Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump & Putin Meet: Two Sides Disagree on What Was Said; Police, Protestors Clash as Trump Meets World Leaders. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 7, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Two-hour tango. President Trump and Russian President Putin sit down for their first meeting, and it's a blockbuster as they talk four times longer than planned. At the center of the meeting, Russia's interference in the U.S. election.

[17:00:22] Differing accounts. The two sides offer very different versions of their election meddling discussion. Russia says that President Trump accepted Putin's word that the Kremlin did not interfere in the campaign. Senior U.S. officials said that Trump did not, in fact, accept Putin's denial.

Welcome to Hell. That is the slogan of thousands of anti-globalist protesters at the G-20 summit. They've set fires, raising black smoke over Hamburg, engaged in running battles with police. There are hundreds of injuries at this hour.

And "tactics and pace" as North Korea celebrates its launch of a new long-range missile. Presidents Trump and Putin cannot agree on how to deal with Kim Jong-un's weapons program. The U.S. says it comes down to the tactics and pace of pressuring the regime.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Sciutto, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SCIUTTO: Breaking news, Russia's election meddling is at the heart of President Trump's high-stakes meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin, which ran four times longer than planned. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Trump opened by raising concerns about Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign.

Tillerson says the two leaders had a robust and lengthy exchange on the subject, with Putin denying any involvement and the Russians asking for proof. A senior U.S. official rejects a Russian claim that President Trump accepted Putin's denial. Tillerson said the leaders had a positive chemistry, reaching agreement on a ceasefire for southwest Syria, which he says could lead to even more cooperation. And at Russia's request, the U.S. has appointed a special representative for Ukraine.

There have been clashes all day between German police and protesters seeking to disrupt the summit. Protestors did have some success. Melania Trump's spokeswoman says the first lady was stuck in her hotel for a time as fires raged in Hamburg and clouds of smoke filled the city. Police say that dozens of protesters have been arrested and some 160 officers hurt.

And while North Korea is celebrating the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, claiming it will win any confrontation with the U.S., presidents Putin and Trump have failed to agree on how to deal with North Korea's weapons program.

I'll speak with former U.S. ambassador Daniel Baer, and our correspondents, specialists and guests are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

We begin, though, with the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Russia's President Putin. Contrary to some expectations, President Trump raised the issue of Russia's attack on American democracy.

Let's go straight to CNN White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He is in Hamburg traveling with the president.

So Jim, we're hearing those very differing versions of events from Tillerson and Lavrov. Is the White House saying which one we should believe?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House is certainly saying, Jim, that the American people should believe President Trump. President Trump did press Vladimir Putin on this issue of Russian meddling in last year's election, but there were also some disagreement between both sides on some pretty big issues, including Putin's denials of interference.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it's going very well.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Just after the cameras were kicked out of the room, President Trump reportedly did what many of his critics saw as unthinkable.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm delighted to be able to meet you personally.

ACOSTA: The president confronted Vladimir Putin on U.S. concerns that Russia meddled in last year's election. In a meeting that lasted much longer than expected, 2 hours 15 minutes, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president raised the issue repeatedly.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.

ACOSTA: Briefing reporters off-camera, Tillerson said the two leaders never came to an agreement on the issue of interference. TILLERSON: The two presidents, I think, rightly focused on, how do we

move forward? How do we move forward from here? Because it's not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations. The question is what do we do now?

ACOSTA: But that's not exactly how the Russians described it. Speaking to reporters on camera, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the president accepted Putin's denials.

[17:05:04] SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): President Trump said he heard Putin's very clear statements, that this was not true and that the Russian government did not interfere in the elections and that he accepts these statements. That's all.

ACOSTA: Lavrov said Putin complained he is still waiting on proof of Russian meddling.

LAVROV (through translator): Not a single fact has been presented. And this is something that has been acknowledged by the people in Congress.

ACOSTA: A senior administration official told CNN President Trump did not accept Putin's denials. Still, the president's decision to press Putin on interference is a significant shift. Just a day ago in Poland, the president continued to express doubts about Russian meddling, contradicting his own intelligence community.

TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.

ACOSTA: And hours before his meeting with Putin, Mr. Trump continued to blame others, slamming former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, tweeting, "Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful."

Podesta, who had no ability to turn over the DNC computer server to investigators, as he was heading Clinton's campaign, responded, "Get a grip, man. The Russians committed a crime when they stole my e-mails to help get you elected president."

As for the president's meeting with Putin, there was some harmony.

TILLERSON: There was a very clear, positive chemistry between the two.

ACOSTA: Both leaders agreed to work to deescalate hostilities in Syria and pledged to continue discussions on Russian aggression in Ukraine.

That may not be enough for European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who appeared to flash an eyeroll during her own exchange with Putin. Mr. Trump had other meetings at the G-20 that made waves, such as his

sit-down with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. The president spared any diplomatic niceties when he was asked whether he still expects Mexico to pay for a wall on the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want Mexico pay for the wall?

ACOSTA: "Absolutely," he said.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, despite their clash over Russia meddling, the president and Putin did not want to stop their meeting. According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the two leaders were talking so long first lady Melania Trump had to poke her head in the door just to hurry things along -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta, traveling with the president. Thank you.

Protesters clashed with police today as President Trump met with Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. First lady Melania Trump unable to leave her hotel for a time because of these protests.

CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen is in Hamburg. He's been covering the protests.

Fred, thousands in the streets tonight. I'm seeing a fire burn behind you. These look like they're going to continue into the night.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, you're absolutely right. They certainly are going to continue. I want to take you here and show you what's going on.

This is just one of several bonfires that's going on here in a row of streets, which is in a neighborhood that sort of has civil dysfunctions every once in a while, but I can tell you it's been a very long time since I've seen something like this on the streets of Germany.

You'll also see that some of the protestors here have already -- some of the pavement there on the ground, presumably they're trying to throw that at the police later. That's something that's already been going on.

The police themselves, strangely, Jim, is actually keeping sort of a hands off approach. You can see that back there, those are water- cannon trucks that have been used over the night. You can see some of that -- maybe see some of that -- those water rays coming out right now.

Right now what those protesters are doing is they're doing sort of run tactics, where you see a group of them run from where I am right now towards the police, throw a couple of rocks, throw a couple of bottles and then run away again.

But you're absolutely right. It certainly doesn't look as though this is going to end any time soon. As you can see, some of these protesters still putting things on that fire. We're hearing some little bangs and explosions every once in a while. Not exactly sure if they're also putting fireworks in there or if those are cans or something else that might be exploding.

But it really is a very, very tense and aggressive atmosphere here on the ground right now. There's also a lot of police officers that are surrounding this area at this point. So this really looks like it's going to go on for a very, very long time. And it is much bigger than you can see right now from where we are. It's really -- it's at least a mile down in that direction, Jim.

SCIUTTO: More than 150 officers injured, as well. Fred Pleitgen, stay safe. Thanks very much.

Joining me now is Daniel Baer. He's former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Ambassador Baer, thanks for joining us tonight. You're hearing these competing descriptions of exactly how election meddling was raised by President Trump in the meeting. Secretary Tillerson saying raised very forcefully and frequently by the president. Secretary Lavrov claiming that Trump accepted Vladimir Putin's denial of Russian interference. The White House, of course, pushing back on that now.

How do you interpret those conflicting remarks?

DANIEL BAER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO OSCE: Well, Jim, I think it's important to remember that there were only the four of them in the room. And so now you've got both foreign ministers out there spinning. The Russian foreign minister came out, Sergey Lavrov, first in saying that Trump had accepted Putin's denial. And then Tillerson caught up.

[17:10:13] And unfortunately, you know, we don't know what to think. And I think -- I have no doubt that Secretary Tillerson's account of the meeting is what Secretary Tillerson hopes -- or hoped would happen, but it's hard to believe that President Trump reserved the only time that he would forcefully raise Russian meddling in our elections for the time that he was sitting face-to-face with Putin, because even just yesterday he was once again raising doubts about it. So it's really hard to believe the credible -- the credibility of Tillerson's account of the meeting.

SCIUTTO: To be fair, there were a lot of questions as to whether President Trump would raise this at all, and apparently, he began the meeting by doing so. As ambassador to the OSCE, you've dealt with Russia on many fronts. Elections, the MH-17 crash, et cetera. How important is that? Does that carry weight after hearing the many conflicting statements from President Trump regarding election meddling to this point, for the president to lead his first meeting with Russian President with a discussion of election interference?

BAER: Well, I think it's absolutely critical that the president of the United States, after the Russians have attempted to undermine our democratic system, that the president of the United States would lead his first meeting with the president of Russia by raising those concerns.

After all, the American elected was decided by fewer than a hundred thousand votes in a few states, and Russian propaganda and active measures reached tens of millions of Americans. So I have no doubt that the Russian intelligence services think that their operation in our election was the most successful Russian spy operation since the end of the Cold War.

It's absolutely critical that the president raise this. But we should give him no special credit for raising it. It's the responsible thing to do. The question is whether he raised it forcefully, as was reported, or not. And it's -- this was a very important meeting for the president, because he has been all over the map on so many issues, not just the Russian meddling in our elections but, obviously, as well, a commitment to NATO. He said good things about our commitment to NATO yesterday in Warsaw, but he said different things at different times. And one of the challenges when you're all over the map is that this kind of disparate sense of where you stand is something that the Russians can exploit.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because even Tillerson's description of the conversation did not mention -- did not have the president mentioning consequences for Russian interference in the election.

Based on your dealings with Russia, for Russia to stop this kind of activity, which we know, for a fact, is continuing -- we hear this in public testimony from U.S. officials -- for Russia to stop that kind of interference, does it need to see hard consequences?

BAER: Absolutely, Jim. Consequences are critical to discouraging Russia from taking further action. Obviously, we also need to do our homework in explaining to the American people just how the Russian operations were carried out. That's why a number of members of Congress have called for an investigative commission, so that the American people can understand how Russia manipulated our democracy in 2016 and so that we can be prepared to withstand some of their active measures in the future.

But delivering consequences for Russia is critical to this, which is why it's so concerning to learn that Trump administration is thinking about handing back the diplomatic compounds that were seized in response to Russia's intervention in our election. Also concerning to hear Tillerson himself saying at the end of his attempt to re-spin the press, Tillerson himself saying that, you know, that the two leaders were kind of going to agree that what had happened in the past, there were some things we were angry about, there were some things they were angry about, and we were just going to turn the page and move forward.

I think every Republican in the Senate who has grilled me or others in the past about the wisdom of the reset under the Obama administration should be loud and clear that, you know, the idea that you can turn the page and move forward with the Russians has been something that, in recent history we have tried, and it hasn't succeeded. And so that attitude strikes me as painfully naive.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Baer, please stand by. We're getting new information about the Trump-Putin meeting. We're also monitoring protests in the streets outside the G-20 summit in Germany. We'll be right back with former ambassador Daniel Baer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:42] SCIUTTO: Our breaking news, these are live pictures from Hamburg, Germany, as fires rage in the streets near the G-20 summit. Protesters classing -- clashing with police under the slogan "Welcome to Hell."

This as President Trump sits down for the first time with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, and acknowledges the elephant in the room: Russia's meddling in the U.S. election. But the two sides disagreeing about what was actually said on the subject.

We're back with Daniel Baer. He's the former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Ambassador Baer, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, who was also in that meeting, says that the question of these Russian compounds that the U.S. seized in retaliation for Russian election meddling during the transition were brought up in this meeting.

This comes as a bipartisan group of senators have sent a letter to Donald Trump, urging him not to return those compounds closed by the Obama administration. I'm going to quote from this letter. It says, "The return of these two facilities to Russia while the Kremlin refuses to address its influence campaign against the U.S. would embolden Putin and invite a dangerous escalation in the Kremlin's destabilizing actions against democracies worldwide."

Do you agree that if the Trump administration, perhaps as part of a quid pro quo or a sign of good faith, would return these compounds, that that would send the wrong signal to Putin's Russia?

[17:20:06] BAER: I do. I do, Jim, and I think, you know, this is a Russian game that they've played a number of times, where Russian bad behavior invites a response. In my view, there's more of a response that's warranted. But Russian bad behavior invites a response, and then the Russians cry foul at the response and claim that that is the initial irritant, trying to get you to forget about what they did in the first place to deserve it.

I strongly support the view of the bipartisan group of senators who have written to the administration to discourage the handing over of those compounds, and I think that, as we continue the investigation, obviously, we have a clear ruling from 17 intelligence agencies that they all agree that the Russians were attempting to undermine our elections, attempting to take down Hillary Clinton, attempting to boost up Donald Trump.

As we learn more about that, we should be prepared to deliver more consequences to the Russians in order to target the actors who were responsible for this influence campaign and this intervention in our democratic process. SCIUTTO: The other topic in this Putin-Trump meeting was Syria, and

it appears some important progress here. The two sides announcing that they have helped broker a cease fire in the southwestern part of Syria. A truce, as it were, between regime forced backed by Russia and other rebels backed by the U.S. How important is this to bringing the Syrian civil war to a close?

BAER: I think it's probably too soon to tell. I think it's important to recognize that going into this meeting, it was Putin who feels the squeeze on Syria. He's overextended there, increasingly entangled, sees the one that feels the squeeze. It's not clear to me that deal on Syria is actually a win for the United States rather than President Trump and the administration giving the Russians more free rein to play out their game.

Obviously, it is a good step if ISIS can be gotten out of Raqqah, but it's bad if we don't have a plan for the day after. It's bad if the end result is that Russia, Iran and Assad get to run the show.

So I think it's too soon to know how this deal will move the ball forward or not, but we should be watching in the coming days and weeks.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Baer, you have a lot of experience with Russia. Thanks for taking the time with us tonight.

BAER: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: For more on what we know about Russia's election meddling, be sure to watch tonight for my and my producer, Jen Rizzo's (ph), "CNN SPECIAL REPORT," "THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION, INSIDE THE ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY." You can see it at 11 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. Tells the story from start to finish.

And coming up, we continue to monitor protests in the streets outside the G-20 summit in Germany. You're seeing live pictures there right now.

Also as North Korea celebrates its latest missile launch with fireworks at a huge rally, presidents Trump and Putin discuss and disagree over how to confront the Kim regime. More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:27:35] SCIUTTO: We are following breaking news. Police outside the G-20 summit using water cannons against protesters who are setting fires, looting stores. There have been a lot of injuries there, more than 150 police officers injured.

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting for over two hours today discussing Syria, North Korea and more, including election meddling and cyber-attacks.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the two leaders had a very clear, very positive chemistry. But the Americans and Russians are giving different accounts, very different accounts of the meeting. We have a great deal to discuss with our specialists. Admiral Kirby,

if I could begin with you, there are always differing accounts coming out of these principles meetings on both sides. This is quite a conflict here, Mr. Lavrov saying Mr. Trump accepted Putin's denial. The White House saying absolutely not. Is there any "there" there to that difference? Who should we believe?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, It's important to note that the president did bring it up, and right at the top. I do. And is it possible that he maybe wasn't as assertive as some people would like him to have been, based on what he said in polling yesterday? Absolutely.

But I'm -- I'm inclined to take the administrative take on this. And look, I have been in many meetings, many bilat, with Sergey Lavrov. And the idea that he would go to the cameras after a meeting and have an entirely different perspective that doesn't comport with the facts in the discussion doesn't surprise me in the least. So I think we need to be careful to take Lavrov's version.

SCIUTTO: He doesn't have the best reputation for accuracy himself.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: An alternate theory that just when I heard Tillerson describe that and then Lavrov's words, I wondered is it that the president accepted that Putin is not going to move off the dime of saying that he had absolutely no responsibility, rather than accepting Putin's content as true? Did he accept the -- I just wonder if there's an interpretation thing there. Could Trump have accepted the fact that Putin is not going to move from this position, because everything that Tillerson was saying was trying to paint the relationship about moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Right, true.

CHALIAN: He didn't want to get caught looking backward.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think what happened is they brought it up, they acknowledged the elephant in the room, and then they said, "We have a lot of other business to discuss. Let's move on."

SCIUTTO: Let see where we have areas of agreement.

LABOTT: Pretty much what Secretary Tillerson said.

SCIUTTO: To be absolutely fair, we would be having a very different conversation here if, in an hour and a half meeting, the president -- more than a two-hour meeting, I should say -- the president did not bring up election meddling, and yet he did. And as the secretary of state, a man of some credibility, said he brought it up repeatedly and forcefully, we should give the president credit for this.

Especially given all of the criticism that was coming in advance of the meeting, because everybody was anticipated that he would not, because it wasn't on the agenda as they had set it out. Because just 24 hours before, the president of the United States in

Europe once again questioned the judgment of U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian meddling. David Chalian, it would have been a lot easier for

him just to forget about that and take the win from bringing this this up face-to-face with the Russian president.

CHALIAN: I agree that the president gets credit for bringing it up. I think -- I thought it was sort of the entry fee that he had to pay if this meeting was going to be anything of a success for him at all, and I -- and I give him credit for that. I do think though, this is not going to be the last word that we're ever going to hear from this administration about its relationship vis-a-vis Russia over the election meddling. It can't be. This description of the meeting, it leaves too many questions. So here's what I don't understand. How do you square that Tillerson said President Trump went in there to represent the American citizen's concerns about Russian meddling in our election. Well, if the president believes that the American citizens have concerns about this, then how does it square that you can come out of it and say, but it's an untrackable problem and we're just going to leave that in the past and there are going to be no real consequences for that. I -- those two things, I think together, leave lingering questions that the administration still going to have to answer.

SCIUTTO: Consequences are key, are they not, Admiral Kirby, because Russia we know by all accounts, anyone who's dealt with him before will keep going until they pay a price.

KIRBY: Right. And so, I think -- as we talked about days ago, I think what's more important is not what happened in 2016, although that is. It's really more important what goes forward and did he make it clear that we weren't going to tolerate it in '18 and in '20. You know, so David is right. It really needs to be a forward-looking discussion and they need to know that there will be consequences.

SCIUTTO: And Secretary Rex Tillerson I should say said that they discussed future elections and that there should be an interference and we have to discuss a framework to avoid or prevent this kind of activity.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was much more of a forward-looking discussion, not just on the election meddling but, you know, look, for all of us, he wasn't being prepped, there is no agenda, this is just going to be a get-to-know-you meeting. It was one of the more substantive meetings that we've heard about, that we've seen the president and Mar-a-Lago and other at the White House and other places. They discussed substantial issues.

And I think for President Putin, it was very smart to, you know, let President Trump bring this issue up. I mean, although there are differing accounts, he allowed the president to come out looking like he had a bit of a win. They have this relationship. There were a number of deliverables that were coming out of this meeting today. And I think that they set our expectations so low going into this meeting, the White House and President Trump's aides, so that they can only surpass them at the end of the day when they read it out.

DEMIRJIAN: That's the important thing about expectations though which is that, you know, this may be a win for Trump coming out at his meeting, Trump versus Putin, they may both be satisfied. But are all the other lawmakers in D.C. going to be satisfied?

LABOTT: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

DEMIRJIAN: They want to see some sort of consequence for what happened to actually trust that there will be something different going forward.

LABOTT: And how is the relationship going to be going forward? We'll talk about all these deliverables from the meeting but are they actually going to be translated into, you know, policy cooperation.

SCIUTTO: Other topic we have to discuss is Syria because as you say, there was a lot of talk about he wasn't prep. Clearly, there was preparations in advance of this meeting. There was a deliverable, there is a -- there is a --

(CROSSTALK)

LABOTT: -- four hours before the meeting.

SCIUTTO: Right, right. So, you know, as always with these things nothing just (INAUDIBLE) walk into the room but still, a significant development, is it not, Karoun, for -- listen, a limited ceasefire but a ceasefire nonetheless inside Syria?

DEMIRJIAN: It's a significant development because we have Trump at the table now negotiating a ceasefire. This is a ceasefire that was part of a larger ceasefire plan that was being discussed by Russia, Iran, Turkey. We weren't participating in those discussions because of the Iran connection. But the question is, does it work? Because ceasefires in the past, we've announced them, they've kind of toddled along for a week or two and then they've fallen apart, it hasn't gotten anywhere. If this can actually stick, it's a sign that maybe Russia, Putin is willing to work with the Trump administration a little bit more.

But -- and even it does work, it's one piece of country, it's not piece of the country where the Islamic state has its stronghold and there is this question that once ISIS is pushed out as, you know, we are progressing toward that point of places like Raqqa, what comes next? Because Russia and the United States are on opposite sides of everybody else who's left and who wants to have control of --

SCIUTTO: Assad's faith for instance.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. Exactly. Listen. Stay with us. We have more time and I want to show you now live pictures coming from Hamburg, Germany because those protests we've been reporting on all day. And you can see it there heating up as we go into the late night hours, early morning hours on the ground there in Europe. We're going to continue to follow the story. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:39:14] SCIUTTO: We continue to monitor protests on the streets of Hamburg, Germany. These are live pictures there, anti-globalist demonstrators setting fires, police responding with water cannons. Number of injuries there, we're going to stay on that story. We're back now with our specialists. Of course, Trump and Putin aren't the only world leaders in the G20 summit. I want to play you an interaction of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin earlier today. We slowed that down so you could catch the eye roll as Putin seems to be holding court there. John Kirby, you've been in a lot of meetings with senior officials and world leaders. Interesting response from the German Chancellor?

KIRBY: Yes. And that says it all right there. I mean, look, Putin he tends to -- he wants to dominate and he wants to make it clear that he's the dominating force in there and I'm not surprised that Chancellor Merkel reacted the way she did.

(CROSSTALK)

LABOTT: She -- but she is also been, you know, straddling her own relationship with Putin and as the U.S. and Russia have had their tension over the last several years, I think she's tried to, you know, bridge the divide and Germany certainly has on one hand been on the forefront of sanctions but there have been many in the German government and the German parliament that don't want that and I mean, I think --

(CROSSTALK)

KIRBY: -- was also affected by the Russians.

LABOTT: Yes.

SCIUTTO: No question.

LABOTT: That's true. But I think --

SCIUTTO: But she was initially against sanctions early on, you know, there's a lot of U.S. pressure, a lot of German companies, they actually have economic price to pay from sanctions. We don't because we don't do a lot of business with Russia and she's come around.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. And more than any other world leader I think of this stature, Angela Merkel has extended a lot of personal capital trying to make the relationship with Putin work earlier on and giving up on that when Obama is so pressure and kind of moving away. They go back a long, long time. They're both --

LABOTT: I think that's a really important point because as you see all these leaders getting together in all the, you know, animosity that President Trump is facing. A lot of people right now are saying the free leader, the leader of the free world is no longer the U.S. president but Angela Merkel. And she is hosting this G20, and even President Putin in an article in a German newspaper, an op-ed the other day was talking about the success of the G20 and German leadership and Russia playing a role. So, you know, look, he -- you know, as President Putin is meeting with President Trump and trying to start off this working dialogue, he's also, you know, playing Angela Merkel and others.

SCIUTTO: David Chalian, before we say that all has changed course here, a couple hours before that Putin-Trump meeting, Donald Trump was tweeting and he was tweeting about John Podesta and he was tweeting about election meddling, et cetera. Quite a different point of view and Podesta with quite a push-back.

CHALIAN: YEs. He somehow wanted us to think that everyone in the G20 was talking about John Podesta and DNC e-mails being hacked. I can't imagine that anybody at the G20 understands John Podesta's relationship with these e-mails of the DNC and who's there. Those are two different things. John Podesta's e-mails were hacked and released, and the DNC, separately and this John Podesta decided to sort of get it and with President Trump today saying, bottom line, do your job, President Trump. That was John Podesta's point. I'm on a road trip with my wife. I don't -- I can't believe I'm dealing with this and by the way, I had nothing to do with the DNC. So, to me, it just showed once again, President Trump, no matter where he is, no matter what else is around him or happening around him, this storyline stays in his head more than anything else. It is consuming.

SCIUTTO: What is the -- on these issues though of Russia, what is the wheel Trump, what is the actual administration position on Russia? Is it the one who confronts Putin with the issue or the one who tweets about it this morning or yesterday undermines his intelligence community on Russia?

DEMIRJIAN: But that's just it, right? It might be both. It might be Trump having --

(CROSSTALK)

DEMIRJIAN: But it could be because he's a guy who's always been about his own P.R., about branding, about having a face, right? Which may not be the --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: U.S. policy has to be one or the other.

DEMIRJIAN: Sure. It does has to be one or the other but this is the person that we have in the White House right now and he does do different things in a board room versus in a -- in a public setting and this is his, you know, private --

(CROSSTALK)

LABOTT: But there is election meddling and there is the whole issue of Trump's legitimacy which is why this whole election meddling issue he refuses to recognize that Russia could be involved because that could have something to do with his own legitimacy. It may be different when it comes to Syria, when it comes to Ukraine, which yesterday he --

KIRBY: He and North Korea are not always on the same page, they had (INAUDIBLE) one thing. I think -- I never thought I would say this, but I actually agree with Dmitry Peskov who's the kremlin spokesman. Yesterday when he said, we don't know what side Americans are on in this issue. They're confused to it.

SCIUTTO: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Listen, Russia not the only issue, North Korea very much at the top of people's minds and a disagreement between Russia and the U.S. on that. Russia saying they want to freeze the North Korea's nuclear program, Tillerson insisting we want to freeze and a rollback. Elise, how did they -- how did the two sides square in that circle on the North Korea issue?

LABOTT: Well, I think contrary to Syria. And I mean, look, we can't take serious ceasefire as John was saying earlier to the bank.

[17:44:23] But on North Korea, this seems to be one of the more acute differences right now. The Russians refuse to call that missile launch that the U.S. commanders are calling a new missile launch, this ICBM. They refused to condemn it at the United Nations. They are not happy about the idea of new sanctions. They're going to fight the U.S. on this at the United Nations. So that could be another source of tensions that, you know, could even surpass what's going on with Syria right now because I think --

(CROSSTALK)

DEMIRJIAN: Unfortunately, probably in this situation, if you don't have buy-in from Russia and China on the freeze and rollback that Russia and China win out because we cannot put enough pressure on North Korea by ourselves. We don't have -- we don't have the economic leverage basically to do that. It's -- and we're not really (INAUDIBLE) military options as we've kind of made clear.

KIBRY: China in particular is the key. Russia is a little opportunistic here. I mean, yes, they share a border with North Korea, but let's be honest, they have not really been in the North Korea game for -- at all, in any serious way. This is a great chance to jump up on bank, right? And beat up on United States and --

CHALIAN: And speaking of China, did you all hear the word patience creep back (INAUDIBLE)

LABOTT: But not strategic, right?

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: Remember, the strategic patience period is over, that --

SCIUTTO: That less than two weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: -- pressure in campaign and he said which was just so stark to hear. If this fails, meaning, here we are again, once again trying to pressure China to do our bidding here and if that fails, there aren't any other good options left. That has been true for administration upon administration.

SCIUTTO: And that's becoming the reality that people are articulating now that you accept it, and if you're North Korea sadly. We're going to have to leave if there, David, Elise, John, Karoun. Thanks very much. And coming up, half a world away, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin differ about how to deal as we've been saying with the Kim regime. We're getting new details on the options actions from the Pentagon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:28] SCIUTTO: We are following multiple breaking stories now including continuing clashes between police and protesters at the G20 summit in Germany. You're watching the live pictures there, as well as President Trump's meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin where the two leaders disagreed how to handle North Korea. Also breaking, word of an upcoming test of a U.S. Missile Defense System now defending South Korea. Let's bring in CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, what are we learning tonight?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Jim. Well, this missile test had been long planned, long scheduled but it takes on significant new importance now with what is happening in North Korea. South Korea flexing its own military muscle, conducting a naval launch fire military drill to show the world and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un its own military might. For its part, North Korea is still celebrating the launch from the 4th of July.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANG CHANG HAGLUND: , NORTH KOREA NATIONAL DEFENSE SCIENCE ACADEMY (through translator): The great success of the intercontinental ballistic missile launch is a demonstration of our mighty power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: U.S. Intelligence is urgently assessing what it knows about the North Korean ICBM test and how soon it will be able to strike U.S. soil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're still analyzing the latest test at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: A key question, did the missile reenter the earth's atmosphere intact? That would be a necessary step for a North Korean ICBM to hit a target. Then there is the issue of placing a nuclear warhead on top of the missile.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MCCAUL, HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: They're trying to miniaturize this warhead to put it on top of this ICBM delivery system. So, I think it's a very serious threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: A threat that for now the U.S. is confronting peacefully.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTIS: This is a diplomatically led international effort to stop a worldwide threat that they are bringing to bear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: But what does that look like? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the Trump administration's goal is to roll back North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECREATARY OF STATE: Stopping where they are today is not acceptable to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: And the key diplomatic question tonight, would it help to sit down and talk to Kim Jong-un directly? A question to which nobody knows the answer. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much. Tonight on CNN, be sure to watch the my and my producer (INAUDIBLE) Special Report, The Russian Connection Inside The Attack On Democracy. That's tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time only here on CNN.

And coming up, breaking news as protests rage at the G20 summit, President Trump and Russia's President Putin sit down for their first meeting and end up talking four times longer than plan. At the heart of the discussion, Russia's interference in the U.S. election. The two sides do not agree on what actually was said.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:59:20] SCIUTTO: Happening now, breaking news. Streets of fire. Violent protests rage for a second day around the G20 summit with flames and smoke billowing on the streets of Hamburg. New details tonight on injuries and arrests.

President Putin, President Trump begins this much anticipated meeting with Vladimir Putin by raising Moscow's election interference with the Russian president. Plus Mr. Trump holding Putin accountable or giving him a pass? Russian official say Putin flatly denied cyber meddling in the presidential campaign and then Mr. Trump accepted Putin's word. Why are there two very different versions of the same conversation?

And Syria agreement, Presidents Trump and Putin managed to reach common ground on the war in Syria. Striking an important agreement on a ceasefire that could take an effect within days. Can it stand the unrelenting bloodshed in Syria's brutal Civil War?

END