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Trump Says He Gave Putin Very Strong Warning; Trump Says He Told Putin We Can't Have Meddling; Alleged Russian Agent Held Without Bond In U.S.; Butina Got Access To U.S. Political Leaders; How Trump Voters Feel About Helsinki Summit; Rescued Boys And Coach Describe Their Ordeal; Trump Questions Defending Small NATO Ally Montenegro; Growing Speculation that Putin has Dirt on Trump; Death Toll Rising in Nicaraguan Crackdown; Lebanon's Beach Crisis; Student Walks 32 kilometers to Work. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 19, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Another clarification. President Donald Trump spends another day trying to clear up what he really means when it comes to Russia. As for his supporters --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man is an embarrassment to me. I voted for him. I will not again.


VANIER: After the Helsinki Summit, Trump voters tell us whether they would elect him again. And the boys trapped inside a cave in Thailand talk about their difficult journey home from hardship and pay a special tribute. Live from the CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier, great to have you with us.

Donald Trump is revealing new details about his private meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki Finland including what he says was a very strong warning over interfering in U.S. elections. The only problem, what he's saying now sounds very different from what he said Monday right after the meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say you agree with U.S. Intelligence that Russian meddled in the election in 2016?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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. Well, a strong statement to you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement nobody heard it. What they did here is the statement he made to Putin, his 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.


VANIER: The President's remarks are just the latest clean-up effort after the summit with Vladimir Putin. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's happened again. President Trump contradicting his own intelligence leaders today saying Russia is no longer targeting the U.S. At the end of the cabinet meeting, the President was asked this. Is Russia still targeting the U.S. Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, make your way out.

ZELENY: As what White House aides tried to clear reporters from the room --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, make your way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you don't believe that to be the case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go. We're finished here.

ZELENY: The President did not answer the question again. More than two hours later White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly saying the answer had been misconstrued.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President was -- said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

The first thing that the President says after the question was asked was, thank you very much and he said no I'm not answering any more questions. I'm interpreting what the President said, I'm not reversing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he was (INAUDIBLE) opposite way.

SANDERS: Well, I was in the room as well and I didn't take it the way you did.

ZELENY: And adding the President does believe Russia is an ongoing threat.

SANDERS: We certainly believe that we are taking steps to make sure they can't do it again.

ZELENY: The confusion complicating an ongoing effort to clean up the diplomatic debacle of the summit with Vladimir Putin.

SANDERS: I think he has called them out for interfering our election. He's been tough on Russia repeatedly.

ZELENY: The President also made this claim today about Putin.

TRUMP: There's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we've done.

ZELENY: But that hardly erased what he said while standing alongside 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.

ZELENY: The President's initial comments today about Russia not being an ongoing threat directly at odds with his hand-picked intelligence chief who said there's no question Russia remains an urgent threat to American elections.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The warning lights are blinking red again. Today the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

ZELENY: The White House was still consumed with fallout from the summit after the president said Monday he took Putin at his word.

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

ZELENY: At the first White House briefing since July 2nd, Sanders struggled to explain the firestorm.

SANDERS: To act like he hasn't been tough on Russia, that he hasn't called them out it's simply not true.

ZELENY: So after all of that, it was another day of clean up, the second straight day here at the White House on the topic of Russia. Now, you may want to say why not give the President the benefit of the doubt on this. The reason that is skeptical is this. He has repeatedly raised questions if Russia did, in fact, meddle in the election. He has repeatedly wondered whether the Intelligence Community was actually right in their assessment of Russia. so the White House clearly trying to explain what the President meant hoping to keep him on the same side of the Intelligence Community. (END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:05:20] VANIER: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reporting there from the White House. Joining me now our CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobson as well as Republican Strategist Charles Moran. Charles, the President claims to be very proud of his summit with Vladimir Putin. Listen to this.


TRUMP: 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.


VANIER: So if he did so great, his words in that news conference, why is he still having to clean up two days later?

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that the President is thinking more holistically about what he wanted to do at that -- at that -- not just the news conference but also at the summit as a whole. President Trump was labeled as a warmonger somebody who is going to cause World War III across this planet and we've seen that to be wholly untrue as he has tried to go to some of the most war-torn places and the most abrupt places on this -- on the planet to try to create peace.

VANIER: What war-torn place has he gone to create peace?

MORAN: Well, I mean, I consider what's going on in North Korea to be you know, war on the people. So what he's trying to do to insert himself to try to create calm and create peace, let's also talk about the things that President Trump achieved while he was there at the summit. They talked about bilateral relationships, they got Russia to sign on to the American position on the North Korean deal. They talked about President Bashar al-Assad and what's going on in Syria and reiterated the United States communities so -- or the United States position. So there were a lot of things that came out of that Helsinki conference besides just talking about Russian meddling in our election system.

VANIER: Does that mean that you would say that the entire part about Russian meddling maybe wasn't a resounding success?

MORAN: Well, I think the President of course, walks into the trap of starting to talk about meddling and then him taking it into the conversation about collusion and I think that that's the President's Achilles heel. He's very soft on his reactions to that because he firmly believes on that the Democrats are trying to set him up using you know, different avenues through advocacy organizations and in the mainstream media to try to create this false correlation between meddling and collusion. There's evidence of meddling. The President has admitted that there's been evidence of meddling. We have evidence to show it's been going for a number years -- VANIER: Well, he's -- a couple things, Charles. First of all, there

was no trap that was laid. I mean, it was a very simple question that was asked, right? It's do you believe the assessment of your intelligence agencies? Do you believe Russia colluded? I mean that's a simple question? It's not really a trap. It's also about the 20th time that he was asked it. Dave, I'm going to save us some time. I know you don't think the President did a great job.

I mean, tell you what, maybe it's because you're not very smart or at least that appears to be the President's theory. I want to read to you one of his tweets. This was on Wednesday. So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match, big results will come. Dave, you are -- you apparently are not at the higher ends of intelligence according to Donald Trump.

DAVID JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Cyril, apparently not. And apparently, the vast majority of Americans aren't as well. Look, it's clear that the American people aren't buying it. Reuters just put out a poll today that said 37 percent of Americans have a positive view of the President's press conference. That underscores the fact that the vast majority of the rest of the country disapproves of the -- of the President's performance, but it's not just that poll, right? It's John McCain, an icon and obviously, a Republicans disagree philosophically with him being a war hero --

VANIER: Also a frequent critic of the President to be fair.

JACOBSON: Sure, OK, fine but then Republicans like Susan Collins. I mean, Donald Trump's going to need Susan Collins vote to confirm his Supreme Court nominee. So that's a key vote. Jeff Flake, another Republican Senator, Bob Corker. You know, GOP consultant Mike Murphy who's run scores of high-profile Republican campaigns across this country. I mean, a number of high-profile, high-powered Republicans have come out and skewered the President for that embarrassing, coward like press conference. And by the way --

VANIER: And I would say to you know, to get the record straight a number of them including Lindsey Graham who was among that group that as you say skewered the President have now come up and said well, look I am satisfied with this clean up after the CBS interview, the latest one. So I would ask you that question. Now that Donald Trump has said yes, I side with my intelligence agencies, yes I hold Putin responsible. Is that going to satisfy you as far as Russia is concerned, as far as election meddling is concerned?

[01:10:20] JACOBSON: You know, what will satisfy me is when Donald Trump signs a bill that Lindsey Graham co-authors with Democrats in Washington on Capitol Hill that intensifies the sanctions against Russia because that's something that Lindsey Graham has put forward in the last couple days. Let's double down. Let's increase the penalties against Russia for their continued meddling and attacks, cyber attacks against our country. That is not something that Donald Trump has said that he's willing to support. It is something that Lindsey Graham has put forward as a promising idea that I think many Democrats in Washington would be open to supporting.

VANIER: So this touches on the question of national security. I'd like to play a sound bite for you both from Senator Mark Warren.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: The fact that the President in this very weak performance cow-house the Putin and accepts his version of the facts, I frankly think that's a national security risk and it sends a horrible message to our allies and somebody needs to step up and say that is not the American position.


VANIER: Charles, that's a very serious accusation but you know that the Senator Warner is not the only one to level that again accusation against the President that the President is getting too soft on Russia. What do you think?

MORAN: Well, I think the President has in his clean up efforts to try to clarify his position all this has consistently gone back to his message that he's been talking about for years even before he was running for president that the Russian meddling and the interference has been long-standing. He got a briefing even before he was sworn in as president showing --

VANIER: But Charles, the message is one thing but the national security and we heard Dan Coats, I can't play the sound bite for you now just for time purposes that you know Dan Coats says -- in fact, we heard earlier saying the warning lights are ringing, they're on just like before 9/11. Russia is at it again.

MORAN: Yes, there -- they're at it. They haven't stopped. North Korea hasn't stopped. China hasn't stopped. Iran hasn't stopped. We are under constant threat and it is getting worse. And across this nation we're seeing efforts --

VANIER: And so the question are you confident that Donald Trump is doing what it takes or do you think maybe he has a blind spot when it comes to Russia?

MORAN: I think that the President is taking particular interest in this issue and I think it's actually good that he is dialing in so deeply because on some other issues he might just brush it off because he is so personally connected to it because the Democrats continue to use this as a tool to undermine his election to the office of the President. I think the president is paying attention to it. I believe that you know, there are a lot of different levers that the President can utilize legislation being one of them, threats of trade, embargo and other negotiating points that can be used to continue to jack up the pressure.

I really wish this would have been stopped when President Obama saw it going on when you know in the 2012 and 2014 elections when Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama were making jokes about Russian interference in our elections that they had done something about it then. And I believe that the President has the will to do something about it now. All right, Charles Moran, Dave Jacobson thank you very much for joining us on the show today. I appreciate it. Thanks, gentlemen. A judge has denied bond for a Russian woman charged with being a secret agent of the Kremlin after prosecutors warned she was a flight risk. And each passing day brings salacious new details of her stay in the U.S. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This 29-year-old Russian redhead who came to Washington under the guise of being a graduate student after she founded a gun rights group in Russia --

MARIA BUTINA, RUSSIAN SPY: These are all Russian public organization. We promote gun rights.

SCHNEIDER: -- isn't who she claimed to be. Instead, court papers paint Maria Butina as an illegal agent of Russia whose plan was calculated, patient and directed by a Russian official. Butina even allegedly offered sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization here in the U.S.

ROBERT DRISCOLL, ATTORNEY OF MARIA BUTINA: She's not an agent of the Russian government, the Russian Federation, she's innocent on the charges brought against her.

SCHNEIDER: She allegedly kept in touch with members of the Russian FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB and prosecutors say Butina was well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchs. And sources tell CNN she had a romantic relationship with Paul Erickson, a former board member of the American Conservative Union who attempted to make inroads with the Romney and Trump campaigns but was never particularly successful. While the court filing did not name Erickson and referred to him only as U.S. Person One, the details matched Erickson's activities. Butina allegedly lived with him but treated the relationship as simply a necessary aspect of her activities since Erickson previously told McClatchy News he co-founded a company with Butina to help fund her graduate studies.

[01:15:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, is this Paul?

SCHNEIDER: CNN affiliate, KIRO-TV asked Erickson if he tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.

I was wondering if you would be willing to talk to us about what the New York Times is reporting. About you, said trying to set up a meeting between President Trump and Putin.

PAUL ERICKSON, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL OPERATIVE, SOUTH DAKOTA: Oh -- I -- yes, it did exactly happen that way.

SCHNEIDER: The man who mentored Butina, Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin who has been sanctioned by the U.S., messaged her on Twitter one month after that breakfast exclaiming, "You have upstaged Anna Chapman." Referencing the Russian spy who was arrested and deported in a prisoner swap in 2010. Butina earned a 4.0 at American University, all while making the most of Washington, D.C. Torshin called her a Daredevil Girl, when she took a photo near the U.S. Capitol on President Trump's inauguration day.

Butina posed with a pistol for a risque spread in G.Q. Magazine. But also buttoned up for political events. She's seen herewith Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, and sitting just feet away from former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

Butina also got close to Donald Trump. At the freedom fest event in Las Vegas in July 2015, she announced she was visiting from Russia and then, asked then-recently declared candidate Trump, this.

BUTINA: If you would be elected as the president, what will be your foreign politic, especially into the relationships with my country?

TRUMP: I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK?

SCHNEIDER: And Butina and Torshin managed a brief encounter with Donald Trump Junior at a private dinner on the sidelines of the 2016 NRA convention in Kentucky.


SCHNEIDER: And the FBI has been keeping a close eye on Butina for months. She was arrested last weekend after agents spotted her trying to get a U-Haul rental truck and saw her sending a wire transfer for $3,500 to an account in Russia.

Her lawyer says, she's cooperated in recent months with Congress and the FBI and says there's no reason she shouldn't be released. But, of course, for now, she is behind bars until trial. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

VANIER: Away from the Twitter-sphere and political circles, what do actual U.S. voters think of President Trump's recent actions at and following the Helsinki summit? Kyung Lah went to swing state in the Midwest to find out.


ANNOUNCER: This is the Dan O'Donnell show.

DANIEL O'DONNELL, HOST, DAN O'DONNELL SHOW, WISN: So, is Trump been arrested for treason yet? Has he returned to the United States in the brig of Air Force One? Welcome to the show. I am Daniel O'Donnell --

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The swing state of Wisconsin. The conservative base circling the wagons around Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the reactions from the left yesterday were ridiculous.

LAH: But amid the outrage callers, one moved by the president's press conference with Putin. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man is an embarrassment. I voted for him, I

will not again.

O'DONNELL: Really?


O'DONNELL: Swing voters are notoriously difficult to predict. So, there might be an issue like this that is all anyone talks about for the better part of a week. I don't believe that there is going to be any lasting impact.

LAH: Wisconsin's swing voters, many of them white working-class voters, swung to Trump in 2016 in Kenosha County, just south of Milwaukee. Trump won here by just 255 votes. A county that hadn't voted for Republican president since Richard Nixon.

Like other parts of Wisconsin, Kenosha County has seen jobs leave. This was the Chrysler plant. Spanky's Bar is a couple of blocks from that torn-down plant. Since Trump took office, the economy has only gotten better in Kenosha, says Anna Stewart. She voted for Trump in 2016.

LAH: Do you think that Trump will be re-elected by this county?


LAH: Why?

STEWART: I do. I think he's just -- he's got the steam going. He's done a great job so far. As president, he shown us that he continues to persevere beyond the criticism and do what's right anyways.

LAH: You're going to vote for him again?

STEWART: Oh, yes. Yes.

JAMEELA: Tony Valente's conversations over the bar rarely focused on Russia.

LAH: Do people here care?

TONY VALENTE, COOK, SPANKY'S BAR AND GRILL: I don't -- you know, I don't know. The money -- the money's -- the economy's good. Money seems to be flowing pretty well. House -- you know, house prices are coming up. Interest rates are going up. I think people are pretty happy with that.

LAH: But the press conference with Putin did have an effect on Pam Anderson.

PAM ANDERSON, TRUMP VOTER, KENOSHA COUNTY: For him kind of just pushing off to the side and say like he doesn't believe it, I think he's really mocking the whole system.

LAH: A swing voter now pushed away from Trump. ANDERSON: I had voted for Obama, and this time around, I went ahead and voted for Donald Trump. And I really regret that decision.

[01:20:06] LAH: What's going to happen next time around?

ANDERSON: Not him.

LAH: You've already decided.

ANDERSON: I've already decided.


LAH: Pam Anderson says this about Trump's back peddling. The would versus wouldn't, she says "that's total B.S." She says her opinion about the president has not changed one bit. Kyung Lah, CNN, Kenosha, Wisconsin.

VANIER: A great report there, by Kyung Lah. Now, their plight captured the world's attention. And now, the Thai boys rescued from a flooded cave describe what happened in their own words.

Plus the Nicaraguan government sends an overwhelming force to crush an armed rebellion south of the capital. We'll explain what's fueling the unrest.


VANIER: For more than two weeks, 12 boys and their football coach were trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand. The world watched and celebrated when divers managed to get them all out safely. Now they're back home. Some of them took part in religious ceremonies at an ancient temple on Thursday.

Earlier, after they left the hospital, they spoke with reporters describing in their own words what they went through.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I that I couldn't go home, and my mom would complain a lot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Furnished, I tried not to think about food as it would make me even hungrier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking about fried rice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or some chili dip.


Stranded alone in this cave, the Thai team survived without food.

PONCHAI KHAMLUANG, RESCUED AT THAI CAVE: Mostly we drink water dropping from the rock. It tasted like normal drinking water but no food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried to fill my stomach with water. During the day we tried digging using a rock.

[01:25:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried to find a way out. That's day two, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After nine days, divers reached the boys in the bowels of the cave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought this was really a miracle, and I didn't know how to respond to them.


VANIER: NATO flashpoints and Montenegro, two turns that usually aren't heard in the same sentence. So, why would President Trump question defending Montenegro if it was attacked? Stay with us


VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier, your headlines today. Donald Trump is changing his tune again on Russia's interference in U.S. elections. He now says he gave Vladimir Putin a very strong warning against meddling during their meeting in Finland. Mr. Trump, says he holds the Russian president personally responsible and that it must not happen again.

A European Commission has slapped Google with a record $5 billion dollar fine for violating antitrust laws. The commission says the tech giants suppress search engines and other products from competitors on its Android smartphones. Google says it will appeal.

Plus, there is the word of a reconciliation agreement between Syrian rebels and the government in the largest town in Daraa province. A human rights group says it comes after a week of shelling and air strikes by Syrian and Russian forces.

Rebel groups will hand over military hardware and the rest of the weapons will be given up when ISIS militants are forced out.

Israel's parliament just passed a law that defines the Jewish state. It establishes Israel as the historic home of the Jewish people with a united Jerusalem as its capital. That the law downgrades the status of Arabic from one of the state's official languages to one with special status.

That was only a few days ago when President Trump had contentious meetings with fellow leaders of NATO countries. He did sign a communique at the end of that NATO summit that explicitly endorsed Article Five of the Charter. Article Five is the one that says an attack against one NATO member is an attack against all members.

Now, he seems to be putting that long-standing agreement into question. Barbara Starr has the details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: On the heels of a controversial meeting with NATO allies, President Trump once again questioning the entire point to one of America's oldest alliances.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that's attacked. So let's say Montenegro, which joined last year is attack, why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that?

TRUMP: I understand what you're saying. I've asked the same question. You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people.

CARLSON: Yes, I'm not against it -- or Albania.

TRUMP: That's right. No, by the way, they have very strong people, they have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III.


STARR (voice over): It may be no coincidence that Montenegro, a tiny country in the Balkans has the American President's attention.

Last year President Trump visibly dismissed the Prime Minister of Montenegro when he shoved him out of the way at a NATO photo op. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has been furious that Montenegro is the newest member of NATO.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He has seen multiple countries lean towards the West over the last 14 or 15 years who have asked to join NATO to include many countries that used to be part of the Warsaw Pact that used to be part of the Soviet Union. And it irks him that he feels he is being attacked from the alliance and from the United States.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I would not be at all surprised that what you heard the President say to Tucker Carlson last night is derived from what Vladimir Putin told him during those one- on-one discussions in Helsinki.

STARR: Trump has never been happy that U.S. obligations to NATO could require U.S. troops to come to the defense of other countries. The worry, European allies will feel vulnerable now.

HERTLING: They have seen and heard the President question the collective security agreement which is NATO. They have seen the President suggest that U.S. commitment to NATO is conditional. STARR: This year Defense Secretary James Mattis making certain to

congratulate the newest member of NATO.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's the 29th, and to see the confidence that they have from a NATO that is that open in discussion and honest in discussion.

STARR: Montenegro -- about the size of Vermont -- has a military force of just a few thousand. It's already sent 20 troops to Afghanistan to help with security and plans to send several more.

President Trump may also want to consider this. NATO invoked the Article 5 mutual defense clause after 9/11 for the first time sending patrol aircraft to the U.S.

(on camera): And since then, more than 1,000 NATO troops have died in Afghanistan in the war that was a response to the attack on America.

Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Markos Kounalakis is visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution Stanford University. He joins us now from San Francisco to discuss this.

Markos -- on a scale of one to ten -- one being well, this is all just talk, it's Trump being Trump; and ten being NATO will not survive the Trump presidency. Where do you rate this?

MARKOS KOUNALAKIS, VISITING FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: I'd say I would give it a five -- right around the middle of the spectrum because it is so uncertain. You know, it seems that one day the President is saying that NATO is obsolete. The next day he is reaffirming Article 5. But whenever he seems to be reaffirming Article 5 or the joint defense pack, he sees to be saying it and crossing his fingers behind his back.

So I think the Europeans are having a hard time accepting those assurances from the President. Perhaps from Secretary Mattis and perhaps from Secretary Pompeo, but I think the President's credibility as far as NATO is concerned is really wanting.

VANIER: So there is a conversation about NATO now in this country. And I'd like to you address something that Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked. Listen to this.


CARLSON: The U.S. has to defend Montenegro? Really? Why is that? Is there a good reason? Let's hear it. That's the conversation we should be having.


VANIER: So what would you say to an American who is not interested in foreign military interventions, doesn't think Americans should die ever to protect far away countries, and feels that NATO is a burden on the U.S.?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, I think it's important to ask that question again because it is a question that we answered a long time ago. But as you asked the question, you should also wonder how likely is it that Montenegro would be the country that you have to go and fight for and the chances are they're pretty slim.

Where you really should worry about it are in the Baltic areas which are bordering Russia that Russia clearly covets. Turkey which has invoked Article 4 in the past, has shot down a Russian plane recently that was coming in from Syria. And I think then the question is legitimate.

Should we have that question on a national basis? Well, as I say, I think we've answered that question overtime because the alliance strengthens the United States. It strengthens trade. It strengthens the nations that are bordering on Russia. And it provides peace and has been a stabilizing force in a region -- Europe primarily -- that has experienced so much violence in the 20th century.

[01:35:08] It is a stabilizing force. We need to reinforce that commitment. And you know, I find it odd that the President would be raising the question, the fundamental question of whether or not there is value to NATO.

VANIER: Well, the President's critics, as you know, fear that he is seriously undermining NATO. What -- who would that benefit if that were actually the case? And I know you graded this as a five out of ten, right in the middle.


VANIER: But if that were the case, if NATO is undermined, who does that benefit?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, clearly Vladimir Putin and Putin's Russia. The Russian state run by Putin has interests throughout Europe. It has interest in breaking up the unified defense pact, the unified economic market that exists there because it would allow him to really make inroads into Europe by asserting the size, the strength, the energy dependence that Europe currently experiences.

Putin could easily break apart these nations by then dealing with them one on one. So that's who would benefit without question. In fact, I wrote a piece for the Atlantic Council last year called "Trojan Horse 2.0" that looks at the influence campaigns and the assertion of Vladimir Putin's Russia into the Balkans down south and into Greece in specific.

VANIER: All right. You know who agrees with you on that? Senator John McCain here in the U.S. He tweeted this. "The people of Montenegro boldly withstood pressure from Putin's Russia to embrace democracy. The Senate voted 97-2 supporting its accession to NATO. By attacking Montegnegro and questioning our obligations under NATO, the President is playing right into Putin's hands.

One more question for you, Markos. Is there a scenario -- can you envision a world order where the U.S. is better off without NATO?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, sure. I mean I think if we have some level of relations with -- where Europe, for example, develops a European defense force and maybe that's the idea behind why the President is pushing so hard against NATO, that Europe actually develops the ability to defend itself without the United States.

I don't think that's a positive outcome, but I could see under these circumstances that they would try to create some other force to supplement or rather to supplant what may be on the cutting room -- you know, on the cutting room floor.

VANIER: But then the U.S. also wouldn't have those 28 other countries willing to come to its aid when it has a problem.

KOUNALAKIS: That's exactly right. And that is really the key, right, as Barbara Starr said earlier. The only time that Article 5 has been invoked was after the attacks on the Twin Towers and on the United States Pentagon on September 11th of 2001.

I mean this is really astounding that the one nation that has truly benefitted from the joint defense pact is the one that is now questioning its value.

VANIER: Markos Kounalakis -- great pleasure speaking to you today. Thank you very much.

KOUNALAKIS: Thanks -- Cyril.

VANIER: President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and especially the news conference that followed it has caused questions to resurface about whether the Russian president may have compromising information on the U.S. President.

Our Brian Todd takes a look.


TRUMP: Again, President Putin -- thank you very much. Thank you, sir.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The President's stunning embrace of Vladimir Putin in Helsinki has again fuelled questions over Putin's possible kompromat -- leverage over the President. And it has members of Congress and others looking for answers.

Putin was asked about it flat out in Helsinki.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?

TODD: Neither Putin nor Trump ever answered no. Putin deflected when referencing Trump's now controversial trip to Moscow in 2013. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): When

President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn't even that know he was in Moscow.

TODD: Putin said, how could he possibly keep track of all the American businessmen in Russia at a given time?

PUTIN: It's difficult to imagine utter nonsense on a bigger scale than this.

SHAWN TURNER, FORMER U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: We know that Putin did know that Donald Trump was in Russia during the event in question. We know that Putin was invited to the Miss U.S.A. pageant and that he ultimately declined to come. So we know that he knew that Trump was there.

TODD: Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow was mentioned in an uncorroborated dossier by a former British spy, which contained a number of unproven and highly-salacious allegations, that Russian authorities might have recorded Trump watching prostitutes urinate in a hotel suite.

[01:40:03] There is no indication such a tape exists and Trump has vehemently denied it.

Former FBI director James Comey said Trump asked him to investigate.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He said, you know, if there's even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that's true, that's terrible. I remember thinking how could your wife think there is a 1 percent chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?

TODD: But there could be other kompromat. Following the Helsinki exchanges, Republican Congressman Mark Sanford is calling on Trump to release his tax returns.

KEITH DARDEN, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: The tax returns would have to show foreign earnings. So, you know, he has claimed that he earns nothing from contact with Russia. That might not be the case. That would be something that would have appeared in his tax returns.

TODD: There were attempts by the Trump Organization to develop properties in Russia, high dollar sales by Trump of his U.S. properties to Russians, including this mansion in Palm Beach.

Donald Trump Jr. in 2008 saying quote, "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia" -- all potential deals where Putin could have compromising information about the President something which analysts say is a specialty of the former KGB operative and his intelligence services.

TURNER: We know that the Russians are very active when they identify someone who may be an influential individual, when they identify someone who could potentially -- they could potentially exercise leverage over, they go after that individual. They redouble their efforts to collect information.

TODD: President Trump has said if Vladimir Putin had compromising information on him it would have been out a long time ago.

(on camera): But analyst say it's very likely that we'll never know exactly what kompromat Putin has on Trump. They say the whole point of having compromising information is to hold it over your rival, extract concessions for as long as you can because as soon as Putin releases what kompromat he has on Trump, it will be useless to him.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VANIER: Still to come, Lebanon likes to boast about its beaches but you will not believe what a top scientist there told us. We sent a team to take a closer look.

And a student walks and walks and walks to make sure he doesn't miss his first day on the job. What his grateful boss did for him, when we come back.


[01:44:57] VANIER: International condemnation is growing over Nicaragua's deadly crackdown on anti-government dissent. Government forces crushed a rebellion in one town, hundreds were killed.

The Organization of American States condemned the bloodshed. Last week it called for an early presidential election, but the government rejected the proposal.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the latest.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the day (INAUDIBLE) peoples' resistance was met with overwhelming state violence. Months of rebellion in Nicaragua focused in the small town of Masaya was confronted brutally as authoritarian ruler, Daniel Ortega, looked to silence dissent.

Pitting gun fire and snipers against ramshackle locals in construction helmets, fashioning crude rockets out of plumbing materials. Videos, which we can't verify ourselves, shared on WhatsApp by local bloggers. One here, seeing a friend shot.

"Be strong my friend," he says off camera.

Locals said by dawn, hundreds of police were swarming the streets sweeping away what was left of the rebellion. The siege had built over the past week. Police surrounding one church as they moved in and the death toll rising with ten killed in the past week and over 270 dead since the unrest began.

President Daniel Ortega has led Nicaragua to the brink, accused of (INAUDIBLE) its wealth and the corrupt nepotism that has even seen his wife sponging up power in key positions.

Pension reforms to try and keep the pilfered state coffers afloat were eventually scrapped after protests but the collapse continued.

The U.S. has sanctioned key officials for corruption, repression and extrajudicial killings and pulled all of its diplomats out. Central America's poorest country now facing the question of whether the brutal crackdown will end the violence or foment longer, angrier unrest adding to the regional turmoil that have sent thousands north through Mexico to the U.S. border.

Yet another reason Central America is slowly emptying north wards and spiraling towards greater suffering.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- London.


VANIER: Lebanon once prided itself on its beautiful beaches. But now they are a toxic mess and the ecological crisis has become an embarrassment.

Our Ben Wedeman went to take a look.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lebanon bond, sun-drenched land of sea, sand, surf and trash. This small country on the eastern Mediterranean is grappling with an ecological crisis years in the making on land and its sea.

Diving instructor Ahmed Ferhad (ph) took us on a tour of Beirut's coastline. Above water we went through areas reeking like a public toilet, animal entrails bobbing in the murky green water.

And under water off Beirut's famed Corniche we found a seabed littered with cans, bottles and plastic bags. Hardy fish somehow still thrive in these waters. Anglers try their luck at the mountain of sewerage (INAUDIBLE) onto the sea.

Lebanon has plenty of positive environmental laws on the books that exist only on the books.

Ferhad (ph) has been diving here for 12 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, so far, a lot of regulation needs to be applied and a lot of those that already are available as rules and regulations are being ignored.

WEDEMAN: Three years ago, piles of rubbish snaked through the city when landfills reached capacity but trash was piling (INAUDIBLE), winter rains washed the garbage into the sea, which then threw it back on to the coast.

Many of Beirut's beaches are littered with garbage left by residents desperate for relief from the city's long hot and humid summers.

DR. MICHEL AFRAM, LEBANON'D STATE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE: What we are doing in Lebanon we are destroying our environment. WEDEMAN: Dr. Michel Afram, head of Lebanon's State Agricultural

Research Institute, does not mince his words. Everyone is to blame for this country's mess.

AFRAM: We throw garbage everywhere -- in mountain, in here, in the river, in the sea -- and we have to change it.

WEDEMAN: George Haddad (ph) from the research institute collects water samples from the sea for analysis in the labs. The findings consistently show a toxic cocktail in the making.

[01:49:58] AFRAM: The sewage also -- waste water coming from hospital and waste water coming from industrial zone. So, we have a lot of facility to be contaminated or to catch bacteria or to catch a chemical material or heavy metal.

WEDEMAN: But it's hot, it's summer, the day at the beach (INAUDIBLE) is hard to resist.

Ben Wedeman, CNN (INAUDIBLE).


VANIER: And there was a celebration in the sky over the Horn of Africa. Flight attendants poured champagne and passed out roses Wednesday during this Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Eretria's capital. It's the first commercial flight between the two neighbors in 20 years.

Families separated by the conflict between the African nations are getting to see each other for the first time in years. The flight is a sign of reconciliation since the leaders signed a peace deal just last week.

And the weather in Japan is broiling hot. A heat wave kills a dozen people, thousands are hospitalized. We'll have the details next.


VANIER: A deadly heat wave in Japan has killed at least a dozen people and hospitalized as many as 10,000 others.

Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with more from the CNN Weather Center -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Cyril -- this is the last thing that residents of Japan need. I mean go back ten days ago when we were talking about extreme flooding and extremely heavy rain. And now they're still dealing with the clean-up efforts from that rain event over a week ago.

But now they're contending with extreme heat. And temperatures have been very, very hot especially in places like Tokyo where the mercury on the thermometer has reached 30 degrees Celsius at least 21 times since the end of June. We've got a pretty impressive ridge of high pressure building across East Asia. And on top of that we're starting to feel the influence from the Pacific Ocean. So bringing in that very muggy moisture-laden air so that makes it extremely humid outside and that also makes it feel a lot hotter on your skin a you step outdoors from the air- conditioning into the elements.

In fact the heat index in Tokyo feels like the lower 40s as we speak. Temperatures outside in Tokyo right now about 33 degrees. As you can see, even as far south at Kochi temperatures feeling roughly in the low 40s so extreme sweltering temperatures.

And it doesn't get any better from here. We have very high temperatures expected for the day on Friday starting off the weekend well above average -- roughly 5 to 7 degrees Celsius above where they should be this time of year.

Look at Tokyo's forecast -- well into the middle 30s right through the course of the weekend. And one thing to note as well -- no rain expected in this forecast.

This is also raising concerns. There was actually a media tour of some of the 2020 summer games that are going to be held in Tokyo. And they showed -- a lot of these media representatives, the stadiums and the progress but the temperatures were in the middle 40s. So that raised concerns for the potential for another heat wave timing with the Olympics this time in two years.

Cyril -- back to you.

VANIER: Derek Van Dam -- thank you very much for the update. Thanks.

VAN DAM: All right.

[01:54:56] VANIER: They say hard work pays off in the end, and that was certainly true for a college student in the U.S. state of Alabama who walked 32 kilometers to work on his first day -- that's right, 32.

Walter Carr walked all night from Homewood, Alabama south of Pelham because his vehicle broke down the night before. He says not showing up to work for a moving company was simply not an option. So he walked for more than four hours.

Still, that was not at his work site. So a couple of police officers gave him food and a couple of rides. The woman he was helping to move was so impressed by his story that she posted it on Facebook.

And here's the pay off. When his boss at the moving company saw that post, he gave Carr his own vehicle. He said he was simply blown away by what Carr had done.


LUKE MARKLIN, CEO, BELLHOPS: It's decisions in your life that are sometimes big that you make pretty quickly because they're the right thing to do. And this was one of them. WALTER CARR, BELLHOPS EMPLOYEE: I was walking (INAUDIBLE) that's why

it means a lot to me. I tell people they think something's too as far, and I look at the story I'm like, hey, if Walter can do it I know I can do it.


VANIER: Carr later spoke to CNN and said giving up had never crossed his mind.


MELISSA KNOWLES, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Walter -- it never crossed your mind that I'm just going to call in and tell them that my car broke down?

CARR: That's just not the Walter way. That's just not me.

KNOWLES: Not the Walter way.

CARR: No. That's not the Walter way. >


CARR: Just dedicated.


VANIER: It's just now the Walter Way.

It's been 25 years since the first "Jurassic Park" film roared to box office record. It starred actor Jeff Goldblum as the mathematician who warned how chaos theory could wreck plans to exhibit live dinosaurs. Now his character, Dr. Ian Malcolm is a 7.5-meter statue near London's Tower Bridge.

The movie doesn't have anything to do with the British capital -- it wasn't filmed there, it wasn't set there. But that's not bothering fans from checking out the doc's rather provocative likeness. It will remain in London until July 26th if you're interested. That is to celebrate the film's anniversary.

Thanks for joining us today.

I'm Cyril Vanier.

Stay tuned. We've got more world news coming up next.

Rosemary Church will be your host at the top of the hour. You're in good hands.

Have a great day.