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President Trump Does Not Hold Press Conference at End of G-20; German Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Putin Speak to Press after G-20; Protestors Gather at G-20; President Trump Meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping; Iraqi Forces Set to Take Remaining Areas of Mosul Held by ISIS; Interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Aired 10- 11a ET
Aired July 8, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is breaking with a precedent that American presidents have shown in the last several years. President Obama would typically hold an end of G- 20 summit news conference. He is not doing that. I don't know if you can see this over my shoulder right now, there's a big monitor behind me that shows the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, giving a news conference to the world press as we speak. We expect to have one from Vladimir Putin, as a matter of fact. He's expected to also hold a news conference as well as the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
So President Trump, not really in keeping with the company here, his colleagues here at the G-20. From what we understand Vladimir Putin is holding his own news conference as we speak. And so, guys, as all these questions are swirling around President Trump in terms of what was said behind closed doors in that meeting with Vladimir Putin, the president's decision not to hold a news conference at the end of this summit and Vladimir Putin holding this news conference right now is essentially giving the Russians the opportunity to sort of put their spin out there in terms of what went on in this meeting.
We do believe that perhaps there might be a gaggle of some sort with reporters on Air Force One as reporters are traveling with the president back to Washington. But I just want to make sure we emphasize to our viewers that this is unusual for president of the United States to go to a G-20 summit like this and not have the president himself or at least top officials brief reporters on what happened overall at the summit.
One other final quick thing, the G-20 summit as its wrapping up here has put out one of these joint statements, communiques, whatever folks call them, as they're leaving the summit here. It does take note, this collective statement on the part of the G-20, does take note of the fact that the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris climate accord. And so that was also a big subject of conversation here between these world leaders.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Jim Acosta there for us at the G-20, as you said over your shoulder there is that monitor that shows Angela Merkel speaking. We want to go to Nic Robertson as well. Nic, what are we hearing from Angela Merkel as we wrap up the G-20 here? We know that this was set initially as interconnectivity being part of the theme, and the headline of potentially the isolation of the U.S. in the multilateral deals that have been struck. What are we hearing from Angela Merkel?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Angela Merkel is the host here, and she does the sort of final big wrap-up. And to Jim's point about President Trump not speaking, President Putin able to define his message, to a degree Angela Merkel is really able to put a cap on everything that was agreed and disagreed here.
The very important and big-ticket items here, trade, there was a huge concern going into this. A difference over the U.S. position and the other G-20 members' positions on trade, there was a real fear of sort of protectionism, America first, and President Trump has said yes, free trade is OK, but it must be fair trade. Angela Merkel, the big- ticket item there on trade said there's an agreement that keeps markets open, fights protectionism, so that's very much, if you will, taking a position that's against a position where President Trump has really been.
There's some language in there that will make President Trump feel a little better. It says that they agree to fight unfair trade. Again, President Trump has said free trade, yes, but it must be fair trade. But this is a win for the other members of the G-20. This is one, if you will, that President Trump will have to take on the chin.
Excess steel in the global market, now that's something that Angela Merkel was talking about. That was a concern of President Trump, is a concern of President Trump. That was a big fear that he might put tariffs or quotas of steel. There was talk from the European members here, from Angela Merkel and her team that that could spark a trade war. That seems to be headed off. The way that it's headed off is there does seem to be an agreement to form an international body to look at the -- at steel production and sales across the world to present a paper by November later this year.
So there is something in that for President Trump, absolutely, that he will get an accounting of where the world thinks things are on steel. But on climate change, Angela Merkel gets her way. She wanted to be able to say in the communique, she said at the very beginning, that it is important that we can say that we differ on certain issues. And she said, on climate change, she said it was deplorable, deplorable that the United States under President Trump is backing out or appears to be backing out of the Paris climate agreement. She said all other 19 members here agree to, agree to enforce that.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Nic Robertson, we appreciate it. Want to get back to Jim Acosta now because we were just talking to Jim about the fact that President Trump was not going to speak to the media. But Jim, you did hear from him, is that correct?
[10:05:04] ACOSTA: That's right. In one of these bilateral sprays, as they're called, where the press is allowed in momentarily to capture a few moments between these two leaders, not sure exactly whether this was in response to a question or whether he just volunteered comments. But President Trump in that meeting with President Xi when the press
was in the room on North Korea said something has to be done about it. President Trump said that eventually there will be a success when dealing with Pyongyang, the regime there in North Korea. And then a quote here, "Maybe longer than I like," talking about how long this is going to take, "More than you like. There will be a success one way or the other." So the president there talking in general terms how he would like to see some kind of progress when it comes to dealing with North Korea. Not the sort of saber-rattling statements we heard from the president, at least in that initial readout that we're getting just at this moment. There may be more on this. I want to caution our viewers. But it does appear he is saying in this brief moment with President Xi where the cameras were in the room, something has to be done about North Korea.
Of course people around the world feel the exact same way. The question obviously is what exactly can be done about North Korea. And a lot of critics of what's been going on over the last several months in terms of the U.S. dealings with North Korea, China's dealings with North Korea, is that there just aren't a whole lot of great options in terms of dealing with the regime in Pyongyang and trying to curb its nuclear program.
But the president saying with President Xi that something has to be done about it. Again, not sure yet whether that was in response to a number of questions or this was just something he volunteered at that moment. But again, as we were saying earlier, he's not going to be giving us a chance to be asking him questions. He's leaving Hamburg shortly to head back to Washington, guys.
BLACKWELL: All right, Jim Acosta, Nic Robertson as well, thank you both.
PAUL: Do stay with us. We're continuing to watch what happens at the G-20 summit as they wrap things up there today. Also looking at some of the crowds that have been there today, so far, peaceful. But that was not the case overnight.
BLACKWELL: They were gathering all day outside of the G-20 summit, the final day of the summit. German police we know are prepared and have already called in reinforcements from across the country. More than 100 demonstrators have best arrested. We know that more than 200 officers have been injured. Let's go to CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen I see there. Tell us, what are we seeing as it's compared to what we saw last night.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys, this is one of the biggest demonstrations we've seen so far, since the G-20 started. The organizers say that it's well over 20,000 people who are marching at this point in time. It seems to us like it might actually be even more than that. We sort of marched along this demo. This is one of the anti-G-20 demos. Its motto is G- 20, not welcome. Obviously they want to tell the world leaders who are gathering here that they're not OK with some of the things that have been decided and generally with some of the policies of some of the leaders and heads of state that have been here. This march is completely peaceful. It's more like a festive gathering
than anything else, really trying to bring across a political message, and certainly one that is being heard here. But you're absolutely right, what happened last night, I've been covering demonstrations in this country for a very long time and it's been a long time since I've seen anything like what happened here last night with a lot of firecrackers being sent off, a lot of violence that was going on there in the streets as well. And the German police really had a lot of problems coming to terms with the situation on the ground there, had to call in reinforcements, as you mentioned. So that was something where even the folks who are organizing some of these demonstrations against the G-20 said that's not something that they want to see, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: So Fred, we hear that New York mayor Bill de Blasio was there, that he was speaking at some of these protests. Can you tell us how he was received there?
PLEITGEN: He was received very well. He also declared his solidarity with the city of Hamburg. It was a different demonstration than this one even though it went parallel to this one. It was borderless solidarity. It was basically cities showing solidarity with one another. So you had Mayor Bill de Blasio there showing solidarity with the people of Hamburg, really a more sort of local gathering, had about as many people marching with it as right here. So he was very, very well received. And I think he made a point of showing the solidarity between New Yorkers and the folks here in Hamburg because they have had a very, very tough time here with the summit. Of course the disruptions that have been happening to daily life here as well as this G-20 is now wrapping up guys.
PAUL: Fred Pleitgen, we so appreciate it, thank you.
It's been a full day on President Trump's agenda already as he navigates policy among the world leaders here. I want to talk to you about what you may have missed thus far this morning.
[10:10:01] BLACKWELL: Yes, most of the leaders at the G-20 summit appear to be at an impasse over trade and climate change. Just moments ago we heard from German chancellor Angela Merkel. She spoke about how crucial the Paris climate deal is. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The one crucial issue was climate and energy. And what came out of this meeting was what I had already said at the beginning of this meeting, wherever there is no consensus that can be achieved, disagreement has to be made clear. You are familiar with the American position, you know that, unfortunately, and I deplore this, the United States of America left the climate agreement, or rather said, announced their intention of doing this. So it becomes clear in this declaration is the dissenting view of the United States. But I am very gratified to note that the other 19 member states of the G-20 say that the Paris agreement is irreversible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, President Trump appears to be hopeful about a new potential trade deal with the U.K., sitting there with the British prime minister, announced a new agreement, he said it could come very, very quickly. But as the president tries to focus on trade, he cannot escape those questions about Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Watch this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister May and I have developed a very special relationship, and I think trade will be a very big factor between our two countries. So I want to thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And I want to show you this tweet, President Trump's daughter Ivanka briefly took a role at the G-20 summit as the president stepped away. Svetlana Lukash, who identifies herself on Twitter as a G-20 Russian Sherpa, which is a title given to people who help international delegations at large summits, she took this picture and said Ivanka sat next to several world leaders in that G-20 working session. A senior Trump administration official is dismissing any suggestion that this was improper.
BLACKWELL: President Trump weighed in on his daughter's success, making a bit of a joke here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm very proud of my daughter, Ivanka, always have been, from day one. I have to tell you that, from day one. She's always been great.
TRUMP: She's a champion. If she weren't my daughter, it would be so much easier for her. It might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And we are getting word that President Putin has spoken as well. Let's take a listen to what he had to say just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, (through translator): We put this question on the agenda, we discussed it. And it wasn't just one question. There was a lot of questions, and we debated a lot of time. Our position is well known and we kept to it. I think there is absolutely no grounds for suggesting that Russia was involved in the U.S. elections. But what's important is that we came to an agreement that the
situation of uncertainty, particularly towards the future, must be absent. We cannot have this uncertainty. And incidentally, I said this at the last meeting. We have a common Internet cyberspace. And we agreed with the U.S. president that we would set up an expert working group and work on how we can collectively together safeguard this cyberspace. And we have to have guidelines, world global guidelines for this in how we can prevent other states actually intervening. And that was an agreement obviously just between the U.S. and Russia.
But we hope very much if we manage to put that scheme in place, then there will be far less speculation, so as far as personal relations are concerned, then I think that they are certainly established. I don't know how this is going to sound, but this is how I look at it. Trump on TV is very, very different from the Trump in person that I saw, absolute big difference. He is very good interlocutor. He understands things very quickly. He responds to the questions which arise in discussion, new elements and so on and so forth. So it seems to me that we will be able to build future relations on the kind of meeting that we had yesterday. And we will be able to actually get to the level that we need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:15:12] BLACKWELL: So you have there Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking about his meeting with President Trump, expressing some optimism after this meeting that happened yesterday lasted for more than two hours. First you heard from the Russian president talking about this upcoming bilateral working group on many things, including cyber-security. Now of course that comes in the context of the discrepancy between the descriptions from the Russian foreign minister, Lavrov, and from Secretary Tillerson about the acceptance of the Russian denial of interference in the election.
PAUL: So we're going to take a quick break here. We'll be back in just one moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:20:08] PUTIN: This question on the agenda, we discussed it. And it wasn't just one question. There were a lot of questions, and we debated a lot of time, and our position is well known and we kept to it. I think there's absolutely no grounds for suggesting that Russia was involved in the U.S. elections.
But what's important is that we came to an agreement that the situation of uncertainty, particularly towards the future, must be absent. We cannot have this uncertainty. And incidentally, I said this at the last meeting. We have a common Internet cyberspace. And we agreed with the U.S. president that we would set up an expert working group and work on how we can collectively together safeguard this cyberspace. And we have to have guidelines, world global guidelines for this in how we can prevent other states actually intervening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So there's President Putin taking questions, well, not taking questions, but certainly addressing the media there at the G-20 just a couple of moments ago. Ivan Watson, senior international correspondent, is in Moscow right now. Ivan, talk to us about what you heard from President Putin just a couple of moments ago.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's still speaking, I might add, but he did say, he talked about this historic face-to-face, two hour and 18 minute meeting that he had yesterday with the U.S. president Donald Trump. And one of his conclusions was that the Trump you see on TV is not the Trump that you meet in person. He said this is an effective interlocutor who answers questions and responds logically.
He was asked specifically, Vladimir Putin was, whether or not he felt that President Trump had accepted Vladimir Putin's denials of Russian involvement and hacking of the November, 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he said that he believed that President Trump did accept this. But you have to ask him yourself.
Why is that coming up? That's because in the moments after the meeting in Hamburg, Russia's foreign minister came out and paraphrased President Trump in a press conference and said, quote, President Trump mentioned that certain groups in the U.S., even though they can't prove it, are still trying to fan the topic of Russian interference in the elections. And he went on to say that President Trump accepted Vladimir Putin's denial of any meddling in the U.S. election.
Shortly after that, a senior Trump administration official told CNN that's not true. President Trump did not accept the denial. So that's where this controversy is stemming from, of course from the much bigger controversy that the U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia did in fact meddle in the 2016 presidential election. Christi?
PAUL: Ivan Watson, thank you so much. We appreciate it. That was a very interesting take that really stood out when he said that President Trump that we see on television is not the same President Trump that he sees behind closed doors in a face-to-face meeting.
BLACKWELL: There's also the headline as Ivan just told us, that you'll have to ask him yourself, talking about the president. We now know that the president will not hold a news conference at the end of the G-20, something that his predecessors did after their attendance.
We know right now the big meeting today is the meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. It is happening right now. You see on the left of your screen, President Trump and the U.S. delegation sitting across from President Xi and the Chinese delegation, North Korea at the top of the list. Also trade on the list, the islands in the South China Sea, all of it up for discussion. We're following this breaking news. We'll talk more after the break.
[10:28:35] PAUL: Twenty-Eight minutes past the hours. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
PAUL: President Trump sitting down right now for another high-stakes bilateral meeting at the G-20.
BLACKWELL: This time with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Topping the list of issues, North Korea.
Let's talk about it with Eugene Scott, CNN politics reporter, and Rebecca Berg, CNN political analyst and national political reporter at Real Clear Politics. Thank you both for being with us. We're just getting a note here, as I said, President Trump is in a meeting right now with Chinese President Xi. And he, apparently, President Trump just said to President Xi, I appreciate the things you've done relative to the very substantial problem we all face in North Korea. They are at an impasse here going into this meeting as we understand it. Eugene, what do you make of that line that the president just gave to President Xi, perhaps offering an olive branch, perhaps saying, look, we appreciate what you've done, but we need you to do more?
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think as we move forward, some are saying that the Trump administration has to figure out how it feels about China. I mean, within a given week you can hear the president make statements that seem very frustrated with the government in China and how they're handling North Korea, and then just minutes ago saying something more positive and praiseworthy.
[10:30:00] And the people in the administration are wondering why perhaps they could be having such a reaction from China that doesn't seem to be consistently on the same page as they would like, perhaps they can look back actually at the 2016 campaign when President Donald Trump repeatedly cast China as an enemy. And I would imagine that some of the challenges they have now stem from that relationship earlier on.
PAUL: A lot of people say things, we know, as a candidate that are very different than what they say once they get into the White House, however, and they learn more about some of the information that they're talking about that they didn't know prior.
But this is interesting, Rebecca. We know that, as Eugene pointed out, the president seems to have been giving conflicting issues a bit on China. But Secretary of State Tillerson said earlier, no, we have not given up hope when it comes to working with China. He said I call it the peaceful pressure campaign. This is a campaign to lead us to peaceful resolution, because if this fails, we don't have very many good options left. That right there indicates how critical this meeting is with President Xi right now. So this peaceful pressure campaign, is that what is surrounding the statement that we just heard from President Trump? REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I think what
Secretary Tillerson expressed is a very pragmatic, very sort of realistic view of the U.S. relationship with China and our objectives in our relationship with China.
Look, I think President Trump understands how valuable China could be as a potential partner in spite of some of our differences policy- wise. And that was reflected in the fact that he invited the Chinese president to Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, worked very hard in that setting to try to forge a positive working relationship with China when it comes to things like trade, when it comes to things like working with them against North Korea.
Clearly the president felt after that meeting and the weeks following that meeting that China didn't really follow through or deliver on some of what they accomplished in that meeting. And I think that was reflected in some of his more frustrated tweets about China and about the Chinese president. So this could be viewed as a sort of reset with China, and one that is very much needed, because as much as the U.S. and China have been at odds on a number of things, there is, I think, a recognition on both sides that the North Korea conflict can't be solved by just the U.S. alone or just China alone. And so they're going to be very important partner in this.
PAUL: We know that China does not want a regime change in North Korea, Eugene. But the president has said if we have to, we'll go it alone. What does "going it alone" mean? And do you think he's had a change of heart when it comes to that perspective?
SCOTT: I'm not quite sure that the president understands the severity of the situation regarding North Korea and what going alone could actually entail. The reality of getting what it is that American conservatives and people supportive of Donald Trump's view on North Korea would take, would require some level of collaboration and cooperation with China. And going it alone is actually not exactly like literal. The reality is that there will be people who will partner with the United States in whatever approach perhaps the president takes. But I think they would be wise to figure out how to get China involved in that method as well.
PAUL: Rebecca, real quickly, we're looking at these pictures of the meeting there. We see Rex Tillerson, we see Jared Kushner at the table there with the president. And the president, as we said, said while I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried. That was earlier in the last week or so, but of course now we hear this other statement from him telling him that he -- telling us that President Trump said to Xi he appreciates the things relative to the very substantial problem that they face in North Korea and what China has already done. Where do, where do they go from here knowing that they had a great meeting in April back in Mar-a-Lago? How do they keep, if they can come back out of this meeting with that kind of unity or that kind of perspective that is some sort of commonality, how do they keep that going, because once they separated after April, things did seem to fall apart? BERG: It's very difficult because China has a set of incentives that
are very different and objectives that are very different than United States. They do have trade with North Korea in some cases that's very important to their economy, to their growth as a country, and that's something that for the United States, of course, we would reject and have been warning China against continuing to pursue.
[10:35:01] So it's unclear where this goes from here. Clearly for the United States, it would be better, especially looking at North Korea, if we and the administration could be working productively with China, if they could be taking some of our advice on that issue and following some of our guidance.
But the president is clearly hedging his bets here. He had a meeting earlier this week at the G-20 with the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president, sending a very clear message to China, that if they're not going to work with us on this issue, that we are going to try to find other partners.
PAUL: Rebecca Berg, Eugene Scott, your input is always appreciated. Thank you.
BERG: Thank you.
SCOTT: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: The battle for the final blocs of Mosul, U.S.-backed forces approaching the final ISIS fighters left in the city and preparing to retake the town from ISIS control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're designing a quad-copter, is that the right?
STEVE BURNS, CEO WORKHORSE: Octo-copter, that a farmer or emergency responder or even a commuter might use. People have been dreaming how to lift out of their yard or out of traffic and going above traffic and going to their destination, they've been dreaming about it for 100 years, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your pitch to people saying that this is not this is not an imaginary project.
BURNS: If you squint just right this looks like a drone. Everybody realizes drones are pretty well advanced these days. If we were doing this ten years ago and nobody had ever seen a drone fly it would probably be more difficult. If you can fly a drone, you can fly this. There's a button that says up and down, and there's a joy stick that says go forward or steer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this going to be flown on its own? Or is it, someone going to be at the controls?
BURNS: So the first version going to be piloted. We're building it to be autonomous, but we're working with the FAA to get it certified. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So to actually get this thing up in the air,
obviously you're going to have a gas bill, an electric bill. What about insurance bill? How are the insurance companies going to look at this?
BURNS: For the FAA to let us fly it, we're probably going to have to prove it's safer than driving a car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how do you prove that? What are your flights testing going to look like?
BURNS: There's durability tests, and they have their ways of figuring it out. You shake it, rattle it, roll it, you get a good drill for it. The design is that when we put our 16-year-old in this and fly him. It has a gasoline generator. If that should fail you have five hours of lithium batteries, gets you five minutes to get down. And even if all that fails we have a parachute right in the middle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How soon do you think you're going to put your kids in this?
BURNS: Good question. As soon as the FAA says go.
[10:42:00] BLACKWELL: As President Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he met a different Donald Trump than the one that you've been on TV. Let's talk about it. We have with us Representative Marsha Blackburn, former vice chair of the Trump transition team. Representative, good to see you this morning.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: You too, thank you.
BLACKWELL: So let's start with this meeting with China. I wonder from your perspective, the U.S. has said, or at least the president has said that the U.S. is holding off on declaring China a currency manipulator, saying that why would you do that if you have China working with you on North Korea, that they could possibly get a better trade deal if they could solve what the president calls the North Korean problem. If the president doesn't see the progress that he wants out of North Korea, no more missile tests or nuclear tests, what type of pressure should the U.S. put on China?
BLACKBURN: Well, the U.S. is going to have the opportunity to continue to work with China. Pressure can be brought about through looking at the trade deals, looking at what China is seeking to accomplish. China wants to be a market economy. They want to be considered to be a big player. Should they be helping us with North Korea? Of course we think so. And I will tell you this, if you look at the ASEAN nations as a whole, there are many that think that China should be doing more to help with getting the situation in North Korea under control. BLACKWELL: But if they do not what should be the degree of pressure
that the U.S. places on China? Should there be tariffs? Should there be a currency manipulation declaration?
BLACKBURN: This is something that we need to take as a step-by-step process. Let's look at where the president and the secretary of state can get in these negotiations. Let's look at what the other countries in the region are going to bring to bear. And then let's begin to make those decisions, but let's give them the opportunity to come to the table. These meetings are taking place. Let's see what kind of fruit they're going to bear and what type relationship China wants to have with the United States.
I do think it's important to realize that as you work, with the Chinese government, and as you're working with the representatives of that government, the MPC, et cetera, that they are very relational and they want to be thought well of. Now, we come from different places as far as what our expectations are.
BLACKWELL: I understand.
BLACKBURN: So I think let's see if they get with this, and I am very hopeful that with the positive start that they've had that we're going to see something come forward that will be a deliverable.
BLACKWELL: I need to move on to Russia. We just heard from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who says that in his exchange with President Trump, he believes that the president accepted Russia's denial of meddling in the 2016 election.
[10:45:04] We heard from Secretary Tillerson that during the meeting the president pressed Russia several times on interference. However, the last thing that the American people heard from the president about Russian meddling was this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. So it was Russia, and I think it was probably others also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: The president saying it was Russia, it could have been other countries as well. Why is it that the president as firm in public as secretary Tillerson said he was in private face-to-face? Don't the American people need to hear that?
BLACKBURN: The American people are going to hear more about this, and they're going to hear it not only from Congress but from the special council and from the administration. Here is the deal. Russia has always been a bad actor. Russia does not wish us well. Russia has always tried to meddle in our affairs, so people ought not to be surprised that they utilize technology -- BLACKWELL: But the president is not saying that outside of that room. If he indeed pressed Vladimir Putin several times, why couldn't he say that one day earlier when he was in Warsaw?
BLACKBURN: Let's allow these negotiations and these visits to take place. I do think one of the things that concerns many individuals, including myself, is the relationship that Russia has with Iran, with North Korea, with China, looking at the utilization of some of the technologies. And I hope that as we go through this process that doing a deep dive, if you will, on Russian interactions, that we will look at that utilization of technology and how, how they are interfacing with some of the other countries that do not wish us well.
BLACKWELL: They will certainly have the opportunity, as we know, that there's this potential working group between the U.S. and Russia on many things, including cyber-security. Representative Marsha Blackburn, thanks so much for being with us.
BLACKBURN: Good to be with you, thank you.
PAUL: And still to come, the battle for Mosul. It may be ending as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces close in on the remaining ISIS-controlled areas. We get an exclusive look. Stay close.
[10:51:41] PAUL: Right now U.S. backed forces are fighting for the least remaining parts of the ISIS capital.
BLACKWELL: An Iraqi general says his troops are driving out the remaining ISIS fighters from Mosul. And you see the video here from this morning showing clouds of black smoke rising over the city. Here's CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've been hearing this for weeks now, but it does appear according to statements from the Iraqi army that they feel increasingly confident they're getting to the very final stage of the final stage of kicking ISIS out of the old city of Mosul, the last population center of size they really control in Iraq.
Now it's been torturous going for Iraqi special forces moving through that dense, warren of alleyways that is the old city of Mosul, much of it reduced to rubble, that progress slowed by ISIS booby-traps, snipers, numberless human shields being used there, civilians trapped in the midst of ISIS.
We now understand from people on the ground there possibly is about 150 to 200 meters left between those Iraqi special forces and the river that runs through Mosul that marks the back end of ISIS territory. So it is literally days, as we've heard before, but it does appear to be days now until the task is complete. A lot of political impatience in Baghdad for this to be over. We've
heard repeated speeches from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the end is near. But it may well be soon that actually that is the truth that in fact Mosul is pacified to some degree. Remember, there will always be a lower-level insurgency of ISIS survivors enduring on.
But it marks one more milestone for the slow demise of ISIS in the Middle East. I'm standing here in Syria, where we've just been to Raqqah, to the old city there, into which a combination of Syrian, Kurdish, and Arab fighters, but a lot of American ground and air support have pushed past the over 1,000-year-old city walls into territory which, frankly, nobody thought they would be in quite so fast. The fight ahead is dense and urban, could take longer. But also, too, it comes at a time of changing geopolitical dynamics.
We have just heard from the last meeting, first meeting between Donald Trump and his counterpart in Russia, Vladimir Putin, for the first time the White House and the Kremlin appear to meet and have much in common. They agree on a de-escalation deal in southwestern Syria, hardly the biggest flashpoint in that war-torn, beleaguered country, but one where Syrian regime forces and Syrian rebels backed by the U.S. have come occasionally into clashes. We don't know the details. It may calm things down. But more importantly it has the White House and the Kremlin singing off the same script for the first time in a while.
Remember the Obama administration wanted Bashar al Assad, the Syrian president, gone. Russia is his key backer. We don't know what it means going forward, but times are changing fast. ISIS is in its final stages, and we're looking at a different geopolitical dynamic that may reshape these war-torn countries.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, northern Syria.
PAUL: So this week we're hearing stories of CNN Heroes and the people who brought them to us.
BLACKWELL: Meet 2013 CNN Hero Tawanda Jones and the young woman who nominated her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was attending Washington State University. I told one of my professors about the drill team and what it meant to me. She told me like, I think you should nominate her for CNN Heroes.
TAWANDA JONES, CNN HERO: To know that someone in the program nominated me for a CNN Hero, it means so much more, because they were a part of the struggle, they were a part of the those humble beginnings, so that was a tremendous honor and I wore it with a badge of honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Good for both of them. If you know someone in your community who should be a CNN Hero, we'd love to meet them. Nominate them today at CNNheroes.com.
And thank you so much for spending your morning with us. We hope you make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: There is much more ahead in the next hour of CNN newsroom. We turn things over to our colleague, Fredricka Whitfield. Busy morning, Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A busy morning and we're going to have a busy afternoon. Thanks so much. Good to see you, enjoy, see you tomorrow morning, bright and early.
It is 11:00 on the east coast right now. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The Newsroom starts right now.