Return to Transcripts main page
Trump, Putin Set for First Face-to-Face Meeting; Russia Stepping Up Spying Efforts in U.S. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired July 7, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump gearing up for his first high- stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
[05:57:40] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to go in with a list of demands. Russia should be making concessions to the U.S., not the other way around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything that makes Trump look a little weak makes Putin look stronger.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia definitely did try to influence the campaign.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There's absolutely no doubt about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence- gathering efforts in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not surprised the Russians feel as if the Cold War is back on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Safe to say now that President Trump is an enabler of Russia's interference.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, July 7, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow joining me. Thank you, good friend.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Friday.
CUOMO: I'll try not to sneeze on you.
On the starting line, the high-stakes meeting between presidents Trump and Putin at the G-20 summit. The first face-to-face between the two men just hours away. Will President Trump address Russia's election meddling with Putin? Big question.
Now, ahead of the meet, CNN has learned that since the election, Russian spies are stepping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the U.S. Officials say Russia has been emboldened by the lack of a strong response from the current and previous administrations.
HARLOW: And there as backlash over President Trump's comments slamming the U.S. intelligence community while he was on foreign soil, again suggesting he doesn't fully believe his own intelligence on Russia's role, meddling in the 2016 election.
Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, among those pushing back hard on the president's assertions.
Meantime, Defense Secretary James Mattis says North Korea's launch of that ICBM capable of striking parts of the U.S. does not bring the United States closer to war. The White House insisting diplomacy is the still the first response and that it hasn't yet failed with Pyongyang.
We have all of it covered for you this Friday morning. Let's begin with our Sara Murray, who is live at the G-20 in Hamburg. What are you hearing as a key, key meeting is about to take place?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy.
Presidents Trump and Putin have actually already met this morning. They shook hands, but the substantive meeting comes later, and you can bet that everything from their body language to their public comments, if they make any, will be scrutinized as the world awaits this highly- anticipated meeting.
TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That's called an asset.
I hope we have a fantastic relationship.
I don't love; I don't hate. We'll see how it works.
MURRAY (voice-over): After months of anticipation, President Donald Trump set to come face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the controversial head of state behind the 2016 election interference that has haunted the Trump presidency.
The pair will meet today for 30 minutes, accompanied only by their translators and top diplomats: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has a long-standing relationship with President Putin.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've begun an effort to begin to rebuild confidence between ourselves and Russia. MURRAY: Tillerson is one of the top officials who has been hurriedly
preparing the president for the high-stakes face-off.
White House advisers say the agenda is not set, but key issues could include the conflict in Syria, North Korea, and Russian aggression in Ukraine, which led to sanctions. Sources say President Trump has been presented with a large binder of reading materials for the G-20 summit but only a few pages of notes and bullet points on his Putin meeting.
TRUMP: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere.
MURRAY: Trump delivered a tough message to the Kremlin ahead of today's sit-down, pledging support to the NATO alliance in the face of Russian aggression.
TRUMP: We stand firmly behind Article V, the mutual defense commitment.
MURRAY: But just hours earlier, the president stopped short of condemning Moscow for meddling in the 2016 election.
TRUMP: 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.
KOSINSKI: This statement undercutting the conclusions of his own intelligence community.
CLAPPER: There's 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.
KOSINSKI: It remains unclear if President Trump will bring up the election hacking today, but a growing number of lawmakers are urging the president to raise the issue.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't understand how the United States president can protect the country if he's not willing to sit down with Vladimir Putin and look him in the eye and say, "I know you did this. It will stop."
KOSINSKI: Now, this morning, it's clear President Trump's mind is on the 2016 election, but not on Russia's role. He tweeted this about a former Clinton campaign staffer: "Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful."
Back to you, Poppy.
HARLOW: A surprising message from the president in the middle of this G-20 summit, indeed. Sara Murray, thank you. President Trump is ready to meet with President Putin in just a few
hours, but we have new reporting on concerns in the U.S. Intelligence agency here about stepped-up Russian spying efforts across America. Shimon Prokupecz broke the story with Evan Perez and Pamela Brown, and Shimon joins us now.
What have you learned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Poppy. Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts here in the U.S., according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who say they have noticed an increase since the election.
The Russians have not been slowed by retaliatory efforts after it meddled in the U.S. election, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
Officials say they've 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, Poppy.
HARLOW: So clearly, multiple current and former U.S. intelligence sources know this. And this is how you guys got the reporting. What are they doing about it?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, well, that's right, Poppy. Even 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 threat, according to these former and current officials.
Now, partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity and President Donald Trump's reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions about Russians' meddling in the election has slowed efforts to counter the threat.
And also another issue is that there is ongoing frustration with the State Department over granting visas to people the U.S. intelligence suspect are intelligence officers. A State Department official not commenting specifically on the visas, and we are told that the FBI's counterintelligence squad is trying to keep an eye on some of this information -- Poppy and Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Shimon, appreciate the reporting, my friend. Have a good weekend.
Let's bring in our panel. We've got CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein; and congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian. We also have CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger.
Thank you for rushing to the camera, Brother Sanger. I'll start with you as a reward for your celerity of dispatch to the location.
So the stakes today for the G-20 hearing. We know that the president will not be alone. He'll be with the secretary of state. We know that Putin will be with Lavrov. We know that they've prepared. We have a graphic for you, what we know about the preparation, what went into getting ready for this meeting. Do you want to put that up? People can see it at home.
This is who's going to be there. Now how about the preparation? Do we have that? Preparing Trump for the meeting with Putin. You have his big weights there, Fiona Hill, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis giving him different perspectives.
So the stakes, Brother Sanger, what do you see?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the first thing to know about this, Chris, is there probably has not been a more important bilateral meeting that -- with a foreign leader that you've seen President Trump have in his presidency. One with more at stake.
Vladimir Putin's been doing this now for 16, 17 years. President Trump has been doing this for six months. And it's going to be really interesting to see how the two of these interact.
We may not know a whole lot about how they interact, because there aren't going to be very many people in the room, as your graphic indicates. Secretary of State Tillerson will be there. He knows Putin from his days at Exxon, but he hasn't dealt with him directly on this kind of -- of issue, except for one meeting in Moscow, a few months ago, that he held during a brief trip there.
So, what do they have to get done? They have to figure out how they're going to go deal with the question of Russian hacking. It strikes me it's not that difficult. You make a brief reference to what they did in the past, and then you talk to them about what it is that the Russians are doing now. In Germany, if you believe that the Russians were behind some of these hacks into the e-mails of employees of nuclear power plants. You can talk about that, so forth and so on.
They've got to deal with nuclear issues. The Russians are in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Accord. They have to find a way around that.
They have to deal with Syria, and they have to deal with Russian aggression around Europe. And I think one of the big questions is, how do you do all of that in a meeting that's supposed to be only about 40 minutes long with translation underway?
HARLOW: So, Ron Brownstein, a few things have changed in the last 24 hours that could change how President Trump goes into this meeting.
One, he committed, finally, the United States to Article V of NATO, which Russia was not happy with. You've also got his condemnation of Russia's meddling in Eastern Ukraine, both yesterday in the speech in Warsaw.
And on top of that, one of the people, as Chris put them on the screen, who's preparing him for this meeting is Fiona Hill. She's a fierce Putin critic, and she just joined the administration last month. Does that change things, as he goes in?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it just shows you, kind of, you know, kind of the balance of forces, in not only broadly American -- the American foreign policy establishment, but even within the Republican kind of foreign policy establishment.
And you -- you know, it includes most -- most voices in that chorus have been skeptical from the outset that there is a different relationship that is possible, a significantly different relationship that is possible.
There are a lot of things that are unique about President Trump. I mean, you know, we saw him yesterday criticize his own intelligence service and the free press while on foreign soil. That's pretty unique.
But I think one thing that is actually pretty typical is that it is not unusual for presidents to believe that they can forge a better personal relationship with a leader from another nation, with whom we have long had difficulties. And through the force of that relationship, cut all the Gordian knots of the underlying interests and conflicts of interest between the nations. I think President Trump is not unique in that.
And, you know, when you showed the clips before, what he said during the campaign, about what he expected from his relationship with Vladimir Putin, I think what they're going to find is that those underlying conflicts of interest, just as he has with Xi Jinping, with North Korea, where he thought that the personal relationship would lead to a kind of radical change in Chinese behavior, it's very hard to do that just on the basis of a handshake or a good chocolate cake or even a good meeting.
CUOMO: Judging by the president's tweets this morning, Karoun, he's not overly concerned about this meeting. Do you think that's a tactic in terms of him trying to lessen the expectations?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Or just in terms of him trying to spin the narrative again by bringing up Podesta, which I would be surprised if all the nations of the G-20 are actually discussing that more than discussing North Korea or various other things on the agenda.
I mean, look, we're heading into this meeting where the question is, will Trump actually control the narrative the way he has been doing so with his Twitter account in the public? We know what the agenda items that are going to come up are. David listed them: Syria, Ukraine, North Korea.
[06:10:02] The meddling in the election may not be on the agenda, but Russians want the compounds that we took away from them or that we seized back in late December back, and those -- that move was taken because of the alleged election meddling and hacking. So it may come up in that connection context.
But the question is, who is going to be spinning and driving the way these things come out? If it is Putin, who is the more experienced diplomat, the more experienced head of state and a very good manipulator of people based on his pre-presidential training and career, then Trump may end up making concessions.
And you heard him say very many times, President Trump wants Putin to like him. He thinks that will be a good thing. If he in the moment thinks that Putin will like him more by handing things over, all of this prep work, all of these outsiders who have been advising him, all of the Fiona Hills and James Mattises in the world, they're not in the room. We don't know what the president is going to ultimately do when he is face-to-face with Putin, who has more experience and may control that conversation on certain points. And that is the concern, if he doesn't go in there with a set list of things he wants to accomplish.
HARLOW: Look, President Trump now goes into this meeting also armed with the information that CNN has just broken, as Shimon just reported, that Russian spies are stepping it up here in the United States. Why? Because they don't feel like there has been any punishment, really, or any backlash from the Obama administration or the Trump administration.
Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, warned what that means for future elections in this country. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAPPER: Their general push, they're going to stretch the envelope as far as they can to collect information. And I think largely, to -- if I could use the military phrase, prep the battlefield for 2018 elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Right. So David Sanger, does that change the calculus at all for the president? More pressure on him to bring up meddling?
SANGER: You know, he may have to bring up meddling, but as I said before, more interesting is what the Russians are doing now, including what you're reporting on, the stepping up, but also, the cyber activity now, which is sort of the best way for the Russians to run short of war operations against the United States and against its allies.
So I think the big question facing President Trump here is, does he want to emerge from this announcing he had a great meeting, he can make deals with this person, or does he want to come across appearing as if he's pushed back, that he is tough?
And that would be an easy answer for most other presidents, but this president, more than most, wants to put the -- his stamp on the "I can do this, because I've got such a great relationship with him."
I would hope and think that the experience with Xi Jinping -- where he came out of the Mar-a-Lago meeting saying, you know, what great friends they were and how much they've helped, and then to discover that Xi Jinping was only going to go so far on North Korea and it wasn't very far at all -- has made the president recognize that one of the differences between diplomacy and real estate is that in diplomacy, your national interests almost always trumps.
CUOMO: Well, as they say, we will see. A lot of this is going to be about the posturing. It will be the spin after the meeting, but then, of course, ultimately, as you're alluding to, David, the proof will be in the performance.
CUOMO: What actually happens after this meeting.
HARLOW: But immediately people will talk about the picture, the president's smile. What is the significance of it?
CUOMO: The smile, the handshake, the posture, who shook first, all these silly things and yet we pay attention.
Gentleman, Karoun, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
HARLOW: All right. President Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, contradicting one other about the threat from North Korea and what it means for this country's response. Are they on the same page? We're going to take a closer look, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned, I don't know. We'll see what happens. I don't like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them. I don't draw red lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: The growing North Korea threat hanging over the G-20 summit. And despite President Trump's latest words about the regime's ICBM test, his defense secretary, James Mattis, is being more cautious about the U.S.' standing with North Korea.
Let's bring back in our panel: Ron Brownstein, Karoun Demirjian and David Sanger. And guys, just take a moment to listen to what his defense secretary, James Mattis, just said about North Korea. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 the secretary of state has been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So Karoun, unless the president means very severe additional sanctions on banks, for example, "pretty severe things" doesn't seem to jive with what Mattis is saying. How do you see it?
DEMIRJIAN: Right, and it's a clarification that seems important that the secretary of defense made, because the response to the tests was to do these military drills with South Korea that, you know, you saw the rockets firing off into the air, and that raised questions about, well, clearly, that's supposed to send a message to North Korea about the force that we could exert if we wanted to hold them back in. But would that make North Korea ramp up things faster? Would that produce some sort of a response that was disadvantageous that would force us more towards a difficult situation? Or maybe we'd have to consider those military responses.
Mattis is trying to be abundantly clear that that's not what's happening. It's also notable that there has been a lot of pressure from other countries like Russia and China on the Trump administration, not to go in that direction. They did not want that sort of a response, that the United States planned with South Korea. And have been urging Trump to take more of a, let's sit at the table and have talks, let's have concessions on both sides. You won't do military drills if they'll pull back their ballistic missile tests.
This is just a situation in which no one is exactly sure about what Pyongyang's response will be to any sort of military show from the United States; and thus, you're having the guy who speaks for the military most, try to tamp that down. That does leave other options at the president's disposal.
But again, like you just said, to take the most severe ones would be to come down really harshly on China and there's potential backlash for that, too. We're more economically tied to China. That is a large adversary to take on. And yet, they are the central piece of this in many ways, because they are the ones who have the most sway and the most influence and the most economic relationship with North Korea.
[06:20:03] CUOMO: So David Sanger, people keep saying, whether it was Obama, whether it was Bush before him or President Trump now, there are no good options in North Korea. You can only sanction them so much. It's a very repressive society. They've been under intense sanctions pretty much since the '50s with the armistice.
But this possibility of them having a seat at table, that starts to be bubbling up a little bit more. We have Senator Ed Markey on, Democrat out of Massachusetts on the show today. He believes that that's the only way forward, that North Korea has to have an actual seat at a negotiating table. There's been reluctance to do that. Why? And what do you make of that proposition?
SANGER: Well, first of all, if it happened, Chris, it would hardly be the first time. You'll remember that in 1994, President Carter went on his own authority, somewhat angering the Clinton administration, to Pyongyang and negotiated directly with Kim Il-Song, the country's founder and grandfather of the current president. That resulted in an agreement that did, in fact, slow North Korea's nuclear development for about six years. The Bush administration conducted direct talks with North Korea
through Chris Hill, negotiator, that ended up with them dismantling part of their -- one of their nuclear reactors, or at least a cooling tower. They later broke out of that agreement shortly after President Obama took office.
So it would hardly be the first time the United States has sat down with the North Koreans, usually in conjunction with other allies and the Chinese.
But I think there is a big question here. If you listen to what the president said about severe actions he could take, is he thinking military or is he thinking economic? My guess is, he's thinking largely economic sanctions. There are some very severe ones they could do, including intercepting North Korean ships at sea or at ports. Something that the Bush administration got going with something called the proliferation security initiative, to inspect these things.
But there is, in fact, a risk to that, as well, that you can get into a firefight with the North Koreans that escalates fairly quickly.
There aren't many good military options, unless they see another missile that is being prepared, and they decide to try to shoot it down with an anti-ballistic missile or do a preemptive strike, and that's pretty risky.
HARLOW: So Ron Brownstein, stepping away from North Korea for a moment to a major trade deal, the parameters of which have been agreed to between Japan and the E.U., this is on par with NAFTA. This is huge, and it completely cuts out the United States from having a seat in the middle of this. And it will, if it is inked, it will hurt economically, somewhat, the United States.
So, what's the signal to the Trump administration? And how significant do you think it is?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, it's very striking that the E.U. and Japan are -- have completed this enormous trade deal at the same time that we see in Asia, you know, China trying to move in to fill the gap that we created by walking away from the Transpacific Partnership, when President Trump took office. I mean, you do see nations of the world continuing to try to build these bonds.
And the same story on the climate Paris -- the Paris climate agreement, where, you know, all of the other major signatories, in particular China and Germany, are talking about renewing their commitment to pursuing this work.
I mean, the question will be whether "America first," as the president describes it, translates into America alone, as these other nations kind of move in to fill the gap; created by this vision of -- the vision by the administration that we have been taken advantage of, in all of these international agreements. When, in fact, you know, the history of the last 70 years is that the U.S. has fundamentally built the international rules-based system, not as an act of charity, but because we believe it is in our interests to have the nations of the world interact along a pattern of laws, rather than just kind of naked aggression.
So, yes, this is a big moment, and it is a sign, I think, very similar to what we're seeing with Paris, which is that the administration has chosen a path that puts them fundamentally out of step with many other nations. And with people here who cheer that, but others who worry that, in fact, it is isolating us in the world, and thus diminishing rather than increasing our leverage.
HARLOW: Also important to note, though, if Hillary Clinton had been president, the U.S. would have walked away from TPP, as well, given her stance on that at the end of the campaign.
Thank you all very much. And Ron, you have been working overtime. You have a new column we want to tell people about.
HARLOW: "Fault Lines." You can go to CNN.com/FaultLines to read his weekly column. Thank you all very much.
CUOMO: A good look at the deepening political divisions in our country.
So this Delta flight from Seattle to Beijing was forced to turn around because of an aggressive passenger. We'll tell you why other passengers wound up taking action with wine bottles, next.
[06:29:04] CUOMO: So, this Delta flight from Seattle to Beijing was forced to turn back because a crew member was assaulted by a passenger. And really, the passenger just was trying to exit the plane, was making all kinds of erratic moves. Three people were injured, overall.
According to a witness, the passenger, a 23-year-old Florida man, kept going to the bathroom before making a move for the exit door. Other passengers tried to stop him by breaking bottles of wine over his head. It took a while, but he was subdued and faces a court appearance in Seattle today.
HARLOW: The White House in search of a new ethics watchdog this morning after one of its chief critics announced he's stepping down. That's Walter Shaub. He was the director of the Office of Government Ethics, and he repeatedly raised questions over President Trump's decision not to sell his business interests. Shaub says he was not forced out but reached the limits of what he could achieve. He's heading to a nonprofit, where he will tackle campaign finance reform.
CUOMO: Wounded Congressman Steve Scalise is undergoing another surgery. It will be Thursday they did it, no control an infection. Scalise was shot last month at a Republican congressional baseball practice. We all remember that.