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Merkel: Europe Can't Rely on U.S. . Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 29, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


GREGORY: And results are going to be the thing. But I think what you hear, and I thought very eloquently, from the panel is a wide berth. They're still giving him a wide berth to achieve results. And they are -- they are more sympathetic to his arguments that people are conspiring against him. It's a reality.

[07:00:14] CAMEROTA: OK. All right. We want to thank our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, Germany says the U.S. cannot be completely relied on anymore. We have the fallout. NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We made extraordinary gains on this historic trip.

CAMEROTA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel says European nations can no longer completely rely on the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is exactly what Putin is trying to do, is to separate our NATO partners and to drive a wedge between us.

GREGORY: President Trump is reviving his attacks on the news media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are not making up these stories.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: If you complain about how you're being treated, you're going to be sidetracked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jared Kushner attempted to set up a back channel of communication between the Trump transition and the Kremlin.

GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think any channel of communication with a country like Russia is a good thing.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: My dashboard warning light was clearly on.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If these allegations are true, that's a real problem in terms of whether he should maintain that kind of security clearance.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I've never been more concerned and suspicious about all things Russia than I am right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off. David Gregory joins me here on this Memorial Day. Great to have you here...

GREGORY: Nice to be here.

CAMEROTA: ... with me. So of course, our nation is honoring its fallen heroes. All of the brave men and women who served us so well and gave the ultimate sacrifice.

In just hours, President Trump will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery there.

GREGORY: Always nice to -- to remember those who have paid this great debt to America. It's the kickoff of summer, but we remember the important part of today. So thank to all of those who have lost their lives in our country's wars.

CAMEROTA: Up first, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe must be prepared to take its fate into its own hands, adding they can no longer completely rely on the U.S. Her comments come hours after President Trump returned to Washington.

GREGORY: Yes. Now that he's back in the White House, the president is dealing with the cloud of the Russia investigation gripping his administration. The FBI's investigation now looking into the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his contacts with Russia.

The president is reviving attacks on the news media, you won't be surprised to know; lashing out at all of the leakers.

We've got it all covered this morning, where we're going to begin with CNN's Athena Jones, live at the White House this morning.

Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, David.

The president is kicking off the week, a week with a lot on the agenda, but he's facing more negative headlines. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, now questioning the strength of Europe's alliance with the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): Tensions from the president's first G-7 summit following him home. Trump's tepid support for NATO, harsh words on trade and his lack of commitment to the Paris climate agreement, putting him at odds with E.U. allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel questioning America's strong alliance with Europe: "The times when we could completely rely on others are over. Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands."

President Trump rating the trip "a great success" and tweeting a tease: he'll decide on the landmark Paris agreement this week. Trump again targeting journalists and leakers inside his own White House. The latest bombshell leaks concerning Trump's most trusted adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. During a December meeting, Kushner reportedly asking Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for help setting up a back channel for secret communications concerning Syria and other matters between Russia and the Trump team, a back channel that would bypass U.S. surveillance.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NSA AND CIA: This is off the map, Michael. I know of no other experience like this in our history. Certainly within my life experience.

CLAPPER: My dashboard warning light was clearly on, and I think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence community. Very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians.

JONES: Kislyak himself reportedly surprised by the request, according to intercepted communications between Russian officials, first published by "The Washington Post."

Ousted national security advisor Michael Flynn also purportedly present. The meeting initially left off Kushner's security clearance form before being amended a day later.

Kushner cutting his foreign trip short amid the crisis. A source telling CNN he did not want to be beside the president when the story broke, contradicting White House accounts that his early departure was planned. Democrats now calling for Kushner to have his security clearance revoked.

SCHIFF: If these allegations are true and he had discussions with the Russians about establishing a back channel and didn't reveal that, that's a real problem. But I do think there ought to be a review of his security clearance.

[07:05:10] JONES: But President Trump affirming support for Kushner, telling "The New York Times," "Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him."

And Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly playing defense on the Sunday talk shows.

KELLY: I don't see any big issue here. Any line of communications to a country, particularly a country like Russia, is a good thing.

JONES: Officials telling CNN the White House is considering creating a war room. Kushner's wife, Ivanka, spotted with President Trump's private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, at the White House Sunday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now Jared Kushner says he is willing to testify before Congress. Meanwhile, the president met with senior advisers on Sunday to discuss a way forward. And the other looming question this week is when fired FBI director James Comey will testify before Congress. This as the special counsel ramps up the Russia probe -- Alisyn, David.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that is the question about that time line. Athena, thank you. Please keep us posted.

So let's bring in our panel now to discuss all of this. We have CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza; former U.S. undersecretary for political affairs, Ambassador Nicholas Burns; and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich. Nice to see all of you today.

Ambassador Burns, what -- give us context here. What does it mean when Angela Merkel says that, basically, European countries can't rely on the U.S. anymore?

AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Well, it's a very significant statement. She is a cautious politician. She's not prone to overstatement. This is a big statement about the depth of differences between President Trump and the European leadership.

And you saw them in the meetings in Brussels last week. How to handle Russia. The Europeans perceive President Trump to be extremely weak on Russia, probably the weakest president in 70 years.

Differences on trade. The Europeans wanted a free trade agreement that President Obama had proposed. President Trump said no.

Clear differences on climate change. That is probably the biggest issue for most Europeans, both in government and out. It's a -- the Europeans who want to do something about it. They see the United States not stepping up, because President Trump has been ambivalent.

And they were shocked, I think, that on NATO, which the United States has led now since Harry Truman, the president didn't reaffirm Article V.

So for Merkel to say this, you can say it's good politics, because she's up for reelection, and President Trump is not popular, but it's disturbing for those who believe that the United States has to have to an alliance relationship, for our own interests, with -- with the Europeans.

GREGORY: I want to just stick, Ambassador, with you for a second. Look, I mean, I covered you and covered President Bush and his fights with what they called "old Europe," particularly and Germany and -- and Gerhard Schroeder over the Iraq deal. But the difference was, this was still a more unified stance on NATO, and certainly, against Russia.

I mean, people forget this this whole post-World War II order was about keeping Europe united so it wouldn't fight itself again and kill themselves again, and stand united against Russia. That falls away if allies like Germany, the most important on the continent, says, "We've got to go it alone."

BURNS: Well, that's right. We've had our differences in the past. And David, you alluded to one. The Iraq War in 2003 was a big difference when I was ambassador to NATO. But we still were fighting in Afghanistan. We were still working together on Iran.

And for the United States, we've always believed that the Europeans share our values. They're willing to fight with us. They align with us on major issues. In essence, they are the big power differential between the United States and Russia, because Russia doesn't have allies, and we have these 28 allies in NATO.

And the problem now, of course, is that the Europeans are very concerned about their eastern borders because of Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea. They are worried about the annexation of Crimea. The problems of Georgia. They need our help. And so it's in our interests to be working with them.

And so this Merkel statement really could be a point of historical change where the United States loses influence in Europe. And that would be a very, very sad day for us.

CAMEROTA: So Chris Cillizza, what's the upshot of the president's first foreign trip? He had a very friendly visit with Saudi Arabia and then now we hear about some of the things that happened in Europe, with Angela Merkel making this statement. So what's -- how do we frame how it went?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. Well, look, from his perspective, successful. From, I think, everyone else's perspective, dicey.

Look, I think there was a lot of concern and wonder, Alisyn, in terms of domestic policy with this president. What would he do? What would his impact be? He was going to roll back Obamacare, et cetera, et cetera.

I actually think, and the ambassador knows this far better than I. But I actually think his real impact could be in foreign policy. Impacts that could go well beyond his four or even eight years.

What we saw on this trip was quite clear. Donald Trump does not believe, at least rhetorically speaking, in that post-World War II U.S./Europe alliance. That there are many things he's willing to say to them: NATO and dues, things on trade, that he -- climate change. He's just not willing to go along to get along.

The whole "Make America Great Again" slogan was always focused internally, domestically. But I actually think the ideas that he promulgated during the campaign, as it relates to foreign policy, could have a far more lasting impact in terms of both what the U.S. means to the world, how the U.S. is seen and, to the ambassador's point, what we can do in the world well beyond Donald Trump, a first term or a second term.

I think this trip, to answer your question, Alisyn, makes clear to people paying attention that Donald Trump is a very different cat. This is not the continuation, Republican or Democrat, of the presidents that we've had in the post-World War II era. GREGORY: But it's...

CILLIZZA: George W. Bush and Barack Obama agreed to disagree on many things...

GREGORY: Right.

CILLIZZA: ... but neither of them would do the sorts of things, in terms of both style and policy differences that Donald Trump has. Sorry, David.

GREGORY: No, I mean, but that's the key point. And I do think it's worth remembering. I mean, you know, the president can be criticized over this, and this is a huge deal.

But you go back to the early part of the century, Europeans thought George W. Bush was a cowboy. He didn't agree with them on Kyoto on the climate change treaty. There was Iraq. There was the ABM treaty. There was his stance towards Russia. There was a lot that made western European countries completely freak out. So we covered that.

I want to switch to Jared Kushner. Jackie, if you are the White House, you've got to be legitimately upset that there is so much leaking going on about this investigation and all the threads where it's leading to.

That said, Kushner has got to be seen as a liability at this point, if for nothing else than poor judgment in dealing with a country like Russia, which had tried to influence our election; and then trying to set up a back channel, according to "The Washington Post."

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So there's two factions, as there are a lot in this White House. There are the Jared Kushner loyalists, who are rallying around him. We saw -- and the president's loyalists. We saw them on the Sunday shows.

But then there are a more -- a quieter bunch that are very worried about Jared Kushner's continued involvement on his enormous portfolio. I don't think there is a major issue that Jared Kushner is not somehow involved in.

That said, this is one of the problems of having your family be involved this deeply in policy and at the White House. Because they know this isn't someone who can be fired and just go away. He is the president's son-in-law.

GREGORY: And Trump said he's got 100 percent confidence and total confidence in Kushner, according to the president.

KUCINICH: Which usually, that might -- you can try to read into that. Because the president has had confidence in people that have either fallen by the wayside. This person is married to his daughter. And it's been -- it was very stark. Even listening to the lead-in to this segment. When people are working for the White House, like Secretary Kelly, and when they not working for the White House, like...

GREGORY: Like Michael Hayden.

KUCINICH: ... like Michael Hayden.

GREGORY: Yes.

KUCINICH: So there is a very stark difference of what you heard between these both very accomplished national security officials.

CILLIZZA: And I would just -- I would just add very quickly on that point, these are the two things, two of the pillars of Trumpism. One is, to Jackie's point, family above all. If Donald Trump has shown anything, guys, is that he is always loyal to family first. That's really the only people he listens to.

At the same time, another pillar of Trumpism. He hates when people who aren't him get him bad press. Right?

GREGORY: That's his job.

CILLIZZA: So you have the immovable object -- right. This is what you have. You have these two things sort of colliding, because you have a guy who you just can't get rid of, to Jackie's point, with a guy who clearly must annoy Trump because of the bad press. What does that happen? Kushner is a unique -- always has been a unique figure in this White House. More so now, given the press he's drawn.

CAMEROTA: But Ambassador Burns, I mean, back channel to Russia. Good or bad? You know, we heard both things this weekend. And we heard John Kelly say that's a good thing. Anytime you can communicate with Russia, however it happens, if you can, you know, have a better relationship, that's a good thing. And you heard Michael Hayden, "That's so off the reservation I can't remember another time in my lifetime." So where does that leave us?

BURNS: Well, I think the difference is, Alisyn, if -- if the Trump administration had been in office and looking for a way to communicate with someone close to Putin, that would be one thing. But this is in the transition. You've got to be careful. The first instinct would have been to have reached out to the democratic allies that we have in Europe, not the Russians.

And what's strange about this, if the reports are true -- and we don't know if they're true -- that the channel was to have used Russian communications, thereby avoiding the normal communications with the White House or the State Department. That is bizarre. I've never heard of anything like that.

But I do think it's important that -- that Jared Kushner have a chance to address these. Obviously, he's innocent until proven guilty. But it's a strange story, if the story is true.

GREGORY: And by the way, why does nobody get mad in the Trump world about what Russia tried to do to America? That's what I keep waiting for. Instead of all of this evidence pointing to the coziness with Vladimir Putin? What about an attack on our institutions? That should be bigger than your own sense of legitimacy or whether people are going to question whether you won. That's, to me, what's shocking about all of this.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll try to get you some answers in the next hour.

GREGORY: OK. Before 9, if you could.

CAMEROTA: You got it. Panel, thank you very much.

GREGORY: All right. So there's another big decision that the world is waiting for from President Trump. It could come this week. A decision on the Paris climate deal. Former energy secretary Bill Richardson says it's about more than climate change, and pulling out could be disastrous for America. But there's disagreement about all of that, as well. We'll get to that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:20:00] GREGORY: You heard President Trump called his trip to Europe a great success for America, but there are some discordant views about that. Asking whether the U.S. stands in the world the way it always has. How about German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that Europe can't completely rely on America and all the reverberations from that comment.

We want to discuss this morning with former energy secretary, United National ambassador and Democratic governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson; and former Republican congressman from Michigan Pete Hoekstra, president of the Hoekstra Global Strategies.

Gentlemen, good morning.

BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER ENERGY SECRETARY/U.N. AMBASSADOR/GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: Good morning.

PETE HOEKSTRA (R), FORMER MICHIGAN CONGRESSMAN: Good morning.

GREGORY: Let's get right to it. Congressman Hoekstra, this is what Angela Merkel said after President Trump had left, after meetings with other European leaders and the United States. She said, "The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over. I experienced that in the last few days, and therefore, I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands."

You said good. You say that this is actually Europe standing up for itself, making bigger contributions. But you can't deny that this potentially reflects a breakdown in an international security order that has stood tall since World War II.

HOEKSTRA: I don't expect that we're going to see any breakdown at all. I think the president went to Europe. He told them what the United States or wants this president wants in a relationship. He wants a Europe that will invest more in its national or its continental defense. It wants a Europe to is going to step up and fight ISIS and the threat from radical Islam. He wants a Europe that will assist us in confronting North Korea and Russia. He laid it on the line and said, "You want a strong partnership with

the United States. These are the things that we expect from our partners." He wants a strong Europe, and he laid it -- he laid it on the line and said, "This is what I think a strong Europe reflects. And this is the kind of partner that we need in Europe..."

GREGORY: But Congressman...

HOEKSTRA: "... if we're going to be successful confronting the threats that are out there."

GREGORY: Fair point. Where has he confronted Russia thus far? He has on Syria. Called them out on Syria. Where else has he confronted Russia on areas that other Europeans do care about, particularly countries on their border?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think, you know, we've got troops continue to have postings of our troops in Poland and other places. And, you know, that serves as the trip wire and serves as a very strong message to the Russians.

Clearly, though, for our priorities and for this -- for this president's priorities and this administration, confronting ISIS and the threat from radical Islam and the instability in Northern Africa and in the Middle East is a key priority.

And that is why, yes, he has opened up and explored different ways of working with Russia in Syria and in the Middle East. But I don't think that Europe has anything to fear that the United States will not stand with them in Europe.

So Bill Richardson, that's an important point. But we also can't deny history. The last time Russia was resurgent, Germany talked about going it alone, the United States stepped back from Europe, was before World War II. And we know how that turned out.

RICHARDSON: We do. And I think what the president has said and done in the summit in Europe with the G-7 is basically says, "We're changing our foreign policy. We're not going to endorse Article V of NATO," which is common self-defense.

He picks a fight with Germany over BMWs. It looks like we're going to withdraw or renegotiate climate change; 195 countries. We're in a situation right now where we're basically saying to the Europeans, "The big issues for us is that you pay your 2 percent that -- for NATO."

We did not say anything about how we're going to be strong with Russia, in the sense that Russia to European countries -- Eastern Europe, Western Europe -- they -- they use leverage with their natural gas. They push them in Crimea. They push them all across Eastern Europe.

And what you have now is Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany, basically saying, "Look" -- with France, the new president of France -- "we're probably going to have to go it alone on climate change, on defense."

I think we stay in, in NATO. I think the president did change, thankfully, that NATO was not obsolete. But when he sends a message that we go to the Middle East, we go to the Arab states and say, "Human rights is not important, but you're key in fighting ISIS." I did not hear one statement about the president about how we need Europe -- especially France, Britain and Germany -- in the fight against ISIS. That's key. Their military assistance as we move into fighting ISIS.

GREGORY: Right. Let me...

RICHARDSON: I didn't hear that. All I heard was lecturing. All I heard was negativism.

GREGORY: Well, I mean, I think he did talk about them playing a role and certainly laid out, in Saudi Arabia, a priority about how to confront ISIS.

Congressman, let me pick up on this issue of the Paris climate deal. A lot of people hear this. They know that President Obama negotiated this. That there's all kinds -- you know, more than 100 countries involved, and Europe wants the United States to stay in.

So make the case in support of President Trump, because reportedly, he will not stay in. Make that case about why pulling out is the right idea.

HOEKSTRA: Well, No. 1, what the president is doing is he has every right to do. He's going back and reevaluating a climate agreement.

You know, the mistake that was made here is that the previous administration negotiated an agreement that worked for the Obama administration. There is a process that America uses to make long- term commitments. It's the president working with the U.S. Senate, making these international agreements and then putting them into a forum of a treaty. That binds future administrations to those policies or makes it very, very difficult.

GREGORY: What about the substance of this, though? What concerns you about the substance of it?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think what this -- what this president is looking at is saying does this enable America to be competitive? Are the other countries in the world making the same types of sacrifices or the same types of commitments for emissions reductions and those types of things that are fair to American workers, to American taxpayers? His administration is going exactly through that process.

And this -- you know, this is what he said during the campaign. President Obama, if he wanted a long-term legacy, should have negotiated it and should have taken it to the U.S. Senate so that...

GREGORY: All right.

HOEKSTRA: ... Republicans and Democrats would have all been agreed that this is the direction that America wants to go.

GREGORY: So fair enough. Let's have the debate, then, Bill Richardson. Why on its substance should America remain committed to an international climate treaty?

RICHARDSON: Well, several reasons. For our own sake, it's bad energy policy if we pull out. We'd be relying on fossil fuels, on oil and coal instead of on renewable energy. The president has already loosened standards on vehicles, fuel standards; he's already loosened standards on clean power plants.

And so what we need is an energy policy that does not pollute the earth also, environmentally. Three billion extra tons of carbon dioxide per year if we pull out.

Plus, the international side. A hundred and ninety-five countries have signed this agreement. Our main allies in Europe. The G-7 most advanced democracies. China and India. We finally get them to reduce their emissions. And all of a sudden, we say we pull out. What's going to happen is, of those 195 countries, when the U.S., the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, pulls out, then a lot of other countries are going to pull out.

Plus, it hurts American agriculture and American industry, because what you have is potential food and water shortages. Our crops, extreme weather changes.

This is an international agreement that is for the environment, but also has national security implications.

GREGORY: So...

RICHARDSON: And the biggest country, the biggest polluter on earth pulling out is going to be a drastic signal.

GREGORY: But it's all...

RICHARDSON: Even if we renegotiate it. I hope the president just stays and does not change it.

GREGORY: This debate will continue, particularly with regard to the impact on the U.S. economy.

Congressman, before I end our conversation here, with your background in intelligence, on the permanent select Intelligence Committee, I have to ask you about the reporting out of "The Washington Post" and Jared Kushner. This will be the subject of the investigation, but I want to ask something different.

Given what we know about Russia attempting to interfere with America's election, why do you think it was anything but horrible judgment, at the very least, to set up a back channel with Russia under those circumstances in a transition period?

HOEKSTRA: I don't have a problem with Jared Kushner or the Trump administration talking with the Russians. I expect during the transition process they're talking to the Russians; they're talking to the Chinese; they're talking to the Brits; they're talking to the Germans. That is what you do during a transition process.

GREGORY: This is not -- but wait a minute, Congressman. This is not a normal transition process.

HOEKSTRA: I think the real question, and I listened very closely...

GREGORY: This is a country that is our adversary that tried to hack and interfere with our election. I mean, you're a Republican. I thought the Republican Party was wary of Russia's intentions. And nobody gets on here and says, "Darn it, I cannot believe the Russians would do this to America. We're going to push back." They didn't do any of that in the transition.

HOEKSTRA: I think that Republicans and Democrats are very much in agreement.