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Officials: Signs North Korea is Preparing for a New Launch; Russia Prepares for Possible New U.S. Sanctions; Trump Visits Firehouse, Plugs His Legislative Record. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Thanks so much. It was so fun having you on the show. And be sure to follow me on Twitter, @PamelaBrownCNN, or tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. That's it for me. Brianna Keilar filling in for THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:15] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, ready to launch? U.S. officials say there are indications that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile launch just a month after it declared it could strike the U.S. mainland.

CNN is also learning the Trump administration has decided to be more discrete about military exercises amid new calls for direct talks with Kim Jong-un's regime.

Purge the FBI. After President Trump called the FBI tainted, a Republican congressman calls for a purge of America's top law enforcement agency, accusing it of being biased against the president.

And Obama's warning. In broadcast -- in a broadcast interview with Britain's Prince Harry, former President Obama warns about irresponsible use of social media, saying the Internet can reinforce people's biases. Is that a dig at President Trump?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There are fresh signs that North Korea may be getting ready for a missile launch just a month after Kim Jong-un's regime tested what it said was a powerful new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland. That comes as the U.S. may start doing a little less saber rattling of its own. A senior administration official saying the Trump administration has decided to tone down the rhetoric accompanying its military drills in the region.

Russia may be getting ready for new U.S. sanctions. President Vladimir Putin has announced a capital amnesty plan to bring billions of dollars' worth of funds back to Russia, a clear indication that Moscow wants to protect its assets from this new round of U.S. economic punishment.

And Republican lawmakers step up their assault on federal law enforcement after President Trump himself labelled the FBI tainted. A Florida Republican has called for a, quote, "purge" at the FBI. Congressman Francis Rooney tells me that may be a pretty strong word, but he says the bureau should oust individuals he views as politically compromised. GOP House members have been probing what they say is a display of bias against President Trump within the FBI.

And former President Barack Obama is warning about Internet dangers that allow people to have what he calls entirely different realities. In an interview with Britain's Prince Harry, Obama said people need more face-to-face exchanges so they can find common ground.

I will speak with Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of the Armed Services Committee; and our correspondents, specialists and guests are standing by with full coverage.

We do begin with new signs tonight that Kim Jong-un's regime may be preparing for a missile launch. I want to go straight to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Brianna.

Tonight the U.S. intelligence community once again keeping close watch, because there are very preliminarily signs, multiple officials tell us that North Korea is moving equipment around. They're not able to tell us exactly what kind of equipment, but it's the kind of thing that is making them watch for the possibility in the coming days or weeks of another missile launch or even a satellite launch. It's simply too soon to say what exactly the North Koreans may be up to.

All of this comes at a very sensitive time, because the Pentagon also is going to tone it down, we are told, about U.S. military exercises in the region. Very sensitive right now, because the Olympics are coming up; because there is a full-out effort to engage in diplomacy in the region. The Chinese, the North Koreans very sensitive about U.S. military exercises. So look for less talk about all of that, more discreet, not talking about what these exercises, when exactly they're going to happen and what they're going to involve.

But that may be risky military strategy in itself. Because traditionally the U.S. military very much wants to talk about its exercises. It wants to put everybody on notice that, when it is doing these exercises, especially near North Korea, it is simply for training, that there are no military operations in the works.

And, of course, the big unknown. This may be the new strategy, the new policy right now, but will President Trump adopt it, or will he engage in his own rhetoric about North Korea, perhaps on Twitter -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you for that.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for new sanctions from the U.S. that are expected to kick in if the Trump administration acts, and it could impact millions -- billions of dollars of Russian assets.

I want to go live now to Moscow and CNN's senior international correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen. So what are you learning, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's certainly one of the most clear indications, Brianna, that we've been getting recently that the Russians don't expect that tensions with the U.S. are going to ease any time soon. If really seems as though Vladimir Putin has put forward a two-pronged strategy for this.

[17:05:09] First of all, he's going to extend an amnesty on Russians who want to bring their capital back to this country from abroad. It's something that they actually put in place if 2014, when the first round of sanctions happened due to the Ukraine crisis.

Apparently, that didn't work very well in getting some of that money back, but now Vladimir Putin is apparently counting on the fact that many Russians with capital abroad fear that there could be additional sanctions and might bring the money back. And one sentence that he said, I think, is key, Brianna. He said, "Given the foreign restrictions," meaning the sanctions, obviously, "which instead of lessening, on the contrary, appear to have a tendency to increase." That's the reasons why they're doing so. They think that there are going to be additional sanctions.

They also want to make bringing that money back tax-free instead of people having to pay 13 percent tax on it. So clearly, the Russians making a push and gearing up for possible new sanctions, Brianna.

KEILAR: Meantime, the Russians are essentially accusing the U.S. of training former ISIS fighters, Fred, in an attempt to destabilize Syria. That's how it's being described. What can you tell us about that?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, this is part of a pattern that we've been seeing from the Russians over the past couple of days of being more aggressive towards the United States and America's presence there inside Syria.

The most recent thing that the Russians are saying comes from the chief of staff from the Russian military, Valery Gerasimov, and he accuses the U.S. of training fighters at Al-Tanf, which is a small outpost where the U.S. does have a presence, where it is training some forces. It's right on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan. And he says some of those people were members of ISIS.

And the Russians are saying that they have evidence, according to satellite pictures, that they have some other intelligence, as well. Didn't really offer any proof, at least publicly, about all of this.

The U.S., for its part, is saying, yes, it is training fighters down there. But they're saying the reason why they're doing that is because ISIS was ousted from many of these places, they don't want ISIS to return once again -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Thank you for clearing that up. Fred Pleitgen for us in Moscow.

And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Brianna, for having me.

KEILAR: You just heard Fred's report there that Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting ready for these possible new sanctions from the U.S. that could impact billions of dollars in Russian assets. Has the Trump administration, by waiting to act, because they've had this window that expires at the end of next month to act, has that given Putin too much time to figure out loopholes to try to get around these sanctions?

KHANNA: I do think they should have acted right when Congress acted. I mean, Congress was unanimous. This was not a Democratic bill to reimpose sanctions. This was an overwhelming vote of the House. And the president waiting does give Putin a free hand to find loopholes, and he should not have done that. He should have acted right away.

KEILAR: Why do you think they didn't act?

KHANNA: Well, I don't know why. I mean, the president has a tough rhetoric against Russia, but when it comes to actually imposing the sanctions, that's actually what will make a difference, and that's clearly in the United States' interests. The United States Congress has spoken about it overwhelmingly. It's time for the president to act.

KEILAR: So the administration has until January 29. These sanctions were passed in August. There was a deadline, a key deadline that was actually missed, delayed in October. So they have until the 29th to impose these sanctions passed by wide margins in the House and the Senate, as you mentioned.

Are you confident that these will, indeed, be imposed by the Trump administration?

KHANNA: I do think they will. They would be flouting the will of Congress if they didn't impose them. And I have confidence in Secretary Mattis who's testified behind -- to the Armed Services Committee that they will impose the sanctions.

But there's no reason for the delay. There is simply no strategic interest not to impose any sanctions. And it does make you wonder what the motive is with the president, and, frankly, it fuels speculation about Russia's involvement with the United States' election.

So I think it's in the president's own interests to put that to rest, to impose the sanctions and do what Congress wants the president to do.

KEILAR: Let's turn to North Korea. You have a senior administration official telling us, CNN, that the Trump administration has decided to be more quiet, to be more discreet, as that official put it, about speaking publicly about U.S. military exercises with South Korea and Japan that are aimed at demonstrating military capability against North Korea. The decision, we're told, is meant to give U.S. diplomats more leeway

in ongoing sensitive talks. What do you think about this decision?

KHANNA: I think it's a step in the right direction. I have been saying for many months that bilateral negotiation is the only way to solve this crisis.

Secretary Mattis had said war would be catastrophic. We have over 200,000 Americans in Korea, South Korea. There would be about a million people killed if there were a war.

And we know that negotiations have worked. President Clinton tried it in the 1990s, and there was an agreement. And North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear production for almost a decade.

There should be two goals to the bilateral communication. First, there should be a clear channel of communication between North Korea and the United States. People would be surprised that right now there is only one way North Korea can communicate to the United States government, and that's through their representative in New York at the U.N. Well, that's highly dangerous. We need open lines of communication.

And second, there should be a priority on stopping the nuclear production in North Korea. I think we can achieve that through bilateral negotiation.

KEILAR: You really think that bilateral negotiations could stop North Korea, which has a considerable interest in developing and miniaturizing a nuclear warhead, from doing so?

KHANNA: I'm not convinced necessarily that it can stop them, but it certainly, if we look at the example of the 1990s and the Clinton administration, it can delay the development and the nuclear weapons; and it can deter them from using those weapons against the United States.

Look, I represent Silicon Valley and we face a direct threat. I mean, people into my constituency are concerned. No one wants the horrific scenario of North Korea to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile that hits the United States.

But we know that the Kim dynasty wants survival. We know that we should have open lines of communication to prevent a nuclear war. The most likely scenario would be because of a miscalculation.

And Bill Perry in the Clinton administration showed us how to get at least some negotiated settlement. So it's not an easy situation, but that is a better situation than the alternative of saber rattling and having some catastrophic mistake.

KEILAR: We're being told that there are very initial indications that North Korea is moving equipment around. This could be in preparation for another satellite or maybe a missile launch. You're a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Have you been briefed on any of these developments? KHANNA: We have. Not the most recent ones, but certainly, we have

been briefed, and there's been public testimony about North Korea's ambitions to continue to test intercontinental ballistic missiles, missiles that could hit the United States. And that's why the situation is so dangerous.

But one thing I would point out is that the people most affected by this, South Korea, the president of South Korea believes we should engage in direct talks and the representative of Guam, whose people face a direct threat, also believes that we should engage in direct talks. As do Secretary Schultz and Secretary Perry and Senator Nunn.

So I'm heartened that the president's team seems to be listening to the experts who believe that we can at least keep the United States secure by engaging in talks with North Korea.

There is a new round of sanctions now out against North Korea. We -- just yesterday. Do you think this round will work after several other rounds that haven't been able to be fully effective?

KHANNA: Well, I give the team credit at the U.N. who got those sanctions. I think the sanctions go further when it comes to restricting oil going into North Korea. Although the question is how seriously are these sanctions going to be enforced?

I read just today that there were some violations by China where they were still supplying oil to North Korea. So of course, we need to continue to be vigilant to make sure that all those people who voted for the resolution actually enforce the resolution.

I also believe in addition to the sticks, we need to sit down with the North Koreans and discuss and assure them that we don't have any interest in regime change. They learned the lesson of Gadhafi in Libya, and they looked at Saddam Hussein, and they said, "We don't want to be victims to regime change." If they are assured that the United States has no strategic interests in regime change, I think it will go a long way to making sure that we are secure and that we don't have a scenario where we are threatened by North Korea.

KEILAR: All right, Congressman Ro Khanna, much more ahead with you. One of your Republican colleagues is calling for a purge of the DOJ and the FBI. We're going to get your perspective on that after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:01] KEILAR: President Trump played another round of golf today near his Florida resort, and this time he managed to stay out of sight, but moments ago, he did make an unannounced public appearance. We are going to talk with Congressman Ro Khanna, but first, let's check in with CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray. She is in West Palm Beach, following President Trump's every move.

So he just showed up where, a firehouse, Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. He left his Mar-a-Lago resort. He went somewhere other than the golf course, this time to stop by a local firehouse to thank firefighters there but also to tout his legislative accomplishments. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have signed more legislation than anybody -- we broke the record of Harry Truman. And they were saying if we get this big tax cut, because that's the legislation of all legislations, that's the biggest there is, but that included ANWAR, as you know, and it included the repeal of the individual mandate, which is a disaster. That's where you have the privilege of paying a lot of money so that you don't have to buy health insurance, all right? The most unpopular thing, which most people thought should have been unconstitutional.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now, the president is obviously very pleased with his accomplishments in his first year of office from cutting regulations to economic growth. But in terms of signing legislation, the reality is this president has signed fewer bills in his first year in office since any administration going back to Eisenhower -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And yesterday we were able to see him golfing. CNN got exclusive video of the president out on the course. Today, though, tell us about the sort of mysterious happenings as our photographer tried to get a shot.

MURRAY: Mysterious is a good way to put it, Brianna. We know this administration has been particularly sensitive about catching the president on the course. They don't invite reporters to come get a shot of him, even on his first day of vacation. That's something that President Obama did occasionally when he was in office.

But today was a little bit different because suddenly a big white box truck showed up and blocked the shot. Now, it's not clear who commissioned the truck. It's not clear who was driving the truck, but safe to say it's not a spot you can park as a pedestrian. Obviously, they keep a close eye of who is on the perimeter that close to the president. So still some unanswered question there and not the shots that we were hoping for of the president on his golf vacation.

KEILAR: Did you see -- did you see the driver there, Sara, like blocking his face? Did you see that?

MURRAY: Yes. You see the driver blocking his face. Clearly, they don't -- they don't want you to know who is driving this truck or where this truck came from.

KEILAR: We can see you, mister. We can see you.

All right, CNN's Sara Murray, thank you so much.

And we are back now with Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of the Armed Services Committee. So Congressman, earlier today one of your Republican colleagues,

Congressman Rooney -- Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida, called for a purge at the FBI. This is something he had said before. He said maybe he wasn't artful, but he certainly was talking about really looking at folks who are inside the FBI and the DOJ, and he didn't back off of his criticism there. So just take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: You say you're not trying to discredit the FBI or the Justice Department. I want to talk to you about why you have criticism of them, but first, are you sure you want to be throwing a word like "purge" around?

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: Well, it might be a pretty strong word. I'm not maybe the most nuanced political person in the world coming from a career in business, but I'm pretty frustrated that all the things that have come out by the -- Strzok and Orr and what may or may not have taken place in Deputy General's...

KEILAR: But -- let me stop you there. Strzok -- Mueller removed Strzok. Orr was demoted. I mean, so what's the evidence -- what's the evidence, then, that bias has impacted this investigation when the very data points you're putting there, actually action has been taken against those individuals?

ROONEY: As an American citizen, I'm nervous and discontent that people would have those kinds of lack of impartiality and bad animus as displayed in those e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Congressman, how concerned are you that there is this growing number of Republicans who are joining President Trump in criticism of what are supposed to be impartial institutions, the DOJ and the FBI?

KHANNA: Well, with all due respect to Congressman Rooney, there's probably only one institution that the American citizens want a purge of, and that's the United States Congress.

I mean, we're sitting here with an 11 percent approval rating. We're the last body that should be throwing stones at other institutions.

Fortunately, in this country, people trust the military. They trust law enforcement. They trust the Justice Department. What they don't trust is politicians. And what Congressman Rooney did there and what people are doing in the Trump administration is hurting the credibility of institutions that actually have far more credibility than elected politicians. So it's very sad.

KEILAR: I want to talk to you about politics and ask you, since you've been calling for progressives in your state of California to challenge Senator Dianne Feinstein from the left. Are you considering mounting a challenge to the senator?

KHANNA: No, I'm not. And, look, I have a lot of respect for Senator Feinstein. She's been very strong on issues of gun safety. She has been strong on the issue of DREAMers. I just think it's time for new ideas, a new generation of leadership, and I'm excited about some of the other candidates who may enter the race and who have entered the race. I think every generation should have a chance to lead, and they're...

KEILAR: Like who? Like who? Who are you watching?

KHANNA: There are a couple. Kevin de Leon is an impressive person. He has a very strong record on the environment. He's gotten a strong record on issues of immigration. He's got a vision of job creation and technology. And there may be others. Alison Hartson has run on a pledge of not taking corporate money. So I think there are a lot of new generation leaders in California. I respect Senator Feinstein's service, but I think it's time to give someone else a chance in this state.

[17:25:15] KEILAR: All right. Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you so much for joining us and have a wonderful New Year.

KHANNA: Brianna, thank you. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to everyone.

KEILAR: And coming up, a Republican congressman calls for a purge of the FBI, accusing the FBI, the DOJ of bias against the president. How damaging is that to America's top law enforcement agency? Our specialists will weigh in on that.

And tensions with Kim Jong-un are raising serious security concerns about the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea. Are U.S. athletes and spectators at risk?

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:00] KEILAR: A Florida Republican congressman says his use of the word "purge" may have been pretty strong, but Congressman Francis Rooney tells me he still thinks the FBI and Justice Department should get rid of employee who are politically compromised.

I want to bring in our specialists to talk about this. So David, earlier today we heard from Rooney call -- he had called for this purge from the DOJ and the FBI. And he didn't -- he said it was strong, but he didn't really back off of this, the concept of it. And he's clearly critical, maybe not of Robert Mueller but of his team that he has assembled.

What do you think about this, that Republicans in growing numbers are taking aim at the DOJ and at the FBI and trying to undercut this investigation?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So the idea that there is some dismantling of institutions is not new. It's something actually Donald Trump did much of during his candidacy, as well. I think what you have here is a clear political strategy at play. The

idea is if they can nick away at the credibility of a trusted organization like the FBI, which is intimately involved obviously in the Mueller investigation, that when findings are presented that they don't agree with or that they think are politically damaging, they have called into question the very foundation of those findings. These trusted organizations perhaps should not be so trusted.

And we see it having impact, Brianna, especially among Republicans. The sort of FOX News echo chamber and the president and his allies as they have been spouting these talking points, it is getting a welcome audience among Republicans.

KEILAR: We should add that not all Republicans are taking aim, right?

CHALIAN: Sure.

KEILAR: Marco Rubio has said that he has confidence in Robert Mueller. Robert Mueller is a Republican. He served almost, I think, the entirety of the Bush administration. He is well-respected among Republicans in general.

So then we realize, Juana, that some Republicans, and maybe a growing number, are making this calculation where they're taking aim. Do you think that they are worried about the long-term ramifications of this? I mean, what is -- what is this calculus?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: I think David explained it perfectly. It's this idea that, if there are things that come out of this investigation that they do not like, things that make the party or the president of the United States or the party look bad, they can point and say, you know, "Look, there are these anti-Trump text messages among people in the FBI. Look, there are people who are politically compromised, and as such we can't trust whatever comes out of this investigation."

It's really striking to hear, though, the words the president used earlier in this week in his tweet where he himself called the FBI tainted, speaking about the nation's premier law enforcement agency. And I think that kind of shows you the tone and tenor we are likely to see from the Republicans as they work to chip away at the credibility of this agency, if in fact, this investigation does continue in the weeks and months to come, as we expect it will.

KEILAR: Sam Vinograd with us, CNN national security analyst. Sam, around the world when other countries look at the U.S. and they see this internal friction and the president calling the FBI tainted, what does that do to how the U.S. is perceived?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think that the FBI's credibility is under fire here, because the fact is, Brianna, they continue to do their jobs and to do their jobs very well. A lot of the work that the FBI does isn't public because it's secret and part of ongoing investigations, but we know, for example, that they're having a lot of successes. We saw this, I think, just last week when they foiled a plot in San Francisco, and that's very clear evidence that they're continuing to perform at a very high level.

What I do think is, every time the president tweets discrediting the FBI, his own credibility is taking a hit. There is bipartisan consensus that Russia launched an information warfare campaign to undermine confidence in our institutions and to sow divisions.

Now Russian information warfare and psychological operations against the United States is nothing new. What's new this time around is that the president isn't fighting back and instead, he's doing the very things that the Russian intelligence services are trying to do. He's discrediting the FBI, which ostensibly is part of the information warfare campaign.

KEILAR: I want to switch gears a little bit, David, and talk about this sort of push and pull between what's become kind of the Steve Bannon side of the Republican Party and maybe the establishment side of the Republican Party.

So the -- Steve Bannon has cut tied with Paul Nehlen. He's a far- right activist who is challenging Paul Ryan for his congressional seat. He's received favorable coverage from Breitbart in the past, but Nehlen then escalated racist and anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views. And an advisor to Bannon said, quote, "Nehlen is dead to us."

I wonder what you think about this development and if this has anything to do with, for instance, some of the fallout from Roy Moore, a Bannon-backed candidate who didn't work out.

CHALIAN: Well, I think it's certainly true that Bannon is a pretty image-conscious guy. He understands sort of a brand and how he builds his own image as adviser, as former adviser, as upstart inside the party. There's no doubt about that.

[17:35:11] And I think what you see here is a keen understanding that Bannon has taken on some water, and Breitbart has taken on some water for some past affiliations. And I think this one was a clear example to them. I would -- I don't know this for sure, but I would presume perhaps some of their donors perhaps also called Bannon and said there might be concern here.

But they clearly received some external pressure and saw here that this is not good for the Bannon or Breitbart brand, even though it was somebody they had supported in the past.

KEILAR: Because he has -- Bannon stood by, until the very end, Roy Moore, someone who had multiple very credible accusers, including someone who had been as young as 14 years old accusing him of sexual misconduct. Bannon made a choice to stand by that candidate. But not this one.

SUMMERS: Absolutely. I think to David's point, there is something of a cost-benefit analysis being weighed here, and obviously, the cost was just too great.

This does come as you noted, Brianna, after an escalation of this incendiary rhetoric from this candidate, this challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan. So I think it seems there's been a calculus here. But he wasn't worth the time where they really did stand by Roy Moore until the very end.

KEILAR: All right. I'm going to have you guys stand by with me for much more.

And former President Obama just offered some pertinent social media advice to Britain's Prince Harry and most likely to somebody on this side of the pond, as well. I'm going to get the insights of our panel next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:41:09] KEILAR: And we are back now wig our political and national security specialists. And I want to ask you, Sam, about something that we are hearing.

A senior administration official telling CNN that the Trump administration has decided to be more quiet and more discreet, as they put it, about speaking publicly about joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan. And this is to give space to diplomats as they try to maybe work out a peaceful solution to what is careening towards a potential nuclear crisis with North Korea. What do you think of that decision?

VINOGRAD: I actually think it's a really big mistake. The Russians and the North Koreans for months have been trying to blame the United States' routine annual military exercises with countries like Japan, our rhetoric, our behavior more generally, for the escalating situation on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea's illegal actions are the reasons that we have these annual military drills. And just earlier today Vladimir Putin published an article, yet again talking about our offensive rhetoric and bellicose behavior, and not talking about North Korea's ongoing threat to the international order.

The timing of this announcement is such that now it looks like we're taking cues from Russia about what we talk about and when, and that's never a good thing.

The larger point is, I haven't seen any analysis, when you look back over the decades of North Korean misbehavior, to show that backing away from doing regular military operations and, again, speaking about that professionally is going to change North Korea's behavior.

The administration needs to be relying on intelligence and analysis from the CIA to really make decisions about what is going to change Kim Jong-un's path away from his illegal actions and more towards being in line with his international obligations.

KEILAR: Let's turn now to this very interesting interview that President Obama did with Prince Harry. He doesn't do interviews often, but when he does he does, I guess he them with royalty, right? So he sits down with him. It's an interview from September, but it was aired on BBC Radio today. And he actually talks about the responsibility of leaders -- without naming names -- online. Here's what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question, I think, really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views but doesn't lead to a Balkanization of our society but rather, continues to promote ways of finding common ground? And I'm not sure government can legislate that, but what I do believe is that all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet.

One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.

There may be somebody who you think is diametrically opposed to you when it comes to their political views, but you root for the same sports team or notice that they're really good parents, and that's something that you as a parent care about. And you find areas of common ground because you see that things aren't as simple as had been portrayed in whatever chat room you've been in. And it's also, by the way, harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Seems like he might have wanted to have some words for our current president without naming names there.

SUMMERS: He frequently doesn't make names when he makes these social media critiques. I almost want to bottle that up and take that home. I feel like my step-kids could learn a little bit from that.

It is interesting that you see former President Obama now outside of the Oval Office speaking a little bit more freely in this casual conversation with Prince Harry, you know, being able to kind of speak out a little bit more. Not directly challenging President Donald Trump, but certainly leaving an impact and certainly the impression that he has something to say about the rhetoric that we see coming from the Oval Office today. Very different from what we heard from President Obama, certainly, and his use of social media.

KEILAR: All right. Let's roll the lightning round of questions that were actually pretty fun between the Prince and President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE HENRY CHARLES ALBERT DAVID, UNITED KINGDOM: Harry or William?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: William right now.

(LAUGHTER)

PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Bodyguard"?

OBAMA: "Titanic."

PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife."

OBAMA: "Suits" obviously.

PRINCE HARRY: Great. Great, great answer. Cigarettes or gum?

OBAMA: Gum now, baby.

PRINCE HARRY: Gum. White House or Buckingham Palace.

OBAMA: White House just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow.

PRINCE HARRY: OK, fair enough.

OBAMA: A lot of upkeep.

PRINCE HARRY: Queen or The Queen.

OBAMA: The Queen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Right? He did have the right answers there. OK. So this begs the question, they have a little bit of a bromance --

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, he picked the right answer on "Suits." Let me just say --

KEILAR: I did.

CHALIAN: -- "The Good Wife" is a much better show.

KEILAR: However --

CHALIAN: I think he was just playing with the interview.

KEILAR: -- he was being polite.

CHALIAN: Yes.

KEILAR: Correct, because that is what Meghan Markle is on. This begs the question, though, is this -- they have a little bit of a bromance, right? We know that. He's got an upcoming wedding here, or something I've heard about like that, right?

CHALIAN: Yes.

KEILAR: Prince Harry does. And there is this question of, is President Obama going to be invited because President Trump hasn't yet made a trip? What do you think this portends? They get along very well. They are friends. What do you think?

CHALIAN: Yes, because I have a lot of expertise in royal wedding invitations. KEILAR: You do.

CHALIAN: But here is the thing. Prince Harry --

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: Some people didn't know about you.

CHALIAN: Prince Harry was asked about exactly this when he was promoting the interview today on the BBC, I believe it was. And he said that the invitation list has not been created yet, and he wouldn't want to ruin the surprise. So I guess we all have to wait and see if, indeed, President Obama will get invited.

Clearly, if he got invited, it would be as a friend. Like you said, they have a bromance. It would not be as his role as a former head of state, and -- but you could imagine Donald Trump taking to Twitter and having something to say about that if President Obama was headed to that wedding before he had a formal visit to the U.K. as President.

KEILAR: It's hard to separate friend from president when you were the president.

All right. David Chalian, Juana Summers, thank you so much. And, Sam Vinograd, we appreciate it.

Still ahead, more on this hour's top story. New signs indicating that Kim Jong-un's regime may be preparing for another missile launch.

Plus, Russia accuses the U.S. of meddling in its upcoming presidential election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:56] KEILAR: We're getting new information about very serious security concerns at the upcoming Winter Olympics. The games are being held on the Korean Peninsula right in the backyard of one of America's most dangerous adversaries, Kim Jong-un.

Our Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we're learning that America's top security agencies are gearing up for these Olympics, working with the Olympic committees on how to protect the athletes. There is a unique threat surrounding these Olympics, given Kim Jong-un's aggressive behavior and the fact that the games are being held just 50 miles from his border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): As tensions with Kim Jong-un's regime intensify, U.S. law enforcement and security agencies are ramping up coordination with their South Korean counterparts.

Just weeks before the Winter Olympics, concerns are mounting that North Korea might engage in a violent provocation to disrupt the games, which are being held just 50 miles south of the DMZ.

JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: My concern are softer targets and, obviously, things that North Korea might do to provoke the South Koreans, to attempt to cause either the games being shut down or events being moved or potentially war.

TODD (voice-over): Security experts say soft targets like transportation hubs, schools, and shopping areas could be targeted by the North Koreans during the Olympics. Could athletes from America and elsewhere be in danger? U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hinted at it on Fox when asked if America would send its team to the games.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you feel comfortable sending family members if they were athletes on our team?

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think it depends on what's going on at the time in the country. We have to watch this closely, and it's changing by the day.

TODD (voice-over): But now, the White House and U.S. Olympic Committee say America is planning to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics. Still, there is a unique security threat at these games. The location and razor-sharp tensions over Kim's missile tests have the region on edge.

North Korea has used tunnels to try to insert commandos and frogmen into South Korea for spying and assassinations, and the regime has a history of violence surrounding major South Korean sporting events.

A South Korean airliner was blown up by two North Korean agents in 1987, with all 115 people on board killed. One of the agents was captured and said the bombing was ordered by the North's leaders to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

And during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, North Korean patrol boats engaged in a skirmish with the South, leaving several servicemen on both sides dead.

Analysts say Kim has strong motives for disrupting these Winter Olympics.

PATRICK CRONIN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC SECURITY PROGRAM, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: He is facing the prospect of two years of maximum economic strangulation through sanctions and other law enforcement measures to really cripple his economy. He's going to look for ways to fight back.

One way to fight back is to hurt the South Korean economy. The South Korean economy right now is a hundred percent focused on a successful international Olympic event.

So imagine cyber sabotage. So you don't kill anybody but you just disrupt the economic flow, the transportation flow. You create a headache for the South Korean government. You make the South Koreans look bad. They lose face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[17:55:06] TODD: Analysts say if the North Koreans don't engage in a violent provocation during the Winter Olympics, they're at least likely to send spies into South Korea during the games.

They say the Olympics will offer the North Koreans an opportunity to gain economic intelligence on South Korea, to place sleeper agents there, and to make contact with the North Korean agents they already have in South Korea -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Brian Todd, thank you. And coming up, a CNN investigation. Women groped, fondled, and assaulted aboard commercial airliners with no one coming to their aid. And at 30,000 feet, with no escape.

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