Return to Transcripts main page


Tillerson: Trump/Putin See North Korea Differently; Russian Citizens Respond to Trump/Putin Meeting; Tillerson: Trump Raised Election Hacks with Putin; G-20 Protests Trap Melania Trump in Hotel. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] MACKENZIE EAGLAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: -- was a new capability demonstrated for the first time, which means they have weapons that can reach American shores, namely Alaska, in this instance. And --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thus, the sense of urgency on behalf of the U.S.

EAGLAN: Absolutely, right. And there should be, on behalf of allies close to China, which would include Russia, because of the problems that would cause with any kind of regime change. Whether it was famine or fighting that took it down, it would pose massive headaches for the global economy and for China, in particular. And Russia should care about that.

BALDWIN: On China, I think it's important to point out that he said, specifically, that the U.S. hasn't given up hope on China. You know, there's just been a pause. The expectations for their help on North Korea have not changed.

But, Steve, let me move on to you.

Some of this reporting out of CNN on Russian spies coming to the U.S. They're ramping up. According to our sources, they're ramping up intel gathering efforts ahead of 2018, 2020. Can you tell me who they are? And what exactly are they looking to infiltrate?

STEVE HALL, RETIED CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: The Russians are always looking to maximize their intelligence collection capabilities inside the United States. You have to remember that of course at the end of the Obama administration, 35 Russian diplomats --

BALDWIN: Expelled.

HALL: -- most of the intelligence -- yes, were expelled. So they're going to try to rebuild that. It's especially important to the Russians during these times of uncertainty and in a new relationship with the United States to have as much information as they can. I would say alarmingly, though, we have increased information, I think, that the Russian intelligence officers are sort of, you know, spreading out across the country to look at critical U.S. infrastructure. And this is why it's so important to pay attention to the cyber piece of this, and why I'm concerned when we hear things like, well, there's going to be some sort of big agreement on cyber security with Russia.

A key component of Russia's geopolitical goals and strategy here is hybrid warfare, the ability, for example, to take out the U.S. electrical grid or, you know, water systems, or other critical infrastructure pieces. And the intelligence officers, the Russian intelligence officers, that's a key part of their job is to find out where those nodes are so that they can move ahead, regardless of what is written down on a piece of paper, which the Russians rarely pay attention to.

BALDWIN: All right, Steve, David, Mackenzie, Laura, thank you all so very much.

We'll be right back.


[14:36:45] BALDWIN: We're back with the breaking news. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The hours President Trump spent with Vladimir Putin today will be one of the most analyzed moments of his administration. But exactly how significant is this two-hour-and-16-minute meeting with Putin's country?

Here are some opinions already from the streets of Moscow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I really like them, both of them, I must say. They are doing great things. I'm so happy that they are meeting. And I think that they will get along. They are both very positive figures and they will find a common ground. I'm sure of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): There must be talks and they must come from good intentions. They can't be another way, because neither the States, nor us can survive otherwise. We need to live in cooperation with each other.

My expectations, to be honest, I'm skeptical about the U.S. behavior. And I have high hopes for the political will and political skills of President Putin.


BALDWIN: Let's go to Moscow now to our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, who has interviewed President Putin not just once but twice.

So, Matthew, first question being, knowing that the government obviously controls so much of the media where you are, are Russians also hearing details of how this meeting went?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think they are. In fact, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has been briefing his own media about what was discussed. I mean, obviously, they're putting a bit more of a Russian spin on things. For instance, Tillerson may have characterized the discussion about the hacking as a robust exchange. But what Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said is that the United States accepted the statements from Vladimir Putin that Russia did not hack the election and, indeed, they agreed to set up a joint committee to look into the issue of cyber security, something that Russia has been calling for with the United States for some time. And so, yes, they're reporting what was discussed. They're very happy about it. Their expectations were very low. They thought this was going to be a pretty cold exchange of pleasantries. It was obviously much, much more than that. That's why it lasted for nearly two hours and 20 minutes because it was a sort of far-reaching discussion about the whole range of issues at the heart of the very fractious relationship between Russia and the U.S. And that's something that has been wholeheartedly welcomed here in Russia. Again, here in a country that has been disillusioned with Donald Trump. He came to office promising to change the relationship with Russia. He couldn't deliver that. Now I think those hopes have been rekindled that something substantial may be able to change.

BALDWIN: You, too, Matthew, have sat across from Vladimir Putin. Once was a sit-down in '08. And for some of it, he spoke in English.


CHANCE: Do you think that period of post-war calm has come to an end.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I think no. I hope no. All of us, we need preparation in some areas that we said about it during our talks, our meeting, anti-terror, negotiations about nuclear weapons and other problems. We have enough of them.


[14:50:03] BALDWIN: And clearly the man speaks some English. We know the meeting with President Trump, he spoke in Russian and there were translators. But can you just tell me a little bit more about that moment?

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, he -- English isn't his strong subject, let's put it that way. He speaks fluent German. Obviously, he's Russian, but he's been studying English hard. He's never been that comfortable with it, though. And you can count on one hand the number of times that he's spoken English in public. He's done it a few times. That interview with CNN was one of the main occasions where he spoke in English in public.

But I think the point about Vladimir Putin, when you meet him face-to- face, is he's an extremely sort of focused individual. But he also sort of has got a strong sense of what you need from that meeting and what he wants from that meeting. And of course, he's got a very, you know, good record of charming American presidents. I mean, who can forget, in 2001, when George W. Bush looked into his eyes and got a sense of his soul. In 2009, President Obama, you know, briefed his officials saying that he thought he was a man of the day who had his eyes set on the future. He's very good at sensing what you want and giving that in a face-to-face meeting.

And I expect that's what he did during this meeting with Trump, which is why you've got Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, saying, look, the chemistry between them was great. It was really working. Well, that's what Putin does. He makes the chemistry work in a face-to-face meeting.

BALDWIN: I guess it's a good thing that the chemistry was great but the real question is what comes out of this meeting.

Matthew Chance, thank you so much in Moscow.

Coming up next, we'll talk to the former U.S. ambassador to Russia who says we should be cautious about what we're hearing about this meeting.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Stick with me. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.


[14:46:18] BALDWIN: I'm going to come up on some live pictures here as we've been talking about the significance of this Putin/Trump meeting. You can see this ambulance. And still a number of protesters at the G-20 summit. You know, these anti-globalization, anti-capitalist protesters there. All the while these G-20 leaders are right now having dinner and are being treated to some sort of musical performance. So just so you see the pictures both outside and inside in Hamburg.

Let me go now to a former U.S. ambassador to the Russian federation. He is Thomas Pickering. Served that appointment in the late '90s and his career as an American diplomat spans more than 40 years. He is now a distinguished fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

So, Mr. Ambassador, always a treat to have you on. Welcome back.


BALDWIN: So, the news, again, according to the secretary of state, the fact that President Trump opened up this meeting in talking about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, what do you think of that?

PICKERING: Well, I suspect he could do no less. And we had a bit of what I would call prediction of that in the Warsaw speech the day before, in which he moved a little more in the direction of Russia's mischievous and meddlesome conduct. And so I think it was there, and clearly, designed to play a very important note for the U.S. domestic constituency where it is important and meddling in elections a serious business.

The notion, however, that we would have believed that the Russians would never do that, I think, is in itself also a little bit farfetched and over the top. And it means, in fact, that we have to play better defense, because the use of offensive activities to a point where Mr. Putin will pay attention to them, in my view, is something that risks serious escalation and war. And that's certainly not something we want. And it was something that I think is quite contrary to the rest of the spirit of the meeting, both the personal chemistry, which we saw, their ability to deal at least in a beginning way with North Korea, and with Syria. The Jordanians jumped a little bit on the announcement, obviously. The Syrian peace had to be put together with a little forethought and some early work to make it happen, but it's significant as well.

Tillerson, interestingly enough, said we agree on goals in Syria but not how to get there. On the other hand, we produced an agreement for a cease-fire in southwest Syria, which is important and significant if we can make it work. And I think that's there.

I think the final point I would make is, it's too early to be either over enthusiastic or overly glum. I think it was in the middle ground. It suits both people. Both President Putin and President Trump are looking at this particular arrangement as a good one. They have more to talk about. And I would be the last to denigrate it, even though we don't know everything that went on.

The absence of certain items from the agenda, I think, is also significant. It may be that they just were not significant enough to talk about. But the war against ISIS, I didn't hear, but I may have missed that. And certainly, dealing with the nuclear deterrent, which is a problem that can be solved by the two sides if they're ready to move. And President Putin's seeming continued unwillingness to deal with next rounds of reductions of nuclear weapons, something that's been proposed in the past, and that certainly ought to be looked at, are things that perhaps are now relegated to future meetings. Let's hope that's the case.

BALDWIN: Sure. Well, let me just put a button on that. We do know that North Korea was discussed. And we also, I believe, combatting global terrorism was on the docket.

But going back to one of your top points, a lot of people I've talked to on TV would disagree that that Warsaw, you know, Q&A, in which the president overtly disagreed with his own intel chiefs, absolutely pointing the finger at Russia, you know, seemed to contrast what, at least, we're hearing in terms of the opening of the meeting. And the fact that President Putin, you know, denied any allegation of meddling. You know, you know the Russians, sir. How do you think President Putin is now spinning this meeting?

[14:50:31] PICKERING: I think that we've already seen it. Sergei Lavrov has already said to the Russian press that President Trump accepted President Putin's assurances and, happily, the White House has come forward very quickly and said that's not the case. But we're in a question of unraveling the problems of the past. That's significant and not unimportant. But the more important thing is, can we help to solve a lot of those particularly ongoing questions for the future. And there, I would put more stress and, indeed, more emphasis in terms of this meeting. The notion that countries would not try take advantage of the United States and meddle in our elections if they could, is a signal to us get better at protecting what it is what we need to protect in our own society, particularly from outside hacking. And I think the defense needs to keep up with the offensive capability here just as much as we can. Starting, essentially, a hacking arms race is not in anybody's interest. And I think that -- and hopefully, President Trump made that point to President Putin, because it will hurt him as much as it will hurt us, and neither of us will gain very much.

BALDWIN: Ambassador Thomas Pickering, always a pleasure sir. Thank you for your time.

PICKERING: Thank you, Brooke, every much.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next here, as we're talking about some of the substance of these meetings, we need to think about these protests. Still protesters on the streets of Hamburg around this G-20 summit. We will take you there live.

Also ahead, the first lady, she had been trapped inside her hotel there in Hamburg because of the presence of protesters, forcing her to actually miss some of the G-20 events. How she's responding to that, coming up.


[14:51:27] BALDWIN: Becoming a "CNN Hero" all begins with a nomination. That is what happened for the "CNN Hero" of the year in 2013.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was attending Washington State University. I told one of my professors about the drill team and what it meant to me. She told me, like, I think that you should nominate her for "CNN Heroes."

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO OF 2013: To know that someone in the program nominated me for "CNN Hero," it means so much more, because they were a part of the struggle. They were a part of those humble beginnings. So, that was a tremendous honor, and I've worn it with a badge of honor.


BALDWIN: Yes. If you know somebody in your community who should be a "CNN Hero," please nominate them at

Back to Hamburg, Germany, and the G-20 summit. We've been looking at protest pictures happening right now. Police cars set on fire, water cannons unleashed on those protesters.

But the G-20 protests have become so dangerous, they apparently prevented the first lady, Melania Trump, from actually leaving her hotel room earlier today. German police wouldn't let her leave for safety reasons and that caused her to miss several events scheduled today with over G-20 spouses.

This morning, she did tweet this: "Thinking of those hurt in Hamburg protests. Hope everyone stays safe."

She was finally allowed to leave and join the president for this evening's dinner.

Let's go to Kate Bennett, CNN White House reporter.

So, Kate, how long was she stuck?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Most of the day. I mean, this was a situation where security was just not up to par to let her leave. She missed a couple of events with -- hosted by Angela Merkel's husband today. These spousal events are highly orchestrated so there was a visit to a climate center and a boat tour with lunch. So she missed both of those events. But I talked to her spokesperson who said Melania Trump used the time today to have staff meetings at the hotel. And she wanted to be kept updated on all the protests. So she was engaged but couldn't just leave until this evening when she met up with the president.

BALDWIN: She did leave. And, in fact, we heard from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, when he was briefing reporters on the substance of the meeting with President Trump, and apparently, the meeting was going on so long he joked that they sent Melania Trump in there to try to get these two gentlemen to wrap up, which was unsuccessful.


BENNETT: Didn't work.

BALDWIN: It didn't work. They kept talking for another hour, he said.

What else -- we see the picture of her with, you know, the G-20 class. What else is she up to this evening?

BENNETT: So, they attended the philharmonic performance, which I believe just wrapped up, which was "Beethoven's Ninth" was on the schedule tonight. And she's wearing this, like, beautiful white dress and really stands out there. And then after the performance, the G-20 leaders and their spouses are heading into a dinner. She'll be there for that as well.

So again, she's stepping out on this global stage, making her mark. Today's a bit of a hiccup, having to stay at the hotel. But this evening, she's right by his side.

BALDWIN: And quickly, as I read your cover line, what is this about where they were staying and camels?

BENNETT: Well, the word is they didn't book enough hotel in time to get adequate space, the Trump administration. So they couldn't stay in the hotel. One of them, the Four Seasons, was booked by the king of Saudi Arabia, which is something he does. He's done it in Washington before, a full buyout of the hotel, where he brings, allegedly, his camels and his whole entourage, all gilded, and moves out the future. So anyway, they did not get a room there. But they're settled down now.

BALDWIN: All right. All right.

Kate Bennett, on the FLOTUS --