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President Trump Meets with Kim Jong-un; President Trump Holds Press Conference on Meeting with Kim Jong-un; President Trump Announces End to Joint U.S. and South Korean War Games; Trump And Kim Vow To Denuclearize Korean Peninsula. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get right to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn Camerota in New York. I'm John Berman here in Singapore where President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have made history. No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader. That happened, the two men sat side by side. That was historic.
But what has come from this meeting? That in question this morning. The president held a one hour and five minute news conference, his first major full news conference in more than a year. He did face questions about what was achieved here. The president is on his way back to Washington as we speak aboard Air Force One. Kim on his way back to North Korea on a Chinese plane.
The president called the meetings intense, he called them productive. Yet really he earned no new language from North Korea on the subject, the main subject in play here, denuclearization. Also, the president surprised the world, announcing what many see as a major concession to North Korea, saying the United States will stop what the president calls war games in South Korea. He's referring to these joint military exercises that U.S. troops perform alongside South Korea every year. The president also said he did discuss human rights with Kim. Initially the president said that was a brief part of the discussion. The president also went out of his way to call Kim a very talented man. A lot to dissect here, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Indeed, John. It's so great to have you on the ground there to watch this historic moment unfold and to bring it to us.
Meanwhile, President Trump's big gamble was sealed with a historic handshake that you're about to see, and he praised the North Korean dictator. President Trump says he has, quote, "an excellent relationship and a very special bond," end quote, with Kim. Kim Jong- un vows to leave the past behind. So what comes next?
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live for us as well in Singapore. What a day, Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, it has been a remarkable day, a remarkable 13 hours since President Trump and Kim Jong-un first shook hands and sat down to start off this historic summit. The president is now on Air Force One on his way back to Washington. Quite a long flight, but the president as he's on his way back may not be watching the coverage he expected to get after this day of talks with the North Korean dictator because now major questions are being raised about what the United States gave up versus what it got in this sit down.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly.
COLLINS: President Trump telling reporters he trusts North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to keep his word to abandon his nuclear arsenal after the two leaders signed a joint agreement pledging to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
TRUMP: It'll be verified. It will be verified. It's going to be achieved by having a lot of people there.
COLLINS: In return, President Trump making a massive concession, agreeing to stop joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, exercises that greatly annoyed the North Korean leader.
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.
COLLINS: South Korea seemed to be caught off guard by the president's announcement, responding that they need to figure out the accurate meaning and intention behind the statement. At a press conference immediately following the historic summit, President Trump was pressed repeatedly about North Korea's horrendous human rights record.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man you met today, 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: 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.
COLLINS: Mr. Trump offering differing response when's asked whether he raised the issue with Kim Jong-un.
TRUMP: It was discussed. It was discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization. We did discuss it today pretty strongly. Knowing what the main purpose of what we were doing is, de- nuking, but discussed it at pretty good length.
COLLINS: President Trump saying he would absolutely invite Kim Jong- un to the White House as both leaders pledge to continue negotiations at the earliest possible date. TRUMP: We have developed a very special bond.
COLLINS: The signing ceremony coming after nearly five hours of meetings on a historic day that began with both men shaking hands for the first time. President Trump and Kim Jong-un greeting each other with guarded smiles but appearing relaxed before meeting one-on-one with only their translators for nearly 40 minutes.
[08:05:11] TRUMP: A really fantastic meeting.
COLLINS: The one-on-one followed by an expanded bilateral meeting with their top advisers, a working lunch. In all at least six different photo ops. Mr. Trump even giving Kim Jong-un a look inside the presidential limousine seen known as the beast.
TRUMP: It's my honor and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.
COLLINS: So John and Alisyn, we noted that the South Koreans seemed caught off guard by the president's announcement that he was going to stop those joint U.S./South Korean military exercises. Also, the U.S. troops there seem to be caught off guard by this. Their spokesman is issuing a statement saying they've received no updated guidance about their exercises going forward. We do know the South Koreans wanted to speak to President Trump to get a little bit of clarity on that. President Trump has spoken with the South Korean president about 30 or 40 minutes ago. We're still waiting to see what the details of that conversation looked like, but what this goes to show is the president's decision that's he made here in Singapore are going to have reverberations in the days to come. John?
BERMAN: Kaitlan Collins for us also in Singapore. Kaitlan, thanks so much.
Joining me now, CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, also with us, CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. David, look, I think it may be an overly simplistic way to look at this, but people are asking who won? Who comes out looking better or with more? I guess on the one hand you can say the people of the Korean peninsula won because it seems that we're further away from the possibility of military conflict to an extent. The world is maybe safer than it was eight months ago. But if you're looking at President Trump versus Kim, who left with more?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly it seems that Mr. Kim is returning back to North Korea having given away very little, having gotten the cessation, at least for a while, of these U.S. military exercises, which until yesterday the Pentagon would have told you was at the core of building up and effective deterrent with the South Korean forces.
And it's not clear how much of a denuclearization President Trump actually got here. He may get a lot. Maybe by building up trust first he will ultimately see Kim Jong-un do what his father and grandfather did not do. Maybe he will actually take apart all of this. I suspect that where we're headed is some lengthy negotiation similar to the one that John Kerry got involved in with the Iranians. But the first issue is going to be what do the North Koreans do with their 20 to 60 nuclear weapons. It's hard to imagine they're going to give them all away.
BERMAN: It's interesting. So much of this depends on trusting Kim, what Kim does on this. And the president, Jim, said that the reason he trusts Kim is because Kim has to deal with a different president than North Korea has had to deal with the past, that would be namely Donald J. Trump. The president told our friend George Stephanopoulos in an interview this morning, Jim, that he doesn't think any other president could have pulled off this meeting. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He trusts me, I believe. I really do. He said openly and he said it to a couple of reporters that we're with him, that he knows, that no other president ever could have done this. No other president.
He knows the presidents. He knows who we had in front of me. He said no other president could have done this. I think he trusts me and I trust him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I trust him. What ground has Kim in North Korea over the last several decades given the United States to trust them going forward?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They've broken every previous agreement negotiated by presidents, Democratic and Republican presidents, so they're track record is not good. Trump has confidence that he brings a certain strength to the table that those presidents did not.
That said, if you compare based on the specificity of past agreements, this has none of that specificity. And if you compare with what the U.S. -- and granted this is the beginning of the negotiation. But let's look at what came out of this meeting. The U.S. made specific commitments to end those military exercises, the president mentioned withdrawing U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula --
BERMAN: Some day.
SCIUTTO: Some day, true, but it's a specific commitment. The North Koreans made no specific commitment about timing, how much they would give up, because you still have this question about what denuclearization of the Korean peninsula means, what the U.S. side gives in terms of the nuclear umbrella. But North Korea has been squishy to say the least on the word "denuclearization" as to how far they go.
They did not, it appears, unless the president did not announce this, even give an accounting of their nuclear weapons, which would be a starting point for a substantive nuclear negotiation.
[08:10:01] So specificity from the U.S. side, very little, if any, from the North Korean side, and I think in things like this, judge how your allies respond. Clearly there were some discomfort and question from the North Koreans about the ending of these military exercises -- South Koreans rather, because they said, listen, we've got to explore and figure out what they're actually talking about here.
And I would just note what the president's, what our country's own secretary of defense said just hours before this meeting. He said, it is premature to discuss the withdraw of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula. That's Defense Secretary Mattis. And he said he did not believe that that was a subject of these talks. Hours later the president of the United States raised that as a possibility.
BERMAN: He said -- he did say on the campaign that one day he would like to see U.S. troops off the Korean peninsula. I can understand discussing it around this summit.
SCIUTTO: It's different when you come off with the North Korean leader in the midst of a nuclear negotiation.
BERMAN: No doubt about that. David, it's also interesting, the president talked about the trust issue he has with Kim and says maybe, maybe it won't work out. Listen to what he says on that front.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think he's going to do these things. I may be wrong. 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 some kind of an excuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Aside from that moment of extreme honesty at the end there where's I'll never admit that he'd say he was wrong, six months, how will we know in six months whether this is working out?
SANGER: To the president's credit, he has seen Kim Jong-un and described his own expectations. That's never been done by an America president before. I think it's important. And he's taking a bet that because everything in North Korea happens from the top down that by going this route, he's going to make things happen that we never got happening before by trying to do this from the bottom up. Certainly worth the try.
But he's also making the bet, John, that Kim Jong-un responds to the profit motive here, that the idea that he's going to be turning North Korea into another Asian tiger as we used to call the developing economies like Singapore, that money and investment would flow in, that that is what will override Kim's interest in having nuclear weapons. And we've tried that before and it's never been the case, because Kim, if he thinks like his father and grandfather, believes the only reason the president flew half way around the world to sit down and talk to him was because he has nuclear weapons, that he wouldn't have done it otherwise, and that if nuclear gave up all of its nuclear weapons it would first be vulnerable, second the regime would be toppled, and thirdly, no one would pay attention to it. It would just be a broke country amid a whole lot of really rich countries.
SCIUTTO: What's interesting is looking at what's different now, what has changed for this moment. On the one hand it appears that the economic pressure North Korea was facing with China's help, and China really has the most economic leverage, that that was working, that that pushed North Korea into a corner. They wanted to talk and were willing to suspend tests, et cetera. So that is different on the positive side.
The other different thing is North Korea has achieved, as David said, that great ambition of theirs for years which is to be a nuclear power. They are a nuclear power. So those two things are in conflict. They want to and reasonably have economic benefits, but are they willing to give up or reduce what has been a lifelong goal, multiple generations of Kims, and which the CIA assesses is inherently tied to their sense of survival, that they need that.
BERMAN: You brought up China. Who knows what China's going to do in the weeks and months ahead? It's hard to know that China will continue to be as tough as they have been on sanctions after this meeting. We're going to have to wait and see on that. They've already loosened up. North Korea may not need as much as relief as they did before. David, Jim, thanks so much for being here. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, John. So President Trump and Kim Jong-un both declaring their historic summit a success. What's the reaction back here at home? That's next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump said the summit with North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un went better than anyone could have expected. The two leaders signed a joint agreement to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We haven't given up anything other than, you're right, I agreed to meet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: However, there was this surprise concession from the U.S. The president agreed to end joint military exercises with South Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: OK. Let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst, Max Boot, and CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent. Great to have both of you reunited, back by popular demand. Congressman Dent, what did you hear when you heard President Trump say that concession that the U.S. would stop the joint exercises with South Korea?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that particular statement caused me a little bit of pause, I should say. If you step back a second, this is the start of a very long process. I'm glad that tensions are down between the U.S. and North Korea, but, you know, to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula could take up to 15 years, according to Sig Hecker of Stanford --
CAMEROTA: Why is that? Why 15 years?
DENT: Well, according to Dr. Hecker, I mean, he's the only American that I'm aware of who has been to North Korea many times and seen their infrastructure. I mean, to give up the nukes, the North Koreans maybe have up to 60 nuclear weapons, would they decommission those weapons?
Of course, that's part of denuclearization, but then dismantling this nuclear infrastructure, which is rather robust throughout the country. So, that could take a very long time.
As far as I'm aware, I think there's only one country that ever really denuclearized and that was South Africa when they transitioned from apartheid to the current administration.
So, I think this is a very long process. So, there are a lot more questions than answers at this point. No skepticism is warranted.
[08:20:05] You know, the joint exercises, I don't think, I would have ever ever conceded to that point at this moment. I mean, North Korea still does have tens of thousands of artillery shells pointed right at the city of Seoul that conventional threat that remains.
So, you know, let's see, this is the beginning. I'm hopeful, but I'm also clear eyed about this whole situation.
CAMEROTA: Max, how do you see it?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It seems to me that Donald Trump made a lot of concessions and got very little in return. I mean, simply holding the summit was a massive concession the way it was staged. It basically elevates Kim Jong-un to be the same level as the president of the United States.
This legitimates his regime. Donald Trump apparently got no serious concessions in return for that and he made serious concessions. The language about denuclearization is essentially North Korea repeating the same thing they've been saying since 1992. They keep promising to denuclearize but in reality, they keep expanding their nuclear arsenal and what reason is there to think that this time they actually mean it. In fact, there's no -- there is no complete to the complete verifiable and irreversible disarmament that the Trump administration talked about.
There's no timeline or verification procedures. There's nothing specific whatsoever, but Donald Trump did specifically promise to end the U.S./South Korea joint military exercises which he called adopting the North Korean language, provocative war games.
And he apparently did not even notify South Korea in advance and meanwhile, his policy of maximum pressure on North Korea is in ruins. China is already relaxing sanctions, already giving South Korea reward.
And that will accelerate now because the U.S. is not going to impose new sanctions that were in the pipeline and it's not going to put pressure on other countries to cut off North Korea. So, I would say this was a huge, huge victory for Kim Jong-un. He played Donald Trump like a fiddle.
CAMEROTA: President Trump was not specific about the timeline that we should all expect, but he did address what in his mind will be a timeline. Let me play this moment for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT 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 some kind of an excuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: A moment of self-awareness, Congressman, where he says that he's basically looking at six months for some progress to be made and then he will make up an excuse if it hasn't happened, but what did you think about that?
DENT: That was quite an honest moment for the president, but I guess -- look, I think we need to engage immediately with South Korea and Japan on this. The test of whether or not North Korea denuclearizes will really be judged by them.
If this denuclearization process fails, I do worry about proliferation on the Korean Peninsula. It's important that our allies are firmly engaged in support of whatever decisions we make. It's not encouraging to hear that these joint exercises were suspended without discussions with our South Korean allies or perhaps maybe with General Brooks who's in command in Korea.
I don't know. So, I would tell you that right now, you know, a lot of skepticism is warranted. This timeline, I'm not sure what he expects -- what the president expects to accomplish in six months, but hey, this is the beginning of the process. We want to be hopeful and optimistic, but we have been here before.
CAMEROTA: Max, look, we just don't know. It's unknowable today. I mean, we've seen the pictures and no U.S. sitting president has done this before, but we don't know what happens tomorrow. What will you be looking for?
BOOT: Well, that's true, we don't know, but so far there's really no indication to think that this meeting is going to play out any differently than previous engagements in North Korea where they make these vast empty promises and don't deliver.
Now you're seeing why previous U.S. presidents refuse to meet with the dictators of North Korea. I mean, Donald Trump casts the very fact that they have this meeting as a huge achievement. But in fact, this is something that any previous U.S. president had done.
And all of his predecessors refused to do it because they did not want to give the dictator of North Korea something for nothing. They didn't want to give any massive concessions upfront. Clearly, we have not gotten those concessions. We have not gotten the kind of commitment to real denuclearization that Donald Trump said we were going to get back in April.
The other point that I would stress, Alisyn, which was to me very disturbing about the summit outcome was the way that Donald Trump praised Kim Jong-un, this vicious tyrant, who holds more than 100,000 of his own people on these slave labor camps and enslaves his own country, he praised him as a very smart leader, as somebody who loves his country and is loved by his country in turn, I mean, that's nauseating.
[08:25:02] If you want to get the reality of Kim Jong-un, just go back to Donald Trump's own state of the union address on January 30th, when he talked about the murder of Otto Warmbier and all the other abuses that the North Korean regime has committed. Those abuses have not ended. What has ended is Donald Trump talking about those abuses.
CAMEROTA: Max Boot, Charlie Dent, we really appreciate your perspectives on all of this. Thank you so much for being here.
Let's go back to John who is in Singapore who has been there watching every second of this historic day -- John.
BERMAN: Thanks so much, Alisyn. President Trump's outreach here in Singapore is a sharp contrast to the tensions he saw at the G7 Summit, so where do things stand with U.S. allies? Our experts weigh in next.
BERMAN: President Trump on his way back home to the United States. Kim Jong-un on his way back home to North Korea. President Trump today said he formed a very special bond with the North Korean dictator.