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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  January 27, 2017 11:15pm-11:46pm GMT

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tonight, a specially extended newsnight exploring the first seven days of donald trump's presidency and what they have meant for the world. just over 12 months ago, the british parliament debated banning donald trump from this country in response to the perceived toxicity of his electioneering rhetoric. today, the british prime minister — who, as home secretary described some of that rhetoric as "divisive, unhelpful and wrong" — arrived in washington and invited him to come here on a state visit. indeed, at a joint press conference a few hours ago, both were keen to portray the beginning of a beautiful friendship. but she mentioned the so—called special relationship eight times in a speech to republican politicians yesterday, while today trump's white house managed to misspell her name three times in official documentation. so just how special is that relationship and just how much of a political risk is theresa may taking by swallowing any personal distaste and hoping that a president who delights in bellowing "america first" might somehow be persuaded to put britain second? newsnight‘s david grossman was watching.
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how presidents and prime ministers interact matters. a great deal of effort goes into making sure they hit it off. some relationships, however, barely register. others become central to both. into which category this latest iteration will fall, well, today we began to find out. nothing was allowed to get in the way, not even the oval office lamp. an executive order, and it was gone. back in the room, the bust of churchill. this is the original. after a private meeting in the oval office, a press conference, where the compliments really flowed. today, the united states renews our deep bond with britain, military, financial, cultural and political. one of the great bonds. we pledge our lasting support to this most special relationship. i am delighted to be able to congratulate
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you on what was a stunning election victory. as you say, the invitation is an indication of the strength and importance of the special relationship. the relationship that exists between our countries, based on the bonds of history, family, kinship and common interests. the positivity was rather interrupted by the questions from reporters. two picked by the president, two by theresa may. you have said before that torture works, you have praised russia, you have said you want to ban some muslims from coming to america. you have suggested there should be punishment for abortions. this was your choice for a question? there goes this relationship! it is 205 years since the british set fire to the white house. theresa may had been advised to do something similar today. instead, her softer approach appears to have achieved results, reassurance on the key military alliance. on defence and security corporation, we are united in the reclamation
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of nato as the bulwark of our defence, and we have confirmed our commitment to this alliance. you have confirmed you are 100% behind nato. mr trump also said it was too early to talk about dropping sanctions on russia. on torture, mr trump is on record as saying he thinks it works. crucially, he says his new defence secretary does not. i don't necessarily agree, but i would tell you that he would override, because i am giving him that power. he is an expert, he is highly respected, he is the general's general. there was the inevitable question of personal chemistry. the hard—working daughter of a vicar, the brush tv extrovert, have you found anything in common? i am not as brash as you might think, i think we are going to get along very well. it is interesting, i am a people person, i think you are all so.
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i can often tell how i get along with some of the very early, and i believe we will have a fantastic relationship. the president's people—judging powers let him down when he tried to hold the prime minister's hand as he walked her to her car. aside from a little awkwardness, both sides would have been happy with today. david grossman there. our political editor nick watt was watching that press conference today. hejoins me now. will they be having a small glass of sherry in theresa may's camp? they are ecstatic, this visit was fraught with risks for theresa may. many tories said she was rushing over to washington to soon after the inauguration. in number ten, they are pointing to two big gains, in the first place, that commitment, according to theresa may, that donald trump is 100% behind nato. only a few weeks ago he said nato
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is obsolete in its current form. crucially, she said that nato will have to meet two concerns, everybody has to pay their fair share and it has to be reconfigured to tackle terrorism. the second big gain they are taking his big support for a uk — us free trade agreement. interestingly, those two were voiced by theresa may, and not by donald trump. her tactics have done the job in the short—term, but necessarily delivering in the long—term? theresa may is essentially doing what every uk prime minister since harold wilson andjim callaghan has done, get close to the us president. she says she's doing it in her way and giving herself some wriggle room. she believes tony blair perhaps appeared to write a blank check for george bush after 9/11. on russia, she made it clear she disagrees with donald trump and thinks that sanctions should remain in place. he was noncommittal on that. kellyanne conway was saying maybe
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the us would be lifting sanctions. think what she got on nato. essentially, donald trump has given that commitment and she can say to eu partners and nato partners in europe, who have doubts about the uk heading off to the us, she is able to say she got a commitment that he is 100% behind it. you may do well on the substance, but in the end it is decided, often, on the optics, and what will be the abiding memory of the visit? the handshake, the holding hands. thanks, nick. dr leslie vinjamuri is an expert in the transatlantic partnership. professionally, this must be a fraught time for you. what is the transatlantic partnership? it has been an interesting visit today. it was a meeting that could have gone very badly. but i think it is exactly right to say the optics, the symbolism of the visit have so far seemed to be very important.
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the transatlantic relationship, what is it? historically, it has been a commitment by the us and the united kingdom to promote and secure the liberal international order. this is what everybody has been worried about, that donald trump is walking back, in very significant and dramatic ways, from the international order. theresa may seemed to be talking about globalism, upholding the liberal international order, when donald trump seemed to be running away from that at a rate of knots? not only was the press conference interesting, but last night, when she spoke to the republicans, she made a point of saying the united states and the united kingdom would work together to promote democracy. they would not do it by intervening in the internal affairs of other states. it was a global agenda, a liberal agenda. it was, in one sense, in another sense, the american media seemed a lot keener to ask questions about mexico and russia than they did about the other half of the so—called special
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relationship? that is right. there are all sorts of issues. the question now that we need to remember is that donald trump was very respectful, but there is a sense in which you always think that maybe he is humouring whoever he is speaking to. the rubber hits the road in the days and weeks to come. will the special relationship really mean much to donald trump? very hard to know. in the great scheme of things, for all of his scottish ancestry and what have you, how high up on his to—do list will be giving britain something? you know, i do think that donald trump is committed to a us— uk bilateral trade deal. what amounts to is minuscule compared to what theresa may needs to secure from european partners. at the end of the day, donald trump as a set of priorities and very few of them have a lot to do with the uk, right? so, we have to watch this space. thank you very much indeed. the conservative mep —
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and arch—brexiteer — dan hannan is with me. you get described as that all the time. this wasn't really in the script, all of these wonderful new freedoms, the liberation that follows from shrugging off the shackles of brussels, the first thing the prime minister does is break bread with a self—proclaimed protectionist? well, with a view to getting a trade deal between the largest and fifth—largest economy is on the planet, which will be of huge benefit to both. one million brits turn up to work for american companies every day, we are the single biggest investor there, they are the single biggest investor here. the only thing that has not followed up has been the trade, because it has been controlled by brussels instead of us. that can now change. as far as i can see, there are almost no losers, and a lot of winners, including european allies. glass three quarters full for you? are you worried about some of the less savoury elements of the election campaign, seeing the british prime minister essentially, post—brexit, having to go there and make friendly
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noises? i was not a trump supporter. are you now? seems to me that the only proper attitude for a friend of america and a friend of american democracy is to say you have made your decision and this remains a powerful alliance. whoever is in the white house? as long as america remains committed to the values of the west, this is our one key alliance. it has since i9ai. you mentioned 1941, it seems, and we haven't got the detail of the executive order, it looks like it might have signed a ban on refugees on holocaust remembrance day. how does that play with western values? there were all sorts of aspects of his platform... just focus on that one. as i say, i would not have voted for him. but theresa may's job is not to go and lecture him and what herfinger, herjob is to get the best deal for us, and, by implication,
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the best dealfor the broader community of western countries. i think she did that today. she came out with a commitment on nato, which would have delighted the europeans. she slightly softened his position on the issue of sanctions on russia. she has notjust gone and played a subordinate role at all, it is clear there is give and take. she has established her own vision of what the special relationship can be and she has made relationships, by the way, notjust with him. the us is a system with a divided government. an awful lot, in a very short press conference! but she has also been meeting, you know, the other leaders in congress. this will be a key relationship, bigger than any two leaders. do you buy this conflation that is abroad now of brexit, with trump, that without brexit there would be no trump? given your established rejection of much of what he said and stood for in the election campaign,
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do you feel, as the arch brexiteer, a degree of responsible too? i think the parallel has been greatly overdone. a big part of donald trump's appeal, as i understand it, was that he did not want free trade with china. a big part of vote leave‘s agenda was that we do. brexit has a globalist and internationalist flavour that i don't think was there. the one thing that they have in common, i will concede this, was anger against what was perceived to be a failed governing class. i think it would be a mistake to see brexit as being nativist or protectionist, it is much more about re—engagement with the wider world. do you think there should have been a bit of finger wagging, that said? i have no idea what happened behind closed doors. i can only infer from what was said in front of those doors afterwards. the issues that people have concerns about, nato, russia sanctions and so on,
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he seems to have slightly softened his position on. i accept you are not as enthusiastic about drawing the two together as some other brexiteers, do you think the world is a safer place now donald trump is in the white house? he was not my preferred candidate. i think the world is a safer place when english—speaking democracies work together for the rule of law. english—speaking democracies? the alliance between the united kingdom and the united states has been a far greater guarantor of human happiness than anybody likes to admit for the last 100 years. imagine a world without it. we think of these universal values of free speech, equality forwomen, democracy, there would have been nothing universal about them if the second world war ended differently, or the cold war ended differently. we should remember the value of that alliance and what it has done, not just for us, but the other countries. but the alliance that was already extant? i just wanted to direct your view towards continental europe.
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the candidate for the french presidency said that britain lives in equilibrium with europe, but now it is becoming the junior partner of the united states? on from being a big player... the absurdity of that is that the european union is that political integration. it is about turning countries into something bigger, a political union. no country in the world is more jealous of its sovereignty than the united states. the idea that this could be anything other than an alliance of democracies, and i have one that goes wider, bringing in otherfriendly countries, that we would be drawn into a political union... english—speaking, or would we allow others? all friendly countries. there is so much virtue signalling, including from some british politicians, who are indulging themselves by signalling their distaste for this or that aspect of donald trump's domestic policy. they might just feel distaste.
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but if they were prime minister and not engaging with the world's largest economy, and our most important military ally, it would be a serious dereliction of duty. all it would seem that the spokespeople and cheerleaders who spent much of last year insisting that trump should be taken seriously but not literally, or that we should stop listening to his actual words and focus instead on what was in his heart are going to need some new catchphrases. within days of assuming office, trump has signed executive orders addressing inter alia, pre—election pledges about banning refugees from some muslim countries and building that wall on the mexican border. newsnight‘s diplomatic editor mark urban has been considering just how significant those signatures will prove to be. the speech at the inaugurations, followed by a dispute over how many
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had attended heralded something loud and clear. from early morning tweets to abuse, president trump is no different from campaign trail trump. the idea of repealing obamacare, the affordable care act, has been touted many times on the trail. and it is somewhere where the president and republican lawmakers can agree in principle. but signing off on his first executive order, trump could not scrap obamacare in one stroke. that would leave 20 million americans uncovered. republicans have thought about the alternative for some time but they have not necessarily agreed on what the policy is so i think there would have to be some agreement around policy and then the timing and sequencing has to come into play. i have thought this would be a several month process. in some areas, for example on resuming water boarding, the news has not been quite what it seems. when isis is doing things
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people have not heard of since medieval times, would i feel strongly about water boarding? as far as i am concerned, we have to fight fire with fire. in an abc interview president trump said it is clear torture works. but it is clear he the cia director opposes it. i think he's communicating what voters feel and what he feels himself. at the same time that is different from the us government establishing a policy. we had the opposite from the defence secretary, jim mattis saying he has more success with a can of beer and a pack of cigarettes than anyone would using enhanced interrogation. if that is uncertain, what about the mexican wall? it is a key campaign promise but paying for it is proving entirely contentious. first the mexican president cancelled a planned visit,
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then president trump talked about using a 20% import tariff but legislation looks inevitable. it cannot be done simply by executive order. the issue now is can he rule by executive order and i think there are real constraits on that. the first constraint is obviously congress itself, which can actually legislate to stop him using executive orders if it wants, but anything donald trump sits in his office and signs, congress will have the power to either fund or not fund. and then there is the government machine. draft executive orders have already leaked, white house staff have badmouthed each other and civil servants have been tweeting subversively. i'm sure that in the federal workforce there are a lot of people who are very unhappy about trump's election, and will provide some kind of passive resistance to his leadership or active resistance. i really hope people don't do
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that and get over it. it is everyone‘s duty to try and make the administration that you're working for as successful as possible for the good of the country. for the moment, just one week in, trump still has plenty of political momentum, but with so many executive orders, of uncertainty over how they will work, and fewer appointees in place, the complications have already started to multiply. in a moment we'll be talking to the foreign affairs expert, anne applebaum. but first joining me now from florida is the veteran republican political strategist roger stone, who is a long term confidante of donald trump. mr stone, everyone was waiting for a pivot, they were waiting for the old phrase ‘we campaign in poetry and govern in prose,‘ but there isn't going to be one, is there? no, nor is there going to be any honeymoon.
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donald trump is exactly who he appears to be. he is his own man. he's not going to fit into some structure designed by others, and i believe that as long as he continues to implement his agenda, and make progress on the big issues, these small kerfuffles over his twitter feed and the size of the press and his correct in my view criticism of the media will not matter. what matters to the american people are results. let me pick you up on that first point about him being his own man who is not going to try and fit into anybody else‘s worldview, how does that square with what he said about torture and fitting into james mattis's worldview? i could not understand your question. you said he will be his own man and not be moulded by anyone else‘s views but the first thing he said in a press conference today is he has allowed james mattis to remould the attitude on torture. he will follow the lead
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of his defence secretary. first of all he has to do what is both legal and constitutional, regardless of what his personal views are. i understand his disgust at the tactics of isis and i think he is trying to signal that he will do everything he can to crush isis. at the same time he, like every other president has to follow the law. general mattis is a good man, he knows what he is doing. i think he is wise to follow his lead. will there be torture under a trump administration, knowing what you know of donald trump? i think he will push the limits legally and constitutionally. he wants to get tough on isis as he can but at the end of the day he still has to abide by the law. you are a veteran of the dark arts of politicking, you seem to revel in the rascal—ish nature of the profession, so when you put it out that
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ted cruz‘ father was involved in the assassination ofjohn f. kennedy, one imagines you doing it with a wry smile and a thumbs up to the gallery. donald trump has a different view. when he spoke about being in scotland the day before brexit, the calendar in his own twitter reveals he did not go there until the day after. does he believe all of this himself even though the evidence contradicts him? i think there is some poetic licence there, but i am committed to the truth. and the issue about the russians and the elections which is unproven... that is why i have not asked you about that. when he says he was in scotland the day before the result came in and he predicted it all and his own twitter account reveals he landed
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in scotland the day after, does he believe it when he says it? perhaps he was mistaken. do you think any voter really cares? i don't think they care. when he says it was not raining during the inauguration but people could feel the raindrops landing on their head, it does he put himself in a position where he has persuaded himself that what he wants to be true is true? well, having gone to the inauguration, having taken the occasion to finally wear a morning suit, something i have wanted to do my entire life, i have to tell you it did not rain. there was a nanosecond when there was a sprinkling of raindrops, it was over in less than two minutes. i know because my wife did not want to get drenched, so i think on this occasion he was right.
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but not on the dates for arriving in scotland. congratulations on the morning suit. i am joined now by anne applebaum from the washington post. are you as upbeat about donald trump? funnily enough i thought mr trump sounded less upbeat funnily enough i thought ——mr stone sounded less upbeat than i thought he was. i am holding fire. i will wait to see what happens. what would be good news, what would reassure you? what would reassure me, unfortunately, would be if trump had announced he had thought it through, he had listened to his cabinet, he had spoken to experts, he had talked to people in the state department, he had talked people in other departments and he had decided that the liberal international order and the rule of law, and the rules—based world order
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theresa may spoke about, that these are things worth preserving and he has decided to preserve them. that would reassure me. and at that point his core support goes nuts? i am not sure because i am not sure what his core supporters were voting for him for? the wall and the ban on muslims. it was not clear how much it matters. the to the wall was a. it is not clear how much they believed would happen. is there a danger now that everybody is hearing what they want to hear and in fact he does move around quite a lot and possibly even today we may have seen evidence that his opinion can be in some way changed by the last person who made an impression on him. theresa may very keen to come out and talk about nato and russian sanctions, if he is in a room with someone more hawkish tomorrow or more protectionist, he may switch again? one of the techniques he used to win the election, you can look at the way they used
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facebook and his team used the internet, they would put at dozens of different messages. somewhat contradictory, some were variations on the same thing. and people heard what they wanted to hear and screened out what they did not want to hear. you and i are not used to it. we are confused by it and we find it contradictory. it was an election and it did help him get elected. the question is, can it help him rule? the statements he made about the wall and making mexico pay for the wall, what has happened, he has destroyed relationships with one of america's most important allies and trading partnerships, the peso has crashed, people believe the border may come back, nafta may be regulated which means hundreds and hundreds of businesses will be in trouble. they all heard some messages that he was sending to some people
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and those have now had an effect in real life. now that he is president, that meant that instead of strewing messages out there and letting them sink into where they might, that will have effects in the real world. do you believe theresa may had much choice in trying to get to the front of the queue? her visit to washington was a real indication of how much more restricted britain's choices are and how much less sovereignty britain has than it used to. britain has no choice. she politically needs somewhere she can go when britain leaves the eu. she needs someone she can point to as a partner. i had worried that one of her partners might be russia or china or turkey... she is in turkey next! she would need somebody out of the periphery. she might go to the anti democratic world. and trump, like a blessing
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from the sky has given her this opportunity. but almost everything she said in her speech yesterday, and everything she said about global britain in the last few days, contradicts directly what trump has said. but they held hands. anne applebaum thank you. we have inevitably been viewing the nascent trump presidency and the new world order that many believe it will presage. let's look now at howard appears from elsewhere in the world. —— how it will appear what i see is that america will become more protectionist and come more nationalist. they are withdrawing global trade and global agreements and at the same time, china is taking up that position and the
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president of china was at da boss to give a speech and stating that china's desire and effort in taking the leadership on global trade which will be to the prosperity and peace of the world and also taking the lead on climate change. if it is business deals, renegotiating trade deals, cancelling them, amending them, that is one thing. if it's going to be a projection of military power, again, that is going to be very dangerous. but, of course, from mr trump's first utterances, it appears he realises those dangers. the european partners are very much in doubt whether the united states will continue to be a trustful ally in nato. then, fundamentally, i think it is important to emphasise
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that in his inauguration speech, he hasn't emphasised the value of human rights, democracy, of liberal order, which is really another fundamental the global order, as we have built that, together with the united states. his brief comments on torture just prove that he is ready to really question fundamental principles. the historian simon schama is here, alongside ted malloch, who is widely tipped for a role in the trump administration — possibly as ambassador to the european union. you don't have any news for us? maybe next week. simon, you have taken to social media and coined the rhyme theresa the appeaser. anything to appease your fears today? not particularly. the spectacle of them holding hands, actually, doesn't in any rational


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