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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  July 6, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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for the mystery of where earhart's plane ended up. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. just one of those things we all want to know. you know what? we probably never will. thanks for joining us. "ac 360" is next. good evening. john berman in here for anderson. perhaps the only growth industry in the united states the president will not be touting anytime soon, russian spy. here at home on the rise. a new twist as president trump gets ready to meet his russian counterpart which happens to be russia's former top spy and may have ordered intelligence operations aimed at getting him elected. today president trump issued a strong statement yet, but included russian meddling in the u.s. election as part of it. that's the reality tonight in hamburg, germany, on the eve of president trump's first formal meeting with vladimir putin at
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the g20 summit to take place with protesters marching, allies seeking reaffirming. cnn has learned even with all the attention, the reporting, the hearings, the fbi probe, intelligence officials are concerned that russian has accelerated its spying given the intelligence community which the president slighted today even more to do. more on putin, the summit, the president's resistance, all of it tonight. first, pamela brown on the stepped-up spying. pamela, what have you learned? >> we've learned russian spies are ramping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the united states, according to current and former u.s. intelligence officials who noticed this increase since the election. so it appears, john, the russians have not been slowed by retaliatory efforts after it meddled in the u.s. election according to the u.s. intelligence community. and since the election, john, u.s. authorities have detected
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an uptick in suspected russian intelligence officers entering the united states under the guise of other business. officials say they believe russia is trying to replenish their ranks since the u.s. expelled spies last december. some cases russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence gathering efforts. the fbi, which is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the u.s. would not comment for this story, and the russian embassy in washington didn't respond for comment either. >> so if this is known to u.s. intelligence, pamela, and they're seeing it, why aren't they stong it? >> that is the big question. first of all, you know, even after the meddling in the u.s. elections in 2016, both the obama and trump administrations have been slow to take measures to respond to the intelligence threat. according to current and former u.s. officials, partisan political disagreements over the russian activity about russian's
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meddling in the election has slowed efforts to counter this threat. also, we're told from -- by russian experts that russia wants to ramp up spying when it has someone new in office, an adversary government, someone who they view as unpredictable, they want to have as much intelligence as they can. we're told counterintelligence is seeking to keep an eye on the activity as much as it can. in some cases the fbi uses surveillance to track the suspected russian intelligence officers, and that's how the u.s. was able to identify and expel the 35 russian diplomats accused of spying last december, in response to russian meddling. we're told some of the diplomating have violated protocol by leaving the washington, d.c., area without notifying the state department. that's been a big concern for those in the intelligence community. russia, by the way, has similar rules in place for u.s. diplomats in russia. as another issue, an ongoing frustration with the state department over granting of visas to people the u.s. intelligence community suspects
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are intelligence officers. state department official would not comment specifically on the visas. >> pamela, fascinating reporting. thank you so much. if the russians are taking advantage of america's inaction, would it deter the refusal of the president to say hoe's certain the russians meddled in the election. in warsaw, the president once again hedged on the hacking. jim acosta has the latest on that and the president's other remarks. jim joins us now. jim, what exactly did the president have to say about russian interference in 2016? >> reporter: well, as you said, john, the president once again declined to back up the u.s. intelligence community's assessment that russia was behind the meddling in last year's election. at the same time he blamed barack obama for failing to do enough to stop the russians. and at the same time he said you can't trust what the u.s. intelligence community is saying, because they got the weapons of mass destruction wrong in iraq.
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here's more of what he had to say at a news conference earlier today. >> i think it was russia, and i think it could have been other people, in other countries. could have been a lot of people interfered. i said it very simply, i think it could very well have been russia, but i think it well could have been other countries. i won't be specific, but i think a lot of people interfere. i think it's been happening for a long time. it's been happening for many, many years. the thing i have to mention is that barack obama when he was president found out about this in terms of if it were russia, found out about it in august. now, the election was in november. that's a lot of time. he did nothing about it. why did he do nothing about it? i think it was russia, but i think it was probably other people and/or countries. i see nothing wrong with that statement. nobody really knows. nobody really knows for sure. i remember when i was sitting back listening about iraq.
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weapons of mass destruction. how everybody was 100% sure that iraq had weapons of mass destruction. and guess what, that led to one big mess. they were wrong. and it led to a mess. >> now, a couple of points on this, john, one thing we should point out, the president appears to be the only person in the united states government in any kind of intelligence receiving capacity who is saying that russia did not act alone in the meddling in last year's election. he's the only one saying there may be other countries involved. at a senate intelligence committee hearing back in may, six heads of different intelligence agencies all testified that they believe russia was behind the meddling in last year's election. to the point about former president obama, yes, there are some democrats who say the obama administration did not go far enough. and there are even some obama administration veterans who say that themselves. but point of fact, president
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obama did confront vladimir putin at a g20 summit in september of last year, after he received this information about the possible hacking of last year's election. so when the president says that barack obama did nothing, that is factually not accurate. meanwhile, the president has not even said himself whether he will bring up this issue when he meets with vladimir putin tomorrow here in hamburg. the president is doing, or at least promising he's going to do even less than what he's accusing barack obama of doing last year. >> the speech the president gave today in warsaw after the press conference, it actually did include some language that was tough on russia, in some cases tougher than it has been. what did he say? >> that's right. he was tougher on russia when it comes to ukraine. he said he wanted russia to stop its activities in ukraine, referring to the military intervention there. he also said that it's time for the russians to stop supporting what he called a hostile regime in syria, and in iran.
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so that is going to certainly ease a lot of tensions among some of the western european allies who are concerned about president trump and what he said during his last foreign trip. remember, john, he went to nato in brussels and did not really offer up a stout defensive article 5 of the nato charter that says an attack on one nato country it's an attack on all. that is certainly going to soothe some of the ruffled feathers from earlier this year when he was on that last foreign trip. the question is whether or not he brings all of this up with vladimir putin. they have less than an hour scheduled for the meeting between the president and vladimir putin. >> jim acosta in hamburg for us, thank you so much. drilling down now more on the hacking question, and whether as jim just mentioned, if even an open question at all for u.s. intelligence. jim sciutto sat down with a top official who watched the election tampering unfold.
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jim sciutto joins us now. the hacking question, is it an open question with the u.s. intelligence community at all? >> in a word, no. it's difficult to imagine a more definitive dismissal of the president's comments today than what we heard from the former director of national intelligence james clapper. the senior most american spy with more than 40 years experience, serving presidents of both parties i might add. he said, one, zero question or doubt within the intelligence community, russia behind the attacks. two, no evidence whatsoever that he has seen, and of course he sees all the intelligence on this, that there were any others involved in this. and finally, you heard clapper debunking this sort of 17 intelligence agencies thing that's gotten out there. he made the point that these assessments were the assessments of the u.s. intelligence community as a whole. and while not all 17 intelligence agencies signed on to it, they wouldn't, because he
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said they consulted the agencies that had relevant intelligence to add. the nsa, the cia, the fbi, not, for instance, the coast guard's intelligence branch which is one of the 17 agencies, or dea's intelligence branch, because that's not what they do. definitive knockdown from director clapper. >> jim, the president did cite something that you know sticks. the intelligence community, the weapons of mass destruction in iraq. you brought that up with clapper in your interview today. what did he say? >> that's right. this is a frequent point that donald trump has returned to many times as he has undermined the credibility of the intelligence community, they got the wmd wrong. i asked director clapper this. he takes it personally because he was involved. have a listen. >> the intelligence community has done a lot of things to make sure that never happens again. and so, yes, it's true that was a big mistake. but we have learned from it. and the intelligence community
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has, i should say. and injected a lot of safeguards to prevent that from happening again. because of that experience, and my having lived through it, that's why my confidence level is so high and the veracity and fidelity of the information of the intelligence community assessment. >> you know, john, one of the changes that's been put in place by the intelligence community since the failure of the iraq wmd assessment is including at times in classified intelligence reports dissenting views, in other words, saying you have a certain group of analysts who believe x but there's the dissenting view for this reason. i've spoken to u.s. intelligence officials repeatedly on russia hacking, including former director clapper, and they say there were no dissenting views in the analysis that russia was behind this hack. >> interesting. jim, stick around, stay with us. i want to talk to you more after the break. to you and our other intelligence officials in how the meeting tomorrow with vladimir putin could play out, given some of the realities we've been discussing.
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and another reality, north korea's nuclear weapons and missiles, president trump's warning to kim jong-un today about the, quote, pretty severe response he's considering. we'll talk about the message he sent and how it might be received ahead on 360. the lincoln summer invitation is on. it's time for a getaway. now get our best offers of the season. on the agile mkc. on the versatile midsize lincoln mkx. or go where summer takes you in the exhilarating mkz. the lincoln summer invitation sales event. ask about complimentary pick up & delivery servicing. right now get zero percent apr plus 1,000 dollars summer savings on the lincoln mkx, mkc and mkz looking for a hotel that fits... ...your budget? tripadvisor now searches over 200 sites to find you the hotel
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spying emboldened what they perceive as lack of action from both presidents trump and obama. the ongoing news, the currentment's reluctance to give an endorsement his own intelligence community's assessment. jim sciutto is back, along with phil mudd and steve hall. this cnn reporting russia sending in more spies, feeling emboldened about the size and scope of spying it can do. does that surprise you? >> no, it doesn't really surprise me. this is a time of significant tension and uncertainty on both sides, russia and the united states. and it's not at all uncommon for intelligence services to try to ram 7 up, so they can get more information on the plans and intentions of the senior-most policy makers in washington. in that sense it's not a surprise. it's also not a surprise given the fact that 35 russian diplomats, one can safely assume, many of them intelligence officers, were
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expelled from the united states late last year. so that's another thing that the russians have to do some catching up on. no, it's pretty much expected. >> phil mudd, this happened on the same day that president trump said that nobody knows for sure whether the russians meddled in the u.s. election, despite the fact that u.s. intelligence officials say they do know for sure. and the president also brought up the failed intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. what effect did that have on the intelligence community? >> now, really, john, let's discuss this for a moment. the president of the united states when he gets great intelligence, at least intelligence from a partner of the u.s. intelligence services that he's so proud of that he brags to the russians, in an inappropriate leak of that information, he talks about it. doesn't talk about the iraq problem then. when he gets great intelligence warning him that the syrians might use chemical weapons again, what does he do? he publicly uses that intelligence to warn the syrians. when he gets great intelligence on issues like the iran nuclear
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program on issues like north korea, partnering its ballistic missiles with nuclear weapons, potentially, he brags about that information. when he gets information that's inconvenient personally, because it looks like it might tarnish his election victory, what does he do? overseas in the spotlight of european security services and every cia officer around the world, because it personally embarrasses him, he suggests that he doesn't like that intelligence because it's an inconvenient truth. i think we know what's going on here, john, when the intelligence supports him, he's going to use it publicly including leaking it to the russians. when it doesn't, he's going to denigrate publicly in an overseas environment an overseas intelligence community. he doesn't like stuff that embarrasses him personally, that's what this is. >> let me ask you this, phil. the thing we've heard already in the few hours this has been reported, the possibility that this information, the intelligence community saying more spies are coming in, upset
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about what you're talking about, the president's criticizing them openly overseas, is that possible? >> i think that's possible. but i think this story could potentially be overplayed. let me pick up on something that steve hall said. look, president obama, despite what president trump has said, expelled a lot of russian intelligence officers. any intelligence service on the planet is going to say over the course of the next months or years, i'm going to replace those intelligence officers, i'm going to send more people in. let me give you one other truth about this country, john, and that is, if you send more russians into this country, there is plenty of information available on cnn, in "the new york times," in the "washington post," and on the cocktail circuit of washington, d.c. about what is happening in the white house. you can vacuum up information in this environment without spies that will help the kremlin understand what's going on in the white house, and that's what i think the russians are doing. it's entirely predictable. >> jim sciutto, there seems to be a conflicting message from
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the president of the united states. on the one hand he delivered a speech in warsaw where he called on russia to stop their destabilizing activities. quite deliberately seemed not to include election meddling as a destabilizing activity. that's a mixed message to say the least. >> no question one was a scripted speech, the speech itself, and the other, when he's in the press conferences he's speaking off the cuff. i think that might be part of the explanation there. but there is clearly something about election meddling. remember, the president, it took him some time to call out russia for activity in the ukraine and elsewhere. he's gotten to that point. i'm sure his advisers have been pushing him in that direction. on the meddling, we know he's been briefed on that as well. he's seen the same intelligence that director clapper and others have seen, but on that issue he has something stopping him from going public and definitive with that. and perhaps that means that it
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is unlikely that he brings it up face to face with putin tomorrow. that's something that you're hearing from both democrats and republicans, that that would be a mistake. particularly in light of the fact that russia continues to lay the groundwork, as director clapper said in our interview today, that russia is, quote unquote, prepping the battle field for attacks on the elections in 2018 and 2020. an alarming warning to hear from the former director of national intelligence. >> you know, steve hall, what is the effect inside the intelligence trenches, as it were, of statements like the president made today, that nobody knows for sure when in fact intelligence leaders are saying they do. what impact does that have for the people on the ground? >> it was interesting to hear jim clapper's comments on that. he went on to say something very important, which was essentially, look, the intelligence community, it doesn't help when they hear those things. but they're a resilient bunch. i would agree with that. i would tell you who it helps,
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though, is it helps vladimir putin and those in the kremlin prepping for the meeting tomorrow. for a president to say i don't like to transmit my plans to the adversary so i won't talk about what's happening in north korea or another war zone, he certainly has transmitted a lot of information about himself before he goes to meet putin. it will be extremely difficult for him to walk into that room tomorrow and be what i think he needs to be, which is tough with putin when he's already egive indicated on whether the russians were involved in the election meddling. it shows his own personal insecurities with regards to his presiden presidency. that's not going to go unnoticed by putin. lastly, this divisiveness that exists between the intelligence community, the certainly the russians will perceive it between the intel community and presidency, that's something they will take advantage of. putin will say, it must be tough for you when you can't trust your own intel guys, that must be really tough for you. those are things putin will try to manipulate.
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the president has essentially given him that for free. >> we'll see how it plays tomorrow when the two sit down face to face for the first formal meeting as president. thank you very much. weighing in on the russian relationship, where the president gets it right, and where he fell short. ♪ ♪oh, my love ♪my darlin'
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liberty mutual insurance. with the intelligence assessment that the president still can't fully endorse or accept in poland today he undercut the intelligence agency that made it, and the consensus they reached. keeping them honest, here's what top officials of some of the relevant agencies said when asked by the senate intelligence committee. >> do you believe the january 2017 intelligence community assessment accurately characterized the extent of russian activities in the 2016 election, and its conclusion that russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the hacking and leaking of information, and misinformation in order to influence our elections? simple yes or no would suffice.
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>> i do, yes, sir. >> yes, senator. >> yes, i do. >> yes, i do. >> yes. >> yes. >> you also heard clapper endorse that view earlier. congressman kinsinger we spoke to a short time ago about tonight's breaking news. congressman, the breaking news tonight is russian spies are ramping up their efforts to gather intelligence in the u.s. they feel emboldened to do so because of the lack of retaliation of the 2016 election interference, from both the trump and obama administration. what is your reaction to this news? >> presuming this is true and presuming the reason for why is true, first off i'm not surprised at the ramping up of intelligence gathering information. the russians feel as if the cold war is back on. they're trying to reestablish the soviet empire through soft power, through election hackings and hard power like in ukraine and syria. and i do think that the reaction needs to be strong.
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i think it's time for the house of representatives to get past this russian sanctions bill. there may be tweaks, that's fine, but we need to send that strong message. i think if we react to that, that's essential. but this sends one big point, which is that the russians only react when they meet brick walls. when they don't meet brick walls, when they think they can advance and up their spying game without repercussion, they'll do it. that's how they think. >> they only react to brick walls. today the president of the united states was in warsaw, the border with russia. and said, nobody knows for sure whether the russians hacked into the 2016 election. is that the kind of brick wall you're talking about? >> no, that's not. that's not. he did say, yes, it was the russians, but it was the follow-up statement, i don't understand, it could have been other countries, it could have been other people. unless he knows something that i haven't been briefed on. it's a good start, at least he's saying that. the reality is, this isn't about
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delegitimizing president trump. he won because he won a majority of the electorates. he spoke to the part of people who were in anguish in a lot of areas. this is about protecting democracy and the institution, not for 2018, not for 2020, but for frankly 2100. >> any doubt in your mind that russia hacked into the 2016 election? >> no doubt. i trust our intelligence agencies about this stuff. they seem pretty convinced. >> given that you think there needs to be a brick wall message from the united states congress and the administration, was the statement nobody knows for sure appropriate for the president to make, especially in central europe? >> i don't think so. i think the president has an opportunity to make some really good strides in this. i think he's doing good in some areas. but that comment, you know, talking about intelligence in iraq, something, a, you don't do, and you don't do it overseas in front of our allies. these are the folks that are feeding us intelligence information when it comes to
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isis, al qaeda, russia, et cetera. we're doing the same. there's a good exchange of information. if they believe, and i kont believe this is necessarily true, but if they believe the president of the united states does not trust his own intelligence agencies, that could lead to real serious problems in the future. >> big meeting tomorrow between president trump and vladimir putin. what message do you think the president should deliver? >> i think he needs to deliver that brick wall. i think he needs to talk about the assad regime and begin to talk about, let's force a solution here that ends the violence, that ends isis. he needs to talk about ukraine. i think he needs to bring up election hacking, election meddling. not just here, but what's going on right now in europe and what's going to happen in the future elections. i don't think that needs to be the centerpiece, but i think it needs to be mentioned. he needs to make it clear to president putin that we're serious about this. if you have translators, it lasts about an hour, that gives you 30 minutes of actual talking time because of the translators.
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we need to hit syria, ukraine, let's see if there are areas of common ground in north korea. i think election hacking at least needs to be mentioned. >> does president trump understand vladimir putin? from what you've seen? >> i don't have any indication yet. i think a lot of presidents in the past did not understand vladimir putin. i think this is a man who reacts to power. concessions will not help him concede to us. so giving back the properties we seize will not create goodwill that he will get out of syria and ukraine. the shootdown of the plane and bombing of the airfield in syria are good messages. now president trump needs to back that up with very strong statements and points to him. >> thanks so much for being with us. >> you bet. anytime. up next, how white house staffers are preparing the president to handle vladimir putin tomorrow. stay with us. each year sarah climbs 58,070 steps.
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in a matter of hours, president trump the sit down with vladimir putin. lots of issues could be up for discussion. from escalating tensions in north korea, to the fight against isis in iraq and syria.
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as of earlier this week, there was really no set agenda for the meeting. now white house staffers are trying to prepare the president the best they can. cnn's elise lavin has more. >> reporter: even as donald trump publicly meets with world leaders in germany, behind the scenes his top aides, rex tillerson and feona hill now on the national security council are all prepping him for tomorrow's sitdown with russian president vladimir putin. tillerson has a long history of dealing with the russian president and mattis has taken a harder line on putin than the president has publicly. over the last several days advisers gave the president a large binder of material for his nine meetings on the sidelines of the g20 summit, but aides say the section on putin and russia is only a few pages, to keep the president focused. senior administration officials say the president has been
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receptive to their advice. >> we're at the very beginning, and i would say at this point it's difficult to say exactly what the russians' intentions are in this relationship. i think that's the most important part of this meeting to have a good exchange with president trump and president putin of what they both see as the nature of this relationship between our two countries. >> reporter: in a statement, secretary tillerson offering the only clues so far as to what the leaders will discuss on syria, writing, quote, the united states and russia certainly have unresolved differences on a number of issues. but we have the potential to appropriately coordinate in syria in order to produce stability and serve our mutual security interests. besides the two leaders and their translators, only tillerson, foreign minister sergey lavrov will be in the room at tomorrow's meeting. putin is showing he isn't planning to make things easy for trump. praising the success of the g20
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in a german newspaper, but slamming u.s. trade policies as, quote, protectionism, and u.s. sanctions as doomed to fail. he also voiced support for the paris climate accord which trump pulled out of, calling it, quote, a reliable international legal framework. meanwhile, president trump publicly called out russia in his harshest terms to date. >> we urge russia to cease its destabilizing activities in ukraine, and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes, including syria, and iran. >> reporter: but he also cast doubt on u.s. intelligence assessments putin was behind the meddling in the 2016 election, an issue trump is not expected to raise with putin. though his advisers acknowledge they have no sernlt over what trump will bring up with president putin, and are concerned over the president's unpredictability when it comes to tomorrow's meeting, john. >> elise at the state department, thank you so much. a lot to discuss with our panel
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now. former chief of staff, secretary of state john kerry. jill daugherty. and steve hall. john, i'll start with you. you've been in the room with vladimir putin several times when he met with then secretary of state john kerry. give us an idea of what that's like, the vibe he gives off. >> thanks, john. the trick with the meetings is to maximize the amount of time you're spending on the agenda that you have and minimize the amount of time that is inevitably a fairly lengthy russian diatribe in foreign policy. they usually start the meeting with. they'll go back in history to the cold war, to the arab spring, to the iraq invasion, to try to put the person across the table on the defensive. i think the key is being able to rebut it when absolutely necessary, and then shift to your own agenda, which is, you know, the most important reason why you're there.
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>> jill daugherty, so much is made of the optics of this. who will smile, who will frown, who will shake hands first. but you know, you know, don't forget the u.s. policy here and what is the u.s. policy toward russia. >> well, i don't think actually there is a policy right now. that's one of the problems. there are disparate issues. but there's no overarching policy. and so that kind of makes it difficult, really, to pin down what's going to happen. i mean, i think on the optics, you have two men who were pretty macho in kind of different ways. and i think it would be very interesting to see that kind of power dynamic. you know, who initiates the conversation, and as it was just said, who can kind of make their points without being rammed by the other guy. and eating up time that you don't want to deal with. you know, interestingly, i was just looking at some russian
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media and how they're hamming this. because they each -- each man is playing to his own domestic audience as well. i think that's really important. mr. trump has to be strong to his people. maybe we'll see that kind of serious frown that he has. president putin also has to look strong to his own people. some of the media are actually kind of mocking -- this is sputnik, the russian media outlet, they're mocking president trump. interestingly, for a handshake faux pas in poland. it's interesting, they're nibbling around the edges, setting it up. and anything that makes trump look a little weak makes putin look stronger. >> steve hall, to you, again, vladimir putin not your average world leader. someone who led up russian intelligence. do you think he approaches this type of meeting differently then with the intelligence
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experience? and how then should the u.s. be prepared for this? >> there's no doubt that putin's experiences as a kgb officer, and then, of course, his responsibilities in the fsb has influenced him. he's also an experienced world leader who's met with a bunch of other world leaders. he kind of knows how this whole thing goes. it's really important that trump be very, very firm with putin right off the bat. people have made an argument, we're not slur how much time there's going to be. mr. putin, you all have to earn the right to deal with the rest of the civilized world, with the west and with the united states. let's just review, even if you set aside, you know, shenanigans with regards to election hacking and meddling, you've annexed a country. you've set another country very close to civil war in the ukraine. you've shot down civilian airliners. that's all before we even get to the part about the election
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medd meddling. before we talk about that, mr. putin, we have to resolve those issues and then we'll talk about the lifting of sanctions and things. but we've got to call you on these basically inappropriate and bad behavior that you've done in the international realm before we can go any further. >> you've got to do that while waiting for vladimir putin to finish his diatribe on soviet and russian history. john finer, to you, do you ever emerge with these meetings with the russians saying, well, one thing happened, it went a certain way and u.s. officials feeling something different happened? >> that absolutely does happen. what you often see is reflections in the russian state-run media that bear almost no resemblance to what actually went on behind closed doors. that's to be expected. that's not a problem. i think the other thing that's important to emphasize, though, is these meetings, particularly for the u.s. side are big opportunities. in our system, there are lots of people who are empowered at different levels of the
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governments to make different decisions, at least about matters of policy that don't rise to the level of war and peace. in the russian system, putin is really the only decision maker. the opportunity to make the case about steps we need him to take, and to put down firm markers as was just said, is unusual and important to take advantage of. >> jill, is there a way to intimidate vladimir putin? >> i don't think so. i really don't. putin's very good at thrusting back, you know, pairing and thrusting. he often -- he usually knows something that he will use, or exploit in a conversation about the other person. and maybe establish a little camaraderie by quoting what the other person thinks. he's very skillful in almost a lawyerly fashion in saying, you've made that point, but you have these faults, too. especially america has these faults. >> it will be fascinating to
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see. that happens about 12 hours from now. thank you all so much. up next, tensions escalating after this week's successful launch of a north korean icbm. president trump said he's not ruled out military options, but some experts say that could spell disaster. americans - 83% try to eat healthy.
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in the latest escalation of tensions between the u.s. and north korea, president trump addressed potential military options at a news conference with the polish president today. >> as far as north korea's concerned, i don't know, we'll see what happens. i don't like to talk about what i have planned. but i have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. that doesn't mean we're going to do them. i don't draw red lines. >> military experts say that any attack could spark an all-out war on the korean peninsula. i want to bring in david gergen who worked with four u.s. presidents, retired major general james "spider" marks and laura rosenberg. you heard the president say pretty severe things, those were his words. how do you interpret that? >> well, i interpret that as he wants to put a warning out there but he's not quite sure what to
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do yet. basically, the united states for some reasons is facing the same three options as -- and none of them appealing. as put so well, their options are buy them out, squeeze them out or burn them out. and we tried buying them out with the clinton administration. we got an agreement. i was involved with that. and it worked for a number of years but eventually fell apart. we've tried sanctions, squeezing them. since then, that hasn't worked very well. the president, inevitably, is also thinking about severe military reprisals and that's a very scary proposition and i thought secretary mattis of the defense department was reassuring saying that this recent test by the north koreans does not bring us any closer to war. >> it was fascinating, general marks, what david gergen is saying there because james mattis went to the briefing room
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to talk to reporters. he went there to say that the new capability by north korea doesn't change the calculus for the united states in the region and it doesn't make war more likely and specifically said the diplomacy is the first option here. do you think the reason he did that is that as a general, he knows that the military options here are just not good? >> well, the military options clearly are not good. the third option which david mentioned, burn them out, is clearly not an acceptable option either. what needs to be clear -- and i think secretary tillerson has made this clear. there are pockets that would want to see that and intellectually and emotionally you can sit back and say, well, of course, kim jong-un and the kim regime is a pathetic -- he's a charleton leader. the real recipient of that
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discussion is in beijing. beijing does not want to have a reunified peninsula. we don't care about the kim regime. we care about kim's ability to marry up a nuke with a missile and have that missile reach the united states or launch a missile over south korea and have an electromagnetic pulse that darkens that part of the world for quite some time. those are unacceptable outcomes and the window is very, very narrow. jim mattis is correct. this is simply a step in the path that we have predicted and seen all along. it doesn't, in the near term, make it any more likely that there will be hostilities on the peninsula. >> laura, this is an area that you've watched for a long time with intense interest. how do you think president trump's words will be received? pretty severe options he's looking at right now, on twitter talking about kim jong-un. how is that received? >> you know, i think it's a little bit careless and potentially reckless to put out strong terms like that when
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it's, as david said, not entirely clear that the president even really knows what in fact he means by that. pyeongcha pyeongchang reads a lot into the president's words. my greatest fear is miscalculation, whether it's miscalculation in pyongyang thinking that trump said something that it wasn't meant to signal or thinking that they may not be able to have the same kind of confidence in our assurances that they have come to believe that are there under our defense agreements. >> laura, what about the idea that for generations people have said sometimes uncertainty and mystery can't help in foreign policy? does it give the president more options? is it okay to have the north koreans guessing here? and also, people will take issue with the fact that the president doesn't have a strategy here. look, he tried to woo the chinese. he thought it was worth a try. it didn't work.
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now he's going in a different direction. >> i think there are absolutely elements of the administration that have a strategy that they are trying to pursue. i think diplomacy or messaging on this issue is a highly complex process. i think it requires a lot of careful coordination. i think that that's very hard to convey and sentiments that are a bit off the cuff. i think there are two really important concepts in dealing with the north korean threat. one is reassurance and deterrence. both of those depend very, very centrally on clarity of intentions and a very crisp understanding of the credibility of what we are saying we may do. what is concerning to me about some of trump's statements is i don't believe that he is actually conveying the kind of clarity that is necessary for deterrence and reassurance to actually have the kind of effect we need them to. >> david gergen, your response to that? >> well, i do think, john, to go
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back to your original point, there are times when ambiguity is a wise course. that's the way we have approached what we would do about taiwan if they got into a fight with mainland china. but on a question of north korea, i think it's really important that the administration have come to a firm consensus view within the administration about what they would like to see happen, what their plans are in order to get allies to join with them. ultimately, we may have to face down china and russia on this question and we need to have japan and the south korean government and europe to be standing firmly with us and that means you can't be too ambiguous. you have to have some clear path of what you're really trying to accomplish. >> and spider, one of the most important allies here might be south korea. they are the ones most immediately involved with this situation. we have a new south korean leader who may be more amenable
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to negotiation. >> we've been there before. the former leader kim -- the leader of south korea, my apologies, back in 2000, won the nobel peace prize, k.d. jay, he talked to the north and spent millions of dollars to try to achieve a result. even though president moon may move in a situation not dissimilar to that, our relationship with the south is absolutely solid. there is no break in that type of view or an approach towards what's right for seoul and what's right for the united states and the regional partners. >> it will be fascinating to see the meetings over the coming days and what comes out of it and the language that's used. thanks so much, everyone. word of ramped up russian spying hours before the president's first face-to-face formal meeting with president vladimir putin. all of this when we continue.
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