tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN May 24, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PDT
that were coming from the president. barbara starr joining us at the pentagon. what is your read on how these two leaders, kim jong-un and president trump understand or fundamentally do not understand one another? >> well, you know, a great question, poppy. i think the fundamental question here is what is going on inside kim jong-un's head? what has led him to engage in this new round of rhetoric that then led the president to put the summit off. look, kim jong-un, 100%, at all times, is about his own survival. his own survival and keeping his regime in power. if he feels that is threatened, he will react. that is what the cia has believed, what the pentagon has believed, since he came to power. so is he reacting to the comments about the libya model, give up the nukes and get murdered by rebels like moammar gadhafi did? perhaps. perhaps also something going on inside his regime that we are not aware of.
was he feel eing threatened? was he feeling vulnerable by reaching out to the u.s., by reaching out and trying to have this summit? we don't know that yet. what is so important is he's about his survival. that is what is motivating him. as recently as yesterday, pardon me, analysts in the government were telling me that they think that is really all important to watch. that kim had laid the table for this summit, mr. trump was in the position constantly of reacting and still to this day, the u.s. is reacting to what kim's regime is saying, to what the north koreans were saying. the u.s. never really grabbed control of that agenda. it was in a reactive mode. and kim knows that. so now the question is what is his next move. i can tell you the u.s. military never gave up keeping its satellites, its intelligence assets, its reconnaissance, the spies in the intelligence
community, watching north korea all the time, making calculations about their weapons program, even over the last several months, what they have, what they could do, how quickly they could restart it. all of this intelligence gathering has continued as you would expect to go on for months now. and it is never stopped. so the administration is in a position to be ready if the north koreans take action. but the real question is what is going on in kim's head right now that made them engage in this rhetoric. and lead to the summit being put off. >> just weeks before it was set to happen. barbara starr, thank you. it is the top of the hour, 10:00 a.m. eastern. let us bring you the breaking news. welcome again to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. significant breaking news on this thursday morning. the planned summit, the historic summit in just a few weeks between kim jong-un and president trump is now off. this coming in a letter that president trump has written to kim jong-un.
let me go straight to our global affairs analyst and correspond elise labott. if you could just read us the entirety of this letter. >> the letter is stunning, not just because of the news it contained, but the way it is written to kim jong-un from president trump. it is addressed to his excellency kim jong-un, chairman of the democratic people's republic of north korea. it goes, dear 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 the meeting was requested by north korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. i looked very much forward to being there with you. 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. your talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god that 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. some day 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 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 and we see -- we see secretary of state pompeo walking in -- >> elise, thank you for reading the letter. stay with us, elise.
this is what is a significant hearing, now much more significant. this is secretary of state mike pompeo who met twice with kim jong-un, setting the ground work for this summit that was supposed to happen between the president and kim jong-un. he will testify now in front of the senate foreign relations committee. you will hear from him, his opening remarks in just moments as we wait for that, jim sciutto, let me get to you and the significance of the letter, i'm so glad you pointed out moments ago, this is not a political story this is about global security, national security. what stands out to you, jim? >> what a remarkable letter and so clearly in president trump's voice. this reads like it was dictated from his mouth, you know, beautiful gesture, it sounds very much like donald trump. just a few lines apart, you have the president of the united states in effect threatening or making clear that the u.s. has the ability to wipe out north korea. ours are so massive and powerful, that is nuclear capabilities, that i pray to god they will never have to be used, fire and fury, but by different
rhetoric there. and then a few lines later, as if you're writing an e-mail to a friend, please do not hesitate to call me or write. remarkable -- >> let's listen to the secretary of state. >> the state department recently transmitted to chairman kim and north korea letters to chairman kim jong-un, chairman of the state affairs commission of the democratic people's republic of korea, and it reads as follows, dear 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 appropriate at this time to have this long planned
meeting -- inappropriate, excuse me, 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 your nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god they will never have to be used. i felt that a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me. and ultimately is only that dialogue that matters. some day 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 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.
sincerely yours, donald j. trump, president of the united states of america. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, sir. we want to thank you for joining us today. and although you're here for a confirmation, you're here just six weeks ago for your confirmation hearing, in just a month, again, i want to commend you on an energetic and forceful start to your tenure. we hold a budget hearing each year and that's a formal subject of today's meeting. but as you and i have talked, budgets coming from administration these days and for many years are not really focused on that much as you know and there is a process we go through here to really determine what expenditures are going to be made. so since it really doesn't have a great effect on the outcomes here, it is -- it would be my guess that there really won't be many questions around the budget and i think you know that even though you're going to present it, fulfilling your
responsibilities. while a discussion of the budget is not a productive use of our time today in all likelihood, i'm hopeful your remarks will outline your management plan for the department and steps that you've taken thus far on that front. also i want to discuss with you our efforts to update authorities. we used to fight terror abroad. for members on both sides of the aisle, today we have agreed to two rounds of questions if necessary. and we realize that there have been questions around the aumf. i know many questions may focus on the aumf, we have been discussing in recent times. our bipartisan legislation would replace a 2001 and 2002 aumf with updated aumf against al qaeda, the taliban, and the islamic state and iraq and syria. it provides the administration the flexibility necessary to win this fight while strengthening the rightful and necessary role of congress, and i believe it is
best chance we have to finally address this issue in a constructive way for the first time in almost 17 years. since last june, our committee has held four public hearings, classified briefing and a number of meetings on authorizing the use of military force. we have heard testimony from legal scholars, policy experts, and secretaries of state and defense twice. during your confirmation hearing, you testified that you believe that we should update the aumf and that you would welcome continuing to work with us towards that end. i know you had experience working on this topic when you served in the house and i appreciate your support for congress' appropriate role with respect to this important issue. i also hope while you're here that you can speak to our strategy to get a new and better iran deal. now that we have withdrawn from the joint comprehensive plan of action, as you know, along with a majority of the colleagues on this committee we staunchly
oppose the jcpoa because it allowed iran to maintain an enrichment capacity and the limits on that enrichment capacity expired after only 10 or 15 years. while i'm disappointed, no doubt, that the europeans were unable to reach an arrangement with the administration to address the serious flaws in the jcpoa, i'm hopeful that moving forward a new agreement that addresses iran's nefarious nuclear and nonnuclear activities can be reached. with iran's proxies performing well in recent -- in the recent iraqi and lebanese elections as well as iran's rising threat to our partner israel and syria, transatlantic -- have never been more important. i know you share that belief and have spoken to that recently. >> all right, you just heard the secretary of state mike pompeo read in full the letter, the remarkable letter written by president trump to chairman kim jong-un of north korea. and now this was meant to be a
budget hearing about the budget and so they're going through some of this technical stuff that is required. we're going to keep monitoring this. as soon as they begin speaking about north korea and the fact that president trump has canceled the summit set to take place in singapore if a few week, we'll get back to it so you can hear the secretary of state in full. in the meantime, we have all of our players here, elise labott, kaitlan collins, jim sciutto. if i could go back to you, if you can hear me, jim, i interrupted you in the middle of your important thought here. >> no problem. we want to hear from the secretary of state there. but a remarkable letter here that the president, you know, clearly disappointed about this. but going back to fire and fury rhetoric with different words, threatening nuclear capabilities so massive and so powerful that i pray it god they will never have to be used, saying again mine is bigger than yours in effect here in terms of nuclear capabilities, but then this very conversational tone of please don't hesitate to call me or
write what is significant about that is he says for now the summit is off, perhaps leaving the door open there to if there are better conditions, if north korea's rhetoric tamps down, if they don't make the comments like they made in the last 24 hours he would be open to revisiting this idea. that is key. as i said earlier, poppy, this is no washington story. >> jim, i apologize to interrupt you again. but i do have to go to will ripley, our correspondent inside of north korea to remind our viewers, will ripley hours ago, traveled far into north korea to witness the destruction of one of north korea's nuclear sites, doing this in front of western journalists to try to make a point ahead of this summit. will ripley joins me on the phone now. will, as you learn about this news that president trump has written this letter to kim jong-un, canceling the summit, what is your reaction and what are you hearing from those around you inside of north korea
right now? >> well, poppy, we were just sitting wrapping up the day. it is late in the evening here. we're on the train headed back to wonsan after witnessing the -- what north korea claims is the destruction of a nuclear site. i got the phone call and read out the letter from president trump and i can tell you there was a real sense of shock among the people i was sitting with. they didn't give any official comment, but immediately got up and left, on the phone relaying the news to the top. and imagine how they're feeling at this moment given the fact that they blew up their nuclear site today as a sign, they say, of their willingness to denuclearize, they were doing this to make a point and as you mention ahead of the summit in singapore on june 12th that was schedule scheduled. that said, the north koreans have said they're not going to beg for dialogue and were
infuriated by comments made by the vice president, mike pence, and before that, president trump's national security adviser john roberts talking about north korea, saying that north korea could follow the libya model. gadhafi gave up his weapons and died several years later. they're unwilling to accept that here. >> will, please continue. sorry about that. >> yeah, i was just saying that the north koreans said they're not going to beg for dialogue. they said they would be willing to walk away if they don't like what they're hearing from the united states. the fact they went through with this trip, they invited us in and we were kind of on hold for 24 hours. i was frankly unsure if this was actually going to happen. but the trip did happen. we were taken to the nuclear site, we spent nine hours, we watched them blow up three tunnels in the nuclear site and all the buildings on the nuclear site as well and we don't have experts here to verify with us if this destruction is -- if it
is absolute if it means the site is unusable, but they say -- they told us we're being transparent here, we're showing you our nuclear site for first time, the first time, we're blowing it up, we're willing to denuclearize, willing to talk with the united states, but they don't want to be compared to libya, a country whose government was overthrown after giving up its nuclear weapons and that's why they felt they had to respond with that very strongly worded statement, targeting the vice president mike pence, they also targeted -- they also targeted president trump's national security adviser as well, saying they don't want him in singapore, they don't want to be in singapore. nonethele nonetheless, being inside this country hours after they blow up the nuclear site and learning of this, it was a very awkward and uncomfortable moment and we'll have to see what happens in the coming hours and days on the ground here. >> will, thank you for that remarkable significant reporting inside of north korea, where,
again, will just witnessed the destruction, partial destruction of one of these nuclear sites within north korea as somewhat of a goodwill gesture, the appearance of one from north korea just hours ago ahead of this letter. all our players are back with us. wasn i want to go to you, kaitlan, you have new reporting on what the last straw was for president trump before he wrote this letter. >> we're getting some more insight behind this decision to formally cancel this summit. we have long expected for weeks that the summit would be at least delayed, especially after north korea first thought to pull out of it. white house officials weren't really sure what the north koreans thinking was here. this statement came from the north koreans, where they called vice president mike pence a political dummy, and went on to threaten nuclear war, saying, quote, we can also make the u.s. -- an appalling tragedy, it never experienced nor imagined up until now. i'm told it wasn't so much the insult to pence that drove the
united states to pull out of this summit, but the threat of nuclear war there at the end from the north koreans. a lot of people did not see that as something feasible to go and meet with kim jong-un in a matter of weeks here after they made a threat like that. i'm told it was the final straw and the summit could have never worked under these circumstances from a white house official, poppy. >> staying with you for a moment. you heard will ripley say a lot of the anger within north korea that prompted their remarkable statement overnight came because of what john bolton, the national security adviser said on cnn to jake tapper about look at the libya model for this. look what happened when, you know, we in western forces got libya to get rid of its nuclear weapons and western-backed forces eventually killed moammar gadhafi. that has been attempted to be walked back by some in the white house since then. but clearly it has been a huge issue for the north koreans.
>> it certainly has. it is the center of a lot of debate here. that's what drove the north koreans to issue the first statement, essentially signaling this summit may not happen after all. john bolton was referencing what happened in 2003 when they got libya to give up their nuclear weapons. of course, several years later the libyan leader moammar gadhafi was overthrown and brutally killed what the north koreans took that to be about. we later had it wasn't just john bolton who made a comment like that. we had the president and the vice president mike pence later say that if they don't -- if north korea doesn't try to make a deal with the united states, for denuclearization, they could end up like libya. those were the statements that were coming. so it wasn't just john bolton but after john bolton did make that remark, north korea did put out a statement going after john bolt bolton, but those statements were later reiterated by president trump saying that they didn't make a deal, the same thing could happen to north
korea, that did happen to libya. but that certainly has been the subject of much debate. then it drove the north koreans to issue this statement about the vice president, calling hmm a political dummy. a lot of insults and aggressive language from the north koreans, but i'm told it wasn't just that, it was that last line about nuclear war that really led them to pull out of this. and, poppy, we have to highlight how quickly this has happened. there was certainly some skepticism in the recent days about the potential of this summit actually happening in singapore on june 12th, but just to give you a sense of how much the united states was still moving forward with this, they were preparing to send a coterie of aides to singapore for the logistics and details of that summit on june 12th. they were planning to move forward with this, despite the threats from north korea and so it just gives you a sense of how quickly this decision was made by the white house to withdraw from this summit.
>> until just hours ago. kaitlan, thank you. let me go to the pentagon, barbara starr, made the important point that nothing has changed from the u.s. in terms of an intelligence gathering perspective, in terps ms of military capability that everyone was hoping would happen but still unknown whether it would take place. how does this change any preparations on either side militarily? >> throw all the politics out for the moment. what you are left with is a very practical military matter, really on all sides here. for the north koreans, they had to know raising the prospect of nuclear weapons again would risk the summit. they know that that is a real red button, hot button for president trump. so they're willing to risk not having the summit again because kim jong-un is all about his own survival, his own regime. and there is only so far he's
going to go in acceding to any u.s. wishes on all of this. so that said, for the pentagon, for the intelligence community, for the white house, the practical key question is what now? keeping an eye on north korea to see if they do have any kind of military reaction, if you will, to the summit being put off. what does that mean? it means satellites, surveillance aircraft, radar, listening, working the human sources like spies, getting any intel they can and any imagery, satellite imagery, on movement of north korean forces. that's going to be something that is always important, but really important in this time frame because no one is certain if, how, when the north koreans may shift some forces around, may do something in reaction to all of this. so all of that regular military and intelligence surveillance continues, but it really is going to get a lot of focus in the coming days.
>> let me just -- hold that thought. apologies for interrupting. i want to go back to the testimony of the secretary of state mike pompeo is giving on the hill. >> a sense of yes or no, on some of these questions, do you believe that the current nuclear test suspension must continue and that denuclearization means that the dismantlement and removal of all nuclear weapons facilities, technology, material from north korea? >> there are two questions there. the second one is with respect to dismantlement. i think the answer to that is yes. we are looking for the complete dismantlement of their weapons systems, the delivery capability associated with that, and all of the elements of their program that would lead them to have material, enriched material that could be used at some time to build out a weapons system. i think the answer to that is yes, but i wanted to make sure i clarify. >> i appreciate that.
do you believe that any deal must include an agreement that north korea must end the production and enrichment of uranium and plutonium for military programs? >> yes. but as we begin to head down this path, i have to tell you, i've had discussions with chairman kim personally, there have been other discussions, i am going to reserve some space for us to be able to conduct these discussions outside of the public sphere, i think that's important, i think it is important for our eventualability to achieve the outcomes i think everyone in this room thinks we can achieve. >> i want to give you negotiating space, but i at least want to understand as a committee responsible for oversight, what is our standards that we're going into. that's what i'm trying to determine? what is the standard? >> i think we made very clear what our objectives are. >> let me ask further, would a deal have to include an agreement that north korea must permanently dismantle and
disable its nuclear weapons infrastructure and including test sites, all nuclear weapons research and development facilities, particularly with respect to advanced centrifuges and nuclear weapons enrichment and reprocessing facilitys? >> that is certainly our objective, senator. >> would any deal have to include agreement that north korea put forward a full complete and verifiable declaration of all of the nuclear act divotivitys? >> yes, i only wish the iranians had done so. sir, we have a deep aim, wholly apart from denuclearization of the north korean peninsula and a lot of work under way to ensure the proliferation does not occur. >> does any deal have to include an agreement that north korea continue its current ballistic missile test suspension and any agreement must include the dismantlement of all ballistic missiles in a prohibition on all
ballistic missile development? >> i think i said this at my confirmation hearing, i'm happy to reiterate it. it is the case that it is our objective and i shared this with chairman kim when i met with him as well, that missile program is a central component of their capacity to hold america at risk, and that it is our aim that is part of this agreement that we would reach that they would no longer possess the capacity to achieve those kinds of launches that i think you're speaking to in your question. >> and to be true ly completely verifiable in your agreement with north korea should be permanent in nature with no sunsets on its provisions? >> yes, sir. >> those are all very helpful in understanding the standards of what we're trying to achieve. let me ask you, as we walk away from the summit, where does that
put us with the rest of the world? do you believe that somehow we are strengthened in this regard? are we weakened as a result of walking away ourselves because of some statements? >> senator, i don't believe in that sense that we're in a position to believe that there could be a successful outcome. i think that's what the president communicated pretty clearly in his letter. i can add to that over the past many days, we have endeavored to do what chairman kim and i had agreed was to put teams, preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit. and we had received no response to our inquiries from them. so we, in addition to what the president laid out in his letter, it is also the case that the -- i agree with what you said in your opening statement, i think the america team is fully prepared.
i that i we're rocking. i that i we're ready. i think president trump is prepared for this meeting. we were fully, fully engaged over the past weeks so prepare for this meeting. i disagree with your assessment that the americans are not ready. >> when i said not ready, i'm talking about the -- we needed to test all of the propositions and lay out all of the elements of what was ultimately to be decided in a way to find out whether north koreans were truly true. >> yes, sir, that's been done three times before in american history and kim jong-un today possesses the most robust nuclear program he has ever had. >> and as a result of canceling the summit, he still possesses. let me ask you this, in the confirmation hearing you said russia bad behavior is behind the driver behind the current acrimonious relationship and this presents a clear -- >> you heard a very significant exchange between the secretary of state mike pompeo and the
ranking democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, senator bob menendez. senator menendez as i bring jim sciutto back in, kaitlan collins, senator menendez was ticking through the demands that this administration has, trying to get some clarity on where this administration heads despite the canceled summit to reach any sort of agreement with kim jong-un. what stood out to you most in that? >> menendez asked the key question, he asked secretary pompeo what does a deal look like to you? what does it look like to the president? does denuclearization mean no nukes what so ever or are you willing to negotiate? is there some kind of middle ground there and while secretary pompeo said our position, our public position is very clear, he then said i don't want to in effect prejudice any future negotiations we might have. so he doesn't want to set red lines in effect on that issue.
he did not answer the question clearly to say, listen, there is no deal unless all nukes off the korean peninsula forever, right? he said future negotiations, we have to -- i don't want to prejudice those conversations, et cetera. that was an interesting point there. and key one. i think the key question for many officials but also for many americans following these talks. >> absolutely. when asked if the u.s. would demand permanent denuclearization, the response from the secretary of state that is certainly our objective, but saying he doesn't want to interfere with any potential future negotiations with north korea, leaving the door open, you know, this summit could happen down the road, though not at this point. one other interesting and important fact when senator menendez asked are we safer as a country, are we stronger or weaker after walking away from this summit, pompeo said america was ready, president trump was ready for the summit. much more of our breaking news
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this is cnn breaking news. >> back with our breaking news, president trump has just written a letter to kim jong-un, the leader of north korea, canceling the june 12th expected summit in singapore and warning north korea with very strong language, talking about kneyour nuclear capabili capabilities, but ours are so strong that i pray they never have to be used. this is after north korea issued a statement overnight that infuriated the president calling the vice president a political dummy, and threatening nuclear confrontation with the united states. let's go straight to christiane
amanpour, chief international correspondent. you were listening to the secretary of state mike pompeo testify in front of the senate foreign relations committee, read this letter in full to them, he's the one who has had these two recent meetings with kim jong-un, laying the ground work for what was going to be this historic summit. >> you know, this all started to come unstuck when kim jong-un started to get angry about the joint military exercises that were going on in the korean peninsula, between south korea and the united states. then kept ratcheting it up because you had a national security adviser pompeo and also the vice president talking about libya models and i guess there is nothing that enrachs the north koreans more and they have said it many, many years that we are not libya, not iraq. we don't give up our weapons in order then to be overthrown, killed, decimated, et cetera. that clearly was the sort of heart of what really sort of started to get kim jong-un in a tizzy about this. and i think that's what's
interesting about president trump's letter is that it says what it says as you have read out, but what it does is directly address kim jong-un. it directly potentially puts him in a corner and potentially puts his back against a wall. and it is going to be very, very interesting to see kim jong-un's next moves because he has in fact given the most as the president rightly said, we gave up nothing for this meeting, they have agreed to stop nuclear tests, they agreed to stop nuclear missile tests, they agreed to this, that and the other. you have will ripley saying they witnessed at least some kind of explosions around the entrance of the tunnels, we don't exactly know how far it went or what it was. some buildings on that site also were blown up. they have done it, publicly, only now to have this meeting canceled. we're going to have to watch really careful by what is the next move from the north koreans because in the letter that donald trump sent, in the statements from pyongyang
overnight, it is almost back to that sort of military confrontational attitude. >> right. the fire and fury rhetoric not so long ago from the president. christiane -- yes. >> simply to say, i know from interviews i've done that kim jong-un and the north koreans have been desperate to get to president trump. they want these meetings. they want to have these negotiations. and they concluded that it would never happen if secretary tillerson was still in office because he obviously clearly patently didn't have a meeting of the minds or good relationship with president trump. so they had concluded that there was no option as long as secretary tillerson was there. so they hoped that there would be a better chance for the negotiations with the new secretary of state mike pompeo. he's the only senior u.s. official who has met with kim jong-un. >> indeed, thank you, stay with me. the sequence of this event is important as well. you'll recall it was just, you
know, less than 48 hours ago in this meeting in front of cameras with south korean president moon jae-in that the president guaranteed kim jong-un's safety, his safety leading the regime if indeed a deal were struck. overnight this statement from north korea which reads in part we can also make the u.s. taste an appalling tragedy it has never experienced nor imagined up until now. and kaitlan collins reporting rhetoric like that was the last straw for the white house. the president decided this morning to cancel the summit. let's go to ivan watson live in seoul, south korea. this is less than 48 hours after you had president moon jae-in of south korea at the white house, trying to work with president trump on all of this, making it happen. >> yeah. and we're still trying to get some comment from the south korean government, some reaction to this. i would interpret this as a bit of a devastating blow to the south korean president moon jae-in who had his own summit
with kim jong-un at the end of last month in which he described it as basically a stepping stone to the anticipated, much anticipated and now canceled president trump, kim jong-un summit that was scheduled for singapore on june 12th. one of his top advisers told journalists as president moon was flying to washington, to sit down face to face with president trump in the white house on tuesday, that he was 99% sure that the singapore/u.s./north korea summit would take place. now it has been canceled. so a big blow to the south koreans and just another sign of the incredible roller coaster that the korean peninsula, that this region has been through, in the last six months, where you've gone from north korea firing a missile, what it says was its most powerful ballistic intercontinental ballistic missal as recently as last november, a nuclear test, the most powerful and sixth nuclear
test last september to suddenly olympic diplomacy between north and south korea during the winter olympics here in south korea and this succession of meetings, face to face, between north and south koreans, then bringing the u.s., then think about this, kim jong-un has been in power six years and he has only made two trips out of the country and that was in the last couple of months, to china. he had two visits from mike pompeo as cia director, and then as secretary of state. so the whiplash here of going from missile test and nuclear tests to potentially historic u.s./north korean leader betwme between leaders that has canceled and you had people reportedly buying up land along the demilt rised zone expecting peace to break out.
this is going to be a big blow to hopes here on the korean peninsula that a state of war, that has been in place since 1953, could maybe come to an end and with the u.s. stepping back now, those chances have greatly diminished. >> ivan, the summit is canceled. the door is not closed though given what the president wrote in this letter saying if you change your mind, having to do with this important summit, please do not hesitate to call or write and mike pompeo testifying on capitol hill, i'm still optimistic that we will reach that point. i know the president is too, asked whether this summit may go forward at a later date. much more of this breaking news straight ahead.
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welcome back to our breaking news. i'm poppy harlow in new york. we're following what has been an incredibly significant warning, president trump has withdrawn from the planned summit with north korea's leader kim jong-un. you and i spoke earlier this week about a huge piece you wrote on where the talks stand, the president's mind set, how he's preparing for this summit. as you read this letter from the president, a very polite letter at the open, but then a clear threat and flexing of military might and strength in the middle of this letter to chairman kim. what is your takeaway? >> well, you'll remember, when we talked earlier we learned
over the weekend that the president was growing increasingly nervous about the summit because of what the north koreans said last week. so it showed that as the week went on, he got more and more concerned that it would be politically embarrassing to him. if they went, they had the summit, they didn't come out with very much. secondly, i think it revealed the president wasn't really prepared to go deal with a country that fundamentally wasn't interested in the trade that has always worked for him in the past. real estate, in previous negotiations, which was the offer. he said, just yesterday, the day before, the north koreans would get rich coming out of this. north koreans would like to get rich, but only after they're completely assured of their security. i this think they became convinced if they had to give everything away up front, which is what the president kept saying until two days ago, that
their assurance of security was gone. >> he -- david, just on -- just on that point, you know, the president less than 48 hours ago guaranteed kim's safety. he said he will be safe. if we reach a deal, he will be safe. it was overnight last night that north korea came out with a statement calling the vice president a political dummy, more significantly saying that we can make sure the u.s. tastes an appalling tragedy it never experienced nor imagined up until now. the president was making a lot of guarantees that would ring nicely in kim jong-un's ears. >> he was saying things that sounded good to the north koreans, but the fact of the matter is the north koreans have never trusted the united states. they haven't before, during and after the korean war, and the mere presidential proclamation of security doesn't mean much to them. remember, bill clinton, george bush, and barack obama all said various forms of if we can come to an accord, you have to reason
to worry. >> lieutenant colonel rick francona, your perspective on this. >> this is very interesting. i think there is a lot going on behind the scenes inside north korea that we might not have a good read on. i was struck early on, i think many people were struck with how willing the north koreans appeared to be making concessions early on. as we talked, the north koreans proposed these meetings and offered that the americans continue their exercise, no need to withdraw american forces with -- all things that were preconditions in the past were any kind of an agreement. the north koreans were willing to give that up. i thought that was strange. over the last few weeks, awe got closer to the summit, the north koreans started walking that back. i have to wonder, why did -- what is causing kim jong-un to walk this back? did he go too far? are there other power forces inside north korea? we always regard him as the
dictator, the one guy in charge. but he's got other power constituencies he has to answer to. among those, beating the military. generals being told you're no longer going to have your nuclear arsenal, we're going to take those away to deal with the americans, i don't think that sat well with his army. >> to your point, lieutenant colonel, mike pompeo testifying on the hill right now, secretary of state, just asked according to phil mattingly in the room, just asked if the shift in tone from kim has something to do with internal strife or problems with his leddership? he answered by saying, quote, i don't think he's a weak leader. in fact, he's tell straited dem enormous capacity to lead. >> he's trying to le toing to lr open. it is clear that the north
koreans were nervous about going to do this in singapore, american allied state, a heart of capitalism, number one. number with, i think the north koreans never signed on to the concept that this would not be step for step. you heard from kim jong-un and others consistently that there would not be unilateral disarmament. in other words, the united states was going to have to give something up as well. we don't know anything. we don't know what secretary pompeo said in the privacy of the room with kim jong-un. we have no indication that the united states was willing to do things of a significant nature that would take away our ability to hit north korea with nuclear weapons or other forces in the region. i think in the end, kim just wasn't ready to swallow that. >> david sanger, thank you. lieutenant colonel rick francona, appreciate the analysis. much more on breaking news. the summit canceled by the
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back with our breaking news. president trump has canceled the expected summit with north korean leader kim jong-un. what was expected to be a historic moment for the world, frankly. let's go to jim sciutto, national security correspondent. you've been speaking with your sources in the administration, what are they saying to you about sort of how finite this cancellation is, meaning is the door still open in their view? >> in short, yes. i spoke it a senior administration short time ago who said the door is still open if conditions change. and that's key here. the president had some of that language in his letter uchlt remember the line here, that it is inappropriate at this time to have this long planned meeting, qualified in that way. for that to change, for there to be a summit, really the conditions do have to change including some of the distance they have on the key issues.
>> also, jim, you know, we heard some very significant testimony from secretary of state mike pompeo answering a lot of key questions from the ranking democrat, senator menendez and saying, look, i don't want to interfere too much with these on going negotiations in terms of directly answering all you're asking. but he did indicate that this was not just overnight. they were having some really significant challenges in the last few days. >> that's right. he said they were not getting answers to inquiries over the last several days. here is secretary of state who met twice with the north koreans in the last month or so, came out of the meetings feeling good, the president said so. president said the north korean had been honorable, but apparently secretary of state pompeo saying last few days as they get to the final stages of planning for the summit, they weren't getting answers to the questions, let alone reaching an agreement. that's concerning.
that could, you know, works with what i've been told by a senior administration official that, yes, the approximate cause of this cancellation were those words about mike pence, calling him, you know, speaking about him in terms that made the president angry. but there were other concerns in recent days and weeks not getting answers to those key questions, the distance the two parties have on the key issues that really laid the ground work for this cancellation. >> and jim, just briefly, we'll sees president next hour. you can expect this is something the president may have something to say about. >> that's right. absolutely. will he say, as we were just saying here, will he say, listen, i'm sorry that this is off. but i'm hopeful it can go on again if we get assurances, et cetera. that will be a key moment. remember, without that, we're back in a dangerous place. >> indeed. appreciate all the analysis from you and all of our teams at the white house, the pentagon, elise labott, thank you all very, very
much on the significant breaking news. president trump has written a letter to kim jong-un canceling the june 12th summit planned between the two leaders in seng pour. thank you for being with me tod today. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, i'm kate bolduan. a single page letter with worldwide implications. the meeting is canceled. president trump scuttling his much anticipated summit with north korea's kim jong-un this morning and in just a few minutes we'll hear from the pez live for the first time today. will he address this shocking announcement? we'll find out together. potentially historic moment, though, apparently torpedoed by the regime's own inflammatory rhetoric. the last straw, a north korean official called vice president pence a, quote, political dummy, and threatened a nuclear showdown.