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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Intelligence Officers for Election Interference; Kremlin: New Charges Against 12 Russians Political Attempt to "Spoil" Trump-Putin Summit. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is how he referred to the special counsel investigation:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that we're being hurt very badly by the -- I would call it the witch-hunt. I would call it the rigged witch-hunt.
I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance, a very good relationship with President Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: just to underline this point, the man tasked with protecting the United States of America, knowing of these indictments of 12 Russian military officers for a successful cyber-attack against the United States, that man expressed regret as how the investigation into the cyber-attack is hurting relations with Russia.
The president, of course, is heading to Helsinki, Finland, to have his first official one-on-one summit with Putin on Monday. That summit, and specifically the part where Putin and Trump are supposed to meet, just the two of them, well, that has been worrying many people on Capitol Hill, including and especially the Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Bob Corker.
It's something he has expressed to CNN multiple times this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, yes. You know, I hope there are people present during the meeting.
QUESTION: Why do you say that?
CORKER: I just do. I just -- I just hope there are people around him, Mattis and others hopefully, Pompeo.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: In light of the multiple indictments, top Democrats are now calling for the summit to be called off.
Now, the indictment draws no conclusions about the guilt or innocence of any Americans, though it does mention how Russian intelligence officers posing as a hacker called Guccifer 2.0, how they communicated with -- quote -- "a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump."
We do not know how or whether any of these officers who were indicted today, how any of them had anything to do with alleged efforts by the Kremlin to reach out to Donald Trump Jr. with dirt on Hillary Clinton, or to Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was told about Clinton e-mails by a professor with alleged ties to the Kremlin.
Nor do we know about the potential impact of that moment on July 27, 2016, during the Democratic National Convention when candidate Donald Trump shared a message he had for Russia about e-mails that Hillary Clinton had supposedly deleted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was July 27, 2016, July 27.
Today's indictment says that, even though the Russians had been trying to use the technique known as spear-phishing to get into the e-mail accounts of Hillary Clinton's campaign staff, on that day, they made a new effort.
"On or about July 27, 2016, the conspirators attempted after hours to spear-phish for the first time e-mail accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton's personal office."
The president saying this is all a witch-hunt, false, according to his own Justice Department. The president saying that the hacks weren't necessarily done by the Russians, false, according to his own Justice Department.
This tweet from two years ago this month, "The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written. Stupid, because Putin likes me" -- unquote.
Now, it's not a joke. The president's allies suggesting all sorts of conspiracy theories about who it might have been, instead of the Russians, including that poor murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, all of those conspiracy theories false and, frankly, hideous.
CNN's Jessica Schneider picks up our coverage on today's indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, 12 Russian intelligence officers are charged with hacking into the e-mail servers of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, plus stealing U.S. voter data during the 2016 election.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We know, according to the allegations in the indictment, the goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the elections.
SCHNEIDER: The 29-page indictment details how the Russians targeted more than 300 people associated with Democratic campaign committees and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
This was the e-mail Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta received telling him to click a link to change his password, the technique known as spear-phishing. Podesta did, allowing the Russian officers to steal his user name, password and e-mails.
Prosecutors allege these Russian officers hacked into several accounts, stealing thousands of e-mails.
ROSENSTEIN: The defendants hacked into computer networks and installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screen shots and exfiltrate or remove data from those computers.
SCHNEIDER: And to distribute the stolen e-mails, the indictment says the Russians registered the domains DCLeaks and then Guccifer 2.0 and used a network of computers around the world, including here in the U.S., funding their scheme through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
ROSENSTEIN: The defendants falsely claimed that DCLeaks was a group of American hackers and that Guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker.
SCHNEIDER: Rosenstein stressed that none of the Americans targeted knew they were communicating with the Russians.
ROSENSTEIN: The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the Internet. There's no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.
SCHNEIDER: But the indictment does detail the Russians' contact with several Americans, including a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress whose identity has not been disclosed.
It also documents discussions between the Russian intelligence officers posing as Guccifer 2.0 and a person who was close to the Trump campaign in August and September 2016.
The language of the messages revealed in the indictment matches the Twitter messages previously released by Roger Stone. But Stone, in a puzzling statement to CNN, says he doesn't believe he is the one referenced in the indictment. Stone has admitted he communicated with Guccifer 2.0, but denied he
had any knowledge about the hacking.
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm not involved in collusion, coordination or conspiracy with the Russians or anyone else. And there's no evidence to the contrary.
SCHNEIDER: The indictment also alleges that the Russians first attempted to spear-phish and hack e-mail accounts used by Hillary Clinton's personal office on the same day Trump said this:
TRUMP: Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
SCHNEIDER: The deputy attorney general briefed President Trump on the charges before he left for his overseas trip and today stressed politics should stay out of what is a serious legal and national security matter.
ROSENSTEIN: We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable.
We need to keep moving forward to preserve our values, protect against future interference, and defend America.
SCHNEIDER: Now, the chances are slim that these Russian intelligence officers will ever face these charges here in the U.S.
In fact, in a previous indictment, the special counsel charged 13 Russian nationals back in February, and the Russian government has refused to even get those summons and notices to those defendants.
But, of course, now there is that chorus of Democrats who are urging President Trump to demand extradition of these Russian officers when he meets President Putin face to face on Monday.
But, of course, Jake, it remains to be seen what kind of pressure the president will exert, if any -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.
And breaking just now, the White House is confirming that the Trump- Putin summit is still on. This comes, of course, after calls from many Democrats in Congress and a suggestion from John McCain that the summit should be canceled after these indictments.
Let's talk about all of this.
First of all, Neal, let me start with you.
You were at the Justice Department one point. So the timing of all this is very curious. Now, Rod Rosenstein said this was just a matter of when the grand jury indicted. But somebody scheduled the grand jury to meet today.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Exactly.
So we don't know exactly what's going on. It's a black box. But I think one thing that's likely happening here is that Mueller and his team knew, look, the summit with Putin is happening on Monday. We have got to get out in front of this and have these indictments happen now, not later.
TAPPER: And what do you make of that? Is that inappropriate?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think maybe they think it's patriotic, in the sense that it's important to let the president, let Putin know, let all of us know that this Russian interference is a fact, or at least is a -- they know enough to charge an actual crime with an awful lot of backup evidence, apparently, rather than just allowing it to be something that has been rumored and talked about in the intelligence community, agree that it happened, but the president remains doubtful.
I don't know. Maybe the timing is sort of an accident, but I think it was a -- it's the right thing to do, I think. I mean, this is an important thing to know, for us to know, and for the president to be confronted with, that his own Justice Department is asserting, before the summit.
TAPPER: And yet, Symone, even knowing of these indictments to come -- he had been briefed by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein earlier this week -- President Trump this morning referred to the Mueller investigation as a rigged witch-hunt that is getting in the way of good relations with Russia.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely.
And I think that goes to show that we know where the president stands. And I don't think his stance is changing any time soon. And I believe that Democrats need to be unified on their messaging on this issue.
After the indictments came out, you saw some Democratic -- some Dems in leadership say that, oh, he should meet, but demand this, he shouldn't meet.
And I think now we see Democrats coming around saying, President Trump should cancel his summit with President Putin, one, because he can't go in and then do what President Obama did in demanding something from President Putin, demanding that Putin cut it out, because, one, Donald Trump does not believe in the investigation.
I don't think I'm he understands the gravity and the severity of what's going on.
But, two, we can't even the president and what he would say in this meeting. Donald Trump has not been clean on this issue. I would not put it past him to lie in the meeting or lie coming out of the meeting.
I just don't think this summit would be helpful. And I think it's important for Democrats to continue hammer home that point.
TAPPER: Something very interesting that happened. And I want to get your view on it, Jackie.
On July 27, 2016, candidate Trump says this to Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you can find Hillary Clinton's e-mails."
OK? He said that in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. Now, this indictment notes that on or about that very same day, July 27, 2016, "The conspirators attempt after-hours to spear-phish for the first time e-mail accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton's personal office."
That seems to be a reference to Hillary Clinton's private personal server. So it's unusual. And they put it in the indictment for a reason.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a heck of a coincidence.
Whether someone close to the president mentioned this to him before he went on stage, we don't know. And I don't want to speculate and put some stuff out there that might not be true.
But it is -- you have to put those together. There's no way to separate them. And, to Symone's point, there are other presidents where, if this was out there, you could say, OK, yes, he should keep the meeting because he could walk in and say, look, this is what you have.
With this president, we haven't seen him strike any sort of aggressive posture with Putin, very little. We've seen things here and there, not to mention what just happened in the U.K.
TAPPER: The poisoning?
KUCINICH: The poisoning.
And they found the bottle that was the place where the poison came from. All of these events, all of these events with our allies, with our own elections, the midterms are only a couple of months away.
SANDERS: Four months away.
KUCINICH: Four months away.
They still have DCCC e-mails.
KRISTOL: I think it's really interesting, because I believe -- Neal, correct me
It's not necessary at all in the indictment. It's a signal by Mueller's team. And who and what he is signaling?
KATYAL: And, boy, what a signal.
It really shows -- on July 27, the president says, Russia, if you're listening, I would hope to get the 30 000 e-mails. And then that night.
TAPPER: We should point out the indictment doesn't mention Trump saying that on July 27. But the indictment notes that this happened on July 27.
KATYAL: With Russian intelligence effectively serving as Donald Trump's personal concierge service.
Go out and fetch me out, Russian intelligence, and they go and do that.
And that is a chilling thing from a national perspective. And it's really why Mueller has been on the right course, why the special counsel regulations are so important. When we drafted in 1999, we had things like this in mind, when you had a president who is trying to shut down, say this is a witch-hunt, whatever, to provide some insulation.
TAPPER: We wouldn't know about these Russians if the Mueller investigation had Been shut down, as the president wanted.
KRISTOL: But don't you think he's also showing we know a lot?
We know the particular thing this as counter intelligence. We know the particular date in which a certain order was given.
KRISTOL: And so I think there's a little bit of signaling here to perhaps people who haven't flipped, people who think they're going to get away with something that, you know what, they have records of everything.
KRISTOL: And if you are one of those unnamed Americans who was speaking to one of those people, they probably know that too.
TAPPER: We should mention here is how the White House responded today -- quote -- "Today's charges include no allegations of knowing, knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election results. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."
KUCINICH: The thing that's missing in that statement is anything about Russia, is anything condemning what Russia did.
It's all about number one. It's all about the president. It's all about no collusion, that sort of thing. It has -- it doesn't thank the Justice Department for their hard work, any other hallmarks that you would see from any other administration, Democrat, Republican, whatever.
It's not in there.
SANDERS: Well, and also, I mean, the posture that statement is very defensive.
What I don't think we have touched on yet, though, is the implications tasked for the midterm elections. This actually should not be a partisan issue. Russia attacked our democracy. Today, we have 12 Russian officials, not some hackers in a basement. These are folks that are Russian officials that we know had hands in and were the people that attacked our -- the cornerstone of our democracy, free and fair elections.
The Trump administration has not moved to do anything to ensure that this doesn't happen again. Now, Democratic entities and committees have taken safety measures to beef up. But what about the election machines?
And so I think there's also something to be said about the election. Midterm elections are coming up. They are literally right around the corner. And we are in fact not safe.
TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.
The White House is now saying it is certainly not canceling the summit, and the Russians have just reacted to the indictments.
[16:15:02] What did the Kremlin have to say? Stay with us.
TAPPER: We just got reaction from Russia about today's indictment from the U.S. Justice Department of 12 Russian military intelligence officers, accusing them of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.
Let's go to CNN's Matthew Chance. He's in the Helsinki, Finland, ahead of President Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Matthew, what is the Russian government saying?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they, as expected, Jake, have issued their denial about any connection with meddling in the U.S. election. It came this time from the Russian foreign ministry and they're using a lot of the language that Donald Trump himself uses for the Mueller investigation and the allegations of collusion with the Russians. They said that Washington is struggling to reanimate old fake news about the alleged Russian interference in the election. [16:20:06] They went on to say it's just a heap of conspiracy,
schemes, again, a categorical denial. And here's a quote which I think we got a graphic of.
Obviously, the purpose of this bogus story is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit. Now, the influential political forces of the United States who oppose the normalization of relations between our countries and for two years now have been working with outright slander, are rushing to squeeze the most out of the next dummy, which will quickly be forgotten.
They're at pains, the Russian foreign ministry in this case, to use the same language that President Trump uses and cast it in the same way that he does, that this is politically motivated, this is fake news, there's no basis for it. It's just the work of his political opponent.
And so, there's been some speculation, this may lead to some confrontational meeting on Monday when President Trump sits down with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. But, in fact, if you read this, it's something they could agree on. They use the same language. They think of the collusion allegations, these interference allegations in the same way. It could be something they bond over, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance in Helsinki, thank you so much.
Joining me now is the former director of both the NSA and CIA under President George W. Bush, retired four-star General Michael Hayden.
General, thanks for being here.
Many Democrats and even Senator John McCain suggested that if Trump is not going to confront Putin with this, that the summit should be canceled. What do you think?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER NSA & CIA DIRECTOR: No. My view is, it's going to go on. We know that. They have already said that.
If I were still in government, I would probably say it has to go on, but I would then make that condition. This is your chance, Mr. President. You've got a document beyond speculation. You actually have evidence, which the intelligence community couldn't roll out in that community intelligence assessment.
Here, we've got solid, forensic, detailed evidence that the president can make use of. So, as a citizen now, I would say, let's do it. Then I want to watch to see what the president does.
TAPPER: Now, the White House points to the fact that no American is indicted in this indictment and it is -- there are no assertions any American knowingly worked with any of these Russian military officers. With that in mind, the White House and Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer said, that should be the end of it.
What do you make of it when you see unnamed individuals and organizations in the indictment?
HAYDEN: Yes, so, clearly, I don't know if you know this, I think the indictment says we take no view on whether Americans were involved. Doesn't say no Americans were involved. We are not talking about that now.
You know, the longer this goes on, I began Jake, you and I talked about this a long time thinking it was going to end up in an inconclusive cloud. If you want to see "x," you will see it. If you want to see "y," you will see it.
The more this goes on, the richer in detail we get, the more I believe that we are going to see a widening circle here of people becoming involved. Let me say something --
TAPPER: You mean in terms of indictment?
HAYDEN: Yes, let me -- it's not a prediction, an observation, all right? I would not be surprised if these were not the last indictment that we see that doesn't mention an American.
TAPPER: So, in other words, there will be another indictment and you think they'll be Americans involved?
Assuming the meeting goes off as planned, what do you think this indictment does in terms of the political support for President Trump's claim that this is all just nonsense?
TAPPER: When his own administration, the Justice Department is like saying, no, here is fact one, fact two, fact three?
HAYDEN: So, I read the indictment. It's a fascinating read. It's not that long. People ought to take a look at it. My first reaction as I began to read it was, yes, like we said.
HAYDEN: Because it's absolutely consistent with the assessment of the intelligence community. It has magnificent, what I think is forensic detail that the bureau was able to put together, who did what, when and what time, with what tools, for what purpose, against what target.
And, Jake, to kind of spin that wheel one more time, this is largely, I think, forensic information. Imagine what the Mueller team has available with regard to this activity from other sources that they would clearly not choose to put in what would be a public indictment.
TAPPER: In other words, this is in your trade craft, you would say signals intelligence, not necessarily human intelligence.
HAYDEN: It signals -- no, yes, sort of.
HAYDEN: It's signals intelligence. After the fact, it's crime scene intelligence.
HAYDEN: It's going back through the logs. It's going back through otherwise available record, but very hard to do, very massive.
[16:25:03] But you've seen what they have put together. There's no evidence in my reading of the indictment, of any evidence in there from what I would call the other side of the screen, what it is to the other guys were thinking doing between and among themselves.
TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to something President Trump said this morning. And I think what's important about this is the fact he had already been briefed by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, that these indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers were coming, that that was going to happen. And yet, this is the way, on foreign soil, this is the way President Trump described the Mueller investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we are being hurt very badly by the, I would call it the witch hunt. I would call it the rigged witch hunt. I think that really hurts our country and really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think we have a good chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very chance -- a very good relationship with President Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, that's how he is talking about an investigation into a Russian cyber attack against the United States.
HAYDEN: So, it's further evidence of a style with speaking and acting that I think we have seen evident in the president where he gets to create his own reality for his own purposes, for his utility at the moment. So, the Germans are under control of the Russians until that afternoon when they are not.
And here, we've got as I said, this magnificent breed of detail that he still characterizes as a witch hunt. His departure point is for a lot of what he says and does, is not what you and I would call objective reality. It's what he needs at the moment. And some people, when I get into arguments, look what he does, not what he says. My point is, what a candidate or president says is really important.
And when you say untrue things, or let's go back to July 27th.
TAPPER: Yes, let's talk about that. He called for the Russians to look into Hillary Clinton's e-mails and the indictment says, on that day, the Russian hackers trying to get at Hillary Clinton's campaign e-mails in a different way. HAYDEN: Now, fascinating that Director Mueller decides to put that fine print into the indictment itself. It technically doesn't have to go that fine print for that issue. He put that is in there. At a minimum, all right, at a minimum, I think it's clear evidence you say stupid things, even as a candidate, you really put yourself in jeopardy. At a minimum, that's where the president is.
TAPPER: So, the Russians took him seriously and literally.
HAYDEN: They could be.
TAPPER: All right. Michael Hayden, thank you so much, appreciate it as always.
Senator John McCain says if President Trump isn't prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit should not go on. But the summit is going on. So, will Trump press the issue with Putin? We'll discuss.