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Trump Criticizes British PM Ahead of Meeting; London Mayor Sadiq Khan Responds to Trump Attacks. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Coming up, diplomatic drama as President Trump slams the British prime minister ahead of their visit here, while,
back in Washington, the US Justice Department indicts 12 Russians for hacking the Democratic officials in the 2016 election. I dive in today's
fast and furious events with Britain's former ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott, and Washington's former EU ambassador Anthony
Plus, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, responds to the president's personal and bruising attack on his record. He tells me why the massive protests
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The first full day of President Trump's visit to Britain lived up to its billing. Controversial, fast-paced action, pomp and protest.
It began in true Trumpian fashion, starting with an unprecedented interview in "The Sun" tabloid newspaper, which is owned by Trump's friend Rupert
Murdoch, and in which President Trump directly criticized his host, the British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Later, though, when standing beside her, he tried to walk it back and make nice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:04] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I give our relationship in terms of grade, the highest level of special. So, we start off with
I would give our relationship with the UK, and now, especially after this two days with your prime minister, I would say the highest level of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, special or not, President Trump did, in fact, avoid this capital city. He avoided London because of what went on behind me, behind
parliament and in the streets.
There were tens of thousands of Britons, who packed the streets, packed the squares including Trafalgar Square, as you can see there, protesting this
visit and protesting President Trump's policies, for instance, on immigration and his record on women's issues.
A blimp of Trump, as a baby dressed up in a diaper, hovered overhead for a couple of hours.
Then as President Trump met the Queen for tea at Windsor Castle, two bombshells dropped. Back home, in Washington, the deputy attorney general
announced some of the most serious charges yet in connection with the Muller investigation into the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what Rosenstein said was that this is involving alleged hacking into Democratic Party officials' computers.
While, here in London, shortly after that announcement, the Metropolitan Police said they have found the vial that they believe to be source of the
Novichok, the nerve agent, that killed a woman here and had seriously injured a person who is in hospital right now.
So, these two events, these two announcements coming just a couple of days before President Trump makes what is also a controversial next visit, a
summit meeting he is holding with President Putin in Helsinki.
Now, joining me to discuss all of this are Sir Peter Westmacott, who is the former British ambassador to Washington, and Anthony Gardner, who is
Washington's former ambassador to the EU.
Gentlemen, welcome to the program. So, a lot to digest. Just when you think you have one trail of news, another one comes. Just when you think
you know the way and direction, there's whiplash, and everything's going the other way.
So, let me first ask you. What do you make of the indictments in Washington regarding the Muller investigation and accusing members of the
GRU, military officials, in Russia of hacking into the Democratic National Convention and their computers during the election? What do you make of
this, Peter Westmacott?
PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I think this is the next stage of an investigation, which we've all known about for
a long time.
The Mueller investigation has been thorough. It's very well staffed. It hasn't leaked. And each time there was something that comes out of that
investigation, it is a very serious and carefully explained and calibrated.
Of course, the people they've indicted are not living in the United States, but what this does is firmly, again, make the point that the Russians were
interfering in the United States presidential elections and with the campaigns of one camp in particular.
Does it mean that the Trump administration is somehow complicit? No, it doesn't say that. Did it make any - does it provide any additional
evidence that the Russians made a difference to the outcome of the elections? It's not saying that either.
But it is one more, if you like, nail in the coffin of the Russian lies that they had nothing to do with it. And I think that the timing just
before President Trump is going to meet Putin in Helsinki is important.
AMANPOUR: And we understand from the deputy attorney general that he actually briefed President Trump before making this public announcement and
he had briefed him earlier this week.
What do you think? Because there are now US senators, Democratic senators, calling for President Trump to cancel his meeting with President Putin? Do
you think he should meet and read him the riot act or should he cancel?
ANTHONY GARDNER, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO THE EU: No, I think he should cancel. I'm particularly troubled by news reports which, if correct,
indicate that he'll be meeting Putin alone, just with the interpreters.
Now, think of what signal that sends. After this week in which he has undermined both NATO and undermined the EU, he'll be meeting with him
alone. Those agents were not acting alone. It's almost certain to say they were acting on instruction.
So, this is not a meeting you should be having. So, I think he should cancel.
AMANPOUR: This comes with a double whammy of the Metropolitan Police, they said, finding this vial of Novichok.
Now, the British prime minister brought it up again in the press conference standing alongside President Trump. I hope you tell President Putin to
stop doing it because they blame the Russians, the British have.
Now, one person is dead. So, it's a murder investigation. They're not blaming the Russians for the latest one, but they think it's the same
Novichok. The police have now found a vial in the surviving gentleman's apartment. They're trying to investigate what that is.
[14:10:14] What do you both believe as diplomats - and you're used to these power plays - does this information give Trump more ammunition should he
actually continue with this summit? Should it put Vladimir Putin on notice? What do you think that this does ahead of this summit?
WESTMACOTT: Trump, of course, would say that he expelled 60 Russian diplomats the last time round in response to the very strong message from
the Brits that they believe that, at the highest level, the Russians authorized the poisoning of the other two people who didn't die, but were
very seriously injured in Salisbury. And almost certainly this is a link to that, to the same vial that was used to provide the same poison. And
because it is so toxic, the other people who found it were contaminated.
I think what it does is give Donald Trump ammunition to go into Vladimir Putin and say look you've got to knock this off. There's two big things,
leaving aside Ukraine where he is a little nuanced, one is interference in Western democratic processes, and it's not just in America. And the other
is barefaced shameless assassination of the regime's enemies on the streets of free countries.
We, of course, in the United Kingdom feel very strongly about that because it's been happening more in Britain and it's happened possibly in as many
as in a half a dozen other cases, which have not been fully explained. And I think it does mean that President Trump can go to his friend, even though
he says he doesn't know him yet, Vladimir Putin, and say there are certain things which you've just got to stop doing if we're going to be able to do
AMANPOUR: And Ambassador Gardner, it's not coincidental that the Rosenstein indictment announcement today were about military officials in
Russia in terms of hacking.
This Novichok, we're told, can only be produced by the Russian military and the state. This is not just some individual stealing some highly strategic
nerve agent. It's very - I mean, it really does point to the highest levels of Russian establishment.
GARDNER: Of course, it does. And this is a strong indictment, but he's not going to use that power to point to Putin and really exert his
Look, the expulsion of 60 diplomats is probably one of the weakest things we could have done because the Russians, obviously, did exactly the same
thing in expelling 60 of our diplomats.
When we were looking at this under the Obama administration, there were many things we could have done. One of the my biggest disappointments,
frankly, in the Obama administration is that we didn't do more.
We could have named and shamed people close to Putin in terms of their financial arrangements in the West. We could have done much more to
restrict air travel to the West and we could have used the SWIFT financial network to basically isolate Russia as we have with Iran.
There was a whole list of options. We decided not to do it. Obama looked at him and said knock it off. Perhaps, Trump will do the same thing and
knock it off, but that's not enough.
We have to say we know what you're doing and we will now take consequences that are close to you and your family and your cronies.
AMANPOUR: So, now to both of you, looking at the wider - even wider, big strategic position of all of this, President Trump, this walk back, comes
from a NATO summit, which started chaotically and with him again hurling insults. Some call it velvet-wrapped grenades at Germany. And then, sort
of ending fairly united, at least rhetorically - we're united; we're stronger. What message does Vladimir Putin take away from the ally's
behavior at the NATO summit?
GARDNER: Well, it takes a lot of messages. The message he takes away is this president is not fully committed to the NATO alliance or at least is
sending mixed signals and certainly takes the message away that this president is actively trying to divide and potentially conquer the EU.
Certainly, in terms of trade.
Those are all things that he will welcome, of course. In fact, in the last week, I would argue this president has done more to weaken both alliances
than the Russians and Putin could ever have done working by himself.
AMANPOUR: Do you have the same view? It was interesting, in the press conference today, Sir Peter Westmacott, that President Trump said, the
early headlines these mornings while I have been away have been very sort of chaotic. And then, by the evening, you see that we're all on the same
He meant that about Brussels and he, obviously, meant that about here in the UK. If you were sitting in Vladimir Putin's seat, who everybody says
plays a weak hand incredibly well, what would you be thinking ahead of meeting this president in a couple of days?
WESTMACOTT: I would be saying to myself, this is a relationship which is really quite useful to me. How many years does it go back, for how long
have the Russians been working with or even playing Donald Trump, we don't yet know? We may learn more in due course.
[14:15:02] But if you look also at the way in which Putin has now got a cozy relationship with President Erdogan of Turkey and is busy selling
controversial air defense systems to Turkey, he sees plenty of opportunities here to divide NATO, to split up allies.
And he's probably thrilled to have a president of the United States, who he is so passionately opposed to multilateralism, to international
organizations which have done such a good job at keeping Russia in check and keeping Western countries at peace and doing rather well.
He's having a ball, Putin. And as you say, playing a weak hand and a very weak economy and a badly run country extremely well.
AMANPOUR: I want to play - sorry, go ahead.
GARDNER: I was going to say, he's done two things in the last week. He has actively sought to undermine one of our key allies, Angela Merkel,
because he wants to prove her wrong on immigration.
Then he comes here and he's actively seeking to undermine, the leader of another close ally, Prime Minister May, and endorse a rival for her
position. Now, how wonderful is that for Vladimir Putin?
AMANPOUR: Well, I want to play, to that point, the whole Brexit issue and what is afoot here with President Trump's statements to "The Sun" newspaper
and then in front of Prime Minister May, let's just play the dueling Trumpian soundbites.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't agree with. She didn't listen to me.
Once the Brexit process is concluded and perhaps the UK has left the EU, I don't know what they're going do, but whatever you do is OK with me.
That's your decision. Whatever you're going to do is OK with us. Just make sure we can trade together. That's all that matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you've done a bad job. You didn't listen to me in your Brexit negotiations, but now it's OK as long as we can trade. How did you
interpret that? Is he trying to sort of cozy up to his hard Brexit friends? What's going on here?
WESTMACOTT: I interpret those remarks, especially the initial remarks that he walked back a bit from it in the press conference with Theresa May, as a
conscious effort by President Trump to intervene in the domestic Brexit debate, rather as Obama did in the other direction before the referendum,
and perhaps that's why he did it.
I think what had happened - and we had, of course, John Bolton, his national security adviser over here for private meetings with the hard line
AMANPOUR: Bolton was here?
GARDNER: He was here in London.
AMANPOUR: Which is an extraordinary event.
GARDNER: Just a few weeks before him, not to see the government, but to see the European Reform Group as it's called, Jacob Rees-Mogg's group of
And I think this was about warning Theresa May off a version of Brexit, or the British position, which was moving a bit towards the pragmatic, maybe
we can do something with customs unions, the single market, European Court of Justice and the rest of it because I think the hardline friends who have
very good links into the Trump administration were probably asking him to get involved in nudging her back in the sort of direction that they would
AMANPOUR: So, Anthony Gardner, special relationship or not, what about trade? He did say if you do a softie, we're not going to be able to have a
bilateral trade agreement with you.
WESTMACOTT: Well, maybe those comments could have been made behind closed doors, but they're based on a fallacy. The fallacy is the following. A
lot of American companies have invested in the UK as a gateway to Europe because the UK's regulations have been aligned with Europe. Same thing
with the Japanese, by the way.
The big bone that's been sticking in our throats is agriculture. A lot of our agricultural exporters cannot sell to the EU because of rules related
to hormone-treated beef and chicken that's been disinfected with chlorine and so forth.
Those things are not going to go away. The UK is not about to ditch those rules. There would be demonstrations in the streets. So, it's not by
coincidence that he made his original remarks, but they're founded on a misunderstanding.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. Ambassadors, both, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
WESTMACOTT: Thank you.
GARDNER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And next, while President Trump did spend the morning and the afternoon walking back some of his tabloid talk, he did make a point of
doubling down on one part of that "The Sun" tabloid interview.
They were the comments that immigration is destroying the culture of Europe. And one person has been squarely in the presidential crosshairs.
And that is the London Mayor Sadiq Khan with whom Trump has a running feud. The president made this unprecedented accusation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You have a mayor who's done a terrible job in London. He's done a terrible job. If you take a look at the terrorism that's taken place, look
at what's going on in London, I think he's done a terrible job. But I think that all of this immigration has really changed the fabric of Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he added not in a positive way. Now, perhaps the highest- profile Muslim politician in the West, Sadiq Khan, joined me earlier to respond to all of this.
Mayor Khan, welcome to the program. How unusual, how surprised were you to see that interview in the tabloid, "The Sun" by the President as he was
coming to Great Britain?
[14:20:01] SADIQ KHAN: Well, I think a lot of us were surprised not just in relation to the timing, but what he said during the interview. I went
to bed last night knowing there's this interview in "The Sun" and woke up today to read the interview.
And it must have been a very difficult evening for Prime Minister May at the dinner she had with him last night.
But I think some of the things he said during the interview will cause upset to Londoners and will explain, I suspect, why many Londoners, by the
way they include Londoners who are Americans, will be protesting today against President Trump, some of his policies and some of the things that
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you specifically about the things he said about you in this interview that your policy of letting migrants into this city is
very dangerous and very bad, that you've been very bad on anti-terror.
I mean, he really is continuing this feud that he's had with you for the last two years.
KHAN: Can I first say, it takes two to tango. And for a feud to happen, it takes two to get involved in that fight. I respond when I'm asked
questions by journalists to the tweets he sends and to the interviews he gives, where he volunteers opinions and views about me. I'm not looking
for a fight. Not looking for a feud. Not tweeting voluntarily about President Trump.
But the two key things he said during his interview, which caused surprise to anybody who's an expert in these issues is, one, that I was somehow
responsible for the terror attacks in London.
We lost 14 people last year in the terror attacks last year. And one of the comforting things for us was the message of support and love from
friends around the world, including America.
But Manchester lost 22 people to terror attacks. Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Nice, lost many, many people. We are all grappling with the evils of
terrorism. And President Trump should explain why he singled me out as the mayor of London, not other mayors or other leaders.
But the second substantive point that he made during the interview was to link the increase in crime across our country - crime has gone up across
our country over the last four years. In fact, in parts of South Yorkshire and Manchester by 61 and 60 percent. In London, it's gone up by 4 percent
over the last year.
And he's linking the increase in crime with increased immigration to Europe. I've seen no evidential basis for that. But, secondly, I'm not
responsible for immigration policies across Europe or even indeed in our country or city.
AMANPOUR: As you know, the Trump administration is now completely changing its asylum policy and you've seen the controversy over its migration
policy, the kids separated from families at the border.
But he did make a sweeping statement in this interview that migration - allowing, I think he said, millions of Muslims - or millions of people into
Europe has completely changed the culture and, as he said, upped the crime. How do you respond to the cultural accusation?
KHAN: I live in an island. And for the last thousand years, we've had immigration to our own land. If we didn't, there'd be no people here. And
we're by the River Thames. And over the last thousand years, what we've seen in London is people, ideas and trade come into our city from around
the world. And that's one of the reasons why we are the greatest city in the world.
And my point to President Trump and others who have these anti-immigrant views is actually don't be scared of diversity. Diversity is a strength,
something to be cherished, not to be scared of.
And if President Trump had the time to experience our great city, he would see examples of Londoners who are of Jewish faith, Christian faith, Muslim
faith, Hindu faith, Buddhist faith, Sikh faith, those members of the organized faith, those that aren't, he'd meet members of the LGBT+
community, strong powerful women and others.
And so, actually, pluralism, diversity is nothing to be scared of. And I'm unclear why the president of a country as brilliant as America who has in
its constitution enshrined some of these values is so scared of immigration. Why whip (INAUDIBLE) rather than addressing people's
AMANPOUR: So, you've talked about if you would come to London - he has said, again, in this interview that he doesn't feel welcome here. He
blames you for being behind the protests and for allowing this blimp to fly over London.
What is your answer to that that he specifically doesn't feel comfortable and welcome in London, which is why he's not in London?
KHAN: One of the things, not just as a human rights lawyer - as a former human rights lawyer, but as someone who loves America, I've done a study of
the US Constitution, read the speeches from Franklin to Jefferson and enshrined in your constitution is freedom of speech, freedom to protest.
The idea - and by the way, we share many of those values and our unwritten constitution has similar rights enshrined in common law and other documents
as well. The idea we would curtail freedom to protest, freedoms of speech, freedom to assemble because somebody's feelings are hurt, I just - are
Can you imagine a protest in Washington or in New York or Chicago being stopped or a banner being put down because somebody's feelings are being
By the way, we've got history littered with UK prime ministers and US presidents agreed on most things, who have special relationship, but
agreeing to disagree on other things. Think of the Vietnam War. Think of the Suez Crisis. Think of Reagan and Thatcher from the Falklands War to
the Grenada invasion.
[14:25:01] We had here satirical programs ridiculing President Reagan, a puppet of President Reagan without a brain, and he wasn't thin-skinned. He
understood, in a democracy, we have comedians, we have protesters.
When President Bush came here in 2003, there were thousands and thousands in the streets because of the Iraq (INAUDIBLE). And so, it's unclear why
this president is so worried about the rights we have in our respective countries and why he'd want to throw them in the bin or suspend them during
And by the way, today, we have people protesting against President Trump. But, tomorrow, in London, we've got the extreme far-right and pro-Trump
protesters protesting. We're not banning those. (INAUDIBLE).
One of the great things about living in a democracy is the - as long as you're peaceful and it's safe, you can protest.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned that. And Steve Bannon, the sort of mastermind behind the Trump election, is in town meeting with those like-minded
nationalists. You just called them extreme far-right.
But those people - and you haven't hindered that. And what do you think of that?
KHAN: That's one of things about living a democracy. They should have the rights to protest and express their views. That's what pluralism is all
My concern about the rise of narrow populist movements is that we've got to address the concerns that people have, which leads to them supporting them.
There's a reason why people are voting for these narrow populist parties from Hungary to Italy and other parts of the world.
And what I'm concerned about is when mainstream politicians normalize or give credibility or empower the far-right. So, for example, when President
Trump retweets the tweet from Britain First, an extreme far-right group banned from Facebook, the leader and deputy leader banned from Twitter, not
only is he amplifying messages of division and hatred, but is giving credibility as the president of the USA to these far-right groups. That's
why those of us who are progressive got to take him on.
AMANPOUR: Now, Theresa May, the prime minister is, obviously, not from your party. You're in the opposition Labour Party. Nonetheless, what do
you think of a president - and you've just talked about the special relationship - and the headline of "The Sun" tabloid newspaper saying,
"Theresa May has wrecked Brexit, no US deal."
KHAN: So, let me tell you the irony of - people are lecturing me about the art of diplomacy, particularly President Trump and his supporters about
it's not diplomatic to have protests when the president comes to London.
Well, I'd argue with respect to it's not diplomatic, when you're about to enter a country to do an interview, which criticizes the prime minister and
the strategy that she's embarking on, whether you agree or disagree with that strategy - and by the way, many Republican politicians criticized
President Obama when two years ago he made the point, I think the valid point, that if you leave the European Union, don't be surprised because
you're going to go from a mark of 600 million to a mark of 600 million where you go towards the back of the queue in relation to trade deals with
By the way, those same people are now jumping on the back of Trump and supporting Trump and saying - because Trump has made the same point. What
President Trump has said, President Trump has said that if the prime minister embarks on her Brexit strategy, we will go to the back of the
queue in relation to the trade that the US does with us and with the European Union. The EU will be in front of us. I think what's sauce for
the goose is sauce for the gander.
AMANPOUR: He seems to be taking talking points from your predecessor as mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the foreign minister who's resigned after
having essentially, I don't know, backstabbed the prime minister.
KHAN: Well, it's not for me to comment what goes on in Boris Johnson's head. What people here are joking about this morning President Trump is
signing up to be the campaign manager for Boris Johnson for prime minister. It's not for me to comment on - I'm quite clear in relation to Boris
Johnson's legacy both as the mayor of London - he left behind a massive mess which we're still cleaning up two years later - but also as foreign
secretary for the last two years. Nobody who studied our foreign secretary would say he's demonstrated diplomatic skills or the importance of getting
on with allies, but also making good relationships with those we need to do business with.
And I think many people, not just in the diplomatic corps, not just in the government, but also around the country are breathing a sigh of relief that
we appear to have a sensible politician now in that job which is important.
AMANPOUR: And finally, I just want to quote from what you've written in the "Evening Standard", the daily newspaper here, ahead of President
"The very specialness of our relationship means that we expect the highest standards from each other and it also means speaking out when we think one
side is not living up to the values that we hold dear."
Do you feel that you're one of the few public officials who actually does speak up for those values? I mean, NATO leaders have been berated, G7
allies have been berated, none of them really speak out.
KHAN: Look, I'm quite clear - look, I love America. I love Americans, as do many Londoners and many people in my country. Because you are our
closest ally, we have a special relationship, my expectations of you are higher than they would be of a leader of another country. I'll be frank
So, my expectations of a president of the USA are different to my expectations of a president of Turkey or another country we could name
around the world. Just like a best friend, the expectations I have of a best friend are higher than of just a friend or an acquaintance.
So, I expect this from our closest ally. I expect this from other countries. Similarly, NATO, at its core, is the US relationship, US,
Canada and the European countries, Turkey as well.
[14:30:05] And I just think, we shouldn't cower to people whose views we disagree with, particularly if they're close mates. I wouldn't dream of
being scared to express to my best friend, my views about something he or she was doing that I disagree with.
Similarly, I don't understand why our prime minister and others across the world are afraid to say to President Trump, you know what, we agree with
you on many, many things, but we think you're wrong on this, this is why we think you're wrong. And I think it's important more of us are courageous.
AMANPOUR: Mayor Sadiq Khan, thank you very much indeed.
And that is it for our program on President Trump's controversial first visit to the UK. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.