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Reaction from South Korea and Japan; Trump Concession on Drills; Trump-Kim Summit Outcome; Trump Warns Trudeau; Graham Wants AUMF; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Politics. See you back here this time tomorrow.
Wolf starts right now. Have a great day.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 1:00 a.m. Wednesday in Singapore. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We start with the historic summit in Singapore. Both President Trump and the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, they are on their way home right now with an agreement in hand. It's a deal touted by the president as a major step toward peace. He says the United States got what it came for, a commitment from North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. Though the deal they signed is lacking in specific, concrete details about how that will happen.
As for North Korea, they have plenty of pictures showing Kim Jong-un's ascension to legitimacy on an equal footing with other world leaders. There is also an agreed desire for further negotiations and maybe, maybe, even another summit or two with possible visits to Pyongyang and the White House.
Here is some of what we heard from the president after the summit, starting with this praise for a man he once referred to as little rocket man, a maniac, and a bad dude.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Do you trust him?
TRUMP: I do trust him, yes. Really, he's got a great personality. He's a, you know, a funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator. He loves his people.
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 in -- 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. 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 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. 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 just -- I'll some kind of an excuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us live from Singapore.
Kaitlan, the president spoke with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the summit. What kind of reaction is he getting?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, those are two phone calls, Wolf, that the president presumably made to fill them in on what happened during his day of talks with the North Korean leader. Of course, South Korea is going to want to hear more about the president's abrupt announcement that he's going to end those joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. That -- you heard him right there saying were provocative and costly and that's why he was going to end them.
So the president, on his way back to Washington. But as he's leaving Singapore, those questions are following him about whether or not he gave away more to North Korea than he got in return during this summit here in Singapore. That statement -- that joint statement that the president and Kim Jong-un signed today after they met for at first one-on-one and then separately with their officials, is a statement that really doesn't have any new language in it that we haven't seen in past deals between the United States and North Korea, and that is why critics are raising questions about why the president is just going to take Kim Jong-un's word for it that he's going to denuclearize. That is what the president said today, that he had made that commitment.
But this document that you see, which the president said was comprehensive but is actually quite brief, does not include any language about enforcement. There is nothing here about verifying that North Korea has denuclearized. Nothing about inspectors going into North Korea to make sure they destroy these missile sites. No timeline for denuclearization either.
It doesn't include that language Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters just a few days ago they had to have, that was the CVID, complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. That language isn't in here, Wolf, and that is why the questions are being raised about whether or not this summit can be called a success right now.
BLITZER: Yes, the language in the document, in the joint communique signed by both leaders, reaffirming, and I'm quoting now, the April 27, 2018 Panmunjeom declaration. The DPRK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea, commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But it avoids those specific words.
[13:05:12] Kaitlan, thank you very much.
As Kaitlan just mentioned, one of the major developments to emerge from this summit and from the president's news conference, was his declaration that the U.S. will now suspend its military exercises with South Korea, as well as the potential withdrawal -- potential withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea.
Here's exactly what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's inappropriate to be having war games. So, number one, we save money, a lot. And, number two, it really is something that I think they very much appreciated. I used to say this during my campaign, as you know probably better than most, I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have right now 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. And I'd like to be able to bring them back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let me bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, what's the reaction over there to the president's comments?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have some breaking news for you on that very point. We have learned just within the last few minutes from the Pentagon press secretary, Dana White, that Defense Secretary James Mattis was consulted and not surprised by the president's announcement on the potential suspension of joint military exercises with the South Koreans. And the Pentagon, she says, is in full alignment with the administration on this. That would not be a surprise that the Pentagon would say it's in agreement with the president.
But we don't -- we know now that Secretary Mattis was consulted and not surprised. What we do not know is how much initially he might have been in agreement with a suspension of joint military exercises because we also know that the Blue House, the presidential office in South Korea, was apparently surprised. They issued a statement that they were now going to have to figure out exactly what President Trump meant by his statement about all of this.
The key questions now going forward are, what exercises will be suspended? Will it, in fact, be all of them? The next major military exercise scheduled for just a few weeks from now in August. So they will have to figure out a way ahead on all of this.
There are many people that would remind you that these joint exercises are about the defense of South Korea. They've been going on for years to help South Korea and U.S. troops be ready to defend against any North Korean threat. It looks like the president gave Kim Jong-un two key things that he wanted for North Korea. The North Korean leader, that is. The suspension of exercises, and they may not resume, and also the possibility, at least, of withdrawing the 28,000 U.S. troops that are on the peninsula. President Trump very much opening the door to that down the road and already agreeing that he would -- stating that he would suspend exercises in South Korea.
BLITZER: Yes, the president has said on many occasions, going back many, many years in interviews with me and other journalists, he doesn't like having all those troops in South Korea, all those troops in Japan, even in Germany, he'd like to see those troops come back home. And he's reiterating what he has said literally for decades.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you very much.
Let's bring in Leon Panetta right now. He's the former CIA director, former defense secretary under President Obama, and the former White House chief of staff under President Clinton.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me get your quick reaction. All of a sudden the U.S. has decided, the president announced, that the joint military exercises with South Korea, which have been going on for decades, will be -- will be suspended. He says they're expensive, provocative. Your reaction?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I'm very concerned by what the president did. I think it's a mistake to cancel those exercises without getting anything in return. My sense of negotiations is that one party offers something and gets something back. In this instance, the president has given North Korea first the summit with the president, which gives legitimacy to Kim Jong-un as a world leader, which is a significant step. And we got nothing in return. And now he's saying we're going to cancel these exercises, which are extremely important to the security of South Korea, and we have gotten nothing in return except the words of North Korea that they are going to proceed with denuclearization. I just think that all of us have to be very skeptical of what's happening until these words are tested by actions.
[13:10:06] BLITZER: The president says that North Korea did give up a lot, even before the summit. He says that those three Americans who were detained, they were released. He said North Korea set off some explosions at various nuclear testing facilities. They've suspended their ballistic missile tests, their nuclear program. They've suspended nuclear testing as well. Do you believe North Korea gave up enough to justify what the U.S. has now done? PANETTA: I think the fundamental problem is that President Trump ought
to listen to the words of Ronald Reagan in dealing with the Russians, that you can trust them but it has to be verified. And, unfortunately right now, we don't have any system of verification or inspection in place to determine whether or not the North Koreans are serious about moving towards denuclearization.
I think the standard was set by Secretary Pompeo where we want complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. That will only happen if we have a very robust inspection and verification program in place. As far as I can see, no steps have been taken towards that goal.
BLITZER: Well, let's see if that does develop. The president says it will.
On human rights last month, the State Department said this. Let me read from the State Department report. For more than 60 years, the people of North Korea have faced egregious human rights violations in virtually every aspect of life.
But today the president said, and I'm quoting him now, it's rough -- it's rough in a lot of places. He also said that the tens of thousands of political prisoners in North Korea are going to be the real winners of this summit.
Is the president giving North Korea a pass on human rights issues, or is he being forceful enough?
PANETTA: Well, you know, I would hope not, because, look, the president himself has set a high bar here. When he rejected the Iranian agreement that was worked out with regards to dealing with nuclear weapons, he rejected it because it wasn't comprehensive, didn't deal with missiles, didn't deal with aiding terrorism, didn't deal with human rights issues. And it seems to me that the test here is whether or not any agreement with North Korea is going to be comprehensive. And if it is going to be comprehensive, it not only has to deal with nuclear weapons, with missiles, with their efforts to enrich fuels, but it's going to have to deal with human rights as well.
And I think that's going to be the standard that any kind of future agreement is going to have to be judged by. He can't give them a pass on anything because he has said -- he himself has said that any agreement has to be comprehensive.
BLITZER: He did, in the joint communique, the full text which was released, it did say this, and you're a former defense secretary, so it's a sensitive issue. The agreement said the United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. There are thousands of POW MIA remains believed to be in North Korea. I assume this is something you welcome.
PANETTA: I welcome it very much. We have always been very concerned about our ability to recovering the remains of our POWs in North Korea. And we have for years tried to make efforts to try to make sure that they would cooperate with us in returning those remains to their loved ones. I'm glad that that issue was raised. I'm glad they've committed to it. But like everything else that we've seen over this -- these last 24 hours, the real test is going to be whether or not there are actions to back up the words that have been agreed to. That will be the test of whether or not this is just another failed agreement, or whether it's a significant step to trying to achieve world peace.
BLITZER: And as you correctly point out, there have been several failed agreements over these past many years.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
PANETTA: Nice to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Condos on the beach. That was part of the president's pitch to Kim Jong-un in a surreal video he showed. We're going to play some of that for you.
As the president praises a dictator, he's also calling a U.S. ally obnoxious for his comments about trade with the United States. There's a new war of words with Canada.
[13:15:00] And the White House insisted Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were sacrificing to work in Washington. But new today we're told they made $82 billion last year while working in the White House. The questions that raises and much more right after this.
BLITZER: As President Trump praises North Korea's dictator on the world stage, the president is still dealing with a very messy fallout from the G-7 summit over trade tariffs. The president once again publicly scolding one of America's key allies, warning Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, of the consequences of retaliating against U.S. tariffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody was happy. And then he gave out a little bit of an obnoxious thing. I actually like Justin. You know, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, joining us now, California Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
[13:20:00] Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
What's your reaction to the way the president has been reacting, treating Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, as opposed to Kim Jong-un? REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it's so jarring to hear the president of the United States talk about one of our strongest allies as obnoxious, as weak. It is so distressing. And, of course, we've seen this pattern with criticism of our allies, the alienation of Germany and France, Australia, which fought with us in every war we've been engaged in. So it's deeply distressing but so jarring when you compare it to the praise he had for Kim Jong-un. The way the president talked about how he had this difficult task, he did marvelously well of consolidating his power. Well, he murdered members of his own family. This is the person -- as well as an American -- and this is someone the president is now praising to the maximum degree.
BLITZER: What do you think of the president's announcement that the U.S. was now going to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea? Because, as you know, this is something that the North Koreans have hated for so many years.
SCHIFF: Well, look, we all wanted this to be a productive summit and lead to a successful negotiation, but you have to say, looking at it objectively, the North Korea really got a couple key concessions, and China did as well. We got nothing but a vague promise. They got the cessation of military activities. They got the president of the United States to use their own language in describing that as provocative. This is how the North Koreans and the Chinese describe these military exercises, which are for our security and for the security of our South Korean ally. To make that concession, to do so even without consulting our South Korean ally and get nothing in return except the vague promise of some future denuclearization, a promise more vague than, in fact, we had received in the past from North Korea, Kim has got to be very happy with how this turned out. To be on the stage with the president of the United States, to get this concession and not have to give up anything for it.
BLITZER: Well, they -- they have, as I pointed out to Leon Panetta, they have done certain things leading up to the summit, like suspended their nuclear testing, suspending their ballistic missile testing, releasing three American detainees. All of that is significant.
SCHIFF: Well, it's significant, but you would expect, at a minimum, that if they're going to get a meeting with the president of the United States, they're going to have to repatriate Americans they've held hostage. I mean how could a president ever meet with the North Korean leader while Americans are still held hostage. So certain things were an absolute minimum.
But those were all done prior to the summit. What they got at the summit, we got nothing for in return. And someone who bills himself as a great negotiator, I think just got out negotiated by this young dictator.
BLITZER: Yesterday Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, he said he hopes that something positive emerges from all of this. But, if not, then the military option should certainly be on the table. He wants Congress, the House and Senate, to pass an authorization for the use of military force against North Korea if necessary. Listen to what another Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, told
me last night in "The Situation Room." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There's really only two options, peace or war.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Lindsey Graham is a danger to the country by even proposing ideas like authorizing war with Korea. My goodness. So that should be something that is seen as naive and seen as something that really serious people shouldn't even really be discussing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Where do you stand?
SCHIFF: Well, I wouldn't call Lindsey Graham a danger to the country, but I do agree it's a very bad idea. And --
BLITZER: To have an AUMF?
SCHIFF: To have basically --
BLITZER: Authorization for the use of military force?
SCHIFF: Authorization passed in advance, a prospective authorization, in case things don't go in this negotiation the way we want. That's a terrible idea. And I'm surprised, given the history we've had with the preexisting authorizations, which have never gone away, of unlimited duration, and the problems that's caused in terms of congressional oversight in our ability to put a meaningful constraint on the president's ability to make war, that we would even suggest having this kind of blanket authorization in advance of any imminent danger.
BLITZER: On this you're with Rand Paul, not Lindsey Graham.
SCHIFF: Certainly concur it's a very bad idea.
BLITZER: The president was willing to meet with Kim Jong-un, really without any preconditions. He said he would do so during the campaign. But another presidential candidate said he would meet with leaders from North Korea and other regimes during a presidential campaign.
Let's go back to 2007. This is then-Senator Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Sure sounds like, at that point, he and Donald Trump are on the same page. Go ahead. It's better to talk than not talk, even with leaders of rogue regimes.
SCHIFF: I think that it's certainly better to talk than not talk, even with your adversaries. Sometimes more important to talk with your adversaries than ever.
[13:25:06] BLITZER: But he says even without any preconditions.
SCHIFF: Oh, I understand, but, as president, he was not going to have a meeting with Kim Jong-un and make military concessions to him and get nothing in return. That, I think, was a very naive decision by Donald Trump to expect that by virtue of his wonderful personality or his keen insight, having just met Kim Jong-un, he could tell that he was a trustworthy person. That's a mistake George Bush made with Putin, that we not -- should not make with Kim Jong-un.
BLITZER: There's more we need to talk about, other stories that are unfolding as we speak. We're going to get the congressman's reaction to the new ethical questions being raised over Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump making $82 million last year while working for the president in the White House.
And the White House economic adviser who said Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada stabbed the president in the back suffers a heart attack. I'll speak with someone who's in touch with Larry Kudlow. That and much more. Stand by.