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Trump Retweets Quote Likening Him To "Second Coming Of God"; Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) Is Interviewed On Trump Calling Democratic Jewish Voters Disloyal; Trump Zigzags On Guns And Background Checks; Trump Says Jews Voting For Dems Are "Disloyal To Israel," Jokes About Awarding Himself Medal Of Honor; Indefinite Detention Of Migrant Families To Be Allowed Under New Trump Administration Rule; South Korean K-Pop Music Lures Defectors From The North. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us here on THE LEAD. You can follow me on Twitter @EricaRHill. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for our exquisite panel, our esteemed panel today.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, delusions of grandeur? After forwarding a tweet that compares him to the Second Coming of God, President Trump declares himself "the chosen one" to deal with China. He also calls himself "wonderful" and "responsible for great things."

Is he drinking his own Kool-Aid?

Annoyed by allies: the president calls Denmark's prime minister "nasty" for labeling his desire to buy Greenland "absurd" but he calls on other allies to let Russia back into the G8 group of industrialized nations.

Why is he so eager to embrace Vladimir Putin?

Reversing course: the president flip-flops on gun background checks, saying he wants to fix loopholes but stresses that the nation already has strong background checks. And after saying he was weighing a payroll tax cut, the president says he is no longer looking at a payroll tax cut.

And K-Pop revolution: South Korea's pop music has fans around the world, including North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

But can the dictator stop K-Pop from luring away defectors?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. KEILAR: Breaking news: President Trump goes off on an extraordinary rant, at times taking on a messianic tone, after retweeting a notorious conspiracy theorist who suggested that he's loved like the Second Coming of God, the president declared to reporters that he's "the chosen one" to take on China over its trade practices.

He once again attacked Jewish Democrats and repeatedly slammed the media, along with former President Obama. And using one of his choice insults for women, the president called Denmark's prime minister "nasty" for calling his interest in buying Greenland "absurd."

The president zigzagged on guns and background checks. He flip- flopped on the economy, saying he's not looking at a tax cut a day after suggesting he was.

I'll be speaking with Congressman Mike Quigley, who is on the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and analysts have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

And Jim, the president seems to have anointed himself today.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly right. The president sounded as though he had something of a God complex at times today, declaring himself "the chosen one and accepting praise from an ally who dubbed Mr. Trump on Twitter as the Second Coming.

But the president wasn't so charitable when he doubled down on how he feels Jewish Americans should vote against Democrats and describing the prime minister of Denmark as "nasty" for rejecting his advances on Greenland.

There were times when he sounded messianic and sometimes just a mess.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Taking his questionable rhetoric to new heights, President Trump talked about himself in biblical terms, at one point looking to the sky as he praised the handling of the economy as godlike.

TRUMP: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it. So I'm taking on China. I'm taking on China on trade. And you know what, we're winning.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president stirred up more outrage, repeating his belief that Jewish Americans face a loyalty test in the upcoming election.

TRUMP: And if you vote for a Democrat, you're very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After some Jewish American groups slammed that remark as anti-Semitic, the president accepted the support of conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who portrayed Mr. Trump in messianic terms, tweeting, "Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. 'President Trump is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world and the Jewish people in Israel love him like he's the king of Israel. They love him like he is the Second Coming of God.'"

TRUMP: I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel. One of them was moving the embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump shifted once again on the topic of tightening background checks after sources told CNN he all but assured NRA president Wayne LaPierre he was siding with the powerful gun lobby.

TRUMP: Oh, I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks. We're working with Democrats, we're working with Republicans. We already have very strong background checks. But we're going to be throwing in some of the loopholes we just talked about, concept. Wayne agrees things have to be done also.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president got testy defending his decision to scrap his upcoming trip to Denmark after that country's prime minister rejected Mr. Trump's expansionist designs on Greenland as "absurd."

TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that was it -- it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do was --


TRUMP: -- say, no, we wouldn't be interested. Don't say what an absurd idea that is because she's not talking to me. Excuse me. She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way, at least under me.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On a range of questions Mr. Trump repeatedly pointed his finger at former president Barack Obama.

TRUMP: Under President Obama --

Russia outsmarted President Obama.

President Obama did that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Consider his defense of the Trump administration's new plan to detain immigrant families for longer periods at the border.

TRUMP: I am the one that kept the families together, OK. You remember that, right?

Just remember I said it. And now it gets even better. President Obama and others brought the families apart. But I'm the one that kept the families together. ACOSTA (voice-over): But that is not true. It was Mr. Trump who launched a policy of family separations. Still, the president insists he cares about migrant children.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, very much I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly.


ACOSTA: Now after all of that, the president joked to a group of American veterans today that he would like to give himself the Medal of Honor. Mr. Trump, who is not a military veteran and avoided service during the Vietnam War, says he was told by his staff that awarding himself the Medal of Honor would not be a good idea.

He can't be chosen for that one -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

And President Trump today lashed out at that U.S. ally, Denmark, but he did have nice words for Russia. So let's turn to CNN National Security Reporter, Kylie Atwood, for the latest on this.

What happened?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: He reiterated what he said time and time again, which is that President Trump would like to see President Putin back at the table with the G7.

Now I'm told by a senior administration official that yesterday, when President Macron of France and President Trump spoke over the phone, they agreed that Putin should be invited to the 2020 G7 meetings next year.

Now I'm told that the President Macron threw out the idea, trying to basically put the onus on Trump to be the one to own the idea and he's doing just that. But imagine how controversial and dramatic it could be if President Putin came here to the U.S. for a G7 meeting just months ahead of the 2020 presidential election here.

Obviously that would be controversial, because we know that every intelligence agency says that it is Russia who meddled in the 2016 elections and President Trump has never gone that far and agreed with them.

So it would be pretty dramatic if he were here in the United States. The other thing to consider is that Trump is headed to the G7 this weekend. And we know that he's going to be discussing this topic with other members of the G7, who have agreed that Russia shouldn't be allowed back in.

But Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the U.K., a new leader that President Trump is hoping will see eye to eye with, just said today he doesn't even think there is a case yet to be made for Russia to be allowed back in. So that could create tension between the two leaders who are hoping to start off a good foot. KEILAR: He's dissing Denmark, blaming the Danish prime minister for saying that his possible purchase, sort of inquiry, curiosity about purchasing Greenland, was absurd. But it is important to point out that Denmark is an important ally of the U.S.

ATWOOD: Exactly right. So President Trump canceled this trip via tweet to Denmark because the prime minister, as you said, called it absurd that the president wanted to buy Greenland.

But the important thing here is that both Danish officials and folks who live there are feeling a little bit like they've been treated unfairly here because they have stood next to the U.S. for years, especially when it comes to national security.

The U.S. has been allowed to use strategic bases in Greenland since the Cold War, that allows the U.S. to listen in on Russia and other things across the Arctic and the Danish troops have fought alongside U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan; 43 Danish troops died in Afghanistan fighting alongside U.S. soldiers.

So there is clearly some hard feelings here and we're going to have to see how the relationship moves forward at this point.

KEILAR: Understandably so. Kylie Atwood, thank you so much for that report.

And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the Intelligence Committee.

Sir, thanks for joining us.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Glad to be here. Thank you.

KEILAR: Let's begin with the president going all in on his claim that American Jews who vote for Democrats are, in his words, very disloyal to Israel and the Jewish people.

What is your reaction to that?

QUIGLEY: Yes, this is a very tired, old anti-Semitic trope that I hope wouldn't be used again, much less by the president of the United States. When I first got to Congress 10 years ago --


QUIGLEY: -- it was drilled into our heads that Israel can't be a partisan issue. Eric Cantor on the Republican side, Steny Hoyer on the Democratic side, said it is not in the U.S. interest for that to happen. It is clearly not in Israel's interest and very shortsighted of Mr. Netanyahu to think that this should become a partisan issue.

And for the president to move in the opposite direction is really dangerous at this time.

KEILAR: And definitely your pointing out here, this is across partisan lines. Are you concerned with the fact that he is politicizing Israel and

that may be doing long-term damage?

QUIGLEY: I think the damage has been done for the last couple of years with the Trump White House. I'd like to think that cooler heads will prevail sometime when the president is no longer in office. But there is absolutely too much at stake.

I've been to Israel numerous times and recognize the critical nature of our alliance as an extraordinarily important democracy, the only real democracy in the Middle East. That relationship matters.

But the votes on Israel are extraordinarily important and they've always been bipartisan. For him to suggest that Democrats don't support Israel is a mistake. And in fact, most Jews in the United States are registered Democrats.

KEILAR: I want to talk about the president's canceled trip to Denmark. He made this move after the Danish prime minister called his proposal to buy Greenland "absurd." Denmark has been a key U.S. ally. They provide intelligence and they've sent troops I the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Does his canceling this trip where they would have discussed security issues, hurt U.S. national security?

QUIGLEY: I think it hurts our security. I think it hurts our standing in the world as a whole. I just don't know what the president is thinking.

This isn't a land deal in Manhattan, where they are trying to build a high-rise and you can pressure somebody for the purchase. This is a self-governing people of Greenland under the larger government of Denmark. So it makes absolutely no sense.

What is next?

Next week we talk about purchasing the Falklands?

And if that doesn't work we get angry with their government?

It's bizarre. I don't know how else to explain it. And for the prime minister -- the Danish prime minister to call it absurd is absolutely correct. But I guess no one told the Danish prime minister that our president thinks he's a deity and can make no such mistakes.

KEILAR: Canceling on an ally, someone who has helped in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who provides intelligence to the U.S., what signal does that send to other U.S. allies, especially as the president could be looking for support from some of them?

QUIGLEY: I don't know if many of our allies trust us any more. I don't know if our NATO allies believe that we would be there in crunch time. We talk about the percentage of GDP they use in their defense as being very important to all of our security.

The fact is, you mentioned these -- the intelligence that we all share is as important as anything we do together to keep all of us safe.

I often quote FDR's last inaugural in talking about this president. And he talked about the fact that, to keep the peace, we need to work with allies far away to protect ourselves and others.

And indeed, he quoted Emerson, saying, in the final analysis, to have a friend, you need to be a good one and we are not a good one right now to most of our allies.

KEILAR: The president is again pushing to reconstitute the G8, the group of industrialized nations, by bringing Russia back into the fold.

What would Russia need to do in order to deserve a place in the G8?

QUIGLEY: I traveled to the G7 with President Obama when it was in Germany. And obviously Russia wasn't there. Russia has to earn a place at that table again. They've done absolutely nothing to earn that.

Their activities in Crimea and the war that's taking place in Ukraine, their all-out assault on our democratic process that continues. DNI Coats, just recently having left, still said the lights are flashing red. Many of our intelligence services are telling us that the Russians haven't left.

So given that, the fact that our upcoming critical election is at stake, you're going to invite the person who perpetrated that and continues that assault to come to the United States and work along more civilized countries?

They haven't earned that right.

KEILAR: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you so much for joining us.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Up next, despite a --


KEILAR: -- wave of outrage, President Trump again says the Jews who vote for Democrats are, quote, "very disloyal."

And what should we make of the president's joke that he wanted to award himself the Medal of Honor?





KEILAR: We've got breaking news: President Trump today proclaiming himself, quote, "the chosen one" to confront China on trade and he raised questions about where he stands on just about every major issue during a wild question-and-answer session with reporters. So let's go through all of it, shall we, with our political experts as we try to make some sense of it.

Gloria Borger to you first, so the president, it is like a flip-flop- flip-flop-flip now on gun control, the payroll tax, whether he'll visit Denmark -- that's now pretty clear that's just a flip-flop.


KEILAR: But he is pretty consistent in one area and that is praising himself. So let's listen to this.


TRUMP: No president has ever done anywhere close to what I've done. I have been responsible for a lot of great things. I'm wonderful for the USA. I am the least racist person ever to serve in office. The love for me -- and me maybe as a representative of the country -- but for me.

I was right and just about everybody admits that. I was put here by people to do a great job. And that is what I'm doing. No president has done what I've done.

I am the chosen one.


KEILAR: "I am the chosen one," he says, and that comes after the president retweeted a conspiracy theorist/radio host who said that he is like the Second Coming.

So what do you make of all of this?



BORGER: -- I think maybe his mommy should have told him she loved him a little bit more. I don't know. You know, it is hard -- it's just -- it is hard to know what to make of this. I mean some people will say, as Trump says, oh, I was only joking when I said all of that stuff.

But the truth of the matter is that he does this all the time. He talks about how wonderful he is and if you'll recall during his speech at the convention, when he talked about the problems the country was facing, he was saying, only I can fix it.


BORGER: And so --

KEILAR: I alone. BORGER: I alone, that's right. I alone can fix it.

Thank you.

So this has been a familiar refrain from Donald Trump, who is not shy about telling us that he is the best person in the world for any job.

KEILAR: Ron, you are concurring?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, you know, when he said I alone can fix it, that really did crystallize a lot of his campaign message to his core supporters and it continues to this day.

Essentially the Trump coalition or the voters most uneasy about the way America is evolving in the 21st century -- demographically and culturally and even economically -- and he presents himself in effect as a human wall against all of those changes to his supporters.

He is the one that is preventing this new America from displacing them in the ways that they fear. And I think that is why he always comes back to personalizing these things in such grandiose terms.

KEILAR: And Nia, as you watch this today, sort of in the annals of rambling Q&As from the president, which, you know, we've seen a lot of them there on the South Lawn, how does this one shape up?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is A-plus rambling, an A-plus word salad from this president, all over the place on any number of issue, on gun control and background checks, kind of flip-flopping, flip-flopping on that, pushing back against the idea that the NRA kind of got to him and made him take background checks off the table.

He now says there is an appetite for background checks but it is not clear that there is any real movement on that.

KEILAR: It is a slippery slope.

HENICAN: It's a slippery slope. So making all sorts of arguments there, going after the prime minister of Denmark, of course, punching at Obama over Russia and the annexation of Crimea and sort of hugging Putin.

So yes, this is what we've come to see from this president. There is no filter, right. His sort of Twitterself is the self we get from Donald Trump.


HENDERSON: That is his real self. In some ways, I think Ron is right, that is why people are so attached to him, particularly white Americans, white working class Americans, most especially, because he just is who he is all of the time.

Sure, there are times when we see him on a teleprompter but he's very stilted there. There on the White House lawn there, under the hot D.C. sun, he can ramble on for 40 minutes in that way.

KEILAR: It was very hot.


KEILAR: It was like a 90-degree day. So just to note, when you are going on for 40 minutes outside.

And April, he did speak with the NRA Chief Executive, Wayne LaPierre, and there seemed to be that he was then moving towards the NRA. Today, though, he said he has this appetite for background checks.

But as Nia pointed out, he also seemed to say maybe he doesn't. It is a slippery slope.

Where does that leave the country, which is watching in horror at these mass shootings when -- where does that leave the country on preventing these terrible events?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the unfortunate thing is, Brianna, is that this president, when he's going down the slippery slope, he's watching the polls. He's watching the mood. He's watching the American public --


RYAN: -- and their actions about gun control. If the -- if the public support for gun control is high, he's going to be high. If it is not, when it wanes -- and it is waning now after all of these mass shootings -- he's feeling like, OK, I don't necessarily need to push for background checks.

So this president is -- he's like a black preacher, a black Baptist preacher. He feels the crowd and necessarily not saying that is what happens with guns in a black church. But he's feeling the crowd and right now the crowd is pulled back.

BROWNSTEIN: April, that is not right. I'm sorry. That is just not right. Support for universal background checks is the highest number I've seen in polling for any subject in the 25 years I've been writing about -- over 90 percent of Americans, including 90 percent of gun owners and 90 percent of Republicans, consistently support universal background checks. An assault weapon ban is at the highest --


RYAN: I agree. I agree.

BROWNSTEIN: -- hold on, let me finish -- it is over 60 percent. The problem Trump has is that he is relying on maximizing turnout among a base that does not represent a majority of the country. And that base that he relies on is primarily not urban white and heavily invested in the gun culture.

And so it is not an issue of him not responding to overall public opinion because that could not be clearer. It is an issue of him once again elevating serving his base over responding to the majority of will in the country.

KEILAR: I agree with that.

RYAN: You're partly right on that. I'm going to give you part -- I'm going to give you part of that.

But here is the problem. At the very beginning, my sources, who are directly in contact with this president and others in that inner circle, they said that the president talked to the NRA heads and said, look, we may not be able to stave off background checks.

This was at the beginning, after El Paso and after Dayton and now weeks later -- and even after John Legend went to Dayton and cried with the people and sang with the people. There was a mass movement there at that time.

And the feeling -- you might have -- we may have polls. But the feeling, the people in the streets is not like it was. And I'm just telling you from where my reporting has come and not only that, the problems -- you have Mitch McConnell, who is in a battle for election, OK, re-election bid. So that is one reason why it will not happen.

And, two, this president understands the NRA has him and the Republicans locked up. So it is a double-edged sword. But right now he's looking at the mood of America. The polls may say one thing but you don't see people in the streets like they were with Parkland. And Parkland actually changed his mind.

Remember that?

But then he went back, the NRA got him.

KEILAR: All right, you guys, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about, especially the president's recent comments about Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats.


KEILAR: And we're back now with our political experts talking about, really, an extraordinary question session the President held on the south lawn, today, of the White House. Gloria, we heard him -- again, he went all-in on these comments about Jewish-Americans who vote for Democrats. This is what the President said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people and you're being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.


KEILAR: Every time --

HENDERSON: Yes, it's -- KEILAR: Every time he says this, I am --


BORGER: It's crazy. This is --

KEILAR: -- I am pretty stunned.


BORGER: It's -- well, it's stunning and it's insulting beyond all belief. And you could say it's anti-Semitic, you could -- but to me, more than anything else, and it can be both, it's opportunistic because what he's saying is, to voters -- to these voters, look, I am telling you -- I'm taking this opportunity to tell you that you're going to be -- you're going to be dumb. This is wrong --

HENDERSON: Which is --

BORGER: -- and you better stick with me, or you're going to cast a stupid vote. And so, what he is doing is saying to these voters, you know, come stick with me. And in his mind, I don't think it has to do with, oh, I'm being anti-Semitic or I'm being racist, what I'm doing is, is I'm gathering my base as much as I possibly can.

And, you know, that doesn't mean that he isn't anti-Semitic and it doesn't mean that he isn't racist. But what it does mean is that he cares about re-election more than anything else. And for some reason, the President of the United States believes that by insulting Jewish voters, that's going to help him.


KEILAR: Ron, I really -- I do want to ask you about some of the President's comments today to veterans because he -- he was making a joke, and he did get a laugh from this veterans' group. But he was saying that he'd like to give himself the Medal of Honor, which is the highest military decoration of the United States.

I guess, you know, and coming from a military family, one of the -- I wonder what you think about this.


KEILAR: Coming from a military family, I just don't think the Medal of Honor is joke material because when you're -- when you look into -- and the President knows this, he just -- he just awarded -- he just -- a Medal of Honor, it means that people have generally died.


KEILAR: They've suffered terrible things. Even as someone gets a Medal of Honor, even if they're alive, it means -- it's normally in terrible circumstances. I just --

BORGER: Sacrifice. KEILAR: Yes, true sacrifice. I just don't -- I don't see where it's


[17:35:01] BROWNSTEIN: You know, I keep waiting for the moment where Trump -- President Trump, in one of these press gaggles, describes himself as the most modest or humble president ever as well. You know, kind of like in that way.

RYAN: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, yes, there is no -- there is kind of no laurel he cannot kind of pin to his own, you know, jacket. And this one, for someone, you know, who worked to avoid service in Vietnam, who described, you know, avoiding sexual disease as kind of his Vietnam, I'm in awe. I mean, it's hard to imagine something that would be more kind of inappropriate for him to kind of, you know, put on -- put himself into.

It's interesting, you know, in -- again, in polling, he -- there's been polling among veterans, and his handling of the armed forces generally draws good marks. His overall presidency, though, they are much mucks -- much more mixed along with everybody else.

And, you know, when people say, is there any price for President Trump's behavior in things like this? Just look at our CNN poll today. In the poll today, 40 percent of the people who say the economy is good or excellent still say they disapprove of his performance as president.

We have never seen anything like that for an incumbent president. And it is the precise measurement of the cost he is paying, even in a very good economy, for all of this kind of behavior that shatters the norms of the way presidents usually comport themselves.

KEILAR: What did you think, Nia, when the President canceled his trip to Denmark, and he called the female Prime Minister of Denmark's comments about him nasty?

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, the canceling and the reason for canceling over his wanting, you know, to talk to the Prime Minister about a sale -- the sale of Greenland, you know, I mean, it seems like an "Onion" headline, but apparently, that was really the reason. He goes back to this comment, saying that she's nasty, which is a familiar putdown that the President uses for women that he doesn't like. He used it against Hillary Clinton.

You know, I mean, she was, I thought, very diplomatic in handling this in, essentially, saying this is an absurd idea, the sale of Greenland. In saying, you know, we -- they've been allies, right? Denmark and the U.S. have been allies. They've -- Denmark citizens have fought next to Americans in wars.

So, you know, I mean -- but this is -- you know, the comparison I think that I go to is President Trump's praise for the North Korean dictator, this, you know, murderous brutal dictator versus the way he refers to folks from Denmark, its Prime Minister, and other allies. I mean, this, again -- Ron talks about the shattering of American norms. This is the shattering of American norms, the way he -- he reserves such a disdain for our allies.

BORGER: And, first of all, she wasn't nasty.

HENDERSON: No, she wasn't. That's right, she wasn't.

BORGER: She just called his idea absurd.

HENDERSON: Because it was absurd, yes.

BORGER: Because -- exactly.


KEILAR: Yes. When --

BORGER: Because it was absurd.

KEILAR: -- April, it was absurd.

RYAN: Right.


BORGER: And, you know, it used -- when I saw the chyron across CNN last night --

HENDERSON: Yes, we were like, what?

BORGER: OK, the President cancels trip because he can't buy Greenland.


BORGER: You kind of have to do a double-take and say, is this real?

KEILAR: I'm in a time crunch. April, I owe you a question big time. I know that.

BORGER: Sorry.

KEILAR: I will keep that in the back of my mind. Thank you to all of you for this great discussion. I really appreciate it.

And coming up, we have more fallout from President Trump's question- and-answer session with reporters. Why is he so obsessed with attacking former President Obama?

And later, as if food and freedom weren't enough, K-Pop music has become the latest reason North Koreans want to get away from Kim Jong- un's iron-fisted rule.


KEILAR: Today, the Trump administration announced it's going ahead with the rule change to allow indefinite detention of migrant families and children.

Let's bring in CNN's Senior National Correspondent, Alex Marquardt. Tell us what this new policy would do.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Brianna, very simply, it removes the limit on the length of time that children can be held in custody. What's in place right now is known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, and that puts a cap on the amount of time that migrant children can be held at 20 days. They want to remove that cap, and there's no maximum. So in essence, that means that children could be held with their parents indefinitely.

Now, today, the Secretary -- the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, said that the Flores Agreement creates an incentive for families to come illegally because they know that they can be released while their immigration proceedings go on after those 20 days when their kids are. Let's take a listen.


KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The result of holding families together under the previous administration was a dramatic reduction in the flow of unlawful crossings by families. By closing this key loophole in Flores, the new rule will restore integrity to our immigration system and eliminate a major pull factor fueling the crisis.


MARQUARDT: Now, McAleenan rejects this notion that kids can be -- and their families can be held indefinitely. He says that most cases are processed under 50 days, and his argument is that these children are being used as pawns or passports, as he said. What is clear is that under this new regulation, if it were to pass, there would be no maximum.

Now, it is far from a given that this will go -- that this will be implemented. It will be published on Friday, and if there were no court opposition, no legal opposition, it would go into effect in 60 days.

There will certainly be opposition. We've already heard from the lawyers from the Flores Settlement. They said that they're going to file a brief with the Flores judge and that if the government goes ahead with this, they will be in breach. We've already seen the ACLU say that this is yet another cruel attack on children.

[17:45:05] So they're going to face all sorts of legal challenges. Kevin McAleenan said today that they are expecting to be opposed in court on this new rule.

KEILAR: All right, and we know you'll follow it. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Coming up, the latest temptation luring North Koreans to flee Kim Jong-un's rule? Music! (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:03] KEILAR: K-Pop music which has taken South Korea by storm is now the siren song luring defectors from the north.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this. This is incredibly interesting. What have you been learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Brianna. We have new information tonight that many North Korean defectors are citing K-Pop music as an important reason that they wanted to leave the country. It seems the window that that popular gives some North Koreans to the outside world is a very powerful draw that Kim Jong-un is struggling to combat.


TODD (voice-over): It was a surprising and, for many North Koreans, jarring sight. A band called Red Velvet, wildly popular in South Korea and around the world, invited to perform in front of an elite audience in Pyongyang in the spring of 2018.

One of their most adoring fans, North Korea's usually stoic Supreme Leader who was caught on camera leading the applause. Even though he's banned his own people from listening to the same songs. Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, once a singer herself, greeted the band offstage.

But tonight, there's growing evidence this kind of music, called K- Pop, is becoming a threat to the dictator's regime. A recent survey by South Korea's Unification Media Group says more and more defectors now cite music as a key factor in how they became disenchanted with their government.

SUK-YOUNG KIM, AUTHOR, "ILLUSIVE UTOPIA: THEATER, FILM, AND EVERYDAY PERFORMANCE IN NORTH KOREA": North Korean young generation finds many creative ways to access foreign media, especially South Korean pop culture has been phenomenally popular in North Korea for the past 20 years. And it's really starting to impact the way they conceive of the world as well as to reflect upon their own lives in North Korea.

TODD (voice-over): North Korea's first couple are such fans of that style of music themselves that they have their own girl band. Moranbong, Kim Jong-un's handpicked troop of young women in tight dresses who sing Korean pop songs and tributes to their boss.

But one defector says that's about the extent to which young North Koreans are allowed to consume pop music.

KANG NA-RA, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (through translator): North Korea is such a tightly controlled society, and the style we can follow was very limited. Ri Sol-ju or Moranbong band members were our only permitted role models.

TODD (voice-over): Kim's regime forbids the influx of any foreign media content unless it's heavily censored. But still, it gets in. Hyun Lee defected from North Korea five years ago. The son of a top

financial official for Kim's regime, Lee had access to South Korean K- Pop which was smuggled in by friends while he lived in North Korea. He says any young North Korean hearing South Korean K-Pop for the first time is struck by the difference.

TODD (on camera): What does that music have that their music does not have?

HYUN LEE, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR: So North Korean music doesn't have any emotion and feeling of love and then the freedom of society, but South Korean music emphasizes emotion, love.

TODD (voice-over): Hyun Lee says the tide of K-Pop is so enormous, and the black market for the music and videos is so strong even young people still inside North Korea know about "Gangnam Style." The song by the artist PSY that was the first YouTube video to ever reach a billion views.

But it's a tide Kim Jong-un is trying to hold back. Analysts say North Korea's crackdown on the consumption of K-Pop by its citizens has intensified under Kim. Defectors say there's a feared unit of Kim's security services called Group 109, a roving group of operatives searching for banned CDs and USB drives.

LEE: They basically do search your body and search your home at any time and everywhere. Once North Koreans are caught by 109, so the severe punishment was execution.


TODD: Now, it's not just listening to K-Pop music that can get the average young North Korean in trouble. One young defector told "The Washington Post" that after seeing some K-Pop videos, she wanted to emulate their clothing style. She put on a pair of jeans, she said, and went to a local market. She said authorities there made her take off the jeans on the spot, and they burned them right in front of her -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Brian, thank you so much for that report.

And coming up, President Trump says Russia should be welcomed back into the elite group of industrialized nations after it was kicked out for invading a neighbor. Why is the President blaming that on former President Obama?


KEILAR: Happening now, breaking news. The chosen one. That is how President Trump is describing himself, taking self-importance to a new extreme as he defends his economic and trade policy. We're covering all the angles of this jaw-dropping, head-scratching exchange with reporters.

Thanks, Obama. Mr. Trump sounds like an anti-Obama meme as he tries to shift the blame from many of America's problems to his predecessor. Why did he say the former president's name at least 20 times in about 30 minutes?

[17:59:59] Making Russia G8 again. The President keeps encouraging a key alliance to welcome Vladimir Putin back into the fold after he was kicked out for invading Crimea.