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Interview With Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA); Trump Is Touting His North Korea Trip Tonight As New York Times Reports U.S. May Settle For Nuke Freeze By Kim; White House Defends Ivanka Trump's High-Profile G20 Involvement. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump cozies up to Kim Jong-un inside North Korea, after getting warm and fuzzy with Vladimir Putin and other strongmen at the G20.

Tonight, critics are demanding to know why Mr. Trump keeps treating brutal dictators with kid gloves.

First diplomat? Ivanka Trump's expanding presence on the international stage is under fresh scrutiny, after she seems to butt into a conversation of world leaders. Is she taking her role as an unpaid adviser to her father too far?

And star pitcher dies. We're getting new details on the sudden death of a player on the Los Angeles Angels. The team is in mourning tonight, as their game has been postponed.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on significant tightening in the Democratic presidential race.

CNN's just-released poll shows Joe Biden's lead is now down to 5 percentage points, his support shrinking after his less-than-strong showing in the first round of debates. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, they have made steep gains, with Harris moving into second place, after she confronted Biden on racial issues during the debate.

Also tonight, Biden and other 2020 Democrats are blasting President Trump's photo-op with Kim Jong-un inside North Korea, accusing him of legitimizing a murderous tyrant with almost nothing to show for it, this as "The New York Times" reports the Trump administration is weighing a new concession to Kim, potentially settling for a freeze of his nuclear weapons, instead of full denuclearization.

I will get reaction from a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly.

And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First to CNN's Phil Mattingly with more on the 2020 Democrats and CNN's exclusive new poll.

Phil, the first round of debates clearly appear to have had a dramatic impact on this race.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, the number one question anybody asks heading into a debate is, will this have a significant impact on the current dynamics of the race? And the answer, according to the new CNN poll, at least this moment, in this snapshot, is most definitely yes.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, in the first CNN poll since the first Democratic debate, a dramatic tightening in the race. Joe Biden no longer a double-digit front-runner, dropping 10 points since May, and now just five points ahead of the field, And Senator Kamala Harris jumping nine points to 17 percent, fresh off this explosive debate exchange with Biden over busing.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California who was part of the second glass to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

MATTINGLY: Harris is trailed closely by Senator Warren at 15 percent, who had an eight-point jump of her own. Senator Bernie Sanders also losing ground, dropping four points for May and now sitting at 14 percent.

For Harris, the numbers further boost her campaign's momentum. She utilized her debate performance to raise more than $2 million in just the 24 hours after the exchange with Biden, according to her campaign. Harris also added two new endorsements to her portfolio, Representatives Bobby Rush and Frederica Wilson, members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg sits a distant fifth in the new CNN poll at 4 percent, but had his own show of force Monday...


MATTINGLY: ... $24.8 million raised in his second quarter, cementing himself in the top tier of the crowded Democratic presidential primary field when it comes to campaign cash.

That's more than triple what he raised a quarter prior, from nearly 300,000 individual donors and nearly $23 million cash on hand. Buttigieg's first out-of-the-gate number now becomes the barometer for other top-tier candidates.

Today, Biden's campaign sent an e-mail to supporters saying they -- quote -- "blew our fund-raising goal out of the water." Biden's team did not release a specific dollar amount yet. All as Harris continued to receive unified support from her Democratic

challengers after this tweet from Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, that seized on a lie perpetrated on social media that Harris' Jamaican and Indiana descent meant she was not black.

Trump Jr. deleted the tweet, but not before candidates like Sanders leveled this harsh charge: "Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too," Sanders tweeted. "Shocker."


MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, spokesman for the Harris campaign compared it to Donald Trump's attacks, birther attacks, false birther attacks, on President Barack Obama, saying it didn't work then, it won't work now.

As for Don Jr., Wolf, a spokesman says it was a misunderstanding and once he realized people were misconstruing the intent of the tweet, he quickly deleted it -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

We are going to have much more, full analysis on all of these numbers. That's coming up. The Democratic presidential race clearly tightening as we move forward.

But now to President Trump's historic and very controversial visit with Kim Jong-un at the North Korean border. There are new concerns tonight that President Trump now may be preparing to make new concessions to Kim Jong-un.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, the president spoke just a little while ago. He's touting his trip to North Korea as a success, and he's also warning Iran that it's playing with fire.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. President Trump took questions from reporters moments ago in the Oval Office, Wolf.

He said Iran, as you pointed out, is playing with fire, and that any trade deal with China would be tilted in America's favor. And the president also continued to boast about his history-making trip.


BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, President Donald Trump back at the White House, tweeting: "There wasn't a thing missing or a mistake that was made. Perfect," on the heels of the G20 and his monumental surprise visit to North Korea, where he had an impromptu meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER: I have never expected to meet you at this place. If you take a step forward, you will be the first U.S. president to cross this line.

BROWN: Trump taking 20 steps into North Korea, making him the first sitting American president to set foot in the hermit kingdom. He was greeted by the smiling Kim Jong-un.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my honor. I didn't really expect it. Stepping across that line was a great honor.

BROWN: The two leaders met for almost an hour, agreeing to restart negotiations on a long elusive nuclear agreement. The president even suggested Kim Jong-un should visit the White House, all of this as "The New York Times" is reporting the U.S. may be willing to agree to a nuclear freeze, which would pause further weapons development in North Korea, but allow it to keep existing weapons.

This would be a reversal for the Trump administration's previous goal of complete denuclearization by North Korea. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton slammed the report, tweeting: "I read this 'New York Times' story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea. This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the president. There should be consequences."

Bolton, who has been a strong advocate for full denuclearization of North Korea, was in Mongolia and not present for Trump's meeting with Kim. After the Kim meeting, the president took aim at the Obama administration and its inability to get a meeting with Kim, according to Trump.

TRUMP: President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him. The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly. And Chairman Kim would not meet with him.

BROWN: That prompted a sharp rebuttal from former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice with this tweet, this happening the same day that Iran has exceeded its uranium stockpile limit set in the 2015 Obama administration nuclear deal with Iran.

The move is Tehran's first major breach of the accord since Trump withdrew from the agreement last year. The deal limited Iran's uranium enrichment, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. Trump's meeting with Kim came after several days of cozying up to other dictators and strongmen at the G20, including Saudi Crown Prince MBS.

TRUMP: You have done really a spectacular job.

BROWN: China's President Xi.

TRUMP: And we have become friends.

BROWN: Turkey's President Erdogan.

TRUMP: My honor to be with a friend of mine.

BROWN: And Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he joked about with election interference.

TRUMP: Don't meddle in the election, please.


BROWN: Also today, President Trump reiterated his administration is looking at delaying the census after the Supreme Court put the citizenship question on the census on hold.

Now, the president doubled down on his belief that it's important to find out if someone is a citizen. But, Wolf, it's unclear how exactly it would work in terms of delaying the census. The Constitution requires a census every 10 years.

And the president's own DOJ have been arguing for weeks to the court that you can't delay the census -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thank you, Pamela Brown over at the White House

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly. He serves on both the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees.

Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Great to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you were a staffer. You worked with Joe Biden when he was a senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You worked for him for 10 years. You have advocated for him, but you really haven't endorsed him yet.

What do you think of these new numbers that show a pretty dramatic decline? You see the numbers right there. He was at 32 percent in May. After the debates, he's now down to 22 percent.

CONNOLLY: I think his performance, candidly, was very disappointing. And I think he was not crisp. He seemed ill-prepared for questions that surely his debate team knew were coming.


And I think he could have had a lot better response to the attacks that were launched against him. So he's going to have to up his game if he's going to win this nomination and demonstrate to Democratic voters that he's the guy who has the energy and the intellect and the will to take on Donald Trump.

BLITZER: You think Democratic primary voters are looking for someone who's more in line, shall we say, with the challenges facing a younger generation?

CONNOLLY: I don't know that age really defines this election. You know, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are all in their 70s.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Warren is 70 as well. CONNOLLY: And Elizabeth Warren.

So I don't think age is the issue. But I do think, do you get it? Are you in tune with the zeitgeist, you know, the sign of the times and the spirit of the times? Do you understand the issues that are affecting millennials, people of color, the changing demographics in America, as well as the...


BLITZER: So how does Biden turn this around?

CONNOLLY: Well, look, I think we can't read too much into one debate with a very constricted format.

I mean, you had 45 seconds to sum up who you are and why you're running for president. That's kind of absurd. And so he's a much more complex character, as are the other candidates. And they're going to have an opportunity in the campaign.

BLITZER: But when the moderators saw a significant debate emerging, they allowed it to go beyond the 45 seconds or one-minute segments. They let it breathe.

CONNOLLY: Yes, that's right.

The second night was better than the first in that respect, I thought.

BLITZER: Let's get to the other major news we're following right now. The president actually walking, taking a few steps into North Korea along the demilitarized zone, and was very effusive, in his praise, he was very upbeat. What do you think he has to show for that?

CONNOLLY: Nothing.

I mean, that is the sordid, sad fact about the Trump foreign policy. He has nothing to show for his engagement with Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong- un has a lot to show for it in terms of raising his stature and evaluating the importance of North Korea, not only in the region, but, frankly, in the world.

I think it is devastating to learn today from "The New York Times" that there was any discussion about anything short of complete denuclearization as the goal in our diplomacy with respect to North Korea.

And the irony of that is, here's the same president and administration who criticized the Iran nuclear agreement that rolled back Iran's nuclear capability, not froze it.

BLITZER: Isn't it better to talk to adversaries and see if there can be some positive dialogue emerge, rather than snub them completely?


However, that has to be prepared for. There has to be a set of goals. You have got to really do your homework, and you don't put the credibility of the presidency on the line first. That's a reward once we have arrived at a certain juncture with respect to the negotiations.

And we're now seeing the damage this impulsive, sort of off-the-cuff kind of foreign policy is doing.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on Iran right now, because the Iranians have now publicly said they're going to increase their uranium enrichment, going beyond the commitment they made in the Iran nuclear deal that the president walked away from.

And he just said in an answer to a question from reporters, the uraniums are now playing with fire.

Playing with fire. Do you see that as a threat?

CONNOLLY: Well, it's clearly a threat, but is it an empty threat?

He's made so many threats, originally against North Korea, now his new buddy, against Venezuela, against Iran, among others, China, that it seems like an empty threat. So, you know, if I were Iran, I wouldn't be particularly worried about threats coming from this president. I would be worried about the effect of sanctions on their economic situation.

BLITZER: He says those sanctions are going to continue full speed ahead. Let's see what happens.

Congressman Connolly, as usual, thanks for coming on.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, so, what's next for Joe Biden, as our new poll shows him losing ground against his rivals after the first debate? Can he stop the slide?

And is Ivanka Trump crossing a line, as she inserts herself into conversations with world leaders?



BLITZER: The breaking news, our exclusive new CNN poll on the Democratic presidential contenders just released, and is showing Joe Biden's lead shrinking following the first debate, and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on the rise.

Let's dig deeper with our correspondents and our analysts.

And, David Chalian, let's put the numbers up on the screen. You can see right now where they are now, as opposed to where they were in May. Biden has gone down from 32 percent to 22 percent. He's lost 10 points. Kamala Harris, she's gone up from 8 to 17, Elizabeth Warren up from 7 to 15, Bernie Sanders down from 18 to 14, Buttigieg down from 5 to 4 percent, everyone else 3 percent or much, much lower.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, this is a shuffled Democratic nomination race, in the sense that the dynamic had been that Joe Biden was in a league of his own for the last several months. That is no longer the case.


What you see there is a top tier of four candidates at this snapshot in time, and this is one poll. Right? We will see as other polls come out. But in this snapshot, it shows a four-way, very competitive race for the nomination.

Joe Biden's lead, as you said, has narrowed significantly, and you mentioned, Wolf, the debate. Yes, this poll was taken entirely after both of those debates were completed. And, in fact, we asked people, who do you think won the debate? Among the debate watchers and those that followed the news of the debate, Kamala Harris, far and away, 41 percent of folks said that she was the clear debate winner.

BLITZER: She was impressive in that debate.

Jeffrey Toobin, let's talk a little bit about another question that we asked in our brand-new poll. We asked people which candidate they were most interested in learning more about. And Kamala Harris topped that list as well, followed by Elizabeth Warren, and then Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro.

What does that tell you?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think we have to remember that, you know, not everybody is a political junkie and not everybody has been following the race as closely as we have.

And if you look at those names, you know, those are people who are by and large unfamiliar to the national public. You know, Kamala Harris, she's new. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and to a certain extent Elizabeth Warren have been national figures in the past.

And when you combine Harris' obviously very strong performance in the debate with the fact that she's not as nationally known as the others, it's not surprising, but certainly good news for her, that there's all of this curiosity about her.

BLITZER: David Swerdlick, it shows that things can change rather dramatically, especially after a huge debate like we saw last week.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Right. Vice President Biden going into the debates had a huge lead, so it stood to reason that he was -- the gap between him and the other contenders was going to shrink.

And he's right now sort of suffering from the fact that there's this big field of candidates, so he -- you know, there's all of these undecided voters, as Jeffrey points out. A lot of people don't know who all the candidates are, so they only know him. He had that big lead. Then he gets sort of -- he has a poor debate performance, Harris has a good debate performance, and that narrows the gap significantly, but there's lots of way to go in this.

BLITZER: There certainly is.

And Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as you know, Rebecca Buck, they have really taken the lead in calling -- calling out the former vice president for his supposed comments on race. What is their message right now to voters?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, there are really two sides to this, Wolf.

There's the policy side, so Kamala Harris and Cory Booker saying that Joe Biden has significant problems when it comes to policy dealing with race, on busing, his 1994 crime bill. They're trying to highlight these policies to show that he doesn't understand how to solve the nation's racial problems, racial divides.

But then there's also the style of how he talks about race. And Cory Booker over weekend on "Meet the Press" said he has some significant concerns that Joe Biden, if he were to be the nominee, would not be able to rise to the challenge of talking about race and healing racial divisions in the country.

So it's a multipronged attack, but the question is, what effect is it having so far. And Joe Biden still leads among African-American voters in this poll with 36 percent support. However, when we asked who is the candidate who can best handle talking about race relations, Kamala Harris leads with 29 percent.

BLITZER: A lot of Democrats, though, they think that Biden is still best qualified, best capable of beating Donald Trump in a general election.

And some of them are getting irritated by the attacks on Biden from some of the other candidates.

CHALIAN: Well, this is his strong suit. There's no doubt about that.

We know that Democrats, more than six out of 10 Democrats prefer a candidate who seems that they can take down Trump, rather than one that agrees with them on the positions. And when we ask Democrats, who can take down Donald Trump, it is clear that Democrats, 43 percent of them say, this is Joe Biden territory. He is the one best can handle defeating Donald Trump.

If, indeed, though, he has another weak debate performance, you can imagine that that sensibility among voters could be potentially pierced. And if it is, that could be a very big, troubling sign for Joe Biden, because this is something that's undergirding his entire standing in the race.

BLITZER: Next debate right at the end of month, July 30-31, right here on CNN. That will be huge as well. A lot more coming up right after this.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following tonight.

President Trump touting his brief, but historic foray into North Korean territory amid a new report that he may settle for less than complete denuclearization by the Kim Jong-un regime.

David Chalian, it was a historic moment when he actually stepped foot into North Korea, first sitting American president to do so. What did he get out of it?

CHALIAN: It was a historic moment.

And nobody understands the sort of publicity, P.R. component around the presidency quite as well as President Trump does. He knows how to create a moment like this.

But you ask the right question. This is now the third summit, if you will, the third meeting between the two leaders. And I am still awaiting for what the actual progress is in denuclearizing North Korea.

So we haven't seen that yet. So, while the stagecraft may be working to that -- and I don't want to begrudge the president that -- I still -- he has not put one thing forward yet to indicate the actual policy goals being achieved.


BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Jeffrey Toobin, if you look at the optics of this foray into North Korea walking across the demilitarized zone. The President was smiling, he was happy, very positive, upbeat. Contrast that with other American leaders who visited the DMZ and the South Korea side, walked into the demilitarized zone, and we're going to show some pictures of that. What do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, as my younger identical twin brother, Chalian, said, I don't see -- I mean, you know, it's certainly better than threatening to incinerate North Korea, which is what the beginning of the Trump administration was, but like what's been accomplished here? I mean, it is certainly good that there is this wonderful photograph for the Trump presidential library, and I don't begrudge that, but, you know, is North Korea any less aggressive? Are they less likely to use weapons? Have they done anything towards giving up nuclear weapons, which is supposedly the goal of the Trump administration? I mean, not that I've seen.

Now, there may be secret behind-the-scenes negotiations that we're not aware of. But at least as far as the public is aware, I don't think there's been any progress, except that they're talking to each other. BLITZER: The New York Times, David Swerdlick, is reporting that the administration is actually considering a freeze on North Korea's nuclear program. In other words, allowing them to keep what they already have, maybe 20, maybe as many as 50 or 60 nuclear bombs. The stated goal is complete denuclearization, giving up all of those nuclear bombs, all of those nuclear ballistic missiles. Would that -- if the U.S. were willing to go along with a freeze, would that, in effect, be accepting North Korea as a nuclear power the way the U.S. and much of the world accepted India and Pakistan, for example, as being nuclear powers?

SWERDLICK: In a sense. And if the deal is simply a freeze and North Korea is allowed to keep some of their nuclear material, the contours of a deal like that seemed a little bit like the Iran deal that Trump said was the worst deal ever. Obviously, the goal would be to have North Korea completely denuclearized, but it's unclear what the incentives are for them to do that.

And just to go back to what you were saying a minute ago, David, it's not merely, although I agree with you, that we don't know yet what the President got out of going to the DMZ. In some ways, I would argue that he made it harder to get what he wants because what Kim Jong-un craves is legitimacy on the world stage. He's already been given that by President Trump. So now, what does the President have to trade in exchange for denuclearization?

BLITZER: You saw Pamela Brown's report, Rebecca Buck, that the President had very warm, positive comments, not only about Kim Jong- un, but Vladimir Putin, Mohammad Bin Salman, the Crowned Prince of Saudi Arabia, and other strong men who were at the G20 summit. What message does that send?

BUCK: Well, it certainly doesn't do anything to dispel this theme among the President's critics that he is more comfortable with these strongmen, with these authoritarian leaders than he is with our natural allies to the United States. But it also sends this very unfortunate message around the world that the President just doesn't care about the human rights abuses by these leaders, about the journalists they have killed or otherwise intimidated. It sends the message, of course, with Russia that he doesn't care that they attempted to interfere in our elections and are expected to do so again, so just really sending a message of weakness, frankly.

BLITZER: Where is this heading? Where do you think this is heading from the political point of view? Is this going to help the President, this dialogue that he has with these leaders like Kim Jong- un, President Xi of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia among others, or could it hurt him politically?

CHALIAN: Well, he certainly sees some political advantage here. I mean, I don't want to get so cynical, but being -- having an open relationship with Vladimir Putin and suggesting that he would be okay to accept assistance in the election from a foreign nation, I mean, there's a very real, practical way it could benefit President Trump politically in the election with Putin's desired attempt to still interfere in our election. But I think, overall, what Donald Trump hopes to take to the American people is that he had the ability to work with and negotiate and deliver on things that namely Barack Obama, his predecessor with whom he's Pretty obsessed with, could not.

Now, the goods aren't there yet. He has doesn't have the deliverables yet, so we'll have to see what happens. But I think that's the sort of foreign policy world stage case the President hopes to bring to the American people.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: Well, I just -- you know, I think the only grade you can give the President at this point is incomplete. But, you know, there is nothing to show for his relationship with North Korea other than the fact that we're still not at war with them.


And as for Russia, you know, we remain at Russia's potential victim of another intervention in our election, which the President notwithstanding his own intelligence agencies, has still not acknowledged, you know, took place in 2016.

So, you know, yes, there's been some impressive stagecraft, but what benefit this all has accrued to the American people is very hard to see.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around, there's a lot more we need to cover, including Ivanka Trump, a sparking controversy by taking on a very high-profile role at the G20.

Plus, there's breaking news, the surprise death of a Major League pitcher. We're getting new information tonight.


BLITZER: Tonight, the White House is defending Ivanka Trump's high- profile involvement in the just-wrapped up G20 summit in Japan where the First Daughter and Presidential Adviser sparked controversy by inserting herself as a would-be diplomat.

Our political correspondent, Sara Murray, is here in The Situation Room. Sara, some national security officials are bristling at the prominent role that she played.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I mean, we're used to Ivanka Trump working on women's economic empowerment issues. She's made that a mainstay of her work at the White House, but she certainly raised eyebrows when she asked as a de facto diplomat on her father's latest swing through Asia.


MURRAY: As Ivanka Trump tried to jump into conversation with world leaders, including the Canadian Prime Minister, the French President and the British Prime Minister, she created a viral moment.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As soon as you talk to (INAUDIBLE) aspect to it.


MAY: A lot of people start listening, who wouldn't otherwise listen.

TRUMP: And the same on the defense side, in terms of the whole sort of, it's been very male-dominated.

MURRAY: Critics say, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde's look said it all. On the president's swing through Asia for the G20, the First Daughter assumed an unusually prominent role on the world stage.

TRUMP: Thank you, Prime Minister Abe, for hosting the G20 summit in the vibrant city of Osaka. And thank you for your steadfast commitment to women's economic empowerment.

MURRAY: The 37-year-old whose official title is adviser to the President left some national security officials bristling, suggesting she was stepping into a role more commonly occupied by diplomats.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: A lot of really positive things are happening.

MURRAY: As the President held an impromptu meeting at the Korean border with Kim Jong-un, Ivanka stood nearby. She shook the North Korean dictator's hand and later told a reporter, the whole thing was surreal.

In a photo op with the U.S. delegation and their South Korean counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shuffled behind the group looking for an opening, as Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, beamed in the foreground. When she spotted Pompeo, Ivanka stepped to the side.

Tonight, democrats are sounding the alarm about a foreign policy neophyte taking center stage. Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tweeting, it may be shocking to some, but being someone's daughter actually isn't a career qualification. It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in and the world moves on.

But the President seemed thrilled to have Ivanka take top billing alongside Pompeo.

TRUMP: Has anyone ever heard of Ivanka? All right, come up, Ivanka. Come on. She's going to steal the show.

What a beautiful couple. Mike, Beauty and the Beast, Mike.

MURRAY: Ivanka also took to the spotlight in a video published by the White House, offering a readout of the President's trilateral meetings with India and Japan. TRUMP: We are here at the G20 in Osaka and the Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abe just concluded a meeting with the President, talking about 5G technology.

MURRAY: That responsibility is usually left to a national security staffer via a written statement.

TRUMP: It's been a productive morning, to say the least.

MURRAY: While Ivanka has little formal diplomatic experience, she does have experience doing business abroad, including in India, one of the Trump organization's top markets.


MURRAY: Now, Ivanka Trump is, of course, formally on leave from her role at the Trump organization so she can work in her father's White House and the White House did put out a statement today, Wolf, saying, in part, it is sad, but not shocking that the haters choose to attack Ivanka Trump.

As for Christine Lagarde and her star turn in that video, she has not commented on it, but she did pin a Tweet to her Twitter page showing her smiling next to Ivanka.

BLITZER: Sara Murray with that report, thank you very much, Sara, for that.

Just ahead, after his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un, is President Trump now considering letting the North Korean dictator keep some of his nuclear weapons?

Plus, there's breaking news. A Major League baseball star found dead just hours ago. We're learning new information.



[18:49:03] BLITZER: President Trump is back in the White House after his historic surprise visit to North Korea and he just tweeted that Kim Jong-un, and I'm quoting the president now, looked really well and very healthy and that he looks forward to seeing him again soon. While the president's brief visit is drawing criticism at home, Kim Jong-un's regime is hailing it as a big win.

CNN's Will Ripley has been to North Korea 19 times. He's joining us now live from Seoul, South Korea.

Will, put this trip into perspective for us.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, even though North Korea waited more than 12 hours to tell its own people what the rest of the world already knew about that surprise meeting at the DMZ, they celebrated it basically as a huge achievement for their leader, even despite the fact that now we're hearing that President Trump might be willing to make an even bigger concession.


RIPLEY (voice-over): When President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot on North Korean soil, he did more than make history.

Kim telling Trump through a translator, I never expected to meet you in this place.

Many experts call Sunday's milestone a stunning propaganda victory for North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you want me to step across?

RIPLEY: Trump seen on camera asking Kim for the opportunity, lavishing praise on a man seen by many as authoritarian, even brutal, calling this moment a great honor.

TRUMP: I was proud to step over the line. This could be a very historic moment and I guess that's what it is.

RIPLEY: Pyongyang's state-controlled newspaper plastering photos of the two leaders all over its front page, describing the DMZ meeting as amazing, dramatic and historic. Even giving President Trump the same title as Kim Jong-un, praising the great and bold decision by the supreme leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. who achieved this historic meeting of the century.

State media also showing photos of the North Korean leader shaking hands with Ivanka Trump.

President Trump and Chairman Kim met privately in Freedom House for nearly an hour.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

RIPLEY: Announcing working level nuclear talks are set to resume in the coming weeks, reviving diplomacy that has been stalled for months ever since the February summit in Hanoi fell apart.

In May, North Korea resumed short range ballistic missile testing, a fact President Trump dismissed at the DMZ.

TRUMP: We don't consider that a missile test. It wasn't a test. We're talking about ballistic missiles, long range ballistic missiles. And not only not testing, it hasn't even come close to testing and most importantly, there were no nuclear tests.

RIPLEY: Experts say short range ballistic missiles do pose a threat to tens of millions of South Koreans and tens of thousands of American troops within striking range.

Now, word of a potentially major new U.S. concession which could represent a shift in U.S. policy. The "New York Times" reporting the Trump administration may push for a nuclear freeze in a new round of talks meaning North Korea would be accepted as a nuclear power, something the administration said repeatedly it would not stand for.

DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that if the administration turns this into a complete proposal and takes it to the North Koreans, what they are going to say is as the story says, this is just a first step. We have to have a freeze to keep the problem from getting worse.

RIPLEY: A freeze could allow North Korea to keep its ballistic missiles and perhaps dozens of nuclear warheads, including the one they tested in late 2017 that triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and moved a mountain at its now shuttered nuclear test site.

The president's national security adviser dismissed the "New York Times" reporting.


RIPLEY: Tonight, Kim Jong-un appears to be using these propaganda images for internal political gain, the best images, by the way, captured by his own photographers, because the White House press pool was kept far away, not allowed to go on the northern side of the military demarcation line with President Trump walked over -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Will Ripley, thanks so much for that report.

Just ahead, there is breaking news on the sudden death of a Major League Baseball player. We're going to tell you what we're learning.


[18:58:02] BLITZER: Breaking news just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has been found dead in a Dallas area hotel room where the team was to play the Texas Rangers tonight.

CNN national correspondent Sara Sidner is working the story for us.

Sara, Skaggs was, what, just 27 years old. What do we know about his death?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, heartbreaking. So far, there really is nothing to indicate exactly why he died. The cause of death at this point.

Two days ago, though, he was in great shape. The left-handed pitcher was on the mound for the Angels, the Los Angeles Angels. He was pitching against the A's.

And then last night, there is this great picture that his wife put on Instagram. He is dressed in his fancy western best. There you see him there seeming to have a very good time.

But then, just a few hours ago, Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room. Police say they responded to a call of an unconscious person and ended up identifying him as 27-year-old Skaggs.

What we should also mention here, this was -- this was a player with a lot of potential. He had been one of the Angels' most reliable players and there are already people showing up in Anaheim there to pay their respects, bringing flowers to pay their respects to Skaggs. He was clearly very well liked. Teams he played for before like the Arizona Diamondbacks are speaking out and talking about the terrible loss of someone so young and talented. And, of course, his own team very distraught.

The game, as you mentioned, did get cancelled, the game against the Texas Rangers with the Los Angeles Angels.

But there are also people just talking about him. Some other players who he was not playing with who he would play against, for example, I just want to read you this because I thought it was so beautiful. This is all star pitcher Marcus Stroman saying that it's heartbreaking and makes him sick to the stomach to learn that Tyler Skaggs at 27 is dead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So sad indeed. Very heartbreaking.

Sara Sidner with that report, we'll stay on top of this story.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.