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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
W.H. Disinvites Media To Trump's First Re-Election Fundraiser; Admin Officials Frustrated Trump Unconcerned With Russia Election Meddling; Burr: Senate Chasing Every Pathway On Trump-Russia Collusion. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 28, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: UpFront next, breaking news, President Trump about to arrive at his first re-election fundraiser tonight. Check the date. It's still 2017. And one of his own hotels, the media invited and then uninvited (INAUDIBLE).
Plus, first on CNN, a top intelligence official telling lawmakers he still can't convince Trump that Russia meddled in the election. And the president teases a "great surprise" with the health care bill. Is he turning this into a reality TV show? Let's go out front.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, the president about to arrive at a mega million dollar fundraiser. Here is what you need to know. It's $35,000 a plate. It's for his own re-election campaign for president and it is being held at his own hotel in Washington. Wow. He's only been on the job for five months. The 2020 presidential election is about 40 months away. Let me just say that again. 40 months away.
Protesters tonight are already lining up outside the hotel. And there are some major questions, OK? Never mind the historical significance of running for re-election before a major legislation is even passed. How about who's paying for the hotel which is being held at the president's International Trump Hotel and where is the money going? Jim Acosta is live at the White House. Jim, now they were letting the media in earlier today. Changed their minds. The media now banned as of later in the day. What is going on?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you remember the president saying during the campaign he wanted to drain the swamp, it depends on whose swamp is being drained. The president is doing a very swamp like thing tonight and holding the fundraiser at his own hotel just down the street from the White House.
A couple of things on this, though. We did ask the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the briefing earlier today, you know, what is going on here, what is the president doing and she said, well, the president is running for re-election. I tried to ask the question whether it's appropriate to the president to hold this fundraiser at this own hotel. She did not answer the question. She was leaving the briefing room.
But we should point a lot of critics here in Washington, including the former Ethic Czar Norm Eisen for the Obama White House is saying that just by having the Trump name on that hotel and the Trump family running that hotel that the president is violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution which bars foreign gifts to the president of the united states. They are disregarding that concern.
And on top of that, Erin, I think it's worth pointing out to our viewers, remember, the Trump Hotel the leased from the federal government. The federal government actually owns that building. The Trump company is leasing the space to run a hotel there. So in theory, a fundraiser for the president with a building bearing his own name is actually owned by the taxpayers, not Donald Trump.
BURNETT: Which obviously could be extremely significant at least where the money is going. All right, Jim Acosta --
ACOSTA: That's right.
BURNETT: -- we're going to be checking back in, of course, as we suspect the president to be arriving there momentarily. Thank you.
ACOSTA: All right, you bet.
BURNETT: Also tonight, sources telling CNN that President Trump's apparent unwillingness to punish Russia for meddling in the U.S. election and address the serious ongoing threat has some administration officials increasingly frustrated. Dana Bash is out front in Washington. And Dana, you broke this story very significant thing coming from officials here. What more are you learning.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, multiple senior administration officials say they are struggling to convince President Trump that Russia still poses a threat to the integrity of America's election. One official told our colleague Sara Murray there is "no evidence" to show Trump is actually engaging on the issue.
The president still gets his daily briefing and of course that includes updates on Russia. But beyond that, an administration official says there is no paper trail, no schedules, read outs or briefing documents, nothing to indicate the president is convening meetings or round tables on the subject the way he has with other threats, for example, threats against the U.S. power grid.
Now, on top of that, a congressional source tells me in a recent closed door briefing in Capitol Hill, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers actually expressed to lawmakers how frustrated he is that he can't convince Trump to even accept U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election, Erin.
BURNETT: That's a pretty incredible thing to say. I mean top intelligence officials, obviously you mention Rogers, but others also have called this a major threat. Why is President Trump so resistant, so reluctant to address it?
BASH: Well, people who have spoken to the president about this say they think he's struggling to separate the investigation into his campaign's potential collusion with Russia from the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election itself. Now, one source close to the president said Trump sees everything regarding Russia as being organized as a challenge to him. And one Republican congressional source told me he can't admit anything that may taint his election. He is more hung up on how it affected the election outcome election than what Russia actually did.
[19:05:10] BURNETT: Of course we hear this again and again. That rally is very consistent with his public focus on that. What is the White House saying about your report tonight?
BASH: Well, Erin, Sean Spicer insists the president is taking this threat seriously and says the White House is taking action, just doing so quietly. He gave a statement to us and said "The United States continues to combat on a regular basis malicious cyber activity and will continue to do so without bragging to the media or defending itself against unfair media criticism."
He pointed to the fact that Trump upheld the Obama Administration sanctions against Russia. That's true. But Erin, there is some real Republican concern about not punishing Russia more than that or trying to prevent interference in the future.
For example, Senator John McCain told me he wish it is White House would push the House of Representatives to pass a bill that the senator proved overwhelmingly for additional sanctions against Russia instead congressional sources say the White House is actually trying to water that down. And also, Lindsey Graham and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand they have a bipartisan push to create a 9/11 kind of commission of cyber experts which is effectively way to try to work around frustration that the president isn't doing enough.
BURNETT: All right. Dana Bash, thank you so much.
BASH: Thank you.
BURNETT: And we just have a video in. The president seconds ago arriving. You see the motorcade. Arriving at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for this fundraiser for his own re-election campaign in 2020. Their 40 months to go. Pretty much the earliest ever to do such a thing. He's just arrived, though. $35,000 a plate. We're going to be checking in there in just couple of moments.
Up front now, though, the chairman of the House Homeland and Security Republican Congressman Michael McCaul who is also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Thanks so much for being with me. I really appreciate it, congressman.
MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks Erin.
BURNETT: You just heard Dana's reporting that the NSA Director Rogers said behind closed doors how frustrated he is that he can't convince Trump to accept U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election. Your reaction?
MCCAUL: Well, I don't think there is any question that Russia attempted to influence the presidential elections this last fall. In fact, I was part of the gang of eight classified briefing, much of which has been declassified since then. And I don't think that can be really disputed.
In fact, Ambassador Nikki Haley testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee today, basically saying the same thing, that Russia did try to influence the last presidential election. The question is, did they have any impact on that.
BURNETT: Right. And I know that's obviously no evidence of that at this point. And chairman, you know, as you say, you don't question this. You've told the president this. I know personally that Russia was behind the attacks. And as you say, a long roster of top intelligence officials, Trump cabinet members have definitively said Russia was behind the attacks.
But the president has been unwilling to say this definitively and directly. And just I want to play for everyone some of what he said since he was elected, which is obviously since he began getting full classified intelligence briefing. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.
Could have been China. Could have been a lot of different groups. If Russia hacked. If Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Could have been China. Could have been other countries. If Russia hacks. I mean will anything convince him, do you think?
MCCAUL: Well, you know, I think he's now had the intelligence briefings we had prior to the election. It's clear to me it was a nation state attack by Russia out of the Kremlin to influence the elections. I remember at the time, Erin, actually getting briefed by intelligence officials and also stating this is before the November election why aren't we calling out Russia for what they're doing and why aren't there consequences to this? Because this is an attack, not just on Republicans or Democrats, this is an attack on all Americans in our democracy itself.
BURNETT: And look, there obviously were serious issues in terms of how this was handled by the prior administration as they were handling this. You know, but as you point out, it's not just that they did it. Is that they're going to do it again, right? We've heard that repeatedly from top intelligence and government officials. Here's just a couple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: As we sit here, we remain exposed to this kind of attack.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: I believe they are now embolden to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world and to do so even more intensely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: How damaging could it be to this country, chairman, if the president refuses to accept Russia hacked and will continue to do so? Does this embolden them?
MCCAUL: Well, Clapper and Jeh Johnson were the two that actually briefed us at the time.
[19:10:02] This is nothing new, by the way. Foreign adversaries have tried to influence our elections --
MCCAUL: -- in the past. I prosecuted the Johnny Chung case lead us to director of Chinese intelligence trying to put money into the Clinton campaign. It's just they have a new tool now and it's a cyber tools, cyber space, cyber attacks.
MCCAUL: And I saw this play out in France when I was there during their elections. It played out in Germany. It's playing out in Ukraine right now. This is disinformation warfare campaign that Russia is getting very good at. And to your point, let's not force ourselves, they will engage again in the 2018 elections.
BURNETT: So today, I'm not sure if you know this, chairman, but the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration, Nick Burns, accused Trump, in his words, "dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country" for what he says is Trump disinterest in Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The top Democratic House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, told CNN this afternoon that he, "completely agrees." Do you?
MCCAUL: Well, look, in the Congress, our response to Crimea, but also the Russian interference in our elections is the Russian sanction bill. I'm hopeful that this will move very quickly through the House and go to the president's desk. I think Russia needs to be held accountable and there need to be consequences to this. If there are no consequences there is no doubt in my mind that Russia will continue to try to meddle in our elections, whether it be 2018 or the next presidential election.
BURNETT: Is dereliction a fair word?
MCCAUL: I wouldn't go that far. I think, look, China does a lot of bad things, too. There are a lot of foreign adversaries, Iran, China, North Korea, Russia constantly conducting cyber attacks. But I think Russia is really the best at what's called disinformation campaign warfare and we better be ready for it this next election cycle. BURNETT: And chairman, I want to ask you about the major story this
hour, Syria. The administration claiming credit today for preventing a chemical attack by Bashar al-Assad.
As you know, Monday night the White House issued a statement saying Syria was getting ready for another attack warning that it would pay a heavy price if it would ahead (ph) with it. The Defense secretary today, Mattis said, "It appears they took the warning seriously. They didn't do it." And the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Due to the president's actions, we did not see an incident. I would like to think that the president saved many innocent men, women and children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Two days later there is no attack, chairman. Can the administration though come out and do this, definitively claim credit? I mean what happens tomorrow or the next day? I mean are you comfortable with this credit claiming?
MCCAUL: Well, I was at that hearing on the Foreign Affairs Committee and I do think by sending a message that there is a red line and if you cross it there will be consequences unlike the previous administration, that did stop, in my judgment, a serious -- we had good intelligence that there was a premeditated chemical attack in the near future on, you know, again, they attacked children in hospitals. So, look, if it does happen tomorrow, there will be a severe price to be paid for that. I'm very sure of that.
BURNETT: All right, chairman, thank you so much for your time. Good to see you.
MCCAUL: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: Next, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee tell CNN investigators are chasing "Every pathway on Trump/Russia collusion." Details coming up.
Plus, why can't Trump close a deal with Congress? Is anyone in Washington afraid of him?
And Trump's awkward hugs and handshakes. Power play or political mistake?
[19:17:21] BURNETT: New details tonight on the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe into Trump campaign associates contacts with Russians. This as the top Republican of the Senate Intelligence Committee seemingly contradicting the president of the United States.
Manu Raju is out front on Capitol Hill. And Manu, Trump and his team obviously public about there being no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. You just spoke to the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do those statements reflect reality?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Not quite, Erin. In fact, the jury is still out for Richard Burr, the chairman of that committee saying that the committee has in fact interviewed more than 40 witnesses so far and said that the issue of collusion is something that they are still chasing, something that they are trying to determine at this point in their investigation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I would only say that there had been public comments that suggest that there has been no overwhelming evidence to suggest there was collusion. But we have to chase down every potential -- every potential pathway that we see. When we conclude all those, we'll make a final report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Erin, I followed up and said, well, have you seen anything that suggest collusion from what you seen so far, he said, "It is not for me to judge." A sign this is an area still that the committee is digging in closely. One reason why they're trying to bring in these Trump associates. And now, Erin, also tonight we are learning that Richard Burr did have a conversation with Bob Mueller, the special counsel and Richard Burr believes he is going to get to actually see that memo that fired FBI Director James Comey --
RAJU: -- wrote about his interactions with President Trump that something that Congress has been demanding but has not seen yet, Erin.
BURNETT: And Manu, of course, that also reflects what the Democratic ranking member, of course, the committee Mark Warner said last night to us. He said collusion is still very much at the heart of this, that the jury is out.
And I know you, Manu, have some more information about some of those Trump associates right now going to testify before Congress. Because I think a big part of this people may not realize is lot of these folks have not yet testified.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. And the big names, including Cater Page, Paul Manafort, of course, Michael Flynn. What we are learning tonight, Erin, is the J.D. Gordon, who is a national security advisor for the Trump campaign actually was scheduled to be interviewed in a classified session today before the House Intelligence Committee, but that was abruptly canceled because of a scheduling conflict.
They do believe that Gordon was telling me earlier today he's more than willing to answer questions. He said he did nothing wrong, only a handful -- a couple of conversations with the Russian ambassador. [19:20:05] But all these are moving behind closed doors as the committee is trying to interview these so-called eye witnesses that they could actually probe a little deeper about what happened, including Roger Stone, who is the of course the Trump advisor.
July 24th is when he's going to go behind closed doors and talk to the House Intelligence Committee. But, of course, Erin, he want to talk in public. That's something the committee will not let him do, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Manu.
All right. And now Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston joins me, along with the Washington Bureau Chief for the Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich. Mark, President Trump and his aides obviously have insisted repeatedly there's no collusion, never was a any collusion, it's a hoax. You just heard Senator Burr said it's too early to make that that call. How significant is it that the top Republican, right, chairman of the Senate Intel Committee seems to be contradicting the president?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well it's very significant for two simple reasons though, Erin. The first is does Richard Burr want to use a lot of his time, probably a majority of his time right now to be looking into a Republican president to see if he's done any wrongdoing. He doesn't necessarily want to do it. But obviously he feels compelled he has to do it because that is his job.
Secondly, it's a (INAUDIBLE) member of his own party. And can you imagine if he was able to actually uncover collusion on behalf of somebody who is associated with Trump. That would not necessarily help as political (INAUDIBLE). So the fact he hasn't taken it off the table does say something.
BURNETT: It does say something. Jackie, I mean, you know, what I think is also important here, Manu and I were referencing this, right, is there is bipartisan agreement on this, right? You just heard Burr. The ranking Democrat in the committee, though, last night Mark Warner was here. I just referenced what he said. Let me just play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: To be clear, when it comes to the collusion issue specifically, senator, in your view, this is still very much an open area of investigation.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: This is in a sense the heart of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, Jackie, he seems to be very much on the same page as Senator Burr.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: And these two have been on the same page from the get-go. When the House was still going through their pain (ph), you turn to the Senate and you would see that there is actually something going on. But I think what both of these men are saying and what Manu is saying, or what you're saying or what press is saying is this is still very early.
As much as the Trump Administration wants to say this has been going on forever and everyone just running in circles, that's not the case. This is something that is going to continue to go on whether or not they like it, both in the Congress and outside with the other investigations that are going on.
BURNETT: And I think, Mark, it's important to point out here, right, that when, you know, it seems like this has been going on for a long time and in many ways it has, right? But when you are looking at let's just say the Senate Intelligence Committee, right, they are quick to say this has been going on for four months.
BURNETT: They themselves have interviewed a lot of people, but none of the central players who were related to Trump, right? They have not yet. This kind of feeling of it's all done and we just need to kind of put a feel on it is inaccurate.
PRESTON: Yes, absolutely. The fact is -- and the three major players have not even testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, right? General Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page. Those are the three quite frankly where everyone is focusing on. It's not necessarily President Trump when you're talking about collusion. You are talking about three specific people who still haven't testified and it is those three people, Erin.
Let me just take the liberty and say this. You know, a lot of people don't believe this, but I can't imagine that the three of us or most Americans want there to be a finding that there was collusion that affected our elections because in the end, I mean, we are all Americans and when we see this division on this issue, it really is disheartening.
BURNETT: And, Jackie, look, it's not just once. It's not just twice but Trump has tried to argue there is no collusion. It has been multiple occasions. OK, here he is in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody said the same thing.
TRUMP: They say there is no collusion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we get out of the White House.
TRUMP: They're all saying there is no collusion. There is no collusion. I'd like to it to move fast, if possible. But I'll tell you what I really want. There is no collusion. We have nothing to do with Russia.
There has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey. But there has been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Jackie, obviously you heard him there. Everyone is convinced. They say there is no collusion. Obviously, that's exactly what Senator Burr is saying he's absolutely not willing to say at this point.
KUCINICH: Right. And again, it's because the investigation isn't even -- it's just started in a lot of ways. And, you know, this is one of those things the president kind of got himself in trouble or it seems like he got himself in trouble for trying to get various officials like Comey, like Admiral Rogers, like other officials to say this publicly and they just they weren't willing to do that.
So again he wants -- it is understandable that he'd want a quick resolution to this, but they're just not there yet. These investigations aren't there yet.
[19:25:10] BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.
Next, we're going to take you live. The first Trump re-election fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel, 40 months before election day. Who's paying his hotel for the $35,000 a plate event? And why can't Donald Trump, the deal maker, seal a deal for a bill to pass Congress?
BURNETT: Breaking news. President Trump, as you see, just arriving at his first re-election fundraiser in Washington at the Trump International Hotel. It's a top dollar affair. The minimum just to be there is $35,000 a plate. It was supposed to be open to press. In fact, it was throughout most of the day. About an hour ago then banned. No press allowed. Kaitlan Collins is out front at the Trump International Hotel with more. Kaitlan, who exactly is paying for this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUIS REPORTER: That's a great question, Erin. The president of the United States is holding his first campaign fundraiser for his 2020 campaign tonight at his hotel in Washington behind me, and the American people have no idea who is paying for it.
Though, we have asked multiple times who is, we don't know if it is the RNC, if it's 2020 campaign or if the hotel donated this space. We just don't know. Our request for answers have not been answered.
Now this is an event where the press has largely been shut out. At first it was a closed event and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary justified that today at the off camera briefing by saying because it was a political event and they wanted to keep it separate.
But after there was some crowding (ph) from the media they decided to open it up for a few pen (INAUDIBLE) reporters and one camera. Then two hours later they changed their minds again. And now no press is being allowed in this event for the president where he is delivering remarks tonight.
Now, this isn't that surprising because the president has increasingly distanced himself from the press in recent days. There have been very few on camera briefings and they haven't taken any questions at press conferences when foreign leaders are in town.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.
And as you heard Kaitlan saying, a lot of questions without answers.
With more now, Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, Dan Pfeiffer, former senior advisor and communications director to President Obama, and Jack Kingston, former Republican congressman from Georgia, former senior advisor to the Trump campaign.
So, Larry, let me start with you.
As you heard Kaitlan just say, lots of questions about where the money is going, how this is working? Can you explain how this could be?
LARRY NOBLE, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: Well, I can explain how they should be doing it. I don't know if they are doing it this way.
So, this is a Trump campaign event. It is actually joint fund-raising event between the Trump campaign and the RNC, and they have to pay for it. They can split it between the RNC and the Trump campaign.
The hotel should not be giving them anything for free or anything at a discount that it doesn't give to anybody else. By the same token, the hotel can't be charging them more than anybody else. They have to walk a thin line here.
BURNETT: Just to make sure we understand, right, so, technically speaking, right, I know there was this whole question about this, but this hotel, even though certainly the same benefits Trump and business there benefits his brand and all of that, right, which is a serious issue, but technically speaking, it's on a lease to the government, right? So, if they are paying the hotel, the money isn't going back into Trump's pocket, right?
NOBLE: Well, it actually is, because he has put the hotel in a trust. It's not a blind trust. It's -- you know, it is a pseudo trust where his children are managing the trust, but he still is going to make the profit from the hotel. So, whatever they earn from this, he is going to get his cut of it. And it's not even that he's not going to see how well the hotel is
doing because he gets reports on how well the hotel is doing. So, he is earning money off of this and that's why he has to be very careful that he walks that fine line that it is just a business deal.
Now, the fact he can do it legally doesn't mean he is doing it legally or that it's the right thing to do. I mean, this is just one of many instances where he's basically using the White House and his candidacy to market his private businesses and that's really troublesome.
BURNETT: All right. So, Congressman, separate from this, this is a 2020 campaign event, right? At the beginning of the show, I wanted to remind everybody that we hadn't just stepped into a time warp and it wasn't 2019, right? I mean, it's 2017.
This is earlier than any sitting president in recent history. We're five months into his term. This is more than two years earlier than George W. Bush or Barack Obama held their first re-election event.
Is it premature, Congressman?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENATOR: I don't think it is. I think given today's political climate and the fact that so many people really still haven't accepted the election results, I think he's very smart to keep his powder dry. As you know, though, President Obama and President Bush before him immediately started raising money for the DNC or the RNC. And so, we have been doing that as Republicans ever since he's been elected. That's not unusual at all.
I do want to get back at something Larry said. To suggest that he's going to profit from this, I think is an outrageous statement, and to say you don't know if he's doing it legally, of course, he is doing it legally. And if you feel that he's not doing it legally, then the Democrats would be all over him.
And, so, I mean, I have to say, Larry, I have a lot of respect for you, but I think the tone of your suggestions are not really fair game. All presidents have to use part of their office and they always reimburse it. But when President Obama just like President Bush was flying around campaigning for re-election or campaigning on behalf of the other candidates, they do have to follow a stringent set of rules and they do reimburse the taxpayers when they use Air Force One or things like that.
So, there's nothing unusual about this.
BURNETT: Larry, let me give you a chance to respond before Dan gets in here. Go ahead, Larry.
NOBLE: Sure. I think he is profiting from this, I assume he is because he is a businessman and he owns this hotel and he has a financial interest. And the profits from this are going to go into his trust and he is going to get the income from that. So, I'm not sure how you can say he is not profiting from it.
He is -- now, whether he's doing it legally, I assume what he's going to do is report how all this is being paid for. And at that point, we will see, as with any other candidate, whether it's being done legally or not. But he is going to profit from this unless this is a losing deal from him, and I doubt it is.
KINGSTON: Larry, he has to do it legally, though.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Dan.
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we would -- we would know if he would do it legally if the White House would answer any questions about this, which they have refused to do.
KINGSTON: They absolutely did. They did that on their FEC reports.
PFEIFFER: They have not. They've been asking --
PFEIFFER: Let me finish, let me finish.
[19:35:00] In the report immediately before this, the CNN reporter said that they've been asking the White House for answers to how they were going to do this. The White House -- if they were doing it legally, they should just say that.
But even if they follow all the rules, Trump is paying -- he is going to profit from this. He is using the presidency to profit from it. That is a very clear fact.
And I promise you, Congressman, that if a Democrat was doing that, your head would explode. And, so, what we have here is -- I don't really care whether Trump has this for a fundraiser now or two years from now, like a normal president, I like to try to rank orders of my concerns on the daily outrage of the Trump presidency.
First is he's profiting from his presidential fundraiser. Second is they're refusing to let the press in, which raises real questions about what he is saying there that he does not want the public to know. And third on my list, and much further below, is that he's starting his presidential campaign when he is barely unpacked the boxes of his first term.
BURNETT: And, Congressman, on that point, let me just point this out. The president, right, with health care here -- has been put on hold. Tax reform hasn't come up, right? There has been no legislation, right? He does have a Supreme Court justice now named. That was a significant victory.
But to start a reelection campaign before you have any signature legislation passed does seem pretty surprising, right? I mean, what would be the platform if he were starting a campaign right now? KINGSTON: I think he could do both. And I think, frankly, in terms
of the platform, he could talk about unemployment numbers going down, he can talk about the illegal border crossing that has been chopped in half by 50 percent, he can talk about the American consumer confidence that has gone up, and he can talk about working and doing something in Syria and Afghanistan, which President Obama was reluctant to.
And for all the gloom and doom that his critics said his European trip was a disaster, the president of France has invited him to come back and be his personal guest for Bastille Day.
So, he's absolutely doing a great job.
BURNETT: OK. Hold on. On that note, I want to give you, Dan a good chance to respond. That was pretty significant, wasn't it, that invite to go for Bastille Day on July 14th?
PFEIFFER: I think it's fairly typical for a U.S. president to be invited to France, and vice versa. We should not overstep the fact that the president basically was disinvited from the U.K., a country we have a special relationship with.
But to the point is if Trump wants to hold his fundraiser now, he can do that. But he -- the question really is, his signature piece of legislation, he cares -- he apparently cares so passionate about but knows so little about is before the Senate. And he has spent his day --
PFEIFFER: -- threatening the owner of "The Washington Post" with taxation, complaining about CNN repeatedly, retweeting FOX News, complaining about "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times".
And, so, you have to wonder what is he actually trying to do here? What is the goal on a daily basis when the guy wakes up, other than tweet the first thing that comes to mind?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.
On the British visit, I will say, I think that we're still uncertain at this point when he's going to go or what the situation is there.
Thank you all so much.
Next, Trump promises a, quote, big surprise on health care. Is he trying to turn that into a reality show?
And Trump outspoken ambassador to the U.N. or Russia hacking -- why isn't she talking to the president about this crucial issue?
[19:42:09] BURNETT: President Trump tonight promising, quote, a big surprise when it comes to the health care bill. So, what exactly does that mean? Are his words and deeds helping or hurting? Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House, the president is painting a bright future for the health care bill.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you're going to have a great, great surprise.
FOREMAN: But at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the picture is far more murky.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: This president is the first president in our history who has had neither political nor military experience. And thus, it has been a challenge to him to learn how to interact with Congress and how to push his agenda forward.
FOREMAN: The problem, this is part of it.
AD ANNOUNCER: Heller is now standing with Pelosi. Unacceptable. If you're opposed to this bill, we are opposed to you.
FOREMAN: A political action committee run by the president's allies opened fire on one of his own party's senators for not backing the health care measure. The ads have been pulled but analysts are slack jawed. Nevada's Dean Heller was already considered at risk for losing his seat in next year's election, possibly cutting the Republican hold on the Senate to a single vote or worse.
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: You can't attack the most vulnerable Republican that you have, you know, over something like this and hand the Democrats a messaging strategy that's going to help them defeat him.
FOREMAN: But the president also openly criticized the version of the plan passed by the House.
TRUMP: Mean, that was my term.
FOREMAN: Again, giving Democrats a free shot at his party's expense.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The senator version of Trumpcare is even meaner than the House bill.
FOREMAN: Maybe the friction was predictable. On the campaign trail, Trump never missed a chance to whip up anger at Congress and the D.C. establishment.
TRUMP: When it comes to Washington, D.C., it is time to drain the damn swamp.
FOREMAN: But with his approval rating now in the basement, and papers mocking his apparent lack of leverage, asked if the president is addressing the details in the health care bill, the majority leader gave a non-answer. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The main thing is that
I've said the status quo is simply unsustainable.
FOREMAN: And even Trump's personal calls to lawmakers for support are largely coming up empty. Nearly a half year into his term, he still has passed no major far-reaching legislation.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president's new at this. He's new to government.
FOREMAN: Simply put, repealing and replacing Obamacare has turned out to be enormously difficult and politically tricky for the Republicans and many feel that the president's big statements and his strong arm tactics are only making it harder -- Erin.
BURNETT: Big, big test to get it done. Thank you so much, Foreman.
[19:45:00] And next, a U.N. ambassador grilled today about a crucial question, why isn't she talking to President Trump about Russian meddling in the election.
And Trump's handshakes and hugs. Jeanne Moos has a grasp of this situation.
BURNETT: New tonight: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says she doesn't discuss Russia's interference in the presidential election with President Trump. Here she is from earlier today at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA), HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Other administration officials have testified that they haven't spoke within the president regarding Russian interference in last year's election. Have you talked to the president about that?
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I have not talked to the president about that. And look, I think the best thing that can happen is for this investigation to play out, play out quickly. I have no reason to think that there was any sort of involvement between the president and Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, one of the members of that committee, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connelly of Virginia, who also sits on the House Oversight Committee.
And, Congressman, let's just start with that. Look, Nikki Haley has been incredibly clear many times that Russia meddled in the election.
[19:50:02] I just want to be clear about that. REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA), HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: Yes.
BURNETT: She, though, said she has not discussed Russian interference in the presidential election with President Trump. Of course, this is something that he has not said that he firmly believes happened to begin with.
What's your reaction to the fact that she's not had those conversations?
CONNOLLY: I think actually both the questioning on Mr. Sherman, myself, and Mr. Meeks, her answers were stunning. She has no instructions with respect to Russian meddling in our elections. She admitted that she talks to the Russians all the time about lots of subjects: Syria, you know, Europe, you name it, but not their meddling in our elections.
So I asked her, well, have you been given instructions not to bring that up? She said, no, I've been given no instructions. I'm free to do whatever I want.
BURNETT: Let me -- you know what, I want to just play that exchange, because I do think it's really important for people to hear it. Here's the exchange between you and the U.N. ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNOLLY: What instructions have you been given about Russia? Presumably you talk to your Russian counterparts about Syria, right?
HALEY: I talk to my Russian counterparts with a lot of things.
CONNOLLY: But not with their interference with the U.S. elections, that's off-limits?
HALEY: I mean, what would you want me to say to them? I'm at the U.N. We're working on international issues. I have made it public that I think -- I do believe they interfered with our elections. I've also said we can't have any country interfere in our elections and I stand by that.
CONNOLLY: I understand. But you now hold a very important diplomatic position at the United Nations. The Russians are at the United Nations. Have you received any instructions at all with respect to their meddling in our elections, like don't talk about that, Ambassador Haley?
HALEY: It hasn't come up. What I appreciate is this administration does not tell me what to say or what not to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, does her explanation make any sense? I mean, after all, if they were trying to cover anything up, they might have instructed her not to talk about it. But she's saying they haven't told her one way or the other.
CONNOLLY: Perhaps the single most important issue in bilateral relations between Russia and the United States at this very moment is their meddling in our election process, hacking into databases to interfere and influence that election. That's profound.
And her answer is, what do you want me to say to them? Well, I can give you a list of instruction if she wants one. Like do it again, and there will be huge consequences. We're not going to put up with it. We're going to impose sanctions. We're going to get tough. This will color everything about our relationship if you don't back off.
I mean, that's what I would want you to do about it. You're the United Nations ambassador.
BURNETT: Congressman, why do you think she and other members of the administration have all said that they haven't talked to the president about this? Look, we know his point of view on it overall.
Do you think they're afraid? What do you think the reason is?
CONNOLLY: I think it's a combination of informed fear of his reaction, and avoidance and denial. If I don't bring it up, we don't have any unpleasantness in the conversation.
BURNETT: Congressman --
CONNOLLY: I just find that astounding and really a violation of her diplomatic mission and mandate.
BURNETT: Congressman, I want to show you something here tonight, live pictures of President Trump's new hotel in Washington, D.C. Cameras aren't allowed inside. They decided late in the day to ban the press.
But he is holding his first re-election fund-raiser there. That's, of course, the Trump International Hotel. Ten million dollars is the expected take for the campaign.
You're a member of the House Oversight Committee. Do you think this looks OK? Is this something to look into further or not?
CONNOLLY: From the very beginning, I have insisted that his whole relationship with the Trump Hotel becomes a massive conflict of interest the day he was sworn in.
The lease agreement with the federal government is crystal clear that an elected official cannot be participating in that lease or benefitting from it. Then there's the constitutional provision that prevents, precludes foreign emoluments, a big word meaning foreign payola.
And the fact of the matter is, this violates all of that. And I think it's a terrible perception problem. I think it really taints the process. I think it's most unwise. And I think, frankly, it's just plain wrong for the American president to be engaged like that.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman Connolly, good to have you. Thank you.
CONNOLLY: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Jeanne Moos and Donald Trump.
[19:52:52] BURNETT: When President Trump sees the French president again in just two weeks. Will he give him a shove or some love?
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guess who's coming to Paris?
President Trump accepted an invitation to celebrate the French national holiday, Bastille Day. I guess the White House wasn't put off by what the new French president said after the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Make our planet great again.
MOOS: Maybe the two leaders will opt --
TRUMP: Congratulations. Good job.
MOOS: -- to make their handshake great again. The first one was described as white knuckle.
MACRON: Thank you very much.
MOOS (on camera): Yes, thanks a lot. That handshake left President Trump's fingers flexing for freedom.
(voice-over): President Macron later called it a moment of truth, saying, you have to show you won't make small, even symbolic concessions. Though later that day, Macron was on the receiving end of President Trump's alpha male grab and yank shake.
Another world leader, India's Prime Minister Modi --
TRUMP: A true friend.
MOOS: -- found another way to foil the aggressive handshake. Visiting the White House this week, he hugged President Trump not once, not twice, but three times. His technique was to offer a hand, pull the president into a hug, then employ a lingering double hand hold.
(on camera): Now, lest you think that this was an exclusive bromance, you should know that India's prime minister is famous for his hugs. (voice-over): He's hugged everyone from President Obama to Mark
Zuckerberg to less than cuddly Vladimir Putin. He used a full body press when he hugged France's former president.
The gesture prompted one fan to tweet, find you someone who will hug you like the India P.M. Modi just hugged President Trump.
Upon saying goodbye, he rested his head on the president's left shoulder, then on his right shoulder. He also has an odd habit of tugging on children's ears. But he better not try that on President Trump.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.
"AC360" is next.