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President Trump Finally Holds Putin Responsible for Election Interference; Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: EARLY START continues right now with the incredible offer from Vladimir Putin to President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Certainly as the leader of the country you will have to hold him responsible. Yes.


BRIGGS: 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.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The president calls 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 about it.


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


BRIGGS: Powerful moments on stage. 141 victims of Larry Nassar unite to send their Time's Up message to the world. What an emotional evening at work on stage last night. We'll show you all those highlights.

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

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Thursday, July 19th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. And the "New York Times" reporting this morning that two weeks before his inauguration, President-elect Trump, that he 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 that was gleaned from a top secret source who's close to Vladimir Putin.

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, yes, he was at that meeting as well. And he seemed to confirm the report on CNN last night. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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


KOSIK: Clapper said 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.

BRIGGS: 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?

TRUMP: 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.


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

BRIGGS: The White House confirms it's 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. In exchange, the Kremlin would provide assistance in the ongoing probe of Russia's election interference.

KOSIK: 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.


KOSIK: While the White House is considering the proposal a State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert offered up a forceful rejection calling Russia's assertion, quote, "absolutely absurd."

BRIGGS: All right. Joining us this morning to talk about all this, CNN political analyst is Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.

Good to see you, sir.

KOSIK: Good morning.


BRIGGS: Look, we can get caught up with days of interpreting no as Sarah Sanders said, or would versus wouldn't. But an incredible offer was made by Vladimir Putin to question prominent Americans. It's still being considered because Sarah Sanders says yesterday he wants to work with his team and determine if there is any validity that would be helpful to the process. What do you make of this?

ZELIZER: It's absolutely incredible. And now the president of the White House is even threatening diplomatic immunity and allowing this kind of questioning to take place for a diplomat conducting their business.

[05:05:02] This would really go pretty far in terms of a breach of institutions.

KOSIK: OK. So it's now official. The president finally holds Vladimir Putin responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. Well, it took long enough, right? But it was interesting to see this evolution of him accepting this. If only he would have admitted this even if he's been asking how credible it is. If he had done this on Monday we would have avoided this whole back and forth. Listen to this.


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

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.

GLOR: Do you hold him personally responsible?

TRUMP: I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of the country, you would have to hold him responsible, yes.


KOSIK: OK. The question is, how credible is he? I mean, he spent the better part of, what, two years saying that Putin wasn't responsible, that there was no meddling or interference. And now he comes on once? What gives?

ZELIZER: It's not. That's a verbal gymnastics. He has attacked the intelligence agencies, he's attacked the intelligence, and he stood next to Putin and in front of the whole world, and not only basically defended Putin, but went after U.S. institutions. To say this now at the last minute doesn't give into account over a year of discrediting an attack on our elections, which is the basic storyline here.

BRIGGS: I'll re-tee up my sports reference but you don't get a mulligan in a major championship. It only mattered to call on Vladimir Putin when you're standing beside him. But this last couple of days, what's the damage done here? Big picture.

ZELIZER: Well, so far we don't know politically. There's a lot of damage to our elections. This is really a serious problem. And every time the president pulls back from doing something about it and from being forthcoming, it threatens our elections next time around. Politically we don't know. Still the Republicans are basically verbally attacking him. But we don't know if they're going to do anything more. They might still stand by him.

BRIGGS: But the president laid out -- well, Sarah Sanders laid out things they have done to protect our elections yesterday in her press briefing. And the president has some pretty decent resume in terms of what the administration has done in terms of sanctions, in terms of holding Russia accountable, in terms of pushing back. But how much does that matter versus the rhetoric that comes from the leader of the free world?

ZELIZER: The rhetoric matters. If the president is continually saying this didn't happen or it might have happened, or it's unclear, that matters a lot. The weight of presidential rhetoric matters when it comes to dealing with problems. And there's a lot of people in the intelligence community saying we're not doing nearly enough not only about 2016 but just as important in 2018 and 2020. We need to know our elections are safe.

KOSIK: Yes. But he's known since two weeks before he was inaugurated that this was the case. He received classified information with big names in the room. James Clapper, Admiral Michael Rogers, the list goes on and on. You know, everybody witnessing this and the president grudgingly sort of accepting it and then walking out of the room saying something different. So where do they go from here?

ZELIZER: Well, they have to keep putting pressure. And the really question is, do the Republicans in Congress who have as much power collectively as the president, push the president to walk away from this kind of rhetoric and to actually show the country and the world that he is doing everything possible to make sure our democracy works.

BRIGGS: One thing is clear. This fire has not yet been put out.

Julian Zelizer, we'll check back with you in 30 minutes.

KOSIK: Thanks very much. We'll see you in a bit.

BRIGGS: All right. In case there are any doubt, FBI director Christopher Wray says Russia is still trying to interfere in U.S. politics.


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.


BRIGGS: Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum yesterday, Wray also defended the Mueller investigation, challenging President Trump's characterization of it as a witch hunt.


WRAY: 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.


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

KOSIK: We're following breaking news. British police have identified two suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

[05:10:02] 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 now and doing well.

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


KOSIK: Welcome back. Google is pledging to appeal a huge fine by -- that was 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.

[05:15:05] The EU Commissioner for Competition says no way. 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.


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, they don't seem too worried about this. Google shares barely budging after the 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

KAVANAUGH: 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.


KOSIK: Kavanaugh actually worked under the Independent Counsel law when he was part of Ken Starr's Clinton investigation. 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.

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

KOSIK: 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 on 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.

BRIGGS: All right. A powerful and emotional moment at the ESPY Awards. Survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse unite on stage. Andy Scholes with the "Bleacher Report" next.


[05:22:58] BRIGGS: Boy, was it an emotional night at the ESPYS. Athletes sexually abused by disgraced doctor Larry Nassar honored on stage together.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys. Yes, more than 100 of the athletes that Larry Nassar abused over a 30- year period were honored last night with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for making their stories heard.

It was definitely a powerful image when the 141 survivors took the stage together. They are known collectively as the Sister Survivors. Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman among the women honored and she delivered an emotional message to all survivors of sexual abuse.


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

SARAH KLEIN, GYMNAST: Make no mistake, we are here on the stage to present an image for the world to see. A portrait of survival. A new vision of courage.

RAISMAN: We may suffer alone, but we survive together.


SCHOLES: Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was also honored last night with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. Larry has been battling oral cancer for five years now but despite his own health issues, he continues to do what he can to help others.


JIM KELLY, HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK: You can be a difference-maker. Put a smile on those faces. My kids, my friends, when they came in to see me, not once did they ever have a frown on their face. So 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. Remember that. Always, always persevere like Jimmy V said, never, ever give up.


[05:25:01] SCHOLES: All right. North Carolina head football coach Larry Fedora making some waves yesterday at ATC Media Day saying the game of football is under attack. Fedora questioning the link between football and the degenerative brain and CTE saying he believes there were people using the data in hopes of destroying the game.


LARRY FEDORA, NORTH CAROLINA FOOTBALL COACH: I fear that the game will get pushed so far to one extreme that you won't recognize the game 10 years from now. That's what I worry about. And I do believe that if it gets to that point that our country goes down, too.


SCHOLES: And Fedora also said, guys, that he had military personnel tell him that our military was so strong because of the game of football. Yes, he did walk back some of his CTE comments, saying he believed some studies, but just not others, and that they were exaggerated. But still striking comments there from head football coach. BRIGGS: Stunning comments. He would have been better off saying

look, football is a far safer game than it was 10 years ago, and that would be a true statement there.

SCHOLES: He did. He did say that. He did say that the game is getting safer than it's never been safer. But then again, his other comments were definitely --


SCHOLES: Make you scratch your head.

BRIGGS: Stunning.

KOSIK: All right, Andy Scholes, thanks.

BRIGGS: Andy Scholes, thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

KOSIK: All right. It took a few days and several bumps, but the president finally holds Vladimir Putin responsible for election interference. So why is the White House considering letting Russia interrogate Americans?