tv Newsmakers Sen. Ben Cardin CSPAN July 30, 2018 1:30pm-2:04pm EDT
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>> joining us from baltimore for today's "newsmakers" is a member of the foreign relations committee. senator ben cardin, of maryland. guest: it's good to be with you. studio the have in white house reporter and the associated press chief congressional correspondent. i wanted to ask you a little bit -- guest: i wanted to ask you a little bit about what seemed to have been 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 an awful lot about that and about president trump's interaction with president putin during the hearing the other day with secretary of state, and now there's some back and forth about whether an invitation to washington might precede an invitation to moscow.
you go first, no you go first. i wonder whether you think it's a good idea for president trump to meet again with president putin. so soon. guest: first, the summit in he will sinkie was really a disaster. in moscow they were cheering about it, in the white house they were scrambling to try to salvage a lot of comments. if you listened to the hearing in the senate foreign relations committee with the secretary of state pompeo, he tried to point out that american policies have not changed but yet the president's language was a lot different than that. so the first thing we need to know is what happened in that room? what understandings were reached between president trump and president putin? so when we're talking about a followup meeting, we first need to understand what understandings were reached in helsinki?
because the followup meeting is to take those agreements and to make progress on it. and we don't know what those agreements are all about. second point, it's a lot different meeting with the leader of russia in a neutral site such as helsinki than here in the united states. at this particular moment it's hard to understand why that invitation was extnded. >> can i follow-up on helsinki, quickly? you called it a disaster. i know that you and many of your colleague spent a good bit of that hearing the other day trying to get mike pompeo to tell you more about what happened between president clinton and president trump in that closed door meeting. are you satisfied that might impale himself knows what happened and really, how far did you get in really understanding whether any commitments were made in that room? have a great deal of confidence that mr. pompeo
knows exactly what happened in that meeting. mr. trump's way of doing business is that's 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. comfort level a as to what happened in the room itself. we do know that in the public settings after the meeting, in , president. putin trump raised questions about our own intelligence agencies, sort of accepting president putin's's statement that he was not in interfering in our elections in 2016. allowing mr. putin to make a comment about american former diplomats being made available to the russians. that was not dismissed out of hand as it should have been. the list goes on and on and on. there is not a comfort level that mr. pompeo has a deep understanding as to what happened in that room.
>> senator, you mentioned that you would like to know what happened in that meeting. we saw a number of moves by lawmakers in congress to try to around natossues and the intelligence community's findings for reinstatement. we saw some strong statements from the republican leadership. speaker ryan, leader mcconnell, saying that president putin would not be welcomed on the hill. my broader question is -- what is the role of congress, here? what is the ability of the congress to find some answers? it's interesting. when you look at the actions of congress since the summit in helsinki, you find democrats and republicans both standing up and saying no to what the president implied in helsinki. we did pay a resolution -- pass
a resolution regarding nato and around former diplomats. we are now looking at legislation that would increase .anctions against russia we are looking at legislation that would prevent ownership by russian companies here in the united states. we are looking at legislation that would make it clear, our commitment to nato. .hat is bipartisan i think that the level in congress is that we have to assert ourselves. we did in 2017, passing the russian sanctions requiring the president to impose sanctions. i expect that the role of congress should be to make it clear to our nato allies that we stand strongly behind the nato alliance and clear to mr. putin that if he continues this kind of activity, we will not only maintain but strengthen sanctions against russia. >> sir, just a follow-up on that, you did mention the legislation that leader mcconnell has said
he might be interested in. i know it's been assigned out to the committees, the deter act from senator rubio and senator van hollen. guest: sure. >> but what do you think is the likelihood that there would be votes on that bill? that there would actually be some movement on that or other legislation, particularly that bill foreshadows the 2018 elections and warns russians off meddling or they would face these consequences of greater sanctions. what is the likelihood that congress can get something moving ahead of the election? guest: well, of course, that's up to the republican leadership as to whether they will bring these up for votes. if we had a bill like the deter act on the floor of the senate, it should receive near unanimous support. it really states if russia medles there will be a heavy price to pay. i think that legislation is what members of congress on both
sides of the aisle want to see passed. so i understand that we're closer tooser and midterm elections, and there is a concern as to how mr. trump feels about such legislation, but i do think it's in the interest of our democratic system of government that we protect our legislation system. >> do you get a sense from some of your republican colleagues that there is a greater willingness now to challenge the president on foreign policy and perhaps on election meddling as well, election security as well? i mean, i'm sort of struck by the fact that the pompeo hearing happened guest: i was 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 the americans, between our president and kim jung un. we were waiting to have an opportunity to question what happened in singapore. it took us a month before we were able to get the secretary of state before our committee. one of the responsibilities of congress is to hold oversight hearings in regard to foreign policy. these are huge foreign policy issues. we have a constitutional responsibility to hold these hearings. senator corker has indicated we are going to have additional hearings on russia and sanctions. that's the right thing for us to do. so this is our constitutional responsibility to hold these oversight hearings. look, we want a unified position on foreign policy. we want to see congress and the white house together on foreign policy. when the president deeve yates from what we believe is the right policy for our nation, when he question it is nato alliance, when he gives states
-- space to authoritarian leaders who attacks our country, congress needs to speak out. >> sir, can you touch on that a little more broadly? what have we learned from secretary pompeo's testimony at the hearing? we have seen president trump now , as you say, 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 also heard reports this morning of the president's negotiations with erdogan over the imprisoned pastor. what have we learned about the president's negotiating style, his ability to conduct these affairs on the world stage? and were there any take aways particularly from that hearing with secretary pompeo that you were surprised by? guest: well, first, the president's unpredictable but there is a pattern here. we've seen now the fact that he has no problem in offending our
closest allies before going into major summit meetings. we saw that in regard to north korea, we saw that in regard to russia. so traditional alliance means nothing to him as far as the getting unity before meeting with leaders that are strong men type totalitarian leaders such as kim jung un, and vladmir putin. we see that he is willing to give those type of leaders additional credibility and space. we saw that in regards not only to north korea and russia but we saw that in regards to the philippineses and other countries. so i think what we learned from mr. pompeo is that the secretary of state is goig to fully support the president. that he believes in the president and he will fully support him. to the unitedaks
states and says that the trump administration has been tough on russia, that has been hard. we question his credibility on that. the sanctions imposed were required by congress. the president has said -- such nice things about whether we're putin. i think we have learned that the secretary of state defend the will president. >> have you seen any ben figgets -- benefits or any positive changes from this president in regards to nato or our relations with other countries? guest: the nato alliance is critically important to the united states. the transatlantic alliance is important. the strength of the e.u. 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 inmany, ms. merkel,
undermining her credibility, what he did as far as saying the g-7 should become the g-8 really making it impossible for a successful g7 summit with one of our closest allies, canada. what he has done with the national security waiver, for tariffs against countries like canada or europe, all of that has questioned the president's sincerity in regards to the relationship with our closest allies that are standing next to us in battle and always there for us. so i think yes, the u.s. is indispensible leader in the world there's no question about it. but the united states' credibility has been damaged. >> senator, can i ask you to expand just a moment on an issue that you just touched on, there? 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, classified that as a national security issue when talking military ally as close to the united states as canada is. do you see any benefit of as to -- benefit, though, from the president's wider point about trade? which is that, according to him, the global trading system is broken. it was time for somebody to say so and to start prioritizing american interests, even if it means offending people? >> we have regional and bilateral trade agreements that deal with our closest allies. the question the president was questioning even those arrangements. there's no question that the world trade organization, which controls the trade among the global community as it relates china's doing, has not
been effective. we need to take action against china. china has been the major problem for u.s. manufacturers, producers, 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 have started with that rather than starting with tariffs against europe and canada and -- he would have broad support. he would have had credibility. but he didn't do it that way. so yes there are legitimate concerns we have in fair trade , where the united states is not being treated family -- fairly. the number one example is china. >> what do you make of this strategy? a number of republicans were up to the white house on the trade
issue during the week. they also were very concerned. but then the president was able to talk to them. he had this agreement with the e.u. and sort of explain that it's a step by step approach that he is trying to take. my understanding from the meeting. to sort of leverage in some areas to then create these better deals. you know, potentially a new nafta deal coming. potentially other small arrangements. do you see any validity to that strategy of trying to do more of this step by step, hitting hard on some of these tariffs as a way to capture the attention and then using that as leverage to negotiate better deals? guest: i think this will not -- i think at the end of the day this strategy will not work to america's best interests. do we need to modernize the nafta agreement? absolutely. it needs to be modernized, we all agree about that. but the way he went about it i
think caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety and is not producing the type of result that the president said he would deliver for america. and the truth of the matter is, he cannot deliver that because there are concerns in all three countries that have to be addressed. so there's a right way to negotiate and then there's the way president trump believes you've got to blow things up in order to put them back together causes -- together again. it causes a lot of uncertainty in the global marketplace. that's not good for investors or america. >> again, is there any role for congress at this point to push back on those policies or those approaches that you're in disagreement? a lot of republicans on the other side of the aisle that have raised concerns as well? or no? guest: i think there is. the most recent part of the trade janda is the president is trying to use the $12 billion that remains in the stabilization fund to pay farmers as a result of the retaliatory tariffs that have been imposed against u.s.
farmers. we have heard from the farmers they don't want a handout, they want trade and markets. they want to be able to sell their products globally. they don't really want welfare. but 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 to that. so i think congress will want to see exactly why they're using a fund that we established for the department of agriculture to deal when their markets are not stable because of supply and demand, using that to offset tariffs. that's not what congress intnded. and the problems with the tariff policies go far beyond just farming. so i hope congress will intervene in that regard. host: senator, could i take you back to north korea for a moment? you indicated that you and many of your colleagues were eager
two, annoyed, that you needed to hear more about it and annoyed that you hadn't heard more about the summit in june, in singapore, and what had been agreed to there and how the administration planned to proceed. i mean, we do actually seem to know a good bit more about that than we do about the putin summit, and now north korea appears to have delivered on the first of the agreements and kind of check list that the president announced at the time in singapore. how confident are you that north korea will continue to fulfill any agreements it's made? and do you think that real and total denuclearization as secretary pompeo and others have described it is possible or -- as acceptable or likely? guest: first, i want the
president to succeed. i think all americans do. the only sensible way to deal with the nuclear crisis on the korean peninsula is through negotiations. negotiations mean you need to talk. so a meeting between kim jung un and the president, between america and north korea is something that is positive. so we want the results to be a diplomatic end to the nuclear confrontation on the korean peninsula. what happened in singapore, yeah, you say we had a better understanding. i agree. we do have a better understanding. it was primarily a photo op. yes, you are talking about the remains of those missing in action, that's very important and we're very pleased that we are seeing progress on that front. but 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 we get independent eyes on the ground to verify that,
and then a game plan to eliminate that program. none of that has been achieved. now, my source is basically south korean. it's been reported that mr. pompeo asked for that and has gotten no reply. that's from a south korean source. we did not hear that from mr. pompeo. >> so i guess that means you have not raised confidence or don't think it's highly likely that they'll be able to achieve denuclearization? or not? guest: i don't want to go that far. what i'm saying is i don't believe we've achieved very much in accomplishing that goal to date. so i understand from the president that he got a commitment from kim jong-un to denote your north- denuclearize korea. that's a positive first step.
but the very first step really is to understand their programs. we know they now have a nuclear weapon so they have that. we haven't seen any evidence that they're willing to give that up. host: we have about three minutes left. let's switch geerings to some domestic affairs. the senate is going to be staying in session for quite a bit of august, were told. largely to work on some bills but also this nomination of brett cavanaugh to be the supreme court. how are you approaching the nomination at this point? and do you think that -- at some point it's inevitable for democrats. you are in the minority, republicans have the majority. they appear to have the votes to confirm him. do you think that president trump will get his supreme court justice? guest: well, this is one of the most important responsibilities we have in the united states senate, advice and consent. -- consent on a supreme court nominee. this is a lifetime appointment. we're talking about affecting the supreme court for decades to come. first we like to see all of judge cavanaugh's records that
-- records. that has been a struggle to try to get the white house to produce those documents so that we can have a better understanding of his philosophy. to me, this is an issue about the independence of the supreme court. will judge cavanaugh be an ibbednt voice on behalf of the american people to protect their constitutional rights against the powerful? whether the powerful and the president of the united states, the congress or corporate america. we are talking about protecting your rights, your health care rights, protecting your consumer rights, your environmental rights. what we've seen so far is reason of concern about judge cavanaugh. as well aspinions, some of his published statements when he was working for the white house. but there's also the issue about the independence from the executive branch. will he be a true independent voice to allow the mueller investigation to reach its logical conclusion, or is he -- that he's written, said that the president should not be annoyed
by investigations while he's a sitting president? these are questions that we want to get answered and we want the american people to know about this. we do think every senator must make up his or her own mind as to whether this is the right decision or not. we're an independent branch of government. it should not be by party alfillation but whether judge cavanaugh is the right person at this time. i have some serious concerns. >> and some democrats are saying they would like to hold off meeting with the judge until they see the paper trail , which we are told could go into the millions of pieces of paper. where do you stand? are you prepared to meet with him? or not yet? guest: i think what senator schumer has said, he wants to make sure we have an understanding on the production of the documents. that wouldn't necessarily mean that we would wait until we receive all the documents before we have meetings. but we want to know that your going to be able to receive those documents.
>> one last question. let's stay on the supreme court. do you expect then that there will be hearings with maybe at the end of august or when do you think is most likely to have hearings? guest: of course this is up to senator mcconnell. he controls the senate agenda. he said with president obama that 11 months is not long enough. he's certainly hypocritical in saying that we have adequate time now. but i do expect that certainly by september it's likely we'll have hearings. host: senator ben cardin, thank you for being this week's newsmaker. appreciate it. guest: thank you. host: let me turn to the two of you. we can begin with a foreign policy discussion that we had with the senator. what do you think happens next after we heard from secretary of state mike pompeo this week before the senate foreign relations committee? >> well, i think as the senator indicated, there is greater
interest, certainly public interest in the senate, maybe some in the house as well, about if not holding the white house accountable, at least asking more questions publicly about arrangements, deelings, conversations the president is having. and i think 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 that the white house is now more willing to do that. i think one thing that happens next is that we will continue to see a push and pull including from republicans who want more answers. host: the poll from republicans , does it include getting the translater who was in the room with the president, either behind closed doors or in a committee hearing to hear what she heard in that private meeting? >> that was definitely something
the democrats were seeking more so i think from the republicans. so that is on the table. i do think there is desire as the senator mentioned from both parties to go on record on this issue, whether that's more votes or trying to get this bill passed, this legislation past. -- legislation passed. to try to warn russia off any further interference. so that's a more narrow slice of this broader issue of trying to get to an understanding of what happened. but there just was an enormous amount of pushback on the entire performance at the helsinki summit from both parties. thethat was rare, to see republicans really counter the president. so i do think we're not done with this and we'll see if they actually move some legislation. but there's a lot of interest. host: what about more hearings? >> yeah. i don't know. secretary pompeo was invited over to the house side and was not able to make that work.
apparently it was a scheduling problem. but you know, house lawmakers were not pleased that he didn't come. so i think there is a push to have some hearings. but i don't know if that will be filled in. you know, the calendar is narrowing right now. the house is on recess. it's expected to be here for much of august. but they're not a lot of those hearings scheduled although i believe there is a classified briefing coming in the days ahead. so we'll see. host: and from the white house perspective, what's next? >> on foreign policy, generally, i think the main thing that the white house is looking at now is the north korea file. they would like to be able to continue to demonstrate what they see as significant progress on a significant foreign policy with the president considers to -- with what the president considers to be a foreign policy victory.
he views the north korea summit as a success, mostly because it happened. and he has something to stand on there. no one else had been willing to turn that entire relationship inside-out, basically, and say that perhaps a leader to leader meeting at the beginning could accomplish something. we don't know yet whether he actually will be able to accomplish something. but at the very least he definitely was able to pull both sides back from what appeared to be a pretty dangerous brink. i think we will see the white house continue to focus on that, and of course on trade. host: we heard from the president on friday talk about the remains of these u.s. soldiers that died and killed during the korean war making their way back to the united states. how was that part of the deal? and what are some other thing that is we're going to be hearing about? guest: well, the remains issue, it's important to
note what north korea is doing here is resuming a practice that it had suspended. so essentially it's giving something back. it isn't giving something new. these are the 55 presumed americans whose remains were recovered primarily from sites of aircraft crashes in the north. of aircraft crashes in the north. the main thing they can do beyond that is begin to give the accounting senator cardin referenced. they could also show up to meetings, which they don't always do. host: what meeting? guest: meeting with the americans. host: there have been scheduled ongoing meetings and they were a no-show? what has been the response from the white house on that? guest: this is going to be a long
process, and the white house is going to get its nosed bloodied -- it's nose bloodied a little bit. and there's nothing to suggest the president experience will be greatly different. but they managed to change the paradigm from the beginning. host: we will continue to follow your reporting. thank you both for being part of newsmakers. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> a live picture from the white house this afternoon, where president trump is holding a joint press conference with giusepperime minister conte. has --ociated press president trump will be handling
immigration issues as he welcomes the premier for talks on trade and military read president trump said that military. the president said other european countries should follow italy's lead on migration issues. we expect the briefing to get underway -- to begin shortly as members of the president's cabinet are filing in. >> the president and the prime