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Putin Says No False Information Was Planted in Hacking of Democrats; Trump Gets Cozy with Putin after Bashing NATO; Russian with Close Ties to NRA Charged with Conspiring Against U.S. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 17, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:19] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Disgraceful, played, bizarre, shameful. And that's just from Republicans. Allies from Capitol Hill to Fox News ripping the president's appeasement to Vladimir Putin.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin with the president back in Washington this morning after that summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin. It capped an overseas trip that could go down as one of the most damaging in American history.

The president fending off widespread condemnation this morning that he sold out the intelligence community with his answer to this question.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What -- who -- my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?

TRUMP: 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?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. 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.


ROMANS: The president also holding, quote, "both countries" responsible when asked if Russia is to blame for anything.

The joint news conference met with condemnation that was swift, broad, unrelenting even from voices normally in the president's corner.

BRIGGS: Dozens of Republicans spoke out against the president's comments including leaders of the House and Senate. Among the strongest rejections was this, from gravely ill senator, John McCain. He called the news conference one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. It is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

ROMANS: The top headline at the "Drudge Report" giving Putin credit for dominating the summit. Newt Gingrich tweeting the president's comments were the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected immediately.

There was more of the same on Fox News. Sean Hannity spoke to the president and did not bring up Trump's earlier statement about election interference but many at the network did.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Trump clearly should not have created any semblance of moral equivalency between our intel community, even if it has its flaws, which it does, and the assurances of Vladimir Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the time and the place for the president to look Putin squarely in the eye and said you will be punished for what you did in 2016 and don't ever think about doing that again.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX BUSINESS NEWS: But he didn't. And that's what made it disgusting. That's what made his performance disgusting. I'm sorry, this is the only way I feel. It's not a right or left thing. This is wrong. A U.S. president on foreign soil talking to our biggest enemy or adversary, or competitor. I don't know how we define him these days. He's essentially letting the guy get away with this.


BRIGGS: Neil Cavuto there. Also Fox host Abby Huntsman, the daughter of U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman who was at yesterday's meeting, tweeted this. "No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and the country under the bus."

And there was this perspective from Fox contributor Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary, tweeted that, "Trump only sees Russia interference through the lens of whether he won or lost." Fleischer writes, "That should not blind him to how wrong it was for Russia to interfere. I believe Mueller and the intel community. Trump should, too."

ROMANS: Intel community leaders standing by assessments of the Russian threat like Trump appointed director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who said Friday warning lights are blinking. He reaffirmed after the summit, "We have been clear in our assessment of 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."

Will the president heed that advice, is the big question here. Response in the media almost as fierce like this "New York Daily News" cover "Open Treason."

BRIGGS: "Shooting Uncle Sam on Fifth Avenue While Holding Putin's Hand," even the normally Trump supportive "Wall Street Journal" editorial board saying the president showed weakness, quote, "Details from the private Trump-Putin talks in Helsinki will spill out in the coming days. But Monday's joint press conference was a personal and national embarrassment."

[04:35:02] "The Washington Post" went even further, quote, "In Helsinki, Mr. Trump again insisted there was no collusion with Russia, yet in refusing to acknowledge the plain facts about Russia's behavior while trashing his own country's justice system, Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile foreign power."

ROMANS: Now the president attempted damage control on the way back to Washington, tweeting, "As I said today and many times before, I have great confidence in my intelligence people." And as aides dealt with the fallout from the summit, the White House e-mailed talking points to Republican surrogates. Among them, the president won't let a focus on the past get in the way of future progress. That's the official talking point. One U.S. official directly involved in the summit put it this way, "This was not the plan."

BRIGGS: One would not imagine.

Vladimir Putin got a pass from President Trump, but not from Chris Wallace of Fox News.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: May I give this to you to look at, sir? Here.


BRIGGS: That was Wallace offering Putin a copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers. The exchange that followed was contentious with Mr. Putin apparently trying to justify the hacking of Democrats by arguing the information that was hacked and disseminated was true.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Was it some rigging of facts? Was it some forgery of facts? That's the important thing that I'm trying to -- a point that I'm trying to make. Was this any false information planted? No, it wasn't. WALLACE: May I just say, you're indicating that they stole real

money, not counterfeit money. So are you saying it's OK because the facts that they took from the DNC, from John Podesta, it was their real e-mails so it's OK to hack?

PUTIN (through translator): The information that I am aware of, there is nothing false about it. Every single grain of it is true and the Democratic leadership admitted it the first time. Now the second point. If you don't like my answer, you can give it to me straightaway and I'll just keep silence. And if you want Americans to listen to my opinion, could you please wait for a little bit?


ROMANS: Putin thought he was getting a softball interview. He was indeed wrong.

Let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Sam Kiley with reaction.

Sam, good morning.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I think that the reaction from the Kremlin is still cock-a-hoop. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, summed up I think the broad Russian reaction last night when he said that the whole process had been magnificent, better than super. They really doesn't get much more euphoric especially for Mr. Lavrov who is a man who likes to keep his cards normally very close to his chest.

That said, I think going forward the Russians will be starting to wonder whether or not this close relationship that they've managed to establish between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump has any material benefit in the form of perhaps lifting sanctions over the illegal annexation of Crimea, any movement perhaps on Syria, on some of those big ticket, big strategic issues. But essentially from the Russian perspective, this has all been a roaring success not least because going into this meeting there was already concern in a number of nations allied to the United States that normally do share intelligence that Donald Trump couldn't be trusted with it. And that certainly will be a position that will be continued to have by American allies.

BRIGGS: Sam Kiley, teaching us the word cock-a-hoop this morning. From Moscow. Thank you, sir. Good stuff.

ROMANS: Very pleased.

BRIGGS: Very pleased.

ROMANS: Thank you so much.

By cozying up to Vladimir Putin after bashing European leaders at the NATO summit, President Trump has forced at least one longtime ally to plot away forward without the United States.

Nic Robertson live in Helsinki and monitoring the latest developments. Bring us up to speed.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Christine, good morning. I think one of the newspaper headlines, too, in Helsinki really captures the mood here in this city at least. "Putin, 1, Trump, 0." And appears to say capitulation beneath it. That's the interpretation being placed on the summit here.

The Germans again saying what they've been saying more quietly behind the scenes of Europe, said it's time to set their own course, that the United States cannot be relied on. I think Helsinki may be in the rearview mirror will look as if it helped crystallize that European thinking that's been emerging. That the United States is no longer the partner they signed up to be standing beside.

Look, there's been the resounding sound of silence coming from European leaders today. President Trump said that he was coming here from a united NATO. These same nations you would expect to be applauding President Trump had he faced down Vladimir Putin, had he told the Russian leader not to meddle in U.S. elections.

[04:40:08] Because of course Putin has meddled in the German elections of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, caused her huge political difficulty. He has meddled in the Brexit referendum and general elections in the UK. Both these leaders, Theresa May in the UK, Angela Merkel came in for heavy criticism from President Trump before he got here to Helsinki. So the fact there is silence tells you a huge amount about what President Trump's NATO allies feel. If he cannot trust his own intelligence services, how can he trust the leaders of his principal allies?

ROMANS: This is all so remarkable. Nic Robertson for us in Helsinki, thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: Also at the Trump-Putin news conference President Trump answering a question about whether the ball is now in Russia's court on Syria by handing President Trump a soccer ball.

The World Cup just wrapped up in Russia. Putin said to Trump, "The ball is now in your court." The U.S. will host the tournament in 2026. President Trump said the ball could go to his son Barron and then tossed it to the first lady there. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and in a series of tweets critical of the summit saying, "I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House."

And probably a joke, but an interesting point indeed about Senator Lindsey Graham.


BRIGGS: President Trump was very complimentary of the World Cup. Went out of his way to flatter Putin.

ROMANS: He likes a good show.

BRIGGS: Yes, indeed. ROMANS: He likes a good show.

American politicians and world leaders are not the only ones stunned by the president's comments in Helsinki. Listen to the late-night comics.


TRUMP: Where are the servers? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying? Where is the server?

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": We know where the server is. He is standing right next to the master.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Putin did say that the meeting went very well. In fact it went so well that Putin said he might make Trump president for another four years.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": If you're wondering whether or not Vladimir Putin has an incriminating video of Donald Trump, we now know beyond a treasonable doubt that he does.

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a one-on-one meeting today that lasted over two hours. Ugh. Poor Trump. That is a long time to hang out with your boss.


ROMANS: It is really not funny, but it is funny.

BRIGGS: Well, Seth Meyers there.

All right. Just when it couldn't get more bizarre, a Russian national was charged with conspiring against the United States in the lead-up to the election.


[04:46:49] BRIGGS: Moments after President Trump gave Vladimir Putin a pass on Russia's election interference, the Justice Department was charging a Russian national with conspiring against the United States in the lead up to the 2016 election.

We get more now from CNN's Sara Murray in Washington.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest piece in a deviant spree of Russian 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 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 in-roads with Republican Party leaders, politicians and big league leaders to promote Russian interests. She and her mentor, Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin, had close ties with the leadership of the National Rifle Association and appeared to use that group as their primary avenue of influence. The NRA didn't respond to a request for comment.

During the presidential campaign, she and Torshin even tried to arrange a covert back channel of communication between with then candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, although it doesn't appear they were successful. As for Butina, her lawyer insists she is not a Russia 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.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: All right, thank you, Sara.

To money now, the U.S. challenging those tariffs from some of its trading partners. Further escalating trade tensions. The U.S. filed five separate complaints with the World Trade Organization disputing retaliatory tariffs from China, the EU, Mexico, Canada and Turkey. The tariffs target $24 billion in U.S. goods like steel, pork and produce. Their response to U.S. tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

In a statement, the U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer said, "Instead of working with us to address a common problem, some of our trading partners have elected to respond with retaliatory tariffs designed to punish American workers, farmers and companies." Lighthizer says retaliatory tariffs violate WTO rules. He justifies the U.S. metal tariffs because they were imposed on national security grounds.

Something that America's trading partners completely -- you know, they just think that it's crazy. I mean, like, why are Audis a national security threat to the United States? Or why would -- you know, if there were tariffs on foreign cars.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: Or why would Canadian steel or aluminum be a national security threat?

BRIGGS: Something Republican and Democratic senators have pushed back against strongly.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, if you ran into Amazon trouble yesterday on Prime Day you were not alone. More on the Prime Day problems. Will they persist? Next.


[04:54:08] ROMANS: A federal judge ordering the federal government to temporarily pause deportations of reunited families. The decision gives parents the opportunity to better understand their children's right to due process before they agree to be deported. All this after it was revealed that potentially hundreds of parents who were separated from their children at the border may have already been deported. More than 2500 children between ages of 5 and 17 remain separated from their parents. 2500. The parents of hundreds of kids have yet to be accounted for.

BRIGGS: In Hawaii, a frightening scene caught on video shows the moment a lava bomb hits a boat tour.

You can sure hear the terror, though you can't see much. The airborne hot lava punctured the boat's roof.

[04:55:02] The vessel immediately return to shore. Authorities say 23 people were injured, 13 victims were treated at the hospital. It's not clearly exactly where all this happened, but it is about an hour's boat ride from the harbor to where lava is plunging into the sea. The Kilauea Volcano started erupting back in early May.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. An Oregon woman who took a 250-foot plunge off a cliff lives to tell about it. Angela Hernandez was stuck on a remote beach in Big Sur, California, for seven days. In a Facebook post, Hernandez says she survived on rain water she collected and walked up and down the beach screaming for help. A husband and wife finally found her after discovering her destroyed vehicle. Hernandez even took a picture with the woman who found her. Hernandez was immediately taken to the hospital where she was treated for a brain hemorrhage, fractured bones, a collapsed lung and ruptured blood vessels.

BRIGGS: Bryce Harper is Major League Baseball's Homerun Derby champion. And he won the title in front of his hometown fans in dramatic fashion. The Washington Nationals star slugging nine homers in the final 47 seconds of regulation time to tie Kyle Schwarber before defeating the Cubs star with the towering blast in bonus time, 19-18.

There's a bit of controversy brewing online. Critics claim Harper's dad who was pitching broke the rules by not waiting for the previous ball to land before throwing the next pitch. But remember it's an exhibition and 2the home fans were clearly thrilled.

Rain and thunderstorms in the Northeast are good news because they're bringing some relief from the heat. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with the forecast.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Yes, much cooler weather across large areas of the northeast and well deserved certainly across this region as well. The Midwest beginning to see some cooler air filter in as well from the north and a front skirts in here that's going to start at least some severe weather. Generally speaking, though, from a scale of 1 to 5, it is a 1 and a 2. But the area indicated in yellow, home to some 31 million people in that zone, Portland, Boston, New York.

Areas around Newark also going to -- be getting in on some of these afternoon and evening storm. Damaging wind is the main concern but again can't rule out some large hail, sneaking into some of these storms as well. Notice we take you through the early afternoon hours. 2:30 p.m. Boston gets in on some initial storms.

Notice what happens as 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. approach, rush hour in New York City could get in on some of the heavier rainfall and then additional strong storms farther down the coastal areas there. So we're watching this with the humidity in advance of this feature, we're going to have to see these temps really rise and feel like about 93 in Philly, 90 in New York and almost 90 in Boston as well.

But once it passes, a little bit drier air and as a result, some cooler temperatures as well. 83 by Thursday in New York. About 77 across Boston -- guys.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that.

Let's get a check on CNN Money this morning. Global stocks mixed right now after Wall Street closed mostly lower. The S&P 500 falling thanks to a drop in energy stocks. Crude oil prices fell 4 percent on the news big producers are taking steps to help relieve tight global supply. And the U.S. is considering releasing oil which is stockpiled for emergencies.

Earnings season is in full swing this week. 60 S&P 500 companies report investors expect a strong season and profits should be about 20 percent higher than last year.

All right. Netflix added a whopping five million subscriptions last quarter. Five million new customers but that wasn't good enough. Shares fell 13 percent. Five million is one million fewer than Netflix had expected. It could signal that its strong momentum is slowing. Still Netflix had 130 million customers worldwide. It had a strong but not stellar second quarter.

What's not stellar for Netflix? $3.9 billion in sales. Up 40 percent from last year. Hollywood would love that kind of growth but Netflix is already an expensive stock. And Wall Street expectations are high. Shares are up 109 percent this year.

Amazon no doubt hoping the second half of Prime Day goes better than the first. Prime Day is Amazon's annual sales bonanza. The Web site suffered periodic outages right after the sale began yesterday. Instead of scoring deals, many shoppers saw an error page like this one featuring those cute little dogs of Amazon. Amazon worked quickly to resolve the issue.

Despite the problems, Amazon stock hit an all-time high. That means CEO Jeff Bezos is now worth $155 billion making him the richest person in modern history. For perspective Bezos is worth $55 billion more than the second richest person, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

BRIGGS: Wow. I get the golden retriever in my pursuit of headphones. But Amazon Prime, they continues throughout the day.

EARLY START continues right now with reaction from Republican senators to the Trump-Putin summit. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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


BRIGGS: Disgraceful, played, bizarre, shameful. That's just reaction from Republicans. Allies from Capitol Hill to Fox News ripping the president's appeasement to Vladimir Putin.