Interviews

Bolton: Pena Nieto made a mistake canceling Trump meeting

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 26, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  We have got former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on these fast-moving developments.  

Well, if there was any doubt, John, that there is a new sheriff in town, this sort of set this aside.  But now, now there's concerns that this could lead to, you have heard it all before, protectionist wave, and that we're rethinking all agreements, and America first might be meant that anyone else takes a distance back seat.  What do you say?  

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:  Well, I'm not sure what the difference between a border tax and a tariff is, and how a border tax would be consistent with the obligations we undertook under the WTO.  

Now, I'm sure there are tax-and-trade lawyers who can explain that.  So, I will have to wait to hear more specifics.  But, honestly, who can be surprised that the president is going to build this wall.  That's what he said in the campaign, and that he's going to try and get the Mexicans to pay for it.

That's what he said in the campaign.  He campaigned on these issues.  He won the election.  The only surprising thing for a political leader in America is that he's doing what he said he was going to do.  What my opinion is or yours is sort of irrelevant at this point.  

CAVUTO:  No, no, you're right about that.  And he's doing everything he did say he was doing to do.  

I guess, Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican president, is under enormous pressure back home.  They felt that it would be stupid of him to go and meet with President Trump if this was a contingency to meeting that is the Mexicans agreeing to pay for the wall.  So, it must have been known in advance he wasn't going to do that, the Mexican president wasn't going to do that.

But, in the end, do you think that's what it will be, that this wall will go up and, whatever its cost, $8 billion to $24 billion, I don't know what figure is accurate, the Mexicans will end up paying?  

BOLTON:  Well, honestly, I still don't know how that is going to happen.  

I would say, from the Mexican point of view, it was a mistake for their president to cancel this meeting.  I understand what the backdrop is.  I understand he doesn't want to appear weak.  

But I think there's something to be said for him to tell the Mexican people, I'm going to go up and tell the president to his face what we think and get this discussion started.  

It's going to have to happen sooner or later.  He may not want to do it this week, but it's not going to get any better, from his perspective, as time goes on.  

CAVUTO:  I know you look at international security matters.  But I kind of linked them when it comes to economic matters and trade agreements.  

And, as you know, President Trump is already looking at, you know, canceling the Asian trade deal, and even revisiting NAFTA, arguing that we have got to redo the language and have a contingency plan, a 30-day notice of termination.

Even when it came to the Keystone pipeline and resurrecting that in his executive order, he wants to add a line that the pipeline -- that the pipe itself will be made in America.  

So, this is a clear approach to America first in each and every one of these transactions.  What do you think?  

BOLTON:  Right.  

Well, I think actually what we're going to see the most important experiment on is the relationship with the United Kingdom.  We just heard from Theresa May.  This meeting tomorrow, the formal meeting between May and Trump I think is the most important thing going forward that we can imagine, even more important than our friends in Mexico, because the United Kingdom and the United States now can write almost on a blank slate the kinds of trade agreement they want, with the Brits pulling out of the European Union.

This is a huge opportunity for the Trump administration to show what kind of trade agreements it wants.  It's something the Brits could use if it's successfully concluded to strengthen their hand in their exit negotiations with the European Union.  

I could see bringing Canada into this, not necessarily Mexico.  But, for obvious reasons, the three great English-speaking countries North Atlantic countries could have a lot at interest here.  

So, this potential is really quite significant.  And I may be the only voice on this point.  I think it's more significant at this point than -- for the country, maybe not politically, but that the British relationship is more significant than the Mexican relationship.  

CAVUTO:  All right, I will let the Mexicans know you said that.  

John Bolton, thank you very, very much.  Always good seeing you.

BOLTON:  Thank you, Neil.  

END

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