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Trump Arrives in U.K. After Tense NATO Summit; Protest Expected to Greet President Trump in London; NATO Chief Reflects on Tense Summit, Trump's Comments. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York and it is a busy morning. President Trump has just landed, Air Force One there on the tarmac, in London, fresh off a NATO summit that he now considers, quote, "fantastic" and others, well, don't.

In an unscheduled news conference after an unscheduled meeting of two days of public pressure and scolding, the president announced that everyone at NATO agreed to, quote, "substantially up" their military spending, though it is far from clear that anyone agreed to spend more than they already had planned to or even to spend it any sooner.

As for a summit that one European diplomat described as beyond belief and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called very intense, the president again sees things differently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can ask anybody at that meeting. They're really liking what happened over the last two days. There's a great, great spirit leaving that room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: In the U.K., the president says, "They like me," though that claim, too, will very soon be tested and John Berman is there in London waiting.

John, you know, let's start with NATO and let's start with what happened then we'll get into what is ahead for him in the United Kingdom. You put it this way this morning, that the president is declaring victory over our allies. Now he's landed to meet with our closest ally.

What's your read on what played out this morning?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's really interesting. The president claimed during this news conference that he received new commitments for new spending. Each NATO country committing more to their own defense and thereby the overall NATO spending.

It isn't clear whether that is true. French President Emmanuel Macron basically said we've agreed to nothing more than what we already agreed to which was by 2024 each NATO country would spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense.

Now the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had a slightly sunnier view of what happened. He said on defense spending, "We had a very frank and open discussion that has created a new sense of urgency." He said that the president's clear message is having an impact and he also said that NATO is more united than before in the summit. So a new sense of urgency is one thing, actual firm commitments to spending is another. The details we have not seen.

And I will also say, despite what Jan Stoltenberg said, more united than ever, we have heard from people who are inside that meeting that it was tough. Very, very contentious so we'll be interested to see as we hear from more NATO leaders -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Right. And he didn't answer that reporter's question when they asked, well, what if they don't meet this increase in military spending. What will you do? He sort of danced around that one.

Let's get to what is happening right now as we wait for the president to get off of Air Force One there in London. He said they like me in the U.K., especially on immigration. No one has any illusion that this relationship between President Trump and Theresa May is anything like, say, FDR and Churchill, but when asked by reporters in Washington if she should be replaced he didn't give her a ringing endorsement this week, right? He said it's up to the people.

BERMAN: Yes.

HARLOW: That said these are leaders that --

BERMAN: He distinctly -- yes.

HARLOW: That have common goals, right?

BERMAN: Yes. He distinctly did not endorse British Prime Minister Theresa May and say hey, I think she should continue on. He did say it is up to the people.

You're watching him, by the way, at Stansted Airfield. That's about 35, 40 miles northeast of London. He's not going to be in London very much at all and not on the streets at all. He's choppering in here which I think gives you a sense of his relative level of popularity which is to say not much.

I was speaking to Alastair Campbell before who was the former director of communications for Tony Blair, no Trump fan, mind you, but he said it's impossible to overestimate how despised President Trump here is. That might be an extreme view. But he's not beloved, I think it is safe to say, and we are expecting protest tomorrow, maybe 50,000 people. And right behind me, you can see parliament right behind me, back there, above Parliament Square they're going to be flying that blimp or balloon of the mini Donald Trump that has a cell phone in his hand.

HARLOW: Right. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, signed off on. When it comes to the real issue here of what the U.K. is facing, right, and Brexit and what the reality is ahead for the people of the United Kingdom given that new reality, he questioned this morning Theresa May's handling of it. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that's what they'll do. But maybe they'll take it a little bit of a different route so I don't know if that's what they voted for. I just want the people to be happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: You know, Boris Johnson had a very different view on how Brexit should be handled.

BERMAN: Right.

HARLOW: He resigned this week. He wants Theresa May's job. This is awkward for her ahead of this meeting.

BERMAN: This will be a very awkward two days period for British Prime Minister Theresa May. She has her own problems here independent of President Trump coming. As you said, it was very unusual for President Trump to say how much he liked Boris Johnson, suggesting he might even meet with Boris Johnson when he's here in the United Kingdom. Boris Johnson just quitting that Cabinet.

There's President Trump and Melania Trump now walking off the plane there, again some 35 miles away from here.

[09:05:08] I will say, it was interesting on Brexit you asked, Poppy. The president did say it wasn't for him to say. I thought that was interesting particularly because as you well know he's been supportive of Brexit over the last several years.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: Even claiming to a certain extent credit for it. He demurred in a very un-president Trumpian kind of way. Not for me to say on Brexit. So to me that read that actually he was trying to give Theresa May a little space. And I also wonder about that news conference this morning in Brussels. Did he hold that sort of long rambling news conference there so that he doesn't have to do something like that here? Might we hear from him less here while he's in the United Kingdom which might be a favor in a way to Theresa May?

HARLOW: Yes. Interesting, right? And ahead of his big meeting on Monday with President Vladimir Putin.

John Berman, thank you very much for us, in London. And we'll keep watching these live pictures.

Again, John, said this is in Stansted, England, about 35, 40 miles from Central London. He's going to have meeting with the Queen, meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May, and he's not going to spend a lot of time in London. Maybe because he is expected to face some pretty big protests there despite him saying this morning that people in the U.K. like him a lot.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is with me on this protest. And Nick, Berman brought up this blimp of the president that is expected to fly above parliament, signed off on by, you know, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, of London who has -- there is no love lost between those two, that's for sure. But what are we expecting on the streets of London?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here where I'm standing about three hours from now we are expecting some kind of protest. This is the U.S. ambassador's residence into which Donald Trump is expected to fly in the next 20, 30 minutes or so. He'll spend a few hours here possibly resting. There does sound to be a bit of a party on the grounds going on. People turning up for that. Before moving on to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, where he'll meet Theresa May.

She interestingly put out a statement last night which did not mention Donald Trump by name. Just extolled the virtues of the U.S.-U.K. relationship and frankly it could be a frosty visit given exactly what he said about potentially meeting her main political nemesis, particularly during this fight over whether and how the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, known as Brexit.

Boris Johnson, Donald Trump said he might in fact meet with him. And in fact the ambassador here, the U.S. ambassador says he'll make that happen if it's something that they want to occur but still those comments from NATO will haunt him here as well as the general sense, I think, of exactly what the U.S.'s new place in the world will be, particularly given how badly the U.K. needs that sort of sense of global alliance as it moves out from the E.U.

Protest wise, tomorrow is supposed to be the larger day, Central London potentially gridlocked by 50,000 individuals. You do have to remember here, Poppy, this is quite extraordinary, that a U.S. president is coming to London and evading the center of the capital, evading parliament. Places frankly which you would normally expect him to get a guided gilded tour around. He'll be dropping in here for a matter of hours. This is Regents Park, an area about a seventh of which has been taken over by even more maximum security, the bill for which some say could run to about $15 million or so.

So a capital, frankly, where local politicians and national politicians seem to think it's a pretty easy goal to deride the president as he comes in here. And I think a sense really that he's spending as little time as possible in contact with the British population to some degree before heading late Friday up to Scotland where he'll go for the weekend -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Very notable indeed. Nick, thank you for being there for the reporting. Of course you'll be with us tomorrow when we are expecting to see some pretty big protest.

President Trump this morning saying that he himself has gotten NATO to up their spending commitments on defense. French President Emmanuel Macron, despite their warm and chummy bilat the two apparently had yesterday, is questioning publicly that claim this morning. Nic Robertson joins me from Brussels. And, Nic, seeing the warmth

between the two yesterday on camera does not mean that Emmanuel Macron will not call out the president when he disagrees, and that's what he did this morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And that's exactly what he did this morning. Macron has said, look, this idea of raising the contribution to defense spending from two percent as the current agreement to 4 percent, which is what President Trump suggested yesterday. He said he doesn't see the need for that. He said we analyze the need to increase defense spending on the security threat and he said frankly I don't see the security threat has gone up that far as well.

President Trump -- you know, said that he should take credit for the fact that over the past year since he last visited NATO headquarters the leaders who he said he don't know very well in that time have increased their defense spending amongst the NATO allies by $33 billion. This is how he phrased what he wants and now expects and believes he's got agreement from, from those NATO allies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The people have stepped up today like they've never stepped up before and remember the word $33 billion more they're paying.

[09:10:03] What they're doing is spending at a much faster clip. They're going up to the two percent level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And what we heard from Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary- general, who was asked precisely have NATO allies essentially agreed to any increase in speed? Have they agreed to any increase in level of, you know, raising that two percent above two percent, maybe four percent. Stoltenberg said, look, NATO allies agree that we need to speed up. They agree that we need to increase the money we're spending. But he did not say and he referenced everyone to the agreement that was put out yesterday. That is the old agreement that NATO has which is the 2 percent of GDP to be met by 2024.

So we do not have backing from President Macron, Angela Merkel or the U.N. secretary-general indicating that backing up what President Trump has said. Indeed we've heard as well what President Trump defending himself when he was asked about his very open, very loud criticism of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and their energy supplies from Russia. This is how he defended the statements that have sp outraged and surprised some of his allies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think it's been a very effective way of negotiating but I'm not negotiating, I just want fairness for the United States. We're paying for far too much of NATO. NATO is very important but NATO is helping Europe more than it's helping us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: So the concern here is that while President Trump tries to get his points across, he divides NATO and that's a very negative message. The leaders here think to send to Russia to President Putin who likes nothing better than to see disarray here in Brussels, whether it's at the E.U. or NATO -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Exactly, ahead of this key sit-down with him. Nic stay with us.

Let me also bring in Errol Louis, our CNN political commentator, and Bianna Golodryga, also a CNN contributor.

Nice to have you both here. A lot of news this morning. Let me just play for you what one of the things that struck me that the president said this morning on the sit-down Monday that he's having, Bianna, with Vladimir Putin. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Just a loose meeting. It's not going to big schedule. I don't think it should take a very long period of time and we'll see where it leads, but it could lead to productive -- something very productive and maybe it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The time, Bianna, that he did not rule out stopping military exercises in the Baltics, obviously a clear show of force to Russia and Vladimir Putin. All of that combined and the fact that he did say he will ask Putin about election meddling. What was your read on the president's stance towards Russia this morning.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let's start with the question as to why they have to have a private meeting to begin with, especially if it's going to be so loose. If it's so loose, why not have other people from your staff and your team there with you. Having said that, what stood out to me as well was when he was asked about Crimea and whether he would raise Russia's annexation of Crimea, a typical U.S. stance would be that sanctions remain in place as long as Russia is in Crimea.

HARLOW: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Instead he says we don't know. We'll see what happens.

HARLOW: He blamed Obama. He said --

(CROSSTALK)

GOLODRYGA: He blamed Obama. It wouldn't have happened under my watch but now they've built this lavish bridge that they've been building for years. They built the bridge after the annexation and it was built by one of Vladimir Putin's best friends, so using that as a justification didn't make much sense at all. HARLOW: We have to go to a break, Errol, I'll be with you after it

because our Christiane Amanpour is going to speak one-on-one with Jens Stoltenberg, of course secretary-general of NATO. You'll see that right here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. And now to a very important interview. Our chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour is with me.

And, Christiane, you are about to speak with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO. I can't think of someone more important to hear from this morning. So, take it away.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Poppy, you're absolutely right. He is the man of the moment given all the controversy and somewhat conflicting reporting that is coming out of the back rooms at the NATO summit.

So, let me just turn now to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Thank you so much for joining me from brussels. Welcome to the program.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you so much by having me.

AMANPOUR: So, can I just first start by asking you, all the allies were really concerned and nervous, hoping that this summit was not going to devolve into a debacle like the G7 summit did with disunity and pulling out of communiques.

How would you say you assess the unity and the success of this summit?

STOLTENBERG: This has been a very good summit because, actually, we had very open and frank discussions. There's no problem to have different views and open discussions as long as we're able to conclude and deliver decisions.

And that's exactly what we have done. Yes, there have been different views. We are 29 allies discussing different issues, but we have also agreed on how to strengthen NATO with the higher readiness forces, stepping up to fight against terrorism, reforming our command structure and at least we have agreed that we need to spend more.

There's a new sense of urgency on the importance of investing in our defense.

AMANPOUR: So, let's take that issue, the new sense of urgency. President Trump, as we know and we saw it publicly throughout the summit, keeps demanding this 2 percent. In fact, he even demanded more, up to 4 percent.

He not only did that. He demanded more to happen almost immediately rather than by 2024 as you NATO allies have agreed.

So, first and foremost, has President Trump secured a pledge from NATO allies, as he said today, to immediately start spending more, up to 4 percent, putting down a huge marker. He himself said $33 million more. Have the allies agreed specifically to figures demanded by the president today?

STOLTENBERG: The allies have heard his message loud and clear and his strong message on defense spending is having a real impact. Just since last time President Trump was here in Brussels at a NATO meetings last May, European allies and Canada have added $41 billion extra for defense funding. So, we have turned a corner. Before the trend was down, now the trend is really going up.

And all allies agree that we have to make good on the commitments we have made. We need to increase defense spending substantially, but also all allies agree that we need to stand united in NATO.

So, for me, this is a good summit because we all expressed our support to NATO, also the president, but also we all expressed our support to investing more in defense.

AMANPOUR: So, let me be specific again? I want a clear answer from you please. President Macron denies that the allies agreed to up their spending beyond the 2 percent? Can you confirm to us what are the facts? We need to know the facts.

STOLTENBERG: The fact is that we have a clear commitment to increase defense spending. And we all agreed we have to deliver on that. There's a renewed or new sense of urgency on the importance of delivering that.

But perhaps even more important is that we have actually started to invest more, more than 40 billion just since last year.

[09:20:00] And it is my task to make sure that we deliver, that we have a substantial increase in defense spending in the years ahead and I will work together with all allies, but also, of course, work closely with President Trump. And his leadership, his strong message is having a clear impact. Allies are increasing defense spending.

AMANPOUR: Which is what you said before. In fact, 100 percent of allies are increasing spending. You've said that it's up to about 5.2 percent collectively.

My question to you is, are you being told now that you need to raise individual spending by 4 percent or more than 2 percent?

STOLTENBERG: We have agreed that we need to make good on the pledges we have made. The problem has been that before that - we have seen promises being made, but not always being followed up.

Now, we have to make sure that we follow-up, that we implement, that we deliver. And I'm an optimist partly because we have seen already that allies have started to increase.

Last year was the biggest increase in a generation in defense spending across Europe and Canada, but also because I witnessed the discussion we had both yesterday and today at the NATO summit and allies understand that we really need to step up and redouble our efforts.

So, I see both the decisions we have made, but also the common understanding we have about the importance of delivering.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to take it from what you say that you are committed to 2 percent and nothing further at this time. Am I correct?

STOLTENBERG: So, we have a commitment to spend 2 percent. The important thing now is that we need to invest more, we need to get more money. And the good thing is that since - very much because of the very clear message from President Trump on this meeting, I think that allies understand that there is a need to do that.

There's a sense of urgency when it comes to delivering on that commitment.

AMANPOUR: So, can I ask you whether it is correct that President Trump said that he would make a decision, he would go it alone if he didn't get the commitments that he was demanding?

Any kind of implication that the United States would pull back in any way whatsoever?

STOLTENBERG: Well, as the president said himself, he didn't say that. He actually said that he is very committed to NATO. And I think the fact that we have made many important decisions on increased readiness, stepping up the fight against terrorism, a new command structure, combined with more defense spending makes NATO stronger.

And we are more united because we had open and frank discussions. I think that actually helps us to really create a real unity in the alliance.

AMANPOUR: So, can I just play a little back and forth that you and President Trump had during your morning meeting? And, of course, it's all about what President Trump accused Germany of. He said, as you remember because you were sitting opposite him, that Germany was captive, totally controlled by Russia because of a commercial natural gas pipeline that's being built and that was started, as you know, 15 years ago.

This is the back-and-forth. And then, I would like to get you to talk about it afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STOLTENBERG: We've had two world wars and a cold war fought with that. We are stronger together than apart.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But how can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against.

STOLTENBERG: Because you understand that, when we stand together, also when dealing with Russia, we are stronger. I think what we have seen is that -

TRUMP: No, you're just making Russia richer. You're not dealing with Russia. You're making Russia richer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So, how did you take that? Did you find it to be apples and oranges? Did you think the president had a point about this pipeline? And, obviously, what do you feel of accusing Germany of being controlled or captive to Russia?

STOLTENBERG: There are very strong views and positions when it comes to the question of this new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. And within NATO, there are nations with different positions.

It's not for NATO to decide on gas pipelines. We are a defense alliance. I welcome the fact that President Trump and Chancellor Merkel sat down during the NATO summit. They had an open discussion about these issues and they left each other agreeing that they all support NATO, despite the disagreement on the gas pipeline.

[09:25:06] For NATO, what is important is that allies are focused on diversification of energy supplies, that we are not - that we invest also in renewables, which can reduce the need to import energy and that we also protect our energy infrastructure.

But it's not for NATO to decide on specific energy projects. That's for nations to do.

AMANPOUR: So, I was speaking to the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, and she was - she's also written that this summit and then the summit with President Putin will either show America's commitment to leadership of the Western alliance or it will kill off American leadership.

She was very concerned by the sort of disarray that the meeting started with, the back-and-forth between you all over the breakfast. And she sort of suggested that this was music to Putin's ears - this discord - and that, in her words to me - President Trump's sort of disruption of this alliance for whatever reasons he wants to do that leaves those on the opposite side of fence "drooling."

Are you concerned about his position going into the meeting with Vladimir Putin?

STOLTENBERG: President Trump has a different style. He's very direct, but I think also that has helped allies to really hear his message, especially on burden sharing, defense spending.

I welcome the fact that he will meet with President Putin because I have been strongly in favor of dialogue - or NATO is strongly in favor of dialogue with Russia.

For us, dialogue is not a sign of weakness. Dialogue is a sign of strength. So, as long as we are united and as long as we are firm in our approach to Russia, we should also sit down and talk to Russia, partly to aspire for a better relationship with Russia, but even without the better relationship with Russia, we need to manage a difficult relationship with Russia.

So, when tensions are high as they are now, it's even more important to talk. We have more military presence along our borders. We need to avoid accidents, accidents, miscalculations and, therefore, we need military lines of communications and dialogue with Russia just to make sure that we try to keep tensions down and avoid incidents and accidents.

AMANPOUR: So, let me get your reaction to two things President Trump said during his press conference. One that he was open to potentially considering permanent annexation of Crimea by Russia. That Russia's claim to own Crimea now, he could consider potentially accepting that.

And two that he might also consider calling a halt to the joint NATO exercises around the Baltics, those very important exercises there.

What is your reaction to that?

STOLTENBERG: Well, we had a very good meeting with President Poroshenko where we reiterated our strong support to Ukraine, to the territorial integrity, to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and that, of course, includes Crimea.

And all allies have expressed again and again that we do not, and will not, recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea.

When it comes to exercises, actually, what we do now is that we are exercising more together. I think we have to understand that the military presence - or NATO forces and U.S. forces together in - NATO and U.S. forces together in Europe, it's partly about protecting Europe, but Europe is also important for projecting stability beyond Europe, into Middle East, Africa.

So, the U.S. presence in Europe is also about power projection for the United States beyond Europe.

AMANPOUR: So, just explain that for the sake of American voters because President Trump is always saying that the Europeans, the allies get much, much, much more out of NATO than the U.S. does.

You wrote an op-ed saying that you live in Brussels, not far from some of the bloodiest battlefields of World War II and how that has convinced you of a number of issues in this regard.

So, what would you say to the American people about the value of NATO for them?

STOLTENBERG: The NATO is important for Europe, but NATO is also important for North America and United States because NATO is an alliance that provides friendship - 28 friends and allies of the United States, meaning that European soldiers and Canadian soldiers have been together with U.S. soldiers on battlefields from Korea in the 50s, Afghanistan and Iraq today. And the presence of U.S. forces in Europe helps to protect Europe, but is also the platform that the United States has used to project power into the Middle East or Africa. The U.S. Africa Command is in Europe.