tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC June 11, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
the avoiding talking about ending his nuclear program. sixth, don't try to be friends with kim jong-un. he killed his uncle, his half-brother and hundreds of others. he is a despot. those people up in canada, by the way, are our friends. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. msnbc's special coverage of the summit with brian williams and rachel maddow starts right now. two volatile leaders. they have tested each other. >> rocket man should have been handled a long time ago. >> they've taunted each other. >> kim jong-un issued a direct response. i will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged u.s. dotard with fire. >> now, they're moments away from meeting for the first time face-to-face. >> i hope the upcoming meeting in singapore represents a bright new future to the world. >> with the stability of the region and the world on the line -- >> i don't think i have to prepare very much. >> will their summit bring us closer to peace or peril?
this is an msnbc special report. the united states/north korea nuclear summit. here now areacow and brian wi >> and good evening. we are one hour away from a history-making moment in singapore, the first time a sitting american president has agreed to meet with the head of north korea. by loose definition, we're looking at a millennial and a man in his 70s. both have nuclear weapons, though both are from markedly different places. the president has chosen to take a risk this evening and begin with a session alone with kim jong-un with only interpreters present, not the usual note takers to record what's being said. more on that later as we look at the president's motorcade now en route. for starters, we're also looking at an intelligence gap between the two tonight, and this is what we mean. they know more about our leader than we know about the enigmatic and cloistered north korean dictator. for starter, our president has an unfiltered twitter account.
he was back at it early this morning, setting expectations, we believe. quote, meetings between staff and representatives are going well and quickly, but in the end that doesn't matter. we will all know soon whether or not a real deal unlike those of the past can happen. >> as you see on your screen right now, the president's motorcade is en route to the cappella hotel in singapore where president trump and kim jong-un will meet for the first time. during the transition of power, after hour last presidential election, president obama reportedly warned president-elect trump that north korea would be the most urgent problem of his presidency. president trump has chosen to handle that problem by giving north korea something it has sought for decades, a one-on-one meeting between their dictato and a sitting u.s. president. no other american president has been willing to do that, but this president said yes, instantly, and without consulting his advisers as soon as kim jong-un asked. in early march.
before flying in for tonight's summit, president trump told reporters he will know, quote, within the first minute whether the summit will be a success. asked to explain how he'll know, he told reporters, quote, i just -- my touch, my feel. >> kim jong-un travels so seldom, and the north is so technologically behind, they don't have a jet aircraft that could make the trip to singapore. so he arrived on a chinese airliner for the purposeecause he doesn't get out much, he has seemingly enjoyed the attention and the glare of the lights. rous cer from north korean state-run media are reporting it all to take utmost advantage of it back home. >> the first order of business is we expect to be a 45 minute long bilateral meeting just the president, the dictator and their translators. as brian just mentioned, there will be no note takers, there will be no transcript. that means that if
hypothetically, north korea comes out of that meeting say x happen and the u.s. says oh, no, it didn't, there will be no verifiable way to settle that dispute. so deep breath. here we go. >> here we go is right. joining us tonight for our special coverage of the north korea summit, nicolle wallace, former white house communications director for george w. bush, crucial to what we're going to be talking about tonight. and these days, hochris hayes, host of "all in." sumi, director of the oceanic affairs at the national security council under both presidents george w. bush and barack obama. and a korean analyst for cia. rounding out our team is victor cha, the trump former white house candidate for ambassador to south korea, and importantly these days, an msnbc analyst, we are very lick to have the expertise we have at this table, particularly at the very end of this table here. it's a night when we need to be able to parse nuances and understand the subtleties of
what is going on. well also have to be cognizant of how much we're being stage managed. >> i don't know what you're talk about. >> well, there has been interesting reporting and speculation as toe how much is going to be open for discussion at this event, how much may have been previously decided. the way i'm approaching this, at least the way that i'm trying to think about this today is to sort of not allow the spectacle and just the weirdness and the unusual nature of the meeting overshadow what's happening here. i don't think we should sugarcoat what the president has done here by agreeing to this meeting. this is -- north korea is the most repressive dictatorship on earth, arguably. concentration camps, re-education camps, deliberate starvation of their own people as punishment. last february, it with us only last february that this dictator assassinated his own half-brother with vx nerve agent in a public airport in malaysia. just in the state of the union address this january this year, president trump hosted a north
korean defector, a man who was an amputee, a man who was tortured in prison, whose father was tortured to death, whose grandmother was starved to death. there is a reason why no u.s. president as ever agreed to give the north korean dictatorship what they have wanted for so long. there is also a reason why they want it. they want the international legitimacy, but they also want to be able to demonstrate to their own people that no matter what they do to their own people, and no matter what that they do with nuclear weapons, they have force order manipulated the rest of the world to see this dictatorship as essentially legitimate, and to see kim jong-un as a legitimate head of state. and that is serious as a heart attack. as weird as this is and almost as incredible as it is as a spectacle, this is a very, very serious line that the president has just crossed. >> both men, presumably both motorcades have arrived inside the hotel, but we're waiting for confirmation of that. nicolle wallace is among the better sourced people at this network, especially in this area
we're talking about tonight. and coming out of what rachel just said, let's agree to two things. number one, that this is a regime that craves being relevant, craves being in the conversation. number two, none of us would be here, they wouldn't be here if there iso nuclear weapons in north korea. >> and number three, you talked about not sugarcoating things, let's not sugarcoat the fact that we're all doing this because donald trump wants us to. donald trump is there because he knew we'd be here. thiss it. this is all he's got this. is his midterm strategy. this is his get out of sitting down with bob mueller strategy. two sources texted me. i just looked at my phone on may 25th and may 26th when it was widely reported that talks were off. talks were never off there was a meeting in the dmz with the americans and north koreans on may 26. the whole thing was trumpian head fake. the whole thing that we're being played issing in we have to bake into the cake a little bit tonight. >> both that it's happening now but whatever it's going to be announced tonias if it's just been agreed to in that
room. >> and that it's a foreign policy exercise. it is also in every way imaginable a political exercise for donald trump. >> chris hayes, when you're looking ahead tonight toward what we're going to hear, but also to what nicolle is just saying about what has happened already, whose interests are being served? what are you watching for? >> that's the question. in a strange way, in the short-term a coincidence of interest between donald trump and kim jong-un. one of the things that's so odd about watching donald trump perform the role as president of the united states is that he does perform it in a monarchial fashion. we saw it at g7. he, donald trump, the individual, the king, was angry at justin trudeau. and so he blew up a communique in g7, right? the way we think about the democratic republics undertake foreign policy is that there are interests and institutions represented by the head of state who is democratically elected. it's not the whim of the head of the state, right? the idea is that we have democratic representation, accountability precisely so that you do not have foreign policy
undertaken as a kind of play of a person's ehead of state's personality. there is this bizarre spectacle of watching him come out of the g7 and say i was angry about the way justin talked about me, but i like this kim jong-un. and maybe we can work out a deal. you think to yourself, well, no, the united states, we democratic people, we have a say in this. this is sort of accountable system. >> and to you point, he doesn't run on this. what he said on a cbs morning show he would hope that he would disappear. to your point about democracies, this is not the foreign policy that he ran on, that i was going to singapore and elevate kim jong-un. >> depending on whated, this is what he would like to run on and republicans to run on in november. stand big in november is our chief correspondent andrea mitchell. andrea has reported on relations between the u.s. and north korea for every president since reagan. andrea, what are you looking for tonight? what have we been learning as we head toward the start of this
one-on-one? >> i think your cautions to avoid the circus, the orchestration as much as we can is well taken, because we need to really look at that joint statement. we believe from our sources that they have agreed on a squloynt statement. that's why secretary pompeo came into the briefing room i don't know how many hours ago. i was morning i guess our time here and said they're moving very quickly. and the president is going to leave, we later learned, leave tonight after his news conference following the summit rather than staying until wednesday. so instead ofaving a second day, things were going so well, flayed agreed among the experts on the framework of something. and what that something is, i've been told is some kind of a commitment from kim jong-un to denuclearization. the problem, of course, what does that mean? how do we ever verify what he has, because we don't know what
he has? the estimates vary from 20 to warheads. we're talking about thousands o people in an underground complex. rachel, you've been there. you know how complex this is. and from all of our reporting, i've been there a couple of times, but n at the nuclear weapons sites themselves. this is a very, very mysterious program, and they cheated before kim's father, kim jong il cheated in 1994 and fooled bill clinton. in 2002 his father cheated george w. bush. so all of the experts, all of the cia analysts did not know that he had a second program beyond the plutonium of uranium. that's the kind of thing that we don't know how good he is. is he resting on his laurels? is he agreeing not to test? i don't certainly cite that because he already knows he has the long-range missiles that can reach the american homeland. these are just some of the things that victor cha and also
know very well, better than i. that's what we really have to look at. are they going to agree to a peace agreement between north and south, which would actually get in the way of reunionifying the peninsula, because a peace agreement would mean ratifying the existence of north korea. >> andrea, don't go far from a microphone and a camera, because we'll be coming back to you. while you've been talking, we have preset cameras in singapore that all the television networks are taking advantage of. we have very little control over the picture we're getting, but we have just watched the vast trump motorcade come through this section on their way to the talks. let's go to our experts here with us in new york, sumi terry and victor cha. sumi, what would you like to add to what we've heard already as they set the stakes? >> north korea already has gained. kim jong-un has gained. look at this. he is running around singapore taking selfies, acting a normal
leader of a normal country. he has gained international standing, legitimacy. now he is going to sit down with u.s. president, which his father and grandfather had always wanted? as an analyst,e are looking for substance. so president trump cannot come out of this meeting with some vague statement on kim jong-un agreeing to denuclearization. north korea has agreed to denuclearization many times before. what are we talking when we talk denuclearization? we cannot lose sight of our goal which is complete verifiable dismantlement of north korea's nuclear program. even then, agreement as we know we have agreements. they always fell apart over verification and implementation. so we need to have a timeline. they need have a timeline they agree to, a very robust verification regime allowing international inspectors to go into north korea. >> can i ask you, when you talk about how much kim jong-un has already gained by having the summit set up by being in
singapore, by meeting with the u.s. president, why is that so stark? why is that so unusual? what makes him so different? what makes north korea so different as a cntry, that it is a remarkable thing that he would be treated essentially as a normal head of state? >> because north korea, as you know, the most isolated cultish place. it's not really part of the international norm. it doesn't play by that but it's president trump who has agreed to thi meeting with kim jong-un where previous presidents, this is what kim jong il wanted, kim sun wanted, but now agreeing to sit down we have given him. why do you think he got to meet with president xi jinping twice? china agreed with him after trump decided to meet with kimberly king. now he goes around legitimizing his rule, looking like a normal person, like a normal country. and he has nothing to lose now. regardless of what happens with this summit, he can go back to north korea. he has already weakened the political will in terms of implementing sanctions on the
ground. well already have reports of china loosening implementation of sanctions on the ground level. now he is going t go back. the whole world is now thinking he is a normal person. we talked about human rights violationshe looks like a normal person. it's going to be hard to get back to theaximum pressure policy he had before. >> just to be disappear from our view, an armored mercedes with flags on the front and no license plate on the rear. that's the vehicle carrying kim jong-un into the talks. victor, the imagery, the use of news media is so interesting. there is a chase car behind the motorcycles, but in front of the mercedes with media out the sun roof aiming back at the limousine that would be free media were it our president in this country. it's north korean state-run media because some of these pictures will be turned into postage stamps. some of these pictures will be turned into posters and handouts
and leaflets darn near forever. >> that's right. this is a big meeting for president trump. this is a huge meeting for the north korean leader. they completely control internal commations information. they started putting out information about the united states meeting with pompeo's second trip to north korea, and now they're constructing the narrative. and the narrative is, as rachel said, the world coming to meet the north korean leader because he is now a nuclear weapons state. and that is the domestic narrative. this is a regime. this guy is 34 years old. he took over when was 28, 29 years old. there has been consistent purging within the north korean leadership over these six or seven years. more so than we've seen when the previous leader, his father took power in 1994. so a very high level purging, which suggest there's is internal churns that he has to prove himself to naysayers within his own system. he purged three people just before this meeting, including the defense minister. so they are constructing a
domestic narrative that shows strength, not necessarily compromise and conciliation. to rachel's question why are we all paying attention to this, part of this is because as the international community, we value peace. and they are the threat to peace. and if they want to show -- this f they want to come out a little bit, everybody comes flocking to them. so this isn't the end, right? after this flight will be a putin meeting. i'm sure a putin meeting will drop. xi jinping said he would reciprocate by coming to north korea. he'll probably come to north korea, get a briefing from chairman kim. the prime minister of japan has hinted in his meeting with trump last week that he would like to meet the north korean leader too. so there is a lot more paying homage to this reclusive dictator who is now stepping out. >> am i right that before this year. >> kim jong-un had not met with another head of state, and now in year he has met with the south korea, with china, with sing more, now with the united states. soon to be japan.
this year, the recognition that he has achieved by this overture from president donald trump has already vaulted him into a completely different realm of international recognition and international engagement, even before today. >> yes. prior to april, right, prior to april, this leader, who had been in power six or seven years, as far as we know, had never met another foreign leader. >> that's incredible. >> never stepped outside the country. within this period of basically a little over a month, he is the toast of the town. everybody wants to meet him. >> the only person he has met with was dennis rodman. he was the only person he had met. >> who is not a head of state. >> well, to be fair. let's define state. >> can i ask this question, though. the logic of moon jae-in, because we should talk a bit about the south koreans' role in this. the philosophy of moon jae-in is basically that we should have
diplomatic overtures independent of the nuclear issue, right? essential essentially, to reverse the kind of traditional order which is deal with nuclear issue and then have talks and reconciliation. how much is south korea kind of leading this? and why is it not a good argument, basically, to do that? >> it's a great int. i think th united states and n the past two negotiation, our number one issue has been denuclearization. the key to everything is they're giving up theiring new clear weapons. what moon jae-in and some in the united states have argued, we have to change the environment first. make them feel secure. change the overall relationship between the united states and north korea, and then let's try to go for the nuclear weapons. moon jae-in, as you said, in december 2017, everybody thought we were going to get pulled into a war with north korea. and he had the olympics coming up in february. and so he was worried about trump, and h was also worried that the north koreans might carry terrorist attack during the olympics. he really generated a lot of this diplomacy on his own. he deserves credit for that. but now we're at the point he
cannot script. >> victor cha, thank you very much for that. in terms of what's going to be happening over the course of this next hour, brian, what are we expecting? >> we just wanted to bring -- obviously all of this is fluid. so if we can bring folks what we'reexpecting, president trump has, as we said, arrived at the cappella hotel. that's the backdrop for tonight's meeting. top of the hour, that's 9:00 p.m. eastern time. the photo op that will in and of itself make history. the handshake between these two that so many are looking to see at 9:15 eastern time. they go into their first and perhaps only bilateral meeting. again, notable because it will be intimate. just the two leaders. and their respective translators, not the usual note takers, and sometimes alyst and specialists who sit in on that kind of thing. then at 10:00 p.m. eastern time, their aides will be invited to join them. 11:30 eastern time, the two
leaders will have what's being called a working lunch. remember, it's the absolute opposite clock from eastern. so 12 hours plus and minus. then at 4:00 a.m. eastern time, the president willpeak to the press. kim jong-un will not be present or the that. >> in terms of the way this is going to go for us over the course of the evening, i think that we should caution that we think that's going to be the schedule. >> all of it is we think. >> we think it is. we should note that andrea just reported on our air that e communique, the agreement that is going to be announced as the outcome of this meeting has already been agreed to. at least as far as nbc news g goes. so that would imply whatever is going to be announced is not going to be something that is negotiated in the room between kim jong-un and donald trump. but that also means that we should just i think expect a little wild card in terms of the timing. >> choreography is everything at an event like this. and so when the americans
announced they're leaving 12 hours early, we don't know whether that's just to get that on the record to make the talks seem like they're progressing. if they cancel tha a agree to stay on and so forth. victor cha had to leave us to go do something for the nbc television network. but look who we are now welcoming into our studio, nick kristof, two-time pulitzer prize winner, currently columnist for "the new york times." nick, i've been anxious to traumati to you on this subject, which is so near and dear to you. your writing on this subject has been fascinating over the past few day. >> thank you. >> what's on your mind, as they sit down? >> well, i mean, i think it's pretty clear that there isn't going to be real denuclearization in any sense that we would think of it. and there may be a commitment to it, but after all, there have been commitmentsing back to 1992. there may be talk about a peace treaty. there was talk about a peace treaty in 2005. so i don't think -- and i think the way this has all been
hastened, suggested there really isn't time to work out major details. so i don't think there is going to be any kind of landmark break agreement. but having said that, i do tnk that it's possible that there is a process set in motion that does reduce tensions, that reduces the risk of war. and there may be a freeze on missile tests, or continuing freeze on missile tests, continuing freeze on nuclear tests. there may be destruction of i m icbms. one of the things that disappoints me is that human rights are not going to be raised. i don't think we should condition any deal on human rights. but i sure think dealing with the most totalitarian country in the world that we should raise this and make clear to north korea that modernity is not about getting the mcdonald's franchised or meeting the u.s.
president, but it's about setting in motion a process of becoming a more normal country where you can have radios where you can move the dial and listen to countries, where if somebody is arrested, you don't take three generations of their family and send them off t a labor camp. >> sue mi terry and victor cha were talking about how this summit, the existence of this event that we're watching tonight, but also what's led up to it and the way that this has brought new legitimacy and international engagement for this leader, we're talking about how that affects him in terms o his grip on his country, and how it affects his relationship with his own people. how do you see that? >> i think that -- i think that's exactly right. indeed, my impression is that already kim jong-un has pitched this domestically as look, the u.s. has kind of backed down. we had all these nuclear tests. we had these missile tests. we perfected our arsenal and therefore the u.s. had to back down and the u.s. president had to meet us, something we have been seeking all these years.
we have won. i think that's the way they pitched it and in that sense it is a victory. but i would also make the point that it is an awful lot better that the rhetoric we're hearing today than what we were hearing a few months ago where there really was some prospect of a war that would be devastating. >> there is also to me, there is a broader nonproliferation issue here, right, which is what is the lesson here. i mean, iran before they get a nuclear weapon enters into a verified program with the united states to essentially for the first time since the hostages were taken in the embassy produce some kind of relationship with the u.s., bilateral agreement or multilateral agreement that has verification. north korea gets over the indow. threshold to actually become a nuclear state, and they get the american president with all the pomp and circumstance. the president calling him honorable. >> that's right. the lesson is if you're a sucker and you enter into a nonproliferation agreement, then you're screwed. if you're not a sucker and you
cheat and you manage to get your technology over the threshold, well, then you can kind of call the shots. >> i think you're giving them too much credit for whatrge w. bush would have called stategerie. >> i'm not saying it's intention. >> two very former senior intelligence officials say it doesn't matter what happens next. trump has already legitimized north korea as a coequal to the united states. the minute he sits down. the minute his rear end hits that chair, it's over. the game is changed forever. >> well, what's the practical impact of that? >> well, we'll be in a position to engage in diplomacy with north korea, who could decide on monday to go back to doing what they're doing in april, threatening to launch, testing icbms. there is no check. there is no vehicle, there is no method for changing their behavior. yet they have been legitimized by an american president. and you can't undo that. >> but, you know, i do think that engagement over time has had a much better record than
confrontation. >> sure. >> and it's true that there is this issue, as you point out of legitimizing the regime. we went through that with pakistan and india. this is not a new problem we confront now. i would just remind you again that a few months ago, it really looked as if there was some real possibility that one assessment was that 1.2 million people would be killed on the first day of a nuclear confrontation. most of them south koreans and japanese. >> just artillery range alone. leave the nukes out of the conversation. artillery range. >> people warn that risk we shouldn't delude ourselves in that that risk has evaporated. >> i don't think north korea will go back to provocation in terms of missile and nuclear testing. kim jong-un is very shrewd. he is going in one direction. after he meets with president trump, no matter what happens, i don't think they will return to testing. they're going to hold up because their game is to buy time to wait out this administration.
so i think we should be thinking about that possibility. because it's hard for us to react when north korea acts better. it's easier to act when they do provocations. >> in normal times, how does a president make the human rights argument sitting across from kim jong-un at this meeting? in reading your last column i thought we could relay to the audience how it's done in normal times. >> in 2007, madeleine albright went to pyongyang. he iought the assistant secretary for human rights to the table. as a presence. and i think that it's -- i think it would be dangerous to condition any deal on, okay, you have to open up your labor camps you have to do this, that to the red cross. i don't think that would be useful. i sure think it's worth the u.s. side pointing out, look, if you want to become respected around the world, then you can have 100,000 people in labor camps.
you can't send three generations of people to these camps. you can't ban any kind of outside information. yo can't -- when people are returned from china, you can't immediately send them off to camps, in some cases strung together with wire connected. you to allow some freedom of religion. you have to have some progress. and our japanese allies, they've had so many people kidnapped by the north koreans. they're begging us to raise these issues, and megumi yak cota, 13 years old, kidnapped along the coast as she was walking home from school. how can we not raise that issue and tell north korea, look, if you want to improve relations, if you want to help solve this issue, then let's tell us what happened to megumi. >> in raising the issue of japan and south korea both here, obviously they are close allies
of ours. they're also countries to which we are formally bound in terms of defending them and protecting them, and that's -- that's been a pillar on which not only our relations, but international relations in that part of the world are based. the japanese government wanted to approach this in aoint way with the united states, and the united states appears to have not beennterested in doing that. how much damage has the president done to our relationship with those close allies by pursuing this in this way? >> well, prime minister abe, he invested so much in this relationship with president trump. and then he suddenly realized that it got him nowhere. everything was transactional, and at the moment he doesn't have anything to offer president trump so he is just out in the cold. i think he's -- he's been kind of horrified by that. i think it's a little different with south korea. i do think that there you have a lieder who has really quite
successfully manipulated president trump. oh, president trump, your leadership has made this all happen, and nobel peace prize. i think other people have seen that president moon has been so effective at that, and other leaders try to emulate that model. president moon has done a masterful job in orchestrating this on both sides. >> chris hayes, that assumes our president is manipulatable somehow. >> i sometimes can't tell if his super power is that everyone thinks they're not going to be the mark and he is the mark. he does have a -- what he is able to do is not care enough to get through every successive interaction. and other people are burdened by caring. shinzo abe. other people are burdened by a set of conceptions of their fidelity or duties to the state they represent. he is kind of unburdened by
that. i don't think anyone thinks donald trump cares in in some deep way as a person like the substance of the matter. is there verified denuclearization. is there a move towards -- >> when in the state of the union address, there is this ode to human rights in north korea. and then all of the sudden then they disappear, or we care about human rights in iran, but all of the sudden we're willing to meet with a country. i've been in iran. i've been arrested in iran. north korea just a different order of magnitude. >> we're talking things that weren't put on the table. just look at what's on the table. they're not even set up for success for what they as an administration put on the table. pompeo did a press conference where what he put on the table as a definition of success is
the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the korean peninsula. donald trump went up 15 minutes later, i just want to have a good hang. >> right. >> my touch, my feel. >> within hours that. >> had different expectations set for the meeting. so you're talking about something that was never put on the table by the trump administration. but donald trump is also unburdened by the things that the men and women around him have promised publicly, the things they testified to in front of congress, whether it's about russia or north korea. he is not only unburdened by an outcome because he doesn't understand any of them or understand any other issues that should be on the table, he is unburdened by his own appointees have promised on tv three hours earlier. >> but i would make the point that okay, we're not going to get real denuclearization any time soon. we're not going to get a deal that is halfway as good as the iran deal. by those standards, this is going to fa. but those aren't the only standards to judge what comes out. >> i'm just saying as an administration, they have today
put out two very different benchmarks for success. >> yeah. i guess i'm just apprehensive that progressives are having seen the way conservatives and republicans responded to the iran deal are going to respond in kind to an incomplete, imperfect -- >> although i think progressives are hardwired to think talking is better. >> to me, it's this really deeper question about can you take -- if the president of the united states donald trump today said he wanted -- he was going to get behind single payer, you would say this is going to end in tears. yes, in the abstract, sure. in abstract. but do i want this individual to carry out this thing? the answer would be you would be totally rational to be skeptical about that. >> absolutely. >> i think that's more the situation people find themes. >> sue mi terry, nick chris of
the kristof, we're going to fit in our first eak. we saw some rental car looking vance come in. that was the very e of the motorcade. we have every reason to believe that all the vehicles are where they're supposed to be. there i a carport. there is a portico with a fan and a red carpet. so we'll watch. this you watch what we put out there. is two gentlemen near the carport. >> who are not famous people. >> and we'll come blaze out of this commercial break should anything happen otherwise. our live continues on the other side. does this map show the
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i have to tell you, this is ordinarily something we would look for a second source, but in this case, the one source that we have is the twitter feed of the president of the united states. moments ago, the president tweeting this, our great larry kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy has just suffered a heart attack. he is now in walter reed medical
center. again, this is the only news we have on this subject. it is from the president's twitter feed. joining us now from singapore is nbc news white house correspondent peter alexander, who is looking into what we know here. peter, what can you tell us? >> well, rachel, obviously the president just breaking this news on his twitter as he awaits this one-on-one with kim jong-un. we last saw larry kudlow back in washington as he was doing interviews following the g7. kudlow, among others was defending the president in this latest feud with america's ally, particularly its neighbor to the north, canada, saying the president had to lash out at justin trudeau because he couldn't appear weak in advance of his meeting here with kim jong-un. he was there by the president's side, now in an iconic photo of this division that exists between the u.s. and its allies. standing alongside angela merkel and others as the pattasat
stone-faced a as they pssed him in what was a contentious visit. larry kudlow joined the president's team only a matter of months ago. he was one person, like many of the others the president has invited in who the president liked. he viewed him as someone who spoke his language. he was a contemporary, roughly the same age, a friend dating back to kudlow's days on cnbc. he of course is a friend of this network, having served for cnbc as a commentator and an analyst for many years. again, the president breaking this news that larry kudlow had a heart attack, that he is being treated at walter reed right w. he was never scheduled to be a part of the delegation here. so the last time we saw him publicly was after he wrapped up that conversation between the president and his allies at the g7. back to you, rachel. >> thank you. peter alexander, correspondent for nbc news. the president is breaking this news. we do not have an additional source on this. but the president saying that larry kudlow who is white house chief economic adviser has suffered a heart attack and is now at walter reed medical
center. well don't have any additional information about the seriousness of this incident or mr. kudlow's condition. but obviously a lot of concern for both of us in the news biz who know him from this world, but also for everybodyeceiving this news tonight. >> this also means, no to put too fine a point on it, that in the moments prior to shaking the hand of kim jong-un, the president tweeted out this news about his long-time friend and now aide larry kudlow. this also means that there are perhaps, god forbid, kudlow family members who did not know this news until it showed up on the twitter feed of donald trump. peter is right. larry kudlow has been known to a lot of us for a lot of years. he is a man who dealt with addiction very publicly, very forthrightly, rebuilt his life. he was an economic official going back to the reagan years. so obviously thoughts are with
larry kudlow tonight. we've been joined by two gentlemen here in new york, chris matthews is with us having just gotten off the air with tonight's edition of "hardball," and ben rhodes is with us. ben joins us, as they say, from the obama administration. former deputy national security adviser to president barack obama. if you've been on an amazon or a bricks and mortar bookstore the last couple days you saw his new book that just came on to the market. both of them always have books. >> a lot of administrations represented here have. you noticed? >> yeah, that'strue. >> let me ask you. we've been talking a lot thus far this hour about the decision to hold this summit. not necessarily what we're going to learn as the outcome of the summit. we'll find out over the course of the evening. how did that -- what was the process around deciding things like this? the obama administration? who do you decide to say yes to when they ask for a meeting with the president of the united states, and how do you decide?
>> you look from opening, rachel. with cuba we saw an opening and reached out to the cubans to see if they wanted to establish an open channel. but i met with raul castro ayson 20 times before we put obama in the room with raul castro. it took a lot of prep work, well over a year or two. what iouthis, what i feel happened here is that they were on a road to conflict. president moon in south korea was very uneasy with that. he took the initiative. he brought that back to the white house. but then trump kind of took this out of the hands of the south koreans and accelerated this process to get to this summit. normally you would have much longer lead time to develop the agenda, to figure out, as nicolle was saying, what are we trying to achthe meeting before we put the president in the room, how are we going to be positioned coming out of this. the south koreans took the initiative. trump wanted the show and here we all are. >> it wasn't just the south koreans. he literally took the south koreans out of chairman
mcmaster's office. if you go back to how it actually happen it was a meeting that trump wasn't even supposed to participate it in. it have been someone with your job doing the groundwork. >> it's still not clear what the south koreans were proposing, they were probably coming to say kim is open to talking which is north koreans have always been open to doing. trump short circuits that thing, has it announced that night. >> opens the door to the lower press offi >> i believe there was a mueller story in the news that day. >> it doesn't feel like -- >> foreign po >> puthe way. that is not how you or we would have done this, right? you would have taken a lot of time just to announce this summit. i just want to set back here for a second. everybody is going to be focused on the show tonight. the rest of the world is going to be rearranging itself to this event. and they're looking at a couple of things. they're lookingthe fact that we're coming into this event, having just had a fight with all of our closest allies in the world, unprecedented rupture in
the atlantic alliance. >> a big performative fight. >> substantive and performative. there is substantive and vitriol from president trump. if i'm sitting there in south korea and thinking this is the ally, the united states that i rely on for my survival, are you really going to trust that donald trump is a reliable partner, that he is going to follow through not onlyn whatever he says to kim jong-un, but on the surt assurances we give to them? frankly, i see it as reordering in the world over the next couple years rooted in some of the things see we saw this week, not just this summit, but what we saw at the g7. >> can we talk about how this is different than a normal process. what is the risk of not having a note taker in the room? what's the risk of the president bragging that he hasn't prepared and we have no reason to disbelieve himn that. it seems like he hasn't prepared. obviously, it's strange. it's a departure. but is it dangerous, or is it
just odd? >> well, there are a few places i could go here. one, you always have a note taker for a simple reason. even when obama was alone in the room whether with whoever it might have been, putin, anybody else. reason y a note taker is there is clarity on what was agreed to and what wasn't. there is a huge risk that donald trump and kim jong-un could walk out of that discussion with very different ideas of what they lad just talked about or what they just agreed to. the note taker is the that can read out the rest of the u.s. government on what happened. right now the only person who will know what was discussed in that room was donald trump. will he tell his own government about what was discussed? will his representation of what was discussed accurate or will he try to make himself look better in his read-out to his own team. >>en, do interpreters ever play a dual role. >> in terms of -- >> direct recall of the subject matter when think they get out of the room? no. you would not want to put an interpreter in that position. their position is to be thinking
only about one thing, how am i translating these words are that are spoken. they're not trained. it's not their position, their job to thinking howm i going to read out the national security adviser and the secretary of state over what was discussed. so the concern here is that donald trump and kim jong-un probably not the two most trustworthy people in the world are the only people who are going to know what is discussed in this, besides the interpreters. and that is -- that's a t whole reason why you always have somebody. >> i have been assuming that the interpreters had a dual role. i had been assuming that the interpreter is some master spy. >> let's talk about definitions. i've been studying on this there is a problem of specificity here. which we say denuclearization of the peninsula. and what kim means by that is we get rid of our troops. we've got to get rid of the nuclear umbrella, the trip wire at the 38th parallel. we take out the works, leaving south korea exposed to their artillery, to their firepower. and who won that one? we just lost.
now does trump know, do you think, ben, when they say denuclearization, they mean we get out, we remove the umbrella from japan, we remove the umlarom south korea, we get our troops out? that's what i'm worried about. i'm talking about ending the state of war between the two countries. the minute you start talking like that tonight in the first magic minute, i'm thinking wait a minute, they're talking about us leaving. no matter what else they're talking about, they're not talking about nuclear. they're saying we're going to have a peace treaty between north and south. and then you're going to leave and we're going to denuclearization the peninsula. in other words, you're taking everything you've got out. and at some point down the road we may stop developing our nuclear program which we're going to keep ready to do, and they're going to win. >> the two things, as has been said, they've committed to denuclear rise time and again in the past. if they commit to denuclear rise which trump will lift up, it doesn't mean anything until we can get on the ground and see that they're following a road map to denuclearize. >> will they give us a list of their weapons tonight? >> not just a list. well need a list and
international inspections. well need to have people to verify this. the other thing is, chris, trump has been saying for years why do we have troops in south korea? why do we have troops in japan. there is a track record of him saying we shouldn't provide the security guarantee here. one of the winners out this could be china. they're sitting there thinking i would like nothing more than to have the united states pull back from northeast asia. we want to fill that void. they're already filling it. >> they're making their own islands. >> yes. people feel like we are backing out now, and the chinese are moving in. the one exception to that has generally been our treaty allies in south korea and japan. if there is any kind of i think that we're putting troops in that region, that's going to be game changer in how people look at geopolitics in asia. >> the president might not even see it as a concession. he is too willing to give away the troop card. this is what i'm definitely afraid of, this is going to put
that on the table not even as a concession because he actually doesn't think we need the troops there. >> he has done it before. we had a meeting with vladimir putin and a russian translator. and we were left with a he said-he put the russian translator in the position of going out and telling the press -- i mean, trump has done this before. >> in terms of what else the president might see as a not too valuable thing that would be okay to give away, what about this issue of a peace treaty? the north korea and south korea split in 1948. there's cessation of hostiliti in 1953 but we don't have a peace treaty. technically hostiliti a still ongoing, which seems insane and is like a weird way to think about it. what would it be substantively to move toward a peace treaty, to move toward that sort of an agreement? >> well, for north korea what it would mean is a diminution of our presence in the korean peninsula. that would start with us ceasing
certain military exercises in the region. it would then move to us moving certain military hardware out of the region. sxumtly it would get at this question of whether there should be u.s. troops in south korea. because technically they're there as part of the arrangement where we're providing to it their security given that there is no peace agreement. so for the north koreans, look, be very clear as you're talking about, it i'm a progressive, i like like talking better than fighting. but my worry here is he's going to put stuff on the table you that shouldn't put at the beginning of the process. the north koreans want a nuclear deterrent. they want international legitimacy. they want sanctions relief. and they want less u.s. military presence in asia. >> and donald trump's already talked about wanting to give all four of those things. >> north koreans don't need to ask for reduction of troops. all they have to ask for is a peace treaty because it sounds good. it sounds historic. who'd argue against ending the war? except the problem is it removes the legal justification -- >> that's right. >> -- and other kinds of political rationale for us having our troops in south korea. so it will come up. south koreans will later ask, we
don't have war anymore. even americans might say why do we have our troops in south korea, didn't we end the war, let's bring the boys home. that really just undercuts the rationale for our troop presence. >> that's the giveaway, isn't it? if they push in that direction in the first couple hours that's what he's pushing for. >> that's what he's saying by saying we need regime security. >> and the japanese are very scared of that. >> another one of our veteran analysts has joined us, that's jeremy bash, former chief of staff at cia, former chief of staff at pentagon. so his bona fides are clear and on point for this conversation. jeremy, if you've been listening to the conversation, then you know several people have made the point that this is before the first hand shaikh, before the first photograph of the two together victory north korea. >> a summit is not an accomplishment for the american president, brian. it is a major accomplishment for kim jong un. in fact, the spectacle of seeing the american flags along with the dprk flags as the backdrop for that handshake is really jarring actually to see, to
witness. in fact, i would say it's somewhat disgusting. it is actually a debasement of the american flag. this is a despotic regime that murders its own citizens. and we're putting him on the same stage as the american president. now, hopefu it will serve a larger purpose. which is to ensure security for american interests and our allies on the peninsula. and obviously you see there the arrival. >> carrying his briefing book. kim jong un getting out of his armored mercedes. and going into the older portion of this building. and we'll see if we have other cameras to switch to after his vehicle clears. jeremy, go ahead. >> he's arrived on sentosa island at the hotel resort where the meeting it will take place. and as i was saying, the mere fact that he'll be standing at that shot that you see on your screen there alongside the american president is a major accomplishment for the north korean dictator. we should not lose sight of the fact. the second thing is this has been alluded to on the panel before, is north korea has according to published reports 60 nuclear weapons.
they have a plutonium processing facility at yongbyon. they have probably a very sophisticated uranium enrichment program in which they are spinning cascades, centrifuges in which they are building additional capability to develop nuclear weapons through that path. they have long-range intercontinental ballistic muscles which can hit chicago and denver. the only yard chic, brian, which which we can measure success of this entire process is not whatever statement comes out tonight. it's whether those missiles, those weapons, those nuclear faciti are removed and the danger is removed -- the threat to the united states and our allies. that's the only metric upon which we can measure whether this is at all successful. >> jeremy, let me ask you another math question, and that is this. take nukes out of the conversation. seoul is a metropolitan area give or take 35 miles from the border. how many artillery tubes are embedded in those mountains
aimed at seoul and its surrounding suburban area? >> probably 50,000 to 100,000. there's no anti-rocket artillery mortar system in the wor t could defend the population of seoul from an onslaught from north korea. one of the concerns we've had is when the trump administration was talking publicly about a potential first strike, a first strike against north korea, the concern of course was that north korea would retaliate not necessarily against the united states but against seoul. and now you see the additional -- >> this is tape playback. >> the playback of the arrival of kim jong un at the hotel there as he enters the building and gets ready for his historic meeting with president trump. >> as someone recently said, that the mercedes limousine has been the favorite of dictators and spots going back decades around the world. >> you just see the no license plate thing and it just puts a little shiver down your spine. you know what i'm saying? >> that'll get you pulled over in new york. >> jeremy, i had one question for you about previous
experience with the north koreans and talks. obviously, no u.s. president has ever talked to a north korean dictator before. madeleinelbright was there i 20 and we've had former president jimmy carter there. we've had former president bill clinton there. there's been different talks around hostage releases and other sorts of things. when north koreans in the past have cheated on disarmament deals, when they cheated in 1994, when they cheated in 2002, when they reneged on deals, did we learn anything from that? is there anything that's more sophisticated about our interactions and negotiations with them now because of that previous experience of them playing previous u.s. administrations? >> yes, we've learned many things, rachel. there was a very significant incident in the early 2000s in which during one the engagements with the north koreans they acknowledged the fact that they had a uranium enrichment path to a bomb in additiono the plutonium path and of course once the six-party talks broke down of course in 2006 north korea detonated its first nuclear test and since then
we've seen six nuclear tests. last summer we were probably at the height of provocation with those two overflights of japan, bm he is tests and other nuclear tests. they have made great progress. and i think it's fair to say one of the reasons why kim jong un believes he has the standing, the ability to stand next to the american president at this hour is because he has achieved a level of nuclear deterrent, that he's effectively achieved his aims in the region and now he's able to trade away a little of that deterrent for a security guarantee. and i agree with the earlier panelist who noted that if we come outonight with a statement about a peace treaty that is precisely what kim jong un wants. and president trump wants it because there's no such thing as nobel denuclearization prize. there's only a nobel peace prize. >> i just spotted the still photographer william mcnamee. that would indicate that the white house still press pool is there. so we have journalists from the united states and state-run
media from north korea. >> we are expecting -- it's interesting, politics editor here at nbc news was noting earlier this hour that at the g7, which president trump has just come from in canada, he was late to everything at the g7, all the different meetings. this seems to be rolling out quite punctually this evening. which is why we're watching the clock along with the live feeds. we've seen kim jong un arrive to emerge unsmiling from that big black mercedes limousine. holding a briefing book and walking straight into the venue. we are expecting president trump momentarily and we are expecting a handshake, and that moment will be the culmination of decades of effort by the north korean regime, by kim jong un, by his father and by his father before him, in terms of trying to achieve this as the ultimate imprimatur of international legitimacy. president trump has bestowed that already. and now we're about to see it
made manifest as the president arrives. >> here is the president's limousine now coming up to that same entrance where we saw kim jong un dropped off by comparison this is the brand new cadillac limousine that has been airlifted halfway around the world. let's see if we have any audio from this, and otherwise we'll just take in the pictures of the president's arrival.
so ben rhodes, the president goes in there. we will see presumably when they first come together. though they mayee a then only emerge for the photo after knowing each other a short time. the president rather famously already said this weekend he needed just about a minute to size up his equivalent. ben, how much of the infrastructure of diplomacy and foreign affairs that would have traveled on a trip like this during your years is missing, are vacant positions? is not perhaps venerated enough to be on a trip like th >> well, basically, the infrastructure that you would use to prepare for a successful summit has not been in place. i mean, victor chao is here. a very good ambassador in seoul. we've had many