Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump at Hotel in Helsinki Ahead Of Putin Summit; Trump Doesn't Expect Progress on Election Meddling; DHS: Russia Still Views U.S. Elections as Cyber Target; Melania Trump European Adventures; U.S. and North Korea Aim to Transfer Remains Within Three Weeks. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 15, 2018 - 15:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Listen to what President Trump told CBS News about the meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your goal from the Putin meeting?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll let you know after the meeting. I have absolutely -- it was mutually agreed, let's have a meeting. I think it's a good thing to meet.

I don't expect anything. I frankly don't expect -- I go in with very low expectations. I think that getting along with Russia is a good thing, but it's possible we won't. I think we would greatly hampered by this whole witch hunt that's going on in the United States, the Russian witch hunt, the rigged situation.


COOPER: President Trump has publicly promised to raise the topic of election meddling with Putin, but a source tells CNN there is still no set organized agenda for the talks. And they begin in a couple hours.

CNN's senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me. There's been a lot of political chaos certainly leading up to this meeting, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there sure has been. One central question looming over this summit, which starts tomorrow, is not whether election meddling is going to come up but whether the President is going to finally confront Vladimir Putin over it. There are no signs that he is going to do so, but the sheer fact, Anderson, that they are having the summit at all is an early victory for Vladimir Putin.


TRUMP: I think I have a very good relationship with President Putin if we spent time together. I may be wrong. And other people have said that didn't work out, but I'm different than other people. ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump is about to find out if that's true. Vladimir Putin has stood the test of time through four U.S. presidents, but he's never been at the red-hot center of American politics as he is today. On the eve of his Helsinki summit, Trump's relationship with Putin is facing even more scrutiny in the wake of new charges of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

The indictments of 12 more Russian agents on Friday still prompted a joke, not a condemnation from the president. Even though he was briefed in advance the charges were coming before they were publicly announced.

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

ZELENY: Since taking office, the President has barely acknowledged Russian election meddling, let alone forcefully confronted Putin for masterminding it, as the U.S. intelligence community believes. And there are no signs that will change in Helsinki.

TRUMP: Anything you do, it's always going to be, oh, Russia, he loves Russia. I love the United States.

ZELENY: Yet, on no other president's watch has Putin's shadow loomed so large. The Russian leader is looking for Trump to do something special, to elevate him on the world stage back to a position of strength. The summit gives Putin an early victory on that front.

Since the days of strolling in Moscow with Bill Clinton, meeting President Bush in the Oval Office, and later on the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First I'd like to congratulate President Putin for being the only person that caught a fish today.

ZELENY: The Russian President has become isolated, punished by much of the world for the invasion of Ukrainian Crimea, the downing of a polish plane, the deadly nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom, and far more atrocities. After a failed reset with Barack Obama who didn't fully recognize Moscow's reemerging threat or callout election interference until it was too late, Trump has repeatedly diminished any dark motives by Putin, who's even become a central theme at his campaign rallies.

TRUMP: But they're going, well, President Trump, be prepared, you know, President Putin is KGB in this event. You know what, Putin's fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been prepared for this stuff my whole life.

ZELENY: The Helsinki meeting is Trump's first solo summit with Putin after an initial introduction last summer at the G20 summit in Germany.

TRUMP: It's an honor to be with you. Thank you, thank you.

ZELENY: They met again briefly last fall at in an economic forum in Vietnam, where Trump showed little appetite for challenging his Russian counterpart for interfering in the 2016 election.

TRUMP: I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.

ZELENY: Since then, the Department of Justice has offered significant evidence to the contrary. The latest round of indictments against Russian agents making an already controversial summit dramatically more so, particularly as the President continues to discredit the special counsel's investigation.

TRUMP: I call it the rigged witch hunt.

ZELENY: The President arrives in Finland after a week of sharply criticizing in at times publicly embarrassing loyal American allies. Now his warm embrace of Putin has the eyes of the world on this summit.


ZELENY: And like that summit just a month ago, Anderson, in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, the President is giving Vladimir Putin a major stage, the world stage here in Helsinki. The question is, what if anything will come of this summit? That some in the White House now are not even calling it a summit. They're saying simply a meeting, already trying to lower some expectations. Anderson?

[15:05:07] COOPER: Yes. Jeff, I mean it is remarkable that the President, even after and were -- or even after the indictments were announced, but even when he knew about these 12 indictments were coming out, he continues to call the Mueller investigation a witch hunt?

ZELENY: It was remarkable, but that is what the President believes. That is his whole narrative that he's been saying, you know, really since the beginning. And I was actually asking senior administration officials if they believe that this summit simply draws more attention to this. They believe, at least they're trying to say and argue is that this meeting here with Putin hope might to redirect the conversation from the Mueller investigation on to showing the President on the world stage doing his job, meeting with foreign leaders.

But Anderson, this investigation still hanging over here so has happened since their last meeting last fall. The U.S. government has put out so much more information about Russia actually did. So that's certainly if it doesn't come up tomorrow, the President will have to be explaining why it didn't. Anderson.

COPPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Mr. Trump has publicly promised he'll raise the topic of election meddling with Putin, but he doesn't expect much to come from it, as you heard in that piece. A source told CNN. CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins me now. What other details do we know? I mean, how the President may or may not address this?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be similar to the last time he brought it up. He said he raised it and he raised it again. He spent some time on it.

I think it was 20 minutes the last time and Putin kept saying the same thing, denying it. So this time around, for this thing that has many more eyes on it and so much pressure, the timing could not be worse for this sit-down. You know, with members of Congress asking him not to even have this sit-down, it still remains to be seen how he's going to bring it up.

He has said as you just heard that he'll bring it up and he'll bring it up firmly, but if this is indeed going to be behind closed doors with only translators present, he could bring it up in the same perfunctory way that he's been saying behind the scenes he will. What he's been saying as he's been on this trip, according to a source of ours, is that he already knows what --


KOSINSKI: -- Putin is going to respond. And he doesn't really feel that there's any point to bringing it up forcefully, and the only reason that he will bring it up is because he feels he has to. Also in an interview with CBS that just happened, he was asked, well, how about extraditing those Russian intelligence officers that were just indicted for election meddling? Here's what Trump said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians who were indicted, would you ask Putin to send them here?

TRUMP: Well, I might. I hadn't thought of that, but I certainly I'll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.

And I heard that they were trying or people were trying to hack into the RNC too, the Republican National Committee, but we had much better defenses. I've been told that by a number of people. We had much better defenses, so they couldn't.

I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked.


KOSINSKI: A source with acknowledge of discussions surrounding this says it's possible that Putin will offer some kind of noninterference agreement, but it's unlikely that the U.S. will accept it, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Michelle Kosinski, a lot to watch for. Thanks very much, Michelle.

Well, President Trump is passing the blame on to Democrats, as you just heard. Not everyone, including members of the President's own party are ready to let Russia off the hook.


REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't think it's a witch hunt. I've never thought it was a witch hunt. We now have two series of indictments against Russians, one for the social media, the other for the unlawful intrusions.

Russia attacked this country in 2016. I would ask the President to give some serious consideration. Your first request of Vladimir Putin needs to be, tell us which airport we can pick up the 25 Russians that tried to interfere with the fundamentals of our democracy.

If you really claim you had nothing to do with it, then you should be as shocked as we were that your military was being used to impact our election. Tell us where you're going to extradite those folks because an American grand jury indicted them for undermining our democracy.


COOPER: Joining me now, CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins, also CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst, Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Kaitlan, certainly strong words there from Congressman Gowdy. The question remains, of course, what the President may actually say. The fact that when asked by Jeff Glor over at CBS whether he was going to ask Putin about extraditing them, we don't have an extradition treaty with Russia, he said, well, I hadn't thought about it.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Which is stunning and it's not even how the President, what he says to Vladimir Putin, it's how he says it about election meddling because he's made clear that in the times he's asked him before that he's denied doing it. And the President has said essentially, what more can I do? But he lets him say it. He says he's going to confront him about it. But the question is how much does he confront him about it, or is it just this ritualistic thing where he asks him, did you meddle in the election? Putin says no and then they move on to everything else.

[15:10:16] Because I can't think of another President that would come to a meeting, give Vladimir Putin all of this prestige by meeting with him in Helsinki a few days after 12 Russian intelligence officers, officials of the state, attacked an American election and were indicted for it, and they don't bring it up to a large amount -- to a large degree.

COOPER: It is -- I mean David, it's hard to imagine this is just a coincidence that these indictments came down when they did. I mean the President was given advanced warning about them, could have canceled the summit if he'd wanted to. But the White House has not even put out a public statement critical of Russia for hacking. They basically said, well, these indictments just show and had nothing to do with us, with the Trump campaign. And now you hear the President saying it was the Democrats fault, blames the Democrats?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The President is saying basically if a thief goes up to a house and can't get in, it's all locked up, I mean, goes next door to the neighbor and can get in that house, the neighbor next door is the one responsible for the theft.

COOPER: Yes, blaming -- I mean, the victim literary?

GERGEN: -- the victim. Listen, a lot of people say he should cancel the summit. I think to the contrary. This is an ideal moment for the President to pivot. He could get really angry with Putin. You lied to me continuously about this.

We now have evidence that shows you've lied. You tried to steal this election. And we're not going to be able to settle anything else until we come to terms with that and both of us clear the air on that. It would help the President enormously back home. Will he do it? I don't think so.

I think he's been so cavalier and dismissive of this in public. You can only imagine what he's been saying in private to his aides. I'm not going to do all this SOB, et cetera, et cetera. And, you know, I don't know. The great mystery of this administration all along has been, why is he so obsequious?

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And why with everybody else he can be a bully. But with the Russians, you know, he bows bound. It's hard --

COOPER: Right. When asked by CBS about foes of the United States, the first one was --

GERGEN: Was the E.U.

COOPER: -- the European Union.

GERGEN: Yes. Yes. He names the European Union. You know, he names China. And he names Russia. The European Union is in the same league as your foe?

COLLINS: And comes before Russia.

GERGEN: And comes before Russian to the top of your list. I mean it is -- it's bizarre. I wish some psychoanalyst could come up with a big answer. But I'll tell you, the country is going to be -- a lot of the people in the country are going to be cynical if he does not confront him in this meeting. It's the central drama right now of this summit.

COOPER: Admiral Kirby, I mean Helsinki, which is a place where there have been summits in the past, obviously very historic ones. Not a coincidence that they choose to have this here. What's different this time is there really is no set agenda. I mean there's not meetings that have been taking place, and there's a document or communique to be signed that, you know, in advance or an agreement that's going to be signed by two world leaders, which often happens.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: And that's what I think makes this summit so worrisome to our European allies. And frankly, our other friends around the world, normal the staffs have all done all this work and the outcome kind of is precooked, two leaders kind of sit down, they sign a communique, they do a presser, and it's done. And usually there's something tangible that both can take away from this, some agreement to move forward on a particular issue. And typically these summits are about one issue.

In this case, we have none of that. So it's pretty much a crap shoot. We have no idea where it's going to go. And because Trump tends to go off script and likes to ad lib, it makes the outcomes all the more dangerous.

COOPER: You also have this one-on-one meeting between --


COOPER: -- Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, only with translators. That's also unusual.

GERGEN: And there's not going to any written record and what happens in that meeting. When they come out and say something, we have no idea if they're telling the truth or not. There's the interpreter basically, those notes cannot become part of the record.

COLLINS: And the White House has been really lowering the expectations of this summit today. The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, said in an interview that this isn't a summit. It's a meeting, even though the President himself later referred to it as a summit. And Huntsman himself referred to it as a summit several times during a call with reporters.

The President himself saying he has low expectations. He doesn't know what his goal for it is. I don't know any other president that would come into these meeting the days after these indictments came down. I would say they don't know what their goal of the meeting is going to be.

GERGEN: Could they be pushing arms control? That's the one area they might have already possibly through?

COLLINS: Well, that's the question. Bolton was asked also potential concessions that the President could make you ruled out recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. He ruled out pulling forces out of Syria before ISIS is gone.

He also ruled out stopping those joint military exercises in the Baltic States. But of course, none of that matters. What matters is what the President himself says. When the President was asked about that the other day, he was not as clear as John Bolton was. COOPER: In fact, Ambassador Kirby the President said he would if Putin asked about stopping extra military exercises in Baltic States that he would consider that?

KIRBY: Yes. That again sent shock waves through all our allies in Brussels as well as at the Defense Department. That's the last thing we need to do, is convey a message that Putin that we're somehow going to waiver for our military commitment.

[15:15:00] COOPER: Imagine for our folks in the Baltic States were pretty freaked out as well.

KIRBY: Absolutely. And remember the Baltic States, especially the new ones of new members. They're the ones that are meeting the 2%. They're really stepping up because the threat from Russia is real. It's on their doorstep. It's not just theoretical to them.

COOPER: It was interesting when you heard Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Russia -- President Trump's ambassador of Russia say that this is not a summit and then the President tweeting this is a summit with a capital "S." I'm wondering if Jon Huntsman then gets a call from the White House saying like, you know, that's -- or if he gets recalled. I mean, you know, that's --

COLLINS: It goes --

COOPER: -- that's in a huge disagreement with the President.

COLLINS: It completely is. And it goes to show it's not just semantics. It shows how unprepared this administration is for this or what they're walking into this with different view points on what they're going to get on --

COOPER: You would think Russian -- America's ambassador to Russia would know whether or not it's a summit.

COLLINS: Those are the two people who should be --


COLLINS: -- on the same page, the President and the Russian President.

GERGEN: But there has been a disconnect between the President and his team all the way along. We had that going into the G7 meeting. They briefed it was going to be, you know, all roses. It turned out to be the opposite. We had it before the meeting here, the NATO meeting.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: You know, Huntsman and the others were -- briefing there was going to be about unity --

KIRBY: On North Korea as well.

COOPER: Yes. GERGEN: -- in North Korea.

COOPER: Well, it's a lot to watch for. And this location cannot be any more beautiful. Just over our shoulders where this meeting is going to be taking a place tomorrow.

Kaitlan Collins, David Gergen, John Kirby, thank you very much.

The President is on the ground here in Helsinki. Like his other stops, controversy certainly has followed. We've been talking about that.

We'll tell you why he called the European Union a foe of the United States, and I'll get reaction to the summit from the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, just ahead.


[15:20:38] COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in Helsinki from the Allas Sea Pool. You can see the presidential palace behind me where the historic meeting between President Trump and President Putin will be taking place several hours from now.

President Trump is now at his hotel here in Helsinki. The White House is brushing aside any suggestion that President Trump back out after the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for meddling the 2016 U.S. election.

I want to bring in now Alexander Vershbow the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Former Deputy Secretary General of NATO, also Aaron David Miller, our CNN Global Affairs Analyst. He was an adviser of several presidents during his more than 2 decades at the state department.

President Trump clearly wasn't going to pull out of this meeting just because Democrats told him to. Is there a message, Mr. Ambassador, that he can or should send to Vladimir Putin?

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR FOR RUSSIA: Yes. It's clear the President was never going to give up this meeting, and there is a lot that he should be talking with Putin about. But I'm in favor of the meeting.

First of all, he should raise the interference in our elections with the indictments that's all the more stark, that Russians were directly threatening our democracy. And he should bring this up with him and not just brush it aside.

There's also a lot of other behavior the Russians have been engaged in, their aggression against Ukraine, their aggressive approach in Syria, which doesn't have our interests at heart. And they violated an arms control agreement and conducted a lot of provocative military activities in Europe. So there's plenty to talk about, but not a lot that's easy to agree about.

COOPER: Aaron, I mean in terms of the summit, have you seen anything like this one, just in terms of the lack of an actual plan or the lack of what the content is going to be?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No, the answer is no a thousand times, no. I mean I've worked for R.S. and D.S., and voted for R.S. and D.S., Anderson. And I have to say, this is the first President in a modern period that seemingly has an inability to turn the "M" in me upside down so that it becomes a "W" in we.

In short, his conception of the national interest is tethered to what he likes and doesn't like what his needs are, and what his own requirements are. Nowhere is this more alarmingly demonstrated in my view than in his relationship with Vladimir Putin. There is no foreign policy or national security explanation for the pretur naturally safe space that this President seems to accord to the Russian leader. And it's -- it has resulted, I think, in what you suggest, an unplanned, ill-prepared summit where the likely winner even -- Sandy may agree, Ambassador Vershbow may agree is going to be Putin, merely because the meeting is taking place.

COOPER: Ambassador, do you think that's the case? I mean, which is what many people were saying about in advance of the North Korean summit that just by having the meeting on the world stage like this between these two leaders, Kim Jong-un won something without giving up anything, and Vladimir Putin, do you think he does the same?

VERSHBOW: I do. I mean, just having this meeting is a signal to the Russian people and to the rest of the world that Putin is no longer in isolation or being punished for the aggression against Ukraine or the hacking of our election. And it's sort of let bygones be bygones. And that isn't the approach that we should be taking when there are so many issues that the Russians have to answer for.

The problem is Putin doesn't take any responsibility for anything. and when he gets in that room with the President without the staff involved, just the interpreters, he's going to give him lectures about the history of Ukraine, which will try to convince the President that it's all our fault, that NATO is the provocative ones, and that the Russians are just the innocent victims. And that's why everybody worries that even with no agenda or maybe because there's no agenda we're going to end up with some kind of serious mistakes by the President, just as he made in Singapore.

COOPER: Aaron, you know, often in a summit like this, they try to have some sort of other a signed document or some sort of joint communique or joint declaration. Is there some common ground that perhaps could be reached, assuming Vladimir Putin, as President said, is not going to admit to meddling and the President may not even push it very hard or demand something on that front? Is there movement on nuclear weapons that we might see?

[15:25:02] MILLER: I mean if you look at the issues, Anderson, they seem to be -- you know, they fall into either root canals or migraine headaches. You know, new START expires in 2021. The INF treaty needs to be addressed. There's no question Ukraine is a problem. Syria, where people have speculated that there may be some balance of interest to be agreed on. I just don't see any of the substance falling into place. What I think you could hope for is that diplomatic equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. Above all, do no harm. Don't give the Russians a pass publicly, and that's the key here. Whatever Mr. Trump says to Mr. Putin in a throwaway talking point privately really doesn't matter.

For me, the issue is interference in our election. And if the President is prepared in a public press conference with Mr. Putin to press the issue of Russian interference and warn of the consequences, if it continues, I mean, that would be a President who has courage, conviction, and would stand up. I just think the chances of that happening either slim to none.

COOPER: Mr. Ambassador, do you think there is -- the President was saying that if President Putin asked him to limit or halt military exercises in Baltic States that he would consider that. I assume that led to some huge amounts of surprise in the Baltic States, in Brussels, and even among our military planners.

VERSHBOW: Absolutely. I was just in Brussels for a couple days during and after the summit. And there was a lot of anxiety about that remark. And while Bolton has assured everyone that it's not going to happen, we saw in Singapore at the last minute that the President agreed to curtail exercises and bought the Kim Jong-un narrative that these are provocative, which they're not. They're about defending an ally in a proportionate way.

So that could happen. He could make some statement about the sovereignty of Russia over Crimea without changing our position, but, you know, basically telling the Ukrainians give up on ever getting your territory back. So there's a lot of risks here.

But the best thing that could happen would be to agree on some follow- on negotiations. You know, don't make any deals that could end up being half baked, but get Pompeo, and Lavrov, and Mattis, and Shroy (ph) who -- to take up the dialogue on some sensitive issues like arms control, where there is a need for some work before the INF Treaty collapses and New START expires.

On the other issues I agree with Aaron --

COOPER: Ambassador --



VERSHBOW: -- I don't see any deal to be had on Syria. And the Russians are showing no interest in moving on Ukraine, particularly because Ukraine has elections next year, and they hope they'll end up with a leader more pliable than President Poroshenko.

COOPER: Yes, Ambassador Vershbow, appreciate it, Aaron David Miller as well. Thanks very much.

Our special coverage of the upcoming Trump-Putin summit continues in just a minute. There's a lot of news happening as well at the Israeli border. For that, I want to get to our Martin Savidge. Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, thanks very much.

Israel agrees to a cease-fire with several militant groups after the biggest bombing campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war. But the pause may not last long.

We'll go live to Jerusalem, next, on the CNN newsroom.


SAVIDGE: Welcome back. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that cease-fire with Gaza militants will come to a swift end if the arson attacks against Israel do not stop. That pause came after Israel launched what it called its "largest bombing campaign in Gaza" since the 2014 war. But Netanyahu warned the pause will end if Gaza's fiery kites and balloons do not stay grounded.

Our Ian Lee is in Jerusalem for us.

And Ian, what's the latest tonight?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin, it is really hard to call this a cease-fire because today Israel's air force said that it targeted number of Hamas units that were preparing these fire balloons to send them over from Gaza into Israel where we see them create these brush fires.

And as you pointed out, the prime minister said that there's no cease- fire as long as this continues to happen. He even said that they consider these sorts of incendiaries like missiles, like rockets, like mortars. And so they're going to take a very heavy hand toward them. And this will create a situation where we could see another uptick in violence.

Definitely today we saw a reduction of those tensions, that's because the U.N., Egypt has been able to negotiate between the two sides. This is what we're hearing. But unless they are able to really come and create a more permanent cease-fire where there is a cessation of hostilities on both sides, we expect to see this sort of level of violence that we saw yesterday happen again.

And I just have to point out that this happened in May, this happened in April, this is happened a number of times. And again, if they aren't able to bring these two sides and stop these hostilities, expect to see it again, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it can flare up very, very quickly.

Ian Lee in Jerusalem, thank you very much for that.

Coming up, President Trump casts blame after his own Justice Department announces an indictment against 12 Russians over election hacking. But you might be surprised whom he's blaming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:34:25] COOPER: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from Helsinki, Finland, our special coverage of tomorrow's summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin continues.

Moments ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived here in Helsinki for the summit. The President and the first lady arrived shortly before him.

Trump says he plans to bring up Russian meddling in the 2016-election with Putin, but he continues to blame the election attacks on really everyone but the Russians, from the Democratic National Committee to the Obama Administration.

Joining me now is CNN Contributor and Former Counsel to the Nixon White House, John Dean.

John, thanks so much for joining us. I'm wondering what do you make of the President casting blame really at what he said was sort of bad computer security at the DNC.

[15:40:05] JOHN DEAN, CNN CONRIBUTOR: I think it's pretty weak, Anderson. He is inclined, as we know, to never take responsibility for anything and to pass the blame any time he can. I think that's a particularly weak pass because Obama did take action, and he did alert the Trump campaign, he -- law enforcement was on it. The intelligence agencies were on it. So it's not even true.

COOPER: How should the President confront Putin about the election meddling? I mean, he has spoken to him about it in the past. He has very publicly, you know, the President has often said, well, you know, President Putin denies it. And that's sort of his first response when he talks about that. Do you actually see him confronting him?

DEAN: I don't see him confronting him. I do see him dealing with the issue in their talks. I do for this reason, Anderson. There's a joint press conference that's scheduled where the two leaders are going to be there with some 1400 reporters who have been credentialed for this summit. And so it's going to come up from somewhere.

And so I think what Trump will do is probably say, we need to talk about this because the media wants to talk about it. And we ought to talk -- discuss about it ourselves, and that would be the avenue in for it. Very non confrontational, and they might see what their stories are.

COOPER: It's highly doubtful, though, that the 12 Russian, you know, intelligence officers indicted would be extradited or held accountable for the hacking. So what could President Trump demand from Putin as retribution for the attacks or what could he do as retribution?

DEAN: Well, of course he has sanctions at his disposal, but he hasn't even fully enforced the sanctions that he's been authorized to impose. I think the -- he might say this is one of the reasons we need an extradition treaty between our two countries. And that could be something they could announce they've decided to do in light of this indictment. You know, an indictment isn't a press release. This is a document that says we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that these things happened. And I, you know, in the past Putin had just said, well, these are just charges.

Well, as I say, this is much more than that. And Trump, who undoubtedly has not read the indictment, at least could be briefed enough to put that point in front of Putin.

COOPER: Do you agree, though, that this summit should have gone ahead? Obviously there are a lot of Democrats, even some Republicans who were saying it should not, you know, there's that old Churchill quote about, "It's better to jaw-jaw than war-war." There's certainly a lot of areas in the world where some level of cooperation or coordination between the United States, I'm thinking most right now about Syria and certainly on nuclear arms is necessary?

DEAN: Well, that's very true, Anderson. But he could have made a very strong statement about his displeasure with the attacks on the United States by the Russian military and other organizations that have been attacked our last election by cancelling. He decided not to do that. This is something Trump wants as much as Putin apparently.

We don't know why he wants it. We do know that Trump has certainly been very pro-Russian since about 1987 when he made his first trip over there. We know he actually wanted to be the Reagan's ambassador to Russia. So this is a long-time event for both men, actually.

COOPER: Yes. John Dean, thanks very much. Appreciate it, John.

Up next, we're going to take a look at First Lady Melania Trump. She is here in Helsinki. She's been with the President every step of his European trip. While he's ruffled feathers along the way, she's mastered the art of representing America abroad. That story when we come back.


[15:48:40:] COOPER: Welcome back on these big trips overseas. The spotlight on First Lady Melania Trump is sometimes harsh and soft, sometimes soft but always bright.

CNN White House Reporter, Kate Bennett, has been following Mrs. Trump through Europe. She joins us.

Now, she's been getting a lot of focus, obviously, on a trip like this.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and she does a really good job on the world stage. I think she's more comfortable in the global spotlight even sometimes when she is in Washington, but certainly, the things that Mrs. Trump has been doing since she's been on this trip and the things that the President have been doing have been vastly different. Certainly, she has had the more light hearted, easy casual time abroad than the President, he sort of stirring up trouble. But that's typically what she does, that's her role. COOPER: Let's see -- do we have a piece on this?


COOPER: Let's take a look and we talk about it.


BENNETT (voice-over): As President Trump confronted the NATO leaders in Brussels this week.

TRUMP: Many countries are not paying what they should.

BENNETT: And ruffled feathers in the U.K. controversially weighing in on Prime Minister Theresa May's leadership.

TRUMP: I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't agree with -- she didn't listen to me.

BENNETT: First Lady Melania Trump spent an afternoon at a Belgian music school with the NATO spouses, listening to a concerto of classical music. And in London went lawn bowling and did arts and crafts.

[15:50:00] MELANIA TRUMP, FISRT LADY OF UNITED STATES: How's this on? It's OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very professional.

BENNETT: And perhaps never more than this European trip has juxtaposition between Trump's fiery rhetoric.

TRUMP: Germany is a captive of Russia.

BENNETT: And Melania Trump's activities differed so vastly. But this is what first ladies have often done throughout history. As presidents tread the contentious and murky waters of global politics their wives forward to diplomacy in other ways.

The fine art of representing America aboard that Melania Trump has all but mastered whether it's using her style to nod to the host country yesterday wearing British designer Victoria Beckham while talking to school kids about her "Be Best" initiative with Philip May, who also bought a new suit for the occasion.

M. TRUMP: Be best at whatever your passion is.

BENNETT: Or quietly observing protocol for her first ever meeting with the queen of England.

Her husband awkwardly trying to do the same. Melania Trump who grew up in Slovenia and worked as a model in France and Italy is demonstrating her comfort on the world stage, able to sidestep the bombshells dropped by the President and practice a less complicated type of diplomacy.


BENNETT: Now, we will see Melania Trump here in Helsinki tomorrow. She had scheduled to have tea with the first lady of Finland and last we'll see of course with Vladimir Putin.

COOPER: Yes. And they arrived a little bit more than an hour ago. Kate Bennett, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

A lot to watch for in the day ahead, CNN Special Coverage of the upcoming Trump/Putin Summit continues in a moment. There's breaking news on the upcoming transfer of the remains of up to 200 U.S. service members. For that I want to get over to Martin Savidge. Martin?

SAVIDGE: Thanks, Anderson, very much. Those remains could be back on U.S. soil in the next two to three weeks. We will have a live report next.


[15:56:03] SAVIDGE: We have some breaking news, a U.S. official tells CNN that U.S. and North Korea are now working on the time line for the transfer of service member remains.

CNN's Barbara Starr joins us on the telephone. Barbara, what more do you have?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Martin. Well, what we are learning from the U.S. official is following the conclusion of U.S.-North Korean the talks that wrapped up several hours ago. There is now a time line that these remains are expected now to be transferred back to the U.S. within the next 14 to 21 days, two the three weeks, and still subject to change, because this is North Korea and no one can be sure, but that is what we are now hearing that the agreement is 14 to 21 days.

This is of course extremely important for humanitarian reasons. The North Koreans say they have 200 sets of remains of Americans who were killed in the war, in the Korean War. The U.S. wants to get those remains back, and it could take years of course to fully test them and see exactly what is their and who they can possibly identify.

But it is also politically very important for President Trump, and it will be the first real deliverable if you will from the Singapore Summit. It was first agreed to at the Singapore Summit, it was supposed to happen, it never did, the President kept talking about it, it just never happen. No one was sure what the hold up was with the North Koreans, but they didn't do it.

Now another set of talks, and now it looks the U.S. hopes, like there is some positive moment and if they get these remains back, that really will be one of the very first things that the North Koreans have lived up to in the Singapore Summit agreement in that agreement that they made, it could pave the way for more positive outcomes on all of the other denuclearization matters still very much under discussion.


SAVIDGE: All right. It does sound like good news, Barbara. Thank you for bringing it to us.

Meanwhile authorities in Massachusetts say a police officer was gunned down with his own service weapon. The officer was responding to a call about erratic driving near Boston. Authority said the suspect attacked the officer and killing him before taking off with his weapon. During the chase, police say the suspect also killed a bystander.


GREG CONNOR, NORFOLK COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Lopes then attacked Officer Chesna, it is believed with a large stone, striking him in the head, and Officer Chesna fells to the ground. Lopes then retrieved Officer Chesna's firearm and discharged it several times in his head and chest.

It is believed that Mr. Lopes discharged Officer Chesna's firearm an additional three times, striking a local resident in her home.


SAVIDGE: CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the story for us. Polo besides just getting the -- police getting the call of the erratic driving, do we know anything about why this happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, police only say that this officer initially made contact with Emanuel Lopes, the suspect in this case, after he was spotted vandalizing a home there in Weymouth, Massachusetts to south of Boston.

So as investigators trying to find out exactly what happened, let me tell you a little bit about officer Michael Chesna, the 42-year old officer who was shot and killed earlier this morning. A husband, a father as well to two children. His mother telling the police chief there in that city that he joined the army with the sole intention of starting a career in law enforcement. Tomorrow, he would have been with that police department for six years.

Officer Chesna worked the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift there. So Martin, so he presumably would have been towards the tail end of the shift early this morning when he responded to the final call of service. As for the suspect, we're told that he is expected to face charges -- murder charges tomorrow, not only for the officer, but also for the woman who was essentially caught in the gun fire. Investigators believe that she was hit by a bullet that was fired by the fallen officer.

[16:00:07] SAVIDGE: Just horrible, horrible news. OK. Polo Sandoval, thank you.