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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Interview with Michael Anton; Discussion of Trump-Kim Summit; Interview with Sen. Susan Collins. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 12, 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 ANCHOR: All right. Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

The president is praising his own deal-making skills, even though no deal was made in Singapore. But the president does have a plan B, just in case. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don't know if I'll ever admit that but I'll find some kind of an excuse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Meant as a joke? Maybe. Too often the truth? Definitely.

So, because President Trump saying something is a huge win doesn't always make it so, tonight, we test the case of what was gained for each side in Singapore. We have one of the architects of the summit strategy to do just that in a second.

But also tonight, President Trump isn't tweeting about it, but this should be on your radar. First, the attorney general aimed to get rid of preexisting condition protection. Now, a move that could be really bad for women seeking asylum in the U.S. We'll take you through it.

And no more redoes. Bill Clinton just dug himself an even deeper hole. We debate what needs to happen, next.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: All right. Little white board action for you here, OK? What are the points the administration is looking at in terms of why it was a win in Singapore? Well, we are now talking nicely. The brinkmanship seemed to have ended. Fair point.

Tough talk worked. OK, that goes to the motivation of what brought Kim Jong-un to the table. The administration says he was afraid.

Great deal, the president says, was made. Is that what he can point to? Have you red the declaration which is really just a letter of intent and the four points that are in it? We'll take you through it.

Denuke. Denuclearization is now on the table. Is that new? Is it in a real way?

And the big point that the United States gave -- nothing. War games, NBD. I'm told that's what the kids say today -- no big deal.

However, what did North Korea go back and report as the headline from this summit? They reported that the U.S. has backed off its military activities in the region. Nothing about denuclearization.

All right. So, that's the win.

However, not so fast. Why? Here are the points on the other side. The fire and fury -- do you remember the president talking that way? That's what took it to the brink.

Of course, North Korea is the provocateur here. Of course, they're the aggressor, recklessly using munitions, trying to get nuclear capabilities with designs on destruction.

But the fire and fury, the talk is what took us to such an ugly place, at least in part. Much respect was given to Kim Jong-un.

Distinguish between whether prior presidents could have had a meeting like this versus thought they should have a meeting like this. They didn't want to have a despot like Kim on equal footing with them, flag side by side.

Trump took a risk here. They'll call it unorthodox, but it was a gamble, all right? And what did he come away with? At this point, a deal to make a deal.

Read that declaration. Don't let somebody sell it to you as a deal. It isn't, OK? What was agreed to in there, the main point, the third point, the promise of denuclearization, that pledge is an echo of what was done with Leader Moon in South Korea, what was agreed to in Seoul.

The North Koreans did not agree to anything new in terms of any pledge or any commitment, you need to know that. And then what did we really get? At this point, the inside of a donut, all right? That means nothing in Queens where I grew up.

So, this is the not so fast. The other side is the win. Now, we're going to test it.

And we have someone really good to do that tonight. Our next guest was in the room with president Trump as he made some of his biggest foreign policy decisions. He just left the White House, so he is the perfect person to test what this meeting was about and what came out of it.

Let's get after it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Mr. Anton, thank you very much for joining us.

MICHAEL ANTON, FORMER SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right, give me a quick take. What do you think was accomplished in Singapore?

ANTON: First, just getting the relationship off to some kind of a start was accomplished, just talking is an accomplishment with a regime like this that the United States has had very little contact with over the last many decades, doesn't have diplomatic relations with. And in the past when the United States has talked, things haven't turned out so well.

It all remains to be seen how it will turn out now. But getting that relationship going again, especially after a year of extraordinary tension, missile tests, nuclear tests, a lot of fear in the region that the region might be headed for some kind of conflict, just talking again reduces tensions. You see how happy South Korean public opinion is about this, how happy the South Korean leadership is about this.

And other countries in the region, they like to see tensions go down. That in and of itself is an accomplishment.

CUOMO: Posturing is different than policy, right? Do you have a concern that the give to get ratio here is not in the U.S. favor yet?

ANTON: Not yet I don't. That has been true in the past, but what we gave in this instance -- you know, the president said he was not going to proceed with a military exercise.

You know, let's unpack that a little bit. The most recent military exercise already happened a couple of months ago and the North Koreans did not object. The next scheduled one is many, many months away. We'll see what happens between now and then.

But simply saying he's not going to go ahead with something that wasn't going to happen for several months anyway isn't much of a concession. What will be -- what we need to look out for is what -- if the North Koreans try to play the same playbook that they played in the past. So, what they have done when they talked to the United States in particular is they -- they agree to a whole bunch of things, they insist on the United States taking, in all respects, the first step, the second step, the third step and they don't take their steps or they do it half-heartedly or they do it partially or they take --

CUOMO: Right.

ANTON: -- certain steps but they do other things in secret, behind walls that we don't see, that they we don't know about that they reveal later.

CUOMO: Right.

ANTON: That's the trap that they try to set. I think now -- they've played it on success of administration so many times that the U.S. government and this administration, they understand it and they know it.

They're completely aware of it and they're looking for it. So I would expect us not to fall for that again.

CUOMO: Well, look, optimism is certainly your mandate in this regard, but let's look at it a little closely.

The only thing that's interesting at this point about the promise not to have war games, also known as drills, was the president's rationale that he thinks they're too expensive anyway, and that you shouldn't pay to practice, which doesn't make sense to any military strategist. But let's not talk about that. We'll save that for another day.

On this point, you could argue that the United States has already given North Korea more than it ever has before. This isn't a meeting that other presidents could not have had, Michael, it's a meeting they chose not to have because they didn't want to give a despotic regime --

ANTON: OK.

CUOMO: -- parity with the United States.

ANTON: But look -- look, the premise of the question already -- you have a problem baked in there.

We've given them a lot in the past. The agreed framework of the early '90s, gave them many thousands of tons of fuel oil. We've relaxed sanctions that allowed them to access to the world financial system that, allowed them to build up their hard currency reserves.

CUOMO: But nobody ever gave them this diplomacy (ph).

ANTON: This -- this one meeting -- first of all, look, let's unpack that, too, a little bit. A lot of same critics were saying that the president shouldn't be meeting with Kim Jong-un because he's a bad guy, are the same people who, six months, were saying the president has ratcheted up tensions to dangerous levels.

Now we're talking, tensions are coming down. Can't really have it both ways. Either the president --

CUOMO: You guys are though, Michael. That's a very interesting point. You happen to be right. People who are saying he was talking too hot, now, have to think about it when they say, well, he's being too nice, fair point. But so, does that happen on your side of the ball.

Just one president ago, you crushed Obama for suggesting he would talk to Kim without preconditions. The president crushed him for doing anything with Cuba because he said, we will no longer stand quiet in the face of oppression, and then, he did exactly that with Kim.

(CROSSTALK) ANTON: -- remember, said he would talk -- President Obama said he would talk to any dictator without preconditions, not just Kim Jong- un, and we got several preconditions out of Kim Jong-un --

CUOMO: What?

ANTON: -- to do this.

Well, he didn't -- he withdrew his objection to the -- the spring military exercise. He said he would come to the table, prepared to talk about denuclearization and he said he would start to destroy sites.

Now, you know, you could argue about whether the site he destroyed was past its useful date. There's no way we're going to know that until we get inspectors in there. One thing we do know, he's going to have to destroy a lot more sites for this deal to work. One site isn't going to cut it.

But we came to the table, essentially having given nothing. In fact, we came to the table, having spent more than a year putting more pressure on the North Korean regime than has ever been put on them before.

And I think that's one of big reasons why Kim's at the table. I don't think he's ever -- that country has ever felt this level of a bite from sanctions that are -- that are depriving its access to the world economy and are making it feel real economic pain.

CUOMO: Well, you have to look at the stick and the carrot though, right, because he's never been given this invitation to share a stage with the president of the United States before, either, fair point?

ANTON: Well, his -- his father got very close. Remember that, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright --

CUOMO: Right, but it never happened.

ANTON: -- went to Pyongyang, and I think that there was a real desire, on the part of the Clinton administration, to see if they could move the ball further forward. They kind of ran out of time, that was at the tail end of the administration, and --

CUOMO: Right. So it never happened.

ANTON: -- and the father, the previous leader of North Korea or dictator of North Korea backed off. So, that's right, it has never happened. This is an unprecedented situation.

CUOMO: So that's a big give for the United States. It's a lot of respect to show a despot, and you walked away with the declaration, which I think is a generous term for it. Let's be honest, this is a letter of intent.

ANTON: It's the -- it's the beginning of a process. That's fair to say . It's the beginning of a process. CUOMO: Right. I mean, that's really all it is at its best and that's not a bad thing, necessarily. It's just, when it's exaggerated as something more than that, that this is an agreement, this is a deal --

(CROSSTALK)

ANTON: I don't know that anybody -- I don't know that -- I didn't hear the president exaggerate about it. The president --

CUOMO: The president said this is a great deal. It's a better deal than expected. There's been more progress than what's expected.

ANTON: He said -- he said they had made more progress in the talks, he didn't say that we had a denuclearization deal. I think he knows full well. I know he knows full well.

CUOMO: I never said denuclearization deal, I'm saying he called this a deal and the only thing that North Korea agrees to other than the return and really, respect of remains, of U.S. troops from the Korean conflict, is just an echo effect from what it already agreed to with South Korea. There is nothing new in this letter about what they'll do.

ANTON: Well, we know -- we know -- we know what the North Koreans want, OK? They want to get out from under the sanctions regime that the United States and our allies and partners have put on it. They want to get out from under certain U.N. Security Council resolutions that are very painful to it.

They're not going to -- the president made clear, they're not going to get those things before we see real steps towards denuclearization, that are going to be verified by outside experts, that the North Koreans are going have to let into their country and look at their sites. If they don't that, they're not going to get the things that they most want.

So, this is not a completed deal, by any means, but it opens the door to a real deal if the North Korean regime makes the calculation, that they are better off denuclearizing and taking advantage of the benefits that they could gain rather than staying with this very expensive nuclear program that is -- has the effect of starving their people, and scaring their neighbors --

CUOMO: Right.

ANTON: -- and increasing their isolation.

CUOMO: Well, look, one of the problems in dealing with this particular regime is they don't really care about starving their people now do they? I know the president said his people love him. I don't know where he's getting that because fear is not love. And the idea of not discussing this man's murderous tendencies and the human rights reforms that --

(CROSSTALK)

ANTON: -- to say that they didn't discuss it.

CUOMO: -- would have to be necessary.

We're told, the reporting is they didn't discuss it. What do you know?

ANTON: The president -- and I watched the press conference.

CUOMO: So --

ANTON: He said that they did discuss it. We know that the -- he said he brought up, and has brought up in the past the Japanese abductees. We -- look, the president just at the State of the Union --

CUOMO: I'm not talking about the Japanese abductees alone.

ANTON: That's --

CUOMO: I'm talking about hundreds of thousands of people that are detained. I'm talking about a man who murders his own family.

ANTON: OK, the president highlighted --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Willy-nilly, he starves his people.

ANTON: The president -- look, the president even brought up -- he brought up Otto Warmbier, whom we know was traumatically injured in North Korean --

CUOMO: He did bring up Otto Warmbier. I saw -- I saw him asked. I didn't hear him respond, what --

ANTON: I heard him. I saw him say that -- he said something to the effect that he thinks that it was a tragedy, what happened to Otto. But his death might not have been in vain, that that tragedy might have opened the door to some of this engagement.

Look, the North Koreans -- Otto Warmbier was traumatically injured in their custody --

CUOMO: Right.

ANTON: -- and he died very -- just mere days after --

CUOMO: Yes.

ANTON: -- being released. Bringing that up in public during the summit, you know, is not something that's going -- is likely to fall on -- or, is that the North Koreans want to hear. They don't want to hear the President of the United States talk about a victim that they unjustly held, traumatically injured and who died. Bad for their reputation.

CUOMO: Right, but -- ANTON: It's another way in which he highlighted -- he highlighted the

human rights abuses. Think back to the State of the Union address, the president had in the first Lady's gallery, a North Korean defector --

CUOMO: Right. That's different than this --

ANTON: -- who was also traumatically injured.

CUOMO: -- than this moment, right? I mean, even Kim said that, that there's been a lot of obstacles to get us to this point. Now, that's all in the past.

I'm just saying, it was expected that especially with a party that has been so -- so consistently against meeting with men like this because of what they represent in terms of lack of freedoms, that that wouldn't be brought up at the actual summit.

You weren't a little surprised by that?

ANTON: Listen, I'm taking the president at his word. He was the one in there in the one on one with the translators. He says they did talk about it.

I know that it's been talked about at the lower-levels, before the summit. This is the first time the two leaders have ever met. And --

CUOMO: There's nothing in the --

ANTON: -- something the president --

CUOMO: -- there's nothing in this letter about it.

ANTON: -- has been talking about in public.

CUOMO: There's nothing in this about it though.

ANTON: OK. Well, as I said, this is the beginning of a process. And remember, too, the purpose -- the core purpose of the meeting today was not to solve every problem --

CUOMO: True.

ANTON: -- with regard to North Korea, which are multiple and millions, it's to make progress on the denuclearization issue which is the most important threat facing the United States from that country, facing South Korea, facing Japan, facing the region.

CUOMO: Fair point. It's really interesting. Coming off the G7, the president made a point up there to have very tough words for the allies. He then goes and meets with somebody who's the opposite of an ally really anyway you want to analyze it.

And he has unusually and really the softest words I have ever heard shared about Kim Jong-un except by himself. What was the tactic employed there? (CROSSTALK)

ANTON: OK. Well let's look at this. Let's look at the track record. As we mentioned earlier in our conversation, president has also had some very harsh words for Kim Jong-un over the previous year and a half or so.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right. But what you say to man's face is different what you say about him. What you say to him is different than what you say about him.

ANTON: A meeting and a handshake, I don't think is too surprising.

CUOMO: But, Michael, hold on a second. I want to make sure you hear this point.

What you say about someone is different than what you say to their face. To his face, he said, you're talented, you're honorable, I trust you, your people love you. I've never heard any other leader of democracy speak about Kim Jong-un that way.

ANTON: How -- how else would you have the president in a -- in a meeting with a leader he's never met before and which he's trying to achieve something unprecedented speak to him? I don't think starting off with insults in some of the tough rhetoric that the president's used in the past would be appropriate at precisely that moment.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something that was written about in "The Atlantic" about what the Trump foreign doctrine is. And it comes down to three principles according to the writer.

The first one is no friends, no enemies. Everybody is equal to the president in the moment. If you're giving him what he wants he likes you, if not, he doesn't like you.

Now, this is a very capricious way to do foreign policy with established alliances. But do you believe that that's accurate? Is he a no friends, no enemies guy, we don't belong to any group?

ANTON: No. I think -- I think that was somebody attempting to paraphrase, if my historical memory serves me here, Pitt the Elder, summarizing England's foreign policy in 1750. There's no permanent friends, no permanent enemies. In other words, you have to take the situation as it comes.

A country that you're adversarial with in one moment, a decade later could be your best friend in a different emergency, and that this president was determined to see things in the circumstances, in the light of 2017, 2018, and not just say, if you were our staunch ally in 19-whatever but you're treating us very unfairly now, we're going to just keep looking back to 19-whatever and treating you the same way then.

CUOMO: No, I get the rationale. I'm just saying this is an administration official, a senior one, this is what they said.

The second one that was offered was: permanent destabilization creates American advantage. This does seem to be an echo of what we see with the president's mouth on a regular basis.

Does he believe that? That if I keep you on your toes, if I keep you guessing whether it's going to be good or bad for you, eventually, it will work out in my favor like it was a condo development deal.

(CROSSTALK)

ANTON: I think there's a difference between keeping people guessing, and keeping them on their toes, which I think the president does do and does think is valuable in certain circumstances. The difference between that and permanent destabilization, whatever that means, but that sounds like something an order of magnitude greater than anything the administration has pursued so far.

So, that quote seems to me a little overheated. But that's just my assessment.

CUOMO: Right. And I mean, look, if you just look at the facts on the ground though, I mean, what situation has the president followed through on and brought it to a common resolve on the international stage?

ANTON: Well, he's trying to follow through and bring to a common resolve this situation with Korean --

CUOMO: This was just the first step, he was calling him little rocket man and using like, you know --

ANTON: He was calling him Little Rocket Man, during that period --

CUOMO: -- gangster speak, saying best to not be messing with us, you know --

ANTON: Let's look back to what was going on in 2017, after a period -- a long period where the North Koreans did not test any missiles and did not test any nuclear devices. They started firing them off, serially, throughout that year.

CUOMO: Sure.

ANTON: Firing them over Japan, you know, making threats against U.S. territory and Guam.

CUOMO: Very provocative.

ANTON: Threatening American allies in the region, testing devices they said were thermal nuclear bombs, a hydrogen bomb, a really big nuclear weapon.

CUOMO: Dangerous, provocative.

ANTON: They were doing things they hadn't done in a long time, and, you know, being rhetorically honest about that, I think it's part of the thing that brought us to this point. It wasn't the -- you know, the old fashioned American responses of sort of being quiet, pretending it didn't happen.

CUOMO: True. He has been unorthodox.

(CROSSTALK)

ANTON: -- or we condemn in the strongest possible terms.

The president made it very clear that behavior was unacceptable, and by the way, that behavior was not just unacceptable to him or to us, or to the United States, it was unacceptable to all the countries in the region whom Kim Jong-un threatened.

CUOMO: Right. Well, the talk on both sides was seen as unacceptable of either region, right? People didn't like the president being that openly provocative either, because it was pushing him to have to act on those words.

Luckily it didn't come to that, luckily ostensibly, we're in a better place right now but we're going to have to see what happens because this is literally just a piece a paper, at this point. There's nothing in here that gives any promise of anything better to come.

The last one, which is an indelicate term, the Trump Doctrine is we're America, be blank female dog. So, is that an echo of just might makes right?

ANTON: No, first of all, it's not something I ever heard anybody say in my time in the Trump administration. And I don't quite know what it means. Yes, of course, we are America, whether you add an explanative after that or not. How that sums up a foreign policy doctrine, I don't know.

To me, what the Trump -- the best way to sum up the Trump Doctrine is the two words that he uses most often -- or did for a while: America first. It's a reorientation of foreign policy toward American interests. That to me is what the Trump Doctrine is, and was going all the way back to the opening days of his campaign.

CUOMO: Michael Anton, I appreciate you taking us through this, we all understand that it's just a first step. It was a mighty and historic photo-op, but we'll have to see what comes from it. Thank you for taking us through the thinking. Appreciate you being tested on this.

ANTON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Look, we've got a long way to go, hopefully, right? That means that things actually progress in a way that could be positive, we just don't know what will come next.

And President Trump can say he trusts Kim, but is there a legitimate basis for that? Here's what we do know: the president just did something and

Republicans are applauding something that they condemned just one president ago. Let's see who speaks truth on this in our great debate, next. Those are great debaters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Look, you haven't been able to miss the coverage in Singapore if you've been anywhere near any kind of electronic device. Many of President Trump's supporters on TV and in Washington are absolutely elated about the sit-down with Kim Jong-un.

But when President Obama once said that he would agree to meet with our enemies, including him, he was dragged through the mud by the same crowd, not to mention he was vilified for his nuclear deal with Iran. And now, they look to be trying to get the same thing with North Korea, same on restoring relations with Cuba. Donald Trump attacked him as saying, you can't tolerate this kind of oppression, then he meets with Kim Jong-un, and there is nothing in that letter about human rights violations.

Double standard? Listen to this. This is from NowThis News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you as a president meet with leaders of North Korea? Obama initially said, I'd meet with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Obama made his intentions crystal clear on the campaign trail.

BARACK OBAMA (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will meet not just with our friends but with our enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama likes talking to dictators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would meet with some of these mad men without any preconditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'm going to reach out to these crazy people around the world and try to get things done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is bowing and scraping before dictators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A remarkable turnaround.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Great debate, Van Jones and David Urban are here.

Dave, the whiff of partisan pooh-pooh is in the air, my brother. What happened to all that crushing criticism about meeting with dictators and no pre-conditions, no way? And then this and everybody is happy. DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Chris, there is a lot

packed in that segment right there, right, what you're talking about. You're conflating lots and lots of issues. So, let's just take a step back.

You know, Cuba doesn't have nuclear weapons aimed at the United States, capable of reaching the United States. So, let's just step back and take a look at why we got here and how we got here, right?

This president did not have the luxury that other presidents had in simply kicking the can down the road, whether it was President Bush, it was President Clinton, Bush 43, President Obama, all those gentlemen had the luxury of a lot of time to sit back and ponder what might work and what might not work.

This president was faced with a direct and immediate threat to our country and lots of other of our friends as this, you know, rogue regime developed nuclear weapons capable of reaching their countries and possibly, you know, our coast. So, President Trump was in a completely different situation than --

CUOMO: All right.

URBAN: -- any other president in history dealing with this issue.

CUOMO: All right. Van, do you see it that way, or do you see President Trump as someone who took brinksmanship to a whole new level using gangster speak and trash talk, telling North Korea that they were about to get both barrels?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, I definitely see it differently. First of all, let's take a step back if you want to take a step back.

CUOMO: Let's take a lot of steps back. Let's go all the way back.

JONES: You don't have to go back years and years. You just go back a week. Apparently now, we live in a world where Canada is our enemy. Canada is terrible and North Korea is wonderful -- has wonderful leadership.

So, we're in this whole completely topsy-turvy world where our friends are now being positioned as our enemies, our enemies as our friends, and you cannot deny that the level of just rank hypocrisy on the part of conservative commentators. And they literally are falling all over themselves for a deal that's not even a deal. It's a deal thinking about getting a deal that might have something in it that we don't know what it is.

And yet, the Iran deal, which is a real deal, which the entire world got together on, is considered trash. I mean, the whole thing is just complete partisan hypocrisy.

CUOMO: Dave?

URBAN: So listen, the Iran deal was terrible, not just -- this isn't just rank Republicans saying this, this is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. If I had the list in front of me, I'd read you the long list of Democrats, establishment Democrats, progressive Democrats, lots of Democrats who thought it was a terrible deal. Did not nothing to do --

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Wait, wait, hold on. It did nothing to address -- it did nothing to address their missile program, and more importantly, it did nothing to address their -- the IRGC's spreading terrorism around the world.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Look, you didn't even write it.

URBAN: Right, exactly, that's why it was a terrible deal.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Dave, and Trump didn't make human rights violations a big part of what they discussed in Singapore, right? You don't try to accomplish everything at once. That's your own argument.

URBAN: Chris, this is just the start. Chris, it just started -- buddy, it just started. It just started.

CUOMO: I totally get it. I totally get it.

But if President Obama had gone there, and I'm not a big false equivalency guy, but sometimes there's no other way to access the hypocrisy. If President Trump had gone in there and said, yes, I mentioned Otto Warmbier, I said I didn't die in vain, you know, we talked about some things. And there was nothing on the piece of paper they signed that called out this guy potentially to the closest thing to a true genocide force in the world today in that leadership position.

What would you have said?

URBAN: Right. So, you do -- no, to what point, Chris? I'm sorry.

CUOMO: There's only one I'm making. If Obama had done that, and on that piece of paper there was nothing saying this guy has to stop doing what he's doing, what would you have said?

URBAN: No, I would have said it's a start. You can't expect it at the beginning.

I criticized the Iran deal after the deal was inked, not during the process. Let's see what this process plays out. I don't think you're going to get a deal.

The president is not going to walk away from Otto Warmbier's parents. He's not going to walk away from the hundreds of thousands of people that have died in concentration camps and labor camps in North Korea. JONES: He already has.

URBAN: No, he hasn't. He just began.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Can you imagine what would happen if President Obama had gone to a dictator like this, a brutal, brutal genocidal thug like this and said, I'm honored to meet you? I mean, he literally just kind of did a head nod to an Arabian --

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: I wish President Obama did because we wouldn't be dealing with it now.

JONES: I thought it was my turn.

CUOMO: He shook Raul Castro's hand, Dave, and you made it sound like he took him to the prom.

URBAN: I did this, Chris?

CUOMO: Huh? I mean, you own the whole group when you're on this show, my brother. It's what it's supposed with you guys. You got to take the whole right and Van has got to take the whole left. He'll have his time, don't worry.

URBAN: I'm on CNN, not on Fox.

CUOMO: And we're happy to have you here.

But, look, here's what we're pointing out to. Van, finish your point, please?

JONES: But listen, language matters, positioning matters. I remember when Bill Clinton had to go and get somebody from North Korea, or maybe it was Al Gore had to get somebody, I can't remember which one it was --

CUOMO: Bill Clinton went there to deal with the two journalists.

JONES: Right. They were friends of Al Gore. They're journalists. Bill Clinton went over there, and he made sure he had the most dour countenance the entire time. He didn't even want a photograph of him smiling next to the president.

He was sending clear signals. This is a horrible person. I am doing this for political expedience. He didn't say, you're honorable, you're great, everybody loves you.

If President Obama had used that language, it would have been bedlam across the political spectrum and rightfully so because you don't praise ands flatter butchers. You don't have to be rude, but you don't have to set the tone and tenor that all you have to do in this world now is go and get you a couple of nuclear weapons and you could do whatever you want to your people and you'll get the president of the United States flattering you in a way he's never flattered half the United States' population.

URBAN: Again, let's wait and see. Let's wait and see what this deal, this president gets, versus what President Obama did with the Iran deal, totally ignoring Hamas and Hezbollah.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Listen, the IRGC is directly responsible -- the Iranian IRGC is directly responsible for the deaths of the marines in the Lebanon bombing and we did nothing about it.

CUOMO: But then you can't do -- and you can't do a nuclear deal with North Korea without having them stopped those human rights atrocities.

JONES: Exactly.

URBAN: They're going to have to, if it's going to have to happen, Chris. You're right.

JONES: Well, let's --

URBAN: The U.N. estimates there are roughly between 80,000 and 120,000 --

CUOMO: Yes.

URBAN: -- refuges, excuse me, prisoners in the labor camps right now.

CUOMO: Prisoners and those are just the four camps we know of.

URBAN: Right, and they're being tortured and it's horrific and it's been happening. You know, since when? Since the '50s.

The United States has turned a blind eye, shame on us, and the rest of the world has turned a blind eye to this since the '50s. We've done nothing.

JONES: Chris --

URBAN: Why all of a sudden is it President Trump's problem today? Where has it been last year and the year before?

CUOMO: But he's president now. It doesn't work like that. You don't have a president -- until this administration, you'd never had it where it was OK to say we didn't start the fire, it's always been burning since the world was turning. So, we're going to leave it alone. We'll do what we can, but it's not our problem.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You never would have had a Democrat get it out (ph), hold yourself to a higher standard just like you would the other side.

Let's switch topics, immigration, all right? We have a new hotbed to this dispute, Van Jones. First, we saw the attorney general take a move on preexisting conditions with health here. He said, we're not going to defend this part of the law anymore because the law doesn't exist anymore.

Now, it's about women specifically and how they want to tailor what the categories of asylum are. Domestic abuse doesn't count anymore. What could that mean for women who are trying to flee persecution and come to this country?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hold on a second, Dave. Why are you shaking your head?

Uh-oh!

(INAUDIBLE)

JONES: Luckily --

CUOMO: Go ahead, Van. Let's get his sound back.

JONES: Listen, I think --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hold on, bring Dave back, because I thought we were going to get, it was a conspiracy theory, but let's bring Dave back.

Dave, what were you shaking your head at?

URBAN: You make it -- listen, you make it sound like the attorney general is saying domestic abuse is something that's OK. It's not OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- political asylum for protection.

URBAN: No, listen, right, he's saying that political asylum is just that, right?

CUOMO: Asylum, not just political asylum. Persecution is category.

URBAN: Listen, OK, asylum in this country -- listen, in this country has been historically based on actions taken by the government, right? It's government-based actions against somebody because their race, their religion, you know, a large group of things, right? And domestic abuse, domestic violence has not been one of those traditionally.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But circumstantial, David. But to rule it out as an entire category, what if you're dealing with the women in North Africa and mutilation? You know, what if you're talking about some extreme sex and women want to run here? To prescribe a whole category?

URBAN: Let the Congress change the law. Let the Congress change the law.

CUOMO: Why don't you just not tailor it so narrowly as to exclude this, just for some political motive or partisan (ph)?

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Chris, domestic violence -- domestic violence is a horrific, horrific thing. In the United States, we can't -- listen, we're not doing a good enough job in the United States in the Violence Against Women's Act. Listen, the Violence Against Women Act has a tough time every time it gets brought up in the Congress, we have --

CUOMO: Deal with it here, don't deal with it there.

Van Jones, make a quick point. I got one more topic.

JONES: Well, I just want to say, it is, in fact, a political issue. It's the -- the fact that women are targeted for violence both by governments in their home, by some extreme religious groups is a political issue, and women fleeing for their lives because they do not want to be abused, sometimes with their children in tow, that's an asylum seeker.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: You got a chance to talk. You got a chance to talk.

You're putting that in there, but there could be non-government actors that cause people to flee, and I think it's important that we point out, yes, in the old sexist paradigm, where -- you know, men made the laws but didn't think about women's experience, it would have been a stretch. But in this world today, it is in fact true, and I think understood by many people, women being targeted as women for women -- what?

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Don't toss me in there. That's not fair. I don't have sexist views.

JONES: No, no, I'm saying in the old way. You said historically, and all I was saying is was, yes, historically, you might have been on firmer ground. But I think in today's world, people understand violence against women is political.

CUOMO: Yes, you would think that right now, you'd be expanding the mandate, not contracting it. It seems to be some kind of politics at play. That's what we're getting at here.

JONES: And I wasn't saying you're sexist. I'm just saying, I'm talking -- you said historically.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Dave, you're welcome here always as a fair broker. I got one more topic. And also a reminder, we have a documentary on domestic violence on HLN that's going to be coming out soon. You would not believe the scope of the problem in this country, let alone others where women are not protected at all by the government.

URBAN: Great. Exactly.

CUOMO: So, last topic: Bill Clinton.

Van Jones, no more redos, no more redos for Brother Clinton. He keeps digging himself into a deeper hole every time.

The rules have changed for what you can do to someone against their will? No, they haven't. No, they haven't. Why does he keep getting chances to do this, and does the left need to move on from Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton as being the top and the leaders of your cause.

Let's play his latest sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think the norms have really changed in terms of what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work. You don't have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other -- just walking around. That, I think, is good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Van?

JONES: Look, I think that he was trying -- I think the hard thing for Bill Clinton is that he has always been the gold standard in communication and being able to connect with people, to thread these needles, to bring people together. And there's something missing now in that ability of his.

And so if you listen to the whole thing in context, you can tell his heart is in the right place. He's really trying to make the case, but the word choice is just not proper. And so, I hate to see the guy get beat up, he could just be at that stage of his aging process where maybe he just can't be as precise as we need him to be, and -- but I think his heart was in the right place on that one.

The first two, I thought it was a swing in the wrong direction. Now he's trying to swing in the right direction but he still can't land it.

CUOMO: Dave, the point is politically there is a propping up on the Clintons by the left. They are needed on that side of the ball as leadership. But it seems like he's not getting it done on this issue. And it should matter to both sides that it makes you question whether or not it's time to find new figures that encapsulate what you're about as a party.

What's your take? URBAN: Well, yes. Well, Chris, as you know, look, there is a concept

in the law, res ipsa loquitur, right?

CUOMO: The thing speaks for itself.

URBAN: Right. So, that tape, I don't need to say anything about it. Your viewers, everyone watching, they thought they heard it, they know what he's saying, they know what he's trying to say, they know what he didn't say.

And, I think -- look, the Clintons, the Obamas, the Kennedys. We saw a Kennedy get rolled out in response to the president's State of the Union --

CUOMO: I don't know that Obama gets in that. He's still a young man and he doesn't need to be cast out in this. The other two can.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: My point is kind of dynastic figures in politics. Van and the folks in his party and part of the party got a lot of fresh faces. There are a lot of people who get elected nationwide.

Look at the Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, harken back to my --

CUOMO: There's a new generation.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: -- Pennsylvania.

New generation, right, there are a lot of young folks out there who are attractive, who are on message and who get it, and the party seems to be leaving them behind.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: We've got a lot of good talent but I would take any Obama back any day, just saying.

CUOMO: Yes, I know. Dave pulled a quick one there. He threw him there with the Kennedys and the Clintons. That was smart, Dave. I give you a point for that. That was good one.

JONES: I like (INAUDIBLE) too.

CUOMO: All right. Van, Dave, thank you very much. Good to have you both, as always.

URBAN: Chris, thanks.

CUOMO: All right. So, a Republican senator calls out members of his own party, saying they are too afraid to stand up to President Trump even on a question of fundamental principle. Senator Susan Collins, Maine, Republican -- there she is. She has opposed the president.

But what does she say about what Senator Bob Corker called out about his own party? We discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Sometimes you have to shake your head a little bit and take a reset. The need for a hard line on murderous dictators, the benefit of free trade with American allies, these are bedrocks of the Republican Party for generations.

Well, now, we have a president who flouts ideas and crickets from his party. Political expediency, hypocrisy, fear? What is it?

Long time Republican Senator Susan Collins is here. Let's ask her.

Always a pleasure, Senator. How are you?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Fine, thanks. Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, Senator, I want to play for you what Senator Corker said. Now, obviously, he has a bill. He is against the tariff structure that President Trump has designed. He want support, he believes his party should support.

Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Ninety-five percent of people on this side of aisle support intellectually this amendment. But no, no, no, gosh, we might poke the bear is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. We might poke the bear.

The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment. So, we're going to do everything we can to block it.

My gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority. And so, let's don't do anything that might upset the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Senator, is he right?

COLLINS: Senator Corker clearly deserves a vote on his amendment. It's a very legitimate issue that he's raising. What the president has done is invoke national security as a justification to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from some of our closest allies, like Canada and the European Union.

So, what Bob Corker is saying is that he wants to reassert the congressional role, the constitutional role of Congress in trade matters. He deserves them both. If people don't agree with his amendment --

CUOMO: They vote against it.

COLLINS: -- they can vote against it.

CUOMO: So, he's right in the micro. What about the macro, which is the reason they're not voting is just fear? They don't want to get sideways with Trump. Is that prevalent in your party?

COLLINS: Well, I've heard a lot of positive comments on Bob's amendment. So, we've got the defense authorization bill on the floor right now. Clearly, the president has a strong following among some base Republicans in this country, and there may be some of my colleagues who are leery of alienating them.

But we're in office to make hard decisions and to vote. The president has every right to lobby against Bob's amendment. He even threatened to veto it, but Bob deserves a vote.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right, but, you know, help me think it through, Senator, because if you're saying you hear lots of popular things or positive things, you said, about the Corker amendment, but they're not bringing it up for a vote, it seems to validate what he's saying, which is that unless you're on your way out, which Corker is, right, which Flake is, which Gowdy is on the House side, you don't speak truth to power with this president. And if you do you might get primary like we're seeing with Hanford (ph) and Roby now on the House side and people are afraid of that.

Is that the truth?

COLLINS: Well, a lot of primary's opponents are coming more from outside groups rather than being recruited by the president or his staff. What I think we've seen is the growth of groups on the far left and the far right who are demanding 100 percent compliance with 100 percent of their views 100 percent of the time.

So, I don't know that it's just the president that people are weary could produce a primary opponent. I think it's more of these outside groups on both the left and the right.

CUOMO: Can you imagine if you had a Democrat in office and they went up and got sideways with Canada and start talking about the prime minister of Canada the way -- and I know this is sensitive to you. You're up there in Maine.

COLLINS: Exactly.

CUOMO: You share a border with the Canadians.

But the idea of a president doing that with our closest ally geographically, and really, on so many different levels, nobody said anything to him about it.

COLLINS: I did. Well, I said something publicly. First of all, we should not -- CUOMO: It wasn't vintage Collins, though. I've had you come at me

with both barrels. That is not what it looks or sounds like.

COLLINS: We should not -- the president and his staff should not be alienating our closest allies, our long-time friends, our reliable allies and our biggest trading partners in the case of the Canadians.

CUOMO: And then they all had to watch him go to Singapore and say that Kim Jong-un is a talented man who he's honored to be with and has the love and respect of his people.

COLLINS: Well, let me say that there is no comparison between Justin Trudeau and Chairman Kim. There's just no comparison at all.

CUOMO: Of course not. But if your allies are getting treated like your enemies and your enemies are all of a sudden allies, what kind of message does that send, Senator?

COLLINS: Well, I think the president was not focused on the G-7 meeting, but his mind was on the summit to come with North Korea. And I think that's very unfortunate, because those allies are important.

CUOMO: Do you think he took the G7 off? What do you think, he was playing Sudoku up there? Was he planning his next trip? What do you think he was doing at the G-7?

COLLINS: Well, clearly he came late, he left early. And --

CUOMO: He said he wanted to add Russia to the discussion.

COLLINS: Which is a terrible idea because the reason that Russia was kicked out of the G-7 is because it illegally annexed Crimea, and that has not changed. And to get back to Canada, you know, the state of Maine has had a lot of trade frictions with Canada over the years than we do right now. But we still count Canada as not only our closest neighbor, but also as a very important friend, and we don't want to jeopardize that friendship as a nation.

CUOMO: You know, that doesn't -- that theory while reasonable and probably resonant with much of the audience, it gets no love in the White House, Senator. They say they'll be there. Canada knows where its bread is buttered.

Germany knows. France knows. They get it. They know they need us. It doesn't matter what the president says.

Do you have that kind of confidence?

COLLINS: Well, I believe the countries you just named are always going to be our close allies. After all, the relationship that we have goes back a very long time, and we're not only allies, we are truly friends. So, I think we can get over what was a very unfortunate incident and please that Mr. Navarro has apologized for his comments. That was needed, and I think we can get over this rough spot.

But, do I agree with the way the president handled at the G-7 meeting and come back, no, I do not.

CUOMO: Understood. Senator Collins, thank you very much. When we get more meat on the bones of what's happening with North Korea, we'll bring you back. You're always welcomed here to discuss what matters to the American people and your constituents. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. From Susan Collins to Don Lemon standing by with a preview of "CNN TONIGHT."

How are you doing, my friend?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": I'm doing great.

Chris, a new world can begin today, one of friendship, respect and goodwill. Be a part of that world where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened. That is a Hollywood video that the president showed to Kim Jong-un.

CUOMO: Did you see a guy dunking in the video?

LEMON: Oh my gosh, yes. Clearly --

CUOMO: Who was that?

LEMON: Was that doctor --

CUOMO: Was that stock footage? That's supposed to be Kim Jong-un, right?

LEMON: It is Kim Jong-un.

CUOMO: You can dunk home peace.

LEMON: Maybe it was the guy you interviewed last night. Who knows?

CUOMO: The Worm? You would have known it was him.

LEMON: But, Chris, seriously, we got a propaganda expert on, someone's who's used to make in these videos. He's going to go through it frame by frame. And before I let you go, I just want t tell you quickly, you know Mark McKinnon.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: Political genius. You know, Showtime's "The Circus". He's going to be on talking to us about everything that has to do with North Korea, what do we really get out of this, and why is the president saying good thing about a murderous dictator?

Then he's coming home. Someone talks smack about him, and then he comes home to say bad things about people like Robert de Niro. It doesn't make sense. We'll talk about all that, see you in a little bit.

CUOMO: Great guest. Don Lemon, thank you very much.

All right. So, we just saw a big legal decision. The AT&T merger with Turner, the judge says it goes through. But there's a lesson to be drawn from what happened in this unsuccessful attempt, the reason it happened. What it means, why you should care. I'm going to give it to you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME and our final fact.

So, the government lost its case to stop the AT&T/Time Warner merger, but we need to focus on why this happened in the first place. So, Time Warner as you know is CNN's parent company and that is certainly something that the president is painfully aware of. Too much concentration of power in the hands of too few, that's a quote from the president, his basis for opposing as stated. A merger, again, that he went out of his way to describe as being about CNN.

The judge today exposed the hallow nature of the government's case, holding the federal government is too thin a reed for this court to rely on. The factual basis wasn't there, there was never got precedent for this kind of action despite the government's policy arguments. So, what was this about?

Here's my take, the most obnoxious part of this was the premise, too much power in the hands of too few. The president's resistance to that notion is defied by almost every move he's made in office. Think about it -- every autocrat he comprised, every fat cat cabinet member that he adds to what he calls the swamp, a tax that award the rich by simple math, stripping regulations to allow big business to pollute and exploit others.

His attack of the merger was never about keeping power from the few, it was about reinforcing the power of one, President Donald J. Trump.

Now, be clear, I'm not defending the deal, the justice system did that. Somebody is going to own CNN. Who that is really doesn't matter to me.

But here's what should matter to all of us: if President Trump is going to try foul because he believes the Russia probe seems to be politically motivated, then he should be just as careful about his own use or abuse of power. With great power comes great responsibility, we've all heard the famous words of Roosevelt about that, and about our government.

So, be clear, what happened here was wrong. It was wrong on the facts and it was rotten in its inception, and that is the kind of thing that we're going to call out on this show. That's what #letsgetafterit is all about. If we can't agree on what is factual and what is feeling, what is right and what is wrong, we're never going to get anywhere.

So, that's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon, the man, starts right now.