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Trump 'Not Bothered' by North Korea's Recent Missile Tests; Trump Praises North Korean Dictator, Slams Former V.P. Joe Biden; V.P. Pence to Mark Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery; Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) is Interviewed about Trump's Stance on North Korean Missile Testing. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 07:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very happy with the way it's going.

[07:00:16] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not bothered at all by the small missiles?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Japan said that these were in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand the president wants to maintain a relationship with North Korea. However, those strikes are disturbing.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president doesn't need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. The previous administration did nothing.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's made more progress than other presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard screaming children and adults both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Oklahoma community still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly tornado that ripped through in a matter of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking we were all going to die; we're not going to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had about everything in the world thrown at us this week.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. John Berman is off. John Avlon joins me on this Memorial Day. Great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: OK. So President Trump breaking with his own national security advisor and Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on North Korea's missile testing.

At a joint news conference, the president says he is not bothered by North Korea's recent short-range missile tests, while Abe and Bolton insist that those tests do violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

AVLON: President Trump using the world stage to praise Kim Jong-un, siding with a dictator and attacking the Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. The president also making headlines on Iran and the trade war with China.

CNN's Boris Sanchez -- Sanchez is traveling with the president. He joins us from Tokyo with the breaking details.

Boris, what you got?


Yes, President Trump right now is taking part in a state banquet being held in his honor by the new Japanese emperor, Emperor Naruhito. Now, both leaders exchanging glowing words about each other and about the alliance between the United States and Japan.

This coming shortly after President Trump raised eyebrows with his remarks about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, siding with Kim on a multitude of issues.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): President Trump insisting that recent short- range missile tests by North Korea do not bother him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not bothered at all by the small missiles?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.

SANCHEZ: And that the missile launches have not violated United Nations resolutions.

TRUMP: I view it differently. I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention. And perhaps not. Who knows? It doesn't matter. All I know is that there have been no nuclear tests. There have been no ballistic missiles going out.

SANCHEZ: Trump's view breaks with Japan's prime minister, who directly contradicted him on the issue. Even the president's own national security adviser, John Bolton, said a few days ago there's no doubt North Korea violated international agreements. President Trump also praising Kim Jong-un on the world stage.

TRUMP: He knows that with nuclear, that's never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.

I'm in no rush at all. The sanctions remain.

SANCHEZ: The president used the press conference to attack the Democratic frontrunner.

TRUMP: Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-I.Q. individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.

SANCHEZ: Trump and Shinzo Abe also making news on escalating tensions with Iran.

TRUMP: I know so many people from Iran. These are great people. We're not looking for regime change. I just want to make that clear. We're looking for no nuclear weapons.

SANCHEZ: President Trump indicating that he may lean on Japan to help broker talks between Iran and the U.S.

Trump and Abe also discussed the trade deal with China.

TRUMP: I think we will have a deal with China sometime into the future.

SANCHEZ: The president once again falsely claiming that Americans only pay a small percentage of the new tariffs on Chinese imports.

TRUMP: No, no, no. It's not that way. They're paying a small percentage, but our country is taking in billions and billions of dollars. Our farmers, out of all of that money, the tens of billions of dollars, we're giving a relatively small percentage to our farmers.


SANCHEZ: The banquet is still ongoing as we speak. As soon as it ends President Trump and first lady Melania will turn in for the evening. A big day ahead tomorrow. They're going to be visiting a joint U.S. and Japanese naval base before returning to Washington -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Boris, thank you very much. Stay with us, if you would.

Also joining us is Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast; and Toluse Olorunnipa, White House reporter for "The Washington Post." Great to see both of you.

Toluse, so President Trump believes Kim Jong-un over the evidence, it appears, and his own national security adviser, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

[07:05:08] So here is what President Trump says about how -- why he has decided to believe Kim Jong-un. Just listen to the idea that he thinks that there have been no ballistic tests. Listen to this.


TRUMP: One of the things, importantly, that Chairman Kim promised me last night is, regardless, he's not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear. Not going to do testing. So, you know, I trust him and I take him at his word. I hope that's true.

There have been no nuclear tests. There have been no ballistic missiles going out. There have been no long-range missiles going out. And I think that someday we'll have a deal. I'm not in a rush.


CAMEROTA: OK. So both of those, it turns out, were wrong. So the first one that we played was from February, where he says that he takes Kim Jong-un, the murderous dictator, at his word that there will be no more testing. At that point he says he'll do no testing of rockets. Not going to do testing.

Well, now there's been testing.

And so the second thing that we just played there was the way he, I guess justifies it to himself, President Trump. He says, well, it's not ballistic missile testing.

That's not what his national security adviser said. He said there's no doubt there was ballistic missile testing.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the president once again is sort of going overseas and undercutting his own advisers, undercutting the intelligence community, and in this point, undercutting the Japanese prime minister, as well, who is concerned that these, even though they're short-range missiles, pose a threat to Japan.

And it's a sign that President Trump's diplomacy with the North Korean dictator has not really yielded very many benefits. President Trump wants to say, "You know, I have this great relationship, this great friendship with Kim Jong-un, and it's led to this great peace on the peninsula." But we haven't really seen that. We've seen the North Korean --

CAMEROTA: The opposite.

OLORUNNIPA: We've seen the opposite. We've seen the North Koreans continue to develop their programs and also continue to be provocateurs in the region and really show that they are continuing to pose a threat to not only Japan but also South Korea and other places in the region.

So it's really striking to see President Trump say, "I'm not bothered by the fact that the North Koreans continue to develop their missile system and continue to pose a threat to Japan and South Korea.

AVLON: Boris, one person who definitely is bothered would seem to be the Japanese prime minister. Because the dissonance between these two statements, the president saying very intelligent people agree with him. But Japan are the folks who are in the line of fire here. Boris, what are you hearing on the ground in Japan? What's been the reaction to the president's comments about North Korea?

SANCHEZ: Well, without question, there is uneasiness. As Shinzo Abe stated from the podium, those missile launches are regretful.

He has to walk a fine line, though, because ultimately, he needs President Trump to sort of secure Japan. And so he doesn't want to upset the president. although he did sort of contradict him, suggesting that there is reason to worry because of these short-range ballistic missiles.

He also pointed out that he has the president's support in securing some sort of bilateral meeting with Kim Jong-un. It does not appear that the North Koreans and Japanese are about to sit down, but it is a goal of Shinzo Abe's. He believes that he should confront Chairman Kim on certain issues where President Trump has not been nearly as vocal as Shinzo Abe.

One thing that Abe did want to point out today, and we saw the president taking part in an event just a couple of hours ago, are these Japanese citizens and their families who have been abducted by North Koreans. It's something that Shinzo Abe is very passionate about and something he says he wants to bring to the forefront in the conversation with Chairman Kim Jong-un.

CAMEROTA: Jackie, do we have any idea why President Trump falls for whatever Kim Jong-un says, despite evidence to the contrary? I mean, why does he believe these empty promises?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It seems like -- I mean, he said during that press conference that he wasn't viewing -- he was viewing this as a man rather than, I guess, as a major world leader. But it seems like, because Kim has given him his word, he's giving him some leeway.

But yes, it is unclear to me how the idea that not only is -- he's apparently launching ballistic missiles, but he's also just kind of taken the rest of the program underground. Nothing has stopped. The U.S. intel has said as much.

So why the president doesn't see it as perhaps Kim might not be taking him very seriously, I don't know. But we need to step back and look at the kind of totality of what's going on with the president's foreign policy right now.

Be it North Korea, China, Iran. In Iraq, there's -- being forced to put more troops in the Middle East. He's failing. There's no wins here. There's no need to get sick of winning, because there aren't -- there isn't any right now.

So when you -- you look at that and you hear people like Lindsey Graham saying something to the effect of "We're watching what's going on with North Korea, because you made some promises there," there is a reason for the president to be a little insecure here and perhaps maybe want to push up his record.

[07:10:12] AVLON: But as Jackie points out, Toluse, I mean, the president's record on this --

SANCHEZ: Alisyn and John, if I could just chime in.

AVLON: Sure, Boris. Go ahead. You're there.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I was just going to say we can't under state the importance of personal relationships to President Trump's foreign policy. He's only met Kim Jong-un in person twice, but in those meetings, and in the letters that they've exchanged, Kim Jong-un has heaped praise upon President Trump. That's something that he likes to hear.

Further now, we're hearing Kim Jong-un sort of attacking President Trump's potential rival in 2020. Foreign leaders are well aware that they can gain something from giving adulation to President Trump this way. That's why you saw Shinzo Abe talk about the American economy, how it's doing great, how the Trump tax cuts have benefitted people in key states like Michigan and Ohio.

It's as if they understand that appealing to President Trump's ego will get them further than just about anything else. Because to President Trump, foreign policy is personal. It's not about institutions --

KUCINICH: Great point.

SANCHEZ: -- or history or tradition. It's about what they say about him specifically.

AVLON: It's extraordinary to see just how transparently world leaders see the president of the United States is susceptible to personal flattery and played to it. Sometimes this is sinister stuff. Sometimes it's really all politics is local.

And one example of that had to do with the president weighing in and invoking Kim Jong-un against Democratic frontrunner, Vice President Joe Biden. Let's take a listen.


TRUMP: Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-I.Q. individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.


AVLON: Toluse, is there anything resembling a precedent for a president invoking a dictator to attack a domestic rival?

OLORUNNIPA: No, it's completely unprecedented. Normally, you expect presidents and politicians to follow the rule that -- that politics ends at the water's edge. You don't go overseas and attack your political rivals. In this case, the president not only attacked his political rival, but he contrasted Joe Biden, saying he's low I.Q., and then said that Kim Jong-un, the dictator from North Korea, was very smart. So that contrast was very much on stark display in the president's meeting. And he was very clear in trying to use the negative words that Kim Jong-un has put out against his political rival, Joe Biden, use that for his political benefit. And you don't normally see that from a president, using the words of a dictator to attack a political enemy. And you're starting to see some -- some pushback from local politicians here in the U.S.

CAMEROTA: Jackie, do you hear that sound? Do you hear that sound right there? That is the Dixie Chicks on line one. Their career was ruined when they insulted President Bush in a much more tame way than this insult against the former vice president of the United States while overseas.

And then the other sound you hear are just the norms exploding. I mean, the idea that a U.S. president would insult a former vice president of the U.S. and side with a dictator. I don't know how to underscore this any more.

KUCINICH: So I think what this points to, just broadly, is that Vice President Joe Biden is kind of living rent-free in President Trump's head right now. He's threatened by him. I mean, that's why the White -- that's why he's attacking him. That's why you hear his -- you hear people in Trump's orbit attacking Joe Biden. They're clearly worried about the threat that he presents in 2020.

You know, and as far as the norms, this president has -- doesn't really sweat norms, I think is the understatement of the morning.

AVLON: Norms need not apply.


CAMEROTA: Thank you all.

AVLON: Thank you, Jackie.

Thank you, everybody.

While President Trump is in Japan, Vice President Mike Pence will mark this Memorial Day by honoring fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. The annual wreath laying cemetery is set to begin in just hours.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at Arlington with more.


We're here at Section 60 in Arlington, where it has become known as the place where so many who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are laid to rest here.

But Arlington, of course, so much more than that: 430,000 souls are here. And on Memorial Day, they expect so many people to come and pay their respects. Just yesterday they had 24,000 visitors here.

We await the ceremony later this morning for the public. But we do expect family members of the fallen to come down the hill here where you already see so many flags laid out, flowers.

And I want to just point out at this one gravesite, we see one of the mementos that we have -- the kinds of mementos we have seen so many times over the years. Buddies come by. They leave a memory. They leave something that's so meaningful to them and the colleague, the battle buddy that they lost.

[07:15:09] So later today, once the cemetery opens in a few hours, we expect to see an awful lot of people pass through and pay their respects. And that's really what Memorial Day is all about. That's what military families want. Enjoy the cookout, enjoy going to the beach, but take a moment, pay your respects, remember the fallen -- John, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Barbara. What a powerful backdrop there for you of gravestone after gravestone after gravestone. And so on NEW DAY, we are remembering the fallen this morning.

AVLON: It is the meaning of Memorial Day. Don't lose it. Be with your family, be with your friends, but don't forget the fallen heroes. Thank you, Barbara.

CAMEROTA: Barbara, thank you.

Why is President Trump refusing to acknowledge North Korea's missile tests and that they're a violation? We'll get reaction from a member of the House Foreign Services -- Foreign Affairs Committee next.



TRUMP: I am very happy with the way it's going. And intelligent people agree with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not bothered at all by the small missiles?

[07:20:02] TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.


CAMEROTA: Well, President Trump there says he's not bothered by North Korea's recent missile testing. But his own national security adviser is and so is Japan's prime minister, who says there is, quote, "no doubt" that North Korea violated U.N. resolutions.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski. He serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Did North Korea just violate the U.N. resolution?

MALINOWSKI: Yes. It's repeatedly done so in the last few years. Here's why this matters.

What it says to not just North Korea but to all of our foreign adversaries is that you can fire off missiles. You can threaten our allies. You can even kill an American, as Kim Jong-un's regime did, and so long as you flatter the president of the United States, so long as you insult his political enemies, you get a pass.

And I worry not just about what message it sends to North Korea but to Russia, to China, to other adversaries of ours around the world.

CAMEROTA: Let me play for you what President Trump said at the end of the failed summit with Kim Jong-un back in February about how much he believes Kim Jong-un. Listen to this.


TRUMP: One of the things, importantly, that Chairman Kim promised me last night is, regardless, he's not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear. Not going to do testing. So, you know, I trust him. And I take him at his word. I hope that's true.


CAMEROTA: "He's not going to do testing of rockets. Not going to do testing. I take him at his word." What does it tell you that the president of the United States falls for what Kim Jong-un says?

MALINOWSKI: He just seems to be an easy mark for dictators who flatter him. And -- and you know, that's disgraceful, and we can bemoan it, but what's more important is that it's dangerous.

Because -- because men like Kim Jong-un, and Putin, and Xi Jinping see this behavior, and they learn how to take advantage of it to do things that no other president would allow them to get away with.

And you know, we have got to, in the United States Congress, I think we've got to act to ensure that the world gets a different sense of what America is about and what we stand for.

CAMEROTA: Do you think it's OK that President Trump insulted former Vice President Joe Biden, though he is now a political rival of President Trump's, while he was overseas?

MALINOWSKI: Of course not. And it's disgraceful.

But again, what's more important here is the message that it sends to our allies and our adversaries around the world about, well, how easy it is to manipulate the president of the United States.

If I'm Kim Jong-un, I insult Joe Biden, and suddenly, Donald Trump is on my side; and he forgives a missile test that is threatening South Korea and Japan?

It -- and you know, it also, frankly just bothers me, although some of my Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives have come out against this, just -- just how much silence there is on the other side. You know, if a President Obama or a President Hillary Clinton had said something like this, I think my Republican colleagues would be skipping right over the impeachment stage and talking about the 25th Amendment.

And yet it's just become normal. And we cannot allow this behavior to become normal.

CAMEROTA: It's unimaginable to think of what would have happened if President Obama or a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton would have said this. Unimaginable the heads that would have exploded on the Republican side, as you point out.

But you raised the issue of impeachment. So where are you today with that?

MALINOWSKI: You know, even as early as a week or two ago, I wasn't there, but at this point, enough already. And here, I've got to say I think the House of Representatives has been doing its job the last few months. We've been passing bills to lower drug prices, to protect health care, to keep our kids safe in school.

But we also have a higher responsibility. And for me, it's not just about what Mueller told us, although that's bad enough. It's -- it's about telling people to defy legally-binding subpoenas. It's about using the Justice Department and now the intelligence community against the president's political enemies. It's about accusing the FBI of treason every single day, trying to turn millions of Americans against law enforcement in our country.

There has to be some institution in Washington that holds the line because if nobody holds the line, the line just disappears. And we're not going to recognize our country if we allow that to happen.

[07:25:04] CAMEROTA: But I mean, of course, as you know, practically speaking, the Senate will never go along with it. And so is it an exercise in futility? Is it a waste of time? I mean, you know, the president said that you all in the House and Democrats, I suppose, can't do investigation and legislation at the same time. So would you just be spinning your wheels?

MALINOWSKI: No. It's -- it's not about that. It is about defending the rule of law in America. It's about establishing that there are some things that you cannot do.

And I think that the House of Representatives, we need to at least commence an impeachment inquiry at this stage to establish that there are still rules in American politics that cannot be broken. And if we do our duty and at the end of the day, the Senate does not do its duty, well, the shame will be on the other side. And I believe that the American people will make the right decision in 2020, based on the evidence that we lay out. CAMEROTA: Congressman Tom Malinowski, thank you very much for sharing

part of your holiday weekend with us.

MALINOWSKI: Thank you so much.


AVLON: Well, with the first Democratic debates now less than a month away, one Democratic candidate just reached the threshold to make the first debate. Marian Williamson joins us live on NEW DAY next.