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Report: Dems Say Trump Must Cancel Putin Summit After Indictment Of 12 Russians; Trump in Video Invites Russians to Hack Clinton Emails; Trump Denies He Criticized British Prime Minister May After He Was Recorded Criticizing Her; Trump Now Says UK Relationship Now Highest Level of Special. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 13, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] THOMAS DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Those kind of suspicions in the context of this meeting, number one. Number two, Vladimir Putin has been essentially the head of Russia for 20 years and before that, 16 years experience as a KGB agent. I think in terms of experience, in terms of skill, it's an overmatch.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And Putin wants is relief from the sanctions which he shouldn't get. He wants to basically have the president endorse the annexation of Crimea. Saying they are Russian-speaking people after all. You could see use the same rationale in the Baltics. If I were the Baltics I'd be concerned about this rationale, if they're Russian speaking they should be part of the old Russian empire or Soviet Empire.
I think what the president hasn't really grasped is Putin is not a friend of democracy, he is an enemy of democracy. But I think President Trump has a strategy, and it's going back to balance of power politics of the 18th century where he sees three big powers, the United States, Russia and China, and he's one of the strong men, not go by rule of law but law of rule, that's something that's his goal, he's trying to dismantle WTO, NATO, EU, in terms of attacking it publicly. Any kind of multi-lateral organization he sees this as Lilliputians trying to tie down the giant.
DONILON: This is a profound point. We regarded the president of the United States since the end of World War II as the leader of the free world, as the leader of those states and countries and peoples who were committed to democracy and open government and international rules. We've abdicated this position as a leader of the free world and instead kind of joining into this kind of discussion about these kind of condominiums. It's really an extraordinary turn of events and one we need to pay a lot of attention to.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's pretty extraordinary. You've worked with the intelligence community, you were Secretary of Defense. If you read this indictment, the specific details, names, times, place, all the stuff that the U.S. intelligence community came up with to indict 12 senior Russian military intelligence operatives with their names, middle names and last names, everything about them and then to release it publicly, that's extraordinary. COHEN: It is extraordinary. But we have extraordinary capability.
You might remember we were able to identify the specific building in China where they were launching digital attempts to gather information on the United States. So, we have an enormous capability and it doesn't surprise me at all with the kind of specificity that they have laid out there.
DONILON: And it lends power to the allegations. I think the intelligence community, Justice Department wanted to leave no doubt that, in fact, we had the goods on the guys.
BLITZER: How's Putin going to respond?
DONILON: He'll deny. It'll be the same kind of response he's had to the whole series of steps he's taken of a hostile nature against the United States. Until he's confronted with a position of strength with demands he respond in an appropriate way to each of the steps, he'll continue to deny.
BLITZER: The president continues to say it's a rigged witch hunt.
COHEN: The president should say, President Putin, you can deny this, but my intelligence community, now a grand jury has concluded that these people have been involved in hacking into our system trying to alter things, whether they were successful or not is not being resolved at this point. Number two, I need to have you understand, if you do this again, there are going to be more serious consequences. You get no relief of the sanctions that we imposed as a result of Crimea and trying to destabilize Ukraine and trying to destabilize the Baltics as well. You've been messing around in the European elections in addition to that. So, no, we can't have a better relationship until you change your behavior. If you do that I want to have a good relationship with Russia, I would like to have one, they are an important country. But not when you engage in this kind of behavior.
DONILON: This kind of power relation is obviously important but even today knowing what the president knew because he had been briefed by the Justice Department, he still said today something along the lines, there'll be no Perry Mason moment. Putin needs to be confronted quite directly on this. In my view I wouldn't go forward with the meeting and I would take the kinds of steps we should take to respond to this.
BLITZER: Any chance Putin could cancel?
DONILON: I think it would depend on what the United States does. It doesn't look to me like were going to have to take any action between now and then.
BLITZER: What do you think?
COHEN: A meeting benefits him. He's on the world stage with president of the United States. We have legitimized Kim Jong-Un, by having a world forum for him in Singapore, and we'll legitimize Vladimir Putin notwithstanding all of the misbehavior she has engaged in. And so, I think it's in his interest. If he wants to retaliate against us he might cancel but I think it works to his advantage. DONILON: I think that's right. Essentially what he's seeking here.
This will all work to the achievement and advancement of Russian strategic goals, divide the United States from Europe, sow continued discord, divide the politics in our country, upset our democracies. And essentially what Putin seeks here, Wolf, which I think I wouldn't do the meeting because I think it's all to his advantage is costless absolution.
[14:05:00] BLITZER: They want to sow decent here. Right now, William Cohen, thank you very much for joining us, Tom Donilon, thanks to you.
As well our special coverage continues right now with Ana Cabrera.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, I am Ana Cabrera. We continue our breaking news coverage. New indictments in the Russia investigation on the eve of President Trump's sit-down interview with the Russian president.
Just moments ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dropped a bombshell announcing 12 military officers have been indicted for trying to interfere with the 2016 election.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: 11 defendants are charged with trying to hack into computers, steal documents and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election. One of those defendants and a 12th military Russian officer are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations involved in administering elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software used to administer elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Remember in July 2016, the president goaded Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Here's a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, incredibly, according to this indictment, Russian hackers were listening, and they acted, targeting Clinton's campaign e-mails for the very first time just hours after Trump dared them to do it. Important to note in the context of Trump sitting down with Putin. That the indictment claims all 12 defendants were acting in their official capacities as part of the Russian intelligence agency, the GRU.
Evan, what can you tell us about the indictment? Joining us now Evan Perez, CNN's justice correspondent. What more can you tell us about this indictment? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This indictment has a lot of great detail, incredible detail. It lists the names of these Russian military officers, it lists the units they worked for inside the GRU, which is the Russian military agency -- military intelligence agency. And it goes into great detail into what was an orchestrated campaign using computer servers around the world, using cryptocurrency to try to hide the attacks. But it appears the U.S. intelligence agencies had a window and they could see who they were trying to communicate, and the computers they were using as they tried to hack the Democratic national campaign committee, members of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
And they tried to disseminate those stolen e-mails through a number of places, one, of course, is WikiLeaks, which is not named in the indictment, but we know based on the circumstances that is what they're talking about when the indictment talking about the organizations that were being used to spread some of these e-mails. As you mentioned the president is going to be sitting down with the Russian leader in a couple days, we know from the president and the Russians themselves they say they didn't have anything to do with it. This indictment gives the president a lot of ammunition to say we know who it did, where they are, and we would like you to turn them over, so they can face justice in the United States. We don't know if the president will be inclined to do that.
CABRERA: Evan Perez, thank you for that update. Joining us now to talk all about this CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, a former criminal prosecutor. These are Russians that we are talking about who have been indicted, 12 Russians, members of the intel community in Russia. Will they ever see their day in court here on American soil?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They are high ranking members in the equivalent of the Russian CIA, it's called the GRU over there. Will they see their day in court? It's hard to say. Certainly, Russia won't extradite them. But it'll impact their travel into countries with an extradition treaty with the United States. The U.S. can also use its financial system to make sure they don't use U.S. banking and other things that people rely on, even from foreign countries. So, there's a penalty to be paid to be under US indictment even if you are not in custody.
[14:10:00] CABRERA: So much to talk about. Let's start with the timeline here. This key moment during the campaign when Mr. Trump, then candidate Trump called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's e- mails and now according to this indictment, that very night these Russians attempted to spear fish her e-mails, quote, for the very first time. What do you make of that?
CALLAN: That is a remarkable coincidence. Trump defenders have always said that statement was just the president joking, he didn't really mean it. But to see that the Russians actually began this spear fishing operation, spear fishing occurs when they infiltrate your computer and try to get you to open e-mail that has something malicious in it that allows computer contents in it to be copied. So, they begin spear fishing right after the president says there are 30,000 missing emails, Russia should be looking into this. That's going to be quite an embarrassment to the president. CABRERA: Could that spell legal trouble for the president? Even if it wasn't intentionally or directly coordinated?
CALLAN: I think his problem is political not legal. That wouldn't be a crime for him to say such a foolish thing unless he was in cahoots with the Russians. One of the things missing from the new indictment is there are no American citizens listed in these indictments --
CABRERA: And, in fact, there is a point made within the announcement of this indictment that there were no Americans in this indictment facing any allegations of a crime. It does say that Americans were contacted by these Russian actors, but there is no evidence that those Americans knew they were Russian officials.
CALLAN: That's right. I think Trump supporters are going to say this is just another indication that there's no actual link to the Trump campaign. Yes, the Russians were trying to interfere in the election, but the Trump campaign had nothing to do with it.
CABRERA: Does it clear any of the members?
CALLAN: No, it doesn't clear anybody. One thing we have to remember is we don't know the scope of the Mueller investigation. We don't know what evidence they have that's going to be revealed in the future. Right now, we're up to, I think, 25 Russians under-indictment for tampering with the U.S. election. That's a substantial amount of tampering going on. It shocks me that the president would meet with Putin, given that the top operatives in the GRU unit are spying on the United States hacking with computers. That usually would break a presidential summit, not have one continue.
CABRERA: With me now is a Democratic congressman who's been calling on the president to cancel his meeting with President Putin. Congressman Steve Cohen, he is a member of the judiciary committee. Thank you so much Congressman Cohen for being with us. What is your reaction to this indictment?
REP. STEVE COHEN, (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think Robert Mueller and his team have done an outstanding job. This was a difficult investigation to go back and find the exact hackers, where they were from. They used many ways to try to hide the payments and hide the sources and make it appear it was Guccifer. Robert Mueller is to be commended. It means we are at war with Russia. Russia is not a competitor, Russia is a foe. There's no difference between what happened hacking computers and getting information and using it than going into the Watergate and burglarizing the Democratic national committee's headquarters and using that information. This is parallel. The Russians have interfered with our elections, they committed a crime, they are a foe. The president should not look at them as a competitor we need to get close to. Need to continue our sanctions and we need to be strong in our insistence that this not occur again and that the perpetrators be handed over for prosecution.
CABRERA: So now you and other Democrats are calling on President Trump to cancel this summit with Putin. What would that accomplish? COHEN: I don't think there's anything the summit can accomplish right
now. Putin has consistently said I was not involved in the hacking of your computer, your involvement in your elections, and the president has said I believe him when he says that. Well, the president can't believe Putin, Putin is a notorious liar. Once KGB, always KGB. He has lied about so much. I met with Russians just last week in a bilateral meeting between American congress people and the duma members. I was frustrated with the duma members lying about the plane being shot down over the Ukraine and claiming it was only social media. There were no facts.
[14:15:00] When the Australian and Dutch governments just come out with reports of direct links to the Russians and the Russian weapon that shot that plane down. They denied the deaths of 297 people. They denied the killing, that higher ups that haven't been brought to justice. We know it just wasn't those Chechens, there were higher ups.
The Russians lie that's their MO. For the president to meet with a liar, you cannot do with any kind of foundation of accepting what he says, that he would do anything. He's as untrustworthy as Kim Jong- Un.
CABRERA: Look, we know Trump was briefed on this indictment earlier this week and here's what he's been saying about Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's a competitor, he's representing Russia, I'm representing the United States. In a sense we're competitors. Not a question of friend or enemy. He's not my enemy. I know you'll ask will we be talking about meddling? I will absolutely bring that up. I don't think you'll have any, I did it, I did it, you got me, there won't be a Perry Mason moment here, I don't think. You never know what happens. But I will absolutely firmly ask the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The president also continues to call this a witch hunt. If he meets with Putin, doesn't cancel the summit and Putin continues to deny Russia's election meddling, which you expect, what should president Trump's response be?
COHEN: President Trump's response should be we know you did it, we want you to turn the 12 people in Russia over to us to be tried, they'll have a presumption of innocence to see if they can interfere with our elections and if they did, they should have justice meted out to them. If he refuses to do that, he should end the summit and take off. This was an act of war, interferences in our election, burglarizing the computers of the DNC and Mr. Podesta and Ms. Clinton are acts of war and implemented to affect the outcome of the election. This is not a competitor. He doesn't represent Russia and we don't represent the United States. He is our foe, he's an enemy, he's a crook. He's responsible for the GRU, the GRU answers to him. He should just as well have been indicted.
CABRERA: Thank you for your time --
COHEN: Let me give you something here. I said something at the hearings yesterday about purple hearts, which another network named for a four-legged animal has made a big deal about. I regret using the term purple heart, I used metaphorically not literally, I never thought purple heart should have been given to agent Strzok,
but I do believe that he was being attacked because the FBI and the Mueller investigation were under attack. They do not need to be attacked. They are strong units defending America and these indictments prove it once again.
CABRERA: Do you think the Democrats are to blame for the politicization of the Mueller investigation at this point?
COHEN: I don't think so. The Democrats have been supportive of protecting Mueller. I have a resolution, we have 184 signatures on it to protect him from being fired and all Democrats have signed onto it, other than Walter Jones of North Carolina, we're trying to protect him and see the investigation goes according to the facts and the truth comes out. All of these efforts with Lisa Page and Peter Strzok are trying to show bias, and what Mueller comes out with is wrong, and people that listen to the four-legged animal station, will listen to it and won't believe it. The president knows there's bad news coming down the line with the Russia investigation with his involvement, his family's involvement and his campaign's involvement that he's sowing seeds not to be listened to.
CABRERA: The president does something he isn't known for doing today, apologizing after he trashed Theresa May's handling of Brexit. So why is the president changing his tune? The president meeting Queen Elizabeth with all the pomp and circumstance. Find out what happened inside. That's next.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Welcome back, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. More breaking news on the indictments, a dozen Russians for interference in the election. It's coming three days now before President Trump is to meet with Vladimir Putin.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN Correspondent: I'm John Berman live in London with CNN special live coverage of the president's third day in the United Kingdom. He's on his way to Scotland after he had tea with Queen Elizabeth. Thousands of Brits are boiling over on the streets of London protesting his presence in their nation. And adding to the fuel to the fire the president's bombshell bashing of the British prime minister in an interview with the tabloid, "The Sun" owned perhaps not coincidentally by the president's friend, Rupert Murdoch.
[14:25:00] This article went public just as he prime minister was hosting the president at a state dinner. In their joint news conference today, the president denied criticizing the prime minister minutes before actually apologizing for that criticism. Listen to a little bit of what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: She's a very smart, very tough, very capable person. I would much rather have her as my friend than my enemy. I said I want to apologize when I saw her. Fortunately, we tend to record stories now. I would say I give our relationship, in terms of grade, the highest level of special. Boris Johnson, I think would be a great prime minister. I did give her a suggestion, I wouldn't say advice, and I think she found it maybe too brutal.
That's your decision. Whatever you're going to do is OK with us. Just make sure we can trade together, that's all that matters. I think it's been bad for Europe. I'll say it and say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves because you are changing culture.
It was testy at the beginning but at the end everyone came together. I think I would have a good relationship with President Putin if we spent time together.
I don't think we'll have any I did it, I did it, you got me. There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think. But you never know what happens. This was an Obama disaster. If I were president, then he would not have taken over Crimea. Look up Dr. John Trump at MIT, he was my uncle, many years a professor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The Putin/Russia side of it that's a whole other story. Let's focus on the United Kingdom for a moment. Joining me now CNN international anchor, Hala Gorani. And Kate Andrews, US political columnist for the "London Business Daily" also news editor of the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Kate, it's interesting our reporting is behind the scenes the president contrite, apologized, basically, to the British prime minister, we heard him do it there. That is not something you hear from President Trump nearly ever. This follows the interview the interview with "The Sun" where we criticized her for her Brexit strategy and basically endorsed Boris Johnson saying he would be a great prime minister. Did he clean up the damage?
KATE ANDREWS, US POLITICAL COLUMNIST, CITY A.M. NEWSPAPERS: It's rare you get an apology from Donald Trump, maybe he realizes that he overstepped that he overstepped the mark. I don't think he can clean up the damage completely. The article in "The Sun" when it came out last night that was it, that was damaging. The president of the United States saying the special relationship is in some kind of crisis or peril because of the trade relationship that he feels Ms. May is blocking off is not something that you can easily rollback. I think he tried to do it very much so actually in the press conference, but he didn't quite manage it.
BERMAN: It looked like he blinked. Is there any way Theresa May can claim some kind of win here? That she got him to at least back down?
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: I think after the interview came out overnight in which he was seen as bashing the prime minister, the fact that he came out and said, look, I apologize to her and called portions of his own interview fake news, which was a bit confusing to everybody, I think yes, she comes out looking slightly less weakened if you will, but she is politically extremely weakened in this country.
Her Foreign Minister resigned, her Brexit secretary resigned, she's holding onto a razor thin majority in parliament here in this building behind us thanks to a Northern Ireland party. She's very fragile, politically, if you will. I think as a result of this news conference, she comes out looking like maybe this is a political win for her, but it was a 180.
That "Sun" tabloid Rupert Murdoch owned tabloid interview was stunning, and we all got whiplash when he started lavishing praise on the prime minister, calling her terrific, tough, a great negotiator and I'd rather be her friend than her enemy. So, he dialed it back and then some. I believe this was an effort in damage control.
BERMAN: He claims he did not criticize her in that article, he did.
GORANI: He said, that's why you record these things. The "Sun" recorded the interview and put out some of the audio recordings. And we have actually aired some on CNN.
BERMAN: It's interesting because there were people in London saying this was a chance for a love actually moment where Theresa May could go out and chide the president of the United States publicly. You can do that. That just doesn't happen. But she did draw lines, take immigration, which is a very contentious issue in the president has been very critical speaking and really explosive, loaded dog whistle language about the damage he sees immigration doing to Europe.
[14:30:00] Saying Europe is losing its culture and it's changing the fabric here. She said, I don't see that. It's been good.
ANDREWS: Absolutely, Ms. May would not come out the way Donald Trump does to talk about immigration. That's just not her character. But in the U.K. immigration is a hot topic, it was a big part of the Brexit debate when the U.K. decided to leave the EU. But it's not spoken about in the same terms that Donald Trump has brought to America. I think people in the U.K. recognize it's been a wonderful thing not just for London but the entire United Kingdom. I think because Europe is so close people are much more used to seeing people of different cultures. I think it's right that she pushed back there. I think she came across well today, she came across strong. The biggest problem for her despite his explosive language, and it is explosive, Donald Trump has revealed a weakness in her Brexit strategy.
BERMAN: You used the world explosive, that was the president's approach in Brussels with NATO, he dropped a bomb and claimed NATO is stronger than ever. He came in here dropped a bomb in the interview and now claiming that the special relationship is more special than ever. Is it?
GORANI: Look, once the U.K. Brexits its most special relationship will be with the EU. That's its most important trading partner. It's important for the U.K. now to stay on the good side, on the right side of Donald Trump. So, rolling out the red carpet at Blemheim Palace for instance, tea with the Queen --