'Special Report' All-Stars on Trump's North Korean strategy

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned I know we will have success.

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury.

CHUNG EUI-YONG, SOUTH KOREAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization. President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea. Let's be very clear, the United States has made zero concessions, but North Korea has made some promises.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: And Sarah Sanders went on today to say eight times that there needed to be concrete actions by North Korea before it was actually schedule, this meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Because of the diplomacy actions in the past North Korea doesn't have a great track record. You look back at 1994 they signed this agreed framework and eventually moved forward with the program anyway. 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, six party talks were supposed to lead to denuclearization.

They didn't. In 20019 they withdraw from the six party talks saying it will no longer be bound by any of these agreements. And if anyone thought that Donald Trump has not been talking about talking to the North Koreans for a long time, here's an interview with Tim Russert back in 1999.


TRUMP: We have a country out there, North Korea, which is sort of whacko, which is not a bunch of dummies, and they are going out and they are developing nuclear weapons. AND they are not doing it because they are having fun doing it. They are doing it for a reason. And wouldn't it be good to sit down and really negotiate something, and ideally negotiate? Now, if that negotiation doesn't work, you better solve the problem now than solve it later.


BAIER: That was 1999, Donald Trump. Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics and host of "No Labels Radio" on Sirius XM, and Tom Rogan, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. Tom, you wrote that this is progress here.

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thank you for the reference there, Bret. I think it is progress. And it is progress in the sense that finally North Korea has put itself in a position to at least talk about the potential suspension of these programs. The ballistic missile program I think is the critical element because without that they can't hit the United States.

But look, I don't think there is anything to lose if the president meets with Kim Jong-un as soon as possible, and when they do meet, about 72 after they get the inspectors in, because if Kim is serious he will be amenable to that, and then we can have a two week period of snap inspections like we don't see in Iran. And the worst case in that sense, though, is you have perhaps spent three or four weeks doing something unusual, but you have not wasted months. And wasting months would mean their development towards that ballistic missiles. We want to do something before then. If this works, great. If it doesn't we have not lost that much time.

BAIER: What can we say are facts? Is it a fact that these sanctions have had an effect? That they have squeezed him enough that he was feeling it? Do we believe that to be a fact?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: We do. And I have given this administration great credit for going further than past ones, squeezing the Chinese, getting consequential sanctions out of the U.N. But I also feel that -- I think I've read Tom Rogan's writings on this that basically they need a little more time to reach operational capacity. And talking about halting tests while they complete the development of their arsenal, this provides them more time. These are promises they have never, ever kept.

Why when you would be getting so close to completing your mission that you have put as a priority above all else that you've starved your people for, why would you just fold now? So this is not nation that keeps its promises. And what makes clear from the retreat at the podium today with the president's spokeswoman is that somebody got to him and said you actually have to make clear that you're going to need some either IAEA inspections or something on the table before you actually sit down.

BAIER: Yes, hence the eight concretes from Sarah Sanders. Now, supporters say, listen, this was part of President Trump when he talked in a bellicose way of fire and fury and all of the tweets back and forth and how big is your button and all of that, this led to a change in the dynamic. Critics say that by sitting down with Kim Jong-un that you are giving him exactly what he wants, which is legitimacy up against an American president that they've hungered for forever.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Sure, but I think you don't want to minimize the part about some of the bellicose remarks. Just last week we the president joking with the dangers of meeting with a madman in meeting in North Korea, and meeting with a madman, and he just sort of laughs it off and says but that's his problem.

BAIER: That was at the dinner.

HURT: Yes. I do think stuff, playing crazy is actually a very effective way to do it. I think Donald Trump himself has warned against false hopes. Obviously this could amount to nothing and it could be foot dragging, but I would rather having this happening right now in the Koran peninsula than something else. And I don't think that it's -- we know that 20 years of strategic patience which is diplo-speak for we got nothing, or I am not doing anything, hasn't worked out very well for us. And so maybe jangling some chains and trying to get movement is not a bad thing.

BAIER: It's interesting, for Republicans who are reacting to this and cautiously and skeptically, Democrats for a long time, President Obama when he campaigned in 2007 said he would meet with Kim Jong-un and a number of other leaders around the world.

ROGAN: And he was criticized for that. And I think Republicans need to accept that, some humility there, that the ball has changed. I think the key issue here, though, is why doesn't the president meet with Kim Jong-un next week or the week after instead of before May? Because the longer -- the key is to test as quickly as you can. Have that meeting next week, get the inspectors in 72 hours --

BAIER: The diplomats who say, are they ready? Do they need to set the groundwork?

ROGAN: What do they need to be ready about?

BAIER: Technically, are they read to move forward with whatever the inspection regime is going to be after they throw their hands up and leave the table?

ROGAN: I think this is stuff that you can get done very quickly if you need to. And I think that should be the exigent factor.

BAIER: All right, does it happen quickly?

ROGAN: I think it doesn't, unfortunately, no.


HURT: I think it takes longer than we think right now.

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