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President Trump Travels to London for a 3-Day State Visit; More Democrats Call for the Impeachment of President Trump; Mexico and U.S. Begin Talks Amid Trump's Tariff Threat. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 3, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Monday morning to you, I'm Jim Sciutto. We're reporting today from CNN Center in Atlanta.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we're happy to be here. Good Monday morning everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. President Trump is just wrapping up--

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-- a private lunch with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. That's officially beginning his long delayed state visit to Britain. Fan fair is on the menu for much of the next three days. But the fireworks started even before Trump landed.

SCIUTTO: That's right, the president blasted London's mayor Sadiq Khan who over the weekend had called Trump an egregious example of a growing global threat.

He also asserted that Britain's lamed (ph) up Prime Minister Theresa May bungled Brexit and said that one of her fiercest critics would be a quote "excellent choice to succeed her."

And then there is the Meghan Markle slam that he denied even though well, it's on tape. But you wouldn't know any of that from the scene. On the palace grounds this morning, CNN's Max Foster is there.

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Max, tell us about the pomp and circumstance that greeted the American president this morning.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was all laid on for him basically trying to celebrate this moment in bilateral relations between two key allies.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

There's a huge amount of politics behind this visit, very controversial. And President Trump flying insults at London mayor Sadiq Khan for example.

But the queen's job is to rise above all of that and look at this as a historic relationship which needs to last in to the future. So she orchestrated this affair to allow President Trump to look statesman like as he inspected the guard and he took in the national anthems of both countries.

So, I think it worked really effectively for both sides and the queen currently hosting him at lunch. Then she's going to take him through the royal collection and the American artifacts within it again celebrating the ties of an exchange of gifts as well, then a series of events throughout the day which will look pretty similar.

Pomp and ceremony later on for President Trump, and today will largely -- tomorrow will largely be about politics when he spends time with the prime minister and various politicians in west (inaudible).

SCIUTTO: Max Foster, thanks very much.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

HARLOW: All right, and out of the fireworks, there is little that the president dislikes more than a vocal critic. And over the weekend, no one was more vocally critical of the president than the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Our Abby Phillip has more on that, just back and forth and back and forth between the two of them.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has been a feud that has been going on for many, many months. And President Trump took it to another level and frankly a different level. Sadiq Khan's criticism of President Trump was about his politics.

He said President Trump was violating American values and essentially he said that he was -- he epitomized the sort of movement of far-right politicians that are rising around the world that he characterized as dangerous.

But when President Trump fired back just minutes before touching down here in London, it wasn't about politics; it was about Sadiq Khan's height. He called him -- he basically criticized him in deeply personal terms and said that unlike the New York mayor Bill de Blasio who the president also has a feud with.

Sadiq Khan is much shorter than him. So, this is President Trump really taking this dispute between these two leaders to an almost petty level but doing it with perfect timing really sending out that tweet intending it to go out just before he touched down here in London.

An extraordinary movement away from norms as a United States president typically as they come in to a foreign country for a ceremonial state visit like this would nt try to do it with this kind of acrimony coming with him. But this is President Trump and typically this is how these visits have gone for him.

He also decided to do an interview with a British tabloid in which he commented on the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle who is also an American, and characterized her comments about him as nasty. That made a fire storm but it is -- has become fairly typical of President Trump who his aides likes to call a counter puncher.

But at moments like this, it does seem to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the very people that he is expecting to fete him. But as Max has said, this has been a sort of tale of two stories. As President Trump has corded controversy, the royal family has welcomed him with open arms and with ceremony.

And I think from this moment on, we can expect that President Trump is going to be fairly occupied by the pomp and circumstance of all of this. And I think many of his aides in moments like this really look forward to this.

It's a bit of a reprieve for them as well.

[09:05:00]

PHILLIP: He doesn't really have much time right now to get in to anymore feuds at least fro the next few hours, Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, well there's that. Abby Phillip, thanks very much.

SCIUTTO: Well, the personal petty public jabs, not the only way that President Trump is breaking diplomatic norms, he's also injected himself in to the Brexit conversation and debate currently going on in Britain.

Telling Prime Minister Theresa Mays office, well they're trying now to tell Trump not to meet with Brexit supporters while he is in London. CNN Chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is at the Winfield House in London. Good morning.

And I wonder watching this, Clarissa, whether British officials in Downing Street who support Brexit of course would calculate that President Trump meeting with pro-Brexit officials would actually hurt their case in a country where President Trump is not well liked. I mean is that part of number ten's calculation here?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very interesting that you should bring that up, Jim, because I was thinking exactly that. Why does Boris Johnson actually respond to President Trump saying that he likes Boris Johnson and that he thinks that he thinks he would be a good prime minister?

Does that help him or does that hurt him? Because as you said here in the United Kingdom, as indeed in many other countries, President Trump is a highly polarizing figure, and particularly here in London. Boris Johnson of course used to be the mayor of London, now Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London.

You herd from Abby Phillips just moments ago the sort of bitter spat that has emerged between those two. And perhaps as a result of that, I think there is a sense increasingly that getting an endorsement from President Trump does not necessarily guarantee you political capital in the future here in the U.K. Now at the same time, what I would underscore is that more broadly speaking here in the U.K. as it looks down the barrel as a post Brexit world; there is a very real sense of urgency in trying to repair any damage that has been done to the special relationship over the course of President Trump's presidency.

And to try to at least agree upon the contours of some kind of a bilateral trade agreement because that trade agreement will really be essential to the U.K. as it finds itself increasingly potentially adrift in a post Brexit world.

So lots of political machinations here, Jim, and it will be very interesting to see who indeed the president does meet with and what effect that will have on their political capital, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Brexit politicians have said that there'd be a whole host of bilateral trade agreements to replace the (inaudible), those actually have a quite (inaudible) yet.

WARD: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Clarissa Ward, stay with us, we're going to add Douglas Brinkley to the conversation, CNN presidential historian. I want to ask you, Douglas, just to put this in historical context, because I know that we're used to it now this president being very personal and at times petty, particularly via his Twitter feed.

Even when he's traveling internationally, even when he's interacting with America's closest allies, but to fly in to the U.K., to call the mayor of London, by far the largest city in the U.K. a stone cold loser, talk about his height, et cetera, unusual, any precedent for that kind of thing for a U.S. president?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Queen Victoria from 1857 and 1901 wouldn't meet with an American president worried that they were uncouthed or beneath the British crown.

But since this special relationship's been developed since Woodrow Wilson in 1918, famously stopped and met with the royals on his way to the Paris peace conference after World War I.

It's usually supposed to be an uplifting moment to remind people of the special relationship. Very seldom do you get the kind of scandal and name calling that Donald Trump's promoting. He is a bull carrying his own China shop around with them in London.

And one thing that we can bet on is that he's not going to win a knighthood. And presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower, George Herbert Walker Bush were knighted by Great Britain Right now you get the feeling that Queen Elizabeth just wants to kind of move him on his way to France.

HARLOW: It might be a safe assumption, Douglas, frankly. So Clarissa, we're looking at these images of the president beside the queen, the first lady there earlier this morning. And he is just the third U.S. president to get this official state visit to the U.K. with her following President Obama and President George W. Bush.

But unlike them, he's no going to be staying at Buckingham Palace. Apparently there are too many renovations going on, although they have hundreds and hundreds of rooms. He won't get a carriage ride down the mall because of concerns over too many protestors.

He won't address parliament. We know that invite was rescinded last visit about two years ago. So, what's the goal I guess is the question here.

WARD: Well, it's interesting you raised the last two state visits from U.S. presidents because I really think that they highlight the contrast that you're seeing. When President Barack Obama came here in 2011, he was almost like a rock star. And he really capitalized on that.

[09:10:00]

Not just giving the speech in parliament, but he was out flipping burgers with David Cameron and serving them to U.S. and U.K. military personnel. He was playing ping pong with the prime minister with young kids. He was taking a tour of the famous globe theater.

That is in very much star contrast what we're seeing with President Trump who essentially appears to be kempt on a tight schedule. The idea here appears to be containment.

Set pieces with a minimum capacity for going off script, going off piece, creating an awkward moment or a (inaudible) because just as David (ph) Brinkley was saying, state visits traditionally are not the venue for this kind of shoot from the hip discourse.

HARLOW: Right.

WARD: They are largely formal events that are designed to cement relationships. And this special relationship is certainly in a period of turbulence right now.

There are more areas of disagreement than there are commonality whether that be the Iran deal, whether that be Brexit of course, whether that be President Trump putting pressure on the Brits to try to not allow the Chinese company Huawei to be part of building their 5G network.

There are many different spheres in which there are strong disagreements between the two countries. So I think there's a larger consensus that what is needed from this visit is to kind of put a band-aid over that to smooth things over with the hopes of being able to return to the ideal of what hat special relationship is supposed to entail.

SCIUTTO: Douglas Brinkley, how lasting is the damage to the relationship because Clarissa has just lined up their several substantive and consequential disagreements between these two allies and this special relationship. Do British politicians say well this is just a matter of the Trump residency and the next guy or woman will be able to get along with just fine? Or are there fundamental issues here that will have lasting damage?

BRINKLEY: I don't know about lasting damage, definitely short-term damage. And interfering with Brexit the way President Trump does is -- it's just really ludacris in my mind. But the good news here is that this is the anniversary coming up if D-Day on June 6th.

HARLOW: Yes.

BRINKLEY: And it might be the greatest generation comes to our rescue on Trump's visit here because back in 1994 when Bill Clinton met with the queen, they were in Portsmouth. And then it's all about the 50th anniversary of D-Day. We have the 75th anniversary. And our veterans are loved and Great Britain and France.

And I think in a day or so they're going to become the starts of the anniversary and Donald Trump's tweets will become just a distraction. But they basically need to get President Trump out of Great Britain as quickly as thy can without causing another -- some kind of--

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BRINKLEY: -- strain between the two nations.

SCIUTTO: It's amazing to think that that's the fundamental goal here is to move him along as quickly--

BRINKLEY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- as you can even--

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- from the territory of this great ally.

HARLOW: It's true. So Clarissa just going back to this very public spat that is years old now between Mayor Sadiq Khan and President Trump. We've heard the president's attacks on him.

But Khan called the U.S. president before this visit quote "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" who's behavior quote "flies in the face of the ideals America was founded on."

Obviously many in London support those comments; I would assume given the protests that were seeing. But what do you make of those words from the mayor of London ahead of the president's visit?

WARD: Look, there is no question, Poppy, that we're living -- we're navigating on charter territory here. You would not normally expect the mayor of London to be publically comparing the president of the United States to 20th century fascists in an op-ed for the observer one day before the president arrives. And there are many in this country who will argue that Sadiq Khan is out of line, that in his role as mayor he is not expected to weigh in on these types of issues. But more broadly speaking, we've seen other opposition members, notably Jeremy Corbyn, he is the leader of the opposition here.

He is not even attending the state banquet thus evening. And that's because I do think that among a large swamp of the population, people here feel very, very strongly about President Donald Trump. They do not feel that he embodies the kind of values that they do.

And particularly with regards to London, this is an incredibly multinational, multicultural, diverse, vibrant and tolerant city. And a lot of people in this city have taken great umbrage to a number of things President Trump has said. And particularly of course in the case of Mayor Sadiq Khan--

HARLOW: Right.

WARD: -- to the so-called Muslim ban, the ban on those seven Muslim majority countries. So, for a number of reasons people do have very strong feelings about President Trump here.

[09:15:00] Although I would say at the same time, we're also seeing what I would call outrage fatigue. People here are simply--

SCIUTTO: Yes.

WARD: There's nothing he can say anymore that will riel anyone or fluster or flap anyone because frankly they've heard it all before.

SCIUTTO: Yes, yes.

HARLOW: Very good point. Clarissa Ward, thank you for reporting on the ground. Douglas Brinkley for the important historical context, we appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: You're seeing live pictures--

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

-- as well here as they are waiting for President Trump. He's going to get a tour from Queen Elizabeth II of some of the many treasures in Buckingham Palace. Artwork, other gifts they received through the years, this part of his warm welcome and very official welcome to the United Kingdom.

HARLOW: All right. We'll follow this all morning. Also in Washington, congress is back today as a new CNN polls, democratic support for -- poll shows the democratic support for impeachment is rising. Are they inching closer?

SCIUTTO: So, another U.S. battle with one of it's allies, crucial talks kicking off today as Mexico fights to stop new tariffs announced by the U.S. president, this hours after we're learning, the president's top economist is leaving the White House. The chairman of the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors Kevin Hassett, he's going to be on our broadcast. And a city struggles to return to normal three days after a mass shooting. Of course that sounds familiar. We're going to be live in Virginia Beach.

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[09:15:00] CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Seven Muslim majority countries. So for a number of reasons, people do have very strong feelings about President Trump here. Although, I would say at the same time, we're also seeing what I would call outrage fatigue. People here are --

JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Yes --

WARD: Simply -- there's nothing he can say anymore that will rile anyone or fluster or flap anyone because, frankly, they've heard it all before.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

POPPY HARLOW, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Very good point. Clarissa Ward, thank you for reporting on the ground, Douglas Brinkley for the important historical context. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: You're seeing live pictures as well here as they're waiting for President Trump. He's going to get a tour from Queen Elizabeth II of some of the many treasures at Buckingham Palace, artwork, other gifts they've received through the years. This part of his warm welcome, and very official welcome to the United Kingdom.

HARLOW: All right, we'll follow this all morning. Also in Washington, Congress is back today as a new CNN polls Democratic support for -- polls shows the Democratic support for impeachment is rising. Are they inching closer?

SCIUTTO: So another U.S. battle with one of its allies, crucial talks kicking off today as Mexico fights to stop new tariffs announced by the U.S. president just hours after we're learning the president's top economist is leaving the White House. The Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors Kevin Hassett is going to be on our broadcast.

And a city struggles to return to normal three days after a mass shooting. Of course, that sounds familiar, we're going to be live in Virginia Beach.

[09:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Waiting there for the arrival of the U.S. President inside Buckingham Palace, he's going to get a special tour of artifacts and gifts received by the royal family through the years. Part of many stops over the course of these hours and days on the president's official visit to the United Kingdom. We're going to bring you that when it comes live.

Back here in the U.S. this morning, Congress back in session as calls to begin impeachment proceedings against the president are growing louder.

HARLOW: Yes, we have a new CNN poll out that shows that more Democratic voters and 2020 hopefuls are now saying yes to moving forward on impeachment. Let's go to Capitol Hill, our colleague Lauren Fox is there with the latest. These numbers are interesting, there's movement.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that's right, and just a slight uptick in those numbers. But you know, on Capitol Hill, there are still only 51 Democrats who support moving forward with something like impeachment.

And we should note that Nancy Pelosi has held strongly that she believes what Democrats need to do at this point is investigate the president, continue with those lawsuits that they've had to get the president's financial information. But some in leadership are starting to break ranks.

We heard from Jim Clyburn over the weekend that he believes that impeachment may be inevitable, that it may be something that Democrats have to do. But you know, just a reminder that Democrats are sort of caught between two realities, one, the base wants them to move forward with something like impeachment.

The second that many of these freshmen Democrats will be facing re- election in places where the president won in 2016. This is a tough road ahead for them. So we'll be watching this week for what house leadership decides, given the pressure that's building within the caucus. Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox, thanks very much. Of course, it was on this stage last night that Congressman Tim Ryan --

HARLOW: Yes!

SCIUTTO: Presidential candidate became the 51st, I believe Democrat --

HARLOW: Right --

SCIUTTO: To join calls for impeachment --

HARLOW: Right, this is notable because he had been holding off from it.

SCIUTTO: He had. And he said that hearing Mueller speak his own words about it --

HARLOW: Changed his mind --

SCIUTTO: Changed his mine.

HARLOW: All right.

SCIUTTO: Well, joining us now, senior editor of "The Atlantic" and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. And Ron, great to have you on. Looking at these numbers --

RON BROWNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Good morning, guys.

SCIUTTO: So support for impeachment, public support up, ticking up 4 percent since last month to 41 percent.

BROWNSTEIN: Right --

SCIUTTO: But you note the figure to watch is among independents and independents support, just one out of three, 35 percent support impeachment. Why does that matter?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, if you look at this -- kind of the swing part of the electorate, both independents and college-educated white voters, both of which moved toward the Democrats significantly in 2018, helped power their wins. Disapproval of the president among both of those groups is much higher than support for impeachment.

So you have half of independents say they disapprove of President Trump's performance, but only a third say they support impeachment. Among college whites, about 60 percent disapprove of his performance, only 40 percent support impeachment. That says to me that even among voters who are critical of the president, they still have some work to do.

But my somewhat heretical thought which I would be happy to explain is they may be over thinking this. The consequences of impeaching or not impeaching in terms of the political landscape in 2020 may not be as great as they think.

HARLOW: Talk a little bit --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes --

HARLOW: Go ahead, Ron, talk a little bit more about that in terms of the political consequences --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes --

HARLOW: Because this is --

BROWNSTEIN: I mean --

HARLOW: A political decision for them.

BROWNSTEIN: Right, it clearly is, and Lauren is right. I mean, I think the people who are out there on the limb are the 30 Democrats and 31 Democrats in districts that President Trump carried in 2016. But if you look back at the 1998 precedent, which is I think what everybody has in mind --

SCIUTTO: Yes -- BROWNSTEIN: When Republicans --

HARLOW: Yes --

BROWNSTEIN: Impeached Bill Clinton, first of all, opposition to impeachment was much greater than it is now. I mean, there was less support for impeachment on the day that Clinton was impeached than there is today for impeaching President Trump. And there was a backlash against Republicans in 1998, Democrats did win seats in the house in the 1998 elections, it was the first time, Poppy, since 1834 that the president's party won seats in the sixth year --

HARLOW: Except, Ron --

BROWNSTEIN: Of his term --

HARLOW: The president's approval rating hit its highest point.

BROWNSTEIN: Was it high -- right, it was much higher. But my point is, they won seats but they only won five seats. They didn't win --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BROWNSTEIN: The house. And then in 2000, they won two more seats, the Democrats, but they didn't win the house. And in 2000, George W. Bush ran for the presidency on a --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BROWNSTEIN: One of his core promises was, quote, "restore honor and dignity to the Oval Office". He played off of impeachment as part of his kind of central message.

[09:25:00] And so if you kind of add it all up --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BROWNSTEIN: It's hard to say that impeachment was a big positive for the Republicans. It's hard to say that it was a big negative for the Republicans. The impact may not have been as great as people kind of look at in --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BROWNSTEIN: Retrospect which means the Democrats may have more freedom than they believe to just do what they think is right.

HARLOW: Interesting --

SCIUTTO: Yes, that was a good point because it's sort of pronounced without question that the impeachment was a failure for Republicans --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: In '98-'99. But I mean, as you say, and again, of course, it was a Republican president who won the next cycle, yes -- HARLOW: All right --

BROWNSTEIN: Who won the next cycle, and they held the house.

HARLOW: There you go, Ron Brownstein, thank you, we appreciate it, good to have you this Monday.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you --

HARLOW: So happening very soon, very high stakes meeting between the U.S. and Mexico, this after President Trump vowed to hit all products from Mexico with tariffs unless the country does something to curb illegal immigration. So what's going to happen? I mean, can they reach a deal? Next.

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HARLOW: All right, so here -- this is a historic moment. Queen Elizabeth II is showing President Trump and the first lady all around Buckingham Palace. This is a room filled with artifacts, it's known as the royal gift collection. They are taking a look at this, this is part of his official U.K. state visit. Again, only the third American president that Queen Elizabeth has had for an official state visit. Let's listen in for a moment.

All right, so we can't really hear what the president is saying. But you have the queen there showing him, again, these are the royal gifts collection, some from America to the U.K. on --

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