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Trump Finally Holds Putin Responsible for Election Interference?. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2018 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:12] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Certainly as the leader of the country you would have to hold him responsible. Yes.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The president finally holds Vladimir Putin responsible for election interference. Now it's reported that the president was told before the inauguration about intel linking Putin to the attacks.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president called it an incredible offer. Now the White House is weighing Vladimir Putin's offer to let the Russians interrogate Americans. Hear what those Americans have to say.


ALY RAISMAN, AMERICAN GYMNAST: Your truth does matter. You matter and you are not alone.


KOSIK: Some really powerful moments on stage. 141 victims of Larry Nassar unite to send their Time's Up message to the world.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Quite a moment there.

BRIGGS: It is indeed. Good to see you, Alison. I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, July 19th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

We start with new reporting from "The New York Times" this morning. That two weeks before his inauguration, President-elect Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating Vladimir Putin personally ordered complex cyber attacks in an effort to sway the 2016 election.

The report says evidence included texts and e-mails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from the top secret source close to President Putin. James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, was at that meeting. He seemed to confirm the report on CNN last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: This is his refusal to accept information that he doesn't want to hear.


BRIGGS: Clapper says his biggest fear in the wake of President Trump's summit performance is that it essentially allows Putin to do just about anything he wants.

KOSIK: After days of criticism and repeated clarifications, President Trump now says he holds Vladimir Putin personally responsible for Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2016 elections.


JEFF GLOR, ANCHOR, CBS EVENING NEWS: You haven't condemned Putin specifically. Do you hold him personal responsible?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would because he is in charge, 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: I'm very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling. 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.


BRIGGS: The president also now says he accepts U.S. assessments of Russia interfered and continues to do so. That's something the president would not say when he was standing next to Putin in Helsinki and that he appeared to question it as recently as yesterday.

More now from senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, three days after that Helsinki summit, the White House and President Trump still talking about Russia, still trying to explain exactly what the president believes Russia's involvement was and still back pedaling and trying to clean up his language from throughout the week.

In a new interview with CBS News taped last night, this is what the president finally said if he thinks Russia is a threat in the upcoming election.


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

TRUMP: Well, I'd accept -- 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.


ZELENY: The White House believes they have moved beyond all of the controversy or they hope they have from that Helsinki summit. But there are still so many questions here about what the president and Vladimir Putin talked about in that closed-door meeting that was nearly two hours long in Helsinki.

The White House released a -- you know, a vague list of topics. They said they talked about Syria, about China, about Crimea, other matters. But still no specifics about what the president talked about with Vladimir Putin.

Now we are still hearing calls on Capitol Hill to subpoena the interpreter to have her come in and talk about what the president said. Most people believe that's unlikely it will happen. They said it will set a bad precedent for leaders. But still so many questions about that summit, still on damage control. Clearly not the summit the president hoped -- Alison and Dave.

KOSIK: OK. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that.

And the White House confirms it is entertaining a proposal from Vladimir Putin for Russia to interrogate prominent Americans. Among them, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, and American born financier Bill Browder who successfully lobbied the U.S. to impose new sanctions on Moscow.

[04:05:05] In exchange, the Kremlin would provide assistance in the ongoing probe of Russia's election interference.

BRIGGS: Putin raised the idea during the Helsinki summit with President Trump who called it an incredible offer. Browder and McFaul responded last night.


BILL BROWDER, AMERICAN-BORN FINANCIER: The whole thing is as corrupt as you could possibly be the fact that the people who passed the Magnitsky Act and people who are investigating money laundering are being targeting to be interviewed and the president of the United States says that's an interesting idea?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Vladimir Putin has been after me for a long time even when I was ambassador, harassing me in ways that no other U.S. ambassador there has ever experienced.

I'm an American citizen. I worked for the government for five years. And it would have been so easy to bat it back.


BRIGGS: While the White house is considering the proposal a State Department spokeswoman offered up a forceful rejection calling Russia's assertion, quote, "absolutely absurd." For the second time in as many days the White House taking the

president's words and denying the apparent intent behind them. On Wednesday the president appeared to say no, twice, when asked if he believed Russia was still targeting the U.S. That directly contradicts his director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Listen for yourself if President Trump followed by the White House reinterpretation.


TRUMP: Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.

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

TRUMP: Thank you very much. No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press, let's go. Make your way out.

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


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

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Had a chance to speak with the president after those comments and the president was -- said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Despite multiple people in the room understanding that the president was responding to that question, and despite the president have never before said the word no, no repeatedly to usher reporters out of the room. Yet you're saying it's a reverse? You're saying the president did?

SANDERS: This is the first thing that the president said after the question was asked was thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And he also said no.

SANDERS: And he said no, I'm not answering anymore questions. And even further, I think even Cecilia didn't realize what the answer was because she asked for clarification and he didn't answer the follow- up.


BRIGGS: For the record, the president did answer the follow-up. He spoke for about 30 additional seconds.

KOSIK: FBI director Christopher Wray says Russia is still trying to interfere in U.S. politicians.


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 maligned influence operations to this day.


KOSIK: Wray was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. He also defended the Mueller investigation, challenging President Trump's characterization of it, which he's characterizing it as a witch hunt.


WRAY: And I do not believe Special Counsel Mueller in on a witch hunt. I think it's a professional investigation conducted by a man that I've known to be a straight shooter in all my interactions with him in my past life in government and certainly since then. So I don't think it's a witch hunt.


KOSIK: The FBI director refused to say if he ever considered resigning. But he also said people should not interpret his low-key manner for him being spineless.

BRIGGS: We're following breaking news this morning. British police have identified two suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy. A source says investigators have been combing through months of surveillance footage from UK airports and from Salisbury where the poisoning happened. Authorities discovered two individuals not previously known as spies by using facial recognition technology. Police have not yet revealed their names. Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned back in March. They are both back home and doing well.

We'll continue to update that throughout the program.

Ahead, it's a move that could reshape the mobile phone industry. Why Google may have to rethink its android business model. Next.


[04:13:13] KOSIK: Welcome back. Google is pledging to appeal a huge fine imposed by the European Union. It's a record penalty. A whopping $5 billion. The European Commission says Google broke the law by requiring manufacturers to install its Google Search and Chrome apps on Android devices as a condition of licensing Google's Apps Store. The EU Commissioner for Competition says that is not allowed.


MARGRETHE VESTAGER, EU COMMISSIONER FOR COMPETITION: In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement its dominance as a search engine. These practices may have denied rivals a chance to innovate and to compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefit of effective competition in the very important mobile sphere. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Google argues its practices have not reduced consumer choice, but if the EU wins its case on appeal, Google will have to change its business model for Android phones in Europe. Its relationship with mobile device makers would be completely reshaped. Investors, though, don't seem too worried. Google shares barely budging after that big fine was announced.

BRIGGS: A possible stumbling block for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Two years ago he told a conservative group he'd like to see the independent counsel's statute overturned. His comment on a three-decade-old Supreme Court ruling is bound to get renewed scrutiny in the midst of the Mueller probe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you think of a case that deserves to be overturned?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you volunteer one?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pending confirmation hearing, yes, sir, right here.

[04:15:05] KAVANAUGH: Thank you very much. Actually I was going to say one, Morrison v. Olson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the independent counsel statute case.

KAVANAUGH: It's been effectively overruled but I would put the final nail in.


BRIGGS: Kavanaugh actually worked under the independent counsel law when he was part of the Ken Starr's Clinton investigation.

KOSIK: It is unclear what Kavanaugh thinks of Special Counsel Mueller's investigations since there is a difference here. A special counsel answers to the Justice Department while an independent counsel effectively answers to no one. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer already demanding Kavanaugh commit to recusing himself from Mueller- related cases.

BRIGGS: Republican Congressman Jim Jordan confirms he has been interviewed in the sexual -- in the investigation of sexual abuse by Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss. Jordan says he told investigators the same thing he's been saying publicly that he did not turn a blind eye to wrestlers' allegations of abuse while he was an assistant coach at the school from 1987 to 1995. A former OSU wrestler now says Dr. Strauss molested him in the 1970s. That's the earliest allegation against the now deceased team physician. Former wrestling captain David Mulvin tells CNN he did not report the molestation to his coaches.

KOSIK: The expected cost of President Trump's planned military parade in Washington about $12 million. The price tag, while not crazy, it is drawing criticism because it's nearly as much as the now cancelled military exercise with South Korea which the president called tremendously expensive. An administration official says the number is a planning figure and cost estimates could change. The parade intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and scheduled for November 10th.

BRIGGS: In Turkey President Erdogan's government has lifted a two- year-old state of emergency. It was imposed July 20th, 2016 following that chaotic coup attempt that left at least 290 people dead and more than 1400 injured. State-run media now says Turkey foresees no serious indications of widespread violence.

President Trump is calling Erdogan to free an American pastor arrested on charges of espionage in the aftermath of the coup attempt. The U.S. has previously urged Turkey to release Andrew Bronson. Yesterday a Turkish court ordered him held until an October trial.

KOSIK: It was a powerful night at the ESPYS. More than 140 of Larry Nassar's victims delivered their message with a memorable show of force and strength.


[04:22:07] BRIGGS: Mark Zuckerberg backtracking after controversial comments about holocaust deniers. The Facebook CEO defending leaving their content on the site claiming in an interview with Recode's Kara Swisher that some deniers aren't intentionally getting it wrong.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: There's a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.


ZUCKERBERG: Right? I find that deeply offensive.

SWISHER: Mm-hmm.

ZUCKERBERG: But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think that there are things that different people get wrong. Either -- I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong but I think that they --

SWISHER: In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead. ZUCKERBERG: It's hard to --


ZUCKERBERG: -- impugn intent and to understand the intent.



BRIGGS: Oy is right. Within hours Zuckerberg e-mailed Kara Swisher to say he got it wrong.

KOSIK: His comments coming one week after Facebook confirmed it would allow InfoWars, now it's a site that traffics in conspiracy theories, to remain on its platform. Facebook now says it will soon begin taking down content that could contribute to imminent violence. But the company will rely on third party partners to make that determination.

BRIGGS: A measure to break California into three states will not be on the November ballot. An order by the state's Supreme Court says significant questions have been raised about Proposition 9. The measure would have asked voters whether California should separate into Northern California, California and Southern California. Backers say splitting California allows regional communities to make better and more sensible decisions. The proposition could appear on a future ballot if the state high court ultimately signs off. The split would be subject to approval by Congress, however.

An emotional night at the 2018 ESPY Awards. Athletes who were sexually abused by disgraced doctor Larry Nassar honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for making their stories heard. Olympic gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman among the 141 survivors who took the stage.


RAISMAN: Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in, impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.

To all of the survivors out there, don't let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone.


BRIGGS: Well said, Aly. Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly who has battled throat cancer for the last five years received the Jimmy V. Award for perseverance. Just this week Kelly learned of an unexpected development concerning his health. His message Jimmy V's never give up.


JIM KELLY, HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK: Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow.

[04:25:06] If you have someone out there suffering, it doesn't have to be cancer. It could be someone not having a good day. It could be your mom, your dad. It could be your grandparents. What you say to them and the smile that you have on your face that can be the difference in them making it to the next day.


BRIGGS: The ESPYS also honored three coaches who died protecting students during the massacre at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel, and Chris Hixon, all posthumously received the Best Coach Award.

A night that's often just about celebrities and --

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: And laugh lines. It was incredibly emotional from start to finish.

KOSIK: Definitely serious.

OK. Well, it took a few days and several bumps but the president finally holds Vladimir Putin responsible for election interference. But why is the White House considering letting Russia in interrogate Americans?