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Trump Praises Kim and Fights with Allies; Denuclearize Korean Peninsula; Asylum Changes; Parades for Both Coasts; Achievement of Summit; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump today said he formed a very special bond with the North Korean dictator. Now, contrast that with the meeting that he attended before coming here to Singapore, the G-7, where he left really in a fight, a bitter fight, with America's closest allies, including Canada and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

So I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst and former deputy secretary of state Tony Blinken. Also joining us, the former Canadian ambassador in the United Nations and foreign policy adviser to successive Canadian governments, Paul Heinbecker.

Gentlemen, I want to play you the praise that President Trump gave Kim Jong-un today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a worth negotiator. He's negotiating on behalf of his people. A very worthy, very smart negotiator, absolutely. And we had a terrific day and we learned a lot about each other and about our countries.

QUESTION: What did you learn about him, sir?

TRUMP: I learned he's a very talented man and I also learned that he loves his country very much.


BERMAN: He's a talented man that loves his country very much. This comes just days after -- well, let me play it for you, he had his own advisers, Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro, say this about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, he kind of stabbed us in the back. He really, actually, you know what, he did a great disservice to the whole G-7.

PETER NAVARRO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.


BERMAN: So, Ambassador Heinbecker, let me start with you.

You know, there's a special place in hell for your prime minister, Justin Trudeau, yet Kim Jong-un is a very talented man. How does that strike you?

PAUL HEINBECKER, FORMER CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, it strikes, I think, just about everybody, which is preposterous, of course. The real place in hell is reserved for the guy who's systematically undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, and the international rules based order, walking away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, walking away from the Iran agreement, threatening the NAFTA agreement, imposing tariffs on Canadian lumber exports to the United States, imposing tariffs on Canadian steel exports to the United States, imposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports to the United. States.

And this at a time when the United States has a trade surplus with Canada and indeed had a trade surplus on steel with Canada. He complains about Canadian agriculture policies and yet the U.S. has a surplus with Canada on agriculture trade. And the U.S. has its own protectionism in terms of tobacco, sugar and many other products, plus there's the $20 billion U.S. farm subsidy program that delivers money directly into the hands of American farmers.

So, you know, the problem with this discussion is that we're talking about the symptom, we're not talking about the cause. And the cause is that the United States is behaving -- is a bully in international trade relations. It's -- you know, America first has become America only. And the idea that there could be a win-win situation seems to have escaped them in Washington.

BERMAN: Tony, if we can bring the discussion back here, to contrast what happened in Canada with what happened here in Singapore. What's the risk? You know, you want a meeting to go well. You want a negotiation to go well. But what's the risk of using language like calling Kim a very talented man, saying that they formed a special bond, saying in an interview that the president said that the people of North Korea love their leader, Kim Jong-un?


First, look, let's put this in perspective. I'd much rather be on balance where we were than where we were just a few months ago, before the Olympics. It looked like we were heading inexterably (ph) toward war and conflict with North Korea. Now at least we're talking diplomacy, peace, denuclearization. So that's good.

But what's bad is this, North Korea's made commitments before, far more detailed than the very, very loose commitments we heard today and reneged on them promptly thereafter. So we're not going to know for some time whether there's any there there, whether there's any beef in this hamburger. At the same time, the more President Trump talks up the success of the

summit and talks of Kim Jong-un, the more it's a green light to countries like China that they can take the pressure off. The pressure that President Trump helped to build on North Korea. That takes away our leverage to really keep them at the table and keep them focused on doing the right thing.

Basically, where we are now is that Kim Jong-un is pretty much gotten everything upfront, international recognition, sitting side by side with the president of the United States. The Korean -- the North Korea flag and the American flag flying together. He's gotten a loosening and a lessening of the pressure. He's gotten President Trump to say that he's going to cancel our exercises with South Korea, defensive exercises that have been going on since the end of the Korean War. And for what? A piece of paper that commits him to very little and certainly is not even as detailed as commitments he's made before.

[08:35:15] BERMAN: Tony, let me ask you, there's an interesting sort Twitter debate right now, which is, what if President Obama had come to Singapore and met with Kim Jong-un right now? You have liberals saying -- you have liberals saying that, oh, my God, the conservatives would be killing President Obama, crushing him for doing this, you know. And then you have conservatives saying the opposite, saying, you know, that the liberals would be saying, what great outreach this is by President Obama. Where do you come down?

BLINKEN: Yes, no, look, I think the hypocrisy meter is in the red, as it often is in Washington. And you can be sure that if President Obama had been in those pictures with Kim Jong-un, we'd be hearing calls for impeachment. That's why I say, I'm -- I'm good with the diplomacy. I applaud President Trump for making this effort for doing diplomacy, for moving us from talking about war to trying to talk about peace and denuclearization.

But the devil is really in the details. And, look, those who forget history are condemned to retweet it. There's a long history with North Korea. North Korea has a tendency, basically, to string, ring and walk. It strings out negotiations, it rings out economic concessions and then it walks away from its commitment. If the president keeps focused on that history, as we move forward, then maybe we can get to a good place, but we're nowhere near that today.

BERMAN: I think you -- the comment you made on history, those who don't know it, are condemned to retweet it. I like the irony of that statement you made there, Tony.

Ambassador, if I can bring it back to the G-7.

President Trump was asked about the spat that he had with members of the G-7 today, specifically about that now famous picture where the president is sitting down surrounded by the other members, you know, glaring at him. And this is how the president explained what happened.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The picture with Angela Merkel, who I get along with very well, where I'm sitting there like this, that picture was, we're waiting for the document, because I wanted to see the final document as changed by the changes that I requested. That was a very -- I know it didn't look friendly and I know it was reported like sort of nasty both ways. I was angry at her. She -- actually, we were just talking, the whole group, about something, unrelated to everything. Very friendly. Waiting for the document to come back --


BERMAN: So that's how the president explained what happened in Quebec, ambassador.

You know, it's interesting, ambassador, I -- you know, we have yet to hear from U.S. allies, members of the G-7, about this meeting that just happened here in Singapore with Kim Jong-un. What do you think U.S. allies in the G-7 make of what just happened?

HEINBECKER: Well, I'd just like to add one further thing, and that is that the -- the relation -- the spat between Canada and the United States originates with the imposition of tariffs on Canada for national security reasons. And, remember, Canada is the country on 9/11 that received 30,000 American passengers and put them up and 200 American planes landed in Canada without -- because they were not able to land in the United States. This is a country that's got a relationship with the United States that goes back in war time to the first world war, the second world war, the Korean War and the first gulf war, Afghanistan. And to be called a national security danger of some kind to the United States, is somewhere between perplexing and insulting. And that's why Canadians are upset. And that's why the Canada prime minister said what he said.

BERMAN: Right.

HEINBECKER: And what he said, by the way, he'd been saying to Mr. Trump all along anyway, if he had been listening, he wouldn't have been surprised by it.

As for the --

BERMAN: Ambassador --

HEINBECKER: The attitude of allies towards what's going on in Singapore, people will welcome the prospects that -- and the actuality of talking about peace instead of talking about war. It was after all Mr. Trump who was talking about war not very long ago. So the -- allies are bound to welcome --

BERMAN: Ambassador Paul Heinbecker --

HEINBECKER: Whether they got a -- whether he got a good deal or not, I don't know.

BERMAN: Ambassador -- Ambassador Paul Heinbecker, thanks so much for being with us. Tony Blinken, always great to have you. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

HEINBECKER: John, thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn, let's go back to you in New York.

CAMEROTA: John, the speed of this summit is a good thing because the faster that the president has left means you will be back in the studio all the quicker.

So, thanks so much for all of the reporting from Singapore.

BERMAN: Yes, thanks. The time zones confuse me. I think if I leave now I get back like next Friday. So, we'll see.

CAMEROTA: I think if you leave now you get back yesterday.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

CAMEROTA: Try that.

BERMAN: Right. See you soon.

CAMEROTA: All right, fantastic.

[08:39:53] So, meanwhile, the Trump administration taking an even harder line on immigration, separating more undocumented parents from their children. What's the effect of this zero tolerance policy? We have a live report from the border for you next.


CAMEROTA: The Trump administration is making it even harder for asylum seekers to gain entry into the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ordering immigration judges to stop granting asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border.

What are you seeing there, Ed?


Well, that announcement also comes on the heels of the Trump's administration zero tolerance policy for anyone crossing into the United States illegally. And you're seeing that play out here.

We're in McAllen, Texas, just outside the federal courtroom. All of these buses that you see here just outside are bringing in undocumented immigrants for the most part into this courtroom this morning.

We talked to a federal public defender yesterday who described the scene inside the courthouse. We can't take you in there because cameras aren't allowed. But they say since the Trump administration instituted this zero tolerance policy of charging everyone who enters the country illegally with illegal entry, that these courtrooms have been filled up. The numbers have swelled to almost 200 people per day, which is far different from what the public defender said used to be during the Bush and Obama administration, maybe 20 to 40 cases a day. And those numbers have only gone up here in recent weeks, Alisyn.

[08:45:22] CAMEROTA: OK, Ed, thank you very much for keeping an eye on that important story for us. We'll follow it.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, it is parade Tuesday as sports fans on both coasts get to celebrate their team's championships.

Lindsay Czarniak has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Hi, Lindsay.


First of all, they have not stopped smiling here in Washington, D.C., where today tens of thousands are expected to be downtown to celebrate the Capitals first ever Stanley Cup title. Twenty-six years since this town has hosted a championship parade. And out west, it's old hat for the Warriors. They celebrate a third NBA title in four years with a parade later this afternoon in Oakland.

Back to Washington. Man, the Capitals have been nonstop partying, Alisyn, since Thursday. Stars Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby capped it off last night, taking the Stanley Cup to "The Tonight Show." They let Jimmy Fallon take a drink out of the Stanley Cup. Watch this.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Wait, guys, it's taking too long. It's taking too long. I think you know what you got to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Let's do it.


CZARNIAK: Yes, the drink turned into a keg stand.

Alisyn, by the way, you can fit 16 beers inside the Stanley Cup. That is fact. I learned that years ago.

CAMEROTA: I think he just drank three of them. He looked dizzy afterwards.

Lindsay, thank you very much.

CZARNIAK: You got it, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, so history was made in Singapore, but what happens next? David Axelrod has some thoughts on that in our "Bottom Line." He's here, next.


[08:51:08] CAMEROTA: President Trump hailing his summit with Kim Jong- un as a success, but much of the language from their signed agreement reiterates what had been pledged before. So what have they achieved?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's David Axelrod.

David, you may have seen this movie before. It's a very historic day. The first sitting U.S. president has a summit with Kim Jong-un. So, how do you see it from your experience?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let me say, I agree with Tony Blinken, who was on your air just a few minutes ago, in that diplomacy is far preferable to a catastrophic war. And any war with -- on the Korean peninsula would be catastrophic. So, in that sense, it was a big leap forward that we're talking.

You know, eight months ago, the president was chiding his own secretary of state in a tweet, telling him he was wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man. But it's kind of a head spinning turn. And we've gone to fire and fury to flattery and you fear maybe flim flamery (ph). You said we've seen this movie before because the North Koreans didn't agree to anything that they haven't already agreed to.

And they got a great deal out of this. That meeting alone, that summit alone was a huge propaganda victory for the North Koreans to be elevated in the way that they were. And then the issue of joint exercises with South Korea and the suspension of them. That was a big victory for North Korea.

So what remains is, what do we get out of it? How -- how are we moving forward with a country that is notorious for breaking its word and reneging on agreements that it's made in the past. And so what happens from here is very, very important.

CAMEROTA: Look, I don't want to be too Pollyannaish about this. However, maybe that legitimacy that they've gotten now, because they got to sit down with the president of the United States, maybe that will make it harder for them to be bad actors in the future.

AXELROD: Maybe. I mean you're talking about a brutal dictator who is the biggest human rights violator on the planet, who the president now says we have a special bond with and who he trusts. I think trust has to be earned. And we'll see if he earns it.

It is peculiar, though, I mean it comes after a weekend in which the president was waging a war of words with our closest allies. And even in this press conference he promised to punish Canada for its insolence. And so we're pushing our allies away and we're embracing the world's foremost human rights violator, a guy who's threatened us with nuclear weapons.

We should be talking to North Korea. We should be trying to resolve this through diplomatic means. And I understand that the president thinks that if he flatters Kim Jong-un, that maybe Kim Jong-un will submit. But a lot of history suggests that there's going to be -- this is going to be a bigger challenge than the president suggested at his press conference. CAMEROTA: Another head spinning element of this, David, is, all of the

president's media boosters, who's heads exploded when Barack Obama suggested that he would meet with the U.S.' enemies even without preconditions are now champions of this move and cheerleading President Trump, who just did the same thing that President Obama had said he would do.

Do you think President Obama should have done something different now in hindsight, now seeing all of this -- what seems to be, you know, warm reception with Kim Jong-un and maybe a possible path forward? Should President Obama have done it differently?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think that it is fair criticism to say that a succession of American administrations have failed to subdue North Korea's nuclear program. I think that that is -- that is a fair statement. And so a different approach is something that should be embraced, but only if it leads to something that is real and tangible.

[08:55:22] Right now Kim Jong-un went back to North Korea with winnings in his pocket and all we got were vagaries in exchange. And the question is whether this translates into something real in the future? Right now it was a great TV show. It wasn't a resolution of hostilities. And so, you know, I am for diplomacy and I applaud the president for taking the step of pushing diplomacy, especially since we seem to be hurdling toward war just a few months ago. But it -- it isn't meaningful unless it produces real tangible and verifiable actions on the part of the North Koreans. And there was nothing in the statement they signed that would assure us of that result.

CAMEROTA: OK, David Axelrod, always great to get your perspective. Thank you very much for being with us.

AXELROD: Great -- great to see you.

CAMEROTA: It's another historic day here at home because "Amanda Wakes Up" comes out in paperback. This is a novel about an idealistic journalist who faces all sorts of ethical dilemmas during a crazy presidential race. I don't, I don't know where my imagination goes so wild. You can pick it up at your favorite book store now, Barnes & Noble included.

Time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Anderson Cooper right after this break. See you tomorrow.