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President Trump Says Just One Word to Blame for Helsinki Uproar; Interview with Rep. Will Hurd (R), Texas; CNN: President Trump Responsible For Crafting Clarification; Were Pres. Trump's Remarks In Helsinki "Treasonous?;" Grand Jury Indicts Russian Woman On Charges Of Being A Spy; Tracking Your Data, In Russia? Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 17, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We have breaking news tonight. Barely a day after the summit in Helsinki, CNN has learned that Russian spy agencies plan to boost operations against the West. I just want the say that again. CNN has learned that Russian spy agencies plan to boost operations against the West.

This just one day after the president claimed that the terrible relations between the U.S. and Russia had, in his opinion, changed because of his meeting with Vladimir Putin. This is happening just 24 hours after President Trump chose to believe Vladimir Putin's account of Russia's attack on the 2016 election. He chose to believe the former KGB officer over the U.S. intelligence community.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


COOPER: I don't see any reason why it would be Russia, he said.

Despite the fact that just yesterday, Vladimir Putin admitted on the stage he wanted Mr. Trump to become president. Maybe that's one reason why it would be Russia.

Plus, the evidence gathered by the U.S. intelligence community and, of course, the indictments by the Mueller investigation.

Now, today, with other fawning words about Putin still fresh in the air, top national security officials met in the White House Situation Room to clean up the mess. The Situation Room, where presidents have conducted wars, where they've responded to attacks on this country. It's where President Obama and his team monitored the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The fates of entire nations have been decided in that Situation Room. Today, however, it was used for damage control in a self-made crisis that sprang entirely from the president's own mouth. And today, those big brains who gather and labor and considered alternatives, those big brains came up with this.


TRUMP: I came back and I said what is going on? What's the big deal? So I got a transcript. I reviewed it. I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realized that there is a need for some clarification.

It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn't. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't."

The sentence should have been I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russians. So just to repeat it, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't," and the sentence should have been, and I thought I would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia. Sort of a double negative.

So you can put that in. And I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.


COOPER: Yes. That clarifies pretty good by itself.

He can't even come up with that explanation and say it without making a mistake.

If you're asking yourself does that even pass the laugh test, here is at least one answer. It comes from Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director, a retired four-star general, no less, known best perhaps for his service during and after 9/11. His tweet, I'm not laughing followed by five frowny faces, and then, oh, hell, yes, I am. And wall of laughing emojis.

Laughter aside, General Hayden is a pretty deeply serious man. He is also one of the best informed analysts of national security, intelligence gathering and counterintelligence there is, period, end of paragraph.

Now, if it was true that this was a simple mistake of a word and an apostrophe, you would think that someone on the president's own staff would have said that yesterday. They could have slipped the president a note during his press conference saying you said wouldn't and you meant -- or you said would and you meant wouldn't, or vice versa. They could have corrected it immediately after or hours after.

Instead, there was silence from the White House and from the State Department. If it was just a slip of the tongue, it wouldn't have required a meeting in the Situation Room and that tortured explanation that you just saw.

But it took them all of this time to come up with that statement. The president tried to do even more damage control today as well. Listen to the president's prepared remarks, apparently written for him, appearing to acknowledge that he has been so far reluctant to concede.


TRUMP: Let me be totally clear in saying that -- and I've said this many times. I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place.


COOPER: Now that's where the White House wishes what he said just stopped right there, because it sounds like he accepts the assessment. But now, listen to those same prepared remarks plus what the president himself added apparently as an aside in the very next breath.


[20:05:06] TRUMP: Let me be totally clear in saying that -- and I've said this many times -- I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. There is a lot of people out there.


COOPER: He undercut the very statement he just made that was written for him, and that's not even a mistaken word choice or an apostrophe. In fact, that, what he said, what he added on, what wasn't written down on the paper is exactly what President Trump has been saying as far back as the fall of 2016.


TRUMP: I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

Maybe there is no hacking, but they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia, because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia.

They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean they have no idea.

As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But we also get hacked by other countries and other people.

Knowing something about hacking, if you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking.

Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.

I believe that president Putin really feels, and he feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election. What I said there is I believe that he believes that. And that's very important for somebody to believe.


COOPER: That's what he said during the campaign. It's what he said in the transition. It's what he said yesterday in Helsinki and what he said today.


TRUMP: Could be other people also. There is a lot of people out there.


COOPER: Well, keeping him honest, changing would to wouldn't in one sentence from one moment to on stage in Helsinki does not erase these words just moments later.


TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.


COOPER: And it doesn't change a single word in a single sentence. It doesn't undo his answer to this question from a reporter.


REPORTER: Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it's U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you -- what would you consider them, that they are responsible for?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame.


COOPER: But we're not. America is not responsible for the annexation of Crimea, Georgia. Russia is. America is not responsible for the downing of MH-17, Russia is. America isn't responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, or the poisoning of two Russian immigrants on British soil, and then to British citizens. Russia is.

But President Trump didn't address any of that yesterday while standing next to the man responsible for it, and he again failed to as well today. And changing would to wouldn't doesn't change that. Reaction now from the Republican lawmaker, a former CIA officer, one of many members of Congress who expressed reservations to one degree or another today. I spoke with Congressman Will Hurd of Texas earlier tonight.


COOPER: Congressman Hurd, do you buy what the president said today that this was just him misspeaking when he meant to say wouldn't instead of would?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: I think only time is going to tell. Ultimately, he needs to make sure there is a consistent message in his support for the intelligence community and his understanding that the Russians did indeed attempt to manipulate our elections. This also brings up question of was there other times he misspoke in the one-on- one meeting. That's a question, and was there any confusion from there.

And this is an indication that, you know, when it comes to two important countries like the United States and a global spoiler like Russia, language is important, and being precise is important.

COOPER: Why do you think he is doing this? Because I mean even today, when he is trying to clean up the mess that he made yesterday, he says he accepts the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but then in the exact same sentence follows it with it could be other people also. There are a lot of people out there. And that's clearly an ad lib.

HURD: Well, Anderson, the short answer is I don't know why he is doing that, but it's obviously creating confusion. It's creating confusion with our allies.

2[20:10:03] I've in many of the trips I have taken and work with our allies, whether it's in the intelligence committee or the homeland security committee, our allies are concerned about what is indeed the U.S.'s role in the rest of the world, what is the U.S.'s role in organizations like NATO. I think it's important for us in Congress to speak, and, you know, we've doubled down on the intelligence community and the intelligence assessment act, making sure the men and women of the CIA and NSA have the tools they need, because they know that Russia is indeed a threat and that they tried to manipulate our election. And that the Russians are going to continue to manipulate our elections and do things like hack our energy companies.

COOPER: Well, in fact, I mean, there is this new CNN report that Russia is actually ramping up its cyberattacks targeting Western countries. This, you know, President Trump yesterday said that, you know, as of four hours ago, the Russia relations were on basically a reset because of his great rapport with -- alluding to his rapport or his meetings with Vladimir Putin.

I guess -- I mean, I guess the tough question really, and it's a tough question to ask of anybody, especially somebody in the Republican Party, but, I mean, after what you saw yesterday, and even what we saw today, do you trust this president to be able to speak one-on-one with another world leader in a way that accurately represents what the U.S. government believes and what's in the best interests of the United States? Do you trust this president on that, that he has -- is able to execute the office in a way that does represent the best interests of the United States?

HURD: Well, it starts with having a clear strategy with the individual countries and the activity that we're talking about. And so, if you don't start with a clear strategy of what our chief executive has and the staff around that and that it's in line with the goals that have been set out by Congress through our funding of these agencies, then we're going have a disconnect and we're going to have confusion.

And it's hard to get that right if it's just you doing it by yourself.


HURD: And that's something that's -- I also think many U.S. presidents have made the mistake to think that they can reset our relations with Russia. Russia is interested in one thing and one thing only, and that's reestablishing the territorial integrity of the USSR.

COOPER: Is that -- I mean, I hate to push you on this, but I didn't hear a clear yes, I do trust the president to represent the best interests of America, that he is able to or no? Are you basically saying --

HURD: I don't think -- you need to have a strategy, and I don't think he should be doing one-on-one meetings with heads of state because too much is at stake.

COOPER: Congressman Hurd, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

HURD: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: In all the verbal gymnastics today over would and wouldn't, another word really hangs over all of it, same as it always has. Congressman Hurd said it himself. Why? Why does the president say what he says? What motivates him to focus on certain aspects of the Russia story, the ones affecting himself at the expense of others which affect all of us?

We saw two examples at the White House today in the form of notes he apparently made to himself on his prepared remarks. Take a look. No collusion it reads, and yes, there should be two L's. That's a minor point.

The markings on the other page didn't show up, but CNN has gotten a clearer shot. It's a passage someone has crossed out, reading, anyone involved in that meddling to justice, as in we will bring anyone involved in that meddling to justice. Unclear. We only know the president did not want to read that passage and we've also learned the president was running the show. Two officials telling CNN it was the president who led the crafting of the clarification. Joining us is CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Political

Analyst, Author and Investigative Reporter, Carl Bernstein, and our Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger.

Carl, I mean, you know, to hear Congressman Hurd, essentially saying the president shouldn't be in one-on-one meetings.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That was an astonishing exchange with you. A Republican congressman said the president of the United States cannot be trusted to meet alone with a foreign leader, and then we have for the first time a wave of Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, including Speaker Ryan saying in essence that the president of the United States, whether because he is not capable or whether he has colluded in some way or whether he is incoherent in his approach to policy cannot be entrusted with the national security of the United States. That's really what we have heard today.

We've never seen anything like this in our modern history. We are having serious people, both publicly and privately, Republicans and Democrats, questioning the loyalty of the president of the United States to our own country. This is extraordinary. It never happened with Richard Nixon.

COOPER: Although --

BERNSTEIN: No modern president has been put in this position by himself, by his own actions, not by the accusations of others.

[20:15:05] COOPER: Although, Jeff, we have heard a number of Republicans in Congress after the president made his remarks today coming out and saying, well, you know, I have to take the president at his word. This does sort of give them cover to kind of take their foot off the gas pedal or, you know, stop ringing alarm bells.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, the Republican Party, which is really the Trump party now, you know, has trouble criticizing him about anything. And the fact that there were some cautious words of criticism just shows how extraordinarily bad this statement was.

But the question you asked Congressman Hurd is the one that I think haunts all of us about this, which is why? Why is Donald Trump still doing this? Why is he failing to acknowledge Russia's role in the 2016 election? Why won't he acknowledge that Russia is a bad actor?

COOPER: Right, full stop, period.

TOOBIN: Why? Because, you know, is there kompromat on him? Do they have something on him? Why is he meeting only one-on-one with Vladimir Putin? Why isn't it a normal summit meeting with other people present?

I mean, you know, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm not someone who generally believes that the world is controlled by shadowy figures, but his behavior is so pervasively bizarre and against the national interests that it certainly raises the possibility that something untoward is going on here.

I'm sorry, Gloria. Go ahead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, look, I think that members of Congress, not only Democrats, but also Republicans are going to want to get to the bottom of this. It's very clear to me the president had no idea he did anything wrong or said anything wrong. I mean, today he said, what's the big deal?

He didn't know it. He got forced by people to go out there and do what looked like a hostage video reading from a script, except when the real Donald Trump came through when he said well, there are lots of others, you know, who could be doing this.

And I think you're going to see calls for ratcheted up sanctions which hopefully would be bipartisan, but also an investigation into just what occurred. I mean, can they debrief this translator if they haven't already? If they haven't gotten the translator's notes?

Now, given what he said publicly, don't people need to know what he actually said privately to Putin?

TOOBIN: Gloria --

BORGER: I mean, could it have been any worse?

TOOBIN: But, Gloria, do you really think the Republican Congress is going to do that investigation?

BORGER: I -- well, here's the thing. The question is, will the Democrats now be able to shame them to such a degree because they are so mortified --

COOPER: Does shame exist anymore?

BORGER: Well, you know, you're right. They're so mortified privately, I can tell you this, but at a certain point, this becomes about the future of the country and not about the future of the Republican Party, and today you heard Paul Ryan a little bit, Mitch McConnell, you know, these things take some time, but the Democrats are going to keep up the drumbeat and the question I have is how does this affect how the Mueller investigation is regarded?

COOPER: You know, Carl, I mean, the idea that first of all according to reporting it was the president who came up with this idea of the word change, and -- but the idea, if it is to be believed that that's what the whole problem was, again, I come back to he has an entire staff of smart people who want good for the country, I assume, and who could have said -- if that was the case, who could have said to him immediately, Mr. President, you actually used the wrong word. Let's just put out a quick statement saying you used the wrong word.

They had, I don't know what, I just flew back. It's an eight-hour flight from Helsinki to New York. I'm not sure how fast Air Force One is compared to --

BERNSTEIN: He doesn't believe he needs to correct anything. That's the point.

BORGER: Exactly.

TOOBIN: Exactly.

BERNSTEIN: And we're talking about a person who twice in the last few weeks has called himself a stable genius. We're not seeing a stable genius.

COOPER: Who, by the way, remember, during the campaign said he uses the best words.

BERNSTEIN: That's right. But we are not watching a stable genius conduct national security policy in the interests of the United States. We are going to have the secretary of state appear before Congress, Republicans and Democrats have called for him to go there to find out what the hell happened in Helsinki.

Imagine, we do not have a straight story from the president of the United States about this negotiation or whatever this meeting was.

So, for the first time, we now have serious question raised by serious people of whether or not the president of the United States can be entrusted with foreign policy, with national security policy. This is what Mattis, this is what McMaster, this is what private discussions with Tillerson were about, between these people of whether or not the president of the United States is capable. And whether or not there is something going on that they don't know about, that the American people don't know about.

[20:20:04] It's one of the things that indeed Mueller's investigation is intended to find out whether there is something underneath all this, and that's why we watch this stable genius saying what he says about the Mueller investigation.

COOPER: Carl is talking about McMaster. McMaster is gone, Bolton now in his place.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: Bolton has always been -- you know, has been very tough on Russia.

BORGER: A hawk.

COOPER: I mean, it's amazing to me that, you know, you talk about shame. Nobody seems to resign anymore. Nobody seems to kind of stand up and, you know, raise alarm bells.

BORGER: Right. Well -- and Dan Coats issued, you know, the DNI, issued a statement saying we stand by our intelligence.

COOPER: Which was an extraordinary statement.

BORGER: It was. It was extraordinary. And I guarantee you, it wasn't cleared by anybody. I think he just released it. And don't forget, the president went over there armed with these

indictments against these dozen Russians, and they -- it was very strong and, you know, very detailed, and he had actually, according to CNN's reporting, told Rod Rosenstein, look, I want you to issue this before I go there.

That was what he had. He was armed with that, and he could have thrown it at Vladimir Putin and said we have you. We know what you have done, and instead, in front of the world he caved.

COOPER: Right. And it was Chris Wallace who literally was throwing -- handing the indictments to Putin, who didn't take it.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: But, Jeff, we're hearing also, Jeff Zeleny and others reporting that the president plans to turn this against the press. We already heard him talk about well, the fake news was in an uproar.

It's important to reiterate, and we talked about this yesterday, it was two journalists, two American journalists who pinned the president down, who asked the right questions that got the president to reveal how he actually believes during that press conference yesterday. So, for all the machinations the president is going to try to turn this on the media, it was two reporters who just stood up and asked very basic, simple hard questions that so confounded the president of the United States.

TOOBIN: It was real. It was a great moment. And I apologize. I don't remember their names.

COOPER: "Reuters" and from "A.P."

TOOBIN: "Reuters" and "A.P." And it also was such a great example of how great journalists don't have to yell. They don't have to be theatrical. They ask simple questions about, you know, do you think Russia is responsible?

COOPER: Will you turn to Vladimir Putin right now and, you know --

TOOBIN: And they got to the heart and soul of Donald Trump, and that's what's so scary, because every time he speaks off the cuff, including today where he has the opportunity to tell the truth, he goes back to this coddling and affection and weird relationship with Russia. And the question we don't know the answer to is why.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff Toobin, thank you. Carl Bernstein, Gloria Borger as well.

Coming up next, columnist and author Tom Friedman joins us. He's had tough words lately for the president's words to Vladimir Putin and his actions in the face of the Russian threat. Does he buy today's presidential, quote/unquote, clarification? Find out when we return.

Also tonight, the latest Russian alleged spy. Her gun advocacy and the campaign appearance she made with the question for candidate Trump that's raising eyebrows.


[20:27:20] COOPER: We're talking about the presidential clarification of his remarks in Helsinki that not only moved a former CIA director to online tears of laughter, but have also failed to contain much of the uproar surrounding those remarks. In fact, it pretty only raised more questions. Questions now from Tom Friedman, "New York Times" columnist and author of the bestseller, "Thank You For Being Late."

Tom, this convoluted explanation by the president do, you buy it at all?

TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't buy it. I think it was some kind of ex post facto scrabble game they pulled together in the Situation Room to try to extract themselves from what was clear to anyone watching the press conference that two things really, Anderson, one, there was no clear-cut agenda for this conference, and if there are clear-cut achievements, the two leaders haven't shared them either with the public or it seems with many of their aides.

And secondly, the president clearly, you know, was standing there, taking the side of the Russian president against the conclusions of his own intelligence agency, and seemed to be trying to ingratiating himself as if it was America's job to be nice to Russia after Russia has attacked our democracy, been found culpable for shooting down a civilian airliner over Ukraine, basically covertly invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea, as been involved in a genocide in Syria.

How it is that -- sure, I want good relations with Russia. But how it is our job to be sucking up to them?

COOPER: It is fascinating also to hear him talking to Hannity about how powerful Putin seemed to be, that he powerfully spoke and he is a powerful guy. I mean, for the president to claim it was just a mix-up of a word, it doesn't really clarify why the president went out of his way to say that Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial of Russian interference yesterday, or why he also attacked the Mueller probe yesterday which has yielded actual indictments against Putin's own military intelligence operatives?

FRIEDMAN: That's right. I mean, it didn't come down to one-half sentence of would or wouldn't. He was there clearly I would say in the thrall. He has some kind of dictatorship envy and was clearly in awe of Putin, and it was really embarrassing, embarrassing for every American citizen. And obviously, when you see the reaction today, finally embarrassing to his own party.

But, you know, we have a very unusual situation, Anderson, and it produced this summit. We have a president with no shame and a party with no spine. And when a president with no shame has a party with no spine, he can go a long way without anyone restraining him. It's actually a wonderful place to be if you're a leader because you can actually say anything and its exact opposite and get away with it. You can give an interview with "The Sun" newspaper basically dissing

the prime minister of England and then you can deny that you ever said any such thing, even though it's all on tape. You can call for the basically Britain to pull out of the European Union and to fracture the European Union and you can say you love the EU and NATO. It's really good work if you can get it.

COOPER: I mean the fact that President also claimed to accept the intelligence community's conclusion today, which was the whole point I guess of him coming out and trying to do damage control, but then immediately undercutting it by add living in well it could be other people also, which is something he has said time and time again. So that's not just a slip of a tongue. That is his core belief. He cannot say Russia attacked the election, Russia attacked the United States full stop.

FRIEDMAN: That is his core belief. And Anderson, he has been getting away with saying, again, everything and its opposite from the very beginning of his campaign because his party never calls him on it. And he is backed by a network that never calls him on it. And so he has been getting away with this basically for the last few years. To me, it all goes back to one thing, his tax returns. When he saw that he could promise to give us tax returns, you know, when this supposed audit was over, the world's longest audit, when he saw he could get away with that, you can bet he went back and said to his colleagues and family, can you believe I got away with that? And he has been getting away with stuff ever since then. And so this is just par for the course for him.

COOPER: I want to read from a quote from a column you wrote in the "New York Times" in which you said, "There is overwhelming evidence that our President for the first time in our history is either deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality is engaged in treasonous behavior, behavior that violates his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States."

I mean treason is obviously a very specific word. You truly believe that he needs that bar?

FRIEDMAN: Oh absolutely. He is either compromised by the Russians or he is an even bigger ignoramus than any of us fully understands or he is such a twisted narcissist that inside his head or is just a series of mirrors that he constantly looked into that he cannot see out the front of his eyes what is going on there and see things through the interests of anything other than Donald J. Trump.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, I appreciate you being with us on this really difficult day. Thank you.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Even with President Trump's clarification today, there is still a great deal of fallout in the wake of the Helsinki remarks. A former CIA director tweeted the President's statement were treasonous, you heard Tom talked about his opinions on that, even Paul Ryan was asked about it today.

Just ahead, is that a fair term even to bring up as part of the lexicon as this debate rolls on? We'll take a look at treason, ahead.


[20:36:29] COOPER: Well the ripple effects from President Trump's remarks in Helsinki are moving so quickly that the speaker of the House was asked today a question which in normal times would have been close to unthinkable. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama's CIA Director John Brennan said that President Trump's press conference in Helsinki, quote, "rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors", unquote, and, quote, "was nothing short of treasonous", unquote. Do you agree with Brennan that's Trump's actions were treasonous?



COOPER: Well, John Brennan's tweet is no small thing. And here to discuss this CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot and Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group.

Max, you wrote that if anyone is "the enemy of the people" which is the line the President uses against the free press, it's Trump himself. What about that word treason? Is it -- is that a word that should be being used?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's fascinating to me, Anderson, that it is in the conversation and in a very serious way being used by very serious people like John Brennan, a career CIA professional, who by the way was CIA director during the 2016 campaign. So he probably knows things about Donald Trump that we don't know.

And to me, this is just unbelievable that we're having this conversation about an American President and you can have a press conference between the American President and another head of state in which they're asked whether the other head of state has compromising material on the U.S. President. And that is not a wacky conspiracy question. This is a serious question that is being debated by very serious people. Because the way that Donald Trump behaves as a complete patsy for Putin, he raises the question is there something going on here. Does Putin have something on Trump. And we don't know if he does or not. We're looking for -- to Mueller for those answer.

COOPER: Right and despite the Republicans in Congress saying they don't believe that Putin wanted Trump to win the election, Putin said --

BOOT: He confessed it. He confessed it on international TV.

COOPER: It certainly got lost in all --

BOOT: Yes.

COOPER: -- the coverage of everything else, but are things important point to bring up. Ian, i want to read the definition of treason. Because again, I mean it is such a strong word and kind of a shocking word to even be discussing out loud. For an act to be treason, you have to give aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States. It's whoever owing allegiance to the United States levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Can one really argue that -- I mean should this word even be, you know, in the discussion?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Not at this point. No, and I don't think that the media should be called enemies of the people either. Look, I mean this is a crime you can be executed for in the United States. And I think people need to calm it down. Frankly. You just asked Tom Friedman, who I have a lot of respect for, he used the term treasonous, you asked him if he really believed that. And he said absolutely, yes. And then he said well, it's either about Trump behaving in a way that implies high crimes, his and misdemeanors or they he said or he is a complete ignoramus or he is a narcissist with mirrors upon mirrors.

Neither of those two latter of the three have anything to do with committing treason. And yet we just had him on a prime time media show saying absolutely this is treasonous behavior. I think it systematically undermines the intellectual respectability of a lot of people that are on the media, and it provides an enormous ability, a cudgel which Trump and his supporters will use to attack the media right back. I think it's a real mistake, Anderson.

[20:40:00] COOPER: Max, I mean the -- do you agree with that? I mean is -- I mean again, I'm not sure where I stand on this, frankly. But, you know, as John Brennan brought this up, is it too far?

BOOT: I mean I'm not prepared to sit here, Anderson, and say that Donald Trump is guilty of treason, but I think it is something that we have to discuss because of his behavior. And what I am prepared to sit here and say is that, he is guilty of violating his oath of office to protect and defend the constitution, because that is not what he is doing, when he is siding with a despot and an enemy of America against the U.S. intelligence community.

And when he is not taking the steps he needs to take to protect us from future Russian attacks, even though his own director of National Intelligence says that the warning systems are blinking red, right now.

COOPER: Ian, do you -- you know, this course and I asked Congressman Hurd earlier, do you trust the President to meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin or anybody one-on-one and accurately represent the best interests of the United States?

BREMMER: No, I have serious questions about it. I think the reason why he met one-on-one is because he knew that if he brought in members of his own administration, including people like the Secretary of State who I think we have a lot of respect for that he did not believe that they wouldn't leak.

That's extraordinary. It's also use of a double negative, which we can do. And that tells you something very disturbing, that on this Russia-Putin issue, that literally the entirety of Trump's administration stands aside from him. But I do think that's very different, from when people start comparing Trump to Hitler, to the Nazis, comparing what he did in Helsinki to Kristallnacht.

COOPER: Right.

BREMMER: And I think that when people talk about treason, it is incumbent even on you, Anderson, to have a view that -- of how you feel about that language, that kind of incendiary language being used commonly, because you and I both know so many people that are doing commentary right now who have gotten really angry, and that kind of gotten unmoored as a consequence of this over the course of the last year and a half.

COOPER: Max, the President coming out today to try to clarify things, you could use that word, to try to clean up, however you want to view it, did he -- did he do himself any favors? Did he just continue this discussion?

BOOT: No, of course not. He actually made himself look worse because yesterday we saw that he was a lackey for Putin. Today we saw he is a particularly an artful liar in trying to clean up what he did yesterday.

And so it doesn't add to his credibility at all. In fact, that further undermines that because, you know, he is this sinister figure, but also this figure of fun who is seen with fear and loathing around the world, but also being laughed at. And that's a horrible combination for the President of the United States to be in because he reflects upon the country as a whole.

COOPER: Ian, could these comments come back to haunt the President whether being in connection to the Mueller investigation or something else?

BREMMER: Well, I think two things. One is he did the absolute minimum that was required to get the majority of Republicans back on his side --

COOPER: Right.

BREMMER: -- and say let bygones be bygones. That was the reason why he did what he did. Mission accomplished from that perspective.

But there is no question that he can't stop this Mueller investigation, and he's provided in Helsinki and in today's comments an awful lot more grist for those that are concerned that there something serious that we don't know here, some kind of cover-up, something that will come out that really does explain in much more full way why Trump seems to be so in the bag for an adversary of the United States, the Russian President.

There's nothing we've seen in the last 48 hours that should provide us comfort that we've gotten answers to those questions.

BOOT: I mean, Ian is saying, and I agree with him, that Trump looks like he is in the bag for our adversary, but then Ian is resisting the notion of describing that as treason, and I admit that's a very strong word. But if you're truly in the bag for our adversary, then how do you describe that?

Now, in terms of whether he truly is guilty of this horrible crime, I think we have to wait for Robert Mueller to make that determination.

BREMMER: That's correct.

BOOT: But in the meantime, again, I have utmost confidence in saying he is not protecting United States, he is not upholding his oath of office, that we don't need any further evidence to reach that conclusion.

COOPER: All right. Max, I appreciate, Ian, as well.

A federal grand jury has approved the criminal indictment of a Russian woman charge with being a spy. Coming up, to look into this fascinating past of this woman, Maria Butina. And new details about how she figures into, or tried to figure into Donald Trump's presidential campaign.


[20:46:56] COOPER: And jury has formally indicted a Russian woman named Maria Butina of charges of being a spy who wanted to seek back channels between Russia and American politicians.

For now she is in a Washington jail as she awaits her next court date. Back in the summer of 2015, she asked a question of then citizen Trump at an event called freedom fest in Las Vegas.


MARIA BUTINA, ALLEGED SPY: My question will be about foreign politics. If you would be elected as the President, what will be your foreign politics, especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that will damage in the both economy or do you have any other ideas?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK, Obama gets along with nobody. The whole world hates us. I know Putin, and I'll tell you what, we get along with Putin. Putin has no respect for President Obama, big problem.

I believe, I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? And I mean when we have the strength. I don't think he'd need the sanctions. I think we would get along very, very well. I really believe that.


COOPER: That exchange has actually been noted in the fascinating book "Russian Roulette" by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. And it was no very small thing for those surrounding Donald Trump. Michael Isikoff joins me now.

This book -- the book you co-authored is fascinating. Can you just explain why that question in 2015 and that answer with then candidate Kenneth Trump sounded alarm bells for some people inside the Trump campaign?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CO-AUTHOR, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: You know, well, first of all, it's important to remember when this was. This is very early in Trump's campaign. He had just announced a few weeks earlier, and fair to say the issue of Russia sanctions was hardly at the front of the American political dialogue.

It's not something anybody was talking about, but it was something of very much concern to Vladimir Putin and his government, and the fact that she -- Mariia Butina, asked that, was there at that event and then asked the question and got Trump on the record saying you won't need that sanctions if I'm elected was very important to the Kremlin.

Now months later when the whole Russia thing blew up, Trump's top advisers, and this is what we layout in the book, Steve Bannon, the campaign chairman, we're talking now 2016, and Reince Priebus are watching that 2video, and they're puzzling over this.

How is this that this -- how is it that this woman happened to be there at that event? How is it that Trump happened to call on her? How is it that Trump happened to have a well developed five-minute answer to the question? It was something had concerned them.

They didn't have answers, but it seems puzzling. Now we learned from the new criminal charges unveiled this week that this was no incidental act by Maria Butina. She had been -- there is e-mail correspondents produced in the criminal charges in which she is talking about a well thought out strategy of trying to tilt the Republican Party in a more favorable direction towards Russia. She was going to do it. She was working for a very interesting character, Aleksandr Torshin a Russian central banker an accused money launderer and very close ally of Vladimir Putin. And I think that's the sort of next phase of this --

[20:50:25] COOPER: Right.

ISIKOFF: -- the connection to Torshin and Torshin's connections to Putin, and the ways in which they were using Maria Butina.

COOPER: Did she have further contacts with the campaign? I've understood she met with, albeit perhaps briefly, with Donald Trump Jr.

ISIKOFF: Right. Yes. There was a concerted effort after that incident in which Butina and Torshin going through intermediaries who were conservative activists with whom they had forged relationships to set up meetings with the Trump campaign, set up, broker a summit between Trump himself and Putin. This is while Trump was still running -- still a candidate, not the president. And there were -- there's an extensive e-mail trail on this in which various conservative activists are e-mailing top officials of the Trump campaign to try to set up an a meeting at an NRA convention in Louisville in 2016. Ultimately they don't get the meeting with Trump, but they do get a meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

COOPER: Yes. There -- just very quickly, do we know if Butina's attempts to forge relations with Donald Trump and/or people in his orbit continued after the election? 2 ISIKOFF: Yes. As a matter of fact and I wrote about this last year. They -- Butina was volunteered to work in the Trump transition. It's not clear she was ever accepted for that, but she did attend the inauguration.

And then just weeks after the inauguration, they arranged for a -- at the national prayer breakfast. Torshin is designated the head of a delegation of Russians who are going to attend the national prayer breakfast. And then somebody on the national security staff figures out who Torshin is --


ISIKOFF: -- the fact that he'd been wanted in Spain. They canceled the meeting at the last --


ISIKOFF: -- minute for a meeting between Torshin and then President Trump.

COOPER: The book again, "Russian Roulette", I recommend. And Michael Isikoff thanks so much, appreciate it.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

COOPER: Here's our Chris Cuomo with a look at what's coming up on "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, how you doing buddy? I'm just looking at one of the big scripts now Anderson because what we're going to try to do tonight is actually show the truth of the situation of what was said in Helsinki. How are we going to do that?

We're going to examine the words. I've been watching your show tonight. You laid it out so eloquently and you had some great panels on the words versus the meaning and the obvious intention.

I believe we can diagram the arguments that were being made tonight, that we can show you what the president actually meant based on what he said in the past and what he said yesterday. So we're going to do that. And also with the clumsy cover today comes the first wave of those who will defend the president, and we have them on tonight. A lawmaker here who says he believes the president and he wants to make the case to the audience. We're going to test it.

COOPER: All right. Chris, appreciate it. Look forward to that.

A stunning claim also, what one U.K. lawmaker is saying now about Facebook voter data collected by Cambridge Analytica and the potential ties to Russia.


[20:56:07] COOPER: There's new information tonight about Cambridge Analytica, of the data mining company that helped Donald Trump get elected. CNN has learned that the Facebook user data gathered by Cambridge Analytica was actually accessed from within Russia according to the chairman of a committee in the British parliament. This potentially has big implications here in the U.S. in light of Russian interference in the last presidential election.

Here is CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was marketed as a breakthrough in how to motivate, change people's minds, and manipulate them to vote or not vote in an election. Using the personal Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans, Cambridge Analytica developed a voter-targeting technique aimed at specifically targeting individual voters who would receive messages on their Facebook feeds, group chats, and even personal communications. And it turns out the Russians were paying attention.

DAMIAN COLLINS, COMMITTEE CHAIR, BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY: The information commissioner in the U.K. is saying that she believes that the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data was accessed by people in Russia, and we don't yet know --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): In Russia.

COLLINS: -- in Russia. We don't yet know who they were and what they accessed and whether they took that data or what they did with it. But that link has been established through the ICO investigation. So clearly it will be really important to understand exactly what the level of access was of people in Russia to this Facebook data and what they did with it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Damian Collins is a British member of parliament for the Conservative Party, whose committee is running an almost identical investigation as his U.S. counterparts looking at Russian meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum. It has focused largely on controversial Facebook user data. The data analytics firm of Cambridge Analytica and a data scientist named Alexander Kogan.

COLLINS: Who created the tools and the apps that allowed Cambridge Analytica to receive a large amount of Facebook user data.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alexander Kogan delivered the data to Cambridge Analytica and now CNN has learned he may have perhaps unwittingly allowed access to that same Facebook data to Russian actors. Kogan began working four years ago on a joint project at Russia's St. Petersburg University sponsored by the Russian government. Kogan, who is a U.S. citizen, did not want to do an on-camera interview but told CNN, on my side, I'm not aware of any Russian entity with access to my data.

He questioned anyone's conclusion that someone accessing his data in Russia means actual Russian agents were involved. It could have nothing to do with the Russian authorities, he told us. It could just be someone checking their mailbox.

To British investigators, it's just one more unexplained link between the Russians, Cambridge Analytica, and the targeting of voters by Russians in both the U.S. and the U.K.

COLLINS: So is it possible indirectly that the Russians learned from Cambridge Analytica and used that knowledge to run ads in America during the presidential election as well? That is something clearly that will be of huge interest and -- but it's still the subject of ongoing investigation.


GRIFFIN: And what we don't know, Anderson, is what kind of data was accessed. We know the Russians were interested in Kogan's work. Kogan himself tells us tonight, listen, I didn't bring data over there with personal information after I started working with Cambridge Analytica. All of this seems to be in the hands of the British investigators who are intently looking at Cambridge Analytica.

COOPER: Yes. Fascinating story. Drew thanks very much. Appreciate it.

The news continues right now. I'm going to hand it over to Chris. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Thank you, my friend.

I am Chris Cuomo, and welcome to "PRIME TIME." From bad to verse. Was Trump really just a word away from what he meant to say?

I know everybody's talking about this, but we believe we can show you the truth of would versus wouldn't. We have it all laid out and then you can judge.

So with Trump's clumsy cover story comes his staunchest defenders. We have a Republican lawmaker here to make the case that Trump is on your side. Now many on the left are saying there's a deeper, darker truth about Trump and Putin. Like what? We bet what's out there and advance the case.