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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Officers for Election Meddling; Trump Tries to Salvage Relationship During UK Visit; Trump Denies Criticizing British P.M., Audio Contradicts That; Protests Erupt In London Over Trump's Visit. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:32:28] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The announcement of the indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers will now cast a shadow over Monday's meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Let's discuss.
Bill Kristol, how should news change the meeting? How will this news change the meeting?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: If these were normal times, the president of the United States with this recent development would even more than he would have before, reiterate -- you know, challenge President Putin in his interference in our election and the other's election, and overall foreign policy, including poisoning someone in Britain or trying to poison people then ending up killing an innocent civilian and a NATO ally of ours. That would be the main topic at least for the first part of the discussion, it would have to be forcefully conveyed by the president that this is unacceptable behavior and there will be consequences.
TAPPER: And yet we're told, President Trump -- Symone is laughing. Yet, we are told, President Trump said before he took off for the NATO summit in Brussels he thought the Russia meeting was going to be the easiest of them all.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Right, and he actually knew the information that we know now then. We have to keep reminding people of that.
KRISTOL: That's a really good point.
KUCINICH: He knew exactly what Rod Rosenstein is going to say and yet he still said a kind of offhandedly today, I believe, everything runs together, that oh, yes, I'm going to ask him about it, but he's not going to come out and say, absolutely, I did it.
TAPPER: He said there's going to be no Perry Mason moment where he'd like to admit it.
But, you know, I'm never really watched Perry Mason, I'm a little younger than that, even though I'm not young. But as a lawyer here, I mean, this is evidence.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: It's huge evidence. And, you know, Trump, every time he is confronted with evidence, he denies it. We actually know what Trump's reaction is because just a few months ago, he said, quote, Putin said he didn't meddle. Every time he sees me he says I didn't do that. And I really believe that when he tells me that he really means it, end quote.
So, really, Trump is going in to this negotiation with our most sophisticated adversary. If Vladimir Putin is not some ordinary guy, this is a sophisticated KGB agent, former KGB agent, and, you know, Trump is not any of that. So, there's kind of like LeBron James playing basketball with my kid. This is frightening.
SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, BERNIE 2016: It should be scary. Why are we assuming that Donald Trump is going to do anything different than he's already done? He told us time and time again where he stands on this.
One, Putin is a villain. Not just that he's a villain. A villain is not going to say sorry. And a villain is still being an active villain today all over the world. So, I don't understand why anyone thinks one, Putin is going to act differently. But Donald Trump, even in the face of evidence, time and tie again, he is on the side of Putin.
[16:35:01] And so, here, this is the time, in my opinion, Democrats and Republicans on the Hill need to stand up and stand together.
Look, people talk -- we talk a lot about Brexit and I think we are going to talk about it later, but I will just say that folks in parliament have had no problem challenging Prime Minister Theresa May, OK? It seems as though the greatest deliberative body in the world, i.e., Congress, can't seem to get it together to muster up enough courage to hold Donald Trump --
KRISTOL: That's true. But I think Neal's point --
SANDERS: He can't call Putin an enemy.
KRISTOL: He is the president and in a summit with the president of Russia. And part of it might even be one on one.
And I really come back to Neal's point. I mean, it is jaw dropping to contemplate the fact it is now, the odds are the president will -- the U.S. Justice Department say "x," the government of Russia says not "x." And the president of the United States, at best he'll be in between the U.S. Justice Department and intelligence agencies and Putin, and more likely, he will be closer to Putin.
And what do you do about that? That's a real foreign policy nightmare, I think.
TAPPER: Even before the indictments, I spoke with the senator, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee. And he was expressing concerns, this is before the indictments, about the summit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: Look, the Russians meddled in our election. We know it to be a fact. It's obviously something the president doesn't really feel comfortable pursuing in a very strong way.
But the president, you know, does tend to view countries and people as to how they treat him. I mean, it's all very personal to him. What the policies Russia is engaged in are counter to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And yet, even with this information, it's likely that the president is not really going to exact a price from Mr. Putin.
KATYAL: He's done nothing. He's done nothing before. It's expected he'll do nothing again and that's just a real tragedy.
I mean, this is the Russian president targeting our crown jewel, our election system. And not just the presidential election, but the congressional election. That's in the Mueller indictment today, 100 days or so before the 2018 election and the president and White House have done virtually nothing on election security --
TAPPER: That's an interesting point, because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, we haven't really seen results of that hack, although the indictment does include information that a congressional candidate saw information from a hacker, turns out whether or not he knew it, it was Russian intelligence, sought out information about his opponent and got that dirt.
KUCINICH: That guy's got to be nervous, guy, gal.
TAPPER: Whoever it is, yes.
KUCINICH: Whoever it is. Yes. And you have to think that's still out there. And it could still get out there.
So, there are smoking guns that are still very much in the ether. But I also say, you know, President Trump's allies will say they did put sanctions on Russia, very tough sanctions. But we should also say that what the administration does, what Congress does and what the president says are two very different things. And what the president says as General Hayden said, it does matter.
TAPPER: It does matter. But Hayden's point was that President Trump might have seemed funny to some when he said, Russia, if you are listening go out there and get these 30,000 Hillary Clinton e-mails, and yet the indictment contains information, an Easter egg, not a coincidence, you would suggest.
KATYAL: Not at all.
TAPPER: Saying that the Russians might have acted after he said that. KATYAL: Absolutely.
SANDERS: I do not think President Trump and his allies are as aloof as they would like us to be about this issue. So, look, I think the summit absolutely is going to happen in Helsinki. But what happens at this joint press conference when I predict Donald Trump is basically drooling over President Putin.
Who is going to hold this president accountable? Are we fine with our democracy being on a runaway train?
TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. We've got a lot more to talk about.
I will be live in Helsinki, Finland, the site of the summit, starting this Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION". My guests will be Senators Mark Warner and Rand Paul, as well as Ambassador John Bolton, the national security adviser to the president. It starts at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern, live from Helsinki.
Plus, Monday, THE LEAD is going to be live from Finland at 4:00 p.m. Eastern for our coverage of the summit.
Coming up, President Trump playing clean up. After he trashed Theresa May in an interview, the president claiming he didn't criticize the prime minister, but let's go to the videotape.
[16:43:46] TAPPER: One day after dissing one of his closest allies, today, President Trump is playing nice, denying that he ever criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May, even though there is recorded audio of his comments in an interview with the newspaper "The Sun".
And never mind that the British tabloid is owned by his friend Rupert Murdoch, today, the president called it fake news, even though, of course, he's the one who sat for the interview.
Then, he was literally off on the wrong foot with the queen. He had a few awkward steps with her there during a formal arrival.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins me now live from London.
And, Jeff, it did seem we might have heard a first from the president today, something resembling an apology.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we did. First, he denied it. Then when that didn't work, he did utter the word apologize, something we rarely hear from this president.
Of course, it was all over the plan of Brexit, which he criticized tremendously. It was on, you know, the top of the tabloids here today, which caused a diplomatic uproar. But this is what President Trump said in that interview with "The Sun" that he called fake news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do id, but she didn't agree -- she didn't listen to me.
I think the deal that she is striking is not what the people voted on.
It's a much different deal than the people voted on. It was not the deal that was in the referendum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So that was the issue that sparked all of those headlines, Jake, but the President again, that was the subject of his apology. He said and we confirm this with British officials as well when he first met with Prime Minister Theresa May this morning, he said that he apologized for that headline. He said, look, I said many nice things about you as well but that did not make the headlines. Of course, the reason this is also important Brexit has weakened her governing stance here. Two of her foreign ministers have left Boris Johnson, of course, one of them. President Trump said he would make a great prime minister as well but he did go on to praise Theresa May again and again even as he stepped in the Brexit controversy here. But finally Jake, he said that he will stay out of it and he's OK with doing whatever she wants to do on Brexit. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right Jeff Zeleny in London thanks so much. So let's talk again with our group here. If the President says that he didn't criticize Theresa May then there would be no need to apologize, I suppose.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I mean, it's just it boggles the mind and there's audio. He did this interview he did criticize her. He has -- he's gone after her. I just -- I can't imagine this happening in reverse, right? Like a British Prime Minister going and criticizing the President and what would have happened?
TAPPER: Well, in the United States.
KUCINICH: Well, in the United States no less and how the White House would react. I think --
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They would -- they probably wouldn't have had the press conference.
KUCINICH: Right, they probably would have canceled the whole thing. So the fact -- the fact that she -- you know, it just -- it actually shows how important the United States is to Britain as an ally that everything went off as planned and she grinned in bear it because it is -- he did say negative things about her. It's just a fact.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Let's be clear. I mean, this is not the first time Donald Trump has been caught on tape and it's probably not going to be the last.
SANDERS: I don't think we should underestimate the impact that this could potentially have on Theresa May. Just as early as Monday, there were talks of a vote of no confidence in her as Prime Minister because of the way she has been handling the negotiations with the E.U. in terms of Brexit and what the final Brexit plan looks like. So for Donald Trump in an interview with The Sun, one of the main paper to criticize her and to really just lambaste her and saying oh you know, I told her what to do but she didn't do it. I don't think we should underestimate just how damning that really is and I'm surprised actually the Theresa May was not a little bit more forceful with the President than she was.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The attacks on May and Merkel, both of them, totally inappropriate almost unheard of about an ally let alone in their country and so forth and based on nothing incidentally. It's not as if they insulted us first right? I mean, they're bending over backwards to help us really.
TAPPER: Right, it's not the "he punches back 10 times harder" as Trump always says in his attacks.
KRISTOL: Yes, nonsense. Is this -- is this just a bug of you know, Trump's being Trumpy what an odd -- you know, it or is this a feature of Trump's foreign policy? Does he want to undermine NATO? Does he want to undermine governments that he regards as not on the same page as he is in Germany and Britain? I mean, I think --
KATYAL: But don't you think it's personal? Don't do you think it shows just a weakness by him? I mean he just looks weak and insecure and he lashes out by attacking and --
KRISTOL: Yes, but I think if you believe in America first, maybe we should take that belief a little more seriously than we did two years ago where we also -- (INAUDIBLE) know what that slogan is. You don't like NATO much. You don't like the fact that we get occasionally constrained by having all these allies and have their own opinions. You don't like the international --
KATYAL: Then you don't like Russia, which he does.
KRISTOL: Well, I don't know about that because the dictator you could work with divide things up with, that doesn't want to ask you to help with troops on the soil and stuff, maybe you like them a little better.
SANDERS: I think that maybe --
KRISTOL: So anyway, I just worry. I mean, I think we may be underestimating how --
TAPPER: I want to turn to one other thing that he said in that interview because I think it's causing a lot of waves over there which is what he had to say about Europe's approach to immigration and he's being accused of dog whistles and buzzwords and abject racism. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I know it's politically not necessarily correct to say that but I'll say it and I'll say it loud and I think they better watch themselves because you are changing culture, you are changing a lot of things, you're changing security. Look at what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that's a -- the question was specifically about the fact that he had said to The Sun that immigration is bad. He hates to see what's happening on in England. In England, they're losing their culture. Theresa May said in that same press conference the immigration is part of who they are.
SANDERS: Absolutely, look I want to be very clear that Donald Trump is parroting white supremacist, white nationalist talking point. That is literally what folks that subscribe to a white supremacist ideology, white nationalist ideology, what they say about immigration about diversity. Secondly, Donald Trump has been very clear where he stands on immigration and how he views immigration. His campaign was a parent of Brexit in my opinion and so the question is what are congressional Republicans saying about this? Does this mean that this is where the GOP stands on immigration? Are we now parroting white supremacists, white nationalist?
[16:50:08] KRISTOL: Who does Trump -- who does Trump sound like? What European politician does Trump sound like when he makes the comments on culture and immigration? Orban in Hungary or the far- right party in Germany or the far-right in the U.K. So again, he is strengthening the people who were like it we think he's strengthening. He's echoing, I agree with that. The people who are like him over in --
TAPPER: I thought you would say Marine Le Pen.
KATYAL: But what you see is a president who has brought that cancer -- exacerbated that cancer in America of dividing us, separating women -- parents and children on the basis of immigration, all sorts of things not being content to just do it in America, to export that kind of divisive hatred abroad and that is not presidential.
KUCINICH: Not to mention going after the Muslim Mayor of London again.
KUCINICH: I mean, he -- that is -- that is not an accident. But that word culture to your point, that is a buzzword. That is a dog whistle to these far-right movements that are on preaching racism. TAPPER: Everyone, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Oh, baby, the
British are taking trolling to President Trump to a whole new level with this baby balloon as protesters take over the streets and skies of London. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:55:00] TRUMP: And I think they like me a lot in the U.K.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President Trump touting his popularity in the U.K. but today protests erupted in London over his visit. At one point police worried they might have to pause the March because of its massive size. Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, President Trump has criticized London's mayor. He criticized Prime Minister Theresa May. Is the special relationship between England and the U.S., is it falling apart?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it will always be there but frankly, he's been on the ground here for merely 30 hours in London. And during that time he met the Queen, experienced the full breadth of British pomp and ceremony, barely ever came into central London, insulted the Prime Minister, try to apologize to her, back to her main rival. But what was in no doubt is on Regent Street where I'm standing in Central London there were tens of thousands of people out in force to absolutely repudiate the fact he was even here. Here's what we saw.
WALSH: Tens of thousands clogging streets that would normally be sealed off to allow a sitting U.S. President to be whisked through. Instead, fury at racism, immigration, sexism flooded Regent Street and marched to Trafalgar Square, some going as far to physically attack a punching dummy decorated as the Donald. And London, the multicultural heart of Britain was just getting started. Women dressed as handmaids pared their white caps with white protest signs even anti-Trump trumpeters sounded their alarm. This blimp perhaps the most visible sign of disapproval raised in the U.K. so far. It was about as close as anything resembling President Donald Trump would get to the seat of government of America's closest ally. He said it made him feel unwelcome and slammed the London Mayor for approving it in a widely critical interview with The Sun newspaper that targeted his host. Well, police have actually told people to stop coming in to central Trafalgar Square because it's near capacity this baking afternoon. That gives you an idea really as to what kind of political damage Donald Trump may be able to do to British Prime Minister Theresa May regardless of what he says. So few people in the United Kingdom approve of him as a president that in fact to some degree she may actually benefit from his harsh words. Still, President Trump has left British leaders and the U.K. press utterly stunned and very politely furious. The ego has landed The Daily Mirror declared. SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR, LONDON: Let me tell you the irony of people are
lecturing me about the art of diplomacy. I'd argue with respect not diplomatic when you're about to enter a country to do an interview which criticizes the Prime Minister and the strategy that she's embarking on.
WALSH: The damage his three days here have done will take months to digest but it's unlikely he'll be back in a hurry.
WALSH: Now really, has Theresa May have been damaged by this? That's kind of unclear. Trump is so deeply unpopular that her sort of gilded way of smiling in his presence never really causing a standoff and managing spats keep the whole thing afloat the special relationship his wife over so many Britons here frankly. Maybe and she's the ultimate winner for me and you saw on the streets no love lost at all. He's not coming back anytime soon, Jake.
TAPPER: All right Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much. And finally today on our "POP CULTURE LEAD," they're the kind of jokes that make you squirm around your parents but can also make you laugh so hard. Dirty jokes could be the oldest form of comedy and they continue to push the boundaries of political correctness. The CNN original series the history of Comedy takes a look at the influence of sex on humor and the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America very obviously quite apart from Playboy is involved in something that we've been calling the American sexual revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the 50s. The 50s, everything is buttoned down and post-war, it took be loosening up of the 1960s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody swing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And suddenly people were just talking openly about sex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The new season of The History Of Comedy premieres this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. I am going to be in Helsinki, Finland. You can start watching on Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION." We start at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Meanwhile, our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM"
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, bombshell indictment. The Justice Department charges a dozen --