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Trump Sides With Putin Over U.S. Intel On Election Attack; Trump Accused Of "Treasonous" Behavior After Siding With Putin; Putin Confronted With Mueller Indictment Of 12 Russians; Putin: U.S. Must "Reciprocate" If Russia Helps with Mueller Probe. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 16, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer. I'm reporting live from Helsinki. Our special coverage of the Trump/Putin Summit continues with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, not OK. The President's own party and closest confidants say he crossed the line today. Newt Gingrich calling Trump's defense of Putin the most serious mistake of his presidency.

And Putin confronted. Not, of course, by the President of the United States, but by Fox News. Putin tonight, breaking news on Mueller's indictment of 12 Russians. And Putin reportedly wants him dead. Those router (ph) on Putin who called him out today by name in his press conference with the President. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight on this Monday, breaking news. Damning condemnation, it is growing, after the President's stunning press conference with Vladimir Putin. A press conference where the President of the United States said he has no reason to doubt Putin's denial of attacking the United States presidential election.

The man serving up the most scathing criticism of Donald Trump tonight, Newt Gingrich, a man who has been loyal to the core to Trump since the campaign, an ardent defender daily. His wife, even President Trump's ambassador to the Vatican, today, though, crossed the line for Gingrich. He's tweeting tonight, "President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected immediately."

The most serious mistake of his presidency. That mistake, the President calling out his own intelligence chiefs, belittling them and taking Vladimir Putin's word against theirs publicly at a press conference next to Vladimir Putin in front of the whole world.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they 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.


BURNETT: It's hard to know what to do with that, all right? And that's how a lot of people have felt about it today. Let's be clear because I guess we still have to make sure we say this. Russian meddling in the United States election is not a matter of dispute, it has been proven forensically again and again and again. There isn't an intelligence chief, there isn't a Republican, there isn't even a Democrat, not in any political sphere or any, as I said, forensic sphere. There's a single person who questions it because it is a fact.

And that is why the rebuke of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has been so swift. The statements from Republicans today coming in one after the other. John McCain starting it. One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in history. Mitt Romney, disgraceful and detrimental to our Democratic principles.

The House Speaker Paul Ryan, there's no question that Russia interfered in our election. Senator Ben Sasse, this is bizarre and flat-out wrong. And some Republicans even went on camera to slam the President.


CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: President Trump failed America today.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I did not think this was a good moment for our country. I just felt like the President's comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: What the President said today is not accurate.


BURNETT: And of course the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also saying he believes the intelligence chiefs. Trump's performance to the press conference, siding with Putin, was, in fact, a shock to his own team. According to one U.S. official who told CNN the plan was that Trump would just pivot on election interference. It happened and move on. But of course he did the exact opposite. He started going into detail and he doubled down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you consider them -- that they are responsible for?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

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. We ran a brilliant campaign, and that's why I'm president.


BURNETT: Strong and powerful. That, of course, appears to be what the President admires the most. Now, as for Putin himself, in this same press conference he actually admitted that he did want Trump to win during the election and here is how he answered that question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. -Russia relationship back to normal.


BURNETT: So he did want him to win. That is what he is specifically referring to there. As of tonight, 25 Russians have been indicted by Bob Mueller for meddling in the U.S. election, including top military officials with direct ties to President Putin.

[19:05:12] Which is why Trump's Director of National Intelligence today took the unprecedented step, think about this, this is the Director of National Intelligence, he came out today with his own statement. Didn't clear it through the White House. In fact, takes on the President directly and says the opposite. Dan Coats, who you just heard the President call out by name, right, he says, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."

And when he says ongoing and pervasive, remember this, he gave a chilling warning just this weekend that Russia at this moment as the President of the United States defends Putin and says he believes him, Russia's working on another attack on America.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.


BURNETT: Now, of course, the President of the United States has been told again and again that Russia attacked the United States. Here are his own intelligence chiefs one after the other supporting the original January 2017 assessment that Russia attacked America in the 2016 election.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With regards to the Russian interference, did Russia interfere in the U.S. election? JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, I believe they did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In January of 2017, the I.C. issued a joint report on the Russia involvement in the 2016 elections. Do you agree with the findings of that report?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with the 2017 assessment.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, NOMINATED TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community.


BURNETT: So there is all the chiefs. And today, the former CIA Director John Brennan on Twitter talking about the President's comments with Putin and saying they were, "nothing short of treasonous".

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT in Helsinki. Jeff, you've been talking to White House officials. Obviously, a shocking day for them. Not at all how they wanted this to go or what they wanted the conversation to be tonight. What is their reaction to the President's comments?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, they are still trying to figure it out, but as they were assessing the political damage and the international foreign policy damage, they were getting some help with that. We have not seen a moment like this yet in the Trump presidency where so many Republicans, allies, supporters, even friends of the President were speaking out against what he had done. So there was a shellshocked feeling back in the west wing, I'm told, in Washington.

The President still flying back to Washington. He's tried to clean this up a little bit as he's been flying. He has some eight hours to think about it. You can be sure he's watching sort of all of this news coverage here, but there is a sense that they need to clean this up, as Newt Gingrich said, in his words, immediately. So the President does not have anything on his schedule tomorrow that would allow him to do that, but look for him to try to do something.

Aides are trying to figure out exactly what that would be. But I was told by a top U.S. official today that this was not the plan. As you said, he was supposed to move on beyond this and pivot and try to, in fact, reset the relationship. What he did was get caught up in one thing that has been his kryptonite, the election over Hillary Clinton. Talking about a, you know, servers and Electoral College. Here in Helsinki, the site of so many nuclear discussions, it seems smaller than that today, Erin.

BURNETT: Well, and of course, you know, he had to make the point we ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president. That perhaps goes to the heart of all of it, right? That even admitting that Putin interfered somehow questions his success, his manhood. You also, Jeff, reported on why Trump insisted on this one-on-one with Putin, which he very much did. This was his doing. This was just him and Putin and no one else.

ZELENY: This was his doing. This started at the beginning of a conversation when he called Putin to congratulate him and used that word congratulate him when his advisers asked him not to. He wanted to have a one-on-one meeting. His advisers were saying that President Trump wanted to have a meeting like his with Kim Jong-un last month in Singapore.

Erin, one key difference, Vladimir Putin has been around the block with four American presidents, 18 years, two decades in this. He was not the new kid on the block today. This summit was done on Putin time. He made the President wait. He controlled this entire event today. And Erin, it seemed to show.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. We're going to have much more on that, by the way, Putin showing up 40 minutes late and more on that in just a moment.

There is, though, more breaking news this hour as the President cozies (ph) to Putin and enrages his intelligence chiefs in his own party. The Justice Department charging a Russian national tonight with spying. And not just any Russian national, a woman who attempted multiple interactions with the Trump campaign, reportedly trying to broke her secret meetings between Trump and Putin.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT in Washington with this breaking news. And, I mean, Evan, this is pretty stunning coming on a day like this. How much interaction did this alleged Russian asset spy, Maria Butina have with Trump and his campaign?

[19:10:11] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well according to prosecutors, there was a lot of it. She spent the last few years trying to make inroads with the influential Republicans and conservative political organizations, including the national rifle association. Now, the goal, Erin, according to the charges filed in federal court was to influence American politics, quote, to advance the agenda of the Russian federation. And prosecutors in the court documents said that there were actually Americans who were involved in helping her.

Now, Butina worked with a Russian official named Alexander Torshin who is now among the group of Russians the Treasury Department put on the sanctions list probably this year. And CNN has reported that Butina was also part of an effort to build a back channel hoping to set up a meeting between the Russian President and then candidate Donald Trump. But that meeting didn't happen then but prosecutors provided details in court papers of some of the many ways that Butina tried to make connections with influential Republicans.

How much of the focus obviously was with the NRA. And prosecutors quoted one of the Americans she was working with saying, one month before the 2016 election that they were working on, quote, a very private line of communication between the Kremlin and the Republican Party through the NRA. Now, they attended political conferences. They attended the national prayer breakfast, Erin.

And prosecutors in court made it clear that this is an investigation that's still ongoing. That they say that there are additional subjects who are still under investigation, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Evan Perez.

And I want to go now to the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Senator, I want to get to the President's meeting with Putin in a moment, obviously, the big breaking story. But first, what Evan was just reporting on the breaking news of Maria Butina, the Russian national charged today with spying for the Russian government.

Lots of time with the Trump team and attempted personal interactions, right? Whether it be Don Jr., with the NRA, whether it'd be the prayer breakfast with the President of the United States. A rally she attended where she actually asked a question directly of then candidate Trump. Do you think the Trump team was aware of her real role?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, Erin, this is just one more example of the continuous outreach from Russian agents to individuals involved with the Trump campaign. And I'm not going to comment on the indictment today, although clearly I think there'll be more to come out of that. But we've seen already the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, who was reached out to by Russian agents.


WARNER: We all know about Russian agents reaching out to Mr. Trump Jr., Trump's son-in-law, the campaign manager Paul Manafort. We now have north of 30 indictments, five guilty pleas. And I think Mueller is -- there will be more to come. So, I would expect at least even from the Butina announcement today, but this is remarkable what's been going on.

If we just step back from the last week and look at what Donald Trump has done to try to, in effect, destroy the long-term alliances between America and its traditional allies in Europe and this activity today, it's got most of the world reeling. And I today was actually with a series of parliamentarians from other European countries --


WARNER: -- who had also been victims of Russian attack. And it was hard to explain Mr. Trump's actions.

BURNETT: So what did you think of what he said today, right? He said my people came to me, Dan Coats came and some others and said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be. He went on then to talk about the Russian President as strong and powerful. What did you think of that press conference today, Senator? WARNER: Well, it showed me that Mr. Trump is pretty weak, particularly when it comes to Vladimir Putin. He is not willing to stand up to him. I wonder what went on in that close to two-hour private meeting, again, remarkable. And I think we need -- there were translator notes at least on a classified basis, we ought to take a look at those notes.

And if we think about this again from a historical context, here with an American President kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin. If we thought about that historically, if John F. Kennedy had accepted Nikita Khrushchev's assertation that there were no Russian missiles in Cuba 50 years ago, the world might be very different. If Ronald Reagan had not been willing to press on Mikhail Gorbachev in terms of reforms in the then Soviet Union, things might be very different.

The idea that an American President is kowtowing to a Russian President is fairly remarkable and why you're seeing universal reflections from the intelligence community. Candidly, a lot of my Republican colleagues stepping up as well, and our European allies, their heads are spinning.

BURNETT: And they are arguing that. I mean, I can count just off the top of my head here at least 10 of them. Are you proud of your Republican colleagues? Have they done enough?

WARNER: Well, listen, I think statements are important, but I think, you know, Congress needs to act. And we'll talk through with our Republican colleagues what that action might take.

[19:15:06] But if we don't act, if we simply make statements then in effect, we give ascent or by default say this is now the American position when clearly 98 of us, at least in the Senate, before President went to the meetings said we reaffirm NATO. Now after the President's activities and the President's weak position with Putin, I think the Senate or the Congress needs to act to put out a different message.

BURNETT: I want to ask you about what John Brennan said today. Obviously Dan Coats came out and put out a statement. He is the sitting Director of National Intelligence, saying the opposite of what the President said. John Brennan, the former CIA Director, who, of course, was part of the original assessment that Putin attacked this country during the presidential elections, said, "Donald Trump's press conference, performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors". He puts that in quotes, of course, those are the words you use when you're going ahead with impeachment proceedings. He said, "it was nothing short of treasonous." Do you agree with that and is it time to start using the word impeachment?

WARNER: Erin, those are strong words, but what I believe is the intelligence community assessment that Russia intervened in our elections. And that assessment was reaffirmed bipartisan by our Senate Intelligence Committee just recently. And I feel for Dan Coats, who is a colleague of mine on the Senate Intel Committee. He's stood up strong as Director of National Intelligence. And i am very concerned when the President of the United States does not listen to the honest and straightforward assessments of the intelligence community.

BURNETT: But to be clear, Senator, you're not willing yet to say high crimes, misdemeanors, treason?

WARNER: I will -- Listen, we are going to finish our investigation and we'll reach our conclusions. I've not been willing to jump to the final conclusion until we finish our job. But the one thing I do know is it's the role of the intelligence community to speak truth to power. And unfortunately with this -- with Mr. Trump, we've got someone who doesn't want to hear any truth other than his own.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator Warner. I appreciate --

WARNER: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: -- your time and I know the country respects you and Senator Burr being willing to make -- wait until you make your final assessment. Thank you.

WARNER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Vladimir Putin confronted with Mueller's indictment of 12 more Russians.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: May I give this to you to look at, sir?


BURNETT: He didn't reach out to take it.

Plus, he's wanted by Putin and the Russian President made it clear today, he said his name in the press conference. He wants the U.S. to give him up. And Bill Browder is here live right here OUTFRONT to respond.

And Trump, an asset of Russian intelligence. Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman says this is now possible. He's my guest.


[19:21:37] BURNETT: Breaking news. In an interview just moments ago, Vladimir Putin was confronted with Special Counsel Bob Mueller's indictment of 12 Russians. Here he is with Chris Wallace.


WALLACE: I have here the indictment that was presented on Friday from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller that says that 12 members of Russian military intelligence, the GRU, and they talk specifically about units 26-165 and 74-455. They say -- you smile. Let me finish. They say that these units were specifically involved in hacking into Democratic Party computers, stealing information and spreading it to the world to try to disrupt the American election. May I give this to you to look at, sir? Here.



BURNETT: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, hat's off to Chris Wallace and Vladimir Putin. That just gives you a sense, right? He doesn't feel any social pressure to take that paper. Not at all.

OUTFRONT now, Julia Ioffe, contributing writer for "The Atlantic," journalist, correspondent for GQ Magazine, expert on all things Russia, John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst. And I want to note there's not another person on the screen. Michael Anton was going to be here. He is the former National Security Council Spokesperson under President Trump. He canceled and he knows I'm going to tell you this because he said he could not defend the President on his actions today.

John, let me start with you in this moment because I thought that moment was incredible. Just the smirk on the President Putin's face. He wouldn't take the paper.


BURNETT: Maybe he thinks if I gave someone a piece of paper, I don't know what he's thinking. The point is this is pretty incredible and Chris Wallace appears to have confronted him with this directly. Not so far as we know, the President of the United States.

AVLON: No. Chris Wallace was infinitely tougher and more skeptical with Vladimir Putin than President Trump. Certainly in public and you can only assume it was even worse in private. Today is a day that they'll be writing about in history books. We have never seen an American president be as obsequious to hustle foreign power, to sell out his own Justice Department, his own law enforcement, his own national defense director, DNI. It is embarrassing --

BURNETT: By name.

AVLON: By name.

BURNETT: Yes, Dan Coats.

AVLON: He is taking Vladimir Putin's word over his own Director of National Intelligence. That is an abdication of responsibility (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: I mean, Julia, you know, that interview, Putin also came out and dismissed the criticism against Trump. Let me just play that clip.


PUTIN: Why did we talk about, like, polite people? Why should this come as a surprise? Was it worth going all the way to Helsinki, going through the Atlantic to just insult one another and -- well, it's not exactly the diplomatic standard in the world.


BURNETT: I mean, Julia, defending President Trump and, of course, you know, also admitting in the press conference, right, that he did want Trump to win. He seemed eager to defend Trump.

JULIA IOFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": I mean, why wouldn't he? Trump has been so incredibly nice to him. He at every turn, every time Trump has been asked to say something even remotely critical, he has refused. And instead he bashes American institutions on foreign soil standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a foreign adversary.

[19:25:18] You know, what struck me watching those clips is Putin's on top of the world right now. Not only -- This comes a day after the triumphant end to the World's Cup that he pulled off without a hitch. It comes after a week of Putin -- excuse me, of Trump lambasting our closest allies to their face on camera, kind of doing Putin's work for him with his own hands. He's on top of the world. You don't put him in a corner. You don't give him a piece of paper. And I think there's a part of him that's really relishing watching this kind of American flailing about in humiliation that I think he feels that Russia experienced in the '90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

BURNETT: You used the word flailing about, I mean, it makes sense. And Julia, what do you make of someone who knows Russia so well, of the fact that Putin -- excuse me. Bless you. See, people, it's live television. But Putin, you know, coming -- I mean, Helsinki and Moscow, right, this is a hop, OK? He shows up 40 minutes late today. That's not an accident, is it?

IOFFE: No, that's a classic power move. This is what he does. He does this to his own pool reporters, to the queen of England, to the pope, to -- he did this to John Kerry. I believe he kept him waiting for over four hours at one point. It's a power move. It's all done to show that he is the one whose time matters. He is the senior partner in whatever talks are happening. He is worth waiting for and his time is the most expensive time.

BURNETT: So, you know, John, Michael Anton, obviously, the National Security Spokesman for the President. He was --


BURNETT: -- and he has been on this show and many others defending. He was scheduled to be on the show and he's not on because he said he can't defend it, he's not going to defend what he did today. I want to play the exchange between the A.P. reporter and Putin about Kompromat and whether that is what's responsible for what Trump said today. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you -- Does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family? UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 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. Please, just disregard these issues and don't think about this any more.

TRUMP: And I have to say, if they had it, it would have been out long ago.


BURNETT: John, BuzzFeed came out today questioned, do you think Vladimir Putin has something on him, of Jeff Merkley, Democratic Senator, I think it's likely. They have been asked your view is that the pee tape is real? Anybody -- If you don't know what I'm referring to, Google it. Merkley responds something close to that.

AVLON: Yes. I think it's important that we don't fixate solely on that as the bright, shiny, salacious object. I think what's obviously as we are searching at this point for an explanation for why Donald Trump is -- shows unusual reluctance to criticize or confront Vladimir Putin out of all of the other humans on planet earth. How come he won't only not only stand up for American interests, but is parroting Putin's party line in public and apparently in private. So something is not right. His own administration tries to contain the President. His own administration tries to be tough.

BURNETT: Michael Anton won't come on here and even defend them.

AVLON: Because you can't defend the indefensible. And today was indefensible.

BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.

And next, a man who said Putin wants him dead. And, by the way, the Russian President chose to call this individual out by name in today's press conference. Bill Browder, is he the bargaining chip between Trump and Putin? He's OUTFRONT next.

Plus, is Trump a Russian agent or playing one on TV? That is the question posed today from Pulitzer Prize winning writer Tom Friedman, who's also OUTFRONT.


[19:32:27] BURNETT: President Trump praising Vladimir Putin's offer to help U.S. officials question the Russians indicted by special counsel Bob Mueller for interfering in the U.S. presidential election.

Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, okay? (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It sure is an incredible offer, right? When you get some Russians in questioning the Russians. OK, OK, all right. Point made.

The president also said the U.S. should reciprocate by helping the Kremlin question top Putin critic Bill Browder, a man who is reportedly on Putin's hit list.

Bill Browder is now OUTFRONT.

I want to be clear, Bill, as I always am, when you speak to us from a remote location where you are tonight that you have asked us not to reveal your location because of safety concerns, which, of course, are directly linked to President Putin.

What we just heard sounds like a quid pro quo, right? We can question our guys. They're going to get to get you in exchange. So it's a quid pro quo. You're the quo.

Are you a bargaining chip here between Putin and Trump?

BILL BROWDER, PUTIN CRITIC: Well, I'm -- Putin wants me pretty badly. This is not the first time that he's made an attempt to get me. On May 30th, I was arrested in Madrid, Spain, on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant where they tried to get me there. That was the sixth Russian Interpol arrest warrant. They've been coming after me for a long time.

And so, this is just one more attempt that Putin is making. Yes, I'm a bargaining chip but he's using everything he's got with whomever he's got it with to try to get me.

BURNETT: So, when -- you know, we talk about this whole deal that Trump is talking about and saying Putin offered, right? It was, OK, we'll let you Americans talk to these Russians that you're indicting, you know, but there'll be Russians there and Russians should do the questioning.

Do you believe on that deal itself that Putin has any intention of allowing those Russians, some of whom, of course, are senior members of the Russian military with direct ties to Putin himself, to be interviewed by American investigators?

BROWDER: The whole thing is a big sham from top to bottom. So, there was the same story when Alexander Litvinenko was killed in London with nuclear materials, polonium. They allowed the British police to come to Russia to question Andrei Lugovoy, the alleged killer, but when push came to shove and the British police wanted to have him prosecuted, Vladimir Putin raised his hand and said, we don't allow the extradition of our nationals.

[19:35:04] And so, it's of no value whatsoever for anybody from U.S. law enforcement to go to Russia to allow the Russians to interrogate these people when they're never going to be brought to justice in the United States. This is just Putin playing games with Trump and sort of playing games with the American public as well, and then throwing my name into the hopper to make it even more interesting.

BURNETT: And, you know, Putin mentioned you today, obviously by name as part of this deal. You wrote an open letter to President Trump that he received just before this summit, in which you warned him not to trust Putin because he's a liar, as you said. And the only reason to deal with Putin is to contain him and not to engage him. OK?

But here is what Trump said about Putin today.


TRUMP: Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. We've taken the first steps towards a brighter future. This was a very constructive day. A good competitor, he is, and I think the word competitor is a compliment.

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.


BURNETT: How does that go over with Putin, Bill? That was showering him with praise.

BROWDER: Well, that is what -- that was sort of classic appeasement of Putin. I would describe that as Donald Trump's Neville Chamberlain moment, Neville Chamberlain being the person who tried to appease Hitler, and Putin looks at that as just unabashed weakness. He will take advantage of that. He will take advantage of Trump. He will take advantage of the United States if he sees that type of weakness, which he experienced today.

BURNETT: So, Bill, you know, you say a poison attack ordered by Putin could happen to you. You and I have talked about that. This is something you're worried could even happen to someone on American soil. It's happened on British soil.

We have no reporting at this time to suggest that Trump even brought up the nerve agent attack in the U.K. to Putin today, the Skripal attack. Could have happened, but as of now absolutely no reporting to suggest that in any way.

Your reaction?

BROWDER: Well, I mean, this was a -- the Skripal attack and the subsequent death from Novichok -- well, in England was an act of terror by the Russian government, by the Russian Federation using military-grade chemical weapons against an ally of the United States. For him not to bring that up is absolutely inappropriate, given the severity of what happened.

BURNETT: All right, Bill, thank you very much.

Just for everyone out there wondering, you know, why we ask a question like that. I just put it out there to think about it for a second yourself. If al Qaeda or ISIS had done something like this, used a nerve agent attack and killed somebody, we'd be talking about a totally different thing. You'd be talking about strikes and war and all sorts of things. And yet in this case, it's not even meriting being brought up. Instead, the leader's being praised as strong and powerful.

And next, Trump, a Russian asset? That's a huge thing to say. That is what the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Thomas Friedman is suggesting tonight. He's OUTFRONT, next.

And President Trump tougher on the press than he is on Vladimir Putin by far.


[19:42:23] BURNETT: Tonight, a Russian agent, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Thomas Friedman suggesting President Trump could be just that, after Trump belittled the U.S. intelligence community today, defending Vladimir Putin on the issue of trying to turn the U.S. election.

Friedman writes, quote: Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values that it leads to only one conclusion, Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.

And OUTFRONT now, "The New York Times" op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman.

Tom, I really appreciate your time tonight.

When you say asset of Russian intelligence, are you being tongue in cheek or do you truly believe a sitting president of the United States could actually be a Russian intelligence asset?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I absolutely believe he is either compromised or so personally warped, Erin, so incapable of seeing any issue other than through -- how it affects him personally that he's one of those two things. But we've never seen this kind of despicable behavior by a president of the United States ever.

BURNETT: I mean, what he did today, calling out his own director of national intelligence by name, as you point out, it is unprecedented. But, of course, Tom, it is far from the first time that the president has publicly taken Putin's side on this issue. In fact, he's done it almost every single time he's talked about it, right? Doubting U.S. intelligence.

What was different about today that made you take this step of using the words, "asset of Russian intelligence"?

FRIEDMAN: Well, two things were the context. One was the fact that we just indicted 12 Russian agents with incredibly detailed information about how these Russian agents connected to the government worked in the campaign to basically undermine the Democratic Party and support Donald Trump and that information was given out by our director of national intelligence and the Justice Department.

And at the same time, we had our own president literally denying that, diminishing it, basically ignoring it while he was standing next to the president of Russia, who he talked about having some sort of exceptional relationship with.

What has Vladimir Putin done that we should have an exceptional relationship with him?

This is a man who was basically responsible for providing the missiles that shot down a Malaysian civilian airliner over Ukraine. He's invaded Ukraine. He seized Crimea. He's been up to no good for so long, trying to basically divide and fracture the U.S.

Why in the world would you be sucking up to this man?

BURNETT: And calling him strong and powerful as Trump did, of course, at the press conference.

Tom, you actually called Trump did at the press conference today. Tom, you actually called Trump's actions treasonous behavior, which in that you join with the former CIA Chief John Brennan. He tweeted today: Donald Trump's press conference in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors.

[19:45:06] It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots, where are you?

My question to you, Tom, is -- are those Republican patriots there today? Today, whether it was statements or on camera, whether it was calling his behavior disgraceful or explicitly defending U.S. intelligence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain and other more traditional Republican critics like him all on that list.

Did they do enough?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Erin -- I'm sorry. No, look, Donald Trump is a -- is a man with no shame and the Republican Party today is a party with no spine. And when a man with no shame is combined with a majority party with no spine, we have a very dangerous situation.

You know, Donald Trump stood up once and said, I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and no one -- and my supporters would continue to stick with me. We now know he can engage in actually treasonous language and behavior next to the Russian president and his party will basically stick with him. There is only one thing to do, to count on this party with no spine to actually do something, to truly interdict Trump's behavior is a fool's errand.

There is only one thing to do, run for office as a Democrat, vote for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone to the polls to vote for a Democrat. That is the only thing to do.

And I say that not because I'm totally aligned with the Democratic agenda. I'm not. This is not about that agenda.

This is about the need to get a lever of power to contain a man who I believe has no business being president of the United States and has engaged in behavior that is utterly unbecoming of a president and totally inconsistent with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

BURNETT: I want to ask you, Tom, in that context about the other breaking news that came out today. You talked about the 12 Russians, right, in addition to the 11 before indicted on Friday. We now have an arrest of a Russian national in the United States for spying. Her name is Maria Butina and turns out she has interacted with Trump and his family directly.

She attended the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke. She attended his inauguration. She had a brief interaction with Donald Trump Jr. at an NRA convention. She attended a 2015 town hall in Las Vegas where she actually got a question of candidate Trump.

I wanted to play that exchange for you, Tom.


MARIA BUTINA: I am visiting from Russia. So, my question --

TRUMP: Ah, Putin, good friend of Obama, Putin. He likes Obama a lot.

BUTINA: My question --

TRUMP: Go ahead.

BUTINA: If you would be elected as the president, what would be your foreign politics, especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging both economies, or do you have any other ideas?

TRUMP: OK. Obama gets along with nobody. The whole word hates us. I know Putin, and I'll tell you what, we get along with Putin. I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK?


BURNETT: Of course, technically, when he says I know Putin that's before he ever met Putin, right? Except for the Green Room thing where they were on the same "60 Minutes" episode, even though they weren't --


FRIEDMAN: I think he meant to say, Erin -- Erin, I think he meant to say, Putin knows me.

BURNETT: That's the question to you, how troubling is this? By the way, she interacted with Trump and his family in some way four times.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, well, you know, I have a feeling, Erin, that Bob Mueller has a giant white board up in his office and it's got all kinds of lines connecting all kinds of people and all kinds of money and all kinds of Russian actors. Some we've heard about already. Many we probably haven't heard of.

And one day, he's going to take that white board down and he's going to show it to the American people. I hope he does it before the midterm because we can survive two years of Trump. We may -- our institutions may hold for four. We cannot survive eight years of this man. He will destroy the norms and institutions of this country.

BURNETT: Which, of course, as we know, world leaders are watching so closely every single day with baited breath, as one said recently. Thanks so much, Tom Friedman.

FRIEDMAN: Pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, trolling Trump. The message one newspaper sent to the president as he arrived for that controversial summit in Helsinki.

Plus, Putin puts the ball in Trump's court.


[19:52:15] BURNETT: Even as President Trump stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump chose to use his harsh words, you know, as he called Putin strong and powerful, here's what he decided to say about the reporters covering the event.


TRUMP: As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct.


BURNETT: So after the president tweeted much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct this is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country, but it some point it will heal. So, the news media, of course, remember, the enemy of the people, according to the president of the United States.

April Ryan is the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and our political analyst.

April, you know, the context here, a local newspaper in Helsinki put up billboards everywhere along the president's route that he could take to the summit. They say, Mr. President, welcome to the land of the free press -- or of free press. I'm sorry.

He obviously saw this billboard. What does it say that a newspaper in Helsinki did this?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It makes a big statement, particularly for a president who wants to stand on foreign policy and it seems to be failing. And this is a president that you've heard this before during this show, this is a president who took an oath of office in 2017, January 21st, 2017, to defend the Constitution.

And in that First Amendment, I mean, it's a broad Constitution, but in that First Amendment of the Constitution, it talks about freedom of the press. And for him to call us an enemy of the American people and call us fake, that is not upholding the free press. You know, the president likes to say, you know, it's unpatriotic to go against him. Some may question if that is patriotic to do this to the press.

BURNETT: Look, I guess and anywhere they do that, because it doesn't matter where you're standing. Everyone hears something. But to go overseas and to say that --

RYAN: He is the president of the United States everywhere.

BURNETT: -- when you're meeting with the president of a country that does not have a free press, when you talk about Russia, it takes on extra significance. He used the word "fake news" again and again and again over the past few days.

RYAN: In Europe.

BURNETT: Yes, in Europe and at this summit.

I mean, April, I mentioned Michael Anton, you know him, the former NSC spokesperson under Trump. He canceled his appearance on the show. He had been scheduled for several weeks, a couple of weeks at least to be on this show tonight for the Putin summit, and he canceled because he said he could not defend Trump today.

[19:55:03] All right. He said he just couldn't do it so he couldn't come on.

RYAN: Yes.

BURNETT: Now, he doesn't work for president anymore, because he has been on multiple times to make his case, to defend what the president did. He was part of the crafting of the foreign policy statements we have seen from this White House.

What does his cancellation say to you?

RYAN: It's indefensible. It's not just about Michael Anton. A lot of Republicans are having a hard time trying to deal with this, grapple with this.

This was very harsh today. And, you know, was waiting to hear something -- I even tweeted. I was waiting to hear something from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to spin this. They can't. No one can defend this at all. It's what it is.

BURNETT: All right. April, thank you.

And next, Putin and Trump, couldn't be happier over this gift. Jeanne Moos is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If there was a World Cup for soccer compliments, President Trump would deserve it for the praise he heaped on Russia's hosting.

TRUMP: One of the best ever. It was beautifully done. Great job.

MOOS: And suddenly from the sidelines of the summit --

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Speaking of the football actually.

MOOS: A ball materialized.

PUTIN: Mr. President, I'll give this ball to you and now the ball is in your court.

MOOS: President Trump seemed pleased, patting it affectionately.

PUTIN: That's very nice. That will go to my son Baron. We have no question. In fact, Melania, here you go.

MOOS: The U.S. ambassador to Russia got it on the bounce and passed it to Melania, who held it in her lap. But some saw a Trojan horse rather than a ball.

Tweeted Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, if it were me, I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.

One reporter tweeted: I just saw a U.S. Secret Service agent put the soccer ball Putin gave Trump through a security scanner.

Some compared the ball to the reset button Secretary of State Clinton once gave the Russian foreign minister.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We worked hard to get the right Russian word. You think we got it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it wrong.

CLINTON: I got it wrong.

MOOS: It's hard to go wrong with a ball, though there were jokes, but at least nobody at the summit dropped the ball.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

How could I miss that one?

New York. Maybe you should stand further away.


BURNETT: "ANDERSON" starts now.