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U.S. Indicts Russians for 2016 Election Meddling; Thousands March against Trump in London; Pakistan Election; Peace Deal for Eritrea and Ethiopia. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2018 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. investigation into Russian election meddling election gets closer to the Kremlin. The Justice Department indicts 12 Russian agents.


VANIER (voice-over): This is why Donald Trump told the British newspaper he doesn't feel welcome in London. Protesters filled the streets in opposition to the U.S. president's visit.

And France versus Croatia, a look ahead to Sunday's World Cup final. That's also in the show.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier, great to have you with us.


VANIER: So the latest stop in President Trump's European tour: Scotland. He landed there a few hours ago and is spending the weekend at one of his golf resorts. It comes after tumultuous stops in both Belgium and England. And now ahead of Monday's summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin, another bombshell, this one courtesy of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. 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: Earlier I spoke about this with political analyst Michael Genovese and asked him if it was a coincidence that this indictment is announced just before the Trump-Putin summit.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: 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 --


VANIER: -- 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 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.


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: After the new indictments, some U.S. lawmakers are calling on Trump to cancel his summit with the Russian leader. Democratic senator Mark Warner said 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: And 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."

Meanwhile, in London, tens of thousands of people marched across the city in protest at Donald Trump's official state visit. Most notably there was a giant orange balloon of Mr. Trump as a baby flying above the crowd. Erin McLaughlin was there.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anti-Trump protests happening across London. Here you can see they stopped just outside of Downing Street, a mini version of the Trump baby balloon. We're asking people here one simple question.

Why are you protesting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's our opportunity to make our voices heard that we disapprove a pretty much everything that Donald Trump is and stands for and has done so far as president. That's it. Simple as that. We can make our voices heard. Hopefully someone will notice. I don't suppose it'll change his mind about anything, but it makes us all feel a great deal better.

MCLAUGHLIN: Why are you here protesting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I'd like my children to grow up in a world that cares about people and cares about planet and I don't think Trump represents either those things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're basically protesting, because we don't welcome Trump, we don't welcome his politics, we don't welcome his xenophobia. You know, he's stoking the fires of racial hatred and xenophobia all over the world.

MCLAUGHLIN: Hi. We're just asking everyone here just one simple question.


MCLAUGHLIN: Why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here because I'm the mother of two daughters. I'm here because Trump is against everything from breastfeeding being supported from the U.N. to climate change to the future of the world, taking other people's children away from them.

And I have to stand up because what kind of a world are they going to end up with if we don't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always been the gay community's fight or it's been black people's fight or refugees' fight per day (ph). And I think this is the first time that I can recall where all of us have gotten actually something really important that will unify us and we'll realize that together, we're going to make a bigger difference.


VANIER: All that opposition is, of course, on the heels of President Trump slamming the British prime minister in that interview to "The Sun." He also criticized the mayor of London and attacked Europe's immigration policy.

I asked earlier our European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas if Theresa May's invitation to Donald Trump had backfired.


DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: 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.


VANIER: CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas, speaking to me earlier.

Ethiopia and Eritrea make history with a peace deal that ends two decades of conflict.

What made it possible?

After the break.





VANIER: The football team rescued from a Thai cave earlier this week is set to be discharged from the hospital by Thursday. Thailand's health ministry says the 12 boys and their coach are healthy both physically and psychologically. They had been trapped in the flooded cave for 18 days until a group of international divers rescued them in an incredibly difficult three-day operation.

In Pakistan, as the country's general election inches closer, so does the violence surrounding it. At least 128 people have died in a suicide attack targeting a convoy of a political candidate. Here's CNN's 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 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: In Salisbury, England, the Novichok that poisoned a couple came from a bottle found inside one of the victims' homes. Police say they opened a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess died Sunday from exposure to the Soviet-era poison.

Her partner, Charley Rowley, remains hospitalized. It's not clear yet if the substance found is from the same batch of nerve agent that poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter earlier this year in the same city.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal both survived that attack.

Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace deal, ending their 20-year conflict earlier this week. Now leaders from both countries are eager to normalize relations as soon as possible. Our Zain Asher reports.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many in Ethiopia and Eritrea have long dreamed of this day. Leaders from each country --


ASHER (voice-over): -- embracing in harmony after two decades locked in a state of war. A peace deal brokered between the two countries is bringing about a new beginning in diplomatic relations.

The historic meeting may transform the Horn of Africa region, where thousands have fled in search of safety and security. The Eritrean- Ethiopian war took place between 1998 and 2000. At least 70,000 people were killed in brutal combat.

The fighting ended but the two countries remained at a state of war until this past week.

An unprecedented summit recently between Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia's new prime minister, and Eritrea's long-time president, Isaias Afwerki, took place in Eritrea's capital, Asmara. Both leaders showed their enthusiasm for the peace initiative.

ISAIAS AFWERKI, ERITREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Congratulations, Dr. Abiy. We are together in the future journey. We will confront challenges and opportunities together and win together.

ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): If there is peace between Ethiopian and Eritrean people, the Horn of Africa region will be a region of peace and development.

ASHER (voice-over): The two agreed to reopen their embassies as well as phone lines between the two countries. Ethiopia's state-owned airlines plans to resume commercial flights and Eritrea announced it would give landlocked Ethiopia access to its port.

The U.N. praised the reconciliation, announcing that sanctions against the two countries may be obsolete.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: I believe that the recent evolution in relation to -- between Eritrea and Ethiopia is a very important signal for -- not only for the two countries, not only for Africa but for the whole world.

ASHER (voice-over): Zain Asher, CNN.


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




VANIER: Big weekend of sport ahead. So I want to tell you everything you need to know for that. Two big stories first of all, out of Wimbledon. On the men's side, Kevin Anderson won the second longest singles match in Wimbledon's history by beating John Isner to reach the men's final.

Anderson will face either Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

In the women's final now, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, will be in attendance to watch her friend, Serena Williams, take on Angelique Kerber just hours from now.

And the stage is set for football's biggest game. France versus Croatia, they square off Sunday in the World Cup final in Moscow. Le Bleu came into the tournament among the favorites but Croatia, making a case in the semifinals why they belong in this championship. They tamed the Three Lions, getting a 2-1 upset against England.

England won't be champions but they still have football left to play. In the coming hours they'll face Belgium for third place. Don't forget that game.



VANIER: Every World Cup seems to bring out a new animal with the uncanny ability to predict games and outcomes. Well, 2018 is no different. If you haven't already, meet Newton the parrot, football oracle.

Here's how Newton reveals his wisdom to us. He nudges that mini football to make a prediction. And it -- I'm sorry, he, Newton, is picking France to win against Croatia.

Now that should not ruffle feathers at Newton's home in a Paris zoo. Minor disclaimer, however; Newton has a spotty track record. It got a lot of the early games wrong; however, it has been mostly right since the quarterfinals.

Sorry about that suspense over France wins the World Cup per Newton the parrot.

Thanks for watching the NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got the headlines in just a moment.