tv Newsmakers Sen. Ben Cardin CSPAN July 27, 2018 10:00pm-10:32pm EDT
unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. joining us from baltimore for today's newsmakers is a member of the forms relations committee, senator ben cardin. thank you for being with us. >> it's good to be with you. >> we have and gear and of the washington post, and lisa mascaro, from the associated press, chief congressional correspondent. anne will go first. >> i wanted to ask you a little bit of what seemed to be a pretty consequential week in foreign policy news, in general, but particularly on the question of russia and the u.s. relationship with russia going forward. we heard a lot about that and
president trump's interaction with president putin during the hearing the other day with secretary of state mike pompeo. now there has been back and forth about whether an invitation to washington might proceed an invitation to moscow. what you think about where this relationship is headed, and whether you think it is a good idea for president trump to meet again with president putin so soon? was a summit in helsinki disaster. in moscow, they were cheering about it. in the white house, they were scrambling to try to salvage a lot of the comments. if you listened to the hearing in the senate foreign relations committee, mike pompeo tried to point out american policies have not changed. yet, the president's language
was a lot different than that. the first thing we need to know is what happened in that room? what understandings were reached between president trump and putin? we still don't know that. when we are talking about a follow-up meeting between the leaders, you need to understand what understandings were reached in helsinki. the follow-up meeting is to take the agreements and make progress on it. we don't know what those agreements are about. second point, it is a lot different meeting with a leader of russia in a neutral site such as helsinki, been here in the u.s. -- and then here in the u.s. it is hard to understand why the invitation was extended. >> you called it a disaster. i know that you and many of your colleagues spent a good bit of the hearing the other day trying to get mike pompeo to tell you
more about what happened between president putin and trump. are you satisfied that mike pompeo knows what happened? how far did you get in understanding whether there were any commitments made in that room? >> i don't have a great deal of confidence in -- and mr. pompeo knows exactly what happened. mr. trump's way of doing business is that is not what he does. he does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. to the surprise of his own national security team. we did not get a comfort level as to what happened in the room itself. we do know that in the public settings after the meeting, in front of mr. putin, president trump raised questions about our own intelligence agencies, accepted president clinton's statement that he would -- president putin's statements that he was not involved in
interfering in our elections in 2016. utin to make a comment about american foreign diplomats to be available to russia. the list goes on and on. levelis not a comfort that mr. pompeo has a deep understanding as to what happened in that room. >> you mentioned you would like to know what happened in that meeting. we saw a number of moves by lawmakers in congress to try to raise some issues. ,e some resolutions introduced very -- a issues regarding nato, the intelligence committees findings. we saw some strong statements from republican leadership. speaker ryan, leader mcconnell, would notsident putin be welcome. my broader question is what is the role of congress? what is the ability of congress
to find some answers? look at the action of congress since the summit, you find democrats and republicans both standing up saying no to what the president implied in helsinki. we did pass a resolution in regards to nato, we passed a resolution in regards to protecting our diplomat. we are looking at legislation that will increase sanctions against russia. we are looking at legislation that would prevent ownership of russian companies in the u.s. we are looking at legislation that would make it clear our commitment to nato. that's bipartisan. the level in congress is that we have to assert ourselves. we did in 20 in passing the russia sanction law requiring the president to impose sanctions. i expect the role of congress
should be to make it clear to our nato allies that we stand behind the nato alliance. make it clear to mr. putin that if he continues this activity, we will not only maintain, but we will strengthen the sanctions against russia. legislationoned the that leader mcconnell said he might be interested in. i know it has been assigned to the committees. what do you really think is the likelihood that there would be votes on that bill? that there would actually be movement on that or other legislation, particularly -- that bill foreshadows the 2018 election and warns russians off of meddling, or they would face consequences of greater sanctions. what is the likelihood that congress can get something moving ahead of the election?
>> that's up to the republican leadership as to whether they will bring these issues up for votes. if we had a bill like the deter act, it would receive near unanimous support. ifclearly states russi -- russia metals in our elections, there will be a price to pay. that legislation is what members of congress want to see passed on both sides of the aisle. i understand we are getting closer to midterm elections. there is a concern as to how mr. trump feels about such a legislation. i think it is in the interest of our democratic system of government that we protect our election system. that legislation is needed. >> do you get a sense from some of your republican colleagues that there is a greater willingness to challenge the president on foreign policy and perhaps on election meddling, as
well? fact that thethe pompeo hearing happened at all. struck that it took so long for us to have that hearing. it was really in response to singapore, and the meeting between the north koreans and americans, between our president and team jungle -- kim jong-un. to see whating happened in singapore. it took us one month before we got the secretary of state before the committee. one of the responsibility of congress and the senate foreign relations committee is to hold oversight hearings in regards to foreign policy. these are huge foreign policy issues. we have a constitutional responsibility to hold these hearings. we willcorker indicated have additional hearings on russia and sanctions. that's the right thing for us to do. this is our constitutional responsibility to hold these oversight hearings.
we want a unified position on on policy. we want to see congress and the white house together on foreign policy. when the president deviates from what we believe is the right policy for our nation, when he questions the nato alliance, when he gets states for leaders to attack the country such as mr. putin, congress need to speak out. >> what have we learned from secretary pompeo's testimony at the hearing? we have seen president trump -- the singapore summit, we understood last night that the remains from servicemen in north korea were being returned. we saw the helsinki summit. now we heard reports of the presidents negotiations with erdogan over the imprisoned pastor. what have we learned about the negotiating style,
his ability to conduct these affairs on the world stage? were there any takeaways from the hearing secretary pompeo? president is unpredictable, but there is a pattern here. we have seen the fact that he has no problems in offending our closest allies before going into major summit meetings. we saw that in regards to north korea, and russia. traditional alliance means nothing to him, as far as getting unity before a meeting ,ith leaders that are strong tight, totalitarian leaders. willing to give those type of leaders additional credibility and space. we saw that in regards, not only to north korea and russia, but in regards to the philippines
and other countries. what we learned from mr. pompeo is the secretary of state will fully support the president. he believes in the president, and he will fully support him. speaks that the united eight and russia have -- has been tough on russia, that is very hard. he questions his credibility on that. the sanctions imposed were required by congress. the president said nice things about mr. period. --mr. putin. we have learned the secretary of state will defend the president. >> have you seen any benefits or positive changes from this president, in regards to nato or our relations with other countries? >> the nato alliance is critically important to the u.s., the strength of the eu is
important. the president has jeopardized all of that unity. what he did in interfering with the u.k. and prime minister may, dealing with the brexit issue, what he did with the leader of germany, ms. merkel, undermining her credibility. what he did as far as saying the g7 should become the g8. really making it impossible for a successful g7 summit among our closest allies in canada. using a national security waiver to say we have to impose tariffs against a country like canada or europe. all that has questioned the president's sincerity in regards to relationships with our closest allies that stand next to us in battle and are always there for us. is indispensable leader, there is no question about it.
but the u.s. credibility has been damaged. ancan i expand a moment on issue you just touched on, which is trade, and trade in the national security context? certainly the canadians were offended, and many other people were surprised, to hear the president put the steel and aluminum tariffs, among other things. as a national security issue. when talking about a military ally as close to the u.s. as canada is. do you see any benefit from the president's wider point about trade, which is that according to him, the global trading system is broken, it was time to somebody to say so, and start prioritizing american interests, even if it means offending people?
and i ove regional trade agreements that deal with our closest allies. the president was questioning even those arrangements. there is no question the world trade organization, which controls the trade among the global community, as it relates to what china is doing, has not been effective. we need to take action against china. china has been the major problem for u.s. manufacturers, produces, and farmers. if the president would have started with china, worked with our close trading allies to bring up china's unacceptable trade practices, including their stealing of intellectual property, including the fact of what they do with currency manipulation. if he would has started with that, rather than starting with tariffs against europe and canada, he would have had broad support.
he would have had credibility. he didn't do it that way. there are legitimate concerns that we have in fair trade were the united states is not being treated fairly. the number one example of that is china. >> what do you make of this strategy? a number of republicans were up at the white house on trade issue during the week. they were also very concerned. the president was able to talk to them. he had this agreement with the step byxplained this step approach he is trying to take. two sort of leverage in some areas to then create these better deals. deal,ially a new nafta potentially other small arrangements. do you see any validity to that strategy in trying to do more of this step-by-step, hitting hard on these tariffs to capture the
attention, and using that as leverage to negotiate better deals? >> at the end of the day, this strategy will not work to america's best interest. do we need to modernize nafta? absolutely. we all agree on that. caused he went about it a lot of unnecessary anxiety. it is not producing the type of results that the president said he would deliver for america. the truth of the matter is he cannot deliver that because there are concerns in all three countries that have to be addressed. there is a right way to negotiate, and there is a way president trump believes you have to blow things up in order to put them back together again. it causes a lot of uncertainty in the global marketplace, that is not good for investors or america. >> is there any role for congress at this point to push back on this policy or those
approaches. >> the most recent arab the trade agenda is the president is trying to use $12 billion, which remains in stabilization funds to pay farmers as a result of the retaliatory tariffs imposed against u.s. farmers. we have heard from the farmers, they don't want a handout, they want trade in markets. they want to sell their products globally. the question is what happens in the manufacturing sector? are we going to give them compensation for the retaliatory tariffs? the president has indicated no. i think congress will want to see exactly why they are using a fund that we established for the department of agriculture to deal with when the markets are not stable because of supply and demand, using that to offset
tariffs, that's not what congress intended. the problems with the tariff policies go far beyond farming. i hope congress will intervene in that regard. >> could i take you back to north korea for a moment? you indicated you and many of thatcolleagues were eager you needed to hear more about it, and were annoyed you hadn't heard more about the summit in singapore, and what had been agreed to and how the administration planned to proceed. we seem to know more about that than we do about the putin summit. now, north korea appears to have delivered on the first of the agreements and checklist that president announced at the time
in singapore. how confident are you that north korea will continue to fulfill any agreements it has made? do you think that real and total denuclearization, as secretary pompeo and others have described it, is possible or likely? >> i want the president to succeed. i think all americans do. the only sensible way to deal on thee nuclear crisis korean peninsula is through negotiations. negotiations means you need to talk. a meeting between kim jong-un and the president is something that is positive. we want the results to be a diplomatic end to the nuclear confrontation on the korean peninsula. what happened in singapore, you say we have a better understanding, we do. it was primarily a photo op. we were talking about the
remains of those missing in action, that is important. we are very pleased to see progress on that front. the very first progress to ending the nuclear program in north korea is for north korea to make a declaration on their program. let us know exactly what they have, where they have it, and get independent eyes on the ground to verify that. and then a game plan to eliminate the program. none of that has been achieved. reported that mr. pompeo last for that, and has gotten no reply. that is from a south korean source. have not greatou confidence, or you don't think it is likely that they will be able to achieve denuclearization? >> i don't want to go that far. i don't believe we have achieved
very much in accomplishing that goal to date. i understand from the president that he got a commitment from kim jong-un to denuclearize north korea. that is a positive first step. the very first step is to understand the program. we know they have nuclear weapons. we haven't seen any evidence they are willing to give it up. >> we have about three minutes left. >> the senate is going to stay in session for quite a bit of august. largely to work on some bills, but also this nomination of judge brett kavanaugh to be the supreme court nominee. how are you approaching the nomination at this point? do you think this is inevitable for democrats? you are in the minority, republicans have the majority, they appear to have the votes to confirm him.
do you think president trump will get his supreme court justice? >> this is one of the most important responsibilities we have in the u.s. senate. the consent on the supreme court nominee. it is a lifetime appointment. we are about effecting the supreme court for decades to come. we would like to see all of judge kavanagh's records. that has been a struggle to try to get the white house to produce the documents so we can have a better understanding of his philosophy. this is an issue about the independence of the supreme court. judge kevin of being an independent voice on the american people to protect their constitutional rights against the powerful, whether the powerful is the president, congress, or corporate america. we are talking about protecting your rights, your health care rights, rejecting your consumer rights, your environmental rights. what we have seen so far is reason of concern about judge kavanagh. his court opinions, as well as
some of his published statements when he was working for the white house. there is also the issue about the independence from the executive branch. will he be a true independent voice to allow the robert mueller investigation to reach its logical conclusion? should not be annoyed by investigations while he is a sitting president. these are questions we want to get answered. we want the american people to know about this. we think every senator must make up their own mind as to whether this is the right decision or not. we are an independent branch of government. it should be whether we think judge kavanagh is the right person for the court at this time. i have serious concerns about that. >> some democrats would like to hold off on meeting with the judge until they see the entire ache, the paper trail could go into millions of pieces of paper.
are you prepared to meet with him, or not yet? >> what senator schumer said, and i support senator schumer, he wants to make sure we have an understanding on the production of the documents. that wouldn't necessarily mean we have to wait to receive all the documents before the meetings, but we want to know we are able to receive them. >> on the supreme court, do you expect they will beat -- there will be hearings, may be at the end of august? when do you think is most likely to have hearings? >> it is up to senator mcconnell, he controls the senate agenda. he said with president obama, 11 .onths is not long enough he is hypocritical in saying we have the adequate time now. i expect by september it is likely we will have hearings. >> senator ben cardin, thank you for being this week's newsmaker. >> thank you. >> let me turn to the two of
you. we can begin with the foreign policy discussion that we had with the sender. what do you -- senator. what do you think happens next? after we heard from mike pompeo before the senate relations committee? >> as the senator indicated, there is greater interest, certainly public interest in the senate, some in the house, as well. it is not holding the white house accountable, at least asking more questions publicly about arrangements, deals, conversations the president is having. the fact that it took a while for pompeo to come to the senate at all, and he declined a similar invitation to the house, suggests the white house is no more willing to do that. is thing that happens next
we will continue to see a push and pull, including from republicans, who want more answers. from her publicans, does it include getting the translator in the room with the president, either behind closed doors, or in a committee hearing to hear what she heard in the private meeting? >> that was definitely something democrats were seeking, more so than the republicans. think there is desire from both parties to go on record on this issue. whether that is more votes, or trying to get the legislation offed to try to warn russia of any further interference. oft is a more narrow slice this broader issue of trying to get to an understanding of what happened. there was an enormous amount of pushback on the performance at the helsinki summit from both
parties. that was rare, to see the republicans really counter the president. i think we are not done with this. we will see if they move some legislation. there is a lot of interest. >> what about more hearings? >> i don't know. secretary pompeo was invited over to the house side and was not able to make that work. house lawmakers were not pleased that he didn't come. push to have hearings, have answers, i don't know that will be filled. the calendar is narrowing, the house is on recess, the senate is expected to be here for much of august. there are not a lot of those hearings scheduled. we will see. >> from the white house perspective, what is next? >> on foreign policy generally, i think the main thing the white
house is looking at is the north korea file. they would like to be able to continue to demonstrate what they see as a significant progress on a significant foreign-policy, what the president continues to be -- thinks is a policy victory. he views the north korea summit as a success, mostly because it happened. he has something to stand on. no one else has been willing to turn that entire relationship inside out and say that perhaps a leader to leader meeting at the beginning could accomplish something. we don't know whether he will be able to accomplish something, but at the very least, he was able to pull both sides back from what appeared to be a pretty dangerous brink. you will see the white house continue to focus on that and trade. >> we heard from the president on friday talking about the
remains of these u.s. soldiers that were killed during the korean war making their way back to the u.s. how was that part of the deal? what are some other things we will be hearing about? >> the remains issue, it is important to note what north korea is doing is resuming a practice that it had suspended. essentially, it is giving something back. these are 55 presumed americans whose remains were uncovered aircraftr sites of crashes in the north. there are more to come. the north continues to do that. that will be significant process. what they can do beyond that is continue to give senator cardin -- the accounting. senator cardin referenced to begin to allow inspectors. they also show up to meetings, which they don't always do.
there are scheduled ongoing meetings, and they have been a no-show? >> sometimes they do not show up. >> what has been the response from the white house? this is going to be a long process and the white house will get its nose bloodied a little bit. that is the history of this negotiation and has been a history for every president has dumped -- attempted to deal with north korea. did manage to change the paradigm for the beginning. thank you both for being part of newsmakers. >> thank you. saturday at 10:00 a.m.
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