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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Betrayal in Helsinki; Interview With Gov. John Kasich. Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired July 16, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson.
I am Chris Cuomo.
And I never realized it could be anything but sunny in Helsinki at this time of year until today. As you see behind me, there's a little bit of a gloom now. It set in right after the world witnessed a betrayal the likes of which we've never seen.
America's president sided with its enemy today. Shock has turned to a national shunning as America finds unity in President Trump's perfidy.
First up tonight, we have former U.S. intelligence chief, Leon Panetta, on what does it mean when a president betrays his own country.
And what does this mean for the GOP and efforts to oppose Trump? We have a man who could try to unset him in 2020, Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Now, whatever died today, something may have been born as well. For all the emotion of the moment, the most powerful force is fact, and we're going to lay out an absolutely truthful account of a day that is unprecedented in world history.
My friends, let's get after it.
CUOMO: All right. So here's the good news -- you and America tonight get to see which of your leaders has the courage to speak in this moment -- left, right, reasonable, they're all on the same side if they believe in the truth. And the truth is a side in itself.
Russia interfered in our election, period. And our government, with the exception of our president, knows this and believes that Russia is still trying to interfere right now.
Joining us is former defense secretary, CIA director, and White House chief of staff, Leon Panetta.
Leon, thank you for joining us tonight. Very important to have you.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Nice to be with you, Chris. CUOMO: What we lived through today, did you ever see anything else
PANETTA: This is -- this is probably the most tragic day in the history of the presidency because a United States president who is elected to defend and protect the United States of America against our adversaries stood up next to our adversary and said he trusts the Russians more than he trusts our own intelligence and law enforcement officials. That is tragic, and I have never seen a president in my lifetime ever make that kind of mistake.
CUOMO: You know, especially coming from you, weighty words. And I wish I could push back and say you're being hyperbolic. Let's play exactly what he said.
But we're going to do that right now, and everybody can see the accuracy in your qualification. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today, and I think we're all to blame. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this -- I don't see any reason why it would be.
I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, Leon, the president of the United States has to know the truth of the situation. There are too many people around him, too many agencies, too many briefings for him to have any source for confusion on what the facts are from the U.S. government's perspective.
PANETTA: Oh, I don't think there's any question. You've got 17 intelligence agencies. You have his director of national intelligence, Mr. Coats, who has repeated this constantly. You've got Mr. Pompeo when he was CIA director say exactly that, that the Russians had directly interfered in our election. You've got 12 indictments by Mr. Mueller against Russian military officers.
All of this makes very clear what happened in that election, and the president knows it. He's been told it. And to continue to say that somehow the Russians are to be trusted for -- in their word that they didn't do this is outrageous. It's something that I never thought a president of the United States would say.
CUOMO: So, what do we do now? I mean, what is the rule book for when a president betrays his own country and sides with an enemy?
PANETTA: Look, I -- you know, this is a great country. You know, my parents were immigrants to this country but believed deeply in what this country was all about and what it represented. And I think that's true for most Americans in this country. They know that we have a great country.
We are the strongest country on the face of the earth, and they know that our intelligence officials, our law enforcement officials really do work to protect the interests of our country.
So I think it's up to the American people to make clear that we will not tolerate a president who does not defend the United States of America. I think the president frankly ought to come back here as a result of what happened there, apologize for what he said, and try to set the record straight. Otherwise, I think it's up to members of the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, and the American people to make very clear that this president has to first and foremost defend the United States of America and not speak as if somehow Russia is pulling the strings on everything he does.
CUOMO: You know, it's interesting. The oath of office for everybody that you took, everyone except the president, includes that line to defend America against enemies at home and abroad.
Interestingly, the president doesn't take that oath. He takes an oath to the Constitution, but it becomes one and the same. So how would he react to this?
He tweeted. He tried to do his typical double down and then blame somebody else, but it didn't work.
And then they put out the vice president, Mike Pence, and here's what he said.
[21:05:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world saw once again, the president, Donald Trump, stands without apology as leader of the free world. What the American people saw is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Except today. I mean, you know, the vice president can deliver anything with a straight face. I guess you usually should get some kind of points for that as a politician, but not today. He didn't put America first. He put Trump first.
I mean, what other explanation can you offer, Secretary, other than he sees Russian interference as being equivalent to illegitimacy of his win. And that's all he needs to know, and everything comes second to that interest.
PANETTA: Well, I think, Chris, you know, the fundamental problem has been that this president in some ways still goes back to the election. And rather than accepting the fact that he was elected as president of the United States and then moving on to defend this country, he's still wrapped up in what happened in that election, and he deeply feels, I'm sure, that this Russian interference puts a cloud over that election and puts a cloud over his credibility when the reality is he was elected president of the United States. He is president of the United States, and his first responsibility is to America and to protecting our country.
And he should acknowledge --
PANETTA: -- that the Russians deliberately interfered in our process and that they should never do it again. That's what he should have said, and unfortunately that didn't happen.
CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, the oath of office that he took is inherently an agency contract where he has stewardship of the American people, and you're supposed to surrender the "me" to the "we". That didn't happen today.
But the reason it was so important for me to get you on, Mr. Secretary, is that it seemed different today. Maybe it was being on the world stage. Maybe it was being deferential to the bad guy in this equation of Vladimir Putin.
Whatever it was, this is a different dynamic that we're seeing. Let's put up the statements of Ash Carter, obviously secretary of defense under President Obama, but also Dan Coats, as we were referring to earlier, the current head of the DNI. And you have, also we saw from John Brennan, who was the former head of the CIA with his tweet.
Put up their statements for the audience. I want people to see what they were putting out today because these are men who are in the business of knowing.
Now, Brennan was the most exorcised. He was saying it exceeds the threshold for high crimes and misdemeanors. I mean, look, you can debate that all day. It's not a real legal standard. I don't think either of us see that kind of political calamity heading the president's way over this.
He says it's treasonous. We know the law on that. We know a prosecution is very unlikely.
But then we get to Ash Carter. And he says: In my almost four decades with the national defense, starting in the Pentagon under Ronald Reagan, I never saw or imagined so uneven a handover of American security -- and he likens it to the destruction of a cathedral that he had been seeing.
And now, we get to then Coats. Coats didn't ask the White House for approval today, our reporting suggests, Secretary, before he put out a statement that said, after the president trashed the reality of truth in the situation: We've been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.
Even though the president contradicted this, he took the time to go back. Are you seeing something different in the response to the president this time?
PANETTA: Well, you know, I think -- I think you're hearing the voice of America. I mean Newt Gingrich, who has supported this administration and this president, said this was the biggest and worst mistake in the history of this presidency.
Whether it's Republicans or whether it's Democrats, I think you're sensing the outrage at what took place. Why? Because the American people believe that America is right. I mean, we're dealing with an adversary who has deliberately invaded another country and annexed Crimea, has gone into Syria and created a humanitarian crisis, has conducted probably the worst cyberattack against the United States to undermine our election system.
These are bad people. They're bad guys. They're the enemy. They're the adversary.
And, yes, we want to talk to them. Yes, we want to try to see if we can solve some of the problems in the world. But we have to recognize that they are an adversary whose first goal is to undermine the United States of America. That is the reality that somehow the president of the United States did not face today.
CUOMO: Well, not only did he not face it today, I think that the frightening truth, Secretary Panetta, is the president doesn't agree with you. He does not see it that way. And, in fact, he's so confident in that feeling that he echoed it to the entire world here in Helsinki.
But, Leon Panetta, thank you for giving us your perspective on a very, very important evening. Thank you very much.
So, if you were watching today, the final words for President Trump in the press conference were "witch hunt." He literally shouted them to the entire world that was watching as he embraced Russia's Vladimir Putin literally and figuratively. It caused a lot of hot feelings. But now is the time for facts, and we have them for you, next.
[21:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME. We're here in Helsinki, at the Allas Sea Pool.
It was the simplest of all questions regarding Russia's attacks on our democracy. Did it happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.
I will say this -- I don't see any reason why it would be.
I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:15:00] CUOMO: That was the president of the United States' answer, a kick in the groin to his counterintelligence men and women, to his country, and most to the truth. With the world watching, the leader of the free world sided with the man who directly ordered a sophisticated attack on America's electoral system. End of discussion. That's what happened.
So, as the wounded, all of us, were in WTF mode, Putin applied the salty echo. The Russian state has never interfered, he lied.
The truth, U.S. intelligence agencies including the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and the DNI all concluded long ago Russia did it. And the worst part is the president knows what they found. They brief him most of all.
Here's the quote: Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances, unquote.
The Senate, a bipartisan intelligence committee, they reviewed it all. They agree with this assessment. Quote: The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself, unquote.
His own Justice Department and the special counsel also echo these conclusions, and he knows that too. At least 25 Russians so far have been indicted by special counsel Bob Mueller along with three Russian entities for alleged interference. The president also knows that not only did Russia do it then, Russia is still doing it now.
His homeland security secretary, Nielsen, said this weekend Russia is continuing to target U.S. elections. The threat has not dissipated. Those are her words.
CUOMO: -- spokespeople, and other fronts to sow discord and divisiveness among the American people. And after President Trump turned on the truth, the men and women turned his face back toward it, specifically those who do the investigating.
DNI Head Dan Coats did not ask the White House for permission before saying, quote: We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.
So if that wasn't enough, to add insult to injury, the president then suggested, here's a great idea. Vladimir Putin wants to be involved in the investigation. What a great offer, he said.
Of course Putin wants to be involved. The president has been told multiple times this is not a game of clue where you can say it was the butler in the closet with the candelabra. Intelligence has to be explained in vague terms, especially outside a court. Why? Because if the enemy knows how you did it, they can avoid detection the next time. And that's exactly what Putin wants.
Look, the more mysterious question is why did Trump do this. And here's the best that we have at this point. He did it because America first is not his motto. Trump first is.
And he thinks that this was better for him. That Russian interference equals an illegitimate election win, which is not true. However, he did not, as he said in his speech today, choose peace over politics. He chose peace of mind that his legitimacy is safe over "we, the people". That is the ugly truth.
Now let's debate it. Let's bring in Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum for a great debate.
And the sound is so crystallizing, it is so significant you cannot hype it. You cannot be hyperbolic. You cannot exaggerate it.
I want to play it again for the audience before we debate it.
Here is what the president of the United States said on the world stage about whether or not Russia attacked the U.S. election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I didn't know if those were the shutters of the cameras or people eyes clicking in their heads when he was saying that, Rick Santorum. I love my intelligence people, but I believe Putin? How about this great offer for him to take a look at our investigation so he can see if we reached the right conclusion? Do you accept any of that?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't. And I think the president's done some real damage to his administration. I think he is -- as you noted, I do believe President Trump has a put America first policy, and he has followed it, I think, very, very well in a lot of areas.
But the one area he did not follow it was today. He did not put America first today. He put himself first. And I can understand it.
Look, I'm not going to apologize for him, but, you know, he's been under constant attack by this Russia investigation. It has been the bane of his existence, and I think he saw this as an opportunity to try to put that behind him. But what he did is just the opposite.
The chorus from both sides of the aisle -- frankly, I don't pay much attention to the other side of the aisle on these issues because they -- their -- they get crazy on everything he does. But the fact that Republicans almost with unanimity have said the president's got to back this down, he's got to turn this around, he's got to correct the record, and he's got to be very forceful in confronting Russia, I think that shows you what a miscalculation this was by the president.
CUOMO: Well, here's their problem, Jennifer -- he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to do that. This isn't about ignorance. This is about arrogance.
He comes first, and he knows they won't do anything about him because at the end of the day, they're scared. So, the question becomes, what do you do about it, Jennifer Granholm? We've never seen a betrayal like this before, and that is not hyperbolic.
This is the president and the first lady returning to a shocked America right now at Andrews Air Force Base. We are told he did not address the press in the airplane, Air Force One. That was a missed opportunity.
So here he is now. What will he do next? Obviously, America will be watching.
Jennifer Granholm, to you.
[21:25:00] JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Number one, he has to ratchet up and not water down sanctions.
Number two, I think Congress has to ask for the interpreter's notes, or there has to be some call to account for what was actually said in that meeting. And the only way to believe it is through what was written on that paper and what was immediately debriefed after.
Number three, Congress has got to back off of this demand of pulling back on the Mueller investigation. You've got Jim Jordan, who has actually filed documents or preparing documents to impeach Rod Rosenstein. That has got to cut -- they've got to cut that out, and they should -- regardless of whether you think that Putin is going to actually extradite, the president should call for the extradition of these 12.
And then for America, it is clear that you need a check on this president. And the only way you're going to find a check on this president is at the ballot in November if the Russians don't continue to take this election away from us like they tried to do in 2016. Whether you believe it or not, the bottom line is studies have shown there was some impact, and in 2018, if we don't stop this, then we're going to see it again.
SANTORUM: Well, if I can, I think what you're seeing is --
CUOMO: Well, let's put elections to the side. Rick, go ahead. Make your point. SANTORUM: Well, I think -- yes, I think you're seeing a check on the president. I don't think there's any question that -- I haven't heard a single Republican defend the president today. In fact, they've been quite tough on him.
GRANHOLM: Rand Paul, Darrell Issa.
SANTORUM: OK. I put Rand Paul in his own party. But I don't see --
GRANHOLM: I'm just saying. I would say that silence -- silence is aiding and abetting what the president is doing too.
SANTORUM: I think you're hearing a lot of folks speaking out very, very loudly. And I agree --
GRANHOLM: And bravo to you, Rick.
SANTORUM: I agree --
CUOMO: We have a list of them. If you can pull the graphic as Rick or Jennifer are talking, put up the graphic of who we saw today within the party when you get it, of the people who spoke out. A lot did. Not all.
We've also never seen anything like this before. Now, this is a graphic of people within the Trump administration. That's a good graphic. You can put that back up. These are people within the administration right now who have said otherwise than the president today.
Look, it's a good baseline, Rick, which is the damn truth, OK? This is not an opinion point. It's not about whether Trump colluded or anybody in his campaign staff was involved in Russian efforts. It's whether it happened at all.
And remember the clumsiness of his own explanation, which is, hey, this happened during the Obama administration, this thing which I'm now going to say didn't happen because Putin tells me so.
So here you have Dan Coats, Chris Wray, obviously the head of the FBI. Mike Pompeo, obviously secretary of state. Paul Nakasone said it also and Gina Haspel, Senator, I do agree with the assessment.
So, look, it's not about the truth, Rick. You know, you gave him an excuse earlier. You said, well, you know, everybody has been after him about this.
So what, Rick? That means you don't have to live up to your oath?
SANTORUM: I did not excuse -- I do not excuse what the president said. I just -- I tried to give you some insight as to what the president was thinking and what he was trying to accomplish. And I agree that I think it was a betrayal of the United States and in his rhetoric at that press conference. But one of the things that I think could benefit Trump is the hyperbolic response by some like John Brennan saying that it's treasonous. It's what's always given the president quarter with his base, which is that everybody on the left just goes, you know, ballistic and goes overboard.
CUOMO: You think the base likes what he said today?
SANTORUM: No, I don't think they do. But I do believe that, for example --
CUOMO: Trading patriotism for self-preservation?
SANTORUM: I think President Obama betrayed this country more with his deal with Iran.
CUOMO: How? How?
GRANHOLM: Come on.
SANTORUM: And giving billions of dollars to Iran to foment in Syria and other places --
SANTORUM: So, if you look at policy, I think there's a lot worse policy out of the last administration than this.
CUOMO: No, no, it's not about policy. Don't surrender your high ground, Rick. Don't do that to yourself.
SANTORUM: I'm not surrendering my high ground.
CUOMO: It's one thing to battle policy and say the Iran deal is a bad deal. You can say it all day. It's fine. Vladimir Putin doesn't agree with you and the president says he's basically always right, but let's put that to the side.
To say that President Obama ever betrayed the country the way we saw today, you know has an absence of facts supporting it.
SANTORUM: He lied to us about the whole Iran deal. I mean, he lied repeatedly. He transferred money --
GRANHOLM: Can I just say --
CUOMO: Come on. To go down a road like this at this time, Rick, you got think twice about it.
Jennifer, go ahead.
SANTORUM: I'm sincere about it. GRANHOLM: I just want to say this, Rick --
CUOMO: Well, that's the problem. Go ahead.
GRANHOLM: I mean, I think it's terrific, that you are calling out -- Rick, that you were calling out the president today and it's good to see these tweets.
But talk is cheap. What are the Republicans in Congress going to do to make sure that this behavior does not continue? The behavior both of the Russians as well as this president, who continues to bow to Vladimir Putin. What are the Republicans going to do?
SANTORUM: I think it's important that this president do some things. For example, I mean the gas line that he hammered Angela Merkel on, I think that's a great place to start. That will cripple Russia. Increasing contributions to NATO. That's something that Vladimir Putin doesn't want.
There's a lot of things this administration can do, toughening up sanctions.
GRANHOLM: I'm talking about Republicans in Congress, though, Rick.
SANTORUM: -- all of those things he can do.
GRANHOLM: The Republicans in Congress are the only way to check this president in the current cycle unless Democrats get elected in November. So, what are the Republicans in Congress right now going to do besides their Twitter feed to check this president?
[21:35:00] SANTORUM: Well, you know, passing anything in this Congress isn't particularly easy, but I would think maybe looking at a Russian sanctions bill or something like that, that you could find some bipartisan support to send a message to Vladimir Putin that we don't share President Trump's opinion on his meddling in this -- in elections, and not just elections, the whole cyber warfare. It's not just meddling in elections. It's meddling in our economy and our infrastructure.
I mean, the Russians and the oligarchs over there are a serious threat to this country on a lot of levels and we have to start taking them a lot more seriously.
GRANHOLM: All right. Can I just say stop using the word "meddling"? This was an act of war on our democracy. Meddling sounds like something, you know, your aunt does when she doesn't like your boyfriend. It is a much more serious thing than just meddling.
SANTORUM: I would argue that Russia and their cyberattacks on this country, in businesses in this country and our government are acts of war on a continual basis. I would agree with you on that. But I would say that Russia I'm sure in the past has meddled and has tried to influence elections as we have in other countries. That does not mean that we should allow for it. We should certainly fight.
But it's at a much higher level now because of the whole cyber issue, that we have to start addressing, and we haven't in all seriousness.
GRANHOLM: Well, either the president --
CUOMO: And the reason we haven't -- we got to leave it here.
CUOMO: Go ahead. Finish your point, Jennifer. It's too important. Go ahead.
GRANHOLM: I was just going to say, you know, unless the president calls together his intelligence community and has a cabinet meeting that is all hands on deck to stop this interference in our election, people will suggest that the president actually doesn't really mind the interference in this election because perhaps he thinks that Vladimir Putin is going to help him again in 2018. That is very dangerous.
CUOMO: Well, look, let's end on a fact, OK? We have heard from a cabinet-level official that the United States government has not thrown into high gear any kind of anti-attack plan because the president hasn't called for it. If there was ever a time, it is right now.
Rick Santorum, Jennifer Granholm, thank you.
SANTORUM: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. There's no question this is a sad day, says my next guest. And he is Republican Governor John Kasich. What he wants to tell the president when we come back.
Good to see you, governor.
[21:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And that might have been the scariest part of one of the most unprecedented moments in presidential history. You heard that right. That was the president of the United States turning and betraying his own intelligence community and touting Vladimir Putin's denial that he did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election -- something that we know is not true in fact.
And then he said, and a great idea is to let Putin and his guys come in and look at how we detected their intrusion in the first place. That's crazy talk for anybody in the intelligence community.
Now some of the members of his own party are pushing back. Take a look. We'll show you at some point. There are a lot of them. One of the voices, though, is that of Ohio Governor John Kasich, and it's good to have him on the show tonight.
Governor, thank you for joining us.
We have a graphic of different people in your party who have stepped up and said this is a bridge too far. This is too much. What do you make of this level of betrayal?
We're showing to the audience right now the house speaker. We saw the Senate leader come out, and there are a list of about two dozen people who came out, both in the House and in the Senate.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Yes.
CUOMO: How big a deal is this to you?
KASICH: Well, I think it's a big deal, Chris, but let's stop for a second and just think about recent history.
The president went to the G7 summit. He would not sign the communique, and in fact at that summit, he said that perhaps Russia should be added to the G7.
He then turned around, and he went to the NATO conference. And the whole NATO conference was -- he was a diplomatic wrecking ball, and he aggravated many people and did it in some ways in a personal way.
And then he went over to England and insulted the prime minister before he even landed or did some interview somewhere.
KASICH: And disrupted her.
So where was everybody then? You know, why didn't somebody step up and say, this is not the way to do things.
There are a few of us who have been talking about this. And let me tell you why I'm concerned about in. I went to the National Press Club last week to talk about the fraying alliance.
We've kept the peace for 70 years, the United States and our allies after World War II. And whether it's a trade dispute, which I've heard muted voices on, or whether it's the unilateral actions that the United States has taken and as to that these summits, it's -- we need -- we need more people to just not say a few things or put out a few tweets, but they need to take an aggressive position.
CUOMO: But this was different.
KASICH: And we haven't seen it.
CUOMO: This was different, though, Governor. I want to talk to you about what that position might be.
KASICH: I thought Charlottesville was different. So, you know, the question is --
CUOMO: Charlottesville was different in its own way.
KASICH: I thought that was different. Now, I know, I'm just saying to you, Chris --
CUOMO: That was different too in its own way, but this was on a world stage, and it didn't --
KASICH: Well --
CUOMO: Look, this is the difference because I covered all these things, Governor, and I understand their impact acutely and also in a macro sense of how they played out and didn't over time, but never involving an inimical country. We've never seen anything like this where a U.S. president sided with an enemy against his own people.
[21:45:00] KASICH: I'm just -- look, at the G7, he thought maybe we should add Russia. He said that in the Crimea, those people speak Russian.
I mean, what I'm trying to say to you is if people don't stand up all the way through, if the voices are not strong all the way through --
KASICH: -- is it really shocking that something like this would happen? Look,
CUOMO: So what do you do now?
KASICH: What do you do now that the Republicans in the Congress -- some of them have stood up. They need to do more. They need to take some action.
You know, Corker had a program on trade. They didn't -- all they had was some meaningless little proposal. Better than nothing.
KASICH: They need to look to get their voice. They need to take some positions, and they need to work with Democrats because if you think about at the top of the show, Leon Panetta, I used to work with him. You can think about Senator Warner. There are many good Democrats that Republicans can get together with and begin to forge a consensus that preserves NATO, that basically preserves the ability to have free and fair trade, and says that America just can't do these things alone because if this -- if this alliance fractures, Chris, then we have enormous problems.
So, let's see if we can repair it somehow.
CUOMO: Well, the head of the E.U. said, America, be gentle with your allies. You don't have that many, which was frightening talk at the time. Of course, it was nothing compared to today.
So, let me put you on the spot. This is a moment of conscience. We see Republicans and Democrats speaking out and together in a way that I haven't seen in this presidency and frankly I haven't seen in a long time even before that.
What does this mean for you, and what does it do to your resolve to make a difference on the national level?
KASICH: Well, you know, Chris, I've been through a couple years of this. You know, I didn't go to my own convention, and I didn't endorse this man. Many people caved and endorsed him. Why didn't I?
Well, because I was worried about things like this. You know, I stood on that debate stage, and I listened to the debate that was going on. I couldn't believe some of the things that were being said. And so that's why I've spoken out.
Everybody says, well, he speaks out because he wants to run for president. It's political. It's my love of my country. It's what my father and my uncles --
KASICH: -- what they did, the sacrifice, all the people that have sacrificed for our values. And what we hear today is, well, my intelligence people tell me this, but I'm kind of siding with a former KGB agent who's been involved in so many terrible things.
CUOMO: Yes, that's exactly what he said.
KASICH: OK, I know that's been said over and over again.
What I want to know is, where is this Republican base going to be? Are some of them finally going to say, this is enough? And then we can get about trying to figure out how to put this together again because I don't think it's all lost.
I mean, this is really terrible because in our country, people have always been suspicious of the Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation.
KASICH: We don't like this talk. Nobody likes this talk. So you know what I expect? I think he's going to have to come out and
say, I made a terrible mistake. I'm sorry I did it. I'm going to listen to my intelligence people.
But then there's another question, Chris. Where was his staff? You know, when I want to go and do something as governor, I will have staff people that will come and say, no, I think that's not right. And sometimes I have to back off.
KASICH: Where have they been? You can't just be quiet when things like this are happening. They've done him a terrible disservice. They should have sat him down and say, you can't do this. But somehow it happened. And now, there's been a lot of damage.
CUOMO: Nobody forced the president of the United States to side with its biggest enemy on the world stage --
KASICH: I know.
CUOMO: -- in a fit of self-preservation. That's what happened today, and it is a betrayal unlike any of the other things we've seen heretofore.
So, we'll see what it means for you because I would have said to be honest with you, Governor, up to this point, I don't know how anybody in party beats President Trump. Strong economy, God forbid, no terror attacks at home, I think he's tough to beat.
But after something like this, we'll see what happens in the coming days and weeks. And, Governor, I'm happy to have you as part of the conversation. Thank you for joining us.
KASICH: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Look, you've got the political side of this, but then you have the intelligence or lack thereof side of this.
Let's bring in two minds who can break down today's extraordinary meeting, CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd, and CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser.
You would never put a scenario like this on any type of exam because it would be too easy. When somebody says to you, I choose not to believe all of you. I choose to believe him, the guy you say is the bad guy, and I think we should let him in to see how we caught him.
How deep into the pocket of crazy talk is that suggestion?
[21:50:00] SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Look, the thing that's so striking to me still, even nine hours or however many hours after watching this press conference, sitting right here, you know, is the fact that this was a debacle of President Trump's own making. He actually is the person who invited Vladimir Putin to have a summit when he congratulated him for winning election in March, remember, in the famous do not congratulate phone call.
Why do I keep bringing that up? Because we still don't know what happened in the private one-on-one meeting that lasted more than two hours between President Trump and President Putin. Again, by the way, the Russians confirmed that that was a private meeting at President Trump's own request.
While Governor Kasich is right to say, well, where are the staff?
CUOMO: He's been underserved by his own.
GLASSER: Where are the grownups in the room? The bottom line is he kicked them out of the room, and if this is what President Trump is willing to say publicly in support of President Putin, what did he say to him privately, number one? That's a very serious question.
GLASSER: Number two, we're also -- we're still viewing it through the lens of American partisan politics, which is by the way the lens through which Donald Trump seems to want us to view this encounter with Vladimir Putin. So, again, what do we take away from that?
It was the most partisan performance by an American president overseas I've ever seen in a couple decades of watching international events, right? It was an extremely partisan performance by President Trump, and yet in a weird way, he succeeded in having us view it in a partisan lens. Well, how many Republicans can we get to condemn it? What about Democrats, Republicans?
GLASSER: Let's think about what Rod Rosenstein said with those indictments the other day -- by the way, President Trump's own appointee at the Justice Department.
GLASSER: This is not really a moment for partisan debate. As Americans --
GLASSER: -- I think we should look at how doesn't Putin benefit from what's just gone on here?
CUOMO: Well, how does he not benefit?
But, Phil, when you were watching this today, forget about the shock and the emotions. I mean, those ultimately are unproductive. What do you do in a situation like this?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you got to look around and say we've got to search for alternate leadership. If you look at the people around -- because the president has been receiving briefings presumably since after he became the candidate for the Republican Party and then when he becomes -- when he wins the election and becomes president-elect, I mean, I was there. I helped prepare some of this stuff.
You get briefings every day. You want them five days a week, you get them. You want them six days a week, you get them. And you can ask questions as technical as you want.
For example, how can you show me you have evidence that indicates these individuals from a Russian unit are responsible for this hacking? When the president after probably two years of briefings starts to say, I don't believe it, you've got to look to the staff. That's Chief of Staff Kelly, to say, dude, you got to carry some water for us here.
You've got to look to something we've seen elsewhere, the homeland security secretary, the cabinet, to say we're receiving the same intelligence and we believe that intelligence is accurate. Pompeo has said that as well.
And, finally, we've got to look to the last piece that we started to see today. Finally, Republicans after two years of this start to say, well, maybe he's got it wrong.
CUOMO: I mean, look, let's play a piece of the sound where this is what Trump came up with, which is going to sound familiar to you. In Charlottesville, he came up with this clumsy explanation for a way to please everybody and get himself out of a jam. It echoed today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. I think we're all to blame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: How the hell has the United States been foolish when it's victimized by a cyberattack? Is he talking about the DNC? Is he talking about how they didn't have good enough security? I mean, can you make any sense out of that?
MUDD: I cannot. I mean, if you look at what we've seen in terms of Russian activity and you look at the president, he keeps blaming stuff on President Obama. If you look at Russian activity, including murders and attempted murders in the U.K., including the election interference that according -- and you cited this earlier to the Department of Homeland Security continues in the American social debate on things like Black Lives Matter, that is stuff that's happening on the president's watch.
You go back and you look, obviously, at things like redrawing the map in Europe. That's the annexation of Crimea.
CUOMO: So, but what do you do? See, these are all facts.
CUOMO: What do you do when the most powerful man in the world and your boss says, no, I'm not buying it, let me tell you why. Every time I say this to the people who elected me, it means that I'm not legitimate as a president, and that's more important to me. So I don't want to hear it anymore.
GLASSER: Well, I think you are spotlighting the really, you know, unbelievable dilemma that those who serve the president and in particular on national security are facing.
Now, remember, a year ago, you know, we were told there would be an axis of adults essentially who would find ways to constrain and to, you know, curb his impulses where they conflicted with American national interests when it came to things like Russia. We were told, well, Congress will step in, and last year, right, you had a 98-2 vote by Congress, by the Senate, to impose sanctions in order to try to head off President Trump doing exactly what he just did today.
What I'm struck by is the fact that President Trump, over the course of the year, has succeeded in breaking down those barriers. He fired the secretary of state who disagreed with him about Russia. He's now on his third national security adviser.
So, over time, he's managed to control and gain more control over the levers of power. And so, the President Trump oddly enough who spoke today sounded extremely defensive and weak on the one hand. On the other hand, he had more power over his own team at least to get what he wanted, and this summit, again, was a summit of his own making.
CUOMO: Just unbelievable. All the things that we thought might happen in this summit, you know, his bad-mouthed the investigation so badly, it's kind of compromised. It can't be that strong against him. But to come out and say Putin is right and America is wrong just threw us all for a loop just when you thought you'd seen everything.
Phil Mudd, thank you very much. Susan Glasser, appreciate it. What a day.
All right. Don Lemon is standing by with a preview of "CNN TONIGHT". That will be just minutes away.
I'm telling you, Don, I know it's a hackneyed expression. Just when you'd thought you'd seen it all, but I have never seen anything like this on this scale involving an inimical country, the president of the United States betraying his own to save himself.
[21:55:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": There aren't enough adjectives out there to describe all of this. Flabbergasting is I think it is. I think most people think it is.
But, you know, with the intelligence community, it must be really infuriating and frustrating for them. And you know General Michael Hayden, right? We have him on tonight. He knows about intelligence.
Frankly, my question for him, Chris, is I'm wondering if he's questioning the president's patriotism at this point considering his performance today.
Also, the reporters were ready -- ready for Putin and Trump today. We have one of those reporters who's on the room who asked some very tough questions of both of them. You know, Putin saying and Trump saying, oh, they didn't know about each other when, you know, the visit, and we have a reporter on who says, yes, they knew. Putin knew Trump was there. So, we're going to talk to him as well.
We got a lot coming up.
CUOMO: All right, Don, we'll be watching. Thank you.
LEMON: See you.
CUOMO: So how do you deal with something like today, the horror, the shock, the emotion? It's all real. Everybody where in their feels when something like this happened. The president backing up the word of the ruthless bully. However, there could be good news in this, and it is our closing argument next.
CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME.
Here's my closing argument. It is July 16th, 2018. Many are saying this is day that will live in infamy. That's true. They say it will be remembered as the day the presidency at the symbol of America's protection died.
But I see something else as a result here. I think we hit bottom. And if so, there's a blessing in that because there can be no more debate about which way is up.
Donald John Trump delivered us here with a display of cowardly self- interest. His decision to choose to believe Vladimir Putin over his own government on a matter of Russian attacks on our election, as simple and as shocking as it was embarrassing to hear those words. But when it happened, everything changed. It was like the free world gasped.
Now, we all knew that Trump wouldn't or maybe couldn't confront Putin about his attack on our democracy to anyone's true satisfaction, if only because Trump had disparaged the truth of the matter too many times before. And we thought we knew why, because Trump conflates the attack with his legitimacy as president.
But in all of that, we never suspected that a president would betray his own country as an exercise in vanity. But then Donald Trump betrayed America. And after that gasp at Trump's perfidy came all the exhaled words of outrage and calls for the justice.
John Brennan, the former CIA director under President Obama, called it, quote, nothing short of treasonous. Now, that's a loaded word. The law does mention giving enemies aid and comfort as treasonous. And no question, Russia is an enemy for attacking our democracy. And what Donald Trump did today does resemble aiding and comforting, and the law has very harsh penalties, including disqualifying the treasonous from holding office. But what's the reality? There will likely be no negative consequence like that for President Trump. No prosecution, no impeachment, and I'm not making the case here that there should be.
My case is for something else that we're seeing in response, that has been elusive -- as elusive as justice in America recently and that is consensus, right, left and reasonable in our government when they drew their next breath, they found a collective voice.
And they shouted, no. No. Putin is not right. Trump is wrong. We believe our institutions. We trust in our democracy.
Russia did interfere. We will not trade facts for feelings of legitimacy. We will not trade our conscience for conspiracies.
No, party is not that important. The truth, however, is.
And I see a realization in this unity. The realization is this, the truth is a side. And we were all on the right side in this moment, in a way that I haven't seen in a long time.
And in that moment, Trump's luck ran out. He wasn't going to escape from doubling down and insulting his way out of it. He tried. Russia did this during Obama, servers are messing, the FBI agent, he's the real culprit.
It all washed over us like the wining of a child who won't go to bed. The GOP can't dismiss this as style and say let's wait and see. We waited too long and the world did see and heard what President Donald Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others and said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And what the president tweeted after as a rationale, it only cemented his mistake.
So, here's the good news. Here we all are on the same page about a fundamental truth, Russia attacked our democracy. We won't stand for it, we won't let the president say otherwise, but we're facing a question -- where do we go from here?
But here's what we know for sure. You've got Republicans, you've got Democrats and right now, they're on the same page. And if they move together, they will wind up in a better place.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon takes it from here.
Don, that's the hope out of all the hysteria is that we saw left, right and reasonable come together in unison today in a way that we have not seen and they did it at the right time for the right reason. What will they do next?