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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Trump Tweet Storm; Trump Arrives in Europe for Meeting With NATO; Thailand Rescue. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Coming up, western allies shutter, yet another summit, yet another Trump tweet storm of criticism as he flies out

to meet NATO partners.

From Brussels, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, tells me it is just a Trump strategy to strengthen NATO. Do the allies see it that

way? Also from Brussels, we'll ask the German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.

Welcome to the program everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Donald Trump arrives in Europe today for what could be a tense meeting with

NATO. As a parting shot, he fired off this tweet about the NATO allies' military spending, quote, "NATO countries must pay more, the United States

must pay less. Very unfair."

Now this purely transactional approach to the 70 year old defense alliance is nothing new for President Trump, but here are some facts. Last year NATO

allies boosted their defense budget by a combined 5.2 percent. The combined defense budget of NATO nations has grown by $14.4 billion since he

took office.

Sixteen nations are on track to spend the targeted two percent of their gross domestic product by the agreed 2024. So, why is President Trump

still complaining so often and so loudly? Here to discuss is Kay Bailey Hutchison, America's Ambassador to NATO and a former U.S. Senator from

Texas.

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, thank you so much for joining us.

KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, AMERICA AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Thank you much Christiane, it's great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Well, you have seen a lot of U.S. politics, U.S. diplomacy. You've spent your whole life in this role really, what do you make of

President Trump? Is he coming again with fisty(ph) cuffs(ph) to aim at his allies?

HUTCHISON: I think he's coming to be plain spoken, as he always has been, but I think now that the alliance is understanding better what he's trying

to do, which is strengthen the alliance by assuring that everyone is contributing and burden sharing, but also strengthening our new NATO

command structure.

Making sure that we are doing counter-terrorism, which is something that most of our countries have experienced, unfortunately, and he wanted to be

a priority. So, I think we are strengthening the alliance and I think that is the message that he will bring.

AMANPOUR: So, I wonder then how you respond to the European Commission President, this Donald Tusk's message to President Trump today. First of

all, "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that that many." And, "Dear Europe, spend more on your defense, because

everyone respects an ally that's well prepared and equipped."

Obviously, the second part you're going to like and the President is going to like, but he's pretty much punching back because President Trump has

treated these allies as mere transactional cogs in a wheel.

HUTCHISON: Well, I think that President Trump actually has very great respect for our allies. He does think that there should be more because it

is a European alliance along with North America.

I think he's been plain about that, but Christiane, I think that his goal is to make sure that NATO is the strongest umbrella for security for all of

us and I think that our allies realize that and I know that the way he says things sometimes put people off, but he's just trying to make the point and

make sure that they actually do it.

Now Christiane, you know I served with other presidents and they all said the same thing. I think President Trump is saying it in a way that they

are now remembering and really turning on the dime and doing better.

AMANPOUR: I -- look, I understand, as many U.S. presidents and leaders have complained and they want that two percent. Obviously the Europeans do

things that compliment U.S. participation in the U.S. contribution, but here's the thing, the tone is what is creating existential angst amongst

your NATO allies.

Donald Tusk, again, basically has said that the tone of President Trump, his language meant that allies could no longer assume that NATO would

endure. Now, that might sound alarming, but I'm going to play you, again, a much hackneyed sound byte. President Trump's initial, first ever,

comments in public on NATO were not heartening to those who believe in the alliance. Listen to this for a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NATO is obsolete. It was 67 years or it's over 60 years old. It is many countries, doesn't cover

terrorism, okay. It covers the Soviet Union, which is no longer in existence and NATO has to either be rejiggered, rechanged -- or changed for

the better. I'm not saying -- the other thing that's bad about NATO. We're paying too much. We're spending a tremendous - billions and billions of

dollars on NATO.

[14:05:00]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So, there are a lot of thoughts in that statement, but you can see that - that those initial comments are still the comments of the

President and it does destabilize the allies. They're kind of concerned about it because, you know, you talk about the Wales summit and, indeed, in

2014, there was a pledge to up the payment, every single one except a coupe have upped their payments to nearly 2 percent.

HUTCHISON: Actually every ally is going in the right direction. One hundred percent are spending more and I think President Trump emphasizing

it in the way that he has is making the allies realize that they, really, must do more for the strength of the alliance as a whole.

And I thought Chancellor Merkel said it very well to her Bundestag that they do need to spend more. They need to step up. And I think she is

leading the way toward doing that. And I think much of that is because President Trump has just said, finally, that Germany has the capability,

they're the strongest economy in the E.U. And they can do more. And I think she has accepted that and I think are now going in the right

direction and I think it is for the strength of the alliance as a whole.

AMANPOUR: And again, I'm not to keep putting you on the - on the - on the back foot, but they have been doing that since 2014. And you - you, sort

of, portray it as the allies will realize that they need to do more, but will President Trump realize that the allies are doing a lot?

HUTCHINSON: We are a deterrence alliance and being strong is our best deterrence. That's why I think it's so important that we show that

strength, we show that unity so that maybe Russia will not consider doing anymore probing to look for weak spots in NATO. Russia is now looking for

the weak spots that would divide this alliance. He wants to break it down. That's why we have to stand strong as a major deterrent.

AMANPOUR: You know, Senator, Ambassador, I don't think a single NATO ally would disagree with what you just said which is why they're concerned

because they know that Vladimir Putin is looking for any chink the western alliance and any chink in your armor.

And they see President Trump driving those chinks between the United States and the rest of the western alliance. I mean, he comes fresh off doing

that at the G.7. summit in Canada. And they're concerned that he is, next, going to see President Putin right after the NATO alliance. And this - all

this discord is music to President Putin's ears.

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think the discord is music to Putin's ears, but I do think that coming from this summit, which is allied, is strong and is going

to increase our deterrent capabilities. That is going to put President Trump in a very strong position with President Putin. And I think he will

be tough with President Putin.

You know, Russia is violating the INF treaty that is - that's ballistic missiles that could reach anywhere in Europe. That is very troubling. And

I think President Trump will bring that up. He - Putin has got to change his behavior and I think President Trump is ready to tell him that we must

see a different Russia if we are going to add any kind of relationship that will work.

And everyone, including NATO, talks to Russia. We have the Russian Ambassador here that we have meetings with periodically to say, you've got

to straighten out. Hopefully President Trump can give that message, very strongly, to President Putin. And I think he is one of the people who has

the capability to do that.

AMANPOUR: And you're absolutely right. He does, he can, he's the President of the United States and you just said, hopefully. The reason we

ask these questions is because we're kind of confused. I mean, he made a tweet again today, or actually he spoke, saying that I'm going to NATO, I'm

going to the U.K. There's turmoil there. Frankly, I think my meetings with Putin will be easiest.

And people are wondering how to parse that statement. And then, when he says, you know, that he doesn't - he kind of believes Putin when he says

that he didn't interfere in the U.S. election and other elections around Europe. You know, people are concerned and worried about why it is he

hasn't been given those stiff demarches to the Russians - to President Putin, you know, whenever he could.

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think that has a strategy, it's Kim Jong-un, it is trying to deal with Iran from a position of strength and I think he is

going to be able to do that with Putin as well because I think Putin respects President Trump as a tough opponent.

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I think President Trump said today, he is a competitor. Putin is a competitor, well that's for sure. I mean, look at the things that he is

doing that are destabilizing many of the countries in our alliance with hybrid warfare, with cyber attacks.

It's something that we have to approach from strength. And I think that's what President Trump is trying to do.

AMANPOUR: But on a personal note then, Angela Merkel is generally viewed around Europe, around the (inaudible) alliance as a strong, dependable

leader. For whatever reason, President Trump has decided that he can tweet freely against her. He can say things against her.

And again, people take it as beating up on Angela Merkel. And he says that he - he claims he said to her I don't know how much protection we get by

protecting you.

Do you think the American investment ambassador, in defending Europe and underpinning the NATO alliance is worth the expense?

HUTCHISON: Absolutely. We are so much stronger because we are together. And I think if Germany steps up to the plate, which I believe they are in

the process of doing.

I would say that it's under chancellor Merkel's leadership. She's been encouraging her own (inaudible) to step up more. And she has a - a

wonderful Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen.

And Ursula von der Leyen is a strong Minister of Defence. And she really is pushing Germany to make the investments that will make it more capable

in equipment and training and being even a stronger ally.

AMANPOUR: So I'm actually going to be interviewing the Defence Minister right after your interview. So I might ask you then because she's

obviously a very close ally of Angela Merkel who's been going through her own political challenges recently with her coalition trying to backstab

her.

What do you make of your own U.S. ambassador to Germany publically stating that his mission is to support opponent of Angela Merkel, and other such

people around Europe?

HUTCHISON: Christiane, I'm not going to look behind what another ambassador has said. I'm at NATO; I am working for the strength of our

alliance. Germany is a major part of that. Ursula von der Leyen, who you are going to be talking to, is very much a leader in that respect.

I think that she along with the leadership of chancellor Merkel have gone directly to their (inaudible) and said we have to do more.

And I think the - the fact that we have so many troops in Germany and that is also in our interest as well as Germany, and NATO's interest. All of

that together is part of this very strong alliance and commitment.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, thank you so much for joining us from NATO headquarters.

HUTCHISON: OK, thank you, it's great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: So, we are turning now to the German perspective. And as we've been discussing, for some reason the president singles out that country and

(inaudible) the particular storm, whether it's about trade tariffs or meeting NATO's defense spending requirements. Listen to this.

TRUMP: We have some that don't. And well, they'll be dealt with. In particular, Germany must demonstrate leadership in the alliance by

addressing its long standing short tall in defense contributions.

Germany has not contributed what it should be contributing, and it's a very big beneficiary, far bigger than the United States frankly.

AMANPOUR: So, as I mentioned to the Ambassador Hutchison, Ursula von der Leyen, the German Defence Minister is my next guest. She also is the

deputy leader of Merkel's ruling party.

And she is the chancellor's close ally. Indeed, she's the only minister to have served in her cabinet since she came to par back in 2005. And Ursula

von der Leyen joins be now from Brussels. Minister, welcome to the program.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, FEDERAL MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Thank you so much Christiane, and good evening.

AMANPOUR: Well, there is so much to answer there. But I do first want to ask you the - the elephant in the room question. Why, as the strongest

economy in Europe do you not spend your two percent of GDP on your military in Germany? Why not?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, you have to look at where we came from. We had a long period since reunification of cutting budget.

25 long years the budget of defense was lowered, because Germany as many other European countries thought that around us, peace is growing,

democracies are growing around us.

And then came the 2014 when Russia, an act of the (inaudible) and started the hybrid war in the Ukraine. And three months later, we had (inaudible),

Iraq and Syria that was the turning point when the alliance decided with President Obama that we should aim to spend two percent of the GDP on

defense.

At that time, Germany was down to 1.1 percent. This was painful. We made a turn around since than, if I look at the budget for the next year, we

just have through the cabinet, we have raised the defense in real terms by 30 percent.

And the figures now we are projecting for 2024, a decade after (inaudible) will be in real terms a - an increase of 80 percent. I think we are on the

right way.

AMANPOUR: OK, 30 percent, 80 percent still doesn't amount to the two percent of GDP on your military spending. So the president will continue

to criticize you for that.

I guess my question is, what do you make of Senator Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison's description of President Trump's loud complaint as a strategy

to get you all together and to make NATO stronger by having it's militaries stronger?

[14:15:00] VON DER LEYEN: You know, we know as an alliance that we have to modernize. This was clearly a 2014, because the security environment

totally changed.

And we are committed to the two percent goal, but it's not only about two percent of the GDP spending for defense. Because this number doesn't say

anything about who is country build what to the alliance.

Doesn't say anything about capabilities because you can spend two percent of your defense budget on your defense budget nationally without

contributing anything to NATO for example.

Therefore I think, and we agreed on that in the alliance. It's worse to look at two other metrics, but our capabilities given to NATO and

contributions to NATO missions. And I think (inaudible) is that Germany is the second largest troop contributor to NATO mission overall.

We're just - we're just talking about the NATO command structure. Germany is leading the joined support in enabling command the new (inaudible). In

order, we are the second largest net payer to NATO.

So these are numbers that show that NATO is benefiting from the German contribution, as we all try to contribute as good as possible to NATO.

AMANPOUR: OK, so let me ask you this question, I also put it to Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison. This is a sound bite from President Trump just this

past two days in a rally in Montana, he specifically again talks about your chancellor Angela Merkel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I said you know Angela, I can't guarantee it, but we're protecting you. And it means a lot more to

you than protecting us because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you.

And then they go out and they make a gas deal. Oil and gas from Russia, where they paid billion and billions of dollars to Russia, OK? So, they

want to protect against Russia, yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia, and we're the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: OK, so let me take the first bit first. President Trump saying I don't know what we the United States get out of essentially protecting

you Germany, you Europe. Could you answer that first, what's in it for the U.S.?

VON DER LEYEN: Of course, yes, there are two points. The first one, once in our common history of NATO having almost 70 years of NATO now, our

people (inaudible) collective defense has been triggered. And that was with this horrible terrorist attack at 9/11.

We all stood side by side with our American friends in Afghanistan fighting the terrorists and we're still there. So this example shows that this

wonderful promise within the alliance when one of us is being attacked, we'll all stand together and defend them.

It's worse in - in existing Afghanistan. And the second point is, and this is more important to me, we're not only a military alliance, we are an

alliance that is defending common values.

If you look at the United States, Canada, Europe, our British friends, all the members of the alliance, we're standing for the rule of law for

Democracy, for human rights and this is what unifies us.

[14:20:00]

This is the important value to defend, and therefore NATO is way more than just 2 percent in defense budget.

AMANPOUR: And on the other aspect where the President talks about the billions of dollars that are being spent on this pipeline from Russia --

and basically saying, you know, you paid billions of dollars to Russia and will you be able to then stand up to Russia, for instance, if you're

dependent on Russian energy? And aren't you having your cake and eating it too, if you can afford those billions for that pipeline, and not putting it

in to NATO?

VON DER LEYEN: No, no first of all this is a pipeline -- this economic project started, I think back in 2002 or '03? So way before Russia changed

it's behavior in 2014. So it is a business project that has been started, and it's hard to stop such a business project if it complies and sticks to

all the requirements that it has to fulfill. For example, in environmental issues just to name some -- so it is not easy to stop that.

But on the other hand, we have a very diverse mix of energy supplies. So the President hasn't to be worried that there's any kind of dependency. On

the contrary, if there's one person who has been dealing all the time with President Putin, very hard on the issues of the Ukraine and the hybrid war

in the Ukraine, it was Chancellor Merkel.

She was the one together with the French President who brought the Ukraine President, and President Putin to agree to the minced (ph) agreement, which

is a crucial one to keep the situation in the Ukraine under control.

So we've I think shown that this balance of showing strength on one hand, on one side to Russia -- and on the other hand, always reminding Russia

that we have to solve our problems at the negotiation table -- that this is better. We've proven that we're able to do that in the right balance (ph),

I think this is something worse (ph) to look at.

AMANPOUR: Do you -- what do you hope President Trump says to President Putin then, when he meets him a day or two after the NATO Summit?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, I hope he'll come from the NATO Summit, where we have sent a clear message of unity and resolve (ph) and that he will make clear

that we'll never except the inexaction (ph) of Kramir (ph) -- this is a violation of international law. And that we see what is going on in the

Ukraine for example.

And that there is a possibility to sit down and solve (ph) these problems if there is the willingness on the other side really to work for peace. So

there are many topics to debate, but the most important one is to come from this Summit with the strong message of resolve and unity.

AMANPOUR: And finally, you are a close ally of the Chancellor, you're Deputy Leader of her party -- how is she taking this constant being a

target of the rough, the anger, the Tweets of the President of the United States?

VON DER LEYEN: She's taken it as you know her, very calm -- because she's aware as all of us there are enormously serious issues around us. This

world, is in a difficult stage and there are huge topics we have to deal with. I was talking about Russia, but just think about (inaudible) and

terror -- think about migration movements in Africa.

Fragile countries, governments in Africa. Just to name some -- climate change, poverty, inequality -- so many, many topics we have to deal with as

Democracies and therefore if you just think about these topics, well you'll have the ability to be calm when you listen to the Tweets.

AMANPOUR: All right, German Defense Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen, thank you very much for joining us from Brussels tonight.

VON DER LEYEN: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And we end our program in a truly wonderful way, because we're celebrating good news along with of course the rest of the watching world.

In Tailand all 12 boys belonging to the Wild Bohr football team and their coach have been pulled from caves as far as two miles deep inside the

mountain.

[14:25:00]

They've been stranded there for more than two weeks by monsoons, and as they ran low on oxygen and food, fears brewed that they may not make it out

alive as forecast called for even more heavy rains.

And one Thai Navy Seal died trying to get oxygen to the boys. Volunteer cave divers from all over the world came to help the Thai experts, many of

their bosses back home gave all these volunteers the time off for the daring rescue attempt. Many of the boys didn't even know how to swim.

But the teams took a nine hour round trip to escort the boys to the mouth of the cave. The rescuers tethered them to themselves -- they swam through

swift currents, through muddy water and very, very tight turns. By some miracle today, all as I said 12 boys and their coach and the rescuers were

finally out. A stunning, nail biting triumph of super human ingenuity, tenacity and faith against all odds.

That is it for our program, remember you can always listen to our Podcast and see us online at amanpour.com, and you can follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.

END