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FBI Agent Who Sent Anti-Trump Texts Grilled by Lawmakers; Trump Meets with British P.M. Following NATO Summit. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 12, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: The Russians are a top-rate adversary in terms of their foreign intelligence service, in terms of how competently they are able to use their intelligence service to achieve their foreign policies and national security goals, many of which you referenced, their desire of the threat for NATO, trying to undermine the Western alliance, trying to minimize the role and influence and leadership of the United States around the world, attempting to minimize and undermine the extraordinary greatness of our democracy, to make it seem pedestrian and nothing special and on par with their kleptocracy and near dictatorship that they have to somehow make us seem less.
But as to intelligence perspective, I wouldn't presume to get into a foreign policy --
REP. STEVE COHEN, (D), TENNESSEE: They engage occasionally in assassination
STRZOK: They do.
COHEN: -- of political rivals?
COHEN: And arrest of journalists for maybe talking and writing about things that the state does not believe in?
COHEN: It's not America.
STRZOK: Not at all.
COHEN: Well, that's, unfortunately, what the Mueller investigation is looking into, is Russian collusion to influence our election and to influence our politics. And you have dedicated your life to working against that type of involvement and against that type of effort to subvert our Democracy and to undermine it. I thank you for that. It is astonishing to me that you would be put on trial has you have today. In these discussions in this committee meeting, somebody said, we don't want young people to look at the front pages constantly and see things about the FBI that's putting FBI and the Justice Department in question, on the front page. I would submit to this committee that the people who are putting that on the front page is this committee. And the people who won't accept what the investigator general said, that there was no bias involved in the actions of you or others that were investigating. "There was found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations, rather, they we determine they were based on the prosecutors' assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practices."
With that as a fact, there's no reason for this hearing. No reason at all. But it puts it on the front page again and again and again. And as you said earlier, the Russians are loving it because this is what they want. This is what they want. You would think it is Benghazi. It was a never-ending television show from Congress that got nowhere, except tried to influence the people that watch FOX news. That's what this is about. This is really unfortunate. And as they say, you put lipstick on a pig, but this is nothing but a ruse to try to get to the Mueller investigation and make people think it's baseless, that it's biases, that it's 13 Democrats that are working on this and they are prejudiced and they're discriminatory and they're biased because they -- just as Jack Nicholson said in the movie, "A Few Good Men," you can't handle the truth. The truth is this is the most corrupt administration ever and it is going to be exposed by Robert Mueller, and thank god.
I yield back.
And I think you.
REP. TREY GOWDY, (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: The gentleman from Tennessee yields back.
The gentleman from Ohio is recognized.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R), OHIO: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.
Agent Strzok, did you provide any information to reporters or journalists of media personality about anything related to Trump/Russia investigation in 2016, '17 or '18?
JORDAN: Did the press talk to you, Agent Strzok, about this issue? Did they ever come to you?
STRZOK: The Trump/Russia collusion investigation?
JORDAN -- to you. I'm asking, first, did you talk to them? And did they come to you about anything related to the Trump/investigation of 2016, 2017 or 2018?
STRZOK: I received a number of calls from various members of the media, particularly when I returned from the Office of Special Counsel. In every instance --
JORDAN: Prior to going on the special counsel team, did you get any inquiries from the press that you took?
STRZOK: Not that I took. I referred them to the Office of Public Affairs of the FBI:
JORDAN: Have you read the dossier?
STRZOK: I have.
JORDAN: OK, and you wrote it, too, didn't you?
STRZOK: I don't know what you mean by writing about it?
JORDAN: We got an e-mail that you sent. It should be presented there or it should be in front of you there. I want you to take a look at this. This is an e-mail that you wrote to Lisa Page, Bill Priestap, Jim Baker, Jim Rybicki, and cc'd to Andrew McCabe. Subject line is "Buzzfeed is about to publish the dossier." Are you familiar with this e-mail?
STRZOK: I am.
JORDAN: All right. It says this, "Comparing now, the set is identical to what McCain had, parenthesis, it has difference from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson." Did you write all that?
STRZOK: Congressman, I -- let me answer it this way. First, if I could address the chairman over the --
STRZOK: -- that was authorized by the general counsel.
JORDAN: Hang on. Hang on a second. I just want my time to stop because -- are you addressing me or the chairman?
STRZOK: It is all going to come together in an answer.
GOWDY: Is there a question you want to direct.
STRZOK: No. It's something -- I wanted to answer your question from earlier, based on something I have been told by the FBI.
JORDAN: Wait, wait.
[14:35:04] GOWDY: I think I am aware of what the FBI told you, and you and I will have another chance to talk about that. But right now, the gentleman from Ohio controls the time.
JORDAN: You wrote this? That is the question. STRZOK: So, obviously, we have --
JORDAN: You see the "from" line?
JORDAN: Here's the "from" line. You see the "from" line?
STRZOK: Congressman, I do. And I understand --
JORDAN: And then it says, "Strzok." Then it says Lisa Page and a whole bunch of other key people at the FBI. So did you write it?
STRZOK: I did write this.
JORDAN: All right, let me ask a couple of questions about it. It has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson." Who's Corn?
STRZOK: Sir, to answer that question -- and I would love to answer that question in every part of me. And you know why I would want to answer that question because you have this information.
JORDAN: Who sent it?
STRZOK: I have been -- sir, if I may. I cannot answer that question.
JORDAN: You wrote about it. It's now public.
Who's Corn and who's Simpson?
STRZOK: Based on direction of the FBI, sir, I am not able to answer questions about ongoing investigative matters.
JORDAN: I just want to figure this out. I want to figure out, Agent Strzok. You are referencing three copies of the dossier. The "Buzzfeed" copy you have, the one McCain's staff gave to you, and the one that you said you got from Corn and Simpson. The one McCain gave to you and the one "Buzzfeed" has are identical, in your words. But they have -- the Corn and Simpson one is different. How is that important?
STRZOK: Sir, here's -- it is important. And I want to answer your question. And here's the position that I am in, Congressman -
JORDAN: Let me --
STRZOK: May I answer your question?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Mr. Chair, may the witness be permitted to answer your question?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. - Mr. Strzok repeatedly asked the question, doesn't let him answer it.
GOWDY: The gentleman from Ohio controls the time.
STRZOK: I have been directed that I may state that I have read the dossier. That I read the dossier as it came in, in parts and pieces.
JORDAN: You've already told me you read it.
STRZOK: And --
JORDAN: I want to know who Corn and Simpson are.
STRZOK: And, sir, what I am telling you is that I have been directed I may not state the various places where the FBI --
JORDAN: OK, let me ask you this.
JORDAN: I got that. I know what you are saying. I know what you're saying.
Did you ever communicate with David Corn?
JORDAN: Did you ever communicate with Glenn Simpson?
JORDAN: Did you ever communicate with Nellie Ohr?
JORDAN: Did you ever communicate with Bruce Ohr?
JORDAN: When did you communicate with Bruce Ohr?
STRZOK: My recollection is somewhere between three, possibly three, four or five times in late 2016, early 2017 time frame.
JORDAN: What did you talk about?
STRZOK: We talked about investigative matters that Mr. Ohr was involved in. JORDAN: Did you talk about the investigation we're focus on here,
STRZOK: My direction from the FBI --
JORDAN: All right. All right. I got it. I got it.
STRZOK: -- may not answer that question.
JORDAN: Let's go back to the e-mail that you sent that you won't talk about. Are there three copies of the dossier as evidence by what you said in this e-mail?
STRZOK: Sir, to be clear, I want to talk about this e-mail. I want nothing more than to answer your questions --
JORDAN: You are not answering my questions.
Are there three copies?
STRZOK: Three copies of what?
JORDAN: The McCain copy, the "Buzzfeed" copy and the one that you got from Corn and Simpson?
STRZOK: Sir, the most I can tell you is we received a variety of copies of, and different types of --
JORDAN: Let me ask you one other question. Let me ask you one other question. Glenn Simpson testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. He was asked, did anyone from Fusion ever communicate with the FBI? His response, no, no one from Fusion ever spoke with the FBI.
So here is what I am having trouble understanding. If Glenn Simpson says no one spoke with the FBI, how is it that you go the copy of the dossier from Simpson?
STRZOK: Sir, I can tell you I never had contact with Fusion, with Mr. Simpson, with Mr. Corn. And, again, sir --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Chairman, regular order.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The gentleman will have a few more seconds since he was interrupted.
JORDAN: I mean, this is frustration that every single member of this committee feels, is when Agent Strzok won't -- but more importantly, the American people feel -- when Agent Strzok won't answer fundamental questions like the guy he references in an e-mail, Corn and Simpson, and won't tell me who they are, this is unbelievable. But that's where it's gotten to now and it's as frustrating as it could get, Mr. Chairman.
I yield back.
STRZOK: Mr. Chairman, may I respond?
STRZOK: Sir, it is as frustrating to me as it is to you. I can tell you sir, I would love --
JORDAN: You know what, Agent Strzok --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Mr. Chairman, may the witness be permitted to answer?
STRZOK: If it's so -
GOODLATTE: The gentleman will suspend.
JORDAN: If it is so frustrating, answer the question.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: If you allow him to, I'm sure he will.
JORDAN: He has never answered the question who --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Stop interrupting him.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The gentleman -- will you instruct the gentleman from Ohio to stop badgering.
[14:39:59] GOODLATTE: We are about -- we are about to move on. The gentleman from Ohio's time is expired.
We're about to move on, where Mr. Strzok can answer a question that he refused to answer earlier on advice of counsel.
And I'm going to yield to Mr. Gowdy --
GOODLATTE: -- for the purpose of doing that right now.
STRZOK: Mr. Chairman, before Mr. Gowdy starts, may I respond to Mr. Jordan?
GOODLATTE: Very briefly. STRZOK: Very briefly, sir, I would love to do that. There's an appropriate time for oversight and, as you well know, it is at the end of an investigation, once it is concluded. I am certain Congress will absolutely have the opportunity to look at any investigation once it is closed and ask all these questions. And I would love to answer each and every one of your questions once the FBI --
GOODLATTE: Mr. Strzok, we already know that answer from you, and you have already been advised that you can't answer the questions here because, guess what, this is the United States Congress where you're testifying, not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, we should not we cannot be asking about an ongoing investigation. That is sabotaging an ongoing investigation by this committee. And that's what he's not cooperating with and we should not do it.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: -- he cannot cooperate with that.
GOODLATTE: These questions are table-setting questions regarding the formation of this, and he can answer those questions. But --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: He cannot answer questions about an ongoing investigation.
GOODLATTE: Well, I've been advised that he can. And so Mr. Gowdy --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: He's been advised by the FBI that he cannot.
GOODLATTE: No. He's been advised that he can. And Mr. Gowdy is going to, again, ask his question.
GOWDY: The gentleman from Ohio has asked for 15 seconds.
JORDAN: So, Agent Strzok, who's being square here? Glenn Simpson says no one from Fusion spoke with the FBI. You say in your e-mail, we got a copy of the dossier from Simpson.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, regular order.
GOODLATTE: We will have regular order. And we'll revisit that question.
Now, the chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
GOWDY: Agent Strzok, between July 31st, 2016 and August -
(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, regular order.
GOODLATTE: This is regular order. The gentleman refused to answer the question earlier. He has been advised, and I have been advised by the FBI that he may answer the question that was in order earlier, and he's now going to answer the question.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: But Mr. Chairman, Republicans have control of the time, and now the time goes to the Democrats.
GOODLATTE: The gentleman will be recognized shortly.
GOWDY: Agent Strzok, between July 31, 2016 and August 6, 2016, how many witness interviews did you conduct as part of the Russia/Trump campaign alleged collusion investigation?
STRZOK: I don't recall. I have to check the case file.
GOWDY: We waited all that time for that answer?
STRZOK: Yes, sir.
GOWDY: That's eerily similar to what you said a couple of hours ago.
STRZOK: Sir, I am telling you and I would reject the characterization that I refuse to answer anything. I want to answer these questions.
GOWDY: I just asked you one. I just asked you one. And I am looking for a number.
STRZOK: Sir, my answer is --
GOWDY: I'm looking for a number.
STRZOK: I do not know without the opportunity to check the case file.
GOWDY: You don't recall in the first week of an investigation that you originated, approved, were the contact person on, you don't recall how many witness interviews you did in the first week?
STRZOK: Sir, I remember that there were interviews conducted. I do not know when they fell on a calendar to be able to tell you whether they were --
GOWDY: When was the last time?
STRZOK: -- or the other on something that was occurring in the context of a myriad of other responsibilities.
GOWDY: When was the last time you looked at the file, Agent Strzok? STRZOK: Probably going on a year.
GOWDY: For those of us looking at it yesterday, would you disagree that the first interview took place on August 11th.
STRZOK: I don't know. I cannot answer that.
GOWDY: Well, prior to July 31, 2016, how many witness interviews did you conduct as part of the Russia/Trump campaign alleged collusion investigation?
STRZOK: None. None before July 31st, which would be none at the time you said what you said in that text on July 31st.
STRZOK: I don't understand the text you're referring to.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. This is our time.
GOWDY: No. There are two more questions he would not answer.
GOODLATTE: The gentleman will continue.
GOWDY: Between May --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Can you explain why he's on our time?
GOODLATTE: He can -- he's not on your time.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Not mine personally. Democratic time.
GOODLATTE: It is on our time because he was advised earlier by the FBI that he could not answer the question and now he's advised that he can. The questions will be asked and answered.
GOWDY: Between May --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Parliamentary inquiry, what rules are we following that would dictate such an answer by you, Mr. Chairman?
GOODLATTE: We are following the rules of the committee.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Could you cite the rule?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: No?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, point --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Mr. Chairman, point of parliamentary inquiry.
GOODLATTE: -- can continue. But when you do, and the FBI tells him he can't answer questions and then they change their mind and says he can, we're going to take the time out to do that and then we're going to continue.
[14:45:08] UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Mr. Chairman, point of parliament inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Democratic members have the right --
GOODLATTE: The gentleman from South Carolina is recognized.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: -- to know what the rules are in governing this hearing --
GOODLATTE: The gentleman --
GOODLATTE: The gentleman is not --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Are you making it up as you go along?
GOWDY: Agent Strzok, between May 17, 2017 and May 18, 2018, how many interviews did you conduct as part of the special counsel team?
STRZOK: I don't believe I conducted any.
GOWDY: Between May 17, 2017 and May 22, 2017, how many witness interviews did you conduct in that five-days period?
STRZOK: Sir, you just went back a year, from 2018 to 2017, and I don't know.
GOWDY: And 2017, May 17, 2017 --
GOWDY: -- to May 22, 2017.
STRZOK: Yes, I believe you said May '18. But '17, I don't know. And --
GOWDY: Whether I did or not, it is the '17, 2017.
STRZOK: Fair enough. And I don't recall.
GOWDY: Well, Chairman, I appreciate you letting me make it clear. And, again, the context, when you would not answer it, was you used the word "impeachment" on May 18, 2017. And you used the word "impeachment" on May 22, 2017. And your testimony is you can't recall a single interview you would have done as part of the investigation that was supposed to lead to impeachment. I think that line -- of course, I'm glad the FBI finally realized it, albeit, a couple of hours too late. When you are prejudging not just a result but a punishment, which is what impeachment is, when you are prejudging the conviction and the sentencing, when you have not conducted a single solitary interview, I am sorry, Agent Strzok, that's letting your bias impact your professional judgment.
STRZOK: Mr. Chairman, may I respond?
STRZOK: Sir, so, look, I never prejudged anything. Not in this case and not in any other. And second --
GOWDY: Impeachment for what, Agent Strzok? Impeachment for what -
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. What are the rules here?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, what are the rules?
GOODLATTE: The gentleman -- the gentleman will allow the witness --
GOODLATTE: -- to answer the question and then we'll move on.
STRZOK: Second --
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: He was given time to respond.
STRZOK: At the time, I was a deputy assistant director. I have section chiefs, unit chiefs in the field, supervisors, agents, people who typically do interviews, not me. If something is notable or high level, I may be involved, but it would be rare, if never, that I would get out there and conduct interviews, first of all. Second, you mentioned the use of the word "impeachment." That was used in the context of my not knowing what this would lead to. I was not prejudging impeachment. When I used that term --
GOWDY: Oh, Agent Strzok, please.
STRZOK: It might lead all the way to something -- (CROSSTALK)
GOODLATTE: Thank -- thank you, Agent Strzok.
GOWDY: Are you kidding me?
GOODLATTE: The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Clay.
REP. LACY CLAY, (D), MISSOURI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
And Special Agent Strzok, I just continue to be amazed that my colleagues in the majority are more interested in your text messages than they are about the leader of the free world doing everything possible to undermine the Western alliance. It just amazes me, Special Agent Strzok, as a counterintelligent specialist, you know all too well the pervasive, constant and growing danger that the Russian Federation poses to this country, our allies and to democracy in general It is appalling that my colleagues in the majority continue to relitigate the 2016 election while the president does more damage in the Western -- to the Western alliance than the sum total of all previous Russian and Soviet leaders could have dreamed of. And it is remarkable that Mr. Trump accused our trusted ally Germany of being, and I quote, "totally under the control of Russia." I would say that the president is half right. Someone is totally under control of Russia, but it is not Germany. You know the president should look into the mirror and explain why virtually every decision he makes and every word --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You have been watching the House here with Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who sent the anti-Trump texts. This has been a very contentious hearing.
But let's go from pyrotechnics to pageantry for a moment.
[14:50:01] John Berman, here in London. About 65 miles northwest of where I am is Blenheim Palace. This was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. You can see President Trump arrive there for a black-tie dinner hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May. The president is pulling up right now in this motorcade and he'll be greeted by the prime minister, who, incidentally, has been standing outside for some time waiting for the president to arrive. In some ways, this is the most pomp and circumstance that we'll see during the president's stay in the United Kingdom, this black-tie dinner. Tomorrow he will have tea with the queen. But tonight, it's the dinner with the full rollout. The band is there and music will be playing with some special tunes composed just for this occasion.
Again, we are waiting to see the president walk out the car and arrive. There he is, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, arriving at the palace. And that's British Prime Minister Theresa May along with her husband, Philip May. The first lady, Melania Trump.
The president has been with Theresa May for the last two days in Brussels as part of the NATO meetings, and we know how they went. There was a lot of controversy there. The president leaning on the NATO allies to spend more in their own defense. British, for what it's worth, actually does spend more than the 2 percent the president is calling on all the NATO allies to spend.
We can't hear too much. I wanted to listen in to hear if we could pick up of anything of this moment.
Again, this is a black-tie dinner. It is not a state dinner, per se. And Blenheim Palace is not a royal palace. It is the one palace in Britain not owned by the monarchy or the church. It does have great significance as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It's the ancestral home of the Spencer-Churchills, gifted to the family of the Duke of Marlboro, the first Duke of Marlboro way back in the 1700s to honor the Battle of Blenheim over the French and the Bavarians. It was selected for this meal because the Brits know that President Trump is quite fond of Winston Churchill.
BERMAN: A lot has been made of the music that we are hearing right now, an especially composed fanfare by the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry Band. We'll hear music from the bands of Scots and Irish and Welch guards.
Look, leaders around the world know that President Trump likes it when they roll out the red carpet for him. This was the event to prove that to the president. Again, carefully chosen specifically with that kind of protocol in mind.
BERMAN: As we are watching this, I want to bring in Jim Acosta right now who's here from London not far from Winfield House where the president has been staying or will be staying here in London, about 65 miles from where he's standing right now.
Jim, explain to me where we are on this European journey for the president and what this part means?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a big part of the trip, John. Obviously, they're rolling out the red carpet here in England. But at the same time, I am not sure that carpet is any more red than the faces of European leaders across this continent. They are furious with this president after what happened over in NATO in Brussels, these tense conversations that went on behind closed doors. We'll see in the next day or so as the president meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth is maybe a little bit of fence mending. We heard from our sources from behind the scenes that the president's conversation with European leaders were tough on both sides. They were giving and taking over this issue of burden sharing and defense spending. But what we were hearing repeatedly from the British side is that the British, as you said, John, are meeting their commitment of hitting 2 percent of GDP on defense spending. And they're trying almost to bend over backward that they are with the president on a lot of these issues. I think that hides and disguises some of the tense feelings that are prevalent behind the scene.
John, they are very worried about what the president is going to do when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. We heard that from a number of diplomatic sources. They're worried that the president is going to give away the store, that he's not going to be tough on Ukraine and on election meddling. And you heard the president addressed some of those concerns at that news conference that was announced suddenly to the press with about 15 minutes notice earlier this morning in Brussels. The president said, well, I am going to bring up election meddling with Vladimir Putin, but I think I know the answer that I am going to get from Vladimir Putin. That, obviously, that kind of talk does not sit well with the Europeans, especially when he was asked about the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. And the president seems to blame Barack Obama for that, even though it was Putin that ordered the seizing of Crimea. It took days and weeks and months for the Russians to acknowledge that. Just all of those reasons, there's a lot of concerns and a lot of worries on this side of the Atlantic about this president.
And what happened at NATO, John, did not really dispel any of those concerns. Those concerns are prevalent. And I think it's being covered over to some extent with all this pomp and circumstance. You are not seeing the protests in London or the Trump baby balloon that's flying over London and so on. Because the British wanted to keep it away from camera as much as possible during this visit.
[14:56:03] BERMAN: Oh, I don't think there's any question that the itinerary of this trip was designed specifically to avoid as much controversy as humanly possible.
Jim Acosta, thanks so much.
Joining me in London as we're watching this, Matthew Doyle, a former advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Kate Bennett is here with me as well.
Again, we are looking at Blenheim Palace right now. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, along with Melania Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Philip May, Theresa May's husband. This is the pageantry.
Matthew, it is interesting, Jim Acosta is talking about all the drama in Brussels. There's really two dramas playing out before our eyes, the drama that President Trump brings with him wherever he goes and, right now, that is the drama of America's place in the world, America's role in Europe, and its continued commitment to NATO. And there's the drama surrounding British Prime Minister Theresa May. I just don't think there's any question that this is really the most difficult week she has seen in that role. This is a very crucial day and a crucial two days for her. There's an intersection between these two dramas, isn't there?
MATTHEW DOYLE, FORMER SPOKESMAN & ADVISOR TO FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: For sure. I think what you are seeing is building on what's happening on the NATO summit for two days, the combination of issues that are on the plate for these two leaders to talk about. Look, there's a strategic opportunity for Britain here, and one that Theresa May will take advantage of, and that is, other than his caddy in Scotland, she will be the last person speaking to President Trump before he goes to see Vladimir Putin for the summit in Helsinki. So Britain will be hoping it can be a part of sending a clear message for what he needs to do and say with the President Trump relationship. And no question that the NATO summit this week and his rhetoric in the past about bringing Russia back into the G-7, G-8 family will have concerned people.
But on the domestic front, these relationships between Britain and America are always difficult for prime ministers and presidents, particularly when you have that difference of ideology. And yet, most people, if you look at the polling, do take a programmatic view that they understand the need for Britain and America to have that strong relationship, even if it is purely reasons of trades and business and so on. But, ultimately, this is an alliance of people and values rather than a political agreement necessarily between the two leaders.
BERMAN: It is an important point here for people to understand is that the special relationship, particularly from the views here in the United Kingdom, is real and is important. Yes, President Trump is a hugely controversial figure here, and there will be protests here. But by and large, Brits want to see this meeting and want to have it successful and they appreciate this moment to a point, but there are limits. Explain that.
BENNETT: Yes. The limits are that I think people recognize that relationship. And the polling shows 50 to 39 in the latest poll that people want the trip to go ahead. But equally, those numbers show the public are not in favor of him meeting with the queen. That makes that distinction between recognizing what may, in diplomatic language, sounds like a semantic distinction, but actually to the British public, this is an important distinction between a working visit, which is about the relationship between the two countries centering around common values, trade and people that's gone back to generations, verses feeling like we are rolling out the red carpet and honoring a guy who frankly has views that the vast majority of the British public disagree with.
DOYLE: What we are seeing at this event in Blenheim, however, is treading that line as far as you can. This is as close as a royal state visit as you can get without technically being one.
BERMAN: It is threading the needle. There's a lot of pomp and circumstance, a lot of pageantry here. But it's not a royal visit.
But, Kate Bennett, you've seen a bunch of these now. You know how much the president like this kind of things. And you would not think this is enough to satisfy him.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No.
BERMAN: You don't think it is enough? BENNETT: No. I mean, it is the perfect amount. I have never seen
guests in black tie line up like that in front of the palace and watch as well. I mean, it just seems like -- as you said, foreign leaders have learned, this is what Donald Trump likes.
BENNETT: This is what he prefers. They're going to go and see the queen tomorrow and --