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MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: It's Sunday, June 10. I am Margaret Brennan, and this is FACE THE NATION.
The summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is about to get under way. We will preview the Singapore talks and tell you what the president is saying on the eve of this historic event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is unknown territory in the truest sense. But I really feel confident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: President Trump made those remarks after a tense gathering of top U.S. allies in Canada, with all parties still fuming over the president's decision to trigger a trade war.
Mr. Trump sparked another controversy for the so-called G7 leaders with this: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This used to be the G8, not the G7. And something happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Before he left the meeting early for Singapore, the president claimed his relationship with our allies was a 10, but acknowledged a serious divide on how to deal with trade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will say, it was not contentious. What was strong was the language that this cannot go on. I mean, it is not a question of I hope it changes. It is going to change. We are like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing. And that ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded, saying the tariffs were -- quote -- "insulting."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Canadians, we're polite, we are reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: The president's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, will join us.
Plus, we will hear from former President Obama's National Security Adviser and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, as well as the top Democrat in the Senate on North Korea policy, Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
Finally, we will talk to Ken Starr, who investigated President Clinton, about the challenges that special prosecutor Bob Mueller faces.
And, as always, we will have plenty of analysis on all the news of the week coming up on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
Both leaders have arrived in Singapore for the historic face-to-face meetings. Air Force One touched down just a short while ago, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived earlier in the day and met with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee.
Yesterday, President Trump was asked if he had a clear objective for the talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a clear objective, but I have to say, Ileana (ph), that it is going to be something that will always be spur of the moment. You don't know. You know, this has not been done before at this level.
This is a leader who really is an unknown personality. People don't know much about him. I think that he is going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside. We will see.
QUESTION: In there a particular outcome that you would look for from this initial talk to judge whether you think things are going well?
TRUMP: Well, I think the minimum would be relationship. You would start at least a dialogue, because, you know, as a deal person, I have done very well with deals. What you want to do is start that.
QUESTION: How long do you think it will take you to figure out whether he is serious about giving up...
TRUMP: It's a good question. How long will it take? I think within the first minute, I will know, just my touch, my feel. That's what I do. How long will it take to figure out whether or not they are serious? I said maybe in the first minute.
You know, the way they say you know if you are going to like somebody in the first five seconds? You ever hear that one? Well, I think that, very quickly, I will know whether or not something good is going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: We begin today with "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor, who is leading our network coverage from Singapore.
Jeff, the president is about to begin what could be a significant arms control agreement, but he is casting this as sort of a question of chemistry with this 34-year-old dictator.
I mean, what should we expect to see?
JEFF GLOR, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Well, much has been made of these touch and feel comments and the president's comments earlier in the week saying that attitude was more important than preparation when it comes to these talks.
That is in keeping with his confidence as a negotiator, as someone who can get these deals done. However, he is not walking into these talks blind.
As early as '99, then potential aspiring candidate Trump was talking about nuclear proliferation as the world's greatest threat. And he said at the time that -- that whoever was in charge should be talking to Kim Jong Il -- that is Kim Jong-un's father -- like crazy, trying to negotiate to disarm, to get the nuclear weapons out of North Korea.
BRENNAN: Jeff, you know, it is interesting to watch the pomp and circumstance, because you have arguably the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States, arriving on Air Force One and being put on par with this dictator who has never traveled this far since coming to power back in 2011.
The optics are really interesting.
And we have been watching the stagecraft and the theater so far. The president, arriving second, walked out of Air Force One, landed at the air base, and then walked out by himself.
When Kim Jong-un arrived on Air China flight, he was surrounded by an entourage, a big group. We are told that Kim Jong-un took a 747 to match the president's Air Force One. Also, flying with Air China shows solidarity with the Chinese before these negotiations.
That is a big deal for Chinese. It is a big deal for the North Koreans.
And then, on the streets, at least so far from Kim Jong-un, we have seen these scenes that we have seen before. And that is him in the armored vehicle and then his bodyguards running next to him down to the streets. It's quite a sight.
BRENNAN: Jeff, thank you, Jeff Glor there in Singapore.
We turn now to CBS News foreign correspondent Ben Tracy. He is also in Singapore this morning with a look at how this much anticipated summit came together -- Ben.
BEN TRACY, CBS NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Margaret, nearly 3,000 journalists have descended upon Singapore to cover this historic summit.
And with both President Trump and Kim Jong-un now on the ground here, security is noticeably tighter.
TRACY (voice-over): The areas surrounding the hotels where President Trump and Kim Jong-un are staying have been turned into special security zones. Special forces are being deployed, and the airspace above Singapore is restricted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have never seen anything like this. Yes, this is the most hype we have had of any international visitor.
TRACY: So far, it is a pair of impersonators that has stolen the show in Singapore. But people here are now ready for the real face-off between two of the world's most unpredictable leaders, even if they don't expect a major diplomatic breakthrough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Realistically, is North Korea going to give their nukes up? Not a chance. It will never happen.
TRACY: But those weapons and whether Kim Jong-un is actually willing to part with them are supposed to be the main focus of the summit, in addition to an official end to the Korean War.
President Trump says complete denuclearization is the only outcome that will lead to a lifting of strict sanctions that have crippled North Korea's already beleaguered economy.
What is still not known is what Kim Jong-un would want in return for shutting down his treasured nuclear program.
Historically, North Korea has demanded that the U.S. must remove its more than 28,000 troops from the Korean Peninsula and end its decades-long security arrangements with South Korea and Japan.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently visited the White House to shore up those alliances. There are concerns that President Trump might focus too much on North Korea's nuclear weapons that are capable of hitting the United States, and leave the regime with the short-range missiles and chemical weapons that can still devastate South Korea and Japan.
TRACY: Of course, there is a lot at stake for Kim Jong-un as well, who is attempting this transformation from international pariah to something of a statesman.
Sitting down with the president of the United States gives the Kim regime the legitimacy it has long sought on the world stage.
BRENNAN: Ben, thank you.
We turn now to President Obama's National Security Adviser and former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
Ambassador, it is good to have you here on FACE THE NATION.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Great to be with you.
BRENNAN: This is a historic summit. For you, what do you think the best possible outcome could be?
RICE: I think the best possible outcome is that we have more than a photo-op or even a cordial conversation, but that the two leaders agree to some very concrete steps that they can then pass on to their negotiators in the form of a framework, that the negotiators can then flush out into a substantive agreement.
It is going to take quite a while. This is very complicated set of issues. And success can't be declared on the basis of a happy meeting.
BRENNAN: President Obama liked to embrace diplomacy. Why did he choose not to try to negotiate with Kim Jong-un?
RICE: Well, in fact, there were efforts at discussions. We had them during the Clinton administration. We had them during the Bush administration. And we even had opportunities and efforts during the Obama administration.
The problem is that, at every turn, the North Koreans would make commitments and then break them. And we need to be mindful that that is again what might happen in this context.
BRENNAN: But this is a different diplomatic structure, right? It is flipped on its head. You are starting with the leaders.
RICE: Starting with the leaders, yes.
BRENNAN: So, do you give the president some credit for being willing to take this high-level risk?
RICE: Well, I think, you know, it is clear that the past set of efforts have not succeeded.
I am a believer in diplomacy. And I am open to new methods of trying to accomplish the consistent objective that we have of full denuclearization.
I think the question is, are we walking in prepared? Are we walking in with our allies behind us? Are we in a position to understand that one meeting -- it's not going to be one-and-done. This is the start of a serious negotiating process.
BRENNAN: The former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper just wrote a book. And he was very public about what he said was his personal disagreement with President Obama's decision not to engage with Kim Jong-un and North Korea.
Other Obama administration officials have told me they wish and they regret not taking stronger action. You were the national security adviser. Do you take ownership of that? Do you regret not pushing harder?
RICE: Well, I think you are mixing two things. There is the question of sitting down at the negotiating table, and there is the question of pushing harder.
BRENNAN: Right, and Clapper...
BRENNAN: ... engagement, period, he thought President Obama should have done more of.
RICE: So, my view is that we did and we should have increased the pressure on North Korea incrementally.
I myself negotiated for tough Security Council resolutions, imposing increasingly harsh penalties on North Korea. My successor, Ambassador Power, did the same. Ambassador Haley has continued that effort. And we have layered on increasing pressure. I think that is appropriate.
We, in fact, during the Clinton -- during the Obama administration, had the opportunity -- you recall the Leap Day negotiations, where we tried to sit down and tried to work on an arrangement with the North Koreans, and they blew it up on the spot.
So, I don't think it is accurate to say there weren't diplomatic efforts. And, in fact, Jim Clapper himself went to North Korea.
The fact of the matter is that I believe the North Koreans were not prepared to be serious under Kim Jong-un with respect to sitting at the table until they perfected their nuclear program and their missiles.
So, what has changed...
BRENNAN: So, you don't think a diplomatic breakthrough would have been possible in the Obama administration because of that goal?
RICE: I think that the critical thing, from the North Korean point of view, was to able to come to the negotiating table, when they did come, with having demonstrated to the world that their nuclear capacity and their missile capacity has been perfected.
And that's in fact what Kim Jong-un said.
BRENNAN: You have been outspoken about Russia of late.
And I want to ask you about something very specific here that President Trump just said. He is calling for Russia to be readmitted into the G8, which it, of course, was pushed out of during the Obama administration because of their intervention in Ukraine, seizing Crimea.
RICE: Their invasion of Ukraine.
BRENNAN: And annexation...
RICE: And their annexation of Crimea.
And so he said yesterday again that he would like to see Russia be a part of the G8. And he basically recognized Russia's claim to Crimea as legitimate.
Here is what he said: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Crimea was let go during the Obama administration. And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea.
I may have had a much different attitude. But -- so you would really have to ask that question to President Obama, you know, why did he do that? Why did he do that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Would you like to respond?
RICE: It is a disgraceful statement.
The fact of the matter is, Russia had invaded Georgia. It then invaded the Ukraine. We rallied the entire European Union and many other partners to impose tough sanctions on Russia for its annexation.
We supported the Ukrainian government to build up its defensive military capacity. And, along with our G7 partners, we agreed that Russia should no longer be part of this community of the G8.
BRENNAN: He seems to be saying but Russia still -- it was a fait accompli.
RICE: Well, it's -- that is outrageous.
The United States has long upheld international law. This was the most brazen violation of another country's sovereignty that has occurred in recent years.
For the president of the United States to blame his predecessor, rather than to understand that Russia is our adversary, Russia has taken on behavior that is absolutely reprehensible, including being responsible for shooting a civilian aircraft out of the skies and killing hundreds of people, for the president of the United States to suggest that all is forgotten, that that doesn't matter, that we are fine with one country annexing another country's sovereign territory, and we should just welcome them with open arms back into a community of democracies, is outrageous.
BRENNAN: It is interesting that this Russia policy has made some unusual bedfellows.
In fact, Senator McCain tweeted yesterday, rebuking President Trump, saying: "To our allies, bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization, supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn't."
He is commenting on what he was upset with, with the president's rhetoric at the G7.
Are you surprised to find yourself in agreement with Senator McCain?
RICE: No, there are have been other occasions when I have agreed with Senator McCain and occasions when I have disagreed.
But he is absolutely right. The United States, our leadership in the world, our national security has long depended on having close and unbreakable bonds with our closest allies.
The G7 partners are our closest allies in the world. We share values. We share interests. We share security. And for the president of the United States to walk into that session and to essentially blow it up and disrespect our allies, while embracing Russia and giving benefits to China, countries that are not our allies, and in the case of Russia, indeed, our declared adversary, is very worrisome and very destructive.
And it leaves the United States isolated in the world and our allies wondering if they can count on us and we on them.
BRENNAN: Ambassador Rice, thank you for joining us.
RICE: Thank you.
BRENNAN: And we will be back in one minute with the president's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who is just back from the G7 meeting in Canada.
Despite all the smiles you see in that photo, was it as contentious it as the president's Twitter feed suggested? We will ask him.
BRENNAN: We are back with the chairman of the White House National Economic Council and the president's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.
I know you got in late last night from Canada, from these G7 talks.
The president called the Canadian prime minister weak and dishonest.
What exactly did he say to get this kind of response from the president?
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, to be honest with you, Prime Minister Trudeau -- by the way, I respect. I have worked with him in good faith, getting through a good communique on Friday and Saturday.
So, he holds a press conference. The president is barely out of there on the plane to North Korea, and he starts insulting us. You know, he starts talking about U.S. is insulting Canada. We are not -- we, Canada, are not going to be pushed around.
BRENNAN: He was talking about the U.S. tariffs.
KUDLOW: That's correct. Well, and in general, OK, it was an attack on the president. We are going to have retaliatory tariffs.
Now, these are things that the prime minister said before, basically, but he didn't say them before after a successful G7 communique, where President Trump and the others all worked in good faith to put a statement together, which, by the way, almost nobody expected to happen.
In fact, reporters were asking me before the trip whether the president was going to show up at all. He did. He negotiated. He directed his team, myself and others. We worked it out. We used good language that was acceptable.
BRENNAN: And then the president reneged on that G7 statement.
KUDLOW: No. No, I'm sorry.
And then Trudeau decided to attack the president. That is the key point. And, yes, you know, if you attack this president, he is going to fight back.
But here is the key point, Margaret. The president is going to negotiate with Kim of North Korea in Singapore. It is a historic negotiation. And there is no way this president is not going to stand strong, number one.
He is not going to allow other people to suddenly take potshots at him hours before that summit. And, number two, Trudeau should have known better.
BRENNAN: But why pick a public fight with a friend to impress an enemy?
KUDLOW: Well, hey, who picked the fight?
BRENNAN: But the -- what...
KUDLOW: I am arguing Trudeau picked the fight. Trudeau could have...
BRENNAN: Did you believe he was going to step away from those retaliatory tariffs? Had he promised you privately that that is what was going to happen?
BRENNAN: You are saying he broke his word, that he publicly came out and said things.
KUDLOW: Let me say, in the bilateral between President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau, which was -- I was in that room. It was a very successful, calm, friendly, respectful bilateral.
And we made great progress in moving towards a deal between the U.S. and Canada and perhaps NAFTA as a whole. It was very successful. That is another reason why I think Trudeau betrayed Trump and the G7.
I mean, look, they put together this good consensus. The Western allies were together. It was peaceful. They were good citizens. It was all in good faith.
What is not in good faith is, when you leave there and you fly out of there, and the host Canadian prime minister starts taking whacks at you, potshots at you on the eve of this Korean summit.
President Trump had no alternative, in my opinion, but to express his opinion that he is going to pull out. This -- look...
BRENNAN: To pull out? To pull out of?
KUDLOW: To pull out of the communique. That's what he said.
BRENNAN: But when it comes to NAFTA, which you said there was progress on, you have said publicly the president is not going to pull out of NAFTA.
KUDLOW: That is correct.
BRENNAN: But then the president said he may broker a side bilateral agreement with Canada and Mexico.
KUDLOW: That is correct. That is correct.
BRENNAN: How do you do both things at once? How is that not withdrawing from NAFTA?
KUDLOW: Oh, no, no, no, it's -- we won't withdraw from NAFTA. We are heavy into negotiations.
And the negotiation will either be bilateral or they will be trilateral, OK, one way or the other.
BRENNAN: So, despite this blow-up, you still think you can get a trade deal with Canada?
KUDLOW: I don't -- well, I don't know that, Margaret.
I want to say I don't know, because I think, again, Trudeau's very unfortunate statements, his betrayal -- he betrayed Trump. Can I ask, he betrayed the whole G7.
BRENNAN: But how?
KUDLOW: ... by attacking right after that.
BRENNAN: He said the same thing he said before, which was that the tariffs were insulting and that they would follow through with the July 1 tariffs.
KUDLOW: You want to say that right after a successful G7 meeting? Is that necessary, seriously?
Where is the good faith? Where is the optimism? There's -- people came together at that meeting. I am in there working with the heads of state. It was my great pleasure representing the president. The president was there.
We are putting words on paper. We are making adjustments. We are making compromises. And we are coming out with a document that we can accept. Most people thought that wouldn't happen. So that happens.
And instead of being a good push to the Singapore North Korean talks, Trudeau decides to come out and play to domestic political consumption and take potshots at the American president, who is representing the rest of the world. That's just not fair play.
BRENNAN: Can you explain why the president called for Russia to rejoin the G8? Was that just meant as a provocation?
I mean, they were in the G8. It was the G8 for many years.
KUDLOW: And what President...
BRENNAN: And then they were kicked out after invading part of Ukraine and annexing Crimea.
KUDLOW: So be it. Perhaps. As -- many foreign policies scholars agree with Trump on this. Not all, but many. We have to do business with Russia.
BRENNAN: Sure, but why at the G7?
KUDLOW: We used to. We used to.
Because it was that meeting that Russia used to be invited to. It was the G8 for many years.
BRENNAN: But the head of U.S. intelligence says that Vladimir Putin is trying to undermine the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms.
So why invite him back to the very type of alliance he is trying to blow up?
KUDLOW: I think Dan Coats was correct in his accusations, but that doesn't mean you can't do business with them, OK?
I think they are part of the world story. They are a power. They are a military power. They are not an economic power.
And can you just switch back, Margaret? Look, Trump spent two days. President Trump spent two days -- and this is something dear to my heart -- talking to these ministers, these heads of state about free trade..
KUDLOW: ... ending tariffs, ending tariff barriers, ending subsidies, stopping trade wars, moving towards fairness and unfair trading practices.
We are the fastest growing economy in the G7, and he has got a vision here.
KUDLOW: He is probably going to be the best trade reformer in several decades the world has seen. Why wouldn't he want to do...
BRENNAN: Larry, we're going to have to...
KUDLOW: Why would anyone want to undercut him?
BRENNAN: I want to have you come back and explain how all of this is going to add up to the kind of economic growth you are projecting.
But we have got to leave it here for this moment.
And we will be right back with more FACE THE NATION.
BRENNAN: There will be a lot more coverage of the Singapore summit on our streaming news service, CBSN, as well as all of our CBS News broadcasts.
BRENNAN: We will be right back. Stay with us.
BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We're joined now by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is the top Democrat on the panel that focuses on North Korea policy.
Senator, welcome to the program.
SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you.
BRENNAN: Because of the kind of oversight role you have, you keep a close eye on the State Department and the secretary of state, who is with the president, and presumably in the room.
What kind of promises have been made by this administration in terms of what they will share with Congress?
MARKEY: We have not been included in any of the preparation for this negotiation. The Democrats have been kept in the dark in terms of what his approach is going to be. I think it would have been far better for him to have included us since it is a Democrat and Republican objective to have a negotiation, a direct negotiation between Kim and Trump. But, thus far, the president has not included Democrats.
BRENNAN: What would it take to win your vote to lift sanctions, so do speak? I mean if they get any kind of agreement and it goes to the Congress, what would change your mind?
MARKEY: Well, the -- the president, first of all, is going to have to extract from Kim a definition of what denuclearization means. Right now, there's a vast gulf between what the United States and North Korea believe that word means. And in our -- on our side, we believe it means a removal of all nuclear weapons and delivery capacity on the Korean peninsula. Kim does not actually agree with that.
We would also want an inventory of all of their nuclear weapons sites, all of their ballistic missile sites, all of their development, manufacturing, research facilities to be made public and for there to be a verifiable way of ensuring that there is a dismantlement of those facilities, which is taking place again on a verifiable basis.
BRENNAN: Would you want any agreement to come up for a vote in the Congress as a treaty, something President Obama was criticized for not doing with the Iran nuclear deal?
MARKEY: I would want to see that come forward as a treaty, because part of this negotiation will also be an ending of the Korean War, which is something that goes all the way back to 1953. So I think it would be wise for the president to come to Congress to ensure that there is a ratification of any agreement which does take place between the North Koreans and the United States, while not excluding -- and I just want to make this clear -- the South Koreans and Japan. We cannot sell out our allies as part of this negotiation.
BRENNAN: Would you have an expectation that the president should seek consent, an authorization for military force, if these talks fail and he has -- and he looks at those other military options? We've heard from Senator Lindsey Graham today, a Republican, that he has an AMF drafted.
MARKEY: There is no military solution to the problem that exists on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has nuclear weapons. The United States has nuclear weapons. This isn't like the United States and Iran. Iran did not have nuclear weapons. Neither did Iraq.
This would become very catastrophic very quickly. It -- we have 28,000 troops right on the demilitarized line. We have 250,000 other Americans within a 10-mile radius of that border. The casualties would mount up so quickly that it would exceed the first Korean War in terms of deaths to Americans within the first few days and then it would just escalate from there. So this is --
BRENNAN: You would vote no if the president asked for your consent?
MARKEY: This -- what the president should do, rather than looking for an authorization for the use of nuclear force -- of military force, the president should come back to Congress and ask for even greater authority to put more economic sanctions on the North Koreans, to really squeeze their economy.
The president is saying that he has already used maximum pressure on the North Koreans. That is not so. There has been no cutoff of all of the crude oil that flows from China into North Korea. If we wanted to, we could put together an international coalition that demanded China to cut off that oil into North Korea to further intensify the pressure to come to the table to negotiate. A war is not, in fact, something that can be brought, which is why I've introduced a bill that prohibits the president from a first use of nuclear weapons against North Korea if we have not been attacked by nuclear weapons from North Korea. That would be absolutely catastrophic. We need that debate in our country, a debate as to what the authority is of it --
MARKEY: This president or any president to use nuclear weapons first.
BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you about this tariff and trade war that we're now talking about. Senator Corker says he wants to put into place some kind of restriction to keep the president from being able to ratchet up the tariffs. Would you support such a measure?
MARKEY: Yes, under article one of the U.S. Constitution, and that's a prerogative of the Congress. Right now the president is actually driving our allies away from us as we need them even more, while welcoming in the Russians. So I think the conversation, which Senator Corker has raised, is something that on a bipartisan basis is welcome. I think it's time for the United States Congress to begin, once again, to reassert its authority under Article One to play a key role in the imposition of any tariffs.
BRENNAN: That sounds like a yes vote from you, senator.
BERMAN: We'll be right back with our political panel. So stay with us on FACE THE NATION.
BRENNAN: It's time now for some political analysis.
Molly Ball joins us. She is a national political correspondent at "Time" magazine. Getting tongue-tied this morning. Salena Zito is with us. She's from "The Washington Examiner," also a columnist at "The New York Post." Evan Osnos writes for "The New Yorker." He has reported extensively on North Korea and has a piece out this week on the historical context of the current diplomatic effort. And Seung Min Kim covers the White House from Capitol Hill for "The Washington Post."
Welcome to all of you.
Evan, you have spent some time in North Korea reporting on what you've seen on the ground. This is diplomacy on steroids, on a fast-track. Do you have any sense of what is happening inside North Korea when it comes to their own expectations?
EVAN OSNOS, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, I think that, you know, the big question for all of us is, how did we go from talking about nuclear war a few months ago, to being sitting at the negotiating table today? And the answer is that actually beneath the pyrotechnics there has been this big dynamic going on which is that North Korea has been trying, not only over the last several months, but over the last few years to try to figure out a way how to engage the outside world. They're sort of trying to do what China did in the late 1970's. And we have to, you know, they don't want to be compared to China. But, remember, China was a communist country, it still is, that said, we have to open up economic control, maintain political control. And part of sitting down with Donald Trump is to say, how do we hold on to our dictatorship in Pyongyang while also beginning to engage the outside world economically.
BRENNAN: Little by little without threatening their control, I think, is key there.
BRENNAN: Seung, when you look at these talks, I mean you heard Senator Markey on this program just say a few moments ago he doesn't feel like Congress is clued in being briefed and that key information is being shared. Are you hearing similar gripes?
SEUNG MIN KIM, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think -- I think the way that the diplomacy is being engaged is kind of leaving almost everybody in the dark right now, but I think what's going to be critical to see in the summit and in subsequent meetings going on, to see whether if the president does submit something to Congress for approval and, as we've talked about before, that was a major concern from Republicans during the Obama administration that he didn't get official congressional signoff for the Iran deal. So I think it will be interesting to see senators have said that the administration has already made those commitments to submit any sort of agreement to Capitol Hill, but, obviously, that would only begin a massive fight in Congress over whether to approve that nuclear deal.
BRENNAN: It was interesting to hear that Senator Lindsey Graham has an authorization to use military force ready to go, suggesting he thinks the president would have to ask permission essentially before taking military strikes.
KIM: And it was also interesting with Senator Markey just earlier refusing to even entertain the prospect of an AUMF because he says there's no military option on the Korean peninsula. A lot of members of Congress feel that way as well. And that's why they, both Democrats and Republicans, have been so eager to see this diplomat -- to see these diplomatic efforts succeed.
BRENNAN: Salena, you have your ear often to the ground when it comes to how the Trump supporters and Trump base receive some of this information. This is a high risk gamble for the president. What is the perception here? Like, does he walk away with a win just by walking into that room with Kim Jong-un?
SALENA ZITO, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Pretty much. I mean, look, that's what he does best is high risk gambles and he does things that are a little bit unorthodox and not as traditional as you would see other presidents.
I have found, not just with people that supported Trump, but people that either stayed at home or supported Clinton have been able to step back on this issue and understand, we're in the middle of something very historic. It's sort of -- if you're older, it's sort of like Nixon in China, or if you're a little less older, it's sort of like Reagan in -- in Geneva with Gorbachev.
So I think people understand there's a moment here that we might all be able to benefit from. And so I think they're enjoying -- or they're at least sitting back and watching this with maybe hope and skepticism.
BRENNAN: Molly, you, on a different topic, have a cover story in "Time." You write that -- about the Mueller investigation. Something that the president doesn't really want as much press about, but is certainly angered by and tweeting about himself. This is a major diversion from that, of course, right now. But you did see a development in the case with more indictments against the former Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort, this week. How significant?
MOLLY BALL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Mueller is playing hardball, as he sort of has been all along. But there has been a notion that he is ratcheting up the pressure on Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was out on bail pending a trial, who has, unlike several former Trump associate whose have pleaded guilty so far, Manafort has continued to fight the charges very hard. And he's now accused of tampering with potential witnesses. And Manafort -- and Mueller is seeking to throw him in jail pending his trial, and also bringing charges based on that alleged witness tampering.
So we see, you know, increasing pressure on Manafort, potentially trying to get Manafort to cooperate, to turn on President Trump and offer evidence having to do with the substance of the investigation.
Remember, the charges against Manafort have to do with things that he did long before he ever joined the Trump campaign. It's money laundering and other charges from his career as a lobbyist.
So that's not what the Mueller investigation is supposed to be about. His mandate is to investigate Russians meddling. And this is one of the criticisms from the president and other critics of the investigation is he has wandered quite far afield of that supposed mandate. So the idea is that Mueller may be putting pressure on Manafort and others in order to try to get at the potential collusion that he is investigating in 2016.
BRENNAN: Salena, while this may be far afield of the mandates, these are significant. And these -- this is actual legal momentum here.
BRENNAN: These are individuals being charged, companies being charged as well here. So can the president still get away with calling it a witch hunt?
ZITO: He probably will, whether it's true or not. He -- I mean that's -- that's sort of -- that's the -- the mantra that he has adopted, and I don't think he's going to -- I don't think he's going to stray from it. And to Molly's point, they're -- the president is unhappy with how far out this scope has come. And -- and -- and he believes that this -- to him, this is proof that this is not about him, and that -- and -- and that the charges against him are unfair. And -- and, you know, this is proof in the pudding. And -- and I think that that's -- that's where the president's head is right now on this issue.
BRENNAN: Seung, are we going to see anything from Congress on the immigration front before these congressional races in November, or is this just an internal fight with no progress?
KIM: Count me as a sceptic of any sort of immigration action on Capitol Hill.
BRENNAN: That's a (INAUDIBLE).
KIM: I think the big day to watch is Tuesday, because that's been kind of the imposed deadline for this discharge petition, which is a complicated procedural maneuver to trigger these immigration votes in the House. Tuesday is a tentative deadline that these House moderates have set on whether these quiet negotiations with conservatives would actually succeed or if they're just going to go ahead and force votes over the -- over the desires of their leadership.
But Republicans have constantly struggled on immigration issues for years and years. And there is a reason why when immigration legislation that involves any sort of pathway for citizenship, whether it's for dreamers or for a broader population, it's passed under Democratic control. It was a Democratic-led Senate in 2013 and a lame duck Democratic House in 2010 that passed the Dream Act.
So if there is a way to coalesce both the moderates, who want the -- these legal solution for the dreamers, and the conservatives, who do also want a legal solution as well but they've talked about the need for more security measures, if there's a way to coalesce 218 Republican votes on that, we'll see by Tuesday, but, again, count me as a sceptic.
BRENNAN: Evan, you heard Larry Kudlow on this program, the economic advisor to the president, saying that the blowup with the Canadian prime minister really had more to do with the North Korean leader and making him look weak, making the president look weak ahead of those talks.
BRENNAN: You don't normally hear those two countries in the same sentence. But is there something to what the White House is arguing here, that so much of the U.S. weight has to do with perception?
OSNOS: Well, look, the president decided that this was a grave insult that he couldn't abide from Canada. The reality is, our allies and our adversaries, things are being thrown upside down right now. The president walked into what should have been the friendliest club he will ever be in, and he managed to leave that in tatters.
And that is a problem that just doesn't pose a challenge for the president tomorrow. This is a long range issue that he has to confront, how do we keep Americans safe over the long-term? The way you do that traditionally is by keeping your allies close and working through problems in ways that make sense. This is not how we have done it in the past and I don't think it puts us in a particularly strong moment as we go into Singapore.
BRENNAN: Seung, do you think that -- I mean it's been interesting to see some Republicans speak out on the trade front with this dispute at the G-7, but they're sort of few and far between. There hasn't been outcry.
KIM: Definitely. And I think we saw a moment earlier this week when we did see Republicans starting to coalesce around legislation that would limit the president's power on tariffs. We had that legislation from Senator Bob Corker, who isn't always a Trump ally, but you do have senators such as Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, Jeff Flake behind that legislation as well with a bunch of Democrats.
But the president gathered about a dozen Senate Republicans at the White House on Wednesday, mostly friendly Senate Republicans, and he made the message clear that I don't like this bill. I think it infringes on my power to negotiate on trade issues and Republican leadership tell us that this bill, you can get a vote if you want, but if it doesn't have a presidential signature, it's all just kind of an exercise.
BRENNAN: Interesting to see how this develops. Thanks to all of you.
We'll be back in a moment.
BRENNAN: Welcome back.
And we turn now to Ken Starr, who you probably remember very well from the Bill Clinton era. He has served as a circuit court judge and the U.S. solicitor general, and many Americans came to know him during that investigation into Whitewater and other controversies, including Monica Lewinsky, during Bill Clinton's presidency.
And I think in many ways -- thank you for coming on today --
KENNETH STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Thank you, Margaret.
BRENNAN: You are so uniquely positioned to give us some perspective on what is playing out now in terms of this special counsel's probe of President Trump, his campaign and these Russian interference allegations.
When you see the developments like we saw this week with the campaign chairman being indicted on another charge here of obstruction of justice, I mean how should Americans understand what they are seeing? Is this the political witch hunt the president alleges? Is this a serious case?
STARR: It's definitely a serious case. We know that from the indictments and guilty pleas that have already been obtained.
So what we're seeing is the special council, Bob Mueller, whom I know and whom I greatly respect, just following the evidence as he sees it. Now, these are charges, presumption of innocence in the United States, and that's a very precious right that we have. These charges are going to have to be proven.
But what this shows is that Bob Mueller is very seriously looking at a variety of issues and questions.
BRENNAN: Well, we also know that Bob Mueller's team is talking with the president's own attorneys about getting the chance to interview him. You faced some of these questions when you were dealing with then President Clinton, I think you went to him something like six times. You ended up having to subpoena before ultimately he agreed to sit down.
If you were consulting with President Trump's lawyers, would you advise him to sit with council, and sit with Bob Mueller?
STARR: I think they'd better be cautious. And I think they are being cautious. First, we have to remember, this is the president of the United States and this is an authorized law enforcement investigation. So that makes the situation unique. Looking at it simply from the perspective of a defense lawyer, you never want your client, unless you have an extraordinarily high level of confidence, to be exposed in this way.
So there are only two perspectives here, the president, you're talking to the president of the United States, but he also is the -- at least the subject of a serious investigation. So I think caution is the rule of thumb here.
BRENNAN: But an obligation -- is there an obligation on his part to sit and answer these questions?
STARR: I think there may be a moral obligation, frankly, because he is the president of the United States. And unless he takes very decisive action, such as directing the firing of the special council. And there's been no suggestion to my knowledge that that's in the offing at all.
BRENNAN: But you believe he could?
STARR: Oh, yes, the president clearly has the authority to direct the firing, if not a direct firing himself.
BRENNAN: What would that signify to you?
STARR: It would be, I think, but it's a political question, I don't think it's obstruction of justice. And I disagree with those who seem to find obstruction of justice in almost anything that the president has done. But it certainly would be, I think, a political firefight of -- of the highest order because you have people in both parties saying, this is an authorized investigation, let it run its course.
BRENNAN: You've been supportive of the president's decision to hire Rudy Giuliani, who I know you -- you have known for some time. But in terms of the work he's doing to defend the president, what do you make of his strategy?
STARR: Well, I'm not sure. I just have great confidence in Rudy. But Rudy has access to facts that I don't have. Would I have said it exactly the same way -- in the same way that Rudy has done it, perhaps not. But he's -- don't underestimate Rudy Giuliani. He is an extraordinary lawyer.
BRENNAN: You -- when you were dealing with President Clinton and that very long investigation of him, he faced -- he faced charges of obstruction, perjury. There were questions of that. And his strategy seemed to be to try to convince the country that this was a political witch hunt.
BRENNAN: That sounds a lot like what we're seeing now. Do you see parallels?
STARR: Oh, there's no question. Any time a president is under attack, the president, or at least the president's partisans and supporters, will likely go on the attack. Hey, he's my guy and you're attacking my guy and --
BRENNAN: And that's an effective strategy?
STARR: It can be. Happily -- and the -- well, I shouldn't say happily, but I think there was accountability. Whatever people think of the investigation during the Monica Lewinsky phase, the president had to eventually concede that he had not conducted himself as he should in a very serious matter when he was under oath. That's the key. It was all about the rule of law.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Monica Lewinsky, who went public this past year saying she met you once in a restaurant.
STARR: For the first time.
BRENNAN: For the first time.
BRENNAN: And she said she kind of expected an apology for how things went for her. But you didn't offer one. Do you think one's needed?
STARR: No. With all due respect, Monica -- and I wish her all the best. Her life has been disrupted. But the evidence is the evidence and she was part, as we saw it, of an effort to obstruct justice and to commit perjury.
BRENNAN: Ken Starr, thank you very much for coming on FACE THE NATION.
STARR: My pleasure. Thank you.
BRENNAN: We will be right back.
BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I am Margaret Brennan.