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Trump Doesn't Refute Putin's Hacking Denial; President: I "Strongly" Pressed Putin Twice On Meddling; Pres.: Putin And I Discussed Forming Cybersecurity Unit; Ceasefire Brokered By U.S. And Russia Begins In Syria; Iraqi P.M. Claims "Great Victory" In Mosul; McCain On Health Care Bill: It's Probably Dead; McConnell: Will Work With Dems If GOP Can't Agree; Criticism Swirls Over Ivanka's Place At G20 Table; Melania, Putin Sit Together During G20 Dinner. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 9, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:05] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So while his administration is out front today trying to clarify the meeting between Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and President Trump, Trump himself has not made it clear what he believes.

This morning on Twitter, President Trump commented, for the first time, about his meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit. Trump tweeting, it is time to move forward, quote and quote, with Russia, and some in the Republican Party are outraged.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To forgive and forget, when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks, is to empower Putin. That's exactly what he's doing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There has been no penalty whatsoever. Time to move forward. Yes, it's time to move forward, but there has to be a price to pay.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Why? Why does there have to be a price?

MCCAIN: Otherwise, he will be encouraged to do so again, obviously.


WHITFIELD: Adding to the confusion and bewilderment on both sides of the aisle, Trump's proposal to actually work with Russia on forming a cyber security unit.


ASH CARTER, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: We'll talk more about all of these and what the President has been saying on the heels of his meeting with President Putin. I want to bring in CNN's White House correspondent, Athena Jones. Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. These are remarkable and confusing tweets, as you said. Here are a couple of the tweets, let's put them back on the screen, from this morning from the President. He said, "I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion." He also tweeted, "Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded."

Both of those tweets are rather curious. For one, the President said, I've already given my opinion about Russian meddling. He has not been at all definitive about this issue of Russian meddling in the election despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

He said, as recently as just Thursday, this past Thursday, in Poland, he said, I think it was Russia. It could've been other people and other countries. It could very well have been Russia, but it could have been other countries. That is not at all the kind of definitive statement that a lot of people want to hear from the President.

His chief of staff, Reince Priebus, you just heard him say that the President absolutely did not accept Putin's denial that Russian meddling was involved. But the President himself has yet to be very definitive about it. That second tweet talking about working with Russia to set up a cyber security unit has also confused a lot of folks on both sides of the aisle, because if the President does believe that Russia had any involvement in meddling in the U.S. election, then why would it make sense to work with them on cyber security? It doesn't make sense. That's the bottom line.

And Fred, we should point out the President didn't have a press conference before leaving the G20. He's chosen to take to Twitter, his preferred means of communication. But Twitter is a broadcast. It's not a back and forth and so we still didn't have a chance to really question the President directly to get real answers to these questions. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And Athena, there's been a lot of reaction on the Sunday talk shows from a number of people in the political hemisphere about Trump's tweets.

JONES: Yes, among them, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, who spoke with our own Dana Bash on State of the Union. Listen to what he had to say.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: How can we really believe that the President pressed Putin hard when only the day before he was denying whether we really knew that Russia was responsible? What kind of a tough negotiator, and this is the way the President likes to portray himself, goes into a negotiation betraying his own position the day before, calling into question the probity of his own intelligence agencies? That just doesn't make any sense.

And then to say, OK. It's been resolved. Now we can move on. I don't think we can move on. I don't think we can expect the Russians to be any kind of a credible partner in some cyber security unit. I think that would be dangerously naive for this country.

If that's our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow. I don't think that's an answer at all.


JONES: So there you heard Schiff questioning the President's reasoning here and he, of course, is not alone. We've seen Republicans do the same, Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Athena Jones at the White House. Thanks so much.

So, this morning on CNN State of the Union, Dana Bash spoke to the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, who issued this warning about the President's proposed cyber security unit with Russia.


CARTER: The Russians pulled out the old play book. I've seen all this going back to Russian and Soviet days. When confronted with something they've done wrong, ask for U.S. intelligence, old trick. Propose a working group, in this case, on cyber. But this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary. It's they who did this.


WHITFIELD: Let's talk more about all of this with CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg, Jay Newton-Small, she is a contributor at TIME Magazine, and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem.

[15:05:08] All right, good to see all of you ladies. So Juliette, you first, this notion of this cyber security unit with Russia. Nikki Haley says, you want to keep your enemies close, is that what this is?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. It's so confusing and I would say, you know, so disruptive to what we actually need to do to confront Russia that I don't know if Trump just sort of threw it out there or if this is serious. We'll see if something actually comes of it.

Sometimes when I heard sort of all of the different tweets, all the different explanations on the TV shows this morning, I sort of was left thinking, you know, either Trump got completely played by Putin or Trump is sort of playing 2018, 2020. I mean, there's no good reason to set up a working group with Russia on cyber security when, not only, are they responsible for disruptions in 2016. It is very likely that they are continuing with our infrastructure. There are a lot of people in the Intelligence Community now discussing these attacks on nuclear facilities. This is serious stuff, and Trump needs to take it as seriously as his Intelligence Community is taking it.

WHITFEILD: So this cyber security may be tantamount to being a reward whereas you hear from some lawmakers who say, there needs to be some penalty still imposed on Russia. Listen to Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain this morning.


GRAHAM: Tillerson and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyber attacks on the American election of 2016. Nobody is saying, Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome. You won fair and square. But they did try to attack our election system. They were successful in many ways.

And the more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia. And to forgive and forget, when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks, is to empower Putin. And that's exactly what he's doing.

MCCAIN: There has been no penalty whatsoever. Time to move forward. Yes, it's time to move forward, but there has to be a price to pay.

DICKERSON: Why? Why does there have to be a price?

MCCAIN: Otherwise, he will be encouraged to do so again, obviously.


WHITFIELD: And so, Jay, what about the price to pay? I mean, is the door closed on this or is the White House still going to consider something? Because you listen to the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin this morning and he says, well, you know, there are already sanctions on the table. But he didn't imply that there would be anything more that is in step with a penalty on Russia for interfering with U.S. elections.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, Fred, certainly, Donald Trump's tweets this morning would seem to indicate that there is going to be no more. That this is now case closed, that they've discussed it.

He's made his opinions on the matter known, as he said in his tweets this morning, and that this is the only thing that they're going to do moving forward. It's sort of just do this joint working group on cyber, which is really out of step with basically, not only Democrats on the Hill, but the vast majority of the Republican Party, as you heard Lindsey Graham and John McCain there. But, you know, majorities of both the House and Senate have voted on this. Or it's been before they sit the House and Senate, and they have agreed that there should be some sort of penalty here. It's really just the White House that is not saying there should be penalties. And that's -- it just leaves the door open to all of these questions with Russia that just keep trickling on. When Trump saw it, he was -- you know, Trump had this meeting with Putin and then all of a sudden, you know, on the way back from the meeting, the New York Times is writing about a story about another meeting that they had, his campaign staff, with the Russians. And so this is just a drip, drip, drip that keeps coming in and it -- and there doesn't seem to be an end to it.

WHITFIELD: And so Rebecca, does this end up sending, you know, a message of, you know, Trump is soft on Russia but tough on America? I mean, he's casted doubt on American intelligence, and some would say this is a new example of a very strange message he's sending to what has been a longtime adversary of the United States.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, I mean that is the message he has been sending for as long as he's been President. And his tweets this morning, his talks with Putin at the G20, only confirm a longstanding trend with Donald Trump.

And this is what is so frustrating and so worrisome for Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress. And that is why Congress has been taking its own steps to strengthen sanctions against Russia, to try to investigate Russia's intrusions into the 2016 election, and prescribe moves that the U.S. can take to prevent this from happening again because there truly has not been any leadership from the White House on this issue.

And, really, it begs the question, I look forward to the next time Donald Trump accepts questions from the press in a press conference sort of setting, because that really does beg the question, why this is not a top issue for the White House because it really isn't only about elections, either. We've seen recently that Russia was suspected of intruding into nuclear facilities networks.

[15:10:02] And so this is something that touches all areas of American life, infrastructure, our electrical grid as well as elections. And so, it really is interesting that this is not a priority for the President at this stage.

WHITFIELD: Right Rebecca. If the President does not have a form in which to address questions, you know, while he is state-side here, you know, with reporters, he has to expect that when he goes to France for this Bastille, you know, day celebration, someone is going to ask him a question. So he better be ready for an answer.

So, Juliette, you know, former CIA Director John Brennan said that Trump undermined U.S. intelligence capabilities at the G20. Here's a reminder. Here's the moment


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, certainly indicates he doesn't take the word of the Intelligence Community. And that's he's been doing repeatedly in terms of his public comments. Two days before the G20 Summit in Warsaw, he continued to question the Intelligence Community's high confidence assessment that Russia interfered in the election. He also raised questions about the integrity and capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

And so therefore I seriously question whether or not Mr. Putin heard from Mr. Trump what he needed to about the assault on our Democratic institutions of the election. He said it's an honor to meet President Putin. An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me it was a dishonorable thing to say.


WHITFIELD: All right, to Brennan, he sounds aghast there. So Juliette, how offended are many in the Intelligence Community about what just transpired?

KAYYEM: Many. I have lots of friends in the Intelligence Community and in law enforcement. I think they can't believe this. And I'll say something about John Brennan who I know. This is not a natural state for him. You know, a lot of these guys who leave the CIA sort of, you know, go join boards and consulting.

For him to come out and so aggressively defend the Intelligence Community is because all of us know that whatever happened in 2016, President Trump's behavior now is enabling Putin for 2018 re-elect -- for a 2018 midterms and the 2020 re-elect. There's just no question about it. Putin have suffered nothing. Trump has undermined his own Intelligence Community seems to not prioritize it at all.

And so, whatever happened in the past is what Mueller is doing an investigating. I have no qualms saying that he is now enabling Putin for the kinds of disruptions, whether they are election or critical infrastructure or whatever else into the future. There's no other way to read this behavior at this stage.

WHITFIELD: And this really did get under the skin of so many. Even Marco Rubio tweeted too. He said, "Partnering with Putin on a cyber security unit is akin to partnering with Assad on a chemical weapons unit."

So, Rebecca, for the Republican Party as a whole, as it tries to move forward whether it'd be on health care or somewhere down the line on, you know, tax reform, has Donald Trump made it even more difficult to try to get the party behind him on these big-ticket agenda items?

BERG: Well the problem with this is -- I mean, for as long as there are these doubts about how serious Donald Trump is or not serious about dealing with Russia's intrusion in 2016 and the potential for future intrusions in elections to come for as long as this is an issue that is on the table that Republicans need to be talking about, that is time that they are not spending focusing on their agenda. Focusing on the legislative issues they want to pursue. And this has been the story so far of the Trump presidency, vis-a-vis Capitol Hill, and really, you can sense the frustration with Republicans.

Their work is not easy as it is. They're tackling issues that are hugely controversial and complicated like health care and tax reform. Under the best of circumstances, that would be very difficult. This is not the best of circumstances for them.

WHITFIELD: And quickly, Jay?

NEWTON-SMALL: And yes -- I mean, look, President Trump has very little political credit at this point so is not able and like previous presidents to pick up the phone and really twist arms on Capitol Hill to try to get votes through, because people see him as so tainted they're not listening to him. Politicians, this whole issue just really is a cloud over him and it's really preventing them from doing anything as Rebecca was saying whether it's health care reform or the last four weeks, infrastructure week, energy week, you know, technology week. We talked about none of those issues whatsoever.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jay Newton-Small, Rebecca Berg, Juliette Kayyem. Thank you, ladies. Appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, celebrations after Iraq's prime minister claims victory against ISIS in Mosul. A live report from Iraq, then U.S. Congress returns to Capitol Hill this week. The big ticket item, health care. We'll speak with a Republican congressman later on the hour.

And, questions of blurred lines, first daughter, and Trump adviser, Ivanka Trump, with out front during the G20 even sitting in her dad's seat during one meeting. Now, she's being criticized for it. We'll discuss straight ahead when CNN Newsroom continues.


[15:19:17] WHITFIELD: All right. Right now, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is in Turkey meeting with President Erdogan following the G20 Summit. The talk come as a cease-fire started this morning in parts of Southern Syria. United States, Russia and Jordan negotiated a plan at the G20 Summit. It's the fifth attempt at a cease-fire since 2011, but none have held. The U.S. is focused on defeating ISIS fighter's operators in Syria.

And in Iraq, a major milestone in the war against ISIS. After nearly nine months of fighting, Iraq is declaring victory in Mosul announcing it has retaken the city from the terror group. Hundreds of people filled the street to celebrate the news. And the Iraqi prime minister congratulated his soldiers on a quote great victory. But Iraqi state TV says fighting is still going on in one neighborhood with the remaining ISIS fighters are holding out.

[15:20:09] I want to bring in CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh in Erbil, Iraq. He was just in Mosul less than two weeks ago, and CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. So Nick, you first, you know, is this truly a victory?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, but it comes with a caveat of course. Iraq will be enduring a low- level insurgency from ISIS for years potentially to come. But today is the day that the political symbolism kicks in. Well, state television shows scenes of Iraqi soldiers and people dancing in the streets.

Their prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, casually strolling around Eastern Mosul, a city frankly which just over eight months ago, would have been impossible for any government official because it was controlled by ISIS. But the intense sacrifice and combat of Iraqi Special Forces and troops here now means that it is pretty much in Iraq's control. Again, there are small pockets of fighting still happening in the old city of Mosul. And small numbers of ISIS holdouts and that may be the reason why we've not heard the official speech from Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister.

That victory is here and with them although his office has tweeted he's already come here to announce that. But a great moment for Iraq to reflect, to celebrate, to feel a burden perhaps lifted from it, but also to maybe focus on the deep and strident challenges ahead.

This is a country torn apart between the Sunni minority that used to rule under Saddam Hussein. Remember him? And the Shia majority who predominantly control the government and the military. It's the Sunnis who often in extremist wings felt some entity with ISIS and allowed them to gain a foothold in cities. But the society now have to forget all that and has to heal, has to rebuild, has to reconcile.

Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister done all he can to begin that, but this is a city wherever the Sunni and Shia have been on opposite sides to the front line really in the front to gain ISIS in so many ways. There's a lot of difficult work to be done here to prevent a new form of ISIS emerging to represent this disenfranchised extremist cities, but still forget all that 15 years of turmoil here in Iraq.

Today is a day in which people, frankly, should be breathing some sigh of relief. They are still waiting to hear the official announcement from the Iraqi Prime Minister. But deep down, there is a feeling that this chapter is finally being drawn to a close. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And so, Barbara, if indeed, Mosul is truly liberated and there is that message, then what would be the next step in the fight against ISIS?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there will this reconstruction phase and the effort to hold on to the security gains that's been made. But ISIS is still very much there and still very much the focus of the Trump administration's national security policy. So, expect to see Iraqi forces backed up by the U.S. continue to move west and south to try and destroy still existing pockets of ISIS in Iraq, west and south of Mosul.

In Syria, still a big effort to try and retake ISIS's self-declared capital of Raqqa and then move southeast into the Euphrates River Valley. All places where there are ISIS fighters. But the long-term picture, really, is what's coming home, is essentially the notion that you cannot bomb ISIS out of existence. This is a policy that began under the Obama administration. President Trump carrying it on.

It has gone a very long way. Of course, to helping rid the world of ISIS, but it's an ideology. It's going underground to become a guerrilla movement and it is still very much inspiring extremists around the world especially with the recent attacks we've seen in Europe.

WHITFIELD: Barbara Starr and Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, the U.S. Senate is back in session this week and that means health care reform is back in the spotlight. This comes as at least one Republican senator says the bill is likely dead.


[15:28:14] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. It may be now or never for Senate Republicans. They return from their July 4th recess tomorrow. First on the agenda, health care. And Senators have just 14 days until the August recess. Currently, Republicans may not have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare.


MCCAIN: My view is it's probably going to be dead, but I am -- I've been wrong. I thought I'd be President of the United States.


WHITFIELD: So the White House is not ready to declare the health care bill dead just yet, but it is prepared to move on if the Senate cannot pass a replacement bill.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If anyone can get it done, Mitch McConnell, President Trump, working together with the Senate, can get it done.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes or no, will they pass --

PRIEBUS: Yes, They will get a repeal and replace deal done. I believe that.

WALLACE: Before the August recess?

PRIEBUS: Maybe before, maybe a little into it, but I know that this President expects them to get this thing done. Whether it'd be before August recess, or during August recess, the President expects the Senate to fulfill the promises it made to the American people.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think we'd like to get health care done. If we don't get this passed, then the President, as he said will go to the next plan.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me to discuss this is Congressman Robert Pittenger. He is a Republican Representative from North Carolina. Congressman, good to see you, thanks for being with me.

REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Good afternoon. How are you doing?

WHITFIELD: I'm doing great. So, the House managed to pass a health care bill. You supported it, but do you think the U.S. Senate will do the same or is this bill dead?

PITTENGER: Absolutely, I believe they'll pass this bill. You know, Mark Twain once said rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. I think --I believe that this bill is dead and the Senate is incorrect. I think Mitch McConnell, who's an expert in managing these types of bills and working with this group in the Senate, he understands their needs as much like Paul Ryan did.

[15:30:07] You know, Paul Ryan with 240 members to hurdle in together, and Mitch McConnell get 50 or so and I think he can get it done.

WHITFIELD: But you heard Senator McCain, who didn't sound very optimistic. You know, if the latest plan does fail what about that big message? You know, that all of that talk about repeal for seven years and now come to find out, you know, there really wasn't a plan. That promise is hollow, fairly empty. You know, Republicans and the majority in the White House and on the Hill. How concerned are you about the backlash after all that energy and resources?

PITTENGER: All of the above is true, but I believe we'll get it done. I think it's absolutely required of us to do. Look where the market is today. I mean, let's take a true and accurate assessment. When you consider the people in the individual market, really don't even have coverage. If you have a deductible just $5,000 to $10,000, you're paying $1,000 to $3,000 a month for health insurance in a premium, that's not coverage.

When you look at United and Aetna and Humana and all of these major providers, they're leaving the market.

WHITFIELD: Right. But the bottom line is where's the plan that is going to save all of that, secure it, offer something better for people?

PITTENGER: Yes, ma'am. Well we got it done in the House. It wasn't easy to do. It took us a couple months to work through the different interests and needs.

You know, when you sit around the table, those of us as Republicans, we have districts that are far different. Many of are urban or the rural, we have districts that are have greater numbers of seniors or more poverty. So they're distinctive, and the needs are different.

So, we had to come to consensus. And that's where we were, that's where the Senate will be. We need to learn to govern by consensus.

WHITFIELD: OK, well consensus, you know, the Conservative group, Heritage Foundation says McConnell is making a big mistake. If the Senator works with the Democrats to save a life, the laws exchanges, the Heritage Foundation, rather CEO, Mike Needham says it would be quoting now catastrophic for the party. So you're using the word -- PITTENGER: I'm talking about even consensus -- I'm talking by consensus even among the Republican Party. You know, it took us two months to work through the various factions inside the House.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe it's detrimental for Democrats and Republicans to work together as it pertains to McConnell's plan?

PITTENGER: No. I think if McConnell could come up with a plan -- you know, frankly, Chuck Schumer is not been interested -- whatsoever, he said we are not going to work with you. So that really has been --

WHITFIELD: Well, he said not on repealing but on fixing, yes. And so, that is the notion, that's what the Heritage Foundation is saying if there is a fix on the exchanges that would be detrimental to the plan. So you're not in agreement with what the Heritage Foundation is saying?

PITTENGER: I'm in agreement. I don't think we want mandated health care. We don't want socialism. And that's part and partial what Chuck Schumer wants to replace it with. What is distinctive about the health care plans offered by Republicans, it puts choices back in the hands of the American people. It relegates and mandates the states to assume these responsibilities and the oversight.

It's like medicaid. There is essentially no oversight of Medicaid. We have seen an exponential growth in Medicaid and, frankly, I worked on this issue for 15 years. There is so much that's done in Medicaid to exploit the process.

In North Carolina we have 60,000 providers and many of those providers learned how to exploit the system. We don't have the -- haven't been using the capabilities of there in software to identify those who are exploiting the system. Or to look at those, who is really, to be able to get Medicaid, and are food stamps that have grown exponentially.

When the federal government is funding all the money and the states doing the allocation, there's no oversight. That why when we move it back to the states, there's going to be accountability. That's what that the American people want.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So then you said working with this for 15 years you realize then, you know, and you know better than anybody else that this is just not a simple undertaking.

Meantime, I want your reaction to the tweets that have come from the President this morning following the meeting with President Putin at the G20. The President saying he is ready to move forward with Russia. And here is what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say, John McCain, all had to say this morning about this notion of moving on yet without any kind of penalty towards Putin or Russia for interfering with democracy in the U.S., listen.


GRAHAM: Tillerson and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyber attacks on the American election of 2016. Nobody's saying, Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome. You won fair and square. But they did try to attack our election system. They were successful in many ways. And the more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia.

[15:35:02] And to forgive and forget, when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks, is to empower Putin. And that's exactly what he's doing.

MCCAIN: There has been no penalty whatsoever. Time to move forward. Yes, it's time to move forward. But there has to be a price to pay.

DICKERSON: Why? Why does there have to be a price?

MCCAIN: Otherwise, he will be encouraged to do so again, obviously.


WHITFIELD: And how do you see it, Congressman?

PITTENGER: Well, I don't think that the President ever shows all his cards. You know, the President has been underestimated for decades. When he left Queens to go Manhattan, nobody found he never succeed. He want to get to TV business. Well, people thought he was crazy at the number one show. Then he said, hey, I'm going to run for President. People laughing --

WHITFIELD: Is it showing the cards? You're saying, is it showing the cards to say, as the President, I told Russian President Putin to stop doing this? Is that showing the cards?

PITTENGER: No. I think what he's doing -- but what he's doing right now is he has his own pieces of this puzzle he's putting together. We don't see all the pieces of the puzzle. He doesn't show his hand.

WHITFIELD: Do you hope that the President did that? Reprimanded Russia or at least, you know, threatened that there would be some consequence as a result?

PITTENGER: I don't think President Trump needs tutorial about Vladimir Putin, and where he's come from with the KGB. What he's done in terms of squelching the human rights liberties, freedom of the press, the numbers of people who have amazingly disappeared.

WHITFIELD: But we're talking about the U.S. elections. Do you believe that the President -- it's appropriate or enough that the President has tweeted about it today? There was no press conference following the G-20, there was no real clarity and has not been real clarity coming from the President about what he said to Putin, besides just bringing up the topic.

PITTENGER: Sure, I understand that. You have to look at context. We have major issues out that we need to be working with Russia on. Russia has 20 million Muslims inside their own country. They had 2,000 fighters that went to fight in Syria and in Afghanistan in behalf of ISIS.

WHITFIELD: So you like the way the President has handled his take on his meeting with Putin via tweet this morning and what was said?

PITTENGER: The fact I can respectfully say to you, there are large issues on the world stage today with North Korea, with Iran and Syria, ISIS. There are major issues. There seems to be a predominance by the media to just focus on Russia and our elections. Yes, that is a factor.

The President has acknowledged that. But he's saying, I'm not going to stop there. There are other major issues that I need to be able to work with Russia and President Putin on to address the major concerns and the challenges and the threats we have in this world today. And that's what he's engaged in.

WHITFIELD: So you feel like it's pretty clear. The acknowledgment of the President has made about the U.S. elections being meddled by Russia. You say it's very clear. And what is that message in your view?

PITTENGER: In my view, I think he acknowledges that they have been there. I think that he's made the case. He said, hey, also other countries have done the same thing. There seems to be a predominance of interest in Russia right now, but you can look at other countries that have used their cyber capabilities at the detriment of our own country.

So I think there's -- but we need to have a broader view of what the issues and concerns are in our world. And he is trying to embrace Putin as best he can. He said, you know, it may not work but he's trying to do it because the threat that we have in the world today from North Korea, from Iran and the situation in Syria, ISIS, these are all areas that we need to be engaged in.

In his way of saying we need to move on is, hey I understand this. I will address it with him a couple of time when he had the meeting. The media didn't think he'd even bring it up. Well, he did bring it up and he brought it up several times, but saying there's other issues I need to work with this man on. We have other challenges in the world, and I think that was he's trying to communicate.

WHITFIELD: So you agree with the words it's times to move on?

PITTENGER: Well, take it in context. You can read that in any way you want. Moving on needs -- means to me there is other important matters that I need to be able to talk to President Putin about to see if we can find some measure and some way to work together.

WHITFIELD: All right. North Carolina Representative Robert Pittenger, thanks so much for being with us.

PITTENGER: Thank you. Have a good day.

WHITFIELD: All right, you, too. We'll be right back.


[15:43:34] WHITFIELD: All right. A break from standard diplomatic protocol is still resonating today. The President's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump sitting in for a moment for her dad during the G20 Summit. This photo captured by a member of Russia's delegation shows the first daughter sitting with world leaders right there between Theresa May and the Chinese President.

She was also, Ivanka, also photographed standing in front of her father and alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Former NATO Ambassador, Nicholas Burns told the Washington Post that Ivanka sitting in for the President alongside world leaders is a breach of protocol. The incident has stirred questions of the President blurring the lines again between his family and official White House duties.

Let's talk with CNN contributor Kate Andersen Brower. She's the author of "First Women", and CNN contributor ambassador Norman Eisen, a former White House Ethics Czar. Good to see both of you. All right, so, Kate, let me begin with you. Ivanka is a presidential adviser. So why is that image, the one at the table, in the chair, so uncomfortable for so many people?

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we've never seen anything like it before to have the daughter of the President sitting in at a high-level meeting particularly between Theresa May and, you know, the Chinese President. I mean these two hugely important world leaders. And it calls into question.

[15:45:02] I think it makes people see her role in a way that we don't see it on a day-to-day basis. She's very private. So we don't see that she is his major adviser but she does have an office in the west wing, she had a chief of staff, and these things that are unprecedented in modern history, really ever. We've never seen something like this before.

WHITFIELD: And she said, you know, recently, I'm not very political.

BROWER: Right. I mean, it makes you wonder because she certainly is very political. But, you know, Angela Merkel was asked about this and she said that this does happen where a world leader will leave the room. We don't know what he was leaving -- what reason Donald Trump was leaving the room for, but where they do have somebody sit in as she kind of defended Ivanka Trump and said that, you know, she is an adviser and I though that was really interesting that she came to her defense.

WHITFIELD: Former Press Secretary for Hillary Clinton, Brian Fallon tweeted something in response saying, "I'm sure Republicans would have taken it in stride if Chelsea Clinton was deputized to perform head of state duties." Little sarcasm there. Ambassador Eisen, you know, is this observation many are making, is the criticism, you know, bigger than the issue of nepotism? Is there something else?

AMB. NORMAN EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Fred, thanks for having me back. And I do think there's a bigger issue. It's the pattern of Donald Trump and his family breaking down Democratic norms whether it's the President hanging on to his businesses, bringing his family into the White House.

Now, installing his daughter, a seat at the G20 table, that's something that's usually reserved for secretaries of state or other very senior substitutes when the President has to step away. It seems that they have a disrespect for the traditions of democracy. It almost looks like a monarchy, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And so, Kate, you know, still within the family. There was a moment with the first lady, Melania Trump, who was sitting right next to, and there's the picture there, sitting right next to, coincidentally, was it? How did this happen? Vladimir Putin at dinner.

Apparently both do speak German and we know that, you know, Putin has spoken German with the German chancellor. That's how they have communicated. So, you know, has this been crafted, perhaps, in some way by the White House, that this is advantageous for the President to have his wife, for the capacity of being able to, you know, converse with Putin and even the daughter being able to sit alongside other world leaders?

BROWER: Well, I mean, I think it's very interesting that they also sent Melania Trump in to kind of break up the meeting with Putin. That was running over two hours long. And it was supposed to be a lot shorter than that.

So they clearly see Melania Trump as somebody who can kind of speak to both men, to the President, to her husband, and to Vladimir Putin. I thought that was fascinating. And the fact, they are having dinner together.

Yes, I think both of these women are playing historic roles in this White House. Ivanka, a bigger role than we've expected and Melania, I think a much smaller role than most first ladies in recent time have played.

WHITFIELD: Ambassador Eisen as simple as breaking tradition, can it be that?

EISEN: Well, I don't object to the dinner seating, Melania conversing perhaps in German with Mr. Putin. I do object to the President's conversation with Mr. Putin, letting him off the hook so easily after the Russians attacked our democracy. I do think you have to distinguish between the traditional first lady roles, and there's a role for first children as well. But the -- Ivanka and Jared are going too far, and there is an anti-nepotism law on the books.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, we'll have you back to discuss that more thoroughly later. All right, Ambassador Eisen, Kate Anderson Brower good to see both of you. Thank you so much.

EISEN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFEILD: All right. Still ahead -- a look at tonight's day view debut of the new CNN series The Nineties were live from CNN's beach party in Santa Monica, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:53:15] WHITFEILD: All right, I know you can't wait tonight CNN's new series The Nineties debuts. And CNN is having a beach party right now in Southern California. CNN's Brooke Baldwin is there and she's looking for company on that sofa. So, if you're anywhere nearby join Brooke. What's going on in place and board games? I like it.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Come hang out. Listen, I know Fred, I left you last hour. It's been a little controversial in Twitter. I realize -- I mentioned '90s board games and I mention operation. Do we all remember this noise?

WHITFEILD: I remember it. I was in elementary playing that.

BALDWIN: Am I hand that board. Right, but I realize that people were saying, Brooke, you know, that was from the earlier decades. Listen, we're talking reboots, hungry, hungry hippo. My parents didn't actually let me buy one of this. So it was one of reliving my youth that never fully happened in a Game Boy sector. A little connector, which is kind of fun.

So here's the deal, we're not just playing games on the pier. Well, we kind of are, actually. But it's more than just games. This is all about the '90s. So, we've been showing this different original series for, you know, minimize (ph) CNN starting with the 60s and 70s.

So starting tonight at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 local time here, Pacific Time, we're airing the first episode of The Nineties, an important decade in my youth, if I may. And so, we're having this huge party, open to the public on the Santa Monica Pier. Please come hang out. The sofa's empty. I need to have some friends here at Santa Monica.

Actually I have a lot, so far the turnout has been awesome. But please come down and whoever comes down today, just quickly will get a sneak peak of the first episode tonight where it's all about TV shows, friends, saved by the bell. It's different world. Did you have a favorite?

WHITFEILD: You know what, Seinfeld, still a favorite and Living Single, loved as well.

[15:55:07] And I talked to Kim Fields yesterday who was the star from, you know, Living Single. And so, yes I was about that age group when they were talking about these young people kind of, you know, starting their lives and so I could really identify with that one at the time.

BALDWIN: Totally. Totally, Living Colour. We're talking to Sinbad in a couple hours. This whole party is going on until 6:00 here in California, so please come out.


BALDWIN: Amazing fun. And we're talking '90s, Fred, back over to you.

WHITFEILD: Hey, and what a great venue. I mean, Santa Monica, the pier there you got the surfing --

BALDWIN: I'm not complaining.

WHITFIELD: -- folks are out, and the sunshine and you, Brooke so, hey good.

BALDWIN: It's gorgeous.

WHITFEILD: All right, we're sending all friends your way. Thanks so much, Brooke Baldwin now --

BALDWIN: Thank you.

WHITFEILD: -- right there on Santa Monica beach for The Nineties airs tonight at 9 Eastern right here in on CNN and we'll be right back.