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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Aide Claims Trump Thought January Sixth Rally Was "Cool" Before It Turned Violent, According To New Book; House Minority Leader McCarthy Meets With Trump Allegedly To Discuss 2022; New Book: Pence Refused To Leave Capitol During Attack; Biden, German Chancellor Merkel Hold News Conference; Biden: U.S. Looking Into Helping Restore Internet To Cuba; Biden: Cuba Is A Failed State And Repressing Its Citizens. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And if you're wondering where the Republican Party goes from here, well apparently, it's the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is meeting with Trump today. As CNN's Jessica Dean.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy meeting today with former President Donald Trump at his Bedminster golf club, leaving no question about Trump's hold over the party.

A GOP source tell CNN, the men plan to discuss upcoming special elections, vulnerable Democrats in 2022 and GOP fundraising. But the visit also comes as McCarthy considers who from his conference to name to a House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection and what role Trump played in inciting it.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

DEAN (voice-over): The meeting comes just as new details about the tumultuous final days of the Trump presidency are revealed in a series of new books, laying out how severe of a threat Trump was to democracy itself.

And "I Alone Can Fix It," authors Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker write Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, was so concerned Trump or his allies might stage a coup that he and others came up with plans to stop Trump. Milley described, quote, "a stomach churning" feeling as he listened to Trump's untrue complaints of election fraud, drawing a comparison to the 1933 attack on Germany's parliament building that Hitler used as a pretext to establish a Nazi dictatorship.

Quote, "this is a Reichstag moment," Millie told aides according to the book. Quote, "The gospel of the Fuhrer." According to the book, Milley told the deputies of any potential coup, "They may try, but they're not going to effing succeed." Adding, quote, "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."

Trump released a statement today saying in part, quote, "I never threatened or spoke about to anyone a coup of our government." And quote, "If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley."

A coup wasn't the only fear. Following the deadly Capitol riot. The authors write House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Milley she was concerned Trump could use nuclear weapons, describing the former president as, quote, "crazy," "dangerous" and a "maniac." Milley reassured her saying, quote, "We'll only do things that are legal, ethical and moral."

Ultimately, once President Biden was inaugurated, Milley says he thought to himself, quote, "Thank God Almighty, we landed the ship safely."


DEAN: And we're just learning that that meeting between McCarthy and Trump has come to its conclusion according to McCarthy's office, but no additional details about anything they spoke about at that meeting.

But something to keep in mind, as we mentioned in that piece just now is that McCarthy continues to mull over who he's going to put on that House Select Committee to investigate what happened on January 6, the first public hearing for that is coming up on July 27. We're told by sources he intends to name his selections by then.

And, Jake, something that you have to think about when these two men have been in a room right before this is, will that impact who McCarthy is going to put on this commission? Will he be installing Trump allies to really just kind of tarp the system and to fight back against whatever Democrats and Liz Cheney may be putting together and looking into? And it's very possible that they will be probing into, of course, Trump's role in this but also potentially McCarthy's role, as well. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel joins us now.

And Jamie, we're learning new details about how Trump and other top officials handled the events of January 6, as they unfolded in this new excerpt from "I Alone Can Fix It." There's a scene described in which President Trump is watching his supporters and MAGA hats, waving flags, he was very happy about it. An aide saying quote, "He thought this is cool. He was happy." And the book quotes the aide is saying, "Then when it turned violent, he thought, "Oh crap." What more can you tell us about that?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this is January 6, he's back at the White House. I think it tells us two things. Jake. First of all, we know that Donald Trump was sitting at the White House enjoying watching the insurrection happening.

And it also speaks to when he knew about violence. There's been a lot of pushbacks. Oh, the president, then President Trump, didn't know about violence. Right from the start he knew there was violence. That's the, oh crap.

For some context on those words, oh crap, it was not because, I'm told, that he was worried about people getting hurt up at the Capitol. It was because he was concerned about how it would impact him, that it would look bad for his reputation.


TAPPER: Well, he was right about that. There's also an exchange between Vice President Pence and the head of his secret service detail who was trying to evacuate Pence and his family from the Capitol. Pence refuses to leave. "I'm not getting in the car, Tim," Pence replied. "I trust you, Tim, but you're not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I'm not getting in the car," unquote.

So, why is the vice president refusing to leave the Capitol? He was there with his wife and daughter.

GANGEL: So we know that he wanted to finish what he came there to do, the peaceful transfer of power. That said, I think this excerpt and it goes on, there's greater detail in the book about it, is actually chilling. Can you imagine that the vice president does not feel that he will be brought back, it sounds if he gets in the car. He is standing there saying, I'm not getting in the car, you're going to take me away. And the implication is, he doesn't think the Secret Service will bring him back to finish his duty that night.

I think the Pence reporting in this book is extraordinary. And there's another part where he calls the Pentagon and says, get folks over here. It's the kind of call that Donald Trump should have been making but didn't make.

TAPPER: All right, Jamie Gangel, thanks so much.

Let's bring in SE Cupp and former Congressman Joe Kennedy to talk about this.

Former Congressman Kennedy, let me ask you, start with you, given everything that keeps coming out about these final days, Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley afraid that Trump is going to start a coup. Pence is sounding in that excerpt as if he's worried that the Secret Service is whisking him away to keep him from his constitutional obligation to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the next president. What does it say to you that Kevin McCarthy goes to Bedminster today to kiss the ring?

JOE KENNEDY (D-MA), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It says that Republicans are in a rock and a hard place. They know that they can't win with Donald Trump, they didn't. They know that they can't win without him given his holdover Republican base. And look, Jake, the sooner from my opinion, the sooner they put this and him and everything else in the rearview mirror and reject the type of leadership that in that reporting has discovered, the better off our country's going to be. But the fact that a Republican leadership in the House and Senate refuses to let Donald Trump go.

And look, much has made over the fact that he supports still for members of the House Republican caucus and Republican primary voters, fine. He lost the presidency.

Think of it this way, since I've been born only one other president, incoming president lost his reelection. Only one, and that was George W. Bush, going for essentially a fourth term of Ronald Reagan. Incumbents in modern American history don't lose, he did.

The sooner Republicans get that message and turn the page and actually start putting out ideas rather than vengeance and grievance, the better off we're all going to be. That's what that reporting tells us.

TAPPER: And SE, there's another excerpt from Leonnig and Rucker's book recalling Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who at the time was the number three House Republican, she's since been purged because she continues to tell the truth about the election.

Anyway, Cheney recounts this conversation she had on January 6 with Congressman Jim Jordan to General Milley. Cheney allegedly said quote, "That effing guy Jim Jordan. That son of a bitch. While these maniacs are going through the place, I'm standing in the aisle and he said, "We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you." And I smacked his hand away and told him, "Get away from me. You effing did this."

Even in the middle of the chaos, some lawmakers including Republicans like Liz Cheney, had moral clarity and realized exactly who was to blame for the insurrection and it was Trump and his enablers.

SE CUPP, HOST, SE CUPP UNFILTERED: Yes, it's really remarkable too. I mean, all of these revelations are really interesting and really do show almost like the Cuban Missile Crisis how close we are -- we were to the brink, you know, after the fact without knowing it in the moment.

But I think all of these revelations really belies that people like Mike Pompeo and Liz Cheney, even people who, you know, did the right thing ultimately in the end really knew, you know, could see this coming for four years. This wasn't a sudden Trump woke up one day and decided I'm not I'm going to go easy.


There were red flags for four years. He did this. He teased that he would not go quietly. He told people that it would have to be rigged for him to lose.

And I think Republicans, for the most part sat by either in silence or tacit approval watching the president literally take the car off the cliff. And now suddenly want to talk about how, you know, shocked and appalled they were in those final hours. What about the first four years?

TAPPER: Congressman Kennedy, the book also shows how despite at one point being trapped in the Capitol himself. Vice President Pence took it upon himself to act as if he were the commander in chief during the riot.

"At 4:00 p.m. Pence called Miller," the Acting Secretary of Defense, "from his secure location. The Vice President was calm. He had no anxiety or fear in his voice. Pence delivered a set of directives to the defense chief. "Get troops here, get them here now," the vice president ordered. "We've got to get the Congress to do its business." "Yes, sir," Miller said. It was the sternest Miller or the other Pentagon officials listening had ever heard Pence."

It's remarkable how hands off Trump was, the United States Capitol was under assault, they did not have enough police officers to defend it. And Pence, the Vice President had to order more troops to come to help.

KENNEDY: Which, Jake, I haven't looked at the legal structures of late on that. But that for your prior reporting on this, that is a chilling and stunning moment, because it is not typically in the purview of the vice president to give an order to the Secretary of Defense about sending troops or not. That, in fact, is a responsibility reserved for the commander in chief.

And he wouldn't do it, which is also a recognition then from the military leaders about what exactly Trump's intent was tacit or explicit and what was happening. And they were essentially circumvention of that responsibility.

TAPPER: Yes. It's honestly like a 20th amendment kind of moment, except nobody's invoking the 25th amendment. The President's not capable of doing what needs to be done. So let's kind of fudge our way through this.

KENNEDY: Yes, that's exactly right. And that's what this reporting seems to imply, with all of the folks that understood the gravity of that moment and willing to do it without having going through the process of essentially forcing the president to step aside.

TAPPER: Joe Kennedy, SE Cupp, thanks so much. We have to end it there because we're told that President Biden is about to speak. He's going to take questions from reporters, we're going to bring that to you live.

Plus, the other health care crisis. What's killing more and more Americans in the midst to this pandemic in, you know, it's not coronavirus. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Let's go right to the White House where President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are talking to reporters.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been my great honor, and I mean that, to welcome a dear friend back to the White House.

And before I say anything else, Chancellor Merkel, I want to express to you and to the people of Germany my sincere condolences and the condolences of the American people for the devastating loss of life and the destruction due to the flooding over the past 24 hours in Germany and neighboring countries. It's a tragedy, and our heart goes out -- our hearts go out to the families who've lost loved ones.

Chancellor Merkel has been here frequently over the past 16 years. Matter of fact, she knows the Oval Office as well as I do. But all kidding aside, through -- though this administration, she's been there for four years -- for four Presidents.

But I want to take a moment to acknowledge the historic nature of her chancellorship. First woman chancellor in German history. The first chancellor from the former East Germany. And now, the second largest -- longest-serving chancellor since Helmut Kohl. Here's an exemplary life of groundbreaking service to Germany and, I might add, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart, to the world.

On behalf of the United States, thank you, Angela, for your career of strong, principled leadership. And thank you for speaking out for what is right and for never failing to defend human dignity.

And I want to thank you for your continued support for the longstanding goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. You've been a stalwart champion of the Transatlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Partnership.

Under your chancellorship, the friendship and cooperation between Germany and the United States has grown stronger and stronger.

And I'm looking forward to celebrating more at our dinner this evening, but today was very much a working visit. Chancellor Merkel and I covered a wide range of issues where Germany and United States are working to advance a shared agenda. We discussed, together with our fellow major democracies at the G7, Germany and the United States have responsibilities to lead with our values, as do the other members of NATO.

And today, I've confided that in our new Washington Declaration, which we've codified, a document affirming our commitment to the democratic principles that are the heart -- that are at the heart of both of our nations, and how we will apply them to meet the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.

Both our nations, both our nations understand the imperative of proving that democracies can deliver the needs of our people in the second quarter of the 21st century. We will stand up for democratic principles and universal rights when we see China or any other country working to undermine free and open societies.

And we are united, united in our commitment to addressing democratic backsliding, corruption, phony populism in the European Union or among candidates for the E.U. membership or anywhere we find it in the world.


We agree on the importance of further integrating the Western Balkans into European institutions and in our continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the continued importance of reforms in the support of their Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

We stand together and will continue to stand together to defend our Eastern Flank allies at NATO against Russian aggression. And while I reiterated my concerns about Nord Stream 2, Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors.

And today, we're launching a climate and energy partnership to support energy security and the development of sustainable energy, sustainable energy technologies, and emerging economies, including in Central Europe and Ukraine.

To unite our efforts to upend and -- on our global climate ambitions that we have to up-the-ante, what happened is we talked about when Paris Accord was set, we thought we had established just how serious it was, but things have gotten much more dire since even that date. And to unite our efforts to update and to up-the-ante on global climate ambitions.

I also thank Chancellor Merkel for the dedication and the sacrifice of German troops who have served side by side along with U.S. forces in Afghanistan for almost 20 years.

And we reaffirmed our shared commitment to continuing to counter terrorist threats where we find them, including in the Sahel in Africa.

And we -- when we think about the future, the future we want for the world, there is no issue set at all that I believe we find anything other than the certainty that a commitment that -- between the United States and Germany doesn't benefit whatever the problem or the concern is.

We need to fight COVID-19 pandemic everywhere, to strengthen global health security for tomorrow so we're ready for the next pandemic.

We need to make sure that the rules of the road governing the use of emerging technologies advance freedom, not authoritarianism and repression.

And we need to promote a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery that enhances the prosperity and opportunity for all. And so much more.

This just -- this isn't just the work of governments, the work is the work of our peoples, sharing their innovation and insights, joining together to amplify our collective impact.

So today, we're launching a Futures Forum between our two countries, which will bring together top experts across business, academia, civil society, and more to collaborate as we shape our shared future.

Madam Chancellor, I know that the partnership between Germany and United States will continue to grow stronger on the foundation that you have helped to build. But on a personal note, I must tell you, I'll miss seeing you at our summits. I truly will.

So, thank you again, Angela, for making the journey, for our productive meeting today, and for your friendship.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Mr. President, dear Joe, first of all, I would like to thank you most warmly for the condolences and the empathy you expressed as regards the victims to the floodings in Germany.

And I would like to ask for your understanding that I need to address this matter with a few words because, in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the day is already drawing to a close -- a day that is characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering. And hundreds of thousands of people, all of a sudden, were faced with catastrophe. Their houses were literally death traps. Small rivers turned into flooded, devastating rivers.

And I must say that my empathy and my heart goes out to all of those who, in this catastrophe, lost their loved ones or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing.


And I include Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands who've also suffered from floodings.

The rescuers, first responders are doing their utmost to help people. I must say that I'm very much feeling with those who've suffered, and I know that millions of people in Germany feel the same.

The Minister-Presidents Ms. Dreyer and Mr. Laschet, Minister- Presidents of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, respectively, and also the ministers who were responsible here, I talked to them, and I would like to send out a message to the people that we will not leave them alone with their suffering and that we're trying our utmost to help them in their distress.

Mr. President, dear Joe, thank you for the invitation. Thank you for making it possible to talk to you. It's my first visit since 2019, and I'm so much -- so happy about the personal exchange. We have seen again today that we're not only partners and allies, but we're very close friends. And thank you for the very friendly exchange that we had this afternoon.

We all share the same values. We all share the same determination to tackle the challenges of our times, to master them. And I'm deeply convinced that simply committing to these values is certainly not sufficient. We are living at a crucial moment in time where we are facing new challenges, and these challenges need to be translated into practical policies.

So, I'm very grateful that we have this opportunity to work on foundations. And we lay down those foundations in the Washington Declaration, and also how we see the road ahead, and also measures. And I think that this Futures Forum will deal with those issues. Our societies will discuss together what sort of solutions they think appropriate, and I think such structures are very important.

There is a very large degree of common ground, as has come out of our talks. We are convinced, both of us, that overcoming this pandemic is only possible if as many people as possible are vaccinated in our countries, and many wish to do that.

We have to also support the rest of the world with vaccines. We work together with COVAX. And I'm very grateful to the United States that, under your leadership, dear Joe, the U.S. has committed itself very clearly and unequivocally to multilateralism, be it on climate, be it on reform of the World Health Organization, and support also to WTO.

Germany and the United States have agreed to provide vaccine doses to poorer countries; we work within COVAX, as I said.

We talked about the challenge of climate change. And I am very happy that the United States are now back again with us in the Paris Climate Agreement and for Glasgow. That provides us with a totally different basis in order to work among the parties to the treaty better -- in a much better and much more efficient way for climate.

And we see countries that are (INAUDIBLE) by floodings, by wildfires, and by storms in an increasing manner, and that shows that there is a dramatic increase in such unusual weather phenomena and we have to contend with this.

Germany and the United States have now forged an Energy and Climate Partnership. I think it's a very important message that we're sending here. We want to build on future-oriented technologies, green hydrogen, for example, renewables, electromobility. We're in competition with others on this planet, and we would like to be successful together. And Germany is very much looking forward to cooperating in this respect.

And I support the President in what he proposed as a global infrastructure project, which we agreed on the G7 summit. Next year, as you probably know, we will have the chairmanship of the presidency of the G7, and we will bring this project forward.

We talked about Russia and Ukraine and, in this context, also about Nord Stream 2. We've come to different assessments as to what this project entails. But let me say very clearly, our idea is and remains that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas, that Ukraine, just as any other country in the world, has a right to territorial sovereignty, which is why we've become engaged and continue to be engaged in the Minsk Process.


We will be actively acting should Russia not respect this right of Ukraine that it has as a transit country. So Nord Stream 2 is an additional project, and sadly not a project to replace any kind of transit to Ukraine. Anything else would obviously create a lot of tension. And we're also talking about how we can actually make this very clear together.

We also talked about other priorities in our foreign policy, or example, our relationship with China. We are countries who stand up for free, democratic societies, stand up for those rights, civic rights for those who live in these societies. So wherever human rights are not guaranteed, we will make our voices heard, and make clear that we don't agree with this. We are also for territorial integrity of all countries of the world.

We also talked about the many facets of cooperation and also of competition with China, be it in the economic area, be it on climate protection, be it in military -- in the military sector, and on security. And, obviously there are a lot of challenges ahead.

On the nuclear agreement with Iran, JCPOA, we think that everything ought to be done in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. But I think that is something that is also -- the ball very much here is also in the Iranian camp.

Now, over many, many years, we've served together in Afghanistan. We've been able to contain to a certain degree, terrorist dangers. But, unfortunately, we have not been able to build a nation as we would like it to look. And still, I would hold, it was a good partnership, has been a good partnership with the United States, also had this experience, also very good contacts between our soldiers. And our soldiers greatly appreciated that.

We also talked about the Sahel, the Sahel zone where terrorism is on the rampage. And obviously for us in Europe, this is a great challenge. We're very, and also for the countries on the ground, we're very grateful to the United States for their mission in order to contain and push back against these terrorist advances.

We also have a drawn up a -- German -- we've also agreed on a German- American dialogue between our business communities, because we have considerable trade links and we wish to build on this. And, obviously, the economy and economy ties of prime importance as it was a very, very good exchange with close partners. I would like this to remain even after I have left office.

And I think with this visit, we probably paved the way to make it possible to also create formats where we can exchange, because the world will continue to be a place that is full of challenges. So thank you very much for making it possible for us to tackle those together. Thank you.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. We're each going to take two questions. And I'm going to begin by recognizing Steve Portnoy and congratulate you on your new role as President of the White House Correspondents Association.


BIDEN: My sympathies. No, but thank you.

PORTNOY: I appreciate that, sir. On behalf of the press corps, thank you. And we're looking forward to the day we can have even more reporters all the way to the back of the room. So thank you very much.

I have a couple of questions for you, also a question for the Chancellor. Mr. President, with respect to Latin America and the developments there in the last week-plus --


PORTNOY: -- what are the circumstances under which you would send American troops to Haiti? That's the first question. The second question is, when it comes to Cuba, what is your current thinking on American sanctions toward Cuba and the embargo? And today, your press secretary said that communism is a failed ideology? I assume that's your view. I was wondering if you could also give us your view on socialism.

And then for the Chancellor. The question is, Madam, the President said that you know the Oval Office as well as he does. I'm wondering if you could reflect on your exchanges with American presidents over the last 16 years, and particularly contrast the current President with his most immediate predecessor.

BIDEN: In two minutes or less. Obviously, I know why they elected you president. Well, let me start off by answering the question relative to Haiti, and Cuba, and communism is a failed system, universally failed system. And I don't see socialism as a very useful substitute. But that's another story.

With regard to whether the circumstances in which we would send military troops to Haiti, we were only sending American Marines to our embassy to make sure that they are secure and nothing is out of whack at all. But the idea of sending American forces into Haiti is not on the agenda at this moment, number one.


Number two, with regard to Cuba. Cuba is a, unfortunately, a failed state in repressing their citizens. There are a number of things that we would consider doing to help the people of Cuba. But it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government. For example, the ability to send remittances to -- back to Cuba. I would not do that now, because the fact is, it's highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it.

With regard to the need COVID, I'm assuming they have a COVID problem on -- in Cuba, I'd be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccine if, in fact, I was assured an international organization would administer those vaccines, and do it in a way that average citizens would have access to those vaccines. And one of the things that you did not ask, but we're considering is they've cut off access to the internet. We're considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access.

And I think I've answered your questions. Thank you.

MERKEL (through translation): Allow me if I may to elaborate on three different points. Any German Chancellor has a vested interest to talk -- and that's in -- very much in the vested interests of Germany, to work and talk together with any American president. We've always had contacts and we -- you've been able to -- it was, I think, a very transparent. And today, it was a very friendly exchange.

Oh, sorry, I have to call Mr. Kynast and his German question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Thank you very much, Madam Chancellor. Mr. President, allow me if I may to ask a question as regards Nord Stream 2. Madam Chancellor, you just said that you would act actively, should Russia be in breach of its commitments, for example, interrupt gas transit through Ukraine? What do you mean in concrete terms? Or Germany then switch off Nord Stream 2 from the German side? And what sort of legal grounds would you be sort of claiming?

Mr. President, you have fought so many years, the U.S. has fought so many years against Nord Stream 2. Now, there will be only a few days left until this pipeline comes into operation. Why -- will you allow it to go ahead, to put it in operation, or will the people who operate the system actually have to contend with sanctions on the horizon?

MERKEL (through translation): Well, Mr. Kynast, as the Chancellor, you know that we've worked a lot -- not only Germany incidentally, but the whole of the European Commission -- for talking to Russia and Ukraine, negotiating a treaty that ensures until 2023 the gas contract and, after that, gas deliveries must be possible as well. And that is what I've heard at least. Let me be very careful here in my wording.

And then should that not go ahead, we have a number of instruments at our disposal, which are not necessarily on the German side, but on the European side. For example, sanctions and as regards, Crimea and breach of the Minsk treaty has shown that we have these sanctions -- these instruments at our disposal. We have possibilities to react. We are in contact with our European friends on this. But at the point in time of which I hope we will never have to take those decisions, you will then see what we do.

BIDEN: My view on Nord Stream 2 has been known for some time. Good friends can disagree. And -- but by the time I became President, it was 90 percent completed. And imposing sanctions did not seem to make any sense. It made more sense to work with the Chancellor on finding out how she'd proceed based on whether or not Russia tried to, essentially, blackmail Ukraine in some way.

And so, the Chancellor and I have asked our teams to look at practical measures we could take together, and whether or not Europe energy security, Ukraine security are actually strengthened or weakened based on Russian actions. And so this is a -- we'll see. We'll see.


Ms. Leonard of Bloomberg.

JENNY LEONARD, BLOOMBERG REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. I have two questions for you, and then some for Chancellor Merkel as well. Your administration, tomorrow, is issuing a business advisory for Hong Kong. I was wondering if you can explain why you think that is necessary.

And then, secondly, on your Build Back Better agenda, have you spoken to Senators Manchin and Sinema about the $3.5 trillion framework, and are you confident that they'll be on board at that level? And if they demand that you lose some components, will you be able to keep progressives on board?

(through translation): I wanted to ask you whether you have a feeling that, after the talk with President Biden, he better understands your viewpoint as regards to China or whether the situation is still tense, whether there is still decoupling. And secondly, whether you think that the United States has contributed enough to vaccinate the rest of the world, or do you think it's only -- is it appropriate for children in the United States being vaccinated -- children below the age of 12, while adults in other countries have no chance to get vaccinated?

BIDEN: That's all? I thought I said we'd take two questions, but I guess that translated to, we'd take two questions or more from each person called on.

Let me talk about the business advisory. The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made how it would deal with Hong Kong. And so it is more of an advisory as to what may happen in -- on Hong Kong. It's as simple as that and as complicated as that.

With regard to, am I confident, I'm supremely confident that everything is going to work out perfectly in terms -- look, I understand why the press, among others, is skeptical that I can actually get this deal done on infrastructure and on human infrastructure. And I've watched and listened, and the press declared my initiative dead at least 10 times so far. I don't think it's dead, I think it's still alive. I still have confidence we're going to be able to get what I proposed and what I've agreed to in the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure.

I've gotten -- we've each committed -- I trust the members of the Republican senators who have made the commitments relative to how we should proceed and what would be included in the package for infrastructure. And they're men and women of honor, and I expect they would keep their commitment.

With regard to the further issue of what's going on and what will confuse the listening audience -- but reconciliation -- that is the mechanism by which you have to get every single Democrat to agree to proceed on matters like what I announced today. Today -- I don't know whether you have any children; it's none of my business whether you do, but if you do, you're going to get -- if you're making less than $150,000 -- you're going to get a significant stipend that is a tax cut. If you have a child under the age of seven years old, you're going to get -- in your bank account today, you're going to get a payment of one -- 12 months divided -- $3,600 -- $3,700 for that child divided by 12 every month, just like a Social Security check.

It's expected to reduce child poverty by over 40 percent. And it could be a significant, significant game-changer.

We have mechanisms to pay for both these mechanisms. And there may be some last-minute discussion as to who -- what mechanism is used to pay for each of these items, both the infrastructure package and the human infrastructure package. But I believe we will get it done. Thank you.

MERKEL (through translation): We talked about China, and there is a lot of common understanding that China, in many areas, is our competitor; that trade with China needs to rest on the assumption that we have a level playing field so that we all, well, play by the same rules, have the same standards. That, incidentally, was also the driving force behind the E.U.-China Agreement on trade that they abide by the core labor norms of ILO.


And we are convinced of our needing to be technological leaders for our countries, two countries in both -- in many, many areas. Obviously, it's legitimate for China wishing to do this as well but, for example, we will cooperate in many technological state-of-the-art technologies, for example, CHIPS. I think the act that the President launched is fundamental in this respect and crucial.

And we want to trade together at a time of digitalization where security issues loom very large in our agenda -- as we ought to have an exchange on this, we ought to talk about this; we ought to talk about norms, standards that govern the internet, whether we can agree on common norms. I think, particularly as regards to the relationship of us with China, we ought to coordinate our efforts. We do that in the European Union, and we should do it with the United States.

And then there are interests, obviously -- sometimes divergent interests, but sometimes common interests. But we also have, obviously, areas where American companies compete with European companies, and we have to accept that. But I think, basically, the rules as to how we deal with China ought to rest and do rest on our shared values.

And I think, on the pandemic, we are obviously of the opinion that the pandemic -- we can only master the pandemic if each and every one is vaccinated. We are trying to boost production. We are trying also to get as many people in our country vaccinated as possible, which obviously opens us up to criticism of those countries who has yet have not had the chance, which is why we invested a lot of money in COVAX, which is why we encourage our companies to increase their production of vaccines.

And, in Africa, we are trying to help Africans to upskill people so that they, too, can have their own production sites. We're going to do this, but, de facto, there is an imbalance, I agree. And -- but we're overcoming. We're putting our all into that and also together in overcoming that imbalance.

I'm sorry. I call on Ms. Schauble from Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. Thank you.

JULIANE SCHAUBLE, U.S. CORRESPONDENT FOR DER TAGESSPIEGEL: Very short one for each of you. Mr. President, my question -- my first question touches an issue that worries a lot of people in the U.S. and in Germany. Can you explain to us why there still is a travel ban for people coming from Germany or other states of the European Union, while people from Turkey, where the number of new cases are seven times as high can come?

You have repeatedly said that you're following scientific data, what is the main argument for not lifting that travel ban for the Schengen region?

And, Chancellor Merkel --

(through translation): -- you talked to the business companies here. You heard their concerns. You heard their headaches. Some have threatened that they're going to shift business away from the United States. What was your main argument to work for a lifting of the travel ban? And have you had success with this?

BIDEN: We brought in the head of our COVID team because the Chancellor brought that subject up. It's in the process of feeling (ph) how soon we can lift the ban, it's in process now. And I'll be able to answer that question to you within the next several days, what is likely to happen. I'm waiting to hear from our folks in our COVID team as to when that should be done.

And the Chancellor did raise it.

MERKEL (through translation): I did raise the issue, yes, and got the same answer that the President gave you just now. The COVID team is evaluating the matter. We had an exchange on -- in both areas.

The Delta variant actually being on the increase, that is, again, a new challenge to both of us. And obviously, before such a decision, one has to reflect, and it has to be a sustainable decision. It is certainly not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days. So I'm -- have every confidence in the American COVID team.

BIDEN: Having been here many times, if we don't leave right now, we're going to miss dinner. Chancellor and I have a dinner with some -- a number of folks, and very shortly.


So, thank you for your attention and thank you for your questions. Thank you.

MERKEL: Thank you.

TAPPER: You have been listening to President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the eastern with the White House taking questions from reporters. After their White House meeting, Biden opened up his remarks by praising Merkel's more than 15 years as Germany's first female Chancellor then saying the two leaders had talked about many topics including relations with China and Russia fighting the pandemic, fighting climate change.

When the floor open to reporters questions, Biden addressed the crisis in Cuba. He called the communist Island a failed state and announced his administration is looking into providing technology that would return internet access to the island after the Cuban government blocked internet service as a way to stave off protesters and suppress free speech. Biden also said good friends can disagree, referring to the controversial Russian pipeline that Merkel and Biden disagree on.

Let's discuss all this with CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson and Jamie Gangel. Jamie, you heard these two leaders compliment one another, highlight areas where they agree, it was largely amicable, stark difference from Merkel's relationship with Donald Trump, although she did not engage when asked to compare the two men.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I think the most striking thing today was a complete change in tone from, as you pointed out, President Biden talking about friendship. And I did notice that Chancellor Merkel, what we call dodged the question when she was asked to compare President Biden and then President Trump, she did not go there, no place close to it.

I also thought that your point about Biden's coming out very quickly saying, quote, good friends can disagree. That seems to be the crux of what he was trying to do. There were a lot of disagreements there, we -- and we just heard about one at the end about lifting the ban. But just overall, the tone, the tenor, it could not be any more different than the last four years.

TAPPER: And we should note also, Nia-Malika, how strong Biden's comments were about Cuba, not only about Cuba being a failed state, but about communism being a failed system. There are some people on the left who have been reluctant to criticize the Cuban government, which has been oppressing its people for decades. Biden was not having any of it. He said it was a failed government. And he called communism a failed system was less critical, but also harsh when it came to socialism.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that's right. And in some ways, it's also a contrast from what we saw from the Obama administration too in the relationship that he embarked on with Cuba being much more open. And now we see a different stance from this person who was the vice president to Obama. So this was striking.

The other thing, this idea of whether or not there's going to be some sort of intervention, not only in Haiti, but also in Cuba, and the President saying, not at this time, but in terms of Cuba, perhaps putting the internet back online, perhaps there's some sort of technology that the U.S. could employ, so that those citizens there who are protesting this repressive regime could get the word out and communicate with the rest of the world about what's going on there. And of course, things have taken such a dire turn in the aftermath of COVID. And the President also talking about possibly supplying vaccines to Cuban citizens as well, but very concerned about any sort of intervention, any sort of support going straight to the Cuban government.

TAPPER: And Jamie, I mean, this is politically an opportunity for Joe Biden, given the fact that he lost Florida, there is a large contingent of voters in Florida, who are disgusted with the communist government in Cuba, disgusted with the government of Venezuela as well. And you heard him, Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Cuba, who happens to be Cuban American, pushing for this idea of let's give the Cuban people internet privileges that their government is denying them.

I think Secretary of State Pompeo, I think, he did something similar in Iran. Well, this would be obviously a little bit easier. This is an opportunity for Biden and he seems to be willing to listen.

GANGEL: Absolutely. The first thought -- thing I thought of actually was the State of Florida and the political implication.


He did not have to say today that they were looking for a technological way to bring the internet back and communication back. I don't think that was any accident. That was definitely a signal he wanted that message out there. And to Nia-Malika's point, there is a sense here, that there is a difference between President Joe Biden and the Obama administration. And he was putting that marker down as well.

TAPPER: And then Nia-Malika, also one of the other areas of disagreement, there are lots of areas of disagreement, to be quite honest. I mean, Biden wants to allow companies to make vaccines without having to use the intellectual copyright laws. He wants to open that up but Merkel is not there. Merkel is not willing to be as hardline on China, as Biden wants to be, and on and on. Obviously, there's also the issue having to do with Nord Stream 2, the pipeline.

But in the few remaining minutes I have left, I want to bring in CNN's Patrick Oppmann, who our CNN Reporter, who's in Havana, he joins us on the phone. And Patrick, Biden, the President today saying that the United States is looking at restoring internet service in Cuba. I remember last time I saw you in Cuba in 2015, when the Obama administration was opening, opening the embassy there, it was still a situation where social media was very spotty, you'd have to go downtown in Havana, and you could internet access for like an hour, and then they would shut it down. What would this mean, if the United States provided technology, so Cubans could have access to the internet?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the only reason we know about the protests that swept across this island this week, is because of the internet, which is in the sound strange for people, perhaps elsewhere. But a recent invention, in this island, it's a recent something that Cubans have only been able to get ahold of recently. And this is how they've used it in the last few days by showing pictures, first of the protests and then other police crackdown of them. So it has been a game-changer and that is something that happened through the Obama engagement.

Over the last several days, we've seen the internet service first cut off, and then severely limited, so people cannot share photos and videos and live streams of the protests, as they were happening. Clearly says this is the Cuban government wave of trying to stop these protests from moving forward. But, you know, for me, the big takeaway is we've all been wondering now for a while what Joe Biden's -- President Biden's Cuba policy was going to be the administration process, is said for months, that it was unrevealed. I think we now know what it is. And it can be very, very different from President Barack Obama's policy.

How feasible is it for the United States government to turn on the internet in Cuba? I don't know. It's completely controlled by the government here. We only have one state run company that controls the internet. They can turn it on, as we've seen this week, and put it off. And we saw President Biden last several days tell Cuba to not crack down on the protesters, let the protests continue on. And the Cuban government has said that it is their right to handle internal affairs, how they want to do that. And that means that they have continued to crack down, that ignore that call by the Biden administration.

So I think you're going to see a deepening division between the Cuban government and the Biden administration and simply a government here that's not paying any mind to what's coming out of Washington.

TAPPER: Big difference on between Biden and Obama, of course, when it comes to the view of Cuba. Joe Biden, born in 1942, remembers the Cuban revolution that ended in 1959 when Castro and the communists took over. Barack Obama Born in 1962, has no memory of that happening.

Let's bring in CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins, who was in the room for final thoughts. Kaitlan, what was your big takeaway from that presser?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the most significant was the question that still remains, which is what is going on with the travel ban that the U.S. still has in place for several countries. That is something that apparently the German Chancellor herself asked President Biden today and he says they brought him members of his COVID-19 team to talk about this. They did not really give an explanation. She says she essentially got the same answer that the reporters got just there, which is that President Biden says his COVID-19 team is actively assessing this, what they are going to do, whether or not they are going to lift some of those restrictions.

A lot of those restrictions we've reported have been in place because of the Delta variant and that is something that, of course, is already present here in the United States. So Jake, the President said he'd give us an update in a few days.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us now.

Our coverage right now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in The Situation Room. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.