Louisiana Sen. Kennedy on CNN Shark Tank: Trump-Putin

Louisiana Sen. Kennedy on CNN Shark Tank: Trump-Putin


Kennedy (from past interview) We’re gonna
have to contain them and the old way to contain them you don’t have to be ugly about it but
you’ve got to be very very firm. Dealing with Putin is like hand-feeding a
shark, you can do it but you have to do it very very carefully. CNN: That is a Republican Senator John Kennedy’s
advice on how to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin. Senator Kennedy recently returned from a congressional
trip to Russia where he says he told high-level officials to stop screwing with our elections. CNN: Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana joins
me now. Senator thank you so much for being with us. You say talking to Putin’s like feeding a
shark you can do it but you have to do it very carefully–did President Trump feed the
shark very carefully. SEN. KENNEDY: Here here’s, let me answer your question
this way. And I will answer it John. Here’s what I wish the President had said. I wish he’d come out after the meeting and
said President Putin and I had a very frank conversation. I told him to stop acting like a thug. I told him if he wanted a better relationship
with my country, he should stop, to stop trying to mug democracy. He should stop treating the truth like his
mother’s good China. He should get out of Ukraine, let it self-determine. Get out of Crimea let himself determine. Help us settle the mess in in Syria and stop
poisoning people and other countries. Now that’s not what the president said. He started out like a man on fire. He fussed at NATO as he should have for letting
the American taxpayer pay most of the freight. He fussed in Germany for signing a gas deal
with Russia, but at his press conference, and I watched it first live, and then I watched
it on tape, he was very uncertain, very tentative. He was clearly off his game. And I will tell you, I left this after listening
to both of them, I told my my better half Becky, I said “Becky I’m not sure what the
president said”. Now he’s he’s he’s cleared it up and regardless
of what anybody says, I stand by what I said about mr. Putin. Dealing with him is like hand-feeding the
shark, even has eyes like a shark. No disrespect. Forget what he says. Watch what he does. If he medals in our election this fall and
I told his colleagues this when I was in Russia as did the other senators, if he messes with
our election this fall, I believe Congress will double down on sanctions. Maybe triple down CNN: Okay senator, little let’s review a few
of the things you said here. You said you thought the president was very
ineffective, uncertain you said, off his game. SEN. KENNEDY: Yes CNN: Do you feel that he looked weak standing
next to President Putin? SEN. KENNEDY: He looked off his game. I’ve never had an at length discussion one
on one with Mr. Trump about how he feels about Russia, so I honestly don’t know, you have
to judge CNN: But I think, I think, we have every reason
to think we do know how he feels about Russia, he’s asked about it frequently, he talks about
it, frequently and we have every reason to believe what he has said in the past about
Russian election meddling which was actually consistent to what he said, when he said next
to Vladimir Putin–which is, he’s not sure if russia did it or not. The russians have always told him no. He thinks that Vladimir Putin believes that
it didn’t happen–and you think the president clarified that statement? SEN. KENNEDY: Well John first those are your words
not mine. Ok, let me tell you what I was going to say. CNN: Ok
SEN. KENNEDY: What I was going to say is i’ve never
had a one-on-one conversation with the president about Russia, but here’s what I think he thinks
about Russia–I think, he thinks that Russia did meddle in our election. I think he thinks and I agree with him, that
Russia’s meddling did not determine the outcome of the election. I don’t know how anybody who is fair-minded
can point to a specific activity and say “yep that’s what tipped the election”. Americans have a multitude of reasons for
voting as they do. I think he understands the threat from Putin. I do think he wants a better relationship
with Russia. I think the world would be safer if we had
a better relationship Russia. What I hope he understands is that, i’ll say
it again–trying to reason with Mr. Putin is like trying to hand feed a shark. Logic doesn’t work. We have to hit him in the face. He did and say if you do it again I’m gonna
hit you in the face twice as hard, that he understands CNN: You can’t sit here though and tell me
that you thought that President Trump hit the shark in the face? SEN. KENNEDY: No I just said he looked tentative,
he looked off his game, I wasn’t certain what he said and I was very thankful yesterday
that he he came back, I didn’t know if he’d do it or not, and said hey let me clarify
what I meant CNN: And you buy the clarification, you buy
the clarification that would vs. Wouldn’t? You buy the clarifications that it could be
other people also, that’s enough for you? SEN. KENNEDY: No, I buy his clarification about
what he said at his press conference when people said– “well, he’s given into Russia”
I don’t think he’s given into Russia but what I think doesn’t matter, and no disrespect
what you think doesn’t matter, what anybody thinks based on words doesn’t matter. People talk a lot in government CNN: What actions, what actions? SEN. KENNEDY: Let’s watch what they do CNN: What actions have you seen or what words
have you heard from President Trump that make you believe he is standing up to Russia on
this, on the history of their attack on the US election in 2016 on the fears from our
intelligence community they might do it again? SEN. KENNEDY: Well here’s what I say: I see number
one he told our NATO allies–start carrying the load a little bit, the American taxpayer
getting tired of it, and of course, one of the purposes of NATO is to contain Russia SEN. KENNEDY: On number two, he was very critical
of Germany for establishing the Nord Stream – gas pipeline with Russia. I mean here we are on one hand with a left
hand we’re trying to contain them and on the right hand we’re giving them money to buy
weapons to try to kill us and he fussed to Germany for that. Number three, the president said last night
and I believe him and I think that Congress will hold him to his words–if they mess in
our election they trying to meddle in our election–we’re gonna knock the hell out of
them, twice as hard. And I think we should. Now if mr. Putin wants the better relationship with the
United States, I would welcome it. But he’s got to stop acting like a thug and
the only way we’re going to judge, whether he really wants a better relationship, is
if he starts acting like it and changes his behavior. The guy does. I mean I remember what President Bush said
about looking in mr. Putin’s eyes I haven’t been as close as President
Bush but i’ve seen his eyes on television, CNN: Yep SEN. KENNEDY: He’s got shark eyes. I mean the man, I’m not saying– look he’s
either immoral or (unintelligible)–he understands power. CNN: He understands power and the question
is– is President Trump projecting power, when he stands next to him and equivocates
over the Russian attack on the US election? Is the president projecting power, when he
tells Tucker Carlson last night– you talked about what the president said last night,
when he tells Tucker Carlson– yeah, he often wonders whether or not it’s worth it–sending
US troops to help defend Montenegro if their attack. Montenegro is part of NATO. That is foundational to NATO–does that project
power SEN. KENNEDY:: Well here’s what I think, and I
don’t speak— CNN: But, I’m gonna ask you, but I’m just
trying to figure out– do you think that the president projected power to Donald Trump
on the key issue–that President Trump projected power to Vladimir Putin on the key issue of
election meddling? SEN. KENNEDY: Here’s what I think, I think you
have to judge world leaders including but not limited to politicians, not by their words
but by their actions. And we will be able to judge President Trump
and President Putin by their actions. I believe that President Trump met with–let
me finish, John– I believe that President Trump meant what he said. For example if Russia mettles in our elections,
and we’ll know our national intelligence agencies will tell them, will tell us–we’re going
to hit him so hard that he coughs up bones. Now I think the president will do that if
he doesn’t i’ll come back on your show and say the president should have done that. And if he doesn’t, i’ll come back on your
show and say, the President should have done that, and I don’t agree with him for not doing
it– but I think he’ll ‘ll do it and if he doesn’t do it, I can tell you CNN: He hasn’t done it yet, Senator and let
me say this–it will be too late for the people of Montenegro to wait and see, if President
Trump sends US troops to help them, if they are perhaps invaded. It’s too late then. The message needs to be sent now. Correct? SEN. KENNEDY: Look, I didn’t hear, I’m not trying
to dodge the question, John, I honestly didn’t hear the comments about Montenegro, so I’m
kind of flying blind here–Part of president Trump’s approach to management and it’s it’s
his choice, he’s the president of United States–he often thinks out loud, he clearly often grows
anxious, CNN: But Senator SEN. KENNEDY: Let me finish John CNN: And I know Senator but you keep saying,
you keep talking about two different things– you keep talking about the need to project
power, and then you won’t tell me if you think the president is actually achieving that. And you serve in a key role in the US Senate,
a key oversight role SEN. KENNEDY: Let me say it again–you judge world
leaders by their actions, not by their words. I’ve heard President Putin give an extraordinary
speech before about how Russia embraces Western values and democracy. The last time Russia embraced Western values– CNN: I won’t interrupt you again–the last
time i interrupt you, I promise the last time, i’ll interrupt you SEN. KENNEDY: Ok. I’m going to hold you to that CNN: I promise. What actions, actions, have you seen from
President Trump that make you believe, that he will stand up to Russia on their attacks
of the 2016 presidential election? SEN. KENNEDY: He has, well let me answered in terms
of, well let me answer it straight up– in terms of the election–the president put sanctions
at the urging of Congress on Russia for meddling in our elections. The president has said that if Russia does
it again we will double down on sanctions, and I and I,and I think the United States
Congress respectfully will hold him to that. Number two part of the reason for NATO is
to contain Russia. You can’t do that without money. The American taxpayers been putting up seventy
percent of the money. The president said, if you want to contain
Russia by God, to our allies, put up your share of the money, now that’s not pro Russia. Number three, he was criticized for doing
it but in very candid terms, he fussed at Ms Merkel, for on the one hand, saying we
got to fight russia over here with through NATO and in the right hand, saying “by the
way I’m just going to sign here a multi-billion dollar gas contract with Russia and give them
money to buy weapons to try to kill us. And he called her out. I don’t remember anybody on either side of
the aisle up here in Congress calling her out over that CNN: Senator John Kennedy Republican of Louisiana
thank you so much for the discussion this morning–on behalf of shark week we do appreciate
your thoughts (laughter) time thanks John

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