Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May to Hold Joint News Conference. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 4, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:19] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. Of course, we're waiting for the president to speak and the British Prime Minister Theresa May. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto. That's a live picture there of 10 Downing Street where the prime minister's residence and office is waiting for the departure from there. They're going to Foreign and Commonwealth Office. That's the picture on the right-hand side of your screen with those grand flags for the U.K. and the U.S., Foreign Commonwealth Office rough equivalent of the State Department here in the U.S.

It's going to be quite a moment here. A special relationship between the two countries and I think what you can describe as a special relationship between the British prime minister and the American president.


SCIUTTO: Theresa May was the first foreign leader to come visit Washington after Trump's victory. This is actually his second visit to the U.K., but his first official state visit.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: With all the pomp and circumstance sense, he was president, and only the third U.S. president to get such a greeting in the U.K..


SCIUTTO: Our Nic Robertson is outside Number 10 Downing Street.

Nic, we expected this joint news conference to start several minutes ago. Are there still discussions under way or just the normal delay that often happens with official events on a trip like this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It seems to be, Jim, just a delay that you normally get with big events like this. We've seen a lot of people coming out of Number 10 already, Ivanka Trump, Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they all come out and walk across, but as they walk across the street here, and you know, it's only a few feet to walk from the doors of Number 10 and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the crowd outside the end of Downing Street, the onus security gates can see them. And whenever somebody has been walking out of the door there in the

past couple of minutes big boos have been erupting from the crowd, a siren goes off. So I think we can anticipate when President Trump walks across that street that the crowd will probably react to him a similar way. It's not clear if they can actually identify him as the president but they do seem to know that he is expected to make that walk.

So he hasn't made it yet. Theresa May hasn't come out of there with him yet. Everyone of course eager to have questions answered during the press conference, how long will it go, how many questions, we don't know. But what we were told was that the president and Theresa May wouldn't be having a one-on-one bilateral meeting. That they'll be surrounded by Cabinet members.

Well, you know what, those Cabinet members have now left and pretty much as far as we can tell they are -- the sort of the only senior remaining dignitaries left in Number 10. Quite why they're waiting, quite what route they may take, we don't know. But that's all we have right now.

SCIUTTO: Nic, you've been in London for a long time. You've seen prior U.S. presidents visit the country. Have you seen a reception like that before, boos for an American president at official events?



SCIUTTO: Listen.

ROBERTSON: Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you enjoying your visit, Mr. President?

HARLOW: So, Nic, we heard a few reporters and folks trying to shout questions at the president and the prime minister as we watched them along with their teams walk over, again, to the Foreign Commonwealth Office there. This joint press conference.

Nic, what did you hear on the ground?

ROBERTSON: You know, a lot of boos coming up from the crowd. You could hear the questions. I think it was very interesting the president waved as he walked across, he clearly felt comfortable walking side-by-side with Theresa May.

This is uncommon I would say for protesters to be able to get so close to when a president is here, to be able to express their opinion in this way. Of course, people are free to do that but we do know the police have controlled the protests on the streets here to keep back the vast number of protesters who have been held back quite some distance from Downing Street. But obviously the protesters have been timing their moment today to time out with this walk across because that was their opportunity to have President Trump actually hear them. Most of his time here in London he's been moving around by helicopter

and this is perhaps his best opportunity to see them in a distance, to hear them for sure.

HARLOW: And this comes in the same week that at the end of this week British Prime Minister Theresa May who is now a lame duck will step down as the head of her party, yet the White House and of course, Nic, British officials have maintained that these talks matter, that they are substantive even though she is a lame duck prime minister.

[09:05:04] ROBERTSON: They're very important for the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party is the party that is taking Britain out of the European Union and the United States, if you will, in a trade deal with the United States, a good trade deal is the trophy at the end of all that. Trade between the two countries is already massive, a quarter trillion dollars between the two countries done in trade every year.

So it's that that Theresa May wants to build on and that's the message she needs to convey to her Conservative Party can deliver Brexit and then they can deliver the good relationship with the United States and improve trade relationship of good free trade deal. That's what President Trump is talking about as well. I think everyone knows Theresa May is out of the mix for that. President Trump said she should stick around and do it, but the reality is it will be another prime minister, but it will be the Conservative Party.

SCIUTTO: True, and we should note that the U.S. and the U.K. despite their close relationship have differences over trade. This is a president who has not been shy about holding allies as well as adversaries to count. We know the Trump administration wants to push for wide access to U.K. agriculture, which is, of course, a major sticking point. It is not clear that the two sides are as close together as the president and the prime minister may be saying at this point.

Our Christiane Amanpour joining us as well, along with John King, Abby Phillip, Daniel Dale.

But, Christiane, tell us as you see the outgoing British prime minister standing next to the U.S. president here during turbulent times in the U.K. with Brexit, it's just 30 seconds away but quickly before we start what do you expect to hear, Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, very quickly, it's awkward timing, I'm sure both will heap diplomatic praise on each other. The president did say Theresa May should stick around but we know also that he's been talks with Theresa May's -- the people who basically stabbed her in the back and the one who's vying to take over from her.

So there's a bit of a mixed message coming. We know that no matter what the president says about a trade deal it's not as easy as the president promising it. It requires congressional action in the United States and at the moment we have the U.S. imposing tariffs on Europe which include the U.K. on steel, aluminum and the like. We know that the two leaders are very, very far apart on issues like the Iran nuclear deal and of course on climate change and huge numbers of scientists, very important people have asked the prime minister to bring up climate change front and center with the president. So those are some of the issues.

HARLOW: OK. And let's just listen in here to British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump as they are approaching the lecterns here to give this joint press conference that is very significant between allies. Here we go.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This week we commemorate the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our liberty on D-Day 75 years ago. As leaders prepare to gather here from across the world, it is fitting that we begin with a celebration of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Enduring partners who stood side-by-side on that historic day and every day since.

For generations at the heart of the Transatlantic alliance it has been our shared democratic values, our common interests and our commitment to justice. It is that unity of purpose that will preserve the deep rooted ties between our people and underpin our nation's security and prosperity for the next 75 years and beyond.

So I am very pleased to welcome the president of the United States of America on this state visit to the United Kingdom. For the past two and a half years the president and I have had the duty and privilege of being the latest guardians of this precious and profound friendship between our countries. As with our predecessors when we have faced threats to the securities of our citizens and our allies, we have stood together and acted together.

When Russia used a deadly nerve agent on the streets of our country, alongside the U.K.'s expulsions, the president expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers, the largest contribution towards an unprecedented global response. And in Syria when innocent men, women and children were victims of a barbaric chemical weapons attack, Britain and America along with France carried out targeted strikes against the regime. Since we spoke about NATO during my first visit to the White House we have maintained our support for this crucial alliance.

Thanks in part to your clear message on burden sharing, Donald, we have seen members pledge another $100 billion, increasing their contributions to our shared security.

[09:10:03] And I'm pleased to announce that NATO will soon be able to call on the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and F-35 fighter jets to help tackle threats around the world.

Today we've discussed again the new and evolving challenges to our security, our values and our way of life. We share the same view about their origin and our objectives in meeting them. But like prime ministers and presidents before us and no doubt those that will come after, we can also differ sometimes on how to confront the challenges we face. I've always talked openly with you, Donald, when we have taken a

different approach and you've done the same with me. I've always believed that cooperation and compromise are the basis of strong alliances and nowhere is this more true than in the special relationship.

Today we've discussed again the importance of our two nations working together to address Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and to ensure Tehran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon. Although we differ on the means of achieving that as I've said before the U.K. continues to stand by the nuclear deal, it is clear that we both want to reach the same goal. It is important that Iran meets its obligations and we do everything to avoid escalation, which is in no one's interest.

Recognizing our nations are safer and more prosperous when we work together on the biggest challenges of our time, I also set out the U.K.'s approach to tackling climate change and our continued support for the Paris agreement.

And we also spoke about China. Recognizing its economic significance and that we cannot ignore action that threatens our shared interests or values. As we've deepened our cooperation on security, including our joint military operations and our unparalleled intelligence sharing, so our economies, too, are ever more tightly bound together.

Every morning one million Americans get up and go to work for British companies in America and one million Britons do the same for American companies here. Our trading relationship is worth over 190 billion pounds a year and we are the largest investors in each other's economies with mutual investments valued at as much as $1 trillion.

Mr. President, you and I agreed the first time we met that we should aim for an ambitious free trade agreement when the U.K. leaves the E.U. And from our positive discussions today I know that we both remain committed to this.

I'm also sure that our economic relationship will only grow broader and deeper, building on the conversations we had and the ideas we heard from U.K. and U.S. businesses when we met them earlier today.

Tomorrow we will sit down in Portsmouth with our fellow leaders to reaffirm the enduring importance of the Western alliance and the shared values that underpin it. And as we look to the future, in the years and in the generations ahead, we will continue to work together to preserve the alliance that is the bedrock of our shared prosperity and security. Just as it was on the peaches of Normandy 75 years ago. Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you, Prime Minister May. Melania and I are honored to return to London as our nations commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and World War II.

We want to thank Her Majesty the Queen who I had a lovely dinner with last night. A fantastic person. Fantastic woman. For so graciously inviting us to this state visit. It was very, very special. Our thanks as well to prime minister and Mr. May for the warm welcome

they've given the first lady and me, as we remember the heroes who laid down their lives to rescue civilization itself on June 6th, 1944, tens of thousands of young warriors left these shores by the sea and air to begin the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Europe and the brutal Nazi occupation.

It was a liberation like few people have seen before. Among them were more than 130,000 American and British brothers in arms. Through their valor and sacrifice they secured our homelands and saved freedom for the world.

Tomorrow Prime Minister May and I will attend a commemoration ceremony in Portsmouth, one of the key embarkation points for the invasion. More than 1.5 million American service members were stationed right here in England in advance of the landings that summer.

The bonds of friendship forged here and sealed in blood on those hallowed beaches will endure forever. Our special relationship is grounded in common history, values, customs, culture, language and laws. Our people believe in freedom and independence as a sacred birthright and cherished inheritance worth depending at any cost.


As the Prime Minister and I discussed in our meetings today and yesterday, the United States and the United Kingdom share many goals and priorities around the world.

I want to thank the people of the United Kingdom for their service and partnership in our campaign to defeat ISIS. As we announced a few months ago, ISIS' territorial caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been completely obliterated, defeated. The United Kingdom is also a key partner in NATO.

The Prime Minister and I agree that our NATO allies must increase their defense spending. We've both been working very hard toward that end, and we are very current and some of them are not. We can't allow that to happen, but I appreciate everything you've done in that regard.

We expect a growing number of nations to meet the minimum 2 percent of GDP requirement. To address today's challenges, all members of the alliance must fulfill their obligations. They have no choice. They must fulfill their obligation. Among the pressing threats facing our nations is the development and spread of nuclear weapons, perhaps that's our greatest threat.

The United States and the United Kingdom are determined to ensure that Iran never develops nuclear weapons, and stops supporting and engaging in terrorism. And I believe that will happen. In protecting our nations, we also know that the border security is national security.

Today, the Prime Minister and I discussed our thriving economic relationship, both countries are doing very well and participated in a round table with industry and business leaders. I can say probably, the biggest business leaders anywhere in the world. Our nations have more than $1 trillion invested in each other's economics.

The United Kingdom is America's largest foreign investor and our largest European export market. That's a lot of importance. As the U.K. makes preparations to exit the European Union, the United States is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K., there is tremendous potential in that trade deal.

I say probably two and even three times of what we're doing right now. Tremendous potential. Seventy five years ago this Thursday, courageous Americans and British patriots set out from this island towards history's most important battle.

They stormed forward out of ships and airplanes, risking everything to defend our people and to ensure that the United States and Britain would forever remain sovereign and forever remain free. Following this press conference, Prime Minister May, Mr. May, the first lady, my family and I will visit the legendary Churchill war rooms beneath the streets of London.

I look forward to that. In his famous speech on this day in June 1940, Prime Minister Churchill urged his countrymen to defend our island, whatever the cost may be. As we mark this solemn anniversary of D-Day, we remember that the defense of our nations does not begin on the battle field, but within the heart of every patriot.

Today, let us renew our pledge engraved at the American cemetery in Normandy and inscribed by President Dwight Eisenhower in St. Paul's cathedral right here in London that "the cause for which they died shall live." Prime Minister May, it's been a true honor, I have greatly enjoyed working with you, you are a tremendous professional and a person that loves your country dearly. Thank you very much, really an honor.

Thank you for the invitation to memorialize our fallen heroes and for your partnership in protecting and advancing the extraordinary alliance between the American and the British people. It's the greatest alliance the world has ever known. Thank you, Prime Minister, thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.


MAY: Thank you, and now, we are going to take two questions from the U.K. media and two questions from the American media. I will start with Beth Rigby.

[09:20:00] BETH RIGBY, POLITICAL EDITOR, SKY NEWS: Thank you. Thank you Prime Minister, President Trump, Beth Rigby from "Sky News". For you, President Trump, as you hold talks with the current Prime Minister, the leader of her majesty's opposition has been addressing a protest rally against your visit in Trafalgar Square. He says he's disappointed you attacked the London mayor and he criticized your record on refugees. What do you have to say to him, and is this man someone you could do a

trade deal with? And to you, Prime Minister, do you think that Sadiq Kahn is a stone-cold loser. Thank you.

TRUMP: You're talking about the mayor of London, is that who you said? Yes. Well, I think he's been a not very good mayor from what I understand. He's done a poor job, crime is up, a lot of problems. And I don't think he should be criticizing a representative of the United States that can do so much good for the United Kingdom.

We talked about it before, he should be positive, not negative. He's a negative force, not a positive force. And if you look at what he said, he hurts the people of this great country, and I think he should actually focus on his job. He'd be a lot better if he did that, he could straighten out some of the problems that he has and probably some of the problems that he's caused. Thank you.

MAY: Can I --

TRUMP: He wanted to meet with me and I told him no. Yes? Well, I don't know Jeremy Corbyn, never met him, never spoken to him. He wanted to meet today or tomorrow and I decided that I would not do that. I think that he is -- from where I come from, somewhat of a negative force. I think that people should look to do things correctly as opposed to criticize.

I really don't like critics as much as I like and respect people that get things done. So I've decided not to meet. As far as the protests, I have to tell you because I commented on it yesterday -- we left the Prime Minister, the queen, the royal family, there were thousands of people on the streets cheering. And even coming over today, there were thousands of people cheering.

And then I heard that there were protests, I said where are the protests? I don't see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came, very small. So, a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say it. But you saw the people waving the American flag, waving your flag. It was tremendous spirit and love. There was great love.

It was an alliance. And I didn't see the protesters until just a little while ago, and it was a very small group of people put in for political reasons. So, it was fake news. Thank you.

MAY: And I would say to both the mayor of London and to Jeremy Corbyn, the discussions that we have had today are about the future of this most important relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. As the president described it, the greatest alliance the world has seen.

It is this deep special relationship and partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom that ensures our safety and security and the safety and security of others around the world, too. And it is this relationship that helps to ensure there are jobs that employ people here in the U.K. and in the United States that underpins our prosperity and our future.

That is a relationship we should cherish, it is a relationship we should build on, it is a relationship we should be proud of. Mr. President, would you like to --

TRUMP: A very big and this really is a very big and important alliance, and I think people should act positively toward it because it means so much for both countries. Means so much, and it's been so good. Steve Holland, yes, go ahead, Steve.

STEVE HOLLAND, JOURNALIST: Thank you, Mr. President, thank you -- is that on, yes? What is your current view on Brexit, sir, should Britain leave the European Union if there is no agreement by October 31st? And for the Prime Minister, what would be the ramifications for the U.K. if there is not a deal?

TRUMP: Well, I don't like to take positions in things that I'm not, you know, really -- I understand the issue very well, I really predicted what was going to happen, some of you remember that prediction, it was a strong prediction, made at a certain location on a development we were opening the day before it happened.

And I thought it was going to happen because of immigration more than anything else, but probably it happens for a lot of reasons. But I would say, yes, I would think that it will happen and it probably should happen. This is a great country and it wants its own identity, it wants to have its own borders. It wants to run its own affairs.

This is a very special place and I think it deserves a special place. And I thought maybe for that reason and for others, but that reason it was going to happen.

[09:25:00] Yes, I think it will happen and I believe the Prime Minister has brought it to a very good point where something will take place in the not too distant future. I think she's done a very good job. I believe it would be good for the country, yes.

MAY: And from my point of view, I believe it is important for us to deliver Brexit. We gave that choice to the British people, parliament overwhelmingly gave the choice to the British people, we should now deliver on that choice. I continue to believe that she's in the best interests of the U.K. to leave the European Union in an orderly way with a deal.

I think we have a good deal, sadly, the Labor Party and other MPs have so far stopped us from delivering Brexit and that deal. But we will -- but obviously, this is an issue that is going to continue here in the U.K., and I think the important thing is we deliver Brexit and once we're out of the European Union, we will be able to do what we've been talking about today, and develop not just our free trade agreement, but a broader economic partnership into the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could just follow up with another related matter. Mr. President, are you prepared to impose limits on intelligence sharing with Britain if they do not put in place some restrictions on Huawei?

TRUMP: No, because we're going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei and everything else. We have an incredible intelligence relationship and we will be able to work out any differences. I think we're not going to have -- we did discuss it. I see absolutely no limitations. We've never had limitations. This is a truly great ally and partner and we'll have no problem with that, OK?


MAY: Francis.

FRANCIS ELLIOTT, THE TIMES: Mr. President, Francis Elliott from "The Times". Do you agree with your ambassador that the entire economy needs to be on the table in a future trade talk, a trade deal including the NHS? And Prime Minister, you attempted to take the Prime Minister's -- president's word(ph) and stick around for a bit until a trade deal is done?

TRUMP: I think we're going to have a great trade deal, yes. I think we're going to have a great and very comprehensive trade deal.

ELLIOTT: The NHS, with the NHS, should the NHS be on the table?

TRUMP: I can't hear him, what?

MAY: It's our National Health Service, he said should the National Health Service be on the table?

TRUMP: Look, I think everything with the trade deal is on the table. When you're dealing on trade, everything is on the table. So NHS or anything else. There are a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table, absolutely, OK?

MAY: But the point about making trade deals is, of course, that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future. And as regards to your second question, Francis, nice try, but, no, look, I'm a woman of my word. Mr. President, would you like to --

TRUMP: John, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, thank you. Mr. President, domestically in recent days, Mexico has stepped up apprehensions and deportations of Central American migrants.

TRUMP: That's good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could possibly be in response to your threat of tariffs. Has Mexico --

TRUMP: Not possibly be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has Mexico done enough to avoid tariffs which will be imposed in some six days from now?

TRUMP: No, we haven't started yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And -- but the threat is out there.

TRUMP: Yes, the threat is out there, but we haven't really started yet, no, this will take effect next week --


TRUMP: With 5 percent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what do you think of Republicans who say that they may take action to block you imposing those tariffs.

TRUMP: Oh, I don't think they will do that, I think if they do, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders. I've had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent -- 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party. That's an all time record, can you believe that? Isn't that something, I love records.

But we have a 94 percent approval rating in the Republican Party. I want to see security at our border, I'm going to see great trade. I'm going to see a lot of things happening and that is happening. And as you know, Mexico called, they want to meet, they're going to meet on Wednesday.

Secretary Pompeo is going to be at the meeting along with a few others that are very good at this, and we are going to see if we can do something. But I think it's more likely that the tariffs go on, and we'll probably be talking during the time that the tariffs are on and they're going to be paid.

And if they don't step up and give us security for our nation -- look, millions of people are flowing through Mexico. That's unacceptable. Millions and millions of people are coming right through Mexico. It's a 2,000 mile journey and they're coming up to our border.

And our border patrol which is incredible, they're apprehending them. But our laws are bad because the Democrats don't want to pass laws. They could be passed in 15 minutes, they could be passed quickly. In one day, it could change. But even beyond the laws, Mexico shouldn't allow millions of people to try and enter our country, and they could stop it very quickly.

And I think they will, and if they won't, we're going to put tariffs on. And every month, those tariffs go from 5 percent to 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 percent and then to 25 percent. And what will happen then is all of those companies that have left --