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Trump/Putin Meeting Goes Longer Than Scheduled; Putin's Pre- Meeting Comments; June Jobs Report Boost for Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Op-ed on that. It's in "The Washington Post."

Thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR on a Friday. "Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

The first meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is running overtime. At the beginning, upbeat talk for the cameras.

You see the handshakes there. The two presidents still meeting. It was supposed to run 35 minutes. It has now been running an hour 45 and counting.

Also on the G-20 stage, an awkward moment with the Mexican president.


QUESTION: Mr. President, do you still want Mexico to pay for the wall?




KING: Absolutely, the president says about his wall.

Plus, a robust jobs report and a very important health care shift from the Senate's top Republican.

But we begin with the high stakes getting to know you meeting that was supposed to wrap up a while ago at the G-20 Summit in Germany but is still running. President Trump and President Putin, their first meeting, a long list of tensions, but, from President Trump's standpoint, listen here, also he says, an opportunity.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue, but we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned. And it's an honor to be with you.


TRUMP: Thank you.


KING: On this big day, with us to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Calmes of "The Los Angeles Times," Carl Hulse of "The New York Times," Betsy Woodruff of "The Daily Beast," and Michael Shear of "The New York Times."

Let's go quickly though to CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray. She's in Hamburg, Germany.

Sara, this was on the books for 35 minutes. There was a lot of talk that it would be a quick meeting. Instead, do we have any reason to know why it's going so long and I'm guessing not yet as to what is being discussed?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. We're expecting, of course, a fuller readout when they emerge from this meeting. But as you pointed out, it's now stretched for longer than 90 minutes. Look, the reality is, they were not going to get a lot done in 30 minutes. As you heard in the clip, President Trump is speaking English. Russian President Vladimir Putin is speaking Russian. They are joined by two translators in there to facilitate this meeting and a top diplomat on each side. But it's a pretty interesting (ph) meeting. The fact that it has stretched for so long gives you an indication that this is more than just getting to know one another, maybe more than just sizing one another up.

One thing that Trump administration officials have not addressed is whether the president was planning on bringing up Russian election meddling in this meeting. Some of them said that they doubted it, but this is a president who tends to pull an audible now and again. So we're waiting to see if that did come up.

But there are no shortage of thorny topics for these two world leaders to be discussing, even if you pout election meddling to the side. There are questions about how you deal with North Korea's aggression going forward, as well as questions and pressure to put on Russia about its role in Ukraine, as well as the conflict in Syria. So these may be some of the agendas items on the table. I think it's worth noting that when we did see the two of them together briefly in front of the camera, both of them put a positive spin on this meeting. We have heard Trump talk for now years about how he would want a closer relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a closer relationship, a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia. So it will be very interesting to see what we do hear in this readout as they emerge.


KING: Sara Murray on the ground in Hamburg. Sara, we'll check back as we get more details on what's happening.

Let's come into the room here.

I thought we would be discussing the first meeting and what we knew about it. I assume, by most accounts, we should consider it a good thing. But we don't know what they're talking about. We don't know how productive it would be. But these two men have a lot to talk about and a lot of big issues and they don't know each other. A new American president, six months on the job as of next week, so they're still in the room.

Before we start the conversation, we showed you President Trump shaking hands. We showed you President Trump saying he hoped they could come out of this meeting with a positive agenda to go forward and work together. Yes, they will have differences. Let's get - listen as we started the meeting from President Putin.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And I'm delighted to be able to meet you, personally, Mr. President. And I hope, as you have said, our meeting will yield positive results.


KING: I can't think - you'd have to go back to the Reagan days when the Soviet Union was collapsing - of a - tell me if I'm wrong, please - of a meeting between an American president and a Russian president where the whole world is watching. There's a long list of reasons here at home. But there's also a long list of reasons around the world. What - just what was this - what are we waiting for here?

CARL HULSE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I'm not surprised. I agree with Sara, I'm not surprised this ran over. You know, you could almost predict that these guys have a lot to talk about. They've limited the people in the meeting, so it's going to be a while before the leaks start, I think.

[12:05:00] I think that Putin's body language at the beginning of that was very relaxed and welcoming. You know, he can strike a pretty aggressive posture. And we'll just have to see what comes out of it. It's probably going to be the most analyzed 90 minutes or (INAUDIBLE) - or Soviet/U.S. relations.

KING: Right.

JACKIE CALMES, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I was struck that Putin didn't project a more steely confidence at the beginning. He looked down a lot. He didn't make eye contact often. And President Trump was constantly making eye contact, or trying to, with him. But - so it was interesting. I just wondered what was - because I've been in the room - that room with Putin -

KING: Right.

CALMES: And when it was President Obama, and he'd usually be sitting back on the chair like that to just telegraph disrespect. But it was a different Putin I saw there.

KING: Right. And so the question is, what was his calculation?

CALMES: Right.

KING: Because everything with Putin is calculated. That's part of the thing.

And you mentioned, having been in those rooms - and this is a room that, you know, President Trump hasn't been in before and in some ways people say, well, is there an experience gap? In other ways people say, that's an advantage. You're new, you're different, you're not bound by the old ways of doing things.

BETSY WOODRUFF, "THE DAILY BEAST": There's a distinct possibility that Trump went into this meeting with an overly optimistic perspective on what could happen. We've seen reports that Trump administration officials say he went in hoping to make a deal with Putin potentially involving Syria, working together against ISIS. Based on the status quo in Syria right now, that is not something that's likely to happen.

As of now, as we're pushing ISIS back, as those troops are currently being pushed out of Syria, a huge problem is how the U.S. and Russia manage de-confliction. It's hard enough just keeping American trooping and their proxies from getting in sort of like conflict with Russian troops and their proxies, much the less actually cooperating with them on that. So Trump seems to be overthinking once again.

KING: Yes, and I know - yes, and I know Trump voters or Trump supporters, when I mention what I'm about to mention, will just roll their eyes. But ask John Kerry and ask the Obama administration, which thought they had several agreements with the Russians about small, incremental steps toward de-confliction and maybe a little bit of political progress in Syria. And every time they took one step forward, they took three steps back. But - but we don't resolve - we expect them to resolve world crises at this meeting but getting to know you and at least striking a professional relationship is critical.

MICHAEL SHEAR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It is critical but this president is inflicted with the same kind of misconceptions that many presidents, new presidents, come in with on the foreign stage, which is that they think it's all about the personal relationship. And the truth is that on the margins personal relationships between presidents can - and heads of state can help, but at the end of the day it's about the interests of the who countries and - and many times presidents have gone in to these relationships thinking their - you know, we can - we can be pals and that somehow that's going to paper over big differences in, you know, geopolitical problems across the globe and it just doesn't. I mean, you know, even putting aside all of the kind of Russian meddling and the election stuff, you know, Syria, North Korea, China, trade, you know, climate change, I mean there's like huge political and geopolitical issues. And having a relationship doesn't fix that.

KING: Having a relationship doesn't fix that. It does hopefully help you do the stuff you can do or must do when world crises strike. But to the point, a long list of, what did they say about Syria? What did they say about Iran? How much did North Korea, because of recent missile tests, jump into the conversation? Hopefully we'll find that out in the moment ahead as the meeting breaks up.

But one of the big question here, what, if anything, will the president of the United States say about Russian election meddling. Now, we don't know. The White House says there - the White House aides tell you they're not even sure how the president will address this issue, if he will address it. If we got a hint yesterday from the president, this is when he was in Poland, it was muddled.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people and other countries.


KING: Now, people who wanted to take a hard line say that's not the way to do it, especially with somebody like Vladimir Putin. That if you - you need to get on the record that - what Republican hawks in Congress, Democratic liberals in Congress, a lot of people in the foreign policy establishment, even some of Trump's own national security team members will tell you privately, they want him to look Putin in the eye and say, we know what you did, we know what you're doing, don't do it again or there would be consequences.

HULSE: That comment wouldn't lead me to believe that that is what's going to happen in that meeting.


KING: But he surprises us sometimes.

HULSE: Right, and he can go, you know, sort of off-script. But he just does not want to acknowledge that he thinks that that undermines his presidency, and he's just really reluctant to go there, despite pretty unanimous opinion in Congress and in the intelligence agencies.

KING: Is it - it's all about legitimacy? I mean am I - am I wrong in saying that if they can - they could come out of this meeting and they could tell us, he looked President Putin in the eye and he said, I know what you did, I know what you're trying to do, I've seen it in my country, I've seen it in Europe, I've seen it around the world, stop or there will be consequences. That would take a lot of wind out of the sails of the people criticizing him every day, would it not?

SHEAR: I think - I think it would. I - the problem is that President Trump has never been able to disconnect the two pieces of the Russian story. There's the piece about the Russian meddling into the election, which is about democracy and their interference in democracy, and then there's the piece about the investigation into him and his people. And he can't ever seem to disconnect those. If he could, he could focus on the former and let the latter kind of sit to the side. But that's the problem.

[12:10:19] WOODRUFF: And, additionally, Trump has never showed much interest in mollifying his critics when it comes to the Russia situation. It's not something he's really bent over backwards to work on.

CALMES: Yes, and if he went in and said what you said to say, but, you know, I know what you did and there's going to be consequences if you continue, that would really throw Putin off because it would be so unexpected and, you know, the - President Trump could own the rest of the meeting just about. But there's nothing to suggest that he was going to go in and do that.

And Congressman McCall, a Republican who chairs the Homeland Security Committee today and has briefed President Trump in the past, he said that this is not on the agenda for the president going in. So - and yesterday, if you're prepared, if you're the Russians and you're preparing for this meeting and yesterday you see the president on TV dissing his predecessor so - so aggressively -

KING: Publicly and openly on the world stage.

CALMES: And questioning his own intelligence community yet again, and saying that, you know, OK, it was Russia, but it was other people, too. It - I mean you're just like high-fiving thinking, you know, going into this meeting.

KING: Yes, the Russians won the pregame. There's no doubt about that. The question is - we're still waiting, that's why you want to stay right here with us, we're waiting for the meeting to break up. We're waiting to find out more about it.

Let me ask you this before we take a quick break. Does this matter? Look at this experience gap. Vladimir Putin in the national government of Russia for 21 years. He was also in the KGB. He was the St. Petersburg mayor. He has other political experience before that. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has been on the job in diplomacy and now he's the foreign minister for 45 years. Donald Trump has been president for just shy of six months. Rex Tillerson, his first government job. He's been secretary of state for five-plus months. Does that matter? Does the experience gap matter when it comes to negotiating these things, or, you know, Ronald Reagan was new at this when he started. Everyone said he was a little nuts. Everyone said he didn't know what he was doing and he brought the Berlin Wall down.

HULSE: Well, he had been governor of a major state, too, for two terms.

KING: Right.

HULSE: I think it does matter. I - you know, this is not their first rodeo. They've been down this. They - we already, you know, have concerns about, you know, how trustworthy they are. I think it does make a difference. CALMES: Well, and I know there are people out there that are saying, well, Donald Trump's been in these sort of - in negotiations as a real estate magnate for all these years. It's not the same thing. It's not the same thing at all.

KING: Right. Right, it's a different universe.

WOODRUFF: Additionally there's the question of whether or not Trump actually has the clout in this meeting to make Putin think he has the credibility in their negotiations. Not just, is there a difference in experience, but also in power. Putin is a much more powerful leader of his country than Trump is in the United States. If they want to talk about sanctions, Putin can fairly ask if Trump can actually keep any commitments that he might potentially want to make about rolling back any sanctions on Russia because the Congress has been so comfortable going around the president, just doing its own thing.

KING: Ninety-seven to two, the vote in the United States Senate on those sanctions. We're waiting for the House to follow-up. That's an excellent point. We have a different way of doing things here, Mr. Putin.

Up next, so many potential flashpoints, so much at stake. That all- important first meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, now two hours and counting.


[12:17:35] KING: Welcome back.

A reminder, still underway in Hamburg, Germany, a meeting between the presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin now in the room together for more than two hours and counting. A meeting initially scheduled for 35 minutes, going on. We will get a readout when that meeting is over. We'll bring you that information as soon as possible.

Now, though, some big news here on the home front, strong jobs news today. A timely boost for the president as he attends the global economic summit. The government reports the United States economy added 222,000 jobs in June. That's a robust report that came in above expectations. The unemployment rate ticked up a bit to 4.4 percent, but for the right reasons. The rate went up because thousands of Americans who had given up looking for work decided to get off the sidelines and back in the jobs hunt.

Still, even with strong numbers today, is the economy suddenly experiencing a gangbusters Trump effect as the president suggests?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is blazing and on every front we're doing well.

The assault on the American auto industry, believe me, is over. When I say that the stock market is at an all-time high, we've picked

up in market value almost $4 trillion since November 8th. Personally, I picked up nothing, but that's all right. Everyone else is getting rich. That's OK. I'm very happy.


KING: Nice joke from the president there.

Optimistic talk, but the numbers don't lie. Take a look at this chart that compares the monthly job growth from the first five full months of the Trump presidency to the same five months last year. When you average those numbers out, the economy was adding 20,000 more jobs a month under President Obama. Same time, as you look at it, last year. That's just not to criticize President Trump. Any president, when the economy's going good, that's what you want as president, whether you - you get the blame if it's bad, even if not your fault. You get credit, or you should get credit when it's good, even if it's not your doing. The issue is more his rhetoric where he tells people just about every event he goes to, because I'm president, things are gangbusters. The numbers aren't there, at least yet.

CALMES: Right. Well, in fairness to President Trump, the employment numbers are slightly lower than the same time last year, is to be expected when you're at full employment (ph). There are just fewer jobs to be had and fewer people to take them. But the idea of taking credit for it, that there's been some sort of Trump agenda that has made this possible is just belied by the facts that there's really been very - there's been nothing, no major legislation, come out of Congress and the - even many of the regulatory changes that he's proposed haven't taken effect yet. And, you know, and the clip you played about him saying the war on the American auto worker is over. Well, President Obama rescued - over Republican objections, rescued the auto industry. And so those - those sort of claims, you know, he's taking too much credit. He's doing no harm at this point is about the best you can say.

[12:20:27] KING: Right. And yet there is the psychological effect. And I think in the sense that if the markets - and we can show the Dow. It's up just shy of 100 right there. Since Election Day, the Dow is up quite considerably. We were talking during the break when the Dow at 20,000 was considered impossible. Now you see the Dow flirting with 22,000, I think, if we show the big number. In the sense that in the markets there is this psychology that Trump is pro-business, that they're doing to do more on the regulatory front, that they will get to tax reform. It's that last part that they will get to tax reform. We're in July now.

HULSE: Well, I noticed - I noticed something new from Republicans today. You know, early on in the Trump administration they would herald, look at these numbers. It looks great. You know, we're back in business. Today I heard Republican members saying, you know, these numbers show we still have work to do. They need a rationale to push tax reform. So they've actually changed their tone a little bit from what - even what the president is saying. They're saying, you know, it's still sluggish. We need to get the economy moving again. Now, they have political reasons for doing that, but it is a shift.

KING: Right.

SHEAR: I also think we shouldn't let that clip go by with him saying that he - that other people are getting rich and he isn't. I mean, let's be clear, the president put his massive fortune in a trust, not a blind trust even, but a trust being managed by his children, but that - that is still affected by the global economy and the stock market as well. And he is quite certainly benefiting from this - from this stock market in any way that the rest of us are.

WOODRUFF: Another issue with what Trump said is he said the economy's going gang busters on basically every level. That's not actually a correct reading of this jobs report. Even though there's a lot for the White House to love, we don't see wage or productively growth nearly at the rates they should be. If you talk to folks at Trump rallies, none of them said, oh, I hope Trump becomes president so the Dow goes to 20,000. They wanted Trump to be president so their wages would go up, so their paychecks would get bigger, so they could have optimism that, if you're in the rust belt, if you're in the farm belt, you actually have more take-home pay. This jobs report does not indicate that that's happening yet. That's something the White House should potentially be keeping an eye on.

SHEAR: And the danger - and the real danger for the president is that he doesn't learn what so many of his predecessors did, which is that if - when you get to the point where your rhetoric is completely disconnected from the way people feel on the ground, that's a dangerous moment. And while there are certainly lots of people in the country who feel better right now and who feel like the economy is improving, there are big swaths of the country, places where the - you know, where wages are still really low or where the jobs just aren't - haven't come back and a lot of those are his people.

KING: And that's where we see the political flip side. Remember, you started to get the first year of the Obama administration was horrible because he inherited the recession. It was - we were losing jobs. Then in the second term, though, as things started to recover, when you would have jobs comparable to now even a little bit stronger than we're getting now, 225, 250, sometimes 270, the Republicans would always find, you know, a cloud, a piece of coal in that. Now the Democrats find 222,000 jobs last month is a good report. It's a robust report. All Americans should be happy the economy is creating jobs.

Nancy Pelosi, "more than six months into the Congress, Republicans still have no infrastructure bill, no budget, no tax reform and no jobs agenda of any kind." That's, back to your point about Democrats now trying to create the political environment, which Republican were pretty good at, that when this president tells you, yea, look at your check, look at your paycheck, look around your neighborhood, look around your community, look at that factory that still has the padlock on it.

HULSE: Yes, they learned from what the Republicans did and then Washington, you know, everybody always flips immediately.

CALMES: Right.

HULSE: I think you also have to think back and remember that the Trump administration questioned these numbers, just their basic legitimacy, and now they're seizing on them. I think this is going to be a back and forth over the next few months leading into a 2018 election that's going to be about economic gains and which side can sell it?

KING: And so for the Republicans in 2018, when you're defending Congress, what do the numbers show then? If you're the president of the United States, you have more time. And so I think him being optimistic - because you want the president to be a cheerleader for the country. The question is, does he get too disconnected to the point Michael made, and you - you talked about the auto industry. Let's just look at that one. The president's made a big deal. He says he's going to keep American auto jobs here. He's lectured American auto companies about moving jobs overseas. A lot of them are still doing that. A look at the numbers. But in terms of making cars, if you look at 2016 and you look at 2017, the rate for the big three, the Detroit based Fiat, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, it's actually down. It's actually down. So, again, the president's - the president's rhetoric is more optimistic than the actual numbers and this is a snapshot. At the end of the year maybe it will be different. The president's cheerleading will (INAUDIBLE). But there is a political risk of getting too far ahead of yourself.

WOODRUFF: Another fun tidbit in this jobs report, as well as these car numbers which are fascinating, is that the sector of the economy that grew the most was health care. The president is talking about re- inventing the American health care system, but that's where we've seen the most jobs added, 37,000.

CALMES: Right.

[12:25:09] WOODRUFF: Something to keep an eye on.

KING: All right, we're going take a quick break. And we want to mention, we're still waiting, more than two hours now, President Trump has been in the room with President Vladimir Putin. We know they're talking about Syria. We know they're talking about Ukraine. Are they talking about election meddling? We hope to find out when that meeting breaks up. Stay with us.


KING: Welcome back.

A reminder, we're still waiting for word on the Trump/Putin meeting in Hamburg, Germany. It was supposed to last 35 minutes. It is running more than two hour now. We believe it is still ongoing. Other leaders beginning to show up for an evening reception at the G-20. But, at the moment, President Trump and President Putin still, to the best of our knowledge, in their conversations. Ukraine, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, perhaps Russian election meddling in the United States on the agenda. You see the other leaders arriving there. We're continue to track the meeting between the president of the United States and the president of the Russian Federation. [12:29:51] Every meeting between the American and Russian presidents

is a big deal, but today's had added importance and more global interest, well, for a very long list of reasons. Here's some. President Trump's just shy of six months on the job. Russia orchestrated what the intelligence community says was unprecedented cyber and other interference in the 2016 U.S. election. But President Trump hates to talk about it.