This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 1, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We'll be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. It went very well. I think it's a getting to know you meeting plus.
I never said it goes in one meeting. I think it is going to be a process. But the relationships are building and that is very positive. They want to develop as a country. That's going to happen.
I told them today, take your time. We can go fast, we can go slowly.
We have very significant sanctions on the, but we have hundreds that are ready to go. But why I do that when we are talking so nicely?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: It's on again. June 12th, Singapore, the summit, and today a top North Korean official delivering a letter that was eventually read, we're told, by President Trump, as he headed out to Camp David. But the summit is back on, and where do we go from here? Let's bring in our panel: Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics co-founder and president; Leslie Marshall, syndicated talk radio host, and Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist.
Tom, significant? We've talked about how the terminology is kind of changed and how the president is saying it might be one, it might be two, it might be a number of summits.
TOM BEVAN, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Walking back expectations a little bit. But it seems that the president still believes that denuclearization is on the table. Not sure that is where the North Koreans are. But yes, look, the summit is back on track and by all accounts is going to happen in less than two weeks. And we were told by everybody and not too long ago that it would be impossible for this to happen, and yet here we are.
LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I was wrong. Do you remember last time I was on your show?
BAIER: Can we tape that?
MARSHALL: We were in Los Angeles. I said it would be on, I was correct there, but I said it wouldn't happen on the 12th. Then again it still may not. I think that Kim Jong-un and the president, North Korea and the United States have very different ideas of what denuclearization mean, and I don't think Kim Jong-un is going to budge with regarding to the troops being on the peninsula in South Korea. I don't think there will be any kind of a deal unless all troops are gone.
We're not going to remove all the troops so I don't think we're going to be able to get the kind of deal we want, and I think that's why we are hearing the posturing that we're hearing right now from both the president and Pompeo with regard to, it's going to take a little time, we're going to have more than one meaning. And I think that's why, because I think there are two different definitions here and ideas of what they hope to achieve.
BAIER: I know a little bit about summits, wrote a little book about Reagan and Gorbachev. And sometimes it's an evolution. Sometimes it does take more than one. They took Geneva, Reykjavik, Washington and Moscow.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: In this case if you just think back to when the Trump administration started, there were no lines of communication open, even there were no backchannel lines of communication open. And here you have visiting the White House today a top North Korean official, really actually a pretty bad guy who was visiting the White House.
BAIER: Spy chief.
HEMINGWAY: It's really interesting just how far things have gotten. I think it is good that people are resetting expectations about what can be accomplished at this first summit, but just the fact that people are meeting is really significant.
It's also worth remembering that when Barack Obama said that he would be willing to sit down with bad guys, a lot of people on the right thought that was a really bad idea when he said I am willing to sit down with people without agreements beforehand. And I think this shows that sometimes that is a good idea. Sometimes you do have to work with people who might be pretty evil people but just to get things going and that there might be something good about that.
BAIER: It's not really known or talked about much, but President Bill Clinton considered going to sit down with Kim Jong-un and instead sent Madeleine Albright -- Kim Jong-il, I should say, the father, had that meeting. And that's the picture you have of Madeleine Albright toasting champagne with him. There was another meeting that concerned the president today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I didn't like the Russian meeting yesterday. I said, what is the purpose of that? But it could be a positive meeting. If it is a positive meeting I love it. If it's a negative meeting I am not happy. And it could very well be a positive meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You just hear what's on his mind. You can't say he's not transparent. He didn't like the Russian meeting, but he doesn't know what the meeting was about.
BEVAN: That's what's fascinating to me about this is Trump is very transparent and honest which typically diplomatic speak is much more cagey and sophisticated than that. And he's willing to say, hey, we might get something done, we might not. We'll wait and see. It really does have the appearance of a guy who is on a high wire without a net, which is a spectacle to watch but also a little bit frightening, we'll see.
BAIER: But the Russian thing did upset some in the foreign policy realm in that Russia going to meet Kim Jong-un, Leslie, saying essentially remember us, and what are you doing, and maybe sticking their nose in it.
MARSHALL: Not only that. I think Russia is sticking their nose in almost everything we do, especially our elections. Maybe there were helping with that letter the president read or didn't read. But with regard to Kim Jong-un, maybe Kim Jong-un and the North Koreans don't have the -- maybe we don't have the upper hand with them or as much as an upper hand with them as we think, and I think that with that meeting, the president has to remain on his toes even more so.
BAIER: Let me play this one last sound bite and that is about the tariffs and the implication of that from the president's point of view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All of these countries including the European Union, they charge five times the tariff. We don't charge tariffs, essentially. They charge five times what we charge for tariffs. And I believe in the word reciprocal. If you're going to charge five time, we're going to charge five times. I like free trade, but I want fair trade. At a minimum I want fair trade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: There's all this pushback, Republicans, Democrats saying what are we doing with allies? You know what, Larry Kudlow said this is a family squabble and we're going to keep the lines of communication open and we're going to see where this goes.
HEMINGWAY: And free trade is it preferable. It's also true that our allies have had really good trade arrangements for us for a very long time, and there were good foreign policy reasons for that as we were trying to help strengthen these countries during a long cold war. But the point remains that they charge much higher tariffs than we do. That's not necessarily a great idea. It's not necessarily in our best interests. And it's not like we are breaking up a perfectly free trade environment here. We are talking about renegotiating some arrangements.
BAIER: I mentioned the politics of this, Tom, and as you look at different places that could be affected, it doesn't line up to help Republicans and president's party in the midterms on this particular issue. More Democrats like Sherrod Brown and Heidi Heitkamp and others whom maybe benefit from this?
BEVAN: I think it remains to be seen. Again, this is going to be an election that is a base. It is all about turning out votes. And so this is something that Trump's voters have, this is one of his campaign promises. This is one of the things that animated the base to turn out for him in 2016.
BAIER: Even if it knocks down the GPD by a percentage, by one point? You have a great jobs number today. And if it takes its down one percent, as Wilbur Ross says it might, and he says that's not a big deal in the big picture when you have tax cuts that you are supposedly paying for by increasing growth, does that affect people and how they look at this?
BEVAN: It will if it affects their pocketbooks. If they are paying more for goods and services that they would not have otherwise paid in October, a few weeks before the election, it will have a material impact. If the economy keeps humming along and things are fine, it won't affect them. So we'll have to wait and see.
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