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Trump Warns North Korea of "Severe Response"; Trump Criticizes Obama, Media, U.S. Intel on Foreign Soil; Trump Meeting Frequent Critic Merkel Soon, Interview with Rep. Adriano Espaillat. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:30:45] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says he is considering, quote, "pretty severe things" for North Korea after it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this week. The missile is causing more concern than the regime's previous tests. One, because analysts say it could reach the U.S. and, two, because U.S. intelligence haven't seen it before.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more details on what this projectile is capable of doing.

Tom, fill us in.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, North Koreans are on track to have a record year in terms of the number of missile tests. They have had more than a dozen so far, more than they ever have, although, last year was a big year. With each one, we have a better sense of the potential range of their various weapons.

Now, this is a milestone. For the first time, this one has independent analysts saying they believe it could hit U.S. soil somewhere up here in Alaska.

So, let's take a look at this missile. This missile is about 55 feet tall. It is roughly as tall as a basketball court is wide. It didn't go that far, horizontally, even if you believe what the North Koreans say, it was less than 600 miles. It's the height that has everyone worried here. Look at the altitude. Again, even if it's overreaching a little bit by the North Koreans, this thing still went much, much higher than the international space station. It left the atmosphere, it came back into the atmosphere, seemingly under control, and all of that says they have made big strides in propulsion and guidance, two key elements for an ICBM -- Ana?

CABRERA: Tom, it's not beyond the realm of possibility then that this rocket could hit other major U.S. cities?

FOREMAN: It's not beyond the realm of possibilities at the moment, but in time, no. Look at the checklist. Let's start with range. They have solved the puzzle of range here. All they have to do is expand upon that to get more and more range out of it. Yes, you keep doing that, and you start bringing Hawaii and the west coast and even more into your area there. Beyond that, you can look at something like accuracy. The next panel over here. Accuracy is another question we have to raise here. What do you do in terms of being able to hit a target the way you want to. Simply getting a missile there doesn't mean you are going to drop a warhead where you wish. We put a yellow caution light on that. We don't know if they have that kind of control yet. And they haven't replicated this experiment from the other day. They have to do that. But the stopper is this one. The one in red is the nuclear part. The reason you build a ICBM, simply, is to put a nuclear warhead on it. So far, they have not proven they can miniaturize a warhead, nor make it reliable enough to extend what they say is their threat against the United States. But undeniably, they are moving closer in that direction.

There's a bit of a race to see if they can arrive at that or if the world, the United States can find a way to stop them before they get there -- Ana?

CABRERA: That is the important question.

Tom Foreman, thank you.

Not an easy answer as we have heard from Gordon Chang and other experts.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat, of New York. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Want to get your take, Congressman. First, let's listen to what President Trump said earlier today about the North Korean missile.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as North Korea is concerned, I don't know. We'll see what happens. I don't like to talk about what I have planned. But, I have some pretty severe things that we are thinking about. That doesn't mean we are going to do them. I don't draw red lines. President Obama drew a red line and I was the one that made it look a little bit better than it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Congressman, did this latest missile launch cross a red line for you?

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT, (D), NEW YORK: We'll see what happens. Is that what the president has to say? North Korea has engaged in launching over a dozen missiles this year. This one goes further out and can reach as far out as Alaska. We have -- last month, we passed legislation asking for stiffer sanctions against North Korea, their shipping industry, acknowledging they have a forced labor, a force that, across the world, people going into other countries sending money back to North Korea. We want to make sure there are stiffer sanctions against this country --

(CROSSTAKL)

ESPAILLAT: -- that has gone really out there breaking all the rule.

[11:35:11] CABRERA: Sanctions are one option, certainly. But we have seen that happen in the past. Sanctions, so far, haven't work. North Korea continues to advance its missile capabilities. We hear the president talk about red lines. When I ask you that question, does it cross a red line, I'm talking about is this the threshold for military involvement?

ESPAILLAT: I think this is the threshold that sends a clear and present danger that we must be cognizant that North Korea is moving rapidly ahead to reach its capability to strike America. Therefore, we should go to our allies, to the international community, to the United Nations. We should seek to have stiffer sanctions. We should not allow their ships in our ports. We should not allow their ships in our water.

CABRERA: What if China isn't willing to play ball?

ESPAILLAT: Obviously, the president has acknowledged that when he pivoted to the Chinese, they dropped the ball. This is clearly in our court, in America's court. We should take the action with our allies. Perhaps he could better the relationship we have with our European allies when he meets with Angela Merkel today. Perhaps, you know, we can better our relationship with the European Union and they can be part of this solution. I think we can no longer sit idle and watch North Korea reach the potential to strike U.S. territory. Should it involve our military action? No. It should go to Congress. We should discuss that.

CABRERA: OK. At this point, you are not ready to say military action should be an option at this point. I hear you say sanctions.

Let me turn to what we heard from the president this morning regarding Russia's election meddling. He pointed the finger directly at his predecessor, Obama, and criticizing him for not doing something more immediately. We played the clip earlier. Are you familiar with his comments?

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: And do you agree with it?

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: Of course not. Of course not. There's a cloud over him as he meets with Putin as to whether or not his campaign colluded with Putin and the Kremlin in undermining our democracy. There is another cloud as to his businesses and what types of business arrangements he may or may not have with Russia. So, the big elephant in the room, when he meets Putin, is whether or not they meddle and they compromised our democracy.

CABRERA: Anything clear?

ESPAILLAT: Anything -- anything that he discusses with Putin will be undermined by this big elephant in the room. It should be addressed head on. Obama had nothing to do with it. This happened under his watch. It was his campaign aides that had contact with Russian officials.

CABRERA: But it happened under President Obama's administration, because it was during the election itself. President Obama was at the helm. You don't believe that he dropped the ball in his response?

ESPAILLAT: Look, it wasn't President Obama asking Putin and the Russians to release e-mails during the Hillary/Trump campaign. It was President Trump. Now we have this big question mark.

CABRERA: That's an allegation.

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: Well, he said it publicly, he would ask the Russians to release the e-mails. Now he's meeting with Putin. Now we have to discuss issues that are really important, like Syria. The big elephant in the room will be whether or not Russia compromised our democracy, your vote and my vote.

CABRERA: You don't think the Obama administration could have done more to prevent the election meddling or to punish Putin and send a message --

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: I am sure some actions could have been taken. But clearly, clearly, the brunt of this intervention, the brunt of this blatant, blatant act against our democracy happened during the Trump/Clinton elections. Therefore, we are now still determining whether or not -- through an investigation, whether or not the Trump officials, prior to him being president, during the campaign and post- election, had direct contact with the Russians to compromise our democracy.

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: So to pivot back to President Obama or to pivot back to president -- to other presidents, I think is a disservice to this nation.

CABRERA: You talk about the elephant in the room at this meeting, face-to-face meeting between Putin and President Trump. What if he doesn't bring up election meddling?

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Is there a consequence to that?

ESPAILLAT: I think it will be sad. I think it will discredit any legitimacy in whatever conversation they may have. Unless you address that first, I think anything else that will be discussed, the Syria mater, North Korea, or anything else across the planet, will be undermined and discredited by the fact that they haven't had discussed the most important issue that America is wrestling with right now with regard to foreign policy, whether or not the Russians interfered in our election, and whether or not the Russians compromised your vote and my vote.

CABRERA: They are continuing to meddle in other elections

ESPAILLAT: Absolutely.

CABRERA: in other democracies, as we saw in the French election as well.

Congressman Espaillat --

ESPAILLAT: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- thank you for coming on and joining us today.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

[11:40:01] CABRERA: We appreciate it.

Any moment now, President Trump meets with one of his biggest critics, Germany's Angela Merkel. We'll bring you what could be a tense meeting as soon as it happens.

This is CNN special live coverage.

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CABRERA: President Trump sending mixed messages about Russian interference around the world on the eve of his first face-to-face with Vladimir Putin. In a scripted speech, a short time ago, President Trump called on Russia to stop its destabilizing activities and its support for hostile regimes.

But moments earlier, in an unscripted response to a question about Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, President Trump chose to cast doubt on the veracity of America's intelligence community and to criticize his predecessor, former President Obama, rather than definitively say Russia has meddled.

CNN political director, David Chalian, is joining us now.

David, is President Trump taking Russia's election hacking seriously?

[11:45:15] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's a good question, Ana, because if you listen to what he said this morning, it is hard to walk away from that with any impression other than he thinks it's not that extraordinary or significant or worthy of the attention it has gotten. He seems to have suggested in comments this has been happening for many, many years and there's been interference and others have done it also. It suggests, to my ear, he doesn't think it's a tough priority or significant. That's at odds from the own intelligence community and what we have heard across the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, who think what Russia did is extraordinarily significant and is requiring the U.S. to have real defenses against it going forward. @: So, how important is it for him to say, this is exactly what we

are doing and, yes, this did happen? Obviously, this is not an issue that only affects America, as we have seen Russia meddling or hacking in other elections such as the French election.

CHALIAN: Certainly. We have seen it have global implications. But, here at home, if the president of the United States doesn't deem this all that out of the ordinary and it is run of the mill and happens all the time and not significant, it's hard to imagine how making sure, those the administration laid out certain steps it is taking, how does this end up at the top of the priority list to ensure that our elections, when voters go to the polls this fall for the gubernatorial races next year and the midterm elections is a totally free of foreign interference in an electoral process. After the press conference, he gave that speech about the importance of the survival of western civilization. What is more core to that than free and fair elections? So, if, indeed, he is lax in his thinking of the significance of this, it's hard to imagine how it is a top priority to ensure that the elections going forward here at home are totally free of this interference.

CABRERA: The comments you made about President Obama not taking the election meddling, if it was Russia, he says. Seriously enough, how unprecedented it is for a sitting U.S. president to slam his predecessor so viciously on foreign soil saying he choked. Was it a mistake to go there?

CHALIAN: We didn't hear him do this on his first international trip, call out President Obama by name. In doing so on foreign soil, certainly, is not the norm in presidential behavior, that we have seen from past presidents while on foreign soil. I don't know. I haven't checked every comment made on foreign soil by presidents. I don't know if that's been done before or not. It is noteworthy and indicative of what really there was no relationship to begin with. But what this relationship deteriorated into is not at all part of that president's club camaraderie that we have seen from past people who assumed the Oval Office. Even if they made their way to the Oval Office by tearing apart their predecessor on the campaign trail, we have seen relationships form in that club to give that kind of camaraderie. That is not the case here.

CABRERA: We know President Obama had some close relationships with the other world leaders the president will be meeting with at the G-20 summit. It will be interesting to see if there's an impact.

David Chalian, our thanks to you.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: They are two of the biggest leaders in the West with differences on a host of issues. Can President Trump and Germany's Angela Merkel bridge the gap? These are live pictures from Hamburg, Germany. We are awaiting a meeting between the two. Will their meeting, happening in moments, widen the divide or will it bring them closer? Protests under way. We will take you there, next.

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[11:53:13] CABRERA: In just a few moments, President Trump will sit down for talks with German leader, Angela Merkel. The two leaders have had a bumpy relationship so far. Don't even see eye-to-eye on trade, climate change, immigration, three topics they may discuss during their meeting and at the G-20 summit.

This morning, Germany's foreign minister warned the U.S. may start a trade war with Europe.

CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is live from Hamburg, Germany, where the two leaders will meet any minute.

Fred, set the scene. What are you hearing on the ground?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm at the anti-G-20 demo here in Hamburg. Look around, you can see literally thousands here. The organizers say about 5,000 to 6,000 people actually on the ground.

Ana, you're right. The meeting between Angela Merkel and President Trump, that's the big thing on everybody's mind at this point in time. So you're absolutely right. They don't see eye-to-eye on many issues. But it's something the German foreign minister said when he said he believed the U.S. might be trying to start a trade war with Europe and Europe would retaliate.

But Angela Merkel actually said the same thing. She heavily criticized President Trump in a speech a couple of days ago. And she also that it would be disingenuous to gloss over any of the big differences these leaders have.

Angela Merkel is a very matter-of-fact politician. I've know her since the year 2000. She is someone who is able to deal with personalities not the same as her own. But it's also clear that she says she certainly does not see eye-to-eye with President Trump, as you said, on trade, on migration and certainly on the environment as well. So look for that to be quite a frosty chat between the two leaders, but at the same time, she is quite matter-of-fact as well. So they certainly will try to make the most of it. But it is a much more difficult relationship between Angela Merkel and President Trump than you had between Angela Merkel and President Obama before, because they had a very close relationship.

It's going to be an interesting meeting kicking off in a couple minutes -- Ana?

[11:55:09] CABRERA: We'll wait for the read out.

Do you know, Fred, if there will be any cameras? Will they make comments after their meeting or any idea how this will unfold?

PLEITGEN: Certainly, pictures of the meeting. It's not clear whether or not there will be any statements afterwards or any sort of questioning afterwards. We've already seen the president give a speech in Poland. Unclear whether or not the White House might want that to be the message of today, especially some of the things he said about NATO. We'll wait and see. It's certainly going to be interesting. Of course, there are going to be pictures of that meeting.

CABRERA: Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

We'll bring you that meeting between President Trump and Angela Merkel in a moment, at least what we're able to share with our viewers.

A sad new development, in the meantime, involving Congressman Steve Scalise, the Republican seriously injured after the shooting at a baseball practice. We'll tell you about his new setback.

Stay with CNN.

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