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State of the Union

Interview With Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Interview With Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton; Interview With Former Trump Adviser Carter Page; GOP Representative: Putin Is "Manipulating" Trump; President Trump Invites Putin To Washington; Air Force One Getting A Makeover In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired July 22, 2018 - 09:00   ET





QUESTION: What have you promised Vladimir Putin, sir?

TAPPER: After a week of walking back statements that upended the world...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.

TRUMP: ... President Trump is still facing fire from all sides.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don't think Vladimir Putin interfered in our elections. I know he did.

TRUMP: How does President Trump's former 2016 sparring partner explain the events of the last week? Senator Marco Rubio is here live in moments.

And wiretap warrant breaking overnight, the Trump administration disclosing previously secret documents detailing why the FBI believed the Trump campaign aide was working with the Russians.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: There's been such a complete firestorm based on this completely false narrative.

TAPPER: The target of that warrant, Carter Page, will be here exclusively to respond next.

Plus: taking on Trump. The president says he knows who he wants to battle for another four years.

TRUMP: I dream of that, Biden. That's a dream.

TAPPER: But is Joe the way to go in 2020? Another potential 2020 challenger, U.S. Marine veteran and Congressman Seth Moulton, weighs in. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is still reeling from that Trump-Putin summit, from the president's attempts to deal with the backlash, and from new disclosures in multiple investigations.

Just overnight, the Trump administration released a heavily redacted version of the previously top-secret application for surveillance of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. This is the first time that such a document has ever been made public.

And it says -- quote -- "The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government" -- unquote -- among many other charges.

The warrant itself, of course, has been the subject of a very partisan fight on the House Intelligence Committee. And the president is already claiming victory on Twitter, saying that the released documents -- quote -- "confirm with little doubt that the department of -- quote -- 'Justice' and FBI misled the courts. Witch-hunt. Rigged. A scam."

In fact, that tweet itself is misleading. The documents show that the FBI did use material from the Steele dossier, but the FBI disclosed that the person who hired Steele likely was looking for ways to discredit then candidate prompt. It also noted that Steele had been a reliable source of information in the past.

But let's talk to former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He joins me now.

Let's get to the right -- to the crux of it, Carter. The FISA application says -- quote -- "The FBI believes that Carter Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government. There is probable cause that such activities involved or are about to involve violations of the criminal statutes of the United States."

The document accuses you of being a -- quote -- "agent of a foreign power."

Were you?

PAGE: Jake, this is so ridiculous. It's just beyond words.

You know, it's -- you're talking about misleading the courts. It's just such -- so misleading, going through those 400-plus-page documents. You know, where do you even begin?

It's literally a complete joke. And it only continues. It's just really sad.

TAPPER: Well, were you ever an agent of a foreign power? Did you ever advise the Kremlin or work with the Kremlin on anything? PAGE: Look, Jake I -- no, I have -- I have never been an agent of the

foreign power in any -- by any stretch of the imagination.

You know, I may have -- back in the G20, when they were getting ready to do that in St. Petersburg, I might have participated in a few meetings that a lot of people, including people from the Obama administration, were sitting in on, in Geneva, Paris, et cetera.

But I have never been anywhere near what's being described herein.

TAPPER: But you -- so you have advised the Kremlin in the past? That was 2013, that G20 meeting, I believe.

PAGE: Look, it was a -- there were experts from around the world talking about energy issues. And I was one of countless company, myself and a lot of academics and businesspeople who were involved in these various discussions sessions. But it was nothing.

TAPPER: But you did advise the Kremlin? I mean, I'm just -- I just want to make it clear. You did advise the Kremlin back in 2013 or 2012, somewhere in there?

PAGE: Jake, that's -- it's really spin.

I mean, I -- I sat in on some meetings. But, you know, to call me an adviser, I think, is -- is way over the -- over the top.

TAPPER: Except, in a 2013 letter, you wrote that -- it says -- quote -- "Over the past half-year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for the presidency of the G20 next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda."

That's August 2013. That's yourself calling yourself an informal adviser to the Kremlin.

PAGE: You know, informal, having some conversations with people. I mean, this is really nothing and just an attempt to distract from the real crimes that are shown in this misleading document.


You know, page eight, it says -- it talks about disguised propaganda, including the planting -- planting of false or misleading articles, which is exactly what this is.

So, that's kind of the pot calling the kettle black by Mr. Comey and co.

TAPPER: So, one of the things that's interesting is the documents make it clear that they were relying on information from Christopher Steele, but not only on information from Christopher Steele, and includes a FISA warrants and three renewals, in which officials of both the Obama administration and the Trump administration over several months assert that you're an agent of a foreign power.

And then it was signed off, the FISA application and then three renewals, by four judges, all of them appointed by Republicans.

So, this isn't just Christopher Steele or James Comey. This is many, many people over two administrations, four judges appointed by Republicans over and over, believing that you are an agent of a foreign power. How do you respond to that?

PAGE: Actually, it would be a good question for the for them, Jake, is whether they -- they believe that what they did was appropriate now.

Again, they were misled. And if people are giving them -- typically, when the Department of Justice is giving a court information, you know, I think it's reasonable for a judge to believe that that's true.

Unfortunately, Mr. Berman, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has been doing similar things, including a number of false -- false pleadings in my -- in my case there.

So, I'm hoping that Department of Justice will take steps to start correcting the false record in a number of courts.

TAPPER: Look, the...

PAGE: The FISA is just the first part. Let's see what they do in Southern District of New York to try to correct the record.

TAPPER: Most of the FISA application, as you know, has been redacted, the publicly released version. But some of the -- some of the material in there is there.

Let's talk about some of the things in there. It says -- quote -- "The FBI believes Carter Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government." And then it's redacted. And then it says, "undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in violation of U.S. criminal law."

It says that the Russians were trying to recruit you. We know you have said that you went to Russia in the summer of 2016 to deliver a commencement address.

Is it not a possibility that Russians were trying to recruit you, even if you didn't take the bait? Is that not possible? It seems to me like that would be their job, and you were working for Trump. You had worked with the Kremlin in the past. That would be a reasonable thing for them to try to do.

PAGE: It's totally unreasonable, Jake. And it actually speaks to another misleading testimony related to the indictments that Eric Holder and Preet Bharara submitted on January -- January 2015 talking about that prior case.

And a lot of that is incorrect spin. That individual, Mr. Podobnyy, a young diplomat in New York, I talked with him about my class. I sat -- we had coffee one time. I met him at a conference at Asia Society. We met once for coffee, and I gave him some -- some of my class notes

that my students at New York University were looking at. And it was in one ear and out the other. He never asked me to do anything.

I mean, it's just so preposterous.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you. You keep saying this is spin. But if you could just directly answer the questions, it'd be great.

PAGE: Sure.

TAPPER: It says -- the application also says that you -- quote -- "established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers."

You're telling me that they pulled that out of thin air? You have no relationships with Russian government officials? You have already told me and this audience that you weren't an informal adviser to the Kremlin in 2013. You have relationships with Russian government officials, right?

PAGE: Well, let's see what they're -- what they're referring to specifically.

As you correctly noted, there's a ton of information that's blacked out. If you read Mr. Clapper and co.'s DNI report of January 6 2017, there's a big, long section in there about how R.T. and Sputnik, these Russian propaganda agencies, allegedly were influencing the elections.

I mean, now we know that -- through these documents that the -- that the defamatory article in September 23, 2016, was used as a central source of this.

So, really, again, it's another situation of the pot calling the kettle black. And the fact that you have this $500 million-plus-a- year organization, Broadcasting Board of Governors, funding this ridiculous smear campaign...

TAPPER: Well, but, Carter, Carter, you didn't answer -- I mean, you have relationships with Russian government officials, true, yes?


PAGE: Well, I -- let's see what they're talking about. I talked with a few...


TAPPER: I'm just asking you a straight question. Do you have relationships with Russian government officials?

I can tell you, I don't. But, then again, you lived in Russia. You're an academic. You have worked in energy in Russia. You went there in 2016 to speak at a commencement address.

Do you have relationships with Russian government officials? PAGE: Well, the main one that they're focusing on, Jake, if you read

through the full 400-plus pages...

TAPPER: I did.

PAGE: ... are these Mr. Sechin, and Mr. Diveykin.


PAGE: Both of whom I have never met, spoke with, communicated with in my entire life.

So, it's just...

TAPPER: You have never spoken -- just to make sure the people at home understand, the application says that you spoke with Igor Sechin, who's the president of a Russian energy company and a close associate of Vladimir Putin.

And it charges that you guys discussed, you two discussed in 2016 -- quote -- "prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia."

So you're saying you have never in your life spoken with Igor Sechin?

PAGE: Never in my life.

And it's really sad. We're talking about election influence campaigns, Jake.

Kellyanne Conway had to answer these questions. You had a very good interview with her on September 25, 2016, asking her about a range of campaign issues. And since it was put on the table two days earlier, that Friday, it was -- it was a question you brought up asking about these things.

And Kellyanne was someone who had recently joined the campaign. I never had any relationship or I have never spoken with her in my life.

So, I mean, it's just real misinformation. And you were -- you were...

TAPPER: Carter...


PAGE: You had a good -- you had a -- you were very fair in terms of asking the questions, and -- but it really put her on the spot.

And it's just really a sad state of affairs with this election interference campaign by the Democrats.

TAPPER: You still -- you still haven't answered my question about whether you have any relationship with any Russian government officials. You have said that you do not have one with Igor Sechin, and you do not have one, you have never spoken with Diveykin, who is a Russian internal affairs officer, who the FISA document says that Diveykin told you that the Kremlin had compromising material related to Hillary Clinton.

You're denying that that happened too?

PAGE: Totally false.

And, again, that's directly from the dodgy dossier, which was eventually revealed on January 10 of last year. It's just absolutely preposterous.

TAPPER: Did anyone at any time, any Russian government official in any time in 2016 talk to you about either lifting the sanctions or compromising material that they claimed to have on Hillary Clinton?

PAGE: On compromising material, not one word. I was hearing about things when you were hearing about things, in the mainstream media.

You know, I mean, when I was there in July of 2016, people, a few people might have brought it up in passing. But, again, it's a major economic issue. And so there may have been a loose conversation.

I'm very careful in terms of making sure that there's a clear record. There was nothing in terms of any nefarious behavior about it.


TAPPER: OK, so you did -- so you did discuss the sanctions with individuals in Russia.

Did you ever hear from a Russian, not from the media, from a Russian anything about compromising material about Hillary Clinton?

PAGE: Never. Never.

TAPPER: Never.

PAGE: I -- yes.

TAPPER: All right, Carter Page, thank you so much for coming this morning and taking our questions. We appreciate it.

PAGE: Thanks, Jake. Good to see you.

TAPPER: After a week of painful walk-backs and reversals on Russia, are members of the president's own party buying President Trump's explanations?

Senator Marco Rubio, one of the biggest Russia hawks in the Senate, is here to respond next.

Stay with us.



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

After critics said President Trump appeared to be submissive to Vladimir Putin while standing right next to him at the Helsinki summit, many top Republicans are pulling back.

Trump's own intelligence, Dan Coats, at a loss for words when first told that Trump wanted to bring Putin to Washington, had to apologize for what he called his awkward response. Coats said he -- quote -- "in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president."

Here with me to talk about this week in Russia-U.S. relations, President Trump's former campaign rival Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, member of both the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.

RUBIO: Thank you.

TAPPER: There's a lot to get to.

But I do want to ask about this FISA application against Carter Page that was released last night. The president tweeted this morning that the FISA documents -- quote -- "confirm with little doubt that the Department of Justice and FBI misled the courts. Witch-hunt. Rigged. A scam."

He also claims that he was -- quote -- "illegally being spied upon for the political gain of crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC."

Is that what the FISA documents...

RUBIO: I have a different view on it.

Number one, Carter Page, I'm not claiming that he's James Bond. He's not 007. But he's a guy that, even before the campaign -- so this is not Trump-related -- even before the campaign, is a guy that went around the world bragging about his connections in Russia.

So they knew who he was before the campaign. Then you see the guy kind of gravitating around a leading campaign, and then other things came up on their screen. And they say, we got to look at this guy. And that's what the FISA application sort of lays out.

By the Trump's campaign's own admission Carter Page was not a big player in their campaign. I don't believe that them looking into Carter Page means they were spying on the campaign. I also don't believe it proves anything about collusion or anything like that.

I think Carter Page is one of these guys that kind of -- we never would have heard of him before all this, but he was a guy that was on their screen even before the campaign. And when he comes into kind of the near orbit of the campaign, they get interested when they put that together with what's happening with Russian interference.

And that's why they looked at him. I don't think it's brought him any -- part of any broader plot. The only plot here is the plot to interfere and our elections by the Russians.

TAPPER: So, as far as you know -- and you're a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- the surveillance was justified?

RUBIO: Yes, I don't think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They put -- laid out all the information. And there was a lot of reasons unrelated to the dossier for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.

And Carter Page was not a key member of the Trump campaign. And the Trump campaign has said that.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the major news this week with Russia.

The White House now says plans are in the works to bring Vladimir Putin to the White House for a meeting in the fall.

What's your reaction? And do you think, if Putin comes to town, he should also come to Capitol Hill?


RUBIO: Well, first of all, let me say, I -- my understanding is the president always wanted to meet with Putin in America first. He didn't want to go to Moscow first. He didn't want a third country first. He didn't want their first meeting to be on the sidelines of some other engagement.

And so he agreed to Helsinki. But now he's back to his original plan, which is the first meeting with Putin in his home turf in the United States, in Trump's home turf. And I think that's what this is about.

I don't -- I don't have any -- no one's been tougher on Putin and on interference than I have been, I believe. That said, I don't have a problem with the president of the United States interacting with the president of the Russian Federation.

They have got a lot of nuclear weapons. And so we do need to interact with them. That is separate from the question of whether or not, in those interactions, we should be clear-eyed about who Putin is. He is not interested in better relations with the United States. I think he walked away from that a long time ago.

He's interested in gaining advantage at our expense and to his benefit. And as long as we go in with a very clear understanding, we can engage him all we want, but not under any illusion.

TAPPER: You have suggested in the past that you think Putin might be responsible for war crimes, not just in Syria.

RUBIO: No, no, he has been. I have -- I know he has.


Do you have a problem with him coming to the White House?

RUBIO: Well...

TAPPER: I mean, meeting with the president is one thing, but coming to the White House is another.

RUBIO: Well, I don't -- I mean, the symbolism of it, I think you -- people could make the argument you have just pointed out.

There is no doubt in my mind that Putin has authorized war crimes. He also possesses, between us, 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. The president pointed it out this week. So it's kind of one of those tough situations, where he's -- you know, if he was a dictator of a Third World country, we would treat him one way.

Unfortunately, geopolitical reality means we have to engage with a guy like this, but knowing exactly who he is. This is the guy that shot down that Malaysian airliner. This is the guy that invaded Ukraine. This is the guy that took Crimea. This is the guy that murders his political opponents.

This is who we're dealing with. And we -- this is the guy that bombs aid convoys in Syria and helps the Syrian regime gas people by covering for them at the United Nations. This is who we are dealing with.

TAPPER: But...

RUBIO: As long as we know that, you know?

TAPPER: Does President Trump know that? He calls him very strong.

And, I mean, I can't imagine you were happy with the way President Trump reacted with Vladimir Putin on that stage.

RUBIO: You know, I don't think it was one of the best moments in the administration. I feel Donald Trump is not -- he hasn't spent his whole life here in D.C. doing all these things.

In his mind, as someone who's not a politician, if I can just interact with this guy on a one-on-one basis, over time, we might be able to get some things done together.

And because he's not a political creature, he doesn't realize that some of these things he does, how it would be portrayed by our allies or by others.

Let me say this. Our allies in Europe wanted him to meet with Putin. I'm not sure they wanted him potentially to say some of the things he said, but they wanted him to meet with him.

But I don't have any doubt that President Trump is aware of the things Vladimir Putin has done. I'm not sure its rhetoric reflects that, but his policies.

TAPPER: Don't you think you're being remarkably forgiving of President Trump's behavior towards Putin?

If a Democratic president had done all those same things, I can't imagine that you wouldn't be really outraged and expressive.

RUBIO: Yes, I think the difference is, I have interacted with Donald Trump for a year-and-a-half, three-and-a-half years now, including on the campaign.

So it gives me some insight into how he gets to these positions. That doesn't mean I don't disagree with the things he says. It doesn't mean I don't continue to work, like on the DETER Act, to get things done. I'm trying to explain kind of how we get to this point.

Ultimately, I look at the policies. And that's what I'm trying to influence. That's what really, at the end of the day -- the rhetoric matters. The policies matter even more. And that's why we need the DETER Act. That's why I agree with arming the Ukrainians.

Just this very week, we sent additional military aid to Ukraine.


TAPPER: Yes, Mattis did that, yes.

RUBIO: And so, if we keep doing those things, hopefully, the rhetoric gets better on it and some of the explanations therein.

Look, I am concerned about any time you undermine or say at a press conference that you agree with Putin over our intelligence community. And that's why I'm glad he came back the next day and sort of walked that back...

TAPPER: Sort of.

RUBIO: ... because it was important.

TAPPER: Sort of.

RUBIO: Well, it's certainly better than the impression that had been left after Helsinki.

TAPPER: Well, you said that words matter, but actions matter more.

During his press conference, President Trump said it was a -- quote -- "incredible offer" for Russia to cooperate with U.S. investigators on election interference, in exchange for Russia being able to interrogate American officials, including former Ambassador Michael McFaul.

Now, the White House later rejected the idea.

But in her statement rejecting it, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called it -- quote -- "a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin."

Does it bother you that this was ever even taken seriously, and then, even when it was rejected, that they thought that Putin was being sincere?

RUBIO: Well, let me say, I don't think it was ever taken seriously. I don't believe they ever were going to do that, obviously, when the president...

TAPPER: He called it an incredible offer.

RUBIO: That's what the president said at the press conference.

In terms of within the White House, I don't think that at any point anybody there was ultimately going to say, let's do this, once it was analyzed and looked at. It was the choice of words that he made that I think ultimately were never going to happen.

I remember very clearly saying, I believe Wednesday or Thursday morning, we should -- they should just categorically rule this out. And they did. And that's good, because that should never happen. I mean, it's a -- it's a sick joke.

TAPPER: I want to play the moment where President Trump appeared to side with Putin over the U.S. intelligence community in Helsinki. Take a listen.


TRUMP: People came to me. Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.


I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.


TAPPER: Now, 27 hours later, after two television interviews where he didn't say anything, plus five tweets where he didn't say anything, then President Trump, after being told by Pompeo and Pence he needed to clean this up, claimed that he meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia."

Do you believe that?

RUBIO: I don't know what to believe about it. I know he said it after -- I know what he said. And I don't think it was a good moment for this administration. And I disagree with it.

I know he came back the next day and said something to clean that up. And I'm glad that he did it. I'm glad that he cleaned that up, because it left -- if you watch that video, it leaves the impression that, my intelligence community says one thing, Putin says another, I'm siding with Putin. And that was a bad impression to leave behind.

TAPPER: But, even when he cleaned it up, he said it was the Russians, although it could have been a lot of people also, a lot of people out there, which is still undermining the idea.


Look, I don't like the way this was handled throughout the week. I wish it would have gone differently. My job in the U.S. Senate is to push for policies that ensure that, no matter what is being said, what actually happens is good for America.

And it's not good for America to have any country interfering in our elections, any, but especially Vladimir Putin, who believes that weakening us is what's going to make him stronger, allowing him -- no matter you're a Democrat or Republican. It doesn't matter. We are America. We should be a little bit territorial about our elections and about our politics.

And the idea that another country gets to come in here and pit us against each other, especially Vladimir Putin, is something we should all be against, especially moving forward.

TAPPER: Nothing -- there's nothing that Putin would like more than for the NATO alliance to be weakened...

RUBIO: That's correct.

TAPPER: ... because it's a deterrent to his expanding into Europe.

Take a listen to what President Trump said to FOX this week about the U.S. agreement to defend NATO members, including its newest member, Montenegro.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Let's say Montenegro, which is joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that?

TRUMP: I understand what you're saying. I have asked the same question. They have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you're in World War III.


TAPPER: Do you have confidence that President Trump would honor the NATO Article 5 agreement...

RUBIO: I do.

TAPPER: ... that an attack on one is an attack on all?

RUBIO: I do.

I have confidence that he would. Obviously, when you see those statements, it kind of raises concern.

And here's what I would say and will say to the president and have said to his administration. And most people in the administration clearly understand this. Number one, we don't have to worry about Montenegro being aggressive, because the NATO alliance is a defensive agreement.

It's not -- it doesn't mean Montenegro can start a war, and now we're obligated to join them. It means, if they are attacked, we have an alliance in which we defend ourselves.

The second point is, I agree with something he said. And that is, we don't want a war over Montenegro. And the best way to avoid a war over Montenegro or Poland or any country in the region covered under the NATO alliance is to have a strong NATO alliance.

And a strong NATO alliance means two things, a strong commitment to live up to the words of the alliance, which is what some people are concerned about when it comes to the president, but also strong capacity, meaning all of our partners are strong and can contribute to that alliance and our mutual self-defense, which is what the president is concerned about, and administrations before him have been concerned about.

And so that -- but, ultimately, what we need to understand is the reason why we didn't have World War III, one of the main reasons why we didn't, is because of a strong NATO alliance. Strong alliances prevent wars, not cause them.

TAPPER: I want to ask you one more question about Russia. And then I know there are a couple other issues you want to discuss.

And that is, you have in your career been a voice of moral authority when it comes to foreign policy, whether you're talking about Russia, or you're talking about China, or you're talking about Cuba.

Do you think that you risk undermining that moral authority by pulling your punches when it comes to criticizing President Trump?

RUBIO: No, because we have.

When we -- look, when the president does something right, we -- we support it. When he does something wrong, we try to change his mind and -- or influence the decisions. And if that doesn't work, then we will line up against it.

So, as an example, months ago, despite what the president has said or his feelings about -- in the president's view -- my take on it is that he views any sort of admission of Russian interference as admission of collusion.

And I'm just telling everybody, it is very possible Russia was going to interfere in our elections, whether they were going to collude or not. The collusion issue, I have never seen any evidence of it. There are other people working on that. What I think is indisputable is that they did interfere and will do so again in the future, hence the DETER Act, which says, if you do it again, here are the penalties that are going to be imposed are you automatically.

TAPPER: They are doing it again.

RUBIO: Well, and if -- 30 days after the election, if our bill passes, and the -- the -- the director of national intelligence says they interfered in 2018, these very tough sanctions are going to hit him.

So Putin knows going in what the price of doing so is. And that's what we need to focus on. And so when I disagree with the president, I'm going to say it. I will be fair. There are times of people out there that think that, because I disagree with the president on Russia, now I got to vote against his Supreme Court nominee.

I mean, that's absurd. We have to be in a place where we can agree with people when we agree and disagree when we disagree.

TAPPER: I want to talk about what's happening in Nicaragua, because that's an issue you obviously feel very passionately about.

Human rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed during clashes between the government and anti-government protesters. You tweeted yesterday: "After Ortega-Murillo reign of terror, there is no future for them in power. Strong U.S. reaction is coming. They will pay a big price for their crimes against their own people. I strongly advise Nicaraguan military not to participate in oppressing the people."


RUBIO: Right.

TAPPER: But what are you talking about when you say strong U.S. reaction is coming?

RUBIO: Well, I think you're going to see and there's already work being done to set a series of sanctions against individuals and entities in Nicaragua that have empowered this.

All this could have been avoided weeks ago. The message to the Nicaraguan regime under Ortega was very clear. And that is, you call early elections, you allow legitimate elections, and this thing can move forward and everyone's going to be fine.

But if you soak your hands in blood, all that's off the table. They decided to soak their hands in blood. Right now, the military has not been a part of it. He's had to rely on these irregular paramilitary forces that he has stood up and the police departments to kill people. He's basically tried to burn down the university and has now waged war, attacked churches and kidnapping people and the like.

So, I think that opportunity is now gone for Ortega. And this is an old man. This is a dying man, in Ortega. His wife is crazy. She's a lunatic. She's also the vice president of the country. There's no future for them in power.

And my biggest fear about Nicaragua is, unlike Venezuela, the possibility of arms -- of a civil war in Nicaragua is real. It would trigger a migratory crisis. It would undermine our anti-drug efforts in the region.

There is a direct national security interest for the United States in seeing democracy and stability in Nicaragua.

TAPPER: One last question, sir.

The president's former personal attorney Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation. It was revealed on Friday that the FBI has obtained tapes, including Cohen's private conversations with President Trump.

There's speculation that the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York is looking at the tapes to see whether or not President Trump himself did anything illegal or anything worth investigating.

Are you concerned at all about what might be on these tapes?

RUBIO: I haven't heard them. I don't know what's on the tapes.

So, I can't make an opinion on tapes I have never heard. We will find out, right?

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

RUBIO: Thanks.

TAPPER: Don't be a stranger. It's been too long that you have been at this table.

RUBIO: Yes. We will be back.

TAPPER: President Trump knows his dream opponent in 2020, but will he get his wish?

A rising star on the Democratic side will be here to weigh in next.



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

Well, since President Trump won't tell anyone, including apparently the top intelligence official in the country, what he said, what he may have agreed to with Vladimir Putin, Democrats are now looking to that U.S. interpreter to testify about what was said, though some leading Republicans have shot down that idea. This comes as Democrats are trying to find the right strategy and the right candidate to battle the brawler with the bully pulpit.

Joining me now, someone getting a little of that 2020 buzz, former U.S. marine officer Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Obviously, there's been bipartisan -- bipartisan criticism of the president's dealings with Putin and his foreign policy trip this week. Some criticisms from Democrats has been pretty extraordinary.

I want you to take a look at this tweet from Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. It says -- quote -- "Republicans in Congress cannot continue to turn a blind eye toward the very real possibility that Vladimir Putin has compromised our commander in chief and turned him, perhaps without his knowledge, into a Russian asset."

Do you agree with that, Congressman?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think the problem is that we just don't know, Jake.

And that's what's so embarrassing about this situation. I don't know of a time in American history when an American commander in chief has gone into a one-on-one meeting with an adversary and refused to tell us about it, refused to even tell his own intelligence chiefs about what he discussed.

So, this raises an awful lot of questions about what Russia may have on Trump and what Trump is trying to do with Putin.

TAPPER: So, you think it's possible that the president is a Russian asset, with or without his knowledge?

MOULTON: Well, I'm just saying that I don't know.

But the behavior that I saw from the president on television, rather than standing up for our allies, rather than hammering Putin for the way that he's tried to influence our elections and undermine our democracy, and instead just cozies up to this dictator, the Russians -- look, Russia's the greatest enemy of the United States for the last 65 years.

The fact the fact that we have to question the integrity, the honesty and the loyalty of a commander in chief when it comes to dealing with -- with Russia is a problem in and of itself.

And that's why we have -- we have got to elect a new generation of leaders in November to hold this president and this administration accountable.

TAPPER: Amid all the wildness of last week, there are also additional questions, obviously, in the president's mind about what role the United States should play in the NATO alliance and whether or not NATO's an outdated model in a world where the Soviet Union no longer exists.

I want you to take a listen to the president in an interview this week about the NATO ally Montenegro.


TRUMP: They have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you're in World War III.

We're -- not only are we paying for most of it, but they weren't even paying, and we're protecting them. Add that to your little equation on Montenegro.


TAPPER: Now, you're someone that could have, theoretically, as a Marine, been called to defend a NATO ally, not Montenegro, which just joined in 2017, but other smaller countries.

How do you view these comments?

MOULTON: When I served in Iraq, Jake, I served under General Mattis, who's now, of course, the secretary of defense.

And our division motto was no better friends, no worse enemy than the United States Marines. That means that there is no better friend for our allies than America and no worse enemy.

And that should be our policy towards NATO as our friends and towards Russia as our adversary. I understand that we have a commander in chief who dodged the draft five times to avoid serving himself, but the fact that he's saying these things about Montenegro just shows how totally out of touch he is with foreign policy.

I mean, Montenegro has 2,000 troops. The fact that we would abandon them to Russia because they're going to try to start World War III is ridiculous.


But more to the point, we need a commander in chief who actually stands with our allies, who actually strengthens the NATO alliance.

Senator Rubio is right. A strong NATO alliance is what will prevent us from going to war.

And don't make any mistake about it. Putin is trying to undermine NATO. He's trying to influence the West. And that seems to be exactly what he's doing through our own commander in chief.

TAPPER: I want to turn to your outspoken push for new leadership in the House.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, was asked specifically about your call and Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio's call for a new generation to lead the Democratic Party. She responded in an interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine by saying

this -- quote -- "Inconsequential. They don't have a following in our caucus. None."

Is she right?

MOULTON: Well, Tim Ryan ran against her. He had an entire week, one week, to campaign, and then a third of the caucus voted for him. So I don't think that is inconsequential.

But you know what? This is bigger than one person. What we need is a new generation of leadership to be honest about the problems that we face. A lot of Americans are hurting. A lot of Americans are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet.

And we need a leader who's going to talk about the future, not bring us back to the past, but talk about the future, be honest about the fact that a lot of Americans are losing jobs, not to immigrants, but to automation, be willing to be strong on national security, to create a country that strong and safe, and someone who's willing to reform government, someone who has a vision for the future.

We need a uniter in our party. We can continue to have these narrow and divisive politics with our current leaders, or we can be -- we can find leaders who are going to really bring us together, who are going to unite us...

TAPPER: Are you -- are you that leader?

MOULTON: ... and put us in a position where we can -- where we can create a majority.

TAPPER: Are you that leader, Congressman?

MOULTON: I have said very -- no, Jake, I have said very clearly that I'm not challenging Leader Pelosi.

But I am going to talk about the kind of leadership that we need. And I have been out across the country recruiting especially young -- young veterans to run. There are many more who have decided to run on their own. And I have been anxious to support their campaigns.

I took a group of them down to the border recently. And rather than go down there and do a six-hour trip with a press conference, we spent two days, two days on both sides of the border trying to understand the crisis, so that we can actually come to Washington with solutions.

These candidates were avoiding the advice of their campaign consultants and everything, who said they should be just spending all their time raising money, and are actually trying to understand a big crisis of the day.

We went to Juarez, Mexico. We met with deported veterans, a term that shouldn't even exist. We met with a guy who was in the United States Navy, had come to United States as a kid. His entire family, his parents, his kids are legal residents. He just didn't get around to filling out his immigration paperwork. And when he got out after 10 years in the Navy, he got a DUI. He got a DUI, something that many of my colleagues in Congress have. And because of that DUI, they deported him, despite his 10 years of service for the country.

So, we met with people like that to try to understand this problem. And I think that's the kind of attitude, the can-do, get-on-the- ground, get-into-the-weeds, understand-the-issues attitude, that you're going to see from this new generation of leaders...


MOULTON: ... that I and others in the Congress have been supporting.

TAPPER: Someone else that thinks she's a part of a new generation of leaders, Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, hit the campaign trail with Senator Bernie Sanders this weekend in Kansas.

She says her platform, which includes universal jobs guarantee, forgiveness of all student loan debt, abolishing ICE, represents the future of the Democratic Party. Do you agree?

MOULTON: Well, I think that she has an important voice in the Democratic Party. But the reality is that, if we're going to be a majority party, if we're actually going to win in November, we have got to have a diversity of views.

And I think that's one of the things that's made our party strong in the past. But, if we become narrower, if we become more divided, then you know what? We can do that as Democrats. We're just not going to win.

And I think that the stakes are so high in November. The stakes are so high to put a check on this president, to put a check on the administration, to restore some balance in Washington, that we have got to make sure that we have a broad base.

And we should have people like Alexandria in our party, but we should also have people like Amy McGrath in Kentucky, this amazing woman who was the first woman to fly an F/A-18 in the Marine Corps in combat. She's running in a tough district, a tough district that Alexandria couldn't win, but that Amy can.

And she's a leader that people will look to and say, I'm going to get behind Amy just because -- because I believe in her leadership, because I trust her judgment, not just because she's a Democrat, but be someone -- but because she's someone who has served her country before and someone we can trust.

We need people like that in the party as well.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman settlement, Democratic of Massachusetts, thank you so much, sir. Appreciate your time.

MOULTON: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: The president, a playmate, the man who made Trump's problems go away and now a recording. What could Michael Cohen's tapes mean for Donald Trump's presidency?

Stay with us.




REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Having spent almost a decade as an undercover officer in the CIA, I've seen the Russian intelligence, and you know, manipulate many people in my career. And I never would have thought the U.S. president would be -- would be one of them.


TAPPER: That was Texas Republican congressman Will Hurd during my interview with him from Helsinki, Finland this week right after that remarkable press conference where the president appeared to side with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.

Our panel of experts is here with us now. And, Congressman, you're a former -- he's a former CIA officer, Congressman Will Hurd, you're a former FBI agent.


What do you think? Is he overstating the case?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I would be a little cautious. I think he did overstate the case.

The one thing we do know is that hubris is the number one recruiting tool for any Foreign Service trying to get you to do something you maybe even not unwitting to do. And you're seeing this really play out across this investigation with the young woman who was just arrested. She was an agent of the intelligence services meaning she wasn't an intelligence officer, they recruited her to be an agent of influence.

Those are the kinds of things that they're going to look for and I think the president walks into it. My biggest concern, Jake, in this is what I don't think he understood about what he had done is if you know the Russians are using information operations around the world, influence campaigns, they did it here, they're doing it in France, they're doing it in Germany.

TAPPER: Still doing it.

ROGERS: Still doing it. Absolutely.

The worst -- the worst possible thing you can do is give information from your own words that they can use against the credibility of our intelligence and defense services around the world. That's exactly what the Russians are doing.

They're taking the president's words. They're injecting it into the influence operations and that's causing a problem.

TAPPER: What do you think, Congresswoman? How do view the president's behavior and how do you explain that?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I think it was deeply damaging. And I think that equally damaging has been the fact that, you know, we have seen Republicans continue to undermine every instance of Mueller's investigation.

I sit on Judiciary Committee, we have spent hours and hours and hours upon hours questioning Peter Strzok, questioning Lisa Page but no actual hearings on our election security. And we're coming up on election right now.

I think what the president did was incredibly disturbing for so many reasons. Number one, he undermined our intelligence agencies. And I was just saying to the congressman that sometimes it feels like we're upside down. Democrats are defending the FBI, the CIA, our intelligence agencies and here you have the president of the United States, the head of the Republican Party saying he believes Putin over our the Russian intelligence -- over our own intelligence agencies.

But secondly, I think there is deep trouble when Republicans refuse to do anything to shore up our elections. And we just had a motion on the floor, motion to recommit a bill to put money into election security. What are they afraid of?

And finally, as we look at all the evidence that's coming out, it is clear to me that there is real concern with Republicans who fear their own political futures. Now with, you know, all of the information that's been released with Maria Butina, you see that there may be Republicans who won their races in part because of Donald Trump and interference of Russians in the elections but also that have a lot to lose if the NRA and the ties that Republicans have to the NRA are (ph) part (ph) of (ph) the whole thing.

TAPPER: Senator?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the president's comments were damaging. I agree with Mike that they're going to be used against us and it's going to be harmful to us.

On the other hand I believe the president's policies towards Russia have been very, very strong and his administration has been pretty clear about continuing those policies, to continue to fight. Republicans are trying to do something about the election.

Marco Rubio was just on this program. He talked about the bill that he and Chris Van Hollen have put together, has bipartisan support in the Senate. I am hopeful that they will act on it, that says to that Russians that, you know, if you continue to meddle in elections there are going to be real consequences.

I hope those consequences are focused on Putin and his inner circle. That's -- that's -- that's the most damaging thing we can do. I think broader sanctions are sort of a blunt instrument but in the case of Russia I think we can really be effective if we go after those oligarchs.

JAYAPAL: Jake, I just got to say the Republicans have done absolutely nothing to protect our upcoming elections, no money, no investigations, no --


TAPPER: Well, there's money but it's the Democrats pushing for more money.

JAYAPAL: No. They just -- they just took money away, 3.8 billion that was just taken away.

TAPPER: Democrats are pushing for more money and Republicans --

JAYAPAL: This was zeroing out already a small amount that was in the 2018 budget, zeroing that out. So there has been no additional dollars that have been spent on shoring up our elections.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: I think that's exactly right. And we see that in reporting over and over again that Republicans are just not doing what they need to do to protect us.

And here's the thing, so even the days leading up to Monday you had -- you had Donald Trump in Europe attacking our allies. You had Donald Trump blaming Democrats for being hacked.

Meanwhile, knowing that 12 Russian military officers were being indicted for their involvement in the meddling in our elections. I should really call it a cyber attack of our election.

And then he goes into this meeting, the commander in chief goes into this meeting for two hours, more than two hours, doesn't tell -- we don't know what's in the meeting. We have to trust on Russia on what's -- what happened in this meeting.

Goes in there alone. His military, commander in chief, his military doesn't know what's going on in this meeting. His intelligence community doesn't know what's going on in this meeting.


He created the situation. And now we find out -- what we continue to find out there's nothing happening. So now he has rewarded -- Putin is rewarded with a meeting in the United States at the White House.

So just think about it. While Putin is sitting in the White House his intelligence officers are trying to hack into our elections for 2018.

TAPPER: I want to turn to one other topic. CNN has learned that the FBI obtained a recording between former personal attorney to Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, in which the two men prior to the election discussed a payment to a former playboy playmate of a year who has alleged an affair with Trump.

The president tweeted yesterday -- quote -- "Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) -- also unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client -- totally unheard of and perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite president did nothing wrong."

And to point a fact it wasn't a break in by the government it was an executed search warrant and it isn't illegal in New York to record although it certainly is odd.

Your response? And are you concerned at all about what might be in these tapes?

SANTORUM: I'm not -- I mean, listening -- not listening but hearing the reports of that particular conversation, I don't think there's anything particularly problematic in that conversation but it raises the other question, how much did he record? And when did he record it? What else is there?

I basically believe that the president is focused on Russia for the wrong reason, which is he keeps getting dragged back into this that, you know -- that he was somehow guilty of something when there is no evidence anywhere that the president did anything to collude with the Russians. And the best thing this president can do is walk away from this whole Russia -- Russia scenarios, stop talking about it.

I think the Mueller investigation is going to be pretty clear. There are lots of people that are being investigated, you have got this madam being asked, you know, to come forward a because of her relationship with Roger Stone. But it's so far away from the president and the original investigation.


TAPPER: The -- Michael Cohen is a separate investigation, U.S. attorney's office --

SANTORUM: I understand that. But all of it is related to this whole idea that Trump somehow in his campaign colluded. And he has -- and somehow the Russians had a determinative effect in the election, which they did not. And so I think he needs to just continue to walk away from this and stop talking about it.

TAPPER: What do you think about these tapes? Is this something the Democrats are licking their chops over?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, nobody is licking their chops over the fact that our elections are at risk and that our president seems to be representing a country other than the one that he was purportedly elected president.

TAPPER: Right. I meant the -- I meant the Michael Cohen playboy playmate thing but --

JAYAPAL: So, Michael Cohen -- here it is. It's the same pattern, Jake.


JAYAPAL: It's lie, cover up, when you're found out misdirect, redirect it to somewhere else, which is what he's trying to do right now. But it's very, very clear that this president thinks it's OK to lie, and these tapes show that again. And we have a real problem here.

ROGERS: The president didn't lie.


ROGERS: I think there are two separate issues here. One is the madam is related to the fact that she did scheduling for the -- for Roger Stone.

TAPPER: Right.

ROGERS: And if you look at the fact that the FBI was looking at Andrew Miller also because he did scheduling around the convention.

I will say this --


ROGERS: Here is what the president needs to understand, his legal team needs to understand, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano cooperated against John Gotti and the FBI. If he doesn't think that these people are going to fold like cheap chairs I'm telling you he has got something else coming up.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all.

President Trump is planning to liven up one of the most recognizable plane designs in the world and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): Air Force One is getting a makeover and President Trump's design ideas are already taking off.

TRUMP: Air Force One is going to be incredible. It's going to be the top of the line --

TAPPER: First, on Trump's list nix the colors selected by the Kennedys in 1962.

TRUMP: I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors and we're not.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES (ph): I think it's lovely. I hate to make changes really.

TAPPER: The president says he wants to go with something a little more on the nose.

TRUMP: You know what colors we're using? Take a guess. Red, white and blue.

TAPPER: Another idea perhaps the former real estate developer is known for selecting only the finest materials, maybe a solid gold plane and marble for the wings.

TRUMP: I want the plane to be immaculate. I want everything polished.

TAPPER: Thought perhaps that's not the most aerodynamic idea. Of course, the president could just go with his favorite image.

TRUMP: Do I look like a president? How handsome am I, right? How handsome?

TAPPER: On the other hand there's already a famous plane with a red, white and blue design. Perhaps the president got some inspiration on the tarmac in Helsinki.

TRUMP: I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Thank you very much.


TAPPER: And for one more STATE OF THE UNION exclusive I want to offer a special welcome to the newest welcome of team Tapper producer (INAUDIBLE) Austin had a baby boy, Charles David Austin, Jr. He is gorgeous as his family. Congratulations.


Thanks so much for joining us.

"FAREED ZAKARIA" starts right now.