Return to Transcripts main page
Now: Trump & Putin Hold Face-to-Face Meeting. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 7, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. As we speak, U.S. president, Donald Trump and Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, they are about to sit down for their first official meeting, this meeting about to begin any minute. We expect to see pictures of it when it does happen. One of the most anticipated meetings of the year.
Now, they did shake hands earlier today. You are seeing these images of them in a group setting. This may have been the first time the two men ever met, although, President Trump, during the campaign, said clearly that he had met Vladimir Putin in the past. He changed that story as the campaign went on and went into office. So, right now, the official White House version is what you are seeing there, is the first time the men ever shook hands. And when they sit down to talk, this will be the first discussion they have at stake on conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, trade in Europe and Asia, domestic politics in the U.S. and Russia and spying, very real questions about past, present and future intelligence operations by the Russians maybe even in the 2016 U.S. election. Will President Trump bring that up in this meeting?
Again, you can see they met right there briefly, this sit-down any minute. We did see a class photo with all the world leaders. They gather there. You can see President Trump on the left, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the host of the gathering in red, at the center. Last hour, President Trump met with Mexico's leader, a very, very busy day. During this meeting at the end, President Trump said something he hasn't said for some time that absolutely, Mexico will pay for the wall that he wants to build along the border between U.S. and Mexico, a very, very busy morning, one very much in anticipation of the big meeting about to take place.
We're covering every angle with this. Let's begin with CNN White House correspondent, Sarah Murray in Hamburg. Sarah?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John. As you pointed out, they had a sort of a grip and grin, President Trump and Putin. This formal bilateral meeting is slated to start any minute now. And let's adjust our expectations a little bit. This is not scheduled to be a particularly lengthy meeting, about 30-40 minutes. But it is going to be an intimate one. We are expecting Trump and Putin to be in the room as well as two translators. And each of them will also have a top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who has a long standing relationship with President Putin from his career before he came into this administration, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Now, what is going to come up? That is the huge question, whether Trump brings up Russian election meddling, whether he take the firm line on that with Putin, other issue that could come up, navigating this crisis in North Korea, how to deal with them -- their acts of aggression. But also, Russia's actions when it comes to Ukraine and when it comes to Syria. The most interesting thing perhaps though about Trump on the world stage is not just how he deals with foreign leaders. They might have a more adversarial relationship with the U.S. but also how he deals with our allies. And that was certainly on full display when he met with Mexican president, Pena Nieto today. Listen to just a small bit of what happened in that meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're negotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico and we'll see how it all turns out, but I think that we've made very good progress. So it's great to be with you.
QUESTION: You want Mexico to pay for the wall?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: So you can hear reporters asking Trump whether Mexico is still going to pay for the wall. Trump says absolutely. Not the kind of thing that is going to sit particularly well with the Mexican president or his constituency back home. Back to you John.
BERMAN: No, not at all. All right, Sarah Murray, again, any minute now President Trump will meet with Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. While that's going on, CNN has new reporting about concerns in the U.S. Intelligence Community of stepped up efforts by the Russians spying here in the United States. Shimon Prokupecz reported that story with Evan Perez, Pamela Brown. Shimon joins us right now. What have you learned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. So, we've learned that Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the U.S. according to current and former U.S. Intelligence officials who say that have noticed an increase since the election. The Russians have not been stalled by retaliatory efforts after it meddled in the U.S. election according to the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Officials say they have been replenishing their ranks since the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying last December. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information. The FBI would not comment for the story and the Russian embassy didn't respond to a request for comment. John?
BERMAN: Shimon, I want to tell people by the way, we have just learned that Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, is in the room right now for the meeting with President Trump. President Trump due to arrive any second. We will keep you posted when he does arrive.
[10:05:02] In the meantime, you're reporting if U.S. Intelligence believes they know that Russia has stepped up its spying here in the United States. What, if anything, are they doing to stop it?
PROKUPECZ: Well, there are certain measures that are in place. But however, after the meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, both the Obama and Trump administrations have been slow to take measures to respond to the intelligence threats according to the current and former U.S. officials that we've spoke to.
And also, partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity and President Donald Trump's reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions about Russia's meddling in the election, a slowed effort to counter the threat. Another issue is an ongoing frustration within the State Department over the granting of visas to people the U.S. Intelligence suspect are intelligence officers. A State Department official would not comment specifically on the visa. And John, here is some of what's going on is that, you know, the FBI's Counter Intelligence division is keeping track of some of this activity.
BERMAN: All right, Shimon Prokupecz for us, interesting reporting, appreciate it. I want to discuss all of this and the fact that President Trump and President Putin due to meet any second right now, Vladimir Putin in the room.
Joining me, Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst, former assistant secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Ambassador Norm Eisen is CNN contributor and retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst, former spokesperson of both the State Department and the Pentagon.
Admiral, again, we know Vladimir Putin is in the room for this meeting, which is different by the way than some of his meetings in the past. He's known to keep leaders waiting for meetings. He arrived there first this time. I'm sure that's a sign of something. Frankly, I don't know. One of the things I have heard from people who've worked for Secretary of State, John Kerry, like you, is that sometimes when you meet with Vladimir Putin, the meetings begin with a diatribe really, you know, recounting of U.S./Russian or Soviet history, more of a lecture than a conversation.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: That's exactly right. And that's why the meetings with Vladimir Putin tend to go longer. I would not be surprised even though this is only scheduled for 30 to 40 minutes, if it goes quite a bit longer.
He will start and he'll have a list of grievances that go all the way back to Afghanistan in the '70s and the Iraq War invasion under President Bush and basically, blame all the deals, particularly in the Middle East region, on the United States and on the way that his country feels pressured by the left. So, yes, he'll do that, hopefully. And I'm sure that they have prepped President Trump to also have an opening statement of his own and lay down some of the markers on the things that he wants to talk about and things that he wants to do to kind of put the bilateral relationship with Russia on a better track.
BERMAN: Juliette Kayyem, I think we should not be surprised if President Trump, in some form or fraction, brings up Russian election meddling. I think in some ways, the White House has intentionally set the bar low so they can exceed it. What message should President Trump send on that front and overall in this first discussion he has with the Russian leader?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, John, you may be right and that they will come out and at least, from what they say, the Trump administration will argue we did bring up the Russian meddling. I would not focus on 2016 at this stage. It's too fraught for both, the Trump White House as well as for Putin, but focus on 2018 and 2020. One aspect is naming and shaming it.
President Trump has to be more direct, at least privately. Though we know he isn't publicly. But he believes its Russia and only Russia that -- sort of played with our democratic elections and then what will be in place if they are perceived to be doing it again, including increased sanctions and keeping sanctions in place.
I will say it's a failure of Trump to mention this, if that is the fact. I think a strong argument will be made that President Trump will be enabling Putin to do more of his shenanigans in 2018 and 2020. In other words, this is the moment. There are no other issue matters. This is the moment. And if he fails to do it, it will enable Putin in the future.
BERMAN: Well, the CNN reporting over the last 24 hours is that the Russians stepped up their intelligence efforts in the United States because of the lack of retaliation by both presidents, President Obama and Trump. So, could you make the case that the actions over the last -- let's say, eight months, right up until yesterday when President Trump said nobody knows for sure whether the Russians meddled. Could you make the case that has enabled Russian intelligence efforts, Juliette?
KAYYEM: Yes. We have done absolutely nothing. And I'll focus on President Trump because President Obama ended with sanctions, but he's no longer president. We'll focus on President Trump since January. There's nothing, if you are Russia, if you are Putin that would make you think they actually care about this issue. In other words, that they are concerned about it. That they are going to increase sanctions that they actually believe that Russia was involved with our elections.
[10:10:00] So, as I've said, you know this is the only issue that really should matter to the Trump White House at this stage. BERMAN: Well, I'm not sure if it's the only issue in dealing with Vladimir Putin, Ambassador Eisen. Moments ago, Vladimir Putin made a statement about North Korea, which is also an area of extraordinary interest for the U.S. right now and the entire world with the first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Vladimir Putin says, we should not lose self-control and we need to act pragmatically and very carefully, perhaps trying to put the restraint on a possible U.S. response there, North Korea just one aspect, Syria another hot spot that the U.S. wants to deal with Russia on. What should President Trump try to get from this first meeting with Vladimir Putin, Ambassador?
AMBASSADOR NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he has --
BERMAN: All right, hang on one second, guys. We are seeing our first pictures of the two in the room. Let's listen.
TRUMP: President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it's going very well. We've had some very, very good talks. We're going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned. And it's an honor to be with you. Thank you.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (via translator): Your Excellency Mr. President, we spoke over the phone with you several times before -- on very important bilateral and international issues. Phone conversation is never enough. That we go on to have a quality development bilateral and be able to resolve most (INAUDIBLE) international (INAUDIBLE) -- Definitely, we need personal meeting. I'm delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President. And I hope as you have said, our meeting will be on positive results.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, that's it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. There you have it. The first pictures of what we believe to be the first official meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. President Trump saying he looks forward to some very positive things coming out of this discussion. Although he did not deliver any specifics about what those very positive things would be. He said it's an honor to meet the Russian leader.
Vladimir Putin, for his part, I had a little bit of difficult time picking up the translation. But he did say one conversation is never enough. He looks forward to, I think, to a series of bilateral discussions with the president over time. He said it was an honor to meet with President Trump personally.
You can see them sitting in their chairs, right there, people wondering about the body language. Obviously, they both seem perfectly comfortable there. I don't think too much can be made about it. They shook hands several times there, joined again by several people.
Ambassador Norm Eisen is with us. Ambassador, what do you make of it?
EISEN: Well, in these -- bilateral engagements, you always have an exchange of pleasantries with the press present at the beginning. You listen in diplomacy for the nuance and the under tones. And the thing that was missing in President Trump's pleasantries, the same that was missing when he spoke to the Polish people. He didn't confront. He only embraced.
[10:15:01] There is a series of issues open with Poland. And obviously, there are series of enormous issues with Russia, places where we can possibly work together, but tensions, above all, relating to the Russian attack on our democracy. If I were briefing him, what I was listening for was a subtle undertone, just a sentencing and, of course, we have difficult challenges to discuss as well. That was missing and given the gravity of the Russian assault on our democratic processes. That is a disturbing omission to me.
BERMAN: All right. Admiral Kirby, obviously in your experience in the State Department and Pentagon, you heard what the Ambassador just said there. President Trump -- this is a very brief moment. We caught it live. We saw it happening as it took place. The pleasantries that were exchanged, again, President Trump saying, he look forward to very positive things, but no confrontation in that very brief moment, Admiral. Would that have been the right time for it?
KIRBY: Well -- I agree with the ambassador. Look, these opening statements were you know, mark one, mod zero, pull-off the shelf kind of opening statements on both sides.
KIRBY: But I do think the Ambassador makes a very good point and sitting through many of these with John Kerry. I could tell you, he always made a point of saying, look, we have areas where we disagree and we're going to talk about those and sometimes he would name them.
It's OK to do that. And it doesn't set a negative tone for the meeting. I mean, Putin knows that the United States and Russia are not on the same page on any number of things. So, I do agree with the Ambassador. I think it would have been a good opportunity for him to say, look, you know there are things we can move forward on. There are things we still have issues with. We're going to have to work through those.
BERMAN: All right. This meeting, by the way, they're now behind closed-doors, scheduled to go on for 35 or 45 minutes. Perhaps could go longer. That may be a sign of how much the two leaders discuss.
We are joined by our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, as part of this conversation. We heard what the president said and did not say. He talked about very positive things being discussed, did not mention the word challenges, Nic, but what about Vladimir Putin's side? I was struck by the fact that he almost tried to diminish the significance of these meetings by saying one conversation is never enough.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDIROT: You know the Kremlin have sort of really, if you like, telegraphed that that would be coming. Because they have said there wouldn't be enough time at this meeting to get into a full discussion about Ukraine. But essentially, for President Trump to fully understand what it is Russia believes is the real situation in Ukraine and the real necessity of their involvement there.
So, you know, that was already sort of framed by the Kremlin. But I think there was a line there from President Trump that would be valued by the Kremlin when he said it's an honor to be there to meet President Putin. This is what President Putin wants. He does want to be valued on the international stage as someone who in global affairs plays a significant role.
And one of the things that they are expected to discuss is Syria. And Russia has been making overtures -- repeated overtures toward the United States to work together to counterterrorism inside Syria. And this is a narrative, of course, that is important to President Trump. It is a very serious and significant threat, ISIS and the bigger the global coalition against it, the better. Of course, that has to be weighed against the fact that when Russia says it's targeting ISIS and Syria, we understand and know that there are more supporting the presidency of Bashar al-Assad and they are targeting ISIS in that country.
So, all these things certainly have to be weighed and balanced, but for the Russians to be recognized as a valuable player in the world stage is something that they would like to be at a take away from this meeting. But absolutely, the Kremlin really prepared the ground that really, President Putin won't have enough time to get all his points across.
BERMAN: Again, 35 to 40 minutes. What we are expecting. Maybe it will go longer. We'll watch that very carefully. One of the things that I picked up on, the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin said how happy he was to meet President Trump personally, indicating that it was the first time, the two leaders have met. Of course, President Trump, then candidate-Trump during the campaign, at least twice said the two had met before, although he backed off that. I guess we seem the two know now that hadn't happen.
Juliette Kayyem, again, those were just the first moments, the first time that we heard the two of them speak. How much preparation or how carefully will an administration prepare a president going into a meeting like this?
KAYYEM: Well, extensively. I mean, there's no doubt that the career national security staff, the national security team at the White House has provided President Trump with the information, the talking points, the priorities, what should be said and not said. But as we have been saying for many years now, whether President Trump absorbs that and relates it or goes by his own sense of how he wants the meeting to go is a work in progress.
[10:20:04] So, he's fully prepped in the sense that he has access to the information about what the priorities should be for the United States, the election, Syria, other issues. But, nonetheless, we won't know what's happening in that meeting. It's a small meeting. The readout will be probably well coordinated. And we will see. But the tone, you know, he used words -- President Trump used words like good, well, positive. He's setting a tone for that meeting, which is probably won't get to the hard issues.
I should also note that while we are watching these two, the rest of the G20 is meeting and talking about climate change and climate change adaptation. So, we are focused on this, the rest of the world moving on, right? I mean, in other words, they are dealing with major global issues which Russia and the United States, once superpowers are -- I don't want to say bit players -- that's too strong, but are not relevant to some of the major dynamics between China, Europe and other countries.
BERMAN: You know, Ambassador, President Trump made a point of saying that he looked forward to talking about positive things. I know you were critical of the fact you didn't also bring up the idea of discussing the challenges. But what would be the positive things, Ambassador, in your mind that the two leaders could and should be discussing right now?
EISEN: Well, even when you have a challenging relationship like we do at the moment with Russia. That's been consistent through administrations of both parties. There are always places, John, where you can find room to work together. So, we know that the president places enormous priority on trade. We can talk about trade issues. We do have a common interest, whether we can actually get to a common policy, I don't know. But there are shared interests in finding the solution to North Korea. That's probably the most pressing area in the world.
And I think when President Trump is talking about positive things, how can we work forward there or in the battle against ISIS? But these are complicated and it's like playing multidimensional chess. Because you both got to move your positive pieces forward on the board, but also, on the other hand, have to be tough on things like the Russian intrusion on our election, the Crimean situation, Ukraine where there continues to be problems, potential sanctions, bill moving through Congress. The art of diplomacy is maximizing, recognizing you have a limited amount of credit. How do you maximize that credit to advance the interest of the United States and the world and that is the challenge Trump is confronting in that room.
BERMAN: All right. Admiral Kirby, the two men behind closed-doors, right now, along with the foreign minister, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Sergey Lavrov, up from the Russian side. When this meeting concludes, how will the messages be coordinated by Russia and the United States? How will we learn or how, typically, in the past, have we learned about what happened inside?
KIRBY: It's usually a couple different ways this happens, John. Sometimes there's a joint read out where both sides will craft a document, couple of paragraphs long that you know, that they issue on paper. Sometimes there's a presser or a statement to press afterward. In this case, you could see maybe Lavrov and Tillerson going to the cameras. I doubt the two presidents will or sometimes you just do it individually. Where Tillerson will go talk to American press. Lavrov will go talk to Russian press. And you kind of have to sort of stitch the scenes between what they each say.
I suspect that there will be some sort of written readout, just from the State Department. And then, hopefully, Tillerson will talk to the American press about how it went. You can bet, darn sure, that Lavrov is going to talk to the media right after this meeting. I mean, usually the first thing he does when he closes the door behind him is goes and finds a camera so that you can get the Russian perspective out there. I hope that Secretary Tillerson is just as quick and just as transparent when it's over.
BERMAN: One of the things we have seen, Nic Robertson, over the course of morning is just how comfortable the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin is in the setting. You can see it right there with these images of the two world leaders sitting right there. Vladimir Putin, you know, has done this before. Earlier in the day, he was sort of floating through the G20, speaking comfortably with Angela Merkel, we believe in German. They both speak that fluently. It could be in Russian. They both speak that too as well as other world leaders. He does seem to be in a comfort zone here, Nic.
ROBERTSON: Well, he certainly wants to project that image. But his relationship with Angela Merkel is quite a frosty one as well. I mean, there was, a few years ago, a degree of trust. Angela Merkel thought that she could trust him. But really, Putin destroyed that trust that Angela Merkel had with him over Ukraine.
So, you know, Putin plays a role here. He knows how to play the part. But it has been interesting to see what the Kremlin has done sort of trying to position him as a sort of player in step with the other big players of the G20 that he's on the same page on climate change.
[10:25:11] That he supports the Paris climate accord. That he is in the same position as Germany on globalization. The Germans believe that there should be a win/win, workers and bosses should do well out of globalization. Angela Merkel said she believes that America, President Trump wants a system where only the bosses do well. On free trade, President Putin has been positioned by the Kremlin as being pro-free trade and against protectionism.
So, you know, there's a very careful narrative coming out from the Kremlin to make him look like a centrist. But this is a guy who's annexed Crimea, whose forces have gone into Ukraine, who supports Bashar al-Assad and Iran and Syria. So, in many aspects, he is still a relative pariah in that room and he knows it, that he is a convincing actor as well, it certainly seems to appear comfortable and at ease with people. He is very much in substantial ways at odds with.
BERMAN: All right. Again, these were the first pictures, just prior to the meeting which is taking place as we speak between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Nic Robertson, Juliette Kayyem, Ambassador Norm Eisen, Admiral John Kirby, thank you so much for being with us, helping us understand the very brief exchange the diplomatic analysis. Fascinating, really appreciate it. That's going on inside. Outside in Hamburg, there have been protests over the last 24 hours. Well over 100 police have been injured. We'll get an update on that, coming up.