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President Trump Criticizes Germany at NATO Summit; Analysts Examine Fraying Relationship between U.S. and NATO Partner; Trump Administration Misses Deadline to Reunite Families; Interview with Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 11, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that is a question. The NATO is more frayed than it has ever been in the past. And this is a question of American leadership. And by the way, it was Trump's own NATO ambassador, Kay Bailey Hutchison, former senator from Texas, who said says discord in NATO is music to Putin's ears.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it is. And it is. We are looking right now live pictures from Brussels. This is the meeting of NATO leaders. The NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg will speak momentarily. This was the family photo. It actually called it the family photo. It's not just a glib name for it. They called it the family photo, the world leaders posing together supposedly in a friendly way, although as we noted we haven't seen many smiles. And Bobby Ghosh who joins us, Nia-Malika Henderson with us as well as we watch this. This follows several hours of what has been a very controversial beginning to these meetings. Let's listen to Jens Stoltenberg right now.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: And we are here today so that future generations can enjoy that same peace and security. We owe our success to our unity, to our resolve, to our ability to change as the world has changed, and above all to the men and women of our armed forces who put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice. So to the thousands of our soldiers, sailors, and air crew serving on operations around the world, let me say we owe you and your families a huge debt of gratitude. You embody what NATO is. Your skill, your professionalism, your determination, you are what makes peace and security possible. You allow us to look to the future with confidence. We honor you here today and thank you for your service.
BERMAN: You're listening to Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, giving brief remarks, thanking the NATO troops deployed around the world in the mutual defense of that alliance. NATO troops have stood side by side with the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The one time Article Five, which is the collective security agreement in NATO, was ever enacted was after 9/11 where all NATO countries joined together in the collective defense of the United States. Bobby Ghosh who joins us right now, we have listened over the last several hours. President Trump went in with very strong rhetoric at the breakfast meeting before this, criticizing the other NATO nations for not spending enough on their own defense, criticizing Germany for an energy deal with Russia. That is the tone he chose to set at the outset of this meeting.
BOBBY GHOSH, EDITOR, "BLOOMBERG OPINION": And to accuse Germany of being under Russian control. Germany is currently led by a woman who knows intimately what it means to be under Russian control. Angela Merkel grew up in East Germany. So it's an especial affront, a special insult to her to make that accusation.
So Stoltenberg just said we are a success to our unity and things like that, but underneath that there is a political reality. NATO owes its existence and its success to the fact that a succession of American leaders thought NATO made sense and thought that NATO ought to act as a bulwark against first the Soviet Union and more recently against Russia. Now you have an American president who expressly does not think that. He does not think of Putin as a threat, as Russia as a threat. If you don't think of Russia as a threat, if you are that gullible that you don't believe Russia is a threat, then it follows that you don't need NATO. In Trump's mind that has got to be the logical conclusion to his basic assessment, which is that Russia is not a threat. If Russia is not a threat, NATO is not necessary.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Nia-Malika, let's just be honest. The president is not steeped in history, in world history. He goes with his gut. And as you know, Nia-Malika, from all of the coverage of the campaign, some of the big applause lines that he would get was that the U.S. is not going to be taken advantage of anymore. We're going to insist that everybody pay their fair share. We're not going to be screwed over. And he is putting that into action, or at least vociferous complaints to NATO around that breakfast table this morning.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. And you're right to recognize how key grievance politics are to Trumpism. This idea that Americans have been taken advantage of by everyone almost, certainly the E.U., China, Mexico sending its immigrants, illegal immigrants over here. So that is so key to Trumpism.
[08:05:07] I think the question is specifically talking about the E.U. there, would anything ever be enough for Trump? What is the end goal here or will the goalposts keep moving? Even the thing that he brought up today in terms of Russia and this energy relationship that they have with Germany, that's something that's new. He's obviously complained about immigration being out of control, particularly in Germany. Obviously a complaint also about the trade relationship there. Is there kind of a relationship and a status of Europe's relationship with America that would please Trump, or is the end goal the complaining in and of itself?
You have situations where Trump has declared victory, for instance with North Korea, declaring that problem over even though it clearly isn't over. Is there a point where you can imagine Trump does the same thing where he's satisfied with whatever sort of resolution of these issues is? If, for instance, they all of a sudden up the ante in terms of their contribution making that two percent, he says he wants it to happen immediately, probably impossible for that to happen for all sorts of reasons. If that happened, would all of a sudden he's like, well, should it be four percent? Should it be five percent?
So that's the question here. So much of Trumpism is complaining about America and how it's been treated and all of the leaders that have come before him have been taken advantage of and as a result Americans have been taken advantage of. If you take that piece out of Trumpism, what's left?
BERMAN: Again, we're looking at live pictures from Brussels, these are the NATO leaders at their annual meeting, some kind of air show they're all watching with military helicopters flying by. The president, as you know, likes a parade, likes military shows of force. The world looking for signs, though, the world looking for signs and symbolism from this meeting. And walking into this photo-op we saw something very interesting. It was all the NATO leaders gathered together except for president Trump and the Turkish leader Recep Erdogan. And it's safe to say, John Avlon, that Erdogan is the most autocratic leader in NATO.
AVLON: No question about it.
BERMAN: And that was who president Trump chose to walk into the photo-op with.
AVLON: He gravitated to him. And, look, diplomacy is personal, geopolitics are personal. So the fact that they lagged behind the rest of the group and were talking is significant. And no less than NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison just warned last week that Turkey seems to be drifting into Putin's orbit. It's part of this rise of illiberal democracy, this ethnonationalism that's a real threat against liberal democracy of which NATO is a bulwark. So I think that kind of gravitational pull between Trump and Erdogan is notable and interesting.
GHOSH: They have one thing in common --
CAMEROTA: Not a fan of the free press?
GHOSH: Well, there's that, but Erdogan just appointed his son-in-law finance minister, so Trump perhaps has some thoughts about appointing his son-in-law to important positions in government.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting. As we watch --
BERMAN: There he is, the Turkish leader Erdogan right now, talking to Jens Stoltenberg.
CAMEROTA: Well, after Jens Stoltenberg's arm is around him. So that also a show of togetherness.
BERMAN: Well, he's a NATO leader. He's there. It's just an interesting choice that the president made. It could have been with Justin Trudeau, Canada, your neighbor to the north. It could have been with Theresa May, you speak the same language.
CAMEROTA: It could have been with your friend, Emmanuel Macron.
AVLON: One-time friend.
CAMEROTA: One-time, extremely demonstrative with.
BERMAN: We see no touching.
CAMEROTA: Not yet. I think there's still time for the man-shake, the extended man-shake. But as we watch these images I think it's also important for people who are just joining us to recap what the words were that President Trump said this morning. So particularly his beef with Germany and their relationship with Russia and how it impacts the U.S., so let's just remind people of what has already happened this morning with President Trump dressing down NATO at this what was supposed to be a photo-op of a breakfast. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Germany is a captive of Russia, because they got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear. They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it's something that NATO has to look at. I think it's very inappropriate. You and I agree that it's inappropriate. I don't know what you can do about it now, but it certainly doesn't seem to make sense that they pay billions of dollars to Russia and now we have to defend them against Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's the point you're making, Bobby, is that that's the point he wants to get across, that they're giving money to Russia so why should we have to defend all of you against Russia.
GHOSH: Yes. He's trying to undermine the German argument for NATO, the German argument for Germany's contributions to NATO. He's saying if you're doing business with Russia, then Russia is not a threat to you, and then why are you expecting us --
[08:10:00] CAMEROTA: And just to remind people also, the deal they made with Russia was from 2002. It was before Russia became more -- we've seen more bad behavior from Russia of late. They might not have entered into that deal --
GHOSH: And a lot of Germans, a lot of Europeans are quite concerned about that they may have become overdependent on Russia. Several times in the past years we've seen Russia threatening to turn off the tap unless Europe did things that Putin wanted him to do. So it's a legitimate concern, it's a concern Germans have themselves.
But the language is important. To say things like -- look, Obama used tough words against NATO as well. Remember, Obama referred to them as free riders. And back then we thought that was tough language. But to say things like you are in control of Russia, captive to Russia to a woman born and raised in East Germany, that's almost like you're taking a special pleasure in insulting her.
BERMAN: There's an element of I know you are but what am I with it as well. We saw it during the campaign. You're going to call me a liar? No, you're a liar. He's saying, you're saying I'm close to Russia? No, you're close to Russia.
AVLON: I'm not the puppet. You're the puppet. But I think Bobby's point is extraordinarily well-taken, which is that Angela Merkel grew up in East Germany so this has an added level of intended insult. And it's tougher language directed at Merkel and Germany than we have ever heard him direct at Putin and Russia. And again, the idea that the president is going to suddenly talk about the dangers of becoming dependent on petro-dictatorships, this is not -- let's not be naive about that.
CAMEROTA: Nia-Malika, what are you looking at?
HENDERSON: And to do it so publicly. That was the point, the public dressing down of Angela Merkel who is in a very weakened state in many ways in her own country. And we've seen this before with Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, kind of embarrassing her at one point when she was here, talking about the U.S. spying on her at one point. And so we've seen this before.
It's something we could have said privately. At some point I think he's going to have a bilateral meeting with her, a bilateral meeting with Macron. So he has gone in here with a very particular goal here, and part of it unfortunately for Angela Merkel is embarrassing her. And we'll see obviously what comes of these conversations that they have. And when she was here before in America in April, when she was here to talk Donald Trump out of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal -- of course he ended up doing that -- she essentially said, yes, we do have to put more into defense. Germany has to grow up. We can't rely any more on the U.S. to come to our defense.
Germany of course has a baggage laden past with the military and with defense, and she had said for a long time people didn't want Germany to be so present. People were happy with Germany on the sidelines because of all of the havoc it wreaked in World War II. And so she is I think knowing this is a president that wants to upend NATO, that is in some ways favorable in terms of Putin and some of the things Putin wants to see as well. So we'll see what happens. But I think they'll all try to put a good face on this, that the NATO alliance is strong and that it's here to ensure prosperity and peace for future generations.
BERMAN: It will be interesting to see how far president goes. It will also be interesting to see how much these European leaders are willing to take. Will they draw a line where they say hey, enough? We saw it with Justin Trudeau in the G-7 summit. Will it happen here? So far it hasn't. And I'm not sure it will. We'll be watching this very carefully. Bobby, Nia-Malika, thanks very much.
One note is tomorrow I'm going to be in London.
CAMEROTA: You are? Thank you for letting me know.
BERMAN: I wanted to break it to you softly, I won't be here. The president after going to Brussels will go to London, he'll meet with the British Prime Minister Theresa May. A whole host of issues as this trip continues.
CAMEROTA: It will be great to have you there. Meanwhile, the other story we've been following for so long, how the Trump White House is dealing with these separated families. They were supposed to reunite the kids five years old and under, the most tender aged kids, yesterday. It didn't happen, so we will be getting reaction from a governor who has been demanding answers.
[08:17:53] BERMAN: The Trump administration officially missed a court-ordered deadline to reunify 102 children separated from their parents at the border by the U.S. government. As of Tuesday evening, just 38 families have been reunited.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in McAllen, Texas, with an update -- Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, 38 is not a very good start to this reuniting process. The court had hoped they would be able to reunite 54, perhaps 59, perhaps as many as 63 in the first day or the first hours of this reunification ordered by the California court. The HHS, Health and Human Services, says it is trying to make those reunifications. Trying to check parentage and making sure they have the right parents.
But all of this from a policy without any sort of thought about how they were going to put the children back in the arms of parents who the government took away. This is a bad start because they have thousands more kids they need to repatriate with their families on July 26. That process in the hands of that judge.
They have worked out a deal that there will be an expedited process rather than what HHS wants to do which is take a month, two months to get those families back together. They will try to figure out who the parents are very quickly with existing documents, perhaps DNA in some cases and get those families back together. But just a story that is incredible to see play out because the government never gave one thought to how they were going to put them back together -- Jinn.
CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Miguel.
Yes, you're right. It's hard to explain what is happening there at the border and we're very happy to have you there.
The Trump administration missed the deadline, as Miguel was saying, to reunite all of the children under five years old with their parents, a court-ordered deadline. Of the estimated 102 families with the littlest kids, only 34 were expected to be reunited by midnight last night.
[08:20:02] We actually don't have any updated numbers.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer pressed the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on this missed deadline and why his department will not allow news cameras into the detention centers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We want to be transparent. We have nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities, our grantees -- it's one of the great acts of generosity and charity that we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who were struggled into our country or come across illegally. So, we don't have anything to hide about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Joining us now to talk about all of this, we have Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. He's one of six governors who wrote a letter to HHS and DHS asking for the plan to reunite these separated children.
Governor, thanks so much for being here.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: You bet, thank you.
CAMEROTA: Did you hear what the secretary of health and human services just said? This is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, the fact that these kids have been separated from their parents and the government can't reunite them on time.
INSLEE: Well, I know I'm not alone in expressing national nausea hearing the secretary say that, because we know this policy was intentionally inhumane. It was intentionally designed to terrorize families. it was an act of intentional incompetence, not accidental incompetence. I've seen coat check systems --
CAMEROTA: Yes, you get a number with a number.
INSLEE: You get a ticket with a number of it because they never had a plan to eventually reunite these parents. So, I guess we shouldn't be shocked but we should be maddened and we should be insistent, and we should ride these folks like a cheap mule to get this job done.
Look, he told us last week they were going to get this job done by Tuesday. He told us, the governors --
CAMEROTA: So, meaning, when you sent the letter demanding answers, what was the response?
INSLEE: Well, he had told us they were going to get this done, we didn't trust them. And in turns out that distrust was appropriate. We were concerned about their eventual plan and they had noun. And, by the way, you look at the scope of this, there are thousands of children, not just dozens.
CAMEROTA: The number they gave us last week. He can't give a specific number because they don't know the specific number. They cared so little about separating these kids from their parents that they didn't track them and don't have an exact number.
He said up to a thousand, no more -- sorry, no more than 3,000, up to a thousand. But even with the littlest kids, these are toddlers and babies under five and they were not able to do it.
So, they assured you? Did they tell you the process was --
INSLEE: They didn't tell the process because they had none. They said they would get the job done.
Look, I think you need to step back and understand the depths of depravity coming out of Donald Trump. You need to understand the scenes you are seeing of mothers being reunited with their three-year- olds and the three-year-olds don't recognize their mothers and don't want to go back to their mothers.
Can you imagine the pain associated with that? I'll tell you who can imagine it, Donald Trump because this was an intentional infliction of cruelty and inhumanity. So we have got to be robust, we got to elect Democratic governors like me so we can stand up against this. We have to have comprehensive immigration reform and we've got make sure their cruelty is overcome by compassion and we can do that if we keep fighting on this.
CAMEROTA: When President Bush botched the response to Katrina, he took so much heat. His poll numbers went down and people talked about it all the time, how the federal government failed those people. That was different. That was an act of nature.
CAMEROTA: This was intentional. Do you sense the public is demanding the same type of criticism or whatever, leveling the same time of criticism on this administration, that this was an intentional problem that they are not able to fix?
INSLEE: It is. It was an intentional hurricane. George Bush didn't cause Katrina. He just didn't respond to it.
This was an intentional hurricane but what we have learned from this is that the Trump administration's chaos can be overcome by our Constitution. I'm glad that my state is in court suing to protect these children. We need to have guardians of the Constitution, I'm glad we're fighting tooth and nail, but we need more allies.
We do understand, if we speak up, we can win. Look, Donald Trump folded like a cheap suit when the American people -- both Republicans and Democrats -- were offended by this policy. So, we know we can win these battles if we speak up and we are resilient.
CAMEROTA: Quickly, I want to ask about ICE. As you know, there is a groundswell of Democrats calling for ICE, the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency, to be abolished because of this. Do you think ICE should be abolished?
INSLEE: Well, I voted against ICE in the first place. I've always been a critic of it and we can consider reorganization.
But we do need to understand this. We can't let Donald Trump get off by just putting a new name on a new agency because he is the source of the problem.
CAMEROTA: But if you get rid of ICE, what do you have? What's the point of getting rid of ICE?
INSLEE: Well, that's the point. You would still have Donald Trump, a callously indifferent person to the needs of children and families, and that's why we have to --
[08:25:01] CAMEROTA: I mean, you would still have a border issue. Without ICE, how would you enforce people trying to sneak across the border?
INSLEE: That's why, eventually, you would have to have some other reorganization of the agency.
The point I want to make is the master of this problem is in the White House. Donald Trump is responsible for this cruelty and inhumanity. We should hold him responsible and we can't let him change the name on agencies. He has to be held responsible.
We have to elect people who will hold him responsible, Democratic governors and members of Congress. We have to go to court to fight him and we have to be robust to win this battle, and I believe we can if we will be at the barricades and that's where we are.
CAMEROTA: Governor Jay Inslee, thank you very much for being here.
INSLEE: Thank you. You bet. I appreciate your caring about these kids.
CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here in studio.
BERMAN: Alisyn, we'll stay on that story with those children until they are reunited with their families.
We're watching Brussels this morning. The president meeting with NATO leaders. This meeting gone off to a very contentious start. The president criticizing America's biggest allies.
We'll speak to a Republican senator about this, next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump wasted no time blasting America's allies at the NATO summit as breakfast was served. Here's the president taking aim at Germany.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they were getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.