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President Vladimir Putin Answers Questions About Meeting with President Trump; Syrian Ceasefire Agreement Expected to Take Effect In Less Than 24 hours; President Trump Promises Success on Problem in North Korea. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 8, 2017 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is 11:00 on the East Coast right now. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. NEWSROOM starts right now.

Three days of diplomacy, several critical agreements and one notable disagreement on this final day of his first G20 summit. President Trump held bilateral meetings with the leaders of Japan and China. He also met this morning with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Turkey's President.

But it's this history-making handshake and the two-hour meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that is prompting more questions than answers. After the President was thinking about Russia's interference in U.S. Election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart are offering two very different versions of what the men discussed.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What the two Presidents, I think, rightly focused on is how do we move forward? How do we move forward from here?

Because it's not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed- upon resolution of that question between the two nations. So the question is, what do we do now?

SERGEY LAVROV, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, RUSSIA (through translator): President Trump said he heard Putin's very clear statements, that this is not true. And that the Russian government did not interfere in the elections. And that he accepts these statements. That's all.


WHITFIELD: And now, Vladimir Putin is commenting, giving his firsthand account about what the two men discussed. Let's talk about all of that right now.

CNN White House Correspondent Sara Murray is live for us in Hamburg. So Sara, this only adds to the confusion. This doesn't offer any clarity. Putin is saying that it was discussed, that the Russian meddling into U.S. elections was discussed. But he says he denies that Russia played a part and what did he say about how Trump replied?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well look, both sides who were in the meeting agreed that the election meddling was discussed. That they brought it up, that they brought it up actually a number of times and had conversations about it.

But where they disagree is whether Trump is buying Russia's line, that oh no, we didn't have anything to do with meddling in your election. Here's what Russian President Vladimir Putin had to say about that today.


UNIDENTFIED MALE (through translator): Did Trump agree with your position that Russia had not intervened in the U.S. Elections?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Well, he -- let me repeat. He answered all the questions and I think that he noted it and he agreed with it. But I think it's better to ask him exactly what you have asked, rather than me.


MURRAY: So this is Putin's version of events, that they denied any Russian interference in the election. And according to Putin, he thinks that Trump believed him, that Russia played no role in it.

Now, that runs counter, of course, to the events that we've seen from the U.S. intelligence agencies. And while the American press would love an opportunity to ask President Trump what his version of events is, so far, it's the Russians who put two officials in front of the camera, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was in that meeting, and Russian President Vladimir Putin to answer questions about this.

Americans have put no one in front of the camera to answer questions. President Trump is slated to leave the G20 soon. He is not expected to hold a press conference. You heard from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday, but that briefing was also off-camera.

WHITFIELD: So then, Sara, is there still potentially an opportunity where Trump might want to address firsthand, face-to-face with the press there, at least to assess how the entire G20 went for him, if not to at least punctuate his version of events with Putin?

MURRAY: Well right now, there's nothing scheduled in terms of the President speaking to the press. There will be a small pool of reporters that will get on Air Force One with him when he does leave today.

And of course, that's an opportunity for him to come back and share his side of the story, what he took away from that meeting and what he took away from so many meetings. Remember, the Putin meeting is just one sliver of the very important meetings he had. He was meeting Putin for the first time. It was an opportunity to size each other up. But he also had a lot of important meetings with heads of Japan, of South Korea. Of the U.K., and as well as of China.

They talk about other vexing issues, like what to do about North Korea. About whether they want to try to put more pressure on China to, in turn, put pressure on North Korea. These are things we haven't heard the President give his assessment of how he thinks those meetings went and what kind of progress he thinks was made on that front.

We'll see if he has more to say about this this afternoon. But we've just heard kind of bits and snippets from him today at the beginning of these meetings as he's about to head into them.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sara Murray there in Hamburg, Germany, traveling with the President at the G20 -- the final day at the G20.

Joining me right now to talk more about all of this is CNN Senior International Correspondent, Ivan Watson live for us in Moscow. Also with me, CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rohde. He is also the online news director the "New Yorker."

National Security Analyst Steve Hall, a retired CIA Chief of Russian operations. CNN Political Commentator David Swerdlick is an international editor at the "Washington Post." Good that all of you could be with me.

All right. So David, you first. Vladimir Putin, I guess, trying to get the final word on the sequence of that conversation with Donald Trump. How unusual will it be if Donald Trump himself doesn't take the opportunity right now, in the last day of Hamburg, to give his version of events? Did he agree to what Putin had to say or not?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it is unusual. It's part of -- you know, leadership is getting out and making public statements, so it was strange yesterday that, you know, Secretary Tillerson commented on the meeting, but no cameras were present.

There was just this audio recording. Yet Foreign Minister Lavrov and -- you know, was talking about this openly. So I know the Trump administration is, you know, skeptical of the press and complains about the coverage it receives from the American press.

But standing in front of a camera on live television allows a leader to express their views directly to the world public. Not just the American public. So it's unusual he's not doing this.

WHITFIELD: And David Swerdlick, why wouldn't the White House seize on this opportunity? Get out in front of the message?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well Fred, I think there are two things.

One is that President Trump, at times, has not wanted to take the questions that reporters have put to him in these press conferences as opposed to just putting out the message or the prepared statements that they want to do out of these meetings or, you know, these read- outs after the fact.

I think the other thing is that there's a gap right now between what President Trump said in Poland, on Tuesday -- excuse me, on Thursday, and the message coming from Secretary Tillerson today. Right?

I mean, Secretary Tillerson is saying President Trump confronted the Russians. Couple of days ago, President Trump was giving his whole speech about well, maybe it was the Russians, maybe it was other people.

And I think if this was a situation where this was President Reagan and he had been very tough on the former Soviet Union, and then had an amicable meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, no one would question or scratch their head at where U.S. policy stood.

But because President Trump has sort of equivocated on Russia -- and at times, appeared soft -- I think they're still trying to sort through what exactly their message is, both at home and to allies.

WHITFIELD: And Steve, is that why, in part, it's difficult to know, you know, whose version of events is correct? Especially as you have the President of the United States preceding this meeting with Putin, saying, well it could be, you know, Russia. It could have been some other, you know, countries.

Undermining U.S. intelligence. And now, you've got these two different version of events of the actual conversation.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Fred, I didn't understand why the President took the tack that he did. He has indicated that he's a good negotiator and somehow, fundamentally misunderstood that he went into this meeting with a real position of power.

I don't understand why the President didn't go in largely on transmit mode and say look, you guys hacked our elections, meddled with ours and other people's elections. You've engaged Russia. You've engaged in all sorts of, you know, behaviors that are not in keeping with membership in international society.

And so we're not going to talk about, really, anything that you guys want to talk about, until such time as those things are resolved. Instead, what Rex Tillerson said was look, we had some differences and now we're moving -- you know, we're moving on.

It's a little bit like fighting with your teenager about whether they miss curfew or not. And then saying OK, well let's go to the mall. I mean, you're never going to agree. There's never going to be any proof of this election meddling because this is classified information.

The Russians know that. So it's really a missed opportunity in my view.

WHITFIELD: So then Ivan, there in Moscow, when President Putin says today, let me repeat, he answered all the questions referring to Trump, I think that he noted it and he agreed with it.

But I think it is better to ask him what you have asked, rather than me. How is all of that being interpreted in Moscow?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the entire meeting is being celebrated, basically, by Russian official-dom. You've got senior lawmakers saying this was a breakthrough, this one- on-one meeting.

You have state media saying hey, the face-to-face bilateral between Putin and Trump eclipsed the entire G20 summit. That's all anybody is really talking about.

Some of the media have pointed out here that one of the things that Russia really wanted, the lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on this country, since the 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea.

And more recent sanctions that were imposed by the outgoing Obama administration, seizing two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S., because of alleged meddling in the U.S. Election, that those sanctions have not been lifted.

And yet, the meeting is again being welcomed here. And, you know, Vladimir Putin, in that press conference that he just gave from Hamburg, looked very, very comfortable, very, very happy to be up there.

He was asked -- and there was a lot of laughter. He was asked whether Russia would meddle in the upcoming German elections. And of course, kind of batted that away with a joke.

But it's a stark difference from what you see from the White House delegation, at that same meeting, which will not step out in front of the cameras as this -- as the summit winds down.

WHITFIELD: Yes, so comfortable, in fact, that by joking, he also said it's Germany that's actually been poking around in our elections. So he didn't care that he was on, you know, German home soil by saying that.

So absent here, any talk as far as we know between the two men about consequences. But David Rohde, this is another interesting moment about how Vladimir Putin actually described the demeanor of Donald Trump. Just take --


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Trump on T.V. is very, very different from the Trump person that I saw. An absolute big difference. He is very good interlocutor, he understand things very quickly.

He responds to the questions which arise and discuss, new elements, and so on and so forth. So it seems to me that we will be able to build future relations on the kind of meeting that we had yesterday. And we will be able to actually get to the level that we need. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So David Rohde, is there some ulterior motive behind this kind of compliment?

ROHDE: Look, I think it's kind of classic diplomacy. Clearly, he's, you know, praising President Trump and saying these nice things, that's part of diplomacy. The thing to watch now is what does the United States actually do in its Russia policy?

You know, does President Trump really believe this? And let's give him some credit, maybe he realizes this is Putin just, you know, saying fawning things. But there's critical issues ahead.

You know, what is going to happen in Syria? You know, what happens in Ukraine? And again, this unresolved issue of hacking. So let's watch the policy here, not just the things that Putin is saying.

WHITFIELD: And David Swerdlick, I guess Putin really did kind of imply, you know, that there will be more encounters between he and Trump, whether it's face-to-face, whether it's on the phone.

But he did seem a bit upbeat, if not optimistic, about a new relationship being forged here. How meaningful is that?

SWERDLICK: Yes, Fred. To go back to something that Steve said a moment ago if the U.S. missed an opportunity, I think the Russians -- at least to a limited degree -- seized an opportunity to have President Putin look like he had the equivalent stature of the President of the United States.

Russia has been embarking for the last however many years on this, you know, campaign to reassert itself as an equal power to the U.S. and to maybe to an extent, China. And, you know, taking over Crimea, reinserting itself into the Middle East.

And even if they didn't get anywhere on sanctions -- we don't know that, but let's say they didn't get anywhere on sanctions, they got this amicable meeting with the President of the United States. This forward-looking thought that there are going to be future meetings.

And then on Syria, this idea that we're going to work together with them. And as long as their sort of client state, the Assad regime is still in place, they kind of got a small measured win out of this meeting.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ivan Watson, David Swerdlick, thanks so much. Steve Hall, David Rohde, you're going to be sticking around. We'll have more to talk about coming up.

Also, President Trump says, quote, something has to be done about North Korea. So what is that something? And will his past statements about China hinder Trump's efforts to defuse the ongoing nuclear threat?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the U.S. and Russia is expected to take effect in less than 24 hours. That truce affects Southwestern Syria.

And it was forged by President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany. U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who sat in on the discussions, saying quote, this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria, end quote.

Tillerson's Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, saying the U.S. and Russia, quote, promised to insure that all groups comply with the ceasefire, end quote.

Joining me right now, CNN Senior International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. Nic, good to see you in a very windy Hamburg.

So what can you tell us about this agreement on Syria between the two countries?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Fred. What's really interesting, we just heard from President Putin speaking about it. And, you know, he really seemed to feel that the world had somehow missed a headline here about this ceasefire.

He said it's a big deal and he implied that no one had really sort of picked up on it. But he also had language that was really fascinating, which went beyond what we heard from Secretary Tillerson yesterday, when he was explaining that conversation between President Trump and President Putin.

President Putin believes that the United States has now arrived at a more pragmatic position -- that was his word -- where they are, you know, on -- in a position of pooling resources. He says it appears the United States has arrived at a more pragmatic position, and it's ready to pool resources in Syria, in a common fight.

In President Putin's mind, he seems to think that there's something even more substantive about the agreement around this ceasefire, which is only, in fact, a tiny corner in Southwestern Syria.

And when I talked to some Syrian opposition figures about this, what they told me was that they're not sure how it's actually going to work. How is it going to be enforced? For them on the ground in Syria, there's still a very big number of questions.

But again, listening to President Putin talking about Syria just a few minutes ago, he -- you get the sense that he really feels that he dominates that war and that conflict right now. And that he's in the driving seat, shaping what happens next.

WHITFIELD: North Korea is also a big issue being discussed there. That bilateral meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi just concluded, we understand. So listen to what Trump had to say just before that meeting got started.


PRESIDENT TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate the things that you have done relative to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea. A problem that something has to be done about.

And I'm sure that whether it's on trade or whether it's on North Korea or any of the many things that we'll be discussing, we will come to a successful conclusion. As far as North Korea is concerned, I know that we'll have, eventually, success.

It may take longer than I'd like. It may take longer than you'd like. But there will be success in the end, one way or the other.


WHITFIELD: All right. There, we heard Trump talking about a promise, what his hopes are. And when he says something has to be done, and there may be eventual success, how might those things be measured?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think as well, this was very much the tone that we heard -- that came out of this meeting with President Putin as well. That the tactics and the speed, the pace, may be entirely different what Russia wants, what the United States wants.

And that really seems to be coming out of that meeting with China. I mean, let's not forget, he went into the meeting with Xi Jinping last night after two B-1B bombers did practice runs over the North Korean peninsula, supported by two -- or supported by South Korean F-15 fighter jets and U.S. F-16 fighter jets.

So when the B-1B bombers left the area, they were escorted away by Japanese fighter aircrafts. This is exactly the opposite of what President Xi Jinping had said should happen just a couple of days ago, that there should be a complete military de-escalation.

So I think the reality is that President Trump and President Xi Jinping are really seeing this from opposite ends of the spectrum. And there is not a coming-together of minds and there is not, sort of, a mutual trust on this at the moment. But obviously, President Trump needs his support.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nic, thanks so much.

Let's bring in to this conversation, two other members of our panel. On the U.S./China talks on North Korea and the ceasefire in Syria as well. David Rohde, CNN Global Affairs Analyst and online news director at the "New Yorker" is back. As is Steve Hall, CNN National Security Analyst and former CIA Chief of Russian Operations.

And again, Nic Robertson back with us too. So I wonder, you know -- David, you first -- when the President says prior to the meeting, you know, that there's -- something needs to be done. And there may be some successes. What are you expecting Trump to be considering a win out of this meeting with Xi?

ROHDE: It's not really clear to me. And this whole broader dynamic of all this attention on Russia kind of just shocks me. Again, Russia's the 12th largest economy in the world. The Russian economy is roughly the size of the economy of New York State alone.

Texas has a bigger economy than Russia. Texas alone. California, and -- whereas China is this huge player economically, it's the critical player in North Korea. And it's -- you know, there's accommodation towards Russia, but confrontation towards China.

So not much came out of this meeting. A colleague of mine at the "New Yorker" suggested a new approach where China and the U.S. could work together, possibly involving economic aid, via China to North Korea in exchange for stopping these tests.

But none of these ideas appear to be coming forward. That idea of economic aid was proposed this week by two foreign policy advisers to Barack Obama and George W. Bush. But the Trump White House is not acting on it.

WHITFIELD: And so Steve, you know, the U.S. is testing a missile defense system in Alaska. How might this kind of exhibit of muscle either deter or intimidate North Korea as it continues? What was 11 missile tests as of last weekend? This year?

HALL: Yes. The North Korea situation and, you know, what intimidates and what deters, is really difficult. Because you're trying to get into that black box, you know, of North Korea and what the leadership thinks there.

But to the larger point, it's an excellent point with regard to China vis-a-vis Russia. I mean, look at Syria. We have to ask, OK, why is Russia even in Syria? And the answer is because it's a central part of their foreign policy, to make themselves necessary to the resolution of a world situation, a world crisis.

And so, they successfully were essentially led into Syria by the previous administration and now, we have to deal with them. But you're right, compared to China, for example, I mean, it makes all sorts of sense to work with China vis-a-vis North Korea. There's a regional interest, the Chinese are good trading partners.

There's a lot of negative things to be said, of course, about the Chinese regime. They're not a (INAUDIBLE) democracy by any stretch. But compare that to why we deal with Russia, when Russia's goal is to put itself in a position where we have to.

And that's why Vladimir Putin is kind of crowing about things now and saying look, we're a great power. The United States has to deal with us vis-a-vis Syria. When in reality, I'm not sure that we do.

WHITFIELD: And so Nic, you know, this G20 brought together some really -- I mean, we saw on exhibit, some real strength in leadership. And Angela Merkel actually weighed in on the U.S. and that relationship with the rest of the world. To what degree and how seriously, you know, are her comments taken on the global stage?

ROBERTSON: Sure. Well, she's a preeminent figure on the global stage. Certainly in the European perspective. She is the leading political figure at the moment. She was hosting the G20, so it's down to her to try to get as much agreement as possible and get a communique out that was as strong as possible that makes her look good.

She's got elections in a couple of months. So what did that communique say? Well, on climate change, she had said at the beginning that it was important if we don't agree, we need to say that we don't degree. But it left the United States as an outlier.

She said in her view, it's deplorable that the United States has taken the position of not following through with the Paris Climate Accord. That was very strong language, but she said it was important to put in that communique that there were differences.

Everyone else, all 19 others except the United States, agree. On trade, there was a big concern going into this. There could be a trade war that the United States would put tariffs or quotas on steel, for example. She said, on trade, that they were going to fight -- you know, that they were going to support free trade.

That they would fight against unfair trade. You know, that's something that President Trump would like to hear. But that's a position, really, that was against the position that she had perceived, a protectionism by the United States. An America-first protectionism.

That was the way that she viewed it. So this, again, left the United States as an outlier. The same on globalization as well.

So although this communique did bring everyone together and perhaps President Trump could look at this new body that's going to examine the global steel trade to see where the imbalances are and they'll report in November. That's something he may take support from.

That was really a compromise that she was able to hammer out. The reality is that the United States really -- I use the word outlier -- but does feel for the first time, at a G20, something like an outlier.

Not, sort of, leading from the center at all. That was where Angela Merkel was at this G20.

WHITFIELD: all right. Nic Robertson, David Rohde, Steve Hall, thanks to all of you. Appreciate that.

Coming up, as Russia's role in the U.S. election takes center stage overseas, the President's voter fraud commission is continuing to get rebuffed and criticized by several states right here at home.


ALISON GRIMES, KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: Not on my watch. Are we going to participate in a political activity that is really -- its commission that is set up as a pretext to try to find an answer to a problem that simply doesn't exist.


WHITFIELD: Kentucky's Secretary of State joining us after the break to further make her case.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. President Trump's Voter Fraud Commission continues to face push-back and criticism from a majority of states. The president formed the group after making unsubstantiated claims of massive illegal voting in the 2016 election.

The commission chaired by Vice President Mike Pence has requested sensitive personal information, including names, addresses and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers in the states.

Well, some states are still reviewing the request. Others have refused to provide voter information protected by their state laws, and some states have flat-out rejected the commission's request, completely.

Joining me right now to discuss this is Alison Grimes. She is the secretary of state for Kentucky. One of the states refusing to turn over the voter information. Secretary, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: All right, so why is your state so opposed to the commission's request for voter information?

GRIMES: Well, it's not just Kentucky, I'm proud that Kentucky has led the way, but it's secretaries of state across the nation, chief election officials, who believe that the Constitution and especially the 10th Amendment mean something that elections and especially voter registration are left to the states to run.

We need a national voter registration file about as much as we need another tweet from the president. I'm here at the National Association for Secretaries of State Conference. We've just begun the conference. It goes until Monday.

And the sense I get is that my colleagues are standing strong and reiterating that they believe this is a process, this is a function that is left to the states and we don't need the federal government overreaching.

More importantly, we don't need to tell the world and especially Putin, who we're giving a pass to meddling in our elections, exactly where we're going to keep every registered voter's information in America at the White House.

WHITFIELD: You've heard the back and forth now, the discrepancies about exactly what was discussed between Trump and Putin on the issue of meddling. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that there was acknowledgement that it was to be discussed.

But they're going to move forward and then, of course, we heard Putin most recently today say that he stated emphatically that Russia was not involved and that the president agreed.

So since you did bring that up, what's your view on Putin's account and whether you want to hear firsthand from Trump, Donald Trump himself?

[11:35:13]GRIMES: I think the conflicting the accounts are concerning. I think the American people want to hear our president say that we will not stand for Russia or any foreign actor meddling in our elections. Most importantly, they want to know that they have election officials, such as myself.

Others from Mississippi, Tennessee, California, all across the United States, that are standing up to say there's sensitive personal information will not be compromised because of the insecurity of a president to try to come to terms that he lost the popular vote.

WHITFIELD: So the president does believe and has said it especially by setting up this commission too that voter fraud is a big problem that you don't want to have your state hand over the kinds of information this commission wants. Do you believe that there is a voter fraud problem that does need to be tackled by the White House?

GRIMES: I think my colleagues across the aisle and I agree that there is no massive widespread voter fraud that occurred in the 2016 election especially none that exists to the limits that the president has repeatedly suggested, whether it's 140 characters at a time or on on-camera appearances.

Three million to five million folks did not vote illegally in this 2016 election. We have secretaries of state that stand up for the results of their respective states. They were free of voter fraud.

We don't need a commission that was set up to try to create and find evidence that simply doesn't exist that study after study shows, is just simply not there. We do need to have a discussion about how we move our elections forward.

We did that in 2014. When we had Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg create a presidential commission on behalf of President Obama. We want and should do that again, but the overreach by the federal government in trying to create a national voter registration file is not something that not only Democrats are against, but Republicans as well. President Trump has succeed in actually uniting Democrats and Republicans on this effort.

So President Trump did tweet on not too long ago that your state and others are hiding something by not wanting to hand over the information. What is your response to that? There's the tweet, numerous states refusing to give information to the very distinguished voter fraud panel. What are they trying to hide? How do you respond to that?

GRIMES: The secretaries across the United States don't have anything to hide. In fact they have more at stake than the president realizes, it's the security and privacy in Kentucky for instance, of 3.3 million Kentuckians.

We're not willing to put that at risk for Russia, for any other foreign actor or a hacker or the president's insecurity in coming to terms of the loss of the popular vote in the 2016 election.

WHITFIELD: All right, Secretary Grimes, thanks for your time. Enjoy the conference of other secretaries of state.

GRIMES: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, ISIS losing ground to U.S.-backed forces in itself declared capital of Raqqa. CNN goes exclusively to the front lines of the battle to retake the Syrian city, straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. So the Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the U.S. and Russia is expected to take effect in less than 24 hours. As more information of the agreement between the two countries develops, leaders at the G20 Summit are grappling with how to best fight ISIS.

Even as the terror group reorganizes in places like Indonesia and Afghanistan, it's fighting U.S.-backed rebels in the group's de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.

CNN senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is the first journalist to get through the breached wall encircling Raqqa and into its old city. He files this exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are now inside the old city walls of Raqqa, the capital of ISIS' self-declared caliphate in the territory in which they will make their final stand in Syria and really the Middle East.

That wall, a key milestone for coalition forces and the Syrian Kurds and Arabs, who now control fully about 200 to 300 meters inside the old city. Down that way 200 meters are ISIS' positions.

The forces here don't move round much in the daylight because of the risk of ISIS snipers, less so in these streets. It's at night where the majority of the movement forward is in fact made.

We've seen U.S. forces here, not far from these positions, anxious not to be filmed or even noticed, frankly. But we understand it's them calling in the air strikes, not from the artillery that's allowing the forces to move forward frankly so quickly. I've been surprised how little of the city ISIS apparently are in right now, an area possibly one and a half to three miles in terms of size. So increasingly small terrain that they hold.

But as we saw in Mosul in Iraq, civilians apparently held in their midst, unable to flee because of the ISIS snipers, a real impediment for these Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters. But still the progress here marking potentially the last time that ISIS can say they hold a city in Syria. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, inside the old city of Raqqa, Syria.


WHITFIELD: All right, some real courageous reporting there, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much in Northern Syria.

All right, coming up, Ivanka Trump taking her father's seat at the table today at the G20 Summit? We'll discuss her growing unconventional role as she interacts shoulder to shoulder with the world's biggest leaders.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Ivanka Trump stepping into a more prominent role on the world stage at the G20 this morning. She briefly took President Trump's seat during a meeting. You can see this her there right next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Theresa May encircled.

A Trump administration official noted that when other leaders stepped out their seats were also briefly filled by others. Another big moment for Ivanka this morning, she helped roll out a new program for future businesswomen. It's called "We-Fi," short for Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

The World Bank facility will help women start their own businesses in developing countries by providing loans and mentors. President Trump said the United States has committed $50 million to the billion-plus- dollar program.

All right, so prior to this kind of commitment, Mr. Trump's actions and words toward women have been the subject of a lot of criticism from the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape to his tweet about a cable news television host and his most recent remarks about the Irish journalist's appearance.

All of that now according to a new article on CNN's digital magazine called "State" has made president Trump, quote, "The unlikely force behind the revival of the women's movement."

The headline -- "Donald Trump is the best and worst thing that has happened to modern American feminism." Let's talk about all of this. Joining me right now, the CNN journalist who wrote that article, Jodi Enda. Jodie, good to see you. JODI ENDA, CNN POLITICS ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR FOR SPECIAL PROJECTS: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Well, first, let me ask you about this headline. Why do you say that President Trump is the best and the worst thing to happen to modern American feminism?

[11:50:12]ENDA: Well, certainly feminists are not happy with President Trump both for his behavior and for his policies and some of the proposals that he's put forth. But he has uniquely galvanized American women to come out in force in a way that no president has before him.

So it started with the Women's March the day after the inauguration, where millions of women not only in the United States but around the world protested President Trump. There were about half a million in Washington, which was the largest location, but there were hundreds of thousands in other large cities all around the world and in small cities.

And it's continued since then. Women went home and they started to organize. Women who never were involved in politics or political action before joined huddles, which are local community organizations, where they can take action, put their ideas together, contact their legislators, and try to get some things done.

WHITFIELD: And those marches were bigger than even the organizers had expected.

ENDA: Yes.

WHITFIELD: You write in "State," quote, "While expanding ambitions certainly have boosted the size of women's movement, it remains to be seen whether such a shift will make it more powerful." So why not? What do you mean by that?

ENDA: We don't know what the end result will be. This is going to be a very tough battle and they know this, because not only do they have a president in office who was not fighting for most of the things that feminists would like him to fight for, but the Republican Congress is quite conservative and they are scaling back on some of the initiatives that women support.

Things like Medicaid, which will be cut if President Trump's proposed budget goes through, affect two-thirds of the Medicaid recipients are women. Things like abortion rights, birth control, housing assistance, public education, all are things that women are fighting for and we just don't know what the end result will be.

WHITFIELD: Jodi, while we're talking, we're also seeing that in Marine One there, the president of the United States is soon to be making his way to Air Force One as he leaves Hamburg, Germany.

Jodi, you heard me mention, we showed the image earlier of Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka taking his seat at the table of world leaders. One has to wonder whether the ascension of the business prowess, the popularity of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, helps blunt kind of the criticism that the president has received as it pertains to women's issues.

ENDA: I don't think it blunts the criticism one iota. I think it would help, feminists would appreciate it if Ivanka would, for instance, tell her father to stop tweeting demeaning remarks about women or to stop judging them on their appearance or to support some of the issues that are very important to a lot of women.

One thing that's interesting is that millennial women who never were all that involved in the women's movement before have come out in droves. These are the women who are affected by things like birth control, which is covered under Obamacare and could be scaled back or abortion rights.

So women have not seen from Ivanka the kind of advances they want, yet she is putting forth some proposals that would help some women and I think that feminists appreciate that, but they want her to go much farther. It's not a salve to put her in his seat if she's not really doing the kind of things that are going to help women.

WHITFIELD: And all this while it wasn't what a week ago when she said she's not, you know, political, yet she has a very important role as a policy -- an adviser there in the White House. So perhaps it's still young. She's still trying to figure out her role or the White House is trying to figure out how to embrace her, all that good stuff. We shall see.

ENDA: You know, when I saw her sitting in that seat I was wondering what Donald Trump would have said if Michelle Obama had taken President Obama's seat at one of those kinds of events.

WHITFIELD: Good point. All right. Jodi Enda, thanks so much again. We are looking at the images there, Marine One as it makes its way to Air Force One as the president now wraps up his G20 Summit there in Hamburg, Germany. And of course, be sure to check out Jodi's new article in CNN's new digital magazine called "State." It's at

[11:55:02]All right, still so much more in the "NEWSROOM" straight ahead. But first, the '90s unleashed a wide range of television shows from animated hits bike "Southpark" to sitcoms like "Seinfeld" and "Friends." Take a look down memory lane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of my favorite shows of all time aired in that decade and everybody was watching them. There was still that communal sense from the earlier decades of TV, but it was being applied to shows that were reaching higher and farther and they were great.

CHRIS CONNELLY, REPORTER, ESPN: Because there were so many channels and because so much storytelling was going on, you started to get more variety of stories being told. AMANDA LOTZ, AUTHOR, REDESINING WOMEN: Television showed us women and their depth. It began to show us much more of a range of the African- American community.

SARAH RODMAN, TELEVISION EDITOR, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": We started focusing on teenagers in a more realistic way. Thinking a little more outside the box in terms of what people might want to watch.

WALTER PODRAZIK, AUTHOR, WATCHING TV: SIX DECAES OF AMERICAN TELEVISION: After ten years of the '90s, we had a whole new television world that could take us anyplace we wanted and even places we had never imagined.


WHITFIELD: Wow. Bet you forgot there was a lot of groundbreaking stuff. So the CNN original series "The Nineties" kicks off tomorrow, 9:00 Eastern Time. We'll be right back.