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Intel Chief In Dark About Plans For Second Trump-Putin Meeting; Trump Invites Putin To Washington For Second Meeting; Intel Chief: There's A 'Risk' Putin Recorded Meeting With Trump; Bolton Extended Trump's Invitation To Putin For Second Meeting .Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 19, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- thank you very much. Be sure tune in "CUOMO PRIME TIME" 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. "ERIN BURNETT UPFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, out of the loop. The Director of National Intelligence learns about President Trump's plans for a second Putin summit on live television. And yes, plans are underway right now.

Plus, the White House back tracking three times in three days. Why is the damage control causing so much more damage? And the accused Russian spy, how she allegedly used a romantic relationship to launch a sophisticated operation against America. Let's go OutFront.

And good evening to all, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news in the dark. President Trump's Director of National Intelligence with a stunning admission. Dan Coats says he has no idea what happened in that one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin. Here's Dan Coats, the DNI Director.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and President has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more. But that is the President's prerogative. He had asked me how that ought to be conducted. I would have suggested a different way. But that's not my role. That's not my job. So, it is what it is.


BURNETT: It is what it is. Let's be clear, Dan Coats isn't just, you know, some intelligence officer. He is the President's top intelligence chief. And not only was he in the dark about the two plus hours Trump spent with Putin in Helsinki, he also had no idea that the President had invited Putin for a second summit.

Yes, there is another one in the works. One that the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders chose to announce on Twitter. Here is how, again, the top intelligence aid to the President found out about it.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS HOST: We have some breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

COATS: Say that again.

MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin coming --

COATS: Did I hear you right?

MITCHELL: Yes, yes.



COATS: That's going to be special.


BURNETT: Sure is. And just to be clear, Coats was asked again just to make sure that he truly did not have an inkling that Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, was invited by President Trump to come to Washington for a second summit. Let me play that.


MITCHELL: Were you aware of that? I just want to clarify because you seem to be --

COATS: I think I'm not -- based on my reaction I wasn't aware of that.


BURNETT: Couldn't be more clear, was not aware that President Trump was planning a second summit in Washington, D.C. So let's just stop and say the obvious here. It is shocking and should be shocking to anyone who hears this. The President's top intelligence chief finds out from a reporter in a live broadcast in a room full of reporters that his boss Donald Trump invited Putin to Washington for take two, invited the man to Washington who is responsible for -- well, let's listen to how Coats himself put it today.


COATS: It's undeniable that the Russians are taking the lead on this. Basically, they are the ones that are trying to undermine our basic values and divide us with our allies. They are the ones that are trying to wreak havoc over our election process. We need to call them out on that. We have to be relentless in terms of calling out the Russians for what they have done.


BURNETT: Relentless and calling out the Russians. That does describe Coats, Rogers, Pompeo, Brennan, Clapper, Haspel, but not the person in charge, not during the summit in Helsinki and most certainly not during the past two years.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people, also. There's a lot of people out there.

I'll go along with Russia. Could have been China, could have been a lot of different groups. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?


BURNETT: Evan Perez is OutFront in Aspen. He was in the room for that judge (ph) opening moment with Coats. Evan, you were there. There is no question Dan Coats, top intelligence aide to the President of the United States had no idea that there was this second meeting for Putin to come to Washington.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Erin, he had no idea. It was very awkward in the room. As you could hear there was a laughter and you can see from other people from the national security sphere who work for the administration were all looking at each other puzzlingly.

[19:05:13] Obviously, this announcement coming via Twitter which is obviously the President's favorite way to communicate. It was definitely an awkward moment for this Director of National Intelligence. And I'll tell you what, you know, it's been a recurring theme here at the Aspen Security Forum where official after official repeatedly said they believe what the intelligence community has found that the Russians are still trying to meddle in our election systems. They are going to try to do it in the midterm that's coming up later this year, and obviously the President has struck a different tone. So, it's definitely on one side you hear the President and his White House saying one thing and his entire national security team out here in Aspen saying another.

BURNETT: Evan, stay with me. Obviously you're in Aspen.

Joining me OutFront tonight, Julia Ioffe, she's also there within the room as you were, Evan. She's Correspondent for GQ, previously worked as Moscow Correspondent for the New Yorker in Foreign Policy. Max Boot is Washington Post Columnist covering this topic for many years.

OK. So, Max, you're here with me and let me start with you. The Director of National Intelligence was in the dark about what went on in the meeting between Trump and Putin. He was very open about that. I have no idea. He was in the dark about the fact that President Trump had invited Putin to come to Washington for the summit. Plans were in the works. What's going on?

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: That's a great question, Erin. At one level you can cite it is this sheer chaos and complete in confidence on the part of the administration because Donald Trump is such a horrible manager. There is no semblance of a normal policy process in this administration like you would have in previous administrations.

But I think there is actually something more sinister and nefarious going on here as well because, remember, Donald Trump is now being investigated by the FBI for colluding with Vladimir Putin to effect the 2016 U.S. election. And now he is in effect colluding with Putin right now meeting privately with Putin. And we don't know what kind of agreements were reached there. We are only getting hints right now.


BOOT: And the people -- the top people in the U.S. government who ought to know including Dan Coats, they don't know. Putin knows but Dan Coats doesn't know. That is wrong especially given the highly suspect relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

BURNETT: There is no question, Julia, that Coats does not know. And since you were in the room, I just want to play it again. Because when I hear it I think to myself -- I laugh, right, and then I say this is not funny. As an American citizen this is not funny.

I want to play again the moment when Coats find out from Andrea Mitchell and Twitter that his boss has invited Putin to Washington.


MITCHELL: We have some breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

COATS: Say that again.

MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin coming --

COATS: Did I hear you right?

MITCHELL: Yes, yes.



COATS: That's going to be special.


BURNETT: That actually happened, Julia. That was real and it was serious. You were in the room.

JULIA IOFFE, FORMER MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: It was stunning. It was stunning. You know, Erin, I think from the tape it sounds more like laughter. I think a lot of people when you were in the room it sounded more like gasps kind of turning into laughter. You know when you are really uncomfortable and you kind of laugh because you don't know what else to do with your face or your voice.

I think people were really stunned. And poor Dan Coats was sitting there on stage having to take this information in front of everybody. It was beyond awkward especially after a day where we had essentially administration officials saying in so many words that, you know, this President can bang on but I have a job to do. I'm trying to defend the Constitution. I'm just trying to keep my head down and work and keep my men and women motivated and then you have this crazy display of just how disconnected the President is from his own administration.

BURNETT: I mean, Evan, let's just be clear here, the White House knew where Dan Coats was today. They knew he was doing at this time. Everybody did, right? And besotted (ph) promoting it nonstop, OK? If at the least they didn't know from their own scheduler they knew.

They knew Christopher Wray was out there, the Director of the FBI. They chose to announce this on Twitter and not tell these guys. There's no question here. Someone made a choice.

PEREZ: No, absolutely, Erin. And look, I've covered this Aspen Security Forum over the years. And you know these top officials before they come out here, before they go on the air they know these things are going to be streamed on the internet and broadcast. They make sure they've got their talking points all lined up. They're briefed, make sure their people are briefed beforehand.

[19:10:04] And, look, we say this often but it bears saying it again that these are not normal times. And so this administration doesn't behave like administrations past. And so this was very much on display here in Aspen today.

BURNETT: And Max, Coats made it clear today Vladimir Putin is in charge, OK? He is in charge of everything that Russia is doing and Vladimir Putin is a spy. Left anyone be confused about these two things. Coats made it clear. Here he is.


COATS: The former director of the KGB is the one leading their nation. And those people usually don't have the kind of training that our presidents have. I think anybody who thinks that Vladimir Putin doesn't have a stamp on everything that happens in Russia is misinformed. It is very clear that virtually nothing happens there of any kind of consequence that Vladimir Putin doesn't know about or hasn't ordered. I think we're pretty sure about that.


BURNETT: OK. One person who doesn't seem to be sure about that is Donald Trump. Max, here he is.


TRUMP: But they're going, will President Trump be prepared? You know, President Putin is KGB and this and that. You know what? Putin's fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people.


BURNETT: Does he not understand? Does he not care? What?

BOOT: Well, or possibly he understands and doesn't care. I mean, I have to commend Dan Coats for speaking the truth which is in short supply in this administration. But, you know, I have to wonder how is he able to continue working for somebody who disregards his advice and keeps him in the dark. And it's not just Dan Coats. This is true of the entire national security apparatus in the U.S. government which Donald Trump has given the back of his hand to because he is more eager to work with Vladimir Putin than he is to work with the professionals in the U.S. government versus to be safeguarding our security.

I mean, I think Coats' position is untenable. And frankly, my advice to him would be don't wait to get fired, quit, resign and speak out against this.

BURNETT: So Julia, on that note, you know, what's interesting is that Coats and the FBI Director Christopher Wray both very clearly pushed back against their boss in the past two days, right? This is Coats today talking about the Putin meeting itself and Wray yesterday talking about the Special Counsel investigation directly taking on Trump very clearly in both cases. Here they are.


COATS: He had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I do not believe Special Counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt.


BURNETT: All right, Julia, Coats said he'll stay in his job as head of the DNI as long as he has, quote, the ability to seek and speak the truth. Wray said I'm a low key understated guy but should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of when he was specifically asked if he threatened to resign. Julia, is that their way of making it clear we will quit if we need to?

IOFFE: You know, this is the second Aspen Security Forum I have attended. Last year there were also a number of Trump administration officials but it was still kind of early days of this administration. And their way of kind of weaseling out of this question was to say, you know, I swore an oath to protect not the President but the Constitution. And my men and women swore an oath to protect not the President but the Constitution. We're going to keep our heads down and do that.

This year, things are a lot more pointed, a lot more dramatic. The stakes are clearly a lot higher.


IOFFE: And so the commentary is a lot more pointed, as well, from his own officials. And, you know, I have to say after that shocking, you know, watching Dan Coats' shock, you know, a whisper went through the room of how is he for this job?

BURNETT: Yes. And that's the big question. I mean, Evan, it comes as the Wall Street Journal reports tonight, three of the top cyber security officials of the FBI have resigned. That's the word that's being used. Three of them are retiring, I'm sorry. Retiring is the word that's being used.

What do you make of that in light of the whole conversation today? You know, Coats talking about 300,000 American lives could be at risk from cyber attack.

PEREZ: Right. Well, you know, we're talking to people from the FBI, they say that given the fact that there are so many cyber attacks happening that there is a great deal of private sector interest in poaching some of these bright minds that the FBI has. But you do obviously -- it is a question that is inevitably raised because of the very thing you're talking about which is whether people need to stand up and essentially speak with their feet, walk out the door. I keep hearing from officials though in the administration is that they feel that they have a responsibility to stay and to protect their people because if they leave, if they resign then there is no telling what the President or someone else in the administration will bring in after them.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

And next, did the Russians record the Trump/Putin meeting secretly? Wait until you see who says it's possible.

[19:15:04] Plus, three flips in three days. The White House now says the President does not want Russians to question Americans that Putin wants on Russian soil. Why was this ever under consideration?

And the breaking news, Putin reportedly revealing one crucial thing he talked to Trump about. It happens to be something that the President explicitly did not want you to know about.


BURNETT: It's been three days since Trump met one-on-one with Putin and there is very little information about what happened inside that meeting. Even the Intel Chief Dan Coats, as you hear, admits he doesn't know what happened. He didn't know there was another summit in the (INAUDIBLE). He doesn't actually know who rule out the possibility that there is a tape of the meeting.


MITCHELL: Is there a risk that Vladimir Putin could have recorded it?

COATS: That risk is always there.


BURNETT: All right. Let's go straight now to the Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, Democrat on Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees. All right Congressman, so you heard that risk is always there, that possibility. Do you think the Russians have a tape of that meeting?

REP. DAVIS CICILLINE (D), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I don't think we know, but, of course, we should all be concerned. This was a two hour meeting that none of the President's national security team was a part of. It was just Mr. Putin and the President of the United States.

[19:20:07] I think we have a lot of concern about what happened in that meeting. There still hasn't been any read out to Director Coats or the President's team. And so we really don't know what commitments were made, what discussions were had. The President suggested in a tweet that there is going to be a visit by Mr. Putin where they can talk about implementation of some of their agreements like nobody has any idea what he's talking about.

This is not a way to conduct foreign policy. This is a President who seems not to understand or not care about the dangers that he is creating by treating Vladimir Putin like he is a college friend. This is a thug, a dictator who doesn't have American interests at heart, who's invaded a country, who attacked our elections, who kills his opponents, jails dissidents, who's trying to destabilize his military effort in Syria. This is not a friend of the United States. The President ought to understand that and ought to treat him as a foe and be smarter in his dealings with him.

BURNETT: It is pretty incredible, though. You know, you have the Director of National Intelligence, right, the President's top intelligence official saying he doesn't know what happened in that meeting, right? Nobody does on the American side. Sarah Sanders was asked if the United States has a recording, let me clear on what I'm saying, United States has a recording explicitly. Let me play that exchange for you, Congressman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there a recording made of their one-on-one meeting?



BURNETT: Do you believe her? I mean, do you think it's possible, Congressman, because we know that the Russian President and his translator would not have been frisked or checked or anything like that when they went in in that room. So it's very possible, right, that they do have a recording to do with what they choose.

CICILLINE: Yes. I mean, there's no question as Director Coats said. That is certainly a possibility. This is a sophisticated former KGB head. The Russians understand the value of collecting materials that they can use against assets. So, look, I think we don't know that. I don't think we can have any confidence that there was not a recording. But this is why this sort of a meeting for two hours without proper preparation, without representation of Americans who have expertise in national security is so dangerous.

BURNETT: So, of course, you heard the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats saying that had even asked he would have told the President -- he would have been advised to not do it that way. But he said it is what it is. It's not my job, well it's not. Now we know there's a second meeting between Trump and Putin being planned in Washington. Trump's invitation released on Twitter didn't tell his top national intelligence official ahead of time. Your reaction?

CICILLINE: Well I think it's horrifying. I mean, look, this is a person who led an attack on our democracy, who personally supervised the intrusion to an American presidential election with the hope of helping one candidate and undermining another. That ought to be concern to everyone -- Republicans, Democrats, Independence. This is a foreign adversary trying to help decide or help decide who's going to an American president. That ought to offend all of us.

And the idea that the President of the United States has continued to minimize that has not used the opportunity when he is with Vladimir Putin to call him out on it and say do not do this, we will hold you accountable and instead invites him to an iconic building, the people's house, the White House, the man who is responsible for trying to undermine our Democratic elections if defense (ph). I mean, men and women in our intelligence committee, in our military and law enforcement have given their lives to protect our great democracy. And he is desecrating the service of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

BURNETT: What do you want Coats and Wray and others to do, right? Coats said I'll stay as long as I can speak and seek the truth. Wray says --


BURNETT: -- don't mistake my understated manner for not having a spine, when asked if he had explicitly ever threatened to resign. What do you think they should do? Stay or go?

CICILLINE: It's a tough call. I mean, think we need to have people who continue to be patriots who will serve our country, do the right thing, call the President out when he engages in this kind of behavior. Because we have to worry that if these folks leave who will replace them? I mean, we'll give the President an opportunity to put someone in those positions who will really look out for him and not for the interest of the American people.

So I think these professionals are in a difficult position. We have to demand and insist that they continue to speak out and --speak the truth and we have to support them and protect them from adverse presidential action. But it's a difficult situation. But what we really need is Republican colleagues in the Congress to raise their voices and not sit by as the President, you know, cozies up to Vladimir Putin as they take out money to secure our elections and continue to sort of protect the President from very serious ongoing investigations.

BURNETT: Also today the White House back tracking on something the President had said he would consider, right, and that is Putin's proposal where Russians would interrogate Americans including former Ambassador to Russia. Michael McFaul. You've called the idea terrifying. Obviously it was shot down today 98-0 when it came to a vote. Are you satisfied?

[19:25:08] CICILLINE: Yes. It's shocking. The suggestion of this is really, really shocking. I mean, I led a letter with many of my colleagues to the President earlier today demanding that he make it clear that at no time he turnover American citizens to be interrogated by Russian thugs. And the President made the right decision back tracking.

But even the suggestion of it is chilling for our diplomats around the world. It sends a very peculiar message to the Russians about his willingness to consider this kind of thing. It is really un-American and dangerous and it's horrifying that the President actually made that suggestion.

BURNETT: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

And next exactly what happened with that back track that Trump made today. Putin's idea and it was aimed that his name is Bill Browder who is OutFront next.

Plus, breaking news. Bloomberg news reporting tonight that Putin says he made Trump a new offer in that room. And we know what it is. And now why Trump reportedly asked for it not to be leaked.


BURNETT: Breaking news, we now know that National Security Adviser John Bolton was the White House official who extended the President's invitation to Vladimir Putin for a second meeting this fall. This meeting is proposed to happen in Washington, D.C.

Kaitlan Collins is OutFront. She's at the White House. And Kaitlan, obviously, you know, top intelligence official for the President had no idea about this when Sarah Sanders decided to put it out to the whole world. What more can you tell us about the thinking and the planning behind this stunning development?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Erin, clearly this is all coming together rather quickly since that stunning interview where Dan Coats learned about it while being interviewed on television. But we are leaning that the National Security Adviser John Bolton has extended the invitation to the Russian president to come to Washington. He did so today before Sarah Sanders announced discussions were underway on Twitter.

And it is surprising and stunning for two reasons. One being that she said it would occur this fall likely. That is when the midterms will be, of course, which several administration officials have said the Russians are planning to target them again as they did with the 2016 presidential election.

And the second reason being that we still haven't learned what it is that President Trump and President Putin discussed during the first sit-down in Helsinki that went over two hours. That is still something we have heard from the intelligence chief himself. He doesn't know what was discussed everything that was discussed between the two leaders during that meeting.

One thing we do know that they discussed was that proposal that the Russian president made to President Trump in exchange for letting the special counsel question those 12 intelligence officers who were indicted last week, he wanted the Russians to be able to interrogate Americans for what they believe are accusations of interfering in Russian affairs that Putin naming several Americans specifically, including Bill Browder, who's going to be on this program next and, of course, Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Now, of course, that is an astonishing proposal that surprised Washington that the White House was considering it and says that they were discussing it and had flat out ruled it out. But they did rule it out today saying President Trump disagrees with that proposal shortly before the Senate voted unanimously to pass a resolution opposing any Russian interrogation of U.S. officials -- Erin.

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

And when you say unanimous, I guess that's what it takes to get bipartisanship in Washington these days. Trump, of course, had called that idea for reciprocity on questioning, quote/unquote, an interesting idea. He brought it up himself at the press conference in Helsinki and obviously now completely changing course.

Putin critic Bill Browder, as Kaitlan said, is now OUTFRONT.

Browder and his associates, of course, were all mentioned by Putin as people he wanted to question, along with the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

Is this victory for you tonight, Bill?

BILL BROWDER, SAYS PUTIN WANTS HIM DEAD: Well, I would hardly call it a victory. So, I mean, the situation is that Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to hand me over to Vladimir Putin so they could kill me. And it took him three days to decide that maybe he wouldn't do that. So, hardly a victory, but having said that, I never actually believed that (AUDIO GAP) shove and when the system got into gear that it would happen.

And, in fact, today's vote in the Senate 98-0 reflects the real view of what anybody in Washington thinks about this.

BURNETT: Well, elected officials in Washington, you know, except for perhaps the top elected official in Washington. I mean, you know, this comes, Bill, though, as we've now learned, right, that the president has invited Putin to the White House for a second meeting surprising his own top intelligence official.

Your reaction?

BROWDER: Well, I don't think there should have been a first meeting and I certainly don't think there should be a second meeting. Vladimir Putin is a global menace. He has been out there invading Ukraine, bombing innocent women and children in Syria, shooting MH-17, poisoning people with chemical weapons in the heart of England.

This is not a guy who should be put on the same stage as the leader of the free world and he certainly shouldn't be put on the same stage twice within a three-month period. Something is seriously wrong with that.

BURNETT: Of course, Syria is supposed to be the area they were going to be able to reach agreement on and should have reached agreement on. Top military official says they received no direction at this point.

I want to show you, Bill, the new "TIME" magazine cover out today. It's just sort of a strange image for anybody. But, look, it shows Trump and Putin morphed into the same person. The reason I'm showing is that it was -- it reminded us of multiple times the two leaders sounding alike and one of the times I wanted to play for you.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me and Russia and everyone knows it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Could you name a single fact that definitely prove of the collusion? This is utter nonsense.


BURNETT: They both used the word "nonsense", and now they both claim there are forces in America trying to destroy the relationship between the two countries they are trying to build.

You know, Bill, People like to say this and they say it with absolutely nothing to back it. But do you actually think Putin has anything on Trump or is that just a whole lot of hogwash that a lot of people are throwing out to be political?

BROWDER: Well, I mean, I don't have any -- I'm not Robert Mueller. I'm not the guy who has the access to the wiretaps and the subpoenas and all of that kind of stuff.

[19:35:03] What I can say which I think every person, any real person in Washington believes is that Russia is an enemy of the United States. Vladimir Putin is an enemy. His interests aren't our interests. Everything that they are trying to do is adverse to us.

And so, all of this sort of cozying doesn't make any sense. It doesn't fit within a Republican agenda. It doesn't fit with a conservative agenda and therefore, it's inexplicable to me.

But having said all of that, there is one thing that is very important to point out which is that Trump administration has issued devastating sanctions on Russia, supplied offensive weapons to Ukraine and done very serious things in the battlefield in Syria. So, it's all a bit confusing and schizophrenic.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Bill.

And next, the breaking news, Putin reportedly says he made Trump a new offer during their summit. Now we know what it is and the president didn't want anybody to know, explicitly. You'll see why.

Plus, new details of how a gun loving Russian alleged built a spy operation in America.


BURNETT: Breaking news, Vladimir Putin leaking a crucial headline from that private meeting with Donald Trump, a headline that Trump's own team has been talking about, assuming they even know about it, right?

Bloomberg News is reporting that Putin wanted -- told Trump he wanted to hold a referendum for voters in Eastern Ukraine so they could choose if they want to be a part of Russia.

[19:40:07] Now, it's basically certain how that referendum would go if it happens. It's a way for Putin to take over more of Ukraine in addition, of course, to Crimea.

And the Russians say Trump asked them not to leak this request because he wanted to consider it in private. He knew it was a huge deal.

Margaret Talev is Bloomberg News senior White House correspondent, part of the team that broke the story.

I mean, Margaret, this is a pretty incredible thing when you think about it. Trump is not talking at least about what happened in this meeting. But team Putin is.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, my colleague earlier today came to us with this news. I immediately reached out to the White House and said, do you want to weigh in on this? Is this accurate? Or how is it accurate? How is it not accurate? Where are you at now? I was met with basically no response. I have no on the record

response, I have no background response that directly sort of refutes or deals with these individual points.

And so, the story stands and it was exactly as you say. It came through a couple of officials in terms of something that Putin said behind closed doors at a meeting with diplomats. So, that means the Russians wanted the news to get out and the White House is now -- has a new situation where there is news that dribbled out of the summit that Russia has driven the narrative on and the White House is unable or unprepared or unwilling to kind of set the record straight and say where do we go from here?

BURNETT: Well, it's really hard for them to do it, right, because only one person knows other than the interpreter and that's the president. And well, who knows what he's going to tell them?

I mean, you know, Margaret, just needless to say, this proposal goes against every foreign policy the United States has, has implemented that any Democrat or Republican conservative or liberal would support, right? This is a thing that everyone would agree on. No, you do not have a referendum in Eastern Ukraine.

Is Trump really considering?

TALEV: I'll tell you this: on background, NSA officials telling me that the president and the White House, the administration's position on Ukraine is unchanged. If you take that at face value it means no, this has no chance of going anywhere. But that is something that somebody at a pretty high level, maybe the president himself, should probably say on the record if that is their position at this point.

And I think you're right that at first, it has been a matter of trying to understand what actually happened in the meeting, but I think the secondary part of it is if officials come out and say one thing and then the president back-tracks against it the next time there is a meeting of the cabinet and someone tosses a question, they want the message to be consistent at this point and may come down on the side that saying nothing is more consistent than trying to clarify the U.S. position.

But that's exactly right because when you look at what happened with the annexation of Crimea by Russia and then you look at this, there is a 2015 plan to keep the peace in eastern Ukraine. Why put a referendum in the mix now if you are Vladimir Putin unless you are trying to start a new test? New ways?

BURNETT: All right. Margaret, thank you very much with that big development there.

And next, guns, the NRA and a trip to Russia. How a red-headed Russian used an operative to allegedly launch an elaborate spy operation.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the illness now being blamed on the president.


[19:47:21] BURNETT: Tonight, free Maria Butina. Russia's foreign minister launching a hashtag campaign to free the alleged Russian spy after her arrest in Washington. She's in custody. Diplomats at the Russian embassy also visiting her at a pretrial detention center where she is currently being held.

This is coming amid growing questions about what role a Republican political operative she was romantically involved with played in this whole spygate.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The young Russian gun lover twice applied for visas to attend the National Rifle Association's glitzy annual meeting. Twice Maria Butina says she was denied.

Then, the NRA came to Moscow. Butina hosted a gun conference and charmed NRA board member David Keene and his associate political operative Paul Erickson.

By April 2014, visa in hand, Butina was on her way to Indianapolis for the NRA's 2014 annual meeting. There she snapped a pic with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and began blazing a path in U.S. political circles in what authorities alleged was a covert Russian operation.

Her relationship with Erickson quickly turned romantic. Whether he was duped by his young lover who used him for political connections or wittingly lured into a spy operation to influence U.S. politics ahead of the 2016 election is unclear. An unlikely match, Erickson is nearly twice Butina's age.

PAUL ERICKSON, POLITICAL OPERATIVE: If you want power, if you want influence, you see a candidate that you like, show up and work for them. Drop everything.

MURRAY: After growing up in South Dakota and graduating from Yale, he sought to make a name for himself in GOP politics. Along the way, he crossed path now with now disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and worked as a spokesman for John Wayne Bobbitt, the Virginia man whose wife cut off his penis in the 1990s.

Erickson also launched investment schemes and faced lawsuits because of them. He is currently under investigation for fraud by the U.S. attorney's office in South Dakota.

Butina's upbringing is starkly different.

MARIA BUTINA, ALLEGED RUSSIAN SPY: My story is simple. My father is a hunter. I was born in Siberia. For such places like Siberia or forests of Russia, this is a question of survival. Everyone has a gun. MURRAY: After graduating from a local university and dabbling in the

furniture business, she set off to Moscow to pursue political ambitions. There she launched her gun rights group and linked up with prominent Russian official Alexander Torshin, who became a staunch ally.

By fall 2014, she was trading e-mails with her lover Erickson about how to obtain long term visas. Her Russian handlers wanted her to have a more permanent U.S. foothold, prosecutors said. By the summer of 2016, Butina was enrolled in graduate school at American University on a student visa, all part of her cover story, according to prosecutors.

[19:50:06] By then, Butina had already become a fixture at exclusive NRA events, accompanied Torshin to the 2016 annual prayer breakfast and worked with Torshin and Erickson to try to establish back channel communications between candidate Donald Trump and Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Erickson's involvement in the alleged Russian operation is murky. Authorities found a note in his handwriting that read how to respond to FSB offer of employment. But it's unclear if the Russian intelligence offer was for him, Butina, or something else entirely.

Recently, she grew despondent, lamenting it wasn't safe for her to return to Russia. She graduated from American University in May 2018, but a friend didn't spot her at any commencement celebrations. With school behind her, she was planning a move to Sioux City with Erickson, a man prosecutors say she expressed disdain for living with. A day after buying moving boxes, she was arrested.


MURRAY: Now, CNN has identified Paul Erickson as the unnamed person, but he's not directly named in this indictment surrounding Maria Butina. He also has not been charged with doing anything wrong in this indictment surrounding Butina, and so far, he has not responded to CNN's requests for comment -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara, who's been covering this.

I want to go back now to former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Bob, you've been covering this as well. You've been talking to your sources in Washington about Maria Butina. What have you found out?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, she did not expose her affiliation with the KGB, with the FSB. That's fairly standard. She was looking for unwitting agents of influence, people who are pro- Russian, pro-NRA, pro-gun, anybody that could enlist to support Vladimir Putin.

This is an old, long, established KGB M.O. that they've been using for years. It goes back to the '70s. She was doing the same thing. But she did not take the risk, I guarantee you, of telling these Americans, anybody she was in connection with, that she was working for the KGB.

BURNETT: So, when, you know, when Sarah says or when you say unwitting, you know, and Sarah says obviously, Paul Erickson has not responded to her requests for comment. He is the GOP political operative with whom she was romantically involved, right, and I guess using, do you think he was truly unwitting?

BAER: He might have suspected but he didn't want to know. Don't ask, don't tell. He might have realized that she was well-connected in Moscow. She may have looked into -- he may have looked into the Torshin connection.

And he's been identified as a KGB proxy. He's been involved in a case in Spain, an organized crime. A simple Google search would have come up with his name.

Did Erickson not bother? We just don't know at this point. But, really, Erin, the important thing is he wasn't -- I doubt that he was receiving KGB money. I doubt that a KGB officer, you know, showed his credentials, do anything like that, it's too risky, the Russians are too smart.

They got everything they wanted from somebody like Erickson simply by enlisting them in this pro-Russian cause.

BURNETT: A pro-Russian cause, and, as you were saying, right, this was -- you know, obviously, sex was the big lure here.

BAER: Yes, that's, you know, honey pot operation. The Russians are very good at it. They've been doing it for years.

BURNETT: All right. Bob Baer, thank you very much.

And next, what is Trump derangement syndrome? I mean, OK. Jeanne Moos examines.


[19:57:44] BURNETT: All right. Tonight, you heard about it, Trump derangement syndrome? Well, if you haven't, you now will.

Jeanne Moos is OUTFRONT with the symptoms.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The summit pushed Trump critics over the edge in their disdain for the president's behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slobbering servility.


MOOS: Such disdain has triggered a counterattack.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate. MOOS: Well, actually, it's been everywhere else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Full-blown Trump derangement syndrome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump derangement syndrome has become a thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I never heard about Trump derangement syndrome. I'm not a doctor but --

MOOS: You don't need a degree in psychiatry to make the diagnosis.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Trump derangement syndrome, hatred of Donald Trump so intense that it impairs people's judgment.

MOOS: The president himself is citing TDS. On "The View," Judge Jeanine Pirro pointed at Whoopi saying she had it.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, THE VIEW: Did you just point at me?


GOLDBERG: Listen, I don't have Trump derangement. You know what's horrible?


MOOS: It took a commercial break to calm her down.

GOLDBERG: I very rarely lose my cool, but I also don't like being accused of being hysterical.

MOOS: TDS is nothing new. Fifteen years ago, someone coined a term Bush derangement syndrome, which was followed by Obama derangement syndrome.

And now --

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: She's got a little bit of that Trump derangement syndrome and I'm hoping one of these comedians will come up with an anti-anxiety medication for these liberal, just take one tablet a day, maybe a suppository and take it easy.

MOOS: But who needs a suppository when Jimmy Kimmel has a cure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel like the world is out to get you? You may be suffering from Trump derangement syndrome. Ask your doctor about ReZine. ReZine and get you back to living the life you used to love.

MOOS: Maybe critics have to resign themselves to feeling deranged.

Jeanne Moos --

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: This is called Obama derangement syndrome. MOOS: -- CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we affectionately call Bush derangement syndrome.

PAUL: Trump derangement syndrome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make yourself great again. ReZine.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: Make yourself great again.

All right. Thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go and do that. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

Anderson is next.