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Trump and May Talk NATO; Trump Talks Russia; U.S./Mexico Talks on Wall and Trade; Trump Meets with British PM; Trump on Torture; Haley Talks about U.N.; Lifting Russian Sanctions; Gabbard Meeting Assad; Anti-Abortion Rally in D.C. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 27, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:10] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me this Friday.
We begin with a string of major headlines here as President Donald Trump nears the end of week number one on the job. He just finished his first joint news conference here with British Prime Minister Theresa May. And the very first question actually was about his scheduled call tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and whether the U.S. actually would lift the sanctions it has against Russia, if he would even get into that in phone call number one. Here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early we'll be talking about that. But we look to have a great relationship with all countries ideally. That won't necessarily happen. Unfortunately, it probably won't happen with many countries. But if we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China and with all countries, I'm all for that. That would be a tremendous asset.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As far as the U.K. is concerned on sanctions for Russia in relation to their activities in the Ukraine, we have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk agreement fully implemented. We believe the sanctions should continue until we see the Minsk agreement fully implemented. And we've been continuing to argue that inside the European Union.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've said before that torture works. You've praised Russia. You've said you want to ban some Muslims for coming - from coming to America. You've suggested there should be punishments for abortion. For many people in Britain those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?
TRUMP: This was your choice of a question. There goes that relationship.
MAY: On the - on the issue that really you raised with me, Laura, can I confirm that the president - I've been listening to the president and the president has been listening to me. That's the point of having a conversation.
TRUMP: We have a great general who has just been appointed secretary of defense, General James Mattis. And he has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture. I don't necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override because I'm giving him that power.
As far as again Putin and Russia, I don't say good, bad or indifferent. I don't know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That's possible and it's also possible that we won't.
QUESTION: My understanding, Mr. President, that you had an hour long phone call this morning with President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico. Could we get an update on where the relationship is? And, Madame Prime Minister, if I may ask you as well, are you concerned about the state of relations between the United States and Mexico?
TRUMP: Well, I think the prime minister, first of all, has other things that she's much more worried about than Mexico and the United States' relationship. But I will say that we had a very good call. I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people. I work with the Mexican people all the time. Great relationships. But, as you know, Mexico, with the United States, has out negotiated us and beat us to a pulp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right, let me bring in CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller, the vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and Carol Lee there at the White House, a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal." We see both of you. So great to have both of you on. My goodness, there's a lot to get to between some of the laughter, you know, serious questions on torture and everything in between.
But, Aaron, first, let me ask, this is my first note I jotted down when the prime minister, you know, sort of glanced over at the president when mentioning NATO and said, you know, that Donald Trump 100 percent supports NATO, and he didn't seem to disagree. That was news to me.
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think so. I mean she needed that.
MILLER: And she was determined to pocket it and to walk away with it. In essence, Brooke, I think she wrote his talking points on this issue, even though I'm sure he said all the right things in their private meeting. So, no, I think - I think this was news.
Look, on balance, given the fact that all presidents to a certain extent are blind dates, I think what you saw here today was a president who was actually quite conventional and very cautious and risk adverse. An 18 minute press conference in which the tone was different. The tone was if someone had said, or he realized that a week in there's really no net. I mean he's not the candidate - the candidate. He's not the nominee. He's not the president-elect. He is the president. So, today, there was a marked difference in the way he presented himself both in terms of style and tone and I think on some of the substance.
[14:05:05] BALDWIN: Carol, do you agree with Aaron, just, you know, quickly before we get to his remarks on Vladimir Putin and his phone call tomorrow? I mean, listen, you've covered the Obama White House and I don't think it's fair to entirely compare, but, you know, in terms of tone, it seem to me that the president truly, truly, you know, really, really thought about his words.
CAROL LEE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, he seemed to be speaking very carefully, choosing his words very carefully. It was a really short joint press conference. The shortest that I've ever seen. President Obama could talk much longer and would go for an hour or so, particularly when you're talking two questions from each sides. But President Trump seemed to be very careful. He was subdued. If you were in the room, it was very - the atmosphere was light at times and he was - but he was very kind of careful and cautious, I would say, in how he was speaking.
BALDWIN: What about when he was asked about, you know, he has this first phone call with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, tomorrow and he talked a little bit about, hey, sometimes when I think I'm going to like someone, I don't necessarily like them. And when I don't think I will, I end up liking them. I mean he did put - I think for the first time - some distance between the U.S. and Russia.
LEE: Yes, he - he has started to say more and more, you know, that he - I don't know Vladimir Putin. I don't know if I'm going to like him. Maybe it will. Maybe I won't. Maybe it will work. And you heard him say that again today. But the most important thing I think that he did today was he didn't really answer the question that everyone sort of really wants to know, which is whether he's open to lifting sanctions on Russia.
LEE: Yes. And, you know, even in advance of his press conference, a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Republicans, were saying, you know, send a signal that you're not going to do that. And if you don't, then, you know, we might look at legislation to codify some of these sanctions. And so that's the real big question coming out of that press conference that still remains unanswered.
BALDWIN: I just heard him say very early - it's very early to be talking about that.
BALDWIN: We want great relations. But, you're right, he didn't answer the question. Aaron, ping-ponging back to you. just on Mexico. We know the dustup
we've been covering this week about, you know, how President Enrique Pena Nieto was supposed to go to the White House next week. He, you know, called it off. Apparently it was mutual because now President Trump is saying Mexico's going to reimburse the U.S. for building this wall. According to this readout from this phone call that both presidents had today on the phone, that they agreed not to speak publicly about the money when it comes to the wall. What's your interpretation of that?
MILLER: I mean I looked or - or tried to listen for anything relating to the wall. Didn't hear it. I mean, at the same time, Mr. Trump laid out a pretty strong bill of particulars about what he didn't like about the imbalance -
BALDWIN: About Mexico.
MILLER: Asymmetrical nature of their relationship. But I think what is clear, an hour phone call, I mean that's three times the amount of time that May and Trump spent today talking about the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. So I think now on, Brooke, I think both sides really do want to pull back, at least for now, and not continue this sort of crisis atmosphere that seemed to characterize the relations over the last several days or week.
BALDWIN: Are you disappointed by the brevity of the joint news conference?
MILLER: Disappointed by the - the brevity? Look, you know, I've worked for Republicans and Democrats and voted for both sides too. I'm really interested, Brooke, in quality.
MILLER: All the time quality rather than quantity.
Carol, on torture, he also - it was significant that he conceded to, you know, because he said recently, fight fire with fire. I could be open to torture, which has made a lot of people perk up. And he responded how?
LEE: Well, he said that he would listen to his defense secretary, who said that it doesn't work, and that, you know, there's been a number of different things that President Trump has said about torture and in the last few days he said he does think it would works, but he'll listen to people, but maybe he'll make up his own mind. And now today he's saying that he will listen to his defense secretary on this particular issue. So that remains to be seen whether that - if he follows through with that, then does that mean that there's not going to be a review of these issues as has been discussed in recent days. So it's - again, it's - it's - he's saying he'll listen to his defense secretary, which suggests that he will not do a review, but we still don't know definitively whether that's been ruled out. BALDWIN: Quickly, Aaron, do you think, you know, once the prime
minister hops back on that plane that, you know, she gets phone calls from Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande for the - for the inside 411?
MILLER: They're going to press big time. There's no question about it.
MILLER: But if she's smart, and I suspect she is, this special relationship is going to remain discrete and quiet private. The worst thing to have happen to her is press coverage or leeks that in essence anger and upset this particular president. So, yes, discretion on this one is the better part of valor no doubt.
[14:10:07] BALDWIN: Good point. Aaron David Miller and Carol, thank you so much. Carol Lee with "The Wall Street Journal."
LEE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Today, President Trump's new ambassador to the United Nations told allies, if you don't have our backs, we're taking names. Her fiery - Nikki Haley's fiery words, next.
Also ahead in this fight over this border wall, the White House floats a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico. A move that would hurt you, the American consumer. We'll explain that.
And moments from now, we will see the president once again, but this time at the Pentagon, signing his executive action - his controversial executive action involving people coming in from other countries.
I'm Brooke Baldwin and you're watching CNN.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President Donald Trump, you just saw him wrap up a joint appearance with a key U.S. ally, British Prime Minister Theresa May. The president's first official show of global comradery. But at the same time, at the United Nations, Mr. Trump's new ambassador there, Nikki Haley, began her first week with a warning to those who refuse to play nice with the United States.
[14:15:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Our goal, with the administration, is to show value at the U.N. And the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well. For those that don't have our back, we're taking names. We will make points to respond to that accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Let me bring in Congressman Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, so nice to have you on. Welcome.
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: What do you make of Ambassador Haley's comments there? Is that - is that a smart diplomatic start?
THORNBERRY: Oh, I don't know. I do think there is an agreement among a lot of folks in this country that the United States needs to be a better friend and a more formidable adversary and that some of our friends need to pull more of their own weight. Just yesterday, when the prime minister spoke to the House and Senate Republican retreat, she committed for Britain to increase their defense spending every year for the next five years, but also to work with us to get other Europeans to spend more on our joint defense. So you may express it in different ways, but the point is everybody, including us, needs to do more.
BALDWIN: Talking about taking names? I hear you loud and clear, congressman, but the language, taking names, you're OK with that?
THORNBERRY: Well, it doesn't matter whether I'm OK with it. That is the language she -
BALDWIN: It does.
THORNBERRY: No, it's the language she chose to use. The message is, we all need to do more to work together to defend our values and our way of life.
BALDWIN: We heard - I'm sure you were listening, the president there, in the joint news conference with the British p.m., you know, he was asked about the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. He - you know, he has this call with him tomorrow and the question was essentially about, you know, will you lift sanctions, will that be part of the conversation? And he said, let me just quote, as far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that, but we have - we have a great relationships with all countries. Ideally that won't necessarily happen. Unfortunately, it probably won't happen with many countries. Sort of goes around and then ends with, if we can have a great relationship with Russia, I'm all for that.
THORNBERRY: Yes, well -
BALDWIN: What is your interpretation of that?
THORNBERRY: Well, I can't interpret the president other than to say he wants to have a good relationship with everybody. It's probably not going to happen. But he'll see where it goes.
I think it's important for us to step back. Remember, these sanctions against Russia were because it invaded a sovereign country and annexed Crimea.
THORNBERRY: The first time that's happened since the end of World War II. So in order for those sanctions to be relived, in my view, then Russia needs to get out of Crimea and out of the eastern Ukraine. So I don't know what the president's exact views on that, but there's strong bipartisan support in Congress for making it clear that we will not stand by while a sovereign country gets envied the way Russia invaded Crimea.
BALDWIN: To that point, would you like the president to bring that up on phone call number one tomorrow? Would that suit you?
THORNBERRY: Well, I don't think the president's particularly interested in suiting me. I think it is important for the leader of the free world to stand up for the values and principles that are important. And as I say, since the end of World War II, under U.S. leadership, we have not - we have been safer, freer and we have not had this sort of invasion and war that had plagued Europe so - for so many years before that. So we don't want to walk away from that stability that the U.S. helped create lightly.
BALDWIN: Congressman, I appreciate your self-deprecating way, but you are the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, so, in my opinion, your opinion is absolutely pertinent.
THORNBERRY: Well, that makes two of us, so I conclude that.
BALDWIN: Let me - let me - let me ask, we know that we're about to see President Trump over at the Pentagon, just some short time from now, and it's interesting what he just said at the White House versus, you know, he doubled down last night in the interview with Fox that, you know, he believes, and he's heard from people, that torture works. You, sir, have said, you know, in the past that torture should not be off the table, but Senator John McCain, of course we know his past, you know, he said this week in no uncertain terms, we're not bringing it back. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: You name them. Any military leader you respect have said, we should not torture people. And I'm - I'm very confident that it wouldn't stand a day in court if they tried to restore that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:20:02] BALDWIN: And let me add, when President Trump was just asked about this, he conceded to his defense secretary, General Mattis, you know, who we know has said, torture, give me some cigarettes, you know, essentially, torture isn't necessary. Where do you stand now?
THORNBERRY: Well, I think it's really clear, torture is illegal under international law and under our U.S. law. Congress codified the Army field standards a couple years ago and I am absolutely confident that the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence community is not going to violate the law. My position is, we should quit talking so much about what we will and will not do because that just hands terrorists and others our playbook. But I am absolutely convinced that no -
BALDWIN: Well, it's just something that we know the president, as candidate Trump, and now as President Trump, this is something he has brought up. And so doing our due diligence we cover what he brings up. And when he talks torture, it's germane to ask about it.
THORNBERRY: Yes. No, but my point is, we have gone too far over the last ten years in letting the terrorists know what we do and how we do it. And I think that is a mistake. Now, you - we can get - we will and have been in debates about what sort of interrogation techniques constitutes torture or not. But as far as U.S. law is concerned, it's really clear, it's codified and I have no doubt the military and intelligence communities will follow the law.
BALDWIN: Let me ask you about a colleague on the other side of the aisle of yours in the House, Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman Gabbard. She is raising a lot of eyebrows on both sides for her decision to meet with Syrian President Bashar al Assad. What is your reaction to that?
THORNBERRY: I'm - I was very surprised. She is a very valued member of our Armed Services Committee. But I do not - and I've not talked to her about it, but I do not understand the value of going to meet with someone who has - is responsible for the deaths of so many people in Syria, atrocities most of us cannot even imagine. So what good comes from a conversation with somebody like that, I don't know. So I don't know what her motivation was, but I was certainly surprised.
BALDWIN: OK. Congressman Mac Thornberry, thank you so much, sir, for your time. I appreciate you.
THORNBERRY: You're welcome.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Coming up next, the winners and the losers if President Trump implements a 20 percent tax on imports coming from Mexico to the states. how this would impact American companies and thus you the American consumer.
Also, is cable news dictating American policy? Wait until you see the pattern of the president's tweets following certain TV segments. It's absolutely fascinating.
[14:27:24] BALDWIN: In Washington right now, the anti-abortion movement getting a huge boost of support from the White House. Look at these pictures here. You have the vice president today, Mike Pence, and top aid Kellyanne Conway showing up at this annual March for Life in our nation's capital today.
Let's go straight to Sunlen Serfaty, our CNN congressional correspondent, who's covering all of these women and men there.
You know, talk to me about the messaging and also I mean so significant, and I think historic, that the vice president was there and spoke to the crowd.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke, and this is something that was not lost on these participants here today. And the message coming from the vice president certainly was crystal clear. He kept repeating at multiple points during his speech the same refrain, saying life is winning again in America. So certainly Pence trying to assure this anti-abortion crowd that this is a new era he hopes in America with his new administration and him emphasizing that he was sent here specifically by President Trump, which goes a long way with this crowd. Here's more of what Pence said to the crowd this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This administration will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers.
Next week, President Donald Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And that, simply put, got the biggest crowd here - the biggest applause in the crowd here today. A lot of people feeling very energized here in this large march that they are on the cusp of getting a very conservative, very anti-abortion nominee potentially in place, Brooke, by next week.
BALDWIN: Next Thursday they say. Sunlen, thank you, in D.C.
Also today, President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke today over the phone and according to Mexico the two agreed to no longer speak publicly about this controversial border wall. But the president - President Trump, I should say, maybe hinting at how he plans to pay for it because the White House now is floating a major tax on imports from the bordering country by taxing goods coming in from Mexico 20 percent. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that solution was part of a, quote, "buffet of options."
Let's talk about said buffet with CNN business correspondent Richard Quest, host of "Quest Means Business," and business analyst Dylan Ratigan.
[14:30:01] Gentlemen, wonderful to see you.
DYLAN RATIGAN, BUSINESS ANALYST: A pleasure.
BALDWIN: Mr. Quest, first to you. if you can just explain - you know, when people think, OK, great, this is a 20 percent tax on, you know, goods coming from Mexico to the U.S., maybe people think that that means, OK, well Mexico would be paying. But --