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Trump Defies Globe to Keep Promise to his Voters; Allies Aghast at Trump's Rejection of Climate Pact; Trump Sides with Bannon, Against Family in Climate Move. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired June 2, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:02] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And let's look at it from a more political perspective. Slide this over here. Eighty-six percent of Democrats say stay in the Paris accords. But even a narrow majority, 51 percent of Republicans say stay in. And almost half of the president's voters, 47 percent of Trump voters says stay in the Paris Climate Change Accord.
So, the president was not doing this because his base was overwhelmingly demanding, hey, get out based on climate change. The president looks at this map, remembers the last election, and thinks on every big decision he's going to make the point that for these people here, whether you're in coal mining or manufacturing, it's not about climate change. It's about jobs.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Paris agreement handicaps the United States' economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country's expense. They don't put America first. I do. And I always will.
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KING: The condemnation is broad. The president has put himself and Republicans on a pretty small island, both domestically and globally. But in his mindset, in his mindset, this is how he thinks. This is what when he talks about NAFTA, when he talks about TPP. That the elites have conspired against the blue collar American and I'm going to change it.
MICHAEL SHEAR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And look, I think there's a way in which those numbers are a little bit misleading. Because I don't think they're thinking about raw numbers and specific, you know, districts and what (inaudible). Look, they're thinking about his brand, right?
And he built a brand that really was around this idea of, you know, kind of the forgotten America, America first, that whole thing. And I think their thinking was and Steve Bannon who we saw yesterday along the sidelines of the thing, was if he didn't do this, if he stayed in Paris, that it totally undercut the message that -- and the narrative that he's been building about what is his presidency about. And to that extent I think from -- it makes sense politically. KING: He would have been a globalist to stay in and he wants to be a populist or nationalist.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: And I think there are several areas in which he already has compromised those kinds of base campaign views. He was going to declare China a currency manipulator. He took a break when he realized the implications for North Korea, for NAFTA, NATO is pretty much. And so this was one place to make a stand.
But it's predicated on two very strong beliefs. Convictions. One is that the Republicans will continue to control both Chambers of Commerce after the midterm elections. And number two is that the Democrats are so ineffectual or disorganized or whatever that they will not be able to mount a serious contender in 2020.
If either one of those things isn't true, the capitalist of all this comes on a question.
MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME: And he also build it in the speech yesterday. He said, maybe we can re-negotiate that it'd be good. If I can't re- negotiate that would be OK too. The whole premise of his presidency has been, I can get you a better deal.
And so wherever the policy, he could back off this policy. Now we're withdrawing from Paris. Maybe in six months or a year he says we re- negotiate. I'm not going to pay the, you know, $3 billion to developing countries, we got a better deal, we're back in.
KING: The interesting part is a lot -- most people say since it's a nonbinding agreement, he could have done that anyway. He could have said, Obama committed to x, I'm only going to 60 percent of x. Or I'm going to change Obama's commitment with this but instead for the brand he decided no I'm going to walk away. I'm going to blow it up. I'm Trump the disrupter, I'm going to blow it up.
Fair question though. Even though he views this more about the brand than about economics than about I'm on your side, than about climate change. It is a fair question when the president of the United States pulls out of a global climate change agreement to ask the question, does the president believe that human activity influences global warming and climate change? Or does he still believe as he said repeatedly earlier in his life that it's a hoax. Ask the staff, get this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water. He's received awards as a business in that regard and he made very clear what he doesn't believe (inaudible) he doesn't believe which is that the U.S. government should stay in an agreement.
GARY COHN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: What President Trump believes is he was elected to grow the U.S. economy and provide great job opportunities for American citizens. SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: This is about making sure that America, as we negotiate CO2 reductions that we do so with an America first approach.
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KING: Is it not a fair question of a democratically elected president on an issue that again, is across the whole world, not just here in the United states of America, do you or don't you? But now they all say you have to ask him. Is that because they don't know the answer or because they've learned from other issues not related to this one that they might say today and he might undermine them tomorrow?
SCHERE: And he might say something one day and undermine himself the next day. He's not clear, you know -- he's not answering the question because there's no political upside to answering the question. There are huge part of his base who don't believe, who have come down that the science and the elites have all lied to them and none of this is true. He doesn't want to alienate them.
[12:35:07] SHEAR: And let me just say on behalf of the press corp, the Washington and the White House press corp, we would love to ask him directly, but having come back from a nine-day foreign trip where they gave no opportunities for the press corp to ask President Trump a question, which is totally against tradition on these trips and we haven't -- we have very little opportunity ever to ask him questions. So we would love to.
KING: You mentioned the president's view and I know this is Steve Bannon's view that perhaps certainly be a third party candidate next time, so the president can win again with base or if he can win those states, even if his numbers go down in California and down in New York out on the coasts where there, you know, more liberal votes and climate change might be more of an issue that they can wait again. The questions is how do the Democrats react?
We've seen a bunch of Democratic governors say we're going to have our own climate agreement. We saw protests and you see some lights in several in big cities, New York, Boston, Washington D.C. among the cities that had this sort of show of support that we're going to continue to do this. We're going to stay in the climate change. Listen to Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee right here trying to make the Democrats argument. The question is, can they make an argument on television or can they win at the polls?
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TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: We're here to tell this president you can't ban hurricanes from entering this country. You cannot dismiss rising tides and temperatures as fake news. You know what? We shouldn't have to wait until Mar-a-lago goes under water before this president starts understanding climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It's a clever line, but even though you look at those poll numbers, the support is pretty overwhelming for the belief in climate change. The support is pretty overwhelming among Democrats and independents for doing something about it and Republicans are more evenly split. But there's not a lot of evidence despite those numbers that come Election Day that this is one of those issues that moves to the top.
People vote in the economy. People vote in leadership. In the last election they voted on changing Washington and brand Trump. So no matter what the numbers say, there's not a lot of evidence that this is one of those (inaudible), this is what I'm voting on.
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: They would be smart to make this about jobs like the president has. They would be smart to make this about the economy and incorporate the climate change message into something that can reverberate and really apply to people and their everyday lives rather than, you know, Mar-a-lago going under water. This is where the national Democrat leadership really needs to plug into their local base. Because they haven't really done a good job with that particularly with midterm elections in the last couple cycles.
SCHERER: Isn't it telling that it's Tom Perez like a relatively anonymous bureaucrat who's carrying the Democratic message right now? I mean, the next election can be decided by two candidates. The choice between two people. And Democrats don't really have anybody showing at this point. They don't have to have someone at this point but they don't have any base showing at this point where they can stand up toe-to-toe with Trump.
KING: And to the economic point, if they have a lot of candidates running out there for these governors' races and this House races and the Senate races, they need to -- if they come up with a coherent answer on the economics which is something Hillary Clinton did not do in the last.
And when we come back, the global reaction has been quite harsh. And putting America first, has President Trump decided he's OK with America being almost alone.
[12:42:15] KING: Welcome back. The president says his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords comes down to two words, America first. The result is America isolated almost alone in facing scathing criticism from just about every corner of the globe.
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PRES. EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE: But I do think it is an actual mistake, both for the U.S. and for our planet. Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility. Make our planet great again.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The position of the United States to step out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is very regrettable. And I'm expressing myself very carefully when I say that.
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KING: Now, it's often said that one Trump trademark is that he loves to be loved. He loves to be showered with praise. In this case, the president is wearing that scorn as a badge of honor.
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TRUMP: The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lacks contributions to our critical military alliance. You see what's happening.
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KING: Who's right? Team Trump says this is one deal he can continue to do whatever they do on climate here in the United States outside of Paris. He says he'll be the cleanest president ever when it comes to the environment and that this will not be such a big deal. You move on to the next issue and you do this transactionally.
You listen to some of these other world leaders and they think this is serious. Forget that issue at hand, seriously undermines American leadership in the world, it will be hard for the United States to step forward and lead. And other example is your newspaper, big headline says it's a gift to China which has been looking to step forward and assert itself as a global leader. Which is it?
SHEAR: Well, look. I mean, we'll see how it plays out. This-- the kind of diplomatic dance that countries go through often depends on the issue at hand. So, it may be that, you know, down the road when the United States and some of these countries are dealing with other unrelated issues, it may be that there's still a lot of interest in those countries to give the United States help and to cooperate with the United States.
So, it's not like all is lost. But the truth is when the United States goes to another country and, you know, sort of hat in hand and says help us with troop levels in Afghanistan or help us with the South China Sea or help us with North Korea, this lingers. The issue of this climate accord and the kind of abandonment that the United States has sort of decided to undertake, that will linger. And that --
[12:45:06] KING: And it came after the public lecture of NATO allies in Brussels. So, there's sort of -- you begin to see almost a domino effect in those European leaders. Now, and part of it, let's be honest, the president was playing to his -- what he believes is his domestic political base.
They're playing to their audience as well, that, you know, Trump is -- we can put (inaudible). Trump is the bogeyman in Europe right now without a doubt. And so, some of these politicians are, god forbid, being politicians.
TALEV: But he's risking two kinds of being marginalized. And he's decided that it's a risk we're taking. The one risk is that the U.S. would be politically marginalized. The kind of parallel risk is that President Trump inside the U.S. would be marginalized by this move.
You're seeing now this collection of businesses, including Exxon, many other businesses kind of saying they're going to band together and go forth with their own environmental plans to try to continue to meet what would've been the U.S. commitments under the Paris accords. And that's very interesting if that holds, that in combination with what you may see some of these governors. Right now, it's Democratic governors, it's like Jerry Brown, right? But if you see a broader collection of governors pursue this, if all these kind of both market and political forces decide, the U.S. -- decide they want to save the Paris accord, the U.S. role in the Paris accord with or without the White House, that's a different kind of process that'll play out.
KUCINICH: Yes. And there might be a little bit of cutting off your nose to spite your face here. Last night when Gary Cohn was talking to Wolf, he said something about -- Wolf asked him about the country being left behind. And what he used to defend that was saying Silicon Valley is somewhere where there's been a lot of innovation, that it's been led by the United States.
Well, you already have France saying, you know, come here, we're a better climate for you, we're more in line with your values. That sort of thing could end up hurting the country if these -- some of these Silicon Valley companies decide to say, well, you know what, you're right.
SCHERER: And we've mentioned it here a little bit, but it's important to remember the Paris agreement is not -- does not determine how much carbon the U.S. will be emitting in the next ten years. So when Trump says we're going to create all these jobs and we're going to change the economy and all that, that hasn't happened yet. Moving out of the Paris agreement just means we are not going to abide by previous voluntary standard.
Now, the discussion of this country will begin about, OK, what do we want to do with fuel economy standards? What do we want to do with the Clean Power Act? What do we want to do with utilities? What do we want to do with methane gas and, you know, wildcat oil producers.
And those decisions, including ones made by states and companies will determine how much carbon we're putting out.
TALEV: Well, the (inaudible) implications and the implications, we already know about the sort of Trump-Angela Merkel power game, but Macron really is trying to get in there himself, maybe just for domestic consumption but it seems like on a broader stage than that. From the handshake to the make the planet great again line, I think it's hard to miss. He is stepping up to start a challenge with President Trump. But I do think the Chinese leader and how that plays out in terms of trade, in terms of North Korea talks is going to be very interesting. KING: And the statements in the Chinese media which of course are closely aligned with the government have been very damning and (inaudible).
Everybody sit tight. Up next, Ivanka Trump proving just because you're family doesn't mean you'll always win.
[12:52:23] KING: Live picture of the White House there inside the briefing room. Sean Spicer will be at the podium next hour. A lot of questions to be asked on this big day after the big decision. Let's come back to that decision.
When it comes to the Paris climate accord, Steve Bannon won, Ivanka Trump lost. Both waged aggressive efforts to win the president's head and his heart in the fierce months-long debate over the Paris climate accords.
And in the end, the president's daughter not only came out on the losing side but a number of administration officials say she most likely overplayed her hand, had her efforts backfired. She was not on hand for the big announcement nor was her husband, Jared Kushner. While they were at synagogue for Jewish holiday, Steve Bannon basked in what for him was a Rose Garden resurgence.
And how much do we make of this or is it a mistake to make too much of this that, again as I noted early in the show as a couple months back, everyone said Steve Bannon is on thin ice at the White House. He's out, he's getting too much press attention. The president doesn't -- the president thinks he's, you know, pushing him out of favor.
This is Ivanka Trump who was the great moderate hope, if you will. You know, Democrats, others saying she's the one who will get to the president on these big ones and keep him from going on to the Steve Bannon reservation. Well, on this one she failed.
KUCINICH: But to be fair, she did have a tougher job than the Steve Bannons of the world. Because she -- this is where the president was during the campaign. This is what his promise was and she had to bring him back from the edge.
Now, if anyone could do it, could it be her? Sure. But she definitely had a tougher job than the Steve Bannons of the world to completely change his mind on this.
TALEV: I put this in the category of something to watch, you know. I mean, I do think that Steve Bannon helped Donald Trump win the election not Ivanka Trump. And Ivanka Trump's role in this White House in those early weeks and months always was uncertain in terms of how sort of officially part of the process she's going to be and how much she's going to be sort of around, you know.
But ultimately for him to have stayed in that agreement would have represented -- it would have represented a real threat to the base. I think we need to see if this is a one offer or this is a trend. KING: And when it comes to just the focus on her, it's an -- you know, an adult daughter of a president in the White House deciding to take on senior adviser, deciding to have an office with her husband who's right there. I just want to go back to April. She was on CBS this morning with Gayle King talking about her role and whether people should or should not expect much.
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IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I think that, for me this isn't about promoting my viewpoints. I wasn't elected by the American people to be president. I think my father is going to do a tremendous job, and I want to help him do that.
[12:55:08] But I don't think that it will make me a more effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly where I disagree. And that's OK. That means that I'll take hits from some critics who say that I should take to the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Does she take a hit for this?
SCHERER: People have talked about this divide in the White House as an ideological one. They're moderates, there's Wall Street people, there's New York people, and then there's ideologues, conservatives, that there is that divide. And sometimes, each side wins.
I think the more operative divide though has to do with the people who are there for Donald Trump, who know him for a long time, for more than a year. Most people at the White House have known him for six months or eight months and who in the end will always be fighting for him.
Now, there's no doubt that Ivanka and Jared are still in that camp, you know. There's other people in that orbit or in that camp and that gives them their power. It's not that they're moderates or not. And so, I think losing this, reading too much into it kind of gets away from that essential fact that Trump really wants a group around him who he trusts and she's still going to be there.
KING: And it's an excellent point because Bill Clinton (inaudible) George W. Bush (inaudible) Barack Obama had Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod for as long he stayed in Chicago.
Everybody, thanks for joining us today on Inside Politics. We'll see you again on Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Have a great weekend.
But don't go anywhere. Minutes away from the daily White House press briefing. Wolf Blitzer will bring you that after a quick break.