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THE SITUATION ROOM
Source of Video Trump Tweeted Tied to Racist Content; Trump to Meet Putin at G-20 Summit; Interview With Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego; States Fighting Back Against Trump Vote Commission; Laptop Ban Looms Over New Airport Anti-Terror Rules; Trump's Voter Fraud Commision Facing Backlash. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 3, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Will this lead to an expanded laptop ban and voter chaos?
And voter data denial. At least 40 states are refusing to hand over personal voter information to the president's voter fraud commission. Why is the top commission official who is also a secretary of state refusing his own request?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Trump is escalating his attacks on the news media at the start of a critical week, just days before he huddles with world leaders at the G20 summit.
Mr. Trump is drawing fresh criticism from Democrats and Republicans for sharing on Twitter a video showing him body-slamming a CNN logo. Tonight, we are learning new details of the source of that video and ties to anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content.
Among Mr. Trump most closely watched meetings at the G20 will be his first face-to-face encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Administration officials tell CNN there is little expectation among the Trump national security team that the president will bring up Russia's interference in the presidential election.
And the president discussed North Korea by phone with the leaders of China and Japan, both of whom he will see at the G20. State media reports China's president told Mr. Trump that ties with the United States has been strained by -- quote -- "negative factors," including U.S. sanctions on a Chinese bank and weapons sales to Taiwan.
We are covering all of that and more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Ruben Gallego of the Armed Services Committee. Our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.
I want to begin at the White House with CNN's Ryan Nobles.
Ryan, tell us -- the president is returning to Washington tonight at war really with the news media.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brianna.
His tweets over the last 24 to 48 hours reflect that, but administration officials are telling the media they are focusing on the wrong thing and that the president is busy doing his job and getting things done.
NOBLES (voice-over): President Trump's latest attack on the media, a video showing the president punching and tackling a person whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I'm president, and they're not.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NOBLES: The Twitter assault of the press comes just days away from a crucial overseas trip where he will meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin..
TRUMP: We will discuss health care.
NOBLES: And domestically he's trying to help the Senate Republicans shepherd through a health care bill. His lack of a public focus on those major issues has even Republicans concerned.
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponize distrust.
NOBLES: This senior White House official argued the wrestling video was not a threat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beating up on the media, you're in charge of homeland security there. That seems like a threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, certainly not, though. I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.
NOBLES: The White House argues that the media is spending too much time on the president's tweets, instead of his other priorities.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: They don't cover the substance of the issues. Look, I know it's a heck of a lot easier to cover 140 characters here or there or what the president may be saying about the media here or there than it is to learn the finer points of how Medicaid is funded in this country.
NOBLES: Meanwhile, the president is gearing up for the G20 summit in Germany. He spent the morning on the phone with the leaders of Germany and Italy after weekend calls with the leaders of China, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
But the face-to-face meeting with Putin will likely get the most attention. Administration officials say among the topics on the table, the conflict in Syria and the growing tensions in Ukraine. What is not as clear, according to administration officials, is whether the president will raise the Russian hack of the U.S. election.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Trying to predict President Trump is a fool's errand. I have very little confidence that the president will bring up the Russian attack on our voting system last November.
NOBLES: This all comes as the president himself defends his use of social media as a way to talk directly to the American people and vowed to continue his war on the media.
TRUMP: The dishonest media will never keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our great American people. It will never happen.
NOBLES: And one thing we're still trying to figure out tonight is where that wrestling video came from. Despite the fact that it looks strikingly similar to a similar video posted on Reddit, the White House is telling us today that's not where it came from, although, Brianna, they won't tell us where the president did in fact find it before posting it on Twitter.
KEILAR: All right, Ryan Nobles at the White House, good point. They will not tell us that. We appreciate your report.
All eyes are going to be on the president's upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin this week in Germany.
CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray has an update for us on this.
So, Sara, this is such an important meeting that he's going to have with Putin. What is the administration hoping to accomplish here?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a big meeting, Brianna. It is a big meeting of course because of Russia's meddling in the election, because the president said such flattering things about Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail, and because this is really the first time they are going to meet face to face and get a chance to size each other up as two world leaders.
Now, as Ryan Nobles pointed out, of course, the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine are going to be on the agenda. But beyond that, Trump's advisers say he's really going to be the one who can set the rest of the agenda, decide what else he wants to talk about. And even as administration officials here were saying, look, we're not really expecting a decision to be made about using sanctions or about whether we might return these compounds that the U.S. seized from Russia at the end of their -- compounds that are in the U.S. at the end of 2016. This is what was done under the Obama administration.
The Kremlin is saying otherwise. They are saying their patience is wearing thin with the U.S. when it comes to these compounds. That will be an interesting narrative to watch, whether Vladimir Putin brings that up in this meeting, Brianna.
KEILAR: The last time -- he hasn't met with Putin before, but he did have that Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and he met with Ambassador Kislyak. There were some major missteps there. Is there any concern?
MURRAY: Well, right.
This meeting stunned people for a lot of reasons, one, because officials confirmed to CNN and other news outlets that the president shared classified information with Russian officials. That was a red flag to some.
In addition to that, in that meeting, "The New York Times" reported that Trump referred to James Comey, the former FBI director, as a nutjob. He talked about firing James Comey and said he faced great pressure because of Russia and that that had been taken off because of his decision to fire Comey. That was another thing set off even members of Trump's own party on Capitol Hill.
And on top of that, it was the way they held the meeting, the fact that President Trump invited Russian officials into the Oval Office for this, but they didn't allow U.S. press in the way they normally do when the president welcomes foreign officials. There were no photos from the American press about this visit, but Russian state news did take photos, and they posted them publicly as showed a very cheery Trump meeting with Russian officials.
That was yet another sort of protocol misstep that many people viewed, in addition to the question of whether people felt it was acceptable for Trump to be welcoming Russian officials in the Oval Office at all, given the backdrop of Russian election meddling.
KEILAR: All right, Sara Murray at the White House, thank you. We do appreciate that report.
I want to get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks for being with us. We do appreciate it.
And the White House, it says that it wants -- President Trump actually wants to focus on the conflicts in Syria. He wants to focus on Ukraine when he speaks to Putin at the G20, instead of meddling by the Russians in the 2016 election. What is your reaction to that?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Well, it clearly shows that the president is afraid to bring this up.
It looks potentially like we have a very weak president because he's afraid to bring this up with Putin. That's not the way you interact with Russians. You meet them head on. You can't show that you're afraid.
But, more importantly, even if he doesn't want to bring up the 2016 elections, he should be giving warnings that it's not acceptable for the Russians to be interfering in 2018 elections, or, for that matter, in any other democratic country's elections, as they have tried to do this year, as well as making sure that we reaffirm Article 5 of the NATO treaty.
These are things that he needs to show. He needs to show strength. He can't just be talking about -- talking with Putin about things they agree on. He needs to show that we're willing to stand up for American values, even if he gets into some areas that maybe he does not want to go into.
KEILAR: Do you think, considering that he only recently said, yes, that meddling happened, that maybe he isn't the best messenger to even confront Russia on this? I think someone -- I think the expectation would be the president would take the lead on this, but considering the rhetoric that we have heard from him, do you think that Putin would take a warning from him seriously?
GALLEGO: Well, it's kind of sad that we even have to question whether the president is going to be taken seriously.
We have a long line of history of American presidents and their word being taken like gold, which kind of tells us the situation we're in right now. But President Trump needs to get over himself and he needs to get over his vanity. He really needs to actually push for integrity of the American elections system and actually, you know, push back on Putin, and on Putin, both, again, affecting the 2016 election and the future 2018 elections.
This is what presidents do. They overcome their personal pettiness for the sake of this country. He needs to figure that out, or if he needs to find someone else to do it, and if that doesn't occur, well, then, that's why we have presidential elections every four years.
KEILAR: As you know right now, U.S.-backed troops, they are closing in around Raqqa, Syria. It's the de facto capital of ISIS.
And "Foreign Policy" is reporting that Secretary of State Tillerson says that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's fate now lies in Russia's hands. Does the U.S. need to assert its leadership? And what does it mean for the region if the U.S. cedes that leadership to Russia?
GALLEGO: Well, if we cede our leadership to Russia, essentially what we're giving up is any hope for a level of democracy in the Middle East, respect for human rights, and most likely an expansion of authoritarian regimes, as such as you have seen in Syria. Russia could care less about common human norms and human rights and
they will do anything to basically keep their geopolitical position in that area. And what we really need is, you know, the president to speak to Putin and try to come out with a political solution to Syria, but not necessarily one that is just solely decided by Syria and Russia.
This is something that we have never allowed in the Middle East. We have always been the player in the Middle East for a good reason, because we are the stabilizer. And allowing Russia and Syria to dictate the terms of the future really could destabilize not just the region, but the whole world.
KEILAR: CNN has learned that the president has asked his team to prepare options for cooperation with Russia. This would include sanctions relief, maybe giving back those compounds where the Russians were kicked out by the Obama administration.
Do you think hinting at making concessions encourages better behavior from Russia? Is this something that they could respond positively to or do you think negatively? Do you think it just emboldens them?
GALLEGO: It just emboldens them.
Look, the history of Russia, whether they were under communism, whether they were under czarism, and where they're -- now that they're under the kleptocracy led by Putin, with a mixture of a little fascism there, has always been the only way you deal with Russia is by showing power and strength.
They do not understand cooperation. They do not understand forgiveness. They look at that as weakness. Until we punish them, until they actually feel the effect through economic sanctions of what occurred, particularly with their meddling in the 2016 elections, they're going to continue meddling in the 2018 elections.
As a matter of fact, we should be doubling down on our sanctions to them until they understand and they comply with our requests, as nice as we can be, which I don't think we should be, that you not meddle not just in our elections, but any other foreign government's elections that are holding true democratic elections.
KEILAR: Congress has been a lot harder on Russia than President Trump has been. Where do House efforts stand at this point when it comes to sanctions against Russia?
GALLEGO: Well, the Senate actually is leading the charge when it comes to the sanctions regime against Russia.
And we have had nothing but meddling in the House by Paul Ryan and other Republicans, who have been complicit in trying to support the president in actually loosening and/or rejecting sanctions that are coming from Russia, which is a very horrible message we are sending to Russia.
They know our American system. They know our system of government. And they know that as long as they can play with members of Congress, they are going to continue pushing the envelope as long as they get away with it. This is why we need to have a identified government in terms of our position against Russia and actually start punishing Russia and Russian companies, especially the oligarchs that hold a lot of their money in the United States, because they are meddling in our democracy.
Paul Ryan needs to really step up to the plate.
KEILAR: Are you saying that Paul Ryan is doing the White House's bidding? Or what is your accusation there?
KEILAR: You think that he's coordinating...
GALLEGO: It's not an accusation. Absolutely. It's not an accusation. We have Ways and Means chairman, Brady, who has basically rejected the Senate, using a very arcane rule, House rule, to send back the sanctions bill that was involving Iran and Russia, in order to stop the vote from happening in the House.
We are waiting to see if it's going to come back, but even Senate Republicans have said that they are very disappointed in the House Republicans. And that is entirely because of Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan is complicit in making sure that we are not holding Russia to accord for their violations of our integrity.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman Gallego, stay with us. We have a lot more ahead, including attacks on the media. We will discuss that with you after a quick break.
KEILAR: We're learning some new details tonight about the source of President Trump's latest controversial tweet slamming the media, in this case, CNN.
We're back now with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee.
And, Congressman, I know you're probably familiar with this video, but the president shared it. It shows him beating up a man who has the CNN logo as his face. The Anti-Defamation League found that the video originated from a Reddit user who has also shared anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content.
The White House is denying that, that that is where they got it. They won't say, though, where they got it from. What questions does this raise for you?
GALLEGO: Well, it raises what the heck the president is doing most of his time.
He needs to be focusing on the agenda when it comes to dealing with Putin. He needs to be focusing on an economic agenda. Why is he searching and hunting for these videos and then posts them on his personal Twitter?
And what message are you actually trying to say -- send? I'm sure he's not trying to send an anti-Semitic message. But the message he's trying to send is that he has no respect for the fourth state and for the First Amendment. What he's trying to do is basically spread fear of our journalists and could cause a lot of mayhem when it comes to, you know, the threats that could potentially come to our fourth estate.
This is just very irresponsible for somebody who is supposed to uphold the Constitution of the United States. And part of that obviously is a free and independent press. He really needs to learn to be responsible with his power, which he is not right now, and I think that is very unfortunate.
KEILAR: Do you see this as a threat? Do you see this as something that could motivate someone who already has inclinations against the press to do something? Because we heard from the president's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert.
He said, no, this tweet is not a threat and he hopes no one takes it that way.
GALLEGO: I'm sure the president didn't mean it as a threat.
What I worry is that people will take it as a threat. This is a very heavy time. We just had one of my colleagues get shot last -- two weeks ago. We just have to be careful with what we say, and I'm sure the president was not trying to send out a threat. But, again, we have to just be careful.
More importantly, though, what he is trying to say is very similar to what I have seen Third World dictators and autocrats do, which is try to diminish the role of the press. The press is here to keep us accountable and to keep the public informed about government, their government, especially government that tends to be somewhat either overwhelming with their authority or trying to rob citizens of their everyday tax dollars.
We need a free, independent press. It is important to keep Democrats in check. It is important to keep Republicans in check, and it really is not good for this country for the president of the United States, again, who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to really go after the First Amendment within the first six months of his presidency.
Mind you, this is the same president that has said that he wants to redo the liable laws, so he could sue journalists. I think this is just a trend that is not good and not healthy for this country. KEILAR: It was about a year ago, almost exactly a year ago, that the
president tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton. It featured this. It was a Star of David over a pile of cash. It appeared to have been posted on an anti-Semitic white supremacist message board, somehow borrowed and then put on Twitter by the then not-President Trump.
And then, like now, the Trump campaign denies the source of the image. Why do you see this as a recurring problem? And when you're talking about borrowing something that originated in a really terrible, hateful place, what is -- what kind of message does that send to people who traffic in that kind of hate?
GALLEGO: Well, I think the message that's accidentally being sent is that somehow that this kind of messaging is allowed and permissive. It's not. It's disgusting.
And those type of people should go back in the shadows and hopefully never be seen again if you have those types of views. And it also shows that someone should take hold of the president's Twitter account and not allow him to go hunting and searching for just any kind of content that fits his world view.
It shows that he has a certain level of irresponsibility that's not really fit for an office like the president of the United States. And, again, I encourage him to focus more on dealing with Russia and a very serious agenda-setting meeting that he has coming up with Putin, than trying to start fights with our journalists in this country and trying to encourage people to distrust the media.
That's exactly what Putin does. And maybe that's why they get along so well, but it's not acceptable for the president of the United States to do that in this country or in any other -- or encouraging any other journalist around the world from being mistreated or mistrusted.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman Ruben Gallego, thank you so much for joining us.
And just ahead:
GALLEGO: Thank you.
KEILAR: More on the president's war against the news media. Is he inciting violence?
Plus, a look at the stakes as Mr. Trump meets Vladimir Putin face to face for the first time.
KEILAR: There is new information tonight about President Trump's latest controversial tweet and a source with ties to racist content.
I want to dig deeper with our experts and our analysts. Ron Brownstein with us.
Over the weekend, President Trump tweets this video. It shows him beating up a man with a CNN logo. The Anti-Defamation League traced the video. They traced it to a Reddit user who has posted a lot with anti-Semitic content, other bigoted content.
The White House denies this, that this is where it came from. They won't say, though, where the video does come from. So, what does it say that this content is either making its way around the Oval Office or to the Oval Office?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Or through the Oval Office.
KEILAR: That's right.
BROWNSTEIN: Ordinarily, you would say it is astonishing that a president and a White House would reach into this kind of muck to find an image to promote, except we have had the example that you cited a few minutes ago during the campaign of the anti-Semitic imagery around Hillary Clinton that the president, candidate then, retweeted and promoted.
And also, frankly, we have had examples without retweeting others of the president using extraordinarily hateful speech himself on Twitter in the last few days with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.
So, look, I think, at this point, anyone who is hoping for something different from this president, you know, is probably kind of waiting to meet their first unicorn. It's not going to happen.
And the question is really, what does everyone else, in particular all of those congressional Republicans who kind of give these pro forma reactions that they're distressed or dismayed by the president's latest kind of outrage or violation of norms, and then goes back to business as usual?
Will Paul Ryan, will Mitch McConnell, will other congressional Republicans, who are the only ones really with any leverage at this point, impose any consequences for this behavior? I think that is the question going forward.
[18:30:11] KEILAR: So far we're not seeing that. We've seen some criticism.
But Rebecca, I think one of the things that caught everyone's attention was just a few days after a White House spokeswoman said, you know, the president doesn't do this; he doesn't use violent language. And then this.
But not only that; there's been a pattern of this. Let's listen to some of the rhetoric that we heard on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP (via phone): Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.
(on camera): So, if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.
We're not allowed to punch back any more. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
Like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you. Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court. Don't worry about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So, Ron said, you know, you shouldn't really expect anything different, Rebecca, but that was also Donald Trump getting the reaction from the crowd. This is on Twitter. Certainly, he gets people responding to him on Twitter. But I wonder what it says about his state of mind, about kind of where he is and how he's feeling or understanding the state of things as he sends out tweets like this.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And actually, you know, even though this is something that Donald Trump has said before, this is the tone he has used since he was a candidate, since he was on the campaign trail, when you talked to many of his supporters out on the campaign trail who liked that sort of rhetoric, who were responding to it at the time, many of them would also tell you in the same breath that they thought when he's president, he'll act differently. This is just for the campaign. This is just to get everyone riled up. So many of them didn't expect him to bring this to the White House with him, what he calls modern-day presidential. They thought he would change and adapt more -- the mores of the presidency.
But I think -- I think less than the violence element of the tweet, I see this connected much more to just his view of the media in general, his animosity toward the media, which I think is, in part, strategic and also in part just the president being relatively thin-skinned...
KEILAR: He's very impulsive. He feels those things, and he responds to them.
John Kirby, it's an important week when it comes to foreign policy. The president's been making a lot of calls.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: We've been thinking, of course, about as the president heads abroad, he's got this upcoming travel: Warsaw, Hamburg, Paris. He's going, obviously, to the G-20 summit when he's in Germany. What message does this send to other countries, especially those who have a tradition of cracking down on the press in a way the U.S. doesn't?
KIRBY: Yes, look, I mean, there's probably some foreign leaders out there that fairly are swooning over what they're seeing President Trump do.
KEILAR: But why -- is that because they -- they think that "Now no one is going to bug me about my problems"?
KIRBY: Sure, sure. It absolutely gives them a potential pass on freedom of the press. And Erdogan, El-Sisi, Putin himself. There are some of them that are probably enjoying this, not to mention the fact that they kind of like the discord and the disunity here in the United States, because it serves their purposes, as well.
But by and large, the leaders that he's going to meet this week, I think they would rather him just focus on the issues and not so much -- I think they're looking at this as yet more distraction from a guy who just can't seem to focus on real foreign policy initiatives and things that matter.
KEILAR: It feels, David Swerdlick, like just yesterday. I mean, it wasn't long ago, just a few weeks...
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes.
KEILAR: ... where there was the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, the Republican team. And I was waiting for them in Statuary Hall when they came back from practice. And member after member of that team said the rhetoric has got to calm down. And yet here we are; it's not.
SWERDLICK: No, it's not. President Trump was able to calm it down that day. I think...
KEILAR: Very presidential remarks that he gave, right?
SWERDLICK: Right, he gave sort of the sober, restrained remarks that day.
And Rebecca is right. That both his opponents and his supporters, I think, during the campaign thought that he would ratchet it down a little bit once he became president. That hasn't happened.
I think, Bri, that's probably because the president is comfortable when he's cracking back at his critics, when he's nursing a grudge. Our colleague, Peter Beinart, wrote an article recently where he basically said that Trump's grudges are his agenda.
And if you look at the poll numbers, I think it shows why. One reason is that, even though he has a 40 percent approval rating, he has an 80 percent approval rating among Republican voters; and I think they are still relishing that rhetoric.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, one thing to keep in mind, though, is that in the end, President Trump was elected by people who were ambivalent about him. You know, he won about 1/5 of the voters who said that he was not qualified. About 1/5 of the voters who said he didn't have the temperament to succeed as president. They wanted change; they didn't want Hillary Clinton. They were willing to take a chance.
[18:35:10] But he does not have an infinite leash with those voters. And as you can see the difference between his vote, at about 46 percent, and an approval rating that's struggling to get to 40 percent. I don't think there are many people out there who were uncertain about whether President Trump had the personal qualities they wanted in a president who have been reassured by his behavior in the past six months. And it's precisely, I think, those voters who present the threat to Republicans in both 2018 and 2020.
KEILAR: I want to look at a tweet that Senator ben Sasse, who certainly has been critical of Donald Trump, specifically when it comes to his recent tweets. This just from his vacation. "Random quote as we're loading four-wheelers: 'Hey, Uncle Ben, did you know the president used to be a professional wrestler?'"
I mean, John Kirby, that makes me laugh a little bit. It's kind of funny that that's the identification of this child, telling his Uncle Ben this. But also, what does that say about -- for youngsters in our country, what they're taking away from the current political climate?
KIRBY: Yes. I mean, it is -- it is cute and, you know, kids do say funny things. But it does -- it is a reminder that they also are paying attention to the environment out there, probably in ways that we don't fully appreciate and fully understand or even know. And that we all need to be a little bit more responsible out there.
My dad used to say that a man can seldom be better than his conversation. And I wish we could all think about that now.
KEILAR: Yes. And Ron, 7 in 10 Americans say that the level of civility in Washington has declined since Donald Trump was elected president. Actually, I want to ask you, David Swerdlick, about this. I want to give you some time here. But so, as you look at this, I mean, what does that mean? Is this something that actually is going to affect voters? Are they going to react in some way, respond to this as they vote? Does this matter?
SWERDLICK: Look, I think that there's a level on which Trump supporters got what they wanted out of President Trump, which was sort of a people's "Tribune," someone that spoke up for them when they felt they weren't being spoken up for.
However, that has not, at least, up to this point, Bri, translated into the policy goals. Right? President Trump has accomplished very little on that front.
So, you have this dichotomy where I think that people are seeing, if they liked him before, they're liking his combativeness now. They really haven't gotten much for their money in terms of policy.
BERG: And what really appealed to so many of Donald Trump's supporters in the election, in regards to his rhetoric on the campaign trail, was really that, for many of them, it reflected him as an agent of change. They thought that, because he talks differently, he approached politics differently than everyone they had seen before running for the presidency, that he would approach the presidency differently and get them different results.
And so, I think the question still for many of these voters is going to be in the next election and in the midterms, even before that, what has President Trump actually accomplished? And right now, there isn't a whole lot he can point to. I think that is much more significant.
KEILAR: And there is a lot on his plate, for sure.
You guys stay with me, because we're going to talk foreign policy next, a huge trip this week for President Trump as he goes face-to- face with Vladimir Putin for the first time. We're going to talk about what this trip abroad means.
And also about the Senate health care bill. Could his absence from Washington actually improve its chances?
[18:42:58] KEILAR: Wars in Ukraine, Syria, election meddling and more, there is so much to talk about when President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time. Their first face-to-face meeting they're going to have here at the upcoming G-20 summit.
And John Kirby, you can, I think, sort of crystallize for us, what is at stake at this meeting? The first time that these two leaders have met face-to-face.
KIRBY: This is a prime opportunity for President Trump that I -- I hope he takes full advantage of, a prime opportunity to lay down some markers for Vladimir Putin.
Look, tell him, "We know you meddled in our election. All our intelligence agencies confirm that. That's not going to happen. We've got a midterm coming up, another one in four years. Not going to happen. We're not going to let..."
KEILAR: But CNN reporting is, we'll talk about Ukraine and Syria. CNN reporting is that he's not inclined to mention that. So what does that mean?
KIRBY: I've seen that reporting, and I hope it's wrong. I mean, I do. I hope that the people around him, who are preparing him for this meeting, convince him that this is a great opportunity to do that.
But also to show firmness on other things, like the Minsk agreement, which Russia continues to not abide by. And of course, you know, bolstering up Assad and perpetuating the civil war in Syria.
This is an opportunity for him -- if he really wants to make America great again, this is a chance to do it in front of Vladimir Putin and say, "Look, we know what you're up to, and we're not going to let you get away with it."
KEILAR: We do feel strongly that our reporting is accurate that right now there is no inclination to do this, but your hope is obviously that he would mention Russian meddling.
KIRBY: Yes, I'm not questioning the reporting. I'm just saying, I hope -- I hope...
KEILAR: That's right. You hope that is not true, because you don't...
KIRBY: And look, he's got some days to go. And staff will help prepare him. And I hope that's the focus that they're -- that they're putting on it.
KEILAR: But, Rebecca, obviously, huge focus there at the G-20. That's going to take a lot of attention. Back home, you've got the Senate trying to thread the needle on health care reform. Is this going to give them a little bit of breathing room? We know that there's some math in the works even as folks are on recess.
BERG: Right. Well, whereas usually the White House would be guiding a process like this with a major piece of legislation that is crucial to the president's agenda, in this case the Senate has been in the driver's seat, and there's been a reason behind that, because the president doesn't really know how to navigate the legislative process.
[18:45:03] We've seen him derail the process more than we've seen him help the process. For example, when he said in a closed door meeting that the legislation was mean. When he then promised some senators that they would be able to repeal the legislation and then replace it later, which isn't really a workable practical proposal.
So, I think Mitch McConnell is privately going to be breathing a sigh of relief that he'll be able to do his work in peace and get the votes he needs to get.
It's worth noting that this is probably going to be a longer process than just the president's trip, but maybe they can start to get their ducks in a row. And at least prevent the president from saying anything out of turn that derails this process.
KEILAR: And he tweeted last week about, David Swerdlick, about repealing and replacing later. So, uncoupling these two things -- is that something that's going to happen? And what are the perils of that?
SWERDLICK: Well, the message that you've heard coming out of various sources in the Senate is that it's not going to happen. But either way, look, clean repeal sounds good in a tweet. It also sounds like something Republicans have been saying for eight years. It also is a way I think in the mind of the president to put pressure on recalcitrant members of both the House and Senate to get something done on this.
But, you know, what they know, what members of the House and Senate know in the Republican Party whether you do clean repeal, whether you pass the House version, the Senate version, you're going to wind up with a situation that Republicans own health care. And that I think is what's holding this process up more than the policy particulars. KEILAR: Yes?
BROWNSTEIN: Brianna, real quick. I mean, you know, look, it's kind of back to the future on that. That's where they started but they were not able to get 50 Republicans in the Senate to say they would vote to repeal without knowing what came next.
And if you think that the CBO score which so concerned them that 22 million people would lose coverage under repeal and replace, what would the numbers look like if you just repealed? I mean, if you had nothing to replace it, you'd probably be looking at 27 million, 28 million people losing coverage. And no matter how they sequence this, they still end up back in the same place, which is a core problem they have, is that the modern Republican coalition includes an awful lot of lower middle income and older white voters who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
When the Urban Institute projected just last week who would lose coverage under the Senate health care bill, 80 percent of them didn't have a college degree, 70 percent of them were working full time, 60 percent of them were white.
Who does that sound like? That sounds like the core Trump coalition, and similarly, if you look at the Kaiser Family Foundation, 60 year olds earning $30,000 to $50,000 would be paying higher premiums in virtually every --
KEILAR: Sure. So, Ron, so, Ron, real quick, the repeal entirely or just this Senate plan -- we have about 30 seconds left --
KEILAR: -- what does that do in the midterms when you actually have a lot of Trump supporters realizing that they're getting hosed?
BROWNSTEIN: Right. And much of it -- much of the effect will come after. But I think this is a real challenge because Trump's core governing strategy is more stoke and mobilize his base than to reach out beyond it, both in style and substance. And this health care bill is kind of a big violation of that principle because it takes away benefits from the lower middle income part of the Republican coalition to give tax benefits to the very top of the Republican coalition. And that is a very tough trade for many of these members, particularly in these interior states, Rust Belt states that were critical to his win and Republican majorities in Congress.
KEILAR: All right. Thank you all for being on the panel today. I certainly do appreciate it. Happy Fourth to you going into tomorrow.
BERG: Thank you.
KEILAR: And just ahead, a possible expanded laptop ban, it looms over a deadline that has airports around the world scrambling.
Plus, what's behind the growing backlash against President Trump's voter integrity commission? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[18:52:59] KEILAR: There's new uncertainty about flying with a laptop computer as airlines and airports around the world are scrambling to meet new U.S. counterterrorism requirements.
CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh has the latest for us on this.
So, Rene, the Homeland Security Department wants new security measures in place at hundreds of airports? What's new here?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I could tell you, Brianna, there are increasing concerns that all 280 airports with direct flights to the United States will not be able to meet the requirements within the short period of time that the U.S. government is asking them to. That could mean the suspension of certain flight routes or even restrictions on electronics. Both scenarios mean travel disruptions for travelers and a potential negative economic impact for airlines.
MARSH (voice-over): An aggressive deadline to put new enhanced aviation security measures in place is causing concern for airlines that have international flights with direct service to the United States. Failure to meet the new DHS mandated standards within the U.S. government's timeline threatens to trigger a laptop ban, or even a suspension in direct flights to certain international destinations.
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is time that we raised the global baseline of aviation security.
MARSH: Last week, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly laid out the new measures as a way to counter the threat of terrorists blowing up a commercial passenger plane. CNN obtained this memo sent from a trade organization IATA to its member airlines concerning the new measures. It details that in a very limited amount of time, each location will be required to have explosive trace detection technology in place.
But some airlines may struggle to meet the standard in time.
ANTHONY MAY, RETIRED ATF EXPLOSIVES ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: There's only 24 major vendors of that equipment, and we're talking 280 airports. I mean, if the material sitting on the shelf is ready to go or product, then they may meet that deadline.
[18:55:03] But then they've got the training involved.
MARSH: The list of mandates also includes increased use of bomb sniffing K-9s and other measures too sensitive to be publicized. The measures are an alternative to the all-out ban on large electronic devices in the plane's cabin currently in place in nine airports in Muslim majority countries.
The new standards impact 280 airports and 180 airlines across 105 countries. Airlines for America, another airline trade group, rates concerns the mandates could lead to significant operational disruptions and unnecessarily frustrating consequences for the traveling public.
The Department of Homeland Security says they're confident most airlines will not have any problems implementing the measures. A spokesman added: The schedule is aggressive, because we're dealing with a threat. But we're interested in working with the airlines that cannot meet the deadline.
MARSH: Well, we spoke with DHS about the concern about airlines not being able to make the deadline, and they tell us they're willing to work with the airlines and the airports to identify other measures that can be put in place in the interim. We should mention over the weekend, Etihad, the airlines, which operates flights between Abu Dhabi and the U.S., they implemented new security measures. They have since been removed from the list of airports and airlines under the laptop ban -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Rene Marsh, sounds like quite a mad dash there. We appreciate your report.
President Trump's voter integrity commission is facing sharp backlash tonight from both red and blue states as it investigates widespread voter fraud.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher has details on this.
And, Dianne, this all stems from the president's claim that millions of people voted illegally in the election, that he won the electoral college on but not the popular vote on.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, that's at least what many secretaries of state believe, that this is all a political stunt that could actually put voter privacy at risk. The commission, though, says it's not about the president, that the goal is getting information the federal government has never had before, and rooting out voter fraud with it. So far, though, the states are not on board.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Tonight, growing backlash from states feeling the federal government overreach into voter information. Now, at least 40 states pushing back at requests from President Trump's commission to hand over election data, expressing reservations, citing legal barriers or outright refusing to turn over some or all of the information.
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES, KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: This is simply a government overreach. It's making government bigger. Something Donald Trump told us he would not do by creating a hashtag fake commission.
GALLAGHER: Bipartisan opposition with red states refusing too. In a statement issue before even receiving the request, Mississippi's secretary of state told the commission to, quote, go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.
KRIS KOBACH, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY: This is a commission that's just gathering data and will follow the facts where they lead them.
GALLAGHER: Kris Kobach, the vice chair of Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, is asking for information if publicly available under state laws, including a voter's full name, address, date of birth, political affiliation, voting, military, criminal records, along with at least part of their Social Security number. Now, some states are more critical than others, with at least 10, including California's secretary of state, questioning the ethics of the panel.
ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: We know nothing about how they intend to operate in a way that's transparent and accountable to the public. But it's a commission that was based, that was formed on the president's fixation of massive voter fraud which study after study shows is simply not true.
GALLAGHER: Kobach told CNN's Anderson Cooper, that's not the point of the commission.
KOBACH: First of all, the commission's purpose is not to prove or disprove what the president speculated about back in January. The purpose of the commission is to find facts and put them on the table.
GALLAGHER: President Trump attacked the opposing states on Twitter, asking, what are they trying to hide? Since the start --
TRUMP: They woke up from the dead, and they went and voted.
GALLAGHER: Trump has claimed fraud in U.S. elections.
TRUMP: Believe me, there's a lot going on. Do you hear these people? They say there's nothing going on. People that have died ten years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.
GALLAGHER: Citing zero evidence, he tweeted in November: I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.
But the administration has yet to provide any proof. And every credible study CNN has found has determined large scale voter fraud is extremely rare to nonexistent.
GALLAGHER: Now, many secretaries have pointed out that the reservations also hinge on the greater concern of cyber security. Brianna, worrying about the standard of protection both in transmitting and the storage of information.
KEILAR: Dianne Gallagher, thank you for that report.
I'm Brianna Keilar, thank you so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.