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Meeting Between President's Trump and Putin; United States Officials are Concerned About the Meeting; Trump Calls European Union a 'Foe' Ahead Of Russia and China; Trump Arrives At Finnish President's Residence; Trump Having Working Breakfast With Finnish President. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:10] JAKE TAPPER, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: Hello, and welcome to CNN's special coverage of the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. I am Jake Tapper in Helsinki.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: And I am Christiane Amanpour. And we're just hours away from that face to face meeting. It's going to happen in the building right behind us, which is the Presidential palace.

TAPPER: They have met twice before.

AMANPOUR: They have indeed.

TAPPER: On the sidelines of other summits. But this meeting without any senior aides present has the U.S. allies and some lawmakers uneasy about what might get said, what could get promised about misunderstandings without witnesses there. And of course, ultimately people are concerned about how the former KGB agent Mr. Putin might be able to manipulate the outcome to his advantage.

A source says there is no agenda, Christiane, but here is what Mr. Trump told CBS.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your goal from the Putin meeting?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I will let you know after the meeting. I have absolutely, mutually agreed. Let's have a meeting. I think it is a good thing for the two to meet. I do believe in meetings.


TAPPER: Looming over the summit are Friday's indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers. They're accused of hacking the Democrats' computer networks during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign and releasing stolen information to influence the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians who were indicted would you ask Putin to send them here?

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


TAPPER: Joining us right now our CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins and International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. President Trump is awake and not surprisingly he is tweeting. Here is one of the tweets, quote, President Obama thought that crooked Hillary was going to win the election. So when he was informed by the FBI about Russian meddling, he said it couldn't happen, was no big deal and did nothing about it.

When I won it became a big deal. And the rigged witch hunt headed by Strzok, a referenced FBI Agent Peter Strzok. And of course, not surprisingly that is not an accurate description of what happened in any way shape or form.


AMANPOUR: Tell us what was the accurate description, Jake?

TAPPER: I mean there are literally been books written about it. But the Obama administration was aware of the interference going on, and they did try to take several steps, including a joint statement put out by the intelligence chiefs in October.

AMANPOUR: We understand that President Obama told him to knock it off when he met President Putin.

TAPPER: Yeah. There is a description of a meeting where he was very stern and told him to stop. Putin denied that they were interfering. It gets deep and complicated.

AMANPOUR: And just to continue this thread, at the (Inaudible) press conference, when Jim Acosta was trying to ask him a question, the President, and he didn't take the question (Inaudible). Will you tell Mr. Putin, President Putin to stop interfering and President Trump said yes I will.

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: But it is about just so much more about to what the President says Putin. It is about how he says it. It's not just if he'll bring it up. Because of course, he's done that before. He's denied it. And he said whenever he denies it, I believe him, saying he believes that he believed Russia didn't meddle in the election.

But it's not President Trump confronting him over this election meddling, and from his tweet this morning, we are seeing what his mindset is going into this meeting. He is saving his harshest criticism for his predecessor, Barack Obama, instead of the Russian intelligence officers who attacked an American election. And instead of Vladimir Putin, and we are seeing what the President's mindset going into this.

And it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the President is actually going to go confront him over this and tell him to stop meddling in American elections.

TAPPER: In terms of his mindset, Nic, we should point out President Trump did identify one group of people as the enemy of the American people, except he wasn't referring to Russian military intelligence officers disrupting and interfering in the U.S. election. He was referring to the journalists who are reporting on it.

NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: He did. He's also referred to the European Union as being part of a problem for the United States, which may come as a surprise for some of those members, because President Trump, European Unions shares his membership. Many of those members are European Union, members of NATO.

And President Trump said he got along famously with those members of NATO and have done so well to raise money in such a short space of time. So for E.U. that will come as something as a shock, but just going back to your point, Kaitlan and your point, Christiane, about the mindset of President Trump going into this meeting and how he framed, how he framed his putting to President Putin last time about the meddling.

[02:04:59] This was at the G20, the first they had a face to face with Putin, a 45 minute meeting that turned into 2 hours and 15 minutes. (Inaudible) really learned about the framing, of how he framed the question from Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister who happened to be in the room.

And he framed it in terms of well, essentially some people are saying this but there isn't any evidence for it. So is he going to get beyond that this time, because last time he framed it as it's somebody (Inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Just a couple of observations I thing are rpt eally important. I mean we are a network that talks about facts first. We have to hue to the facts no matter what anybody else tries to say around it, no matter what kind of tweets. And Helsinki has a proud, proud history of human rights and freedom of the press.

And it's probably not surprising that the main newspaper here has big ads taken out, saying Mr. President welcome to the land of the free press. They might have said Mr. President because Mr. Putin equally, in fact, much more worse about the press than President Trump is. But that is very important. Amnesty International has come out and taken ads saying make human rights great again.

Again, aimed at both sides of the picture, but I really do wonder, we don't know the agenda. President Trump was alarmingly honest when he said to the CBS interviewer that I don't know the agenda.

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: Ask me afterwards.

AMANPOUR: Ask me afterwards. Most people believe that it is a good thing for the President of the United States and the President of Russia to sit down and try to A, talk about really important issues, Syria, the Middle East, Ukraine.


AMANPOUR: But the arms control, all the rest of it. What is worrying western leaders is will President Trump stick to the western line. Will he defend the western alliance line when he is in that room with President Putin? And I think that is an actual open question, given the fact that he's often talked you know considered to sort of aggrandize his foes and sort of insult his allies. So I think that's what we should look for today.

ROBERTSON: And then concession that appear to be afterwards off the cuff, the concession that appear to have little consultation with Kim Jong-Un about ending the joint military exercises with South Korea. Right now you have the Baltic nations just across the (Inaudible) Lithuania and Estonia. They have significant NATO contingents there, sort of a tripwire for any Russian aggression coming into NATO territory.

There is concern for (Inaudible) European Union NATO partners. Right now there may be some concessions about that. And President Trump was asked that question when he was at NATO. And he said maybe.

COLLINS: Right. He did. He said perhaps, which is saying that he's (Inaudible) did you see what John Bolton, his national security adviser said yesterday. He is asked about all three of these possible concessions withdrawing troops from the Baltic state. He said that is not on the table, recognizing Crimea as part of Russia.

He said that's not the policy of the United States. And withdrawing troops from Syria, he said that is not happening until ISIS is gone. But John Bolton (Inaudible) but it doesn't matter because of course, when President Trump is in that one-on-one for 90 minutes...


COLLINS: It is really anyone's guess what he will say to him. But the idea that the President is going to be sitting down with Vladimir Putin, the stakes for this were already high, but now that we have these 12 indictments the stakes are that much higher. And the fact that the idea that any President, any American President would sit down with the Russian President three days after that occurred and not take him to task for it, which we do not believe President Trump is going to be doing, is just stunning in it of itself.

TAPPER: And what you were saying it often seems as though the Trump administration and President Trump are reading from two completely different books when it comes to where the U.S. stands vis-a-vis Russia and where the U.S. stands vis-a-vis NATO. You hear from the U.S. ambassador to NATO, the secretary of state, others a very traditional line about the importance of the NATO alliance, about how Russia is a geopolitical foe of the United States. That's not what you hear from President Trump.


AMANPOUR: You know it was extraordinary to see during the NATO summit. There were reports coming out of Russia that Russian guests on Russian state television was saying I never thought in my lifetime I would see an American President doing what the Russians have tried to do since 1949, which is collapse NATO and the western alliance.

So I think that is what we are going to be looking out for, President Trump, the leader of the western world standing up for western values and the western alliance. Meantime of course and this whole meeting here has been given this terminology summit, which raises it perhaps beyond in fact what it's going to be. It is a meeting for a couple of hours and there is no fixed agenda.

Usually in summits, there are very clear fixed agendas. But how is it going to viewed in Russia. President Putin comes to this with global isolation really sort of now fraying away, because he's just come off -- Sam Kiley is joining us from Moscow. A brilliant globally watched World Cup that really everybody says went phenomenally well, and so much to rehabilitate not just Putin but Russia itself, Sam.

[02:09:58] SAM KILEY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, Christiane. I mean I was among those who were concerned for example about the problems of racism among the Russian fans, of fascist symbolism being used and songs being used by Russian fans. Heavy handed approach from the police and so on during the World Cup, and it has really been a very positive carnival atmosphere right across Russia in a number of different stadiums many, many hours apart by plane and trains.

So from that perspective, Russia has really enjoyed an international renaissance if you would like a tourist destination. But simultaneously, Christiane, and you've hinted it at this already. From the Russian perspective in terms of the wider doctrine, in terms of strategy, chaos in the ranks of rivals or the enemy is considered victory by the Russians.

And then similarly, Donald Trump seems to take a similar approach. He does wrong foot his own administration. He does wrong foot his allies regularly. And sometimes he might indicated to places like North Korea that he is just potentially irrational (Inaudible) enough to make good on the threats of force to rid the region of nuclear power.

So in that context, they're very similar approaches in terms of creating chaos where the difference will lie at the summit is that Vladimir Putin and the Russian media are drawn attention to this is absolutely meticulous in terms of his preparation. He is a former high ranking KGB agent. He is a man with phenomenal memory.

He handles press conferences here annually that go on for many, many hours with statistics flying off the top of his head and accurate fallacious statistics. So I think Mr. Trump is going to have his work cut out when they meet on that one on one. AMANPOUR: And of course, thanks for that. He, President Putin is

going to want one thing about (Inaudible) and that is a relaxation of western sanctions and very heavy American sanctions.

TAPPER: Yeah. It's unclear whether or not President Trump is going to be willing to grant that or even honestly, if he's going to have to Congress to achieve that. Coming up, President Trump has just tweeted our relationship with Russia has never been worse. Thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity, and now the rigged witch hunt.

We will dive into that. Still ahead, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin's upcoming meeting still (Inaudible) concerns in Washington. We'll discuss with our political panel. Stay with us.


[02:15:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to Helsinki, Finland. We are live from the (Inaudible).

AMANPOUR: And just behind us of course is the Finnish Presidential palace, and that is where the meeting between President's Trump and Putin will take place hosted by the Finnish President. And don't forget. Helsinki has a proud and long tradition of being the place where real cold war tensions were sort of tried to be sort of worked out during that era, and is still today now coming back to its role.

TAPPER: Back in the United States, officials are concerned about this sit-down or summit or whatever it is between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Many officials, even officials in the Trump administration are concerned that President Trump might be too soft on his Russian counterpart, especially when it comes to pushing back on the fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election.

Mr. Trump's former opponent in that election Hillary Clinton took a shot at Mr. Trump using his favorite platform, Twitter and she tweeted quote great World Cup, question for President Trump as he meets Putin. Do you know which team you play for, and then of course, there is Democrat Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee with whom I spoke on Sunday. He believes Vladimir Putin already has a distinct advantage here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin is getting a lot just by taking this meeting. After all, part of the reason for this indictment is to stigmatize those involved in interfering in our election. Putin is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator and not just any co- conspirator, he is the ring master of this conspiracy and he is going to be sitting down at the table with Donald Trump.

And Trump is basically saying that indictment is just a witch hunt. That is a great gift for Vladimir Putin. So I think if Kim Jong-Un can eat the President's lunch, which I think he clearly did, it will be a very easy matter for Vladimir Putin.


AMANPOUR: So Republican lawmakers are slightly more subdued but they still believe the President should be wary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is always helpful when leaders of nations talk to one another. To me, it would be counter productive just to ignore that or to avoid that possibility. On the other hand, I think the President should be clear-eyed about who he is dealing with. Putin is an autocrat. He is a thug. He does not respect the rule of law.

Obviously, he doesn't respect our democracy and wants to undermine it every chance he gets. But on the other hand, there are commonalities here in terms of our desire to fight Islamic extremism throughout the world.


TAPPER: Joining us from London right now is CNN's Political Commentator and Republican Strategist Doug Haye and from Washington D.C. is CNN Political Analyst and Washington Post Columnist Josh Rogin. Christiane, the western leaders looking to this summit or meeting or whatever it is and they are worried. European leaders, U.S. allies they are worried.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know I was just thinking as we've been reporting all this. The fact that they are worried, let's just run over why they are worried and just over the last week. In the last week President Trump has been to NATO. There he you know beat up, there is no kind word to say. He beat up on the allies quite rightly demanding that they pay up their two percent for the military alliance.

But really though sort of over the top, particularly singling out Angela Merkel, and saying that she's controlled by Russia. That was a really unusual, unprecedented, undiplomatic, and actual untrue thing to say about Angela Merkel. Then, he comes over to Britain and before he gets to his meeting with the Prime Minister, again, remember another ally, the special relationship essentially pours.

[02:20:04] I don't know cold water gives a shock to Prime Minister Theresa May by saying that she is wrecking Brexit, that her deal will mean there'll be no U.S. trade deal, praising her rival Boris Johnson in front of her, saying that he would make a great Prime Minister. Then he tells CBS that the E.U. is a foe. So all of this together makes the allies very concerned and worried that when Mr. Trump meets with President Putin, who has tried since he came into office to destroy western alliance, disrupt it, and weaken it. They are worried that he holds the western line and doesn't give away too much to Mr. Putin.

TAPPER: Doug Haye, let me ask you what do you think the reaction would be among Republican officials in Washington D.C., senators, how members of the house if a Democratic President were doing what President Trump is doing in terms of at the very least unsettling the NATO alliance. I mean he said that NATO was as bad as NAFTA and embracing, I think it's fair to say or at least not being particularly harsh. How would Republican officials, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan etcetera react?

DOUG HAYE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yeah. I think if you go back to when Barack Obama said that he would be willing to meet with Kim Jong-Un with no preconditions, we know that all hell would break loose if a Democrat did these very same things. And that also includes being very insulting personally to the Queen and the way that he treated her.

That also means referring to the press yet again as the enemy of the people. And as we see with President Trump this I am OK, you're OK diplomacy with despots and then insulting allies' means -- and I can tell you, Jake and Christiane I have been in London right now, Sweden, Cairo, and France over the past three weeks. When President says this constant reframe that the world is laughing at us, whether it's been political leaders, business leaders, or taxi drivers that I've talked to, that statement is just not true.

TAPPER: And Josh Rogin, let me ask you because you did some interesting reporting a few weeks ago that I think is relevant to today. Tell our audience what exactly happened between the Swedish Prime Minister and President Trump when it came to discussions about the role of the United States and Sweden in NATO?

JOSH ROGIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, that is right, Jake. And this is just one of the many examples that sort of support the frame that I think Christiane was exactly right to set, which is that Russia's strategic goal is to separate the United States from its liberal international order infrastructure and from its allies.

And in that respect, President Trump has been doing Russia's work for it, not just this week but for months and perhaps for his entire Presidency. What he did with the Swedish Prime Minister is he heard that Sweden was a partner of NATO and not actually in NATO. And he speculated, perhaps joked oh, maybe the United States should try that, OK.

And it wasn't taken as a joke by the Swedish Prime Minister. He was concerned about that statement and the subsequent meeting that I reported he asked French President Macron would he leave the E.U. if the U.S. gave France a better deal on trade. And of course, that is not something that French President Macron would ever do.

But again, it shows that the President in private is saying pretty much the same thing he is saying in public. He doesn't believe that the international world order and the western transatlantic alliance are working in the benefit of the United States. He thinks it should be shaken up. In that respect, he agrees with President Putin.

And so when you think about all of this analysis about how is President Putin going to be out maneuver President Trump. Well, they basically agree with each other. So he doesn't really have to trick President Trump with anything. He just has to encourage President Trump to fulfill his already existent and prevalent desires to shift U.S. foreign policy away from longstanding alliances and towards closer relations with Russia.

AMANPOUR: You know, Doug, I just want to sort of push back on you a little bit. I think the President was really nice to the Queen. Of all people, he loved the Queen and said that you know she reminded him of his mom. So I think he really was -- maybe there was protocol sort of you know a little bit of stumble whatever. But nonetheless, I think that meeting probably went off really well.

I just want to know from you two. What do you think of the lasting effect of this presidency on the western alliance? Clearly the big picture is does President Trump come away from this week of meetings with NATO, Britain, and now here in Helsinki strengthening American leadership and strengthening America's commitment to the 70 year alliance that is powered this world since the end of World War II, or as others have suggested former U.S. NATO officials, does he sort of signed the death warrant for American leadership around the world?

ROGIN: You know, Christiane, I think that is a key question. And I think there are two schools of thought, one that I hear a lot especially from Trump supporters is that you know what, not much has actually changed in American foreign policy. If you look at our policy towards Russia, if you look at the documents signed at the NATO summit, basically we have consistency and continuity.

[02:24:58] The other school of thought is that President Trump's statements, his public interactions, and what he is doing behind the scenes amounts to an erosion of American power, influence, especially soft power in all of these countries. I tend to lean towards the second explanation, because when I travel around Europe, I hear the same thing that Doug is hearing, which is that there is a lack of confidence in America's leadership, a lack of confidence in America's reliability.

And all of these countries that have depended on American leadership are now hedging, seeking alternative approaches, and that's going to have very long-term effects in my opinion.

TAPPER: Doug, I want to hear what you think the future of the Republican Party is when it comes to foreign policy. Obviously, this is now the Trump Republican Party. He has put his stamp on it in terms of breaking with orthodoxy in terms of free versus fair trade and other policy issues. Is the Republican Party now a party that questions NATO, questions international organizations and seeks alliances, friendships with Vladimir Putin?

HAYE: I think that is a part of the party, Jake. But there also the part in Washington D.C. that I hear so often from members of the House Republican Conference, which is what they say publicly, is not what they say privately. Privately, they have very grave concerns about the direction that this President is going in whether you are talking about the north Atlantic treaty organization or the Trans pacific partnership.

But what they say publicly is very different because they're reacting to their voters who overwhelmingly approve of Donald Trump. And as long as Donald Trump is at 89 percent or 91 percent approval with Republican primary voters, and I can this Jake, as you know, working for Eric Cantor who lost a very surprising primary a few years ago. That weighs in those Republican members' minds very much. It's why they're not critical of him publicly though they sure are privately.

TAPPER: That is really a key thing for the world to understand Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which is President Trump, is not popular with the American electorate. He's under 50 percent when it comes to approval rating. But he is incredibly popular with the Republican Party.

AMANPOUR: And interesting. I think a lot of the world leaders who he interacts with have taken into account the sort of Trump factor. Yes, they're quite shocked and so discombobulated every time a tweet comes out that seems to I don't know pile on to his allies and then (Inaudible) foes. But there is a certain amount Trump factor that's being taken on board, which is why I keep trying to figure out how overarching he's destabilizing is this or is it not?

TAPPER: He is a disrupter and that is what he was elected to do. We have an idea of what seems to be at stake here at this summit for President Trump and President Vladimir Putin. Of course, he has his own agenda at this meeting. We're going to analysis of what the Russian leader may hope to gain ahead. Stay with us.


[02:31:44] AMANPOUR: Hello and welcome back to CNN Special Coverage of President Trump and President Putin summit. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

TAPPER: And I'm Jake Tapper. We're live in Helsinki, Finland where the summit will be taking place right behind us in the presidential palace. We're just a few hours from this meeting or summit or whatever it is, not surprisingly President Trump is up and he's tweeting. Just moments ago he tweeted, "Our relationship with Russia has never been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now the rigged witch hunt." Just take a second here. He's blaming the bad U.S.-Russia relationship on the U.S. and the investigation into Russia's cyberattack on the United States not on Russia's cyberattack of the United States. It's pretty astounding. President --


AMANPOUR: Something well put to our guest.

TAPPER: Yes. President Trump arrived in Helsinki Sunday after a tumultuous trip to the U.K. and to the NATO Summit in Brussels. President Putin is not expected here for another three hours. As for the meeting itself, President Trump says he has low expectations and then he does not know what's going to happen. The two leaders obviously have a long list of issues they could talk about in a very short time to talk about these issues. Their meeting is expected to last about an hour followed by a working lunch.

AMANPOUR: Jake, let's put that overarching point to our guests Arkady Ostrovsky --


AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) we interviewed you a couple of -- a couple of weeks ago when you broke some really important news about Ukraine and the ability to sort of pushback on corruption. Of course Ukraine is going to be a very big topic presumably given Crimea, the Russian invasion. But first, I want to ask you what Jake just readout of President Trump's tweet. How appropriate is it? How accurate is it to blame the current terrible state of events some say it's even worse than during the Cold War on the U.S. side, on the western side?

ARKADY OSTROVSKY, JOURNALIST: Well, look, the west has made mistakes, you know, nobody is saying America hasn't made mistakes. All countries do in foreign policies. But this is, you know, the fact that the U.S. got cyberattacked, the fact that Crimea was an act, the fact that the war is still going on in Ukraine is not the fault of the United States. This is the policies which were adopted by Vladimir Putin. We're sitting in Helsinki in 1997, Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratic president met Bill Clinton here. It was a very different summit.

Yes, the mistakes were made at that time as well. But, you know, there a hope and expectation that Russia would go in the direction of the west to become a normal friendly country. Vladimir Putin set it on a path of (INAUDIBLE) restoration. He was the first well before Trump to formulate that idea let make Russia great again. His entire tenure as president has been carried under that slogan. What actually upset him most in the previous relationship with Barack Obama was Obama's statement that Russia was simply a regional power. That, you know, Putin was behaving like a bored kid at the back of the classroom.

[02:35:04] Trump is rewarding Putin's craving for that sort of sense of importance of geopolitical greatness. He doesn't mind if America is an enemy, is an adversary, as long as he is recognized as an equal and which is what Trump has said, you know, Russia is a competitor.

TAPPER: So if this summit is almost an official declaration of we recognize you as an equal which is what many Russia experts and it sounds like you're saying as well has already happened. The fact that the summit is all Putin really can hope for because there is a recognition even after the cyberattack on the United States, and other countries throughout Europe, and the annexation of Crimea, and the war and hostilities in the Ukraine including the downing of a Malaysian Air flight. He's still being embraced with open arms. What more does Putin want? What can he hope to get out of this?

OSTROVSKY: So he wants -- there are things he wants on this sort of symbolic television picture side which he can sell at home and there are things more real that he actually needs. So he obviously wants the pictures, the photo ops, you know, here I am, you know, isolation clearly didn't work. We're an equal. We're recognized and respected. He wants Trump effectively to walk in and Putin is a operative. You know, he is a professional KGB operative. He's been trained in how to play to people's vanities and weaknesses and there's a lot of it around. So he will want Trump to walk in to and effectively recognize Russia's sphere of influence. The biggest danger is that Trump will come out saying, look, Ukraine is the most corrupt country in the world. Why, you know, Russia is a big nuclear power. You're telling me, the CNN, fake news, The Economist, they're all telling me Russia is an adversary, I'm making America safer and we don't want to jeopardize that safety by sticking for corrupt Ukraine.

Effectively, that's what they will say. That will then assign Ukraine Russia's sphere of influence something that Putin has prayed for a long time. The second thing that Putin needs is the lifting of some form of lifting up sanctions. And we're already seeing, you know, this is a different Europe. OK. America might not lift sanctions because of the internal debate and fight between the Congress and the president. But the atmosphere is very, very different in Europe. We have Viktor Orban, the Hungarian president already saying sanctions are very harmful. We want them lifted. We have the Italians who normally who effectively, you know, quite pro-Putin and pro-Kremlin. So obviously, this, you know, some European countries will be reading and looking at Trump's statements very carefully. If President Trump doesn't stick for sanctions, the argument will be what are we doing sticking, you know, and harming ourselves?

And look, we don't know about collusions. But there is certainly an alliance and, you know, we used to talk and during the Cold War about useful idiots those who went along with their idea of socialism. We now have the President of the United States who actually doing exactly what Putin needs and wants him to do whether there was collusion or not is kind of beyond the point. There is an alliance. There is an interest in that both man and this was Putin's biggest point is that the post-Cold War order needs to be revised (INAUDIBLE) and we the U.S. president basically saying the same.

TAPPER: And you have a book we should just point out for those who want more of the wisdom of Arkady Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia.

OSTROVSKY: Yes. And it's called The Rise of Putin and the Age of Fake News, so --


TAPPER: All right.


TAPPER: Thank you so much. Coming up next, Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to meet with a leader of this country whether it's Russia or the Soviet Union. We're going to take a look back on how other American presidents tried to put on the charm with his predecessors and with Putin himself. Stay with us.


[02:42:50] TAPPER: Welcome back to Helsinki. We're looking right now at live pictures of the arrival of I believe this is President Trump and his entourage, individuals traveling with him including his Chief of Staff John Kelly as well as other officials at the Trump White House. They're arriving officially in Helsinki, Finland for this summit. Let's take a look as we watch these pictures and see who comes out of the limousines. Obviously, this is considered a rather high stakes event. President Trump will be meeting one-on-one with Vladimir Putin. We're told translators will be there, but no one else. A lot of people in Washington, D.C., Christiane, are very concerned about what might happen behind closed doors.

AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed they are. And we're going to see right now the president is arriving for breakfast with the Finnish president at the Finnish president's residence. And then there's I believe that's Melania Trump in the yellow who just got out of the car and they'll be meeting both president and his wife, and she has a new baby, the Finnish president's wife, so she's not expected to stay there for very long because she especially go look after her baby. She's very, very new.

TAPPER: And as President Trump on the left in the shadow there you can see him arriving at the residence of the Finnish president. Let's listen in to see if we can hear anything.

AMANPOUR: I think they may have passed the microphone moment now. Just a little heads up to all, I'm going to be interviewing the Finnish president in a couple of hours' time.

TAPPER: Oh, is that right?

AMANPOUR: Yes. And I will be able to report back to you what he said to President Trump, what he said to President Putin, so that will be interesting. And interestingly, because of these incredible, you know, difficulties, the tension that's going on between the west and Russia now, the Finnish president has taken on the mantle of Finnish president -- of (INAUDIBLE) and he has been encouraging this kind of dialogue between the U.S. and Russia.

[02:45:00] TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN Global Affairs Analyst Max Boot, and CNN U.S. Security Analyst Steve Hall who are both in New York to talk about this meeting. Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, I mean, look, we're all sort of trying to figure out the big, picture of this meeting. How do you think -- we don't even know whether there's going to be a joint press availability, whether it's going to be a joint statement from both presidents.

We know the U.S. wants it, we've just heard from the Russian president's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, that, that even that isn't clear yet. Much less an agenda for the actual talks. So, Max, how do you think this is going to play out today?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think this is extraordinarily dangerous, Christiane, because here you have a president who knows very little about world affairs, and has by all indications done very little homework going into this meeting against a Russian president who has spent nearly two decades on office, who has met with three previous American presidents, and who was a wildly and veteran KGB operative who certainly knows how to manipulate foreigners and knows how to bend them to his will. And you know, so, I have no idea of what's exactly going to happen but I would say that I have pretty much zero expectation that there will be a good outcome. Meaning that President Trump will forcefully confront Putin about his interference in our election about his murder, and attempted murder of individuals of the United Kingdom, about his war crimes in Ukraine and Syria, and so on.

I have very little hope that, that will actually happen. And my only question really going into this is how bad is it going to be? How much praise is Donald Trump points a ladle on Vladimir Putin? How many concessions is he going to make? And I guess we're going to find that out in a few hours' time.

TAPPER: We just saw Secretary of State Pompeo and national security adviser -- Ambassador John Bolton, walking into the residence for the Finnish president.

Steve Hall, let me ask you, what is your concern about what might happen at this meeting? What's the worst thing that can happen?

STEVEN HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the best has already sort of happened for Putin. Because of course, he gets the meeting to start with which is a big win for him. Of course, geopolitically, the West for the last couple of years ever since -- you know, Russia has been behaving very badly on the international scene.

Has been -- you know -- has been very marginalized, has been isolated. And the idea that the American president comes in and says, "OK, yes, I'm going to have this meeting with him is exactly what he needs, exactly what he wants to follow down this line of -- you know become Russia of becoming a great, great power again.

I think we stand absolutely nothing to win, the United States does. Really, the leader -- what used to be referred to as leader of -- you know, the Western world, the American president, really holds all the cards. We don't cards -- we don't need Russia for very much.

There's been a lot made of -- you know, Vladimir Putin being -- you know, this master manipulator because of his time with the KGB, of course, he was also the director of the FSB, the internal service.

I actually think he's going to treat Trump more like a life form that he's much more familiar with, an oligarch. Because -- you know, he sees Trump as a rich guy, and in oligarchies in Russia, you know, you're allowed as a rich person made rich by Russia to do whatever it is that you want.

And I think that Putin and Russia have helped enrich Donald Trump over the years. And I think that's really the compromise -- that's really the compromising information that might behold over Donald Trump during these meetings. So, that's my concern, that's the worst case scenario that I would have for this.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask both of you to sort of weigh in on the bigger pictures. I understand what you're saying about the psychology between the experienced of President Putin and how they may treat each other.

But on the big issues, you say we don't need Russia much. But clearly, Russia backed by, and with Iran have, have created the longevity of Assad and backed one of the worst dictators the most brutal murder -- murderer -- you know that we're dealing with on an international stage right now.

The annexation of Crimea, and the destabilization of the Western allies. I mean, you know, just a week or so ago, the Russians did mock exercises, 70 kilometers from Helsinki, in the gulf right here not far away from where we're sitting just to say and just to show that they can.

Do you -- do you not think there are really crucial issues? First, Max and then, Steve that the president could push Putin on and actually needs to.

[02:49:36] BOOT: Well, there's no question that there are a crucial issues, Christiane, and you're right to point out all of the ways in which Russia is a troublemaker on the world scene, in which they are a destabilizing influence from Ukraine to Syria and in other hotspots including a force in our own -- in our own political system with the Director of National Intelligence saying just a few days ago that all systems are blinking red in terms of Russian and other foreign interference in our political process. These are all vital issues on which the president of the United States needs to lay down the law to Vladimir Putin and tell him, "Listen, buddy, if you continue going this way, they're going to be serious repercussions, even more, serious than what you've already faced."

But you know, does anybody imagine that Donald Trump is going to do that? He really comes into this meeting bizarrely enough is kind of a supplicant to Putin. Even though, as Steve Hall pointed out we are vastly more powerful, and you know, we don't really need Russia for a whole heck of a lot.

What we need to do is we need to make clear to Russia that they will be punished for their misbehavior. But the way to do that is to hold a tough line, for example, to maintain our 2,000 reserve troops in Syria which Donald Trump wants to pull out.

The way to do that is to maintain a united front in Europe with our allies to stand up against Russian aggression. But Donald Trump just spent the last several days taking a wrecking ball to American alliance, as an American relationships in Europe.

And so, you know, that's -- you know, my concern with this -- with the summit is -- you know no question that there is a reason to talk to Russia, Russia isn't important player even though they're not as important as they used to be but they need to be recognized for what they are which is an outlaw state, a rogue regime.

Putin needs to be recognized for what he is, a global criminal. Somebody who should be treated with contempt, not with the respect that Donald Trump routinely accords to him. HALL: And Christiane, if I could, you're right in the sense that there are things that need to be discussed with Russia. But here is what Russia does, and they're expert at it. They put themselves in a situation, they insert themselves in a situation like Syria where there is really no fundamental Russian interest beyond being the person, the Kingpin, the entity that can solve the problem which then requires the United States and other Western nations to say, "OK, we got to deal with Russia because they already put themselves in that situation." They're very good at that, but you don't need a summit to talk about that.

Nuclear arms treaties is another good example. Those are very important issues that we definitely need to be talking to the Russians about it, but you don't need a summit. As a matter of fact, what you need is really, really well-read experts who have been doing these things for years, and years, and years.

Whether it's Middle East policy or whether its nuclear arms issues. And those folks need together with their Russian counterparts. You don't need this big pageantry, you don't need a piece of reality television which is what Donald Trump wants to have this. And in doing so, you give Russia and Putin an advantage.

TAPPER: All right, Steve Hall and Max Boot, thank you so much. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, more of our coverage live from Helsinki. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN. And you're looking at pictures right now from President Trump's working breakfast with the president of Finland. You can see at the table the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor and others. Let's listen in.

SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: -- meetings and negotiations with President Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much. And we very much appreciate Finland. We very highly respect your country, our relationship has been a very good one and our personal relationship has been very good, and I enjoy being with you a couple of days ago.

The NATO has, I think, never been stronger. And that was really -- it was a little bit tough at the beginning, and it turned out to be love. It really was a great meeting that we had, and brought everybody together. And I think, very worthwhile. But I appreciated your support and your help. And I will say again, you treated us beautifully. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you.

[02:55:07] NIINISTO: And thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what's your message to President Putin today? TRUMP: I'm going to be seeing him in a little while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what are you going to say to him?

TRUMP: We'll do just fine. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, I'm from Finnish press. What was the last choice to collect Finland as a meeting?

TRUMP: Well, we think Finland is a great country. We had a fantastic meeting a few days ago. Some of you were there, it was a very successful meeting. I think NATO has never been more together. People are now agreeing to pay, and we were having a lot of problem with a lot of people not paying, as the President will tell you. And they're paying, and they're paying more rapidly. And I think NATO has probably never been stronger than it is today.

So we had a fantastic meeting, and now we're capping it with being in Finland. And the hospitality has been fantastic. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody.

TAPPER: That was Trump meeting breakfast, a working breakfast with the president of Finland. And Christiane I have to note, President Trump repeatedly suggesting that he had just been with the Finnish president at the NATO, a meeting in Brussels.

AMANPOUR: Finland is not in NATO but it has a sort of a partnership for peace. So, it's sort of on the sort of outskirts, there's not formally in NATO.

TAPPER: It's not a member of NATO.

AMANPOUR: No, no, it's not. But I mean, here is the thing. Importantly, President Trump kept saying NATO is strong, NATO is strong. That's important before he goes into meet Vladimir Putin. But he did also say that everybody's you know, paying up more quickly and they're not, they're just sticking to their 2014 commitments.

TAPPER: Thanks for joining us for CNN special coverage of the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. I'm Jake Tapper.

AMANPOUR: And I'm Christiane Amanpour. See you on the other side of a break.