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MSNBC Special Coverage: North Korea Summit. TRANSCRIPT: 06/11/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, and Nicolle Wallace

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 11, 2018

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: He`s 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.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two volatile leaders. They`ve tested each other.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rocketman should have been handled a long time ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve taunted each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jong-un issued a direct response. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, they`re moments away from meeting for the first time face-to-face.

TRUMP: I hope the upcoming meeting in Singapore represents a bright new future to the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the stability of the region and the world on the line --

TRUMP: I don`t think I have to prepare very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 are Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: 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 on 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 starters, our President has an unfiltered Twitter account. He was back at it early this morning setting expectations we believe, "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.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: As you see on your screen right now, the President`s motorcade is on route to the Capella Hotel in Singapore where President Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet for the first time during the transition of power after our 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 dictator 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 "within the first minute whether the summit will be a success. Asked to explain how he`ll know, he told reporters. "I just, my touch, my feel."

WILLIAMS: 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 purpose. Because he doesn`t get out much, he has seemingly enjoyed the attention and the glare of the lights. Numerous cameras from North Korean state-run media are recording it all to take utmost advantage of it back home.

MADDOW: The first order of business will be what 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 saying X happened 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.

WILLIAMS: Here we go is right. Joining us here 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 Host of "DEADLINE WHITE HOUSE", Chris Hayes Host of "ALL IN" here on MSNBC, he usually in this time period. Sue Mi Terry former Director of the Korea-Japan Oceanic Affairs at the National Security Council under both Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama and a Korean Analyst for the CIA. Rounding out our team is Victor Cha, the Trump Whitehouse former candidate for Ambassador to South Korea and importantly these days and MSNBC Analysts.

MADDOW: We are very lucky to have expertise that we have at this table particularly at the very end of this table here. And it`s going to be a night when we need to be able to parse nuances and to understand the subtleties of what`s going on. We also have to be cognizant of how much we`re being stage-managed.

WILLIAMS: I don`t know what you`re talking about.

MADDOW: Well, there`s been interesting reporting and speculation as to how much is actually going to be open for discussion at this event, how much may have been previously decided. I think -- the way I`m approaching this at least the way that I`ve been trying to think about this today is to sort of not allow this the spectacle and that`s just the weirdness and the unusual nature of the meeting overshadow what`s happening. I mean, I don`t think we should sugar-coat what the President has done here by agreeing to this meeting. North Korea is the most repressive dictatorship on earth arguably. I mean, 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 who had been tortured in prison, whose father was tortured to death, whose grandmother was starved to death. There`s a reason why no U.S. President has ever agreed to give the North Korean dictatorship what they have wanted for so long. There`s 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 they do with nuclear weapon, they have forced or manipulated the rest of the world to see this dictatorship as essentially legitimate and to see Kim Jong-un as a -- as a legitimate head of state and that is serious as a heart attack. As weird this is and as almost incredible it is as a spectacle, this is a very, very serious line that the President just crossed.

WILLIAMS: Both men presumably, both motorcades have arrived inside the hotel but we`re waiting for confirmation of that. Nicolle Wallace is among the better source 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`s no nuclear weapons in North Korea.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Well, 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. This is it. This is all he`s got. This is his midterm strategy. This is this 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 being widely reported that talks were off. Talks were never off. There was a meeting in the DMZ with the North Koreans and the Americans on May 26th. The whole thing was a Trumpian head-fake. So the idea that we`re being played is something that I think we have to bake into the cake a little bit tonight.

MADDOW: Both the terms of the fact that it`s happening now but also whatever is going to be announced tonight as if it`s just been agreed to in that room.

WALLACE: And that it`s a foreign policy exercise. It is also in every way imaginable a political exercise for Donald Trump.

MADDOW: 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`s happened already, whose interests are being served, what are you watching for?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Well that`s a question, right? I mean, right now you have in a strange way, in the short term a coincidence of interest between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. And 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 from perform it in a sort of monarchical fashion. We saw the G7 right, so he was -- he Donald Trump of the individual, the king was angry at Justin Trudeau and so he blew up a communique in G7 right? The way that we think about the way the Democratic, Republican, Republic`s undertake foreign policy is that there are interests and institutions that are represented by the head of state who was democratically elected. It`s not the whim of the head of 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 ahead of states personality. So there`s this bizarre spectacle of watching him come at the G7 and say I was angry with the way that Justin talked about me and I`ve blown this up but I like this Kim Jong-un guy. I like the kind of (INAUDIBLE) and maybe well, we can work out a deal. And you think to yourself, well no, the United States, we democratic people, we have a say in this. This is the sort of accountable system that we should be --

WALLACE: And to your point, he didn`t run on this. I mean, what he ran on and what he said in an interview on CBS Morning Show was he would hope that he would disappear. So to your point about democracy is this was not the foreign policy he ran on, that I was going to go to Singapore and elevate Kim Jong-un at the world stage.

MADDOW: But it`s depending on what happens, this is what he`d liked very much to run on -- Republican to run on in November. Standing by in Singapore is our Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. Andrea has reported on relations between the U.S. and North Korea for every president since Ronald Reagan. Andrea, what are you looking for tonight? What have we -- what have we been learning as we head toward the start of this one-on-one?

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think you`re 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 joint statement, that that`s why Secretary Pompeo came into the briefing room. I don`t know how many hours ago. It was morning I guess our time here and said, they`re moving very quickly and the President is going to leave we`ve later learned, leave tonight after his news conference following the summit rather than staying until Wednesday. So instead of having a second day, things were going so well they`d agreed among the experts on the framework of something and what that something is I`ve been told is some kind of a from Kim Jong-un to denuclearization. The problem of course is 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 60 warheads. We`re talking about thousands of people in an underground complex. Rachel, you`ve been there. You know what -- how complex this is. And from all of our reporting, I`ve been there a couple of times but not at the nuclear weapon sites themselves. This is a very, very mysterious program. And they cheated before, Kim Kim`s father Kim Jong-il cheated in 1994 and fool Bill Clinton. In 2002, his father cheated George W. Bush. So all 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 and he`ll certainly cite that because he already knows that he`s got the long-range missiles that can reach the American homeland. So these are just some of the things that Victor Cha and Sue also know very well better than I. And 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 reunifying the peninsula? Because a peace agreement would mean ratifying the existence of North Korea.

WILLIAMS: 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`ve watched -- 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, Sue Mi Terry, and Victor Cha. Sue Mi, what would you like to add to what you`ve heard already as we set the stakes.

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER DIRECTOR, KOREA-JAPAN OCEANIC AFFAIRS AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, first of all, I mean, I think Rachel was absolutely right. North Korea already has gained. Kim Jong-un has gained. I mean, look at this. He`s running around Singapore taking selfies, acting like a normal leader on a normal country. He has gained international standing, legitimacy. Now he`s going to sit down with U.S. President which his father and grandfather have always wanted. So as an analyst, as people who watch North Korea closely, we 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.

So what are we talking about when we`re talking about denuclearization? We cannot lose sight of our goal which is complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea`s nuclear program. So I don`t want a vague statement. It has to be much more concrete than that. And even then, agreement as we know, we know that -- we have many agreements. It will always fell apart over verification and implementation. So we need to have a timeline. They need to have a timeline and they agreed to a very robust verification regime or allowing international inspector to go into North Korea.

MADDOW: Sue, can I ask you, when you talk about the -- how much Kim Jong- un has already gained by having this 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 country that it is a remarkable thing that he would be treated essentially as a normal head of state?

TERRY: Well, because North Korea, as you know, is the most isolated cultish place. It`s not part -- really part of the international norm right. He doesn`t play by that. But as President Trump who has agreed to this meeting Kim Jong-un where previous presidents, this is what Kim Jong- il wanted, Kim Il-sung wanted but we never agree to this. But by agreeing to sit down with Kim Jong-un, now we have given him -- why do you think Kim Jong-un got to meet with Xi Jinping twice? Why did he get to write because China, Xi Jinping agreed to meet with him after Trump decided to meet with Kim Jong-un? So now he goes around and legitimizing his role, looking like a normal person again, like a normal country and he has nothing to lose now. Regardless of what happens with the summit, he can go back to North Korea, he has already weakened political will in terms of implementing sanctions on the ground. We already have reports of China loosening implementation of sanctions on the ground level. And how he`s going to cope right now, he`s going to go back and there`s -- the whole world is now thinking he`s a normal person. We talked about human rights violations but he looks like a normal person. So it`s going to be hard to get back to a maximum pressure policy that we had before.

WILLIAMS: I just want to reference what we`re watching. Right just about to 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`s a chase car behind the motorcycles but in front of the Mercedes with media out the sunroof aiming back at the limousine. That would be free media were at 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, (INAUDIBLE) forever.

VICTOR CHA, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, I think that`s absolutely right, Brian. I mean, the thing we have -- this is a big meeting for President Trump. This is a huge meeting for the North Korean leader. They completely control internal communications information. They started putting out information about the United States meeting with Pompeo second trip to North Korea and now they`re constructing the narrative. And the narrative is as Rachel said, the world is coming to meet the North Korean leader because he`s now a nuclear weapon state and that is the domestic narrative. I mean, this is a regime. This guy is 34 years old. He took over when he was what 28, 29 years old. And 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 of purging which suggests there`s internal churn.

And so he has to prove himself too you know 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. And to Rachel`s question, why are we all paying attention to this, I mean, part of this is because as the international community we value peace right? And they are the threat to peace. And if they want to show -- if they want to come out just a little bit everybody comes flocking to them. So this isn`t the end right? After this meeting there`ll be a Putin meeting. I`m sure Putin meeting will drop. Xi Jinping has said he would reciprocate by coming to North Korea. He`ll probably get -- 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`s a lot more paying homage to this reclusive dictator who`s now stepping out.

MADDOW: Am I right that before this year Kim Jong-un had not met with another head of state and now this year he`s met with the South Korea, with South Korea, with China with Singapore, and now with the United States, soon to be Japan. I mean this is -- this year the recognition that he has achieved by this overture from President Donald Trump has already faulted him into a completely different realm of international recognition and international engagement even before today. Yes, prior date -- 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. He never stepped off outside the country. And within this period of basically a little over a month, you know he`s the toast to the town. Everybody wants to I mean meet him.

TERRY: I mean, the only person he has met with was Dennis Rodman. He was the only person he has met --

CHA: Who was not a head of state.

MADDOW: Well, to be fair let`s define state.

HAYES: Let me ask you this question. I mean, the logic of Moon Jae-in right, because we should talk a bit about the South Koreans role in this because they really have been driving a lot of this. I mean, the philosophy of Moon Jae-in is basically that we should have diplomatic overtures independent of the nuclear issue right? I mean essentially to reverse the kind of traditional order which is deal with nuclear issue and then have talks within the new nations and reconciliation, I mean, how much is South Korea kind of leading this and why is it not a good argument basically to do that?

CHA: Well, I mean it`s a great point. I mean I think the United States in the past two negotiations our number one issue has been the nucleation. The key to everything is they`re giving up their nuclear weapons. And what Moon Jae-in and there`s some in the United States who have also argued we have to change the environment first, you know, 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 -- I mean in December of 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 he was also worried that the North Koreans might carry out a terrorist attack during the Olympics. So he really generated a lot of this diplomacy on his own. He deserves credit for that. But now we`re at the point where he cannot script these two areas.

HAYES: That`s well said.

MADDOW: 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?

WILLIAMS: We just wanted to bring from -- obviously all this is fluid so if we can bring folks through what we`re expecting, President Trump has as we said arrived at the Capella 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 analysts and specialists who sit in on that kind of thing. Then at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, their aides will be invited 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 twelve hours plus and minus. Then at 4:00 a.m. Eastern time, the President will speak to the press Kim Jong-un will not be present for that.

MADDOW: In terms of -- 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.

WILLIAMS: All of it is we think.

MADDOW: We think it is we. Should know that Andrea just reported on our air that the communique, the agreement that is going to be announced as the outcome of this meeting has already been agreed to and this is as far as NBC News`s reports -- reporting goes. So that would imply that 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 wildcard in terms of the -- in terms of the timing.

WILLIAMS: 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 talk seem like they`re progressing if they cancel that and 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, veteran foreign correspondent, currently Columnist for The New York Times. Nick, I`ve been anxious to talk 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 days. What`s on your mind as they sit down?

NICK KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: 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 they`ve been commitments to head back -- dating back in 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 you know hastened suggested there really isn`t time to work out major details. So I don`t think there`s going to be any kind of landmark breakthrough agreement. But having said that, I do think that it`s possible that there is a process set in motion that does reduce tensions, that reduces the you know, the risk war. And there may be a freeze on missile test, freeze or continuing freeze on missiles as continuing free zone nuclear tests. There may be some destruction of ICBMs over time.

One of the things I must say that really disappoints me is the prospect that human rights issues are not going to be raised. And look, I don`t think that we should condition any nuclear deal on human rights but I sure think that in 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 a McDonald`s franchise 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 that don`t you know, were we can actually move the dial and listen to countries where if somebody has arrested, you don`t take three generations of their family and send them off to a labor camp.

MADDOW: Sue Mi Terry and Victor Shaw 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 a new legitimacy and engage -- international engagement for this leader, how -- they we`re talking about how that affects him in terms of his grip on his country and how it affects his relationship with his own people, how do you see that?

KRISTOF: I think that`s -- I think that`s exactly right and indeed I think my impression is that already Kim Jong-un has pitched this domestically as -- look the U.S. is 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`ve been seeking all these years. We have won. And so I think that`s the way they pitched it, in that sense it is a victory. You know, but I would also make the point that it is an awful lot better that the rhetoric were hearing today then what we were hearing a few months ago were there -- you know, there really was some prospect of a war that would be devastating.

HAYES: There`s also to me, I mean, there`s a broader non-proliferation issue here right, which is what is the lesson here. I mean, Iran before they get a nuclear weapon enters into a verified program of the United States to essentially you know, for the first time since the hostages were taking the embassy produced some kind of relationship with the U.S. bilateral agreement or multilateral agreement that has verification that gets thrown out the window. North Korea gets over the threshold to actually become a nuclear state and they get the American President with all the pomp and circumstance --

MADDOW: The President calling him honorable.

HAYES: That`s right. So the lesson is if you`re a sucker and you -- and you enter into a non-proliferation 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 shot.

WALLACE: I think you`re giving them too much credit for what George W. Bush would have called stategerie. This is also the arbitrary and capricious way which Donald Trump--

TRUMP: Oh no, I`m not saying that it`s intentional, I`m just saying that - -

WALLACE: But since we came in the air I`ve heard from two former very senior intelligence officials who said it doesn`t matter what happens next. Trump has already legitimized North Korea as a co-equal to the United States. The minute he sits down, the minute his rear end hits that chair, it`s over. The game has changed forever. So --

MADDOW: What`s the practical impact of that?

WALLACE: Well, they -- we now are in a -- will be in a position to engage in diplomacy with North Korea who could decide on Monday to go back to doing what they were doing in April, threatening to launch you know, testing ICBMs. I mean, there`s no check, there`s no vehicle, there`s no method for changing their behavior yet they have been legitimized by an American President and you can`t undo that.

KRISTOF: But you know, I do think that engagement over time is had a much better record than confrontation and it`s true that there this issue as you as you point out of legitimizing regime after its weapons. We already went through that with Pakistan and with India. This is not a new problem we`ve had we confront now and you know, I would just remind you again that a few months ago it really looked as if there was some real possibility that you know, 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. That seems --

WILLIAMS: Just artillery range alone. Leave the nukes out of the conversation, artillery range.

WALLACE: But I guess the people warned is that that risk -- we shouldn`t delude ourselves into thinking that that risk has evaporated.

WILLIAMS: Right, absolutely.

TERRY: But I don`t think North Korea would get to go back to provocation in terms of missile and nuclear testing. Kim Jong-un is very shrewd. He`s going in one direction with all this summit and diplomacy. And after he meets with Kim -- Trump, no matter what happens, I don`t think he will return the testing. They are 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 too, that possibility because it`s harder for us to react when North Korea acts better. It`s easier way to act when they do provocations.

WILLIAMS: In a normal times, how does the President make the human rights argument sitting across from Kim Jong-un at this meeting? In reading your last column, I thought that we could relate to the audience how it`s done again in normal times.

KRISTOF: Well, so in 2000 Madeleine Albright went to Pyongyang. She brought the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights to the table as a presence and I think that it`s --I think it`d be dangerous to condition any deal on OK you have to open up your labor camps. We have to do this to that to the Red Cross. I think that -- I don`t think that at this point would be useful. I sure think it`s worth the U.S. side pointing out that look, if you want to become respected around the world, then you can`t have a hundred thousand people in labor camps. You can`t send three generations people to these camps. You can`t ban any kind of outside information. You know, you 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.

I mean, you have to allow some freedom of religion at least, you know you have to have some progress. And I -- and our -- I mean, our Japanese allies, they`ve had so many people kidnapped by the North Koreans. They`re begging us to raise these issues and Megumi Yokota 13 years old kidnapped from -- along the coast as she was walking home from school, and how could 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.

MADDOW: 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 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 a joint way with the United States, and the United States appears to have not been interested in doing that.

How much damage has the president done to our relationship with those close allies by pursuing this in this way?

KRISTOF: Well, I mean, Prime Minister Abe, I think -- I mean, he invested so much in this relationship with President Trump. And then he suddenly realized that it got him nowhere, that everything was transactional, and at the moment he doesn`t have anything to offer President Trump and so he is just out in the cold. And 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 leader who has really quite successfully manipulated President Trump. And -- oh, President Trump, your leadership has made this all happen, and Nobel Peace Prize, you know. And 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, I think, has done a masterful job in orchestrating this on both sides.

WILLIAMS: Chris Hayes, that assumes our president is manipulatable somehow.

HAYES: I sometimes can`t tell if his super power is that everyone thinks that they`re not going to be the mark and he is the mark. I mean, you know, 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.

And so you`ve got a situation now where no one -- I don`t think anyone thinks Donald Trump cares in some deep way just as a person whether -- about the substance of the matter, like is there verified denuclearization, is there a move towards liberalization.

MADDOW: Or any of the human rights issues.

HAYES: Yeah, of course.

MADDOW: I imagine him making that case, but nobody would believe that he wanted it.

HAYES: Right, he cares about the headlines and everyone knows that who is on the other side of the table from him.

KRISTOF: And it sure does seem so inconsistent when, you know, in the -- 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.

WALLACE: But 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 was s the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Donald Trump went up 15 minutes later and said, I just want to have a good hang.

HAYES: Right.

MADDOW: My touch, my feel.

WALLACE: Within hours they 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 -- I mean, he is not only unburdened by an outcome because he doesn`t understand any of them or he understand what other issues should be on the table, he is unburdened by his own appointees, his own appointed secretary of state...

KRISTOFF: Have committed to.

WALLACE: ...promised on TV three hours earlier.

KRISTOF: But I would make the point that, OK, 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 fail. But those aren`t the only standards to judge what comes out.

WALLACE: I`m just saying as an administration, they have today put out two very different benchmarks for success.

HAYES: Right, right.

KRISTOF: Yeah. I mean, 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...

MADDOW: Although I think progressives are hardwired to think that talking is better than war.

HAYES: That`s right.

KRISTOF: I hope so.

MADDOW: Perennially that is maybe not true in a mirror image.

HAYES: To me, it`s this really deeper question about can you take -- I mean, if the president of the United States, Donald Trump, today said he wanted -- he was going to get behind single payer, right, and you were a single payer advocate you`d say like this is going to end in tears. Like, yes, in the abstract, sure, yes, 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.

KRISTOF: Absolutely.

HAYES: And I think that`s more the situation people find themselves in.

WILLIAMS: Chris, Sue Mi Terry, Nick Kristof, our thanks. We`re going to fit in our first break. And it`s a dicey piece of business. But as you can see, let`s just say the activity has calmed down quite a lot.

We saw some rental car looking vans come in. That was the very end of the motorcade. We have every reason to believe that all the vehicles are where they`re supposed to be.

Some sketchy camera locations -- there is a carport. There is a portico with a fan and a red carpet.

So we`ll watch this. You watch this you watch what we put out -- there is two gentlemen near the carport.

MADDOW: Who are not famous people.

WILLIAMS: And we`ll come blaze out of this commercial break should anything happen otherwise. Our live continues on the other side.


MADDOW: I have to tell you, this is ordinarily something on which 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?

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 allies, particularly its neighbor to the north, Canada, saying that 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, among other things he was in what has now become sort of an iconic photo of this division that exists between the U.S. and its allies, standing alongside Angela Merkel among others as the president sat sort of stone-faced a as they pressed him in what was clearly a contentious visit.

Larry Kudlow, you know the national economic adviser to the president, 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 in recent months 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 now.

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.

MADDOW: Thank you.

Peter Alexander, White House correspondent for NBC News.

Again, 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.

We don`t have any additional information at this point 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 everybody receiving this news tonight.

WILLIAMS: This also means, not 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 in the last couple days then you have seen his new book which just came on to the market.

Both of them always have books.

MATTHEWS: We have a lot of administrations represented here, have you noticed?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, that`s true.

MADDOW: Ben, 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 in 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?

BEN RHODES, FRM. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, you look from opening, Rachel. With Cuba, for instance, we saw an opening. We reached out to the Cubans to see if they wanted to establish a secret channel. But I met with Alejandro Castro, Raul Castro`s son 20 times before we put Barack Obama in the room with Raul Castro.

It took a lot of prep work, well over a year or two.

So, what is strange about this, is 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 achieve in this meeting before we put the head of state in the room, how are we going to be positioned coming out of this?

So, what I feel like here is the South Koreans took the initiative. Trump wanted the show and here we all are.

WALLACE: And it wasn`t just the South Koreans, he literally took the South Koreans out of H.R. McMaster`s office. If you go back to the way it actually happen and tick tock through how we got here, it was a meeting that Trump wasn`t even supposed to participate in. It have been someone with your job doing the groundwork.


And it`s still not clear to me, by the way, what the South Koreans were coming to propose was a head of state summit.

WALLACE: Correct.

RHODES: They were probably coming to say Kim says he is open to talking, which the North Koreans have always been open to doing. Trump kind of short circuits the whole thing, goes out, has it announced that night.

WILLIAMS: Opens the door to the lower press office.

WALLACE: Exactly.

WILLIAMS: To the briefing room.

WALLACE: I believe there was a Mueller story in the news that day, if my memory serves me right.

WILLIAMS: It didn`t feel like making it so...

WALLACE: ...feel like foreign policy.

RHODES: Put it this way, that is not how I think you or we would have done this, right? You would have taken a lot of time just to announce this summit.

I mean, we cannot -- I mean, I just want to set back here for a second, you know, because everything we have focused on the show tonight, the rest of the world is going to be rearranging itself to this event, and when they`re looking at a couple of things: they`re looking at the 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.

MADDOW: A big performative fight.

RHODES: Performative fight.

MADDOW: That was done public and shown to everybody with separation points.

RHODES: Yes, substantive and performative, right, there is substantive issues and there`s this person vitriol from Trump, right?

If I`m sitting there in Japan and South Korea, as you guys were saying, and I`m thinking, well, 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 just on whatever he says to Kim Jong-un, but on the security guarantees that we give to them?

And frankly, I think we`re going to see it kind of reordering in the world here 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.

MADDOW: We`ve been talking a lot 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 him on that. It seems like he hasn`t prepared.

I mean, obviously, it`s strange. It`s a departure. But is it dangerous, or is it just odd?

RHODES: Well, there are a few places I could go here. One, you always have a note taker for a simple reason. I mean, even when Obama was alone in the room with whoever it might have been, Putin, anybody else. The reason you have a note taker is that there is clarity on what was agreed to and what wasn`t, because there is a huge risk that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un could walk out of that one-on-one discussion with very different ideas of what they had just talked about, or what they had just agreed to.

And the note taker is the one who can read out the rest of the U.S. government on what happened. So, right now the only person who will know what was discussed in that room is 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.

WILLIAMS: Ben, do interpreters ever play a dual role?

MADDOW: Good question.

RHODES: In terms of doing for both countries...

MADDOW: Direct recall of the subject matter when they get out of the room?

RHODES: No. I mean, 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 that are being spoken. They`re not trained, they`re not -- it`s not their position, their job to thinking how am I going to read out the national security adviser and the secretary of state over what was discussed.

And 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 those interpreters. And that is -- that`s the whole reason why you always have somebody.

MADDOW: I have been assuming that the interpreters had a dual role. I had been assuming that the interpreter is some master spy.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about definitions. And I`m worrying about -- I`ve been studying on this, that there is a problem of specificity here, which is 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, that when they say denuclearization, they mean we get out, we remove the umbrella from Japan, we remove the umbrella from 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.

Because 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.

RHODES: Yeah, I mean, the two things that worry me, as has been said, they`ve committed to denuclearize time and again in the past. So, if they have in that joint statement a big commitment to denuclearize, which Trump will lift up, it doesn`t really mean anything until we can get on the ground and see that they`re following a road map to denuclearize.

MATTHEWS: Will they give us a list of their weapons tonight?

RHODES: Not just a list, though, we need a list and we need international inspections. We need to have people to verify this.

But the other thing is, Chris, Trump has been saying for years that why do we have troops in South Korea? Why do we have troops in Japan? So, you know, there is actually a track record of him saying well we shouldn`t provide the security guarantee here.

And that`s why -- you know, one of the winners out this could be China, because 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. If you travel across Asia...

WILLIAMS: They`re making their own islands.

RHODES: Yeah. You travel across Asia, 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 inkling that we`re putting the table troops in that region, that`s going to be game changer in terms of how people look at geopolitics in Asia.

TERRY: But President Trump might not even see it as a concession. He is too willing to give away the troop card. So, in this one-on-one 45 meeting, this is what I`m definitely afraid of, is that he is going to put that on the table not even as a concession but because he actually doesn`t think we even need the troops there.

WALLACE; And he has done it before. He had a one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin and relied on the Russian translator. And we were left with a he said-he said in terms of understanding what happened.

And you`re right, no one puts the Russian translator in the position of going out and telling the press -- I mean, Trump has done this before.

MADDOW: In terms of what else the president might see as a not too valuable thing that would be OK to give away. What about this issue of a peace treaty? North Korea and South Korea split in 1948. There`s secession of hostilities in 1953, but we don`t have a peace treaty. Technically, hostilities are still ongoing, which seems insane and seems like a weird way to think about it, so what would it be, substantively, to move toward a peace treaty, to move toward that sort of an agreement?

RHODES: 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 lead to us moving certain military hardware out of the region, and ultimately 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 for their security given that there is no peace agreement.

So, for the North Koreans, you know, look, be very clear as you`re talking about, I`m a progressive, I like like talking better than fighting. But my worry here is that he is going to put stuff on the table that you 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 northeast Asia.

MADDOW: And Donald Trump has already talked about wanting to give all four of those things.

TERRY: 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...

MATTHEWS: That`s right.

TERRY: ...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. So, that really just undercuts the rationale for our troop presence.

MATTHEWS: 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.

TERRY: Yes. That`s what he wants by saying regime security. We need regime security. We need peace treaty.

RHODES: And the Japanese are very scared of that.

WILLIAMS: Another one of our veteran analysts has joined us, and 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 shake, before the first photograph of the two together victory North Korea.

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: 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 so we`re putting him on the same stage as the American president.

Now, hopefully it will serve a larger purpose, which is to ensure security for American interests and our allies on the peninsula. And obviously, Brian, you see there the arrival.

WILLIAMS: Carrying his briefing book.

Jim 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.

BASH: So, he has arrived on Sentosa Island at the hotel resort where the meeting 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 missiles, which can hit Chicago and Denver. The only yard stick , Brian, by 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 facilities 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.

WILLIAMS: Well, 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 25 million people, 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?

BASH: Probably 50,000 to 100,000. And there`s no anti-rocket artillery mortar system in the world that 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..

WILLIAMS: This is tape playback.

BASH: 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.

WILLIAMS: As someone recently said, that the Mercedes limousine has been the favorite of dictators and despots going back decades around the world.

MADDOW: Yeah, you just see the no license plate thing and it just puts a little shiver down your spine, you know what I`m saying?

WILLIAMS: That`ll get you pulled over in New York.

MADDOW: 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, but, you know, Madeleine Albright was there in 2000, and we`ve had former President Jimmy Carter there. We`ve had former President Bill Clinton there for different reasons.

There`s been different talks around hostage releases and other sorts of things. When the 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?

BASH: 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 addition to 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, the two ICBM tests and another nuclear test. So, they have made great progress. And in fact, I think it`s fair to say that 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 has effectively achieved his aims in the region and now he`s able to trade away a little bit of that deterrent for a security guarantee.

and I agree with the earlier panelist who noted that if we come out tonight 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.

WILLIAMS: I think I just spotted the still photographer Will McNamee, so that would indicate that the White House still press pool is there. And so we have journalists from the United States and state-run media from North Korea.

MADDOW: And 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 then 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.

WILLIAMS: 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 for the purpose. So, 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 may meet and 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 --


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