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The President and Melania Trump Visit Historic Sites; Melania to Host Dinner at Ambassador's Residence Tomorrow; Tomorrow's Focus Will Shift to Political Issues. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 3, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: We will not. This is a massively important thing for the United States of America and for the Congress. You remember that it was President Clinton, it was George Mitchell, it was the Congress that were very, very keenly behind getting the Good Friday Agreement together.
So those issues are very important. And you know, let's wait and see what politics comes out of this. Probably we'll know more about that tomorrow, after political day.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. Folks watching Brexit from afar might not know that it's not just about E.U., which is big. It's about the possibility of reunification in Ireland, the breaking of the Good Friday Agreement. It's about the possible withdrawal of Scotland from the United Kingdom.
And you have all these carry-on effects possible, looking forward. You know, Christiane, you mentioned the intelligence-sharing agreement. I don't think it can be underestimated, what a blow that would be. It's hard to imagine a closer intelligence-sharing relationship than that between the U.S. and the U.K., part of the Five Eyes agreement, as it's known, which also includes Australia, New Zealand and Canada, for decades.
If that were to be interrupted -- it's interesting. I -- throughout this -- the Trump presidency, I've spoken to British officials who have often said, despite their public political differences, on national security they remain shoulder to shoulder. So if you were to have damage to that, that would have very severe consequences on counterterror, on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are very big things at stake here.
AMANPOUR: And, Jim, don't forget again, the symbolism of the timing of this visit to that exact issue that we're talking about, couldn't be more dramatic. I mean, the idea that on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, that the thing that really helped was intelligence-gathering as well as everything else, obviously. And intelligence-sharing. Was so fundamental --
AMANPOUR: -- that that could be at risk right now. But, you know, we'll see. I mean, the president does have a history of wielding the big stick if he doesn't get, you know, the things that he believes is due America. And we'll see whether this is just a threat or whether it's real, whether Prime Minister May can use the last days and hours of her premiership to convince him not to do it.
SCIUTTO: The president, first lady. This is moments ago inside Westminster Abbey. We're waiting for them to go on to their next step of the pomp and circumstance of the state visit to the U.K., this next stop being tea with prince -- the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: It's a big visit. It's beautiful to see these images. And, Dominic, it is historic. What can you tell us about what you're expecting tonight at the state banquet, other than it being lavish? What is typical? How much history will be involved in tonight? Any details you can share with us about what the president and the first lady will see and do?
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, if we just take precedent -- the ways in which, for example, when President Trump welcomed Emmanuel Macron to the White House, both spoke about the history, talking about the ways in which they had worked together in the face of global conflict and uncertainty.
And you could imagine both sides here, reiterating those particular issues. Which, on the one hand, President Trump listens to. But then in terms of his actual actions and broader behavior beyond the sort of formality of that particular setting, he often then contradicts himself in a tweet later or in the subsequent statements and -- that he makes.
But one is unlikely to see any kind of controversial statements being made on that occasion. It would be very much sort of out of the confines of what it is that's supposed to be going on there. He's far more likely to express those sorts of opinions in his meeting with Prime Minister May or in any kind of engagement that he has with the British media while he is on U.K. soil.
SCIUTTO: This was moments ago, the president and the first lady laying a wreath at the tomb -- the grave, rather, as it's known there, of The Unknown Warrior, remember all who died in the First World War.
And we're coming up on, just a few days from now -- three days from now -- the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where we will remember the sacrifice shared so much by the U.S. and the U.K. and Canadians and others, on the invasion in 1944. Christiane, your thoughts?
AMANPOUR: Well, look, it is such a huge anniversary. It's incredibly important that the president be there. It was obviously with a huge force of support, military support. General Eisenhower was the commander of naval forces that took off from Portsmouth, you know, on D-Day. And President Trump will go to Portsmouth on Wednesday, just the day before D-Day, to commemorate that action there. [10:35:11] I think it's really important that this visit is happening,
and to remember actually what it means when countries like the United States, Britain, Canada, the other countries that took part in an Allied invasion of occupied France.
Remember, in an America-first world or in a Britain-first world or in a whatever-first world, we are confronted by the reality that you cannot do it alone. That Britain alone could not have defeated the Nazis.
I don't know whether U.S. alone could have defeated -- the U.S. was brought -- dragged into the war by Winston Churchill, who created such a public relations, you know, sort of -- sort of thing around it to drag the U.S. into it, and to convince them that this was a combined task. So I think that's really important.
Just on a side note, the queen did in fact give to President Trump, as the royal gift today, she gave him a first edition of a Winston Churchill book on the Second World War, called "Second World War." I mean, I think that's very, very relevant and very evocative. And Churchill is always the person whom you can show to every American president, and there's immediate respect for Winston Churchill.
And tomorrow, Theresa May will take the president around the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall. And I think that will be very, very interesting as well.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Where the -- where Churchill kept watch over the U.K. during the Blitzkrieg, the bombing of London during World War II.
And, you know, Christiane, as you talk about the alliance during World War II, you don't even have to look back that far, right? The West standing up to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and now again, a reminder, the importance of the NATO alliance as Russia has been increasingly aggressive in a number of ways.
And that, of course, an alliance that this president has questioned. He's questioned about how rock-solid the American commitment is to it. Perhaps that's a message here that the U.K. wants to try to contradict to some degree, and show the importance of that partnership.
AMANPOUR: And as we look -- as we're looking at this roll of pictures, this is obviously at the Queen's Gallery, as it's known, in Buckingham Palace, where the queen was showing the president key American artifacts and works of art.
And in the background there, you can see his hawkish national security advisor, John Bolton. So that's another issue that the British will want to talk very carefully about when it comes to the political discussions.
Because the British do not believe in pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Like many, many people on this side of the Atlantic, they're incredibly worried that some kind of conflict erupts in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran. We've seen what happened in the Iraq War in 2002. That did not work
out well for anybody, least of all Iraq, least of all the United States and Europe, with the refugee crisis, the rise of terrorism. It's a very, very difficult situation, this.
And you also see Jared Kushner and the president's four grown children. Jared Kushner is here on the tail end of a trip to the region, where he has been promoting and talking to many leaders in the Arab world, try to get them on board of the peace process, the peace proposal that they hope to unveil soon.
And the first part of that, as has been talked about, is an economic peace. So we're waiting to see when that is rolled out, whether that in fact will -- you know, how that will go down in the Middle East in a couple of weeks from now. The first demonstration of that will be what they're calling an economic workshop to lay the economic foundations to their peace proposal. That's taking place in Bahrain and they hope to have a lot of buy-in from the Arab world there.
HARLOW: Again, if you're just joining us, you're looking at images from this morning. President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, on this official state visit to the United Kingdom. Again, only the third U.S. president to make an official state visit like this under Queen Elizabeth II.
Max Foster, to you, what is interesting is that this official state visit was offered formally two years ago, only to be cancelled -- remember, last year, downgraded to a, quote-unquote, "working trip" and now this is sort of carrying out of that invitation from two years ago.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, everyone involved disputes that it was ever downgraded. They -- the invitation went out and it was effectively given to the White House to name the date. And then the working visit was something that happened in between.
But, you know, who knows what really went on there. Working visits are quite regular. We have tea with the queen instead of a banquet. State visits are much rarer. There's only been three that have been afforded to U.S. presidents in history. So I think there's some argument that can be made there.
But it was interesting, hearing the discussion around intelligence- sharing and China because there's actually a threat that follows through the entire visit on this. Not just military cooperation, which is the whole theme of this visit. And we'll see that come up again and again and again.
[10:40:06] But I think one thing that President Trump might find in common with Prince Charles when they sit down for tea, is a suspicion of the Chinese. Prince Charles famously didn't attend the banquet for the Chinese state visit in 2015. He's expressed concern about human rights. Obviously, President Trump has expressed his concern about China as well.
In terms of intelligence-sharing, this is why the whole Huawei story is so important. It plays into all intelligence-sharing, not just between the U.S. and the U.K. but also with the European Union. So it's crucial.
SCIUTTO: No question. We are waiting for the president and first lady to leave Westminster Abbey to continue on their next stop, which will be tea with the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House before that state banquet this evening.
Christiane Amanpour, Dominic Thomas, Max Foster, stay with us.
And all of you, stay with us as well. We're going to be right back after this short break.
SCIUTTO: You're watching live pictures here. This, of course, the president and the first lady as they are finishing their tour of Westminster Abbey on the state visit to the U.K. Inside, they laid a wreath at the grave of The Unknown Warrior. They toured other historical sites within that church, centuries old. Lots of history there. A great honor for the U.S. president to tour there.
From here, he's going on to other stops. Tea with the prince of Wales and duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, and then later a state banquet. All part of only the third state visit by a U.S. president to the United Kingdom. It is quite an honor to be bestowed on a U.S. president and one President Trump, certain to enjoy.
We still have Christiane Amanpour, Dominic Thomas, Max Foster with us.
So, Max, lay out what happens going forward.
Sorry, Max Foster, not here.
Christiane, lay out, if you can, for us, what happens as they continue their day here in London.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's sort of pretty much along the lines that you just said, that they do leave from here. And then it is a lovely sunny afternoon -- or at least it was when they walked in, we'll see what the weather is as they walk out -- and it couldn't be more resplendent to see London in this late spring with this amazing weather, with the blue skies and a general sense of optimism and circumstance and timing.
You've got this incredible moment of the state visit. You know that there is a whole load of protests planned, and that's going to probably come tomorrow if they materialize in the numbers that they have suggested.
It's not just a sort of a kumbaya moment at all. But it is Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is endlessly interesting. Everybody wants to know what he's going to say, what he's going to tweet, what he's going to do. What actual material impact is it going to have on security, on intelligence, on trade. You know, he's just been handing out some tariffs and threats of that
to Mexico. And people are always a little concerned as to what will be his result "if we don't do what the American president -- or what this American president doesn't want us to do." Well, that -- all of that will be reserved for the political discussion, the political part of his trip tomorrow.
Today, it really is a day to bask in this circumstance. And to be frank, it is only Great Britain that can produce this kind of trip --
AMANPOUR: -- and this kind of history and this depth of pomp and circumstance that is not just surface --
AMANPOUR: -- it is borne of centuries and centuries of history.
AMANPOUR: And the president's getting the benefit of it.
[10:45:00] SCIUTTO: The president is standing on ground in a church that is one thousand years old. At least, parts of it there. If you're curious, the man giving the tour to the president is the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall. He is the dean of Westminster, walking the president through all the history contained within the walls of Westminster Abbey.
We also have Kate Bennett with us. She covers the first lady, Melania Trump.
Kate, of course, Melania Trump, at the president's side on all of these stops here. Tell us about her role in this, only the third official state visit to the U.K. by a U.S. president.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think as usual, Melania Trump is very comfortable on the global stage. This is almost -- sometimes we see her more relaxed and more at ease when she's traveling abroad with the president.
Clearly, she's given some forethought to this outfit of hers, with the hat. Again, we're seeing what she wore. She wore another white hat, if you remember last year, when the French president came to visit for a state visit in the U.S.
You know, part of Melania's job here is to really study up on the protocol and get things right with the queen. Past first ladies have always been a little nervous with the queen.
Remember Michelle Obama famously put her arm around the queen, which Michelle Obama just wrote in her memoir was because she was commiserating with the queen about standing in high heels all day. And as a hugger, she touched her and said, "Can you believe we have to do this?" You know, Barbara Bush once said that she asked the queen a question and the queen sort of responded coolly. And she wondered, "Oh, was I supposed to ask her a question?"
So these first ladies, going all the way back to Jackie Kennedy, really sort of get nervous. This is a nerve-wracking time. And I think the queen likes to put them at ease. And I think -- but this is a very protocol-heavy event.
Melania has been in charge of planning not just sort of the protocol side and the gifts and sort of those formalities. But also tomorrow night's reciprocal dinner at the U.S. ambassador's residence here. She has been in charge of the menu and the flowers and the seating arrangements and all of those things. This is really Melania Trump's wheelhouse, so to speak, sort of fun events.
HARLOW: You know, Kate, I was --
BENNETT: Don't forget, Jim, we've got the --
HARLOW: Kate, I was fascinated this weekend by your piece about how much the first lady and her team prepared for this visit, just how much work she did studying for it, getting ready for it, how careful the selection is of the gift for the queen, et cetera.
BENNETT: Yes. I mean, this is, again, something that Melania Trump really excels at. When you think about it, Poppy, she's been part of Donald Trump's world as a de facto hostess for almost 20 years. You know, being the hostess at Mar-a-Lago, at Bedminster, at the New York Trump Tower apartment. This is something she has done relatively full-time, just now on a much larger, much more higher stakes, if you will, level.
So certainly, she's been meeting with the -- her team about protocol, dealing with the State Department's Office of Protocol, of understanding things like where to walk and what to do and what to say.
You know, Betty Ford famously said that her visit with the queen in Washington in the 1970s would have gone well had she not kept calling her, "Your highness" instead of "Her majesty." So certainly, there are little things like that, that even -- like I said, even first ladies get very nervous about --
HARLOW: Of course.
BENNETT: -- but Melania Trump is definitely the more poised, I would say, calm member of this first couple, where he is sort of brash and brusque and is walking ahead of Prince Charles or ahead of the queen.
Certainly, Melania has learned where she is supposed to be and where etiquette expects her to be, and takes these moments quite seriously. This is, again, she had her custom designer make this hat for today to match her Dolce & Gabbana -- HARLOW: Right.
BENNETT: -- dress, the hat -- a hat like that doesn't happen overnight. So she's been thinking about this for quite some time.
HARLOW: Yes. No, it does not. That's an interesting point you make about the -- about the body language there, and -- Jim, how he is sort of leading, or the president has been --
HARLOW: -- leading.
SCIUTTO: It's -- this is the final stop in their tour of Westminster Abbey. The president, first lady there will sign the Abbey's Distinguished Visitors' Book. Prior presidents have also visited Westminster Abbey. Barack Obama, 2011. George W. Bush in 2003. A long list of illustrious names in that book there, as they finish their tour of the Abbey.
Christiane, as you're watching this in the U.K., how is the British public reacting? Is there -- are there a lot of folks lining, whether protestors or supporters, lining the roadways where the president's limousine is traveling? Are they paying a great deal of attention to this?
AMANPOUR: Well, it is -- you know, obviously front and center of all the newspapers, TV and radio for obvious reasons, because he is a divisive figure. And there are, as you can imagine, predictably, divisive responses. There are those who really welcome this visit, and there are those who don't.
[10:50:06] Today, there has not been much public outside. And the president is doing a lot of his traveling around by helicopter. You saw he landed at Buckingham Palace by helicopter. It looks like they're all coming out now, all the press is coming out.
SCIUTTO: You know the president's on the move when the reporters run. So --
SCIUTTO: -- he's about to leave.
AMANPOUR: Yes. The other moment when you said, "Let's stand by and listen to it," all you heard was the shutter speed, the motor drives.
But look, there will -- at least, it is expected, we don't know what's going to happen on the day -- to be huge demonstration in Trafalgar Square. But not necessarily along the route. We don't -- we believe that the demonstrations have been constrained to one area of Trafalgar Square, which is at the other end of the mall, which is opposite Buckingham Palace. So there are -- there haven't been the massive crowds that we've seen
yet outside, one way or the other, for or against. But again, tomorrow is the day that that's planned for. We'll see. We'll see whether it -- it turns out like that or not.
HARLOW: So now, we should see the U.S. president and the first lady walk out at any moment here. The press is getting set up, they'll walk out. As Jim said, they've just signed the Abbey's Distinguished Visitors' Book, as past presidents have done as well on these official state visits.
And now, Max Foster, they're heading to tea with the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House. How much of that will we see?
FOSTER: None. I think we'll see them arrive. The conversation will be private.
FOSTER: This whole zone has been completely closed down, caused traffic chaos. That's why we're not seeing any demonstrators on the shots that you're seeing. They've all been closed down, literally, take them less than a minute to get to Clarence House.
Which is remarkable place. It's -- the best way to describe it is more like a country house. The prince of Wales, a very keen gardener. You go into the house, it's very cozy compared with other London residences. Lots of fabric and carpets and horse pictures because the duchess is obsessed with horses. And it won't feel like you're in London at all. And they'll sit down.
And, you know, I've met all -- every member of the royal family. And what I will say about the duchess of Cornwall is she is the perfect person to have in the room to dissipate any tensions. She's very open, very sociable. By far the most popular member of the royal family, I'd say, for the royal press pack. She always greets us, chats to us and she'll be the same in calming the tensions in the room.
So if the Trumps are feeling, you know, swamped by protocol, she will resolve that for them. If Prince Charles is full of fury about green issues and, you know, religious tolerance, which are his two key issues and which, you know, he does get upset about -- and no doubt President Trump upsets him about that -- then she will step in and resolve that. So that's going to be an interesting conversation.
But those two issues may well come up, I suspect. He is -- you know, as the queen, the British monarch is the supreme leader of the Church of England, representing Christianity in this country, Prince Charles has talked about being a leader of faiths as opposed to "the faith." He's very big on religious outreach, particularly to the Islamic, the Muslim community.
And I don't know whether he'll bring that up, but that will be a very sensitive point between the two men, I suspect. SCIUTTO: No question.
Dominic Thomas, as we come to the end of this visit to Westminster Abbey, one very important stop on this unusual state visit for a U.S. president -- only the third U.S. president to receive this honor -- tell us some thoughts for people back home who are watching this.
THOMAS: Well, in terms of his broad -- visit, this is right now all about an optics. It's about a clear understanding of what it means to be seen visiting these historic sites, meeting members of the royal family. And then, of course, the trip will continue with the more political aspects of this.
In many ways, this visit provides two, three days of calm before the storm. Because the Conservative Party is about to launch its election of a new leader. The prime minister, with whom President Trump will be meeting, will be stepping down later this week.
And once that leadership race is over in the next few weeks, the new prime minister, who takes over from Theresa May, will be dealing with the next phase of the Brexit negotiations.
And let's not forget that if indeed the queen is the official head of state, that the government represented by the prime minister sits at the will of the houses of Parliament.
And no matter whom the Conservative Party goes about selecting, the fact remains that the British people feel as if they have not had the opportunity, three years after the Brexit referendum, to weigh in on these political issues.
[10:55:02] And the debates will continue to highlight the tremendous divisions that are there in British society, many of them, President Trump has alluded to in arriving in the U.K., by expressing his explicit support for for some of the individuals that have proved to be the greatest attractives (ph) in this Brexit process.
And this is something that we're going to be watching for the weeks to come. So this is the sort of the preparation for that next moment, that next phase.
HARLOW: Christiane, in your assessment -- today is day one -- what is -- and we're looking at the U.S. president walking out, live here, of Westminster Abbey before he does go to that tea with Prince Charles and the duchess of Cornwall. But Christiane, what is the most important part of this visit, this three-day visit?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it's all important. Because any time a foreign leader comes here and there's this amount of pomp and circumstance, that is what the rest of the world knows about this country. That we -- people in this country, the royal family -- do this better than in any other country. And they've really laid it on thick for President Trump, knowing what he likes.
And remember, again, it was a working visit last time. But the queen did have him inspect the troops in front of Windsor Castle, it was, then. There were the Beefeaters, the special guard -- I think I've got that wrong. Not Beefeaters, but there was the special guard. And he did have a lot of pomp and circumstance. But it wasn't officially a state visit.
But they are, you know, in a sort of a moment of trying to do the best they can to welcome the president of the United States and to keep this transatlantic alliance, this actual special relationship, very, very close. So I think that's going to be very important.
The royal part of it is sort of the feel-good part of it, if you like. The optics. What will, you know, reverberate around the world are these pictures. And then tomorrow will be more of the nitty-gritty, when they discuss issues that are really important to these two allies.
And then the next day, it will be Portsmouth, where there'll be a whole military piece to this picture. And that, again, will perhaps take away from some of the very -- very, very acute, divisive political issues that we know exist between both countries, despite their close relationship.
I hope that President Trump will be more into it than he was when he went to the hundredth year of the Armistice in Paris. He probably will be. And he'll have a whole sort of military -- you know, pomp and circumstance down at Portsmouth, the port, tomorrow.
And then, of course, he will be there with all the leaders of the Western Alliance, and the leaders -- I can't remember whether Putin is going, but he went to the 70th.
And certainly Angela Merkel is going, the defeated party who now stands really strong as the leader of Europe and the leader of the principal defender of the post-World War II liberal world order in economics, in trade, in human rights, in mutual values and, of course, in democracy and freedom.
So I think these are --
SCIUTTO: Christiane --
AMANPOUR: -- really important days -- yes.
SCIUTTO: Just noting for our viewers, the images you're seeing now. These are from moments ago with the president's limousine, the president and first lady. Their limousine has now left Westminster Abbey there.
They will soon be going to Clarence House, one of the many royal residences in London, for that tea with the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall, prior -- a couple hours prior to the state banquet.
That is the entrance to Clarence House.
HARLOW: No cameras, though, right? Inside. We won't be hearing what that tea, what's discussed there.
SCIUTTO: Right. If climate change comes up, an issue close to the heart of Prince Charles, one not so close to the heart of the American president --
SCIUTTO: -- we will see. Clarence House, I think for a time, was a residence of the princes, Prince Harry and Prince William, I think.
HARLOW: You're very good at this U.K. history, Jim Sciutto.
SCIUTTO: I lived there a few years. A (ph) few things. But, again, this is no small moment for the American president.
SCIUTTO: No small moment between these two countries, to bestow this honor on the American president, of a state visit.
HARLOW: And he seems -- he and the first lady really seem to be enjoying it --
HARLOW: -- and taking it in. Of course, he's brought a lot of his family with him, right?
HARLOW: You've seen some children -- Ivanka Trump, also a senior advisor to him. Jared Kushner, a senior advisor, there, as well, with him on this visit.
SCIUTTO: The U.K. does official visits well.
HARLOW: Yes, they do.
SCIUTTO: It is a country dripping with history. And the president, allowed to bask in some of that there. Centuries of history in Westminster Abbey. High teas, state banquets, reviewing of guards --
SCIUTTO: -- it is quite a state visit, as state visits go.
HARLOW: This is day one. And again, this is a three-day trip. So you'll see much more of it through the day today. We'll be back with you tomorrow morning for that, which is -- we'll get a bit more political.
[11:00:02] And then, of course, the commemoration of the 75th anniversary a bit later this week. Thank you all.