Return to Transcripts main page


Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, Finland Amid Russian Meddling Issues; Anger Boils on Chicago Streets after Police Shooting; Police Officer and Bystander Killed, Suspect in Custody; Red-State Dems Take on Schumer in SCOTUS Fight; Melania Trump's European Adventures; Wall Street Eyes Summit as Q2 Earnings Reports Released. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 15, 2018 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States, and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. So glad you could join us for CNN's special coverage of the summit between President Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

My colleague Wolf Blitzer is live in Helsinki -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Ana, thank you very much. I'm joining you live from the (INAUDIBLE), near the presidential palace here in Helsinki, where tomorrow's high stakes meetings will be taking place.

President Trump, by the way, he arrived at his hotel here in Helsinki just earlier this evening. The president, President Putin is still in Moscow. He'll be here first thing tomorrow. And though the two men have yet to come face to face, President Trump is already setting a low bar for success.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing bad is going to come out of it and maybe some good will come out. But I go in with low expectations. I'm not going in with high expectations. I don't -- I don't really -- I can't tell you what's going to happen. But I can tell you what I'll be asking for. And we'll see if something comes of it.


BLITZER: President Trump is mum on what exactly he hopes to accomplish. Listen.


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

TRUMP: 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 do believe in meetings.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Let's go live to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, he's also here in Helsinki, he's covering the president for us.

Jim, is there an agenda, a specific agenda for this meeting?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There is something of an agenda, Wolf. The president has talked about this, he wants to talk about the situation in Syria, also wants to talk about nuclear arms control with Vladimir Putin. But essentially this is going to be a free-wheeling discussion, it seems, between these two leaders. It's going to go on one-on-one between these two leaders for about an hour and a half, and then they're going to have an expanded bilateral meeting with other top officials. That will go on for another two hours during the course of the afternoon tomorrow.

But, obviously, Wolf, the big subject of discussion that everybody is waiting to see if the president really pins down Vladimir Putin on is the Russia investigation, this Russian meddling back during the 2016 election. The president said yes, he is going to raise that issue but as you heard at that press conference with Theresa May, the British prime minister, on Friday, he doesn't expect there to be a Perry Mason moment where Vladimir Putin admits that, yes, the Russians were trying to hack into the 2016 election.

But, Wolf, he did tell me at that news conference as he was leaving the scene there that he is going to tell Vladimir Putin to stay out of U.S. elections, and presumably that means the midterm elections coming up later on this year.

And Wolf, when the president was talking with CBS, despite those indictments that came down against those Russian agents for hacking into the 2016 election, hacking into Democratic e-mails, the president was still railing against the Russia probe and here's what he said.


TRUMP: I think we're greatly hampered by this whole witch hunt that's going on in the United States, the Russian witch hunt, the rigged situation. I watched some of the testimony, even though I'm in Europe, of Strzok, and I thought it was a disgrace to our country. I thought it was an absolute disgrace.


ACOSTA: The president there was talking about that embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok who's been accused of showing political bias during the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation in 2016. The president, as you saw there, railing against the Russia investigation.

Wolf, we want to show you these tweets that the president put out because it's interesting, White House officials, top administration officials have been saying this is a meeting, not a summit. Well, the president tweeted on his way here to Helsinki that this is a summit, he said, "Looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately no matter how well I do at the summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn't good enough."

And Wolf, later on in these tweets he refers to the media once again as the enemy of the people. You'll recall, Wolf, a couple of weeks ago, I tried to ask the president would he stop calling the media the enemy of the people, he did not answer that question at an event at the White House so it seems the president is back to calling the U.S. media the enemy of the people.

And Wolf, that's despite the fact that he's going to be sitting down with Vladimir Putin who as we all know has been accused time and again of oppressing journalists on Russian soil. So the president not letting up when it comes to that talking point.

They want the message, obviously, and they want the story line obviously to be about our coverage of the president's behavior and not so much about the president's behavior, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta is here in Helsinki with us. Jim, we're all going to be very, very busy tomorrow.

I want to bring in now the former Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff. He's joining us, he served under President George W. Bush.

[18:05:02] Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. And let me get your quick reaction to earlier today, the president wouldn't answer if he had a goal for this summit. He said he'd tell us what his goal might be after the summit. What, if anything, does that tell you?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I think, Wolf, it's wise to have relatively modest expectations about this. I do think you have to raise issues like election meddling and Russian malicious tools that are found in our critical infrastructure. But I don't for a minute believe Putin is going to wind up admitting it or apologizing.

So you have to lay a marker down, but you have to have a reasonable idea of what you're going to get back. I frankly think the area that's most likely to yield some interesting discussion is the future of Syria and the future of Iran and the region.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm going to get to that shortly. But, as you know, Mr. Secretary, there have been calls for President Trump to simply call off this meeting in light of the Mueller indictment of 12 senior Russian military officers on Friday. Clearly the meeting is going to be taking place tomorrow. So what does President Trump need to get out of this meeting to make it worthwhile for the United States?

CHERTOFF: Well, I suppose the agenda here really is to establish at least the beginning of a dialogue. I don't think there's an expectation this is going to come out with an agreement or some resolution of what's going on in the Ukraine. What's important from our standpoint is to be very clear what our red lines are, to make it clear, for example, in Syria that embedding the Iranians further in the country is not a good idea, that attacking civilians is not acceptable, that meddling in elections is not acceptable, that attempting to undermine the Ukraine is not acceptable.

Even if there's no agreement, looking eye to eye with your counterpart and making it very clear what your views are does have some value and there's something you take away from watching what his reaction is.

BLITZER: The president, President Trump and President Putin for that matter, they're scheduled to meet alone first, only with their interpreters present. Then others. They'll have a second round with other senior aides participating.

How does Putin approach that time one on one? What does the president -- President Trump need to be on guard for?

CHERTOFF: Well, you know, historically there have been instances where Putin attempted to intimidate people or to somehow muscle them or overpower them. I think, for example, there's a famous story about Chancellor Merkel meeting him and he brought a big dog in because apparently she's a little bit nervous around dogs. So I think, you know, he should expect that Putin is going to try to play some mind games with him and perhaps be a little bit pushy. And again this is about showing resolution, rather than attempting to hit a home run.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what the president said today when he was asked about his biggest global foe, the biggest global foe facing the United States. Listen to his answer.


TRUMP: Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia's a foe in certain respects. China's a foe economically.


BLITZER: What does that tell you, Mr. Secretary, when he was asked the biggest foe facing the United States, he started first and foremost with the European Union?

CHERTOFF: You know, I can't speculate about what's on his mind. I don't think there's any doubt that where Russia is, is categorically completely different than the EU. We may disagree with the Europeans about some things, we may occasionally compete with them, but they are our allies and our friends.

The Russians are not our allies and friends. The Russians are our adversaries. We can have a cordial and civil relationship with them but we can't mistake them for friends or people who are on our side.

BLITZER: The European Commission president Donald Tusk responded to what the president said and he said this. I'll read it to you. "America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news." When was the last time you heard the leader of the European Union go

after specifically the president, what the president of the United States said about Europe?

CHERTOFF: Well, of course, now fake news is the new phrase of the moment and everything is fake news. But I think, look, what the EU is communicating is, that there is at multiple levels an enduring relationship between the U.S. and the Europeans, culturally in terms of our views of the law and human rights, in terms of our standing together against the Russians and other potential adversaries. And I think that's what endures. And the transitory tweeting and offhand comments come and go.

BLITZER: The president also, this is related to his accusations of fake news, he sent out a series of tweets today attacking, once again, the U.S. news media.

[18:10:05] He called the press the enemy of the people. He blamed it for, quote, hatred and dissension in the United States, all this just hours before he sits down with the Russian president Putin who has ordered as you know some journalists to be killed over the years. That's the accusation against Putin.

What's your reaction when you hear the American president call the news media the enemy of the American people?

CHERTOFF: You know, I think that's very unfortunate. If you go back to our Constitution, enshrined in our founding document is freedom of the press. So the framers of our Constitution and the founders of our country believe you have to have a free press. And that was indispensable to government. That doesn't mean they always liked what the press reported and you remember the Burr-Hamilton duel that rose out of some scandalous broadsheets that said some accusatory things.

But the bottom line is our society and our government depends upon a vigorous press. We may disagree, we may sometimes dispute, but we have to respect the important role the press plays.

BLITZER: Yes. What's so worrisome is that by uttering those kinds of word, the president seemingly encourages despots elsewhere around the world to go after a free press as well. And that's very, very worrisome.

Michael Chertoff, thanks for joining us.

CHERTOFF: Good to be on.

BLITZER: Coming up, low expectations and a murky agenda, could that work to either side's advantage heading into this historic summit right here in Helsinki? What previous summits have taught us in terms of managing expectations?

Stay with us, we're live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:15:47] BLITZER: We're back with CNN's special coverage from Helsinki. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

Tomorrow, the historic one-on-one meeting between the president of the United States and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Now only about 12 hours away. Their summit comes just days after the U.S. Justice Department indicted a dozen high-ranking Russian military intelligence officers for their cyberattack on the 2016 presidential election in the United States. The Russians are accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Clinton campaign, e-mails across the board.

Let's talk all about this with our specialist and our analysts. Michelle Kosinski is joining us. She's CNN senior diplomatic correspondent. David Gergen is with us, our senior political analyst and former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Also with us, Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterrorism official, former FBI senior intelligence adviser as well.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Give us some historic context, David, for this summit. There have been summits between U.S. and Russian leaders before. Give us a little perspective.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you can go back in history, summits have often been about arms control and about really central issues. And there have been turning points, Wolf. If you go back, one of the most famous summits was in 1961, when a young, somewhat (INAUDIBLE) President Kennedy went to Vienna to meet Khrushchev. And Khrushchev was a terrific -- he was on top of his game and he just ripped into Kennedy. And it was very humiliating for Kennedy.

When Kennedy came out, he told Scotty Reston of the "New York Times," the columnist, he said, Scotty, you know, this have been humiliating. I have to show strength to Khrushchev somewhere. I may have to do it in Vietnam. And that helped compel him to go into Vietnam.

BLITZER: A lot of us remember the 1986 summit --


BLITZER: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik. Very low expectations going in but dramatic stuff happened.

GERGEN: Dramatic stuff happened. They came extremely close as you well remember to reaching a deal that would eliminate all nuclear weapons on both sides, disarmament. But the -- Reagan really wanted his Star Wars, strategic defense initiative, Gorbachev insisted as part of the deal he had to get rid of the whole idea. Reagan balked and said I won't do it, and then it ended with no deal at all.

But it laid the foundation for conversations that continued after that, for something called the INF, the intermediate range missile defense system or treaty that came out of that, which we still have today. It's a contentious issue. It's going to be -- we're probably going to have conversations tomorrow between Trump and Putin about INF. But it was very successful.

BLITZER: It was a significant, historic moment.

You know, Michelle, it was pretty surprising today, some would say shocking when the president was asked about the U.S. foes right now, and he started off by not talking about Russia or China or North Korea. But listen to this.

He said this, we don't have the clip. But I say, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe. What they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically. But first and foremost, he says, the EU.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, the riling up just continues. I mean, we saw it at the G7 when at the very end he criticized the U.S.'s closest allies and then suggested that Russia should rejoin the group, which it was kicked out for, for taking over part of Ukraine.

Look at what we heard today. We heard witch hunt, we heard fake news, we heard the media is the enemy of the American people again and again. So at the same time the president is criticizing the criticism that he's getting. He continues to make these statements that he knows he's going to be criticized for. It's going to stoke the debate. It's going to put more pressure on this meeting.

Not quite sure why he's doing it other than to maybe ratchet up the eyes and, you know, the attention that is on this. And it's not helping him.

[18:20:12] BLITZER: What's that message, though, on the eve of this summit with the Russian leader? What's the message the president's sending when he starts, especially in the aftermath of the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials on Friday, when he starts off by talking about Europe as a foe?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, he gave Vladimir Putin his talking points. If you went into this meeting two years ago you might have said if there had been election meddling then with a different president, you might have said in the wake of meetings of the G7, with NATO, with our closest ally, the UK, I'm going into this, if you're a previous president, with a strong hand by telling Vladimir Putin I've spoken with our allies, not only about election meddling, but how we will apply sanctions that damage you as a result of that meddling.

Instead we go back with a contentious G7 meeting, with a disastrous NATO meeting and a with a painful meeting with our closest allies. So Putin looks at this, and if you're flying in from the Kremlin saying I know if the president asks me about meddling, what I'm going to say, I'm going to say the same thing he told me to say on Twitter, I didn't do it, what's the next question?

BLITZER: Do you think, David, given the historic perspective, the fact you worked for other presidents, President Trump should be going into this summit at this time with Putin given all that's going on? GERGEN: Well, I hate the fact that he has this schedule. I don't

think he should have scrapped it because of the events with the indictments. What I do think is he could see it as a pivot moment when he could -- you know, he's got to come off his defensiveness and his cavalier attitude about what's going on with these indictments and the campaign that the Russians have launched. So I think he has a moment here, if he's tough with Putin and goes and said, look, I have to ask you about this before.

It's now obvious you've been lying to me all this time. It's now obvious you and your team and the government have launched a relentless sophisticated campaign to steal an election of the United States. I don't think you won that part of it. I think I won fair and square. But I've got to hold you accountable.

I think if he did that and went back to the American people, a lot of what he's been doing, he seems to be hiding from, he seems to be a puppet of Putin, a lot of that kind of feeling would disappear if he'd stand up to Putin.

BLITZER: Yes, but he keeps talking, Phil, and I want to get to you in a second. He keeps talking about a rigged witch hunt, the whole Mueller probe, the Russia -- a rigged witch hunt. He doesn't seem to take it at all seriously, even though that indictment specifically named 12 Russians.

MUDD: Well, he's got a couple of problems here. The first problem, as soon as he takes it seriously he has to acknowledge and the recipient of the Russian largess was me. This is the man with the biggest ego in the room who says he's a genius. The other thing is, if you look at foreign policy over the last 18 months and every circumstance in North Korea, if you look at NATO, if you look at NAFTA, if you look at Russia, in every circumstance he's saying, I'm the genius who's smarter than my predecessors.

And the new path I chart, whether it's any of those circumstances from North Korea to Russia is smarter. He cannot sit there and acknowledge maybe I was wrong.

BLITZER: You've been speaking, Michelle, to a lot of your European allies.


BLITZER: Whether the Germans or the French or the British and -- what do they think about this summit?

KOSINSKI: They can't believe some of the things that have been coming out leading up to it, some of those statements made by the president in their conversations with high-ranking U.S. officials including in some cases the president himself. They get the sense that no, he doesn't take this seriously, the issue of bringing up the attack on American democracy. It seems like he wants some wins to come out of this. They've lowered expectations, they've stated publicly that having the meeting itself is a win. But --

BLITZER: For Putin?

KOSINSKI: Yes, it very well could be. There are things that Putin wants that he could get. Some are fairly minor. But they're still -- they still could be wins for Putin. That's what U.S. allies are very worried about. They think that there are real risks to having this meeting. And they say that privately, Trump is saying he already knows what Putin is going to say about meddling in the U.S. election. He doesn't see the point to bringing it up. They feel like he sees that as an impediment to getting whatever wins he thinks that he can get out.

BLITZER: Just on the eve of this summit, pretty extraordinary. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, I'll put it up on the screen once again, he tweets, "America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."

It's pretty extraordinary to hear the head of the EU, the European Council, utter a statement like that, really going after the president of the United States on the eve of a meeting with the Russian leader.

Guys, stick around, there's more we're going to be talking about. Michelle Kosinski, Phil Mudd, David Gergen, a good conversation indeed.

We're going to have a lot more from here in Helsinki. I'll be back later this hour with all the late-breaking developments. But for now, let's send it back once again to Ana Cabrera in New York with today's other top headlines.

Ana, very exciting times here in Helsinki.

CABRERA: I'm looking at the clock there. It's almost 1:30 in the morning. We are on the same day now as the summit there local time.

[18:25:05] Wolf, thank you. As we count down to that summit, we are going to head to Chicago. Other news happening right now.

Protests breaking out in the streets after another police shooting. New footage now showing the moments leading up to that fatal shooting involving Chicago Police.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: This is just in to CNN from Chicago. The police department there just released the body cam footage from an officer-involved shooting this weekend.

Now there's no sound on the video, but look closely here, it shows police approaching 37-year-old Harith Augustus yesterday. The video then freezes to show a handgun in his waistband. And then he appears to pull the gun as police officers open fire. Augustus died. And it set off a wave of furious protests last night in Chicago, people attacked police officers with rocks and bottles. They damaged patrol cars. But more than anything they put voices to their anger. CNN's Ryan Young is there now for us. Ryan, has the release now of

this bodycam footage done anything to bring down the tension on the streets?


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we believe so, but it's still very early. I can tell you we thought there would be a larger protest crowd here, but that crowd is a lot smaller in nature.

Let me set the scene first, Ana. That cross the street is where the shooting happened. And just across the street from there, this is where protesters have gathered.

Of course, you've talked about that video that's been released. But that is the small protest crowd that's here. Look, that's a big remarkable difference from last night when this entire street was covered not only in officers but protesters.

But let's show you the video in question because I think that will give people at home a chance to understand and digest this. What went out yesterday was this shooting was of an unarmed man. And a lot of people were talking about (INAUDIBLE) video.

One of the things you'll see is the fact that the police officers are walking toward them. They tried to make a grab. And then at some point, you can see the fact that there is a weapon that is shown. So at that point, the officers opened (INAUDIBLE).

Superintendent Eddie Johnson was talking to us about the idea exactly of what happened. He said he wanted to talk to the family for sure because he wanted to make sure they saw the video before they released it to the public.

But they wanted to do this very quickly to make sure they did not have another night like they had last night. But when you see this video like we have several times, you can understand what the officers were dealing with.

This is the area that they're doing extra patrol in. They got a report of a man maybe with a weapon, and they came out this direction. And they tried to put hands on him -- you can see it -- and then there is the turn. And it looks like he's reaching for something, which they say was the weapon, and then they opened fire.

So now the conversation our here in the community is about exactly what happened but a big remarkable difference in terms of crowd size between last night and right now. Because when you look behind us, that crowd is not even over a hundred at this point -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ryan Young in Chicago, thank you.

Another officer-involved shooting we are following here at CNN. It started as a routine traffic call outside of Boston and ended with a police officer shot dead with his own weapon and an innocent woman gunned down inside her own home. CNN's Polo Sandoval is working this story for us.

So, Polo, police have a suspect in custody now. How did this all unfold?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By the way, that suspect, Ana, is Emmanuel Lopes. Police say that, tomorrow, he will be charged with murder, once for the police officer that he allegedly shot and killed and then the other charge for that woman who was essentially caught in the crossfire here.

Let me tell you a little bit about what took place this morning just southeast of Boston, Massachusetts. About 7:30 a.m. when police officer Michael Chesna encountered this suspect, he was allegedly vandalizing a home at the time.

The officer approached him. Prosecutors are saying that the suspect, Emmanuel Lopes, grabbed a rock and then was able to essentially hit this officer, disabling him. He then took the weapon away -- the police officer's weapon away, and then shot that officer multiple times, killing him.

Some of those -- some other officers later responded. As they were trying to arrest Lopes, that's when, police say, that he used that fallen officer's weapon to shoot at those officers. One of those bullets hit a woman inside a house nearby.

Ana, this was a woman who had absolutely nothing to do with what was happening in her neighborhood. Tonight, she's dead. So is this officer.

CABRERA: What do you know about the officer?

SANDOVAL: That is clearly the story that, of course, officials want to focus on right now, an officer, Michael Chesna, a 42-year-old loving father of two children, ages four and 9, leaves behind a wife. An Army veteran who, his mother says, enlisted in those services with the sole intention of starting and launching his law enforcement career.

Tomorrow would have marked six years with the Weymouth Police Department. His shift originally runs from midnight to 8:00 a.m. Ana, this shooting happened at about 7:30 this morning, which means he was essentially preparing to wrap up his busy day when he answered what would become his last call for service.

CABRERA: The very end of his shift.

Polo Sandoval, thank you for bringing us that story.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, interparty fighting happening in the Democratic Party right now as they are preparing for this next Supreme Court justice. Why one red-state Democrat is now telling party leader Chuck Schumer to kiss his you-know-what. But first, a new season of "THE HISTORY OF COMEDY" premieres tonight

at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chemistry is the main special sauce in a comedy team.

JUDD APATOW, FOUNDER, APATOW PRODUCTIONS: There's one guy who's out of control and one guy trying to say, calm him down.

SEAN HAYES, ACTOR: The theme of sex in comedy is like there's a huge flowchart and everything leads to sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sex was always taboo, and those walls have been torn down.

TEXT: Drawn to be funny.

[18:35:00] CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST OF "CONAN": Everything I needed to learn about comedy, I learned watching Warner Brothers' cartoons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get so many chances to be funny in animation. The writing, the voice talent, animation, boom.

TEXT: Gone too soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comedians don't have a great mortality rate. We lose a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we lose a comedian, I feel it's more personal because I know them.

TEXT: No offense.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's really one of the highest forms of comedy when you can be totally clean and just as funny as the comics who are dirty.

TEXT: Sketch and improve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sketches are a really fun way to talk about the culture with a quick turnaround.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You show up on set and you just roll. No rehearsal, no discussion, you just roll and try not to laugh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "THE HISTORY OF COMEDY" starting tonight at 10:00 on CNN.



[18:40:11] CABRERA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Brett Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court by October 1st. Meantime, Democrats are far from united on their strategy to stop the nomination with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer trying to codify the opposition.

Red-state Democrat Joe Manchin reportedly told Politico it doesn't matter what Schumer wants him to do, saying, quote, I'll be 71 years old in August. You're going to whip me? Kiss my you know what.

Manchin referring there to whipping votes among the party caucus.

With us now is CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

Ron, that's some pretty strong language from Manchin. What does that tell you?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Do you remember back in 2010, Ana, when he was running for re-election in a very difficult year for Democrats? He did an ad in which he took a gun and shot a hole in President Obama's cap and trade bill that had passed the House on climate change.

So, look, it is in his interest to be as forceful as possible in portraying himself as an independent voice who is not going to be controlled by the Democratic caucus in a state that President Trump won by 42 points.

The question of what the red-state Democrats are going to do is really premature because until the opponents of Judge Kavanaugh can get one Republican to oppose him, there really is no reason for the red-state Democrats to -- you know, the most embattled ones to consider, you know, coming out in opposition.

I mean, their votes are -- as long as there are 50 Republican votes, you are likely to see something like what you saw on Judge Gorsuch with several red-state Democrats supporting it.

If they can get one or two Republicans, you know, Murkowski and Collins, to reconsider, then that becomes a whole different ball game with a whole difficult level of pressure on people like Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Manchin who are the three who voted for Gorsuch.

CABRERA: And that Manchin quote we just read, as you were talking, it made me think, this is -- sounds a little bit like President Trump and his not politically correct --


CABRERA: -- playbook that we've heard so often work for him. Now, as Democrats are trying to figure out their strategy on the Supreme Court, an outspoken critic of Kavanaugh is facing her own battle in the state of California.

I'm talking about Senator Dianne Feinstein. The California Democratic Party just endorsed her opponent --


CABRERA: -- Kevin de Leon, who is the Democratic leader in the state legislature there. Is that surprising?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it is a little surprising. I mean, look, De Leon, you know, is a very talented young politician. But as the primary in June made clear, we have this unusual jungle primary in California, or a version or a variation of it, where the top two finishers in either party go on to the general election.

I mean, that vote made clear he's not going to beat Dianne Feinstein. So -- you know, Feinstein. So there is going to be -- I think it's a statement by activists in the party that they want -- you know, they want someone who is going to oppose Trump with every fiber, and they are putting pressure on her. But in the end, it's not going to change the outcome.

CABRERA: You say it doesn't really matter. You don't expect an upset there, it sounds like I'm hearing you say.


CABRERA: So let's talk about the hyper-partisanship, though, that we are seeing on Capitol Hill right now, not just within each party but against one party against the other.


CABRERA: The President today said this about Thursday's bonkers hearing with Peter Strzok, the FBI agent under fire for his anti-Trump text messages. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watched some of the testimony, even though I'm in Europe, of Strzok. And I thought it was a disgrace to our country. I thought it was an absolute disgrace. He was a disgrace to the FBI.

So when I look at things like that -- and he led that investigation or whatever you call it -- I would say that, yes, I think it hurts our relationship with Russia. I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries.


CABRERA: Ron, this was unprompted.

BROWNSTEIN: Incredible, yes.

CABRERA: And the interviewer didn't even mention Strzok.


CABRERA: And yet the President felt the need to bring it up again.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look, I mean, the President thrives on conflict. He believes that the way, I think, that he mobilizes and holds his base is by signaling that is willing to fight, in a way that is unprecedented, any institution that he can argue is threatening him or, by extension, threatening them.

And, you know, as I have said, in many ways, he is governing as a wartime president. Only the war is against all of the institutions of blue America. And that is one of the reasons why he has mobilized so much support among Republicans.

But there is a price to it in terms of the counter-mobilization that we are seeing among groups who are deeply distressed about the direction he's taking the country.

I mean, there was a poll only 10 days ago where a plurality of Americans said that the President is racist. That is as stark as you can phrase that thought. And it -- again, it shows that there is a cost to this strategy of constantly doubling down, pushing a confrontation with, you know, the people on all the sides of all the other lines of partisan divides.

[18:45:01] CABRERA: Ron Brownstein, always good to have you with us. Thank you for being here.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, we return to Helsinki and Melania Trump's European adventures. While her husband spent the week criticizing their hosts, the first lady turned on the charm.


BLITZER: President Trump set to meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in just a few hours here in Helsinki.

President Trump -- take a look at this -- he was walking off Air Force One in Helsinki just a little while ago beside the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump. Not always, by the way, beside the President on these trips abroad, but she's taking a much more forward role on this journey, from the NATO summit to meeting Queen Elizabeth to visiting children and veterans in London.

[18:50:11] Our White House reporter, Kate Bennett, has been covering the first lady. She's been following all these events, these activities.

She seems, Kate, to almost have an agenda of her own.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, I think this is her time to shine as sort of the more calm and soothing presence on this trip, certainly during NATO and then in London. The President ruffled feathers, but the first lady's job is to keep that diplomacy a little bit calmer. And that's what she does very well.


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

TRUMP: Many countries are not paying what they should. BENNETT (voice-over): -- 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 (voice-over): First lady Melania Trump spent an afternoon at a Belgian music school with NATO spouses.


BENNETT (voice-over): Listened to a concerto of classical music. And in London, went lawn bowling and did arts and crafts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very professional.

BENNETT (voice-over): Perhaps never more than this European trip has the juxtaposition between Trump's fiery rhetoric --

TRUMP: Germany is a captive of Russia.

BENNETT (voice-over): -- 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 forge a diplomacy in other ways.

The fine art of representing America abroad 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 (voice-over): -- 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: And we will see Melania Trump tomorrow in Helsinki. She's scheduled to have tea in the morning with the first lady of Finland at the residence. And then, of course, we expect to see her arrive at the presidential palace as well.

BLITZER: She seems to have made a complete recovery from that surgery she had in Washington a few weeks ago. BENNETT: She did. So she -- this is her first international trip

since her kidney procedure. She's certainly doing better. She's cleared the 30 days of not flying internationally. She's had a lot of activities.

And again, I sometimes feel like the first lady is more comfortable abroad in Europe doing these things than back home in a way. She feels very, very at ease, almost, in this role now.

BLITZER: Yes. She seems lovely. She seems like -- and you like the dresses, right?

BENNETT: Yes. I mean, she's knocking it out of the park in terms of fashion, according to the --

BLITZER: I knew you'd say that.

BENNETT: -- tabloids.


BENNETT: Not just me but other people say so, too.

BLITZER: Kate, thanks very much.


BLITZER: We'll continue this tomorrow. Programming note to our viewers, I'll be live here in Helsinki tomorrow as well. We're talking about Monday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and, once again, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM." We're covering every angle of this historic come -- summit.

We're going to have much more live coverage from here in Helsinki right after a quick break.


CABRERA: This week, Wall Street is abuzz as major companies release their second-quarter earnings reports. And we may finally hear if the escalating trade war and tariffs are hurting business. Alison Kosik has more.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Investors will listen for market-moving developments out of the Trump- Putin summit, but the real action on Wall Street is corporate earnings.

This week, a flood of companies begin delivering their second-quarter results. Wall Street expects pretty solid numbers. S&P 500 companies are forecast to post earnings growth of 20 percent from a year ago. That's down slightly from the first quarter.

The real question, though, will we hear companies talk about tariffs hurting their business? Mohamed El-Erian, chief advisor at Allianz, predicts rising costs will be a common concern for corporate America.


MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR, ALLIANZ: I think you're going to hear people talk about higher input prices. What you're not going to hear yet is people say that final demand has been hit, and that's key.


KOSIK: And if trade tensions keep escalating, demand could slow as prices rise. And that's what Wall Street is really concerned about.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.

CABRERA: Good Sunday evening in America. Of course, it is now early in the morning in Helsinki. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

This is CNN's special coverage of the upcoming summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, is live in Helsinki, Finland for us. President Trump arrived there just a short time ago.

[19:00:02] Wolf, take it away.

BLITZER: Ana, thank you very much. I'm here at the Allas Sea Pool. Behind me, you can Finland's presidential palace.