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Trump Attends G-7 Summit; Russia Should be at G-7; Trump Feuds with Allies; Suicide Rate on the Rise. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 8, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Up first, President Trump facing off against some of the country's closest allies right now. The president has arrived in Canada for the G-7 summit. The gathering comes as tensions clearly escalate over trade.
Before leaving Washington for Quebec, the president defended his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I'll tell you what, it's what I do. It won't even be hard. And in the end we'll all get along.
But they understand. And, you know, they're trying to act like, well, we fought with you in the wars. They don't mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don't mention the fact that they're charging almost 300 percent tariffs. When it all straightens out, we'll all be in love again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president was supposed to meet earlier today with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. The meeting did not happen. Officials say potentially it could be rescheduled.
The president also meets later today with the Canadian prime minister, the host, Justin Trudeau.
His relationships with Trudeau and Macron specifically have been rather strained in recent days over the tariffs and other related issues.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's joining us now live from Quebec city with more on this important summit. Jim, the president told aides he would go in swinging. Give us a sense of what we can expect from this rather contentious gathering among allies.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it sounds like he's already swinging and landing some punches. As you heard, as the president was leaving the White House earlier this morning, he suggested that Russia could be invited back into the G-7, making it the G-8 once again. You already have senators from both parties and European allies reminding the president why Russia was kicked out of the G-8. It was because of their invasion of Crimea in Ukraine. And then all of their other destabilizing behaviors since then, like meddling in the election of 2016 and the recent poisoning in the U.K. And so you have that one component right there.
But, of course, there's this whole trade issue that has popped up with the president slapping tariffs on Canada, the E.U., major U.S. allies. Theresa May, the British prime minister, has been weighing on -- weighing in on that this morning saying that she doesn't find that to be acceptable and also saying you have to remember why Russia was kicked out of the G-8.
And so, yes, Wolf, obviously this is a president, when he comes to summits like this, it's sort of surreal and unusual to be covering an American president who is somewhat unwelcome at these meetings. And you have foreign officials talking about the creation of a G-6 plus one or looking at these summits as sort of a G-6 plus one. It is sort of a strange, surreal experience covering an American president making these kinds of waves on the world stage.
And, of course, you know, he is only here for a short time. He's leaving this summit early before heading off to Singapore for the summit with Kim Jong-un in that part of the world. And as you heard him earlier this morning, he was being very defensive about his comments yesterday when he suggested that he hadn't been really preparing for this summit with Kim Jong-un. And then he defended that by saying to reporters as he was leaving the White House earlier today, well, I've been preparing for this all my life.
Of course, Wolf, as we know, before Donald Trump became president of the United States, he was in the real estate business. So it's difficult to imagine how much preparation he was doing during his real estate days for pulling off some kind of agreement that would denuclearize North Korea after it's been a menace to the world for decades.
BLITZER: The awkward moments when he first arrived, he was supposed to meet, as the diplomats say, on the sidelines of this summit with the French President Emmanuel Macron. What happened?
ACOSTA: Right. Right, from what we understand, the White House simply said that -- that bilateral meeting with Emmanuel Macron is not happening. And, of course, they were going after each other yesterday. Emmanuel Macron was basically saying, listen, you know, the G-7 countries, without the United States, can form agreements here without Donald Trump. This is, obviously, a chilling in the bromance that we saw at the White House when Emmanuel Macron visited the White House for that state dinner. They were holding hands. They were winning and dinning. They were down in Mt. Vernon. That relationship has obviously changed. Perhaps some of that is domestic politics back in France because the French weren't exactly keen to see Emmanuel Macron getting all buddy buddy with President Trump. And so there's been a frostiness over here.
It's not been made clear to us yet, Wolf, whether or not the president and Emmanuel Macron will eventually have that meeting. They did apparently brush past each other and talk to each other briefly in Charlevoix, at the site of the G-7 summit, but it's not clear at this point when they'll get together, of course.
[13:05:07] The president also met briefly with Justin Trudeau, who was the host of this summit. We're expecting a bilateral meeting between those two men. But, of course, we've seen, as we've been reporting over the last couple of days, that relationship between the U.S. and a very key U.S. ally is sort of on the rocks right now because of this tariff issue which, you know, we reported a couple of days ago. The president had that testy phone call with Trudeau late last month, Wolf.
BLITZER: The president apparently is going to cut short his stay there in Canada, avoiding some of the discussions on climate change and other related environmental issues in order to head over to Singapore for the summit with the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.
Jim Acosta, we'll get back to you. Jim Acosta's in Quebec City.
We expect to see all the G-7 leaders together for the traditional photo opportunity coming up right at the top of the hour. We'll have coverage of that.
But joining us right now is Tom Donilon. He was the national security adviser under President Obama.
Tom, thanks very much for joining us.
You know, there's always some disagreements among even the closest allies.
TOM DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Yes.
BLITZER: The U.S. and France. The U.S. and Canada. Always some disagreements. Does this, to you, and you attended a lot of these G-7 summits with President Obama, does this seem different?
DONILON: It does. It feels different for a couple of reasons. Number one, is a lot of this seems to be due to personal peak, if you will, right? You know, it's very personalized diplomacy that the president engages in. It also has this attribute of this Twitter feed leading into the -- leading into the summit. You know, kind of doing this in public really is not the way a U.S. president would lead the -- would lead the -- would lead the allies. And especially not what the president and the United States has been at these for decades has been the leader, the leader of the industrialized democracies, and President Trump is not playing that role. He's isolated. As you said earlier in the lead-up, it's going to be a G-6 plus one.
BLITZER: Yes, well, he's tweeted this morning, looking forward to straightening out our unfair -- straightening out unfair trade deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn't happen, we come out even better. Canada charges the U.S. a 270 percent tariff on dairy product. They didn't tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers.
What irritates Canada and Mexico, these are the number one and number two trading partners of the United States, is that the Trump administration cited national security concerns for imposing these tariffs on aluminum and steel. And you heard Prime Minister Trudeau. He's very upset.
DONILON: Yes, Wolf, it's wrong on the geopolitics if we just talked about pushing away allies. By the way, allies that we fight and die with. Helping Russia really kind of divides and undermines the (INAUDIBLE) of the alliance. And missing the main game on really working together in a multilateral sense to deal with China on these trade issues.
On the trade arguments that the United States is making here, it's wrong on the economics I think too. You know, most of the analysis shows that tariffs result in fewer jobs, lower growth, higher costs. Indeed the most market savvy assistant that President Trump had was Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, who left over this issue. His own Council of Economic Advisers has advised him that, in fact, this would lead to lower growth. And the basis that they're bringing these on is national security, basically saying to these great allies, our closest allies, we don't think in an emergency you can be relied on.
BLITZER: And now, all of a sudden, the president is raising the prospect of the G-7 once again becoming the G-8. Listen to what he said upon leaving the White House this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting. And I would recommend, and it's up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G-7, which used to be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, the G-8 became the G-7 in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea.
DONILON: Yes, I'm not sure the president understands a lot of that history. But they were thrown out of the G-8, or asked to leave the G- 8, weren't invited any more, over the invasion of Crimea.
Russia has done nothing to earn its way back to the table. Russia has become, if anything, more actively hostile to the United States. And I think the question, Wolf, that strikes me in watching the president this morning as he was leaving for Quebec is, why is it that the president feels to be the chief advocate for and defender of the Russians when they have become so actively hostile to the United States, when they're actively trying to undermine our interests. That is really kind of a fundamental question here.
So there's nothing -- there's no basis on which you could bring the -- you could bring the Russians back into the G-7 and make it -- and make it a G-8. Indeed the Russians even said today, that's not their intention. They said they're looking at other forums to operate in.
BLITZER: So why do you think the president is raising -- all of a sudden raising this prospect of the G-7 once again becoming the G-8?
DONILON: As I said, I think it's an inexplicable policy position. I don't think any work had been done on this within the administration. It's unexplained. And, again, that's the question, why would the president consistently advocate for and defend -- and defend the Russians, in light of the fact that they've been hostile. Hostile across the board. Hostile in Europe and in Syria and in Afghanistan and interfering in our lections and indeed assassinating people on the territory of the United Kingdom with nerve agents.
[13:10:26] BLITZER: Trying to assassinate.
DONILON: Yes, trying. Yes, trying.
BLITZER: Fortunately, they didn't necessarily succeed.
BLITZER: Tom Donilon, thanks very much for joining us.
DONILON: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.
President Trump questioned why he should attend the G-7 as recently as yesterday afternoon. Aide told him if he didn't go it would look really like he was backing down from a fight that he started.
Let's get some more prospective. Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is joining us. He's joining us from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
So, the president told his advisers he would go in swinging. What do you make of his attitude, first of all, towards this summit in Canada right now?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: It's not how I would be. So -- but this president's unique. He's different. He's -- the way he does things is now what we've seen traditionally. My hope is -- we have -- we have to take a step back and look at this. We're not going to lose an ally in Canada. We're not going to lose an ally in France. We're all natural allies and strong partners. It will outland any personality.
The president wants to negotiate a better deal. And I think there are some areas where he's very right to say that in terms of, as you mentioned, the milk tariffs and everything else, where we negotiated something 30 years ago and we have a very different economy today.
Again, I'm not sure I'd take the tone he is. I don't think this is going to destroy any relationship. But we may look back on this and say actually the president kind of going in swinging a little bit maybe did lead to a better deal.
The last thing -- the thing that we have to remember is 25 percent of the world's economy is the United States of America. And so to sometimes come in and say, look, we want to be treated fairly too, we've earned it, we protect the world's shipping lanes, we write the rules of trade, I don't think that's necessarily a bad position to be in.
BLITZER: Well, they -- you heard the president say that Russia should be readmitted to the G-7, making it the G-8 once again, despite all of the policies, the actions of the Russians over the past few years. You think Russia should be admitted?
KINZINGER: Heck, no. Look, when you look at what the Russians have done, as your prior guest was talking about, they were eliminated from the G-8 when they invaded and illegally annexed Crimea. They're still there. They have an illegal war in eastern Ukraine that's still ongoing despite really a lack of coverage.
There are 50,000 dead children in Syria, 500,000 Syrians that are dead and many millions displaced because Vladimir Putin backs a very evil dictator. Not to mention kind of a loose partnership with Iran and every other where that they're destabilizing. There has been nothing that Russia has done that shows they want to rejoin the world community on these issues and they should not be given the respect, frankly, or the economic benefit of rejoining.
I was pretty surprised when the president said that and I hope that it was just kind of one of his moments where he was speaking because this administration has actually been pretty hawkish on Russia if you look back at the actions that have been done.
BLITZER: Yes, he was very firm, though, in that statement this morning at the White House.
The Democratic leader in the Senate, the minority leader, Chuck Schumer, he also blasted the president over that remark in a statement. He said, and let me read it to you, President Trump is turning our foreign policy into an international joke, doing lasting damage to our country without any rhyme or reason. The president's support for inviting Russia back into the G-7 just after they meddled in the election to support his campaign will leave millions of Americans with serious questions and suspicions.
Do you want to respond to Senator Schumer?
KINZINGER: Yes, he's being, I think, kind of dramatic, to be honest with you.
I actually love the fact that now all my friends on the other side of the aisle are all of a sudden Russian hawks because I've been for a long time, ever since I've been in Congress, talking about the dangers that Russia poses. And I think we have to be wide-eyed about it.
I don't think the president's destroying our foreign policy everywhere. I remember when George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan was president, because you come in tough people say you're offending your allies. Offending allies is, you don't want to do it, but to come back and say, we want a fair deal is OK.
You look at what's going on in North Korea. You look at the president's stand against the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I think his actions have been very strong, while I disagree, of course, with what he said about Russia joining the G-7.
So, you know, we can look at this and say -- and not have to be overly dramatic, as I think Senator Schumer was, disagree where we find areas disagreeable, like the Russia situation, but also give credit to the president where credit's due. We are on the bubble, hopefully and prayerfully, of a breakthrough in North Korea.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens on Tuesday when the president meets with the North Korean leader.
Do you think Canada represents a national security threat to the United States?
KINZINGER: No. Not at all. And, you know, they're a great ally. And, you know, frankly, I would rely -- I think we could rely on Canadian steel if we find ourselves in a national security emergency.
But the difference is, the president, in order to do these tariffs, which I'm not necessarily in favor of, I represent an agricultural district, but he has to do it under a subsection of national security. And their point is our lack of steel production in the United States is a national security threat. I wish we had more steel production in the United States, but, unfortunately, we don't.
[13:15:14] BLITZER: But you understand why Prime Minister Trudeau is so angry, why the Canadians -- they fought with the U.S. over all of these wars going back decades and decades and decades. They're arguably the closest ally the United States has. And for the Trump administration to cite national security concerns for importing these tariffs on imported aluminum and steel into the United States, that's deeply irritating to them. You understand their anger right now?
KINZINGER: Oh, sure. Yes, absolutely. I would be irritated probably as well. And that's why maybe the White House -- maybe they've done it and we just haven't seen it. They need to do a good job of explaining that we're not saying that Canada is a national security threat and we're not saying we can never rely on Canada or there could be a day we don't.
What is being said in this, though, is these tariffs, which I'm not support of against our allies, but these tariffs are under the national security provision and the point is it's our lack of steel production or steel capacity in this country that proposes -- that poses the national security threat.
BLITZER: Congressman Kinzinger, thanks so much for joining us.
KINZINGER: Any time, Wolf. Thanks a lot.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, CNN loses a truly loving member of our family. Remembering Anthony Bourdain, a chef, a world traveler, an inspiration to millions. He's gone at age 61.
[13:20:36] BLITZER: It was -- it is with particular sadness that we report the passing of Anthony Bourdain. He was found in his hotel room this morning, death by suicide. Anthony Bourdain was 61 years old.
We here at CNN have been fans of his for two decades, and for the last five years plus we've had the pleasure to have him as a member of our family. He was a chef, a writer and a very compelling television personality, but he was also a father, a wise uncle, a brother, and a trusted friend to all he met, not just taking us around the world to see the food, but to meet the people and to share their incredible stories with wide-eyed wonder. Even though he was often surrounded by amazing sights and exotic foods, he was also very quick to share his love for the simpler things, like his home state of New Jersey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Look at that beauty. Oh, yeah. I come here to feed my soul. The cultural wellspring that is New Jersey. The antidote to every other place. This place is perfect. The dogs are amazing. There are not a lot of people in this world like courageous enough to not change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Anthony Bourdain was an open book, even when it came to battles he had with personal demons, sharing his successes and his failures. And just a few days ago he proudly talked about adding this new painting to his collection. It's called "The Sky is Falling, I Am Learning to Live With It."
There has been an outpouring of sadness over the news from people all over the world. This from his longtime girlfriend Asia Argento (ph). Quote, Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. And President Trump also weighed in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's very sad. In fact, I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences. That was very shocking, when I woke up this morning, Anthony Bourdain is dead. And I enjoyed his show. He was quite a character, I will say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Finally, former President Obama, who filmed a segment for the "Parts Unknown" series in Vietnam with Anthony, he wrote this. Quote, low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. This is how I'll remember Tony. He taught us about food, but more importantly about its ability to bring us together, to make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We'll miss him.
The news of Anthony Bourdain's suicide comes just three days after fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life. These deaths are part of an alarming statistic. In a new study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2016, 25 states had increases of more than 30 percent. Researchers also found that more than half of the people who died did not have known diagnosed mental health conditions.
Let's talk a little bit more about this report. I'm joined by our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
Very sad indeed. Let's talk about the study, Elizabeth. Did the study give us any reason as to why there has been this dramatic increase in suicides?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, there's not really a very clear explanation, but when we talked to experts, we found that there were two trends that were happening during the time period covering by the report, '99 to 2016. So one of them is that that encompasses the economic downturn of 2008. And that was a very difficult time for a lot of people. Secondly, it encompasses the time when opioid usage was on the rise, which, you know, substance abuse can also contribute to suicide. And so it's -- and we don't have a really, really great answer, but we think that those two trends have something to do with it.
BLITZER: So what's being done to try to curb this epidemic?
COHEN: Well, first of all, the Department of Health and Human Services last year increased funding for suicide programs, giving grants of millions of dollars to various programs around the country to prevent suicide. So things like more places that people can go to, more outreach to let people know that it's OK to talk about this and there is no shame in having these feelings.
[13:25:09] And the Veterans Administration, in particular and separately, has been doing their own work in increasing funding for these kinds of programs, because veterans are at a particularly high risk for suicide.
BLITZER: Are there specific things people should be on the lookout for when talking to a friend or a loved one given what's going on right now?
COHEN: Right. There are things that you can look for. So, for example, any big change in behavior. When someone took great pleasure in doing something and all of a sudden is not taking that kind of pleasure, talking about feeling despondent, changes in how they are on -- how they behave and how they use social media.
But, you know, I think it's important to acknowledge that sometimes people don't -- you can do everything right and you can still sometimes not be able to detect when someone even very close to you is thinking about suicide. And I think that's important to know because there's a lot of guilt around it for the survivors. And they shouldn't feel guilty because even mental health professionals will miss suicide. It does happen.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for that.
And I want to put up the suicide prevention lifeline number once again. There it is. You see it right there, 1-800-273-8255.
And CNN also, by the way, shares the life of chef, storyteller and colleague Anthony Bourdain later tonight, "Remembering Anthony Bourdain," a CNN special. It will air later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
One additional note, Anthony Bourdain was a very, very special person. I always loved speaking with him because I always learned something from him. He had a very, very unique ability to make the world a bit smaller, a bit more personal. He will be sorely missed by all of us. My deepest, deepest condolences to his family and his friends. May he rest in peace.