Former Obama adviser: Helsinki summit a 'tragic display of sycophancy'

George Stephanopoulos interviews Ambassador Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama's national security adviser, on "This Week."
6:57 | 07/22/18

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Transcript for Former Obama adviser: Helsinki summit a 'tragic display of sycophancy'
Investor Susan Rice Nash your visor and a bastion UN under President Obama and ambassador presents take up just where we're Tom bosh had just left off. Right they say what you should look at is how tough the president and his administration been toughest sanctions yet. On Russia that's what matters. Well George good morning I think what Tom is ignoring with all due respect is the fact that the sanctions that the president. And the administration have imposed on Russia only came as a result of a congressional mandate. That required him to do so the president has cast doubt. Repeatedly including this week on the legitimacy of the unanimous intelligence community finding that Russia directly interfered in our elections. He is undermine NATO he's called the European Union foe is imposed. Harsh tariffs on our closest allies. He's with drawn us from the trans Pacific partnership agreement he's taken a series of steps that had Vladimir Putin's dictated them he couldn't have merit more effectively. What his motivations are I think is a legitimate question one that I trust that the special counsel it is investigating. But the policies that this president has pursued globally have served Vladimir Putin's interest in dividing the west undermining democracy. Increasing dangers within NATO. And has done very little to advance US entry you mentioned the president's motivations does that mean you think it's an open question whether or not he's compromised by Russia. George I don't know what his motivations are I think that's a legitimate question and it is been reinforced. Not only by the series of policy steps that I just you mention that he's taken that has served Russian interest as opposed to US insurers. But it was also reinforce sadly this week by that tragic display of sick infancy. In Helsinki. Where the president. Called into question yet again standing next to battered recruitment dictator. The integrity of our intelligence community. He offered before or he seemed to be willing to consider. An offer to hand over our ambassador to Russia former ambassador Michael McFall and others. Two. To the Russians for questioning and then it was this year is an extraordinary congratulations. That really do legitimately call into question the what is going on. We've heard from the Russians about what they thing where the agreements. In in Helsinki talking something some preliminary agreements on Syria perhaps on Ukraine. As well we just heard Tom buster say he's been informed that there were no agreements we haven't heard that much from the administration in public what exactly do you think we need to know. About those two hours between Latimer prudent and Donald Trott. George we need to know everything and the president's national security team needs to know everything it was a historic mistake. To allow the president in the United States not just Donald Trump but any president frankly. To sit for two hours without any no takers without any aides present. With one of the most adversarial leaders of the world relative to the United States we have no idea what transpired and very predictably. The Russians are feeding their line of what happened we are hearing no. Rebuttal or comment from the United States Russia is dictating then the public perception of the global public perception. Of what transpired in that meeting and we have no basis for countering it it's a very very uncomfortable and indeed dangerous situation for the United States to be and they're never should have been a one on one meeting of any length. And now we are left to wonder and even the president's cabinet members are left to wonder what exactly happened. How about the idea that we have to engage Russia the important. Country on the world scene. They're clearly an adversary in places like Syria important in North Korea. And that that's why we need to engage we need to talk to them and even as Tom Bostick said a second summit may make sense. The Georgia I don't think a second summit particularly at the White House makes sense any time soon certainly not in light. Of what is happen this week. But I am not opposed to the notion of engaging the Russians whether we engage them as we must on a daily basis as I did and this. Ambassador Haley doesn't the United Nations or whether. The leaders themselves. Meet from time to time the problem with this encounter was as follows first of all. It really. Who was best or gets organized as a a more informal discussion. On the margins of some multilateral meeting whether that would have been the United Nations General Assembly meeting coming up in September or the G warning. It didn't need to be a stand alone summit would all sorts of pomp and circumstance. It certainly didn't need to entail a one on one meeting without no takers for two hours which as I mentioned was a very serious mistake. They are things to discuss with the Russians but we should have come into that meeting. Very well prepared pressing hard grave concern about Russian interference in our elections. Using the indictment which Mueller had just lay down to reinforce the veracity of our -- case. We should've pressed on issues like North Korea Syria Ukraine. Not take Vladimir Putin's line on these issues but rather to advance our interests and our objectives. There's no. Inherent problem with two leaders even from hostile countries. Engaging in dialogue I support that but you must come prepared you must come to advance the United States agenda. Not to. Like prostate for the Russian it has as you know president trump says it's the fault of President Obama and his predecessors that you especially Asians are his faulty had to treat coming into the first summit talking that you this foolishness. And stupidity he called President Obama a total patsy for Putin's. Yeah I mean that's that kind of language is ridiculous it's offensive and it doesn't frankly reflect well on president trump. Any American president should stand up for the United States of America for in the present and historically when meeting with Vladimir Putin. It was President Obama. Who led the in the United States and our European allies to impose very strong sanctions. On Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine. It's president trump whose suggested that Crimea belongs properly trip to Russia and that he be prepared to consider. Some accommodation for Russia. These are vehicle Ukraine's so you know president trump can throw all kinds of epithets around it seems that's how. He he likes to govern but the facts are that are the facts and the reality is that the United States on a bipartisan basis. Needs to be unified in its opposition to Russia's policies. To its efforts to undermine our democracy. And our domestic political discourse. And we shouldn't be casting aspersions on. Once predecessors we should be looking Putin's squarely in the in delivering. The message that supports United States' interest not Russian interests passer rice thanks for time this morning. Thank you George.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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