tv State of the Union With Jake Tapper CNN May 21, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PDT
good morning, i'm jake tapper in washington. we are waiting a major speech by president trump on his very first overseas visit as president. he was of course elected after calling for a temporary ban on muslims coming into the united states. he's now hoping to reset relations with the muslim world. in his speech in saudi arabia this morning the president will ask arab nations for their help in battling extremism and he casts the fight against terrorism a battle between good and evil. president trump has so far been greeted warmly in saudi arabia. here he is joining in a ceremonial sword damage. the saudis projected hadis image onto the hotel he's staying at and the flattery did not stop
there. egyptian president al sisi. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> the president expresses our appreciation and respect and let me say that you have a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible. >> thank you. i agree. >> certainly friendlier confines than washington, d.c., where the president left behind the most devastating week of his young presidency, which, capped with the bombshell report that he told the russians inside the oval office that firing fbi director james comey greatly relieved the pressure he was facing because of the fbi investigation into possible collusion between russia and his campaign team. the news came just after the justice department appointed another former fbi director robert mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee the investigation. there's so much to talk about and while we await president trump's speech i want to get to republican senator marco rubio,
on the intelligence and foreign relations committees. senator, thanks very much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> good morning. >> i'm interested in hearing your response to a specific excerpt from president trump's speech in saudi arabia this morning, specifically this part, "we are not here to lecture. we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. instead we are here to offer partnership based on shared interests and values to pursue a better future for us all." senator, frankly, i cannot imagine you ever saying anything like that, when standing in a country like saudi arabia. are you concerned at all about the president seemingly abdicating the very public role of the united states in standing up to are democracy and human rights? >> well, i mean yes, that would not have been a part of the speech i would have delivered for the reason i think it's in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. with the recognition that you may not get it overnight, there needs to be a period of transition and i think further in that speech they talk about gradual improvements in places
which i think is wise, and pragmatic. that said, i would tell you that the white house and i have a different approach on the issue of human rights. i'm much more forceful and open and vocal about criticizing whether it's egypt or saudi arabia for its human rights record. the white house is convinced they can address the issues in private within on within. there are issues raised with the white house and with foreign leaders they have gotten results. sandy van gilles was released from china. those are one case. there are thousands of cases around the world. we have a disagreement on the right way to approach it. they have their approach and i have mine but he's the president. so our hope is they'll at least continue to raise the issues in private as i am told they will do with al sisi today or did with al sisi on the ngo law that he has to, looks like there's a lot of pressure internally to impose on ngos operating in egypt and likewise in saudi
arabia, paul bodawi and others held ungistly, those issues will be raised as well. we have a difference in approach. there's no doubt. >> let's turn to the issue concerning domestic policies. former fbi director james comey agreed to testify publicly before your panel after memorial day. what are you going to ask him? >> well, i think that just the inquiry will be obviously about things that have been reported on even that is did he keep the memos, what did the memos say. did he feel like he was put in a position where he couldn't do his job? there's no doubt that's the questions they'll get asked and asked repeatedly an the american people deserve to have an answer to that and i'm happy that former director comey is going to appear publicly before the intelligence committee to answer these questions, so we can get it directly from him and not simply have to rely on a thirdhand account of how he felt and/or what was in those memos. >> the white house has made it clear they're going to attack james comey's credibility. do you think he's a credible person? >> i don't know him personally
very well. i interacted with him over a number of years on the intelligence committee and found him respectful and forthcoming in closed settings, very good at explaining what it is he was working on. others have differences with him. i've never had any quarrel with james comey. i found him a patriotic hard-working american who loved the country. was he perfect, no. i imagine he would acknowledge that, too, but i certainly have always had a lot of respect for him and but we're going to have that testimony and people will be able to make their own judgment. >> president trump calls all of this a witchhunt. what do you think of that? >> i wouldn't use the term witchhunt. these issues are being raised in the press. people are going to the press who appear to be in the know or pretend to be in the know, they leak information, the press reports on it. these questions need to be answered. unlike some other people i am one of the 150 people in the senate that serve on the senate intelligence committee. lot of people say you're being cautious about this. i am and here's why, because the credibility of our investigation depends on every single one of
us in that committee going in without any preconceived notions. i want to know the truth. i want to know the entire truth. i want to us put it in a report and i want to share it with you and the whole country so people can reach their own conclusion. but the reason why the chairman of the house intelligence committee, who say good guy, had to recuse himself is because he was taking hard positions in one direction or another on these issues, and so i don't want to prejudge any of these. i acknowledge the media reports raise questions and let's get to the facts and establish the facts and people can make a concrete opinion or take a concrete opinion on these matters. but until then it's my obligation to reserve judgment on all of this until all the information is in, we've analyzed it together and not just based on media reports. i think that's the right thing to do for the country. we need an intelligence committee report that people have confidence in. we're not going to have that. the members of the committee are out there in front of the press already having made up their mind before the report is together. >> i want to play something you
said on the campaign trail in november when hillary clinton was running for president. take a listen. >> i would just ask everybody this. can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the fbi? >> no! >> think of the trauma that would do to this country. >> can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the fbi? obviously it's trump's campaign team, not necessarily him that's under investigation by the fbi. but do you think that this is causing trauma to the country? >> let' be clear. number one the fbi has not said that the president is under investigation. they don't discuss those things so let's be clear about that. second, i would say to you that in, in fact he or any president for that matter, of course that's not good for the country and that's why i think it's important that we finish our work in a way that's credible. the intelligence committee will review it with the primary focus on counter intelligence. we may discover facts that are relevant to former director mueller's look at this. i think mueller's appointment is going to look at this in a way that's thorough and i hope we
can quickly reach a conclusion and make a decision about moving forward or not moving forward, in the best interest of the country and frankly the trump administration, to have something thorough, fair and above reproach and as quickly as possible so the country can move on in one way or another. there's no doubt this cloud is impacting everything else and we need to get over this once and for all and the best way to have a process in place to arrive the at the facts, no matter what they are and whatever the facts are that's what we need to make our decisions on. >> seems the white house is standing in the way of the process to get to the facts, look at the new bombshell from the "new york times" newspaper reporting when president trump went behind closed doors in the oval office with russian officials he told them "i just fired the head the fbi. he was crazy, a real nut job. i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off." what was your response when you read the comments?
>> those response are based on notes i haven't seen and neither have you. i'm not denying, not admitting they are. we don't know. that's why we need to have an inquiry that looks at all that. i asked the white house to produce those notes to the intelligence committee so we can review it. i thought it was and continue to believe it was important for them to do. again, i go back to the point that i made and that is irrespective of all those reports, director mueller will do his thing with regards to the work that he now has, the intelligence committee is going to continue to do its work. you will have now at least two separate places that i hope will reach conclusions based on facts, that people can trust, and that's what i am investing my time and energy. when i don't, when i'm cautious about commenting on these things, is because i do not want to undermine the credibility of this effort, in one direction or another. it is in the best interests of this country for the senate intelligence committee to produce a report based on facts that everyone has confidence in, and not some sort of open-ended thing that continues to, you
know, spiral this thing out of control. >> of course, the white house is not disputing those comments as reported in the "new york times," and i guess there are a lot of americans who are looking at this growing body of information, and wondering what exactly is going on here. we have the comments that he made to the russian officials according to that document. president trump recently told nbc's lester holt the russia investigation was on his mind when he made the decision to fire director comey. take a listen. >> but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election, that they should have won. >> so we have that. we have what he told the russians according to that document, a source close to comey tells us president trump urged the fbi director to back off investigating michael flynn, this is in a comey memo, "i hope
you can let this go." as an attorney, as a u.s. senator, do you consider this to be a growing body of evidence that the president might have attempted to obstruct justice? >> we don't know yet. number one, i haven't seen the notes. number two, we have yet to take the testimony from james comey. he'll be asked that question. in two weeks we'll know more based on the testimony that he gives under oath before the committee and the country publicly. until then we won't know. as far as the president's comments, that's always been the white house's position that this whole thing is a farce. that's their position. our job in the intelligence committee has been to look at this entire episode for the purposes of counter intelligence in particular and then arrive at the facts, put them out in a report, and move on from there. that's what we're endeavoring to do in a bipartisan way and the best way to do that is not to litigate it in the press, about you to do our work and put the report in a way that is credible
so no one can deny its credibility and no one can say we went into it already having made up our minds. this i can tell you for fact no matter what the facts are, i want them wherever they take us, irrespective what outcome it reaches one way or another. my interests are clear and i don't think anyone ever doubted the concern that i have about russian interference. back in october i was running for re-election and looked like my race was close. i may have been the only republican in the country running for congress who refused to discuss wikileaks, use it against my opponent or secretary clinton because it was the work of a foreign intelligence agency. i said it then and i believe it now. i think our report will lay that out and any other facts pertinent to that. >> when looking for the facts, if you come to the conclusion that president trump fired james comey because he wanted to relieve the pressure of the fbi investigation into his campaign team, would that disturb you? would that be obstruction of justice? >> well, again, let me say it this way.
if any president tries to impede an investigation any president no matter who it is, that would be problematic and obviously potential obstruction of justice people have to make a decision on, any president. that said we don't know if that's what happened here and we can't make that decision and i'm certainly not going to make pronouncements at this level of magnitude solely on the basis of what an anonymous source told the press. i am not disputing the press accounts but i am also not going to accept them especially being in the position that i'm in, where we're going to have access to director comey, hopefully to the notes, and to all sorts of other information that will give us true, complete insight into all of this. that's only fair to the president. that's only fair to the country, but we need to go through the steps to get there. otherwise, this apeefrz political and partisan and there will be ongoing doubts whatever we find if we don't do that way.
>> a lot of democrats liked you running for the republican nomination and a number of them voted for you when you ran for senate. what is your message to them when they say at home if this was a democratic president doing all the things that president trump is doing, republicans like marco rubio would be very, very vocal and very, very critical, more so than they are now. >> that wouldn't be accurate. i would encourage them to talk to my democratic colleagues on the intelligence committee and ask them. ask them, do i take my role on that committee seriously? am i in that committee acting as a partisan or acting as an american? ask them. i think everybody on that committee in my view is approaching this as an american, not as a partisan. it's one of the reasons why the select committee on intelligence is so unique. most of our hearings are not in front of cameras and that partisan, some of that incentive to perhaps act in a partisan way is taken away but also because we understand there are only 15 people in the senate that have access to this information.
we have an important job to do for the 85 of our other colleagues so i'm doing this in what's in the best interests of the country and the bottom line is, unlike the other 85 senators, i am actively involved in looking at this, and if i'm out there right now taking a position defending the president or attacking the president, it undermines my credibility and my opinion and my work on this investigation. let us finish our work, let us collect the facts, let us document them, let us put it out in a report and then based oen that, i will take a firm position, and then people could say whatever they want to say. but we've got to finish our work. that's my job and that's what i'm going to do. >> for the record it is true democrats on the senate intelligence committee say that about senator rubio. nicolas maduro delivered a scathing critique of president trump friday, told him to stop interve intervening. he said "get your pig hands out of here." what is your response to president maduro and what else
needs to be done to stop the suffering of the people of venezuela? >> maduro is not a president, he's a dictator right now. he canceled the constitution, tried to nullify the national assembly and what solves the situation of venezuela is not problematic. they have to follow their own constitution. that's it, follow the constitution chavez put in place, hold an election. they are scheduled to hold elections. i believe any free and fair election in venezuela there's no way maduro's group wins. hold an election. that's what needs to happen. that's the solution and that's what he's standing in the way of and refuses to do, and in the process, he's destabilizing the entire region, and luckily you were starting to see breaks in there, the attorney general of venezuela is repeatedly breaking from the maduro regime and the things they're doing. hopefully there will be people in the military that refuse to continue to cooperate with the human rights violations that occurring. i thanked the white house for coming forward and sanctioning
these fraudulent puppets on the supreme court of venezuela, who basically are just rubber stamps for whatever maduro tells them to do. they should be sanctioned and there are more people to come because they are stealing the money of the venezuela nation to enrich themselves and spending it in the united states to buy homes in florida and invest in properties and private jets in the state of florida and the united states. we should sanction and seize those properties they are purchasing with the treasure of venezuela's people. >> senator marco rubio, republican of florida, thank you for your time. we always appreciate it. >> thank you. when we come back, coverage of the president's speech abroad. stay with us. isn't it time to let the real you shine through? introducing otezla, apremilast. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently.
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hear from president trump today? >> jake, we are expecting to hear new words this president has not yet said about the muslim world, about the islam faith. he is going to be delivering a speech against extremism. we're told that he is going to say this is not a battle of religions. it's more of a unifying speech at least that's what we're led to believe from the white house, and boy, jake, this will be a completely different message from this president, certainly from when he ran for president to now once in the office. this may be the biggest distinction yet we've been sort of watching him grow, evolve in office but the excerpts at least provided by the white house and our reporting talking to aides behind the scene show this speech has gone through several drafts, several revisions but all have more of a unifying tone and a nature to them which is something he has not often done in office, but it is a fight against extremism, and he's delivering it to not average citizens. he's delivering it to leaders of
more than 51 muslim countries, who have gathered here for a summit. so it's certainly a different moment for him, a different audience for him. we have not seen him in this setting before, jake. >> jeff, trump said during the campaign "islam hates us." but he has received an extremely warm welcome in saudi arabia, much warmer than president obama's last trip to saudi arabia, where the king wouldn't even meet him. why is that? >> it's so interesting. the rhetoric that he used and in fact used to win the republican primary campaign, and then when he was running in the general election was so divisive, but it's almost as though that has either been forgotten or forgiven, largely because of the interest in resetting relations. the leaders here shall the government likes the idea of his policies at least largely how he has spoken out against the nuclear agreement in iran,
largely what they hope his policy also be. jake so interesting, he's not delivered on any of that. he said he was going to erase it on day one. that hasn't happened, but they are embracing him and rolling out the red carpet unlike president obama had, even eight years ago during his first visit here in june of '09, as we were driving through the streets of riyad, jake, just the billboards of giant pictures of this president, giant image of trump on his hotel last night. he loves all of this, of course, and many of the foreign leaders he's been meeting with are showering him, you know, with congratulations. it is of course an attempt to reset the relationship. the question is, can president trump take back all that rhetoric or make them forget? i think it's invest an open question. >> and then of course president trump in running for office was very, very critical of both president obawbama and hillary clinton for not using the term
radical islamic terrorism. he's not expected to use that term in saudi arabia today. >> he's not expected to at least that's what we're led to believe by his senior advisers. there's been quite a debate about this. at least as of now the early versions of the speech and the excerpts released say he's going to use the word islamist, which is different than islamic in the sense it's going after the politics more specifically than the faith. but again it's a very fine line. jake, one thing i am watching and waiting to see if he says, something that president george w. bush said, something that president obama said, our war is not against islam. will he make that type of overture here? we have to wait and find out here, but this speech in terms of all the ones this president has given certainly the biggest on the foreign stage, i would argue it's the biggest speech he's given overall since taking office. it allows him a reprieve from what's happening back in washington, jake, but this is so important as he sets out for the rest of his journey here for the next week. >> thank you so much.
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we are awaiting president trump's speech before leaders at the arab islamic american summit in saudi arabia. excerpts released by the white house the president is expected to tell the 50-plus leaders's not there to lecture him and also a line in the speech called confronting the crisis of islamist extremism and the islamist terror groups it inspires. let's bring in our panel, rick
santorum, representative to the muslim world, jen psaki former white house commune kigs indications for president owe ba many adam kinsington. senator santorum, take a listen to president trump december 2015 talking about the phrase radical islamic terrorism. >> radical islamic terrorism and i'll tell you what, we have a president that refuses to use the term. he refuses to say it. >> today we're going to get this from president trump's speech in saudi arabia according to the early excerpts. he plans to say that means honestly confronting the crisis of islamist extremism and the islamic terror groups it inspires. is this the same word play that president trump was critical of democrats for doing? >> one of the most common criticisms of president trump is he doesn't listen to anybody.
that he just is hard-headed and does his own thing. this is pretty clear. he's listening to somebody. i don't necessarily agree with this, but the idea that donald trump isn't listening, you read this speech at least the excerpts we have, he's listening to someone because this is not what donald trump talked about. this is not who he has been throughout the course of the campaign, and even early in his presidency. and so he's actually listening. so what sort of makes me step back and say, well, he actually is listening on this, i think he listened on health care. on policy, it looks to me like donald trump is actually listening to his advisers, accepting some recommendations, and changing who he is and his persona. so my question is, why can't he do the same thing when it comes to his personal habits? i'm serious. you see a man who seems to have some flexibility here. seems to solicit and to accept recommendations. >> when it comes to important policies.
>> when it comes to policy, and i agree with some of the things he's done to change. i don't agree, like this one, i don't agree with what he's done here but he's showing the flexibility to my fellow republicans who may be out there thinking what are we in for for the next few years, maybe there's a sign of hope that there is more flexibility in donald trump than we think there is. >> congressman, what do you think? >> i actually agree. there's something interesting that happens as a member of congress in the foreign affairs committee. you travel a lot and you in essence fact-finding/diplomacy. member of congress it's nothing like the president coming to a country but the second you land and you get off that plane and you meet with government leaders, the reality of what you're doing sets in. you're like, wow, everything i say here has an impact. this has a real impact on the future in the war on terror for instance, the future of our alliances, and with that impressive show that the saudis gave president trump, i'm actually proud of that, as an
american exceptionalism that believes in america's strength around the globe so see that level of respect for it's not just president trump, it's for the american people from saudi arabia, i think that's fantastic, and then with this word change i agree. i don't think there's anything wrong with saying islamic terrorism, but if this is going to create less controversy and unify everybody behind kind of american leadership, great, and i think we need to recognize that. >> what do you think? >> this is a remarkable and unforeseen opportunity. what would have imagined this president would pick saudi arabias ahis first stop and decide his first major address is to muslims based on what he did during the campaign and first few days as president. the president has two opportunities in the speech. the first opportunity is to cut a deal with saudi arabia that's good for america and i don't just mean an economic deal. i mean an ideological deal. get them to stop inciting hate around the world. he wants to defeat isis, the
second to the points just made, the president has a credibility problem with muslims. so he has to convince muslims in this speech not just american muslims but muslims in the room and muslims around the world who are watching, that he can distinguish between violent extremism and the religion of islam, and that is going to be very hard to do. lexicon is going to matter, his tone is going to matter but he has to back it up not just with words but in deeds. so i look to what happens after this speech. i look to how he addresses issues of anti-muslim hate in our country, does he speak out. we are all, all of us, regardless of whether you're a democrat or a republican or anybody in between, want the president to be successful in defeating isis. >> jen, what do you think president trump, for all the muslim baggage he brings with him, that i don't need to rehash i don't think again, is being greeted so much more warmly than president obama, whose father was actually a lapsed muslim and
who certainly didn't bring anything along those lines when he went on his first trip to the muslim world to saudi arabia, you and i were both on that trip. >> um-hum. i think we're also seeing how he's being greeted by the saudi government, which isn't necessarily representative of all the people in saudi arabia or all the people in the middle east who will be closely watching the speech today, and there are a couple of reasons i think the government greeted him so warmly. one, they see him more hard line on iran. two he completed a deal started during the obama administration, and is giving them weapons that they will probably use in yemen and the proxy war we were not willing to give them because we were concerned about that, and three, he's not raising a lot of the issues that are thorns in their side. we'll see what happens in the speech today related to human rights and women's rights. we haven't seen that debate. to them it's a transactional relationship in some ways, it's very practical and they're not raising a lot of the issues that past administrations, obama,
bush, have raised that have annoyed them frankly. >> and senator santorum, let me go to you. i would say you and marco rubio when it comes to raising the issues of human rights, comes to countries like saudi arabia are on the same page, do you think that's fair to say? >> it is fair to say. >> i just want to read this to you. this is president trump before he was president, june 13th, 2016, writing on facebook about the clinton foundation taking money from saudi arabia, "saudi arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the clinton foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. hillary must return all money from such countries." that is very different from what president trump is saying at least according to excerpts today, we're not here to lecture you. you do your country the way you want to run it. >> this is where i think farah is right, maybe publicly he says that but privately he better be talking to the saudis about what
farah talking about, spewing their education around the world hate, a violent and radical form of islam, that does those very things that donald trump talked about. so there may be a public conversation which would show some nuance in donald trump that i don't think most people would have expected, that would be fine from my perspective, as long as it's being followed up by saying, look, the reason we're having problems with islamists is because we have this country spreading islamism all throughout the world, and you have to stop this. you have to start to change the message coming out of here, and i understand you need to do that to contain the masses who are, you know, there's that friction between the royal family and the masses, but this is undermining our national security, and we are not going to continue a relationship that allow this is to continue. >> one of the things that
senator rubio said that i think is an astute analysis, president trump they talk about bringing up the human rights issues privately. when they do, they seem to focus on important but singular story, freeing aya from egypt. et cetera. those are important stories obviously but nowhere near as significant in terms of how many people were affected is the larger issue senator santorum is talking. . >> when i was in saudi arabia the anti-radical center fighting isis on social media. it will be interesting to see how close it is to the same one president trump is cutting the ribbon on. bringing it up is important. the one thing i want to say, though, in the near term, that's long-term goals that are very important with saudi arabia. in the near term, we need to bring the coalition together to fight isis, to fight al qaeda, to fight our enemies there and also take care of syria. lot of people aren't realizing,
a lot of people do, syria is creating a next generation of either terrorist or the folks who can win this war within islam. it's the 7-year-old or 8-year-olds in are effigy camps if they don't get an education, don't learn how to read or write they'll be fertile recruiting ground for the next generation of isis or these are the young people that win the war within islam and i think that's really important to bring in that coalition now. >> we'll squeeze in a quick commercial and come back and continue this conversation. president trump is about to speak to the world in his first major trip abroad. we'll take you there live. stay with us. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. for the strength and energy to get back to doing... ...what you love. ensure. always be you. waxed and shined.els to be treated like a trophy. we have seen the glory come, go, and come again.
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mr. trump let me start with you. last night you told cnn "islam hates us." did you mean all 1.6 billion muslims? >> i mean a lot of them. i mean a lot of them. >> that was president trump as a candidate on the debate stage, march 2016. times have changed. now he is in the heart of the muslim world, saudi arabia, on his first foreign trip. we're back with our panel as we await his major speech to the leaders of muslim nations who gathered in saudi arabia. that's quite different from what we're hearing today. i can't imagine that in march 2016 if somebody had said after that debate by the way, the president is going to be president and his first speech will be in saudi arabia where he offers a note of reconciliation and partnership with the muslim world. >> i don't think anybody could have predicted it. one of things that's most shocking to me having watched this in both the bush
administration and the obama administration the united states needs to be smart about saudi arabia in terms how we couch their role vis-a-vis islam. the saudis want to you believe they are the custodians are islam and their kind of islam is the kind of islam everybody should be practicing around the world. and what we have done here is gone to the heart of this issue. we are validating that position by moving our speech, the first thing the president does is to go to the saudi capital. that a dangerous optic and the message to i auto roomful of muslim majority nation states, more than 50 that we, the americans, are supporting that idea. there are more muslims that live outside of the middle east than in it. while we have significant issue going on in the middle east that he is addressing on this trip he's making a larger point in this speech about fighting vie let extremist ideology, and for that, he needs to be engaging muslims all over the world, not just putting you the saudis out
on the pedestal as the end-all and be-all of islam. >> when i say family photo these are all the nations gathering in riyad for this conference. picture is coming in now from saudi arabia and jen, farah raises an important point. aud sees like to think because they are the custodians are mecca and medina they they are the official version of islam but it is one according to human rights groups and state groups suppresses minorities, gays, suppresses women, engages in torture regularly. do you worry that president trump is validating that version and what, how did president obama try to avoid that trap or did he fall into it, too? >> yes. i think fahah made important points. does trump realize that? you assume somebody in the government is conveying that to
him but people will be watching this speech closely. obviously we're all talking about it now and a lot of these issues about human rights and oppression are ones that the president of the united states historically has a unique platform to speak about. was obama perfect in addressing them? no. there were times we could have done things better, i'm certain, looking back. in his speech he gave in cairo he raised a lot of issues. good chunk of his speech was about human rights and women's rights because he felt it was so important to raise them and to send the message that we want to know we have more in common than apart but there's a lot you need to do to address extremism rising one your country and your ranks. that's how we addressed it. it was imperfect, but trump could really get himself into a challenging hole here by kind of succumbing to the flattery of the saudi government. >> i don't think he had any choice but to go to the middle east talk to the muslim world.
that's where the calderon is. that's where isis is based. that's where the syria problem is. if he'd gone to indonesia or another muslim country, i think it would have been tone deaf to the problems we create. i don't criticize them. i understand, and farah makes a good point. i don't think he had a choice. he also understands there's a strategic relationship being developed between the israelis and the calledies and the jordanians and egyptians. that is very promising and to align against iran and align against isis, you want to be a part of that. difference what saudi practices is deplorable and needs to be condemned and needs to be changed, if we're going to have any hope of bridging the gap with islam. but the but the short-term goal of this
trip was to align for the short-term gains the administration has in mind. >> there is something that is a bee in my bonnet about this trip so far, one of them specifically has to do with this mens-only concert. this is not a criticism of president trump. he did not organize this concert. there's a mens-only concert. toby keith and others performed. i mean are we supposed to as americans just sit back and look at this and say, sure, just half the population is not allowed because this extreme version of islam says that men and women cannot co-mingle and, therefore, women cannot attend this music concert. it is just very like 11th century. i'm having a tough time -- i think we take for granted, oh, that's how they do things there. that is just rampant discrimination against half the population. >> it is. but i think when you look at the huge challenges -- so i'm a mix between a lil rberalist and reat
on foreign policy. >> that's a tough thing to be. >> it is. the liberalist says any time we can confront human rights issues, we have to do it. the realist side of me says when you're dealing with saudi arabia and see a deputy crown prince who has a very aggressive agenda for social change, which is pretty serious. women can drive. we're aghast at the idea women can't drive there. but in saudi arabia that's a big deal that they're doing that or that they're moving to that. >> or letting them vote in anything other than very local elections. >> right. but on the broader -- so the more realist side of me says we have to confront the issues of islamic extremism. we have to confront the issue of syria. syria is a human tragedy that's not going to get better on its own. it's only going to get worse. it's being destabilized by russia and iran. if we can bring these folks together, as the senator said, with israel and jordan, these are the kind of alliances we never would have imagined to confront these challenges. let's do that while mentioning the fact that an all men's
concert is stupid and 2ku78. i don't think that's the biggest issue we need to be concerned with. >> with toby keith giving an all male concert is not even top 100 on that list, then we just move on. >> jake, our president is commander in chief and he's doing it for now and he's setting the stage for our relationship long term. we have to be looking at this, because the ideology of these extremist groups are not just in the middle east. they are percolating around the world. muslims are listening to everything this president says and the actions that we do. so he has to, he must make sure that he's not taking a risk and just appeasing his hosts by not saying things and embarrassing them. he must find a way to make sure that our values as americans are put forward so the world can see them. i also want to say on this issue of whether or not saudi arabia is the right place to do it, i do hear you, but they aren't the vatican. there is no vatican in islam. i think america has put saudi
arabia out there in an equal state in this way. mcmaster, as he was talking about this speech, said that this was going to be the three faiths that went forward. it checks the box for saudi arabia to be able to do that. the terminology, custodian of the holy sites is a term that is a very recent term that one of the kings referred to himself as and we are using it over and over again. what's the message it's sending to muslims around the world? we have to talk about the diversity of islam. that is the only way you're going to get muslims to fight the ideology of extremists. >> i 100% agree with you. this is where trump is listening that i wish he was not listening. he's listening on a lot of these cultural indicators that are really problematic. he needed to go to the middle east. frankly, i understand because of our relationship with the prior administration with egypt, that would be difficult, and the persecution that's going on there. jordan would have been a much nicer place to go.
i would have recommended that over saudi arabia. it's a different firm of islam that's being practiced there. you've got a king who's a rock star in my opinion who really is potentially the vanguard of a new islam in the middle east. so i would have preferred that, but here we are. >> and the president's position seems to be when it comes to this, one, saudi arabia will be our partner against isis and also against iran. and, two, they're buying a whole bunch of our stuff and that's great for america and that will be jobs, jobs, jobs. to quote him. but these ideas, these nuanced discussions we're having about ways to encourage more moderate islam, whether in indonesia or jordan, the importance of standing up for human rights, they do seem, and again we'll hear the speech in a few minutes, but they do seem to be falling by the wayside. >> that's right. and that's where we're all expressing different levels of concern. if you're the white house and
you're thinking about where to do a speech, you could argue, you go saudi arabia because that's where there's a heart of a problem and i want to address that and go into the belly of the beast. i don't know that this speech is going to meet that bar, or not from the excerpts that we've seen at this point in time. i think this is a struggle for many presidents. this president, i think, has a different challenge than past in that he is digging out of a big hole of concern that has been in the muslim world, not just in the middle east but around the world, about comments he's made, about the travel ban that, you know, we shouldn't lose the not irony, that's a terrible way of saying it, that at home his administration is fighting to reinstate the travel ban, even while he is trying to reset his relationship with the muslim world. and so speeches, they are opportunities to reset. they don't heal all wounds. i think what everybody will be closely watching in the muslim world is what actions he takes. does his administration keep pursuing the travel ban? does he change the rhetoric at
home? he changes the rhetoric in his speech in a little bit, what does he say when he's doing a rally in ohio in two weeks? that's i think what people will watch. so i don't know that we will know exactly how this plays for a bit of time past the speech today. >> congressman kinzinger, one thing we haven't said today that i think is probably the elephant in the room is oil. >> yeah. >> one of the reasons the united states, this started long before donald trump, one of the reasons the united states has such a close relationship with saudi arabia is because of all of the petroleum that we consume from that part of the world. >> yeah, it's fact. the united states is now becoming the world leader in energy production and the saudis aren't happy about that. that's a great thing. yeah, it's a reality. when you figure who your alliances are, in many cases it's going to be who is a benefit to us and who is a thorn in our side. if you look too, an important thing about this, under the prior administration, saudi arabia really felt abandoned and had actually started having talks with the russians about creating a stronger alliance
between saudi arabia and russia. russia now has the first role in the middle east in 20-some years because of syria. so us doing this, i get the concern, and i agree with the concern about what message it sends. but this is part of america saying we are back, we're in charge in the middle east in terms of when you talk about spheres of influence, and saudi arabia, we've got your back but there's some things we need from you too. >> let's talk about that if we can for a second. senator santorum, the idea that this is a big, big moment for president trump. it's true, there are a lot of individuals, a lot of leaders in the arab world who were critical of the obama administration and are welcoming this opportunity to reset or welcoming somebody who is focused on countering iran and the war against isis with a focus on those two issues. >> yeah. i just wish the president hadn't signed up for more of the iranian deal -- nuclear deal that was put in place. again, that's sort of a
juxtaposition to what he talked about in the campaign. i think one of the reasons that he did get such a great welcome in saudi arabia was because of this hard line stance against iran that the saudis very much care about. he seems to at least here in home be backing away. we'll see what he says here in this speech. hopefully he'll talk about iran, maybe toughen things up a little bit, i don't know, but it is -- it is a concern to me that we have a president who i think had it right when it came to iran, had it right when it came to the problems within islam, and because of listening to these advisers, he seems to be backing away from those things. so i'm glad he's there. i think it's a positive -- it's a positive thing, but the policy change that he's making are very concerning to me. >> if you could tell president trump, who we know is an avid consumer of cable news, and cnn being one of the only networks that can be broadcast in the middle east, if he's watching right now as he prepares for the
speech, what do you want him to say? >> i need him to follow up his words with deeds. there needs to be durability in terms of what he's saying. if he wants to fight extremism, put money in the state department budget so they can do that on the ideological side. in addition to that, the president absolutely must do more in the homeland to make sure he doesn't make a distinction between american muslims and the rest of america. and i think if he can do those two things, he's on his way to showing that he can be credible. there's a credibility problem, of course, but this durability piece is really key. you talked about him going to the center for extremism that he will talk about no doubt in his speech when he cuts the ribbon and speaks about saudi arabia taking a role there. what kind of actions on the ground will america expect to see from saudi arabia with regard to this. it's far beyond messaging. it has to do with a lot of things that move kids towards recruitment. >> what would you like to hear from him, jen? >> i think he needs to use this
as an opportunity to convey the united states is not anti-islam, the united states is not anti-muslim and here are specific steps, action that i'm going to take. what president obama did in 2009 was try to use his personal background and his personal views to convey the message that we're closer together than we are apart. i think a lot of people need to hear that message from president trump. >> fareed zakaria picks up right now and we'll be back here at noon eastern as the world reacts to president trump's speech. this is "gps" the global public square. welcome to all of you in the united states and around the world, i'm fareed zakaria. there's much to talk about this week with lots of news emanating from washington and around the world. later in the show i'll give you my take on trump, comey, mueller and the russia investigation. and i'll have a terrific panel to dig into those same issues. first i want to bring in my colleague, jim sciutto,