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AT THIS HOUR

Trump To CNN On North Korea: They "Gotta Behave"; Pence Visits DMZ As Tensions Spike With North Korea; National Security Adviser: North Korea Problem "Coming To A Head"; Manhunt Underway For Facebook Murder Suspect; Trump To Tax Return Protesters: "Election Is Over" Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:09]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Right now, all eyes are on North Korea after a stark warning coming from the vice president, Mike Pence, standing just feet from the rogue nation on the demilitarized zone saying the era of strategic patience is over.

Warning North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un not to test President Trump's resolve. The tension there only rising after a failed missile test by North Korea over the weekend, of course.

And at the same time, President Trump is wrapping one of the least tense of presidential duties, presiding over the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. He spoke just a short time ago from the White House. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will be stronger and bigger and better as a nation than ever before. We're right on track. You see what's happening, and we are right on track. So, thank you, everybody, for being here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Just a short time ago, CNN's Jim Acosta's live from the White House. And Jim, you caught up with the president right after he spoke there from the White House. What'd he say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. He was making his way through the crowd here on the south lawn of the White House for this annual tradition, the Easter Egg Roll here at the White House. And I asked him what his message was for North Korea. It was very brief, but the message was unmistakable.

He said, quote, "Gotta behave," end quote, and then kept walking through the crowd here on the south lawn of the White House. So, pretty tough message to the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. And then shortly after that, as he was making his way back inside the residence here, I asked if he was concerned about whether or not the situation with North Korea can be resolved peacefully, and he said, hopefully, it can.

So, just a couple of brief comments from the president here, but of course, any time he makes any comment, Kate, there usually is news. And so, when the president of the United States is asked what the message is for North Korea, and he says, quote, "Gotta behave," that is not practicing sort of a quiet diplomacy that you're hearing from some foreign policy experts here in Washington who have been advising this White house to sort of, you know, curtail some of these very muscular comments.

But as you know, Kate, the vice president is over there in the region right now and has been saying, as other administration officials have, that this era of strategic patience with North Korea's going to end. And so, to hear the president here today on the south lawn of the White House say "Gotta behave," I think that's a pretty unmistakable message -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And Jim, I think it's also important -- I mean, yes, brief comments, but when it comes to the tension with North Korea, brief comments mean everything.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: When anything can kind of tip the balance, and hopefully, it can. When he said that to you, I think that stands as a pretty stark message.

ACOSTA: I think it does as well, and I think it indicates that even though you're hearing a lot of people here in Washington sort of wringing their hands and saying, you know, maybe we shouldn't be giving Kim Jong-Un so much attention, the president when he's asked the question is saying something along the lines of "Gotta behave," you know, that's a pretty stark warning to Kim Jong-Un that he probably should behave himself.

Now, I should say, the president was also here with the first lady and just about all of the Trump children here. I asked him at one point how it feels to have the whole family with him. He said it feels great.

Obviously, you know, there are questions as to when the first lady and Barron will be moving down here permanently. So, perhaps it's a sign of things to come that we saw them here on the south lawn of the White House for this Easter egg roll. Annual tradition. A little rain today, Kate, but still a lot of people having a good time.

BOLDUAN: Yes, kind of a stark relief, the juggling act that every president has to do on taking questions on North Korea as the tensions rise there, and presiding over the least tense, or should be, of presidential duties, the Easter egg roll. Great to see you, Jim. Great get. Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right, good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. So one expert describes what is happening between the U.S. and North Korea right now as the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion. And in that tense climate, this extraordinary moment.

Look at this, Vice President Mike Pence essentially staring down North Korean military as he visits a demilitarized zone during his trip to South Korea. Pence talked exclusively with CNN's Dana Bash about how the old ways dealing with the North Korean dictator are over -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, traveling with the vice president to the Korean DMZ, it is probably not a surprise that there, when he is about 100 feet from North Korean soldiers, that he in talking about the crisis here, focuses more on the diplomatic solution, and that is what he did when I talked to him exclusively at the DMZ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: You said that the era of strategic patience is over. What does that mean in real terms?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was the policy of the United States of America during prior administrations to practice what they called strategic patience and that was to hope to marshal international support to bring an end to the nuclear ambitions and the ballistic missile program of North Korea.

[11:05:03]That clearly has failed, and the advent of nuclear weapons testing, the development of a nuclear program, even this weekend, to see another attempt at a ballistic missile launch, all confirms the fact that strategic patience has failed.

BASH: But what does it mean to end it in practical terms? It's either use military force or find a diplomatic solution that has eluded all of your predecessors.

PENCE: Well, I think as the president has made clear that we're abandon the failed policy of strategic patience, but we're going to redouble our efforts to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably. And I know the president was heartened by his discussions with President Xi. We've seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea, but there needs to be more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Just a couple of hours later here in Seoul, the vice president was standing next to the acting president of South Korea, and he struck a much more robust, much more forward-leaning tone with regard to a military solution, saying explicitly that this young administration has already conducted military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, and that is something that the North Koreans should pay attention to -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Dana Bash, thank you so much. Dana, great to see you.

I want to bring in right now Sue Mi Terry, a former North Korea analyst for the CIA. She's also worked on the National Security Council and for the director of National Intelligence, specifically, of course on many of these exact issues we're talking about right now. Great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER NORTH KOREA ANALYST, CIA: Thank you for having me on.

BOLDUAN: So, you hear the vice president in a speech in speaking to Dana saying very specifically, the era of strategic patience is over. It's something we've heard from the secretary of state. He's laid that out before, but hearing it from the vice president standing there in the demilitarized zone, what is the signal that he's trying to send?

TERRY: He's trying to send now that we have all the options are on the table, including military force. I think North Korea never truly believed the U.S. was going to -- is ever going to use a military option, but now I think we are threatening use of force.

BOLDUAN: So, when you hear also then, as Jim Acosta spoke with the president just moments ago, and the president says that his message to North Korea is "Gotta behave," I mean, that might just -- maybe any president would say that, but what would Kim Jong-un receive in that?

TERRY: "Gotta behave" means please do not conduct another nuclear test, a sixth test, or an intercontinental ballistic missile test. That's a critical threshold. If he conducts an ICBM test that could reach mainland United States that would be considered truly alarming. Not a short-range or an intermediate-range.

BOLDUAN: What then does the failed missile test over the weekend actually mean? Do you think it increases or decreases the chances that Kim Jong-un will more quickly move toward another nuclear test?

TERRY: Kim Jong-un will quickly move to another test, but I'm not sure if he's going to conduct another nuclear test or ICBM test --

BOLDUAN: And the test over the weekend you think speeds up that timeline to test anything?

TERRY: Yes, yes. But then he has to be careful that this time it will be successful because he lost face after that huge parade --

BOLDUAN: Right.

TERRY: -- where he showed all kinds of new missiles. Now he lost face a little bit by having a failed test, you know. So, he has to make sure to take a little bit of time to conduct a successful test.

BOLDUAN: This was, obviously, and should have been and is a huge part of the conversation over the weekend. The president's national security adviser was asked about it yesterday, and this is what he had to say, General McMaster had to say, about the North Korea threat. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And I think it's really the consensus with the president, our key allies in the region, Japan and South Korea in particular, but also the Chinese leadership, that this problem's coming to a head. And so, it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I heard a couple things in there I wanted to ask you. Do you think this problem is coming to a head? What points you in that direction?

TERRY: It's pointing me to this direction because the rhetoric from Washington has seriously increased, and now Trump has shown that his decision-making's unpredictable with his action in Syria and Afghanistan. And North Korea was headed to a direction where North Korea was going to continually test nuclear weapons and an ICBM. So we are headed in that direction.

I think what the administration is trying to do is put maximum pressure on China and North Korea by threatening use of force. Now, I'm not sure if this is just sort of a tactic by the administration or if Mr. Trump is serious.

I would like to think that McMaster and Mattis, Secretary of Defense Mattis, these guys understand that North Korea is not Syria or Afghanistan. North Korea is already nuclear arms state.

[11:10:10]BOLDUAN: Stand by with me, Sue, because as we're talking, Jim Acosta caught up with President Trump at the Easter egg roll and asked about North Korea, and we've finally had that tape fed in. Let's listen here to Jim Acosta and the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Mr. President, how does it feel to have the whole Trump family with you today, sir?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Great, great.

ACOSTA: Any message for North Korea, sir, Kim Jong-un?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Gotta behave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make America great!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Taking a moment to try to maybe calibrate what he wants to say in that message there a little bit.

TERRY: Yes, yes. BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sue. Thanks so much for coming in.

TERRY: Thanks for having me on.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

All right, coming up for us, it's no secret the president likes to talk about his election win, but is he moving on? You'll want to check his response for protesters over the weekend.

Plus, breaking news, a nationwide manhunt under way for the man who police say posted a murder on Facebook. He's vowing to kill more. And moments ago, police sent a message to him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news, the manhunt expanding now for the so-called Facebook murderer. A suspect identified as Steve Stephens police say fatally shot a 74-year-old man in Cleveland on Sunday. To make matters worse, police say Stephens posted the gruesome video on Facebook.

[11:15:10]Just this morning, police say they still don't know where Stephens is and are now asking for the public's help. Here's the Cleveland police chief a short time ago. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF CALVIN WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND POLICE: We know he's out there someplace. We talked to him via cell phone, yes. Obviously, he's got deep, deep issues, and whether he was calm or not, he committed a heinous crime in the city, and we want to get him off the streets as soon as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was this morning. Let's go to CNN's Sara Ganim, following all of this from Cleveland. Sara, you heard the police chief right there say that they were in touch with Stephens at one point early on in this investigation. Did they say what they learned or what was discussed?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You did hear him say moments ago that they were in contact with him, but that was hours ago, the early hours of the manhunt, and they have since lost contact and they are now urging friends and family who may be in touch with him to call the police.

Meanwhile, this has turned into a multistate manhunt, Kate. Earlier today, police in Erie, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles east of here, confirming that they are investigating a ping that was detected from the suspect's cell phone.

Meanwhile, here, the investigation centers around what happened to that 74-year-old victim, Robert Godwin Sr. He was walking home on the sidewalk from celebrating Easter with his family when the suspect drove up alongside of him, got out of the car, and shot him in the head, then got back in the car and posted to Facebook.

Of course, a lot of people across the country saw that absolutely gut- wrenching video and began to call Cleveland Police. Now people in Michigan, neighboring states, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York being asked to be on the lookout for this man but not to approach him.

That he is armed and dangerous, 6'1", about 244 pounds, driving, possibly driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary tags. Again, they're asking anyone who sees that vehicle, even thinks they saw that vehicle, to call the police -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Sara, thank you so much for the update, and we'll continue to show images of what this man looks like in order to try to help the public, because it sure sounds like police need some help themselves.

Let's discuss this and more right now with Cleveland Police Detective Steven Loomis. He is president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association. Detective, thanks so much for coming in.

So, Detective, as Sara was laying out, the police chief says they were able to make contact with him early on, on his cell phone, but they still don't know where he is. What should that tell people?

STEPHEN LOOMIS, PRESIDENT, CLEVELAND POLICE PATROLMEN'S ASSOCIATION: Well, you know, he could be here in Cleveland holed up somewhere. He could be anywhere in the country. He got his ten minutes of fame unfortunately. Our hearts and prayers go out to Mr. Godwin's family.

This is an absolute tragedy, but this is a tragedy that occurs in these cities every single day. This one, unfortunately, was broadcast on Facebook. And you know, his world's going to get very, very short, very, very small, very, very quickly, with federal, state and local agencies across this country looking for him, so.

BOLDUAN: I actually wanted to ask you about those exact words. We heard one of the officials at this press conference with the U.S. Marshals Service basically saying the exact same thing that this individual's world is going to get very, very small.

LOOMIS: Yes.

BOLDUAN: What does that mean, Detective?

LOOMIS: Well, when you have the resources of the federal government, federal law enforcement agencies, state police across this country, local police, you have so many people out looking, and the law-abiding citizens, I might add.

I mean, we've gotten thousands of tips from people calling our 911 system, and we check up on every single one of them to locate this individual, and that's what that means. Pete Elliott is a great U.S. Marshal out here, and we're lucky to have him helping us out with this.

BOLDUAN: Detective, the fact that he has not been located, with all of the resources that you're talking about looking for him, does that tell you that someone has to be helping him?

LOOMIS: Well, you know, that's like reading tea leaves, you know? He could have committed suicide and is in a garage somewhere and somebody hasn't found him. We really don't know. I'll tell you this, if somebody is aiding and abetting him, they're going to be held responsible, and they're going to be held responsible in a very major way.

So, the best thing for anybody that has contact with this suspect to do is to call 911, call the FBI, call the Marshals Service and get that information to the authorities. And if he doesn't want to give himself up, we'll go find him, and we are going to find him, rest assured.

[11:20:07]BOLDUAN: And Detective, one of the horrible things about this additionally is that there is this one confirmed death that was what he posted, but also in his postings, Stephens said that he had killed dozens of people. He actually offered a couple different numbers and who he said he had killed. Are police taking that seriously, or do they think that that's made up?

LOOMIS: Well, we absolutely are taking it seriously, and we've followed up on everything that he said in his original post. We've gone through vacant houses here in the city of Cleveland. You know, we've looked in every possible place that we could look, and we, fortunately, we haven't found any evidence to confirm those multiple deaths. It's just Mr. Godwin at this point.

BOLDUAN: Yes, yes. I guess if you have to find anything that's a silver lining, I guess maybe that that has not panned out yet is that.

LOOMIS: Yes. I can tell you this, there's not a law enforcement officer or a law-abiding citizen in this country that does not want to find this individual and bring him to justice. And we're going to do that and we're going to do that with the help of the citizens, so.

BOLDUAN: We'll continue to show his picture to get that word out and try to spread the word. Detective, thanks so much for your time.

LOOMIS: Thank you very much, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, he is young, he's got a lot of cash, especially for a special election, and celebrities coming out to help him for a congressional special election in Georgia. Now President Trump is taking him on. Why? What's on the line? And why you may want to pay attention to this?

Plus this -- did then Candidate Trump incite violence at his rallies? He's now being sued for that by three protesters who say they were assaulted. The Trump supporter being kind of charged in this says, yes! Trump inspired me! He now has a lawsuit in and of itself. A lot of lawsuits being thrown around. What is the case that President Trump is up against now? We'll be right back.

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[11:26:35]

BOLDUAN: President Trump is calling for an investigation into tax day protests after thousands took to the streets in some 150 cities nationwide, renewing the call for the president to release his tax returns.

The president not staying silent on this one, firing back on Twitter. Here's a couple of them. "I did what was an almost impossible thing to do for a Republican, easily won the Electoral College! Now tax returns are brought up again?" he wonders aloud.

He followed up with a demand for someone to look into who paid the small, organized rallies yesterday. "The election is over!" says Mr. President.

Here with me to discuss, Carl Higbie, former Navy SEAL, Trump supporter, Keith Boykins, a CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House aide, and David Drucker, CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent with "The Washington Examiner."

So, David, these tweets mirror what President Trump always says -- I won the election without releasing my taxes, so no one cares. But is this about the election?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: People were very concerned because we've had a foreign policy crisis or two, and the president has been very quiet on Twitter.

BOLDUAN: That's true.

DRUCKER: So, I think he's reassuring us all that he hasn't gone anywhere. The president politically finds this very useful. It keeps his supporters energized and it worked for him during the campaign, so he assumes it will work for him going forward.

I don't know that that's the case, but this is nothing outside of the ordinary for him. I would say, though that I feel like he lost an opportunity while he's dealing with North Korea and Syria and jaw- boning Russia, which is actually a very welcome development politically for him, he could have compared American democracy to these regimes that we're dealing with --

BOLDUAN: I see. I see.

DRUCKER: This sort of thing is not allowed, and said, hey, look --

BOLDUAN: Democracy in action.

DRUCKER: -- here in America, you get to go out and protest the president of the United States, and I think it's a great thing. I think those kinds of things over time would help him broaden his political support. I don't think he's necessarily interested in that, but I think it would be fruitful for him if he did so. BOLDUAN: That's a very interesting take, David. So, Carl, yes, he is president, yes, he did win the election. There is no fact-checking there. The president's tax returns, they're always audited, so he can't hide behind this one anymore. Why not?

CARL HIGBIE, CHAIRMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION: Well, the thing, is here's the thing about the tax return. Now that Trump has bumped up the headlines that I think it was 50 percent approval rating, now it's been oh, we need something else, so they'll back fall on the tax return thing. Nobody cares.

BOLDUAN: No, there was a reason!

HIGBIE: It is tax day --

BOLDUAN: As a point of order, it was tax day.

HIGBIE: Tax day.

BOLDUAN: This is when presidents release their tax returns. I mean, tax day is technically tomorrow.

HIGBIE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But there was an anniversary, if you will, why the people were out doing it. It wasn't necessarily a fallback.

HIGBIE: Well, I mean, look at what Maddow did. She had that huge blunder where she was like, I have his tax returns right here. Turns out he paid more percentagewise than Bernie Sanders.

BOLDUAN: Then why wouldn't he release them?

HIGBIE: Because he doesn't want to and he doesn't have to, period. And he's not going to.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is no law that compels President Trump to release his taxes, but President Trump said he would release his tax returns. He repeatedly said that before he ran for office.

BOLDUAN: That's true.

BOYKIN: He's lied his butt off by not releasing his tax returns. Not only are Democrats concerned about this, Republicans during the primary were concerned about this.

HIGBIE: What's your concern?

BOYKIN: People like Nikki Haley were telling him --

BOLDUAN: The concern is always you're going to find shady financial ties with Russia or that he's not given to charity. I don't need to go through. There were lots of concerns that he hasn't given to charity.

BOYKIN: Let me just say this --

CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: Every president since the Richard Nixon era has released their tax returns. This guy came into office saying he's going to be transparent. He's the least transparent president we've had since the Nixon administration. There's no doubt about it. He hasn't sold his --