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Ex-Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To Lying To Congress About Trump Tower Moscow Project To Protect Trump; Holocaust Survivor: It Was Hell, Yet I'm Here; Ukraine's President Calling on NATO to Send Ships; Former Trump Attorney Admits Lying About Moscow Project; Deutsche Bank Raided in Money Laundering Probe; U.S. President Cancels Meeting with Russian President. Aired 12m-1a ET
Aired November 30, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everybody, I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Ahead this hour, the man who once said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump has flipped again. This time Michael Cohen claims -- those claims by Trump, that he had no business in Russia, were all lies.
Donald Trump's former loyal fixer, we've already done this one.
Moving ahead, an unspeakable horror slowly being erased from the past. Survivors of the Holocaust struggle to ensure we never forget the worst of ourselves.
VAUSE: President Donald Trump had a message for the special counsel. The Russia probe is an illegal hoax that should end right now. That could just be a coincidence but it comes as his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pled guilty on Thursday, admitting he lied about Mr. Trump's involvement in a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
One idea being considered for part of the marketing, offering the penthouse to Russia's Vladimir Putin. Pamela Brown has details.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, once again flipping on the president in federal court, revealing Trump while campaigning to become president of the United States knew more about discussions with Russians about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow than Cohen has previously acknowledged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cohen will continue to cooperate.
BROWN: Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how much the president knew about the deal dubbed the Moscow project and about when it was terminated, telling the court he lied out of loyalty to the president.
The plea agreement says the man who once said he'd take a bullet for the president gave information to special counsel Robert Mueller during more than 70 hours of questioning between August and November. The deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow was just one of many topics discussed, according to a source.
Court documents reveal Cohen discussed the status and progress of the Moscow project with Trump, referred to as Individual 1, on more than the three occasions. And while Cohen told Congress last fall that the Moscow project ended in January 2016, he now admits discussions about the project lasted as late as approximately June 2016, when Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Cohen now admits he made the false statements to protect Donald Trump and give the false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Iowa caucus and the very first primary, in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.
Cohen also details a plan he was working on with a Russian-American business associate, Felix Sater, to travel to Moscow to discuss the deal ahead of the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. Cohen was even looking into the possibility of Trump making the trip to Russia as well.
Cohen writing to Sater: "My trip before Cleveland. Donald Trump, once he becomes the nominee, after the convention." The ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which Cohen admits he lied to, want to bring Cohen back for truthful answers.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It means that when the president was representing during the campaign that he had no business interests in Russia, that that wasn't true.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: If anything the president has said is true, that there's no there there, why are all his closest associates being found guilty of lying about their ties to Russia?
BROWN: Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney said there is no contradiction between the written responses from the president as it pertained to Trump Tower Moscow and what it pertains to Michael Cohen. We have also learned the Justice Department notified the president's attorneys Wednesday night before Cohen's plea -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Jessica Levinson is a professor at Loyola University Law School and she is with us from Los Angeles.
Good to see you.
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Good to see you. Good to be with you again.
VAUSE: Great. OK, Jessica, there was a time not long ago, that Donald Trump, he couldn't find Russia on the map, never heard of the place. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know nothing about Russia. I know -- I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don't deal there, I have no business, I have no loans from Russia.
I have no dealings with Russia, I have no deals in Russia, I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we've stayed away and I have no loans with Russia.
We had a position to possibly do a deal, to build a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Look at the evolution at the end there. But you know, not exactly a you know, a big deal to catch this president in a lie. But there appears to be evidence that Donald Trump was dealing with the Russian government while the Kremlin was waging a direct assault --
VAUSE: -- on the United States and democracy and maybe we also have a moment as to why Donald Trump is so deferential to Vladimir Putin.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: It comes down to two big questions which Robert Mueller has been looking at which is one, did the Trump campaign have a conspiracy or an agreement with the Russian government to try to interfere with the 2016 election?
And then also, did the president obstruct justice by trying to essentially slam the brakes on the investigation into his ties with Russia, the previous investigation?
And so now, what it looks like is that there's two sentences that may be connected. And the first sentence is the president's personal attorney Michael Cohen has lied under oath about business dealings between Trump and the Russian government, the Moscow project.
And the second sentence is did candidate Trump also lie about interactions and connections that had with the Russian government with respect to the 2016 election?
And that's that is the million dollar question. But you said, we certainly now have at least a potential for a motive.
VAUSE: OK, you mentioned the reason for Cohen lying. That was actually part of a plea arrangement to protect the president. Cohen lied, he said in this plea agreement to protect Trump's interests. I made these statements to be consistent with Individual One's political messaging and to be loyal to Individual One. Individual One is Donald Trump.
So you've got that admission. It also comes after the president submitted his answers to written questions from the Mueller inquiry on the Trump Tower in Moscow. That was reportedly among the questions. So let's say take this a step further, these answers don't match what Cohen is now saying.
How much trouble is Trump in?
LEVINSON: Well, I think that's key. It's exactly key that what's happen with respect to Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, all of this is coming out after President Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller.
So I think what we're going to be looking for very clearly is anything that Michael Cohen said and then separately did anything that Paul Manafort said contradict what is in President Trump's written statement.
At that point we have basically a battle of liars because we have Michael Cohen who's been convicted of false statements, Paul Manafort the same thing and President Trump who has a very loose relationship with the truth. So that point what Robert Mueller really would be looking at is, is there corroborating evidence.
But I absolutely think that it is not a coincidence that Robert Mueller waited, that we had those written statements from President Trump and now we're going to have statements both from Michael Cohen and from Paul Manafort to compare to those statements that were made by Trump under oath.
VAUSE: The response to this from Donald Trump is settling into a familiar pattern in such with outright denial until it gets caught, they then try to shift the blame on someone else and finally there's an argument that well, maybe I did do it but it's not illegal anyway. And here it is. Here's that last argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Even if he was right, it doesn't matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, no, because there are campaign finance laws for a start. But this attitude that I can do whatever I want, seems to be the heart of a lot of problems which he's created for himself over the last two years.
LEVINSON: Yes, so I guess I would say two things. One, you mention federal campaign finance law which you and I have talked about a lot. And so absolutely, there's the case that candidates cannot just do whatever they want. But it is also true that individuals cannot just do whatever they want when it comes to foreign officials.
So there's something called a Federal Corrupt Practices Act and I'm not sure that we're there yet but there's the potential to for offering a federal official for instance in Russia under corrupt circumstances, money for, for instance a project. And so I think that's going to be something else that Robert Mueller is looking into.
But as to your question of this narrative that we see over and over again from President Trump, where it's basically I have no idea who this person is, actually I know this person very well but they're totally insignificant.
And actually when it always boils down to which is I can do whatever I want, I mean, I think we saw this most starkly when news broke that President Trump wanted the Department of Justice to prosecute Hillary Clinton because he thinks that the law is something that really should be used for his political gain --
LEVINSON: -- but not for his political downfall. And I think that's really going to be the question here.
VAUSE: This was a big week for -- in a number of ways on the Donald Trump front. You know, the story seems to have put Donald Trump now as a central figure in the Russia investigation on a number of fronts. There's obviously this question of the Trump Tower, "The Washington Post" sums it up like this.
"Trump, identified as Individual One in Cohen's guilty plea, was said to have received direct updates from Cohen as he pursued a Moscow Trump Tower project with the Kremlin up until June 14, 2016."
The president also appears in the draft charging document for Trump ally, Jerome Corsi, who allegedly told Roger Stone about WikiLeaks plans to release damaging Democratic e-mails in October of that year because he knew Stone was in regular contact with Trump.
So the argument here is that this is a president who played a central role as those around him reached out to Russia as well as WikiLeaks.
LEVINSON: Yes, I think that that's going to be one of the most interesting bridges is the issue of Roger Stone of and Corsi, two peddlers in conspiracy theories and other untruths and to see whether or not they served as bridge between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers and the Russian government.
If Mueller can draw the line, that's when we have some sort of not collusion as you and I have talked about but some sort of conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election.
Now, look, that's still a big if, but what's really interesting I think is that we're all kind of waiting for bated breath for the Mueller report.
Actually, I think the Mueller report is being written chapter by chapter in all these indictments and particularly when it comes to the sentencing memo for Paul Manafort who's now been accused of lying to Mueller and has said that he's not complied with his plea deal. I think that's going to be not one but a number of chapters which
hopefully will be made public that really gives us a sense of where Mueller is in situating as you said the president at the center of the story.
VAUSE: OK, Jessica, we'll leave it there. We're out of time but good to see you. I appreciate your insights. Thanks.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
VAUSE: More than 70 years after one of the darkest chapters in human history, a growing number seem to have no idea the Holocaust had happened. An alarming number are in Europe where a CNN poll found a total of 34 percent of Europeans know just a little or have never heard of the Holocaust.
Even more disturbing perhaps, 31 percent of Europeans believe commemorating the Holocaust distracts from other atrocities and injustices.
It should come as no surprise that the growing ignorance about the Holocaust matches the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. For survivors of places like Auschwitz, it's unthinkable that the world's memories of those horrors is fading as they grow old and pass away.
Here's CNN's Clarissa Ward.
EDITH EGER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: It was hell. It was hell and yet I'm here. I'm here hopefully to tell young people that I count on them.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Edith Eger was 16 years old when she arrived at Auschwitz from her native Hungary with her family in May 1944.
Nazi physician Josef Mengele was standing at the end of the train platform known as the Angel of Death. He performed cruel and often deadly medical experiments on his prisoners.
EGER: We pointed my mom to go to the left and I followed. He came after me, grabbed me. I never forget those eyes. He said your mother is just going to take a shower. You'll see her soon.
WARD: Edith never saw her again. Both her parents were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz along with one million Jews. Hundreds of thousands of others were worked or starved to death. Edith did see Dr. Mengele again.
EGER: He came to the barracks and he wanted to be entertained so they volunteered me and I ended up dancing and closing my eyes and pretending that the music was Tchaikovsky and I was dancing the "Romeo and Juliet" in the Budapest Opera House. WARD (voice-over): It was that powerful spirit and imagination that helped Edith to survive the unsurvivable. It would be with eight months --
WARD (voice-over): -- before Soviet troops would liberate the death camp, discovering horrors that remain etched on humanity's conscience 73 years later.
In many ways, it's the experience and testimonies of those that survive that kept the horrors of the Holocaust alive. And the fear now is that as fewer and fewer of them remain, the memory will start to fade.
According to a CNN poll, it already is. More than a third of Europeans have either never heard of or know just a little about the Holocaust. The statistics for the younger generation are even more alarming; 20 percent of young French adults have never even heard of the Holocaust. Michael Schudrich is the chief rabbi of Poland.
WARD: When you hear that younger people say they know very little or next to nothing about the Holocaust in Europe, which is where the Holocaust was perpetrated, how does that make you feel as a Jew?
MICHAEL SCHUDRICH, CHIEF RABBI, POLAND: How does it make me feel?
It makes me feel that I need to -- that we need to be proactive. It makes me feel that we need to work far more intensively with ministries and education.
WARD: The stakes are high. As Europe grapples with the resurgence of anti-Semitism, but there are signs of hope. More than 40 percent of the respondents believe anti-Semitism is a problem in Europe. Half agree that commemorating the Holocaust helps to combat anti-Semitism.
And nearly two-thirds say it could help ensure such atrocities never happen again.
Today, the ghosts of Auschwitz still linger, serving as a vital reminder to the more than 2 million tourists who visit every year.
SCHUDRICH: Visiting Auschwitz fundamentally transcends the intellectual. It confronts you face to face. You're not looking at a book, you're not looking at a film. You're looking at a place that was built to kill human beings. You're looking at a place that's a factory of death: four huge gas chambers with a crematorium, built for the only purpose to eliminate Jews from Europe.
When you stand there, don't try to understand it. Just have your eyes open, your heart open. Absorb the moment. Somehow if you go there and you stand there and you experience it, maybe that will help every human being that visits to be one step, 20 steps away from ever doing something like that again.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
VAUSE: And with us now from Los Angeles is Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Brian, thanks for being with us.
BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: John, as always. Thank you so much for having me.
VAUSE: You know, if you look back, the Nazi, is ahead a bit of help, carrying out the Holocaust. Especially in Eastern Europe, local officials and paramilitary group, they would round up and then murder Jews. Sometimes they are ordered to do so by the German forces. Sometimes they just want to have to did it anyway.
So, with the past like that, is it just easier to try to ignore rather than confront it and learn from it?
LEVIN: It never left and ignoring it is not the way to deal with it. In some countries like Germany have made actually an insidious effort to try and move past what is happened with the Holocaust, but what we've been seeing across Europe as Clarissa's excellent piece.
And also Sara Sidner's excellent piece as well, which I'll be tweeting on @proflevin, you guys can see if you follow me. We have seen an increase here in the United States and we've also seen increases in Europe.
One of the things that we have done here at the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, with our colleague James Nolan, at West Virginia University. Is this aggregate hate crimes against Jews for about a quarter century?
What we found is, the months with the worst hate crimes against Jews all corresponded except for one with conflicts in the Middle East and Israel and the Palestinian territories. The only month where it didn't is when (INAUDIBLE) list win the Academy Award.
But there is a (INAUDIBLE) that is running through -- many of this societies that is touched off by this nationalist (INAUDIBLE), as well as an anti-religious sentiment generally, which also sweeps Muslims under its ambits. So, in Europe what we're seeing or offenders be divided among let's say --
LEVIN: -- thrill attackers, as well as, neo-Nazi types and Middle Easterners and North Africans, many of whom are recent immigrants.
VAUSE: We're also seeing in some places, in Europe with this -- you know, hard right ultra-nationalist parties gaining popularity. Is that it would be like history? They glorifying the Nazi collaborators. You know and essentially, you're going to try to change the role of they played during World War II. You know and trying to wipe it clean. The color reaction to state-sponsored murder, 6 million men and women and children is usually how could this happen? It seems that can easily become this couldn't have happened. And so, why we're looking at this rise at this particular point in time? Because I know that it ebbs and it flows. But right now, it just seems to be flowing.
LEVIN: Great question and I think there a few reasons. One over all the rise of nationalism. As well as somehow putting Jews, as somehow responsible for some of the negativity that is been occurring in society.
Also, we're seeing from among some folks in the extreme part of immigrant communities in Europe targeting Jews around disputes in the Middle East. So, it's kind of a double-edged sword that is hitting the Jews in Europe.
Interestingly enough, Jews in the United States much more highly regarded. Nine in 10 Americans have warm feelings about Jews. But last year, an ABC/"Washington Post" poll showed that 9 percent of Americans saying Nazi views are acceptable.
So, the dynamics are a bit different in Europe than here in the United States.
VAUSE: Exactly, because -- you know, the U.S. doesn't have the anti- Semitic baggage as Europe. And you mentioned that was Saudis that show that -- you know, a good number of teenagers, they can't even name a concentration camp.
You know, people think 2 million Jews were killed, almost 6 million. You know, there's been a sort of downgrading of the atrocity over a period of time.
So, where do you see all of this heading?
What are the consequences of denying the worst of our actions?
LEVIN: I think the consequences of denying the Holocaust and similar types of atrocities is that we are now seeing. And this is so interesting and I've -- and I've been to Europe lecturing on this. We are seeing the same kind of racial animus and religious animus that ties Jews together as subject of attacks on two fronts also affecting Muslims. And that's happening here in the United States.
And what we seen is arise in anti-religious hate crimes both here in the United States and in Europe. England had a significant increase last year. The United States, we saw a 17 percent increase overall. But hate crimes against Jews were almost hitting 40 percent increase.
In other words, what we see in here is an increase from just over 600 -- just three years ago to over 900 in 2017. And it appears in big cities like New York that anti-Semitic is rising again be for 2018 as well.
VAUSE: It's unbelievable, it really is. I guess -- you know from some people exist -- they can't admit the stuff that happen in the past was just so horrific, so you want to ignore it. Brian, thank you. Good to see you.
LEVIN: John, as always, thank you.
VAUSE (voice-over): Our coverage of anti-Semitism in Europe will culminate with a special half-hour report by Clarissa Ward on Friday, 7:30 in the evening in London, 2:30 in the afternoon on the U.S. East Coast.
Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, Ukraine's navy is sitting ready in port for a tense military standoff with Russia.
VAUSE: Well, Ukraine's navy is docked, waiting, as tensions threaten to boil over with Russia. Ukraine's president is calling on NATO to send ships to the Sea of Azov after Sunday's confrontation with Russia in the Kerch Strait. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports from Southern Ukraine.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The days are short, but feel long now for Ukraine's navy. Since Russian boats rammed them and the rest of 24 sailors near the Kerch Strait. Ukraine's long and ugly war with its neighbor is in the spotlight again. These naval ships in Mariupol will be confined to port.
MAXIM NOSENIKO, SPOKESMAN, UKRAINIAN NAVY: Our superiors stop movement and patrolling because of the situation. And right now, we are -- you know, a little afraid in this.
WALSH: The fear here is that this is just the start that Russia wants to control entry and movement in all the Sea of Azov, so it can take more of Ukraine's coast right down to Crimea.
NOSENIKO: Russian coast guard ships take under control the civilian ship going to our ports and take some time to check all documents. More than 20 ships are waiting from that site to proceed to our port.
WALSH: Ukraine has talked tough. And here, parading the readiness of their attack helicopters, jets and anti-aircraft guns. Despite knowing what they need most is international solidarity.
The commander of Ukraine's forces tells us, there's one thing he like to hear from President Trump. SERGEI NAEV, COMMANDER, JOINT FORCES OPERATION, UKRAINE (through translator): I think the American leader must say to our enemy to stop his aggression. Stop now.
WALSH: The port of Mariupol is itself pretty dead. Fewer and fewer ships came here before the Kerch clash because of the war.
Eerily quiet, isn't it?
And that's really because Mariupol's economy has been in the doldrums for years now. This city almost constantly living with the threat of a Russia invasion.
A tough industrial town made tougher when war saps away the industry. These park gardeners have a short lunch break and of brace for a tiny cafe. Some familiar with Russia, some fed up with the president.
"If we had a normal president," she says, "with women worked like this in this kind of job."
"I have relatives in Russia," that's another.
"We are Russian, I don't understand this conflict," the third adds. "I have many Russian friends who worry for us like we worry for them.
"Trump? I don't know why he supports Poroshenko," she says. "I need another," she adds. "Good president."
Putin, a name that brought the odd smile among them. Strange, given how Moscow's pressure has killed thousands here and torn this once prosperous town down.
Yet, it's a sign the war's agony is in some places decaying the fabric of Ukraine rather than renewing it to immunity -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mariupol, Southern Ukraine.
VAUSE: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, officially Trump and Vladimir Putin have canceled their get-together at the G20 because of Russia's recent maritime confrontation with Ukraine. The unofficial reason -- when we come back.
[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. Donald Trump's personal attorney pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress.
Michael Cohen admitted that talks over a Trump Tower in Moscow, lasted well into the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen said he lied to protect Trump's political interests. The Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank were raided on Thursday, kind of a money laundering investigation. Prosecutors suspect Germany's biggest bank helped clients set up offshore companies and tax havens. The probe is tied to the Panama papers which were leaked two years ago, exposing global money laundering networks. Bank says it's cooperating.
And President Trump abruptly cancelled his get together with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, at the G20 summit. Mr. Trump said he did it because Russia still refuses to release Ukrainian navy ships and sailors, seized, during a maritime confrontation on Sunday, so the Kremlin response? Now, we have extra time for other useful meetings during the summit.
So, let's go to Robert English now, in Los Angeles, the deputy director of the University of Southern California, School of International Relations, Robert, thanks for coming in.
ROBERT ENGLISH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: My pleasure.
VAUSE: Let's go with the timeline here. It's not that big. At 10:30, on a Thursday morning, before heading off to Argentina for the G20, the President was asked would he be meeting with Vladimir Putin, in the wake of Russia's seizure of those three Ukrainian naval ships. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I probably will be meeting with President Putin. We haven't terminated that meeting. I was thinking about it, but we haven't. They'd like to have it. I think it's a very good time to have the meeting. I'm getting a full report on the plane as to what happened with respect to that, and that will determine what I'm going to be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. The full report he is referring to was about the Russia- Ukraine clash on the seas. Then, an hour later, less than an hour, just over an hour later came this tweet.
Based on the fact what the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina, with President Putin.
I look forward to a meaningful summit, again, as soon as this situation is resolved. OK. So -- which under normal circumstances, if this was an administration, anything -- and acted anything like previous administrations, that would be a legitimate reason to cancel this out with Putin.
So did he cancel over Ukraine or did he cancel because at the same time, Michael Cohen was, you know, pleading guilty and revealing, you know, the fact that Donald Trump had this close business associations with Donald Trump.
And the optic with Vladimir Putin, I should say, and the optics of meeting with Putin, which is something they didn't want to go through.
ENGLISH: It's the second, of course. All signs make that clear. He would have met with Putin and tried to have another meeting and who knows what they would've discussed, but it became politically unsustainable.
[00:35:11] VAUSE: There is an argument that the President should have gone ahead with the Putin meeting, anyway. Democrat senator Bob Menendez, sort of, explains it this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I would've like him to meet Putin, and challenge Putin, to find his spine as it relates to Putin's violation of the international order, as well as the cyberattacks on our own democracy. What I wouldn't want to see is another Helsinki performance. This was his opportunity to redeem himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, who loses the most by this meeting, not going ahead? And is Donald Trump capable of standing up to Vladimir Putin?
ENGLISH: Oh my goodness, how much is packed in there? I guess, Putin loses something. It's clearly embarrassing, right? He was looking forward to this meeting and this kind of a stamp of legitimacy when he continues to meet with world leaders and the U.S. president.
Trump looks weak. He loses as well, because everyone understands what you said at the outset. He's cancelled the meeting not because he wanted to, not because of the crisis with Ukraine, this naval confrontation, but because he has big domestic trouble and it looks like the noose is tightening over the collusion with Russia.
So, he doesn't look strong. He loses as well. So, this is just damage limitation for the American political scene.
VAUSE: Yes, the last time Trump and Putin had a get-together, it didn't go so well for the U.S. President, in case you didn't recall. Here's a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful, in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, with that in mind, is it better that no summit, or rather than a Helsinki 2.0?
ENGLISH: Listen, for those of us who've been following this closely, I'm just going shift the comment for a moment, this was sort of inevitable, I mean, the confrontation with Ukraine. We've taken our eyes off what's happening there with Crimea. But, following the annexation, Russia now commands both sides of that strait. So, sort of geopolitically, it was inevitable. It's no longer a jointly monitored strait. And with some incidents over the spring, for example, the Ukrainians actually seized a Russian shipping boat. The Russians returned the favor, a month later.
The Ukrainian side has been building up some military infrastructure on their shore of the Azov Sea, and Russia, then, completed this bridge which gave them, you know, direct access to the Crimean Peninsula and control of that narrow strait, and things were escalating.
And frankly, the Ukrainian side is of equal participant in this. They made a point of sending this small flotilla to, you know, to challenge, and to establish their right, almost like what we call a freedom of navigation operation that we conduct in the South China Sea.
And Russia, like the Chinese, said no. This is our water now. It's not international. And if you're going to pass through, you will first answer our call and identify yourself and you'll get permission.
And frankly, I think the comparison with what China does, in the South China Sea, and how it's establishing sovereignty, practical sovereignty, and a greater and greater military dominance, in defiance of the U.N. convention and most international law, is really a comparable situation to what Russia is doing.
VAUSE: Right, which is why --
ENGLISH: In its backyard.
VAUSE: is how you would explain. So, the response from Europe to all this has been fairly muted.
And so, with that in mind, if you take Donald Trump's snubbing of Putin over, you know, the clash between Russia and Ukraine, essentially snubbing Putin not holding that meeting, that is a very forceful statement, you know, in itself, along the surface, at least, which again, is another division between Europe and the United States in how to deal with Russia, which is exactly what President Putin likes.
ENGLISH: Yes, I think for the European leaders, they are so fed up with all of this, right? Of course, they're fed up with Russia and its actions that have -- that lie at the heart of this crisis over Crimea.
They're also fed up with President Poroshenko, the Ukrainian leader, who also acts provocatively and tries to manipulate the situation to help himself, with domestic politics. And above all, they're fed up with Trump, who only makes the situation worse and introduces this wild card.
And they have so many important issues to discuss. Trade issues with the U.S., of course, they have Brexit. They have crises at home with countries like Hungary and Poland. And so, along comes Putin, and then Trump, throwing hand grenades. They're just a plague on all your houses. Can't we conduct some serious business, please?
VAUSE: Is there a grownup in the room, perhaps? Robert, thank you. Appreciate it.
ENGLISH: My pleasure.
VAUSE: Well, still to come here, a Washington neighborhood is honoring a slain journalist. They want to show the world they take Jamal Khashoggi's murder, seriously, even though it seems, President Donald Trump, does not.
[00:40:00] VAUSE: Japan airlines pilot has been sentenced to 10 months in prison, for being drunk. London's metropolitan police say a breath test taken less than an hour before his flight from London to Tokyo, came back with a reading of alcohol, in his system, nine times the legal limit.
Japanese Broadcast at NHK says a crew bus driver alerted police after smelling alcohol. The pilot apparently had drunk two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer, the night before. Japan Airlines apologized and promised immediate action.
A Washington, D.C. neighborhood group is so outraged that President Trump's response to Jamal Khashoggi's murder, it wants to rename part of the street in front of the Saudi embassy as, Jamal Khashoggi way.
The neighborhood commissioner says residents are dismayed, Mr. Trump has downplayed the role of the Saudi Crown Prince, even after sources say the CIA concluded Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing. But, it's still not clear if the street will be renamed. U.S. Congress has authority over the district and could make that final decision.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up after the break.
[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)