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Trump Sets Stage For Conflict At G-7, Vowing To Escalate Trade War With China, Threatening France With Tariff On Wine; Trump Holds Meetings With World Leaders At G-7 Summit In France; Florida Man Found Guilty Of Manslaughter In Parking Lot Shooting In Stand Your Ground Case; Trump Announces New Tariffs On China As Trade Ware Dispute Intensifies; Will Trump & Melania Receive A Warm Welcome At G-7?; Trump A Big Proponent Of Bringing Russia Back Into The G-8 Fold; Soon: Official Welcome Dinner For World Leaders At The G-7 Summit. Aired 1- 2p ET
Aired August 24, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And President Trump arrived in France this morning amid global disputes that are threatening unity between allies. And over the next three days, those leaders will discuss everything from trade and economic issues to climate change and ongoing tension with Iran and North Korea.
Before departing for the summit, President Trump set the stage for conflict, vowing to escalate a trade war with China and threatening to hit France with a tariff on wine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want them doing anything having to do with taxing unfairly our companies. Those are great American companies. And, frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies. It's very unfair.
And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine or doing something else. We'll be taxing their wine like they've never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Again, at any moment, we'll see the president and others at the G-7, who will get that dinner going.
Meantime, who we see now is Jim Acosta.
Jim, boy, that set the stage for what could be a really delightful encounter between France and the U.S., we're going to tax you on wine. So how are things likely to play out?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw the two leaders earlier this afternoon, Fredricka, President Trump and Emmanuel Macron. They were having lunch. The cameras were there as the two men were starting to talk to one another.
We do expect them to get into these trade and tax issues. But there was no frostiness on display when the two leaders were talking to reporters earlier today.
Let's take a listen and see how that played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We look forward to it. And we actually have a lot in common, Emmanuel and I. We've been friends for a long time. And every once in a while, we go at each other a little bit, not very much. We get along very well. We have a very good relationship. It's sort of, I can say, a special relationship. We all remember the Eiffel Tower dinner. That was a very good beginning. And we have some really great things to talk about.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: (INAUDIBLE) -- the economy (INAUDIBLE) - (INAUDIBLE) -- we fix a great part of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So it's an interesting dynamic, Fredricka, because, typically, you see the president sort of puffing out his chest and making these sorts of hyperbolic statements before the summit goes on. You saw the president last night talking about taxing French win in retaliation for some of the taxes that the French are applying on the technology sector of the U.S.
But the president did, as you saw on that video, did not take the opportunity to do that in front of the cameras. A lot of these discussions go on behind the scenes.
And after these various summits that we've seen with the president and some of these world leaders, you'll get some of these comments from various officials filling us in, in terms what's happening behind the scenes. So far, we really haven't gotten a readout in terms of how that discussion went once the cameras went away.
But as you've been seeing over the last several days, Fredricka, the president has been in a pretty hostile mood when it comes to trade, major U.S. trading partners. He's been that way with China. He has been that way with European leaders over here. And I suspect that is going to continue.
The question is whether or not -- and this is an interesting part of this discussion -- whether or not he does this to their faces in front of the cameras. My guess is that he won't. We may have to just wait until we get some of those readouts from officials in terms of what happened behind the scenes during these discussions here at the G-7 -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: So, Jim, these nations are expected to talk about a number of things, from climate change, gender equality, world security and, of course, the global economic picture. Does the White House feel like, of those items, there's any concrete, substantive, decision or goal that it's trying to reach?
ACOSTA: I mean, I think that is something we're going to watch, Fredricka. One of the things that I thought was very fascinating heading into this G-7 summit is that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting this summit, said that there's an immediate environmental threat happening right now in Brazil, in the Amazon with those fires down there. Obviously, those fires have been caused, to some extent, by the changing climate.
As you know, President Trump believes climate change is a hoax, Fredricka, so there's not going to be lot of common ground on that. Emmanuel Macron was also a huge believer and continues to be a huge believer in the Paris Climate Accord President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the climate accord.
So when these climate discussions come up, I suspect we're going to see some disagreement between these two leaders and between the president and the other leaders gathered for this summit.
[13:04:57] One of the other things that came up just before the president was arriving, is that the head of the E.U., Donald Tusk, was taking President Trump to task and essentially saying that some of these comments that the president makes before he goes to these summits do not set the table very well for those discussion when they eventually take place.
Now, there's going to be a dinner later on this evening. We'll see how things play out and whether we see some of that frostiness on display.
But as we've been covering this president, Fredricka, as you know, over the last couple of years, he tends to get along with these autocrats and dictators at these various summits, like the G-20 and so on than he does with longstanding major U.S. allies and partners. And I suspect we'll see more of that dynamic on display.
And as that happens, we'll be bringing it to you -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jim Acosta, we look forward to more reporting from you. Thank you so much.
All right, let's talk further. With me now is Luis Gutierrez, a former Democratic congressman from Illinois and a CNN political commentator, and Scott Jennings, who is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and a CNN political commentator.
Good to see you both.
WHITFIELD: Scott, you first, you first.
The president has threatened France with, you know, a tax on wine. But then we did see them in the luncheon, sitting across the table from one another. It looked amicable and fine.
But tell me how the president believes, you know, this is productive to issue these kinds of threats before actually meeting with these allies, and if it will bear fruit at all from the upcoming G-7 summit. SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the president is
doing what he told the American people he would do when he ran, and that's not allow the United States to be taken advantage of in trading relationships. I don't expect the G-7 to produce any acrimonious outcomes between us and our allies over there.
I do expect there to be to be a lot of conversation about what the United States is doing with China. My advice to the president would be try to rally our allies to join us to stand up to Chinese cheating, to what the Chinese are doing to people all over the world, stealing intellectual property and so on and so forth. That would be a very productive use of the president's time.
So I would prefer not to antagonize our allies but, instead, rally them to support the president standing up to China on their bad trade habits.
WHITFIELD: So, Luis, you know, the global economic slowdown is a big concern for all of these leaders at the G-7. Many of those countries do fear that this U.S. trade war with China is driving down, you know, driving the slow down. But then the president shows no signs of backing off.
This is what he had to say before departing for the summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our economy is doing great. We're having a little spat with China and we'll win it. We put a lot of tariffs on China today. As you know, they put some on us, we put a lot on them. We're up to about $550 billion. They've been hitting us for many, many years for over $500 billion a year, taking out of our country much more than $500 million a year. So we want that stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Luis, does it appear as though the president is working toward something to end that?
LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is only going to get worse. And if the president continues down this avenue, I think there's going to be a global recession. It's not only going to hit the United States, but across the globe, specifically with our allies.
Look, just yesterday, in the tit for tat, the president woke up in a good, said, oh, we have the strongest economy in the world. Then China said, we're going to impose $25 billion in tariffs. And what did the president do? He cost the American companies and the consumer over $25 billion in increased costs.
WHITFIELD: It's actually $75 billion.
GUTIERREZ: I think we should take -- the $75 billion. So, Fredricka, when I look at this, I remember Obama, he got into this
tit for tat with China on tires. In the end, every study that's been done said Obama saved 1,200 jobs, but we lost 4,000 in the retail sector. And guess how much every job saved cost the American taxpayer? Over $900,000. It would have been simpler simply to make 1200 people millionaires.
Look, this does not work.
The president of the United States has to stop attacking our allies and out friends and sit down at a table with them to figure out how we work together.
Not by inviting Russia back and saying, well, you really didn't do anything wrong, other than, oh, let me see, an airliner that was taken out of the sky and hundreds of people killed and murdered, an invasion of the Ukraine, and the sovereignty and the threat to the rest of Europe and now we want them to be back for the G-8 and not the G-7.
[13:10:03] Obama -- we could learn from Obama and the mistakes that were made then because all it did was cost us jobs and cost us money and nothing was resolved.
WHITFIELD: So, Scott, you know, the president's response to Beijing announcing the $75 billion tariffs is, OK, we're going to give you -- we're going to tax you another 10 percent, and then that's September 1st, and then on October 1st, it could go as high as 20 percent, 25 percent.
Why is the president -- why does he feel so confident that this is the way -- this is the answer? This is the way to get at China, especially on the stage of the G-7 where are of these allies are worried about how it might be able to deal with the U.S.?
JENNINGS: Yes, a good way to frame that question, Fredricka. I think that there are two issues. One, the president's political promises. He ran promising to stand up to China. I've worked for a lot of presidential candidates who promised to stand up to China. No one really ever did it. Trump has checked this box about, hey, I'm actually going to follow through on the threats.
The second box that is not yet checked is, how do we get out of it? What's the end game? And he's making a big bet. His bet is that China won't be able to hold out. They've got to create like 25 million jobs a year, you've got a massive rural popular that enjoys not being in poverty as much as it was. He's betting there's going to be enough internal pressure on China that they will eventually come to the table and make a deal.
It is a huge bet. If it pays off, he'll look like a hero for finally doing whatever president says they'll do but never does.
JENNINGS: If it doesn't pay off, if China decides to try to wait him out, then his reelection campaign could be in peril because, as my friend, Luis, says, it could spark an economic slowdown. So it's a really big bet, a high-risk, high-reward type of maneuver.
WHITFIELD: Luis, it didn't help that the president or at least people inside his circle at the White House have said that he really didn't want to be a part of this G-7 summit. I mean, how does that set the stage for those who are looking forward to having face-to-face time with the most powerful person in the world, the president of the United States?
GUTIERREZ: I think the president -- Fredricka, the president has to understand --
WHITFIELD: I love the way you shrugged your shoulders.
GUTIERREZ: -- to go play golf every weekend. He has to work and he has to work with other leaders. Just listen this week, he told American companies, you all got to get out of China, you all have to leave China, find other places to make partnerships and make investments? Really?
I thought one of the basic things was -- even my friend, Scott, was, oh, those Democrats are Socialists. Last time I checked, it was Socialist countries that controlled the means of production and told people what they can and cannot do, like China and the former Soviet Union. Now he's acting a though -- and he doesn't even have that power.
Think of the uncertainty that this creates in our economy, for major corporations, that have to make investments not for tomorrow but for five and 10 years.
And lastly, yes, Scott, you're right, he this promise but he also made a promise to American farmers and they're going bankrupt and it's hurting them by the billions of dollars.
WHITFIELD: We're going to leave it there.
JENNINGS: If I might, on that point, Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Go ahead, go ahead.
JENNINGS: Yes, I just -- look, I think that what the president is trying to communicate to American companies is this, if China will not play by the rules, if they keep stealing your intellectual property, if they keep cheating us, and not just America but all the other countries of the world -- you know, everybody is playing by one set of rules and China cheats.
He's signaling to American companies, maybe it's time for you to look to set up infrastructure in other countries.
I think one of the things, though, is the cart may be before the horse. We don't have the kind of manufacturing infrastructure in other countries yet that could facilitate moves out of China.
But the president is not wrong. If you're doing business in a country that's cheating you and stealing from you, it might be time to look for a better place to do business with more honest trading partners.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now.
GUTIERREZ: This is a country that holds more of our debt than anyplace in else in the world, China.
WHITFIELD: Luis Gutierrez, Scott Jennings, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, the U.S./China trade war ramps up after both sides impose a new round of tariffs on each other. So we're looking at how that direction affects the U.S. economy and your finances.
[13:14:23] Plus, a Florida man found guilty of manslaughter after he shot and killed another man over a parking spot. How a change in the legal strategy over the state's Stand Your Ground law may have affected the case.
WHITFIELD: It was another test of a Stand Your Ground law during a trial in Florida. Michael Drejka was accused of shooting Markeis McGlockton in a dispute over a parking spot. And they initially told police it was a case of Stand Your Ground but later said it was actually self-defense.
It took the jury six hours of deliberating and here is what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED JURY FOREWOMAN: The State of Florida versus Michael Drejka, case number 1809851CF. As to the charge of manslaughter, we the jury find as follows as to the defendant in this case, the defendant is guilty of manslaughter as charged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Both the prosecution and the defense used security video that captured the shooting to try to prove their cases.
Here is what Drejka said to police during his interrogation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Was he charging after you?
MICHAEL DREJKA, FOUND GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER: Two steps running.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: You're saying he was running?
DREJKA: Well, it would have been running when he got behind the car.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: What I if told you that I looked at the video and, at time in point does he come running up towards you? He actually takes a step back.
DREJKA: I would disagree.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: And then you shoot him just one time, correct?
DREJKA: One time, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: OK.
DREJKA: To neutralize.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Just neutralize it?
DREJKA: Just neutralize and that's it. There's no reason to -- I shoot to save my own ass and that's that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. With me know Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman, as well.
Good to see you both.
So, Avery --
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you, too.
Why would he, Avery, Drejka's lawyers, have him drop the Stand Your Ground claim?
[13:20:06] FRIEDMAN: Well, he didn't actually have a choice. The Stand Your Ground claim is a defense. In other words, prosecutors have to determine whether or not a defendant is going to be immune from prosecution.
The problem with Stand Your Ground, you can talk to many law enforcement, it creates a problem because it hands over another defense. And the difficulty is that, instead of neutralizing violence, Stand Your Ground increases violent resolution.
So it seemed pretty easy, although the Pinellas County sheriff, Fredricka -- you're not going to believe this -- took three weeks to figure out whether it was Stand Your Ground in the first place. Finally, the state attorney came in and charged him. So Stand Your Ground in this case, I thought, was a phony
justification by the defendant, made no sense. And it shows the fallacy of Stand Your Ground laws.
WHITFIELD: So, Richard, how much of an impact, you now, was this -- did this video make?
RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Fred, in all these types of cases where there are audio recordings or video recordings, that can be fatal and dispositive for the case.
HERMAN: The attorneys can use all their imagination in the world to try to spin it and gaslight what people are seeing. But in actuality, in this particular instance, McGlockton was stepping back. He was moving away.
HERMAN: And that's the problem for the self-defense play --
WHITFIELD: Would the defense attorneys would have seen that, too?
HERMAN: No, they didn't, Fred. And what they tried to say was, listen, you can't look at it in slow motion. Look at it in real time. Look at the circumstances. Look at the emotions. Look at -- and they claim that McGlockton was the aggressor by pushing Drejka down. And they tried to spin it, Fred.
But you can't spin it. You look at it, McGlockton is stepping -- he is retreating and --
HERMAN: And something more important, Fred, is that the judge allowed in prior bad acts evidence under the 404-B rules of evidence. This Drejka had an incident five months earlier at the same spot where there was a black man in a car and he threatened to shoot him if he didn't move out of his spot.
So that's going to come back. That definitely affected the jury. And it's going to threaten the sentencing. He's going to get at least 25 years, maybe the max, 30 years.
HERMAN: And he killed someone. I mean, he just killed him. And there's nowhere to go with this, Fred. The video was dispositive. That's what did the case.
WHITFIELD: And so, Avery, even the use, I guess, of Drejka in that video just saying to neutralize, I mean, it was -- that's kind of cold. FRIEDMAN: Well, it pulverized, it pulverized the defense. But it also shows that, since 2005, half the states in this country are passing Stand Your Ground laws. Instead of trying to neutralize violence, you have a law that now gives power to individuals.
Everybody in Florida, like Drejka, becomes Wyatt Earp. Instead of having an OK Corral gunfight, the duty to retreat, which has been the standard law, has been pulverized with laws like this.
The fact that the sheriff couldn't even decide to charge him demonstrates how outrageous the Stand Your Ground laws are. And all it did was prolong the agony of the family who suffered because of what now shows a homicide, beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, Richard, case closed?
HERMAN: Yes, case closed. There's nowhere to go.
HERMAN: Appeals are not going to be effective then.
Fred, don't get so hung with the Stand Your Ground, OK? It's a self- defense case. And was the -- did Drejka act reasonably --
HERMAN: -- in taking his gun and shooting? Was he in imminent fear of great bodily harm or death? The answer is no, no. McGlockton was retreating. So there's no self-defense here. There's no Stand Your Ground defense.
The man's convicted of manslaughter and he's going to face substantial time in prison.
FRIEDMAN: That's right.
WHITFIELD: Richard Herman, Avery Friedman, always good to see you, gentlemen. Thank you.
FRIEDMAN: See you soon.
HERMAN: Thanks, Fred.
FRIEDMAN: Take care.
[13:25:14] WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, as the trade war between the U.S. and China intensifies, President Trump threatens new tariffs. Is there any end in sight?
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Trump is defending the trade war escalation with China despite
concerns of a global economic slowdown as he meets with G-7 leaders this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our economy is doing great. We're having a little spat with China, and we'll win it. We put a lot of tariffs on China today. As you know, they put some on us, we put a lot on them. We're up to about $550 billion. They've been hitting us for many, many years for over $500 billion a year taken out of our country, much more than $500 billion a year. So we want that stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The latest signs of concern erupted again yesterday when China said it would put new tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods.
With me now is Jamie Metzl. He's a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and was on staff at the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.
Jamie, good to see you.
JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL & FORMER MEMBER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Nice to see you.
WHITFIELD: Beyond the markets, what's going to be the short-term consequence of Trump telling U.S. companies to pull out of China, don't do business with China and China and U.S. slapping tariffs?
METZL: Well, certainly, President Trump is saying he hereby declares, quote, unquote, "that American companies should stop doing business with China." That's probably not going to change anything.
But this trade war and this escalation of tariffs on both sides has a real threat, one of just harming massively the U.S. and the global economy. And, two, is leading toward an increasing decoupling of the U.S. and Chinses economies.
And certainly, China has been a very bad actor in international economic affairs and has really abused the privilege of the access that it's had.
But if our goal is to build a stable global economic structure, we need to have a president here in the United States --
[13:30:00] METZL: And certainly, China has been a very bad actor in international economic affairs and has really abused the privilege of the access that it's had.
But if our goal is to build a stable global economic structure, we need to have a president here in the United States who is trying to achieve that. And it very unclear what President Trump is trying to do. And because the markets don't like that kind of uncertainty and
certainly companies don't like that kind of uncertainty, we going to see --
WHITFIELD: Though you heard the president. He was like 600 points is no big deal to the president.
METZL: It's 600, yes, but it's 600 and then what? There's a lot of fear the U.S., the U.S. economy is really teetering right now. We're doing better than many other economies. And so we need that kind of security and stability and continuity.
And the president of the United States, traditionally, has an important role to play in calming markets. But what this president is trying to do is create chaos. And that is going to ultimately hurt us and hurt the world.
WHITFIELD: So earlier today, I spoke with the head of the National Farmers Union, and he's saying that farmers are caught in the middle of this. He says, in fact, what the president is doing is just making matters worse. So will they or other businesses be able to get back the market share that they have been losing in a very big way?
METZL: Probably not. The question is, will there be a deal at the end of this? If President Trump's game is to create this chaos and, at the end, use this moment to secure a deal, that could potentially be helpful. I don't want to deny that possibility.
But if the goal is just to sow chaos or to lead toward a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies, that means that the farmers in the United States are going to be really just screwed, to use the technical term.
WHITFIELD: The U.S. is also squabbling with China over territory and North Korea, among other things. So when does this trade war turn into a national security issue for the U.S.?
METZL: It already is. I mean, we have to see the trade issues in the context of the overall relationship between the United States and China.
China is very aggressively trying to turn the South China Sea into its own national lake in complete violation of international law. They're militarizing the South China Sea. Certainly, China, for many years, could have done much more to rein in the North Koreans. But they've chosen not to do that. So all of these pieces are connected.
And I actually think it's right for the president of the United States to be far tougher on China that his predecessors have been. But there has to be a goal. All of this has to lead toward a vision of the future that is a future that is going to help the United States. And I'm not seeing any kind of evidence of that kind of strategic thinking or planning.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jamie Metzl, thanks so much.
METZL: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, we're just moments away from the official welcoming ceremony at the G-7. Live pictures right now of the host city in France. President Trump and Melania Trump are on their way there now. But will they receive a warm welcome? We're live, next.
[13:36:50] WHITFIELD: Gorgeous near-sunset in France in the host city of the G-7. The official welcoming ceremony for these world leaders of the G-7 will actually begin momentarily.
President Trump and the first lady are on their way. But after a series of attacks on U.S. allies, how warm will that welcome be?
Even before departing for the summit, the president increased tensions, openly criticizing German economic policy and threatening to hit France with a tariff on its wine. All of this as Trump vows to escalate a trade war with China.
And shortly after arriving in France, President Trump actually sat down with the French President Emmanuel Macron and, despite the president's criticisms, he says he has high hopes for a successful summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So far so good. The weather is perfect. The guests are fantastic. Everybody is getting along. And I think we'll accomplish a lot this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, joining me from France.
Jim, give us a sense of this fractured unity among the world leaders just after the president sends all these attacks their way.
ACOSTA: Yes. Well, Fredricka, this is not a French holiday romance that you're seeing unfolding at this G-7 summit. You're going to see the president, and perhaps we won't see it as much publicly as you saw in that video you just played a few moments ago. The president and French president, Emmanuel Macron, they were all smiles. It was a pretty even-keeled picture there.
But behind the scenes, as we've seen in previous G-7s involving the president, it can be pretty testy behind the scenes.
As you saw, the president, as he was leaving Washington, talking about slapping tariffs on French wine. That is not going to sit well with the European leaders.
And the European Council president, Donald Tusk, was taking the president to task earlier today, talking to reporters saying that he hopes that the leaders of the G-7 can avoid what he called senseless disputes and said that these trade wars that the president is involved in, going on around the world, that that could lead to a recession. The head of the E.U. used the word "recession."
So it's pretty clear that there's some frostiness between the president and some of the leaders gathered at this G-7.
He gets along very well with the Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe. We're going to see the new relationship on display the president and the U.K. P.M., Boris Johnson. That's going to be fascinating to watch.
But as we've seen before, while President Trump and President Macron have had a good relationship at times in the past, it has been chilly at times. And we may see some of that as they are very much opposed to one another on a whole range of issues. And it seems trade is becoming one of those issue as this G-7 gets going.
And we're going to see the dinner getting started in just a few moments, Fredricka. We'll see those world leaders gathering here in just a few moments, including the president and the first lady. So we'll be seeing those images shortly.
WHITFIELD: Among the things that the president disagrees with, with the rest of the G-7 leaders, is Russia. The president has been a big proponent of Russia --
ACOSTA: That's right.
[13:40:03] WHITFIELD: -- being brought back into the fold, resuming the G-8 status. But is he likely to have direct conversations with some of the allies there to further his concept of Russia coming back?
ACOSTA: I suspect some of that is going to come up. Donald Tusk, when he was talking to reporters here at the G-7, he rejected that idea. That idea was brought up. He said he could not go along with that kind of logic, was the way he described it to reporters.
Obviously, European leaders have a very different view of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the invasion and annexation of Crimea, which resulted in Russia being booted out of the G-8, and now it's the G-7 as a result of that.
And so, yes, I think you're going to see some of that flair up behind the scenes.
We're expecting the president to have a press conference with reporters on Monday, so I suspect we're going to get a readout of some of these conversations. But as is often the case with these summits, Fredricka, it's what officials tell us behind the scenes privately in terms of what goes on in these conversations. They can get quite testy at time.
That happened at the last G-7 in Canada last year, where you saw a number of officials talking to reporters after it was all said and done saying that there were some pretty contentious conversations that go on behind the scenes.
But as we've seen, Fredricka, this president does not always have a warm and fuzzy relationship with all these other major longstanding U.S. allies, as we see the president involved in some of these relationships around the world, whether it's with Vladimir Putin or the crown prince of Saudi Arabia or even Kim Jong-Un.
There's much more warmth on display in those relationships than we see often times with the president and these longstanding U.S. partners on the world stage -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thank you.
And of course, we'll keep an eye on when the president and the first lady arrive, along with other members of the G-7.
And we'll be right back.
[13:46:01] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
We're looking at pictures right now from France. There you see French President Emmanuel Macron. He has arrived first, of course, and his wife have arrived first and they're awaiting other leaders of the G-7 who are all to be in the welcoming dinner, to get under way in just a matter of moments.
All of these leaders meeting at a time when President Trump has been lashing out in a variety of ways toward a number of these alliances.
In the midst of this trade war, the president wanted to focus primarily on the U.S. economy, the world economy. But there are other things that these leaders want to talk about, everything from climate change to gender equality to women's empowerment, world security.
Also with Macron right there is the E.U. Council president, Donald Tusk. You heard from him earlier where he frowned on the idea that President Trump is proposing to welcome Russia to come back into the fold, bringing it back to G-8 status. And it was Donald Tusk earlier who said, well, if we're going to invite Russia, then I guess we might as well invite Ukraine as well in response to the 2014 Russia military intervention in Ukraine.
Let me bring in my panel because we can all talk about a host of things as we await the beautiful pictures coming from a very gorgeous near-sunset in the south of France. White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, back with me, CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, as well.
Jim, set the table for us because it would seem that this dinner might be a little tense. But of course, these are, you know, consummate diplomates, at least most of them, right? They're all going to put on a good face because they certainly want to advocate for their country and for world interests. But give me an idea of how potentially prickly it just might be.
ACOSTA: I think there's a great potential, Fredricka, for things to get prickly at this G-7. And we may see some of that at this working dinner this evening.
You know, the host TV cameras, as we call them, will be inside capturing a lot of these images. They won't be there to catch every moment, I suppose, but you may see some of this frostiness that's on display.
You just mentioned Donald Tusk, who is the head of the E.U., the European Council president. He's been saying a whole host of things today that were very sharply critical of the president.
Typically, going into these G-7s, as you know, Fredricka, you just don't hear that kind of language used that we heard from the European Council president aimed at the president of the United States. But you're hearing it at this G-7 summit because the president has really rattled some nerves over here on the side of the Atlantic.
Donald Tusk was saying earlier today that trade wars, like the kind that the president is waging, that those kinds of trade wars could lead to a global recession.
So, I mean, yes, they do use diplomatic language from time to time, but it sounds like, as this is just opening up, that those diplomatic niceties are being set to the side because there are some serious disagreements between the U.S. and these European partners in the G-7, no question about it.
WHITFIELD: And Macron is welcoming there the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte.
When I look at the list of, you know, the members of the G-7, I think it may be Italy may be the standalone country that the president hasn't insulted just ahead of this summit.
So, Sam, you know, these are the world's leading industrialized nations, economic leaders who are here. But this is also -- and they are going to be talking about global security. You know, what is top of mind for these leaders where they can find, you know, real common ground on global security interests?
[13:50:05] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, we have two extra agendas here. As Jim and you just discussed, part of the reason there's so much public focus and acrimony between Donald Tusk and President Trump is because President Trump tweeted about so many of the issues on the G-7 agenda --
WHITFIELD: And there's the new U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, arriving.
But go ahead. VINOGRAD: Well, Donald Trump tweeted about --
VINOGRAD: -- so many of the issues that typically would be handled behind closed doors.
So rather than going to G-7 dinner -- and I attended the G-8 at Camp David with President Obama where the Russians were present. There were a lot of issues that we didn't agree on, but most of them were discussed behind closed doors rather than before Air Force One landed on the ground to avoid the kind of foundation that leaders are facing before they go this to will group dinner.
With respect to security issues, there's a lot of disagreements. Most of the other G-7 leaders disagree strongly with President Trump with respect to his approach to Iran and international sanctions with regards to Iran's nuclear program.
At the same time, they will want to talk about a coordinated response to Iran's ballistic missile program. Again, while there's difference on the nuclear portfolio.
Libya is another issue where leaders need to get together and talk about maintaining some kind of ceasefire.
And from a bilateral media perspective, there's likely to be a heavy focus on Afghanistan in light of the fact that the United States is expected to make a drawdown decision soon.
And finally, trade is going to be a discussion that Donald Trump is going to have both at the dinner and in a bilateral context.
Boris Johnson is another leader that Donald Trump has not yet insulted. Let's wait and see what the day brings. But he will want to talk to President Trump about tariffs, about bilateral trade, and about Brexit.
So we'll have to see what happens both in front of the cameras while waiting for the more official readouts about the private meetings.
WHITFIELD: And also with us historian, Tim Naftali.
And, Tim, I just wonder, you know, ordinarily, the G-7 summit is, you know, about building on alliances. It is finding common ground on global interests. But this one seems to be preceded by a lot of other stuff. You know, we can just call them distractions, if you will. But do you expect there to be any real results that come from this?
I think that is Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau who just stepped out. There he is.
But, Tim, you know, Macron tweeted out that expectations were low. What does that say ahead of a G-7 when usually there's common ground that is found?
I don't think Tim Naftali is with us on the phone, actually.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN (via telephone): I am.
WHITFIELD: Oh, there you are.
NAFTALI: As Sam was explaining, the G-7 is an opportunity for people who don't necessarily agree on everything to seek common ground. But it requires that the leaders all want for seek common ground. It is unclear that President Trump is in a mood or has the disposition to want to seek common ground.
I would stress there's more than noise surrounding this G-7. The president of the United States has threatened American business as part of his tariff war with China. This is unprecedented since 1807. It is not since 1807 has a president of the United States threatened to prevent Americans from doing business with the cub's largest trading partner.
And it was not a good outcome for Thomas Jefferson in 1807. So this is a huge change in American economic history that's happening today.
If you were a partner or so-called trading partner of the United States, I'd be very worried today. Donald Trump believes that he can dictate to his own people whether they trade in a foreign country or not.
So this is more than noise. I suspect that the president may not understand the consequences for international trade of the game that he is playing with China. But his partners at the G-7 are going to try to explain that to him.
NAFTALI: And he probably won't be happy with what he hears.
WHITFIELD: Or maybe he does have the realization and it is exerting power, exerting the power that he wields as the world's most powerful leader.
NAFTALI: Let me say that is what Thomas Jefferson thought. I know it's a long time ago. But what happened with the effect on the American economy was dramatic. The countries that he was trying to hurt, France and Britain, they didn't get hurt. It was the Americans that got hurt.
And the first secession movement in our history was in northern parts, in northern New England states that started talking about secession as a result of Jefferson's efforts to turn off U.S. trade.
[13:55:11] WHITFIELD: OK, go ahead, Sam. VINOGRAD: I was going to say, it's important to remind everyone of why the G-8 and now the G-7 was created. The reason that the leaders of the world at the time, most industrialized economically successful countries got together was to respond to global crises, whether it be the oil crisis, the global financial crisis and more.
The idea was that these countries should come together, work together, come up with a solution together to try to stabilize international markets and come up with a strategy to address international crises.
The difference, as Tim was referencing today, is that the leader -- or the previous leader of those discussions is now one of the primary reasons that these global crises are happening, particularly on the trade front.
So it is an unusual scenario in which a G-7 leader is an irritant when it comes to global financial stability and is viewed as the elephant in the room with respect to finding a solution.
So you could see a scenario whereby other G-7 leaders, maybe the G-6 is you will, G-6-plus-one are trying to figure out how to manage President Trump as they try to figure out how to manage potentially a global economic slowdown in thing in the ongoing wars.
WHITFIELD: And just to remind people that these seven nations represented by France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the U.S. and U.K.
And so, Jim, if the president has a goal, we know that -- we've learned publicly now that people in the White House have said that he really didn't want to come, he didn't want to attend, why should I even bother with the G-7. But he is here.
So is there a goal? You know, is there a way in which to describe what the president's goal might be? How will he consider this a success having attended?
NAFTALI:: Well, there are --
ACOSTA: I think that you have to look at this through a political --
WHITFIELD: Tim, I'm going to ask Jim first.
Go ahead, Jim.
NAFTALI: I'm sorry.
ACOSTA: Jim and Tim, we sound the same.
WHITFIELD: I know.
ACOSTA: Fredricka, I think that you have to look at this through the campaign 2020 lens as well. When the president goes to these sorts of summits, and especially this one as the G-7, and he strikes these sorts of populist and nationalist themes and talks about trade in this way, a lot of this is driven to excite his base back at home.
And so he is going to throw his weight around at this G-7 summit. He is going for push people around from time to time. He will say things that will upset Donald Tusk and the rest of these European bureaucrats over here because he knows that that plays well with his base heading into 2020.
WHITFIELD: And there's now the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
WHITFIELD: Just to interrupt there.
ACOSTA: Yes. No, exactly. He does this at the NATO summits a as well.
And speaking of Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, who is just arriving, we should note that the president and Shinzo Abe get along quite well. But from time to time, President Trump will threaten, you know, to put tariffs on Japanese products.
And so this has been a political tool that the president has used from time to time. It is branded, it is marketed as an economic tool. But by and large, you know, what he is trying to do at these various summits, when he does this, is excite a lot of his supporters that he has in his conservative base, people who, you know, quite frankly, perhaps were more aligned with the Democratic Party in years past, were Bernie Sanders supporters in years past, responding to these sort of trade issues.
He is trying to excite those folks heading into 2020. So I suspect you are going to hear a lot of that throughout this G-7 summit -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: And still to arrive, German -- Germany's Merkel. And the U.S.'s Trump still to arrive there.
And I wonder, you know, Tim, is the success, you know, of this summit predicated on the U.S. president?
Here now is Angela Merkel's car pulling up.
Is the success of the summit predicated on the U.S. president, just to touch on your point earlier, Tim, where, you know, it is the president of the United States who is the most powerful leader among the G-7 leaders, so is he the one to please?
NAFTALI: Well, my real concern is that success for the other six counties may not anymore involve working closely with the United States. They may find that it is in their economic interests, because of the disruptive nature of the Trump presidency, to bind themselves together much more closely. I mean, it would be wonderful if the president understood that there's
a need for foreign policy, that not all Americans statements abroad should be linked to domestic affairs. Which Jim was arguing, and I agree, that this president tends to think about everything as domestic politics.