tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC May 24, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PDT
good luck to you. >> we got this. thank you much. we are starting with breaking news we were reporting on. this letter from donald trump calling off the singapore summit after days of the president sounding skeptical about whether this thing would happen at all. i just got off the phone with the source at the white house who says the president took into consideration totality of events saying this letter clearly speaks for itself pointing out it is very much in the president's voice. no guidance on when it was drafted. it must have been sometime overnight since kim jong-un came out and made the statements calling vice president mike pence a political dummy for an interview on fox and friends in which pence referenced the libyan model. we have reporters on capitol hill where mike pompeo is testifying in front of the senate foreign relations committee. we have teams staking out bob
corker, the chairman of that as well as teams at the white house digging on more. we are lucky enough to be joined by sue along with shanna and nancy, two white house reporters. you were set to come on and talk about something very different. i need to get your reaction as to whether or not this surprises you and what happens next from here. >> it does surprise me because i thought something would take place. i did think that president trump is leaving a window open for a summit potentially later down the road. i think a lot of miscommunication occurred here. i don't think kim jong-un was trying to scrap the summit. >> really? he called the vice president a dummy. . >> it was a messmessenger. there is a lot of missed messages here and
miscommunication. what kim jong-un was trying to say is we don't like the libyan model and talk of -- they are thinking gadhafi. i thi >> let's go live to beijing. i know you probably don't have reaction from president xi's folks. tell me what your sense is from overseas. >> reporter: the chinese will be disappointed with this development. there had been as part of the -- president trump blaming china for north korea's change in attitude. you remember he said the other day that he thought that maybe there had been a bad attitude or bad blood, bad diplomacy that had developed after that second and surprise meeting that xi had
with kim jong-un last month. president trump seemed to think that perhaps there was some discussion that he shouldn't be comfortable with. there is going to be that reaction of the chinese that will be factored into this latest development. the chinese have always loomed large in this process. president trump himself has said that he would be tying developments with the north korea situation to trade negotiations with china. so chinese officials will have something to say because they had been pushing for this process all along. as we are reading the letter you can tell there are elements of president trump in this talking about how we were informed that the meeting was requested by north korea but that is irel vpt. based on the tremendous anger and open hostility i feel it is
inappropriate to have a long plan meeting. that said, he did still leave the door open to a meeting down the road. >> reporter: i think we may have an answer to a question. i felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between us and it is only that dialogue that matters. how many times have we asked the president have you spoken to kim jong-un? maybe that is the answer. perhaps he reveals it in a letter or a direct signal to kim jong-un referencing their conversations that perhaps there is a message in that to perhaps signal an opportunity to do this at a later time. the president has been foreshadowing this cancellation a number of times in his very tru trumpian way with the we'll see, maybe it will be june 12, maybe it won't.
so we should in some ways not be surprised that this formal letter was offered today even though white house officials had been making the trip to plan it and there were lots of things happening behind the scenes. there appears to be a lot for us to dissect in the president's letter to kim jong-un that may give us a pathway to what comes next. >> your morning got real busy. so did hans nickels. there had been questions about u.s. military drills in the region, part of the negotiation process leading up. where do things stand where you are? >> those military drills are scheduled to continue. all morning we have been focussed on getting official pentagon confirmation or something from the defense agencies that this decommissioning of the nuclear site did happen because that would be seen as a positive step moving towards these talks. politically we are on a different page now. i think we need to look at the assets the u.s. has in the region. there is no change in posture
that we know of yet. you have about 11 destroyers out there. the aircraft carrier uss reagan is in japan. officials have been stressing that they want to preserve -- >> got to interrupt you because secretary of state mike pompeo is on the hill. >> discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties which was scheduled to take place on june 12 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 tremendous anger and open hostility i feel it is appropriate at this time to have this long planned meeting -- 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 will not take place. you talk about our nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray they will never have to be used. i felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me. someday i look forward to meeting you. i want to thank you for the release of the hostages home with their families. that was a beautiful gesture and 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 sad moment in history.
sincerely yours donald j. trump. >> we want to thank you for joining us today. although you're here for a confirmation you were here six weeks ago for your confirmation hearing. in just a month i want to commend you on an energetic and forceful start to your tenure. we hold a budget hearing each year. that is the formal subject of today's meeting. as you and i have talked, budgets coming from the administration these days and many years are not really focussed on that much and there is a process here. since it doesn't have a great effect on the outcomes here it would be my guess that there won't be many questions around the budget. i think you know that even though you will present it fulfilling your responsibilities. while discussing the budget is not a productive use of our time
today in all likelihood i'm hoping your remarks will outline your management plan for the department and steps you have taken on that front. i want to discuss with you our efforts to update authorities we use to fight terror abroad and for members on both sides of the aisle, today we have agreed to two rounds of questions if necessary. i know many questions may focus on what we have been discussing. our bipartisan legislation would replace a 2001 and 2002 with updated against al qaeda, 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. i believe it is the 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 hearings. we have heard testimony from legal scholars, policy experts and secretaries of state and defense twice. >> you have been listening to senate foreign relations chairman senator corker talk with secretary of state mike pompeo after pompeo read the letter that came out from donald trump calling off the talks between kim jong-un and donald trump but leaving the door open. this day isn't happening on june 12. we will be monitoring that pompeo hearing. he will likely get more questions on this. i want to bring in former special assistant to president
obama and msnbc national security analyst. we are getting reaction from folks who say this was 100% the right move in the words of marco rubio. was it? >> i think the letter clearly does not only leave the door open, it leaves the door wide open. i think the north koreans have a way out of this. the most vitriol of statements were coming from his deputies. they can get something back on track pretty quickly. i think this actually has the potential to be a wise move on the part of the administration. donald trump committed a mortal sin in negotiations and handed all leverage over to the north koreans. he wanted the summit more than north koreans did. maybe this is trying to take it back. >> you often talk about wise moves. casie hunt, we are hearing not
just from marco rubio but i think senator cotton. can you give us a sense of what you are hearing? >> the initial reaction is as you characterized it. republicans seem to be embracing this, a brief statement from tom cotton who says north korea has a long history of demanding concessions to negotiate while past administrations of both parties have fallen for this ruse i commend the president for seeing through kim jong-un's fraud. our maximum pressure campaign on north korea must continue. republicans willing to embrace the president here tlmpt have been a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who have been looking alt this potential summit. they have embraced it. they said there seems to be progress here. we'll see hopefully the president is preparing in advance of this meeting. but as you point out there was also the sense that you don't
put the cart before the horse and say i will sit down with you without doing legwork underneath first with lower level people. i think you are seeing the support continue. my question is how this plays out over the course of the long term. one impact that the president's negotiations with north korea have been having at least in the miep minds of some strategists is a lot of tightening strategists were saying what the president is doing here is helping us, helping the republican party, making it look like he is strong on the world stage. we will see how voters react to this in the coming week weeks. >> i have a feeling we will be coming back to you. i want to go to hans. the pentagon was never putting all of izetc. in the singapore basket. >> it has been ag nostic on whether or not the meeting takes place. they want to put diplomats in a
position of strength. it's unlikely there had a big headquarters that manages the defense of north america. he could be back here tomorrow and give more of a readout. we should note that mattis is heading to singapore. there is a big summit there of all defense ministers. he will be there. what also is taking place is military exercises. they have continued to take place really since the march-february timeframe. the pentagon didn't want any media attention. they basically turned off the media switch and said no attention to the drills and will continue to do them because they need to be ready for any evencheve eventuality. >> let's talk about what originated. a lot of this in the first place and what happened overnight
which was north korea saying it had blown up the nuclear test site. v verifiability is in question and the permanence of that. the point is made that you are not blowing up the intelligence of the folks who created the test site in the first place. they are still around. >> it is reversible. i think north korea is stopped testing for a while. i don't think they will get back to testing. i think everybody will wait and see what happens. i don't think they are going to go back with testing. >> the president has had dismantling for now. he has had the hostages, detainees who return home. is it possible that this cancellation of the summit could be perceived poorly as a sign of acting in bad faith on the part of president trump? >> from north korean perspective i don't this can so. they did come out with statements even though they were
made by the deputies. when you look at the letter he did leave that opening. >> i want to get you in here. this all has to do with what north korea said about vice president pence calling him a political dummy for saying this just a few days ago on an interview with fox. >> the president made clear this will only end like the libyan model ended if kim jong-un doesn't make the deal. >> john bolton referenced the libyan model a few weeks ago. it is easy to grasp why united states -- gadhafi might not see it as such a good deal today because he is dead which is why north korea might not find it such an uplifting model either. >> i think the statements, pence
does not speak out of school. he does not miss speak. he prepares for any interviews he does. this was not an off the cuff remarks. these remarks about libya by bolton and pence were conscious decisions to make those. you get to this point it is fair for the north koreans to say that model doesn't work for us so i don't this can we want to engage in this. it was a strategic decision made somehow. >> the administration can't get its talking point right whether talking about libya 2003 or 2011. in 2003 it was a good model. 2011 is not something that kim jong-un wants to see replicated when moammar gadhafi was killed. they have gone back and forth and donald trump even invoked the fate of moammar gadhafi obliquely and saying that is the path we can choose. >> i want to bring in msnbc
diplomacy contributor and former u.s. official chris hill, ambassador hill joining us on the phone, knows the region very well. thank you for scrambling up to get on the phone with us during the middle of this breaking news. when might we see the next move? if the president has left the door open when does kim jong-un walk through that door? >> i would like to know what precisely secretary of state pompeo said to the north koreans and what did they say to him over what i gather is several hours. did they discuss the idea that north korea was prepared to negotiate some de-nuclearization or just talk about the three korean americans who returned from captivity? i think that would inform a question of where we go from here. we have a secretary of state who is willing to go to north korea and sit down and talk to them, why not send our assistant
secretary or special envoy or someone who can say to the north koreans if you are prepared to discuss this is how we see it unfolding. how do you see it unfolding? i don't think this need today be done at the presidential level. if i can say about the libya model which is something i heard a lot about when i was negotiating with the north koreans in 2005 i think it is tone deaf to talk about it in 2018. john bolton is not a stupid man. i think he had a purpose in talking about it. i think the purpose was essentially to threaten the north koreans. although they don't mind issuing threats of their own they don't like to be burdened by others. i think that chain of events including mike pence who we have to recall was in south korea during the olympics and said some blood curdling things which resulted in his own meeting
being cancelled with the north koreans. i think the administration needs to engage in a little more message discipline whether pence was told or not to say this. i think they ought to kind of figure out a diplomatic way forward and should not involve the president or secretary of state. >> to me as we talk about the president's potential involvement maybe you can weigh in is what kelly o'donnell pointed out. i felt a wonderful dialogue was building up. she notes we can ask the president a bunch of times. the president's response has been i'm not going to get into that. do you see this as a signal that there is a dialogue or is he talking about the dialogue generally between administrations? >> we don't know for sure but the letter does seem to hint that he is talking one-on-one to the north.
>> which is hugely significant if that is happening. >> the president really likes to have one-on-one conversations with world leaders even with members of congress. >> a phone call is a lot different. >> he doesn't do that with always people listening. he doesn't want extensive briefings. just following the pattern it wouldn't surprise me. >> another pattern he has is walking away from the negotiating table. >> it's in his book. so maybe this is all falling into that. >> is this the art of the deal vis-a-vis the potential de-nuclearization of north korea? >> i think that is what he is trying to do. ambassador hill was absolutely right. there is a different expectation. i think we need to narrow the gap. i think this is a good thing that the summit is postponed. i'm not buying that it is
completely over. >> at the top of our run down would have been right there prior to the breaking news. i want to play a little bit. this is when he was being vague about whether or not the june 12 summit would happen. we know it is not. given that it looks like there could be a path forward what does de-nuclearization look like? the president talked about that. >> like to have it done immediately. physically a phase in may be a little bit necessary, would have to be rapid phase in. i would like to see it done at one time. >> i want you to weigh in on that. if this thing does get kick started again, if donald trump walks away kim jong-un walks back to the table is that a realistic move? >> it has to be. that is the standard we have heard from mike pompeo, john bolton and donald trump. in other words, getting the nuclear weapons out of north korea. that is the standard they have
set for themselves and the standards we have to hold them to otherwise we are back to status quo. a testing freeze is a testing freeze and is immediately reversible and north korea can cheat as they have done in the past. >> it is going to be difficult. it is reversible. verifiable part the intelligence community doesn't know how many weapons they have, thousands of underground tunnels. it would be a very difficult thing to achieve. >> we want to go back to capitol hill where senator bob menendez is asking mike pompeo about de-nuclearization. >> the capability associated with that and all of the elements of the program that would lead them to have material that could be used at some time to build out a weapons system. >> i think the answer to that is yes. >> i appreciate that. do you believe any deal must
include an agreement that north korea must end production and enrichment for military programs? >> yes. but as we begin to head down this path i have had discussions with chairman kim personally. there had been other discussions. i will reserve some space for us to be able to conduct the discussions outside of the public sphere. i think it is important for our ability to achieve the outcomes that i think everyone in this room hopes we can achieve. >> i want to give you negotiating space but i want to understand as a committee responsible for oversight what is our standards that we are going into. what is the standards? >> i think we made clear what our objectives are. >> let me ask you further. would a deal have to include an agreement that north korea must permanently dismantle nuclear
weapons infrastructure including test sites on nuclear weapons research and development facilities particularly with respect to advanced centrifuges? >> that is our objective. >> would any deal have to include dpreemt that north korea put forward a full, complete and verifiable declaration of all nuclear activities? >> yes. i only wish the iranians had done so. >> would any deal include robust restrictions to ensure that expertise are not exported? >> sir, we have a deep aim. a lot of work underway to ensure proliferation does not occur.
i think i said this in my confirmation hearing. it is the case that it is our objective. i shared this with chairman kim when i met with him that missile program is a central component of their capacity to hold america at risk and 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 i think you speaking to in your question. >> and to be truly completely verifiable in your agreement with north korea should be permanent in nature. >> yes, sir. those are all very helpful to understanding the standards with what we are 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 or are we weakened? >> i don't believe in that sense that we are in a position to believe that there could be a successful outcome. i think that is what the president communicated pretty clearly in his letter. i can add to that over the past many days we have endeavored to do, to put preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit and have received no response. in addition to what the president laid out in his letter it is also the case that the -- i disagree with what you said in the opening statement. i think we are rocking. i think we are ready. i think we are prepared for this
meeting. i think president trump is prepared for this meeting. we were fully engaged over the past weeks to prepare for this meeting. i disagree with your assessment that the americans are not ready. >> i'm talking about we needed to test all of the propositions and layout all of the elements of what was ultimately to be decided in a way to find out whether north koreans were truly true. >> that has been done three times before in american history and kim jong-un today possesses the most robust nuclear program he has ever had. >> as a result of canceling the summit he still possesses them. in your confirmation hearing you noted that russian bad behavior is the driver behind the bilateral relationship and this behavior presents a clear danger to the united states. we have seen a whole host of actions, decisions, undisputed
findings from the intelligence community. we saw chemical weapons attack. we saw a chemical attack that russia supported by assad. can you tell me why it is that the president seems unable to speak of russia in a way that acknowledges that there was an attack against our own country in terms of a cyber attack on our elections and actions that were acted this way and put as a terrorist state and yet we see no -- >> you have been listening to secretary of state mike pompeo who says the united states is rocking and ready. i want to bring in director of asian studies at georgetown university.
victor, you and i 24 hours ago here on this set were talking about the possibility of the summit moving forward. you talked about the unpredictability of north korea. now we see the president walking away from the table. does kim jong-un walk back? >> i think first it is very unfortunate that this has been cancelled. i still think that there appears to be an issue with communication between kim and trump. at lower levels pompeo's team is negotiating what is going on. it shows that trump was not looking for a political show and some sort of demonstration that might win him the nobel peace prize. looks like he was looking for a real deal and because he couldn't get it he says they are not meeting. many thought he was just looking
to have the deal but clearly he isn't. the thing i worry about now is that the north koreans might start doing bad things. testing moratorium was based on the idea that we would stay in dialogue with them. if that breaks down north korea might go back to testing missiles and take us to a very bad place. >> in about one hour from now we expect to see the president for the first time in person today holding a bill signing ceremony at the white house. w we will see him. i imagine he will want to talk about this. what does the president need to say? >> i think he probably needs to say it doesn't mean there is no continued dialogue. it doesn't mean everything is broken down. the summit is just not taking place. other channels will continue to see if they can reach an agreement. you heard in the testimony that one of the reasons was north koreans weren't responding to messages from the u.s. team as
they try to prepare logistics. there are a million things that go into planning a summit like this. if they are not responding there is a logistical reason not to hold those right away. >> we also know that house speaker paul ryan is talking about this. a statement has come in from speaker ryan saying the regime has given ample reason to question the stability. casie hunt now we have breaking news that paul ryan is weighing in on. what else does he have to say? >> the world we live in can get what you thought was an interesting press conference from the speaker of the house and have it all be overtaken by events. this new statement you did read the top of it where they said that the north korean regime has given ample reason to question stability. we must work towards a peaceful
resolution but that would require much greater degree of seriousness from the kim regime at the same time congress provided significant tools and it is important that the united states not relent in this maximum pressure campaign. you will notice that he did not name the president of the united states there. that statement was a little stronger in saying the president handled the situation correctly. the speaker focussing more on north korea broadly. >> thank you. when you look at the response to all of this you got to look at what is happening with our ally sa s in the region. i want to bring in andrea mitchell who is on the phone with us now. thank you very much for calling in as i know you are scrambling and getting ready for your show, as well. what do you see as the reaction from south korea and japan as we understand based on what sarah
huckabee sanders is telling reporters in the last 90 seconds that the president may address this summit cancellation in about 57 minutes from now? >> i think you know better than anyone that that would be very much -- according to secretary pompeo foreign relations addressing it and trying to field questions on what appears and feels like a federal urge term. this is a chance for peace and history. he said [ inaudible ] by toughening stance of kim jong-un. china might have been nervous
about the moves even though it does not want the escalation. i think it will be extraordinary with president moon who very much wanted this and south korea who had been pushing so hard for it. just met with the president at the white house. really been the chief architect of the peace treaty. he accepted the terms without analysis. he accepted it on the spot. the plitization of it with the fact that you were projecting
about peace prize but they were using it as a wedge in the mid term election campaign. there were rallies a week ago with the vice president. that was becoming the big talking point as well as the tax bill. the big foreign policy achievement. i can think that you can have a lot of questions among foreign policy experts. he can say it is the strength of the president in not moving to north korea as previous administrations have. >> we will see you here in about 90 minutes. i'm sure there will be 10,000 developments in that time. kasie hunt is live with a member of the house intelligence committee. >> thanks. we are here with congressman, member of the house intelligence
committee. what is your reaction to the president's decision to call this off? >> it's unfortunate. i think talking is better than walking away. the president was rehearsing his end zone dance and we weren't at the 50 yard line yet on the summit. i think vice president's de-nuke or die comments were probably not helpful. i will give the president praise for getting us this far. i think it was his own impulsive behavior and advisers who have set us back. >> reporter: there has been people including in your own party who have given the president credit for bringing these negotiations farther along than they may have otherwise. do you think standing here today we are in a better place vis-a-vis north korea than with the obama administration? >> not with this president. the pendulum seems to swing from nobel peace prize or our nuclear weapons are stronger than yours.
i do hope that we are trying to find moderation here and not go back to the war talks. we don't want war with north korea. we need cooler heads to prevail and stick to the strategy of amying pressure and getting them to the table sflmpt. >> reporter: some suggested part of the reason why there have been changes in the president's approval ratings has to do with the fact that we were seeing progress here with north korea. do you think this will hurt the president at home in. >> people want peace. it will hurt the president at home if it seems like we are getting back to the posture we were at before where he is insulting kim jong-un and threatening to use our nuclear arsenal. this seems to be a solvable issue. if we can continue to work with the south koreans, japanese and chinese we can solve this crisis. we should seize that opportunity rather than go back to the childish impulsive behavior. >> i know that the congressman can't hear you. is there a question you would like me to ask here?
>> we are talking about north korea. i would love to eric on another big headline happening that we haven't talked about which are the meetings with the doj and maybe at the capitol with devon nunesand trey goudy looking at documents relating to fbi informant talking to trump twaintwai campaign. would he prefer one meeting? i'm wondering what his response is. >> reporter: hallie jackson is asking about the meetings coming up. do you think it is appropriate for republicans to have that first meeting without any democrats there before the gang of eight session? >> there shouldn't be any meetings. we should never have congress reaching into the evidence locker and allowing the president to have an opportunity to see that evidence. if there is going to be a meeting there should just be one bipartisan meeting.
i am disappointed that speaker ryan is leaving town to go to a fundraiser. for him to skip town but only to go to the partisan meeting i think sends the wrong signal. >> reporter: are you confident that they dotted every i-and were ethical and apolitical in this decision to launch a counter intelligence investigation into the trump campaign? >> i reviewed a lot of evidence that started this investigation, overwhelming evidence that alarming contacts and to understand what the russians were trying to do and he was working with them. >> we'll send it back to you. i know you have a lot more breaking news to do on this topic. appreciate that on capitol hill. here is a view from a different perspective.
congressman peter king speaking with us with an alternate view. >> i think it sends a message to china that donald trump, president trump, is not interested in making a deal for the sake of a deal. that puts more pressure on china that china has a lot to say here about north korea's conduct. i think this can put more pressure on china to pressure not north korea to come to the table. china can be the key. it puts pressure back on them and shows them that the president is serious. >> congressman king with fox news. >> peter king may not be wrong that donald trump has frustration with china. he made strange remarks as he sometimes does in the oval office about kim jong-un's second trip to china. >> one that nobody knew about. there was a second one in early may. >> president trump was suggesting that perhaps the united states wasn't aprized of
the meeting before it happened. >> he pretty much said it. >> but through was a hint of frustration in his voice that kim jong-un would go to china and chinese would host him without prenotification. i think this may have been an initial jab signaling you need to coordinate with us. we are your partners just as we are partnering with south korea and we need to be partners with japan on this, too. i think that was a not so veiled threat to beijing. >> there is an exchange between senator johnson and secretary of state mike pompeo. listen in to this. >> i understood him to have understood what it was i was saying and put aside what i said when i heard back from him. when i heard back from him there was little doubt in my mind that he understood the scope of what we were asking for and the nature of what would have to take place, the verification that we would need to undertake in order to be comfortable, that
we could begin to deliver assurances that he in return asked for. so i think we were having a real conversation where there was real understanding between the two of us. it's what caused me to recommend to the president that i thought the time would in fact permit us to have a real opportunity to do something historic. >> sue. >> i think it was all the same and pompeo did meet with kim jong-un twice. again, i think north korea was not intending to scrap this meeting. it will be interesting to see how north korea reacts. i think there was a chance to send a message that the libya model is not acceptable for north korea because he was only thinking about gadhafi. >> is there a lot of face saving by the north koreans here?
>> kim jong-un cares much about what the international community thinks of him. all of these topics coming out but not only then when pompeo said you can become like south korea. all of this talk we are not consistent was sending wrong signal to north korea. >> i want to talk about the idea of foreign journalists who went to the region, were inside the country as north korea was dismantling the nuclear test site. we talked about this on this program yesterday, the long 11 plus hour train ride and long bus ride followed by an hour hike to get to the site. >> reporter: they haven't made it back yet. it was an 11-hour train ride to
get to the nuclear site to see this spectacle. they are getting this news that president trump has cancelled the summit. so this is breaking with 30 foreign journalists being hosted by north korean officials as they followed through on the promise that they were going to dismantle the nuclear site. there is also going back to the role of china in this and what the reaction of china will be. your guest talking about the fact that president trump seemed uncomfortable with the cloak that xi is showing here. kim jong-un meeting with xi twice in five weeks. the second visit a surprise. president trump making comments about how the border is now more porous between china and north korea suggesting that perhaps china has offered sanctions relief. i think what we need to remember, as well, is what has brought north korea to the table
in the first place. they were coming to the table not from a position of weakness at least from their perspective but a position of parody as a nuclear state. they were looking for recognition not so much sanctions relief. so what has happened perhaps over the past week with these twists and turns that have blind sided south korean officials, they are saying now that they really don't know what president trump means by this letter. i think it is obviously a reminder that this was never going to be a straight road between a and b, that it would be a bumpy road and that xi would loom largely over it. >> thank you. i want to go back to kelly o'donnell at the white house. i understand you have new reporting on why the white house says the president sent this letter in the first place. i spoke with one source over there inside the west wing just before we came on the air about 47 minutes ago who said it was
the totality of events that led to this. what are you hearing from your sources? >> if we go back and we look at some of the clues that have been bread crumbs in international diplomacy we saw that the vice president was taking some very strong positions publically. that followed with a statement from the north korean government kweging the tone of the vice president and that was a bridge too far according to sources that in the environment we have seen over weeks, one of the things that has been notable, the president has spoken about it saying he and kim jong-un had dialled down their rhetoric, gone was the little rocketman, the kinds of harsh terms that they had previously been using about each other in the international sphere. any backing away of that was viewed as at least another data point in the reasons assembled here. when we sort of fast forward
sometime into the future and then look at this there may be other things that we are not yet aware of that loom larger. right now we can look at issues like you cannot call out the vice president of the united states within a few weeks of such an international meeting of an unprecedented nature. at the same time the united states has already received back three americans who were improperly detained. there is a gain there. but the president had been so far forward in talking about the impact 06 what this could mean for the world always with cautions. maybe it won't happen. we'll see what could be. i would walk away from the table if necessary. i'm almost most struck by the fact that they didn't wait until perhaps the eve of the summit to make a change if they were unhappy. it almost seems like there was a span of time where they might have been additional behind the scenes work. that raises the question could
there be another pulling back and saying we are back on course because i think there is enough time between today and the planned situation with the intervention of international partners like south korea, japan and host country singapore. there may be another iteration of this. one thing we are hearing today is that north korea just went too far in its hostile tone towards the united states. >> more on the story. pack your suitcase. keep it packed and don't unpack it. i want to ask you about the role of national security adviser john bolton because fair to say he might have threw the match on the flame bringing up the libya model in remarks. the domino effect trickled down. >> he definitely has taken the view that you don't want to be soft on north korea. he has a very hawkish view towards policy and i think was really always advocating behind the scenes that you have to be
tough on north korea on everything from nuclear disremembererment to human rights. i think there have been internal divisions inside the white house. more interested in diplomacy. bolton wants to be tough on north korea. we're seeing the north koreans seized on bolton's comments. first they called out bolton and then pence. >> you have to think about south korea's reaction. south korea actually think it was ambassador bolton trying to undermine. they came out with a statement last week blaming ambassador bolton for trying to undermine the whole thing to begin with. this is also the ally's perspective. >> does that put bolton on thin ice inside the west wing? >> probably not. someone to light a match, a hawk? no. i think that will always be welcome. i think it's interesting to this point about what it does to china, the relations with china. i think north korea is important but china is the big long game. the it disrupts trade talks or other relations with china, that
could have bigger impfully kagss. >> let -- implications. we know about an hour and five minutes ago the president came out with a letter announcing the singapore summit would be cancelled. this june 12th talk is currently off. he left the door open for talks to reopen in the future talking about a wonderful dialogue that he says was building up between himself and kim jong-un. we have also been watching reaction from capitol hill. mike pompeo has been testifying in front of the senate foreign relations committee. how's that for timing? he's been questioned about the cancellation of this summit, and the denuclearization of the peninsula, and we have been hearing now from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. you saw some democrats including live on this program talk about the -- what they believe might have been a lack of preparation, too early of a celebration from donald trump. we've heard some say this was 100% the right move for
president trump. we are continuing to get more reaction from the hill. we'll bring that to you the second we get it. ned price, where does this go from here? >>st it's hard to say. the letter leaves a lot of wiggle room for something to resurface. >> do you think i could be going on june 10th and keeping my plane ticket? >> i think there was a foreshadow when he was about the summit. he said explicitly, there's a substantial chance. he gave the impression in his mind then that the summit would take place but possibly not on june 12th. i think that could be an allusion to today. the fact of the matter is the commemorative coins have the 2018. we have seven more months for this to take place in 2018. >> you're talking about the challenge coins issued for every overseas trip. a couple of reporters got the coin that shows donald trump face to face with kim jong-un. i want to go back to the hill
with kasie hunt. >> i don't have a lawmaker with me but i wanted to bring you up to speed. at a stake out we heard from ben cardin, and i think it's interesting what he had to say, because he in some ways echoed what we heard earlier from eric swalwe swalwell. he said he doesn't think there's any reason by diplomacy isn't the answer. he doesn't understand why we would walk away from these talks. he called it puzzling. and he says i haven't seen anything to date that would change the need for direct discussions. so i think that it's interesting that this is how this is breaking down with republicans immediately rushing to embrace president trump when they had previously said that him going ahead with the meeting was perfectly fine, and well, and democrats saying hey, what does this mean? why are you no longer going through with this? we still need to be focussed on the diplomatic discussions here. i think one concern that
democrats i think are going to start to raise quickly too is whether the statements coming out of north korea, the early indications were they're on the more belligerent side. we could reenter the conversation that you'll remember just a few months ago we were talking about the possibility of a nuclear conflagration, and we had gotten away from that. instead, we were focusing on conversations. that's what you're hearing democrats warn about. >> kasie hunt, thank you. the alluded to that in this letter. he said you talk about your nuclear capabilities, he writes but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god they will never have to be used. this is shades, of what we heard from the president at that united nations speech, for example, when he referred to rudy giulia -- kim jong-un as little rocket man. what's changed is sources we talked to inside the west wing
framing this, the potential for the talks moving forward, as a win politically for president trump. >> absolutely. and to take the 30,000 foot view, this has been what president trump behind the scenes has been obsessed with, this north korea summit. he views it as a chance to not only get the nobel peace prize but do something different that others couldn't do. he views it as an opportunity for him to do something historic. he has a lot invested in this. it also just -- the north korea summit distracts from the other things going on politically for him. it distracts from the ongoing investigations, the mueller probe. and so i feel like the administration is still invested in having this summit go forward in some way just because foreign policy offers a bit of a refuge for him. >> and you mentioned the mueller probe which is what i spend my day thinking about. one of the reasons his lawyers, rudy giuliani, said the president couldn't do an interview is he was so focussed on north korea. they were going to suggest to
mueller do an interview after june 12th when he had gotten north korea off the plate. he was so busy, he didn't have time. well, if there's no summit, he could talk to mueller tomorrow. >> do you think he will? >> i know that is the million dollar question. >> that seems highly unlikely. ned, i want to play something from mike pompeo. >> i think part of the reason we're in the mess is donald trump was leading the nobel chance at his rally. and he gave the impression that this was a done deal. that it was a foregone conclusion that at the least they would meet and indicated we could see verifiable denuclearization. >> he started saying i'm willing to walk away if i have to, even when i'm there. >> he said, and i think this could be his attempt to press the reset button. >> i want to play what mike pompeo said when talking about the summit a couple minutes ago on the hill. listen. >> he has demonstrated an enormous capacity to lead his
country and his team. so i don't think that's it. and i am frankly -- i don't know that i want to speculate as to why it is they took the actions. i don't think we know. what i am hopeful is that we can continue to have conversations and put this back on track so we can get to a place where we can achieve the outcome. >> i want to get your take on that. >> well, you know, what was he just saying? i missed it. >> i was talking about -- >> it seemed like there was a south korea that came out. i see our headlines saying moon called for an urgent meeting with his top aides. >> i would hope he would. >> we were just here, and -- >> he was here on tuesday, may 22nd. >> he announced the meeting. >> i was just talking to south korean officials. they were 100% convinced the
summit was going to happen. moon was here and convinced trump north korea needs a lot of patience. this is the kind of thing that south korea said they got. i'm very -- i'm sure they're surprised and having a frantic moment right now. >> is this going to hurt the relationship between washington and seoul? >> it's not going to be good, but i think south koreans will be hopeful and not give up. i'm sure they're going to try to get it back on track. >> early indications is the south koreans were taken by surprise. they're still trying to figure out what exactly donald trump's letter means, some report. at the least it seems there wasn't the sort of diplomatic coordination with our closest ally in this matter that we would have needed, we would have expected. if this is going to actually end in something that is good for the korean peninsula. >> not to put you on the spot here, but earlier you said it was a wise move for the president to do this. somebody that you know well, ben
rhodes, is tweeting about this with a different perspective. he says president trump has never explained what he's trying to to achieve in north korea and how he's going to achieve. he's only raised expectations on himself which gives research away to everyone else. that's from ben rhodes. >> that's right. and i think the problem is in all of this, that donald trump gave the leverage away at the start. he accepted the south korean invitation on the spot to meet with kim jong-un. didn't even convene his full national security team. they then rushed out with nobel chance, and indicating that donald trump actually wanted this more than kim jong-un. and so, again, i think this is him trying to press reset on this summit. >> quick final thoughts, shannon and nancy. >> i think the reset is right. maybe we can get to the point with the diplomacy behind the scenes and bring in the president at the end. >> this is the mt. that likes to wing it a bit and maybe they'll take more steps to prepare. >> nancy cook, shannon, ned,
this was not the show we expected to have, but it is the show that we had, nonetheless. i'm so glad you were here with us for all this rockin and rolling. i'm running over to the white house, maybe the doj, but for now i'll leave you in the capable hands of stephanie ru e ruhle. all yours. good morning, everyone. ali velshi is off. it's thursday, may 24th. let's try to get a little smarter. we have breaking news right now. president trump just this morning cancelled his historic summit with north korean leader kim jong-un. and this hour we'll be hearing from the president for the first time since calling off the meeting. he'll be speaking in the roosevelt room at 11:30 eastern time. we'll bring it to you live. moments ago secretary of state mike pompeo delivered breaking news at a senate hearing and read the letter president trump sent to kim jong-un. >> dear mr. chairman, we greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect