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World Leaders Not Happy with Trump's Helsinki Summit; Russian Millennial Charge for Spying in the U.S; French Team Celebrates Victory. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 17, 2018 - 03:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: The U.S. list of officials condemning the president's statements it is growing after he seemed to side with Russia on a rage of very thorny issues. In Russia, though, a very different take. Their foreign minister calling the summit magnificent and better than super.

We'll see what other people are saying in Russia and around the world.

Plus, this hour, the spectacular home coming for the heroes of France. Look at that, they're on the St. Elysee, a party for its World Cup champions.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

And around the world, good day to you. The summit shocker in Helsinki, Finland, that's where we begin with the president's performance there, it is drawing criticism from diplomats around the world and from Democrats and Republicans here in the States.

Donald Trump had the chance to confront his Russian counterpart on the issue of interference in the U.S. election, Mr. Trump, though, brushed aside the notion despite mountains of evidence.

As our Jeff Zeleny reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With the eyes of the world on Helsinki, President Trump accepted the word of Vladimir Putin over the evidence of the intelligence community and Justice Department that Russia attacked American democracy.


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


ZELENY: It was an extraordinary moment in American history. A new chapter in the long rocky road of U.S.-Russia relations. It wasn't the president's repeated denial of election interference that through Republican condemnation, but the fact that he did so at Putin's side.


TRUMP: It was a clean campaign, I beat Hillary Clinton easily, and frankly, we beat her and I'm not even saying from the standpoint, we won that race, and it's a shame that there could be a little bit of a cloud over it.


ZELENY: Going in to the summit, it seems Putin's biggest victory would be his reentry on the world stage away from his isolation, yet in the end Trump offered a far bigger gift, suggesting that the slate be wiped clean of Putin's old misdeeds and atrocities. And he blasted the special counsel's investigation into election meddling.


TRUMP: I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe be is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart. It's kept us separated; there was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.


ZELENY: The president repeated that point again and again.


TRUMP: Zero collusion. I say it all the time, there was no collusion. There was no collusion with the campaign.


ZELENY: Putin echoed those words.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We should be guided by facts. Can you name a single fact that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense.


ZELENY: The two leaders met privately with only interpreters in the room for about two hours, that's when the topic of election meddling came up with no other aides to hear the conversation.

As Democrats, Republicans, and officials from within the Trump government expressed disbelief, Russia had another view.

The Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calling the summit "magnificent and better than super." Trump start today cooling his heels after Putin's plane landed nearly an hour later than scheduled. A diplomatic delay perhaps, making clear the summit was on Putin's time. By day's end, Putin answered another lingering question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

PUTIN (through translator): Yes, I did. Yes, I did.


ZELENY: But that of course is not what Trump has been arguing for more than two years. He has consistently said that Russia wanted to elect Hillary Clinton because she would be softer on them. He said that he would be the tough one. That of course was dispelled at the presidential palace when Putin said himself that he supported Trump to become the 45th president.

Now as President Trump flying back to Washington, already trying to explain some of what happened here in Helsinki. Saying he has great respect for his intelligence community, but he said it's important for the two world nuclear powers to get along. The fallout from the summit will continue for weeks, if not longer to come.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Helsinki.

HOWELL: Thank you. The White House as it typically does, sent out talking points to Republican surrogates to deflect the criticism of President Trump, but the condemnation of his comments has been scathing.

[03:04:57] Among the most damning comes from the former CIA director, John Brennan who said this. "Donald trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous."

But even leading Republicans of the U.S. Congress was speaking out against the president's statements. The House Speaker Paul Ryan, who rarely criticizes President Trump said this, "The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals."

And Ryan is not the only Republican calling out Mr. Trump's comments.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: What the president said today is not accurate. The intelligence community has assembled probably an unparallel amount of evidence in regards to the Russian not just efforts to interfere in 2016 but ongoing efforts to interfere in American society.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I just felt like the president's comments made us look as a nation more like a push over. And I was disappointed in that. I just don't know what it is about the president that continues to deny that that occurred.

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: I've seen the Russian intelligence and you know, manipulate many people in my career, and I never would have thought the U.S. president would be one of them. So, it's disappointing.

I mean, also the press conference showed why Vladimir Putin is so formidable when it's coming to disinformation. Because I actually believe that press conference was disinformation.


HOWELL: After his meeting with President Trump, Vladimir Putin sat down for an interview and he denied Russian interference in the 2016 election and seemed to justify the hacking of the Democratic Party. Pointing out the information in the stolen e-mails was true. Listen closely.


PUTIN (through translator): They hacked a certain e-mail account and there was an information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to you know, incline the process in favor of a one candidate. And as far as I know, the entire party leadership resigned. They admitted the fact of the manipulation.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: But, Mr. President, may I just say, you are indicating that they stole real money not counterfeit money. So, are you saying that it's OK, because the facts that they took from the DNC, from John Podesta, it was their real e-mail, so it's OK to hack and spread disinformation out and interfere with the election?

PUTIN (through translator): Well, listen to me, please. The information that I am aware of, there's nothing false about it. Every single grain of it is true, and the Democratic leadership admitted it.


HOWELL: A lot to examine here with our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, live in Helsinki. All things considered, the president said nothing negative about his Russian counterpart and leads some to question his own allegiance about his values to western allies to the United States. How is that being perceived first of all on the broader world stage as it is being perceive in Russia, and Nic, how is it being perceive back home here in the States with allies?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Number one, Russia seems to be taking it as a success. Perhaps no surprise in that. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister leaving Helsinki yesterday calling it marvelous better than they hope. More broadly I think perhaps one thing that informs us at the moment,

not just President Trump of course calling in to question, his own intelligence services. Although he is saying, you know, in subsequent tweets he is back tracking on that. This is typical of how he handles his situations like this where he leans forward one way and then says, no, I don't really mean it later.

It really very much leaves the United States allies in a position saying well, if he can't trust his own intelligence services, how can he trust us, allies we're informed by our intelligence services, how can we therefore trust him to look out for the interests of his allies if he is really pursuing a very, very narrow focus here that doesn't respect the understanding and thoughts of his own security services and therefore, the United States national strategic security interests.

And I think perhaps one way we can read that this morning is, where is that stunning, ringing, endorsement of President Trump's allies saying, well done, Mr. Trump. You have really put a line in the sand for President Putin. You've really stopped our concerns, you've really stepped up to the plate for NATO here. You've really brought this home to President Putin.

Because of course, President Putin isn't accused just of meddling in the U.S. elections. He's been accused of meddling in the Brexit vote in the U.K. in British elections, in German elections and other elections in the European Union amongst the United States allies.

[03:10:08] So, I think the very fact that we haven't heard anything yet from President Trump's allies in Europe, is an indication of their concern as they try to figure out how much they can really trust President Trump going forward when he doesn't trust his own intelligence services.

HOWELL: Well, is there any value with the fact that President Trump did push back. He did say that he supports U.S. intelligence agencies despite all the things that we heard there at the podium, Nic?

ROBERTSON: Sure, I mean, look, he did that on the plane on the way home. But we saw him did that last week in the U.K. on Friday, the Britain worked up to a scathing article and interview with President Trump in the tabloid newspaper, The Sun. Undermining British Prime Minister Theresa May and undermining her in her efforts to extricate Britain from the European Union, the Brexit.

As we've seen that have political ramifications. Just yesterday in the U.K. Theresa May force to sort of try to change course on her Brexit plan in part undoubtedly because of the wealth of opinion that has fomented under President Trump's own intervention into domestic U.K. affairs.

She won the vote in the house of parliament to support amendments she was making to those plans for Brexit, 303 votes to 300. That is the narrowest, narrowest of margin. So, there's already an indication there of how once President Trump says something, it has an impact. So going back to that day, Friday, hours later after those headlines appeared. President Trump in a press conference with Theresa May, apologized, said that he apologized her earlier in the day. He said that he supported Theresa May, she was a good prime minister supported what she was doing.

The reality is President Trump can tweet all he likes on the way back to Washington. But once the damage is done, it's done. And we've already seen that in the United States by this bipartisan criticism of President Trump and his position over President Putin. It's called into question, not just issues within domestic U.S. politics that we already know are so divided.

But it's calling into question his broader global alliances. Strategic aims. America first, that the Europeans were beginning to get used to the idea of, it's beginning to look even more toxic to them before, because they don't know if they are going to be listened to, believed, trusted or even counted in the calculations that the United States makes on its way forward.

HOWELL: Many critics saying this certainly was not America first. Again, that was the slogan, that was the winning slogan for the U.S. president, rather, it seemed to be President Putin first. Really, according to many of the critics.

Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Now, a few hours after that summit in Helsinki and after the news conference, we learn that a Russian woman attending graduate school in Washington had been arrested and accused of spying. The allegation links her to the 2016 presidential election.

Our Sara Murray reports.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The latest piece in a dizzying spree of Russia news, the U.S. government charging 29-year- old Russian national Maria Butina with being a spy for the Russian government here in the United States.

Butina was arrested on Sunday and appeared in court here in D.C. on Monday. The Justice Department announced that she was charged with conspiring against the U.S. as a foreign agent. According to court filings and previous CNN reporting, Butina spent years trying to make inroads with Republican Party leaders, politicians, and business leaders to promote Russian interests.

She and her mentor Kremlin link Alexander Torshin had close ties with the leadership of the National Rifle Association and appeared used that group as their primary avenue of influence.

The NRA didn't respond to request for comment.

During the presidential campaign, she and Torshin even tried to arrange a covert back channel of communication between then candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although it doesn't appear they were successful. Butina's arrest is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and it offer yet another glimpse at how Moscow is trying to influence the U.S. political climate ahead of the 2016 election.

In April 2018, the U.S. slapped Torshin and other Russian officials with sanctions. As for Butina, her lawyer insists she is not a Russian agent, but rather a bright graduate student living in the U.S. and trying to foster a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

"There is simply no indication of Butina trying to influence or undermine any specific policy or law of the United States. Only at most to promote a better relationship between the two nations." Her lawyer said in a statement.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Sara, thank you.

President Trump had nothing but praise for President Putin and that's alarming many in the European Union. A German official even says, it is time for a new strategy regarding the United States. We'll explore that ahead.

[03:15:01] Also in France, the World Cup champions. They paraded through the streets of the French capital as massive crowd came together to celebrate their victory. Stay with us.


HOWELL: The U.S. president is back in Washington, D.C., after his summit with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump, though, fending off criticism from all corners that he threw his own intelligence community under the bus.

At Monday's news conference in Helsinki, Mr. Trump said that he accepted President Putin's denial of any interference in the 2016 election, despite warnings to the contrary from his own director of national intelligence.


TRUMP: 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.


HOWELL: Mr. Trump' stunning comments made as he stood side-by-side with Vladimir Putin. Followed an already rocky trip against Europe, Mr. Trump slammed U.S. allies at the NATO summit in Brussels, accusing Germany of being a captive of Russia, and scolding members of the alliance for being delinquent on defense spending.

Then, it was then also went on to the U.K. where things didn't get any easier. In an interview with The Sun newspaper, he criticized the British Prime Minister Theresa May for not taking his advice on Brexit and then praised her foreign secretary, saying Boris Johnson would be a good prime minister.

The trump-Putin news conference may be ringing alarm bell in the European Union. And for that, reaction let's bring in CNN's Atika Shubert following the story in Berlin. Atika, Mr. Trump quoted as of saying the E.U. is a foe. That is quite a departure from what we've seen from many U.S. president.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's a complete reversal of U.S. policy really. Alarm bells have been ringing in Europe for quite a while now and it's just the latest example of the U.S. president really turning his back on what used to be his most steadfast allies.

[03:19:57] What we heard over the, yesterday, in fact, from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas here in Germany was they told a local newspaper that Germany can no longer rely on the White House.

Now, that is an extraordinary statement. But, it comes off the back of this extraordinary, you know, press conference, we saw out of Helsinki, Finland, and it really echoes what Germany has been warning for some time now.

Just four months into the Trump administration Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany can't rely on its former ally, and this has increasingly become evident, especially over the weekend during that NATO summit when Trump went in attacking the Germany's chancellor, you know, basically berating U.S. allies and then going in to this Helsinki summit with President Putin.

And you know, making it clear that as far as he seems concerned that Russia -- the United States is closer to Russia than it is to the E.U. and that is really an extraordinary reversal of the politics in this region.

HOWELL: Well, Atika, the question then, so what will the response be given this, again, departure from president.

SHUBERT: Well, this is something that has been discussed at the highest level. How do deal with President Trump, essentially. And the answer seems to be at least from Germany, and this is something articulated by the foreign minister here. That what is required is a stronger, a stronger European Union and one that is united.

And that means getting all 28 members on board as a bloc in dealing with President Trump and the White House. So what we've seen increasingly is Germany and France, getting, you know, getting into line, standing shoulder to shoulder in their positioning, which really tries to takes a firm stand with President Trump during the NATO summit.

You saw that and you saw that not really reacting to this sort of bullying tactics by President Trump, but firmly stating, listen, this is what NATO is about, we are aiming for things like this, you know, 2 percent GDP and other things that he demanded, but basically saying the E.U. stands united. That has to be the key message. The question is, whether it can continue to do so, with continued attacks by President Trump.

HOWELL: Atika Shubert, live in Berlin. Atika, thank you.

Now, there is one place where the Trump-Putin summit is being described as an unqualified success. That would be Russia. The Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov called the talks magnificent and better than super.

As our Sam Kiley reports, Kremlin friendly news outlets are portraying the American president as a friend of Russia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Russian pundits delighted no real challenge from Trump of Putin over Russia's allege meddling in his election.

And attempt to blame Russia, 12 people from Russia for the meddling in 2016, which was absolutely designed to tie Trump's hands. We had no room for maneuvering talks with Putin to turn the theme of meddling into the main topic of discussion between the two presidents. This attempt failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, can you imagine tomorrow's headline of the New York Times. It seems to me that it will be easy. I wanted Trump to win, this is what Putin said.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Russia there were no surprises from the Helsinki summit. Here people have come to expect to hear Putin and Trump sing the same tune. Take, for example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which was set up to defend against the Soviet threat. Donald Trump not much of a fan.


TRUMP: NATO is really there for Europe much more so than us. It helps Europe no matter what our military people and your military people say, helps Europe more than it helps us.


KILEY: Putin, happy to see frictions in the ranks of his rivals.


MEGYN KELLY, NBC HOST: President Putin, does all the squabbling over NATO help Russia?

PUTIN (through translator): Well, in a sense that maybe they should completely be falling apart. That will help. But we don't see that falling apart just yet.


KILEY: A former U.S. ambassador laid out the arguments.


ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Putin sees NATO as the main obstacle to his efforts to kind of re-divide Europe. He doesn't like the European Union for the same reason, because it's spreading democratic values to places like Ukraine and Georgia. And Trump seems to see these institutions as problems, rather than bastions of the defense of freedom.


KILEY: When Eastern European nations flooded into the European Union following the end of the Cold War, Putin was furious and he sought to undermine it ever since. Trump also names the E.U. as a rival.


TRUMP: I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in a trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe.


KILEY: A dozen Russian secret agents have been indicted by Robert Mueller's special council for trying to hack and disrupt the U.S. elections.

[03:25:00] Trump insists that this is a witch hunt and fake news. Putin agrees but admits that they did work for Russian interests.


PUTIN (through translator): Hackers are free spirited people like artists. If they are in a good mood in the morning, they wake up and paint. It is to say for hackers. They wake today; they read that something is happening in the interstate relations. And if they are patriotically minded they start making their contributions.


KILEY: But given this bromance between these world leaders, Trump's critics and America's allies remain fearful that the U.S. president himself has been hacked by a master of that dark art.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.

HOWELL: Sam Kiley, thank you.

Now to France, an energized group of people, big crowds welcomed home the French World Cup champions on Monday. The French team gave a memorable performance throughout the competition topping it off with a 4-2 win over Croatia in the final on Sunday. Now, right down the St. Elysee, take a look the thousands of people

who came together to greet the French team. The players rode through the streets on an open topped bus. Heavy security though, kept the crowds in a distance.

And then there was a special air show. Several fighter jets flew over Paris, leaving behind a trail of blue, white and red. The players changed in to their suits before heading to the Elysee Palace to meet with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

CNN's Melissa Bell has more.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The French team that have just made their way into the Elysee Palace at the end of this extraordinary journey from the airport. The first time that they have had a chance to see all of those many hundreds of thousands of fans who have been rooting them on.

In the searing heat yesterday and the fans runs today on the St. Elysee to welcome their heroes back. To Paris now, they are inside with Emmanuel Macron where they will be spending the next few hours some time alone with the French president, but also a garden party with some 3,000 guests including about 1500 youngsters who have been invited to come here today to meet the men who become not only their heroes, but the heroes of an entire country.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

HOWELL: Thank you. And in the capital of Croatia's Zagreb, take a look at this big, big crowd, no shortage of love. The Croatian team they were given a hero's welcome in the capital city despite losing to France.

Tens of thousands of people came together in Zagreb's main square, welcoming the players home, chanting champions, champions. The team greeted fans in an open topped bus. The crowds were able to get close enough for autographs and even that occasional selfie.

The prime minister, who openly supported the team, tweeted, "Croatia was proud of its heroes."

Now the fallout from the Trump-Putin summit it continues. Some tough words for the U.S. president from members of his own party. We'll look at how his America first agenda wasn't really America first there on the stage.

Also, despite talk of a ceasefire, there's been a surge in violence on the Israel-Gaza border. The latest measures being taken to diffuse the situation.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: A warm welcome back to our viewers from around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom, live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you. This hour, the U.S. President facing harsh criticism for refusing to challenge his Russian counterpart for interference in the 2016 U.S. Election. The U.S. Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia did orchestrate cyberattacks and just last week, 12 Russian officers were indicted on charges related to that very issue.

Now hours after that summit, after the news conference, the U.S. Justice Department revealed the arrest of a Russian national, accused of conspiring to act against the U.S. as a spy. The U.S. alleges 29 year-old Maria Butina, worked with two unnamed U.S. citizens and a Russian official, trying to influence U.S. politics and infiltrate the National Rifle Association, her attorney denies the charges.

In the United Kingdom, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, won a series of votes in parliament, after giving in to pressure from Brexit supporters on her customs bill. The major creates an independent customs policy after Britain leave the European Union, but the Junior Defense Minister voted against the government and resign, he is now the tenth conservative to quit over the Brexit plan.

Back to the summit that took place in Helsinki. Let's take a closer look at Donald Trump's comments on Russian hacking, during the news conference, following Monday's meeting with Vladimir Putin a reporter asked about Russian interference and here is the exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now, that President Putin denied having anything to do with the Russian interference in 2016, and every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What, who, my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? The second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven't they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I have been wondering about that and asking that for months and months and I had been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media, where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying. With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me Dan Coats, Dan Coats came to me, and some others they said they think its Russia and I have President Putin, he just said it is not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.


HOWELL: The U.S. President there now, on the flight home from Finland, Mr. Trump tried to curb the criticism, tweeting that he had great confidence in his intelligence people. Earlier the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, issued a strong defense for the intel community. Saying this. If we have been clear in our assessment of the Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.

Let's dig deeper on this, with James Nixey. James is the head of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Chatham House. Live in our London bureau. A pleasure to have you here on the show. Given the president's performance on the world stage, it laid bare, clearly the rift between his approached to Mr. Putin at the expense of his own U.S. Intelligence. Many lawmakers upset by what they saw on that stage. Does that put more pressure on President Trump?

JAMES NIXEY, HEAD OF THE RUSSIA AND EURASIA PROGRAM, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, clearly it does, I mean, the contrast is astonishing, isn't it? You have a vast majority of American establishment, giving President Trump an absolute rollicking for his performance at the press conference. And at the same time you have an extraordinary degree as you might imagine of course, in a state like Russia of unified support from Vladimir Putin very skillful depth of discipline performance. So, yes, all of the pressure is on one side and in some, a big win for Russia.

HOWELL: The optics of all of this standing next to the U.S. president, talking about Russian meddling, saying we have been foolish too. I want to listen to that exchange.

[03:35:07] OK, we may not have that sound bite, but it essentially said what I just said. The President of the United States saying, we have been foolish too. And we have heard from other lawmakers saying there is no equivalence between United States and Russia. Helps square the circle of the President's view of a relationship with Russia.

NIXEY: Well, your President's view of Russia is an enigma to many. What I would say is that, Vladimir Putin's view of the west is actually fairly straight forward. And fairly predictable. Fairly constant. So while Trump, he meanders and he says one thing and tweets another and does another. Then for Vladimir Putin, he is quite clear, but he is not a fan of the west. He does not like our rules, he does not like what we stand for. He does not like what he see as overall control over the world. And he is trying to change that order and Trump, to a great degree, is helping him on the basis of that. Trump is doing Vladimir Putin's job for him by causing the rifts in the west.

HOWELL: So, you know, we understand clearly that many in the White House are struggling to make sense of this performance by President Trump, saying essentially that really wasn't part of the plan and the reaction was seen from this it is quite swift. I want you to take a look at this front cover here of the Daily News that basically tells the story there. You have heard that line from President Trump that he could shoot anyone on Fifth Avenue, I'm paraphrasing poorly, but still get votes. Well?

Well, shooting Uncle Sam there and holding the Russian President's hand. Your thoughts. What is your take on that?

NIXEY: Oh, I'm sorry, I cannot actually see the picture in front of you. But what I would say, is that I agree that you do seem to have a very Teflon like President. What he is says, and what he does. Even, does not seem to significantly affect his own performance. All those views of partisan nature of United States amendment. While again in contrast in America you see a situation -- sorry, in Russia -- I am sorry, you see a situation where by, what the state media feeds the population is sucked up and there is a great degree of control. You have to remember that Vladimir Putin still enjoys popularity rating in the late (inaudible) slips a bit and see his reincarnation in March, but the overall level of control that Russian media and the kremlin exhorts over the whole country, is far greater than that in your country.

HOWELL: the last question I have for you. We understand clearly that Russia is pleased by what they saw. How important was this for President Putin? Again, who has been focused on reasserting Russian, you know, stature on the world stage.

NIXEY: Yes, and you know, great job, Vladimir Putin. You have to say, he, already by getting the summit to be agreed upon in the first place, he set himself up among the American gods if you like, and he brought Russia, for 12th largest economy only in the world. On to a par. On to a level with that of the United States, and at the same time, he looked more confident, more capable and more skillful than he his opponent, so, for Russia, it has really just achieved, it's not by having a degree of content in the summit, because as far as we can tell, I am certainly judging from the press conference, there was not any but certainly and from the optics point of view, as you said is, then this is clearly a big win for Russia.

HOWELL: It will be interesting looking back at this in hindsight, you know, how significance this summit was that the Russian President and the U.S. President undertook. Thank you so much. We will keep in touch with you.

NIXEY: Thank you.

HOWELL: President Trump has long touted the slogan America first. However his actions say differently. He slammed the U.S. allies like the European Union and the U.K., and he has embraced Russian President, just days after the U.S. indicted Russian intelligence officers. Our Jack Tapper, puts it in perspective for us.


TRUMP: It is going to be only America first, America first.

JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Putting America first, it was a sure fire applause line.

TRUMP: America first.


TAPPER: But when it comes to Russia, the president's priority don't quite match his MAGA message.

TRUMP: I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we all had been foolish.

TAPPER: Ahead of his Helsinki summit with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, President Trump took care to not offend, opting instead to attack his own countrymen. And in hopes of improving relations with the Kremlin.

[03:40:01] Our relationship with Russia has never been worst, thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity. And now, the rigged witch hunt the president tweeted mere hours before the meeting. Well, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we agree. Blaming the investigation in to the cyberattack by the Russians and not the cyberattack itself. America first indeed. Less than a week ago, Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, announced indictments against 12 Russian military intelligence officers. For allegedly interfering in the U.S. election. Today, President Trump defended Russia's leader.

TRUMP: 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.

TAPPER: Under President Trump, there had been serious moves contrary to Russian government desires. Providing lethal weapons to Ukrainians. Ejecting Russian diplomats from the U.S. and continued sanctions, but President Trump has allowed these moves reluctantly and the former reality TV star turned president knows the power of showmanship and his most public messages are, to Russia, with love.

TRUMP: I call them a competitor, and a good competitor he is. Trump's arrival at Helsinki came after a tense visit to America's closest allies in Brussels and in the United Kingdom. A trip he capped Sunday with this comment to CBS.

TRUMP: I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.

TAPPER: He gave the same distinction to Russia and to China, but on State TV in Moscow, this was all portrayed as an unexpected gift.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (TRANSLATOR): It's not USSR or Russia that is driving a wedge between transatlantic allies, and the USSR kind a do that many times, but their chief, Washington and the President of the U.S. who is doing everything to break the foundation of the transatlantic alliance and Union.

TAPPER: President Trump doing more to dismantle the U.S. NATO alliance than any Soviet leader had ever hope to accomplish. But should any of this really be a surprise? Throughout his campaign, President Trump constantly made a moral equivalence between the United States and Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, he kills journalists that don't agree with him.

TRUMP: No, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.

TAPPER: Still even with that campaign rhetoric, it was stunning today when President Trump sided with Putin over Americans including over his own intelligence chiefs. When asked, who he believe. Jake Tapper, CNN, in Helsinki, Finland.


HOWELL: After a flare up of violence, new restrictions from Israel. Still ahead, the heightened tensions in Gaza.


HOWELL: Israel is tightening restrictions on Gaza, after a weekend of escalated violence, no fuel is being allowed to pass through the border crossing until Sunday. Following this story, our Ian Lee is live in Jerusalem, Ian, there's been violence, for sure. We have seen the escalations intentions there, what impact might this have on what we have seen, these fire balloons and things of that nature?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, this impact is -- could have the potential of escalating the situation further. We have heard from Hamas officials who condemned this move. They say, that this is disproportionate to these fire kites and fire balloons that had been flying from Gaza into Israel that are creating brush fires and Israel's says, they take that very seriously. We heard from the Prime Minister who said that they consider them on the same level as rockets and mortars going over.

But really what we are really witnessing here is the slow steady simmering of the situation in Gaza. That can definitely boil over from time to time, we have seen that really a number of times if you look back since March. Where have you these escalation of violence. Most noticeably last Saturday. When over 200 rockets and mortars are fired into Israel. Israel responded with the largest areal campaign. But this is something that is not likely to go away.

And with that, George, it always has the potential of getting out of control and leading to another war. That is why you have on the diplomatic front, Egypt also trying very hard to kind of keep tensions low, but this is just the latest step. Israel believes that this can really pressure Hamas stopping those fire kites and fire balloons. And note that is only until Sunday. At least that is according to Israel's defense ministry that that fuel will roll, restart, but Gaza depends heavily on that for their electricity.

And Israel said they are going to still would allow food and medical supplies in on a case by case basis, but this is Israel trying to put the squeeze on the Gaza Strip, on the Gaza militants. It's hard to say what affect will have if they will act to Israel or they will take the opposite approach and continue what they are doing potentially escalating the situation further, George.

HOWELL: Ian Lee, live in Jerusalem. Ian, thank you so much. The Brexit campaign group, known as Vote Leave is accused of breaking electoral law. The U.K. Electoral Commission said, Vote Leave and another group called, Be-Leave, that they worked together but dint declare their common plan and did not obey spending limits. Legal spending limits. Nina Dos Santos is following this story live in London. Nina, look,

there's always been skepticism, an examination of the lead-up to that referendum and the different campaigns that were pushing either side. And now, we have this. What is the implication and the fall out?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: well, this is quite a significant ruling here, when you look at the amount of money that these group has being fined. It is not a huge amount, although it is significant in the historical president, George. We are talking about Vote Leave having been fined more than $70,000, for over spending and misreporting some of it spending. Throughout the course of the 2016 E.U. referendum, which it was the main campaign group advocating people votes to leave the European Union. And what is really significant about it, as you pointed out in your introduction, it seems that these groups are three groups in fact, vote leave, be leave, and also another separate group, whom veterans of Britain which is also Eurosceptic have been working together, pulling their resources, pulling some of their money and have not been clear about that.

So, let's start with the Vote Leave, accusations here and allegations made the Electoral Commission which has now ruled against them, probably it seems that they may want to appeal to this. They have said that they have referred them to the police for that over spend and they found that they were about more than a quarter of a million pounds worth of expenses that were misreported and more than 12,000 pounds worth of invoices that seem to be missing in that particular campaign and then there was also, the other campaign called Be-Leave that you were talking about before run by a essentially a fashion student called Darren Grimes.

It was found that he has also been fined and separately reported to the police for breaking the group's spending limits by more than 665,000 pounds of wrong reporting here. So, these are very significant figures for individuals who won't politically, very politically active on the scene before. And also remember, the main funnel for money to the Leave campaign was of course Aaron Banks who wave more those two political activist to friends of Nigel Farad, friends of Donald Trump, those also two individuals who over the last month or so has transpired had a significant number of interactions with the Russian embassy in London.

[03:50:19] So again there will be questions about Russian interference here in the Brexit campaign and questions about why this money was misreported and overspent as well.

HOWELL: If you could remind our viewers around the world, how we first learned about this. Through the reporting, the examination of these two groups?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, well it's interesting that you mentioned that, because it seems that, essentially we know about it, because whistle blowers came to the fore. This is to do with spending on software, polling software and so on, so forth. You remember the whole Cambridge Analytica, whistleblower Debacle, well, it also seems that though one of this groups have spent a very large amount of money on the base on some of the software called aggregate I.Q and that again will cause people to examine how some of these software's and some of these companies have been active in the referendum in the European Union.

Now I just want to -- I have not a chance to get into earlier on, and what is interesting about the statement that comes out of the Electoral Commission is that they say, essentially, George, that both of these two groups have been given an opportunity to offer somebody up for interview as part of these investigation and staunchly refused to cooperate. Well, obviously these groups, Vote Leave have said on their side, they don't believe that they agree with any of the findings. Largely because they have not been given the opportunity to give information to the Electoral Commission.

So, one side says one thing, another one says the other, but what is significant about this particular finding is as you said, it seems as though, various groups work together, and that in term broke the amount of money that the spending limits that you could put into a campaign like this at such a pivotal time and as I said, again it raises questions about the source of some of these funds. But -- to this big Brexit campaign, George.

HOWELL: All right. Nina Dos Santos, thank you so much for the detail there. And the reporting. We will obviously follow that story.

Back in a moment here on CNN Newsroom, we will tell you about the gift the Russian President gave to his American counterpart at the close of their summit, stay with us.


HOWELL: Between the diplomacy and the controversy, the Russian President score points with the U.S. president at their summit when he brought out a special gift, a commemorative world cup football. Our Jeanne Moos has more on the action on the Helsinki pitch. Thank you very much.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If there was a World Cup first soccer compliment, President Trump would deserve it for the praise he done Russia's hosting.

TRUMP: One of the best ever. Great job.

MOOS: And suddenly from the sidelines of the summit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking on the football actually.

MOOS: A ball materialized.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): Mr. President, I will give you this ball to you and the now the ball is in your court.

MOOS: President Trump seemed pleased, patting it affectionately.

TRUMP: That is very nice. That will go to my son, Baron. We have no question, in fact Melania, here you go.

[03:55:00] MOOS: The U.S. ambassador to Russia got it on the bounce and pass it to Melania, who held it in her lap. But some saw a Trojan horse. Rather than ball.

Tweeted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, if it were me, I would checked the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House. One reporter tweeted, I just saw a U.S. secret service agent put the soccer ball, Putin gave Trump through a security scanner. Some compares the ball to the reset button. Secretary of State Clinton once gave the Russian foreign minister.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it wrong.

CLINTON: I got it wrong.


MOOS: It is hard to go wrong with a ball. No there were jokes, but at least nobody at the summit dropped the ball.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

How could I miss that one? New York. Maybe you should stand further away.



HOWELL: Jeanne, thank you. And as you can imagine the late night comedians had their own brand of fun with the Trump/Putin summit. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin said that the meeting went very well, in fact, it went so well that Putin said he may make Trump President for another four years.

If you are wondering whether or not Vladimir Putin has an incriminating video of Donald Trump, we now beyond a treasonable doubt that he does.

Have you ever seen an American so owned by a Russian, since Rocky IV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that press conference was the single most embarrassing performance by an American President on the world stage that I have ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, the most embarrassing performance by an American President. Do you know how hard that is? President George H.W. Bush once threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister and Trump is now on top.


HOWELL: Thank you so much for being with us, I am George Howell, the news continues, with my colleague, Max Foster, live in London.