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Germany Says Trump is "Weakening the West"; Manchester Attacker Known to Security Authorities; 100 Years of JFK

Aired May 29, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:05] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Germany disses the Donald. The foreign minister says President Trump is weakening the West

just hours after the chancellor warned that Europe can no longer fully rely on the United States or the U.K. for that matter. I get reaction from both

sides of this transatlantic relationship with Norbert Roettgen, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German parliament and London's former man

in Washington's Sir Peter Westmacott.

Plus, Britain's secret service begins an investigation into itself. Did it miss early warnings about the Manchester bomber? We look into his links

with Libya.

And imagine JFK at 100 today. Much loved around the world, including in Germany.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner!"


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christian Amanpour in London.

Donald Trump is back in the United States after what he is calling a home run first foreign trip. But not so much say his European hosts. After

failing to issue a united G7 communique because President Trump would not commit to the Paris Climate Accord and after he also failed to confirm

NATO's mutual defense guarantee, an extraordinary rift has appeared between transatlantic friends.

The German government launched a scathing critique with the foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel piling on after these watershed comments by

Chancellor Merkel at a campaign rally in beer hall this weekend.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The times when we can completely count on others, they are over to a certain extent. I've

experienced this in the last few days and that is why I can only say that, we, Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.


AMANPOUR: Now on Monday, her spokesman insisted that Merkel remains deeply committed to relations with the United States.

So is this a passing squall or a brewing storm?

Joining me now from Berlin, Norbert Roettgen, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Germans Bundestag and an ally of Chancellor Merkel and

from Turkey, the veteran British diplomat Sir Peter Westmacott. He was ambassador to the United States until last year.

Gentlemen, welcome both to the program.

Mr. Roettgen, first to you. We are all interpreting this as a watershed moment. Can you tell me how you see what not just Chancellor Merkel, but

also Sigmar Gabriel have said loudly and publicly about President Trump.

NORBERT ROETTGEN, HEAD, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE OF THE GERMANS BUNDESTAG: Well, it is the fact that we have experienced a totally different

president. A president to all of his predecessors since World War II, who puts into question the very foundations of the transatlantic relations and

partnership and alliance which has been so successful over the decade. And now he puts into question multilateralism. He puts into question or he

remains weigh on his commitment of Article V.

He rejects a common endorsement of a -- of the Paris Climate Accord and so on. And there were specificities of his behavior. And what we interpreted

is and more we're forced to interpret is there is a lack of leadership or I would say more precisely there is a lack of interest in leading the western

community or the world and we have to draw our conclusions at when and if the president of the United States does not have that skill or/and interest

in leading the western world so we have to not to replace but to bring in our capacities. We have to grow up for more responsibility.

AMANPOUR: So Peter Westmacott, I mean, you've been ambassador all over the world and in the United States. This is an extraordinary development,

isn't it? An extraordinary departure.

SIR PETER WESTMACOTT, BRITISH DIPLOMAT: I think it is rather extraordinary. The thing we need to remember is, of course, that everybody

has got elections coming up in the United Kingdom and in Germany in particular.

In France, of course, they've just had their elections, which is one reason why we are seeing Emmanuel Macron taking a greatest firm line with digging

Trump and Putin today and so on.

But, yes, and I think Dr. Roettgen is right. That this comes on the back of some pretty sharp exchanges between the chancellor and Donald Trump on

trade, on NATO, on climate change.

And following from a pretty much no questions asked visit to Saudi Arabia where they must lovey dovey and nobody addressed the issues. And that he

comes to Europe, but he seemed to be criticizing or lecturing the Europeans.

And so I think it's an understandable response to that. And I would add as a Brit, of course, that he mentioned the United Kingdom as well as the

United States of America, and I think it's a sensitivity, if I'm wrong is not a correction by my German friends in Germany that not only have we

gotten an American president who isn't too sure about the relationship with Europe or the commitment to NATO, but is also concerned about what Europe

is going to look like when the U.K. is no longer there. And I personally think that the United Kingdom government needs to think about what the

chancellor is doing as well.

AMANPOUR: It is amazing. But I just want to ask you, Mr. Roettgen, because Sir Peter suggested that there may be some election fever in the

air with these strong comments about the United States.

Is that how you read it?

ROETTGEN: No, I would say, of course, in election times we have a higher consciousness and interest for politics. And, of course, German voters

want to know what is the German reaction, the political reaction, to this new style of presidency we have to observe.

And there was unanimously a perception and comment here in Germany and throughout the G7 leaders and the NATO leaders, not only those that have to

face elections, but also all other leaders, the heads of government and state, I think they all shared the same impression I tried earlier to


AMANPOUR: Right. Let me play this sound bite from Chancellor Merkel about the failure to have a joint declaration on climate.


MERKEL: The entire discussion about climate was very difficult if not to say very dissatisfying. We have a situation where six or if you also

include the EU seven are against one.

AMANPOUR: So what does this mean? I mean, first of all to you, Sir Peter, what does this mean for the whole survivability of the Paris Accord. You

used to be ambassador in France and you are following this quite carefully.

WESTMACOTT: I think there are two big policy areas where President Trump is deeply disappointing a lot of his European and other allies. One is on

climate, another is on trade. He doesn't seem to really reconsidering his position on objections free trade agreements and multilateral trade.

And on climate, remember he did put a climate denier in charge of the Environment Protection Agency. And there's not much sign that he has begun

to think again about his very strong fossil fuels and the coal lobby and so on. This was a very important agreement which was laboriously put together

by so many different countries.

China was brought on board. President Obama, United States played a very big role. So I think for the United States to walk away from this would be

massively disappointing.

And, frankly, very damaging to the chancellor's responsible countries in the world doing something realistic about CO2 emissions and climate warming

in general.

So, yes, it's a big deal, and I think it will be disappointing if as a president has hinted within the next few days he comes down against

sticking to the commitment of his predecessor to this agreement.

AMANPOUR: Can I turn to you, Mr. Roettgen, because I want to specifically ask you about this other sort of strange sort of thing where Mr. Trump

called Germany bad, very bad, for flooding the U.S. market with cars.

And then Mrs. Merkel apparently took him to task in the meeting and also called his comments inappropriate. I mean, beyond the verbal volleying,

what does this mean for trade and relationships?

ROETTGEN: That there really is a deep disagreement on these fundamentals, which have been agreements and consensus for the U.K. The United States

always has been the torchbearer for free trade. Now China, China is stepping in in leading the world for globalization and the United States is

retreating on that.

And the same with the commitment to NATO. So trade and NATO commitment and climate change, these are the three top issues which are very much

addressed in our perception toward domestic audience. He has to deliver on promises. And this abuse of foreign policy for domestic goods, I think

this is what goes too far and derives the United States and this president from a strong leadership.

He's -- he's going away from the international stage and only addressing the national audience in order to give proof that he is delivering on his

national promises. And this can't be the role of the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

[14:10:15] AMANPOUR: So we've only got one minute left. Sir Peter Westmacott, how does Vladimir Putin see all this? To his advantage or


WESTMACOTT: I suspect that he's more or less ecstatic. He must be very pleased to see rumblings within NATO. Divisions there, failed that the

president of the United States didn't commit to Article V. And even divisions within the European Union.

This is exactly what he would like, a weak Western Europe. The Western Europeans divided from the United States of America. And somebody with

whom he seems to have a close relationship in the form of President Trump, making some of that difficulty, but having a very strong bilateral

relationship with himself and the Kremlin.

AMANPOUR: Really important times.

Mr. Roettgen, Sir Peter Westmacott, thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

ROETTGEN: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And in the meantime, having refused to concede in a white- knuckle handshake with President Trump during their first meeting of the NATO Summit this weekend, the French President Emmanuel Macron is now fresh

from another high-stakes diplomatic dual.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin as we just mentioned came calling on him as the Palace of Versailles trying to normalize relations after going

out on a limb to support Macron's opponent in the election, the far right Marine Le Pen.

Now body language speaks volumes and in a joint press conference earlier today, Putin listened in as Macron accused Russian-state media of spreading

fake news about him during that campaign.

These meetings come as the Kremlin looks to be setting its sight on a new target.

Our Nina Dos Santos traveled to the Baltics to investigate what could be a new front in Russia's anti-NATO cyber war.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These troops are part of NATO's 4,000 strong increase presence in the Baltics and Poland. They may

be here to guard the border, but guarding their reputation is also paramount amid a wave of disinformation designed to zap public support for

their presence.

In February, German soldiers were falsely accused of raping a girl near their barracks. The allegation made it all the way to Lithuania's

parliament and Angela Merkel.

MERKEL: Perhaps it was important that we were able to clarify this together very quickly. From our side, the German side, this was clearly a

false report.

DOS SANTOS: To combat what they say is a barrage of falsehoods each month, Lithuania has developed its own tools to monitor fake contents before it


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This time, we track some events such as NATO exercises trigger information and cyber attacks in real time.

From graffiti with anti-NATO messages to doctored footage like this video of an air strike that never happened and TV polls hacked to give the wrong

result, army analyst say they've seen it all.

So that poll is wrong because it was hacked?

TOMAS CEPONIS, SENIOR ARMY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. One computer was able to vote 1,500 times and 70 percent of all votes was like a consequence

of cyber attack.

DOS SANTOS: Even the Baltic's biggest news agency was compromised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I noticed a strange story in our newswire alleging that American troops were in Latvia. I immediately turn and said, what the

heck? Where has this story come from? And he just shrugged his shoulders and said, I don't know anything about it. And then we realized that it

looks like a fake news story.

DOS SANTOS: For Lithuania, the culprit is clear and the threat increasing.

RAIMUNDAS KAROBLIS, LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: It is coming from our eastern neighbor, from Russia.

DOS SANTOS: Russia's response to CNN, where is the evidence?

KAROBLIS: So the logical war and on this issue, suddenly we don't have any doubts. And we have, of course, clear evidence that this is coming from


(on-camera) DOS SANTOS: Of course the advent of fake news and the undermining of NATO aren't just local phenomena. They've been happening

right around the world. But here on Europe's most eastern front and countries like this so close to Russia, these are risks that are being

taken very seriously indeed.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN, in Vilnius, Lithuania.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, Manchester terror and the Libya connection next.

But first, back in America, a 53-year-old army veteran and a 23-year-old college graduate were killed and a 21-year-old suffered serious injuries

after they stood up to a white supremacist who was hurling hate speech at two young women. One of whom was wearing a hijab on a train.

President Trump tweeted today, "The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance.

Our prayers are with them."


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Police have released new pictures of the Manchester bomber and a blue suitcase amid a series of arrest over the weekend and they appeal for

information on the terror network behind last week's horrific attack.

Now MI-5 is under the spotlight. An internal probe is underway over how much the British intelligence agency knew about the bomber Salman Abedi

prior to last week's deadly blast. 22-year-old Abedi was of Libyan decent. Manchester has a massive Libyan population. Many of whom fled under

Muammar Gadhafi. And it appears Abedi was radicalized by his links to Libya.

The chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation in Manchester told me last week that there were warnings from his community.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sources close to me tell me (INAUDIBLE) reported him to the police two years before he actually carried out these terrorist


AMANPOUR: Reported him to the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The counterterrorism police is a reliable source. He's spoken to me this afternoon and he's told me quite clearly, I spoke to him

two years ago to tell them that this person was involved in extremism, not necessarily terrorism, but the mindset of being involved in terrorism. And

sadly nothing happened.


AMANPOUR: So joining me now is Professor Mansour El-Kikhia. He is a former Libyan diplomat and a political science professor at the University

of Texas at San Antonio.


AMANPOUR (on-camera): Professor, welcome to the program.

Can I first start by asking you about Libya and the radicalization apparently that this Salman Abedi and maybe even other members of his

family underwent as the world mostly focuses on Syria and Iraq for radicalization.

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UTSA: Well, yes, thank you for having me. Secondly, we don't really have too much time to talk about

this, but the truth is -- the whole issue began with Gadhafi himself. Gadhafi was very successful in destroying the only force -- actually

prevented the intrusion of radical force into North Africa.

He destroyed this movement which was really very mild form, and then it was a really -- a big dam against the intrusion of radical force from Egypt,

from Arabia, from elsewhere.

And when they destroyed that barrier, you have a flood of radical force coming into Libya and his response was to attack them. And he imprisoned

many of them.

So many actually, as you -- like you said, migrated to Europe where they had a free hand to what they actually wanted to do. In England, not only

Manchester, throughout England and in France.

But France, there was more restriction on them than there was in England and the U.K. And what happened really basically over there is that they

had a free hand to recruit and to do what they wanted to do. And they used the existing networks, which was then talk and some of those chat rooms to

actually recruit and to develop the ideology and thought. And when Gadhafi collapsed, they would have leaders in coming to Libya to bring him down,


AMANPOUR: So let me just stop you for one second. So who recruited them from those chat rooms?

[14:20:00] EL-KIKHIA: Well, you can see what happened. It didn't only happen in Libya. You also have from Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt. And they

settled in Europe.

And these chat rooms were open to these people once these people were trusted and they found them in closed chat rooms. You can't enter them

without actually passwords for them. And they were very effective in recruiting these young children. And then they did it very well.

AMANPOUR: So from what we gather from the reporting, Abedi's father was a senior figure of the Libyan Islamist fighting group. He fought in the

revolution against Gadhafi during the Arab spring in 2011.

So what kind of influence would that have had on Salman and his brother who also has been arrested apparently in Libya now?

EL-KIKHIA: Well, ultimately, you see the fighting root of today today's (INAUDIBLE). There is a tremendous influx of both Daesh and ISIS and then

the Islamic fighters. They are still there. They are very radical. This is the problem with the GNA right now. It can't really control the whole

area because of the radical thought in the area itself and who were opposed to it and still support radical Islam.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, though, kind of an obvious question? The British, the French and finally the Americans, they came in to save Libyans

from Gadhafi.

Why would these people turn against Britain in this case? What makes a young man so angry that he comes back and not only kills other people but

wants to kill himself?

EL-KIKHIA: Let me tell you something, I mean, I -- what I saw in the last four years of Guantanamo Bay and coming through and meeting them and

talking to them. In fact, I met one of them and I said, listen, I accept what you are. I accept (INAUDIBLE).

I accept using toothpaste for your teeth. I accepted the clothes, the Afghani clothes. I accept all that. All I want you is to please accept my

radical thought. Accept my -- no, no, no, no. You are a blasphemer and you deserve to go to hell and you should be killed. And I said, why? He

said because you are advocating democracy.


EL-KIKHIA: Seriously, this is what we're dealing with. We're dealing with nutcases.

AMANPOUR: So I started by saying MI-5 is under internal investigation as to whether it missed the warnings about this Salman Abedi.

Do you --

EL-KIKHIA: I think the whole world missed the warning about Salman Abedi and others. I mean, they didn't realize what they were dealing with very

early on, beginning with the Afghan war and against the Soviet Union there and coming to today.

And the truth is, in my fight, whatever you want to blame it, it can't know anything. It can control some things but can't control many other things.

And it has too many people in the world to deal with particularly coming to Britain seeking asylum from whatever they are seeking asylum to.

AMANPOUR: Professor El-Kikhia, thank you so much for joining us from Texas today.

EL-KIKHIA: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: Now 54 years after his assassination, President John F. Kennedy is still remembered around the world as a beacon of enlightened leadership.

When we come back, we imagine the man cut down in the full bloom of his youth at 100 because today is his birthday.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, a scandal after scandal hits this embattled White House. We imagine a time when Washington was the fairy tale land of


John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born 100 years ago today. And there's barely anyone old enough to remember who doesn't wonder what the world might have

looked like had he lived out his full term or terms.

He was America's youngest president. Its first Catholic president. Perhaps its most handsome president, too, with a picture-perfect wife and a

young family livening up the stodgy old White House. Kennedy's exuberance, his energy and his leadership went far beyond his eloquent speeches though

they were transformative, too, from the very first day he took office.

No talk of American carnage, rather extolling the brilliant possibility of American endeavors.


KENNEDY: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other thing not because they are easy, but because they are hard.


AMANPOUR: And far from the me first of today, he asked his people to choose service over being served.


KENNEDY: So, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.



AMANPOUR: And added to that, Kennedy was tough and smart and wise enough to steer the world away from thermal nuclear war during the 13 days of the

Cuban missile crisis. All of that in just 1,000 days in office.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.