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Mixed Messages After Meeting between Trump and Putin; U.S. Intelligence Detect Increase in Suspected Russian Spies Entering the U.S.; Ivanka Trump Taking Her Father's Seat During Meeting at the G- 20; Venezuela Supreme Court Releases Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 8, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. It's top of the hour. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And we begin with President Trump right now on Air Force One flying home after his historic meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. We are just getting some new details about what happened behind closed doors during their two hour plus long conversation. You will hear what Putin had to say about President Trump in just a few minutes.
But first, we have some new sound from the White House press group on board Air Force One. And I want to bring in CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones.
So Athena, set it up for us. What are we about to hear?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.
Well, you are about to hear three administration officials declining to take an opportunity to correct the record after that much anticipated meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A lot of the focus has been on that two hour-plus meeting and the contradictory readouts coming out of that conversation.
We know that both sides agree that President Trump brought up the issue of Russian meddling in last year's election. But the Russian officials, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and President Putin himself have indicated that President Trump took Putin at his word when Putin denied that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. That of course is very different from the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence agencies have come to.
Now, last night a senior administration official told my colleague Jim Acosta that that is not how it went down. But given the chance to correct the record today, three officials, Gary Cohn, an economic advisor, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, and HR McMaster, the national security advisor have declined to correct that. Listen to some of their exchange with reporters aboard Air Force One.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). They walked out and went ought and told him President Trump had accepted their denial of election interference. Is that true?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Let me just say first of all, I think President Trump handled the meeting brilliantly. OK? It was very clear what started out as a 30 minute meeting and President Trump made it very clear in addressing the issues around the election. After a very substantive discussion on this, they reached an agreement that they would start a cyber-unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cybersecurity together and President Trump focused the conversation on Syria and the Ukraine and North Korea.
And I think it's very important that President Trump had very substantive dialogue with his counterpart on this and that it is very clear that there are many issues we need to open a dialogue on. And I think President Trump handled it brilliantly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: General McMaster, can you address the question of how Putin and Lavrov have handled it? What are you going to do about it? I mean, is it not true, is it that President Trump accepted Putin's statement?
LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: What the President and (INAUDIBLE) - what the president secretary charged us with as they came out of meeting is what we are going to do going forward. Secretary Mnuchin mentioned one of those aspects already which is that the recognition of the importance of cybersecurity and that we need to protect election systems in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another country making a statement about the President of the United States. Do you not want to respond to that and correct the record if it is wrong?
MCMASTER: I won't make comments about what other people say. President Trump will be happy to make statements himself about that. But President Trump handled himself brilliantly. It was very clear he made his position felt. And after very substantive dialogue on this they agreed to move on to other discussions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: It is striking to listen to those officials pass up the chance to correct the record here. If that senior administration official was accurate when he said that this is not -- that President Trump did not just accept Putin's denials, then why didn't these three officials say so during that gaggle when given multiple opportunities?
You heard secretary Mnuchin saying towards the end that President Trump will be happy to make statements himself about that. That is curious for two reasons. One, the President left the G-20 without holding the custom area press conference at the end to wrap up and to talk about what he viewed at his accomplishments during the various meetings and discussions. So the president, you know, there isn't an opportunity, at least right now to ask the President himself what happened in that meeting. It's also curious because it was just the day before in Poland when we
last heard directly from President Trump about this and he sounded less than definitive about his belief that Russia meddled in the election. He said something to the effect that he believes it was Russia, but it could have been other people, could have been other countries. So it is delivering a very, very muddled message about what has been a central question of this administration so far -- Ana.
[16:05:27] CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones, still more questions than answers what it lead.
To Russia's Vladimir Putin meantime is revealing fresh details about his meeting with President Trump, his views on Trump after their big face-to-face meeting. Putin speaking out about Trump for bringing up Russian hacking and the U.S. election. Watch what he is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The U.S. President raised this question and we discussed it. It wasn't just one question. There were a lot of them. He devoted a lot of time to this issue. Our position is well-known and I repeated it. There is no basis for thinking that Russia interfered in the election process. What is important is that we agreed that the uncertainty on these matters cannot exist especially in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us now from Moscow is senior international correspondent Matthew Chance who has interviewed Vladimir Putin twice in the past.
Matthew, what is the reaction in Russia there to this historic Trump- Putin meeting?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction in Russia has been pretty euphoric actually. I mean, there were very low expectations I have to say before this meeting took place because of the fractious nature of the state of Russia-U.S. relations.
State media which is often a conduit of the views of the Kremlin has been saying looking for success even if they agree to meet again at some point in the future. Obviously, it was going to (INAUDIBLE) went much better than that. It lasted for two hours and 50 minutes. And the two leaders, Presidents Trump and Putin, addressed at least on the surface, some of the most difficult issues at the heart of the U.S.- Russian relationship in Ukraine and Syria to this issue of cybersecurity and the hacking of the U.S. elections. And so that is a massive success itself from the Russian point much view. And I'm sure that President Trump regards it as a success as well.
But from the Russian point of view, this was much more than they were hoping for. And I think the confidence has returned to the Russian leadership that Donald Trump may be a man with whom they can do a deal. CABRERA: Matthew, we know Russia government controls much of the
media there. Are every day Russians likely to hear anything positive about President Trump's perform in that in that meeting?
CHANCE: I think so, yes. I mean, you know, Russian officials have come out that including president Putin himself, you know, praising very highly Donald Trump. Of course, there has been mixed, mixed mood attitudes towards the U.S. President here in Russia for the past couple months. People at first were full of praise for him thinking he was going to be the one to turn around the relationship between Moscow and Washington, then they felt disillusioned that he wasn't able to do that because of the domestic political pressures on him.
But now, as they are saying, they are back on with, you know, President Trump being the savior of the U.S./Russian relationship. And then Putin came out and said he is much different to how he appears on television. He is very quick. He can, you know, tackle issues very easily. He found him to be a positive person to speak with.
And so, yes, certainly, that is the message that the Russian people who watched state television are going to be getting from their government about this potentially pivotal and important relationship between Trump and their President, President Putin.
CABRERA: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow for us, thank you.
As President Trump now heads home after that two hour long meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 on, actually it was two hours and 15 minutes, but who is counting, CNN has some new information out suggesting Moscow has ramped up its spying efforts since Trump was elected.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials say that they have detected an increase in suspected Russian spies entering the U.S. These intelligence officials believe that Kremlin now has nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives here in America.
I want to bring CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Shimon, what are you hearing from your sources about this uptick in Russian espionage?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, probably no surprise to people who have followed the Russians and have been following some of the political climate they were in. And it seems that there are couple of things happening here. Certainly since the election, we were told U.S. intelligence has seen an uptick of activity of Russian intelligence officials, spies who have been trying to enter this country. Part of the issue comes in this sort of political climate we are living in and Donald Trump's, the president, President Trump's reluctance to on accept some of the intelligence community's findings in that Russia meddled in the election.
There is also some issues surrounding, you know, this need for Russians to gain more intelligence, to learn more about what we are doing here in this country, some of them are coming here claiming to be working for businesses trying to come here to really just learn what people are doing, what some of our secrets, some of our government secrets and build relationships with people who can perhaps help them learn what is happening, you know.
And this sort of just will continue from the U.S. officials that we have talked to unless there is some sort of response from the government. The other issue here is that the state department we are told continues to grant visas to people that the U.S. intelligence officials suspect are Russian spies.
[16:10:38] CABRERA: Right. And Shimon, do we know what the Russian spies are trying to accomplish exactly?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So basically, you know, the belief has always been and certainly even more now among the intelligence officials that we have talked to and some other U.S. officials is that they are really wanting to learn whatever they can about our businesses. You know, a lot of them come here claiming that they are going to work at a financial institution or maybe at a think tank or some other institution where they can learn knowledge, where they can build relationship, maybe get close to people who have access to classified information, people at education institutions. They also often attend speeches at education institutions where are they look to sort of build relationships. Really, some of the thinker, some of the people who are trying, you know, in many ways, affect policy here in the U.S.
CABRERA: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you.
And leading up to the meeting with Vladimir Putin and President Trump, both Democrats and Republicans urged the President to confront Russia over election meddling.
Republican congressman Lee Zeldin of New York was one of them telling CNN just one day before that meeting that President Trump should bring up Russian interference.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you.
CABRERA: So President Trump used his only press conference on this trip to cast doubt on who was behind the 2016 election meddling despite the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mistakes have been made. I agree 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. Nobody really knows for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The world has now watched both Lavrov and Putin say Trump accepted Putin's claim that Russia had nothing to do with meddling in the U.S. election. And during a briefing just a short time ago, we played the clips here. White House officials had three separate chances to refute Putin's claims and they wouldn't. Congressman, does that concern you?
ZELDIN: The White House has a great opportunity, the President himself has a great opportunity to set the record straight. And if there is any type of ambiguity because it has been reported both senior administration officials say that the President hasn't -- did not accept President Putin's refusal/denial a and you played the audiotape that was just on earlier on your show stating otherwise, the best way to put to bed is for the President himself or anyone on his behalf to be able to address this head on and just you say the President didn't accept the denial by President Putin. President Trump, that is, has the ability to set the record straight.
It's clear that he led out the meeting which was a long meeting pressing President Putin on this issue as far as Putin denying it, that is not a surprise. And I would say as far as president Putin's statement since the meeting, that you know, Russia meddles. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Russian meddling about a conversation about Russia meddling and give an alternative account of what actually happened. But from our side --.
CABRERA: So why isn't President Trump coming out on camera and saying otherwise?
ZELDIN: Well, right now he is in the air. But when he comes back to the United States, when he lands, if this hasn't been cleared up by then, he has a great opportunity to do so himself.
CABRERA: Right. But this came out yesterday. Forgive me for interrupting, but this did come up yesterday. And so he did have an opportunity this morning before he left the G-20 to do a press conference. We saw a lot of other leaders including President Putin hold a press conference and take questions and the President chose not to. Was that a missed opportunity?
ZELDIN: You know, I don't know. I mean, I would say that any opportunity though that you have to communicate you could say is a missed opportunity if you don't take advantage of it. That the President certainly has, you know, it is almost like a limitless opportunity to communicate with the United States domestically as well as the international community. So it is a missed opportunity? You could can say that.
However it's not like you can't just land the plane and then have another press conference or some other interaction with the media and the American public. I'm sure that, you know, whether it is twitter or it is a White House statement or it is a press conference, there are too many ways available for him to set the record straight. And there are so many different things that were discussed during the G- 20, you know, that this is one component of it. But, you know, to read in the American public further and members of Congress and media on discussions related to Syria and North Korea and the Ukraine and NATO and fighting ISIS, the more information that we have, the happier that we are as whether it's Congress media or American public, because, you know, these are important issues affecting our lives and our country's security.
[16:15:50] CABRERA: Well, here is the thing. The President went public questioning the intelligence community while he was on this trip. We played that sound bite. And then we hear from Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, who was in on the meeting with Putin come and give the briefing after the meeting. And he says that Putin asked for proof and evidence that Russia was behind the 2016 election, I mean, during that meeting. And Tillerson said that the President did not provide that proof at that meeting. But of course Putin heard him earlier questioning the intelligence community's assessment.
ZELDIN: Well, I mean, I have personally been in the briefings with FBI director, CIA, NSA, DNI as a member of Congress. And I would have some trouble providing the full top secret briefing that we get to President Putin there because you are providing intelligence that goes beyond what we know but how we obtained this information. And I don't know if it would be such a good idea to provide President Putin with all the information that I have seen during those briefings. So to that extent, I would agree with the decision not provide everything. But there is --
CABRERA: But the ability for Russia to question whether the President of the U.S. has proof after the remarks that the President had said, questioning his intelligence community and his agencies that had said they have the proof, do you see where I'm getting about the credibility gap there?
ZELDIN: Yes. Well, I mean, think President Putin knows that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. And when president Putin -- the fact that President Putin would deny that is no surprise.
CABRERA: Does the President of the United States need to come out and say I believe 100 percent in what might intelligence officials say happened in the election regarding Russia being responsible for the meddling in it?
ZELDIN: Yes. And you know, before his meeting with President Putin, you just played and audio clip of, you know, part of what he had said on this point which when he said that a day or two ago, that was big news because that is more than what we have heard on that particular topic. And by the way, as you ask that question as it related to --
CABRERA: But the president is not saying that nobody knows for sure he said in that clip regarding that it -- I believe it was Russia and other people or other countries. No one knows for sure. And he also said that intelligence agencies have made mistakes in the past.
ZELDIN: And as far as that go, and again not being able to give details of these briefings, it is more complex than just the conclusion that Russia and President Putin meddled in our elections. The investigation itself has so many other components to it that President Trump actually is right when he says that there may be others involved. And I don't want to get into those specifics here, but I think that it's important for us to obviously - you know, President Putin isn't sitting on his couch, you know, hacking into John Podesta's email accounts. The way this stuff happens is quite complex. And that is the same thing with some of the cyber breaches that you don't just see the Russians involved in, but the Iranians, North Korean, the Chinese. They get complex with the actors that are actually engaging in the hacks and the relationships there. So from that standpoint, be I think the President is right that it is a little bit more complex than, you know, beyond the general statement that - which is believe that Russia meddled in our elections last year. That point President Trump is absolutely right about.
CABRERA: How do you hold somebody accountable, though, if you don't say definitively they did it?
ZELDIN: Well, for one, it is our sanctions. There is a bill working its legislative will through Congress right now. Senate passed a bill that is coming over to the House. It's not just related to this one aspect of -- I believe Russia is an adversary of the United States and is multifaceted. And so when we are looking at the dynamic with regards to Ukraine and the increased trade with North Korea and the propping up of the Assad regime or their relationship with the Taliban in Afghanistan where our service members are there, it is multifaceted. But we operate under the principal of military economics and the best way for us to respond across the board is using the principals of dying with military being a last possible option.
The only thing I would add specifically with cyber is that I believe that the best cyber defense is to have a good cyber offense. And to proactively have the ability and for the Russians to know it and Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians that there is a willingness for us to go on offense against them is an important part of our cyber warfare capabilities.
[16:21:02] CABRERA: Congressman Lee Zeldin, we got to leave it there. Thank you for the discussion. I really appreciate it.
ZELDIN: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, the President now saying he appreciates China's help with North Korea just after saying China was emboldening the regime by stepping up trade. So which is it?
And do you notice anybody out of place in this photo? Look closely. Ivanka Trump taking her father's seat during this meeting at the G-20. Why some are saying it's out of line next.
[16:25:34] CABRERA: Before leaving Germany and the G-20 Summit a short time ago, President Trump met with the President of China and the top of their agenda was North Korea and what to do about their missile tests and the rising aggression toward its Asian neighbors and the U.S.
Today, President Trump told the Chinese leader he appreciates all he has done on North Korea. It's a message that has changed more than once.
With me now to discuss, CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott. Also "Daily Beast" columnist and author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea take on the world" Gordon Chang.
So Elise, just three days ago, let's remind everybody what the president tweeted. He wrote trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for China working with us. But we had to give it a try.
And then today he said he appreciates what China has done on North Korea. Those seem to be different positions.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Ana, I think we have seen that a lot of times President Trump kind of tweets what he is thinking but then has to go into these meetings with word leaders and actually work with them.
And you know, China has really been seen as the linchpin of the U.S. policy towards North Korea. The President was really hoping to build a relationship with China. I don't think that he has really given up on that.
You heard secretary of state Rex Tillerson briefing reporters today that, you know, need to use a little bit of patience with China. That is the word that the administration had said was over when it came to North Korea. But I think when it comes to China, they can't give up because really China is North Korea's real only ally. Certainly financial backer. And so that is why I think all roads to North Korea lead through Beijing.
CABRERA: We did hear from treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin on this issue, the readout from the meeting that the President held with the Chinese President Xi.
Let me read you what we got from Mnuchin, that I think there were substantive discussions about the financing of North Korea. We had substantive discussions about ways of dealing with North Korea together and I think that President Trump made it very clear to President Xi that he is moving on this issue and wants to move forward and make progress.
Gordon, you think you may though where this is headed?
GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Yes. Well, it's significant that Mnuchin was the one who is briefing reporters on Air Force One because it was last Thursday that Mnuchin's treasury department cut off a small Chinese bank for money laundering for North Korea.
I'm sure the discussion in Hamburg between Trump and Xi was look, that was a small bank. I'm going after pulse of the big Chinese banks that have been money laundering for North Korea including bank of China, one of China's big four banks, because the U.N. in a report last year named bank of China for money laundering for North Korea. So I'm sure that that is where the conversation was during that very direct discussion as Mnuchin called it. CABRERA: Do you think that is a good idea? If that is indeed what
the discussion was, what is your take? Good yes
CHANG: Yes, I think HE HAD TO DO -- Trump had to do that. And the reason is, you know, with all the century, two decades now we have tried to give concessions to the Chinese, be friendly with them to get their help on North Korea. Well, it hasn't worked for two administrations prior to Trump's. So I think what he has to do now is start enforcing U.S. law.
You know, whatever we think our career policies should be or what our China policy should be, the U.S. President needs to enforce U.S. law. And that's what they are doing when they are cutting off these banks for money laundering.
CABRERA: So Elise, again, the readout from Mnuchin, the two had a very direct talk. Trump saying he is ready to make progress on North Korea. In your eyes having covered this region, what is the measuring stick for progress?
LABOTT: I think they want to see decreased trade by China with North Korea. They saw them cut off coal imports from North Korea. But I think they would like to see a lot more. You know, some of those sanctions are not fully being implemented. So I think they want to see China implement the U.N. resolution, the sanctions and those resolutions to the letter of the law.
You know, you saw in that tweet by President Trump that trade is actually increasing. I think they would like to see a decrease in trade and demonstrable efforts that North Korea is trying to deny - that China is trying to deny the regime hard currency. Because really they are only getting it from China.
CABRERA: Elise Labott and Gordon Chang, thank you both for weighing in.
Coming up, diplomat daughter. What the White House is saying about Ivanka Trump standing in for her father at a G-20 meeting.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:34:14] CABRERA: If one of the moments getting a lot of buzz from the G-20, a picture of Ivanka Trump today briefly sitting in for her father during a meeting with world leaders. In that moment she was shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese President and British prime minister.
I want to bring in CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett and talk more about this.
Kate, what is the White House saying about Ivanka sitting in her father's seat?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the White House is definitely down playing this incident saying it was very brief. We can actually see what their statement is. They were, you know, they are saying that the President stepped away just shortly and that in his place, Ivanka stepped in. They said it's not unusual. They said other world leaders also got up and left the table and they were replaced by an assistant.
However, I think this picture which was snapped by a Russian interpreter/translator at the event who has since deleted the image I might say from her twitter feed just sort of caused a few ripples there and certainly was something that was unexpected even if it wasn't brief. And so it certainly went viral on the internet today.
[16:35:21] CABRERA: Let me ask you also about the first lady. A lot of buzz regarding some of the roles she had played on this. Not only did she peek in apparently on the meeting or I think, you know, the secretary of state tried to be joking as he said that she came into see if they wanted to end their meeting because they had already been talk about an hour at that point and they were only supposed to go for about 30 minutes, but we know they continued to talk. And then, here is this image of the first lady sitting right next to President Putin at the dinner that same day. Do we know more about this?
BENNETT: I mean, what a day Melania Trump had that day. First in the morning she is stuck in her hotel trapped there because security won't let her leave because of the protests. Then she stepped into sort of break up this meeting that has gone long. And as the secretary of state said many people popped their heads in and tried to wrap it up and she was one of them and obviously they did not succeed. And then she sort of emerges in this white dress and really is very captivating at the reception of the family photo and ends up being seated right next to Vladimir Putin, sort of the man of the hour that her husband spent time with yesterday. Everyone was talking about.
Russian is not one of the languages that Melania Trump speaks. However, she does speak German and apparently Putin speaks German as well. But as we saw in these pictures, there was a translator. But they certainly appeared to be getting on and enjoying each other. And the White House had nothing to do with the seating arrangements. So it was just happens down.
CABRERA: I also want to show a picture of the first lady today sitting in on the bilateral meeting with President Abe of Japan. I'm curious what this tells us about the first lady's role as she is now with the President at the White House. We know they made the move earlier in the month or last month. Is it uncommon for a first lady to sit in on some of these more formal meetings?
BENNETT: You know, I think it's somewhat unusual to have a first lady sit in on a bi-lat with a world leader as she did with Abe today. However, the White House tells CNN they just shared that she was invited to sit in on this meeting by President Trump and that he often invites her to sit in on meetings. So this is a little bit telling about what her role is and how she might guide or give advice to the President. She is certainly been more visible during the meetings these appearances in Europe, one before in May, their trip abroad and now this one. We have seen more of her and heard more from her. And now that she is in the White House, sure, I think that this is an indication that we could be seeing more of this.
CABRERA: All right. Kate Bennett, thanks so much.
I want to talk more with CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He is a historian and professor at Princeton University. And also with us national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics" Caitlin Huey- Burn.
So first, I want to ask you guys about this, this Ivanka sitting in her father's seat at the G-20 meeting alongside all the other heads of state who were part of that. And this is what Brian Fallon tweeted. Of course, he was a spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign, but he writes I'm sure Republicans would have taken it in stride if Chelsea Clinton was deputized to perform head of state duties. Caitlin, is that fair?
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REEALCLEARPOLITICS: A little bit of a subtle quip there, but I think that he is right. I think Republicans would have been up in arms if this were in this situation in which Chelsea Clinton, if that were the situation were.
The criticism that Ivanka has come under is that she does not have this experience on the world stage. She does not have the experience yet in politics. Her role is somewhat undefined. She is an adviser to the president. She has been very involved in these kinds of things. People haven't really seen the extent to which she is involved in terms of what actually has come out of her involvement, so to speak. So that is why there is criticism of her being present at this kind of meeting particularly next to heads of state.
CABRERA: But Julian, do you think it's in part because we haven't had adult children in the White House?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. So the first family is taking on a different role given their age, but I think it taps into two issues. One is unease some people have of how professional this White House is in handling some of these matters. And so this becomes a question are they treating it lightly, just have someone sit in without thinking it through.
And it also taps into the concerns about the Trump family and what role the extended family plays in public policy given all the economic interests that the family has. So I think that is why what might be the smallest story in some ways of the last few days is quickly elevated.
CABRERA: One of the biggest stories of the last few days has been the meeting between the President of Russia and our President, President Trump. And the he said/he said that has emerged over the conversation about Russia's election meddling. They both agree this came up that the President brought it up and President Putin today on camera said in fact they exchange several questions than answers regarding the election meddling. But ultimately according to Putin the President accepted what he was told, that Russia wasn't involved.
Now, the President and his administration has been given many opportunities to rebut those claims. And to date three times his administration did not rebut those claims, Caitlin.
[16:40:30] HUEY-BURNS: And it's striking particularly as Putin and other world leaders have given press conferences after the G-20 at the conclusion of the summit. President Trump chose not to do that, not to talk to reporters about this which I think is a big missed opportunity for him particularly as they are trying to kind of tell accomplishments from the summit.
The headline of course from that meeting was that the President addressed meddling with Putin. But as it has been pointed out, the President has undermined his owned security agencies on a number of occasions. He has talked about whether it was Russia, whether it was other countries, he hasn't given a definitive answer about what he really believe. So that is why there is a lot of concern about this kind of he said/he said coming out of this meeting. And the White House not denying necessarily given the opportunity to do so, Putin and Russia's comments. It speaks to whether the President really does care about meddling particularly as we have heard from these hearings that Russia plans to do it again.
CABRERA: I want to on ask you and tap into your historian expertise that you have join about how this dynamic that we saw coming out of that meeting between the Russian President and President Trump both saying niceties about each other, how that compares to past administration.
ZELIZER: Well, that is not unusual including with Putin himself. He is often met with many leaders, President Obama early on. President George W. Bush famously had this great meeting with him where he came out feeling that he could trust him. And each time, not always as quickly as this, the Russian leadership undermines that feeling of good will. So that is the part of the reason there is concern about President Trump embracing him so vigorously at this summit.
Not only was there this intervention, but he is not someone who can be trusted. This fits a very familiar pattern with him. And so then there is the question of why isn't the President then more vigorous and more assertive when these kinds of questions come up about whether the intervention happened and what he plans to do.
He chose to have the meeting and he chose to have the two hour meeting. So then he has to answer some of these questions.
CABRERA: Do you think by not answering a question it also buries some of the talking points that he would want to get out regarding what they discussed such as the Syrian Deconfliction zone and so forth?
ZELIZER: Absolutely. And this is a history of the Trump presidency. He often undermines some of his own potential talking points or accomplishments depending on your point of view. But he could have talked about that cease fire and said look, this is what I'm trying to do. Other Presidents have tried ceasefires and President Obama tried it, didn't work. I'm trying it. We have a limited ceasefire. We are going to see if we can move this forward. This is the whole reason I want to re-establish better relations. But that is not the story that we are talking about. And some of the responsibility rests on President Trump himself.
CABRERA: Julian and Caitlin, thank you both for coming on.
HUEY-BURNS: Thank you.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, Venezuela's humanitarian crisis spills into Colombia. Thousands of people including starving children are streaming in desperate for something to eat.
[16:47:50] CABRERA: Venezuela Supreme Court said it released opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from prison to house arrest because of health problems. A defiant Lopez raised a Venezuela flag on his house soon after his release. He has been in prison since early 2014. There is a rallying cry for the opposition and demonstrators there.
Meantime, near daily clashes between government forces and protesters have are essentially paralyzed the country for months and now thousands of starving people are streaming into nearby Colombia in search of relief.
Here is Leyla Santiago.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 6-year-old Natalie wants food. She is hungry. Her mother hears, but she doesn't have anything to give her. The family of five sitting on a street corner in (INAUDIBLE), Columbia made the journey from Venezuela last month. Ask Natalie why she is here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She says things are tough because of Maduro, the President of Venezuela. Their lives here selling lollipops living day to day are an escape from political unrest, shortages and violence. Here they can make money and eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She said she is here because she has to make money for the hotel.
The family depends on the generosity of others in a place where some help, many don't and most are too distracted to notice the little boy who hasn't had a meal today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: The mayor of Cucuta says the town cannot afford to support what he calls an exodus of Venezuelans. If anyone understands limited resources, it's Freddie. These lollipops are all they have to sell and to eat. Yet with the little money he collects about $8 on a good day, the family pays for a room and their meal. Tonight a few bread rolls, a few for his sons and a few for complete strangers, another Venezuelan family just like his. Because at the end of the day, dad wants his kids to understand this isn't what he wants for them, but it should be appreciated.
[16:50:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: This life they are living he says far away from home, no money, no school, is still better than what many are living in Venezuela, even if here they feel invisible.
Leyla Santiago, CNN, Cucuta, Columbia.
CABRERA: We will be right back. Stay with us.
[16:54:36] CABRERA: Tomorrow night CNN presents the new original series "THE NINETIES." exploring a decade that brought us the Clintons, dial up modems, Nirvana, Seinfeld and the spectacle that grips the nations, that O.J. Simpson trial.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The O.J. Simpson case was such a national phenomenon that those of us who were covering it just lived this case 24 hours a day because there was so much demand for people talking about it.
[16:55:06] DAVID BLOOM, NBC NEWS: As Simpson struggled to slide the gloves on to his hands and turned to our jurors saying they are too small, prosecutors were incensed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trial was on television during the hours that had traditionally been the time for soap operas. And O.J. was very much a soap opera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was impeached by his own witness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I ask you to put a stop to it.
MARCIA CLARK, PROSECUTOR: Excuse me, Mr. Bailey. Stand up and speak when it's your turn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No question that the best TV show of the '90s was the O.J. Simpson trial and everybody on it was riveting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC news in-depth tonight, the Simpson trial finally winding to a close.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant (INAUDIBLE) Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder in violation of penal code section 187a.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial viewed by 150 million people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's more people than watched Presidential election returns. That is crazy.
CABRERA: The original series "THE NINETIES" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern and pacific only on CNN.
We will be right back. Stay with us.