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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  September 3, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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hello again everyone. thank you for being with me. i'm fredricka whitfield. i want to welcome viewers from around the world as well. president trump lashing out at north korea hours after the regime announce successfully detonating a powerful hydrogen bomb and that it could now be placed on a vessel. president trump calling today's developments very hostile and dangerous. that from president trump. then escalating tensions even more as the president of the united states and the first lady left church. >> mr. president, would you attack north korea? >> we'll see. >> president trump not ruling out a military strike on north korea, and summoning his
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national security team to discuss the latest provocation. in fact, it's north korea's third act of defiance since president trump issued his threat of fire and fury. today president trump's threats include trade, saying the u.s. could cut ties to any countries doing business with north korea, and that would include china, which would make it a very difficult task. and north korea's nuclear tests drawing condemnation from around the world and minutes ago we learned the united nations security council will discuss this tomorrow. our correspondents are in place around the globe. the white house has already issued a statement saying -- "the national security team is monitoring this closely. the president and his national security team will have to have a meeting to discuss further, all of it further today." we will provide updates as necessary. cnn athena jones is live at the
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white house. begin with you, athena. what more are we hearing about the president's agenda today and this issue? >> reporter: hi, dprfred. we know the president's national security team is closely monitoring the issue, learned that from the white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders. you put up on the screen the people among the many officials the president is meeting with to discuss this issue. vice president mike pence, the president's national security adviser h.r. mcmaster, chief of staff john kelly, defense secretary james mattis, secretary of state rex tillerson and others meeting to discuss this very important issue. as you mentioned, this is north korea's sixth nuclear test. the first one during the presidency of president trump. we saw him take to twitter early this morning in a series of tweets condemning this action calling, saying that north korea's words and actions are very hostile and dangerous to the united states. saying that north korea is now
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presenting a great threat and embarrassment to china, and then calling out south korea, a close u.s. ally in the region, saying that their talk of apiecement with north korea won't work. a series of interesting tweets, but i want to talk about that statement we heard, that brief comment we heard, that answer he gave to a reporter as he was leaving that church service right across lafayette park from the white house. he was asked if the u.s. would attack north korea, and the president said, we'll see. now, that sounds ominous but it's a phrase we hear from hit often and signifies he's keeping his options open. if you listen to white house counselor kellyanne conway, she spoke to that in an interview with fox news. we'll hear from kellyanne conway and steve mnuchin. >> the president is not going to broadcast to north korea or anyone else ahead of time what the united states did do next. he has called that out as a failing of american national security, and foreign policy in
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the past administration at the very least. >> we're going to strongly consider everything at this point and, again, i will draft a package for his strong consideration that would go as far as cutting off all trade or other business, and this behavior is unacceptable, and if countries want to do business with the united states, they obviously will be working with our allies and others to cut off north korea economically. >> reporter: you heard from sek mnuchin one of the steps united states is considering and president trump echoed the same call in a tweet a couple hours ago saying the united states is considering in addition to other options stopping all trade with any country doing business with north korea. well, interesting about that, fred, is that china is responsible, trade with china is responsible for some 90% of north korea's trade. so that's sending a signal to china, which is, the u.s.'
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largest trading partner, among them, at least, that the u.s. could consider an option like that is pretty extreme but something the white house is said to be considering and bottom line no good options here. diplomacy so far hasn't worked, it hasn't halted north korea's nuclear ambitions or progress towards its ambitions and this is why this is such an intractable problem that the international community has yet to be able to solve. >> athena jones at the white house. thanks so much. now to the korean peninsula, paula an cox johancocks from seh korea. what's the mood there? >> reporter: fredricka, it's remarkable how it is business as usual continuing in south korea, but certainly this time around for the sixth nuclear test and the responses we're seeing from the u.s. president, donald trump, there are more concerns than there usually are and certainly what we're seeing from the south korean president moon
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jae-in, an about zusurd mistake. a flurry of diplomatic activity as well. we know that a couple of times on sunday there were phone calls between the joint chiefs of staff chairman between the u.s. and south korea and they decided there should be some kind of combined military measure as soon as possible. potentially we to see a show of force. maybe b-1b bombers as we saw last week flying over the peninsula. we've seen that hasn't stopped north korea. kim jong-un is good at ignoring actions like this. and one thing interesting to south koreans, it's 4:00 a.m. in the morning here, they'll be waking up shortly. when the u.s. mentioned south korea and told them that's simply not going to work, the appeasement. we heard after those tweets in a text message, because just so many reporters asking them about
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it. they wanted to specify the u.s. and south korea both agree on sanctions. they both agree pressure sanctions should be able to bring north korea back to the negotiating table. also giving a quote saying, korea is a country that has experienced war. we can't let this experience be repeated again on this land. we will pursue the denuclearization of the korean peninsula with our allies and that quote quite poignant after those two little words from president trump saying, will you attack north carry? "we'll see." jae-in said there will not be a second korean war. >> paula hancocks, thank you. and ramping up it up talk, not ruling out a military strike. the tone is warranted, because diplomatic solutions have failed to rein in north korea. some former national security experts are calling for less
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edict and rhetoric. >> we're still along that restrictable arc that i think most people watching this problem expected. i mean, the timing may have been a bit of a surprise, but the north, i believe, was going to do this. this is their plan. this is where they were going. they're doing it for their own purposes. i don't mean to criticize the current administration. i think some of the things they've done to amp up the pressure on the north koreans have been absolutely appropriate, but you realize, the sum total after seven months of the trump administration is that north korea is much further along in its missile and its nuclear program. >> joining me now, cnn chief international correspondent christiane amanpour. former cia director michael hayden saying the president should not allow this to become personal with kim jong-un. is it too late? is it already personal? >> reporter: no, who, it's never too late. most know a military option is
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just not feasible. and there has to be something short of that. at least tried to the utmost extent. that has to be right now. a de facto acknowledgement north korea has this capability and is not giving it up. what it's told. the latest round of american former officials, cia analysts who met with north korean officials, they are not going to give up their nuclear deterrent, not going to denuclearize, they say. they need this to protect the survival of their rhee regime. what must the u.s. and its allies sdo? make it absolutely crystal clear even if north korea has this capability right now, using it will bring all sorts of catastrophic consequences on them. in other words, absolutely create some kind of reality and containment and deterrence that north korea doesn't use this, have some kind of period of cooling off and conjunction with a whole load of other measures,
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diplomatics, sanctions, all the other permanent five to speak with one voice, then potentially see where there might be in the future some kind of room for negotiation. to that end, fredricka, the president's words towards south korea are rather troubling, because nobody really thinks that the south koreans have been engaging in any kind of appeasement. they also have been saying public there there needs to be a tough response, even if there are going to be talks. there must not be daylight between the united states and its south korean ally. there are all of those american forces there, all the dependents, all the different experts and officials in that region. and north korea must not be able to push a wedge between the united states and its allies, south korea and others in that region. the other thing that has to happen, the united states has to persuade china that if it doesn't want to be see more u.s. buildup, for u.s. military, more money going into building up
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what the chinese really hate, and that is the american military presence in that area, then china has to decide that it needs to be much stronger and much more effective on north korea. and, also, china needs to hear from the united states that the u.s. is not interested in regime change in pyongyang, nor interested in removing china's buffer between itself and u.s. forces. that's what north korea is. and that, therefore, there must be a real sort of meeting of the minds to try to coordinate a coherent response and to really make sure that this is containment that works. >> at least one of those three points that you made, the challenges for the white house, is it enough that trump would then tweet that countries that are doing business with north korea need to stop. china being one of them? >> reporter: here's the thing. china needs to put a lot more leverage on. the fact of the matter, yes, there have been periodic
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sanctions leveled against north korea and it's been going on for decades now. but there's never been the same kind of sanctions, for instance, leveled against iran and that were fundamental and instrumental in bringing iran and its civilian nuclear program. iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons it's not a nuclear weapons state but had a civilian program the world was worried and and unprecedented sanctions on iran was instrumental in the ability to move forward with negotiation and also come to this, as you know, the nuclear deal between iran and the rest of the world. so there has to be some kind of coordinated response, if there's going to be sanctions. in terms of cutting off trade with everybody, you know, most people believe that would have a huge affect on the global economy. but it does have to be a strategic shift in china's regard to this problem, because right now china is calculating
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that it is better off with a nuclear north korea rather than a collapsed north korea, and better off you know, having north korea still existing as a buffer between it and u.s. military presence in that region. >> and christiane, at any moment we expect a live comment coming from the white house, roughly one to two minutes or so from now. of course, when that happens we're going to take that line. one of the other points you made, meantime, of known daylight, we see pictures where that statement will be coming from outside the white house there, you mention there should not be any daylight between the u.s. and south korea. but we know that, it's already expressed, president trump wants to pull out of a trade pact with south korea. >> reporter: yes. >> in a way of leveraging or quieting or responding or getting ahead of what's happening in north korea. how might that be a potential setback? >> reporter: it's -- the timing is very, very unfortunate. because that is basically you
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know, sort of hanging -- leaving the ally out there hanging and twisting in the wind. i mean, right now the u.s., whatever the president feels about trade and fairness and unfairness or whatever, has to really be standing shoulder to shoulder. you know? the u.s. extends its nuclear umbrella -- >> stop you right there and listen to the statement from the white house. >> -- we had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president about the latest provocation on the korean peninsula. we have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them. we made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, south korea and japan. from any attack, and our commitment among the allies are ironclad. any threat to the united states or its territories, including qualm or our allies will be met
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with a massive military response. a response both effective and overwhelming. kim jong-un should take heed of the united states security councilal unified voice. all members unanimously agreed on the threat north korea poses and remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely north korea, but as i said, we have many options to do so. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> mr. secretary mattis, do you believe there is a nuclear warhead -- that very short but to the point response coming from defense secretary james mattis. christiane amanpour back with me now making it clear we're not looking for the annihilation of any singular country but at the same time saying the u.s. will
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meet any defiance from north korea or anyone militarily with a massive military response. how important, how provocative, are these comments? >> reporter: it's really important. you saw it was delivered with sober intent. you saw that it was two military officials. obviously, general mattis is now a civilian but has a massive reputation the world knows about as a former general, marine commandant, and also you had the chief, the highest military official there standing next to him, and delivering an unambiguous message to north korea that should they use -- as i was saying -- should they use, be so foolish as to use any of their new capability, then that will bring an overwhelming response from the much more powerful military of the united states of america. and so that is the message that needs to go out there and the north koreans must be in absolutely no doubt that if they do breach that line they will be
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paying for it. north korea, we've been told by those who engage with those official there's. the former defense secretary, william perry, believed in conversations before this latest test that north korea, the regime is not "suicidal." that they will thought start a nuclear war. that's what they believe. however, you cannot underestimate the possibility for a blunder. you cannot underestimate the possibility for a catastrophic mistake of north korea, living in that sort of isolated hermit kingdom, which i visited several times at a time when negotiations were working, and not knowing potentially what message is coming from the u.s. well, now they have an unambiguous message. not interested in annihilating you, but if you use any of that capability, you need to pay nap needs to be the start of a very smart, new coordinated gathering of containment and deterrence
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sbi the u.s., its allies in the permanent fight and the security council. >> that terse and succinct message may have quieted or allayed fears of any kind of pre-emptive strike that the u.s. would impose, given that there have been so many missile tests. this one at a whole new level, but clearly a lot of global fears about, you know, whether the u.s. would preemptively be doing anything. >> reporter: you know, that is a hard decision to take, a pre-emptive strike. again, speaking to ish official from a few years ago thinking that was a potential -- you know, an effective measure to take, but that was before north korea became so, you know, proficient. you know, in the years in which -- just sitting there with kim jong-un not just sitting there. been racing towards its military nuclear objective. it has dozens of warheads.
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now we know it has icbms. now it says, and claims, to have a miniaturized hydrogen bomb to put on an icbm bomb that could reach the united states of america. the game-changer what this test was all about. that is the most important thing right there. >> yes. the sophistication and speed of that add mansement, prolific. christiane, i want to add to the equation, athena jones, white house correspondent. athena, talk to us now about the brevity of this statement, and the style of this statement? >> reporter: hi, fred. right. very, veriy brief. you've summed it up. secretary mattis saying the president, we have many military options and the president wanted to be briefed on each of them. they talked how the u.s. has ability to protect its allies, the u.s. itself and the u.s. commitment to itself and allies in the region is ironclad and threat to the u.s. and allies
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met with a massive military response. not looking to totally annihilate north korea and the message is clear. the united states has military options and is willing to use them if necessary. interesting how brief that statement was and the fact the defense secretary didn't answer any questions. he was asked, is war going to happen? i tried to ask how they can avoid if there were military option used, a military strike in north korea, how would they avoid retaliating on south koreans? 10 million people who live in seoul and didn't answer any questions. walking away. one thing important to remember, fred, in one way or another we've heard these sorts of statements in the past. we've heard the u.s. officials say that every option is on the table military option. that's fraught with a lot of danger. interesting, not that these are, this is entirely new rhetoric. it's the timing. seems to come in a ramped-up
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moment, the stakes raised by this sixth nuclear test and one with an incredible amount of words and intercontinental ballistic missile tests showing north korea is able to send missiles over a wide range. it's ramping up things here and hard to know what's going to happen next. >> cnn's pentagon correspondent barbara starr also with us now and so barbara, a brief statement, but that it was framed and presented by general james mattis, head of defense. really it sends a stronger message than that message coming from, it would seem almost anybody else, particularly a civilian, coming out of the white house? >> reporter: look, fred, the big headline, that it was the defense second, james mattis. accompanied by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general joe dunford that came out and faced tv cameras.
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why is this so important? you cannot overestimate the significance of these two men appears in front of a tv camera. the significance, they don't like to do that, appearing in front of the world's television news cameras because the president of the united states wants them to. both of these men have taken very low profiles, especially on north korea. they talked about diplomacy being the key option. they never talk about military options. they've run, you know, from the concept of having to come out in public and talk about it. so i, covering them every day here in the pentagon, i find it absolutely stunning that they both came out in front of tv cameras and made this statement. this statement would have been very carefully worked, word by word. they both clearly had the president's desire for both of them to appear, and make this statement. very unusual, and i think one of
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the key things that the secretary said, not looking for the annihilation of north korea, but he keeps coming back to the point if north korea attacks, that, or threatens the u.s. or its allies, that they will be met by military force. so he's -- he's not foreclosing the notion of a pre-emptive attack, because, you know, there's always that thing. the u.s. doesn't take options off the table, but again laying down pretty clearly the message to kim jong-un. don't attack, don't even think about it, because we will have overwhelming force, and this is right now the u.s. strategy. to convince kim jong-un that if he were to attack, if he were to use these weapons, his very existence would be threatened, that his regime, he and the people who support him, would be wiped out. that this is the only way to get through to kim, to convince him that he cannot survive if he were to use these weapons and
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for kim, the u.s. thinking has always been, his survival is job number one for him. so really extraordinary that you are seeing mattis and dunford come out and talk to the world media. >> yeah. you know, barbara, while we're talki talking, i'm hoping we're in a position to rerack that. a very short statement but nice to hear it again. we do have it. let's hear that statement one more time from john -- james mat is -- mattis. succinct, the language used have very important. here we have it right now. >> ladies and gentlemen, we had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president about the latest provocation on the korean peninsula. we have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them. we made clear that we have the
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ability to defend ourselves and our allies, south korea and japan. from any attack and our commitments among the allies are ironclad. any threat to the united states or its territories including qualm or our allies will be met with a massive military response. a response both effective and overwhelming. kim jong-un should take heed the united security council, all threats north korea imposing, they remain unanimous on the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely north korea, but as i said, we haveble options to do so. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> secretary mattis, do you believe -- >> barbara, a message to north
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korea and also a message to allies, south korea, japan? >> exactly. this was a military message from the united states to the military leaders in the allied countries out there, namely japan and south korea. you did not see any white house political tinge on this. you did not see h.r. mcmaster, the national security adviser, who's come out before. you did not see the president come out talking about fire and fury. you saw a very restrained james mattis with general joe dunford standing at his side. it is well worth noting, both of these men have decades-long relationships with john kelly, the chief of staff. all three having served in the united states marine corps. all three men are personal friends. i don't think it's too far to go out on a limb to suggest that
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kelly, who is well understood to be a pretty calming influence in the white house operation probably had something to do with this. this is framed very much as a u.s. military message, and, again, every word would have been looked at for total meaning before they came out and secretary mattis read it. what really struck me, when you listen to it, he said that the u.s. was not looking, not looking, for the total annihilation of north korea. but the u.s. is looking for kim jong-un to change his ways, and very much send kim the message that he can't survive his regime will not survive if he were to attack the united states or its allies. that is what this is all about. i think sending that very clear message to kim and sending it in a way with mattis and dunford it has not been sent before. i just want to repeat. these two guys, they don't like to come out on tv. they don't like to talk to the press corps very much.
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we have not seen this before. >> hmm. so christiane, earlier making the point about how important it is that the u.s. have no daylight between, oh, it's allies like a south korea and, of course, we no japan as well. so a message like this coming from james mattis. how might it be received if you are kim jong-un in north korea? >> reporter: oh, it's very, very important. what just happened. for all the reasons we've been talking about and barbara outlined. this is an unambiguous message to north korea. bottom line is the fact they now have apparently an extra capability and that they are there. they want to be considered and treated as a nuclear power, and they want to ensure the survival of their regime. their two main objective and have said that they will not give up their nuclear deterrents and not denuclearize. said it in the past, before this
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test. you did hear secretary mattis say that the ultimate objective was denuclearization of the peninsula. right now it's hard to see how exactly that might be accomplished, and the best option in a pretty bad situation right now. after, frankly, decades of u.s. policy towards north korea, have is viewed all over the map, the best option, try to figure out a proper containment regime, that harks back to the united states, obviously, involved in during the cord war. vis-a-vis the soviet union. obviously, the balance of power is so much more in favor of the united states at this point, but even a slight lashout by north korea, even just with conventional weapons, it puts millions and millions of people in harm's way, in greater seoul and in japan and in that area. plus not just people from those countries, but american forces, american dependents. the greater american allied
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presence in that region. so this is an extremely tense situation. everybody knows that north korea is "the" most -- difficult foreign policy situation to square with right now, and it's going to take a lot of very coordinated, concerted, sophisticated activity by the united states and its allies to keep sending a unified and clear message to north korea. >> and athena, we just ladder from michael hayden on another network, it can't appear to be personal between kim jong-un and donald trump by having james mattis make this statement. did that remove, you know, any potential message that it would have been personal, had that come from anyone else in the white house? including the president. >> reporter: i think it certainly helps. remember, president trump has taken to twitter numerous times in recent weeks and recent
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months, and often uses fiery, over the top rhetoric. just a few weeks ago he promised fire and fury, in response to any threat from north korea. he also has talked about going to be able to use military options and i think the idea you had the defense secretary coming out and delivering this very measured response. not talking about fire and fury, not using phrases like locked and loaded, yet still delivering a stern warning and repeating a warning that u.s. officials had been giving. a statement of fact, the u.s. is committed to its allies in the regions, remains committed, and spoke statements saying as much. the fact this is happening now, the fact it is the defense secretary and chief of staff out here delivering that message i think is significant. >> all right. thanks so much, ladies. stick around. michael hayden was actually on our network. watching a replay from earlier today. we are getting more reaction
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particularly from south korea now that we hear from james mattis, defense secretary saying we are not looking for the anatural ligs of a country, namely north korea. much more, right after this. i had frequent heartburn, but my doctor recommended...
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welcome back. following breaking news. defense secretary james mattis just issued a statement outside the white house regarding action towards north korea following its latest provocation. this response coming just hours after the regime announced its successfully detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb. paula an cox joins us from seoul and reaction coming from seoul. >> reporter: well, fredricka, i think south korean officials will be waking up probably in the next couple hours quite relieved by what they would have heard from secretary mattis there. it's been quite an interesting
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several hours when it comes to the relationship, certainly, between south korea and the united states. the u.s. president donald trump slamming north korea for being hostile and dangerous, but also criticizing in a tweet that he said south korea appeasement, he calls it, would not work. that actually provoked a very unprecedented response from the blue house. the president's office here, that they actually sent a text message actually to journalists with some kind of response saying that south korea and the u.s. did agree on sanctions. that they both agreed that pressure and sanctions would be the right way to try and bring north korea back to the negotiating table. also specify there's has been war on the korean peninsula that there cannot be another war. the fact the secretary of state -- excuse me, secretary of
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defense of defense assuaged fears that south korea certainly is being passed over. of course, there are many concerns, still, about the potential military option on the korean peninsula. many officials here said it would be catastrophic. many officials within the trump administration said it would be catastrophic as well. the fact that mattis says, they're not looking for annihilation of another country, namely north korea, would certainly be welcomed here as well. the annihilation of north korea would at the same time mean catastrophic circumstances in south korea as well. certainly here in seoul where i am. >> reporter: paula hancocks, thank you. for those joinings us here, james mattis, his remarks outside of the white house. >> well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. we had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president
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about the latest provocation on the korean peninsula. we have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them. we made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, south korea and japan from any attack and our commitments among the allies are ironclad. any threat to the united states or its territories including qualm or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. kim jong-un should take he'd of the united nations security council unified voice. all members unanimously agreed on the threat north korea poses and remain unanimous in the commitment of the denuclearization of the korean peninsula, because we are not looking to the total
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annihilation of a country, namely north korea, but as i said, we have many options to do so. thank very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> secretary mattis -- >> very short tastatement. no questions entertained from defense secretary james mattis. bring in my panel, christiane amanpour, a cnn presidential historian and cnn political commentator, dave jacobson and republican strat jit egist alic stewart. welcome back and welcome to the rest of you to the table here. tim, to you first on this. will a message also be sent to particularly our allies that listen to what the defense secretary has to say? perhaps dismiss some of the tone of the tweets coming from the president of the united states that came as early as today on this matter? >> well, i have to say that i'm a little bit hung up on the --
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the phrasing of the red line that the secretary of defense drew. i believe he said, "any threat." >> he said "threat." not strike. >> would be met by a massive military response. i -- i wonder how you operationalize that? does that mean the next time kim jong-un threatens, you know, rhetorically qualm or anywhere else that we will respond with military force? given that secretary mattis has been so careful in his choice of words, i was surprised by linking, that he would link a threat to our country with an automatic military response. that surprised me, and that might put the white house in some kind of difficulty, if the north koreans continue to play their provocative game. >> hmm. that's a good point, christiane,
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but you're nodding your head. is threat too vague, broad, or should the language have been with a little more precision? >> reporter: general mattis has been around the block for a long, long time. i understand what the gentleman was just saying, that it may sound somewhat vague and the red line not clear. the fact is a threat is as gn as an action once a chaunt tountrye capability that north korea claim what's had ta after this nuclear test. so it needs to stop threatening and be told it needs to stop threatening. it now has the capability. it now wants to be taken seriously as a nuclear power and, therefore harks to behave seriously as a nuclear power. i mean, the soviet union didn't go around threatening to strike the united states during the cold war. they knew that there was language that was indicative of intent, when two countries
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possess the kind of overwhelming annihilating force that they did during the cold war. so this is a whole new ball game now that this test has happened. north korea cannot afford to be loose with its language anymore. it cannot afford to -- to indicate any strategic ambiguity whatsoever, because it will draw a response. if you hear the words of general mattis standing right next to the chairman of the joint chiefs. s that was a very deliberate messaging, a very, very precise message, and the game has changed today. and it just has. now what -- what mattis said i'm not sure is entirely you know, in the realm of ready in terms of wishful thinking. the five permanent members of the security council are not all on the same page. yes, they do not want a nuclear north korea and any kind of accidental war, but they have not been tough enough on
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pyongyang and they have taken pyongyang's side and its vision of how to end this stalemate saying that the u.s. has to move off the peninsula in order for north korea to, you know, to step back. china has to be persuaded if it doesn't want to see a buildup of u.s. forces, a bigger buildup, a bigger military force behind south korea, a bigger amount of deterrence, it has to take the measure it can to stop north korea. >> alice, was more clarity brought from the white house by way of james mattis' remarks today? >> fred, i think a few takeaways, first, that the president and the vice president called the military leaders in to listen and wade through what military options are possible with regard to north korea. i think it was important that mattis reassured we are willing to take action to protect the united states and our allies being japan and south korea nap wars important. stressing the security council's
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complete universal decision and commitment to fighting against north korea. i think that was very strong in that whatever military force we would use would be overwhelming. it's important to take this on the heels of what we're hearing from the president today in his tweet saying that the north koreans actions are hostile and unacceptable and also looking at other options with regard to this. saying that they are a threat and embarrassment to china, in my view that means we need to push china to force north korea to halt their weapons program and saying we should stop doing business with other nations that do business with north korea. i think hitting them in the pocketbook would also go a long way. but more than anything i think between what we heard from the president and what we just heard from mattis, all options are on the table. also heard from secretary tillerson this week that a path to diplomacy is also an option. we're not clearly leaving any stone unturned with how to respond to north korea. >> and so, dave, how do you see
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this? this -- does this, you know, start something anew when where the u.s. is on threats or strikes or the continued, you know, testing that north korea is carrying out? >> it's no secret this is a highly combustible situation. right? i think the challenge is, you've got donald trump this morning tweeting, attacking and essentially criticizing our key ally in the region south korea, saying that they're essentially have been moving forward on an appeasement agenda. sort of undercutting our key ally at a time he should be criticizing and lambasting the north korean government. optically made sense to have secretary mattis come out be the cool, calm, collected leader subpoena someone with widespread support across both democratic and republican leadership. i think being the face of the message this afternoon was a smart play. i think the president needs to tamp down the rhetoric.
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his tweets are flat-out dangerous at a time we need to coalesce support from our allies and moreover, his tweet making a threat not to trade with anybody who engages with north korea of course was a message to china. one of our biggest trading partners in the world. he needs to temper his rhetoric and how he engages with that. china, not a key ally are a trading partner and important as we figure out the calculus moving forward how to react to north korea. >> all right. we'll continue this conversation all of you thank you so much. chris john, tim, dave and alice. appreciate that. all right. plus, it was an accusation that sent shock waves across the world. now the justice department is officially debunking the president's claim, president trump, that is, that his predecessor wiretapped trump tower. details on that, next.
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hi, welcome back. the u.s. justice department found zero evidence that former president obama wire tapped trump tower, despite accusations by president trump. in a filing, the doj writes, quote, fbi and national security division confirm they have no records related to wire taps as described by the march 4, 2017 tweets. earlier this year, trump tweeted out this. terrible. just found out that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just
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before the victory. this is mccarthyism. and how low has president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. that in a tweet from president trump. also tweeting at one point, quote, this is nixon watergate. i want to bring in michael zell done, legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. good to see you. this filing by the department of justice, is this likely to be the last word legally on this matter? >> i hope so. the way this arose was an organization called american oversight, filed a freedom of information request asking for any information related to any wire taps at trump tower. the justice department in its filing in response to that lawsuit said we've searched all of our records, national security division of the justice department doing the searching, and we find nothing and therefore they're asking the lawsuit be dismissed, so in an
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affirmative court filing, the justice department said there's no there there. you can't stop conspiracy theorists from speculating it was the uk, it was not done through proper channels and the like. but for those of us that live in the real world, this should be the end of it. >> couldn't the white house have made this kind of request long ago before it reached this level? >> they could have, sure. and the president could not have tweeted this. there are lots of things that could have happened where legal counsel advising the president how best to act in respect of matters such as this, but they didn't and so we are where we are, and hopefully where we are now is that this thing is put to bed and we can move on to other matters. >> potentially case closed on that. one other matter. "new york times" reporting that robert mueller has obtained a draft of a letter from the white house that apparently president trump actually penned that would
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justify his firing of james comey. so you were robert mueller's special assistant at the department of justice. how might this potentially be instructive to mueller's investigation, having this draft, a copy of it? >> we haven't seen the draft so we don't know what's in it and we can only speculate, but if the speculation that's reasonable to deduce is that the president in this first draft written by steven miller and jared kushner and his daughter, none of them being lawyers, was that the reason he is firing comey is because of russia, then there's a written record of what he said orally in his nbc lester holt interview and in the white house oval office with the russian ambassador and so this would be further evidence that what really was at the heart of the reason for the firing of comey was russia, and that's problematic legally for the president.
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it's confirming what he said orally if that's what the letter says. >> and if it is the case, there were many people collaborated, including potentially president trump, all of them would be involved in any kind of a questioning by mueller or anyone in that office about the intent behind that draft. >> that's correct. when mueller gets to the point he's ready to take testimony under oath, whether in a grand jury or just through depositions, then this question will arise, and then the biggest problem for any of these people on this matter or any other matter is that they be truthful because if they're not truthful, even if there was no underlying collusion, even if there was no underlying obstruction of justice, the lie in and of itself becomes criminal and it is hard to defeat a case where on the record you lied about something that can be proven collaterally by special counsel. >> we'll leave it there. good to see you. thanks so much. still ahead, more on our
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breaking news, the white house issuing a statement on north korea with defense secretary james mattis saying there are many military options if north korea threatens the united states. our breaking news straight ahead in the newsroom.
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in patients with sickle cell disorders, serious, sometimes fatal crises can occur. the most common side effect is bone and muscle ache. so why go back there? if you'd rather be home, ask your doctor about neulasta onpro. hello again, everyone, thanks for joining me this sunday. i am fredricka whitfield. minutes ago, the white house delivered a stern and somber message to north korea, hours after the regime announced they successfully detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb and more ominously that it could be placed on a missile. here is defense secretary james mattis and the entire statement. >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. we had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president

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