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Trump in Damage Control; Japan, E.U. Sign "Largest Bilateral Trade Deal Ever"; India Rape Outrage; Australian Scientists Developing Early Melanoma Test; Trump Back-Pedals On Russian Meddling Remarks after Bipartisan Outcry. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 18, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus Barack Obama's biggest speech since leaving office. His message about political strongmen and their trouble with the truth.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: Donald Trump is in full-on damage control mode after mounting criticism of his remarks at the summit with Vladimir Putin. The president says he misspoke during their news conference when he said he didn't see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election.

He meant to say he didn't see any reason why Russia wouldn't interfere. But as he spoke, Trump undercut the carefully scripted explanation when he ad-libbed that non-Russians could have interfered. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people also. It's a lot of people out there.


CHURCH: But the president's explanation is not satisfying many of his critics. Some say it's only made things worse. CNN's Boris Sanchez reports.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing fierce backlash after his stunning press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the president met with lawmakers at the White House this afternoon, reading from extensive prepared remarks.

TRUMP: I just wanted to clear up; I have the strongest respect for our intelligence agencies headed by my people.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Despite months of calling the investigations that led to evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election "witch hunts," Trump says he fully supports his intelligence agencies, despite appearing to side with Putin in Helsinki.

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. He just said, it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The president today attempting to clarify that remark.

TRUMP: And I thought it 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.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Sources close to the White House tell CNN the president was upbeat as he walked off the stage Monday. But after watching press coverage board Air Force One, sources say Trump became furious, fuming to aides about receiving scant support from Republicans over his performance. One rare voice defending the president, Senator Rand Paul on CNN.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Absolutely I'm with the president on this, the intelligence community was full of biased people, including Peter Strzok, McCabe and dozens of others. I don't think anybody doubts that the Russians got involved with leaking email and hacking into email.

But there is a question whether or not the election was legitimate. And all of this is a sideways way for those on the Left to try to delegitimize Trump and to say he didn't really win the election.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): The president responded on Twitter, thanking the Kentucky senator.

SANCHEZ: We are learning that these remarks from President Trump were orchestrated. Several top national security officials met early in the day on Tuesday and decided that it would be best for President Trump to try to clarify the remarks he made Monday in Helsinki.

Sources indicate that those officials then crafted some of the president's response. Still, what stands out most is the idea that the president is suggesting that all of this controversy is not merited. It is all caused by him simply misspeaking -- Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Joining me now is Julian Zelizer. He is a CNN political analyst, historian and professor at Princeton University.

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Let's start with President Trump's attempt to clarify what he said in Helsinki alongside President Putin, that he meant to say the word "wouldn't" instead of "would." Some Republicans accept his explanation, others don't. The rest of the world is not buying it.

So what is the historical impact of all this and him trying to use this one word as an explanation for why everything has gone awry?

ZELIZER: I think trying to explain one word will come off to most people as an excuse rather than as a justification or rather as really explaining what happened yesterday. Yesterday was a big deal. I think many people were shocked, including conservatives, to see the president do that.

And I'm not convinced that today's read apology will really make much of a difference --


ZELIZER: -- other than for the most partisan voters in the country.

CHURCH: Now Tuesday afternoon, once the impact of his news conference with the Russian president had sunk in, Mr. Trump was insisting he accepted the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence, that Russia did meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election but then contradicted himself by adding that it could be other people also.

What did you make of that comment?

ZELIZER: Well, that's his instinct. It's that both sides do it. It's the same kind of argument that you hear in Charlottesville. It's as if he can't fully commit to what so many intelligence sources are saying about what happened and where the intervention came from.

So it's a way, even while now finally acknowledging, for the moment, that Russia was involved in this intervention to say, well, other people did something similar and hopefully to mitigate some of the fallout. We don't know why he did that. But that's the effect.

CHURCH: And I just want to bring up these visuals because cameras -- president in the room there -- picked up Mr. Trump's handwritten note on the statement that he had in front of him, saying "No collusion," as if he need some sort of reminder to say that. And he certainly did say that. And he didn't say other remarks that he had crossed out there.

Why does he continue to be obsessed with that particular part of this narrative?

ZELIZER: Well there's his own frustration that any discussion of this somehow raises questions about his legitimacy as president. So he can't stop talking about this. And now there's obviously a very real investigation, legal and political threat, if collusion took place.

So he certainly wants to remind himself to emphasize that point, even while conceding a little bit on the question of the intervention. But this gets right to the core of him and his presidency.

CHURCH: And I did want to ask you this, certainly with your -- as an historian, some critics have suggested that Mr. Trump's remarks in Helsinki amount to treason.

What would you say to that?

ZELIZER: Well, I think that's up for debate. We're not at war with Russia and there is a technical definition for treason. So I'm not sure everyone will agree with that. But certainly most people will agree, it wasn't a good thing to do and that it undermines the effort to protect the electoral system, which is vital to our democracy.

So even if you don't go that far, you certainly can say is wasn't patriotic and, more importantly, it's a very real danger to a crisis our electoral system now faces.

CHURCH: Just very quickly, in light of all of this, how possible is it that the intelligence community here in the United States will keep some classified information away from the president?

Is that possible?

ZELIZER: Well, it is possible. And I think we're at a state where that might be on their minds because I think many are not fully trustworthy (sic) right now. They're not trusting where the president is and what his motivation is.

So they are concerned about giving away everything, especially in the middle of an ongoing investigation. And we'll see how far the president pushes to get all the information that he wants.

CHURCH: Just very quickly, I do -- I'll make this the last.

Do you think this will blow over like a whole lot of other crises that have surrounded the president and people will move on and it'll become nothing in the end?

ZELIZER: Well, it won't become nothing. It's a pretty serious event that happened and I think will have repercussions.

That said, I'm not convinced Republicans in Congress are going to really do anything about it. And I suspect they might still remain loyal to the president. We've been here many times before, including almost a year ago with the Charlottesville crisis, which is also leading many people to say that's it. But every time we say that's it, the Republicans stand firm and nothing happens. And that's where you have to bet things will go again.

CHURCH: Julian Zelizer, great to have you with us, thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, despite President Trump's efforts at damage control, questions remain about how much he told Vladimir Putin during their private meeting in Helsinki. It's creating a dilemma for those who brief the president on the nation's most sensitive and closely held secrets. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president spent 131 minutes alone with the former KGB colonel with no advisers present, only translators. Then President Trump came out praising Vladimir Putin and denying the conclusions of his own intelligence community.

TRUMP: President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.

TODD (voice-over): Former intelligence officials are now voicing serious concern about what Trump said to Putin in their closed door meeting.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: U.S. intelligence capabilities are exceptionally precious but also exceptionally delicate. And I don't know what Mr. Trump --


BRENNAN: -- might have said in that meeting that could have, in fact, compromised or impacted those capabilities. I just don't know.

TODD (voice-over): An ominous warning from former CIA director, John Brennan. Going forward, he says, there could be tendency for intelligence gatherers to withhold vital intelligence from the president.

Veteran agents telling CNN Trump is risking their trust that he can handle America's secrets.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: The rank and file in the CIA do not trust this president with a secret. I can't assure you that our president will not get on the hotline to Moscow and call Putin and say, "Hey, I've got a guy in your office who's saying this, is this true?"

TODD (voice-over): It's not the first time Donald Trump's relationship with the intelligence community has been strained by the question of trust. Last year, he shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting, sources told CNN. The president said he has the right to share information with Russia

on terrorism and said he didn't devolve its origin.

TRUMP: Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name (INAUDIBLE).

TODD (voice-over): The possibility of withholding crucial information from the president, analysts say, would leave America in a dangerous place.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We essentially now have a commander in chief, the head of government, who's not fully briefed and fully informed on not only actions that are taking place around the world but the implications for his own actions.

TODD (voice-over): Col. Christopher Costa, a member of President Trump's National Security Council until this year, says he never observed Trump mishandling sensitive intelligence.

On the question of whether intelligence briefers might hold information back from the president...

COL. CHRISTOPHER COSTA, FORMER NSC MEMBER: I think it's going to be incumbent upon the intelligence community to give the President of the United States the most important and sensitive intelligence that we have.

TODD: The White House has not responded to our inquiries about the comments from former intelligence officers, who say that some intelligence officials may be reluctant to share sensitive information with President Trump going forward and that some intelligence officials simply don't trust him.

The CIA has also not commented on any of that. The Office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says that office will continue to provide objective and unvarnished intelligence in the name of national security -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: The man leading the investigation into Russian meddling in America's 2016 presidential election has made a special request. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller wants a judge to give immunity to five witnesses in the trial of Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

If granted, the witnesses could not be prosecuted for what they reveal and their testimony could not be used against them later. The witnesses have not been identified. Manafort's trial on financial crimes is set to begin next week.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, Japan and the European Union agree to cut tariffs on nearly all goods. The details on what's being called the largest bilateral trade deal ever.

Plus Britain's Parliament gives the prime minister a victory on Brexit. But the vote underscores how deeply divided U.K. lawmakers are.

And outcry across India. A horrifying but tragically familiar new case sheds light on sexual violence in that country.





CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Japan and the European Union are joining forces for free trade, inking what the E.U. president calls the largest bilateral trade deal ever. The agreement removes 99 percent of tariffs paid by E.U. companies exporting to Japan. And that's just the beginning. So let's get straight to Will Ripley in Hong Kong for more details on this.

So Will, the timing of this massive deal is significant, of course, coming as it does, as the U.S. applies huge tariffs on allies and enemies across the globe.

So what will this mean for consumers in Japan and the E.U.?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're talking about a massive number of people, Rosemary, 600 million people, more than 2 dozen countries, a third of the global GDP, eliminating nearly all the tariffs for products traded between the E.U. and Japan.

And these are two countries that are traditionally very strong trade allies with the United States. For decades, Japan has focused its trade primarily with America and here in Asia. And the E.U. in recent years has also focused primarily on transatlantic trade.

But given President Trump's quick and dramatic turn from the U.S. being a leader in globalization to this kind of protectionist attitude, slapping tariffs, putting up trade barriers, tariffs, I should say, and trade barriers, now Japan and the E.U. are looking for other options. And that was the message at the signing of this very hastily negotiated agreement in Tokyo.

CHURCH: Of course the scope and scale of this free trade pact is just amazing, cutting tariffs on nearly all goods as you mentioned.

What impact might this have on the U.S., though, and its new brand of protectionism?

RIPLEY: Certainly there is a political impact. You can't really talk about trade without the diplomacy. And the fact that, yes, these discussions began during the end stages of the Obama administration. But they rushed to negotiate this deal.

Normally deals that are this large take years. And they got this done very quickly, extraordinarily quickly. And the reason why they did that, I think, is they were trying to send a message to the United States.

You have statistics out now from the IMF saying that, by 2020, if President Trump's trade war comes to fruition, if all of this develops in kind of the worst-case scenario, it could cut global GDP growth by a half a percentage point by 2020, $420 billion slashed out of the global economy.

And the United States economy, the IMF says, is most vulnerable to this. So what we're seeing now are key U.S. allies and long-time trading partners looking for other options, looking to try to stave off the economic damage that could come if this trade conflict continues to fester with the United States.

CHURCH: Will Ripley, always a pleasure to chat with you, joining us live from Hong Kong, where it is 2:20 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

It was a razor-thin victory for British prime minister Theresa May after the latest vote on Brexit legislation. Pro-E.U. lawmakers pushed an amendment that would have kept Britain in a customs union after Brexit if there were no other alternatives. But they failed to carry the day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes to the right, 301. The nos to the left, 307.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 301. The nos to the left, 307. So the nos have it. The nos have it. Unlock (ph).

CHURCH (voice-over): Parliament will vote on whether to start their summer break early. Critics say it's an attempt to ease pressure on the prime minister's government.


CHURCH: Adding to the challenges this week are the British electoral commission's findings. It says the official pro-Brexit campaign group broke the law. Nina dos Santos shows us why that's triggering cause for another referendum on the issue altogether.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): It was the narrowest win and has become the most divisive of issues. Now the body of overseeing U.K. voting has cast additional doubt on the legitimacy of Brexit, ruling the official campaign for leaving the E.U., Vote Leave, broke the law by overspending and teaming up with another campaign group, BeLeave, raising the prospects of criminal charges. Both groups deny any wrongdoing.

CHUKKA UMUNNA, BRITISH LABOUR MP: The findings of the electoral commission are shocking and Vote Leave's actions an affront to our democracy -- [02:20:00]

UMUNNA: -- and that fundamental British value of fair play.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The move follows a similar ruling back in May against another prominent pro-Brexit campaign; this time, funded by the Russia-linked business man, Aaron Banks. The former BeLeave volunteer turned whistleblower, whose evidence kickstarted the investigation, thinks that the findings make the results of the referendum void amid growing calls for a second vote.

SHAHMIR SANNI, BELEAVE WHISTLEBLOWER: We need to have a referendum that isn't based on the breaking of the law. There's no alternative. Otherwise, we go down this path and I find it surreal. I find it absolutely surreal that there are MPs out there, having the audacity to say that I still believe in the referendum result. That's like saying, OK, let's let the bank robber keep his money.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Theresa May has always rejected that idea and even some pro-E.U. MPs have poured cold water on it.

STEPHEN KINNOCK, BRITISH LABOUR MP: If that's got to happen before 29th of March, 2019, which is our exit day, many things have to move very quickly. The question about reforming our democratic institutions' processes and systems is a different one. In many ways, I would say that's bigger than Brexit. And I think that's about getting hold of the cheats and holding those cheats to account.

DOS SANTOS: The findings rejected by Vote Leave shines the spotlight on key members of Theresa May's government, who served on the campaign's committee, including her very own newly appointed Brexit secretary.

All this just as the prime minister tries to get her Brexit plan through Parliament in an increasingly tumultuous political climate.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): May's checkers (ph) deal lies in tatters after a series of high-profile resignations. She's already accepted eurosceptic amendments to the bill and, with the clock ticking to the official Brexit date in March 2019, May is struggling to quell the fires from both sides of her party -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


CHURCH: We are learning of another alleged case of child rape in India. The details are extremely disturbing. Seventeen men face charges of raping an 11-year-old girl in the city of Chennai. Investigators say the men worked in the building where the girl lived.

This horrifying case follows a string of others that have rattled India in recent months. Our Nikhil Kumar joins us now from New Delhi.

And Nikhil, the details just so disturbing. Talk to us about what we know about this so far and what's going to happen going forward.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: The details are really disturbing, Rosemary. So the case is from the state of Tamil Nadu in the south of India and the city of Chennai, the capital over there. The allegation is that these 17 men, all of whom worked in security and facility services in this apartment block, in the neighborhood of Chennai, that they attacked this girl, a young 11-year-old child with a hearing disability, they attacked her starting the middle of January.

The men range in age from their 20s to their 60s. They're now all under arrest and they could face potentially the death penalty. And this is because as you've said, there have been a string of cases over here. Back in April, we had protests across the country.

In response to those protests, the government here rushed through emergency legislation, executive order introducing the death penalty for cases which involve the rape of girls under the age of 12. So this case would fall within that.

So they're now in custody. The next hearing is in early August and it has shocked everybody. And it comes just days after another case from the eastern Indian state of Bihar, where a 15-year-old girl, it's alleged, was attacked by 19 people. Among them were 16 contemporaries and three adults.

Again, this was a case where the allegation is that she was attacked over a period of six months. And in that case, the allegation also is that when she tried to seek the help of figures of authority in her school, the teachers and the school headmaster, that they attacked her as well, taking advantage of the fact that she had gone to them for assistance.

So both of these cases come after, as I say, a number of other cases in the year. And they once again turn the spotlight on this very serious, very troubling issue, that, no matter how much we talk about it, no matter every time the government is saying that we're doing more, we're tackling this, doesn't seem to go away.

CHURCH: And it does beg the question, why do some men in India think this is OK, think that they can get away with this?

And particularly when you're talking about groups of 17 men and, in another instance, 19 men, that they would all feel that this was OK to do?

KUMAR: That's absolutely the right question, Rosemary. This is the thing, in the years since the 2012 gang rape which happened in this city in Delhi, many steps were taken to broaden India's legal framework when it comes to sexual assault, make it more responsive and --


KUMAR: -- efficient and better suited to prosecuting such attacks. Activists, lawyers that you speak to, will tell you that it's a good change that's come about in the legal framework.

But the problem is enforcement. So even though laws are introduced and those things are done at the legal level to make sure that, when these cases come before court, there are mechanisms in place to go after those who have committed these crimes, the problem is enforcement.

So these 17 men in this locality in Chennai, the 19 that you were talking about in Bihar, where three adults, the others also minors, both of these cases show they unfolded over a number of months. And clearly there's a problem with the law and order.

We reached out to the chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, where this latest case comes from. It's a state issue and the chief minister is responsible for law and order. We haven't heard back yet for comment on this case. But that's the critical question, enforcement.

There's one case that I'd like to highlight that I think underlines all of this and really puts this center stage, this issue of enforcement. A case involving a 16-year-old girl in Northern India, where the allegation is that she was attacked by a sitting lawmaker of the ruling political party in that state last June.

But that lawmaker, because of his influence and his ability to manipulate the state institutions that were supposed to help this girl, was able to evade arrest and prosecution. It was only after the protest in April that I mentioned earlier, it was only after that, that the case was, because of public pressure, transferred to federal authorities and then he was arrested.

And it highlights this basic problem: you can have all the laws and talk about this as much as you want. But if you're not going to enforce those laws and make sure men like this are not concerned about the state, well, then nothing is going to change.

CHURCH: As you say, enforcement is the key. And if they have the political will to do this, we'll be watching this story very closely. Nikhil Kumar, thank you so much for bringing us the details on that horrifying story.

Well, researchers in Australia say they have developed a blood test that can detect the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, in its early stages. It works by finding the antibodies that are naturally produced in response to the cancer.

The experimental test is said to be 79 percent accurate. But scientists at Edith Cowan University want to bring that up to 90 percent. Melanoma kills thousands of people every single year. So good to see progress made there.

Well, the reviews from Congress are in on the Trump-Putin summit. And even the president's own party is not pleased. What they're asking for from the White House.

But it's another story in Moscow, as the Kremlin hails the meeting as a great success. President Putin's personal reaction after this short break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:30:10] CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary

Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. Donald Trump says he misspoke during his news conference with Vladimir Putin. He meant to say he didn't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia behind the 2016 U.S. election interference. The president has come under fierce criticism for appearing to side with Russia over the U.S. intelligence community.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted a Russian national on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. They say Maria Butina used her ties to a major U.S. gun rights organization to woe influential conservative U.S. politician in order to make them more friendly to Moscow. Butina is due to make her second court appearance Wednesday in Washington. She's the latest Russian to be charged in an expanding investigation.

Japan and the European Union have signed a massive open trade deal that will cut tariffs on nearly all goods. The E.U. president calls it the largest bilateral trade deal ever. It covers 600 million people in almost a third of the world's economy.

Well, Republicans in the U.S. Congress have been speaking out against President Trump's private one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin and his reluctance to accept his own intelligence chief's assessment that Russia was behind the 2016 election attack. CNN's Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Republicans on Capitol Hill are stunned at President Trump's remarks aligning himself with Vladimir Putin. But they're struggling with how to respond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could say it's embarrassing, but I don't think that does a sufficient justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really the antics over the last 10 days have been damaging to our country.

RAJU: Standing next to Putin in Finland, Trump flatly disputed the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

RAJU: That remarkable admission today forcing the Senate Majority Leader, a key ally of President Trump's to do something equally remarkable bypassing the White House to send a direct message to U.S. allies.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Make no mistake about it I would say to our friends in Europe we understand the Russian threat, and I think that is a widespread view here in the United States Senate among members of both parties.

RAJU: But other Republicans call for their leadership to go a step further and take Trump to task.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time for more of your colleagues to voice --

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Yes. It has been for a long time, yes. I mean I just don't know what it will take frankly for people to say, hey, this has gone too far.

RAJU: Democrats demanded that administration officials testify before Congress to lay out exactly what Trump and Putin agreed to in private.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: President Trump's public statements were alarming enough. The Senate needs to know what happened behind closed doors. Does anyone believe he was tougher on Putin in secret?

RAJU: But Republican options are limited. They're discussing a legislative response including possible new sanctions on Russia or a symbolic resolution expressing support for the U.S. intelligence community. Yet, the Trump press conference added another complication especially for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee which previously disputed the intelligence community's finding that Putin wanted Trump to win in 2016. A fact Putin himself confirmed when asked if he wanted Trump to become president.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (via translator): Yes, I did because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.

RAJU: Speaker Paul Ryan strongly criticized Russia but would not walk back the House GOP's controversial findings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republicans make a mistake in that --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I'll refer to the intelligence community. They were concerned of what was the trade craft. But let's be very clear just so everybody knows, Russia did meddle with our elections.


CHURCH: While Mr. Trump's performance with President Putin is getting almost universally panned in the U.S. and abroad, in Moscow, they're loving it. Russian says the meeting as a start of a reborn relationship. CNN's Fred Pleitgen explains.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Facing a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans after his meeting with Vladimir Putin for siding with the Russian leader over his own intelligence agencies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see what happened yesterday was shocking and beyond that.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIR OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This was such a pitiful performance and such a degrading effort by this president.

[02:35:04] PLEITGEN: President Trump defending the meeting.

TRUMP: The press covered it quite inaccurately.

PLEITGEN: But there are media outlets that fully support President Trump's assessment. In Russia, analysts on state run TV saying it's now up to Moscow to support Trump and his Russia-friendly course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): If all these agreements will work out at least on ministerial levels, that's a big break through and benefit for us. But we have to understand that we can't set Trump up once again now. Our job now is to help him with good arguments and he himself will go to change the U.S. domestic agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): And then you say Trump is not ours, we need to help him, guide him, support him.

PLEITGEN: The host also taking note of the issues President Trump didn't bring up in Helsinki.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): Trump could have mentioned the traditional aggression and annexation, but he didn't do it. He didn't forget it but purposely didn't mention it.

PLEITGEN: While America's allies especially in Europe seem shocked by President Trump's posture towards Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader praising Trump after the meeting.

PUTIN: He's a very skilled person. He's in the know. He listens. He accepts the arguments. On some issues, he remains in his opinion.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

PLEITGEN: And while President Trump's performance at the meeting with Vladimir Putin is causing anger and disbelief in Washington, Moscow is celebrating a major victory on the international stage. Fred Pleitgen, CNN Helsinki, Finland.


CHURCH: Former U.S. President Barack Obama issued a call against strongman politics during a speech some say was a veiled shot at President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama spoke to a crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa ahead of what would have been Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday. The former president described what he sees as a growing ease among politicians to lie and disturbing new threats to democracy worldwide.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look around. Strong man politics are ascending suddenly whereby elections in some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it. But those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. In the west, you've got far right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism. Many developing countries now are looking at China's model of authoritarian control combined with mercantilist capitalism as preferable to messiness of democracy.


CHURCH: This is Barack Obama's first trip to Africa since leaving the White House. Early this week, he was in Kenya where he visited his father's homeland and played basketball with the locals. When a 13- year-old started selling hot dogs in front of his home he lacked one crucial ingredient, but now he's got it.


JAEQUAN FAULKNER, HOT DOG SELLER: It firmly helps me let other people know that I'm officially ready to take care of business.


CHURCH: How the city of Minneapolis helped this teen achieve his dream. We'll explain on the other side of the break. Stick around.


[02:40:57] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. An epic fantasy film that was promoted as China's most expensive movie is turning out to be an epic flop. Producers have pulled Asura from Chinese cinemas after a disastrous opening weekend.



CHURCH: The movie is based on Tibetan mythology. It took years to make and was backed by Jack Ma's Alibaba Pictures Group. Asura's budget was well over $100 million, but it earned just under seven and a half million on its opening weekend. A film representative told a Chinese news site, Asura was pulled to make some changes to the film and released it again. Some suggest the movie was the victim of organized trolling. And now, to the story of an enterprising teenager and his hot dog stand. The 13-year-old began cooking hot dogs outside his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota to make money for new clothes. But he had to stop because he didn't have a permit. That's when city officials decided they weren't going to shut him down. They were going to help him out. More now from Jeff Wagner of CNN affiliate WCCO.


FAULKNER: When I sell my first hot dog, I'm like, OK, this is cool.

JEFF WAGNER, REPORTER, WCCO: That was back in 2016 outside Jaequan's home in Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, the food stand is more popular than ever.


FAULKNER: I'm surprised of how many people there is. I'm like, wow, I've realized how much people enjoy it.

WAGNER: With all those people stopping by to get a bite to eat, it was time for the City of Minneapolis to step in. In order to keep the hot dog stand open, Jaequan would have to get a permit.

RYAN KRICK, SUPERVISOR, MINNEAPOLIS HEALTH DEPARTMENT: So we helped him become permitted, went through food safety techniques and procedures with him so he could operate legally and safely.

FAULKNER: The permit helps me let other people know that I'm officially ready to take care of business.

WAGNER: And business has been good.

FAULKNER: (INAUDIBLE) I paid me and my uncle and my cousin -- here you go.


FAULKNER: But before I do any of that, I pay tax. It's not about the money. It's just something I enjoy doing.

WAGNER: And for those customers, it's not just about the hot dogs.

DEANDRE HARRISON, HOT DOG CUSTOMER: I think it's amazing. I think it does an inspirational. I think we need more something like this. The north side has been deemed a bad area and bad place, but when you see stuff like that, you just got to support it.


CHURCH: What an inspiring young man he is. And Jeff Wagner of CNN affiliate WCCO at that report. Jaequan Faulkner's current permit lasts for 10 days. After that he will move his stand to different locations including in front of a local police precinct and a community church that are helping sponsor him. And thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. "WORLD SPORT" starts after this short break. Then I'll be back with more news in about 15 minutes. See you then.