Return to Transcripts main page

WOLF

Trump Reaches Out to Russia, Rebuffs Allies Ahead of G-7; Trump's Scheduled Meeting with Macron Postponed; Trump, Macron Finally Meet on Sidelines of G-7 Summit; Trump: Melania Went Through "Operation," Can't Fly; Trump Signs Childhood Cancer Research Bill. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 8, 2018 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:31:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: President Trump is at the G-7 in Canada. He's speaking with world leaders who, over the past few days, have offered a lot of the pushback over the president's new tariffs. In the end, the president says he expects them all to be friends again. But the president's first face-to-face meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron was postponed because President Trump arrived at the summit, apparently, an hour late.

Joining now, CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

There've always been some difference among the closest of allies, but you heard Tom Donilon, President Obama's former national security advisor, say this is different.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's usually different because what the president has done is he's thrown a grenade into this meeting, just as he does often into other meetings. What he has said before the meeting, we'll talk about tariffs. You heard Macron tweeting that the president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be. Today, you have the president suggesting somehow that Russia should become a member here.

And seeming to forget about the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine. So I think that this is a president who is isolated. I mean, usually we go to these meetings, we have differences, but we are the leader of this summit. Now the president is in a corner for a timeout. At least that's where they want to put him. He was asking aides as late as yesterday, according to our reporting from the White House, whether he actually had to go. So it's very different.

BLITZER: All of a sudden, he leaves the White House, Dana, and he suggests, you know what, it shouldn't just be the G-7, it should be the G-8. And Russia and Putin, they should be invited as well.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. For people who might not remember, it was just a few years ago that it was the G-8. That did happen. And Russia was kicked out after annexing of Crimea and Ukraine and everything else that had happened there. At the time, the president's own party was very, very supportive of the notion of getting Russia out of the G-8 and making it the G-7 because of their aggressive actions. Now you have the leader of their party doing the opposite. And he certainly got a sort of slap of the back of his hand from John McCain, who put out a really scathing statement today. Obviously, he is no fan of Vladimir Putin or Russia, saying --

BORGER: Or Trump

BASH: Or Trump. You got a three-fer. Of saying, this is absolutely the worst thing that you could do to not only be at arm's length with the rest of the six countries in the G-7 but even suggest when that's happening that Russia should come back in.

BLITZER: Samantha, you used to brief President Obama at the National Security Council, going back to other G-7 or G-8 or G-6, whatever you want to call it, summits. Have you seen anything like this before?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I haven't. And I was at the last two G-8s with the Russians. I can tell you they're incredibly tense. But the president missed at least one thing in his prep for this meeting, which is Russia actually said in 2017 that they were permanently leaving the G-7 because it was no longer relevant. So Putin doesn't really want back into this club.

My real fear, Wolf, is we are hearing language from the current G-7 members describing the United States that was used to describe Russia before their membership was suspended. We're talking about illegal actions. We're talking about violations of international law. So I'm wondering at what point does the G-7 say enough is enough. We don't want you in certain aspects of this meeting. We're not going to put out a communique. I'm hearing echoes of what was used to describe Russia.

[13:35:09] BASH: And this is the biggest fear among people who are even remotely internationalists and remotely respectful of and encouraging of international alliances like this one. That when President Trump elected, that the U.S. would be completely put aside because of his actions. And that's what's happening.

We talked about John McCain. He spent the first six months of 2017, Trump's presidency, traveling the world trying to reassure allies that this wouldn't happen. And it is what is happening. Unclear is this is just a flareup and things will calm down or if this is the beginning of an even more tense relationship with the U.S. and these Western countries that we have never seen in our lifetime or, frankly, in 100 years.

BORGER: Trump keeps saying, don't worry, things will get better.

BASH: We'll love each other again.

BORGER: We're going to love each other. Because in his life, when he insults people or fires people, they always come back into his orbit. And he thinks that is what will happen here. These are leaders of independent nations who have to protect their nations as well. It isn't just a little spat here. This rift is much deeper, I fear.

BLITZER: Samantha, I'm looking at the list of the G-7 leaders who are in Canada right now. The president of the United States, Prime Minister Trudeau, the host from Canada, the French President Macron, the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Washington yesterday. And the brand new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. He's only been in office for a few days. Except for Conte and Abe, the president of the United States seems to have some serious problems with these other allies.

VINOGRAD: He goes. That's maybe why he wants Russia to be invited back, so he's not as lonely in the penalty box or that part of it, at least, I get. But this begs the question of, what happens next in terms of any quid pro quos. Actions have consequences in life and in national security. Right now, we are talking about retaliatory trade measures. Consciously or unconsciously, when does Trudeau, OK, I'm upset about what you're doing on trade. I'm less willing to work with you on any other issue. This, to me, is not going to be contained just in the trade space.

BLITZER: Gloria, we just got some video. The president now has met with Emmanuel Macron. They're sitting on a couch. The diplomats always say this is on the sidelines of the summit. He's having a little one-on-one. Was supposed to be earlier, but the president arrived about an hour late. They're having a little conversation right now. President Macron does speak English, so I assume they're speaking in English without a translator. But at least they're talking.

BORGER: That's good. But Macron tweeted this, and I'm just seeing this: "Dialogue over and over again. Exchange. Try to convince incessantly to defend the interests of the French and also of those who believe that the world is built only together."

Clearly trying to send this message to Donald Trump that you can't go rogue on us, which is effectively what he's done.

BLITZER: We shouldn't really be -- Dana, you and I, all of us, we've watched Trump. We've interviewed Trump over the years, when he was a candidate, when he was a businessman. He's had these positions on tariffs--

BASH: I know. Absolutely.

BLITZER: -- and trade for a long, long time. He thinks all the previous administrations, Democratic presidents, Republican presidents, they didn't know how to deal with countries like Canada or the E.U. or Japan or Korea. He thinks the United States was getting hurt all of the time. We shouldn't be all that surprised that, now he's the president, he's taking these very hardline positions.

BASH: He certainly has changed his positions big time on some social issues to become a Republican. This is not one of them. He has been populist to his core for decades on the issue of trade. His argument and what he still argues is multilateral trade agreements don't work, that people get messed over. I'm trying to be polite.

BLITZER: He hates the World Trade Organization.

BASH: He hates the World Trade --

BLITZER: He hates NAFTA.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: He hates it.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But he does say he supports bilateral, so one-on-one. The question is -- and maybe you can answer this because you've been in these situations -- whether or not any of these potential bilateral trading partners,. from Macron in France to Trudeau in Canada, are going to want to deal when they had the pressure from their fellow allies who still want to stay in the multilateral space. And it's a big risk.

(CROSSTALK)

VINOGRAD: But there's also a credibility question. If Donald Trump has pulled out arbitrarily of all these deals and if he goes to Germany and Merkel has said she would consider bilateral agreements, saying let's work bilaterally, why would you take his word this time? Why would you trust that he'll negotiate in good faith and stick to his word on this particular deal?

[13:40:06] BORGER: He's very unpredictable.

VINOGRAD: Exactly. That's the problem.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

We're going to watch the photo-op that's coming at the top of the house.

Also coming up, for weeks, the first lady's five-day stay at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was described as a routine procedure, but this morning, the president called it a big operation that went on for hours, she can't fly for 30 days. Learning new information.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A new characterization today of the medical treatment the first lady, Melania Trump, underwent last month. Up until now, the first lady's office said Mrs. Trump was hospitalized for, quote, "a procedure." Today, the president used a different word entirely. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [13:45:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first lady is great. Right there. She has to, and she wanted to go. Can't fly for one month. The doctors say. She had a big operation. It was close to a four-hour operation. She's doing great. Right there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Our White House reporter, Kate Bennett, is here to discuss the president's comments.

He says it was a big operation.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. Using the word operation is something that's new. We were told it was a procedure, not even to sort of use the word surgery. We were sticking to the record there. But apparently he sort of spilled the beans today by saying the length of the operation, which was almost four hours. It sort of lines up now a little bit more with how many nights she spent in the hospital, with how much down time she did have, those three weeks. It does make a bit more sense, certainly, but I don't think her office or the first lady herself, she's very private, I don't think she wanted those details perhaps revealed publicly.

BLITZER: A procedure on her kidney. What does the first lady's office say?

BENNETT: The first lady's spokesman said that the first lady -- the statement the president said was correct, that what they put out was correct, it was an embolization procedure. She is doing well. It was successful. She is recovering. So they're certainly not pushing back on what the president said. I think he just revealed more details to the breadth and scope of what this medical issue. I was at FEMA the other day with the first lady. She seemed fine to me, looked well, shook hands with some workers there, was present for the hurricane briefing. I think we'll see her pick up her schedule. She couldn't travel for 30 days after the procedure, surgery, operation, whatever you want to call it now. Certainly, I think we'll see her back on the schedule soon.

BLITZER: We wish her only, only the best.

Kate, thank you very much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, she's just 11 years old but already Sadie Keller, of Texas, has made history, getting Congress to take action helping kids like her fight cancer. Along the way, Super Sadie, as she's called, also got to bend the ear of the president. Sadie and Congressman Mike McCaul, of Texas, they're about to join me live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:26] BLITZER: A major commitment to fighting childhood cancer. This week, President Trump signed what's called the Star Act to expand funding for childhood cancer research and to help with quality of life for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Listen to this. More than 10,000 children here in the United States were diagnosed with cancer in the last year alone.

Here with us right now is cancer survivor and advocate, Sadie Keller, who you saw in that video looking over the president's shoulder as he signed the bill. Also here, one of the sponsors of the bill, Texas Congressman Mike McCaul.

Thanks to you.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL, (R), TEXAS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks to you for joining us.

Sadie, how does it feel, the president of the United States signs into law this really important legislation that has an impact on kids like you?

SADIE KELLER, CANCER SURVIVOR: It just makes me feel so amazing and just happy because I know that this law will help so many more kids survive. That's like one of my goals is to just help more kids with cancer just, like, get better treatments and not have to go through a lot of really bad things.

BLITZER: What you went through. And very briefly, just tell us, what did you go through?

KELLER: I went through a lot of hard times and I was diagnosed when I was 7 and in the second grade. So it was just like really hard having to go every week to get chemo, getting my pore accessed and just like that was my life for two and a half years. And it was just like so weird to think that I had cancer and it was -- I never thought that I would get cancer. And I just want to, like, help kids like me who were going through worse things.

BLITZER: And how are you doing now?

KELLER: I'm doing very good. I'm actually one year off chemo now, which is awesome. And, yes, I'm really excited about that.

BLITZER: We're really happy about you.

Congressman, tell us about this legislation and why you decided to get involved.

MCCAUL: I met Sadie three years ago. She's in remission right now. And we've been -- she's really the best advocate on the Hill. They can say no to me, members of Congress, but when I brought Sadie into their offices, she and the countless advocates and other children got this bill to where we got it on Tuesday to be signed into law.

It's the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever signed by Congress. It will do so much for survivors for Sadie. Treatment, access and research. It's called the Star Act. Sadie is probably my biggest star. But to see her go from the beginning when you introduce a bill all the way to the president's desk where he signed it into law, it was just an incredible journey we experienced together. And I'm just so proud to be a part of this movement.

BLITZER: Yes. It's really terrific.

There's a lot of political differences, Sadie, here in Washington, as the Congressman and I can testify. But because of this, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, because of people like you, they got together, and they did something very special. It's going to help a lot of kids. You must be so, so proud.

KELLER: Yes, I'm very happy that, like, I feel like I'm making a difference in the world, which is what I want to do. And I want to help kids be happy. That's what I tried to do with my foundation, the Sadie Keller foundation. I just want them to be happy for once instead of just thinking about their health all the time. So I give gifts to them to make them be more happy and just not have to worry about their health like 24/7.

[13:55:02] BLITZER: What's the most important message you want to leave our viewers with right now?

KELLER: Just I want them to know that childhood cancer isn't rare and that seven children die every day from childhood cancer. And it's awful. And there's kids who are younger than me and older than me who have worse cancers. And I just want to say that.

MCCAUL: It's the number-one killer of our children right now. We wanted to do something about it. She's so inspiring. She said I want to take a bad experience and turn it into a positive one. That's such a great life message to all of us I think.

BLITZER: We are so grateful to you, and to you, and your co-sponsors, and the president for signing it into law. Good luck, Sadie. Stay in touch with us.

KELLER: OK.

BLITZER: If there's anything we can do, we would be happy to help.

KELLER: Thank you.

BLITZER: You're a wonderful young woman.

KELLER: Thank you.

OK, good luck.

Congressman, thanks once again --

MCCAUL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: -- for joining us.

Lots more news coming up. One of the major parts of the U.S. long- range bombing fleet grounded today. The reasons why and what that could mean for U.S. strike capabilities.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)