Return to Transcripts main page

CNN'S AMANPOUR

Trump Meets May at the White House; Merkel, Hollande Call for European Unity; Tough Talk Over Immigrant Communities; Touring the Tenement Museum

Aired January 27, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:12] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the British Prime Minister meets the new U.S. president. At the end of his turbulent first

week on the job, former Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer joins us live on the special relationship.

Also ahead, close friends and neighbors, now U.S./Mexico relations seems to have been headed into the gutter. A former U.S. commerce

secretary joins us about the dangers of Trump's Twitter diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, FORMER COMMERCE SECRETARY: We're extremely close to a, if not a trade war, at least a trade skirmish. And totally unnecessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Against a fiery backdrop of explosive

public diplomacy that has already blown a hole in one key relationship, Donald Trump welcomes its first world leader to the White House -- the

British Prime Minister Theresa May. After torpedoing the next scheduled visit with the Mexican president over his insistence that Mexico will pay

for his wall, in seven days that shook the world Trump has gone from inauguration to confrontation.

But he sounded much more soothing standing side by side with America's closest transatlantic partner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together, America and the United Kingdom are a beacon for prosperity and the rule of law. That is

why the United States respects the sovereignty of the British people and their right of self-determination. A free and independent Britain is a

blessing to the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: While Trump and May talked up the importance of their special relationship, another one was being nurtured here in Europe. The French

President Francois Hollande and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin saying Donald Trump poses a challenge and talking up the need to

defend the free, political and strategic world order in face of their adversaries.

So let's bring in Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador to Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Sir Christopher Meyer, you saw this press conference. You know, you've seen the backdrop as we've explain. What about the body

language? Do you think perhaps sent comforting signals around the world today?

CHRISTOPHER MEYER, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO WASHINGTON: Well, I was comforted and I hope everybody else would have been because I thought their body

language was pretty good.

They were quite warm to each other. The look -- the key thing is do they look at each other when they are speaking for reassurance or for

agreement. And there was a fair bit of that between the president and the prime minister. So it's pretty good.

AMANPOUR: Who do you think had most at stake in this press conference today? Because, obviously, you know, he had to look presidential after all

that we've described went on this last week, including the rapture with Mexican president. She needed to come back with a real tight embrace and a

promise of a trade deal to strengthen her Brexit negotiating hat.

MEYER: Well, I'll give you a classic diplomat stance and say they both came out winners.

AMANPOUR: Classic.

MEYER: Yes. First of all, he did look quite presidential because he was restrained. Even, I thought he was a little bit nervous from time to

time and fluffed his lines, calm, presidential. And she came to get certain things and I thought that at this press conference, she was able to

register a real achievement, just taken the potential poison out of issues that could have been really worrying for us on NATO, on torture and how do

you handle Putin, on all of those things, it looks like the president delivered.

AMANPOUR: Let us play a little bit of the sound bite, some of what she had to say and we'll talk to you about those issues you've just mentioned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, and he has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding

or however you want to define it.

I happen to feel that it does work. I've been open about that for a long period of time, but I am going with our leaders and we're going to win

with or without, but I do disagree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Slightly all over the place. We're going to win. I believe it. I do disagree, leaders, et cetera, but let's face it, torture is now

illegal in the United States. The president cannot overturn that, but again, the May effect, the prime minister; the Mattis effect, his very

tough-minded new Defense secretary.

This will go down well in the rest of the world. That the president seems to be deferring to people who say no, sorry, we can't do that.

[14:05:00] MEYER: Well, I don't know about the rest of world, but it just had to go down well here in London. There's no doubt about it at all.

Mattis is against it. He's given Mattis the responsibility here. That will clear the way for us for. All kinds of things that otherwise might

not have been possible.

AMANPOUR: And what about the NATO issue and particularly Russia and Putin. Obviously, Putin's, you know, interest is served, isn't it? It sort of

busting apart the alliance, driving a wedge between European countries, between Europe and the United States and all of that.

What do you think this recommitment to NATO will say to Putin ahead of their planned phone call tomorrow between Trump and Putin.

MEYER: Well, I think that with the trade issue, this was the single most important thing that Theresa May needed to nail down. It was the thing

that made Trump's approving remarks about Putin during the presidential campaign so dangerous was they were linked to a lack of confidence in NATO.

And in fact, telling us that NATO was obsolete.

The fact he's now recommitted to NATO, and I suspect Theresa May said I'm going to work with you, Mr. President, to get the other members to pay

up to get to the 2 percent GDP, which has helped Trump say would have said this has made the issue how you deal with Putin far less difficult and

dangerous because we have sealed the NATO, if you like, the NATO front with America force where behind the alliance. Once you're there, you can start,

you can maneuver how you deal with Russia.

AMANPOUR: That's really important. This idea of sealing the sort of bond -- resealing it and in terms of the sanctions, obviously, President Putin

would like to initiate some kind of dialogue to get rid of the economic sanctions.

Theresa May standing there in front of Donald Trump said we don't believe the sanctions should be removed unless President Putin meets the

ceasefire obligations and the Peace Treaty of Minsk regarding Eastern Ukraine.

MEYER: Yes. This is where it's worth talking about a special relationship. I've always been very skeptical about it, but it's always

seemed to be an exercise in mutual sentimentality. But here what we have seen on this trip generally and on that particular point is Theresa May

investing the relationship with new tough meaning, if you like. And this is one absolute particular case of this. She said what she thinks Minsk

agreement, before we even think about raising sanctions against Moscow.

AMANPOUR: And that is a message that's really important one and the European partners will be very interested --

(CROSSTALK)

MEYER: They should be really pleased.

AMANPOUR: Yes, they would be very please, because they've said that that's what they wanted. But on the issue of the EU, Donald Trump again because

he believes that the EU is going to break up further and he sort of seems to support it or the actors who are sort of militating towards that, how is

that going to go down in Europe and the fact that Theresa May announced that they are well into talking about a trade deal and even right now

enabling conditions for business partners on both sides.

MEYER: Yes. Well, I think, from a British point of view, it's really important to be able to show to the Europeans -- to Brussels, to Berlin, to

Paris that we do have other options. This is not just pie in the sky. This is real stuff endorsed by the U.S. president.

Nobody in Europe would of course welcome what Donald Trump has had to say about his enormous support for Brexit, regaining our sovereignty as if

we lost it, to be honest, and all of that.

But this is a very useful set of statements by the U.S. president for us as we are on the verge of pressing the button of Article 15 going to

negotiation with the Europeans. Some of the things in this will please the continental Europeans and some things in this visit will make life more

difficult for them, but from our point of view, why not.

AMANPOUR: And from your point of view and rest of the world's point of view, the U.N. is a very, very important institution no matter how flawed

it just is. There is a lot of rumor and fear that the United States will slash a huge amount of its money and contributions to the U.N. and who

knows what is going to happen next.

This is Nikki Haley, the newly confirmed U.S. U.N. ambassador today. Let's play it and we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Our goal with the administration is to show value at the U.N. and the way that we'll show

value is to show our strength, to show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well. For those that

don't have our back, we're taking names. We will make points to respond to that accordingly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: You know, my hands are up in the air. What do they mean taking names? Taking whose names?

MEYER: I would say to you, Christiane, only in America does that kind of thing get said. But I would refer you to what Theresa May said about

international institutions in her speech. Because --

AMANPOUR: In her speech in Philadelphia.

MEYER: That's right. A speech in Philadelphia to the Republicans.

AMANPOUR: To the Republicans.

MEYER: Where she actually spoke in favor of international institutions with a caveat that so many of them needed reform and modernization. I took

that to mean the European Union, NATO and the United Nations itself. And I guess the message to President Trump will be, I know how frustrated you are

with these organizations. They tried to, you know, phrase it, but they are the only ones we have. So I'm with you in trying to reform them and bring

them into the 21st century.

AMANPOUR: From the prime minister's mouth to the president's ear.

MEYER: Yes.

AMANPOUR: We'll see how it works out. Ambassador Meyer, thank you so much.

MEYER: Thank you.

[14:10:00] AMANPOUR: And for maintaining those bridges across the Atlantic to building walls across your border, why that could just make America

poorer again. The former U.S. Commerce secretary explains the U.S./Mexico feud next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

After a very public spat and a canceled meeting, Donald Trump and the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke by phone today for close to an

hour. Afterwards, Trump said the conversation was very friendly but he continued to talk tough about his southern neighbor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As you know, Mexico with the United States has out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They've made us look

foolish. We have a trade deficit of $60 billion with Mexico. On top of that, the border is soft and weak and drugs are pouring in and I'm not

going to let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Now, after yesterday's spat and the meeting that was canceled, the White House press secretary floated the idea that a 20 percent tariff

on Mexican imports could pay for Donald Trump's border wall, but the Mexican foreign minister and the U.S. Congress reminded that that would

just pass along the cost to the American consumer.

I've been talking to George W. Bush's commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez about where all of this could end up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Secretary Gutierrez, welcome to the program.

Can I start by asking you, did the president of the United States nearly start his first trade war yesterday with this idea of a 20 percent

tariff on Mexican goods if they didn't play ball?

GUTIERREZ: Well, we're very close to it. We're extremely close to a, if not a trade war, at least a trade skirmish. And totally unnecessary.

This whole thing started out with the wall. I don't believe anyone is going to convince President Trump not to build the wall. But we have to

realize that, first of all, in Mexico, the wall is tremendously unpopular. But there is recognition that the U.S. has the right to build a wall on

their territory. The part that becomes a national humiliation is making Mexico pay for the wall.

And we need to realize it doesn't matter what the numbers say, it doesn't matter what's going to happen to trade, Mexico can't accept that.

[14:15:10] AMANPOUR: Do you accept Trump's supporters who say this disruption with Mexico is just what President Trump wants. It is the kind

of revolutionary disruption that he intends to create for the benefit of the United States?

GUTIERREZ: Well, my concern is that that disruption will hurt Americans. There are millions of American jobs tied to NAFTA. If we put in a 20

percent tariff, Mexico has to respond in kind.

Again, remember, they cannot be seen as being pushed around. Part of the problem here as you say is that it is a public negotiation with 140

characters by tweet. This should be done in a closed door room over many weeks, months if necessary, and have a give and take, have an honest

conversation. But I can't see how we establish some kind of a win-win situation if we're negotiating in public. It just doesn't work.

AMANPOUR: So for the benefit of the United States, which President Trump is single-handedly focused on, do you accept that the NAFTA somehow has to

be either ripped up or renegotiated.

I mean, in response to this tweet by President Trump today, that Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough, massive trade

deficits, little help on very weak border must change now. And he talks about this $60 billion surplus.

What is the actual factual truth of who's losing, who's winning and who could hurt and who could, you know, heal from all of this?

GUTIERREZ: Well, the reality is NAFTA is a $1 trillion market. Amazing. And if you look at -- it's been around for about 23 years. If you look at

the 23 years before NAFTA and look at the key indicators of each of the three economies and look at the economic indicators during the 23 years of

NAFTA, you will see that NAFTA has been a stabilizing force. It's been good for all three economies. So the numbers say that. But the number of

supply chains, computer systems that have been integrated throughout these three countries, you just can't switch off a light and just make it go

away. These are billions and billions of dollars that have been invested into the infrastructure that is NAFTA.

Now we can improve the agreement. It's been around for a long time. The world has changed a lot in 22 years. Of course, we can update it and

we can improve it. But that is very different than tearing it apart, undoing it. I think that would be devastating for the U.S. economy, for

the Mexican economy and importantly for regional security.

AMANPOUR: Well, if I might be so bold and you can correct me if I'm wrong, Mexico and this explosion here is almost small potatoes compared to what

could happen if this was transferred to the relationship with China.

You are a former CEO. You are a former cabinet secretary. What do you make of President Trump antagonizing China right now via tweet over

Taiwan, over trade and again the threat of tariffs and all of the rest of it?

GUTIERREZ: By starting with Taiwan, we touched on the one issue that China will go to war over. So that is something that, you know, we have to be

expecting a some kind of retaliatory move from China. To have a trade war with China would not be just devastating for the U.S. and China but for the

world.

So the problem here is -- and also China is saving face. They went through their 100 years of humiliation. They are not going to take it

anymore. And being perceived as pushed or bullied by the U.S. is something that President Xi Jinping will not allow -- the Chinese people will not

allow. And, you know, they will suffer through a poor economy as long as they don't lose national pride.

AMANPOUR: But President Trump sees it exactly the reverse. He sees those countries as taking on fair advantage of the United States. Is this a

narrative that is based in fact? Do you recognize that?

GUTIERREZ: The 40 percent of exports coming from Mexico to the U.S., 40 percent of the content comes from the U.S. So we're participating in that

as well. Our consumers get lower prices. U.S. corporations are able to pay higher dividends and have a higher stock price and hire more people in

the U.S. because they have a good business overseas.

[14:20:08] We need a bilateral immigration agreement that makes both countries accountable for the border, where we can have a system to hire

Mexican workers, to come into the U.S. but do it legally, do it through some kind of a recruiting mechanism that's set up. Today, we're doing it

through a black market.

Just a number for you, Christiane. The sense is that the estimate, that we need about 700,000 to a million farm workers every year. The

problem is how do we ensure a legal immigration system so that we don't have to use smugglers and we don't have to resort to a black market to make

our economy work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez talking to me from New York. And when we come back, they may be under assault by the new

administration but re-imagine the world immigrants have made of America. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, as President Trump takes aim at immigrants in the United States, mayors like New York's Bill de Blasio are making

impassioned defences of their immigrant communities and pledging to go to court to defy the president's executive orders against their so-called

sanctuary cities.

Trump is upping the ante by promising more, quote, "extreme vetting" of refugees which could cut those entering by half.

Imagine a world where the United States loses the very kinds of people who made America great in the first place. So our visit to the Tenement

Museum in downtown New York was indeed a well-timed outing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to 97 Orchard Street. This is our Tenement. It was built in 1863 during the civil war. This tour that I'm going to

give you today is about two families who actually lived here. One who moved in at the very beginning and a family who was kicked out when the

building was condemned in 1935.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): In New York City's lower east side, a tour group takes a step into the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Picture the mom and dad, four kids, dinner time, August, stove is on, cooking some Persian food.

AMANPOUR: This is the Tenement Museum, devoted to telling the story of America's immigrants, using recreated apartments to bring those stories

to life.

Donald Trump's election has brought immigration to the fore. And the museum has noticed a change.

[14:25:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely more mentions of Trump, mentions of refugees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we found in the last certainly couple of months is that there's a harder edge to some of those critiques about contemporary

immigration.

NICK CAPODICE, SENIOR EDUCATOR, TENEMENT MUSEUM: What's interesting is people are a bit more forthcoming with their opinions about immigration,

which I think is actually good opportunity.

I have one photograph of Natalie Gumpertz. Visitors are very quick to say, my grandparents were great but the ones nowadays, I'm not so sure.

And that's what our job is at the Tenement Museum, to make those deep connections. It's a complicated story to contrast the stories of the 1860s

and 1870s and 1900s to who's coming now.

All right, follow me.

This family came to the United States in the 1920s. They were part of a massive wave of Italians coming to the U.S.

Where are their paychecks going?

Back home.

Can the U.S. support the largest immigrant group whose only income is going back home? These are the questions that are raised in the political minds

in the 1920s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not that much different than now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When visitors are able to stand in an apartment of an immigrant mother and father and children from 100 years ago, and then make

those connections and nod and say that sounds a lot like today, that's something that we do reflectively, but now they can actually say, I know

why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This museum exhibits that excellently. It shows how people lived, how families reacted, how parents react with their children

and they want a better life for their children. It's the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to realize that it's a constant narrative in American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I will support and defend --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AND FEMALE: I will support and defend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The constitution --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AND FEMALE: The constitution --

AMANPOUR: Some of America's newest immigrants became citizens at this museum in a naturalization ceremony hosted by the outgoing U.S. ambassador

to the United Nations, Samantha Power.

SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: As of today, America is as much your country as it is any other citizen's country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My takeaway from that ceremony was to reassure that America continues to be a place for immigrants.

BRENDAN MURPHY, SENIOR EDUCATOR, TENEMENT MUSEUM: People who wanted to come here can recognize that. They recognize that America is not Trump.

America is something far greater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why I find it such a wonderful experience to find that we really are more alike than we're different.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Such an important walk back through history. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see

us online @Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END