Return to Transcripts main page


Bill Clinton Struggling to Address Past?; Trump-Kim Summit Success or Failure?; Conservative Hypocrisy Over North Korea Summit?. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: For now, we -- we take the president's word for it, since there were no official records documented.

We know that there was an agreement signed by both leaders. But let's be clear. This was simply an agreement to keep working toward what President Trump describes as complete denuclearization.

Although the deal they reached falls short of anything binding, President Trump insists that all he gave up was his time. But he also announced that he is ending decades of joint military exercises with South Korea.

And some lawmakers say that's an enormous concession. Still, the president heaped praise on the dictator he once referred to as little rocket man, even saying he would -- quote -- "absolutely" invite Kim to the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough...

QUESTION: You trust him?

TRUMP: I do trust him, yes. Really, he's got a great personality. He's a funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator. He loves his people.

I believe it's a rough situation over there. There's no question about it. And we did discuss it today pretty strongly, knowing what the main purpose of what we will be doing is denuking, but discussed it, and at pretty good length. And we will be doing something on it. It's -- it's rough. It's rough in a lot of places, by the way.

He's denuking the whole place, and he's going to start very quickly.

Can you ensure anything? Can I ensure that you're going to be able to sit down properly when you sit down? I mean, you can't ensure anything.

I also will be inviting Chairman Kim at the appropriate time to the White House. I would -- I think it's really going to be something that will be very important. And he has accepted.

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 will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative.

I may be wrong. I mean, I may be stand before you in six months and saying, hey, I was wrong. I don't know that I will ever admit that, but I will find -- I will find some kind of an excuse.



BALDWIN: It is worth noting that this was his first full-blown presidential news conference in 16 months, since February of 2017.

And a lot of questions still linger about this whole thing, especially about the president's assertion that he eventually hopes to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea.

We will have reaction coming in from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

But let's start with Nic Robertson, who is in Seoul, South Korea -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Brooke, what we're hearing from the Defense Ministry here seems to give an indication that they were somewhat blindsided by the canceling of these joint military exercises that are hugely important to the defense of South Korea, should there be aggression from the North.

The troops here are on the ready-to-fight-tonight footing. So these big military training exercises are a key part of having the forces here ready for that level of preparedness.

What we have heard from the Defense Ministry is that they want to understand the precise nature, the accuracy and the meaning of what President Trump meant by stopping these actions. However, from President Moon in a conversation with President Trump, no mention of the joint military exercises, but he does say that he wants to improve the cooperation and coordination between the United States and South Korea as they move forward in this diplomatic measure.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

And right now, when you talk to Senate Republicans, the members of the president's own party, you're hearing kind of a mix of two different viewpoints on things, cautious optimism. They know that, at least at this moment, at least according to a couple senators I have spoken to, the world is likely further away from a nuclear conflict than they were just a couple of days ago and certainly a couple of months ago.

But there's also extreme skepticism, the reality, the deal after deal with North Korea over the course of the last couple of decades has fallen through, and this is only a first step.

I have talked to several Republican senators who are particularly wary of the president's decision that joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea would be postponed or maybe canceled altogether. They're certainly not on board with that.

But their biggest question right now is what comes next. As one senator put it to me, this is like the first day of school. Now we need to figure out what happens from here and, as he put it, what the grades are going forward -- back to you.


For the Defense Department, U.S. military, the key question now is the details. What exactly is the president talking about? Will all training exercises, so-called war games, be halted? The next major exercise already scheduled for August. What will be the timing? Will it be all of them? Will it be just some of them?

This is something that Kim Jong-un has very much wanted for years. He wants war games, training exercises canceled. He wants U.S. troops out of South Korea; 28,000 of them are there now.


Did the president give Kim everything, or are there conditions for these two agenda items? This is what the Pentagon is trying to determine and trying to coordinate with the White House and the State Department -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Barbara and Phil and Nic, thank you all so much.

So, let's talk about more about what's next with CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour there.

And, Christiane, let me -- here's a little bit of news we have just gotten in, that we know that President Trump called in to the Senate Republican lunch in Washington touting the success of this summit.

We're also told that the president and the vice president couldn't give a clear answer today when lawmakers asked him what the president meant by suspending -- quote, unquote -- "war games."

What's your read on that?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have been talking to experts, analysts and officials here in this region.

And, look, I think everybody was a bit blindsided. You have now heard that the Pentagon spokesman has just told reporters that Secretary Mattis -- quote -- "was not surprised" by the president's announcement.

But, by the same token, you have heard the military spokesmen in the region say they continue to plan unless given a different answer through the chain of command.

We also heard -- I spoke to a national security adviser to the South Korean president who said that it's actually not up to President Trump to say that these will not -- these will stop. It's a bilateral decision between the U.S. and the South Koreans, so they don't quite know what is up, to be frank. Certainly, their military doesn't. And they're seeking clarification.

And I guess for people like Japan and others, who have really depended for the last 70 years on the United States' presence, on its preparedness -- that's obviously what the exercises are about. They're about keeping the troops in the field there prepared in the case that they are needed.

And as long as those troops remain there, they are going to need these exercises, according to the experts, to remain prepared for when they may or may not be needed.

So they're not just there to protect against North Korea. They're also there to, as other U.S. officials have said, to guard their flank, their eastern flank, from any China rising threats. And that's why they have troops in Europe, to guard that flank from Russia rising threats.

So, it's not just willy-nilly troops sort of like plunked around the world and beating their chests. They're for particularly strategic reasons.

So, yes, in other words, there's going to be have to some question and answers about what it all means. On the other hand, it was a bit of mixed bag. It is really great that the two leaders sat together and talked and potentially started to build a relationship of trust, of personal diplomacy, while they try to figure out the big, big issue. And that is the denuclearization.

On that, we only have promises. We have vague details. And we're just going to wait to see who pulls the next move and where the ball is. Whose court is it in? But, right now, no specific promises on the actual nitty-gritty of denuclearization -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Well, I know that you were really hopeful about the outcome of the summit, but I also know that after you watched the president give that news conference, that you were, to quote your language, worried and a bit depressed, Christiane.

Tell me why.

AMANPOUR: Well, because -- and I have spoken to a lot of people about it. I checked my instincts with a lot of experts, Joseph Yun, the former actual Trump administration actual North Korea policy official who resigned at the beginning of this year.

I have spoken to -- just this evening to a former U.N. ambassador to China, Max Baucus, and others, and people are pleased that this conversation happened. There's no doubt about it. There's no downside to having this conversation, unless you don't give away things without getting things back.

So, they're concerned that not enough was actually in hand for the United States, for the allies out of this conversation. On the other hand, I also spoke to a South Korean official who says, well, we think that the North have reconfirmed their commitment to denuclearization. We believe they think denuclearization means disarmament, in other words, getting rid of their nuclear weapons.

Nobody else is quite sure about that. The U.S. analysts are not sure about that. And I even spoke to an analyst who said maybe the U.S. will have to live eventually with a nuclear-armed North Korea that exists under a strict arms controls regime.

So, there's still a lot of unknowns. But it's better to be talking than it is to be talking about war.

BALDWIN: After 3:00 in the morning in Singapore. Christiane Amanpour, thank you for weighing in so much here.

Here at home, conservative media praising President Trump for this historic meeting in Asia, some even floating the idea of a Nobel Peace Prize. But it was a much different story when President Obama said he would be willing to meet with dictators. We're going to play that tape for you.


And a major court decision coming down in the next hour on the merger between our parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. You will hear why it could have major ripple effects on all media.

And, later, Alec Baldwin says he could definitely win if he decided to run for president in 2020. We will play the clip.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

As Kim Jong-un gets the celebrity treatment and lavish praise from the United States president, just want to take a moment to remind everyone about the dictator and his regime.

His people are starving. There are death camps where prisoners die and suffer rape, starvation and torture. He has executed members of his own family and, frankly, who dares to challenge him. He suppresses information to spread his propaganda.


And, of course, he detains foreigners to use as bargaining chips, including American Otto Warmbier, who left North Korea in a vegetative state and later died.

And I'll never forget. I talked to his parents here last year, and they described for the first time when they saw their son on the plane back from North Korea. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED WARMBIER, FATHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: And Otto is laying on a stretcher. He's strapped to the stretcher.

And he's moving around and jerking violently making these howling, inhumane sounds. Greta and Cindy go back -- leave, go down the steps. It's too much for them to handle.

Austin and I walk over to Otto. And he's in this condition. He has a shaved head. His eyes are darting around. They are as big as saucers. He's blind. He's deaf. He's got a feeding tube.

And we kneel down and we hug him and try to connect with him. And he's a complete vegetable.

CINDY WARMBIER, MOTHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: Every day, I think of Otto. I mean, almost every minute of every day, I think of Otto. He's always going to be with me.

F. WARMBIER: Now we see North Korea with the tensions, claiming to be a victim. And they're claiming that the world is picking on them. And we're here to tell you, as witnesses to the terror of their regime, North Korea is not a victim.


BALDWIN: Again, that was last fall.

We now have a statement from the Warmbier family in the wake of this historic summit in Singapore.

And this is what they say.

"We appreciate President Trump's recent comments about our family. We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully, something positive can come from this."

Meantime, in Washington, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump's summit with North Korea a historic first step.

But at least one conservative is calling out the hypocrisy within his own party. Erick Erickson, blogger and radio host Erick Erickson tweeted this: "If Obama had done what Trump just did, Americans would be demanding his impeachment."

And he may have a point.

I want you to listen to the difference here in how Fox News treated President Obama when he said he would be willing to meet with U.S. enemies.

This is all put together by the social media outlet Now This News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you, as president, meet with the leaders of a country like North Korea? Obama, extraordinarily, said, I would meet with him.

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

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will meet, not just with our friends, but with our enemies.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: President Obama likes talking to dictators.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: He would meet with some of these madmen 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.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": I think that is a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is bowing and scraping before dictators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A remarkable turnaround in relations between these two historic adversaries.

HANNITY: The commander in chief's leadership is now leading to a major foreign policy breakthrough.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Another stunning Donald Trump breakthrough.

HANNITY: President Trump scoring a big win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to celebrate a great victory when it happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are really in danger in living in a sort of pretty little dream world, where Barack Obama thinks the power of his personality is going to have this incredible transformative impact.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump made the decision himself to meet face to face with Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy has a very unique quality of leadership.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS: He is so charming. He can deal with people. He can get along with people. I think that this will only work out well.


BALDWIN: Jake Tapper, I mean, it's like you watch that, you watch the arc, and it's almost like, errr, record scratch. JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's crazy.

The idea that anybody can look at human rights issues, whether it's the Castros or are the mullahs in Iran or Kim Jong-un or the Kim family through a political partisan lens of the United States, if Obama does it, it's bad, if Trump does it, it's good, or vice versa, is stunning to me.


TAPPER: Human rights issues are human rights issues.

What the Castros, the Kims, the mullahs in Iran, what they do has nothing to do with whether or not you like the president at that time. And so it's -- yes, it's stunning to see that.

I remember when I was covering for CNN the opening of the American Embassy in Cuba, and we were covering a lot of the dissidents and their protests, the lack freedoms in Cuba, and there was the exact opposite thing going on, where one channel, not CNN and not FOX, was praising this as an amazing moment of diplomacy.

Well, we have since seen that there hasn't exactly been this blossoming of freedom in Cuba. And now we see the same thing.


And that's why it's so unhealthy. I mean, that's why organizations like Amnesty or Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First are groups you have to focus on, because they don't look at it through who is president, I want to support the U.S. president.


TAPPER: They look at it through, what is going on in this country?

BALDWIN: Human rights.

So, the president is coming back from this historic summit in Singapore. And he gave this news conference. And, of course, he had left the G7 early in Canada and made a lot of news with regard to how he treated our good friends in Canada.

And this is what he said in this news conference from Singapore about Justin Trudeau.


TRUMP: He gave out a little bit of an obnoxious thing. I actually like Justin. I think he's good. I like him. But he shouldn't have done that. That was a mistake. That's going to cost him a lot of money.


BALDWIN: For me, I just wanted to ask you. You think about the sort of spectrum of it's the 24 hours, where on the one side he calls Trudeau noxious. And I know Peter Navarro has walked back his special place in hell, but, still, it was said.

TAPPER: Well, and the president called him a liar.

BALDWIN: On the other end of the spectrum, you have him with the handshake and the lavish praise of our foe.

TAPPER: Right.

BALDWIN: I ran through -- talk about human rights, you know, what is going on in North Korea, on the other end of the spectrum.

TAPPER: It is a real disconnect.

President Trump was elected to be a disrupter. And he is disrupting our normal alliances when it comes to trade and the G7. And he is disrupting the way that normally we do things with North Korea.

To have these events so close to each other seems odd, because it seems as though he is...

BALDWIN: Favoring...

TAPPER: ... favoring bad guys and dissing good guys.

Now, in actuality, when you look at U.S. policy, obviously, Canada remains a very close ally of the United States, and North Korea, we're still imposing -- the U.S. is still imposing economic sanctions.

But it is striking, calling Trudeau weak and suggesting he's not honest one breath, and then within a day or two, I mean, the thing -- the comments he made about Kim Jong-un being smart and a great negotiator and he loves his people, effusive praise for one of the most murderous, barbarous dictators on the planet, it's quite a thing.

I think Erick Erickson has a point.


Hey, congratulations on your new book. I have no -- no segue for that.


BALDWIN: But it was great to be at the party last night.

TAPPER: Oh, thank you so much.

BALDWIN: And so just, everyone, if you haven't -- if you don't know, the big book, "The Hellfire Club," which has been on "The New York Times" bestseller list how many weeks?

TAPPER: Four weeks. Four weeks, it was on the bestseller list.

BALDWIN: Four weeks. Tapper, congratulations.


TAPPER: Thanks so much, Brooke. And congratulations to you on a much bigger achievement than a book.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Next: President Clinton steps it in again when it comes to this whole MeToo movement, how he's explaining the comment that -- quote -- "norms have changed" when it comes to what you can do to somebody against their will.




BALDWIN: Former President Bill Clinton just did it again.

He made public comments about the MeToo movement that have set off another wave of criticism.

During an interview with PBS this time, Clinton was asked about the sexual harassment allegations against former Senator Al Franken, when he said this:


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


BALDWIN: Keep in mind, this is just a week after he had a conversation with NBC News, questions about apologizing to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Here's what he said.


QUESTION: Did you ever apologize to her?


QUESTION: You have apologized to her?

CLINTON: I apologized to everything in the world.

QUESTION: But you didn't apologize to her.

CLINTON: I have not talked to her.

The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked.

I was mad at me.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Well, you said in the interview that you did apologize.

CLINTON: Not for the first time.

Here's what I want to say. It wasn't my finest hour.


BALDWIN: With me now, CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Symone Sanders.

And, ladies, let's just state this fact that it has never been OK to do something against someone else's will. So let's just state that as fact.

Ana Navarro, to you first. What did you think of Clinton's comments?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ay yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi.

Look, it makes me cringe somewhat. And let's just -- let me say that I know Bill Clinton. Let me tell you that I like Bill Clinton.

He also happens to be one of the most eloquent, empathetic people in modern history, one of the most eloquent, effective speakers in modern times.

And we see him struggling with this time and again, for the obvious reason. It strikes close to home. It strikes home. He is vulnerable in a way where he's not just talking about this theoretically, and he is somehow trying to reconcile his history with what is now current times.

And he's not doing it well time after time.

BALDWIN: Well, why can't he move with the times?

I mean, he just -- Symone, he -- Ana is right. He's eloquent. This is man who has a gift with words, but he has stepped in it when it comes to MeToo, and he just doesn't get it.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I want to agree with Ana here.

I think that, because this hits close to home, because perhaps the former president has not truly --