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U.S. Indicts Russians for 2016 Election Meddling; Thousands March against Trump in London; Thailand Cave Rescue; Trump-Putin Summit; Pakistan Election; World Cup 2018. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 14, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A bombshell in the Russia meddling probe. The special counsel indicts 12 Russian military officers. We'll have the details.

Plus thousands in London protest the U.S. president's visit to the U.K. as Mr. Trump prepares for his meeting with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

Also ahead this hour, a violent campaign in Pakistan, voters there preparing to go to the polls.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: At 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. president is now in Scotland, Mr. Trump spending the weekend at one of his two golf resorts there. But the shockwaves from his past few days in the U.K. are still reverberating.

Up next, there's the summit set for Monday with the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and now a new bombshell overshadowing that meeting, the indictment of 12 Russian military officers, new proof that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

It lays bare the question, will President Trump challenge Mr. Putin in defense of the United States or sweep this under the rug in order to make a new friend?

Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has the reporting for you.


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.


HOWELL: Jim, thank you.

Now a little more on the indictments, naming 12 Russian military officers. It accuses them of seeking to undermine candidate Hillary Clinton. Their alleged offenses include identity theft, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit computer crimes.


HOWELL: The indictment charges that these Russian officers stole data on 500,000 U.S. voters, installed malware on Democratic campaign computers that captured passwords and other sensitive information and kept up their hacking operation until one month before the election.

There have been demands by some members of Congress for the summit to be called off, the White House says that will not happen, the summit will go on as planned.

From Russia's perspective, the nation's foreign ministry says there is no evidence that the 12 Russian officers indicted were involved. They called the indictments a, quote, "bogus story" aimed at spoiling the atmosphere before Monday's summit in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin.

Our Jeremy Diamond is traveling with the president and joins us live from Glasgow. Scotland.

A pleasure to have you on the show, Jeremy. There has been a lot of question about how this meeting will play out. But the bigger question here, any new reaction from either the president or his people about the fallout of these 12 Russians indicted?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have not heard from the president on this topic. But the White House did yesterday put out a statement in the name of the deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters. And I'll read you just a portion of that right now.

She writes, "Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."

I think, first of all it is notable that the statement is coming from the deputy White House press secretary and not the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, and certainly not a statement in the president's own name.

And also the focus of the statement here is not really looking at the indictments of these Russians; it is not looking at the wrongdoing that they have allegedly committed or the hacking that took place. In fact, the statement says the alleged hacking, something that the intelligence communities in the United States and the law enforcement communities have long acknowledged occurred.

This hacking was not alleged but there was indeed a hacking that took place. So clearly the focus of the White House here is kind of a defensive mode, pushing back on any suggestion that there would be any ties in this matter to the White House or to the Trump campaign, saying, as we've said all along, this involved perhaps Russians but certainly nobody in the Trump campaign and certainly not the president himself.

HOWELL: At the very least, the stench from this bombshell certainly front and center as President Trump plans to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

Looking ahead, how might this play into Mr. Trump's meeting, this stench with President Putin?

DIAMOND: Yes, it certainly is going to be a factor. Apparently the president knew days before this indictment came out, he was warned by the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that these charges would be coming down. So that is very notable.

But I think, as we prepare for this meeting between the president and Vladimir Putin, one of the really key points is something that the president said just yesterday, when he said things that are getting in the way of the U.S.-Russia relationship improving, he wasn't pointing to these kinds of indictments.

He wasn't pointing to the wrongdoing that Russia has committed, their aggressive actions in Ukraine, in the Middle East. Instead, the president pointed to stupidity in American politics, the partisanship surrounding this investigation, one that he has branded a witch hunt. So it is very notable to see the president, just days before he meets

with Putin, blaming a lack of improvement in U.S.-Russia relations not on Russian actions but on the actions of Democrats and this special counsel's investigation back in Washington.

HOWELL: Essentially blaming the United States, yes, as he heads into this meeting with President Putin. Jeremy Diamond, thank you for the reporting, traveling with President Trump in Glasgow, Scotland.

Now let's get some context on all of this. Inderjeet Parmar is the international politics professor at City University in London. Let's talk more about what we have seen here coming out of these indictments.

Inderjeet, does this box President Trump in a bit, as he has this meeting with Vladimir Putin?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, I don't think it boxes him in because, in the end, the whole affair has been going on for some time. There is nothing particularly different in quality to this. And I think that it will basically just be another sort of another element there. But I don't think that it will box him in particularly.

These allegations have been running a long time. So basically the timing of the release of this, I guess, suggests a kind of general unease within American foreign policy elites and so on about these upcoming talks. And there are those who oppose the very idea of negotiating or talking, having a dialogue with Russia --


PARMAR: -- at the moment because of the things that we know about in terms of Ukraine and Crimea.

And clearly for the president -- and many of his key advisers disagree with that idea of no dialogue with Russia. And I suspect that there is a larger kind of geopolitical picture and there is disagreement about exactly how the U.S. should deal with rising powers or powers which are becoming much more assertive than they were before.

HOWELL: On that topic of being assertive, this question. We heard President Trump say on the podium there in the U.K. that he will bring it up with President Putin, this issue of Russian meddling.

He said there may not be a Perry Mason moment, that Russian president Vladimir Putin may not say I did it, maybe he will, maybe he won't, who knows there.

But the greater question here is, do you suspect President Trump will be assertive about pushing this issue of Russian meddling in defense of the United States or will he be passive about it and sweep it under the rug?

PARMAR: That is a difficult question to answer. I suspect that it will come up. The key issue really is that there is that kind of noise, if you like, about this whole matter, the collusion, meddling and so on.

But we have to remember, he has just come fresh off a meeting at NATO. And when we look at the communique, which was signed by President Trump and the other NATO leaders, then we see that communique's contents very much place Russia within the crosshairs of NATO itself.

And you look at the 30 times 4 concept which has been put forward that within the space of 30 days, 30 warship squadrons, 30 military divisions, 30 warships could be deployed in any emergency, like a rapid deployment force, it actually does target Russia.

So I'm not sure that, if you like, that noise is going to do very much to detract from that. And I suspect that President Putin and the Russian bureaucracies and so on will have seen those actions. And I think those actions will speak very loudly.

The way in which President Trump raises the matter, in a way, is almost irrelevant, because there is not going to be any confession from anybody and the fact that states, in the way they behave toward each other, particularly great powers, they tend to meddle in each other's affairs on a fairly routine basis.

HOWELL: Let's talk just a bit more about President Trump's time with the British prime minister, the plus-minus, really, Inderjeet, of that interaction, Ms. May certainly under pressure given Brexit.

Did the president either help or hurt her on that issue?

PARMAR: I don't think he's helped very much. He clearly has soured relations. And as the press conference yesterday showed, he stepped way back from the kinds of things that he said in that "Sun" interview.

But I think that there is a dynamic, which is a domestic political dynamic in Britain, which is far more important. President Trump's words would have strengthened the hard Brexiteers like Boris Johnson. But I think there is a domestic political context.

Within the Conservative Party, that kind of -- that sort of division continues. But in the end also, there is a dynamic between the Conservative Party government and also the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour.

And I think the hard Brexiteers are more afraid of a Corbyn-led Labour government, which would be a more left-wing government, than they are of sort of fighting against Theresa May. So they will negotiate.

But I think that they will want to avoid a collapse of the May government. What President Trump wants is a hard Brexit, to peel the U.K. away from the European Union, thereby weakening both in order to line them up for very hard trade negotiations, which will probably benefit America a lot more than they would benefit Britain or the E.U.

Britain has very few, if any, experienced international trade negotiators. And I think any hard Brexit is going to line up Britain for very tough trade negotiation. And I think we're heading, in a way, towards a low-wage, low-tax economy, more military spending, probably greater cuts in health care and so on and welfare.

And I think that will be very dangerous for ordinary working people in Britain. And I think the May government is kind of -- is implicated in that kind of movement overall. And I think President Trump has not helped it, either.

HOWELL: Inderjeet Parmar with a look ahead at what we expect with this upcoming meeting with President Trump and hindsight of his time there in the U.K. Thank you so much for your perspective, live there in London.

And speaking of London, on the streets of that city, people came out en masse as President Trump wraps up his first official visit to the United Kingdom. More on that ahead.


HOWELL: Also, another deadly attack hits Pakistan. This ahead of the country's general election. Stay with us. We'll have the details for you.





HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. More now on the U.S. president's time in the U.K.

It was a rather quick but eventful trip to England. Mr. Trump and Ms. Trump capped off their visit on Friday by meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. The queen has met with every U.S. president since 1952 with the exception of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

After handshakes and a bit of small talk, the president and the queen inspected the front rank of the Guard of Honor. They also went inside the castle for tea. Earlier President Trump met with the prime minister of the nation, Theresa May.

That was after, again, that explosive interview in the British tabloid "The Sun," in which Mr. Trump slammed the prime minister's negotiation of the very delicate issue of Brexit.

During a joint news conference though, Mr. Trump did something he rarely does, let's take a look.


TRUMP: I said very good things about her. I didn't think they'd put it in, but that's all right. They didn't put it in the headline. I wish they'd put that in the headline. That's one of those things.

And she's a total professional because when I saw her this morning, I said --


TRUMP: -- I want to apologize because I said such good things about you. She said, don't worry, it's only the press. I thought that was very -- I thought that was very professional.

That's called being -- don't worry, they've been doing it to me and I do it to them.


HOWELL: All right. Let's sort it out now with Dominic Thomas, CNN's European affairs commentator, live this hour from Berlin.

Dominic, thank you for your time today. President Trump's comments there on the podium, this coming obviously after an interview that left a sting.

But the question here, as he shrugged it all off, what is your read on how he handled this situation with America's closest ally?


And I think, can you just imagine, if the situation was reversed and if Theresa May arrived on a state visit to Washington and started to openly criticize the president on, for example, his immigration policy or his Supreme Court pick?

So it was an absolute diplomatic faux pas. What is of concern really in this particular situation is where Donald Trump gets these ideas from. Speaking to "The Sun" newspaper is already a questionable choice. This is a tabloid sensationalist right-wing newspaper.

But to use that particular platform in this context, when Theresa May had just emerged from one of the most, if not the most complicated week of her prime ministership, where her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, one of the architects and one of the main Brexiteers, had stepped down.

And to come out speaking in his favor, talking about him as a wonderful potential prime minister, was really incredibly awkward and insensitive. And this came on the heels of having made all kinds of comments about immigration in Britain and other sensitive issues.

And so it is obviously --


D. THOMAS: -- comments about trade with the United States, should the U.K. maintain a soft Brexit and maintain ties to the European Union, it was really, really an awkward situation.

HOWELL: It was interesting; President Trump basically, as you point out, giving these comments to the British tabloid, the right-leaning British tabloid, then calling the comment that we heard him say, calling those comments fake news.

Let's talk more about Theresa May under pressure. Certainly after a rough week with Brexit, is the burden now on her to ensure that the relationship with the U.S., with President Trump, remains strong, especially with regard to securing U.S. trade relations?

D. THOMAS: This is the main problem really. And so, of course, she's being heavily criticized for not having responded in a more forceful manner to Donald Trump. And in many ways, one would say she's caught between a rock and a hard place.

The absolute central argument that she has been making is that, once we go through with Brexit, the United Kingdom will be freed up from all of these hindrances, bureaucracy, legal jurisdiction of Brussels, and will be able to engage in free trade bilateral agreements, which will help relaunch what she's been describing repeatedly as a global Britain.

So for Donald Trump to essentially threaten her with that, I think, was very interesting. And in fact, as many people have already commented and pointed out, one of the very reasons why the European Union is such an important organization is that it allows the 28 member countries to sit at the negotiating table with an important economic leader like the United States.

And so people are very concerned about the kind of vulnerability of this prime minister as she goes forward into these negotiations, both with Europe and across the Atlantic with the United States.

HOWELL: And this time with President Trump will certainly be key, an important question to see how it plays out.

But do people there across the U.K. see her having stood up to President Trump or being passive with him?

We'll have to see, of course. Dominic Thomas, thank you for your time and we'll stay in touch with you.

Let's talk about what happened on the streets of London. Tens of thousands of people marched in protest of President Trump's visit. Most notably, there was a giant orange balloon of Mr. Trump as a baby, that floated above the crowd outside Parliament, as our Erin McLaughlin shows us.


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.

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.


HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin with that report.

We're now hearing from the members of the rescued Thai football team, they are now speaking out for the first time since that terrifying ordeal. These 12 boys and their coach are recovering in the hospital still.

But Thailand's health ministry says that they will be released come Thursday. Earlier they went on camera, one by one, sending thanks for the support that they received from around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm doing -- now I am very fine. I'm very thank you so carefree (ph). Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Hi, my name is Mick (ph). I am healthy. Thank you for getting inside the cave to help me. Don't worry, I am safe. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Hi, my name is Titan (ph). My body is now starting to return to normal. I want to eat sushi. I would like to thank the SEALs for helping us. Thank you, everyone, for supporting us until now. Thank you.


HOWELL: It's just so good to hear them.

Earlier this week, a team of international divers bravely rescued them from a flooded cave where they had been trapped for two weeks.

The small nation of Finland has a lot of experience dealing with Russia, its giant neighbor to the east. We will tell you what advice they have for the U.S. president as he meets Monday with the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in the Finnish capital.

Plus a former Trump adviser talks to CNN about his contact with Russian hackers, who have now been indicted by the U.S.

Around the world and in the U.S., You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.





HOWELL: Coast to coast across the United States and to our viewers around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.


HOWELL: One person at the intersection of the hackers and the Trump campaign is former Trump adviser Roger Stone. He has acknowledged having contact with one of the online personas used by the hackers. And it now appears Stone is the unnamed individual cited in the indictment. Here is what he told our Chris Cuomo.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You are the man suggested in the indictments. I know you said you don't think you are.

But what is your answer?

ROGER STONE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Earlier before I had a chance to read this extensive document, I wasn't sure. But I certainly acknowledge that I was in touch with Trump campaign officials.

And I have testified under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that I certainly had a 24-word exchange with the persona Guccifer 2.0 over Twitter direct messages. Any objective person who will read that exchange which is included in the indictment will see that based on content -- context and timing, it is benign. It is innocuous.


HOWELL: Roger Stone there, speaking with my colleague, Chris Cuomo. The U.S. president has routinely dismissed the Russia investigation. He calls it a witch hunt. Even so, he says that he will bring it up when he meets on Monday with Russia's president in Helsinki. To talk more about this, Matthew Chance is live there.

Matthew, give us a sense here of how Russia is responding to this bombshell indictment.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they responded in a way which we entirely expected, which is that they denied it, they denied these allegations in the past and they have taken this opportunity to deny them again.

But they are doing it once again using the same kind of language that Donald Trump himself uses when he describes the allegations of collusion with Russia.

A statement from the Russian foreign ministry released last night, saying "Washington is struggling to reanimate old fake news about the allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election."

In the past they called it a witch hunt. That is the term that Donald Trump has used to describe it. This time they say, it is just from a heap of conspiracy schemes. The purpose of the bogus story, the statement goes on to say, is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit here in Helsinki.

And, of course --


CHANCE: -- that's where those two figures will meet on Monday, a couple days from now, where President Trump says that he will raise this issue.

But because the Russians have consistently categorized this as political interference, a politically motivated conspiracy to undermine both their standing and the standing of President Trump, it is likely that it is not going to be a confrontational meeting, it is likely that they could agree on this issue. They both use the same language and they both see it as a politically motivated attack.

HOWELL: It will be interesting, of course, to see how this meeting comes together, given the new information of this indictment.

But, Matthew, where you are there in Helsinki, talk to us about what it is like. This is a big summit.

What have you seen with regards to preparations there?

CHANCE: The security preparations are underway. The main meeting will be held at the presidential palace, which is just a short distance from here behind me. And, of course, the fact that Helsinki itself has been chosen as the venue for this summit is significant. It is very close to Russia. It has a long Russian border.

Vladimir Putin will be at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, will have to come straight here from there for the meeting on Monday.

But it is just not proximity that's that reason. Finland as a country is unique in the sense that it has always straddled the line, struck a delicate balance between the interests of its giant neighbor, Russia, and the West, where it is a member of the E.U. and of course a close affinity to NATO.

And so Finland sits on that geopolitical fault line between Russia and the West. And that is the reason, perhaps most of all, that it has been chosen as the venue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the entrances to this shelter facility.

CHANCE (voice-over): This is Finland's last line of defense, a vast network of underground bunkers hewn from the granite, deep beneath Helsinki, designed to shelter tens of thousands in the event of a military attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are taking care of the whole population in this country. And when we are defending the country, we also have the proper civil defense capacity.

CHANCE: You are defending against Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that is a potential enemy, yes.

CHANCE (voice-over): With its long Russian border and painful history of invasion from Moscow, there are no illusions down here, at least, about the threat and who poses it.

CHANCE: This ceiling above us, this is all solid granite?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very nice solid granite.

CHANCE (voice-over): But above, on the streets of the Finnish capital, preparations are now underway to host an extraordinary summit, a meeting at this presidential palace of two unpredictable presidents, amid talk despite the recent tensions between their countries, of a deal.

CHANCE: It is not clear yet what will be agreed here in Helsinki or even discussed inside this building. There is no shortage of issues, though, including allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, the shootdown of a civilian airliner in 2014 or the recent use of a Russian nerve agent in Britain, in all of which Moscow, of course, denies involvement.

The Kremlin says it expects arms control and the conflict in Syria to be on the agenda. But there is also a possibility of an unexpected concession. President Trump recently suggested he would discuss suspending military exercises in the Baltic if his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, requests it.

CHANCE (voice-over): Making concessions to Russia for the sake of getting on is something Finland has turned into a fine art; for decades, striking a delicate balance between the interests of its giant neighbor and its own independence. The advice from here, talk to Moscow but beware.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can kind of see Finland's approach to Russia is about dialogue and, in extremis, deterrence. So you're neighbors, neighbors trade, politicians simple severance (ph) talk. But in extremis, you have to be ready to defend yourself.

CHANCE: And is that a lesson, do you think, that Donald Trump could take from Finland's experience, as he prepares for this summit with Vladimir Putin?


CHANCE: Engage with Moscow but also prepare for the worst?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think so. Absolutely.

CHANCE (voice-over): It is how tiny Finland has survived in the dark shadow of its Russian neighbor. The United States, with its vast wealth and power, could soon follow suit.


CHANCE: George, we won't have to wait long to find out because President Trump and his wife arrive here tomorrow night on Sunday night, local time. And they will be meeting on Monday morning.

The Finnish president, before having that one-on-one summit with President Putin of Russia, where they will discuss, we understand, a range of issues. And after several hours, we're expecting a joint press conference, news conference, with the two leaders --


CHANCE: -- although there may just be something that stops short of that. So we'll see what happens on the day.

HOWELL: Juxtaposing preparation, Matthew, with progress in relations. Fascinating report. Thank you so much fighter. We'll keep in touch.

Pakistan gears up for a general election as the country faces an uptick of violent attacks. We are live there ahead.



(MUSIC PLAYING) HOWELL (voice-over): Live pictures this hour from the streets of the

French capital, the celebrations there underway for Bastille Day in Paris. The French president on hand, leading the occasion.

Earlier Emmanuel Macron waved to the crowds from a military vehicle. Bastille Day is a national holiday in France that celebrates the country's liberty and commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789.

It was the turning point in the French Revolution, celebrated every year, with military parades and flyovers.

In Pakistan, at least 128 people have died in a suicide attack targeting the convoy of a political candidate. It is just the latest violent attack ahead of the country's general election that is set for later this month.

CNN is live in Islamabad, Pakistan. Our producer, Sophia Saifi, is on the story.

Sophia, tell us more about the incident and the implications, given the violence we've seen of late.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Well, George, this happened in a very remote part in the southern tip of Pakistan. The death toll is extremely high. It was a suicide attack. And it was an attack that wasn't expected.

I mean even though there has been violence in previous election cycles, this wasn't something that -- militancy has not been the focus of Pakistan's political observers or journalists in the previous weeks.

To have a summary of what campaigning has been so far, let's have a look at what has happened in the weeks leading up to the elections on the 25th of July.



SAIFI (voice-over): Targeting the convoy for a political candidate, it is Pakistan'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.


SAIFI: George, now this death of Benazir Bhutto is very much in everyone's minds, considering the violence that happened in Pakistan yesterday and a couple days before that.

These are political candidates that have been attacked, political rallies that have been targeted. And now, with just less than two weeks left before the election, there's a lot of conversation and a lot fear about what will happen regarding the safety of these major political players in the country.

HOWELL: Certainly a great deal of concern around it. Sophia Saifi, thank you for the report. We'll keep in touch with you. Let's talk more about France taking on Croatia. It isn't the only World Cup game this weekend. We look at the third place match between Belgium and England -- ahead.






HOWELL: The stage is set for football's biggest game. France taking on Croatia Sunday at the World Cup final in Moscow.

But first we have England versus Belgium. They'll face off in the coming hours to decide third place. Let's talk about all the football action. Alex Thomas, live in Moscow.

Alex, let's start with the third place match-up, first Belgium and England. It'll be interesting.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, this is the game no country wants to play because it means you missed out on the chance of World Cup glory, you were eliminated at the semifinal stage, just one win away from reaching that World Cup final with a chance of lifting the trophy.

So Belgium lost to France on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg. I was there. This is a golden generation of players for Belgium. High hopes that this was the chance they could win the World Cup for the first time in their history.

Instead, they lost and you could see the look of desolation on their faces and in their body language. Yet they have to hang around for four days to play another match in the same city later on Saturday, George, and joined by England, who suddenly thought, having come into this tournament without very high hopes, that the stars were perhaps aligning for them to win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

Instead, it is France and Croatia who will get that chance here in Moscow on Sunday.

HOWELL: And let's talk about France versus Croatia.

An unexpected match-up, fair to say?

A. THOMAS: Yes, a massive David v. Goliath encounter. Croatia in the World Cup final for the first time in their history. And this is a nation of just over 4 million people. That is fewer than New Zealand, fewer than the U.S. state of Alabama.

It will be the biggest upset in sporting history since, well, it could be the biggest -- it's certainly going to be the biggest in World Cup history, in my opinion. And it's something comparable to the Eagles losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this year.

That's how different it is. The difference being, with any football match, often, there are so few goals scored that upsets can happen. And we've seen that at this tournament plenty of times, with Germany, the defending champions, not even getting out of the group stage. Spain, the 2010 champions, surprisingly losing to the host, Russia, the lowest ranked team of this tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and Lionel Messi's Argentina didn't get out of the round of 16.

So it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for Croatia to win the World Cup --


A. THOMAS: -- for the first time in their history. It would be a huge fairy tale story for them. Much more likely, though, is France winning it for the second time on the 20th anniversary, when they first did it back in 1998. That year, Didier Deschamps, was the team captain and he is the coach of the current side.

HOWELL: And I can already see Cyril Vanier right here, just excited here in Atlanta for what would happen on the streets of Paris and, gosh, what a crowd in Zagreb if Croatia were to win.

But, Alex, I hate to put you on the spot. You've watched these matches. Of course you know the most about these teams, the players.

What is your pick?

A. THOMAS: I think I have to go with the favorites, France. I think it could be a narrow win. 1-0 for them perhaps. France have a bit like Usain Bolt at the Olympic Games, just doing enough to get through each round, saving all that energy in the tank for the final, when it matters.

And I think France will just go through the gears if they need to and just have enough for Croatia, who've played three successive games of extra time, George. That adds up to an extra match Croatia have played. Their legs will be pretty tired.

HOWELL: And final question and just very quickly, you're right there in Moscow.

What has this been like for that nation?

Certainly a big win for Russia.

A. THOMAS: It has been a more successful World Cup than many people estimated. Some of the problems before the tournaments that were talked about haven't materialized. And if they put on a good show on Sunday, I think everyone will go back happy.

HOWELL: Alex Thomas, live for us in the Russian capital, Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to watch your reporting. We'll see what happens when these two teams come together.

Thank you for being with us here for CNN NEWSROOM this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Let's reset. The day's top stories just ahead after the break.