This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," July 15, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. We're live in Helsinki, ahead of President Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is representing Russia. I'm representing the United States. So in a sense we are competitors. Not a question of friend or enemy.
WALLACE: But will the meeting be overshadowed by the indictment of a dozen Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election?
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's important for the president to know what information we've uncovered because he's got to make very important decisions for the country.
WALLACE: This hour, we'll discuss all the issues at the summit. Election meddling, Syria, Ukraine, and arms control with the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, and with Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who says President Trump should demand Russian intelligence stopped their cyber attacks.
Then, we'll review President Trump's tense meeting with NATO leaders. Is he treating adversaries better than longtime U.S. allies?
TRUMP: Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They are getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.
WALLACE: And --
TRUMP: Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.
WALLACE: President Trump's Supreme Court nominee heads to Capitol Hill as the confirmation battle starts.
We'll ask our Sunday panel about Democratic efforts to block Judge Brett Kavanaugh. All right now on "Fox News Sunday".
WALLACE: You are looking live at the presidential palace in Helsinki where President Trump will meet tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The 19th century palace, overlooking the waterfront market square and the Baltic Sea, is the same place where George H.W. Bush met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev 28 years ago.
And hello again from FOX News, today in Finland.
Monday's summit will be the first in-depth meeting between the two leaders as they discuss trouble spots across the globe, but casting a shadow over the summit, the new indictment of Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.
In a moment, we'll discuss expectations for the talk with U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman.
And tomorrow, I'll sit down for an exclusive interview with President Putin on Fox News Channel and get first word on what the two leaders discussed.
But first, let's bring in chief White House correspondent John Roberts here in Helsinki -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good afternoon to you.
President Trump is lowering expectations for what might come out of tomorrow's summit here in Helsinki, saying it might not amount to much, but one thing is clear, these two leaders do have an awful lot to talk about.
ROBERTS: President Trump is seeking to distance himself from the Friday indictment of 12 Russian agents for meddling in the 2016 election.
The president tweeting: These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn't Obama do something about it? Because he thought crooked Hillary wood win, that's why.
On Friday, the deputy attorney general said there was definitely an attempt by Russian operatives to throw the election.
ROSENSTEIN: The conspirators created fictitious online personas, including D.C. Leaks and Guccifer 2.0. And they used those personas to release information. They discussed the timing of release in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election.
ROBERTS: President Trump promised he will bring up Russian meddling in the election when he meets with Putin. Back home, Democrats declared there's no way the two leaders should meet in private.
SEN. MARK WARNER, D-VIRGINIA, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR: There should be no one-on-one meeting between this president and Mr. Putin. There needs to be other Americans in the room.
ROBERTS: Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement in election meddling, an assertion repeated by President Trump just two weeks ago. The indictments would seem to tell a different story.
Despite assessments for members of his own party that the president appears eager to cozy up to Putin, even as he slams America's allies, President Trump insists he is holding Putin to account.
TRUMP: I guarantee whoever it is in Russia, they are saying oh, gee, do we wish that Trump was not the victor in that election. We have been far tougher on Russia than anybody.
ROBERTS: British diplomats tell FOX News that President Trump has indeed been tough on Russia, but there are concerns that in looking to improve relations with Vladimir Putin, the president might give away too much. For example, at that Friday press conference at Chequers with Theresa May, the president told me he did think it was possible for the United States and Russia to improve relations, even if Russia continues to occupy Crimea -- Chris.
WALLACE: John Roberts reporting here in Helsinki -- John, thank you.
Joining me now, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman.
Ambassador, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".
JON HUNTSMAN, JR., U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Thank you, Chris. Pleasure to be with you.
WALLACE: I want to start with president Trump's comments coming into the summit this week in Helsinki. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I have NATO, I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all, who would think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Ambassador, do you for the president's meeting with Putin as the easiest he has this week?
HUNTSMAN: Well, I would say that the president is our most experienced negotiator elected president in recent years. Putin similarly is a very experienced negotiator. He's an intelligence operative. That's how he approaches all of his subjects, thinking in terms of an intelligence operation. They're both very experienced and wise to the world.
For the president, the challenges are certainly there, but I think he is genuinely looking forward to sitting across the table and trying to reduce the tension in a relationship where our collective blood pressure is off the charts high. And it's not good for the United States and is not good for the world.
WALLACE: The reason I ask is that you briefed the media before the president left for Europe and here's some of what you had to say: The ball really is in Russia's court on the president will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malign activities.
Just to make sure, I looked up malign in a dictionary and as I thought it means evil.
What Russian activities do you consider evil?
HUNTSMAN: Well, trying to influence other elections, not only our own, but those in Europe, tampering with the Brexit boat, funding nefarious political movements within Europe. The list goes on and on and on.
So, when the president looks at the totality of the Russian relationship, this is one piece of it, addressing their malign activity in their election meddling. But there's a whole lot more that is part of our relationship that has to be discussed too. We can't turn our back to what has happened. We have to learn from it, be informed and be smart going forward.
But I think is the president approaches he's looking at arms control, probably the most important issue we have here is nonproliferation. The two countries are 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.
You have Syria, you have North Korea, you have Ukraine, and a lot of bilateral issues.
WALLACE: I'm going to get into a few of those issues in a moment, but just generally speaking, what does President Trump want from Putin at the summit in terms of changes in specific policies, and what is he prepared to give him in return?
HUNTSMAN: Well, it's premature to say what anybody is going to get in return because the president is coming into the summit with 460 sanctions against individuals and entities. They will stay until there is concrete movement on some of the issues that matter most, namely Ukraine.
So, what the president will be looking for, and listen, he's been totally consistent on this since my first conversation with him, he says I want to reduce the risk. I want to take the element of danger such that I can out of the U.S.-Russian relationship.
We are 90 percent of the nuclear weapons. We have overlapping interests in Syria. If we can't fix those, chances are we're going to find ourselves in a very small combat zone which could lead to some very dangerous outcomes.
So, I think the key here is this is the first time that President Trump has met across the table with president Putin. If they met on the sidelines of Hamburg G20. They met the APEC summit in Vietnam.
But they haven't had an opportunity to actually sit across the table, get to know each other and actually sort through the issues that really matter.
So, key will be, where do we have overlapping and shared interests? I can tell you where we don't have interest and so can the rest of the world, but where is it where we can actually join forces to make the world somewhat more stable? That's just not happening right now and it's not going to happen until the heads of state deem these to be important.
WALLACE: A number of foreign policy experts are concerned that we'll see here in Helsinki what we saw in Singapore, where President Trump seem to make unilateral concessions to North Korean Chairman Kim in terms of the U.S. suspending participation in war games with South Korea and not get anything specific in return.
Can you assure our viewers, can you assure the American people that the president will not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, that he will not pull U.S. troops out of Syria, and that he will do nothing in this meeting to weaken the NATO defense alliance?
HUNTSMAN: The president is chief negotiator, not me. He has a good sense of what these issues are. He has a good sense of where he wants to go.
He wants to improve this bilateral relationship and he wants to find ourselves on the same page and some of these common interest areas.
There's no guarantee that this is going to work out, Chris, but you're never going to know until you take that first step. And that first step has not been taken until tomorrow.
WALLACE: But -- and I understand your position, you're the ambassador, he's the president. But you can't rule out the possibility he might recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea?
HUNTSMAN: Highly unlikely. Crimea was a violation of international law, we all recognize that. That's U.S. policy.
You look at eastern Ukraine, the so-called breakaway provinces in Donbass, a violation of international law. Not only for us, but for the Europeans as well. These are very, very serious issues and issues that we have some serious sanctions tied to, by the way.
I mentioned the 460 sanctions we have against individual and entities. These sanctions are not going to all of a sudden disappear until there is movement in terms of settling out some of these ongoing issues.
WALLACE: You say another thing that the U.S. needs to do at this summit and just generally is to hold Russia accountable for its meddling in the 2016 election. Now, as you well know, the Justice Department announced a new indictment on Friday of 12 Russian military officers for hacking into Democratic computers, stealing information and then releasing it to the American public in the hopes of disrupting the election.
Do you have any doubt that the GRU, Russian military intelligence, conducted these operations?
HUNTSMAN: You are asking me personally? Having access to information that may be other people don't have access to. Those who have followed this issue closely, there's very little doubt in my mind about what we are seeing.
The investigation was rolled up almost 30 Russians in total. The process and investigation are playing out and that's part of holding Russia accountable and responsible for election meddling and malign activity. It's part of getting through our relationship. This is part of it.
But let me tell you something else. We've got to at some point quit looking in the rearview mirror. We have to be informed by what we've been through and use that to educate us as we go forward.
But at some point, we have to look forward and around the bend. We have an election coming up in November and if there is meddling in the election this November, like we saw in 2016, we're not going to have much of a relationship left and all of these other issues that we're talking about in trying to find common ground going to be exceedingly difficult to do. So, we have a real world case study that's about to play out in November that's going to be very important in this bilateral relationship. They know it and we know it and we've brought it up time and time again, and we'll have to see if this is a test ultimately of whether we can get through the months ahead.
WALLACE: You say you have very little doubt that the Russian state, Russian military intelligence was involved in this interference, disruption, or attempt at it of the 2016 election. I ask you about that because here is what President Trump said yesterday about the indictments. Let's put it up on the screen.
He tweeted this: The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama administration, not the Trump administration. Why didn't they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September before the election?
Question, why is Mr. Trump focusing on political blame in the U.S. instead of the malign activities, to use your phrase, of the Russians. How was that helpful?
HUNTSMAN: Well, he's bringing up may be a material point about the history of this issue. And I think he feels it. Everybody who I have associated with in the U.S.-Russia business, we all kind of talk about this issue a little differently, but we are all basically focused on the same point, and that is Russia is guilty of involvement and mischief in our election this last go around.
WALLACE: But, sir, he didn't mention Russia in this tweet at all, he just laid the blame on President Obama.
HUNTSMAN: Chris, the president has mentioned it. In his own way he has mentioned it, he is well aware of it and I suspect tomorrow, it will be part of the conversation.
WALLACE: Senator John McCain has called with the Russians did and meddling in our 2016 election, quote, an act of war. Was it?
HUNTSMAN: It was a malign activity. An act of war? It depends on who's describing what an act of war is.
I know that John McCain, somebody I admire and revere, somebody who has been an inspiration to me through my career, on issues we disagreed over the years, he has a very hard line towards Russia and I respect that, and it doesn't surprise me that he would say that.
But I think what's important, again, Chris, is that we look towards this November and make sure we have the kind of dialogue, which we will begin tomorrow with the Russians.
WALLACE: And to put them on notice?
HUNTSMAN: To put them on notice, as we have already in our meetings at a diplomatic level. That's why tomorrow's session is going to be important. November is looming and we have to make sure we can navigate this relationship through the months ahead if we're ever going to get around to arms control, Syria, DPRK, Ukraine and bilateral.
WALLACE: So, how do we measure what happens tomorrow in Helsinki? Should we even expect any specific breakthroughs? What does success here look like?
HUNTSMAN: You know, to me if somebody who's in the trenches in Moscow, on the front lines dealing with this relationship day in and day out, I eat it, I sleep it, I breathe it.
The very fact that we have our heads of state getting together for this kind of conversation is a big, big deliverable. One thing we have to be mindful of in all of this is every president since the Cold War has done a reset or a redo, heightened expectations, only to have all expectations dashed.
You don't want to have that play out all over again. Be informed by history. We have interest, so do they. Put your cards on the table, see where we have overlapping interests where we can problem-solve together to make the Middle East less volatile, to help move North Korea towards denuclearization, to help resolve the sovereignty issue in Ukraine.
The world would benefit from that and that that will require the United States and Russia.
WALLACE: Ambassador Huntsman, thank you. Thanks --
HUNTSMAN: A great pleasure, Chris.
WALLACE: -- for sharing your time this weekend. The whole world --
HUNTSMAN: Congratulations on the interview you've got with President Putin. I wish you great luck.
WALLACE: Thank you for the plug.
The whole world will be watching what happens here tomorrow in Helsinki.
HUNTSMAN: Agree (ph). Thank you.
Up next, some top Democrats are calling for President Trump to cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin after the indictment of Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election. We'll ask Democratic Senator Chris Coons about that and more as "FOX News Sunday" continues live from Helsinki.
WALLACE: Welcome back to Helsinki, ahead of tomorrow's summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
There is plenty for the two leaders to talk about here. International hot spots in Europe and the Middle East, and, of course, the continuing controversy over Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Joining me now from Wilmington, Delaware, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, in the wake of the indictment of those 12 Russian intelligence officers, the announcement on Friday for alleged interference in the 2016 election, should President Trump canceled the summit with Vladimir Putin?
SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DELAWARE, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, no, Chris, I think it's too late for him to cancel the summit. But President Trump needs to make it clear that he knows who he is meeting with.
He's not meeting with a competitor. He is not meeting with a potential friend. He's meeting with an adversary. And President Trump's own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, just said on Friday that Russia continues to be our most aggressive foreign adversary and an ongoing threat to our upcoming elections.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on the president's reaction and response because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in announcing the indictment on Friday said that he had briefed President Trump before he left for Europe, but this is how President Trump has addressed the whole issue here in the days before the summit in Europe.
This is how he talked first of all about the Mueller investigation, and how he intends to bring up the issue with Vladimir Putin. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call it the rigged witch hunt. I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I will absolutely bring that up. I don't think you will have any gee, I did it, I did it, you got me. There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think, but you never know what happens, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, are you worried about how tough President Trump will be with Putin and the summit about Russian meddling in 2016 and about the potential for more in 2018?
COONS: I am. I'm very concerned, and frankly, Chris, as you just brought up in your interview with Ambassador Huntsman, there is a menu of things to be concerned about, that he might withdraw American troops from Syria, that he might cancel military exercises with our regional allies, that he might recognize Russia's annexation with Crimea and you pressed the ambassador whether he could say with confidence he would do none of those things or weaken a NATO alliance, another thing you raised, and he couldn't say that with clarity and confidence.
And after President Trump's whiplash performances in Brussels, the United Kingdom and the G7 summit, I will say it's difficult to predict with clarity what president Trump will or won't do with Vladimir Putin. That's what gives me real pause.
WALLACE: I'm going to get to some of those other issues in a moment, but let's go back to this issue of election meddling. When I talk to Ambassador Huntsman, and I said, are you going to put the Russians on notice? No meddling in November in the midterms or the relationship is in dire jeopardy, and he said yes.
Do you have confidence that President Trump will do that, and how do you think you should do that? How high should you raise the stakes about interference in the midterms?
COONS: Look, there's nothing more important than our being a democracy. Just by meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Trump is potentially advancing Putin's goals of ending some of his isolation after his illegal annexation of Crimea. So, I think he needs to make it clear that we know that they interfered in our 2016 elections and stop calling this a rigged witch hunt, and he needs to say that the sanctions already passed by Congress, the Countering America's Adversary Sanctions Act that was passed by 98-2, that those sanctions will be more broadly and more vigorously and more thoroughly implemented by the Trump administration unless Russia accepts accountability for their illegal actions and stops meddling in our elections and the elections of our allies.
WALLACE: Senator, at the end of the NATO conference this week in Belgium, the president said that the alliance is strong, but along the way during his time there he took some shots at some of our allies. Here are a couple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from years back where they are delinquent as far as I'm concerned because the United States has had to pay for them. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they were getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. And you tell me if that's appropriate, because I think it's not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, do you think President Trump is strengthening the NATO alliance, or weakening it, and how do you feel that might play out in the president's summit with Putin here?
COONS: Well, first, let me commend President Trump for having gotten $14 billion of more investment in their national defense in our collective security by NATO members by pressing them harder than before. This is a trend that began under President Obama and President Bush, but it has accelerated and that's a positive.
But let me also say I'm worried about the ways in which President Trump undermines our NATO collective security by attacking our allies and through his tariff policies. We just had a striking hear it in the Thursday where, on a bipartisan basis, many senators of both parties question whether the Trump administration's national security-based tariffs against vital NATO allies like Canada or Germany or the U.K. weakens our alliance.
These are folks who have suffered combat deaths, more than 1,000 NATO troops have died fighting alongside us in Afghanistan, and I think it's important that we strengthen the alliance and not distract our vital allies from our shared efforts against Russia on security and China on trade.
WALLACE: Senator, let's talk about some of the issues that may come up tomorrow here in Helsinki. There is talk about the possibility that the president will push Putin to scale back Iranian influence in Syria in return for a pullout of some or all of the U.S. troops in northeastern Syria. Do you see the basis for any kind of an agreement there?
COONS: Well, it is critical that we reduce Iran's malign influence in Syria, in particular southwest Syria, where they are directly threatening our vital ally, Israel. But I think for our troops to be pulled out, for us to abruptly abandon our Kurdish allies, who were so central to the defeat of ISIS, would be strategically unwise because if we don't have a presence on the ground, we don't have a seat at the table as the resolution of the Assad regime's brutal war against its own people is negotiated.
And so, I would certainly hope there wasn't an abrupt withdrawal of an American presence in Syria, since it's vital to protecting the folks who fought alongside us in the war against ISIS.
WALLACE: President Trump has refused to rule out accepting the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and here's what he had to say about Putin's actions in that part of the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This was an Obama disaster, and I think if I were president then he would not have taken over Crimea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The fact is, Senator, that President Trump has been tougher than President Obama when it comes to dealing with Russia, especially on the sanctions issue and -- the Crimea issues and others. He's issued more sanctions. He's expelled more diplomats and he also has sent lethal aid to Ukraine, which President Obama refused to do.
COONS: Chris, I supported the provision of lethal aid to Ukraine, I visited Ukraine, and they are very nervous about what might happen between President Trump and President Putin. I will remind you that one of the strong steps that President Obama did take was getting our allies to expel Russia from the G8 to reduce it to the G7.
And in the recent G7 meeting, President Trump said perhaps Russia should rejoin. I would support our reducing sanctions on Russia, allowing them to rejoin G8 if they took the steps that they must take to withdraw their forces from eastern Ukraine, to undo the illegal annexation of Crimea, but to simply waive that, to say it is somehow all Obama's fault and let's move forward would be to weaken our vital allies in Europe who have joined us in sustaining tough sanctions against Russia.
I commend President Trump for the steps he has taken, but to simply waive this off as Obama's fault misses the vital historical context here. President Putin is the first Russian leader since Stalin to expand their territory. We can't allow this to go unchallenged.
WALLACE: Senator, I've got less than a minute left and I want you to switch hats and put on your hat as a top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unlike some of your colleagues, you have not already announced that you're going to vote against the president's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. You say that you are actually going to wait and listen and talk to him, but you have expressed concerns.
And that raises this issue -- shouldn't a conservative president who made it an issue in the election, shouldn't a president who, like Donald Trump, be able to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court who is well within the conservative mainstream, even if you don't like what his positions are?
COONS: Well, I need to review all of Judge Kavanaugh's record first, Chris, if I could. I've known Brett Kavanaugh for nearly 30 years since law school, but I don't know the details of what he did in the Bush administration, what he did on Judge Starr's independent counsel team, and I certainly haven't read most of his 300 opinions.
I do think it's my job on the Judiciary Committee respecting Judge Kavanaugh's credentials to better understand his jurisprudence and to understand whether he is in fact in the conservative mainstream, or is that one end of it, and would change our Constitution and our jurisprudence in this country that would affect millions of American lives and undo long settled guarantees of freedoms, rights and liberties.
WALLACE: Senator Coons, thank you. Thanks for joining us. It's always good to talk with you, sir.
COONS: Thank you.
WALLACE: So, what can we expect from this summit? Some experts question why it is even being held.
And what about President Trump's attacks on members of the NATO alliance? What was the strategy there? We'll ask two reporters here who cover the summit what they're hearing from our sources on this special edition of "Fox News Sunday" in Helsinki.
WALLACE: Coming up, President Trump takes some shots at allies while embracing Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have NATO. Then we have the U.K. And then we have Putin. And I said, Putin may be the easiest of them all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We'll ask our special panel here in Helsinki what's behind the president's strategy. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The defendants worked for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the Russian general staff, known as the GRU. The units engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday announcing the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for meddling in the election just three days before Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet here in Helsinki.
Now, thousands of reporters have come here to cover this event, and we want to chew things over with two of the most plugged in journalists. Jonathan Swan covers the White House for Axios. Michael Gordon is national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Michael, how big a shadow do you think the indictment of these 12 members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, how big a shadow does not cast over this summit?
MICHAEL GORDON, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I -- I do it -- it will cast a very large shadow over the summit, but I think both President Putin and President Trump are pretty much determined not to make it as a principle issue in their consultation and to be able to come out of the meeting and somehow put it to the side. How they're going to do that, I -- I really don't know, but that's not the reason either of them came here.
WALLACE: Jonathan, as we pointed out in the last segment, President Trump continues to call the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. He says that while he'll raise Russian meddling with Putin, he doesn't seem to be -- give any indication he's going to do it with any particular enthusiasm and that he'll just accept a denial. Is that enough? Does he have to be tougher if only for domestic consumption in the U.S.?
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "AXIOS": Well, certainly has advisors -- a lot -- a lot of his advisors want him to be tougher and have advised him to be tougher. Certainly the intelligence community in the United States, including the nation's top intelligence officer Dan Coats, believe it's a major threat for --
WALLACE: I mean Dan Coats, let's just emphasize this because I'm not sure it got a lot of coverage.
WALLACE: Dan Coats said alarm bells should be ringing --
WALLACE: In comparative to 2001.
SWAN: Right. Yes.
So the problem is Trump sees it -- it doesn't matter how many different ways his advisors talk to him about the issue, he sees it through the prison of him, himself and his election. And he can't get past the fact that he thinks it's people try to delegitimize his election victory. So even though he now accepts, I'm told, the intelligence finding, from what staff have found so far, it's impossible to get him to, as you said, approach it with any aggression or enthusiasm.
WALLACE: Jonathan, I know you've been -- because I read your reporting -- so I know you've been struggling with this in your reporting. What is this summit about? Why is President Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin?
SWAN: Well, I asked him that question -- I asked President Trump that question on, I think it was Friday -- the days are blurring -- in Chequers in --
GORDON: It was Friday.
SWAN: It was Friday. And I said, look, what are the three or four things you want to achieve from this summit? His answer was so big picture as to provide basically no information. He just listed Ukraine, Syria, et cetera.
But I think separately, publicly, he's made very clear what he thinks the summit's about. He said it's a loose meeting. He wants to basically sit man-to-man and see if he can form a relationship with Vladimir Putin.
I know when foreign officials were talking to the White House trying to get information from them about what they were trying to achieve, the answers they found very unsatisfying, the foreign officials. They found them vague and that there seemed to be no real agenda for the summit.
WALLACE: Michael, diplomats -- Jonathan was just talking about them -- diplomats talk about deliverables, specific results that may come out of a summit or any kind of a meeting and benefit one side or the other. Are there specific deliverables for either Trump or Putin you can see coming out of Helsinki?
GORDON: Well, first off, we were all in Singapore and I think President Trump has a view of how to do international relations, which is at the leader level, and that you do it through force of personality, you build up a rapport and somehow he believes he can cut through and breakthrough issues that have stymied lower-level people and start at the top. So what he did with Singapore, and there's still debate about how successful that was with Kim Jong-un, is what he's trying to do here.
In terms of the specific agenda items, I think there are two big things. One is Syria. The White House seems to believe -- I'm not sure other people believe, but they seem to believe that Russia can be a bit of a partner in Syria and somehow easing the Iranians out of the country and thus making it possible for American forces to leave at some point in time. I think you can ask a lot of questions about that strategy, but it's a theme that John Bolton and Secretary Pompeo have returned to again.
Then there's arms control. And in your interview and others, Ambassador Huntsman has signaled that they're looking to extend the New START treaty, which expires in 2021. And President Trump's talked a lot about how he doesn't want an arms race. The issue there is the Russians are now in violation of the INF treaty --
WALLACE: The medium ranked missiles?
GORDON: Right. (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: And -- and -- and just very quickly, and we -- I want to move on, but the New START treaty puts limits on the number -- a cap on the number of nuclear warheads each side can had.
GORDON: Fifty-fifty. And -- but the issue is, that there's been a debate in conservative circles, how can you make a new arms control undertaking until you fixed the Russian violation of the INF treaty, which is an illegal missile they've deployed.
WALLACE: Jonathan, you have been traveling on this entire trip, as you say on Friday, if it's Friday it must be Chequers. You were also in Brussels when the president -- yes, at the end, it was a kind of a feel-good statement by the president. But along the way he took some real shots at NATO in general and Germany in particular. Was there a strategy there in what the president was doing? And how do U.S. officials you've talked to afterwards feel that that went?
SWAN: Well, they -- this -- to the extent that there was a strategy, Trump believes that being very, very tough with all of these NATO member states is the way to get them to pay more money. Now, he overstated the success of the summit afterward, saying they've agreed to things they've never agreed to before. And the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, came out and said, no we didn't, we agreed to exactly what we agreed to last time.
They are increasing their spending of -- under Trump and the NATO secretary general gives them credit for it. But the allies resent how aggressively President Trump has gone after them, particularly the Germans. He's been very, very brutal with Angela Merkel and the Germans just very, very down on -- on the situation.
WALLACE: A couple of final questions.
Big picture, Michael, let me start with you, and it's a question I asked Ambassador Huntsman. What constitutes success from this summit for President Trump, and do you expect any specific, tangible breakthroughs?
GORDON: Well, first off, I think the very meeting -- the fact that the meeting is being held is a success from the Russian standpoint for President Putin because it ends their isolation after the annexation of Crimea. For the Americans, I think it's going to be, does this lead to a process that eventually results in something tangible.
WALLACE: And, Jonathan, what are your sources saying about the summit? What do they expect and what would either please them or disappoint them?
SWAN: Chris, I'm sure you know, this -- no one in the Trump administration pretends to know -- to have sort of wisdom about what President Trump will say in the meetings. They can try to the best extent to forecast it. They've said, you know, he's going to raise election meddling, we're going to discuss arms control, and that does seem to be the one issue President Trump has real, genuine enthusiasm for, nuclear proliferation. But these people know that President Trump is not someone that you can pre-script for these events. So, yes.
WALLACE: I should also just quickly point out, we've obviously been in talk with the Russians because of the interview I'm going to be doing with Vladimir Putin tomorrow. And when we talk to them about having someone come on like Jon Huntsman to preview it from the Kremlin, they basically said, we know so little about what's going to happen at this summit, we don't want to talk. We want to just wait and see what happens, which is why President Putin is going to talk to us afterwards.
Gentlemen, thank you both so much. We'll see -- all cover this together tomorrow and see what happens.
SWAN: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: There is a lot of other news to discuss this week.
President Trump announces his pick for the Supreme Court. What are Brett Kavanaugh's chances for confirmation in a bitterly divided Senate?
We'll discuss that and much more with our Sunday group back in D.C. as "Fox News Sunday" reports live in Helsinki.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law.
ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR: Make no mistake about Judge Kavanaugh. He was put on a list that was prescreened by right wing extremists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren rejecting Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's claim he will keep an open mind if he's elevated to a seat on the Supreme Court.
And it's time now for our Sunday group in D.C. GOP strategist Karl Rove. Charles Lane of The Washington Post. Susan Page from USA Today. And former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
Well, Karl, let me start with you because Brett Kavanaugh survived a photo taken of the two of you while you were working together. You can see how chummy you are here in the Bush White House. President Trump nominated him anyway.
While I'm sure that you dismiss the heated rhetoric from the left, isn't it the case that if Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh, he will be a strong conservative who will limit access to abortion and Obamacare?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he'll be a strong conservative judge who will strictly apply the law. But -- but, guess what, let's go back a little bit of history. With Democrat Bill Clinton nominated to liberals, Ginsburg and Breyer to the Supreme Court, 93 percent of Republican senators supported Ginsberg, 79 percent supported Breyer. When Bush go, in, the Democrats began to filibuster his picks beginning with Miguel Estrada, fearful that his being seated on the D.C. Circuit would set up a future (INAUDIBLE) the Supreme Court --
WALLACE: OK. All right. Enough history. I -- make your point.
ROVE: But -- but maybe -- maybe we ought to get back to the point where we vote for people, judge them in these bids for the Supreme Court on the basis of, are they qualified and do they have the moral and ethical standards to serve on the court and not use these as partisan battles.
WALLACE: Chuck, what about that? I mean it is true that Republicans have generally played by the unofficial rules. And if somebody is within the mainstream, particularly from the Supreme Court, they've been overwhelmingly confirmed. As I pointed out to Senator Coons a moment ago, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he's one of the relatively few Democrats who hasn't already said he's going to vote against him.
CHARLES LANE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, this is a different story because the person Judge Kavanaugh's been appointed to replace his Justice Kennedy, who is the swing vote on a 5-4 court. And everything is riding -- all these major precedents are now riding on this pivotal decision.
I mean I -- I agree with Karl, it would be nice if we could have non-partisan or bipartisan confirmations. I think Democrats would say, in their defense, a lot of them voted for John Roberts not all that --
ROVE: Half. Only half.
LANE: Well, that's still a lot. Not all that long ago. But that's not the world we live in. And I think what we can look forward to over the coming months is a situation in which the Democrats, in particular, are going to try to -- some of them are going to try to really use this nomination as a battle to fire up their base for the November election.
Mind you, this choice that the president has given to the Democrats is probably the hardest one he could have given them because it's putting a lot of red state senators who are Democrats up for re-election on the spot in terms of whether or not they can afford to vote against the choice of a president whose very popular in their states. If he had picked someone like Amy Coney Barrett, who is a little more of a social conservative, that might not have been the case.
WALLACE: Incidentally, I don't know if you could hear the horn here. It was in no way a commentary on Chuck Lane's statement.
We are here live downtown in the harbor in the center of Helsinki and I think a big cruise ship just came in.
I want to switch now to another big story this week, and that is -- there you see -- the trade war between the U.S. and countries around the world. I want to put up some numbers.
This month -- this month alone, President Trump has hit China with tariffs on $34 billion of imports and set in motion tariffs on another $216 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing is retaliating.
We've also imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, and they are striking back.
Here's push back from House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan to President Trump's trade policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN (R-W), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They're unquestionably bad actors, most notably China. But I've made my view clear, new tariffs are not the solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, I can fully understand the idea of launching a trade battle with one or two countries around the world -- the cruise ship's still coming in -- but does it make sense to be in trade wars or battles, skirmishes, whatever you want to call it, with so many countries in so many different parts of the world at the same time?
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think if you apply a new standard, which is, is this good for the United States economy, as opposed to, is this good for some kind of global system, you're going to be in a lot of conflict with a lot of countries.
In the case of Paul Ryan, he ought to talk to his governor. It was Governor Walker who complained about the Canadians. And Governor Walker pointed out that the Canadians routinely do everything they can to hurt American dairy farmers and that's where that whole fight started, was in a conversation between the president and Governor Walker.
The fact is, we are the largest economy in the world, certainly the largest market in the world. We have enormous leverage. We have not used it very effectively. And that's going to make a lot of people very uncomfortable to have an aggressive president who really wants to change the terms of the agreements.
WALLACE: But, Susan, you know, Speaker Gingrich brought up this issue of the economy. The fact is this trade war, if the -- our other -- our counterparts in other countries don't back off, is going to cost a lot of jobs. It certainly has roiled the markets. How much heartburn are all of these tariff battles causing four Republicans in Congress who were planning to go into these midterms campaigning on the idea of a strong economy?
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: And campaigning on the idea of a tax -- the tax cut bill, which has gotten overshadowed by the debate over tariffs. You know, Senator Coons mentioned this bipartisan measure that passed the Senate this week with a majority of Republicans voting for it, trying to basically caution the president against the procedure he used to oppose these aluminum and steel tariffs.
You know, it's not clear to me that the Russian meddling is a big voting issue in the midterm election. But if you start costing people jobs and costing consumers more for things like soybeans and motorcycles and Jack Daniel's, this is an issue that could hurt Republicans running and some of these red states. It could help some of the Democratic senators in red states who are in some trouble on other issues, giving them an issue that goes to people's pocketbooks in some of the states that President Trump carried in 2016.
WALLACE: Finally, Karl, Peter Strzok, the famed or infamous FBI agent, finally testified in public before a House committee this week about the texts that he sent to his lover inside the agency. I never thought I'd be saying that. Texts which show clear bias against Donald Trump and which led to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIE GOHMERT, R-TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: When I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Mr. Chairman, it's outrageous!
PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: The fact that you would question whether or not that was the sort of look I would engage with in a family member who I have acknowledged hurting goes more to a discussion about your character and what you stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Karl, how credible is Agent Strzok when he denies any of his personal opinions as expressed in those texts affected any of the official decisions he made as an FBI officer? And particularly looking back at Louie Gohmert and some others in the committee, did some of the Republicans go too far?
ROVE: Well, sure the Republicans overplayed their hand. Louie Gohmert in particular. Some Democrats overplayed. In fact, a lot of Democrats overplayed their hand by hectoring and interrupting. And one of them, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, suggested Strzok deserved a Purple Heart, that he was a wounded warrior.
But I was struck by two things in this hearing. One is, first of all, what would -- why were the Democrats so unconcerned about this? What if you substituted the name of a Democratic presidential candidate and had an FBI agent in charge of the investigation displaying such an animus towards that Democrat?
And, second of all, you know, Strzok could bare -- you know, bare his teeth and snarl about how the hearing was undermining the credibility of the FBI. Did not that man understand that his animus towards a presidential candidate that he was involved in an investigation of the campaign, didn't he understand that that could undermine credibility of the FBI far more than any kind of a congressional hearing ever could? I don't understand to this day why a man with such particular animus thought he was worthy and -- of being involved in an investigation of somebody against whom he bore such animus who was a candidate for president. He should have recused himself before he ever got to the point where Robert Mueller found out about the texts and immediately fired him. I'm astonished by his performance.
WALLACE: Susan, I literally have about 15 seconds left. Your reaction to what Karl just said about Peter Strzok?
PAGE: Well, you know, he came in there in a pretty vulnerable position. Those texts were a stupid thing for someone who's in a law enforcement official capacity to send.
That said, he came out swinging in a way that I thought made his case, tried to provide some context for what he did. So mostly political theater we saw there that day.
WALLACE: It was pretty good theater.
Thank you, panel. We'll see you next week back in Washington.
Up next, a final word as "Fox News Sunday" continues from Helsinki.
WALLACE: Coverage of the Trump-Putin summit continues on Fox News Channel today and Monday.
And tomorrow, please tune in for my exclusive interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin just after his summit with President Trump. We'll discuss what happened behind closed doors here in Helsinki. That's tomorrow on Fox News Channel.
And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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