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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Putin to Meet With Trump; Protests Erupt at G20 Summit; Trump, Putin Have First Face-to-Face Meeting Tomorrow. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.
And we start with breaking news, a chaotic scene not far from the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, where President Trump has arrived and is meeting with world leaders this week.
He's about two miles away from the site of these protests. And riot police are trying to clear the street after a violent crash erupted not long ago. Information , at one point, we saw officers spray water cannon, as you see right here, right towards the crowd as protesters threw smoke bombs.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen has been in the middle of it all, and joins me now.
So, Fred, what's happening?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pam.
And as you can see and hear probably as well, it's still quite a vocal protest. Actually, why we're going to go right here to the middle of it. It's calmed down a little bit, that the protest march is now actually moving.
What happened earlier, those pictures that we were seeing, was that the march started and then the police immediately stopped them from moving forward. At some point, skirmishes broke out. You had that use of those water cannon trucks. You had some police officers get injured. You had some protesters get injured as well.
Now that march is on the move again. We expect they're going to be walking for another couple of hours. And, as you can see, there's still quite a large police presence here as well. They're sort of walking ahead of the crowd at the moment.
Especially right now, the march is going to take a turn. If you look over there, that's just full of police officers and water cannon trucks there making sure that the demonstration really stays inside its route, Pam. So, certainly, they have a long way to go. And as you can see also, despite the fact that it's past 10:00 p.m. now here, it's still quite light out. So, it almost feels like the late afternoon to many folks here. This still has a long, long way to go. And we do anticipate that it could get quite difficult, again, along the way, Pam.
BROWN: And just for context here, Fred, it's not unusual for there to be demonstrations at the G20 summit. How does this compare to years past? Does it have anything to do with the fact that President Trump is there? Just try to help us understand what's going on.
PLEITGEN: That's actually really -- a really interesting question, because I think it does.
You know, the fact that President Trump is here, I think has in many ways energized a lot of the movements that were going to go protest anyway. You're absolutely right. The G20 has always seen protests. Some of them were really, really bad, especially in the late -- or especially a couple of years ago.
But I think now that you have President Trump here, and a lot of the slogans that we have been hearing were very critical of President Trump as well. I do think that it sort of energized the crowd. You have a crowd here that's very multinational. You have people here from all sorts of European nations, but also from further abroad, from Mexico, people from the United States as well.
So, yes, it has somewhat energized the movement. I would say that the skirmishes that broke out, they were quite heavy for a while, but they certainly weren't beyond what I think the organizers themselves were expecting. And that's one of the reasons why the Germans put around 20,000 cops on the street to come here with the protests, Pam.
BROWN: And just to sum it up, what is it exactly that they want? I mean, are people there for different reasons? Is there one sort of cohesive message? Just try to help us understand that.
You know, there's a multitude of messages. Many are of them just flat out against the summit. Many of them want to voice their displeasure at some of the leaders that are coming. It's not just President Trump. It's, you know, some of the more controversial leaders for an international audience, people like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin.
There's also a lot of people here in Germany, you know, who want to protest some of the policies of Angela Merkel as well. So, in general, you have folks who are not happy with some of the policies that their own leaders are conducting at home.
Some of it has to do with globalization which some people feel has been unfair to them as well. And in general, a lot of people feel that a meeting like this one, they feel that a large part of the world's population is being excluded. There was one interesting sort of art installation that took place
yesterday, which was the March of the Gray People, which was supposed to symbolize the gray masses left behind by globalization. So, that's basically what folks are saying. They feel that a lot of the globalization...
BROWN: And we lost Fred there on the streets of Hamburg, Germany, where there are protesters surrounding the G20 summit.
And as we said earlier, as this is all going down as President Trump arrives for the first big, biggest really foreign policy test of his presidency, today, after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he's at dinner with Japanese and South Korean leaders focused on North Korea and its march towards a nuke.
All of this leading up to the main event, tomorrow's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny is traveling with President Trump.
And, Jeff, earlier, in Poland, he again refused to call out Putin for the hack attacks during the election.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He did indeed, Pamela.
And this is something that President Trump has been asked again and again for months now, if he believes that Russia was involved in meddling in the election, but on the eve of that crucial meeting coming tomorrow, the president still essentially diminished and downplayed the role that Russia played.
He said nobody knows for sure, nobody knows for sure. Well, that, of course, will be front and center in the meeting tomorrow, if he addresses it or not.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Donald Trump soaking up the applause today in Poland, while sending mixed signals over Russia on the eve of his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Even as he took a harder line on Russian aggression...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies.
ZELENY: He voiced more skepticism about the depth of Russian meddling in the 2016 election during his first press conference in nearly a month.
TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered.
ZELENY: He downplayed Russia's role in the presidential race. And on foreign soil, he took the extraordinary step of challenging the U.S. intelligence community's credibility.
TRUMP: Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure. I remember what I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong. And it led to a mess.
ZELENY: The president didn't mention Putin by name, instead attacking former President Barack Obama for not doing more to stop the election interference.
TRUMP: They say he choked. Well, I don't think he choked. I think what happened is, he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, let's not do anything about it.
ZELENY: Speaking to thousands of admirers at Krasinski Square, many waving American and Polish flags, the president reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of NATO, an attack against one is an attack against all.
He was criticized for not making that pledge during a visit to NATO headquarters six weeks ago in Brussels.
TRUMP: I would point out that the United States has demonstrated, not merely with words, but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.
ZELENY: The warm reception in Poland giving way to trickier terrain in Germany, where the president met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders at the G20 summit, where divisions are far deeper on immigration, climate change, and trade agreements.
But the escalating nuclear threat from North Korea could overshadow the agenda. The president did not show his cards, but said he's considering some pretty severe options.
TRUMP: It's a shame that they're behaving this way, but they are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner. And something will have to be done about it.
ZELENY: So President Trump, Pamela, just finished a dinner with the prime minister of Japan, as well as the president of South Korea.
And North Korea, of course, was front and center in that discussion. But, Pamela, right now, as the sun is setting here in Hamburg, I'm going to look behind me here and have our photographer, Bill Arbiter (ph), zoom in on that smoke you can see in the distance there.
And I can tell you, just in the last couple minutes, since Fred Pleitgen was on the air earlier, there's been considerably more noise, more sirens, more drums banging, more people in the distance. So, there's no question, as night falls here, there are police standing by for an uptick in protesters.
You can feel that -- the tensions happening, Pamela. Again, so far, everything has been peaceful. There's been nothing that we know of out of the normal in these G20 protests. The president, for his part, his motorcade whipped by all of it. We're told he didn't see a thing, Pamela.
BROWN: All right, it's going to be a long night there, as Fred pointed out as well. They still have miles to go in their protests.
Jeff, live in Hamburg, Germany, thank you very much for that.
So, it's what everybody seems to be talking about, except the president. Will he confront Vladimir Putin for ordering cyber-attacks during the presidential race? The latest on what we can expect and how it could shape the world, as we keep an eye on the protests that have turned violent in some areas.
You're looking at live pictures right near the G20 in Hamburg, Germany.
Stay with us. We will be back.
BROWN: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
We're keeping an eye on the unfolding situation right there in Hamburg, Germany. Riot police have clashed with protesters using water cannons at times to try to clear the streets.
Let's go straight to CNN's Atika Shubert. She's on the ground there in Hamburg.
So, Atika, explain what's going on from your vantage point.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, a lot of the protesters were dispersed at the original place near the fish market area.
And a number of them have collected here and are trying to continue the march. So, now what we have got is protests spread out all around. And while these protesters have sort of got -- they're kind of making it the festival spirit. They have got speakers and a rave, kind of a rave going, what you're also seeing, on the other hand, is those large chunk of protesters now coming up the road here.
And, in fact, I'm going to ask my cameraman to pull around. You can see right there police with their white helmets marching up the road. That's -- these are basically the front of the other protests now coming this way. So, the good news is that it does seem that the protest is under
control. It's moving along as it's supposed to. The bad news is, it does seem as though people have just sort of taken over the streets in certain intersections of the town.
And this is going to be the challenge for the police for the rest of the night.
[16:15:00] But, so far, things have remained calm. Let's hope it stays that way for a while, Pamela.
And this started off as an organized protest. As you said, things have remained calm for the most part right now. But do authorities anticipate similar crowds as the G20 Summit continues?
SHUBERT: Absolutely. And as you can see here, one unit of riot police moving into position in front of that protest. They had 12,000 out today. They expect at least 100,000 over the course of several days, especially on Saturday. That will be the peak, but the real challenge for police will be on Friday.
We're going to move so we can see a little bit more of the police actually, what the real challenge is going to be is -- there's the police as you can see there. They're trying to move into position about that -- with that other breakaway protest here. The challenge is going to be smaller groups tomorrow that are going to try and disrupt the delegations, trying to get to the summit.
So they're going to actually be taking all kinds of small roads, swarming the streets to try and disrupt leaders and delegations from actually reaching the summit, and that's when police will have -- the challenge will be for police tomorrow, Pamela.
BROWN: And as we know, President Trump just arrived there and I'll ask you the same question I asked Fred, how do you think his visit there is factoring into the protest, if at all?
SHUBERT: Well, I think -- look, every protester I've talked to here has said, you know, there might be for trying to get climate change or it might be against capitalism, it might be many things, but almost every protester I've spoken to here says they're here to protest against President Donald Trump. So, he is a big factor in these protesters. We've seen effigies of him, posters of him, saying he's not wanted in the city. This is very clearly not only an anti-G20 protest, but also anti-Trump and other leaders.
BROWN: And it's getting late there in Hamburg, 10:16 p.m., what is your sense in terms of how long this is going to go? Does it seem like people are going to -- going to start tampering down, what's your sense?
SHUBERT: I think it's going to go on for a while. I want to swing around to you, you've got water cannon -- actually, I'm not sure if those -- I do believe there's two water cannon trucks there including an armored personnel carrier. Those are riot police stationed because you've got another massive demonstration coming this way over here.
So, to answer your question, I think this is going to go on for a while. Protesters have said, this is a welcome to hell protest. Welcome if you will the delegates coming from the G20 and they intended this to last through the night. I think that's going to happen.
BROWN: All right. Atika Shubert, thank you so much. Right there in the thick of it all in Hamburg, Germany.
So, how is President Trump preparing for the biggest meeting of his young presidency? New details about the format of this meeting and who else will be there.
And you're looking at live pictures right here, protests erupting as world arrive in the G20 in Germany. We're keeping an eye on all the developments there. It's getting late, but there is no sign that these protests will be slowing down any time soon.
Stay with us. We'll be back.
[16:22:25] BROWN: We are back and sticking with the world lead.
Before the president arrived to angry protesters in Germany, he was in Poland where President Trump said he does think Russia could have interfered in U.S. elections, but then he quickly added, other countries could have also had a hand. Even though by the way the U.S. intelligence community says it hasn't found evidence of that. Mr. Trump will have the chance to confront Russia tomorrow, but from what the administration says, this issue may not come up at all.
Today, a group of Senate Democrats is pushing the president to make sure it does. In a letter, they urge Mr. Trump to make a clear Russia's interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.
CNN's Elise Labott has a closer look at tomorrow's agenda.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gearing up for his first high stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump publicly called out Russia in his harshest terms to date.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We urge Russia to cease it's destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and it's support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran.
LABOTT: But he cast doubt on U.S. intelligence assessments Putin was behind the meddling in the 2016 election, something White House officials say Trump is not expected to raise during the meeting.
TRUMP: I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows.
LABOTT: On the eve of the sit-down, Putin is showing he isn't planning on make things easy for Trump, praising the success of the G20 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.
While Trump is publicly meeting with other world leaders, behind the scenes, his top aides, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Fiona Hill, a Putin critic now on the National Security Council, are all prepping him for tomorrow's sit- down with Putin. It's the most anticipated of his nine meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit. The president is studying a large binder of material for all those meetings, but for Putin and Russia, aides say he's only been given a few pages of material, written in one sentence talking points to keep the president focused.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're at the very beginning, and I would say at this point, it's difficult to say exactly what the Russians, what Russians intentions are in this relationship, and I think that's the most important part of this meeting is to have a good exchange between President Trump and President Putin over what they both see is the nature of this relationship between our two countries.
[16:25:10] LABOTT: And 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.
LABOTT: And tomorrow's meeting is expected to be very small, just the two leaders, Secretary of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Of course, Lavrov and Tillerson and Putin have all met before.
Now, President Putin does not speak English, so he does like to work with a translator. Translators will be there, and that might make it a little uncomfortable for President Trump who likes to kind of speak very conversationally, Pam.
BROWN: Certainly. Tomorrow's meeting fraught with drama and history.
Elise Labott, thank you so much.
And the president also said he's considering, quote, pretty severe things against Kim Jong-un and North Korea. But what exactly does that mean? I'll ask a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee about possible military options, up next.