Return to Transcripts main page
Trump & Kim Vow to Denuclearize North Korea; Economic Advisor Hospitalized with Heart Attack. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[05:58:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, June 12. Alisyn Camerota in New York. I'm John Berman here in Singapore.
The summit is over. The pictures were historic. The results, they are very much in question. President Trump, he just boarded Air Force One on his way home after wrapping up a one hour and five-minute news conference, facing questions about what was actually achieved here.
He called the meetings with Kim Jong-un intense and productive, yet he earned no new real language on denuclearization, and he surprised the world, announcing just moments ago a new major concession to North Korea. He announced the United States will stop what the president calls "war games," referring to the joint military exercises the U.S. conducts with South Korea regularly. The president also said he did discuss human rights with Kim -- he initially said briefly -- but he also called Kim a very talented man, Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, it is great to have you on the ground there. Obviously, we'll be dissecting everything throughout the program. So President Trump's big gamble was sealed with this historic handshake and heaps of praise on the North Korean dictator. President Trump says he has, quote, "an excellent relationship" and a very special bond with Kim.
Meanwhile, the totalitarian leader now vows to, quote, "leave the past behind," end quote. So what's next?
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live for us in Singapore. What a day, Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, it's been a stunning day here that has unfolded with this morning. Started with that first handshake between President Trump and Kim Jong-un to that press conference that the president just held that lasted over an hour where he took question after question on this deal.
But the more he talked about this deal, the more it seemed to come into question what was the United States getting out of this. The main point coming out of that was that the president said he had agreed with Kim Jong-un to stop those joint military exercises conducted by the United States and the South Korean military, something that greatly annoys the North Koreans and Kim Jong-un. The president saying he's agreed to stop those because he believes they are very expensive and very provocative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should. We'll be saving a tremendous amount of money, plus I think it's very provocative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So there is a reason those are provocative, and that is also because of the North Korea's nuclear arsenal they've been building. That was what President Trump was here to discuss with Kim Jong-un. So a stunning statement there. The president seeming to give up a very major concession with agreeing to stop those exercises to Kim Jong-un.
He was asked about that, giving up something like that. The president maintained he gave up nothing during that meeting. He and Kim Jong-un met for over an hour privately, one on one. He also said during that meeting that he did bring up human rights abuses with the North Korean dictator. Here's what he had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jong-un, as you know, has killed family members, has starved his own people, is responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier. Why are you so comfortable calling him very talented?
TRUMP: Well, 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you, President Trump, expect Kim Jong-un to do about the human rights record regarding the North Korean people?
TRUMP: It was discussed. It was discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization. Obviously, that's where we started and where we ended, but they will be doing things. And I think he wants to do things. I think he wants to.
You'd be very surprised. Very smart. Very good negotiator. Wants to do the right thing.
And I believe it's a rough situation over there. There's no question about it. And we did discuss it today pretty strongly, I mean, knowing what the main purpose of what we were doing is, denuking. But discussed it at pretty good length. We'll be doing something on it. It's rough. It's rough in a lot of places, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So a stunning statement from President Trump there, saying that it's rough in a lot of places while talking about specifically the human rights abuses with the North Korean dictator, someone who I should remind people executed his uncle and a dozen other officials, had his half-brother killed, starved his people in favor of building up his nuclear arsenal, as well as these death camps here in North Korea, several other things. To hear the president talk about it like that, he seemed to be ducking on the human rights issue when he was sitting there with the North Korean leader.
Overall today, several meetings for the president. Certainly, an historic day. We'll wait to see what this day means for history. But it started out with that one on one meeting between the two leaders and just their translators. Then it turned into this bilateral meeting and later on into a working lunch.
And then we saw the two of them come out and sign this joint statement. A joint statement that the president says was very comprehensive. He talked about it in very glowing terms. We watched both of them put their name on paper about the statement.
But when you look at the statement here, Alisyn, it's hard to see what the United States is getting here. Beyond a vague commitment to denuclearization. This did not include the phrase that the president, his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has been parroting for months. That is CVID, complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. That language was not included in this agreement from President Trump. So it's hard to see what the United States is getting here beyond -- and what they're giving up.
You know, the more he talked about this, he said they'd agreed to stop these exercises. He said he eventually wanted to withdraw those 25,000 United States troops from the Korean Peninsula. He didn't say any new sanctions. So certainly, a stunning day here, Alisyn. Certainly historic. But we'll just have to see what kind of historic day it does turn out to be.
[06:05:06] BERMAN: All right, Kaitlan, I'll take it from here. Kaitlan, thanks so much.
And no doubt the world right now is trying to understand exactly what President Trump announced just a few moments ago, that the U.S. will halt these joint exercises with South Korea on the Korean Peninsula.
And we do have some breaking news. We just got a statement from South Korea. Unless you wonder whether this was a concession from the United States. Listen to what South Korea says. This statement from the Blue House, their White House.
It says, "At this moment we need to figure out President Trump's accurate meaning and intention of this comment. However, we believe we need to seek various measures how to efficiently move forward the dialogues during serious talks are being conducted to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish relations between the North Korean and the United States."
"We need to figure out the president's accurate meaning and intentions." That is South Korea, the United States' partner there in these joint exercises.
Joining this now to discuss all of this, CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto; CNN global affairs specialist and former U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun. He knows more about this than anybody. Also with us, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
Christiane, I want to start with you. Just step back for a moment. The president says this is a step forward, this comprehensive agreement with North Korea as he calls it. Is it comprehensive? Is it a step forward?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, just that breaking news you just read from the South Korean presidency, we've just been on the phone with the foreign ministry, and they're all trying to figure out exactly what that giving up of the -- as the president said war games, the joint military exercises exactly means.
Which leads us to believe that even though he's been in consultation with his allies, it looks like this was offered without having talked to his main ally on the peninsula, and that would be President Moon Jae-in. That is what that statement seems to imply.
And therefore, we're all right to be seriously concerned about how that happened and why that happened and what did President Trump get back for that.
You know, it was -- it was amazing to see the two leaders together. It's always better for there to be a path towards talk and dialogue and a peaceful resolution to these terrible and huge nuclear issues. But, it is very, very important to state that that declaration, signed by both, did not give what the U.S. said it wanted and what the allies said they wanted, which was at least a commitment by the North Koreans to start the dismantling and denuclearization process and not one that talked about the Korean Peninsula, because that is the old formula. That is the formula by which the North Koreans, Chinese, Russians want to denuclearize the Americans and the South Koreans in the whole area. They want the U.S. out of the area. And today President Trump did a little bit to satisfy that wish from North Korea, Russia and China. So, it's going to be incredibly difficult to figure out and we're going to have to wait and see exactly what he got back from Kim Jong- un at this time.
Meantime, the North Koreans are telling their people the whole point of the trip was for their leader to be taken seriously and to be recognized as an equal international, you know, figure and head of state. And that's what this summit accomplished for them -- John.
BERMAN: And Ambassador Yun, you know, we were sitting here, you know, and you have been in the middle of these negotiations and discussions with North Korean for decades, for years and years and years. And you yourself acknowledged that you were criticized for being soft on North Korean during the end of your tenure, yet you were surprised at what was delivered here. JOSEPH YUN, GLOBAL AFFAIRS SPECIALIST: I was quite surprised. And I
looked at the document. I said, is this for real? You know, because it does not meet what I call minimum requirements in terms of what we expect them to do and what they expect us to do.
I mean, Christiane made a very valid point, and then you pointed out, South Korea is a little confused. What does it mean, you know, to stop war games? This has been the standard demand, that we stop joint military exercise, for decades now. We've never given that in, because it's been our right, and it means readiness for our troops. I mean, what's the point of having troops there if they're not ready? And if they're not ready, if they cannot exercise?
And so that needs to be clarified with the South Koreans and also by the White House exactly what do we mean? Is this, you know, forever or while these talks are going on? Just for next month? And so we need to -- you know, White House needs to fill us in and, by the way, let the South Koreans know.
[06:10:06] By the way, John, you know, tomorrow very interesting regional elections in South Korea, where President Moon looked like he's going to win big. I don't know whether this is going to influence it. South Koreans have huge equity on what happened today in Singapore.
BERMAN: Let me tell you a little bit more of the president's news conference. And this issue is one he will have to deal with in the coming hours. Did he concede too much to Kim Jong-un? He says no. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We haven't given up anything other than, you're right, I agreed to meet. And I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea. But I just wrote down some of the things we got. And they -- sure, they got a meeting, but only a person that dislikes Donald Trump would say that I've agreed to make a big commitment. Sure, I've agreed to take a period of time and come here and meet and that's good, but I think it's great for us as a country, and I think it's good for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Well, he agreed to a meeting. That downplays the significance of this meeting for Kim Jong-un and appearing on this stage as an equal to President Trump, the equal number of flags, the equal placement of all the delegates on the podium.
It also, I think, diminishes the idea that the United States basically agreed to the North Korean version of language on denuclearization. Let me just read that. Reaffirm, "Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula." The mere word "reaffirmed" tells you it's not new.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There's a clear imbalance in specifics. The U.S. has made very specific commitments to end the exercises. The president even brought up withdrawing U.S. troops from the peninsula, a security guarantee to our closest ally, the one with the most skin in the game, which is North Korea's neighbor South Korea. That's very specific. North Korea gave no specifics on time line for denuclearization. No specifics on how that will be verified over time. These are the things -- those are the details that folks were looking for to see what the U.S. got from this.
There's a clear imbalance in specifics for what the U.S. is saying it's going to give and what North Korea is saying. And what is a test? If South Korea, again, your closest ally in this issue here, comes out of it and says, "We've got to figure out what just happened here," that shows not only that you didn't coordinate with the South Koreans on this statement on concessions, et cetera, but that South Korea has questions about how this went down.
I mean, if they're saying that publicly, I have to imagine that, in private, there's a fair amount of nervousness, which I -- and Joseph knows them better than me, but I've spoken to South Korean diplomats prior to this. And they were concerned about what was going to be given and whether they will feel as secure afterwards.
And just one more point I would make. You talk about defining things on North Korea's terms. The president called those joint U.S./South Korean military exercises provocative. Now, that's something the U.S. has never said. The U.S. has said they're never provocative to North Korea. This is about building our alliance. This is about peace in the region, et cetera. The president defined those exercises on North Korea's terms, which U.S. presidents have never done before. They've taken great care to say, "This is not about you. This is about peace in the region. It's about preparation in the region." The president just played by South -- by North Korea's rules on that issue.
BERMAN: You know, it's so interesting. People are going to look at the day and look at the pictures of President Trump standing side by side with Kim Jong-un.
Again, it's never happened before. No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader. That's historic, and talking is always good and preferable to the alternative.
But when you get to the specifics, Christiane, we talk about the North Korean, the exercises on South Korea, and we also talk about human rights. Really, it's fascinating what the president said. He spoke about human rights, again, on terms -- on terms that I would think that Kim Jong-un would love.
He said sure, things are rough in North Korea. But things are rough everywhere, in a way equivocating on human rights, on a regime that has been called, you know, a wartimes committer against its own people, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, John, for sure, the human rights issue is a massive issue when it comes to North Korea. And there's no doubt about it. I mean, it has death camps and gulags. It's had a famine because of its own policies, not because of an accident of weather or -- or crop failure, its own policies. And that, of course, was in the '90s.
But it has a very, very dire record on human rights, as we've all reported for endless, endless years. The president, as you said, sort of equivocated as he does, like, well, all sides have problems or it's one of many sides that does ugly or rough things. But the truth is, the U.N., the U.S. have it very, very high, if not the highest on their list of human right violators.
Having said that, the main issue of today's summit was denuclearization. The biggest threat to the region and to the United States and to the world is the North Korea's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic capability, and on that it appears the president fell short.
[06:15:16] At a very minimum, experts have told me, they needed to have got a declaration from North Korea of what they had or a plan for, in a week, they would come back with a piece of paper and tell them, "We have this many nuclear weapons. We have this many intercontinental ballistic missiles. They're here, here and here. We're going to allow you to get the IAEA and all the other experts to verify it over a period of time.
It will take a long time to disarm, but this is our start. Apparently, that did not happen. And then you have to ask, was the president's action on -- on ending or suspending, we're not quite sure which, the war games, the joint military exercises, was that inadvertent or was it deliberate? Because there are those who believe and the president has said it himself, that he would like the troops to come back. And there are many who believe that, you know, the U.S. out of Asia is -- is a presidential desire and, by the same token, it would be very good for China to fill that gap very, very quickly.
All right. Christiane, Ambassador Yun, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Alisyn, as I throw back to you, there seems to be this serious dichotomy, this split between the president's pride in what happened here, what he thinks he achieved here and the results that we're seeing, you know, on this paper before us, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Well, the devil will be in the details, but for the moment, it's a historic day, and he's achieved more than any other U.S. sitting president, at least with this historic summit and handshake, so we will dive into those details of what comes next, John.
Meanwhile back here at home, we have news to tell you about, President Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow is recovering this morning from a mild heart attack. This is according to the White House. The president announced the news in a tweet 25 minutes before that historic first handshake with Kim Jong-un.
CNN's Joe Johns is live outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland with more. What do we know, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That seems to be the message, Alisyn, that it was a very mild heart attack. We do know Larry Kudlow has been under a lot of pressure over the last three months. That's as long as he has, in fact, been on the job.
As you said, the first word of this coming from the president in a tweet before that handshake and followed up a little bit later in a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, saying in part, "Kudlow experienced what had his doctors say was a mild heart attack currently here at Walter Reed.
Doctors say they expect him to make a full and speedy recovery. Then the president and the administration send their prayers to him and his family. Of course, he's had a tremendous amount of work to do. He was, as you know, an opponent of tariffs, having to push through the president's tariffs plan more recently, having to take on the Canadian prime minister after that controversial G-7 meeting.
Of course, at that time, Kudlow saying that Canada had, in fact, stabbed the United States in the back. A close former adviser to the president, also a close associate of Mr. Kudlow says he does expect them to make a recovery and says he needs to stop smoking.
Back to you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: That would be a good start to recovery. Joe, please keep us posted on his progress there. Thank you.
So President Trump bonding with North Korea's dictator but feuding with America's long-time allies. So what happens when the president gets home?
[06:22:25] CAMEROTA: President Trump making history in North Korea, forging a new relationship with dictator Kim Jong-un. The president heaped praise on Kim Jong-un at the same time that there's tension with the allies. So what happens next?
Joining us now, we have CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN global affairs analyst Tony Blinken.
Tony, from where you sit watching what happened today after all the efforts of past president, including President Obama for whom you worked. What do you make of it?
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Alisyn, you've got to put this in perspective. Just a few months ago leading into the Olympic Games, it looked like we were heading inexorably to war on the Korean Peninsula. Now we're talking peace. Now we're talking denuclearization. That's a good thing.
And President Trump should be applauded for the efforts he's making at diplomacy. But the other perspective is this. We've been there before. Time and again North Korea made commitments to denuclearize and then done exactly the opposite.
In 2005 and again in 2012, much more detailed commitments than the ones we've seen over the last 24 hours. So the proof really is in the pudding. And we're not going to know for a long time whether this is real, whether this is serious.
Meanwhile, all of the pressure that President Trump effectively built up against North Korea is starting to dissipate. So so far, I have to give a win to Kim Jong-un for getting a lot out of this, including the extraordinary recognition being on the international stage with President Trump, the North Korean and American flags flying together, all of that is a big win for Kim Jong-un.
Again, good to be pursuing the diplomacy, but let's -- let's wait and see where this goes, and if this turns into something real or like every past time, it falls apart.
CAMEROTA: You know, it was interesting, David, the president talked about that, about what the time line will be, how he'll know if Kim Jong-un is complying.
And basically, he said that the time line that he gave is about six months. That's when he'll know if this is working. So let me play that for you, because the president also revealed what he'll do if it doesn't work out. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think he's going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, "Hey, I was wrong." I don't know that I'll ever admit that. But I'll find -- I'll find some kind of an excuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That moment of sheer honesty there.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Moment of clarity.
CAMEROTA: Yes. What do you think?
GREGORY: Well, I think a couple of things. I mean, I think what Tony said is important, but I think we also have to underline the first piece of this.
We were on a heading that predates the Trump administration of an egregious crossing of the line by the north with nuclear provocation and testing. And an unsatisfying response by the west led by the United States, by China and our allies that involved just economic sanctions, which is not to say that they didn't have teeth and they didn't hurt and they weren't effective, but it was a cycle. It was really a vicious cycle that was not getting the job done.
[06:25:16] And for us to be in this position where there is a discussion of a different way forward, we have to be cautious about it. And we have to be cautious, because especially in our media age, which captures the moment and not the process, we can't forget that there's a long process ahead. And that's what's important. What is it that we're actually getting out of this, because as Tony
says and others have pointed out, what Kim wanted coming into this was relatively modest. He wanted to be seen as the man. You know, as an international leader, not a pariah, not a dictator who starves his own people, and we can't forget that, who oppresses his own people. So he's gotten that. He created a deterrent value that drove us to the table by developing a nuclear arsenal, by testing it in a way that showed it had advanced rather quickly from where it was before.
So the process is what matters now. There's going to be a lot to worry about if you're in the region. Back home, I think there's going to be a lot of politics being played about how much credit is due to President Trump for achieving this. So, the process matters here.
And you came into this segment talking about what's going on with our allies in the G-7. We also have to judge that the same way. In a moment, in that flash, like oh, gosh, U.S. is taking on all of its allies. That may just be a setup to negotiations to get a better trade deal, and that can calm down, too. So we have to judge both of these flashpoint events and watch the process that unfolds.
CAMEROTA: Such a great point, David. So Tony, listen, we don't know exactly the details of what they say is this comprehensive agreement they signed. If we look back to 1992, that comprehensive agreement, it might be instructive. And in that, in 1992, it was that North Korea would not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons. They would only use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They would not possess nuclear reprocessing or uranium enrichment, and they would conduct inspection of the objects selected.
So I mean, is that what we should be looking for? Are those the guideposts for this agreement, as well?
BLINKEN: We should be looking for that and for more. TI mean, the irony is this, Alisyn. President Trump spent a lot of time demolishing the Iran nuclear agreement. And whether he can get even something as strong as that with North Korea is very, very doubtful.
Iran up front -- up front -- took apart virtually the entirety of its nuclear program. And up front, it allowed the most intrusive inspections regime in the history of arms control. If President Trump can get that over the next six months, that would be a huge achievement.
But again, I think the important thing is this, we've been there before, not just in '94 with the agreed framework, but in 2005, again in 2012. Declarations in great detail, in some cases, by the North Koreans that they walk back from. They perfected the art of string, wring and walk. Ring out -- string out talks, wring out economic concessions, walk away from their commitments.
Now, this time could be different. Again, I agree with David. We're in a different place. That's better. It's certainly better than the course we were on just a few months ago heading toward war. But turning this into something real is going to take a huge amount of work. We're not going to know for some time.
Meanwhile, some of our allies are deeply concerned about the direction this is taking including in the region. The president has committed now to end military exercises with South Korea. It's not clear that he coordinated that with the South Koreans. They've got to be wondering exactly what's going on.
GREGORY: And you know, Jim Sciutto made a point a while ago in the program about the president adopting the language of the North, calling these joint exercises provocative. That's a real mistake, and that may have just been loose talk on his part, but it's why you have real experts who advise you on how to handle this, because that seems to be an enormous concession.
And I think there's both a danger and an opportunity in what we're seeing. And that this is a top-down approach. This is very much the president, obviously, with his top, you know, teammates, secretary of state and others who are involved in this, rather than a bottom-up approach.
So again, I go back to this media age where nobody has got the patience for a modest summit that builds to something big. It's got to be big. It's got to be a great photo. It's got to be historic, and then the details will work out later. No, we've got to watch each phase of this.
And it may be that there's a moment here where the North wants to open up, the North wants a better economic future, and maybe they're willing to give up things that, you know, in Tony's experience, you know, we've seen promises of that never came to fruition. We simply don't know. We have a very unpredictable president in this regard who is very much in control of this diplomacy.
CAMEROTA: We don't even know the time line or when to expect some of these things.
CAMEROTA: But today is obviously the first step. So, Tony Blinken, David Gregory, thank you both very much for all of that analysis.
OK. Let's get back to John in Singapore.
BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Alisyn.
The president, he stopped. He called a stop to so-called "war games" with South Korea. How is the South Korean government responding? We'll have live reaction from Seoul next.