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Trump Meets French President in Paris; Interview with Rep. Jim Jordan. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 13, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: -- thing that they absolutely disagree on. But counterterrorism is a focus of the meeting today, we are told, this one-on-one meeting between these two leaders. It's the third time they have met. But this is the first time that they will focus in-depth, face-to-face at least on this issue here.
So, I think by inviting President Trump here to Paris, it is a -- I would say, a more diplomatic version of that handshake that we have talked so much about, Poppy, that happened back in Brussels last month where President Macron is trying to get the upper hand here, perhaps being, you know, a little more vibrato by having President Trump on his terrain, on his turf as they do indeed talk about, you know, so many other issues that align the U.S. and France and, indeed, a NATO and the rest of the European Union. We talk a lot about what divides them, President Trump has led the charge on that. But I think this is a chance for President Macron to sort of flatter President Trump but still show that he is, you know, on equal footing with him.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, but still show his strength as well, both new presidents. There, you see them, just moments ago with the Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France and Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States. We hear that we are getting live pictures from inside of Napoleon's tomb with the two leaders in just a moment. We are going to bring those to you.
But if you are just joining us, let's reset. It's the top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We see the live pictures from inside just there. We'll bring more to you in just a moment. President Trump, just arriving at Les Invalides with President Macron Paris for this historic visit, his first visit to France.
You see him coming out of the motorcade there. The two men share common ground on a number of issues, but they are also very much on opposite cages when it comes to some key issues, namely, President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. They will talk about all of it ahead over the next two days as they celebrate Bastille Day, the 100th anniversary of the United States entering into World War I. They will have dinner, the four of them tonight in the Eiffel Tower.
But, Sara Murray, before all of that comes the harder stuff for the president. And that is the questions at the press conference today. What are you expecting? SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the harder stuff, you know, the substance of this meeting is not just all pomp and circumstance and parades and dinners and the Eiffel Tower. While they're here, we are awaiting President Trump and Emmanuel Macron here at the French presidential palace. They are going to hold a bilateral meeting. That will be of course, behind closed-doors.
We are expecting the main topics there will be Syria and counterterrorism, but then they come out here and face the press. Two questions from the American press, two from the French press. And those could run the gamut. Obviously, this is going to be the first time we are seeing President Trump, out in public, addressing questions from the broader press about what exactly happened with his son, Donald Trump Jr. and this meeting with a Russian lawyer. Yet another previously undisclosed meeting after the Trump administration began at the outset with a blanket denial, saying there were no meetings with Russian officials, there's nothing to see here and time and time again, we've seen, you know, trickle through trickle that more meetings keep coming to light. So, this will be an opportunity, most likely, for President Trump to address.
It will also be interesting to see if he is asked any questions about Russia more broadly. Remember, he just met face-to-face for the first time with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. And Putin, Trump says, denied that Russia meddled in the election, contrary to what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded. And Trump hasn't really clarified whether he believes Putin's narrative or whether he believes the narrative of U.S. intelligence agencies. So, it will be very fascinating to see if that's something that comes up as well today, Poppy.
HARLOW: Mary Katharine Ham is also here with me, our CNN political commentator and senior writer at "The Federalist." And as you look at these pictures and you think about this meeting and you look ahead of the press conference that is beginning in just a few hours' time, in less than two hours' time. What are you thinking?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND SENIOR WRITER, "THE FEDERALIST": Well, obviously, this is a big moment for both of these presidents. They're sort of young in their presidencies. And I think the interesting thing to me through Trump's presidency, has been you would have thought that these foreign trips would have been some of his most problematic times.
HAM: That perhaps there would be gaffes on a foreign soil that would be bigger than the ones here. I think that was what many people thought. He's actually does fairly well on the foreign stage. I think he likes these one-on-one meetings. I think among other things, they do have in common. They could talk about Macron's fight with the labor unions, which he is staging for later this summer and fall. --
HARLOW: That's a good point. Let's just pause for one second because we are looking at new pictures here. This is the first lady, President Trump, President Macron and Brigitte Macron, the first lady inside of Napoleon's tomb, pretty neat and rare pictures that we're seeing. Continue.
HAM: But the problems on the home front will come to haunt him while he's on this visit. So, you know, he is asserting himself and will have probably a decent visit with Macron. But he's going to have to face these questions. And the answers to those questions are not easy or forthcoming.
[10:05:01] HARLOW: But do you expect a press conference, Mary Katharine, that is different than what we saw in Poland because standing next to the president of Poland, -- they are very similar in their criticism and treatment of the media, for example. He will not be on the same page as Macron on that. So, perhaps, he won't feel that has the support from Macron to address and take on the reporters in that way.
HAM: Yes. I don't want to be too facile about it but Trump will do what Trump wants to do in that moment. He, obviously, wants to ignore all of these questions. He may try to brush them away. But I think it's going to be very, very tough in that environment. He's going to get questions about this actual, -- in black and white e-mails chain, right?
HARLOW: Yes, but it also depends on which reporters they call on.
HAM: That is true. But I think, it's being such a large global story. I think it's hard to imagine that that doesn't come up. Now, if it only comes up once, he can probably sort of sidestep and then move on.
HARLOW: Right. Sarah Murray is with us as well as our White House team. So, Sarah Murray, you were looking, again, at these live pictures of Emmanuel Macron taking President Trump and the first lady around Napoleon's tomb after they just arrived moments ago at Les Invalides. They have a big, big schedule ahead of them. Mary Katharine Ham made a great point. She said it doesn't matter to what company the president is in. He will say what he will say at this press conference.
MURRAY: Well, that's certainly true. It's been true of previous press conferences. In that sense, it might be very interesting to watch how Macron plays off of Donald Trump in a press conference like this. I mean, as you have been pointing out, they had sort of a thorny relationship in the beginning. I don't expect that to be the tenor of what we see from these two world leaders today and tomorrow. But there's no doubt, they have very significant divides on issues like climate change. Even with how firm to be when it comes to the question of Russia and Russia's election meddling. That was an issue in the French elections as well and of course, as you mentioned the treatment of the press. So, it will be very fascinating to see the two of them side by side.
But do I think it is worth reiterating, yes, we do focus on the things that these two leaders apart, the things that divide them, their differences. But the allegiance between the U.S. and France, that doesn't change overnight, the deep economic ties, the deep national security ties, the close intelligence sharing. All of that is very pivotal to this alliance between these two allies. And so, I think that this, in many ways would be an opportunity for them to stand together and say, look, this is sort of a new world order. The U.S. may not be in the same position it was. This president may have different views. But these allies still stand side by side. So I would expect to see a little bit of that over these next two days as well.
HARLOW: And Jeff Zeleny joins us as well, our senior White House reporter. And Jeff Zeleny, to you, the pomp and circumstance of this welcome and the next two days cannot be overstated. This is quite a welcome.
ZELENY: It is quite a welcome, Poppy. I can tell you. I mean, just watching the images here of President Trump, Mrs. Trump, visiting Napoleon's tomb here. This is a welcome that is not afforded to a lot of leaders. This is a bigger welcome than Russian president, Vladimir Putin, received when he was visiting France last month in June. This is something that we know the president likes grandeur. We know that the French like to welcome their guests in that way.
But this, I believe, is also a bit of flattery to this U.S. president. We have seen over the last six months or so in office, how world leaders have studied this president and see what sort of appeases him and makes him happy. And one thing is talking about his election victory, of course. Another thing is welcoming him in this fashion.
So, I believe that this is an opportunity for the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, to get in the ranks of the leaders that President Trump may like the best and can do business with the most. Germany would normally or would often be a, you know, a major U.S. partner here. But the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the middle of a big election of her own.
ZELENY: So, that is a relationship that's a bit on hold until then. By this big welcome, Poppy, I do think it's a chance to set this relationship and put President Macron on equal or perhaps a greater footing here in the race to be, you know, there's a leadership vacuum, no question with so many new leaders around this world, Poppy.
HARLOW: You make a great point because Angela Merkel in the middle of that election, her hands a bit more tied. As one of Macron's aide just said in recent reporting, he has a bit more freedom on this. He's just been newly elected, a win that the president, after supporting his opponent, Le Pen, called tremendous. He has a bit more leeway here than Angela Merkel in the middle of that election.
Kate Bennett is also with us. She's our White House reporter who covers Melania Trump, the first lady, very closely. And Kate, some of your reporting earlier this week, as we look at the first lady there, had been that was she was very frustrated with all things going on around Russia and sort of being drawn into this as part of the first family and what is going on with the president's son, Donald Jr. in those e-mails. Now, she is on the world stage, once again. What are you hearing? [10:10:16] KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (via telephone): Well, that's true, Poppy. She was certainly not happy about being lumped in with the drama in the west wing and that she, possibly, would weigh in on staffing issues over there. A White House source who knows her thinking told CNN that she certainly was even a bit irritated about that. That is sort of not what she's focused on. She's focused on east wing stuff, certainly not west wing.
And I think it's interesting too that we are seeing more of the first lady on the global stage than we have seen her back in America. I mean, we watched her last week in Poland and in Germany. And now, we are seeing her again in France. She visited a hospital earlier today in Paris. So, it's sort of interesting that we, as Americans, are watching her sort of take over and shine a bit more abroad than we are seeing her do these sort of events here at home.
HARLOW: Remember, she introduced the president when he was in Warsaw before that big speech. I don't believe it's expected that she will do anything of this sort on this trip. But we'll be watching.
Again, you are looking at live pictures from just moments ago of the president of the United States and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France and the first ladies there touring the tomb of Napoleon just after arriving at Les Invalides. These kicks off a very busy two days for the president's visit -- his first visit to France. We are going to take a quick break, my thanks to all of our reporters. We'll be right back.
[10:16:07] HARLOW: All right. You are looking at pictures from just moments ago. President Trump and President Macron of France, as well as the first ladies, touring Napoleon's tomb there as they arrived Les Invalides just moments ago. We are going to keep an eye on all of that. Because this is a historic first visit for the president of the United States, President Trump, to France.
The two tomorrow will celebrate Bastille Day together. But soon, both presidents will face questions on-camera in this joint press conference. This is the first time that President Trump will face these questions since his son released those e-mails noting that he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer that was set up through a Russian government effort to dig up dirt on then Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.
So, let's talk about that and the questions that he will face at the press conference. Joining us now, Republican Congressman and member of the Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan of Ohio. It's nice to have you here, sir.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH), FREEDOM CAUCUS MEMBER: Good to be with you all.
HARLOW: So, let's talk about the meeting that Donald Jr. had with the Russian lawyer and how the president will face these questions today. We have some indications from answers he's given in interviews with "Reuters" and the Christian Broadcasting Network, saying, you know, tweeting my son is innocent, he did nothing wrong. Saying, anyone would have taken that meeting. Well, no. Every lawmaker I've asked has essentially said, they wouldn't take the meeting and you've said that you wouldn't take a meeting like that. How do you - after the fact that he took the meeting, how do you think the president is handling this?
JORDAN: Well, I mean, look, I think the key is we are going to get to the bottom of it. There are investigations going on. I also think it's important to keep it in context. It was one meeting, 20 minutes. We are going find out more about it. They are going to interview these folks. We'll get the facts out there. But keep it all in context.
And frankly, keep it in the broader context, the idea that James Comey, just a few weeks ago, under oath, told the American people that he misled us and that he did it at the direction of the attorney general when he called the Clinton investigation a matter not an investigation. He further misled us when he allowed the perception to exist that President Trump was under investigation when in fact he wasn't and have been told three times that he wasn't. - But we learned early this week that he also put confidential information in those memos that he put together. --
HARLOW: Congressman, there's nothing illegal about a sitting FBI director putting classified or confidential information in memos that we don't know if they were distributed and he testified under oath that the one memo that he did distribute - did not have anything classified in it. I would like to stay on topic. OK?
JORDAN: We can stay on topic. All I'm saying is we should view it in context. And he did mislead the American people and he did so in the direction of the United States attorney general.
HARLOW: My question to you -
JORDAN: He leaked a memo to a friend to "The New York Times" -
HARLOW: My question to you was about the -- my question to you -- sir, my question to you was about the president son's e-mails and his own admission that he had this meeting knowing that it was a concerted Russian government effort to dig up dirt on his opponent. A meeting you said that you would not take and you are saying that this was nothing, nothing came out of it.
JORDAN: I didn't say that. -
HARLOW: It was a 20-minute meeting - you said, it's a 20-minute meeting and there was only one meeting.
JORDAN: All I'm saying is keep it in context. All I'm saying -
HARLOW: How do we know that? -- How do we know that it was only one meeting and it was 20 minutes? -- Because Donald Trump Jr. was on it.
JORDAN: We are going on what both parties said. We are going on what the Russian lawyer said. And we're going on what Mr. Trump said. But there's an investigation going on. And they will get to the bottom of all that. All I'm saying is keep it in context.
And you are right I said I wouldn't have taken the meeting. In hindsight, Donald Trump Jr. said he probably shouldn't have taken the meeting. So, let's get all the information. No one's ever accused me of going easy on my own party. I want to get the information out there.
JORDAN: But I do think it's important to keep all these in context. When you have the United States attorney general tell the FBI director, go tell the American people something that is not accurate, that's a problem. And we should - even Dianne Feinstein said we should look at that matter.
[10:20:00] HARLOW: And guess what, I was going to state, there are even Democrats. There are even Democrats.
JORDAN: Exactly. So, let's keep it all in context.
HARLOW: Comey testified that that made him feel uneasy. And there are Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein who you note, who want this looked at and investigated. Let's move on from here.
JORDAN: He might have felt uneasy but he did it. He might have felt uneasy but he did it and then, he leaked information to - for a special counsel and then was his friend Bob Mueller who was named as special counsel.
HARLOW: Congressman, let's move on from here. -- President Trump gave an interview to "Reuters." I'm sure you have read it. And in it, here is what he said about Vladimir Putin meddling in the U.S. election. Quote, "Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn't have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point."
Either he is questioning, once again, the U.S. intelligence agencies findings that Russian meddled or he is at the very least, complimenting Putin's intelligence and saying he would be smart enough to be able to surpass and trick U.S. intelligence agencies. Does that bother you?
JORDAN: Poppy, we are going get to the facts. Look, I mean, the statement is what it is. We are investigating this. Everyone -
HARLOW: Yes. It's a statement Congressman from the president of the United States.
JORDAN: -- understands that Russia was trying to get involved with elections.
Everyone also understands this did not impact the vote count. And no one has suggested -- no evidence has surfaced at all that somehow they changed the vote tallies in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or any other state for that matter.
So, again --
HARLOW: What I'm asking you is -- does it bother you that the president of the United States - is saying this about Vladimir Putin.
JORDAN: It bothers me that Russians tried to influence our election. And it bothers me tgar we are not viewing all of this in context, which I have talked a lot about with you and a lot of other folks. So, let's keep it in context, but let's get to the truth. As I've said before, no one has ever accused me of going easy on my own party. I want the truth out there. But I think it is important for the American people to get this in the full context, they get the full picture. And frankly, I think it's important, we get focused on accomplishing the things the American people elected us to accomplish last November 8th.
HARLOW: Are you comfortable with the president's consistent questioning of U.S. Intelligence agencies? I guess that's the crux of my question, because he keeps doing it over and over again. Are you comfortable with it?
JORDAN: What I'm not comfortable with right now is the fact that we are not getting the things done that the American people elected us to do. That's why we called for being here at House Freedom Caucus called for six weeks ago to be here in August to accomplish the things we are supposed to do. Let's get to the bottom of this Russian matter. Let's make sure our elections are free and fair in the way they're supposed to be. Make sure that continues in the future. But let's get it done and let's get focused on the things the American people elected us to do as well.
HARLOW: Congressman, if you would, and I know you have been patient in waiting, can you stick around because I'm going to bring in right now our Manu Raju from Capitol Hill who has breaking news on this front. And I want to get your response on the other side. Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I just spoke to Dianne Feinstein. She's the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and she tells me that she wants Donald Trump Jr. to come before her committee and testify as soon as next week. Now, she said that she had conversations last night with the chairman of the committee, the Republican Chuck Grassley and they are discussing whether or not to even subpoena Mr. Trump Jr. to come before the panel.
Now, this comes as Grassley himself said yesterday to me and other reporters that he doesn't want to speak with Donald Trump Jr. He did not know exactly when that would happen. But he wanted to have more conversations about bringing him forward. It shows the growing interest on Capitol Hill, not just with the Senate Judiciary Committee, but what other committees as well to hear testimony.
His version of events about that meeting that Donald Trump Jr. recently disclosed with that Russian lawyer. Now, who else was in that meeting? Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner. And Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump, he also is of interest to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chuck Grassley wants to hear testimony from Paul Manafort as soon as next week as well.
But Grassley is trying to work through the Special Counsel's Office to make sure that Robert Mueller does not - is not going to conflict with the Special Counsel's investigation. It's uncertain whether or not Manafort will appear next week. But the fact that the committee does want to talk to Donald Trump Jr. as soon as next week is news. And we'll see if that actually comes to pass. But they are also threatening, Poppy, a subpoena if it comes to it.
HARLOW: Look, you know, will they come voluntarily? And I'm talking about Manafort as well, who Grassley as you noted, has said he wants to come testify next week. Or will they have to be subpoenaed and if so, will they answer questions or take the Fifth? Let's get -- thank you Manu for the breaking news. As always, you are on top of it all.
Let's get back to Congressman Jim Jordan. Congressman, thank you very much for waiting. We appreciate it. What is your response to that? Dianne Feinstein, whom you just brought up in another context, saying they want Donald Trump Jr. to testify next week in front of the Judiciary Committee and as you know, your fellow Republican, the chairman of that committee, Senator Grassley, saying he wants Paul Manafort to come and do the same next week.
[10:25:02] JORDAN: Doesn't surprise me. I don't think it should surprise anyone that we want to get to the truth and want to get the facts. -
HARLOW: Do you think they should? Let me just get it clearly, are you saying, yes, they should - both Manafort and the president's son, Donald Trump Jr. testify openly next week?
JORDAN: I just expect that to happen. I expected that to happen when the news broke earlier this week. That these individuals would be, in fact, brought in front of a committee. My guess is they will come in front of the committee and they'll answer the questions. I think that's appropriate. Let's get the facts out there and then let's move on to the agenda that the American people elected us to do -- doesn't surprise me in the least.
HARLOW: So, you don't think that Paul Manafort or Donald Trump Jr. will ask for any sort of immunity deal in order to testify? You don't think there'll be any concern about them taking the stand?
JORDAN: I don't expect that. - I mean, Donald Trump Jr. did the interview the other night with Shawn Hannity. And I think he talked about - we want to get this out there. We want to be forth coming. He released the e-mails himself. So, let's get -- let's have the hearing. Let's have the questions and let's get the answers.
HARLOW: That's a good point. He did say to Hannity that he would answer questions. And now, you know, we'll see if that's going to happen, if he is called and if he does answer the questions.
Because you are here, if you have a bit more time, I would like to get you on health care. It's an issue very important to you and part of it very, very important to your State of Ohio. So, we are minutes away from the new version of the Senate GOP bill on health care being released. We've learned that the Ted Cruz amendment will be included. This would open up some of those unregulated policies to be sold on the open market. The issue is, as you know, the concern that they would not include coverage for some of those essential benefits that that would leave people really in a rut. What is your take on that and do you think the president -- hold on. Do you think the president has been out there enough on health care or do you want to see more?
JORDAN: I think the Cruz amendment is a huge move in the right direction. And it will create a marketplace. It will actually offer the kind of plans that consumers want. Imagine that, offering plans that patients and consumers and families would actually like to purchase and do so at a lower premium. So that to me is a great step, something that we, conservatives, have long supported and I'm pleased to hear that it's actually in the draft that's being released in a few minutes.
HARLOW: OK. So, you represent the people of Ohio. I'm actually flying to Ohio right after this show, continuing our coverage of the opioid epidemic in your state.
HARLOW: And you were a yes vote on the House GOP health care bill. As you know, that, according to the CBO would reduce federal Medicaid spending by $834 billion over the next decade, compared to where it would be under current law. As you know -- let me finish the question. As you know, many opioid addicts rely on the Medicaid expansion that happened in your state for treatment and for recovery. Are you comfortable with that huge reduction in Medicaid funding.
JORDAN: Two points. You are right. The opioid issue is tough all over the country, but certainly very tough and difficult situation in our state.
JORDAN: We need to do all we can to help with that situation, in cities like Dayton and some of the cities that I get to represent in western and north central Ohio. So, you know, that's -- but, to the Medicaid issue. Remember, it is not a cut in Medicaid. It's a reduction in the rate of growth. So it's still going to grow a lot over the next ten years.
HARLOW: Come on, Congressman that is semantic. There's inflation. -- There's inflation and costs have to grow and budgeting has to grow with that. I mean that is semantic. That will be cut by $834 billion for the next decades from where it would be under -- I'm not the left. I'm a journalist. I'm telling you what the nonpartisan CBO says. - And they say if you take - versus the laws that you sign off on, it would reduce it by $834 billion --
JORDAN: There's a lot of question about the CBO's score. Look at the "Forbes" piece two weeks ago.
HARLOW: And all I'm asking you -
JORDAN: And all I'm saying is it wouldn't reduce Medicaid. It wouldn't grow as fast as it is scheduled to go.
HARLOW: -- is the folks that pay your salary and the crisis that your state is going through right now, Congressman --
The crisis your state is going through right now. Are you comfortable? Your words, we should do all we can to help them. Is this doing all you can to help them or do you want to work on it -
JORDAN: We want to do all we can to help them. -
HARLOW: That Medicaid expansion is not pulled back so much.
JORDAN: I just don't follow the premise that you have to increase Medicaid coverage in order to deal with the opioid crisis. I want to deal with the opioid crisis, but I'm not so naive to think more government and more government health care is always the answer to every problem that's out there. And certainly, growing Medicaid at a slightly reduction in the rate of growth of Medicaid over ten years is not a cut. It's still going to grow a lot over the next ten years. Let's actually look at how we can help people.
To the CBO score, the "Forbes" piece just a few weeks ago calls into question a lot of the methodology and processes used in making that determination with CBO's. I don't put a whole lot of stock in what CBO says relative to this piece of legislation.
HARLOW: You know the guy who runs the CBO, Keith Hall, was put in place by Republicans. Put in place by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, to be exact.
JORDAN: That's fine. That's fine.
HARLOW: OK -
JORDAN: I would like to have a hearing. We would like to have hearings on the CBO. Maybe we will learn something. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but we'll learn. I would like to at least have them come in and ask questions or answer our questions because there's been a lot of - the piece in "Forbes" talks about some of the methodology used I think is -
HARLOW: All right, Congressman, how do you help these folks?