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New Developments in Russia Meddling U.S. Elections; Highly Anticipated Meeting. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: New developments in the Russia story.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
CNN learning that Vladimir Putin's spies are digging even deeper into this country since the election. That's according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. And meanwhile, just hours away from his first face-to-face meeting with Putin, Trump, President Trump, still doesn't seem to believe his own Intel agencies.
Telling reporters in Poland today, quote, "it could have been a lot of people interfered." Let's get right to our new reporting on that concern in the U.S. intelligence community about the stepped up efforts of Russian spies here in the U.S.
Pamela Brown reported the story with Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz ,and she joins us now. Pamela, good evening to you. What did you learn?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. Well, Don, we learned that Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence-gathering efforts in the U.S. according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials who say they've noticed an increase since the election, so the Russians' efforts have not been slowed by the intense focus of the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
And since the election, Don, U.S. authorities have detected an uptick in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the U.S. under the guise of other business. Officials say they've been replenishing their ranks since the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying as you'll recall last December and in some cases Russian spies have even tried to gain employment at places in the U.S. with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts.
Now the FBI which is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the U.S. would not comment for the story and the Russian embassy in Washington they didn't respond to a request for comment, Don.
LEMON: So, Pam, if the U.S. intelligence knows this, why aren't they stopping it? BROWN: Well, there's a few reasons. There's partisan political
disagreements as you know over the Russian activity. President Donald Trump as we heard today is still reluctant to accept intelligence inclusions about Russia's meddling in the election and that slowed efforts to counter the threat.
Former and current intelligence officials tell us. And we're also told that counterintelligence agents and the FBI are seeking to keep an eye on this activity to some extent. In some cases, the FBI will use surveillance to track the suspected Russian intelligence officers as part of a counterintelligence effort, and that's how the U.S. was able to identify and expel 35 Russian diplomats accused of spying last December in response to election meddling.
But we're told that some of the Russian diplomats have violated protocol recently by leaving the D.C. area without notifying the State Department. That has been a source of concern. Russia, we should point out, has similar rules in place for U.S. diplomats in Russia.
And another ongoing issue we've learned, Don, is with the State Department, where there is this frustration between the State Department, intelligence agencies over the fact that these people who were suspected of being Russian intelligence officers are still being granted temporary visas to come to the U.S. A State Department official would not comment specifically on the visas, Don.
LEMON: All right. Pamela, I want you to stick around. Because I want to discuss this with a few other people. I want to bring in CNN politics editor at large, Chris Cillizza, and chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Good evening to both of you. Welcome to the panel.
Jim, you first, earlier today at a press conference in Poland, the president answered a question about the Russians meddling in our elections by saying, "nobody really knows, nobody really knows for sure." But you asked the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about that. Let's listen and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In your position as Director of National Intelligence oversaw the entire U.S. intelligence community. In your view, is there any doubt about Russia's role?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: Absolutely none. And that has been reaffirmed by those who are still in positions of responsibility in the intelligence community. There's absolutely no doubt about it, the high confidence levels, the multiple sources of information we had and its high fidelity still leave me very convinced of the veracity of that report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Jim Clapper also told you that he believes the Russians want to prep the battlefield for 2018 and that it's an attack on, quote, "us," not republicans or democrats. Do you think that there are members of the current administration who agree with him?
SCIUTTO: I think there are, but clearly, the one who counts won't say that in public. I mean, you couldn't have had a more definitive dismissal of the president's comments today than you had there from former Director James Clapper. He said, one, no doubt, in the assessment that Russia was behind it, he said, two, he has seen no evidence that any others might have been behind this hacking, as President Trump, yet again, raised today.
And he also dismissed this kind of troupe that has arisen now, that well, was it all 17 intelligence agencies? The president today, saying, only three or four. When, in fact, as Director Clapper noted to me today, he said the intelligence agencies that had relevant intelligence to add to the assessment, that is the ones who look at this kind of thing, cyber-attacks, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, they did, not, for instance, say the coast guard intelligence, which is one of those 17 intelligence agencies.
[22:05:10] And, again, Clapper noted as well that he has not noted any dissent from other intelligence agencies to this report. So, a very definitive contradiction coming from the nation's former top spy to the president.
LEMON: Pamela, I want to ask you about intelligence community and how they might feel because you speak to intelligence officials all the time. When the president makes remarks like he did today about the intelligence community, what do they say?
BROWN: Well, I mean, at this point, Don, I think they're just sort of used to this as Jim could agree in talking to his sources, you know, they've been hearing this for months now ever since President Trump has been in office. He's sort of been pouring cold water on the intelligence community's assessment that really, as you heard James Clapper say, is -- they are certain, they are 100 percent confident that Russia meddled in the election and yet we still hear the president say this overseas, no less.
But what's interesting here is I'm told through officials in the intelligence community is that in the briefings behind closed doors, the president is still engaged when this topic comes up because, of course, the intelligence community will continue to brief him as there are developments and as they learn more about Russia's meddling during the election and apparently behind closed doors he is engaged.
He gives no indication that he doesn't want to be briefed on this, but as we know, privately, he sort of fumes about this, he doesn't like it because as officials have told our colleagues, he feels like this delegitimizes his election win. And so I think that people within the intelligence community at this point just kind of brush it off and continue to do their jobs.
LEMON: Chris, he really believes that. I mean, come on.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think he does, Don. I think there's -- look, there's no reason as Pamela and Jim have outlined and as Director Clapper told Jim this afternoon, there's no doubt here among people who are in a position to know that Russia was the prime mover in meddling in our elections.
If you asked all 52 republican senators, they'd all tell you that. If you ask 240 of the 240-odd republicans in the House, they'd all tell you that. There's no -- on the one hand, some people say this, on the other hand, some people say that. Within the Republican Party, that's not a debate. So then you ask yourself, but then...
LEMON: But surely the leader of the free world can't be that insecure about himself or about his election win.
CILLIZZA: I think he'd -- well, I'd remind you it's not just this resistance to acknowledging what everyone else in the party and the intelligence community, Don, regarding Russia's meddling in the election, it's also the claims of well, I would have won the popular vote if three million to five million people hadn't voted illegally which is just wrong. Again, there is no -- again, this is not a he said/he said.
LEMON: It's a lie.
CILLIZZA: This is not a he said/he said. This is a Donald Trump said this. There is no evidence to suggest that. His inauguration crowds are bigger than Obama's, again, it's meaningless. Donald Trump is the President regardless of the size of his inauguration crowd.
CILLIZZA: But that's the issue here. So I think he continues to be very focused on the election, talking regularly about him winning the Electoral College and not wanting to give an inch, as Pamela noted, give an inch, on any attempt.
And he views this Russia investigation on the idea of Russia meddling as an inch, any indication that he did not win the election fair and square, which, of course, he did win the election fair and square, and Russia did meddle. Those two things can be true. You can hold both of those things in your mind at the same time and not have one contradict the other.
LEMON: Even if you believe other people meddled and that, you know, it had to have some influence if people are meddling in the election, so he won. That's it.
Jim, let's get back to CNN's new reporting, though, on Russia. Stepping up their spying efforts since the election. This comes on the eve of President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin. Will it change what is said tomorrow, you think?
SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting, it's been CNN's reporting that at least Trump's advisers do not expect him to raise Russian meddling in this one-on-one, which is something that many democrats, but also many republicans, would like him to.
I think in light of his public comments today, that seems unlikely that he would raise this face-to-face with Russia. And the trouble with that, I think there's a tendency to look at this as purely backwards looking, back to the 2016 election, let's move on, et cetera.
But as Pamela, and Evan, and Shimon's reporting noted today, Russia is stepping up its spying activity inside the United States since the election, emboldened by what they perceive as their success in interfering in the election. And as Director Clapper told me today, in his words, he views that as "prepping the battlefield," that's a direct quote from him, for interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections. It's going to happen.
[22:09:59] And I'll tell you, Don, when I speak to people in the counterterror and the intelligence space, their concern is that the next time around, Russia does attempt to interfere with actual voting tallies, voting systems.
Ask Director Clapper that. They have no reason to believe they won't hold back. That's the environment. And if you can't admit to the problem in public, there's real concern, again, among democrats and republicans that the president and the administration are not treating this with the urgency that it deserves.
LEMON: Chris, even before this new reporting, all eyes were on Russia. I want to listen to what the president said today while giving a speech in Poland, then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran. And to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization, itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But there was also this when the president was asked about the meddling in the U.S. election during a press conference. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfere interfered. Nobody really knows for sure.
I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what, that led to one big mess. They were wrong. And it led to a mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Chris, what do you make of the two Trumps we saw today and who will show up tomorrow, you think? CILLIZZA: Well, the big difference, Don, is the second one, which
actually came first in Donald Trump's day, that press conference, is Donald Trump unscripted. Donald Trump sort of answering questions. He was asked a question about the media, that was the first question he -- rather than what past presidents would do which say, I have my differences with the media, but it's important to have a free press, he went off on this network and others and then he came around to the Russia comments.
The other -- the speech was scripted. He largely stayed on the teleprompter. And delivered a message that I think would be much more well received by the international community. If he had only done the speech and not the press conference, we'd be having a different conversation but Donald Trump would also be a very different person if he would just do the speech and not the press conference.
He is his own worst enemy. He can blame the media. He can blame democrats. He can blame fake news, quote/unquote. But the reality of the situation, anyone who looks at this even marginally objectively, he is his own worst enemy. He gets in his own way. He muddles his message. He undermines his aides who are trying to push a steady message.
And I see no reason to believe that that behavior which has been the case since he entered the campaign, and through much of his professional life will change tomorrow or next week or a month from now or year from now.
LEMON: He knows that. So people who support him, I wonder if they know that.
LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
When we come back, now that we know Russia is spending more time or sending more spies to the U.S. since the election, will President Trump confront Vladimir Putin about are Russia's meddling during their first face-to-face meeting? We'll discuss.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tomorrow morning, President Trump meets face-to-face for the first time with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Joining me now, Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, and Robin Wright, joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Good evening to both of you.
Nick, you first. Your reaction to CNN's new reporting tonight that the Russians have escalated their spying efforts since the election, what do you think.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it makes it I think all the more important, Don, that President Trump raise this issue in his meeting with President Putin and it was certainly important already, I think, to raise the issue of interference in the election, but to the extent that we're talking about something going forward into 2018, it becomes all the more important. And, you know, we just don't know, as some of your guests were saying, which Trump is going to show up at that meeting.
LEMON: Yes. CNN's -- Robin, CNN's reporting is that the current and former U.S. intelligence officials had told CNN that U.S. that adversaries feel emboldened by the lack of retaliatory response from both the Obama and Trump administrations going into the meeting tomorrow with Putin. Do you think this reporting is going to put more pressure on President Trump?
ROBIN WRIGHT, JOINT FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND THE WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: I think it's probably going to put pressure on him to be seen to have said something to Vladimir Putin. But you have to remember, this is a half-hour meeting. There's not going to be a lot of time to do very much between a photo op, shaking hands and the translations, we're talking about, you know, make 20 minutes.
They have several major issues to discuss, the Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, and of course most of all, North Korea. The United States is looking for something to come out of this. This is the biggest meeting of the president's young presidency and there's been enormous focus on his relationship with Putin. Whether he's met him before or not.
And that something has -- he has to produce something out of this to look like he is the strongman capable of taking on one of the shrewdest Russian leaders of, you know, the last many decades. This is going to be a real challenge, I think, for President Trump and his secretary of state, both who are arduous they're novices on foreign policy, to look like they have -- that they're strong and they've come out of this and they have come to some kind of agreement on anything with the Russians.
LEMON: You used the word, shrewd. I thought it's important because Vladimir Putin is he'll bring a dog or whatever is it to a meetings he studies world leaders to see what their weaknesses are.
And then earlier today during his press conference in Poland, the president said he thinks Russia was involved in meddling in the election but he also thinks that it was, quote, and this is a quote, probably other people, and other -- and/or countries. So on the eve of this meeting, with Vladimir Putin, how do you think he's interpreting this? Vladimir Putin? Robin?
WRIGHT: Well, look, I think this is a man who has probably studied Donald Trump very closely, and he, you know, he has seen the dithering back and forth about whether Trump knows him, whether they actually bet before.
[22:20:07] I think he's, you know, he's likely to play a lot of shrewd games with President Trump. You know, if I were a betting woman, I would say he's going to have Trump for lunch. This is where the two men are just so -- have such different backgrounds and -- and they have such profound differences that I think the whole idea of America first and Russia first, it's going to be very hard to find common ground that they can agree on.
KRISTOF: I've got to say, that's one of the advantages of a relatively short meeting that it will be harder for President Putin to actually consume President Trump in a briefer period, you know, because I think we're all concerned about precisely that, that Putin is going to raise issues of Syria or other things and get Trump to commit in ways that befuddle the U.S., just as happened with the Lavrov meeting where President Trump revealed intelligence about Syria, or the meeting with Xi Jinping where he suddenly sort of relied on China to be the pillar of U.S. policy toward North Korea.
LEMON: Do you think that President Trump realizes who he's dealing with, or does he think that he can go in as a, you know, new president, former real estate mogul, and somehow schmooze Putin or understand what's happening in that room, in that short amount of time?
KRISTOF: President Trump has a remarkable ability to be blithe about these responsibilities and, I mean, he's been that way all along. He's been reluctant to consume the president's daily brief, to consume -- to have major meetings about things.
I think what troubled me a little bit this time was that H.R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser, who's somebody who I really do admire, I think is a real grown-up in the White House, that he seemed to defer to that and suggested that President Trump didn't really have an agenda going into the Putin meeting because, you know, Putin is going to have an agenda.
LEMON: Yes. Robin, I'm going to put up this poll because this is a PBS/NPR/Marist College poll, and it shows 54 percent of Americans think Trump's dealings with Russia were unethical or illegal. If you're the president or someone advising the president, don't you look at those numbers, at that number, and think that you have to confront Putin about it? Even if it's a short meeting, as you said?
WRIGHT: Well, I think it will be brought up but I think it will probably be in some nuanced way rather than a confrontation saying as President Obama did, "cut it out," that there will be an effort to diplomatically or kind of slide around but make sure that it's part of the discussion. It's going to be a very tricky part of the conversation.
Remember, you've got so many big subjects that the world is depending on. President Trump faces his first real crisis with the North Korean missile challenge, intercontinental missile. And he needs Russian cooperation to impose new sanctions.
They have some big things that have to happen even if it's only to agree to have their foreign ministers, you know, engage in the details of some kind of future talks on these issues. They have a lot of substance. And so trying to figure out a way to talk about something like hacking, like the relationship between the two men is going to be very tricky, I think. LEMON: I want to know, Robin, what your national security council
friends or allies may be telling you about this meeting because in this meeting, we know President Trump is in the room, it's going to be six people, it's going to be Trump, Putin, Tillerson, along with two translators, and Putin has met with -- and Lavrov as well. He's met with -- for 17 years now, four American presidents. What are they sharing with you, if anything?
WRIGHT: Well, the senior aides a the white House were very concerned about having a meeting where President Trump and President Putin were in a room alone. There were echoes of 1986 when President Reagan met President Gorbachev and there were great hopes that there would be some kind of progress on disarmaments.
And what happened was there was a real breakdown over the issue of star wars and there was fear that that could happen again particularly given the fact that at that point President Reagan was deep into his presidency. At this point, President Trump is not.
And so -- so, the deal was we'll make it a little bit longer meeting, we'll have President Trump. We'll have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with him, that would give him someone another adult, or an adult in the room to kind of monitor the nature of the discussions and make sure it doesn't go too much off track. But I think there's deep fear that this president is not ready for primetime with the president of Russia.
LEMON: Yes. Before we go, Nick Kristof, I want to ask you about the intercontinental ballistic missile test North Korea conducted on the Fourth of July, by the way.
[22:24:57] Today South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that under the right circumstances he'd be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. What's your reaction?
KRISTOF: I think that, look, fundamentally, we don't have a workable policy toward North Korea, and our strategy has been to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal. I think it's increasingly clear that simply is not going to happen and on the one hand, President Trump doesn't have a viable strategy, on the other hand, look, President Obama didn't have a strategy that worked, either. Neither did President Bush.
I think that among North Korea watchers whom I respect, pretty much everybody agrees that the last best hope, and it might not succeed, is some kind of a deal involving a freeze of North Korea's nuclear arsenal and missile tests in exchange for some reduction in U.S. military exercises. And that's going to only come about if it can come about through talks and discussions involving the U.S. and very much involving President Moon of South Korea.
LEMON: Nick, Robin, thank you very much.
When we come back, President Trump bashing the U.S. press while in Poland. A country that's recently had a crackdown on its own press. How presidential is that? We'll discuss next. [22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] LEMON: President Trump bashing American media while speaking to the international press corps in Poland today.
Here to discuss, CNN's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, and political commentators, Charles Blow, op-ed columnist for the New York Times. Matt Lewis, senior columnist for the Daily Beast, and Mike Shields, former chief of staff to Reince Priebus at the Republican National Committee. Good evening to all of you.
My first question, Brian, at the president's news conference today, was focused on his attacks on CNN. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since you started the whole wrestling video thing, what are your thoughts about what has happened since then? I mean, CNN went after you and has threatened to expose the identity of the person they said was responsible for it. I'd like your thoughts on that.
TRUMP: Yes, I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They've been covering me in a very -- very dishonest way.
Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President? What CNN and others, I mean, I know NBC is e equally as bad, despite the fact I made them a fortune with the apprentice but they forgot that, but I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they've hurt themselves very badly. Very, very badly.
And what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it's a very important thing. We don't want fake news. And by the way, not everybody is fake news, but we don't want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A lot to discuss here because the biggest purveyor of fake news is the president in this country because he does it a lot. Number two, CNN is just fine. And number three, he would not have turned to the Polish president and asked that question had he known what just happened with the press in Poland.
BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: There have been restrictions on the press in Poland. There were even protests, we saw Polish citizens coming into the streets trying to support a free press there amid attempts to crack down and curtail press access.
It is notable that President Trump only ended his comments normally where most Americans presidents will begin, with an expression of support for a free, as he said, beautiful press. He started out by attacking CNN and NBC. I thought it was revealing the way he was doing that saying, NBC, I made them a lot of money with the apprentice, they should take care of me, but they're so mean to me.
It shows the transactional way he thinks about the media, the way he thinks about business and maybe about politics and governing. But let's make no mistake, we're continuing to see this kind of coordinated campaign by Trump and his allies to tear down news outlets they don't like, news outlets that are trying to hold them accountable.
It happens to be CNN today. It happens to be NBC on Trump's mind today. But it will be others as well. It's been others in the past, there will be others in the future.
STELTER: Now what I think Polish citizens and American citizens have in common is a desire for a truly free press.
LEMON: But what people don't -- there's a lot there. One, CNN is worldwide. The biggest news organization. And he probably feels CNN can hurt him the most. That's why he goes after CNN. We're carrying the ball. The other thing is that -- what people don't realize at home, that reporter was a setup. Was that a setup?
STELTER: I don't know if we can call it a setup, but here's the context. David Martosko is a reporter for the Daily Mail who's interviewed for a job in the Trump administration; he's been named in the past as a possibility of press secretary, some other press job.
Now whether that was real or not, it's unclear, but he confirmed he had a meeting about it, he met with the president about it. He's viewed as, he's a friendly guy. But he's usually a friendly reporter to the Trump administration.
So you wonder when someone gets the first question and they've interviewed for a job in the Trump White House how fair that really is. The second questioner, NBC's Hallie Jackson asked I thought tougher, sharper questions of the president.
LEMON: What's reaction Charles?
CHARLES BLOW, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, in addition to what you're saying, it is, it just underlines the incredible narcissism of the president. I mean, everything that he says is about how the press has treated me, how NBC has treated me, what I did for them and they didn't repay me.
It is never about -- even the investigation, the Russia investigation, it's never about the health of the country. It's never about protecting the institutions that make the country great. It's never about, like, something that is bigger than me. It is always about everything that is as small as me with this man.
And when you view it through that lens, then it starts to make a little bit more sense. It's -- not that it makes it right, it just makes it make sense that he cannot see anything greater than himself. And that -- that kind of drags the presidency down. That drags the country down.
That makes us all sit around and talk about these -- talk about his feelings and whether or not his fragility is in play and whether or not he is personally hurt and injured by something that someone said that he didn't agree with.
[22:35:10] And that he now tosses around the idea of fake news as if it is interchangeable with whether or not it is laudatory for me or not. And that's crazy.
LEMON: Wasn't this an opportunity, Mike Shields, for a president to defend freedom of the press and the importance of an independent media? Especially with a country that has just dealt with that, whose people to the street to fight for an open, a more open and more free press?
MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, he did. I mean, he said that. And everyone was watching. He said it to the world. He talked about a free press and having an open and fair and free press. I mean, that's the President of the United States' words. They matter. We may not like the order he put them in. I think that's kind of getting nitpicky. He said those words.
SHIELDS: I think the amazing thing here -- I think the amazing thing here is that we're questioning the background of one of the reporters. So, the press should be fair, but then if we don't like who the reporter is, we're going to question his background and expose that on television, say, actually that reporter is not a real reporter, that's exactly what conservatives do all the time.
STELTER: Who said that? I like David a lot.
SHIELDS: that's exactly what conservatives do all the time.
LEMON: Actually, Brian just sticks up for the reporter.
STELTER: I like David a lot. He's a friendly guy.
LEMON: I said that I thought that it may...
SHIELDS: Right. But you said he interviewed with the Trump administration, so it was kind of a setup of question. When we get into that, when we start pointing out...
STELTER: The Daily Mail is not one of the biggest outlets in the United States, the Trump White House chose to call on the Daily Mail over bigger news outlets.
STELTER: It may be a complete coincidence, Mike. But the president called outlet fake news before at the end by the way adding...
SHIELDS: No, but let me finish my point. I realize -- let me finish my point. If we start down that path, right, if we start looking at the background of reporters, and we say well, he interviewed with the Trump administration, let's start looking at some other reporters and what their backgrounds are, let's question whether or not they have pure motives in the questions that they're asking.
What you're going to find is people that work for democratic senators, people that work for democratic presidents, people have who given money to democrats, people that voted democratic primaries when we pull up their voter file information, and this is what conservatives, why we feel like we're in an onslaught.
One of the interesting things about this, I thought, I talked to conservatives in Canada and Britain and Australia and Germany, they all feel like they have a hostile relationship with the press as well.
So the president was looking at another leader saying, yes, when you're a conservative, this is -- and obviously the issues in Poland aside, I'm not getting into what they're doing in their country with the press because we do need a free press, but it is a something that's a commonality amongst conservatives around the world that they feel beset upon.
And I just find it really ironic about questioning the motives...
STELTER: Now the liberals do, too.
SHIELDS: ... we're questioning the motives of a reporter when study after study my entire career in politics for 20 years has shown that most reporters come at things from the left, a lot of them come into...
LEMON: But Mike, there's been a whole lot of time...
SHIELDS: So we can question the motives of a lot of reporters.
LEMON: Mike, let me jump in here. I asked the question because it has been out there in the news and people have been discussing whether this was a setup or not, whether the president was intentionally calling on upon a reporter who would have a favorable question to him.
We spent three or four minutes before that discussing other issues that were probably -- that are more important than the last question I asked and then Brian defended the reporter.
Wasn't this -- back to my original question, wasn't this -- shouldn't the president be there on foreign soil defending the United States, defending a free press instead of taking something that is local here to the United States and bringing it across the shore to foreign soil and having all of our allies and our enemies being able to see what kind of controversy we're having here? Shouldn't he be defending America and the press?
SHIELDS: Well, he did defend the press, but I also don't think anyone in the world doesn't know that the president has an adversarial relationship with the press.
And I think one of the things about having a free country is we don't sort of have propaganda when we go overseas and pretend things aren't going on in our country. We have a free and open dialogue for everybody to see. And everybody knows the president has an adversarial...
LEMON: What if the president is standing here and giving a propaganda...
STELTER: Based on a lie, Mike. We work for CNN. It's based on a lie. We're not fake news, Mike.
SHIELDS: But that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying -- of course, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that it's a known fact that the president has an adversarial relationship with the press and he talks about it all the time, he tweets about it.
STELTER: Right, based on a lie. Based on a lie. The lie is we're fake news.
SHIELDS: Well, no, but you weren't asking me about that, you were asking whether or not it's OK if the president should talk about this on foreign soil. And my point is, yes, it is. Of course, you can talk about anything on foreign soil. We're an open society. We're not going to hide things just because we're overseas.
LEMON: Even if it's -- even if the president is giving something that's false, even if he is purveying...
SHIELDS Well, now you're getting into the substance of what I said. You asked me about whether or not it's OK to even talk about...
LEMON: Well that's the premise behind the question, why is he talking about something that's false and giving false information to everyone overseas? He's basically -- he's just lying to people overseas saying, you know, the media's fake, NBC is fake, CNN is fake. And he's telling that to our enemies and our allies. What's the point? That's the question. What is the point to do that? Why? [22:39:56] SHIELDS: Well, you know, my opinion on this is that the
president feels besieged. I think that he feels attacked by the media on a daily basis. Every day he wakes up he feels as though he' trying to get an agenda done and people in the media are coming after him. And his response is to be a pugilist and punch back and that's what...
LEMON: But Mike, the whole thing again, I got to get to the break, because I'm getting that in my ear. But the whole point of it is no one is attacking the president. They're just reporting on it. And his feelings are hurt. He's the president, he's the leader of the free world.
Everyone who's at that G20, everyone who's over there, they're looking to him for leadership. And so if he can't take the criticism or being reported on by a free media, maybe he shouldn't be in that position.
BLOW: But seriously, even if he's being attacked.
BLOW: Even if he is being attacked, number one, he's attacking as much as he's being attacked. So if he can't -- if he can't take a punch, he shouldn't throw a punch, number one.
BLOW: And number two, he's a punch -- I'm sorry, I let you talk. Number two, he's the President of the United States. There is -- there is a certain sort of kind of protocol in diplomacy that you exercise when you're on foreign soil that is different than when you're domestic and if this were Obama, in fact, Obama was very much criticized about diminishing the statute of the United States when he was overseas and we can't let this descend into a partisan argument where all of a sudden it's OK for Trump to be fragile and go take his gripes and grievances overseas and whine about it.
And it was a different set of rules for Obama and who was not doing any of this, by the way.
LEMON: OK. Stand by. Matt, you'll get in on the other side of the break. We'll be right back.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back now with my panel. Matt Lewis, you got to speak so much last time, I'm going to start with you first. What do you make of this whole discussion that we're having here?
MATT LEWIS, COMMENTATOR, CNN: Look, I'm looking at it from the context of the media being under, you know, criticism right now and a lot of it, obviously, I think is bogus, but I think that the reason -- part of the reason it's working is the conservatives have for decades felt like there is liberal media bias and they couldn't get a fair shake. And I do think that there is liberal media bias. And I think when we
look at today's story, the criticism would be, why aren't we talking about this great speech? What I think was a great speech in Warsaw that Donald Trump delivered where he did talk about big, important things, not petty, small things.
About things like defending western civilization. The problem is that Donald Trump invites us to talk about something else when he holds a press conference and he attacks the intelligence community and he won't be clear about whether or not Russia, you know, attempted to hack the election. So, I think that there is a valid concern about selection of stories.
LEWIS: But Donald Trump is actually feeding it.
STELTER: And sometimes you wonder who's the real Trump? Is it teleprompter Trump delivering remarkable speech or is it the guy who is unscripted at this press conference?
LEMON: But you know which one it is.
STELTER: No, Don.
LEMON: Come on.
BLOW: Can I also defend media in this regard because I don't think people talk about this idea of like liberal media bias. I think that more -- it's more accurate to say that there is an urban media bias. Meaning that the largest publications, largest broadcast, are all...
STELTER: Based in New York.
BLOW: They're based in, like, big cities.
BLOW: And that informs a certain kind of sensibility. That it's true and attracts a certain type of people who want to live in places like New York and D.C. and whatever, and that means that those kinds of journalists are gravitated. So I do believe that is a real thing, but it also means that you're rubbing elbows with people who are very different than you.
And so that means that you probably have a different sensibility about immigrants or whatever or diversity, it means that you have a different sensibility about how people identify on the LGBT spectrum. It also means that those people have a bias toward science.
BLOW: You know, because those institutions also exist in places where big colleges and a lot of intellectuals exist. And so I think...
STELTER: There is difference...
BLOW: So I think this idea of, like, people just want to beat up on conservatives and not, and favor liberals is actually kind of false. I think you have to shift that to say it is a function of where...
LEMON: Listen, I do have to say, because I have to go, I'm sorry. I hate to cut you off. But I also have to say people, when you're talking about story selection, it's like when you read a newspaper, not everything is devoted to the big story of the day. This is a 24- hour news organization. There are a couple of them on television. We can have a sports page, we can have an editorial page, we can have an entertainment page.
All day long I've been listening to people say on CNN the president did a great job, he had a great speech. On this particular segment that I invited you on, this is to talk about what he said to the media. We've been reporting other things all day long. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. I don't think that that is a valid criticism. I can disagree with you. And we can all be better. But I also think the President of the United States when he's on foreign soil should be nicer to...
LEWIS: I agree, I agree, absolutely. That's an old-fashioned sort of conservative value that I have. But I think, look, this is my frustration with Donald Trump, and if I was rude -- if I was a Donald Trump loyalist, I would be angry at him for stepping on his story.
LEMON: On his own message. Giving us something to talk about.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you, Mike. Thanks, everyone. I appreciate it. Fareed Zakaria joins me next. We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin just hours away and the stakes could not be higher.
Let's discuss now with Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS is here. Key question tomorrow, you know I'm going to ask you. Do you think that question about meddling is going to come up, will the president bring that up?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN: You know, who can predict Donald Trump. The thing you could say is it would make so much sense for him to do it. The odd thing about what Trump has done on this trip is as you were pointing out, he's not behaving in a strategic way. So he gives a perfectly good speech in Poland and then steps on himself with the press conference, with the attacks on the media, with the attacks on American intelligence. That once again becomes the story.
In this case if he were to ask about it, it would be -- it would be a home run for him, right? He'd come out of it seeming statesmanlike. He'd be able to say, look, I know it might have benefitted me but I thought it was important to protect the American system of democracy. He just have to ask one question.
It's not as if Putin doesn't have a ready-made answer for it. Putin is a perfectly intelligent guy, he would have buried it away the way he did when Obama trolled it.
ZAKARIA: So Putin could handle this just fine. But it feels like in these situations Trump is egotistical enough and he tales the stuff personally enough that he can't do the thing that not only is the most statesman like thing to do but it would actually help him politically. It would, frankly, it would suddenly put at rest all his critics would say.
ZAKARIA: You see, I raise it.
LEMON: And we would be reporting President Trump brings up Russian meddling to Vladimir Putin to his face.
LEMON: What a bold move, right?
LEMON: So what do you think Trump wants out of this meeting?
ZAKARIA: I think that's part of the problem. We know what Putin wants out of it. Putin's goals have been very consistent. He's a Russian nationalist. But in specific here, he wants the relaxation of the European Union sanctions against Russia. Mostly it's the European Union sanctions that are crippling the Russian economy. He wants America to relax the pressure on the European Union. Divide the west. That's clearly been he's getting.
[22:55:00] He's probably gained it out, he's touted out. We don't know what Trump wants. He says there's no agenda. He's just going to freelance. These are not situations in which you want to freelance. You want to have gained out here's what I think I'm going to say. Here's what Putin would say in response.
LEMON: Do you think his team, meaning the president, they don't want to give him too much information because he has a binder with just, you know, sort of bullet points and not necessarily a lot of information they don't want to overwhelm him. ZAKARIA: Look, I think this is a 71-year-old successful businessman
who's operated a certain way by the gut without a lot of briefings and I don't think you can change somebody at that age.
LEMON: Your documentary is called the most powerful man in the world. That airs right after this. Putin's power's unlike anything else we've seen before.
ZAKARIA: Yes. The point we were making is, you know, obviously these are subjective judgments but that if you take the power of the country but also the power of the president within that country, you know, unchecked, unbalanced in any way, Putin is pretty much unique in the world.
And that even the Chinese president has appalled bureau central committee. President Trump as he is discovering has many checks and balances on his power. Putin operates really like a czar. And he, you know, and it's a country as not as powerful as America but it has 3,000 nuclear weapons, it has a veto in the securities counsel, it's engaged in, you know, in militarily in Ukraine, in Syria. It's got equities all over the world.
That's a pretty powerful portfolio and he's very purposeful and strategic. Again, that's the thing I think if there was one thing I would say to Donald Trump is this guy is not free lancing. He is -- he is really sure of what he's trying to do. It's a long-term strategy. He might be in office 15 years from now. He's thinking about the long- term.
LEMON: Not only you're the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS here on CNN, you're the host of this special that's coming up right after this. Thank you so much, Fareed Zakari. The most powerful man in the world, coming up next here on CNN. And don't miss CNN's Fareed Zakaria Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern.
That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)