This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 12, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have developed a very special bond, so people are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy. And we are going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world. It worked out for both of us far better than anybody could have expected.
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WALLACE: President Trump talking positively as he and Kim Jong Un signed a joint statement at the end of their Singapore summit. Let's bring in our panel back in D.C., Mollie Hemingway of "The Federalist," Mara Liasson from National Public Radio, and Byron York, of the "Washington Examiner." Byron, your thoughts about the summit and that agreement that we just showed that President Trump and Kim Jong Un signed?
BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I think the most reasonable assessment you can make it is that we don't know if it's going to work out or not. In the joint agreement that the two leaders released, Kim pledged committed to denuclearization, but previous leaders have pledged the same thing and not done it. So you can't say.
There are also other issues. Talk about the U.S. military exercises, whether that's really a big concession or not since Tom Cotton earlier on this program said the next big military exercise is next spring, so if Kim is operating in bad faith, we will certainly know that by then.
My sense was it's a net plus because of the relationship between the two leaders and what has been said, but you just don't know what's going to happen.
WALLACE: I want to pick up, Mara, on Byron's first point, because Kim in the joint statement committed to complete denuclearization. That's the quote. But he did the same in his first meeting with South Korean President Moon back in April. Do you see anything more here? Do you see any more details, any more meat on the bones?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Not yet, but that's why Secretary of State Pompeo is now going to pick up the ball and see if they can do that, flesh it out. Denuclearization means one thing to the U.S. and it means something different to North Korea. I think they see it more as a freeze.
But the one thing you can say is this is so much better where we are now than when they were threatening to blow each other up, and as long as they are talking, they are not going to war. And even if this ends up with only a freeze and not complete, utter denuclearization, that's still better than what we've got now. I think the only danger for the president is that it's going to be hard to keep up the sanctions regime because that really depends on China, and as long as Kim Jong Un is talking to the U.S., it seems like China is already beginning to back away from enforcing sanctions.
WALLACE: Let's pick up on that point, Mollie, because the president says he's going to keep the sanctions up, he's not going to call it maximum pressure anymore, but he thinks -- he says that's what it's going to be, but he also complained that China is easing up on patrolling and enforcing its border. South Korea is eager to begin trade with North Korea. And I guess the question I have is with Chairman Kim now at the end of this summit a much more respectful, normalized figure in the world diplomatic channels, is it going to be harder to keep up the international sanctions?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE FEDERALIST": It's important to remember that the success that we've had thus far has been due in large part to this very strict sanctions regime, and so to abandon that or to ease up on that without something solid in return might not produce results that we would like to see.
And what I think that President Trump and Mike Pompeo have been talking about is the importance of North Korea choosing a new way of being, seeing that it's in their interest to have a different course of action than the one that they have taken. Sanctions are key to helping them see that it is in their best interest to have a new approach, a less bellicose approach, one where there is more freedom in terms of free enterprise and individual liberty for their people. And so I would hope that everyone would understand the importance in keeping this together. We might need to ramp up our pressure on China and other countries to make sure that that does take place.
WALLACE: Mollie, your general thoughts about the summit? There are some critics who are saying that the president gave too much considering what he got. Do you think that's fair?
HEMINGWAY: It's kind of funny. We've had so many pundits be so wrong for so long. A year ago we were told that we were on the brink of nuclear war because of the approach that President Trump had taken, that we would never get to a summit, that he would never walk away to a summit, that we couldn't hit a June 12th meeting. Time and time again the foreign policy experts have been wrong about what would happen with President Trump's very different approach from the bipartisan consensus that we have seen leading up to this. In fact, we have not like previous meetings that we had, we actually had to give cash money to get them to the table. We didn't have to do that this time.
We have a lot of leverage. They also are a nuclear power, which it puts them in a different position than they have been in previous scenarios. This is a really good first step. As Byron and Mara pointed out, the word "commit" is in this agreement I think eight times. The devil will be in the details. This is a first step, it's a very promising step. There is reason to be happy, but we have a long way to go to see that this actually accomplishes the peace that we all hope for.
WALLACE: Byron, I want to go back to this issue of denuclearization, because the way it is stated in the joint agreement is the complete denuclearization for the Korean peninsula. For the U.S. that means the North Koreans get rid of their nukes. For the North Koreans it means that all nuclear weapons are gone. We don't have nukes in South Korea, but we do have bombers with nukes. We do have ships with nukes. We do have submarines with nukes. Given the fact that this calls for the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and the president agreed to end the joint military exercises with South Korea, any concern on your part that there is a danger to U.S. will fold its nuclear umbrella, which is a nuclear guarantee to protect South Korea and Japan?
YORK: No, I don't think that's contemplated, and I think the president actually specifically did address that, that that is not in the United States definition of denuclearization.
One additional thing, talking about the sanctions and whether they had -- what effect they had on this. Yes, I think tough sanctions on top of previous sanctions did have a big effect, but also the threat of war had a big effect. I don't know how many analysts we have heard over the year saying that war is not an option on the Korean peninsula or war is unthinkable on the Korean peninsula. The Trump military team was thinking about it. They were working through scenarios, and I think that North Korea's knowledge that this seemingly unpredictable man who had become the president was actually working through plans for war in Korea. I think that really caught their attention.
WALLACE: All right, panel, we have to take a break here. Next up, the optics and standout moments from the summit here in Singapore.
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