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STATE OF THE UNION

Trump and Putin Set for High Stakes Summit Monday; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff; Interview with Sen. Rand Paul. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 15, 2018 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:00:14] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Finland face-off. President Trump heads to Helsinki to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may come out with something very exceptional.

TAPPER: With the eyes of the world on the summit, will it be a meeting of friends or foes? We're here live in Helsinki.

Plus, bombshell indictments. The special counsel charges 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking Democrats in 2016.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable.

TAPPER: President Trump blames Obama for letting it happen, but will he also blame Putin?

TRUMP: I don't think you'll have any, gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.

TAPPER: Top intelligence committee Democrat, Senator Mark Warner, and Congressman Adam Schiff will join us live.

And Diplomatic disruption. President Trump stirs up trouble in Britain. And muscles more money out of NATO partners.

TRUMP: Do you think Putin is happy about that? I don't think so.

But will the president stand up to Russia? We'll ask Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: We are live from Helsinki, Finland, and you're watching a special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

You can see the presidential palace behind me. That's where President Trump will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in just under 24 hours. The stakes for this one on one summit rose dramatically this week after President Trump's own Justice Department announced new charges and indictments against 12 Russian military intelligence officers as part of the special counsel's investigation, accusing the 12 of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a brand-new interview, President Trump is laying out his approach to the summit and saying he does not expect much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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 with high expectations. I don't -- I don't really -- I can't tell you what's going to happen but I can tell you what I'll be asking for and we'll see if something comes of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: In the same interview, and in the series of tweets this weekend, President Trump blamed Obama administration and Democrats for allowing themselves to be hacked by the Russians. The person that President Trump has yet to condemn for any of this, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CNN is covering every angle of the summit.

But first, I do want to know, we invited the White House to join us this morning to offer their perspective on this important summit. The White House confirmed an interview with national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton. CNN arranged our show and schedules and crews accordingly and then the White House canceled the interview for, quote, bad behavior.

What was the, quote, disrespect the White House took issue with? Well, nine minutes after President Trump attacked CNN, unprompted during a press conference in the U.K., our correspondent tried to ask the president a question. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: John Roberts, go ahead, John.

ACOSTA: Can I ask you a question, sir, since you attacked CNN?

TRUMP: No, John Roberts, go ahead.

CNN is fake news, I don't take questions -- I don't take questions from CNN.

ACOSTA: Well, sir, if you call us fake new, can you take a question?

TRUMP: CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN.

John Roberts of fox. Let's go to a real network.

ACOSTA: Well, we're a real network, too, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We're told that Ambassador Bolton was prepared to do the interview and we invite him to join us or anyone at the White House any time.

Our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins has been traveling with President Trump during this European trip.

Kaitlan, what do we know about President Trump's mindset heading into the summit?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, in the last two days, President Trump has been holed at his golf course in Scotland preparing for the summit with his aides and his advisers who are there, including the national security adviser John Bolton.

He's also played a little golf but also spoken with some world leaders, including the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Putin recent days. But, Jake, one thing the president has not done while he's been at the golf course preparing for summit in Helsinki is issue a critical statement in light of those indictments of the 12 Russian intelligence officers who are charged with attacking an American election. So far, the president has only blamed former President Barack Obama and the Democrats instead, issuing no blame for Putin himself or any of the Russian officials in part of that.

And that clip of the interview that you just showed, the president also said that he would let us know his goal for his summit with Putin after the summit has already happened. That's typically something we find out beforehand, but we do know that the president and White House so far have refused calls from Democrats to cancel the summit in light of those indictments and they are still going to move forward with it in Helsinki -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

[08:05:00] Let's talk more to some of CNN's excellent reporters.

Jeff Zeleny, let me ask you, usually before any sort of summit, there are a whole host of deliverables, items that have been agreed to before the event actually takes place, what are your sources telling us about preparations and possible deliverables for the summit?

JAKE ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there aren't many deliverables, that is the reason, and you heard the president right there say he was lowering expectations for this. The biggest deliverable is the sheer fact that they are indeed having a summit and that is an early victory for Vladimir Putin. No question about it.

The fact that President Trump is elevating him on the world stage days after the indictments -- but I'm told by a senior administration official, they believe the narrative here of meeting with Putin actually helps the Russian narrative back home. So, you would think it would be an awkward time but they believe it sort of fills directly into what the president has been saying that there was a witch hunt in his words and nothing was happening.

So, the president believes this is a chance for him to be seen on the foreign stage for the continuing business as usual. And they were never planning to cancel the summit at all. The president laughed at the idea and laughed at the criticism of all of that.

TAPPER: Michelle Kosinski, our State Department correspondent, we know the president has wanted the summit for quite sometime.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes.

TAPPER: What will clench the deal?

KOSINSKI: We are told by sources that his dissatisfaction with how things went at the G7 really clinch it and made him want to do this, because remember, at the G-7, he was saying that Russia should be allowed back in and it should be the G-8 again and they were kicked out for taking over part of Ukraine. But we're told there could be some things that come out of this.

So, the U.S. could gain -- you know, President Trump wanted this deal on Syria where he can get U.S. troops out, he can get the U.S. out of involvement there and have Russia basically take over at least a southwestern part for now, kick Iran out. I mean, it's unlikely that this is going to be anything more -- out of this summit than just the broad outlines of a deal like that. But there could be progress on that.

And, lately, we're told that Trump has been really fired up in private on extending the START treaty, nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation with Russia that one source told me that it's almost as if he just got some sort of mega briefing on this because he's never seemed to care about it much or talk about it in the past. Now, all of a sudden, this is what he's all about in terms of the summit. There could be progress in starting to talk about extending that treaty with Russia.

TAPPER: And, Nic Robertson, let me ask you, after Trump's performance at NATO and in the U.K., controversial performances to say the least, how is the international community, especially our European allies -- U.S. European allies, how are they looking at the summit?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: With grate trepidation, in a word. I think perhaps they're also going to be guided by what President Trump said before he left Washington, which was, I'm going to have a tough time at NATO, I'm going to have a tough time in the U.K., but not with President Putin. And I think when he said that, everyone wondered, well, how are you going to have such a tough time at least in the U.K., special relationship?

The reality was he went in and had a tough time and he did have a tough time in NATO. So, their concern is looking now, if those words were correct and it's going to have an easier time in President Putin, what concessions might he make. We're not far from the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, just across the sea and very concerned about Russia's activities, the way it went into Ukraine, the way it annexed Crimea, they wonder if they are going to be next. They've got NATO troops in there supported by the United States, of course, at the moment.

So, would there be a similar type of concession that President Trump kind of unilaterally made in Singapore with Kim Jong-un about diminishing military training exercises? Would that -- would NATO wake up on Tuesday morning to President Trump having given Putin some kind of agreement like that in the Baltic states in NATO? So, many more issues like that one.

TAPPER: And, remarkably, President Trump saying that, that he expected an easier time with Putin, even after he had been briefed on the indictments to come.

Thanks so much, everyone.

The special counsel charges 12 Russian military intelligence officials with hacking the U.S. election system in terms of both voter systems and also e-mails. Could Americans be next? The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, will be here.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I am Jake Tapper in Helsinki, Finland. We are live from Allas Sea Pool in Helsinki.

Tomorrow's Trump-Putin summit is taking place in the shadow of Friday's indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officials. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announcing the charges, detailing a Russian scheme to hack the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 and arranging the release of the stolen goods to influence the election.

National security experts say there's just no way this campaign by Russia's primary military intelligence agency would have happened without the direct approval of Vladimir Putin. And Russian election meddling continues to this day.

President Trump's own intelligence chief said Friday, quote, the warning lights are blinking red, unquote.

Joining me now is Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He's the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, thanks so much for joining us.

Do me a favor. Step outside your role as a Democratic congressman for just one moment and talk to us about this indictment as a former prosecutor. You worked in the Los Angeles branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for six years.

What do you see in the Friday indictments that other people, non- lawyers, non-prosecutors might not see?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, what I always look at in these indictments is what is included and what is left out. And included here, you have a Russian military intelligence driven operation that is taking place simultaneously with another operation by the Internet Research Agency that's focused on social media. So you have these two different operations, both with the same

objective, interfering in our election, trying to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

[08:15:00] But you also have the Russians probing and exfiltrating data from voter registration databases, going into a vendor for the software provided to voting systems and seeking to obtain that software with the potential aim in the future of intervening more heavily.

And finally, you have this very direct reference on July 27th, including the time in which -- the time of day in which the Russians, for the first time, go after a Clinton server, really seeming to head the call that day of Donald Trump to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

And that's very interesting to me because why do you include that but exclude any mention of the Russian's telling Papadopoulos that they have these same stolen materials? It says to me, much like the first indictment, made no mention of the Russian hacking scheme. The second indictment on the Russian hacking scheme also leaves a lot unsaid that may be the subject of a third indictment involving U.S. persons or that report to the Justice Department by Bob Mueller.

TAPPER: Yes, let's talk about the July 27th, because on July 27th, 2016 in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, after, according to the indictment, Russians had hacked into the DNC e-mails and then arranged through organization one, which we know to be WikiLeaks, their release that -- on that time, President Trump, then candidate Trump, made a direct appeal in front of the cameras to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails that she had deleted or had been deleted for her from her private server.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, the indictment does not mention that statement from candidate Trump, but it does note, as you just pointed out, that on that very same day the Russians made their first effort to break into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server.

Do you suspect that Mueller and his team put that in there to highlight that the Russians might have been doing what candidate Trump wanted them to do?

SCHIFF: Absolutely, you know, it could be a coincidence that the Mueller team puts the same date -- and an action (ph) that same date in the indictment. But it can't be a coincidence that they actually put the time of day.

Why is that significant unless you're comparing it to the time when Donald Trump made that statement? And I think it shows another thing, Jake, and that is the Russians had to wonder whether this intervention, even on Trump's behalf, might backfire on the Russians, whether it might be rejected by the Trump campaign certainly if John McCain had been the nominee, Russian intervention on McCain's behalf would have been rejected by McCain, would have hurt the Russians.

But here they get a clear signal from the president -- the candidate Trump at the time, yes we would welcome your help, Russians, and they waste no time in trying to provide that help.

And I think going into this meeting this -- within the next 24 hours, Trump can't contain his admiration for Putin, but more than that, Trump views Putin as his benefactor. After all, Putin intervened, these Russian military intelligence officers were not acting on their own.

Putin intervened to help Trump, and Trump is nothing if not grateful for that help.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Schiff, stay right there. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, I have more questions for you about the summit and what is at stake tomorrow, including your call for the summit to be scrapped altogether.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:22:47] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. We are live in Helsinki, Finland.

And we're back with Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, we're now less than 24 hours away from the president's summit with Vladimir Putin, which will take place right behind me in the presidential palace.

Now, the White House says they're proceeding as planned despite calls from people like yourself to -- to cancel it. They also say that the indictments issued on Friday strengthen President Trump's hand when it comes to confronting Putin about election interference.

Your response?

SCHIFF: Well, of course, that's not the president's intention. The president, as you pointed out, Jake, knew these indictments were coming and yet was telegraphing he thought the meeting with Putin was going to be easier -- easier, in fact, than meeting with our own allies.

So, Putin is getting a lot just by taking this meeting. After all, part of the reason for this indictment is to stigmatize those involved in interfering in our election. Putin is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator. And not just any

co-conspirator, he's the ringmaster of this conspiracy and he's going to be sitting down at the table with Donald Trump. And Trump is basically saying that indictment is just a witch hunt. And that's a great gift for Vladimir Putin.

So I think if Kim Jong-un can eat the president's lunch, which I think he clearly did, it will be a very easy matter for Vladimir Putin.

TAPPER: This morning when President Trump was talking about his meeting tomorrow, he addressed the hacking by Russian military intelligence officers and blamed it on Democrats.

Take a listen.

(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 bad 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)

TAPPER: Your response, sir.

SCHIFF: My response is if the Russians wanted to exfiltrate data from the RNC and use it against Donald Trump, they would have done so. They mounted a sustained attack on the DNC and on the Clinton campaign precisely because they wanted to help Donald Trump. And to blame Obama for President Trump's own failings, it just doesn't cut it.

One thing that Barack Obama did was to confront Putin. And I certainly agree that that confrontation should have been stronger, but the current president will do nothing of the sort.

And this is why we've been calling for him to drop the summit, just because none of have any expectation that he's going to do anything more than ask Putin, in fact he has said he's going to ask Putin.

We don't need to ask Putin whether he did it, we know that he did it, and merely by phrasing it as a question, I think betrays the confidence that the president of the United States ought to have in his own intelligence agencies.

TAPPER: But, Congressman, let me -- let me ask you, Putin has met with three very different presidents in the past, and look where that has gotten the world. We've seen Russian -- Russia meddle in the United States election, annex Crimea during the Obama years, use military force in Syria during the Obama years, annex parts of Georgia during the Bush years.

Who's to say the Trump style won't work, to play devil's advocate, why not take a different approach?

SCHIFF: Well, certainly those other approaches have been unsuccessful, but there's no reason to expect that this won't be frankly a disastrous approach. After all, he's sitting down with a man who just ordered intervention into our own election and rewarding him for doing so.

There is no way that that brings about a successful result and you can certainly say, OK, these other approaches failed so maybe we just ought to go to Putin hat in hand, I don't think that's the answer. If anything, the reason these prior approaches failed is they weren't tough enough, Jake, and this is going in exactly the wrong direction.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee -- thanks for joining us this morning, we appreciate it.

Coming up next, after the indictment, can anyone still claim that the Mueller probe is a witch hunt?

I'll ask Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:31:45] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper, live in Helsinki, Finland.

Tomorrow's Trump-Putin summit is causing anxiety among some Republicans; fears that President Trump might give too much away or not be tough enough. But Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky says President Trump is doing the right thing by meeting face to face. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and joins me now from his home state of Kentucky.

Senator Paul -- thanks so much for joining us, ass as always.

Just 48 hours ago the U.S. government, the Trump administration said that top Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a massive hack to affect the U.S. election. How much do you want President Trump to try to hold Putin accountable for that?

SENATOR 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. The do spy on us. They are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same.

Doug Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the U.S. interfered in other country's 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've forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our election. And there are things we can do and things that I've advocated. Making sure it's decentralized all the way down to the precinct level. Making sure we don't store all of the data in one place even for a state and that there's a backup way that someone in the precinct can say 2,000 people signed in. This was the vote tally I sent to headquarters. There's a lot of ways we can back up our election.

Advertising and things like that. It's tricky. Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways but I think in the bottom line we wanted the Russians to admit it. They are not going to admit it the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections, or in the Russian elections.

So all countries that can spy do; all countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try.

TAPPER: It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election and it might sound to some viewers that you're offering that statement as an excuse for what the Russians did.

PAUL: No, what I would say it's not morally equivalent but I think in their mind it is. And I think it's important to know in your adversary's mind the way they perceive things.

I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections. They were very -- one of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the U.S. in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's morally equivalent --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But certainly Senator Paul, the United States has never --

PAUL: I'm not saying it's justified -- yes, go on.

TAPPER: -- done what Russia did. The United States has never done what Russia did. Go on, I'm sorry.

PAUL: I'm not saying -- yes, I'm not saying they're equivalent or morally equivalent but I am saying that this is the way the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy or better reactions, we have to know their response.

But it's not just interference in elections that I think has caused this nationalism in Russia. Also, I think part of the reason is, we promised them when James Baker at the end when Germany reunified, we promised them that we wouldn't go one inch eastward of Germany with NATO. And we've crept up on the borders.

[08:35:01] We still have neo-cons in both parties who want Ukraine and Georgia to be a NATO. That's very, very provocative and it has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted. In 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was still coming in our direction he said if you push NATO put against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militaristic tendencies will increase. And you may get someone like a Putin, basically. George Kennan predicted the rise of Putin in 1998.

And sow we have to understand that for every action we have there is a reaction. And it's a big mistake for us not to say that we're morally equivalent or anything Russia does is justified, but if we don't realize that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world.

TAPPER: I want to get to NATO in a second but just to underline this point about what the United States should do in response to the Russian election interference. In a new interview just this morning, President Trump said he quote, "hadn't thought of asking Putin to extradite those 12 Russian military intelligence officers."

Do you think President Trump should ask for the extradition when they meet tomorrow?

PAUL: I think it would be a moot point. I don't think Russia is sending anyone back over here for trial. The same way we wouldn't send anybody over there for trial. No country with any sovereignty or sense of sovereignty is sending anybody to another country for trial.

I think we have to protect ourselves. So because we waste time saying Putin needs to admit this and apologize, he's not going to admit that he did it. And we can't take with -- on face value anything they tell us.

We have to assume and if we have proof that they did it, which it sounds like we did, we should now spend our time protecting ourself instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the President.

If the President was involved by all means put the information forward. There's no evidence so far of the President's involvement at all in this. So I think we need to be done with this so we can start actually protecting our elections from foreign countries.

TAPPER: Well, you just called this a witch hunt but if it were not for this probe, if it were not for Robert Mueller, the American people would not know about the Russian military intelligence officers who are hacking American e-mails, stealing voter information, releasing stolen information to influence the election. I'm not sure how you can call it a witch hunt. Isn't it a good thing this probe has continued?

PAUL: Yes. I would say that this is a Department of Justice investigation and that would still have ensued in either way. I wish President Obama had been more aggressive in pursuing it during President Obama's term. But I think the Department of Justice can get to the bottom of this without sort of a special counsel.

I think the Mueller investigation, the problem with special counsels is exactly what happened in the Starr investigation and that is that they run far afield of it. People are threatened with life in prison for tax evasion. And so what happens is you end up spending years and years and millions of dollars.

I think that in the end it's too enormous of a governmental power. Can you imagine, you know, if every businessman or woman in the U.S., if we went back through 30 years history of them and knit picked every one of their tax returns. What we could do to every individual if the full power of the government came after them and then if we took every individual that worked for them and threatened them with life in prison if they had made a tax violation? I think we'd live in a world that nobody would really like or appreciate at that point. So I'm very much against these special counsels.

But I do think the Department of Justice would have investigated the Russians and I think indicting these officers that were hacking the elections is a good thing.

TAPPER: This week in the Senate -- I want to talk about NATO now because you brought it up. This week the Senate voted 97-2 in favor of a motion that supports the NATO alliance. This is a nonbinding motion expressing the Senate's support for NATO, calling on negotiators to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO.

You were one of the two in the 97-2. You voted against it. There is consensus that NATO has served an essential role in stabilizing Europe which ultimately has prevented the United States to need to take military action and to also check Russian aggression.

You talked about how NATO has moved closer and closer towards the Russian border. A lot of experts say that's because Russia has continued to expand and take territory in Ukraine, in Crimea, in Georgia. Do you support NATO?

PAUL: I think it's sort of chicken and the egg. Which happens first -- either NATO's expansion or Russia pushing back or vice-versa. I will say that when you look at NATO, what I voted against was an ironclad commitment to defend any nation in NATO and they also said that they want an open door policy in NATO to admit any aspirant. So I think that is very foolhardy to say we're going to defend any country in the world that wants to be a NATO and we're inviting any country that meets the requirements to come into NATO.

That is a recipe for disaster and no thinking foreign policy expert would have voted for this if they realized that we're having an open- ended commitment to whoever wants to join NATO and an ironclad commitment.

[08:40:00] I think it dilutes the value of NATO. NATO has had historic achievements and has been part of, you know, what was deterrence to Russia.

But the interesting thing now is that European forces are 13 times bigger than Russian forces. European plus U.S. forces are probably 30 times bigger than Russia forces. So right now there's a disproportionate advantage to the west with NATO. I'm not saying we disband NATO but I don't think we should have an open door policy. I think, for example, going to war over putting Albania in or putting Montenegro in or particularly putting Ukraine or Georgia in would be a disaster. And that's what the neoconservatives are advocating for. They have been agitating for years and I've been blocking them, is putting Georgia in.

Russia is in Georgia right now. For better or worse, they are there. It's right on their border. We would be at war with Russia right now if Georgia were in NATO.

So people need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about, you know, wanting to have a confrontation with Russia. We spent 70 years trying not to have a confrontation.

TAPPER: I just think there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised to hear a sitting United States senator describe Russia versus NATO in terms of confrontation and expansion as a chicken or egg proposition given the fact that NATO protects sovereign countries while allowing them to remain sovereign while Russia invades other countries and takes over those countries. I don't think it's chicken or the egg.

PAUL: Right. Well, what I would say is that there were people -- probably the greatest diplomat of the last country was -- of the last century was George Kennan. And he did predict as NATO expanded that you would incite militaristic tendencies and nationalism in Russia.

I'm not justifying Russia's aggression in Ukraine or in Georgia. I'm not saying they are equivalent. I'm saying though that the provocation of pushing NATO forward after we promised -- James Baker promised Gorbachev in 1990 when Germany unified that we would not go -- the west would not go one inch beyond Germany. And yet a couple of years later, under the Clinton administration we kept pushing, pushing, pushing.

And so for every action that we put out there, there is a reaction. And I think we need to think this through. And it's not a moral equivalency. It's not justifying Russia's behavior. But it is realizing that from Russia's perspective, they see NATO expansion as a threat and that part of their militarism, part of their nationalism may be inherent to the tides of the current century there. But it's also in reaction to policy from the west as well.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, we thank you for your times as always, sir. Good to see you.

PAUL: Thank you.

TAPPER: Why didn't President Obama do more to stop the Russians in 2016? We'll talk to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner.

Plus will President Trump hold Putin's feet to the fire at tomorrow's summit? Our panel of experts is here with me, live in Helsinki. Stay with us. >

[08:42:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you'll ask will we be talking about meddling. And I will absolutely bring that up. I don't think you'll have any gee I did it, I did it, you got me. There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump comparing bringing up the election hacking with Putin to the beloved American who done it series, Perry Mason. But there's really no mystery here.

Let's talk about it with our experts.

David Gergen -- you heard Rand Paul seem to suggest that maybe the Russians are just going to deny election interference so he doesn't know necessarily the worth of pushing on it. And then you heard President Trump. What's your response to this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen -- I think all of us here on this panel sort of rejected the apologies that Rand Paul offered. He's a good man but I think he's got it all wrong about this.

Look, it does not happen all the time. This is not -- not every country does. This is the first time in American history when a foreign nation has tried to steal an election in the United States.

We don't know how much influence yet that they've had -- with the investigation don't reflect that. But we do know after these indictments that it was a serious, sophisticated, relentless effort to change the results of American election. And for that I think the President has to go to Mr. Putin tomorrow.

This is the big question over the summit. Why did you lie to me? You've been telling us all along you had nothing to do with this. The evidence is now in. It's clear that your government did this.

And I think everybody here now is waiting. I think this is a drama, this summit. Is he going to hold him accountable or not?

TAPPER: Phil, do you think -- Phil Mudd -- do you think that these indictments change the summit?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: They do from the American perspective, but I don't think they do from the Trump perspective. Look, if he goes in this hard and he says you tried to influence an election the change in the indictment is to take this a step closer to Moscow. We're not talking about Russian individuals. We're talking about Russian military intelligence in Moscow. As soon as he does that he's going to do something that's good for America but bad for Trump. He's going to start getting a step closer to saying Russian intelligence officers were trying to favor me in an American election.

I don't think he wants to do that and he's already told Putin that he won't do it. He's already given him an out. You just saw it.

TAPPER: Susan Glasser -- your response to the Rand Paul interview and also just the general tone we're hearing from President Trump, Rand Paul and others, which is hey America has done this in other countries as well.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, I was struck by the fact that in a way Senator Paul was parroting some of Putin's talking points and Donald Trump. He repeated that this was a witch hunt of an investigation, which was obviously something we've heard from the President over and over again.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin for years has been of the view that there's essentially a moral equivalence between the Russians and Americans. And Donald Trump as you know, has also said in fact everybody does it so let's just move on.

[08:49:55] And I think the indictments on Friday make it much harder for President Trump simply to wave the back of his hand and say let's move on. But remember that Vladimir Putin has been saying for years what we heard from Senator Paul.

That NATO somehow is the moral equivalent of Russia. That this is something that all big powers do, so why can't we just sit down and carve up the world? Vladimir Putin wants to revise the Cold War terms. He believes that that was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.

TAPPER: The fall of the Soviet Union?

GLASSER: That's exactly right. And I think that, you know, what's amazing is we've never had an American president coming into a summit meeting essentially agreeing with the analysis of the Russian president.

TAPPER: It's interesting. John Kirby, I want to play for you some sound from President Trump. This is him talking about the Mueller probe, the investigation. And I want everyone to keep in mind when President Trump said this, he knew that the Justice Department was about to announce the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials for interfering in the U.S. election.

Let's roll that sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that we're being heard very badly by the -- I would call it the witch hunt. I would call it the rigged witch hunt that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia.

I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance -- very good relationship with President Putin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The argument being, we would have a good relationship with Russia if the United States government were not investigating Russia's cyber attack on the United States.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right. Again, Putin's talking points -- that's exactly what he's hearing from the other side. They want this -- they want to move forward with cooperation and the like to blame the Mueller investigation for why there isn't.

I think, honestly, when we get done with the summit, you're going to see a statement by both leaders about some movement of cooperation going forward. There's absolutely no truth to the fact that the Mueller investigation is hindering anything. In fact, one of the reasons why Putin wants the summit so badly is because he wants to try to find a way to cooperate with the United States and to show the rest of the world that he and the United States are moving forward.

TAPPER: There's a tweet from one year ago this month I want to put up from President Trump. It's after he met with Putin, not in a summit but in a pull-aside at a different event. It says quote, "Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded." Stunning.

GLASSER: Well, it's talk about a unilateral disarmament, you know. You say arms control is on the agenda, you know. At the same time, it's worth noting that President Trump's own national intelligence chief, former senator Dan Coats said on Friday, the same day of these indictments that America was potentially still under attack by the Russians and all of the lights were blinking red once again.

And so, you know, this very cavalier attitude of the President I think is going to be front and center. But I agree with John. They both have a huge incentive to come out of the summit tomorrow saying we're going to agree, we've going to cooperate, we've made some deal even if there's no specifics around it.

TAPPER: We're going to talk more about this in the next hour. So everyone sit tight.

Flattering, humor, a little mano a mano workout talk -- what is the right strategy for handling Vladimir Putin? Three former U.S. Presidents might have some thoughts.

That's next.

[08:53:10] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to Helsinki, Finland where the highly- anticipated and hotly-debated Trump-Putin summit is less than a day away. This American president comes filled with confidence and optimism and he's hardly the first.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: President Trump will be the fourth U.S. President to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: Putin is fine, he's fine. We're all fine with people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared.

TAPPER: So As President Trump prepares or doesn't to meet the Russian leader, he should remember that others have been here before him with very mixed success.

Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and Obama all tried kicking things off with flattery.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A man deeply committed to his country.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's fully capable of doing it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The extraordinary work that you've done on behalf of the Russian people --

TAPPER: In 2001 President George W. Bush took a soulful approach.

BUSH: I looked the man in the eye and I was able to get a sense of his soul.

TAPPER: Presidents Bush and Obama both tried to soften the Russian leader by attempting to find common interests.

BUSH: First I'd like to congratulate President Putin for being the only person that caught a fish today.

OBAMA: President Putin's expertise in judo and my declining skills in basketball.

TAPPER: The relationship between U.S. leaders and their Russian counterparts has been warm in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, now for first time I can tell you that you're a disaster.

TAPPER: Still, American presidents have taken note of the former KGB agent's somewhat unique negotiating technique.

BUSH: Putin says, would you like to meet my dog? And out comes a giant hound kind of loping across the (INAUDIBLE) yard and Putin looks at me and says bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney.

TAPPER: And with some Putin officials the language barrier has led to some awkward diplomacy. HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We worked hard to get the

right Russian word. Do you think we got it?

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You got it wrong.

H. CLINTON: I got it wrong.

TAPPER: Still if there's one thing we know about President Trump he'll do it his own way.

TRUMP: Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Stay right there. STATE OF THE UNION special coverage, live from Helsinki continues right now.

[09:00:02] Hello, I'm Jake Tapper, live from Helsinki, Finland with a special edition of STATE OF THE UNION.

Behind me Finland's presidential palace -- the site of tomorrow's summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The stakes are high especially after --