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Trump Rips Allies On Military Spending To Start NATO Summit; France Advances To World Cup Final; NATO Leaders Come Together For Official Portrait. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired July 11, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Without and end game.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Angus King of Maine, thanks so much for being with us. I do appreciate it, sir -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John.
We're going to talk about more about what's going on at NATO as we speak. The former NATO supreme allied commander is going to talk with us about the tone that President Trump has already taken this morning and what all this means for the summit.
BERMAN: All right, President Trump in Brussels. You're looking at live pictures right now. He is walking in for the official handshake at the beginning of the NATO summit.
Posing for pictures right alongside NATO Sec. Gen. Jens Stoltenberg, a man with whom he had breakfast this morning and a man with whom he already exchanged fairly sharp words about the defense spending among NATO members. And, fairly sharp words about the president's charge that Germany is being held captive by Russia.
This played out in front of the cameras for the whole world to see just a short time ago.
Now, the president has arrived at the beginning of the official meeting with the other NATO leaders and very shortly will be face-to- face with Angela Merkel and the other NATO leaders. We will watch and see how they interact as it happens.
[07:35:02] In the meantime, joining us to talk about this and more, retired Gen. George Joulwan, former supreme allied commander of NATO. General, thank you so much for being with us.
You note that one of the most important to things to stress at NATO meetings, and you've been to many of these, is unity. Do you feel that that is the tone the president has struck so far this morning?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED), FORMER COMMANDER IN CHIEF, SOUTHERN COMMAND: Not really.
I believe it's important -- what he's saying in terms of the two percent contribution by the nations is important. We've been stressing that for, in my recollection, 20 to 30 years and they have made progress.
But the more important part is the cohesion of the alliance.
We fought two world wars in Europe in the last century and we fought a 40-year Cold War against the Soviet Union, and the combined cohesion and alliance came together and that is was brought about success. Ended the Cold War, brought down the Iron Curtain, brought down the Berlin Wall.
We must remember all that as we go forward and that cohesion is needed today.
And by the way, normally at these summits, the first speaker that the secretary general recognizes is usually the United States. He has to set the tone and I hope he understands that, certainly understanding that we need to reach the two percent goal but also in the way of harmony and cohesion going forward.
BERMAN: What do you think the impact is, though? The ultimate effect of the words he chooses and the way he chooses to discuss this.
JOULWAN: We've heard much of this before, not maybe at the same tone but the same desire to see increased European involvement in their defense, in their spending.
But what the United States normally does -- the president strikes a tone of unity and I hope he does that. That's what I think is important here.
They provide much more than just two percent. We've had base -- we have bases all throughout Europe to give us global reach in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, and elsewhere. They have contributed a great deal of their troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. They've bled on the battlefield with us.
JOULWAN: That needs to be recognized as well as two percent of their -- of their -- of their GNP in the defense. And so, I would hope he would recognize that as we go forward still insisting -- and we all insist on them doing more with the -- with the -- with their defense budgets, but don't neglect the other role that they're contributing.
BERMAN: One of the things you said is that a normal president would go in and stress the unity. Well, President Trump supporters will tell you he's not a normal president. He likes to shatter some of the images of past administrations and past traditions here.
And he browbeat Jens Stoltenberg into admitting that NATO nations are spending more in their own defense because of the president's rhetoric over the last two years on this subject.
So, the president's defenders say hey, it works. We're getting what we want here so why are you complaining? JOULWAN: Fine, let him -- let him really beat the drum on the two percent but also -- and take credit for it. But also work on the other part of the contribution they're making with us in the global war on terror in what we're trying to create, a better world.
Again, Russia has tried -- what they're doing in Ukraine and Crimea. We've got the Balkans up there -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania also threatened.
So I think what the -- we are the leader in this -- in this alliance and I think our president needs to demonstrate that.
BERMAN: Are we still the leader --
BERMAN: -- in this alliance --
BERMAN: -- based on what the president's saying?
BERMAN: And you brought up Latvia in the Balkans and you hear stories about these nations and the concern -- the Baltic States -- the concern from them about the U.S. commitment. They are right on the border with Russia. Russia is meddling in their elections -- in their processes -- their democratic processes.
What do they see in those countries when the president speaks like this? What do they see when the president speaks in somewhat glowing terms about Vladimir Putin?
JOULWAN: They want a reaffirmation of Article 5 of the treaty, which is an attack upon one is an attack upon all. That's what they want.
And by the way, NATO has deployed aircraft to that region in their -- in the -- in their defense. We have international troops that are in that region from other nations as well. So, NATO is taking steps ahead of time to deter. And by the way, it's better to deter a war than fight one and that's what NATO has been about for since 1949.
[07:40:00] BERMAN: Russia -- you look at Vladimir Putin. Is he a friend, a foe or just a competitor, as the president says?
JOULWAN: Right now, I would see him as a foe.
But remember, I was able to get a Russian brigade to join with NATO to go into Bosnia. They were very effective, very helpful. I made several trips saying the effectiveness of Russia joining us in the partnership for peace to be able to stop the ethnic cleansing that was going on in Bosnia and we did.
And so, where we have common interests, we need to talk -- we need to open the door with Russia and not in the way of whatever oil they're giving to Germany, but in the way to create better relations. To have some neutral trust and confidence as we go forward. Russia can play a key part in that.
BERMAN: General Joulwan, always a pleasure to have you with us. Thanks so much for helping us understand these issues that are playing out before our eyes this morning. We do appreciate it.
JOULWAN: Thank you.
BERMAN: You know, one of the things you hear from the general and you hear from Angus King is that the United States can walk and chew gum at the same time. You can walk and declare that unity with NATO allies is important, and you can also chew gum and say they should spend more on their own defense. But right now, all you're seeing from the president is the gum.
CAMEROTA: And the chewing.
CAMEROTA: Well, yes, and I think it's really helpful to hear from all of our really engrained experts about how it is more complicated than the president makes it seem, obviously, on so many levels, including with Russia. That Russia can be a partner in some things but you must approach them skeptically.
And certainly, you also have to believe in Germany, which is how we appear to be beginning the --
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For example, and this is -- this is wisdom that goes back to even Ronald Reagan when he negotiated with the USSR -- trust, but verify. That's what we don't seem to be doing. That's an appropriate action with Russia.
I think what's different about the era where Russia was wary about the expansion of NATO -- the partnership for peace -- is that Vladimir Putin is now president of Russia again and it is a post-invasion of Crimea environment. And that makes -- Putin's not just skeptical of Russia, he's active -- of NATO -- he's actively hostile and the president seems to be playing into his hand, wittingly or not.
CAMEROTA: Right. And I have one more thing that I think has been helpful for our experts to point out which is that these -- this deal that Germany made for the energy with Russia was before the annexation.
CAMEROTA: It was a long time ago --
CAMEROTA: -- so that was when Russia was behaving differently and --
BERMAN: And, Angela Merkel has been one of the strongest voices against the Russian occupation of Crimea since then. AVLON: Yes.
Meanwhile, on a lighter note, the World Cup coming down to the wire. You've been riveted, John Berman.
BERMAN: It was awesome. It was the right outcome yesterday.
CAMEROTA: The goal that had people celebrating in the streets.
BERMAN: And not in Belgium.
CAMEROTA: We'll tell you where.
[07:46:56] CAMEROTA: Twenty years after winning their first World Cup title, France has a chance at making history again. I'm reading it phonetically, Coy Wire, but I understand you have more about whatever it is I'm talking about.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this French team takes the style of Van Cleef & Arpels and Louis Vuitton and combines it with the confidence of Pepe Le Pew and you get a team that's young, likable, and so much fun to watch.
A really big deal, too. French President Emmanuel Macron was at the semifinal match with Belgium.
This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.
It was Samuel Umtiti who put Les Bleu on the board with an impeccably placed header off the corner kick giving France the only goal they'd need to get the win.
Now, you may have noticed at work and maybe some of your friends have been bitten by the World Cup bug. And you know that when your team wins it is a party, like the thousands of fans partying in the streets of Paris into the wee hours of the night. That's what it's all about.
Now, England plays Croatia later today. And their coach, Gareth Southgate, there for England -- he knows how to keep his team loose. They were playing tag with a rubber chicken at practice yesterday.
With a win, England would advance to their first World Cup final since winning it all in 1966.
He had his team going to team yoga earlier this week. John, we'll see if they can get er' done.
BERMAN: I hope they don't regret they weren't practicing with a ball Coy, because you don't use a chicken in the actual semifinal game --
CAMEROTA: They're not supposed to do that. BERMAN: -- despite what Southgate thinks.
CAMEROTA: Everyone in my house is riveted and everybody around me at work is riveted. You can't leave your T.V. because you're so consumed with soccer.
BERMAN: I am deeply concerned about the withdrawal I'm going to suffer --
CAMEROTA: I am, too.
BERMAN: -- when this is all over.
CAMEROTA: I'm worried about you.
BERMAN: I'm pretty depressed about the depression that I'll go through.
CAMEROTA: How much time are you spending in front of a television?
AVLON: I am indoctrinating my children later today. I'm playing catch-up. But I thought the Pepe Le Pew was very helpful.
I think -- I think Britain deserves to win a World Cup. Last time they did it, I think it was "Revolver"-era Beatles.
BERMAN: They say it was '66. It was in --
AVLON: That's right.
BERMAN: It was in England the last time the British --
CAMEROTA: But does it mean -- Pepe Le Pew, does it mean the team is stinky or just suave?
AVLON: Just suave.
CAMEROTA: I've got it.
BERMAN: You can be both --
BERMAN: -- as I've proven again and again, I think. I don't know what that means.
All right, you're looking at live pictures right now from Brussels. They're about to take the family photo -- the so-called family photo at the NATO meeting. This is one dysfunctional family this morning, folks.
We'll show you the pictures live. Stay with us.
[07:51:12] BERMAN: You're watching something really fascinating here in Brussels. This is the NATO summit. That's Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO. The world leaders -- Europe's leaders and North America leaders walking in for this photo opp.
But we just saw -- I don't know if you're still going to be able to see it -- is all the European leaders and Justin Trudeau of Canada walking in together. Then separated from the rest of the pack, President Trump alongside the Turkish leader Erdogan.
John Avlon, explain to me exactly what kind of political leader Erdogan is.
AVLON: Erdogan just recently won reelection. He has been accused certainly, of being an autocrat moving his country away from democracy.
In fact, the U.N. -- America's NATO ambassador, Kay Bailey Hutchison, just warned the other day that Turkey, under Erdogan, is moving into Putin's orbit.
So the fact that Trump was walking -- bringing up the rear with Erdogan, I think is significant. He's gravitating to the closest thing NATO has to an autocrat.
CAMEROTA: Look, optics matter, right, and these pictures speak a thousand words. And the idea that that's the person that President Trump feels most comfortable walking to this family photo with -- and it looks as -- obviously, the distance between he and Angela Merkel is notable. I mean, that's just -- you know, we can't imagine that these things are accidental.
AVLON: No, and geopolitics is personal, diplomacy is personal. And that's why I think that body language -- that decision to lag behind with Erdogan -- I don't think -- you're not overinterpreting what you're watching with your own eyes when you watch them walk up to this podium.
BERMAN: And again, in this photo here they're all spread out on the stage.
The president standing next to British Prime Minister Theresa May. He will go to London tomorrow for a unilateral -- bilateral meeting with the British prime minister whom he sort of criticized over the last few days. He noted the political turmoil inside Britain.
And that is -- we just saw a moment ago the Turkish leader Erdogan.
Again, you're looking at the president right there. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, on his right. Again, Theresa May on his left.
CAMEROTA: Emmanuel Macron smiling, who we'll see in a moment. He appears to be happy to be there, though the -- there's tension.
Look, I mean, there's just no way around it. They got off to what we've been calling a raucous start with President Trump venting his spleen at the allies about what he sees as the inequity, in terms of payment, to NATO.
We have had all -- listen to the introduction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, please look into the cameras for the family photo for 10 seconds.
CAMEROTA: All right, the family photo will be happening momentarily.
But the point is, is that that's what he wanted to launch with.
CAMEROTA: That inequity instead of the alliance.
AVLON: And that has been a longstanding complaint of U.S. leaders going back to Eisenhower. It's in the process of being remedied. But the fact, as we've said, that Trump led with it and focused exclusively on it while attacking Angela Merkel and Germany is notable.
This is a family photo that doesn't look all that warm. I don't know that Thanksgiving dinner would be a ton of fun with these folks right now.
BERMAN: No. The issue is who's the crazy uncle here at this family photo? And look, they're looking around right now and they're posing for the 10 seconds they were all asked to pose.
And later on, they will have these meetings. The president will meet one-on-one with French President Emmanuel Macron, standing right there. He'll also meet one-on-one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Macron is speaking with.
Now, we have not seen the president interact at all with Macron. We haven't seen the president even give a handshake to Angela Merkel yet. Maybe it happened behind the scenes but it hasn't happened out here for all of us to see and I think people are waiting to see it.
They have heard the president's criticism of military spending. They have heard the president's direct criticism of German policy. What they have not heard is the call for unity.
There's the Dutch prime minister right there who directly contradicted President Trump in the Oval Office just last week on issues of the European Union and trade.
AVLON: That's right. And, you know, Macron and Merkel really are holding together the E.U. They are the defenders of liberal democracy in these international institutions right now. Fascinating in part because, of course, these two countries spent much of the first half of the 20th century at war.
[07:55:10] And as Angus King pointed out, since the advent of NATO we've had the longest period of peace in NATO really since the 1500s.
CAMEROTA: He's speaking to Theresa May, British prime minister. She obviously is beleaguered. There's all sort of turmoil and tumult happening in her cabinet and back at home in terms of Brexit.
And so look, this is -- what's so interesting about this picture to me is this is the world order, right? So right there in freeze-frame was the world order. But as we have been watching, it -- the sands are shifting and it appears to be --
CAMEROTA: -- new alliances and different alliances forming.
BERMAN: It was the world order. The question is, is it still the world order? Will it be the world order tomorrow? And perhaps most importantly, will it be the world order after Monday?
The president here at NATO today meeting with NATO leaders. Tomorrow he goes to Britain to have more talks with Theresa May, whom he's speaking with right now. And then Monday, he'll go to Helsinki and speak with Vladimir Putin.
And pay close attention. Where are the words spoken more fondly? Here in Brussels with America's traditional allies, tomorrow when he goes to England with Theresa May?
Or is it going to be Monday with Vladimir Putin? President Trump has said perhaps that will be the easiest meeting he's had -- the easiest meeting with Russia's leader -- Russia, who has occupied Crimea; Russia, who meddled in the U.S. elections. He feels that meeting will be easier than the one that he is in right now.
CAMEROTA: So we had Ambassador Pickering on earlier, who had been the ambassador to Russia and the U.N. and he said that he believes this alliance is strong enough to withstand this tumultuous time that we're seeing right here.
However, when I said is it fraying, he scoffed and chortled and said it has frayed but he believes it is strong enough to withstand through Monday that this will still be the world order.
AVLON: If the test is staying alive through Monday, that's not a great sign of the health of the alliance.
Obviously, this is the great alliance that has solidified peace but as John Berman points out, if it -- you know, the real test is will it be going forward in the 21st century. If it's not, what's the alternative? The alternative doesn't --
AVLON: -- look too good.
BERMAN: And it's interesting. We did see the president speaking to Theresa May. Just bringing you up to speed on the strangeness of the last few days vis-a-vis Great Britain.
Theresa May has had two key cabinet members resign and yesterday, the president made sure to point out the political turmoil in England. And he actually said he might meet with one of these cabinet
secretaries who resigned in protest of Theresa May -- Boris Johnson, who was the foreign secretary. The president says yes, I like him and he likes me. I might meet with him when I'm in England.
That's extraordinary for a president to say on a trip -- his first trip as president to England to meet with the official government there to say I'm going to meet with someone who just quit the government and stands in opposition to the leader of that government.
CAMEROTA: And, as you know, he identifies more with Boris Johnson than he does perhaps with Theresa May.
But look, John, I think it's worth reminding everybody that the president promised to break the mold. He has long been talking about how the United States has been getting the short end of the stick from NATO.
He has believed that for a long time. This is -- he's not a newcomer to this feeling. He's believed it for years. He's said it many times on the campaign.
And this is one place -- well, I mean, look, we've seen him fulfill other campaign promises but this is one where he's been consistent in terms of --
AVLON: He has been consistent about that gripe for decades. The question is, if President Trump is a disrupter, to what end? What does he want to build after the disruption?
BERMAN: Well, he is a disrupter. I don't think there's any if --
AVLON: No question.
BERMAN: -- before that phrase. I think the question is exactly how you put it, to what end? What is the world left with after this?
Does it achieve the goals that NATO has wanted to achieve in the past, which was standing in opposition as a bulwark (ph) against originally Soviet aggression, communism since 2001, and very much a focus on terrorism?
Will it stand together as it has in the past? Will they have confidence in the commitment? Will the European leaders have the confidence that the United States will be there for them as they have in the past?
Not a lot of smiles here. I mean, I know it's a stern moment and they're looking ahead during the anthem here, but there seems to be no inclination to make light of this moment.
CAMEROTA: John, you've made the point that this -- if there is discord among NATO, it is the stated goal -- or I don't know if it's stated but it's the obvious goal of Russia, so much so that the U.S. Intel Community -- the month that President Trump took over the White House -- took over as president -- they sent out a warning that Vladimir Putin and Russia wanted to sow discord with these age-old alliances. And today, Vladimir Putin must be pleased with what he's seeing with the --
AVLON: Yes. I mean, the Intel Community's overwhelming assessment is that they meddled to undermine U.S.-led international institutions, like NATO, and that is the question. The NATO alliance is more frayed than it has ever been in the past and this is a question of American leadership.