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Democrats Want Trump/Putin Meeting Cancelled after Indictments; Interview with Rep. Francis Rooney; Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Officers for Election Hacking. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] SEN. MARK WARNER, (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Equally important is I want to make sure that other Americans hear that the president makes this issue of Russian interference a priority in the meeting and it's not something that's simply sloughed off with a quick response from Putin saying he didn't do anything. And that's why if he and his team are not willing to make the subject of this indictment of Russian interference a top priority in Helsinki, then the meeting should be canceled.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator Warner, what --
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. So we're going to continue to monitor Senator Mark Warner there, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He wants that summit meeting canceled. Others, Chuck Schumer, would like to see it canceled. Adam Schiff just told us a few minutes ago, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, he would like to see that meeting canceled.
Gloria, I suspect it's not going to be canceled.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no.
BLITZER: But who knows?
GORGER: But maybe you'll wind up with some other people in the room aside from the president of the United States. But it's hard to know. The president makes those decisions.
The White House response to this is to say that, you know, there's no allegation that any American citizen committed a crime. That is what Rod Rosenstein said. But as you read this indictment, it's not just American citizens they're talking about. They're talking about people who are affiliated with the Trump campaign who had communications with Guccifer 2.0. Whether or not they knew that they were communicating with the Russians remains to be seen. But we have some stunning quotes in this indictment. Somebody -- one of the -- Guccifer writing to a person who is in regular contact with senior members of the Trump presidential campaign. Guccifer writes, "Thank you for writing back. Did you find anything interesting in the documents I posted? Please tell me if I can help you any how. What do you think of the info on the turnout model for the Democrats' entire presidential campaign?" The person responded, "Pretty standard."
What we also know from this, which I think is interesting new information, is that, on July 27th, when the president came out and said to the Russians, if you have any more information on Hillary Clinton's e-mails, send it my way, let it be known, that very same day, according to this indictment, the Russians began their spear phishing, and 76 e-mail addresses at the Hillary Clinton campaign domain were targeted.
BLITZER: I think we have a clip along those lines. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was the then-Republican presidential candidate --
BORGER: I think they were listening.
BLITZER: -- during the course of the Democratic National Convention when he said those words.
Glenn Kirschner, you're a former federal prosecutor. Tell us your reaction to this indictment.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, Wolf, first of all, I think we need to take a step back and talk about what an indictment is and what it isn't. So as a federal prosecutor for 30 years, I spent countless hours in grand juries investigating and indicting criminal cases. An indictment is a determination by the grand jury that there's probable cause to believe these individuals committed these crimes. We all know that when and if we manage to get our hands on and extradite these folks and put them on trial, it will be a much higher standard.
BLITZER: You don't think that's realistic?
KIRSCHNER: I think it's unlikely because we don't have an extradition treaty with Russia. Of course, the president could ask that these men be sent to us for trial. But we could all speculate how that would end up.
But more importantly, I think it's little known that there's a Department of Justice policy that says when you're investigating a case in the grand jury, if you have evidence that cuts against the guilt of these individuals, you're required to present it. So on the one hand, it's only a probable cause determination. But on the other hand, these prosecutors -- and there are none better than Bob Mueller's team -- would have been responsible to present to the grand jury any evidence that cut against the guilt of these individuals. And yet, what did we see? We saw an indictment returned.
The second observation about grand jury indictments I'd like to make is this is yet sort of another intermediate step. The president's lawyer can certainly say he's fully exonerated by this, but I can tell you as a career prosecutor, when we investigate and indict the larger cases, for instance, the RICO cases, Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organization cases, it is entirely usual that we return indictments in batches. We either batch defendants together, we batch related offenses together, and I think that is what we're seeing here. I think it can be fairly observed that, you know, this is yet another nail in the witch-hunt argument coffin, and there are more indictments to come.
[13:35:58] BLITZER: It's interesting, the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Samantha, Lindsay Walters, just issued a bunch of statements to the pool of reporters traveling with the president right now in the U.K. Among other things, she says, "As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said today, there's no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew they were corresponding with Russians. There's no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There's no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result." And then she says, "Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign, no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we've been saying all along."
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And I think that's exactly why these indictments are a gift to Russia. These statements show the president and his team are so narcissistic that they're focusing on what these indictments aren't. They're not indictments against the president. They're not indictments against his inner circle. What they're not speaking about in their statements -- and the GOP made a similar statement from their Twitter account -- is the fact that Russians attacked our country. And the president went to Brussels, refused to call the Russians an enemy. He called them a competitor. He's going to meet Vladimir Putin. I think that Putin's actually happy these indictments came out because there's a very strong chance that the president is going to continue to apologize to Vladimir Putin and say, I don't believe the Justice Department, I'm sorry these came out when they did, instead of saying, we have incontrovertible evidence that was so clear that we indicted members of the GRU, like President Trump did back in March, and say that these are the consequences for your actions, rather than saying, all right, I raised it, he said he didn't do it, and walking away.
BORGER: Where's the president saying, by the way, great work of the Justice Department for being able to track this down? I haven't heard that.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: While we would expect the president to say this, I don't think Mueller really cares.
BORGER: No, I don't think he does.
PROKUPECZ: We didn't see him in these two huge indictments, these announcements of these two massive indictments. We have not seen Mueller. It's always been Rod Rosenstein. That's the position I think Mueller is going to continue to take. We may never see Mueller speak on this.
The other thing, this is an important day for the FBI. It's an important day for the Department of Justice. People who have worked years on this case should feel some vindication. They probably do. This was a big investigation for the FBI. This is their intelligence. This is their work. And they are, you know -- despite the fact the president continues to call this a witch hunt, this is the important stuff that's going on in the special counsel's investigation.
BLITZER: And it may just be the beginning, Carrie Cordero. What's your analysis?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there's a few different really important things that come out from this indictment. First of all, it's important the individuals who are indicted are Russian military intelligence. So this was not just sort of any kind of side operation that was going on. This was something that was centrally -- this was a strategic effort on the part of Russian military intelligence that would have ultimate direction from the president of Russia to direct this activity against U.S. elections.
Another key point, I think, is the use of false identities. Gloria mentioned Guccifer 2.0., that and D.C. Leaks, which many Americans think, may have thought was an activist organization comprised of Americans. These are false identities. As we go forward into the 2018 midterms and future elections, it's so important that we take more strong efforts, as Senator Warner was describing, to address these election threats. These are false identities online. They were in communication with individuals who thought that they were other Americans. And in fact, they were involved in this hacking effort.
The other piece is there were thousands of e-mails and communications that were stolen from the DNC, from Hillary Clinton's campaign, personal office, and so there's a huge -- this was not only an attack on influencing the election, but there are many people who were involved in these campaigns who had all of their personal and professional communications stolen by the Russian government. So the president's unwillingness to have an actual statement -- yet, he comments on so many issues, yet has no statement on this national security threat as well as the long-term lack of a strategy. I think, going forward is the big national security and foreign policy issue.
BLITZER: D.C. Leaks, Guccifer 2.0. In the world of espionage and the Intelligence Community, they would call them cut-outs.
CORDERO: Well, in this case, I think they were actually -- it sounds like they were actually part of the conspiracy. So D.C. Leaks -- well, there's an unnamed entity, which we might take to be WikiLeaks. It's not named in the indictment, but probably is WikiLeaks. That is more of a cut-out, where they work with the intelligence service providing the information. These individuals were really false identities who were intelligence officers or intelligence assets themselves.
[13:40:17] BLITZER: Susan, you're our newest contributor. Welcome to CNN.
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you.
BLITZER: Susan Glasser is with us.
You spent a lot of time in Russia. How do you think this indictment will impact the Monday summit?
GLASSER: Well, it's very interesting, isn't it, to see the Democrats very quickly coming out presenting a united front and suggesting that President Trump should not go. Remember, this is a summit that President Trump himself set up. He invited Vladimir Putin even to the White House in that famous "do not congratulate" phone call back in March. Trump has his heart set on this.
What I find extraordinary amid the revelations contained in this indictment today are that the president was briefed on this before he went to Europe, and yet has persisted not only in calling this a witch hunt, an alleged witch hunt, even knowing that this indictment was coming through. He has also made repeated public statements in the last couple of days attacking our allies, but also saying his meeting with Putin is going to be a cake walk, it's going to be the easiest part of his trip, there's no problem, there doesn't need to be a specific agenda.
Earlier today, he was asked by CNN's correspondent, would you raise the issue of election meddling? Again, he knew this indictment was coming out. He chose to respond, well, yes, but he's probably not going to say much about it. This is extraordinary.
And President Putin, remember, is a creature of the KGB. He's a career counterintelligence officer. This indictment is the stuff, you know, that Vladimir Putin was trained in the Soviet version of. He's going to look at the timing of this release. He's going to look very carefully at the White House statements, the fact they're acting more as President Trump's lawyer than saying this is the statement of the government of the United States. And he, I think, is going to correctly believe that the president is coming to meet with him essentially at war with his own intelligence agency's findings, at war with his own Justice Department. So it's a very damaging message, I think, that it sends. I think Putin and his advisers are certainly savvy enough to get the message.
BLITZER: Usually, but not always, when Putin is being hit -- and he's being hit in this indictment right now -- he hits right back in a very similar, if not even more powerful way, right?
GLASSER: You know, Wolf, it's a great point. The thing that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have in common, among other things, is that they're both very zero-sum people. Putin sees the world as, I win, you lose. You hit me, we always respond. That is the heart and doctrine of Republican national -- I mean Russian national security doctrine. I think that, right now, does anyone here really think that President Trump is going to go and punch Vladimir Putin in the nose?
VINOGRAD: The State Department could though. Last time we had these indictments, the Treasury Department followed up and issued a set of sanctions against individuals associated with the GRU. Well, will they do a whole lot? No, but they were a step. One of my questions for the administration is, are they going to follow up, take the intelligence from the Department of Justice and issue sanctions against these individuals under presidential authority like they did the last time.
BORGER: Well, Secretary of State Pompeo has said he's a believer in the intelligence. So he's going to be there. Whether he's going to be in the room right away or in the room afterwards, we don't know the choreography.
GLASSER: And again --
GLASSER: -- there's two different foreign policies of the American government right now. So there's, you know, the foreign policy of our bureaucracy, our State Department, our Treasury Department. By many accounts, they've taken quite tough measures in the year and a half President Trump has been in office. Arguably, measures that Democrats or Republicans would have taken forth. Then there's the issue the president himself has refused to endorse as recently as hours before this indictment has been revealed. So it's mining the gap, if you will, between the two that's President Putin --
[13:44:01] BLITZER: I can only imagine how the president of the United States, who's now in the U.K., just wrapped up a beautiful meeting with the queen, had some tea, saw all the pomp and circumstance -- he's reacting if he's watching TV right now, and no one's talking about that, we're talking about this.
Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: All right. More on the breaking news. The Department of Justice here in Washington has announced the indictment of 12 senior Russian military intelligence officials. They are accused of engaging in what was described as a "sustained effort to hack Democrats' e- mails and computer networks during the presidential election in 2016." It comes just days before President Trump is scheduled to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland on Monday.
Joining us now, Florida Republican Congressman Frances Rooney.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
I don't know if you just heard Senator Mark Warner, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, they're all saying this indictment should result in the end of not only the president calling this a witch hunt, this Russia probe, but that the president should basically cancel, cancel the summit with Putin on Monday. What's your reaction? REP. FRANCIS ROONEY, (R), FLORIDA: Well, I can see an argument for
doing that. I mean, this is a pretty outrageous step up in the nature of the conflict to go from a bunch of Russian business people that we figured were part of the government right now is a pretty disturbing matter and I think we need to sanction them and I think we need to take a very hard line with Russia.
[13:50:11] BLITZER: Do you think the president should go forward and meet with Putin Monday in Helsinki?
ROONEY: If he does, I hope they'll have what they call note takers with them, perhaps Ambassador Bolton, and that they will make sure that they reaffirm our commitment to NATO, that they reaffirm our commitment to energy independence in Europe, and make sure that they make the point that we do not like the fact that Russia took over Crimea and is marginalizing the Tatar population down there.
BLITZER: The president is still calling this Mueller probe, the Robert Mueller, and even today, as recently as a few hours ago, a rigged witch hunt. What's your reaction to that?
ROONEY: In the sense that we haven't found any direct collusion between the campaign and the Russian efforts to destabilize our country, I guess that's probably -- you could say there's no evidence. They haven't found anything on that. But --
BLITZER: But the investigation is still -- the investigation clearly is still under way. We don't know what the outcome is going to be. But do you have confidence that Mueller, Rosenstein, that entire team they know what they're doing and should pursue all the leads?
ROONEY: We talked about that before. Mueller has a stellar reputation as a prosecutor, and we need to see what happens, see if he has the goods or not. The goods that he came up with today are pretty serious.
BLITZER: Very serious, indeed. Were you surprised by the details, the specificity included in this indictment of these 12 senior Russia military operatives and specifically how they used these fake organizations to try to penetrate the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Hillary Clinton campaign. Clearly, no Republican political organizations were included in this operation.
ROONEY: Yes. I think the same Guccifer and that other front was used with the other people the first time around that were indicted. I'm not surprised by the methodical, patient and careful evolution of the investigation headed up by a professional like Mueller.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a very impressive piece of work if you read this indictment. I recommend to our viewers here in the United States to go ahead and go online and read it.
Congressman Rooney, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
ROONEY: Thanks for having me. I know you have a lot going today. BLITZER: We certainly do. Every day, we have a lot going on at CNN.
Appreciate it very much.
We'll take another quick break. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: We're just a couple of days away from President Trump's historic summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Top Democrats are calling on the president to cancel that meeting after today's announcement that 12 senior Russian military intelligence officers have been indicted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Tom Donilon is joining us right now, the former national security advisor to President Obama. William Cohen is with us, former congressman, Senator, secretary of defense. He served under President Bill Clinton.
Let me get your quick reaction to this -- the nature of this indictment.
[13:55:15] WILLIAM COHEN, (R), FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY & FORMER CONGRESSMAN & FORMER SENATOR: Number one, I would not have arranged for a summit with President Putin given all of his activities, which have been undermining the United States for some time, including that of our allies. Number two, I wouldn't cancel it either. But I would make sure there is no private meeting without a record of what is being said between President Trump and President Putin.
BLITZER: The president -- just to be precise, what they had said -- this could change -- the first meeting would be one on one with only their interpreters.
COHEN: I would like for President Trump to do what he did to the allies, our NATO allies. He engaged in the public shaming of our allies, rather than taking it behind closed doors and saying, look, I've looked at these numbers here, you're not measuring up. Go down the line and say, this is an embarrassment, unacceptable. And then go in public and say, we had a good conversation, the allies have agreed that they have to do more. That is the way you conduct diplomacy. Not by shaming somebody publicly. If he were to do that with Putin, I don't think it wouldn't go over well, and I know he wouldn't do it. So I would like to have equal treatment at least considered by the president.
BLITZER: Tom Donilon, what's your reaction?
TOM DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I agree I would not have a one-on-one meeting between President --
BLITZER: Would have a summit? Would you cancel the summit?
DONILON: I disagree with the secretary. I would not have the summit. In terms of the one-on-one meeting --
BLITZER: If you were advising this president, you would tell him cancel it?
DONILON: I wouldn't have scheduled it in the first place. It wasn't well prepared. There's no goals. It wasn't coordinated with the allies. We don't have the kind of unity you'd like to have coming in to something like this. And frankly, the president, as Secretary Cohen is alluding to, has never come to grips with the entire list of active hostility against the United States by the Russian Federation, directed by President Putin.
What's extraordinary about the indictment here today, of course, is that it was -- it's part of a multi-dimensional, comprehensive effort to undermine the 2016 election.
COHEN: But this shouldn't come as a surprise.
COHEN: Our intelligence agency, his intelligence team as such, around him, universally condemned the Russians for firing digital bullets into the heart of our democracy. They unanimously came to that conclusion. This isn't a surprise that the grand jury said we agree with your Intelligence Community as opposed to the president doesn't agree with them. That's something unique.
DONILON: Totally agree with that. We had the Intelligence Community in January 2017 come out and say the Russians had attempted to interfere in the election. You had the Senate Intelligence Committee last week endorse those conclusions, so not a surprise. But the details are important and the timing is important. I would not go forward with this thing. I don't think the president is prepared to go forward with it. I don't think he's really come to grips with the full range of things that have been done. I think we should be preparing our response to what the indictments say.
BLITZER: Let me quickly get your reaction. The president repeatedly blames President Obama for Crimea --
BLITZER: -- including today at the news conference with Theresa May. He said it was done under President Obama's watch. He's to blame. If I had been president, it never would have happened.
DONILON: Yes. Well, President Obama led an international effort of sanctions against the Russian Federation for their annexation of Crimea, the first acquisition by force, territory in Europe since World War II. But you had Ukraine, the shoot down of MH-17, 200 people lost their lives. We've had the use of nerve agents on U.K. soil, the Russians supplying the Taliban --
BLITZER: In Afghanistan.
DONILON -- in Afghanistan against our forces. The president has not come to grips with this. Today, we had this extraordinary circumstance -- I think Mr. Secretary would agree -- where the president has been briefed on these indictments, according to the deputy attorney general, before he went, and yet still went and spoke in a warm away about Putin and what the prospects were.
BLITZER: He refuses to say the Russians are a foe. He says they're a competitor.
COHEN: What he refuses to do is accept the intelligence of his own intelligence departments. And he said, I believe, President Putin. He strongly denies it, I believe him. The notion of the press says --
COHEN: -- are you going to raise the issue? It is folly to keep asking the question. Mr. Putin is going to say, you know, Mr. President, you invited me to help come into your election, remember that? You invited me to see if I could get into Hillary Clinton's e- mails. I tried to help you. So this shouldn't come as a surprise, but I'll deny it. I thought I was trying to help you, but I'll deny it for the sake of public appearances.
DONILON: Yes. This disconnect the secretary is referencing between the president and the Intelligence Community and his other advisers on Russia is really extraordinary at this point. He is really out there alone, right, and kind of denying the uniformed views of the United States government.
BLITZER: Those adviser that he has will be in Helsinki with him?
DONILON: I have confidence in our Intelligence Community. And I would have more confidence in this meeting if someone were actually in the room. Why would you want to raise those kinds of suspicions in the context of this meeting, number one? Number two, Vladimir Putin -- and Secretary Cohen has had to deal with him for a long time, right -- has been essentially the head of Russia, right, Russian leader for 20 years and, before that, 16-years of experience as a KGB agent. I think in terms of experience, in terms of skill, it's over mass, right?
[14:00:11] BLITZER: Yes.
COHEN: And what Putin wants is relief from the sanctions, which he shouldn't --