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CNN NEWSROOM

Hearing for Accused Russian Agent Underway; Interview with Bill Browder; Neighbors Dispute over Push to Drill in Alaska Refuge. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: -- hoping o get that move so that he can see exactly what evidence they have. Clearly he's saying that she's going to be vindicated.

I think one of the more interesting things here is going to be whether or not there's going to be any plea negotiations here because usually in these kinds of cases when you have foreign nationals who are charged with these kinds of crimes, there's all sorts of diplomatic efforts that are under way to try and get the person essentially sent back home. So what we could see is at some point negotiations begin so that she can plead guilty, and then get back -- sent back to Russia.

But other than that, you know, she'll be before a judge who, if this does go to trial, is going to be the trial judge and they'll do some scheduling. And we may have more evidence against her today.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Any -- I mean, what are you hearing about the likelihood of this going to trial, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: Usually in these cases certainly, and really people that I've talked to over at the FBI, they don't usually go to trial. For a lot of reasons. That -- the likelihood of it is really slim. They try to negotiate so that someone in this situation usually pleads guilty, is then released, and then the Russians would take her back home and that's it. And then she will just go on with her life.

HARLOW: Right.

PROKUPECZ: But the chances of this really going to trial, the government certainly does not want these kinds of cases going to trial because then they have to reveal a lot of the methods that they use to get this information, sources and all that.

HARLOW: Right. All right. Shimon, thank you. Appreciate the reporting.

Ahead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be on Capitol Hill. He's facing questions, a lot of them will be about the Trump-Putin Senate. He'll be in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Up next, the longtime critique of President Putin called out by Putin during that summit. Bill Browder joins me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:36:16] HARLOW: Today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to face questions from senators about President Trump's private meeting with Vladimir Putin. Everyone wants to know what the two leaders discussed behind doors, especially American-born financier Bill Browder.

Why Browder? Because Putin called him out by name at that press conference with Trump. This after floating the idea to President Trump that he would let Special Counsel Robert Mueller question those 12 newly indicted Russians if Russia could interrogate Browder and others.

Two important things to note here. First, Browder is a long-time Putin critic who pushed for tough sanctions against Russia, the Magnitsky Act. He's called such an interrogation essentially a death sentence. And second, the day of the summit President Trump called Putin's offer, quote, "incredible."

Bill Browder is with me. Good morning.

BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Good morning.

HARLOW: It's important to note, you're no longer a U.S. citizen so the U.S. really would have no authority here. But putting that aside, now that the White House has walked this back and said, no, no, no, no longer do we think it's an incredible or even interesting offer to have, you know, Bill Browder or former ambassador Michael McFaul questioned by the Russians. What's your reaction to that? Were you relieved, at least?

BROWDER: Well, I wasn't all that worried that I was going to be handed over bit the U.S. authorities to Russia because there's a rule of law in the United States which would almost certainly prevent that. However, I'm by far -- I'm far from being relieved because of several things. One is that Vladimir Putin -- this wasn't the first time Vladimir Putin has brought up my name in public trying to get hold of me. He's been doing it ever since the Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012.

I think he's made five public mentions of my name in public settings. He's also applied Interpol seven times to have me arrested. And so I fully expect that he's going to have another go at President Trump and various others to try to get hold of me. And so this is a long-term fight, a mortal fight, a fight where he wants to destroy me.

HARLOW: Background for our viewers, your former lawyer is named Magnitsky for whom the act and the sanctions were passed. He was murdered while he was in jail for uncovering a major, major financial crime on behalf of the Russian government.

When it comes to dealing with Vladimir Putin, you've called yourself one of, if not his number one foe, here is how Republican congressman Mike Coffman views the president's interactions with Putin. This is what he told our Manu Raju just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: Well, I think the first time it was a terrible mistake. I think the second summit would be equally bad. I mean the fact is that the president went to Europe and I think he was, you know, strong when it came to talking to our allies and weak when it came to Putin. And we'd just advise aggression. We're also very concerned about him meeting alone with Putin.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that he got played by Putin?

COFFMAN: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He thinks that President Trump got played by Putin. As someone who has had dealings with the Putin regime, what do you think President Trump should learn from your experience dealing with Putin?

BROWDER: Well, what I know about Vladimir Putin is that he's not a person that can be negotiated with. He is a bald-faced liar and he is a cold-blooded killer. It's effectively like having a summit with Pablo Escobar. And so in dealing with a person like this, you have to be absolutely tough. There's no buddy-buddy, there's no we need to be friends.

Vladimir Putin is an international menace, he is a criminal and he needs to be contained. And any actions, whether it's just meeting with him or god knows what was said behind closed doors, all that kind of stuff encourages Vladimir Putin and gives him respectability that he doesn't deserve.

[10:40:03] HARLOW: On that point, Secretary Pompeo, as I mentioned, will be in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, and he's going to be under oath, answering a bunch of questions about what he knows about what was discussed behind closed doors between Trump and Putin. And he said just yesterday, quote, "One, I think the world will have benefited from when history books are written." That's how he described the summit, something that the world will have benefited from and history books will reflect that.

Do you agree?

BROWDER: You know, I mean, he is an employee working for a boss and he's got to say what the boss wants him to say. I don't think that there is any person on either side of the aisle, Democrats or Republicans, that think any of the things that happened in Helsinki were good for America or tough on Russia. And it's hard to imagine that anything other than bad history will be written about that.

HARLOW: But -- And, Bill, I should just note, when it comes to politics, I mean, people have pointed to and said, yes, yes, he's been a big contributor to, say, Hillary Clinton's campaign, you have said and say it here again, you've not contributed to political campaigns. Correct?

BROWDER: Zero. I've made zero political contributions to Hillary Clinton or any other candidate in the United States.

HARLOW: On the issue of tough actions on Russia, I hear your point on the rhetoric. But would you concede that the Trump administration's actions when it comes to the arming of Ukraine, the sanctions that the president signed, although his hand was very much forced by Congress here, are tougher on Russia or tough on Russia?

BROWDER: I would not only concede that, I've been publicly complimenting the Trump administration on their tough actions towards Russia, in particular the sanctions that they have imposed on the richest Russian oligarchs. That's an absolutely powerful, devastating and important move. What's weird and schizophrenic about this whole situation is, on one hand, as you said, and as I agree, Trump -- the Trump administration has been tougher on Russia than the Obama administration. Objectively.

But it's totally inconsistent and schizophrenic that at the same time as they're doing really good policy towards Russia, that President Trump goes out there and gives Vladimir Putin an international stage in which to gain respectability and says all these nice things about him.

HARLOW: Why? Why, Bill?

BROWDER: It just doesn't make sense?

HARLOW: Why do you think it is? Why is it happening?

BROWDER: I wish I could explain it. I wish I could explain it because it's very disturbing. If we just didn't have all these tweets and public statements and just look at the Trump administration policy, I would be happy. But I'm very unhappy with this sort of creating a legitimacy for Vladimir Putin through these summits and all these nice statements.

HARLOW: Bill Browder, appreciate you being here. Thanks for joining me.

BROWDER: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up next, a CNN special report, part two. You saw part one here yesterday on a battle between the drillers and the environmentalists over oil in Alaska as the Trump administration rolls back decades of environmental protection. Bill Weir joins me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:47:05] HARLOW: Alaska may be a modern-day gold mine when it comes to oil. Until recently though drilling in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge was illegal. That changed, though, in December. As part of the tax reform bill that was passed, drilling in ANWR was opened up, and that is pitting neighbor against neighbor in Alaska.

Here's part two of Bill Weir's special report, "TRUMP VERSUS THE WILD."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the little hamlet of Kaktovik, Alaska, the only village inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there are three topics of conversation most days -- polar bears, the weather and Donald Trump.

(On camera): Are you a fan of President Trump?

CHARLES LAMPE, KAKTOVIK, ALASKA: Yes, he does good things. You know, he does bad things. I'm grateful that he got that bill passed.

WEIR (voice over): December's tax cut bill also opened the arctic refuge to drilling. And the government is now moving fast to lease 800,000 acres on this pristine coastal plain. This is where the last great caribou herds give birth, a place brimming with life and beauty made all the more fragile by a staggering rise in arctic temperature.

PIERS MORGAN, BRITISH HOST: Do you believe in climate change? Do you think it exists?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a cooling and there's a heating/ The ice caps were going to melt they would have begun by now. But now they're setting records.

WEIR: That is the exact opposite of the truth. And this time lapse of NASA satellite data clearly shows how the relentless burning of fossil fuels is melting the arctic at a rapid pace, including the oldest, thickest ice seen here in white.

Which is why more and more emaciated Nanook are wandering into town. They need sea ice to make dens and hunt seals. And without it whale scraps are the next best thing.

(On camera): But skinny, hungry polar bears aren't the only warning sign up here. That is the Kaktovik Airport and they're moving it away from the coast due in part to sea level rise. They're seeing more and more freakish rainstorms in the winter and blizzards in the summer but at the same time all the modern creature comforts in this town from the clinic to the school were paid for with oil money. And with the promise of fresh millions for their native corporations, most of the folks here are eager to tap into the one product that is changing their land forever.

GINO SOLOMON, KAKTOVIK RESIDENT: What do we use for whaling? We use gas and oil. What do we use to go hunt caribou? We use gas and oil. We have this right to develop on our own land.

WEIR (voice over): A so-called scoping meeting with federal officials lays bare just how emotionally divisive the issue has become.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about what's going to happen to this land if there's an oil spill and the response that's going to come along with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for that message. Can we ask where you're from? WEIR: That loaded question and the tension in the room shows how much

resentment there is for outsiders who want to protect the refuge.

[10:50:03] And to the Inupiaq here on the coast, those environmental rivals include the Gwich'in tribe up in the mountains, folks fiercely opposed to drilling.

FAITH GEMMILL, GWICH'IN TRIBAL MEMBER: So they partner with the oil companies. We've told them our position. Our culture, our spirituality, our traditional way of life is based on the caribou, and we're not willing to give it up.

ROBERT THOMPSON, POLAR BEAR GUIDE: I'm sure that they have the moral high ground. They're trying to preserve their culture and the people that are pro-oilers are doing it for money.

WEIR: Back in Kaktovik, Robert Thompson is known as the local anti- drilling gadfly, a wildlife guide who carries a revolver just in case that skinny polar bear gets grouchy.

THOMPSON: This gun is more powerful than Dirty Harry's gun.

WEIR (on camera): That's right.

(Voice-over): He points out that the native-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is worth billions thanks to royalties from other drilling sites. But that wealth does not trickle down. And his neighbors here believe that tapping the refuge will finally bring the wealth and respect they deserve.

(On camera): There are a lot of people in Chicago or Dallas or Iowa who believe this is their land, too. It is a national wildlife refuge, like a national park.

LAMPE: Yes. But then --

WEIR: And they want to keep it pure. But --

LAMPE: They will never set foot here. I don't think it's right for them to be able to tell us what we can and cannot do with our own land. You know, we're the best stewards of our land.

WEIR (voice-over): That is the kind of local support pro-drilling lawmakers Lisa Murkowski loved to highlight. The senator is the driving force behind opening ANWR. And she insists that wildlife won't be harmed. Despite our numerous requests, she refused to be interviewed. And one reason may be that unlike the president she is one Republican who believes in manmade climate change but wants her state to keep drilling regardless.

FLORIAN SCHULZ, PHOTOGRAPHER: If this will happen here, it would just destroy the entire place.

WEIR: Up at the refuge, photographer Florian Schulz is one outsider who has spent years here, capturing the magic of this place. And he hopes everyone, including the good folks of Kaktovik, will take the long view.

SCHULZ: I'm using resources. I'm driving a car, but I feel we need to think in new ways. We need to think in new technologies and stay with the value of keeping wild landscapes. Because once they're gone, they're gone.

WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, Kaktovik, Alaska.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: And we'll bring you part three of Bill's fascinating special report there tomorrow morning.

A terrifying moment at the Tour de France when a cyclist flies over a stone wall. What he did after is nothing short of extraordinary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:27] HARLOW: Patriots training camp begins today. Head coach Bill Belichick already in mid-season form when it comes to facing the media. Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

He just loves answering reporter questions, doesn't he?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He's just the best when it comes to this, Poppy.

This "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by Ford. Going further so you can.

You know, there aren't many things better in the NFL than a Bill Belichick's press conference and today was his first of the season which means it was the first time the media boss got to ask Belichick again why he didn't play star quarterback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. You know many fans still think they lost the game because of Butler's benching. And "Boston Globe's" Dan Shaughnessy tried his best to get an answer, asked Belichick about it six times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SHAUGHNESSY, BOSTON GLOBE: What about the fact that anywhere we go folks want to ask about Malcolm Butler. I mean, sports coaches, players, universities. If you're a sports fan --

BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS COACH: We've talked about that. That's multiple months ago.

SHAUGHNESSY: Is there going to be any more explanation about why he didn't play?

BELICHICK: Focused on training camp.

SHAUGHNESSY: Would you do it any differently?

BELICHICK: Training camp? Well, of course, we're getting started.

SHAUGHNESSY: No.

BELICHICK: We'll work on that right now. We'll do the best we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Classic answers there. All right, finally I want to show you a terrifying crash yesterday at the Tour de France. Philippe Gilbert who's leading the stage, watch him go flying over this wall in his descend down the mountain. He landed in a ditch. Incredible he was able to get back on his bike and then rides 36 miles to the finish. After being examined, turned out Gilbert suffered a broken kneecap, Poppy. His tour is now over. But I tell you what, that crash could have been so much worse watching him go over that -- or that little cliff right there.

HARLOW: Incredible. And he gets and he's like thumbs up. Wow.

All right. Wishing him the best. Andy, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

HARLOW: Also this just in to CNN. A spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump is responding to "The New York Times" reporting that she was tuned in to CNN on Air Force One and the president was not all that happy about that. Stephanie Grisham tells our Kate Bennett the media should instead focus on the issues important to the first lady like instant neonatal abstinence syndrome and children being bullied. She goes on to tell CNN, quote, "Seems kind of silly to worry about what channel she watches on TV, any channel she wants, by the way, or if she heard some recording on the news."

All right. Thanks for being with me today. A lot of news. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "AT THIS HOUR" begins next.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Wednesday. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Kate Bolduan. And let us begin with a secret audio recording that is secret no more.