Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Trump Takes Questions as G-7 Summit Ends. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And they were unwilling to do that. And we'll never have a deal if that happens. But it's going to happen, because they have to have a deal.

And as far as phone calls are concerned, secretary of the Treasury and other people have been receiving many calls. Not receiving, back and forth, many calls. China wants to make a deal and if we can, we will make a deal. We'll see.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, if I could ask you a little bit about your China strategy.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Macron talked a little bit about instability and the worry in the markets and around the globe about instability. One of the things that that comes from, as you --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You're talking about global economic instability?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't consider it instability.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But where it comes from is the back and forth and changing statements from yourself.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Sorry, it's the way I negotiate.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So my question is, is that a strategy? Is it a strategy to call President Xi an enemy one day and say that relationships are good the next day?

TRUMP: No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: It's the way I negotiate. It's done very well for me over the years and it's doing better for the country.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And I do think -- and I do think that, look, here's the story. I have people say, oh, just make a deal, make a deal. They don't have the guts and they don't have the wisdom to know that you can't continue to go on where a country is taking $500 billion -- not million, $500 billion with a B -- out every single year, $500 billion. You just can't do that. Somebody had to do this.

This should have been done by President Obama. It should have been done -- and Biden, Sleepy Joe. It should have been done by other people. It should have been done by Bush. It should have been done by Clinton. Double Bush. It should have been done. I'm doing it.

Let me tell you something else. North Korea should have been done a long time ago. I'm doing it. I'm doing a lot of things that I shouldn't have to be doing.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Please. Go ahead, please.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump, you've met Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said he was the right man for the job on Brexit.

TRUMP: I believe that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think Theresa May was the wrong woman? And do you think that Boris Johnson can actually get a deal with the E.U. before October the 31st?

TRUMP: Well, Theresa was unable to do the deal. I gave her my ideas as to doing the deal very early on, and you possibly know what they are. But I would have done that. She chose to do it her way and that didn't work out so well. I think she's a very, very good person and a good woman.

And I really believe that Boris Johnson will be a great prime minister. We like each other and we had a great two and a half days. I've been waiting for him to be prime minister for about six years. I told him, what took you so long.

I think he's going to be a great prime minister and, especially after spending a lot of intense time with him over the last couple of days. He's really -- he's very smart and very strong. And he's very enthusiastic.

And you know what else? He loves your country. He really loves your country. That came out maybe more than anything else.

Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: BBC New. President Trump, Boris Johnson is very keen on a trade deal with the USA. Some of his critics are worried that you're going to do over the U.K. in that deal.

TRUMP: No, no. I love the U.K.. I own property in the U.K.. I love the U.K. I have no idea how my property is doing because I don't care. But I own Turnberry and I own in Aberdeen and in Ireland. Great stuff.

I'll be honest with you, I think he's going to just do a great job as prime minister. It takes a lot. It's so many different elements to being a great prime minister. And you needed him.

I just think his time is right. This is the right time for Boris. This is the right time for Boris.

Go ahead, right here.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: State who you're there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: From ITV in the U.K. as well. You've obviously had a good few days with President Macron, who you appear to be doing business with, to use your favorite expression.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And after Brexit, who do you think will be your more important relationship, President Macron, France and the E.U., or Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom?

TRUMP: I think we're going to have just -- look, France is a great nation. It's being run -- a lot of things are happening. It's not easy what he's doing. He's changing certain ways. It's a very hard thing to do. I won't get into it. I'm going to let him sell his ideas.

But a lot of people don't disagree with his ideas. But it's a very hard thing to do if you're a great citizen of France, you love your country but you want to do the way you've been doing it for a long time. But maybe that's not working and maybe they have to do what he has to do.

[11:35:12] I think he's going to do a fantastic job, but it's very tough for him. I know how tough it is for him. He's been having a hard time and nobody would have an easy time. But I do believe he's doing the right thing.

Boris is different. It's a different kind of a deal. Boris has to try and do something with Brexit. It's very tough. I deal with the E.U.. It's a very, very strong group of people. They have their ideas and they're not easy to deal with, I will tell you.

We're very close, by the way, to making a deal with the E.U. I have to say this. We made a great deal with Japan and we're very close to maybe making a deal with the E.U.. Because they don't want tariffs. It's very simple. They don't want to tax cars. Mercedes Benz, BMW, they don't need a 10 percent or 25 percent tax.

But we're very close. I think we're going to make a deal with the E.U. without having to go that route. I may have to go that route, but maybe not. We're going to have a really fair deal. But the E.U. is another one we've been losing $180 billion a year for many years. That's a lot of money. How much can you take out of the piggy bank, right?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Which alliance will be more important, with the E.U. or with Britain?

TRUMP: Both. I don't want to say which. Look, I think that the -- I ask Boris, what is happening with England. They don't use it very much anymore. We talked about it. It was very interesting.

But the United Kingdom is a great, incredible place, it's an incredible nation and it's been one of our tremendous allies.

And another one happens to be Australia. He was here also. Scott is fantastic. In fact, we're honoring him and Australia at the White House in a very short period of time.

But I think that --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will you visit Australia?

TRUMP: At some point, I will, yes. At some point, I will. Also, Germany. Angela asked me to visit Germany. I'm going to be doing that, too.

I just think they're very different and they're going to going at it. They may have to get out. They may not make a deal. The European Union is very tough to make deals with. Very, very tough. Just ask Theresa May.

(CROSSTALK)

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. That Associated Press. I was hoping you could clarify last year you left the summit in Canada feuding with the summit host. This year, things seem to be a little bit different. You're talking about unity, you hugged President Macron on the stage. What is different?

And also, as President Macron said, he's passing you the baton of leading the multilateral institution. You ran on the platform of America First. What is

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now that you have a mandate for the international community, what are you going to do with it?

TRUMP: We had a good meeting. I had it out with one or two people where we disagreed in terms of concept. But we had a good meeting last year.

I would say this was a big step above in terms of unity and in terms of agreement. We have really great agreement on a lot of very important subjects. But last year was good also. Last year was good also. I think last year might have been a little bit underrated. You know?

Go ahead, Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In terms of the G-7 presidency, what do you want to do with it? What's your agenda?

TRUMP: We're going to do something hopefully special. We're going to build on what we have now. We've built on something really good. We're going to be going in with some great unity. If there was any word for this particular meeting of seven very important countries, it was unity. I think most important of all, we got along great. We got along great.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President -

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you very much, Mr. President. You just mentioned that Chinese vice premiere say China is willing to resolve this issue through calm negotiations.

TRUMP: No, I didn't say it. He did.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. And will the U.S. negotiate in the same manner?

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And also the other question --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: That was an easy answer.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So the U.S. will negotiate in the same manner?

TRUMP: Absolutely. Great respect for China. Great respect for the leadership of China. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And also the other question is that you say you definitely will invite Putin to join next year's summit?

TRUMP: I haven't said that, but I think that having President Putin in what was the G-8, he was a member of the G-8, and I heard he was a good member of the G-8. Having him in, I think, is more of an advantage. I think it's a positive for the world. I think it's a big positive for Russia. And it's something the group is discussing. They are discussing it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But just a few hours ago --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: People feel very much like me. Many people.

[11:40:01] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the Russian foreign minister is saying that it's not their foreign policy pursuit to return to the G- 8. What's your reaction to that?

TRUMP: We'll see. I know one thing. If they were invited back, I think they would be there. If they weren't, that's OK, too. I just think they would be better inside than outside. As I said before, I really do. I think they would be an asset. I think it would be a good thing.

You know, some of the things -- we were going in the room, and yesterday, in particular, we were discussing four or five matters and Russia was literally involved in all of those four or five matters. And a few of the people looked up and said, why aren't they here talking to us about it. What are we going to do now, go home, take it easy for a day? Although I'm not doing that. I don't take it easy.

But we're going to go home and start calling them at the end of the week and say, how about this? Could have been in the room. We had numerous things that we were discussing, numerous. We had a lot of things that we were discussing and it would have been easy if they were in the room.

If he was in the room, we could have solved so these things. Now they're just in limbo. But I have to say, with all of that, very little limbo. But somebody will to speak to them about some things and, frankly, they're not very complicated. But it would be easier if they were in the room.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Josh, go ahead. Josh?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, there was a significant talk at the summit about climate change. I know in the past you've harbored some skepticism of the science on climate change. What do you think the world should be doing about climate change and do you still harbor that skepticism?

TRUMP: I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I've made that wealth come alive. We will soon be one of the -- we will soon be exporting -- in fact, we're actually doing it now, exporting. But we are now the number-one energy producer in the world and soon it will be by far with a couple of pipelines that not been able to get approved for many years, it'll have a huge impact.

I was able to get ANWR in Alaska. It could be the largest site in the world for oil and gas. I was able to get ANWR approved. Ronald Reagan wasn't able to do it. Nobody was able to do it. They've been trying to do it since before Ronald Reagan. I got it approved.

We're the number one energy producer in the world. Soon it will be by far the number one. It's tremendous wealth. And L&G is being sought out all over the world and we have more of it than anybody else.

And I'm not going to lose that wealth. I'm not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills, which, frankly, aren't working too well. I'm not going to lose it.

So, Josh, in a nutshell, I want the cleanest water on earth. I want the cleanest air on earth. And that's what we're doing.

And I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody that -- I can say definitely because I've done many of them. More than anybody that's ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president.

And I think I know more about the environment than most people. I want clean air, I want clean water, I want a wealthy country, I want a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things. And that's what we're getting. So I want to be very careful.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: At the same time -- at the same time -- at the same time -- you weren't called.

At the same time, it's very important to me, we have to maintain this incredible place that we've all built. We've become a much richer country and that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Because that great wealth allows us to take care of people. We can take care of people that we couldn't have taken care of in the past because of the great wealth. We can't let that wealth be taken away.

Clean air, clean water.

Thank you very much, everybody. I appreciate it. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to President Trump in France at the end of the G-7 meeting, for about 30 minutes solo after roughly 35 minutes of the president and President Macron.

I'm Victor Blackwell, in for Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for staying with us. The president made a lot of news on a lot of topics. I've got four pages of notes here following the headlines that he has been making today.

Let's go now to CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter.

Nia-Malika, from Iran to Russia, finishing up on climate, China, North Korea. What is the headline that stood out to you?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: In many ways, the president was all over the place. I think many people went into this thinking they would come away with some clarity on any number of issues you just laid out there on China, for instance, on Iran.

[11:45:00] But sort of the takeaway was I think this president was wait and see. Whether or not, for instance, he would invite Russia or Putin to the G-7, unclear. Whether or not he would meet with Rouhani as Macron seems to want him to do, also unclear.

This of course, is a flip flop from something he said before. He essentially said that he would meet with Rouhani without any preconditions. Now he seems to say there are conditions on any sort of meeting.

So in many ways he talked about China, for instance. This idea that they're ready to make a deal, unclear if that actually is true. He was kind of I think sort of trying to bully President Xi there and say, listen, the economy in China is collapsing under these tariffs, and so much money is flooding into the American economy. Also not quite true there. That's not really how tariffs work.

This is a president, at some point he made ultimately something will get done, it's just not immediate. In many ways, that was sort of the take-away on all of these issues, whether it's Iran, whether it's North Korea, whether it's the China trade deal.

This is a president that I think wanted to put a really good face forward in terms of what came out of the G-7, but it's still unclear what actually came out of the G-7.

BLACKWELL: CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, was there in the room in the front row. With us now.

Jim, the president said that certainly he would invite Vladimir Putin, and 15 minutes later, in the same news conference, said I didn't say that. This is the cap of inconsistencies and reversals that have been going on for three days now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, and the president just wasn't going to be pinned down on this whole question of whether or not he's going to invite Vladimir Putin. As we know he likes to build the real tv show drama. So perhaps the big reveal will come next year when the president hosts the G-7 summit, perhaps down in Miami, as he was talking about in this press conference, at his resort at Doral in Miami, Florida. But I think one of the other major headlines from this press

conference is that the president did say once again that he is open to meeting with President Rouhani. That is something that could potentially happen down the road.

But I have to say perhaps one of the biggest headlines coming out of this press conference that we just witnessed here in France is that the president would not be pinned down on this question of climate change. He was just asked in the last several minutes whether he still harbors these questions about whether or not climate change is actually happening. He did not answer that question.

When he was asked that question, he went on to talk about the virtues of the American energy industry and how he's opened up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge up in Alaska. This was the president touting the energy businesses of the United States rather than clearly dealing with this issue of climate change as the Amazon was burning, as was a huge focus at the summit. The president skipped the meeting on climate change.

So as is often the case with these press conferences with the president, it is like a cat chasing a laser pointer when it comes to trying to get the president to answer a direct question.

When he was pressed on whether or not there were these calls with Chinese officials, the president looked over to his Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who got up in the middle of this press conference and tried to assure all of us that there were these conversations, these calls that went on.

But it doesn't sound like they were at the level that they were described to reporters as being when the president was talking to reporters earlier in the day.

So this has gone on almost over the last 48 to 72 hours where we've had inconsistency and inconsistency from the president and top officials throughout the G-7 summit.

And I think it was fitting at the very end that the president couldn't even be pinned down on this issue of whether or not he believes climate change exists.

This is a president who was very difficult to get a straight answer from when it comes to some of the very big important issues that are going on at the summit and are going on, on a regular basis when we're covering it at the White House.

BLACKWELL: The line that stood out to me, Jim, is the president said that the United States has a lot of wealth and I'm not going to lose it on dreams, in reference to climate change.

Jim, stay with us.

Let's bring back Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN report, Daniel Dale, and CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. Douglas, let me start with you because the president said several

times today and throughout the G-7 summit that there's great unity amongst the leaders. But what we saw, first, on stage with President Macron, that there were several points at which there are disagreements, especially on Iran and this trade war with China.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it's true, but it seemed a lot rougher last year at the G-7. If you really were watching this weekend like I was, President Trump seemed rather subdued. He seemed comfortable with President Macron. They actually seemed to have a genial relationship. Their wives were getting along.

[11:50:06] In many ways, Donald Trump seemed happy for a while, at least until this last press conference, to kind of be second in charge. Maybe he was actually enjoying his time there.

The good news is for Donald Trump that last week Wall Street was unraveling. It was awful. This was one of his worst weeks and he made tons of mistakes last week.

Here it is Monday, and the markets seem to be stabilizing a little and he's putting out that fig leaf, which might end up being true that there's a deal coming with China and the United States.

When you study the president like I do, his moods seem more up tempo. And he used this G-7 to polish off his statesman credentials. The idea that maybe he's going to host it at the Doral resort next year in an election cycle where he gets to show himself with all the world leaders in Florida, a key state to win he might see as a plus.

And he took time as he always does to mock President Obama over Syria, Iran, Russia. Talked about Sleepy Joe, going after Biden. He even called former President Bush, George W. Bush, Bubba Bush, if I heard it correctly.

It was an odd performance but more low keyed than we used to see him. No bull carrying his China shop around with him.

My startling takeaway is the climate change Jim was just mentioning. Here we are the Amazon burning and the G-7 only puts in $20 million to fight the fire where Leonardo DiCaprio puts up $5 million. It seemed to me climate should have been a big issue here.

The G-7 tried to make it one but you had that empty chair of Donald Trump when the discussions took place. He comes off as a climate denier.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the president calling himself an environmentalist but didn't show up at the meeting to discuss the climate crisis.

Daniel Dale, before I come to you on fact-checking on China because there's a lot to do there, Nia-Malika is still with us.

The president was asked about this erraticism, starting on Friday with angry tweets about President Xi, of China, and then ending the weekend by calling him a good leader. Going back and forth on Sunday with the second thoughts and then having his Treasury secretary and his chief economic advisor saying that that's not really what he meant. He considered increasing the sanctions. The president saying that's just the way I work.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. And he sort of works in 10-minute increments. He looks to see sort of the reaction that he's getting. Maybe the reaction from the markets and he clearly was spooked but I think it was a 600-point dip on Friday.

Then he made sort of this Socialist statement that he was ordering companies, American companies to figure out a way to get out of China. Then he backed off of that even though he said he could still do that by law.

So the sort of -- the kind of contrast between the way this president operates in terms of these negotiations and the way China negotiates. They have a real long-term strategy here. If you're President Xi, you're not up for re-election in 2020. He's essentially a leader for life over in China.

So you see the president seeming to suggest that he has the upper hand here because China's economy is tanking and that China is on the precipice of wanting to make a deal but President Trump saying that he's still not sure whether or not he's going to make a deal.

The markets are responding. They obviously are up a bit today. We'll see how long that lasts.

If you look at the point when the president sort of began this trade war, the markets are essentially flatlined since then. There have been dips and some highs and some lows but mostly flatlined.

BLACKWELL: And some of the -- some of the optimism was based on this claim from the president that there was a call from China.

HENDERSON: That's right.

BLACKWELL: And Chinese officials, at least from the reporting from Bloomberg and their spokesperson in the foreign minister, they can't confirm at least the degree of which this president talked about the significance of that call.

Daniel Dale, let me come to you.

The fact-checking that has to be done after an event like this from the president, when he says that prices have not gone up because of these tariffs, fact-check that for us. What's the truth?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, we've had numerous announcements from major individual companies that they themselves are raising prices as a result of the tariffs and on an economy-wide basis we know there's inflation. Core inflation exceeded 2 percent in July. That was a six-month high. We have 1.8 percent overall inflation. That's not especially high inflation. It's still below the Fed's 2 percent target.

But the blanket claim that there are no price increases is simply false.

BLACKWELL: And the statement also that stood out to me was the president said that the U.S. had not -- never taken in as much as 10 cents from China and will soon collect $10 billion in tariffs. He's still promulgating this lie that tariffs are paid by China or Chinese companies.

[11:55:16] DALE: There are a couple of problems. One is exactly what you said. Americans pay these tariffs. Americans make the literal payments. Now we have a host of studies that show that it is Americans, American consumers, who are bearing the cost of the tariffs. So this is not money that the U.S. is taking in from China.

The second problem is that the U.S. has had tariffs on China more than two centuries. The U.S. was generating billions of dollars from these tariffs, again, from Americans, during the Obama administration.

So Trump's suggestion that he was the one who created this revenue stream is also not true.

BLACKWELL: Douglas, to you.

The president talking about his predecessors saying that President Obama was outsmarted by President Putin in annexing Crimea and it didn't happen on his watch. Fact-check here, Russia is still in Ukraine. He says if it happened on my watch, sorry, folks. The president seems to I guess forget that or ignore it.

BRINKLEY: Well, both. What mainly it is, all he likes to do is score points against President Obama. That's his favorite foil. He couldn't say -- I mean to go on foreign soil and be attacking your predecessor the way Donald Trump did in a gratuitous fashion when it wasn't necessary was very unseemly.

Anything to praise Putin. I mean basically he's sympathizing with Putin saying he's my pal. Well, good for him in a way that he took Crimea. I'm happy with it. But he smelled weakness in Obama and he did it. This is not something that, in my mind, an American president should be saying.

Also the idea that I'm going to invite Putin and then non-invite him. Bottom line, he wants to be seen as the close friend of Putin while the rest of the other G-7 countries are nervous about him.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

BRINKLEY: He's trying to create a sort of Lone Ranger foreign policy that all roads lead to Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: We'll see if president Putin is invited a couple of months before the 2020 general election, what the rest of the party, Republican Party has to say about that.

Everybody, thank you so much for being with us.

More breaking news coverage up after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:00]