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Trump: Don't Believe What You See and Hear; Senate to Grill Pompeo on Trump/Putin & North Korean Summits; Trump Concerned by Russia Interference in Midterms to Help Democrats; Trump & Juncker Joint Press Conference on Trade; Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin; Interview With Rep. Ryan Costello. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 25, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The year is 2018, not "1984," but the sentiment is eerily similar to George Orwell's dystopian novel. The president of the United States saying it's not just the media lying to you but now your own eyes are deceiving you as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening. Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was yesterday at an event for veterans.
Let's bring in CNN's politics reporter, Chris Cillizza.
Chris, the president there having, what some are describing, an Orwellian moment.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. Look, Wolf, this is a book that probably everyone read at some point in your high school or collegiate life.
I want to read you a quote from the book that will ring eerily reminiscent. "The party told you to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." I'll add there, Wolf, take it out of the fictional realm, I'll add that, in many authoritarian countries around the world, led by what we would call authoritarian dictators, there's a lot of state-run, state- controlled media. No free and independent press. Basically, you can only believe what the top person tells you to believe.
The thing that worried me the most is not that Donald Trump said it. It's the cheering that you heard in that clip in response to it. I think that is just people cheering because they don't like the media, which is their right, but I wonder what their lives would be like without a free and independent media. BLITZER: While the president is telling people not to believe what
they see or read, they are not being completely honest over at the White House or forthright about what we all saw in Helsinki last week at the summit with Putin, are they?
CILLIZZA: That's right. Let's play a little sound first. This is from the summit last Monday in Helsinki, Finland. Donald Trump/Vladimir Putin being asked questions. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: OK. Now let's go -- what you heard is this, Wolf, over here close to me. "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to do that?" Here's what still is on the official White House Web site as the White House transcript. "Did you direct any of your officials to do that?" That doesn't make a lot of sense because you're missing this whole first part, which says, "Did you want Donald Trump to win," to which Putin responds, "Yes, I did, yes, I did." Now the White House has said -- CNN has reached out. The White House said there's nothing malicious in this. What it is, is, as Putin was having it translated to him in real time in Russian, the question obviously asked in English, a part of it was missed by the official White House stenographers. Those are not appointees. Those are lifetime people. These are not partisans who are keeping track of what's being said. The thing to note is they haven't corrected the record. Everyone agrees this version is what happened. If you listen to that clip we played, this is the version. This is the version on the White House Web site. It's a simple change. You literally cut and paste this and put it here. Don't know why they haven't done it. They should do it. They correct transcripts all the time for less major omissions or something wasn't said properly.
Given what President Trump has said over "would" versus "wouldn't" as related to Russia, given what he said when he said, no, but wasn't talking about no as it relates to Russian targeting, you'd think they would want to change this to accurately reflect the record.
Back to you -- Wolf?
BLITZER: It's unclear why they still haven't fixed it. They've known about this mistake for a week at least.
Thank you, Chris, very much.
As Michael Cohen officially turns on President Trump by releasing a secret audiotape, there's a comment in the tape that suggests there's more being held secret. We'll discuss.
[13:34:14] And a short time from now, lawmakers will grill Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the president's summit with Vladimir Putin. One of those Senators standing by live to join us as we learn what Pompeo is expected to reveal.
BLITZER: And we may finally get some answers about what happened during that secret and closed-door meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. That's because in about an hour and a half or so, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, certainly, likely he'll be asked lots of questions about what happened in Helsinki.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, of Maryland, will be one of the lawmakers questioning Pompeo. He's joining us live from Capitol Hill.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
We learned today that during his testimony, Pompeo's expected to declare that the U.S. will not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. Why didn't the president flatly say that in Helsinki?
SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D), MARYLAND: Wolf, it's mystifying why the president did what he did in Helsinki, why he didn't dismiss out of hand the interrogation by Russia of American citizens, why he was not public in bringing up to Mr. Putin interference in our elections. The list goes on and on and on. But today is the first opportunity that Congress will have to question a high-level Trump official on what happened in Helsinki. And it's also our first opportunity to question in regards to what happened in Singapore with North Korea. This administration has not been forthcoming with the American people or Congress as to what happened in these one-on-one meetings.
[13:40:28] BLITZER: Is there one single question you most want to ask Pompeo about the Trump/Putin summit?
CARDIN: Yes, I want to know what agreements were entered into. I want to know whether Mr. Trump said -- made any commitments in regards to Ukraine, Syria, in regards to election interference, waiving of sanctions. We want to know exactly what was agreed to and, quite frankly, we hope that Mr. Pompeo is in a position to give us clear answers in that regard.
BLITZER: The president now says he is concerned. He is concerned, he says, that Russia is trying to interfere in the midterm congressional elections here in the United States in November, but not to help him or to help him or Republicans, but actually, he says now that the Russians want to help the Democrats, your party. Do you think the president is setting up an excuse in case Democrats, for example, were to win big in the midterms?
CARDIN: You know, it's hard to predict what the president is saying. Obviously, there's no truth at all to that comment. I wish the president would first actively acknowledge that it was Russia that interfered in our 2016 elections and that he's taking steps to protect us against the potential attacks in 2018 on our election system. But, instead, he's playing politics. You're right. He's very sensitive to the integrity of his election, even though it was compromised by Russia. He's now trying to undermine the 2018 elections by raising doubt as to whether Russia is trying to tip the scales in favor of a party. It's absurd the way he handles this.
BLITZER: The president says he's been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessors. If a bipartisan sanctions bill were placed on his desk, if it's veto proof, I assume he'll sign it. The last was passed by the Senate, 98-2, and he reluctantly signed that. Is the president, as far as you know, actively encouraging Republicans and others to go ahead and pass new sanctions legislation against Russia?
CARDIN: First of all, Wolf, there are sanctions in the bill we passed last year that are mandatory that this administration has not imposed on Russia. So they've already not complied with the law we passed. They ask for a waiver exception in regards to imposing some of these sanctions. So this administration has been very weak in regards to sanctions against Russia. We had to take steps to protect the sanctions from being released by Mr. Trump without consultation with Congress. We are ready to pass another sanction bill to deal with election interference, to deal with strengthening our resolve in regards to Ukraine. It would be helpful if the president would work with us. We don't expect to get any help from the president. But I think there's a strong bipartisan interest to strengthen our sanctions against Russia, particularly in light of the Helsinki summit.
BLITZER: Yes, he's clearly not enthusiastic about the last sanctions legislation.
Quickly, before I let you go, Senator, let me get your reaction to the secret audio recording CNN obtained of a conversation between President Trump, then-Candidate Trump, and his former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. I assume by now you've had a chance to listen to it. What's your reaction?
CARDIN: Well, quite frankly, we're seeing cover-up here. We're seeing an attempt to silence an article from reaching the public. So this is very damaging, I believe, to what the motivations have been to keep information from the public by Mr. Trump.
BLITZER: You're suggesting the president was aggressively working with American Media, the parent company of "The Enquirer," to pay off McDougal so that article would never appear? Is that what you're suggesting?
CARDIN: The recording indicates that they were trying to prevent this from being made public. Who has an interest in that? The only person I can think of is Mr. Trump. Obviously, we need to connect dots. But it very much appears to me this was an effort to keep from the public information about Mr. Trump.
BLITZER: Senator Cardin, thanks for joining us.
CARDIN: Thank you. [13:44:45] BLITZER: Any moment now, we're expecting to hear directly
from President Trump. He's meeting right now on U.S. tariffs with the leader who has openly called his plan stupid. The E.U. representative is here in Washington. And the president is also taking heat from his own party when it comes to trade, the Michael Cohen tapes, his White House invitation to Vladimir Putin. I'll speak with a Republican lawmaker. That's next.
BLITZER: President Trump's in the Oval Office right now with the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker. Watch this.
[13:49:44] TRUMP: Well, thank you very much.
It is an honor to have President Jean Claude Juncker. He's a man I've gotten to know very well. He's a very smart man and a tough man. And he represents his people well and the countries well. And we want to have a fair-trade deal. And we're looking to have a fair-trade deal. And hopefully, we can work something out. Over the years, the United States has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars with the European Union. And we just want it to be a level playing field for our farmers, for the manufacturers, for everybody. And we also want a big beneficiary, frankly, to be the European Union. So we think it can be good for everybody. And that's why we're here to discuss.
Mr. President, thank you very much for coming. Thank you.
JEAN CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Yes. My pleasure, Mr. President. Because I wanted to thank you for having taken the initiative to invite me to the White House. We are close partners, allies, not enemies. We have to work together. We are representing half of the world trade. And $1 trillion is the trade figure between us.
JUNCKER: And so I think that we have to talk each to one another. And that is what we do today. I do think that we should focus on the reducing tariffs instead of increasing them. And that's what we have to do. That's our job.
TRUMP: Well, I agree. If we can have no tariffs and no barriers and so no subsidies, the United States would be extremely pleased. We have many countries -- we won't say the European Union -- we have many countries with massive barriers and massive tariffs. And we have to follow. And you could call it retaliation, but I would rather just say we want reciprocal. So whether it is with European Union or others, it has to be reciprocal in nature at a minimum. And we are working on that. And we're making tremendous strides. We're doing very well with Mexico. We're doing very well with a lot of countries, actually, right now. And -- but this is something -- as Jean Claude said, together, as a unit, we make up actually more than 50 percent of the world trade. That's a big number. That is a big number. So we expect something very positive to take place, but you'll be the first to know.
Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
BLITZER: All right. So the reporters in the pool there are trying to ask the president some questions. Clearly, he was not anxious to answer any questions during that photo op as the reporters were escorted out.
Let's get analysis from Republican Congressman Ryan Costello, of Pennsylvania. He's joining us right now.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
There's a lot of concern about these tariffs that the president has imposed. The speaker, Paul Ryan, says he hates, he opposes the tariffs as they are simply a tax on the American people. The price of all sorts of products is going to go up here in the United States. The president now says on agricultural product, he's willing to come up with a $12 billion bailout to farmers. What is your reaction to this latest dispute?
REP. RYAN COSTELLO, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, very similar to the speaker and many other Republicans on the Hill. This is a self- inflicted wound. This is going to be very damaging to our farmers, to the agricultural sector. You know, using a credit facility created during the Great Depression to create a subsidy for farmers while we hopefully cross our fingers and bring about reducing barriers is something that gives me great pause, because we do not know what the strategy is or what the end result may be. But we do know that, in the meantime, over the past several weeks, the cost to American farmers in getting dairy and getting soybeans to market in foreign countries has been reduced by about 15 percent. And it is expected, through the Department of Agricultural that we are going to see less agricultural output get sold. And that's not a good thing in this economic environment. Where we want our farmers to stand on their own, earn an income without the help of subsidies.
BLITZER: Yes, $12 billion in deficit spending to, in effect, try to appease the farmers out there, the agricultural states. That's a series, serious issue. But do you agree with the speaker that the tariffs represent a new tax on American people? Because the price on all products is simply going to go up.
COSTELLO: Yes, I do. That is just a basic economic piece of the equation. I mean, that's not even in dispute. There are those that may wish to use a different term other than tax, but if I'm buying a product and then tomorrow, as a result of a particular policy of the product, it costs 10 percent more, to me, it's a 10 percent tax. That's what is going to be felt by the American consumer, across a broad section of the economy the longer this goes on.
[13:55:29] BLITZER: So what is going to happen? How do you see this unfolding?
COSTELLO: Well, my hope is that -- and I think all Americans' hope, is that if the president's going to do what the president's going to do here, I don't see -- he's not going to backtrack here. One thing you can say about this president is, he owns who he is. He owns his policies. And he's going to see them through to tend. My hope is that this $12 billion is the backstop that farmers need during this point in time where they're going to lose money. My further hope is during that period of time, the E.U., China, and even those in NAFTA realize that the president is serious, that he's going to see this through, and that they have to come to the negotiating table and that we get better trade deals out of it. I think that's the hope for every single member of Congress, every single American. And while I can, and many others can be critical of the $12 billion subsidy, I think we need it as a result of him imposing the tariffs. We don't like the tariffs. But the hope is that we end up in a better place, months from now, with better trade deals with a host of other countries. The concern is that we don't get there and then have to deal with perhaps another round of subsidies in order to shore up the agricultural sector.
BLITZER: Yes, one of the ironies, and several people have pointed this out, Congressman, the $12 billion could come from China because China would lend the U.S. the money, part of that so-called deficit spending --
COSTELLO: You're very correct.
BLITZER: Yes --
COSTELLO: I'm glad you pointed that out. I'm glad you pointed that out.
BLITZER: That's a real serious issue.
Let's continue this conversation down the road.
Congressman Costello, thank you very much for joining us.
COSTELLO: Appreciate being with you.
BLITZER: The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is standing by to testify up on Capitol Hill. Will he provide any answers to what was said inside that closed-door meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin in Helsinki? We'll have live coverage. That's coming up.
[14:00:08] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It's Wednesday. You're watching CNN.
Here's what we've got for you.