Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Meeting With Polish President; Russia Military Ever Present As Trump Mulls Poland Defense; Sanders: Trump, Oligarchs Don't Really Oppose All Forms of Socialism. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:05] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hosting the Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House right now. And we speak to see the two leaders inside the Oval Office soon, and we are told the president is taking some questions.

The administration is promising a, quote, significant announcement coming this afternoon about military cooperation. CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the pentagon. Barbara, what do we know about the big announcement?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi there, John. What we expect to see is both leaders sign that agreement that will basically call for about a thousand additional U.S. troops to rotate in and out of Poland over the coming months and years. This is an addition to the roughly 4,000 that already operate in Poland. These are not going to be front line combat troops from the U.S.

So you're not going to see U.S. tanks rolling through Poland. These will be troops that will be going there, it will be improving facilities there, there will be some drone operators there, these are -- so-called enablers. This is to have the facilities in place if there was a need for U.S. troops to actually deploy to Poland.

And why would that be? Because Russia is next door. This is a move to put a further U.S. Military wedge against Russia in eastern Europe. We've already seen the Russians build up in Crimea, we've seen them build up certainly along the Ukraine border in the east.

So this is part of the effort to send that message to Moscow that the U.S. is in eastern Europe willing to back up its allies there. The question always is, is Vladimir Putin listening.

KING: Is he listening? It's a great question. And Barbara, quickly before you go, President Duda getting a pretty rare treat, a flyover of two F-35 fighter jets during his visits. The two leaders will sign an agreement then step outside the White House and get to watch that. How significant of a gesture?

STARR: Well, it's very significant. These will be two of the U.S.' most highly complex, most expensive, about $90 million a plane, flying just outside the South Lawn. We understand over the southern edge of the White House complex. You do not see this happen. This of course is highly restricted air space in Washington, D.C. Even commercial planes don't fly there.

So they will have taken some steps to make it happen. This is something perhaps to try to encourage the Poles the government says it wants to buy the F-35 for its own armed forces. But at $90 million a copy, that's a very expensive piece of equipment may be some time off before the Poles actually are able to put pen to paper and sign a contract for the planes. But it is a gesture of goodwill, it is a gesture of military cooperation and allied effort from the U.S., John.

KING: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. And if you're watching in Washington and you're outside a bit later, keep your ears open, your eyes up.

CNN military and diplomatic analyst, our Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby joins the conversation. Barbara laid out the numbers there.


KING: So if you're Vladimir Putin, how annoying is this? I guess, let me ask the question that way. It's not like -- Barbara Starr, we're not sending more tanks, we're not sending, you know, artillery, battalions, but you're sending about a thousand more. How much of a poke?

KIRBY: He'll notice it. And I wouldn't be surprised if the foreign ministry in Moscow reacts to this today, some sort of public statement about how it's, you know, destabilizing and escalatory but it's not. I don't think you're going to see any kinetic, any actual move by the Russians to sort of counteract it. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if they talk about boosting their own posture up on their western flank, maybe more exercises, that kind of thing.

I think if I'm Vladimir Putin, I'm much more bothered by the proposition that Poland might buy some F-35s. That's much more destabilizing for him.

KING: And we were talking about this earlier when we're not on the air about how it's been interesting to watch the president's prior meetings with President Duda in the sense that there's a narrative out there and the president, it's his own fault in some ways, you know, in the middle of the Russia investigation, I want to be friends with Vladimir Putin, it'd be good to have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin. Why is everybody so worried about Vladimir Putin?

So everyone thinks he is soft on Putin. But in his previous comments with this Polish president, he talked about Russian aggression.


KING: The question is does he believe what he's saying in a meeting?

KNOX: Yes, that is a great question. Apparently, he also -- he took that question today in the Oval Office. I don't know how he answered it yet.

But, yes, last time Duda was at the White House, they did a joint press conference and Duda described Russia as aggressive. And the president was asked whether he agreed and he basically said yes. Yes, they have been very aggressive referring to the annexation of Crimea, referring to the annexation of a couple of regions in Georgia. I don't know what he said today, but it'll soon to be a latest wrinkle in the president's on again, off again Russia remarks.

KING: Right. Because you make the point often it's who has the president's ear at any given moment that influences his thinking. And if you're the Polish president and you're in Washington now at this moment, here are some of the headlines back in Europe. "Russia, Belarus, Serbia to hold joint military drills on June 14th to 27th." A Reuters' headline, "Russia plans to deliver missiles to Turkey in July, U.S. takes dim view." Defense One, "U.S. Intelligence and Photos Detail Russian Military Buildup in Crimea."

So that should be of concern to any American president of course and to the Pentagon to the State Department.

[12:35:01] But if you live in the neighborhood, it's certainly of concern to you. And that has been one of the questions whether it's the president of Poland, whether you talk to the leaders from the Baltics. They've had this question about, will the president take a sustained interest in what they think is continued Russian destabilization in the neighborhood.


KNOX: Yes. The admiral were talking about this before the show, about how the really the big one is Turkey. The situation with the Russians sending in advance surface to air missiles to Turkey complicating the relationship that's already really, really complicated. They are a NATO ally but they've been acting in ways that show that they clearly view their national security interests as not the same as ours. And that's a very much bigger headache.

That dim view headline is a crazy understatement. The United States is moving to bar Turkish pilots from training on F-35s exactly because of that deployment. Because obviously giving them the technical know- how about how to fly an F-35 when they're also getting the technical know-how maybe to shoot them down is kind of problematic. But dim view, boy, it's more than that.

KING: Well played and well put. And again, this is another example, we talked about the importance substances of it. It's another example of how the president builds relationships and that he gets along very well. A lot of European leaders the president has tense relationships with whether it's over the Paris climate accords, past things he said about the NATO alliance.

The Wall Street Journal talks about this today. "Though Poland is a member of the European Union, its government expresses wariness toward the E.U. in keeping with Mr. Trump's own outlook toward the bloc. Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party also is culturally conservative, nationalistic skeptical on climate change and opposed to large-scale settling of refugees in Poland."

So, the president here has a like-minded leader.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. And I think also recall that Poland as one of the NATO countries that have met their defense spending obligations which has been a fixation for the president whenever the issue of NATO comes up. And the last time President Duda was here, I mean, perhaps he was joking at the time but he also talked about fort Trump as a base in Poland. And we've talked before about how foreign leaders, they have studied Trump, they know how to kind of suck up to him and kind of get on his good side.

KUCINICH: Flattery will get you everywhere.

KIM: Exactly.

KUCINICH: And in the same talk, this president doesn't like to say things that would upset a set a foreign leader in front of a foreign leader. It's rare if he does. So I'm actually very interested to hear what he answer to that question because he does seem to say what that person wants to hear when the cameras are on.

KING: Right, and it's important to note, we're waiting. The president did take questions, we'll have that tape for you momentarily.

Also up next or ahead for us, Jerry Nadler says 9/11 survivors should be treated with dignity and compassion as the House Judiciary Committee votes to provide additional funding to the 9/11 victims compensation fund.


[12:41:56] KING: Topping our political radar, this morning, the House Judiciary Committee approving additional funding for the September 11th victims compensation fund. That fund designed and created to pay for medical and other economic losses after the terror attacks. The funding was due to expire in 2020. Now the new money will go into (INAUDIBLE) after an emotional testimony by the former Daily Show host Jon Stewart yesterday asking Congress to reauthorize the fund. That bill out of the committee now heads to the full House floor.

2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke highlighting his support for the LGBTQ community today. This morning, he participated in a New York City pride run and he unveiled his plan for LGBTQ equality. That on the third anniversary of the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando. Among his proposals, O'Rourke says he would use executive authority to undo President Trump's ban on transgender American serving in the military. And O'Rourke says he would reinstate President Obama's anti- discrimination policies in the military, in schools, and in healthcare.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are at the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. It's important in the midst of an administration that has distinguished itself by its intolerance and its hatred and a rise in hate crimes each one of the last three years that we call to mind the heroic struggle that New York has represented for this entire country and take action.


KING: A later bit this afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders will explain what Democratic socialism means to him and what it's not. Sanders will argue that his policies evolve from Democratic icons such as FDR and combat the suggestion that his ideology and his policies are too far-left. He also plans to push back on the president who just yesterday targeted Sanders while in Iowa.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than 100 Democrats in Congress have signed up for the Bernie Sanders government takeover of healthcare. The Democrat party is really now the socialist party. The Democrats have never been more out of touch with the mainstream. They're totally out of touch.


KING: Senator Sanders did this in the last campaign, but more important in this campaign because while he has a strong position, Biden is the frontrunner and if he go state to state, Sanders has competition from Elizabeth Warren, he has competition from some of the newer fresher faces who are saying not so much about him but let's have something new. How important is this?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's pretty important because he is trying to distinguish himself as look, I've been doing this for a long time. And you have to say that he has been very consistent on his Democratic socialism really for decades.

KING: And forgive me for interrupting, and President Trump will not beat me by labeling me a far-left socialist.

ZELENY: Exactly.

KING: Right, because if Democratic voters want to beat Trump, that gives them pause, right?

ZELENY: For sure.

KUCINICH: And yet he does need -- Bernie Sanders does need to get out there and just define what it does mean to him before Trump can. Because Trump is going to -- no matter what he says, he's going to keep on not only Bernie Sanders but other Democrats.

ZELENY: Well, the size of their megaphones are probably slightly different.

KUCINICH: Slightly different -- but -- right. But this is why he has to get out there soon and get it out there before Trump can do that and it might not work. KNOX: And also they've been doing it. Like it's not before Trump can do it, they've been doing socialism equals Venezuela for a while now. I just -- as a Vermonter, I'm duty-bound to point out that as a mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders was awfully pragmatic, got him with the support of the police and the rest of it.

[12:45:02] And that it's interesting to see Vermont candidates when they leave Vermont become so portrayed as so much more radical than maybe they are.

KING: I'm from Massachusetts, we have the same experience sometimes. But you make -- it's an important point is that sometimes the labels, you know, there are some things in Bernie Sanders' records that are socialist or liberal or whatever. He's said things in the past especially way back but there are other things where you go, wait a minute. So you got to do the complexities of it.

But we're mentioning about he wants to make the case, hey, look, I won't let President Trump, you know, shove me so far-left. It's not just President Trump. He is about to be on a debate stage with his rivals, some of whom say, you know, Bernie that's too much too far or at least you're trying to get there too fast and we can't sell that to middle America.

KIM: And you have people like -- people are trying -- or Democratic candidates who are trying to put themselves more in the middle such as Hickenlooper or John Delaney who actively challenging the socialism label saying we're not a socialist party. But you also have people who are genuinely progressive shining that label as well. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are among the candidates who have been careful to kind of dance around that because they know that just that label alone, no matter how Bernie Sanders tries to redefine it, his opponent attack -- or that the republican party can use.

KING: And you have the split of Sanders and like minded Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would look at 2018 and say, we proved it, we can win on this message. Others would say no, look at the Senate races when you have to go statewide especially out in red states, it's harder to sell and candidates like that can't win. So the party itself is trying to figure out which is it.

ZELENY: Right. And Joe Biden was asked this morning about Bernie Sanders and this is the closest I think he's come to really agreeing to answer a question about someone else. He said I believe that he is sincere in his beliefs and he should say what he thinks. OK.

So, I mean, the reality here is we'll be interested to see what Elizabeth Warren says about this in sort of how she define herself. But we've not seen many policy speeches or big speeches from Bernie Sanders as we did last time, but, boy, he has so much more competition this time than four years ago.

KING: Right, he has the competition, he has to find his way. It'll be interesting to see what he says. We're waiting by any second now we're going to hear from the president of the United States, he's in the Oval Office. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You're talking about the census?


TRUMP: Well, I think that -- and I'm not overly involved in that, that's really a legal matter. But I think when you have a census and you're not allowed to talk about whether or not somebody is a citizen or not, that doesn't sound so good to me. Can you imagine you send out a census and you're not allowed to say whether or not a person is an American citizen?

In Poland they say, they're either the Polish or they're not, right? So I don't want to get you into this battle, but it's ridiculous. I think it's totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking.

But the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on it soon. I think when a census goes out, you should find out whether or not, and you have the right to ask whether that somebody is a citizen of the United States.

OK, yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are the U.S. troops ready for deployment in Poland?

TRUMP: Well, we're talking about it. That's one of the reasons that we're here. A lot of money is going to be spent on a facility, a military facility, a great one and in a good location in Poland and actually it'll be spread over a little area. But basically one primary facility, we'll see how it works out. We're talking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider Russia as a threat to Poland and to Europe?

TRUMP: I hope not. Tell you what, we're with everybody and I hope not. I think that Russia will treat Poland with respect just like the rest of the world is treating. Poland has really built up a great country. You know, they get hurt unfortunately too often, right? Too often.

They're in the middle of everything. And when bad things happen, it seems that Poland is always the first one that's in there and it's unfortunate. No, I hope that Russia and Poland and Germany and everybody is going to get along. That's what I want. I want everybody to get along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can we get your reaction to the demonstrations in Hong Kong. Is China overplaying its hand here?

TRUMP: Well, there are massive demonstrations. I looked ago and that really is a million people. A lot of times people talk about they had 2,000 people but it was really 1,000 or was 200. I see it all the time. I see it all the time. But when you look at this demonstration, they said it was a million people. That was a million people. That was as big a demonstration as I've ever seen. So I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they sending a message to China with these demonstrations?

TRUMP: I don't know what they're sending. I mean, that's a demonstration that they're having. I understand the reason for the demonstration. But I'm sure they'll be able to work it out. I hope they're going to be able to work it out with China.


TRUMP: Yes? Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you think about that crises initiative of central and eastern (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crises initiative that was (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, we're going to be discussing a lot of those elements today.



TRUMP: No, because we have great internal polling.

[12:50:00] There were fake polls that were released by somebody that is -- it's ridiculous. No, we are winning in every single state that we polled.

We're winning in Texas very big, we're winning in Ohio very big, we're winning in Florida very big. There were fake polls that were either put out by the corrupt media because much of the media in this country unfortunately is corrupt. I have to tell you that, Mr. President. And some is excellent, but some is very bad.

Those are fake numbers but you know when you're going to see that, you're going to see that on Election Day. On Election Day, you're going to see it. It was the same thing -- I had the same thing for a long period of time in 2016. I was getting these terrible poll numbers and I didn't see it because I'd have tremendous crowds and my opponent would have almost nobody. And I said I think that we're going to win the state of Michigan, we did.

I think we're going to win the state of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and we won them all. And now I have the same stuff. They're giving out phony polls. No, these are polls that we have that nobody saw. And we do very little polling because I'm not a huge believer in polling. I think you go out there and you fight and you don't really need polls. You have to -- you need ideas more than polls. But we have some internal polling, very little, and it's unbelievably strong. The strongest I've ever been is exactly today.


TRUMP: No, they're not advisers. It's fake news. You don't understand what I'm saying. Those advisers don't exist. They don't exist.

It's made up by the newspapers. It's fake news.


TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the House and Senate committees have subpoena power, how is this going to play out over the next two years?

TRUMP: Well, I think what the Democrats are trying to do because they know they're going to lose the election so they're going to give this a shot. They're going to just every day they're going to be doing more and more after, after. I don't know if you have this, Mr. President, but we have people that are totally out of control. It's the only way they think they can win the election. So we'll see what happens.

But at some point, the Mueller report spoke, they were very disappointed. It said no collusion and no obstruction and no nothing. And in fact it said we actually rebuffed your friends from Russia, that we actually pushed them back, we rebuffed them. So the Democrats were very unhappy with the Mueller report. So now they're trying to do a do-over or a redo and we're not doing that. We gave them everything, we were the most transparent presidency in history. We gave them everything.

And you and I, we've all had this conversation many times before. There's never been anybody so transparent. Gave them 1.5 million documents. We gave them hundreds of people. I gave them lawyers which I didn't have to give. I didn't have to give anybody. We gave them everybody.

And people that didn't like Donald Trump, 18 Trump hater, 18 Democrats and they were Trump haters and they were supporters in some cases of Hillary Clinton, they made the decision. And Bob Mueller, no fan of Donald Trump, I'm no fun of his, and Bob Mueller came out with a report that said no collusion and by the way, and led to no obstruction. So now the Democrats want to try and win the election so they just keep it going. And I think the American public is not going to stand for it.

I'll tell you what, the Democrats should be doing, they should be working on the border, they should work -- be working on drug pricing and they should be working on infrastructure where we could get that done very quickly. But they don't have any time to do anything. And I think it's going to be a tremendous day for us. It's a year and a half now until the election. I think it's going to be a tremendous day for us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you expect to get out of your meeting with President Xi at the G20? And also, can you update us on the agreement you have with Mexico that you alluded to --

TRUMP: We expect to have a meeting with President Xi. We're doing very well with respect to China. We're taking in billions and billions of dollars which we never took in before. The tariffs are -- have been, you know, very strong. We have 25 percent of $250 billion and tremendous money is flowing into our treasury.

China is subsidizing those companies, so our people are not paying for it. If you look, our people are not paying for it. China is subsidizing those companies so that people continue to work.

Now, the problem for China is that a lot of companies are leaving China because they don't want to pay the tariffs. But we're doing very well. And I think I have a feeling that we're going to make a deal with China because I really don't believe that China wants to continue the problem that they really caused themselves because we had a deal done. Almost I would say all of the tough points were negotiated.

They were negotiated and they were agreed to and everything was finished. And then China told us they can't agree to things that they already agreed on. All right. And that's OK.

So I said that's OK, we're going to put tariffs on. Twenty-five percent on $250 billion.

[12:55:01] Now we have another $325 billion left, and if we don't make a deal, we're going to put a tariff on that too. And the United States is making more money than they've ever made ever, ever before from China. I'd like to make a deal, but we'll see what happens. But I can tell you as much as I'd like to, China wishes they had that deal do all over again because what they did was wrong.

You can't renegotiate a deal. We had a deal that was done and they wanted to renegotiate. You can't do that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know, Mr. President (INAUDIBLE). Are you going to --

TRUMP: I think I will. We haven't picked a date, but we will. I just had an incredible time, that speech was special from the standpoint of the people of Poland, and I know it was considered a very important speech. You people even gave me very high marks on that speech. I could say it, but I don't want to say it, but some people said it was the best speech ever made by a president in Europe. But I did not say that, I'm just quoting other people. But it was a great day. The two folks who treated us so great, I'll never forget it. We won't forget our trip to Poland. Very, very tremendous, special people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how concerned are you about backsliding on democracy in Poland?

TRUMP: Quiet, quiet. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how concerned are you about backsliding on democracy in Poland, and will that be --

TRUMP: I'm not concerned. I know the president very well. I think the people and the leadership of Poland very well. I'm not concerned at all. By the way, Poland is doing so well and they know if they do backslide, they won't be doing well like they are doing right now.

They've probably never done better economically. They're like us. The U.S. has never done better economically than we're doing right now. They don't want to backslide, they won't back slide.

And besides that, they owe us a lot of money because they're buying a lot of things, right? So that's important. So they have to do well. We have to make sure they do well.

We're very, very happy with Poland. You may want to say something about that.

PRESIDENT ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLAND: Someone cheated you. There is no problems with democracy in Poland, really. Everything is excellent.

TRUMP: That's what I hear.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are places that Poland says they want to build. Is this (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: This would be a -- certainly a statement that the U.S. would be making. I don't talk about permanence or non-permanence but this would be a statement that the U.S. is making.

Steve, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many troops are you talking about?

TRUMP: Well, they're talking about 2,000 troops, but we'd be taking them out of Germany or we'd be moving them from another location. There would be no additional troops to Europe. We'd be moving them from another location.

And as you know, we have 52,000 troops in Germany. And Germany is not living up to what they're supposed to be doing with respect to NATO, and Poland is. I have to congratulate you. Thank you very much. But Poland is paying the max, the max will be raised. I raised over a hundred billion dollars last year from countries that were not paying and it wasn't fair to the United States. So, we put up -- and they put up over a hundred billion dollars more. But as you know, Germany is at one percent, they should be at two percent and they're not getting there fast.

And we have 52,000 troops in Germany, we've had them there for a long, long time. So we'd be probably moving a certain number of troops to Poland if we agree to do it. Poland is going to build a phenomenal facility in a very good location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're not totally convinced that you want to do this?

TRUMP: We haven't totally made up the decision, no. We haven't finalized anything. But the facility itself would be world class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like this facility to be named fort Trump?

TRUMP: Well, that's up to them. I have nothing to do with naming it fort Trump. That's all I need, fort Trump. You people would have a field day with that, right?

No, that's up to them. They can name it whatever they want. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for allowing us --

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any moment about -- your speech in Poland was brilliant so --

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- thank you very much.

TRUMP: Did everybody here that? No. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a question -- an open question, can you comment about that (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: So energy is a tremendous asset that we have. Since I'm president, we became the largest energy producer in the world. And we now are shipping a lot of energy offshore and to different countries. Vietnam just made a tremendous purchase of coal from West Virginia. We're a tremendous energy producer now in all forms of energy.

And it's actually within a year especially if I get certain pipelines built, it won't even be close. We'll be double what other countries are. It used to be Saudi Arabia and Russia, now it's United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. So we've made tremendous strides.

Poland is buying a lot of LNG. It's going to buy billions and billions of dollars worth of LNG from us and we appreciate that.

DUDA: This is a result of our common initiative.