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Trump to Meet Putin in Finland; World is Watching the Outcome of the Summit; Trump to Bring up Election Meddling by Russia. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 03:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Greetings and welcome to CNN's special coverage of the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I'm Jake Tapper.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: And I'm Christiane Amanpour.

We're hours away from a face to face meeting between the two presidents. And that will happen right behind us in the Finnish presidential palace. Right now of course, they're in the Finnish presidential residence.

TAPPER: That's right. Where President Trump is having a working breakfast with Finland's president. That's going on right now. This is just moments ago. The shots you're looking at right now, this is expected to last about an hour before Trump heads to his meeting with President Putin.

Earlier Mr. Trump was on Twitter referring to the Russia investigation. He said the, quote, "relationship with Russia has never been worse, thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity. And now the rigged witch hunt," a remarkable statement from an American president blaming the United States of the America for the poor state of U.S.-Russian relations and also blaming the investigation into the Russian cyber attack on the United States and not blaming the cyber attack itself.

President Trump says he'll ask Mr. Putin about Russian interference in the 2016 election. But as you can see from his tweet he's more focused on the investigation than he is on the actual cyber attack. This is one of a long list of issues the two men could discuss. Although sources say on the Russian side and the American side that there is no set agenda.

President Trump earlier predicted what might result from the meeting.


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


TAPPER: Joining us right now or CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

AMANPOUR: So, I can tell what you I'm going to be asking for. What do you think he's going to be asking for? And then what do you think since you're traveling with his people.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he has said that he wants to hear, and it was interesting in the way President Trump framed this, hear from president Putin on Syria because that framed it as President Putin putting across his views and President Trump not putting across his views.

Ukraine, the issue of the Minsk Agreement. These issues I suppose are very fundamental to both countries. They can both bring their influence to bear the a critical time particularly Syria where the conflict is winding down.

Bt it seems that from what we've heard from President Trump so far it's going to be perhaps about the weapons treaties, the IMF treaty which both sides criticized each other for abrogating and the START agreement, Strategic Arms limitation agreement which is due to expire in a few days.

AMANPOUR: And I'm not mistaken it was President Bush pulled out of the IMF and actually the Russians have a legitimate gripe about that. But what do his President Trump's people say, his officials say about that?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So Syria and arms control will definitely be two things at the top of their agenda. But a lot of the overarching what the theme is going to being is President Trump trying to have a better relationship with Vladimir Putin than President Barack Obama did.

A lot of things Trump that President Trump has done has done since being in the White a year and a half is trying to one up Obama and really do things, that either undo things he did or do things that he believed he couldn't do. Having a good relationship with Vladimir Putin is one of those things.

Of course Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin had a very frosty relationship. And the president wants to do that. That's why we see him talk so much about normalizing relations with Russia and how the relations are all at low, saying that has more to do with U.S. decisions a.k.a. what Barack Obama did and past presidents not that they assaulted an American election, you know, shot down a passenger plane, invaded Crimea, among many other things that they did.

So a lot of that is President Trump trying to do something that he feel no other president has done before. And we saw that also in Singapore during the North Korea summit with Kim Jong-un. He really wants to do things that he feels other presidents couldn't do. That's a lot more than just a policy goal that they're going to try to accomplish here.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, obviously no U.S. president and no country is infallible. And I would certainly never argue that the United States is blameless in the U.S./Russia relationship.

[03:05:03] But when you talk to White House officials and about the rhetoric from President Trump where he blames the United States for the poor relationship between the United States and Russia, when he blames the investigation into the cyber attack by Russia on the United States and not the actual cyber attack, do they even understand where you're coming from when you say how can a U.S. president be towing the Russian line?

COLLINS: So it's not just President Trump that feels this way about this relationship with Russia, blaming it on the rigged witch hunt which is an investigation into not collusion just with Trump officials and Russian officials but them attacking the election.

They can't hold them in different hands. They think anything that has to do with the Russia investigation is something implying that they are guilty of doing something. They can't take that this is an investigation into Russian meddling in the election with this aspect of did any Trump officials coordinate with the Russians to help try to win that election. They can't separate the two.

And that's not -- it comes from the top down because of the president saying no collusion, no collusion. And you saw that in the White House statement that they put out after the Department of Justice announced those indictments against the Russian officials.

It said nothing critical of Russia or the intelligence officer who interfered in the election. Instead, it said this is what we're saying all along, it has nothing to do with any Americans, they didn't do anything with Russia, none of them are guilty here. But it said nothing about what the indictments were actually about which is that they attacked the election.

So it's not just the president. The White House has a whole has in trouble separating the investigation into collusion from Russian meddling in the election.

TAPPER: Remarkable. For how the summit is being viewed in Russia, Sam Kiley joins us live from Moscow. Sam, tell us, President Trump said earlier that he's going into this meeting with low expectations. Any indication what Putin's expectations are?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is expectation that this could be a personal relationship that could lead to an unthawing of what is being called in the media the second Cold War.

And that, Jake, is a consequence of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and Russia's role elsewhere around the world that has been perceive by western allies of the United States and the United States is highly destabilizing and therefore subjected to some very tight sanctions particularly tight sanctions coming less from the United States which matters relatively little to the Russian economy but to Europe where the sanctions are very, very tight.

And where there are already signs particularly coming from Italy and some of the former Soviet bloc countries that are now part of the European Union that they would like to ease off on sanctions.

And of course there have been a lot of criticism by Donald Trump of the European Union as a block on its own right. He supported, for example, of Brexit. In that he's in lockstep with Vladimir Putin. So they may well find, I think that ultimately, the Russian agenda here is playing a much longer game but trying to warm this relationship at a personal level, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much. Back in the United States, the summit, of course, could have major political implications for President Trump.

AMANPOUR: Indeed it could. And to discuss that now, how it's going to be viewed in the United States we are joined by John Prideaux, he is the U.S. editor for The Economist. Thanks for being with us. With us from London--


AMANPOUR: -- when President Trump was in London. And just sort of a continuation, you know, we've talked a lot over the last couple of hours now anticipating this meeting about what President Trump is tweeting that mostly blaming the bad relations on the United States. Take us back a little bit. You've been covering U.S.-Russian presidents and relations for the last several years. Let's go back to George W. Bush.

PRIDEAUX: So there's an element of this meeting which is quite conventional in one sense. In the American presidents, you know, since George W. Bush with the first really to have to deal with Vladimir Putin have long wanted to have a warmer relationship with Russia. They've tried. You know, George Bush, George W. Bush looked into his soul. We had the reset from the Obama White House.

The reason for that is quite sound I think. Vladimir Putin's hold on power in Russia depends to some extent on a story he can tell about the relationship with the west. The idea that the west is out to get Russia, you know, that only Vladimir Putin is strong enough to stand up to the west.

So, warmer relations with America, to some extent are a threat to Vladimir Putin's hold on power. That said, the way that Russia behaves towards America, towards other allies makes it very, very hard to have those warm relationships.

We've been talking about some of these things. The annexation of Ukraine, you know, the U.S. election meddling and so on. So it's really the timing and the context of this meeting that makes it so extraordinary rather than the fact that an American president is trying to have warmer relationships with Vladimir Putin.

[03:10:03] TAPPER: And one obviously for years now, one of Putin's goals has been whatever he can do to create to foment discord in the European Union, to foment and undermine the NATO alliance. Talk if you would about the concerns that U.S. allies have about what might happen here.

President Trump keeps reaffirming this morning how strong NATO is which assuredly might come as some reassurance I would think to some European leaders. But there are concerns about what the United States is actually up to.

PRIDEAUX: That's right, Jake. I mean, just on NATO quickly. The allies were obviously freaked out by the beginning of that meeting where Trump was in the room and said that Germany was controlled by Russia and so forth. He then patched it up a little bit I think and, you know, left declaring victory saying that NATO countries are all now going to spend more money on their defense.

But you know, on trade, European allies are really freaked out by what the president seems to be doing. They think that he's trying to break apart this large trading bloc. That would be great news for Vladimir Putin.

And I think there's a real concern about, you know, what happens in the room today particularly for Europeans at least on the issue of Ukraine, I mean, and Crimea. And let's not forget that the annexation of Crimea was the first act of sort of hostile territory taking in Europe since 1945.

You know, people in Europe take that pretty seriously. Now a lot of countries, you know, we're sitting here in Finland which has a thousand mile border with Russia, which, you now, a country that's invaded a couple of times.

So people I think are pretty nervous about the kind of reinsurance President Trump might give Vladimir Putin about how he sees the Crimea issue, you know, that's before we get on to all the other big ones, you know, nuclear weapons, proliferation, election hacking which is obviously is an enormous story domestically in America now.

But also, Russians have intervened in lots of European elections, as well. So there a lot of worries and I think not a huge number of upsides that the allies were seeing.

AMANPOUR: I wonder both of you what you think of the very similar psychological profiles that Putin and Trump have. Both of them in control of strong countries. I mean, obviously America is stronger than Russia on every level. But both believing that the world is making a mockery of them. Both believing that we are no longer great. We need to be great again.

And whether that psychology creates something constructive or something you know worse. And I just can't help remembering that look, after the fall of the Soviet Union, there were pretty good relations under Yeltsin with the United States. Really good relations actually. It was only when Vladimir Putin came in that the whole thing started to head down.

TAPPER: Well let's not forget Vladimir Putin considers the biggest calamity of the 20th century to be the fall of the Soviet empire. I think that you're on to something there. Both Trump and Putin have a sense of grievance. Both Trump and Putin have risen to power on waves of nationalism. And I also think that there's something in President Trump very clearly that admires strong men.

You see him praising people like the leader of the Philippines, Duterte, and the leaders of Turkey and Egypt. He praised the Chinese for how they put down the massacre, how they massacred at Tiananmen Square. He admires that.

PRIDEAUX: And that's just an extraordinary departure for an American president, right? Breaking every single norm we've become familiar with since, you know, really since forever. I mean, I agree with you about the sort of similarities to some degree. I mean, you could say that Vladimir Putin's slogan for Russia has long been make Russia great again.

As Jake says, he has this real sense of kind of grievance, the idea of it the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century which an event which most of the rest of us see as a liberation and so forth. And you know, he thinks that the west just going to kicked Russia while it's down and he's now asserting his country on the world stage. I need to mention, this is playing pretty well back home for him.

AMANPOUR: This works Trump says to his voters, to his base.

TAPPER: Pretty similar. Obviously President Trump is constrained by the institutions we have in the United States that the Russia does not have and often he expresses concern and dismay that he is restrained by those institutions. President Trump has a reputation for mixing up America's diplomatic friends and foes.

AMANPOUR: So his latest target is one of the United States biggest allies. How that could impact his talks with Putin, that's coming up after a break.


TAPPER: Welcome back to Helsinki, Finland. We are live from the Allas Sea Pool.

AMANPOUR: Indeed we are. The Finnish presidential palace is just behind us. And that is where the meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin will take place. And of course the Finnish president is hosting that.

TAPPER: Just a few moments ago we saw President Trump along with first lady Melania Trump being toured around the Finnish president's residence by the Finnish president and his spouse. AMANPOUR: Yes, we did. And President Trump's critics and even members

of his own party are, you know, asking and his own administration trying to find out exactly what, who, and where he will consider a friend or foe.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump did turned on one of the United States biggest allies in an interview with CBS. Take a listen.


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


TAPPER: So asked for a list of foes, President Trump mentioned the European Union first and European Council Donald Tusk get something to say about that. He tweeted "America and the E.U. are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."

AMANPOUR: You know, this fake news business is really taking on a whole life of its own. And to that point, the Helsinki newspaper has taken out massive ads saying welcome to the home of real news, Mr. President. Might as well say that to President Putin, as well.

[03:20:07] Now, during that interview with CBS on Sunday, President Trump also said that Russia was a foe in certain aspects.

Joining me now to discuss Russia's diplomatic agenda is Sir Andrew Wood. Now he is the former U.K. ambassador to Russia and he's joining us live from London.

So, sir, can you tell us from your perspective, given the NATO summit that just happened, the infamous or should I say famous Trump visit to the United Kingdom and his conversation with the prime minister, what do you now expect from this meeting? What is the best and worst that could happen here?

ANDREW WOOD, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I think it does show you can't be fully prepared for whatever is said next. The other thing to think about is what is the reality behind it.

You were discussing earlier the question of whether there were similarities or why it was that President Trump tended to admire strong men. I think he's making a big mistake in the case of Putin being a strong man. Strong men always are followed by disaster in one way or another because they can't -- there's no way of them succeeding being managed properly because they get stuck in a rut. And he's stuck in a rut right now.

This story about Russia being persecuted by the United States in particular by the western in general, that we are bent on its destruction and so on does fortify his position at home but it's intellectually completely untrue. So he's in a bit of a bind there. I don't think he's going to change at all.


AMANPOUR: So let me just -- right. Well, let me just ask you then, just give as a sense of in fact where exactly Russia stands with respect to Europe and even the United States when it comes to its military spending. Its military might. Its economy. And how what other people have said I wonder if you agree that President Putin in fact plays a weak hand very well.

WOOD: Well, the very well question depends on what you think is desirable, what is really in Russia's national interests. I think the proper concern of a president is the welfare of his people and the improvement of health, infrastructure, education and so on, all of which is underplayed.

I don't think myself that spending a lot of money on military supplies and building up your armed forces is sensible unless you sincerely believe that you have an enemy to face. The west is not a military enemy to Russia. Russia can now bring its forces to bear on particular areas near to it with great effect. But I don't think that that advances the real interests of the Russian people.

AMANPOUR: Perhaps not domestically but internationally, Putin thinks that he is gathering that whole sphere of influence that he and the Soviet Union used to have. I hope you can hear me OK. I see that you're having some trouble with your earpiece.


WOOD: I'm just too vigorous.

AMANPOUR: But just in terms of internationally -- yes. He's trying to get the west, President Trump, to buy into his notion of Russian sphere of influence. And it's not just made up. Look what he's done in Syria. We know that he's got plans to interfere in Macedonia. He's also got big bases in the Balkans. And there's a lot of Putin action, Russian action around that part of Europe and that part of the Middle East.

WOOD: That is true. And that is dangerous. Ultimately, my only point is I don't see how it can possibly be in the interests of the Russian people.

It gives President Putin the sensation of being in charge of a major power. But it's not -- none of those are solid achievements. The involvement in Syria is very complex. And will get more and more difficult. His involvement in Ukraine has created a sense of Ukrainian hatred is too strong a word but dislike of Russia which is new and quite unnecessary.

So I think it's a mistake for us to think of him as a great man who is throwing his weight around to great effect.

AMANPOUR: And just briefly before I said good-bye, do you think Putin will come out of this as a winner?

WOOD: The meeting with Trump?


WOOD: If you meant the meeting with Trump, yes, he will because the fact of the meeting itself shows a respect, if you like, for the Russian president which he has missed before.

And secondly, if the president tweets the way he does saying everybody's made mistakes but I'm going to set it all right, that implies something will happen. What I don't know.

[03:25:06] AMANPOUR: Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us from London. Jake?

TAPPER: President Trump plans to bring up Russia's election interference in the 2016. We are told. But will actions back up those words. We'll take a look at how the indictments of Russian spies may affect the talks. Stay with us.


AMANPOUR: Hello, and welcome back to CNN's special coverage of President Trump and President Putin's summit meeting.

I'm Christiane Amanpour here in Helsinki.

TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper. We're live here in Finland where the summit will take place in the presidential palace.

Just behind us, President Trump has been in a working breakfast with his Finnish counterpart. During the meeting, we saw him thank the Finnish president for hosting this summit with Vladimir Putin. President Trump was rather coy what he thought the outcome of that summit will be.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what's your (Inaudible) with President Putin today?

TRUMP: I'm going to see him in a little while.


TRUMP: We'll do just fine.


AMANPOUR: So earlier, however, Mr. Trump said that he would bring up the accusations of election meddling.

[03:30:00] He wrote in a tweet just a little while ago, the relationship with Russia has never been worse and he blames that on what he calls U.S. foolishness and stupidity, and now, the rigged witch hunt.

Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy-



[03:30:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He wrote in a tweet just a little while ago, the relationship with Russia has never been worse, and he blames that on what he calls U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the rigged witch hunt. Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy tells CBS the issue is too important for the president to just take Putin at his word.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an attack on all of us. Our elections are just that, Margaret (ph). They're our elections. Republicans and Democrats are free to fight among and with themselves but that fight ends at the border.

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

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Republican Senator Rand Paul had a different take. He explained to me why he views this differently on Sunday's state of the union.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it would be a moot point. I don't think Russia is sending anyone back over here for trial the same way we wouldn't send anybody over there for trial. No country with any sovereignty or sense of sovereignty is sending anybody to another country for trial.

I think we have to protect ourselves. So because we waste time saying, well, Putin needs to admit this and apologize, he's not going to admit that he did it and we can't take on face value anything they tell us. We have to assume and if we have proof that they did it which it sounds like we did, we should now spend our time protecting ourselves instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the president.


TAPPER: Let's talk all about this with CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot and CNN U.S. security analyst Steve Hall who will join us again now from New York.

Steve, let me start with you. When you see a tweet from President Trump blaming the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations on the U.S. and foolishness by the U.S. and taking issue with the -- what he calls witch hunt which is to say the investigation into the Russian cyber attack, instead of taking issue with the attack itself, what's your response? How do you read that tweet?

STEVE HALL, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Jake, it's amazing. It just gets more and more ridiculous as we move forward. Trey Gowdy actually got it right. I would disagree with him on one small point though which is you can't go in and make demands of Vladimir Putin. He's not going to admit to anything. He's not going to do anything.

And I think what that argues for in terms of U.S. policy is look, we know because our intelligence agencies, the entire -- you know, the -- if you pull all of the intelligence community's assessment together and say what is the likelihood that these 12 GRU officers came and attacked the United States and if you just look at the panoply of things that Russia has done against the United States the past couple years, the appropriate response is, don't have the meeting with Putin.

What are you going get out of it? You're going to simply say that is a very, very bad thing you did and Putin is going to say, what are you talking about? We did nothing. So, you know, the idea -- Rand Paul is right at least on one thing although he's missed the forest for the trees. The Russians are not going to return or give us Russians because, you know, any number of different reasons. They're simply not going to do it.

So given you've got a lose, lose, lose situation, you're not going to get anything out of Putin, you're not going to get anything out of Russia, then why meet with him and give him a victory, give him the ability to stand next to the president of the United States and say, look, we're a great power, we did it, we're at the same table. It's just -- it's incomprehensible, frankly.

AMANPOUR: Max Boot, obviously the Finnish president believes that there has to be something constructive that comes out of such a destructive relationship. In other words, get them talking, see whether something can change in this very, very downward spiral of the dynamic.

I want to ask you specifically about Syria because we understand that that's going to come up and you've seen all the reporting around it before this trip that somehow there's some kind of quid pro quo to be add in which the Israeli prime minister tries to convince President Putin to tell President Trump to let Bashar Assad stay, but in response for Putin trying to get Iran out of Syria. What is your analysis of that? And how real do you think that is even likely or possible?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think this is a dangerous delusion, Christiane, but I think you're right o highlight it because this seems to be the most likely, quote, unquote, deal to come out of the summit. Of course, we all know Donald Trump wants to walk out of any meeting saying that he's achieve the greatest deal ever which has never been the case.

[03:35:02] But yes, this is certainly an area where Putin appears ripe for some kind of bargaining, pushed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, who keeps visiting Moscow and was just there just a few days ago. The notion being that Putin will somehow convince the Iranians to pull back from the Israeli border, maybe about 50 miles away from the border which is what the Israelis are asking for.

And in return for that, the U.S. will do something like, for example, pulling out our 2,200 or so military personnel who are currently in Syria or in a more fanciful version which is popular in Israel, perhaps recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea which I think would be a catastrophe for the world.

But even the lesser dealing, even if we don't recognize the annexation of Crimea, this is not a good deal because A, Putin cannot force Iran to do anything. Yes, they are allies but Iran has a very strong presence within Syria and they're not going to leave Syria no matter what Putin says.

And B, why would anybody take Vladimir Putin's word for anything that he promises? He is an inveterate liar. He lies constantly and nonstop. And so there is no reason to believe that he would be serious. And in fact, we know he's not serious because a year ago, Putin and Trump reached a deal on deconfliction zones in Syria which the Syrian regime is now violating.

One of the things that we've seen recently is that Iranian troops have been re-flagged and re-uniformed as Syrian government forces. The militias that Iran supports are now wearing Syrian army uniforms. So it would be almost impossible to tell whether they are in fact complying with this deal if it is made.

So this would be a very, very bad idea. But my concern is that in fact, Putin will think -- that Trump will think this is a great idea because it will give him an excuse to pull U.S. forces out of Syria which will be a real betrayal of our Kurdish allies who currently control about a third of the country and having our 2,000 troops with those Kurds gives us real leverage over the future of Syria.

We control the Syrian oil fields, for example. I think it would be a big mistake to give that up based on promises from Putin that he has no intention of keeping.

TAPPER: Let's just do a quick round if I could and just ask each one of you, if you were advising President Trump and assuming that the summit is happening, the meeting is happening in just a few hours, what would you want him to convey to President Putin specifically about election interference and future cyber attacks? What would you specifically have him say? Steve, let's start with you and then Max.

HALL: You're right, Jake. The horse is already out of the barn. We can't stop the summit from happening although that would have been my first advice to the president had I had the opportunity, don't have the summit. But given the fact that's water under the bridge, he is going to have the summit. He wants his moment. You've got to lead with that. You've got to go in and say, look, this is absolutely unacceptable, what you did. I don't want to hear how you didn't do it. We have all sorts of information and intelligence that you did so. So this must stop and if it does not stop, then you need -- then he will need to remind Vladimir Putin of the old cold war phrase mutually assured destruction.

I'm not talking about necessarily nuclear attacks but I'm talking about the cyber equivalent of that. He needs to make it clear to Vladimir Putin that if anything like that ever happens again, that the retribution in a cyber fashion from the United States and its allies is going to be so horrific for Russia, that he will not want to do it.

And there ought to be a whole bunch of other things that he tacks on to that, continued sanctions and continued isolation. And he should not take anything from Vladimir Putin. He should not let Vladimir Putin get into his (INAUDIBLE) about, you know, saying how it's not true.

He should make those points, drop the mike, and do what he said he would do with the North Korean leader if necessary which is simply leave the room if it didn't go the way it should. What are the chances of him actually doing any of that? I think close to zero.


BOOT: I would say that leave the room and bang the table and denounce Putin is a pretty good option from the U.S. standpoint to make clear

that we're not going to put up with this Russian behavior. I mean, fundamentally, I think, you know, Trump has made a big mistake going into this meeting by suggesting that he's concerned about a relationship with Putin instead of changing Putin's behavior.

That should really be the goal. And certainly changing his behavior with regard to interference in our elections has to be a top priority especially with Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, saying a few days ago that all systems are blinking red in terms of Russian interference.

You know, it's pretty interesting because the Mueller indictment which came out on Friday has extraordinarily detailed information on what the Russians are up to. I mean, what the Mueller indictment shows is that the U.S. intelligence community knows which individual GRU officers were at the keyboard when they were hacking into the Democratic National Committee.

[03:40:03] And so this is something that ought to worry Putin. This seems to me this is a surreptitious shot across Putin's bow to suggests, hey, we know a lot about what's going on within the Russian government, we know a lot about what's going on within the Russian Intelligence Community.

And this is something -- this gives credibility to what Trump could say -- he's not going to say but he could say, you know, we know a lot more than we're letting on, including, for example, he could threaten to reveal information about Vladimir Putin's own ill-gotten assets which are widely believed to be stashed in the west.

You know, he could threaten to impose greater financial sanctions especially on Putin and the oligarchs who have all this property in places like London and New York and bank accounts in Switzerland and Malta and elsewhere.

These are all ways that could you really hurt Putin where he lives and make it clear to him that this is what's going to happen if he continues monkeying around in our elections. But of course, we all have pretty much zero confidence that Trump is actually going to do that, right?

TAPPER: Max and Steve, thank you so much. Syria, Ukraine sanctions, all of which could be on the table at the summit. When we come back, analysis of what Vladimir Putin hopes to gain from his one-on-one with Donald Trump. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage from the summit in Helsinki, Finland.

[03:45:01] You are looking at photographs of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump just moments ago departing the residence of the Finnish president where they had a working breakfast. They are leaving. They are on their way out.

And obviously, next on the agenda, I believe, is the actual meeting. President Trump has said he's going to bring up Russian cyber attacks and interference in the U.S. presidential election when he meets Putin in just a few hours.

Let's talk about this with our guests with us now, Washington Post Moscow bureau chief, Anton Troianovski, and we also have The Economist Moscow correspondent, Arkady Ostrovsky. Thanks so much for joining us. Arkady, you have some information for us?

ARKADY OSTROVSKY, MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT, THE ECONOMIST: Information, gosh, apparently Putin is supposed to bring his new big car. This is big news because that new car completely dominated his inauguration. It was -- basically Russian media seized on this new beast which is apparently bigger than Trump's. Very important. Also Russian made.

AMANPOUR: There's so many directions you can go with that.

OSTROVSKY: I know. And basically, this is vehicle which is supposed to deliver Russia into sort of a bright modern future. And the entire coverage of Putin's presidential inauguration was dominated by this car because in the past, Russian presidents used Mercedes and western -- limousines. But this is a Russian-made car. It was almost like a Russian spaceship. It's something an object of great pride.

I also just wondering, you know, given they're going to have one-to- one meeting and there will nobody there, I almost wonder whether they should be -- given it's in Finland, they probably should be meeting in a sauna. (LAUGHTER)

AMANPOUR: Which is honestly (ph) ridiculous. Previous summits have had sauna breaks.

OSTROVSKY: This stands in my mind as entertainment.

TAPPER: For our viewers who don't know, Finland is known for its saunas. They're everywhere. Hotel rooms have saunas.

ANTON TROIANOVSKI, MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: The next one they do in Divania in (ph) outside Moscow.

OSTROVSKY: Even the press Sunday here (ph), actually they convert a ship container into a sauna.

AMANPOUR: Have they?

OSTROVSKY: Yes, absolutely.

TAPPER: Anton, I want to ask your reaction. President Trump sent a tweet just a few moments ago in which he blamed the bad relations of the -- the current state of bad relations of the U.S. and Russia, blamed it on the U.S. This is President Trump, I am saying.

Blamed it on the U.S. and blamed it on the investigation into the Russian cyber attack, not actually blaming it on the cyber attack, blaming it on the U.S. investigation. How is that any different from what Russians are saying?

TROIANOVSKI: Yeah, I mean, it really is in tweet form, what we see on Russian state television every night and what we hear from Putin and his supporters in Moscow that, you know, everything that's wrong in U.S.-Russia relations right now is the fault of the Washington establishment. And you see in the lead up to the summit how much the Russians are playing to Trump's aversion to President Obama in particular.

And when we hear now the talk of everything that's wrong in Ukraine and can we fix Crimea somehow, the Russians keep saying look, Mr. Trump, Ukraine was Obama's project. That is how one Putin ally put it to me in Moscow the other day. This is all Obama's fault and now Mr. Trump, you have a chance to fix it your own way.

TAPPER: They seem to know how to handle Mr. Trump. Thanks so much. Donald Trump making no secret of how he feels about the U.S. media. Of course, now the Finnish press is sending the president of the United States a message about how they feel. We have details on that ahead.


TAPPER: If President Trump passes by the music center in Helsinki on his way to the talks, so he will get a message from one of Helsinki's newspapers. The paper put up a sign on the building beside reading, Mr. President, welcome to the land of free press. Will either president, Putin or Trump, get that message? Christiane Amanpour, I think it is fair to say that Putin is far worst when it comes to respect for freedom of the press. But President Trump continually attacks journalists.

AMANPOUR: He does. This business even just his latest one calling the press the enemy of the people, obviously President Putin, you know, there are scores of journalists in jail. There are political assassinations of opponents and journalists.

I mean, it's a whole different level. But it is a very troubling thing obviously to see the leader of the free world with the First Amendment to the United States and a constitutionally guaranteed free and safe press to be under attack by their own leader.

So these are really, really big issues. Not just because of us and our hurt feelings, but it's about truth and lies and it's about democracy and dictatorship. No democracy can thrive and no public sphere can thrive without truth and a free press.

TAPPER: In fact, I think Thomas Jefferson said something along the lines, if you had to choose between having a government or having a free press, he would pick having a free press because that is where accountability comes from.

AMANPOUR: Exactly.

TAPPER: Presumably it was what Thomas Jefferson was thinking. But neither President Putin nor Trump respects that notion.

AMANPOUR: No, they don't. and I think now, what we're seeing is -- as President Trump says, is it a competition. I think President Putin sees it as a competition, too. Who is going to come out of this ahead? Already for President Putin, it's a victory, because he will be treated to a summit even though it is not really a summit. There's no agenda. There's no multi-talks. It's just hour or two of a meeting.

TAPPER: No preparation. No deliverables.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. We don't even know whether there will be a joint communique, which is summit east, whether there will be joint press availability and questions. We don't know anything about that. But Putin will win because he will be here on an equal stage with the president of the United States just as Kim Jong-un was as well.

And I think all the western allies especially as this comes from NATO and then Britain, where all sorts of presidential epithets were thrown at the alliance, will they be able to trust that the president of the United States will hold the western alliance position as he goes into these very important talks with the principal foe right now who is Vladimir Putin?

[03:55:03] TAPPER: Yeah. And of course, one of the questions, President Trump attacking the free press at his press conference in England, attacking CNN, attacking NBC, attacking The Sun newspaper, what example will President Trump show here when it comes to respect for journalism, when it comes to respect for the fourth estate? Will we see any demonstration to President Putin of this is what a strong leader looks like, he takes questions, he has held accountable, and that is the great strength of a liberal democracy as opposed to just attacking the press. And as you have noted, Putin obviously far, far worse putting journalists in jail, murdering them as well.

Thanks so much for joining us for CNN's special coverage of the U.S.- Russian summit in Helsinki. I'm Jake Tapper.

AMANPOUR: And I'm Christiane Amanpour. Our coverage continues.