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Russian Government Continues to Leak Information on Private Meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin; Trump Administration Announces Russian President Putin to Visit White House; NTSB Announces Investigation into Duck Boat Sinking in Missouri; Cardiologist Who Once Treated Former President George H. W. Bush Shot; Jury Selection to Begin for Trail of Paul Manafort. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 21, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:02] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you and welcome to Saturday. I am Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I am Victor Blackwell.
After a week of strong criticism over the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, the White House is now worrying that meeting may have played into the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
PAUL: Before the Helsinki summit, the president's team was riding this wave of declining support for the Mueller probe. Now that president's performance may actually embolden Mueller.
BLACKWELL: This is happening as Defense and State Department leaders are defending plans for another Putin summit, this time in Washington.
PAUL: CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is live in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, near the president's golf club. Sarah, what are you learning this morning?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, President Trump's lawyers are afraid that Trump's highly criticized performance alongside Vladimir Putin this week could erase any advantage they had gained over the past several months when it comes to public's perception of the Russia investigation. Trump and his allies had waged a relentless campaign of attacks against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the allegations of collusion and the FBI itself. And public polling had begun to show an erosion of support for Mueller just at Department of Justice had released an inspector general report that raised questions of potential bias among two FBI officials who went on to join Mueller's team.
But sources tell our colleagues Dana Bash and Gloria Borger that Trump's team now fears that the president's disastrous performance in Helsinki as well as the indictment last week of 12 Russian intelligence agents accused of conducting cyberattacks against Americans during the election could stop Trump's momentum and could potentially even embolden Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And, of course, the shifting tide comes against the backdrop of negotiations between the White House and special counsel over the prospect of Trump sitting down for interview. Trump's lawyers had sought to avoid interview all together or at least severely limit the scope of what investigators could ask of the president. So clearly this is not an ideal point in the process for Trump's legal team to have such a weakened hand, Christi.
PAUL: Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: This morning, Russia is giving its version of the Helsinki summit, calling President Trump's date with Vladimir Putin better than super. Although the White House was quick to release information that President Putin is visiting Washington in the fall, it is not giving out any details about what actually happened in Helsinki. CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is live in Moscow. Sam, how are the Russians describing what they call the fruits of the summit?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're starting to incrementally eke out details of what passed between the men in that secret meeting that went on more than an hour. Among them are uncontroversial issues such as the ministry of defense announcing very soon after the meeting in Helsinki that they would begin preparations for future arms reduction talks under the SALT treaty, which as you know comes to an end in the next 18 months. Not very controversial.
Then they started talking, and when I say they, it's either the foreign ministry or Putin's people, sometimes the ministry of defense, but Russian officials in general saying there was talk about cooperation on counterterrorism, not controversy there, cyber, said without irony given the travails of the Trump administration and allegations of cyber hacking right across Europe as well as the United States by Russia.
Then they went on to talk about whether there was possibility of agreement over the repatriation of Syrian refugees. This is something that they believe have an agreement on and it's now at a technical level. That would be fine except for the American administration's position is that there will be no repatriation of Syrian refugees into areas controlled by the Assad regime which is precisely where the Russians would want to put them, creating friction there for Donald Trump.
And then on Ukraine, and this is something the White House has finally pushed back on, suggestion that Donald Trump may consider backing a referendum in the east of the country which is partly occupied by Russian troops and their proxies. So they're starting to eke stuff out, but above all trying to control the narrative. This is very much seen here, and I'm afraid probably in Europe, too, and among America's allies, as a Russian initiative wholeheartedly.
BLACKWELL: And the White House appears to be reacting, only reacting here to what we're getting from Moscow. Sam Kiley, thanks so much.
PAUL: So Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst and former adviser to President Obama's national security adviser is with us now as well as Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian and history professor at Rice University. Thank you both for being here. Sam, to you first. Why do you think President Trump is allowing President Putin to dictate the messaging?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that unfortunately President Trump handed over the reins for this Helsinki summit to President Putin the minute that he agreed to a one-on-one because he knew that President Putin would be able to control the message coming out of that meeting based upon President Putin's manipulation of Russian media -- Russian media is entirely state controlled -- as well as Russia's manipulation of our own media via bots and trolls.
[10:05:15] But there's a nuance here that's worth mentioning, and that is coming out of these summits, statements are not supposed to be this up in the air. I worked with President Obama and the rest of the team on getting statements prepared in rough draft form in advance of a summit, particularly when they were complex issues like Syria or Ukraine or North Korea. And in this case, it is really surprising to me that the White House did not going into the summit figure out what they want to say with the Russians on this host of issues, and then before the press conference or immediately thereafter issue a very clear public record of what was discussed in areas for future cooperation. That is how it's supposed to work so there's not public distance and we're not playing catch up to what the Russians say.
PAUL: And Douglas, you told Don Lemon earlier this week after the Helsinki meeting that there's a taint of treason around the White House. Do you mean that from the legal perspective or otherwise?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, from a point of public perception. We've been using words like impeachment and treason, obstruction of justice, those are words that are being used that there's something off about the way Donald Trump is behaving. There's something that doesn't feel right, that doesn't smell right. Why, after Russia has done a cyberattack on our country, are we allowing Russia to take this kind of lead on the Helsinki summit? Why wasn't there other people in the room when Donald Trump is known to be a gut player and misspeaks almost daily, we have to fact check him constantly, thousands of mistakes he makes on a regular drumbeat basis?
So now we're sitting in the United States in a precarious position. We've angered all our European allies. Putin is able to take lead on what actually happened in Helsinki, and we have no transparency coming out of this White House of what possibly was said. And this can cause big problems on things like the Ukraine down the line because Putin is going to say Trump told me this would be OK to do, and we have no recourse to it.
And finally, having Putin do a victory lap here in Washington, D.C., is just rubbing salt in the wound of a horrible summit that Donald Trump oversaw in Helsinki.
PAUL: So when you talk about that redo with President Putin and the U.S., if it happens prior to the election, is that helpful to him, Douglas? I'm trying to understand the degree of risk with a Putin 2.0 in the U.S. here. BRINKLEY: I think obviously President Trump thinks it helps him. He
thinks in terms of A-list people. Putin is one of the great names in the world. He will be able to take him around Washington, D.C., be seen as a big power player, talk about foreign policy. Perhaps they'll use that for the arms reduction moment where they say we're making the world safer with nuclear weapons, and that would be an early act for Donald Trump. Then you have the Kavanaugh hearings which will be televised, and he thinks he might be able to build some momentum on seeming to be a hands-on president, somebody deeply engaged heading into midterms.
The problem with that strategy is he makes a mistake every moment. Very likely will turn out to be another disastrous summit because Putin has been around a long time. Nobody has ever accused him of not being exceedingly smart. He's worked for the KGB forever, and Donald Trump is just being outmaneuvered and outplayed by a master geopolitical Machiavellian.
PAUL: So Samantha, when we talk about a second meeting here in the U.S. now with Putin, I want you to listen with me to Shawn Turner, the former director of communications for U.S. national intelligence, what he told Wolf Blitzer last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: For the president to invite Vladimir Putin here during that time puts a lot of stress on the intelligence community. I'm also told that one of the things he is interested in is having Vladimir Putin here during the big military parade that he has talked about. So I think that the president is focused on his own interest with regard to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Sam, what do you make of the timing in that assertion from Shawn Turner that he is hearing it is the military parade that's part of the intention of getting Putin here in that timeframe?
VINOGRAD: It's funny, Christi, last time I was in Moscow I actually witnessed Russia's military parade where they paraded missiles down the main street of the Kremlin in a show of force. And I think that really tells us that Putin and President Trump have a lot in common. They like to show their conventional military assets as much as they can.
[10:10:01] But it is a little ironic because President Putin would be coming here ostensibly to see a symbol of U.S. military power and military parade and our servicemembers when he is actually actively attacking us as we speak in the run up to the 2018 election. I am here at the Aspen Security Forum, and we heard I think it was yesterday from a senior executive from Microsoft that Microsoft has specific data on hacks related to the 2018 election. It wasn't really a surprising admission, but it was I think the first specific evidence that we've seen come out publicly. And so President Putin could be sitting next to President Trump watching our military parade while Russia is literally attacking us in real time. That's a very disconcerting thought for me.
And to Shawn's point, Shawn and I worked together at the White House, it is an enormous strain on the intelligence community whenever any foreign leader comes. And in this case we would be literally letting the person who is attacking us come onto the homeland, and we'd have to devote incredible intelligence assets to support that visit and try to really mitigate any counterintelligence attack that would happen during that time as well.
PAUL: The Microsoft executive Tom Burt saying there were attempted hacks into at least three Congressional campaigns that are focused on the November midterms.
Douglas, when we listen to everything that Putin is putting out there about this meeting in Helsinki, is the White House going to be forced to address this now that even this morning -- the news this morning was that we've heard them say we talked about military security, we talked about the Syria deal. Now this morning he is saying we also talked about potential agreement in Ukraine.
BRINKLEY: I think so. I think the Trump White House now has to at least match the rhetoric coming out of Moscow. We should be able to know what was said about Syria, what was said about Ukraine, about the cyberattacks. We need information. The United States does best on these summits when the public is part of it. This idea of a secret chamber with only a translator who can't talk and no secretary of state or NSC person in the room, it goes against the American grain.
And when we have tried things like this, when FDR tried to do deals with Stalin in the dark days around Yalta during World War II, it left a lot of confusion over what is a free election in Poland. It is always better to have a transcript and know what occurred, but Donald Trump doesn't like that because that means he is not the only one in the catbird seat, he is not the unique king who knows everything that's going on. The chaos and lack of information emanating from Trump about that meeting, the president thinks it serves his own personal interests, it makes him seem large when in actuality it makes the United States seem small.
PAUL: Samantha Vinograd, Douglas Brinkley, we always appreciate your insights. Thank you.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: This morning, we're hearing from a woman who lost nine family members, including three of her own children in that deadly duck boat accident. Coming up, our live report from Branson, Missouri, as an investigation continues into the cause.
PAUL: A prominent Houston doctor shot and killed. Police are looking for his killer now. That doctor has a connection as well to former president George H. W. Bush.
BLACKWELL: And jury selection is scheduled to begin next week in the trial of President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Reportedly prosecutors have 500, nearly 500 pieces of evidence against him.
[10:17:50] BLACKWELL: This morning, two people injured in that Missouri duck boat crash are out of the hospital.
PAUL: This comes of course as authorities announce the identities of the 17 people who were killed on the tourist boat, capsized in tropical storm like conditions Thursday. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live from Branson, Missouri, right now. Kaylee, what's the latest on the investigation, and talk to us about this mom we're hearing from?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Victor, Christi. The NTSB saying it will take one year they believe to figure out what happened and why and to release their final report. They're hopeful that in the next couple of weeks they could release a preliminary report, but really stunning to hear could be one year before we have answers to so many questions that are being asked here.
Four survivors are still hospitalized, four of 14 survivors from Thursday night's tragedy, and we're hearing from one of them for the first time. Tia Coleman boarded that ride, the Duck's Vessel, with 10 family members. They had traveled here from Indianapolis. Only two of them survived. She shared her experience, the vision of the swells coming into the boat and what she thought were the final moments of her life. She says she felt like she struggled for an hour, but it was probably only 10 minutes. Now in hearing from a survivor, of course, you're also going to get answers to some of the questions that investigators need, like what about the lifejackets on board? Listen to what she explained.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIA COLEMAN, SURVIVED BOAT ACCIDENT: They told us they're up here. This is where they are. They showed us where they were. They said but don't worry about it, you won't need it. We said OK. So when the captain took over, I thought that at some point he would say grab the jackets now. But we were told to stay seated, and everybody stayed seated. Nobody grabbed them. When that boat is found, all those lifejackets are going to be on there because nobody pulled one off. You weren't supposed to grab them unless you were in distress, which we were, but he told us you don't need them.
[10:20:02] It was -- I don't know what to say, it was definitely lifechanging, life-altering for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: That vessel is still at the bottom of Table Rock Lake. It sank in 40-foot deep water then landed on its wheels and rolled another 40 feet down, divers said. The NTSB and the Coast Guard say retrieving that vessel is a priority in this investigation. They want to do so in a way that will help preserve so much of the evidence aboard that boat, so it will take a couple of days. They weren't able to give us a specific timeline. But, again, one year the NTSB is saying before they could have a
report for us. The question now being asked of local and federal officials, Victor and Christi, is what can be done in the meantime to prevent anything like this from happening again.
PAUL: Absolutely. Kaylee Hartung, thank you very much.
And from here, we want to take you to Houston because police there are looking for the suspect that shot and killed a cardiologist. This is a cardiologist who treated former president George H. W. Bush at one point.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Polo Sandoval has the story.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police in Houston searching an area near Texas medical center for a murder suspect after cardiologist Mark Hausknecht was gunned down Friday while riding his bicycle to work. Police say the doctor was riding north when he passed the shooter, also on a bike, going in the other direction.
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The suspect was on a bicycle as well, drove past, rode past the doctor, turned and fired two shots. The doctor immediately went down.
SANDOVAL: A private ambulance passed the scene and EMTs stopped to help before Houston fire department arrived.
I'd seen somebody flagging us down. I said something is wrong. Then I drove up a little further, and I'd seen the gentleman sprawled out on the floor with blood all over him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stopped, rendered aid to the best of our ability.
SANDOVAL: Authorities said investigators don't know if the shooting was targeted, random, or caused by road rage. A few people may have witnessed the attack and police are looking into surveillance video.
FINNER: Our homicide investigators are interviewing people. Another thing about the medical center, as you know, there are a lot of cameras. So we're hoping that we can get some footage of this.
SANDOVAL: Dr. Hausknecht was a well-known cardiologist, one of his patients former president George H. W. Bush whose spokesman issued this statement. "Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man. President Bush said in a statement "I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers." A Houston Methodist Hospital spokesman said not only was he revered by his patients but Mark was highly regarded by peers and colleagues. He was recently recognized as a super doctor.
BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Polo Sandoval for that report. Still to come, Russia controlling the narrative about what happened in
Helsinki. Now the president's legal team is worried his behavior may have emboldened the special counsel's investigation.
PAUL: Also, the trial is set to begin next week for President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The charges he is facing, and what can we really expect?
[10:27:48] PAUL: It's 27 minutes on a Saturday morning, 27 minutes past the hour, 10:00. I should be more clear about that. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I think everybody knew what you meant. I'm Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: Saturday morning. You never know.
BLACKWELL: That's true. People are just starting. We have been at it for hours.
Russia is now controlling the narrative about the Helsinki summit, telling their own version of what was discussed between President Trump and President Putin, all of which has yet to be confirmed or denied. They're starting to leak out a few thing by the White House.
PAUL: So as the president's legal team is becoming increasingly concerned that the Helsinki summit could strengthen Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation, CNN correspondent Brian Todd wanted to look into that.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin is in full swagger, seeking to control the narrative as the fallout from the Helsinki summit hovers over President Trump.
JEFFREY EDMONDS, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL: Putin sees an opportunity here. Trump is weak, and Trump provides him an opportunity to really communicate to the Russian people and the world overall that Russia is back as a great power again.
TODD: There's this high-tech taunt of the U.S. from Russian state media. Putin's team releasing new video of sophisticated Russian weapons being developed, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, an underwater drone, two missiles which the Russians say fly faster than the speed of sound. A U.S. official has said some of these weapons aren't close to being operational. Analysts say that's not the point.
BARRY PAVEL, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Putin showing the videos of either current or imagined Russian weapon systems is part of the deterrence part from his end, saying we have very capable defenses. They're getting more capable. It doesn't matter what NATO does. You might as well stop trying. TODD: And since the summit there's been gloating in Putin's state-
controlled media that the former KGB colonel got the upper hand on Trump, taunting him for not sticking up for his country.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish.
TODD: A host on state-run TV in Moscow pounced on that with a cruel insult of Trump.
OLGA SKABEEVA, RUSSIAN TV HOST, (through translator): When he says that because of foolishness and stupidity of the United States we have bad Russian-American relations, this smells like he is a Kremlin agent.
[10:30:00] TODD: Another possible sign of Putin's manipulation, reports of a secret offer. According to "Bloomberg," Putin proposed to Trump hold a referendum on Russia's occupation of eastern Ukraine. The report says Trump asked Putin not to discuss the idea publicly so Trump could think it over. Supporting what would likely be a sham vote in Ukraine would run counter to America's stance against Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The NSC now says Trump won't support that referendum, and analysts say there's growing pressure on the president to take the offensive and stand up for his own country instead of the Russian leader.
EDMONDS: I think the president needs to stop making statements that make Putin seem like a good guy.
TODD: But analysts say they're not confident that President Trump will get tough and turn that narrative around on Putin because every time the president shows some backbone, like saying he would be Putin's worst enemy if things breakdown, then he also seems to waiver and extend an olive branch, like inviting Putin to Washington for a summit.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BLACKWELL: Joining us to discuss, former south regional director for the 2012 Obama campaign Tharon Johnson, and Brian Robinson, former assistant communications chief of staff for Georgia's governor. Gentlemen, welcome back.
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good to be here.
BLACKWELL: Brian, first to you. We spent the last few days watching the White House not would but wouldn't, no, but not that no. And, hey, let's do this again. We are stretching onto a week. Why hasn't the White House taken control of the narrative while Putin is telling his people here's what we agreed to and we're moving forward.
ROBINSON: We still don't know what happened in those meetings. And of course, the media narrative has been words like "disaster." I've even seen treason and traitorous. It has been so over the top.
BLACKWELL: Do you think it went well?
ROBINSON: I think they need to tell us what happened in that meeting. I think the president needs to come out with a strong message. I think he needs to show the American people that he went in there from a position of strength.
I think one thing that they're messing up on communications now is making Putin look like he won. They can stop it, but they have got to put out a message that makes sense, that is believable, because the facts are on their side. They have been much harder on Russia than the Obama administration was. They have funded Ukraine's lethal arms. They have said we are not going to rebuild Syria as long as Bashar al- Assad is in power. They have worked to increase NATO funding. So they're doing a lot of things to take on Russia. Let's make that our message.
BLACKWELL: Why couldn't he say that when he was six feet from the man?
ROBINSON: I wish he would. I wish he would. I do know that the administration is putting out those messages. They're not necessarily coming on the Twitter account or from the president himself, but the record from this administration is significantly different than the warm and fuzzy words towards Putin you hear from the president himself.
BLACKWELL: So let's put aside for a second because we'll come back to it, the one-on-one versus having everybody in the room from the start approach to this meeting. There are many important topics that the U.S. has to discuss with Russia. What's wrong with talking again?
THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Here's the problem with talking again. Number one, we don't know what was discussed because the White House won't tell us. And one thing about President Trump that we have seen, Victor, if that he had news to brag about, if he is ever in a posture where he is driving the narrative or driving the conversation, he would tell the American people.
And so I think the thing that's really getting overshadowed is I believe that there were probably were some things discussed. But what's coming out from what we're hearing from Russia is that he cut a deal with them on something that we know that the U.S. will not honor. And number two, to come out and stand beside this man, to your point, six feet next to him and make the comments that he made to me was very un-American and unpatriotic.
And the thing that's really even more baffling to me is that clearly Russia attacked our country, and Russia is still making attempts to attack our country. But the thing that I think is so obvious here is that when you have this Manchurian candidate in Trump that occupies the White House, he doesn't want to come out and criticize Putin because I think he wants this existence again in 2020. I believe that bringing him to Washington, we should not be inviting him. I think Senator Blumenthal said this earlier in your show, we should not be inviting Putin to Washington. We should be indicting Putin at a time when we know there are operatives on his team that clearly interfered with this election. So I just thing having a second conversation with no one present to really tell us what is being discussed is very dangerous for the U.S.
BLACKWELL: So let's talk about --
ROBINSON: Tharon was Obama's southern regional director. And Obama's response to the Russian meddling was hey, uncle Putin, please don't do this. Please don't do this.
BLACKWELL: Let me ask you. Did Trump even wag his finger, did he even say please don't do this? If you make fun of President Obama for having done as little as he did, and even Democrats will admit he didn't do enough, President Trump did less and wouldn't even say yes he did it when he was standing next to the man.
ROBINSON: There's a disconnect to the words that your missing, that's true, and his record, which has been much tougher on Russia than what we have seen historically. And it is a better record on Russia than Bill Clinton, than George W. Bush's.
[10:35:01] JOHNSON: What President Obama did is that -- you've seen the images. The last time that these two men met, President Obama was very clear. He stood up to Putin, he told him a lot of thing that he continues to do to harm our country was not -- so this whole narrative that the Republicans want us to believe that Trump is going to put America first and he is strong on foreign affairs, he is the weakest leader that we've had on foreign affairs. We've seen him time after time --
BLACKWELL: Even Democrats suggest that Obama could have done more. He learned in fall of 2016 that there was interference.
JOHNSON: Yes, but the times were different, Victor. One thing that President Obama will go down in his legacy is that he kept America safe, OK? And whether you don't like his approach, and I would take a very diplomatic presidential approach to dealing with some of the issues that we have on Russia versus this being manipulated and basically being told what to do and afraid to come out and say what this country continues to --
BLACKWELL: How can you have it both ways because if we say in 2018 that Putin is attacking this country, the first attack happened under Obama's watch. Can you not admit that that attack happened under Obama's watch? He could have done more as some Democrats have said, and he did not do that.
JOHNSON: I would have wanted my president, Barack Obama, to do more. But at the time he was receiving the intelligence, we didn't know it was as deep as it was. We didn't know that there were staffers that were clearly communicating and colluding with the campaign in Russia to basically try to take the election from Hillary Clinton. So I think to blame this on President Obama is what the Trump campaign and what Brian is attempting to do. Trump is the president now. BLACKWELL: Putin is responsible. Nobody is blaming Obama or Trump.
The question is what will you do now, and what could he have done when he found out?
I need to move because we're looking forward to this next meeting. Is it better, communications guys, south regional director, to have it before the midterm or to have it after?
ROBINSON: I think if he has it in Washington, it has got to be a show of strength. It has got to be more choreographed and scripted than what we have seen.
ROBINSON: I think they're looking at the fall. It would be before the midterms.
BLACKWELL: It could be after. It could be after. From my perspective, we were talking about this in the newsroom, is it possible to have it after the midterm, then Republicans are running against remember what happened in July when the president stood next to him, or they could be running on what could be a stronger Donald Trump the second time around.
JOHNSON: I think if he has it before the midterms, it puts every establishment Republican at risk who is on the ballot. Let me tell you why. Donald Trump's campaign was centered around destroying the Republican Party. So if you're an establishment candidate right now on the ballot on the Republican side or on the Democratic side, you're in trouble because Trump has motivated 90 percent of Republicans who support him.
But if he has this summit before midterm elections, I think that they run the risk of losing more seats than they anticipated in the House and the Senate because you cannot explain what just happened. And to have him come over again and don't come from a position of strength and power, and more importantly just the whole notion we're talking about, Victor, that we are bringing a Russian dictator, a foreign hostile to Washington, and we want to figure out some way to embrace him, therein lies the problem with this administration.
BLACKWELL: Thirty seconds, I've got to go.
ROBINSON: Two things. One, this midterm election is not going to be determined on Russia policy. The biggest Russia thing to play in the midterm is the Mueller probe. One thing for Republicans is that their voters distrust the probe, think it's a witch hunt. So that's one thing going in Republicans' favor. Their people are staying strong on this. This is not going to be about whether or not Donald Trump said nice things about Vladimir Putin at a news conference. That's not what this election is going to be about.
And two, the other part of it is that the president is working to keep the country safe. So there is --
JOHNSON: It's a message -- (LAUGHTER)
ROBINSON: If this averts a war or more problems in Ukraine or more problems in Syria, those are good things, very much like with the Kim Jong-un. It will come out on the back end.
BLACKWELL: But he's also got to fight back against the attack that is happening now. When you say war, you're talking hot war. But if there's an attack that's already been compared to 9/11 already made against this country, he has got to respond to that as well. We have got to wrap it there. I am already over time. Brian Robinson, Tharon Johnson, thank you both.
PAUL: All right, the trial is set to begin next week against President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The charges he faces, there are 500 pieces of evidence here. Let's talk about it.
[10:43:50] PAUL: It doesn't seem like comedy music.
BLACKWELL: It's a really interesting selection for that music.
BLACKWELL: It's a great series. Maybe from the Marx age. Seriously, jury selection starts next week in the first trial for the special counsel's Russia investigation.
PAUL: CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on what this highly anticipated trial is going to look like.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paul Manafort will soon emerge from his jail cell to face a judge and jury inside a Virginia courtroom.
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He just won the primary process with a record number of votes.
SCHNEIDER: The man who served for five months as Donald Trump's campaign chairman now faces 25 criminal charges in two separate cases in Virginia and Washington, D.C., amounting to a maximum of 305 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Manafort lost his fight to move this week's trial away from Alexandria, Virginia, which is just across the Potomac from Washington, to Roanoke, four hours outside the beltway. Manafort faces 18 counts of bank and tax fraud in Virginia where prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team laid out nearly 500 pieces of evidence they plan to present. [10:45:02] They'll include pictures of Manafort's five homes, spanning
from Manhattan to Virginia, and other photos documenting his once lavish lifestyle, filled with cars, high end clothing, and even a watch and other items from the self-proclaimed most expensive store in the world, Bijan.
MANAFORT: Mr. Trump will be officially the nominee of the Republican party. So we're excited about that.
SCHNEIDER: Just one month after that announcement and Donald Trump clinching the nomination, Paul Manafort was forced out. He left the campaign in August, 2016, amid questions about his past lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainian government and the payments he received. More than a year later in October, 2017, the special counsel's team indicted Manafort, charging him with hiding money he made in Ukraine to avoid paying taxes and then lying about his debt to secure new loans.
Manafort's lawyers have been fighting charges for months on two fronts. In addition to the Virginia case, Manafort is charged with seven other counts in Washington, D.C., including failing to register as a foreign agent. That trial is set to start in September. In June, the D.C. district judge revoked Manafort's $10 million bail, which included house arrest, and sent him to a jail two hours south of Washington. The judge scolded Manafort after prosecutors said he contacted witnesses in his case and asked them to lie.
MANAFORT: I have no foreign clients. I have no clients. I have one client, Donald Trump.
SCHNEIDER: The man who arguably got him to the Republican nomination is now more recognizable for his mugshot. The trial will be the first major spotlight for the special counsel's team that has already secured five guilty pleas, including Manafort's former deputy Rick Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. So far Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought 191 criminal charges against 32 people and three companies as part of his investigation into Russian meddling and other matters that arise from that investigation.
And Mueller's team is trying to compel five unnamed witnesses to testify in Paul Manafort's trial, offering them immunity from prosecution in exchange. It will be up to the judge if he decides to force those five to testify. A hearing in Manafort's case is scheduled for Monday. That will determine what evidence will be allowed in, and jury selection is expected to begin Wednesday, setting up a trial start for end of the week.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
BLACKWELL: Quick break. We'll be right back.
[10:52:36] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to Newsroom. I am Coy Wire with some Saturday morning motivation for your in this week's difference makers brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.
When Tommie Smith raised his right fist following his 200-meter gold medal victory in the 1968 Olympics, he sought to raise awareness for racial and social equality. Today he is still a driving voice of activism.
TOMMIE SMITH, 1968 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Mexico, 68, indicated a final moment for me. But that final moment interpreted more than just running the race. Guns sounded, I was off. The body responded to a thought of, OK, this is it, son. All the work you did, all of the Olympic project, human rights talk you did and speeches, and you're going to fail it now? You can't do that.
Then I remembered politically a responsibility, a responsibility. The right hand in the air with the black glove represents power. Of course the head bow was a prayer. It was a prayer of hope, a prayer of equality.
We were sent home because of our, as they call it, our un-American activities. Came back to San Jose State amidst many cameras, many boos. No one there to welcome us. For a 24-year-old, this is kind of tough. If this is meant for me, let it be. Do what you can, no matter how small it is, because it's great to somebody. I did somebody some good. But God said don't stop. And I continue to do that even as I sit here today.
[10:58:42] PAUL: More than 40 million Americans don't have enough food to eat, but nearly half of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted every year.
BLACKWELL: It's a paradox our CNN Hero saw firsthand and then decided to do something about. Meet Maria Rose Belding.
MARIA ROSE BELDING, CNN HERO: There was a food pantry in my church that I grew up working in. You would have way too much of one thing and would be in desperate need of a different thing. Inevitably some of it would expire, and I ended up throwing a lot of it away. When I was 14, I realized that doesn't make sense. The Internet was right in front of us. That is such an obvious thing to fix. If it turns green, you would think the novelty of it would wear off. It doesn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: To see more, go to CNNHeroes.com. While you're there, you can nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero. We would love to meet them.
And we hope you make good memories today. Thank you for being with us.
BLACKWELL: There's a lot more coming up in the next hour. And we hand it over now to our colleague Fredricka Whitfield.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: This is a hello and a goodbye.
PAUL: It is.
BLACKWELL: Every weekend, yes, it is.
WHITFIELD: All right, have a good one.
PAUL: You, too. You, too.
WHITFIELD: It is 11:00 on the east coast. I am Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.
Right now, two major stories hanging over President Trump as he spends the weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey. First the White House remaining silent as Russia shapes the narrative on the controversial and stunning summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.