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Trump and May Press Conference; Trump on Mexico Tariffs; Policy and Protests on Trump's Trip; Pompeo Comments on Tiananmen Massacre. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired June 4, 2019 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those tariffs go from 5 percent, to 10 percent, to 15 percent, to 20 and then to 25 percent. and what will happen then is all of those companies that have left our country and gone to Mexico are going to be coming back to us. And that's OK. That's OK.
(TRUMP AND MAY PRESS CONFERENCE)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: OK.
Thank you very much, everybody.
MAY: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there you have it, a very friendly, very warm joint press conference between the president of the United States and British Prime Minister Theresa May, giving her a lot of credit, didn't you think, Jim, on --
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, probably the biggest compliment he could give, he just said he's a better -- she may be a better negotiator than him.
HARLOW: She's a better negotiator than I.
HARLOW: He says he probably would have sued on Brexit. A bit in jest there. And maybe settled. But it -- there was -- the warmth was there. The focus on Iran and the nuclear agreement was there.
HARLOW: Despite Theresa May saying, although we remain in the Iran nuclear deal, we have the same goal.
SCIUTTO: It's a big issue of disagreement that they stayed in it. HARLOW: Yes.
SCIUTTO: In fact she said, we're safer and more prosperous when we work together. Relating to the Iran deal, of course, they're on opposite sides.
SCIUTTO: I just want to do a quick fact check on the president because the president was asked about the protests in the U.K. to his visit and he claimed that they were fake news. Let's just show you some video of the protests taking place right now at Trafalgar Square. That an effigy, I supposed you could call it, of President Trump there tweeting.
Not only there in Trafalgar Square, where they appear to be fairly well-attended, but there were some boos against the president from protesters as he entered the press conference. So the president claimed the protests were fake news. There they are for your own eyes to see.
HARLOW: They're right there.
SCIUTTO: They are not.
Just one other point I would make is the president and the prime minister talking about a trade deal.
SCIUTTO: And we've talked about this a fair amount.
SCIUTTO: They both want it. You know --
SCIUTTO: The U.K. having a trade deal with the U.S. is part of the case they made for Brexit saying, listen, we're going to make bilateral trade deals with the world. This will be great. The president says he very much supports that. He even said it will be two to three times what we're doing now. The trouble is, the U.S. and U.K. have very serious disagreements on how that trade deal might look, particularly with access to agriculture, et cetera.
And as you pointed out, what we were listening to then (ph), it takes years.
SCIUTTO: It does.
HARLOW: It takes years for something like that to happen.
SCIUTTO: Ratification. HARLOW: So it's a big promise from the U.S. president, who's also, by
the way, turned on trade deals with allies as we're seeing right now.
HARLOW: Let's go to our experts. They are here. Christiane Amanpour, Abby Phillip, Daniel Dale, John King.
Christiane, to you.
You were joining us right before the press conference. What's your initial reaction?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, look, you've covered the issues like the protests, like Iran, like trade. So let's get to the heart of it.
To me it seems like the big news he made was about the tariffs on Mexico. That will be a big domestic story. And that was pretty significant. He said they will happen. And not only that, if the Mexicans don't play ball, as I want them to, those tariffs will go up 5 percent each month, up until 25 percent. So that's a pretty big deal.
[09:35:17] Secondly, another big deal in terms of relations with the United Kingdom over Huawei, he was quite -- quite clear about trying to play down any notion that he would punish the U.K. by withdrawing or disrupting intelligence cooperation. He simply seemed to say that wouldn't happen. He was sure that they'd reached an agreement. That intelligence sharing had been the bedrock of this relationship. It was a major issue and that he couldn't see breaking it off. You know, we'll wait to see how that happens.
And then, of course, you know, his kind words to Theresa May --
AMANPOUR: Were in stark contrast with this time last year but clearly because this will be their last meeting in her current role.
AMANPOUR: And he did throw her a massive bone over Brexit. He sort of also punted on the Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove (ph) and all the other challenges for Theresa May's job.
SCIUTTO: Christiane, and you make a good point there, I mean, listen, on the intel sharing, something's got to give because -- because they're on opposite sides on this issue. So someone's going to have to concede if that is indeed true and that the Huawei issue will not threaten the intelligence sharing agreement, which was essential.
HARLOW: It sounded like he thinks they're going to concede.
SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see.
HARLOW: On that. On that. We'll see.
SCIUTTO: John King, to Christiane's point there, the president and despite Republican opposition to tariffs on Mexico, as Christiane said, being very firm that he -- even against the advice of some of his advisers in the White House, is going to move forward.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And as Republicans, especially in the United States Senate, Jim, try to figure out, can we block the president --
KING: Should we try to block the president? He was saying it would be, quote, foolish. The president essentially challenging his own party, get in line. I know you don't like this. Don't dare, especially as we head into election season. So that was an interesting gauntlet thrown by the president there.
It was striking, I think, to follow up on Christiane's point, you listen to his tone there, challenging his own party, it would be foolish. Listen to his tone when he was talking about the onslaught, the invasion, he said, of immigrants coming across illegally from Mexico and, therefore, he thought it was most likely the tariffs would go into effect. That was the more combative Trump we're used to seeing.
What we don't see very often, not -- it's not completely unique, but we don't see very often the more diplomatic and deferential Donald Trump we heard on the issues related to where he is, the U.K. issues. How much praise he heaped on Theresa May. He has constantly undermined her and questioned her leadership abilities. He said he was very proud of her. He said she doesn't get the credit she deserves. She might not in the future get the credit she deserves. That was pretty striking.
I also thought it was interesting when the subject of the London mayor came up and Jeremy Corbin, the Labour Party, more liberal critics of President Trump. He said, people should be more constructive. He doesn't like people who are negative. There's this thing called Twitter. You could read the president's own Twitter feed. He's a very good practitioner of criticism and negativity, but, at least for a few moments there, he decided to be the nice, more diplomatic Donald Trump.
HARLOW: You know, I think it is notable that although the president there in this press conference did praise Theresa May's negotiating skills, saying they're perhaps better than his own, and said that she really sort of brought the ball to the finish line on Brexit, it was just a few days ago when he was doing interviews with the British press that he says he thinks the U.K. allowed the European Union to have all the cards.
So the question becomes, which way does he --
HARLOW: Does he really view it? Nic Robertson is with us as well.
And, Nic, if we could just build on what John King was talking about, calling both Jeremy Corbin, the leader of the Labour Party, the opposition, and London Mayor Sadiq Kahn negative, going farther with Sadiq Kahn and saying that he has caused some of the people in his country and hurt the people of London.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I was interested as well that President Trump said he'd turned down a request from Jeremy Corbin for a meeting. Of course, Jeremy Corbin didn't go to the state dinner last night and so he missed an opportunity to perhaps have a few quiet words with President Trump there.
But that was interesting. We haven't heard from Corbin's office until now that he'd requested a meeting with President Trump. We're not aware of what he might have wanted to say.
I think, you know, when you look at this in the round, the president has really understood that he needs to be cautious, not to sort of undermine people like Boris Johnson because there's a -- there's a risk for Johnson in this if he's seen as the preferred candidate by President Trump. That could really undo him. But he does appear to be the preferred candidate by President Trump. You know, and I think trying to sort of talk positively about what Theresa May has achieved so far really seems to indicate that the president does understand that a conservative government in Britain is one that better serves his interests, you know, his policies, America first.
But I think, you know, it's a difficult, diplomatic tightrope to walk for any foreign leader to come into a country where they -- where they're meeting with an outgoing leader, where there's a leadership challenge going on, where there's something as momentous as Brexit taking place, where it's as politically charged as that. So I think we can be absolutely certain that the Labour Party, Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, Jeremy Corbin in particularly to the Labour Party, will continue with their challenge to the conservative party. And for the people of Britain, this is a time to hold a general election.
[09:40:14] President Trump said, yes, in a future trade deal, everything should be on the table, not just the national health service, but even more than that. I think in the minds of many people in Britain, they can't conceive of what even more than the national health service being on the -- on the table for trade talks would mean. It is -- it's a key part of British people's lives that they have a free health care service and they wouldn't want to have one similar to the United States that they'll pay for.
ROBERTSON: So I think, you know, that -- that what we -- what we will see here is the Labour Party try to tarnish the conservatives as being close to President Trump, as President Trump trying to break up things like the health service. There may be a small political backlash through that. Labour will exploit it. SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.
Question to you, Daniel Dale, because -- Washington bureau chief for "The Toronto Star." You've run something of a running fact checking service on the president through these last months and couple of years.
The president there, president of the United States, to stand there on international television, claimed that protests are fake news when people watching this program or anywhere can see with their own eyes that they are not. We showed the pictures before. We'll show them again, both down in Trafalgar Square, central London, but also outside number 10, as the president walked into this press conference.
What is the president trying to accomplish here by claiming that these protests don't exist when they do?
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TORONTO STAR": Well, you know, we know that he's always tried to make himself appear more popular, more beloved than he is. And this kind of claim is a staple of his dishonesty.
He also falsely claimed that there were thousands of people cheering him. Not only were there only tiny protests, but, you know, everywhere he went there were thousands cheering him. Reporters on the ground say that simply didn't happen. There were not those thousands there.
I think there are also a couple other false claims worth noting here. He claimed again, as he has repeatedly, that he predicted Brexit the day before the vote on a visit to his golf course at Turnberry in Scotland. He wasn't even at Turnberry until the day after the vote. The day before he did an interview with Fox Business and did not venture a prediction. He said he wouldn't do so. So that was -- that was false as well.
And so I think, you know, yes, he was deferential and dishonest -- he was deferential and -- and often diplomatic, but there was also the dishonesty we -- we usually see.
HARLOW: Abby Phillip is also with us.
Abby, you know, it is very significant that he -- the president clearly said that intelligence sharing between the U.S. and the U.K. will not change. He's confident they will reach a deal over Huawei. The U.S. would like to see the Chinese tech giant limited in its ability or no ability to operate in the U.K., as is the restriction now in the U.S. The U.K. has said they will be doing minimal things, Huawei, in that country. The president seems to think maybe the U.K. will concede on that and that intelligence sharing will continue just as it does now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think he seemed to -- actually, frankly, more optimistic than I expected him to be on that particular issue. And it could be because he thinks that the Huawei issue is going to resolve itself in a way where they won't have to take that step, or it could be his acknowledgment that this five eyes relationship that the U.S. has with the U.K. and other countries is a bedrock of that relationship and that it is one of those things that should not be thrown by the wayside cavalierly. And I think that if it -- if it is the latter, that that would be, I think, a major step for President Trump, who has been so willing to really upend some of these pre-existing tenets of these bilateral relationship and these international agreements. He's just been so willing to upend those things that it wouldn't have been a surprise that he said in this particular case that he was willing to look into that. The fact that he shut it down was further than I expected him to go on that issue. And I think it suggests more that -- that he's -- that he is really truly at this place where he sees this as a special relationship.
PHILLIP: I think so much of the imagery and the symbolism of the last several days has been about showing to President Trump that this is a relationship that has stood the test of time, that has withstood wars, that it has -- it has established peace. And I think they've been trying to really instill in him that these are not just words, that it actually is meaningful. And I think that by really closing the door to that today, which I think he did, that's an important step for this relationship as President Trump really settles into it being what it has been for the last many decades.
[09:45:00] SCIUTTO: Pamela, just -- Pamela Brown, you were in the room there today. You've been covering this trip. Tell us about the reaction to the room and particularly this cozy relationship between the sitting prime minister and the U.S. president.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was a very friendly showing today between President Trump and Prime Minister May, which is notable because President Trump has been critical of May in the past, particularly because she didn't take his advice on the E.U., on the Brexit deal, to see -- to sue the E.U.
What was interesting is that we saw a rare moment of President Trump being self-deprecating when that came up and he basically said, maybe it wasn't a mistake for her to not sue the E.U., that maybe she did handle it the right way.
And then he went on to say, she's probably a better negotiator than I am. So that caused some laughs here in the front row where the president's family was sitting, as well as senior White House advisers.
But it did seem like the president was in a jovial mood. And even Prime Minister Theresa May was complementary. President Trump was complementary of her. In fact, when the -- everything came up about the London mayor, Sadiq Kahn, being critical of President Trump and in turn President Trump calling him a stone cold loser, Theresa May didn't take the bait on that and she basically said that the relationship between the U.S. and U.K. is bigger than these squabbles that are going on. So certainly it was a positive showing. And as you know, Theresa May is stepping aside in just a few days, so
perhaps that could be part of the reason why everything seemed more relaxed here today and the president was very complementary of her, which was, again, in contrast to what we've heard from him in the past on certain issues, particularly on Brexit.
What also stood out to me is he talked about this incredible intelligence sharing relationship when Huawei came up. He said he did think something would work out. Of course, as you know, he has also accused British intelligence agencies of spying on his campaign. Unfortunately, that did not come up today. If I had had the opportunity to ask a question, I would have asked him about that, if he expressed those concerns and what evidence he was basing that on because, as you know, he has brought that up repeatedly and he has even asked his attorney general to declassify information which has -- which has caused concerns here in Great Britain that if there's any information declassified that Great Britain has shared with the U.S., it could harm Great Britain and also the safety of the U.S.
Back to you.
HARLOW: That's a great point. I wish you had had the chance to ask that question, Pamela Brown, but good point in bringing it up.
John King, to you.
So sort of almost in the same breath, right after saying that the U.S. would negotiate what the president calls a comprehensive trade deal with the U.K. if there is a successful exit from the European Union, he also said there's no question that he will slap these tariffs on Mexico next week, which goes to show that if you, even as an ally of the United States, do something or don't act enough to the president's liking, that he will slap tariffs on you and harm your economy.
So the question becomes, what should the U.K. believe in terms of how strong of a trading partner and an independent bilateral trade deal the U.S. would be under a President Trump.
KING: It is a great question and it is a question that will be answered in the next prime minister administration in a sense.
KING: And so that's why today, beneath this good cheer, beneath this effort by this president, again, who is constantly questioned, constantly undermined Theresa May, he clearly decided he wanted to go out on a positive note, he wanted to go out paying tribute to her, he wanted to get better press coverage, frankly. This is a president who watches the media coverage and he gets mad when it's negative.
KING: And so he clearly wanted this trip to be special, to be different, to be positive.
However, whether it's the Huawei issue that came up earlier, whether it's the particulars of a U.S./U.K. trade agreement, should American health care companies be allowed to compete in Great Britain? That's a huge issue. Should the British U.K. agriculture be completely open to the U.S.? That's a huge issue. The details, Poppy, you know this very well, the details of these trade agreements get into all politics is local.
KING: And all politics is local, whether it's Canadian lumber or whether it's the national health system in the U.K.
KING: So an incredibly difficult issue. The Huawei issue will be an incredibly difficult issue. The prime minister, for all the good cheer and all the good spirits and all the friendship, she mentioned the Paris climate agreement and her differences with the president. So mentioned the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and her differences with the president. So beneath the surface here, there are a ton of differences that linger and continue. But since Prime Minister May has just a few days left, both leaders decided, we're going to leave that for the next crowd essentially.
SCIUTTO: Yes. The press conference ends quickly. Those negotiations would go on for years.
Nic Robertson, you say that the president was insulated from anti- Trump protests in London. Why? How? And by whom?
ROBERTSON: Sure. I mean I was intrigued that the president thought that he could hear people cheering him as he walked between the Number 10 and the Foreign Commonwealth Office because it was quite clear that those crowds were not chanting in support of him.
[09:50:01] But what has happened here today is the police have issued instructions that demonstrators, the big number of demonstrators who have been demonstrating here, weren't able to get close to Downing Street. So the president really has been insulated in that way. That where the protesters are protesting, it's been some distance from where he is, so he hasn't been exposed to them. That the sort of baby Trump blimp balloons that have been flown have had a limited time that the police have allowed the protesters to fly them.
So I think, you know, it is important to say that the president has been not exposed as much as the sort of general public on the streets of London might be to the protests. So if he -- if he mishears them, that's one thing. But to have actually seen them, I'll not surprised that he says that he hasn't seen them because they've been kept away from him.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Still not fake news, though. Pictures speak for themselves.
HARLOW: Far from it.
Everyone, stay with us. It was -- it was a really fascinating press conference. There's a lot
to digest. We'll do that right after this.
[09:55:13] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.
So a significant headline, China, this morning, is lashing out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his comments on this, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, calling them an affront to the citizens of that country.
Of course, you'll remember, 30 years ago today, hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians were murdered. That was on June 4, 1989, as China's communist party cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in the heart of Beijing.
SCIUTTO: Indeed. The next day, the world would see this famous scene. Remember this? An unidentified man, a single man, blocking a long row of tanks following that violent crackdown. It's been a mystery as to where that man went, who he is, what happened to him. In a statement, Pompeo highlighted China's recent record poor record on human rights, writing, quote, Chinese citizens continue to seek to exercise their human rights for which many are punished, jailed, even tortured.
Joining us now, Alex Marquardt, as well as Matt Rivers.
So, rare words from this administration, calling out nations for human rights violations. But on China, very strong ones and on a day with enormous power, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jim. And, in fact, you mentioned the hundreds, maybe even thousands had been killed. One of the thing that Secretary of State Pompeo called for in this statement was a full accounting of the actual death toll. In a statement that, you know, Matt will certainly speak to how it has rankled Chinese officials, Pompeo called the people on Tiananmen Square 30 years ago heroes of the Chinese people.
We should note, these were not offhanded comments, spur of the moment remarks by Secretary Pompeo. This was a sharp, pointed, well-timed, at least in the eyes of the State Department, statement put out at 12:01 a.m. Beijing time, just as Tuesday was getting started, just as this anniversary was starting in Beijing. Pompeo making the point in this state that hopes have been dashed that China would become a more open and tolerant society as it became a member of the global economy.
I want to read part of this very sharp and strongly worded statement that Pompeo issued earlier this morning Chinese time. He writes, China's one party state tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests. Today, Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the communist party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups.
Now, we should note that religious freedom has been a strong emphasis and priority for this administration.
Speaking of serving one's interests, we should also note that this State Department is relatively silent when it comes to its partners in international diplomacy on human rights. Saudi Arabia and North Korea, for example. But, of course, this is a sharply strong worded statement, as I said, coming at a time of very high tension between the United States and China.
HARLOW: It's a notable distinction that Jim and I were talking about before the show.
Matt Rivers, to you.
You've actually gone there to Xinjiang to try to see what's happening to the Uighurs. So you have a unique perspective on this. Given that, also the response from China. What can you tell us?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, unsurprisingly, Beijing didn't like what the secretary of state had to say. And it used some colorful language saying things like if anyone bullies the Chinese people in any way, they will end up, quote, on the ash heap of history. So, you know, really predictable language from the Chinese government there.
But in terms of reaction, let's talk about the reaction of China's government to what happened in 1989. They don't talk about it. There were no apologies. There were no memorials out on the streets today. We were out all day long on the streets, and it was like a normal Tuesday. You know, there were hundreds if not thousands of people murdered here and we drove past Tiananmen Square, we couldn't go inside because journalists are forbidden from going inside, and there was -- there was nothing going on out of the ordinary, and that's because China's government wants it that way.
Beyond that, state media here can't report it. It's censored on Chinese internet. And when it comes to foreign media, not only has CNN's signal been blacked out all day today, every single time we talk about this, and we have video of that, but also when we were doing live shots out on the street earlier today in a public place, in a place that it was legal to be at, we were harassed by the police and forced to go off the air.
So this is the Chinese government's response to what happened in 1989. And when the secretary of state talks about things like western China and what's happening to Muslims out there, human rights abuses are still happening right now in this country.
[10:00:04] SCIUTTO: Listen, China has sought to erase history with the massacre in Tiananmen Square, and they've had a lot of.