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Trump Arrives at NATO HQ ahead of High-Stakes Summit; UK Suspends Attack Intel Sharing with U.S. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 25, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Take a look at this. We have some live pictures right now out of Brussels. At any moment, President Trump will arrive there at NATO Headquarters. This is a big day for the president as he sits down with European leaders, among them British Prime Minister Theresa May.
BERMAN: Yes and you can expect the prime minster to voice her frustration over intelligence leaks by U.S. officials on the terror attack in Manchester, England. The UK is now suspending sharing any intelligence about that attack because of leaks. They're particularly upset about these photos published by "The New York Times" showing the aftermath of the bomb used in this attack.
Want to begin with CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen following this for us. You know, we are hearing things out of the British government, Fred that we've never heard before on this subject.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, John. And the tone really has changed a great deal over the past 24 hours. There was a little bit consternation yesterday when there were leaks, apparently the name of the attacker being leaked in the United States before the Brits wanted to come out with it. However, you still heard, for instance, the British interior minister coming out and saying, look, that didn't really hamper the investigation. But now that those photos were leaked in "The New York Times," apparently showing what might be the detonator used in that attack, fragments of a backpack, also possible shrapnel, that's really when the tone here in Britain did change.
And Theresa May, of course, has already arrived at that NATO summit in Brussels, then she has said that she's going to make clear to President Trump that this intelligence relationship is one that needs to be built on mutual trust, because these two nations share intelligence with one another on a level that almost no other countries do and certainly, the Brits say they want to continue doing that, but they are very, very angry, especially at those pictures having come out.
In fact, the Greater Manchester Police, as you said, is not sharing any more intelligence that is gathered, any more facts that it gathers on this matters with their American counterpart. So, that certainly is a very big step, but they are now, quite frankly, saying that they believe that their investigation was hampered because of these leaks that have come out, John.
BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us, we can see Fred standing in front of the Parliament in London right now. Thank you so much, Fred. As we said, the president due to speak very shortly at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, his remarks may well be aimed at reassuring allies who are somewhat unnerved by candidate Donald Trump, who dismissed NATO as obsolete.
CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray traveling with the president joins us live. Sara, what is he expected to say?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, the intelligence-sharing issue is going to be sort of a prominent story line that we're looking for here today. The president was asked twice about that and whether Britain can trust the U.S. earlier today. He did not respond, but as you mentioned, he will be arriving here at NATO at any moment.
But in addition to that intelligence issue, the comment that Trump made on the campaign trail, calling NATO obsolete, he's walked those back, but it will be interesting to see him here in person. His advisers still say he's going to thrust other NATO allies to spend more on defense. And along those lines, remember President Trump is also weighing whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan.
So, this is an opportunity to sort of get our allies' input on that potential plan and try to gauge whether NATO would be willing to throw their military might behind such an effort. Of course, that could also come with pointed questions, like whether a couple thousand more troops on the ground in a 16-year war is going to make any difference and why the Trump administration thinks this time could really make any difference on the ground there, John.
HARLOW: Sara Murray, thank you so much. Let us know when he gets there. We will obviously be monitoring all this. And as we wait for the president to arrive, let's talk about the big stakes ahead of this meeting.
Joining us now is Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush, Ivo Daalder, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO under President Obama, Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," as well as Jackie Kucinich, our political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast."
All right, as we wait for the president to come, let me begin with you, Ambassador Daalder. The president will speak shortly and you say this is a chance to reset the record. OK, to do that, what does he need to say? IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, he needs to say that the United States values NATO and everything that it stands for, including in particular, Article 5, which is the commitment to regard an attack against one as an attack against all. And that the United States is unconditionally standing behind its commitment to defend whoever is attacked.
And secondly, to be very clear that today, the major challenge to security in Europe and to NATO is coming from Russia. Our allies are expecting to hear that kind of commitment and an understanding of what the challenges that are they are facing.
BERMAN: So, Ambassador Burns, you see this as a unique meeting in the history of NATO, because you say for any other president, this would be a first trip to assume leadership of the West, but Trump, you say, is the first U.S. president whom Europeans don't see that way. Explain.
[10:05:05] NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, unfortunately, that's the case. And I agree with Ambassador Ivo Daalder. This is going to be an important -- I think the most difficult trip -- visit of President Trump's trip to Europe and the Middle East. Every president since Truman has naturally been seen as the leader of the West and the leader of NATO.
Not so Donald Trump, because he has been exceedingly weak on Russia, he's not been critical of Putin for the theft of Crimea and the insurrection that Russia is instigating in Eastern Ukraine. He hasn't in a way that Ronald Reagan did stood up for the western values of freedom and democracy. He doesn't talk in that fashion.
I've just come from Europe a day ago and there's great doubt that he's leading NATO forward. There's great doubt that he even supports the European Union. This morning he supposedly said to the European Union leaders that he was worried that Brexit might lead to U.S. job loss. Well, he should have thought about that before he, Donald Trump, supported Brexit. So, I'm saddened by this state of affairs that the United States leadership has been so reduced at NATO and the EU.
HARLOW: Jackie, does the president say anything, anything at all, about Russia? Because he goes to this meeting with the Russia cloud surrounding his White House and he goes to meet with those, especially some of those leaders that are facing increasing intimidation and threats and encroachment by Russia. How does he walk the Russia line?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, it seems like they already have had conversations behind closed doors about Russia, because I believe it was the EU president came out and said that that is one area where they don't have common views, except on the issue of Ukraine. So, it does seem like behind closed doors there are these conversations going on, but Trump doesn't believe that Russia's a threat to Europe.
So that is a departure from other presidents and from the current thinking at the European Union and NATO. So, there is going to be that disconnect and how he decides to handle that and how he decides to address it, perhaps in front of the cameras, we'll have to see.
BERMAN: Unless he changes.
HARLOW: Unless he changes.
BERMAN: Look, at one point, he called NATO obsolete. Now it's not obsolete. So, it's possible even that message changes.
You know, Ron Brownstein, one message that was consistent in the campaign was "America First." We even heard it in the president's inauguration address. Match that message -- while I do think it was important to Trump voters -- match that message with this moment, where you're with, you know, an international group, an international alliance where it's most decidedly not any one of us first.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR EDITOR "THE ATLANTIC": Right. I think this is an interesting shift in the political dynamic and kind of the political stature. You know, when President Trump was elected after a campaign in which, as you say, he was dismissive of NATO. During the transition, he gave an interview with "The Times" of London where he said, he basically could care less if the EU dissolved and he kind of edge to right up to the brink in his tweets of endorsing Marine Le Pen, certainly saying she was stronger on the key issues facing France during that election.
I think there are many in Europe who worry that he was the kind of the forward, the edge of a wave that could swamp all of this, kind of insular, nationalist, populist wave that Brexit last June and then his election last November seemed to be heralding. But in fact, what has happened this year in Europe, as we've seen the kind of Trump-like populist candidate perform below expectations in the Netherlands. We saw Le Pen lose by a larger margin that expected in France. We've seen the AFD which is the comparable party lose ground in the polls in Germany.
And I think there is less concern among the European leaders that President Trump in his skepticism of what Nick Burns talked about as the traditional U.S. role in the world, in effect is speaking to audiences within their own country. I think they are feeling more confident that the, kind of the integration and the cooperation and the kind of the global vision of the EU and NATO actually has deeper roots in the European political environment than maybe they feared a year ago.
HARLOW: Ambassador Daalder, we are also going to hear from German Chancellor Angela Merkel who just because of a scheduling blip, had a meeting this morning with President Obama, something that was planned a year ago but -
BERMAN: One person's blip is another person's poignant message.
HARLOW: There you go and this coming off the handshake-no handshake moment, if you will, at the White House. What do you think she's going to say? How do you think her interactions will be with President Trump? DAALDER: Oh, I think Chancellor Merkel will be very businesslike and will want to see the kind of leadership that Ambassador Burns talks about, but at the same time, not giving an inch on the fundamentals. Mrs. Merkel has spent a lot of time on the phone and in person talking to Vladimir Putin. She has taken the measure of the man a long time ago and she wants to be sure that everybody in NATO, starting with the United States, understands what this man is about, what the goals are that he is promoting within -- not only Ukraine but in very much within NATO as well, which is to split the alliance, which is to divide it and we want a united NATO with the United States as a leader of that, understanding that that's the challenge. That's going to be her message.
[10:10:14] BERMAN: Ambassador Burns, just like Ambassador Daalder, you spent a big part of your life working with NATO. You know, it's not perfect. No organization is perfect and there are issues with the nations' military spending. Are there opportunities here for the president to push NATO in a positive direction, in your mind?
BURNS: Well, I think so. And you know, every American president really since President Kennedy has been complaining to the NATO allies that they're not spending enough on defense. So, it's legitimate for President Trump to raise this issue. He's not the first. But I think he has to do it in a productive way. If the message is -- and this was a White House backgrounder last Thursday before the president left -- if the message is we may rethink NATO and maybe even leave NATO if the Europeans don't pay up. That's not an effective message with democratic countries, so he's got to do this in a productive way.
And he also has to put forward this notion that the United States is here to stay as a member and leader of NATO and that we're committed to it and the number one issue on the minds of those European leaders is how do we contain Putin in Eastern Europe? And the president is not helping with that.
The president has also been saying that NATO's not in the fight against terrorism. Well, I was American ambassador to NATO on 9/11. Every NATO country, as Ivo Daalder knows very well, and Ivo worked on this thing. All went into Afghanistan, they're all still with us in Afghanistan, the friendship and the fighting terrorism in Mali. So, I think it's dangerous for the president to waltz into NATO and say, you better do as I say when the Europeans are putting their soldiers on the line in the fight against terrorism.
HARLOW: As you know, right, the only time that Article 5 was invoked after 9/11, when all those countries went in to fight with the U.S., that's in the war in Afghanistan. But this president has said I want more from you on ISIS, will he say that again today? We're waiting for him to arrive at NATO. All of you please stay with us. We do have a lot of other news to get to though, right now.
File this one under the unbelievable, but true! A GOP Congressional candidate on the eve of his election allegedly body slamming a reporter as voters head to the polls in what is a crucial win for Republicans. What's this all going to mean? BERMAN: All right and we are waiting for President Trump to arrive at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. We will hear from him very shortly. Stay with us.
BERMAN: All right, looking at live pictures from Brussels, President Trump arriving at NATO Headquarters there, where he will speak very shortly along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There will be some official ceremonies, some dedications and some artworks and memorials for the Berlin Wall. They are obviously, very important to NATO.
Well, we should note, this a new NATO Headquarters and even leaders around the world to think that this is one thing that could impress President Trump because they say that President Trump, you know, has life experience in one thing, its building and its structures and the building itself maybe impressive to him.
HARLOW: There is that and as we watch this motorcade and we wait for the president to get out ahead of these meetings as John just said. Let's bring back in our panel. Nicholas Burns is back with us, Ivo Daalder, both former Ambassadors to NATO. Ron Brownstein is back and Jackie Kucinich as well.
So, if you had the president's ear right now, Ron Brownstein, and you said, all right, you have to say "x" when you shake their hands, what would it be?
BROWNSTEIN: I think they really want to hear the reaffirmation of the American commitment to NATO. I mean, I think it's probably a bridge too far to expect the president to be on the same page as the European leaders about how to deal with Vladimir Putin. But I think, the minimum that they need to hear is that going beyond, that he no longer considers this obsolete. He considers this a pillar of the way America interacts with the world, which is has been. And since -- you know, since the U.S. led to - or precipitated its creation after World War II.
[10:15:05] HARLOW: And we just saw him take the hand of the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. He's going inside now for these meetings, but Jackie, to you, your thoughts.
KUCINICH: You know the other thing that's going to be discussed here is the Paris Climate Agreement. And President Trump is getting a new round of pressure at home to pull-out of this agreement from a bunch of Republican senators. There are some new reporting -- this morning, including Mitch McConnell, who wants to see the president end this. But you know, he has family, people like Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, who don't want to see him fallout of the Paris Climate Agreement. It's something that has been internally divisively set in the White House. And I imagine will be continued to be even after this. But there will definitely be some questions to the president of that as he goes to this meeting.
BERMAN: Look, there's one other person who supports the Paris Climate, who the president spoke to in the last 24 hours that sent the message and that was Pope Francis, who gave him a copy of the cyclical on climate change, a not-so-subtle at all message on what the Pope wants here. So, there are a lot of people tugging at the president in a lot of different directions here.
Ambassador Daalder, we're watching President Trump and the secretary general walk through these new headquarters here. The significance, if you will. Set the stage for us of a new American president arriving at the headquarters of this organization.
DAALDER: Well, this is the organization that's been around for 68 years. It's been, as presidents have said, the cornerstone of American foreign policy for 68 years. It's been really the basis on which we have engaged Europe over those many years.
So now you're walking in as the leader of the alliance alongside the secretary general into this new headquarters and you have the opportunity to reaffirm something that every president has done up to this point, that the United States is committed to Europe not because we're doing a favor to them, but because it's fundamental to the security of the United States.
Our history shows that when the United States stays at home and it is not in Europe, that terrible things happen. We had World War I and World War II. But when we were committed to Europe, when we were there present with our forces and our leadership, that peace and stability and prosperity followed and it's that kind of essence, the understanding that this organization and the leadership that the United States provided and the presence it provided in Europe was at the core of 70 years of peace in Europe and that's not something that you want to give away. It's something you want to build on and I very much hope that that's the kind of impression that President Trump gets when he walks into this building.
HARLOW: And Ambassador Daalder, just to follow up with you in your opinion piece that you wrote about this, you said, look, President Nixon has sort of loomed large in many ways over the Trump presidency and in this way they are similar as well, using their first international trip, their first trip abroad, to visit NATO Headquarters.
DAALDER: He did and he came to NATO with an important message, which is that in an alliance of democracies, the points of view of other people matter and that as the United States, we should come in and not assume that we know all the answers, but we should listen. President Obama on his first big trip overseas went to a NATO summit, the 60th anniversary summit and he came in and he said, I come here, America comes here to listen, to learn and to lead. And I think those are the kind of words that I hope Donald Trump, if he doesn't express them, follows. Listen to what the allies have to say. Learn what the essences of the alliance and then lead it.
BERMAN: Right. You know, Jackie, if one thing, if last week has taught us one thing, it's that the president may paint between the lines today.
KUCINICH: It's true.
BERMAN: This foreign trip is a trip that the White House is very pleased with. They believe he has stayed on message, you know. Talk to me about why they're so pleased with the way things have gone and how this next step fits in to what they want to portray.
KUCINICH: Well, it has been very scripted. It's been up until this point, it's actually the president has received warm welcomes wherever he's gone, very warm welcomes wherever he's gone, including the Vatican, which was -- it wasn't an open question. It's not like the Pope was going to slam the door in his face or anything, but the two do disagree on several important issues. And this sort of transitions into another place where maybe it's not -- they're not going to throw, you know olive branches at his feet walking in and these are some very serious meetings. That said, this president has been very prepared for this trip thus far and you have to imagine he will continue to show that preparation as he proceeds into NATO today.
[10:20:00] HARLOW: Ron Brownstein, British Prime Minister Theresa May made it very clear. Just listen to her intonation when she said how she will speak to President Trump, it just came across so clearly. They are mad - United Kingdom is mad about the leaking of this intelligence after the Manchester attack from U.S. officials to U.S. media. They have suspended at least temporarily the intelligence- sharing agreement. That's huge, given that both the U.S. and the UK are part of the five -
BERMAN: Just on this attack. Just on this attack.
HARLOW: Just on this attack, but they're in the middle of investigating this.
HARLOW: So, if you're President Trump, you're meeting with Theresa May. He's been plenty upset about leaks on his own end as well on different issues. How does he address that with her?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, Theresa May has been the European leader as you know who has been kind of the most sympathetic and welcoming to President Trump, even kind of getting ahead of the skis and promising you know, a full state visit.
Look, I mean, this is a, kind of a fascinating wrinkle, given what we are seeing in the domestic arena here in the U.S. with the leaking, in many ways, unprecedented leaking of aspects of intelligence information either swirling around the Russia investigation or for that matter the transcript of the president's conversation with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, which is something that I have never seen leaked before.
I'd be interested if Nick Burns had ever -- or Ivo Daalder has ever seen something. And it reflects kind of a great deal of ambivalence inside the intelligence and law enforcement communities about this administration. This seems like something else, though and I think he will probably be very sympathetic to her argument because he is essentially making similar claims here at home.
HARLOW: Yes, exactly.
BERMAN: Ambassador Burns, we've been talking about this. We're struck by the intensity of the anger felt with Great Britain over these leaks. This is not the president in the Oval Office talking to the Russians. "These are leaks," I put in quotation marks, "to the media" about the status of the investigation, information the likes of which the press always gets after terror attacks. We always hear -
HARLOW: It was like that after the Paris attack. It feels like it's happened after attacks in the United States. Is it different?
BERMAN: Yes. So, Ambassador, is it different this time?
BURNS: I think it is. I mean, I don't remember a time when our closest ally went public so vociferously to show its anger against United States. I should say this. I don't think it's fair to blame President Trump for this personally. He doesn't appear to have anything to do with this, but he needs to respond to it and I would think it's the right time for President Trump to say something publicly, not just we're standing with the people of the United Kingdom. We certainly are, but he might say we're going to do better in the future.
But again, I don't think this is his personal issue or challenge. But I just wanted to say as well as he walks into that beautiful new headquarters this morning, the Europeans are looking for some declarative statements and actions by President Trump because they heard from Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson that we do want to contain Russian power in Eastern Europe, but they haven't heard that from President Trump himself. I think that's the bar that he needs to reach today.
HARLOW: All right, if you could all stay with us, as we look, as you said, at the beautiful, new NATO Headquarters in Brussels -
BERMAN: It's huge!
HARLOW: -- that the president has walked into. It is huge. You love that building.
BERMAN: No, I mean, President Trump just kept walking and walking and walking inside there. It never ends.
HARLOW: It is huge. We want to get in a quick break because we do have these key meetings of the president, will begin in just a minute. Stay with us.
[10:27:36] BERMAN: All right, we have been watching events in Brussels inside Belgium at NATO Headquarters there. I believe we have some pictures we can show you. There's live headquarters of the NATO Headquarters. President Trump just arrived there a short time ago.
Very shortly, he will speak along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There is a ceremony dedicating some new artwork, frankly you know, pieces of the Berlin Wall, each side of the Berlin Wall, as you see it from the east and the west there at NATO Headquarters, obviously, the wall so important to the history of NATO.
We are waiting to hear, again, from both leaders. As we do, let's bring back in Ambassador Ivo Daalder, former Ambassador to NATO, Ron Brownstein and Jackie Kucinich, two CNN political analysts, some of our best there.
You know, Ambassador, in your time at NATO, how did the challenges that faced your organization change and what does the president now face?
DAALDER: Well, the challenges we faced from '09 to '13 was really the war in Afghanistan was first and foremost on our agenda. You'll remember, President Obama decided to surge a large number of troops. We got the allies to go along with us so that the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan was truly a fight that not only the United States but all of its NATO partners and some 23 other countries were engaged in and NATO was the organizing force for it. They commanded and controlled the forces and it was the fundamental decision-making body for that operation that is still ongoing, although at a much lesser level.
We also had to deal with terrorism in Libya, contra-piracy in Somalia and a whole variety of other things. Russia wasn't this high on the agenda when I was there, but it is top of the agenda, of course, right now and that's the big challenge for President Trump.
HARLOW: We should notice as we look at these live pictures of NATO country leaders walking into the new headquarters there, the newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron, just arrived. And we will hear very shortly from President Trump and also German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They will have this presentation, as we said, parts of the Berlin Wall. The president, we're told, will bring 9/11 artifacts to present and then they will each speak live and that's happening in just moments. As we wait for that -
BERMAN: You can see all the leaders walking in to meet the newest NATO leader, Emmanuel Macron.
BERMAN: All leaders lined up right there. See Angela Merkel, President Trump right there as well, fascinating picture.
HARLOW: And in between them, you have the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. As we wait, Ron Brownstein, to hear from them.