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Trump and Putin Meeting Lasts More Than 90 Minutes; Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


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[09:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- and things to be talk about. We have discussions on everything from trade to military to missiles to nuclear to China. We'll be talking a little bit about China. Our mutual friend, President Xi.

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, absent from that list, Russian interference you might have noted in the U.S. election from a dozen Russian intelligence figures were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday.

Want to bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

So, Jeff, the leaders agreed at the outset that U.S.-Russian relations have never been worst. It's an extraordinary note to start on as is the president's tweet essentially blaming the United States for being hacked.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it was, and even more extraordinary than that was the Russian Foreign Ministry saying we agree to what the president said this morning, essentially blaming the U.S. for this. But as we watch the body language there in that -- at the beginning of that meeting, which as you said we believe is still going on, which is at least an hour and a half into it, it was certainly extraordinary.

You saw Vladimir Putin sort of slouching in his chair a little bit. The president was giving more specifics, talking about a range of things he wants to discuss. Election meddling, not mentioned in that list but that is hanging over this summit. No question about it. But the president also talked about an extraordinary relationship he said he believes he can have with Putin.

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TRUMP: We have not been getting along very well for the last number of years. I've been here not too long but it's getting close to two years but I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. I hope -- I've been saying and I'm sure you've heard over the years, and as I campaign, that getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.

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ZELENY: So the president certainly there giving a forward looking approach to what he believes the relationship can be, but, Anderson, not mentioning at all at least in the public part of that meeting there, all of the reasons that this summit is so high stakes and so controversial. Everything that has isolated Vladimir Putin from the world, from the invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, on and on. But most importantly that election meddling there.

We should point out, Anderson, this is the third time that these two leaders have met. The first time happened about a year ago in Hamburg, Germany at the G-20 summit. That was the first time that they were talking about election meddling. The second time, last fall they only spoke briefly. It was then that the president said that he believes Vladimir Putin when he says they did not -- weren't involved in the election meddling.

Since then, Anderson, so much information by the U.S. government, the Department of Justice has come out about this. So as this goes forward, they will be going into a lunch, the secretary of state will be joining them for that as other advisers will as well. John Bolton, the National Security adviser, the White House chief of staff John Kelly as well. And again that press availability later today here.

We'll see if they take questions or not. But so far at least in that early meeting, election meddling was not at least top of mind for the president -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

President Trump insisted he'd bring up election meddling at the meeting. The question is, did he actually follow through and if so how?

Our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is with me.

So Mr. Trump is yet to condemn Putin or Russia since Robert Mueller indicted the 12 Russian intelligence officers hacking charges. I mean, he's blamed the U.S., he's blamed the DNC, the Obama administration, Mueller for strained U.S.-Russia relations.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, and this is a repeated thing, from the beginning President Trump downplayed the veracity of the U.S. intelligence community. So this was really nothing new. It's just shocking that he's doing this within hours of meeting face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the U.S. firmly believes for his orchestrating this attack on American democracy.

So even if President Trump does bring it up, we already know from talking to people who have spoken to President Trump in the last several days that he doesn't take it seriously. He has told people behind the scenes that he already knows what President Putin will say. In the past he said that he believes Putin when he says he didn't do it and then President Trump took that statement back. But he's parroted the Kremlin line on the subject. So even if he can say as he leaves this meeting, yes, I brought up the

election hacking, yes, I told him it's unacceptable, we know that that doesn't necessarily mean much to President Trump because of all of the other things and tweets that he's put out there about it.

Secretary of State Pompeo, though, that's another story. He just met with a Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. That meeting has now ended. So now they'll all meet together in this extended bilateral lunch. What's interesting about that is not long ago, Secretary of State as well as National Security adviser John Bolton were asked by reporters, is the president going to bring this up?

Secretary of State said yes, he's going to bring it up firmly. He has full confidence that the president will make it absolutely clear that meddling in U.S. elections is completely unacceptable.

[09:05:03] It's just that the things that President Trump says don't really gel with that. Secretary of State Pompeo has widely differing views on the subject as well. I mean, just look at this. This morning President Trump was tweeting that it's the fault of the U.S. and the investigation into Russian hacking and Russian involvement that is why the U.S. Russia relationship is so bad.

During the confirmation hearing, not that long ago, Secretary of State Pompeo was asked the same question. Is it because of the Mueller investigation? Secretary of State Pompeo said no, it's not. It's because of Russia's bad behavior -- Anderson.

COOPER: Michelle Kosinski, thanks very much.

Again we are waiting to see the two leaders emerge from their one-on- one meetings. I'm joined now by CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, senior political analyst David Gergen, and global affairs analyst Susan Glasser.

Yes, I mean, it can't be said too many times how this is really a summit unlike any we have seen before. Even this morning the president blaming the United States and Russia's Foreign Ministry re- tweeting it.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, I was going to say, and actually saying we agree. So that's pretty much lays the temperature, lays the environment as far as the Russians are concerned. They genuinely believe and that -- I think that Foreign Ministry tweet really shows it -- that President Trump has been doing their work for them. And I was really alarmed to see this Russia state television this evening saying that look, this is the most important meeting for President Trump.

His -- more important than NATO, more important than the meeting in the UK. After all, said the Russian state television, Brussels and London were just stops on the way to Helsinki. That's how they see this. And the allies are really concerned that in that presidential palace behind where the two of them are right now, that President Trump hues to the Western alliance, line to the Western line as opposed to giving away too much politics to President Putin. COOPER: I -- I mean, it's a bizarre negotiating strategy, David

Gergen, to go into a meeting with your adversary agreeing with your adversary and publicly agreeing and being on the same page and blasting your allies.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's absolutely true. And for president of the United States to go overseas where traditionally he represents all of the people in the United States where he is the proud leader of that people. You go in standing up for your country to go into a meeting with Russians and saying basically we're to blame for all of the problem we have between us. And we're to blame for all the things that have gone wrong with you and going into Ukraine.

COOPER: I mean, he's never flat out said Russia is to blame.

GERGEN: Never. No. Never. He blames us.

COOPER: And it's --

GERGEN: So I do think it's extraordinary. It goes with what Christiane was making about how odd and different this whole summit is. You know, what we're looking at is a series of gifts that he has given to the Russians and the question is what are we getting in return? We won't know until we hear this press conference. It's a really important presser that's coming up.

Giving the gift of bringing him out of isolation, Putin is on a much bigger better stage than he was. He gave him the gift of -- essentially giving him a pass, you know, in the run-up to this on the interference in our elections. He's given him -- you know, given him the gift of not holding him accountable for Ukraine and Crimea as a price of getting here.

What are we getting from all of this? Well, if he doesn't have anything to show for it, I think he's going to have some real -- I think he's going to run into a really a lot of tough criticism for within his own party.

COOPER: Well, Susan, I mean, you don't hear -- if it was President Obama having a summit with Putin and tweeting out blaming the United States for being hacked, you would think the Republicans would -- we would have heard from them already.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, of course we would have. Let's be real. And President Trump has long been almost a party of one when it comes to Russia policy. He's about to go from the private one-on-one meeting with President Putin, which he personally requested, by the way. I think that's a stunning fact which is why I keep bringing it up. But he's about to go from that into an expanded meeting with his own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with his National Security adviser John Bolton, with my friend, his NSC Russia adviser Fiona Hill, all of whom are very clear eyed about Russia, about Vladimir Putin.

Pompeo and Bolton are traditional Republican hawks when it comes to Russia, and they don't agree at least in any of their public utterances up until this moment with the statement that the president has made. And so you -- I think Putin has won a victory even before a word has been exchanged inside the room with President Trump because he's won the victory of being recognized once again on the world stage, no longer being treated as a pariah by the United States after the illegal annexation of Crimea, number one. Number two, you have a bizarre situation where it's the president of the United States who is the most disruptive and unpredictable force arguably in world policy right now.

[09:10:01] President Putin has been quite consistent actually over time. He has dealt with now -- this is his fourth American president that he's been in power. And so President Putin is not a novice. He knows exactly what he wants to get from President Trump and I guess all of you were probably struck as I was with how plaintive President Trump seemed so eager to make President Putin his friend, so eager to talk about the extraordinary great relationship he thought we could have.

President Putin you noticed was very dry as he always is. He did not make grandiose or unsupported claims for the kind of relationship he wants to have with President Trump. Not at all. He was very measured and very much the former KGB officer that he's always been.

COOPER: And -- I mean, there are significant areas where there could be progress. I mean, certainly on nuclear arms, you have the --

AMANPOUR: Yes. The START treaty. Yes.

COOPER: The START treaty, which is coming up for expiration which needs to be at the very least renewed.

AMANPOUR: For sure. That would be a good thing. You know, a lot of people including former, you know, Republicans and people who've served in various different administrations notably Bill Burns, former deputy secretary of state, said let us hope the best outcome is Hippocratic, in other words, do no more political harm. Keep it pragmatic, don't go in under the illusion that somehow your great character and your charisma is going to be the basis of new relationship with this man who's so shrewd, President Putin, and who's totally prepared.

And also don't go in thinking some grand bargain is going to emerge because it probably won't certainly in this first encounter if at all. So I think that, you know, a lot of people just sort of hoping -- but, you know, others have suggested, and I don't know whether you guys agree with this that President Trump has a way of turning these things into a win for him. We're all saying it's a win for Putin. But just as he came out of his meeting with Kim Jong-un, he said, look, no president has sat down with this man. Look, I have and I've ratcheted down tensions. He'll come out of this and say the same thing.

GERGEN: Well, it turned into -- it was a win as long as it was a win then it went south in terms of the relationship with Kim. And one of the things I think one has to guard against with any president come out of these things is to say oh my god, we're going to change the world. It's wonderful, the sun is going to rise tomorrow in a magnificent way. And it turns out it way overstates reality.

COOPER: You think this president may overstate the reality of what happened? I mean, you look at the tweet that he sent in the wake of the meeting with Kim Jong-un, when he went back to Washington, which essentially was everybody, sleep easy, there's no more nuclear threat, which is, you know, an overstatement obviously.

GERGEN: Yes. It's actually. So -- you don't know. It's easy in the glow of these meetings to think that can establish some wonderful new relationship, and that the world is going to be different as a result. It's not that easy.

GLASSER: Well --

GERGEN: And they cheat on a regular basis just like the North Koreans.

GLASSER: Well, of course, that suggests that the goal of this summit all along has been pretty clear. It's not a policy goal, it's not a strategic goal. You know, at least we knew what they were talking about in North Korea and in fact here the White House over and over again, they've released probably fewer details about this meeting than any recent meeting going back decades to the Soviets.

I mean, I talked with advisers to American presidents going all the way back to Ronald Reagan and asked them before this summit, well, what do you think of possible outcomes and Bill Burns said, you know, please Hippocratic oath, do no harm. But every single one of them, the Republican former senior officials I spoke with were as critical and concerned about this situation as the Democrats.

This has not been actually a very partisan response to say that there's no historical precedent, that the White House has gone into this refusing even a basic level of preparation. There's not been a single principle's committee meeting. There's no agenda prepared. No deliverables that have been agreed upon in advance.

GERGEN: And no strategy.

GLASSER: So why is the meeting happening?

GERGEN: And no strategy.

COOPER: No strategy.

GLASSER: But of course you're right, he will definitely say that there's a big win here no matter what.

COOPER: And we are waiting for both presidents to emerge from their one-on-one meetings then there will be larger meetings as well. We're going to have more from our panel, David Gergen, Susan Glasser, Christiane Amanpour.

Any minute now we're expecting to see President Trump and Vladimir Putin emerge from their initial one-on-one meetings. Stay with her -- stay with CNN for our continuing coverage. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper. We're live from Allas Sea Pool in Helsinki here. A really beautiful sight. You can see the presidential palace just - presidential building right behind me where the two presidents are meeting, the summit between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and America's President Donald Trump.

It is still underway. It's been just over two hours that they have been meeting one-on-one with interpreters. No other principals in the room. We're expecting a press briefing soon. Obviously, we'll bring that to you. And we're also going to be talking to Republican governor from Ohio John Kasich a little bit coming up for his perspective.

We haven't heard much criticism from Republicans certainly about the president's statements going into this summit, in which he called the European Union a foe in an interview with CBS News yesterday.

And just this morning, before the summit began, the president blaming the United States - blaming as he has also yesterday blamed the DNC, the Obama administration for the hacks on the DNC that were committed by Russia and not actually blaming Russia itself going into this meeting.

Even the White House statement in the wake of the indictment of the 12 Russian officials involved in the hacking, according to the special counsel investigation, the White House statement did not attack Russia or criticize Russia for the actual hacking.

I'm joined once again by our David Gergen. It is just extraordinary. I mean, as we wait for these two leaders to come out - and we don't know if there's going to make any statements, if there's going to be a joint press conference, there's going to be a larger meeting with some of the principals.

But to have a meeting that lasts this long - they did meet for several hours in an offsite meeting in Hamburg, Germany as well as a dinner table discussion. But to have these world leaders and to have no rhetoric coming from the White House critical of Russia for the actual hacking, maybe it seems normal because it's been going on for so long, but it's kind of extraordinary when you step back and look at it.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It may seem normal inside the Trump White House because they often seem to be dealing with alternative reality.

But to those people on the outside who have just been watching this, saw the indictments coming down, they would expect, in a normal situation, the president would respond to that, have something to say that is definitive. And they would especially expect the president to bring it up here at this summit.

He doesn't have to go in and say, Mr. Putin, can you tell me whether you did this? He can go in and say now, we have definitive proof this happened. I don't need to ask you anymore. I just need to make it very clear what we expect from you -

COOPER: And also, you lied to me in previous meetings. You lied to my face.

GERGEN: You lied to me and you've done this - that's right. We know that happened. I'm not going to ask you about that anymore. You've lied to me. I can't trust you on that.

So, here's the deal going forward. Here are the red lines. If you do this again, it's going to mean more sanctions, it's going to be this, it's going to be that.

He's got to be very firm and very tough.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, because the rhetoric before President Trump - or leading to the meeting with Kim Jong-un - was tough, rocket man, all that sort of thing.

GERGEN: Sure.

COOPER: And the White House said look, well, that kind of tough talk is what got Kim Jong-un to the table.

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: There's clearly been none of that regarding Russia.

GERGEN: No, that's right. One can't figure out why. It's still the great mystery.

I mean, there is some evidence now that he believes in sort of the great men theory of history, that great men, the big men shape history and that he's going to be one of them and he's going to shape the future of the world.

But Putin is going to be another and Xi is going to be another. And together, they can remake the world. And all of the rest of us, these people are sort of Lilliputians that are running around. I don't have to pay attention to them. My staff or the bureaucrats or all the rest. That's one theory.

The other theory, of course, is that Putin is still sitting on something and nobody knows what that is. You would assume - like Christiane and I were talking about this earlier, you would assume it might have leaked, but nothing has leaked.

And so, you don't know, but maybe Putin is sitting on something. Otherwise, it's just really hard to explain.

COOPER: I want to bring in Ohio Governor John Kasich who is joining me from Columbus. Governor, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

I'm wondering what your expectations are for this summit because, as we've been talking about, it really is a summit unlike any other. There haven't been a lot of meetings running up to this. There's not something on the table that these two leaders have already - the secretary of states have already hammered out that these two leaders are going to sign.

What are you actually expecting to come out of this?

JOHN KASICH, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: Anderson, I think it's anybody's guess. I was sort of feeling as thought maybe Putin might give Trump something to try to assuage him.

But I was telling somebody this morning, in fact, it was my wife, we have Putin who has taken Crimea, invaded Ukraine and then engaged in poisoning people, the national intelligence director under President Trump has said that the blinking lights are turning red in terms of constant cyberattacks on us, the kind of activity that he supported in Syria, supporting a brutal dictator, oh, his actions at the EU and what he said about the EU and his behavior at the NATO summit which I called wrecking ball diplomacy, and then blaming us for the problem we have with Russia, I don't understand it frankly.

I was listening to David Gergen there very intently. He may be right. He may think that the three of them can kind of remake the world and leave others behind. I hope that's not what it all is.

What I would hope they would get out of the summit is an agreement to sit down and continue arms control discussions. We believe the Russians have cheated on that as well, but it is in all of our interest, the world's interest for the two powers that control 90 percent of the nuclear weapons to sit down and reengage in arms control.

I think Putin is looking for reason to take himself out of Ukraine. It is a drain on him. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe we'll see something there. And, of course, in Syria, he's interested in leaving there. But if they leave too quickly, you could see a beginning of a civil war again there.

I hope we're going to see something positive, but the way in just was really amazing to me. And really amazing also that many of my - members of my party, the Republican Party, didn't say anything about this. This is not an appropriate way to approach Putin.

[09:25:00] And let me say that I was there when Reagan was negotiating with Gorbachev. It was always - they were the evil empire. You remember that? The evil empire. And that sent shudders through all these people over in the Soviet Union.

We didn't get any of that. We had attacks on the DNC and some of these other things, Anderson. Very concerning, but maybe we'll be surprised and maybe something really good will come from this. We have to hope for it because of the importance of our ability to manage not only nuclear weapons, but a lot of the geopolitical situations that exist in the world where Putin has a great interest.

I wish that we would raise the issue of the hacking. I mean, when Dan Coates says they are constantly hacking us and influencing our elections and elections in other countries, that should have been the opening statement. We'll see. We all hope the president does well in this.

COOPER: Well, blinking red is the terminology that was used by US intelligence prior to 9/11. The fact they are reusing that term should cause concern to everybody.

But it's interesting, you talk about Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an evil empire and that sending shudders, if anything, the president's tweets even just today certainly didn't send any shudders to the Russian foreign minister.

In fact, they retweeted what the president and said, oh, yes, we agree, it is - was America's fault for being sloppy essentially and that caused the hacking.

KASICH: Well, Anderson, the NATO alliance has kept the peace in the world for 70 years. And when we see what happened at the EU summit and when we see what happened at the NATO summit, missed meetings, lectures, one-on-one bullying, it just bothers me as an American.

I'm not here to talk about these things because of politics. I'm really worried about the stability of the West. We're not there yet, but it's fraying. It's fraying. And I don't know why we want to fray an alliance.

Sure, we want to upgrade it. We want the Europeans to do more. We want to have good trade deals. I understand all of that. But that gets done in a normal diplomatic way.

Now, maybe with the election of Trump, people say throw that out the window and just go in there and try to operate from moment to moment. I don't think that's the right way to operate. I do not like the rhetoric. And I think it weakens the alliance.

And if you read the papers over the weekend, many of these European leaders are just getting fed up and they really are beginning to wonder whether they can trust and rely on us.

And it's really critically important when we think about the Baltics, when we think about the strength of NATO, when we think about the need to have shared values as it relates to open trade.

When you start fraying relationships like that and you get your people in a position of where they are embarrassed by the United States, it doesn't bode well when we need cooperation on critical and pivotal things that happen in the world.

COOPER: Yes. And as you said

KASICH: Let's hope they are going to come out of this thing -- let's hope they come out, Anderson, and the president has been able to achieve something significant. Let's hope for that. That's what we all want. I just view this with great trepidation.

COOPER: Yes. Well, they've been meeting now for more than two hours. They're going to be holding a press briefing. Governor Kasich, we'll be watching. Thank you very much. Any minute now, as I mentioned, these two world leaders will be coming out. We're, obviously, going to be bringing that to you live. I'm also here with David Gergen here in Helsinki, the site of the Trump/Putin summit.

Fascinating that they have been meeting for more than two hours. That initial meeting between them in Hamburg was also very long. That was a meeting in which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was there.

And we're getting a spray here of - this was the - there's the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. You see the Chief of Staff John Kelly, so the president there as well as John Bolton. You see the US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman sitting next to John Bolton, sitting across from Vladimir Putin and the Putin staff as well.

These are the larger bilateral meetings that, I guess, are taking place. I'm assuming now - control room, correct me if I'm wrong, this is live, is that right? So, we can now assume that the one-on-one meetings, David, have ceased. They went on for more than two hours. These are now the larger group meetings -

How important are the breakout meetings like this?

GERGEN: They are important in one sense. They won't - probably won't further deepen the conversation very much, but they will pick up on what was said in there. They'll learn more about what each person is coming from.

There's been a real issue if you've only got two people in there talking to each other, the two principals and then two interpreters. There are no notes that are going to be kept that are going to be made public.