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President Trump Heads to the UK After NATO Summit; Interview with Representative Bob Goodlatte; President Trump Reportedly Criticizes NATO Member Leaders in Emergency Meeting; President Trump Leaves NATO Summit for United Kingdom. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 12, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Should he do that?
KEN STARR, LED INDEPENDENT COUNSEL INVESTIGATION OF PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, absolutely not. There's no indication in that Minnesota law review article that he has prejudged an issue. He made a policy recommendation. I think we should encourage our judges based upon their experience, their philosophy, their opinions to set those opinions forth.
CAMEROTA: Ken Starr, thank you very much for sharing your experience with him with us.
STARR: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So we are following as much breaking news this morning. Let's get right to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your new day. It is Thursday, July 12th, 8:00 in New York. I'm in London where President Trump will be heading here very soon. In fact I am just told he is wheels up from Belgium on his way to England.
Just a short time ago in an impromptu news conference, President Trump essentially declared victory over America's NATO allies, saying that he has received promises from them to pay more in defense spending. Two notable things here. Think about it, declaring victory over your ally, that is notable in and of itself. And number two, his claim that he earned commitments for more defense spending, it is unclear whether that is true. French President Emmanuel Macron saying all that NATO agreed to was what they put out in a communique overnight saying that what was in place to increase spending by 2024, that is still in place. So a lot to discuss, a lot to figure out exactly what is going on here.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins still in Belgium where the president just departed. Kaitlin?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, the president making several stunning statements during that last-minute press conference which was not on the schedule and reporters were rushed into the room after the president had sent NATO essentially into an emergency session because of the president's comments about NATO, then he came out to reporters declaring victory, saying that NATO changed a lot over the two days and that the countries involved in NATO agreed to up their defense spending.
Now, that doesn't seem to be true, John, because we are hearing from the French president who is pointing to that joint statement that President Trump and other leaders signed yesterday which only committed them to spending two percent of their GDP on defense spending, a pledge they made years ago and agreed to hit by 2024. That is still the agreement from what the president is saying, and that's also what the president said during that press conference. He started out by saying they agreed to pay more than we had ever see them pay before. They agreed to substantially up their commitment. But then later on in that press conference you heard from the president himself say that they agreed to spend two percent of their GDP on defense.
That is not anything new here, John. That is what they already agreed to do. So it's unclear why the president is declaring victory and saying that they're agreeing to spend more because they pledged to meet that two percent.
Now to be clear, a lot of countries are not at that two percent. A lot are actually far from it. They have until 2024 to meet that goal but a lot aren't on track to meet it. The president is saying they will be meeting two percent, that he doesn't doubt that they won't meet two percent of their GDP on military spending, but that is nothing new than what it was before the president showed up in Brussels. That was already what they'd agreed to do, so really they are just repeating their pledge despite the president saying otherwise.
We also saw some stunning statements from the president really committing to the NATO alliance, saying that he has great faith in them and that they are a fine-tuned machine. Listen to what he said during that press conference about it which sounds a lot different than what he said just a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO, and now people are going to start, and countries are going to start upping their commitments. So I let them know yesterday, actually, I was surprised that you didn't pick it up, it took till today, but yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment. And now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, the White House said yesterday that the president suggested to these countries that they up their defense spending to four percent of GDP, a standard that not even the United States meets yet, but it is not clear that any of those countries committed to doing that. So if the White House does that, it is not clear that any countries have committed to spending far beyond that two percent of their GDP.
So to sum up, essentially, John, the president created this crisis within NATO, sent them into an emergency session, held this last minute press conference declaring victory without making any clear statements about what it was that he had changed about NATO, and now he's wheels up, headed for London for another meeting that will also be highly scrutinized. John?
BERMAN: All right, thank you so much, Kaitlan Collins in brussels, I appreciate it. Again, the president on his way to the United Kingdom where I am right now.
[08:05:05] Joining me, CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour. Also with me Luke Harding, foreign correspondent for "The Guardian." Christiane, we're trying to get to the bottom of the facts here because things just aren't clear despite what the president said in his 40-minute news conference. And he did say some things that are flat out not true. He said that the United States defense spending makes up 90 percent of NATO defense spending. That's just not true. It's somewhere around 70 percent. He said he earned new commitments for increased spending from NATO members. We cannot determine if that is, in fact, the case. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said they agreed to nothing more than what they had already agreed to. What are you hearing?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, we hope to reveal all to you shortly because I do have an interview with Jens Stoltenberg who is the NATO secretary general, who we all know famously faced off with President Trump in that breakfast meeting, and who was obviously in the room and will be able to tell us the precise parameters of what happened.
But you can see already there is confused reporting about it. However French media are reporting that their president, Emmanuel Macron, said there's no change to the roadmap that calls for the countries to up their spending to two percent, that famous two percent that was agreed back in 2014 and that should be implemented by all members by 2024. Apparently there's no change in that. There's no agreement on four percent according to individual leaders, and that was pulled out of thin air. Nobody quite knows where they came from.
What is interesting is that President Trump, throughout all the sort of bluster and the me, myself, and I, and NATO's stronger than it was two days ago when I arrived here, what he did say is that NATO is vital, NATO is strong, and NATO is unified, those are important words to come from the president of the United States, particularly as he heads off to Russia.
BERMAN: That NATO is vital line, I'm so glad you brought that up, because he did say it clearly. He did say NATO is vital, and in a way it's the first time we have heard it over the course of these two days as he's been highly critical of NATO allies and specifically critical of Germany. And let me bring you into the discussion. The context of this news
conference was we understood the secretary general called an emergency session of NATO leaders today, and inside that session the president was threatening his allies, saying that the United States will do its own thing. I will do my own thing, the reports are, if you do not increase your defense spending.
LUKE HARDING, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, "THE GUARDIAN": Yes, that's what I'm hearing, that he was going around the table berating people, particularly the Germans, the French, the Canadians.
BERMAN: One by one, I'm told.
HARDING: One by one, almost telling them off like a school master saying that they haven't done their homework. This is not normal, John. This is an astonishing state of affairs. This is unprecedented in the 70 years of western security architecture.
And I think what's interesting is, as Donald Trump comes to London, as you say, is there's a big question for Theresa May and others. Is Donald Trump's America an ally of the United Kingdom or is it some kind of an enemy? And I think it's extreme nervousness here as to what will happen and what the president will say next.
BERMAN: I will tell you, what you just said, the president would agree 100 percent with the first half. This is unprecedented. We have not seen this before. Donald Trump and his supporters would just say, yes. And we're getting what we want out of this, which was a greater commitment to defense spending from our NATO allies, something that past presidents haven't been able to do.
HARDING: Yes, but the shadow hanging over this trip is of course what happens on Monday when Trump meets with Vladimir Putin. And I have to tell you that the KGB has spent decades trying to think up plans as to how to divide a America from Europe, how to split or fracture NATO. And Trump wanders into Brussels, hosts an emergency press conference, and does precisely that.
BERMAN: I think it's a good point. Of course you were stationed in Moscow for a long time. You know what you're talking about here.
Christiane, on that point, on Vladimir Putin, some fascinating language, and a couple of points I want to bring up here. Number one, the president would not rule out accepting Russian annexation of Crimea. He was flat out asked about it, wouldn't rule it out. And the president won't rule out cancelling joint NATO exercises with the Baltics which are so important to those states which fear Russian incursions. And specifically on Vladimir Putin and whether he would bring up election meddling. What the president said is all I can say is did you, and don't do it again. Is that true?
AMANPOUR: Well, look, obviously there's a lot more the president can do, and one of the things he can do is go into a meeting fully squared shoulder to shoulder with the NATO alliance so there is an impregnable wall of western democratic military and security alliance. And that is what the allies were hoping for. On several issues that you just brought up, it is very difficult to
see how that is going to be a win-win situation. Cancelling joint maneuvers with the Baltic states who were the front line, as you correctly mentioned, of butting on to the former Soviet Union and being aggressed, there has been so many tests and probing over the last few years by Russian aircraft and personnel and others into certain -- breaching certain Baltic frontiers and airspace, all that kind of aggressive stuff has been going on.
[08:10:21] To cancel joint exercises just almost reminded me of what he said to Kim Jong-un. OK, we'll cancel joint exercises with South Korea. But what do you get in return? So this is a big, big issue if that does happen.
And then the idea of accepting the annexation of Crimea, well, none of the western allies accept that, and nor did the deputy secretary of state who I interviewed just before this trip. He said absolutely not, the United States position is absolutely clear. Crimea is a part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, and that is what we as the United States believe.
So there are mixed messages going on. My fear, John, is that we tend to be missing the big picture in all these little firecrackers and major firecrackers that the president keeps throwing out successfully and distracting and deflecting successfully. So the big picture is, for instance, Victoria Nuland told me yesterday, she was a former ambassador to NATO, is that these new days, the summit in Brussels, the summit in Helsinki, in her words will determine whether the United States of Donald Trump will bolster American leadership around the world or whether it signifies its death knell. That is important. In other words, kill it off, those were her words. And we have to keep that in mind. That is the paradigm under which all of this is happening right now.
BERMAN: And, again, I think that was the concern that we were hearing two hours ago while this emergency session was going on. All of our phones were going off with text messages from people connected to it with the word the president was threatening to go it alone, saying he would do his own thing if he did not get his way. And then the White House had to put out a statement, our Jeff Zeleny reporting, that senior officials are saying no, no, no, the United States does want to stay in NATO. That's a remarkable thing from a senior official from the administration to have to say. That is not supposed to be in contention, Luke. That's supposed to be a layup, as is U.S. acceptance of the annexation of Crimea. Any western leader should just say, no, no, we're not going to accept it.
HARDING: That's right. And if I were a leader of a Baltic nation today I would be extremely anxious because Trump has already equivocated about Article Five, this common defense treaty, if Lithuania or Latvia is attacked or subverted, then NATO allies should all jump in and help. Now Trump seems to be rowing back from there.
And there's a context to all of this. We had a war in Georgia in 2008. We had an annexation of Crimea in 2014, and really a covert war launched by Russia in the east of the country in which 10,000 people have died. This is in Europe, this is where we're talking now. And we also have a history of Putin doing something rather unexpected after major sporting events, bear in mind the World Cup ends on Sunday. So I think all eyes next week once Trump and Putin leave will be to see what the Kremlin does next.
BERMAN: This is not an abstraction for Ukraine, this is not an abstraction for Georgia or the Baltic states. And we should say, the president arrived late, 30 minutes late to the scheduled meeting at NATO today that was designed initially to discussion Russian aggression toward Ukraine and Georgia. He arrived late to the meeting.
Christiane, the president in the air right now coming here to the United Kingdom. You talk about the big picture here. You talk about the notion of whether or not the president will disrupt the world order. Part of that world order, yes, it's NATO, but part of that world order is also the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. Talk to me about the status of that special relationship and what might happen here over the next two days.
AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right. It used to be a given that the relationship between the United States and Britain was solid, rock solid, even through differences of opinion on war, peace, and other such things. But shoulder to shoulder has always been the term that both sides have always used. We actually haven't heard that much since the inauguration of 2017. And we've seen instead President Trump actually consistently tweet against Prime Minister May, picking huge fights with the mayor of London gratuitously, Sadiq Khan, talking about meeting an essential -- I don't know how to phrase it, but a back stabber of the prime minister, the former foreign secretary who has resigned over disagreement we thought he agreed with. All of these things are very troubling.
The Brits would love to have this special relationship stay solid because it transcends a person, and it's about trade, security, and all those things, so they really, really need this relationship to continue.
But the Europeans have started to say that America first is the new -- it is America alone to an extent. It is America isolating to an extent. They believe that President Trump is consistent in not worrying about maintaining the integrity of the Western alliance and laying the groundwork, whether it's strategic or not, but in his own mind, for pulling back and doing certain things on a purely bilateral and transactional way rather than in a multilateral alliance way as has been the case for the last 70 years.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is interesting. Christiane Amanpour, Luke Harding, thanks so much for being with us.
I do think the president was trying to cut some slack perhaps to British Prime Minister Theresa May. He did two things that were interesting. Number one, he said that Brexit it isn't up for him to decide so he isn't going to weigh in on that which is so contentious here today and tomorrow and going forward in Britain.
The other thing is he held this long news conference when he was in Belgium. Maybe an indication that he's going to be relatively quiet here when he gets to the United Kingdom. He is in the air right now on his way to London. There are some large protests awaiting him on his first official trip to the United Kingdom as president.
Nick Paton Walsh here on the ground with a preview -- Nick.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this is pretty much the closest he's going to get to Central London. He's going to be here a matter of hours, so much they're planning about keeping him away from these tens of thousands potentially of people who mostly on Friday, some around this area now as ahead, will be expressing their displeasure.
Even the mayor of London Sadiq Khan has authorized for a couple of hours a six-meter tall inflatable baby version of Donald Trump holding a mobile phone to float above where you are standing but still Donald Trump himself perhaps focusing on the political turmoil he says he's walking into here. Here's what he said earlier on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to a pretty hot spot right now, right? With a lot of resignations. There might be protests but I believe that the people in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, as you know I have property in Ireland, I have property all over, I think that those people, they like me a lot and they agree with me on immigration and I think that's why you have Brexit in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: Well, what a simplification but factually wrong. Some polls suggest 90 percent of Britons do not approve of the job he's doing as U.S. president. They will be on the streets, many of them. There will be a small potentially violent fraction welcoming Donald Trump on Saturday near the Houses of Parliament but there are 4,000 police being drafted on the streets. Their leave cancelled, an operation that could cost an excess of about $15 million by some estimates. Extraordinary level of disruption and even for all of that, too, Donald Trump not really offering a hand of political friendship for Theresa May, she's in a tight spot.
He said he might meet her recently departed secretary -- Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson possibly. It could be a potentially frosty meeting. Even her statement didn't mention him by name in the most recent hours as she looked ahead toward that particular visit -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Nick. Thank you for previewing all of that for us. We will be watching.
Meanwhile, one of the things that President Trump said in that press conference is that he will bring up election meddling with Vladimir Putin but he also said if he denies it what can you do? We'll get congressional reaction next.
[08:21:53] CAMEROTA: In an impromptu news conference this morning, President Trump hinted at what he and Russian president Vladimir Putin may talk about when they meet this week. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm meeting with President Putin on Monday and I think we go into that meeting not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria. We will of course ask your favorite question about meddling. I will be asking that question again. You know, what am I going to do? He may deny it. I think it's one of those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let's bring in Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte. He's the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: There was also a part there where President Trump said, all I can say is, did you do it, and don't do it again. Do you agree that that's all the president of the United States can say or do when he encounters Vladimir Putin about election meddling?
GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, I think it's important that the special counsel, Mr. Mueller, continue the investigation to find out whether indeed there was meddling on the part of the Russians. To the extent that he has indicted some Russians, with regard to meddling in the election, not evidence that it involved the Trump campaign but general meddling, I think it's appropriate for the president to ask Mr. Putin about that and about those indictments and get a response from him, absolutely.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that the president should be more full throated in his condemnation when he encounters Putin and take some punitive measure?
GOODLATTE: Well, I don't know about the punitive measure. I think this investigation is still ongoing but I certainly think it's an issue that the president should raise with Mr. Putin.
CAMEROTA: In terms the way he described it? What can you do? I'm going ask him, if he denies it, what can you do? Or in stronger terms?
GOODLATTE: Well, I think that the president needs to talk to Mr. Putin about this issue and get his responses and press him on the facts that are available to the president.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what else the president has done while in NATO. Have you been watching? Did you watch the press conference? GOODLATTE: No, I thought I was going to be talking about the hearing
we're having today and the interview --
CAMEROTA: We are. We are.
GOODLATTE: -- we're having tomorrow with regard to Lisa Page.
CAMEROTA: I promise. I promise. We are going to get to that. But one question about the president, he has been quite single mindedly focused on getting the other countries to pay their fair share. Is that what you were expecting from the NATO summit? What were you hoping he would come back with?
GOODLATTE: Well, I think that's a very, very, very important issue to raise, and in particular with people's legitimate concern about the actions and ambitions of Vladimir Putin to say to our NATO allies that the United States pays a greatly disproportionate share of the cost of NATO and the European countries are the prime beneficiaries of NATO as close neighbors and even customers of Vladimir Putin.
They've made the decision a number of years ago to not produce as much domestic energy and buy more natural gas and oil from Mr. Putin.
GOODLATTE: They need to maintain a strong military and they need to pay their fair share so I think that's a very legitimate thing for the president to raise.
[08:25:06] CAMEROTA: Let's move on to the topic that you'd like to talk about which is Lisa Page. She of course is the FBI lawyer who has become embroiled in the fight between President Trump and Robert Mueller in terms of this investigation. She was supposed to appear in front of lawmakers -- yourself included, I believe -- yesterday. She did not appear. You have now offered her a couple of options. Either she can appear in private later this week or in public next to Peter Strzok to testify. If she does not do so what are the consequences?
GOODLATTE: Well, the consequences are that she could be held in contempt of Congress. However, late last night through her attorney Lisa Page did agree to appear tomorrow before the Judiciary Committee and to have a voluntary interview which is the start of our being able to get the answers to questions we've had for seven months now so we're pleased with that development. I'll be able to share more details later because those details are being worked out right now.
CAMEROTA: Open or closed hearing?
GOODLATTE: This will be a private interview.
CAMEROTA: And what she had asked for was she wanted access to some documents in order to prepare her answers for whatever you're going to ask her. Were you -- did you grant her some of the things that she and her lawyer were asking for?
GOODLATTE: Yes, primarily she wanted access to documents that are held by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However she and her attorney never reached out to them and request them. In fact the FBI noting that she had a deposition scheduled for yesterday reached out to her and said, hey, if you need to examine these document we will make them available to you. They also restored her security clearance which was taken away when she was no longer employed at the FBI and all that was made available to her.
She then went earlier in the week to the FBI. Looked at some documents but did not look at everything and then decided not to appear the next day. We don't know why that is. We have a lot of questions for her but the main questions we have are related to her knowledge of the facts surrounding the events in 2016 and leading into 2017 relating to both Hillary Clinton's investigation and the so- called Trump collusion, Trump-Russia collusion investigation which she had involvement with both of during the presidential election in 2016 and she exchanged many, many thousands of texts with Peter Strzok which reflect upon extreme bias on the part of both of them with regard to their attitude toward these individuals that is very disturbing in terms of making sure that this type of behavior by lead FBI agents and attorneys involved in this investigation never be allowed to happen again.
CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman, we will look forward to getting an update from you on what you learn.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte, thank you very much for being on the show.
GOODLATTE: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right. John Berman is in London as he has been all morning reporting on all of the rapid-fire developments from NATO -- John.
BERMAN: It is very busy. The president in the air right now, on his way here to the United Kingdom. He won't get very close to Central London, he's avoiding this space over the protest, but so much controversy over this NATO meeting. He says that he was victorious in getting concessions from other NATO leaders. Was he? We'll discuss next.