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Trump Sides with Putin over U.S. Intelligence; U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Wins on Amended Customs Bill, Minister Resigns; France Welcomes Its World Cup Victors; U.N. Keeps Israel-Lebanon Border Quiet; Amazon Prime Day Shoppers See Pups On Error Pages; Amazon CEO Worth More Than $150 Billion.. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired July 17, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president facing backlash from his own party and the intelligence community after his statements at a news conference beside the president of Russia.
In the meantime, details that we are learning about how Russian hackers operate and why that could be a worrying issue for President Putin.
Plus, the homecoming for the heroes in France. Take a look at that, the streets of Paris, throwing a party for the World Cup champions.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers from all around the world. I'm George Howell, the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: Around the world, good day to you.
The U.S. president promised that he would bring up the Russian interference in the 2016 election issue up and that he was going to bring that up with Vladimir Putin in Finland and he did but what we got was a complete surprise. President Trump accepting Mr. Putin's denial, despite mountains of evidence from the U.S. intelligence community.
Our Jim Acosta explains for us.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vladimir Putin could not have scripted the moment better himself. As President Trump tossed aside the U.S. government's conclusion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and cozied up to the Russian leader. In a stunning moment, Mr. Trump blamed America, too.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I do, I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish, I think we have all been foolish, we should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office and I think we are all to blame.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The moment played right into Putin's hands, who continued his denials.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Could you name a single fact that what definitively proved the collusion, this is utter nonsense, just like the president recently mentioned.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As for the Justice Department indictment announced late last week, accusing 12 Russian agents of hacking into Democratic Party emails, Putin said he would invite investigators with special counsel Robert Mueller's team over to Russia to question officials.
PUTIN (through translator): I don't know the full extent of the situation but President Trump mentioned this issue and I will look into it.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The Russian president did admit one thing, he wanted Mr. Trump to win in 2016.
PUTIN (through translator): Yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As Putin offered up a memento from the World Cup, it was clear who was in control of this field.
TRUMP: Melania, here you go.
ACOSTA (voice-over): There would be no public confrontation to stop meddling in U.S. elections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Would you denounce what happened in 2016?
And would you warn him to never do it again?
TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server.
Why haven't they taken the server?
Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was all but admitting he'll take Putin's word over the assessment of his own intelligence officials.
TRUMP: 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.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Touting his years as a KGB agent... PUTIN (through translator): I would like to add something to this. After all, I was an intelligence officer myself. And I do know how dossiers are made up.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Putin weighed in on perhaps the biggest lingering question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?
ACOSTA (voice-over): At first, Putin smirked at the question as laughter broke out in the room, then he dodged again.
PUTIN (through translator): I did -- heard these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow. Well, distinguished colleague, let me tell you this.
When President Trump was at Moscow back then, I did not know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed that me he was in Moscow.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Both leaders quickly left the room with so many unanswered questions in their wake.
Back in Washington, leaders from both parties were shell-shocked.
Senator John McCain released a statement saying, "Today's press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."
Former President Obama's CIA director, John Brennan, tweeted, "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- "crimes and misdemeanors, it was nothing short of treasonous."
GOP senator Bob Corker captured much of the bipartisan disappointment.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENN.: I did not think this was a good moment for our country.
HOWELL: Jim Acosta with the reporting there, Jim, thank you.
Now on the flight home from Finland, President Trump tried to curb the criticism, tweeting that he had great confidence in his intelligence people.
Earlier, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, issued a strong defense of the intel community. He said this, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian
meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy. And we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security."
After his meeting with President Trump, Vladimir Putin sat down for an interview and he denied Russia colluded with Donald Trump's campaign. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): First of all, Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: But, sir, this is the indictment. It shows -- I have 12 names here. It talks about specific units of the GRU, Russian military intelligence.
Is the GRU not part of the Russian state?
PUTIN (through translator): Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States, did you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?
WALLACE: I'm not asking --
PUTIN (through translator): This is utterly ridiculous.
WALLACE: I'm asking whether they tried.
PUTIN (through translator): I said this in 2016 and I say it now, the idea was about hacking an email account of a Democratic candidate.
Was it some rigging of facts?
Was it some forgery of facts?
That's the important thing that I'm trying to -- important point that I'm trying to make.
Was this any false information planted?
No, it wasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let get the top takeaways now from CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, following the story live in Helsinki.
Nic, what a day. All things considered, this president said nothing negative about his Russian counterpart, leading some to question his own allegiance to the U.S. and Western principals.
How is that being perceived on the broader world stage?
That's the first part of the question.
And secondly what is the message back here?
And to U.S. allies?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think, clearly, President Trump faced tougher -- President Putin, rather, faced tougher questions from journalists yesterday than he appeared to, at least publically, from President Trump.
And the way it's being portrayed on the front of one newspaper here in Helsinki is, "Putin 1, Trump 0," clearly a reference to the World Cup. But it very clearly underlines the way that the world is perceiving this beyond the clear U.S. domestic political implications of the Russians that this is causing.
Here in Helsinki, it's being read that President Trump really, in some ways, capitulated to President Putin. And this is a country that has refused to capitulate to the Soviet Union or Russian meddling of any description over many, many decades now.
This is a country that understands the malign influences that President Putin and some Russian leaders have had. More broadly than that, the question now emerges for the United States' allies and, of course, this comes after a turbulent week.
Leaving Washington last week, President Trump said he would have a tough time at NATO, a tough time in the U.K. and an easy time with President Putin. I don't think anybody imagined it would be this way, that he would rip through his allies before arriving here, appearing only to trust his principal adversary or what the world perceived as his principal adversary.
So the question emerges for the United States' allies now, those who have been so challenged by President Trump. I'm thinking here of Theresa May, Angela Merkel, to name the just two important United States' allies that have been so challenged by President Trump over the past week.
If he cannot trust, and he seems not to be able to do that, despite what he said on the flight on the way home, if he cannot trust his own intelligence officials over and above the United States' principal adversary, an adversary that is trying to undermine the democracy of the United States, attack the democracy of the United States, similarly with its allies in Europe by meddling in elections, if President Trump cannot trust his own intelligence services on that issue, the question for the United States' allies will be now, can he trust his allies?
Can he trust the leaders?
Can he trust the intelligence services that inform those leaders with whom he sits down and talks?
And the answer or the assessment would have to be, if he cannot trust his own --
ROBERTSON: -- intelligence services, that is going to erode his alliance with his allies. And that will weaken the strength of those relationships and raises a question about what Trump may do next.
It may not be to the interests, the national security interests, of those allies. So it raises, George, huge, huge and fundamental questions.
HOWELL: Big, big questions that many Americans will certainly grappling with, given what played out in Helsinki.
Look, President Trump, getting back into the fine detail of this, he did push back; he did say that he does support U.S. intelligence agencies.
But, Nic, is that pushback enough?
ROBERTSON: Look, it's typical President Trump, it's typical of the past week, it's typical of what he has done over the past 18 months and done prior to that. We saw it in Britain with Theresa May, an utterly corrosive and undermining interview with a British tabloid newspaper, "The Sun," hitting out at Theresa May at her tactics over Britain's exit of the European Union.
We look at the impact that had on her in the House of Parliament last night, when she had just scraped through on a couple of votes on modifying the Brexit deal that he so undermined so publicly, 303 votes to 300.
It's difficult to calculate the impact that President Trump's words have actually had in Britain. So, you know, the idea that, as he did, as he exhibited in the U.K., to roll back later in the day, after that corrosive interview, a few hours later, apologizing to Theresa May, publicly taking a press conference with her, seeming humble, saying that he backs her and supports her, the reality was and remains for President Trump today, that he has done the damage. One cannot roll back that damage, as we are seeing by the bipartisan statements we are hearing in the United States.
President Trump, for many, both Republicans and Democrats, has crossed a line here. So it would be very hard to imagine how he can roll it back, other than perhaps, in his own estimation of his abilities to change people's opinions. The reality is, as with Theresa May, the damage is done. Once those words come out, they cannot be put back in the box.
That is his conundrum, facing the United States' allies and obviously, a conundrum facing President Trump's political supporters in the United States right now. HOWELL: As he wakes up this day in Washington, certainly the words that were said, the body language that many people saw, the overall optics that come from this Helsinki summit, it seems that the chorus of criticism is quite consistent.
Nic Robertson, thank you so much for the context and your reporting. We'll keep in touch with you.
In a few hours' time, after the Helsinki news conference, we learned that a Russian woman, attending graduate school in Washington, had been arrested, accused of spying. The allegation links her to the 2016 presidential election. Sara Murray explains for us.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest piece in a dizzying spree of Russian news, the U.S. government charging 29-year-old Russian national Mariia Butina with being a spy for the Russian government here in the United States.
Butina was arrested on Sunday and appeared in court here in D.C. on Monday. The Justice Department announced she was charged with conspiring against the U.S. as a foreign agent.
According to court filings and previous CNN reporting, Butina spent years trying to make inroads with Republican Party leaders, politicians and business leaders to promote Russian interests. She and her mentor, Kremlin-linked banker, Alexander Torshin, had close ties with the leadership of the National Rifle Association and appeared to use that group as their primary avenue of influence.
The NRA did not respond to a request for comment.
During the presidential campaign, she and Torshin even tried to arrange a covert back channel of communication between then candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin although it does not appear they were successful.
Butina's arrest is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and it offers yet another glimpse of how Moscow was trying to influence the U.S. political climate ahead of the 2016 elections.
In April 2018, the U.S. slapped Torshin and other Russian officials with sanctions. As for Butina, her lawyer insists she is not a Russian agent but rather a bright graduate student living in the U.S. and trying to foster a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.
"There's simply no indication of Butina trying to influence or undermine any specific policy or law of the United States, only at most to promote a better relationship between the two nations," her lawyer said in a statement -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Sara, thank you, again the optics and the outcome of that
summit in Helsinki, many in Russia are quite delighted with what happened. Others though, horrified.
ALEKSEY PUSHKOV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: I think it was a victory for both sides.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is probably the --
PANETTA: -- most tragic day in the history of the presidency.
HOWELL: And even some of the president's staunchest supporters, they are calling what he said a big mistake. We will have details on that ahead.
Also, it seems all of France turned out on Monday, celebrating that country's World Cup win. We will take a look at these big celebrations right there down the Champs-Elysees. Stay with us.
HOWELL: As I have mentioned, the U.S. president will be waking up at the White House in a few hours' time and it's likely that he will not be happy with the headlines that he will see over his Helsinki summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Trump is facing criticism from all corners, criticism from even some of his most ardent defenders over his refusal to confront President Putin over Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. At that news conference, Mr. Trump said he had no reason to doubt the Russian leader and his assurances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
But just to say it one time again, and I say it all the time: there was no collusion. I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with.
We ran a brilliant campaign, and that's why I'm president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: All right, President Trump there.
Now we are hearing from one of President Trump's most staunch supporters, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, calling the president's comments in Helsinki "the most serious mistake of his presidency," Gingrich essentially saying that these mistakes must be corrected immediately.
Gingrich in alignment with the former CIA director, Leon Panetta, who said Mr. Trump embarrassed the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PANETTA: This is -- this is probably the most tragic day in the history of the presidency because a United States president, who is elected to defend and protect --
PANETTA: -- the United States of America against our adversaries, stood up next to our adversary and said he trusts the Russians more than he trusts our own intelligence and law enforcement officials.
That is tragic. And I have never seen a president in my lifetime ever make that kind of mistake.
You've got 17 intelligence agencies. You have his Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Coats, who has repeated this constantly. You have got Mr. Pompeo, when he was the CIA director, say exactly that, that the Russians had directly interfered in our election.
You have got 12 indictments by Mr. Mueller against Russian military officers. All of this makes very clear what happened in that election. And the president knows it. He has been told it. And to continue to say that, somehow, the Russians are to be trusted for, in their word, that they didn't do this, is outrageous.
It's something that I never thought a president of the United States would say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: All right, that's the view back here in the States.
But the Russian senator, Aleksey Pushkov, talked with my colleague, CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, and she asked, who won the summit?
Was it Donald Trump or was it Vladimir Putin?
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEKSEY PUSHKOV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: Well, I think that both sides have
won, that they have moved from this dead point in the relation, which is a dangerous thing basically because both the United States and Russia play an extremely important role in today's world.
And also if they go to conflict, it will be a world conflict. So I think it was a victory for both sides.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: So there is no doubt that they both play a really important role.
I need to ask you, though, even you, even the Russians must've been surprised pleasantly, probably, that President Trump seemed to side with President Putin in the matter of the meddling in the U.S. elections, siding against his own intelligence and against the weight of evidence in the U.S.
What did you even think when you heard that in the press conference today?
PUSHKOV: Well, I think that it was the position of the president of the United States and I take it at face value. And, basically, that's it.
AMANPOUR: We were all surprised to hear President Putin, when directly asked, say that, yes, I wanted President Trump to win in the election.
So my question to you is, what do you all see as President Trump's ability to maneuver?
President Putin is very pragmatic. He's been around the block for decades. He knows the lay of the land, perhaps better than President Trump does.
What can you expect in terms of bilateral relations from the president?
PUSHKOV: Well, I think that they have tried to make a new start in the relationship. As I said, the relationship was at a dead point. The United States closed a Russian consulate in San Francisco; we closed a consulate in St. Petersburg.
About 100 Russian diplomats were sent away from the United States. We cut the number of American diplomats in the embassy in Russia.
And so, frankly, I was asking myself where it will all go and when will it all end?
What kind of de-structuring of our relationship will happen next?
And when something happens, which is bringing some normalcy to the relationship, at least that the presidents are speaking between themselves, I think it's a very good thing.
AMANPOUR: All right. So if you're asking me whether those negotiations will be followed by some practical steps, this I think will become clear when Mr. Trump comes back to the United States. They're hard to predict. But it changes the atmosphere. It changes the climate.
And that's why I think that we, in Russia, are quite happy with the summit.
HOWELL: Russians happy with what happened in Helsinki and many in the United States still concerned and confused about the statements and the actions of the U.S. president.
Moving on now to the United Kingdom and a victory on the issue of Brexit for the British prime minister, Theresa May, but at a cost to her. She won a series of votes in Parliament after some amendments to her customs bill. The bill is designed to create a independent customs policy after Britain leaves the European Union.
But her junior defense minister resigned, becoming the 10th Conservative to quit over the Brexit plan.
Now to France where an energized group of people, big crowds welcomed home the French World Cup champions on Monday. The French team gave a memorable performance through the competition, topping it off with a 4-2 win over Croatia in the final on Sunday. And take a look --
HOWELL: -- there. The streets of Paris, the streets alive with people, excited about that big win. Thousands flooded the Champs- Elysees to greet the team. The players rode through the streets in an open-top bus. But heavy security kept the crowd at a distance there.
In a special airshow, several fighter jets flew over Paris, leaving behind a trail of blue, white and red. The players changed into their suits before heading to the Elysee Palace to meet the French president Emmanuel Macron. CNN's Melissa Bell has more about the excitement in the French capital.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The French team that have just made their way into the Elysee Palace at the end of the extraordinary journey from the airport, the first time that they had the chance to see all of those many hundreds of thousands of fans, who have been rooting them on in the searing heat.
The fans are here on the Champs-Elysees to welcome their heroes back to Paris. Now they are inside with Emmanuel Macron, where they will spend the next few hours, some time alone with the French president but also a garden party with some 3,000 guests, including about 1,500 youngsters who have been invited to come here today to meet the men who have become not only their heroes but the heroes of an entire country -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HOWELL: Melissa, thank you.
And in Zagreb, Croatia, look, there's no shortage of love and excitement for the Croatian team. They were given a hero's welcome there in the capital city, despite losing to France. Tens of thousands of people all came together in Zagreb's main square, welcoming home the players, chanting, "Champions, champions."
The team greeted fans in an open-topped bus and crowds were able to get close enough for autographs and an occasional selfie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZLATKO DALIC, CROATIA FOOTBALL MANAGER (through translator): I don't have the words to thank you for this welcome. We played for us, for our families and for you and entire Croatia.
DALIC (through translator): For Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in diaspora and for our war veterans, without them, we would not have this flag here. You helped us to give our best. You helped the boys to give their best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: A nation of 4 million urged citizens to celebrate, making public transportation free, cutting railway ticket prices in half so that fans could travel to the capital. The prime minister, who openly supported the team, tweeted, "Croatia is proud of our heroes."
The big story we are following around the world, the U.S. president sides with the president of Russia. President Trump facing bipartisan criticism after his news conference with Russia's Vladimir Putin. We will look at the fallout from Monday's summit ahead.
Also the U.S. Justice Department just made some of Russia's cyber hacking secrets public. Still ahead, a look at what we have learned from that. Stay with us
[02:30:30] HOWELL: A warm welcome back to viewers all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following this hour. The U.S. president facing harsh criticism for refusing to challenge the leader of Russia over that nation's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. U.S. intelligence agents -- intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia did meddle and just last week, 12 Russian officers were indicted on charges related to that very issue. Hours after President Trump's summit, the U.S. Justice Department revealed the arrest of a Russian national accused of conspiring to act against U.S. as a spy. The U.S. alleges 29-year-old Maria Butina worked with two unnamed U.S. citizens and a Russian official trying to influence U.S. politics and infiltrate the National Rifle Association. Her attorney denies the charges.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May won a series of votes in parliament this after giving into pressure from Brexit supporters on her customs bill. The measure creates an independent customs policy after Britain leaves the European Union. But junior defense minister Guto Bebb voted against the government and resigned. He is the tenth conservative to quit over the Brexit plan. Now, let's take a closer look at Donald Trump's comments on Russian hacking. During the news conference following Monday's meeting with Vladimir Putin, a rush -- a reporter asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Here's the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What -- who -- my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is, would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server, why haven't they taken the server, why was the FBI told the leave the office of the Democratic National Committee. I've been wondering that. I've been asking that for months and months and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question, my people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Two Republican Senators made their thoughts known on the Trump-Putin meeting, Orrin Hatch, a key Trump ally released a statement saying, "Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Our nation's top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. From the president on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says." Republican Senator John McCain also saying this, no fan of Donald Trump calls the news conference one of the most disgraceful performances of an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump's naivety, egotism, and false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. McCain adding, President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. Some other Republicans also reacted to what happened in Helsinki. Listen.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIR OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I just felt like the president's comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover. I did not think this was a good moment for our country.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What the world saw what the American people saw is a president, Donald Trump, will always put the prosperity and security of America first.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it was a great idea and a good idea to meet with the Russians and to have engagement, conversations, and to make sure that we don't accidentally stumble into war.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: What the president said today is not accurate. The intelligence community has assembled probably an unparalleled amount of evidence in regards to the Russians not just efforts to interfere in 2016 but ongoing efforts to interfere in American society.
[02:35:05] HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now and Steven Erlanger, Steven, the chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times live via Skype in Brussels. A pleasure always to have you on the show, Steven. Given the president's performance on the world stage, it laid bare the rift between his approached at praising Mr. Putin at the expense of his own U.S. intelligence agencies and we just heard from many lawmakers some seem supportive, but the majority of opinions seems to be really frustrated and concerned with President Trump's stance. Does what happened in Helsinki put more pressure on the president?
STEVEN ERLANGER, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it was an extraordinary performance. Your own anchorman called it disgraceful. What was most bizarre is that he took the best efforts of his intelligence agencies and his own administration, put them next to the assurances of the Russian president, and said, he couldn't make up his mind which I think has shocked quite a lot of people. The big question is even mentioned Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence by name whether Mr. Coats should resign because he clearly no longer has that trust of the American president. One wonders who the American president trusts. Of course it will put more pressure on Mr. Trump.
One, because many in the Republican Party will be very upset with what he said and how he said it. Also, the way he trashed his allies during the NATO summit during the same week. He called Mr. Putin a competitor, so that was a compliment. And he called the European Union foes, that's not a compliment. So, Republicans will note that. And I think many people in the country will be troubled by a president who does seem to the value the word of a competitor at least equally with the word of numerous American intelligence agencies which have concluded without any question that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections and Dan Coats says red lights are blinking continually on cyber issues over Russia.
So this is an extraordinary again schizophrenia between an administration which is actually been very tough on Russia and a president who simply wants to put everything in the past and thinks he can have a buddy-buddy relationship with Vladimir Putin that would somehow be OK. Mr. Trump said nothing critical of Russia or Vladimir Putin, nothing. Even when asked, you know, who would be responsible for the troubles in the relationship, he said both sides. But then never mentioned anything Russia had done. Just listed issues that he thought the Obama administration of course had mishandled. So I think people were very much taken aback by the whole tenure and tone of that press conference to be honest. So, yes, it puts a great deal more pressure on President Trump.
HOWELL: And you point out my colleague Anderson Cooper, basically, he explained the fact, you know, this was certainly a departure from what we've seen with any American president simply pointing out, you know, where it just seemed to be very different than anything that has been seen before, Steven, and let's talk about this, the overall optics here. We're talking about a U.S. president standing next to the Russian president talking about meddling in the U.S. election, President Trump saying, that we have been foolish. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. I think we're all to blame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: This is interesting because clearly this doesn't quite jive with the America first slogan. This is not America first. In fact, the question is, how do you suspect his words there that we have been foolish? How will that play with his base?
ERLANGER: Well, he's, you know, he's attacking as he always does, Barack Obama. He thinks, you know, Hillary Clinton who tried to reset with Russia. In fact, the last three presidents have tried resets with Russia and have all found Mr. Putin to be unreliable. I mean to have made promises that never really came through, to have an engagement that never really was one. So, Mr. Trump tries again because in Mr. Trump's eyes, the world is run by Russia, China, and the United States. Everyone else are minnows. And my impression of what was in his mind was that, OK, yes, it's been a mess. Let's let bygones be bygones. I won't criticize you if you won't criticize me.
[02:40:04] But let's see what our interests are and what we can do together. But that's fine. I mean that's I think what he had in mind. So let's not blame Russia for the past. Let's blah, blah, blah. The problem is the substance was missing. The substance of some future relationship really was missing. There was talk about Syria and the rebuilding of Syria. There was talk about arms control, but there was no opportunity taken by President Trump to criticize the Russian past. So I think this is a problem for him and it's a problem for his base. The Republicans are not pro-Russia. And, you know, one can over do the importance of Russia in the world. It does have a GDP smaller than Sweden's right now. It is a nuclear power, but it does have a regional role to play. And it is Mr. Trump who is allowed Russia really, you know, partly through a vacuum created by Obama to again be a big player in the Middle East, outside Russia, outside Europe.
So Russia has stressed itself on to the world stage, and the nicest thing you could say about this performance yesterday is Mr. Trump recognizes that importance of Russia and wants to deal with Russia as it is. And the problem is Russia in the past has done many things like the annexation of Crimea which, you know, again, Mr. Trump just let Mr. Putin explain his own view that Mr. Putin said, well, Mr. Trump stuck by his view that it was an illegal annexation he said, but we Russians, you know, had a referendum and it's over. And then, Mr. Trump didn't say a word. I mean this bothers people I have to say. It really does.
HOWELL: It's different. Steven Erlanger, thank you so much for your time. We'll stay in touch with you.
ERLANGER: Thank you.
HOWELL: The U.S. indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers may have been a wake-up call for Russia's cyber warfare operatives. That indictment revealed very specific information about those who hack into the Democratic Party's computers of how they did it. Our Brian Todd reports a vote of confidence from Donald Trump may go a long way to easing their concerns.
BRIAN TODD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Emboldened by President Trump's conciliation. Vladimir Putin in public confidently denies meddling in America's elections.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (via translator): Russia has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in U.S. internal affairs including the elections.
TODD: But in private, intelligence and cyber expert says, Putin could well be very worried. Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers reveal startling details on how Putin's spy network could have been penetrated by U.S. intelligence.
STEVEN HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Putin being a former intelligence officer himself of course will not look kindly upon the fact that he was -- that his officers were caught. The GRU officers were caught.
TODD: The indictment includes specific details of the Russian spies, names, unit numbers, titles, street addresses where they worked. The indictment reveals one of the 12 spies, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, a lieutenant colonel oversaw a department within unit 21665 dedicated to developing and managing malware, including a hacking tool used by the GRU known as X-Agent.
TONI GIDWANI, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH OPERATIONS, THREATCONNECT: The detail about who and when and where they develop this tool for use is very significant something that we very rarely see from this types of reports whether they're coming out of government or from the private sector. TODD: The indictment identifies another hacking tool called XTunnel.
It will pinpoint specific dates and times of the Russian hacks, how they used Bitcoin to pay for things like servers something they thought would hide their tracks. American investigators even knew what the Russians were Googling identifying specific search terms, even cyber (INAUDIBLE) at the firm ThreatConnect which helped to identify networks used by the Russian hackers Guccifer 2.0 learned something new from Mueller's indictment that the Russians used a backdoor to hack top Democratic officials, tthe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
GIDWANI: The fact that the DCCC was hacked and that's one of the ways the attackers got into the DNC in the first place which we did not know before. And in addition, the used of the tools how widespread, the multiple versions that were used, and the fact that they persisted into the fall of 2016 were all new details from this indictment.
TODD: Intelligence experts say Putin is now doing a damage assessment to figure out how the Americans infiltrated his spy networks. Putin will likely learn from this they say and come back at the U.S.
[02:44:56] HALL: They seem to have gotten a lot of bang for the buck. The mayhem really that has -- that has been visited upon our Democratic system, because of what Putin and the Russians did to our 2016 presidential elections. It's hard to imagine that they are not going to give it a shot again in 2018.
TODD: Another incentive for Putin to try again, analysts say, the minimal repercussions for him for the 2016 hacks he'll never extradite those indicted Russian spies to the U.S. And President Trump's appeasement of Putin in Helsinki was just the green light the Russian president was looking for. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: All right, Brian, thank you. There is a fragile quiet along one Middle Eastern border. Ahead, a look inside at the mission to keep peace between Israel and Lebanon
HOWELL: There is an uneasy quiet along the border between Israel and Lebanon. The two countries have been technically at war for more than 70 years but they've talked regularly for the past 12. Helped by the United Nations. Our Ben Wedeman has rare access to the critical peacekeeping mission taking place there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, sir. Stay back. Go back, back, please.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Guns drawn, Lebanese Naval commandos board a ship off Beirut. They take no chances, they cuffing the crew. This is just an exercise. The ship is the German Navy's Braunschweig, part of the UN's largest naval force. The maritime component of the United Nations' Interim Force in Lebanon or UNIFIL.
Their main job is to help the small under-equipped Lebanese Navy, prevent the smuggling of weapons into the country. Twice, 2011 and 2012, they intercepted arms shipments that believed to have been destined for Syria.
REAR ADM. EDUARDO VAZQUEZ, COMMANDER, MARITIME TASK FORCE: We are very here.
WEDEMAN: "Without UNIFIL", says Brazilian Rear Admiral Eduardo Vazquez, on board the flagship Independencia, there would be little to stop traffickers.
VAZQUEZ: If you are not here, it's an open door for everything.
WEDEMAN: CNN gained rare access to the activities of UNIFIL, tasked with maintaining the peace and preventing the outbreak, yet again, of war between Lebanon and Israel.
To the south, an Italian peacekeeper surveys the sometimes tense frontier between Lebanon and Israel. They've been patrolling these dirt roads and paths since the late summer of 2006 when Israeli forces pulled out after the 34-day war with Hezbollah.
One of UNIFIL's tasks is to help clear the hundreds of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordinance. Its slow painstaking and sometimes deadly work for these Cambodian mine clearers.
Patrolling the frontier, Italian Army Sergeant Major Salvatore Alonce, says they have one constant concern.
[02:50:46] SGT. MAJ. SALVATORE ALONCE, ITALIAN ARMY (through translator): We're checking to see if there are mines that not might have been washed down by the rains.
WEDEMAN: "Mines," he adds "from past wars." UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are keeping an eye on Israel's construction of a wall near the frontier. Lebanon has protested, but the U.N. says it's inside Israeli territory. Such disputes in this sensitive area always pose a danger of sparking wider conflict.
This here is known as the Blue Line. It's the line set up after the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Lebanon. But because the two countries are in a technical state of war, it's not actually a border recognized by either side.
There are no peace talks between the two countries, but they are talking. Across a simple table in this modest building and no man's land on the old coastal road, officers from the Lebanese and Israeli military's, along with UNIFIL representatives, get together to make sure the uneasy calm remains intact.
UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti, says contact has never broken down. ANDREA TENENTI, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON: We had over 110, 115 meetings since 2006. Even during tense period, and no one ever walked out. They said at the last 12 years after the war in 2006, the south of Lebanon I was witness one of his quietest period in recent history.
WEDEMAN: Quiet may not be a substitute for peace, but it's a start, perhaps. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Ras Al Naqoura, South Lebanon.
HOWELL: Ben, thank you. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, right back after the break.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell. There is some serious weather trouble brewing in the Western Pacific, possibly, threatening millions of people. Our meteorologists Pedram Javaheri is following that in the World Weather Center. Pedram.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, George -- you know, this is right now, it doesn't look as menacing as a setup but we do have three disturbances. All of us producing, at least, some thunderstorm activity from it only out there towards portions of the South China Sea, and eventually, just east of the Philippines.
Several areas of disturbed weather and the tropics certainly warming up. We know at the heart of July, of course, this is the time of year the West Pacific begins to warm up. The end results, some of the conditions from (INAUDIBLE), one of the tropical systems that has produced quite a bit of rainfall. And, of course, in Manila, as often as happens as we see a lot of flooding take place with all the systems in place, as well.
But here is what is left of this feature right now. Very unorganized, not very symmetrical, that's one aspect of a storm that we look at. And also, another feature is how quickly it's moving in any direction?
It's moving to the West at 52 kilometers per hour. Frankly, that is very rapid and what that means is with a tropical system moving rapidly often it means less rainfall back, even a 25 kilometers per hour, mind you this is moving over 50 kilometers per hour. 25, you would get about 125 millimeters versus a slower storm you can get far more rainfall.
So again, you think this is going to be a less rain sort of an event. And then, of course, you have to remember, it was just not one storm, but three storms together. So, the flood threat is now going to be enhanced, we do have the steering environment. It's going to support these systems all going towards the west.
Hang on, certainly, areas of Hanoi, across even as far south as Da Nang. And even across the Philippines of tremendous rainfall in store. And notice, that third one will actually pull away and move to the north that will become on peel. That would be the next typhoon in line.
We had property ruin about a week and a half, two weeks ago that works its way towards Southern Japan. This particular storm could actually do much the same here, we're watching it very carefully. The projected path could eventually take a typhoon to the north, again impacting the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
So, George, a lot of people stand to be impacted by what is really shaping up to be a very busy season, at least across parts of the world right now.
[02:56:11] HOWELL: All right, Pedram, of course, you'll continue to track it. We'll keep in touch with you.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
HOWELL: Amazon, its big shopping day known as Prime Day, got off to a rocky start on Monday. Shortly, after bargains were posted on the site, it started having interment problems, outages. Some customers were met with pictures of sad puppies on an error page. The problems also extended to other Amazon products including Alexa and prime video services.
Shoppers who are upset took to Twitter, they started complaining, but Prime's Day lasted for 36 hours. So, there's still time to lineup that bargain that's the good news. And for Amazon to make a few billion dollars more. And look, the news wasn't all that bad for Amazon, however.
Earlier on Monday, Amazon stock hit an all-time high up 60 percent this year. The CEO of the company, Jeff Bezos, already the world's wealthiest person is now worth more than $150 billion. This according to Forbes Magazine.
How rich is that? We'll put it into this context. Bezos is worth more than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Google co-founder Larry Page, combined. Good on him.
Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell, your world headlines, and more news right after the break.