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Trump and Putin Set to Meet; CNN: Russia Ramps Up Spying in U.S.; South Korean Leader Renews Offer to Talk with North. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:09] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Less than six hours from now, the sit-down the world has been waiting for. President Trump and President Putin ready to meet for the first time, and the spotlight of the G20. We have it all covered this hour from Hamburg, Washington, Moscow, and Seoul.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Miguel Marquez. It is Friday, July 7th, 4:00 a.m. here on the East Coast.

It's one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings of world leaders in decades. This morning, President Trump sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the G20 Summit gets underway in Germany. Their bilateral meeting comes just a day after President Trump said Russia should stop its destabilizing activities. But then minutes later refused to conclude that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.

ROMANS: New CNN reporting this morning says Russia has even stepped up its spying efforts in the U.S. More on that in just a moment.

But for the latest, let's turn to the White House correspondent covering all this for us. Sara Murray, she is live in Hamburg.

Sara, President Trump meets Putin face to face in just a few hours. It will be fascinating to see how that goes, the optics of this meeting.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a very highly anticipated and will be very closely scrutinized. This is expected to be a pretty brief meeting between these two world leaders, but an intimate one, as well. They're expected to be joined by Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. And in the runoff to the meeting, both Trump and Putin have had sharp words for one another.

Putin wrote an article in a German newspaper taking aim at the sanctions the U.S. levied against Russians, essentially saying that Trump's trade polices, these sanctions are the equivalent of protectionism. And, of course, we heard Trump's words for Putin yesterday in Poland. He chided Russia for its role in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. But when it comes to U.S. election meddling, when he was speaking in Poland yesterday, Trump still seems to question Russia's role in all of this.

If you look at his tweet storm this morning, it is very clear that Trump's mind is still on that 2016 election. He's taking aim at former officials in the Clinton campaign saying, everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA, disgraceful.

So, that is where the president's head appears to be at heading into this meeting. Now, in terms of the way he has prepared for it, he has worked with senior advisers to get ready for this meeting with Putin. What we are told by one White House official that the amount of pages dedicated to this important meeting is just a few. It will still be up to President Trump to decide what they talk about, what's on the agenda going into this meeting.

ROMANS: All right. Very fascinating. A lot to unfold today. Sara Murray is there in Hamburg to cover it for us. Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Now, as President Trump prepares to face off with Vladimir Putin, CNN has learned Russian spies are very active here in the United States, especially since the November election. U.S. intelligence officials say the Kremlin is feeling emboldened because the current and past administrations have failed to retaliate.

We get more now from CNN's Pamela Brown in Washington.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miguel and Christine, good morning to you. We have learned that Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the United States, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials who say they've noticed an increase since the election. So, the Russians' efforts have not been slowed by the intense focus of the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. And since the election, U.S. authorities have detected an uptick in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the United States under the guise of other business.

Officials say they've been replenishing their ranks ever since the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying last December. And in some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence- gathering efforts.

Now, the FBI, which is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the U.S., would not comment for the story. The Russian embassy in Washington didn't respond to a request for comment. But, of course, all of this begs the question, why isn't the U.S. stopping it?

Well, there's a couple of reasons. Partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity, and President Donald Trump's reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions about Russia's meddling in the election has slowed efforts to counter the threat this former and current intelligence officials say. And we were also told that FBI counterintelligence is seeking to keep an eye on some of this activity. In some cases, the FBI uses surveillance to track the suspected Russian intelligence officers as part of a counterintelligence effort -- Christine and Miguel.


MARQUEZ: Thanks to Pamela Brown.

Responding to requests for comment, a Kremlin spokesman says, quote, don't listen to fakes.

ROMANS: All right. There will be plenty on the agenda, of course, when the Presidents Trump and Putin meet at the G20, so much in fact that the Russians say the limited time available might make it hard to delve into Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Crimea.

[04:05:07] That still leaves Syria, ISIS, NATO sanctions, and a whole lot more to talk about, though.

Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins us now live from Moscow.

I've been looking at this from both sides. You know, what would constitute a successful meeting for the Russians and for the U.S.?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think just the fact that you've got the two heads of state that are going to be meeting face to face. That's a big step forward for both sides. There hasn't been a meeting between Russian and U.S. presidents in nearly two years since September of 2015 when Barack Obama was the U.S. president.

The Kremlin has indicated that having phone calls isn't enough, that it's time to have a face-to-face meeting, and that would be good for basically geopolitical stability. The Kremlin also pointed out, though, that going into this meeting, regrettably, it does not know what Washington wants to come out of this.

We do have to recall that you're not going to have an entirely fair meeting because Vladimir Putin, this will be his fourth U.S. president that he's met. He's been in this position, head of state in Russia, for years and years and years. The flashpoints are many, but it does seem like there could be some success on the Syrian front. The U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, wrote at the beginning of the week that there has been some progress in that awful civil war between the U.S. and Russian militaries on establishing deconfliction zones. And he hopes that perhaps he can talk about establishing no-fly zones there.

Last night, the Russian top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, said that's a step in the right direction. So, maybe Syria and the awful war that's killed so many and made so many people homeless, maybe both heads of state can find some common ground since both countries have the stated goal of fighting Islamist extremist terrorists on the ground in that country -- Christine and Miguel.

ROMANS: So much has been made of the personalities and the optics of this meeting. The different personalities of the leaders. But clearly, a lot of substance to get to. Thank you so much for that, Ivan Watson.

MARQUEZ: And now, we want to turn to Hamburg, site of the G20 Summit, and bring in international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

Good morning, Nic.

The world watching closely this meeting between President Trump and Putin. Given how interconnected the G20 is, very close members, many of them know each other, what do we really expect out of this meeting?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I don't think we can expect there to be a great meeting of the minds. I mean, there very much is a sense of this unity that there's a new world emerging if you listen to sort of seasoned elder statesmen at the sort of diplomatic world elder statesmen and women. They talk about, you know, a changed world forward that of the sort of post-World War II world order of changing relationships and dynamics. And that's very much how it feels here.

Of course, there are the common crises of North Korea. There are of Syria, of Ukraine, that unite some of the leaders. But because, for example, you know, the president of South Korea is perhaps trying to -- would more readily reach out and try to get into dialogue with the North Koreans while he supports, you know, the United States and what it's doing and defending and securing the Korean peninsula and its concerns about North Korea, they're not in lockstep. You know, this is just one example of how complicated things can become on the big issues.

So, but -- broadly speaking, there is a sense of that disunity. And I suppose, you know, if you want to look at the really big framing here, Miguel, look at it this way -- Hamburg, July, 1943, the Second World War, the world -- at that point the heaviest ever bombing raid began, Operation Gomorrah. It lasted four days, more than 40,000 people killed, 37,000 wounded. That was part of World War II.

And in essence, you know, trying to get an agreement around the table to set a peaceful future, an agreement across all those big agendas, you know, it's in the context that the world order since the Second World War is beginning to change. So, will we see a maximalist position where there's a lot of agreement? No. Will we see a minimalist position where there's no agreement? No.

There will be some agreements, but this is in many senses a different G20 than some of the previous.

MARQUEZ: Nic, we're also seeing specifically some protests yesterday, some protests today. Is it the sense that they will actually be able to affect any of the ongoings for the G20?

ROBERTSON: No. And they'll be lucky, you know, to get anywhere close to those buildings in their minds, that would be luck for them. I mean, protesters this morning have sort of rather than being at a big block protest where the police said there were about 12,000 demonstrators last night, more than 20 arrested, more than -- well, 111 police officers injured.

[04:10:13] Today, they've broken up into smaller groups and tried to block the road that some leaders will take to get to where they're meeting. But there is -- police have this situation here, very well secured. You're just hearing before the helicopters flying overhead, keeping an eye on what's happening on the ground, and the police have a very firm hand here, making sure that the demonstrators don't get through to the building, that seems incredibly unlikely.

So, you know, they're not going to have an impact. And this is typical of Europe, if you will, and of Germany and of Hamburg that's used to demonstrations.

MARQUEZ: Hamburg and Germany used to dealing with these sort of major protests. Nic Robertson for us, thank you very much.

ROMANS: Any of us who covered a G7, a G8, a G20 meeting, World Trade Organization meeting, whether in this country or in that country, these gatherings of thousands of people protesting is common regardless of who the president of the United States or for Germany, for that matter.

All right. An assault on a flight attendant forces a Delta flight to turn around shortly after takeoff. How other passengers jumped in to action. That's next.


[04:15:20] ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour this Friday morning. Two of America's biggest trading partners are striking a deal, and that could be bad news for U.S. automakers and American dairy farmers. Europe and Japan signed a free trade agreement right before the G20 Summit, a clear reaction to the White House's protectionist stance. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying they will hoist the flag of free trade amid protectionism.

Now, this could hurt -- this deal could hurt some U.S. industries like cars. The agreement removes high tariffs on Japanese cars and helps European automakers in Japan. Both actions will squeeze U.S. automakers, just as sales slow in the U.S. There'll still an E.U. tariff and tougher competition now in Japan. The deal also eliminates Japanese duties on European cheeses. Right now, Japan slaps a whopping 30 percent tariff on dairy, and an increase in European Gouda will hurt American cheese makers.

Currently, Japan is the third largest market for U.S. cheese. American dairy farmers were banking on the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP, to help them in Japan. But, as you know, President Trump scrapped the deal on his first full day in office.

MARQUEZ: Now, it's a scare for passengers on a Delta Airlines flight headed from Seattle to Beijing. Flight 129 turned back shortly after takeoff last night when a passenger assaulted a flight attendant in first class. The plane returned to SeaTac Airport under a Defense Department escort. Delta says the suspect was restrained by other passengers on board and taken into custody upon landing. The flight attendant and a passenger were injured and taken to the hospital. Both are expected to be fine.

ROMANS: Last night, a federal judge denied the state of Hawaii's attempt to limit the scope of President Trump's travel ban. In his request for clarification, Hawaiian officials argued the government overreached by excluding grandparents and other relatives after the Supreme Court decision allowing the ban to take effect. But a district court judge in Honolulu rejected that challenge, ruling any requests for clarification should be made to the Supreme Court. A full hearing of the case is set for the fall.

MARQUEZ: So far, no clear strategy to slow North Korea's nuclear program. Now one leader says he'll meet Kim Jong-un any time, anywhere. We'll let you know who and why it matters.


[04:22:01] ROMANS: The new president of South Korea is still willing to meet with the North's Kim Jong-un despite rising tension and another condemnation of the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test. President Moon Jae-in saying he's ready to talk anytime at any place if the conditions are right. Yesterday, Moon met China's president about North Korea, hours after meeting with President Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

I want to bring in CNN's David McKenzie. He is live in Seoul for us this morning.

David, any takeaway for these meetings ahead of G20?


Yes, a lot of takeaways. It's pretty interesting that President Moon there diverging somewhat from the U.S. viewpoint, at least publicly, and saying he would meet anywhere, any time with the North Korean dictator given the right conditions. Now, he did go into those conditions in a policy speech where he is at the G20 and went into details like they have to really stop, of course, the missile tests, the nuclear program. That's a preconditioning to getting anywhere.

But it is certainly an olive branch kind of dangling the carrot as it were to the North Koreans, saying there could be a real sweetening deal with them should they stop the program. But that's nothing really they show to actually doing.

You did also have Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense in the U.S., saying the latest missile test by the North Koreans does not bring the U.S. and North Korea closer to any kind of conflict. So, trying to tone down the rhetoric.

But a very different scene in Pyongyang, massive rallies with senior party and military leaders bringing out the population, as well, to cheer that latest ICBM's successful -- in their words -- launch. They said that they are ready to wipe out the U.S., to reduce it to ashes.

So, certainly, no lack of bombast and propaganda, as usual coming from North Korea. But potentially a door opening from the South Korean president trying to solve this through some kind of dialogue -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. David McKenzie for us live this morning for us in Seoul, South Korea. Thank you, sir.

MARQUEZ: And now, the eyes of the world are on Hamburg, Germany, for President Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We have the broader implications of the meeting and the latest from the G20, coming right up.


[04:28:35] MARQUEZ: President Trump hours away from going eye to eye with Vladimir Putin. Will the Russian president blink, or will the veteran politician outmatch the new American president at the G20?

We have it all covered from Hamburg, Washington, Moscow, and Seoul. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

Look at all that talent lined up for this morning. Twenty-eight minutes past the hour on this Friday morning.

It is one of the most eagerly anticipated meeting of world leaders in decades frankly. This morning, President Trump sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the G20 Summit, as it gets underway in Germany. This is a full-fledged bilateral meeting. It comes just a day after President Trump said Russia should stop its, quote, destabilizing activities. But then minutes later, the president refused to conclude that Russia alone meddled in the U.S. election.

MARQUEZ: Now, new CNN reporting this morning says Russia has even stepped up its efforts at spying in the U.S. More on that in a moment.

For latest, we want to turn to White House correspondent Sara Murray. She is live for us in Hamburg.

Sara, President Trump meets Putin face to face today, in just a few hours. What can we expect out of this meeting?

MURRAY: Well, look, everything from their public statements to their body language is going to be closely scrutinized in this meeting. We're expecting it to be relatively brief but intimate. Obviously, President Trump, Putin will be there, as well as their top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.