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Trump's Pledge to Stop "Provocative" Military Exercises, Provokes Alarm and Confusion in Seoul and Washington; President Trump to Senator Graham: We Had A Good Initial Meeting with Kim Jong Un; Interview With Sen. Lindsey Graham; Judge Rules In Favor of AT&T/Time Warner Merger; Puerto Rico Ordered to Release Death Records to CNN. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, first came the handshake and it was not easy getting there. And now comes the harder part, the much harder part.

Good evening from Singapore where less than 24 hours ago, President Trump and Kim Jong-un shook hands, talked a while and signed a joint declaration, capping the first U.S. North Korea summit ever.

Just the fact of it happening is being appraised for reducing tensions. At the same time, questions are growing about what was signed as well as what the president is saying about what was signed and doing. Is the president for instance trading concrete concessions for a vague commitment on nuclear disarmament?

The president says no.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he's denuking the old place and he's going to start very quickly. I think he's going to start now.


COOPER: Well, the joint statement does not say that. In it, North Korea pledges and I'm quoting here, quote: to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula which is something the two sides interpret very differently.

The president glossed over that difference when asked and it appears to be either rewarding or encouraging Kim by halting joint military exercises with our ally South Korea, something the president refers to as war games.


TRUMP: We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money unless and until we see that the future negotiation is not going along like it should. But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that came as a surprise in Seoul. And, in fact, Secretary of State Pompeo is on his way there in the next few hours to talk to South Koreans through the deal.

Questions too about whether the president is merely buttering up the North Korean dictator to make a better deal as Senator Marco Rubio says or going overboard. Take a look at what President Trump has said about Kim Jong-un just over the past 24 hours. And keep in mind, it's the same man he was calling little rocket man just a few months ago.


TRUMP: He's got a great personality.

He is very talented.

Great personality and very smart. Good combination.

He's a, you know, a funny guy.

I leaned he's a very talented man.

He loves his people. He loves his country.

He was really very gracious.

He's a very smart guy.

We've had a really great term together, a great relationship. He's a great negotiator.

I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea.

And wants to do what's right.

He trusts me, I believe, I really do.

We got along right from the beginning. I think he liked me and I liked him.

He's negotiating on behalf of his people. A very worthy, very smart negotiator. Absolutely. And we had a terrific day.


COOPER: Well, the president also said that he will at the appropriate time invite Kim to the White House and visit Pyongyang as well.

Late today, North Korea's state news agency, no strangers to spin to put it mildly, but a twist on that replacing the word appropriate with convenient.

And I'm quoting here from North Korean state news. Kim Jong-un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time and Trump invited Kim Jong-un to visit the U.S. The two top leaders gladly accepted each other's invitation.

So, there's certainly a lot to digest in the hour ahead.

Joining us now is South Carolina's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who got a call today from the president aboard Air Force One.


COOPER: Senator, thanks so much for being with us.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

COOPER: I don't know if you can, but what did you and the president discuss today and how did the president seem?

GRAHAM: Well, he wanted Air Force One to go faster. I think he's ready to get home. I said I'm on it.

No, he was in a good mood. He thought he had a good initial meeting. He's under no illusion that this is going to end quickly, but he believes that Kim Jong-un is going to take a take a deal to give up his nuclear weapons if we can convince him his regime is secure and his people are more prosperous. He believes that he is on the path to convincing Kim Jong-un that he's better off without nuclear weapons than with them. Time will tell.

COOPER: The president says he trusts Kim Jong-un. I know you haven't met him. Do you trust him? Do you think the U.S. should trust him?

GRAHAM: No. I mean, you know, this is the third time they promised to give up nuclear weapons. Prior to this, they just, you know, promised to give up and they build up.

What's different? I think Trump is different in the eyes of North Korea and China. I think his standing with North Korea is different than other presidents and we'll see what happens.

COOPER: Earlier today, I heard you say that any agreement that the president makes has to be signed off by Congress.


COOPER: I'm wondering, did you raise that issue with him today? Is that something that that he's an agreement with as well?

GRAHAM: We talked about that on the golf course before he went over, and we talked a lot about North Korea. What you need to understand, Anderson, that he rejects containment of North Korea.

There's a line of thought out there let's go ahead and give him his missile program and his nuclear weapons and tell him if he ever uses them against the United States, we'll wipe him off the map.

The president doesn't like that construct nor do I because I think he'll sell whatever he uses in the future. He's got plutonium bombs. He'll have hydrogen bombs. He'll have a bunch of missiles, not a few. So, the president has taken that approach off. He's in the denial mode. I'm going to deny him the capability to hit America with a nuclear-tipped missile. So, that's where President Trump is coming from.

But we did talk about a deal would have to come to Congress. He says, if I can't negotiate deal that I would be proud to send to Congress, then it's probably a bad deal.

COOPER: Are you concerned about the lack of details in this agreement? The president has long asserted North Korea, you know, has to agree to complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. Neither the word verifiable or the word reversible are anywhere in this agreement.

In fact, in the past agreements as you've mentioned which were broken by the North Koreans, there has even been more specific language.

GRAHAM: Yes, not yet. I think what people need to understand is President Trump feels the need to try everything he can so we can abort a war that nobody wants but would maybe necessary to stop a threat to the homeland.

Here's what happened: President Trump has put himself in a box and Kim Jong-un has put also put himself in a box. You know, by meeting with the president and shaking his hand and having all this lavish praise heaped on, and can you imagine what President Trump would do if Kim Jong-un tries to play him like they've done for the last 30 years,

And can you imagine how the Trump presidency would be viewed if Trump capitulated and changed his mind and just gave them the nuclear weapons that they've been pursuing? I think -- I think we're in a spot now where the status quo is off the table.

COOPER: So, you've said that the only other option on the table for North Korea if they don't denuclearize is a military option.


COOPER: Is there a realistic military solution when it -- when it comes to North Korea? Obviously, the, you know, the death toll estimates in South Korea alone are tremendous.

GRAHAM: Well, that goes back to the central theme of are you OK with the containment? I'm not. I think they will proliferate or sell anything they build. They've done that in the past and it's too risky to allow them to have more nuclear weapons.

Here's what I think about a military option. It'd better be the last resort because it'd be devastating, but this regime would be utterly destroyed. You don't fire one shot you go in to take them out. Nobody wants that, but if you're not willing to do that, you'll never get a peaceful resolve.

And I think President Trump is willing to do that as a last resort and I hope we never get to that day. COOPER: I wonder what you think of the president sort of attitude toward international alliances. There's -- you know, we certainly saw all that happened in Canada, but also, you know, the information we have so far seems like the South Koreans were not informed in advance that the president was talking about stopping, at least temporarily, joint military exercises which he called war games and using the North Korean term provocative.

GRAHAM: Yes, you know, here's what I would say that suspending military exercises to send a signal to North Korea that we're going to give you the space to make a good decision about ending this conflict, it's OK with me. We'll continue to train, but joint exercises are designed to let North Korea know that if you get in a war with us in South Korea, you're going to lose.

I don't mind suspending these exercises to give some breathing space. I would very much oppose withdrawing our forces from South Korea as part of this deal or any other deal because it's a stabilizing influence on Asia.

Let's give President Trump a chance. He's unconventional. Let's see if he can do something better than people before him. I think he's got a chance to bring this to a conclusion because I do believe Kim Jong-un believes he will be better off without nuclear weapons if he can get the right deal.

COOPER: The notion of a cost-savings, which is something the president --

GRAHAM: Yes, that's ridiculously.

COOPER: -- has talked about obviously in the past, but he talked about that today. You're saying that's ridiculous, the idea stopping these exercises are cost savings.

GRAHAM: Here's what I'm so I support stopping the exercises to give North Korea some breathing space to see if we can get a deal. It's a gesture on our part that, OK, we're going to ratchet this thing down let's see if we can work at our differences. But the money we spend training with our allies is money well spent.

We spend about one or two billion dollars to keep our troops in South Korea. South Korea spends most of the money. It's not a burden onto the American taxpayer to have a forward deployed force in South Korea. It brings stability. It's a warning to China that you just can't take over the whole region.

So, I reject that analysis that it costs too much but I do accept the proposition, let's stand down and see if we can find a better way here.

COOPER: And just finally, do you think it's appropriate for the president to say that Kim is someone who quote loves his people given all the human rights abuses that we know he's committed against his people? GRAHAM: I don't think he loves his people. I think he loves himself. And I think the difference between Kim Jong-un and a radical Islamist is that they want to die for their cause, Kim Jong-un doesn't.

He wants live a good life. He wants security. Above all else, he wants to be secured, him and his inner circle.

If Donald Trump can provide the security he is seeking and a prosperous North Korea by giving up his nuclear weapons, he will do it.

[20:10:05] And here's this choice: you need to take that route or we're going to go to the military option to take your nuclear capability off the table. Our homeland will not be threatened by you any longer. We're going to end this and we hope to end it in a peaceful way.

But no, I'm not under any illusion about who this guy is. Remember Otto Warmbier, the president mentioned him.


GRAHAM: You know, he was murdered. He didn't die in jail. He was murdered by the North Koreans.

But the president can't rewrite history. I am willing to do almost anything within reason to bring this to a conclusion peacefully. I'm willing to give this guy security guarantees to make him feel like he can't give up his weapons, I'm willing to help him economically if he will give up his missile and nuclear program.

I don't want a war. You know, I don't mind lavishing praise on him if it gets us to where we want to go because we're going to end this one way or the other. It has to come to an end.

And peace is the best chance under Trump because I think North Korea believes that he will go to war if he has to, and if they ever doubt that, we'll never get an agreement.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Graham, I appreciate your perspective. Thanks so much for joining us.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to talk down to CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, who's with me here in Singapore, as well as CNN global affairs analyst, Ambassador Joseph Yun, and CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Christiane, you heard Senator Graham being quite frank about his doubts about the regime but also hopeful about the possibility of --

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we really heard very clearly that Senator Graham is giving the very positive side of this, and there is that positive side, which is about talking and allowing space for some kind of talk and negotiation that while you're doing that, it obviously, you know, you're not in the war framework at that time. And I think after all these months and all these years of high tension, people believe that once you've opened that door towards talking, then it makes it more difficult to go straight back to the war thing.

But I do -- you know, obviously he's spoken to the president. I think that there are many, many analysts who are concerned that there was no promise and no detail from the North Koreans to even declare their nuclear weapons, even declare their missiles, much less say specifically that they're going to give them up how, when, what and where, verifiably.

So, I think that that's the issue that does concern a lot of people and the senator said we would never accept containment, the president would never accept containment. But there are analysts who say maybe that is what's going to happen in the short term, even in the medium term, he's never going to give up his nuclear weapons. He might not deploy them, he might not test them anymore, but we may be forced to, you know, endure some kind of arms control regime.

COOPER: Ambassador, you spent your career negotiating at times what did the North Koreans, sitting across the table from them. You've had some time now to reflect on what happened yesterday. Well, how do you see it?

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, we do have that advantage and we got some good sleep, unlike our colleagues in Washington and elsewhere. I think -- you know, I really share Senator Graham's our skepticism whether Kim Jong-un is serious because there was nothing as Christiane mentioned that came out yesterday.

You know, yesterday, we saw a lot of diplomatic pomp and it was great to see the two leaders getting along. But let's also remember that these are the two leaders who got us to bloody nose, who got us into brink of war. Now, we're saying their relationship will solve the problem. And, you know, we're right to be skeptical.

You know, on the one hand, on Kim Jong-un's part, he has offered nothing. He did offer before the summit in order to get to summit, a ban on testing or stopping testing, freeing three hostages. But at the summit yesterday, I saw nothing that he offered, you know?

COOPER: It's interesting, Jim, because the president clearly believes Kim Jong-un is prepared and planning to get rid of it -- to denuclearize. The regime has now started putting out statements about their portrayal of what took place here. They don't really talk about denuclearization. They're focusing on the stopping of what they call war games.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's interesting, whether he believes it, he's at least willing to give it a chance, right, and to risk enormous diplomatic capital and risk -- you know, it's a remarkable step for a president to take, to sit across from the North Korean leader. The president is taking a risk here. I spent the last 24 hours speaking to members of previous administrations who made deals with the North Korean. So, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, one of them even sitting next to me right here.

But they have unanimously and, of course, those are Democrats and Republicans, their unanimous concern is the ones we've expressed here. There's no specificity from the North Korean side on any of the issues that the Trump administration itself had said were key going into this -- timeline, verification irreversibility. I mean, even the most basic step of cataloguing North Korea's nuclear weapons not taken, which would be the most basic step at the beginning of a nuclear negotiation.

[20:15:08] This is what we have and therefore, you could begin discussions as to how you get rid of them.

It was interesting listening to Lindsey Graham, though, there, because he said something of a marker down for the president. He's been quite a cagey operator here, very tough on North Korea, willing to give the president leeway here, respecting the moves the president is taking. But he said there, you know, this will be defining for President Trump if North Korea makes a fool of him, right, and keeps its nuclear weapons there.

It's an interesting -- I thought he threw something of a marker down there for the president.

COOPER: Got to take a quick break. We're going to continue with the panel ahead.

Also speaking of remarkable steps that Jim Sciutto put it, that Hollywood style movie trailer that the president played for Kim Jong- un, we now know who was behind it. We'll talk about that.

And sadly, CNN has just obtained new information that officials were trying to keep from the public on deaths in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. We'll bring that to you, ahead on 360.


COOPER: Whatever you may think of it, the summit here made history in many ways.

One aspect that appears to have broken with history instead of just stating positions or reciting diplomatic talking points, the president laid out his position in part using a video. It wasn't just any video. It was kind of a Hollywood style movie trailer purporting to show what a post-nuclear North Korea could look like. We've since learned that the National Security Council actually produced the video, it's because everyone's a producer these days.

Here's a portion of it.


REPORTER: Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity, a new story, a new beginning, one of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny. A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with

one chance that may never be repeated. What will its use? To show vision and leadership, or not.


COOPER: And just in case you are actually wondering, that is real, that actually was shown by presidents apparently to Kim Jong-un and then also was shown at the press conference. Siskel and Ebert sadly are no longer with us or however our panel is.

Ambassador Yun, in previous meetings in North Koreans, have you ever played videos or seen anything like that on the diplomatic front?

YUN: This is the first. It is also historic, you're right.

COOPER: Does it work?

YUN: I tend to doubt it. I really think -- you know, Kim Jong-un, he is a dynasty country. He's the third in a generation. He's a god- like figure in his own country.

So, all these talk about, you can be wealthy, he's like what, I'm pretty wealthy, thank you, you know?

COOPER: You really can't get much wealthier in just in terms of, I mean, you could, but --

[20:00:00] YUN: He owns the country.

COOPER: He owns the country.

YUN: Yes. So, I really doubt it will appeal to him. I worry actually it's the other way around. Are they trying to buy me off, you know?

COOPER: That's what Kim might be thinking.

YUN: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: It is interesting, I mean, Christiane, to hear the president talk about this in real estate terms saying, look, you know, I said to Kim, look, you know, you have these beautiful beaches. You see them when they're firing cannons. You could put condos there, think about, about that. It's not that --

AMANPOUR: I thought that was -- that was really interesting. It obviously goes back to the essence of President Trump's DNA. That is -- that is -- that is the world he's inhabited for the last, you know, 60 years or so, 50 years since he's been a real estate magnate.

COOPER: Sorry, in fact, like we have him saying that. I just want to play that for our viewers in case they missed it from the press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: They have great beaches. You see that whenever they're exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, boy, look at that view, wouldn't that make a great condo behind? And I explained and I said, you know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective.


COOPER: They talked about a location between South Korea and China being an ideal location.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and, of course, it is. I mean, it's fabulous real estate around here. But there are actual questions as to whether Kim actually would want to liberalize like that and thus further threaten his own survival once the people get a taste of something that's different than a hermit kingdom and then a totalitarian regime. So I think that's a real big question as Joseph was saying.

And I think also that, you know, we've been really trying to understand and delve into everything that was said in the press conference. And one thing that always comes up is that certainly with this presidency, that what he does is better, more effective, more comprehensive, smarter than any other president in the history of the United States of America.

And I think what we've seen and we've discussed this that none -- this declaration was definitely not up to what many others have signed, and I also think that it's a real shame that the partisanship in America because other presidents have offered to meet with the North Korean leadership and have been trashed. They were Democratic presidents, people like President Obama.

And even recently President Clinton has been saying on his recent sort of book tour that in 2000, he was invited, he would have met with Kim Jong-il, but he was so busy doing at that time the Camp David, trying to get the Israelis and the Palestinians together in 2000, that he felt that he had to try to, you know, get that bird in hand. Of course, it failed that effect, but he never came to me, but he was willing to meet with Kim Jong-il as well.

So, I think, if the U.S. could get past this deeply partisan nature of their foreign policy, it might actually help to have everybody on board to actually have a coherent foreign policy and work on steps between administrations.

COOPER: It is extraordinary, Jim, that the idea of halting these joint military exercises, which have been a critical part of the U.S. South Korea relationship for a very long time in critical to the security of South Korea was not discussed apparently with South Korea prior to the president talking about at the press conference.

SCIUTTO: Or with his own defense secretary. James Mattis said three hours before this meeting in his words, he spoke with reporters, it would be premature to discuss the removal of troops from the South Korean peninsula. That's the defense secretary.

He understands -- and Lindsey Graham said the same thing, because it's about South Korea security, but it's also about a U.S. military peacekeeping presence and the view of the U.S. in Asia. It's as much about China as it is about North Korea. So, that would be a tremendous concession and a change to the U.S. -- to U.S. power in the region.

And just one more note on the presidency. You know, into the video, I did say when the video came out, I had to check because I thought it was a parody, you know? I honestly thought it was a parody video.

It is -- there is substance behind the message because an essential part of the quid pro quo is, if you enter the world of nations, you can have a wealthier, more prosperous nation. But when you couple that with the president's comments about how tough it was that the situation Kim Jong-un faced when he came to power, how he respects him, he was just 26 years old, it raises real questions about whether the depth of the president's understanding of North Korea, right?

This is a -- this is a brutal dictator, the third in line in a brutal dictatorship who treats his people horribly, still does today, that hasn't changed.

COOPER: There's gulag like prisons, abortions.

SCIUTTO: Forced abortions, you know, killing relatives, right, and sometimes with, you know, chemical weapons, does the president truly imagine that if you offer condos on the beaches that that dynamic is going to change what this leader?

AMANPOUR: I think what's really important right now, the president has been a norm buster. There's no doubt, right? You saw the G-7. We've seen all of this kind of things.

You know, Lindsey Graham summed it up. He really did. He said the president and the Kim Jong-un have put themselves in boxes. Their personal capital is at stake right now.

Everything that President Trump has banked his presidency on, the disruption theory, the chaos theory, the flattery in order to get somewhere else theory, we're going to see whether it works.

[20:25:02] This is an ultimate test case of that method of presidency. And I think that will be a really interesting route as we watch to see whether that works.


AMANPOUR: Does this disruption work? Is it just disruption and chaos?

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, Ambassador Yun, Jim Sciutto, as well.

More ahead on the nature of the North. President Trump says he did talk about human rights with the North Korean dictator, his country as we talked about has a long, extensive history of crimes against humanity. We don't know any of the details of that conversation. Just ahead, I'll talk with the regional human rights expert and CNN correspondent who's been inside North Korea 18 times just in recent years.


COOPER: Well, no one knows yet exactly how or when these extremely delicate and detailed negotiations with North Korea will end. This is really just the beginning. But to get to this point, President Trump had to do something that some Republicans and the conservative media had derided President Obama for even thinking about in the first place.

Here's Mr. Obama way back in 2007 when he was running for president, talking about negotiations with decidedly unfriendly leaders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to meet separately without precondition during the first year of your administration in Washington or anywhere else with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen is in the crowd tonight.

Senator Obama?

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would, and the reason is this that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.


COOPER: Well, tonight, it's possible. We're on the verge of a new era with North Korea or we may not be.

Here to help you navigate through all the underbrush are two of the most experienced people that we know, former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, author of the new book "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence". Also, David Gergen, who served at several presidents, both Republican and Democrat.

David, you heard what then-candidate Obama said that that was in 2007, this is now. Why do you think you don't really hear Republicans saying now what they said about President Obama back then? Is it because of the nature of the threat has changed?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. It is because who is in charge has changed. And that is that we have moved to a Republican President and do everything we can to protect him.

But I must say Anderson, overall, I do think that Republicans and the press really ought to give the President more credit. As you well know, Winston Churchill came to the White House in the mid-'50s during the Eisenhower administration, and he said, "It is always better to jaw-jaw than to war-war." And that has been a guiding principal for many presidents since. It is better to sit down. And I think in this, it was better to sit down than to have the continuing rattling of the case, sense we might have impending Armageddon between the two countries.

So this was good and I think the press ought to be responsive to it. Having said all that, there are lots and lots of issues that need to be resolved and I don't think the President is getting the kind of political lift that he might have anticipated from this meeting.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I mean certainly at time, been evoke the critic of this President but I know -- I heard you say on the air earlier to David's point you actually think this is a step in the right direction, jaw-jaw, less war-war?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right, Anderson. I do. It just struck when I was in North Korea in 2014 and engaged with senior North Koreans and it's just stuck me how stuck on their narrative they were and how stuck we were on our narrative. And emblematic of that were the talking points that I was assigned to recite to the North Koreans and the first line was you must denuclearize before we talk to you.

The only way this narrative was going to change if I think if the bigger partner, meaning the United States changed it. And to President Trump's credit, he has done that. So we are in a much better place as David indicated where we are on a diplomatic path as opposed to where we were, say, six or eight months ago. So that's the only real solution here in my mind.

But remember, Kim Jong-un is not term limited and he is in it for the long game and I think President Trump is more in it for the immediate self-gratification. And as David alluded all kind of issues here, not the least of which are the concession on war games "air" intended here.

And I might say, having served in Korea myself, a couple of comments about why these games, so-called are important. First of all, the North Koreans well recognize that those exercises are defensive in nature. What they do every year is posit an invasion from the north to the south and North Koreans understand that.

And they hype it, as very provocative phraseology by the way which I think President Trump picked up from Kim Jong-un because it's the very same phraseology they used with me and with others about how provocative those exercises are in their minds.

Operationally, the reason for them, why they are important is, those 28,500 troops that we have in South Korea they're all there mostly on one or at most two year tours. So there's a constant turnover and that is why it is important to do those exercises every year and of course this agreement was not very specific on what the administration been hyping about a complete irreversible verifiable denuclearization.

So I think that game here --


CLAPPER: -- The winners were North Korea and China, particularly the losers probably the Republic of Korea and most certainly Japan. So the bottom line for me is the well-worn cliche is the devil is in the details and to use the phrase of the President himself, we will see what happens. Two unanswered questions and I'll stop.

COOPER: Yes, I mean --

CLAPPER: -- is what will it take --


CLAPPER: -- for North Korea to feel secure, without nuclear weapons and that question apparently didn't get answer. And we still don't have a definition of denuclearization and does that both ways.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, David, there has been a lot of comparison of President Nixon's unprecedented visit to China, certainly China and North Korea toward very different stage of development but, you know, there was the change in the relationship between the U.S. and China at the time. I wonder from someone who served in the Nixon administration, what do you make of that comparison?

GERGEN: I think there is a parallel but I think it's farfetched to say this was a Nixon trip to talk to the North Koreans. And I was there in the White House when President Nixon went to China. And it was dramatic but it was carefully thought through, there was a great deal more substance and that actually did changed history. The meeting itself came to changed history. It pried the Chinese loose from their embrace with the Russians. And in effect, the United States adopted a divide and conquer strategy under Nixon, which paid off in the end as it hope in that meeting first Kissinger went and then Nixon went with him, in the very productive meeting.

[20:35:31] In this case, Anderson, I think the fact that they went in with vague, you know, preparation I didn't really focused on what they were going to try to get out of it on the American side and left early. So they didn't -- didn't complete time be very specific and I think that's -- you know the President in part was doing this for his political fortunes back home as well as for gaining peace.

And I think he really hopes this was going to give him a lift in the midterm elections. And it is so vague and Republicans are sufficiently skeptical even though they've celebrate the President. In fact, they sit down with them. They are skeptical about the outcome, that I just don't see how in the next four or five months before the election they can turn this into a big winner on the trail the way they had hoped. I think it falls short of what the President wanted when he went.

COOPER: Interesting. James Clapper, David Gergen, I appreciate it.

Coming up next we're going to tackling the question of human rights in North Korea where the President Trump is crossing (ph) over the brutal nature of Kim Jong-un's regime or is it part of his negotiating strategy. We'll be right back.


COOPER: You saw at the start at the broadcast President Trump was full of praise for North Korea's Kim Jong-un. At the conclusion of the summit here talking about someone he had been only meeting face to face for a few hours.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's got a great personality. He's a funny guy, he's very smart, he's a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I'm surprised by that, but he loves his people.

[20:40:07] His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They're going to put it together, and I think they're going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people -- that they're so hard working, so industrious.


COOPER: North Korea of course is a nation with documented history of extreme human rights abuses. The United Nation reported in 2014 said there was abuses "do not have any parallel in the contemporary world." Among the abuses the U.N. found murder, torture, slavery and mass starvation.

Part of George W. Bush Presidential Center today, tweeted out this quote from a man who lived in a North Korea prison camp from age nine to 19, "The majority of the prison camps are meant for permanent incarceration. Analysts think there are about 200,000 men, women, and children in the camps."

With me now is CNN's Will Ripley, who had been to North Korea 18 times in recent years. Also, Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.

It is fascinating, Will, to hear the President talking about the fervor the North Koreans people have for their leader, the love they have for him and the love that he has for them. Obviously, you see that in videos how real it is though --

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, I do think some of it is real. I think there is -- there are people inside North Korea. I mean, that happened what they would consider a good quality of life. If you fit the mold, if you straight and want to have one or two kids in a government job and you are lucky enough to live in a city like Pyongyang and you're loyal and you make sure that everybody knows it and then you go to the party meetings, you know, that life is OK for some people. But if you are outside of the box or if you have a different viewpoint, or you want to do something different with your life than what is allowed, and there's only one path allowed in North Korea, obviously it's very difficult situation for something like that.

COOPER: I mean, Phil from a human right standpoint, as much you do, how bad is North Korea?

PHIL ROBERTSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ASIA DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, we consider that one of the worst in the world. I mean, there has very few other countries that have goa lags (ph) in the mountains where people are sent on a one-way trip. I mean, these political prison camps the one we saw are known for just working people to death. And that's what they're for. They don't even try to rehabilitate these people.

So when you are talking about North Korea, I mean it is the yardstick that everything else is compared to, you know, and everything is better. We really just see not much of a hope for improvement in human rights unless there is sustained appeasement from the top administration which we don't really see at this point.

COOPER: That is really the only way things will change if there is pressure from the outside?

ROBERTSON: Exactly. I mean, it has to be the U.N. Security Council, ideally, the U.N. security counsel would have sanctions involving human rights but also various different governments, U.S., but also some the E.U., Canada, and others. I mean, we have been trying to get people to take this up and we get a lot of blank stares and sort of size and things are so hard in North Korea but what can we do? And there is a lot we can do.

COOPER: It's certainly something that past administrations have tried to do the President said he did discuss this with Kim Jong-un, unclear to what extent it would actually discussed?

RIPLEY: You can look at this two ways, you can say that President Trump is turning a blind eye or you are say that he is being practical at this point because when you bring up the issue of human rights with the North Korea, that is a nonstarter. And if he wants to accomplish denuclearization as priority, number one, he is not going to be able to do that if you went in that meeting yesterday went hard on human right. I mean, that's just reality.

And plus, the North Koreans are going to fire back at the United States. Every time I raised human rights with officials in Pyongyang they say, OK, well, the United States has a higher percentage of its population in prison than North Korea. The United States has mass shooting, the United States has racial writing and police brutality. Now, and of course the secret police in North Korea have been accused according to defectors a lot of brutality of their own.

But the point is they throw it right back and they say, hey, the North Korean definition of human right is different than the American definition. Human rights for us -- for North Korea, is this kind of collective concept, it's not an individual concept where obviously in the United States we have a vastly different ideology, it is about personal choice, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. And those things are not even on the radar in North Korea. So they kind of -- they look at you, and you bring up those things and say well that is your standard but not there is.

COOPER: Phil, are you disappointed in the results today that this wasn't more front and center?

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. I mean, it should have been in a Communique. Even if they're going to say, look, human rights are important part of this agenda and we're going to continue discussing it, it should have been written down.

You know, the claims that somehow this was something that was discussed at length, I think is not terribly credible. I think was -- something that was discussed in passing, but doesn't really have a place on the table yet. And it has to be a core part of the agenda. That is our view. I mean, we think that, you know, if you look at what Kim Jong-un wants, he wants to come in from the cold. He wants to end his pariah status. He wants investment and other things to be going into North Korea. And you know, is the world community prepared to accept North Korea as it is, as a human rights pariah with a functioning economic system?

[20:45:06] COOPER: Phil Robertson I appreciate it. Will Ripley as well. Just ahead, other news as well tonight, a judge rules on a deal that could change the media landscape saying AT&T should acquire should acquire Time Warner, which is the parent company of CNN, would break down the rolling, why the Justice Department tried to stop and what it means for other countries as well. Next.


COOPER: A federal judge has ruled that AT&T can acquire time warner, an $80 billion deal that Justice Department sued to block. Time Warner of course is CNN's parent company. The judge said today that the deal does not violate anti-trust law. The Justice Department says, it is considering the next steps, joining me now is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter.

Jeff, talking about the -- you know, the government says, they're considering next steps. This is certainly a huge setback for the President, for the Department of Justice, are there next steps for the Department of Justice, I mean, the judge said basically their suit had absolutely no merit?

[20:50:08] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There is just one possibly one next step, which is asking the court of appeals for a stay that is to put the decision on hold. Now, putting the decision on hold would probably kill the deal because there is an expiration date to the deal which is June 21st. So I think the Justice Department may yet file this last-ditch effort, but it really does look like they have lost this case and lost it in very convincing fashion.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, the Judge Schiff said in the ruling that the government shouldn't try to appeal this or ask for a stay?

TOOBIN: He did, and it really -- I mean that's very unusual, and it indicates just how totally repudiated the Justice Department was here, and it really raises the question of why this case was brought in the first place. I mean, as we all know, you know, then-candidate Trump, then-President Trump talked about how he thought this was a bad deal, and we all know how much he hates CNN. The real question here now is, was this case from the beginning just a vendetta engineered by the President against CNN's parent company or was it a legitimate case? That evidence was not presented in court. The judge didn't want to hear it. But I think all the rest of us would like to know whether this thing was engineered from the White House or it was a good faith attempt to enforce the anti-trust law, because that certainly failed in a big way.

COOPER: Brian, I mean, generally if the deal does go through, what does it mean for the media landscape? Because I've heard a lot of people talking about other mergers that would very likely be attempted if this one, in fact, was successful?

STELTER: Right. Well, AT&T and Time Warner executives are breathing a sigh of relief. Their very plea and of course with today's rolling, the lawyers of both companies are in restaurants in D.C. right now having their celebratory dinners. And by this time next week, the deal will be closed and CNN and other channels own by Time Warner will become part of AT&T. But that's really just the first in a domino effect that we're going to see of media mergers as well as deals in other industries, you know, there are a lot of business executives out there, a lot of CEOs out there right not, looking at this rolling saying, OK, now we have the green light for our own deals, for our own mergers. That means more consolidation on the way. And in the media business, that means Comcast.

Comcast, of course, the cable, the owner of NBC as early as tomorrow morning Comcast will make a bid for Rupert Murdoch 20th Century Fox. Now Fox has already done a deal with Disney. Right now Disney is trying to buy Fox. Comcast is going to come in and crash the gate and try to -- or make a rival bid. So that kind of drama is now going to get underway because the judge sided with AT&T today.

TUCHMAN: You know, Anderson, I mean --

COOPER: And just very briefly for about 30 seconds -- go ahead, Jeff.

TOOBIN: No, it's just what makes this lawsuit so weird is that Republicans and conservatives usually don't like aggressive anti-trust enforcement. They don't like to file lawsuits to stop mergers. They like mergers, and yet in this one case the parent company of CNN was targeted. And I think this has Donald Trump's fingerprints all over it.

COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, Brian Stelter, thanks very much. We'll see what happens.

Coming up, there's breaking news, CNN just gotten records from the government of Puerto Rico relating to the deaths as a result of hurricane Maria. We have an update from San Juan, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:57:19] COOPER: There's more breaking news. Tonight the government of Puerto Rico has ordered the release to CNN and other news organization documents related to death after Hurricane Maria. Now, the government wants a permission to stall the delivery of death certificates but judge deny that. The official death tolls stands at 64. CNN surveyed funeral homes across the aisle back in November and found nearly 500 hurricane related deaths.

Last month, the Harvard study said the number could be well over 4,000. Less than two weeks ago on this program, I asked the governor of Puerto Rico why officials in his government would not provide records to the Harvard researchers.


GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: And if it's true, Anderson, you know, there will be hell to pay, because I really want this to be very transparent. I want the truth to come out. That's the bottom line. And I want us to learn from this tragedy --


ROSSELLO: -- so that we can prevent in the future something like this happening. So those are my stated goals. And I will work towards making sure those happen.


COOPER: CNN's Leyla Santiago filed one of the first reports about the questionable death toll number. She is in San Juan for us tonight. It is pretty remarkable that at this point the official government death toll is still just over 60 people or 64 people when according to this Harvard study, it could be anywhere from 800 to 8,000, but they averaged about 4,600?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right and they say that's a conservative estimate. But here's the difference between that estimate and what I have in my hands right now. This is the disk we received today with nearly 12,000 death certificates of people who died after hurricane Maria. So this is now concrete evidence of what happened after hurricane Maria as opposed to the Harvard study that establishes an estimate, what they call, the researchers call a conservative estimate.

How we got to this, to where I am right now, standing with this, what we had to sue the government of Puerto Rico with another news organization requesting this very information, yesterday we found out that the government of Puerto Rico put in a motion asking for a delay, citing that they needed more time to retract private information. The judge said no, you must hand over that information. And so now we will be digging through these records, 12,000 death certificates, to try to get to the bottom of who died when and how.

Already we have found cataclysmic storm as a cause on some of those cases, but of course we want to get to the bottom of those who do not say that and see if the conditions they were living under led to the deaths, Anderson.

[21:00:11] COOPER: Yes. We'll obviously go through that, bring that update information when we get it. Leyla Santiago, thank you. Thanks for watching 360.