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President Trump To Meet with Vladimir Putin; Analysts Review President Trump's Press Conference and Speech in Poland. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 7, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Friday, July 7th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow by my side. Thank you for being with me.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
CUOMO: All right, we've got a big morning. A high stakes showdown at the G-20 Summit happening soon. In less than two hours now the two men on your screen, they had a handshake already, but the big bilateral meeting between the president of the United States and the leader of Russia. What will be on the agenda? What will be the posture? Big question from the American perspective is will Russia's meddling in the U.S. election be addressed?
HARLOW: That meeting is happening as U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN that since the election Russian spies have stepped their intelligence gathering efforts in this country. They are apparently emboldened by the lack of response from both the Obama and Trump administrations. We have it all covered this morning. Let's begin with our Sara Murray who is live in Hamburg, Germany, with the latest on the G-20. So the leaders have met. Putin and Trump have had the handshake everyone was waiting for. Now what?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. They've had their quick meet and greet. The more substantive part comes later. And that is what everyone is going to be scrutinizing, whether it's the body language, whether it's public statements, whatever they do, the world is watching this highly anticipated meeting.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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: 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 longstanding relationship with President Putin.
REX TILLERSON, 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 briefing 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 Five, 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 Republican, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows.
MURRAY: This statement undercutting the conclusions of his own intelligence community.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There's absolutely no doubt about it. The high intelligence levels, the multiple sources of information we had and its high fidelity still leave me very convinced of the veracity of that report.
MURRAY: 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.
MURRAY: Before this Trump/Putin meeting, there's plenty of other work to be done at the G-20, and a little bit of pomp and circumstance also. The world leaders just got together for what is known as the family photo for the G-20. Now they are in a closed session. Back to you guys.
HARLOW: Sara Murray in Hamburg, thank you very much for that reporting.
With President Trump ready to meet with Vladimir Putin, CNN has new reporting on concerns within the U.S. intelligence agency about stepped up Russian spying efforts in this country, increasing since the election. Shimon Prokupecz broke the story with Evan Perez and Pamela Brown. He joins us now. So what have you learned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. So Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts 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 doesn't respond to a request for comment, Poppy.
[08:05:12] HARLOW: This is something that is known by former and current intelligence officials in the United States. Are they stopping it? Are they taking action?
PROKUPECZ: Well, there is some activity, obviously, which is ongoing, and there's surveillance. But the issue here is that 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 the current former -- current and former U.S. officials.
Also, partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity and President Donald Trump's reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions about Russian meddling in the election have slowed efforts to counter the threat.
Another issue here is that there's an ongoing frustration with 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 visas. We are told, Poppy, that there are FBI officials as part of their counterintelligence surveillance. They try to keep an eye on some of this activity. Poppy, Chris?
CUOMO: Shimon, appreciate it.
All right, let's bring in our panel. We've got CNN military and diplomatic analyst Rear Admiral John Kirby, CNN political director David Chalian, CNN global affairs analyst and former deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken. All right, let's look at all the corners of this, shall we? So Putin/Trump, the big meeting. Going into it, Tony Blinken, you are advising the president. Where is your head in terms of the coaching that goes into something like this? How do you diagnose the man? How do you diagnose the moment? How do you prep?
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Two things, Chris. First, the president really needs to deal with the elephant in the room and that is Russian meddling in the election. That's got to be the first item on the agenda.
CUOMO: Why. Why not Syria? Why not --
BLINKEN: If you don't throw that away you'll never really going to get to do anything on Syria or Ukraine or anything else because as long as the president is seen as not only not confronting it but not even acknowledging it, Congress is going to keep tying his hands. They won't let him pursue any cooperation with Russia even if there is beneficial cooperation to be found. He needs to deal with it.
Plus, failure to confront it means Russia remains emboldened. We heard about more Russian spying activity in the United States. If they are not confronted, they'll keep doing it. And 2018, 2020, all of that is still ahead of us. So that's the first thing.
The second thing the president needs to know is Vladimir Putin is incredibly well prepared for these meetings. He's a master of detail. He will go in with a clear agenda, with clear objectives. I hope the president is doing the same thing.
HARLOW: Former KGB agent to boot.
HARLOW: David Chalian, though, President Trump is not the first U.S. president, by a long shot, to think that they can foster a relatively warm, open, cordial at least relationship with Vladimir Putin. I mean, President Bush thought I trusted him. I saw into his soul. I invited him to the ranch. He's not the first. Is he misguided?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He's certainly not the first, but to Tony's point, I think it was McMaster, the national security adviser, that said there's no specific agenda, the president will discuss what's on his mind. I think that presents the problem. The political situation that Donald Trump faces is that at the height of skepticism about Putin and Russia here at home, amongst everyone on Capitol Hill, the intelligence community, what have you, enters now the dealmaker president who is always looking to find a deal and common ground on something into this meeting without necessarily a fully prepared agenda. I think that is what has some of Donald Trump's closest aides a little nervous about this meeting.
CUOMO: All right, so a little bit of the prep here, John, is you say he says. You're going to go through what you expect dialogue to be. So let's take Tony's point as a premise. You have got to deal with the election situation. How do you see that conversation going? What would you be prepping our president for?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Assuming they're going to have it, and I don't think that they will, I think Tony is right. It should be the first thing on the agenda. Clear it up and say, look, even if he haven't want to talk about it from 2016, from a retrospective, but they know he thinks it challenges the legitimacy of his win, he should at least raise it because we have elections coming up. We have a midterm in 2018. We have another presidential election in 2020.
CUOMO: So what does he say?
KIRBY: I think he says, look, we know what you did. Our intelligence agencies know exactly what you did. You need to know that we're not going to let this go forward, that we're going to develop processes and systems and we're going to make sure that you don't have the ability to do this again. You have got to knock it off. Sorry?
CUOMO: What do you anticipate as a response?
KIRBY: Putin will say that, I don't know what you're talking about. We had nothing to do with it. We don't meddle in other political affairs despite the fact that 2014 election in Ukraine and this year's election in Germany and probably France as well. He'll deny he had anything to do with it. But I do think it needs to be brought up first and get it off the table.
[08:10:03] And to Tony's point about Congress tying his hands, the other thing that this does, if he doesn't raise this issue, even maybe looking forward to 2018, 2020, if he doesn't raise this issue, the Russians are going to say this is -- they are going to have little incentive to want to try to work with us on other issues. They are going to feel even more emboldened. If he can't even raise the fact of election meddling, there will be little incentive for them to give way on anything else going forward, whether it's Ukraine or Syria.
HARLOW: David, do you think it changed anything heading into his meeting yesterday in his speech in Warsaw President Trump affirmed the U.S. commitment to Article Five of NATO, something that Russia doesn't want to see, and also called out Russia directly on Ukraine.
CHALIAN: I would guess that Putin sees that as sort of necessary boxes that Donald Trump is checking. I think he's far more interested to find out what President Trump is going to say on those matters person to person. I think what -- I think the election meddling piece that Donald Trump talked about in his press conference and not refusing to say Russia is responsible full stop, nothing else, that's the answer, I think was a huge gift to Putin heading into this meeting.
CUOMO: So in a meeting like this, like any other high-stakes meeting, you have got to know what the other person wants. So where is the United States head going into this in terms of what is the big ask from Putin?
BLINKEN: The big ask from Putin is, one, stop meddling in our elections.
CUOMO: That's to Putin. What do you think he's going to ask?
BLINKEN: He's got two things on his mind. Of course, he'd like to see sanctions relief over Ukraine. That's one. The second is he's looking for cooperation on Syria and he's looking for cooperation on his terms, keeping Assad in place, trying to have some of these protection zones the Russians would police for the Syrians. That's what he's looking for.
And there may be reason and grounds to try to pursue cooperation on Syria, but again, unless you deal with the election meddling piece, Congress is going to tie up the president in allowing that to happen. Poppy referenced the speech yesterday. It was a good speech in many ways. There were moments of real eloquence. The president tried to present himself as the leader of the west, and he said do we have the will to survive? If you're not going to confront the single biggest challenge to the west right now, that is Russia trying to undermine confidence in our institutions and in our leaders, then the answer has to be no. So that's why this is so critical that he use this moment to set a clear marker with Putin.
HARLOW: What's interesting is I think we have this PBS/Marist poll about how Americans feel about Trump's dealings with Russia and Putin. Let's pull it up on the screen if we can. It's sort split, 54 percent of Americans think it is unethical or illegal. It's actually 36 percent, I believe, think that nothing is wrong, and 10 percent are unsure. So it's not, you know, it's not completely one sided, Admiral.
KIRBY: No, it's not. Obviously, there's some people that have different views on all sides of this. And we have to let the investigations continue before we really know. Take the issue of collusion off the table for just a second because we don't really know what happened there. But we do know that they messed with our election and they will do it again. And it's something that has to be dealt with forthrightly or simply the Russians will continue to be emboldened, not only to do it to us but others of our European partners and certainly will find room here, they think, leash in other words, to try to take advantage of us going forward.
CUOMO: David, what's a win today for the president of the United States?
CHALIAN: Domestically here at home, if he can emerge from that meeting saying that he did tell Putin that he knew -- that the U.S. is well aware of what he did in the election system and to knock it off, you can imagine that being a win for him. Absent any talk about the election meddling, it's tough to see any kind of win out of this meeting for Trump.
HARLOW: What about a win on foreign policy? To you, Tony.
BLIKEN: Again, you've got to get rid of the elephant. But if he comes out of this meeting and, again, has asserted himself as the leader of the west of our values and of our ideals, that would be a win. And if he acts in the meeting in accordance with what he said in his speech in Poland, that would be a good thing. But there's this constant contrast between a pretty decent speech and then the president himself going out in a press conference, not even acknowledging the meddling, actually attacking our own media and intelligence community, in eastern Europe of all places. That just undermines everything that he's tried to accomplish with the speech, standing up for the west, standing up for NATO.
CUOMO: The speech came second. So hopefully that will be the last statement of where his head is on the issue in terms of having a strong spine when he stands up to Vladimir Putin. We'll have to see.
HARLOW: We'll watch it. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Meantime, protesters taking to the streets outside of the G-20. Hamburg police say they are trying to disrupt the summit. This happens at pretty much every G-20 meeting. The protesters are keeping the first lady, though, Melania Trump, from attending some of the events. Our Frederik Pleitgen is live in Hamburg with the details. What did you see?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Frederik Pleitgen is live in Hamburg with the details.
[08:15:01] What did you see?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. Well, good morning.
You're absolutely right. Melania Trump wanted to attend a meeting at the German Research Climate Institute that was actually organized by Angela Merkel's husband. She was not able to do that because she wasn't able to leave the place where she's staying because she didn't get a security clearance from the German police.
I think one of the reasons why, there's some burned out cars here. This actually happened this morning at around 8:00 a.m. when a bunch of people ran through here and set a lot of cars on fire. Set a bus station on fire as well.
It makes for different protests than we saw yesterday. You know, yesterday, we saw very large-scale protests that happened with rioting happening as well. Today, it's more hit and run things, like you're seeing right now earlier this morning.
There's smaller protests that are being staged with groups trying to get into the protest venue, trying to breach that security zone. So far, they haven't managed to do that. But it's certainly keeping the police on their toes and the police here in Hamburg have said they've already called for more reinforcements than the 20,000 cops they already have on scene here in the city, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, again, just because it happens often doesn't mean that it's easy to control. And you are seeing the reality of that on the ground. Be safe, my friend.
All right. So, from Ukraine to Syria, there are a lot of topics on the table between these two powerful men, Putin and Trump. They shook hands. They're going to meet. Is the big one what you just heard? Does the president of the United States have to make this meeting start with Russian election interference?
We're going to talk with a Republican congressman. What does he want from his president? Next.
[08:20:14] CUOMO: In less than two hours, Presidents Trump and Putin are going to sit down for their high-stakes meeting at the G20 Summit. This comes as CNN learns that Russian spies are ramping up their intel gathering in the U.S. in the aftermath of the 2016 election.
With us, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Good to have you with us, Congressman.
REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Good morning, Chris.
CUOMO: So, this sense of urgency that the president of the United States needs to address Russian interference in our election first and make it a priority in this meet with Vladimir Putin. Do you agree?
MCCAUL: It's not on the formal agenda, but I do think the president needs to get this out on the table and address it directly with Putin. He will deny it. I've heard him say that in the past. The foreign minister, I've seen him denying that they did this.
But I think it's important the president let Putin know that we know he did this. You know, I got briefed on this before the November elections. I asked the Obama administration to call out Putin for what he was doing. We need to have consequences to those actions, and we, quite frankly, Chris, haven't seen that.
I think this is the opportunity and not only from a policy standpoint but politically, for the president to bring this up directly with Putin and tell him that we know he's doing this and to stop. If he doesn't, there will be consequences.
CUOMO: But do you think the president believes in what you're asking him to say to Putin? I mean, you heard what he said in the press conference yesterday. He still says nobody really knows. He disagrees with the intel assessment from the intelligence community. He disagrees with what people like you just said.
MCCAUL: Well, I think it's -- I had the briefings classified. I've had a lot of classified briefings. It is clear and convincing evidence that Russia was meddling in our election.
CUOMO: What does the president say?
MCCAUL: I think he knows that and I think the sooner --
CUOMO: Not what he said.
MCCAUL: Once he admits that and moves on, he'll be in a better position.
CUOMO: Well, how do you explain it? I mean, you know, to your constituents, to yourself, if he knows what you know, and we have to assume the president -- you know, you're wired in. There's no question about it. That's why we're happy to have you on the show. You get these briefings.
But so does he. He knows everything you know. So, why do you think that he continues to deny the reality that's so simple for you to acknowledge?
MCCAUL: Well, I think he perhaps thinks it undermines the credibility of his election, possibly. I think he also had a healthy skepticism of the intelligence community in the beginning when they presented the dossier, for instance, to him. But I think since that time, he's grown into the office, and has a deeper appreciation and understanding on what the intelligence community can provide in terms of their products, their analysis.
It's very important when you go over and meet with foreign leaders to have these intelligence briefings so you know you're dealing with and what the issues are. I do that when I travel overseas like I did to Ukraine and I think he's growing into this role.
CUOMO: But what did you see yesterday in terms of growth? It was just yesterday in a press conference he said, yes, they were wrong about the weapons of -- even embarrassed the intelligence community on the world stage. I mean, there's no other reckoning of it.
He said they got the war. He doesn't buy what happened here. It could have been somebody else. How does that evidence the growth you're suggesting he's had in confidence in the intelligence community since he entered office?
MCCAUL: Well, I think the couple things he did yesterday in Poland that was a good departure, a strong commitment to NATO --
MCCAUL: A strong commitment to back Article 5 which, if you attack one, you attack all.
MCCAUL: He did say it was probably Russia. That is actually, believe it or not, a step in the right direction.
CUOMO: But when he sits with Putin now, you're sitting with the guy, I'm just saying, just tactics.
And as I said on the show earlier, and I stand by it, I've known the president a long time. I know about how he deals with people in power. I know how he deals in meetings. He can be very impressive. I'm cautioning people who are checking him that, oh, he's going to be outmatched in this meeting. Don't undersell the president in terms of how he can do one on one.
But just on the record, if he says to Putin, I know what you did. Don't do it again. There's a new sheriff in town, he's giving Putin every ability to say, you don't know what I did. you don't trust your own intel people. You know that they're wrong. I didn't have anything to do with it.
He's giving him an ally, isn't he?
MCCAUL: He's a strong personality. I think he'll do very well in this meeting with Mr. Putin. And that's why I think it is important for him to emphasize this is an important issue to the American people and to at least raise the issue.
I think Putin will automatically deny it, but as you reported previously, we have an uptick in Russian spies coming into the United States now. That concerns me greatly. We know they tried to influence the elections in Europe.
[08:25:04] And they will continue to destabilize.
Now, Trump did say, he called against the destabilization from Russia. And I think that's a positive thing. But I do think he has to raise it along with Syria, North Korea, and Ukraine. Those are three big issues with Putin right now.
But he's got to get that on the table and off the table to move forward. And I think Putin needs to be aware this is important to an American president.
CUOMO: How big a deal do you think the North Korean threat is? Do you think that there is a chance that they're getting close to being able to strike the homeland with one of these longer range missiles? And what do you think should be done about it.
MCCAUL: Very concerned. This last launch, ICBM, has the capability to reach the coast of the United States, Hawaii and Alaska. They are very, I think, you can debate it. We're not quite sure, but they're trying to miniaturize this warhead to put it on top of this ICBM delivery system.
So I think it's a very serious threat. I know they're coming up with a military strategy and plan right now off the Korean peninsula, really, I think, mostly to push the diplomacy, diplomatic process and economic process to move forward. But I see this as a real threat to the homeland.
And it's got to be dealt with by -- he's going to be there. It's a great opportunity for Trump when he's with the president, you know, of Russia and the president of China to talk to China about putting leverage on North Korea to get them to stop this bad behavior. I'll always if you don't have consequences, you'll keep having this bad behavior.
CUOMO: Congressman McCaul, appreciate your perspective on these important issues. It's always good have you on NEW DAY. MCCAUL: Thanks a lot, Chris.
CUOMO: Be well.
HARLOW: All right. As you heard, it seems like there is a division between Defense Secretary James Mattis and President Trump when it comes to the latest North Korean missile launch. Should the U.S. force -- use force or diplomacy or sit down at the negotiating table? That is something Democratic Senator Ed Markey supports. We'll get his take, next.