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Special Coverage Of The Historic Summit Between President Trump And Russian President Vladimir Putin; A British Official Telling That Investigators Now Believe The March 4th Attack On Sergei Skripal And His Daughter, Yulia, Was Most Likely Carried Out By Current Or Former Russian Agents; France Won The World Cup; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 15, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: President Trump arrived there just a short time ago. Wolf, take it away.
[19:00:04] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Ana, thank you very much.
I'm here at the Allas Sea Pool behind me. You can see Finland's Presidential palace. That is the site of tomorrow's big meeting between the President of the United States and president of Russia. The two leaders will come face to face just days after a grand jury back in Washington indicted 12 high-level officials from Putin's own government for their cyberattack on the 2016 Presidential election in the United States.
And while the stakes for this summit here in Helsinki are very high, the President by his own words is trying to keep the bar low.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing bad is going to come out of it and maybe some good will come out. But I go in with low expectations. I'm not going in with high expectations. I don't really -- I can't tell you what's going to happen, but I can tell you what I will be asking for and we will see if something comes of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta is here in Helsinki with us.
Jim, let's take a closer look at how this historic day will go down in Helsinki. It starts just a few hours from now. 5:25 a.m., that's eastern time we are talking about in the United States, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, he will arrive here in Helsinki from Moscow. Shortly after that, he and the President will sit down for a meeting and that's expected what, to last for more than an hour, just the two of them, then a working lunch. Then possibly we are told the two leaders will speak to reporters, have a formal joint news conference. Then it's all over by shortly after 10:00 a.m. eastern time when the U.S. President is scheduled to leave Helsinki and head back to the United States.
Jim, basically the two hours will have an hour and change together plus more meetings with aides. What's the plan for what they are going to talk about?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Wolf. And that's going to happen in about 12 hours from now. They will have an initial 90-minute meeting according to the White House, scheduled one-on-one. The President, Vladimir Putin and their translators. And then they will have that expanded bilateral meeting that should last about two hours. You will see other aides with the President with Putin in that meeting. And then both men are supposed to come out and have a joint news conference. That's how it has been describe on the schedule.
Now does that mean that both leaders come out and give statements and then they take off? My guess is, is that they will both be tempted to take some questions from reporters, as both of those leaders enjoy doing that. They enjoy sparring with reporters.
We do expect them to talk about the crisis in Syria. We do expect them to talk about the issue of nuclear proliferation and nuclear arms control. The question, Wolf, and it's the big question in all of this is will the President confront Vladimir Putin about election meddling in 2016. And more so than, and this has been the question the last couple of weeks, will the President ask Vladimir Putin about meddling. He has already done that. The big question is whether or not the President will tell Vladimir Putin to stay out of U.S. elections, stay out of the midterms in 2018, stay out of the Presidential election in 2020. That is the question.
Will the President of the United States do that, given the fact that the Russians have now been indicted in that indictment that was handed down by the justice department, by the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein on Friday.
It was as if the justice department was handing the President of the United States something to wave in Vladimir Putin's face. The question is whether or not President Trump will take that opportunity, Wolf.
And the only way we are going to know about that is when it actually plays out tomorrow afternoon and we ask both of these leaders about this at this joint news conference tomorrow afternoon.
The President, though, despite all of that has still been going after the Russia investigation, going after the Mueller probe. And he said that in an interview with CBS. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think we are greatly hampered by this whole witch-hunt that's going on in the United States, the Russian witch-hunt. The rigged situation. I watched some of the testimony even though I'm in Europe of Strzok. And I thought it was a disgrace to our country. I thought it was an absolute disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So the President there not only going after the Mueller investigation but also talking about Peter Strzok, which has been an obsession with people on the conservative end of the spectrum. And the fact that the United States, the embattled FBI agent has been accused of having political bias during the Clinton email investigation 2016 campaign.
But Wolf, as the President was heading into Helsinki, he posted some tweets. You have been hearing these White House officials saying don't call this a summit. This is only a meeting between these two leaders. The President then proceed to call it a summit in these tweets. But I think perhaps the most glaring thing that was in the President's tweets as he was heading into Helsinki, Wolf, he referred to the press in the United States once again as the enemy of the people, something that he stopped doing before that mass shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, a few weeks ago but he reprised that attack on the U.S. press as he was flying into Helsinki, which of course is something that is going take a lot of people, you know, by surprise around the world given the fact that he is meeting with Vladimir Putin, somebody who has oppressed the free press in Russia into a situation where they really don't have a free press anymore. They really don't have the capability of questioning Vladimir Putin in the Russian federation the way we do still, thank goodness, back in the United States, Wolf.
[19:05:29] BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us. Jim, thank you. Thank you very much.
And this just coming in right now. "The New York Times" is now reporting a very significant story. The same Russian military intelligence agency named in the Mueller indictment that was released in Washington back on Friday against 12 Russian military intelligence officers may also be responsible for the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom.
A British official telling "The New York Times" that investigators now believe the March 4th attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was most likely carried out by current or former Russian agents.
I want to bring in "New York Times" senior writer and terrorism correspondent Eric Schmidt who helped co-write this story in "The New York Times."
Eric, tell us what clues or evidence led British investigators to now believe this Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, may have been involved in the nerve agent attack in the U.K.
ERIC SCHMIDT, SENIOR WRITER/TERRORISM COUNTERPART, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, certainly, Wolf, the poisonings of two other individuals in Salisbury in just the last couple of weeks, one of them, a woman died of the poisonings, has given more evidence to investigators, British investigators, who have shared their findings with American officials as well.
So three different officials have told us that they now have relatively high confidence that the GRU, the intelligence agency -- military intelligence agency that you mentioned, is most likely responsible for the poisonings of Skripal and his daughter back in March. They have been able to -- they are narrowing down right now their investigation into the individuals they believe came into the country from outside of Britain and carried out this poisoning, which of course sickened Skripal and his daughter. They have survived. Two others, one is still hospitalized and the woman has died last week.
BLITZER: Yes, and we saw a picture of that other couple as well.
Eric, what's the relationship, give us a perspective between the Russian President Putin, who will be here in Helsinki. It's already after 2:00 a.m. local time Monday. He will be here later this morning. The relationship between Putin and the GRU, this military intelligence agency.
SCHMIDT: Well, obviously Putin was very close, a member of the KGB when he was part of the soviet spy agency so he's very well versed in not only that agency but what the GRU is capable of. And as Jim Acosta just relayed to you, right now the tensions between the United States and Russia certainly among the spy agencies, the national security officials is quite high. Not reflecting necessarily President Trump's comments but President Putin obviously would be well versed in how the GRU would be able to carry out such an attack if so ordered.
BLITZER: As you know, the Russians have denied being involved in the nerve agent attack in the U.K. Did you get a statement, did the Russian government weigh in on your story?
SCHMIDT: They did. They repeated their denials, Wolf, today when we reached out to them. So no change in their position there. But the officials we talked to say, again, most likely this was the GRU that was responsible.
BLITZER: Eric Schmidt of "The New York Times" reporting. Thank you very much for that.
One of the big questions heading into this summit here in Helsinki is whether President Trump will confront Russian President Putin over this poisoning, but also Russian election interference in the United States.
A handful of Democrats and Senator John McCain, by the way, they have called on President Trump to go so far as to potentially even cancel the summit over Friday's indictment of 12 senior Russian military officers for hacking the DNC, the DCCC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Others like Republican senator Rand Paul, however, not so certain the summit should be about accountability. I want you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think really we mistake our response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They are another country. They are going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same. (INAUDIBLE) studied this over about a 50-year
period in the last century and found 81 times that the U.S. interfered in other countries' elections. So we all do it. What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected. And I think because this has gotten partisan and it's all about partisan politics, we have forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:08] BLITZER: All right. Let's talk to one of Senator Paul's colleagues, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is joining us. He serves on the foreign relations committee.
Senator, what do you think the impact of Senator Rand Paul saying that what Russia did is really not much different than what the U.S. and other countries have done to other countries? What's your reaction?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I would submit that what we try to do is we try to get countries to have elections. There is no way we are interfering in democratically held elections around the country, so I just disagree with the premise.
BLITZER: How hard, senator, do you want to see the President, President Trump, push Putin on Russian election hacking in the United States? Would you want to see him demand, for example, that Putin extradite those 12 Russian military intelligence officers, the ones who were indicted on Friday?
FLAKE: In the past the President said that he has asked Vladimir Putin if he has done it and Vladimir Putin said no. Now it's not a question to be asked, it's a statement to be made. We know that you interfered in our elections. And yes, I do think that he ought to demand that those involved be extradited. I'm not holding my breath that it will happen, but certainly the demand ought to be made.
BLITZER: And give me your quick reaction. You just heard "The New York Times" report that maybe the same Russian military intelligence agency that was involved in the hacking in the Presidential election in the United States may also have been responsible for the poisoning of the former Russian spy in the U.K. and his daughter, and maybe another British couple in the U.K. How do you think the President, President Trump, should handle all of this when he meets with Putin later today here in Helsinki?
FLAKE: When you have a system of government like Russia has, it's no surprise that the military, in this case military intelligence, would be involved in something like election interference and also with things like the poisoning that went on. Typically in a dictatorial system they trust the military more than other institutions of government, so that's not surprising.
I do hope the President raises it and is forceful about it. I just hope that the President on a number of fronts, on Crimea. I see you there in Helsinki. I was there a week and a half ago with several other senators talking to folks who are right there on the Russian border who are very concerned about the President's seeming acceptance of Russia's annexation of Crimea. That's something I hope that the President raises and raises forcefully, that that annexation is illegal, and the presence in eastern Ukraine is also very detrimental as is the Russian presence in Syria.
BLITZER: President Trump was asked this weekend about his goals for this summit with Putin. Listen to this exchange he had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your goal from the Putin meeting?
TRUMP: I will let you know after the meeting. I have absolutely -- it was mutually agreed, let's have a meeting. I think it's a good thing to meet. I do believe in meetings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are you concerned, senator, the President at least so far he hasn't expressed any clear goal going into the summit?
FLAKE: Well, I am concerned. The President's rhetoric in the past has suggested that Vladimir Putin is not an adversary. Downplaying and basically flattering Putin just about every turn. That is concerning. If you have a summit based on that kind of backdrop.
So I do think that a summit could be useful. I do think that we ought to talk to the Russians at the Presidential level. But we have got to go in clear-eyed. And I'm concerned that given the rhetoric that the President has used, and again just yesterday and this morning talking about the EU as a foe, and basically making our friends into adversaries and adversaries into friends. It's just a bit unnerving.
BLITZER: Yes, it was pretty amazing when the President was asked to name America's foes. First and foremost before he mentioned Russia, before he mentioned China, didn't even mention North Korea, first and foremost, he mentioned the European Union as a major foe facing the United States.
BLITZER: Were you surprised to hear that from the President of the United States?
FLAKE: Well, perhaps not given what he has said in the recent past, but it is very surprising to hear an American President say that. The notion of a trade deficit being kind of an aggressive action, if a country is exporting more goods than they are taking in, that they are somehow the aggressor, that's completely new, but not new for this President. He has expressed these kind of sentiments before.
[19:15:11] BLITZER: The President of the European commission, Donald Tusk, responded to the President very, very bluntly. I don't remember a European leader saying something like this. He said this. He said America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news. Do you remember a time when a European Union leader has accused the
President of the United States of spreading fake news?
FLAKE: No, no. I wish he would have stopped for the first half of the sentence. The EU and the U.S. are good friends, that is true. But I don't think we ought to return snark for snark, so. But it's too bad that we are in this kind of relationship right now. We need the EU desperately, particularly our NATO allies, many are the same countries obviously. But boy, if you spend time in Latvia as we did a couple of weeks ago, Finland and Denmark and Sweden, those who are close to Russia, they have a far more enclosure-eye -- clear-eyed and intimate view of the Russian threat.
And I hope that the President sits down with the Finish President, I believe he is before he talks to Vladimir Putin and talks to others as well. So I'm very concerned about what might come out of the summit. A lot of our NATO allies are concerned about promises that might be made in terms of exercises, military exercises or troop placement or NATO expansion. I hope that those things are not on the table.
BLITZER: Were you surprised also that on the eve of the summit with Putin the President, once again he said it before, but once again at this specific moment only hours before the summit, he once again called the American news media the enemy of the American people. Did that surprise you at all?
FLAKE: Right. Well, again, given what he said recently, not so surprising that he would say it, but extremely surprised and dismayed that an American President would say it. That phrase, "enemy of the people" has a very noble pedigree with some of the most rotten dictators in history using that against the media in their own country. The last thing we need is the President of the United States stooping to that level and calling the press, which is really the guarantor of democracy, the enemy of the people.
BLITZER: Yes. Let me read specifically what he said to be precise. We might be able to put it back on the screen. Much of our news media, the President said, is indeed the enemy of the people. And all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct. This is why there is such hatred and dissention in our country, but at some point it will heal.
Senator Flake, thanks so much for joining us.
FLAKE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead of tomorrow's summit here in Helsinki between President Trump and President Putin, we are going to give you some insight into how Russia views the summit and how they are preparing for it.
Much more of our special coverage when we come back.
[19:22:14] BLITZER: This is CNN's special coverage of the historic summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Helsinki.
We just learned from "The New York Times" that the same Russian military intelligence agency named in the Mueller indictment released on Friday against 12 Russian military intelligence officers may also, may also have been responsible for the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K.
A British official telling "The New York Times" that investigators now believe the March 4th attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was most likely carried out by current or former Russian agents. This news comes only hours before President Trump and President Putin sit down for a one-on-one conversation at the Presidential palace here in Helsinki.
Let's discuss this and more with Michelle Kosinski, our senior diplomatic correspondent David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, a former advisor to several Presidents. Also with us, CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen.
Fred, you are based in Moscow. What do you make, first of all, of this "New York times" report?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's certainly is possible that the GRU could be behind us.
BLITZER: The GRU is the Russian military intelligence.
PLEITGEN: Exactly. GRU is the Russian military intelligence as opposed to the FSB which basically came forward from remnants of the KGB, the regular intelligence service. I mean, one of the things that we have to keep in mind is Novichok poisoning is a military grade nerve agent. So you would think that it is something that maybe be produced by the military if that is in fact what happened. And then you could presume that possibly the GRU would be the agency behind it.
Also they are obviously the ones that were just indicted. There are -- their people indicted by the Mueller probe. It's interesting because there are people in Russia who are saying that there's sort of a competition between the intelligence services there as well, the FSB as opposed to the GRU. And whether or not you might have the GRU trying to assert itself in that battle and try to be more forceful, whether or not that's part of it, it's hard to say but it's certainly possible.
BLITZER: You know, America's European allies, whether the U.K. or France or Germany, a whole bunch, they were deeply concerned about this summit that's going to take place in a few hours, even before these late-breaking developments.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right. And the timing keeps getting worse and worse. The surroundings of this keep getting uglier and darker. And what we see in this investigation with the novichok, higher and higher level potential involvement just as we saw with hacking in the U.S. election. Remember, the Obama administration said as soon as they did their investigation that they thought Putin had signed off on this. So we see the highest levels involved. It's harder and harder to call
these things fake news. But I know two people who continue to this day, almost to the hour to call it fake news and those people are Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
[19:25:03] BLITZER: And the President still has not directly, bluntly condemned the Russians for the meddling in the elections. According to the information released in the indictment against these Russian military officials on Friday.
I want you to listen to how he reacted to the charges. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration. I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had been defenses. And they were able to be hacked. But I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans too, but, and this may be wrong, but they had much stronger defenses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So he blames President Obama, blames the DNC, blames his predecessors. We don't hear him directly condemning what the Russians did.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We sort of do. There is some basis for blaming, you know, President Obama. They didn't do enough. I think that's mostly agreed to by Obama people. But nonetheless, this is a complete diversion, blaming the victim. It's a distraction to make that argument.
What we are learning about what happened in London, in the streets of London and in the American elections makes it plain there's something much more sinister going on, much more dangerous going on than President Trump has said and has acknowledged. And you know, what we know is general knowledge, you would know this better than I would, general knowledge is under Putin, the number of spies that have been sent out from Moscow has increased dramatically. It's back to cold war levels.
So what we are dealing with is a President Putin who is closely, closely tied in. These are vital appendages of his operation that we need to take very seriously because they really can threaten democracy, I mean. And you know, Putin is emerging as a sinister figure. Do you really wanting that as your friend in world politics? Do you really want to depend on what he is going to put promises he makes to you in Syria?
PLEITGEN: It is interesting. The Russians are quite open about that. I mean, they do come out and they say, look, we need a strong GRU. We need a strong FSB around the world because they obviously, they feel that America is infringing on them and they want to be the strong state. So they are quite open about the fact that they are strengthening these organizations and they are asking these organizations like the FSB, like the GRU, to do more than they have before. Now, whether or not this case is one of those things --
GERGEN: But they pose more of a threat to western democracy.
PLEITGEN: Absolutely. And the Russians are very open. If they want to strengthen their intelligence services and they want them to do more than they have in the past. They want him to get back to those (INAUDIBLE).
KOSINSKI: And even after all of this, we know from sources that Putin still wants to collaborate with the U.S. in these ways, with the cyber unit. We expect him to raise that during this summit. That was outright rejected the first time he raised it, that the U.S. and Russia would work together on this cyber security unit. So we expect him to raise that again.
It is possible that that could lead to at least some kind of talking about it. That would be something of a win for Putin. And that Putin will suggest that he has a role in North Korea's eventual denuclearization, offering some technical assistance. President Trump might say, OK, you can share with us your expertise in handling nuclear material. Again, that would be a win for Putin.
GERGEN: There are those who are arguing now that what came out of the Mueller investigation, the detail, the knowledge, actually it gives Trump leverage against Putin to say we know a lot more than you think we do. We have got a much better view into you than we think you do and that actually may help him in this negotiation. Do you think that's true?
KOSINSKI: It's possible. But you just don't know behind closed doors what kind of relationship Trump is going to go for with Putin. Is he going to hit on the right points in terms of leverage and might he actually in an attempt to get some kind of easy win or to say we are building the relationship or start from a better footing, that he could give certain things away that European allies are very worried about.
BLITZER: You know, Fred, I want to play a clip for you. The President was asked in an interview to tell us who he sees as America's major foe. I want to play the clip, hold on for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe. What they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How are the Russians likely -- you are based in Moscow and speak to them all the time? How's Putin and his advisor? How are they likely to react when he hears the President sort of put Russia, China, in the same category as the European Union? PLEITGEN: I don't think the Russians at all think that President
Trump thinks they are a foe. I think what we have been clear to getting signals, where the Russians thinks that President Trump badly wants better relations with Russia, but they think that it's what they call the establishment, which is Congress, for instance, which is the Mueller investigation, which is us as well, trying to undermine that.
It was very interesting to see with these new facts that came out, with these indictments that came out on Friday, the Russians were taking a very similar line to President Trump. They were saying this is nothing new. They were saying we are friends all before. It is a ploy.
I want to play a clip from Russian state TV about what they said is going on and the efforts that they claim are going on to undermine this summit. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:30:34] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They are blatantly trying to torpedo the summit because there is no other way to explain why. On the eve of the summit, the U.S. announced charges against 12 Russians who allegedly participated in the interference in the U.S. elections. In an instant, you could hear the cries to cancel the Trump/Putin meeting, but the meeting is crucial for the whole world more than ever before. The European political heavyweights are sure of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: That's Russian TV. That's something that you hear very similar from them a lot of the time. They think President Trump wants better relations but others are really holding him back.
And just -- in the run-up to the summit, I think that they believe that they are in the driver's seat right now because they think that the Americans are the ones that are coming to them. They had President Trump talk about wanting to meet Vladimir Putin. They had John Bolton go over to Russia to try and set things up. President Trump is already here waiting for Vladimir Putin, who have done at some point will come in. So they clearly believe that they are the ones who have very little to lose. I think as long as there's a handshake between President Putin and President Trump, that's already a win for President Putin because it gets him back on the international stage. Now they are going to wait and see what President Trump has to offer them.
BLITZER: I can only imagine how the Europeans are reacting to this statement from the President, asked to describe foes and he mentions the EU first. It's not going to -- there's a relationship that's strained anyway.
KOSINSKI: It's shocking and eye rolling but it's more of the same of what we have been hearing. At the G-7 saying that Russia should be a part of that group again, the G-8. And you know, there's a real concern that a better -- you know, if Trump comes out of this like we did great, you know. We and Russia are going to have a much better relationship and it's all happy and smiles, this is going to embolden some European countries who would like to lift sanctions and have more trade with Russia to do so, like Hungary, Austria, the new Italian government.
PLEITGEN: And one thing to that end, I have to say, is President Trump obviously attacked Angela Merkel in a big way at the NATO summit. So she has been the one that has been keeping those sanctions in place because there are a lot of European countries who wanted this lifted. She is known as someone who is a very pro-American chancellor. And for President Trump to go after her I think was something that really didn't go down well in some of these countries that want to remain tough.
BLITZER: And remember, she grew up in what was then East Germany under communist control.
All right, guys, thanks very much. Fred Pleitgen, David Gergen, Michelle Kosinski. Good conversation.
Important programming note for our viewers, I will be live here in Helsinki today now local time, tomorrow if you're on the east coast of the United States. I will be live from noon eastern to 2:00 p.m., once again 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in THE SITUATION ROOM covering every angle of this summit. I will be back.
Much more of our special coverage coming up. In the meantime let's go back to my colleague Ana Cabrera in New York with more -- Ana.
CABRERA: Wolf, great coverage there.
Now ahead of the summit, the face-to-face between Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin, we are going to take a look back at other summits between the leaders of these two countries. What can be learned from them? The weekly Presidential brief is next.
[19:38:00] CABRERA: As the world waits to see what developments, if any, will come out of the high-stakes meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, we are discussing the challenges, the risks, what success could look like, and that brings us to a special edition of your weekend Presidential brief. We normally highlight some of the most pressing national security information, but tonight we are going to take a look back at some of the lessons learned from past U.S./Russia summits.
So joining us now is CNN national security analyst and former national Security Council advisor Sam Vinograd. She spent two years in the Obama administration helping prep for the President's daily briefs.
So Sam, President Trump does have a long historical record on U.S./Russia summits that he could look to. What should be his takeaways?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the first lesson should be preparation matters. We know that President Trump did a lot of golfing this week and tweeting. We don't know how much he studied historical president. And we know that Vladimir Putin is preparing like his counterparts before him did. And when we look back at the 1961 Kennedy summit, President Kennedy prepared extensively on the substance but he had a lot of trouble preparing on how to match his counterpart's negotiating tone and style. His counterpart was incredibly aggressive and Kennedy walked away from that meeting feeling like he had been outmatched. He called it the worst day of his life. He said that he had been savaged. And there were real consequences because the soviets felt like they had come out on top in that meeting. Two weeks later they started building the Berlin wall. And shortly thereafter we had the Cuban missile crisis. So the lack of preparation on Kennedy's part almost had nuclear consequences.
CABRERA: We know Putin is former KGB. He has been studying Trump for some time. He's made comments that have placated him in the past. I'm wondering what else you can tell us about Russia's charm offensive.
VINOGRAD: Well, the second lesson that we could discuss is beware of Russian honey pots. There have been multiple examples in history where the Russians have used verbal cues, visual signals, to try to show affection and to throw various Presidents off guard.
We have this famous 2001 summit between President Bush and Vladimir Putin when President Bush famously said that he looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul and thought that it forebode of warming of relations between our two countries.
Well, to quote the eagles, Putin had lying eyes because it was not a moment of greater friendship or affection. Putin got actually more autocratic and less cooperative. And we just have to look more recently. Vladimir Putin is consistently flattering President Trump because he knows that it throws him off guard. And so if President Putin flatters President Trump during their one-on-one, it should actually raise alarm bells and not make Trump feel more comfortable.
[19:40:43] CABRERA: Of course there have been these bipartisan calls that are growing to cancel the summit after the 12 Russians were indicted on Friday. Did President Trump have to show up in Helsinki?
VINOGRAD: He didn't have to show up. In fact one of the most famous summits in recent history is a summit that didn't happen between President Obama and Vladimir Putin in 2013. They were supposed to meet in Moscow before the G-20 meeting and President Obama pulled the plug because Russia had offered asylum to Edward Snowden and the White House cited a lack of progress on bilateral issues. You could argue the same thing is true today. So President Obama didn't go to Moscow, he just went straight to St. Petersburg. And the North Koreans we know more recently have actually stood us up.
Kim Jong-un didn't bother to cancel, he just didn't send his team to meet with ours to prepare for the Singapore summit or even at the DMZ more recently to negotiate on these prisoner remains. In both cases, President Obama in Russia or the United States and North Korea, the show went on. We met at a later place in a later time. CABRERA: A lot of people will be watching to see if President Trump
does confront Putin about America's election meddling and how he may push him on that, how he may confront him.
And I asked Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, about one part of the election meddling, the hack of the DNC servers. And I specifically asked about the criticism from President Trump, that the DNC did not allow the FBI to examine their hacked servers. And this is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Has the DNC done everything in its power to make sure this doesn't happen again and to get to the absolute bottom of what happened? Have you turned over the DNC servers?
ROM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We have cooperated from day one and we continue to cooperate. And again, all you need to do is read the testimony of then director Comey when he was in front of congress. This is, again, another red herring. We continue again through our hiring, through our cyber practices to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Some criticized that response from Perez, specifically his unwillingly to directly address turning the server over to the FBI. We know that a security firm did investigate the servers and they turned that information over to the FBI. The FBI said they asked the DNC for the servers and the DNC rebuffed their request, but the FBI didn't subpoena the servers themselves, Sam. Why is that important?
VINOGRAD: I think it's important to keep in mind that the FBI will do everything that they can and that was proven in the indictments that came out last week to get to the bottom of what happened and to hold those responsible, responsible for what they did. And so if the FBI needed the DNC servers, I have every amount of confidence that they would get them. And I think that the President is just trying to distract from the real culprit here, Russia, in advance of his meeting because he is worried about actually confronting Vladimir Putin over what happened.
CABRERA: As always, Sam Vinograd, great to have you with us. Thank you very much.
Again, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin just hours away from their one-on-one after one leader called the media the enemy of the people. Spoiler alert, it wasn't the authoritarian leader. So what is the impact of this kind of language? We will discuss with a journalist who was previously jailed for doing his job, next.
[19:48:19] CABRERA: President Trump is about to sit down with a leader who doesn't put up with political dissent, who dictates what media covers in his country, who not only jails journalists but has also ordered the killing of journalists, according to well documented claims. Claims then candidate Trump defended Putin against.
The Russian leader doesn't value free speech, freedom of expression and the free press, freedoms that make America great. And yet less than 24 hours before Trump's face-to-face with Vladimir Putin, the President of the United States in an official statement is calling America's free press the enemy of the people.
Joining us now, Jason Rezaian, CNN global affairs analyst and "Washington Post" opinion writer. Jason was "the Washington Post" bureau's Tehran bureau chief when he was detained for 544 days by Iranian authorities on espionage-related charges. He was released in a prisoner swap in January of 2016.
So Jason, thank you for spending time with us. You obviously have a depth of perspective on this issue not many of us can fully grasp. What is your take on the President's rhetoric about American journalists?
JASON REZAIAN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, first and foremost, Ana, I think it is offensive, but you know, we can get past that. I think what's more important to look at is how dangerous it is for my colleagues and everybody working in the news media to have the President of the United States, who should be the biggest defender of press freedoms in the world pointing us out as possible enemies of the people of this country. It sends the wrong message and I think we have seen in the United States and in other countries democracies as well as authoritarian countries a trend towards violence against journalists and that's very disheartening, discouraging and frankly,
[19:50:10] CABRERA: I mean, does it fit well with you that the President of the United States once again is attacking the press as he is about to meet with a president who is called for the jailing and the murder of journalists in his own country?
REZAIAN: Not at all. And I think if you look back through the history of this country, there has always been a robust conversation between those in power and the press but there has always been a respect. And at the end of the day an appreciation for the importance of a free press in a democracy. And I think this is the first time in my lifetime that I can think of when we are facing this sorts of threats from the top.
CABRERA: We are also starting to hear more and more of these authoritarian al-Assad, Duterte, Madura, using this fake news mantra that the President so proudly owns. Do you think President Trump is actually enabling these strong men?
REZAIAN: Yes. I think it gives him cover. I think there was a time and a place where we had, as the United States of America a moral authority to say to leaders of authoritarian countries who may be allied or partners of the U.S. to say, hey, you know, take a step back. You have to let your press (INAUDIBLE). You have to be able to handle some descent and some criticism.
But these days they look to Washington to see that that is not the case here so why should they put up with the criticism there. And I think it is a bad sign, bad precedent and hopefully something that becomes a remnant of history before too long.
CABRERA: The President's fake news label seems to apply to any news coverage he just doesn't like. I mean, take his tweet today about North Korea. He writes there hasn't been a missile fired in nine months in North Korea. There have been no nuclear test. We got back our hostages, who knows how it will all turn out in the end. But why isn't the fake news talking about these wonderful facts? Because it is fake news.
Jason, you and I both know the fact is we have talked about all of this. He knows that. I mean, what is he trying to do here?
REZAIAN: Well, I think he is trying to divert attention from bigger problems that we have in this country right now and sort of divert attention from this meeting that he is going to have with President Putin over the next couple of days. And I think that fortunately the American people are bright and conscientious and paying close attention. And in the end the truth always prevails.
CABRERA: Jason Rezaian, as always, thank you very much for joining us and giving us your perspective on this important issue.
Coming up, France clenches victory writing history in the process but not without a fight from Croatia which also make history. Details ahead.
[19:57:12] CABRERA: Twenty years after claiming his first ever world cup win, France is on top of the world yet again. France went wild as Les Bleu beat out Croatia, 4-2, and the highest score in world cup finals since 1956.
French has some pretty notable accomplishment and they arrived to the top, the French coach becomes the third person ever to win a world cup as a coach and a player. And then there is French player (INAUDIBLE), he becomes the second ever teenager to score in a world cup final since 30 years ago. And although Croatia didn't pull off the upset, there was no shortage of celebration in the capital of Sagrev (ph). The Croatian team making history even without the trophy. This was their country's first appearance in a world cup finals.
CNN's Melissa Bell has more on the celebrations in Paris today.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many hours before the start of the match French fans were already cueing for the fan zone. The blazing sun did nothing to detract from the sense of excitement as France went into the final the favorites.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very exciting.
BELL: Waving flags and chanting 100,000 fans gathered in front of the Eiffel tower to watch, pray and cheer. One of the most promising populist (INAUDIBLE). But faced with the Croatian flag remarkable for its strength, the mood was tense and then explosive with each of France's four goals. By the final whistle the fans knew that 20 years on the world cup would finally be coming back to Paris carried by a sight as youthful as it diverse.
And it is here (INAUDIBLE) that the cup will be brought and where the celebrations are already well underway. For those old enough to remember 1998 or for those too young to care, France is once again a country united around the victory of a side that represents the very best of it.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
CABRERA: Out thanks to Melissa Bell. Congratulations to all of the French-Americans or French who are visiting America tonight.
That is going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. As always, thank you for spending part of your weekend with us. Don't forget to tune in to CNN as we have special coverage throughout the day tomorrow on this upcoming summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
"The 2000s" starts now.