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Trump Cancels Summit with North Korea; Trump Speaks After Canceling Summit with North Korea. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 24, 2018 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So that's one thing. It looked from the beginning as the cart was being put ahead of the horse. Then you had the substance. What does denuclearization mean?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

AMANPOUR: It was clear that both sides started to say in public that it was meaning different things to each side. And the North Koreans wanted to see some kind of reciprocal action for each action or promise they made. And the U.S. was saying, no, once we get all of this done, you'll get sanctions relief and we guarantee you safety. They mostly said that.

Then you have this situation where, you know, you can talk until you're blue in the face about it, but President Trump, it looks like, has not been well served by his senior officials. His national security adviser and his vice president, who despite knowing what Libya means to the North Koreans, said it, not once, but twice. And you can parse it, you can say, oh, they didn't mean that, but they said it. And that gets the North Koreans in a total tiz.

What you have is this situation now with North Korea, you know, using its typical unpleasant rhetoric and making like threats and, therefore, getting the president of the United States to withdraw. Some are suggesting maybe it was just easier to cancel the summit right now, rather than go there, and not be able to come out with any big win. Because if it is about the total capitulation of North Korea, it is not going to work. That's not what is going to work, which is what John Bolton keeps suggesting. They want North Korea to capitulate, essentially, like the previous Republican administrations and the current one, wants Iran to capitulate. Those kinds of -- that's not a win-win negotiation.

So it is going to be very, very interesting now to see what is the next step and whether this can be resurrected, resolved, and have some real preparatory work if there's another summit. We don't want to see the alternative Plan B, which is more military threats and potential action.

BOLDUAN: Right. And what is Plan B and where do things go now? And whose move is it now? I think it is not determined. Mike Pompeo is speaking this morning. Was asked about the what now, and, Christiane, he says, in some ways, it is situation normal. The pressure campaign can continue.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I wonder if that's true.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure it will be. That's correct. Nothing actually has changed.

BOLDUAN: Is this situation normal?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: It is not normal.

BOLDUAN: -- you know?

AMANPOUR: It is not normal. None of this is normal. The fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and tests them and has been testing them and intercontinental ballistic missiles, that's not normal. It is a direct result of a Republican administration, George W. Bush, doing a similar thing, thinking, with John Bolton around him, and all his hard-liners, Cheney, Rumsfeld, all the rest of it, that they could, you know, get a better deal than Clinton did with North Korea back in the early 2000s, and ditching the North Korea deal and watching North Korea storm ahead to these nuclear capabilities and intercontinental ballistic capabilities.

There has to be some kind of rational diplomacy. If, indeed, that's the way you want to go, if it is about diplomacy, it has to be prepared, sat around, seen how you can actually do it, see what the other side needs, see what you need. That's international diplomacy. Not what the Republican congressman just told you before the break, that it is about, you know, total surrender and total capitulation and threatening annihilation and regime change. That is what is coming from the White House, from the national security adviser, and then for whatever reason Mike Pence said it, too, if Kim Jong-Un doesn't agree to a deal with President Trump, there will be a Libya situation. Those were his words, not mine.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Was it a threat? He said, non, it is more of a fact.

AMANPOUR: Well, is it? It is a choice. It is a military choice.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Sounds like Mike Pompeo's job just got harder, the secretary of state --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And the South Korean president, the South Korean president, too.

(CROSSTALK) AMANPOUR: As one person said to me, one expert, U.S. expert, he bet the farm, the South Korean president bet his farm on negotiations and on trying to resolve this diplomatically. I don't know whether he still has any standing with North Korea or with the U.S., but he's one widget.

BOLDUAN: One widget in all of it. We do know the South Korean president called a late-night emergency meeting over all of this.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: You can think that is the only certainty in this situation, that South Korea is trying to figure out what's next, that's for sure.

Great to see you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

[11:34:35] BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up any minute, we're going to hear from President Trump live from the White House for the first time since all of this has gone down. What does President Trump have to say today? We have live pictures inside the White House. There's going to be an unrelated bill signing that he'll be taking part it, but will the president take a moment to talk about this huge moment with his letter canceling the North Korean summit.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Soon, we'll be taking you live to the White House. President Trump will be speaking, meeting there, an unrelated bill sign, but we're all waiting to hear if the president will be making remarks, which will be the first time since the letter that he dropped canceling the North Korean summit with Kim Jong-Un just this morning. All on the heels of inflammatory language coming from the North Koreans, calling Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy." That was last straw apparently for the White House. The president saying now they can't go forward. Is that it? What is next?

Joining me right now, Michelle Kosinski, CNN's senior diplomatic correspondent, Nia Malika Henderson, CNN's senior political reporter, and Mark Preston, CNN's senior political analyst.

Great to see all of you.

Michelle, some of your reporting, from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when asked about the what now, he told you, in some ways, it is situation normal.

[11:40:11] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is him speaking to Senators on the Hill right now. This is a hearing that is supposed to be about the budget. Given this news, he was hammered with questions from Senators, many wanting to know, what is Plan B, what comes next. At one point, he sounded kind of dejected because there's not a lot to say as to what comes next. He just said, well, in some ways, it is situation normal, the pressure campaign continues. He did say there were discussions last night as well as this morning about what to do next and that it is Kim's choice. He said the U.S. welcomes that call and that outreach, that he hopes that the U.S. and North Korea can get back to a point where they're talking about a way forward, but this is very, very much in flux right now. And the big question being, does Kim Jong-Un come back to the United States and say, OK, OK, I'm ready to give you more of the kinds of solid assurances that you've been wanting to hear, Kate.

And, you know, even over the last few weeks, when we have been talking to our sources who have regular contact with North Korea, they had serious doubts that this summit would ever happen. And that was because of the wide gap that existed and still exists between how to accomplish denuclearization. North Korea has been 100 percent insistent on this being slow, phased, over time. They take one step, they get something in return from the United States. Whereas, the U.S. has been mostly insistent, though we saw some wavering just in the past two days, but wanting it to be this rapid denuclearization where North Korea agrees to it and starts that process, and only then do they reap the rewards -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Mark, as I was looking through the letter, yes, it is kind of vintage Donald Trump with his unconventional way, with his unconventional style, but it is lacking in kind of the inflammatory "fire and fury" that he's been known for in the way he describes when it comes to North Korea. I feel like that's noteworthy and maybe what the message he's trying to send with this letter.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: BOLDUAN: Yes. It is certainly -- he wasn't threatening that we were going to take North Korea off the map. Although he kind of inferred it. But there was --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Don't have to use it, or something like that.

PRESTON: Yes, we don't have to use it. But there was a tell in the letter. In the letter, he said, something along the lines that, while this is going to be helpful to us, and to you, it is not helpful to the world. That's interesting. It is a tell about how it is helpful to president to pull out of this politically here in the United States because Republicans aren't behind it. If it were to fall apart, it would be a bad campaign issue. And, quite frankly, we could end up with a very, very bad deal. So it is interesting that Donald Trump would put that tell in his letter.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that is really interesting.

Nia, also, talk about we have gone from where the arch of how Donald Trump is changing his approach towards the North Korean leader, from "fire and fury" to "he's an honorable man" and then -- and now where he is at this moment, but also where the talk has been about what Donald Trump has already accomplished, getting North Korea to sit -- getting them to announce they would agree to this summit. Everyone was talking about he should deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. And now this. Is this a failure or an accomplishment of what we're looking at today?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: It is hard to see what the accomplishment is at this point from Donald Trump's side. I think he clearly sort of rushed into this without really studying what -- how to follow this through, really studying KJU. If you think about the North Korean regime has been studying the United States for 50 years, right? This is what they have been preparing for. KJU very much wanted to have this meeting. And the meeting, in and of itself, was a great concession on the part of this president and didn't even necessarily, when he agreed to it, got anything in return. Obviously, over the last couple of weeks, there has been a return of those U.S. hostages.

But, listen, if you were Kim Jong-Un, he got a great deal of praise from an American president. This is something that has never happened, the idea that he was honorable and open. And even in that letter, ending it in this flowery way, saying, call me or write me if you want to have this meeting again. So we'll see. It seems like starting again at square one in a way that they probably now they have a chance to sort of prepare and Donald Trump has a way to study up on this. That's one thing that was striking when Pompeo talked about his meetings with Kim Jong-Un. He said he knows the files. He doesn't have to speak from notes in terms of talking about these complex issues. I don't think many people have the same kind of confidence of Donald Trump of going into this meeting and sitting face to face with the North Korean leader.

[11:45:17] BOLDUAN: Guys, if you could just stick with me.

We're going to try to fit in a quick break. We're looking at a live picture of the White House. We'll take you there. President Trump will be heading in, he will be there live. Will he make remarks? Will he talk about this, send a message to the world now of maybe what the next step is with regard to this shocking announcement canceling the North Korean summit?

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: We're looking live at the White House. We're waiting for President Trump to come in. A few minutes behind schedule. We'll have to listen to see if the president will address all his breaking news this morning, the letter he sent, he laid out, he released this morning announcing that he's cancelling the North Korea summit.

I think, at this moment, it might be important to read you what came from this letter. Let me read it for you. It's addressed to "Mr. Chairman." "We greatly appreciate your time, patience and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12th in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that, to us, is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to god they will never have to be used. I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me and, ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Someday, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind, having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world and North Korea in particular has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history."

Back with me right now, Mark Preston, Michelle Kosinski, Nia Malika Henderson. And joining the conversation once again is chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, I do wonder if there's anything, with everything we heard President Trump say right there, if there's anything that Donald Trump can say to get Kim Jong-Un to come back to the table now.

[11:50:39] AMANPOUR: Look, it's going to be interesting to see how Kim Jong-Un reacts because this has now set in motion a train of action and counteraction. And we've been discussing how it's been building for the last several weeks. I think that, you know, the letter, conversational tone is kind of unusual. It's not the sort of letter you would see between a president and the leader of the most -- the biggest dictatorship in the world.

BOLDUAN: Right.

AMANPOUR: But also, I think it's -- because it is so openly directed to the person of Kim Jong-Un and has been made public, it could have the effect of, you know, pushing his back against the wall, rubbing his face in it, sort of treating him like a naughty child. I don't know. Let's see how they react. But it's a very unusual of a letter. On the other hand, it does express the desire to keep the dialogue going, and that is a good thing, even though it has that veiled threat in paragraph two or so.

BOLDUAN: Michelle, Mike Pompeo, we know that he had said to the committee, where he's testifying on Capitol Hill right now, he also said that the U.S. had been preparing for the summit, but in doing so, had received no response to, like, their reach-out regarding the summit.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Was this the North Korean plans all along? Yes, like do they not -- were they thinking they were never going to the June 12th summit, no matter what? KOSINSKI: Kate, throughout this entire process, because so little

detail has been released on that process -- and rightly so. A lot of this needs to be done behind the scenes, obviously -- there have been these questions about how prepared is either side, really. Things as basic as, well, what does denuclearization even mean? Does it really mean the same thing to both sides? Because we're seeing indications that it doesn't. When and where is this going to happen? And does each side really want this to happen? Because we've seen indications of both ways in that regard, too.

And it was just yesterday we heard Mike Pompeo expressing what seemed to be more optimism than the president himself that this meeting would happen. I mean, he's been leading the teams. Obviously, President Trump is in charge of this effort. He agreed to the meeting in the first place. He pushed this to happen. He facilitated this. But Mike Pompeo has been the one leading the various teams within the U.S. government to actually get this going. So to hear him express more optimism than the president. And he's been asked several times. Remember when the president said there was reason for hesitation, that there was the significant chance that this would not happen? Mike Pompeo wouldn't go there. He was still saying he was optimistic and we've been working on it. Of course, what we don't know if that is what the discussions are really like. So to hear him today tell U.S. Senators, well, we've been reaching out to them, wanting to know more details about this actually happening and them not responding, it makes you say, wait a minute, I thought that would have been nailed down when Singapore and the date was announced. That could have been something North Korea had changed. And it was only just over a week ago, I guess, when we saw North Korea start to say, well, we might not have talks with South Korea now, and we might not do this summit because of the military exercises that the U.S. was continuing with South Korea. Well, that was weird because North Korea had made it clear, according to U.S. officials, that they fully understood that these military exercises were not aggressive. So that was a major indication that North Korea was having cold feet.

And our sources, who talk to North Korea regularly, feel that that indication over the military exercises was really just a smokescreen for the impasse that they say still exists over how denuclearization would happen. Would it be slow and phased over time, which is what North Korea insists it should be, or should it be immediate and only then does North Korea reap the rewards, which is what the U.S. has wanted -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's listen in right now. President Trump walking in.

[11:54:56] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

I'd like to begin by saying that based on the recent statement of North Korea, I've decided to terminate the planned summit in Singapore on June 12th. While many things can happen, and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world. I've spoken to General Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our

military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, that has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready if necessary. Likewise, I have spoken to South Korea and Japan, and they are not only ready, should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden, any of the costs associated by the United States in operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us. Hopefully, positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea. But if they don't, we are more ready than we have ever been before.

North Korea has the opportunity to end decades of poverty and oppression by following the path of denuclearization and joining the community of nations. And I hope that Kim Jong-Un will ultimately do what is right not only for himself but perhaps, most importantly, what's right for his people, who are suffering greatly and needlessly. All of the Korean people, North and South, deserve to be able to live together in harmony, prosperity and peace. That bright and beautiful future can only happen when the threat of nuclear weapons is removed. No way it can happen otherwise. If and when Kim Jong-Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting.

In the meantime, our very strong sanctions, by far, the strongest sanctions ever imposed, and maximum pressure campaign will continue as it has been continuing. But no matter what happens and what we do, we will never, ever compromise the safety and security of the United States of America. I want to make that statement. I feel very, very strongly about it. Our military, as you know, has been greatly enhanced. Will soon be at a level that it's never been before. Our approval of $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year, largely due to the help of a lot of the people with me today, and standing right here, we appreciate. But we had to do that for our military, and we've done it, and hopefully, everything is going to work out well with North Korea. And a lot of things can happen, including the fact that perhaps -- and we'll wait -- it's possible the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date. Nobody should be anxious. We have to get it right.

OK. With that being said, we have something else. Which I have to tell you, all of you, Chairman, Mike and everybody, that was a big deal until this came up.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't know. Where is Mike Crapo? Where are you?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Mike, congratulations. You did a great job, but it doesn't seem as important now.

(LAUGHTER)

But it is important. It's incredible. And it's incredible that you've done it and you've done it in a very bipartisan way, which is very nice.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

A very bipartisan way, Mike, and I want to congratulate you and everyone else.

I'm going to read a few names because these people worked hard. This is all about the Dodd-Frank disaster, and they fixed it, or at least have gone a long way toward fixing it.

Mike Crapo.

Thank you very much.

Steve Daines.

Thank you, Steve. Incredible job.