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Trump-Putin Summit; Hamas, Islamic Jihad Say Cease-fire Reached with Israel; U.S.-North Korea Talks; World Cup 2018. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 15, 2018 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president prepares to go to Helsinki, we will be looking ahead to his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Plus after a day of intense violence, Palestinian militants say they have reached a cease-fire with Israel.

And the World Cup final, France versus Croatia, as the kickoff nears, we ask, where did the celebrations go?

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.

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VANIER: U.S. president Donald Trump departs his golf resort in Scotland in the coming hours for a historic summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. On Monday morning, Mr. Trump will meet with the Finnish president and then he and Mr. Putin will spend the rest of the day together in talks, followed by a joint appearance before the media.

President Trump will return to the U.S. on Monday night. But hanging over the summit is new evidence of Russian meddling in the 2015 presidential election. Mr. Trump said he will raise the issue with the Russian leader but his latest tweet seems to blame his predecessor, Barack Obama, for not dealing with it at the time.

Our Phil Black joins us from Turnberry, Scotland. Nic Robertson is in Helsinki.

Phil, what is the president doing today?

Do we know if he is preparing for this meeting with Putin?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, today marks the end of President Trump's stay with America's closest ally, a visit that at times has been unpredictable, disruptive, even difficult for his host, the British government.

And we know, by the end of the day, he will go to Helsinki to pursue that often stated aim, of achieving a closer working and personal relationship both with Russia and his Russian counterpart, President Putin.

Since President Trump has been here in Scotland, at his Turnberry golf resort since Friday, we have seen very little of him. He has declared that his intention here in Turnberry was to prepare for that meeting, as you suggest, with President Trump and also to play a little golf.

We know that he went around the course yesterday. And given President Trump's passion for the game, it is perhaps likely that he could hit the course again, before he departs Turnberry here in really just a few hours' time.

VANIER: So let's take it to Helsinki then, when the story will really pick up. Nic Robertson is there.

The special counsel's latest move hit really close to the Kremlin. Twelve Russian agents, part of Russian military intelligence, were indicted Friday essentially for attacking American democracy.

Do you think that changes Mr. Trump's meeting with Putin?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: If it has, it has not changed it in the way that the President Trump seems to be coming at this issue. He tweeted yesterday that the hacking of the U.S. elections or the meddling in the U.S. elections by these Russian military intelligence agents was the responsibility of President Barack Obama, because it happened under his watch and that something should have been done about it at the time.

But President Trump, in the past couple of days, has described the way that he'll face off, to use those words, if you will, with President Putin, would be to say, on this issue of meddling in the U.S. elections, did you do it?

Don't do it again, to which he said he expects President Putin to deny it.

The Russians have denied it. So, on the face of it at least, the calculus of President Trump coming in to this, very much appears to be the calculus, going into his first face-to-face with President Putin at the Hamburg G20, which was to call President Putin about the meddling and then move on. That was how it was described at the time. It was far more important to move on.

At that time, according to the Russians and according to the way the Russians framed President Trump, putting it to President Putin, President Trump lacked the evidence to back up this claim of allegations of meddling.

Now he has that evidence in his hands. However, he does still seem to be framing this as a President Obama problem, not his problem. However, the secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has now said that the Russians are actively getting ready, preparing the ground to meddle in the U.S. midterm elections this year. She said that any attack on United States democracy should be -- is unacceptable.

So the ammunition is there, if you will, for President Trump to accept that things are happening, that Russian meddling is happening on his watch and he has got the evidence as well of when they happened in the 2016 elections.

Publicly, though, he has not said that he will change his --

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ROBERTSON: -- approach any differently, to when he met President Putin last time, which was essential to raise the issue and then just move on.

VANIER: Phil, how did Donald Trump react to the news of the indictment against those 12 Russian military officials?

BLACK: Yes, as Nic has been touching on there, Cyril, defiant, I guess, which is the classic Trump playbook when it comes to any sort of allegation concerning Russia. And yes, he blamed his predecessor, President Obama, the Obama administration, and asked the question why President Obama has not done more.

What he has made very clear is -- and the White House has made very clear -- is that it is not going to change his intention from proceeding with this meeting with President Putin, that it will continue regardless.

And that is despite some pretty strong, passionate calls from some of his political adversaries in the United States, saying that this, these latest allegations, these latest indictments should cast into doubt whether or not this meeting should proceed.

Indeed, he has been told he should not proceed with it. But President Trump, as always, and as he said several times on his tour through Europe, on this occasion, believes that building a closer relationship with Russia, with President Putin, is ultimately, he believes, better for the United States and better for the world.

He has said once again, again, as Nic was touching on there, that he will firmly ask questions about Russian interference in the U.S. electoral process. But he has also said he does not really expect to achieve anything. He's not suddenly expecting President Putin to confess that it did in fact take place -- Cyril.

VANIER: Nic, is it actually feasible for the U.S. and for Russia to have this great relationship that Donald Trump wants, when you look at their competing interests around the world?

ROBERTSON: And I think that gets to the crux of it, Cyril. The crux of it is there are pressing global issues that the two countries, at least communicating, can do something to avert what could be large problems now and turn into even bigger problems in the future.

There's no doubt there's a huge amount of pressure within the United States on President Trump. Now there's this publically stated evidence of Russian meddling, for there to be some kind of action taken against Russia, some kind of sanctions.

But the issues that perhaps these two presidents could work towards -- and one of these was laid out in Hamburg at the G20, when they met face to face there, this was part of their conversation. And, indeed, that part of the conversation really has failed to materialize.

But it was this issue of addressing what is -- what is cyber intrusion, what is essentially cyber warfare, when do you cross a red line?

When does an attack on a democracy, which is a modern act of war, when does that cross a line?

So there was going to be sort of a conversation established between the countries about how do you deal, what are the red lines with cyber intrusion and all these issues.

That doesn't appear to have happened. But the big, big issues that are pressing right now, the war in Syria is essentially coming to an end. You are much more in a position now of having the potential for an escalation between Israel and Iranian forces.

The United States could have influence on Israel; Russia could have influence in Iran on this. On Ukraine, the cease-fire is not holding there, the Minsk agreement. Here again, the United States could play a significant role with Russia.

So there's a potential on those huge issues that could get worse. And that is before you talk about working together on counterterrorism, before you talk about working together on the changes to the Arctic, the ice cap melting and the impact that will have on the long-term political implications of that sea being opened up.

So there are many, many big issues that could be addressed and some other, more substantive ones that need to be tackled between the two countries in the coming decades.

VANIER: All right, gentlemen, thank you both. Phil Black in Scotland, Nic Robertson in Helsinki, where Donald Trump will be traveling to at the end of the day.

With us now from Birmingham, England, is Scott Lucas. He teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham.

What in your view is this meeting actually about?

I mean, we should not actually be having to ask this question. But there have been a lot of different topics thrown around.

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: There's a couple of levels. There's a personal level here, and that is that Donald Trump admires Vladimir Putin. In many ways, he wants to be like Vladimir Putin, the very strong, one might even say authoritarian leader, who has obedience from his subjects.

So for Donald Trump initially, this was a photo opportunity to be alongside Putin, shaking hands. At another level, a second level --

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LUCAS: -- it is now Trump and some of his advisers, treating Russia not only as an equal but as a possible partner. And that is rather than treating the European Union as a partner because, in fact, Trump and close advisers like Steve Bannon now want to break up the European Union, rather than seeing NATO as their foremost partner, after Trump undermining it in the past week, Russia is the partner.

Whether we are talking about the Crimea, Eastern Europe, the Middle East.

And then at a broader level, it is clearly a pushback by Trump, which is against the idea of, there's no collusion here, there's no witch hunt here. How can you say that?

I'm here with this man and we need to respect Russia. In other words, Donald Trump will say to Vladimir Putin on Monday, did you interfere in the 2016 elections?

Putin will say, why, no, of course not.

And Trump will say, oh, OK, well, that's all right then.

VANIER: But does he have a point though?

When the U.S. president said, there's only so far I can take this issue?

What else is he going to do?

Vladimir Putin will obviously deny it and, beyond that, the U.S. already has sanctions on Russia, the U.S. has not recognized the annexation of Crimea.

What else is the U.S. president expected to do?

LUCAS: Well, what he could do is stop trying to block the investigation by attacking his own agencies that are carrying out the inquiry, the FBI, the Justice Department, special counsel Robert Mueller.

What he could do on a wider front is actually take the issue of cyber operations seriously. For example, the White House dismissed its top official for cyber operations last year, has not replaced him.

What he could do is take the evidence quite seriously, more which has emerged this week, that Russia not only may have tried to conspire with his campaign but also tried to affect state elections by affecting the voting process.

In other words, Donald Trump could try to cooperate with an inquiry into the most serious foreign intervention into a U.S. election in history rather than trying to obstruct it. VANIER: Why in your view do you think he refuses to call out categorically and unequivocally Russia and Vladimir Putin for U.S. election meddling?

LUCAS: At a minimum, one could say that Trump sees Russia as his preferred partner, especially Vladimir Putin as his preferred partner, with the idea that the U.S. really does not need the European Union, doesn't need NATO, doesn't need the North American Free Trade Agreement that the U.S. and Russia and possibly China, who Trump also admires, at least its leader, Xi Jinping, they should run the world.

At a wider level, one could say as a possibility that Donald Trump is compromised, that the latest evidence of Russian intelligence officials interfering in the 2016 election, names and organizations, WikiLeaks, which may have been involved, it names a Trump adviser, who may have been involved.

And there's evidence beyond that indictment, evidence that was given -- or I should testimony given by a man named Peter Smith, a Republican operative, last year, that e, too, was seeking information from Russian hackers.

And he names a senior Trump campaign official who asked him to do that.

VANIER: By the way, I just want to clarify a point of detail, the indictment doesn't name a --

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VANIER: I'm assuming you are referring to Roger Stone. It doesn't name him. But yes, we do believe it's Roger Stone and he himself on CNN also said he believes he is the person targeted in that indictment, just a point of detail there.

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VANIER: Scott Lucas, thank you so much for joining us as always.

LUCAS: Thank you.

VANIER: Now football's biggest game is almost here, up next, we'll look ahead to the World Cup final when France takes on Croatia.

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VANIER: To the Middle East now, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad say they have reached a cease-fire with Israel. The Israeli prime minister's office says it has no comment about those reports. Over the last 24 hours, the Gaza border saw an uptick in fighting.

The Palestinian health ministry says two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an Israeli airstrike amid mortar fire from Gaza. Ian Lee joins me from Jerusalem.

Ian, has the fighting stopped now?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been about seven or eight hours since the last exchange of fighting. So it seems that this latest round is over, where we saw more than 200 rockets and mortars flying from Gaza into Israel and Israel responding with dozens of strikes on Hamas targets.

This is the largest aerial campaign by Israel since the 2014 war. But we have to look at what sparked all of this. And that started on Friday, when you had the protests along the border.

And this is where we usually see these upticks and violence, along the border fence, with the protesters and the Israeli army squaring off, Israeli soldiers usually at these protests have killed Palestinian protesters, Israeli army has said that they are defending themselves from firebombs. And last Friday, a grenade was thrown.

But we are waiting to hear what the prime minister's office has to say further. He is meeting with his cabinet today, as well as the security cabinet is also meeting to discuss this latest uptick in violence.

But according to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they say a cease-fire has been reached. And one thing that we've noticed in these cease-fires is the increasing role that Egypt has been playing, a very pivotal role, powerful role, to bring the cessation of violence to a halt, where you have this relative calm along the border.

But this is a calm that could be destroyed at any moment with another flare-up of violence.

VANIER: Ian Lee, reporting live from Jerusalem. Thank you for your reporting.

Staying in the region, there's developing news out of Iraq, where a wave of protests is the latest challenge for Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi. The unrest is mostly in southern and central Iraq, at least for now.

Demonstrators are angry, over things like unemployment and a lack of basic services. They are staging rallies. They have stormed government buildings and security forces have reportedly been put on high alert.

U.S. officials are working on details of getting the remains of 200 fallen U.S. service members back from North Korea. The two sides are meeting in the Korean demilitarized zone.

But in light of the recent summit with both countries' leaders, there are much wider implications to this. Andrew Stevens joins us from Seoul with the details on this.

Andrew, Donald Trump announced a while ago now that North Korea would hand over the remains of U.S. service men.

So do we know what is holding things up?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: He'd actually tweeted that some of those remained had already returned to the U.S. In fact, he said that at a rally and that proved not to be the case.

As you implied, Cyril, this is all tied up with a broader issue of denuclearization. The North Koreans were supposed to meet with the U.S. on Thursday. They stood the U.S. up and instead rescheduled to today, Sunday.

And the negotiations have been going on for several hours now. And we understand they are still going on. Local newspaper reports are saying that it's all about details on when the remains will be shipped back to the U.S. and how.

But there's also suggestions that the North Koreans could be looking for wider issues as well, attaching other conditions to the return of these remains. I mean, it's -- we cannot say with any degree of certainty what they could be at this stage. But it's important to remember that the North Koreans asked to negotiate with the U.N.

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STEVENS: That is the United Nations' command. They are in control at the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, even though it is the U.S. contingent there that are actually speaking to, which is being led by a U.S. general.

But under the UNC, it's been suggested that maybe the North has tried to tie in an end, an official end to the Korean War. Remember, it's only an armistice agreement at this stage, war ended in 1953.

But maybe the Koreans could be tying that issue into the return of the service men.

So it's very difficult at this stage to see exactly what the North Koreans want. It has been a difficult start to the whole denuclearization issue. It has raised questions to just how serious the North is to actually denuclearizing in the way that the U.S. is expecting it to be done.

We certainly have seen a lot of anger and resentment from the North about Mike Pompeo going to Pyongyang and doing what the North Koreans say is unilateral denuclearization demands. They're not doing it step for step simultaneous freezes as the North wants to see.

So maybe they are trying to push this through at this meeting. It's a very sensitive issue, the return of remains, 200, as you say and still many thousands of U.S. soldiers believed to have died and still are unaccounted for in North Korea. So it's a sensitive issue and it's something that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump have already agreed on. But as yet, we don't know just how far the process has moved forward today after the very difficult or that nonstart on Thursday.

VANIER: All right, thank you. Thanks for the update. Andrew Stevens, reporting live from Seoul, South Korea. Thank you.

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VANIER: It's been just more than a month since the outbreak of World Cup fever. The only cure now is the World Cup final.

Croatia will look for an upset in the coming hours, as they take on France in Moscow. We will soon know who the number one team is but we already know who is number three. Belgium beat England 2-0 Saturday to win the third place playoff. It's the Red Devils best showing ever at the World Cup.

And no matter who wins the final, this World Cup will be remembered for its upsets but its goal celebrations, maybe not so much. A new article in "The Wall Street Journal" said players keep celebrating in the same boring ways. The authors claim more than three-quarters of all goals resulted in group hugs.

And if that weren't routine enough, more than 40 percent of scorers stretched out their hands like wings.

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VANIER: Andrew Beaton from "The Wall Street Journal" joins us.

Andrew, you did your homework. You are one committed journalist. You went back and watched every goal in this World Cup, of which I believe there were 161, correct?

ANDREW BEATON, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, entering the semifinal game, that's what it was.

VANIER: So tell me what your meticulous research has revealed?

BEATON: You know, so a colleague and I watched all the goals, thinking how better way to celebrate the World Cup and see what it's all about than try to document and take meticulous notes on every goal that was scored but not just the goals.

Like we have real statistics on the real sports. But statistics on the celebrations and see what we find. And you know, when we think of World Cup history, whether it's the women's World Cup with Brandi Chastain, there's all these historic celebrations.

So how are people celebrating bowls these days?

And we actually found out, it turned out to be quite boring on almost all of these. These guys just run in to the corner and have a big hug. VANIER: All right, we are going to put up your numbers. And I want to say, this is your work, these are your numbers. But basically, almost 80 percent of the time, the way people celebrate, the way players celebrate after scoring a goal, is by hugging.

BEATON: That is, that is correct. And you know, sometimes they hug in front of the goals; frequently, they run to the corner to hug. Sometimes the group hug happens before they even reach the corner and they get cut off.

But there's just a lot of hugging.

VANIER: So it's hugging, it's run to the corner and it's arms outstretched. Those -- that's how people are celebrating now. And you suggest -- rightly so -- so we are seeing the hugging, we're seeing the arms. It's a little dull. They could give the fans a bit more.

And the interesting thing, now, you see, I am no historian in goal celebrations, but you suggest in your article, as you did now, that we have not always been in the dark ages of goal celebrations.

BEATON: Yes, exactly, and it's one of these things that we also really associate with the World Cup. We go and we see the fans decked out in their unique colors. They have their one-of-a-kind chants that only that country has.

And you think that it's this real celebration of creativity and nationality and individuality and all these sorts of things --

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BEATON: -- and then you come here and it's all uniform. And when you go back through your mind -- we mentioned Brandi Chastain earlier --

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VANIER: Let's put that up on screen, you mentioned it. The picture, you know, the picture's obviously worth 1,000 words. She just ripped off her jersey -- and granted this was -- she had just won the 1999 women's World Cup for the U.S.

BEATON: Right, and that's also just -- but it become an iconic moment. It's so raw and so impassioned that it became a real trademark moment for the World Cup. And so I have other celebrations that weren't even after World Cup winning goals. Like you think Ireland's Robbie Keane has done a cartwheel or he did --

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VANIER: We have Brian Laudrup that we can show --

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VANIER: -- you mention in your article as well. BEATON: Yes, and there's Brian Laudrup doing the posing on the beach for Denmark in 1998 and everybody remembers that. And it's not like people really remember Denmark at the World Cup so often. But they do remember that celebration.

And it shows how these moments can carry on; when you think about this World Cup, there's not too many of them.

VANIER: Was there anything, though, in this year, that impressed you?

BEATON: So I really liked -- we really liked Colombia at one point. They all -- they clearly had choreographed a little thing, where they all ran to the touch line and did this thing where they interconnected their arms and wiggled them. That was pretty cool.

Jesse Wingard on England did a nice little celebration with his hips that made teammates. But it was so rare to find these that we were thrilled to see them when we were watching the tape.

VANIER: There's one I feel, that, you know, despite the greatness of your article, you did not do full justice to and it's the cartwheel by the Nigerian player, Victor Moses. I feel you did not give Victor enough love in your article. It was pretty awesome.

BEATON: Yes, so, the Victor Moses cartwheel, there's some that we wanted to mention but just got left on the cutting board. But absolutely. And we absolutely love that. But we just want to see more of that, we want that to be the norm.

We want to see just more players absolutely show off their athleticism like that in their celebration and show off their creativity. And we just saw almost all of the celebrations and the theme from the numbers was that they were something -- and sliding, sometimes running, sometimes going over to the corner just to have a big group hug all the time. That was our takeaway.

VANIER: All right, Andrew, thank you so much, I admire your dedication.

A quick take, who wins, Croatia versus France in the final?

BEATON: Let's go upset with the Croatians.

VANIER: OK, not playing it safe. Andrew Beaton, thank you for joining us.

BEATON: Absolutely. Take care.

VANIER: Well, I guess watch the finals game for any funky goal celebrations. Who knows, Andrew will be watching, as will I.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got the headlines for you in just a moment. Stay with us here on CNN.