Trump attends G7 summit amid backlash over tariffs

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 8, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out.

We are actually working on cutting tariffs and making it all very careful, both countries. We've made a lot of progress. It could be that NAFTA will be a different form, it could be with Canada, with Mexico, one on one, much simpler agreement, much easier to do.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Trade, the big talk at the G-7 summit up in Canada, there meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. Just a short time ago the president met with French president Macron who spoke about the tariffs that the U.S. is imposing specifically on steel and aluminum.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): The foundation which has been used to justify these measures in an attempt to present them as according to international commercial law was an argument of national security. Nobody would think that the imports of steel, of aluminum coming from Canada, from France, or other European countries are of a threatening nature.


BAIER: So where do we go from here on the G-7 and what's coming out of it? Let's bring in our panel: Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner; Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, and Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics co-founder and president. All right, Byron, obviously there are a number of leaders up there who have a problem with how the president is dealing with the tariff situation, but they are talking it through, it seems.

BRYON YORK, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: They are. I think the first thing to note about this summit is the president seems totally focused on North Korea. He's going to Canada late, he's leaving early. This is not something that he seems totally focused on.

But the bigger thing is, the president is simply incapable of engaging in the diplomatic niceties that you have to deal with, that you have to do at these meetings. They normally govern these meetings. He is the anti- diplomat. Last year he was pushing on NATO to contribute more to their defense. Now he's pushing other countries on trade to give the United States a better deal. His theme is always that other countries are taking advantage of the big, rich United States. And in the end, just as in NATO, he will get a little bit of what he's asking for.

BAIER: And the other thing, Chuck, is he's stirring the pot before leaving for the summit. He said this about having Russia back in.


TRUMP: I have been Russia's worst nightmare. That being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. We should have Russia at the negotiating table.


BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: There is so much to comment on in that one little statement. Russia was cast out of what was then the G-8 in punishment for an egregious violation of international law, that is the seizure of Crimea in 2014. Most recently they violated international law again by attempting to assassinate to people within Britain, and the United States itself participated in collective retaliation sanctions based on that.

So for the president to sound this note of urgency, that we have got to get Russia back in the room so we can run the world together, is just at odds with all of that recent history. And I'm sure it must have been very puzzling and dismaying to these traditional western allies who are trying to figure out what exactly it is that he is driving at. To go back to something that Byron said, which is he doesn't go in for diplomatic niceties, I think that's true, and I think in some cases that can be useful.

The problem is, you have to have a bottom line at some point. And I think what these other countries find so baffling and ultimately frustrating is, he is heading up a situation in which the only way they can give him what he wants at the end is to be humiliated by him. In other words, he's making these open-ended demands in such a tone that the only way to say yes is to accept your own humiliation, and I'm not sure that is going to lead anywhere.


TOM BEVAN, REAL CLEAR POLITICS CO-FOUNDER: I think Chuck and Byron are both right. One of the things that people liked about Trump is the fact that he is a fighter. And believe it or not, there is widespread agreement I think on the fact that some of these trade deals actually are unfair to the United States. Even business leaders will tell you that, and the need to be recalibrated and renegotiated.

The problem is a lot of folks, they have an issue with the style in which Trump is doing it and some of the tactics that he's using, that he's just using tariffs as a bludgeon. So that is part of the problem. He is certainly now in full honey badger mode. He is attacking everybody. We will see where that ends up bleeding. I think he will end up getting something and be able to declare some sort of victory, but he has certainly I think put the rest of the world on notice that he is not messing around when it comes to renegotiating these trade deals.

BAIER: I like that, full honey badger mode, OK. He is the biggest figure there as far as making headlines, but also look at the GDP of these countries and you compare them collectively, they don't add up to what the GDP of the United States is. So that tells you a little bit about how this is all going down, Byron.

YORK: It does, because everything in the United States just has a greater emphasis than anything else. So Trump here again is going to come away with something. The talk he did today about renegotiating NAFTA so it would not be a North American agreement, it would be a one-on-one agreement between United States and Canada or between the United States and Mexico shows that he's actually thinking about fundamentally restructuring some of these agreements. And because of those GDP figures that you just showed, the other countries don't have any other choice but to negotiate with him.

BAIER: So this negotiation is ongoing, but he's getting ready for another one. We're going to talk about that in the Friday lightning round, Chuck. But there's a lot of big moments for this president at this time.

LANE: Yes, and just to come back to what Byron said it, no other choice. In other words, yes, the United States has tremendous leverage. We are the biggest economy in the world by far. And the end of the end of the day they had to deal with us. But what is so concerning about this and what is so different about it, that had not been the basis upon which we have dealt with these particular countries over time, that you have no choice. It had been much more a question of mutual interest, mutual values, and this is really what I think they find so baffling and disturbing, it's a revolutionary change, it's not just tonal. And it's unpredictable going forward.

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