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Poll: Trump Policies Hurting America's Image Overseas; Trump & Putin Had Second Undisclosed Meeting at G-20; Gov. Christie Booed After Catching Foul Ball. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 19, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:39] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The White House touts President Trump's policies as putting America first, but a new global poll says the president's policies are dragging down America's image overseas.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Wherever President Trump goes, controversy seems to follow. These are some of the protesters at a recent world leaders meeting in Hamburg. New research explains why.

The headline in the Pew Center study is that around the world and in Europe in particular, Trump's policies are unpopular.

(voice-over): In 35 of 37 countries surveyed, confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing is down, and that's dragging America's overseas image down, too.

Take Germany, host of the G20 and the protests. Confidence fell a massive 75 points compared to the final years of President Obama.

Other shockers include South Korea, another ally, down 71 points. France, a close friend, down 70 points. Canada, a neighbor, down 61 points. And so, the list goes on.

The only countries to buck the downward trend are Israel, up 7 points, and Russia, a statistical outlier, up 42 points.

Issues of concern include a border wall with Mexico, withdrawing from international trade agreements and the global climate agreement, as well as Trump's Muslim travel ban.

The majority of the 40,448 respondents said Trump was arrogant, intolerant, dangerous, with just over half saying he is a strong leader. The White House has yet to respond.

(on camera): Despite Trump tanking in the global rating, America's popularity as a nation is bouyed by its culture, its democracy, its citizens. But in another blow to Trump, both the presidents of Russia and China were judged more likely to do the right thing on global affairs than him.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Nic, thank you very much.

So, we now know President Trump had a second meeting with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, at a dinner at the G20. It was just the president, Putin and Putin's translator in this conversation. Was this dangerous? Should we have known?

We have answers to those two questions from diplomatic experts, next.


[06:38:23] CUOMO: All right. So you're going to be hearing about this second meeting between Putin and President Trump. Why does it matter? Well, first we didn't know about it. There were no U.S. officials there, reportedly.

There wasn't even a translator for the American president. Why? Well, because he was sitting next to the Japanese head of state, and so, he had a Japanese translator who couldn't translate into Russian, so when he got up to go over and talk to Vladimir Putin, he went alone, OK?

What did this meeting mean in terms of sparking interest? This isn't just about the media. This was about how other G20 leaders saw it. Pull up the excerpt from "The New York Times."

The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States' staunchest, oldest allies.

So, let's discuss with CNN military and diplomatic analyst, Rear Admiral John Kirby, and former U.S. under secretary for political affairs, Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

Ambassador, help us understand, give us some perspective. The president seemed to have a little misunderstanding of the reporting here. He said it was sick to suggest that there was some private dinner for just him and Putin. No one certainly is reporting that here.

This is just about, at a big G20 dinner, that the president of the United States got up unattended and went over to talk to the Russian president and the Russian president's translator.

Does this raise your eyebrows?

AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. UNDER SECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Chris, I don't think the fact of the meeting is a problem. We should want these two guys to get to know each other and have an effective relationship.

[06:40:02] They're the two most powerful people in the world.

He should have had our own translator with him. They should have understood he wanted to have this conversation. You want a record of the conversation.

The real problem is his weakness, the weakness of President Trump towards Russia because they hacked our election and the president hasn't done anything about it. So, the real test is will this administration now support a big sanctions bill against Russia that Congress is debating?

I think it's the policies that are the problem here. President Trump seems to be running after Putin, chasing some kind of elusory (ph), good relationship when the Russians are occupying half of Ukraine, when they've hacked our election, when they're a big problem for us in the Middle East. I think that's where the focus of the president should be, to be tougher with Putin at the beginning of this relationship.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's dig down a little bit into this, John. If we don't know what happened at the meeting, how do we know whether or not the president was dropping the hammer on Putin about sanctions? We don't know.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, that's a concern of mine, too, and I think this gets to the ambassador's point about the policies toward Russia. They are so opaque, and they are weak, and we don't know a lot of where this is all going.

And so, now, we have an hour-long meeting with Putin that we don't have a record of. And we also don't know because he didn't have his translator. We don't know if what he said to Putin was actually translated accurately, so, what impressions Putin walked away from.

So, I am concerned about this. I mean, I agree that they meeting is a good thing. These pull asides happen all the time at these international conferences, but it was so unprepared for and that we have no record of it. That is a concern.

CUOMO: Well, why is it a concern, though, Ambassador? It seems every time this issue comes up, the American people seem pretty unanimous in saying, look, anything that gives us a better relationship with Russia, that's a good thing. This hard line hasn't worked, anyway. They're still in Ukraine, as you point out. They still do whatever they want in Syria, so Trump campaigned on Putin likes Trump, Trump will use that to forge a better relationship.

Why isn't this meeting just an extension of that effort?

BURNS: You know, Chris, I'm not sure that the American people, the average American, the majority of Americans support a weak policy towards Russia. We need to be effective in the world. We're the global leader and be need to stand up for NATO. So, President Trump has to be careful here. The issue that he is

chosen as president and presidential candidate to be his signature foreign policy issue, I'll make a better relationship with Russia, he's not playing it correctly.

Putin has been 18 years in this game. He's very tough minded and he's very cynical. The way I think we've dealt successfully with him in the past, President Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Obama is, you have to draw the line. You have to show Putin where he can't go and President Trump has not done that.

And I think you're seeing a rebellion by senior Republicans in the Senate who want this sanction bill to pass. They voted 97-2 to pass it. The Trump administration is now trying to water it down in the House. I think that's where the drama is going to be, and that's where the Trump administration has to get smart.

If you give, give, give to Putin, he's going to take. If you let him hack your election with no penalty in return, he'll do it again in the 2018 midterms.

CUOMO: Now, look, I get that that concern, John Kirby, of -- that there may be an effort to soften the position on Russia that feeds into the anxiety about this Donald Jr. meeting, where he may have been pitched a softer approach on certain issues of Russian sensitivity. But how do we know that the desire of this administration is to go easier on Russia? Where is the proof of that, John?

KIRBY: Well, I think -- I think it's just evident in all the things they haven't done with Russia and the things that they've said, the failure to disclose these contacts. All that is a mounting body of evidence, Chris, that they -- while they say they want better relations with Russia, they seem to be willing to pursue those relations at almost no cost to the Russians and certainly at any avenue here in the United States.

I don't think -- I think it's obvious that there is something special here going on between these two, and we don't necessarily know what it is, but we are definitely not seeming to prove able to hold Russia to account for all the destabilizing activities that they continue to conduct.

CUOMO: Well, one thing is for sure. For the second time now, Ambassador, final word to you. We've had a meeting between the American president and the leader of Russia in which we don't have a transcript of it, we don't know exactly what happened, so it is impossible to vet the conversation.

BURNS: Well, and it's impossible for Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis to be able to do their jobs. They're the ones who have to carry most of the water here with the Russians. They need to know exactly what did Putin say, what did he commit to, what did our guy say?

That's why you need, as the admiral is saying, at least your own interpreter or some kind of note taker. [06:45:02] This is not an inconsequential relationship. They should

have planned for this.

CUOMO: But, also, you know, let's remind people, Donald Trump has a long history of conducting meetings on his own and by himself. This may be an adjustment to the presidency. We'll have to see what comes out of what he says this meeting was about. I see you shaking your head, John. I get it that it's not the right way to do it but it's the way he's done it in the past.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for your perspective. I appreciate it.

BURNS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: So, Chris, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not getting any love in the polls. How did the crowd respond when he caught a foul ball one-handed at a Mets game? The "Bleacher Report", next.

CUOMO: Strong.


CUOMO: All right. Usually when you catch a foul ball at a game, you get cheered by the home crowd. Well, not when you're a politician, especially if you're named Chris Christie at Citi Field in New York.

Andy Scholes has more on the "Bleacher Report".

But let's just -- let's just call it for what it is. This was strong, this move by the New Jersey governor.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Chris. And, you know, most of us in a baseball game catching a foul ball, it's not easy. Chris Christie, he made it look easy last night, making a one-handed grab at the Mets game. Check it out. It happened in the third inning.

Christie is just going to lean over right here and make the catch with his left hand. He gets plenty of high fives from the people around him, but Mets fans -- well, they were not impressed.

Christie hearing the boos. He did, though, find a young fan to give the ball to, even signed it for him. Now, the Cardinals a play by play guy having fun with Christie catching the ball, saying, quote, nice he could get from the beach to the ballpark, of course, referring to all the flak Christie go for spending July 4th weekend on a New Jersey beach that was shut down to the public.

[06:50:14] But, Alisyn, you know, boos or no boos, like Chris said, that was one impressive catch by Governor Christie.

CAMEROTA: With his left hand. CUOMO: It was an impressive catch. And in the governor's defense, New

Jersey governor, he's at a New York sports thing, and politicians get booed at ball games with one exception I've seen in my time, Giuliani at Yankee games.

CAMEROTA: Well, still, I'm also impressed. Not only that he made the catch, that he didn't just reflexively when booing start give them the one-finger salute.

CUOMO: Throw it at somebody and he gave it to a kid. He could have thrown it at one of the fans, giving them a hard time.

CAMEROTA: That's right. He did all the right moves.

CUOMO: He did.

CAMEROTA: That's right. Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, there is this new book, it is a revealing bombshell about what went down inside Trump Tower on election night, as well as the role Steve Bannon plays in this administration. The author joins us next.


CAMEROTA: We are getting a closer look at President Trump's tumultuous relationship with a key figure in his administration, Steve Bannon. The new book is called "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency". It documents everything from Trump Tower on election might, to the explosive fights inside the White House.

The author Josh Green joins us now to share more.

Josh, great to have you here.

JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN": Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Wow, what a book you have. I would say this is the most in- depth look at Steve Bannon who is sort of a mystery man.

GREEN: Well, this goal -- the goal of the book was to be the first full accounting of the election, of what really happened, but especially about the relationship between Trump and Bannon, because Bannon is such an odd figure who suddenly emerged on the stage. And I argue in the book it was really key to Trump's win.

CAMEROTA: So, let's look at some anecdotes that help get us a window into him. Number one, election night. What happened inside Trump Tower? By all accounts, they were surprised by Donald Trump's win, so surprised, is it true they did not have a victory speech ready?

GREEN: Now, traditionally, a politician's staff will have two options. You write a victory speech ahead of time, you write a concession speech and you pull out whichever one you need. Bannon knew Trump was so superstitious that he would not want to go

through that exercise and so, nobody ever brought it up. And, so, about 10:00, 10:30 on election night, it's clear that Trump is going to be the next president, so Bannon kind of nudges him and says, hey, shouldn't we go upstairs and write a victory speech?

[06:55:09] And so, they all headed up to Trump's penthouse and crank one out.

CAMEROTA: And who is Steve Bannon? How would describe him?

GREEN: I just thought that Bannon is almost this Selig figure who has had the strangest life. He started out in the Navy. He went to Harvard Business School. He was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in the go-go 1980s.

Wound up in Hollywood doing film financing and eventually became a conservative documentarian, a conservative filmmaker which brought him into the orbit of Andrew Breitbart, the late conservative publisher. And Bannon wound up taking over "Breitbart News' in 2012 after Breitbart died.

CAMEROTA: Because that became his world view, his world view became this sort of America first, anti-global, anti kind of -- is it fair to say anti-other?

GREEN: Absolutely fair to say. Yes. I mean, Bannon had always had these nationalist, populist politics and a real anger, I think, at liberal secular culture. What Breitbart did, what Andrew Breitbart did was try and start a small publication that would fight back against the media.

Bannon took that over and really used it as a vehicle to push his ideas into national politics and elevate politicians like Donald Trump who he thought could carry that message for him.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that, because you also say Bannon had been looking for basically a vessel and he had worked with Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Jeff Sessions, but not until he found Donald Trump was it sort of a match made in Bannon heaven.

So, what was it about Donald Trump that allowed this symmetry to happen?

GREEN: What it was was Trump's great personal force. Bannon was introduced to him way back in 2010 and began kind of informally advising him, but nobody, including Bannon, thought Trump was seriously going to run for president until years later. But when he did, Bannon was always involved in his campaign long before he joined behind the scenes. He was feeding Trump "Breitbart News" articles, he helped arrange Trump's trip to the Mexico border right after his announcement that caused such chaos and controversy.

CAMEROTA: And while we're on that topic, there is reporting that you found about how the concept of the border wall came to pass. GREEN: The story of the border wall is terrific. It's one of Trump's

greatest hits but it wasn't Trump's idea. Two of his staffers, Sam Nunberg and Roger Stone, came up with it as a device to keep Trump whose attention famously wanders, focused on the issue of immigration reform because they thought that was important.

So, Trump tried out the speech in Iowa, the crowd responded. And this is the way Trump works --

CAMEROTA: But they came up with a four-letter word wall that he as a real estate magnate understand it was concrete, literally and figuratively, so he could hold onto that.

GREEN: And Trump was a builder and he saw the wall thing start to resonate, and so, he started to improvise saying, I'm going to build a wall, and nobody builds like Trump. I'm going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. And the crowd went wild. It became Trump's greatest hit on the campaign trail.

CAMEROTA: There have been a lot of questions about what happened to Chris Christie. He was an ally of Donald Trump, they were often seen together. And then you have an anecdote here about election night and what happened.

You write in the book that basically, Chris Christie said, I've just spoken to President Obama, when it was clear that Trump was going to win. He's going to call my cell phone, and I'm going to hand it to you, Mr. President-elect, to talk to President Obama.

Trump did not like that.

GREEN: Two problems. Trump did not like people stealing his thunder and Christie was trying to interject himself in the most important moment in his life. Trump is also a germaphobe. He doesn't want Chris Christie's sweaty cell phone press to his face.

So, as a number of people there explained to me, Trump exploded at Christie and that really was the moment when Christie began to drift out of Trump's inner orbit.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Chris Christie refutes this, by the way. He was just on another show. Do we have this, guys? Chris Christie's -- OK, listen to what Governor Chris Christie has said about this moment.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The book is wrong fundamentally in that there was no call from President Obama that evening to me. I didn't speak with the president that night at all.


CAMEROTA: Your response?

GREEN: No disagreement there. All I said was he tried to arrange the call and he talked about it. CAMEROTA: But didn't you say Chris Christie said Chris Christie had actually had a conversation -- Chris Christie said he had had a conversation with President Obama?

GREEN: No, no, with Obama staff. He said he arranged for Obama if Trump won that Obama would call Christie's cell phone. But that never happened.

CAMEROTA: So, he is parsing it to say that whole exchange never happened.

GREEN: He's giving in politics what is called a non-denial denial.


So, Steve Bannon, back to him. People, obviously Democrats and liberals call him the puppet master and thinks he functions as Donald Trump's brain. What's your take?