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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump, Mexican President Make Comments After Meeting. Aired 4- 4:30p ET
Aired August 31, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're beginning today with breaking news in our politics lead, a very surprising turn of events in the presidential race. On the same day that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is set to lay out and attempt to clarify lingering questions and concerns about his stance on immigration, specifically whether he will continue to push for a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants from the U.S., Mr. Trump, this same day, is also currently visiting Mexico, meeting with the country's president, Enrique Pena Nieto, who has been quite critical of Mr. Trump's rhetoric about Mexicans, rhetoric that began the day Trump announced his candidacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. And they're bringing those problems with us.
They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN's Jim Acosta is traveling with the Trump campaign.
Jim, Mexico's president, of course, compared Trump's rhetoric to that of Hitler and Mussolini earlier this year. So, how did this meeting come about and what are we thinking that the two men are discussing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, make no mistake. This is not going to be a lovefest between Donald Trump and President Pena Nieto.
They are behind closed doors right now. We expect them to walk out at any moment and have this sort of joint press event. I hesitate to call it a press conference, because we have been getting sort of conflicting signals from both sides as whether there will be questions taken at all. When it is Donald Trump is in the room, anything is possible. It is
possible he could take questions if we start asking questions and he starts answering them. But just to show you around this room, Jake, because I think it's very interesting, you can see behind these two podiums where Donald Trump and Pena Nieto will stand, there is only one flag, and that is the flag of the Republic of Mexico.
There is no U.S. government flag. Obviously, this is not a presidential trip. This is a trip being carried out by the man that wants to be president of the United States. But you just went over very well some of the problems that exist between Donald Trump and this country.
It is an entire country he has a problem with at this point. Not only did Donald Trump in his announcement speech that he was running for president refer to Mexico as sending people who are rapists, people who criminals, people who are selling drugs inside the United States.
He has repeatedly said he wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The former President of Mexico Vicente Fox had some choice words for that that we can't use on live television and so on.
And from what we understand from talking to the campaign is that much of what Donald Trump is saying behind closed doors right now to Pena Nieto is essentially what he will say tonight in his speech in Phoenix, that he is laying out what his immigration proposals are.
There may be some moderation of those proposals, from what we're hearing from talking to aides inside the campaign, that Donald Trump is no longer talking about a mass deportation force that will round up the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, that he is going to be focusing and prioritizing removing those criminal undocumented who exist inside the United States and get to the others later, but that he is very serious, campaign officials say, when it comes to building this wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As impractical and infeasible as that sounds, that is exactly what campaign officials say Donald Trump is serious about. And the other thing that we should point out, Jake, is that they're trying to draw a contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
They point out that this invitation from Pena Nieto went to both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and that it is Donald Trump, despite that checkered history, despite that diplomatic war of words between Donald Trump and various leaders here in Mexico, he is here to feel the heat from these Mexican officials, to feel the heat from the president of Mexico.
And one final thing we should point out. I think you of course know this, Jake, Enrique Pena Nieto is not the most popular politician in Mexico right now. His approval numbers are very low. So, there is something in it for Pena Nieto as well. If he shows sort of a bristling, sort of cold posture to Donald Trump when he comes out here doing this press conference, that is obviously going to communicate to the people of Mexico that he has a problem with what Donald Trump has said over the course of the last several months. Now, we're hearing an announcement right now in the P.A. system in the room, Jake. I think we're getting close, so I will throw it back to you, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, actually, before we leave you, Jim, I just want to ask you a quick question.
And that is, tell us more about the back and forth with Vicente Fox, because Vicente Fox was very critical of Mr. Trump's visit earlier today on CNN's "NEW DAY." Mr. Trump saw that, responded in a tweet, said that Vicente Fox had invited him to Mexico as well, and then Vicente Fox issued something of a fact-check on that. Tell us about that.
ACOSTA: That's right, Jake.
Basically, what happened is earlier this morning, as you said, on CNN's "NEW DAY," Vicente Fox basically asked the question as to whether or not Donald Trump was coming down here to sort of help his own low poll numbers.
Obviously, Donald Trump has some work to do when it comes to those middle-class suburban voters, when it comes to those Latino voters back in the United States.
I'm being asked to sit down by Mexican officials.
But keep in mind earlier today, Donald Trump put out a tweet that said former President Vicente Fox, who he has tangled with plenty on the campaign trail, "who is railing against my visit to Mexico today, also invited me when he apologizes for using the F-bomb."
And then Vicente Fox tweeted back, "I invited you to come and apologize to all Mexicans. Stop lying. Mexico is not yours to play with. Show some respect."
So, a back and forth there between Trump and Vicente Fox. We will have to see whether or not that apology is coming from Donald Trump when he comes out here in just a few moments, Jake.
TAPPER: Obviously, when President Pena and Donald Trump come out on the podium there, we will bring that to you live.
But as we wait for them to come out, let's talk about the potential outcome of Mr. Trump's Mexican getaway today. Trump senior adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders joins us, as well as well Democratic strategist and former special counsel to President California Lanny Davis. We also have with us former Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers, a new CNN contributor, as well as Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
The big question of course is this trip a big gamble for the Republican nominee?
And Sarah Huckabee Sanders, let me start with you. And I apologize ahead of time if I have to interrupt at any point when Mr. Trump and President Pena come out.
But, Sarah, what exactly is the game plan here? Because it seems definitely unusual that he is doing this trip to Mexico the same day that he is coming out and giving a clarifying speech about his immigration policy.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think it shows his commitment to finding big solutions.
He is willing to put political rhetoric and spin aside and go and sit down with the leader of another big country where we have got to have common ground and solutions. That's what he's trying to do, sit down, open up that conversation. I think it shows what a strong leader he is.
Look, Donald Trump is not at all going to back down from putting America first, but he has a great deal of respect for Mexico. He wants to show that by going into their country and meeting with their president and talk about the ideas and find common ground that they can work together to find solutions that work for both America and Mexico.
TAPPER: Ana Navarro, let me bring you in while we're waiting for President Pena.
Here they are. Never mind, Ana. I will come to you afterwards.
Here is President Pena of Mexico and Donald Trump. They are heading to the podium. Let us open up the microphones and watch what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
We shall now hear the message of the president of the United Mexican States, Mr. Enrique Pena Nieto.
ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Representatives of the media, good afternoon to all of you.
Next November 8, the United States people will elect a new president of the United States. I am sure that electoral process will continue being an intense debate, all of these characteristics of the grand democratic tradition of the U.S.
As well as Mrs. Hillary Clinton as well as Mr. Donald Trump, I have publicly expressed my respect. As it has been with the president and friend Barack Obama, the next president of North America will find in Mexico and its government a neighbor that wants to work constructively to strengthen even more the relationship among our nations and to confront, together, all the challenges that we face together in common.
We -- I believe that there is great opportunity for both countries, if we decide to take advantage of this as good friends, allies, and strategic allies, beginning from a relationship based in mutual respect. Even though we may not agree on everything, I trust that, together, we
will be able to find better prosperity and security without losing sight of security and independence, are the most important in all of what we value.
Any close relationship needs to be visited and renewed from time to time. We always need to be open to discuss what has worked and what hasn't. How can we improve on things on both sides of the border? How can we clear and understand misunderstandings and understand each other better?
So, keeping that in mind, a few days ago, I sent a letter to both presidential candidates, both to Mrs. Hillary Clinton and to Mr. Donald Trump, asking them to have a meeting and to have a constructive meeting of the shared future of our countries.
I have met today with Mr. Donald Trump. And in the near future, I hope to do so with Mrs. Hillary Clinton, with whom I am pleased to have had discussions over in here in Los Pinos in the past.
We may not agree on certain topics, but his presence here, Mr. Trump, demonstrates that we have a fundamental (INAUDIBLE) our respective countries are very important, one for the other.
The U.S. is important for Mexico, just the same as Mexico is very important for the United States. We share the most traveled border through which, every day, legally, more than a million people cross it, and over 400,000 vehicles.
Commerce between our countries goes over $500 billion a year. We innovate and produce together. As far as national security, the daily cooperation amongst our governments is ever more important to face the challenges of a complex world.
So, I had what a very open and constructive conversation with Mr. Donald Trump. The meeting -- the objective of this meeting was to meet each other and to know about the bilateral relations. As far as commercial issues, I shared with Mr. Trump my conviction that the free trade of North America has done a lot of good to both the U.S., as well as Mexico.
U.S. exports to Mexico are close to $200 billion a year. And according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more than six million jobs in the U.S. rely on the exports to Mexico.
Our country buys more from the U.S. than Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, and the U.K. together. A lot of jobs in the manufacturing industry in the U.S. were not moved over to other areas of the world precisely because, together, we have developed a manufacturing platform competitively in the North American continent together.
Forty percent of the content -- of the Mexican content is made in the U.S. As partners, we need to work together to avoid all the jobs leave our region.
However, this doesn't mean that the free trade agreement, the North America Free Trade Agreement may not be improved to benefit both parts. It's an agreement that was signed over 22 years ago. The next president of the U.S. will find in my government a partner willing to build the route to modernize telecom, so that it would become more effective and to generate more higher-quality jobs and better-paying jobs in both countries.
I don't think that the commerce must be considered a zero sum game, so that only one wins and the other one loses. To the contrary, it must be seen an effort that generates value to both parts and that makes our North American region the most competitive and innovative in the world.
With regards to border issues, I have a very clear vision. The border must transform itself in an asset for our region. We have had great advances in the last few years, working very closely with Obama administration.
And with the next administration, we must accelerate this effort so that the Mexican and United States border is more efficient and safe.
However, an important number of U.S. citizens chase the border as a real problem because undocumented persons and illegal drugs cross the border unto the U.S. Undocumented immigration from Mexico to the U.S. had it's highest point ten years ago and it has slowed down consistently, even to the point of being negative in a net effect at this point.
Even so, we know that it continues to be a shared challenge, including the increasing number of non-Mexicans that cross there our country to go to the U.S. which creates a great humanitarian crisis. However, this is a clearly incomplete vision of the border issues, because it doesn't account for the illegal flows coming southbound including weapons and cash. Every year, thousands of dollars, millions of dollars and weapons come in from the north which strengthen the cartels and other criminal organizations that generate violence in Mexico, and obtain gains from the drug sales in the U.S.
This flow must be stopped. What we need is an integral focus regarding the border that serves the challenges of undocumented people, and illegal drugs and weapon flows as cash all the same. Many times, maybe safe in both sides of our borders, if the criminal organizations stop receiving all of the weapons and cash that today allow them to pursue their criminal endeavors. Illegal weapons, drugs and cash flows in both directions have multiple negative consequences of both sides of the border.
Our border must be seen as a joint opportunity. Both countries must invest more in it. More infrastructure, more people, more technology, to make it safer and more efficient. I do admit that -- recognize that the natural right that every country has to protect its own borders, I also believe that a real corroboration between friends and allies is the best route to attain this. All the while, I expressed this to Mr. Trump to make a better border
with Mexico and all the friends in Central America. It's of vital importance to both Mexico and the U.S. Equally as far as national security, both Mexico and the U.S. work together to confront all the challenges that a complex world poses.
Every day, the security agencies of both countries are exchanging information and coordinate both actions. Independent of the results of the North American election, the next presidency of the United States may count on a continuing integrity of the Mexican government to make similar with the U.S.
Mr. Trump, I'd like to reiterate right now what I -- few minutes ago, I expressed to you privately. My priority as Mexican president and of my government is to protect Mexicans wherever they may be. That is my responsibility and I will continue to comply with it with all my heart.
In the United States, the Mexican population contributes talent and creativity to development of both Mexico and the U.S. Mexican nationals in the United States are honest people, working people. They are people with good (INAUDIBLE) that respect family, they respect life in the community, and they are respecting of the law.
[16:15:07] As such, Mexicans deserve everybody's respect. Let's continue working to solidify the relationship between Mexico and the united based on the mutual respect and the common challenge that's we have. My conclusion is that the Mexican government will be totally respectful of the electoral process of the United States.
I recognize its decision to sustain a constructive dialogue, a dialogue is the route that gets people closer, the people who think differently. This is a route that allows for a better understanding.
Thank you very much.
Let's listen to the words from the Republican candidate, Mr. Donald Trump.
ANNOUNCER: Let us hear the words for the Republican candidate for the president of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thank you.
It is a great honor to be invited by you, Mr. President. A great, great honor, thank you.
We had a very substantive, direct and constructive exchange of ideas over quite a period of time.
I was straightforward in presenting my views about the impacts of current trade and immigration policies on the United States. As you know, I love the United States very much. And we want to make sure that the people of the United States are very well- protected.
You equally expressed your feelings and your love for Mexico. The United States and Mexico share a 2,000-mile border, a half a
trillion dollars in annual trade, and one million legal border crossings each and every day. We're united by our support for democracy. A great love for our people, and the contributions of millions of Mexican-Americans to the United States.
And I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans, not only in terms of friendships, but in terms of the tremendous numbers that I employ in the United States and they are amazing people. Amazing people. I have many friends, so many friends, and so many friends coming to Mexico and in Mexico. I'm proud to say how many people I employ.
And the United States, first, second, and third generation Mexicans are just beyond reproach, spectacular, spectacular, hard working people. I have such great respect for them, and their strong values of family, faith, and community.
We all share a common interest in keeping our hemisphere safe, prosperous, and free. No one wins in either country when human smugglers and drug traffickers prey on innocent people, when cartels commit acts of violence, when illegal weapons and cash flow from the United States into Mexico, or when migrants from Central America make the dangerous trek -- and it is very, very dangerous -- into Mexico or the United States without legal authorization.
I shared my strong view that NAFTA has been a far greater benefit to Mexico than it has been to the United States. And it must be improved upon to make sure that workers, and it's so important, in both countries, benefit from fair and reciprocal trade. I expressed that to the United States and that of the United States, that we must take action to stem this tremendous outflow of jobs from our country. It's happening every day, it's getting worse and worse and worse, and we have to stop it.
Prosperity and happiness in both of our countries will increase if we work together on the following five shared goals.
[16:25:06] Number one, ending illegal immigration. Not just between our two countries, but including the illegal immigration and migration from Central and South Americans, and from other regions that impact security and finances, in both Mexico and the United States. This is a humanitarian disaster -- the dangerous treks, the abuse by gangs and cartels, and the extreme physical dangers. And it must be solved, it must be solved quickly. Not fair to the people anywhere worldwide, you can truly say, but certainly not fair to the people of Mexico, or the people of the United States.
Number two, having a secure border is a sovereign right, and mutually beneficial. We recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders, to stop the illegal movement of people, drugs, and weapons. Cooperation toward achieving the shared objective, and it will be shared, of safety for all citizens is paramount to both the United States and to Mexico.
Number three, dismantling drug cartels and ending the movement of illegal drugs, weapons, and funds across our border. This can only be done with cooperation, intelligence, and intelligent sharing. And joint operations between our two countries are the only way it's going to happen.
Improving NAFTA, number four. NAFTA is a 22-year-old agreement that must be updated to reflect the realities of today. There are many improvements that could be made that would make Mexico and the United States stronger and keep industry in our hemisphere.
We have tremendous competition from China and from all over the world. Keep it in our hemisphere. Workers in both of our countries need a pay raise very desperately in the United States. It has been 18 years, 18 years, and wages are going down. Improving pay standards, and working conditions, will create better results for all, and all workers in particular.
There is a lot of value that can be created for both countries by working beautifully together. And that, I am sure, will happen.
Number five, keep manufacturing hemisphere. When jobs leave Mexico, the U.S., or Central America, and go overseas, it increases poverty and pressure on social services, as well as pressures on cross-border migration. Tremendous pressure.
The bond between our two countries is deep and sincere. And both of our nations benefit from a close and honest relationship between our two governments. A strong, prosperous and vibrant Mexico is in the best interest of the United States, and will keep and help keep for a long, long period of time -- America together. Both of our countries will work together for mutual good and most importantly for the mutual good of our people.
Mr. President, I want to thank you. It has been a tremendous honor, and I call you a friend. Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump and Mexican President Pena addressing reporters, now let's see if they're going to take calls? They are taking some questions, let's listen.
TRUMP: We were together for quite some time, and I think excellent. I was with, as you know, Senator Sessions and Mayor Giuliani. And we had a tremendous, more than an hour, I think really very good.
TRUMP: Say it? Yes?
TRUMP: No, not at all. Look, we want what's good for the United States, and the president wants what's good for Mexico, and in setting down and talking, we both realized, and we realized this from the beginning that it's good for both of us, better for both of us actually.