Return to Transcripts main page
Mexican President Cancels Meeting With Trump; British Prime Minister Promises to Stand Up to President Trump; Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 26, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We have got breaking news off the top here, because not even a week into his administration, President Donald Trump is now facing his first big diplomatic showdown triggered by one of his biggest campaign promises, the border wall the Mexican leader insists their nation will not be paying for.
President Trump just confirmed he will not be meeting with the president of Mexico, a meeting that was slated for next week, who, by the way, minutes earlier had tweeted he had just canceled his visit to the White House set for next week.
Let me play this for you, though. This is President Trump when he was speaking in Philadelphia to some Republican lawmakers on precisely this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall.
And I have made that clear to the government of Mexico. The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week.
Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Manu Raju is there, where that annual retreat is taking place in Philadelphia.
We heard massive applause when the president was talking about Mexico, but we're also hearing from Republicans who were there. And I want you to tell me, are they worried about this dust-up between the two countries' leaders?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Some clearly are, Brooke. Remember, most Republicans on Capitol Hill believe there should be
expanded trade. They say though they support NAFTA, they believe in good relations with Mexico. And what they're seeing right now is the opposite, Donald Trump coming to this retreat and blasting not just Mexico, but also NAFTA, saying the trade deal was a "terrible trade deal."
Also about the relationship between the new president and one of our biggest trading partners to the south of us, earlier today, the Republican leadership came and they addressed reporters here. We asked them -- I asked them specifically about Donald Trump's growing feud with Mexico and whether they are concerned about it and whether Donald Trump should tone down his rhetoric against Mexico.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't have any advice to give to the president about that issue. We are moving ahead, as the speaker pointed out to our group yesterday, with roughly...
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Twelve to 15.
MCCONNELL: Yes, $12 to $15 billion. We intend to address the wall issue ourselves and the president can deal with his relations with other countries on that issue and other issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And then I asked the follow-up to Paul Ryan saying, are you concerned about the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico? And he said -- quote -- "I think we will be fine," not really wanting to get into this spat that has put them in an uncomfortable position.
But, interestingly enough, putting that price tag of $12 billion to $15 billion on the cost of the wall, and not saying whether or not they would cut the spending in order to pay for the wall, that is something that Donald Trump came in here earlier today and also said that the U.S. will not pay for the wall, but as we know now, that taxpayers will do, will pay for it up front. If it does pass Congress and if Mexico is not going to pay for it, they may be left to shoulder the burden -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Manu, all great points. Thank you, sir.
Meantime, the Mexican president's tweet announcing no White House meeting came just a couple hours after a tweet from President Trump. Let me just read this for you this morning. This is what he sent this morning -- quote -- "The U.S. has a $60 billion trade deficit with Mexico. It's been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting."
Let's get the Mexican reaction from our correspondent in Mexico City, and Leyla Santiago is there. Talk to me more about President Pena Nieto's decision, how, according
to Trump, it was mutual, and how Mexicans are reacting.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I'm actually right now standing at the Angel of Independence here, sort of the center of Mexico.
Consider it somewhat like the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. This is where a lot of protests and rallies occur. And this is also where I have spoken to some Mexicans here. I actually spoke to one family who was not aware of this sort of back and forth from this morning.
And when I told them that President Enrique Pena Nieto decided not to go to this meeting January 31, you could sort of see this sense of pride, as if dignity had been restored for them, as if someone was actually standing up for Mexico.
So that was interesting to see their reaction to all the developments, the back and forth since really last night, since President Pena Nieto posted nearly a three-minute video on Twitter, saying, look, I don't believe in walls, I'm certainly not going to pay for one, but I do believe in friendship.
The other thing that came from the Mexican government that I thought was interesting was the foreign minister, who, by the way, is new at this position and is also in Washington, D.C., as we speak in the middle of meetings with top officials from the White House administration.
He said, look, every country has a right to build a wall. You want to build a wall, that's fine. Asking us to pay for it, that's a different story. That's really what we have seen Mexicans sort of taking offense. There doesn't seem to be any opposition from government officials anyway on the actual wall. It's the idea that they would have the pay for it that seems to really question their dignity and having them stand up for their own interests, especially when you have a former president, by the way, a former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, really calling on the president to stand his ground.
SANTIAGO: And senators as well.
BALDWIN: Yes. Leyla, thank you in Mexico City.
By the way, we were listening to you, also looking at pictures of President Trump. He's already back home. That was Joint Base Andrews hopping off Air Force One and presumably heading back to the White House after attending that retreat with Republicans in Philadelphia. Donald Trump not only criticized Mexico when he just spoke at that Republican lawmaker retreat. This is what he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: NAFTA has been a terrible deal, a total disaster for the United States from its inception, costing us as much as $60 billion a year with Mexico alone in trade deficits. You say, who negotiates these deals?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, one of the people President Trump was referring to there. Former Ambassador to Mexico James Jones helped negotiate NAFTA. He's also a former Oklahoma congressman.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks for joining me.
JAMES JONES, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
BALDWIN: Nice to have you, sir, just here as we look at these pictures of the president heading on to Marine One.
Let me ask you. The floor is yours, a chance to respond to president's criticism.
JONES: I look at this from the standpoint of an American who wants to do what's right for America.
And this is the dumbest approach of trying to preserve jobs and build jobs in the United States. It is a backward approach in terms of successful diplomacy.
Ronald Reagan didn't get agreements with the Soviet Union that ultimately led to the end of the Cold War by insulting them. And what's happened here by tweets, campaign-type tweets, the president has insulted and disrespected another sovereign nation.
And their only response was to cancel the proposed meeting scheduled for next week. I think that is very, very shortsighted sided. And the facts he just stated that we are losing $60 billion a year in trade simply are not supported by fact.
BALDWIN: It's not true, you're saying?
JONES: It's not true.
We have had times some years where we had a surplus with Mexico, other years when we have had a deficit. But one fact remans. That is about six million jobs in the United States depend on trade with NAFTA, trade with Mexico. And those jobs on average pay 15 to 18 percent more in wages than just domestic trade. And another fact is that the -- well, what I'm trying to get at is
that we are shooting ourselves in the foot by insulting a neighbor. And as far as the wall is concerned, that is no big deal.
BALDWIN: Building the wall? Let me just make sure I'm clear. Building the wall is not a big deal, paying $15 billion not a big deal?
JONES: Well, having the wall built, I wonder what it is going to do? It is not going to stop illegal immigration, the way some people say it would.
A much smarter approach to protecting our borders, both electronic, as well as physical structures, is the better way to do it. So, I just -- I don't understand what this is all about.
As far as Mexico is concerned, they don't mind if we build a wall. That's our business. That's not going to interfere with us.
BALDWIN: Mr. Ambassador, let me just jump in. How does -- the fact that the Mexican president will not be heading to the White House next week is significant. Where is it in "The Art of the Deal" where the other side, this case Enrique Pena Nieto, doesn't even come to the table?
JONES: Well, once the gauntlet was laid down on a unilateral basis, President Pena had no other choice but to cancel the meeting.
And now, if we're going to get it back on track, that's going to require more behind-the-scenes negotiations. I think it is important that we get it back on track, that we start talking about our trade relationship, because it does mean jobs in the United States.
And we have to get start improving NAFTA. NAFTA is a 25-year-old-or- so treaty. It has been very successful in terms of what it has accomplished, but it's behind the scenes. When NAFTA was done, we didn't have cell phones as such. We didn't have a whole range of other technology. And that kind of intellectual property protection needs to be done.
BALDWIN: Forgive me, sir, but you have heard what President Trump has said about NAFTA. You have also heard what he said about this wall, which you say maybe could be pulled off, although it wouldn't be effective.
Then there's the whole piece of American taxpayers paying the $15 billion and then there's the piece of apparently Mexico saying essentially hell no, we're not reimbursing you. Is there any scenario, Mr. Ambassador, where the wall is built, in your mind, and it's paid for by Mexico? JONES: The only one that I can see right now is the notorious drug
lord Guzman, who has been sent to the United States for action.
Our government says he has $14 billion in assets. And if we seize those assets, I think that could pay for the wall in itself. I don't think you would see a lot of objections out of Mexico on something like that,
However, I think we ought to separate this wall business. That was a good campaign issue. It drew the applause and things like that. But I think the campaign is over. We ought to govern. We ought to be involved in diplomacy and put that kind of campaign rhetoric behind us.
BALDWIN: Well, he says he's building the wall in a couple of months and House Speaker Paul Ryan says $15 billion, it's a go.
JONES: Well, in terms of the Southern border, the U.S. Southern border, there does need to be some improvements in the security of that.
And that can be done. And I think that's probably what they're going to do is to have a combination of physical structures and electronic structures that will improve our security.
But I think we ought to separate this wall business from the trade business. The trade business is much more important to us than the wall is. Let's negotiate them both on their separate terms.
BALDWIN: OK. Ambassador James Jones, you would know. You would know. Thank you, sir, very much.
JONES: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Next, Republicans used to criticize former President Obama for his signing of executive actions, so how do they feel about Mr. Trump in the fist couple of days of office and his executive actions?
Also ahead, moments from now, one day after saying she will stand up to President Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May in Philadelphia. What sort of words will she have for the U.S. president? We will take it live.
BALDWIN: We have just gotten in some video. Let me just set this up for you and we will play it. We will all look at it for the first time.
We know, of course, the president has just landed Joint Base Andrews after heading to Philadelphia. And so here after they landed, actually, the Trump administration allowed press -- can I stop talking and can we just listen for a sec? Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Doing good, thank you.
TRUMP: Beautiful. Great plane. Really beautiful. Nice plane.
TRUMP: I did, yes. Terrific.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, guys, thank you very much.
TRUMP: Well, that's a good one too, but this is a very special plane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, guys, very much.
TRUMP: They just gave me that. Pretty cool jacket, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: OK, so that's what we got, little glimpse into Air Force One and the president's office.
I have got Bill Press and Senator Santorum with me.
Just quickly actually, Senator Santorum, let me just begin with you.
I don't see any Reagan jelly beans. That was my first observation, but I also noticed the TV was on. I heard a commercial. Are you going to get an invite on that plane any time soon, sir?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: I have been in that office a few times on Air Force One. And it's a very special place.
Look, I'm excited for Donald Trump. He's taken on the first few days with a lot of vigor. He's tried to keep his campaign promises, which is something that is different than many presidents, and even the tough ones, like we've seen here with Mexico.
The idea that he would somehow back off his campaign promise, a rather major one, in the first week is sort of silly to expect. And the fact that he's going out there and fighting, I think the folks who voted for him for sure and I think a lot of other Americans are excited that we have a president out there scrapping for what he said he was going to do.
[15:20:07] BALDWIN: No, let me stay with you, because I agree. I think follow-
through is huge and he absolutely appears to be following through on this huge promise of building this wall.
We heard Senator Mitch McConnell saying the price tag is somewhere in the $15 billion neighborhood. Paul Ryan, who knows a thing or two about budgets and pinching pennies, essentially gave it the stamp of approval.
Where does the money, Senator Santorum, come from? We know it's existing funds. How extensive will this be?
SANTORUM: Well, I don't know what the numbers are as far as what it's going to cost. I have heard anywhere from $10 billion to now $15 billion.
But the bottom line is, there's a statute in place that says we're going to build this wall. I voted for it back in 2006 and was a strong supporter of it.
I think most people say that it will in fact improve our security and reduce the number of people coming here into the southern part of the United States. And there are funds that have been appropriated in the past. I know this past administration, the Obama administration, was not for constructing the wall.
Donald Trump is. And I think there's broad support across the country, as well as in Congress, to fund it.
BALDWIN: Bill Press, I don't know if you just were listening to my conversation with Jim Jones, with the former ambassador, who was saying he had a creative idea. Maybe if Mexico won't be reimburse, we can just take the $15 billion from the drug kingpin Guzman we've just extradited to the U.S., not an idea I had heard before.
Are pigs flying before Mexico pays?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, it's the best idea I have heard yet about how to pay for this wall.
BALDWIN: Out of the box.
PRESS: I just have to say, as a member of the White House press corps, it's a big deal to get in that office. I have flown on Air Force One twice with President Obama, twice with President Clinton.
To sit in the back, very comfortable. The press secretary comes back and briefs you. But it's very, very rare for the media to get -- unlike U.S. senators, for the media to get invited into that office. So, it was a good move today to open it up.
PRESS: Look, let me just say this. I don't mean to shock anybody. I do not believe in the Tooth Fairy. Mexico is not going to pay for this wall. If you believe that, you
believe in the Tooth Fairy. It's not going to happen. And Donald Trump has not gone -- has gone from building the wall -- and he's living up to that campaign promise -- and having Mexico pay for it, to now we're going to wall and we're going to pay for it.
As a businessman, he would never make a deal like this, build a building, pay for it himself, on the promise that somebody else would reimburse him.
It is idiotic to believe that's going to happen. And I must say, to me, for Republican senators to say, or Paul Ryan, House and Senate, to say we will go along with this plan, right, these are the people who demanded offsets, some of them, before they would pay states of Hurricane Sandy, the damage of Hurricane Sandy. That's how budgetary- conscious they were.
And now they're going to blow $15 billion for a wall, which is 19th century technology for a 21st century problem?
BALDWIN: I see you shaking your head, Senator. Jump in.
SANTORUM: Yes. There's a difference between emergency spending that is not in our budget and actually putting in the budget money to construct the wall.
PRESS: It's $15 billion, Senator.
SANTORUM: Well, again, it wouldn't be this year. It's not $15 billion this year. It's going to take several years to build this wall.
BALDWIN: But how does it work if he says we're building it in a couple of months?
PRESS: Yes. He says we're going to build it now.
SANTORUM: OK. I don't know if you're going to be able to spend $15 billion and build a wall in that short a period of time.
But the fact of the matter is, it will probably take more than a few months. It will probably take a few years, number one. And, number two, there are other ways to get Mexico to pay for this, other than a straight-up contribution for the wall.
And I think Donald Trump is putting things on the table right now and then is going to be giving and taking, whether it's on the trade route, or whether it's on national security. We have relationships from a national security point of view for them. So there are all sort of ways to get Mexico to -- quote -- "pay for the wall" without them writing a check for it.
PRESS: Can I say something to that?
Again, we are being very fast and loose with $15 billion there. But I just want to remind everybody, including you, Senator, Mexico is a sovereign nation. We cannot force them to do anywhere. There's no way we can force Mexico to pay for this wall.
And I thought Ambassador Jones made a very good point. They're such an important trading partner. They're such an important partner in counterterrorism and the drug traffic and all that, that we have got more important things to work to Mexico with than by embarrassing them by saying, if you don't pay for this wall, we're going to cancel our meeting with you.
BALDWIN: You get the last word, Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: I would just say that Mexico has a responsibility with us to police that border, to make sure it is safe, to make sure there aren't crossings that are illegal.
And they haven't done a very good job at that. And so there's a lot we can do to pressure Mexico to put up money that could help offset our cost of enforcing the border.
PRESS: Ain't going to happen.
Senator Rick Santorum, Bill Press, thank you. And also thanks for the thoughts on Air Force One there. That was nice to give the press the access to.
Coming up next, British Prime Minister Theresa May promising her country she will stand up to President Trump when she has to. Both world leaders meeting with congressional Republicans today. And the prime minister will be speaking momentarily. We will take it live. You're watching CNN.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live pictures Philadelphia, because we are waiting for the leader of the closest ally to the United States, Prime Minister Theresa May.
She will be -- from Britain -- she will be speaking here at the annual House Republicans' retreat in Philadelphia. She is the first