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Interview with Congressman Greg Meeks of New York. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 16:30   ET



[16:30:21] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And welcome back.

You are looking at live pictures of protests right near the G20 Summit site in Germany. The protests have been violent at times. Police have used water cannons to dispersed demonstrators who have thrown smoke bombs, firecrackers and bottles. Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation there in Hamburg.

And just a short distance away, President Trump will huddle with other heads of state tomorrow including Russia's Vladimir Putin, to confront a handful of foreign policy challenges.

For more, Congressman Greg Meeks, Democrat of New York, joins me now.

Congressman, thanks for being here with us.


BROWN: So, Congressman, a reporter -- our reporter on the ground says that many of these protesters are angry about President Trump, in addition to other concerns. How can he repair relationships with European leaders tomorrow?

MEEKS: Well, I think there's a number of things. Number one, he has to acknowledge NATO and Article 5. He has to talk about the significance of the E.U., and that he wants to be inclusive, not just this America-only agenda of which he ran his campaign on. We got to do things in a multilateral way, not unilaterally.

And he's got to talk about he wants to be part of a world order, which everything he has said prior to his election and then his pulling out of the Paris agreement indicates that his America first policy is it's about America and everybody else goes to the wayside. That's not going to work with bringing people together.

BROWN: Well, of course, a key topic in these meetings is North Korea following the test on Fourth of July. The Trump administration has said it's not ruling out taking military action against North Korea. But in your view, is that an idle threat?

MEEKS: Yes. You know, sometimes I don't think that anyone understands what Donald Trump says, not even Donald Trump. Clearly, not his members of his cabinet because they say one thing and he seems to say something else.

You know, I think what has to be done here -- I think number one, Donald Trump needs to take a page out of the Barack Obama book to be quite honest with you, as Barack Obama dealt with Iran. And so, first you've got to make sure that you have locked in China and Russia, they're going to have strong sanctions against North Korea. And if that doesn't happen when you have, as you had in Iran, China, Russia, and the E.U., all significantly in multilateral sanctions against Iran, you need the same thing with China, Russia, and the E.U. focusing on North Korea to make, to make a difference there.

So, he should be a leader, Mr. Trump, and bringing countries together. And compelling China who has been resistant to say if they are not part of it, then they will have some economic consequences that they will have to face. So that they can join the world order against North Korea obtaining a nuclear armed weapon.

BROWN: And, of course, there are so much anticipation ahead of this meeting tomorrow with Vladimir Putin, as you point out, at times the president has said some things people in his cabinet, his administration have said other things, particularly when it comes to Russia. As you heard today, he continued to cast doubt on the intelligence community's assessment that Russia did meddle in the U.S. election despite the fact that people he's actually nominated who are in the intelligence community said they have no doubts that Russia did meddle in the election.

What do you think the message needs to be tomorrow when he meets with Vladimir Putin?

MEEKS: Actually, he has to be strong. And I don't see, you know, I hear they're talking about Syria, and that's important, but you have to talk about Russia's involvement in our democracy and the very same way that President Macron of France talked about Russia in front of Putin. What they were doing in Europe. And their involvement in regards to taking land in the Ukraine.

So, he's got to be very firm, and he's got to let, you know, Mr. Putin know, eyeball to eyeball, and then not allow that just to be private, but in a public way, that the United States is very concerned and will not stand for his intrusion to our elections, as well as, you know, some of the things he stated today in the speech in Poland. But he's got -- and he's got to make sure though that because the E.U. and those in Europe are watching to see what his position is, will he try to unilaterally ease sanction against Russia without Russia making the reforms that are necessary.

BROWN: But let me just -- because others say, supporters of President Trump say look there are more pressing issues. The election has happened, that's in the past. He really needs to be focused on Russia's destabilizing activities in Ukraine, support of Syria and Iran.

[16:35:01] What do you have to say to them?

MEEKS: Well, I've got to say that the president of the United States, that'll be able to do more than one thing at the same time. This is a complicated and difficult job, not as the president said, everything's easy. I hope that he is learning that.

So, yes, we've got serious issues across the board of which we have to deal with each and every one of them. And, you could not say that Russia getting involved in our democracy, you know, as all of our intelligence agencies says is not a critical importance to our nation. So that cannot be a casualty to some of the other issues that have to be addressed, all of them within an hour's period of time can be addressed and it has to be that open and frank dialogue so that Mr. Putin knows that the United States is serious that we do not want their intrusion into our democratic society.

And president Trump, you know, sometimes weighs the line because sometimes as he said in the campaign, I think he wants to be like Mr. Putin, he would like to shut down the press or have the state run the press. He would like to be more of an authoritarian type president.

BROWN: Right.

MEEKS: He's got to show that he is going to be, you know, democracy and the values that we share like with our E.U. partners are what has to stand forward.

BROWN: All right. Congressman Greg Meeks, thank you so much.

MEEKS: My pleasure.

BROWN: So, what should be on the agenda when President Trump and Putin finally get in the same room? The panel has their opinions, you can be sure. That's up next.

And we're also keeping an eye on the breaking news right there at the G20 Summit in Germany. Protests erupting this afternoon with the president and many other leaders in town.

Stay with us. We'll be back.


[16:40:51] BROWN: And welcome back.

There are ongoing protests in Hamburg, Germany, that's two miles from the site of G20 Summit where world leaders will gather tomorrow. President Trump is there as we speak. And we will continue to monitor the situation there, of course.

I want to bring in my political panel now, there is a lot going on there in Hamburg and there's so much anticipation, of course, with this meeting tomorrow between President Trump and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

I want to bring in you, Anita, because this is the first time the two leaders will be meeting face to face in the wake of so much going on, the Russia election meddling, Russia's activities in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Vladimir Putin, a cunning leader. He ran the services before becoming president 17 years ago.

Who do you think has the upper hand going into this meeting tomorrow?

ANITA DUNN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I don't know who has the upper hand, but there are important things for the United States at stake in this meeting tomorrow, not the least of which is the issue of Russia having meddled in our elections in 2016 and more importantly, how do we keep them from this behavior moving forward?

It's always distressing to hear the president not only having trouble acknowledging what 16 intelligence agencies and the director of national intelligence have told him. But in addition to that, not dealing with the fact that this is going to happen again, unless the United States deals with it forcefully. So I would certainly hope that would be on the agenda for tomorrow.

BROWN: And, Ana, do you on this, it seems like there is sort of two different tales when it comes to President Trump's approach to Russia, on one hand, he seemed to be getting tough on Russia in terms of the Ukraine activity, Syria, Iran, but on the other hand, as Anita pointed out, he's still sort of casting doubt on whether Russia definitively meddled in the election.

Let's listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.

We urge Russia to cease it's destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and it's support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran. And to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies --


BROWN: So, what do you make of these distinctly different tones?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's obviously the difference between scripted and unscripted Donald Trump. It's the difference between somebody putting a speech in front of him to read and him going off the cuff. It's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of U.S. diplomacy.

On the one hand, he gave a very good speech. That was actually a very good presidential sounding speech. Donald Trump is not a highly experienced in this.

And then he goes and questions the validity and legitimacy of the finding of the 16 security agencies on the Russia stuff instead of being forceful. He was forceful in the morning, he couldn't be forceful the entire day. And so, it's inconsistent, and it's frankly very disappointing.

BROWN: So, let me just go to you, David, on this, the fact that he continues to cast doubt on his own intelligence agencies' assessment, casting doubt on some people he's actually nominated and their assessment, in your view, does that only bolster Putin's hand?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, no. So, from what I heard, the clip you just played, he didn't cast out on anybody. The Russians and others, so there's -- there's no doubt --


BROWN: -- about weapons of mass disruption with the intelligence community being wrong.

URBAN: But there was no doubt on the meddling of election. I know the director of the CIA happens to be my West Point classmate who I've known since 1982, I'm very close friends with, and I know the president has the greatest confidence in the clandestine services and our services --

BROWN: Then why does he keep bringing up Iran?


NAVARRO: -- a forceful condemnations here.

URBAN: Ana, Ana, I'm right next to you. I'm right next to you.

NAVARRO: Right. Well, answer me then.

URBAN: He said, he has no doubt that it's the Russians, the Russians participated --

BROWN: They could have.


URBAN: No, no, no, listen, hold on. Go back, if you want to replay, listen, he said, the Russians did it, and others.

BROWN: It could --

URBAN: Have you had classified briefings, Ana? Yes or no? It's a yes or no.

NAVARRO: Listen, Russia meddled in the election --

URBAN: That's a yes or no.

NAVARRO: -- and forcefully condemned, that is not a forceful condemnation under any definition. But looking ahead to tomorrow, people who have spoken to my colleagues, Sara Murray, Jeff Zeleny, have said it's not going to be - he may not even bring it up, but if he does, he's not going to focus on it. Do you think that's a mistake for the President? URBAN: Listen, I don't know what's happening behind the scenes with the Foreign Minister, with the clandestine services of both of our nations on this topic. I do know that we face an existential threat to the world in North Korea. I do know the people of Ukraine have had their sovereignty invaded by the Russians, I do know that the Syrians are facing you know, extinction because of the Russian involvement. I do know - I can go on and on and on with the list the problems that we have with Russia that are again existential threat to the world. I don't - I'm not minimizing the election, but I'm saying that there are people dying, right now, because of the Russian actions, and I think, that those things should be taken forefront. And as we discussed earlier, when you get in a room, when you're talking, when you're having discussions on a high level, there are interpreters are involved, it takes an incredible amount of time to cover one topic, one topic. And so I don't think that the elections aren't important, I don't think meddling - the Russian meddling in our election is something to be dismissed. I do think, however, Syria, Ukraine, there are many - North Korea, those issues far outweigh - no, listen -

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You represent a segment, the Trump base, I can tell you that there's a lot of other Republicans who feel like I do, who - and a lot of other Americans who feel that a threat to our elections is an existential threat to our democracy and something that should not go --

URBAN: So Anna, if you were given a choice, Anna - if you were given a choice and you had a limited amount of time -

NAVARRO: Why am I given a choice?

URBAN: Because -

NAVARRO: Why can't we walk and chew gum at the same time? Why can't we defend our democracy and defend the people of Syria?

BROWN: Let me bring in Anita here because the President also -


URBAN: If you had a limited amount of time, which you do tomorrow, it's going to be a limited amount of time. Which do you talk about, Anna?

NAVARRO: You talk about everything.

URBAN: You can't, that's ridiculous.

BROWN: Anita, of course, worked under President Obama so let's -

ANITA DUNN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: And of course, the other thing the President did today was once again criticize his predecessor for not having dealt more forcefully with this even though there's a lot of evidence to show that the President did deal quite forcefully with it. This is something -

BROWN: Do you think - do you mean when he actually told Putin, cut it out? Is that what you mean? Because -

DUNN: Well, that and also - I know that there -

BROWN: There has been - Obama administration officials have been divided in terms of how forcefully he did deal with the situation.

DUNN: Well - and I think that what is very clear is that given the fact that he could not get the kind of bipartisan support that he needed really take this to the people and of course in the election that the decision he made which was to deal directly with Russia and also to make sure, first and foremost that we secured our electoral systems which is of course, I think, I agree with Anna, an existential threat, David, that they tried to go in, and they tried to go in and they tried to go in with -

URBAN: I'm not minimizing - I'm not minimizing it.

DUNN: - cyber security attacks, not just the DNC, not just candidates running against Donald Trump, but to our actual state electoral.

URBAN: I'm not minimizing it. And I don't - I mean, I don't know, you and Anna, what you and Anna are saying - I'm not saying that that's not true, I'm saying I don't know and none of us at this table know what's taking place with our clandestine services. Do you know what the NSA is doing? Do you know what the CIA is doing, or DIA? I don't.

DUNN: I think we can assume, given their public statements and public testimony that they're extremely concerned about what's going to happen in 2018 and 2020 if we don't deal forcefully with the Russians on this because they said that in public testimony on Capitol Hill, David. So they're very worried about this too. And there are - you're absolutely correct, a host of issues to be discussed and dealt with, with the Russians. But I think many people in America are rightfully concerned about the fact that this President has yet to truly acknowledge, just how serious what happened in 2016 was, and you can do that without having anyone question the legitimacy of your election, but he doesn't seem to see that.

BROWN: OK, everyone, thank you so much. I hope you all feel like you had your voices heard.

URBAN: Sure.

BROWN: Do appreciate it.

DUNN: Thank you Pamela.

URBAN: Thank you Pam.

BROWN: Well she's on one of the committees investigating Russia, the Trump campaign, and the election. So what does Senator Amy Klobuchar want President Trump to tell President Putin? I'll ask her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:50:00] BROWN: And we're back with our "POLITICS LEAD" just in, the U.S. District Court will hear the case against the President's Voter Fraud Commission tomorrow. The privacy rights group ethics says the commission's request for registered voter data is a violation of American's rights. I want to bring in my colleague Laura Jarrett. So Laura, what is the latest on this fight?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Pamela, lawyers are continuing to battle in Federal Court over the Trump administration's efforts to collect all of this voter data nationwide. Now the President Trump's Voter Integrity Commission says it's only seeking information that's publicly available under state law. But privacy rights groups filed this suit in court earlier this week asking a federal judge to block the collection efforts before they even start. And they're specifically citing cyber security concerns posed by aggregating all of this massive amount of voter data including the names, addresses, party affiliation, and even possibly the last four digits of Social Security Numbers of voters, all in one place. Now the Commission try to pressure the judge to reassure them that this response is no one's being armed here by these requests, and they're taking adequate steps to protect the data including by using a secure application that runs by the Army for uploading and transferring the files, and we expect to judge to rule very soon. But meanwhile, the State Officials have been all over the map in their responses to the Commission's request for voter information. Some have robust the request altogether, others are willing to provide whatever is already public and others say they are still reviewing the requests. Pam?

BROWN: All right, Laura Jarrett, thanks for bringing us the latest there from Chicago. And I want to bring in now, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota who just a few days ago told the Voter Fraud Commission to go jump in a lake. Senator, thanks for coming on.

[16:55:06] KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: So clearly you're not a big fan of this, what is your biggest concern if the judge rules on the side of the Trump administration, Senator?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I hope that doesn't happen because 44 Secretaries of State or States have already come in and said, we don't want to give you this data to the Commission which is a pretty resounding bipartisan objection. And the reason they're concerned, of course, is that right now, that information is the at least disaggregated by state. Secretary Chertoff, the former Secretary the Homeland Security under George Bush just wrote a column about this and said he's concerned about the sanctity of the data because of the fact that we - the government has been hacked several times, millions and millions of private information that has been put out there of citizens. And so I think that this is just a bad idea, unnecessary to get people's Social Security Numbers, their birthdays, their past voting histories, this is the kind of thing they're trying to collect when in fact this is the Commission that's looking for a problem. And they're going to create one big one if they collect all of this data when they're not even a government agency. Their response to this lawsuit has been hey, we don't have to follow the rules, we're not even an agency. I don't know where the data is going to go. And that is one of the things that we've asked 25 senators and I've led this letter with Senator Jack Reed saying where is this data going, how are you going to protect it?

BROWN: And of course as Laura reported, the commission says the data will be protected, that it's using a secure military app to make sure that everything is secure, but would you be as concerned, Senator, if the Obama administration had asked for this information?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would because under several administrations now, we've seen hacks of data, both in the private sector and in the government sector. And for one thing, we know that the Obama administration was much more focused on making it easier for people to vote. And this commission in fact, has taken a different stand. And because of the Supreme Court, drawing out part of the Voting Rights Act, we've now have over 20 states that put limitations on voting. And we've, in fact, major Courts, Circuit Courts say that these states have been - and this is a quote from the 4th Circuit-been discriminating with surgical precision. So what the real problem is, is that we're making it very hard for some people to vote. I love my state, we've got the highest voter turnout in the country and it works. And we'd like to see that kind of thing in other states. What this commission is doing, is actually saying, we have major problem with voter fraud when study after study has shown that's not the case. And to add to that now, they've asked for data of every state in the country, every voter in the country, and that's why you see objections from states, Democratic and Republican Secretary of States throughout the country. And that's why I told them to go jump in the lake.

BROWN: All right. Before we lose you, I want to turn to health care quickly. Politico is reporting that the health care bill vote has been now moved back another week. What role do you see the Democrats playing in this?

KLOBACHAR: Well the Democrats have been united from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin in the United States Senate in saying that the bill that we got that was put together behind closed-doors by 13 guys was not a bill that going to helm the American people. Not only were we shut out, the American people were shut out when they close those doors. And so, there's no surprise that we've now seen major pushback. AARP firmly against this bill because it basically hurts seniors and transfers wealth to the healthiest Americans. So, what we suggest that they do is that they work with us on some actual improvements to the Affordable Care Act, like bringing down the cost of prescription drugs. I have bipartisan bills, one with Senator McCain, one with Senator Grassley that could to help bring down the cost of prescription drugs for the average American. We should do more to make these exchanges stronger. There's all kinds of things that we could do, but not if they just keep doing it on a one side and not including the rest of America.

BROWN: OK, so just very, very quickly. What else do you plan to counter with because there are issues with ObamaCare? Do you agree?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I said that they had passed, that it was the beginning and not an end. And one of the things that I have been firmly behind since ObamaCare passed was doing something about bringing the cost of prescription drugs down. 41 million seniors, they're not even able to unleash their bargaining power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Let's let them do that. We'll see lower prices.

BROWN: All right, Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much.

And that's it for THE LEAD, I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Jim Sciutto in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."