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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
May seeks Further Brexit Delay; Trump Meeting NATO Secretary General At White House; Trump: I'll Close The Border If No Deal With Congress; Trump: Wish Mueller Report Covered Probe's Origins; Trump: "No Amount" Of Documents Would Satisfy Dems; Trump Lashes Out As Democrats Demand Mueller Report; W.H. Official: "Anyone's Guess" If Trump Will Close Border. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 2, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. We're following two moving stories for you tonight. Theresa May says
she'll seek to delay Brexit again as she reaches out to the opposition leader to break the deadlock. Also this hour, NATO secretary general is
meeting the alliance's biggest critic as he arrives at the White House. We'll have the latest on the meeting between Donald Trump and Jen
We begin here in the U.K. with the very latest, the Prime Minister Theresa May, has just announced she is going to ask for another delay to Brexit.
It comes as she attempts to find a way through the Brexit deadlock currently paralyzing the U.K. political system. She also offered to sit
down with the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, to try to find a forward to unify the country but said any plan will have to include her
withdrawal deal, that same deal that's been rejected already three times by parliament. It comes after the prime minister spent the day locked in
marathon talks with her cabinet. Here's what the prime minister said just a few moments ago.
U.K. PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: I've just come from chairing seven hours of cabinet meetings focused on finding a route out of the current impasse,
one that will deliver the Brexit the British people voted for, and allow us to move on and begin bringing our divided country back together.
I know there are some who are so fed up with delay and endless arguments, that they would like to leave with no deal next week. I've always been
clear that we could make a success of a no deal in long term, but leaving with a deal is the best solution. So we will need a further extension of
Article 50, one that is as short as possible and one that ends when we pass a deal.
And we need to be clear what such an extension is for, to ensure we live in a timely and orderly way. This debate, this division, cannot drag on much
longer. It is putting members of parliament and everyone else under immense pressure and it is doing damage to our politics.
Despite the best efforts of MPs, the process at the House of Commons has tried to lead, has not come up with a chance. So today I am taking action
to break the log jam. I'm offering to sit down with the leader of the opposition and try to agree a plan that we would both stick to, to ensure
we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal.
Any plan would have to agree the current withdrawal agreement. It is already been negotiated with the 27 other members and the E.U. has
repeatedly said that it cannot and will not be reopened. What we need to focus on is our future relationship with the E.U. The ideal outcome of
this process would be to agree on an approach to a future relationship that delivers on the result of the referendum, that both the leader of the
opposition and I could put to the house for approval and which I could take to the European Council.
If we cannot agree on a single unified approach, then we would instead agree a number of options for the future relationship that we could put to
the house in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue. Crucially, the government stands ready to abide by the decision of the
House, but to make this process work; the opposition would need to agree to this too.
The government would then bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill. We would want to agree a time table for this bill to ensure it is passed
before the 22nd of May so the United Kingdom need not take part in elections.
This is a difficult time for everyone. Passions are running high on all sides of the argument. But we can and must find the compromises that will
deliver what the British people voted for. This is a divisive moment in the story of these islands and it requires national unity to deliver the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's does these developments, (inaudible) are reporter is here with me, and conservative MP James Heappey also with us. First of all,
this you told me while we were airing the Theresa May statement was not what you were expecting. Why not?
JAMES HEAPPEY: This wasn't what I was expecting at all, actually.
I'm very surprised at the outcome of the long cabinet meeting today is an attempt to bring Jeremy Corbyn in and quite possibly to ignore the position
taken by 200-plus conservative MPs in indicatives votes last night. And I'm rather surprised -
GORANI: But none of the proposals passed yesterday.
HEAPPEY: No. None of the proposals passed yesterday. But as a - there were two things that matter, I think, for the prime minister in calibrating
her position. What is the mood of parliament, but also what is the mood of the conservative parliamentary party? And I think that she's gone off in
the wrong direction on that this evening.
GORANI: What could she have done today that would've satisfied conservative MPs? She's reaching across the aisle. In the U.S., you call
it bipartisan. Here, you call it cross-party. A lot of her critics from the beginning said that's what she should have done two years ago. She's
doing it now. Why is that an issue?
HEAPPEY: Because I think - why it's an issue is because what it means. What it means almost certainly is that we will start to look very seriously
at our (ph) customs union, and I think if you represent a constituency like I do that is leave voting, and I say this to someone who voted, remain
GORANI: Yes, yes.
HEAPPEY: I know that I will no longer be meeting the instruction given to me by my constituents when they sent me to Westminster to represent them.
GORANI: Now, James Heappey is saying his constituents might be unhappy with what happened at that cabinet meeting and certainly with Theresa May's
statement. However, the custom's union is the one proposal that parliament is -
NOBILO: Edging towards.
GORANI: It's the one that's losing by the least number of votes when it's presented to MPs. Is that likely to stick?
NOBILO: Well, we're likely to see another round of indicative votes on Monday, I believe, as well as parliament pressing ahead with that Cooper's
bill to try and ensure no deal is ruled out legally because parliament has expressed its will on several occasions, opposing a no-deal.
But they want to see it laid down in law that the prime minister wouldn't be able to allow the country to crash off of a cliff, as she might put it.
But the prime minister is in an incredibly difficult position because this is a - it feels like nothing less than an existential issue for the
And James might be too polite to say some of them, but I've spoken to some of his colleagues in the last couple of minutes and they've said things
like, this simply prolongs the indecision. No one's happy. She's damaging our reputation for competence. This is exactly why we tried to -
GORANI: Well, what other option -
NOBILO: - remove her at Christmas.
GORANI: What other option does she have? Either she tries to find a compromise or this country leaves the EU without a deal. You would be in
favor of that, despite the fact that so many experts said this is a catastrophic move for the U.K.?
HEAPPEY: Well, look. I think that there are two very severe consequences from the Brexit process. One is that there's an economic consequence of no
deal. Now, I know that some of my sort of hard Brexiteer (ph) colleagues would question that. They see it as some sort of Elysium field in to which
they can skip. I don't agree. I think there's an economic consequence. Of course, there is.
But the social and Democratic cost of ignoring the referendum result and anything softer than the prime minister's deal will be regarded as such is
equally profound. And people are too quick to ignore the latter. I would argue that an economic consequence is something that government at least
has a chance of trying to mitigate. But the total catastrophic collapse of trust in our Democracy is something no government can really legislate for
or set a budget for, and that's what we should be worried ability.
GORANI: Isn't the customs union a betrayal of the British voter of 2016?
NOBILO: In the way that the prime minister interprets the (inaudible) set out in the manifesto in 2017.
GORANI: But I - it doesn't to me why, because when the referendum took place, there was never of promise explicitly stated of leaving the customs
HEAPPEY: So lots of people - lots of people say that, you know, when people voted Brexit, they weren't voting for this, they weren't voting for
that. On that day in June 2016, that's perfectly true. So (Inaudible). But those ideas were fleshed out in our manifestos and there were things
that we expressively said we would not do, and a customs union and a single market is one of the things that we expressively said we wouldn't.
GORANI: I get that. But it was in the Tory manifesto. This was not a question posed to voters in 2016. Either way, we're not re-litigating
2016. But what's important is to look forward and see what is feasible for this country, going forward. Do you think Corbyn will meet with Prime
Minister May and that there'll be some sort of consensus position that they can take to Europe?
NOBILO: First of all, our sources suggest that he was unaware that this offer - that this statement was going to be made of which he'll be such a
significant part. The Labor Party have been pursuing something of Schrodinger's Brexit policy where they need to appeal to both leave and
remain voters, similar splits to the prime minster but obviously less under the microscope because they're not the party in power.
It will be interesting to see how Corbyn responds, but the shift that we can say definitely happened today is the prime minister who is famously
difficult to read, if you speak to anybody that's worked with her directly or members of her party, has also been unclear as to whether or not she
thought that the highest good would be delivering on the referendum result and making sure that that democratic exercise was respected, or protecting
the country against the economic shocks and uncertainties of a no deal.
What we saw today is that, and I don't know if James would agree, I that the prime minister is firmly placing herself on the side of wanting to come
to a consensus, wanting to avoid a no deal, and that's where she stands which is what has been expected for so long.
GORANI: Last one, James Heappey, there is this cross-party effort to try to avoid no deal by legislating to avoid it. Will this work? Do you think
this will get the support of parliamentarians? Because that's the only one that gets the majority every time the question is asked is, let's reject no
HEAPPEY: So who knows what's going to get the support of parliamentarians. But the E.U. has been clear that an extension of what any idea of what it's
for won't happen. And that's clearly what and why the legislation is for. I think Bianca made a good point there and it's worth saying, Jeremy Corbyn
has been trying to shift the Labour Party position as often as possible in order to create as much chaos as possible. So at least insisting that he
now be part of the solution, stops him from doing that.
And if we end up in a position, and I'm not sure this is where we will end up, but if we did, where we ended up with a series of indicative votes,
where instead of being able to vote for everything and anything, you had to rank them in order, so you can have a (inaudible) system, from which
parliament eventually expresses an opinion, then maybe the boss gets the last laughed. But I'm not convinced we get to get to that point.
GORANI: You still think the prime minister's deal should be put forth again, fourth time?
HEAPPEY: You chose to use the metric of which who got the bigger majority against it. Surely the...
GORANI: This is the only way we can actually assess which...
HEAPPEY: ...absolute top scorer, and a deal remains the most popular option.
GORANI: So far everything is losing. That's all I can...
HEAPPEY: That's true.
GORANI: James Heappey, conservative MP, thank you so much for joining us on CNN. Bianca, we'll see you again soon. Thank you.
So how will the E.U. react to Theresa May's request for a further extension. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels for us tonight. We've heard
from Donald Tusk, I believe?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. Let me pull up his tweet, Hala, just shortly after Theresa May made her statement, the president of the European
council tweeted out the following saying quote, "Even if after today we don't know what the end result will be, let us be patient. #Brexit."
But I've been having conversations here with diplomatic sources in Brussels who seem to be less forgiving than Donald Tusk, saying this crosses an E.U.
crimson red line, Theresa May, what she's laid out, essentially calls for an extension beyond that April 12th deadline that would not include the
U.K.'s participation in European parliamentary elections.
And I was speaking to one diplomat who expressed his concern, should the E.U. grants a short term extension until May 22nd, which is the eve before
the European Parliamentary elections and this process fail, then suddenly, on the eve of critical elections that are set to determine the next five
years of the European project, the course of the project, they're looking at a potential disaster on their hands, that's not going to be a welcome
proposal to the E.U. 27 when they meet here in Brussels for an extraordinary summit next week.
If this is what Prime Minister May puts forward on the table at that time, we can expect, I think, a negative reaction based on the conversations I've
been having with diplomats here in Brussels.
GORANI: But the E.U. does not want a no deal. Even (inaudible) today said, we're not out for revenge here, we too want to avoid this outcome.
There has to be a realization on their part that even though we get it, this is a negotiation, they're playing hardball to the very end, they must
know they need to give the U.K. an extension without some sort of explicit plan of hold another election or organize another referendum, otherwise
they could leave without a deal and then it is bad for everybody, including the E.U.
MCLAUGHLIN: It would be bad for everyone, and in the E.U.'s mind, this entire process is about damage control. And we're hearing different things
from different member states with respect to a potential long-term extension. We heard from Emmanuel Macron, the French president today say
he wants to see a parliamentary majority for something in order to grant that extension.
But the general gist I'm getting from these conversations I'm having with E.U. officials, senior E.U. officials, diplomats from different member
states, is the red line in this process are those parliamentary elections.
If the U.K. does not want to put forward candidates, does not want to participate in those elections, that is problematic, because again, if this
fails, say on the eve of those elections, and suddenly the U.K. finds itself in a position of not having participated, the entire European Union,
parliamentary institutions, the commission itself could end up being legally challenged in court.
And that essentially is a non-starter for those in power here in Brussels. So again, everyone here wants to avoid a no-deal but the question becomes,
at what price? And the answer I'm consistently finding, based on all the conversations I'm having, they do not want to sacrifice or harm EU
institutions in the process of Brexit.
GORANI: All right. Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Thanks very much. We'll revisit that story a little bit later. With the breaking news in the last
hour that theresa may is due to ask the eu for another extension to Brexit. It's a busy day for the U.S. President, Donald Trump, right now in the
White House he's meeting with the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg
There could be a little bit of tension. This is the same NATO that Mr. Trump has criticized over and over and over again, accusing other countries
of not paying their way. Let's look into this a bit more, and also why the president seems more and more reluctant to release - or to support the
release of the full Mueller report. I'm joined by CNN national security analyst, Carrie Cordero, and CNN political analyst, Molly Ball.
Carrie Cordero, let's talk a little bit about the president. And interesting that NATO is celebrating its 70th anniversary in Washington.
There has to be some level of awkwardness, right? The president has said that many NATO members don't pay their full share, he's threatened to pull
the U.S. out of NATO, threatening to bill countries who don't spend their fair share on defense. What is he likely to get out of hosting Jens
Stoltenberg at this stage?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's important that he's hosting him today and also it's notable that the secretary
general will be appearing before the U.S. Congress tomorrow in open session, and he'll be able to address them then. This president's foreign
policy significantly challenges international agreements generally.
And so his challenging of NATO and the statements that he makes about NATO do seem to be consistent with his general approach to questioning U.S.
participation in international agreements and alliances. So it's consistent in that sense. NATO, of course, is a central part of American
foreign policy and defense.
And so the secretary general's appearance before Congress tomorrow will be important in terms of demonstrating that there is American support for
NATO, even if the president makes these types of statements from time to time.
GORANI: And Molly, without getting into the specifics there of the relationship between the U.S. and NATO that's been tense to say the least
over the last couple of years, this is an issue that Donald Trump can use to appeal to his base, right, the suspicion of international organizations,
of multilateralism, of globalism as well?
MOLLY BALL, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was a theme of his campaign, the America first of foreign policy, which, in practice,
has been a bit garbled, right. In some places he has pulled out of or been highly critical of institutions that have had a long tradition of
bipartisan support in this country, such as NATO.
He hasn't pulled out of NATO, something that sometimes, during the campaign at least, talked about potentially doing and something that I think he
would really face a bipartisan rebellion in the Congress and elsewhere if he were to actually do. He also hasn't pulled out of NAFTA, but he pulled
out of the TPP deal, and the Iran deal, and the nuclear agreement with - with Russia. So in some cases he has followed through on those threats and
in some cases he hasn't.
And so, I think you can question whether he's been completely consistent in his approach. But I think you can also draw that line that's been so
frequently drawn between the Trump campaign and Brexit, where there was a large mass of voters who were specific - who were, excuse me, suspicious of
these big, far away, international institutions that they didn't feel like were doing anything for them personally. And it was that sense of sort of
grass roots discontent that - that I think was a very important political asset to Trump and continues to be.
GORANI: And Carrie, Jens Stoltenberg is addressing Congress tomorrow, as you mentioned, and I think he knows - I mean I've interviewed him a few
times. We're interviewing him again tomorrow - that it would be a mistake, strategically, to get on Donald Trump's bad side.
His strategy, it seems to me, has been to appeal to him, to commit (ph) on his turf in this particular instance, to try to sort of calm his, you know,
or quiet his impulses, perhaps, to do something rush regarding NATO.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Sure, that probably would be the wise approach in his address tomorrow. There have been pieces
of legislation that have been introduced in the U.S. Congress expressing support for NATO both in the House and there's a proposal in the Senate as
well. So there is support for NATO in the U.S. Congress certainly and in the public.
What's one of the strategic challenges for NATO will be to demonstrate even though there is this historical alliance and it has this incredible
historical relevance, what is the modern NATO and how does that relate to American security and American foreign policy in the future. And I think
the more that the Secretary General can articulate that vision for the future for modern NATO, it will help with the U.S. relationship.
GORANI: We'll see what he has to say. Let me ask you, Molly, about the Mueller report and the President sounding more and more reluctant to
support the release of the full report. His Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about that and here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President hasn't been briefed on the report. The President still allowing the Attorney General
to make that decision. But we know by the actions that we've seen from that Nadler and other Democrats in Congress is that the President's right.
They will never be satisfied. They're sore losers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So what do you make of that Molly? Because initially when the four-page Barr summary came out, it sounded like the President was pretty
enthusiastic about the idea of the American citizens seeing the full thing and now not so much?
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think that the thinking has changed so much as he just feels that the summary is about the best that he
is going to get. He has declared it a full exoneration that is a falsehood. It literally says it is not an exoneration. But he has tried
to turn this to his political advantage by claiming to have been vindicated.
And I think Sarah Sanders is being accurate there that the White House has not seen the full Mueller report. It doesn't know what's in there. And
therefore is somewhat weary of what information there might be that could counter that narrative that they are trying to create that broad-brush
narrative that he has been vindicated. This is something he wants to use as a political talking point.
I will say, however, that if the strategy were to take the vindication and move on, that isn't something he's really capable of doing. This is a
President who holds grudges and doesn't let go of things. So it's not that he's going to drop the subject and say, we've put that behind us, let's get
on with other things. He is going to keep bringing it up.
We see him keep bringing it up in a political context. And part of that I think is because his political brand is so much about that sense of
resentment toward institutions and toward elites and toward what he's termed the deep state.
GORANI: And we're waiting, by the way, for footage from the White House of the President hosting Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General.
Molly, a quick one to you regarding the Mueller report. Did you find it surprising that in the latest tracking polls, the President did not get a
bump in his favorability ratings after the release of that Barr summary? I mean, should he have been politically -- should he have gotten a political
bump from that, do you think?
BALL: I think if the report had been more clear-cut, if it had been an actual exoneration, you might have seen him get a bump from -- you know,
having sat in on focus groups of voters in the middle who are trying to figure out what to make of the whole investigation who found it very
confusing, who wanted there to be a neat ending on it that sort of ties it all in a bow, nobody got that in the Barr summary. There was something for
either side to feel suspicious ever to satisfy by.
So particularly if you're a member of the public who's already gotten opinion about the President, you didn't necessarily get anything to change
your mind in this -- the Barr summary that essentially said on the one hand, on the other hand. So perhaps if it had been very black and white,
GORANI: Yes, but the President's messaging was unequivocal. I mean, the President and his supporters essentially they use that as political
messaging to say that you've been exonerated. So for his supporters or people on his side of the political -- or his end of the political
spectrum, this would have been an exoneration.
BALL: But those people already support him. So his support number isn't going to go up if they continue to support him.
GORANI: Or people on the fence, people in the middle of somewhere, or people who may have thought perhaps that there was something there, but now
they believe perhaps this whole thing was, in fact, a report that let him off the hook in many ways. That there's no proof of collusion.
[14:25:07] BALL: Well, it's clear that those people in the middle weren't persuaded one way or the other. The numbers didn't move. And I think
you're exactly right. Those people in the middle didn't believe the President's message, didn't believe the messaging of the President's allies
that this cleared him, either that or it just wasn't important to them. I think this investigation is something that feels quite remote from people's
lives and they may be judging the President principally on other issues.
GORANI: Thanks very much Molly Ball and Carrie Cordero for joining us there with the very latest analysis on the President hosting Jens
Stoltenberg and also what he's been saying about the release of that report.
And there's also another angle there to what's going on in Washington which is what's happening at the border because the President has threatened and
still threatening to close the border. He did answer a few questions, I understand, in the White House about this. We don't have that tape yet.
When we do, we'll air it for you.
But let's take you in the meantime to McAllen, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border. Rosa Flores joins us now live. What do we understand the
President has said about this threat to seal the border between the U.S. and Mexico, Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we're getting some notes from our producers that are there and in essence, it's President Trump shifting the
blame from Mexico now to Congress saying that it's up to Congress to do something or that it is 100 percent, he says, that the border will close.
Now, those are some serious words because as you know, we've been covering this issue -- closing a border is not as simple and as trivial as President
Trump makes it seem. We're talking about the lives of pretty much every American in the United States and it affects Mexicans as well. The produce
(ph) that comes through this border is astronomical.
Just a bridge that's probably a few miles to my right, 30 percent of the produce (ph) that's imported from Mexico into the United States comes
through that bridge. So this would affect every American, the avocados that they eat, and they buy at the grocery store, the tomatoes, first of
all they get a little bit expensive, and then they'd be out of tomatoes completely. So that is, you know, some of the potential repercussions that
we're talking about here.
And then there's the human toll, Hala, you see all these people coming back and forth into Mexico. I grew up here. You go to Mexico to go buy
tortillas and then you come and eat them in the United States. You buy avocados there and you eat them here in the United States. You have a
dentist appointment, you go to the dentist in Mexico and then come back.
Imagine closing a border. There would be Mexicans stuck in the United States and there would be U.S. citizens stuck in Mexico. So it would just
create this avalanche of problems and that's just a few of the things that would happen. I mean, I can go on and on, Hala.
GORANI: Rosa Flores, thanks very much. Certainly, it would change the lives of ordinary people on either side of that border. Rosa Flores there
And Rosa was just mentioning that we're hearing from our producers that the White House and the President is, as we mentioned, hosting the Jens
Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General. But he was asked specifically about this border issue and his reply was, if we don't make a deal with
Congress, the border is going to be closed 100 percent. When we get that footage back to us from the White House, we'll air it for you.
Still to come tonight, he was fired by Donald Trump who said he wanted to take care of this Russia thing. Now Former FBI Director James Comey speaks
to Christiane Amanpour about the Mueller report and more. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, when I came, it wasn't so good, and now it's -- they're catching up. We have 7 of the 28
countries are currently current and the rest are trying to catch up, and they will catch up. And some of them have no problems because they haven't
been paying and they're very rich.
But we're looking at the 2 percent of GDP level. And at some point, I think it's going to have to go higher than that. I think probably it
should be higher. But we're a level of 7 out of the 28.
The United States pays for a very big share of NATO, a disproportionate share. But the relationship with NATO has been very good. The
relationship with the Secretary General has been outstanding. And I think tremendous progress has been made.
[14:30:00] If you look -- in fact, you should have this originally yourself. If you look at the charts and the different things, you go back
10 and 15 years and it's a rollercoaster ride down in terms of payment. And since I came to office, it's a rocket ship up. We've picked up over
$140 billion of additional money and we look like we're going to have, at least, another hundred billion more in spending by the nations, the 28
nations, we're going to have -- and that's exclusive of the United States. We'll have another hundred million dollars more by 2020 or a little bit
into 2020. But tremendous progress has been made and NATO is much stronger because of that progress. And, Mr. Secretary General, it's a great honor
to have you with us at the White House. Thank you very much.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you so much, Mr. President. And, once again, thank you for hosting me and my delegation
once again in the White House. And it's great to be back. Great to see you. And thank you for your strong commitment to NATO, to our alliance and
to our trans-Atlantic bond. And especially for your very strong leadership on burden sharing, because as you just mentioned after years of cutting
defense budgets, NATO allies are now started to invest more.
And by the end of next year, they will add hundred billion more into their defense budget (INAUDIBLE) and that helps. And it shows also that NATO is
a strong alliance. So we have increased the (INAUDIBLE) forces. We have stepped up in our joint to fight against terrorism. And we are investing
So actually North America, United States, and Europe, we are doing more together now than have done for many, many years. And that shows the
strength for this alliance. In the year, we're actually celebrating the 70th anniversary of NATO. So it's great to see you. I look forward to our
meeting and thank you for your support.
TRUMP: Thank you, and it has been an honor. And we're very proud of what's happened over the last couple of years with respect to the
relationship and to NATO. A lot of the media doesn't understand what took place, but a tremendous amount of additional money was invested by other
nations which was a fair from the United States -- from our standpoint, the standpoint of the United States and a lot more money will be invested. But
we've been picking up a tremendous and disproportionate share. And we just want fairness. I have that fairness for our taxpayer too. And I think
that's what's happening. And I very much appreciate it. Thank you very much. Thank you all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is it -- is it your intention, sir, to close the border this weekend? What would it take to not close the border?
TRUMP: Well, I haven't made that intention known. And I'm ready to close it if I have to close it. Mexico, as you know as of yesterday, has been
starting to apprehend a lot of people at their southern border coming in from Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador. And they're really
apprehending thousands of people and it's the first really in decades that this has taken place and they should have taken place a long time ago.
You know, Mexico has the strongest immigration laws in the world. There's nobody as stronger. I guess some happy to say, but you can't get any
stronger than what Mexico has. And we don't want people coming up making that very dangerous journey and coming in.
Our system is absolutely maxed out. And border patrol has done an incredible job, but the system is absolutely maxed out. And it's a very
So Mexico has -- as of yesterday, made a big difference. You'll see that because few people, if any are coming up and they say they're going to stop
them. Let's see. They have the power to stop them. They have the laws to top them. And what we have to do is Congress has to meet quickly and make
a deal. I could do it in 45 minutes.
We need to get rid of chain migration, we need to get rid of catch and release and visa lottery. And we have to do something about asylum. And
to be honest with you, I have to get rid of judges. Every time -- and you wouldn't even believe this, Mr. Secretary General, you catch somebody
that's coming illegally into your country and they bring them to a court. But we can't bring them to a court because you could never have that many
So they take their name, they take their information, and they release them. Now, we don't release too many, we keep them. It's called catch and
keep. But you don't have facilities for them. But you have to bring them to a court system, if they touch your land, one foot on your land, welcome
to being Perry Mason, you now have a big trial.
So what they've done over the years is they release them into the United States and they say come back in four years for a trial, and nobody comes
back. I guess one percent -- one to two percent on average come back and nobody can understand why they come back. They're the only ones who come
[14:35:07] It is the worst, dumbest immigration system in the world. The Democrats can change it with one meeting, everybody would agree, but they
don't want to change it because they don't want to give the Republicans a victory. They don't want to change it because they want open borders which
means crime and lots of other things coming in, including drugs.
So we'll see what happens. I think the Democrats, today, I spoke to a couple of them, and they all of a sudden, they're changing, because they're
seeing it really as a crisis. It is a national emergency on the border. And let's see if they can do it. But I want to thank -- it's a very short
period of time. Because for years, it should have been done. But Mexico is now stopping people coming. Very easy for them to do stopping coming in
through Mexico. Let's see if they keep it done.
If they keep doing that -- now, if they don't -- or if we don't make a deal with Congress, the border is going to be closed, 100 percent. And this
should have been done by other presidents. So many things should have been done by other presidents. But if we don't make a deal with Congress, or if
Mexico and probably even say and/or, if Mexico doesn't do what they should be doing -- they shouldn't let people coming in to their country. This is
their southern border that they have to protect, then we're going to close the border and that's going to be it. Or we're going to close large
sections of the border, maybe not all of it.
But it's the only way we're getting a response and I'm totally ready to do it. And I will say this, many people want me to do it. Because we're
being abused by a bad legal system that was put in by Democrats and that has to be changed. And it can be changed in 45 minutes if they want to
change it. Let's see what they do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question on the U.S. economy by closing the border.
TRUMP: Sure. It's going to have a negative impact on the economy. It's one of the biggest trade deals in the world that we've just done with the
USMCA. It's a very big trading partner.
But to me, trading is very important, the borders are very important, but security is what is most important. I mean, you have to have security.
This is what this gentleman is all about to my right. And we're going to have security in this country. That's more important than trading.
Hey, all you hear me talking about is trade. But let me just give you a little secret, security is more important to me than trade. So we're going
to have a strong border, or we're going to have a closed border. And, you know, when we close that border, we will stop hundreds of millions of
dollars of drugs from coming in because tremendous amounts of drugs come through our southern border. And so that's one of the benefits.
So I'm totally prepared to do it. We're going to see what happens over the next few days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- doing enough to keep you from committing to closing the border from what all of that --
TRUMP: Well, they've made a big step over the last two days. They are apprehending people. You see how many they are, a lot. It's a lot of
people. And the fact that they're doing that means fewer people are going to come. But, you know, we pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Honduras
and Guatemala and El Salvador as a combination and what do they do? They don't do anything for us. They're supposed to be money well spent. I
understand the reason for it. But that money doesn't get there.
So we're giving hundreds of millions of dollars to these three countries and the money is not going to where it's supposed to be going, number one.
Number two, they're taking advantage of the United States and they have been for many years. So I cut off the payments yesterday. I know what the
payments are supposed to be for. They're supposed to be to help so that -- they don't have that problem. The money is gone, it's not spent properly.
And they arrange -- the thing that bothers me more than anything, they arrange these caravans. And they don't put their best people in those
caravans. They put people in there that you don't want to have in the United States and we're not going to have them in the United States. It's
very simple. It's very, very simple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you happy with Stoltenberg as the leader of NATO?
TRUMP: Say what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you happy with Stoltenberg, the leader of NATO?
TRUMP: I think he's been a terrific leader. And I can just say during my time. So it's already amazing, two and a half years. But we got along
really well and he made his first statement of that was -- we had our first meeting and I think I got them to put up the other countries, respectful 27
countries, put up the other 27, $64 billion. 64 billion. That's a lot of money.
And he went out and said, what a great job he did. A lot of people don't like giving credit. Like the media now that gives me credit, but he gave
[14:40:05] Now, we're up to way over a hundred billion and it's going to be a lot higher than that by the end of 2020. But I appreciate the job he's
done. He's done an excellent job. And when it came time to renew, because a lot of people wanted that job. It's a great job, I guess. But a lot of
people wanted it. But I had no doubt in my mind who I wanted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) U.S. out of NATO?
TRUMP: People are paying and I'm very happy with the fact that they're paying. Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of security threat does Russia poses to NATO?
TRUMP: I don't -- I hope that it's not going to be a security threat. I hope we have a good relationship with Russia. And by the way, China and
everybody else. But I think the fact that we have NATO and NATO is a lot stronger since I've been president. Would you say that's correct? We're
making a lot more money and --
STOLTENBERG: (INAUDIBLE) investing more and that's what with the new capabilities we need to maintain (INAUDIBLE) for all major countries.
TRUMP: But I think we'll get along with Russia. I do believe that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President -- Mr. President -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you pushing a vote on a health care (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: Because I think we're going to have a great healthcare package. I think the Republican Party will become the party of health care. I see
what the Democrats are doing. It's a disaster what they're planning and everyone knows it. You're going to lose 180 million people under private
insurance. And I think really very important, Obamacare has been such a catastrophe because it's far too expensive. It costs the people so much.
They can't afford it. And, of course, the premiums are very high, $7,000 to $8,000 on average.
So you have to spend over $8,000 before you even hit. So Obamacare has been this. So if we get back the House and on the assumption we keep the
Senate, and we keep the presidency, which I hope are two good assumptions, we're going to have a phenomenal health care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what do you think NATO has accomplished (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: No, I wanted to delay of myself. I want to put it after the election. Because we don't have the House. So even though the health care
is good, really good, it's much better than when the plan comes out, which we'll be showing you at the appropriate time, it's much better than
Obamacare. So when the plan comes out, you'll see it. It's possible the Democrats would want to do it. I mean, it's much better for the people.
But I'm assuming they won't because the Democrats never do anything that necessarily is going to be anything other than political. So what happens
is we'll go through the election. We have a very good chance of retaking the House, and we have a very good chance of keeping the Senate, and I
think we will keep the Senate. And I think we're going to keep the presidency and we'll vote in the best health care package we've ever had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President (INAUDIBLE) NATO has accomplished in seven years?
TRUMP: I think many things they've accomplished, but I think they also really stand for a signal of truth and of strength. And we have a great
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to talk about Germany today? So the news --
TRUMP: I'll be talking about Germany. I always talk about Germany, I mean, honestly, Germany is not paying their fair share. I have great
respect for Angela and I have great respect for the country. My father is German, right? I was German. And born in a very wonderful place in
Germany. And so I have a great feeling for Germany.
But they're not paying what they should be paying. They're paying close to one percent. And they're supposed to be paying two percent. And the
United States, over the years, got to a point where it's paying 4.3 percent which is very unfair.
And the U.S. GDP, especially under me, because the GDP has gone up so much, because it's 4.3 of a much larger GDP. So we're paying for a big
proportion of NATO which basically is protecting Europe. So we're protecting Europe. At the same time, they've taken advantage of us on
trade. So we have the best of all worlds. We're protecting countries that have taken advantage of the United States affair.
But it's all changing. It'll take a little while, but it's all changing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, there is going to be a vote in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, whether or not to authorize subpoenas to
demand un-redacted version of the Mueller report and all of the background materials that they do vote out the authorities or subpoenas, will the
White House fight it?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's ridiculous. We went through two years of the Mueller investigation. We have -- I mean, not only that, you read the
wording, it was proven. Who could go through that and get wording where it was no collusion, no nothing? So there's no collusion, the attorney
general now and the deputy attorney general ruled no obstruction. They said no obstruction. And so there's no collusion, there's no obstruction,
and now we're going to start this process all over again? I think it's a disgrace.
[14:45:02] These are just Democrats that want to try and demean this country. And it shouldn't be allowed. And I'll totally live by what the
attorney general -- I have great respect for the attorney general. I live by what he said.
But I will tell you this, nothing you give them, whether it's Shifty Schiff or Jerry Nadler, who I've known he's been fighting me for half of my life
in Manhattan, and I was very successful. Thank you. But Nadler has been fighting me for years and years in Manhattan, not successfully.
I will tell you, anything we give them will never be enough. We could give them -- it's a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages and it
wouldn't be enough. They'll always come back and say it's not enough, it's not enough. This thing has gone on for two years and really it started
long before that. It practically started from the time I came down the escalator because this was a whole -- this was a whole plot, whether if you
want to use the insurance policy as a time frame, this was an insurance policy, just in case she, Hillary Clinton, loses. Well, she lost, and she
This has been going on for years. Now they want to keep it going on? We had the -- they spent over $30 million on an investigation. They found no
collusion which, by the way, was the most ridiculous premise I've ever heard of anyway. And you understand exactly what I mean, no collusion.
There was no collusion. There never was.
After $30 million, we're going to start this process again because Jerry Nadler wants to start it or because Schiff wants to start it? I'll rely on
the attorney general to make decisions.
But I will tell you, anything that's given to them will never be good enough. You could give them more documents than they've ever seen and it
would never be good enough. So I think it's somewhat of a waste of time. This is politics at a very low level.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the fact that comes from Nadler who opposed to release the Starr report in 1998?
TRUMP: Well, that's a good thing. It's very nice that you bring that up. The fact is that Jerry Nadler was on the opposite side of this and he
thought it was a disgusting, terrible thing to even think about giving the Starr report, but now we should give the Mueller report.
And actually, the Mueller report is actually much tighter. Because the Starr report went to Congress. The Mueller report goes to the attorney
general. So there's a big difference. They've made that because the Starr report got out of control with respect to going to Congress, because I
guess lots of people had it that maybe shouldn't have had it. And did bad things with it.
So now, they limited it to the attorney general. And they did that specifically for that reason. So Jerry Nadler thought the concept of
giving the Starr report was absolutely something you could never do, but when it comes to the Mueller report, which is different on our side, that
would be something that he should get. It's hypocrisy and it's a disgrace.
I will say this, look, there was no collusion. There was no obstruction. They were very disappointed. I don't know what they were thinking, because
they all know. I guarantee you, they go into a room between Nadler, Schiff and the group, and they laugh like hell at how they've kept this thing
going for two years. They laugh like hell.
And I hope that this investigation now which is finished, it's totally finished, no collusion, no obstruction. I hope they now go and take a look
at the Oranges of the Investigation, the beginnings of that investigation. You look at the origin of the investigation, where it started, how it
started, who started it, whether it's McCabe, or Comey, or a lot of them? Where does it go? How high up in the White House did it go? You will all
get Pulitzer Prizes, OK? You're all going to get Pulitzer Prizes.
You should have looked at it a long time ago. And that's the only thing that's disappointing to me about the Mueller report. The Mueller report, I
wish covered the origins of how it started. The beginnings of the investigation, how it started. I didn't cover that. And for some reason,
none of that was discussed.
Now, if you look at the I.G. report, it's very serious. Now, we have another I.G. report coming out, hopefully, very soon. And I think you're
going to learn a lot. But you should look at the beginnings and where it started. The whole situation because this has been a very, very bad thing
for our country. The question was asked before about Russia, about Germany, about all of the different things that you and I discuss so often.
This has been a very bad things for the United States. It's been a total waste of time.
But what hasn't been a waste of time is some very bad people started something that should have never been started. And I hope that's going to
continue forward. Because people did things that were very, very bad for our country and very, very illegal. And you could even say treasonous.
[14:50:14] Thank you very much, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, guys. We got to go. Guys, come on. Thanks. Hey, guys, we're done. Thanks so much.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Stephen Collinson, our White House reporter joins me now from Washington. So the U.S. president there hosting
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, talked about a lot of things that weren't necessarily related to NATO, or in fact, not related at
He talked about the border. He acknowledged that closing the southern border would harm the economy. He promised that his party, the GOP, would
be the party of health care, criticized Obamacare, once again. And also addressed the Mueller report.
Let's first, Stephen, talk a little bit about what he said about NATO. And Jens Stoltenberg, over the years, had been his strategy from the beginning
has been to be non-adversarial with Donald Trump. And Donald Trump, twice said, it was an honor to host the NATO secretary general and that things
have been going well and that countries have increased their defense spending. It seems his strategy has worked with regards to the U.S.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Certainly, and there were a lot of fears, especially at the beginning of Donald Trump's administration
that he could do something quite, you know, outrageous even try to pull the United States out of NATO. So the strategy has been to appease him.
Stoltenberg has let Trump claim that all of the increases in NATO defense spending are down to the president. It's true to say that President Trump
has had more success than some previous U.S. presidents enforcing European countries to spend more. But there were agreements in place well before
the Trump administration whereby NATO members pledged to reach that two percent of GDP target.
Stoltenberg also never corrects Trump. Trump talks about NATO as if everybody is paying into a club and the U.S. is paying most of the dues.
But, of course, the question is, are countries spending enough on their own defense to make them, you know, solid NATO partners?
One final thing about NATO, of course, is it's quite, you know, shocking that it should be news that on -- you know, a big anniversary of NATO, the
president of the United States, the most powerful person in NATO and in the west is backing NATO. At any time, over the last 70 years, that would
never be in question.
GORANI: Sure. Absolutely. But he has said -- he seems a lot more well- disposed with regards to NATO which is kind of interesting. So he did address the U.S. president, the Mueller report. James Comey was
interviewed by Christiane Amanpour about an hour and a half ago. She did ask him about the four-page summary that the Attorney General Barr issued
after having read the several hundred page report. Here's what he answered to that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I think what we have to do is just keep an open mind and wait for the details. The attorney general has to not
only share details with the American people of the case, but show us his work. Why did you make the decisions you made? Why did you handle it the
way that you did? I'm confident he understands that.
He is an institutionalist. He loves the Department of Justice. The only thing he has to lose, at this point in his career, is his reputation. I
think he deserves the benefit of the doubt and us, uncharacteristically, showing some patience to give him a chance to show us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. And the president was asked about releasing the full Mueller report. What did he say?
COLLINSON: Well, the president is angry that Democrats are trying to subpoena the report, to get it more quickly than Attorney General Barr says
is the case. Barr is trying to redact certain elements of intelligence and grand jury testimony. He said Democrats can have this by mid-April.
Democrats want it this week.
Now, I think what you're seeing is the White House has almost moved on from this initial stage of celebration. Trump sees himself completely
vindicated by this report. You can see the anger in the president's features that this is still going on.
What some people, it appears in the White House, and now beginning to conclude, if you read between the lines of what they're saying is, yes,
Barr came out and said there was no evidence in this report to support the fact that there was a conspiracy between Trump and Russia and that Mueller
didn't conclude to do anything -- to pursue the issue of obstruction. But that can be true.
And also, we're going to see a lot of damaging stuff that comes out about the president on the issue of what people did before the election, those
meetings with Russia that all these people in Trump's orbit lied about. The question of obstruction, Comey -- Mueller didn't say there was no
obstruction. He say if he was unable to come to a conclusion about how to deal with it. And there were evidences on both sides. A president
shouldn't be obstructing justice in any case.
[14:55:10] So I think, you know, when this report --
GORANI: But also we haven't seen the report.
COLLINSON: -- comes out, there's going to be a change in the politics of this. Right.
GORANI: We haven't -- we just haven't seen it. And that's part of the issue here for a lot of people is that they read the summary, the four-page
summary, there's probably a whole lot more nuance in the report once it comes out and we're able to actually assess for ourselves.
A quick last question before we wrap it up this house on the border. Because he was asked by a reporter, are you going to seal that border? He
said he hasn't made his intention known. Then he started blaming Congress, saying that no deal with Congress would mean that the border will be closed
But then he sort of massaged it a bit and was equivocal, because he said Mexico has started to apprehend people, essentially saying that because
maybe he threatened to seal the border, that Mexico was now being a little bit more effective in stopping people from crossing the border illegally.
I mean, based on everything he said, does it sound to you like he's going to close those entry points at the southern border?
COLLINSON: You just gave a reason why it's so difficult to pick what Donald Trump is going to do. Because on the one hand, by going after the
Democrats and saying, I'm going to close the border, unless we get a deal. He's raising the stakes in this confrontation.
Then as you say, he's talking about Mexico stopping more people at its southern border, it sounds like he's looking for a face-saving way out of
I can tell you, people in the White House think it would be a complete disaster if the border was closed. I was talking to someone who represents
fruit importers yesterday, and he said, you know, immediately the border is closed, prices in the supermarkets would go up. And within days, you would
have bear shelves all over the United States in the fruit and vegetable section. An auto industry would also close down. So this is a very, very
dangerous situation. Probably Trump will walk back. But you can never tell with this president.
GORANI: You can't. Although he did acknowledge it would harm the economy. Also, you would have massive shortages of avocados. And I think the
Americans love their guacamole. So we'll see if that has an impact in terms of the president's decision-making.
Thanks very much, Stephen Collinson. Have a great rest of your day. Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is