Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Trump in London for NATO Meeting. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 3, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we'll see what happens.

[05:00:02]

It may work out, it may not. But in the meantime, it's been a long time.

President Obama said it's a number one problem and it would have been war -- we would be in war right now if it weren't for me. If I weren't president, you'd be in a war right now in Asia, and who knows where that leads.

That brings in -- that brings in a lot of other countries.

REPORTER: Mr. President, you met with him on three times now. And yet he continues to build his nuclear program, test his missiles. What's --

TRUMP: Well, you don't know that. Number one, you don't know that. And number two, very importantly, I have been and in the meantime -- we still have peace. We have peace.

And at least speaking for myself, I have a very good personal relationship with him as he does with me. I'm possibly the only one he has that kind of relationship with in the world. They call it about the hermit kingdom. I know a lot about his hermit kingdom.

But I have a very good relationship. If you would have listened to President Obama, we'd be in World War III right now. So, we'll see what happens.

Hey, look, we are more powerful militarily than we have ever been and I will tell you, when I took over the United States military, when I became commander-in-chief, our military was depleted. Our military was in trouble. You know that better than anybody.

We had old planes. We had old everything. We didn't have ammunition. Now, we have the most powerful military we ever had and we're, by far, the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don't have to use it.

But if we do, we'll use it. If we have to, we'll do it. But our relationship with Kim Jong-un is really good but that doesn't mean he won't abide by the agreement. You have to understand, you have to look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearize. That's what it said.

I hope he lives up to the agreement. But we're going to find out.

Now in the meantime we're working with South Korea because it's burden-sharing and we're spending a tremendous amount of money to protect South Korea. And we think that it's fair that they pay substantially more. Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed. Nobody knows this. I'll say it now for the first time they agreed to pay approximately $500 million a year more for protection, $500 million. Now, we only had a month or two before the budget ended, so they said no, no -- you know, they are very good business people. You see how they do on trade.

But they agreed to pay almost $500 million a year more, that got them up to a billion dollars, close to a billion dollars. That's a lot of money. I did that with a lot of phone calls and meeting. Now we're negotiating with them to pay more. The United States is paying a lot of money to protect South Korea and we think it's fair for them to pay up and pay more.

We have a very good relationship but we think it's fair they pay more. I'm not sure if anybody knows -- do you know about the $500 million they agreed to pay more?

REPORTER: Can you tell us more about it?

TRUMP: I met with them six, seven months ago, maybe a little bit longer than that, and I said, you're not paying enough, it's not fair.

They were paying 500, paying less than $500 million a year and it cost us billions. It's not fair.

We do a great job. We have 32,000 soldiers there. Costs us many times what you're paying and you have to pay up. And they said, again, in a very good way, very fine negotiation, and they were very close to being at the end of their budget, and we agreed to $500 million more, almost. Around $500 million.

That got them up close to a billion dollars from $500 million, less than $500 million which has been that number for many, many years, decades. And I got $500 million more a year. So, $500 million a year is a lot of money. That's still substantially less than it costs.

They can do that because they are a very rich country. You didn't know about that, did you?

REPORTER: No --

TRUMP: I wonder if I'll get story for that. I don't think so.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't make big stories.

REPORTER: Is it in America's national security interest (INAUDIBLE) in the Korean peninsula and the region? TRUMP: It's going to be debated. I can go either way. I could make arguments both ways. But I think it's -- I do think this. I think if we're going to do it, I think they should burden share more fairly.

It's not fair for the United States to defend many countries not only that country but many countries. And they are rich countries. I can tell you this, five other countries that I had the same conversation with.

You know, Saudi Arabia we moved more troops there, and they're paying us billions of dollars, OK? You never heard of that before. You've never heard of that in your whole life. We move troops and we pay nothing, and people took advantage and the world took advantage of us.

[05:05:04]

But we do -- we have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia but they needed help. They were attacked. And as you saw, we just moved a contingent of troops and they are paying us millions of dollars. They are happy to do so.

The problem is nobody ever asked them to do it, until I came along. Nobody ever asked. Obama didn't ask. Bush didn't ask. Clinton didn't ask. Nobody asked.

They said to me, but nobody ever asked us to do this. I said I know, king, but I'm asking. And they are paying us. They already sent us billions of dollars. It's already in the bank.

So, and that's right, and they are happy to do it. But we never had a president that would ask and it's not right. So -- and we have many other countries we're doing the same thing, wealthy countries.

Now, in some cases you have countries that need help they don't have money. They are poor, and there's tremendous trauma, there's tremendous problems. And things going on that shouldn't be going on and that's a different situation.

But we have wealthy countries. I've asked Japan, I said to Prime Minister Abe, a friend of mine. Shinzo, I said you have to help us out here. We're paying a lot of money. You're a wealthy nation. We're, you know, paying for your military essentially. You have to help us out.

He's going to do a lot. They all are going to do a lot. But they were never asked.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Do you have a China trade deal --

TRUMP: It's very important point. You have to understand. It's a point that probably nobody knows about, don't talk about it, but this is the first time I've talked about it publicly.

South Korea is paying us almost 500 million more and now starting negotiation for millions of dollars.

REPORTER: You know, your recent talks with the king of Saudi Arabia --

TRUMP: Yes.

(CROSSTLK)

REPORTER: Did you bring out the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the American --

TRUMP: Well, we've had that discussion and we've had it many times, and you know their position, you know my position, too. It's been brought up. But, you know, I also brought up and I'll bring it up right now the fact that Iran is killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak. That's why they cut off the Internet. So, they cut off the internet so people can't see what's going on.

But thousands of people are being killed in Iran right now. And, frankly, I don't know how you get in there? I don't know, how you do your business but the press ought to get in there and see what's going on, because the word is thousands of people are being killed in Iran. They are protesting.

You're hearing that, too. Not just small numbers which is bad but big numbers, which is really bad, and really big numbers.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Is there anything you can about that, about what's going on in Iran, is there anything more that you can do, that the United States can do?

TRUMP: Well, I rather not say right now. But I think it's a terrible thing and I think the world has to be watching. But many people are being killed, you're hearing that too. Many, many people are being killed in Iran right now, for protesting, for the mere fact that they are protesting. It's a terrible thing.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Harry Dunn's family is demanding that the U.S. diplomat's wife return to the U.K. Will you do that?

TRUMP: You're talking about the woman who had the accident with the young man on the motorcycle?

REPORTER: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: You know, I had his parent up. They are lovely people. I've spoken to the woman who works for the government, who has diplomatic immunity, and we're trying to work something out.

REPORTER: Mr. President, on the trade deal can you get by the end of the year, is that your goal? TRUMP: The China trade deal is dependent on one thing. Do I want to

make it? Because we're working very well with China right now and we can do even better with a flick of a pen and China is paying for it. And China has the worst year by far than they've had in 57 years.

So, we'll see what happens. But we're doing very well right now. I gave the farmers $28 million and had a lot left over because the farmers were targeted by China. I gave them $28 million over a two year period, and that got them whole. That was everything that China took out. I gave them from the tariffs that China paid us and I had billions left over, many billions left over.

REPORTER: So, you don't really have a deadline?

TRUMP: I have no deadline, no. In some ways, I think it's better to wait until after the election, if you want to know the truth. I think, in some ways, it's better to wait until after the election with China.

But I'm not going to say. I just think that. I just tell you, in some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal.

[05:10:03]

But they want to make a deal now and we'll see whether or not the deal is going to be right. It's going to be right. Look, China has been ripping off the United States for many, many years, again, because of leadership or lack of leadership, or it wasn't their thing.

It's like I told you about the military and the kind of money we're taking in. And, you know, every one of these countries -- these are rich countries I'm talking to. They would always say -- but nobody has ever asked us to do that. Like, therefore, why should I do it now?

I said, well, they haven't because they were foolish. But I am. And that's where we are.

And that's why with Saudi Arabia, with South Korea, with so many other countries, they are paying a lot of money to the United States that they weren't paying and will be paying a lot more.

It's a big story, right? That's a big story. I don't know -- I don't know how you can make that bad but you'll figure a way, right?

REPORTER: Do you think that Jeremy Corbyn needs to be (INAUDIBLE) denouncing anti-Semitism?

TRUMP: I know nothing about the gentleman, really Jeremy Corbyn, know nothing about him.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: I think NATO should always be in dialogue with Russia. I think you can have a very good relationship with Russia. I don't think there's any problem at all with the secretary-general speaking with Russia. I think it's a very important thing to do.

STOLTENBERG: And actually, we are talking to Russia because I strongly also, as the president, believe in importance of having dialogue with Russia. Russia is our biggest neighbor. Russia is (INAUDIBLE), and we'll strive for a better relationship with Russia.

But we do that based on dual track approach by NATO. We have to be strong. We have to provide (INAUDIBLE) combined with dialogue. So, for us, it is the (INAUDIBLE) defense and dialogue, and that's exactly what we are doing, especially when it comes to arms control, we need to avoid the arms race, we need to avoid a new cold war.

New arms race is dangerous. It's expensive. And therefore, also Russia has violated the INF treaty which banned all intermediate range missiles in Europe.

The good thing is that NATO is able to respond in a unified way. We all agreed Russia was in violation. We all supported the decision because a treaty will not work if it's only respected by one side, and obviously together you have North America, Europe, and U.S. and the rest of the NATO allies, and address how we should respond.

We'll respond in a coordinated way together. We will respond in a defensive way. But we have to make sure that we provide critical deterrence and defense, also in the world (ph) with more Russian missiles in Europe.

Arms control is something I know the president is very focused on. We really not (ph) see progress on arms control with Russia, but also in one way, we have to find ways to include China, because in the future China has to be part of the arms control efforts.

TRUMP: And I have to say this, Russia wants to make a deal on arms control. And I terminated the deal because they weren't living up to it. It was an obsolete deal anyway. They weren't living up to it.

But Russia wants to make a deal as recently as two weeks ago. Russia wants to make a deal very much on arms control and nuclear, and that's smart. So do we. We think that's a good thing.

We'll also certainly bring in, as you know, China. We may bring them in later or may bring them in now, but Russia wants to do something badly and so do we. It would be a great thing to do.

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have a comment on Prince Andrew stepping down form his royal duties?

TRUMP: With who?

REPORTER: Prince Andrew stepping down from his royal duties?

TRUMP: No, I don't know Prince Andrew. But it's -- that's a tough story. It's a very tough story. I don't know him. No.

OK, anybody else? Thank you. So, we'll see --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Interesting, right?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Lot of money, lot of money. Bye, folks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That's President Donald Trump. We're just listening to see if he takes a few more questions because he's really comfortable there.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: (INAUDIBLE) Trump right there.

ROMANS: Absolutely --

TRUMP: Fifty-two minutes.

ROMANS: Taking credit for other countries raising the defense contributions to NATO. The president on trade getting some attention when he said maybe better wait to wait until after the election for a trade deal with China. He said, that's what I think that's not what I say.

BRIGGS: But not explaining why.

ROMANS: Not explaining why.

BRIGGS: And among the countries he criticized, France. That's how this all started, 52 minutes ago, criticized Germany on their defense spending, criticized E.U. on trade, criticized President Obama numerous instance and went after the Democrats repeatedly in their, quote, hoax impeachment.

[05:15:08]

He did side with Turkey repeatedly.

ROMANS: That's right.

He did refuse to criticize North Korea or Kim Jong-un. It's like when you get back from vacation and it takes you a week to unpack. That's where we are right now.

ROMANS: There's a lot to unpack here. And Nic Robertson is in Winfield House for us in London. He's been listening to this press availability as well.

Numerous headlines on multiple international important story lines here. What's your takeaway, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, a little bit like you, I'm trying put them in the plus box and minus. Plus box, Republicans, Ukrainian president, Boris Johnson, President

Erdogan of Turkey, NATO, including secretary of general because he's become so flexible, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, South Korea because of burden sharing, Saudi Arabia because they will pay to have our troops. The list did seem to go on.

It was interesting to me that when he was asked about Boris Johnson, would he be meeting with him yes. Would he be wading into the British elections? No, he doesn't want to do that but said thought Boris Johnson would do well.

And then he also said how -- reminded everyone how he predicted the outcome of the Brexit referendum. I think the president may have been confused because he arrived in the U.K. the day after the referendum, and actually commenting on the 24th June at his golf resort in Scotland about the outcome of the referendum rather than predicting it. A great result, he said.

And in the negative column, yes, the Democrats right at the top, China, the National Health Service in U.K., no, he wouldn't touch that if it was on a silver platter, of course, important election here, Germany, the European Union issue, said Angela Merkel bilateral will be a tough one, burden sharing.

But Emmanuel Macron, my gosh if there was one person in all of this who took a beating in the early stages of President Trump's discourse, it was the French president essentially saying he had no room to criticize NATO, that it was a dangerous thing to do and pointed to all the problems in France.

ROMANS: Criticized NATO, we should be clear he could have said --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nobody needs NATO more than France, and, frankly, the one that benefits really the least is the United States. That's why I think when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that's a very dangerous statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, just to remind folks, he's talking about Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was brain dead and then Turkey said it's Macron that's brain dead, it was Trump that was quoting Turkey there and saying it was a dangerous statement for Macron to make.

Where does this go now, Nic?

ROBERTSON: Well, Jens Stoltenberg had the clock run down on the bilateral breakfast. For President Trump, he may be getting hungry. I don't think he expected to wade into a 52-minute press conference before they had substance to talk about, but substance in their stomachs, no doubt, if they do get that breakfast.

But, yes, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, will be coming in to meet with President Trump in a few hours. Yum, he's got some things on his mind now to discuss.

So, the president I think meeting in about an hour or so with friends of President Trump here in the United States. We understand that maybe a fundraiser for the president's campaign trail. But that's a meeting he'll be having offsite from the ambassador's residence here in the next hour or so.

ROMANS: Nic, there's this trade dispute between U.S. and France, right, over this digital services tax that the French taxing U.S. big tech companies, trying to figure out a way to gave rebate for part of that tax. This is a real problem with President Trump. Listen.

OK. He said, the president said, sorry, they told me they cut this sound bite, where the president said, if anybody is going to take advantage of American companies and tax American companies, it's going to be me. Listen, we have it now. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: If anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies, it's going to be us. It's not going to be France.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He said, I'm not in love with Facebook. I'm not in love with the big tech companies for a lot of different reasons, but he's not going to let another country tax American companies.

He's actually escalating his global trade war. We've seen many different fronts over the last couple of days but specifically with France.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. We've heard sort of push back from France already. The finance minister there earlier today, Bruno Le Maire, saying that it was unacceptable these 100 percent the tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of goods that President Trump is speaking about, that this would be a spiral, an escalatory spiral.

And indeed, he went on to say if United States does take these steps, then the European Union will respond. We heard President Trump alluding to a little bit there as well in that discourse about how he felt the United States had won that big pay out, if you will.

[05:20:01]

That big award from the WTO over Airbus's subsidies from European countries.

So, clearly, if this is the track the president continues to go down, there will be concern among European leaders he'll be meeting with today. There is perhaps a new trade war heating up with members of the European Union.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the president said make our tech companies, maybe our tech companies aren't as powerful, aren't as powerful as they think because he won the presidency. On a number of instances, Nic, he said I don't want to weigh in but then he did proceed to weigh in for several minutes.

An example is your general election there when he said I don't want to weigh in but then he did. What was your takeaway there?

ROBERTSON: Look, I think probably if you're sitting at 10 Downing Street in Boris Johnson's chair you're feeling, you probably dodged a bullet. You want to see how all these words ricochet around the capital to get the feedback.

But there was no huge really endorsement. I think Boris Johnson is wonderful for X, Y and Z. He did say that he wouldn't be interested in anything to do with the National Health Service which is a big issue here.

When asked about Jeremy Corbyn he said he doesn't know anything about him. But clearly decided not to say perhaps what was on his mind. So, I think on this, perhaps I would estimate at this stage no big damage done.

But I think the very fact there was an off-the-cuff press conference where you had NATO secretary-general sitting there at president's side looking sheepish, looking like he hoped this would end soon --

ROMANS: Yes.

ROBERTSON: -- looking like he doesn't know what he's walked into, everyone else who's going to get into a meeting with President Trump including Boris Johnson will be aware that things don't go the way you expect them to go. So it is not done yet.

ROMANS: And, Nic, this is just so unusual. I mean, you cover international diplomacy. I cover economic diplomacy. You don't see head of state on a global stage free wheeling for 52 minutes on this and that.

I mean, on the subject of China, for example, he said, you know, maybe I want to wait until after the election, maybe I don't. Maybe I think that. I won't say that out loud, even after he said it out loud.

This is how the president talks. He weighed in on South Korea saying he would make South Korea pay more for its own defense, even when historically America's presence in South Korea has been more America's prowess and America's power in the region.

This is a president we saw who just thinks fundamentally at odds what's been the last 40 or 50 years of the U.S. world view.

ROBERTSON: Oh, absolutely. He really said the same things about Japan and contributing to Japan's security as well. When what we've seen in the past few months is China engage with South Korea and Japan in a way that it hasn't in previous decades because China under President Xi Jinping recognizes an opportunity here where the United States under President Trump appears to be receding and pulling back on former security alliances without saying as much.

It's all sort of free wheeling and no one can see where it's going precisely. But the China recognizing wherever it's going there's an opportunity here to re-invigorate their relationship with those countries that's been on ice for such a long time. So, in that context when president Trump free wheels like this, others see opportunities.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROBERTSON: It is unusual.

Not only that, Christine, think about it here. This was 52 minutes. This is before, before the meetings have actually happened.

It's as if, as if, we don't know President Trump really just wanted to get in front of the cameras and have a jolly good conversation about everything he wanted to talk about perhaps because of everything left behind at home, give everyone lots of other things to talk about or perhaps he just wanted to get all these issues off his chest. Utterly unconventional but that's what everyone here was expecting -- unconventional.

ROMANS: Yes. Well, and that's why 62 million people voted for him, for unconventional, for upsetting the status quo.

BRIGGS: Sure, and he sets the tone for the entire week.

If there's a word looming over it is that how transactional the president is, where it's defense spending, whether it's the South Korea situation, or whether it's what he talks about with Turkey when it seems, Nic, that president was solely focused on keeping the oil, which he must have said a half dozen or more times. That seems to have been the president's entire goal, at least looking back on it regarding the Turkey and our allies, the Kurds.

What was your take there?

ROBERTSON: Yes, I have to say when I heard president Trump framing the U.S. engagement, you know, troops went out, troops went back in, they went to some of the oil fields in east of Syria, but that's not all the oil that Syria has. What we know about Syria and its oil that it's Russia that has gotten access to the vast amount of Syria's oil reserves, but both proven in country and those offshore as well.

[05:25:09]

And that's perhaps more significant. Of course, that didn't enter the dialogue there. But President Trump seeming to get irrational, again, the transactional, the Saudi -- they're paying for the troops.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROBERTSON: The South Korea, they must pay. Japan, they must -- they must pay. We're going to pay for our troops in Syria through the oil.

Those oil fields are not big oil fields. I don't think it's clear how much oil is actually flowing from them and where the revenues are going to on those. And it seems that with the U.S. president presence as it is in Syria and its leverage in Syria which is utterly minimal that the United States could consider in the longer term taking real financial advantage from those reserves there.

Look at the chaos across the border in Iraq where the United States spent a lot longer.

ROMANS: You know, it was interesting, Nic, he was asked point blank, is Turkey a dependable ally. He said, you know, I like Erdogan, I like Turkey. Turkey helped us fly over when we got al-Baghdadi.

No mention of the Kurds. No mention of any anger or frustration of the Kurds or humanitarian crisis that followed. The president, I think transactional is exactly the right word you used.

ROBERTSON: Yes, it does. It feels exactly that way. It's sort of a partial recounting, sort of reframed because of the criticism that occurred at the time, all the negativity left out. Only the positive bits remembered and recalled for us.

But we will remember that the anger and frustration from within the United States and from President Trump's allies who will be sitting down at NATO when they found out that U.S. troops were pulling out of Syria. You know, British forces, French forces, 83 nations were working alongside the United States to counter ISIS there.

Allies as strong as France and Britain weren't told officially that U.S. troops were pulling out. So, you know, it is, as you say, a framing in the sort of positive rear view mirror, if you will and framing it, trying to frame it positively for President Trump going forward.

ROMANS: All right. Nic Robertson, nice to see you this morning. Thank you for parsing 52 minutes of diplomacy, you know, unusual diplomacy shall we say on the global stage.

BRIGGS: A lot of unpacking to do after holiday weekend.

ROMANS: Yes. There is. Nic Robertson can do it. Thanks, Nic.

All right. House Democrats say they're just hours away from releasing their impeachment report to the public. Details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END