tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 16, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
obama and in the cia for george w. bush, thank you for your time. really appreciate it. you can follow me on facebook and twitter. you can tweet the show. our coverage from helsinki continues with wolf blitzer who's brought "the situation room" to finland. stay with cnn. happening now. breaking news. siding with putin. president trump comes out of his meeting with the russian president and rebukes u.s. intelligence agencies citing putin's strong and powerful denial of interference in the 2016 presidential election. yes, i did. putin confirms the intelligence community's conclusion that he wanted president trump to beat hillary clinton because he says mr. trump wanted to bring u.s. relations with russia back to normal. disgraceful performance. republicans react to the president's remarks with everything from shock to horror to disgust.
including mr. trump's own director of national intelligence and the daughter of his ambassador to russia. and russian agent caught? a russian gun rights activist with links to the national rifle association is charged with being a spy for moscow and infiltrating groups with influence on american politics. i'm wolf blitzer in helsinki. you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news. truly astounding remarks by president trump following his one on one meeting with the russian president vladimir putin. standing on foreign soil, here in helsinki, with putin at his side, the president refused to accept the u.s. intelligence community's assessment that russia attacked the 2016 presidential election. instead, he said that putin was, quote, extremely strong and
powerful in his denial of election interference and tonight the unprecedented scene that unfolded here today is sending shock waves around the globe. we'll talk about all of that. the breaking nulls with senator rand paul of the foreign relations and homeland security committees. he's standing by live and jake sullivan, former foreign policy, national security adviser to both hillary clinton and joe biden and correspondents, specialists and analysts they're also standing by. but first, let's go straight to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, the extraordinary developments continue to unfold tonight. up date our viewers. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. given a chance to confront vladimir putin over election meddling in 2016, the president took a pass today. instead, president trump threw the us intelligence community under the bus and putin drove right over it. vladimir putin could not have
scripted the moment better himself. as president trump tossed aside the u.s. government's conclusion that moscow interfered in the 2016 election and cozied up to the russian leader in a stunning moment mr. trump blamed america, too. >> yes, i do. i hold both countries responsible. i think that the united states has been foolish. i think we have all been foolish. we should have had this dialogue a long time ago. long time, frankly, be before i got to office and i think we're all to blame. >> reporter: the moment played right into putin's hands who continued his denials. >> translator: could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? this is utter nonsense. just like the president recently mentioned. >> reporter: as for the justice department indictment announced late last week accusing 12 russian agents of hacking into e-mails, putden said he would invite investigators with the
mueller team to russia to question officials. >> translator: i don't know the full extent of the situation but the president trump mentioned this issue and i will look into it. >> reporter: russian president did admit one thing, he wanted mr. trump to win in 2016. >> translator: yes, i did. because he talked about bringing the u.s./russia relationship back to normal. >> reporter: as putin offered up to a momento of the world cup, it was clear who was in control of this field. >> melania, here you go. >> reporter: no public confrontation to stop meddling in elections. >> would you denounce what happened in 2016 and warn him never to do it again? >> we have two thoughts. two groups wondering why the fbi never took the server. why haven't they taken the server? why was the fbi told to leave the office of the democratic national committee? >> reporter: the president was all but admitting to take putin's word over the assessment o. intelligence officials. >> i have great yfd confidence y
intelligence people but i will tell you that president putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. >> reporter: touting the years as a kgb agent. >> translator: i like to add something to this. after all, i was an intelligence officer myself. and i do know how dossiers are made up. >> reporter: putin weighed in on perhaps the biggest, lingering question. >> does the russian government have any compromising material on president trump or his family? >> reporter: at first, putin smirked at the question and then laughter broke out and dodged again. >> translator: i did heard this rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on mr. trump when he was visiting moscow. distinguished colleague, i didn't even know that he was in
moscow. i treat him with utmost respect but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in moscow. >> reporter: both leaders quickly left the room with so many unanswered questions in the wake. back in washington, leaders from both parties were shell shocked. senator john mccain said today's press conference is one of the most disgraceful performances by an american president in memory. former president obama cia director brennan tweeted donald trump's press conference performance in helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. it was nothing short of treasonist. gop senator bob corker captured much of the bipartisan disappointment. >> i did not think this was a good moment for our country. >> reporter: for president trump, this was just eat foreign trip of key u.s. allies and warming up to putin as one
senior republican congressional aide put to me, it was shocking to side with putin and an official of the white house put it to me earlier today, people around the president are simply too afraid to disagree with him. wolf, seemed like the president all alone in the views today and didn't seem like america first. more like, russia first. wolf? >> whole situation was truly, truly shocking. jim, thanks for that report. cnn's jake tapper joining us right now here at the sea pool in helsinki. jake, what is your bottom line takeaway from what we saw today? >> the bottom line takeaway is according to democrats and republicans, intelligence agencies, every leader of the intelligence agencies, senators, the house, the senate intelligence and house intelligence committee, russia launched cyberattacks against the united states to interfere in the election. did that to the people of the united states and today president trump sided with
russia over not just the intelligence agencies of the united states but also the people of the united states. he took a kgb officer, a known liar's word for it. why he did so if it had to do with the desire to not be seen as illegitimate, i don't know. i can't really get into that. i'm not a doctor. but i can tell you, on the facts the united states was attacked. and president trump today sided with the enemy. >> how unprecedented is that, especially here on foreign soil? >> it's -- i mean, first of all, we say this about president trump every week i think. doing something unprecedented. it's incredibly unprecedented. also, when's really shocking is there used to be a thing in the country where if a poll sirn didn't try to understand what was special about the united states of america, and the ideals to which we strive, the fact that we don't think of ourselves as brutal, we think of ourselves as at least trying to spread democracy throughout the world, and with the foreign aid we offer, et cetera, president
trump -- used to be if you didn't express belief for that in politics you were dead in the water. president trump doesn't seem to think that there's something special about america. he makes a moral equivalence of the united states does and what russia does. asked today about the tweet saying that the u.s. was to blame for the failure of the relationship to thrive, is there anything that he holds russia accountable for? mention crimea? no. ukraine? no. the poisoning of individuals in the uk? no. he did talk about all of the failures of the united states. and i find that completely bizarre. >> i'm sure his top national security foreign policy military aides were all squirming. they probably even though they worked with him for a long time they couldn't believe what he was doing. >> this is not what ambassador john bolton and national security adviser believes. this is not what retired general
james mattis of defense believes. not what mike pompeo, the secretary of state believes. no, it is not at all. this is what president trump believes. not what his team believes and that's why you have seen the trump administration take actions contrary to russia's desire, providing lethal aid to cr ukrainians or expelling diplomats. president trump has in many ways done it reluctantly. there's a chasm of president trump believes on this issue and what his team of experts believe and today we saw the buck stops where it stops. >> see if there are -- we'll see if there are any resignations. could have been a major turning point. >> in any other administration, there would be resignations and, look, at the end of the day the people out there trying to make a decision of how to be strong? these are the moments of politicians make legacies. they either take a strong stand for something they believe in or
they don't. we remember the attorney general in nixon because he resigned. i doubt we'll see that. this is the time to think about the legacies. >> jake, thanks very much. let's get more on this right now. joining us, republican senator rand paul of kentucky. he's a key member of the both the foreign relations and homeland security committees. senator, thanks so much for joining us. let me get right to the questioning. do you believe that president trump's meeting with putin made america safer? >> you know, i think engagement with our adversaries, conversation with oured isser have shares is a good idea. even in the height of the cold war, maybe the lowest ebb in the midst of the cuban missile crisis, i think it was a good thing to kennedy had a direct line to khrushchev. so i think that it is a good idea to have engagement. and i think that what is lost in
this is that i think there's a bit of trump derangement syndrome and people that hate the president so much that this could have been president obama early in the first administration setting the reset button and trying to have better relations with russia and i think it's lost on people that they're a nuclear power. they have influence in syria. they're in close proximity to the troops in syria. they're close to the peninsula of north korea and may have some influence to help us there. the other thing that's lost and people forget this completely, the russians tried to help us stop the boston mare than bombing and did help them stop a terrorist attack in st. petersburg because we were communicating and exchanging information. to's all good. >> senator? >> people hate trump so much, that's all lost. >> it's not a matter of hating president trump. it's a matter of what he did today, what he said today. he met with a president putin as you know more than two hours. unlike other presidents, especially on foreign soil, he
blamed the united states for the bad relationship with russia. he declined to back his own intelligence community for its assessment. he declined to support the u.s. law enforcement community. >> right. >> including the justice department. he continues -- senator, he continues to call the -- hold on a second. he continues to call the news media a free press in the united states, the enemy of the american people. >> but i think -- wolf? put this in perspective. >> senator, has any other president -- >> i think -- >> done anything like that? >> but i think i would put it in perspective. for example, when you look at the intelligence community, the most recent leaders of the intelligence community, james clapper and john brennan, james clapper perjured himself -- >> i'm talking -- >> i'm talking about -- if you'll let me answer -- >> issued a statement -- >> we can't have much of an interview -- wolf, if you interru interrupt me -- >> i want to be precise.
it's coats and pompeo. >> you're usually better than this, wolf. you need to allow the respondent to respond. >> go ahead. >> it does matter who was in charge of the intelligence because they started up this and ginned up this thing going after the president saying he committed collusion with russia. no evidence of that and continues to go on. who start third degree? james clapper who lied to the senate. yet they were collecting all of our information and housing it in utah. john brennan has now -- let me finish. john brennan accused the president of treason. this is john brennan who voted for the communist party as a young man. now thinks he's holy than anybody else and collected the americans information and the people -- >> all right. >> i'm concerned used the bias against president trump and absolutely with the president on this. the intelligence community was full of biassed people including peter strzok, mccabe and dozens of others. >> and so, and so what about
mike pompeo and dan coats? who both say there is no doubt that russia interfered, attacked the united states during the presidential election? >> right. >> did they vote for communists when they were young? >> what i would say is i don't think anybody doubts that the russians got involved with leaking e-mail and hacking into e-mail. but there is a question of whether or not the election was legitimate and all of this is a sideways way for those on the left to try to delegitize trump. and at the expense of receiving money from people like the sultan of brunei and what happened is everybody now says the russians, the only reason trump is president is because of the russians. you can see how he takes that personally and, frankly, i don't think anybody from kentucky --
nearly 80% of the vote in the mountains and i don't think anybody was influenced by the russians. they didn't like hillary clinton because she wanted to kill the coal industry in the state. >> senator, senator, we have known each other for a long time. interviewed on many occasions. let's put up on the screen what dan coats, the director of national intelligence, a former republican senator, a former u.s. ambassador to germany, russia definitely did try to influence the campaign. that's what he said. chris wray, the fbi director, named by the president, i have no reason whatever to doubt -- >> here, wolf. >> hold on. hold on. mike pompeo, all of them said exactly the same thing. >> i would put this in perspective, wolf. dove levine looked at this and from 1946 to 2000. and he found 81 times that the u.s. meddled. 36 times of the soviet union. it doesn't make it right and said it before and will say it
again. any country that can spy does and any country to meddle in foreign elections does. we have elevated this to a higher degree and we have made this all about the sour grapes of hillary clinton losing the election and it's all about partisan politics now. this is truly the trump derangement syndrome that motivates all of this. >> senator, senator, i got to disagree with you. i know dan coats disagrees with you, as well. i'll read the statement after the president's news conference with putden. listen to this and then a chance to respond. we have been clear in our assessments of russian meddling in the 2016 election and they're ongoing pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy and we'll continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of the national security. go ahead, respond to your former colleague. >> i don't disagree with anything said there. i would say instead of making this about everything's about trump and accusing trump of
collusion with the russians and craziness that's not true, try to protect the integrity of our elections. nobody is talking about protecting the integrity of the elections. how would you protect the integrity of the elections? make sure they're decentralized. controls from the precinct on up and not storing the data where there aren't checks and balances. there are ways to make sure that the election is not tampered with and also important to say that the russians meddled, hacked into hillary clinton's e-mail, revealed truths about her. i an gree.agree. >> senator? >> we should guard against that. >> who do you trust, american intelligence community, the american law enforcement community or vladimir putin? >> what i would say is that all power needs to have checks and balances and i think our intelligence community way too much power. the fact that peter strzok was able to bring incredible bias
towards the president -- >> who do you believe? who do you believe? >> that's not the question. the right question is, should that power be unchecked or should you have a judicial system that says, you know what? >> i understand what you're saying. but -- >> you have to have warrants, checks and balances on intelligence. >> but who do you believe? the intelligence community of the united states or putin? >> i'm not discounting the allegations that the russians hacked into hillary clinton's e-mails. i'm not discounting that at all. >> so, so why don't you just say you believe in the intelligence community, the law enforcement -- you accept their assessments and move on? let me read a tweet that newt gingrich just put out. and i'll read it to you right now. president trump must clarify his statements in helsinki on our intelligence system and putin. it is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected immediately. do you agree with gingrich?
>> no. i think people have gotten over top on this and lost the big picture. the big picture is that we should be engaged with russia, should have conversations with russia. we have serious conflicts in various parts of the globe. it would be a mistake not to have open lines of communication with them. and i can tell you what i have told the russians who were here in the united states when i conversed with them. hacking into the election if they did it and all likelihood the evidence looks like they did it's backfired because it's made relations worse and to have better relations, there should be incentive to not do it again and my hope is that we'll push the issue and that over time -- >> so -- >> those incentives will be apparent. >> i know there's a little delay. occasionally it might be awkward. bottom line, senator. do you believe that what president trump did today here in helsinki was good? >> i think it was a great idea and a good idea to meet with the
russians and engagement, conversations and to make sure that we don't accidentally stumble into war. >> everybody, everybody agrees it's good to have good relations with russia, a dialogue with russia. but do you believe it was good that the president of the united states threw his intelligence community under the bus and sided with putin? >> yeah. i don't see it that way at all but many democrats have come forward and they basically want a confrontation. they suggested that he not meet with putin. so really, the question of to meet or not meet, almost democrat on your program and other programs said he shouldn't meet with putin. that's a kind of sort of i think simplistic thinking that leads to war. we should have conversation even with the adversaries, probably most particularly with the adversaries. >> i got to tell you, senator, not just democrats. it's a bunch of fellow republicans who think it was a mistake, especially now with hindsight and i also have to tell you based on everything we are hearing a lot of own
national security, military and diplomatic personnel, they agree this was a huge blunder on the part of the president of the united states to exit from this meeting with putin the way he did. it's going to cause enormous, enormous grief for the president and his administration but i'm grateful to you as usual for joining us and expressing your views. thank you very much. senator rand paul remaining silent in the aftermath of that. appreciate it very much. the breaking news continues. we'll have much more on president trump's siding with vladimir putin today on russia's election attack. tonight "the washington post" saying, quoting now, the president just colluded with russia. plus, the woman just charged by the u.s. with spying for russia. we're l we're learning new information about her tonight, as well. all of this is related.
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! the breaking news this hour. shock, disbelief and disgust. even among many republicans after president trump with vladimir putin standing at his side here in helsinki refused to accept the u.s. intelligence community's finding that russia attacked the united states during the 2016 presidential election. the president not only sided with putin but blamed what he called foolish behavior by the u.s. for the current poor state of relations with russia. joining us now, jake sullivan, a foreign policy expert, served as a top adviser to both hillary clinton and former vice president joe biden. jake, thank you very much for joining us. as you know, the president was
asked if he holds russia accountable for anything as far as these allegations are concerned. i want you to watch his response. >> i hold both countries responsible. i think that the united states has been foolish. i think we have all been foolish. we should have this dialogue a long time ago. a long time, frankly, before i got to office and i think we're all to blame. i do feel that we have both made some mistakes. i think that the probe is a disaster for our country. i think it's kept us apart. it's kept us separated. there was no collusion at all. everybody knows it. people are being brought out to the fore. so far, that i know, virtually none of it related to the campaign and will have to try hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. i beat hillary clinton easily and, frankly, we beat her and
i'm not even saying from the standpoint we won that race and it's a shame that there could be a little bit of a cloud over it. people know that. people understand it. but the main thing and we discussed this, also, is zero collusion. and it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. we have 90% of nuclear power between the 2 countries. it's ridiculous. it's ridiculous what's going on with the probe. >> all right. jake, have you heard a u.s. president speak like that? >> wolf, that was an unbelievable display. a president of the united states, the leader of the free world, goes to a summit with the russian president and his job is to stand up for the american people and to stand up for american interests. and donald trump threw both of those things under the bus in that answer and in his broader performance today. i would like to say it's
surprising. it is not surprising but that doesn't make it any less shocking for us to see the united states of america represented by a man who's so pe petulent and pitiful as to put in a performance like today. >> the president continues to demand information on hillary clinton's server, the missing e-mails, you worked on the 2016 hillary clinton presidential election campaign. how does it feel to see the president make that demand next to man that perpetrated that cyber attack on the campaign? the democratic national committee and the democratic national campaign committee? >> if you watch president putin in the various exchanges today, he could barely contain the glee. he is getting everything he wanted out of this president and more. hillary clinton two years ago in the campaign made a comment in one of the debates about how trump was going to serve as putin's puppet. at the time it seemed like rhetoric but it's reality. what putin wants at the end of
the day is to for the united states to help him weaken nato and undermine europe. trump did that for him. he wants the american president to create a moral equivalence of the united states and russia. trump did that for him. he wants the american president to give him impunity for attacks on american democracy to keep attacking us and trump did that for him today. so, you know, they can barely contain their excitement in russia today and for the rest of us who care deeply about america's national security and even more importantly about the values that make this country great it's a very sad day. >> the president spoke about the director of national intelligence, dan coats, laying out american intelligence on that cyberattack. and the president says that he trusts coats and putin equally. could you believe your ears? >> in a way i could because trump has been saying something along these lines since he became president. he's engaged in a tactic that
people call what about ism. saying something negative about russia, trump's immediate response to say, well yeah? america's just as bad if not worse and heard that senator paul in the previous segment and picked up this tick of president trump's. but it's really the job of the american president not to go defend and apologize for russia but rather to defend and stand up for the united states of america. so today was the most extreme form of actually something that we have seen from president trump ever since he stepped foot in the oval office. >> do you think director coats should resign? >> you know, i'm always very cautious about calling for an official like director coats to go ahead and resign. i think that's a very difficult call but i have to say that given where things have gone today, given the fact that in front of a country that attacked american democracy and continues to do so the president of the united states said he believes the russian president over the
intelligence community, the right thing to do is send a message saying he could not serve this president. >> i suspect a lot of officials are thinking about doing precisely that. will russia feel emboldened to continue the cyberattacks on the united states going into the midterm in elections? >> it is more than feeling emboldened. i mean, there's no doubt putin feels emboldened after today and go back and tell the gru, russian intelligence yunits to unleash the dogs. go for it. the american president more or less given me green light and not just what trump said or didn't say in the summit today but doing or not doing about the actual interference. he has not given any direction to any of his national security agencies to actually stop this from happening going forward. senator paul in the previous segment said no one's talking about the actual threat to our election systems. actually, the fact is that a lot of people talking about it.
the one person who's not is the person in charge of making sure it doesn't happen again and that's donald trump. >> jake sullivan, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. let's get the insights of experts here in helsinki and in washington. it's really an awful situation. john kirby, served -- retired u.s. admiral, served as a spokesman. listen to how the president phrased some of these most sensitive issues. listen to this. >> i hold both countries responsible. i think that the united states has been foolish. i think we have all been fo foolish. we should have had this dialogue a long time ago. i do feel we have both made some mistakes. i think that the probe is a disaster for our country. i think it's kept us apart. it's kept us separated. there was no collusion. at all. that was a clean campaign.
i beat hillary clinton easily, zero collusion. and it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. it's ridiculous. it's ridiculous what's going on with the probe. it came out as a reason why the democrats lost an election. which, frankly, they should have been able to win just to say it one time again and i say it all the time. there was no collusion. i didn't know the president. there was nobody to collude with. we have two thoughts. you have groups that are wondering why the fbi never took the server. why haven't they taken the server? why was the fbi told to leave the office of the democratic national committee? all i can do is ask the question. my 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 have confidence in both parties. i really believe that this will probably go on for a while but i don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. what happened to hillary clinton's e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone. just gone. i think in russia they wouldn't be gone so easily. i think it's a disgrace we can't get hillary clinton's 33,000 e-mails. so i have great confidence in my intelligence people. but i will tell you that president putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. >> all right. john, what do you make of the president's remarks, especially that final remark that president putin extremely strong and powerful in his denial today? the commander in chief uttering those words, here in helsinki on foreign soil. >> yeah. wolf, i'm still too shocked today to be angry. the disgrace is really -- i
can't believe i'm going to say this but the disgrace is our commander in chief right now today. 30 years in the navy. my first deployment here in these waters trying to chase down and hunt soviet submarines. and when you think about all -- all of the lives put at risk over the last 30 years in our fight against communism, in the cold war and quite frankly in the last 10 years against russia's maligned activities, if you don't think it contributed to the loss of american lives you're fooling yourself, because of the support of iran, given to the syrian army. and the syrian -- in the syrian president. they have, in fact, helped cause the loss of american lives and what he did today is standing up there, taking the side of president putin against his own intelligence community and, by the way, national security team who clearly doesn't feel the way he does about russia. to me, that was a disgrace.
>> yeah. and the law enforcement community, the fbi, the justice department. >> absolutely. >> all of the above. tony, your reaction? >> like everyone else, you know, you feel like a cartoon character whose head is spinning around and around 360 degrees. this is the world turned upside down. the president presented with a compelling detailed indictment from mueller. he was then presented with his own director of national intelligence telling him and telling us that not only did it happen in 2016 but continues today. the system is plaflashing red a he embraces putin and criticizes the investigators, allies and says we are to blame for the bad relationship of russia. wolf, i hope where it goes now -- where do we go from here? i would hope that when the president and team get home that the senior leaders in congress demand he debrief them on what he said to putin president in the one on one and congress calls to testify ideally in public and the secretary and state and others to testify to
tell the american people what actually went on in helsinki. that's where we need to go from here. >> fred pleitgen, you're based in moscow. here in helsinki with us. how are the russians reacting? >> taking a victory lap. sergei lavrov, the foreign minister, came out and said that the meeting mag ninificent, bet than good. the russian state tv have a symbol, a hand with a russian flag and a hand with the u.s. flag joining hands and obviously saying, look, this is a stepp g steppingstone of better relations which they think is going on and then analysts and politicians in russia flat-out praising president trump for some of the things he's said. i want to listen to a senior lawmaker said shortly after the summit was over. listen. >> translator: trump, the whole time he's been around, never said that word that would be
offensive to russia, president putin and the relations. i'm sure trump found common ground with putin and grateful to putin in many ways for the position he takes. >> grateful. that's a senior lawmaker in russia and president putin actually, wolf, he come out and given an interview with russian state tv, the first channel in russia saying good meetings with president trump, president trump is a very skilled individual and someone who's willing to listen so you can see the happiness in moscow right now. >> julie is with us, as well. what are you hearing from inside the trump administration? so many officials must have been so confused, so disgruntled. this was not i take it part of the plan. >> well, this was not part of the plan and i think a lot of people are upset about the way this played out. i'm not sure they're surprised, though. i think there was a lot of sen going in that just this sort of
thing could happen. they knew that president trump was very keen to meet with mr. putin. they knew that he doesn't like to take detailed briefings. it's difficult to sort of map out a conversation that's going to happen between him and another leader. because this president likes to be spontaneous. no advisers in the room other than the interpreters and not clear to them what was said. so i think there were a lot of concerns going in that this would play out this way. i think they also acknowledge that vladimir putin was going to get somewhat of a boost just by being with president trump and they were determined to sort of limit the damage to make sure he wouldn't offer concession and wouldn't come out and have an embarrassing display and for some of them they're feeling like that's what happened today and on the plane on the way back to washington i'm told some aides and the president himself were quite upset. >> i'm sure they were and for good reason. everybody stand by. we're following another breaking development as we follow the president here in helsinki. now aboard air force one flying
back to joint base andrews outside of washington, d.c. there's another major story involving russia that's now broken back in washington. a russian woman is under arrest accused of being a foreign agent who was trying to infiltrate organizations in the united states and to try to influence u.s. politics. i want to bring in cnn's political correspondent sara murray working the story for us. first of all, what do we know about this woman? >> wolf, the woman is a 29-year-old russian citizen. she was arrested here in washington, d.c. on sunday. previously, government agents raided we believe her home and collected evidence against her in this case and as you pointed out they accused her essentially of being a russian spy. and infiltrating organizations in order to try to promote russian views and she had deep ties, for instance, the national rifle association. now, according to cnn's previous reporting as well as some of the allegations that prosecutors are putting out today, she tried to use these ties to foster back
channel communications between russian president vladimir putin as well as the republican party. we also know that she worked with her mentor who was alexander torsion, a russian official sanctioned by the american government for a back channel communication of russian president vladimir putin and then candidate donald trump. we don't believe that they were successful in that. based on what we know so far but obviously we can see that this is a woman operating in the u.s. for years now. this is someone the government has been keeping track of and their now saying not just a woman who was running a gun rights organization in russia, what she was proclaiming to have done and learn about gun rights in the u.s. fostering the ties with the national rifle association. in fact, operating as a russian agent here on u.s. soil at least according to the documents we are getting today from the justice department, wolf. >> and there's a statement that her lawyer has put out. is that right?
>> that's right. her lawyer insisted she is not a russian agent. her lawyer goes on to say there's simply no indication of her seeking to influence or under mine a specific law or policy of the united states but only to promote a better relationship of the two nations and just wanted to foster better ties of the united states and that's certainly something she told a number of americans she met with here on u.s. soil, wolf. >> thank you for that report. we'll follow up and continue to watch the fallout of that. right now, the political fallout of everything that happened here in helsinki today. gloria borger, does this expand our understanding of the scope of russian interference in american politics, specifically the charges leveled against this russian woman? >> well, look, wolf. you know, this apparently was not referred by the mueller investigation. this is a separate
investigation. and if this woman is doing what they say she was doing, you see the tentacles here spreading. that it isn't only the large amount that mueller is looking at. but, you know, there were people everywhere trying to infiltrate, trying to set up meetings between president putin and donald trump and you have to continue to ask the questions particularly after the president's performance today standing next to vladimir putin why do these people think that would be pushing against an open door? we don't know the answer to that question yet. but after today's performance with the president, a lot more people are going to be asking it. >> let me bring in fred pleitgen in the conversation. you cover russia for us. what's the feeling you're getting, the charges leveled against the russian woman in washington? >> we have been following the case of maria butina for a while with alexander torsion quite
high up and trying to get the meetings with president trump and then propose possibly in the campaign trail to try to meet with vladimir putin. they were clearly trying to do that for a while. we have now found out that the russians demanding counselor access to her and a fairly senior russian lawmaker acknowledging that they were going to give her help, whatever this means. only very limited amount to do because she is in detention in the united states right now and clearly this is a case that is pretty high up on the agenda of the russians and there are some voices in russia who are saying this is something politicized, on the eve of the summit. they believe it might be retribution for the authorities feeling angry about the things said in the press conference and you can tell it's a case of high priority in the russian government. >> you notice putin asked specifically whether russia has compromising information, as far as the president is concerned, he sort of dodged that question.
>> a little bit. he said, look. so many people come to russia, business people, why would russia focus on it? in the press conference he said he's talking from the position of having been a kgb agent, trying to get more clout that way. he also said that there had been an economic forum in russia where there were 500 american business people and impossible to keep track of all of them and also why would russia do that? he then sort of tried to laugh it off and there was no flat-out no we don't have anything. >> that's very interesting, jim. the notion that putin -- i think fair to say he tried to dodge that very, very sensitive question which so many people are focusing on. >> would have been easy for the russian president to eliminate that as a possibility when, in fact, you saw the russian president there, former agent, relishing a number of moments which supporting his agenda. right? american president when's repeating russian talking points about the interference, about
the investigation undermining his own agencies as he is undermined allies in the days proceeding this summit. so on that point, why would he eliminate doubt to that? because it serves the interest to keep that hanging out there as do so many of these things and someone in president trump, whatever the motivations in effect repeating those talking points wholesale and it really is remarkable sometimes with the same phraseology calling the investigation, the probe of russian interference in the election unfounded. et cetera. something that the russian president said and that's why it's particularly remarkable moment yesterday when the russian foreign minister, the russian equivalence of the state department, tweeted out it agreed with the assessment of u.s. mistakes, u.s. stupidity in fact, the president said, that's as responsible for bad relations as anything. >> you know, chris, the
president clearly wanted to send a message that he has serious doubts about his own administration, about his own intelligence community, didn't he? >> yes! in short, wolf. look. if you read the transcript of that press conference, donald trump says, look, director of national intelligence dan coats told me one thing. russia did it. vladimir putin said strongly he didn't. i don't know why they would. that's his -- that's sort of those three things follow on one another. hard to read that and conclude other than donald trump believes vladimir putin. rather than dan coats. now, why is the bigger question. most obvious why to it because donald trump can't get -- he can't see the forest through the trees. he is incapable of understanding that is that he saying that russia interfered in the election and didn't hurt hillary clinton, he's still the
president. his inability to grasp that sews chaos. what russia was trying to do in their meddling is sew iing instability. >> this press conference the president had today was the worst mistake of his presidency. and i think he's going to have to find a way to figure out what he does next. because in talking to people on capitol hill, we heard from chuck schumer today, they're calling for people to testify. maybe they're going to ask for the notes of the translate to be, maybe their want to know what happened because the spectacle of the president of the united states standing next to putin saying we did bad
things, you did bad things, is something that congress has to react against, and maybe this will do it. >> and the russians, by the way, if you know, they have a word that oh, you accuse us of bad behavior but here's the mistake you made. here's trump once again using a russian talking point that serves russian interests not u.s. interests. >> stand by, we're hearing from many observers that are saying that vladimir putin got exactly what he wanted in the summit and the press conference afterwards. brian has checked with some of the experts, what are they telling you? >> experts are telling us that the details of mueller's indictment of russian spies is
that putin's spy network was infiltrated pretty extensively by u.s. intelligence. vladimir putin in public, confidently denies meddling in america's elections. >> translator: russia has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in u.s. affairs including its elections. >> reporter: but putin could be very worried tonight. mueller's indictment of 12 military intelligence officers reveals details on how putin's spy network could have been infiltrated by u.s. intelligence. >> being an intelligence officer himself will not look kindly on the fact that his officers were caught, the gru officers were caught. >> reporter: the indictment includes certain details of the russian spies, name, unit numbers, titles, street addresses where they work.
a lieutenant colonel major saw a unit within 26165, including development of malware, including a tool used by the gru known as x agent. >> concerning who and when and what and where they developed this tool for use is -- >> reporter: the indictment identifies another hacking tool called x tunnel, it pinpoints certain russians hacks. they used it to hide their tracks. american investigators even knew who the russians were googling, even cyber search terms. threat connect which helps identify russian hackers such as goo goocifer 2.0.
>> the fact that the dccc was hacked and that's is way the hackers got into the dnc in the first place, which we didn't know before. and in addition, the tools that were used, and the fact that they persisted into the fall of 2016 were all new details from this indictment. >> reporter: intelligence experts say putin is now doing a damage assessment to find out how the u.s. infiltrated their spy networks. they will learn from this and come back at the u.s. >> because of what putin did for the 2016 presidential elections, it's hard to believe they won't do it again for 2018. he's never going to extradite
those indicted russians spies to the u.s. it's just a green light the president was looking for. wolf. >> brian todd reporting for us. the breaking news continues, next president trump sides with russia over his own intelligence agency. sending shockwaves around the world. tonight one top republican is calling it the worst mistake of his presidency.
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disaster for our country, as he u bashed -- heading for the exit. the director of national intelligence is rejecting the assessment of putin and russian interference. will other top administration officials call it quits after being rolled over by their boss. and putin's pushover. even republicans are warning that president trump looked embarrassingly week. how far would president trump go to turn a very dangerous u.s. foe into a friend. we want to welcome those in the united states and around the world. # .