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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Trump Says He Misspoke At Helsinki News Conference; Trump: Full Faith In U.S. Intelligence Agencies; Prosecutors: Butina Tried To Set Up Kremlin-Trump Links; Theresa May Narrowly Wins Crucial Brexit Vote; Trump Fires Back After Siding With Putin Over U.S. Intel. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 17, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: President Putin for about two and a half hours. We talked about numerous things. And among those
things are the problems that you see in the Middle East. Where their very much involved, we're very much involved.
I entered the negotiations with President Putin from a position of tremendous strength. Our economy is booming and our military is being
funded 700 billion this year, $716 billion next year. It will be more powerful as a military then we've ever had before. President Putin and I
addressed the rang of issues starting with the civil war in Syria, and need for humanitarian aid and help for people in Syria.
We also spoke of Iran and the need to halt their nuclear ambitions and the destabilizing activities taking place in Iran. As most of you know we
ended the Iran deal which was one of the worst deals anyone could imagine. And that's had a major impact on Iran. And it's substantially weakened
Iran and we hope that at some point Iran will call us.
And we'll maybe make a new deal. Or we maybe won't. But Iran is not the same country that it was five months ago. That I can tell you because
their no longer looking so much to the Mediterranean and the entire Middle East. They've got some big problems that they can solve probably much
easier if they deal with us.
So we'll see what happens. But we did discuss Iran. We discussed Israel and the security of Israel. And President Putin is very much involved now
with us and the discussion with (inaudible) on working something out with surrounding Syria, and Syria and specifically with regards to the security
and long term security of Israel.
A major topic of discussion was North Korea and the need for it to remove its nuclear weapons. Russia has assured us of its support. President
Putin said he agrees with me 100 percent and they'll do what ever they have to do to try and make it happen. Discussions are ongoing and there going
very, very well.
We have no rush for speed. The sanctions are remaining. The hostages are back. There have been no tests. There have been no rockets going up for a
period of nine months. And I think the relationships are very good. So we'll see how that goes. We have no time limit. We have no speed limit.
We have - we're just going through the process. But the relationships are very good.
President Putin is going to be involved in the sense that he is with us. He would like to see that happen. Perhaps the most important issue we
discussed at our meeting prior to the press conference was the reduction of nuclear weapons through out the world. The United States and Russia have
90 percent as I said and we can have a big impact. But nuclear weapons is I think the greatest threat of our world today.
And their a great nuclear power, we're a great nuclear power. We have to do something about nuclear. And so that was a matter that we discussed
actually in great detail and President Putin aggress with me. The matters we discussed are profound in their importance and have the potential to
save millions of lives.
[15:05:00]I understand that many disagreements between our countries. But I also understand that dialog and the - when you think about it dialog with
Russia, or dialog with other countries. But dialog with Russia in this case where we've had such poor relationships for so many years.
Dialog is a very important thing and it's a very good thing. So if we get along with them great. If we don't get along with them then we won't get
along with them. But I think we have a very good chance of having some very positive things.
I thought that the meeting that I had with President Putin was really strong. I think that they were willing to do things that frankly I wasn't
sure whether or not they would be willing to do. And we'll be having future meeting and we'll see whether or not that comes to fruition.
But we had a very, very good meeting. So I just wanted to clear up. I have the strongest respect for our intelligence agencies headed by my
people. We have great people whether it's Gina, or Dan Coats, or any of them. I mean we have tremendous people, tremendous talent within the
agencies. I think their being guided properly. And we all want the same thing. We want success for our country.
So with that we're going to start a meeting now on tax reductions. We're going to be putting in a bill. Kevin Brady is with us and I might ask
Kevin just to say a couple of words about that. And then we'll get back on to a private meeting. But Kevin could you maybe give just a brief
discussion about what we'll be talking about?
REP. KEVIN BRADY,R-TX. : Yes sir, Mr. President. Thank you for having members of the Ways and Means Committee here today.
BOLDUAN: All right your listening right there to President Donald Trump. And in an amazing moment Donald Trump says in the face of major uproar and
backlash over his jaw dropping remarks at his press conference yesterday in Helsinki.
Donald Trump says he misspoke in the operative line he says the sentence now should have been I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.
Instead of would be Russia. It doesn't but there's much more to the press conference ass we all well know. 24 hours later that is the statement from
the White House.
I misspoke and he also gives us full faith and support to the American intelligence apparatus. Will that quite the uproar as we say on state of
America stand by to stand by. I'm Kate Balwin in New York. My college Holly Gorani takes over from London.
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right thanks very much Kate. Hello and welcome to a special addition of the program. I'm Holly Gorani in
London, outside the houses of Parliament. Tonight of course we have two stories. One related to Brexit. But the big breaking development just
minutes ago. Donald Trump has not addressed the widespread criticism of his summit with Vladimir Putin.
And moments ago in the building behind me British law makers made some of the most important decisions about Brexit since the referendum vote. Let
me get you strait to what Donald Trump has said. Essentially he said after reading the transcripts of what he said at that news conference following
the one on one with Vladimir Putin the President of Russia.
That perhaps there was a need for some clarification. He accepted that there was a need for some clarification. And also restated or stated I
should say his full support, full faith in intelligence agencies in America and accepted the intelligence community's conclusions about Russian
meddling in the 2016 election. But he went on to say there was no collusion.
He repeated that several times. He said that he was surprised. That essentially there had been some negative reaction to that news conference
with Vladimir Putin. That when he read the transcripts it revealed the need for him to clarify some points and that it all came down perhaps in
his estimation to one word. Would verses wouldn't.
Now this was carefully scripted. He was reading off of a type written page and Donald Trump of course as you can see there at the White House moments
ago after backlash from members of his own party widespread condemnation from members from members of the intelligence community.
And ripple effect across the world. Donald Trump doing some damage control. Backtracking on his comments yesterday. Stephen Collinson said
is in Washington for us with more. So the president is saying he misspoke. That he didn't mean to say what he said. And he needed to go back to read
the transcript in order to realize that perhaps he might have been misunderstood.
I wonder if American's if republicans, if democrats, if people in the United States and around the world will buy this explanation Stephen?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so. And the question to ask about this is if the president realized he had a problem why didn't
he address it more quickly? It's taken more than 24 hours since that stunning news conference with Vladimir Putin. He could easily come off of
Air Force One for example late last night and talked about this earlier on today.
And you made the point that he was reading this from a written script. That's a very different Donald Trump than we see when he is operating off
the cuff like he was in the news conference. The other point about this of course is its one thing when you're under political attack back in
Washington to read out a statement like this.
The indelible memory of the news conference in Helsinki and it's one that's going to haunt the Trump presidency. As that when the president had a
chance to say this in front of Vladimir Putin he didn't. And that I think is the problem. That imagery is not going to go away because the president
tries to do a quick damage control operation here 24 hours later in the White House.
GORANI: Also he went right into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, her server, conspiracy theories when he was asked why. Clearly do you believe your own
intelligence communities conclusions that Russia meddled, interfered in the 2016 elections? How he went right back to some of his favorite themes
which is just attacking Hillary Clinton. Two years almost after the election.
COLLINSON: That's right. And even in the statement in the White House. When he said I accept the conclusions of the intelligence agency that there
was leasing in the - Russian meddling in the election. He also said but there might have been others, which is a very characteristic Trumpian
technique of adding sort of a little bit of doubt, a little bit of a way out for him.
But look, the President looked very weak in that news conference with Vladimir Putin, and that is something that completely contradicts with this
image that he's created for himself as this deal-making strongman. So I think this will do not very much to quell the political anger and disgust
really, in Washington over this.
But I think we should also make the point that in the long-term, Donald Trump isn't going to lose his supporters over this. There's been a lot of
talk in Washington, is this the thing that finally breaks -- the straw that breaks the camels back starts to cause Republicans on Capitol Hill to talk
away from him.
Well there's been a lot of criticism of the President's performance among Republicans and Congress. Very few of them have actually come out and
specifically and personally criticized the President himself, and that reflects their political calculation (ph).
But although they're angry about Russian election meddling and want it to stop, they're not ready to take on their President because of the hold he
has on the grass roots (ph) of the Republican party.
GORANI: Yes Stephen, absolutely. And we see politicians and candidates who try to go against Donald Trump, what happens to them sometimes in GOP
primaries, they are sometimes finding themselves in very difficult positions for speaking out against the President. Perhaps that's one of
the calculations they are making. I want our viewers to listen, once again to some of what the President just said at the White House moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have felt very strongly that while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the
election, let me be totally clear in saying that -- and I've said this many times, I accept our Intelligence Community's conclusion that Russia's
meddling in the 2016 election took place with the other people also (ph). And there's a lot of people out there. There was no coalition at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well for more let's go to Robin Wright, who is a contributor at `The New Yorker' -- thanks very much Robin for joining us and we continue
also to include Stephen in this conversation. So first of all, your reaction to this effort at just -- this epic damage control move by
President Trump what do you make of it?
ROBIN WRIGHT, THE NEW YORKER: Well one word isn't going to change the reality of yesterday, how it was perceived by the outside world, how the
Russian's celebrated, what looked like (inaudible) if not total appeasement to Moscow. And it doesn't change the reality (inaudible) EG7 the world's
most powerful military alliance (inaudible)
GORANI: We're having some -- we're having some technical problems as you can there was Robin, we'll fix that and get back to her as soon as we can.
Stephen, last one to you on that internationally there was a lot of consternation about this statement, I wonder what does this do after that
NATO Summit, after that meeting with Prime Minister May where he trashed her in `The Sun' and then to her face praised her -- what does that do to
the U.S.'s relationship with the rest of the world here?
COLLINSON: Well what happened over the last few days was exactly what foreign allies of the United States feared when the President had the NATO
Summit and everything was leading in to this meeting with Vladimir Putin after he's had a clear pattern (ph) of being very differential to Putin.
So the message I think a lot of the world is going to take away from this is that the President of the United States, he went to Europe, he feuded
with NATO allies, and then when he stood up against Vladimir Putin -- he was weak and obsequious and seemed very differential.
And NATO of course is an alliance that rests on the principle that an attack on one is an attack on all. There have to be some concerns in
Europe that the word of the President of the United States -- that the United States would come to the aide of all of it's allies in Europe if
there was Russian aggression, is perhaps not as strong as it might be.
And that is a real problem for the alliance, not withstanding the fact that the communicator that emerged from the NATO Summit in Brussels was a very
strong one, there was arrangements for a new rapid reaction force.
NATO countries are spending more money on defense, but at the end of the day the present United States is the key voice in NATO, and that voice was
exposed as wavering and not very effective when standing up to the Russian President in Helsinki.
GORANI: Robin Wright I believe is back with us, what do you -- what calculations do you think they're making in Moscow
COLLINSON: But at the end of the day the President of the United States is the key voice in NATO, and that voice was exposed as wavering and not very
effective when standing up to the Russian President in Helsinki.
GORANI: Robin Wright I believe is back with us. What do you -- what calculations do you think they're making in Moscow? The Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov said he thought the meeting was magnificent.
WRIGHT: I think the Russians came away feeling that they were winners, that they got exactly what they wanted from President Trump. After all
there weren't many tangible deliverables, they talked generally about potential arms control but on issues like Syria the President said he was
willing to cooperate with Moscow in stabilizing the regime, stabilizing Syria which basically accepts the longevity of President Ausau Duman (ph)
whose responsible for waging war against his own people.
I think the deeper sense is that Vladimir Putin feels (inaudible) to U.S. Security since the end of the Second World War. And when you look at this
pattern over the last two months of the G7 Summit when President Trump insulted the most -- one of the world's most powerful economic alliance.
When last weekend, he called the European Union a foe, which is an almost unimaginable for a community that is our closest allies. There are -- it's
not just going to happen yesterday in Helsinki, it's this pattern of events that has undermined the primary goals of Yugoslav (ph) policy for seven
GORANI: Robin Wright, thanks very much for joining us, really appreciate it. Stephen Collinson and our Washington Bureau we're having a few
technical problems with you Robin, so hopefully we'll be able to connect again when those are resolved. We always appreciate your analysis.
So we were talking a little bit about the ripple effect, outside of Helsinki and Washington and Moscow. Seeing Donald Trump acting so chummy
with Vladimir Putin, had to be troubling for U.S. allies in Europe. It is worth noting that only days earlier Mr. Trump was furiously critical of
NATO members, the called the E.U. a foe.
That lead Germany's Foreign Ministers to say we can no longer completely rely on the White House. Let's talk more about the European reaction with
CNN's Atika Shubert in Berlin and Sam Kiley in Moscow. So Atika to you first, there has to be some concern in Germany right after this trip?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN, BERLIN: Oh absolutely but I think that concern has been here in Germany for quite some time. I mean just four months in to
his presidency, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that we cannot rely on our friends, which was a veiled criticism against President Trump
warning, basically her country that the U.S. was becoming unreliable and we heard that again from the German Foreign Minister as he was -- as President
Trump was going in to his meeting with President Putin.
I mean it's extraordinary that he called the E.U. an adversary, a foe. And then, he not only that but he attacked Germany's Chancellor specifically
Germany saying that Germany was under the control of Russia. And that's pretty extraordinary when you consider the press conference that he gave
standing next to President Putin.
The question is, what can Europe do about it -- and at this point the only thing Chancellor Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron can do is really
hold the united front in dealing with what is an increasingly adversarial United States President.
GORANI: You're right, and we know that there we're very happy Sam Kiley in Moscow and Fox News had a sit down with Vladimir Putin the Russian
President asking him do you have compromising -- the anchor asking him do you have compromising material on Vladimir Putin summoned the United States
and around the world think well they're -- they must have something on him, he's so friendly with the Russian President, this is what Putin answered to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: We don't have anything on them. It can be anything on them, I don't want to insult President Trump when I say
this, and I may come as rude -- but before he announced that he will run for presidency he was of no interest for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So Sam, what do you make of that answer from Putin?
SAM KILEY, CNN, MOSCOW: Well entirely predictable and not a view shared I'm afraid to say, by some of America's most intelligent -- most strongest
allies in the world have intelligence. I've been speaking over many months now with people involved in high level intelligence in a number of
And at least two are very open about saying that they are going to the Helsinki -- this is prior to Helsinki, did not trust the U.S. President.
Because in the words of one he's either incompetent in that he blurts secrets out, and we've seen that before when in a meeting
KILEY: About saying that they have going into the Helsinki. This is prior to Helsinki, did not trust the U.S. President because in the words of one,
he's either incompetent in that he blurts secrets out. So we've seen that before, when in a meeting with Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador in
Washington about a year ago now, when he blurted out secret intelligence that wasn't even American intelligence, and led to a near catastrophe in
As subsequent to that, there are other agencies and nations around the world that are very reluctant indeed to share the most sensitive
intelligence that that have with United States, because the commander-in- chief they believe can't be trusted. So that was going in the Helsinki meeting, nothing that would have come out of that least of all this
peculiar grammatical volte-face (ph) in which he said changed the positive to negative with the word would and wouldn't, with referenced whether or
not Mr. Putin would or would not wish to interfere in the U.S. elections.
He is (ph) going to reassure the allies, what is going to reassure though is the Kremlin that (ph) following that doctrine of chaos in the ranks of
the enemy is in and of itself victory. They are feeling extremely victorious. None of the sorts of things that could've been raised, that
could've caused tensions were least of all a civil Syria crime (ph) or the rest of the destabilization of Ukraine. Hala?
GORANI: Great and anytime we can use the word volte-face (ph) is a good day. Thank you very much, Sam Kiley and Atika Shubert in Berlin, appreciate
Still to come, another crisis for Teresa May, averted - she squeaks through a crucial (ph) Brexit vote. We'll have all the details coming up next.
Stay with us..
GORANI: Welcome back, it's been another day of high drama here at the Houses of Parliament. Teresa May has faced down rebels in her own party
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The eye (ph) to the right 301, the no's (ph) to the left, 307.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eyes to the right 301, the no's (ph) to the left, 307. So the no's (ph) have it. The no's (ph) have it. Unlocked (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: She has narrowly avoided a disaster after that vote, which her government won by just six. The issue of Brexit has once again shown huge
rifts in her own party, the pro-EU faction was furious that on Monday May's government made a number of concessions to the Brexit supporting factions.
Let's get into all of this. Bianca Nobilo, our reporter, is live with me and I'm joined by Daniel Kaczynski, a conservative lawmaker.
Thanks for being with us. Quickly before I get you sir, Bianca what happened today?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well today was a critical day for the prime minister. I think you'd agree. After last night where the customs
bill was passed proceeding to some amendments that were - have been tabled by the European research group, which is a Brexiteer group, which has
essentially hardened some of the stance that was alluded to in her white (ph) paper.
This was a counter rebellion to that launched by those who are looking for a soft Brexit, who with to remain in the European Union. It was a cross
party effort, there were prominent members of the (inaudible) party joining up with members of the Labour Party to table this. And what it would've
done - it would've tied the prime minister's hands, so that if she wasn't able to negotiate a free trade agreement by January next year, it would
ensured that the U.K. remained in a custom's union with the E.U., which of course she said explicitly is not her understanding of Brexit, and it's not
what she thinks people voted for when they voted to leave the E.U.
GORANI: So Mr. Kaczynski, are you happy this evening?
DANIEL KACZYNSKI, CONSERVATIVE LAWMAKER: Well I'm (ph) very relieved that we managed to prevent this amendment from going through. But let me just
say to your listeners in America - viewers in America -
GORANI (ph): And around the world.
KACZYNSKI: And around the world, millions of my - of citizens here voted for Brexit, and this is an issue about trust and about fulfilling what
they voted for in the referendum. They knew that voting for Brexit meant pulling out of the custom's union and pulling out of the single margin.
GORANI(ph): Did they? Prominent Brexiteers promised that wouldn't be the case.
KACZYNSKI: Well I think the elites - I think the political elites -
GORANI(ph): How did they know that by voting for Brexit, they were voting to withdraw from the custom's union? When was that ever explicitly
presented to voters?
KACZYNSKI: Oh - I can show you during some of the debates from the leading Brexiteers.
GORANI: Not in the campaign.
KACZYNSKI: It is in (ph) the campaign.
GORANI(ph): And what (ph) to do you remain (ph) over this even Justine Greening, former cabinet member of Teresa May's this week has said that
perhaps there needs to be a second referendum on membership with the E.U. with three options; a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, or remaining in the
European Union. So that does indicate that there is still a question mark over what exactly do people want from Brexit.
KACZYNSKI: They -- I would argue, and I spoke to a lot of people of my constituency who also voted for Brexit, -- look if you're pulling out of
something and you are regaining your sovereignty, they wanted to take back control of their borders, they wanted to manage immigration, they wanted to
ensure that our Supreme Court -- which is just on the road here, is supreme -- a little bit like your Supreme Court. And they wanted to make sure that
the parliament made the laws in the United Kingdom. All of those have to be respected.
And there are people in my party and in the Labour Party who treat the people with certain amount of derision, as if they didn't know what they
were doing, they don't have the intellectual understand. We must fight against that.
GORANI(ph): The point that people are making, is that there are a million different ways to Brexit. You can keep the relationship close, you can have
a hard Brexit and fall off a cliff tomorrow if you like, but you also have to preserve jobs and the economy in this country. And very, very well
respected experts will tell you a hard Brexit will not be good, leaders of business, leaders of industry are telling you don't hard Brexit, don't do
KACZYNSKI: Look -
GORANI(ph): Stay closer to the E.U.
KACZYNSKI: -- 95% of the world's growth is going to come from outside of the European Union in the next two decades according -
GORAN(ph)I: But not the U.K. growth.
KACZYNSKI: Ninety-five percent of the world's growth. But the United Kingdom needs to be in the position where we have maximum control over our
new trade agreements with countries like America, Australia and others. If we are still cemented into the European Union framework, if we tie
ourselves and shackle ourselves to their regulatory framework, our ability as a sovereign nation to implement those trading agreements will be that
much negated. This is what we are fighting against. We want genuine freedom, genuine sovereignty.
GORANI: There are strong arguments on both sides (inaudible), and that's why the campaign was such a passionate one. But I think what is becoming
more and more of a problem here is the fact that there is a concern that Teresa May is steering the country towards the worst of both worlds. So
without having the full independence of a hard Brexit but without having all of the benefits of staying very closely aligned with the European
Union, and that there is a growing concern that that's happening. And that her white paper was too much of a compromise or too much of the fudge (ph),
I mean what do you say to that?
KACZYNSKI: I have an innate confidence in this country. If you're a betting person, you'd bet on form (ph). How has the horse performed over a period
of time? This country does not have a habit of falling at the fence or failing. We have a very proud history, we are a confident nation, as Boris
Johnson our former foreign secretary said, we should show confidence about this decision and confidence about going on to the global world. And I have
to say operation fair (ph), which was designed to frighten our constituents to vote remain, didn't materialize. We don't have massive unemployment that
they promised would happen if we voted for Brexit.
GORANI: Well Brexit hasn't happened yet.
KACZYNSKI: -- and when we come to the European Union, we will thrive We are in a unique position with the commonwealth, with friends like in America.
We want to secure a bilateral trade agreement with Americans and with other very important countries. I have a lot of confidence in our country. And
I'm sure your viewers do, too.
GORANI: All right. Thank you so much, Daniel Kaczynski, a conservative lawmaker here. And Bianca Nobilo, our correspondent. Thank you to both of
You think all that would be enough for us, big Brexit news for one day. But this morning, Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign group has
been fined and referred to the police after the U.K.'s elections watchdog found that it had broken Britain's strict electoral laws. Here's what
Chuka Umunna, a Labour MP and remainer had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUKKA UMUNNA, BRITISH LABOUR MP: The findings of the electoral commission are shocking and vote leaves actions an affront to our democracy. And that
fundamental British value of fair play. In short, Mr. Speaker, members of the cabinets sat in an organization which has been found to have flouted
our democracy. Does this not all demonstrate that we need a full urgent public inquiry into the leave campaign given that it calls into question
the legitimacy of the entire Brexit process?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And we'll have a lot more after the break. We return to Donald Trump's controversial meeting with Vladimir Putin. I'll talk to a former
CIA officer very familiar with Russia when we come back. Stay with us.
GORANI: Welcome back. And back to our top story, the continued fallout from Donald Trump's embrace of Vladimir Putin on Monday. Just minutes ago,
Mr. Trump tried to fix it, reading prepared remarks to reporters at the White House. And I am being told that there was handwritten on that script
the words, no collusion. There was no collusion. And we understand that top national security officials were huddled in the situation room in
Washington in the White House today to develop some sort of strategy, some sort of response to what happened in Helsinki. Listen to part of what the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it
wasn't. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why I
wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia. So just to repeat it. I said the word would instead of wouldn't. And the sentence should have been -- and I
thought it would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason
why it wouldn't be Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:35:16] GORANI: Well, we'll have a lot more analysis of what the president said at the White House just moments ago. But yet another
remarkable development connected to Russia. Meet Maria Butina, a Russian national who's been charged by the U.S. justice department of conspiring
against America as a foreign agent. There's a picture of her on your screen. She and her mentor, a kremlin-linked banker, accused of trying to
set up a back channel of communications between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign. Butina's attorney is denying
all of that. And we have to clarify that these charges are not directly related to the Mueller investigation.
Kara Scannell has more on Washington. So talk to us about this Maria Butina. What is it alleged that she did? How was she -- is it alleged
that she tried to set up some sort of back channel here?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, prosecutors of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. announced these charges against
Butina yesterday, alleging that she was conspiring and acting as a foreign agent to advance Russia's interests in the U.S. The way that they describe
in the complaint that we've see in this reporting is how she did this, was she was working at the direction of her longtime mentor, a former Russian
banker, Alexander Torshin, and also with U.S. political operative. Now, neither Torshin or the U.S. operatives have been charged in this criminal
complaint. But the notion was that they were working together to advance Russian interest. One way they did that was communicating through the
National Rifle Association, because of their close ties with the Republican Party.
Another way that Butina was charged with doing this was by attending the National Prayer Breakfast and arranging these friendship and dialogue
dinners with Americans and Russians in the U.S. This was all part of a scheme that prosecutors described as trying to influence and bring Russia's
influence into the Republican Party to make those amends and it continued, prosecutors say, that she first met the U.S. operative in Russia in 2013.
The complaint outlines a number of actions that took place in 2016 leading up to the election. And after the election, Butina had reached out to
Torshin and told him she was ready for further orders. That's all according to the complaint now. Butina's lawyer has said that this is
overblown. That she was not acting as a foreign agent. And, Hala, she is due in court in Washington tomorrow to face the charges.
GORANI: So I'm looking at pictures of her from her Instagram. She looks very young. She's pretty. She's trendily dressed. What's her background?
She looks like she might be in her 20s.
SCANNELL: That's right, Hala. She's a 29-year-old. She was here in the U.S. on a student visa beginning in 2016. And according to her attorney,
she graduated this year with a 4.0 grade point average. So that is how she was presenting herself in the U.S. But the prosecutors are saying that she
was really acting as a foreign agent with these efforts going back several years earlier.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much for joining us there. Kara Scannell with more from Washington.
Let's discuss this as well as the fallout from the Helsinki meeting with national security analyst, Steve Hall. He served as CIA chief of Russia
operations in Moscow.
First, I want to get your reaction to this Donald Trump 180 here in the White House saying essentially it all came down to one word, there's no
reason why it wouldn't be Russia versus it would be Russia. He's trying, obviously, to do some damage control here. What is your reaction to what
we heard from the president a few minutes ago?
STEVEN HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hala, I think in a word, or in a phrase, it's too little too late. The president can go back and say,
well, you know what I said was this and I said would and it meant wouldn't or vice versa. The bottom line is that that doesn't change really anything
that happened in this summit. You had a president who had the opportunity to go in and to be very direct and very brisk and very oppositional to
Putin. And, of course, many have gone through the litany of what Russia has done just over the past couple of years, whether it's poisoning people
in the U.K., whether it's attacking elections, annexing other countries. He had an opportunity to speak very strongly to Vladimir Putin about that.
And that clearly didn't happen. Now, we don't have all the details, of course, of what happened during the almost two-hour private session that
they had. But it was pretty clear from his comments afterwards, from the body language, and really just from any analysis, commonsensical, that
Putin and Trump continue to have some sort of close bond. And that remains a question in my mind as to why that would be the case.
[15:40:03] GORANI: And you discuss the one on one. It is -- it's unprecedented, really, I guess, to have a U.S. president and a Russian
president together in a room alone without any aides and only translators with no official record or transcript of what was said.
HALL: Just the appearances of that are -- would seem to be contrary to what Donald Trump himself would want. Donald Trump, of course,
domestically here in the United States and indeed worldwide after his performance with our NATO allies has come under question as to why isn't he
being stronger with Putin. He's certainly been strong with all sorts of other world leaders to include the North Korean leader, to include NATO
leaders. Why is he being so soft with Putin? And then he goes in and has a very private meeting with him. It's caused a lot of people, myself
included, to question, is there something going on in this relationship? Do the Russians have information on Donald Trump which is causing him to go
easy on Putin and the kremlin?
GORANI: By the way, the president was reading from prepared typewritten remarks, but handwritten on a piece of paper were the words, there was no
collusion. And I believe we have video of that I'm being told. Let's put that up.
There was no collusion. So I don't know if he wrote that. Anyways handwritten in ink pen on the page that is typewritten. Because it was
quite carefully worded, this 180 on what he said in Helsinki.
You're very obviously familiar with Russia, with the Kremlin, with how things work there. How do you think -- what are the calculations now at
the Kremlin do you think after Helsinki and then subsequently after this statement by the president today?
HALL: It's a really interesting question, Hala. I'm not exactly sure how the Kremlin is going to proceed. Donald Trump is clearly in a difficult
position right now with people questioning as to whether or not the Kremlin has kompromat on him, has information that he could be blackmailed with
somehow. It's very interesting or at least I was very interested in Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comments where he said it was -- the
summit was beyond super. Generally speaking, when you have Lavrov saying something like that, it means it went very well for the Russians. But I
think if the kremlin is indeed interested in maintaining Donald Trump as a collaborator, as somebody that they feel good about and can work with, they
have to be very careful not to lean into that too much, or else the domestic politics for Donald Trump are going to get that much worse, which
we really saw today in Washington.
GORANI: Yes. And the Fox News anchor in a sit-down interview in Helsinki did ask Vladimir Putin, do you have compromising material on Donald Trump?
And he said, no offense, I don't mean to insult Donald Trump, but before he ran for president, he barely registered on our radar. Do you buy that?
HALL: No, of course not. I mean, the Russians standard modus operandi is lie big, lie hard, or go home. And it's really inconceivable to me over
the course of my career watching the Russian intelligence services, specifically the FSB, the internal service, they will as a matter of course
-- they've done it for decades -- collect information really on anybody who might come to Moscow who might be of interest. Because you never know when
that information might become useful later on, say, for example, when a very rich American becomes president of the United States. So they had
information. How they choose to use it, whether or not it is damaging to Donald Trump, whether or not he perceives it to be damaging, those are all
questions that are still out there. But again, the behavior on Donald Trump's part seems to indicate that he's at least concerned about that.
GORANI: Steve Hall, thanks very much for joining us. Always appreciate you on the program.
Still to come tonight, Theresa May scrapes through another Brexit vote in parliament. So where does that leave Brexit going forward? We have
analysis after this.
[15:45:19] GORANI: All right. We're outside the Houses of Parliament. We're in the last few hours. Theresa May has narrowly survived her latest
Brexit crisis. It's the latest moment of drama in a week filled with chaos for the prime minister. Let's talk about what happened today. Freddy Gray
is the deputy editor of The Spectator and he joins me now.
So, narrowly, she won a vote in the Houses of Parliament. She's able to survive but just. Where does she go from here? Can she survive much
FREDDY GRAY, DEPUTY EDITOR, THE SPECTATOR: Depends who you ask. But I think it's not really a great relief tonight. She's relieved because she
lives to fight another day, as it were. But I think the actual vote itself, if you really think about it, wasn't that significant. It was a
pro-E.U. vote. And she's showing that her version of Brexit is viable just about. But we are nowhere near sort of any kind of acceptance of her
Brexit plan. And I think behind me people are still whispering desperately. There's talk of a coup. The trouble is the people who want
to do the coup don't have a clue how to do it.
GORANI: But no one really in parliament has a decisive majority to impose anything at this point it seems.
GRAY: Yes. Well, we're seeing perhaps the limits of our parliamentary democracy with such a complicated thing as Brexit. And there is a lot of
very good criticism for Theresa May. There's a lot of people who feel -- they almost wish Donald Trump was doing Brexit rather than Theresa May,
even if they find Trump as horrid. I think at least he'd be decisive and he make decisions. Whereas May seems to be weak and vacillating.
GORANI: Who in the U.K. thinks Donald Trump would be doing -- apart from Boris Johnson, the foreign minister?
GRAY: Quite a lot of U.K. voters, actually.
GRAY: I think there's an interesting parallel at the moment between Trump and May in that they're both being called treasonous. May is being called
treasonous by the Brexiteers for colluding with the foreign power by the E.U. And of course, you have Trump being accused of treason today because
of his collusion with Russia.
GORANI: At various different degrees, various degrees.
GRAY: Mirror images.
GORANI: Right. Lastly then, where do we go from here for Brexit?
GRAY: Well, now, the British government will have to take May's Chequers plan, as it's now being called to the European Union. And I suspect we
will not have a response from them to vote on in our parliament before September. So at the moment -- she scraped through but will she last until
then? People are pretty uncertain.
GORANI: We're on the edge of our seats with a lot of drama once again at Westminster. Freddy Gray, always a pleasure. Thanks very much for joining
Back now to our top story, the continued fallout from Donald Trump's embrace of Vladimir Putin on Monday. Donald Trump may have fired back but
what impacted this really have on the president? Joining me now is CNN political analyst, Carl Bernstein. One of the famed reporters, of course,
who broke the Watergate story.
So, Carl, first of all, your reaction to this 180 by the president reaffirming his faith in the U.S. intelligence community and saying he does
believe their conclusion that they meddled in the 2016 election.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, I don't think it's a 180. He has said this before. Just as halfheartedly as he said it today.
I think we have seen today, especially among Republicans who have marched lockstep with this president until Helsinki, that today the leaders of the
House and the Senate Republicans said that the president of the United States, the president of their party, cannot be entrusted with the national
security of the United States. That's really what their repudiation of what happened in Helsinki and their statements today meant. We are facing
an extraordinary national emergency in the United States in which serious people, including Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, quietly,
privately questioned and not just privately, as we saw from people in the intelligence community yesterday, questioned the loyalty of the president
of the United States to the United States. This is an extraordinary development. It's never happened in our history. And it raises all kinds
The president now is suffering from some real self-inflicted wounds. And we still don't know what happened in Helsinki. I just said on domestic
television in the United States because Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state is going to appear before members of Congress next week to try and brief
them on what he learned and saw in Helsinki. But we need to know what the hell happened in Helsinki. We have no reason to trust the account of the
president of the United States. He got up today and filibustered again somewhat incoherently, talked and bragged about all of his good works on
this trip, a trip during which he turned his back on 75 years of post-war history in the western alliance. So we really are in place that is bind to
[15:50:35] GORANI: And we did hear consternation from members of the Republican Party, members of the president's own party. But fundamentally,
I mean, beyond the tweets and the statements and the soundbites, is the Republican Party ready to do something about the president in terms of
blocking legislation or some sort of initiative as a result of what many have seen as a jaw dropping, shocking performance in Helsinki side by side
with Vladimir Putin?
BERNSTEIN: Judging from past performance, the answer is no. The Republicans in Congress will not do much of anything because they are
terrified of this president's obvious appeal to his base. We have a president of the United States who is really the president of his base and
not the rest of the United States. And that base is absolutely enthused, ready to fight for this president and ready to go up against enemies of
this president in his own party. And that is got one reason we've seen such craven response by Republicans throughout this presidency to the
outrageous of Donald Trump.
One of the things that the president said today was once again he said this thing about there's no collusion and everybody knows it. Everybody doesn't
know there's no collusion. That's why Mr. Mueller is investigating the Russian, quote, "meddling," which is really an attack of warfare and active
warfare. It is unclear whether there was collusion or not. The meeting in Trump Tower attended by President Trump's son certainly was primacy
evidence of an attempt at collusion at which his own son was enthusiastic and willing to take any kind of information from the Russians to undermine
the opposition's campaign. So we now have a lot of discovering to do. And one of the things that probably has happened in the last couple days is
because of the president's conduct, the Mueller investigation might be much more protected by Republicans who are going to think long and hard at
allowing the president to abolish it, undermine it further, fire Mr. Rosenstein, et cetera.
GORANI: Yes. So I guess my question is, if the Republican Party -- and even by the way, those traditional conservatives. I was speaking to
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. He said, my party's been hijacked by Trump supporters. He is not running for re-election. So therefore, if
Republicans don't draw some sort of line, then is there really a line the president won't cross here? Because he knows there will be no opposition
and his base will continue to support him regardless.
BERNSTEIN: I think one of the things that happened today is that we heard from Republicans on Capitol Hill that they will not allow this president to
conduct foreign policy and national security policy any longer in the manner and the reckless and incoherent manner that he has. That they are
asserting themselves. They sent a message to Putin among other things that the Congress of the United States, both parties, is on notice. We have to
see how this progresses. But we now have a different Trump presidency in terms of it being wounded, self-inflicted wounds by Donald Trump. He keep
saying -- he said twice in recent weeks how he's a stable genius. What we've seen in the last two days is not a stable genius.
[15:55:29] GORANI: All right. Carl Bernstein, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
And thanks for joining us this evening on CNN. We have, of course, a lot more ahead. We're going to have a lot more on this statement by the
president at the White House saying that he has faith in intelligence communities and their conclusion that there was meddling in the 2016
election, but that there was no collusion. It was a handwritten section there on the typewritten notes carefully prepared notes with the words
there is no -- or there was no collusion. And we'll continue, of course, to follow what happened in the building behind me, Westminster, the Houses
of Parliament where once again Theresa May has narrowly survived another vote. She lives on for one more day. Certainly, goes on to live on for
one more day politically.
I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.
[16:00:09] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are more records on Wall Street as trading comes to an end. It's Tuesday, July 17th --