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for me to share it. it's hard. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. a very good morning to all of you. i'm alex witt here in new york at msnbc world headquarters, 7:00 a.m. in the east, a quick 4:00 a.m. in the west. protests in helsinki, you are seeing them live where the president will be arriving about seven hours from now. why the world appears to be rallying against the president. what do they want? president trump is hours away from the summit in helsinki with vladimir putin. his objective is still unclear. >> this is the time for the president to stand-up for america. >> what does putin want from the u.s. president?
plus, the big question as robert mueller tries to wrap up the investigation. the new report out, were any americans involved? we begin with a protest in helsinki, finland where president trump and putin will meet for their summit. that will be under way in 24 hours from now, precisely. there's more from the president on the significance of this meeting, however stopping short of what he expected from it. here is a clip from the interview this morning. >> what is your goal from the putin meeting? >> i'll let you know after the meeting. i have absolutely agreed to have a meeting. it's a good thing to meet. i believe in meeting. nothing bad is going to come out of it. maybe some good will come out. i'm going in with low expectations. i can't tell you what's going to happen. i can tell you what i would be asking for and we'll see if
something comes of it. >> the private one-on-one meeting without anyone else present. here is what was said on the russian channel rt. >> president putin understands english. he prefers to use the interpreters. >> no other aides in the room? you will not be in the room? >> that's the way it stands now that's what the american side proposed. we agreed. >> let's go to bill who is in helsinki and, again, the organizers are expecting thousands to rally against the president's visit. bill, it looks like things are getting under way. the president doesn't arrive for another seven hours or so, but what is the situation where you are? >> reporter: good morning, alex. from helsinki, the capital of finland, on the shores of the
baltic sea, more like a summer festival here than a protest. it's interesting to note, i just walked around. there are as many signs against vladimir putin, as against donald trump. there's a good protest for human rights. they see an equal threat in moscow as they do in washington. look, this is the backdrop to an absolutely extraordinary summit, extraordinary because of the clips you just heard. president trump clearly not sure what his goals might be. you know, it reminds me very much of the summit we had in singapore where it was mostly a symbol rather than substance. it's been that the risk is. that summit and this one are great and the benefits are not absolutely clear. of course this comes off the back of the indictments of 12 russian intelligence officers for interfering in the american
democratic process. as you say, president trump was asked about that and whether he would bring that up with president putin. here is his latest response. take a listen. >> the russians were indicted. would you ask putin to send them here? >> i might. i hadn't thought of that. certainly, i would be asking about it. again, this is during the obama administration. they were doing whatever it was during the obama administration. i heard they were trying or people were trying to hack into the rnc, too, the republican national committee, but we had much better defenses. i had been told that by a number of people. i think the dnc should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. >> reporter: there you have in that clip, what many people are worried about, president trump and vladimir putin will agree, the obama administration was a
very bad thing and, actually, donald trump would rub his shoulder and move on once vladimir putin says no, no, i have nothing to do, officially, with the hacking of the american democratic process. that's one of many, many worries. the summit will begin when the two of them sit down without note takers or advisers and just translaters there. donald trump said this would be the easiest part of his european tour after that meeting with nato allies after a meeting with britain's prime minister, theresa may. i don't think this will be the easiest part. this is a president who has been up against the russian leader. it will, above all, be political theater, alex. >> it will, indeed. an amnesty driven crowd behind
you. we have the congressional reporter for "washington post" and world call. good morning to you both. the president's comments about his expectations from this putin summit. does that tell you anything about the agenda, what will be on the table, what to be discussed and the flip side, if there is none, how unusual is that? >> it is very unusual, given the circumstances leading up to this meeting. it is unusual, you know, certainly by past standards of past u.s. presidents and the way they have prepared for these meetings. it's not unusual for trump, because this is the way he approached a lot of diplomatic meetings. he's doing it on the fly. there are a lot of questions going into this meeting. we heard, you know, from the president a few minutes ago, he's not answering those questions. there are a lot of americans wondering, is he going to press vladimir putin on extraditing
the 12 russians who were indicted by the special counsel? is he going to press him on past meddling and press him on whether russia is planning to disrupt the elections this year? these are the questions that a lot of americans have, a lot of members of congress have. we don't know whether he's going raise this, how he's going to raise this, how aggressively he is going to press putin on these things. there's a lot of unanswered questions about what is going to come out of the meeting and what is going to be pushed to the side. >> to that point, kate, as for the president, he says he is going to say, afterward, what his goal is. does that surprise you? >> it is surprising. i mean, i guess like sean said, you shouldn't be surprised with president trump's style and whatnot, but it is surprising in that, you know, he is setting low expectations for the summit. he's basically saying we'll see
what happens. he specifically said in the quote you just put out that he has low expectations. he does not have high expectations for this. he's not really building up the level of drama like we have seen with other meetings that the president has engaged in. >> kate, i guess the question is, how much of this is expected to be a summit versus a photo-op? the president went against his advisers, demanded the rituals, pageantry of a formal summit, with no agenda. so, ultimately, what do you think the expectations are to come out of this, substantive or something we just sort of percolate along with? >> i thought, as of now, this is a one-on-one meeting. it's just the two leaders. so, you know, as far as substance and agenda, you know, democratic senators have asked that, you know, other diplomats
and other officials be included. that's not what the two leaders want. it's just the two of them talking. we have no idea what they are going to say and what is going to come out of this. president trump put the blame on these hackers of the democratic national committee, he put the blame on the dnc and the obama administration. >> yeah. we know one hour with the two president's meeting, sbrerp rhetters only, then other officials in for two hours. that is the latest read on that before the bilateral news c conference 9:30 tomorrow. lavrov said the u.s. requested the meeting be one-on-one. the interpretation of that, why would the president want it that way? >> i's a good question. we'll see if trump responds to that and says what his expectations of the terms of the meeting going in. what this does is creates
uncertainty coming out of the meeting. vladimir putin can, afterward, present the meeting in a different light from trump, if he wants to. there's nobody else in the room from the u.s. side, at least, in terms of a diplomatic aide or top white house aide. it's difficult for the president to rebut what he's saying. there are different accounts of what they did agree to or didn't agree to, what was discussed. you can understand why there are some concerns from lawmakers about why this type of setting is potentially dangerous when dealing with somebody as unpredictable as vladimir putin. >> kate, i'm going to a letter from a group of senators that sent the president a note and they urged him to not meet alone with putin. what about the other things in that letter? what do you make of it? >> right. that was the top thing. they don't support the summit at
all. they don't want them to -- they don't want the president to agree to something that is completely against, you know, u.s. interest or what have you. they also have asked president trump to take a really hard line in defense of, you know, the united states and our election integrity and so forth. they are asking him to take a hard line with vladimir putin. >> one key thing in this letter, as i read through it, mr. putin is a trained kgb intelligence veteran that will come to the meeting well prepared. are there expectations that this president has been well prepared for this? >> you know, president trump likes to build drama, do things on the fly. we don't have indication he is deeply prepared for this. he's not stating what the goal is, setting low expectations. >> sean, a read from you? >> when you listen to president
trump, he's phrasing it as an informal chat rather than a formal summit. >> we are going to have more from you later on. meanwhile, what the next guest says trump shouldn't be happy talk. ) okay you gotta be kidding me. hold on, don't worry, there's another way. directions to the greek theater. (beep) ♪can i get a connection? ♪can i get can i get a connection?♪ ♪ohhh can i get a connection? ♪trying find the old me
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joining me now, michael mcfall, msnbc international affairs analyst, the awe thor of "from cold war to hot peace" the inside story of russia and america. i'm glad to get your insights on these matters. with you being in helsinki, tell me what the expectations are ahead of this meeting. >> reporter: well, the expectations are very low on both sides. in russia, if you look at the russian media, all they want is a photo-op. they want it to be a happy meeting. like wise on president trump's side, they really haven't said there's any agenda. they are not trying to get anything done. they are trying to have a first formal meeting with vladimir putin. >> it's been said that the president overruled his advisers in making this a formal summit, the pomp and circumstance.
does that raise expectations? >> it's a bad idea. there was no reason for this. trump initiated this to feel like a summit meeting in a third country like we are doing in helsinki. by doing that, it suggests we are moving on, president trump forgot about the fact putin annexed crimea from ukraine. he propped up a dictator with assad and violated our sovereignty in 2016. i hope president trump comes to helsinki to talk about this, but i fear he is so anxious to get along with him, he is going to forget about the past and talk about how great it is to be in helsinki. >> lavrov confirms trump and putin are meeting one-on-one. listen to him. >> there will be no other aides in the room? you will not be in the room?
>> the way things stand, no. that's what the united states proposed and we are polite people, so we agreed. >> why this one-on-one hour aside from interpreters? no cabinet members or advisers. why? >> well, i used to work with foreign minister lavrov and noted it was the american initiative to do that. he is making sure we all understand that. i think it's a mistake. listen, president putin has been in for almost 20 years. he's met with four presidents. me knows it. president trump has only been at the job a year and a half. i think it's a mistake for him to role into the meeting with putin, one-on-one, to talk about the things putin knows better than mr. trump does. >> the democrats are warning the president via this letter, asking him to reconsider this
meeting. it looks like that is not going to happen. mr. putin is a trained kgb agent. it absolutely suits him. there must be other americans in the room. think about what could possibly go wrong in a one-on-one hour there? >> first, i want to underscore how unusual it is. i attended six meetings with putin when i was in the government with president obama and other officials. there was always another official in the room, it was me. you at least want a note taker. if you don't have a record of it, mr. putin might jam president trump on issues he doesn't know well and read it out to the press to say, oh, we agreed, for instance, that america is going to leave syria in return for something. again, i think it's a big mistake and i hope it's shorter than one hour. >> big picture timing, the
summit is three days after 12 russian agents were indicted. listen to what the president said after he was briefed on those indictments. take a listen. >> we are competitors, not friend or enemy. he's not my enemy. hopefully, some day, maybe he'll be a friend. >> what is it? is he trying to play a charm offensive? >> i don't understand it. lebron james and seth curry are competitors. let's be clear, we are not competitors with them. there's russian military officers that did that. i don't understand why president trump thinks by using words like friends that he's going to get president putin to get in a concession. there's no history whatsoever that works with putin.
>> this issue, also, is, a, we have not seen putin make comments on this. b, he has not canceled the summit on his end. what is he going to get from this and he will be posed a question from the president about the indictments? >> i think president putin is confident it will be a softball question. did you violate our sovereignty, he is going to say no and they are going to move on. what president putin gets out is by violating our sovereignty during our election and crimea and many other things, president trump is going to stand next to him and say, we are not friends. that's the giant victory from helsinki. >> thank you. good to see you.
by the way, how hot is it there in helsinki. >> it is warm and very loud. i don't know if you noticed, we have a conference for democracy and human rights going on behind us. >> there are going to be ten demonstrates today, anti-trump dm dpl demonstrations. and had twin boys. but then one night, a truck didn't stop. but thanks to our forester, neither did our story. and that's why we'll always drive a subaru.
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the white house ramping up fights with news organizations cancelling an interview that john bolton was supposed to have with jake tapper this morning. disrespect to the president and prime minister into the rewarding bad behavior, we decided to reprioritize tv appearances. so, look at this in terms of
first amendment perspective on this, how big of a deal is it? >> when we step back and take back the situation, it is very unusual in terms of what we have seen and the way the president and white house dealt with the press to see such a public show of antagonism and specific reporter. we haven't seen anything like this before. >> can they unify in any way to help colleagues in these situations? >> certainly is a campaign with, you know, reporters to show solidarity, you know, with one another. everyone sort of working on the same, you know, backdrop of protecting the first amendment and bringing news to people. so, yes, obviously, there are ways that reporters can show solidarity with one another, but i think this shows that, you know, this is part of the -- the basically war between, you know, conservatives and what they do
as the mobile media. >> all right. sean and kate, thank you so much for your input this morning. appreciate that. for all of you, that's going to do it with me. at the top of the hour, we have politics nation with reverend al sharpton. meantime, you"your business" is joining us next. at bulk to prot. because it's made differently. the super absorbent core quickly turns liquid to gel, for drier protection that's a lot less bulky. looks like good things really do come in small packages. always discreet. for bladder leaks. after a scratch so small rocket you could fix it with a pen. how about using that pen to sign up for new insurance instead? for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise their rates because of their first accident. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ directv gives you more for your thing. if you've been waiting for a sign to quit cable,
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