Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Rips Allies on Military Spending, Accuses Germany of Being Controlled by Russia; NATO Secretary General Responds to Trump's Criticism; Angela Merkel Pushes Back on Trump's Public Scolding; Trump Administration Falls Short on First Family Reunification Deadline. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 11, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they were getting from 60 percent to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not. Germany as far as I'm concerned is captive to Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So you see there, Poppy, the president complaining about that pipeline going from Germany to Russia, complaining saying that the United States is paying to defend Germany should it come to that but then from people like Russia, but then they are paying Russia lots of money for things like that.
So the president clearly irked today, that's certainly going to make it very interesting in this meeting that he had with Merkel. We didn't think we were going to get coverage of it, then the White House allowed reporters in at the last minute. But when we saw the president and Merkel walking next to each other as they were going to take that family photo with all of the world leaders, the president and Merkel did not even say hello to each other, did not get near each other. She stood at the front and he remained at the back.
So it will be quite interesting, Poppy, to see if the president confronted her when he sat with her face-to-face, one-on-one, or if he -- and held back those criticisms that he was so eager to air just this morning.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You know, they call it the family photo, right? It's sort of like you're nice to your family at the dinner table maybe, and then you say what you really think behind their back.
All right. We'll wait for that video, Kaitlan. Thank you very much.
Joining me now is former Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, who's also former ambassador, of course, to the United Nations and CNN National Security Analyst, Sam Vinograd. She staffed at 2012 NATO summit and bilateral meetings like this for President Obama.
It's good to have you both here.
Governor, just looking at the way that the president went into this NATO summit. Let's listen to this exchange between him this morning at breakfast and Jens Stoltenberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Despite these differences we have always been able to unite around our core task, to protect and defend each other, because we understand that we are stronger together than apart. I think that two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart.
TRUMP: But how can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection?
STOLTENBERG: Because we understand that when we stand together, also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger. I think what we have seen is that --
TRUMP: No, you're just making Russia richer.
STOLTENBERG: Well --
TRUMP: You're not dealing with Russia. You're making Russia richer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: The president says this, Governor, as he heads to Russia on Monday to sit down with Vladimir Putin. Does he have a point and is this a smart strategy?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: Well, it's very -- I believe very questionable strategy. NATO is very important to the United States. Germany is the strongest partner we have in NATO. I don't understand the president's tactics. I think he wants to get leverage over Germany on trade, on tariffs. Germany has been slow in paying the 2 percent, but their 1.2 percent, but all the NATO countries by 2023 should make the 2 percent.
But the important message here is one of saying to Russia, look, you're the most important relationship for us and Europe. This is not -- should not be the case that NATO is diminished by some of the president's remarks. So I'm very troubled by this attitude and this effort to basically undermine NATO. That's what I'm seeing.
HARLOW: And to the governor's point, Sam, what this is now really is just words. I mean, it's rhetoric. The president hasn't actually taken action against the collective defense. Right? We protect our allies, they protect us. Article 5. And of course that helps the United States after 9/11. But do you believe that we are getting to the point where the president will actually take action, will actually step back in terms of the U.S. collective defense of our allies?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, in a lot of ways, the president's actions don't meet his words in a good way. U.S. defense spending in Europe has increased significantly under President Trump. We're about to announce that there is going to be a new command center for NATO in Norfolk, Virginia. So in a lots of ways, the United States is committing more to the alliance in a long- term fashion.
But it's really interesting this point that the president raised on energy. Obviously it's the pot calling the kettle black scenario when he's calling another country captive of Russia.
HARLOW: But I get what you're saying. You know, what -- his inability it seems or unwillingness to criticize Putin and Russia. But he does have a point, does he not, about the flow of energy and fuel from Russia into Europe?
VINOGRAD: And that's why it's so unfortunate that it's the pot calling the kettle black moment because he's so hypocritical on this that we're losing sight of the fact that Germany is in fact highly dependent on Russian energy and Russia makes a lot of money off of Germany by selling them oil and gas. But the president isn't very credible on energy, security more generally, primarily based upon the fact that he's actually contributing to raising oil prices which will go to Russia because he's pulled out of the Iran deal.
[10:05:11] So it's the right hand not speaking to the left hand in that respect as well.
HARLOW: Governor, to you, we heard earlier this week from the president, he took to Twitter before this meeting, and he said, quote, "NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the United States. And as I mentioned before, right, the only time Article 5 has been invoked is to help the United States after 9/11. Why is the president saying that? And is it -- does it have any basis in fact?
RICHARDSON: Right. It doesn't have a basis in fact. NATO countries host 28 American military bases. There are 40,000 American -- European troops in Afghanistan. They help us -- NATO helps us against radical Islamic countries, against Soviet expansionism. They are very much a part of the most important security alliance since the Cold War that America has.
Our main allies are in NATO, are in the European Union -- trade, military, commercial. So to just go out and basically say that, on the 2 percent issue, I think the president should take credit that NATO countries need to contribute more for their defense. But at the same time, to send a message to Russia that their efforts to basically undermine NATO -- and on the energy issue, I was energy secretary.
RICHARDSON: Europe is dependent on natural gas from Russia. That's a reality. They're trying to move away from nuclear to renewable.
RICHARDSON: And, you know, this is a reality. And Russia uses natural gas as a political weapon to squeeze European countries to get them to do what they want.
HARLOW: Very quickly, Sam, before we go, why do you think Merkel is still so pleasant, at least publicly, to President Trump despite him saying things like he did this morning, that Germany is captive to Russia? I mean, would he respond better actually if she struck back?
VINOGRAD: I don't really think that's her way. I think that she's a diplomat and I think that she likes to keep a certain standard. But let's hope that she doesn't because if she starts treating the president the way that he treats her and voices her frustration would help President Trump undermine the alliance by placating Vladimir Putin, it's going to be a very long love letter.
HARLOW: Thank you, Sam. Thank you, Governor. Nice to have you both here on an important day certainly.
NATO secretary-general says he expects, quote, "open and frank" discussions throughout the summit. They've certainly been frank this morning, and open and frank being diplomatic code, I suppose, for testy and fiery. But he insists there is no real beef with President Trump's key demand of the partners, and that is to pay more for their own defense.
Barbara Starr sat down with Jens Stoltenberg this morning in Brussels.
What did he tell you?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was very interesting because it came after that breakfast meeting with the president where President Trump bitterly complained to the secretary- general about defense spending by NATO member countries, about Germany, putting the secretary-general right in his crosshairs in front of a global audience.
And just about an hour or two later, I sat down with him here at NATO and asked him how he is attempting to deal with the differences now so stark between NATO member countries?
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STOLTENBERG: Now as secretary-general, I'm of course mostly -- most concerned about the differences on defense spending. But that's very much what messaging and language, because when it comes to the substance, we all agree that we have to do more. And therefore, we try -- I try to distinguish between what is different language, different messaging, and what is disagreement on the core talks. Going to the concept of core issues, all allies and Canada agree that we have to invest more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Messaging and language used. The secretary-general right there is signaling that he knows Mr. Trump is messaging and using very stark language, but does know actually what's happening at NATO, that he is looking at Mr. Trump's language and he's trying not to publicly get too involved in it. He doesn't want to take sides for or against one member country, especially the president of the United States. But in than comment, the secretary-general is telling everyone he is very aware and he is walking that fine line right now with all 29 NATO member countries here in Brussels, knowing Mr. Trump's messaging, Mr. Trump's very bitter language about NATO.
But Mr. Stoltenberg's message is that the world is better off with NATO hanging together, all 29 countries, than not and he wants to come out of this summit with cohesion and a recommitment to the nearly 70- year-old alliance that has looked after American and European security since shortly after World War II -- Poppy.
[10:10:14] HARLOW: Barbara Starr, thank you for that. Telling to hear from him this morning right after that breakfast.
Let me bring back in, Governor Bill Richardson and Sam Vinograd on this. We are going to hear from the president and Angela Merkel in just under a minute.
Very quickly, Governor, to you. The president -- this is a president that says NATO is obsolete. In the face of that, why does the United States need NATO?
RICHARDSON: Well, because NATO's important to our security. I mean it was mentioned, Article 7 has been invoked once in 9/11. In addition, 28 military bases in the United States are hosted by NATO countries. They help us in Afghanistan. 40,000 troops from NATO there. In Iraq, in Syria, in Sub-Saharan Africa. You know, this is the cornerstone of our national security.
HARLOW: OK. So --
RICHARDSON: That NATO alliance.
HARLOW: Let's listen in to the president. This is the end of his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
TRUMP: We had a great meeting. We were discussing military expenditure. We were talking about trade. We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany. They've made -- you've had tremendous success and I congratulate you. Tremendous success. And I believe that our trade will increase and lots of other things will increase. But we'll see what happens over the next period of a few months.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Well, let me say that I'm very pleased indeed to have this opportunity, for this change to exchange our views and indeed we had an opportunity to have an exchange of our economic developments, on issues such as migration, and also the future of our trade relations.
We also briefly touched upon the foreign trips of the president and let me say that I'm very much looking forward to further extending our relations in the future and I think that's very important to have those exchanges together because after all we are partners, we are good partners, and we wish to continue to cooperate in the future.
TRUMP: OK. Thank you very much, everybody.
HARLOW: The end of the meeting there, the bilat, between President Trump and Angela Merkel this morning.
Back with me, Governor Richardson, also Sam Vinograd. Also our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with us as well.
Sam, to you, I mean, the last words there from Merkel, a partnership that we hope to continue. So what else do you think happened behind closed doors? I mean, it's so strikingly different to hear from the president now sitting with her than just what he said about Germany this morning being captive to Russia.
VINOGRAD: It's schizophrenic. I mean, it's doing a complete 180 from this morning. But this is how a read-out should go, in the sense that allies, people that have a tremendous relationship with the president, can have serious differences on things like trade, on things like energy, but that shouldn't change the public face of what this relationship looks like.
I did not that neither Merkel or Trump, and I don't think either of them actually mentioned Russia, which is quite telling in light of the fact that we have this chemical attack in the UK.
VINOGRAD: We have ongoing cyber attacks, and that is the threat. It is all positive news.
HARLOW: Kaitlan, what's your read out of what we heard? And I should just note for our viewers, that's only part of the meeting. Right? That's the end of the meeting. We didn't hear what they discussed privately.
COLLINS: That's right, Poppy. But it still seemed much chummier than what we were expecting this morning after we saw the president lash out at Germany during that breakfast before he even arrived at the NATO headquarters when he was sitting there with the top NATO official, going after NATO for defense spending but singling out Germany specifically, going after them saying that they are a very wealthy country, they could easily spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense if they wanted to tomorrow, he said even. But that they weren't doing that.
And instead he went off about that gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, saying that the United States is paying to protect Germany if it ever came to that from people like Russia, but then they were turning around and paying Russia millions of dollars. So that is not what we just saw there during that sit-down between the president and Merkel. He said that they have a very good relationship. You saw her sounding somewhat optimistic about the future of their relationship.
Quite a different outlook, Poppy, to say the least, than what we were expecting from what the president said this morning. [10:15:02] Clearly he did not seem to say it there in front of the
cameras when they were one-on-one with Merkel.
HARLOW: All right, Kaitlan Collins there in Brussels.
Governor Richardson, thank you for sticking around for that. With us as well is Sam Vinograd.
We're going to get a quick break in. Much more after this.
HARLOW: Now to the immigration crisis that continues. This morning the government, we've learned, has fallen short of that court-ordered deadline that was yesterday to reunite all 100-plus of those youngest children separated from their parents at the border. These are children under 5 years old. Only 38 of the 102 were reunited with their parents yesterday.
Our Rosa Flores was at one of those reunions. She joins me live with more.
So lay out for me what happened, what you saw but then also the discrepancy in the number that one of the judges is talking about versus what it appears actually happened.
[10:20:08] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And Poppy, you're absolutely right. We know very little about the process from the government. But we're learning more about the process from the actual parents who were reunited. And as you mentioned, I talked to one dad who was reunited with his 4-year-old son. And he says that he was hoping and praying that this reunion would happen before Friday, because Friday is the little boy's birthday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Friday is Jeremy's birthday. And he was hoping to see him because Walter hasn't seen his son for 48 days. And he woke up this morning and he didn't know if he was going to be reunited with his son. At about 9:00 or 10:00, they normally have a recreation time period. They told him that he could change into his regular clothing and that he might be able to reunite with his son and he didn't believe it because he didn't believe that it was actually going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Now after we had that conversation, the dad told us that he was actually separated for 43 days. But he lost complete track of time. He says that the reunion happened in a building that was undisclosed. In that building, he says that he had to sign some paperwork. He was fitted with an ankle monitor. And then in a room that was surrounded by filing cabinets, there were three children. A 1 1/2-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 4-year-old, which is his son. And that that's where these three dads were able to reunite with their children. Now about the bigger picture. Because there were 102 children who
were separated by the government who were under the age of 5 that are under this court order, Poppy, 38 of them have been reunited, according to the government, 37 are still in the process, are still going through background checks and that sort of thing. And 27 have deemed to be unfit to be reunited because of their criminal backgrounds or other problems that they found in their background -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Rosa, thank you for reporting and for being there with them in that moment and bringing that to us.
With me now, Joe Trippi, CNN political commentator and a Democratic strategist, as well as Republican Strategist, Rick Wilson.
Gentlemen, nice to have you both here. A lot to get through but let's just start on immigration.
Rick Wilson, to you. Look, and people should know you were a strategist with Giuliani way back in the day and you look at how other Republican administrations have handled this issue and choosing not to do these mass separations. Right? There were some under the Bush and the Obama administration. How does the administration fight the optics on this? Because policy wise and practice wise, they're back to catch and release.
But do pictures like Rosa just showed us of this little boy being reunited with his father after 43 days, will those haunt this administration?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the picture of the cruelty of this administration are a very deliberate part of this. They're a feature, not a bug, of the Trump administration's policy. And so I think that we're in a situation where no one inside the administration is unhappy about these things because they're only talking to their base. They're only talking to their core supporters. And their core supporters, you know, want anybody who's darker than a latte deported.
They're not happy about, you know, immigration of any kind. They don't believe in the asylum process. They want to take and separate these families as a matter of deterrence and as a matter of -- like I said, a sort of theater of cruelty. And I think it really doesn't speak well to their moral standing. It doesn't speak well to the --
HARLOW: That's quite an argument. I mean, you're saying the administration wants this. They want -- I mean I get it's their practice, but I'm saying they want these pictures, they want it to play out like this, they -- really?
WILSON: Yes. And there's been some reporting on this. Stephen Miller and the guys in the white nationalist faction of the party are very happy about this. They love the whole optics of this cruel sort of exercise. HARLOW: But that -- OK.
WILSON: Of this cruel sort of exercise.
HARLOW: Joe Trippi, you're the Democrat on this panel. Do you -- I mean, they do not make up the entirety of the White House, nor do they make up -- nor is Stephen Miller, you know, a representative of the entirety of the Trump base.
JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but it's -- I think Rick's right that this was intended to be a cruel policy, on purpose, as a deterrent, and it -- you know, and -- that's why the optics are so bad. They wanted people to see this cruelty and wanted -- and wanted their base to see it.
The problem with that for them is that the -- you know, the American people, majority of them, are far more compassionate than the cruelty of this policy and are putting the pressure -- and literally made the administration back off at least say they were going to reunite them.
[10:25:08] Now that's not working because they were so incompetent at implementing the policy in the first place. There is a coat check policy at restaurants that are better than what they've done. And I know that's a cliche and other people have said it, but it is absolutely true. They had no, no intention of returning these children to their families. Ever. Now they have to, and that's why they're having so much trouble doing it.
HARLOW: Joe, what is the responsibility of the Democrats heading into the midterms, heading into 2020, on this? What do Democrats need to give on immigration reform overall?
TRIPPI: Look, I think every American out there has to put pressure on this administration to end this policy, return these children to their families, and focus on that right now. It's this cruel policy that has to --
HARLOW: But I asked you -- I asked you what do Democrats need to give -- big, big picture. Because as you -- I think you wouldn't agree that catch and release is a long-term answer either.
TRIPPI: That's right. But you've got the president who wants a wall, which most people do not -- on the border don't even think that will work. I mean, the problem is it's the president's my way or the highway, who is, one, creating the crisis, because the crisis that he keeps screaming about is not real, and he demands his wall or nothing.
So, you know, the Democrats who are not in the majority that's increasingly put pressure on him and urge the American people. The American people are going to stop this. Not the Democrats.
HARLOW: We're out of time. You all know Democrats who say no wall, you know, no way, no way. So you have no and no from both sides, and in the middle is no solution.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. TRIPPI: Right.
HARLOW: You'll be back. I just have to get a break in. And we have a lot of news out of Europe this morning.
Joe Trippi, Rick Wilson, thank you very much.
Also, out of Thailand, great news, great video to show you, new video from this Thai hospital of those 12 boys and their coach pulled from their cave. We're seeing the first images also of the amazing rescue. That's next.