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Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) Virginia Is Interviewed About Trump Piling On Pelosi; Deadline Day; Reversing Course: Biden Flips Abortion Policy After Pressure And Appeals From Staff, Supporters; Dangerous Encounter: U.S. And Russian Warships Nearly Collide; Pentagon Calls North Korea A Rogue State. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news.

Deadline day. President Trump just arriving home as a deadline is looming for him to sign an order authorizing tariffs on Mexico. A source says negotiations did not end well last night, but they've continued all day and the president says there's a good chance for a deal.

Piling on Pelosi. The president steps up his attacks on the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her a disgrace and disgusting for reportedly suggesting he should go to prison instead of being impeached.

Reversing course. We're learning new details of what prompted Joe Biden's dramatic turnaround on federal funding of abortions. How key aides made a direct appeal to the former vice president.

And dangerous encounter. For the third time in recent weeks, Russia challenges U.S. military. This time with a brazen and harrowing near- collision between two naval vessels, caught on video, as Russian sailors sunbathed on their deck.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Breaking news. President Trump returns from overseas, facing a deadline to authorize his punitive tariffs on Mexico. The president tweeted from Air Force One that there's a good chance of reaching a deal, but warned that otherwise, the tariffs will begin Monday. Marathon negotiations continue today with no sign of an agreement. The president is facing a revolt from Republican lawmakers, who fear the impact on the U.S. economy.

Meantime, he's escalating his war with Democrats, tweeting on the way home that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace. Earlier, he called her nasty, vindictive, and horrible for reportedly saying she would rather see him in prison than impeached. But the impeachment push is growing among House Democrats, with more hearings set for next week to highlight findings in the Mueller investigation. I'll speak with Congressman Gerry Connolly of the Oversight Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. President Trump arriving back here in Washington, just moments ago, to face a series of conflicts, most of his own making.

Let's begin with CNN White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, the most pressing issue is the Mexico tariffs and the clock is clearly ticking.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it certainly is. And the two sides have continued to negotiate throughout the day. And now you're seeing the president strike an optimistic tone, but what you're also seeing that's new, Wolf, is the president is now tying this fight to trade issues, rather than Mexico's ability to stop illegal immigration, something that aides have denied for a week, that the two are connected.


COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, the White House is facing a deadline and President Trump is keeping the nation in suspense.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They need us. We don't need them. They need us.


COLLINS: Trump hinting there's "a good chance" he'll make a deal with Mexico and back off his threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on all imported goods. But he added this important caveat. "If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying the tariffs at the 5 percent level on Monday."

It's a decision Trump must make soon. The vice president's chief of staff said the White House will likely take the next steps to move forward with tariffs, but he left the door open to reversing the move if the talks go well.


MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE VICE PRESIDENT: If negotiations continue to go well, that the president can turn that off at some point over the weekend.


COLLINS: In light of the threat, Mexican officials have pledged to deploy 6,000 members of their National Guard to the country's border with Guatemala. But it's unclear if that will be enough for Trump.


TRUMP: I'm asking them for everything. And by the way, if they don't do it, I'm putting the tariffs on.


COLLINS: The president is returning to a Washington filled with angry Republican senators, who say the move will backfire.


TRUMP: Now I have these people and I'm saying, there are some Republicans, too. I think they should be ashamed of themselves.


COLLINS: But even lawmakers who are on his side admit it Is Americans who will pay the price.


REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: Well, obviously, if you're going to have increased tariffs, someone's going to have to pay for them.


COLLINS: Yet the president may have bigger problems on his plate. While overseas, he lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she said privately she would like to see him in prison.


TRUMP: She's a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.


COLLINS: Until recently, Trump has avoided criticizing Pelosi, but this time, he didn't hold back.


TRUMP: She's a disaster and she made a statement. It was a horrible, nasty --

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: When you were overseas.

TRUMP: -- vicious statement while I'm overseas, now if I made any statement about anybody it would be like a big head, why would he do that when he's overseas. She didn't want to - she is a terrible person and I'll tell you her name, it's nervous Nancy because she's a nervous wreck.


COLLINS: He tweeted that the House Speaker "is a disgrace to herself and her family."

[17:05:01] Calls for impeachment are growing on Capitol Hill, as a disappointing new jobs report revealed that only 75,000 jobs were added in May. And hiring slowed while the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6 percent. The Federal Reserve has signaled it would consider a rate cut if it sees weakness in the economy.


TRUMP: I've built an economy that's incredible.


COLLINS: But as he made his way back to the U.S., the president had other things on his mind, and came out against an effort by NASA to return to the moon, tweeting, "We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars, of which the moon is a part, defense, and science." Even though he tweeted just weeks ago touting the efforts to do so. And his vice president recently announced the administration's big plans to return to the moon.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At the direction of the president of the United States, it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.



COLLINS: Now, Wolf, as these Mexican officials are trying to stave off the president's tariff threat, a sign of just how these talks are going, the Mexican delegation has been at the State Department for eight hours now. We saw them entering around 8:55 a.m. this morning, and now we are still being told that they are there, though we're not being updated on what exactly the state of those talks is right now.

Of course, you can see the president. He just landed back in Washington. He'll be on his way to the White House soon. And this whole deal is going to be up to the president and the decision he makes, and there's a chance we could hear from him when he gets back to the White House, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see if he does stop and speaks with reporters on the south lawn of the White House, once Marine One lands. That should be fairly soon. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thank you.

Let's go to Capitol Hill right now, CNN Congressional Correspondent, Phil Mattingly on the scene for us.

Phil, how will the feud between the president and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impact all the growing calls for impeachment proceedings?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, one thing Democratic officials have told me as I've talked to them throughout the day is there's nothing that unifies the Democratic caucus like a fight between their speaker, their leader, Nancy Pelosi, and the president of the United States, who many of whom would like to see out of office yesterday at this point. And that's essentially what you've seen right now, this battle back and forth between the president, between the speaker on rhetorical grounds.

But keep in mind, part of this is also a rhetorical smoke screen. The speaker making very clear despite the growing number of members of her caucus that want an impeachment inquiry to be opened now, that she does not believe that's the proper path. She believes they should continue their ongoing investigations and if the evidence becomes clear, if the public support becomes clear, if Republican support starts to come to fruition, then perhaps they will go down that route.

So, anything that might unify the Democratic caucus behind the speaker is something - the speaker and her team would certainly welcome, but the rhetorical battle has certainly escalated and no signs of ending anytime soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: All of this comes, Phil, as House Democrats are adding yet more hearings on the Mueller report and the Attorney General William Barr, faces two separate actions from the Hill next week. What's the strategy?

MATTINGLY: Wolf, next week is going to provide a crystal-clear window into Speaker Pelosi and her top deputy's strategy in terms of their non-impeachment investigation proceedings. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold their first hearing on the Mueller report.

The House Intelligence Committee is planning to hold a hearing on the intelligence -- the underlying intelligence section and counterintelligence piece of the Mueller report as well. They announced today with two former FBI officials coming into testify.

You have the full House contempt vote for Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, where they will officially find him in contempt of the whole House. Don McGahn, the former White House counsel will also be voted on, on Tuesday. And then at some point next week, the House Oversight Committee will vote on their contempt charges for William Barr, related to him not responding or complying with the subpoena, related to an immigration question that was added to the census.

And what this all underscores here is Democrats trying to make the point that they are doing things to elevate the Mueller report. They are doing things to elevate their investigations into President Trump, even if they are not, at this point in time, pursuing impeachment.

The biggest question, though, Wolf, will that be enough, given where so many of their members, right now we have the number at about 59, not in a majority in the caucus, just about 25 percent, but it has grown over the course of the last couple of weeks, calling for that impeachment inquiry. Will what they do next week start to kind of cut off that flow, or will it only grow, given the tensions that are really escalating between the House and the White House still to this day, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly are escalating. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia, he serves on the Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman thanks so much for joining us. And let me get your quick reaction --

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Good to be with you.

BLITZER: The president, as you know, is lashing out at Nancy Pelosi for saying she wants to see him go to prison rather than see him impeached. First of all, do you think it was appropriate for the speaker to say she wants to see the president in prison?

[17:10:02] CONNOLLY: One would have to ask her request that question. I think she was responding to a demand for an impeachment inquiry and she was saying, I don't want to do that, I want to have him in a court of law after he leaves the White House and hopefully that's next year.

I will say this, Wolf. It's ironic that this got under Trump's skin so rapidly and so vehemently, when he he's the guy at rally after rally who called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up.

BLITZER: And he's also called for other senior Obama administration officials to be locked up and accusing some of them actually of committing treason. But here's the question. Would you like to see President Trump in prison?

CONNOLLY: We have to see what plays out. I will say this. Robert Mueller in his report all but invited a prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against the president once he leaves the White House. He actually -- all but says that in the report, and he lays out 10 instances of a crime of obstruction of justice that the president may very well have committed.

So I don't think it's something that's farfetched with respect to Trump's future. But right now, we need to be focused on the investigations that are underway and dealing with an administration that at times is almost unhinged, at least coming out of the White House.

BLITZER: Well, I want to move on, but I just want to be precise on this. You don't think it's farfetched to see the president of the United States eventually wind up in jail?

CONNOLLY: I don't think it's farfetched that he would face charges, criminal charges, in a court of law. Whether he goes to jail or not, that's another question. I'm not going to pre-judge that in advance.

BLITZER: The Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a man you know well, he's been privately pushing for a formal impeachment process, an inquiry in part because he believes it would allow lawmakers to combine all the various House probes into one big investigation. Does the chairman have the wrong idea or the right idea?

CONNOLLY: I understand why Jerry Nadler is coming at the question the way he is. And a case can be made -- a solid case can be made for his argument. I think we are still, though, as your reporting just before this interview pointed out, we're still sort of in the mid-level here in investigations.

We've got hearings this week by three major committees. We've got two contempt citations, one by the full House, one by our committee that have yet to occur. So I think we need to let the process play out before we decide that impeachment is the remedy.

BLITZER: Because here's what's a little confusing to me. And you'll explain your position. If there's actual evidence, as you believe there is, that the president may have committed a crime, wouldn't the appropriate venue at least right now be for examining that evidence as part of a formal impeachment inquiry?

CONNOLLY: I think, certainly, examining the evidence is what we're doing and that's appropriate. It doesn't have to be in the context of an impeachment inquiry yet. There are those who have argued that we should have an impeachment inquiry because it evaluate ours status in various federal district courts to enforce subpoenas.

I oppose that logic, because I think that significantly dilutes the value of the subpoena in its own right. Courts ought to be upholding legally issued subpoenas and not require that we meet the highest threshold, which is impeachment. Otherwise, in the future, the only subpoenas that are going to be enforced, apparently, will be those that touch upon impeachment. I think that's a very, very difficult standard to meet and that's a precedent I don't want to set.

BLITZER: Should the speaker have the final say, Congressman, on whether or not Democrats open an impeachment process?

CONNOLLY: No. I believe the speaker's voice carries great weight and right now, it certainly does with our caucus, as Phil mentioned in the reporting earlier, about 25 percent of the caucus favors moving immediately to impeachment, but 75 percent don't. And I think there's a level of patience and caution in heeding the words of the speaker. But this seems to have an almost an inexorable direction. And if we get to a tilting point where a majority of the caucus favors an impeachment inquiry, that's what we're going to do.

BLITZER: You also sit on the House Oversight Committee, Congressman. The chairman of that committee, Elijah Cummings, is threatening to hold the Attorney General William Barr and the Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, in contempt for failing to turn over documents related to a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 census. What specific information are you looking for and do you believe that the threat of a contempt citation will force these officials to comply?

[17:15:06] CONNOLLY: Well, I certainly hope so. There are several pieces here that have been to be clarified. Wilbur Ross basically made an assertion before Congress in previous testimony that he added the citizenship question for the first time since 1950 to the census, at the urging and the direction of the Department of Justice. There are now documents that contradict that that in fact show that he himself was the one urging the Department of Justice to support the addition of that question.

We also have now some evidence that some of this pushing came directly from political operatives in the White House itself and Attorney General Barr is basically protecting that - protecting them. And so this subpoena is designed to compel cooperation in the production of documents that shed light on those concerns, those issues. And help clarify what did happen, why did it happen, and ultimately how did this question get added to the census, when we know that by doing that, you're going to significantly impair compliance with the census survey, which is so critical for states in terms of federal resources and indeed representation in the Congress.

BLITZER: Congressman Connolly, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, so what's behind Joe Biden's dramatic reversal on federal funding of abortions? New information on the reason for his turnaround. We have that, also.

Once again, Russia challenges the U.S., this time a very brazen intercept at sea, causing a near-collision between two naval vessels.


[17:21:49] BLITZER: Our breaking news. President Trump heading back to the White House right now after spending the week overseas, spent much of his trip home tweeting, including a new round of name calling aimed directly at the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Let's bring in our political and legal analysts. We'll discuss where this fight is heading.

And Gloria Borger, listen to the president lashing out at the Speaker Nancy Pelosi after news emerged that she had reportedly said she really doesn't want to see him impeached, she wants to see him imprisoned. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I think she's a disgrace. I actually don't think she's a talented person. I've tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She's incapable of doing deals. She's a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.

And she made a statement. It was a horrible, nasty --

INGRAHAM: When you were overseas...

TRUMP: -- vicious statement while I'm overseas, now if I made any statement about anybody it would be like a big head, why would he do that when he's overseas. She didn't want to - she is a terrible person and I'll tell you her name, it's nervous Nancy because she's a nervous wreck.


BLITZER: What's your analysis? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to know where to begin. But let's start with him saying, well, if I made any statement like that while I was overseas, and then he went on to make a statement like that. He went on to call her a name. He went on to say she's a nervous wreck, nervous Nancy, on and on, in a completely inappropriate spot, I might add.

And I mean how can you even react to this anymore? It's clear to me -- and first of all, I'm not one who believes that Nancy Pelosi should have said the equivalent of "lock him up," that he should be in handcuffs and all the rest, I'm not for that. But I think that it takes a lot of chutzpah, as we say, for the president of the United States whose bumper sticker used to be "lock her up" to complain about Nancy Pelosi effectively saying the same thing.

And look, I don't know where this goes. She's clearly getting under his skin, but this kind of rhetoric is only going to get worse, I fear, as the moves for impeachment continue.

BLITZER: And it wasn't that long ago, Jackie, when they seemed to have, Nancy Pelosi and President Trump, a relatively cordial relationship, as if they could work together. He would say nice things, she would go over to the White House, but that deteriorated pretty quickly. And what happened?

JACKIE ALEMANY, AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST'S POWER UP: You know, it remains to be seen what happened. The president is often pretty reactionary to these kinds of comments, but at the end of the day, I think this is exactly what the president wants. You know, I talked to a bunch of staffers who have been involved with a lot of the conversations with House leadership about impeachment, and they were quite frankly pretty confused about Pelosi's prison comments.

Some of them were happy, because it obviously reinvigorates the conversation, keeps it going, keeps people moving potentially towards impeachment, but a lot of them believe that at this point, if Speaker Pelosi is interested in pushing the conversation towards the issues, talking about, you know, Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned and really consequential things playing out in the Democratic Party right now, that a comment like prison just allows Trump to distract, to control the media, and change the topic.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction, April Ryan.

[17:25:00] Because it wasn't that long ago, November 10th, I looked it up, 2018, when you asked the president of the United States a question and he didn't like the question, he called you "nasty" and a "loser," despite the fact that you've been reporting for the White House for more than 20 years. So when you hear all of these insults of the speaker, what goes through your mind?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not a loser, number one, and I'm not nasty. Wolf, this president uses nasty like it's a four-letter word, but it is five letters. There is litany of people that he has called nasty. To include Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, also his new best friend, Lindsey Graham, OK? So the day that he called me nasty was a couple of days after I had asked him the question about voter suppression, the day after the midterm election. It was a legitimate and real question. He didn't want to answer. Nancy Pelosi, he's calling nasty, he needs to qualify why. She's nasty, why?

Because she says he needs to go to prison. She may have information that we don't have. And there are investigations that are getting ready to happen. So the bottom line, this president uses the word "nasty" more than Janet Jackson sings that song "Nasty."

BLITZER: We all remember that song. Go ahead, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, he's never called me nasty or a loser and I am nasty and a loser.



ALEMANY: You're also a man.

TOOBIN: My favorite part -- I mean, like the surreal aspect, Gloria sort of alluded to it, did you see where he was sitting?! He's in front of the graves of the American soldier who's died at D-Day.

RYAN: Yes. Yes.

TOOBIN: I mean is there any place that is less appropriate for a conversation like that?

RYAN: That's sacred space, sacred ground.

TOOBIN: Oh, and Laura Ingraham is like, oh, my goodness, it was on foreign soil. Isn't that just so terrible? I mean the whole thing is like, I mean, this is like a movie. I mean, look at this. This is like -- I mean, it's just grotesque.

RYAN: It is.

BORGER: I mean why would you set up a political interview there? I mean, it's just --

RYAN: That's holy ground. That is sacred ground. You shouldn't do that.

BORGER: It's just stunning. And then have this discussion and using names and about domestic politics and -- wrong time, wrong time.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around. A lot more on all the breaking news right after this.


BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. And, Gloria, after several days of pretty sharp criticism from other

Democratic presidential candidates for still supporting a ban on federal funding for abortions, the former Vice President, Joe Biden, all of a sudden last night, had a reversal. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have supported the Hyde Amendment like many, many others have because there were sufficient moneys and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right. Women of color, poor women, women who are not able to have access.

And it was -- it was not under attack as it was then as it is now. But circumstances have changed.


BLITZER: What do you make of his explanation?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, his explanation is that the world is different and that because women are being denied in state after state after state the right to have an abortion because of state legislatures, that he has flipped.

However, he could have understood this a while ago. His campaign should have seen that this -- there were red flags all around on this issue among Democratic voters, in particular.

And it tells you an awful lot about the state of the campaign. This was very awkward for him. This wasn't an evolution in any way, shape, or form.

I think this was an overnight conversion when it should have been something that they had thought about and then announced at some point. And not only after he'd been attacked by fellow Democrats.

BLITZER: Because his campaign insists this was an evolution, a very principled change of heart. Do you believe that?

JACKIE ALEMANY, ANCHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST'S "POWER UP": You know, it's impossible for me to judge Joe Biden's motivations here. But as David Axelrod pointed out, it really was a very clear flip-flop-flip.

He told an ACLU volunteer earlier in May that he was in favor for appealing the Hyde Amendment. Then they told NBC News, actually, he still supported it in alignment with, you know, his 30-year career -- 30 years in politics.

And then all of a sudden last night, under extreme pressure, sharp criticism and, you know, in the wake of a lot of political movement in state legislators with regards to implementing some of the strictest laws in abortion, he changed his mind.

So it looks pretty politically expedient in the minds of voters, I think, that, you know, all of -- suddenly, just under an increased amount of pressure, you know, there's a complete U-turn.

But I think that the campaign ultimately decided it was an untenable decision, especially with female voters going to be a crucial key to winning the primary.

BLITZER: That's an important -- an important point here because, April, Arlette Saenz, our correspondent, she covers the Biden campaign. She has learned that women on the Biden campaign, especially women of color, played a very significant role in convincing the former Vice President to come out and oppose what's called the Hyde Amendment.

RYAN: Well, Wolf, the late great Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for president in 1972, said if you don't have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. Well, those women of color had their folding chair.

[17:35:03] And it's good that there's diversity to bring the issues to the forefront to be able to talk to the candidate and say, look, this is what's happening, and this is what's needed or this is not what's needed. Especially when it comes to the Black community that has the highest numbers of negatives in almost every category.

And when you look at those who are on Medicaid, look at the numbers, women, primarily minority women, women of color. So they brought this issue to the table at a time when there are challenges to Roe v. Wade.

And it needed to be done, so he could really see what was on the table, to see all parts, all parts of the spectrum, on this very sensitive and controversial topic.

BLITZER: Do you think that the --

TOOBIN: You know, Wolf --

BLITZER: Jeffrey, go ahead, make your point --

TOOBIN: Well, it's just what's --

BLITZER: -- because I have a specific question for you.

TOOBIN: What's so interesting about what's going on now is we're seeing the stakes of the 2020 election. The Republican Party is moving right on abortion. No more exceptions for rape, no more exceptions for incest.

RYAN: Incest.

TOOBIN: Prosecution in Georgia possible of the women who seek abortions, not just the doctors.

The Democratic Party is moving left. It's not just like Bill Clinton said, you know, abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. He's -- they're saying this is a key part of health care, and the government should pay for it.

The parties have never been farther apart on the issue of abortion, and that's what's at stake in the 2020 election.

BLITZER: Well, do you believe, Jeffrey, that all the state-level anti-abortion legislation that's moving through these various states, the new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, in effect, forced Joe Biden to change his mind?

TOOBIN: No, I don't -- I think politics forced Joe Biden to change his mind, but I think the new Supreme Court majority is what persuaded these states to change their laws.


TOOBIN: Because they know that when Donald Trump ran for president, he said, I am going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

And what he meant by that was he was going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who were going to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and that's what they're going to do. Sooner rather than later.

BLITZER: All right, everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following, including some very harrowing video that shows U.S. and Russian warships nearly colliding. Tonight, both sides are blaming each other. Do the pictures, though, reveal which ship is at fault?

And later, another blast of angry name-calling from Kim Jong-un's regime after a Pentagon report labels North Korea a rogue state.


BLITZER: Tonight, the United States and Russia are blaming each other after two warships nearly collided in the Pacific. The incident was caught on video.

Let's bring in CNN's Alex Marquardt. Alex, show us more of what happened.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Tonight, the Russians are claiming that the U.S. ship suddenly changed its direction, but the U.S. Navy has put out photographic evidence that, it says, clearly shows that it was the Russian vessel that made a deliberate, aggressive maneuver in the Philippine Sea out in the Pacific Ocean.

This incident, which, of course, is in China's backyard comes not just as tensions are high between Moscow and Washington but also as China and Russia grow closer against American interests.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): A brazen challenge, this Russian destroyer, according to the U.S. Navy, coming within 100 feet of the USS Chancellorsville. The American sailors recording the latest potentially deadly provocation by the Russian military.

The incident taking place in international waters in the Philippine Sea, just south of the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Russian action came as the U.S. cruiser was trying to land a helicopter on its deck, giving it even less maneuverability than usual.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: You have to be on a set course and a set speed so that the winds across the deck are safe for the helicopter to land.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Boxed in, the captain performs an emergency maneuver called an all engines back full.

KIRBY: You're basically throwing that ship into reverse while it's moving forward at 15 to 18 miles an hour, would be my guess. It's 10,000 tons of metal moving through the water. It's not going to stop quickly. And as the ship reacts to that order, as the propellers shift direction, the whole ship is going to shudder.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): While the Russians blame the U.S. for the incident, this photo from above contradicts that, according to Navy officials who say that the wake curving behind the Russian ship on the left could only be created from a steep turn at high speed.

Today, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan saying he will protest the incident to Moscow.

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The unsafe, unprofessional acts have certainly put our men and women at risk.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The ships so close together that Russian sailors could even be seen onboard appearing to be sunbathing on the back of their ship despite the severity of their encounter.

The incident coming as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. The two enjoying a more leisurely boat ride in Saint Petersburg yesterday.

As the two countries grow friendlier, analysts say this latest incident could signal a new dimension to the Russian threat.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You're looking at the kinds of things that they can -- that they can do in concert with the Chinese to challenge the U.S. And if it means helping the Chinese out in the Pacific, they will do so.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The near collision coming after two other tense interactions with the Russian military. Three days ago, the U.S. accused Russia of intercepting a U.S. aircraft three times in international air space over the Mediterranean Sea.

[17:45:05] And last month, the U.S. intercepted Russian bombers and fighter jets in international air space off the coast of Alaska.


MARQUARDT: The U.S. ship had spotted the Russian destroyer in the area keeping its distance until this incident. Now, under international maritime law, ships are supposed to give each

other much wider berth, around 1,000 yards, and not interfere when a naval vessel is conducting flight operations as this American cruiser was -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a pretty dangerous situation. Alex Marquardt reporting for us. Alex, thanks very much.

Coming up, there's a new Pentagon report out that labels North Korea a rogue state, and that has provoked a new blast of name-calling from Kim Jong-un's regime.


[17:50:29] BLITZER: Kim Jong-un's regime is lashing out after a Pentagon study described North Korea as a, quote, rogue state.

Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, I understand that triggered pretty angry warning from the North Koreans.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, it does not take much to trigger North Korea's fury, but that's a new Pentagon report and its language have brought a serious backlash.

A key question tonight, did the Pentagon have to use that specific language given the very delicate state of the nuclear talks right now?


TODD (voice-over): From Kim Jong-un's regime, an angry brushback at America's military, the dictator's news agency accuses the Pentagon of a provocation of, quote, an aggressive attempt to bring us to our knees by force.

Their fury directed at a new Pentagon strategy report for the Pacific Region, which, in its North Korea section, calls the regime a rogue state.

JOSEPH DETRANI, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SIX-PARTY TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA: The North Koreans will look for any reason to say they're not happy.

TODD (voice-over): The new Pentagon report lays out the threat from North Korea's missile tests and the claims that Pyongyang sends nuclear technology to other rogue regimes.

North Korea's news agency says what the report means is that the Americans are using nuclear talks as a feint to invade and overthrow Kim.

SOO KIM, POLICY ANALYST, RAND CORPORATION: The rhetoric has been upped. And that's very typical for North Korea to do, to use various tools that they have at their -- within their kit to pressure the United States.

TODD (voice-over): Next week is the one-year anniversary of President Trump's summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-un when Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization. But tonight, much of the optimism from that historic diplomatic breakthrough has unraveled.

The second summit in Hanoi ended with a Trump walkout and no new deal which, analysts say, angered and embarrassed the dictator. Kim's regime tested short-range ballistic missiles in recent weeks and has issued several aggressive hostile statements aimed at the Trump administration.

Should the Pentagon have not used the phrase, "rogue state," to describe North Korea given the delicacy of where we stand?

DETRANI: The diplomats will say, look, we're in sensitive negotiations right now. Maybe you could tone the language down, at least when you're describing North Korea. That's a good give-and- take.

TODD (voice-over): The White House isn't commenting on the language of the Pentagon report and whether the Trump team thinks it undermines Trump's relationship with Kim. A Pentagon spokesman tells CNN the report and the title speak for themselves.

And former envoy Joe DeTrani says it's certainly fair for the Pentagon to call out North Korea's recent bad behavior.

DETRANI: Look, as we speak, North Korea is producing more fissile material. Obviously, they're weaponizing their fissile material. They just launched some short-range ballistic missiles. They're not stopping.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say a personal letter or call between Trump and Kim could reenergize the relationship, which Trump still seems receptive to.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that Chairman Kim would like to make a deal, and I'd like to make a deal with him. I look forward to seeing him at the appropriate time.


TODD: Analysts are worried that all of this tension and the rhetoric from North Korea that seems to get more harsh with each new message from Pyongyang, well, that it all comes with some ominous timing.

North Korea has given the Trump team an ultimatum to change its calculations by the end of this year. Trump is facing a re-election campaign where he can't afford to be seen as backing down from North Korea.

Experts say if these two sides don't figure out soon how to get back to the table, that re-election campaign could play out against the backdrop of some very serious military tension, Wolf.

BLITZER: But Kim Jong-un has to be worried, I suppose, has to be worried himself about the possibility of President Trump's re-election and the timing of all of this. TODD: Right, Wolf. One diplomat says that Kim, he believes, is

desperate to make a deal with the Trump team soon, within months probably.

He says Kim has to be worried about Trump's re-election bid. That he may feel that, one way or another, after next year's presidential election, Kim's window for getting a deal is going to slam shut whether Trump is in office or not.

BLITZER: Lots at stake. Brian Todd reporting. Thank you.

Coming up, the breaking news. President Trump, he's now back at the White House after his European trip facing a looming deadline to sign an order authorizing tariffs on Mexico.

Negotiations, they have continued all day here in Washington. The President says there's still a good chance for a deal.

Plus, the suspect in an alleged terror plot targeting New York City's Times Square goes to court as authorities reveal frightening details of what he allegedly wanted to do.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Trump's deadline. The President returns to the White House with the clock ticking and his administration still threatening new tariffs on Mexico. Will he take action tonight, ignoring protests from fellow Republicans?

[17:59:58] Nasty battle. Mr. Trump is escalating his war of words with Nancy Pelosi, calling the House Speaker nasty and a reported desire to see him in prison disgusting.