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Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Military Officers for Hacking DNC; Trumps Tries to Salvage Relationship with Theresa May; Trumps Sales Will Bring Up Russian Hacking and Indictments with Putin in Helsinki. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 13, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with the breaking news, the indictment of 12 Russian military officers for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 election. The Justice Department says some of these intelligence officers used a tactic called spear phishing to hack into DNC computers and meddle in the 2016 presidential election with the e-mails they got from that spear phishing.

What is that? That's when hackers send in an official-looking e-mail that lures unsuspecting recipients into sharing their personal information with this fake website. I want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom, how difficult is it to trace this type of attack?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It depends on the sophistication of the attack. They'll look at the IP address of the original domain from which the e-mail is sent, then work back from there, how old is the domain, who established it, things like that. It can be very complicated if the people doing it have set up a complicated system. Let's talk about exactly how it works.

Let's say you're an official with a big political party and you get at the height of the campaign, an e-mail shows up in your box that says something like, ah, this is the administrator, this is Jack in the IT department, someone you're not sure you know, maybe you do, and he says, we have a problem with the system, I need you to confirm your account right now, I need your password and your user ID, send it to me so I can solve this so you don't get locked out.

[15:35:00] It's late, you're busy in the campaign, you have a million things going. Same thing could happen if you were a state election official. And maybe you send it. If you do, the problem is the person who sent it never was Jack in IT but in this case, it led right back to hackers who were in turn connected to Russian agents or who may have been Russian agents themselves. Now you've going to have them a back door into your computer. That's one of the systems Rosenstein was talking about earlier today.

The other thing he was talking about was the possibility that either this way or another way because you can do it through a computer, that what was sent in was initially some version of malware. We hear this word a lot. In this case what malware will do is sit on your computer and start automatically collecting all sorts of information. Addresses that you were using all the time to send information to, your contact list, your passwords when you signed in. It could grab screen shots when you wrote things. Then it could spread out through your network, imitating you and collecting even more information. In that case you would be talking about a version that would be some sort of an automatic system or doxing. All of this, again, would link back to the Kremlin.

These are the two key ways we heard about today, either tricking people into sending their information through a spear phishing attack, it's called that because you target a specific group and sometimes specific individuals as opposed to everyone, but the other one is a malware attack launched in this fashion, Jake.

TAPPER: Tom Foreman. This just in, Republican Senator John McCain is weighing in on the indictment today and what it might mean for the upcoming Trump/Putin summit. He wrote in a statement, quote, "President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate there will be a serious price to pay for on ago aggression against the United States and democracies around the world. If he is not, the summit in Helsinki should not go forward."

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd, who is also a former senior advisor to the national security advisor in the Obama administration. The left side of our screen there we see live pictures of the president arriving in Glasgow, Scotland.

Samantha, you dealt with Russians under President Obama. Is there anything in the indictment today that surprises you or is that pretty much what the Obama administration suspected was happening?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think what we learned from the indictments today is that intelligence collection gets better over time, and not worse. These indictments contain so much information, much more detailed information on these individuals and on the reach of the GRU. Remember, the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit, we know they were up to no good in 2016. They were referenced in the January intelligence assessment that they issued. We're learning from these indictments what the GRU did and the intelligence is building on itself, so we get even more information over time.

TAPPER: I have to say and it's unfair to hold you responsible for the entire Obama administration, but you read this indictment and you think, boy, the Obama administration really kind of missed the ball on this. Yes, they issued that report, but President Obama said -- what did he say, he told Putin to cut it out or knock it off, it wasn't particularly strong. Then there was all this hesitation about warning the American people for fear of looking partisan. In retrospect, doesn't it seem to you that perhaps the Obama administration was at least to a degree asleep at the switch?

VINOGRAD: I'm not here to be an apologist for the administration, I was gone when this happened. We need to look at what intelligence we had, 2016, 2015, 2014, when did we start to know what the Russians were up to, that's question number one. Question number two, we know from various sources that this attack hasn't stopped, there's bipartisan agreement on that. And not one president, neither Obama nor Trump, has figured out how to deter Vladimir Putin. It's not a question about Donald Trump raises election meddling. It's has he prepared enough to figure out how to deter President Putin from doing what he's doing.

[15:40:00] TAPPER: What would you have him do, President Trump, if you could? What would you have him say to President Putin in Helsinki?

VINOGRAD: I can tell you what I would not have him do and that's to approach this as an easy meeting. President Trump described this as easy a few days ago. He said he's going to be loose with President Putin. History has shown that a charm offensive with president Putin doesn't work. He does not respond to flattery. We know that president Trump does. So, if you're in Russia and you're prepping Putin, you're telling him to flatter Donald he said he's going to be loose with president Putin. History has shown that a charm offensive with president Putin doesn't work. He does not respond to flattery. We know that president Trump does.

So, if you're in Russia and you're prepping Putin, you're telling him to flatter Donald Trump, to talk about his successes. But being nice to Putin is not a recipe for success. It is what Donald Trump has done to date. It's not deterring him. We know that president Putin cares about remaining economically strong, having a military that's able to invade countries like Ukraine and Crimea. I would lay out costs for president Putin on the financial side and even on the diplomatic stage of continued misbehavior.

TAPPER: Sam Vinograd, thank you very much.

It's something we rarely hear from President Trump, an apology. Kind of. Did he apologize enough to clean up the mess after pretty clearly insulting prime minister Theresa May in a newspaper interview in the U.K.? Stay with us.


TAPPER: Let's turn now to the president's European tour. President Trump earlier held a news conference after meetings with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. After he gave an incendiary interview to a British tabloid in which he drops a few bombs on her. He denied doing so. Let's listen to what he said the day before to the tabloid "The Sun."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't agree -- she didn't listen to me. I think the deal she's striking is not what the people voted on. It's a much different deal than what the people voted on. It was not the deal that was in the referendum.


TAPPER: So, there is the president saying Theresa May didn't listen to him, then took issue with her Brexit leadership. He said her political rival, Boris Johnson, who just resigned as foreign minister, that he would make a great prime minister. How is that not criticism?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That is clearly criticism. I know he said he didn't criticize her, but the tape proves otherwise, there's no doubt about that. But what I thought was so interesting is that Theresa May kind of gave him a little bit of support in her comments at the end of the day -- at the end of the press conference. She said he is going into his meeting with Putin on Monday with as strong a position as possible with a completely unified NATO around that table. Sort of from Donald Trump's talking points. Donald Trump talked about these relationships had never been better, yet we see him completely undermining the prime minister and everything she's trying to achieve on Brexit.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Except he had just totally walked it back. As much as you could ever see Donald Trump have his tail between his legs, the picture you're seeing right now, there was a tail between his legs there, no question. He said, oh, it's up to you, Great Britain, how you deal with Brexit. He apologized without apologizing, but apparently, he did apologize, which is like seismic in Trump world. And this is so Donald Trump, that for all the bluster, as combative as he is on Twitter, in public, on the stump, in one-on-one meetings, and I'm sure we've all heard this from people who know him and have worked with him for years, he doesn't like confrontation, which is counterintuitive. And that was pretty clear.

TAPPER: We're told, Gloria, by a source that he did apologize to Theresa May behind closed doors.

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is stunning, as Dana points out. But he did it one on one, because he got caught. He got caught but he did it in a private meeting. And on tape, transcripts, tape, video. So, he had no choice, so he apologized one on one. But this is typical Donald Trump, because he will malign you when you're not in the room, and he does it all the time to everyone, to his friends, people who work for him. He will malign you, and then if he's caught on it, he'll back off, because that's what bullies do.

CHALIAN: The coverage embarrassed him.

TAPPER: Stick around, we've got a lot more to talk about coming up more on the President Trump/Theresa May relationship. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to this edition. Speed round. What do you think is going to happen Monday when President Trump actually is face- to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Will he take these indictments and say what are you doing? What's your read?

BASH: It is hard to imagine he takes the indictments. There's little question that is the reason maybe not to physically take the indictments, but to put it squarely on the agenda is the reason the timing was as it was. Rod Rosenstein came out Friday, a couple days before this summit to make sure this is overshadowing it and so the president can give the message that Rod Rosenstein gave today to him. This is not what you can do to America, cut it out.

TAPPER: Rosenstein said it was because of the grand jury indictment was this morning. That would have been Robert Mueller and his team scheduling that.

BORGER: Sure. In a way, some say this puts the president in a bad spot. It may help the president. He can go in there and say our Justice Department discovered your top military men and intelligence advisers were involved in this, what are you going to do about it? Maybe you want to extradite some people, we don't have an extradition agreement with Russia, what are you going to do.

[15:55:00] Congress is going to want to slap sanctions. It may give the president a little more oomph if he takes advantage of it.

BASH: Big if.

BORGER: If he does.

CHALIAN: This morning, he predicted having already been briefed on it, he predicted there is not going to be a gee, I did it moment from Putin, but yes, it's your favorite topic. I will bring it up. no Perry Mason moment. He already knew about the indictments. The evidence suggests that he's not interested in saying, hey, stop messing with our country's elections.

TAPPER: Thanks everyone. Appreciate it. We are going take a break. Breaking news, the Kremlin just reacted to the indictment of 12 Russians. We are going bring that to you next. Stay with us.