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Trump: E.U. "Is A Foe"; Air Force One On Its Way To Helsinki For Putin Summit; Interview With Virginia Senator Mark Warner; Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Aired 12n-1p

Aired July 15, 2018 - 12:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Finland face-off. President Trump heads to Helsinki to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may come out with something very exceptional.

TAPPER: With the eyes of the world on the summit, will it be a meeting of friends or foes? We're here live in Helsinki.

Plus, bombshell indictments. The special counsel charges 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking Democrats in 2016.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable.

TAPPER: President Trump blames Obama for letting it happen, but will he also blame Putin?

TRUMP: I don't think you'll have any, gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.

TAPPER: Top intelligence committee Democrat, Senator Mark Warner will join us next.

And Diplomatic disruption. President Trump stirs up trouble in Britain. And muscles more money out of NATO partners.

TRUMP: Do you think Putin is happy about that? I don't think so.

But will the president stand up to Russia? We'll ask Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, next.


TAPPER: We are live from Helsinki, Finland, and you're watching a special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. I am Jake Tapper.

Right now President Trump is on his way here. He took off about an hour ago from Scotland. Behind me you can see Finland's presidential palace. That's the site of tomorrow's summit between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The stakes for this one on one summit rose dramatically on Friday after the special counsel's investigation charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

But in a brand new interview President Trump set a low bar for success saying he has low expectations for the summit. In that same interview with CBS the president also said this --


TRUMP: I think we have a lot foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union but they're a foe.

Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they're a foe.

But that doesn't mean they're bad. It doesn't mean anything.


TAPPER: Just moments ago the president of the European Union directly responding to President Trump said -- quote -- "America and the E.U. are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."

As we speak Air Force One is headed here to Helsinki. CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me now.

Jeff, what do we know about the president's goals as he heads into the summit?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, because of the fact that the summit -- I mean, it is a major deal, of course, the third time he's meeting Vladimir Putin, but despite all of the high intensity we know very little actually about this jaded goals.

White House officials have been extraordinarily tight lipped about what the agenda is. We still do not know if the president will be meeting alone with Vladimir Putin or if he'll have aides and others in with him.

But we do know the president wants to talk about Syria of course. He wants to talk about nuclear weapons, nuclear engagement.

And, of course, Jake, despite what he hopes would be the agenda those indictments as you said on Friday hang over this summit. There is no question that the Russian meddling investigation is going to be front and center in this.

Will the president confront Vladimir Putin? Knowing everything we know there are no signs that he will confront Vladimir Putin. We have not seen an indication of that but that certainly will loom larger. Now after the president really spent the last week or so insulting allies and embarrassing them in some degrees he is coming here for what he said will be the easiest meeting of all. Jake, the only reason that could be true is if the president decides to not bring up or confront the president on election meddling. We'll see if he does.

But the agenda shockingly less than 24 hours before the summit is still not finalized or certainly set in ink, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

I would like to note that we invited the White House to join us this morning to offer their perspective on this historic summit. The White House confirmed that we would be able to interview their national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton. We arranged our show and our schedules and our crews and trucks accordingly.

And then the White House cancelled the interview for -- quote -- "bad behavior." What was the - quote -- "disrespect" that the White House took issue with? Well, nine minutes after President Trump attacks CNN unprompted during a press conference in the U.K. our correspondent tried to ask the president a question. Take a listen.


TRUMP: John Roberts -- go ahead, John.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can I ask you a question, sir, since you attacked CNN?

TRUMP: CNN is fake news.

ACOSTA: Well, sir, if you call us fake new, can you take a question?

TRUMP: I don't take questions from CNN. CNN is fake new. I don't take questions from CNN.

John Roberts of FOX.

ACOSTA: If you continue to attack us, we should be able to ask you a question.

TRUMP: Let's go to a real network. John, let's go.

ACOSTA: Well, we're a real network, too, sir.


TAPPER: We are told that Ambassador Bolton was prepared to do the interview and we invite him to join us at any time.


I want to bring in now Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. He's the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He joins us now live.

Senator, thanks so much.

I want to play for you what President Trump said this morning about those 12 Russian military --

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Jake -- Jake, first of all -- Jake, let's --

TAPPER: Yes. Go ahead.

WARNER: Well, Jake, let me just make clear, I'm not -- I'm not afraid to come on CNN.

So, even if the White House doesn't want to send someone, I'm happy to be on your show.

TAPPER: We appreciate it, sir.

I want to play for you what President Trump said this morning about those 12 Russian military officials who were indicted. Let's take a listen.


TRUMP: This was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.

I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses. And they were able to be hacked.

But I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans too. But -- and this may be wrong, but they had much stronger defenses.


TAPPER: Now, Senator Warner, obviously, the Russians are responsible for Russian actions.

But looking at the indictment and everything we know now about the Russian election interference, in retrospect, shouldn't President Obama and his administration have done much more?

WARNER: Jake, our committee will lay out what the Obama administration and the FBI should have done or shouldn't have done shortly. But the basic facts remain.

The reason why we have difficult relations with Russia is not because of the Mueller probe, but because Russia intervened in our elections. They hacked into the Democratic National Committee, hacked into Hillary Clinton's team.

They interfered in over 20 states' electoral systems. They used social media in ways that were unprecedented. This was a full-on assault on our democratic system. And, matter of fact, as the intelligence community assessment made and our committee reaffirmed, they did it with the intent of helping Trump and hurting Clinton.

That's the reason why we have difficult relations with Russia. And I'm stunned that this president will not call out Vladimir Putin or Russia's bad behavior.

TAPPER: Well, with all due respect, sir, you didn't answer my question, which is, President Obama did not do enough to stop this while it was going on in 2016.

I think that seems obvious to anybody reading the indictments or reading the newspaper for the last two years. Do you disagree?

WARNER: I think that the FBI could have done more.

As a matter of fact, when the October 7th letter came out where the Obama administration did point out the threat of Russian interference, strangely enough, it was the exact same day that both the Podesta e- mails were hacked and released, and it was the same day of the famous so-called Bush "Hollywood" tapes.

TAPPER: President Trump was asked this morning by CBS if he would consider pushing for the extradition of these 12 Russian military intelligence officials accused of hacking and interfering in the election. Take a listen to his response.


TRUMP: I hadn't thought of that, but, certainly, I will be asking about it.

But, again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.


TAPPER: So, he says he hadn't thought about requesting the extradition of these 12 officials.

What do you want President Trump to do when he meets with Vladimir Putin in the building behind me tomorrow?

WARNER: Listen, I don't think Putin will probably deliver those 12 Russian spies, but I sure as heck think the president of the United States ought to ask that these Russian spies are actually released to the American government for American legal process to continue.

They attacked our government. This is -- and, again, let's take the Mueller investigation in full, over 30 indictments, five guilty pleas. And we still have whole questions around obstruction of justice, and the various people who were part of the Trump campaign who are now cooperating with the government to see whether there was absolutely collusion. These are still questions that Mr. Mueller's investigation have to answer. And I just wish the one thing the president would stop doing was stop calling this a witch-hunt. This has been a very productive investigation that has put further proof to the facts around the Russian intervention in our elections.

TAPPER: But just to ask you, do you have any hesitation criticizing President Trump while he's overseas, given the old adage that politics should stop at the water's edge?

WARNER: Listen, I'm saying to Mr. Trump and to his White House, let's make sure that we put more people in that meeting with Vladimir Putin, a trained KGB agent.

We need to make sure that the Americans and, for that matter, the world gets the straight story of what happens in that meeting.

But let's also examine the fact this is a president throughout the last week who has basically treated our allies like adversaries in ways that were, I believe, totally inappropriate, and continues to treat our adversaries -- tries to act like they are -- like they are friends.


I don't believe that is in the best interest of making America safer.

TAPPER: You raised president behavior -- President Trump's behavior at the NATO summit.

The NATO secretary-general has said that President Trump has had success in pushing U.S. allies to spend more on defense, which has long been a charge of U.S. presidents.

Take a listen to this exchange.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.

TRUMP: Why was that last year?

STOLTENBERG: It's also because of your leadership, because there is a clear message.

TRUMP: They won't write that.

STOLTENBERG: No, I have said it before. And -- but the thing is that it really has -- your message is having an impact.


TAPPER: That's the U.N. secretary general, Stoltenberg, crediting President Trump with getting U.S. allies to chip in more. Isn't it fair to say that his strategy here is working?

WARNER: Well, Jake, clearly, I think other NATO company -- countries should chip in more. That's been a goal of American through Democratic and Republican administrations for decades.

But, at the end of the day, we will see if that actually happens. This president has a tendency to make bold statements after meetings, and there may or may not be results afterwards.

Let's go back to the president's photo-op opportunity with Kim Jong- un. After that meeting, he said -- if I remember correctly, he tweeted that Americans can sleep soundly because North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.

Well, we have clearly seen that that declaration was not true in terms of the follow-up meetings and in terms of our own intelligence assessments that North Korea has done virtually nothing to actually denuclearize.

So, the proof will be in the pudding. Let's see if these European countries actually step up and spend more. I would be very -- I would be pleasantly surprised if that proves to be the case.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, thanks so much for your time, as always.

And even after Friday's indictments Republican senator Rand Paul says, he still thinks there's no need for a special counsel. We'll talk about that next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper in Helsinki, Finland.

And we are live from Allas Sea Pool in Helsinki. You can see the Presidential Palace behind me. That's where tomorrow's historic U.S.- Russia summit will take place. The meeting is causing some anxiety among some Republicans, fears that President Trump might give too much away or not be tough enough.

But Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky says that President Trump doing the right thing by meeting with Putin face to face.

Senator Paul -- thanks so much for joining us, as always.

Just 48 hours ago the U.S. government, the Trump administration said that top Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a massive hack to affect the U.S. election. How much do you want President Trump to try to hold Putin accountable for that?

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think really we mistake our response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They are another country. They are going to spy on us.

The do spy on us. They are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same.

Doug Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the U.S. interfered in other country's elections. So we all do it.

TAPPER: It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election and it might sound to some viewers that you're offering that statement as an excuse for what the Russians did.

PAUL: No, what I would say it's not morally equivalent but I think in their mind it is. And I think it's important to know in your adversary's mind the way they perceive things.

I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections. They were very -- one of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the U.S. in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's morally equivalent --


TAPPER: But certainly Senator Paul, the United States has never --

PAUL: I'm not saying it's justified -- yes, go on.

TAPPER: -- done -- the United States has never done what Russia did.

Yes. Go on, I'm sorry.

PAUL: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying -- yes, I'm not saying they're equivalent or morally equivalent but I am saying that this is the way the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy or better reactions, we have to know their response.

But it's not just interference in elections that I think has caused this nationalism in Russia. Also, I think part of the reason is, we promised them when James Baker at the end when Germany reunified, we promised them that we wouldn't go one inch eastward of Germany with NATO. And we've crept up on the borders.

We still have neo-cons in both parties who want Ukraine and Georgia to be a NATO. That's very, very provocative and it has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia.

TAPPER: I want to get to NATO in a second but just to underline this point about what the United States should do in response to the Russian election interference. In a new interview just this morning, President Trump said he -- quote -- "hadn't thought of asking Putin to extradite those 12 Russian military intelligence officers."

Do you think President Trump should ask for the extradition when they meet tomorrow? PAUL: I think it would be a moot point. I don't think Russia is sending anyone back over here for trial. The same way we wouldn't send anybody over there for trial.

No country with any sovereignty or sense of sovereignty is sending anybody to another country for trial. I think we have to protect ourselves.

So because we waste time saying, well, Putin needs to admit this and apologize, he's not going to admit that he did it. And we can't take with -- on face value anything they tell us.

We have to assume and if we have proof that they did it, which it sounds like we did, we should now spend our time protecting ourself instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the President.

If the President was involved by all means put the information forward. There is no evidence so far of the President's involvement at all in this.


So I think we need to be done with this so we can start actually protecting our elections from foreign countries.

TAPPER: Well, you just called this a witch hunt but if it were not for this probe, if it were not for Robert Mueller, the American people would not know about the Russian military intelligence officers who are hacking American e-mails, stealing voter information, releasing stolen information to influence the election. I'm not sure how you can call it a witch hunt. Isn't it a good thing this probe has continued?

PAUL: Yes. I would say that this is a Department of Justice investigation and that would still have ensued in either way. I wish President Obama had been more aggressive in pursuing it during President Obama's term. But I think the Department of Justice can get to the bottom of this without sort of a special counsel.

I think the Mueller investigation, the problem with special counsels is exactly what happened in the Starr investigation and that is that they run far afield of it.

But I do think the Department of Justice would have investigated the Russians and I think indicting these officers that were hacking the elections is a good thing.

TAPPER: This week in the Senate -- I want to talk about NATO now because you brought it up. This week the Senate voted 97-2 in favor of a motion that supports the NATO alliance. This was a nonbinding motion expressing the Senate's support for NATO, calling on negotiators to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO.

You were one of the two in the 97-2. You voted against it. There is consensus that NATO has served an essential role in stabilizing Europe which ultimately has prevented the United States to need to take military action and to also check Russian aggression.

You talked about how NATO has moved closer and closer towards the Russian border. A lot of experts say that's because Russia has continued to expand and take territory in Ukraine, in Crimea, in Georgia. Do you support NATO?

PAUL: I think it's sort of chicken and the egg. Which happens first -- either NATO's expansion or Russia pushing back or vice-versa.

I will say that when you look at NATO, what I voted against was an ironclad commitment to defend any nation in NATO and they also said that they want an open door policy in NATO to admit any aspirant. So I think that is very foolhardy to say we're going to defend any country in the world that wants to be a NATO and we're inviting any country that meets the requirements to come into NATO.

That is a recipe for disaster. NATO has had historic achievements and has been part of, you know, what was deterrence to Russia.

But the interesting thing now is that European forces are 13 times bigger than Russian forces. European plus U.S. forces are probably 30 times bigger than Russia forces. So right now there's a disproportionate advantage to the west with NATO.

I'm not saying we disband NATO but I don't think we should have an open door policy.

TAPPER: I just think there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised to hear a sitting United States senator describe Russia versus NATO in terms of confrontation and expansion as a chicken or egg proposition given the fact that NATO protects sovereign countries while allowing them to remain sovereign while Russia invades other countries and takes over those countries. I don't think it's chicken or the egg.

PAUL: Right. Well, what I would say is that there were people -- probably the greatest diplomat of the last country was -- of the last century was George Kennan. And he did predict as NATO expanded that you would incite militaristic tendencies and nationalism in Russia.

I'm not justifying Russia's aggression in Ukraine or in Georgia. I'm not saying they are equivalent. I'm saying though that the provocation of pushing NATO forward after we promised -- James Baker promised Gorbachev in 1990 when Germany unified that we would not go -- the west would not go one inch beyond Germany. And yet a couple of years later, under the Clinton administration we kept pushing, pushing, pushing.

And so for every action that we put out there, there is a reaction. And I think we need to think this through. And it's not a moral equivalency.

It's not justifying Russia's behavior. But it is realizing that from Russia's perspective, they see NATO expansion as a threat and that part of their militarism, part of their nationalism may be inherent to the tides of the current century there. But it's also in reaction to policy from the west as well.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, we thank you for your time as always, sir. Good to see you.

PAUL: Thank you.

TAPPER: How is the Russian president approaching tomorrow's summit? And what it's like to be in the room face to face with Vladimir Putin? We'll talk to someone who has been there, next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to the special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper live in Helsinki, in Finland.

Donald Trump is the fourth U.S. president to face off with Vladimir Putin who first took office on New Year's day 2000. Let's bring in two Russian born journalists who have written extensively about Putin and the Putin era.

Masha Gessen spent 20 years covering Russian politics as a reporter in Moscow and wrote a biography of Putin.

Julia Ioffe is also a former Moscow based correspondent who has been writing about Russian politics for more than a decade.

Masha, let me start with you. My first question is in your latest piece "Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the Triumph of Nothing Over Everyone." You write -- quote -- "In Russia in only thing that matters about the summit is the bare fact of it. Is the hollow power gesture taken to its world-stage extreme."


What do you think is Putin's mind-set heading into this? He just is declaring victory because he's getting the summit to -- to begin with?


I mean, this is a huge change in American policy toward Russia -- or apparently a huge change -- over the last four or five years.

He is getting the meeting with no agenda, no clear items that the American president is going in with. And he gets to demonstrate to Russia that he has reestablished the bipolar world that he has been promising.

TAPPER: And, Julia, President Trump seems to be ambivalent about what might be able to come out of this summit.

Here's what he had to say an interview with CBS aired this morning. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing bad is going to come out of it. And maybe some good will come out.

But I go in with low expectations. I'm not going in with high expectations. I don't -- I don't really -- I can't tell you what's going to happen, but I can tell you what I will be asking for. And we will see if something comes of it.


TAPPER: Julia, what do you make of that argument, nothing bad could come out of this?

JULIA IOFFE, "THE ATLANTIC": I think a lot of bad has already happened.

I mean, the fact that this meeting is still happening three days after a sweeping indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers, military intelligence officers, who laid -- an indictment that laid out in great detail the way the Russian government meddled in our election.

President Obama canceled a meeting with President Putin after putting invaded Ukraine, which most Americans, I think, don't care about. This is effectively an invasion of the U.S., and this meeting is still happening for no clear reason.

And, for Putin, who is a very zero sum kind of guy, he is right now watching the World Cup in Moscow, watching his triumph kind of come together, and then he's going to go from one victory to the next, Trump, having kind of beaten NATO up all week, coming and meeting with him as equals, with no note takers, no advisers, for no reason whatsoever, because Trump wanted it.

And that already hands Putin a win. And because Putin is such a zero sum guy, handing him a win means it's our loss. There is no win-win scenario that -- that exists in Putin's mind.

TAPPER: And, Masha, just moments ago, President Trump put out a series of tweets about the summit.

One particular part of it caught my eye.

He wrote -- quote -- "Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people."

As a Russian-born journalist who's covered Russia for years -- and, obviously, journalists in Russia, especially those who cover the Kremlin and Putin critically, have a way of ending up either in jail or dead.

What do you make of President Trump calling journalists the enemy of the people right before a summit with Putin?

GESSEN: I think this is very much what he thinks. I think this also reflects one of the reasons that he is so eager to

have this meeting. And it is basically, his affinity for Putin is sincere. Putin is the guy, I think, that he sees on the world stage who is most like him. They think alike.

I think they will have a wonderful time. And that's really what I'm afraid of, is that they're going to emerge from this meeting sort of both glowing, Trump talking about what great friends they are, what a wonderful understanding they have.

And that, especially in stark contrast to what we have been witnessing over the last few days in regards to NATO and America's allies in the West, is really a frightening prospect.

TAPPER: Julia, I want to show us some pictures here of President Putin meeting in 2007 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She has a well-known fear of dogs. Putin brought his dog to the meeting. You can see in the pictures she is obviously very uncomfortable, if not scared.

Do you expect President Putin will pull something similarly to exert his dominance in his meeting with President Trump?

IOFFE: I think Putin is too smart for that. He knows how to work people.

He's -- I mean, he's a pro. He was a pro going into it. He has certainly learned on the job. I think he knows that, with our president, what works is flattery. The same way that Donald Trump said he wants Boris Johnson to be the prime minister of the United Kingdom, but -- because he said nice things about Donald Trump, that's what works with him.

And I think Trump is going to come out of there feeling lovely and glowing that this very tough guy, the president of the other major nuclear power, has showered him with praises, called him a genius, or maybe a very stable genius. And I think that's going to go a long way with Trump.

TAPPER: And, Masha, what's your biggest concern?

What might President Trump give away, in your view, in a summit like this with President Putin that could really cause problems for the world?

GESSEN: Look, first of all, my biggest concern is that we have two leaders who are habitual liars who are meeting with no note takers, and who are going to come out an tell us what happened in the meeting at a press conference, and where there's no way to check what actually happened.


Now, this normally wouldn't be an issue, but these are two public servants, or at least one of them is still a democratically elected president of the United States, who ought to be accountable. And we ought to have an accurate record of what happens in this meeting, which we're never going to have.

Now, in terms of what I'm afraid he might say when he actually emerges, I -- he might say something that legitimizes the Russian occupation of Crimea. He may say something and he may actually negotiate with Putin a sort of understanding on the kind of influence that Russia exerts and what Russia thinks of as its immediate sphere of influence.

Putin very much wants to sort of negotiate a new post-World War II world in which both countries have spheres of influence. And I think that makes an instinctual kind of sense to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: All right, thanks to both Masha Gessen and Julia Ioffe.

Appreciate it.

More tough talk from President Trump as he jets to Helsinki to meet with Vladimir Putin. He's calling the European Union, as well as others, a foe.

Stay with us.




TRUMP: I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.

Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly. They're a foe. But that doesn't mean they're bad. It doesn't mean anything.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper in Helsinki.

That was President Trump in an interview that aired this morning on CBS comparing the European Union to Russia and China in terms of all three of them being foes of the United States.

My panel is back with me.

And, David Gergen, I want to start with you.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Union, tweeted -- one assumes in response to that interview -- saying: "America and the E.U., European Union, are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."


GERGEN: He really sort of poked him, doesn't he, take a crack at him?


GERGEN: Look, I -- in defense of President Trump, he was talking about trade when he -- but when you ask for the United States, who are your foe -- who are the foes of your country, the first thing that pops in your head is Europe, we're in a very strange, upside-down world.

I don't know any president in the last 100 years who sort of would make that kind of argument. So I -- and I think that it's not surprising that the Europeans would snap back at it.

In the play "Hamilton," Burr tells Hamilton -- give him -- talk less, smile more.


GERGEN: The president might want to listen to that.

TAPPER: What do you make of this? What are you hearing from European allies, who are already concerned about President Trump's undermining, in their view, of NATO and the E.U. and embrace of Vladimir Putin and Russia?

GLASSER: Well, that's right.

It plays exactly into the worst-case scenario that Europeans and many people in Washington were thinking this week, the idea that the president of the United States would come to Europe, spend his time attacking America's allies, while going on to have a friendly summit with someone who is an adversary.

And by the way, the European Union is not a foe, even on trade. They're America's largest trading partners. And the idea that Trump sees enemies behind every tree and under every stone, it's very interesting, to me, the emergence of Donald Tusk, European bureaucrat, technocrat, as this sort of like tweet troller in chief of the president.

A few weeks ago, during the G7, when Trump was also attacking allies like Justin Trudeau, it was Tusk here who tweeted back then as well, also tweaking at the president. I believe he tweeted out, with friends like these, dot, dot, dot, you know?


TAPPER: Right.

Something else President Trump did this morning that I -- caught my eye, was President Trump, in a tweetstorm, talking about his trip called the news media -- quote -- "much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people." Mr. Kirby, on the eve of a summit with Vladimir Putin, who thinks that his news media are the enemy of his people, and, in fact, is alleged to respond by having many of them murdered, what does a statement like that do?

KIRBY: Well, yes.

We would normally just get so immune to this, because we've heard him say this all the time. But you're exactly right, Jake. You got to put this in context. He is going to be with Vladimir Putin tomorrow, who really does believe a free press is an enemy of him and his system and the people.

And I think it's just music to Putin's ears now. It's just one more indication -- to piggyback on what Susan was saying, it just more indication of how he's kowtowing to Putin's talking points throughout this whole process and making it very, very comfortable for Vladimir Putin tomorrow.


MUDD: Yes.

I think if you look at what the president state over the first 18 months of his administration, you see the comments about the European Union, and contrast those to positive comments.

Who does he make positive comments about? That's people in the Philippines. As you know, that's a vicious regime that is now in the Philippines. The Turkish leadership, the Egyptian leadership, which is -- which has transitioned into virtually a military dictatorship.

You look at Xi in China, and you look at Putin. They have characteristics in common. They sideline political opponents and they attack the press.

I think the president, when he characterizes himself as a genius, is really saying, I believe I should have an authoritarian hand in running government, because when you have the press or Democrats opposing me, they're opposing a genius. I want what Vladimir Putin has. That's how I read this.

TAPPER: What do you think?

GERGEN: Well, I want to -- I want you change the subject.

On the Twitter, I just -- I'm surprised that the morning of, the day of, he's going into the most important meeting he has had of his presidency, and he's spending a lot of time on Twitter and he's playing golf.

You know, most presidents, even presidents who are real pros, spend a lot of time thinking through the 10 or 12 ways a conversation might go, and what do you do if he does this or if he does that, and you sort of do play it out by chess.


To do it impromptu like this, and sort of say and it blow it off, and say, well, I think I will just go play golf, is not -- let's put it this way. It's abnormal.

TAPPER: What is Putin looking for beyond just the fact of this summit? What does he want from President Trump?

GLASSER: Well, you have asked a great question.

I think I, as you pointed out, the fact of the meeting in some ways, as someone put it to me, is the deliverable. Putin wanted to be welcomed back into the international community after his 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea.

There are several other potential issues that could be on the table, whether it is sanctions for that incursion into Ukraine. Syria obviously is something both sides have said they will talk about. The United States is present there. Russia is present there, and acting in concert with Iran and with the Syrian government. So that's an area of conversation.

Arms control, there's a serious issue, which is, the New START arms control treaty that was negotiated by President Obama is set to expire in 2021. The serious Russia experts, they would like to see some real conversation beginning with Russia and President Putin about extending that treaty.

But I think they fear that, if President Trump hears that it was negotiated by President Obama, that's the end of the New START treaty.

TAPPER: And, John, a lot of people, a lot of Democrats, and even a couple Republicans in Washington said after the indictments on Friday, after 12 Russian military intelligence officials were accused by the Trump administration, the Justice Department, of interfering in the election, a cyber-attack on the United States just two years ago, President Trump should have canceled the meeting.

Obviously, he wasn't going to do that. But it is kind of stunning, just taking a step back. We were attacked, as Americans. We were attacked by the Russians in 2016. And President Trump is going to, in a sense, reward Vladimir Putin.

KIRBY: Potentially, yes, if -- if, unless, I should say, he actually goes into this meeting and holds Vladimir Putin to task for it and threatens actual consequences for any election interference and cyber- attacks going forward, if he can be strong in that.

He could actually use the indictment to his advantage, if he wants to get tough on Putin. I don't see that happening.

I agree. I think Putin is looking for some sort of way to show the world that the United States and Russia are cooperating and trying to move forward in a more friendly way, because that also helps Putin's secondary motive, in my view, which is to undermine Western democracies and undermine the international organizations, like NATO, like the E.U., that the United States has been such a leader of.

TAPPER: And -- but not only is he doing the summit. A year ago -- let's put up that tweet from a year ago this month -- President Trump, after a pull-aside with Vladimir Putin, wrote -- quote -- "Putin I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber-security unit, so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded."

That sound like a good idea to you, Phil?

MUDD: It doesn't.

But look at this. Putin has already got what he wanted, and the meeting hasn't even started yet.

If the intention of that interference in the election -- and it wasn't just election interference -- it's an attempt to sort of sow discord among -- within the American population on things like Black Lives Matter -- if the intent was to weaken the Western alliance, we have a week where the president has embarrassed NATO, embarrassed Theresa May, walked in front of the queen, as you might recall, in England, and I thought embarrassed the queen.

And now he is coming, saying, the easiest meeting is with Vladimir Putin. Putin got what he wanted. And that is discord in the Western coalition, I think.

GERGEN: And he's got a meeting

I mean, I think Jeff Zeleny was saying earlier today that the most important thing he's got, the deliverable, is having a meeting, because this is something that puts Putin up on the same world stage as Trump.

And it also suggests he's -- the U.S. is saying, let bygones be bygones. Let's move ahead. And that's what we're hearing from a lot of people close to Trump.

TAPPER: That is unless, of course, he challenges Vladimir Putin tomorrow.

GERGEN: Exactly.

TAPPER: And we will see if he does that.

Coming up, flattery, humor, a little mano a mano workout talk? What's the right strategy for handling Vladimir Putin? Three former U.S. presidents might have some thoughts.

That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to Helsinki, Finland, where the highly anticipated and hotly debated Trump-Putin summit is less than a day away.

This American president comes here to the Presidential Palace behind me filled with confidence and optimism, and he is hardly the first.


TAPPER (voice-over): President Trump will be the fourth U.S. president to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: Putin is fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared.

TAPPER: So, as President Trump prepares -- or doesn't -- to meet the Russian leader, he should remember that others have been there before him, with very mixed success.

Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all tried kicking things off with flattery.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A man deeply committed to his country.

BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's fully capable of doing it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The extraordinary work that you have done on behalf of the Russian people.

TAPPER: In 2001, President George W. Bush took a soulful approach.

BUSH: I looked the man in eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

TAPPER: Presidents Bush and Obama both tried to soften the Russian leader by attempting to find common interests.

BUSH: First, I would like to congratulate President Putin for being the only person that caught a fish today.

OBAMA: President Trump's expertise in judo and my declining skills in basketball.

TAPPER: The relationship between U.S. leaders and their Russian counterparts has been warm in the past.

BORIS YELTSIN, RUSSIAN POSSIBLE (through translator): Well, now for, the first time, I can tell you that you're a disaster.


TAPPER: Still, American presidents have taken note of the former KGB agent's somewhat unique negotiating technique.

BUSH: Putin says, "Would you like to meet my dog?"

And out comes a giant hound kind of loping across the birch-lined yard. And Putin looks at me, and he says, "Bigger, stronger and faster than Barney."



TAPPER: And with some Putin officials, the language barrier has led to some awkward diplomacy.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do think we got it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get it wrong.

H. CLINTON: I got it wrong.


TAPPER: Still, if there's one thing we know about President Trump, he will do it his own way.

TRUMP: Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?


TAPPER: Coming up next, Fareed Zakaria previews the Trump-Putin summit with a journalist who interviewed Putin last year.

Stay with CNN.