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Protestors & Police Clash as Trump Meets with World Leaders; Interview with Rep. Mike Quigley. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's it for The Lead, I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Jim Sciutto in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:00:12] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Violent clashes. Riot police battle anti-globalization protesters as thousands take to the streets, opposing the G-20 summit in Germany, where President Trump is holding high-stakes meetings with world leaders.
Questioning the intel. President Trump refuses to blame Russia directly from interfering with the U.S. election, once again openly questions the U.S. intelligence community, which concluded with confidence that Russia's President Putin directed its attack on U.S. democracy.
Preparing for Putin. We're learning that President Trump's big meeting with Vladimir Putin will be small in size. The two leaders joined only by Secretary of State Tillerson and Russia's foreign minister and interpreters. Why does there only a few pages of paper?
And no red line. The president answers North Korea's nuke missile launch with big threats, saying he's weighing a severe response but stressing that he doesn't draw red lines. Why not?
Wolf Blitzer off today. I'm Jim Sciutto, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SCIUTTO: The breaking news, riot police used water cannons and pepper spray against protesters hurling rocks and smoke bombs as thousands take to the streets in Hamburg, Germany, scene of the G-20 summit. The clashes taking place as President Trump meets with world leaders ahead of the main event of his overseas trip, a face-to-face meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin.
The president sat down with the G-20 host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who differs with him sharply on climate change, trade, and more. At this meeting, they did manage a public handshake.
Tonight, the president met with leaders of South Korea and Japan, as well, after he delivered vague threats to North Korea in response to Kim Jong-un's firing of a brand-new long-range missile. The president called that very, very dangerous, saying that he's considering, quote, "some pretty severe things," but he added, "That doesn't mean we're going to do them."
The president began the day in Poland, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to NATO, which he failed to do on his previous European visit. He criticized Russia for what he called, quote, "destabilizing activities" in Ukraine, but refused to blame Russia for meddling in the U.S. election, saying no one really knows for sure.
And while standing on foreign soil, the president slammed U.S. intelligence, the media, as well as former President Obama.
I'll talk with Congressman Mike Quigley of the Intelligence Committee as well as our correspondent, specialists, and guests, standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
We begin with our breaking news, police clashing with protesters as President Trump and other world leaders gather for the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta is in Hamburg with the president. But it's a -- a bigger day tomorrow, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim, but right now we want to show you some live pictures of what's happening here on the streets of Hamburg this evening. Some clashes with police earlier today between anti-capitalist protesters and those riot police that you mentioned. Bottles were thrown. The police responded with their own show of force.
And as you can see in these live pictures, there is still a presence on the street tonight by these protesters. But as you mentioned, Jim, that's right. Tomorrow the eyes of the world will be on this meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Officials tell CNN it is expected to be a very small crowd in the room, just the two leaders, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
One day before this meeting, though, President Trump once again offered Putin something of a gift, expressing doubts once again about the U.S. intelligence community's very clear assessment that Russia interfered in the election. At a news conference in Warsaw earlier today, the president essentially said the jury is still out when it's really not. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered. I've said it very -- I've said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries, and I won't be specific.
I think it was Russia, and I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement.
I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong. And it led to a mess.
[17:05:05] So, it was Russia, and I think it was probably others also, and that's been going on for a long period of time.
But my big question is, why did Obama do nothing about it from August, all the way to November 8? He did nothing about it, and it wasn't because he choked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now we should point out, some Democrats believe that President Obama and the Obama administration did not do enough to confront Vladimir Putin on this issue of Russia meddling. President Obama did confront Putin at a G-20 summit in China in September of last year.
And we should also point out, at a Senate hearing in May, six intelligence agency heads said, at this hearing, they believe Russia meddled in the election.
As for this meeting tomorrow, Jim, we should point out, senior administration officials said it's believed this is the president's first face-to-face encounter with Vladimir Putin before he was elected. Mr. Trump has given a range of answers on that question, claiming in the past that he had a relationship with Putin, and then later saying he did not -- Jim.
Now, he had a somewhat mixed message on hacking, but earlier in the day, the president was tougher on Moscow with regards to Ukraine.
ACOSTA: That's right. Despite his answering on Russian meddling, the president offered some encouraging words to U.S. allies in Europe in a speech to the Polish people earlier today. He took Russia to task over its actions in Ukraine and Syria, and here's more of what the president had to say in that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran. And to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: One other item to note. The president did defend NATO's Article V, which states that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all. That is something he declined to do on his first foreign trip. It's not clear, though, as for that meeting with President Putin tomorrow, how much time the president will have to tackle all of these subjects. There are many, Jim.
But they are scheduled to meet, these two leaders are, for less than an hour tomorrow here in Hamburg, and you might have been able to hear behind me during this live report, the police sirens are still blaring . They're still dealing with those protesters here in Hamburg tonight, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta there, traveling with the president.
President Trump today had harsh words and vailed threats for North Korea as the U.S. looks for the right response to Kim Jong-un's test of a new long-range missile.
Let's turn to CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski. Did the president, Michelle, give any clues as to exactly what kind of action he may take?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: No. What he did was put that threat out there once again that something will have to be done, that we're thinking about severe options. This seems like every time we hear from the administration now, they're stepping up the language a notch, but among the many unknowns, of course, what affects this could have on the North Korean regime.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): The president today in Europe, facing the intensifying threat from North Korea.
TRUMP: It's a shame that they're behaving this way, but they are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner. And something will have to be done about it.
KOSINSKI: Tough talk, but vague talk. He says, intentionally.
TRUMP: I don't like to talk about what I have planned. But I have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them. I don't draw red lines.
KOSINSKI: But U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis was quick to assert today that North Korea's launch of a brand-new intercontinental ballistic missile this week does not bring the U.S. any closer to war. He insists the focus is still diplomacy. That's just a day after U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley raised the specter of force.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Time is short. Action is required. The world is on notice. One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": There have to be severe things, because we don't have very much time to figure this out. The North Koreans within a year, maybe 18 months, will be able to position a nuke on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile and hold the U.S. to ransom.
KOSINSKI: And there have been some concerns about U.S. missile defense capabilities. The new THAAD system in South Korea is working, but as for defending U.S. soil from a long-range missile, the systems in place failed three of the last four tests. But after a significant upgrade, the last one went well.
A Pentagon source telling CNN, "Missile defense was designed to defend against a rogue missile, not a full-scale attack."
For now, at least, North Korea's ability to strike the United States is hardly ready for primetime. Its technology, rudimentary. Finding a diplomatic solution now is just as complicated. Past efforts have quickly failed, because North Korea didn't comply.
[17:10:18] Russia and China now say it's time for a far different approach, starting with actually talking to Kim Jong-un, without the precondition of him committing to denuclearization that the U.S. has demanded.
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The record has shown in the five years he's been in power, they have no interest in sitting down with anybody right now. They're not going to come back unless they feel some sort of pressure coming from sanctions.
KOSINSKI: And there's plenty of agreement out there that China is key here. Since it accounts for about 90 percent of trade with North Korea, it could really tighten the screws. But at least for now, they clearly don't want to do that.
In fact yesterday at the U.N., they were closely aligned with Russia, which was saying that sanctions just don't work, but they, and other countries that continue to do business with North Korea could soon find themselves sanctioned by the U.S., and soon.
SCIUTTO: That would be a remarkable step, no question. Michelle Kosinski at the State Department, thanks very much.
Joining me now, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois.
Congressman, thanks for taking the time today.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Congressman, of course you serve on the House Intelligence Committee. You've been briefed multiple times on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
You hear President Trump today, once again, cast doubt on the assessment that Russia was behind the election meddling. I wonder, and you of course, sit on your committee with Republican colleagues. Do you or your Republican colleagues have any doubts that Russia, and Putin specifically, directed these attacks?
QUIGLEY: I have no one I'm aware of that has any doubts that Russia directed the attacks. I believe it's unanimous among the intelligence community. I don't know of any Republicans on the committee that doubt this. I mean, they may exist, but I certainly haven't heard from them. The problem with this is many-fold, first as an opportunity this week
to tell President Putin, "You did this, and it won't be tolerated." If he doesn't do that, it sends a message to, I think, Mr. Putin that there's a green light to continue this.
We just had Trey Johnson talk to us about how we have to harden our defenses against future attacks on our democratic system. The commander in chief isn't willing to acknowledge the threat and where it came from. It makes those defenses so much harder.
SCIUTTO: And make clear to our viewers, because we've had discussions about this before. In fact, there is evidence that Russian-based hackers continue to probe U.S. election systems, political parties, et cetera. Perhaps is it your concern that they are setting up for further attacks against U.S. elections in 2018 and 2020?
QUIGLEY: You know, if anything, what '16 could have been was a foray into the system to see exactly what they could do. Maybe just to discredit the process.
What concerns me is that they learned something. We have to remember one of the last things Director Comey said before he was fired was, "They'll be back."
SCIUTTO: No question. And possibly, he said, attacking Republicans and Democrats.
CNN's confirmed, looking ahead to tomorrow's meeting between Trump and Putin which you mentioned, there will be a very small group in the room, limited to President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, along with translators, as well. Considering, at least in the past, that the warm relationship you've seen between both Trump and Tillerson and Putin, does it concern you that that's the small group that's in there? There aren't, for instance, career foreign service diplomats in the room, as well.
QUIGLEY: You know, it concerns me, but it doesn't matter how many people are in the room as much as it matters that the right things are said. Reaffirming NATO and Article V, talking about Russian hacking and the fact that we're not going to tolerate it, trying to get on the same page about Syria and dealing with ISIS, telling Putin he should stop trading with North Korea, letting him know that "Hey, we're there in the G-20. We're going to begin a multinational effort to sanction North Korea, and if those, if there are countries that don't participate, the rest of the world will sanction them, as well, or keep them out of their trade agreements.
SCIUTTO: We should note that President Trump did say in a speech today that Russia must stop it's, quote, "destabilizing activities" in Ukraine, as well as its support for hostile regimes. So quite strong words from the president regarding Russian activity in Ukraine and elsewhere. A valuable message, important message in your view?
QUIGLEY: Absolutely. It would have helped a great deal if he would have added that sanctions will be maintained and perhaps increased if Russia isn't willing to cooperate. [17:15:09] As you acknowledge, he talks about other places. You know,
Eastern Europe is constantly a threat. I was literally in Georgia with a congressional delegation as we are watching evidence of the Russians moving the border fences in the middle of the night.
So there's clearly a need for action by the commander in chief. He, I think, can have as strong an influence on Putin as anyone in the world. He has the opportunity this week.
SCIUTTO: The House Intelligence Committee's investigation of both Russian meddling and other Russia-related issues continues. Your committee has begun to interview witnesses. It's been collecting and reviewing an enormous number of documents.
I know that much of this is classified. I just to want ask you this. As you the continue to probe, what are you learning? Are you learning more and are you finding things that encourage you to continue this investigation?
QUIGLEY: I think if any American, Democrat or Republican, had read what we had read, heard what we had heard, you'd want us to go full throttle. This very easily could have been attacks on Republicans in another previous decade or in a future decade. The democratic process matters to everyone.
You know, we're going to take our time, follow the facts wherever they take us. We all have a responsibility to do this on a bipartisan basis. The American public has a right to know. Our very democratic process was attacked; it was threatened. That will continue unless we find out exactly what happened and how to prevent it.
SCIUTTO: We're going to have the opportunity in a short time to speak with former director of national intelligence James Clapper, shortly. But we also will be coming back with Congressman Mike Quigley just after this break with much more to discuss, including on North Korea. Stay with us.
[17:21:39] SCIUTTO: Our breaking news, just moments ago, riot police battled protesters as President Trump meets with world leaders gathered for the G-20 summit in Germany. Ahead, the president's crucial meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Back now with Democratic congressman Mike Quigley of the Intelligence Committee. Congressman Quigley, President Trump said that he does not draw red lines, but on January 2, not long before his inauguration, he tweeted the following: "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen," exclamation point.
Did President Trump draw a red line, in your view, with that tweet?
QUIGLEY: It sounds like it, but I think that, after working with this administration for seven or eight months now, I'm not sure I take any credence in what the president tweets on any given day. I mean, I understand the frustration in dealing with North Korea, and
in fact, with China and Russia as it relates to North Korea. We have to do what's right. We have to protect our allies with the missile defense system in the south, help Japan, as well. Deal with our own missile defense system. But most important, we need to build a multinational effort to move North Korea away from this kind of activity.
SCIUTTO: Tell me what that effort looks like, because to be fair, the Obama administration didn't have many good options. Nor did the Bush administration before or the Clinton administration. They tried talking. They tried military pressure, et cetera. Does the U.S. actually have a realistic option for preventing or stopping further progress in North Korea's nuclear program?
QUIGLEY: Look, you have to keep trying. I recognize we've been doing this -- since, you know, the violence ceded in the early '50s there've been problems with North Korea. There've been talks for decades now about a strategic military strike. Certainly not something that's going to work well for South Koreans or Japan.
Thousands of pieces of artillery are aimed at the south right now. We have tens of thousands of troops there that are clearly on the front line. So, you have to continue diplomacy, despite the frustrations that have existed in the past. I think at this point in time, we have to ratchet up those efforts in Beijing and Moscow.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Mike Quigley, thanks very much for joining us today.
QUIGLEY: Thank you. Take care.
SCIUTTO: And we continue to follow this hour's breaking news. Protesters and police confront each other in the streets of Hamburg, Germany, just hours before President Trump sits down to leaders of the world's economic powers and, as well, tomorrow with Vladimir Putin.
[17:28:51] SCIUTTO: We're following breaking news. Police using water cannons, battling protesters who are now lighting fires on the streets of Hamburg, Germany. The clashes, which have been going on for several hours now, come as President Trump and leaders of the world's economic powers gather for the G-20 summit.
Let's get now the insights of our specialists. I want to begin with Bianna Golodryga. We heard the president today repeat his doubts, really, about who was behind the election meddling. He said, "I think it was Russia." And then he said, "Well, no one really knows."
I wonder how Vladimir Putin reads that. And perhaps takes advantage of a U.S. president who is doubting the judgment of his own intelligence agencies.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Yes, I would imagine Vladimir Putin was very satisfied after hearing that speech. Remember, Vladimir Putin has gone out and all but confirmed that it was Russia behind the hacking. Remember he called them patriotic hackers.
I think going into this speech, obviously, Vladimir -- and this meeting, Vladimir Putin has done his homework. who knows? maybe he's read "The Art of the Deal" in Russian. And he's going to bring some of his own statistics that he wants to present to the president. He's going to talk about sort of the history of Ukraine, if that topic does come up. He's going to talk about Crimea and its history with the Russians as well. His last meeting with President Obama was two hours. We know this meeting is expected to be some 30 minutes, other than that, when it comes to Syria, I think we heard from Secretary of State Tillerson sort of confirming that there are areas of agreement in advance of this meeting with so-called safe zones.
And I think what really surprised me was that President Trump was denigrating his own intelligence agencies overseas. That is something that is out of President Putin's playbook when it comes to questioning WMD in Iraq. That's something that he said in the past. So, I think there's going to be a lot of commonalities, specifically when it comes to intelligence communities in the U.S. and also to news in so-called fake news.
SCIUTTO: Chris Cillizza, President Trump was actually tough onto other Russia related topics. One, reaffirming the article five of the NATO Charter, also calling out Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Syria. Why the toughness there, but not the willingness to confront Russia when it comes to election meddling?
CILLIZZA: Good question, Jim. Look, the comments about Russia and election meddling came in Poland as part of a press conference there with the Polish President. The speech that Trump gave after that press conference had a little bit of the affirmation of sort of Western democracies against autocrats, the tough talk at some level directed toward Russia.
So, it's the difference between Donald Trump off the cuff and Donald Trump scripted. I think, you know, look, this was -- I actually thought Donald Trump's speech in Poland, which got less press certainly because it's his own fault there, got less press than his press conference, was relatively well-crafted and well-delivered. It was sort of a speech called arms Western democracies, what we have in common, what makes democracy so unique, so special in the world worth fighting for, delivered and I thought eloquent terms.
The problems for Donald Trump is as you point out, Jim, contradicted somewhat by what he said earlier, and what he had said earlier, much more inflammatory, sitting President in the United States on foreign soil using it as an opportunity to deliver invectives he delivered on the campaign. Media is bad, maybe Russia did it, who knows, lots of people meddle in elections, not the stuff we expect from a President, proving yet again, Donald Trump's biggest enemy isn't the so-called fake news media, it's the fact that it's Donald Trump. Donald Trump is Donald Trump's biggest enemy, has been since the day he was sworn in as President.
SCIUTTO: Phil, let's talk about how President Trump is preparing for his meeting with Putin. How his advisers are preparing him for the meeting. We're told that White House officials have given him very concise materials, a few pages with one or two Senates talking points. Why that strategy, do you think?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Because the President doesn't like to read, and we've heard this from day one. He said this from day one. I think this is the challenge going into these talks. Let me give you an example. If you're a typical President going into these talks, you mention safe zones in Syria. That's not a high level issue. You can have an agreement in a few minutes with Vladimir Putin, let's talk about this, but if you want to get into that issue seriously on safe zones in Syria, you have to get into questions like how do you identify, for example, whether terrorists are using those safe zones, whether American-backed rebels are using those safe zones and therefore the Syrians want to bomb them.
That's a lot of detail work. I don't think the President wants to do that detail work, and I don't think his staff wants it getting there. I think they want him at the level saying, do you want to have a quick chat with Putin saying hey, let's let our guys talk about Syria, get back to us on safe zones and the President doesn't get into that detail. He doesn't do detail.
SCIUTTO: As a follow, Putin does do detail by all accounts. Former KGB agent, how is he preparing to meet the President?
MUDD: I think what you're looking at in this circumstance is, he's looking at the areas that Russians have already discussed with Tillerson and other U.S. representatives, including areas related to the wake board in Syria. And he's determining, in my judgment, whether he can get a high level agreement where the President says yes, that sounds great, not knowing what the lower level details are. Putin walks out of room says we agree to this, and when the real worker bees get to the table and start talking about details, they realize from the American side that they just got boxed in by the President. I'm not worried about the high level agreement.
I'm worried that the Russians are going to play us by coming up with a one sentence agreement where when we work it, but we realize that their interpretation of that one sentence uttered by the President Putin in our interpretation is fundamentally different. That's where I think the President will get worked.
CILLIZZA: By the way, Jim, just very quickly, sorry, just quickly, one point to add to Phil's exactly right on point is, Donald Trump got elected in a lot of ways because he didn't have any experience. He didn't have elected off his experience, he didn't have military experience, first person to be President not to have either of those. But Putin has been at this a long time. Putin does know exactly sort of both the stage craft and the policy craft at work here, Trump not so much. So, the inexperience was a huge asset for him in a political context, but in a governing context, it at least exposes him to the possibility of being taken advantage in a sit-down like this with someone who's been at it for a long time. Sorry about that, Bianna.
[17:35:43] GOLODRYGA: Yes. I was just going to say, Putin's going to play this as a win-win. Best case scenario, they come out with some sort of deal. Worst case scenario, they don't, and Putin can go home and say, listen, President Trump is so weak, his hands are so tied given all the rhetoric and the phobia back at home. There's nothing he can do right now. But it's a win for him in the way he's playing it in the simple fact they're getting a bilateral meeting tomorrow and they're meeting at all, given what's happening in Ukraine.
SCIUTTO: OK, listen. Everybody stand by, we're going to have more time. We're going to be right back with our specialists.
[17:40:50] SCIUTTO: We're back now with our specialist as we watch clashes between police and protesters who are lighting fires now on the streets of Hamburg, Germany. This is where President Trump and world leaders are gathering for their International Economic Summit there. Phil Mudd, as we turn to North Korea now, I want to begin with you. Listen to President Trump's warning to the Kim Jong-un regime today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as North Korea's concerned, I don't know, we'll see what happens. I don't like to talk about what I have planned. But I have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them. I don't draw red lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Help me interpret what the President was saying there, pretty severe things that we are thinking about, doesn't mean we're going to do them, explain the message he's trying to send there.
MUDD: He's trying to send a warning to North Korea, but I mean truth is the only -- in Washington is on permanent vacation. The truth is we don't have many options here. Let's cut to the chase. The President can't put forth some opportunities that are eye candy. You can have some military exercises; you can send the navy out there. But if you're going to disrupt a long-term ballistic missile program and a long-term nuclear program, remember, that's not just pieces of equipment, that's also scientific and engineering expertise that lies in the head of people. That's a long-term military engagement that includes conventional forces, in my judgement, in North Korea.
The real message here that the President doesn't to want send, and he shouldn't send it is that North Korea, if it chooses to go down this path, will do it unless we have a major military engagement that involves U.S. forces. Nobody's going to do that. I think within years, we'll see a North Korean nuclear power. That's it, Jim. That's the story.
SCIUTTO: Bianna Golodryga, I wonder if you agree North Korea said today its nuclear program is non-negotiable. In effect, that's true, isn't it?
GOLODRYGA: Well, it is true. And I think experts are a bit surprised that they've been able to develop a nuclear program as quickly as they have. Some say within a year, they could have their hands on a nuclear bomb. And you look at what's played out now in the region, you have Russia and China saying, listen, I think we have a solution in the sense that we can possibly get the North to freeze their nuclear program, but that means sort of deescalating and withdrawing U.S. and South Korean involvement in the region.
The U.S. and South Koreans are not going to accept that bargain and that plan. And you also have Japan in the fray as well. So given the hand that he was dealt, Kim Jong-un has navigated this quite craftily and dividing three or four different regional powers into how they will address this issue. And who is going to be the one that ends up tackling it.
HOLMES: Chris Cillizza, before we go, I thought it was notable today that the Defense Secretary James Mattis made a point of saying in public that the ICBM capability of North Korea does not bring the U.S. and North Korea closer to war. It seemed like he was deliberately trying to ratchet down the rhetoric, even perhaps the President's rhetoric.
CILLIZZA: I think that's right, Jim. And I would remind anyone watching, one of the lessons we learned from the campaign is the best way to communicate with Donald Trump, if you work with him, is to go either make a public statement or go on TV and say something. Because that often is more effective than being in a room and saying, Mr. President, I think we need to ratchet this down. So, I think that's a clear attempt by Mattis to deescalate the -- some of the -- sort of more threatening language Trump has been putting out in the wake of that ICBM launch.
[17:44:20] SCIUTTO: Chris, Bianna, Phil Mudd, thanks very much. We're following the breaking news. Still, protesters and police in the streets as President Trump prepares for the Global Economic Summit and his high stakes meeting tomorrow with Russia's Vladimir Putin. We'll get the insights of Republican Congress Adam Kinzinger. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Stay with us.
17:45:00] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, continuing clashes between police and protesters ahead of the G20 Summit meeting of the world's economic powers. President Trump is there, he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow. With us now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, he's on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he's also a U.S. military veteran, thank you, Congressman, for joining us. I want to -- I want to give you a chance to listen to comments from President Trump and the Russian President on election hacking. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered. I've said it very -- I said it very simply, I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it could well have been other countries and I won't be specific but I think a lot of people interfere. I think it's been happening for a long time. It's been happening for many, many years.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia, even in America, Latin America. They can even be hackers by the way in the United States who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame as we say onto Russia. Could you accept that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:50:16] SCIUTTO: Does it alarm you, Congressman Kinzinger, to hear the Russian and American Presidents on message, in effect, undermining the intelligence community's assessment that Russia directed this hacking?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Yes, it's alarming. Look, I think the President got it half right. He said it's Russia. I don't understand the comments about it could be other countries or it could be other individuals, I'm not sure about that. But at least, this is, you know, as far as we've seen so far, that's a good start, OK. I think part of it is you know, President Trump -- and there are some people frankly that are trying to delegitimize the Presidency of Trump, not most people but some because of this issue. I think, it's not to delegitimize the Presidency but in my mind, this is about defending the institution of Democracy in the United States and in our allies because of people whose faith in their ability to cast the vote and to have that heard, that's when you see breakdowns of institutions and faith which lead to long term problems.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, you're a veteran. You served your country overseas in Iraq and in Afghanistan. You have many intelligence professionals doing the same thing, at great risk on themselves and yet, you heard the President, again, it's not the first time today, cast doubt on the very credibility of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Why and isn't that damaging?
KINZINGER: I think it's damaging to do it. It's especially damaging to do it. And I've been just as critical of the prior administration when they did it. It is extremely damaging to try to air something like that and when you're overseas. I mean, we've got to get back and I'm desperately saying this to everybody. We've got to get back to politics end at the water's edge. We have to present a united front. I think it's wrong for the prior administration when President Obama did it, it's wrong for President Trump to air things like what happened in Iraq in front of foreign audiences. It's wrong to do so. I think he could have a very good trip here. I think the meeting with President Putin could be good, it could lead to some things but let's stop airing dirty laundry and let's start standing together with our intelligence professionals because that has an impact when our allies are listening to -- you know, these are the people who share intelligence with our CIA and our DIA and everything else.
SCIUTTO: You mentioned the meeting between Trump and Putin. The Wall Street Journal today calling it Trump's Putin test and saying that the Russians -- speaking of Putin -- will interpret concessions as a sign of weakness. Are you concerned that President Trump will go into that room, I mean, there's talk of returning, for instance, these compounds that were taken away from Russia in the transition period in reaction to election meddling. Are you concerned that Trump will go in there and concede something and not be tough enough in effect on the Russian leader?
KINZINGER: That would be my concern no matter who's President if something like that would happen. What we've learned from Vladimir Putin and the Russians is that they will continue to take -- it was similar to when we gave up our missile defense shield in Europe without getting anything in concession. We never got anything in concession. You have to deal with President Putin as he is. He's a strong man. He respects power. He actually respects streak. He will back down when presented a brick wall that he cannot move past anymore. I think President Trump did a very good thing with the bombing of the airfield in Syria with firing on these regime elements in the deconfliction zones in Syria, shooting down the Su-22 despite Russia's warning. I think President Trump can go into this meeting really in the strong position. But if you walk in and you say here's concessions, what can you give us, Vladimir Putin may not show it in his face because he's former KGB but he'll feel it in his heart that he's got another administration he can tango with. And I hope that is not the case. I hope he walks in with a very strong perspective on this.
SCIUTTO: There's a temptation to look at election meddling as an issue of the past. The fact is, in public testimony, you hear this from Senior Intelligence Officials that Russia continues to attempt to hack probe election systems, political organizations. Are you concerned that President Trump is not taking the threat of further attacks on the U.S. democratic system seriously enough?
KINZINGER: Sure it's a concern. I know his administration is. I've talked to a lot of folks in the administration, very high-up folks in the administration who say, they're taking this very seriously. We're formulating plans to counter it. Look, Vladimir Putin fears his own election and losing that more than anything. So he's playing with fire on a lot of this. I think the President needs to make stronger statements on it though. Again, this isn't -- there's all this talk about who won, who didn't win. President Trump won and he won rightly by getting the vast majority of the electors. He's a legitimate President and I'm glad he's there. But you look at 2018 fine, whatever happens there 2020. I worry about not the next election. I worry about people's faith in the institution of democracy. Because as I mentioned prior, if you start losing faith that your voice is being heard and I think a lot of people feel that way already. But if you feel that is coming, then that's when you lose faith in the institution and that is how societies break down.
[17:55:04] SCIUTTO: That's a -- that's an alarming prospect, Congressman KINZINGER, thanks very much. Coming up, breaking news. We're getting new information about Russia's efforts to spy inside the U.S. I'll talk to the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about that and more about the President's latest refusal to accept the U.S. intelligence assessment that it was Russia, it was behind the election meddling. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCIUTTO: Happening now, breaking news, tense protests. Violence erupts at a demonstration of the G20 Summit in Germany. Police are pelted with bottles and smoke bombs and they turned water cannons on angry crowds to break them up. Will there be more clashes?