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President Tweets Doctored Video of Himself Punching "CNN"; CNN's Responses to President's Tweet; Trump and Putin to Meet This Week; White House Fights to Repeal Obamacare Together; Trump, Sen. Warner: "I Have Never Seen So Much Smoke"; House Sanders on FBI Probe into Wife: "It's Pathetic"; Watch "United Shades of America" Tonight. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 2, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Their face-to-face will come as the Russia investigation moves forward here in the United States with several former Trump advisers set to testify later this month.

Meanwhile, growing calls from Republicans to cancel or shorten law makes July 4th recess so that they can get their health care bill hammered out.


SEN. BEN SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: I'd like to say, let's dot repeal then let's try to get 60 out of 100 senators. Let's bring everybody in to the room, let's do this full-time, 18 hour as day, 6 day as week. Let's cancel the August state work period and let's do it in full public view, and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare. We pledged that and the American people deserve that.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York. Thanks so much for being with me.

So the president is spending much of this holiday weekend tweeting, and he says his tweets are not presidential. In fact, his words, they are "modern presidential." But today CNN, this network, is responding to Trump's latest tweet this morning of a doctored video from his WWE days suggesting pummeling CNN is what he would rather be doing.

Slamming an opponent with the CNN logo there. Super imposed on the person's head. This is old video, but he's made it new again in his tweet this morning. This comes just three days now before the president of the United States heads to Europe ahead of the G20 Summit. The president is at his golf club in New Jersey. He took time out to honor veterans last night in Washington, D.C. before heading back to New Jersey, but he also used that moment in D.C. to say this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us. But we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I'm president and they're not.


WHITFIELD: So after that moment in D.C., it was this morning that all eyes saw what the president tweeted, showing this kind of doctored WWE video with him and what appears to be a "Smack Down" of CNN. As a result, CNN has released this response saying, "It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when saying the president had never done so. Instead of preparing for his first overseas trip deal Vladimir Putin dealing with North Korea and working on his healthcare bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his." And that's from CNN.

All right this morning, White House Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert had this to say about the president's tweet.


THOMAS BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Yes. Certainly not, though. I think that no one would perceive that as threat and hope they don't but I do think he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms he has a right to respond to and does that regularly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you don't think that's a threat to anyone? You don't think that sending a message do that to the media? Do that to CNN?

BOSSERT: No, certainly no, I don't think so. And I think that importantly here he's a genuine president expressing himself genuinely and to be honest I think that's why he was elected. He's the most genuine person and the people that see politicians and then see him, find him to be someone that they can understand and relate to.


WHITFIELD: All right let's talk more about all this with our panel. CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, CNN politics commentator's Kayleigh McEnany and Sally Cohen.

All right, good to see all of you. All right so Kayleigh I would like to hear from you first than on your response to President Trump tweeting that "Smack Down" of CNN. What do you think?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, you know, I think it was intended as a tongue and cheek satirical video, nothing serious and it might have made some people in his base laugh. But I think one of the most effective things that President Trump could do to win over kind of those moderate middle of the road voters, who, by the way, don't trust the media which has the lowest approval rating ever in Gallup recorded history, the way to reach those people is with facts is to point out that Friday night, the Associated Press had to roll back a story and did it conveniently right before everyone went off for the 4th of July weekend, they reported on a fake meeting with the EPA administrator and between Dow Chemical to try to make him look bad, that media never happened, they put out a clarification.

They likewise put out another clarification on another story conveniently right before the holiday weekend. So I think using facts is the most effective way to bring this fight out.

[15:04:56] WHITFIELD: So Kayleigh you believe that is the impetus for the president sending out that video in this, you know, you want to call it comical view of the president in this "Smack Down" of CNN, and he has every right in which to do so? We heard from Bossart who says, you know, he's been beating up, sort of as justification. Why, then, can't the president beat up the media? Is that what you're saying?

MCENANY: Look, it wasn't advisable. I wouldn't have advised him to send that out, but I would say if he does have a right to fight back, Bossart is absolutely right to say that. He would called on one liberal show on MSNBC, the morning show, he called a thug a goon, he was called unbalanced, he was called not well before he ever sent out anything attacking them. Likewise he was called Hitlerrian by another host on MSNBC and yet another host called for the assassination of his son-in-law saying that President Trump should take a playbook from Mussolini.

So when you have the press out there saying things like this said, he has a right to fight back and nothing he had said has been anywhere as harsh as being a Hitler comparison or calling for the assassination of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

WHITFIELD: OK, so Sally, the right to fight back. He's beat up on so, you know, this is the cue for him to respond. I mean how do you see this? And from the president of the United States?

SALLY COHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All right, let me make a point and ask a question. So -- I actually can't believe this is happening. It was Donald Trump who said that Barack Obama wasn't a citizen of this country. It was Republicans who said he had a Kenyan colonialist mind-set that literally questioned his legitimacy to even be in the White House.

Had President Obama gone to a veterans event, Kayleigh, a veterans event and used that event to attack the media, you'd be all over with anger.

MCENANY: And guess what --


COHEN: No, no, no. You got to talk, you go to talk, now it's my turn. So I can't believe you can defend this. I mean really. Is there no -- so my question is, is there no line? Like if that had been a picture not of the CNN log or a video not of the CNN logo but it have Jake Tapper's head he was punching, would that cross a line for you? What if it was a picture of Donald Trump holding a bloodied CNN logo? Would that -- when is across the line? When this across the line.

MCENANY: Sally -- you appear to have a listening problem, Sally, because I said it was not advisable for him to sent that out --

COHEN: And you defended it. And you defended, you said it was a joke.

MCENANY: I said it not advisable, yes it was just a joke. And by the way, you should take and inward look, because the Hollywood liberal elite are the ones calling for the assassination of the president. Johnny Depp said something along those lines.


COHEN: Kayleigh there's a difference.

MCENANY: And cut off the president's head. This Hollywood liberal elite and the media --


WHITFIELD: Wait a minute. So it almost sounds like -- so we're now having a conversation about justification, it sounds like, this the direction that we're going, Kayleigh and Sally, that we're saying, it's justifiable on the condition that, dot, dot, dot, or fill in the blanks. But really the question here is, this is the president of the United States. And when the president speaks, whether it be via tweet or in any other fashion, you know it is to be taken very seriously. But now we're also hearing from people who were saying, no, take it as a joke.

I mean, so -- this leaves a very confused audience, I would think. Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Reporters committee for freedom of the press and other journals and now as it groups who came out today and said this was an incitement to violence. So the president is encouraging a sort of fantasy about beating up on the media only a few weeks after a man running for Congress in Montana actually did body slam a reporter. Greg Gianforte did win that election, he's now a Republican in the House of Representatives.

We've seen violence against journalists, also seem awful kinds of violence against ordinary citizens and Congress members and a lot of other folks. It is not just about the media. And I think we shouldn't make it just about the media. But if we do, as Kayleigh saying pick 10 examples of disgusting behavior by memories of the media, mostly comedians and commentators not reporters.

But if we take those, those disgusting things. Absolutely, that should be condemned and has been. Kathy Griffin lost her job here at CNN, she's on once a year, you know, doing that New Year's Eve show. Now not anymore because of that severed head picture. This week three reporters in CNN resigned after stories after our stories were attract in, because out of the 4,000 that work here, a few of them made a mistake. So there's this accountability measures we see within the press when people go too far, when behavior crosses a line. We don't see that from the president or his aides. They seem to be enjoying this today, even as journalists at CNN and elsewhere face threats, death threats and other kinds threads.

Now, listen, I get it. Kayleigh, you faced that as well. You've experienced threats. I know a lot of conservative commentators do in the same with the liberal commentators do, the same with the reporters do. This is a widespread problem.


STELTER: So widespread problem, but the president doesn't seem to be making it any better on a day like today seems to be making it a lot worse.

WHITFIELD: So the president has spoken. CNN has even responded to what the president conveyed, you know, via tweet. Now what about Twitter itself? Is there a response coming from Twitter in the form of how this tool is being used, not just as a means of communication.

[15:10:11] STELTER: Right.


STELTER: Just checking and make sure they haven't responded --


STELTER: Been asking for a few hours. Does this violate Twitter's terms of service? This is a question has been asked about presidents' tweets before. It was a lot of language when you use Twitter or Facebook or other social networks about what's allowed what's not allowed, hateful contact is not allowed, harassment is not allowed.

The way these sites police this behavior, the way they take action is very confusing, very scattered. Typically the response from Twitter has been no. The president's comments about Joe and Mika, for example were not harassment. But we've been asking Twitter did he cross the line in the company's point of view today? They've not responded. I think it's an interesting issue, right so the president be held to a really high standard by the social media companies? Do they believe this is encouraging violence?

WHITFIELD: Yes, and the president and the White House had said, you know, he likes this form of communication, he's going to continue to use it. In fact, this is what Press Secretary Sean Spicer had to say about the president and his use of Twitter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So every tweet you are telling us from now on with U.S. press secretary that we are to be able to take those words literally?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Of course you can. If they're from him, they're -- I mean I don't know what else you would take them as.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are President Trump's tweets considered official White House statements?

SPICER: Well, the president is the president of United States. So they're considered official statements by the president of the United States.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Kayleigh, literally, take the president's words literally via tweet. Earlier you mentioned and even Ben Ferguson did earlier on Brian's show not to take it literally but as a joke. That, you know, people have to have a sense of humor. So which is it?

MCENANY: People have to have a sense of humor. If you have any ounce of comedic laugh in you, you'll realize that this was a moment of levity. This was a joke. We all know wrestling is fake as Ben Ferguson pointed out. I wouldn't advised him to send it out because I think he needs to win over people in the middle ground. I'm not sure this does that. But his frustration should be noted and we should stop and ask ourselves why has he relentlessly attacked the press over the last four days?

When the press spends ABC, NBC, CBS 353 minutes on Russia a story which by the way, Jim Comey said many, many of the Russia stories are false and no times on (inaudible) no time on veterans accountability act, no time on those things, one minute on taxes, by the way. You know, that's inexcusable and the American people are having a disservice and recognize it, why the media has such low approval ratings.


COHEN: OK, first of all, they focused on what they focus in the media because of his tweets. And then number one, most importantly, he's his number one distraction. But again this is just hysterical if it weren't so disturbing that when Kathy Griffin posted that picture, which I found offensive, I said it was offensive, you found it offensive. She's a comedienne and you didn't think it should be funny, you didn't think we should have a sense of humor about that.

The differences, look, there are crazy, hateful people on your side Kayleigh, they're crazy, hateful people on my side. The difference is, I denounce them. You get them elected president. This is not OK. It is not OK. It's not OK for you to defend it. It's not OK for him to do it, it's not OK for our kids to grow up in a country, well this is how the president of United States behaves and we shouldn't defend this at all. It's not funny. It's scary. We have a mounting crisis of violence and hate in this country and the president is contributing to it. WHITFIELD: Does the president have an obligation at this point to further explain, you know, his actions, that message? I mean -- we're all debating it. People are talking about it, but is it up to the president at this juncture now? Not the press office, but the president of the United States now to offer some clarity, maybe ally fears or concerns? Say something, do more beyond what's happened?

STELTER: This is the clarity he thinks CNN is fake news, the (inaudible) is he -- he hates the scrutiny and the reporting that's going on. He -- and I think that's where it gets to this broader issue of whether it's presidential or not. Calling any news outlet fake news is a slur, because obviously there's lots of real reporters behind us that are doing real work, and that's true with Fox News and it's true with ABC and NBC and all the networks.

So to have this daily drumbeat from the president a fake news, fraud news which take aside his wrestling video, just not daily drumbeat, that's what he's doing, I think that's what he would say, but it is derogatory. I mean it's not legally sort of -- not getting into legal terms but it is offensive every time he says, "fake news."

WHITFIELD: And quick Kayleigh, should the president say more on this?

MCNENAY: Look, no. I think the president every day brings up cases of the news getting stories wrong as much as they happen. But I just really want to quickly I point out with Sally, you're drawing a moral equivalency here between the president tweeting up in a fake wrestling scene, a faceless person. And Kathy Griffin holding up the decapitated head of the commander in chief. That's a disgusting prologue (ph) to make, that's entirely different and you know exactly what you're doing by making that comparison and viewers see that.

[15:15:09] WHITFIELD: All right, Kayleigh McEnany, Sally Cohen, Brian Stelter we'll leave it right there for now, thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead --


SASSE: Republicans ran on repeal and on replace and if leader McConnell can get us on across the finish line in a combined repeal and replace I'd like to see that happen.


WHITFIELD: Oh, if not, President Trump says lawmakers should repeal Obamacare now, replace it later.

Plus, the president and his Russian counterpart meet later this week. The White House said, "no specific agenda." So what could the two leaders talk about? That's straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


[15:20:04] WHITFIELD: This morning at least one more Republican senator is seemingly on the same page at the president when it comes to his latest health care stance. If necessary, repeal now, replace later.


SASSE: I'd like to say, let's dot repeal then let's try to get 60 out of 100 senators. Let's bring everybody in to the room, let's do this full-time, 18 hour as day, 6 day as week. Let's cancel the August state work period and let's do it in full public view, and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare. We pledged that and the American people deserve that.

SEN. MIKE LEE, (R) UTAH: Politically, for some reason we can't do that done, what we ought to do is get back to what I've been suggesting for the last six months which is to push full repeal and then embark on an interim step-by-step process to decide what comes next.


WHITFIELD: Right now President Trump is not at the White House but his administration is still fighting to repeal and replace Obamacare. And according to a senior White House official he's working on the GOP's bill through the holiday weekend while in Bridgewater, New Jersey right now.

This comes after eight Republican senators called for the August recess to be canceled or postponed. Ron Brownstein joining me right now, he's a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic." All right Ron, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So of this GOP senators are saying let's shelf the August recess so that we can real hunker down and work on this health care plan. Is that going to resonate?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, the idea that they are moving back to where they started with this idea of repeal first and replace later is just an indication of how deep a wall, how hard a wall, they have run into in their effort to forge a consensus on what to do here. Because the reason they moved away from this idea originally, was because they were not 50 Republican senators who are willing to repeal Obamacare without knowing what would come next.

Now imagine the congressional budget office score on that? Right? Right now this bill, the repeal and replace bill has been hurt because the congressional budgets office it will deny health insurance of 23 million in the House version and 22 million in the Senate version. If you were just repealing without replacing with your tax credits or anything like that, what would the number be? 30 million people losing healthcare, and would the Senate be willing to go forward on that basis? Whether they repeal first or, and replace later, they still face, I think, the same fundamental contradiction.

This is legislation that increasingly focuses its pain on their own voters. Lower and older middle income whites, lower middle income whites who would be the predominant losers on this bill and many of the interior states critical to Republicans majority in Congress and the to President Trump's electoral college victory.

WHITFIELD: So, you know, Ron I spoke with historian Tim Naftali earlier and he said, you know, the president's point of view without totally getting into this his head but his assessment is, if its repealed, even replaced, modified later, if its repealed the president would consider that a win, because that's what he campaigned on.

So does that help underscore that some lawmakers and the president see this very differently. Lawmakers are trying to assess the win for the American people? Whereas the president is looking at it for a win for his political agenda based on campaign promises.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. There is that -- there is that kind of traditional idea that, you know, you post a legislative victory, it's momentum, it's a win. Yes, but the president promised that he was going to protect his voters. Right? I mean, he was, part of what made President Trump different during the campaign, was he departed from traditional kind of small government Republican ideology to basically say, look I'm going to protect Social Security, I'm going to protect Medicare and I am going to protect Medicaid, because he recognized that in a modern Republican coalition, many beneficiaries of those programs are the core Republican voters.

Two-thirds of all Americans between 45 and 65 are white and Donald Trump won most of those voters. Those are the biggest losers in this bill. If you look on the private health insurance side, the exchanges, the Kaiser Family Foundation has calculated the premiums will go up for 40 euros and 60 euros at $30,000 in virtually every county in America. And then if you look at Medicaid, many of states that are suffering the most from the opioid crisis have found Medicaid to be a critical part of their response and West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada and Maine would all have enormous reductions, Ohio, as well in their Medicaid population under this bill.

So yes, they can post a victory potentially but I doubt I think 50 Republicans right now to vote for repeal without knowing what comes next. But they cannot fulfill the larger campaign promise. Which is he was going to defend this economic interest, or this economically strain lower middle income voters that are becoming absolutely corner (ph) stone of the Republican coalition and would be the biggest losers in many states under the legislation the House passed and the Senate is considering.

WHITFIELD: And he called that House bill mean.


WHITFIELD: But there isn't -- we haven't heard a qualifier from the president thus far what it means to just repeal Obamacare right now. Leaving people with nothing. But this what was said this morning. Take a listen.


[15:25:04] TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We think that leader McConnell and his senators, so within the Senate they are working to try to get this piece of legislation on track. Their conversation are ongoing as we speak and so we look forward to hopefully them coming back after this fourth of July recess and getting the work done.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: We stated our preferences to pass the bill, the Senate has right now. That what we think needs to be done we think. We think that help solves many of the problems Americans are facing.


WHITFIELD: So particularly HHS secretary price is very optimistic. Why is he?

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, I mean, you know, Republicans historically since they had the majority, they had a consistent in a specific retaking Congress in '95. Over the last 23 years whenever the majority, the consistent strategy has been when they run into this kind of wall as they did in the House, they move the bill to the right, consolidate conservatives and count on moderates buckling to get them just over the line which exactly what happened in the House earlier this year.

The difference, I think is that this bill is so out of touch with what the Republican coalition has become, you have a number of senators who simply can't get over the finish line. I mean just think about the contrast here, the main tax cuts in this bill on both income and capital gains affect only families making $250,000 or above. 60% of the total tax benefit goes to just the top 10% of taxpayer.

On the other hand, the cuts are bat -- you know, are focused directly on lower, middle income and older adults who tend to be particularly in these interior states, as I said, predominantly white and predominantly Republican voters. So you're basically taking away something from the bulk of your voters to give a benefit to the bulk of your donors. And I think that is a tough calculation in the end for enough of these Republicans from the interior.

Now, look, most Republicans have been willing to make that trade, in the House and in the Senate. And it is a pretty thin line between passing this bill certainly Dean Heller in Nevada one of only three Republican that stays to Hillary Clinton carried in the Senate and the only one up in 2018. Susan Collins, they seem pretty hard in opposition. But after that, it gets a little fuzzy and there's no question that this bill is still on the brink, although right now you'd have to say that it's facing more resistance than likelihood getting over the top.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks, Ron. Stick around, we'll have more from you in a moment. Also ahead, President Trump has said this about Russia.


TRUMP: We're not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So what's the president stance on relations with the Kremlin as he prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin later this week? We'll discuss that, next.


[15:31:50] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York. So in just a few days, President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin will meet for the first time since Trump won the White House.

They will meet face-to-face on the sidelines at the G20 Summit in Germany. No specifics have been announced, but the Kremlin said that it is open to any meeting format "that is convenient for Americans."

The meeting comes with an investigation into Russia's meddling looming large in D.C. and tensions over complex in Syria are also intensifying.

So I want bring in right now Matthew Chance. He is a CNN Senior International Correspondent in Moscow. Elise Labott is a CNN Global Affairs Analyst and CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein also back with me. All right, good to see all of you.


WHITFIELD: All right. So let's begin with the meeting itself. If whether these two have met or not, here is President Trump in his own words about their encounters, or lack thereof.


TRUMP: I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is. I've nothing to do with Putin. I've never spoken to him. I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me.

I was in Moscow recently and I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin who could not have been nicer.


WHITFIELD: All right. Ron, let me begin with you. You know, whether they've met or not, you know, what's the goal? What is it that President Trump would want to get out of this meeting with Vladimir Putin?

BROWNSTEIN: It's a giant open question. I mean, his national security advisers has said that essentially this week, they're winging it, you know, that there is no fixed agenda. You can certainly imagine that President Putin is coming in with a fixed agenda from the other side.

Look, you know, in many ways the most chilling moment of James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was when he said, Russia will be back again, in terms of trying to interfere in our elections.

Whatever, you know, whatever else you think about this whole question of whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, there's no question that the Russian interference in the election in 2016 had one of its desired effects in sewing a great deal of discord and confusion and even chaos in the U.S. We saw them do similar tactics in the French --

WHITFIELD: So, are you saying the President Trump --


WHITFIELD: Yes. You're then saying if President Trump needs to directly say something to Putin about --


WHITFIELD: -- you know, knock it off, just like President Obama did.

BROWNSTEIN: I think that is the biggest question I think that many -- you know, obviously Syria is a big issue as well, but I think there are many in Congress on both sides who feel that President Trump has allowed the question of whether his campaign colluded to completely eclipse what is in many ways the larger point that there was an active intelligence attack on our Democratic institutions about which the administration has been astonishingly blase with Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, testifying that he has never had a single briefing on this, you know, extraordinary threat.

And as I said, everything that happened in 2016 here would certainly encourage the Russians to come back and try it again in the future, yet the administration seems to be, again, incredibly blase and willing to kind of allow this to remain a second tier at best concern for them.

WHITFIELD: So then, Matthew, what would be the Kremlin or Vladimir Putin's goal in a sideline meeting with the President of the United States? You know, no one can forget that image inside the White House.

[15:35:02] The Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and President Trump and they're, you know, yakking it up. You know, I mean, they look like they're having a good time. They're enjoying each other's company.

We don't know if there's going to be an opportunity where the meeting between Putin and Trump will be documented like that was, but what is the expectation of the goal or even the tone or the imagery of the two men meeting?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, certainly, the Kremlin is very aware of the fact that the optics of this doesn't look bad to the domestic media in the United States. They're recalling that meeting as well with Donald Trump smiling as he met the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the contrast of the fact that the cause of the political environment in the United States, it's very hard for Donald Trump to offer any kind of concessions to the Russians.

Remember, that's immensely disappointing for them, because they believe that Donald Trump was their man. He came to power what, sworn in six months ago promising to turn around the relationship with the -- with Moscow and to make it a much better relationship between Washington and Moscow. He completely failed to do that.

In term of what they're going to talk about, well, you know, no one here is any wiser than really anybody in the United States. As to what the agenda will be, they don't even know what the format of these talks. Are they going to sit down in a room together or they just kind of brush up against each another a corridor? Nobody really knows at this point. That's extraordinary for a meeting of such importance.

WHITFIELD: Elise, what if any expectations are there about, you know, this meeting. How it will, you know, play out? What could potentially come from it?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think that both sides are keeping expectations low. As we said, General McMaster, the national security adviser, said there's no agenda. It's just going to be what the president wants to talk about.

But I think that the president is missing a huge opportunity to -- by preparing, not preparing for this meeting because you can bet that Vladimir Putin even if he doesn't know the agenda he has his own agenda and he's preparing very carefully for this meeting.

I mean, obviously, Syria is going to be a very major discussion about how the two countries can work together, maybe, to get some political situation going to end the crisis there, fighting ISIS. Obviously, Ukraine, North Korea, big issues. The U.S. also has to start talking to Russia about reduction of the nuclear arsenal.

There are very serious issues on the table, and I think really what both sides are looking for right now is to come out of the meeting with an agreement to "work together to solve international issues," to reset the relationship. I think President Putin wants President Trump, you know, give him a big handshake and show that he's a respected leader. And I think for President Trump is the same.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, you know, there's a lot of stuff going on, you know, Ron, before they even meet. You know, you've got this video and the tweet from the president, and it's been said for those who study Vladimir Putin that, you know, former KGB guy, he studies people. So what might he be learning or looking into the president, his tweets, his behavior, ahead of their meeting has would be potentially advantageous for Putin?

BROWNSTEIN: That he is vain and extraordinarily sensitive to criticism. And I think the opening here for Vladimir Putin is that we go into the summit with an unusual question which is, not only whether the president will find common ground with the Russian leader, but whether he can maintain any common ground with our traditional allies in Europe. I mean, Angela Merkel gave a remarkable speech leading into this where she basically said isolationism is not the way to go. Retreating on climate is not the way to go. The tension between the president and our European allies is large and I think that the Russian president will look for every opportunity to widen them.

WHITFIELD: And, Matthew, you want to add to, you know, the (INAUDIBLE) equipped, you know, with his experience to read people, to assess to try to find, you know, the upper hand?

CHANCE: Well, obviously, yes. He's going to be looking at the tweets that Donald Trump's put out. He's going to look into his public statements as well. But, again, I think expectations are very low.

State media were saying if they come out agreeing to meet again, that will be considered a success. Other analysts say on this country put the expectations even lower saying to anything but an abject failure will be considered a good show in this meeting.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matthew, Elise, Ron, good to see all of you. Thanks so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. One of the U.S. senators investigating Russia's involvement in the 2016 election says there will be "more clarity in a couple of months." Virginia Senator Mark Warner told CNN's Fareed Zakaria Senate investigators are starting to talk to people affiliated with the Trump campaign who have mentioned that they may have had contacts with Russia.


SENATOR MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA: I thought we would be further along in this investigation by July 4th. But I also never anticipated the fact that the president would fire the FBI director, that he would have his national security adviser have to resign because of contacts with the Russians.

[15:40:06] His attorney general has to recuse himself in terms of contacts and collusions. I've never seen so much smoke and so many possible threads. If there is no fire, I would be the first to say, there's nothing there.


WHITFIELD: The House Intelligence Committee is also preparing to interview several major witnesses later on this month, including former Trump advisers Michael Caputo and Roger Stone.

All right, straight ahead, Senator Bernie Sanders says the investigation into his wife's land deal is, his words, pathetic. More of what he told CNN this morning, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York. Senator Bernie Sanders is defending his wife amid an ongoing FBI investigation. Sanders told Jake Tapper this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," he blames partisan politics for the probe into her dealings when she was president of Burlington College.


[15:45:05] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to ask you about the FBI looking into Burlington College in a land deal there and financing around it from the time when your wife, Jane Sanders, was president of the college. You and your wife recently retained lawyers. I guess the fundamental question for you is did you or anyone on your staff reach out to the bank to approve any loans related to this transaction?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Absolutely -- you know, it's of course, absolutely not. And, in fact, let's be clear. Five years, five years, after my wife left Burlington College and she left it in better shape than it had ever been in, five years after, guess what happened?

Right in the middle of my presidential campaign, I know this will shock the viewers, the vice chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, who happened to be Donald Trump's campaign manager raised this issue and initiated this investigation.

I should also mention to you that just the other day the person who allegedly had made this statement that I had been involved in this land deal refuted. He said, I never said that. That was in a paper in Vermont.

So, you know, I think what you're looking at is something that Republican National Committee is very excited about. My wife is perhaps the most honest person I know. She did a great job at Burlington College.

Sadly, we are in a moment where parties not only attack public officials, they have to go after wives and children. You know, this is pathetic, and that's the way politics is in America today.


WHITFIELD: The FBI has not filed any charges against Mrs. Sanders and no allegations of wrongdoing have been made.

We'll be right back.


[15:51:00] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Tonight's episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" goes inside San Francisco's Chinatown to talk to people about their heritage.


W. KAMAU BELL, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA HOST (on camera): Where do you live?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right in here in Chinatown and I have not moved out for the last 40 years.

BELL: Great control?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. I became -- I wouldn't say the guru of Chinatown.

BELL: One of the hearts of Chinatown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being Chinese is the coolest thing in the world. Our new year's celebrations are lit.

BELL: Chinese New Year celebrations are literally lit.

(voice-over): Besides firecrackers, when it comes to celebrating Chinese New Year, the most recognizable part is the lion and dragon dancers.

Today, I'm heading over to lion dance meet to meet Norman Laua (ph) who teaches the art to hundreds of teens every year.

NORMAN LAUA: How you doing?

BELL (on camera): Good, man. How you're doing?

LAUA: I'm doing good.

BELL (voice-over): I think if he can teach all these kids over the course of years, he can probably teach me in a few minutes, right?


WHITFIELD: Oh, really? Oh, that's quite the challenge, though. The "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" W. Kamau Bell joining me now. OK, so how did that lesson go, a matter of minutes?

BELL: Yes. Well, I think he spends a matter of minutes and I learned a matter of seconds the amount of lion dancing. But, you know, it didn't go well. Tune in tonight.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, but -- I guess the real answer is whether they call you back for continuation of that lesson.

BELL: Yes, that's right. That's right.

WHITFIELD: OK. So this episode, you know, like the rest of the episodes of your season, you know, you touch on issues that might be uncomfortable to hear to even delve into to talk about. Tonight, you actually talk about some negative stereotypes about Asian women, to what capacity, how did that conversation go?

BELL: Yes. I talked to a filmmaker, Debbie Lum, who made a film -- documentary called "Seeking Asian Female," about how Asian females in this country are exonified and, you know, so -- especially, you know, like internet dating, they are targeted as the most desirable person you can find.

So, you know, we've said, "Well, what's that like from reflected being an Asian female knowing that that -- and you're trying to find the person a date?" So, you know, we talked about those stereotypes.

We also talked to actor Jeremy Long (ph) about what it's like to being an Asian male in American society and being thought it was being completely sexless a lot of the time. So, yes, it's about like the stereotypes that have been built up in this country.

Our job this season and next season is to continue to deprogram them and hand the mic over to people we've been talk about of.

WHITFIELD: And you're doing a great job during all your season long. So do you have any favorites of your journeys, the many places that you've gone, neighborhoods and people that you've interacted with, got a favorite?

BELL: Yes. I mean I think my favorite episodes are the ones where you -- where the people or the viewer got to see me learning in real time, either about things you thought I would know a lot about, like Chicago. I'm from Chicago, but I learned a lot in that episode, or Appalachia where I didn't know anything, or the Native American. And so that's one of my favorite of the season.

WHITFIELD: Beautiful. All right, well, well done. It's been a magnificent journey that we've all been on along with you. We look forward to the next season. Kamau, thank you so much. So the show, United --


BELL: -- for adult conversations.

WHITFIELD: Yes, adult conversations. I like that. Thank you for that clarity. "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs tonight 10:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.

All right, the next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right after this.

[16:00:03] WHITFIELD: Again, everyone, thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York today.

President Trump faces another critical week of his presidency with the Republican health care bill that will potentially change the lives of millions of Americans.