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CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Trump Lashes Out at Everyone but Putin; Trump Makes Explosive Threat to Iran; Trump Contradicts Self and Has Many Walk Backs on Russia Issue; Trump Attack on Iran May Be A Diversion; Adam Schiff Says Trump Acts Like Someone Who Is Compromised; Trump Claims He Gave Up Nothing in Meeting with Putin; Trump Makes False Claims About Carter Page Warrant. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 23, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me on this Monday. You're watching CNN. We're now exactly one week since the President's meeting with Vladimir Putin and we still don't know what happened behind closed doors. We still don't know what happened behind closed doors.

Keep that in mind as we begin today with a rattled President and a Twitter tail spin unleashing on everyone, everyone except Vladimir Putin or the 12 additional Russians accused of attacking the U.S. Let me get you up to speed here at the top of the hour. The President's threat of war on Iran tweeting, "suffer the consequences, the likes of which few throughout history have ever seen." Does that sound familiar?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was from one year ago on North Korea, and speaking of, the President is frustrated with nuclear talks with North Korea as Kim Jong-un's regime sharpens it's tone and makes demands. He is also walking back his walk back of admitting the Russians attacked the U.S. calling it a hoax again.

On top of this, Trump's campaign ties continue to haunt him, Paul Manafort's trial begins this week. Carter Page admits contact with the Kremlin and the President cannot believe Michael Cohen would tape their conversations. Kaitlan Collins is standing by for the White House briefing. Talk to me about what the heck happened that led to this tweet in all caps on this morning to Iran.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was really the question on everyone's mind. It was a weekend of all caps tweeting from President Trump who tweeted dozens of times in just the last 24 hours alone. Especially over the weekend while he was at his golf club. That remark from the President in all caps directed at Iran came after the Iranian President issued a statement in remarks saying essentially that any war -- any conflict between the United States and Iran would be the war to end all wars, essentially. Very strong language coming from him.

And, of course, Brooke, this all comes, you can't ignore the backdrop. In May the United States withdrew from the Iran deal. That meant the sanctions were re-imposed. We are weeks away from strict banking sanctions and in November there will be tougher sanctions as well. That is all the backdrop. The President's tweet specifically came after Mike Pompeo delivered a harsh statement at Iran saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The level of corruption shows Iran is run by something that resembled the mafia more than a government. It's like an Iranian unicorn. Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the world's authoritarianism around the world. The United States under President Trump will not stay silent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So, Brooke, between that language from Pompeo, a statement from the National Security Adviser John Bolton essentially saying what the President said on Twitter and the President's all caps tweet, you can get when Sarah Huckabee Sanders comes out, she'll be asked about that and what the President was saying one year ago last year about North Korea with reference to the fire and fury remark. She's going to be asked about that as well as the President's other tweets this weekend seeming to call into question essentially what the White House had him say last week was he agreed with the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the election. He backtracked on that all weekend. Calling to an end to the investigation just this morning, to the investigation into Russian interference in the elections. Certainly nothing short to ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders about today when she walks out here.

BALDWIN: We'll see you in the Sarah Sanders momentarily. Thank you so much for that. While the President had no -- While the President had no problem lashing out against Iran, he refuses to keep his word on Russia. The President is once again contradicting United States intel chiefs, his closest advisers, his very own prepared remarks. Calling the investigation into election interference, quote, "a big hoax." Are we back at square one?

It's important not to lose track of all of this. Let me take you back seven days ago. Helsinki, Finland.

[14:05:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Following those comments backlash erupts and after 24 hours of strategizing a cleanup, the White House enters full on damage control mode and comes up with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The sentence should have been I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia. Sort of a double negative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: OK. Unusual strategy, but he says he agrees with U.S. intel chiefs. He says Russia attacked U.S. elections. Got it. But then in the very same breath he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let me be totally clear in saying and I've said this many times, I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia is meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Dan Coats, Trump's Director of National Intelligence clashes with the President, says no, it is Russia and Russia only, and by Wednesday the President is seemingly convinced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven't condemned Putin specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?

TRUMP: Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly, as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say to him?

TRUMP: A very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling. I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it and that's the way it's going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Well, he didn't confront the Russian President in front of the cameras. He wraps up the week with this proposal. Mr. Putin come to Washington this fall. Is this unfinished business? The White House won't say.

That brings me to today, the President's tweets. A big hoax, a witch hunt. The take away, these appear to be the President's true thoughts. No not the forced statements typed out for him or whatever his administration claims he believes. It's like the fire storms, the backlash the walk backs from last week, it's as if it never happened. Let's open up the conversation. With me Gloria Borger, Aaron David Miller and Jeffrey Lewis, who is the director of the East Asia Non- Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Gloria, to you first. After as we just rolled through it, the week that was, how does Sarah Huckabee Sanders explain this? Do you think this all caps Iran tweet is supposed to be a distraction?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you never know with Donald Trump. He's very good at doing that. I personally believe that the truest Donald Trump you ever get is the one on Twitter. Because it's his thumbs doing the typing, and in this case all caps, and we know that Donald Trump doesn't like to be threatened, and he felt threatened by Rouhani who said any conflict between Iran and the United States would be the mother of all wars.

So, the President sprung into action. But, you know, he's springing into action everywhere against Mueller, against Iran. But not against Russia, except when his back is to the wall, and he had to read that hostage video. Appeared in the hostage video last week when he had to read that statement about the difference between "would" and "wouldn't." And so, I think what you're seeing here is kind of unvarnished stream of consciousness going back to the Mueller witch hunt. He's upset clearly about Michael Cohen. She's upset. The Manafort trial is probably going to -- starting today, he's got Iran. He's got North Korea he's frustrated by. I think it just all comes out.

BALDWIN: Jeffrey, we wanted to talk to you. You wrote either this book of fiction about one of Trump's tweets starting with a war with North Korea. And you say Trump's Iran tweet is worse.

JEFFREY LEWIS, DIRECTOR, EAST ASIA NON-PROLIFERATION PROGRAM, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, you know, look. On a day to day basis this is probably just a distraction. It's just something he says, and it goes away. But the scenario I worried about in North Korea, and in my novel the "2020 Commission," but also that I would worry about in Iran is what happens if we're in a real crisis? You know, not just any old random day where it seems to come out of the blue but in a situation where a world leader thinks the United States might in North Korea, and in my novel the 2020 commission, but also that I would worry about in Iran is what happens if we're in a real crisis? You know, not just any old random day where it seems to come out of the blue but in a situation where a world leader thinks the United States might attack? Then I think an intemperate tweet like this could pour gasoline on the fire.

BALDWIN: So, does Iran not take him seriously? Is this not a real- world case scenario? The President's truest thoughts coming from Twitter?

LEWIS: I think they have to be sitting there scratching their heads. We've already seen a little bit of anecdotal reporting that North Koreans in meetings often are trying to figure out what does one make of the Twitter feed. I think that sometimes there is probably a discount, and that's the good news. But, again, the scenario that I worry about is where people are looking for evidence that we're going to attack and then they see the tweet. BALDWIN: A discount. That's one way to put it. Aaron David Miller,

it's almost like it's a tale of two responses. Response number one, Trump threatening Iran with war after rhetoric, and then response number two, Trump invites Vladimir Putin to the White House after Russia attacks the United States. How do you square the two?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I'd square it by -- with the following observation. This is the first President probably in the history of the Republic who lacks the capacity to define an American national interest on whatever the subject is, Iran, the EU, China, or Russia. Somehow untethered from his own personal fears? His political interests? His likes and his dislikes. All of these things have -- I think something in common. And what you see in the tweets is that frustration, is that resentment. I think that's what explains and that's the connective tissue on all of this.

One of my former bosses the inestimable George Schultz once said when you don't have a policy, the temptation grows to give a speech. Or in this case with Mr. Trump to tweet. That's exactly what happens. We don't have a strategy toward North Korea. We do not have a strategy toward Russia. I suspect we -- he careens from lamp post to lamp post as if he doesn't have a direction except the one powered and fueled by his own personal resentments and his politics, and I think that's a sad testament to the future foreign policy of the Republic.

BALDWIN: Stand by, everyone. The White House will have to answer for all of this. The last briefing got heated over that Putin/Trump summit. Now it's become even more confusing. Life pictures there inside the White House. You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.

[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, Aaron David Miller and Jeffrey Lewis are with me. I pulled a couple of different statements we read the Congressman Will Hurd, his piece a couple of days ago in the paper. He wrote as an undercover officer in the CIA, I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American President would be one of them. Add to that Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick also a Republican who is former FBI saying the President was manipulated by Vladimir Putin, and then finally you have the top Democrat on the House intel committee who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I certainly think he's acting light someone who is compromised. It may well be he is compromised or that he believes that he's compromised, that the Russians have information on him. We were not permitted to look into one of the allegations that was most serious to me, and that is were the Russians laundering money through the Trump organization? Republicans wouldn't allow us to go near it. I hope that Bob Muller is investigating it because again if that's the leverage is Russians are using, it would explain the President's behavior and help protect the country by knowing in fact our President was compromised.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Compromised, manipulated. This is a Democrat but also Republicans, thinking about the week that was over the weekend, it feels like a shift.

BORGER: It does, because I think after the infamous Helsinki presser, people were kind of stunned that the President seemed to basically cave to anything Vladimir Putin said or did. Since we don't have a direct readout of the meeting and perhaps Sarah Sanders will help us with that a little bit, we're getting bits and pieces of what was discussed not from our side but from the Russians.

[14:20:00] And so we're -- it's confusing. It's questionable. And things that people were thinking privately, could the President possibly be compromised? What's the reason? People are now saying that publicly. And these are Republicans. And that's one of the reasons you have the President lashing out saying there is no collusion, it's a witch hunt. Et cetera, Et cetera.

That comes I might add after a week ago this past Friday you had 12 indictments of Russians who were trying to impact the election. So, you know, it's very hard to come up with a rational, reasonable explanation that does not involve the President himself.

BALDWIN: To have the President inviting Vladimir Putin who did attack and is still attacking the midterms around the fall. Somebody said to me on Friday it's like you are in the home and you are opening the door to the burglar yet again. Aaron David Miller, on this whole notion of him potentially being compromised, do you find it more and more credible? That the president of the United States could be compromised?

MILLER: You know this is really serious stuff. I take it seriously. I work for Republicans and Democrats and voted for them as well. This is not a partisan comment. I am desperately trying to identify a plausible explanation for the reality that with almost -- no exceptions, this President has turned on or has been ambivalent about every single foreign leader with whom he has interacted. Macron, Merkel, Erdogan, Sisi, except Putin. Either he has a preternatural affection for authoritarians over Democratic allies. Putin is not cranky. He is not cacophonous, he basically deals with the President. Doesn't have a whole lot to say. The President admires and respects his toughness, or you conclude that Mr. Putin has some form of leverage either financial transgressions, personal transgressions.

I'm desperately seeking and searching for the empirical evidence that explains why this President -- look, this is the foreign policy analog to Charlottesville. In Charlottesville he acquiesced and kneeled down to hate groups in America. Here in Helsinki he kneeled before an American adversary and willfully compromised American values and interests. I can't explain it. I'm increasingly drawn to Gloria's explanation.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BORGER: Although, we don't know. Maybe Bob Mueller knows. But we certainly cannot draw that direct line at this point. But people are shaking their heads and saying well, give me some better explanations.

BALDWIN: Yep. No, it's a serious question, and I don't ask it lightly at all. Stand by, everyone. We need another quick break. We're waiting for the briefing. The White House press corps is ready to roll. We'll also fact check the President's false claims about the warrants targeting his former campaign adviser. Carter Page admits contact with the Kremlin. And a Georgia lawmaker under serious fire after what he did while getting duped by Sacha Baron Cohen. Racial slurs. Pulling his pants down. The story and the reaction ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Despite what a 400 plus page FBI report suggests, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page says he is not an agent for Russia. Add to that President Trump who just lashed out at the FBI's unprecedented release of the secret documents that authorized FBI surveillance of Carter Page.

This is what the Pres. Tweeted: "So we now find out that it was indeed the unverified and fake dirty dossier that was paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC that was knowingly and falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller witch hunt. But for one, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is coming to the FBI's defense on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), Florida: I don't think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out the information and there was a lot of reasons unrelated to the dossier for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris for the fact check. Where do you want to start?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: This could take a while. Marco Rubio is right. Donald Trump is trying to link the Steele dossier with the start of the FBI probe which became the Mueller investigation. Not accurate.

[14:30:00] We know from under oath testimony from intelligence officials it was a meeting between George Papadopoulos, that one-time Trump foreign policy advisor and a professor who was saying he had ties to Russia that initially piqued the FBI's interest. That point one. Point two, this is related to Devin Nunez, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said the FBI never let the FISA court know some of this information was gleaned from a document, a dossier that was being paid for by someone who might be supportive of one of the candidates. Not accurate.

"U.S.-based law firm has hard the identified person to conduct research regarding candidate number one's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate one's campaign."

That's pretty direct that suggests that this was not sort of a benign nonpartisan effort. This might have been a search for information on Donald Trump. Let's go to the next slide.

There's a lot here. Now, again, Donald Trump saying this all began with the Steele dossier. No. This is from the FISA warrant. This a lot of this is redacted. Page lived in Russia. During this time page he began a relationship with someone. There was concerns about Carter Page prior to this Steele dossier.