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Trump's Meeting with Britain's PM; May talks about Allies; May talks about Russia; Pence Speaks at March; Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 27, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: AT THIS HOUR, everybody.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: "Inside Politics" with John King, it starts right now.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: John and Kate, thank you.
And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some time with us today.
Another busy and consequential day. The Donald Trump presidency, as we speak, now hitting the one week mark. And what a hectic and fascinating week it has been.
A live look right now here at the annual March for Life out on the National Mall. The anti-abortion movement is re-energized because of actions and promises from the new Trump White House. And this year's march is getting unprecedented White House attention. Vice President Mike Pence will speak to the marchers in just a few minutes. And we will take you there live when it happens.
And happening now at the White House, a big face-to-face first step on to the world stage. President Trump is meeting with the British prime minister, Theresa May. Stay right here as we gear up for the new president's first White House press conference. That scheduled for just one hour from now.
It is a giant test. The new president's first steps on the world stage have been, sufficed to say, a bit rocky. A war of words and threats of a trade war with Mexico, whose president abruptly canceled a planned trip to Washington when President Trump signed an order urging fast action on a new border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's the president yesterday. The meeting underway this hour is also fascinating. Both the president and prime minister owe their jobs to blue collar frustration with globalism and immigration, but these are two very different leaders. President Trump calls the NATO alliance obsolete. Prime Minister May calls it essential. He talks of making friends with Vladimir Putin. She says, be very careful. President Trump's America first mantra has allies rattled. And the prime minister is here, first and foremost, hoping, hoping, to learn firsthand that such blunt talk is more slogan than strategy shift.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We, our two countries together, have a responsibility to lead, because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain, and the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast," and Ed O'Keefe of "The Washington Post."
As we wait to hear from these two leaders today, let's just step back for a second. A week in, if there's a Trump doctrine on the world stage, it's the same as it is on the domestic stage, it's disruption, do things differently, challenge the status quo. What's your biggest question today as we look for the president to stand side-by-side with a key U.S. ally, the British prime minister?
LISA LERER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I mean, it is remarkable. There's been no terrorist attack. There's been no global unrest of any kind. And there's been chaos across the world as a result of Trump coming into office. So, you know, I think people are going to be watching to see if he understands the dynamics of this relationship.
Theresa May is in a difficult spot. On the one hand, he's been a strong supporter of Brexit, and she needs to get a trade deal with the U.S. for when the U.K. eventually leaves the E.U. On the other hand, she's also trying to cut a deal for the exit from the E.U., with the E.U., who's been very skeptical of Trump and is very concerned that he's working to weaken the European alliance. So she's dealing with her own difficult political dynamics, and it's going to be interesting to see how cognizant President Trump is of those - those politics at play for her.
JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": And he's already made that kind of awkward. I mean he cheered Brexit. She didn't really support Brexit.
KUCINICH: He said that Nigel Farage, who is not a friend of Theresa May, should be the ambassador to the U.K. I mean so there are several things that have already happened to make this quite an awkward first meeting between these two leaders. And he's already met with some of her - the opposition in the U.K. So they'll have a lot of talk about. I wonder if they broach these - that kind of topic.
KING: And yet - and yet she's trying to make the most of this. And you mentioned, very important for her to, a, have the security relationship, and to get a new economic relationship, a bilateral trade agreement. She was very impressive when she spoke - an unusual appearance - before Republican congressional members gathered in Philadelphia yesterday. And listen here, Donald Trump has said NATO is obsolete. Now, does he really mean that? Does he want to break up the alliance? Or is it just his words for his criticism that a lot of the other NATO nations don't pony up. They don't pay their dues. They don't spend enough on the defense budget. Here's - listen to Theresa May here essentially saying, America must stay engaged, but offering President Trump a little help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot and should not do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up, and I agree. Sovereign countries cannot outsource their security and prosperity to America, and they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up and play their part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:05:11] KING: She's kind of trying to massage there what Trump has said about the alliance. And you can be certain, the president - President Trump will speak - this first conversation with Vladimir Putin is on Saturday - but also with the leaders of Germany and France as president. Those conversations will be Saturday. I'm going to put a little money here - I don't know who wants to take the bet - that when Theresa May is clear of the White House, Angela Merkel and President Hollande, they're going to want to talk to her pretty quickly about, what he is like, what does he mean, how much do we follow the words?
JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, no, exactly. I think there's going to be a sort of very robust game of telephone going on there. So, you know, what actually is he like in private? I actually talked yesterday to a fellow who's very plugged into the Trump White House who was telling me about the panic that actually ensued the day after election day in embassies all across Washington because they all thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. They were getting - you know, getting ready for that. And that they literally didn't know anybody in the Trump's orbit and they had to scramble to find literally his phone number to call him. And I think you've seen the Brits try to sort of deal with that here in recent weeks, to try and get in there fast and first. But nobody really knows how he's going to approach the world. This is all a blank slate, John.
LERER: And, of course, during his - you know, during the campaign, his advisors frequently reprimanded reporters by saying, take him seriously but not literally.
LERER: And that's what his supporters do. It doesn't seem like that's what world leaders do or Congress. So I think he also has a learning curve here where he's learning that once you're president, your words really matter.
KING: Right, and to that point, he does have a learning curve I think of how to speak -
MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE), yes.
KING: And how to act in these - in these settings that are designed by protocol.
KING: But he wants to bust a lot of these protocol -
MARTIN: I know.
KING: So they're going to have to learn too. I think this is going to have to be a two-way street -
KING: Or else there's going to be a lot of misunderstanding.
ED O'KEEFE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, I think, actually, there's more pressure on May, especially back home, to deliver here in the next three hours. That if this does not go well for her, the press, her own party, and the British public may be very concerned that she rushed over here before really understanding the new government, the new administration and may not walk away with the assurances that she needs to go home and say, we're getting out of Brexit, but we've still got the Americans. Everything's going to be OK.
KING: It's a great point, she gets the prestige of being the first world leader to get a face-to-face with Donald Trump at his territory.
O'KEEFE: He doesn't have any (INAUDIBLE).
KING: The question is, is it worth (ph) it.
Before you jump in, I just want to get - one of the big questions here the European alliance has is, what about all this talk from Donald Trump about being more friendly with Vladimir Putin? Kellyanne Conway, the president's councilor, said in a television interview this morning that easing sanctions against Russia is one of the things being considered at the White House. The western alliance leaders don't want that. Listen to Theresa May here, the prime minister, giving her view of how President Trump should deal with the president of Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: When it comes to Russia, as so often, it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan, who during his negotiations with his opposite number (ph), Mikhail Gorbachev, used to abide by the adage, trust but verify.
With President Putin, my advice is to engage, but beware. But we should engage with Russia from a position of strength, and we
should build the relationships, systems, and processes that make cooperation more likely than conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: An effort to kind of gently lightly move him.
MARTIN: And good advice by the staff at 10 Downing Street, by the way, to make sure that her speech to Republican caucus included a good Reagan shout-out, knowing that that would go over well. And also, by the way, a Tory female prime minister, who does that remind you of?
KUCINICH: Yes, but this is not that relationship yet and it doesn't look -
KUCINICH: I mean because Reagan and Thatcher had a warm relationship and this is - these are opposite people, May and Trump. Trump is a showman. Theresa May is more of a -
MARTIN: No, but I'm talking about her invoking Reagan's name to the members of Congress.
MARTIN: Who, obviously, revere Ronald Reagan. You know, it makes sense.
Yes, of course. Look, whether it's Jim Mattis or John McCain or Theresa May, there is a sort of, you know, fairly strong consensus among a lot of people, the center right, about, you know, Putin's not to be trusted.
KING: Right. John McCain just issuing a statement. Senator John McCain of Arizona -
KING: Saying - yes, saying that if you - he hopes the president rejects any advice to ease these sanctions, but that if he tries to move that way, that he will work in Congress to codify, to make law the sanctions. So this is not only a big question as world leaders begin to get to know our new president. It is a source of tension early on with his fellow Republicans.
LERER: And this is an administration that's not speaking with one voice on this issue.
LERER: What we heard from some of these nominees in the confirmation hearings, they took a much tougher line on Russia than the president himself. So if you're a world leader trying to decipher where they are, I mean given the many messages coming out of the White House, that can be an awfully hard thing to sort out.
KING: And this - you mentioned the point, Jonathan, that a lot of global leaders were shocked. They thought the election was going to go the other way.
One of the things that concerned them is the overriding theme. And again, as Lisa said, a lot of people around Trump, close to this president, very loyal to the president, say, don't take him literally.
KING: He's trying to send a signal with his words, but then follow his actions. But these words right here in this inaugural address, this is what a lot - a lot of people in world capitals, friends and foes, are saying, wait a minute, is the United States about to make a big retreat from the world stage?
[12:10:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries, making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but, rather, to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is what they're asking in Paris and in Berlin -
KING: And in London. And, for that matter, in Tehran and in Moscow. What exactly does that mean when it comes to NATO alliance? What does it mean when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal?
KUCINICH: And China.
KING: Of course. Yes.
KUCINICH: I mean - I mean, here's the thing. If the United States pulls back, if - there's not just going to be a spot left there. People will come in to fill the void, particularly when you're talking about trade. China is probably more than happy to call up Mexico and strike some new deals as a result. And we don't know that it will lead to more prosperity. That is not clear.
LERER: And Trump hasn't really taken steps to clarify any of this. He hasn't sort of laid out his foreign policy in a big address or any sort of comprehensive way. He's done sort of interviews here and there. The plans during the campaign were left vague, perhaps deliberately. So he's not really giving those assurances.
O'KEEFE: You know, John, I - I was skimming Spanish newspapers this morning regarding the Mexican president's decision not to come. Across Mexico, across Latin America, over to Spain, a lot of those countries saying good for him for cancelling that meeting amid the uncertainty, amid the disrespect that they believe he was shown. We should all take cue from Mexico on what to do here.
And, yes, Democrats on Capitol Hill, who represent Texas and other border states, other business leaders have warned China is ready, willing, and already there -
O'KEEFE: Not only in Mexico, but across Latin America, building factories, exporting goods. They are more than happy to step in. And - and that will be one of the big counter arguments to all of this, that if you do this, this only helps China.
KING: And it's a great issue because of the long game and the short game. Politicians often play the short game in the sense that for both President Trump and the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, this helps them. This - you know, this helps them -
KUCINICH: Absolutely right.
KING: This helps them in the moment to stand up for their supporters to look tough, to look like they're ready to have the fight. The question is whether it's Mexico, whether it's China, whether it's anyone else. In the long-term, what disruption does it cause in incredibly valuable economic relationships? The president's right when he says the trade deficit is something he wants to address. But five million jobs in the United States dependent on their relationship with Mexico. What happens if you get into a fight there?
As we continue the conversation, listen to these words, because we're just meeting the new Trump team, and their words are one thing. We will see in the days and weeks and months ahead what it means on the world stage. This is the new ambassador to the United Nations, the former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, showing up at the United Nations, an organization that all Republican administrations in recent years have heaped a bit of scorn on. You want to know if there's a new sheriff in town? Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: There is a new U.S. U.N. We talked to the staff yesterday, and you are going to see a change in the way we do business. Our goal with the administration is to show value at the U.N. And the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies, and make sure that our allies have our back as well. For those that don't have our back, we're taking names. We will make points to respond to that accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MARTIN: It's remarkable. We're taking names.
KING: Hang - hang tight. Hang tight. We're taking names from Nikki Haley at the United Nations. Another big signal early on from the administration.
The vice president of the United States, first time this has happened, speaking to the March for Life here in Washington. Let's listen.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Karen and Charlotte. And thank all of you. On behalf of President Donald Trump, my wife, Karen, our daughter, Charlotte, I'd like to welcome you all to Washington, D.C., for the 44th annual March for Life.
It's a good day. And it's the best day I've ever seen for the March of Life in more ways than one.
[12:15:08] I'm deeply humbled to stand before you today. Deeply humbled to be the first vice president of the United States to ever have the privilege to attend this historic day.
More than 240 years ago, our founders wrote words that have echoed through the ages. They declared these truths to be self-evident that we are, all of us, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. And that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Forty-four years ago, our Supreme Court turned away from the first of these timeless ideals. But today, three generations hence, because of all of you and the many thousands who stand with us in marches like this all across the nation, life is winning again in America. That is evident in the election of pro-life majorities, in the Congress of the United States of America. But it is no more evident in any way than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life, President Donald Trump.
President Trump actually asked me to be here with you today. He asked me to thank you for your support, for your stand for life and for your compassion for the women and children of America.
One week ago today, on the steps of the Capitol, we saw the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. I can tell you firsthand, our president is a man with broad shoulders and a big heart. This vision, this energy, his optimism are boundless, and I know he will make America great again.
From his first day in office, he's been keeping his promises to the American people. I like to say over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we're in the promise keeping business. That's why on Monday, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy to prevent foreign aid from funding organizations that promote or perform abortions worldwide. That's why this administration will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers. And we will devote those resources to health care services for women across America. And that's why next week President Donald Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.
You know, life is winning in America. And today is a celebration of that progress. The progress that we've made in this cause. You know, I've long believed that a society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. We've come to a historic moment in the cause of life, and we must meet this moment with respect and compassion for every American.
[12:20:11] Life is winning in America for many reasons. Life is winning through the steady advance of science that illuminates when life begins more and more every day. Life is winning through the generosity of millions of adoptive families who open their hearts and homes to children in need. Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations who minister to women in the cities and towns across this country. And life is winning through the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables and over coffee at college campuses. The truth is being told, compassion is overcoming convenience, and hope is defeating despair.
In a word, life is winning in America because of all of you. So I urge you to press on. But as it is written, let your gentleness be evident to all. Let this movement be known for love, not anger. Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation. When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness.
I believe we will continue to win the hearts and minds of the rising generation if our hearts first break for young mothers and their unborn children. And if we, each of us, do all we can to meet them where they are with generosity, not judgment.
To heal our land and restore a culture of life, we must continue to be a movement that embraces all, cares for all, and shows respect for the dignity and worth of every person. Enshrined on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial are the words of our third president, who admonished us so long ago to remember that God who gave us life gave us liberty.
On behalf of the president of the United States and my little family, we thank you for your stand for life. We thank you for your compassion. We thank you for your love for the women and children of America. And be assured - be assured, along with you, we will not grow weary. We will not rest until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
KING: The vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, former congressman before that, doing something unprecedented, the highest ranking official ever to personally address the March for Life here in Washington, D.C. The big annual event of the anti-abortion movement. Ronald Reagan used to telephone in from time to time during these events. Never before has someone with the rank of vice president directly addressed the rally.
Earlier today, the president of the United States tweeting out from the @realdonaldtrump account, "@vpmikepence will be speaking at today's March for Life. You have our full support."
Hard sometimes to get into full context the sea change that is happening here in Washington, but we're going to move now from the March for Life, unprecedented there, to a big event at the White House. The first meeting between the president of the United States and a foreign leader. It's the British prime minister Theresa May, here moments ago in the Oval Office.
[12:25:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) do this, but (INAUDIBLE)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: You'll see one picture tomorrow (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: This is the original - this is the original, in many ways. In many ways. And it's a great honor to have Winston Churchill back.
MAY: Well, thank you, Mr. President. We're very pleased.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MAY: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You see right there and excuse the shaky shots. The White House press pool gets a little jostled at the end of those meetings. More change there. There the prime minister of Great Britain, Theresa May, meeting with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, at the White House in the Oval Office. And again, more change. In the past administrations, Democrat and Republican, such a meeting, the leaders usually seated by the fireplace. Often we get at least brief hello remarks, cordial remarks there. Just a little small talk between the two leaders about an event that is very significant to the United Kingdom, the Brits, and to this president, the Winston Churchill bust that was not in the Oval Office during the Obama administration has been restored.
But, again, to my point, more change. A lot for these two late leaders to discuss. A lot of agreement. But also a lot of potential disagreement, which I'm guessing is why they did it a different way so you don't have the mess of shouted questions.
MARTIN: And just the risk of improvisation for a president who is not as comfortable on his feet when it comes to dealing with substantive policy issues as past presidents. Obviously he - I think his staff will want him to be more well-prepped for the formal press conference and if you happen to speak there, you kind of risk some kind of a - a gaff. And, obviously, pointing to the Churchill bust is sort of easy, straight forward politics.
But, by the way, some things, John, don't change from presidents, and that is the saying of, thank you, thanks, you guys, to usher the press pool out of the Oval Office there.
O'KEEFE: Never works.
MARTIN: It never works. They always stick around.
O'KEEFE: We like to stick around.
KING: Often, though, you do hear a lot of shouted questions. Sometimes the reports, because they're being pushed out, start shouting questions.
MARTIN: That's right.
KING: That was actually a pretty calm there, and you're getting a look at - you know, let's remember, as this president has this first meeting, a lot of his team is not in place. His secretary of state has not been confirmed yet, for example.
KING: But he does have this meeting at the White House. And, again, we talked a little bit at the top of the program, this is big for both leaders. Both leaders have - for Donald Trump it's his first introduction to the world stage. A key U.S. ally who he knows it's going to be, as you mentioned, on the phone with other world leaders saying what was he like in private because one of the things we learned in the campaign is that in the big rally setting there's one Donald Trump, but often in the smaller one-on-one or small group conversations, it's a very different Donald Trump.
KUCINICH: But one of the perilous things that these leaders will have to deal with is that sometimes the private Donald Trump, the person they spoke to in the meeting, doesn't remain the same Donald Trump. They walk out and all of a sudden on Twitter, you know, 24 hours later, he is tweeting about a different impression of the meeting that was given publically. So there are - there seems to be even more hurdles than perhaps in a more traditional format for these world leaders.
KING: Right. And the list of questions is - we could sit here for an hour if we wanted to go through them, but some, she wants a commitment that Donald Trump will stay in the Paris Climate Change Accord.
KING: The administration has not answered that definitively, but it is - he himself, the president, has questioned the science of climate change. She wants to know about the NATO alliance. If I help you to try to get some of the allies to increase their defense spending, increase their dues spending, will you stop calling the NATO alliance obsolete? How do we deal with Vladimir Putin? What about Afghanistan? What about the fight against ISIS? Are you going to still be friendly about Syria? I could go on a bit.
O'KEEFE: And he's not necessarily ready to unpack all of that. And so, again, that's - as I said earlier, there's a lot of risk for her if she goes home without answers to those questions. Will the British public accept the fact that she made this trip at all?
KING: Right. And yet she is a test case for what the president says he wants to do, get away from these big trans-Pacific partnerships, bit multi-country trade deals and do it one nation at a time bilaterally. The U.K. wants one desperately right now as it pulls out of the European Union.
MARTIN: But this is, I think, an important moment for us as sort of watchers of President Trump to figure out which faction is sort of winning out inside the White House.
MARTIN: It was clear from that inauguration speech that the Steves, Steve Bannon and Steven Miller, had the upper hand in the drafting of that speech. Hugely important symbolism.
MARTIN: Now we're more -
KING: Nationalist, America first, populist.
[12:29:59] MARTIN: Now we're moving from symbolism to substance. And you're talking about actual - you know, making of policy, standing there with our biggest ally traditionally of the U.K. How does he respond on that raft of questions that you just mentioned? And that will tell us what's happening internally there, who