Return to Transcripts main page


White House Insisting It Has Apologized To The Uk; Vice President Mike Pence Hit The Road Today To Muster Support For The Gop's Health Care Plan; Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Wading Into The Dicey Waters Of Asian Diplomacy And Putting North Korea On Notice; A Nationwide Manhunt Is Under Way Right Now For A Former Tennessee Teacher Wanted For The Aggravated Kidnapping Of A Female Student At The High School Where He Taught. The Tennessee Bureau Of Investigation Added 50-Year-Old Tad Cummins To Their Top Ten Most Wanted List. Aired 4:00-5:00p ET

Aired March 18, 2017 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. Great to have you with me on a Saturday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We begin with President Trump staring at what could be the most consequential week of his presidency so far. In less than 48 hours, Trump's wiretapping claim will be heavily scrutinized on live TV by members of Congress. Not a shred of evidence has surface so far. Yet the President has doubled down repeatedly on this allegation of his that his predecessor had his phones tapped during the campaign.

Monday, FBI director James Comey will go before the House intelligence committee and talk about whether there is any evidence to back up the President's allegation.

Also Monday, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch begins his first Senate confirmation hearing.

And then later in the week the Republican health care plan is set for a vote on the house floor. That scheduled for Thursday. The President predicts it will pass on a first try.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also want to note that all of these no's were potential no's, are all yes', every single person sitting in this room.


CABRERA: Right now, President Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Let's go to White House correspondent Athena Jones in nearby West Palm Beach.

Athena, you just found out who the President will dine with tonight as he put for this momentous week ahead. Fill us in.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. That's right. We learned he is going to having dinner with Isaac

Perlmutter who is the billionaire's CEO of Marvel Entertainment. So he will be dining with the president tonight. After a relatively light schedule today, he spent several hours at his Trump international golf club in West Palm Beach. White House officials said he was working and meeting with staff.

But CNN did capture some video of him on the golf course. So it appears he played at least a few holes of golf. One friend tweeted out a picture of him wearing a golf club. The White House won't confirm those golf rounds, but it appears that he was geared up to play golf.

He is set to have his daily intelligence briefing right about now at his Mar-a-Lago resort and is scheduled to have a phone call with Brazil's Prime Minister Michelle Tamer a little over an hour from now. He may have another phone call with a foreign leader. We will have to wait and see what happens there.

But the focus has been very much on that two-week-old explosive and unsubstantiated allegation against his predecessor, President Obama, who he accused of having his quote wires tapped in Trump tower. As you mentioned, the President and White House staff have not just doubled down, they have been tripling down on that claim, made even additional claims, the most recent that British intelligence played a role in helping to wiretap Trump tower. It's an allegation that the British intelligence officials have denied. And I should mention, of course, that President Obama has denied wiretapping Trump tower, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, that at the end of this said there seen no evidence that that is true. And various intelligence officials, former intelligence officials have said it didn't happen.

The newest official to knock down a claim, this one specifically about the British intelligence officials being involved is the number two official at the national security agency, Richard Lejjit. He was speaking to the BBC and he said claims that the UK was involved with wiretapping demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works. He went on to say of course they wouldn't do it. It would be ethically stupid. So add that to a long and growing list of denials.

What's unclear, Ana, is whether or not we are going to see any sort of retraction from the White House, from the President himself or any sort of apology to the former President or to the British for that matter. And we will see if FBI director Comey's testimony has any impact on how the White House responds - Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones reporting for us, thank you very much.

I want to talk more about President Trump's wiretapping allegations because they are not going away. And as Athena pointed out, they are actually escalating to an international audience now. It is likely things could get worse come Monday when FBI director Comey testifies publicly. Joining me, "New York Times" commentator, Wajahat Ali, CNN political

commentator and conservative writer Jeffrey Lord, managing editor of Zachary Wolf and James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and a visiting fellow at Washington Institute.

Zach, first to you. What the definitive answers could we have on Monday?

ZACHARY WOLF, MANAGING EDITOR, CNNPOLITICS.COM: Well, it will be the first opportunity for, you know, the FBI director to weigh in from a really official standpoint. It's pretty clear there is no evidence that he is going to know -- bombshell, it seems like we would have heard a bombshell to back up these claims that Trump keeps talking about. So it could put to rest finally the fact of whether or not this happened. Although, you know, it seems clear that it didn't. But I think still Trump is going to have to answer this. So regardless of what Comey says, the President himself is going to have to explain himself at some point on this.

[16:05:03] CABRERA: Jeffrey, does he have to explain himself?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, all he has to do is cite the evidence on this, that's presented by "The New York Times," and the "Washington Post."

CABRERA: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Is that, is that evidence? He could have evidence directly from the intelligence agencies.

LORD: "The New York Times" is not retracting its stories, which says quote-unquote "American law enforcement and intelligence agencies," now this is the Obama administration. So in other words, the Obama administration is quote-unquote "examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President- elect Trump."

The "Washington Post" has versions of this. They are not backing off their story one bit. So the President is correct on this. The FBI director should rebuke "The New York Times" story. I mean I would love to hear that. I would love to hear the --

CABRERA: But just a minute, Jeffrey. So we don't cross wires here. I think its two separate issues. What you are saying has nothing to do with President Trump accusing the former President of ordering wiretaps at Trump tower. And specifically on his phone.

LORD: The former.

CABRERA: I mean, that was the accusation in his tweet. He said specifically terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump tower just before victory.

LORD: And there are also other stories out there that there was a Trump tower server at Trump tower server that was tapped that was here in Levitt, Pennsylvania, about an hour from where I sit.

CABRERA: Where's the evidence of that?

LORD: So these accusations are out there and they need to be answered.

CABRERA: Where's the evidence, Jeffrey?

LORD: The reporters have supplied the evidence. "The New York Times" is supplying the evidence. If "The New York Times" is wrong they should retract the story. They have said that the treasury department, the Obama treasury department, the financial crimes unit that was involved. That the NSA was involved.

CABRERA: OK. Let's talk about the NSA.

LORD: And that the Obama administration was taking the evidence as they were getting ready to leave office to spread out over the bureaucracy to leave a trail. This is not me. This is not the president, President Trump. This is the "New York Times" saying the Obama administration did this.


CABRERA: The former director of, let me stop you for just a minute. I want to you listen to this sound from Michael Hayden, the former director of the national security agency who was on CNN earlier today.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, MICHAEL SMERCONISH SHOW: If he's watching right now, at Mar-a-Lago, he could pick up that phone this minute, call the CIA, call the NSA, and ask the question, was Trump tower surveilled and he would get an answer. Right?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Michael, all he needed to do two weeks ago, was to roll over, punch that button on the red switch and say, get these guys down here for lunch and he would have been satisfied. And we would have been done with this.


CABRERA: So Jeffrey, you just heard Mr. Hayden there saying, this could have been cleared up by a single phone call from the President. He does not need to rely on reporting from any news source. Why hasn't it happened that he called directly to these intelligence agencies?

LORD: For a very good reason. Just a couple of weeks ago, the deputy director of the FBI was in the news, because he had spoken to Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff about an investigation or lack of investigation, under way at the FBI. And there was hell to pay for this. If the President of the United States injected himself into one of these investigations, the media would be all over him. And should be, I might add. He should not be doing that.

LORD: Ambassador, how are both our foreign allies and enemies reading this situation, do you think? JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ/TURKEY: They think it's

crazy. First of all, they know our FISA, our foreign intelligence surveillance laws. And to quote Jeffrey Lord himself, "if the President of the United States engaged himself in one of these investigations, there would be hell to pay." That's true of the Obama administration as much as it is true of the Trump administration. Presidents do not under almost all circumstances get involved in these things.

So foreign officials looking at this, are wondering what's going on. Is the President telling the truth? Can they believe him when he talks about not Korean preparations for an ICBM or something Iran is doing in Yemen? This is very serious stuff.

CABRERA: I want to read one other thing, speaker Ryan telling CNN on Thursday, we have not seen any evidence that there was a wiretap or a, is it FISA or FISA that you just said, ambassador?

LORD: FISA. Court order on somebody in Trump tower. So again, this is coming from a Republican who is privy to some of the information.

Wajahat, to you. This hearing on Monday is also going to cover the broader issue of Russia's meddling in last year's election. There has been a lot of smoke around the Trump campaign and it is possible ties, it does have some ties to Russia, some of the people who were on part of the campaign. But the smoke doesn't necessarily mean fire, right?

[16:10:01] WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Smoke doesn't necessarily mean fire. But it is very suspicious. Let's not forget that Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, resigns within one month because he lies about the nature of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. Furthermore, it was revealed this week that he was also paid by Russia to attend the RT state propaganda dinner where he sat next to Vladimir Putin whom Donald Trump has yet to criticize. In fact, Donald Trump has praised Putin as a very smart man and pin that tweet. Michael Flynn also retroactively submitted himself as a foreign agent because he was paid $500,000 by Turkey.

Also, let's not forget, and this is very important. Jeff Sessions, top cop, attorney general, lied twice, once, in oral testimony when he was doing questions with Al Franken. The second time, in a written question by Senator Tom Leahy, about any contacts with the Russian ambassador.

So for those of you who are watching at home, the question should be why are so many people who are so close to Donald Trump having these conversations with the Russian ambassador? And also, you can have a conversation with the Russian ambassador, but why lie about it? And specifically, this was his national security adviser and the top cop right now, attorney general Sessions.

And also let's not forget that the four tweets came out to deflect right after the Jeff Sessions scandal happened where he recused himself, of course, of having any participation investigation into these possible Russia ties. So I want people to keep their eye on the ball here. These Russia

ties maybe something is not going to amount to anything, but we should definitely keep our eye on it. And Donald Trump only likes to pivot away whenever the magnifying glass goes on Russia and the aides in his campaign's connections, possible connections to Russia and conversation with the Russian ambassador.

CABRERA: And that was part of what resulted in this tweet, was a pivot right when he tweeted the wiretapping allegations. Now, we learned he did that after watching a segment on FOX News and reading an article in "The New York Times" as Jeffrey pointed out. Now, he says he did not call intelligence agencies for more information afterwards.

Zachary, is it a problem that he didn't reach out to these intelligence agencies? Or was that actually a good thing? Because then he can't be accused of trying to meddle in the investigation?

LORD: It's a good thing. It's a frustrate thing, but it's a good thing to do. Because when Presidents do otherwise, they get in trouble. So you know, this is just not a road that he needs to go down here.

The congressional committee should be doing this. They should - I mean, I hope they read "The New York Times." I mean I don't want them questioning "The New York Times" sources. I don't want them, you know, fiddling around with the first amendment, absolutely not. But they should take the information that's presented in these stories and investigate themselves.

ALI: But Jeffrey, Donald Trump himself has said "The New York Times" is fake news, the enemy of the American people and now Sean Spicer is sourcing "The New York Times." And also we have to give credit to FOX News, they're not sourcing FOX News, but a commentator on FOX News, who made the completely I think what was it, the NSA deputy director has said, the epically stupid allegation that the GCHQ, the Britain's version of NSA colluded with President Obama to tap Trump's phones. And so even FOX News, has not validated that comment used by Sean Spicer.

And speaking of intelligence communities, we have the Senate and House intelligence communities who have reviewed this and a bipartisan statement came out saying they found no evidence. So why can't Donald Trump just back away from this, say he made a mistake and move on?

LORD: I am waiting --

ALI: From the claim that three to five million illegal immigrants voted for Clinton. That would also be a (INAUDIBLE).

LORD: I am waiting for "The New York Times" to retract their story. They have not done so.

CABRERA: So ambassador, if the President points to news articles, blame them for the information if it's wrong. Does that change the notion that the buck ultimately stops at the White House if they are using that information to basically hold up what they are accusing or alleging?

JEFFREY: Exactly right. There are two problems with what Jeffrey is saying. First of all, we elect Presidents not to tell us what we can read in the newspapers, but to tell us what we need to know based on their extraordinary information that they do have access to. And they have ways of getting it.

Secondly, "The New York Times" did not say that President Obama ordered anything. Nobody has claimed that.

LORD: But those people work for President Obama.

JEFFREY: That is a totally -- hold on, just a second here. That is a totally different thing. Anybody who knows the FISA act knows that you are protected in doing this, as an investigator from any kind of political influence. That means you don't share the information of who you are investigating, who you are tapping, other than with the FISA court which has to find probable cause. This is not wise from the government.

LORD: And why in the world is it in "The New York Times?" They leaked classified information. The Obama administration investigated this and they leaked the information to "The New York Times."

And I can only tell you, Mr. Ambassador, I worked for President Reagan. When the Iran contra scandal came along, he did not do it. He didn't know about it. They held him responsible.

When George W. Bush was President and the Abu Ghraib prison situation happened in Iran, "The New York Times" was holding him personally responsible for the actions of a few American soldiers in an Iraqi prison. So I assure you that Presidents are held accountable under other circumstances and former President Obama should have been held accountable for this.

[16:15:31] ALI: There's no evidence, Jeffrey.

LORD: It is apples and oranges.

JEFFREY: You can't hold any President responsible for leaks, unless you think the President personally all administrations leak lie sieves. What you suggested, Jeffrey, were violations, criminal violations which of course Presidents are being held responsible for.

LORD: It's a criminal violation to leak classified information?

JEFFREY: That's true. But you don't blame Presidents for that. Because every President, including the current serving President, is faced with this every day.

CABRERA: I'll take the last word, guys.

Ambassador Jeffrey, Wajahat Ali, Jeffrey Lord and Zachary Wolf, our thank you to all of you for joining us for that spirited discussion.

Still ahead this hour, international incident, a top national security official calling British spying allegations nonsense. Reaction, live from London next.

Plus, critical vote, the date is set. But the math is still a little shaky on the Republican health care bill. How party leaders are trying to shore up support.

And later, a desperate plea --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your family wants their poppy back. Please do the right thing and turn yourself in to the police and bring back home.


CABRERA: Police say a 15-year-old girl is in imminent danger after being kidnapped by a teacher at her school. His wife now begging her husband to turn himself in. The latest on the manhunt coming up.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

[16:21:19] CABRERA: The UK is now fighting back on the claims that a British intelligence agency spied on candidate Donald Trump under the orders of President Obama during the election. Now, this agency says these claims are ridiculous, calling it nonsense.

Well the White House insisting it has apologized to the UK saying they were just repeating a claim made by an analyst on FOX News. The second in command at the NSA is offering a strong denial, telling the BBC the wiretapping claims are quote "errant nonsense." The inflammatory wiretap claims causing a rare public dispute and tension now with America's closest ally.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is covering the story for us from London -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Ana, the trouble here in Britain is that this is a real potential political embarrassment for the Prime Minister Theresa May. Number 10, her office, felt that they got these assurances that there wouldn't be any repeat of these allegations. Yet it seems and certainly listening to the press conference again with Angela Merkel and President Trump that this issue has resurfaced, if you will, the dirty laundry United States' dirty laundry, if you will. But that number 10 feels it was dumped on its doorstep. The sort of collateral in this issue at the moment. They have got rid of it and now it's come back.

Politically, embarrassing for Theresa May. She has had a very, very tough political week in the UK. She is trying to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Scotland is trying to leave the United Kingdom. She's had to do a U-turn on her budget. It's been a tough political week. She doesn't need the distraction and also as well, you know, the close relationship, the political capital that she has invested in this close relationship with President Trump, being the first western leader to go to the White House to meet him. She doesn't need the embarrassment that that relationship appears to be bringing her at the moment.

And then there's the security concern. The security concern that we are hearing from MPs here is that the close cooperation between GCHQ, the government communications headquarters and the U.S. NSA that that close cooperation sharing intelligence, the timing nature of it is so important that that could be damaged.

When we look back at the reviews after 9/11 and the Belgian and France terror attack, the criticisms were that there wasn't enough as you will, seamless cooperation between different intelligence agencies. And that's the fear of what stake here that GCHQ cooperates hugely that there was trust with the United States and fear is that that trust will be eroded. So there's security and political concerns.

So at the moment, for the prime minister. She really is hoping that this does go away -- Ana.

CABRERA: Nic Robertson, thank you.

Still to come, vice President Pence in Florida a short time ago, he spoke ramping up support for Republican plans to replace Obamacare. But can GOP leaders secure enough yes votes in time. The vote is coming Thursday.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:28:34] CABRERA: Vice President Mike Pence hit the road today to muster support for the GOP's health care plan. In Jacksonville, Florida, just a short time ago, Pence held a listening session with small business owners and local leaders. He told the crowd there to expect the battle next week in Washington over the Republican bill.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to assure the people of Florida, we are going to have an orderly transition to a better health care system in America that makes affordable high- quality health insurance accessible for every American.


PENCE: Be assured about that. Be clear on this, though, folks. This is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C., all right? Obamacare's defenders are working hard. So we have to work harder. And we are counting on Florida. We need every Republican in Florida to support this bill and support the President's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.


CABRERA: The GOP bill is set to come up for a house vote in just five days. House speaker Paul Ryan sounded pretty confident on Friday saying everything is going according to plan. And the President echoed Ryan's confidence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a lot of yes's coming in. It is all coming together. We are going to have great health care. It's going to be passed, I believe, I think substantially pretty quickly. It's coming together beautifully.


[16:30:04] CABRERA: CNN politics reporter Tom LoBianco joins me from Washington.

So the president we just heard there saying it's all coming together. Politicians like to spin. So as of a fact check. Is it according to CNN's count, we are seeing about 25 now House Republicans who are either already on record saying no, they are not voting for it, or are leaning toward a no vote. What are you hearing? What's the latest?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well you know, given that, given that number, and our latest reporting, we scoured the House of Representatives yesterday, their last day for the week here. They were in through the afternoon and that it does sound like the President is accurate when he says the phrase "coming together."

Now, of course, that doesn't mean it's there yet. There's still a lot of work yet to be done there. You know, we really have to hammer away at it if you're Paul Ryan, if you are Donald Trump, the folks working on this. If you are a mender of the House leadership trying to get this thing done. You have to work on the House freedom caucus. You have to work on these hard-core conservatives who are just solid. That's the block you got to chip away at right now.

CABRERA: So what are the changes that are being made in order to try to woo some of their support?

LOBIANCO: Well, you had two key ones really coming out of there. Out of the White House meeting a few days ago. You know, you look at a lot of the deals Medicaid. It's interesting, we are talking about Obamacare but we are also talking about potentially a massive overhaul the way Medicaid is done. And one of the key focuses that came out of there with bought them big support from the Republican study committee, these are kind of the guys who used to be the hardline conservatives, but now you have the House freedom caucus, who is even a little bit more farther to the right than them.

The Republican study committee was looking for the option of block granting Medicaid dollars to the states. It sounds a little bit wonky. There is a change in how you pay for it, between what the house Republican leadership wanted to do and what the more conservative members wanted to do.

The short version is that it would limit the amount of money that goes to the states. Give the states the option to choose that limit. That's a big push by conservatives there. A lot of people, a lot of fiscal conservatives really looking for stuff like this. This has been a big priority for a long time. CABRERA: So how is that going to square with the Republican governors

who also sent a letter this week essentially saying they didn't like some of these more conservative aspects of the current bill? It seems like they are, they are not going to gain support with some of the more moderates, if they're catering more toward the most conservative, right?

LOBIANCO: You're absolutely correct. This - I mean, that is the dynamic. This does not pick up moderates. It loses moderates. And this is sort of the representative Trent Franks, he is an Arizona Republican, and he is a member of the House freedom caucus. He got this fairly hilarious analogy for this. He says they are trying to get this through the House is like trying to squeeze a giraffe through a keyhole. You know, whatever comes out the other side doesn't really look too pretty.


JEFFREY: So, I mean, yes this is what's happening. You kind of got to shimmy this thing to make it happen. And it is easy to forget. That's kind of how Obamacare happened to eight years ago. Remember, Obamacare was a year-long process. I mean, after the stimulus funding went through. At the beginning of '09, the beginning of Obama's, term it took them a year to move this back and forth through the process, all of the various variations that took before you finally had, what became known as Obamacare.

So this, you know, some people look -- there's a Thursday vote in the House. This is a very aggressive timeline that they have set here. But -- there's also some talk behind the scenes that, OK, and maybe that's the optimistic timeline. Maybe more realistically you have to think that this is a similar process. And it goes from the House, if it survives the house, that's the first hurdle. So you got to deal with things one step at a time. That's where it has to look more conservative. Then it goes to the Senate. The Senate you have more moderates. They will, you know, hammer out a different type of bill that probably deals more with these concerns raised by the Republican governors. And that's - and then you have a more moderate claim. Then they come together. You know, is it going to take three months, four months, is it going to take a year? The way it looks right now, I would look at a longer timeline for this.

CABRERA: All right. Tom LoBianco, thank you.


CABRERA: Coming up, secretary of state Rex Tillerson wading into the dicey waters of Asian diplomacy and putting North Korea on notice. Next details on the critical meeting with China.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:39:09] CABRERA: All right. U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson is in China right now. He arrived in Beijing not long after issuing a strong warning to North Korea saying nothing is off the table in dealing with Pyongyang, including military action. Chinese officials called on the U.S. to keep a cool-headed approach to the rising tensions between North Korea and the west.

CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers is joining us from Beijing.

So Matt, this is Rex Tillerson's debut in Asia as secretary of state. Lots of important issues between Beijing and Washington right now. But North Korea seems to be dominating this trip.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It is on the top of the agenda for the several different meetings that Rex Tillerson will have while he is on the ground here in Beijing for just under 24 hours. Relatively short trip but packed with lots of stuff to talk about. And North Korea certainly is number one on that list.

And the Chinese and the Americans both agree that they don't want the North Koreans to continue to develop their weapons programs. But where they disagree, where there's tension in that relationship is how best to go about doing that.

Under the Trump administration, what you're seeing is the secretary of state tell the Chinese, we think that the Chinese should be doing more because they are the only major ally for North Korea on the world stage. China holds a vast amount of leverage over North Korea in the eyes of the Trump administration and they should doing that. The Chinese, though, say that it should be the Americans doing more. That there should be more direct negotiation between Pyongyang and Washington and that's the only way towards lasting peace.

We did get a little bit of a press availability during the afternoon here on Friday in Beijing where both secretary of state Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China spoke. And let's show you a little sound from that secretary of state.


[16:41:01] REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We share a common view in a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now. And that things have reached a rather dangerous level. And we have committed ourselves to do everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out.


RIVERS: But everything we can, is really not a very specific phrase. And we are trying to find out more. We haven't found out much yet about what the Trump administration plans to do specifically with its North Korea policy. They say they want to chart a new direction, but how they will be different than the administrations of the past 20 years in the United States, that frankly have not been able to solve this problem, Ana, we are just not sure yet.

CABRERA: That's an important question. Thank you so much, Matt Rivers for the report. Diplomacy now, the different flavor. President Donald Trump has his

own style as we all know. And it was on full display yesterday. Just hours after hosting the German chancellor at the oval office, which the President called great. Trump put out a new tweet which appears to slam Germany over defense spending.

He wrote this. Quote "despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and the United States, must be paid. More for the powerful and very expensive defense that provides to Germany."

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is watching all this unfold.

Elise, this isn't the first time the President has gone after a country regarded as a U.S. ally, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom now he's knocking Germany?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, generally Ana, it kind of shows that the meetings and the phone calls aren't going as wonderfully as the President says. I mean, look, you just could read the body language from this meeting, from this press conference yesterday between President Trump and chancellor Merkel. That this is a relationship that is, you know, fraught with some tension right now.

After all the blasting that he did of Angela Merkel during the campaign, you know, these leaders needed to kind of reset. You know that Merkel had a very good and warm relationship with President Obama and also with President Bush. But she needed to kind of recalibrate, reset things, with President Trump. I think it was an opportunity for the President to move forward with this very important western ally.

This European ally who really Angela Merkel right now, is on the considered one of the leaders of Europe and she's facing election right now in Germany. The candidate that she's against is more of a populist kind of right wing candidate. Very similar to President Trump. And there are some thing that President Trump wants this candidate to win. But right now he has to work with Angela Merkel and these tweets about these leaders -- after a phone call, even if it went well, certainly don't keep the relationship on track.

CABRERA: So when it comes to the trickle-down effect, so to speak, what can other world leaders watching the way the new American President does business take away from this?

LABOTT: I think they can take away that no matter how it goes in the meeting, I think you can expect him to have these tweets or have these comments. The question is who is he speaking to? Who is that tweet directed at? Was it directed at Angela Merkel? Was it a message to her?

Presumably he gave the message to her in the meeting. It was, you know, probably a message to his base, to the people that feel that Germany is riding on the coattails of the United States taxpayer and so the rest of Europe when it comes to NATO and not paying their share. It feels that they are not getting a fair deal on trade.

So I think what world leaders are starting to recognize is that talk to the President, hear what he has to say. Talk to the Jim Mattiss and Rex Tillersons and Pompeos and Kellys of the cabinet and see how the policy is moving ahead. Maybe not pay so much attention those tweet. But the question is, do you take the President literally as what he says. And form your policy accordingly? Or is there just dismiss what the U.S. is saying. U.S. President is saying out of his -- you know, the words coming out of his mouth. And if you do that, that may delegitimize the credibility of the United States and its role in the world.

So I think these leaders as they get to know President Trump and certainly the meetings themselves, are you know seem to be going well. I think they are trying to learn how to tune out the noise and keep their eye on the ball which is really this very important relationship with the United States.

[16:45:38] CABRERA: And perhaps learning more about his negotiating style through some of the tweets.

Elise Labott, thank you. Good to have you on.

Coming up, a former teacher now on Tennessee's most wanted list after allegedly kidnapping a 15-year-old girl. We have sound from his wife making a desperate plea for him to come home.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[16:50:27] CABRERA: Thank you for staying with us.

A nationwide manhunt is under way right now for a former Tennessee teacher wanted for the aggravated kidnapping of a female student at the high school where he taught. The Tennessee bureau of investigation added 50-year-old Tad Cummins to their top ten most wanted list. This is the girl he is allegedly with. He is charged with kidnapping this 15-year-old, Elizabeth Thomas. Police believe Cummins is armed with two handguns and they say he took out a loan just a few days before disappearing.

CNN's Scott McLean joins me live now from Atlanta with more details.

Scott, a lot of developments today in this strange story, a disturbing manhunt. Bring us up to date.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You're absolutely right, Ana. So we know that Tad Cummins was actually suspend from his teaching job about a month ago for inappropriate contact with Elizabeth Thomas. Now police had been investigating that. But they hadn't laid any charges. And they hadn't made an arrest. It's now been five days, since he disappeared with her and four since an amber alert went out in that time there has not been a single credible sighting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JILL CUMMINS, SUSPECT'S WIFE: Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. Please do the right thing and turn yourself in to the police. And bring back home.

MCLEAN (voice-over): An emotional plea from the wife of Tad Cummins, a Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping one of his students, 15- year-old Elizabeth Thomas. She was last seen Monday near Nashville. Authorities say she is in imminent danger. This morning, a nationwide manhunt after investigators said they have received an alarmingly low number of leads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point we have received about 175 tips into the TBI. But none at this point has produced a credible sighting.

MCLEAN: Friday, Cummins was added to the state's top ten most wanted list. Investigators said Cummins may have groomed Elizabeth, abusing his position as a teacher and possibly sexually exploiting her while carefully planning the disappearance. The pair is thought to be traveling in a silver Nissan rogue with Tennessee tags.

Cummins, who is wanted for aggravated kidnapping and sexual misconduct is believed to be armed with two handguns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our amber alert is ongoing and it has been several days since anyone has seen Elizabeth Thomas or Tad Cummins. Our concern is growing by the moment. We want her home. We want him in custody.


MCLEAN: And we know that Cummins took out a loan of about $4500 cash that he was able to get by using his car and some other belongings as collateral. And that's important because cash allows him to fly under the financial radar. Police have so far not been able to track any credit card purchase. They have not been able to track a cell phone signal from either of the two since they went missing.

CABRERA: Hope that girl's OK. Scott McLean, thank you.

Straight ahead, possibly the most critical week for President Trump to date. We are breaking down his busy week ahead.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:57:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NAFTA was one of the worst contracts ever negotiated for the American worker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Need to renegotiate NAFTA.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NAFTA was the worst thing that ever happened to the state of Michigan.

There was a point in time before NAFTA came in where there was a machine shop like this literally on every corner. And the metro Detroit area. There were jobs everywhere, people were busy. They were working overtime. The city was thriving from the standpoint that people were employed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manufacturing jobs in Michigan have shrunk by a third in recent years from about 900,000 jobs in the year 2000, to fewer than 600,000 now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you can drive through the neighborhoods around you see many empty buildings. There's a lot of people that have fallen off of the unemployment rolls and have not been able to find jobs.

RICK QUINN, UNEMPLOYED AUTO WORKER: I didn't really see a big unemployment problem because of our nation. But I really do feel like the trade deals were a killer to a lot of stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to one study just 13 percent of manufacturing job losses were caused by trade. While the large majority stemmed from factories adding automation. But other studies placed more blame on trade which these auto workers in Michigan agree with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel the technology or the automation or the robotics, I welcome it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The robots, like I sis, are not taking jobs away. Actually we're assisting the robots.

KEN SUITTES, AUTO WORKER, UNION MINICAR: As a matter of fact, there's actually education involved to learn how this robot works to learn how to adjust it. To learn how to make adjustments on it, who to call when. I mean, so there's also education involved when automation, robotics and things like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It brings us to a higher level of working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have replaced a lot of jobs that actually injured people which that in the long-term cost the company money. When there's an injury to an employee so when you have a robot there now doing that particular job, that's a good thing. So automation is great. I want it to excel. I want more computers. I want more robots because they are helping keep the job here in America.