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CNN International: Biden Aims to Project Strength on World Stage; Zelenskyy Says We Must Be Uncompromising in Defending Democracy; Millions in Texas Lack Power Amid Record Heat; U.S. and Allies Vow to Send New Defensive Weapons to Ukraine; at Least 44 Killed in Monday's Russian Attacks Across Ukraine; Gaza Health Ministry Says Israeli Strike Kills 25 at a School Complex; CIA Director in Doha for Ceasefire-hostage Release Talks; Ceasefire Deal Faces New Hurdles as Israel Sets Conditions; Trump Mockingly Challenges Biden to Another Debate; Jens Stoltenberg Says Allies Are Stepping Up With Defense Investments; Nikki Haley Releases Delegates, Urges Them to Support Trump; How Airbnb Fails to Protect Guests From Hidden Cameras; England and Netherlands Ready for Semifinal Match at Euro 2024. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 08:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR OF "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Erica Hill. This is "CNN Newsroom." Just ahead, all eyes on Washington and U.S. President Joe Biden as NATO leaders are set to meet in the U.S. capital. We are live in Washington and London. Plus, lining up for fuel, millions of people in Texas facing record temperatures and ongoing electricity outages after Hurricane Beryl makes its way through the state. Plus, horror stories about hidden cameras at Airbnbs. A CNN Investigation uncovers how the company fails to protect guests. It is a report you will not want to miss.

We do begin this hour with the political test for the U.S. president on the global stage. With the NATO summit in full swing today, attention is firmly focused on Joe Biden, who is of course the host there in Washington. He is trying to show he can handle another four years in the White House and also working to reassure allies. You certainly heard that effort in Tuesday's welcoming speech.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Again and again, at critical moments, we chose unity over disunion, progress over retreat, freedom over tyranny, hope over fear. Again and again, we stood behind our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous transatlantic community. Here at this summit, we gather to reclaim NATO is ready and able to secure that vision today and well into the future.


(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: This is a critical week for the president's re-election bid. Mr. Biden will face a fresh test on Thursday when he holds a solo news conference at the end of the NATO Summit. In terms of today's NATO events, they are set to get underway shortly in Washington. Outgoing NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg expected to offer some brief remarks and we will be watching for those.

I want to bring in now my colleague, Nic Robertson. So Nic, in terms of what we saw on Tuesday, this big speech from President Biden, has it done much to reassure allies of the president's fitness moving into the November election and ultimately, for another four years, if he were able to win?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. Scripted on teleprompter, but delivered with verve, and that's what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear a president who could deliver NATO's message. The diplomats I'm talking to here in Washington are worried. They are worried less so about a President Biden's ability here to hold this and to make this a big event and make it stand out there. They are worried because the message that he is trying to deliver is getting lost in the discussion about his abilities.

You know, these are diplomats from countries who are for the most part here in Europe and they are worried about the threat, the real threat that Russia has. They're talking about upping their own defense spending. They're talking about trying to find ways to make sure that their countries understand the threat that's coming from Russia, that they need to upscale and tool up (ph) to be ready for it. And that's the message that they want to come out of Washington right now, because they want that to resonate domestically because it is going to mean budgets will be changed you for governments in some countries around Europe.

So, the fact that that gets buried because of the concerns domestically for a big part that are being expressed around President Biden's ability to run for the next election is a big deal. Of course, a lot of the leaders here really hoping that he or a Democrat would win because they're worried about Donald Trump and what that would mean for NATO. But specific now, it is the message on defense and deterrence and the threat from Russia that's getting drowned out; that's what they worry about.

HILL: Yeah, it certainly is and it's interesting, our reportings at the White House has basically said, look, we are done talking about this. We are done talking about the debate, about the impact the debate, but the reality is, to your point, Nic, it is overshadowing everything and part of that reason is because the White House has really bungled the communications on this, and had to retract and revisit different messages. With all of that as our backdrop, what are you watching for specifically during today's events? You have covered this so extensively for a number for years. Are there certain leaders who you think we could learn more from than others?

ROBERTSON: Look, everyone is going to listen to President Zelenskyy, for example. He came to the NATO Summit last year and there's a real feeling that he trod on a few toes that his demand and desire to get more equipment and he was proven right because they lost ground and Russia made some gains. That was just too strident (ph) and there was a sense of that this year in his speech.


So, let's see what else he has to say at the summit. But, it is very clear. Don't get distracted, by November, we need power for U.S. leadership. We need powerful leadership. And in that way, we can defeat Russia. So that message is very clear. I think let's look at what NATO has in its final communique, because that's going to be important -- what it says about the growing threat from Russia, what it says about the growing ties between Russia and China, what that means sort of on the global stage for the global threats and how big they are becoming. It is an important -- going to be an important readout of that.

And I think as well, see what Zelenskyy gets in terms of, he wants us (ph) better track towards joining NATO. He really wants to fast track, his being told that it will be irreversible, but that's also going to be countered with the need for democratic reforms inside of Ukraine. But I think overall, look, I stand back. I was at the Wales NATO Summit in 2014, when it was announced that they were going to up the GDP of all countries for 2 percent, the standard that is set out right now.

Yeah, everyone was talking about it, they kind of felt it. It feels so much more real, right now, the Russian threat and how NATO responds to it. This 75th anniversary is about unity, but we all know that that unity is really being tested. So, we'll be looking -- I'll be looking to see where that actually some of the cracks open up, if they do.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. Nic, really appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, of course, as Nic just noted, so much of this summit is in fact focused on Ukraine and on the future. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Washington of course and in remarks on Tuesday, once again, pushing for more military help, saying that he hopes the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine even if Donald Trump does return to the White House, the U.S. and other NATO allies are promising to send more air defense batteries. In Ukraine meantime, people are still reeling from Monday's ferocious Russian attacks.

Among the targets, a children's hospital in the capital of Kyiv, which of course was struck. Russia denying any responsibility. A U.N. assessment though says it is likely the result of a Russian missile. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Kyiv at this hour, at the site of that attack. Fred, when we look at where things stand today and his remarks in Washington on Tuesday, President Zelenskyy was really pushing for the OK to strike deeper into Russia. What would the impact of that be at this stage in the war?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's one of the things that the Russians keep saying, is that that would escalate things further. However the Ukrainians are saying, look, they're getting so much -- so many hits from Russian territory that they need to strike back Russia, deep inside Russian territory as well to be able to use some of the weapons that they're getting from the U.S. and from other allied nations to be able to do that, the kind of level, the battlefield, if you will, especially in the areas in the northeast of Ukraine.

The Ukrainians of course, are already using those ATACMS missiles that they've been given by the United States. They use those mostly however to strike in occupied territories, for instance, in Occupied Crimea, not really in territory that is inside Russia, in places like Krasnodar and other areas as well. And that's certainly something where the Ukrainians say they need to be able to do that in order for their own troops to be able to have a shot at actually pushing the Russians back. But of course, also in order to keep cities like this one safe as well.

And you're absolutely right, Erica, I am right now at the site of that missile impact on the children's hospital. Of course, the death toll here in Kyiv from the barrage of Russian strikes that took place on Monday now stands and 33, just in this city alone. The Ukrainians are saying, of course, on the one hand, it's being able to hit Russian territory with weapons that they get from the West. But of course, the big thing is also air defense and that's something that, of course, was very key to President Biden's speech last night, where he was saying that Ukraine is going to get five long-range air defense systems from the U.S. and the allied nations, four of them most probably being Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, one being one that is given by the Italians.

However, the U.S. also said -- President Biden also said and I think that's something that is actually really key, that dozens of short- and medium-range air defense weapons will also be coming Ukraine's way, and that's certainly something that is key. One of the things that we have to keep in mind, for instance, about the strike in the area that I'm in right now in this children's hospital is that the Ukrainians are saying that this was the work of a Russian cruise missile and certainly those medium-range air defense system is very capable of taking those cruise missiles out. The Russians -- the Ukrainians are saying they need this to keep their city safe.

But the other big caveat in all of this, Erica, is the fact that, right now, the Russians with their aerial campaign are also depleting a lot of Ukraine's critical infrastructure. You're talking about, for instance, electricity and heating. And of course, at some point, the winter will come in this nation once again and one of the things that the Ukrainians are really afraid of is that by then, their energy infrastructure could be depleted to a point where it could become very uncomfortable for people living here in this country, Erica.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. And just, Fred, could you just give us a sense, you have spent so much time both prior to the war, but since this war began in Ukraine reporting, especially in light of these recent attacks which came in the morning, how are people on the ground feeling at this point?


PLEITGEN: Yeah. I mean, they are still obviously very resilient. I think first of all, you're absolutely right. A lot of people here in Ukraine would not have thought that the war would take as long as it is taking and, of course, right now for a lot of them, there is no end in sight. At the same time, of course, the will to carry on and to defend against the Russians I think is something that definitely is still ever present. One of the things that you keep hearing from people on the ground in cities like this one, but also from frontline troops and from other folks in other areas of Ukraine, is they believe they simply don't have a choice because they believe that if they do stop defending their country, that then their country will cease to exist.

So in many ways, they are hoping obviously for more aid coming from the United States and from other nations. Certainly, right now, it is a very difficult point in time for the Ukrainians as the Russians, while not advancing, certainly still seem to have the initiative at least in some areas, but the Ukrainians do believe that they are going to have to see this thing through. All the while, they understand that a lot of this is going to be quite painful for them and for their country, Erica.

HILL: Yeah, continuing to be painful. Fred, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's take you to Washington now. CNN White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz joining me. There is so much focus, as we were just talking about with Fred and with Nic, Arlette, of course, on Ukraine, on how Ukraine will of course be front and center at this summit. What else are we hearing too from the White House in terms of -- I know they are feeling pretty good about the president's speech on teleprompter as Nic noted, but with a little (inaudible) as Nic pointed out, on Tuesday night. I would imagine that gives them a boost heading into the next couple of days.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it does, Erica. And one source said that the president's speech last night, essentially kicking off the NATO Summit, really went as planned and they are hoping that it will help them turn the page and move on to business as usual. It comes as there are still some serious doubts within the Democratic Party about President Biden's path forward in this race and it's something that could come up with world leaders in the coming days as they gather here in Washington, D.C.

Now, the president spoke forcefully at that speech, really reading off of a teleprompter, but also discussing an issue that is quite personal for him and something that he feels well-versed in. There weren't any major flubs in this speech, and so for Biden's team, they think that this is a good way to kick off this summit. But there will be a lot of attention paid to President Biden and his performance throughout the day and as this summit progresses. Today, the president will kick off this morning actually, by meeting with union leaders at the AFL-CIO. He'll be speaking to about 60 union chiefs from across the country. The Biden campaign still believes that union support could be key for Biden heading into November's election.

Then the president will attend a host of NATO events, welcoming leaders for a typical family photo, also participating in a working session and, then later this evening, hosting world leaders here at the White House for a leaders' dinner. The president also will be welcoming the new British prime minister to the White House a bit later this afternoon. But the White House is insisting that today is a day for the president to show he is commander-in-chief, really addressing a host of issues that are key at this NATO Summit, especially when it pertains to Ukraine. Biden has long warned of what could happen to Ukraine, what could happen to NATO if the former President Donald Trump were to secure a second term. So, a lot of his work today will be trying to shore up the support within the NATO alliance as they are looking beyond this November election.

HILL: Absolutely. And as the White House looks (inaudible), of course, a lot of people waiting to see what happens tomorrow at that solo news conference with the president. Arlette, appreciate it. Thank you.

Palestinian officials are calling it a heinous massacre against displaced citizens. At least 25 people were killed, dozens more injured in an Israeli attack on a school that was housing civilians near Khan Younis. That's according to the ministry of health in Gaza. Authorities say it is the fourth attack on or near schools sheltering displaced people in just the past four days. The IDF says it was targeting a terrorist accused of taking part in the October 7th attack.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in Istanbul at this hour. So Scott, what more do we know about this attack on that school complex?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, Erica, it's the fourth in four days. On Saturday, you had a school where 2000 people were sheltering, at least 16 people killed there. You had another one on Sunday where four people were killed, at least. In both those cases, Israel said that these were Hamas facilities. One of them they said was being used to manufacture weapons. And there's another school and UNRWA facility hit on Monday, and then the one that you mentioned that was near Khan Younis, 25 people at least killed, dozens more injured. That death toll may yet still rise and some of those are critically injured.

And the IDF says that it was targeting a Hamas figure, specifically one that took part in the October 7 massacre.


Of course, critics will point to this and question the proportionality of killing 25 people in order to get one bad guy. The IDF insists though that this was a precision or a precise munition, and that the school itself was not the target, but instead suggested but the actual target was some place nearby. The UNRWA chief though had a pretty scathing review of all of this, saying that this was a blatant disregard for international law and pleaded with the international community that this cannot be the new normal. Hamas was obviously also quite critical, saying that this was a continuation of the genocidal war against defenseless people. Erica?

HILL: Scott, as we look at that and as you walk us through what we are hearing about that attack, there's also the status of these ceasefire talks. CIA Director Bill Burns in Qatar today, where do things stand? Any hope of progress at this point?

MCLEAN: Yeah. So my colleague, Becky Anderson is getting some information from a diplomatic source that describes the status of things as cautious, but also hopeful. So, the CIA chief is going to be meeting this evening, Doha time, with his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts and also with if the prime minister of Qatar. What is unclear though, according to this diplomatic source, at this stage of the game is what Israel's position is on all of this, and let me explain why. Over the weekend, Hamas came out and said that they were willing to forego one of the conditions that they had previously said were non-negotiable, and that is that any ceasefire that's agreed to should be a permanent one.

And yet, a day later on Sunday, the Israeli prime minister came out with his own statement saying that any deal that is agreed to will need to give Israel the ability to continue on the war afterwards. Part of the problem here, Erica, is that part of Netanyahu's right- wing government, some of the far-right members of that coalition, they're not interested in the deal that's on the table. They would rather there not be a deal because they want to see this war through to the end. And so potentially, the signing of any ceasefire agreement could topple the Netanyahu government.

The other problem is that these ramped up attacks that were seeing in Gaza seems to be vanishing maybe the sliver of goodwill that perhaps was shown over the weekend. Hamas said that the evacuation orders for Gaza brought the negotiations back to, in their words, 0.0.

HILL: Scott, appreciate the reporting and the update on that. Thank you. We'll continue to watch it closely.

Still to come here this hour, Donald Trump back on the campaign trail, challenging Joe Biden once again to another debate. And also, upping his challenge for a round of golf, the latest on the race for the White House, stay with us.



HILL: After more than a week of laying low, while the attention was largely focused on Joe Biden's disastrous debate performance and the fallout, Donald Trump back on the campaign trail Tuesday, where he repeatedly mocked President Biden during a rally. We are going to bring you more on that in just a moment, but I do want to bring you right now to Washington, D.C., where outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is speaking. Let's listen in.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Allies also meet with the partners and this will be an historic summit because we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the most successful alliance in history. But we will do more than celebrations; we will also make important decisions for the future on deterrence and defense, on Ukraine, and on how to expand our partnerships, in particular with our partners in Asia-Pacific.

On the -- on Ukraine. I expect allies to agree a substantial package which will consist of five elements. One is a NATO command for Ukraine to provide security assistance and training, a long-term pledge to continue and sustain our support to Ukraine, new announcements of immediate military support including air defense, and new bilateral security agreements between NATO allies and Ukraine, and then finally, to step up what we do to ensure full interoperability between Ukrainian forces and NATO forces, including with the new training and relation (ph) center in Poland. All together, these five elements constitute a strong bridge for Ukraine to membership of the alliance, and I'm confident that allies will then reiterate their commitment to that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

On deterrence and defense, we will ensure that we have the forces in place to meet the requirements. And our new ambitious defense plans will only have 500,000 troops on high readiness in NATO and the highest in decades. We will also integrate a new ballistic defense site in Poland into our (inaudible) ballistic missile integrated system. And of course, the most important thing is that we now see that allies are stepping up when comes to defense investments.

We made the pledge ten years ago at the NATO Summit in 2014 that the allies should spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. At that time, only three allies spent 2 percent or more on defense. This year, 23 allies will spend 2 percent or more of GDP on defense and this makes a big difference and demonstrated allies are taking security extremely serious. Then (inaudible) is that we also then meet with the heads of state and government from our Asia-Pacific partners, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea, and the war in Ukraine demonstrate our -- how our security is interlinked because Iran, North Korea, and China are the main enablers of Russia's war against Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary General?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. First of all, congratulations on your presidential (inaudible).


HILL: So, you see outgoing secretary there, Jens Stoltenberg, outlining what will be the focus here, talking about the important decisions. They are really focusing in on a five-point plan for the defense of Ukraine, also expanding as you just heard there, NATO's partnership with allies in the Asia-Pacific region, noting that Iran, North Korea, and China are the main enablers in his words, of the war that Russia is waging against Europe. Talking about the increase in the number of nations now, who have pledged and are meeting that goal of 2 percent or more of their GDP, up to now 23 members of the alliance there.

But really this focus on defense for Ukraine -- Ukraine, of course, moving in to membership within NATO and talking about new support and operability, interoperability for NATO in the region. Noting 500,000 troops are on high readiness, the highest number in years he said, and also talking about integrating some new ballistic defense sites in Poland and frankly, saying how pleased he was with the allies who've been stepping up when it comes to these defense investments.

We will continue to follow all of these developments for you out of Washington, D.C., at this historic NATO Summit, which of course marks 75th anniversary of this alliance. This is going to come into play too, when we talk U.S. politics as we shift back to that focus now. The Republican National Convention here in the U.S. is less than a week away.


Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is telling all of her delegates that they should in fact support Donald Trump. She has released them from their obligations to vote for her. The convention will kick off in Milwaukee on Monday. Haley, interestingly, has not been invited. You may recall she was Trump's last standing rival in the Republican primaries. Here's a little bit more of what she had to say back in February.


NIKKI HALEY, (R-SC) FORMER GOVERNOR: We can't have someone who sits there and mocks our men and women who are trying to protect America.

There is no way that the American people are going to vote for a convicted criminal. They're not.

Got to acknowledge the fact he can't win a general election.


HILL: CNN's Alayna Treene who, of course, is reporting the Trump campaign, joining me now. So, when we look at the fact that we just saw, of course, a little replay of Nikki Haley a few months ago. She has released her delegates. Donald Trump back out on the campaign trail. We are waiting on this VP pick. They are moving full-steam ahead now into the convention after several quiet days.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: They are and I will note, so last night was Donald Trump's first public event at his rally in Miami last night since the debate, after laying low. And I want to share what I found, probably the most interesting of it was that Donald Trump, sure, he did talk about Joe Biden. He attacked Joe Biden, but he also really for the first time in his campaign, dug in against Vice President Kamala Harris. And what's notable about that is given all of the conversation around whether or not Joe Biden is going to step aside, and if, potentially that Harris could be his successor.

Now, I do want you to just take a listen to what he said exactly on the debate stage.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- can be said about crooked Joe Biden. You have to give him credit for one brilliant decision, probably the smartest decision he has ever made. He picked Kamala Harris as his Vice President.


No, he is brilliant because it was an insurance policy, maybe the best insurance policy I've ever seen, Marco. If Joe had picked someone even halfway confident, then they would have bounced him from office years ago (ph).


TREENE: Now, Erica, I can tell you that Donald Trump's team is clearly watching this very closely behind the scenes and waiting for how it will unfold. But I'm also told that they have spent millions of dollars on modeling, gathering data, spending it on ads, all with the single-purpose of going after Joe Biden. And with the calculus that Joe Biden will be at the top of the Democratic ticket. Now, they're not so sure and so, these shifts in attack, and attacks on Harris are very much notable.

And I can also tell you from my conversations with Trump's advisers behind the scenes that they want Joe Biden to be the nominee. They want him to be the one that Donald Trump is facing off against. Now whether they or not (ph) they say that publicly is an entirely different issue, but they are very much happy and delighted, I should say, with the fact that Joe Biden is continuing to dig in and saying that he has no plans to drop out of the race.

Now, quickly to just pivot a bit to the vice presidential stakes, one thing we didn't hear last night was Donald Trump make his VP announcement. Now, Senator Marco Rubio, a top contender was at that rally last night. He spoke before Donald Trump took the stage. He brought his whole family there with him and Trump remarked on it briefly. He said, look, I think there's a lot of press in this room, a lot of them are here because they are anticipating I'm going to announce who my running mate is. And he kind of taunted Rubio a little bit, but we didn't really hear much more on that.

And I am told that Monday, the start of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee is the deadline where they see as the latest he can announce who his VP pick will be. And of course, there is a speaking opportunity later that week where his vice presidential nominee is also supposed to speak. And so, we are all kind of waiting to see exactly what the timeline is for when Donald Trump will do this. But they do see Monday as kind of the firm deadline.

HILL: Yeah. We know this is always planned and the plan maybe only in Donald Trump's head, he may be the only one who knows it, but it is -- I do want to point out too, I think it's really important, he was intentionally mispronouncing the vice president's name at that event on Tuesday.

TREENE: Right. HILL: We know that he knows her name is Kamala Harris because on that leaked video that was acquired last week of him on the golf course, he pronounced her name correctly. So interesting to see as he plays to his audience there. Alayna, appreciate it. Thank you.

Stay with us. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." Just ahead here, as we continue our look at the race for the White House, we will take a focus on President Joe Biden, his re-election bid, of course, so many questions swirling about it here in the U.S. How is that impacting this broader test for him now on the world stage?


And then from arson to vandalism to failed bomb plots, Russia's so- called shadow war is now evolving. Just ahead, more on what's being described as a bold sabotage operation across NATO member states.


HILL: Our top story this hour, NATO and that focus squarely on U.S. President Joe Biden. NATO leaders, of course, getting down to some business right now in Washington, the military alliance is marking its 75th anniversary, putting Ukraine at the very top of its agenda this week. The gathering though is also a test for the U.S. President as he tries to show not just NATO's leaders and the world, but frankly, the United States, that he can handle another four years in the White House.

Our CNN Political and National Security Analyst, David Sanger, joining me now. David, as we look at all of this, we knew this was going to be a big test. Fairly positive remarks, I would say, from his opening remarks on Tuesday night. What are you watching for though? Is it really about Joe Biden and his performance, or is there more to this summit that is being in fact overshadowed by the many questions about Joe Biden's fitness for office?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There's a lot more, Erica. I was in the room yesterday as for that opening ceremony and it was quite remarkable, and pageantry aside, we were in the room, in the Mellon Auditorium, where the NATO Treaty had been signed in 1949. Harry Truman had stood right there as it was being signed and there had been 12 members. There are now 32 and the alliance has never been under a greater test, neither has President Biden.

I thought the president delivered a very solid speech, right up there with those that he gave in Poland and elsewhere in Europe in the days after the war broke out and then a year later, when of course he went to Ukraine and came back out through Eastern Europe. But, he was reading off a teleprompter, did so on a solid voice, the raspiness we heard last week was gone. So, I don't think that there was anything there that would raise any questions. We will know more after tomorrow when there's a lengthy press conference and he won't be reading off of a teleprompter obviously.

On the substance, it's more complex given of course, the fact that NATO is actively engaged in a war.

HILL: So then, how important -- right to that point, how important are the declarations that will come out of this summit?


And the fact that all of this is happening now in July, ahead of this very important election in the U.S., which could change U.S. participation frankly in NATO?

SANGER: Well, in the run-up to this, Erica, I had a chance to go talk to a good number of European leaders over the past month, who have been involved in NATO coming together to go deal with the Ukraine question. They're trying to do three things. The first is Trump-proof NATO a little bit, by moving much of the aid and coordination programming out of the Pentagon and into a new NATO-created European command. And that means that if President Trump came in and declared that he was going to cut off Ukraine's aid until they reach a negotiated agreement that he and Vladimir Putin were happy with, that it would be harder for him to go pull that off.

The second thing they're trying to do is wrestle with their own defense spending and you heard the president declare how great it was that 23 of the 32 members have now reached 2 percent of GDP on their defense spending. It has taken them a decade to get up to those numbers. The problem is that was set, Erica, at a time that the world was at peace. And if you are going to match up NATO's plans with what they would need to spend, they'd probably need to be spending double what they are spending today. And no one wants to actually deal with that right off.

And then of course, the third thing they are just doing is watching whether or not they think President Biden himself, even if re-elected, can keep up this kind of pace and these kind of rigors.

HILL: There is such a focus on Ukraine that there is, of course, also a focus on President Zelenskyy, who is very careful I think as he chose his words, as he often is, whenever he is asked about the upcoming election here, but continuing his push for more. How is that landing at this point in the war?

SANGER: Well, he's in a very fragile position right now. I mean, a year ago, you would have said, you know, this is stalemate. Today, you would say this is stalemate with advantage to the Russians. They have gained a bit of territory; their electronic warfare is working against American and other Western incoming missiles and drones. They're getting help from the Iranians, from the North Koreans, and microelectronics from China. So, you know, usual thing with Russia, they start slowly and poorly in a conflict and then they build up mass. And that's what's happening now.

And the question is, can the United States and its allies have the will and the resources to go match what is a Russia that is putting -- getting its act back together after a disastrous start in their invasion in February 2022?

HILL: David Sanger, always appreciate your insight, your expertise. Thank you.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

HILL: While Russia has dismissed the claims as unfounded, a senior NATO official though is accusing Moscow of engaging in a bold sabotage operation across NATO member states for more than six months. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. bases in Europe are on the highest alert for a decade, this key American and Polish supply hub, an hour from Ukraine, peppered with air defense. This Ukrainian cargo plane from Norway, a major part of NATO's weapons supplies to Kyiv. You're watching an odd paradox. The largest loudest arming effort of our times happening in near secrecy, fences obscuring what they can. The main reason the threat of Russian sabotage, persistent, real, growing across Europe along the supply lines to the Ukrainian border here.

PATON WALSH: While supply hubs like these have never really been more vital for Ukraine trying to hold the frontline, but a senior NATO official has told me of a six to nine months effort by Russia to sabotage NATO weapons supplies into Ukraine, fair bit of it going right down these tracks. Now, they described it as something that is against at times the point of production, against those making the decisions, against the storage of weapons, or even their actual delivery, saying the operation has been bold (ph).

PATON WALSH (voice-over): It too is something in the shadows with a huge potential for escalation. This is the moment first broadcast here, a vast saboteur operation in Poland gave itself away. Caught on camera is Maxim, a 24-year-old Ukrainian living here, recruited online by Russian agents who first just asked him to daub anti-war graffiti, filmed buying a lot of energy drinks, a move that led Polish agents to arrest him and 15 others because he dropped a receipt from here at a crime scene.


His Russian handler, Andriy, had begun asking for much more positioning cameras, some here overlooking these tracks to Ukraine, others where Poland trained Ukrainian troops, and for Maxim to commit arson. In all, it got him six years in jail.

PATON WALSH: Amazing how the Russians is recruiting people straight off Telegram who find themselves here in maximum security.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): He gave our producer a rare interview inside. We could not record, so an actor is voicing his words.

MAXIM, UKRAINIAN RECRUITED BY RUSSIAN AGENT: It was easy money. I needed money badly. I didn't think any of it could cause any harm. It seemed so insignificant. When Andriy told me to install cameras were Pols were training Ukrainian soldiers, that's when I knew it could be serious. It made me feel uneasy. That was when I decided I'd quit but I never got a chance. I got arrested the next day.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Put together, a suspected Russian sabotage is quite widespread with arson around Poland at an ammo depot and even a shopping center. Concerns voiced over a fire at a key Berlin metals factory. Czech officials have pointed at Russia over railway hacking. France arrested a pro-Russian separatist plotting to blow up a Paris hardware store. And last month, intelligence chiefs warned on a Swedish island close to Russia, there was an increased risk of sabotage of weapons bound for Ukraine.

But it gets fiercer here, right next to Russia, in Estonia. Russia's appetite to disrupt led them at this tense border crossing, one May night to sneak out in these thermal camera images and remove the buoys marking where Estonia ends and Russia begins, literally removing the border. Tank traps and razor wires speak of how bad it has got. Estonian GPS signals have been jammed. In the skies above, Russians film us filming them.

PATON WALSH: Your job is also to filter out any of the Russian agents who might be being used to come and do hybrid attacks, right?

EERIK PURGEL, HEAD OF ESTONIAN BORDER GUARD BUREAU, EAST PERFECTURE: All the time, 24/7 and trying to filter those people out. I think the Russians now are trying to see how we will react to different things.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Security officials say Russia was using amateurs here too, ten people arrested in February after an attack on the Estonian interior minister's car, fears the Ukraine war may in the future make Russians more aggressive still.

HARRYS PUUSEPP, ESTONIAN INTERNAL SECURITY SERVICE: We saw significant rise in their activity in last autumn. We have seen it moving towards physical attacks. Yes, they are at the moment were against -- more against properties. There are people who take part in the war against Ukraine. They have more experience; their mindset is more violent. They are perhaps not so patient anymore, trying to get results.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): A shadowy standoff where the unthinkable, in a matter of months, becomes reality.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Narva, Estonia.


HILL: Still to come here, police have recovered thousands of images from hidden cameras at Airbnbs across the U.S. Just ahead, a CNN Investigation on how Airbnb is working to keep that that information quiet.



HILL: A CNN Investigation into Airbnb has uncovered shocking evidence and frankly, horror stories of hidden cameras, and the reality that the company has not only failed to protect its guests from being recorded, but also worked to keep these complaints from going public. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah with this exclusive report.


CHLOE LEBRUMENT, FOUND HIDDEN CAMERA IN AN AIRBNB: It was just like holy crap. This is a camera.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But it didn't look like a camera. It was a phone charger. Chloe LeBrument's fiance had grabbed it from the bedroom wall of their Airbnb, thinking it was hers.

LEBRUMENT: The Airbnb host had called us on the phone and told us that we had taken a charger that did not belong to us, and that we needed to return it immediately.

LAH: At what point did you think this isn't really a charger?

LEBRUMENT: He became increasingly paranoid. When am I getting this charge back? I think it was like a light bulb moment that we all just went -- oh, my goodness, is this a hidden camera?

LAH (voice-over): Across North America, police have seized thousands of images from hidden cameras at Airbnb rentals, including people's most intimate moments.

LAH: What happened when you realized that there was a camera in that charger?

LEBRUMENT: It's so eerie and so creepy. Then your brain starts thinking, what did they see? What happened while we were in that room?

LAH (voice-over): In a small town in Maine, a couple found a hidden camera at their Airbnb. Listen to what the host told police.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you recorded that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took some screenshots.

LAH (voice-over): The host admits he set up a camera, hidden in this clock next to the bed, to record unsuspecting guests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there are -- there's a couple of couples playing around and getting changed, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So there's -- there's pictures of people that are in intimate situations?



LAH (voice-over): It's more than just a few reported cases, and Airbnb knows it's a problem. In this deposition reviewed by CNN, an Airbnb rep said 35,000 send customer support tickets about security cameras or recording devices had been documented over a decade. Airbnb told CNN a single complaint can involve multiple tickets. And a CNN Investigation found Airbnb not only fails to protect its guests; it works to keep complaints out of the courts and away from the public.

LAH: Why don't we know about this?

BELKIS PLATA, REPRESENTED CLIENTS WITH CLAIMS AGAINST AIRBNB: They're trying to keep it secretive. And if everyone knew what was happening, they would not be using their website.

SHANNON SCHOTT, REPRESENTED CLIENTS WITH CLAIMS AGAINST AIRBNB: Airbnb wants to wash their hands clean when they have a host who does something illegal or suspicious. They want to say we are simply a website; we are not responsible for this host. We are not responsible for this property.

LAH (voice-over): Florida attorneys Belkis Plata and Shannon Schott say trying to sue Airbnb if something goes wrong is extremely difficult. It begins when you sign up on Airbnb's website and click "Agree" to its terms of service. You're agreeing to assume all risk.

PLATA: The person going to rent the property agrees that if something happens while they're staying at this accommodation, they're actually prohibited from suing Airbnb. They must go a different route, which is a binding arbitration. It's a way to strong arm someone.

LAH: Is this about controlling publicity?

SCHOTT: 100 percent.

PLATA: Absolutely.

LAH (voice-over): Once they've settled a claim, Airbnb has required guests to sign confidentiality agreements which CNN obtained, that keep some details of legal cases private.

PLATA: For you to get the check, you must sign the piece of paper, so that no one will know this will be swept under the rug.

LAH (voice-over): That's exactly what happened to this man.

LAH: How did you feel signing that confidentiality agreement?


LAH (voice-over): This man asked us not to show his face and we've masked his voice. He and his wife were recorded during a romantic getaway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had intimate footage of my wife and I. The sexual union is sacred. It felt like an extreme violation of our marriage. It's devastating. It's a travesty.

LAH (voice-over): In this case and others, CNN found that Airbnb does not contact law enforcement once hidden cameras are discovered, even if children are involved.


Recording someone without their consent is illegal in every state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people are out sharing their stories of how they were victimized through the services of Airbnb, nobody is going to want to trust them.

LAH (voice-over): This man only found out he and his wife were recorded because police called him months later after another guest found the camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they explained that every single room in the house had cameras.

LAH: Every room?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cameras were hidden in smoke detectors.

LAH: Part of the challenge is that the technology has gotten so advanced, these cameras so small that you can't even see them. In this one bedroom, we have put multiple cameras all around and they're hidden in plain sight. This one is in the smoke alarm, an alarm clock, and even an outlet, and some of them like this one, I can control remotely on my phone and even live stream.

What would you like to tell Airbnb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By not doing their due diligence, they're harming families. And they're selfishly making a lot of money while doing that.

LAH (voice-over): Airbnb declined an interview for this story, but told CNN incidents of hidden cameras are exceptionally rare. And when we do receive an allegation, we take appropriate swift action, which could include removing hosts and listings. Airbnb's trust and safety policies lead the vacation rental industry.


LAH (on camera): After CNN began reporting this story, Airbnb created a new policy that indoor cameras are not allowed inside Airbnbs at all. But as you just saw, it has long been against Airbnb rules that cameras be allowed inside bedrooms. And as you just saw, that didn't stop some hosts from doing it anyway.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

HILL: And we'll be right back.


HILL: The European Football Championship final will be set later today. England set to face off against The Netherlands in the last semifinal match that, of course, happens in just a few hours. Whoever wins, they are going to be facing a very impressive Spanish team in the final. And the fans are ready on both sides here, for this match. CNN's Sebastian Shukla is in Dortmund, Germany, the site for tonight's game. I see a sea of orange behind you, so clearly a lot of Dutch fans there, but I know they are not the only fans in town.

SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Erica, you may actually be mistaken because we've been here about an hour now and I think this may be an extension or a new Dutch province somewhere in Germany because it -- there is a sea of orange, absolutely, everywhere that you look. We've been here for an hour as I say, and so far, I think I've counted maybe 50 England shirts all together. Behind me, you can see into that friends -- into the friends plus the fan zone over there, is the world's biggest Dutch party which is going on right now, all in anticipation of the game later this evening.

As for the England fans, I guess, maybe they're potentially finding somewhere else for a quiet pint somewhere before.


The police have been on the tannoy here, announcing and telling everybody if they can to relocate to a different fan park closer to the stadium. We'll have to wait and see there about the game tonight, Erica. It's certainly shaping got to be an epic encounter, especially if the atmosphere continues to bubble the way it is right now. We saw an incredible game last night in Munich, but it was a little bit more of a sedate affair in the city in the run-up to it. That seems to be completely and utterly the opposite here. Hopefully, that will mean that what is translating behind me goes on to the pitch. Erica?

HILL: All right. We'll be watching for it. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining me this hour on "CNN Newsroom." I'm Erica Hill. "Connect The World" with Becky Anderson is up next.