WH spokesman: If meeting with Trump doesn't happen, 'it's the North Koreans' fault'

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl goes one-on-one with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah on "This Week."
16:00 | 03/11/18

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Transcript for WH spokesman: If meeting with Trump doesn't happen, 'it's the North Koreans' fault'
could lead to great losses. If the North Korea gambit fails we could be on the brink of war. Let's bring on Raj shah. Thanks for having mean. North Korea, can you tell us anything more about when or where this meeting is going to happen? Let me step back and when it comes to North Korea it's important to understand how we got here. This president took office a little over a year ago inherited a policy that wasn't working for the previous eight years. He adopted a policy of maximum pressure on North Korea. We've seen China dramatically reduce trade with North Korea. We've seen the united nations impose tough sanctions. It's been increasingly isolated diplomatly and economically. In this context Kim Jong-un spoke with the south Koreans and made this overture. They're going to cease missile testing and nuclear testing and they've agreed to not object publicly to the upcoming America South Korea joint exercises. Where and when? It's going to be a time and place to be decided. We have accepted the offer. We hope it's part of an important break through. Could it be here in the United States? Would president trump be open to having Kim Jong-un at the white house? I have no announcement. Time and place to be determined. But he wouldn't rule that out? No. Would the president be open to going to North Korea? I don't think that that's highly likely. Again, I won't rule anything out. Do we have any indications that Kim Jong-un is now open to denuclearization? This has been a point of pride obviously for North Korea. Any indication that he's actually changed his view on this? He stated his commitment to denuclearization to South Korea. Do you believe him? We think Kim Jong-un is the only partner that can make that decision. He stated a commitment to denuclearization to South Korea. They relayed that to us. When this announce men was made, the white house said the president accepted the offer. Then on Friday Sarah Sanders said there are concrete actions North Korea has to take before. They have to meet the promises they relayed to the south Koreans which is ceases missile testing and nuclear testing. Are there concrete actions? This meeting, this potential meeting has been agreed to. No additional conditions being stipulated. They cannot engage in missile testing or nuclear testing and can't publicly object to the U.S. South Korea planned exercises. Any chance this doesn't happen? There's the possibility. The only thing that could stop this is if they resume their testing. If they reject to the promises they made to the south Koreans, obviously we would Poe T potentially not. The president warned secretary of state Rex tillerson that he was wasting his time talking to little rocketman. Why would it work now? What changed? The president has not adopted some of the failed policies we've seen over the last couple did he kids which is negotiations an concession. Our policy is pressure. Pressure from our allies around the world, pressure through the united nations and pressure through China. These have impacted Kim Jong-un's behavior and his conduct. We're hoping this pressure campaign is changing Kim Jong-un's behavior. The president told his own secretary of state it was a waste of time to talk to little rocketman. We hope there can be a break through. A peaceful resolution is going to involve some negotiation. The president in his state of the June younion address spoke very passionately about these events. There are three Americans imprisoned in North Korea. Is he going to insist they're released. I won't speak to any talks. Is it part of this or just nukes? It's an important issue. Our policy is pressure. Let's turn to tariffs. This was condemned by most economists, Republicans and allies. Jeff flake, senator, Republican senator from Arizona said these flexible tariffs are a marriage of two lethal poisons, protection and uncertainty. Trade wars are not won. They're always lost. Isn't he right on that? No he's not. This president ran on trade policies that promote the interest of American workers. He ran with 16 other candidates andhen defeated Hillary Clinton. The United States has some of the lowest tariff barriers in the world. We want our exports to have access to foreign markets just as foreign markets have access to the United States. On the issue of steam and aluminum, that's critical to national security. We've seen the number of factories decrease not just since the '70s and 80s but in the last five years. This is important not just to our economy but also national security. Most of his own national security team opposed these tariffs. If you look at the economic impact, we have one study by the trade partnership that said it will safe 30,000 jobs, but will cost 180,000,000 jobs in other industry. This is critical to national security. As you said, this is the president keeping a promise. Did the president's national security adviser approve of this? I'm not going to get into specifics. It's consistent with what the president said not just during the campaign, but for decades how foreign manufacturers have ripped off the American worker. It's been a month since the parkland shooting. You guys are going to be announcing something today. What are you going to tell us? We're going to be laying out more specifics, a series of proposals. Like what? Some will be legislative, some administrative, also a task force to study this issue. It's going to be consistent with what the president talked about which is -- Let's get into the specifics. I was in the room when he was negotiating with congressional leaders. He made it clear he was in favor of raising the age to 21 for assault weapons. He also said universal plans. Improving the background system. He didn't say improving. He said universal. Improving background checks as well as other measures to make sure the flow of information that goes into the background check system from local and state courts is more updated. Real time information is made available. Universal? Improving the check system. That's different than what he said. What about raising the age? The president has been clear he does support raising the age to 21. There's going to be recommendations to states and a task force. That will be a component raising the age, as well as mental health. "The Wall Street journal" reporting $50 million to have schools with security. Is that right? There's a provision -- $50 million? Again, I don't want to get ahead of the specifics. There's a component around getting volunteered -- individuals who are trained professionals into school. Let's get to another contact. The Russia investigation. The president has told me twice now, once last year, once this year, that he will meet and talk to the special counsel, answer questions under oath. I assume the president plans to keep his word on that? Look, he's also said that will be in consultation with his attorneys. They've been in touch with the special counsel. They'll be communicating back and forth. He said 100% yes to me. I'm sure he intends to. His attorneys are communicating with the special counsel. It was reported this week that president trump asked white house counsel don mcgahn to deny the president asked him to fire special counsel Mueller. I've got two questions. Dithe president ask mcgahn to fire Mueller and did he deny that? We're cooperating with the special counsel. The president has been clear and consistent. There was no collusion, no obstruction. The white house is cooperating with the special counsel's office. I'm not asking you about the special counsel. I'm asking you about the president's actions. Did the president ask his white house counsel to fire Mueller? This is a matter that's been asked about. You can't tell me if that's not true? Matters with the special counsel are being dealt with with the special counsel. I want to play something for you that attorney general Jeff sessionsp said. Do you think it was a mistake to recuse yourself from the Russian investigation? No, I don't. There is a specific regulation that says if you participate in a campaign it is -- it explicitly says you can't investigate the campaign you're a part of. Pretty reasonable right? He's right. Let's step back for a second. This investigation was about collusion with the Russian government between the trump campaign. There's been zero evidence that we've seen of collusion between the Russian government and the trump campaign. The president who would be aware of any types of events has been clear and understands there is no collusion. As he has said, this investigation is everything from a hoax to a witch hunt. Are there any circumstances back to a variation of an earlier question that the president would fire Robert Mueller? If Mueller began to look into the stormy Daniels pay off, is that a red line? I'm not here to declare a red line. There's no intention to fire Robert Mueller. We've been fully cooperative. We respect their process. When I asked you about stormy Daniels, this is what you said E in the white house briefing room? Is the president aware his lawyer paid that kind of money to a porn star? I haven't asked him about it. That matter has been asked and answered. He acknowledged this last week. This is the first time we've had a chance to ask about it. Can we find out if the president -- I haven't asked him about that. Will you? I haven't asked you. Will you? I'll get back to you. Did the president approve the payment that his personal lawyer made to stormy Daniels? Not that I'm aware of. Michael Cohen the attorney in question addressed this. Sarah addressed it. I have nothing to add. Did the president reimburse Michael Cohen? Not to my knowledge. Have you asked the president that question? I haven't asked the president that question. Does the president believe stormy Daniels has the right to speak or is he demanding she Rema remain silent? It's a private legal matter to which the president's attorney has spoken about. I have refer you to Michael Cohen about the specifics regarding that. We're almost out of time. Quick lightening round. In terms of specifics beyond that I would have to check and get back. I could get specifics. I can back to you. I would have to get back to you. Quick ones. Sure. One of the questions that came up did president trump talk to his friend Carl icon before imposing steel and aluminum. He told $30 million worth of steel and aluminum stock. Do you have an answer today? Not that I'm aware of. Any investor could have looked at what the president's been saying. On February 27th has the president had a meeting with his national security council to discuss options to deal with Russia's cyber attacks? There was a principals committee meeting between senior officials in law enforcement to discuss this issue specifically. Does the president believe that someone who is on the no fly list should also be -- because of suspected terrorist activity should not be able to buy a gun? He was asked about it again. Does he still hold that view, no fly, no buy? I don't know if he supports that specific provisions. Individuals on that list are not given due process right. One last one. Steve Bannon, Sarah was asked when was the last time the president spoke to Steve Bannon. I'm not aware of any phone calls they've had recently. Raj shah your debut on "This week," thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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