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U.S. Indicts Russians for 2016 Election Meddling; Thousands March against Trump in London; Pakistan Election; World Cup 2018. Aired 12m-12:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Striking new developments in the Russia investigation. Twelve Russians indicted for hacking and stealing documents from the Clinton campaign.

Plus the streets of Central London on Friday as thousands come out against a visit as U.S. president Donald Trump.

And ahead of Sunday's World Cup showdown between France and Croatia, meet Luka Modric. CNN travelers to the birthplace of Croatia's captain.

Live from the CNN Center, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: U.S. president Donald Trump is now in Scotland, spending the weekend at one of his golf resorts. But the shock waves over the past few days are still reverberating. Now ahead of Monday's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, another bombshell, this one courtesy of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has the details.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the president was greeted by Queen Elizabeth and holding talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr. Trump was again met with the unwelcome guest that never seems to leave his side, the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: I think that we're being hurt very badly by the -- I would call it the witch hunt. I would call it the rigged witch hunt.

ACOSTA: At a news conference, the president again slammed the Russia probe, despite the fact that he had been briefed earlier this week that the Justice Department was preparing an indictment against 12 Russians accused of hacking in the 2016 election.

ROSENSTEIN: The president is fully aware of the department's actions today.

ACOSTA: On the defensive, the White House released a statement, noting: "Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the Trump campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."

The president said he would raise the issue of election meddling when he meets with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday.

TRUMP: I know you will ask, will we be talking about meddling? And I will absolutely bring that up. I don't think you will have any, gee, I did it, I did it, you got me. There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think.

ACOSTA: Still, Trump complained the Russia investigation complicates his relationship with Moscow.

TRUMP: We do have a political problem where, you know, in the United States, we have this stupidity going on, pure stupidity, but it makes it very hard to do something with Russia. Anything you do, it's always going to be, oh, Russia, he loves Russia. I love the United States.

ACOSTA: As the president said at the NATO summit, he wants to be friends with Putin.

TRUMP: He's not my enemy. And hopefully, someday, maybe he will be a friend. It could happen.

ACOSTA: But the president told CNN he will insist that the Russians cease their attacks on American democracy.

QUESTION: Mr. President, will you tell Putin to stay out of U.S. elections?


ACOSTA: Following the NATO summit, where he outraged some U.S. allies, Mr. Trump irritated his hosts in Britain, criticizing the prime minister's handling of Brexit to the "Sun" tabloid.

TRUMP: I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't agree. She didn't listen to me. She wanted to go a different route.

ACOSTA: In a rare moment of contrition, the president said he was sorry.

TRUMP: Because when I saw her this morning, I said, I want to apologize because I said such good things about you.

ACOSTA: But there were no apologies from the president for his harsh rhetoric on immigration, after saying he believes immigrants are changing the fabric of Europe. TRUMP: And I know it's politically not necessarily correct to say that, but I will say it and I will say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves, because you are changing culture. It's a very sad situation. It's very unfortunate. But I do not think it's good for Europe and I don't think it's good for our country.


ACOSTA: As for Russia meddling, all eyes will be on the president to see if he will in fact tell Putin to stay out of U.S. elections.

And now perhaps a more critical question, will he demand that Putin turn over the Russians who have been indicted in the U.S.?

That demand will only make his hopes for a friendship with Putin that much more complicated -- Jim Acosta, CNN, London.


VANIER: In light of those new indictments, some U.S. lawmakers are calling on President Trump to cancel his summit with the Russian leader. Democratic senator Mark Warner said that he fears Mr. Trump isn't properly prepared for someone like Vladimir Putin. BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA, VICE CHAIR OF SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I have been concerned for sometime that the president's ad hoc style of going into meetings and winging it is inappropriate, particularly when you're dealing with someone like Vladimir Putin who has been on the world stage for 20 years, former KGB agent.

He will come in with his facts, with maps, and I'm afraid that actually the president could be taken advantage of.


VANIER: It's not just Democrats. Republican senator John McCain said this, "If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward."


VANIER: The Russians are accused of a breathtaking array of offenses, including the theft of data on 500,000 U.S. voters. According to the indictments, malware was installed on Democratic campaign computers.

It captured passwords and other sensitive information. The Russians allegedly monitored campaign activity, including access to bank accounts, until shortly before the election. The Kremlin has always denied any role in U.S. election meddling. CNN Russia correspondent Matthew Chance has the latest from Helsinki, Finland.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russians have issued a reaction to the indictments of 12 of their nationals on hacking charges. And, unsurprisingly, Moscow is using a similar kind of language to that used by President Trump when he talks about the collusion allegations.

This is what the Russian foreign ministry has said in their statements.

"Washington is struggling to reanimate old fake news about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election."

President Trump calls the allegations a witch hunt, spoken about collusion in that sense. Russians use that phrase as well.

But in this statement, they use a different phrase, saying it is just from a heap of conspiracy, schemes. They also say the purpose of this bogus story about election meddling is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.

The presidents of the United States and Russia are scheduled to be here in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, on Monday. That meeting is still going ahead. And the fact that the Russian foreign ministry is characterizing these latest indictments as part of a political conspiracy to undermine not just Russia but President Trump and United States as well domestically, far from setting the scene for a more confrontational meeting between the two presidents, could actually be something, one of the many things that these two leaders actually agree on.

So it will be interesting to see what is actually discussed and the tone of those discussions on Monday when this historic summit takes place -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Helsinki, Finland.


VANIER: Let's bring in political analyst Michael Genovese, the author of "How Trump Governs."

Michael, good to have you back on the show.


VANIER: Let's talk about timing for a second. The U.S. Justice Department indicts Russian officials just days before this meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

What do you think of this timing?

GENOVESE: Apparently the president was told about a week ago that this was in the works, it was coming, because they wanted him to be prepared for when he met with Putin. And so he wasn't caught by surprise.

But the timing of it, it might have been delayed. But the president needed to know early about what was going on.

VANIER: But you have to wonder, though, if they release this now, if they put out those indictments now of any time that they could have done it, three days before Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin, do you think that perhaps is done on purpose?

GENOVESE: It might very well have been because there are a number of people, an overwhelming number of people, who keep trying to get the president to come down more firmly, stronger against Russia.

And this might be a push to try to get him to do that. He has been acting like Putin's poodle for far too long. And Democrats and Republicans are saying get tougher, be tougher, be more demanding.

And the president has already said, well, what am I going to do?

I'm going to tell him that he shouldn't do it and that's all I can do. Well, the president can do a lot more. And there are a number of people on the Left and the Right who are saying you need to get cracking. You need to do more. You can't let him roll all over us.

VANIER: As you said, Donald Trump knew this indictment was in the works. And yet on Friday, once again, he called the Russia investigation a witch hunt.

Does it mean he thinks that this indictment is bogus as well, that the Russian military officials targeted in the indictment are being unfairly targeted as well?

GENOVESE: I certainly hope that's not the case. It would be hard to imagine him believing that that is true. I think, in the case of the president, it is really defensive in terms of his own position, his own stake in power, that he feels that, if this is true and if it gets out and the more that people get penetrated into their brains that there was this Russian collusion, that it weakens him.

It undermines his claim to being president and to being the legitimate winner of the election. And so I think he personalizes this in a way that is obstructing his ability to judge what's really going on, which is that the United States was attacked.

And when the White House said, well, you know, there is no implication that anyone in the White House was involved in this or anyone in the campaign was involved, well, that's not true. Guccifer 2.0, the indictment said, was in fact with some campaign folks and the fact that the president says, see, I'm innocent, there's nothing connecting it to me, is very narcissistic. He should be saying, you attacked us. You attacked the United States. That's what we --


GENOVESE: -- should be focusing on, national security, not Trump's ego.

VANIER: And as he prepares to walk into this meeting with Vladimir Putin, do you think Donald Trump feels in any way boxed in by the Russia investigation?

GENOVESE: Well, I think there's no question that that's on his mind. The indictments today might just make it one step closer to him firing Mueller at some point because it's getting closer and closer. (CROSSTALK)

VANIER: -- boxed in, in terms of what he can say and do with Vladimir Putin?

GENOVESE: This ought to give him strength and resolve to say more, to say, look, we have more proof and more proof and more proof. These are your military people that are doing it. We know who ordered it. You did it. We're not going to let up on sanctions. We're going to increase sanctions. We are not going to let up on pressure on Crimea.

In effect, what is should do is give him ammunition to go after Putin.

VANIER: All right. Michael Genovese, as always, a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: Protesters take to the streets of London en masse as President Trump wraps up his first official state visit to the U.K. We'll have more on that in a moment.

Plus a suicide attack ahead of Pakistan's elections targets a political candidate. We'll have the details.





VANIER (voice-over): Londoners came out in full force on Friday to protest Donald Trump's visit to the U.K. Tens of thousands of people marched across London, denouncing the U.S. policies and rhetoric.

At one point police had to close off Trafalgar Square because it nearly reached capacity. Mr. Trump told "The Sun" newspaper that the protests made him feel unwelcome and that he wouldn't be spending much time in London.

He's currently at one of his golf resorts in Scotland. Pro- and anti- Trump protests were waiting for him when he arrived. (INAUDIBLE) while he is there.


VANIER: Of course, all of that comes on the heels of Trump slamming the British prime minister in that same interview to "The Sun," criticizing the mayor of London as well and attacking immigration in Europe.

CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins me now.

Dominic, Donald Trump first criticized May. Then he praised her during his latest press conference. Then he sort of kind of apologized to her.

Where are we in this relationship?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, imagine if it had been the other way around, Cyril, if Theresa May had come on a state visit to the United States, gone on a television network and criticized Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court or his immigration policy.

And what he engaged in and what he did ahead of that visit at the United Kingdom was really diplomatically -- I think it's important to understand that -- just really, really problematic (ph), especially when one looks at the context during the previous week. Prime Minister May's cabinet found itself in total disarray with the Brexit secretary and the foreign secretary stepping down. And in "The Sun" newspaper he not only praised Boris Johnson --


THOMAS: -- as a wonderful potential candidate for prime minister, criticized her handling of Brexit and, as you just mentioned in the leadup, talked about immigration as well and, perhaps more importantly, threatened the future possibilities of a bilateral free trade agreement.

So all of these put together did not exactly set a wonderful tone for this visit and this much-delayed visit to the United Kingdom.

VANIER: Theresa May had been very keen and very quick to invite Donald Trump after he was elected president. She really invested in their relationship, especially in the early stages.

Is she getting something out of that?

THOMAS: Well, I think it's very hard to see what that would be at this particular stage. And large-scale demonstrations in London, divisions in her cabinet, a prime minister who sits in office with the precarious support of 10 votes from Northern Ireland and, I think, that the most problematic aspect of this is that Donald Trump's discussion about the possibilities of a future trade deal with the United Kingdom, if they maintain close proximity to the E.U. in some kind of Brexit deal really, really undermines her and has given all kinds of ammunition to the far right in the U.K. and to the hardcore Brexiteers.

It will be very difficult for her to convince them as she goes about negotiating with the European Union that future trade deals, which are the cornerstone of a strong Brexit as they've been arguing, is going to be possible.

VANIER: I want to look at Donald Trump's visit to -- his Europe tour taken as a whole. There was NATO and now there's the U.K. Trump is unusually blunt in his criticism of U.S. allies. That's well documented.

But is he actually damaging those relations? THOMAS: Yes, he has. And he's damaging them in a way that is forcing these various leaders and groups to think outside of the historical Atlantic relationship. I think it's important to see one of the ways in which he is doing this. He is undermining morale in these institutions.

He is also ignoring the ways in which the United States has benefited exponentially from membership in NATO, from trade with allies in the European Union and also the kind of post-Second World War stability that has come out of these kinds of relationships.

So all of these come on the heels of withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, from not supporting the Iran nuclear deal. And these leaders are increasingly looking at a world that no longer involves the United States as they go about establishing new trade deals, thinking about better defense integration and so on because they simply cannot rely on him.

And I think the most important aspect is that he is undermining these institutions. The European Union, for example, is struggling with the far right and with nativist/nationalist parties and governments in the European Union. And he continues to provide support and ammunition to these groups.

VANIER: Dominic Thomas, CNN European affairs commentator, thank you.

In Pakistan, as the general election inches closer so does the violence surrounding it. At least 128 people have died in a suicide attack targeting the convoy of a political candidate.

Here's CNN producer Sophia Saifi on the violence in this high-stakes election.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Targeting the convoy for political candidate it is Parkinson's' deadliest terror strike of the year and the third this week to target political campaigners. Just 12 days before voters go the polls, a high-stakes election has become more violent.

Meanwhile further north, police deployed in large numbers as protesters marched in defiance of city orders. Supporters of Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned with his daughter in a high-stakes gamble to rouse their struggling party.

NAWAZ SHARIF, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Pakistan is at a decisive junction. And I have done what is in my power and what was in my power. I know that I was sentenced to 10 years in prison. And I am to be directly taken to jail.

I want to tell Pakistanis that I have been doing this for you. I am making this sacrifice for your future generations.

SAIFI (voice-over): Sharif and his daughter have been sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week in a case related to the 2016 Panama Papers. Once the pair touched down in Lahore, they were apprehended quickly on charges he denies and his supporters lambast as politically motivated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Let them do whatever police and their bullies want to do. We are here to face it. We will not turn back.

SAIFI (voice-over): Sharif's return could shake up a fast approaching election. His brother leads their ruling party, which --


SAIFI (voice-over): -- is fighting for survival, particularly against their most formidable challenger and archrival, cricket legend Imran Khan. Khan has campaigned hard on populist promises to end persistent corruption in Pakistan, a message that has resonated with some after Sharif's ousting last year. But this election has been marred by accusations that Pakistan's powerful military is working to skew the contest in Khan's favor, something the 65-year-old opposition leader rejects outright.

IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI POLITICIAN: The public is demanding accountability of leaders of political parties. Now, each time there is an attempt to hold them accountable, they all get together and start saying it is anti-democratic. And in this case, they are saying it's poll rigging.

SAIFI (voice-over): Sharif supporters are not the only ones claiming foul play ahead of the election. The party of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto similarly criticized what they called pre-poll rigging when a criminal case against its forechairman (ph) and Bhutto's husband was reopened.

At the party's helm is Bhutto's 29-year-old son, who is campaigning for the first time, despite the violent end to his mother's political career. More than a decade has passed since his mother's death. Tragically, political violence still plaguing Pakistan's elections -- Sophia Saifi, CNN, Islamabad.


VANIER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We are back after this.




VANIER: Croatian fans and players are gearing up for football's biggest game. They're taking on France Sunday at the World Cup final in Moscow. It is David versus Goliath, with France having been, since the beginning, a heavy tournament favorite.

Croatia's reputation has been building for years but they remain a long shot. They now get a chance the prove that reaching the final was no fluke. This will be Croatia's first World Cup final. Team captain Luka Modric has been a key part of their success and he's come a long way.

His family was caught up in the Balkan conflict and, as an adult, he has been caught up in a corruption scandal. CNN's Oren Liebermann traveled to Croatia and brings us the Modric story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The name of Croatia's soccer star is on the signs here but Luka Modric's family hasn't called this place home in 20 years. In the foothills of Velebit mountain, this is where the young Luka spent his earliest years; his childhood home long since abandoned, surrounded by minefields that speak to the area's violent past.

In the Balkan wars in the early 1990s, Serbian militia men killed Modric's grandfather. Modric's father fought for the Croatian army. The fighting killed thousands and displaced many more. The family fled the violence with 6-year-old Luka.

The Modric family made their way to Zadar, a coastal town that shows little evidence of the mortar attacks that were so common here. Luka's family found a home in this refugee hotel where he grew up with other children of war.

DANLIO PAVLOVIC (PH), CHILDHOOD FRIEND (through translator): We had practically nothing. We only had a ball, which we had to buy ourselves. We had a playground full of mortars.


PAVLOVIC (PH): When the general alarm went off we had to hide in the basement so we lost our youth.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Robbed of his childhood, Modric found strength in sport. The local team soon noticed Modric. His first trainer, Josip Bajlo, saw the determination that would define him, playing on a team with other children of war, Modric always stood out.

JOSIP BAJLO, MODRIC EARLY TRAINER (through translator): Luka was hyperactive and he immediately stood out in front of his whole generation as a young football player. His father told me that he even slept with his football.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Many of those who played with Modric had also fled violence. Zvedco Eustage (ph) CEO of Modric's youth team said the fighting didn't ruin the children; it strengthened them.

ZVEDCO EUSTAGE (PH), CEO OF MODRIC'S YOUTH TEAM (through translator): Luka was always full of joy, full of life. He always asked for one more success. He never liked to lose. He always wanted to win and inside of him he always had the character of a winner.

Modric's skills and his ability to strike from a distance has taken him all the way to the Champion's League in Real Madrid, a star on soccer's biggest stage. If Modric has escaped the shadow of war, there is another shadow that now hangs over the Croatian star. Modric is involved in a corruption case centered around the owner of his old team. Prosecutors haven't named him as a defendant but local media has identified Modric in a chase in which he's been charged with perjury.

Prosecutors say Modric lied about the signing of part of his contract. The team owner at the time, Zdravko Mamic, was convicted of fraud and fled the country. Modric took heat for testifying against Mamic then changing that testimony. It's a charge that could theoretically send Modric to prison for years but reportedly a court has not yet approved the indictment.

One more win in this World Cup, a victory in the finals would go a long way to quelling that still lingering anger over the corruption scandal.

Croatia celebrated when the team made it to the championship game. Modric the star midfielder led the way as team captain for Croatia, a country of four million people with one final challenge ahead. From the worn-down pitch of his youth to the world's biggest stage, Modric is as unafraid of the long shot as he has always been -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Zadar, Croatia.


All right. We have more World Cup action in "WORLD SPORT" in just a few minutes. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I have the headlines for you just after this.