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Trump to Meeting Putin on G-20 Sidelines; Trump's "Vicious" Tweets at TV Hosts Earn Bipartisan Outrage; Sebelius: GOP Health Bill "Very Cruel War on Poor"; States Refuse to Give Voter Rolls to Election Panel; Trump/Putin Meeting Could Create Legal Challenges. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 1, 2017 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles.

So, Ryan, what can be expected from the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin while all of this continues to transpire about health care and beyond?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fredricka, we're not really expecting all that much between this meeting of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the G-20. This is going to be what they call a pull-aside meeting. They're expected to just huddle together on the sidelines of a number of meetings that are going to take place over a couple of days there in Germany.

You know, there was some thought at up with point that the president and President Trump might actually have a formal bilateral meeting that would have a very specific agenda and even have a certain number of goals for both sides to reach. But that's not going to happen. And of course, that doesn't mean some big issues couldn't come up, like the issue of sanctions against Russia, perhaps rolling back some of the sanctions that were put in place in the latter days of the Obama administration, including perhaps opening up that compound that was shuttered by President Obama in Maryland.

But it's also important to point out, Fredricka, that the Senate has passed a new tougher sanctions bill against Russia, that passed by a bipartisan margin in the Senate. And the House has still yet to take it up. So that sanctions bill will not be in place before the president has this very important meeting with Vladimir Putin later this week.

WHITFIELD: And what kind of reaction are you receiving there in Washington about the president's continued, you know, tweeting, tweeting again this morning about the tv hosts?

NOBLES: You know, something, Fredricka, if there was one message that politicians from all stripes, Republicans and Democrats, would say if they had the president in a room, it would be, stop, stop talking about issues like this. But yet, the president is not getting that message. In fact, he tweeted again about this controversy with he and the hosts of the MSNBC show "Morning Joe." This what he said this morning, quote, "Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb-as-a-rock Mika are not bad people but their low-rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad."

So despite the pleas from many for the president to focus on things like health care or the relationship with Russia and all these other issues dominating Washington right now, he continues to not let this issue drop, even though he's been criticized about it pretty heavily.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles at the White House, thank you so much.

Let's discuss this with my panel. Tim Naftali a CNN presidential historian and the former direction of the Nixon Presidential Library. Steve Moore is a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI. And Brian Stelter is CNN's senior media correspondent and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Good to see all of you.

OK. So President Trump, you know, heading abroad while his administration is reeling from this tumultuous week in Washington.

I want you all to listen to how much of this is being interpreted through the views of the Iraqi prime minister (sic).


AYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI VICE PERSIDENT: There's a vacuum in the overall leadership in the world. And the America -- the Americans need to speed up to get back to their international power, former international power.


WHITFIELD: So, Tim, are world leaders second guessing whether this president can be embraced as a global leader with all that seems to be transpiring, tweets, investigations, and all?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We don't have to engage in a guessing game to answer that question, Fredricka. We just have to listen to what, not just the vice president of Iraq is saying but what Angela Merkel of Germany has said, what Macron is saying in France. There is a sense around the world that our president is distracted. And, you know, every day, we are reminded of presidential inattention with these tweets. The president should be preparing for the G-20 summit. He shouldn't care about what's happening on cable news networks, wherever they are. So there's no doubt in my mind that American leadership is challenged by the president's inattention. America First should also still imply that America is a world leader. And the president hasn't yet proven that to be the case.

WHITFIELD: Steve, whether it be, you know, the tweets or the ongoing investigation involving, you know, Russia, the president's going to be meeting face-to-face with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. How do all of these things potentially influence what kind of interaction those two are going to have?

STEVE MOORE, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, it gives Putin a little bit of a leg up because he knows that President Trump is distracted in his own backyard. He knows that he's losing the confidence in the American people. And it is just dealing Putin a much stronger hand than he would have had otherwise.

WHITFIELD: And so, Brian, Republicans, so many Americans are telling the president, just stop, just stop the tweeting. Yet, he continues to do so. Almost now, this morning's tweet seems like it's more in defiance of what is being recommended, you know, across the board. He's saying you know what, I'm going to keep doing this.

[13:05:12] BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": It's a great point about defiance. That's exactly what it is, Fred.

I disagree a little with Tim. I think the president should care what's on cable news. But that doesn't mean he should react. And if he thinks they have low standards, thinks Joe and Mika are nasty and mean to him and unfair, he doesn't need to lower himself to that standard. He's a lot more powerful. He's the president. This is obviously a case of punching down.

But what has the president heard on cable news for the past 52 hours? He's heard, "This is un-presidential behavior. Don't go calling Joe Scarborough crazy. Don't call Mika Brzezinski dumb as a rock. Don't call them names or talk about her physical appearance. Try to move on and don't talk about this." What did he do on Friday and again today? Tweeted more. You're right. It is defiance. Him showing he is not listening to the preferences of most of the American people. Polls showed that a lot of his supporters and detractors, all agree he shouldn't be tweeting so often.

By the way, the tone of his tweets today, very conspiratorial. All his tweets this morning he shared from Bedminster, where he is this weekend, all were conspiratorial. Why are they halting the voter rolls? Why is Joe and Mika being told by their bosses what to say? All of it has this tone that's very menacing. It was kind of uniting all of his tweets.

WHITFIELD: Here's kind of a microcosm of the criticism coming from within the Republican Party about why many leaders feel like the president should just stop this behavior. Listen.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R), ILLINOIS: That's a tweet that's not even becoming of a city councilman.

REP. LEE ZELDIN, (R), NEW YORK: I'm not going to defend his tweet. It was ugly. And I personally do hold the president of the United States to a higher standard.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This is maddening. It's maddeningly frustrating. Because this is beneath the dignity of the president of the United States, or at least it should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Tim, when you hear it's maddening, frustrating, from these members of Congress, the very ones who are to help push through the agenda of the president of the United States, aren't they also telling the president, we're starting to wonder whether we should be pushing your agenda. Because you're not even controlling your own behavior, nor are you taking the advice of those who want to advocate for him?

NAFTALI: Sure. What we're all watching is the extent to which the president is creating a toxic environment for Republicans. And, you know, I'm not in the prediction business. It's very hard to predict. But we'll see the extent to which there will be an erosion of Republican support for him as it becomes clear that he's not supporting their agenda. Let's not forget that after really taking arms and twisting arms to get the House to pass health care, he then calls that bill "mean." So there is a sense I'm sure among Republicans that this president is not to be trusted. And the tweeting just makes clear that he's not focused on their agenda.

WHITFIELD: So, then, Steve, the person also saying maybe in a roundabout way that it doesn't really matter whose support he has, you know, inside Washington, as long as those who voted him into office are happy with his behavior and his choices?

MOORE: No. I think what it says is that he really doesn't care what anybody thinks. It seems to me that our problem here is that we've got a president who forgets he's president half the time. He is more involved with his personal life than he is with his professional life. If you ever see me tweet something, it's because it's come to the top of my consciousness. It's what I'm thinking about. And it bothers me that one, he has so much time to watch TV. And number two, that these are the things that are on his mind at the end or the beginning of a presidential day. Look at his -- his foreign policy seems to be cohesive. He's got Mattis on it. He's got some great plans. And he's just driving things into the dirt this way.

WHITFIELD: So, Brian, is it that President Trump has forgotten that he's president or is it that President Trump says this is my style of the presidency?

STELTER: It has been said before, it will be said again, he's a 71- year-old man. How many 71-year-old men do you know that suddenly change their ways and habits and norms when they reach that age? There's this challenge between not being surprised by the behavior but remaining -- continuing to recognize how unusual it is for a president to be tweeting or acting or commenting this way. All these tweets are official statements. They will, of course, written in history. They will be in the textbooks. And that's why we have to kind of keep reminding ourselves it's unusual, even though it's not surprising to be seen from this particular individual.

[13:09:55] WHITFIELD: Brian Stelter, Steve Moore, Tim Naftali, good to see all of you. Thanks so much.


WHITFIELD: Coming up, what's right and wrong with Obamacare and the GOP's health care bill? We'll hear from former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who calls the GOP effort, quote, "a very cruel war on the poor."


WHITFIELD: Republican lawmakers in the Senate vow to continue their fight to repeal and replace Obamacare over the week-long July 4th recess. But as majority leader, Mitch McConnell, works to craft a bill that will gain support within his ranks, President Trump is urging the GOP to act now. Trump tweeting Friday, "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later time," end quote.

Earlier, I spoke to Kathleen Sebelius. And she was the Health and Human Services secretary for the Obama administration as the Affordable Care Act was being crafted. And I asked her what would happen to the people who are on Obamacare if, indeed, it is repealed now and replaced later?


[13:15:06] KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, millions of people, 20 million, approximately, individuals would lose the health care they now have for themselves and their families and rely on to make sure they can get preventative care, have birth control when they need it, get their kids to the doctor. I guess that what he's saying is it really doesn't matter if 20 million people would be totally without coverage once again. Which is where we were, Fredricka, at the beginning of the debate on the Affordable Care Act.

WHITFIELD: If the goal of the Obamacare was to have affordable, accessible care, when you hear the sitting president say, repeal now, replace later, what is your belief that his goal is at this juncture? Is it an issue of health care? Is it an issue of branding, you know, health care? What is the goal in your view?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think that's a great question. I have no idea what the goal of the president is. I know what Candidate Trump said over and over again. He said we want health insurance that works for everybody. We want lower prices, which is what the American public wants, both in their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. He said he would not touch Medicaid, the program that's been in place for 52 years that provides a health safety net under the most vulnerable populations in every state in the country, disabled adults and children, seniors in nursing homes, low-income pregnant moms and kids. He promised not to touch that program. The House bill decimates Medicaid. Would cause 23 million people to lose coverage. Rises prices according to every economist. Anybody who's in the market now would pay more, not less. They'd pay more out of pocket. They'd pay more deductibles. So then the president called that bill "mean" and turned to the Senate.

The Senate bill in some ways is worse, at least the draft that they got close to putting on the floor. Twenty-two million people lose coverage. It makes much deeper cuts in this very important Medicaid program. Not the expansion population, those go away all together, the extra help to states to ensure the lowest income working adults. But the cuts made in every state in the country to the underlying Medicaid program would blow up state budgets across America. That's why you have Republican governors like Brent Sandoval, in Nevada, and Asa Hutchinson, in Arkansas, and John Kasich, in Ohio, saying, whoa, whoa, we don't think this is a good idea. We think this needs to stop. We need to regroup.

So I have no idea what the president means. If you repeal the law, which the House, I would remind you, voted to do 52 or 53 times during the Obama administration --


SEBELIUS: -- without any replacement discussion, if you repeal the law, 20 million people lose coverage. Providers don't get paid. More hospitals will go out of business with uncompensated care. And we will continue to have people who live sicker and die younger than any of our competitive countries around the world who are investing in their populations' health and wellness so they can be productive workers.

WHITFIELD: So Trump's HHS Secretary Tom Price says also at the core is, you know, the bottom line, the price. And he had this to say about the proposed Republican bill.


TOM PRICE, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The plan in its entirety will absolutely bring premiums down, because you increase competition, increase choices for individuals, you allow folks to be able to purchase the kind of coverage they want, not that the government forces them to buy.


WHITFIELD: Is it that simple? Does this open up the marketplace? It means more competition, which means lower rates.

SEBELIUS: More competition is definitely good. And the White House has intentionally sabotaged the current marketplace. They have done absolutely nothing to tell insurance companies --

WHITFIELD: What do you mean by that?

SEBELIUS: -- what the rules are.

WHITFIELD: What do you mean by that?

SEBELIUS: Well, starting at the election and accelerating into the presidency, they refuse to tell insurance companies if they'll be paid back for $7 billion worth of subsidies that helped lower out-of-pocket costs to the lowest-income Americans buying health insurance. So insurance companies don't know about those rules. They told the IRS, do not enforce the individual mandate, which helps encourage younger and healthier people to come into the market. (CROSSTALK)

13:20:05] WHITFIELD: So in a sense, that kind of uncertainty has scared off insurance --


SEBELIUS: Oh, there's no question. Not in a sense. Every CEO of an insurance company who has left a market or come into a market has said the uncertainty about what the rules are for 2018, the lack of charity about what is the game going forward causes us to decide that we're not going to file rates because we have no idea what it is that we need to charge.

So I would say competition is great. The White House has done everything to sabotage competition across the country. And so has Secretary Price. And there's a lot that the bully pulpit of the White House and HHS can do to get -- companies in Washington state just had some bare counties. The insurance commissioner and governor in that state reached out to several insurers and said, we'd like you to come into the market. We want to see this be a choice for every citizen in Washington State. And, indeed, companies filed rates in the bare counties. That can be done. We did it every year.

So this is a systematic sabotage of the existing law. They don't have a law to replace the existing law. And millions of people -- and Fredricka, I hear from them all the time -- say what's going to happen to me and my family? How do I pay for my chemotherapy treatment? What happens to my child if I lose coverage in this market? And I, frankly, don't know what to tell them. I don't know what the end game is for Republicans. And they seem to be looking at this as a game. This is life and death for way too many people.

WHITFIELD: So your overall argument has been it's not that Obamacare has been a failure but, instead, you know, as a framework, but instead it has been undermined and that has weakened a health care plan that you've long believed in.

SEBELIUS: Well, there are some things that would be helpful to fix. Having the ability to have a balanced risk pool and health insurance companies who have too many older and sicker people signing up. That was in the original law, not funded by the Republicans. It's in both the House and Senate bills. It's a great idea. Do that.


SEBELIUS: I think we need to take a look at who gets subsidies. And more people have said they really need some help. That's a good idea. Lower the level of out-of-pocket costs. Do something about drug prices, which every American is complaining about, and is not in the House or Senate bill.

So there's some definite things that would draw bipartisan support, could be done to really stabilize and make the market more competitive and give people more choices.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there.

Thank you so much. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, thanks for your time.


WHITFIELD: Coming up, several secretaries of state are alarmed by a request from a Trump panel for personal voter information. Why some states are flat-out saying they will not comply with the request.


[13:27:34] WHITFIELD: Several states and voter-rights advocates are raising red flags about a letter from the White House. The Trump administration is requesting detailed voter information from all 50 states, and many are saying they will not comply. Mississippi's Republican secretary of state says, quote, "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico. And Mississippi is a great state to launch from," end quote.

Trump responding to this growing resistance this morning saying, quote, "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished voter fraud panel. What are they trying to hide," end quote.

Here now is CNN's Tom Foreman.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So many cities are corrupt. And voter fraud is very, very common.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a quest to root out allegedly rampant voter fraud, the president's commission wants an ocean of sensitive information about every voter, including the person's full name, address, date of birth, political affiliation, voting, military, and criminal records, part of his or her Social Security number, and more.

States, particularly, some Democratic blue ones, are pushing back hard.

California is flat-out refusing to hand over the info.

ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: The president's allegations of massive voter fraud are simply not true.

FOREMAN: So is New York: "We will not comply."

Virginia, too: "There is no evidence of significant voter fraud."


FOREMAN: But some states that went Republican red for Trump are also balking, including Utah, Alabama, Iowa, and Wisconsin. They'll hand over only some data. And still others are dismissing the whole idea of voter fraud run


MATTHEW DUNLAP, MAINE SECRETARY OF STATE: We might find some illegal activity but not on the scale described.

TRUMP: People that have died ten years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.


FOREMAN: As a candidate, Donald Trump insisted fraud was a real problem.


FOREMAN: And even after he won the Electoral College, he lashed out at news more people voted for Hillary Clinton tweeting, "I won the popular vote, if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

TRUMP: So many things are going on.

FOREMAN: To help steer his commission, he chose Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who calls the state's complaint complete nonsense.

KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE & DIRECTOR, COMMISSION ON ELECTON INTEGRITY: We're looking at all forms of election irregularities, voter fraud, intimidation, registration fraud, voter intimidation, suppression.

[13:30:00:] Kobach has zealously hunted vote cheaters back home for months, yet he's found less than a dozen provable cases out of more than a million and a half registered voters.

What's more, he's a champion for voter I.D. laws, which many skeptics consider a way to suppress minority votes.

And he was fined by a federal judge in Kansas just last week for his conduct in a lawsuit involving voting rights.

Connecticut state: "Given the secretary's history, we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission."

(on camera): Underlying it all is this simple fact there is simply no credible evidence that there's ever been a widespread voter fraud problem. That's adding, clearly, to the hesitancy of many of these states.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in now our panel. Tim Naftali is CNN presidential historian and a former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. And Eugene Scott is a CNN politics reporter.

Good to have you both back.

President Trump questioned what states are trying to hide if they won't provide voter information. He said that in his tweet this morning.

Tim, why is the president pursuing this so aggressively in your view?

NAFTALI: Well, I mean, I don't know his motive. I can't get inside of his brain. But there's a consistent pattern here. And it started in the campaign. He was sowing doubt about our electoral process. He did it for his own political purposes during the campaign. After he didn't win the popular vote, after --


WHITFIELD: He was using language like, "it's rigged" and all that.

NAFTALI: It's rigged -- perhaps because he assumed he'd lose. Then after he was elected, he was so angry about the Russian investigation, he decided to bring this back up again to distract. I mean, the sense one has is that this is a distraction from the investigation of the role of the Russian cyberattack on our country and the campaign. So far, when you see Republican secretaries of state as well as Democratic secretaries of state raising questions about the legitimacy of this probe, you have to see this as something linked to the president's own conspiratorial assumptions about the 2016 election.

WHITFIELD: All right.

So, Eugene, some reaction from the secretary of state in Kentucky on this request. Listen.


ALISON GRIMES, KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: And not on my watch are we going to release sensitive voter information data that, at best, is a waste of taxpayer money and, at worst, is a national effort to suppress votes across the United States?


WHITFIELD: So, Eugene, is there a feeling the president will dig in his heels or continue to advocate for this even though these secretaries of state say, no way, they're not going to comply?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Absolutely. He's expected to dig in his heels. There's been pushback to President Trump's claims about voter fraud since the election. And even when he got into the White House, from people including Mitch McConnell, who have said they'd rather the states focus on these very few cases than it be something that the federal government takes up.

Part of the pushback will also come because a lot of secretaries of state do not have a lot of respect for Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas. Because he has risen some questions among those interested in protecting voter rights for his focus on maybe making voting way more difficult for marginalized groups and groups that have not had the full protection of the Voting Rights Act since it was passed.

WHITFIELD: So is there a feeling that the president might leverage that kind of doubt. And then, you know, say full steam ahead and maybe even push for some sort of legal fight as it pertains to this, Eugene?

SCOTT: I think the likelihood of that happening is as likely as Donald Trump admitting that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. If he admits that perhaps there is just no voter fraud in significant numbers, he'd have to admit that as well. And he has not shown any trace or any desire since entering the White House of admitting either of those.

WHITFIELD: Tim, what's the potential end game here in your view? Where is this going?

NAFTALI: It's a lot of noise. I don't know where it's going. But one of the things that the president --


WHITFIELD: Is that the objective, to create noise?

NAFTALI: Let me tell you one of the unintended consequences of what he's doing, what the president is doing, his commission is doing, is the Libertarians, who understandably worry about the government acquiring too much private information on us, are going to find themselves allied with blue-state secretaries of state. Together, they're going to oppose this. And the president is going to create an unusual alliance, a political alliance, against this particular conspiracy theory.

WHITFIELD: Tim Naftali, Eugene Scott, good to see both of you, gentlemen. Thanks so much. See you again soon.

SCOTT: See you soon

NATFALI: Thank you.

[13:34:56] WHITFIELD: President Trump set to meet with Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, next week in Germany. But could the timing be problematic, considering the ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling of the U.S. election? And could the meeting actually create legal challenges for this administration, potentially? We'll discuss that next.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The White House and the Kremlin have confirmed that both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet this coming week on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany. This comes as former Trump campaign aide, Michael Caputo, prepares to

testify later on this month before the House Intelligence Committee over Russia's meddling in the U.S. election. Caputo is a longtime ally of Trump advisor, Roger Stone, who has also volunteered to answer questions before the House panel. Lawmakers want to know more about Stone's community case with WikiLeaks.

The panel also plans to interview Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under former President Barack Obama. Rice has come under scrutiny from Republicans on the panel who accuse her of improperly unmasking the names of Trump associates in classified intelligence reports. She denies the accusations.

All of this has the potential to not only become a P.R. nightmare but a legal issue for the Trump administration.

Let's talk more with Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney.

Good to see you both.



WHITFIELD: This meeting between Putin and Trump, that's what could potentially really make matters even more complicated as these ongoing investigations continue.

So, Richard, you know, everybody in the administration including the president is lawyering up because of this, the collusion investigation, the overall investigation. So the meeting between Trump and Putin, how might this pose a potential legal challenge as opposed to what they say, what their demeanor is like, all of that?

HERMAN: Have you seen his new book out, "The Art of Embarrassing the American People?" Because is the -- the level of embarrassment by this individual is off the charts. And now he's going into a meeting at a summit. And the last summit he attended, the only thing you could take away from that, is him basically knocking over one of the other world leaders to get to the front of the line, and not even apologizing. Here he walks into --


HERMAN: -- at the G-20. General McMasters last Thursday said, you know, there's no agenda. He's just going. That's how this presidency is. He shoots from the hip. He doesn't prepare. He doesn't take advice. He doesn't do his homework. He watches five hours of TV a day and then tweets like a little child.

He's walking in to meet Putin, KGB-trained master politician, who will seek to get some benefit from Trump, some easing of the sanctions, maybe start with returning the two properties in Maryland and New York, something. Putin will walk away with something. Trump will walk away with nothing.


WHITFIELD: Putin is trained to evaluate and look at the demeanor of someone, evaluate, you know, their body language and is known to kind of throw out things verbally in which to kind of ensnare someone.

So, then, Avery, given that and what kind of preparation do you suppose White House counsel or any White House advisers may have given Donald Trump about what to watch in terms of what he says, how he says it, you know, so that nothing that transpires can in any way undermine the U.S. presidency with these ongoing investigations back home?

FRIEDMAN: Well, let's say that the president is actually giving serious thought to his lawyers and their instruction to him. The problem is you have a constitutional collision because of the investigation on collusion. What I mean by that is that the president should be completely unencumbered under Article II, which gives him raw power in foreign affairs. The problem is he doesn't appear to be taking direction from his lawyers who are basically saying, listen, don't talk. Don't tweet. And the problem is that I think everyone is scared to death, including White House counsel, about what the president is going to say.

You're right that Putin knows how to push the buttons. And if he can push the right buttons, this president is going to say something. So at the end of the day, while he should be unfettered and really have a meaningful discussion, the fact is, with everybody all lawyered up and in this investigation going on, the best advice that Donald Trump can get is don't say anything, just listen.

WHITFIELD: So then under Article II, there should be that unfettered access.

But then, Richard, given these ongoing investigations, is it unwise for the president of the United States to be in close quarters with Vladimir Putin?

HERMAN: Many U.S. politicians have begged, you know, stay away, don't get them together. Russia is toxic right now. And you know, he's not going to listen to anybody. He never does listen to anybody.

And the elephant in the room here, Fred, is that 17 intelligence agencies said Russia attacked our election process in hopes of favoring Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has done nothing, nothing, to prevent this from happening again. He has not stood up for it. He has not called Putin on it. He has done nothing. And really, Fred, why should he? Because if it's true, then it goes and undermines the validity of his election win. And he's not a true man, he's a child.


[13:45:08] WHITFIELD: So then, Avery, what's the potential benefit of this meeting taking place? We know former President Obama said to Vladimir Putin, knock it off. Might this be an opportunity for the president of the United States, current president, to say something to Vladimir Putin about the meddling that may or may not have happened involving the 2016 election? Or, because there are ongoing investigations, he should not even tread there?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, he's going to say something. The problem is the White House counsel and the lawyers and all these people associated with the administration are just hoping that the conversation will be limited.

Look, he'll be dealing with Angela Merkel. He's going to be dealing with Macron. He's going to be dealing with all the other members of the G-20. Yes, there will be contact, but beyond anything superficial, Fredricka, I think it's very unlikely, if he listens to the lawyers, that he's going to say a whole heck of a lot.

WHITFIELD: Unlikely to be another moment of, you know, pushing someone aside like he did with the leader of Montenegro that you made reference to, Richard.

HERMAN: Right.

WHITFIELD: We shall see. Highly anticipated week there in Hamburg, Germany.

HERMAN: For sure.

WHITFIELD: Richard, Avery, thanks so much. Always appreciate your brilliance on all topics.

FRIEDMAN: Take care.

HERMAN: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, we are expecting more details about an overnight shooting at a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas. At least 25 people shot.

Stay with us.


[13:50:56] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're expecting new details soon on an overnight shooting at a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas. We're told someone started shooting during a dispute. Take a look.





WHITFIELD: Twenty-five people were shot and three others were injured as they tried escape. Police say the shooting was not terror related. This shooting is just the latest in a recent string of crime in the city leaving officials very worried there. And just over four years ago, 19 Arizona firefighters lost their lives

in one of the deadliest fires in U.S. history. Now their community and their state have come up with a way to honor the heroes who went "Beyond the Call of Duty" and paid the ultimate price.

Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the last images of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, preparing to fight the fire that will kill them.


SAVIDGE: A wind shift later sends flames racing toward the team, trapping them in a box canyon.


SAVIDGE: All 19 men died.

In the aftermath, friends, family and officials worked to preserve the now-hallowed ground and the memories of those lost.


SAVIDGE: The result is a memorial like no other that will test your heart as well as break it.


SAVIDGE: A rugged seven-mile trail climbing more than 1,000 feet up the side of a mountain.



WHITFIELD: We apologize for that audio mishap. It is not your television set. We're going to try and get the right sourcing on that and try and sort out the problem and get that story to you. Because it is a very impactful, powerful story that you've got to see.

We've got so much more straight ahead in CNN NEWSROOM right after this.


[13:57:11] WHITFIELD: All right, again, exactly four years ago, 19 Arizona firefighters died in one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history.

CNN's Martin Savidge spoke to the firefighters' loved ones at a site dedicated to them.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the last images of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, preparing to fight the fire that will kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOT: Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front.

SAVIDGE: A wind shift later sends flames racing toward the team, trapping them in a box canyon.

UNIDENTIFIED GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOT: Our escape route has been cut off.

SAVIDGE: All 19 men died.

In the aftermath, friends, family and officials worked to preserve the now-hallowed ground and the memories of those lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to get it right. You had to get it right.

SAVIDGE: The result is a memorial like no other that will test your heart as well as break it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a good example of the whole way.

SAVIDGE: A rugged seven-mile trail climbing more than 1,000 feet up the side of a mountain.

(on camera): Is it hard to come here?

DEBORAH KINGSTON, MOTHER OF ANDREW ASHCRAFT: Yes and no. No, because I know Andrew is in heaven.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft was one of the Hotshots killed. His mom remembers him returning from other fires covered in soot, a smile on his face, smelling of smoke as he hugged her.

KINGSTON: After we lost him, I would say to my husband, can you just a fire in the fire pit. I just need to smell Andrew for a minute.

SAVIDGE: On the trail, there are carefully placed plaques every 600 feet.

(on camera): Which means every so often, you meet a new member of the crew.

This is Andrew, Deborah's son.

The last part of the trail is the hardest of all, a 600-foot descent following the same path that the Granite Mountain crew did that day. It's tough physically. But it's very tough emotionally.

(voice-over): Because you end up here, the place where the men made their last stand. Iron crosses marking where each firefighter was found, tightly clustered. The men were as close to each other in death as they were in life.

Among them, Karen and Jim Norris' 28-year-old son.

KAREN NORRIS, MOTHER OF SCOTT NORRIS: Scott was fun-loving and adventurous and he really enjoyed making people laugh. This is a very emotional and very sacred place to me.

SAVIDGE: It's sacred to another family as well. Firefighters can often be found here, like this Montana crew hiking up during our interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to hug you. Moms got to hug. OK?

SAVIDGE: Four years after the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, their memorial is a trail for remembering, and a path toward healing.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Yarnell, Arizona.


[13:59:55] WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in CNN NEWSROOM. And it all starts right now.