Return to Transcripts main page
NATO: Russia in Crimea Threatens Ukraine's Independence; L.A.- Based Company Can Plan Your Next City Tour With A Twist; Russian Military Officers Hacked Voter Information in 2016 Election; "The 2000s" Premieres Sunday on CNN at 9pm ET. Aired 12n-1p ET
Aired July 14, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- and putting their prejudices aside, helped unify a country. David McKenzie, CNN, Northern Thailand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, one more hero in that cave. We have more just ahead in NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.
Hello, it is 12:00 here on the east coast. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York in today for Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks so much for joining me.
The Trump/Putin summit set for Monday still on. This, despite new charges in Mueller's Russia probe against 12 Russian intelligence officers, as well as growing calls from lawmakers to cancel the sit- down between the two leaders entirely.
The White House is confirming, though, the summit is still on. The two leaders will, after their sit-down, speak to the press in a joint press conference. All of this as President Trump weighs in on the latest indictments by blaming his predecessor instead of condemning Russia or mentioning Russia at all.
CNN's White House correspondent, Abby Phillip, she's been traveling with the president. She's in Glasgow, Scotland. So, Abby, today, has the president in these tweets or in the statements said, listen, Russia, this is a bad thing, and we want it to stop?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Of all the things that are being said, both by the White House and by the president, that is the one thing that it seems to be very much absent from all of these statements.
The president, in this tweet this morning, talking about the indictments that were handed down yesterday by the Mueller investigation, and he said this, the stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama administration, not the Trump administration. Why didn't they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September before the election? Once again here, the president blaming his predecessor for this problem and not at all mentioning Vladimir Putin.
Mentioning the fact that these individuals were high level officials in the Russian intelligence operation and were named with a lot of evidence that they were involved in this hacking.
It kind of mirrors the statement that we got from the White House yesterday, that seemed to vindicate President Trump, emphasizing the fact that no Americans were named, but not at all condemning the underlying actions here.
Now President Trump is here in Scotland preparing for this trip to Helsinki where he will meet with President Putin. He said that he will bring up election meddling, but there's a lot of reason to expect here that the president is not exactly going to confront Putin about it.
Whenever he's asked about this, he's saying, I'll bring it up, but Putin keeps denying that he did it. At one point in the last year, he's told reporters that he believes Putin, that Putin -- that Putin believes that he's telling the truth when he says that he didn't do it.
Of course, no one in the United States and in the intelligence community and even among Republicans in Congress believes that to be true except perhaps for the president. Meanwhile, to his earlier point about whether President Obama did, in fact, do something about it, there is actually a lot of evidence that the Obama administration tried to in the months leading up to the election.
Confronting Putin -- Obama confronted Putin in a meeting, face-to- face. Their counterparts spoke about this and Obama administration officials warned state-level election officials to be on the lookout for possible intrusions into their election system. That's the key here.
We are months now away from a new election cycle in November. We're having a midterm election. There's a great risk here that this could be done again. That there could be additional attempts to interfere in this election. Meanwhile, President Trump has not yet indicated to his own intelligence official that he wants them to step in and do something about that -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: And that's quite an alarming omission, Abby Phillip, traveling with the president, thanks very much.
Russia, of course, is responding to these new indictments, as it often does, saying they are an attempt simply to spoil the upcoming summit.
CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins us now live from Helsinki, the site of that summit. Nic, I wonder from Russia's perspective, do they view it as helpful to them when the president echoes their own propaganda, in effect, right, that they had nothing to do with this?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it certainly will help what they would hope to get out of the summit here. Because, you know, in short when they say there's no evidence, which is what they've been saying in this particular case, this is just a criminal case being made up for a political reason, recycling old fake news is another thing they've been saying about it.
This gives them a stronger hand. If we look back to the last time President Trump confronted President Putin face-to-face or the first time he did it at the G20 in Hamburg last year, the Russian response was just to brush it off.
But it was also instructive about how President Trump approached telling President Putin this. We learned about it afterwards from the Russian foreign minister. This is how he explained what President Trump did in that situation then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:05:12] SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): President Trump said, and I'm sure either he or Rex Tillerson will say that this campaign of alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections is at a strange nature because there hasn't been a single fact in all these months of allegations, which was recognized by those in Congress who are leading this movement at a certain point and brought various administration members on the carpet.
President Trump said he's heard Putin's very clear statements that this is not true and that the Russian government didn't interfere in the elections and that he accepts these statements. That's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: So what Sergey Lavrov is saying there is that President Trump didn't present this in a very strong way and it was very easy for President Putin to deny it. You know, this time, President Trump seems to have the opportunity to go in, take this -- some parts of this indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers, and present it to President Putin as the evidence.
Now, no one expects President Putin to suddenly roll over himself and say, you know, hands up, it was us, we did it, you know, we're not going to do it again. No one expects that. President Trump doesn't expect it, he's already told us, because he said, I'll say, did you do it, and he'll say, no, I didn't do it.
No one expects President Putin to say we did it and apologize for it. But the idea of going into a summit, and this would be the Russian perspective, where they could get away with things like this, means it will be easier for them to get concessions out of President Trump on other things.
If President Trump goes in and very firmly presents the case that there is evidence, then he accepts that Putin's not going to own up, but if he presents it strongly and firmly, less likely that Russia would get easy concessions from President Trump because we've seen how that works out, easy concessions let's say, with Kim Jong-un over North Korea, so far not making good on their side of it.
SCIUTTO: No question, Nic Robertson, much appreciate it. Just to highlight Nic's point there, the president is accepting Putin's denial over the assessment of an attorney general that he appointed and intelligence chiefs that he's appointed.
Well, even as those indictments hang over the Russia summit, there are new warnings from the head of the U.S. National Intelligence agencies that the threat to U.S. elections is not over, that, in fact, it's continuing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It was in the months prior to September 2001 when, according to then CIA Director George Tenet, the system was blinking red. And here we are two decades, nearly two decades later, and I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Just to highlight, if you think this is political, that's a former Republican senator there, appointed by this Republican president to run the director of National Intelligence Agency, who is making that assessment.
Joining me now Tim Naftali, is a CNN presidential historian as well as a professor at New York University, Cynthia Hooper, associate professor of Politics at the College of History at the College of the Holy Cross, Greg Brower, a former U.S. attorney, and Karoun Demirjian, a CNN political analyst as well as congressional reporter for "The Washington Post."
If I can start with you because you know a little bit about history and presidential history, can you think of a previous incident where a U.S. president has taken the side, in effect, of a foreign leader --
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No.
SCIUTTO: With, you know, a grave national security threat like this?
NAFTALI: This would be a farce if the implications were not so significant for our country. The president, by his response to the indictments, is sending a message to the entire world, meddle in our elections if you help me. If you help me and my people, please meddle because that's exactly the message he's sending.
There's another element to this. We don't know the details yet, but this is the question we must ask. Those indictments are based on information that President Trump probably already knew. He was probably told this when he was President-elect Trump and when he was given the background to the assessment.
Which means for a year and a half, President Trump has known that Russia intelligence acquired a domain name, D.C. leaks, to use, to poison our democracy, and he has done nothing.
So, we can have a debate about what President Obama did. But President-elect Trump and President Trump, when he became president, has known about this and has done nothing. In fact, he has done the opposite. He has sent messages to the kremlin to say, it doesn't really matter. That is a major problem and will Congress stand up to him about this?
SCIUTTO: Cynthia, let me ask you this. You saw the Russian foreign minister there when we were speaking to Nic Robertson, Sergey Lavrov, in effect repeat phrases that the U.S. president has said about this.
[12:10:11] You know, that there's no evidence, that, you know, as you heard president say, he accepts President Putin's denials. How powerful is that for Russia to have the U.S. president echo their propaganda, right, because we know Russia's lying.
CYNTHIA HOOPER, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA AND EAST EUROPEAN STUDIES, COLLEGE OF THE HOLY CROSS: It's extraordinarily powerful. And it doesn't help matters that this summit has rather inexplicably been scheduled for the day after the World Cup final soccer game is being played in Russia, and this month-long tournament has kind of gone off with great success.
FIFA president has called it the best World Cup in history, and that has allowed Russian media to capitalize on the surprise of these tourists who have had a fun time in Moscow and hold that up as evidence of how much the country has fallen victim to this alleged, like, anti-Russian hysteria that's being sort promulgated in the U.S. media.
And so now, if Trump actually does go to Helsinki, meets with Putin, and has some kind of cordial interaction with him or even reaches a deal on something quite concrete like Syria, the Russian press is going to be able to sort of say that any naysayers to this new kind of (inaudible) are simply again echoing this old story of Russophobia and that plays very well to the Russian people.
SCIUTTO: Karoun, typically -- not just typically, I can't think of an exception though, the Republicans who will criticize the president publicly on this are either folks on their way out or formers or John McCain really. Is there any push on Capitol Hill among Republicans to impose further sanctions or to push the president's hand to impose further sanctions on Russia in light of these new indictments?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In a concrete way, no. There's certainly quite a lot of rhetoric about we have to get tougher on Russia. We should get even more tough, but we can't because the Europeans aren't with us.
Nobody's actually taking a step to say I'm going to draft a bill that gets even harsher on Russia than the one passed just about a year ago at this point that stepped-up sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
And say that we are doing that in light of what we've learned from these indictments that Mueller has been putting out. You are also seeing at the same time a lot of calculated deference to the president.
There has been the open question about should President Trump meet with President Putin in the wake of this indictment, and a lot of Democrats have been saying absolutely not and Republicans are saying look, we still have to talk with each other. We own 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads and these are important relations.
I trust the president to be able make a judgment call on this and to be tougher on Putin than he has in the past. That's all a question of faith though at this point. What results at that meeting, as we've been discussing, can have significant consequences for how Russia interprets, you know, if it's going to kind of get away with this kind of thing Scott free.
Russia's not a nation that extra diets its citizens so the idea this indictment will lead to some trial where the individuals named in the indictment are actually charged and jailed or otherwise penalized is probably a stretch.
So, this is out there for the president to use and act on politically and diplomatically. The question is will he. Right now, it seems like he's not inclined. Members of Congress that are in his party are not inclined to quite trim down the whip on him yet to do so.
SCIUTTO: Not inclined not only to impose further sanctions but to say publicly, forcefully, that he believes that Russia interfered in the elections. In fact, he expresses doubts.
Greg, looking at these indictments, they do not indict any Americans. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general announcing them made that clear. However, I wonder, looking there, did the special counsel tie his hands on the possibility of indicting U.S. persons going forward?
GREG BROWER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: No, not at all. I think what we've seen with the indictments so far including the most recent indictment is the natural progression of an investigation of this type.
If, in fact, there is sufficient evidence to indict U.S. persons, I would imagine that we will see that as a next step or a couple of steps down the road. But no, this makes perfect sense to me, based upon my experience with such investigations.
SCIUTTO: All right. Tim Naftali, Cynthia Hooper, Karoun Demirjian, and Greg Brower, thanks very much for breaking it down.
As Putin and Trump prepared for that face to face meeting the people of Ukraine are watching closely. Does this meeting signal a resolution for the Crimean Peninsula where, we should just remind you, there's a war going on, backed by Russia, on Ukrainian territory?
[12:15:03] But first, the U.S. says it has a plan to reunite thousands of children separated from their families at the Mexican border. What are those plans? And will they work this time? Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. The Trump administration now says that it does have a plan to reunite migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border. Currently, there are still more than 2,500 children being held at various centers around the country away from their parents.
Over the next two weeks, those families eligible to be brought together again will reunite at about half a dozen government facilities. Health and Human Services officials, that's the agency in charge here, say the streamlined vetting process should speed up the reunion so that they can meet a court-imposed deadline of July 26th.
Joining me is CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's been following this story as well. So, Polo, how do we know this plan is better than the plan to reunite the kids under 5 when the government missed the deadline in the end.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And most important how do we know that this is actually working? We decided to see for ourselves. We tracked down one parent who happens here in the New York area yesterday after being apprehended along the border illegally in late May.
[12:20:14] Not long after that apprehension took place, he was held in a detention center in Texas. And his little boy, his 5-year-old little boy who you see there, was brought to a facility here in the Bronx, at one of these government-funded facilities.
Well, yesterday, we were there exclusively to capture that moment when both father and child walked out of this facility after having not seen each other for -- in about six weeks. Want you to see how this moment played out here and of course, the message that this particular father had for other parents. The parents of those roughly 2,500 kids who are still waiting to see their parents again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: What do you tell other parents that are still waiting to see their kids again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
SANDOVAL: To fight and be strong because eventually they will see their children again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: An important distinction here. The July 10th deadline has obviously come and gone. This was the court order that was requiring the government reunite those children below the age of 5. The next one on the horizon, July 26th, that's when the government is requiring the rest of those children, ages 5 and up, to be back with their parents again. I spoke to the attorney of this gentleman yesterday who says this court order has certainly been giving them the upper hand here as they try to force the government to sort of expedite this process because that's clearly what the government is up against here.
Trying to get roughly 2,500 kids back with their parents again as we saw during the last deadline that certainly was a tremendous challenge and a very difficult logistical challenge for the government. So, we're definitely going to be watching, waiting, to see what happens in that --
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this question, because the president has, you know, his response to this in effect said, listen, if you don't want to get separated, don't illegally enter the country. To be clear, were all of these families most of them seeking asylum because of conditions back home where some of them jumping the fence or as it were or is it a mix of the two?
SANDOVAL: That the main drive, the main reason why he came here was obviously trying to flee the violence in his native Honduras.
SCIUTTO: And he requested asylum? Many of them have requested asylum at the border? Is that correct or no?
SANDOVAL: In this case, he requested asylum once he was in custody. He ended up getting -- relying on a smuggler --
SCIUTTO: Got in illegally and then requested asylum.
SANDOVAL: He did not, however, get prosecuted under the zero- tolerance policy. So, that is also another question, why have we seen so many of these parents who have been threatened with getting prosecuted under the zero-tolerance policy, but then eventually released on bond?
The next big challenge for this father and many others just like him is to prove their case to the federal government that they deserve to be here. And as we've seen under the current guidelines issued by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, it's a very --
SCIUTTO: It's a lot harder to win that case now. OK, Polo Sandoval, thanks very much for clarifying that.
President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin is attracting international attention certainly but what will it mean for Ukraine? Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the ongoing Russian-backed war in Eastern Ukraine?
Later, just how did Russians hack computer networks and DENCE during the 2016 presidential campaign? We'll have a breakdown of just how sophisticated that cyberattack was.
[12:27:58] SCIUTTO: Hello. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Fredricka Whitfield. The world certainly will be watching the outcome of President Trump's high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is especially important to the people of Ukraine, why is that? Russia took control, annexed the Crimean Peninsula back in 2014.
That is part of Ukraine, but with several broken ceasefire agreements, the conflict continuous to simmer as Russian separatist attempt to deliver the region into the hands of Moscow with backing military activity in Eastern Ukraine as well. That's gone on for a number of years.
Alexander Hug, the deputy chief manager for the OSECE Special Mission to Ukraine. The OSECE's job there is to monitor the fighting. Alexander, thanks very much for joining us today.
ALEXANDER HUG, ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE: Thank you, Jim, for having me.
SCIUTTO: First, let me ask you to describe to our viewers, what's happening on the ground in Eastern Ukraine today? Is it a war going on there?
Special monitoring mission of the OSECE has been monitoring the ongoing violence in Eastern Ukraine since the inception of the conflict. Last year along, we have been registering our 401,000 ceasefire violations. This year, that number has already exceeded a hundred thousand.
This leads to a significant amount of civilian casualties. Last year, we have corroborated over 480 civilian casualties. This year, the number stands over 150 thus far. However, since first of July, the sides have sat down once again and recommitted to that ceasefire and numbers have slightly gone down, and the situation has somewhat improved but only temporary. As this week, we have seen some deterioration again.
SCIUTTO: Just to be clear, Russian-backed forces still occupy and control a significant portion of Ukrainian territory in the east, is that right?
HUG: Parts of the two eastern regions are not government controlled at the moment. Almost 500 kilometer long contact line separates government from non-government controlled areas. And the formations in areas beyond government-controlled continue to battle with Ukrainian sources on the other side.
SCIUTTO: NATO members are expressing their concerns over Russian -- the Russian invasion there. NATO's chairman even called it a threat to Ukraine's overall independence, saying it undermines the civility not just of Ukraine but of the region as a whole. Do you believe that Russia wants to maintain this territory, keep it for itself, in effect, make it part of Russia?
HUG: Look, Jim, I just mentioned, the last week, on 1st of July, the sides have recommitted through dialogue the signatories of the Minsk agreement, that is the Russian federation, Ukraine, on certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. And then the cease-fire violations went down.
Last week, there was a week without a civilian casualty. So clearly orders were issued last week. They were largely obeyed. It is possible this can end.
And dialogue made this possible. And ultimately to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, more dialogue is necessary.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. President Trump recently echoed the Kremlin on Crimea specifically. Saying -- making the case that, well, maybe Crimea should belong to Russia. What was your reaction to those comments?
HUG: The OSCE's special monetary mission has come into Ukraine on the 21st of March 2014, just after these last days in February, when the operations went on in Crimea. We have a team stationed there in Kherson, just at the peninsula's end to the mainland. We continue to monitor the situation there and will continue to do so and we'll report our findings in our public reports on our web point.
SCIUTTO: But in the view of the OSCE and NATO and the E.U., Crimea is Ukrainian territory, is it not, now occupied, in effect, stolen by Russia?
HUG: The mandate of the special monitory mission extends to all of Ukraine. This includes the areas it currently does not control.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Final question, if I can, as the president, as President Trump sits down with the Russian president on Monday in Helsinki, what would you like to hear him say to the Russian president about Ukraine specifically?
HUG: Well, I hope that more dialogue will bring more stability. The people in eastern Ukraine are waiting for this to end. They tell us it is not their conflict. They tell us they do not understand why this is continuing and have not seen a single day since at this day four years ago.
They have great hopes that more dialogue will bring more stability. And we've seen last week that dialogue can deliver and more dialogue is required.
SCIUTTO: Well, let's hope so. Alexander Hug, thanks very much for joining us.
HUG: Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, the Department of Justice has indicted 12 Russians in connection with hacking attacks on Democratic campaign officials. Just how did that hack work and what kind of information did they steal? That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:38:12] DAVE GREEN, CHIEF MYSTERIOUS OFFICER, MYSTERY TRIP: Hey guys!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey!
GREEN: Are you ready for your mystery trip today?
GREEN: Mystery Trip takes people to weird, cool, fun off-beat places and the hook is that, nobody knows where they're going until we get there.
Hey there, I'm Dave Green of Mystery Trip. Let's get serious.
Mystery Trip started in 2010 just in Los Angeles, and since then, it's grown to 13 different cities. It's a fun way to explore city, even if you lived there for 20 years. I'm going to show you things that you've never seen before.
Oh hey, what's up guys? And you're going to have a fun time doing. We tailor each trip to the size of the group.
Did you find a celebrity yet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
GREEN: Join the scavenger hunt. It's always a good icebreaker. It's a nice way to have friendly competition. Even if these people have work together every day.
You did all these?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
Mystery Trip originally started out as a side business but I was able to turn it into full time job. And I really feel like the luckiest person in the world because I figured out what I want to be when I grow up and it's a really cool feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. President Trump set to meet with Vladimir Putin as we continued to learn more about Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election hacking. Yesterday, 12 Russian military intelligence agents were indicted, accused of using fake names, stolen passwords, and a method called spear-phishing to accomplish their goal.
But, what exactly is spear-phishing? How did this have to work? CNN's Tom Foreman breaks it down.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Investigators say spear-phishing was involved in this process, this hack by the Russians. So what exactly is spear-phishing?
[12:40:00] Do you ever go to your e-mail box and you find yourself looking at an e-mail that looks like it came from someone you knew and demanding some sort of immediate action? It might be your credit card company, it might be the bank. It might be a store you're shopping saying something like you used your credit card, we have a little problem, could you send us the numbers again.
That's essentially what they're saying happened in this case. Some hacker got into these systems, in some cases, we're talking about officials in political parties. Now the case, we're talking about state election officials and sent e-mails that basically just said look, we got something we need to deal with here.
So, say you're a political leader and you get a note late at night in the campaign saying hey, I'm from the I.T. Department, a little problem here, can you give me your sign-in I.D. and your password? Don't want you to get locked out of the system.
You're tired, you're exhausted and you say sure, I'll send it. When you do that, in this case, what was happening, investigators say, it was opening up a big back door to your system to these hackers.
The other way in which this appears to have been happening, and going to the hackers who in fact were tied to the Russians, was through something called malware. Malware can be assigned to your computer or put on to your computer just that same way through an e-mail link or in other ways as well. They can hack in.
And what the malware does is in a more automated way, it just is scanning your computer constantly, taking information like your contacts, your documents, your passwords. It can even grab screen shots. And again, transporting all of that right back to Russian agents. Those are the two key ways electronically that this information was being hacked, and that's what the investigators are going after.
SCIUTTO: Tom Foreman there, breaking it all down for us. Joining us now is David Kennedy, he's a cyber security consultant and analyst known as an ethical hacker, a white hat. He joins me now to talk more about this.
And so David, one thing that has struck me about the Russian hack, from the very beginning, and I've been covering this for more than two years, is a lot of the tools that Russia used are pretty blunt in technological terms. Spear-phishing is, you know, it's not some complicated secret NAS tool, right? It just relies on one person, like John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, clicking on that e-mail, clicking on the link, and opening up his computer to the malware.
Is that unusual or is that how a lot of state cyber hackers work? DAVID KENNEDY, CYBERSECURITY CONSULTANT: There's a difference in tactics depending on groups. If you look at this specific group, it's the Russian intelligence group called the GRU which is notorious for using these types of techniques. And they're very effective and they're very easy to tear down and rebuild new infrastructure and move differently in different directions. So it allows them to be very nimble, to get access in the systems very quickly.
And then when they're busted, just tear it down, build a whole new infrastructure which is what we saw here versus the NSA that typically uses zero days what we call exploit that can rip into computer systems that are highly sophisticated that costs a substantial amount of money. You're talking millions and millions of dollars of development for these types of tools. Very different approaches for how the different agencies work. This one's definitely very effective as we saw back in 2016 and we continue to see today.
SCIUTTO: And is that the essential fact there that even Russia, this powerful state with an enormous hacking operation, it still uses stuff like spear-phishing because it works?
KENNEDY: Absolutely. And that's what we see attackers still using today. I mean, corporations, we do these types of hacks for some of the biggest corporations, financial institutions, government -- for government installations. And it's so effective of how this can work.
All you have do is create something that's somewhat believable for a user. They click a link to enter their connections or open a document and all of a sudden now they have full access to your computer, your e-mails and everything else. It doesn't take a lot of work.
And Russia doesn't really have to change their tactics. It's been working, it hasn't stop, and it's definitely something that causes maximum damage with little investments.
SCIUTTO: (INAUDIBLE) I've covered this, you know, oftentimes they will make the e-mail look pretty legit, like they might change one letter in it or something so that, you know, plausibly you can look and say, oh yes, that is my company or that is my, you know, my college or something that's e-mailing me here.
When you looked at these indictments on Friday, though because, you know, kind of laid out more of kind of the bigger picture of what Russia was trying to accomplish there. What do you think was most notable? What did you learn about the extent of the hack and the way it was carried out?
KENNEDY: This indictment actually blew my mind from a security perspective. Because we've been tracking this specific group for a long period of time. This group is also known as fancy bear which is tied -- so we've known for a long time tied to the GRU. But we haven't known the exact people involved in it.
This group goes back to the early 2000s, hacking NATO, during the French presidency of Emmanuel, hacking that infrastructure, hacking the White House. I mean, they've been going after our critical infrastructure like the energy grid and a lot of other areas for a number of years. We've never known exactly who they were.
And the fact they released -- the Mueller investigation released this much amount of detail around how they're actually able to track them and they actually tracked a lot of their infrastructure through cryptocurrency and bitcoin. They're able to find out who these individuals were and release their names which is a huge thing for us, for technically we called attribution. Tracking something back to an individual person or a state agency, and it's massive for us.
[12:45:07] This group has been a pain on our side of the United States for almost a decade. It's something that we really are looking at heavily especially in our security community to figure out how much extent of damage they had.
SCIUTTO: And it also undermines that point that you often heard from Trump or his supporters like, what's the evidence, how do we really know? I mean, if they're tracking them back to individuals, they've got an electronic trail as it were.
David Kennedy, thanks very much for breaking it down.
KENNEDY: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, we're going to take a closer look at the new CNN Original Series "The 2000's." The show breaks down major events that rocked the beginning of this new century and of course continues to impact events today. Please stay with us.
[12:50:11] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Tomorrow, the CNN Original Series "The 2000's" is back with an all new episode which examines the George W. Bush administration from the historic 2000 election to 9/11 and the war on terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a righteous war. We had every reason to go to Afghanistan. We gave the Taliban so many opportunities to give bin Laden up and they refused.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE United States: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against the Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Around the world, there was enormous support for the war in Afghanistan. There was a sense that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda had attacked not just the United States but the security of the global community. The U.S. military mission to overthrow the Taliban was very swift. It took only about six weeks to force the Taliban out of Kabul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tackling the Taliban wasn't that difficult. Toppling a government is one thing. To track down individual fugitives, that was difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's approach to this is that it will be continuous but that it will be broadly based and it will be economic and political and diplomatic as well as military, overt and covert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The concept, especially by Don Rumsfeld, was we want a small footprint. And there was some wisdom in that. They sent in a bunch of CIA officers with suitcases full of money and they hired a bunch of tribesmen to go after bin Laden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Joining us now, CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali. You know, I look back at the -- I was at the Pentagon in September 11th, 2001. It does not seem like 17 years ago. Did anyone expect at that time that we as a country would still be fighting in Afghanistan, these 17 years later, and in Iraq 14 years after the Iraq invasion?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. And that's partly because the mission shifted. I mean, the problem now is that Afghanistan is an unstable place. Do you leave Afghanistan and then take the risk that it becomes a Petri dish again for terrorism.
SCIUTTO: And that the Taliban comes back? Tell us about the forces at play here. First of all, you had President George W. Bush following -- if we think 2016 was a difficult moment, a disputed election. Decided ultimately by the Supreme Court on political lines, right by 5-4. And what, eight months after that, he's faced with the greatest attack on American soil ever. Really, a remarkable turn of events.
NAFTALI: Remarkable. First of all, if you would have asked George W. Bush in that first eight months, what kind of presidency do you expect to have, sir? He would have said, well, I'm going to focus on domestic issues.
SCIUTTO: Yes, no more nation building.
NAFTALI: Yes. And I'm going to be a compassionate conservative. I'm going to give the Americans their money back. The federal government doesn't need to have a surplus. And things changed.
You know, I've often wondered what would have happened to the debate about Al Qaeda had Al Gore become president. There's a nasty partisanship right now about Russia. And it's intervening in our politics.
There wasn't a partisan discussion of Al Qaeda after 9/11. Bill Clinton had tried his best and George W. Bush not -- hadn't tried as hard, but he certainly saw bin Laden as a threat. And Americans understood this is a problem for us as a people and we're going to deal with this in a nonpartisan way.
And the partisanship we see today in discussing Russia did not exist after 9/11. Unfortunately, it would start existing after the invasion of Iraq. And one of the things about the show is that you see the pivot. You see the nation coming together, the images of 9/11 are still searing.
You see the nation coming together behind the president. You see the president leading the country. And then making a fateful decision to shift targets from Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.
SCIUTTO: Remarkable. With effects on the war if Afghanistan, right because it was the terms of resources. But then all -- and we're still living through the effects of that war in Iraq as well.
NAFTALI: Indeed. I think that the Bush -- I think that the Trump presidency is, in part, a product of what the war in Iraq did to the Republican Party. Because Trump was --
NAFTALI: -- he may not have been against the war at the time, but he certainly used the war to gin up support among disgruntled Republicans. So without the war in Iraq, I don't think you get the Trump presidency.
SCIUTTO: Interesting. Well, listen, it's worth watching.
[12:55:00] It will certainly bring back memories for you as it has for me looking back at those years. A remarkable decade.
Tim Naftali, presidential historian, thanks very much.
Please be sure to tune in. An all new episode of "The 2000's" airs this Sunday at 9:00 Eastern Time only on CNN.
We have much more just ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts just in a couple moments. Stay with us.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, let's get started with the political chaos that's surrounding that highly anticipated Trump/Putin summit. The meeting is still on in case you haven't heard. And the White House says that the two leaders will speak to the press after their sit-down. All of this after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's latest indictments in the Russia probe. Those indictments had sent cries throughout Washington for the president to cancel his --