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Trump Insults May; Trump and May to Hold Press Conference; Trump on European Immigration; Trump and May Press Conference. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her coloring book and, as you might expect, you won't be surprised to know it's her first plane flight. She looked out the window. She saw above the clouds. She thought it was amazing. And then she conked out and she slept for the rest of the two hour, 15 minute flight. She got to this airport and then she had to wait three and a half hours with two social workers, who accompanied her on the plane, who stayed with her in the airport and she had to wait because her mother wasn't informed until late in the afternoon, early evening, that her daughter was being freed. So she and her lawyer got into a car in Harlingen, Texas, drove 370 miles in five and a half hours, got here at 3:00 in the morning and that's when the reunion took place.
We've heard that audiotape. It was very poignant. But what was amazing about this audiotape was this little girl saying her aunt's ten digit phone number. She remembered it. They called the aunt. The aunt called the mother. And that's how the mother found out where her daughter was. And now they are together here in Houston, Texas.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Look, that is -- that is the best possible outcome. But, obviously, there are all sorts of kids who don't have an aunt and don't know that ten digit phone number. And so, Gary, I know that you'll continue to be covering what's happening to the other thousands of kids who are looking to be reunited with their parents.
Thank you, Gary, for bringing us this unification. Thank you.
All right, let's get back to John Berman, who is in the U.K. covering all of the drama unfolding there.
John, what's the latest?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, we're just minutes away from the joint press conference by President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May. They've been behind closed doors for two and a half hours now on this meeting after this bombshell of an article where the president undercut the prime minister. What will they say when they face questions? Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:35:28] BERMAN: All right, President Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May, they are minutes away from holding a joint press conference. You're looking at live pictures from outside Chequers right now. That's about 40 miles outside of London, where I'm sitting.
This comes after the president's explosive comments in an interview with the tabloid newspaper, "The Sun," overnight where he really directly undercut the British prime minister, Theresa May, on her stance on Brexit. That's the removal of the U.K. from the United Kingdom. And he flat out suggested that her main political rival, Boris Johnson, would make a great prime minister. So the questions at this news conference, boy, oh, boy, will they be interesting.
Joining me now, former political director for Prime Minister Tony Blair, the former prime minister, Matthew Doyle, CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny. In New York, Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
And, Jeff, since you're with us, I want to go to you.
How does the White House view this moment? I know that they obviously knew the president did this interview. It's unclear to me whether they realized it was so explosive. And it does seem as if they were trying to maybe mop up a little bit overnight.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. We saw -- I mean just the timing of this was so important to witness. As President Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May were at Blenheim Palace, they were being -- you know, he was given the red carpet treatment just shy of a state visit, which, of course, you know, world leaders have seen how to flatter him, how to sort of reach out to him. So there was the music, the soldiers and what not.
As this was happening, the interview had already happened. No one knew it, of course. So the White House clearly was trying to clean this up. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in a late-night statement here in London sent out to reporters saying, President Trump never said she wasn't a good person. Never said anything about her personally. That says a lot that the White House press secretary is saying that, no, he wasn't insulting her, he was talking about the policy.
But perhaps not surprising because we do know, if you look at Donald Trump's circle of advisers, Steve Bannon first and foremost, who is here in London, he is a hard Brexit guy, a Boris Johnson guy. That is who was in President Trump's ear, not some State Department diplomacy person. So that is what President Trump was thinking as he was going into this.
I do not expect him to say similar things face to face when he's with Theresa May, as we saw him already earlier this morning here. He doesn't do that. He says these things in private or in interviews. Face to face, the relationship is special and it's strong. That's what he'll say.
BERMAN: He shies away from confrontation when he's face to face with someone --
BERMAN: Which is ironic given what he's willing to say on Twitter or at an interview when the person is miles away.
BERMAN: Fareed Zakaria, put this in perspective for us.
He was in Brussels meeting with NATO, criticizing NATO leaders. He's in the United Kingdom meeting with the British prime minister, criticizing her policy, tacitly endorsing her main political rival. And this, of course, happening three days before he goes to Helsinki to meet with Vladimir Putin, the leaders of Russia, with whom he never says anything bad.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": John, the comments in NATO were really small potatoes compared to this. In NATO, what Donald Trump did was he expressed often-expressed American demands. President Obama set the 2 percent target that President Trump keeps trying to get the NATO allies to spend up to. That was an Obama policy that Trump was continuing. The criticism of the Germans for the energy pipeline, that's, again, something the Obama administration had criticized the Germans for.
This is a whole different thing. The president has undermined America's crucial -- most crucial ally at a -- probably its most crucial moment in the last four to five decades. I cannot remember a moment since the Suez Crisis in the mid-1950s when there has been such a wide gap between the United States and Britain. The president of the United States has essentially undercut the British prime minister within her own party. Every person who is upset with Theresa May about Brexit is going to now say, well, you see, Donald Trump agrees with me.
It's difficult for me to imagine that Theresa May can hold on to power much longer. And I wouldn't be surprised if in a few months we end up seeing some kind of turnover of government. And the worst part about it is, what Donald Trump has done is he's -- he's taken an irresponsible attitude rather than embrace a policy. That is, there is no such policy as hard Brexit. That is just Britain leave the European Union. They can't do that. It's their largest trading partner. They've got to figure out how to get goods back and forth, how to get trucks back and forth. That's why Theresa May has been trying to square the circle so carefully.
[08:40:08] What Trump did is essentially propose a kind of fantasy alternative that a lot of Britons wish existed, that they could just somehow, you know, get all the benefits of the European Union without any of the costs, and he sided with that fantasy option leaving Theresa May totally undercut, totally undermined. I cannot remember an American president doing something this irresponsible to a close ally, frankly, in American history.
BERMAN: Matthew Doyle, you were an adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Obviously a different party. But you've been in the room with -- in this type of situation before. What's going through Theresa May's head as she prepares to walk out to that microphone and take what will be very tough questions from the press?
MATTHEW DOYLE, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Well, I think she'll be grateful that it's only two questions a side that they've agreed to as their format for that press conference. And, look, when it comes to preparing for it, at least she knows what the questions are going to be about.
But what will also have been frustrating is not just the political embarrassment that this causes her, but actually, inevitably, this will have taken up a lot of the time of actually where we do want to have substantive conversations. Theresa May, other than his caddy in Scotland, is going to be the last person to talk to Donald Trump before he goes to this crucial Putin summit. And there are a lot of issues where she would have wanted to be able to use the time to talk about everything from the Iran deal to Syria to also making the case for U.K. trade relations with America and instead they're going to be having to use some of the time this morning mopping up what's been this "Sun" interview and preparing their lines to take.
BERMAN: Our Jim Acosta is on the ground there at Chequers, where this news conference is about to take place.
Jim, what are you seeing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're waiting for the prime minister and the president to walk out here in the next several minutes. Obviously they have a lot to talk about. And it will be interesting to see how the president handles some of the questions. The British press are known, as the American press are, to not hold back. And so they're probably going to ask some very tough questions about what was said by the president to the "Sun" tabloid.
And, obviously, that discussion you were just having with Fareed Zakaria a few moments ago illustrates I think some of the really damaged relations that the president may be causing on this trip, not just with NATO partners, but now with arguably the closest U.S. ally on the face of the earth. The special relationship feeling not so special this morning over here in the U.K., obviously, because of the president's comments.
And, you know, I think the question is, is whether the president -- I think one of the things we'll all be looking for is what the president decides to say in front of Theresa May and put that up against what he said to the "Sun" tabloid. Obviously what we saw at NATO in Brussels is that the president was comfortable going after Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. But when he had a chance to sit next to her and talk in front of the cameras, he was holding back. He was pulling his punches and did not go after her and described Germany as a captive of Russia and so on when he was face to face with her in front of the cameras.
And so I suspect the president will follow that pattern. We'll see the same thing play out here at Chequers in a few moments. I doubt very seriously that the president is going to speculate about the future of Boris Johnson standing right next to the British prime minister. But, you know, it's a day that ends in y, so anything is possible.
At the same time, you know, the president knows full well he has probably an even more urgent mission coming up after he leaves the U.K. He's going to be meeting with Vladimir Putin. And what we know from talking to our diplomatic sources in Brussels is that European allies and the Brits, they are very, very concerned about how the president will handle the sit down with Vladimir Putin. There are some deep concerns over here in Europe that the president is just going to give away the store when he sits down with the Russian president. So I suspect that could come up as well.
But, guys, I mean, to me, perhaps -- and there's so much in that interview with the "Sun," but to me perhaps the most explosive comments from the president were on the subject of immigration. When the president was talking about immigration changing the fabric, the cultural fabric of Europe, it was just echoing what he has said repeatedly about immigration in the United States. Although in the U.S. he's talked about it being the case of illegal immigration. Over here in Europe, he was just talking about the impact of just immigration. And it sounds as if, when the president talks in that fashion, that he just sort of has this Anglo Euro colored view of the world and that immigration isn't just an affront to him in many cases. And I suspect that some of these tough British reporters over here may challenge him on that as well.
BERMAN: I don't think the president would argue with that.
And, Fareed Zakaria, if I can bring you out to this -- into this discussion, when you talk about Europe losing its culture or the fabric, that means something very specific. It's the language of the far right here on this continent. It's also the language of Steve Bannon. Those are exact words that he has used to describe the United States and things going on here. I mean you've spoken to him about this.
[08:45:07] ZAKARIA: Ever since President Trump has focused on the midterm elections, I have -- and I predicted this -- he has decided to make immigration his central issue because I think he realizes that both in the United States and in Europe it is the cultural unease that people feel about a changing society, about changing demographics that really fires them at the gut. And he is trying to get people at -- you know, at that gut level. And he does it very cleverly and very effectively. It's, again, highly irresponsible.
The thing to remember about Europe is, Europe is now as much an immigrant society as the United States. The number of foreign-born people in Europe, the percentage is about the same as in the United States. There are parts of Europe, like Sweden, which have more foreign borns than the United States. The United States is about 15 percent. I think Sweden is now up to 20 percent.
So immigration is a done deal in Europe. These people are here. They are -- you know, so the question is, how do you integrate them, how do you assimilate them? Pining for some lost Europe is just as pointless as pining for some lost America. You know, the idea make Europe great again, make America great again, this is nostalgia, it's not forward- looking policy. But it appeals to the gut and what Trump is doing here, again, it's a political strategy, it's not a policy strategy and he's playing it hard in European and the United States.
BERMAN: Yes, when I hear phrases like "losing the culture" and "changing the fabric," I often think about when? Which decade's culture are you talking about? What fabric are you talking about? And if you're in Europe, the answer to that question matters a lot and speaks volumes about where your head really is on this subject.
Jeff Zeleny, I want to ask you, we were talking about the issue of the president and confrontation right now. You've covered him for some time. How does he try to massage issues like this? You know, the president, with NATO, did gave a speech where he said NATO was vital after criticizing people there for some time. With the British Prime Minister Theresa May, he said the relationship's never been better, the special relationship is fine, after giving an explosive interview. How will he massage it on that stage?
ZELENY: It's important to know something about President Trump, which I think we have seen over the last year and a half in office and certainly during his time running for president and in private life in New York. He does not need to have a linear strategy. He does not have one set strategy where he's following a course. He is completely fine with saying one thing on Twitter, saying what good is NATO anyway, and then talking about it benefits.
So I think today, here, he has a lot of advisers, a lot of advice in his head. The question I think is, do any of these conversations, one on one with the prime minister and the president, have any effect? She wanted somewhat of a lifeline here. She needs a lifeline here. He said repeatedly in Brussels, I'm not going to weigh in on Brexit. He said it three times. Then, of course, he comes here and does exactly that.
But I think that he is able to multitask, if you will, say one thing confrontationally on Twitter and in an interview, but in public be, you know, incredibly gracious. So I expect him to punt on any of the things -- he will not apologize for the interview. That's something we never see this president do, or very, very rarely. The question I think going forward is, he probably will revert back to public Donald Trump, which is more of a teleprompter Donald Trump, and say, of course it's up to the people of Great Britain here to decide.
But he will not confront her in this moment at all.
Let's remember, this visit is long in the making. The prime minister was the first world leader to come to Washington. We saw them walking along the colonnade. She was hoping to have this strong relationship. It hasn't quite turned out that way as this morning's newspapers indicated.
BERMAN: You suggest British Prime Minister Theresa May wants a life line. If she chose phone a friend and that friend was supposed to be Donald Trump, you know, I think she wasn't happy with who picked up the phone right there. Matthew, can she survive this?
DOYLE: She can survive this, partly because Brexit is, frankly, such a mess that none of the different factions in the debate within the British parliament have actually got a majority at the moment, nor is there someone desperate to pick up the ball and run with it given the incredibly difficult circumstances we are in at the moment.
What we have got is a situation where Theresa May was hoping that this would be seen as a working visit as part of building the new international relationships that we can have post-Brexit, that Britain is still a player on the world stage and yet the problem is, this special relationship, the reason why it matters to Brits is because it's more than about individuals. It's about people and values. And yet when you see Donald Trump making the sort of frankly racist, Islamophobic, misogynist comments that he makes, that's what causes her political problems and that's why so many Londoners, I would argue rightly, are out on the streets today.
[08:50:10] And to be clear to your audience, you know, this is not an anti-American demonstration. This is very clearly a demonstration about a rhetoric that people in this country just do not expect to see from someone who we regard as being from a partner country. And that's why the values debate, particularly ahead of the Putin summit, is what matters so much.
BERMAN: You were telling me that polls of British citizens show that they actually want this meeting to happen. They're not opposed to the idea of this president, President Trump, and the British prime minister holding these meetings now, correct?
DOYLE: Right. There is a pragmatism to this. I mean if you look at the polls, the UGOV polls said 50 to 14 -- 50 to 39 that people were in favor of the visit happening. What they get queasy about is the level of red carpet being rolled out. And we saw last night, let's be honest, I think it would be pretty difficult to tell, looking at those pictures last night, the difference between a working visit and a state visit. And that may sound like diplomatic semantics, but it actually matters. And what damages Theresa May is not just the rhetoric of Donald Trump in the "Sun," but we've got a situation now where the -- as Jeff referred to the pictures in the colonnade or at Blenheim palace last night, there seemed to be more pictures of Theresa May holding Donald Trump's hand in public than the first lady.
BERMAN: We're looking again at live pictures right now at Chequers, where we'll hear from President Donald Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May very shortly. I believe the last U.S. president to hold a news conference at Chequers with the prime minister was George W. Bush prior to September 11th with Tony Blair there.
I understand the speeches or the remarks or the notes -- I'm unclear whether or not they're going to have prepared statements, have been placed on the lectern for both leaders. So we are minutes away. They will walk down those stairs you're looking at right there. I think they'll walk down the stairs together if everything went well behind closed doors and they will address the press presently. Fareed, capture this moment for me in time because today is Friday, Monday the president will appear in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin.
Wait. OK, hang on one second, Fareed. The president and the prime minister emerging from this meeting. There was a brief photo opportunity of the two of them beforehand in the room. The president refused to answer questions about his explosive interview. They both spoke about the special relationship and both claim it is stronger than ever.
There are questions, though, about whether that is, in fact, the case.
Chequers, located about 40 miles or so from London. Chequers essentially the Camp David for prime ministers in the U.K. A place they can go set on many different acres to think and meet.
Let's listen to what they have to say.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, good afternoon.
And I'm pleased to welcome the president of the United States to Chequers today on his first official visit to the United Kingdom. No two countries do more together than ours to keep their people safe and prosperous. And we want to deepen that cooperation even further to meet the shared challenges we face now and in the years ahead.
This morning, President Trump and I visited Sandhurst, where we saw a demonstration of joint working between British and American special forces. Just one example of what is today the broadest, deepest and most advanced security cooperation of any two countries in the world.
Whether it is our pilots deterring the use of chemical weapons in Syria, or defeating Daesh, our soldiers at the forefront of NATO'S presence there eastern Europe, our navy's in the Pacific enforcing sanctions on North Korea, or our unparalleled intelligence sharing partnership thwarting attacks, our security cooperation is saving lives here in Britain, in America, and right across the world.
That partnership is set to grow with our armies integrating to a level unmatched anywhere. And the U.K. set to spend 24 billion pounds on U.S. equipment and support over the next decade.
Today, we've also discussed how we can deepen our work together to respond to malign state activity, terrorism and serious crime. In particular, on Russia, I thanked President Trump for his support in responding to the appalling use of a nerve agent in Salisbury after which he expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers. And I welcomed his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on Monday. We agree that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.
Turning to our economic cooperation, with mutual investment between us already over $1 trillion, we want to go further. We agreed today that as the U.K. leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious U.S./U.K. free trade agreement. The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me too agree to an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies. A deal that builds on the U.K.'s independent trade policy, reducing tariffs, delivering a gold standard in financial services cooperation and, as two of the world's most advanced economies, seizing the opportunity of new technology. All of this will further enhance our economic cooperation, creating new jobs and prosperity for our peoples for generations to come.
[08:55:37] The U.K./U.S. relationship is also defined by the role we play on the world stage. Doing this means making tough calls and sometimes being prepared to say things that others might rather not hear. From the outset, President Trump has been clear about how he sees the challenges we face. And on many we agree.
For example, the need to deal with the long standing nuclear threat of DPRK, where the agreement in Singapore has set in train the prospect of denuclearization to which the U.K. is proud to be contributing expertise, or the need to address the destabilizing influence of Iran in the Middle East, where today we've discussed what more we can do to push back on Iran in Yemen and reduce humanitarian suffering. Or the need for NATO allies to increase their defense spending and capability on which we saw significant increases at yesterday's summit. This includes Afghanistan, where this week I announced a further uplift of 440 U.K. troops, an ongoing commitments to a mission that began as NATO's only use of Article V, acting in support of the U.S.
Finally, let me say this about the wider transatlantic relationship. It is all of our responsibility to ensure that transatlantic unity endures for it has been fundamental to the protection and projection of our interests and values for generations. With U.S. leadership at its foundation, its beating heart remains our democratic values and our commitment to justice. Those values are something that we in the U.K. will always cherish, as I know the U.S. will, too.
It is the strength of these values and the common interests they create that we see across the breadth of our societies in North America and Europe. And that is why I'm confident that this transatlantic alliance will continue to be the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for years to come.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
Prime minister, thank you very much.
And it is my true honor to join you at this remarkable setting, truly magnificent, as we celebrate the special relationship between our two countries. On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for your very gracious hospitality. Thank you very much, Theresa.
Last night Melania and I were delighted to join you and Phillip for dinner at the magnificent Blenheim Palace. It was a wonderful and memorable evening that we will not soon forget. It was really something. Very special.
Today it's a true privilege to visit historic Chequers, that I've heard so much about, and read so much about, growing up in history class, and to continue our conversation, which has really proceeded along rapidly and well over the last few days.
For generations, our predecessors have gathered at this stunning retreat to strengthen a bond that is like no other. The relationship between our two nations is indispensable to the cause of liberty, justice and peace. The United Kingdom and the United States, are bound together by a common historic heritage, language and heroes. The traditions of freedom, sovereignty and the true rule of law were our shared gift to the world. They are now our priceless inheritance to a civilization. We must never cease to be united in their defense and in their renewal.
Before our dinner last night, Melania and I joined Prime Minister May, Mr. May and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough for a tour of the Winston Churchill exhibit at Blenheim Palace. It was something. Something very special. It was from right here at Chequers that Prime Minister Churchill phoned President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. In that horrific war, American and British service members bravely shed their blood alongside one another in defense of home and in defense of freedom. And together we achieved a really special, magnificent victory. And it was total victory.
Prime Minister May and I have just come from a very productive NATO summit, that was truly a productive summit, where my top priority was getting other NATO members to pay their full and fair share. And the prime minister was right there with me.
[09:00:07] I want to thank you, prime minister, for the United Kingdom's contribution to our common defense.