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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Now Says He Holds Putin Responsible For Meddling; Growing Calls for Trump Interpreter to Testify Before Congress; Alleged Russian Spy Being Held in Jail with No Bond Until Trial; Trump on Mueller Interview: My Lawyers Are Working On That. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 18, 2018 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. President Trump just moments ago says he, in fact, holds Vladimir Putin responsible for attacking the United States. Why didn't he say that when he was standing next to Putin?

Plus the White House clean-up act, day two of damage control, another explanation that defies belief. And the Russian national accused of spying in America. Allegations of an elaborate cover story trading sex for influence. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. Trump changes course again, using one interview to insist he holds Russia accountable for attacking the United States and the 2016 election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF GLOR, CBS EVENING NEWS HOST: You say you agree with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before. And I would say that that is true, yes.

GLOR: But you haven't condemned Putin, specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?

TRUMP: Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country, just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes.

GLOR: What did you say to him?

TRUMP: Very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling. We can't have any of that -- now look. We're also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement, you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement. Nobody heard it. What they did hear is a statement he made to Putin's very close friend and that statement was not acceptable. Didn't get very much play, relatively speaking, but that statement was not acceptable.

But I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it. And that's the way it's going to be.

GLOR: But he denies it. So if you believe U.S. intelligence agencies, is Putin lying to you?

TRUMP: I don't want to get into whether or not he's lying. I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies, as currently constituted. I think that Dan Coats is excellent. I think that Gina is excellent. I think we have excellent people in the agencies. And when they tell me something, it means a lot.

GLOR: Coats says the threat is ongoing. Do you agree with that?

TRUMP: Well, I'd accept it. I mean, he's an expert. This is what he does. He's been doing a very good job. I have tremendous faith in Dan Coats. And if he says that, I would accept that. I will tell you, though, it better not be. It better not be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. So the President insists he confronted Putin. President Trump is also responding to the intense backlash from both sides of the aisle, including from some of his most ardent supporters about his performance in Helsinki.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLOR: On Saturday you told us your doctrine is strength, and achieving peace through strength.

TRUMP: Right.

GLOR: After Helsinki, Lindsey Graham said you showed weakness.

TRUMP: Well, Lindsay, you know, you're going to have to -- let me just --

GLOR: Newt Gingrich said it was the most serious mistake in your presidency.

TRUMP: I totally disagree. I think I did great at the news conference. I think it was a strong news conference. You have people that said, you should have gone up to him. You should have walked up and started screaming in his face. We're living in the real world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Let's just be clear. This interview flies in the face of what Trump has been saying. Let's just start with the past few days, right? It's been 56 hours since the President's summit with Vladimir Putin, it's been 29 hours since the President tried to clean up the damage from that press conference in Helsinki. So let me just play for you, OK, because what he has said again and again and again probably matters a whole heck of a lot more than what he just said one time in one interview.

Here's we said just this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hold Russia, at all, accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you consider them -- that they are responsible for?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. There's a lot of people out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. So tonight he said I said numerous times before I agree with the intelligence. It's just not true. And that's just the past few days that I played there. How about this fact? The President of the United States has raised doubts about Russian meddling for years. It's countless times. We can't even begin to play for you all the examples because we'll run out of time.

But here is one, from September 8 of 2016. I want to make you know where he said it. He said this on Russian state television, the propaganda arm of Vladimir Putin's Kremlin when he was asked about accusations of Russian hacking. Here is how he answered the question.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[19:05:08] TRUMP: I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows, but I think that it's pretty unlikely.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK, pretty unlikely. So let's just not forget also when he says it's unlikely, not Russia, whatever. OK. Where does he often put the blame?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Could also be lots of other people. Could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Got it. Look, this is the situation. So can one interview make up for a past record, which is consistent, repeated and frequent?

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT, live at the White House. I mean, Jeff, the President finally saying what he -- well, what he should have been saying for years, never mind in just the past few days when he so dramatically failed to do so again and again.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, there is no megaphone that is anywhere in the world except the President of the United States that is that loud. The President has the ability to say something, speak to foreign powers. In that interview in CBS we're just watching right there, he said he accepts the finding of the U.S. intelligence community. That is far, far muted, more muted than anyone else in this town, quite frankly, has been saying about the fact that there is still an ongoing threat from Russia in the 2018 elections.

We did not hear the President at any point today, if he was in the cabinet room, when he was walking on the south lawn or in that interview, saying definitively, banging his hand on the table, saying that, you know, that there is still this ongoing threat. Erin, I'm still struck by the fact that this is clean-up day two. No amount of clean-up here at the White House can overtake the images and the moment that the President missed that Republicans in this town, supporters of the President, we should point out -- I've talked to so many Republicans, senators, House members, others, who want him to do well, who think he missed an opportunity there in Helsinki. We watched him. We were there with him, watching this, no matter how much he's trying to clean it up now, Erin, it doesn't matter. But even so he's still not talking as forcefully about what Russia is trying to do right now. It seems that he simply doesn't either get it or think it's serious, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

And on that note, I want to talk to Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent, Patrick Healey, political editor for "The New York Times," Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security and Asha Rangappa, former Facebook Special Agent.

Dana, does the President actually think he can unsay everything he has said in days and years when given so many chances to get it right and being so consistently getting it wrong and showing what he really thinks, with one interview?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't even know how to answer that, Erin. Does he think so? Probably. Can he? No. Because we have this new invention called tape and it's all digitally saved and we are able to do what you just did.

But the question is, at this point, is it going to continue to matter the way it did 36 hours ago in a pretty explosive way to even the Republican leadership and others, rank and file in Congress, who are usually very reluctant to criticize him. And, more importantly, in the here and the now, how aggressive are the Republicans, who run Congress, going to be in doing what they say they're going to do, which is push through another round -- more legislation, pushing through another round of sanctions against Russia. And that will fall into the President's lap if Congress actually follows through on that.

BURNETT: And, of course, or do they just take this one interview as a way to, you know, run and duck their heads in the sand like a bunch of ostriches? Which, unfortunately, we have seen happened before and very well could happen again. Patrick, I want to play for you another exchange here between Jeff Glor and the President, you know, about Dan Coats in particular, right, his Chief Director of National Intelligence, that he publicly shamed a few days ago when warned about -- exactly what Jeff Zeleny was just saying. What the Russians are doing now. As every single person in U.S. intelligence is warning that right now they are attacking the current elections.

Let me play the exchange that just happened moments ago. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLOR: Have you talked to Coats since you got back?

TRUMP: Yes, I have, sure.

GLOR: What did he say?

TRUMP: Well, just talked, generally speaking. Yes, he agrees with the statement you made. And I go along with him. He's a very -- he's a great guy. He's a great patriot. He loves his country. And he's only going to say what he truly believes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. I agree with him, and he's laying it on thick. Can I just remind everybody --

[19:10:00] PATRICK HEALEY, POLITICS EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes.

BURNETT: -- when Coats said that it is flashing red, about an attack right now on this election. Jeff Glor, this two-part interview, have sat down with the President on Saturday. And here's what he said about Dan Coats then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLOR: Speaking of that hacking, your DNI, Dan Coats, said that America's digital infrastructure is at a critical point right now.

TRUMP: Yes.

GLOR: Similar to what it was like in some ways, before 9/11, and that is, we're susceptible to a large scale attack. Do you agree with that?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know if I agree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Completely cut him down at the knees. Today tries to make up for it. I agree with him, great guy, great patriot, loves his country. Does that do it?

HEALEY: No, that's just make up for him. I mean, this will be remembered as one of the defining betrayals really of the Trump era. I mean, going on the world stage next to Vladimir Putin, giving these interviews in the lead-up to that in which you are basically saying that you don't trust, you don't believe your own director of national intelligence, your own intelligence agencies that have spent years and millions of dollars looking into this, that aren't trying to delegitimize somebody's presidency.

They're trying to get at the emboldment of Russia and Russian actors and undermining American democracy and getting up there and saying basically I don't know what my intelligence agency, I don't know if I believe them. But, you know, Vladimir Putin was very strong on this. No amount of interviews, you know, to a network news agency or reading a script, you know, on day two trying to clean something. We all know what is going on here. This is classic mop-up work, but it doesn't get away from the defining moment that will be remembered --

BURNETT: You said what you said and you meant it when you said it or you wouldn't have said it, right?

HEALEY: We know that about this President. When he gets up there and he just sort of speaks impromptu, that is the real Donald Trump. That is what he believes.

BURNETT: Juliette?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT. SECRETARY, DEPTARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I can't -- I mean, everything Patrick says is absolutely right. There's just no amount of spin day two, day three, day four that is going to change exactly what the President said. But it is not just what he says, it is what he does.

The fact that there is still, for example, no cyber head at the White House, the national security staff got rid of a single person who is designated to work with state and local entities to ensure that our elections were protected. It is about a president who has shown sort of a lack of interest in protecting the 2018 elections from what we know the Russians are going to do. They're going to be better at it, they're going to be more persistent.

And, finally, it is about a president who, from the perspective -- and I know, Asha, is like we do -- perspective of just like, you know, some person like me who worked in government, right? The millions of us who dedicate their lives to protect the homeland and national security, how we're interpreting what he is saying, which is our work is not valuable.

BURNETT: You know, it's interesting when you talk about if cyber was important. I mean, I can tell you what I just learned the other day. 20% of the positions in cyber right now in our Defense Department are empty. They're vacant. They're no even filled. So if it was important, they would be finding, they'd be finding people and they're not.

So let me play for you another exchange. The President going on about fake news to which the Anchor, Jeff Glor, responded about the press conference but the press covered the substance of it in fact of what you said. Let me just play this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLOR: But they-- the press covered the substance and the wording of that press conference accurately.

TRUMP: I don't care what they covered. They don't, they didn't cover my meeting. The important thing, frankly, was the meeting that lasted for two and a half hours, or almost two and a half hours. And in that meeting, we discussed many, many things that were very, very positive for both countries.

GLOR: What tangibly emerged from that conversation? What, what do you feel you achieved?

TRUMP: I think we achieved a lot. Things emerged out that were very important. Nuclear proliferation between Russia and the United States, that's 90 percent of the nuclear weapons. Protection of Israel. He feels good about that, I feel good about that, very good about that. That was a big factor.

We talked about North Korea. He said he will help. He agrees with what I'm doing. He thinks I'm doing a great job with respect to North Korea. He said he would help. I think he will. Let's see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Asha, what do you make of that? I mean, first of all, the press covered what the President said because that's what there was to cover because he didn't allow anyone in the room and he's not allowing anyone in the room to say what actually happened. Let's just be clear about that. And yet he's saying, you don't worry, everything was great. We agreed on everything. What do you say?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, to echo Jeff and Juliette, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said your actions speak so loudly, I can't hear what you're saying. And I think we can take a trip down memory lane, going back 18 months. This is someone who asked Russia to hack into his opponent's e-mail. And they did. We know that now from the indictment.

He told Putin he was smart after Obama threw out 35 spies and told Putin he was smart for not retaliating. He slow rolled sanctions. He delayed in signing them, he delayed in implementing them. And he has now had two meetings, private, one on one, without anyone present.

[19:15:11] And so, you know, we keep parsing these words and going down -- going into this vortex of crazy about what was said and wasn't said when I think we can just look at the pattern of behavior on what has not been done, as Juliette mentioned, and what isn't being done even as we're being attacked.

BURNETT: I like that new spin on actions speaking louder than words. Dana, let me give you the final word here because there's a lot more we're going to play after this break, but just for this segment. BASH: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were going to roll another sound bite. Look, I think that the idea that this was the news media, you know, hysteria about what he said and didn't say in that press conference that has kind of really led the way here is, on its face, ridiculous. Because it was all taken live. And the people who reacted, particularly those around the world and those in his own party and his closest allies from Newt Gingrich to even Laura Ingraham, they reacted to what they saw and heard and didn't see and heard here not to the media.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And as I said, there's a couple of really crucial points here we need to play. We just have to squeeze in a break. We're going to have those on the other side.

And also this, the President again today and the White House saying Trump did not mean what he said when he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm interpreting what the President said. I'm not reversing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Interpreting, not reversing. Plus, speaking of interpreters, the interpreter who was actually in the room with Putin knows exactly what was said. Should she be forced to reveal it?

And the alleged Russian spy with deep U.S. ties. The siliceous details of allegedly using sex and lies to get what she wanted from Americans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:32] BURNETT: Tonight, clean-up job. The White House attempting to explain this exchange that happened today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go. Make your way out. No, you don't believe that to be the case?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Do you believe Russia still targeting the United States? No. Now, you know, again, I don't, you know, have to lay all this out but, you know, let's just be clear, that is what Director Coats has said as well as everybody else. Mike Pompeo and on has said that's exactly what's happening right now. The Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was pressed about this answer and here is how she spun it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: The President was saying thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite multiple people in the room understanding that the President was responding to that question, and despite the President having never before said the word no, no repeatedly to usher reporters out of the room, you're saying it's the reverse? You're saying the President --

SANDERS: The first thing that the President said after the question was asked was thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he looked and said, no.

SANDERS: And then he said, no, I'm not answering any more questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, here is what the reporter who asked the question, that's Cecilia Vega of ABC News, tweeted. She said, "Getting a lot of questions about my exchange with Donald Trump today. Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke. Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions."

Everyone back with me now along with Jeff Zeleny from the White House. Jeff, when that exchange happened? Because this is actually very significant, right? You know, not only does he repeatedly question whether Russia was involved or responsible for the hacking but the fact that an attack is going on right now and as of a few months ago, he hadn't even authorized his own team to start fighting it is extremely significant. You spoke to the other reporters who were there when this happened. Do they all concur on whether he was answering the question or not?

ZELENY: They do, Erin, I mean, to a person. The pool reporters in the room -- and just to explain it to our audience at home, there's a small group of reporters who'd go into meetings like this. It's an alphabetical order. So today it was ABC and a couple of days it will be CNN. We all ask the same questions.

And when the President looks you in the eye and answers a question like that, which he did today to Cecilia Vega, it was clear that he knew what he was saying. He said no. And then Sarah Sanders tried to clean it up saying no, he was done answering questions. The only problem with that is about 30 or 45 seconds after, he continued talking, talking about Putin and other matters. So I talked to the print reporters in the room, the wire service reporters in the room. To a person, they are confident the President answered the question.

And Erin, this is not something that's out of the blue. The President has repeatedly declined to say this is a problem going forward. And even in that CBS interview tonight he said he accepts what Dan Coats says. He did not, you know, say -- he has hold the intelligence. He reviews this. He didn't say what he believes. I think it's clear, Erin, that he is either not convinced or doesn't think it matters. BURNETT: I mean, Juliette, this is stunning, right? I mean, everybody is saying that there is -- right now actions are being taken. It's flashing red. As of a few months ago, they were very direct. The President had not yet authorized them to do anything to counter that attack that they say is currently happening. And yet today, everyone in that room who was there, as Jeff is saying, agrees. He said no. He doesn't think it's happening.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. I mean, look, it's not that hard, as President of the United States, to say we are under threat and under attack, you know, by the Russians and here's what we're going to do. We're going to, you know, focus on this. We're going to help the state to this. We were going to name and shame Russia.

It's completely in the realm of doable. This is not that hard. And so the parsing of words then becomes just a way for, you know, Trump to do this wink and a nod. I think the best you can say about Trump, about these sort of failures or missteps or misstatements is that you cannot -- the President cannot handle the presidency. In other words, maybe it's too fast for him. Maybe the questions come too fast. Maybe Putin is too scary. I don't know.

What I do believe now is that Trump knows exactly what he's doing. And we 2spend a lot of time trying to parse it. He knows exactly what he is doing. He is not condemning Russia. And at best you can say that's because, you know, there was collusion before or the Russians have something on him or even more scary is he's not nervous about the possibility that they're doing it again.

BURNETT: Right. I mean --

KAYYEM: And that's why words like, you know, treason and undermining, you know, our Republican, little case, our rule of government are being used now by serious people.

[19:25:03] BURNETT: And Asha, words matter, right? I mean, so today is he answers the question, according to everyone who was in the room, his press secretary left to say she's interpreting what he said and he didn't say what everybody is saying he said. And but we also have him at the press conference, right, when he said, you know, the would/wouldn't issue. Let me just play the one thing that he tried to take back yesterday from the many things in that press conference he said that were so offensive to so many.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia. Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, of course, it didn't, Asha. But here we are. Now today when he says no, they say, oh, well he didn't mean no. RANGAPPA: Yes, Erin. Look, back here on earth, everyone knows that Russia interfered in our elections. There is now an indictment naming 12 military intelligence officers that did it before it is also ongoing. And here is why his denials matter.

Because while we can take certain defensive measures, our intelligence agencies can gather intelligence to take affirmative steps to do a covert action to perhaps disable some of Russia's capabilities. Our intelligence agencies need under law. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991 a written presidential finding that it's important to national security. And if he's not willing to do that, they can't take those steps.

BURNETT: And that which is an incredible thing, Patrick, and brings me back to the stunning moment in that interview tonight when he was asked whether he agrees with U.S. intelligence.

HEALEY: Right.

BURNETT: And I'm going to play a very truncated clip that gets to the exact target of what he said which is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLOR: You say you agree with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016?

TRUMP: Yes, and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true, yes.

BURNETT: OK. Except, but here is what he said numerous times before.

HEALEY: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia.

I'll go along with Russia. It could have been China, it could have been a lot of different groups. They have no idea if it's Russia, with China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.

Personally, it could be Russia. I don't really think it is, but who knows? I don't know either. They don't know and I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And yet tonight he says numerous times?

HEALEY: No. I mean, he's totally wrong on that. And I wish that CBS had fact checked it in a moment. I mean, they could have done it in a number of different ways.

BURNETT: Yes.

HEALEY: And the reality is he got a way with frankly a lot in that interview in terms of defending himself. And it's how he likes to think of himself, as like the sort of strong president who is standing up for America, who's making America great again. But the reality is that he's had so many opportunities to hold Russia accountable, to say, you know, I believe that Russia is still meddling in our democracy and he hasn't done it.

BURNETT: No. And that's the reality. He simply hasn't done it, I think as Asha put it so well, right? You know, your actions speak so loudly, I can't hear your words. Thank you all very much.

And next, Trump's translator. So she actually knows what happened in that room between Trump and Putin. Should she be forced to tell us? Congressman Eric Swalwell is OUTFRONT.

Plus, the accused Russian spy, prosecutors alleging she used sex and lies to gain influence in the United States. The story as it's unfolding tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:40] BURNETT: Breaking news: President Trump tells CBS News that he said to ussian president Vladimir Putin about meddling in their private one-on-one meeting was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I let him know we can't have this, we're not going to have it, and that's the way it's going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. The problem is we actually have no idea what the two men said to each other. And that is because the president didn't want anyone else in the room. There's actually only one person, one American who would know the truth. Trump's interpreter, Marina Gross. She was the interpreter, right, that was sitting right next to him and then there was Putin and his interpreter and that was it.

Tonight, there are growing calls for her to appear before Congress to describe what actually happened.

OUTFRONT now is Tom Foreman.

And, Tom, you know, this is a pretty incredible moment here, right? The president is being questioned on his version of things and, quite frankly, he's being questioned because he is often not told the truth in so many ways.

So, how likely is it that this interpreter will come and testify before Congress? Has it ever happened before?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's not likely at all because it would be, by many accounts, unprecedented for this to happen. Look, there are several reasons why this is an issue. If you want to call her in front of Congress, first of all, it can't just be the Democrats who 2are upset about this. There are a few Republicans, but they would need more to make such a hearing happen. They're going to have to have Republican support for this.

Secondly, the president would probably have to waive executive privilege because some experts say this clearly would be covered.

BURNETT: Yes.

FOREMAN: And, thirdly, even if all of this happened, you have to look at the fact that in the past, when interpreters have been called before Congress for any reason, by subpoena or the courts, the State Department and the Justice Department have generally vigorously fought the idea of putting these people in the chairs because these are folks who are basically essential tools to presidents. They have to be able to speak freely with interpreters in the room with people from all over the world. And in fact, if President Trump weren't in such a tight about Russia, probably wouldn't be talking about this. But I think the chance of her getting the chair, very slim, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat from California, who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Erin.

BURNETT: The president tells CBS News that he told President Putin, quote, about meddling, we can't have this. We're not going to have it. And that's the way it's going to be. Again, that's his exact quote of what he said to Putin about election meddling in that room.

Do you believe him?

SWALWELL: I don't. I don't buy it. And if that's what he said that to him in the room, why couldn't he say that to him on that stage when he had multiple opportunities when reporters asked him that question?

BURNETT: So, you're saying basically, if you said it face-to-face, you have been able to say it when you were side by side both pointing out, right?

SWALWELL: It's so convenient that no one, you know, other than interpreter was in the room, that the president can now say this. So, again, I don't buy it. He's got a history of, you know, false statements and misleading the American people. The only way to find out what was said would be to hear from the interpreter.

And, Erin, I support that. I don't take it lightly. I don't think it needs to be a spectacle. I think the intelligence committee could bring her in, in a closed session. But this is an extraordinary circumstance. You have a prior for this

president in that he, in the past with Russians, by himself, gave them, divulged national security information.

[19:35:05] And now you have this concerning report that the president discussed with Vladimir Putin the possibility of turning over an innocent U.S. ambassador to be questioned by the Russians. So, there's many reasons to want to understand what was said.

BURNETT: I want to ask you about that first and then about the serious statement about having this interpreter having to give her version of what happened.

You mentioned the ambassador, Ambassador Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia. As you point out, the White House said Trump is considering the idea that raised by Putin which Trump referred to in that press conference, right? He said that interesting idea. Well, the idea was Russians would get to question some Americans that they really don't like, Bill Browder on that list, and, as you just pointed out, Ambassador McFaul.

And they're saying that that's on the table, right? That was what Sarah Sanders said. What do you say?

SWALWELL: Well, you know, the Russians are the suspect in this attack, with a lot of good evidence. There's no reason we would open up our evidence files, send our investigators over there to let them review that. That would be like a victim allowing the burglar to set up the home security system. That's ridiculous.

And also, again, this is just what about-ism by Vladimir Putin to try to turn the tables and make this good deal maker of a president believed that he's gotten a good deal out of this. But Republicans in Congress need to stand firm that we absolutely will not tolerate the president even considering turning over a U.S. ambassador. I think if he were to do that, that would absolutely be grounds for removal from office.

BURNETT: Well, I can tell you, that the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert today said the idea was completely absurd and that it wasn't even on the table, right? The opposite of what Sarah Sanders was saying. There appears to be a dispute, even within this administration.

Now on the issue that you raise. But to the point that this interpreter can solve all of this by saying what really happened in that room, you know, Ted Cruz has raised questions about it.

We actually spoke today to an interpreter who has interpreted for seven different presidents. Harry Obst is his name. He said that interpreters have to swear an oath, Congressman, that they will never disclose classified information, right? And they go in that room wanting to be anonymous, right, wanting to just be the interpreter.

Would you set an incredibly dangerous precedent by forcing this woman, Marina Gross, by saying what happened? SWALWELL: It's a very good question, Erin. And again, I don't take

lightly. As a prosecutor, I worked with interpreters all the time, I respect their profession, what they do.

But again, the president here has set precedent by having a private meeting with a leader who ordered an attack against America, three days after, 12 of that leader's individuals were indicted for attacking America, and now, we are learning that the president in that meeting has offered or suggested that he would allow that leader who attacked us to interview in Russia a U.S. ambassador. So, I'm also, again, concerned that the president may have divulged national security information. And I want to know if our national security professionals are now further at risk because of what the president told Vladimir Putin.

BURNETT: Congressman, thank you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, the accused Russian agent. Court documents reading like a spy thriller. This is the alleged agent who is actually in custody in the United States. Don't have to extradite her. She's here.

Plus, President Trump on whether or not he wants to speak with Bob Mueller.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:07] BURNETT: New tonight, the alleged Russian spy in American court for the first time, Maria Butina facing a judge and pleading not guilty to charges of being a Russian agent as prosecutors alleged an elaborate web of deception by her to infiltrate GOP politics and create secret back channels with Russia.

This includes a romantic relationship with a 56-year-old political operative that they say she secretly complained about, alleging she offered sex, quote, in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The federal judge ruling today Maria Butina, the 29-year-old Russian national the government says is a covert agent will await trial in a jail cell without bond. Butina clad, in an orange prison jump suit, watched as the U.S. government argued in a Washington courtroom that her stint as an American university grad student was little more than a cover for her work with a Russian government.

The prosecutor telling a judge if Butina sought refuge at the embassy or got in a government vehicle, U.S. law enforcement would be helpless to stop her from leaving the country.

Butina's attorney argued unsuccessfully that she wasn't a flight risk and insisted she is not a spy.

ROBERT DRISCOLL, MARIA BUTINA'S ATTORNEY: She is not an agent of the Russian government, the Russian Federation. She is innocent of the charges against her.

MURRAY: In the courtroom in related filing today, the government fleshed out Butina's alleged tie to Russian intelligence, even showing the court a photo of Butina near the U.S. Capitol on inauguration day, which she sent to Alexander Torshin, the former Russian politician she allegedly reported to.

You're a daredevil girl. What can I say?, Torshin wrote. Good teachers, Butina responded.

The government also took aim at Butina's romantic ties to a 56-year- old American, saying it was a duplicitous relationship. Her boyfriend not named in court proceedings is South Dakota political operative Paul Erickson, according to sources who confirmed their romantic relationship and other activities and details that match those of Erickson.

In previous filings, U.S. officials say he helped Butina make inroads with other U.S. political operatives at organizations. The government alleges the relationship was a sham. Documents seized by the FBI show Butina complained about living with U.S. person one and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with Erickson.

She also offered to trade sex with another unnamed person for a position with a special interest group, according to the filings.

Butina arrested over the weekend, U.S. officials say, because she appeared ready to leave town. Her lease in Washington was up and she intended to move money out of the U.S. Her lawyer says she informed the government in June that she planned to move to South Dakota to be with her boyfriend. She pleaded not guilty on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, Butina's lawyer also took pains in court today to try to distance this case from what's going on with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

[19:45:01] He insisted that this is not a spy case and his client should not be treated as a proxy for the very serious issues that are playing out right now between the U.S. and Russia -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sarah, thank you.

And after Sara's report, I want to go straight to the former CIA operative Bob Baer as we try to understand what happened here, what she really did, how significant it was, the allegations, sex for political access, romantic relationship with a political operative, apparently that she said she didn't want to be with.

Do these allegations surprise you? ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Oh, not all. What the Russians

have done, what the KGB has done, is used her. She's probably a prostitute, run them into political figures, looking, spotting for, let's say, military officers of the NRA.

Torshin, her supposed boss, in fact, is a KGB agent. This is typical. It's bold, I'll tell you right now. And the fact that they ran her into the president of the United States in 2016 is just quite amazing.

BURNETT: Yes.

BAER: But this is typical. I've worked with the KGB. This is the way they do it. Incrimination with prostitutes is a way to recruit people.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible. And she was at inaugural events for the president, the National Prayer Breakfast, the NRA convention. I mean, what do you think she was doing there?

BAER: She was looking for people to recruit. Agents of influence, people with access to secrets.

There's a picture of her, apparently, with a KGB officer at a restaurant in Washington. And she reports back to him, say look at this guy. He's vulnerable, he's out of money, or this politician is pro-Russian. Let's bring him to Moscow.

She was spotting people for recruitment.

BURNETT: Wow.

All right. Thank you very much, Bob Baer.

And next, breaking news, President Trump speaking tonight about that interview with Bob Mueller.

Plus, President Trump says he misspoke talking with Putin and he's not alone tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:39] BURNETT: Breaking news: Christopher Wray, director of the FBI speaking right now. This after President Trump spoke to CBS news about the possibility of sitting down for an interview with the special counsel, Bob Mueller. Let me play that clip for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF GLOR, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Are you more likely to sit for an interview now?

TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I've always wanted to do an interview because, look, there has been no collusion. There has been no talk of Russia. There has been no phone call. There has been nothing. And it's -- I call it a witch-hunt. That's exactly what it is. It's

a vicious witch-hunt. And you know what? It's very bad for our country, very, very bad for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

OK, Evan, you know, it sounds like, as usual, he is trying to have it a whole lot of ways. Not a resounding yes to a Mueller interview.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That doesn't sound like the president is going to be at a yes any time soon, Erin. And, look, they dragged it out. We know the special counsel has asked for an interview beginning in January this year.

So, here we are in July, and the president and his team, they still haven't come to an agreement with the special counsel. And you mentioned Chris Wray, the FBI director, he's speaking here in Aspen at the Aspen Security Forum, and he himself just addressed a question of witch-hunt. He says, no, he gets this question a lot, and that is not a witch-hunt. This is not a witch-hunt that is being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Keep in mind, Chris Wray's agents are the ones that are doing this investigation, so he has his agents and his employees who he has to defend at this point.

BURNETT: I mean, that's pretty incredible, right, to say that there is no witch-hunt when the president obviously says there is one every single time he gets a chance, including tonight.

And, Evan, you're there. You're in Aspen where the FBI director is speaking, and I know speaking as you and I are talking.

This is going to be crucial, right? We haven't heard from him since the disastrous press conference in Helsinki. You know, what are we hearing already as this discussion with him gets started where you are?

PEREZ: Some extraordinary words, Erin. Look, this is an FBI director who is a little more low-key than, say, James Comey. He doesn't want to really make a big fuss about things, but today, he is confronted with the president's words which came even as Chris Wray was meeting with intelligence chiefs from other countries, other allied countries are here in Aspen, and he was talking to them.

And so, he had some choice words for what the president has to say. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The intelligence community's assessment has not changed. My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election, and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREZ: And Erin, it's clear that the FBI still has a lot of work going on. They have the case of this foreign agent, this Russian agent who was arrested over the weekend. And there are many other parts of this investigation that Chris Wray's agents are working right now.

So, he knows for a fact that is not a witch-hunt. He knows that the assessment has not changed. He know what's the Russians are up to. It's clear that the president's words now against the words of his intelligence community, his law enforcement community -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Incredible none of them now seem afraid to say what they know to be true. Thank you, Evan.

And next, Jeanne Moos on Trump's Russia u-turn that has sparked a whole new social media trend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:41] BURNETT: Trump makes a change involving two letters and an apostrophe, and everyone follows suit.

Here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We wouldn't be surprised --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said the word would instead of wouldn't.

MOOS: -- if President Trump started a trend.

Singer Richard Marx was right here waiting to mimic the president.

RICHARD MARX, SINGER: I will be right here waiting for you

MOOS: Tweeted Marx, I misspoke. I meant to say I wouldn't be right here waiting for you.

Chimed in someone else, the Queen has just reported.

QUEEN: We will, we will rock you

MOOS: That they meant to say we won't rock you.

So I guess Journey meant for us to stop believing.

JOURNEY: Don't stop believing --

RICK ASTLEY: Never going to give you up

MOOS: Maybe Rick Astley meant to say that he really would give you up. ASTLEY: Never going to let you down.

MOOS: Never wouldn't not going to give you up, wouldn't not going to let you down.

And it's not just song lyrics that are getting the Trump treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay here. I'll be back.

MOOS: Oh, no, he won't.

Memes range from the president saying I meant Mexico wouldn't pay for the wall, you will, to Kim Jong-un saying, me too, I meant wouldn't denuclearize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Melania is now saying at their wedding she meant to say I don't.

MOOS: What a difference an n't makes.

Even departed stars were resurrected. From the other side, Whitney issues a press statement clarifying -- won't always love.

Even Darth Vader corrected himself. "Luke, I misspoke yesterday".

DARTH VADER: I am your father.

MOOS: I meant to say I am not your father. Luke's reaction is pretty similar to how the president's clarification was greeted by critics.

TRUMP: I said the word would instead of wouldn't.

LUKE SKYWALKER: That's not true!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: I don't see any reason why it would be.

LUKE SKYWALKER: No!

MOOS: -- New York.

LUKE SKYWALKER: No!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURENTT: And thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go.

Thanks so much for joining us. See you tomorrow.

"AC360" starts right now.