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At Least 13 Dead, 4 Missing After Tour Boat Capsizes; Trump Invites Putin to Washington in the Fall; Week of White House Reversals and Clean-up after Trump-Putin Summit; Trump Goes after Fed for a Second Day. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:13] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And we do begin with breaking news this morning out of Missouri where right now emergency dive crews are searching Table Rock Lake after a tour boat known as a duck boat sinks near Branson. At least 13 people confirmed dead this morning. Officials say four are still unaccounted.

We do have video of this boat as it is sinking. I want to warn you, it's very difficult to watch. Look at this. You see the boat violently being rocked by the storm and the waves, the winds are picking up. The area was under a severe thunderstorm warning at the time. We know that 31 people were on board. We are told children are among the dead.

Dianne Gallagher joins me now with the latest.

They're in there searching for survivors if they can find them, right?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And look, the governor said that at this point finding survivors, the odds are not in their favor right now but there are still four people who are missing. They're searching for those people. The good news for those divers is that the weather conditions are cooperating this morning for them to continue that search.

Again, the bad news is that as you saw in that video those violent, choppy waters would make it very difficult to survive overnight. One of the key questions we have right now is whether or not any of the people were wearing life vests. Now you're not required by regulations to wear life vests the entire time on duck boats because they're a land and water operation.

If you've ever been on one, they go from basically being on the ground, driving like a regular vehicle and then going into the water and coming back onto the ground. That's part of their appeal and there are many cities around the country. Of course, Branson, Missouri, a place where you have church groups and families, especially in the summertime who come and visit.

This is the duck boat operations that have been happening and going on here for nearly 50 years. The owner spoke to CNN this morning about just how devastated they were. One of their crew members remain missing. One of those four people missing at this point. Again, the thunderstorm warnings that were happening about half an

hour before the boat sank. I want you to take a listen to what the owner had to say this morning.


JIM PATTISON JUNIOR, PRESIDENT, RIPLEY ENTERTAINMENT: My understanding was that when the boat went in the water it was calm. And partway through coming back is when everything -- when the waves picked up and then obviously swamped the boat. People are supposed to be able to go out for an outing and have a good time and this -- it should never end this way.


GALLAGHER: I think everybody agrees with that. The people in Branson, Missouri, and really around the country including the president of the United States all sending their condolences to the families and the people there who are affected by this.

Now authorities did point out about 80 feet deep where the accident happened, Poppy. And so again those divers looking for those four remaining people off of that duck boat. There will be a full investigation, of course, leading up to that and we should be hearing from authorities in an hour for more details.

HARLOW: All right. Dianne, thank you for the update. Please keep us posted again.

Four people still missing. Children among the dead.

To Washington now and the White House where the dust has not even begun to settle from this week's mano-a-mano summit with Vladimir Putin and President Trump, and already summit 2.0 apparently underway. If you didn't see that coming, don't feel bad. Neither did the director of National Intelligence who got the news during a live interview at the Aspen Security Summit. Watch this.


ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.



MITCHELL: You -- Vladimir Putin coming to the White House.

COATS: Did I hear you? Did I hear you --




COATS: That's going to be special.


HARLOW: Abby Phillip is at the White House.

I mean, it was -- it was striking at the beginning. He's laughing and it seems like Andrea Mitchell didn't know if he didn't really know but he didn't know, the director of National Intelligence did not know that the national security adviser and the president had invited Vladimir Putin to the White House. It is stunning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was really a stunning moment. And this entire week, Poppy, has been extraordinary. It seems that nearly every day since the president met with Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki, the White House has been trying to clean things up from this summit and from the president's subsequent press conference.

This is just the latest example, the White House moving quickly to announce a second potential meeting with Vladimir Putin even after the first meeting remains unclear what exactly the United States is going to do to implement whatever agreements were made in that room.

[09:05:006] But the DNI shocked at learning this was mirrored by what other folks here in Washington felt, as well. And the president still is getting a lot of questions right now about what exactly his policy is toward Putin, what is he driving at here? And here's how he responded in a CNBC interview about his relationship overall and what he's trying to accomplish.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive. Not a negative. Now, with that being said, if that doesn't work out, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had. The worst he's ever had.


PHILLIP: Well, there are a lot of folks in Washington and even in this building behind me that worry about whether or not getting along is all that needs to be on the agenda here. Meanwhile, Director Coats being so surprised about this has caused some folks in the White House according to "The Washington Post" to worry about whether President Trump might be upset about what he might deemed to be a criticism of him or a betrayal of him but it's too early to know yet what the president thinks about it. He hasn't said anything yet about Coats, at least not today, Poppy.

HARLOW: Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you very much.

Let's talk about all of this with our national security analyst Shawn Turner. And David Sanger is also here, our national security correspondent for "The New York Times" who broke that news yesterday about the personal effort by Vladimir Putin to impact the election and also the author of that great book you just saw on your screen.

Gentlemen, thank you for being here. And let's both listen to something else we heard from the director of National Intelligence.


COATS: I don't know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and the president has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more but that is the president's prerogative. If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way. But that's not my role. That's not my job. So it is what it is.


HARLOW: David Sanger, to you, I mean, what is more concerning I suppose for the American people? One, the fact that the director of National Intelligence didn't know that Vladimir Putin had been invited to the White House or that he still doesn't know four days after the summit what the two gentlemen talked about behind closed doors?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It was the second of those two that I found most surprising, Poppy. Dan Coats' performance yesterday here was remarkable. First of all, he's the most understated, just give me the facts type. He rarely gets out in public to speak, so that was number one. Number two, he came out and said outright when asked by Andrea Mitchell, are you aware of what the content was of the discussion about nuclear issues which included whether to extend the two big nuclear arms control agreements that the United States has right now with Russia, the new START treaty and the intermediate nuclear forces treaty.

And he said he did not yet know what the content was of that. Now imagine that. We're four days out from this summit and the director of National Intelligence can't figure out or hasn't been told by his own boss what was said on basically one of the most critical issues of nuclear security for the United States.


SANGER: I found that more stunning than, you know, he might have Putin come visit in the fall.

HARLOW: But what is stunning, Shawn Turner, is it appears Mike Pompeo at least knows something because he said on FOX News last night that he was told some of the details by the president. Listen to this.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: There was progress made on a handful of fronts, agreements to try and work more closely on counterterrorism, an effort to begin conversations around arms control, to prevent the spread of nuclear proliferation.


HARLOW: I guess good that he knows but Coats doesn't know. Is that odd? Is that concerning?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is concerning. I mean, look. Clearly Dan Coats was caught off guard by this announcement and I think I agree with David. It was stunning that he was able to acknowledge that he didn't know what was happening in this meeting but I think that while we all got a good laugh out of Coats' response yesterday it does speak to a broader issue regarding the relationship that the president has with his intelligence community.

And I think it's fair to say that it's a relationship that's broken. I worked for the previous DNI for just shy of five years and I cannot imagine a scenario in which the president would have met with the leader of a country that's adversarial to the United States and that the DNI would not know about the content of that meeting.

And you know, I think that one of the things that we have to realize here is that Vladimir Putin went into this meeting with the president, this private meeting with the president so that he can control the narrative regarding what comes out of the meeting.

[09:10:05] The president went in this meeting privately because he wanted to have a private meeting and here we are in a situation in which the U.S. national security apparatus, the intelligence community, Defense Department and others are learning about what happened in that meeting, not from the president but from Russian officials and Vladimir Putin. And that's a really concerning situation.

HARLOW: Yes. Gentlemen, let me read you what one year ago an influential D.C. conservative wrote when President Trump met Putin briefly for the first time. Quote, "Trump got to experience Putin looking him in the eyes and lying to him, denying Russian interference in the election. It should be a fire bell in the night warning about the value Moscow plays on honesty, whether regarding election interference, nuclear proliferation, arms control or the Middle East. Negotiate today with Russia at your own peril."

David Sanger, guess who wrote that? That was John Bolton.

SANGER: Let me guess, it was John Bolton, yes.

HARLOW: Yes. And it was the John Bolton just invited Putin to White House. Did his views change or did he sort of grin his teeth, bear it and issue the invite that the president wanted?

SANGER: We have seen a lot of grit his teeth and bear it out of John Bolton. He hasn't said very much. One point a few weeks ago he said he wasn't commenting on all of his previous writing. Well, I can imagine why John Bolton wouldn't want to comment on all his previous writing.

HARLOW: Yes. SANGER: You could have reached, Poppy, for a really great essay he

did about how the president should go meet Kim Jong-un, explain to him where he was going to mail his nuclear weapons, that we weren't not getting into a lengthy conversation with him and only after the weapons were turned over would we then do much. Well, what did we hear from Secretary Pompeo the other day and what did we hear from the president? This is going to be a long, drawn out process.


SANGER: I think that's reality. But it certainly isn't the reality that Bolton thought he was signing on for.

HARLOW: Really quickly, Shawn, before we go, Angela Merkel today, who, you know, is not always on the president's -- on the same page as the president on a lot of things, she welcomed Trump-Putin summit 2.0 if you will. She said, quote, "I believe that it has to become normal for the U.S. president and the Russian president to meet." What do you make of that?

TURNER: Well, look. I think that there are -- there is an argument to be made for dialogue with our adversaries but what really concerns me here is that the nature of this interaction between the president of the United States and Vladimir Putin necessarily is inhibiting the intelligence community's ability to fully understand Russia's intent.

So I think that, you know, she's kind of reflecting what some of the president's supporters in the United States have said with regards to the need for dialogue but if you're going to have that dialogue the president has to understand that after he meets with Vladimir Putin that is a run, don't walk to the intelligence community to his director of national intelligence situation to talk about what happened.

HARLOW: Yes. Or have him in the room with you. That's an option, as well.

TURNER: That's actually a much better option.

HARLOW: Shawn Turner, David Sanger, thank you both very much.

Still to come, as talks begin for that second summit between President Trump and President Putin, the White House still doing cleanup after the first meeting. We're going to take a closer look.

Also, the NFL punts on its new national anthem rule, this after reports that one team was looking to suspend players who conduct protests during the anthem. So where does this go?

And dozens, that's right, dozens of tornadoes ripped through Iowa overnight. Now there is a threat for even more across the country with the severe weather. We're on it.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And Russia's ambassador this morning says that Moscow is open to a visit to the White House by Vladimir Putin in the fall, but as talks begin around this summit 2.0, if you will, the White House is still trying to clean up after the first summit. Here's a recap of what has been an extraordinary week. OK. First, there was this answer from the press conference on Monday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


HARLOW: About hacking the 2016 election. Then the next day, on Tuesday, the president said he need to make a minor clarification.


TRUMP: I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia.


HARLOW: And then, on Wednesday, it seemed President Trump had a clear answer to a reporter's question, but then another clarification followed.


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

TRUMP: Thank you very much. No.

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


HARLOW: And now, another flip. Remember what the president called Putin's offer to allow Robert Mueller to question recently indicted Russian intelligence officers if Russia could interrogate a former US official?


TRUMP: He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. OK? Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: OK. An incredible offer. Now, a day after the White House said the president was still considering that offer, it now says in a statement he disagrees with the idea.

With me now, Eliana Johnson, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "POLITICO". Back with us, Abby Phillip at the White House. Nice to have you both here.

Eliana, looking at all of this, your reporting this morning is fascinating because you say morale inside the White House, your reporting is, is that it's at the lowest point that it's been since the "both sides" debacle around Charlottesville. What is the net effect of, though? Is this just people feeling low? Morale low? Or does this mean departures are in the works?

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The former, I think, Poppy. That really was the upshot of my reporting. And the comparison to Charlottesville, which came up in my reporting, I thought, was so fascinating, the two events share a lot of similarities that happened about a year ago now at the very beginning of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's tenure.

[09:20:07] But they share a lot of similarities in terms of a real gaffe by the president or, some people would argue, intentional statements followed by an attempted cleanup that really didn't convince anybody and left people really thinking that what the president had initially said first about both sides being culpable for the rally in Charlottesville and then about undermining American intelligence assessments at his press conference Monday were what he really intended to say and that the cleanup was sort of half-hearted and mushy.

And I think that the president inviting Vladimir Putin to a summit at the White House at some point in the fall, that really was the exclamation point on this week that has sort of left people inside the White House scratching their heads.

And so, I think we're starting to see a theme with this president that does have advisers inside the White House feeling despondent.

But with Russia, in particular, people argued, though there are calls to resign, and there were with Charlottesville, these things don't have real policy implications necessarily, and so the people in charge of policy like John Bolton and Pompeo, they say why would we leave? We want to safeguard these things.

HARLOW: Right. And to your point, though, about sort of what will policymakers and Republicans in Congress do about this, a stunning opinion piece this morning by Republican Representative Will Hurd in "The New York Times", the title of it is, "Trump is Being Manipulated by Putin, What Should We Do?"

In it, he writes, "By playing into Vladimir Putin's hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized the denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and our foes." And, Abby, this comes a day after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the Trump administration naive on Russia, said that the president misjudged Vladimir Putin. How extraordinary is it to see that Republican public rebuke of a sitting Republican president?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it's somewhat regular thing for a lot of these Republicans to criticize the president.

I think that's the sort of pattern here, is that there's a willingness to criticize, but an unwillingness, or maybe they don't believe that there's anything that they can do, an unwillingness to actually to do anything about it.

I think in the case of Will Hurd, he is in the middle of a really tough re-election bid. He's been a constant critic of the president's on a number of other matters, including on issues at the border.

But you're seeing Republicans being spooked here because they see a president who's acting perhaps in his own self-interest, perhaps not in the interest of the party writ large. There is a risk here going into November that what all of this chaos can do is turn off voters in the middle, who maybe are giving the president the benefit of the doubt about foreign policy issues, but see him acting in a way that is in the words of Lindsey Graham "naive", erratic in some ways.

And just on Eliana's earlier point about the White House morale at this moment, we are at a moment where a lot of aides were already planning on leaving, looking toward the exits. This really hurts morale at a time when it's already been quite low.

HARLOW: Right.

PHILLIP: And there is already a clear sense of a lack of communication and preparedness at the highest levels of this administration. This doesn't help those problems at all.

HARLOW: Eliana, the president taking to Twitter this morning and one of his main messages is an attack on the Fed. The Fed, obviously, increasing interest rates and the president writes this morning, "tightening," meaning raising those rates, "tightening now hurts all that we have done."

It is extraordinary and pretty unprecedented to see a president getting involved in monetary policy and publicly lashing out at the Fed. What are the implications of this?

JOHNSON: What jumps out to me, Poppy, is that President Trump, he ran as somebody who was going to transgress norms, but he also ran as somebody who played on people's distrust of institutions, distrust of Congress, distrust of banks in the wake of the financial crisis.

So, it's interesting to me - and he said he was going to be the savior. So, it's interesting to me to see him in office further undermining people's trust in institutions. And I think that's worrisome. HARLOW: What's the play here, Abby? I mean, whatever he says is not

going to get the Fed to change policy.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it's interesting because this is a president who typically doesn't follow these kinds of norms around any of these institutions.

There was a time not too long ago where he talked about what seemed to be knowledge of what the unemployment rate was going to do before it happened. That's something that presidents are not supposed to do before it is publicly released, but this White House has typically flouted those kinds of norms.

[09:25:00] But it's also, Poppy, important to note that this is not the first time that this is the message that we've gotten from the White House.

A few weeks ago, one of the president's most senior economic advisers warned the Fed that the economy was not overheating and that they shouldn't do anything to put the reins on it.

The White House is trying to balance a couple of things. The economy is doing really well, but the president is pursuing a very risky trade policy. They're trying to keep the economy going and trying to prevent the Fed from doing anything that can hurt the economic growth going forward.

So, they're really trying to push the Fed here in order to kind of give them more room to run on these really risky trade policies.

HARLOW: Except, guess what can really hurt the economic growth we're seeing right now? It's the tariffs that this president has instituted and the Fed noted that this week, something the president probably didn't like to see.

Thank you both, Eliana and Abby. Appreciate it . Have a good weekend.

Ahead for us, the NFL is changing course, halting a new rule that would have punished players for protesting during the national anthem.