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Trump: U.S. Will Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal; Former FBI Director Comey to Testify in Senate. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 1, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Going it alone. President Trump announces that starting today he is pulling out of the -- he's pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement in which nearly 200 nations have pledged to fight global warming. The president says he's open to negotiating a new deal that he says would be fairer to Americans.
[17:00:22] Growing oppositions. There were objections to the president's move from within the White House, the cabinet and the president's own family. Major corporations and dozens of U.S. mayors have already signaled their dismay. What will the real impact of the president's decision be?
Investigating Sessions. Lawmakers confirmed CNN's reporting that they're investigating whether the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had another secret meeting with the Russian ambassador. And they revealed they've asked the FBI to look into possible perjury.
Putin's denial. U.S. intelligence has already said the election meddling trail leads directly to the Kremlin, but Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government isn't to blame for the cyber- attacks. Now he says patriotic Russian hackers may be responsible.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. In a stunning move that puts the United States in opposition to the rest of the world, President Trump had announced he's pulling the U.S. out of a nearly 200-nation Paris Climate Accord aimed at limiting global warming. The move fulfills a campaign pledge and will find favor among President Trump's base, especially in coal mining states and other hard-hit areas of the economy.
But it comes over the opposition of some cabinet members and senior White House officials, and even his daughter Ivanka, who urged the president to change U.S. commitments to the agreement without withdrawing from the agreement.
Also breaking right now, fired FBI director James Comey is now set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee one week from today. He's expected to address his private encounters with President Trump, who reportedly urged him to end his investigation into Michael Flynn's Russia ties. That comes at Senate Democrats reveal they asked the FBI to investigate ties between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russia, and possible perjury during his confirmation process.
And Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is shrugging off but not flatly denying charges that the Kremlin sponsored cyberattacks on America's election campaign. Putin claims there may have been patriotic private Russian hackers who acted independently on behalf of Russia.
I'll talk to Democratic Congressman Jack -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with President Trump's blockbuster announcement that he's pulling the United States out of the nearly 200-nation Paris climate agreement. Let's go straight to our White House correspondent Sara Murray.
Sara, break it down for us.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in many ways we saw President Trump go back to basics today. He hit the sort of nationalist theme, the "America first" theme that he campaigned on, as he made the monumental announcement that the U.S. would no longer be a part of the Paris climate agreement.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.
MURRAY (voice-over): Today President Trump is putting a checkmark next to one of his key campaign promises.
TRUMP: In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Thank you. Thank you. But begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction.
MURRAY: Trump announcing the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in the face of protests from business groups, world leaders and even Trump's own daughter, Ivanka.
While critics have said backing out of the deal will put the U.S. at a disadvantage on the world stage, Trump insisted the Paris agreement was bad for business and bad for the U.S. economy.
TRUMP: Major economic wound. We would find it very hard to compete with other countries.
MURRAY: In the past, Trump has claimed climate change is a hoax, but he shifted his rhetoric on Thursday.
TRUMP: As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do. [17:05:04] MURRAY: Insisting his decision was driven by economic
factors rather than his view of global warming.
TRUMP: This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.
MURRAY: But Trump also left the door open to renegotiating the agreement or striking an entirely new climate deal.
TRUMP: We'll set down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we could do that's much better than the Paris Accord.
MURRAY: The move to withdraw distances the United States from nearly every nation on the globe. Just two countries, Syria and Nicaragua, refused to sign onto the 2015 global agreement to curb climate change.
But it also scratches off another campaign trail promise, one that's sure to be cheered by Trump's conservative base.
TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
MURRAY: Former President Obama, whose administration negotiated the climate deal, quickly denounced Trump's decision, warning it could diminish America's standing on the world stage.
In a statement, Obama said, "Even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I'm confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way and help protect, for future generations, the one planet we've got."
MURRAY: Now the president may have said he cares about the environment, but his associates still are not saying whether he believes in climate change and if humans contributed to it. A number of senior administration officials just held a briefing here at the White House. And they refused to answer those questions.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sara Murray, over at the White House. Thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. CNN's Fareed Zakaria is joining us.
So Fareed, what kind of outrage can we expect from the international community?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS": Wolf, I think it's not so much outrage, but it will be disappointment. You know, the Paris Accords were really a symbol of global cooperation, the idea that there are some problems that are global in nature. You know, if China is polluting the atmosphere, we all get affected. If some country is polluting the seas, we all get affected. And as a result of that, there has to be some kind of common solution, some -- everybody has to chip in. Everybody has to jump in at the same time.
And for the United States, which has been the leader of the world, the one that has, you know, shaped the agenda so often in history, to renege on its commitment, to walk away from this treaty, it's a very dramatic symbolic blow. As I said, the United States has almost resigned from its role as leading the world.
BLITZER: That's a strong statement. Elaborate a bit, because your words, obviously, have an important impact.
ZAKARIA: If you think about what the United States has done since 1945, what it has tried to do is construct a kind of international order which says, "Look, for thousands of years everybody fought and killed each other, and there was just competition. Let's try to find a way to compete, you know, economically and through diplomacy, and create a zone where we can try to deal with some of these things in a more peaceful way." And that's what NATO and the European Union and all these institutions that you hear about, from the World Bank and IMF and the U.N., that's what they were all about.
And it has been bipartisan American foreign policy for 70 years that the United States, having created this system, benefits enormously from it, because we get to write the rules. We get to set the agenda. As the person who negotiated this deal on the Obama administration said America's interests were front and center in a way that no other countries were, because the United States was leading.
And so for the United States to walk away -- first of all, it means that the glue that has held the international community together starts to dissolve. And secondly, it's an enormous south (ph) goal for the United States, because we're walking away from a system in which we have been at the center, where the United States has been the arbiter, the rule maker, the referee. And all of a sudden, we don't know what will happen. You know, China might step up. Germany might step up.
So it's a sad day in that sense. And I think most countries want some greater leadership from the United States. You saw that, even in the Obama years, when it seemed to be pulling back what. The world has realized they need somebody to set the agenda. And they have been comfortable with the United States doing it. And in that environment, for the United States to voluntarily leave -- it's kind of an abdication of power and responsibility, but it also means who's going to look after America's interests now? Is it going to be China? Is it going to be Germany? Is it going to be the European Union? Is it going to be India? I don't think so.
[17:10:14] BLITZER: Fareed Zakaria with his analysis of this major, major move on the part of the president. Fareed, thanks very much for joining us.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure, Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Joining us now, Republican Congressman Lee
Zeldin of New York. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. He's also an Iraq War veteran.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R) NEW YORK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. So I want to get your reaction. The president says pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement is part of his America first promise. But this agreement has been signed, as you know by nearly every nation in the world, only what, Nicaragua and Syria are not signatories. Do you worry that this decision will isolate the U.S. from its allies?
ZELDIN: I believe it creates an opportunity. If the president is real in what he said regarding working with Democrats, working with members of Congress and the American public, very concerned about climate change and addressing it, not just here within our country but globally, then what we should do is continue to work and engage with the international community and try to negotiate a better deal.
That would not just help serve the president's purpose of fighting for the American economy, the American worker and American interests. But it would also help those Democrats and Republicans, those who are deeply concerned about climate change, to accomplish their goals of actually ending up with an agreement that's better for the world than Paris.
BLITZER: You were the only member -- I'm told -- of this bipartisan coalition that did not write a letter -- did not tell the president, "Don't drop out of this agreement."
Why did you avoid sending a letter to the president saying, "You know what? You can make changes, but don't leave the Paris Accord?
ZELDIN: Well, because the Paris Accord is flawed. And what I -- what I really would love is for the United States to be making really ambitious and obtainable, feasible commitments and for these other actors around the world to be agreeing to it and be making those -- that same level of ambitious commitment.
But what was happening here with Paris was we were attempting to lead and we were signing off on other nations admitting that they're not going to follow us and that, in many respects, they would actually be going in the wrong direction, emitting even more emissions into our environment.
And for anyone on either side of this issue, if you care about clean air and clean water, if you believe the president was hitting all the marks or you're someone who believes that he was completely wrong today, I would really hope that when we look at the merits of Paris that we, as a nation, would find a way to come together with the goal of getting a nation like China to be pledging to reduce emissions and not us signing off a deal allowing them to emit it. With India we shouldn't have to bribe them in order to make commitments that they should be making on their own.
So leadership would be to bring these other nations to the table and to get them to be making sacrifices that America has shown that we're willing to make and for America's sacrifices, it's important that's obtainable. We've seen growth in our effort to reduce emissions with our development of alternative energy, clean and green energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, being better for our own environment, that effort needs to continue regardless of...
BLITZER: All right. I was going to say, Congressman, a lot of the critics say a lot of those changes could be made while the U.S. still remained a signatory to the Paris Climate Accord. What do you say to those like Fareed Zakaria -- we just heard him -- who say the U.S. has now, for all practical purposes, resigned its position as a world leader?
ZELDIN: Well, I would disagree with that notion as long as the president follows through with his pledge to work with those in our own country who care deeply about climate change who want to tackle it, who would want the president to try to negotiate a better deal.
If the president follows through with that commitment and, at the end of the day, after some elbow grease and working hard with foreign leaders, we can end up with a better deal, then we haven't relinquished anything. And we're actually showing more leadership than if we accept the status quo where the United States are making sacrifices, and the rest of the world is actually contributing even more towards exactly what is creating the issues with our environment altogether.
BLITZER: You know, if the Paris agreement -- which you supported originally but now you're supporting the president's decision -- if that agreement was so bad, why do you think so many major U.S. companies, including energy companies like ExxonMobil, you see some of them BP, Chevron, Shell, they actually support the agreement?
[17:15:06] ZELDIN: Well, there are many different reasons why different individuals in the energy sector and different energy companies in the energy sector have supported Paris over the course of the years.
There was a lot of advocacy by the last administration to build additional support. You have some companies that -- that benefit from -- from the agreement.
But what's most important, again, is that -- you know, this is a moment in time where, on so many issues, we as a nation -- we find ourselves polarized. It was like this last year during the presidential race.
And when -- when you get this moment, if you care so deeply about this issue, whether you agree with the president or you completely disagree with him, we need to do a better job coming together, working together, productive, substantive conversations, dialogue, solutions to move better. So we're not rejecting Paris and then -- and then walking away from
our commitment and going in the wrong direction here in our country. It's a renewed commitment that we, as a nation, we're coming together, going back to the international community. And we're going to China; we're going to India; we're going to these other countries, and we're asking them to actually sacrifice, as opposed to from they get to play us in a way that actually has harmful effects for our environment.
BLITZER: All right. I know, Congressman Zeldin, you believe that -- that climate change is a serious, serious concern. But you know that during the campaign, the president called it a hoax. And there are a lot of people right now who are not convinced, as you are, that this is an opportunity to renegotiate this deal. They don't believe the president is very sincere and even believing the whole nature of this problem. Very quickly, your response.
ZELDIN: Well, we're going to have to continue working with the president, with the administration, and encouraging them on the merits to follow through on that commitment, to talk to all of us, work with us, go back to the international community and try to negotiate a better deal. He's following through with his commitment, and everyone who cares about climate change is happy that they actually end up with a better outcome.
BLITZER: Well, let's see what happens. Congressman Lee Zeldin, thanks very much for joining us.
ZELDIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, with the fired FBI director, James Comey, now set to testify about his encounters with President Trump on the Russia investigation, lawmakers confirm they're looking into a possible third undisclosed meeting between the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and Russia's ambassador. Stay with us.
[17:21:42] BLITZER: Our top story right now, President Trump announcing that starting today, he's pulling the United States out of the nearly 200-nation Paris Climate Accord aimed at limiting global warming.
But there's also breaking news in the investigation into Russia's election interference and contacts with the Trump associates.
Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider. Jessica, what's the very latest?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a date is now set for fired FBI Director James Comey to testify. It will be one week from today. And that news comes at the same time members of the Senate Judiciary Committee released letters showing they've been asking the FBI for months to investigate any ties between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Russians and to find out if Jeff Sessions committed perjury.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Fired FBI director James Comey will testify publicly next Thursday, and he's expected to detail his conversations with the president, including whether President Trump urged him to drop the bureau's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Flynn's ties to Russia. A move many experts believe could amount to obstruction of justice.
This as newly-released letters show Democratic lawmakers called on the FBI to investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to senators after it was revealed in March that Sessions had met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign, despite this answer from Sessions during his confirmation hearing.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I didn't have -- not have communications with the Russians.
SCHNEIDER: Senators Al Franken and Patrick Leahy wrote to the FBI three times, asking for investigation into Attorney General Sessions's false testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and any undisclosed contacts he may have had with Russian officials.
A Senate source tells CNN senators Franken and Leahy have not yet received any response to these three letters. The letters were released after CNN reported congressional investigators are looking at the possibility Sessions had a third undisclosed private meeting with Ambassador Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on April 27, 2016.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: If it's true it's extremely disturbing. And I'd rather let it come out.
SCHNEIDER: The Department of Justice responded saying, "The facts haven't changed. The then-senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel."
Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee issued seven new subpoenas, including three seeking details of the purported unmasking of U.S. residents by former national security advisor Susan Rice, former CIA director John Brennan and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power. The congressional source says these subpoenas came directly from Chairman Devon Nunes, despite his pledge to remove himself from the Russia investigation.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is what the White House wants to see happen. They'd rather be talking about these issues.
SCHNEIDER: Chairman Nunes fired back on Twitter: "Seeing a lot of fake news from media elites and others who have no interest in violations of American civil liberties via unmaskings."
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is discussing whether to return these luxury compounds to Russia. They were closed by the Obama administration in December in retaliation for Russia's meddling in the election. Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about President Trump at the
St. Petersburg economic forum after stressing the two have never met.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (via translator): He is a straightforward, sincere man. You can't really classify him as a traditional politician. He never worked in politics. So this is a person with a fresh view of things, whether you like him or not, but this always very often brings something good.
SCHNEIDER: And President Putin also invoked Trump's words during the campaign that Trump was ready to work on the normalization of U.S.- Russia relations. Putin said his country is ready for that type of dialogue with the U.S. president. Presidents Putin and Trump are set to meet at the G-20 summit in July -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica Schneider reporting for us. Thanks for that report.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. She's a member of both the Intelligence and the Armed Services Committees. Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: My pleasure.
BLITZER: So you just saw Chairman Nunes. He did step aside from leading the Russian investigation. He's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. So why is he still involved in issuing subpoenas that are related to that overall investigation?
SPEIER: Good question, Wolf. In part, it's because I don't think his recusal is a real one. And since he made it voluntarily, and he can withdraw that recusal, I suppose -- it's a real affront to the committee. Because not only is he doing that but my understanding is he's also gone to the CIA and looked at documents on the Russia investigation. And has sat in on what are called Gang of Eight briefings, which continue to talk about the infiltration by the Russians into the U.S. elections.
BLITZER: As you know, the whole purpose of your committee's investigation, the Intelligence Committee, is to find answers on Russia's election meddling. Here's the question: Is Chairman Nunes causing a distraction for your bipartisan effort with that pursuit, by raising all these unmasking requests?
SPEIER: Well, I think he is doing that for one reason. And he's doing it on behalf of the president, again to create a distraction so that we aren't focused on the investigation into Russian interference but into this bogus unmasking issue, which has been put down by the then-director Comey and NSA Director Rogers. So it is a -- it's a nonissue. But again, it's one that they are using as a deflection.
BLITZER: The speaker, by the way, as you know, Speaker Paul Ryan, he supported Chairman Nunes in this motion. He -- a spokesman for the speaker put out a statement. Let's move on. What can you tell us about the other four subpoenas
issued by your committee? Those four subpoenas do relate directly to the Russia probe and were supported by members of both parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.
SPEIER: So those subpoenas have gone out, in part because when we requested information from those individuals, they declined. And so subpoenas were then required in order to compel their testimony.
BLITZER: And tell us about those four subpoenas. What specifically are you looking for?
SPEIER: Well -- they're to individuals that we believe can weigh in on the potential interference that took place with the Russians, whether or not there is coordination by Trump operatives and the Russian operatives relative to the intervention into the election cycle. So we will be talking to Mr. Flynn and to Mr. Cohen and others that have been called upon.
BLITZER: Michael Flynn, the fired national security adviser, and Michael Cohen, the president's long-time private attorney. Just to be precise, have they both agreed through their attorneys they will fully cooperate with these four subpoenas you've issued involving them?
SPEIER: I believe they have. I can't verify that specifically. But I believe that, when they're compelled, they would come forward to -- to be questioned.
BLITZER: Another issue: sources telling CNN the congressional investigators are looking into whether the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had an additional private meeting with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential campaign, a meeting that was not acknowledged, disclosed. If that meeting did take place at least two senators, Al Franken and Patrick Leahy, they're calling on Sessions to resign. Would you agree?
SPEIER: Well, if he perjured himself as the attorney general for the United States, I don't know how he could continue in that role. Much like Michael Flynn, by lying, it really was a situation where he could no longer be the national security adviser and was fired, as well. So we'll have to wait and see whether or not that was indeed what happened.
BLITZER: But you have no independent knowledge whether or not there was this third, unacknowledged meeting that took place between Sessions and Kislyak?
SPEIER: I wouldn't be able to tell you if I did know.
BLITZER: All right. Well, let me move on, talk about the -- the former FBI director, James Comey. As you know, he's set to testify in open session a week from today before the Senate Intelligence Committee. What questions does director Comey need to answer for the committee and for the American public?
SPEIER: Well, it probably will be the most-explosive and most-watched hearing since Watergate. And I think the questions that will be asked of him will relate to whether or not the President of the United States obstructed the investigation that was ongoing around Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser. It is -- really, would be a reprehensible act by the President if, in fact, what has been reported actually took place.
BLITZER: And a week from today, it will be, as I say, must watch T.V. We'll all be there watching. Finally, Congresswoman, I'd like to get your reaction to President Trump's decision today to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He says he's willing to renegotiate, he's willing to open up talks to make a better agreement. But in the meantime, the U.S. no longer is part of that Paris accord. Your reaction.
SPEIER: Well, I would say that he's made himself totally irrelevant. Probably the most important thing that's happened here is that cities and states are going to go it alone. That businesses and corporations are going to go it alone. And the Governor of California is on his way right now to China to forge new relations with the Chinese government around climate change. And I would say that the biggest thing that has happened as a result of this action today is that our international relations with our European friends is in -- is in shambles. When we're walking hand in hand with Bashar al-Assad from Syria on climate change, something is seriously wrong.
BLITZER: Almost 200 countries are signatories to the Paris climate accord. Only two, now three the United States are joining Syria and Nicaragua. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more ahead on the breaking news. Also ahead, Vladimir Putin makes a slight but very important change to his usual denials of Russian meddling in the U.S. Presidential Election.
[17:36:38] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. President Trump's announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. The President says he's doing it to keep his campaign promise to put American workers first. However, his decision is drawing lots of criticism from around the world. Let's get some insight from our specialists. And Brianna Keilar, as you know, the President says withdrawing from this agreement part of his promise to put America first. But it's also true that nearly every other country on earth, with the exception of Syria and Nicaragua, have signed on to this deal. So what signal is the President sending to the rest of the world.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the signal that they're receiving is certainly one of shock. I think the signal that Donald Trump is sending has much more to do with his supporters. Has to do with Americans and specifically those Americans who support him and are very happy that he made this move. But we're hearing this reaction from around the world of leaders, of people who are just stunned. And many of them feel that the U.S. is seeding ground when it comes to being a global leader. So, that message that's really being received from them is that the U.S. is moving towards isolationism, and you know, that's something that is certainly been shocking to them, Wolf.
WOLF: I want to bring Bianna Golodryga to this conversation. Bianna, the President argues that pulling out will save American jobs, but as you know, many of America's largest companies including energy companies like ExxonMobil, they supported the Paris agreement and urged the President to not have the U.S. drop out. Tell us why they think it's good for American jobs to be part of this international agreement.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO NEWS AND FINANCE ANCHOR: Yes, including Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, who was noticeably absent from that Rose Garden statement today. He was a supporter when he was the CEO of ExxonMobil. Interestingly enough, shareholders today voted for the first time, 60 percent of them that the company should be more forthcoming about the dangers and risks posed to the company. And their bottom line from climate change, you had other oil companies as well, BP, Conico, they all basically feel, Wolf, that they have a better opportunity with them sitting at the table, at the global table and participating in this conversation of lowering fuel emissions around the world, that ultimately, it would benefit their bottom line.
The CEO of BP in St. Petersburg, Russia today said, "We have to transition the word to lower carbon forms of energy." And interestingly enough, I thought it was a bit ironic, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs just now issued his first tweet saying, "Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world." Interesting and ironic, obviously, Wolf, given the amount of attention dedicated to Goldman Sachs in the role that some of its former employees play in the current administration. Gary Cohen, he was present today in that ceremony.
BLITZER: You know, I told our viewers there'd be (INAUDIBLE) some live pictures coming in from Paris right now. You see the new President, President Emmanuel Macron, saying that France deeply regrets this U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, saying "It's a mistake for U.S. interests." I just saw a tweet from Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, saying, "We are deeply disappointed the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement."
[17:40:04] Phil Mudd, the President is receiving, as you could tell, a lot of blow back. And including a lot of blowback from national security experts. Why are so many in the military and intelligence community so opposed to his decision to withdraw from this accord?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, in the heat of the moment, we need just a -- we need just a bit of perspective here. Let's go back after World War II. America has been in the leadership role in the fight against communism, in the fight against terrorism. Let's fast-forward to the past 120 days, for everybody in this country, myself included, who thinks America should continue to lead with the Europeans and others. Number one, we had the President of the United States go to NATO, the post-World War II leadership of Europe and not offer the kind of commitment to NATO that you would have expected. The Europeans stepped back and said where is America on their traditional commitment for the past 70 years?
The next war that's coming, a confrontation with Russia over cyber issues including not only intervention in our election but intervention in the French Election. We have zero credibility to lead the Europeans on cyber. The President won't even acknowledge the Russian engagement with the American election. And finally, the long- term battle, how does human involvement with the environment affect things like water, affect things like famine, which will lead to war? And those three areas we've told the world, we will not provide leadership. People like me look back and say Americans want leadership but you can't lead from the sidelines. And that's what we're seeing here.
BLITZER: Chris Cillizza, in the President's speech and all of us were paying very close attention, he mentioned workers in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I assume it's not a coincidence that those three states were clearly decisive in his Electoral College victory.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, there's no coincidence in a speech that was long and prewritten, and Donald Trump read, and this is not always the case with him, read from the teleprompter, Wolf. That was 100 percent on purpose. He also had the line in there. I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris, many people on Twitter obviously noting that he lost the City of Pittsburgh though he did win the State of Pennsylvania, sort of a -- a little bit of rhetorical (INAUDIBLE) there.
What I would say is this is Donald Trump influenced heavily by Steve Bannon, trying everything he can do to make good on the promises he believes he made to the base in his party, that he believes Steve Bannon has a whiteboard wall in his office in the White House in which all the promises Donald made -- Trump made on the campaign trail are written. And there are lots of them, Wolf. And that Steve Bannon is -- believes deep down that the way in which Donald Trump both makes good on the promises he made as a - as a candidate and helps himself get re-elected in 2020, is to do what he said he would do. Don't fall into the trap of going Washington. Do what you said you would do, shake things up.
This is quite clearly. Phil Mudd made this point, a retraction from the way in which the U.S. has envisioned its role in the world particularly as it relates to Europe, say, in post-World War II times. That is Trumpism. This is - should not be -- Emmanuel Macron said he was surprised. He shouldn't be, because if he paid attention to the campaign, Donald Trump said he was going to do this and many other things like it that represent a break not just from the Democratic policies of Barack Obama but from the Republican policies of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush. This is a very -- we are through the looking glass as it relates to the traditional Republican-Democratic spectrum on these issues.
BLITZER: But very quickly, Brianna, as you know, in contrast to this decision, the President did break a commitment to be made during the campaign, a commitment he made often during the campaign. Today, he signed a waiver saying that he would not move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He had made that promise throughout the campaign. Today, he did what President Obama repeatedly did, what President Bush repeatedly did, what President Clinton repeatedly did, every six months signing a waiver not to move the embassy citing national security interests. How do you explain that?
KEILAR: Well, if he really wants a shot at tackling the issue of Mid- East peace then that was something that was necessary. But as you point out, this goes completely against what he said during the campaign and also the ambassador that he picked towards Israel, obviously -- or to represent the U.S. in Israel, it does go counter. But it's certainly I would say a pragmatic move. The White House did indicate this is something that they can look at again later. But pragmatism is what I would say, Wolf.
BLITZER: Le me bring Bianna Golodryga back into this conversation as well. Very quickly, Bianna, I want to get your quick reaction to the latest developments the president - the president's Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have had another undisclosed meeting during the campaign with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. You see these new investigations going on. Give me your analysis of this.
[17:45:02] GOLODRYGA: Well, it's becoming harder and harder to just say that this was yet another coincidence. I mean, he's a seasoned politician. I really am curious now as to how many meetings he had with Russian officials prior to first engaging with the Trump campaign. And secondly, one has to note, he has now stated publicly, multiple times, that he had never -- he doesn't recollect meeting with Russians. You know, a normal situation, any time that happens you go back and you check your own records. Of course, he would have had a handler with him. So, either the handler didn't know about this meeting or the handler reminded him, and once again, he chose not to be forthcoming about it and thus, waited until a media report outed the meeting and thus made it more peculiar as to what is going on with this campaign and Russian officials in particular.
BLITZER: All right, everybody, stand by. There's a lot more going on. We're following all of these developments. And by the way, in our next hour, I'll speak live with Gary Cohn, he's the Director of the President's National Economic Council. We'll talk about the impact of the President's decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal. And Vladimir Putin makes a slight but potentially significant change in his story. Stay with us for the Russian leader's latest hints about who may be behind the cyberattacks and the meddling in the U.S. Presidential Election.
[17:50:58] BLITZER: A lot much more ahead of the breaking news. President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris global climate agreement, but we're also following a rather intriguing change in Vladimir Putin's usual flat denial of any Russian meddling in the U.S. Presidential Election. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, what's Putin saying now? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, for the first time, it seems Vladimir Putin admits the hacking of the U.S. election process came from Russia. Now, he still denies his government was behind it. Instead saying, quote, "Patriotic Russians could have been involved." Patriotic Russians who cyber investigators say could still be tied to Putin.
TODD: Vladimir Putin tonight, again, demonstrates his mastery of deflection and denial when it comes to allegations of Russia's role in meddling in America's election process. Putin likens hackers to artists.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They may act on behalf of their country, they'll wake up in a good mood and paint things. Same with hackers. They woke up today, read something about the state to state relations. If they are patriotic, they contribute in a way they think is right to fight against those who say bad things about Russia.
TODD: Patriots doing it on their own not backed by the government, what do you think?
DEREK CHOLLET, GERMAN MARSHALL FUND OF THE UNITED STATES: The U.S. Intelligence Community in January concluded with high confidence that Vladimir Putin ordered and influenced the campaign to try to shape the U.S. election. And part of that influence campaign were hackers. This is Putin trying to obfuscate and blur what is the reality.
TODD: U.S. intelligence says the Russian military agency, the GRU, used online personas known as "Guccifer 2.0" and "DCLeaks.com" to release hacked material to influence the American election. U.S. officials say Putin's fingerprints may not be on the computer keys but the operation had to have been approved by the top levels of the Russian government. Today, Putin said Russia could have been framed.
PUTIN (through translator): I can imagine that someone is doing this purposely, building the chain of attack so that the territory of the Russian Federation appears to be the source of that attack. Modern technologies allow that kind of thing.
CHOLLET: Perhaps he sees the trail of evidence is getting closer to the Kremlin.
TODD: The cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, which investigated the Democratic Party hacks, says, they're the work of hacking teams known as "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear" tied to Russian government and intelligence agencies.
TODD: Are these (INAUDIBLE) hackers who happened to be wearing military uniforms? Who are they?
ADAM MEYERS, CROWDSTRIKE INVESTIGATOR: I think there's people in military uniforms, there's people that are probably more business focused and then there's going to be a technical cadre that may be a little bit more informal and maybe a little bit more casual.
TODD: Experts say Putin likely has plausible deniability that Russian hackers outside the government could be targeting the West with the tacit approval and support of the Kremlin. How sophisticated are they?
JASON HEALEY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CYBERSECURITY EXPERT: When it comes to espionage and offense, they are fantastic, they are close to best in the world, probably right after our own here in the United States.
TODD: Tonight, analysts are focusing on the next targets of Putin's hackers. One cyber expert who investigated the Russian government hacks told me the upcoming elections in Germany and Britain could be targeted, and the U.S. Congressional Committees investigating Russia's influence in last year's election, they should be guarding against hacks as well. Watch these congressional committees, Wolf, they could run into some problems that emanate from the Kremlin.
BLITZER: And today, Brian, Putin also spoke about his relationship with President Trump. What did he say?
TODD: He did, Wolf. Basically saying for the moment, at least, he is not Donald Trump's friend. Putin said, "How can I be friends with someone I've never met. I think Mr. Trump can't call me a friend either. We don't know each other." He said the political battle in the U.S. is raging and preventing the buildup of their relationship. Of course, Wolf, as you know, that political battle, Putin had a large role in creating that.
[17:54:53] BLITZER: It certainly did. All right. Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.
Coming up, President Trump announces that starting today, he's pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement in which nearly 200 nations have pledged to fight global warning, but there's growing opposition to the move at home and around the world.
WOLF: Happening now. Breaking news. In withdrawal. President Trump says the United States is dropping out of the historic climate agreement, rejecting desperate pleas from around the world and within his own inner circle to uphold the deal. Tonight, the President is keeping a campaign promise but at what price? I'll speak live to the President's Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn.
Secret meeting? New questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his Kremlin contacts, and whether he might have committed perjury. Senators confirming CNN's reporting about a possible third undisclosed meeting with the Russian Ambassador.