Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: June 11, 2018
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: News we`re covering tonight. Two volatile leaders, one handshake that has changed the course of history. The unprecedented summit between the American President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. A special edition of "The 11th Hour" as our live coverage continues on a Monday night.
And good evening, once again, from our NBC News Headquarters here in New York. We`ve been at it all evening. This was Day 508 of the Trump Administration, and these are the images, the historic photo opp being broadcast around the world tonight. We just don`t know yet what this all means.
It`s currently just after 11:00 a.m. in Singapore where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are still meeting. This marks the first ever meeting between a sitting President of the U.S. and a North Korean leader. Immediately after their initial handshake, President Trump, Kim Jong-un spoke with reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel really great. We`ll have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success. It will be tremendously successful. And it`s my honor. And we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.
KIM JONG-UN, SUPREME LEADER OF NORTH KOREA (through translator): Well, it was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s a remarkable event in many ways. Take two from that photo opp right there, how remarkable it is for him to leave his country and how remarkable it is for us to hear his voice.
The President and Kim Jong-un spent their one-on-one time along with only translators. Notably no note-takers in the room. Then they took the conversation down a long hallway. Another meeting with the rest of their staff. That`s still going on.
In about a half hour, we are expecting the President and Kim Jong-un to take part in a working lunch.
We want to bring in our lead-off panel on a Monday night. Nicolle Wallace, Veteran of the Bush White House, Host of "Deadline White House" 4:00 p.m. Easter Time right here on this network. Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon. Gordon Chang, Columnist for "The Daily Beast," Author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes on the World" if we think that`s germane. Just kidding.
And we begin with NBC News Correspondent Kelly O`Donnell.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, "DEANDLINE WHITE HOUSE": It`s taking the night, though.
WILLIAMS: Yes, exactly. Kelly is where it`s all happening in Singapore.
Kelly, do we have it about right that we believe this kind of bilateral conversation with staff is still going on?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That`s our understanding now, and this is a multi-event day, in part, Brian, because both of these leaders are very aware of branding, of spectacle. To some extent, you could argue for North Korea propaganda. And so there was a need here to not simply meet behind closed doors and emerge at the end of a day, but to have intervals where we are seeing the leaders.
The public can judge how they are interacting. You`ve talked about the body languages and the words that have been said. But also to give sort of data points through the day visually, which are important for both countries and really for the record of history, and for President Trump.
He has said plainly a number of times that although there are working groups that have met and have really gone into the nitty-gritty of what could be on the table between these two countries, he has said again and again it is not about staff. It`s not about experts. It`s about relationship. And so we saw at the beginning of this from handshake to time alone, as you`ve been describing tonight how it`s the interpreters, but just these leaders getting a sense of each other.
The President has leaned heavily when he`s talked to reporter about the fact that he felt he could have a gut check moment with Kim Jong-un. He would be able to tell, and that relationship would be the thing he would leverage for any outcome for the United States.
Now, there are certainly diplomatic histories here that have shown deception on the part of North Korea. A lot of that is a turn of the page for this President, who likes to believe through the force of his own personality and in many ways both men are cults of personality in their own right that that is the tool he brings to this.
The President would also say there is almost a brinkmanship of potentially hot war only months ago and now they`re at a point where there aren`t rockets and missiles being tested. The rhetoric between the two men that was "Deranged Maniac" and "Little Rocket Man," that has all melted away. And today it`s the superlatives we`ve come to know from President Trump about an excellent relationship and optimism.
Certainly, Secretary of State Pompeo, who has been in the nitty-gritty of this as well and has met Kim Jong-un before, says the President is trying to project this confidence, but he is often the one who repeatedly says complete irreversible, verifiable nuclear disarmament on the part of North Korea. President Trump doesn`t use that phrase that much. He`s much more focused on what the relationship can mean and how he will project this as a demonstration of what he could do that past presidents have not.
For better or worst, history will decided, but this is a memorable moment that will be in the biographies of both of these men for a long time to come. Brian.
WILLIAMS: With midday approaching in Singapore and midnight approaching here on the east coast of the U.S., our thanks to Kelly O`Donnell for getting our broadcast situated with a situation report from there.
OK, Nicolle Wallace. So Kelly appropriately kind of paraphrased the President. The staff meetings are over. This is down to me and him. This is where I excel. And the problem is there are going to be deliverables that are expected out of this thing.
WALLACE: Right. So the two things I`ve heard all night from former national security officials from past Democratic and Republic administrations are around two central concerns. One, that that first meeting took place without anyone in the room. So whatever kicked off this first ever interaction between the two leaders, America and North Korea, has no witnesses. And Keir Simmons of NBC News reported today at 4:00 that both men are known liars. So it`s not a good starting point for a meeting with so many potential consequences.
The second was at the end of Kelly`s report there where the stated goal -- U.S. policy is what was articulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Kelly mentioned it. Certifiable, verifiable denuclearization. Donald Trump didn`t match that goal. His goal was, "Eh, I`ll decide in the first minute if I like him or not." So we now have U.S. policy that it`s something highly unlikely to be achieved today if ever, and a President who made this all about himself. Go figure.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, our friend Steve Schmidt talks about the absence of rigor. It`s a word he loves, and so do I. Was it an absence of rigor that led our President, our side to say "Sure, just you and me and the translators in the room. Nobody needs to know for posterity`s sake."
JEREMY BASH, FMR. CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, it was certainly a mistake to wing it. It was a mistake not to prepare. I think there could be room for two leaders to get together to have some private conversations. But I think that conversation was really kind of basically bromance and sort of niceties. You know, "You and I are going to work together."
I think we`re now down to brass tacks on the U.S. side, the Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff, and the National Security Adviser. But let`s not forget, Brian, the big picture here, which is the United States is the most important bastion of freedom in the world. North Korea is the most important bastion of repression. It is a prison state. It is a police state.
And we have elevated that police state. We have elevated that dictator by putting him on the same stage as the American President. Now, it may be worth it if we can help guarantee the security of our allies and our own country. But I think that`s not clear. I think tonight was a lot about symbolism, whether it`s actually significant remains to be seen.
WILLIAMS: Gordon, what makes you think that Kim Jong-un is going to say, "OK, we`ll denuclearize?"
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": We can get to that point, Brian, if the United States is willing to apply real maximum pressure.
WILLIAMS: It`s a long ball game.
CHANG: It`s a long ball game. The administration believes that U.S. and U.N. sanctions have reduced the flow of the international payments to North Korea by about 50%. "Wall Street Journal" reported that. But we have a long way to go.
We need to get that down to about 10%, and we can do that by a number of stricter sanctions on North Korea. But more important, going after North Korea`s major power, its backers, Russia and China.
Chinese banks have been laundering money for North Korea. And it`s not just the small ones. All four of the so-called big four banks have been handling North Korea`s cash. That`s a violation of U.S. federal law. That gives us enormous leverage.
WILLIAMS: Because this has been most of your adult life`s work, did I get it about right, the two shocking things about seeing this scene of the two guys is Kim Jong-un is out of his country, and listen to his voice?
CHANG: Yes. Well, Kim Jong-un is much more outgoing than his father. His father spoke only once in public, and then he said about 13, 14 words. Something like "long live the Korean People`s Army."
Now, Kim Jong-un has actually spoken to the North Korean people, but we generally don`t hear that. The more important thing that you point out, and I think it`s absolutely critical, is that Kim Jong-un felt secure enough to leave North Korea for three or four days. Now, he wants to get back quickly, which is an indication there are problems in the military. We know that because of that recent reshuffle of the top three posts at the Korean People`s Army. That is an indication that Kim is a little bit nervous, and there`s all sorts of other indications that all is not well in North Korea at this particular moment.
WILLIAMS: I also felt the need tonight to point out that they don`t make a car that he can use as a limousine overseas. They don`t make a jet airliner that they can fly to Singapore. He`s driving a German armored limousine and in a Air China commercial jetliner.
CHANG: Both of those are significant. With regard to the Air China, that is China`s flag carrier. Basically she Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, is saying to President Trump, "Look, Kim Jong-un is my vassal. You better not hurt him."
With regard to that Mercedes, Kim Jong-un engages in gift politics like his father and grandfather. That`s the giving of luxury items to senior regime elements to buy their loyalty. Two things are given, you know, really important. Rolex watches and Mercedes.
North Korea buys Mercedes in hundreds. So that is significant that he actually arrived in that particular brand of German car.
BASH: And (INAUDIBLE) apparently.
WILLIAMS: Oh, really?
BASH: Yes, he has a particular pension for a certain kind of alcohol. But what else have they built in North Korea or what have they built? Sixty nuclear weapons, Brian.
BASH: Intercontinental ballistic missiles, medium and short range missiles, a hundred thousand rockets aimed at Seoul, a chemical weapons program that was used literally for fructoside to kill his own brother, a biological weapons program. So I think the real important yardstick of tonight and the diplomacy that will unfold and the press conference we`re probably here at about 4:00 a.m. Eastern is, will the North Koreans give up these weapons that will threaten the United States and our allies? If not, then this was a nice photo pp, but it really doesn`t mean anything for our own security.
WILLIAMS: Back up one thing to the hundred thousand artillery tubes pointing at Seoul. This is where I always go back to. Take nukes off the table. Let`s say it`s fantasyland and they`re going to go home and destroy them all by the weekend.
You have a hundred thousand artillery tubes aimed at a city of 25 million people, if you include its environs. That`s a first strike capability right there.
BASH: And Seoul is an amazing city. If you`ve ever been there, you take off from the helicopter at Yongsan Military Garrison in downtown Seoul where the American military is there with the Republican of Korean, a South Korean military. And if you fly north to the DMZ, you see the entire city. It`s amazing what the South Korean people have achieved over the last generation and a half. Really at war. Basically on the border with a hostile regime.
There has never been peace there as we`ve been discussing all night. And they`ve created an amazing, immaculate city. And that city lives under daily threat from these artillery tubes from the North.
WILLIAMS: Nicolle, let`s talk about politics. How does this -- what happens now in the next 12 to 24 hours?
WALLACE: Well, two things. It`s important to note that Donald Trump has been talking about this summit with his friends and his outside advisers --
WILLIAMS: It`s a big deal.
WALLACE: -- as a big moment for him in the sun. It was never going to be canceled. I went back and looked at communications from senior national security officials in this White House around the 25th and 26th when there were news reports that it was on ice.
And there were meetings in -- there were meetings during that time when they were putting out this sort of their own fake news that the summit was off. It was never off. Advance planning was never canceled because he needs it. This is what he plans to run on in the midterms.
The second point I`d make about what happened today -- and I know we live in a 24 hour news cycle. We`re fixated at the moment. We`ve been covering this minute by minute. This didn`t happen in a vacuum.
He left Canada where he literally seemed to thrill in sticking his finger in the eyes of our oldest, closest, most reliable allies to legitimize, and you can never put that toothpaste back in the tube. He has now elevated the leader of North Korea to a stature that he can never undo. So literally on the plane ride from Canada, where he seemed to delight in ridiculing and harsh personal attacks against some of our closest allies, he then landed and called it a tremendous honor to be there with this murderous dictator who Republicans used to describe as a thug before they all got brainwashed by Trumpism.
WILLIAMS: Gordon, he does get points for the spectacle of it all. This is a history making event and it`s going to make the world safer for our children and grandchildren?
CHANG: Yes. I mean, we`ve eventually got to talk about human rights for a number of reasons. First of all, Otto Warmbier, this is the one-year anniversary that he came back and then he died shortly after that. There`s a guy named David Sneddon, an American who was probably kidnapped by the North Koreans. We haven`t gotten an accounting for him. There`s the Japanese abductees.
President Trump said publicly that he was going to get an accounting for Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister. And this is the most horrific regime on earth. But the one thing we`ve got to remember, though, is that we get state visits to China, and China engages in horrific practices of its own. And so we need to sort of put this in perspective.
I am sort of viscerally, I agree with you. I don`t really like the idea of U.S. and Korean flags next to each other. But if that`s the small price to pay, then I`m willing to do it because one thing President Trump can do here, and this is important when you look at the scheme of things, if he can win over North Korea to be a friend, that is one more friend that we have in a struggle with China that is attacking us across the board. That is China`s only military ally.
CHANG: That would be undercutting North Korea -- China`s narrative that they`re going to take over the world. That`s important for us. It`s a small price to pay.
BASH: But if I could just say something about that, I think it is true the President deserves some credit here. First of all, he got three detainees back. That`s no small feat. He also was able to hold these talks not under fire. After all, the North Koreans have suspended their missile tests.
But it was a year of provocation, a year of needless provocation in my mind from an American President with bellicose tweets and bellicose --
WILLIAMS: Remove the needle.
BASH: -- and absolutely that I think caused the North Koreans to accelerate their program. They flight tested an ICBM twice. They have never done that. They conducted a sixth nuclear test.
They twice overflew Japan, our ally. They engaged in the most provocative acts and once and only when the North Koreans felt like they had the nuclear deterrent well in hand, did they pivot, turn, leverage the split between us and our South Korean ally, work with President Moon in South Korea. They held that meeting on the DMZ at Panmunjom, that conference room, walked to the North, walked to the South, and then they said we`re ready to deal with the Americans.
WILLIAMS: And as a reward, they get their flag right next to the stars and stripes at this event. Our thanks to our three panelists, to Nicolle Wallace, to Jeremy Bash, to Gordon Chang. It`s been a long day and a long night of analysis for everybody here.
Up next for us after our first break here in this hour, two days ago you just heard us mention this. President Trump called the Canadian Prime Minister very dishonest and weak. Tonight, he said it`s a great honor to sit down with the dictator of North Korea. Exactly the point Nicolle was just making.
We`re going to go live to Singapore when this special edition of "The 11th Hour" comes right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how is it going so far, sir?
TRUMP: Very good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think?
TRUMP: Very, very good, excellent relationship. Thank you. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As we await this working lunch between these two leaders, allow us to put this night into context. This evening`s historic face-to-face meeting comes just days after a major clash between Donald Trump and some of America`s closest allies at the G7 summit, which, remember, was just this past weekend. Relations were already strained when the President went to the G7 on Friday. But then disagreements over trade and Trump`s own pressing the case for tariffs made things more contentious.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck back, nicely but firmly, with these comments, hinting at further retaliation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum. Canadians, we`re polite, we`re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that was that. And then Trump responded with a torrent of insults on Twitter, calling Trudeau "very dishonest and weak," while attacking other U.S. partners. He also withdrew U.S. support from a joint agreement reached at the G7 meeting. They had just agreed to it before his departure.
This now iconic photo got a lot of circulation this weekend. It was released by the office of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and it really does capture the seriousness of what was going on there. And the President`s, according to some who look at the picture, isolation as part of the group as he makes his most important diplomatic move since taking office.
Well, with us tonight live from Singapore, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize- winning Bureau Chief from "The Washington Post." And with us from Washington, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times."
Philip Rucker, in your view, I`m sure that at the halfway mark, perhaps a little past, it`s too early to know just what it is we are witnessing here. The history part, what Donald Trump wanted to emerge, the visuals, has that already been accomplished?
PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it has, Brian. The history here is that Donald Trump is the first U.S. president to have this kind of a meeting with the leader of North Korea. The event, the photo opp this morning was staged with that big red carpet. They came out, they shook hands, they sat down one-on-one and then they joined each other`s delegations for that bilateral meeting that is ongoing now.
And for Trump, it`s just so striking because he`s afforded Kim Jong-un more respect than he did the Canadian prime minister and Quebec a few days ago. He`s referring to Kim here as Mr. Chairman. He`s flattering him in some ways. He said it was his honor to meet him, has said nothing yet that we`re aware of about the human rights violations of Kim Jong-un and his regime in North Korea or about the totalitarian state that he leads back home.
WILLIAMS: So, Peter, this just could be one of those things Donald Trump is more interested in. It is the big chess move on the big stage. The G7 may bore him by comparison.
A two-day kind of low-energy summit up in Canada. But then you hear arguments, as we did in this studio tonight from Jeremy Bash, that the stars and stripes should not be adjacent to the North Korean flag. This elevates all of North Korea by proximity.
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, look, this is a President we know of who looks superlatives. He wants to be the first, the most, the biggest, the best. Things that have been done for 40 years don`t interest him. Things that have never been done do.
And the meeting with Kim Jong-un has never been done. No sitting American President has ever met the North Korean leader. That by itself makes a history.
Now, the question is whether it goes beyond the photo opp, whether it goes beyond having those flags next to each other, and we can`t tell. President Trump did tell us over the weekend he would know within the first minute of meeting Kim Jong-un whether it was going to be a successful summit. It`s now gone on for more than a minute, so we have to assume that he`s feeling pretty good about it.
But the truth is, you know, he hasn`t set a definable standard for what success would be out of this meeting. And presumably, it`s just, you know, a way in the door to future meetings that might or might not be presumably more substantive and more concrete in getting us down the road toward an actual agreement.
WILLIAMS: So, Phil Rucker, we`ve agreed that President Trump made history tonight. I`m the last person who should be judging right and wrongs in the business of diplomacy. But have you talked to anyone who has passed judgment on the decision to go into the first bilateral meeting, the first one-on-one with merely translators and no one recording for the record, no note-takers, which is customary?
RUCKER: Well, President Trump`s advisers have been saying that that meeting is set up that way in part because the most important thing to come from it is the personal relationship between the two leaders. Trump came here to Singapore hoping to establish a rapport with Kim. Kim came here hoping to sort of normalize relations with the United States. And to do that, they wanted to meet one-on-one together to establish their own connection, build their own chemistry, sort of feel each other out before they bring in their other advisers.
There`s risk of course, which I`m sure others on the broadcast have been talking about all night, which is that there are no note-takers. There`s no sort of official version of events for either government to hold on to about what is said back and forth. But for Trump, this is totally not surprising, I think.
Trump likes to have these kind of personal engagements. He sees this as almost like negotiating one of these real estate deals he did in Manhattan where he sits across from someone, sizes up his competitor, and tries to figure out a way to manipulate him and outsmart him.
WILLIAMS: Peter, you`ve watched this guy for a long time. I am anticipating a joint statement, perhaps a press availability that will be rife with superlatives. But then even as he gets outside of Chinese airspace, the pressure for deliverables begins. And people in our business will keep writing the articles about the deal with North Korea. What happened with denuclearization? And that`s the tough part of this job.
BAKER: Oh, it so much is. Yes. I mean, look, President Clinton struck a deal with North Korea, and obviously it fell apart. President Bush got close to a couple deals that also fell apart. And, you know, in the flush of the moment, you feel good about a deal.
You feel like, you know, you brought the world closer to peace. Of course anyone would want that. But the details are so important. And it`s so much more difficult.
One thing President Trump has said, and he`s right about, is it`s more difficult today than it was a decade ago when President Bush was doing it and certainly more difficult than it was 25 years ago when President Clinton was doing it because North Korea has a nuclear arsenal right now. It`s not the Libya model. Libya didn`t actually have nuclear weapons. They only had a program intended to try to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran, for all the sturm und drang over the agreement that was made with President Obama didn`t have nuclear weapons. They had a program that might get them to getting a nuclear weapon. This is more complicated. It will take a long time over the best of circumstances.
So, you know, yes, the first -- you know, you don`t normally do it this way. You normally have the experts go in first. You work your way up to a leader meeting.
But as we saw in the G7 and we`ve seen in other instances, the only person that really matters in this administration is the President. The only one who can actually cut a deal is the President. Everybody below him doesn`t have the authority to make deals. So I guess in that sense, there`s a certain logic to having the President in on the first meeting.
WILLIAMS: Well, when we say Singapore is the other side of the world, we mean it. It`s a half hour before noon there and a half hour before mid night here. That tells us we owe Phil Rucker a lot of thanks for being jet lagged and doing television on top of deadline journalism covering this summit today. Really appreciate it as we do Peter Baker in a more manageable location of Washington, D.C. Gentlemen, thank you both so much.
And coming up for us, two of the preeminent names in foreign policy and military policy are coming here.
"The 11th Hour" is back with them after this.
WILLIAMS: President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are meeting right now in Singapore. They`re awaiting what comes next along with us. A working lunch where the two leaders will be joined by top advisers from both nations.
We`re expecting to go live to that location when they sit down, welcome cameras in. Perhaps there`ll be some brief remarks. We`ll bring them to you live. The delegation, as you see there, includes Secretary of State Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the National Security Adviser John Bolton.
We have two terrific gentlemen to talk about all this tonight. With us here in New York, Richard Haas, a diplomat under President George W. Bush with experience working for both the Pentagon and the State Department, currently serves as President of the Council on Foreign Relation and author of "A World in Disarray American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Older.
Also with us from Seattle, retired four-star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam and former Battlefield Commander in the Persian Gulf, his global portfolio includes the Korean peninsula. I think I got my George Bush wrong. George Herbert Walker Bush.
RICHARD HAAS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I actually worked for both of them.
WILLIAMS: Work for both Bushs. Well, if you`re going to have that on your resume, I guess you`re doing well too. Mr. Haas, I`m going to quote you back to you. You said this on Twitter today, the unraveling of G7 Summit works in North Korea`s favor as the real Donald Trump will not want to bust up two summits in a row, lest people conclude he is the problem. Increases incentive for Kim to up his asks and limit his compromises and for Trump to do the opposite.
Hardly the ideal context. I wasn`t planning on asking you about our new effort to bottle Canada`s nonstop aggression, but there is that. There was the G7 before there was Singapore.
WILLIAMS: No, absolutely. Normally you would see allies as a way of pooling strength. Essentially we wouldn`t approach North Korea or any other issue alone. We`d always package it with countries that were on our side. So a strong showing in Quebec would have been a perfect way, one, to approach North Korea, and, two, to reassure South Korea and Japan.
Instead, you have a situation where obviously we distanced ourselves from our allies for reason that remain inexplicable, which makes, again, our allies in this region nervous. And I think does put pressure on the President, or he put pressure on himself now because you don`t want to have two unsuccessful meetings in a row.
WILLIAMS: In a perfect world, that G7 as you say is kind of a pep rally. It gives you momentum going into your dicey summit overseas. You say for reasons we don`t know. Do you have a theory as to why an American president would go in and break the furniture in the durable post-war alliance?
HAAS: Yes, my own explanation, Brian, is two things. Donald Trump from the get-go has believed two things deeply. One is that the burdens and costs of American world leadership far outweigh any benefits. He actually believes that.
And, two, he believes, as he would say, that we have been taken advantage day in, day out by the global trading regime. So he had to confront both issues here. He had to confront NATO and generally U.S. allied burden sharing, and it had to confront the trading regime.
So he picks on an issue with Canada about dairy, which is, what, one-tenth of one percent of the U.S./Canada trade relationship.
Meanwhile, we`re in slight surplus with Canada on manufacturing and so forth. It was as if he was looking to pick a fight, which seems to me either he was unable to grasp the reality of the relationship or unwilling to, and then you get into the whole political conversation.
But for whatever reason, it was damaging. It`s damaging with allies. It basically shows that having a larger relationship with us doesn`t count for a lot. That this administration at any moment is willing to focus on a particular and drive that home regardless of the larger damage it does, regardless of the larger degree we benefit from the relationship.
WILLIAMS: Because it`s important to the boss. Barry McCaffrey, I know you`ve been watching the coverage tonight. Let`s see here. Where are we?
Here. OK. Hi. General, I was looking for a camera so I could talk to you. What`s your view? I mean history has been made already in this summit. There`s that. What`s your view so far of what you`ve seen and the pitfalls?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET): Well, look, go back to Richard Haas point for one second. The last time I testified to the Senate it was on the Mexican border, 2,000 miles, and I pointed to the 5,000 miles of U.S./Canadian border and alleged the only thing safer than living next to Canada might be next to the Vatican.
So the whole notion of using national security as an argument to bash Canada is really unsettling. Looking at Singapore, a couple of thoughts. One is some good can come out of this. I think dialogue, it`s potentially going to reduce the tensions in the short run as many of your panelists have pointed out. The major believable short-term threat are North Korean artillery bombardment of the south.
If we thought it would lead to denuclearization, we`re sadly mistaken. It`s never going to happen. Kim Jong-un`s a clever brute. He`s murdered more than 300 of his senior officials. There is absolutely no reason to believe what he would say, and I think the biggest problem we`ve got going into this talk this time was he`s playing along game. He`s going to be around for 40 years.
He`s going to assume that President Trump`s gone in three years or maybe eight years. So he`s going to promise enormous payoffs in denuclearization over the coming ten years and try and get anything he can now.
The next President of the United States is not going to roll this stuff back, so I think we`re in a very tricky position. But in sum, I think it`s probably a helpful thing that President Trump did break through the stasis (ph) and get a dialogue going.
WILLIAMS: Well Barry, back up to your first point, and I want a parting thought that`s on the nice side. The McCaffrey grandchildren are probably safer as a result of this summit happening in Singapore?
MCCAFFREY: Yes, I think so. By the way, I`ve got a grandson headed to the air force academy this summer. So it`s of great interest to our families. I think Kim Jong-un -- by the way, I`ve got a very angry tweet 12 hours ago. Says, of course Kim Jong-un is seeking like every leader a prosperous and happy population. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
He doesn`t want an open society. He wants the economic constraints lifted. He`s got to rejuvenate his armed forces. He wants an industrial capacity. He wants to be recognized. That sort of thing can happen. But he will not give up a nuclear capability. He`s sure, correctly, that`s why he`s in Singapore with the eyes of the world on him.
WILLIAMS: Richard, you got to love that. The guy has stared down the North Vietnamese and the Iraqis but send them a tweet and that will get his attention.
Richard Haas, last word. Will the Haas grandchildren be safer because of what happened today?
HAAS: The at the risk of a cliche, way too soon to say. North Korea is going to agree in principle to denuclearization. Won`t do it in practice. Barry is right. The danger is either the summit breaks up with bad news, or the good news is we end up giving too much for too little.
And we`ve got to be really careful not to do anything that weakens our military presence on the peninsula or our alliance unless North Korea fundamentally deconstructs the conventional military threat it poses to South Korea and Japan.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. A treat to have you here in New York at this late hour, as it is both gentlemen, Richard Haas, General Barry McCaffrey, thank you both.
Coming up for us, is President Trump any closer to that goal we keep mentioning, denuclearization? Live coverage continues after this.
WILLIAMS: We are back, and again 11:44 east coast time, that means it`s 11: 44 the other way, about 15 minutes before noon in Singapore. We`re waiting to get live pictures of the start of this working lunch.
We are back, importantly joined by three important voices right now. If you`ve been watching our coverage, you`ve seen Sue Mi Terry with us tonight, a former senior fellow for the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Importantly also a former Senior Analyst at the CIA, was in charge of the region while at the White House in the NSC.
Joe Cirincione is back with us, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of, are you ready for this book title "Nuclear Nightmares." Joe is actually a fun guy. "Securing the World before it is too late."
And our Presidential Historian and author and friend, Michael Beschloss is here with us in New York. Welcome to you all. Thank you for coming in. Thank you for your continued service. Sum up everything you and I and we have discussed here all night. I ended up asking both of those gentlemen if their grandchildren were safer because of what happened today in Singapore, and I think that`s an acceptable lens to view this meeting in.
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER NORTH KOREA ANALYST FOR THE CIA: The problem is we don`t know, and only years later we`ll know. Even if there`s a successful deal and there`s an agreement, we don`t know if that`s truly successful or not.
In the past, for example, when we agreed, we had -- 1994 agreed framework. We thought it was a successful agreement. It was in 2002 we found out North Korea was cheating on that agreement by separately pursuing uranium enrichment program.
So my point is, it`s going to be many years before we even know and even if there`s a successful agreement and that`s a big if because tonight could just produce a sort of joint statement that`s not a real agreement yet.
WILLIAMS: There`s a New York expression, couldn`t hurt. How can a summit make anything worse? How could it make it worse if these two leaders for the first time took their measure of each other?
TERRY: I mean, It certainly better than all this preventive strike talk or bloody nose of where we were last November, December.
WILLIAMS: Fire and fury.
TERRY: Fire and fury, lock and loaded, rock and met suicide mission, totally disagree (ph) North Korea. Certainly it`s much better situation than that. But if we`re really looking at complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea`s nuclear program, are we there just based on today`s meeting? I would say if I had to make a bet, no.
WILLIAMS: Joe, same question.
JOE CIRINCIONE, AUTHOR "NUCLEAR NIGHTMARES": I`m betting yes, we are safer. I mean look at what Donald Trump has done. He has done something that other Presidents have tried to do and failed to do.
He`s overcome the major obstacle to getting an agreement with North Korea, which is getting the right wing of the American political establishment to embrace this approach. Many, many people in the United States have been completely opposed to any negotiations with this regime, favoring in one form or another regime change.
Donald Trump has brought that right wing to the table, in this case literally dragging John Bolton to the table there to bless this --
WILLIAMS: Veteran hawk (ph).
CIRINCIONE: Yes. So he`s opened up enormous space for any President who follows. Even if this deal runs into trouble, he`s established a precedent that, yes, the right wing of the party is cheering him on in negotiations with the last totalitarian state on the planet, a repressive communist regime, and he`s establishing the principle, as Eugene Robinson said, yes, we talk to our enemies. This is how we solve our problems.
WILLIAMS: Great answer. Michael Beschloss, the only summit I think I`ve been thrilled by in my adult life was at --
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Reagan and Gorbachev.
WILLIAMS: Iceland, yes. And when they emerged, and it was sad because we learned how close they almost came.
WILLIAMS: But that`s the element of surprise that people have been saying all night, let this thing percolate.
BESCHLOSS: That said and that`s why these things are so unpredictable. You know, Reagan in that case, that was `86. Reagan went to Iceland. It was a summit with about a week`s preparation. And Reagan went in, had no idea that Gorbachev was going to make him this big offer.
I`ll talk about abolishing all of our ballistic missiles, and maybe a lot of our nuclear arsenals, if you will give up your strategic defense initiative. And Reagan, in retrospect to his great credit, said no. And one thing that also shows negotiators is sometimes you can`t be so desperate for a deal that you`re not going to walk out. Reagan did. This is what I worry about with Trump.
CIRINCIONE: We disagree on that.
CIRINCIONE: They should have made the deal. Gorbachev wanted to keep the missile defense in the research stage for ten years. Reagan, because of Richard Pearl, who played the John Bolton role at this point, said no.
Either one could have compromised. It turned out it didn`t make any difference as missile defense stuff still doesn`t work and we could have made that deal. This is what`s so significant about having Donald Trump make this deal, open up this discussion.
I agree with Sue Mi Terry. There`s a long way to go here, but we have just taken a major step, a step we can`t take back in just having the meeting, having that photo opp.
WILLIAMS: Sue, what if i told you they`re 19 minutes late for lunch? Is that a good sign?
TERRY: Yes, I think it`s a good sign.
WILLIAMS: Because they`re still talking.
TERRY: It`s better than just walking out right away. Yes, it`s a good sign.
WILLIAMS: And they`ve got things to talk about.
TERRY: Yes, exactly.
WILLIAMS: Maybe they`re trying to hammer out the deal.
We will fit in a break. Oh, here we are. We`ll be right back.
WILLIAMS: We interrupt this commercial we were in and to show you what is just happening now in Singapore. There is a young man who is giving a newscast locally. The shot went down. The camera crews were allowed in to take video of the scene as the working lunch was getting started.
All of the signals going to a central location have gone down. So, we`ll keep looking at it and when we can -- you get enough of an idea there. You saw President Trump at what appeared to be kind of a U-shaped table. Here`s another attempt at the video we have so far.
There is Kim Jong-un and it`s clear the American side is over there. OK, this is taped. Let`s listen to the audio.
Sue Mi Terry, among our expert in the area, who is speaking what right there?
TERRY: I think there was South Korean news people reports, it sounds like South Korean are talking about it and saying that, I think Trump -- the South Korean reporting is saying "We think President is trying to reporter take good picture make (INAUDIBLE) something like that.
WILLIAMS: Still directing the show.
TERRY: And then the South Korean reporter was commenting on the table, saying well it`s not overly elaborate over incentive but it looks nice, so they`re commenting on the table and what`s going on.
WILLIAMS: The show. Joe, do you think this administration has the long- ball staying power? This is going to be grunt work from here on out?
CIRINCIONE: They`re the snow plow going down the road. They`re clearing the path for it. But this is going to be a long road. I think they do have the expertise in the establishment in the deep state to actually take care of this.
If they can arrive at an agreement in principle, I understand that President Trump was pushing for a specific date of 2020 to get North Korean denuclearization. He`s not going to get that. That`s impossible. But this is the kind of stuff that will be picked left to the trucks behind the snow plow.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I was going to say if you spend time in the northeast, driving behind the snow plow is not a -- also Michael Beschloss maybe math wasn`t your strong suit and your SAT`s were verbal like mine but 2020. What happens in 2020?
BESCHLOSS: Gee, I think there may be an election and that may even be there maybe midterm this year that maybe helped by a glitzy summit.
WILLIAMS: But every thing wrap around politics.
BESCHLOSS: Yes. But that`s a problem because that puts pressure on the President to have the summit, look like a success. It may force him to push for certain things that he otherwise would not. That`s what I`m worried about.
WILLIAMS: To our viewers, just to let you know, obviously the live coverage will continue all evening long. We`re having some of these technical issues, but there`s been no press statement or press event.
If there is going to be one of those, it`s going to be in the 4:00 a.m. eastern hour. So far, these have been what we call veils or variabilities where the pool members of the traveling press core are allowed in.
They can talk to President Trump. As CNN`s Jim Accosta did, they can toss a question to Kim Jong-un. Are you prepared to give up your nuclear weapons? No answer on that one. And we may not have an answer very soon.
But again, they are at the start of the working lunch which started, by our count, more than 20 minutes late, which according to our expert here in our New York studio, was probably a good sign. Probably a sign of productive talks.
Live coverage continues all evening long. With thanks to Sue Mi Terry, Joe Cirincione, Michael Beschloss, as always. That`s our broadcast for tonight. Thank you for being with us. Stay with this network for live coverage.
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