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Trump Slaps Tariffs on Canada, Mexico, E.U. After China Tariffs; Trump to Reporters: Nuclear Summit with Kim Jong-Un Is On. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 1, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:32:02] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Key U.S. allies are vowing retaliation after the Trump administration slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on three of America's biggest trading partners, Canada, Mexico and the E.U. All are now threatening to target U.S. products. Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, blasting the tariffs, calling them unacceptable. And moments ago, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May says she is, quote, "deeply disappointed" at the tariffs. All of this happening and threatening to spark a global trade war on a second front after the White House did an abrupt turn this week providing tariffs on China just days after they were put on hold.
With me now, Wendy Cutler, the former acting deputy U.S. trade representative.
Wendy, nice to have you on. Welcome.
WENDY CUTLER, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: The White House economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, told CNBC, no, no, no, it is not a trade war, it's just a family disagreement. Is this a trade war, Wendy?
CUTLER: We're not in a full-fledged trade war. I would call it a serous trade dispute. But there's a real chance this may escalate into a trade war.
BALDWIN: He says family disagreement. I've read that you said, "We are alienating all of our friends and partners at a time when we could really use their support." I think you're alluding to what is swirling with North Korea. Tell me why that is so important right now.
CUTLER: Well, on North Korea, for sure, but also even in the trade world, we have serious trade problems with China and we are now negotiating with China. But history shows we're going to be more successful if we face China with a united front with our other trading partners. When we ask them for help now to support our position, they're not so enthusiastic about helping us in light of these steel and aluminum tariffs.
BALDWIN: I read the words of Trudeau, "Erasing the exemption for Canada, for Mexico, will certainly complicate any ongoing negotiations on NAFTA." The president warns there will be a, quote, "fair deal or no deal at all." Trudeau is blaming the complicated talks on this requirement from Vice President Mike Pence. How do you see this playing out?
CUTLER: We're in a tense time right now. Everybody needs to cool off a bit. Clearly, this latest action has thrown a monkey wrench into the NAFTA negotiations. There were clearly difficulties in the NAFTA negotiations, but I believe that ultimately we can reach an agreement with Canada and Mexico. But flexibility is required on both sides. But with these tariffs in the background, it's hard to see all three countries getting together and negotiating in a constructive manner. We're going to need to work through these tariff issues.
BALDWIN: How about you're in America, waking up to these jobs numbers. The unemployment rate is now at one of the lowest points in half a century. You see the graph there. How might that -- how might a trade war impact that?
[14:35:02] CUTLER: Well, a trade war could really wreak havoc on these job numbers and on the markets --
CUTLER: -- and on the U.S. economy and the global economy. For example, let's take the steel tariffs. Employment in steel in the United States is in the tens of thousands of jobs, but over two million workers and industries use steel and that's going to raise the prices of steel, making those products uncompetitive and may lead to layoffs in those sectors. Furthermore, when our trading partners are retaliating against us, they are raising --
BALDWIN: Forgive me, Wendy.
BALDWIN: I'm listening to you, but I'm looking at the back of the president's head.
Because now we're looking at -- they've been -- when I say they, this North Korean official and the president, they have been meeting inside the Oval Office. We know that he had passed along a letter, hand delivers this letter. Got this special permission to go outside his 25-mile radius in New York City to be able to travel to our nation's capital and do exactly what you're seeing here, pass along this letter from Kim Jong-Un.
Samantha Vinograd is with me. Samantha, this meeting has been going on for quite a while. It's
obviously wrapping up now. What's your read?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: My read is I have chills when I see this guy walking into the White House to be totally honest, Brooke. He does have a storied past. He's done a lot of really bad things. And I'm very unnerved, frankly, that the president spent this much time with him, largely because Kim Yong Chol is a pro. He's a seasoned negotiator. He has a lot of experience working on a lot of really bad things. And I wonder why the president would have given him this much time and what kind of detail they really went into, when President Trump -- and I don't know who else is this that meeting -- is not an arms control negotiator. He's not a State Department diplomat. It worries me that spent that much time together.
The question is whether they did come to some sort of agreement on what denuclearization means and what other concessions at a high level both sides were willing to offer.
BALDWIN: Let me take you back just to your first point. Yes, this is a huge deal, diplomatically. And you're right to have chills for a myriad of reasons. We haven't seen an official like this on U.S. soil in 18 years. Are you worried that the U.S. is getting played somehow?
VINOGRAD: I don't really think that we know. What I'm worried about right now is that we don't have a clear answer about what we're going for on June 12th, if that is a date we're working for. Denuclearization is a very broad term. And what's happening right now is we are seeing a splintering of opinions on what that means, but also a splintering among our coalition. We've had President Moon, of South Korea. He was last at the White House. Moved closer in some ways to Kim Jong-Un. We've had the North Koreans go to the Chinese, host the Russians. They seem to be playing a very smart diplomatic game. And I don't know that we have our ducks in a row internally in defining what denuclearization means and what we really want.
BALDWIN: Let's go to the other side of the White House.
Sam, stay with me.
Our senior White House correspondent, who has been keeping an eye on this, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, Kim Yong Chol is the man we're talking about, who was sent from North Korea, who is there with the president with, among others, presumably, translators and other officials.
Oh, is he going to speak?
Let's hang on just for a second.
[14:40:49] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, can you come talk to us?
(TRUMP ANSWERS REPORTERS' QUESTIONS FROM 14:40:50 TO 14:56:37) [14:56:37] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A little relaxation, a lot of work. We have a lot of calls set up. Calling a lot of the foreign leaders. I'm negotiating trade deals. I'm working. I'm working hard for you people.
Have a good time. Thank you.
BALDWIN: OK. There's a lot to break down there, from the president stopping to talk to the press after he met with Kim Yong Chol, this North Korean official. There are hints from the president the letter from Kim Jong-Un.
The headline, the first sentence, he said, we will be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. A couple other quotes from the president, "Should be an incredible success but we'll see what happens." He characterized the first meeting as a getting-to-know-you-meeting-plus.
My quandary is, in the first couple of minutes talking to the media, of course, everyone wants to know the contents of this letter from the North Korean dictator, hand delivered to the president of the United States. He said it was a nice letter, it was an interesting letter, and then five minutes later he didn't say he hadn't opened the letter. So there's that.
Jeff Zeleny, let me begin with you.
Just looking at that lingering good-bye and aware of all the cameras on him. I mean, we're watching history unfold, and it sounds like the show will go on.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT; Brooke, that is exactly what it sounds like. The show certainly is what was on the president's mind today when he had this long good-bye and the handshake, as you said. Just to the substance of the meeting, he said that the June 12th meeting is back on and it is, as he said, going to be the start of a relationship.
And he was pretty clear in saying, certainly ratcheting down any expectation that something will be solved there in terms of a denuclearization. He said this is the first of several meetings, the beginning of a process. But interestingly, the president said repeatedly he believes Kim Jong-Un is indeed committed to ending his nuclear program. He said this, he said, "I know he wants do that, I know he wants to develop as a country, I do think he wants to do it, but he wants to be careful in doing so." So, Brooke, that certainly signifies a process there.
But I think at this moment, if we just take a step back, it was on March 8th, less than two months ago, when President Trump standing here in the White House briefing room just behind me at the door, he walked into this briefing room and said, there's going to be an announcement this evening from South Korea. That was the very beginning of that. So from then, to right now, the first of June, Brooke, it does look like that meeting in Singapore is on, with all the flair and the drama that the president wanted people to see today that he is committed to this. But the fact that there was that long of a meeting in the Oval Office
with Kim Jong-Un's top deputy -- there's no one who was more at his side who is a personal envoy more than him, conveying this. But the questions remain, several remain, exactly when President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the chairman, as the president referred to him as, get together in a room, what specifically commitments will the U.S. give? What concessions will the U.S. give? That is something, Brooke, the president did not give a window into.
And, Gloria, to you next.
Obviously, this is so, so significant, diplomatically speaking. Again, if we can take that step back for a second. And we have all these pictures. You see Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, the other officials, part of this North Korean delegation. The long good- bye. I just want to marinade on this moment just for a second. What did you make of the --