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Interview With Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA); Biden Defends His Civil Rights Record After Harris Confronted Him On Race, Busing In Bruising Debate; Trump Jokingly Tells Putin Not To Meddle In 2020 Vote, Now Heading Into High Stakes With China's President; Suspect Charged with Murdering Missing Utah College Student, Burning Her Body in Backyard. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But, tonight, there's still some mystery surrounding her sudden disappearance and the suspect's motive.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight Joe Biden on damage control, after the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate.

The former vice president is defending his civil rights record after rival Kamala Harris confronted him about his past opposition to mandatory busing to desegregate schools.

The tense exchange raised new questions about Biden's strength as the Democratic front-runner, while showcasing Harris and her still on the debate stage.

Also breaking, President Trump is heading into high-stakes talks with China over the G20 summit, after he mocked Russian election interference with Vladimir Putin at his side. The president jokingly asked the Kremlin leader not to meddle in the 2020 vote.

He also made a crack about getting rid of journalists, ignoring the fact that some Russian reporters and Putin critics have been found dead.

I will get reaction from Congressman John Garamendi. He is a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to CNN's senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah. She's in Miami, where the Democrats clashed in their first debate.

Kyung, we're told Joe Biden knows he needs to do better after his performance last night. He tried to do that today. KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he hit on those --

on that point immediately in his first public comments since the debate, Wolf.

He was on the defense, trying to steady the ship with his black voters, where has seen some of the strongest support in the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAH (voice-over): Tonight, the Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden, is defending his record on civil rights, after an intense exchange during the Thursday night debate.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect Senator Harris. But we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

LAH: Speaking to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a civil rights organization.

BIDEN: I never, never, never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing.

LAH: He's reacting to the debate confrontation with Kamala Harris. She challenged Biden's past when he opposed federal mandatory busing to desegregate schools.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

BIDEN: If we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights, and whether I did or not, I'm happy to do that.

I was a public defender. I didn't become a prosecutor.

LAH (on camera): What is it that turned tonight, that made you discuss that?

HARRIS: I just think that on, some of these issues, it's that the American public deserves to know how we come at our priorities. There are millions of people in our country who have personal experiences with this. And that voice needs to be on stage.

LAH (voice-over): A breakout moment, fueling a throwback tweet and making headlines.

Fund-raising jumps at the Harris campaign to its third best day.

HARRIS: America does not one witness of food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LAH: But Harris had a debate stumble of her own.

LESTER HOLT, NBC: Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan? All right.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LAH: After the debate, Harris tried to explain her answer.

HARRIS: So the question was, would you be willing to give up your private insurance for such a plan?

QUESTION: That's not how it was asked. That's what you heard. Right?

HARRIS: That's certainly what I heard.

LAH: The Medicare for all plan Harris says she supports would effectively eliminate private insurance, with few exceptions, such as for elective surgery not covered by the federal plan.

The topic has tripped her before.

HARRIS: I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this. Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.

It was in the context of saying, let's get rid of all the bureaucracy. Let's get all of the ways..

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, not the insurance companies?

HARRIS: No, that's not what I meant. I know it was interpreted that way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Now, the debate also challenged Pete Buttigieg. He was asked a question about the officer-involved shooting in his city, South Bend. And the question was on why representation of black police officers has not improved while he was mayor.

And, Wolf, he said very bluntly, "Because I couldn't get it done" Wolf.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah in Miami for us -- Kyung, thank you.

Now to President Trump out on the world stage over at the G20 summit in Japan. He's preparing to go head to head with China's leader after meeting with Vladimir Putin and making light of Russian election interference here in the United States.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is on the scene for us in Japan.

[18:05:01]

Jim, this was Mr. Trump's first meeting with Putin since the release of the Mueller report.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And that is not the only high-stakes meeting the president has here at

the G20 summit. He is closing in on a critical meeting with China's leader, Xi Jinping, later on today here in Osaka, Japan, to see if both leaders can figure out a way to end their costly trade war with one another.

The president is also expected to hold a news conference where he's expected to face that nagging question, why wont he get tough on Vladimir Putin?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): It was hardly a warning that will send shivers down the spine of Vladimir Putin, as President Trump appeared to jokingly tell the Russian leader to stay out of the 2020 election with a smile on his face.

QUESTION: Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, of course I will.

Don't -- don't meddle in the election, please.

ACOSTA: The president's comments at the G20 summit were the latest indication that Mr. Trump is unwilling to accept the U.S. intelligence community conclusion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election.

At their previous meeting in Helsinki last year, the president was siding with Putin.

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.

ACOSTA: The president's latest encounter with Putin comes after special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russia had been caught red- handed.

ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.

ACOSTA: Contrast the Trump-Putin warmth with the icy reception the Russian leader found with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose spokesperson said in a statement: "She told Putin that there cannot be a normalization of our bilateral relationship until Russia stops the irresponsible and destabilizing activity that threatens the U.K. and its allies, including hostile interventions in other countries, disinformation and cyberattacks."

Back in the U.S., former President Jimmy Carter alleged that Russia had essentially handpicked Mr. Trump.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Although not yet quantified, if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn't actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.

QUESTION: So do you believe President Trump is an illegitimate president?

(LAUGHTER)

CARTER: Based on what I just said, which I can't retract...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ACOSTA: The reality is, Mr. Trump has never really worn Putin to butt out of us politics, an opportunity he passed up back in 2016.

(on camera): Why not get tough on Putin and say stay out Why not say that?

TRUMP: What do I have to get involved with Putin for? I have nothing to do with Putin.

I will tell you this. Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president and Putin shared one other lighthearted moment when Mr. Trump took aim at the media.

TRUMP: Fake news.

You don't have the problem in Russia. We have it. You don't have it. You don't have that problem.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes, we have it.

TRUMP: You still have it?

PUTIN: Yes, the same.

ACOSTA: But, in Putin's Russia, the press is hardly free, as journalists have been imprisoned and even murdered for their coverage of the Kremlin.

The president took his jab at the press on the same day he greeted Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whose government is widely seen as responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And the global financial markets are bracing for the outcome of the president's meeting with China's Xi Jinping later on here at the G20 summit here in Osaka, Japan.

There are hopes of some kind of cease-fire between the two leaders in their trade war, something we expect the president to discuss at his news conference later today.

But next up for the president, a meeting with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. We will be watching you to see if the president brings up the case of Jamal Khashoggi. And the whole world be watching that as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta in Japan for us -- Jim, thank you.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, I want your thoughts on the president's trip to the G20 in just a moment.

But, first, what did you think of last night's Democratic presidential debate, which featured that heated exchange between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Biden?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Well, I was actually flying across the country at that moment, and I just cringed. I said, here goes the beginning of the circular firing squad.

We really can't do that. There are so many issues out there. The integration issue goes back to the '70s. I was in the -- in the assembly here in California. It was very, very difficult.

But we have to press forward. We have to press forward to make sure that every part of our society has access to the education they need, to the jobs that are out there. And so we need to go -- we need to move beyond that. And, please, no more circular firing squads for our team. We have got a great team out there.

[18:10:00]

They're all very qualified, all very capable. Let's take a deep breath and really deal with the fundamental issue of the president. He has got to go.

BLITZER: But don't you want a serious -- don't you want a serious debate between these Democratic presidential candidates to underscore where they agree and disagree with each other? Don't voters have a right to know that?

GARAMENDI: I'm quite sure you and other journalists would be more than capable of doing that. We just don't need to do it to each other.

BLITZER: So you think that Senator Kamala Harris was wrong in going after the former vice president like that?

GARAMENDI: I think the first debate was the kind of debate we ought to have, stay to the issues, talk about what you want to do. The second debate, Kamala wasn't the only person that was going after

the front-runner. I know how that works. I have been a front-runner. And I have also been number two and three in campaigns. I much prefer to talk about the things that I want to do, that I need to do.

And let's talk. If it's education and busing, recognize the fact that the federal government spends a whole heck of a lot more money on its nuclear bombs than it does on education.

So those are the kinds of things we ought to be talking about if we want to be president.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on.

What did you make of President Trump today joking with Vladimir Putin about Russian election interference over at the G20 summit?

GARAMENDI: You think this is a surprise?

This is the president of the United States that has continuously, from the very earliest parts of his campaign, kowtowed to Putin, has never held Russia accountable, has never taken the steps that a president must take to protect our democracy.

And I was even more concerned, or at least equally concerned, about the way in which he disrespected the fundamental role of the free press in our society and I think, jokingly, or maybe not, said, well, perhaps I could do better if I didn't have a free press.

BLITZER: Former President Jimmy Carter said today that President Trump's election in 2016 was illegitimate -- this is Jimmy Carter -- because of Russian interference.

Do you agree with Jimmy Carter?

GARAMENDI: I don't agree with the illegitimate part of it. He won. Did he won fair -- did he win fair and square? I don't think so. Clearly, had the help of the Russians. Was that collusion?

Well, the Mueller report said probably not. But we're going to hear from Mueller, and we're going to get into the details. Whether there's collusion or not, clearly, absolutely, the Russians were helping elect Donald Trump to the presidency. And, OK, he got the necessary electoral votes. He did have three million less votes across the nation than Hillary Clinton.

But we're not talking about legitimate or not. What we're talking about here is the 2020 election. And I am so disappointed, I am so disappointed in the president not standing up to Putin and say, get out, or else, just as Theresa May said.

BLITZER: Congressman John Garamendi, thanks so much for joining us.

GARAMENDI: Good to be with you.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, I will talk to a former Biden adviser about his debate performance and whether he can turn things around next time.

And by refusing to take Russian interference seriously, is President Trump giving Vladimir Putin a green light to meddle in 2020?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:50]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the presidential race tonight.

Joe Biden is defending his commitment to civil rights, as he tries to recover from a searing attack on his record during the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate.

Let's bring in Jake Sullivan, a former national security adviser to Biden who helped Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama prepare for debates.

Jake, thanks very much for coming in.

JAKE SULLIVAN, FORMER ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Happy to be here.

BLITZER: What did you think of Biden's debate performance last night?

SULLIVAN: Well, the vice president went in, obviously, planning to lay out a case to the American people about how he was going to restore the backbone of this country and unify the country.

And he got a lot of opportunities to drive his message on the middle class. And then he had to face what every front-runner has to face, which is a number of people on stage going after him.

But I think at the end of the debate, for all the Sturm und Drang in the media, what most people watching it saw was answer after answer of the vice president sticking to the core message of his campaign.

BLITZER: But didn't even anticipate that that issue, school busing, would come up, that someone would raise it, not necessarily Kamala Harris, but someone would raise it? Don't you think he should have had a better response?

SULLIVAN: Well, here's the thing.

I think the vice president really wanted to focus on distinctions or differences between the candidates today, not something that happened 30 or 40 years ago. So, from his perspective, the more time spent on the present and future, the better.

And I think he didn't want to get into a deep litigation, as he said in the debate. He didn't really want to be litigating out the question of who's got a commitment to civil rights, since, basically, all 10 candidates on that stage have a commitment to civil rights that is in an entirely different sport, let alone ballpark, from Donald Trump.

BLITZER: So you helped in the debate preparations for Hillary Clinton, for Barack Obama.

How is the former vice president going to bounce back now? There's another debate at the end of July that CNN will be hosting.

SULLIVAN: So, in 2008, there were something like 22 or 24 primary debates between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and the cast of other candidates. In 2016, Bernie Sanders and Hillary debated maybe a dozen times.

We have to remember, this is a marathon. They're going to be a lot of debates between now and when the ballots are cast. So this to me isn't really a question of bouncing back. It's a question of continuing to try to stick to your script and your game plan and turn in performances month after month.

[18:20:04]

BLITZER: When the president was meeting today with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Japan, he was joking a little bit about Russian interference in the upcoming 2020 election.

What did you think of the way the president handled that?

SULLIVAN: It's interesting.

Every time this issue comes up, Donald Trump thinks it casts into doubt his election victory. So his insecurity is now having a direct effect on America's national security. And that's because what he's basically saying to Putin is, you're not going to get any trouble from me if you intervene again in 2020.

And I think Putin got the message loud and clear today.

BLITZER: Speaking about that, the former President Jimmy Carter, he went so far as to suggest that this whole presidency, Trump's presidency, is illegitimate because of Russian interference and the help that he got in winning that election.

SULLIVAN: I think Congressman Garamendi had it exactly right. Donald Trump got more than 270 electoral votes. So, by the Constitution, he's a legitimate president.

But he would not have won the election, in my view, had Russia not interfered. And that's something that we have to take very seriously.

BLITZER: Well, you think Russian interference was decisive in helping him get enough electoral votes?

SULLIVAN: Seventy thousand votes across three states.

When you look at the scope and scale of Russian interference laid out in the Mueller report, it's hard for me to argue that it didn't have that kind of impact. If it didn't, then the tens of millions of dollars spent on information and advertising by campaigns every year is totally wasted. BLITZER: So you think -- it was about 77,000 votes in Pennsylvania,

and Wisconsin, and Michigan. You think that was the result, at least in part, a decisive result of Russian interference?

SULLIVAN: A lot of different things could have changed the half that number, 37,000, that would have been required to make Hillary Clinton president.

This is certainly a really significant part of that, not only the hacking and leaking of e-mails, but the millions of messages sent out on social media, on Twitter, on Facebook and everything else.

But the real issue, Wolf, for me, this is not surprising from Donald Trump. We can expect this from him. What's more surprising is that Republicans in the House voted almost unanimously against an election security bill that would protect us from Russian interference in the future. If the president's not going to step up, at least his party could do

the job of trying to protect our democracy.

BLITZER: And what did you think of the way the president was joking with Putin today about fake news?

SULLIVAN: You know very well the sorry, sad, morally repugnant record of the Putin regime when it comes to journalists, killing them, jailing them, disappearing them, exiling them.

And for Donald Trump to basically make light of that, he's not just saying, hey, I don't care what you do in Russia. He's making common cause with Vladimir Putin, as Putin tries to undermine democratic institutions, including a free press, in the West.

For an American president to do that, I think that could be the most long-term damaging legacy of this president.

BLITZER: It's a significant development.

Jake, thanks very much for coming in.

SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Just ahead, as Jimmy Carter makes the case that President Trump won illegitimately, how and when will Mr. Trump fire back?

And police confirm a missing Utah student is dead, arresting a suspect and revealing some stunning details about what happened. But, tonight, there remain crucial gaps in the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:55]

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden forced to do some cleanup and defend his civil rights record, after a bruising attack by his rival Senator Kamala Harris in their first presidential debate. Let's dig deeper with our correspondents and our analysts.

And, Nia, let me play a bit of that exchange that they had last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?

BIDEN: No.

HARRIS: Do you agree?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed. I did not oppose...

HARRIS: Well, there was a failure of -- of states to -- to integrate...

BIDEN: No, but...

HARRIS: ... public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California, public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision.

HARRIS: So, that's where the federal government must step in.

BIDEN: The -- the federal government must...

HARRIS: That's why we have the Voting Rights Act...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: ... and the Civil Rights Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Nia, how damaging was to Biden?

HENDERSON: You know, we don't know yet.

We don't know if this moment for Joe Biden is going to be fleeting, or whether it's going to be pivotal in terms of his campaign. It's still early. There's a long way to go before voters make up their minds.

Obviously, people are looking at African-American voters, because that's the base of Joe Biden's support and one of the reasons why he's still so strong, because he could very well sweep through the South and grab all those delegates because of the affection that black voters feel for him. I spoke to some black voters in South Carolina and got their sense of

what they saw last night and whether or not this was changing their minds. And one of the things they said was, leave Joe Biden alone. They feel like this doesn't matter.

I mean, this was a kind of a collection of voters. And in terms of Kamala Harris, one of the things that somebody said to me was, she loves Kamala Harris, but she doesn't think she could do well with white voters, because black voters are obviously looking at white voters and what candidate would appeal mostly to them.

So I think, when we look at the next polls, I think one of the things to look at is how black voters are still feeling about Joe Biden, if they're still a supporter, and also what white voters are doing. Is this going to turn off any white voters going for Joe Biden? We don't know.

[18:30:00]

I think he obviously stumbled. You saw him try to clean it up with a speech in front of the Jesse Jackson Rainbow Coalition in Chicago, and we'll just have to see.

BLITZER: What did that exchange, David Chalian, tell you about Biden's place in this race right now?

CHALIAN: It told me that the question mark that has been hanging over the Biden candidacy since its inception still is there. He did not assuage the questions in the political community, among democratic elected officials, among democratic operatives of whether or not Joe Biden is the man for this moment, for this party, to be the standard bearer to go all the way and take it to Donald Trump. There's a question around that.

And what I find so fascinating about Joe Biden's position in this race right now, there's a huge divide between how voters have been responding to Joe Biden and how the political community has been responding to the Biden candidacy. And he did nothing last night, which was his biggest opportunity to do so, to assuage the concerns and convince the political class that the voters have this right. Instead, he left them with lingering questions.

BLITZER: You know, David Swerdlick, he tried to clean it up today at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Chicago, as Nia was pointing out. He said, we all know the 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime commitment to civil rights. What did you make of his effort to clean it up?

SWERDLICK: So, first of all, Wolf, in that clip you just played, Senator Harris did her effective prosecutor routine against Vice President Joe Biden. All that was left was for her to say, your Honor, permission to treat the Vice President as a hostile witness. He has got to know in that situation knowing what people have been discussing the last two weeks that something like that is coming either from Senator Harris or someone else. To David's point, he's got to show the American people that he is the right man for this moment. You want to be the guy that's going to debate Donald Trump three times but you somehow stumbled in this 30 to 60-second block against Senator Harris who's never done this before, that's not a good excuse even if he's right that you can't get your full civil rights agenda out in 60 seconds.

BLITZER: And, Laura Coates, we also saw the former Vice President today wrap himself up in the legacy of the Obama presidency.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, his mind is a security blanket. Of course, before he became the Vice President of the United States, the crime bill was there, his views on busing was all present and relevant at that point in time. I think he thought and was hoping that would be a new clean slate that would start anew with the first African-American President.

What he was finding is that was essentially a package deal, Biden and Obama, and Obama and Biden in that particular order. And he's hoping that he can ride the coattails for as long as he can. But issues like this and questions about his record on race are relative (ph) that when you are asking me to be the person to actually sit in the Oval Office at that that particular desk.

BLITZER: Ryan Lizza, what does Biden need to do to make sure that, going forward, he fixes things up?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Two things. One, he needs to familiarize himself a little bit more with the Obama/Biden record on these issues. And I was surprised he didn't just go through the litany. In fact, just on the Obama/Biden administration had a policy, a desegregation policy. Because, you know, one of the things that's happened in recent decades is a re-segregation of a lot of communities in school districts. They had a policy on that and Biden didn't mention it.

He could have been a lot more familiar with his opponent's record on some of these issues, right? Kamala Harris has been criticized for some of the positions and policies she has taken as a prosecutor. He sort of hinted at that when he said, oh, I was a public defender, you were a prosecutor, but he didn't sort of deliver the case. So I think that's one thing.

And then the second thing is just to be a little bit more -- even in the -- even in not that dramatic exchange with Kamala Harris, I thought that he was not exactly the most coherent, effective advocate for his own policies and history. At one point, he just stopped. This is a debate where you're only getting a few minutes over the two hours. And at one point, he said, oh, my time's up, and stopped speaking and his voice sort of trailed off.

So he just did not seem like he was fully in command of that stage and fully in command of his own record and the record of his opponents.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more that we need to assess and we'll do that right after this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S VICE PRESIDENT: And Ii watched for hundreds of hours in that -- in the so-called the situation room, not where Wolf Blitzer lives, the real situation room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:00]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. We're back with our correspondents and our analysts. And, David Chalian, the President has been in Osaka, Japan at the G20 summit. He met with Vladimir Putin today, first time they're meeting since the Mueller report came out. I want you to listen to this exchange that they had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election please. Don't meddle in the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He smirked, he laughed, he said, yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election please. Don't meddle in the election.

CHALIAN: So that was the Commander-in-Chief mocking what is a legitimate, real national security threat that is aimed at undermining the very core of our democracy, our free and fair elections.

[18:40:05]

And what he did was make it into a joke, a toss aside line and it is not surprising, Wolf. This is not new behavior for Donald Trump but it is still astonishing to watch the Commander-in-Chief dismiss a national security threat in public that way.

BLITZER: Is he essentially, David Swerdlick, essentially inviting more Russian and perhaps other interference?

SWERDLICK: Yes, Wolf, I think he is. Because the message there in that clip you played with him laughing and mocking the idea of Russian interference, he's sending an unambiguous symbol to Vladimir Putin and anybody else that he's not going to do anything about Russian interference, so why wouldn't Russia continue to interfere?

The president still is hung up on this idea that he doesn't like the narrative that he got help winning the election. And that, among other things, is why he's not going to take these affirmative steps.

BLITZER: And, Laura, sitting with Putin, the President also went after what he calls fake news. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Fake, fake news. You don't have the problem in Russia. We have -- you don't have it. We have it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Yes, yes, yes, we have the problem.

TRUMP: You still have it?

PUTIN: Yes, the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: In Russia, journalists are often either imprisoned or even killed.

COATES: And the idea that he believes that it's the same that's happening right now in the United States of America is very startling and very shocking. Also the idea of the President of the United States who -- remember the First Amendment and the free press, we honor that actual amendment in the constitution. He's making fun of the ability to criticize the government or at least illuminate issues about the President doing something wrong. This is one of those patterns, I think, the President misses the mark every single time, having the opportunity to be on the world stage, to honor the United States of America and support its core values and chooses instead to be glib about it. It's remarkable.

BLITZER: Listen to this exchange, Ryan Lizza, that the former President, Jimmy Carter, had today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, there's no doubt that the Russians did interfere in our election. And I think the interference, although not yet quantified or fully investigated, it would show that Trump didn't actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you believe President Trump is an illegitimate president?

CARTER: Based on what I just said, which I can't retract.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Have we ever heard that kind of rhetoric from a former president about a current president, Ryan?

LIZZA: Not that I can recall. And, you know, look, Jimmy Carter is someone who has done a great deal of work around the world as an elections monitor. Part of his post-presidency has been a sort of, you know, good housekeeping seal of approval on new democracies and their elections. So for him to say this, you know, it carries a certain amount of weight. But I think it's our responsibility to point out that what he is saying is -- at least in my view is not accurate. There is no evidence, of course, that there were changes in the vote totals. There's a lot of evidence that there was a misinformation campaign, of course, sponsored and paid for by the Russians.

And how many votes and how many voter's minds that changed, we'll never know, right? As we all know, only 77,000 votes, they were flipped in three states in the Midwest, you would have a President Clinton, not a President Trump. But he did win the Electoral College. And it's very hard for us to quantify how much the Russian misinformation campaign actually affected voters' minds.

So I feel like he was going a little bit further than most people who have studied this issue have been willing to go.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, it's a little startling to hear from Jimmy Carter because he's really not a bomb thrower in this way. But I agree with Ryan. I mean, there's no proof of this. But it does raise concerns. To David's point, people want this to have some attention, the idea that Russia did undermine our democracy in 2016 and people want this government on high alert going forward.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more breaking news we're following.

A suspect charged with murder and more in the case of a missing Utah college student. CNN is outside of the suspect's house. Stand by. We'll have the very latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:49:07] BLITZER: There's breaking news in the case of a missing Utah college student. Police have now arrested a suspect they accuse of kidnapping and murdering the woman and then burning her body in his backyard.

CNN's Scott McLean is in Salt Lake City for us.

Scott, tell us more.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf.

Police say that it was digital footprints that led them here to the suspect's house, but it was what they found on the property that turned this into a murder case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHIEF MIKE BROWN, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: It is with heavy heart that I address you today.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Tonight, police have made an arrest as chilling details emerge in the case of missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck. Investigators detailing what they uncovered on a property they've been searching since Wednesday.

BROWN: Charred material was located which has now been forensically determined to be female human tissue. A DNA profile of that human tissue was obtained during forensic testing by the Utah state lab.

[18:50:06] That DNA profile was compared and is consistent with the DNA profile obtained through further forensic testing of personal items of MacKenzie Lueck.

MCLEAN: Lueck's uncle saying just a few words.

MACKENZIE LUECK'S UNCLE: The Lueck family would like to express their gratitude for the effort put forth by the Salt Lake City police department. They are also grateful to her community, her friends and others around the nation who have supported this investigation.

MCLEAN: Salt Lake City police say they would not have made an arrest were it not for the digital bread crumbs left behind by Lueck and the suspect. The suspect leading investigators to this home. Police questioned the property's owner, 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi as a person of interest. He was arrested on Friday morning at a nearby apartment complex.

BROWN: After an exhaustive week of investigation, we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of the body in the homicide of MacKenzie Lueck.

MCLEAN: The clues leading to Ayaji's arrest began at the Salt Lake City airport early last week. A 1:00 a.m. text Lueck sent to her parents confirming she had arrived back in Salt Lake City safely. CCTV showing her with her luggage near a baggage carousel.

Then, police say a Lyft ride dropping her off at 3:00 a.m. at Hatch Park in north Salt Lake.

BROWN: Investigation of MacKenzie's phone records show that her last communications were with the arrested person. Phone records show the location of their phones to be at hatch park within less than a minute of each other. This was the same time as MacKenzie's phone stopped receiving any further data or location services on June 17th at approximately 3:00 a.m.

MCLEAN: Thursday, police investigating other clues into Lueck's fate, a mattress and box spring given away a week ago and a tip from a neighbor who describe the suspect burning something in his backyard. Chief Brown composing himself as he described the call to MacKenzie's parents.

BROWN: This is one of the most difficult phone calls I've ever made. As both Greg and his wife Diana were devastated and heartbroken by this news.

MCLEAN: Tonight, questions remain as to how Lueck and Ajayi initially came into contact and what led to her horrific death.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN: According to his LinkedIn page, the suspect worked in IT for Dell and previously for Goldman Sachs. His neighbors say he ran an Airbnb out of his basement that was booked most nights. One person even called him the epitome of a great neighbor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Scott McLean reporting for us -- thank you.

Much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:57:30] BLITZER: We're getting major breaking news from the president of the United States. He just tweeted this from Japan. He is at the G-20 summit just waking up over there Saturday morning. Look at this: After some very important meetings including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea with President Moon. While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet with him at the border DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello.

Very significant overture from President Trump to Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea, saying while he is in Seoul, South Korea, that's only 30 miles from the demilitarized zone, the DMZ, separating North and South Korea, he is willing to go to the DMZ, wants to go to the DMZ and would be willing -- would be willing to meet with Chairman Kim. He says just to shake his hand and say hello.

If that happens, that would be a significant development since they've already had two meetings, the last one very unsuccessful in Vietnam. We're staying on top of this story, significant development. We'll see if the meeting between Chairman Kim and the president does take place at the DMZ.

Meanwhile, other news, our good friend, former CIA and NSA director, retired General Michael Hayden is back on CNN later tonight for the first time since suffering a stroke last November. In a new interview, General Hayden is talking to CNN's Don Lemon about what he experienced that day and his road to recovery. And he's speaking out about some of the momentous events that have taken taking place since his stroke.

Here's a -- here is a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": I just want to get your -- your reaction to the president saying he would take negative political information from a hostile foreign country.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: Yes. It's unbelievable. And I watched that and actually Twittered on that. The American president would do that? It's truly unbelievable.

LEMON: He said it would be ridiculous to tell the FBI.

HAYDEN: Yes, I know. And the FBI thinks, no, we want that to happen.

LEMON: Well, Christopher Wray said that the president shouldn't do it.

HAYDEN: Right.

LEMON: Should call the FBI.

HAYDEN: Right.

LEMON: He said Christopher Wray was wrong.

HAYDEN: Yes. It's a remarkable thing, isn't it?

LEMON: How do you think people in the intelligence community -- what does that do?

HAYDEN: It's awful. It's awful. Now, the next day they go to work and do the best they can. That, you know, that's really hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Don's full interview with General Hayden later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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