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NYT: Trump's Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Info on Clinton. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 9, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:05] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.

We have breaking news into CNN. And "New York Times" reporting right now that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Now, this is the first public indication that at least some in the Trump campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

Donald Trump Jr. has provided CNN with the following statement. I quote: I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared, as in Jared, and Paul, Paul Manafort, to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.

We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous, and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.

She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children, and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims with potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office.

The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up my time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.

I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott who is following this breaking news.

Elise, help us understand just how significant this is.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it's significant because it's the first early indication that we have that Russian nationals, whether they're in the government, whether they're anywhere, were actually trying to reach out to the Trump campaign.

Now, Donald Trump Jr. says that an acquaintance from that Miss Universe pageant was trying to set him up with this woman and he didn't know who it was. But I think it's important to note that that Miss Universe pageant in 2013 was held in a suburb of Moscow. And -- I mean, I think it's also curious, why are we just now hearing about this now? The meeting was in June of last year. And we're just hearing about it.

So, if it was concerning to Donald Trump Jr., you would think he might have passed along that Russians were trying to at least reach out to the campaign? But we're just hearing about it now, Ana.

CABRERA: Explain why the conversation with this lawyer is potentially troublesome.

LABOTT: OK. Well, this Russian lawyer that he met with, her name is Natalia Veselnitskaya, now she formed a group purporting to seek the removal of that adoption ban of Russian children which Donald Trump mentioned. Now, it's important to know why this program of adopting Russian children was ended. The Russians put it in place as retaliation for that American law that Donald Trump Jr. mentioned known as the Magnitsky Act.

Now, that imposed sanctions over a swath of Russian officials, Russian oligarchs thought to have violated human rights. And Ms. Veselnitskaya has also sought the repeal of that Magnitsky Act.

And so, here you have a lawyer, she has told "The New York Times" that she has no business with the Russian government. She didn't discuss this in any way with the Russian government, but she is someone who has been known to be acting for the repeal of this very anti-Russian legislation, Ana.

CABRERA: And, Elise, let's not forget, this comes amid a special counsel investigation.

LABOTT: It is. And it's about, you know, this special counsel investigation and some congressional investigations are looking into contacts between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Now, President Trump had long said that there were no meetings between his campaign and Russian officials. But, you know, we have over the last several months seen that there have been meetings between Jared Kushner and the Russian ambassador, between Jared Kushner, between Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser.

So, why were senior meetings of the Trump campaign, including the campaign manager, Paul Manafort was at this meeting, as Mr. Trump mentioned and his son-in-law meeting with Russian nationals just after he clinched the nomination during the Trump campaign? We'll have to see why this is just another connection. Although we have no details about how it came about, and why.

[18:05:03] We just have what Donald Trump Jr. said. CABRERA: Again, this is all -- right. This is all attributed to "The New York Times," their reporting, as CNN works to confirm this reporting. And also important to note, having a meeting does not constitute a crime.

Elise Labott, we know you're continuing to dig on this. Thank you.

I want to bring in our panel. CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, "TIME" magazine contributor, Jay Newton-Small, and former CIA operative, Bob Baer, a national security and intelligence analyst.

Jay, I'll start with you. What do you make of Donald Trump Jr.'s statement as he describes why he went to this meeting? Is there a reasonable explanation that he's offering?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it seems to be contradictory, frankly, because he talks about how -- between the lawyer, what Trump's statement wise and between the president's lawyer has said, President Trump's lawyer has said, oh, well, they promised -- they were promised this information, but it turns out it wasn't what we were expecting and we didn't get this information --

CABRERA: Hold your thought for a second. Let me read you the quote from spokesman Mark Corallo, which is part of Trump's legal team. He says: We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.

NEWTON-SMALL: So, it seemed like they were being promised something having to do with the campaign. That's what "The New York Times" is reporting. But then Donald Trump Jr. is saying it was never had nothing to do with the campaign. It was absolutely nothing to do with this.

So, if it doesn't have to do with the campaign, are they just meeting about Russian policy? I mean, there's a lot of questions about why he would take this meeting at this moment, bring in such big power players on the campaign to talk about adoption in Russia. That seems a little weird.

CABRERA: I want to go back to exactly what Donald Trump Jr. said. He does acknowledge that he went into this meeting believing that he was meeting with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign.

So, he went in not knowing he says he was going to meet with, only that this was arranged by an acquaintance he knew from 2013 Miss Universe pageant there. That was in Moscow, by the way.

Douglas, you are presidential historian. This story breaks shortly after President Trump returns from meeting with Vladimir Putin, vowing to work on a more constructive relationship with Russia. How significant could this moment be for the Trump presidency?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it is potentially large. I mean, this is like an onion, and we keep on peeling it and finding more information all the time. Today, on the Sunday show, it's Lindsey Graham and John McCain were lambasting President Trump, saying that -- and Rex Tillerson -- saying that let's forgive and forget for what Russia did in 2016 isn't OK.

The fact of the matter is, the president of the United States is constantly talking about Putin. I'm in Texas. We are a more powerful state down here economically than Russia, but he's so Russia-focused, Donald Trump, and now, with all this talk of Russia, it takes "The New York Times" to discover that Donald Trump Jr. called Paul Manafort, the campaign manager for Donald Trump, in the heat of the campaign, for a secret meeting with the lawyer to try to get information. None of it fits.

And so, this story is just going to explode as other news organizations confirm it, if indeed "The New York Times" is correct.

CABRERA: Bob, in a statement Donald Trump Jr. does not say who his acquaintance was who the introduced him to this person who've now learned was this Russian lawyer. But we do know the acquaintance came from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. He doesn't mention that that pageant was in Moscow that year.

From an intelligence perspective, does that matter? Does that send your antenna up at all?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Ana, absolutely. Look, you've got all these acquaintances. It's clear that this lawyer was close to Putin. She brought -- was talking about something sensitive. You know, Manafort and Donald Jr. are talking to a Russian, they don't know who it is. It's very, very suspicious.

My sense here is we're approaching the smoking gun, that this meeting very well may have been to talk about hacked e-mails. And the fact that Donald Trump Jr. did not come forward to the FBI immediately in the middle of this scandal and say, here's what happened in this meeting, we think possibly they were proposing a crime, here's everything I know, they're withholding, and that's what disturbs me as a former CIA officer.

CABRERA: And Donald Trump Jr. says his father knew nothing about the meeting. And we also got a follow-up statement from the White House spokesperson, while President Trump's lawyers -- spokesperson, actually, say that he did not know about this meeting previously.

Do you believe him on that point?

BAER: No. You know, the credibility in the White House is so bad at this point, that I'd take the statements of the Russians over the White House. I mean, nothing they've said so far has turned out to be true. So, the credibility -- now, frankly, I'm going to wait until the FBI brings the evidence forward, and let -- then we can judge.

CABRERA: Jay, what does this new reporting do, this new portion of the Russia investigation, another piece of the puzzle?

[18:10:07] What does it do for the president's legislative agenda, his ability to move forward on some of these other items?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, they're just coming back from this whole trip to Europe, the G20 where Donald Trump on Twitter was declaring victory, saying we had such a great productive meeting. We're looking -- we're coming back in with this, every time he comes from abroad, with the sense of hopefully momentum, that he's trying to bring back to Washington with him, and every time so far, he's done these trips abroad, he comes back to more and more and more of this drip, drip, drip of this Russian investigation that ruins his political credibility with the Hill.

And so, it makes it almost impossible for him to call senators and say, hey, I need you to vote for this bill. I need you to vote to repeal Obamacare and take a politically risky vote for me because there's this huge shadow of this investigation hanging over him.

CABRERA: Of course, during the G20, he had the president with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said we're talking about forming a cybersecurity unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded.

Douglas, is that -- does that make sense to you? Have you seen other times in history which we are able as a country, the U.S., to be able to work with an adversary on an issue that is so sensitive in which that country is currently the subject of an investigation related to cybersecurity?

BRINKLEY: No, of course not. It's nonsensical and nutty. I mean, the very fact of the matter is, Donald Trump needed to go there and challenge Putin about meddling in our elections.

Instead, the Russians did a show us your intelligence information game as they always do, and now, Trump is trying to whitewash what happened, and pretend that somehow Russia now is going to help secure the United States of America on cyber when they've been spending years, really, over a decade and more hacking us all the time.

It's the wrong tone to take. It's a diminishing Donald Trump who constantly is playing into Putin's -- palm of Putin's hand, and it's because he seems to feel that Putin has something over him. There's no other way to look at this. It's an aberration in presidential behavior we're seeing right now.

CABRERA: I want you all to listen to what several Republicans are saying today about this idea of working with Russians on cybersecurity. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's not the dumbest idea I've ever heard, but it's pretty close.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he is doing the hacking.

ASH CARTER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.


CABRERA: Bob Baer, do you see any benefit for the U.S. to try to work with the Russians on cybersecurity?

BAER: Absolutely none. I mean, I've worked with the Russians -- Russian intelligence for years. They never gave us anything, never have. They're not going to help us. They only want into our systems.

And Trump proposing this, I'd even go farther. It's sort of like after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese proposing they provide air defense for us. It makes no sense at all, none in any galaxy.

CABRERA: Everybody, stand by. Thank you so much for that segment.

We are staying on top of the breaking news. Again, "New York Times" is reporting that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after being promised information on Hillary Clinton. What are the other two people in this meeting saying now, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort? We're working on that.

Stay with us.


[18:17:36] CABRERA: Updating our breaking news. "The New York Times" reporting tonight that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. This coming in June of last year.

Let's get right to CNN's White House correspondent, Athena Jones.

And, Athena, what are we hearing from the White House?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I'm sorry. Can you repeat that question?

CABRERA: Bring us up to speed on how the White House is responding to this "New York Times" report.

JONES: Well, the White House is referring questions to the president's legal team. And the president's -- the spokesman for that legal team Mark Corallo confirmed what Don Jr. said, which is that the president himself was not aware of this meeting that took place, and he did not attend the meeting. Beyond that, they are not saying much about it.

But, of course, this raises just more questions that are already swirling around this administration, and its ties with Russia. We have several committees on Capitol Hill investigating this matter. And this is one more meeting that was not disclosed long ago. We're just now learning about it. As of right now, the White House is referring all comments, or all questions to the president's lawyers -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones at the White House.

We'll take a quick break and be right back.


[18:23:03] CABRERA: As we continue to follow breaking news, here's what we're learning tonight. According to "The New York Times," Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer. That meeting, he confirmed happened in June of last year, shortly after his father clinched the Republican nomination for the presidency. We've also learned that along with Donald Trump Jr., also present at the meeting was Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Now, we had a statement from Donald Trump Jr. confirming again that this meeting happened, and here's this explanation for going to this meeting, He says, I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting.

I asked Jared and Paul to attend but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee, and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague and made no sense. No details of supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.

She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act.

I want to bring back our panel to further discuss exactly what we're learning tonight.

Joining me, Bob Baer and Jay Newton-Small.

Guys, what we have been able to confirm here at CNN was, again, that those three people were part of this meeting. We now know who they met with, the Russian lawyer's name is Natalia Veselnitskaya. We are learning that she was somebody who purported to represent a group that had the interest of removing this ban on Russian adoptions. And that according to Donald Trump Jr., he believed that was the purpose of their meeting.

Now, a lawyer for Jared Kushner also confirms that he was at the meeting.

[18:25:06] She, Jamie Gorelick, says he has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign in transition. He had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included out of abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person. My question to you, Bob Baer, is, again, another example of a meeting that was not disclosed. Is that significant?

BAER: Ana, it's horrible. I mean, you know, what every politician understands in this country, you don't take foreign help, you don't take foreign money in an election. His dad's about ready to go into an election.

This is -- you know, is damaging information. To me, that sounds like they were offering information obtained illegally. It was certainly not public. The Trump administration could have gotten that on their own if it were public. So, they were setting up at this point in June, back channels to Russia considering what information the Russians could help them win this election.

You know, I really do think we're close to a smoking gun on this. And if we can get the details on it, we'd know a lot better, Ana.

CABRERA: Do you buy that he didn't know perhaps that this person was even from Russia? He didn't say that specifically, but he didn't know who or the name of the person. And he doesn't say who his acquaintance was either.

BAER: Well, that's horrendous judgment. Somebody like the son of the president, that could be president meeting with foreign officials, for undisclosed purposes and changing the nature, and why would you bring in the campaign manager, Manafort, at this point. You have to think it was significant.

Frankly, as Douglas was saying earlier, none of this adds up. None of it adds up. It's -- I'm very suspicious about exactly what happened. And I don't believe the statement from Donald Trump Jr.

CABRERA: Jay, how do you see this fitting into the larger Russia investigation? We know there's a special counsel who's looking into whether there was collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, again, there's just so much smoke. There's -- I mean, our eyes are burning, we're crying. I mean, there's so much smoke, you have to wonder where there's fire because they repeatedly said they're denying any contact between campaign officials and the Russians. And then, they sort of said, oh, well, maybe during the transition maybe there were contacts. And now, maybe during the campaign there were some contacts at really sensitive times.

And so, every time they say blanket statement, there were no contacts, blanket statement, there were no contacts during the campaign, it always comes back as reverse and hedge and said, but it wasn't really that meeting, it wasn't really this, it wasn't really that. And at that point, you have to say, well, what was it then?

I mean, why is -- how much would we in an alternate universe be talking about this if, let's say, Hillary Clinton were president and, you know, Chinese Premier Xi had offered evidence against Donald Trump during a campaign? That would be on the opposite side, to me, that would be considered incredibly inappropriate to be taking that meeting by Clinton campaign officials, let alone by her family members, say her daughter or husband. So, you know, there's a lot here that the special counsel certainly has to consider and look into.

CABRERA: Bob, could it be that they had this meeting, did not disclose it, again, it was Jared Kushner who didn't disclose it, there have been other situations where members of the Trump circle didn't disclose meetings with other Russian officials, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, of course, we've already hashed those out in the past. But could it be in this case a lack of experience on behalf of Donald Trump Jr. when it comes to campaign and governing?

BAER: These people are sophisticated. They know what Russia is. They know the Russian intelligence capability, that these use proxies, that they use lawyers, they use CEOs with Russian companies. They, you know, had contact with them over the years and not just the Miss Universe contest.

This just goes over and over again. And all of these suspicious meetings that they picked up by metadata, whether in Prague, the Netherlands and on and on -- I mean, we are beyond the just smoke phase. It's starting to look like the fire. And no one has come forward, the Trump administration, and explained this, or explained payments going to Manafort, millions and millions of dollars. Nor have we even got to the, you know, the Deutsche Bank money that was going into the Trump business empire, and on and on and on.

It just gets worse and worse. We call it a drip, drip, drip. The question is, when are we going to clarity? The sooner the better. Otherwise, this president simply can't represent this country until it's cleared up.

CABRERA: Now, a spokesman for Trump's legal team about this meeting, reacting to it, says that they believe it could have been an effort to create an appearance of inappropriate connections between the Trump and his family members and Russia. The quote I have to read you is: We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.

Again, this is spokesman Mark Corallo. He is part of Trump's legal team. What do you make of that reasoning?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I don't buy it. Look, you know, you have to look at the President's actions since he got in the White House. Everything he's done has, in one way or another, been in the interests of Russia. Whether it's isolation at the G20, whether it's proposal for this cyber center that Trump came up with today, everything he's done is serving the Russians.

So what the lawyers are telling us is, oh, the Russians tried to frame him early on in June of 2016? None of that makes any sense. It defies logic.

CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos who's joining us now.

Danny, let me read you part of how "The New York Times" is framing their story, this new reporting that we just have tonight. It says: the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 -- two weeks, by

the way, after Donald Trump, Jr. -- Donald J. Trump, I should say, clinched the Republican nomination -- points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin's meddling in the presidential election, whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

Could this be a smoking gun in the investigation?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It could be a smoking gun in the investigation, but is it a crime per se?

Look, anyone, Russia, anybody, who interfered with the Clinton campaign by illegally accessing computers committed computer fraud, committed identity theft, and a whole host of federal crimes. But the Trump campaign, or people within the Trump team, meeting with someone who says, I have some information, well, I need more information to know what information they thought they were going to get.

So if somebody said, I have some bad information about the Clinton campaign, that's just politics as usual. But as we get closer to if they had knowledge that they were about to get illegally begotten or purloined electronic information, maybe you'd get closer in the sense that it's a kind of a receiving stolen property, only in this case the property is computer information.

But I don't think this is as smoking a gun as we're maybe making it out to be at this moment. Yes, the people who took the information, the data, that appears to be a crime, but people who may eventually receive that information down the line are not necessarily committing a crime.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, AUTHOR, BROAD INFLUENCE: HOW WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE WAY AMERICA WORKS: Can I just -- I don't know. I actually sort of disagree that -- yes, campaigns get people who approach them all the time and say, hey, I've got some bad information about your opponent, and I want to give you that bad information. But to have foreign actors come in?

And that's the big question to me here, is, did he know that this was a Russian foreign -- you know, was it a Russian that he's meeting with? Is it a foreign actor that he's meeting with? Because that is foreign interference in U.S. elections, absolutely illegal.

And that is really bad. I mean, any campaign accepting that would be investigated.

CEVALLOS: What you just said is correct. But the mere fact that we're talking about him meeting with a Russian lawyer, I am an American lawyer. When I meet with people from other countries, I'm not meeting on behalf of America. I'm not meeting on behalf of Washington, D.C.

We need more information. Yes, calling this individual a Russian lawyer could mean they had some connection with the Kremlin, could have some connection with Russian government. But the mere fact that it is a Russian lawyer is not evidence, is not a smoking gun, that the Russian administration was directly connected.

And, look, I've done the reading, and I've seen that she has more than just a passing relationship with the Russian government. But this doesn't appear to be a direct smoking gun of official action by the Russian government.

CABRERA: But according to Donald Trump Jr., he was told during the conversation, once he was at the meeting, that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Miss Clinton. So he is saying she is telling him Russia is involved in some way in the U.S. campaign. Should he have then taken that information to authorities?

CEVALLOS: You just said funding, right?

CABRERA: That's according to his --

CEVALLOS: So the word that you used was funding.

CABRERA: Yes, that's according to the statement.


CEVALLOS: Right. So if we take that at face value based on the question you just asked me, if he reported that, yes, people within Russia are funding or giving money to the campaign, that alone is not a confession that, hey, we're illegally stealing information, or, hey, we're breaking into computers or, hey, we're committing computer fraud or identity theft. The mere fact --

NEWTON-SMALL: But it is illegal for foreigners to actually give to U.S. candidates. Only Americans can give to U.S. candidates.

CEVALLOS: No, I understand that. But the mere fact that they're funding a campaign or funding something like that, they weren't handing Trump Jr. bags of money.

[18:35:00] The mere fact that they're aware of a crime, even if it is a crime, what was done -- I'm not saying it is or it isn't. Even if they're aware of a crime, the mere knowledge of a crime does not make one complicit. That's a basic fundamental tenet of American law.

I agree, it does not look great. I agree. But I think it's rushing the judgement, at this point, to say that it's a smoking gun.

CABRERA: All right. Everybody stand by. And as we come back from a quick break, we're going to be talking with a member of the Hillary Clinton campaign, Robby Mook, who'll join us next. Stay with us.


CABRERA: Our breaking news. "The New York Times" reporting Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

In a statement to CNN, Donald Trump Jr. does not deny the meeting happened. And a member of President Trump's outside legal team tells CNN the President was not aware of this meeting and did not attend.

I want to bring in former Hillary Clinton campaign manager, Robby Mook, who is joining us on the phone.

First, Robby, your reaction to this new report?

[18:40:04] ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it's very troubling on two fronts. First of all, I think we need to start asking ourselves and I think, in particular, Republican leaders in Congress need to start asking themselves, at what point do we stop giving the benefit of the doubt here. The evidence here of these close ties with Russia continue to mount with each and every day.

But then, secondly, what's particularly concerning to me is we are seeing it play out in actual policy. And you mentioned Don Jr. was in the meeting. So was Jared Kushner, who is now a government employee. He is a senior adviser to the President, an official in the government.

We saw the President propose this morning that the Russian government worked with the United States to create some sort of cybersecurity entity for our elections, which is frightening. We've been reading that the President is doing everything he can to stop a bipartisan bill to impose further sanctions on the Russians to punish them for intervening in other election.

So at some point, somebody needs to step up and say enough is enough. And the Trump administration has to clean house. It has to get rid of conflicts of interest. And somebody's got to step in and make sure that our foreign policy is not being overtaken by Russian influence.

CABRERA: Robby, you ran the Clinton campaign. If somebody told you they had somebody who had damaging info on Donald Trump at that time and they wanted you to meet this person without knowing their name, would you go to that meeting? How would you handle it?

MOOK: Well, I think everybody needs to make judgment calls in these situations. What is scary about this particular situation is that the woman in question wasn't just anybody off the street.

She was closely tied, is closely tied, to the Kremlin, was leading their efforts to repeal and stop a law -- a bipartisan law, by the way -- that had been passed to punish business people in Russia who were suspected to be involved in killing of a journalist there. It restricted their ability to travel to this country and blocked their ability to participate in our banking system.

This wasn't just anybody. This was an advocate and a voice for Vladimir Putin. And so anytime somebody representing a foreign government comes to you claiming to assist you, you know, in punishing your opponent when obviously the Putin administration had a clear interest -- a clear antagonism, rather, towards Hillary Clinton, I think that should have paused them.

But what's particularly interesting and frightening about what's happened here, too, is these same individuals said they never met with the Russians. And only months later, as an investigation is going on with some pretty experienced prosecutors, all of a sudden all this new information is coming out. So, yes, there are real questions about why they took this meeting, but also, why didn't they, as the law tells them, they have to reveal that they've had this meeting?

CABRERA: And Jared Kushner's lawyer admits that he did not initially disclose that but then later did on forms to get his security clearance. Robby Mook, thank you so much for joining us and providing that take and giving your reaction.

Federal Reserve chair, meantime, Janet Yellen, will be back in the spotlight this week at a hearing that will be closely watched by Wall Street, could impact your wallet. And CNN Money Correspondent Cristina Alesci has our "Before the Bell" report tonight. Cristina?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY TELEVISION AND DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Janet Yellen is headed to Capitol Hill this week. On Wednesday, the Fed chief will testify on monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee. Investors want to know whether the Fed is still on track for more interest rate hikes this year and when it will begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Now, most economists say Friday's strong jobs report gives the Fed room to keep raising interest rates. The U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs in June, but the unemployment rate did tick slightly higher because more people joined the labor force.

Now, later this week, investors will turn their attention to bank earnings. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and CitiGroup delivered their quarterly report cards to Wall Street on Friday. Bank stocks have been on a tear since the presidential election, and analysts are expecting strong profit growth for financials in the most recent quarter. That could bode well for earnings overall -- Ana.

[18:44:44] CABRERA: Cristina Alesci, thank you. We'll be right back.


CABRERA: Ever wanted to go back in time and relive a period in the past? Tonight, CNN takes you back to the '90s when T.V. dramas like "E.R.," "NYPD Blue," the "The X Files," "Melrose Place," ruled the airwaves.

And then there was "My So-called Life." This is the show that targeted a younger set of viewers. It had an ensemble cast including Claire Danes, Wilson Cruz in the role of Ricky, with a pretty take on teen, school life.

And our very own Brooke Baldwin is hosting a beach party ramping up to tonight's big debut of the CNN Original Series "THE NINETIES." I'm loving the shirts that you're wearing.

A throwback there, Brooke, in Santa Monica for us. Brooke, tell us what's happening there and the special guest you have alongside you.

[18:49:56] BROOK BALDWIN, CNN HOST: This is so special. I mean, I think maybe we're of similar ages, Ana, but, I mean, in the '90s, you know, that was my high school/college formative years. And to have watched "My So-called Life," to be standing next to Wilson Cruz, Ricky Vasquez for all of you who did not watch and were not part of this cult, addictive, formative piece of television.

First of all, a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming out to the party.

WILSON CRUZ, ACTOR: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: So let's just tell everyone. We're at the Santa Monica Pier, by the way. This is all ahead of "THE NINETIES," Original Series which debuts tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

So "My So-called Life," I was reading an interview with the creator who talked about -- was it the first episode when you went into the girls' bathroom and put on the eyeliner?

CRUZ: Yes, it was the pilot of the show. It's actually the first time you see my character as he's looking in the mirror and putting on his eyeliner, and they're talking about boys.

BALDWIN: And the network calls up and says, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

CRUZ: Yes. I mean, there was -- they knew it was going to happen. It was on the script.


CRUZ: I think once they saw it, they were, like, oh, OK, and then there was a whole conversation. But I think because Ricky was this kind of walking, talking heart, you know, it was OK. I think they got it.

BALDWIN: Just, the role of the roles, I mean, Jordan Catalano, heartthrob.

CRUZ: For all of us.

BALDWIN: For all of us.

CRUZ: Yes.

BALDWIN: What do you think was the magic in that show that had so many of us, girls and guys, watching?

CRUZ: I think it was the first show that really talked about teenagers without being patronizing, without treating them -- well, that really treated them with respect and what their experience was. And I think it's why it continues to be popular.

You know, even though we're talking about kids who don't have cell phones and don't have Facebook, the issues that they were dealing with, the feelings that they were feeling were so specific that they were universal. And so people can still watch that and still relate to what they were going through, and I that's why people who were even older than those teenagers were watching the show at the time.

BALDWIN: Yes. Just lastly, quickly, what you're up to now because, similarly, in a way of analyzing the mind of a teenage girl, "13 Reasons Why." And what else?

CRUZ: So I'm doing "13 Reasons Why." I'm playing -- I'm back for the second season. We're doing that right now. And I'm working on a really special project that I'm very, very, very excited about.

BALDWIN: Super top secret. Give us a tease.

CRUZ: Super top secret. I'll just say that, you know, it really means a lot to me and it's really important. And I'm -- it's boldly going somewhere, but it's very exciting.

BALDWIN: Stay tuned for that. Wilson Cruz, thank you so much for coming by the party.

CRUZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Go grab a slap bracelet while you're at it.

CRUZ: Yes. And I'm listening to all the great '90s music.

BALDWIN: I know, I know.

CRUZ: I'm waiting for a little "Bodyguard" to come on, you know.

BALDWIN: Oh, that's been there. And I think there was Sir Mix-a-Lot happening earlier. Just stand by for that.

CRUZ: Oh, and Janet Jackson.

BALDWIN: As we continue on, let me introduce you to someone else who I watched each and every Friday night, TGIF. You'll remember "Full House."

Before we talk to Jodie Sweetin, remember this one? Here's a clip when she was Stephanie Tanner.




SWEETIN: Stay! Good car.


SWEETIN: Ah! P, R, N, D, R. It must mean radio. Whoa, Randy (ph), whoa! (SCREAMING)

SWEETIN: I'm in the house, and I'm still in the car.



BALDWIN: That was Stephanie Tanner. She is Jodie Sweetin. She is joining me live from Los Angeles.

Jodie, I'm bummed you're not here on the Santa Monica Pier. We're having this huge party ahead of the big debut --

SWEETIN: I know! It looks like you guys --

BALDWIN: -- tonight. We're having a good time. There's like -- there's flannel happening --

SWEETIN: It's look like you're having an amazing time, yes.

BALDWIN: -- for grunge and Nirvana. It's amazing.

SWEETIN: And I must say --

BALDWIN: But let me --

SWEETIN: -- "My So-called Life" was my favorite show.


SWEETIN: So I'm freaking out right now that you got to talk to Wilson.

BALDWIN: Jodie Sweetin says you were her favorite. She's freaking out and she just saw on T.V.

CRUZ: Oh, my God.

BALDWIN: He is freaking --


BALDWIN: It's a mutual freaking out happening. Anyway, so just quickly, like, how old were you when you even auditioned as Stephanie Tanner?

SWEETIN: You know, I actually never auditioned as Stephanie Tanner. I did another series called "Valerie," which had the same executive producers, Miller-Boyett. And I played the next-door neighbor's niece, and I did one episode of that.

And from doing that episode, I actually was cast on "Full House" as Stephanie Tanner, so I actually never auditioned for the show. But I was around 4-1/2 when I did that, and I was five when I started "Full House." BALDWIN: Wow. Wow.


BALDWIN: So you're 4-1/2, five.


BALDWIN: I don't know if you're quite at the point where you're realizing that that was something that everyone was watching. Obviously so much so because we've been watching you guys on "Fuller House" --


BALDWIN: -- but when did you realize that was such a hit, Jodie?

SWEETIN: You know what? I traveled a lot when I was young doing different appearances and traveling all over the country and, you know, got all these amazing opportunities to, you know, go to the White House and do all these things. And I think, at that point, it sort of hit me.

Like, when I, you know, would go to the mall with my friends or go to, you know, Disneyland or whatever, and not be able to just kind of move through a crowd because everyone recognized me. It was --


SWEETIN: I mean, it's sort of strange because, you know, for me, it was, like, oh, I just happen to do a job that I love that a lot of people watch.


SWEETIN: But, yes, I think that was when it kind of sunk in.

[18:55:07] BALDWIN: No, it was -- my little brother and I would sit with our Domino's pizza on Friday night, and we'd watch you guys. And we watched -- I interviewed Jaleel White this week, Steve Urkel, you know, of "Family Matters," the whole lot. Before I let you go, what is the whole thing --

SWEETIN: Yes. The whole TGIF, yes.

BALDWIN: Totally. As I'm wearing my "90210" shirt right now and we see all the mom jeans that were very in then.


BALDWIN: Which are, by the way, very back right now.

SWEETIN: Yes, they are.

BALDWIN: What was the one fashion trend of the '90s, Jodie, that you would love to bring back? SWEETIN: Oh, you know, I was a big fan of overalls. I really loved

the overalls and those looked like just a good --


SWEETIN: Yes. See, I like those. Or like the short one, too? And I've seen those starting to make kind of a comeback, so we'll see.

BALDWIN: Nice, nice. They're back. The '90s are back.

SWEETIN: My 9-year-old likes the little baby backpacks, yes.

BALDWIN: Nice. Jodie Sweetin, thank you so much. We watched you on "Fuller House" --

SWEETIN: Absolutely. Thank you, guys.

BALDWIN: Thank very much.

SWEETIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The party is still rolling. Come on out to the Santa Monica Pier. Thank you.

Again, "THE NINETIES" original series, a debut show tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific. We're going to take a look at it earlier today if you want to swing by on the next 30 minutes to the pier. CNN continues right after this.