tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 4, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
according to residents i'm talking to in this area. now, that was their speculation on saturday. now it's wednesday and now they're saying novachuk. what happened between now and then led them to this conclusion? >> there are traces on these materials. we'll continue to follow the story. that is "the lead" for today. i turn you over to jim acosta in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. liberty protest. a protester climb it is statue of liberty and forces the evacuation of liberty island hours before the fourth of july celebration is set to begin. tipping point. epa chief scott pruitt's growing list of controversyiies inching forward with at least 14 federal investigations now targeting pruitt. will president trump follow through on the pledge to drain did swamp and let pruitt go?
presupreme choice. president trump can finalize the choice. he narrows the list of candidates to sit on the nation's highest court. and no labels? michael cohen changes the twitter bio, dropping a reference of being the personal attorney to president trump after years of defending mr. trump and saying he would take a bullet for him. can s the latest move a sign to cooperate with investigators? wolf blitzer is off. i'm jim acosta and you're in "the situation room." and this is a situation room special report. we are following breaking news. the statue of liberty on liberty island evacuated just hours before the fourth of july celebration because of a protester who's climbinged on to the statue and refuse ds to get down. we'll talk with a member of the
judiciary and foreign affairs committee and annualysts standi by and first more on the breaking news out of new york. national correspondent brynn gingras in new york working the story for us. looks like a dangerous situation unfolding up there on the statue for liberty for a protester. >> that's right. a protester standing the ground and be daring and walking back and forth around the foot of the statue of the liberty there, estimate 150 feet above the water and looking at live pictures, over the harbor there, you can see three nypd officers, those are emergency service unit officers, highly trained, highly skilled officers that really do multiple practices. we have been on some of them with them. for these type of situations. they're on a ladder and also connected to each other through harnesses. and what they're doing right now is trying to deescalate the situation, trying to talk to this protester to try to get her
to come closer to them. so they could put a harness on her and safely get her down. we know that this call came in about a protest at about 3:15 this afternoon. so the standoff going on almost two hours now. it was a total of eight protesters who at one point they weren't that high up. they were further down seeing the other people standing and they were holding a sign saying abolish i.c.e. police were able to put seven of them under arrest and then an eighth person climbed to the foot of the statue of liberty there where you see her in a standoff. we also know that nypd's hostage negotiation team, they're enroute. they should be almost there at this point to assist these officers. and what they're doing even as we speak is trying to get sort of background on these protesters, background on this person so that when they can get there they can be in the ear of one of those officers who's having direct communications with this protester.
we have seen the officers hand her a bottle of water you can imagine how hot it is and trying to get her to just at least get closer to them and there, again, they're connected the each other as we learned through a source. at this point liberty island shut down, evacuated. which is another just unfathomable thing on july fourth. you can imagine how busy that island is for tourists and others to see the statue of liberty on independence day. we hope to see a safe rescue here of this protester. >> cnn's brynn gingras. we like to look at the statue of liberty on fourth of july but not like this. thank you. keep us updated on how that is developing out there. more on the breaking news with counterterrorism analyst and former cia counterterrorism official, phil mudd and justice correspondent evan perez. obviously, i mean, this welcomes
like a protester who has an issue with the president's immigration policies, this person apparently was carrying an abolish i.c.e. t-shirt. but obviously, in a situation like this, they can't take any chances and respond to this as if this could be potentially an emergency, a dangerous situation for people out there on the fourth of july. >> right. they have to treat it as if it is a threat. something that could cause harm not only to the person who's up there but, you know, to anybody else. look, those police officers who are having to climb up there putting themselves always in danger just to try to bring this person down. i assume that this is part of a larger protest. and it's not only an inconvenience the thousands of people who go there on the fourth of july to celebrate the holiday, but also, now, you know, you have to wonder whether you have people who are going to do copycat things at other bigelow casbig
locations around the country or new york. it inspires other people to do equally stupid things. and this is stupid. >> we don't want that. phil mudd, i mean, obviously, this person, appears this person has an issue with the president's immigration policy, with the abolish i.c.e. t-shirt and don't want to discourage people from expressing a point of view but this is obviously not the way to do it. what do you do given your experience of protests and potentially, you know, situations where you have protesters who could pose a threat? how do you handle situations? do you try to allow the person to get their point across? that is symbol of the world we welcome immigrants and used to mean we welcome them. do you let them get their point across and then bring them down? >> you have to build empathy. in terms of the views of people in nypd, excuse me, you just put our officers at risk. and destroyed a day for
thousands of people and their children. this person needs to spend some time in jail and in terms of the conversation with the individual, i can assume they're building empathy with them. we have another clue i think that's significant, jim. that is they talk about another seven people who are involved this protest. they're offering a couple of things. did they bring anything on that island to suggest more than an island? a backpack you can't explain. the second is i want identities to look at things if i'm an investigator like social media profile. is this it or is as evan suggesting other protests to follow copycat or inspired by this group? i want to make sure this is the end. >> what do you make of the timing of the protest? obviously on the fourth of july, this is just a huge mess for the nypd. they're already on patrol for potentially any threats developing on one of our most important hall dais of the year. >> right. this is obviously nypd has a lot of people who are professionals and who are going to be able to
protect the city on a day like this. but it really does sap the resources of the people who are there, again, to protect the city. there are millions of people who are lining the shores, different parts of the city to celebrate this day and to watch the fireworks celebration later in the evening. and so that's what the focus of the protection detail that they have, all the plans at nypd made. certainly was not made for this. but clearly these people wanted to try to get some attention and apparently they're protests to do with the immigration policies and they want to abolish i.c.e. it's -- you know, they have gotten their point across it appears but after this, i mean, i think the problem for the nypd is that they know how to be careful that other people don't try to do other things to try to disrupt. i think they'd rather deal with this than, say, something that is a danger to some of the
public that's out there waiting for the celebrations later tonight. but this is really -- i mean, those officers are in danger. that's not a good way for anybody to be spending the evening. >> the intense heat there in new york city is something that is going to be, you know, a big problem. >> 150 feet up. that's a long way to fall. >> certainly dangerous situation for those officers and hope for the best of them and don't want to dismiss the concerns of protesters and people who feel passionately. >> it almost distracts from that. >> it does, it does. >> makes their point actually be diminished by the fact of -- >> certainly could be taken by opponents of this message and supporters of the president's immigration policy, you know, this could be seized upon as something, here you go, here are the protesters. they shouldn't be taken seriously. but it is a magnificent sight to see the statue of liberty there in the new york harbor fourth of july and hopefully resolved
quickly. we have other breaking news right now. over in the uk, breaking news. britain's -- just came in. top counterterrorism official just said that two people found unconscious were exposed to the same nerve agent used in the attack on a former russian spy in march. go to cnn international correspondent erin mclaughlin in england for us, erin, this is a very interesting development and that investigation. what are you picking up there? >> reporter: it's a shocking development, jim. just a short while ago we heard from the assistant commissioner for scotland yard's counterterrorism unit at the helm of this investigation. neil baso confirmed what people feared most, that this was the result of some type of an exposure. unclear how. to nerve agent novachuk used
some four months ago against an ex-russian spy and his daughter. take a listen to what neil baso had to say a short while ago. >> we confirm that the man and woman have been exposed to the nerve agent novachuk identified as the same that contaminated two others. >> reporter: now, the key question is how did this happen? how did this couple, british couple, in the 40s identified by the media as 45-year-old charlie rowley and 44-year-old dawn sturgis come into contact with this weapons grade nerve agent? and authorities right now don't have the answer to that. as the source of a furious investigation ongoing now in amesbury and salisbury and they have a timeline of events. we know that on friday evening
according to a friend of theirs they were in salisbury walking around the sights. we know that dawn sturgis fell ill that saturday morning, charlie rowley fell ill later in the afternoon. and authorities thought it could be drug related. that was the working assumption. but as the symptoms progressed on the couple they looked at the possibility of nova chuk exposure and confirmed that today, jim. >> thank you very much for following that. big, breaking news happening over. phil mudd, the fact that they found this novhuk nerve agent, the same used against the ex-russian spy, an attack we have been conducted by the kremlin, ordered by the kremlin, what does that say to you?
is it possible it's a residual effect of the initial attack? erin mclaughlin said the folks exposed may have been walking around the same area or possibility another attack that the authoritys have to worry about? >> my first question is one you're posing. when's the life span of the nerve agent and can it have lived in the streets of the uk since march now? i think you are stepping back saying if this was a residual attack or new attack, is the president of the united states as someone that represents the country used to be the leader of nato raise it with vladimir putin and meddling in american elections saying what are you doing in europe? how can we build a relationship with you if this is the kind of thing you are doing in european countries? >> all right. stand by. we'll bring in democratic congressman staidavid sicilyny
long island. congressman, we have to go to the breaking news out of the uk this evening. apparently hearing from british counter terrorism officials that the two people were exposed to the same nerve agent used in the attack on the former russian spy. can we -- what does it say to you at this point? what are you thinking about as the information comes in? >> we have to learn a lot more. obviously, very disturbing and i think as your last guest just said, we have to be able to determine whether or not this was residue that remained there to cause this. was it a new attack? as we all know, the president's about to meet with vladimir putin. and there are a lot of us very concerned about that conversation because vladimir putin and the kremlin have done everything to undermine western democracies, the functioning of nato, attack the american presidential election and this is an opportunity for the
president to use it to make it very clear that the united states is going to stand up to that. i don't have a lot of confidence he's going to do that because he hasn't taken any of this seriously but hopefully this will be on the list of things that the president will raise when he meets with vladimir putin. >> are you concerned that the president is little too c conciliatory of the rhetoric? he was tweeting that russia said they have nothing to do with meddling in 2016 and now we have the president, he needs to confront vladimir putin not only on that, obviously, but also, on what may be either another attack in the uk or at least the residual effect of an attack earlier on a major concern part in nato? >> the president isn't too conciliatory but since the very beginning. we just saw the senate intelligence committee in a republican-led committee,
bipartisan report concluded again that vladimir putin led an effort to interfere with american presidential election. he did that for the express purpose of helping donald trump and despite that report, just being released, the president again tweets this statement where he seems to accept the denial from vladimir putin. he's tried in every way to diminish the seriousness of this investigation, has not condemned russia for doing this and up to it again. that they're engaged in activities the try to interfere with the upcoming election and need a president to make it very clear that's not acceptable. the american people will decide who will represent them and not any foreign adversary of the united states so i'm very concerned that the president's going to go into the summit and do what he did in north korea. not have anybody in the room and canceled the military exercises with the south koreans and happened in that first hour
together without any staff. i'm fearful to go in and just with putin alone, make some concession like lifting sanctions or some other terrible action, really, that doesn't advance the national security interest of the united states and undermines the north atlantic alliance. >> and let me ask you this. do you worry something like this, what happened in the uk could happen here in the united states? >> well, i mean, i think we have extraordinarily talented and sophisticated and dedicated intelligence agents and law enforcement agent that is work every day and do all they can to keep us safe but we have acts of terrorism in our own country and not immune from it. part relies on cooperation of other countries and so those alliances and partnerships and working relationships really matter. which is why when the president undermines those it doesn't advance our own interests but i think we all have to -- this is -- we are not immune from that and need a president to
stand up to a thug like vladimir putin and make it clear that this sort of behavior is not something the united states will tolerate and his annexing another part of a country is something we won't tolerate and most of all interfering with the american presidential election is something we won't tolerate. >> speaking of the summit, no notetakers or witnesses at the initial meeting. no official record. just the president, just putin. their translators and so on. what concerns does that raise for you? >> look. this is a president who has found the opportunity every chance he can to attack and undermine our longest standing allies. the french, the british, the canadians. but can't manage to find a single negative thing to say about vladimir putin. said he should be back in the g7. said that he believes him when he said he didn't interfere with the presidential elections and maybe crimea belongs to russia speaking russian.
there's a lot of reason to be worried about the president's desperate interest in being somehow fawning all over vladimir putin and doing everything he can to curry favor with him. leaving him alone in a room is something to concern everyone. both we want to know what happens in that room and not make any concessions. he's meeting with him without anything for it. that is president who's interested in the kind of theater, the sort of reality tv diplomacy, the big shot. the big television spot but the substance of it is often absent. i'm very concerned about the summit from the very beginning and particularly concerned about them meeting alone without notetakers and translators. >> congressman, thank you for joining us. >> one last thing! >> yes, sir. fourth of july, bristol, rhode island, oldest fourth of july parade in america. we had it today. began in 1785. statue of liberty is beautiful but the bristol parade is historic. >> thank you very much.
happy fourth of july to you and everybody back in rhode island. >> same to you. >> we appreciate you joining us today, sir. thank you. we continue following the breaking news. live pictures in new york city. take a look at this. this is happening for the last couple of hours. a protester in a standoff with police after climbing on to the statue of liberty. lady liberty, amazing sight especially on the fourth of july, but the nypd having to do very difficult and dangerous work trying to get this situation resolved. we are going to keep you on top of that. stick with us. we'll have more on this and all the other breaking news happening right now when we come back. from some unexpected friends. these zebra and antelope. they're wearing iot sensors, connected to the ibm cloud. when poachers enter the area, the animals run for it. which alerts rangers, who can track their motions and help stop them before any harm is done. it's a smart way to help increase the rhino population. and turn the poachers into the endangered species.
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breaking news this hour. protester who's climbed the statue of liberty in a standoff with police prompting the evacuation of statue of liberty island, trying to resolve the situation. more on this in a moment. but first, new detalls of president trump's supreme court pick, a final decision likely coming up thursday or friday. jeff zeleny with more on this. jeff, president's aides trying to keep it under wraps until
monday's announcement. isn't that right? >> reporter: they are indeed, jim. the leak-prone white house, see how well that works. the president is likely to have the decision by tomorrow or friday and a finalist list of maybe two or three people and the war room here at the white house is going to prepare for all of those. no one will know the actual decision except the president himself and learning on a variety of fronts this is moving quickly. vice president mike pence is also meeting with more than one contender for this. all of this happening only one week after justice anthony kennedy retired. president trump only hours away from finalizing his choice for the supreme court. >> spent the last three days interviewing and thinking about supreme court justices, such an important decision. >> reporter: tonight, cnn learned the president is poised to make his decision thursday or friday. the pick will be a highly guarded secret until an announcement monday. with the name included on a list with one or two other finalists so aides in a new white house
war room spend the weekend gearing up for the confirmation fight. the president leaving the white house on the federal holiday spending four hours at the golf club in sterling, virginia and taking calls along the way. the president sounding like the mind is made up. >> i think you will be very impressed. very talented people. brilliant people and i think you will love it. like justice gorsuch. we hit a home run there and we'll hit a home run here. >> reporter: replace retiring justice kennedy, they're using a similar roll-out as gorsuch. >> please, judge. here they come. here they come. >> reporter: but the question is whether the second nominee follows in the same mode. the president has interviewed at least seven potential justices including these federal judges thought to be leading contenders. brett kavanaugh and raymond
kethledge and amy barrett and joan larson. the president's also said to be considering emil and thomas hardeman. all candidates in the 40s or low 50s. >> we have to pick a great one. we have to pick one that's going to be there for 40 years, 45 years. >> reporter: tonight, the president also facing another decision. how long to keep embattled epa administrator scott pruitt in the cabinet. >> not happy about certain things. >> scott pruitt. >> reporter: the president kept him on the job despite investigations and far more controversies over the ethical conduct. an administration official telling cnn the white house reaching a tipping point on pruitt. all this as new details are emerging about the president openly considering invading venezuela during a meeting last august on diplomatic sanctions to the country.
aides urged him against using military force but a day later the president publicly suggested he was still considering it. >> we have many options for venezuela. and by the way, i'm not going to rule out a military option. >> reporter: tonight, one senior administration official telling cnn the president was thinking out loud about using force. jim, the president spent about four hours today at the golf course in virginia just outside washington. returned to the white house a short time ago and already on the south lawn of the white house for that fourth of july picnic. guess who's there -- scott pruitt. the president introduced him a few moments ago and at least for now seems like scott pruitt is still on the job here tonight. jim? >> he hasn't fallen too far out of favor. jeff zeleny at the white house, thank you. still ahead, the latest of new york city where a protester on the statue of liberty is in a standoff with police. looking at live pictures right there. we'll keep you posted on those
developments. also ahead, is michael cohen sending a signal by erasing his role as president trump's attorney from twitter? how can we say when you book direct at choicehotels.com you always get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed? let's get someone to say it with a really low voice. carl? lowest price guaranteed. what about the world's lowest limbo stick? how low can you go? nice one, carl. hey i've got an idea. just say, badda book. badda boom. badda book. badda boom. nice. always the lowest price, guaranteed. book now at choicehotels.com
we are following two breaking stories. protester on the statue of liberty, affiliated with the group rise and resist we're told but an organizer for the group telling cnn their protest against the president's immigration policies did not include climbing the statue and britain's top counterterrorism official said two people found unconscious were exposed to the same nerve agent used in march and also on this july fourth, a busy july fourth, michael cohen appears to be declaring his own independence. we couldn't resist that. from president trump. he changed the twitter profile dropping the description as the personal attorney to donald j. trump. joey jackson, first to you. i suppose that might just be a factual change on a twitter bio. that maybe he is no longer the personal attorney to president
trump. so, you know, just changing it to reflect the facts as they stand now. nothing more. right? >> well, certainly it's a factual change. and a technical change and it could be and probably a lot more than that. you know, the unfortunate reality is sometimes in marriage there's divorce and sometimes if ever a time to question the relationship between him and the president, now would be such a time. and what this indicates to me, jim, there's no emissary from the white house or someone else, a friend, gives guidance, direction, giving him a warm, fuzzy feeling that everything is going to be okay and we have to understand that fbi investigations are real. the consequences could be enormous. when you have a family and a daughter and a son as he mentioned i have to look out for them first so what's it going to be, mr. president? are you with me or are you without me? but having me twisting in the wind is certainly not a good
look. i'm not going to stand for it. i'll go on abc and voice my grievances and then a twitter account and i have something to say about it there. although, a little bit modestly the fact is that i think it's a large signal about his prospects and what he wants to happen in the life and with this investigation. >> rebecca, are we reading the tea leaves too closely or a mistake for the president to as joey jackson said leaving cohen out to dry? >> certainly you could look back and say that was a tra teenstra mistake, potentially. in both cases michael cohen potentially would be faced with this legal consequences, possible jail time, maybe fines. we don't know yet. it's unclear that his personal incentives would outweigh loyalty to the president if the president was nicer to him or treated him better and the president could have been more strategic here. >> ryan, another story we have
been following, situation with the epa administrator scott pruitt. president trump apparently might be reaching a tipping point or inching towards a tipping point with the scandals and embarrassing episodes going through several months. do you think his job really is in danger at this point? he apparently is at the picnic over at the white house. not exactly the skunk at the garden party i suppose. >> i mean, it would just be surprising if it wasn't, if this were a traditional presidency with traditional cabinet members. >> right. >> the level of -- or the number of scandals and, you know, i know not everything is a scandal but the number of things that this guy has gotten himself mixed up in, there's a graphic earlier on our air, you know, just a list of ten of the most basic ones, he would have been gone a long time ago and we know that cabinet members even in the trump cabinet not immune to the scandal politics.
right? there's no more hhs secretary price. right? i mean, price must be locking that the from wherever he is saying how did i get pushed out and this guy continues to hold on? and often what you hear from republicans is, well, he's at the epa. he's implementing this very important deregulation agenda. i mean, any president's -- any republican president and any epa administrator under a republican is basically going to be doing what pruitt is. >> price admitted some mistakes and pruitt has not. a key disfriction there. >> a bond of the president and pruitt to allow him to survive. loyalty is a one-way street with trump. >> it's sort of everybody in washington is wondering, you know, i would have been fired a long time ago for half of these things. what is his secret? what's scott pruitt doing? how can he keep his job this long? >> you know what? secret sauce for scott pruitt is
the fact that the president really understands that he's fired a lot of people. and one that if he continues to go down this road of firing people, they won't have confidence. they felt like they stabilize and said we now have an administration that's really working well. but he is cognizant of the fact to continue to fire key people, it makes him look bad and not only that, scott pruitt one point according to a republican source close to this white house was someone that the president wanted to look to to replace jeff sessions but it is so bad. we'll have to see how it plays out. 14 federal probes, 14 federal probes. about records, taken some things off the calendar or one, public calendar, on another. that is against the law. and then trying to buy a mattress or box string and mattress of trump tower for an apartment. come on! i mean, you know -- >> that is one way to, you know, make favor with the boss.
you know? compliment him on the mattresses at his hotel i guess. >> how about that? >> joey jackson, let me ask you. there was a report that scott pruitt positioning himself with the president and things don't work out with jeff sessions, i would be happy to fill in over there at the justice department. what is going on there do you think? >> you know, there's some indication, jim, that he affirmatively, that is scott pruitt, asked about it. whether that's accurate or not, he disputes that. jim, am i the only one that heard of the phrase draining the swamp? anything that anybody else heard of? the fact is there are problems he has and oftentimes optics. this is not the discussion of merits. this is the optics. and you can think of a lot of things. appear to the base. solli solid conservative. making them user friendly
regulations. makes the president look good. loyal to the president. that comes and put him in a very good position notwithstanding the 14 investigations that april spoke to the and the optics of what is he doing and safe and elevate him to be attorney general? really? so it's all about the poll tiblgs. >> ryan, on this fourth of july, celebrating the independence and american ideals and so forth, we do have an administration that has children separated from their parents and locked up sometimes in jail-like settings and a new poll of quinnipiac in light of the family separation crisis, 58% of the respondents disapprove. is there a blowback on this for him? the president seems to think he can ride this issue to the midterms. >> no doubt that the family separation issue is one immigration policy that this white house felt like it's the one part of immigration that
they couldn't demagogue and not use to political advantage. legally what that executive order did i'm not so sure and at the very least the amount of attention to the issue forced the white house to at least rhetorically change course. we have not seen those children reunited and we haven't had a true reversal on the policy but knocked the white house back on the heels, this policy. caused turmoil even within trump's own family, with his daughter making an appeal to change. >> we'll see if they can continue with this policy. they have a clock ticking against them next week to put them back with their parents. we'll move on here. the latest of new york where a protester at the statue of liberty, keeping a eye on this one. in a standoff with the police there in new york. we'll keep tabbed on that and bring you the late nest a few minutes. tripadvisor now searches over... ...200 sites to find you the... ...hotel you want at the lowest
anna coren joins us. is there an idea of when they can start bringing people snout is that possible at this point? >> reporter: obviously, jim, that is what everybody is hoping will happen sooner rather than later. you're right. we are racing against the clock. we're expecting a change in the weather in the coming days. and that will really undo all of the hard work that has been done. they've been pumping hundreds of thousands of liters of every single hour. something like 2 million liters of water have been pumped out of that cave. so they want to take full advantage of those -- that situation now inside the cave. but we know that areas are still flooded and they are going to be the extremely challenging areas that they will have to get these kids through. authorities are saying they're going to wear full face oxygen masks if they choose to go down the diving option, guided by these navy s.e.a.l.s, perhaps at
times holding on to their backs and as a diver, an international diver working with the thai said, all the kids will have to do is breathe but anyone who's dived before knows that breathing through a mask, a diving mask can be really, really intimidating, extremely daunting and talking about in cave conditions and pitch black. it's confined. and also, dealing with ongoing floodwaters and all about the water at this moment. take a listen to what the international diver told us. >> the water levels are down. what i heard is water levels luckily down by like five feet over the last few hours in the outer chambers. not the inner chamber. but the outer chambers where we have to dive in, divers under the water and now almost snorkel. which makes it easier for them. the conditions in the last bit of it is still very much tricky.
>> reporter: but they're looking very closely at those water levels every single hour. now, this rescue is entering its 12th day, jim. and the boys from all accounts are in good conditions. >> well, we're thankful for that and obviously hoping for the best with that rescue operation. anna coren in thailand for us, thank you so much. the latest on the breaking news, the standoff of police and a protester on the statue of liberty. also the announcement just now that two more people have been exposed to the same nerve agent used to attack a former russian spy and his daughter. an track from farm, to pot, to jar, to table. and serve with confidence that it's safe. this is a diamond you can follow from mine to finger, and trust it never fell into the wrong hands. ♪ ♪ this is a shipment transferred two hundred times,
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and we're following multiple breaking stories, including britain's top counterterrorism official just now revealing that two people found unconscious were exposed to the same nerve agent used in an attack on a former russian spy in march. so what does this as well as the new senate intelligence committee report confirming russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election mean as the president prepares for this month's summit with vladimir putin? cnn's brian todd is breaking this all down. he's been checking with sources.
what are they saying, brian? >> jim, tonight our sources and the analysts we speak to are concerned that president trump is going to be giving away too much in helsinki, when he meets with putin and that mr. trump is going to be almost legitimateizing putin, rewarding him for all of putin's aggressive behavior. the white house keeps saying that the president is going to be tough on the man and the kremlin, but in recent days, president trump has been much more supportive of putin's agenda than that of his own allies. almost as if he's vladimir putin lawyer, defending him before a jury, president trump again recites the russian president's talking points. tweeting, russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election, something the president also said last fall, after meeting putin face-to-face. >> i believe that president trump putin really feels, and he feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election. >> reporter: that, despite the president's own intelligence agencies and a new bipartisan senate report, which say putin wanted trump to win in 2016 and
did meddle. trump's own national security advisers, h.r. mcmaster, and john bolton, have both acknowledged russian meddling. bolton calling it, quote, an act of war. why does the president repeatedly gloss over putin's meddling? analysts say one reason is his insecurity. >> for trump, this goes against the very legitimacy of his election. he. wants to be able to say, i won this election fair and square. i defeated hillary clinton. and nobody helped me. i did it myself. >> reporter: but the president repeatedly, unapologetically, takes putin's side on several fronts. reportedly, he told g-7 leaders in canada that crimea, the part of ukraine that russia invaded and annexed, is russian, because everybody who lives there speaks russian. it's similar to what he said once to abc. >> the people of crimea, from what i've heard, would rather be with russia than where they were. >> russia was kicked out of the g-8 after invading crimea in
2014. but trump says putin should be back in the alliance. >> russia should be in this meeting. why are we having a meeting without russia being in the meeting? >> analysts believe another reason trump keeps taking putin's side is the lingering possibility that putin may have some kind of leverage over trump. so-called kompromat. >> anything from untoward behavior in front of video cameras in russian hotels to stuff that is perhaps a less -- a little less interesting to most folks, which is financial impropriety with russians and representatives of putin in the past. >> reporter: trump has always refuted those implications. >> no puppet. no puppet. >> and it's pretty clear -- >> -- you're the puppet. >> reporter: and this spring, russians were accused of poisoning a former russian spy in britain. >> and probably nobody has been tougher to russia than donald
trump. >> reporter: but experts say trump delivers a victory to putin every time he says something like, quote, nato is as bad as nafta, which a diplomat says he told g-7 leaders behind closed doors last month. >> trump is basically handing him a gift that putin has long sought. in fact, this was a goal of the soviet union throughout the cold war. divide the united states and europe. we never thought a u.s. president would be the one to carry this out. >> analysts are worried about the long-term implications that trump's leniency towards putin is going to have. they say it could send signals to the russian president that he can meddle in elections in america and elsewhere or that he can take aggressive action against other countries and that america won't stand in the way. signals that are very dangerous when it comes to vladimir putin. jim, when you're at the summit in helsinki, we'll all be watching that very closely. >> we'll be looking for some independence between the president and vladimir putin. brian todd, thank you very much. breaking news next, the standoff at the statue of liberty between a protester and police. we're learning new information. are you done yet?
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