even though I didn't know I couldn't it -- I said, I fail now, it's going to be a problem.

So, basically I got a lot of people together. I got Pot Coin who helped me out, my sponsor, thanks to those guys -- and it happened.

And Kim Jong-un came to me, and said, Dennis, you know what, this is the first time someone has ever kept their word to me and my country and I looked at him and I got emotional and I said, wait a minute, hold on. Someone has never kept their word to you and your country? He said, yes, this is the first time, ever since yesterday actually.

And I came through and I think he really appreciated that, the fact that, he's got (ph) on me a person that's trust worthy, and I think that country has normally hearing person that's always lying, deceitful, and not trustworthy.

And I think that if Trump goes in there with a great heart, with his heart on the table, and let Kim Jong-un sees him really emotional, as far as like speaking to him. It ain't about war, it ain't got to be about hatred or what happened in the future or in the past and other past -- I'm sorry, the past, we move onto the future.

I told people about Kim Jong-un, he is all about the 21st century. He is trying to progress his country. And Donald Trump is going to do a great job, to try to reach out and make sure that our hands, America's -- our hands are always open because as Americans, we have let so many people around the world join us to be happy and one country, that's the United States.

And now, we have really put ourselves on the line to reach out to North Korea and they have been so gracious to me, my family and the United States. So, let's make this happen. If Trump can pull this off, more power to him.

CUOMO: Dennis, did Kim reach out to you or his people reach out to you, president's people, anybody who reach out to you for insight into the other side?

RODMAN: Well, you know, I have talked to those guys for the last five years.

CUOMO: Which guys?

RODMAN: And we talked to -- I talked to Kim Jong-un and administration over there five years ago and he asked me five years ago. We sat down for lunch. And he sat down and asked me, hey, Dennis, I would like to ask you three things, if you go back and tell the president of the United States these three things, that I would be willing to talk to him. And this is a true story and I have my people who heard the conversation.

He said things like, if they could move the ships back from South Korea, I would do what I have to do to listen. If you can do certain things, do certain things, I would listen, my ears would be open.

And I tried to do that with Obama. And Obama didn't give me the time of day. I asked him, I said I have something to say from North Korea and he just brushed me off. But that didn't deter me.

I still kept going back. I kept going back. I kept going back. I showed my loyalty and my trustworthy to this country. And I said to everybody, I said, the door will open.

CUOMO: I remember you saying it. Let me ask you something, does Kim understand English?

(CROSSTALK)

RODMAN: It is amazing, it is amazing, when you said those things, when I said those damn things, when I went back home, I got so many death threats. I got so many death threats.

I was sitting there protecting everything. And I believe that North Korea and when I went home, I couldn't even go home. I couldn't even go home.

I had to hide out for 30 days. I couldn't even go home. But I kept my head up high, Brother. I knew things were going to change.

I knew it. I was the only one. I never had no one to hear me. I never had no one to see me.

But I took those bullets, I took all of that. I took -- everybody came at me and I'm still standing. And today is a great day for everybody, Singapore, Tokyo, China, everything, it's a great day.

CUOMO: It is a great day. This is a historic day.

RODMAN: I'm here to see it. I'm so happy.

CUOMO: You were saying years ago to me that you thought this would happen. And I want you to let you be ready for me to ask you another question. I know you are emotional about.

RODMAN: Yes.

CUOMO: This is what I want to know. I want to know -- well, you are an emotional guy. You feel very deeply about this. People who've been around you understand.

RODMAN: Right.

CUOMO: Why did you feel so strongly that you needed to make something happen for North Korea? So many places you could have gone in the world that have, you know, a much easier path to peace than North Korea given the record of human rights abuses and other practices of this despotic regime. But you chose North Korea, why?

RODMAN: Well, you know, (INAUDIBLE), I was very naive when I went over there. I didn't understand and expect all of the things I was getting when I went over there. They said, did you realize what you were doing, Dennis, when you went over there?

I said no. I thought it was another one of those things. I was just doing a charity event. I didn't know anything about North Korea. I just thought I was going to play basketball and just meet the people and that was it.

But it turned out to be so much bigger than what I thought. And I thought the fact that, you know, just listening to the people, seeing the kids, seeing the people there and just meeting the regime, Kim Jong-un, and the whole marshals and everybody, I just feel like -- I just fell in love with the country from day one.

And I felt like that -- I guess I owe it to myself and the people around the world. You know what? I'm not in here -- I'm not in this for no money. I never started this for no money.

This is not about Dennis Rodman being the greatest person in the world to lead these people together. It has nothing to do with that. I just want to see it get done. So, we all are going to live good (ph) together. No hatred, no more hatred.

CUOMO: Well, here's the first day. Let's see where it goes.

Let me ask you something. You talk about speaking with Kim Jong-un. Does he understand or speak English? RODMAN: One thing about him, I always said about him, he is more like

a big kid even though he is small. He is more like a big kid, but he loves to have a good time, and I was seeing last night, or this morning, or this morning, that he was going around and taking selfies, stuff like that.

I was saying (ph), this guy wants to be around the world. He wants to come to America. He wants to enjoy his life. He wants his people to enjoy his life.

But he just -- I think that the fact that he doesn't have the tools or maybe the fact of the politics of the whole meeting that go is going to happen, I think this is going to change a lot. And I hope the fact that President Trump can understand, knowing that Kim is trying to reach out and tries to get to the 21st century.

CUOMO: That's a big question. I want to ask you about that in a second. But let me get an answer to this. Do you think he speaks or understands English?

RODMAN: Well, I think he understands bits and pieces. If you talk about basketball, yes, he understands that.

CUOMO: So, you think it's about what he wants to talk about. Do you think he studied English?

RODMAN: I just tell you one thing, I think people know that Kim Jong- un is not a dumb man. I think he understands what his grandfather and his father, I think he is trying to protect his people and trying to protect his honor and everything that has to do with his country. But like I say, that's respect. That's respect. Nothing is going to happen overnight.

CUOMO: A hundred percent.

RODMAN: It is going to take time.

If Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump understand that and understand that, if they understand the fact that we just sit there and have a smooth, a comfortable relationship, smile, laugh and joke a little bit, OK, great. It ain't going to be war. It's going to be something that what everyone to be comfortable about.

CUOMO: Right.

RODMAN: And I know this meeting is going to be a great meeting.

CUOMO: Well, that's the hope, Dennis. We'll see where it goes.

It had a good start. They did the handshake, there was good body language. They said the right things. You know, it's all perfunctory of this part.

It's the opening ceremony. And we'll see what happens when we start getting reports about the actual policy negotiations.

But you talk about the Kim Jong-un side and North Korea side, did you hear from the White House at all today?

RODMAN: Well, yes, I did. But and a good thing about it, yes, Donald Trump reached out. He called, his secretary and she called me and said, Dennis, Donald Trump is so proud of you, and he thanks you a lot.

And that means a lot, you know, because all of these years, the fact that I somewhat had something to do with this North Korea situation, but I don't want to take any credit where credit is due. I think we all need to take credit. I'm just here -- I'm just so thankful to be here.

I'm glad -- the fact that this is happening, the world saw it, I saw it. And my kids saw it.

So, you know what? I hope for the best. We don't need a miracle. We don't need a miracle. But we need the doors to be open, so we can start fresh and make this a better place and world, baby, that's it.

CUOMO: Well, look, sometimes, it does take a miracle. I mean, you are dealing with some really tough things on the table here. You know, I know you have had experiences with the leader of North Korea. And this is a nice moment. I'm not looking to get into it with you again.

RODMAN: Right.

CUOMO: But you know now things you didn't know then. There is a lot of violence.

RODMAN: Right.

CUOMO: There is a lot of negativity and it all stems from your friend, the ruler of North Korea. You know, this man isn't all selfies and smiles. He is responsible for the deaths and hardships of a lot of people. How can you be sure he wants something better than what he is right now?

RODMAN: Well, as we know, Chris, the fact that, you know, I'm not a politician. You know, I'm not sitting here trying to fight the fact that, you know, I'm on his side 24/7. I'm going to do everything right, to say the right things, to make him look like a better man, a better person. I've never been like that.

I've always been like down the middle. Here it is, you know, he is a good friend to me. That's what I look at.

I don't see the politics of this whole situation. I don't want to see that. I want to see that to go away.

I want to see us to get along, to have a handshake, to have a smile. Have a glass of iced tea. Just talk to each other friendly. I need to worry about the war stuff and all the stuff that's going on. I don't know anything about that.

I just want to do one thing, bring force (ph) to North Korea, and sort of bring that connection with us to North Korea. That's his force. Everything else can be Donald Trump's hands and people in the White House hands.

I'm out of it. I'm just happy to just be here, man, and jus see, everyone in the world get emotional, like I did, cried to see it really, really happened. And Donald Trump should take a lot of credit for this because he went out of the box and made this happen.

So, I want to say one more thing before I leave. Can I say one more thing?

CUOMO: You can say whatever you want. Go ahead.

RODMAN: Can I thank some people though while I'm here? Can I thank some people?

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead. But let me ask you something, don't get on a whole tour about it, but I want to ask you something else, but thank somebody if you want to thank them. Go ahead, Dennis.

RODMAN: All right. So, you know, I just thank, you know, all the good people that stood by me. Darren Prince (ph), you know, Beau (ph), all the guys that went with me in North Korea. You know, I'm thanking Chuck Daly, I'm thanking Phil Jackson, thanking Jenny Bass (ph), I'm thanking (INAUDIBLE), I'm thanking Eddie Vedder, the Pearl Jam, everybody that's supporting me with all -- through all these things.

So, I want to thank my kids. They still with me all these years, all the things up and down, they're still with me.

CUOMO: All right.

RODMAN: I just want to thank everybody, man. And plus, you know what, I'm thanking these guys at Pot Coin that supported me through this whole thing.

CUOMO: I got you. So, we see the shirt there, you got a good -- you got Trump on the top, you got Pot Coin on the bottom.

Let me ask you one more thing. Do you think there's any chance that you might have a role in this process? Does anybody reach out to you, or given you reason to believe that whether it's the North Koreans or it's the Americans, that they may reach out to you as some type of resource here, some thing that is part of this mix going forward?

RODMAN: Well, you know, like I said, that is not my job. I wish that the fact that people will put (ph) on me that title role, the fact that I should want to be involved in this whole politics stuff, I just want to be involved with the sports aspects. If they can use me in that direction, maybe I can have some type of common sense to shine some light on what's really going on in North Korea.

If Trump wants to ask me about certain things, he will probably figure out today. And I hope he does. But if he wants to ask me one-on-one, I'm wiling to do it. So, like I said, I know a lot of things, but I guess this is Trump and

Kim Jong-un's day. This is the world's day. It is not my day. I just came because I want to see it face to face in my own eyes.

So, thank you guys for having me on, and the world. Thank you, guys. I am going to do more important things down the road, please sit behind me. Sit behind me.

CUOMO: Dennis, it is good to see you. I'm glad you are well. I know that you're on your own journey. Stay healthy, stay happy.

RODMAN: Right.

CUOMO: Please let us know what you find out about this process. It's good to see you. Dennis Rodman, in Singapore -- thank you.

RODMAN: All right. Thank you, brother. All right, brother.

CUOMO: All right.

Jim Clapper, we're looking at the moments earlier. It is bizarre to say the least, but here I am next to the director of the national intelligence, former director for the government, and Dennis Rodman, always known as "The Worm" for how he played basketball. He is our best resource at this point for understanding the minds of the two men, especially Kim Jong-un.

CLAPPER: I agree, Chris, and I try to --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: As weird as that is to say. They made a movie about that and this is still weird.

CLAPPER: This whole thing is unconventional. And believe me, I just -- I saw a Dennis Rodman that I have never seen before on the course of that interview, and you drew that out of him. A lot more depth there than I think meets the eye and he does understand Kim Jong-un, and all the rest of us, pundits, were kind of ammeters and haven't had that direct contact like he has.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something -- you have been around a lot of bad people in your life, on the leadership level. I am not talking about American politics, I am talking about like killers.

CLAPPER: Right.

CUOMO: For Dennis, and I have been with Dennis a number of times now, and he believes that two things can be true at once. That Kim Jong-un is good to him, has a good heart, but that what he calls politics, he is talking about a murderous regime. Can two things exist like that at the same time?

CLAPPER: Yes, they can. I believe he made a good point about that, although he kind of dismissed as political, the brutality of the regime. And it is. But we've had dealings with -- official, diplomatic dealings with brutal regimes in the past. And it is -- for me, it's pragmatic. What is the best interest of furthering peace and stability in the world? And that's what really is at stake here.

And I think Dennis's point about let's focus on now and the future is a good one.

CUOMO: Except you do have to have eyes wide open about who you are dealing with.

CLAPPER: You do, and I hope somehow in this summit meeting --

CUOMO: Right.

CLAPPER: -- that the subject of human rights abuses is brought up by the United States with Kim Jong-un and North Korea.

CUOMO: Right, and that's really the big topic on the table. Let's talk about that, because, look, this is not within Dennis Rodman's portfolio.

It is coincidental, let's say, at the least, that he was saying four years ago that he thought something like this would be happening, if somebody would give it a chance. The Obama administration wasn't open to it. This administration was. And now, here we are.

But human rights matter. You can't do a deal with a country if they are not going to change their practices on fundamental level of freedom and the price of murder for political objection. Does that have to be on the table in this meeting between the president and Kim right now?

CLAPPER: Yes, it does. I do think, though, there is, perhaps -- and I may be criticized for this, but there probably is a priority order. And I think the first order of business is to get our arms around some sort of path ahead on denuclearization. And -- but that's not -- that should not be to the exclusion of these other considerations and normally human rights conditions.

So, what we are about here is trying to make a -- the North Koreans alter their behavior profoundly, both with respect to what they now view as their security and their long established practices of brutality and suppression of their people.

CUOMO: Jim Clapper, thank you so much for helping us understand the history unfolding before our eyes right now.

CLAPPER: Well, thanks, Chris. It's been great to watch the history with you.

CUOMO: So, this is a moment many thought would never happen. We're going to take a break right now. We have much more for you.

Right now, you are looking at earlier moments, those two men, the leader of North Korean and the president of the United States are in a meeting alone with only interpreters. Imagine what might be said right now. When we come back, we'll take you through the possibilities.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME.

We are all living a piece of history together tonight. President Trump and Kim Jong-un, they are in a room right now just with interpreters. The fate of peace in the region on the table. It is heady stuff.

There's a lot to break down, so let's bring in Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum for a great debate.

But let's start on the same page tonight. I cannot believe there is any disagreement that we are living a moment that people thought would never happen, true on both sides?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Agree with that.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: True.

CUOMO: That the implications are huge for peace on that peninsula. And this part is true too, the person who knows both men best is Dennis Rodman.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: He is -- Rick Santorum, he said to me a few years ago when we went through all that controversy about him being here, and he knows he was wrong about Kim and the politics and the human rights, and what he thought he knew about Ken Bae. He knows he was out of his depth on that.

But he said this guy wants to come into the 21st century. He wants a seat at the table, people laughed him off. And yet here we are. What's your take?

SANTORUM: Well, I would like to be as optimistic as Dennis Rodman. I --

CUOMO: All right. These are live pictures right now. Hold on a second, Rick.

SANTORUM: OK.

CUOMO: These are the gentlemen. All right. It was a meet and greet. They were in there about, how long do we think now? About 35 minutes or so, the men were in there with their interpreters. Now, they're walking again. What we anticipate now is a working launch and then a policy teams are going to take over and the real meat and potatoes of policy considerations, diplomacy and negotiating will begin.

But here they are, can't hear the president. We'll try to get you some transcripts about what he was saying there.

Now, they're shouting questions, not responded to. Somebody shouted to the North Korean leader, will you give up your nuclear weapons? No response there as you can see on the screen.

And again, we believe the men are now walking in the company of their interpreters. The woman with the president of the United States is actually a division chief at the State Department in the area of interpretation. So, who knows? Maybe both interpreters were wearing two hats, policy experts as well.

But now, we believe the two men are going to go and join a larger part of who's here for a working luncheon and the hard work of policy begins.

All right. Back to Santorum and Granholm.

Rick, you were about to say something that was going to be a little bit pessimistic I think. Go ahead.

SANTORUM: Yes, look, I'd like to be as optimistic as Dennis Rodman. But I have to look at this through maybe a different lens. I look at this as really a failure on the part of the United States and international community of deterring someone from getting nuclear weapons or doing what was necessary to stop, and this is the consequence.

The consequence is that leader, a despot, has been elevated on the world stage. I'm not blaming Donald Trump. Donald Trump has accepted the reality that we have to deal with the nuclear power that has the ability to strike the United States and you have to deal with that seriously, and you should give diplomacy a chance.

But we can't -- we could no longer ignore him, isolate him, because that didn't work. We didn't -- the failure of the Obama, Bush, Clinton, going back, of those administrations have now set a template for other countries to say, look, here's how you -- here's how you get your security, you go ahead and you defy the international community. You go ahead like Iran is trying to do --

CUOMO: Well, what's the alternative?

SANTORUM: The alternative is to actually do something to stop them. And --

CUOMO: Like what?

SANTORUM: Well, there's -- you know what can be done to stop them. The question is --

CUOMO: That's the point though, rick --

SANTORUM: -- whether there's the will to do it.

CUOMO: But it's not just about will. See, you have to be careful with language, it makes it sound like a macho contest. And, Jennifer Granholm --

SANTORUM: It's not a macho contest. It's a reality. It's a national security contest.

CUOMO: Right. But when you're going to take military action, if that's on the table, Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, the reason that that was brushed away so quickly by the secretary of defense and it is dealt with the same way by military experts up and down the board is because there is no simple military situation, especially given the logistics on the Korean peninsula, because you have a ton of Americans and a ton of innocents right within artillery range, let alone any of the heavier weapons that North Korea happens. So, military action, while it sound like, well, that was the alternative, is it really?

GRANHOLM: No. I mean, of course, it's always an alternative, but it is an alternative with such a high cost. So, I'm glad that there is an effort here at diplomacy. I do share Rick's skepticism about what's going to come out of this. I mean, it is true that Kim Jong-un has already won, in -- by getting the meeting. And so, now the question is, if Donald Trump doesn't come out --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Let me stop you for a second. Jennifer, one second.

GRANHOLM: Yes.

CUOMO: This is the lunch. This is what we thought was going to happen. So, this is now confirmation.

You see the North Koreans on one side, the Americans on the other. You see General Kelly. You see Secretary of State Pompeo there. The woman next to Donald Trump is the division chief of the State Department of interpretation. Let's listen to the president.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: -- a big dilemma, that until this point has been unable to be solved. I know that working together with you, we'll get it taken care of.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, they're going to move media out of the room right now so the working lunch can continue.

Just to refresh if you're joining us now, you see Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, his head there on the left, you see the president of the United States with his team with him right now. They've had their handshake. They've had their face to face alone with interpreters, now they're having their working lunch.

We just heard the president and the North Korean leader exchange niceties, once again saying we will work on things, we will get through, we will cooperate, we will negotiate, all the types of things you imagine here.

We have Jim Sciutto there in Singapore monitoring this.

What to you make of the events so far?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Chris, one thing notable about the one on one, at the end of the day, they were across from each other, mano-a-mano. Just for about 45 minutes or so, as Director Clapper made, that's really 22 minutes of conversation, right with translation.

So, not -- it doesn't seem possible during that length of time that they had a substantive beyond meet-and-great conversation, getting into the nitty-gritty details now. That's where they are. They're in a working group.

So, following, you might say something of the protocol here. That that one-on-one, that some U.S. allies, I've spoken to Asian diplomats who were concerned, would President Trump go further than the allies are comfortable with? Would President Trump go further than his own advisers, intelligence community were comfortable with?

In a meeting of that length, it seems less likely. Now, they're sitting there with their advisers. That's just one point I would make in light of the length of the one-on-one meeting. Still substantial about relationship building, no question, but raises questions about to what degree of detail they could have gone in the meeting of that length.

The other point I would make is this, Chris, it's just Kim Jong-un, his father, his grandfather, they have sought for decades, parity, respect with the world, specifically with the U.S., to be treated on a level. And he has that, he got that -- the handshake in front of the flag, side by side, the one on one.

And remember what got him there, wasn't his charm, it wasn't his diplomatic prowess, it was nuclear weapons, right? And that was why they sought them, in part for their survival, for the survival of their regime, but also for respect. Their weapons got them there.

And that is one reason why even the CIA assesses in their view that it's a high bar.

CUOMO: Right.

SCIUTTO: They view it as unlikely that they give up everything in light of what that got them.

CUOMO: Well, right now, Jim, the question is, would they give up anything, right? I mean, the gamble here on the part of the United States has always been clear. You are giving the Kim regime exactly what they wanted. It's very high in their wish list, as you just said.

And the open question is, what will you get back. And you have a difficult balance with nukes and human rights and both are going to have to be addressed.

There's a lot on the table, we see the teams. Let's see where it goes.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CUOMO: Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. Jim Clapper, Rick Santorum and Jennifer Granholm, thank you for being with us and helping us get through this.

We'll be back at midnight Eastern with a special live two-hour edition of CUOMO PRIME TIME to update you on everything that happens between now and then at the summit.

But don't go anywhere. We have nonstop coverage of the summit. It continues right now with Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT" -- Don.