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Trump and Mexico President Meeting; Trump meets with Mexico's President; High-Stakes Bilateral Meeting. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired July 7, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICO (through translator): Thank you very much. I want to thank you for opening this (INAUDIBLE) that I've had with President Donald Trump. And I'm sure this is going to help us continue a great flowing dialogue, sir, that will allow us, of course, for the negotiations of NAFTA. (INAUDIBLE) working (INAUDIBLE) for population (ph), especially for the security, and for the security of both nations. Especially in our borders. And, of course, we're also working on migration issues, which is a task that both of nations are occupied and our administrations are occupied with this issue as well. And, of course, something that both of our administrations (ph) have taken upon ourselves to really admit that it's a co-responsible matter to (INAUDIBLE).
Thank you so much for this great opportunity. Thank you.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, do you want Mexico to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you all.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so much has been made of the fact that President Trump was about to meet for the first time as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. That, obviously, a very big deal and happening within minutes. But that what you saw right there was President Trump's first meeting as president with the Mexican leader, Enrique Pena Nieto. And they had a meeting earlier this year canceled. They were supposed to meet very early on in President Trump's administration, but the Mexicans really pulled out. Why? Because President Trump came into office not just saying he was going to build a wall on the border but continuing to say that Mexico would pay for it. And that was difficult politically for the Mexican leader to face. That meeting was canceled.
Since then, well, President Trump still says that Mexico is - that he's going to build a wall, he hasn't really said nearly as much, if at all, that Mexico will still pay for it. But right there you heard it, he was asked, will Mexico pay for the wall? President Trump said, absolutely. Not sure whether that was a deliberate message he wanted to send or something that comes up somewhat casually in these types of meetings, but that's why the stakes are so high here.
Again, just one of the many meetings that President Trump will have over the course of the day.
I hope I still have Heather Conley with me, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state.
And again, you know, Heather, President Trump meeting with many, many world leaders over the next 24 hours with different agendas with each and every one and really delicate issues with each and every one.
HEATHER CONLEY, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a really full schedule. Nine bilateral meetings with President Xi of China, you had the meeting yesterday with the South Korean and the Japanese on the North Korea issue. You have to prepare extensively. You have to know exactly what you want out of these meetings. They're short. You have to be able to express your views, get that feedback and keep that process moving.
The challenge here is the administration is not filled out in its senior positions. We have not developed those policies. So it's high stakes without the preparation and the policy objectives to get that hard work done.
So this is very difficult.
CONLEY: And the media focus on this Putin meeting, just to pick up on a point that David mentioned earlier. President Putin does have the leverage here. He's going to exploit the weaknesses that he sees and the destabilizing behavior that President Trump mentioned in Warsaw yesterday. He's destabilizing of the American democracy and institutions, European democracies. That's what we have to address. The commander in chief has to protect the United States. That's job one. And we need to get that message across today.
BERMAN: And, again, that meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin happens in just minutes.
David Sanger, before I let you go, just to pick up on what we just heard between President Trump and President Nieto. That one word that we heard from President Trump, "absolutely," when asked if Mexico will still pay for that wall. Does that put the Mexican president in a bind when he goes home after this first face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it sure doesn't help. Now, of course, we've heard the White House hedge on the question of how one would pay for that wall, whether it would be done through some other mechanism other than getting a check. And I suspect it probably - it probably would if it happens at all.
But, you know, this is - this is Donald Trump facing the fact that his base wants confirmation on something that he would - he would yell at every campaign rally. It has very little to do with the big issues with Mexico, which is how would you renegotiate NAFTA?
[09:35:04] SANGER: Whether or not the wall is really a wall in all places. It isn't. And so forth. But my guess is that that's going to look like the lesser of the meetings. Not less - necessarily less important, but less urgent given the Putin meeting. And then, as Heather mentioned, Xi Jinping tomorrow -
SANGER: At a moment that North Korea has just demonstrated an ICBM capability.
BERMAN: And everyone will be watching that very, very closely. Again, the idea that Mexico would pay for the wall out of the president's stump speech over the last few months. At least as of just a few minutes ago in Hamburg, back in.
Steve Hall, David Sanger, Heather Conley, thank you very, very much.
We are now just minutes away from the first face-to-face meeting as presidents between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Will President Trump bring up Russian election meddling? Should he bring it up? We're going to speak to a Republican congressman on the Foreign Affairs Committee, next.
BERMAN: All right, we are just minutes away now from what will be an historic, not to mention a highly analyzed meeting between President Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Just minutes away now.
I'm joined by Republican Congressman Dan Donovan of New York, who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us in person in New York as we're watching pictures of these meetings come back. Fascinating to see and the high - most highly anticipated meeting between the U.S. president and the Russian leader. What do you want to come out of this meeting?
REP. DAN DONOVAN (R), FOREIGN AFFAIRS & HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEES: Well, I'd like to see the president address some of the issues that - that we need to deal with Russia about the interference with the election, about what's happened in Syria, their involvement in Ukraine. This is a great opportunity for the president face-to-face to talk about the things that all of us are talking about back home, but address them with the leader of Russia.
BERMAN: The number one issue on that list that you just made was Russian election meddling. That's the one issue the White House hasn't told us he will definitively raise. But your advice is absolutely bring it up. What happens if he doesn't? DONOVAN: Well it's, you know, the president's priorities that he's
going to be able to mention to Putin. He's only got a short period of time. These side conversations or meetings don't last very long. I don't know what the president thinks is the most important thing to him right now. You know, when we witnessed the atrocities that Assad did to his own people, gassing children and women, I mean the president didn't want to stand for that. He took some swift action, bombing their air field where they launched those attacks from. So that might be his number one priority. I don't know how much time they're going to have with one another, so I guess he's going to use that time as he sees that he can use it best.
BERMAN: One of the thing he has said about Russian election meddling during this overseas trip is, nobody knows for sure whether it was the Russians or other countries as well. He said that in Warsaw. He said that overseas in Poland. Is that the right kind of message to send about your intelligence services?
DONOVAN: Well, I don't know. You know, I was a prosecutor for 20 years before I went to Congress and I've always done, in my professional career, wait until the investigation is over before you reach a conclusion. We have about four different investigations going on now into the Russian meddling, one in the House, one in the Senate, the FBI is doing one and the special counsel is doing one. So I would wait before I even reached any conclusions until they're finished with their work.
[09:40:11] BERMAN: Although the intelligence agencies, who have been investigating it separately, have no doubt that the Russians meddled and they all say so far when we've talked to them over the last 24 hours, they see no evidence it was anyone else.
DONOVAN: I do. And I have trust in our - in our intelligence agencies. But it's people looking into this and they have a lot more information than we have publicly. I would wait until they can finish their conclusions.
BERMAN: We just heard President Trump meeting with the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto. He was asked about the wall that the president said he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico. He's been very clear that he wants to build a wall, plans to build a wall, although the funding for it not in place yet. But he was asked very clearly during this meeting, will Mexico still pay for the wall? He said "absolutely."
DONOVAN: Absolutely. He said "absolutely." You know, I don't think anyone ever expected, including the president, for Mexico to hand over a check to the United States, but there are mechanisms which you can do that through trade agreements, withholding foreign aid that we give to Mexico every year until the wall's paid for. So there's many ways this can be done.
BERMAN: You really think Mexico's going to pay for the wall?
DONOVAN: Well, if we're holding the money that we give them and don't give it to them, in essence they're paying for the wall. BERMAN: Should Mexico pay for the wall?
DONOVAN: I - well, that's up to the president and his advisers. All I know is that we have to protect our borders. Our number one responsibility as people in public office is to protect the citizens of our country. There has to be some security that goes into place. And the president thinks this is the best way.
I would advise the president to listen to his advisers. They are great experts in our country on security. What's the best way to secure our country from our enemies, from our predators, from the people who are bringing drugs into our country or trafficking humans into our country. Let them tell us what's the best way to do that.
BERMAN: So, while this is all going on overseas, Mitch McConnell is trying to put together a Republican health care bill that can pass the Senate. And he been unsuccessful. You know, he can't put the votes together right now to get through the Senate. One of the things he suggested is that maybe it's time to bring the Democrats on board, work in some kind of a bipartisan way. You were a "no" vote on the House version.
BERMAN: You've sort of been on the opposition as a Republican to the Republican efforts so far. What are you seeing on the Senate side? Are they anywhere near a bill you could vote for?
DONOVAN: No, not what I've seen, but they're still negotiating, they're still bargaining, they're still modifying their bill. But I believe what Mitch McConnell said is the right path to take. One of their criticism of the Affordable Care Act was that it was passed without one Republican vote. What we're trying to do now is pass a health care policy for this nation without one Democratic vote. If we keep doing this back and forth every time the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue changes, we'll have another health care policy for this nation. It's not fair to patients, John. It's not fair to families. It's not fair to practitioners, health care providers. It's not fair to anyone.
BERMAN: It is different. You know, eight years ago, it was passed without any Republican votes, but President Obama, at the time, did talk to a lot of Republicans. He went to Republican gatherings. He learned from them. There were committee hearings. Olympia Snowe, you know, voted for the plan in committee, you know, not in the full Senate. I mean Democrats haven't really been brought into the effort as of yet.
DONOVAN: Well, you know, and when he was leaving, President Obama came to the Capitol, to The Hill, and asked his conference, please don't help the Republicans undo what I will go down in history known for, the Affordable Care Act. And they made a commitment to the president. I would like to see the president relieve them of that commitment - the former president relieve them of that commitment so we can get this country moving forward and let people have some confidence and some stability in their health care. BERMAN: Congressman Dan Donovan, great to have you here with us in the
studio talking about a range of issues.
DONOVAN: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: Again, we're just minutes away from President Trump meet with Vladimir Putin. All of us who, you know, who watch this very closely, watching every move, the handshake, the pat on the back, analyzing the smiles. That's important. Maybe more important or definitely more important, what they actually discuss, the policy, what comes out of this meeting. We're on top of all of it. Stay with us.
[09:47:58] BERMAN: All right, we are just minutes away now from President Trump, who will be meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This takes place in Hamburg, Germany, really any minute now. And we do believe we will see pictures of it when it happens. So, stick around for that. It should be very, very interesting.
While we wait, I want to bring in Errol Lewis, CNN political commentator, political anchor at Spectrum News, Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator, former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, and Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institute.
You know, congressman, I want to start with you here. A lot of Democratic senators are saying that the president would be in severe dereliction of duty if he does not bring up Russian election meddling at this meeting. Your response to that?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think, number one, he is going to bring it up, but I think he's going to do it in a way completely different than Barack Obama. Barack Obama, when he knew about it at the G-20 meeting, made it sound like he just brought it up as a side issue. I think what Trump will do - and, remember, it's a 35 minute meeting, so he can't do everything - but I think what he's going do is say, look, you heard me yesterday in Poland. You heard me talk about the importance of the eastern bloc. You heard me talk about NATO alliance. You heard me commit to sell patriot missiles to Poland. You know I dropped 59 tomahawk missiles in Syria. New sheriff in town. You will not be interfering with our elections from here on out. And, by the way, we're not through talking about 2016.
I think if he says that and, you know, he can say it really quickly. But given his track record so far, h's six months into his presidency, he can speak with authority that there's absolutely a new sheriff in town. You're not dealing with Barack Obama. The American people are furious. And then maybe if there's one thing that unites Democrats and Republicans is that we do not want any further interference.
BERMAN: You said you think he will do this. Do you have reason to believe - because I know you talk to the White House - do you have reason to believe that he will do that in the next few minutes?
KINGSTON: I have reason to believe only because he is a skilled negotiator and he knows that it's relevant and there's no way to get around it. When Russia really desperately would like to have some economic relief because of the sanctions. Keep in mind that 50 percent of their GDP is dependent on trade. Their GDP is $3.7 trillion. Ours is $18 trillion. They need us a lot more than we need them economically.
[09:50:17] And another thing Trump brought up yesterday is to Europe, get off of Russian energy. And I think that's one of the things that Russia (INAUDIBLE), if you get off our energy and oil and gas prices are already down, then we're going to really have some economic problems. So I think that you can't get around this because of the sanction issue, if nothing else.
BERMAN: You know, Michael O'Hanlon, CNN reporting overnight that the Russians have picked up their spying efforts, sent more people in, increased the intensity here in the United States because of what they perceive as a real lack of retaliation by both President Obama and Trump to the Russian election meddling. Do you think they anticipate this type of response that Congressman Kingston was just talking about there from President Trump?
MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: That's a good question. Good morning.
I generally agree with the congressman. I think those are the kinds of messages that need to be sent. And whether one makes a contrast to President Obama or simply says, listen, we're coming to terms now in the United States with the severity of what you did last year. And on a bipartisan basis, this cannot be tolerated in the future and it will not be consistent with a good U.S./Russian relationship of the type that I would like to try to build with you, Mr. Putin. I think that kind of message is indeed necessary and I do expect President Trump will send it.
I really think, you know, President Trump wants to improve the relationship with Russia. I agree with President Trump on that. But it's going to require a stern set of messages and Russia also now showing complete change of heart. The spying stuff, you know, that happens. Monitoring each other's activities, that's not going to stop and you can bet we're doing it against them as well. But the direct interference in elections, as well as Russia's behavior in Ukraine and Syria, those kinds of issues need to be addressed directly and Russia's behavior needs to change. We're going to have to be created, though, in working with Russia in regard to Syria and Ukraine and other hot spots because we're going to need some new strategies going forward that will require collaboration. So that's why President Trump needs to have a tough message conveyed today so the next interaction with Putin can hopefully be more constructive on the policy front.
BERMAN: You know, Errol Louis, I live in a world where I don't really believe in coincidences, right? Last night Jeffrey Lord, who obviously is a big ally of the White House, told me that he wanted President Trump to bring up Russian election meddling. Seconds ago, you know, Congressman Kingston here, almost an ally of the White House, told me he thinks that President Trump will, leads me to believe that this might happen in the next few minutes, that the president may, you know, quote, unquote, surprise people by confronting Vladimir Putin over Russian election meddling. If that happens, though, what message do the Russians take from that? Within the last 24 hours, President Trump is also saying, yes, nobody knows for sure whether the Russians meddled in the election. It could be other people who did as well, even though every single intelligence official and member of Congress who's been briefed on the classified information tells us no one else was involved.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's - that's why I'm not quite as optimistic as Congressman Kingston that we're going to hear this, or even Jeffrey Lord, frankly. You know, when the new sheriff's in town doesn't seem to be clear about whether or not a crime was committed, oh, it might have happened, it might not have happened, somebody else might have done it, it doesn't really inspire hope that he's going to take the forthright steps that are necessary to sort of issue a stern warning. That also, frankly, interacts with questions about sanctions and about kicking out and closing the compound, the diplomatic compound, from which a lot of the spying was going on.
The Russians have made clear publically that they want those compounds back. So we should make sure we know at the end of this meeting whether or not that was discussed as well. Frankly, I'm hoping for some kind of a readout from somebody other than the Russians about what goes on in this meeting. There's only going to be the four principles, the two leaders of the country plus their foreign ministers and some translators.
LOUIS: So unless they tell us what was talked about, we won't really be sure that these very vital issues were actually discussed.
BERMAN: I think we can expect the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to brief reporters after the meeting. That is something we anticipate. So we will get an official version from the United States, from the Trump administration after.
Michael O'Hanlon, you, obviously, have been looking, you know, at this and many issues for decades now. What have we learned about what can be done? How presidents can work with Vladimir Putin. What has been successful in terms of cooperation with the Russian leader?
O'HANLON: Well, as you know, both President Bush and President Obama were severely disappointed ultimately in their relationship with Putin. They didn't really feel like, in the end, they could collaborate. But, you're right, there have been cases, for example, applying sanctions against Iran, which led to the Iran nuclear deal. Whether you like that deal or not, the sanctions got us to a whole different place in terms of Iran's willingness and need to negotiate.
[09:54:56] Russia also helped us supply forces in Afghanistan through their territory and the territories of former Soviet republics during much of that operation. They have occasionally cooperated, at least to an extent, on applying sanctions against North Korea. So on these kinds of things where there is a clear Russian interest in the same kind of ultimate objective that we have, there is a possibility for collaboration. That's why I'm actually hopeful about Syria, for example, where I actually think our main interest and Russia's can be largely de-conflicted and made partially compatible. And we're going to need a new strategy to do that. It's going to require a good working relationship with Russia. That's why Trump needs to send a strong message of displeasure about the past so we can start to move beyond that and focus on new strategies in places like Syria.
BERMAN: You know, Congressman Kingston, should President Trump trust Vladimir Putin?
KINGSTON: No, he should not. And I think he can draw on the lessons that President Bush leaves - learned. You can't look into his soul and see anything but a cold heart. And I think there's no way to reset. But I think to stabilize the relationship, I think that is an objective that can happen. Stabilize it in some range and then build on some areas that you can trust. You know, follow up with what Michael said, you know, building up arms are - in Poland and strengthening the Baltic States, that is something that gets Russia's attention. And I heard, haven't verified it, but something like 20 of the NATO countries now are increasing their military budget. So when President Trump talks about NATO has to come up with their military contributions as per their guidelines, I think that that's something that gets Putin's attention. And, you know, again, he's got a 15 percent inflation rate in Russia. Their economy, the unemployment is down. I think it's 5.2 percent right now, but it's still not a strong economy because it's so dependent on oil and gas prices.
BERMAN: You know what else gets Vladimir Putin's attention, is when you bring up the fact that the Russians are occupying Crimea, which is something that he did not bring up, you know, with any kind of language even close to that yesterday in Warsaw. Should he, congressman, address that directly?
KINGSTON: Yes. But now, remember, he did say interference in Ukraine. And so - and, frankly, I think the whole theme of his speech in Poland was about the occupation, which started in September 1939 with the Nazis and then really was handed off in Stalin right after World War II. So I think that that was a strong message to Russia that the west is going to stick together. The west is going to defend freedom. The west is going to defend its boundaries.
But I do think that when it comes to Crimea, we do need to have NATO. We need to have the United Nations. We need to have an international group in there saying, look, we have to - we have to work together on this. And I think possibly, and as Errol Louis alluded to, it does play into a bigger stage which includes North Korea. And so there are some carrot and stick opportunities out there for maybe it's a two-way street in that regard.
BERMAN: Again, you know, he did talk about the plight of the Pols over centuries, really, in central Europe. He did talk about what he called destabilizing activities by the Russians. He did talk about Ukraine. He did not say the word out loud, Crimea, which I think would be very, very important to the residents of Crimea, also very important to Ukraine. That aside, Errol Louis, and I want to shift gears again, we are
waiting - we are really just minutes away now from President Trump meeting with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. We expect that meeting to begin very, very shortly. While we wait for that, Errol, President Trump has already had a big meeting today with the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Their first meeting as president since President Trump took office. And at the very end of the meeting, President Trump was asked, will Mexico pay for the wall, and he said "absolutely." These are words - again, he campaigned on, but he's been reluctant to say out loud as president because it was very upsetting, politically speaking, for the Mexican leader. Now he did say it with him in the room. What do you think the impact is?
LOUIS: Well, the impact in Mexico, I think, will be profound because this is not something that the Mexican president can allow to go unanswered. You know, here in the United States, of course, this is going to be wrapped up in a lot of mysterious budget math about how it's going to get done, right, because if you remember back to the campaign, John, when asked about this, who's going to pay for this, how's it going to get paid for, there was this convoluted kind of system that he suggested would be done, whereby we make back in trade and tariffs what the cost of the wall would be. So aside from the lowball estimate of what it would cost to build this wall, how it was going to get paid for was supposed to be by we, the taxpayers, in the first instance, and then we'd sort of make it back on the backside. So it will enable him to say, you know, absolutely, it's going to get done. It will enable the Mexican president to say, no way in hell will we pay for this and we'll see how it all works out in the future.
BERMAN: All right, Errol Louis, Congressman Jack Kingston, Michael O'Hanlon, thank you very, very much. Appreciate your time as we wait for this big meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
[10:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right, hello, everyone, I'm John Berman. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.