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Trump, Haley Speak at U.N. Reform Meeting; Trump Debuts America's First Agenda at U.N.. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired September 18, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: -- that it will be achieved. You are the reason change is coming to the U.N.
It is now my honor to introduce someone who is no stranger to change, Donald Trump has a businessman's eye for seeing potential and he sees great potential not just in this reform movement, but in the United Nations itself. He shares your commitment to creating a more effective advocate for peace, security, and human rights. We are deeply grateful he has taken the time to be with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, President Donald J. Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much.
I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project.
So I want to thank you, Ambassador Haley, for your introduction and for your steadfast advocacy for American interests on the world stage.
On behalf of the co-host countries, I would like to also thank Secretary General Guterres for -- and you have been fantastic -- for joining us, and we affirm our commitment to the United Nations reform. And reform is what we're talking about.
I applaud the Secretary General for laying out a vision to reform the United Nations so that it better serves the people we all represent. We support your efforts to look across the entire system and to find ways the United Nations can better, and be better at development, management, peace, and security.
The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals. These include affirming the dignity and worth of the human person and striving for international peace. The United Nations has helped advance toward these goals in so many ways, feeding the hungry, providing disaster relief, and empowering women and girls in many societies all across the world.
Yet in recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment. But I know that under the Secretary General, that's changing and it's changing fast. And we've seen it.
That's why we commend the Secretary General and his call for the United Nations to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy. We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process.
To honor the people of our nations, we must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that's militarily or financially. We also ask that every peacekeeping mission have clearly defined goals and metrics for evaluating success. They deserve to see the value in the United Nations, and it is our job to show it to them.
We encourage the Secretary General to fully use his authority to cut through the bureaucracy, reform outdated systems, and make firm decisions to advance the U.N.'s core mission. Further, we encourage all member states to look at ways to take bold stands at the United Nations with an eye toward changing business as usual and not being beholden to ways of the past which were not working.
Mr. Secretary General, the United States and the member states present today support this great reform vision. We pledge to be partners in your work, and I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms, the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just, and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. And I look forward to advancing these shared goals in the years to come, and it is a great honor to be with you today.
[10:05:03] HALEY: I came to the United Nations about the same time as the Secretary General. He and I share a mission to find value in the U.N. We share the goal of a better United Nations. Not a cheaper U.N. or a more expensive U.N., not a smaller one, or a bigger one, a better United Nations, an organization with the trusts and the capability to deliver on its mandate to promote peace, security, and human rights.
Over the past eight months, he has been a partner and become a friend. His leadership brings us together today. Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Mr. President, thank you very much for your engagement and support. I also thank Ambassador Haley for her leadership, her partnership and her commitment. And I am very grateful to all the leaders here today.
Someone recently asked what keeps me up at night. My answer was simple, bureaucracy, fragmented structures, byzantine procedures and endless red tape. Someone out to undermine the U.N. could not have come up with a better way to do it than by imposing some of the rules -
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are listening to the Secretary General of the United States, Secretary General Guterres speaking there. We'll monitor these remarks.
But let's bring back in our panel, Jeff Zeleny, Jim Sciutto, Nia- Malika Henderson and Admiral Kirby.
It's very interesting if you listen to the tone and the language that the president used to describe what he believes are failings of the United States.
Admiral, to you first, it could not have been more measured, his criticism of the U.N. which is so vastly different from not a friend of democracy, not a friend of freedom, saying that it causes problems. Not today.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No. No, did you see, if you watched Secretary General watching the president deliver those remarks, he was fairly beaming I think and happy to hear the more measured tone by Trump and you can hear in just a few minutes that we heard of the Secretary General. He was echoing, in fact, with more detail what the president did, the problems at the U.N. of bureaucracy and red tape. And all of those are valid concerns.
I mean, I think, we've all known that the United Nations can be a much more efficient organization for many, many years. So I think everybody welcomes this reform effort. This is one thing you would -- I think that everybody can get behind, including President Trump that the U.N. needs to be a little bit more efficient and more effective.
HARLOW: Jim Sciutto, what are your thoughts? Let me just read some of the quotes from the president here. The U.N. has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. We've seen the results, he talked about a rising budget, but not as much getting done, but he said that is all changing because of the Secretary General.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it's not a new point, particularly from a Republican president, to take shots at the U.N., for efficiency, for a waste of money and actually it's interesting because Donald Trump and his Secretary of State, you can argue, have taken shots at their own State Department.
HARLOW: 100 percent.
SCIUTTO: Many senior positions not filled, morale inside the State Department building at Foggy Bottom is really low and it's been low before, particularly low now. So there have been substantive moves by this administration to downgrade, you know, the role of diplomatic institutions.
But on the flip side, there's been a great need for the U.N., particularly with regards to the response to North Korea. The Trump administration needs and needed the U.N. to get through these penalties, economic sanctions, not as strong -- as they wanted but needed them.
HARLOW: He didn't bring them up. That was interesting.
SCIUTTO: He didn't. I have to think tomorrow in his more formal because this is about efficiency as opposed to about the real mission, national security priorities, et cetera. But Trump being Trump, of course, he also in his comments has to make a reference to a Trump Tower across the street from the U.N. as a -- as an example of the success of the U.N. -
HARLOW: Let me read that.
HARLOW: Let me read that. I'm glad you brought that up. OK.
He talked about success and things changing and getting better at the U.N. OK. Then he said, I actually saw great potential right across the street. Of course, right across the street is Trump World Tower on United Nations plaza, a huge building here in New York. He said it turned out to be a very successful project due to its proximity to the United Nations.
Nia-Malika Henderson, there's actually a bit of a backstory to this also?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, I think sort of the context for this is in many ways - I mean this is sort of Trump's approach to everything. This is essentially he says this not only about the U.N., right? That it's in need of reform. -
HENDERSON: He sees great potential in the U.N. And he can sort of bring that magic touch to the U.N. in the same way he's saying the same thing, I think about the American government, right?
[10:10:03] It is an institution that is embroiled in red tape and here he is. He can bring sort of a magic touch of being a businessman in the same way that -- he did with Trump Tower to course right across the street from the U.N. So I think it is classic Trump there that he is patting himself on the back about his success as a businessman. I'm sure that was not in the script there, but in some ways -
HARLOW: All right. Nia, hold that thought. My apologies for interrupting. Let's listen to Nikki Haley.
HALEY: -- speak with one voice and the future of this institution is worth the extra mile. Our goal is to convince the delegations that have not yet signed the declaration to join the effort for a more efficient, accountable and transparent U.N.
The United States believes we can make history by coming together as a true global community for reform. In the coming weeks and months, we will be considering the Secretary General's broader vision. This is an opportunity for all of us to seize this moment and ensure that United Nations remains relevant.
We must challenge traditional mindsets, inertia and resistance to change. We will do this together. I hope we can count on your help. Thank you, again, and let's make it a new day at the United Nations.
HARLOW: Showing once again how deliberate her choice of wording is there. Make it a new day at the United Nations. She reiterated exactly what she told our Dana Bash here yesterday. Nia-Malika, you were in the middle of speaking as we went to Nikki Haley.
HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, we were talking about sort of a Trump's off- the-cuff remarks about the Trump Tower that's across the street. In some ways Nikki Haley sort of set him up for that talking about him as a businessman. And in many ways, those are going to be I think whatever his asides are in some ways will be much of the focus as the actual text, right? Him strain from the text will be as much as important as whatever is written before him. And always interesting to see the president on script there, he isn't, you know, as emotive when he is reading as he is when he is off-the-cuff. So I think we're going to see in many ways a very constrained Trump in measured Trump over these next couple of days.
HARLOW: He's greeting world leaders now, shaking hands. Talk about the day ahead, he has, Jeff Zeleny as we look. I'm not sure if you can see these images of the president just departing the room here, rather, brief remarks from him and Nikki Haley as well. But he has a big day ahead --of that big speech he has tomorrow.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He does, indeed, Poppy. And we can see these images here as the president is really greeting these world leaders. And that's important to point out as the president did at the very beginning there, that this is happening in his hometown. He loves to show off the Oval Office, of course, as we've seen but he also wants to show off New York City. And of course, by mentioning Trump World Tower there, mentioning that he's a real estate executive.
But the most important meetings as Jim Sciutto mentioning earlier are, indeed, these individual one-on-one meetings that he will be having and today, the two of the leading meetings he'll be meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the French President Emmanuel Macron. He will be doing those meetings off site here nearby. And those are really the moments and the -- and the minutes that we watch for new relationships building, what the about the will say, about the Iran nuclear agreement, et cetera.
But again, just watching and I think it's important to put in context here. The president inside the United Nations building, even though he lives blocks away from here, he has a property across the United Nations Plaza here. We believe, Poppy, this is the first time that Mr. Trump certainly as president but overall has been in this building. He's been unusually critical of the United Nations and he has even been as so specific in his criticism as talking about the emerald green sort of backdrop that will be behind him tomorrow when he addresses the general assembly.
He said that look if he's -- becomes president he would do a remodeling job. He equipped that last year. Of course no remodeling of the emerald in the works but he is talking about reforming the U.N. So I think this is so interesting again, seeing this, you know, real estate mogul now on the world stage here as president. A building he's been very critical of. Do not look for him to be as critical or sharp about the U.N. today. His words will be much more measured as we just saw a few moments ago, Poppy.
HARLOW: Clearly just displayed. Something tells me that money is needed for other things other than new marble behind the podium there. Jim Sciutto in all seriousness though that these world leaders and the delegations that he was shaking hands with, these are people who when they saw the Trump budget outlined, you know, six months ago, were terrified about what America First means for global diplomacy that saves lives.
[10:15:02] SCIUTTO: Absolutely.
HARLOW: They were very concerned and so they want to hear what this president will say.
SCIUTTO: Well, they do. And listen, you'll have the words and then you have the actions, right?
SCIUTTO: And you saw in those comments there the measured Trump, the scripted Trump and tomorrow I think you can expect that as well, although the message will be strong tomorrow about America First. There's going to be no backing off that by this administration or by this president. But then you have the actions.
And to be clear, while in the budget, for instance, you have a deep lessening of America's prioritization of U.N. priorities. In other places, the U.N. Security Council is back, front and center in the major national security crisis of the time which is North Korea. And everyone involved recognizes that they need that body.
Now you have had Haley and McMaster say that well, the U.N. has done all it can on this and we're going to go to the - you know, we may very well go to military options, but the fact is Trump needs the U.N. here. And it's those substantive moves that I think are going to be more telling to the world leaders present there today. At the end of the day Donald Trump's president of the United States.
The United States, you know, for all the discomfort you've heard publicly from them and even more so in private from many European and international diplomats, the fact is he's the American president. They've got to go shake his hand. They need him not just on North Korea but any long range of issues that they're facing right now.
HARLOW: Not shaking his hand will be two big players on the Security Council with veto power, though Russia's leader and China's leader not attending which would have been critical meetings as well for this president.
Thank you very much, Jim Sciutto, Jeff Zeleny, Nia-Malika Henderson, Rear Admiral John Kirby. We appreciate it.
The president is expected to - as you've just heard -- push this America First agenda throughout his big debut at the United Nations. Interestingly Jeff Zeleny said the first time he's been in the building. Not just as president but the first time he's been in there.
What Republicans are saying about the meeting today and their hopes for his big speech tomorrow?
Then, how Facebook could become key or perhaps already is key in the Russia investigation.
And President Trump may not have won an Emmy last night, but he loomed large in the room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "2017 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS": We know that the biggest TV star of the last year is Donald Trump. Yes. No. You may not like it. He's the biggest star, you know, and Alec Baldwin, obviously, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:21:26] HARLOW: All right. You're looking at images from just moments ago as the president addressed the United Nations for the first time as sitting president. He talked about the U.N. being held back by bureaucracy, a ballooning budget that wasn't in line with accomplishments. But he said things are getting much better under the Secretary General who he sat next to and talked about -- encouraged member states to take a bold stance to, quote, "change business as usual."
Joining me now, with reaction, CNN political commentator Paris Dennard and Gabby Morrongiello, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner." So nice to have you both here.
Gabby, to you first, the president didn't let the U.N. off the hook. I mean, he was critical of it. But this was the completely different tone, completely different word choice than he has used in the past to call the U.N. not a defender of freedom or democracy.
GABBY MORRONGIELLO, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Right. I mean it's a total 180 from the campaign rhetoric we heard from him back in 2016, but, you know, as he was sitting there next to the U.N. Secretary General Guterres, you can tell that they're allies on wanting U.N. reforms. The president has said that he intended to come to New York this week to really push for that and to show that the United States is going to be urging other countries to get on board. And I think that was made clear not only in his brief remarks this morning but will probably be reiterated time and time again throughout this week as me meets with various foreign leaders and continues to emphasize the need for some of these reforms that both he and Guterres think are necessary for this institution.
HARLOW: Paris, how did you see the president's remarks this morning and what are you looking ahead for as he gets ready for that big main address to the U.N. tomorrow.
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Poppy, one of the things that I looked at was the optics of it. I thought it was a powerful statement, a moment for our country to have the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, sitting next to the U.N. Secretary General Guterres as well as Ambassador Nikki Haley, whom I think is an all-star. I was with her at AEI a few weeks ago listening to her talk about the growing and consistent threat that we face against North Korea and then right behind him, Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Habib Powell.
I think those images, the strong powerful women that are advising this president as -- and leading this country on these international affairs, I thought the president's remarks were appropriate. I thought that he did a very good job at showing his sincere desire for reform. He was giving a similar message that he gave to the American people about what he wants to do to reduce the size of government and to have accountability for the U.S. and he was taking it right to the United Nations.
And there's a key point that Ambassador Haley said, she says, it's going to be a new day for the United Nations which is the playback to what she was saying as governor it's a great day in South Carolina. So you can see both of them taking their past experiences one as a businessman and the other as a governor, and bringing that to the United Nations to promote peace and prosperity.
I think his speech tomorrow is going to be very direct, I think it's going to be very firm. I don't think it will have arbitrary red lines that they cannot meet as we've seen in past administrations. But it's going to be a clear message. And we're going to hear the Trump doctrine on the global scale and he always performs well, putting America First.
HARLOW: So here's the thing, I mean, Gabby, that's a hard line to walk, the America First rhetoric, the Trump budget and the cuts that were proposed in a number of these aid programs while increasing military spending that, of course, would be welcomed by some of these member nations, but, you know, the cuts not welcomed by others.
[10:25:06] How does he walk that line to please his base and the promise of America First while also addressing these global leaders on the world stage and saying you have a partner in the United States?
MORRONGIELLO: Well look, I mean, I think if you harken back to the speech that he gave - I think it was last June here in Washington, D.C., where he really first espoused the America First foreign policy. It's something that he's going to have to draw from in this speech to let America's allies know that, you know our country is going to come first and that we are looking at reforming and making budget cuts here domestically, but that isn't going to impact necessarily those relationships and, you know, decades long alliances we have. It is a fine line that he's going to have to walk and it's certainly something that will be interesting to see, you know, how he does tackle that speech tomorrow.
But I think Paris is right, he has to come out tomorrow and be very firm in calling for these reforms and making clear that as the president of the United States, protecting his own nation and making sure that Americans are, you know, getting the best bang for their buck in whatever sense of the term, is his first priority and that protecting other countries and working with other countries to improve various relationships is second to that. And that's something that the president has said all along since, you know, the very first announcement of his presidential ambitions and I think that it's something that we'll see in that speech tomorrow. I know it's something he's been working on this speech, you know, with his speech writers. It's not something that's coming out of just the -
MORRONGIELLO: -- presidential speech writing. It's something he's been really involved in. So it will be interesting to see the rhetoric tomorrow.
HARLOW: We will watch that speech in 24 hours, pretty much exactly, from now. I believe at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. You'll see it right here our special live coverage from the United Nations. Gabby, nice to have you. Paris, we appreciate it.
Also, a tropical triple threat barreling through the Atlantic right now with one significant storm, Hurricane Maria, threatening to follow right in Irma's path. Stay with us.