Macron expected to lobby Trump on Iran deal, trade

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," April 23, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered. In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: What is the worst-case scenario? Or your plan B? My point is to say don't leave now as long as you have not a better option for nuclear.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: Obviously this would be a very bad precedent if the United States sends this message to the international community that the length or the duration of any agreement would depend on the duration of the presidency.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Talking about the Iran deal there, and that will be talk between President Trump and the French president, Macron, who arrived here in Washington today. Also arriving at the White House, came in at Joint Base Andrews with his wife there, and then arrived at the White House for talks with the president. They are currently, the two couples, together at Mount Vernon in the historic George Washington homestead, having a dinner tonight before the official state dinner tomorrow.

What about this in foreign policy news? Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, editor in chief for The Weekly Standard; Dan Balz, national political correspondent at The Washington Post, and Charlie Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times.

Dan, it is a big visit. It's obviously the first state visit, official. And what do you think both sides are looking for out of this visit?

DAN BALZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think clearly President Macron has come on a mission to try to talk the president into staying in the Iran agreement. The Europeans are very much alarmed that the president could pull out of this. He has signaled he is likely too. May 12th is the deadline in which he has got to either recertify the agreement or decide to pull out of it. We know that the team that used to be around him kept him from doing that. We don't know where the new team is going to end up. But Macron is here to argue that they are trying to work out some arrangements and some agreements that will satisfy the president's concerns and keep him in it.

BAIER: And do you think that's possible, Steve?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it's possible. Look, the Trump administration has been pushing a plan in bilateral discussions with Great Britain, Germany, and France, seeking to stay in the deal, calling for additional snap inspections of military sites, additional snapback sanctions, something that would have a bite with Iranian noncompliance in the deal. This has been under discussion for six weeks, maybe longer. The question is whether Germany will agree to it. France has been pushing. France and the United States are in a very similar position on this stuff. Great Britain is I think a little harder. Germany has really been difficult. I would imagine that President Trump and Macron will spend some time talking about how to get Germany aboard the plan even if Russia has already declared that they won't be part of anything other than the existing deal.

BAIER: Charlie?

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I think it's an interesting situation. Macron has, I think is working well with Donald Trump. He has figured out that if you listen carefully to what he says and ignore some of the unusual, the impolitic style of things that Donald Trump does, that you can get somewhere with him.

One of the things I admire about what Trump has done here is obviously he campaigned on the promise that he was going to tear this thing up on day one. He hasn't yet. He was prevented, talked out of doing it. But yet again, you're looking at a situation where Donald Trump has multiplied the moving parts, whether it's with tariffs, whether it's with the negotiations in North Korea. You have a lot of moving parts. And when you have a lot of moving parts there's a lot more ways of cutting the pie and getting deals that satisfy everybody at the table. And I imagine that is probably what they will be talking about tonight at Mount Vernon.

BAIER: About the Iran deal, now you, as Steve mentions, have a different group around him. John Bolton obviously opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo is opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. I have pressed him on it numerous times. He said he finds zero beneficial. Now he is moving forward with this nomination. Speak about that, the fact that there was this political process right during this show. Chris Coons voted present, enables a favorable recommendation from the committee onto the floor where he will have the votes to get through.

BALZ: Yes, and he will be the next secretary of state, and he has the president's ear in a way that Secretary Tillerson never did. He has earned a relationship with the president through hours spent doing the daily briefing on doing other things. He has spent a considerable amount of time with the president. The president obviously trusts him.

I think one of the interesting things, there was a little equivocation in his confirmation hearings about the Iran deal which suggested he may not be quite where he was earlier on this. And so I think that it remains to be seen exactly how that will come out. But we know he and Bolton have been much more hostile to this agreement then the prior team.

BAIER: While we were talking, we got the video and for Mount Vernon of the French president and the president meeting there. They planted a tree that President Macron brought to the White House, and then they took a helicopter ride, Marine One, around the monuments in Washington. And then here they are arriving at Mount Vernon, and he's obviously giving a little instructional about Mount Vernon there to the French president. They will have dinner together, the two couples, before the big official dinner tomorrow night.

Steve, it is amazing to see the relationship that has developed since President Trump's visit to Paris.

HAYES: You remember the handshake and all of the scuttlebutt that surrounded that. Really interesting interview with Macron yesterday by Chris Wallace, making some news I think on a couple different fronts. I think Charlie is right, the French president has taken the time to listen to Donald Trump and to understand how to play the president, to appeal to the places where President Trump needs appealing in much the way some Republican lawmakers have done. And he I think keeps his criticism usually private, doesn't go around broadcasting it, he doesn't go around taking shots at President Trump.

He's got a difficult balance to strike. Donald Trump is not popular in France. He's not popular in western Europe generally. So he has got to be careful not to seem like he's being a toady to President Trump, but at the same time -- or boasting about his success in persuading him on Syria for instance. At the same time, appealing to the president.

BAIER: Let me play the soundbite from Macron on Syria talking to our own Chris Wallace in Paris.


MACRON: Will have to build the new Syria after the war. The day we will have finished this war against ISIS, if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and these guys. And they will prepare the new war.


BAIER: So how much influence he has over Trump foreign policy?

HURT: I think that was a mistake for him to say that because you're talking about rebuilding Syria. You ought to get people running for the hills here. That's the way you do it. You talk about killing ISIS and destroying ISIS? That's a lot more appealing.

But I do think it sort of a nice moment to stop and reflect. You have the French president and American president at Mount Vernon today, and to think of the truly amazing things that have happened, whether it is Rochambeau and General Washington planning for the siege of Yorktown or the Marquis de Lafayette coming to visit Washington during the war, it's a pretty neat think about what's going on the banks of the Potomac right now.

BAIER: It really is.

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