tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN August 10, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
thanks for watching 360. time to hand things over to don lemon. lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com president trump answering more questions from reporters today than he has in six months. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thanks for joining us. the president speaking for nearly half an hour today during his working vacation at his golf resort in new jersey. so here are the headlines. on the subject of his fire and fury threat to north korea, saying maybe it wasn't tough enough, and on noncommittal -- and noncommittal on the possibility of preemptive military strikes against pyongyang seeing we'll see what happens.
responding to vladimir putin's expulsion of hundreds of american diplomats, quote, i'm very thankful. now we have a smaller payroll. on the fbi's predawn raid on the home of his former campaign chairman paul manafort, i was very, very surprised to see it. and insisting he hasn't given any thought to firing special counsel robert mueller, saying i'm not dismissing anybody. as you can see, we have a lot to get to, and i'm going to talk about what the president had to say about the crisis with north korea now. so joining me now cnn national security analyst james clapper, the former director of national intelligence. it's so good to have you on. thanks for joining us. president trump finally took questions from reporters today and he says his fire and fury remarks maybe they weren't tough enough. he also said this about north korea's kim jong-un. >> he's not getting away with it. he got away with it for a long time between him and his family. this is a whole new ball game, and he's not going to be saying those things and he's certainly not going to be doing those
things. i read about we're in guam by august 15th. let's see what he does with guam. if he does something in guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before, what will happen in north korea. >> when you say that, what do you mean? >> you'll see. you'll see. and he'll see. >> is that a dare? he'll see. is that a dare? it's a statement. has nothing to do with dare. that's a statement. he's not going to go around threatening guam, and he's not going to threaten the united states, and he's not going to threaten japan, and he's not going to threaten south korea. no, that's not a dare, as you say. that is a statement of fact. >> so director clapper, president trump is upping the ante and so is north korea now. had they're vowing to mercilessly wipe out provocateurs. it's only getting more tense, isn't it?
>> well, for the north koreans part, this is kind of standard fare for them. that's the kind of verbiage they traditionally put out, and i just wish the president wouldn't engage in it. one of the things that is happening here is that this is great for kim jong-un, who desperately craves recognition. most of all by the president of the united states. when i visited north korea in november '14, i had a letter from president obama which the north koreans desperately wanted. in fact, it was really the only leverage i had. the letter didn't say much, just the fact that it was addressed from the president of the united states to him. so now that the president is engaging directly in the same level of rhetoric is, you know, just playing into their hands. and i do worry that this game of rhetoric chicken is going to become self fulfilling. implicitly the president has
kind of drawn a red line here and has implied or more than implied to take some direct action just based on the things that the north koreans say, which to me is not very responsible. >> okay. so i don't want to be, you know, apocrapha -- apocrophal right now, but when you say this game of chicken is going to become self-fulfilling, what are you worried that we are getting close to engagement? >> that this would spiral out of further control. and it's somewhat reminiscent to me of the history of world war i and how the world kind of blundered into that. and i hope we don't -- i hope people learn from history here and don't repeat that. so i don't think we're there yet. i think there's still time for other measures.
sanctions, diplomacy, all those kind of things. and by the way, working on our missile defense would be a good thing too. >> if the rhetoric is not ratch -- if it's not pulled back, your concern that we could unwittingly back into a war that was unnecessary. >> yes, because, you know, we don't have that much insight really into the internal mechanisms of how the north koreans make decisions. i suspect it's basically one guy, and he's rational on their scale, but i do worry about this unpress kepted -- unprecedented bellicose and threatening rhetoric from the president. i really wish he'd allow -- just let his secretary of state and secretary of defense do that for him and that he kind of throttle back, but that's -- i think that train has left the station a long time ago. >> director, i want to play something for you and get your
response, because this is the former national security advisor, susan rice. she spoke to my colleague wolf blitzer earlier today. made an interesting admission by the way that will probably get the attention of this president. watch. >> this has been a very, very difficult problem that has now vexed four successive american administrations, democrat and republican. and each administration has tried not only diplomacy, but increased sanctions and pressure, cooperation with china, and various other methods that we shouldn't speak about on television. and the fact of the matter is that despite all of those efforts, the north korean regime has been able to succeed in progressing with its program, both nuclear and missile. that's very unfortunate outcome. you can call it a failure. i accept that characterization of the efforts of the united states over the last two decades. but we are where we are, and we now need to decide how to proceed.
>> so interesting. when you hear ambassador rice conceding that there has been a failure of u.s. policy, does that bolster this president's case to change the strategy here to talk tough? >> well, i think it bolsters the case for trying something new, but i don't think resort to military action is appropriate yet. i have been an advocate for direct diplomacy with the north koreans. i was really struck when i visited there in november '14, you know, i've been there once. i'm not an expert. but the level of paranoia, and the seize mentality that prevails in north korea was overwhelming. i've followed korean peninsula e since i served there in the mid 80s and i was really taken aback by the level of the siege mentality and the paranoia that exists there.
and so i've been an advocate for years now of opening which right now is kind of hard to do, but an intersection in pyongyang much like we had in havana for decades to deal with a government we didn't recognize. this is not a reward for bad behavior but rather to have an inresidence diplomatic presence, a way of gaining greater insight and understanding in what's going on in north korea and perhaps most importantly, conveying information to north korea. so now -- >> that has not been tried? how would that work? >> no, it hasn't. and i don't know exactly how it would work. but i think the time has come to think about some direct dialogue with the north koreans. it wasn't so long ago that president trump was saying it would be an honor to meet kim jong-un. and perhaps a summit that could be brokered by the chinese. but this -- you know, don't pass go, don't collect $200 and we're
going to, you know, create a situation the likes of hiroshima or nagasaki which is implied in the president's threat, i don't think we're there yet, at least i hope to god we're not. >> are we to a point now where we have to accept, we meaning the collective, the world, accept that north korea will be -- will have a nuclear presence, will be a country that has nuclear weapons? >> absolutely. i think -- and i said this publicly when i served as dni that the notion of the north koreans denuclear rising is a non-starter. and i certainly saw that big time when i visited there as well. there is no way they're going to give up nuclear weapons. so i think we have to accept them as a nuclear state, which they -- >> but this president -- he doesn't want to be the -- pardon me because there's a bit of a delay here. but i mean, i'm sure president obama or any other president doesn't want to be the president where it became okay for kim
jong-un or for north korea to you say it's acceptable to have nuclear weapons. >> i'm not saying it's a good thing. i'm just being pragmatic. the first talking point i was issued by the white house when i visited there was you must denuclearize. well, they went nuts with that. they are not going to do that. they watched what happened to moammar gadhafi when he gave up his weapons of mass destruction and they see how it turned out for him. and they see other examples of that. they realize that with all their weaknesses, economic and their military, conventional military is very weak, so their only ticket to survival is their nuclear capability, whatever it is. so they're not going to give it up. so, yes, this -- particularly for this president, a very hard pill to swallow. but when you consider the alternative, which is not good, i would hope people would give that some thought.
>> this president has been very critical of u.s. intelligence. he was asked about that today, director. watch this. >> mr. president, you were critical of the intelligence in the run up to the iraq war. should we trust the intelligence now we're given about north korea? >> well, you know, it's different intelligence. i have my mike pompeo. i have great confidence many him. that doesn't mean i had confidence in his predecessor. okay? which i didn't, actually, although he did say good things about me. he did say he had no information or no anything on collusion. so i shouldn't maybe say that, but i will say it. but i have tremendous confidence in mike pompeo, dan coates, fantastic. i mean, we have people. i think your new head of the fbi is going to be -- i think i've done a great service for this country. i think that christopher will do a fantastic job as the head of the fbi. so, look, i have -- nobody has greater respect for intelligence than donald trump, but you have to have the right leaders.
i think we have great leaders right now. >> so, director, probably to no one's surprise president trump likes his own team better than the previous team, including you. but what's your reaction to him saying no one likes the intel better than him? >> well, i think he likes intelligence on a selective basis. he seems to accept the intelligence on korea or on syria, on china, on other areas, on terrorism, but when it comes to russia, nah, not so much. and, you know, i honestly thought that his assessment of the intelligence community would improve once he got rid of the two nazis, the two principal nazis, meaning john brennan and myself. so i recognize that he's entitled to have his own team and his own leadership in charge of the intelligence community. and he has that. >> what do you mean by the two principal nazis?
>> well, i think when the president at his news conference, i think it was on the 11th of january was complaining about the intelligence community assessment and the fact it was leaked and of course automatically blaming the intelligence community for that and referred to nazis, likened us to nazis, i think he really had in mind that john brennan and myself and perhaps as things unfolded, jim comey. >> i just wanted it to be clear for the audience so they would understand what you're talking about. director clapper, the president also took questions on the russia investigation. and he took a different approach to the issue. here it is. >> mr. president, you note the special counsel -- >> no, not notes. we're working with him. we have a situation which is really unusual. everybody said there's no collusion. you look at the counsel's that come in, we have a senate
hearing, we have judiciary. we have intelligence and we have a house hearing, and every walks out, even the enemies, they said no, well, there's no collusion, there's no collusion. so they're investigating something that never happened. there was no collusion between us and russia. >> mr. president, you thought or considered leading the dismissal of the special counsel is there anything that bob mueller could do that would send you in that direction. >> i haven't given it any thought. no, i'm not dismissing anybody. i want them to get on with the task, is but i also want the senate and the house to come out with their findings. >> so what do you think of his response there? it certainly wasn't as inflammatory as he typically is on twitter? >> no, it wasn't. and i certainly agree with his last statement that, you know, these investigations, whether in the congress or more importantly, i think, by a special counsel mueller, have to come to a conclusion.
on the issue of collusion, is as i said, i didn't see evidence of that. we saw things that concerned us with the interactions that we were seeing between members of the trump camp and the russians, without knowing necessarily what the content was. and we did not know about the meeting in june that has since been revealed, which by the way i think kind of proves we weren't surveilling trump tower. otherwise we should have known about it, but we didn't. but i think the big issue here is that for the sake of the country, for the sake of the presidency and both parties and everybody else, that there needs to be a conclusion and a resolution to this one way or the other. >> director clapper, always appreciate it. thank you, sir. >> thank you, don. thanks for having me. >> absolutely. when we come back, there's a lot to unpack from the president, him taking questions from the press for the first time in six months.
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for the big headline for president trump's session with reporters today, standing firm and doubling down on his warning to north korea. i want to talk about this with our panel. fareed zakaria, karischris cill. good evening to all of you. gentlemen, for he'd, did you get a chance on listen to director clapper? i thought his interview was very interesting, saying, listen, we've got to ratchet this back or we could unwittingly end up in some sort of military action that could have been avoided. >> it's stunning what president trump has been doing. traditionally when the united states is dealing with other countries, the president is
saved as the kind of last ratchet up in terms of warnings, in terms of using, you know, threats, in terms of deterrence. you have lower level officials make statements. you know, these are cautious, careful. then you have mid-level officials. then you have high level officials. and the president rarely makes the kind of threats, any kind of threats. these are very, very -- that kind of credibility is viewed as very precious. what you have in donald trump is something absolutely extraordinary. you have the president of the united states essentially threatening a preemptive or a preventive nuclear wear in asia, not in response to a north korean strike, but in response to north korea's rhetoric, the fact that they are disrespecting the united states. i mean, it is staggering. the only parallel i can think of is the one that president trump in a sense is invoking which is harry truman who said, you will
see a kind of fire and fury the rain the kind of which the world has never seen. but of course that was at the end of a carefully thought through strategy designed to force japan to surrender in the second world war. and when they didn't, when japan, in a sense called his bluff, harry truman dropped two atomic bombs on japan. in this case what we have is the art of the bluff. this is what trump does all the time, you know. he's got amazing stuff on obama, he's going to reveal. nothing. he's going to move the embassy to jerusalem, nothing. he's going to recognize taiwan, nothing. and my fear is the north koreans have watched donald trump. you know, i think at some level, i sometimes wonder whether trump thinks that the north koreans don't get cnn, so they don't know what's going on. but they know. they watch this guy make empty threats for much of his life and for a lot of his presidency. it's very worrying. >> and that's why they put in that statement, i'm sure, as you said, they get cnn.
he's on the golf course, and talked about his other actions, actions that they see as irrational. jim, what's interesting is that director clapper and others seem incredulous that this president would put himself on the same level as a kim jong-un i guess by it seems like he's punching down. he should be above the sort of rhetoric that he's spewing. >> listen, he's put himself in a retorque -- restore rhetorical tit for tat with north korea, which is a country that does this all the time. but there's no need really for an american president to do that. america has power and order of magnitude or two bigger than north korea presents, so there's no need to deal on a sort of one-on-one level. i think there's a sort of disappointing tendency to dismiss the comments of former officials like director -- former director of national intelligence james clapper because they served the previous administration, forgetting, of course, that he served republicans and democrats
through 40 years in intelligence as somehow not to be listened to. but he said just a few moments ago about how this reminds him of the march to war in world war i. james clapper is not -- i've interviewed him a number of times. spoken to him a number of times. he's not someone who tends towards bombastic comments. he has genuine concern about the direction of events in north korea, on the korean peninsula. he has personal experience on the korean peninsula as an intelligence officer. that is concerning for the country. it's not a political issue. it's not a partisan issue. the degree of tension today is for republicans or democrats, whatever end of the spectrum you come from, they should be genuinely worrisome. and that is something that, you know, our national security community has to listen to and make judgments in a sort of reasonable way going forward.
and it's concerning that this comes to be politicized, that the warnings of someone like a james clapper can be dismissed so easily as a partisan point of view when clearly it's not. >> chris, what's interesting is that it's been a long time since this president took questions or at least gave a formal press conference. he took a lot of questions today, but in those questions he responded by saying what he thought about the nuclear program. watch this. >> number one, i would like to denuke the world. i know that president obama said global warming is the biggest threat. i totally disagree. i say that it's a simple one, nuclear is our greatest threat worldwide. not even a question, not even close. so i'd like to denuke the world. i would like russia and the united states and china and pakistan and many other countries that have nuclear weapons to get rid of them. but until such time as they do, we will be the most powerful
nuclear nation on earth by far. >> okay. so i'm sure everyone would like to comment on this, but i'm going to give it to chris. because he hasn't had a chance to speak yet. he says he wants to denuke the world but he says that in the meantime, that we will, meaning the united states, will be the most powerful nuclear nation on earth. what do you think of that? >> i think it's unlikely to happen, don. i think i feel safe making that prediction. this is trumpism. he says things and then people around him, whether it be national policy, are forced to explain, walk back, contextual eyes, try to build a policy around what he's saying. denuking the world is something i think most people would agree is a good thing. it is unlikely to happen, even more unlikely to happen -- he >> he wants to denuke the world but doesn't want to denuke the united states.
>> i was going to say even more unlikely to happen if it is essentially, we'll wait until everybody else gets rid of their nuclear weapons then we'll get rid of ours. my guess is china and russia would not be keen on that. but again, what's difficult here is that his words matter. his words are watched not just by folks like us, but folks around the globe. and i'm not sure there's that much thought put into them on his part. i think he knows what he wants to say and he says it. the problem is what does it mean? fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen, well, what does that mean? does that mean a nuclear weapon? does that mean something else? is it just rhetoric? we don't know. and uncertainty is not a good thing in diplomacy and foreign affairs. and i think the nature of who he is, provocateur, someone who speaks and then kind of adjusts on the fly is a difficult match for what he is currently engaged in.
>> but my question, fareed is how does that play in pyongyang, in north korea, because doesn't that play into the hands of what kim jong-un is saying, that america wants to be the most powerful nation on earth? they want to run the world, that if they have nuclear weapons we should be able to have them too. he's sort of playing into it, the criticism that kim jong-un had is about america. we want to be the only one. >> look, what is the north korean rationale? people think a lot about our side of the story. imagine you're north korea, you're the small country that went to war with the united states and now faces an array of the major powers of the world all against you. the united states has made clear it wants to get rid of this regime. it has now enlisted china, the one ally you ever had and is voting against you. and now you have the president of the united states essentially threatening nuclear war and saying that it wants to be the most powerful country in the world. what would you to in that circumstance? you would buy insurance, and insurance in international life is called nuclear weapons. and you're not going to give them up if the president of the
united states seems erratic, paranoid, aggressive and hostile toward you. i mean, if you were to try to devise a scenario in which north korea would cling ever more fiercely and ferociously to its nuclear weapons, donald trump has written it. what you really need now is a very careful strategy of containment of deterrence and then maybe a human rights push, a push towards negotiations, but how can we do any of that? we don't have an ambassador in south korea. we don't have an assistant secretary of state for asian affairs. we don't have an assistant secretary of state for human rights. the secretary of state is busy cutting the state department by 30%. the president is welcoming the fact that vladimir putin is deciding which diplomats are going to be fired and which are not. i mean, we're in the middle of a kind of chaotic situation diplomatically and what trump is doing is adding to the uncertainty as chris was saying but also the sense of insecurity. and it's important to think
about the world from other peoples' point of view. and ask yourself does north korea feel more secure or you know, less secure and it's less secure, it's going to cling to those nuclear weapons as hard as it can. >> i want to play -- this is vladimir putin which you were talking about. let's play it and then we'll discuss it. >> i want to thank him because we're trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as i'm concerned, i'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll. there's no real reason for them to go back, so i greatly appreciate the fact that they've been able to cut our payroll for the united states. we'll save a lot of money. >> i wanted the viewer to hear it. go ahead. >> yeah. don, i mean, listen, a know a lot of folks in the foreign service who did not take kindly to those remarks. these are people who have dedicated their lives to the service of the government overseas. they have got families there. this is not a small thing for them. they might have liked an expression of support from the president, as russia an adversary is kicking them out of
the country as a diplomatic measure, right. that's one thing. the simplest thing. now, it's possible that donald trump was trying there, the president, trying to minimize the effect of the russian step, kind of be dismissive and say well, you know, vladimir putin, you haven't done much damage to us, you know, this will only save us money. that's possible. but from the perspective of the people actually serving in difficult assignments like that overseas in a country like russia, they did not take too kindly to that. i think you could understand that. >> and just very -- >> i need you to hold that thought. you're going to come back to that. chris, i'm going to get you to weigh in on this and also the president weighing in on paul manafort that predawn raid on his house. we'll hear what the president had to say and then we'll get a response from chris and then our other panelists will be right back. people would stare.
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back now with my panel. fareed zakaria, chris cillizza and jim sciutto. we're talking about the big headlines from the president's news conference today. chris has promised going to start with you. the president was asked about the fbi raid on his former campaign chairman paul manafort's home. watch this. >> mr. president, was it appropriate for the fbi to raid the home of paul manafort pre-dawn -- >> i thought it was a very, very strong signal or whatever. i know mr. manafort -- i haven't spoken to him in a long time, but i know him. he was with the campaign as you know for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time. i've always known him to be a good man. i thought it was a very -- you know, they do that very seldom,
so i was surprised to see it. i was very, very surprised to see it. we haven't really been involved. >> so relatively short period of time. six, seven very crucial months of the campaign. >> yeah. >> he says he hasn't spoken to him in a long time. is he clearly trying to create some distance between him and paul manafort? >> yes. but at the same time, that actually goes on longer in which he says again, but he's a good man, but i don't know him all that well, but it was unfair to wake him and his family up early. i mean, it's a whole sadly for me and my life i've read through the entire transcript. it goes on and on and on. he's trying to have his cake and eat it too which he does on a number of occasions it the transcript. and more broadly retorque -- rhetorically during his presidency. he wants to sort of defend paul manafort's be on the record and say he's a good man, i've always known him to be a good guy, the raid, the timing, haven't talked to him in a long time. now, he wasn't only involved in
the campaign for a much longer period of time than donald trump would like you to believe, but remember, he was brought in to -- >> roger stone. >> to bring the entire campaign into alignment to try to keep that ted cruz at the convention away. manafort was seen as sort of the washington establishment. he was brought in at a crucial, crucial time of the campaign too. so he's minimizing manafort's role, clearly on purpose there. >> i think here, don, what trump is doing, though, is something that -- it's very unusual and unorthodox, right. the traditional response of a president or any senior administration official to something like this would be we don't comment on fbi issues of the this is a department of justice matter. the law will take its own course. trump doesn't respond like that. he responds like a human being. he responds in a very personal,
emotional way, and you could almost see him struggling for words. i have a feeling that's one of the appeals of donald trump that we kind of sometimes miss, that he's willing to be loyal to people who he feels were nice to him, though as chris says, kind of very artfully trying to remind people at the same time i'm loyal to him, but i don't really know him. >> it wasn't a full-throated endorsement -- he could have said, listen, i really like paul manafort, i'm sure he has some issues, it has nothing do with me. it was like, okay, but he's a good guy, but you know what i mean? >> but you're seeing sort of trump, you know, if you watch him at his rallies, one of the things i'm always struck by, he's very human. he comes across as foibles, there's -- and the fact that he's not programmed, the fact that he'll go places where other presidents or politicians haven't we regard often as sort of shocking and in the case of north korea and nuclear weapons i think it is genuinely shocking and disturbing.
in a case like this i think, you know, it is clearly what makes people look at him and say, you know, we get him. >> yeah. you know, john, listen, fareed always makes a smart point. he makes a smart point here. he talks about people the way friends talk about friends, right. it's a very human description. but let's be honest here the bigger picture, yesterday we learned that the president's former campaign chairman, the fbi executed what's called a no-knock warrant on his private home in northern virginia. right? no warning. they came in the early morning hours on purpose because they didn't want there to be any warning. they wanted to know that he was there. they didn't want him to do anything before they got there. they executed that warrant, which they would have had to prove to a judge that they had probable cause of a crime to get that warrant to do it. and, listen, north korea is happening.
that's a major threat, but almost lost in the mix of this was that that happened yesterday. and regardless of what the president says, that is a significant moment. that's a significant moment, and it shows the seriousness with which the fbi and robert mueller are treating this investigation. >> and by the way, shows the fact to jim's point, shows the fact that this is short of firing bob mueller, this investigation is entirely out of donald trump's control. this is proceeding down the track. we know that. you know, mueller using a grand jury, this, subpoenas being out. i mean, there's a lot of things happening that we know that trump really cannot control and no matter how much he talks, no matter -- and he did it today again about this is -- there's no collusion, it's an investigation of something that didn't happen, all of his rhetoric doesn't change to jim's point the sort of hard realities of the mueller investigation, and it really gives trump no out.
he can't talk his way out of sort of that this investigation has a beginning, middle and an end, and at the end there will be some conclusions. that he almost certainly will disagree with, but there will be some conclusions here he's going to have to deal with. >> there's no ed of collusion. there's no evidence there wasn't conclusion. they're in the middle of the investigation right now. and listen, it could involve donald trump or it may not. it may involve donald trump associates. if it indeed happens. but speaking of talking, guess what? he talked about his election win as well today. watch this. >> there is no collusion. you know why? because i don't speak to russians. look, i won because i suppose i was a much better candidate than her. i won because i went to wisconsin. i went to michigan. i won pennsylvania. i fought a smart battle. that's why i win. i didn't win because of russia. russia had nothing to do with me winning. we had a great team and i guess i did a good job.
>> i recall watching i think it was this week a documentary from fareed zakaria about why president donald trump won. what do you think he's saying here? >> look, you know, it's perfectly natural that the guy who wins wants to be it was all him. but, you know, it's a big country. you know, 340 million people, whatever. you know, there were 3 million more people who voted against him. there are large currents here. the question is not whether trump ran a smart campaign and a very cost effective campaign. the question is not did he tap into something very real in the american psyche. he did all those things. you know, and he deserves enormous credit for it. but there is a separate issue whether there were some external factors that helped him, and i genuinely don't pretend to know. and there are essentially two or three different sets of issues. were the russians trying to hack. we know they were. was there some outreach from the trump side, for example, that told them where to target some
of these efforts? i believe that russian intelligence is very good at hacking. i don't know that russia intelligence knows which counties in pennsylvania and ohio and wisconsin in which to generate the kind of pressure or news or social media pressure that apparently happened. so those are the kinds of questions i imagine robert mueller is examining. they're not at all incompatible or they don't contradict what donald trump is saying. he deserves a lot of credit. it still might be, however, though many great boxers who were boxing in fights that were fixed. it doesn't mean they weren't great boxers, but the fight was still fixed. >> fareed is going to get the last word on that and here is why. thank you all by the way because fareed will be back with our cnn special report, why trump won. and don't miss sunday at 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. again, thanks. jim, chris, and fareed zakaria. when we come back, the president says maybe his threat of fewer and fury to north korea wasn't
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the president answering question after question from reporters today at his golf resort in new jersey, but the message he was sending loud and clear was to kim jong-un. so what does the rest of the world think of this? here to discuss, bill richardson, he's a former ambassador to the u.n., and rick grenell, who was spokesman for four u.s. ambassadors to the u.n. gentlemen, good evening to you. governor, i'm going to begin with you. the president spoke twice today on a wide range of topics and as we have been talking about, he said fire and fury might not have been tough enough and then he said, quote, let's see what he does with guam and he added that it wasn't a dare to north korean leader kim jong-un. what's your reaction to that?
>> well, i'm very troubled. you know, i'm a diplomat. you try to fix these problems through quiet diplomacy, through your secretaries of state, secretary of defense, special envoys. you worry about losing the support of countries like russia and china that enacted with the security council of the u.n. some very tough sanctions on north korea. i'm troubled mainly because i think we are stooping down to the level of kim jong-un in the rhetoric and very harsh rhetoric, the harshest that i've seen, certainly on the north korean side and unprecedented with the president. i've never seen a president get into the substance of the harsh rhetoric as much as president trump. so i'm very troubled. i'm discouraged. i want to see a diplomatic solution. i think there is one, very difficult, but, you know, i'm troubled. this is not diplomacy.
this is haranguing. this is bluster on both sides, and it's not helpful. >> rick, i want to talk to you about u.s. sanctions. are you troubled by this or are you okay with it? >> oh, no, i'm totally okay. but first i should sigh that we totally agree -- i totally agree with ambassador richardson. i think there is a diplomatic solution. i still think that there's a lot more that we can do. i don't think the rhetoric is the problem, don. i think if we look back and you go back to april 2016, president obama said we could destroy you in talking to the north korean leader. he said we could destroy you. now, fire and fury or we could destroy you? i didn't hear any of the left going crazy when president obama said we could destroy you. now, that was pretty clear. fire and fury i think i agree with president trump, he didn't
go to the level that barack obama did. so i still think that the rhetoric is not the problem. i was part of the team that put the first set of sanctions on north korea when john bolton led us in 2006 for that. i've seen successful sanctions, resolutions come and go. but they are not working. the typical kind of policy, u.s. policy has failed for more than ten years. i put myself in that -- >> let me lay it out there and let you continue. let me just lay it out there so you can continue, because on saturday the united nations passed a resolution imposing new sanctions on north korea. the president tweeted in favor. the united nations security council just voted 15-0 to sanction north korea. china and russia voted with us. very big financial impact and single largest economic sanctions package ever on north korea. over $1 billion in cost to nk, meaning north korea. first, why do you say that these sanctions are good but they're not great?
not great? >> well, i think that we have to get implementation from china. there's still more to do to get the chinese on board. we've seen this year china has increased their trade with north korea. that's very troubling. when you look at india and the philippines and china altogether that's 95% of exports. that's got to crack down. we still have u.s. foreign aid going to middle east countries still doing trade with north korea. that's got to end. the chinese decided to pull out the oil sanctions when nikki haley was negotiating. i wish we would have kept those oil sanctions in. those are serious sanctions. i still think we can do banking sanctions on the country of china. that's not without pain. it's certainly painful for americans who shop at walmart, they're going to buy products that are going to increase in price. our business community in wall
street are not going to be happy. but there is a diplomatic solution here. we haven't pulled the trigger on the real hard sanctions yet. >> do you agree with that, governor because why -- if we're still doing business with countries trading with north korea, then what's the point? >> well, i do agree with my colleague who i think makes a very good point. the tougher sanctions, the oil sanctions, banking, that's what would bring the north koreans totally, i believe, to their knees. if china didn't beat to them, russia would beat to them. i want to give credit to the trump administration for the sanctions. they're the toughest i've seen. they involve coal exports, north korean workers on both sides on energy issues, seafood. 80% of commerce goes into north korea through china. it's going to affect a third of
their yearly income. but they have to be implemented. they have to be enforced by the chinese. there's a lot of cross border smuggling and in the past china has winked at sanctions. so i believe if there's strong implementations that north korea's going to listen. whether they will shift to a diplomatic solution, i don't know. but i do think there is a diplomatic solution. i would, for instance use a secretary-general of the u.n., antonio gutierrez, well thought of. former prime minister of portugal. get some new actors in. it seems that same players are always doing the same thing. china, russia, six-party talks. that's fine but in the end it's going to be the united states and north korea with maybe some kind of mediation and a diplomatic solution that says okay in exchange for a dialogue with north korea you guys in north korea stop shooting those missiles, at least temporarily.
get a dialogue going but let it be done by tillerson, the secretary of state. we got too many mixed messages, too many actors involved right now. that's my thought. >> susan rice was on with my colleague, wolf blitzer, earlier and she agreed. she conceded that there have been a failure of u.s. policy seeming to bolster -- and this is for you governor -- seeming to bolster the trump administration's -- maybe their stance that there needs to be stronger language, maybe stronger rhetoric. you saw the sanctions happen here. how do you respond to that? there's enough blame to go around. the obama administration, the bush administration, the clinton administration and others before that. none, it appears has been tough enough on north korea. >> well, look, i concur with that. the policy with north korea has not worked. in the past i think -- >> is it time to accept then that they're a nuclear power and instead of trying to take their nukes away accept that they're a
nuclear power and figure out how to deal with them, bring them into the united nations as well, is it time to do that? that's what clapper suggested earlier on the program. >> i think you have to try to bring them into the international community. it's going to be very difficult. but i think it involves some kind of certification, the end of the armistice of the korean war. find some ways that they can get some economic assistance of people are starving there. i think there is a tradeoff. energy assistance. end of sanctions. armistice. maybe an end -- some kind of reduction of the military cooperation, although we have to stand strongly with south korea. but in exchange north korea has to curtail, degrade their nuclear and their missile capability, especially their potential ability which is happening to reach the united
states. i think there's a tradeoff there. >> rick, you're shaking your head no way. >> a couple points. one, i agree with the ambassador richardson. i think there's more we could be doing. six party talks failed. we have to get new actors in, that's true. i'm not a fan of unilateral sanctions. i think they never work except in the case of banking sanctions. we have yet to try banking sanctions on the country of china. again, that is not a solution that i think, in the words of -- >> not to interrupt you, you were shaking your head in response to accepting them having nuclear capabilities. >> that was my second point. i don't think we should ever accept north korea as a nuclear weapons state. never, ever. we should fight and work hard to make sure that that doesn't happen. we got to remember that the last time we had a credible threat of military action, not just a threat of military action,
but a credible threat, we saw the libyans give up their program. it resided in tennessee. here in the united states after they gave it up. so i want to believe as a diplomat that we can always find solutions to do that. i'm never going to say that we should accept north korea as a nuclear weapons state. i think that's a huge mistake. >> we got to be realistic. they have 21 nuclear weapons probably already. kim jong-un wants to stay in power. he takes everybody out as a threat to his power. and his biggest card is nuclear weapons. i think we have to concentrate on missile activity. yeah. let's try to make it a goal but to realistically think it's going to happen under kim jong-un, it's not going to happen. so let's have a framework agreement that phase into a serious degrading of their
military capability, missile and nuclear. that's the best we can do. >> the problem with that, ambassador, is that we tried that. wendy sureman was duped. even hillary clinton decide -- >> 20 seconds. >> i think that we tried to talk way too much and strategic patience has proven not to be beneficial. we now see 12 missile tests this year alone. miniaturization of a nuclear war head. those are some serious problems that we've seen under strategic patience. >> i've got to run. thank you, gentleman. fascinating conversation. when we come back -- the president saying his vow of fire and fury maybe wasn't tough enough. the latest threats to north korea. plus how the rogue nation is now responding. we'll be right back. time's up, insufficient we're on prenatal care.es. and administrative paperwork... your days of drowning people are numbered.
megan's smile is getting a lot because she uses act® mouthwash. act® strengthens enamel, protects teeth from harmful acids, and helps prevent cavities. go beyond brushing with act®. president trump answering more questions from reporters today than he has in six months. this is "cnn tonight" i'm don lemon. the president speaking for nearly half an hour today during his working vacation at his golf resort in new jersey. here are the headlines on the subject of fire and fury, the threat to north korea, saying maybe it wasn't tough enough. and noncommittal on the possibility of pre-emptive military strike saying we'll see what happens. on the fbi's predawn raid on the home of his former campain chairman paul manafort, "i was very, very surprised to see it."