Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Holds Press Conference, Delivers Speech at G-20 Summit; Trump: Other Countries Meddled in Election; Analysts Examine President Trump's Comments at G-20 Summit; Interview with Rep. Scott Taylor. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] AMB. NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- appearing as the critic of the west, of its major institutions, NATO in the EU, rather than a uniter. It played well with this crowd in Poland. It's not going to play well with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and all those leaders of the G-20 summit who want a more pluralistic and want a more unified vision, an optimistic vision of the west. He's given up that leadership role that most American presidents have played.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he was playing to that audience in specific, right, ambassador, but of course he was being heard by the world.

Let's bring in the rest of the panel. We have president and CEO of the Wilson Center, former congresswoman Jane Harman, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger, and senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, Michael O'Hanlon. Christiane Amanpour, what did you hear?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I take a slightly different view than Ambassador Burns. I think he did give a fulsome praise and confirmation of the great post-war liberal democratic order in Europe. But as Ambassador Burns said, he didn't actually -- and he did actually say he was going to defend it, but it was short on details.

But still, I think it's the most friendly Europe speech that the president has given ever since he became a candidate. So we will wait to see how it goes down in Europe. I think about Russia. He said the sort of pat things that people expect. We're going to tell him to stop interfering in Ukraine and other places. We're going to tell him to stop supporting hostile regimes, he said, like Syria and also Iran.

But he did praise Lech Walesa, and this is really important, because nearly a decade before the Berlin Wall came down, Lech Walesa, a shipyard electrician in Poland, started Solidarity and with John Paul II started the collapse of the Soviet empire. That is Lech Walesa contribution to history, and Lech Walesa could probably if he was to meet with President Trump, which would be a great thing, tell him a few things about how to deal with the Soviet mindset, because that is what Putin has, the Soviet mindset. And I think that would be really, really important. On Copernicus, let's bring up the great scientist Copernicus who both

Melania and Donald Trump praised, he was the one who hundreds of years ago confirmed that planets revolve around the sun, not the earth. Well, today Donald Trump is being criticized in Europe and around the world for basically denying climate science, pulling the United States out of the Paris accords. There is a huge building there in Warsaw which we hear in reports has a huge sign on it today saying Trump, no, Paris, yes, referring to the Paris climate accord.

And when he talked about regulation and deregulation and entrepreneurial spirits, you know, the whole idea of Donald Trump and trade is also very inimical to his allies in Europe. They're worried about his protectionism. They're really worried. And now there are open arms welcoming the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in Brussels who is there to sign one of the last bits of paperwork before a major free trade agreement is signed between Japan and the EU, going around the United States. And many countries are beginning to do that, including Canada.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And you have the German foreign minister, Christiane, just within the hour saying the United States is looking like it could spark a trade war, noting that that would be bad for America as well, yes?

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, this whole thing is very, very, very, very major to the world, because it's not just about the U.S. economy. It's about the global economy. And the whole post war era has been about liberalizing trade, opening up trade. And that has had effect. But of course you've got this struggle with the effects of globalization on a lot of the middle class. And, you know, he spoke about sort of the same kind of trade issues that the Polish party also believes, more protectionist, anti-globalization. And then I think very crucially of course he did not call out the Poles for their -- what the EU is very upset about, their crackdown on the free press, their crackdown on the independent judiciary, and their pushback against the very democracy in history that Donald Trump was praising there.

CUOMO: Yes, the president of the United States saying during his press conference earlier when he was attacking the United States press and the intel agencies, he said to the Polish president, fake news, you have that here too? Which is obviously an awkward reference to a regime where they have had their own problems dealing with the democratic and free press.

So, Jane Harman, the president was, though, back on message. He wasn't freelancing about his petty political gripes back here in the U.S. He seemed to be speaking to a global audience. He seemed to be being more positive and unifying. How did you hear it?

JANE HARMAN, (D) FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN, CALIFORNIA: Well, I heard it that way. I had a net positive response to the speech. He was introduced by his eastern European wife, Melania. He spoke in a place in Warsaw that has enormous significance, and he spelled that out.

[08:05:00] He could also have mentioned the Warsaw ghetto. He could also have mentioned the fact that the Poles, mostly Catholic, have erected a fabulous museum in Warsaw to their Jewish history, 1,000 years of Jewish history, and that Poland was the killing field for at least half the people who died in the holocaust, including my relatives.

But he didn't go there, but my point is he did salute Polish resilience and Polish resistance at a horrible time in our history. He also said at the end, God bless our allies. And that's significant. Mike Pence was at the Wilson Center about a week and a half ago, and he said America first does not mean America alone. I think Trump's task during this trip, which is going to be very hard, is to persuade our allies that America first does not mean America alone. And there have been some missteps I thought in the earlier press conference.

But this speech mostly was on the right -- was in the right tone, on the right path. And he said something I really strongly believe, that defense depends on will, confidence, strong values. Those are things, frankly, that need to be restored. And he could help this not just in America but around the world. He's my president too. I want him to succeed representing our country. And that's a crucial part of this. He's not just the president of the Republican Party or the Trump Organization. He's the president of the United States of America, and our history and our leadership are tested more than ever before.

HARLOW: David Sanger, in this speech he used words like the congresswoman just brought up, community of nations. He for the first time affirmed the U.S. commitment to Article Five, right, mutual defense. That was the speech. An hour plus before it was the press conference which was markedly different. So which is it?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's a great question, Poppy, because the way he sounded in this speech was much more along the lines of the way Secretary Tillerson, secretary of state, or secretary of Defense Mattis sound when they are moving around the world. So this is what happens when he is on text and on message. And I think not only was it the best speech he's given probably in an international context since he's been president, but it's a speech many of his aides wished he had given on his earlier trip to Europe when he didn't have that endorsement of Article Five.

That said, what was missing from this, and I think that Ambassador Burns may have hinted at this earlier on, was something of a hierarchy of both our values and our threats. So he described quite movingly what the Poles did to deter Nazi Germany. ISIS is many things, but it's not the Nazis. And it's not necessarily, at least right now and as long as they don't have access to weapons of mass destruction, an existential threat to the United States.

So what he didn't lay out here was, what does the United States need to worry about most, is it terrorism, is it North Korea, is it a resurgent Russia? He mixed all of these together. That said, he did offer a complete paragraph about what Russia has to stop doing. And if he continues on that path tomorrow when he meets president Putin, he may begin to dig himself out of a hole he's in.

CUOMO: That's fair criticism, Michael O'Hanlon, that there was more of an emphasis on what was done in the past than what must be done in the future in terms of securing these values that the European community should hold dear according to the U.S. president. And he did create a little bit of his own problem with Russia, because, as David Sanger just said, yes, he pointed out in this speech that again Russia has to cease its destabilizing activities, he used those words, and to stop its support of hostile regimes. He used those words.

But earlier in the press conference when he wasn't on message, he attacked his own U.S. intel agencies about Russia's meddling in the election. So he's kind of created advantage and disadvantage on his own heading into this meeting with Putin. How do you see it?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes, picking up on David's point, I think it's time that President Trump now look to develop some strategies on the very hard problems that still confront us. So we spent the first five or six months dealing with does he say Article Five or not, a lot of these invented mini-crises that I think sometimes are tempests in teapots, but nonetheless they are distractions. They are distractions from thinking about what is a future vision for a new European security order, what is a new strategy for North Korea that might work. How are we going to end the Syrian civil war, not just defeat ISIS in Raqqah. And so far this administration hasn't really gotten around to these forward looking strategies.

[08:10:00] I think it's starting to get its sea legs on some of the big issues, largely thanks to people like Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and Nikki Haley, but it's time to start thinking bigger about problems that still confront us for which we have no viable strategies, for which President Obama didn't really have viable strategies. And again, I'm thinking primarily of Russia, Syria and North Korea. And on those I think it's time the Trump administration start to get away from these invented, artificial crises of its own making and start looking forward to figure out some big new ideas for the future.

HARLOW: So Christiane, if you are sitting in the Kremlin and you are watching all of this, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin just put out a statement saying that the Kremlin still, quote, "still has no understanding of what Washington wants from Moscow in the meeting tomorrow between President Trump and President Putin."

If you're watching this morning and you watch the press conference where the president seemed to all but somewhat defend Russia saying, yes, could have been Russia hacking the election, but also other players, do you believe that is the president who will come into the meeting tomorrow? Or do you believe that it is the president we just heard in this speech who called on Russia to stop destabilizing activities, specifically pointing to Ukraine?

AMANPOUR: Well, firstly, Dmitry Peskov is as astute and clever and tactical as his boss, President Putin. So that kind of statement is a very all-encompassing, covering statement from the Russians. They want this meeting as badly as President Trump does. So let's put paid to any sort of footsy that Peskov may be playing around this. They want it, they need it. They think they can get what they want out of it because, as I say, President Putin is incredibly astute, very tactical, very sharp, has been playing this game for decades, has been in charge of Russia for the last 17 years and before that in charge of intelligence all over eastern Europe as well. So he knows what he wants tactically.

He's going to be feeling out President Trump. Is President Trump going to be strong on defending his own intelligence agencies about the meddling? And we know that Russia's been meddling, and it's not Russia and other countries. Russia tried it in France, Russia tried it in Germany. And those countries put a big marker down and said stop it, they called Russia out publicly. And he has not had success in France where he was backing Macron's opponent Le Pen. And he has not had success destabilizing Angela Merkel. So it is possible to call them out and to stop it.

On Ukraine, they have to remain strong and say, hopefully, President Trump will say, look, we want a better relationship with you, but you have to do these kinds of things. In other words stop meddling in eastern Ukraine. We want to have better economic relations, we want to boost the market economy and trade and all the rest. But you have to do x, y and z that we've all prescribed and that is acceptable under international law. Get out of eastern Ukraine, stop destabilizing eastern Ukraine. In Syria stop confronting us. Let's fight together is. You haven't really been fighting is, Mr. Putin. You've been supporting President Assad, who has used weapons of mass destruction on his people. There are things President Trump can say to make it absolutely clear that he's defending American and western and United Nations values.

CUOMO: Here's one of the challenges, ambassador, is that unlike this speech, unlike the press conference, we really won't have any way of knowing what happens for sure in these meetings, right? Specifically with Putin or whether it's with Xi or with Merkel. You're going to be somewhat dependent on what each side decides to spin out of the meeting. How do you process that?

BURNS: Well, that's true. So I think therefore the signaling today is very important. And what you saw, if you're sitting in the Kremlin, you saw two Donald Trumps. You saw the unscripted Donald Trump at the press conference where he gave Putin a major gift in not agreeing with the U.S. intelligence community that Russia hacked our election. Then you saw the formal speech written by the NSC staff, the White House staff, Steve Bannon, that's a different Donald Trump. But I do think the Russians will take some solace in the unscripted remarks of this morning.

I also think, Chris, we have to hold our president to a very high standard, particularly when he is overseas. And to spend part of that speech -- it played to the crowd in Poland. And this is a rightwing, anti-democratic government in Poland that shipped those people in, but it didn't play well to all of Europe in the attacks on immigration and the thinly veiled attacks on the European Union, that Bannon language that we should really worry about government. Government is the problem. It wasn't Ronald Reagan, it wasn't positive, it wasn't uplifting. I just think it was a missed opportunity because he has to speak to Merkel and Macron and the German and French people as well as people in Eastern Europe. HARLOW: So, Jane Harman, as he departs for the G-20 and all these

critical meetings with Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Merkel, President Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, what will President Trump be remembered for in Poland?

[08:15:07] What is the one thing that will stick out to people?

HARMAN: I actually think that, you know -- again, I hear Nick and I really respect Nick's views, but I think he will be remembered, one, for coming, and two, for saluting a large swath, an important part of Polish history.

I get it about the right wing government now, but Poland has survived a brutal part of our 20th Century and built a modern economy, and that's a huge deal. And it is a buffer against Russia. And so those things are just visible, and I think that resonates in Europe.

I do think, however, that it's not just the conversations he has with G-20 leaders but what happens after the conversations. If he has a conversation with Putin, which -- and I hope he'll go dark at this point. No more press conferences about what he's going to say. He's so easily goaded into saying the wrong thing in press conferences.

But if Putin does, let's just imagine this -- I don't think it's likely, but it could happen -- withdraws from eastern Ukraine, that would be a huge signal that Trump has figured something out here. And it would be a huge salute to the views of everybody else in Europe.

The audience here matters. This is a European audience. It's an audience that has a huge diaspora in the United States, and Trump has to pick the issues that resonate with them if he's going to make the sale. And he loves to make the sale. And if he really means it, God bless our allies.

So I'll be listening for what happens, not just for what might be said in closed rooms, which often leaks anyway.

CUOMO: Each step is a new opportunity for the President here to gain advantage or disadvantage.

Jane, Nick, Christiane, Michael, and the other panelists who joined us on and off, thank you very much.

And we saw proof of the different fortunes each step can take for the President.

HARLOW: I would --

CUOMO: The speech was good. The press conference, not so much.

HARLOW: I would say, to the Congresswoman, that we hope he has more press conferences because those are the answers that are not scripted, not in teleprompter --

CUOMO: It's true.

HARLOW: --not written by his advisers.

CUOMO: It's true. Although uniquely, when you go abroad, both matter, prepared comments --

HARLOW: Of course.

CUOMO: -- will matter because they set an agenda and they're building blocks towards policy along the way.

However, as Poppy's mentioning, in the press conference, he took shots at people he did not need to to serve his purpose abroad. Standing next to a Polish President who is criticized for his treatment of the press, he attacked his own press. He attacked his own intelligence community, specifically on the issue of Russian meddling, right before he meets with Vladimir Putin. How will that help and hurt, next.


[08:21:27] CUOMO: All right. In just moments, the President is going to leave Poland for Germany's G20 Summit. There, he's going to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow.

Moments ago, he gave a big speech addressing a crowd in Warsaw, talking about the Polish experience. And he did have some tough talk for Russia in there. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


CUOMO: Language, criticism, that we are not used to hearing from the President of the United States when it comes to Russia. Let's discuss the speech and its impact with Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia.

Always good to have you, Congressman.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Chris. Great to be with you.

CUOMO: So what was your plus/minus on the speech?

TAYLOR: I thought it was pretty good. I mean, I thought he did a great job, obviously, with the audience there. Know your audience. And I think he articulated very well the history and the relationship with Poland. As he said, you know, we have soldiers who fought very hard from Poland in Iraq and in Afghanistan and are still there.

And he did the speech in Poland. So he didn't do it in Western Europe, he did it right on the buffer of Russia, if you will, and he had some tough talk for Russia. So I thought he did a great job.

CUOMO: He spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of the Polish people and their struggle against depression. He was there in Krasinski Square, and he talked about the battles for the Warsaw people. What do you think his larger message was that he was trying to get across?

TAYLOR: I think solidarity with Europe. You know, I think there was some legitimate criticism for the President prior in terms of Europe and where he was with Europe, but I think that they showed that we will stand with them. Again, given that speech in Poland, which is, of course, a buffer with the Soviet Union, and talking some tough talk, quite frankly, with Russia.

I think that was good. That was good for us. It was good for Europe to hear. It was good for Russia to hear as well, too.

CUOMO: Now, the President, with one hand, tough on Russia. With the other one, he gave the Russians a big gift in the press conference before.

He attacked the findings of the intelligence committee. He questioned them once again, this time on the world stage, saying could have been Russia, could have been other people, nobody knows for sure. Why doubt the U.S. intel on the world stage on the eve of talking face-to- face with Putin?

TAYLOR: Well, I think your criticism is legitimate. Like, I don't -- you know, on the world stage, perhaps it could have been a better place to say that. But I will say, and this isn't in defense of the intelligence community or the President, which I have many friends in the intelligence community, but, you know, you've had this -- intel has been used sort of as a political weapon.

And you have a President who is, you know, apprehensive about some of the findings, especially with the political actors in the intelligence community, not necessarily the career folks that are on the ground that are fighting that every single day. And then, on the other side, you've had some missteps with folks who are in political positions in the intelligence community as well too.

And what both of those things do is lend themselves to bad things for our country. I think, and I said these months ago, that both the President and the higher ups in the intelligence community need to get on the same page for the protection of the American people.

[08:25:00] As you said, yes, you know, there was some sort of, you know, a dichotomy in what he said, and he will take that into the meeting with Vladimir Putin, for sure. There is an unpredictability there, for good or for bad.

You know, you guys have spoken -- you've had some guests on your program this morning who rightfully said, you know, that President Putin is very cunning. He is very calculating. But it's hard to calculate someone like President Donald Trump, so that may be a good thing in the meeting. CUOMO: All right. But just to stay focused on what would matter on

this issue, of course, we have --

TAYLOR: And we have to stay focused on, of course, you know, we want him to be successful in that meeting. Of course.

CUOMO: I would hope so. I mean, if you're an American, you should certainly want that. And you could argue, even if you're not an American, you know, the more stability we have in the world, the better.

TAYLOR: No question.

CUOMO: But just to be clear about your point, you've talked in the past about maybe getting played by the President with some of his tactics, that the media is susceptible to that. I'm wondering if you're falling prey to your own self-described malady.

Whatever political problems he has with the intelligence community, do you have any reason to question the intelligence community's conclusions about Russian interference in the election?

TAYLOR: No, I don't have any reason to. And I think, you know, a couple things there. You know, the President said -- he admitted that it could have been from Russia, it could have been from other countries.

It is from other countries, too! We know that for a fact. You know, obviously, there are some briefings that you may not get that I get. There are some other countries that are certainly meddling as well, too, in many things in our country.

But let me say, on a larger point here and for an American point for the future, you know, right now, the United States doesn't have a policy. What's the policy if a country meddles in our election?

CUOMO: Right.

TAYLOR: Moving forward, and I think it was Ambassador Burns that spoke about this, and my office, actually, we put forth a resolution to call on this. You know, when President Monroe, historically, had the Monroe Doctrine, it said that, you know, European leaders would not have troops in the Western Hemisphere.

But we sort of need a Cyber Monroe Doctrine, if you will, that says you will not meddle in our elections. You will not hack, and there will be proportional responses.

CUOMO: But unlike Monroe --

TAYLOR: And then America should lead on that and that should go to NATO as well, too.

CUOMO: But unlike Monroe --

TAYLOR: So, obviously, you're seeing there are other countries that are having --

CUOMO: But unlike Monroe --

TAYLOR: Go ahead.

CUOMO: -- as you well know, Congressman, we do not have a President who is invested in that type of policy. He wants to stay away from Russian meddling.

TAYLOR: Let's be fair, Chris. That's a --

CUOMO: He sees it as a political stick being used against him, so he avoids it. He just started an Election Integrity Commission that does not have, as part of its purview, looking at the hacking. That tells you everything you need to know.

TAYLOR: Well, hold on, that's not the topic, but what I'll say is this. There are two points.

Yes, I think you're right. He does tend to see it as a political stick because it has been used as a political stick. But that does not negate him or our leaders from having a responsible policy, a doctrine that says people will not hack our elections, not just Russia but other ones, North Korea, Iran, China, whoever they may be out there that are meddling in our elections. And America should lead on that.

And then, in turn, NATO should have the same type of policy as well too because, as you guys have talked about on this program today, other countries have been meddling in their elections as well too.

CUOMO: True. True. Look what just happened in France.

TAYLOR: So I agree with you.

CUOMO: It all adds to the urgency of why people implore the President of the United States to take the issue more seriously than he does, by all indications.

TAYLOR: But this meddling into our elections has now spanned two presidencies, right? President Obama and President Trump. But the reality is, as Americans, our country, regardless of who the president is, we need a doctrine.

That said -- because this is not going to get better. You know, they were trying, they're going to come back, and we need to make sure that --

CUOMO: That's what the intelligence community says.

TAYLOR: -- we have integrity in our elections.

CUOMO: They worry that it's going to get worse and worse.

TAYLOR: True. CUOMO: They see the focus of that threat being Russia. And again, to

use, you know, your own cautionary language, we can't get played here by the politics.

The Russian interference mattered. It was real. Our intelligence community is resolute about it. It's not a maybe. And we need to figure out how to stop it before the next election gets it even worse.

TAYLOR: Well, I will tell you, you know, fortunately for the United States, because we have sort of this decentralized state-driven voter stuff, of course, they weren't able to really penetrate. But they tried. And they will come back, and they will get more sophisticated. So there's no question that we need a doctrine to prevent that and keep the integrity of our elections moving forward. No question.

CUOMO: Congressman, always a pleasure to have you on "NEW DAY" making the case for what matters to the American people. See you again soon.

TAYLOR: Absolutely. Good to see you. Have a great day.

CUOMO: Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Some states pushing back on requests from the President's voter integrity panel. We're going to speak with a member of the Election Integrity Commission about that. What the White House is saying, that's ahead.