Return to Transcripts main page


Trump & Putin Hold Press Conference after Summit. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (through translation): Because there will be a gap formed in the supply-and-demand mechanism and, first, it's the consuming countries who will fall into this gap.

The second question, before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival. And yet you expressed hope you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Actually, I called him a competitor, and a good competitor he is. I think the word competitor is a compliment. I think that we will be competing when you talk about the pipeline. I'm not sure necessarily that it's in the best interests of Germany or not. That was a decision that they made. We will be competing. As you know, the United States is now - or soon will be, but I think it is right now the largest in the oil and gas world. So we'll be selling LNG. We're going to be competing with the pipeline. I think we will compete successfully. Though, there's a little advantage, locationally. I wish them luck. I did. I discussed with Merkel in pretty strong tones. But I also know where they're coming from. They have a very close source. So we will see how that all works out. But we have lots of sources now. The United States is much different than it was a number of years ago when we weren't able to extract what we can extract today. Today, we're number one in the world at that. I think we will be out there competing very strongly. Thank you very much.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): If I may, I throw in some two cents. We talked to Mr. President, including this subject as well. We are aware of the stance of President Trump. I think that we, as a major oil and gas power, and the United States, as a major gas and oil power as well, we can work together on regulation of international markets because neither of us is actually interested in the plummeting of the prices. The consumers will suffer as well. The consumers in the United States will suffer as well. And the shale gas production will suffer. Because beyond a certain price bracket, it's no longer profitable to produce gas. But nor we are interested in driving prices up, because it will drain juices, live juices from all our sectors of the economy. We have space for cooperation here. That's the first thing.

Then about the Northstream II, Mr. President voices his concerns about the possibility of disappearance of transit through Ukraine. I reassured Mr. President that Russia stands ready to maintain this transit. Moreover, we stand ready to extend this transit contract that's about to expire next year in case if the dispute between the economic entities -- dispute will be settled in the Stockholm arbitration court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question goes to Jeff Mason, from Reuters.

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that, "It's U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia." Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? If so, what would you consider them that they are responsible for?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office. I think we're all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia and we're getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it's nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping, have to do it. Ultimately, that's probably the most important thing that we can be working on. But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes.

I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart. It's kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore. Virtually, none of it related to the campaign. They will have to try really hard to find something that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and, frankly, we beat her, and I'm not even saying from the standpoint, we won that race. It's a shame there could be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it.

But the main thing -- we discussed this also -- is zero collusion. It has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous what's going on with the probe.


[11:35:29] MASON: For President Putin, if I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury.

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to let the president answer the second part of that question.

But as you know, the concept of that came up, perhaps a little before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election, which, frankly, they should have been able to win, because the Electoral College is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. We won the Electoral College by a lot, 306 to 223 I believe. That was a well-fought battle. We did a great job.

Frankly, I'm going to let the president speak to the second part of your question.

But just to say it one time again, and I say it all the time, there was no collusion. I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign. Every time you hear all of these 12 and 14 -- it's stuff that has nothing to do -- and frankly, they admit, these are not people involved in the campaign. But to the average reader out there, they are saying, maybe that does. It doesn't. Even the people involved, some perhaps told mis-stories. In one case, the FBI said there was no lie, there was no lie. Somebody else said there was. We ran a brilliant campaign. That's why I'm president. Thank you.

PUTIN (through translation): As to who is to be believed, who is not to be believed, you can trust no one. Where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America. I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation. We do have interests that are common. We are looking for points of contact. There are issues where our postures diverge and we are looking for ways to reconcile our differences, how to make our effort more meaningful. We should not proceed from the immediate political interests that guide certain political powers in our countries. We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense.

Just like the president recently mentioned, yes, the public at large in the United States had a certain perceived opinion of the candidates during the campaign. But there's nothing particularly extraordinary about it. That's usual thing. President Trump, when he was a candidate, he mentioned the need to restore the Russia/U.S. relationship, and it's clear that certain parts of American society felt sympathetic about it and different people could express their sympathy in different ways. Isn't that natural? Isn't it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country, who wants to work with us?

We heard the accusations about it. As far as I know, this company hired American lawyers and the accusations doesn't -- doesn't have a fighting chance in the American courts. There's no evidence when it comes to the actual facts. We have to be guided by facts, not by rumors.

Now let's get back to the issue of this 12 alleged intelligence officers of Russia. I don't know the full extent of the situation. The President Trump mentioned this issue. I will look into it. So far, I can say the following, the things that offered off the top of my head. We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999, the mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full affect. It works quite efficiently. On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states. For instance, the last year, there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States. [11:40:26] So this treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer.

The appropriate commission headed by special attorney, Mueller, he can use this as a solid foundation and send an official request to us so that we would interrogate, hold questioning of this individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. Our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States.

Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission, headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They will be present at questioning.

But in this case, there's another condition. This kind of effort should be mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate. And they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States, whom we believe -- who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement. For instance, we can bring up the -- Mr. Brouder, in this case. Business associates of him have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. Neither in Russia nor in the United States. Yet, the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. That's their personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself. The way the money was earned was illegal. We have solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers, the companies and guided these transactions. We have an interest of questioning them.

That could be a first step. We can also extend it. Options abound. And they all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.

MASON: Did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

PUTIN (through translation): Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I think there can be three questions from the Russian pool. "Russia Today," you have the floor.

ILIA PORTRANKO (ph), REPORTER, RUSSIA TODAY (through translation): Thank you so much. Good evening, everyone. My name is Ilia Portranko (ph), RT, TV channel.

In English, Mr. President, would you please go into the details of possibly any specific arrangements for the U.S. to work together with Russia in Syria, if any of these arrangements were made today or discussed?

(through translation): My question to President Putin in Russian. Since we brought up the issue of football several times, I ask -- I use the football language. Mr. Pompeo mentioned that when we talk about Syrian cooperation, the ball is in the Syrian court. Mr. Putin, in Russian court, is it true? How would you use this fact of having the ball?

TRUMP: I guess I will answer the first part of the question. We have worked with Israel long and hard for many years, many decades. I think we have never -- never has any country been closer than we are. President Putin also is helping Israel. We both spoke with Bebe Netanyahu. They would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. In that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel. Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.

[11:45:11] I think that when you look at all of the progress that's been made in certain sections with the eradication of ISIS, about 98 percent, 99 percent there, and other things that have taken place that we have done, and that, frankly, Russia has helped us with in certain respects. But I think that working with Israel is a great thing. Creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and I would like to see very much.

One little thing I might add to that is the helping of people. Helping of people because you have such horrible -- if you see -- I've seen reports and I've seen pictures. I've seen just about everything. If we can do something to help the people of Syria get back into some form of shelter and on a humanitarian basis -- that's what the word was, humanitarian basis -- I think both of us would be interested in doing that. And we are. We will do that. Thank you very much.

PORTRANKO (ph): Excuse me, but for now, no specific agreements, for instance, between the militaries?

TRUMP: Our militaries do get along. In fact, our militaries have gotten along probably better than our political leaders for years. Our militaries do get along very well. They do coordinate in Syria and other places. OK? Thank you.

PUTIN (through translation): We did mention this. We mentioned the humanitarian trek of this issue. Yesterday, I discussed this with French President Mr. Macron and we reached an agreement that together with European countries, including France, we will step up this effort. On our behalf, we will provide military cargo aircraft to deliver the humanitarian cargo. Today, I brought up this issue with President Trump. I think there's plenty of things to look into.

The crucial thing is that huge amount of refugees are in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan in the states that border or adjacent to Syria. If we help them, the migratory pressure upon the European states will be decreased manyfold. I believe it's crucial from any point of view, from humanitarian point of view, from the point of view of helping people, helping the refugees. And in general, I agree, I concur with President Trump, our military cooperate quite successfully together. They do get along. I hope they will be able to do so in future. We will keep working in the aftermath, Russia, Turkey and Iran, which I informed President Trump about.

But we do stand ready to link this effort to the so-called small group of states so that the process would be a broader one, a multi- dimensional one. We will maximize our fighting chance to gather ultimate success on the issue of Syria.

And speaking about the -- having the ball in our court in Syria, President Trump has just mentioned that we have successfully concluded the world football cup. Speaking of the football, actually, Mr. President, I will give this ball to you and now the ball is in your court.


PUTIN: All the more the United States will host the World Cup in 2026.

TRUMP: That's right. Thank you very much. We do host it. We hope we do as good a job. That's very nice. That will go to my son, Barron. We have no question.

In fact, Melania, here you go.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final question from the United States will go to Jonathan Lemire, from the A.P.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thank you. A question for each president.

President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?

My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?

[11:49:56] TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server, why haven't they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I've been wondering that. I've been asking that for months and months, and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, and said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have -- I have confidence in both parties.

I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's e-mails? And 33,000 e- mails gone, just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn't be gone so easily. I think it's a disgrace that we can't get Hillary Clinton's 33,000 e-mails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. OK? Thank you.

PUTIN (through translation): I'd like to add something to this. After all, I was an intelligence officer myself. And I do know how dossiers are made up. Just a second. That's the first thing.

Now the second thing. I believe that Russia is a democratic state. And I hope you're not denying this right to your own country, you're not denying that United States is democracy. Do you believe the United States is a democracy? And if so, if it is a democratic state, then the final conclusion in this kind of dispute can only be delivered by a trial, by the court, not by the executive, by the law enforcement. For instance, the company that is brought up is being accused, it's being accused of interference, but this company does not constitute the Russian state. It does not represent the Russian state. I brought several examples before.

Well, you have a lot of individuals in the United States, take George Soros, for instance, with multi-billion capitals, but it doesn't make him -- his position -- his posture the posture of the United States. No, it does not. It's the same case.

There's the issue of trying a case in the court and the final -- the final say is for the court to deliver. We are now talking about the individuals and not about particular states.

And as far as the most recent allegation is concerned about the Russian intelligence officers, we do have an intergovernmental treaty. Please do send us the request. We will analyze it properly and we'll send a formal response. As I said, we can extend this cooperation, but we should do it on a reciprocal basis, because we would await our Russian counterparts to provide us access to the persons of interests for us who we believe can have something to do with intelligence service. Let's discuss the specific issues and not use the Russia and U.S. relationship as a loose change for this internal political struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A question for President Putin, thank you. Two questions for you, sir. Can you tell me what President Trump may have indicated to you about officially recognizing Crimea as part of Russia?

And secondly, sir, do you -- does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?

(LAUGHTER) PUTIN (through translation): President Trump -- well, the posture of President Trump on Crimea is well known and he stands firmly by it. He continues to maintain that it was illegal to annex it. Our view point is different. We held a referendum in strict compliance with the U.N. charter and international legislation. For us, this issue -- we put paid to this issue.

[11:55:17] And now to the compromising material. Yes, I did heard these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow. Distinguished colleague, let me tell you this, when President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn't even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

Let's take St. Petersburg Economic Forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessmen, high-ranking, high-level ones. I don't even remember the last names of each and every one. Do you remember? Do you think that we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them? Well, it's difficult to imagine utter nonsense on a bigger scale of this. Please disregard these issues and don't think about this anymore again.

TRUMP: And I have to say, if they had it, it would have been out long ago. And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days, and I was in Brussels watching it, it was a disgrace to the FBI. It was a disgrace to our country. And you would say that was a total witch hunt.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader, certainly, that I've ever seen. An extraordinary press conference.

I'm back with CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, CNN chief international anchor, Christian Amanpour.

Christiane, given the opportunity, asked by a reporter, an American reporter, who he trusted on the issue of Russian meddling, the U.S. intelligence or Vladimir Putin, he blinked, and he went to Hillary Clinton's e-mail server.


COOPER: As to who he holds responsible, he says, "I hold both responsible. I think we are all to blame. We have a chance to make some great things." Made no mention of Georgia, the shooting down of a Malaysian plane, Crimea, Ukraine, and election interference. In fact, he went on to say, all he can do is ask the question about election interference, that Vladimir Putin was very powerful in his denial of it. And the president went on to say he doesn't see any reason why it would have been Russia who interfered.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER ANCHOR: I think that was the nut, "I don't see any reason why it would have been Russia," hacking into our election and went on to talk about the server and the 30,000 e-mails, et cetera. He basically said, in Russia, they would never have let this stuff happen. I mean, it really was quite extraordinary, actually. I thought we were going to get out of that press conference with a minimum of damage, and that was really, really extraordinary, as you just said. And he then said that Putin came up with a great offer as to how to figure this out, which, of course, Putin responded, as he always does, with the sort of obfuscation. Yes, we have a sort of treaty on various issues, but you have to send us a formal letter and we'll respond and we'll reciprocate, but only in kind, we need to have people of interest, et cetera. So it's a very typical Putin response. But that was an incredible statement.

COOPER: David Gergen, have you ever seen anything like this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And it's a struggle to put it altogether, isn't it, and comprehend what we've just heard. I've never heard an American president talk that way. But I think it's especially true that when he's with someone like Putin, who is a thug, a world-class thug, that he sides with him again and again against his own country's interests, his own institutions that he runs, that he's in charge of the federal government. He's in charge of these intelligence agencies, and he basically dismisses them and he retreats into this -- we've heard this again and again on an international stage to be talking about Hillary's server and --


COOPER: It's embarrassing.

GERGEN: -- his brilliant campaign. It's embarrassing.

COOPER: I want to go to Jim Acosta, who's in the room.

Jim, your thoughts?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. I think what you were just saying there a few moments ago, I think that sums it up nicely. This was the president of the United States essentially taking the word of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over his own Intelligence Community, over his own law enforcement community, on this critical question of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

And I think when Vladimir Putin was asked that question by Jonathan Lemire, of the Associated Press, at the very end, whether or not the Russians had compromising information on President Trump, I thought it very interesting that Vladimir Putin paused for a few moments, seeming to understand --