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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Kicks Off State Visit in Britain; Trump to Meet with U.K. Prime Minister; Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 3, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:16] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

President Trump is enjoying a state visit to Britain. Today's VIP treatment included an 82-gun salute, time with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace and tea with Prince Charles.

Plus, it would not be a Trump trip without controversy. There are protests in the streets of London. The president swaps insults with the city's mayor, and he ignores protocol and weighs in on who he likes in the race to become the next prime minister.

And California Democrats boo more centrist 2020 presidential candidates who warn against Medicare for all or appearing socialist. The front-runner, Joe Biden, skipped the state party convention, and some of his rivals took note.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you here in this room and those who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be in this room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back to 2020 politics later.

But we begin this hour with the president's glitzy arrival in London for a state visit. Just moments ago, the president wrapping up tea with Prince Charles. This after a busy morning full of the kind of pomp and circumstance the president loves. A formal reception at Buckingham Palace and lunch with the queen. A tour of Westminster Abbey, where the president laid a wreath at the grave of The Unknown Warrior.

But the president's visit, no surprise here, also engulfed by criticism and controversy, in the days, hours, even minutes leading up to his arrival, the president has bickered with the London mayor, shared his open support of a swift Brexit and even weighed in on who should be the next British prime minister. Protesters fanning out across the city today to express their unhappiness with the decision to grant this American president a full state visit.

Back home in the states, "The Drudge Report" summing it up this way, royal welcome, pomp and insults.

CNN's Max Foster joins me live from Buckingham Palace.

Max, the pictures are amazing. The president seems to be enjoying himself. This is your business. What are your big takeaways so far?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's really interesting the way he's thrown political protocols out the window, flying into the U.K., calling the London mayor a stone cold looser after the London mayor said Donald Trump was a global threat. But then stepping into Buckingham Palace and stepping up into -- in a very statesman like way and being almost -- very deferential really to the queen at the same time and very much respecting royal protocols. So while political protocols are out the window, royal protocols are very much being held up by him today.

So that was a fascinating insight. He had lunch, a private lunch in the palace. We don't know what was said there. This afternoon with Prince Charles, we don't know what was said there, but perhaps we'll get some information as it leaks out. Not always the case with these types of meetings unless it comes from the Trump side. These are two men who have diametrically opposing views on a wide range of issues, not least global warming and religious tolerance.

At the moment, he's heading up to Winfield House, which is a glorious mansion in Regents Park, the British -- the American ambassador to London's residence. He'll spend some time there before the main event tonight, which is the state banquet where he'll deliver a speech, and the queen will deliver a speech as well.

What will he say? How will he address these political issues in a palace environment, or will he ignore them all together? What the queen wanted to do is strengthen ties between the U.S. and the U.K. in the wider history rather than focusing on political events which, you know, are pretty contentious, us a known, John, here in the U.K.

KING: Contentious to say the least. Always diplomatic. Max Foster, I appreciate it, live from outside the palace.

Let bring it in studio now. With me to share their reporting and their insights, Catherine Lucey with "The Wall Street Journal," Carl Hulse with "The New York Times," Seung Min Kim with "The Washington Post" and CNN contributor Sally Bedell Smith, author of "Elizabeth: The Queen."

Sally, let me start with you.

There's always these questions. The last time President Trump was there, there were a few protocols he didn't quite follow around the queen. He seems genuinely to be enjoying himself, and it's not the right word, but, behaving?

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think he has enormous reverence for the monarchy and for the queen. I mean he's famously said that his mother, you know, Scots-born, loves the queen and so forth. And the queen is a huge -- you know, she's a thorough professional. She became monarch when she was 25. She has known 12 of 13 American presidents. The only one she missed was Lyndon Johnson, who was too sick to come to Winston Churchill's funeral.

But she, above all, is a professional. She knows how to handle any situation, even things like Jimmy Carter kissing her mother on the lips in 1977 when she said I haven't been kissed that way since I was -- since my husband died 25 years ago.

[12:05:06] But the queen is just very good as smoothing the waters. She's has a very calm temperament. And so I'm sure she's steered through everything without any kind of a mishap.

KING: And the calm temperament you mentioned, that is not a phrase put in a sentence with Donald Trump that often.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": No.

KING: That often. And yet -- and yet he's been -- in terms of the protocol, that's part of it. That's what makes this so fascinating. Two years in the make, because it was so controversial. Theresa May very much wanted it at the beginning of the Brexit debate, the beginning of her tenure because she needs a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, good trade relations with the United States. We'll get more to that and the politics in a minute. But the moment for the president?

LUCEY: This is a big deal for the president. I mean he has -- he has wanted this. They have a huge White House contingent there. His adult children are there. Obviously his wife is there. But, I mean, it really, as you said, it shows again his ability to do more than thing -- one thing at once. He's -- he wants to sort of play the statesman in some of these moments, observe protocol, but he's not going to stop any of these street fighting back home. So -- and even as he comes in. So he's -- he's playing two roles. I mean, for the moment, it seems, the rest of the day with the state dinner, I think, we're probably going to see him on -- on that behavior, but there's always more than one Donald Trump in play.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And he does seem --

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that --

HULSE: Go ahead.

KIM: Oh, and that street fighting Donald Trump has actually become such a fixture of his foreign trips because there have been so many other times in the last two years -- or in the first two years of his presidency where he's kind of insulted his host as Air Force One literally landed on foreign soil or kind of even wreaked havoc before he took off.

LUCEY: And that happened the last time he came to the U.K., yes. KIM: Indeed.

So I remember being in London waiting for the president to land from Brussels, and right at that moment, that explosive interview with "The Sun" tabloid where he really insulted Theresa May's handling of Brexit, kind of endorsed her -- her own political opponents public (ph), and we were just kind of aghast at the impact that that would have. But also, you know, in Paris, he had a pretty snide tweet to Macron as he was landing. And also at the G-7 last year he said, we should allow Russia back into the G-8, even before he took off, and really created chaos there.

LUCEY: He also tweeted chaos as he left the G-7. If you remember, he left, it sounded like he was going to sign the communique and then he tweeted all kinds of things as he -- as he -- as he took off.

HULSE: Well, he does seem to have a special attachment to Great Britain.

LUCEY: Yes.

HULSE: And even during the campaign, he vacillated whether to go, but his golf course is there and he wanted to see his golf course and he went over there and, of course, that was a disaster too in some respects as well because that's when Brexit was happening.

I thought that his response that if you don't want to hear the answers, don't ask the questions was pretty interesting.

KING: Right.

HULSE: You know, other people have learned how to be diplomatic when someone asks a difficult question. You know, this seems like a typical sort of Trump trip. You have some success and then you have, you know, political hand grenades in the middle.

KING: Well, and that part, it's almost like he's trying to get the royal part right and the rest of it is your trademark Trump, if you will. And I'm not defending the president, but in defense of the president, so let me defend the president a little bit, what he was getting in this -- in with the London mayor, he was responding. He was not first.

Sadiq Khan in "The Observer," the London mayor says it's so unBritish to be rolling out the red carpet this week for a formal state visit for a president whose divisive behavior flies in the face of the ideals America was founded on, equality, liberty and religious freedom. In years to come, I suspect this state visit will be one we look back on with profound regret and acknowledge that we were on the wrong side of history.

So that's the London mayor. So the president lands, @sadiqkhan, who, by all accounts has done a terrible job as mayor of London, has been foolishly nasty to the visiting president of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me. He goes on to then the ultimate Trump insult, compared the mayor of London to the mayor of New York.

How will -- how will this play?

SMITH: I should say, well, one thing about the queen is she has seen them come and she has seen them go. She -- I mean famously entertained at a state dinner -- state visit with all the panoply, including the carriage drive down the mall and all the things, and the Horse Guard parades and everything that was hidden behind Buckingham Palace, which, by the way, was done for Obama, too, for security reasons, was done in the forecourt for President Bush in 2003, again, for security reasons, for all the protests.

But she -- you know, she knows how to -- how to manage these situations and -- and so, you know, so I think, you know, she wouldn't let him get into trouble.

KING: Wouldn't let him get --

SMITH: No.

KING: Not in her -- not in -- not in her presence.

SMITH: Not in her presence.

LUCEY: This also isn't the first go-round with -- this is a long- running feud, at this point, with the president and the mayor of London.

SMITH: Yes. And she -- you know, again, I mean, again, when -- when -- (INAUDIBLE) came in 1978, they were warned by the French that they'd better remove the silver from the Belgian Suite in Buckingham Palace because the Chenchecos (ph) stole thing. And that -- of course she foolishly gave him a knighthood, which he had -- which was stripped from him after he had been killed by his own people 11 years later.

KING: I -- I -- I don't --

[12:10:01] SMITH: So -- so she -- you know, she has some context here.

HULSE: So things can get worse.

SMITH: Things can get worse.

HULSE: If you just look through some of the pictures, as we do -- and, again, we'll get to some of the politics and the substance in a moment. But the president arrives. He shakes the queen's hand, as you mentioned. He's always -- he has seems fascinated. Number one, he wants to have the higher standing and, you know, he wants to be seen as the American president. He has this when he meets with CEOs because when he was a New York businessman they wouldn't give him the time of day.

Now he sees himself as the big player. You see him there, this moment here. Then he sees the honor guard. He loves this. Remembers in France they had the parade for him. The president loves being part of this. And who wouldn't. Who wouldn't. This is -- this is an impressive scene here.

It was interesting to me to see him at Westminster. He was asking a lot of questions. And he seemed quite engaged as he went through. And, again, some presidents plow through these things. George W. Bush, if he was curious about something, wanted to learn every detail. If he was not, he would plow through some of the world's greatest museums in minutes, minutes, minutes. He would just plow through. So it is interesting to see the president in that reverent space asking questions as he goes through.

SMITH: Yes. He also spoke, as I recall, more when he was doing the honor guard. He stopped and paused and spoke to more of those soldiers than is typical.

LUCEY: Well, and he likes chatting with people.

SMITH: Yes.

KING: Right.

LUCEY: He likes asking questions. He is interested. He was asking about the age of Westminster. I mean that -- that, to me, seems -- he is -- when he's in those moods, he can be very affable and very charming.

KING: It's in that -- in those settings --

LUCEY: Yes.

KING: That's what makes him very complicated.

OK, and we're going to continue this conversation.

Next, amidst all this royal pageantry, President Trump decides it's a good time to share his thoughts on British politics, like, say, who should be the next British prime minister.

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[12:16:15] KING: Welcome back.

President Trump's trip to the U.K. giving him a fresh opportunity to weigh in on British politics, even though custom calls for U.S. presidents to show restraint, especially at sensitive moments. But this president prefers disruption to custom and restraint and not -- is not being shy about how he thinks the U.K. should handle the ongoing Brexit saga or who he thinks would be best to replace Prime Minister Theresa may.

CNN's Abby Phillip joins us live from London now.

Abby, love it, hate it, trademark Trump.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I don't think any of that will come as a surprise to anyone, not even on this side of the Atlanta, where they are pretty used to President Trump at this point. But there are some questions that remain at this hour about whether he will follow through on what he suggested could be some meetings that he sets up this week with two individuals, one of whom is running to replace Theresa May as prime minister. Boris Johnson, who the president praised to reporters in a gaggle as he was leaving Washington on Sunday, and the other would be Nigel Farage, a Brexit campaigner.

And so both of these meetings, U.S. officials tell us, has not been set up yet. There are no plans for him to do it yet. But that could change really at any moment. If President Trump decides he wants to have those meetings and sets his aides to that task, they will do it. But it's coming at a really awkward time. Theresa May is just days away from stepping aside as party leader and it's a tumultuous time politically for the U.K. And President Trump is not only stepping directly into this whole Brexit conversation, he's made it no secret how he feels about that, how he feels about Theresa May in his view not listening to him on that issue.

But he's also potentially stepping into the campaign to -- to replace her. Who will become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom? And so it is a little bit of a faux pas, frankly, for President Trump to be doing that not only as he is on -- as he is here visiting the country, but particularly on this occasion. It's a state visit. It's very ceremonial in nature. The purpose of this is to establish good feelings between the two countries. But he has been not shy at all about delving deeply into that political aspect of things in addition to the political fighting that he's been having with the London mayor, who has opposite political views from him. President Trump is eager to get very deeply involved in the politics of this country right now. And I think people here in the U.K. are -- just as you are unsurprised, not surprised by that, too, John.

KING: Not surprised by that. Be interesting what he says at the state banquet tonight and then side by side with Theresa May tomorrow morning our time here in the states.

Abby Phillip live from London, appreciate it.

Molly Ball with "Time" joins us.

Is it the custom that's wrong or President Trump that's wrong in the sense that, you know, you're not supposed to weigh in on someone else's politics, especially at this key moment. Well, he's not going to, you know, be quiet, as Carl noted in the last segment. He said, if you don't want the answer, don't ask the question.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, the part of most people's brain that decides whether or not to say that thing that you're thinking doesn't necessarily exist in this president. But the reason for the custom, it's not just politeness, it's about not making people angry. It's about not offending people. And that has repercussions for the relationship.

The president, even more than most people, believes that diplomacy and foreign relationship -- foreign relations is all about personal relationships with leaders. And so when you meddle in the politics like this, you run the risk of, say your guy doesn't win, then you've alienated the person who does win. Even if your guy does win, he's going to want to feel like he did it on his own. And so that is the reason for that. But I think there is an understanding, as Abby was sort alluding to, that this guy isn't like other president. He doesn't follow the same rules and people have become accustomed to that.

[12:20:03] KING: And, again, I've traveled with presidents in the past where they meet with political leaders, like the opposition party. One party's in power, you meet with the opposition leader. Usually there's a still photographer. So, you know, there's no -- not a lot of chatter at those meetings and you don't hold them days before the election to pick a new prime minister. But he does -- so we don't know, will they talk him out of meeting Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage on this trip? Will he say, let's make it happen?

LUCEY: It's unclear. I mean I think today, obviously, is all about sort of the pomp and circumstance of these state events. Also, if he really wants to, he's going to do it. I mean in terms of the election, I would say, I think this does come two years into this presidency. People here and everywhere are very used to Donald Trump. So I don't know that he's -- he's -- is he moving votes at this point? I think that's not -- it's not really clear how he like influences, but it is, I think, a very diplomatic question.

KING: And it goes both way in the sense that the president has made clear he thinks Boris Johnson would do a good job, right? And so if that's essentially putting your thumb on the scale when they're about to pick a prime minister.

The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, greeted the president this morning. He is also a candidate to be the next leader. Proud to be at Stansted this morning to greet @realDonaldTrump and Melania Trump as they arrive in the U.K. Hugely exciting few days ahead celebrating our great friendship and honoring those who fought side by side to defend freedom from tyranny, U.S. state visit.

Hugely. Hugely. That -- where did that word come from?

KIM: A lot of these foreign leaders we've seen, they have studied Trump. They know his mannerisms. They know his rhetoric. And they know how to butter him up a little bit. I mean we just saw that when the president was in Tokyo and we saw all the pageantries that the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had rolled out -- rolled out for the president.

I'm really going to be watching how his interaction, his body language, will be with Theresa May tomorrow, because that has been a very interesting relationship to catalog. I mean the last time, again, when he was in London, he -- you know, he comes into the -- he comes into the U.K. insulting Theresa May. And when they were actually standing side by side, they were kind of like, we're best friends and he almost apologized to her for the comments that he had made in "The Sun" tabloid. So that's going to be a fun interaction there.

HULSE: I think this goes back to the Saudis a little bit because they sort of invented this, you know, remember how over-the-top the whole reception of Trump was. And so everyone has just grabbed on to that. There's no real artifice about it. I think they kind of treat it as a joke in some ways. You know, the only thing he didn't say there was big league or whatever.

You know, and, Trump, he just eats it up. There's no restraint on his part. He kind of thinks it's his role in some ways to go over there and churn things up because that's what he does. And that's what he enjoys.

KING: Including say -- including saying in the interview with "The Sunday Times" essentially walk away. If you can't get a deal -- if you can't finally negotiate, they've been going on forever, if you can't get a deal, he said at one point, I wouldn't pay $50 billion. It's a big number. I wouldn't pay $50 billion. That's me. I'm only saying this from my standpoint.

And the question goes on. He says, if you don't get the deal you want, you don't get a fair deal, then you walk away. That's the president of the United States, again, making clear his views. Number one, it's an issue in the election of a conservative party leader who will become the next prime minister. Number two, it's the giant issue in U.K./E.U. relations at the moment. And he's got a plan.

LUCEY: But he has -- he has offered his opinions on Brexit for some time. Again, this is not -- this is not new and this is also sort of aspect of Trump the pundit almost. He likes weighing in on these things. He -- he's --

BALL: Well -- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. But I -- yes, I think he views Brexit as very close to his heart because he sees it as part of the same global populist movement that elected him.

KING: Right.

BALL: If you remember, during -- Brexit happened during the 2016 presidential election and a few days before he went to the U.K., Donald Trump was interviewed by the author, Michael Wolf (ph), and didn't know what it was. But then when he was there when it happened, he immediately took credit for it, or at least incorporate it into his own political persona saying, see, we're -- this is the same thing. And this was a big, you know, hobby horse of Steve Bannon as well, right, saying --

KING: Absolutely.

BALL: This is all a part of the same global populous movement. So I think he does view the fortunes of Brexit as intertwined with his own and talking to figures like Nigel Farage is going to constantly reinforce that view.

KING: And we'll see if that happens while he's there to -- on the soil. It would be a fun one.

Up next, a Democratic front-runner noticeably absent from a big Democratic Party convention in the biggest of the states, California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:28:46] KING: The front-runner was missing as California Democrats held their big convention this weekend and welcomed most, that would be most, of the party's 2020 presidential contenders. So why was Joe Biden a no show? Well, his campaign says he had another commitment. But, be skeptical of that. Like Biden, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper warns Democrats need to be careful about drifting too far left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big, progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.

You know, if we're not careful, we're going to end up helping to re- elect the worst president in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And like Biden, the former congressman, John Delaney, thinks fixing Obamacare is a better idea than a brand new Medicare for all program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare for all may sound good, but it's actually not good policy, nor is it good politics. I'm telling you -- I'm telling you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Delaney booed in California. Then a liberal favorite from the other coast joined the fray. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing her disfavor with Delaney in a tweet, telling him to, quote, please sashay away.

[12:30:00] His campaign firing back today, the only person Ocasio- Cortez helped with her tweet about Congressman Delaney was Donald Trump. If Democrats are serious about beating the president to the ballot box.