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Soon: President Trump And Putin To Meet One-on-One. Aired 5- 5:30a ET
Aired July 16, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, July 16th, 5:00 in New York. That is where you see the handsome pair of Alisyn and John.
We are in Helsinki. I'm Chris Cuomo. Happy to be here for you in Finland where they'll be saying. Good morning. They would say history is going to be made here in just a little bit. President Trump will meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Just days after 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted by Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Something that the president continues to call a witch hunt. He will be heading into the meeting like-minded with Vladimir Putin on a very important issue.
We already have an idea of Trump's mindset here because in a series of new tweets, the president blames the United States, not Russia, for strained relations between both countries. Mr. Trump once again blames his predecessor, President Barack Obama for Russia's election hacking and blasts the Mueller investigation, who indicted those Russian spies.
So, how will President Trump wind up coming into this situation looking at Vladimir Putin and dealing with such egregious acts around the globe? That's the big question. Let's begin with our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins here with us at the Alice Pools in Helsinki.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, 90 minutes, that's how long President Trump and president Putin are going to be sitting together one-on-one here in just a few hours in Helsinki. There will be no aides.
No advisors and no record of what is said during the sit-down with the two leaders in the first formal sit-down since President Trump took office. But the president this morning giving us a glimpse into what his mindset is of this meeting truly is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you hope to do today?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'll see him in a little while. We'll do just fine.
COLLINS (voice-over): Just hours before his sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump blaming the U.S. for poor relations with Russia.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't expect anything. I frankly don't expect. I come in with very low expectations.
COLLINS: Trump insisting he will bring up election meddling when he sits down with Putin one-on-one. Despite failing to condemn Russia in the days since the Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic Party and attacking America's election. Instead Trump is blasting the Russia probe, blaming the Obama administration and Democratic National Committee yet again.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves be hacked.
COLLINS: The president admitting he hadn't considered extraditing the indicted Russian agents.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I hadn't thought of that, but assuming, I'll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration.
COLLINS: A source telling CNN President Trump told officials during his visit to the U.K., he already knows Putin will deny interfering in the election again and doesn't expect much progress.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't think you will have any, gee, I did it. You got me. There will not be a Perry Mason here. I don't think, but you never know what happens, right?
COLLINS: While there is no set agenda for the meeting, President Trump says he will discuss Syria, Ukraine, and extending a nuclear arms treaty with Putin.
JON HUNTSMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Right now, there is no trusting the relationship. This is an attempt to see if we can diffuse and take some of the drama and the danger out of the relationship right now.
COLLINS: On Capitol Hill, many expressing concern about what concessions President Trump might give during that meeting. Including promising to lift sanctions against Russia and ending NATO's military exercises in the Baltic states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin is a trained KGB agent. He may come in with maps of Syria and Ukraine, and frankly, I think he'll take advantage of this president.
COLLINS: On the eve of the summit, President Trump calling both the media and the European Union enemies of the United States after a contentious week of meetings with America's allies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's your biggest competitor? The biggest foe globally right now?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe what they do to us in trade.
COLLINS: The head of the European Council firing back tweeting, "America and the E.U. are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news. The president taking a different tone when talking about Putin.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, we have plenty of the people that I deal with which are ruthless people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Putin one of those?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I can't tell you that. I assume he probably, but I could name others also. Somebody said are you friends or enemies? I said, well, it's too early to say, but right now we are competitors.
[05:05:13] COLLINS: Now after their one-on-one meeting, they will open it up for their aides and staffers and hold a joint press conference where they take questions from reporters. Chris, upon leaving Washington, the president said this could be his easiest meeting of his trip to Europe. We will find out if he feels the same way when he returns tonight.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. We are waiting on word that Vladimir Putin has touched down here in Finland. Certainly, he should be in a big rush to get here because nobody wants an easy meeting more than he does. Let's talk about the stakes and what may or may not happen.
Two great panelists joining me right now, Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international anchor, and of course, the one and only, Jake Tapper, anchor of "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER." Good to you have both.
Putin will sit down. A quick look ahead for the schedule just for people who are watching us at home. At about 5:40, we expect the president and first lady to depart for the Finnish palace right behind shoulder. You will be seeing people go in and out of this tent, a little unceremonious, but that's just the security measure.
Putin is supposed to come first. Then the Trumps are supposed to come. There is going to be a book signing at about 6:20 is when we are looking for some remarks then the meetings, so on and so on.
Let's set the stage, Christian. This is a very august place. History has happened here between the U.S. and Russia on many occasions. Are we in the right place? Is this a big event that we are going to have here or is it something smaller the way the White House is now advising? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it is small, but it is big. It is not really a summit because it doesn't have all the trappings of a summit. It's a meeting. It's not really history because many presidents have met their Soviet counterparts here.
It is an important meeting. Helsinki has occupied a really important place in traditional cold war tensions between the two sides. Subsequently when Russia did actually become a Democratic country after the fall of the Soviet Union.
This comes at a time when the two nations and particularly, Russia and the whole western alliance are at serious odds over fundamentals of international policy and international rules of the road.
Not just the attacks into democratic systems in the U.S. and elsewhere, but the violation of sovereignty. I mean, Russia, a big country invaded a small country and annexed it, that's Crimea.
President Trump's people say America believes that Crimea is a sovereign part of independent Ukraine, not part of Russia. So, we will see if President Trump gives anything on that.
And then, of course, you have the idea that President Putin has been isolated because of the sanctions since 2014. This will rehabilitate him in a big way. There is no agenda. So, that is also a little confusing because how do you know what has been said? They will meet without anybody except interpreters. That also is a little bit confusing.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": I think both men will come out and declare victory. I'm not sure there will be any sort of deliverables as they are called in the field of diplomacy. The idea that they are going to come out and say we will do x, y and z.
Both I think considered just the meeting itself, the summit or whatever it is, itself, to be a victory. Look, for Vladimir Putin, President Trump, as Kaitlan described in her piece just a minute ago, said on Twitter that the reason that the United States and Russia have bad relations is because of the United States and foolishness.
He looked at the investigation into the Russian cyber-attack on the United States and interference in the election and blamed the investigation instead of blaming the Russians for the cyber-attack. Vladimir Putin doesn't have to do anything. He already has President Trump saying things that are official Russian policy when it comes to this relationship.
CUOMO: Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin this morning, said, yes, competitors. That's a good word. We're happy that Trump calls us competitors. Competition is good as it's fair competition, mind blowing stuff. For Russia to say we need fair competition when they have been unfair by almost every application of the word around the globe. To Jake's point, I was making a list of the things that President Trump just categorically has said that what would be Putin would say when it comes to the European Union calling them a foe.
That is out of the Putin's book. It's not supposed to out of the U.S. playbook about NATO and the problems with NATO. Theresa May and the problems with her strategy. Obviously, with the U.S. hacking and interference.
The idea about why as Jake was saying problems between the Russia and the U.S. I can't believe Putin is showing up here late. He should have gotten here two days early if not for the World Cup. This is like a birthday party.
AMANPOUR: He is able to take a one-hour short trip from Moscow to Helsinki. He is so not late. He is so reveling in the incredible glory of a fantastic World Cup.
[05:10:13] He was out there yesterday with the president of France who also has sanctions on him as part of the E.U., very strong against Russia. Hugging and kissing, all those standing in the rain. Having a great time. Slapping all the players on the back.
Putin was a part of the international community yesterday. He will come back here today and be a bigger part because he will get the biggest prize which is meeting with the president of the United States. The leader of the free world.
CUOMO: In Helsinki, a place that's filled with so much history about serious matters between the nations.
AMANPOUR: And the list you have just read is the nightmare of the E.U. and NATO Alliance. They have basically said, look, of course, people should have talks even in the aftermath of the indictments. Let's see if we can somehow come out with something and give Putin (inaudible) as to how he should behave.
And not try to, you know, drive, change address. They are concerned, though, that President Trump must cue to the western line, the western alliance politics. Not to music to Putin's ears.
CUOMO: To hear it from people around the administration and friends at Fox, who are sharing this facility here at the Alice Pools. They believe there is an easy measure of success here for Trump because the nations haven't spoken.
This is one of biggest gaps since the two nations have come together at the leadership level for any type of meeting. There are so many problems and opportunities to get Russia to move a little bit strategically for the U.S. So, do you believe that there is something that Trump can come away with here that is discernible victory?
TAPPER: Well, that is an argument. Certainly, there are plenty of areas where the Russian president and the American president could find common cause when it comes to some sort of resolution to the horrific civil war going on in Syria. When it comes to any future disarmament treaty. That comes up for renewal in 2021. If President Trump is still in office then --
AMANPOUR: Intermediate nuclear weapons treaty, INF stuff.
TAPPER: INF stuff, intermediate nuclear weapons. So, there's plenty that could work together on and sure, if they come out and talk about a whole host of areas where they are going to work together, I think that could be a tremendously positive development.
But what we also need to remember is while people who support President Trump talk about how great is the meeting is, and the fact that these two men are coming together. The reason why Vladimir Putin has been a pariah, OK, the invasion of Crimea, the seizure of that land, the civil war, and the fermenting of murder in Eastern Ukraine.
The poisoning of individuals on British soil and the special relationship with the U.K., the cyber-attacks on the United States. Putin has earned his pariah status. This isn't something that's just happened stance, and it is not, by the way, the fault of the United States.
CUOMO: Although, he liked hearing Trump said that was in the past. This was all before me.
TAPPER: But the cyber-attacks are still going on.
AMANPOUR: And so is the poisoning on British soil, and so is the backing of the world's worst murderer right now. His name is Assad and he is the worry. What if they make a deal as is being reported in the United States that the United States agrees to allow Assad to stay where he is, pulls out its troops hoping that Russia can move Iran back and then abandoning the field to Russia and Iran.
You know, it is really, really serious. These things and Putin comes at incredibly, incredibly well prepared. We were talking to Jake the last time. President Kennedy when he met with his first Russian leader in '61 was unprepared, and came back and told the American press, I was savaged, and you know, two months later, the Russian started building the Berlin wall.
CUOMO: There is certainly plenty to be on the table. What will be on the table and how is it discussed? Tone matters in something like this. We will see and see together. Christiane, Jake, thank you very much.
All right. We are going to back to you in New York. We will keep you abreast of the schedule as people we get word that they are showing up. I'll let you know right now. It's good to see you both.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You, too, Chris. Great to have you there on the ground for us. So, we are minutes away from President Trump and Putin meeting. What will happen? Our analysts are here next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to come face-to-face in this setting you see in less than an hour from now. This is Helsinki, Finland. Their summit comes just days after a grand jury indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. So, what will happen in this meeting?
Let's bring in Max Boot, our CNN global affairs analyst, and Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations. Gentlemen, it is so great to have both of you here.
So, it is impossible to know what really will happen, Steve, in this meeting because there will be no witnesses or no record keepers, nobody transcribing it. So, how will we ever know what was really said in there?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We have to either depend on Donald Trump's version or his translator assuming he has a State Department translator with him or rely on Vladimir Putin himself. Perhaps, neither of them -- are the best sources.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Donald Trump, let's just be honest, his stories about things change. So, he is an unreliable narrator. I mean, I'm not saying that he can't be trusted, but he doesn't always stick to the same story. So, these 90 minutes, we won't know really what takes this.
HALL: It is very unusual, and I've said in countless meetings with principles, who are about to go into very sensitive discussions and conversations with Russians and others that are not helpful to the U.S. cause. The basic premise is, look, you need another set of eyes and ears in the room besides the translator.
principles who are going in to discussions with Russians and others that are not helpful to the U.S. cause. The basic premise is, look, you need another set of eyes and ears in the room beside the translator.
[05:20:08] If for no other reason, common sensitively for someone else to say yes, this is what they said. This is what you heard. There was no misunderstanding.
CAMEROTA: A witness.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Max, you say the key to this summit is that the president needs to press Putin on what you call Russian misbehavior. You are not just talking about their interference in the U.S. election. You're talking about Ukraine and Georgia and Baltics. You say that is key. How confident are you that that will, in fact, take place? MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I have very little confidence, John, that will take place. I mean, all of the signaling that President Trump has done in the run-up to the summit suggests the opposite that he is out there to ingratiate himself with Vladimir Putin for reasons that can only be speculated at.
It was very interesting that one of his recent tweets was, you know, saying that our relationship with Russia has never been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity claiming the U.S. for the deterioration of relations, but the key in that tweet in some ways for me was the word relationship.
Because, you know, Trump is so focused on having a relationship with Putin, trying to get along with him. Whereas to my mind, the goal should not be to establish a relationship. The goal should be to lay down the law to Putin and say knock it off. You have to stop this. We will not tolerate attacks on our election.
We will not tolerate killing people in the United Kingdom. We will not tolerate war crimes in Syria or invasion of Ukraine. That should be the objective to get Russia to behave better. Not to get along with him. I mean, that's easy to d. Anybody can get along with Putin as long as you don't criticize him. I fear that's what Donald Trump is going to do.
CAMEROTA: President Trump has given no indication that he is going to say any of the things that Matt just spelled out or with any of yet sort of forcefulness. I mean, beyond wanting to be pals with Putin, what do you think President Trump's end game is here?
HALL: You know, it is a really good question. I would agree with Max. You cannot base a policy on just having a good relationship. That is not a policy. That's a mechanism that can sometimes be used to achieve a policy.
But to say that that's my policy is not a good one and there are also are important things that Russia and the United States do need to talk about. Not a whole lot of things. I think Putin would like more things.
But for example, some of the nuclear, non-proliferation treaties, and some other things could be talked about, but you don't need a summit for that. You don't need to give an easy win to Vladimir Putin who is most concerned about appearing as a great power, the leader of a great power.
You don't need to give him this win. You can have your experts who have studied this stuff at a working level and then you can have a summit to formalize a significant accomplishment. This sort of made for television moment seems to be more just something that Trump likes to do.
BERMAN: Vladimir Putin is not on the ground yet in Finland, which to me is interesting. The president has been there for about 12 hours. Vladimir Putin will swoop in late after the World Cup. Fly in for the summit. I want your takes on what he wants when he sits down at that table and stares at the U.S. president. What does he want?
BOOT: Well, a big thing, which as Steve suggested, he is going to get automatically just by being there is legitimacy and being able to stand on the world stage as equal of the American president. Even though let's keep in mind, Russia is a much poorer country and weaker country. They are not equal to the United States.
But simply by appearing alongside Trump and having Trump speak respectfully of him, Putin is going to be elevated, which is something that he very much wants. He wants to be legitimated.
And of course, he wants U.S. acquiescence to his power grabs. Now the question is, to what extent is he going to get that? I mean, is Trump going to say something that will legitimate the Russian annexation of Crimea, for example, or legitimate the Russian role in Syria.
I think those are the kinds of takeaways that Putin is going for. But even if he doesn't get those, he's already won just by being there. Certainly, if Trump lays on the praise the way that he did with Kim Jong-un. If we hear Putin is very smart, great personnel, and very talented, and loved by his people. I mean, those are all huge bonus points for Putin.
HALL: I would say that you have to step back and say whether Vladimir Putin's larger geopolitical goals? He wants to weaken the west the United States. He had a really great couple of months or years in that. He wants to use this as twisting things in and say this is what I want to accomplish to divide those who are against me.
BERMAN: A great couple days. The president of the United States called the European Union one their greatest foes. Putin hasn't shown up yet. All right. Guys, thank you very much. Let's go back to Helsinki by that beautiful pool there that is where we find Chris Cuomo -- Chris.
CUOMO: Look, you know, you guys are having the right discussion. I mean, it is such a confounding situation of why are we in Helsinki? Every time the U.S. and Russia meets in this place, it is historic meeting when there's an agenda and what they call deliverables in the diplomacy business where big things are going to be discussed.
[05:25:05] What is on the table today that will make a big difference in the world? That's what we will take on right after the break. Come back and join us in Helsinki.
CUOMO: All right. Here we are at the world famous Alice Pools in Helsinki, Finland. Assessing a situation like this which is a major summit or meeting is what the White House wants to call it. Tone on the way in. Transparency of the process and take away on the way out.
So, let's talk about this as we are heading in tone is a major factor especially because it's very confounding. The president of the United States seems to be making the --