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Trump and Polish President Hold Press Event: President Trump's Second Foreign Trip. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And to your point, perhaps the most shocking takeaway is more pointed remarks toward a cable news network, this one, more pointed remarks toward Barack Obama, a president of the United States, than he had for the North Korean regime, Kim Jong-un regime, who is testing nuclear weapons, who is perfecting an ICBM, who is a threat to the entire world.

[05:00:12] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: On that front, he said, I don't know, we'll see what happens. I don't draw red lines. We'll see what happens over the coming weeks and months.

As you know, he has lambasted strategic patience from the United States, the position of previous administrations saying it didn't work. He's lambasted that, now saying he will see what happens over the coming weeks and months which sounds a lot like strategic patience.

BRIGGS: This is rather remarkable.

For those of you just joining us, this is EARLY START. It is 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time. We are just coming out of live remarks from President Trump and President Duda of Poland, live in Warsaw.

So, let's bring in CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.

Good morning to you, sir.


ZELIZER: Your reaction to some astounding remarks from the president of the United States?

ZELIZER: Well, it was pretty remarkable. Obviously, there are many elements of this that will become news stories, the way he discussed the Russian intervention into the election focusing more on President Obama. Again, not willing to totally confront what took on -- what happened during the election. It will be very upsetting to many.

And in some ways, this was the opportunity for him to finally respond to a lot of the criticism that's emerged, and obviously standing there with a government leader that has undertaken many crackdowns against the media, and to speak about the media that way is also very unsettling. So, this was one of those moments when there was an opportunity for the president to really forcefully respond to his critics but he didn't take it and he continued with what's more standard rhetoric of the administration.

ROMANS: Stick with us. I want to go to the room where our Jeff Zeleny was listening to the exchange, the press conference, the first in a month.

Jeff, talk to us a little bit about the headlines here from the Q&A in particular. You know -- an attack on the media, an attack on the prior administration, much less energy and enthusiasm about either North Korea or the Russians.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question, Christine. Still very strong words from this president on the idea of meddling in the 2016 election. But strong words were for President Obama, not for the Russian president. They were not for Vladimir Putin.

The president said that, you know, I think it was Russia but it also could have been other countries. So, again, he's repeating the line that he's talked about for a long time. That he simply does not agree with the U.S. intelligence agency that's have said without question there was Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The difference here, I think, is this -- this is on the eve of the president's first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is happening tomorrow in Germany here. So, the follow-up would have been does the president plan to raise Russian meddling with President Putin. I think the answer is probably not the case, because he is not saying that he agrees with that.

And he took particular aim at the intelligence agencies. He said that only three or four intelligence agencies, U.S. intelligence agencies actually agreed with that. That simply is not true. We have seen in congressional hearings one after another where all the leaders of the U.S. intelligence agencies have said down the line that they do believe that it is well-documented that Russia meddled, interfered in the 2016 election.

But again, the president pivoted abruptly and said that Barack Obama knew about this. He said he simply did not say anything to try and protect the Democrats, of course, to hold on to the White House. So, I think that is the big headline out of this.

But also strong words from president of North Korea, as well. He said there would be very, very strong consequences for bad behavior here. No specifics of what that would be, of course. But on the eve of this first meeting with the Russian president, Christine, certainly, it is striking to hear the president not agreeing with his own U.S. intelligence agencies, Republicans and Democrats alike in the U.S. Congress -- Christine.

BRIGGS: Yes, and Jeff, Dave here. For those keeping score at home, there was no mention of Kim Jong-un. No mention of Vladimir Putin. There was mention of CNN and Barack Obama. So, interesting optics there to say the least.

But let's talk about the setup for that meeting with the Russian president. He seemed to be antagonizing him somewhat with this sale of Patriot missiles, with the purchase of natural gas to wean the Polish off of Russian oil, but then not acknowledging that Russia was behind meddling in our election. What do you make of that?

ZELENY: It certainly is interesting, and there's no question at all, the president did mention in his opening statement the worry about the aggression in this region from Russia. So, that is certainly one of the topics that these two leaders talked about in their private meeting.

But again, so striking to not hear something that is essentially agreed upon, it is essentially stipulated to the fact that Russia interfered in the election, in the 2016 election. But this president has been unwilling to agree to that.

And some of his advisers, some of his supporters say one of the reasons is he does not want to make his own victory, you know, sort of weaker or watered down in any of this. But there are so many Republicans I can tell you who are now conducting these investigations on Capitol Hill, other places, who simply wish he would, who simply wish he would agree to that. But again, on the eve of that meeting with the Russian president, so important here.

But now, we are going to be leaving momentarily and going to a public square here in Warsaw. And President Trump is going to be giving his speech to the biggest crowd he's ever talked to, certainly outside the U.S. So, watch for his language there on Russia, as well, because that is something to keep an eye on here. The headline, he did not agree, like the U.S. intelligence agencies have, that Russia interfered in the election.

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny in the room for that press conference. Thank you so much. I know you have to move on to the next location where you're covering the president's trip.

Also with us, we still have Julian Zelizer, CNN political contributor and historian. We have Sara Murray, who is also in Warsaw, and Nic Robertson, as well, to help us analyze this a little bit.

Sara Murray, the takeaway there? You listened to the president's remarks. This is the first stop on his trip, an attack against the media, again, an attack against the prior administration.

You know, it started when -- when the remarks started, it sounded like he was going to be talking about -- he acknowledged Russia's actions in destabilizing behavior. So, in prepared remarks, he acknowledged that. In the Q&A, he was less robust in his criticism.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Remember, President Trump is going to be in a day of meetings today with Eastern European officials. So, they're bringing sort of a different context of Russia than the president is getting when he hears from Western European leaders, or when he hears from concerns from the United States. He's hearing concerns from Eastern European leaders about Russian threats to the Balkans, about Russian threats to Ukraine. And that seemed to be what he was talking about when he was referring

to destabilizing behavior. But this is just another reminder that President Trump is certainly not the kind of president we are used to seeing. We are used to seeing American presidents travel on the world stage to tout American values, to try to sort of send that image abroad.

What President Trump did was question the assessment of his own U.S. intelligence community. He tried to undermine the free press at a time when Poland is also cracking down on it and cracking down on the free press. And he suggested that maybe other countries were also behind this meddling in the 2016 election.

Remember, whether President Trump is likely to admit or embrace it or not, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies did agree with high confidence that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. And there is no conclusion from intelligence officials so far that there was any other country who is responsible for this or behind this. So, I think what that moment sheds light on is the fact that this is still a president who sort of looks at foreign espionage broadly in this same light as he looks at Russia's election meddling. And that is something that has even members of his own party very concerned, even members of his own administration very concerned back in the United States.

BRIGGS: Yes. Sure seemed like more pointed remarks toward this network and toward his predecessor than there were towards Vladimir Putin or towards the Kim Jong-un regime who recently launched and is perfecting an ICBM.

Nic Robertson, let's get to you on this.

It seems the president is speaking to a United States audience. His advisers might remind him he is speaking to the globe. How are those types of remarks likely to be met by world leaders as he heads to the G20?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think President Trump has said so much to his domestic audience that the world leaders have pretty much formed their own conclusion about what sort of leader he is and which directions he's going in. Certainly that's the view of the Europeans. They need to be more united. They need to take the sort of -- the moral compass of the world on climate change, on free trade, on prosperity, a win-win situation, globalization helps not only CEOs but also helps the worker on the factory floor.

[05:10:11] So, there's a real sense that there's a difference of opinion. And I don't think anything that president Trump said today is going to change that. That view is pretty clear.

But what this does leave us open to here clearly is that meeting with Putin. We've talked earlier today about how Putin likes to sort of exploit and destabilize his opponents in any discussion, taking a Labrador dog into a meeting with Angela Merkel because he knew that she didn't like dogs. What is he going to take out of that to exploit, further fuel President Trump's clear dilemma in his own mind about who was responsible and about which intelligence agency has that assessment? What is it President Trump will say to him that will exacerbate and perhaps, you know, give the president more things to think about that can undermine the central beliefs of 17 of the U.S.'s intelligence agencies about his, Putin's role, in the U.S. elections?

So, there's some of that I think that's going to be picked up by Putin. But the Patriot missiles, that was announced in Poland. Poland gets U.S. patriot missile. Obviously, Putin is going to be on the offensive and angry about that when he meets with President Trump. That's before they discuss the substantive issues of Syria and, Ukraine. So, the scene is set here pretty much as it was set before coming out of the back of President Trump's press conference there.

The world leaders here are no stranger to the -- to what President Trump has to say about CNN or any other news organizations. Certainly, that's something they commented to us in the media about when they see us.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely. I want to listen to a little bit, guys, I want all of you to listen to this. Nic, I want your thoughts on the other end because we got sort of a glimpse in what the president is thinking about the North Korean threat. A threat that is pretty dangerous, at a new stage here with its ICBM missile launch this week.

Listen to what he said about how he doesn't draw red lines.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as North Korea's concerned, I don't know. We'll see what happens. I don't like to talk about what I have planned. I have pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them.

I don't draw red lines. President Obama drew a red line, and I was the one that made it look a little bit better than it was. But that could have been done a lot sooner. And you wouldn't have had the same situation that you have now in Syria. That was a big mistake.


ROMANS: So, the president sort of pivoting from North Korea to Syria and blaming President Barack Obama. But, Nic, what did we glean from the American position on North Korea or the American negotiating position on North Korea from what the president said there?

ROBERTSON: Well, we know he wants to get support to the resolution at the U.N. Security Council, that is for further sanctions on North Korea. We know that China and Russia are opposed. And to that point, President Putin had an article published in the newspaper that says he doesn't believe that sanctions work.

Of course, he is under tough sanctions from the United States, from the European Union, from others, for annexing Crimea and putting his troops inside Ukraine. So, there's that part of President Putin's message. So, when it comes to Xi Jinping and China and North Korea, President

Trump's relationship with the Chinese leader is already on the slide, selling $1.4 billion worth of weapons system to Taiwan, that's angered Chinese or other things.

How is he going to win the Chinese leader over on getting his commitment on stronger North Korean sanctions? That's probably a bridge too far. I think most experts would probably -- would probably make that assessment. The best he perhaps can hope for is to avoid a Chinese and Russian veto at the U.N. Security Council.

But, you know, I just think that the president's -- what the president needs to try to achieve here is a very, very big lift. He is absolutely sailing into the wind on this one. He didn't lay the groundwork for it with anything that he just said in that press conference, possibly made it harder.

BRIGGS: Certainly, Russia was listening to all these words, Julian Zelizer, including the purchasing of Patriot missiles, the purchasing of natural gas to wean them off of Russian oil. The fact that the president won't acknowledge that Russia was solely behind the interference in our election, and this, the pointed remarks Christine talked about in the prepared part of the statement toward Russia about their destabilizing behavior.



TRUMP: We're working with Poland with actions against Russia's actions and destabilizing behavior. And we're grateful for the example Poland has set for every member of the NATO alliance by being one of the few nations that actually meets its financial obligations.


[05:15:11] BRIGGS: Julian, how does all of this undermine, change the dynamic of that meeting with Putin tomorrow?

ZELIZER: Well, obviously, in some ways, the president took a tougher stand with Russia than we've seen before, including the sale of the Patriots simply being here for start of his trip. On the other hand, the conference veered toward the more traditional rhetoric where he backed away from some of the equally important criticism that's necessary of what the Russians did. It reminds me back in 1987 when Reagan, in the middle of negotiations with the Soviets, went to Germany and said, tear down this wall, as a tough message to the Soviets, even while negotiating that the U.S. would preserve and maintain American values and institutions.

And I think that's what the president really needs to stick to, both in his upcoming speech and over the course of the next few days if he is going to compel Russia and the Chinese to help in both the war against terrorism and this battle against North Korea.

ROMANS: Sara, Julian, thank you. Sara, it's interesting what Julian says about -- we played the sound

bite, which was seemed to be a stronger stance, acknowledging destabilizing behavior from the Russians, at least from the European -- Eastern European point of view. And then -- then he had this to say about Russian meddling in the Q&A. Listen --


REPORTER: Will you once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?

TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. I've said it very -- I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won't be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.


ROMANS: And then, Sara, he went on to blame the president of the United States for knowing about it and not doing anything about it, which is sort of familiar -- a familiar territory for him to turn around and -- and hit Barack Obama, the former president of the United States. It seemed almost as if it were a domestic audience that he was speaking to -- his supporters, not necessarily a speech on the world stage.

MURRAY: Well, right. I think this gets to two separate things. I mean, the first is that, you know, we've been reporting that President Trump just will not sort of buy into the fact that Russia was behind this. That what Russia did in the U.S. election is different than what other countries do when it comes to foreign espionage. And that there are even officials in his own administration who are concerned and frustrated that they cannot get the president to pay attention, to understand the fact that what Russia did was serious.

So that's one part of it. The president sort of seized these questions as -- as efforts to undermine his legitimacy as president, as efforts to undermine his victory, which I think is why you see him taking shots at former President Barack Obama.

But the second part is talk about sending mixed signals to American allies. On the one hand, they're talking about destabilizing behavior and talking about, you know, doing gas deals with Poland. These are all, of course, shots at Russia, tougher talk with Russia. But on the other hand, we have allies like Germany and like France who have also seen Russia attempts to meddle in the election. The president is essentially saying that he doesn't necessarily buy that Russia was the one responsible for this or that it is that serious of an offense.

And that is the kind of thing that could put other allies on edge when they say, OK, I guess we're not going to have a united front when it comes to confronting Russia about trying to destabilize these democracies. BRIGGS: All right. Sarah Murray, Nic Robertson, Julian Zelizer,

thank you all. We'll continue to break down some astounding remarks from the president of the United States, alongside the Polish president, ahead on EARLY START.


[05:20:15] ROMANS: We're back to Warsaw. Listening to the president of the United States speaking at a meeting there after his press conference with the Polish president.

TRUMP: Our stock market hit an all-time high. We have, I think, in 16 years, it's the lowest unemployment rate. Our military is getting stronger and stronger. We're rebuilding it, adding billions and billions of dollars of new equipment, the best equipment in the world. We make the best equipment in the world by far. We're heading many billions of dollars of brand-new equipment.

And the United States is doing very well, very strong. We've taken off restrictions, and people are really moving hard. So when I say that the stock market is at an all-time high, we've picked up in market value almost $4 trillion since November 8th, which was the election, $4 trillion. A lot of money.

Personally, picked up nothing, but that's all right. Everyone else is getting rich. That's OK. I'm very happy.

Greater access to energy markets, fewer barriers to energy trade and development, and strengthening energy security is what we're looking to do. The Three Seas Initiative has the potential to accomplish all of these essential objectives, and very quickly because you have incredible people, and they will get it done quickly.

I congratulate your nations for already beginning the critical projects that open us up to greater access. And you'll be totally open and have access to energy markets and remove barriers to energy trade such as floating LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk. Did you ever heard of that? You know all about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't spell it.

TRUMP: I bet you know it.

And the Greece/Bulgaria interconnector. These projects and many others are crucial to ensuring that your nations continue to diversify your energy sources, suppliers and routes.

I also applaud Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria for pursuing a pipeline from the Black Sea. We just approved a pipeline also, the Keystone pipeline. It was under consideration for many, many years, and it was dead, and I approved it in my first day of office. It's now under construction. Another pipeline besides that, big ones, Dakota Access.

The United States is proud to see that our abundant energy resources are already helping the Three Seas nations achieve much-needed energy diversification. In fact, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the government and people of Poland for receiving their first shipment of U.S. liquefied natural gas last month. You made a very good deal, I understand.

Let me be clear about one crucial point -- the United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we can not allow others to do so. You don't want to have a monopoly or monopolistic situation. The United States is firmly committed to open, fair and competitive markets for global energy trade.

America will be a faithful and dependable partner in the export and sale of our high-quality and low-cost energy resources and technology. We make the best technology, and we make the best, best technology for fighter jets and ships and equipment, military weapons. There's nobody even close. And that's acknowledged.

All over the world, they talk about the greatness of our military equipment. Nobody comes close. So, when you buy and as you buy military equipment, hopefully you'll be thinking only of the United States.

With the expanded trade and new infrastructure, we will unleash incredible energy innovation that is safe, responsible, and environmentally friendly. The United States supports a common sense approach to protecting natural resources, one that responsibly balances economic growth, job creation, and energy security. We invite all countries to work with us to achieve this objective and to develop innovative technologies that empower nations around the world to be faithful stewards of their natural resources while lifting millions out of poverty and into great and beautiful futures. The Three Seas initiative will not only empower your people to prosper but will ensure that your nations remain sovereign, secure, and free from foreign corporation.

The Three Seas nations will stand stronger than they ever have stood before.

[05:25:03] When your nations are strong, all the free nations of Europe are stronger. The West becomes stronger, as well. Together, our nation and yours can bring greater peace, prosperity, and safety to all of our people.

This summit ushers in the next great energy frontier. This is largely about energy because we are that great exporter. We've just become -- it's what's going on in our country is incredible. I hope you take advantage of it by using these resources.

I'm thrilled to join you today, and I want everyone to know that the United States supports your bold efforts. These projects will improve countless lives across the region and throughout the world. America will be your strongest ally and steadfast partner in this truly historic initiative.

So, congratulations to everybody, and we stand ready, willing, and able to help with your energy needs and other needs as they come along. Thank you very much. ANDREZJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Excellency, Mr.


(through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished presidents, thank you very much, Mr. President Trump, for showing us this perspective of cooperation. Thank you for that because I'm pleased that you understand, Mr. President, the importance of this region in which the Three Seas Initiative was born and exists.

And this is one-third of the European Union countries (ph). It encompasses the 12 countries of Central Europe and 112 million citizens living altogether in our countries. Ladies and gentlemen, the GDP amounts to more than $1.5 trillion. And if we measure this cumulative GDP --

ROMANS: Listening to the Polish president speaking at the Three Seas project, a joint coalition project launched last year. The point is to strengthen trade, infrastructure, energy, and local cooperation in these countries bordering the Adriatic. That's what they're there to talk about.

The president of the United States talking about success in the American stock market, about low unemployment rate, touting some of the hopes to embolden the U.S. military and the like -- basically giving a progress report on the American economy and military.

BRIGGS: And next, he will speak in front of what's believed to be the largest audience he has addressed since taking over as commander-in- chief. He will speak in a speech -- let's get to Sara Murray -- about the remarks we expect to hear, warning of a common enemy.

Sara Murray is back with us.

The steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and the wealth of the people.

Sara, what else do we expect to hear when the president addresses that large audience?

MURRAY: Well, they are anticipating this will be a warm welcome there. In fact, you know, offering free bussing from people in other parts of Poland who want to come to Warsaw and see this speech in order to give President Trump these kind of crowds that he thrives on. But this is going to be an opportunity for him to reaffirm the important alliance with Poland. The Polish president is more conservative, more aligned with President Trump's world view than perhaps he was with President Obama.

So, we're also going to hear President Trump I think talk about immigration, a little about protecting our borders. That will certainly be a welcome comment in the eyes of the Polish president. But it's hard to imagine him saying anything in this sort of warm and fuzzy speech that is going to overshadow the comments that he made in this joint press conference.

I mean, he had so much to say in terms of the threat from North Korea, in terms of calling Russia destabilizing. So, on one hand, calling them out for their behavior, and then in almost the next beat questioning whether Russia alone was behind the meddling into the U.S. election and sort of questioning how serious of an offense that is and whether that's just the same thing that all countries do.

Now, intel experts would disagree that Russia's meddling in the U.S. election is the same as sort of your run-of-the-mill, day-by-day foreign espionage. But it certainly was a remarkable set of comments from President Trump this morning.

ROMANS: Julian Zelizer with us. He's a presidential historian, as well.

Julian, there are mannerisms that the president has that are unusual in a commander-in-chief, in the leader of the free world. He likes to refer to himself. He made a reference to how much money he made NBC and grumbled a bit --

BRIGGS: About not making money on the stock market.

ROMANS: Yes. Not making money in the stock market and the like.

He -- his first answer, he was asked about North Korea and asked about the whole wrestling video thing with CNN.