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Trump Reaches Out to Russia, Rebuffs Allies Ahead of G-7; Trump Combining Pardons, Kneeling NFL Players; Trump's Scheduled Meeting with Macron Postponed Over Trade Matters. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 8, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's now moving to where the summit is actually taking place, some two hours from the site where we are right now.

The president expected to take part in a number of group sessions as well as one-on-one bilateral meetings with his French and Canadian counterparts on the heels of the president calling out both French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for what he calls unfair trade practices. Both sides going back and forth. We may hear something from them, not only on trade, but also this fresh invitation from President Trump to Vladimir Putin to rejoin the G-7 or re-create the G-8, something that is likely thrilling news to Vladimir Putin, not so much the invitation, but the symbolism of it. Yet another rift between President Trump and some of the United States' closest and oldest allies. As you noted, Russia has done little to atone for its aggressive acts around the world. So it will be interesting to see how some of the G-7 leaders respond to this.

Another notable moment to watch for is this traditional group photo. It is going to happen at 2:00 eastern time. The world leaders are going to gather for this group photograph. The body language when that image is taken, Kate, will be ripe for interpretation.


Boris, thank you so much. We'll be watching all of these moments as they play out, watching them all together.

Joining me to discuss, Tony Blinken is here, a CNN global affairs analyst, former deputy secretary of state under President Obama, and Stephen Moore, senior economic analyst and former Trump campaign economic adviser.

Tony, you were at the White House when President Obama and other world leaders suspended Russia from the G-8. What do you think about now about letting them back in?

TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Kate, you had it exactly right. There was a good reason they were suspended. It was a G-7 before it was a G-8. They were invited in in hopes they would be a responsible international actor. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the invasion of Crimea and then eastern Ukraine. Since then, they doubled down, shooting down a civilian airliner over Ukraine, poisoning their adversaries abroad, meddling in our elections, seeding corruption wherever they go. They are far from becoming a responsible international actor. They tried to disrupt not just the international system, but the relationship between the United States and its European partners, trying to create as much division as they can. And unfortunately, President Trump extending this invitation really does make Vladimir Putin's day. It is accomplishing everything Putin set out to accomplish in dividing the United States from its closest partners.

BOLDUAN: Stephen, do you think the president doesn't know or doesn't care about all of this?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, I agree with Tony. I think -- I'm an old Reagan cold warrior. Russia is misbehaving here, and they should not be rewarded in my opinion by rejoining the G-7 summit. Russia is a bad actor, just as China is. Those are our two adversaries around the world.

The big story here, though, is the meeting with the global leaders and Trump is now meeting with them in a time when the American economy is really booming and a lot of these other countries, especially Europe, they see their economy sliding into a ditch. And so Trump does have a bit of an upper hand here because you can simply say, look, follow my lead, I've got an America First policy on taxes, on regulations, on trade, and it seems to be working.

One other quick point, you know, I'm a free trade person. It is factually true what Donald Trump is saying, our trading partners are imposing tariffs on American goods and services at a much higher rate than we charge them to bring goods into our market and Trump says that's not fair and I think a lot of --


BOLDUAN: Right, but you already told me you don't support the way he's reacting to it, though.

MOORE: Well, I think it is a dangerous strategy. Because we don't want to -- we don't want a trade war. I do think Trump feels very strong -- let me just give you one tangible example.


BOLDUAN: How do you know when you're in a trade war is one thing I would love to know.


MOORE: When you start seeing --


MOORE: Well, when the tariffs start going up rather than down. Donald Trump's goal here is to get these -- our trading partners to reduce tariffs on American goods.

I was going to mention one example of why this stuff matters for American consumers. Canada, one of our closest allies, they're imposing price controls on our drugs and vaccines, our pharmaceutical industry. And that means that we have to charge our American consumers more because the Canadians aren't paying their fair share. That costs American consumers billions of dollars. It's just one example of an unfairness that Donald Trump wants to alleviate to benefit American consumers.

BOLDUAN: This seems to be -- even before Donald Trump said this about welcoming Russia back to the table, things were already going to be rough, if you will, Tony, when he sits down with folks.


BOLDUAN: And President Macron -- let me read -- it's OK -- President Macron's tweet where -- what he said just yesterday: "The American president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be because these six countries represent values, they represent an economic market which is -- has the weight of history behind it, and which is now a true international force."

A G-6 plus one would be a major change of world order.

[11:35:15] BLINKEN: Kate, it is turning into a G-6 versus one. That's even worse. This is where America First is America alone and it shouldn't be that way.

Two things. This is happening in a context, and the context is not just the tariff war that the president initiated, but before that, pulling out of the Paris climate deal, pulling out of the Trans- Pacific Partnership and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. All things matter to our partners and to basically run roughshod over their own views and interests Alienated a lot of them. That is the environment it is happening.

Look I also --


BLINKEN: -- he makes an important point that there really are legitimate trade grievances that we have with some of our partners. But there's a way to deal with them. One way to deal with them is to go to the World Trade Organization, which the president maligns, and work through that process. Another way is to get a more comprehensive agreement which the Obama administration was working on, the infamous tea tip with Europe that has been abandoned. It is another thing to actually initiate a tariff war. Now we're going to be paying for it and so will Europe. Whether it is peanuts, whether it is Harley- Davidson motorcycles, whether it is you name it, a whole series of products, the Europeans, the Canadians are not retreating, they're retaliating and we're getting into the trade war.

BOLDUAN: Tony, Stephen, I --

(CROSSTALK) MOORE: Let me quickly respond to that. A couple of points. First of all, of course, we pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. That was one of the worst deals ever for America. Of course, the rest of world wanted us to be in it, because we were going to pay tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for it. Trump just basically said, this is not our interest, we're the world major producer of oil, gas and coal, and the climate change deal wanted to put those businesses out of business. Now I agree --


BLINKEN: -- and let's see where we are.

MOORE: It was a horrible deal. I've seen these deals --


MOORE: It put America last. I mean, Trump believes --


MOORE: We have to put -- we have to put American workers first. Not the French workers first. Not the Chinese workers first. And --


BOLDUAN: Sometimes --


BOLDUAN: -- Chinese workers first. When you look at the deal he says he's striking with over ZTE, I can't find a Republican who says that's a good idea.


MOORE: Which deal are you talking about?



MOORE: Sorry, which?



BLINKEN: The president explicitly said he was putting China's workers first.

MOORE: ZTE, right. I think Trump probably -- that was a misstep by Donald Trump. But the point I'm trying to make is that we now have the strongest economy in the world. And this idea that the rest of the world is going to go on without us, I mean, we're the biggest consumer market in the world. How -- China can't grow without access to the American market. These European countries need to be able to trade with the United States. And all Donald Trump is saying is, look, play by the rules. You agreed that we were going to have a free trade agreement and reduce our tariffs. And by the way, the World Trade Organization has done nothing about this for the last 15 years.

BOLDUAN: I just want to -- I just don't think -- to go back to where we began -- I just don't foresee that Donald Trump's position on the Paris Climate Accord would have kind of torpedoed this G-6 summit if he had not followed up with everything he said since then.

MOORE: No, no, no.


BOLDUAN: I know.

MOORE: I agree with that. My point is that all these Europeans say, oh, America is a bad actor because we pulled out of the Paris accord. We pulled out of it because it wasn't in America's national interest.


MOORE: And they do want us to pay -- they want us to pay for the cost of all of this stuff.

BOLDUAN: Let us see.

MOORE: And Trump is right. I mean, Trump said this all the time on the campaign trail, the rest of the world is laughing behind our back and they were.


BOLDUAN: Let's see --

BLINKEN: -- closest partners around the world --


BOLDUAN: Let us see if this summit can pull it back in.


BOLDUAN: I have much skepticism if they're going to be able to pull it back in, though.

Tony, Stephen, thank you so much.

BLINKEN: Thanks.

MOORE: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Another day, another pardon. President Trump today telling reporters he has many more names in mind and might reach out to protesting NFL players to see if they have any suggestions. Yes, he said that this morning. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:23] BOLDUAN: President Trump made clear he's enjoying the sweeping power unique to his office, the power to pardon. Today, he said, just as much, and now says he has more names in mind. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be more pardons. I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson, which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone, and some great boxers, I thought Jack Johnson was a great one. I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well, and he went through a lot. And he wasn't very popular then.


TRUMP: And he wasn't very popular then. No, I'm not thinking about O.J.. But he's not -- only you can say O.J. But he's -- he was -- look, he was not very popular then. He certainly -- his memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously.


BOLDUAN: Seems like maybe that wouldn't be a controversial pick, something many would celebrate. If it weren't for one thing. Muhammad Ali doesn't need a pardon at all. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction of dodging the draft in 1971. Ali's attorney put out a statement saying that essentially, "There's no conviction from which a pardon is needed," he wrote.

Beyond that, the president is looking to combine two of his passions, his power to pardon and his attacks on football players kneeling in protest during the national anthem.


TRUMP: We have a great country. You should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played. I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that's what they're protesting, people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that. And I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated, friends of theirs or people that they know about, and I'm going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee, finds that they're unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out.


[11:45:35] BOLDUAN: Joining me now, CNN's Dana Bash, CNN's Chris Cillizza, and CNN political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill.

Marc, on just where the president left off, he wants professional football players he's been attacking and saying some should be thrown out of the country to now suggest who he should pardon. What do you make of this?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Some solid logic there. Even if we were to ignore the fact that Muhammad Ali doesn't need a pardon, he was castigated for protesting, for resisting, for using his athletic position to resist law-practicing custom. It is ironic he wants to pardon Muhammad Ali, however erroneous the logic is, at the same time he wants to beat up on football players for doing the same thing. I don't understand why he would want to do that.

But the other thing here is he's mischaracterizing the NFL players' point. Their point isn't that some people are being unfairly treated by the system. It is not about individual acts of mistreatment. It is about structural inequality. It's also about state violence, people being killed by law enforcement. So you can't pardon someone who is dead. You can't break out the Ouija board and fix it. You need structural readjustment and have a change of laws. And that can't happen by fiat.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think that's -- first of all, the contradiction there is something that didn't occur to me until you said that, that's kind of genius, that it really is ironic.

But I think that there might be something to what the president has offered. Because what he's trying to say is, you're protesting with your actions, your celebrity, let's use it for good, from his perspective, like Kim Kardashian did. But maybe if the NFL players take that as an opening to, you know, kind of give him some names, but then ask for a meeting, a la Kim Kardashian, and talk to him about some of those structural issues that Lamont was just talking about, maybe this is an opening. I want to be an optimist here. This is clearly an area where the president understands he got good press, and should have, because he did something good that universally was considered so. And that maybe this is an avenue that he can continue down and make it into a broader policy change.

BOLDUAN: And, Chris, I just can't get off this point of the president and Muhammad Ali. So he was misinformed about what the state of play was with regard to Muhammad Ali? How could this happen?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Short answer, I don't know. Longer answer, he did mention he's looking at thousands, he said 3,000 potential pardons. Possible he confused some details there. Possible he got bad legal advice. Yes. All of the above.

I do think one thing that we know about Trump, he said I love the presidential pardon, it is a wonderful --


BOLDUAN: The power to pardon is a beautiful thing.

CILLIZZA: Right. So we know that he likes that for at least a couple of reasons. One, he can just do it. There's no Congress to get involved, no Democrats, no Republicans, just him. And second, because I think it does appeal to his desire to be that guy on the -- in the "Apprentice" board room where you think he's going to fire someone and he saves them. You know what I mean? He is the one person who did this when Obama couldn't do it. He mentioned that with the Jack Johnson pardon. I think it appeals to a number of sort of things we already know he likes. So my guess is, take him at his word, you'll see more pardons and more pardons of famous people, but not Muhammad Ali because he doesn't need one.

BOLDUAN: To count that one in the victory -- check that one off, I guess.

Marc, what do you think about what Dana said, though? Could you see this as a real opportunity? If this is something that he likes, regardless of the motivation, he likes the power to pardon, folks who care so much about criminal justice reform could get something?

LAMONT HILL: Yes. I mean, I just don't want to confuse with pardoning individual people with justice reform.

BOLDUAN: I agree. I agree. I totally agree.

LAMONT HILL: There are 2.3 million people in prison right now. I would love to see even one of them come home. We saw that last week. Sure, it's a step forward. But I don't want to confuse those two things. I think it's important for us to have a deeper conversation about law, about structure. But, yes, if we can get a few people home from meeting with President Trump, I think that's our duty.

[11:49:58] BOLDUAN: Yes. Michael Jacobs was not protesting as someone in jail necessarily. He's been protesting police retaliation and injustice, which is not something you can't fix that with a pardon.

LAMONT HILL: Exactly. No, you can't fix that with a pardon. You need structural things, so.

What I would prefer to see is him say, let's end privatization of prisons, let's continue to get rid of pretrial bail. And 80 percent of people in American jails are there because they don't have the money to be at home.


LAMONT HILL: These are things we can structurally fix.

BASH: No question. But if some of these players get an audience with him, they can impress that upon him.

LAMONT HILL: Absolutely.

BASH: That does tend to have, in one-on-one or in-person sessions, it does tend to have an impression.

I just have to say it's been a long week, I called you Lamont, Marc. I'm sorry.

LAMONT HILL: It's all good.


BOLDUAN: At least we're talking to each other. That seems --


Great to see you, Dana Bash.

Great to see you, guys. Really appreciate it.

LAMONT HILL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Breaking news for us. President Trump -- if you need any more news this week, President Trump's scheduled meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron we've just learned has now been postponed. This was one of the two bilateral meetings the president was going to have at the G-7. It's now been postponed amid the tensions over trade. Now what? Details ahead.


BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news. Right now, President Trump's scheduled meeting, sit-down with French President Emmanuel Macron, has been postponed amid tensions over trade.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is traveling with the president, traveling, following the president. He's joining me now from Quebec City.

Boris, what is going on?

[11:54:59] SANCHEZ: Hey, there, Kate. Yes, we just got notice from the White House that the president would not be attending the scheduled bilateral meeting with the French president. We're told that White House officials are working to try to reschedule it. The president is some 40 minutes late for this meeting. He's, overall, an hour late for his arrival here in Quebec.

This is notable, of course, because the president has had this public spat with the French president in the last 24 hours or so after Macron tweeted, and I'm paraphrasing, that if President Trump wants to isolate himself, that the G-6, not including the United States, would move forward on their own. President Trump taking to twitter to call out Macron by name, calling out unfair trade practices that he perceives from not only France but Canada and other G-7 members.

Also, this is notable because Macron appears to be the president's closest ally among the G-7 leaders. We know about their extended handshake. The president grooming Macron at one point. They seemed to have this sort of bromance. So for the president to not make it to this meeting is certainly unexpected.

We should also point that just last night, the White House announced that the president was cutting his trip short on the departure and saying he would be leaving several hours early. So what we're hearing from sources seems to be ringing true, that the president was asking why he would attend these meetings. He seems to be very focused on his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. He's going to head straight for Singapore from here in Quebec tomorrow morning -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Real quick, do we know what this means for his bilat with the prime minister of Canada?

SANCHEZ: We don't just yet. The way the schedule broke down, he was going to have with one-on-one with Macron before lunch. It was going to be a working lunch. Then a group session. Then towards later afternoon, he was going to meet with Macron at approximately 4:00 p.m. We don't know if that is still the schedule or if things will change again -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Stand by. We're looking at Marine One. Some live pictures of Marine One right now traveling in Quebec for the G-7 summit. What's going to happen? Literally no one knows. We'll find out together.

Any moment, the official welcome to the G-7 summit. How will President Trump be received? What's he going to do? That's next.