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Trump: New Sanctions for North Korea; Donald Trump Jr to Testify Before Congress on Russian Meddling; Trump Hits the Road to Sell Tax Reform Bill. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:34:21] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New sanctions are coming. That is the promise coming from President Trump now. Announcing it, of course, on Twitter earlier this morning with this: "Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled."

This all comes after North Korea, of course, launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that they now claim could reach all the way to Washington, D.C. This test going further and longer than any previous test.

CNN's Will Ripley is live from Seoul, South Korea, with much more on this.

Will, what are you hearing from there and your sources within North Korea? Is North Korea also responding to the new sanctions threat?

[11:35:03] WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I spoke with a North Korean official shortly after the missile launch. This is before President Trump tweeted about sanctions, but in that conversation, the officials said, and this has been told to me repeatedly during every visit to Pyongyang, that sanctions are stim simply not going to stop this country from developing their nuclear program. In fact, they said, repeatedly, it will only make them work harder and faster to round off their nuclear program. And so far, that's exactly what they're doing, despite round after round of sanctions. They shot this missile up 10 times higher than the international space station. And they say it can protect a nuclear warhead upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere. That's dramatic, potentially, a game changer. The question is, is that going to be enough. Have the North Koreans proved they have this nuclear deterrent? They told me, no, they are still unwilling to consider diplomacy with the Trump administration right now. And that they still need to take it one step further and conduct another nuclear test, perhaps even aboveground, which is what North Korea's foreign administers threatened back in September. Of course, that was after President Trump threatened to totally destroy North Korea in his speech at the United Nations.

BOLDUAN: So that is happening.

Will Ripley, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Joining me now for some more perspective on this is retired admiral, John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, and former State Department spokesman and Pentagon spokesman as well.

John, it's great to see you.


BOLDUAN: From the U.S. perspective, as Will was perfectly reporting it out, from the U.S. perspective, what has changed with this launch yesterday?

KIRBY: Well, what it's changed, obviously, we know they have this additional capability. This new missile that can go as high as it did and as far as it did, obviously, successfully. But what's really important, Kate, is what hasn't changed. And what hasn't changed, and Will hit this in his piece, is that the north continued to perfect this capability and they have no intention of slowing it down or stopping it. And the reason for that, they view the United States as an existential threat and they want to have this insurance policy at their behest, if they need it. And also, to have this card, should we get the negotiations with them in any way, that they have the capability to take to the table with them. So these hasn't changed. And I think we can expect with regardless of whatever sanctions are put in place -- and I agree there should be additional sanctions -- they're not necessarily going to have an immediate effect in terms of slowing this program down.

BOLDUAN: Well, no sanction ever has an immediate effect, or at least rarely, rarely does. It takes time to set in.


BOLDUAN: What sanctions are left? And where would they come from? Are we talking about U.N. sanctions? Is that what you're -- where you would look?

KIRBY: Well, I think we can look at both. Both unilateral sanctions by the United States, and the impression I'm getting from the president's tweet is that he's not ruling that out. And that's fine. But I think he also is referring, since he talked about sanctions in lieu -- in light of his discussions with President Xi, he must be talking, I think, about international sanctions, U.N. sanctions. Kate, you're right, sanctions take time. That doesn't mean they can't be effective over time. It was sanctions that led the Iranians to the table that got us the Iran deal. And if you would have told me a year ago, Kate, that China would be cracking down on natural gas exports into North Korea or that they would completely eliminate their seafood imports from North Korea, I would have laughed at you. So the Chinese have done more. And that's a credit to the Trump administration and the pressure that they've been putting on them. Now, they can do more in terms of oil. And maybe that's what the president's going to explore with them. BOLDUAN: What do you make of Donald Trump's somewhat measured

response, basically saying, we will handle this. I mean, I haven't heard fire -- I haven't heard fire and fury yet today.

KIRBY: I was actually glad to see that. I think it's a sign that the president is more in line with his national security team. A national security team that has, I think, handled the North Korea situation commendably. They have increased international pressure. They have endorsed and continued to pursue, as Tillerson said, yes, diplomatic solutions. And of course, on the defense front, you have Secretary Mattis is making sure that we can meet our security commitments there in the region. They've done a good job in trying to deal with what is definitely a much more urgent situation. I see the president's response, at least I hope to see it as a sign that he is stepping in line, more in line with his national security team.

BOLDUAN: Well, there's also, though, as Will Ripley is being told, that North Korea says that they are not interested in any diplomatic conversation right now. And that kind of takes us back to where Rex Tillerson was trying to, maybe that's how we say it, have some conversations with North Korea, and then the tweet from President Trump, saying don't waste your time, Rex, they only know one thing. Do you see a window still of a viable option of a diplomatic outcome right now?

KIRBY: I do. I absolutely do, Kate. But it's going to require, as all diplomacy does, it's going to require compromise. We're going to be able to have to give the north something. Maybe it's a recognition that they have the capability, even though we want to see a denuclearized peninsula --


[11:40:03] BOLDUAN: But wasn't one of the last things we heard from President Trump, was that the goal was they totally denuclearize North Korea?


BOLDUAN: That doesn't seem --


KIRBY: No. And, Kate, it still can be done. And I think that's still the right policy. It's the policy that the two administrations prior had. And it can still be what we go to, eventually. But maybe in the interim, you've got to acknowledge that they have this capability and use that as a place to sit down at the table. Because they want this recognition, for sure. They want the world to know that they have this capability. Maybe we just need to compromise a little bit more than we have so far. I think that's really the only way that diplomacy works. And that's a difficult thing to do. Compromise is a dirty word in this town, and unfortunately, in these recent days, but I think that's what we're going to have to pursue.

BOLDUAN: And words and using them delicately seems to be something lacking in the town, as well.

KIRBY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: We'll see what happens.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

KIRBY: You bet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, next, we have some breaking news coming in. Donald Trump Jr will be testifying to Congress on his contacts with Russia and Russians during the campaign. What this means. He will be heading to the Hill. That's next.


[11:45:34] BOLDUAN: All right. Some breaking news coming in. The president's son, Donald Trump Jr, is headed back to Capitol Hill. And for the first time, will be facing members of Congress in their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, has all the details for us now from the Hill.

Manu, what else are you picking up?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump Jr remains of significant interest to several committees that are conducting different Russia investigations and has yet to speak to members of Congress as part of the investigations. He did in September talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, but he has not spoken to any members. And certainly not the House Intelligence Committee, which has just reached an agreement with Donald Trump Jr for him to appear on December 6th, next week, in a closed session, where he'll be interviewed by members. Now, he is, of course, of interest, because of contacts that he had with Russians during the campaign season, particularly that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, in which he was promised dirt from the Russians on Clinton, a meeting that is actually still under investigation on Capitol Hill. Yesterday, one of the people who was at that meeting, a Russian translator, was interviewed also by the House Intelligence Committee, all part of an effort to understand exactly what happened and bring Donald Trump Jr in to ask him further questions.

Moreover, Kate, there was also the recent revelation that Donald Trump Jr did have correspondents with WikiLeaks during the campaign season. Expect that to be a significant portion of the questions, as well.

And the Senate Intelligence Committee still wants to bring Donald Trump Jr in for its own questioning some time later this year, some time in December, perhaps. And the Senate Judiciary Committee, keeping open the option of a public hearing at some point, but no agreement on that front yet. But the first time we'll see him, next week before members of Congress, when he meets with the House intelligence committee -- Kate? BOLDUAN: I said when he went up to the Hill and met with members of

staff, this will be a remarkable moment. The president's son heading to testify before members of Congress, even in this closed session, is just going to be another historic moment to be watching next week.

Thank you, Manu.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So amid everything today, President Trump is hitting the road. After wheeling and dealing on Capitol Hill yesterday, he is now off to try to sell the Republican tax reform plan directly to voters. Does that mean he's got all the support he needs locked up in the Senate already? What's the sales pitch? We're going to get the lay of the land, next.


[11:52:28] BOLDUAN: All eyes on the White House right now as the President Trump is heading out taking his sales pitch for tax reform on the road today. Speaking at a rally in Missouri later this afternoon. Does that mean that he has all the votes that he needs locked up on Capitol Hill specifically the Senate? Let's find out.

Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joining me now following all of this.

Sunlen, things shifted yesterday quite a bit. Where do things stand right now?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly did shift, Kate. There was a feeling within Republican leadership that there is a sense of momentum that they are on the right track where they need to be right now. But certainly, the sense is that this is a very delicately balanced at any moment things could tip and get off track. That's why it was significant we saw the Senate budget committee vote the bill out of committee up here yesterday. That moving forward despite some real concern among members of that committee most notably Ron Johnson. He has concerns about this bill but yes, he said he will push the bill forward. Move the process forward, bring it to the Senate floor to a vote. He's made clear he and numerous other Senators, Republican Senators, I should say, have serious concerns over specifics of this bill and they're pushing right now to make those changes. With President Trump up here on the Hill yesterday, and furiously behind the scenes there are a lot of promises being promised, a lot of agreements being made, and currently, they are really working behind closed doors to put pen to paper and make sure that those promises and those deals that are being brokered are turning flow legislative text. So you have the sense from the Republican leadership that as they're making deals, they don't want to rock the boat too much either way. They have such a razor close margin, they can only afford to lose two Republican Senators going forward. That's why it's delicately balanced. They want to make sure the folks on board with these changes are on board after the changes are made.

BOLDUAN: Well, and I mean, if past is prologue, can they trust the president, as in Susan Collins, when it comes to things they want, can they trust the president will be with them for those promises, which might need to come in the budget bill passed in a separate piece of legislation, separate from the what we're talking about here. Regardless, with all of the changes that could be needing to become to keep these votes in line, is the timeline changing?

[11:54:52] SERFATY: The timeline right now is I have to say very swift. Republican leaders have been bullish. There will be a procedural vote today that likely sets up a final vote either late Thursday or early Friday morning, a final vote on the tax bill in the Senate. Of course, after that, the House and Senate have to go to conference. And reconcile the differences between the bill. We heard from Kevin McCarthy earlier today. He's let his folks know in the House they should intend to stay potentially late Friday or come back early Monday. Super quick and swift here. They intend to push this through. There are a lot of hurdles in the last days and weeks that still are -- remain within their own party -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, first things first. Let's see what actually they end up voting on the floor of the Senate.

Sunlen, great to see you. Stay tuned.

Outrage from even some of the president's own supporters, the most vocal supporters, today after he retweeted anti-Muslim videos. The defense now coming from the White House. You'll want to hear it and discuss it. That's coming up.