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Report: WH Still Will Not Say If Trump Believes in Climate Change; Trump Says Paris Deal Will Kill 27 Million Jobs; CNN Tracks Down Russian Banker Who Met with Kushner. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 2, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER OBAMA ECONOMIC ADVISER: In case like this where it was non-binding thing in which all the countries of the world are holding hands and saying let's try to work towards an improvement, for the United States to thumb its nose at the world, when it was a nonbinding agreement to begin with, is really just hands world leadership over to countries like China and Russia and our adversaries.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Let me just ask you, Austan, about the jobs issue. If you say Trump is so bad for the economy, and we're talking about that's the reason, at least that's his reasoning for getting out of the Paris climate accord is because it's bad for the economy, I mean, look at what is happening on Wall Street right now. We're seeing record territory. We have the jobs numbers come out today. Unemployment numbers that 4.3 percent now, that's the lowest since 2001. People are seeing their 401(k)s go up. Does that give the President a little bit of rope when it comes to something maybe controversial, like getting out of the Paris climate accord?

GOOLSBEE: I don't know -- you know, the time scale of those two numbers are so totally different. One of the issues of carbon pollution, climate change and the environment are over decades and the numbers that came out today and from the stock market are over a couple of months. The jobs numbers today were quite disappointing. They were supposed to be far better. One month is not a trend. I think we'll have to keep our eye on the short-run economy.

CABRERA: Governor Santorum, I want to ask you about the economic angle. Going back to the facts, we saw solar employment expand last year 17 times faster than the rest of the total U.S. economy. There's a lot of money to be made in clean energy, isn't there?

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Look, I'm a big proponent. I don't have any problem with clean energy. I'm involved with a waste energy company. I'm also doing work for the ethanol industry. As long as it's a market-based solution, let's move towards more -- in fact, the United States has been, even without the Paris accords and is going to even not being involved with the Paris accords. And I think that's a positive thing and it creates jobs but it needs to be done in a way that economically makes sense. The worst thing we can do as a country if the results of manmade climate change are true is to be in a position where we can't react to it because our economy is in the dumper. We need to be in a position where we're strong, we can take measures

that are necessary to repair whatever problems may come about. I don't necessarily agree with those things. They haven't kept up over the last 20 years if you look at what was projected and where we are now, we are not close to what they thought was going to happen. Why? Because carbon is only one of many, many factors that determine what the climate's going to do and the trace gas in the atmosphere is the tail that wags the entire climate dog, again, doesn't really follow science, in my opinion.

CABRERA: I know the discussion does not end there but our show continues. We've got to get in a break. Thank you both for joining us, Rick Santorum and Austan Goolsbee.

New questions about why Jared Kushner met with a Russian banker. And this is as reports swirl that Jared Kushner could be on shaky ground.

Plus, the white house says the President will review whether he'll try to block James Comey from testifying next week about their private conversations.


CABRERA: There are new questions about why Jared Kushner met with a Russian banker after different versions of the meeting have now emerged. Let's bring in Matthew Chance, senior international correspondent. Matthew, what do we know about the meeting at this point between Jared Kushner and Gorkov?

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This meeting is at the center of the suspicions about whether or not there was any collusion between the incoming Trump administration and the officials from the kremlin. Let's say that Gorkov is one of the head bankers and appointed into that position by Vladimir Putin. And like Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, he was a former KGB spy. He was a former Russia intelligence officer. He's an extremely difficult man to track him down but here in St. Petersburg he was giving a lecture a few days ago and tried to get some access from him about what exactly it was that was being discussed.


CHANCE: Mr. Gorkov, quick question, what did you really speak to Jared Kushner about in December? Did you talk about sanctions?


CHANCE: What was discussed? The white house says it was a diplomatic meeting, that Kushner met you as part of the transition team. Your bank says it was a business meeting.

GORKOV: Thank you so much. Sorry.

CHANCE: Were you a conduit to the kremlin, Mr. Gorkov?

(END VIDEO CLIP) [15:40:00] CHANCE: There's a contradiction, of course, with the different accounts as to what exactly was discussed. The bank says that it was a business meeting that Kushner attended as part of Kushner Properties and discussed the business between the bank and the companies and the white house had a very different take, saying it was a diplomatic meeting, that Kushner was there as part of his capacity as the Trump transition team. What we still don't know exactly what was the subject of that meeting and of those talks behind closed doors in Trump tower in December last year. Ana?

CABRERA: You sure tried hard to get answers. Matthew Chance, our thanks to you.

Up next -- for the very first time, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinting that hacks into the 2016 U.S. election may have come from inside his country. What he said about, quote, patriotic hackers.

But first, over the last few years, San Francisco has seen a steady rise in its homeless population, skyrocketing rents and home prices make it impossible for some people to find or remain in their homes. For those living on the streets or in their cars, getting clean can be a daily struggle. This week's CNN Hero came up with an innovative way to reach those in need. Meet Denice Sandoval.


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We learn their names, we learn their stories. We provide all this extra support, it is like creating community around them. We call it radical hospitality.


CABRERA: To see it again, go to and while there, nominate someone you think should be a 2017 CNN Hero.


CABRERA: Russian President Vladimir Putin has angrily denied allegations that Moscow meddled into last year's U.S. elections comparing the accusations to Anti-Semitism. Listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA, (through translator): They voted for him and the other team, they made a mistake and they don't want to recognize this mistake right now.

They don't want to say that they were not wise enough. It's easier to say it's not our fault, it's the Russians, they intervened, they interfered. It's like Anti-Semitism, the Jews are to blame. You're an idiot because the Jews are to blame.


CABRERA: So, this sound with the Russian President coming just this week at this economic forum happening right now in St. Petersburg and while he denies that the Russian government interfered, for the first time he seems to concede that the hacks may have actually came from inside his country, although he says that the government wasn't connected. This is what he says. "Hackers are free people just like artists. They would wake up, read about something going on in interstate relations and if they feel patriotic, they try to contribute to the fight against those who speak badly about Russia."

Thomas, I want to get your reaction to Putin's concession after months of saying, nothing to see here. Now we hear this, perhaps hackers are at work inside Russia.

THOMAS COUNTRYMAN, FORMER OBAMA STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, recall the history here. When Russian troops invaded Ukrainian territory to annex Crimea in 2014, Vladimir Putin looked right in the country and said there are no Russian soldiers, maybe just volunteers. When Russian troops went in to Syria in 2015, he said the same. There are no Russian troops, only Syrian humanitarian aid workers. Both were false. There may be a politician no better than looking into the camera and lying than Vladimir Putin but they can't be many and the overwhelming evidence collected by several U.S. agencies points to one inescapable conclusion, that it originated not just within Russia but it originated at the direction of the Russian government and the evidence there is overwhelming no matter how Mr. Putin attempts to pick apart one tiny bit of evidence or to share the subject entirely.

CABRERA: Did it seem that he cracked the door open there to saying this is exactly what we've been talking about? See, he just admitted that Russia was involved?

COUNTRYMAN: It may be a tiny crack in the door and it serves a dual purpose for him to get some credit from his own citizens as to how cleverly Russia has played this game. But you shouldn't expect that at some point in the future he will do what he did in the case of Ukraine or Syria and admit that it was a Russian state action any more than he's going to admit that it was Russian agencies to eliminate his political opponents.

CABRERA: I've got to ask you about some reporting that Yahoo right now is reporting, that former state department official claims there was a secret effort by the incoming Trump administration to drop sanctions on Russia that were put in place by Barack Obama. Hold- overs were worried about this enough to lobby Congress. Do you know anything about this?

COUNTRYMAN: I don't know anything directly because I was, as you noted, only in my office for about five days after inauguration, which is when this effort apparently began. The sources quoted by Yahoo news and CNN are reliable sources and this did exactly the right thing. Was to ensure that such a major change in policy could not proceed in total darkness but ought to be the subject of careful policy consideration, discussion with the white house and informing Congress. Now, what it looks like from that article is that it was the fulfillment of what Michael Flynn appeared to promise the Russian ambassador in January that the sanctions imposed by the United States would be rapidly lifted under the Trump administration. I think that fell apart for obvious reasons as Mr. Trump -- as Mr. Flynn's story unraveled. It does concern me that there's talk today that the administration does want to move even now to lifting sanctions returning property, diplomatic property that Russia had used for spying purposes without getting anything for it from the Russian side, and that's --

CABRERA: CNN is reporting --

[15:50:00] COUNTRYMAN: That's bad bargaining.

CABRERA: On that note CNN is reporting that there may be ongoing discussions about how they could work with the Russians to meet mutually beneficial purposes, including the reopening of those compounds, although that is not moving forward, and also important to know, we don't know the content of the discussions between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. We have learned though through sally yates and others that they discussed sanctions, although we don't know exactly what it was they discussed. So, we're awaiting answers on that. Thanks to you.

COUNTRYMAN: Thank you.

CABRERA: And still ahead here in the newsroom. We have even more breaking news. The white house says the President will review whether he'll try to block James Comey from testifying next week about their private conversations, and a programming note, coverage of the hearing begins next Thursday at 9:00 a.m. eastern. Watch on air, or you can stream it live on


CABRERA: Who says you can't go home again. It might be challenging, if like CNN's Bill Weir, you attended 17 schools in 6 different states but didn't let that stop him. Bill faced some complicated truths about his family's past in an emotional homecoming, one that revealed some surprising discoveries about the identity of our country in the age of Trump. Take a look.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wanted, Sergeant Frank Miller, commander of the tactical squad, crimes against the people. Conspiracy to violate the civil rights of black people, general inability to function as a feeling member of the human race.

While Milwaukee knew him as Sergeant Miller, I knew him as grandpa, and I loved him dearly.

DAN WEIR, UNCLE OF BILL WEIR: He was intimidating to a lot of people, but anybody who ever got to know him would realize he'd basically give the shirt off his back to you. BILL WEIR: This is my uncle Dan, Frank's youngest son.

DAN WEIR: He took his job very seriously, and if you broke the law or you committed a crime, he's got a job to do.

BILL WEIR: In my grandfather's memorabilia, I find a flip book of mug shots including had a 19-year-old named Prentiss McKinney.

PRENTISS MCKINNEY, INDIVIDUAL IN MUG SHOT BOOK: We come out there with love and with our hearts opened and our minds open, you understand. We love everybody. They love -- I don't love everybody, but when a bigot throws a brick at me, I don't love him, you understand, and when they send in wild dogs across that street to bite me, I'm going to cut his throat.



BILL WEIR: How are you this morning?

MCKINNEY: I can't complain.

BILL WEIR: I feel the same way. He tells me the local paper once dubbed him MILWAUKEE'S angriest young negro. Today the youth has passed. The anger has not. Do you recognize him?

MCKINNEY: Yes. This picture captures him. He was a real [ bleep ].

BILL WEIR: And his men?

MCKINNEY: Tac squad was [ bleep ] incorporated.


CABRERA: Bill Weir is joining us to discuss that special report. Even in that clip you get a sense of how personal this is to you and how eye-opening I imagine this journey was for you. It couldn't be easy to have these conversations.

BILL WEIR: It was uncomfortable but at the same time I moved around so much I have all these friends and family in different quarters of our divided nation and I thought, you know, you can only lose so much from a stranger in a diner. Why not try to talk to folks and that story, my grandfather was a highly decorated cop in the civil rights era of Milwaukee. It was brutal times and passed that resentment down through the generations. 50 years later Milwaukee is still one of the most segregated places in the country, and it's Black Lives Matter versus the police and I wanted to use that thread to examine how all of our little personal histories add up to the age of Donald Trump.

CABRERA: And did the answers you got in your conversations make a light bulb go off.

BILL WEIR: Again and again.

CABRERA: So, it wasn't necessarily like what your preconceived notions were going in.

BILL WEIR: Not at all. Some friends voted for Gary Johnson, or Hillary supporters and -- and what I realized is we tend to think of ourselves as one nation of 50 states. We're really 11 distinct nations on ethnic values and how they, you know, traveled, so the definition of liberty and justice for all is different in greater Appalachia than it is in Yankeedom up here in Wisconsin and it's a miracle we kept them together. Why can't we go back to a time when we'll all singing "kumbaya" because we never have. This continent has been "game of thrones" since the first ships pulled up. People very different values trying to sort out what it means to be an Americans and I think we're seeing that now more than ever.

CABRERA: Well, I look forward to your conversations and hearing more about it.

BILL WEIR: Thank you.

CABRERA: The search for common ground in the age of Trump, bill weir, thank you for being with us, and don't forget at 9:00 eastern here on CNN Bill Weir and a panel of political experts and activists, they will be there for a frank discussion on "States of Change." "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Have a wonderful weekend. See you back here tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.