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Paul Ryan Speaks Out; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 17, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. President Trump raised hell in Helsinki. Now, he's catching hell at home. After his mind-boggling comments yesterday where he took Vladimir Putin's word over the word of the American intelligence community, the condemnation came fast and furious. From the left no surprise, but from the right, and a lot of them as well, here's House Speaker Paul Ryan just this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WISCONSIN: Vladimir Putin does not share our interests. Vladimir Putin does not share our values. We just conducted a yearlong investigation into Russia's interference in our elections. They did interfere in our elections, it's really clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And he is not alone. Just take a look, here are all the Republicans in Congress who have publicly broken and disagreed with the president on this Russia meltdown. We almost need an IMAX screen to fit them all in.
And then, there's this.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE, R-ARIZONA: That was just a shameful performance. It really was.
SEN. BEN SASSE, R-NEBRASKA: And Vladimir Putin walked away from Helsinki with a win.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER, R-ILLINOIS: I think Trump -- President Trump was wrong yesterday in a major way. And I think it was a very embarrassing press conference.
REP. WILL HURD, R-TEXAS: And having the U.S. president side with -- with Putin over U.S. intelligence is just unacceptable.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BOLDUAN: But wait, there's more. John McCain called President Trump's performance yesterday one of the most disgraceful in memory. Even loyal Trump supporter Newt Gingrich said it was "the most serious mistake of Trump's presidency."
So, who is defending the president? For one, the vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Disagreements between our countries were discussed at length. But what the world saw, what the American people saw is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right, let's get right back to the Hill. Sunlen Serfaty's there on Capitol Hill. Sunlen, Paul Ryan this morning, he did not mince words. Is there movement to do something?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, it is certainly, Kate, a lot of words up here on Capitol Hill. We have heard from many Republicans about President Trump's press conference, about his words yesterday. But their response in large part has been just coming out in support of the intelligence community, in support of their findings, but certainly not taking that next step and outlining very clearly what they can do if anything up here on Capitol Hill.
And we did hear from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan just a few moments ago. And he did acknowledge that they have done sanctions in the past against Russia. And he said he would consider potentially doing more sanctions if there was that desire. But that certainly is far short of any sort of concrete action up here on Capitol Hill.
We certainly will see Democrats start to push Republicans to do more House -- excuse me, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is to go on the Senate floor in just a few minutes and outline steps that he believes that Republicans should take, including calling for more hearings, calling for hearings specifically of President Trump's national security team specifically on that issue.
So far, we have not seen any resolute action coming from Republicans. We know that one Republican, Senator Jeff Flake is right now writing some sort of resolution that would be in support of the intelligence community, essentially a rebuke of President Trump here. But really falls short of any action, certainly lacking specific teeth to that potential resolution. Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right, let's see what the next hours bring or if they all just try to move on to the next. Sunlen, it's great to see you. Thank you so much.
So, who's running point on damage control at the White House today? Chief of Staff John Kelly, no one's heard anything from him. National Security Advisor John Bolton who's sitting at the table with Trump, nothing from him either. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, crickets so far and there's no daily briefing scheduled yet today at the White House. Let's get over there.
CNN Abby -- CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House. Abby, the president, though, is tweeting and defending himself. What are you hearing?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The president is his own communications advisor and chief. And he is the one setting the tone on this today, other White House aides really conspicuously silent about this meeting that is being widely panned by Democrats and Republicans.
What we are hearing from our sources is that President Trump walked out of that meeting with Vladimir Putin, walked into his press conference and left the press conference thinking things had gone very well. But then, on his way home on Air Force One, watching the coverage on television, including on Fox News, he saw a lot of negative coverage. His mood soured fairly quickly.
Now, what we are seeing is the president offering a counter-narrative. And that narrative is pretty simple.
I strengthened NATO -- in the meetings that he had before with NATO leaders. And that is a threat to -- to Russia. So I wasn't easy on Russia. Listen to what he said in this tweet, "While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way. The fake news is going crazy."
But, obviously, this is not just about the news media responding - you just talked about a litany of republican lawmakers of - the president's own advisors saying he made a pretty big mistake by seeming to throw the intelligence community under the bus in that press conference yesterday.
The president is not backing down on this. He's saying, "I thought the meeting went extremely well," and that his actions and what he's claiming is strengthening NATO is more important than these really bad reviews that we're seeing from his own allies.
BOLDUAN: And definitely is a statement of where we are though, that it's the negative coverage of what happened, not, what happened or what his advisors told him shortly after, that he's reacting to and what soured his mood.
Abby, thank you so much. Let's see what else comes out of there. Joining me right now is CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. It's great to see you, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You, too.
BOLDUAN: What's your sense of things today?
BASH: You know, let's just focus on republicans because -
BASH: - that's what matters. What really - the only thing that matters - even Chuck Schumer, the top democratic in the senate said that yesterday, and he's right. Republicans run the House and the Senate, and they are the ones, particularly the elected officials, who have to answer to their base back home. particularly, we're talking about members of the House who have been in lockstep with the president. And the question that they are asking is whether or not this is different.
Because this is not just the president, you know, talking about fake news or going after a democrat or defending himself, this is a United States president, frankly, looking unpatriotic, which is (inaudible) to people in the base, in both parties, but even and especially people who adore this president.
And that is what republicans are trying to kind of feel out, whether or not, you know, the base back home, that they have been so afraid of upsetting because that would mean a political problem for them - so that's different. And the other thing is November's election, Kate, and we have so many vulnerable republicans, many of whom are in suburban districts. I talked to several sources today who say, is this one thing going to be what causes those voters to go out and vote democrat, probably not, but it is certainly, a very big element in the accumulative affect that makes people say, enough.
BOLDUAN: Let me get your sense, though, because you heard Paul Ryan say this morning that if the committee was - would bring him something, he'd definitely be open - open to looking at more sanctions against Russia, kind of on the what do republicans do and how do they react. But I'm also hearing, I guess it's kind of typical, all the republicans say that the only thing they can do is speak out and not much else. Here's Adam Kinzinger from this morning. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER, R-IL: I'd like to see, maybe a resolution reaffirming America's support for NATO, reaffirming, how ever want to word it, that Russia is an enemy or a competitor, at least, of the United States, and that they're doing really, really, really bad things around the globe, and there's equivalence (ph) to the United States. What's the way it words, I don't know, but I think that is the kind of things we can do in Congress. We can't overcome the president's role of commander-in-chief, that's constitutional, but we can make very strong statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right, but very strong statements do not a darn thing when it comes to the president. I mean, it's a strong statement from Congress. It doesn't force the president to do anything. I mean - but is that the hard truth?
BASH: It is the hard truth. Certainly, Congress can and has passed resolutions that are non-binding, meaning they don't have any teeth (ph) to them to make a statement so that they can go home. People like Adam Kinzinger can go home and say, "I voted for this resolution right here. You see it." And - and this - this condemns X or supports Y.
In this case, NATO or maybe even supports the idea that the intelligence community knows what it's doing, and Putin is not telling the truth, not American intelligence. But yes, more sanctions, possibly. Remember, Kate, that at the beginning of the Trump presidency, it was Congress, in a very big bipartisan way, that forced him, because the vote was so big, to sign -
BOULUAN: And he held out - remember, he hold out.
BASH: - a measure - and he held out - exactly, to sanction Russia. And the other thing is, this is just words, but at least it will - it will potentially help illuminate the policy. And the difference is, Congress has oversight responsibility, and they can invite and should invite members of the president's national security team to come and testify and talk about what the American and what of the U.S., the Trump Administration policy, really is towards Russia.
I think at the end of the day that will probably just give us more of what we know, which is that his senior leaders -- the people who work for him don't agree with him on this.
BOLDUAN,: Yes, that's absolutely right. Another voice was kind of, sort of added to the mix this morning. President Obama speaking out today in South Africa, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: But given the strange and uncertain times that we are in, and they are strange, and they are uncertain. But each day's new cycles are bringing more head spinning and disturbing headlines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Per usual though, President Obama did not mention Donald Trump by name, and in this case he's not even naming yesterday's news -- but you know, you infer it from what he's saying. What do folks do with this?
BASH: You know, I think that the former President was making a speech, and it would have been crazy for him not to at least mention it -- what is going on in the way that he did. It's really interesting Kate, people who are close to the former President are asked all the time -- I know, and I'm sure you do too. Where is he? Why isn't he out more? Why isn't he using his voice more?
And the answer they give kind of makes sense, which is what does Donald Trump love more than anything else? A foil. So it would allow the perspective of, my understanding is -- President Obama and the people around him, it would allow the President -- the current President to kind of say, you know, don't forget about President Obama who most of the people who voted for Trump couldn't stand.
So there is that, and you know it's a tough position for Barack Obama because he is trying to follow the rule and the protocol of former presidents, but this is anything but normal times when it comes to protocol.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. And when the President is his own foil, well how many foils have there needed to be (ph)? Great to see you, Dana.
BASH: You too, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Coming up for us, did President Trump's performance in Helsinki was not a slip of the tongue, and it was not -- then why did he take the word of Vladimir Putin over his own Intelligence Officials?
The shocking series coming up, plus she's accused of trying to infiltrate the Trump Campaign and the NRA for the Kremlin. Court documents suggest investigators could just be scratching the surface when it comes to an alleged Russian secret agent. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: President Trump's comments from Helsinki are setting shock waves through Capitol Hill, as we've been discussing. Given a chance to condemn Russian interference in the U.S. election, the President did not. Instead, he did this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me. Dan Coats came to me and some others; they said they think its 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. Where are the servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hilary Clinton's emails? 33,000 emails gone. Just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn't be gone so easily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now, both Republicans and Democrats are speaking out. The Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed that the Intelligence Committee -- reaffirmed their -- the Intelligence Committee's assessment.
The assessment that again, Donald Trump did nothing to defend yesterday. I should note we invited on all of the Republican's on the Senate Intelligence Committee today to talk about all of this. Those Republican members have all declined.
Joining me right now, Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota. She sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thank you so much for coming in.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MN.: Thank you Brianna.
BOLDUAN: People and institutions that the President attacked in this press conference yesterday are the following, maybe not comprehensive but here's the list off the top of my head.
Hilary Clinton and her missing emails, the FBI and an FBI agent, the DNC and its computer server, Democrats in general, the Mueller investigation. What did the President not criticize about yesterday? Vladimir Putin. That was not a slip of the tongue, But why did he do it Senator?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. I can't read into what he's doing. I don't know what they have on him or what they may not have on him. But what I do know --
BOLDUAN: Do you think they have something on him? Is that where you are at this point?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. I'm a prosecutor. I've looked at the evidence, I don't have that evidence. But what I do know is that number one, we have to let the Mueller investigation certainly be completed now. Look at what we're seeing. More and more indictments.
More and more information. We now have a separate indictment of Ms. Gutina (ph) that is coming from another part of the Justice Department based on National Security issues. And then we've got to get those people extradited and come in and face these charges out of Russia.
And that's what I wanted to hear yesterday. I wanted to see the President take a strong stance to demand that these people that his own Justice Department has indicted, come to a court of law.
I wanted to hear him condemn what had happened when his own intelligent head, Dan Coats says immediately after the Summit, says that this happened and then in fact as he has said many times Russia has been emboldened.
You have Republican leaders from John McCain to Bob Corker calling this a disgrace. Basically saying he made our nation look like a push over. So you've got a lot of condemnations going on Brianna. But I want to see now is action.
Let's do something about this get these witnesses in, have a hearing about what actually happened at the Summit and let's pass a national secure elections act -- which is something Senator Lankford and I have been working on with Senator Harris and Senator Graham, which basically would guarantee that Homeland Security has to share information about hacking with our State Secretaries of State across the country. BOLDUAN: I have heard some Democratic Senators say that they would
like to see the interpreter's notes from the one-on-one meeting between President Trump and President Putin yesterday. Can you really get your hands on those notes?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know about that but there were a lot of people around that Summit. There were a lot of people from our government that were there and I think they should tell us what happened, they know things going -- they knew things going out.
And again, many of us felt it was a very bad idea to have this meeting and mostly to have it in private. But it happened, but certainly the worst part about it was that to stand in front of the world after berating our allies like Great Britain, and Germany. Senator Warner and I met with our European Allies yesterday and heard firsthand the attacks that they've had on their own elections. They're looking for America to lead and protect democracies across the world.
BOLDUAN: So -- in tangible terms though, getting your hands on the translator notes -- do you really, is there a chance of doing that at all?
KLOBUCHAR: I'd love to get my hands on those I just don't know if that's going to be possible legally but we have to do everything we can and you go where the evidence leads you, and of course here you want to follow some of the money, follow the leads, figure out what happens -- and that's something that Director Mueller is doing with his investigation.
BOLDUAN: Does anything that you heard yesterday reach to the level, as it's been suggested, reached to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors? Anything reach the level of treason? Which I've heard folks suggest?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, you want to see the investigation completed -- the Mueller Investigation because whatever you want to call it, you can't prove anything without the investigation completed. And so right now, that's what I'm focused on -- protecting that investigation, getting the information and mostly educating the American people on what happened in this last election.
It wasn't just in the general election, it happened in the Republican Primary, it happened to Marco Rubio's campaign where the Russians were messing around -- they messed around with Brexit, they've messed around in the Baltic countries, they have done this all over the world to disrupt free democracies.
And that is the clear message we should have been hearing from the President of the United States, and if he's not going to give it -- it's on the rest of us to make it very clear that this happened both Obama and Trump Intelligence Chiefs (ph) have said it happened and that they're getting bolder, and they're going to do it again. And that's why it's paramount that we protect the election equipment and we do something about the paid ads on social media, before 2018.
BOLDUAN: And you're the rules committee, and the rules committee has jurisdiction over Federal elections -- so this is an area that you are deeply about. I want to ask you, if I could though I want to ask you because you served in the Senate with Dan Coats. He's of course now the Director of National Intelligence, and President Trump very clearly sided with Vladimir Putin over Dan Coats yesterday.
The former acting Director of the CIA, Mike Morell, he says that he would actually advise Intelligence Officials to consider stepping down and resigning after this. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MORELL, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CIA: I do think that senior officials in the Intelligence community need to ask themselves whether they can continue to serve this President, and represent the men and women in the Intelligence community in a way that is positive? I'm deeply concerned about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Do you think Dan Coats should resign?
KLOBUCHAR: Well Kate, I will say this is that I don't think that Dan Coats should resign. And I know that that is out of -- people have been calling for General Mattis to resign. I want to have some very solid people in those positions right now, they are in charge of the people that are working with them. They're in charge of many, whether it's intelligence agents, whether it is people out there in the field. And I know that there's an urge to do that, and I understand why. But while the President is there, I want to have people in place that know what they're doing and are willing to speak the truth, and that's what we're hearing from Dan Coats and what we've heard from in other areas from General Mattis.
BOLDUAN: Senator, thank you for coming I appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you Kate, and I was sorry I couldn't see you so I didn't know it was you asking the questions instead of Brianna -- thank you very much.
BOLDUAN: That's OK, I'm just going to call you -- you're just Sarah Klobuchar from now on. It's cool, it's cool. Great to see you Senator, I really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. See you, bye.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. So why did the President take the word of Vladimir Putin over his own Intelligence Officials? The surprising theory now being offered up on both sides of the aisle, that's next.
BOLDUAN: President Trump stood up before the world. Stood next to one of America's chief advisories; took questions and jaws dropped. One American who has never equivocated on Vladimir Putin, Republican Senator John McCain who put out this statement right after that press conference yesterday.