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How Past Presidents Dealt With Putin; Putin Has His Own Negotiating Style; Trump And Putin Set For One On One Meeting In Finland; Who's A U.S. Friend or Foe. Aired 04:30-05a ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 04:30   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Meanwhile, the former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posted a tweet herself writing, great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin. Do you know which team you play for?

TAPPER: So, Mr. President, do you think you can charm Vladimir Putin? Well, quite a few president's had been there and not done that. Here is the look at how trying to win over the Russian leader as often a losing proposition.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump will be the fourth U.S. President to hold a summit with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin's fine. He is fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So as President Trump prepares or doesn't to meet the Russian leader, he should remember that others have been there before him with very mixed success. Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all tried kicking things off with flattery.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDETN OF THE UNITED STATES: The man is deeply committed to his country.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: I think he is fully capable of doing it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The extraordinary work that you have done on behalf of the Russian people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2001, President George W. Bush took a soulful approach.

BUSH: I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush and Obama both tried to soften the Russian leader by attempting to find common interests.

BUSH: First, I would like to congratulate President Putin for being the only person who caught a fish today.

OBAMA: President Putin's expertise in judo and my skills in basketball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The relationship between U.S. leaders and the Russian counterparts has been warm in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now for the first time I can tell you that you are a disaster.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still, American Presidents have taken note of the former KGB agent's somewhat unique negotiating technique.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin says would you like to meet my dog. Out comes a giant hound across the yard. Putin says bigger, stronger and faster than Barney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with Putin officials, the language barrier has led to some awkward diplomacy.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We worked hard to get those right Russian word. You think we got it?


CLINTON: I got it wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still if there is one thing we know about President Trump, he will do it his own way.

TRUMP: Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?


TAPPER: For analysis, let's go to our political panel. I want to bring in from Washington Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst and columnist for the Washington Post in London, Luke Harding, is standing by, he is an author and foreign correspondent for "The Guardian." Luke, let's start with you. President Trump saying that this meeting with Vladimir Putin could be the easiest of his meetings on this European trip. What is your response?

LUKE HARDING, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: Jake, we keep having to remind ourselves this is not normal. We have a Russian President who subverted the attack on the American democracy, we have the latest indictments from Robert Mueller, sending out the details on how this hack was done. Then you have an American President who is saying this is the easiest meeting of all after a kind of really a pretty disastrous trip to Brussels with NATO, to United Kingdom and so on. This is an extremely kind of curious state of affairs. And in the mid of the chaos of the Trump presidency, the one theme, the one constant is Trump's flattering of Putin and refusal to criticize him and actually has kind of denialism on his refusal to recognize what Moscow has done and they still be doing.

AMANPOUR: Josh, I just want to go back to Jake's reminisce of what other presidents have had in terms of relations and let us just go back to that whole dog analogy, because president Putin brought out his very fierce dog to meet Angela Merkel when they first met and she -- and he knew was afraid of dogs. And this was a real power-play. A real power play. She got through it with her head held high. But given what just happened at the summit in NATO and the sort of (inaudible) pouring cold water over Prime Minister Theresa May with that Sun interview before they met on London. And now a quoting the E.U. a foe. What kind of dynamic do you think are both leaders they take into that meeting?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITIAL ANALYST: well, I think you are right. To point out that Vladimir Putin often prepares very skillfully for his meetings with these world leaders. And from the reporting, what it seems that his approach to President Trump is to flatter him. Not to intimidate him. He does that for a very simple reason. Because it works. And how do we know it works? Because we have seen President Trump talk about how President Putin is so nice to him and how he appreciates that and how he wants to return that kindness with similar kindness.

Although it is a different approach. It shows the same sort of person-to-person relationships that Vladimir Putin does his research and then he figures out how he wants to approach each of these meeting.

[04:35:03] And as you pointed out rightly again when we see President Trump's behavior over the last weeks and months, it seems to be working. President Trump is doing the things that President Putin wants him to do. Undermining alliances and questioning the NATO alliance and questioning the E.U. and questioning America's commitment to both. These are all things that are in Russia's strategic interests. So when they go into the meeting today, President Putin doesn't have to bring his big, scary dog. All he has to bring is a bunch of compliments. That is what it does with President Trump, Putin knows that pretty well.

TAPPER: Luke, the indictments of 12 military intelligence officials from Russia by a grand jury and the Department of Justice on Friday is one reason why people have talked about why this summit, why this meeting should be scrapped. Even though obviously President Trump is not going to do that. but in the U.K., the fact that the same unit, the military intelligence unit of the Russian army is now thought to be who was behind the poisoning of individuals in the U.K. is also being cited as a reason why this should not take place.

HARDING: Yes. And I think a big test, Donald Trump is whether he actually does what Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, wants him to do. Which is to raise what happened in Salisbury and raise the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the murder of Dawn Sturgess, who we now know, picked up the bottle containing this kind of the lethal Novichok agent. And actually kind of calls ultimatum, Mrs. May wants this. I'm skeptical that Donald Trump will do this because his record is one of appeasement of equivocation of dodging the facts.

And just to go to the kind of the meeting and the preparation that Vladimir Putin has done. I mean this meeting actually strikes me a bit like a sort of KGB case officer meeting an asset for an evaluation or an annual report. Now that reminds us, that is what Vladimir Putin used to do when he worked for the KGB in his early back in the 1980's. There will be an enormous psychological profile of Donald Trump. The Russians will be overtly taping the meeting and they analyze and pore over every word that Donald Trump says.

And meanwhile, we, by which I mean the global public, will have seemingly no read as of these conversation. We will not know what Donald Trump says, what concession he may or may not may. There is plenty of expertise here. The White House has a Great Russian scholar, Fiona Hill, but she will not be in the room. We just have to wait and see what Donald Trump admits to having said afterwards.

AMANPOUR: Josh, to you, you know, continuing that theme, we know history told us that President Kennedy when he met with the leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1961, he came back and he said he savaged me. He was totally unprepared, he was a young new President and he was completely unprepared. And a couple months later up goes the Berlin wall. What do you think people like Fiona Hill or others in the administration, do you know what they have been saying to the President about how to be the best prepared, you know, given the different times right now, but nonetheless still very tense times between the two nations?

ROGIN: Well, there has been plenty of reporting to show that at each of his interactions with President Putin, President Trump has been advised by his top leaders to do certain things and to not do certain things. He basically ignores that advice. He was encouraged not to congratulate President Putin on his recent win. He explicitly defied that and congratulated him just to make the point. OK. They talk all the time. They have their own rapport. What his aides are doing, including National Security Adviser, John Bolton and his meeting are trying to build as much predictability into this meeting as much as possible given those circumstances. And that amount of predictability is fairly low.

So, they are trying to -- again, there is no agenda. There is no set deliverables. There is no set joint statement and what there are some outlines. And outlines are, what do we hope to discuss with President Putin? What do we hope to get from him? And what do we not want to give him? We don't want to give him the things that are going to be the most controversial and if President Trump follows that advice that will be a reasonably good summit in the minds of his advisors.

TAPPER: All right. Josh and Luke, thank you so much.

The clock is ticking down to the Trump/Putin summit in the building behind us. In the meantime, the world is wondering which country is the U.S. president will call friend or foe or both. More details on the new guessing game next. [03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: President Trump's critics and even some members of his own administration find it hard to know which countries he will consider a friend or a foe. On Sunday, Mr. Trump turned on one of the United States biggest allies in the interview with CBS. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I think, we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe on what they do to us on trade. Now, you would not think of the European Union, but they are a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects and China is a foe economically certainly they are a foe. But that doesn't mean they are bad. It doesn't mean anything. It means they are competitors. They want to do well and we want to do well.


AMANPOUR: So do we hear, you just heard President Trump Russia a foe as well? But that is not comforting European council President Tusk, he tweeted, America and the E.U. are best friends and who ever says we are foes is spreading fake news. So, all of this coming as these meeting is about to get under way. Let's get more insight on it from the former Swedish Prime Minister and also Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, who joins me live from Split in Croatia. Carl Bildt, welcome to the program, so, what do you make first and foremost of these language of foes and competitors? President Trump lumping in even allies in his vision of who he says is treating the United States unfairly.

CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER, FOREIGN MINISTER: To be taken literally and seriously which is sort of debatable when it comes to President Trump. It would be nothing less than a political earthquake.

[04:45:00] Because the law of the global order as a matter of fact and what we still have in the work has been dependent upon the relationship between Europe -- the European Union and the United States. (Inaudible) toward the European Union or are you a foe, that is quite something. I don't think, we really, but I don't think you really represent the United States when he says that.

AMANPOUR: And he does sort of narrows it down to the issue of trade and most of his characterization about other nations does come down to trade and also, you know, paying dues, et cetera, as he said in Brussels to the NATO allies. So, coming off the Brussels summit, coming off his meeting in London and these comments that he just made, what do you anticipate? What are your feelings about the outcome of his meeting with President Putin?

BILDT: I think that what worries a lot of Europeans, of course the fact that if you look at the track record of Donald Trump. He tends to makes friends (inaudible) -- it could be Putin or could be someone else. They are all friends. While the friend -- the true friend, Europeans and Canadians are subject to vicious attacks on trade or whatever it is all the time. And the theory is of course then that what will happen at worst in Helsinki that Trump will be able to show and Putin will get away with substance. And that substance are being federal concern to Europeans. That 10,000 pipe in Bomba. We had violations of fundamental things on the European Security. We had the Novichok attack in the U.K. We have the shooting down of MH-17. These are series issues that should be on the table. But whether there will be, you know.

AMANPOUR: You know, I'm struck by what you said. That there will be a show versus substance and Putin will win on the substance side. What do you think he is coming here to achieve?

BILDT: I mean, Putin is a very liberate and careful operator when it comes to thing like this. I think, basically what he would like to see is to say to Trump we are friends. Forget about the past. Let's move on. Forget about Ukraine. Forget about Syria. And that is it. Then move on. What I hope could come out of it at best would be some agreement to start dialogue of denuclearization. That I think is what interests Putin as a matter of fact and in that particular case, the infrastructure as well.

AMANPOUR: Let's hope that does comes out of it. Carl Bildt, former Swedish Foreign Prime Minister, former Swedish Prime Minister, thanks for joining us live just now.

BILDT: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now the summit between the U.S. the Russian Presidents is a little over an hour away. More of CNN's continued live coverage from Helsinki, Finland just ahead.


TAPPER: President Trump and his team have wrapped up a breakfast meeting with the President of Finland and now the President of the United States is just over an hour away from his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. One-on-one meeting is expected to last about an hour. Although, with so much in these summit, this meeting, who knows -- who knows what is going to happen. And Christiane, a lot of people in Washington, D.C. a lot of Republicans who have reputationally been rather hawkish on Russia for the last decade or so. Our concerned about what is going to happen with this meeting.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, so as our allies around the world, because this all comes off a very unusual paradigm where the President of the United States, traditionally the leader of the western system -- the Democratic system, including the security system, has in public seemed to sort of try to well, to denigrate, if you like, allies, to weaken allies and some in Russia are saying, well, wow, the U.S. President is kind a doing what President Putin has been trying doing and has not been able to achieve.

All that said, it is important to see what comes of this meeting. Be who knows, maybe there is some kind of chemistry that resets the clock. (Inaudible) wrong word reset, if it hasn't go so well and the President Obama are also in Helsinki which has had such a tradition of bringing the two sides together throughout the years of the cold war until now. We will see what happens. I think Putin goes in with a planning advantage anyway.

TAPPER: President Trump earlier today, earlier this morning, tweeting that the United States is to blame for the bad state or poor state of Russian and U.S. relations, blaming the investigation into the Russian cyberattack on United States, instead blaming the cyberattacks itself. And that tweet, interestingly enough was liked by the Russian foreign ministry. So you talk about President Trump going at allies. President Trump in this instance going at the United States or the previous administrations and the Russian foreign ministry approving, liking that message.

AMANPOUR: Well, they would, wouldn't they? I mean, it suits them down to the ground. I think that you know, the Russians are very, very keen to come out of their isolation. Isolation imposed most specifically by the invasion and annexation of Crimea back in 2014. And look you are absolutely right.

People have said, some of these things did happened on previous President's watches. But it is now, you know, history did not start back then and nor does it starts right now. It is a continuum. And President Trump, the allies certainly hope, will take his stiffly march to President Putin while trying to figure out ways where there are areas of joint interests and importance to try to resolve some of the untenable tension which has thrown up a competition between Russia for its superior influence and the west.

TAPPER: Certainly when it comes to arms control, and nuclear disarmament, when it comes to Syria, when it comes to any number of issues. There are areas of cooperation. But the president owned administration, the director of national intelligence and others are sounding the alarm about how Russia continues to stage cyberattacks on the United States.

[04:55:03] Other countries, too. But Russia being the worst actor of them all. And there's a lot of hope that President Trump will confront Putin on that even while trying to forge this bond where they can work together on other issues.

AMANPOUR: That is true. I think United States has something to learn from European countries. Maybe they go a head's up from what happened in their elections in 2016, in the elections in France and Germany, and other, they fought back against Russian intelligence hacking and the cyberhacking into their elections. I think the other thing is also, you know, Putin and Trump may do a deal over Syria which involves Iran. But it is important for President Trump to know that the Iranian supreme leader direct emissary has been here meeting with President Putin. And they say they have acquired, you know, $50 billion investment in their energy economy while the United States is trying to cut off allies and expect the allies doing business over the Iran deal.

TAPPER: All right. That is it for me and Christiane Amanpour. Stay tuned to CNN for more of our coverage of the Trump/Putin summit here in Helsinki, Finland. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)