Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Police, Demonstrators Clash at G20 Protest; Tillerson, Lavrov Only Officials to Attend Trump-Putin Meeting; Russia Steps Up Spying Efforts after Election; Clapper: No Evidence Anyone Other than Russia Involved in Meddling; CNN: Russia Steps Up Spying Efforts After Election. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST (voice-over): 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 turn water cannons on angry crowds to break them up.
Will there be more clashes?
Russian spies: sources tell CNN that Russian agents are ramping up espionage efforts inside the United States in the wake of the presidential race with what is described as aggressive new intelligence gathering.
"Nobody really knows." President Trump casts fresh doubt on Moscow's meddling on the campaign, questioning the unanimous consensus of the U.S. intelligence community. We will talk a lot more about it with the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
And "severe things." President Trump accuses North Korea of behaving very dangerously and says that he is thinking about severe consequences for the Kim regime, though he won't say what they are.
Are the president and the Pentagon on the same page?
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Sciutto. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
SCIUTTO: Breaking news tonight. Fresh protests at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. New clashes have erupted between police in riot gear and some demonstrators, with police turning water cannons on the crowd to disperse them.
Also breaking, current and former U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN Russian spies have ramped up their intelligence gathering efforts inside the United States in the wake of the presidential election. One official says that Moscow has been emboldened by its successful interference in last year's campaign.
Ahead of his meeting tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump is again questioning whether Russia was actually behind the political hacking. Sources now tell CNN that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will be only other officials inside the room for the meeting.
And the president is suggesting that a military response to North Korea's latest missile test is possible, saying that he is thinking about, quote, "some pretty severe things."
But his own Defense Secretary, James Mattis, downplaying military action, warning that it would be, quote, "tragic on an unbelievable scale."
We're covering all of that and more this hour with our guests, including the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, as well as our correspondents and specialists also standing by.
Let's get right to the breaking news. CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Hamburg, Germany, for us at the scene of these violent clashes between police and G20 protesters.
Fred, what are you seeing there right now?
Protests, police presence still going on?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. We're actually right in the thick of things right here. You can see there's actually -- well, why not just take you over here because we are actually right sort of on the front lines between the protesters and the police.
You'll see there is a large police presence over here. There has been a standoff at the beginning of the demonstration, which was actually right here. We just saw a (INAUDIBLE) barricades a couple of minutes ago.
Right now it seems as though the protest march, which was supposed to have been done a couple of hours ago, it's still far from reaching the place that it wanted to reach. You can see over there the massive police presence on the side streets as well.
And you can probably also hear, Jim, that the mood is fairly charged here. There have been some clashes going on in the past couple of minutes. There is a lot of anger towards the police, as bottles flying toward the police officers. And then the police are responding with water trucks. So the atmosphere --
SCIUTTO: We just lost the signal there from Fred Pleitgen.
We will go now to our White House correspondent. President Trump meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 tomorrow. But Mr. Trump is casting fresh doubt on Moscow's meddling in the presidential race, this despite the consensus of the U.S. international community.
CNN senior White House correspondent traveling with the president.
We are learning new details about who will be in that room tomorrow for the meeting.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are, Jim, that's right. The secretary of state Rex Tillerson, his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, they will also be in the room with Vladimir Putin and President Trump. They will be the only four in the room besides the translators who will be for that big meeting tomorrow.
But, Wolf -- excuse me, Jim, the president is back overseas, throwing his weight around on the world stage, except it seems when it comes to the subject of Russia, an area where the president continues to tread very carefully.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The President of the United States once again contradicted the U.S. intelligence community assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.
ACOSTA (voice-over): At a news conference in Poland, President Trump held open the possibility that other countries were involved.
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.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But even as he insisted it was not clear --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- Moscow alone interfered in the election, the president tried to blame former President Obama for failing to stop the Russians.
TRUMP: He did nothing about it.
Why did he do nothing about it?
He was told it was Russia by the CIA, as I understand it. It was well reported and he did nothing about it.
ACOSTA (voice-over): While even some Democrats say the Obama administration didn't go far enough, Obama did confront Russian president Vladimir Putin directly last September.
And the Obama administration officially accused the Russian government of interfering in the election in October.
President Trump's uncertainty on the question runs completely counter to the U.S. intelligence community's analysis.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA.), SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Do you believe that the January 2017 intelligence community assessment accurately characterized the extent of Russian activities in the 2016 election and its conclusion that Russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the hacking and leaking of information and using misinformation in order to influence our elections?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also issued a stern warning to North Korea over its missile launch this week.
TRUMP: I have some pretty severe things that we are thinking about. That doesn't mean we are going to do them. I don't draw red lines.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But later in a speech, the president did make a course correction of his own, stating his support for NATO's Article 5, that an attack on one of the alliance members is an attack on all, a stance he declined to take on his last foreign trip.
TRUMP: To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated, not merely with words but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.
ACOSTA (voice-over): And his next stop in Germany the president also made sure to shake the hand of German chancellor Angela Merkel something they did not do during a tense meeting in the Oval Office earlier this year, although they did at other times during that White House visit.
But it's his meeting with Vladimir Putin Friday that the whole world will be watching. A senior administration official said it is believed this will be Mr. Trump's first-ever face-to-face encounter with Putin. The president has given a range of answers on this question in the past.
TRUMP: I was in Moscow recently. And I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.
I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is. I have nothing to do with Putin. I've never spoken to him.
I have no relationship with Putin.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: But if you have no relationship with Putin then why did you say, in 2013, I do have a relationship?
In 2014 I spoke -- TRUMP: Because he has said nice things about me over the years.
ACOSTA: And there will be other encounters to watch here at the G20, especially any interaction between President Trump and China's President Xi, the president has complained that Xi has not done enough to rein in North Korea. But asked today if he's giving up on that relationship, the president said never give up.
And as for the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin, as we said earlier, it is going to be a small crowd in the room but it's not clear how much ground they are going to be covering in that meeting, Jim, as they will only have about an hour, perhaps even less than that, for this scheduled meeting -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: CNN's Jim Acosta in Hamburg, Germany, traveling with the president, thank you.
There is more breaking news tonight. CNN has new reporting about concern in the U.S. intelligence community over stepped-up Russian spying inside the U.S. in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
CNN justice correspondents Pamela Brown and Evan Perez are working the story along with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.
Pamela, tell us what you have learned.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we have learned that Russian spies have been ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the U.S. This is according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who say they've noticed the increase since the election.
And the officials that we have spoken with, some of them say that they believe one of the biggest -- U.S.' biggest adversaries has not been slowed by the retaliatory efforts after it meddled in the U.S. election, according to the U.S. Intelligence Committee.
In fact, since the election, U.S. and law enforcement agencies have detected an uptick in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the U.S. under the guise of other business.
Now officials we've spoken with say that they have been -- the Russians have been replenishing their ranks ever since the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying last December, as you'll recall.
And in some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence gathering efforts, these sources say. One former senior intelligence official familiar with the concerns described it as a, quote, "aggressive collection posture."
And the official added that the effort was undeterred by the election meddling success. The FBI, which, of course, is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the U.S., would not comment for this story. And requests for comments from the Russian embassy in the U.S. were not responded to -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Evan, if U.S. intelligence knows this, why aren't they stopping these suspected Russian operatives from entering the country?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, we are told that counterintelligence is actually seeking to keep an eye on this activity, Jim. In some cases, the FBI --
PEREZ: -- uses surveillance to track the suspected Russian intelligence officers as part of their counterintelligence effort. That was how the U.S. was able to identify and expel 35 Russian diplomats, accused of spying last December in response to the alleged Russian election meddling, according to officials we've talked to.
Now U.S. law enforcement officials do say that some of the Russian diplomats have violated protocol by leaving the Washington, D.C., area without notifying the State Department. Russia has similar rules, by the way, in place for U.S. diplomats in Russia.
And another issue is this ongoing frustration with the State Department over the granting of visas to people that the U.S. intelligence community suspects are actually intelligence officers. A State Department official would not comment specifically on the visas that have been issued, citing confidentiality under the Immigration Nationality Act.
The official simply said that they work with Russia where they can and, quote, "where we do not see eye to eye with Russia, the United States will continue to stand up for the interests and values of America, our allies and partners."
I should mention that the DHS, the Homeland Security Department would not comment on the Russian visas specifically but said that there is an extensive visa vetting process for granting those visas.
SCIUTTO: Pamela, final questions, why do your sources believe that this is happening now?
BROWN: Well, it's a few reasons, Jim. It is multipronged. Even after the meddling in the U.S. elections in 2016, the U.S. under Obama and now Trump have been slow to take measures to respond to the intelligence threat, current and former U.S. officials tell us.
And partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity and President Donald Trump's reluctance, as we heard today, to accept intelligence conclusions about Russia's meddling in the election has slowed efforts to counter this threat.
And it has created wider tensions with Russia as well. Remember one of the things the Obama administration did in retaliation was to shut down Russian diplomatic compounds in December. Russian officials have pressed the U.S. to return those facilities in a bid to improve relations.
One former administration official said that the U.S. watched as Russians removed suspected surveillance equipment from those compounds when they were evicted. Russia, as we know, has denied the compounds were ever being used for intelligence gathering.
But Russian experts we have spoken to, Jim, say as the relationship between Russia and the U.S. sours, the more Russians want to ramp up spy efforts to figure out the intentions and the plans of what they see as an adversarial government, particularly when there's a new president in office who Moscow views as unpredictable -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, thanks very much.
We are joined now by the former Director of National Intelligence. James Clapper served in that role from 2010 to 2017 and has more than four decades of experience in intelligence.
Thanks very much for taking the time with us today.
GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thanks. Thanks, Jim, for having me.
SCIUTTO: First, your reaction to this new CNN report. You said many times in public, while you were still in your role, that Russia was emboldened by its success in interfering in the U.S. election.
Do you believe that is what we are seeing here now, with this stepped- up espionage?
CLAPPER: I do, Jim. And again, I don't have any official access to classified information. But this certainly fits the standard Russian pattern, which comports with their behavior going back decades.
And they want to, I'm sure, repair the loss by virtue of the 35 intelligence operatives that were expelled by the Obama administration. And they just -- their general push, they are going to stretch the envelope as far as they can and collect information. And I think largely to -- if I could use the military phrase -- prep the battlefield for 2018 elections.
SCIUTTO: Prepping, you think; putting themselves in position for further attempts?
CLAPPER: I think they are here to reconnoiter and collect as much as they possibly can on the United States and -- whom they consider as their prime adversary.
SCIUTTO: Let's talk about the president's comment today. The President of the United States on foreign soil, visiting Poland as part of his European trip, once again cast doubt on Russia's role in the election meddling, saying it could have been -- could have been others. Interestingly, we played this earlier, echoing some of the comments we've heard from the Russian president himself.
You, in your position as Director of National Intelligence, oversaw the entire U.S. intelligence community.
In your view, is there any doubt about Russia's role?
CLAPPER: Absolutely none. And that has been reaffirmed by those who are still in positions of responsibility in the intelligence community. There is absolutely no doubt about it. And the high confidence levels, the multiple sources of information we had and its high fidelity still leave me very convinced of the veracity of that report.
SCIUTTO: I want to play, if I can, some of the president's comments because he implied in his statements that there was disagreement within the intelligence community as well as making other accusations.
SCIUTTO: Let's have a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You again state you think it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was Russia.
Why won't you agree with them and say it was?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'll tell you, let me start off by saying I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, boy, that is a lot.
Do we even have that many intelligence agencies, right?
Let's check it.
And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn't 17. And many of your compatriots had to change their reporting and they had to apologize and they had to correct.
Now with that being said, mistakes have been made. I agree. I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement.
Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure. 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.
That led to one big mess. They were wrong. And it led to a mess. 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, if he did nothing about it and it wasn't because he choked? (END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: There is a lot to unwrap there because he leveled a lot of charges in the way of the U.S. intelligence community. But first on the big picture, In a foreign country next to a foreign leader the day before he meets Russia, the president of Russia, did he just throw the U.S. intelligence community under the bus?
CLAPPER: Well, it is hard not to reach that conclusion that, exactly so. First of all, on the number of components in the international community, yes, there are 17; the 16 components by law plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
When then president-elect Trump was briefed on this on the 6th of January, there were four of us -- meaning the directors of NSA, FBI and CIA and myself. That's all. And we explained who did the report.
So how this narrative got out there about 17 components being involved, I don't know. But the report itself makes it clear that it was the three agencies plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that put this intelligence community assessment together.
As far as others doing this, boy, that's news to me. We saw no evidence whatsoever there was other -- there was anyone involved in this other than the Russians.
As far as the infamous weapons of mass destruction, the national intelligence assessment that was done in October of 2002, I remember it because my fingerprints were on it. It was 15 years ago. The intelligence community has done a lot of things to make sure that never happens again.
And so, yes, it's true; that was a big mistake. But we have learned from it and inserted -- the intelligence community has, I should say -- injected a lot of safeguards to prevent that from ever happening again.
And because of that experience and my having lived through it, that is why my confidence level is so high and the veracity and the fidelity of the information that went into that international community assessment.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because, as you mentioned the agencies, specific agencies, who were involved in collecting intelligence for this assessment; the NSA monitors international communications; the CIA, of course, monitors foreign governments; FBI, handling threats to the homeland, illegal activity here and, of course, ODNI, which oversees it all.
Folks at home might know that some of the other of 17 intelligence agencies include things like Coast Guard intelligence or the Drug Enforcement Agency's intelligence wing, the Department of Energy's intelligence branch.
As director of national intelligence, when you are making a hacking assessment, an assessment about a cyber attack, is there any reason why you would call on the Coast Guard or the DEA or the DOE to pipe in?
CLAPPER: The reason that we limited it to those three agencies plus my office was the three agencies were the only ones that could really contribute and -- to this report and because of the great sensitivity of some of the sources that we depended on to make that assessment.
And so others -- and because of the short timeline we had to get it done because President Obama mandated it be done before the end of his administration.
There are other components in the international community that have absolutely no way to contribute to such a report. The National Reconnaissance Office, which is one of the 17 components in the international community, has no substantive analytic responsibility or capability. So it would not be included.
Nor would the services in the military services, the --
CLAPPER: -- to include the Coast Guard, really wouldn't have anything to contribute to this.
So because of the sensitivity, which -- of the accesses, the sources, we wanted to restrict that. And because of the timeline, we did not have all components participate.
SCIUTTO: Bottom line, though, without those 17 agencies, do you have any doubt or was there any objection from inside the intelligence community on that conclusion that Russia was behind these attacks?
CLAPPER: Absolutely none. And I don't have any doubt yet today.
SCIUTTO: So let's go to the meeting tomorrow. You have Trump meeting Putin. Putin himself has repeatedly denied involvement in these hacks and has often cited President Trump's own expressions of doubt to bolster his own position.
So to have President Trump, the day before that meeting with Putin, again express those doubts, does it give Putin ammunition?
CLAPPER: Well, certainly it does. It gives him, I think, reassurance and also I think it actually encourages him to keep doing what he is doing. And if these reports, which I have no doubt about, about their stepped-up pace of intelligence collection in this country, I think bear that out.
So as long as we don't push back with the Russians and take the necessary measures to foreclose, they are going to continue.
SCIUTTO: Folks at home might not know that you served as a military intelligence officer going back to the '60s, I believe, right up to really the nation's senior-most spy. So you have seen it from top to bottom.
Tell me how statements like that -- and, again, it's not the first time President Trump has undermined the credibility of the U.S. intelligence agencies.
How does that affect the rank-and-file members -- ?
CLAPPER: Well, it doesn't help. But I believe that the intelligence community and the men and women in it are pretty resilient. And they will do their duty, as they know it to be.
And so it certainly doesn't help with the morale, I don't think. But I am absolutely convinced of the professionalism of the intelligence community and the men and women in it. And they will continue to do their duty and do what they can to tell truth to power, whether the power receives it or not.
SCIUTTO: President Trump, of course, has also raised public questions about the other line of inquiry in the Russia investigation, a whole host of questions, including whether there was possible collusion. He's referred to this entirely as a witch hunt.
Should the American people see that investigation as a witch hunt?
CLAPPER: Well -- excuse me -- I don't think so. I think just the opposite. I think it's in the best interest of this country, the best interest of the president, the best interest of both parties to get to the bottom of this. And that is why I had great hope for special counsel Bob Mueller, who I think is a brilliant choice for that, to get to the bottom of this and clear the air once and for all.
SCIUTTO: I get the sense -- and I speak and I'm sure you do to -- I speak to my family, I speak to friends and sometimes they'll ask me, well, where is this investigation going?
And we don't know where it is going to end up.
But can you explain to the American people why it is important to continue to go down all these paths, wherever they lead, even if they lead to nowhere at the end?
CLAPPER: Well, I think truth is a great virtue. And I think we need to get to the truth. The big picture, the big event here, of course, is the Russian interference in our election process, a fundamental pillar of this country, of our way of life.
And we should know the facts. And I say we, all of us, as a nation, should know the facts of what happened here.
And whether or not there was collusion or not, I don't know. But we need to find that out once and for all and to take whatever corrective actions that are necessary to prevent this in the future because the Russians, for their part, will keep at it.
SCIUTTO: Do you have doubt it they will try to interfere in the 2018 and 2020 elections?
CLAPPER: No doubt at all in my mind. And next time, they could go after Republicans, which I wish people would remember. This is an assault on us, our nation, our country, and regardless of party. And we need to get to the bottom of this and figure out what to do to prevent it in the future.
SCIUTTO: Director Clapper, please stay with us. We're going to have more time, more of our exclusive interview with the former Director of National Intelligence in a moment.
SCIUTTO: Breaking news: you are watching live pictures from the streets of Hamburg, Germany, where protesters there, anti- globalization protesters, clashing with police, big turnout of riot police.
This as leaders are gathered there for the G20 summit, including President Trump.
We are back with former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. And we want to talk to him about the crisis sparked by North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. President Trump said that he is weighing a response as we speak.
First, let's get the latest from CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, there really are no good options for the president when it comes to dealing with North Korea, particularly military options.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Military options, very difficult, Jim. But in a very rare instance today, here at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis shared publically for the first time his thinking about the North Korea situation and the launch.
STARR (voice-over): North Korea's new intercontinental ballistic missile rolled up to the launch pad, fired and changed the world for President Trump.
TRUMP: I don't draw red lines.
STARR (voice-over): After declaring the era of strategic patience is over, the North Korean threat is now a major issue at the G20 summit. President Trump trying to leave all options from sanctions to military action on the table.
TRUMP: I had some pretty severe things that we're thinking about.
STARR: In his first public statement, Defense Secretary James Mattis says diplomacy still is the priority in controlling North Korea's new missile launches.
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war, because the president has been very clear; and secretary of state has been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts.
STARR: The secretary has long warned that war with Kim Jong-un could lead to catastrophe.
MATTIS: As you know, if this goes to a military solution, it is going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale.
STARR: Military options have been updated for the president, but the problem is unchanged. A limited U.S. strike poses significant risk. Kim Jong-un could quickly attack Seoul, South Korea, killing millions.
BRUCE KLINGNER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We would have to be prepared to go all in, meaning an all-out Korean War.
STARR: The U.S. does have a limited missile defense capability on land and at sea, but there are questions about its reliability in some cases.
KLINGNER: The same situation applies even if we are to just take out one missile in mid-air, one missile on a launch stand. That could escalate to an all-out war.
STARR: The map is simple. North Korea has thousands of infantry forces and armor and artillery near the DMZ. Much of it, according to the Pentagon, in thousands of underground facilities and bunkers, ready to fire on Seoul at even the hint of an attack by the U.S., which is why Secretary Mattis also rules nothing out.
MATTIS: The military maintains military options for the commander in chief.
MARRIS: But, the essential challenge remains unchanged. The North Korean program is accelerating, and there are no signs that Kim Jong- un is even thinking about pulling back -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, thanks very much.
We're back now with former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
You just returned from South Korea. You also served there in the 1980s as an intelligence officer. Are there any doable, workable military options?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: None that I can think of.
I think the caution that secretary of defense Jim Mattis expressed is well put. I believe if we did some preemptory -- preemptory military action against North Korea, that they would, without deliberation, reflexively do what they vowed on more than one occasion, which is to change Seoul into a sea of fire. I think it would be a dreadful, reckless thing for us to do that.
So I believe that the only option is diplomacy. And when I was in Pyongyang three years ago to bring out a couple of our citizens and had some pretty intense and also pretty nasty exchanges with North Koreans. And I do believe the best hope here is to engage with them.
And frankly, I don't find their demand for or their want -- their desire for at least discussions about a peace treaty. All we had there is a 64-year-long armistice where we just stopped firing. Sitting in their shoes in Pyongyang, they -- I was amazed, frankly, at the siege mentality and the paranoia that exists in North Korea. Everywhere they look are enemies.
And so I think that I get all the rhetoric about things we're going to do. But I think the need to be very, very cautious about it initiating any kind of military action against North Korea because all that artillery they've got lined up against the DMZ will be unleashed in a heartbeat.
SCIUTTO: You're talking direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea?
CLAPPER: I am. I would have -- as I did in Seoul, with a speech I gave there, advocate we give some considerations, obviously, with coordination with the stakeholders, notably the Republican of Korea, to proposing an intersection in Pyongyang, much like we had in Havana for years to deal with a government we never recognized in Cuba.
SCIUTTO: So U.S. diplomatic presence inside North Korea?
CLAPPER: Exactly. It would achieve, I think, three objectives. One: to have in residence dialogue to gain a better understanding of what's going on in North Korea and, most importantly, perhaps, maybe more than the others, is conveying information into North Korea.
SCIUTTO: But let me ask you this, because the U.S. and other nations have spoken with North Korea before. They even made agreements, and North Korea has repeatedly violated those agreements. So how do you have faith in whatever product of those talks you...?
[18:35:08] CLAPPER: Well, you don't. And this is clearly a case of trust -- you know, trust but verify with them. I think the best we can hope for is getting them to a cap.
In other words, stop the testings in both the underground nuclear test as well as missile test in return for serious dialogue and perhaps moving towards a peace treaty. That would also serve to deflate one of their major arguments that they make, particularly to their domestic audience, about why they need to have a fortress and spend this grotesque investment in things military North Korea at the great expense of their people.
SCIUTTO: But you're saying the U.S. could -- even should get to the place where it recognizes North Korea's nuclear power and maybe caps but lives with them having nuclear weapon intercontinental ballistic missiles?
CLAPPER: I think the train has left the station a long time ago on whether or not North Korea will denuclearize. It was made abundantly clear to me when I was there there was no way they were going to denuclearize. That was my first White House issue talking point, was "You must denuclearize." Well, that was a nonstarter.
And they've gone to school on the likes of Moammar Gadhafi, and they saw what happened to him when he negotiated away his weapons of mass destruction. They went to school on that, and they're not going to willingly or voluntarily give up nuclear weapons.
SCIUTTO: Director Clapper...
CLAPPER: It's their ticket to survival.
SCIUTTO: Director Clapper, thanks very much for taking the time.
CLAPPER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: Appreciate it.
Breaking news just ahead. We're following fresh protests tonight at the G-20 summit in Germany and clashes between police and demonstrators there. Plus, our new reporting tonight about increased Russian spying inside the U.S. Will it come up when President Trump meets Vladimir Putin tomorrow?
[18:41:36] SCIUTTO: President Trump is once again questioning the U.S. intelligence consensus that Russia was behind cyber-attacks designed to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Ahead of his highly-anticipated meeting face-to-face with Vladimir Putin tomorrow, Mr. Trump said, "Nobody really knows" who's responsible for the interference, adding that it could have been others.
Let's dig deeper now with our specialists and analysts. Of course, I just spoke with the former director of national intelligence now, James Clapper, who oversaw these assessments and the agencies who made this judgment. John Kirby, his words: he said Russia is, in fact, prepping the battlefield for interfering in elections in 2018 and 2020. That's an alarming prospect.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: It is, but I completely agree with him. I think it is absolutely right. And they believe they got away with it in 2016, so why wouldn't they want to try?
And look, you know, Ukraine 2014. Germany this year. Maybe even France in their presidential elections this year. It's not like the Russians don't have experience in this and are going to keep sharpening that experience and use it again. SCIUTTO: Matt Rosenberg, you cover this beat closely, as I do. Let's
dispel this notion for a moment that this is a partisan judgment here, that it's Democrats who think Russia did it, and Russia didn't. The fact is, this is bipartisan, and it's intel-community-wide. Is it not?
MATT ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's throughout the entire intelligence community. Every official, and now officials that are in the Trump administration, have said, "Yes, we believe Russia sought to interfere in the presidential election," and they're still trying; and they're still laying ground work for future interference.
You know, I think the president and people around him are going to have to reckon with the fact that Vladimir Putin does not share their interests. He shares Russia's interests. And that in 2016, that was hurting Hillary Clinton probably, and maybe helping President Trump. It may not be that way in 2018. And that if the goal here is simply to undermine America, well, you run America now. So you're going to have to figure out how to stop that at some point.
SCIUTTO: David Chalian, the president again today raised this prospect that others could have done this, going back to, you know, the 400-pound guy on his -- on his sofa. So I asked Director Clapper, who again, top spy in the country, oversaw the agencies who did this report, has seen, literally, all the classified intelligence. He said he's seen no evidence that others have done this. The president has been briefed on this repeatedly. Why does he say that?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: What I think is even more alarming than not acknowledging, just flat-out, full stop, the Russians did this, is the fact that he seems to not at all think that it was a significant development, that it was sort of run-of-the-mill, that this happens all the time, that it's been happening for years.
I understand that there has been interference in the past. I'm not suggesting it's the first time. But that tone from the president today suggests to me that the battlefield that's being prepared that Clapper told you about is not at all a battle that Donald Trump is interested in fighting.
And so what does that mean for the sanctity and freedom of our elections, of the United States elections here at home, if the leader of the country really doesn't see it as a significant development? That, to me, is far more alarming than -- than him coming out with some definitive statement that Russia did it in the last election. It's his lack of interest in protecting it for the future elections.
SCIUTTO: And on the eve of sitting down face-to-face with a man that the U.S. intelligence community assessed, with confidence, directed these attacks.
Rebecca Berg, I want to play some sound of Trump today and some sound of Vladimir Putin and compare how they speak about the hacking. Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it was Russia. I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.
[18:45:02] 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. I won't be specific.
But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it's been happening for a long time. It has 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 on to Russia. Could you accept that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Putin and Trump there virtually on message about Russian hacking undermining the intelligence community's assessment.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. For different reasons, of course. Vladimir Putin's incentive was to influence the U.S. election. Donald Trump's incentive, to keep brushing this aside, dismissing it. It's much more personal.
He feels or has suggested that he feels that this delegitimizes his presidency in some sense. And so, he just doesn't want to address it because it is so personal for him. And then he also has this deep skepticism of the intelligence community and their assessment, which I think is also reflected in his approach to this.
But if Donald Trump campaigned on being this strong leader who would show strength towards other countries and towards countries who would antagonize the United States, this is sort of the opposite of that. We had a country directly trying to influence and interfere in our elections and he is just doing nothing, saying nothing.
SCIUTTO: John Kirby, you are aware of CNN's new reporting that there's evidence of increased, in fact, Russian espionage activity in the U.S. based in part, the assessment is, on their success in interfering in the 2016 election.
You served in government. You dealt with national security threats for some time. If the president of the United States will not acknowledge, one, the perpetrator, but two, and the seriousness of this, what is your confidence that this administration is going to fight this increased Russian espionage?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Little, little confidence at all. I mean, clearly, they are turning their back on this. The Russians have always had an espionage effort here. That's not new. But they obviously feel emboldened by their success.
They're also -- some of this is retaliation. They are still angry that we kicked out 35 of their diplomats and shut down their spying compounds in Maryland. And some of it also is I think the unpredictability of Trump. I think it's a little bit of buyer's remorse. Now, they got this guy that they helped to get elected, and they're not sure which way he is going.
And to Matt's excellent point, we've got two elections coming up and this administration may not be on the winning side of Russia's espionage efforts and interference.
SCIUTTO: David and Matthew, you have to help me understand the politics a little bit here. I mean, this is the Republican Party. This is the party of Reagan, right? He built his name and reputation on standing up to the Soviet Union, tear down that wall, et cetera.
And yet, you've had this remarkable turn among Republican base that they used to view Russia as a threat a couple of years ago. Now, they view it more as a friend, deep doubts among the Republican base about the veracity of this investigation, et cetera. Explain to me the politics. I mean, is this a winner for Donald Trump?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's certainly a winner with his base because he portrays it as battle against the media, not really necessarily on the substance. But that certainly is a winner for Donald Trump with his base.
I do think, though, that when you are looking at politics, it's not uniformly across Republican Party, which is why his scripted speech today actually had very tough language for Russia and was exactly the kind of language that you would expect the Republican Party establishment, foreign policy thinking establishment, especially from the more hawkish side, let's say, would put into a speech. That was on the prepared, vetted, written speech for the president --
SCIUTTO: But on Ukraine, not on the election meddling?
CHALIAN: Yes. But when in a press conference and he is free wheeling with his own thoughts, you get such a different side of what Donald Trump is thinking that is not at all in alignment with the orthodoxy of the Republican --
KIRBY: And there's no election meddling on the speech, too.
SCIUTTO: Yes, exactly. That was on scripted.
So, you have a face-to-face tomorrow where Trump can say whatever he wants. I mean, we know he has a briefing booked. We know he has prepared notes and talking points, et cetera. But in fact, when you look at previous meetings, for instance, with the Russian foreign minister a short time ago, there were some off the cuff remarks one might say.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I'm sure there are people who are just praying, read this briefing books, sticks to the script, because when he met the Russian foreign minister, you know, he's in there. He is smiling with them, talking about firing the FBI director, the guy was crazy, he's a nut job, whatever he said. They don't want a repeat of that.
But Trump does kind of go off the script and Putin is really good at working with people. Remember, George Bush said, he saw into his soul, or something? You know, Putin has charmed the leaders before and let's see what happens with Trump.
[18:50:01] KIRBY: And, look, these bilats smaller now than we thought originally it was going to be. When I first heard it was a bilat, I thought it was going to be what I had seen in the past when you have eight, ten people at the table. Now, it is going to be the two presidents and their foreign ministers and maybe a note-taker or two.
That gives him more freedom to be a little bit more at free play, and I think that is dangerous.
BERG: And Matt makes an excellent point about Vladimir Putin being able to charm Donald Trump because we've already sort of seen that in action during the campaign, when Vladimir Putin complimented Trump, praised him, said he was, you know, very smart, doing a great job, and Donald Trump responded, well, Vladimir Putin, he must be a smart guy and responded very positively to that.
TRUMP: But he said, he said nice things about me.
Listen, Rebecca, John, David, Matt, thanks as always.
Stay with us. There's more right after this.
[18:55:12] SCIUTTO: This Sunday night, CNN presents the new original series "The Nineties", exploring the decade that brought us the Clintons, dial-up modems, Nirvana, Seinfeld and the spectacle that gripped the nation, the O.J. Simpson trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The O.J. Simpson case was such a national phenomenon that those of us who were covering it just lived this case 24 hours a day because there was so much demand for people talking about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Simpson struggled to slide the gloves on to his hands and turned towards jurors saying, they're too small, prosecutors were incensed.
TODD BOYD: The trial was on television during the hours that had traditionally been the time for soap operas. And O.J. was very much a soap opera.
MARCIA CLARK, PROSECUTOR: He's impeached by his own witness.
F. LEE BAILEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You put a stop to it. Either put that
CLARK: Excuse me, Mr. Bailey. Stand up and speak when it is your turn.
MERRILL MARKOE, WRITER AND PRODUCER, LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: No question that the best TV show of the '90s was the O.J. Simpson trial and everybody on it was riveting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC News in depth tonight, the Simpson trial finally winding to a close.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above entitled action find the defendant Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder and violation of penal code section 187-A --
DAVID BIANCULLI, THE PLATINUM AGE OF TELEVISION: The verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial viewed by 150 million people. It's more people than watch presidential election returns. That's crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Toobin joins us now, certainly knows a thing or two about the O.J. Simpson trial. You covered it. Why such a phenomenon, well, in the decade, in the century, really?
TOOBIN: Well, think about this, brother Jim -- the O.J. case had everything that obsessed the American people. It had sex. It had race. It had violence. It had Hollywood. It had sports and the only eyewitness was a dog.
So, you know, what more did you need? And it was on television. And it was on CNN. And one of the fascinating things about this documentary is that it points out that there was only CNN in 1994 and 1995. There was no MSNBC. There was no FOX News. And both of them were started in part in response to the ratings that the O.J. case got.
SCIUTTO: And it's interesting. Race such a central role in this and sometimes we think that the divisions in the country today are somehow new, but this is -- that O.J. -- that chase we're seeing right now is more than 20 years ago.
TOOBIN: It's true. And, you know, what's so interesting about this documentary is that, you know, it is full of great clips from all the shows we like. But one of the points it makes that I hadn't really thought of is that the '80s were basically a sunnier time in America, even though the economy was good in the '90s. You know, the classic television show of the '80s was the "Cosby Show", which at least at the time seemed like this very happy view of America.
And the documentary makes the point that in the '90s, it really began with "The Simpsons" on television, which was much more cynical, "Seinfeld," which was also about, you know, these characters who were funny, but not terribly likable, and it finishes with "The Sopranos" who are nothing but dark and fascinating and fundamentally unlikable as well. And sort of that shift of television getting grittier and more, you know, realistic and darker is something that I hadn't really thought about. But the documentary certainly makes that case.
SCIUTTO: You're a lawyer as well. O.J. has a parole hearing later this month for a separate crime, armed robbery in 2007. A chance for parole here?
TOOBIN: You know, there is a chance. One of the things, you know, just like it's kind of shocking to think that Monica Lewinsky is in her early 40s now, O.J. Simpson is nearly 70 years old. And there are not many people that age still in prison.
He also got a very long sentence for a very peculiar crime. As I have said many times, I think he should be serving life in prison for killing Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown. But this case was a pretty bogus case. And, frankly, it seemed like this he might -- he might get out because he's already served quite a few years already.
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey, thanks very much.
The original series "The Nineties" airs this Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern Time and Pacific, only here on CNN.
I'm Jim Sciutto. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.