Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Lands in Germany for G20 Summit; Trump: "Nobody really knows" who Meddled in Election; Trump Urges Russia to Stop "Destabilizing Activities". Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Nic Robertson in Hamburg. Stick around, Nic. Again, Air Force One just arriving at the airport right now. The president will deplane shortly and head to his meeting - his first meeting at the G20 with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nic, laying out what's at stake there, already a great deal of news made today.
The president gave a speech in Warsaw in Poland where he stood behind Article V of NATO. Something he did not do when he was in Europe a couple of months ago. This time he did it. He did it out loud, something that the NATO allies will no doubt welcome it. But he also, in the clearest terms yet, condemned what he called the destabilizing activities of Russia.
However, before that speech, he once again questioned the intelligence was said that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. The president said, yes, I think Russia did it, but he also thinks other nations did. And he made clear, that he believes no one can know for sure, which is a very different message that he is getting from his own U.S. intelligence agencies, which definitively say that Russia did meddle in the U.S. election.
We got a lot to discuss, a lot going on. Joining me now, David Andelman, editor-emeritus of the "World Policy Journal," Jill Dougherty, CNN contributor, global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Center and Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN military analyst.
Jill, I want to start with you. I don't want to leave these pictures right now because I want to stay on the president as he deplanes. So I'm not going to play his sound from earlier from the speech in Warsaw, but I want to read you what he said.
He goes, "We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes -- including Syria and Iran -- and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself."
You know, so, Jill that is really the clearest statement warning that we heard from President Trump as president or candidate to Russia and Vladimir Putin yet. How will it be received? JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND GLOBAL FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Well, that is correct. However, Vladimir Putin is a person who looks at details. And I think Vladimir Putin is probably looking at two different things right now. Number one is that speech, which was obviously written and carefully vetted by his -- Mr. Trump's advisers and probably the State Department and others. It's a clear exposition of the United States view. It's a clear endorsement of Article V.
But then you have the other statement that President Trump made, which is nobody really knows. It's unclear who did or who carried out any type of interference in the American election. And that is something that Donald Trump said. At that point, he was at a news conference. This was not scripted. He said what he said before. And I think Vladimir Putin looks at that and says, yes, the first statement is an official statement. That's fine.
The second one is what he really thinks. And I think -- you know, Mr. Putin, President Putin is very adept at driving a wedge into an argument. He is, by training, a lawyer, yes. Soviet law, but still, so he will drive these in. And he wants to know what Donald Trump really is thinking. And I think he just heard what Donald Trump is thinking, which is an element of doubt. And so, by doing this, Donald Trump has undercut his bargaining position already with President Putin.
BERMAN: Very interesting notion there. David Andelman, you know, on the one hand, the president is speaking out against what he calls destabilizing activities of Russia. You know, I'm no expert on intelligence, but could Russian hacking into election be considered a destabilizing activity, David?
DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR-EMERITUS, "WORLD POLICY JOURNAL": There's no doubt about it. And that's what going into this. This is going to be very interesting going into this bilateral with Putin. And that is to say it's the optics. It's not only the substance. Because the substance seemed swing back and forth, depending on whether he's speaking off the cuff, from his heart, probably or whether he's speaking off a script from the people in the White House and the State Department who have been drafting it.
But the optics is very important in this speech or this meeting. Just remember the last time that Trump met a senior Russian official or officials. He met Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister and the former ambassador to Washington, Kislyak in his office. And they were slapping each other on the back and telling jokes and so on and pictures or photographs of that out. That is very different from the kind of atmosphere that I think most of the professionals and the Kremlin watches - the Putin watchers in the government and the United States government would like to see. That's not the kind of atmosphere they want to see. So, this meeting will be very important as much for the optics as the substance.
BERMAN: You talk about optics. We saw something right there, rare sight, literally rolling out the red carpet for the president who'll deplane on Air Force One. And we also talk about optics. Senator  , you know, the president was speaking in Warsaw moments ago in front of thousands of cheering, adoring fans, chanting his name there. [10:05:01] And he was speaking about strength, the strength of NATO and really the defiance of the people of Poland, in some cases in Europe, for the struggle they have had over the last several generations. That message, I do imagine will be received well, particularly in eastern and central Europe.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Almost definitely, John. And the reason it's going to be received so well is that Poland, once its suffering recognized. And I think this was the first time that I can remember that a U.S. president has spent so much time talking about the struggles of the Polish people. Other presidents, of course, have visited Poland and they have talked about some aspects of it. But this was a pretty good tour de force that outlined everything in the modern Polish history that really was important to the Polish people. And it shows a degree of solidarity with the European nation that we really didn't expect President Trump to show at least at this juncture.
BERMAN: Look, watching Melania Trump and the president of the United States right now, deplaning, coming off of Air Force One, off a short flight from Warsaw. It's been less than 24 hours in Poland, but very warmly received there, the president waving to the group there, meeting him. He will get - I believe, on the helicopter and fly now to the meetings of the G20. Although we'll have to wait and see exactly what the transportation is.
You know, Nic Robertson, again, this is really a jam packed two days of meetings the president has. And we focused a lot on the European aspect, including the meetings with Vladimir Putin but there's a whole other aspect to this as well, which is the President Xi Jinping of China is there. In some ways, trying to assume leadership at the G20 and you have this looming issue of North Korea hanging over these meetings as well. A lot to discuss in the coming days, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and a lot of things that are so somewhat difficultly and intricately interconnected here. He will meet with Xi Jinping. He'll meet with Prime Minister Abe from Japan. President Moon from South Korea will - you know the issue there is, of course, going to be about North Korea. You know, Japan, South Korea, in a good part on the same page as the United States on North Korea, wanting to get stronger U.N. sanctions against North Korea.
But you know when he goes into that meeting with Abe, he'll be very much aware that, you know, just 24 hours earlier, Abe will have been striking a new free trade deal with the European Union that is really being flouted, if you like, in President Trump's face as this is the way we want to do business. Free trade, lower customs tariffs, allow Japan to export -- to Germany and the rest of Europe of course and for the European Union to export agricultural products more easily to Japan.
So, you know, there will be parts to that meeting that might, on the one hand seem that they are on the same page and other parts where they will have differences of opinion. And this is going to be something that President Trump has to navigate. So, five set meetings during the next couple days of actual G20 meetings. A couple of those are working lunches. These are hour, two-hour sessions long, 20 leaders -- it's hard to see them all getting much to say. But there will be all those bilateral as well. And they are adding up. So, it's a very, very full plate for President Trump coming in here. And a lot of it not going to be to the taste that he likes, John?
BERMAN: Nic Robertson, I'm going to let you get back to reporting and prepare for the president's arrival at the meetings right now. And to the panel, I'm going to add Michael Shear, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent. Michael, thank you so much for being with us.
You can see over the course of today, the president's political advisers at work as well. The president had a lot of points today in just two appearances so far. One was the press conference where he managed to get in some criticism to the press, so some doubts about the idea of a Russian election hacking. And then in that speech, which was something that the White House was very proud of leading up to it. This is a speech they pointed us to and said he is going to make news here.
Listen carefully to what he says. Not just because of what he says about Russia, but because of what he says about the west. These are messages, all of them, that the White House wanted to deliver today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article V the mutual defense commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. We just played a sound bite apparently of President Trump standing behind Article V there, yet one more message, Michael, that he wanted to send. But again, to my question, you know, politically speaking, these are all points that the president wanted to hit today.
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. Look, I mean, I have been on so many of these trips with presidents and this is shaping up to be a classic one where the president of the United States has to navigate both domestic and foreign policy, right?
[10:10:05] You have a breaking news foreign policy crisis with North Korea. You have the delegate and not very good relationships with many of the G20 partners, which he's about to meet with after undermining those relationships with his actions on the Paris climate accord and chiding them about NATO last time around. And then, you have the domestic politics, right?
He is speaking not only to the people of the world, but he's also speaking to his supporters back home. And that's where you get messages about his doubts about the Russian connection to the election meddling. That's where you get -- talk about populism and him sending kind of unmistakable messages to the people back home that, you know, he's going to stand-up around the world on trade issues and other things that they care about and that maybe the elites don't care about as much. And so, it's a really -- all president's, you know, have this, these sort of dual tracks they are on when they are on these trips. But this one is particularly complicated.
BERMAN: Fascinating to see, again, the president getting ready to take off right now in Marine One where he will head to specific meetings. First on tap, meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then, Jill Dougherty, again, really which is in some ways the headliner of this entire two-day trip, this bilateral meeting, official bilateral meeting now with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Talk to me about the significance of that. It's been elevated to something more than just a pull-aside meeting in the hallway now to this official one-on- one.
DOUGHERTY: Well, presumably, there is something specifically that they want to talk about. Because they could have arranged this as kind of a brush by in a hallway and the two men, you know, chat and say hi. That would be very unpredictable. So, obviously, the president's advisers had the idea and probably President Trump, himself, had the idea that they wanted to sit down. There would be other people in the room. There will be interpreters. And it's not that long. It's supposed to be about a half an hour, unless Vladimir Putin is late, which is always a factor, because President Putin always is late. So, we have to see how much time they end up with.
But, you know, what do they want to talk about? Well, obviously, there are things, they want to have deliverables. And usually, behind the scenes, deliverables are worked out, something that you could sit down and work at, at least, you know, rhetorically that you could say we came to agreement on or we are going to work on. So, what would that be?
Syria would seem to be the easiest one in terms of -- you know, coalition, fighting, terrorism, et cetera. North Korea is going to be very difficult. I could presume that probably President Putin might want to talk about that and try to dissuade President Trump from taking military action or any increasing sanctions. That's not what President Putin wants to do and, interestingly, Putin met with the Chinese president in Moscow on Tuesday of this week, right before they joined forces saying, we don't want any more sanctions on North Korea. Let's do this diplomatically. So, there's an interesting wrinkle there.
And then, also, I think, you know both men want to kind of get the measure of the other. How they do it, you know, the body language, who is tough, who listens. Vladimir Putin has, of course, been doing this now for 17 years as the Russian president. So, he will -- he's used to sizing up other leaders. He's used to working with them and kind of let's say seducing, manipulating and getting them into a position that he can talk about what he wants to talk about.
The trick for Donald Trump, will be to talk about U.S. national interests, not just can we get along? Wouldn't it be nice to work together? But really, what does the U.S. want out of the relationship with Russia? How do these two countries, the biggest nuclear armed countries in the world deal with each other?
I mean, there are serious voices out there who are saying, one of the primary things they ought to be doing is preventing war between Russia and the United States. And that's not an exaggeration. One plane shot down in Syria could spark something. One plane shot down in the Baltic Sea, getting close to each other could start a conflict. So, this is very serious. And we don't know.
I think, ultimately, that is the strange thing about this meeting. With Donald Trump, we really don't know whether he will go off script, whether he will want to do something personal, strike a deal with Putin.
[10:15:00] But I think you have to be very careful. President Putin is very experienced and knows what he's doing and came in there and coming into that meeting with definitely a clear idea of what he wants. So, does President Trump now know, precisely, what he wants from that meeting?
BERMAN: It's a very good point. What does the U.S. want out of this meeting and the Russians have flat out said this morning, they don't know what the United States wants. The conflicting statements from President Trump this morning, sending signals that are confusing in some ways to Moscow. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it puts them off balance heading into that meeting. We'll have to wait and see.
But David Andelman, one thing is clear. This will be a test of leadership from President Trump over the next few days. He has got so much on his plate. What will you be looking for?
ANDELMAN: Well, you know it's interesting, because I go back to really the start of the G20 back in the late 1990s. And really, this is -- Trump comes into this meeting really with more strikes against him, more thumbs in other people's eyes, if you will, than any other president really in modern history. So, he has just a whole host of issues to navigate.
He needs to navigate trade, as we've talked briefly about. In fact, it's interestingly, the Chinese, just this morning, announced that they were buying 140 planes -- jet planes, $23 billion from Airbus, Boeing's principal competitor. So, that's a very key issue. And a lot of these leaders are trying to basically needle, stick Trump with something that is going to either needle him and get him riled up and so on, or they are going to try to find some way of basically seizing the moment.
And one of your other speakers this morning mentioned that really, China is looking to take a leadership role, suddenly in the G20. It's never been able to do that in the past. And Putin, right alongside them would like to insert his role as well as an important figure in the G20.
Then you have to look to Western Europe, you have Angela Merkel. We've forgotten about, by the way, Emmanuel Macron, the new French president, who has invited Donald Trump to sit with him on the day as where their National Day, July 14 Bastille Day next week. He'll be coming back here for that. And they have a host of priorities as well. Climate change and trade as well. So, all of these are critical issues and Trump is, sadly, on the wrong side so far of most of them.
BERMAN: On the wrong side according to -- some of those western European leaders, certainly some of the stances have been unpopular there, less unpopular perhaps in central and eastern Europe and certainly not unpopular at all with his own base, which he is certainly playing to during this overseas trip.
David Andelman, Colonel Cedric Leighton, Jill Dougherty, Michael Shear, thank you so much.
We have been seeing President Trump arrive in Hamburg, Germany on his way to a meeting now with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. How is this trip being received so far here in the United States? He has said controversial things. The president has already this morning. We'll discuss with two key members of Congress from both parties. Stay around.
[10:22:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Nobody really knows. President Trump, this morning, while in Poland saying nobody really knows whether Russia hacked into the U.S. election engaged in meddling during the campaign season. That is not what his own intelligence agencies say.
Joining me now to discuss, plus the other news that President Trump made during his morning so far in Europe, Democratic Congressman, Ted Lieu of California, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. First, your reaction to what we just heard. Nobody knows for sure.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Thank you, John, for your question. Let me first say my thoughts and prayers are with my colleague Steve Scalise who was re-admitted to the hospital in serious condition. Now to answer your question, anyone who has seen the classified information, as I have, knows that the president is not telling the truth when he says no one really knows if Russia engaged in the cyberattack against the U.S. last year. Russia did it. There's no rational person who has looked at evidence and concluded otherwise.
BERMAN: So, one of the people who looked at the evidence was then President Obama. And President Trump made a point of saying, quoting, in fact, really telling "Washington Post" article which had members of the president -- President Obama's own staff saying that they thought that they choked with this intelligence. Listen to what President Trump said this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He did nothing about it. They say he choked. Well, I don't think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and he said let's not do anything about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: A fair criticism, Congressman, that President Obama had seen the intelligence you are talking about right now and didn't do more?
LIEU: Yes, that is fair criticism. I wish President Trump didn't do this on foreign soil, but I do agree with President Trump that President Obama did not do enough to raise the issue of Russian meddling in our elections last year. The Obama administration absolutely should have done more at the time.
BERMAN: Hmm. OK. Let's move on to some of the other things that President Trump spoke today. In the clearest terms yet, he condemned what he called the destabilizing activities by Russia. That was a pretty clear statement, your response to that?
LIEU: I agree with President Trump. And I hope that at his meeting with Vladimir Putin, not only will he raise the issue of election meddling but also of Russia's behavior in other areas that are affecting U.S. national security.
[10:20:09] Russia should not be funding Iran's military. They should not be opposing U.S. interest in Syria and they should withdraw from the Ukraine.
BERMAN: You mention Ukraine, Iran, Syria those were things that president specifically discussed in Warsaw. So you guys seem to be on the same page on that front, Congressman, am I reading that right?
LIEU: Yes, absolutely. And I hope that President Trump raises these issues with Vladimir Putin. And he needs to go in with a list of demands. Russia should be making concessions to the U.S., not the other way around because Russia is the bad actor in many of these areas.
BERMAN: All right. The other major issue on the president's plate right now, in fact, you know, the entire world watching the Korean Peninsula. North Korea testing an ICBM successfully and the missile that could, potentially in theory reach Alaska. What is your assessment of the president's response so far? Just this morning, keeping the military option on the table?
LIEU: When I served on active duty in the Air Force, I was under Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Pacific Command. There are no good military options against North Korea. Any strike could lead to a massive war with over 150,000 Americans at risk and millions of South Koreans on the peninsula. So, I oppose the administration's saber rattling with military force against North Korea. They need to do the one thing they haven't done yet, which is engage in diplomacy. BERMAN: Negotiate with North Korea. You know, the administration says they won't do that unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons. North Korea says it won't do it unless the United States agrees to stop doing military exercises with South Korea. Would you be willing to give up these military exercises with the South Koreans to get North Korea at the table?
LIEU: I would be willing to have talks with North Korea. Before the administration contemplates going down the dark and bloody path of war with North Korea. They need to exhaust every available option in talking to North Koreans has to be one of those options first.
BERMAN: Yes or no, would you be willing to stop U.S. military exercises in South Korea as a condition for discussions?
LIEU: I would unlikely support that. But if we are going to go to war, then yes, I think we should have talks with no preconditions.
BERMAN: Congressman Ted Lieu of California, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.
LIEU: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. That's a Democratic voice on the president's trip overseas so far. Up next, we are going to get Republican perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It is a profound honor to stand in this city, by this monument.