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Trump Invites Putin To Washington This Fall; Trump Backtracks On Russian Plan To Question Americans; Putin Echoes Trump Comments; U.K. Police Identify Two Suspects In Nerve Agent Attack; Ortega Clashes With Protesters A Painful Battle; Putin Targeting U.S.-Born Financier Bill Browder; Putin Targets Specific Americans for Interrogation; Did Billions in Gold Go Down With the Ship? Aired 12m- 1a ET
Aired July 20, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Cyril Vanier. Ahead this hour, Donald Trump is still in damage control after Monday's summit with Vladimir Putin, yet he's already planning the next one.
Investigators ID two suspects in the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain, maybe just not fast enough.
And treasure hunters discover a sunken ship missing for more than a century. So, does it hold more than $100 billion worth of gold? We'll tell you next.
Thank you for joining us. We're live from the CNN Center. It's great to have you with us.
And we have to begin today with a stunning development. President Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall. This comes, of course, amid charges of Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump says the Helsinki summit was such a success, that he is ready for round two. The announcement took a lot of people by surprise including the top U.S. intelligence official, who found out while speaking at a security conference. Jeff Zeleny has the story.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. intelligence chief saying tonight he had to correct President Trump's incorrect claim Russia had no role in attacking American democracy.
DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It was important to take that stand on behalf of the intelligence community and on behalf of the American people. ZELENY: Dan Coats, the president's hand-picked director of National Intelligence, said American leaders must speak forcefully about Russia's ongoing threat to U.S. elections.
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, 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. It's critical that we do so.
ZELENY: At a security forum in Aspen, Coats also said it was a mistake for Trump to meet privately with Vladimir Putin.
COATS: If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way, but that's not my role.
ZELENY: Asked whether he had considered resigning, Coats said this.
COATS: As long as I'm able to have the ability to seek the truth and speak the truth, I'm onboard.
ZELENY: The extraordinary comments came as Trump invited Putin to the White House for a second meeting amid another major reversal from the Helsinki summit. Trump now saying he disagrees with Putin's request for the Russian government to interrogate Americans. He changed his tune after a loud bipartisan backlash, including a stinging rebuke from the Senate three days after he praised Putin's idea.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.
ZELENY: What the president twice called incredible on Monday was still being considered yesterday at the White House.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is going to meet with his team, and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that.
ZELENY: Even as the State Department rejected the idea.
HEATHER NAUERT, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: It's that the overall assertions that have come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd. The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens --
ZELENY: Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighing in today after being silent since the summit.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The administration is not going to force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team.
ZELENY: For the third straight day the west wing scrambled to clean up, clarify and correct, contradicting aspects of the Trump-Putin summit. The White House pulled the plug on allowing Moscow to question certain Americans, including Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and American-born financier, Bill Browder, who lobbied the U.S. government to impose new sanctions.
Speaking to CNN's Kate Bolduan, Browder said Putin wants to kill him.
BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: I've told people for a long time that I believe I'm Putin's number one foreign enemy, and sometimes people have scoffed at that.
ZELENY: In announcing the reversal, Sanders said, "It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. The about face came truly before the Senate unanimously voiced its opposition voting 98-0 on a resolution to send the White House a message.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: That it is neither the policy nor the practice of the United States to submit our citizens, let alone our ambassadors, to the interrogation of a foreign adversary.
ZELENY: The president taking no responsibility for the diplomatic debacle the summit has become. Instead placing blame on a familiar target, "The fake news media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war," he said on Twitter.
"They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin." In Moscow today, Putin was singing a strikingly similar tune.
[00:05:02] VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russia-U.S. relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in the course of an internal political battle.
ZELENY: "Time" magazine making the point on this cover, showing the faces of the two leaders morphing into one.
ZELENY: U.S. officials are still unsure what exactly went on in that private meeting between President Trump and President Putin. The nation's top intelligence chief, Dan Coats, says he has no idea specifically what they talked about in that meeting, and he said he would not have recommended President Trump doing so.
Now, all this comes amid questions about will there be any resignations. Dan Coats was asked that specifically. He said, "So long as I can seek the truth and speak the truth, I'm onboard." Of course, President Trump will make that final decision. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
VANIER: With me now, Democratic strategist and political consultant, Michael Trujillo, and conservative commentator and radio host, Joe Messina. Michael, let's start with you. Based on what we saw after the first Trump/Putin meeting, are you looking forward to the second?
MICHAEL TRUJILLO, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I think what you have is a president that thinks he can take a take two. When you're a former reality star and you're able to have your producer and your director say, hey, cut. We're going to take a take two, and the editor is able to change and cut stuff and throw it on the editing room floor.
I think we have a president that doesn't understand that he's actually in reality. He's no longer a reality star, so he's going to try to do a take two to try to improve on what was a debacle, an extraordinary event that we have never seen in our entire lifetime. And the fact that he thinks he can get a take two is extraordinary.
VANIER: Joe, is this about changing the narrative from Monday's summit, which was catastrophic? I mean, he got criticized from both sides.
JOE MESSINA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR AND RADIO HOST: Look, I don't expect the guy to say the right thing all the time. I got to tell you something --
VANIER: But there are moments when he does need to say the right thing and when he --
MESSINA: I agree with you, but I could play this game and then you guys get mad at me, which is you want to go all the times that Obama said something wrong, that Hillary said something wrong. We can play this game all night long.
VANIER: Hold on. Of that nature?
MESSINA: Of what nature? You mean when Obama --
VANIER: All right. OK.
MESSINA: When Obama said he thought Putin was doing great things for his people as he was murdering people. That was OK. So, I'm saying, yes, maybe he didn't say things the way he should have. I don't believe this is part two. Do you want them not meeting with each other?
Chuck Schumer wanted him to go in there and throw a bunch of papers down as he said and say, here, you've done all of this. Here's the report. Explain this. Is that really what you want? Two leaders who have their fingers on 95 percent of the world's nuclear bombs doing?
VANIER: Joe, I definitely agree that we need to address the substance of Donald Trump's argument, which is improving the relations between the U.S. and Russia, and I'm going to get Michael to address that, and I had planned on it.
But my question to you was do you think that any part of planning this second meeting has to do with changing the narrative? I mean, look at how things have gone. Monday the meeting goes horribly wrong. There's no other way to put it. Tuesday and Wednesday, Donald Trump is in damage control. Thursday, Donald Trump ups the ante as he often does and starts with this to regain control of the narrative.
MESSINA: No, I don't think it's a redo. I think he had planned on meeting with the guy again, but they are in damage control, yes. Look, I'm not going to tell you what the guy is thinking. He made a mistake. He could have come off a lot better. He could have said this a lot differently. But I'm not in his head, and my crystal ball doesn't work anymore, but I do not think the second meeting is damage control. I don't believe that at all.
VANIER: All right. Michael, in that case, address, please, the substance of Donald Trump's argument, which is we need a better relationship with Russia, the U.S. and Russia. In fact, listen to the last thing that the U.S. president has said about that today. This was in his CNBC interview on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- Vladimir Putin coming to the --
COATS: Did I hear --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COATS: That's going to be special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: All right. Michael, that was actually a misfire. What you heard obviously was the director, Dan Coats, DNI Dan Coats, who found out in this forum that Donald Trump was planning to invite Vladimir Putin. Now I want to play you this sound bite by Donald Trump to CNBC on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look at the sanctions I've put on. Look at the diplomats I threw out. Look at all of the things that I've done. Nobody else did what I've done. Obama didn't do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy.
[00:10:06] Look at the statement he made where he thought the mics were turned off, OK? The stupid statement he made. Nobody does a big deal about that. Getting along with president Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive, not a negative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Now, with that being said, if that doesn't work out, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: So, Michael, this is Joe's point, and it's also Donald Trump's point, and I'd like you to address it. That ultimately the U.S. and Russia, it would be beneficial for the U.S. to have a better and improved relationship with Russia no matter what Russia has done.
TRUJILLO: Well, I just find it odd that you interfere in the 2016 campaign, and you get a free pass to the White House in 2018. I mean who knew that that's all you had to do to get a free pass to the White House is interfere with our elections, you know, potentially create great damage to the largest and the greatest democracy on earth, and you get a free pass. You get a free pass. You probably get some chicken and some mashed potatoes at the White House, and it's going to be a great day.
VANIER: Michael, I understand the anger. I can even understand the outrage, but that's not the question. The question -- and Donald Trump has said this. We live in the real world among adults. So, you have to sort of take reality as your starting point, not the world as you would like it to be. The reality is Russia is Russia as it is, and we still need to improve our relations with them. That's the argument. Can you address that?
TRUJILLO: I don't question having positive relations with Russia. I don't question having positive relations with any country, whether it's a foreign enemy or an ally, we should strengthen all of our relationships to create peace, absolutely.
But when you're not going to at least tell the truth in front of the leader of that country, in front of the entire world as they're watching you, I mean, that's really at the heart of all of it.
You're going to deny what your own intelligence community is telling you, folks that you, yourself, appointed, who are now in charge of these departments? Going to just deny the truth that they're feeding you, and instead you're just going to accept that everything that Putin says without any -- without any sort of standing up to him.
I remember President Reagan telling Gorbachev to tear down that wall, where was our moment? Where was President Trump's moment to tell the same thing to Vladimir Putin?
VANIER: Joe, would you like Donald Trump to do -- do you hope Donald Trump will do anything differently the second time around, assuming the summit actually happens?
MESSINA: I am always surprised by our president. But, you know, to your point about tearing down the wall, where is the tearing down the wall moment -- VANIER: Do you want him to do things differently?
MESSINA: I do. I do want him to do things differently, but you know what? I'm not going to tell him what to do because he has made great strides.
VANIER: With Russia?
MESSINA: With Russia, with North Korea. I mean --
VANIER: No. The question here is Russia. Has he made great strides with Russia?
MESSINA: Well, I think a meeting with the Russian president, OK, and the Russian president knowing where he's standing -- when you say great strides, I think he's working towards a better relationship. We have had a lousy relationship with Russia for almost eight years now. So, I really think --
VANIER: Do you see improvement either now or on the horizon?
MESSINA: Look it, it's the first date. I'm sorry. What improvement do you want to see the first time around? I think Putin knows that Trump will do what he says he's going to do eventually as he said in that interview. If Putin doesn't do or doesn't come through the way he's supposed to, he's going to be his worst enemy.
VANIER: Come through on what? We don't know what they're trying to achieve because the White House hasn't apparently told -- I was going to say anyone. I read that two people at least in the administration have some inkling of what was said on that one-on-one meeting.
MESSINA: I don't know what you're asking. If you want to know --
VANIER: What is the improvement that you're expecting? What are they working towards? We don't know.
MESSINA: Well, the first meeting is to come to terms who each one of them is and what their boundaries are and what they're willing to give on and not give on. I think that is very specific. I think that's sitting down and saying, look, I've had enough of what you've been doing.
When I make a red line, as he proved when he first became president, I am going to do something if you cross over the red line and not just sit in the corner and cry. I'm going to actually take action against you. Where are you with that? I don't need to know everything that went down in that meeting.
VANIER: Michael, you know, this is a point -- this is close to the point that Barack Obama had made in his day, that you make peace with your friends. You don't make peace -- forgive me. You don't make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies. It's the same idea.
TRUJILLO: I don't disagree at all, but what's unusual here is that there are some organizations where the right hand and the left hand don't know what each is doing, but you have an organization here in this White House where not even the fingers know what they're doing.
And that's the most confusing thing in all of this. I mean, who is giving our president the instructions to have this one-on-one meeting with Putin if the director of National Intelligence, you know, former Senator Coats, doesn't even know what's happening?
I mean, this isn't a left hand/right hand thing, this is the pointer finger and the ring finger not having any clue what's going on and that I think is what's distressing to the American people.
[00:15:08] VANIER: Look, Joe, that's a fair point. We actually saw DNI Dan Coats be surprised, be taken aback when he was told that Donald Trump was being inviting Putin again. Not just being taken aback, but I think his exact quote was that's going to be interesting. It doesn't seem that Donald Trump is running any of this by his intelligence community. Does that concern you?
MESSINA: No, actually it doesn't. I mean, here's a guy who's deciding, you know, as I hear all the time, he's not presidential. When he's decided that he was going to have that second meeting with Putin, he may have decided it within that hour within himself and decided, look it, I need to get together with this guy again.
You're right. It didn't go quite the way I thought it was going to go, but we need to keep meeting, so I can build a relationship with this person. So, we can make big inroads in the areas we need to.
Look, they're not going to not meddle in the 2018 elections. I don't care who is president, whether it was Hillary Clinton or Obama got a third term. They've been meddling in our election for 70 years. Let's be honest about it. And as far as the comment about him not trusting --
VANIER: Everybody is being honest about it. U.S. intelligence communities are being open about it. The only person who is having a little bit of trouble admitting this is Donald Trump. He was asked yesterday pointedly, are they still interfering. His first answer was no. I'm sorry, you can look at that tape again. His first answer was no even though the White House walked that back.
MESSINA: I don't know who he's getting his information from, whether he's taking it or not taking it. You know, when he walked out of there, maybe he felt that president Putin was going to back off of this. I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball, as I say, and I'm not willing to put my finger or blame people or say that people are doing things when I don't know.
VANIER: All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much. You know what? We get a second chance at this. We get a second conversation next hour. I'll speak to you again both of you. Thank you very much, Michael Trujillo, Joe Messina. Thanks.
When we come back after the break, a major break in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter. British investigators think that they know who did it.
Plus meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Nicaragua marks the end of one dictatorship with a brutal crackdown.
VANIER: Investigators in the U.K. now believe they know who poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter last March using a Soviet-era nerve agent. The apparent breakthrough in the case came from good old fashion the police work with a big assist from cutting-edge technology. We get the details from CNN's Nic Robertson.
[00:20:12] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice- over): A break in the mysterious poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. After months and months of waiting high-tech answers to the lingering question, who did it? For police, ground zero in the Skripals' poisoning, their house.
Four months on, it remained a cordoned off crime scene under active investigation and a potential danger to the public. The new breakthrough may help speed investigations using facial recognition technology and intercepted coded Russian messages to Moscow. Police have determined that the pair left soon after the attack.
(on camera): And that neither of them were known to British intelligence authorities, clean skins.
(voice-over): Just days after the poisoning, police at Heathrow briefly impounded a Russian flight to Moscow, but a big breakthrough in the case has been elusive. Two weeks ago, two more people became contaminated by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, believed to have been thrown away following the attack on the Skripals.
One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, who sources tell CNN dabbed Novichok agent on her skin after discovering it in a discarded perfume bottle, dying a few days later. Turning the poisoning investigation into a murder investigation, adding urgency to police efforts.
KIER PRITCHARD, WILTSHIRE POLICE: As you're aware, last night, the counterterrorism policing network confirmed that they will be taking primacy for this investigation.
ROBERTSON: In Salisbury, several locations remain cordoned off like this restaurant where the Skripals ate shortly before collapsing.
(on camera): Police say they've scrutinized several thousand hours of security video and recovered hundreds of objects, but what's really slowing them up, they say, is the dangerous and complex nature of this investigation.
(voice-over): Despite the new revelations, Russia continues to deny British government accusations they are responsible for the death and the poisonings. ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.K.: Unfortunately, we don't have official statements on the British side. I want to hear that from the foreign office.
ROBERTSON: The Skripals are now out of hospital being protected at a secret location, where they are recovering from their poisoning ordeal. Charlie Rowley, the other victim hospitalized a couple of weeks ago is getting better slowly. Diplomatic relations with Russia, however, only see to be deteriorating. Nic Robertson, CNN, Salisbury, England.
VANIER: A violent video has emerged which forced the government of French President Emmanuel Macron to go into damage control. The man wearing a helmet in this video dragging and beating a protester at a Mayday rally in Paris. His name is (inaudible). He is a top security aide to the French president, and he is seen wearing a police arm band. Now, he is not a police officer.
He was supposed to be observing the protests. He is under investigation, and he was suspended for 15 days. Officials say he's also barred from the president's traveling security detail now. Mr. Macron is also taking heat since his office reportedly did not inform police about this incident.
Nicaragua's president is calling violent government clashes with protesters a painful battle. Daniel Ortega spoke at a rally that marked 39 years since the end of the Somoza government. He played a key role in toppling that dictatorship.
As CNN's Robyn Curnow reports he is now overseeing his own brutal crackdown.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the day of people's resistance was met with overwhelming state violence. Months of rebellion in Nicaragua was confronted brutally. As authoritarian ruler, Daniel Ortega, looked to silence dissent. Pitting gunfire and snipers against locals wearing construction helmets and fashioning crude rockets out of plumbing material.
Videos which we can't verify ourselves shared on WhatsApp by local bloggers show a friend being shot. Off camera, he says, be strong my friend. Locals said by dawn, hundreds of police were swarming the street, sweeping away what was left of the rebellion.
The siege had built over the past week. Police surrounding one church as they moved in, and the death toll rising with ten killed in the past week and over 270 dead since the unrest began.
[00:25:02] President Daniel Ortega has led Nicaragua to the brink, accused of hoovering up its wealth and a corrupt nepotism that has seen his wife sponging up power in key positions. Pension reforms to try and keep the pilfered state coffers afloat were eventually scrapped after protest but the collapse continued.
The U.S. has sanctioned key officials for corruption, repression, and extrajudicial killings and pulled its diplomats out. Central America's poorest country now facing a question of whether the brutal crackdown will end the violence or foment longer angrier unrest.
Adding to the regional turmoil that has sent thousands north through Mexico to the U.S. border. Yet another reason Central America is slowly emptying northwards and spiraling towards greater suffering. Robyn Curnow, CNN.
VANIER: After the break, a closer look at why President Putin is specifically targeting this American-born financier for Russian interrogation. Stay with us.
VANIER: OK. Let's look at your headlines again today. U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington. The White House says preparations are already under way for a trip this fall. It is not known if it will be before or after the midterm elections in November. This comes as Trump is being widely criticized after the first Trump/Putin summit on Monday.
British investigators have identified two suspects in the near fatal poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. A source tells CNN the break came after police cross-checked months of surveillance video with facial recognition software. Investigators believe the suspects left the U.K. immediately after the attack and sent a coded message to Moscow.
Nicaragua is marking 39 years since the fall of Somoza dictatorship with more bloodshed. At a rally, President Daniel Ortega called the clashes with protesters that saw hundreds killed a painful battle. He accuses opponents of getting North American funding.
During the Helsinki summit, President Putin offered U.S. investigators the chance to interrogate 12 Russians indicted for election meddling in exchange for the U.S. allowing the kremlin to question several Americans.
President Trump initially called the idea incredible, but after wide political backlash, the White House now says he disagrees with the proposal. One of the men Moscow wanted to question was this man, American-born financier, Bill Browder. Brian Todd explains why Mr. Putin is so interested in him.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin has mentioned Bill Browder's name in the most matter of fact tones. Putin did it Helsinki when he proposed that Russian officials should be able to interrogate Browder, an idea President Trump now says he disagrees with.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We can bring up M. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over 1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States. And yet, the money escapes the country.
TODD: And accusation Browder denies. Putin was also straight-faced when he falsely accused Browder of being behind the death of Browder's own lawyer.
PUTIN (through translator): Underneath are the criminal activities of an entire gang led by one particular man, I believe Browder is his name.
TODD: Behind the dead-pan tones, there is by most accounts, a seething hatred that Vladimir Putin has for the American-born financier, who is now a British citizen. Browder spoke about that when I interviewed him in Washington.
What are the security threats you've received?
BILL BROWDER, CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: They've -- the Russian government has made numerous death threats against me. They want to kill me. They'd like to kidnap me, they'd like to have me arrested and sent back to Russia.
TODD: Putin hates Browder because Browder spearheaded the passage of the Magnitsky Act, an American law which sanctions powerful Russians close to Putin and prevents them from getting to the money they've stashed outside Russia.
BROWDER: I have found his Achilles heel. I've created a mechanism, a legal mechanism to seize that money. And he feels personally aggrieved and he has a vendetta against me.
TODD: Analysts say Bill Browder has struck a nerve with Putin that few of his other enemies have, a threat to the roots of his power.
BEN JUDAH, AUTHOR, "FRAGILE EMPIRE": Putin is furious about this because if individual members of his kleptocracy get banned from accessing the West and accessing their money, they no longer have a reason to be a hundred percent, rock solid, loyal to him. And it starts to open the question to them of whether or not Vladimir Putin can in the long-term guarantee their assets. Is he the right man to secure the kleptocracy's operations?
TODD: The Putin-Browder battle goes back to the mid-2000s when Browder was a hedge fund manager in Russia. Browder hired a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed a $230-million fraud scheme, benefiting people linked to Putin, a scheme which Browder says ripped off his firm. Magnitsky was arrested and jailed and later died in Russian custody under suspicious circumstances.
BROWDER: Sergei Magnitsky is dead. He suffered terribly and is dead because he was my lawyer. TODD: Bill Browder has since made it his life's mission to expose Putin's alleged corruption, which he believes has made Putin the richest in the world.
BROWDER: I estimate his net worth to be about $200 billion. And he keeps that money in Western banks.
TODD: We tried to get response from Russian officials at the Kremlin and here in Washington, to Bill Browder's assertion that Vladimir Putin and his regime want to kill Browder. They haven't responded directly to that, but Putin has called Browder's previous assertion that Putin amassed great personal wealth through corruption "garbage." Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
VANIER: CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, joins me now from Los Angeles. Areva, couple of things I want to check on with you.
First of all, Bill Browder is American-born, yes, but he now has British citizenship. So, the U.S. can't compel him to do anything, right?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely not, Cyril.
The whole suggestion that somehow the American government would send American-born citizens to Russia to be interrogated by the Russian government in exchange for investigators from the U.S. or law enforcement from the U.S. going to Russia, to investigate the 12 indicted Russian operatives was just a really ridiculous suggestion from the gate.
And that Donald Trump even entertained the idea. We saw the state department pushing back on it. We saw top members of Congress and the Senate pushing back on it. There's no equivalency of this conspiracy theory against these Americans versus this very detailed indictment by the special counsel of these 12 Russian operatives.
VANIER: I'll tell you, the U.S. President did more than just entertain the idea. I'd like you to listen to his reaction after Vladimir Putin proposed that quid pro quo. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case, come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: OK. So, he called it an incredible offer. I mean, this may just be the U.S. President's hyperbole. We know that that's the kind of language he uses. But again, he didn't have the power to send any of those Americans, even when -- we're not talking about Bill Browder, because that list included current and former diplomats, in particular, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Mr. McFaul.
He can't send him to Russia for questioning either, can he?
MARTIN: Absolutely not. There's no precedent for this, Cyril. And you're right. The word, entertain, is way too light. He was clearly delighted at the concept when it was introduced by Putin. And then we saw on Wednesday, his press secretary suggesting that he had not ruled it out, that they were even considering it.
[00:35:11] They were going to -- Trump was going to convene with his team and further deliberate about whether he would, you know, comply with this request from Putin. Fortunately, today, on Thursday, the White House issued a statement saying that it's not a good idea and encouraging Russia to send the 12 operatives to the United States.
VANIER: I want to put up the -- to be honest, the wording, raises questions for me. This is the statement by Sarah Sanders, White House spokesperson.
It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it.
You were saying?
MARTIN: Yes. I totally disagree with the word, sincerity. No one believes that President Putin was sincere in that offer. Seemingly, another point of manipulation by Putin as it relates to this entire summit that was held by the two presidents.
There's no precedent for an American president or the American government sending American citizens to Russia to be interrogated by their law enforcement agencies. There is a valid indictment that has been issued against these 12 operatives.
We know there's not a treaty in place, an extradition treaty that would allow for these 12 Russian operatives to come to the United States to actually face prosecution and to have a trial. But the indictment means something.
It signals something very important, that the United States government knows that Russia was intimately involved in hacking the DNC computer server, that they were involved in trying to manipulate the 2016 election, that they are currently involved and still sowing seeding of dissent amongst our political parties.
So, the indictment is a very serious indictment. And, again, that the President would even suggest that he would somehow trade these Americans for this opportunity for our law enforcement to go to Russia was just an absurd concept to begin with.
VANIER: So, look, just as the White House officially dropped that idea and said they wouldn't do that, they knew that the Senate was preparing to pass a resolution, which the senators did, unanimous resolution, sending a message to the White House.
A message saying we're not going to do this. Is that nonbinding? Is it only a political message or does it have the force of law?
MARTIN: It's a nonbinding resolution, but I think its symbolism is incredibly important. What we're starting to see slowly but surely, are members of the Republican Party in Congress and Senate, starting to push back on Donald Trump, starting to raise some real concerns.
We've seen it with his National Security Adviser. We've seen it with the director of the FBI. All these week, doubling down on their statements, that there is unequivocal evidence that Russia interfered in the American election.
So, as Donald Trump continues to equivocate and go back and forth with his statements about where the Russia was involved in the hacking of computer servers and whether he was directing the interference in our election.
We see law enforcement agents in this country, making it clear, that there is no doubt that Russia was involved and continues to interfere in our election process. So, I think what we saw with this partisan resolution by 98 senators, had some significance from a symbolic standpoint.
VANIER: All right. Well, that now appears to be against us -- behind us. White House is against it. The Senate is against it. CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, thanks for joining us on the show.
MARTIN: Thanks, Cyril.
VANIER: After the break, a great story, a newly discovered shipwreck more than 100 years old. Is there sunken treasure in this? Stay with us.
[00:41:07] VANIER: Incredible images and an incredible story from the ocean floor, reveal a shipwreck more than a century old. And treasure hunters as turns out, may have hit the payload. There are stories that the vessel we're about to show you is carrying gold, now worth billions. CNN's Andrew Stevens reports.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're not going to believe it. I have a name. I have a name. It's in Russian. I can't read it.
And with that, the mystery of the final resting place of the Russian warship, Dmitri Donskoi, was solved. In the deep, dark waters of a South Korean island of Ulleungdo, 434 meters, or more than 1,400 feet down.
These Russian Cyrillic letters, revealing the final resting place of a ship that treasure hunters have been searching for, for decades. Video footage from the salvage team show the ship's wheel, marine- growth encrusted guns, and the anchor. Its stern severely damaged, the result of an attack by Japanese warships during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. She was so badly damaged from that encounter that the captain had her scuttled, deliberately sunk, after evacuating almost 600 crew and soldiers to a nearby island of Ulleungdo.
And that's where it gets interesting. The Russians didn't want her to fall into Japanese hands because the Dmitri Donskoi, it's been reported, was carrying gold. Fabulous amounts of gold. If you believe some reports, the total amount of gold bars and coins on- board, would today be worth more than $130 billion.
That's right, billion. A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests it would have to be carrying thousands and thousands of tons of gold to be worth that much, all to pay for Russia's war against Japan.
But there are many treasure ship skeptics. Why? They ask, would the Russians entrust so much loot onto one ship? Why even would they send it by ship when they could have sent it by rail across Russia to the eastern city of Vladivostok.
The salvage company that found the Dmitri Donskoi say they plan to raise her, but they didn't say when. And according to South Korean law, they'll have to fork out about a tenth of what they think the ship is worth. Not surprisingly, they're not commenting on the amount of gold.
The Dmitri Donskoi has already given up its location, but the biggest mystery, what lies beneath those rotting decks, remains, at least for now, unsolved. Andrew Stevens, CNN, Seoul.
VANIER: All right. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. You've got "WORLD SPORT" up next. Then, I'm back at the top of the hour with more world news. Stay with us.
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