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Report: Trump Learned Of Meeting With Russian Lawyer Days Ago; Trump Floated Then Backtracked On Working With Russia On Cyber Security; White House Says Election Meddling Sanctions Came Up In Putin Meeting. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 10, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The president tweeted recently that sanctions were not discussed. So again, this sort of clarity of what occurred at the meeting is fuzzy. It's fuzzy. She said in terms of whether the president accepted or how he reacted to Vladimir Putin, his denial of Russian interference in the election, she said he heard Putin's denial. I don't know what that means.


BORGER: And then he decided to move forward on our shared interests, although, didn't indicate, of course, that this joint cyber security panel would go forward because it's had such bipartisan criticism. Other than that, she defended Ivanka calling it standard protocol to sit in for your father at the G20 whereas Larry Summers who's the former secretary of treasury wrote a column in "The Washington Post" today in which he said there's no precedent for it. And says that it's insulting to the other heads of state who were present. But she called it standard protocol.

BROWN: Of course, I want to talk about the other big headline which is the meeting that was recently disclosed over the weekend by "The New York Times" that Don Junior as well as Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. Something that Don Junior and others denied ever meeting with Russians. Now this happened. What did you make of her explanation? It seemed like she was focusing on this shouldn't have been leaked. This was a voluntary disclosure, this shouldn't have been leaked. And she also mentioned the president found out about it in the last couple of days.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Right. The headline out of that is the president according to Sanders is in fact had just learned about this meeting. He was not told about it back last year in June of last year when it occurred. But the tactic of trying to spin the tables is something that they have perfected in many ways where they just directly go after the leakers. They don't necessarily go after the substance of what has been leaked, although, they will on the edges to try to discredit. But her quote was the only thing I see inappropriate about the meeting was the people who leaked the information on the meeting after it was voluntarily disclosed. If you talk to folks in the national intelligence world, they will tell you they see a lot of problems with that meeting. Frankly, even those in the campaign finance world. BROWN: I want to go to John Nixon on that. The irony here is she's

focusing on the leakers with this, but the president is tweeting about a report from anonymous sources where these people were leaking that four out of the seven of James Comey's memos contained classified information. There's cherry picking going on.

PRESTON: Of course. Everything that Donald Trump does and has done since he's been in office has been on his terms. It's on his rules, and he -- if it works to his advantage, and we should say most politicians do this as well. It's amplified when President Trump does it on Twitter and just really hammers it home.

BROWN: All right. I'm going to bring in John Nixon for the CIA perspective on this. As we heard her say, she said again, there was no collusion that took place during the campaign. Between the campaign, and the Russians. But for people learning about this, they may say, well, if this Russian national had handed over incriminating information would that have been collusion? Break it down for us. Help us understand.

JOHN NIXON, FORMER CIA ANALYST: I think it is. First of all, if she -- I think there's a very good chance she was given this information by somebody in the Russian government, and that was her sole purpose, to get a meeting and hand the stuff over. And then --

BROWN: And you have no evidence to back that up?

NIXON: This is my opinion, of course. But the thing is also that from the intelligence community standpoint, Donald Trump when he came to CIA headquarters said, I'm going to back you up 100 percent and I'm going to be behind you. And little by little over the month we've seen, he is throwing the agency over the bus and throwing the intelligence community under the bus.

[15:35:00] And I think after a while, there's going to be such distrust, as it is, I think there's a real growing threat of distrust between the intelligence agencies and the president. And the thing is, and I've said this before on CNN, I'll say it again. The only people if a wall of mistrust is built up, the only people that benefit are our enemies and people like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un in North Korea, those people.

BROWN: Speaking about mistrust, Gloria, it was pointed out in a briefing that administration officials have repeatedly denied there were any meetings between Russians and campaign officials, and now we're learning about this meeting between Don Junior and this Russian national. How much does this continue to hurt the credibility of the White House when it comes out denies something, and then it turns out to be true?

BORGER: Right. And complain about the leakers? And complain about the people who leak it? I think there is a credibility issue. I think it does not extend to Donald Trump supporters. I think Donald Trump supporters believe that this is an attack by the media on them, and they're looking to see what happens with health care, for example. And I think the problem with the president getting health care passed, et cetera is the lower his popularity goes with the general public, the less power he has in congress to get things done.

So, these things don't happen in a vacuum. If his credibility is affected on Capitol Hill with members of the senate, for example, and passing health care reform, that is a problem with him. So, taken in and of itself with his base of supporters, attacking the media works fine, but it doesn't work when you're trying to get something done on capitol hill. And what they would like to see him tweeting about is the specifics of his health care measure, and how it will help you get bet ere insurance for your family and how the insurance will be cheaper, and how they will make your life better, and that is what people are not hearing from this president when he continues to tweet and talk about these things. And so, it's all part of a package.

BROWN: And something else he was tweeting about was this notion of creating a cyber security unit with Russia, initially he tweeted this was something that they discussed and was in the works. And then after there was sort of a swift backlash, he backtracked and said it's not possible. But you heard Huckabee Sanders say the discussions about that will continue. What do you make of this?

PRESTON: She didn't have an answer. Unfortunately for her -- I don't think that's a criticism of Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has to answer the unanswerable. When you have john McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Marco Rubio all come out and laugh off the idea this commission could be put together, which, by the way, would be really created to try to combat what Russia is trying to do with its cyber meddling in the United States as well as other nations, I they that says something. I don't know why Donald Trump decided to reel it back in, so to speak. But he did, and it's just -- he's not very contrite when he --

BROWN: I want to ask John from a Moscow perspective when it comes to sanctions, a cyber security unite, the president tweeted that he did not discuss sanctions with Putin, election meddling sanctions. Then Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was part of the discussion. What is Moscow thinking watching this play out?

NIXON: I think they love it. They love the cognitive dissonance of this White House. They're like rubs in the big city. I think it gives them the encouragement they need to be like we can continue to push and continue to push on America and on this White House, and we can maybe get more than we bargained for, and so I have a feeling they're going to be very aggressive in dealing with the United States as well as some other countries?

BROWN: All right. Everyone, thank you so much for that important perspective. Donald Trump Junior did an interview with CNN around the same time of this meeting we've been discussing, and the topic of Trump and the Russians came up. Hear what he said. Jake Tapper joins me up next.


BROWN: Donald Trump Junior admits he met with a Kremlin connected lawyer last summer with the intention of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. But the very next month he spoke to our own Jake Tapper and hear how outraged he was when he was asked whether the Russians were trying to help Trump win?



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I asked him about the DNC leak, and he suggested that experts are saying that Russians were behind both the leak, the hacking of the DNC emails and their release. He seemed to be suggesting this is part of a plot to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Your response?

DONALD TRUMP JUNIOR, ELDEST SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, it goes to show you their exact moral compass. This is time and time again, lie after lie. He won't say, well, I say this. His house cat at home once said this is what's happening with the Russians. It's disgusting. It's so phony. I don't mind a fair fight but the perpetuating of that nonsense to gain political capital is outrageous. He should be ashamed of himself. If a Republican did that, they'd be calling for people to bring out the electric chair.


BROWN: Jake Tapper joins me now. Jake, you watch this and think about the timing of this interview. It is noteworthy. Weeks before was when he met with this Russian national who was offering up incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: Yes. Two points. One is we should note that since that interview which was the Sunday before the Democratic National Convention, since that interview, what the Clinton campaign manager said has been corroborated by the entire intelligence community both under President Obama and currently under President Trump that the Russians were behind the hack and trying to interfere with the election.

[15:45:00] Two, it is a lot of indignance from Donald Trump Junior considering he had first-hand knowledge of a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin meeting with him, with the pretense or promise of damaging information about Hillary Clinton. In other words, he knew that there was at least something about Russians trying to help Trump and hurt Clinton. He knew that already.

BROWN: Right.

TAPPER: So, the indignance doesn't really square with what he knew.

BROWN: When he called it disgusting and this is a witch hunt given the circumstances just a few weeks before. And just the fact that as you know, Saturday he said we were talking about adoption. And then he expanded or changed his story, however you want to look at it to say it was about incriminating information. This is the first known meeting between high level people within the Trump campaign meeting with Russian nationals during the campaign. How significant is this big picture? TAPPER: I mean, I don't think it proves collusion, necessarily. But

first of all, it's a question as to why we're learning about this now in July after months and months and months of official denials by president Trump, Mike Pence and there were no meetings, no contacts, here's one, and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were at the meeting as well. The other thing to keep in mind beyond the outrage about what was said. When they say, when Donald Trump junior says this meeting was originally supposed tonight about adoption or ended up being about adoption. That's not really what the adoption issue is about. As you know. The adoption issue is about the fact that --

BROWN: Sanctions.

TAPPER: Yes. That the U.S. passed a law in 2012 saying they could sanction individual Russians basically for human rights abuses. And Putin in retaliation stopped the adoptions of Americans of Russian orphans. That's an American legislation. When she's lobbying or wants to talk to him about adoptions, she wants the sanctions lifted. Even the explanation of originally, we wanted to find out about dirt about Hillary Clinton but she changed the subject to adoption. It's really changing the subject to sanctions and trying to get the U.S. to lift the sanctions which is also one of the threats we keep hearing when it comes to contacts between the Trump team, whether it's Donald Trump Junior or Michael Flynn or whomever and Russians.

BROWN: What stuck out to me in just listening to the briefing at the White House today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president found about the meeting in just the last couple of days. One would think if you know there's an FBI investigation going on, looking at possible collusion between your campaign and Russians, you would want to know about every meeting. You would ask everyone in your campaign, have you met with the Russians, tell me your consensus of it? Am I wrong?

TAPPER: That's one philosophy. The other would be I don't know to know anything. And therefore, when you say something, I don't know about any meetings between anybody on my team and the Russians. As George Costanza once said, it's not a lie if you believe it. So, I think there are two schools of thought there in the world of politics, and one of them would be keep the principal away from any information about this as much as possible.

BROWN: And you have new information I want to get to. You spoke to a friend of James Comey who is back at center stage after the president tweeted that James Comey leaked classified information in a memo to his friend. You actually spoke to him, what did he say?

TAPPER: Daniel Richmond said none of the memos he got from James Comey were marked classified. Comey said in testimony that none of the memos he shared with anybody contained any classified information, and he said that what the president is charging and what others have said is wrong. They're not classified, they weren't at the time of the memo. There's no markings of classification and none were handed over to the press. He shared contents of it. There is a question about whether or not any of these memos have subsequently enjoyed a higher classification or at least parts of them enjoying a higher classification. [15:50:00] I don't know if that's true or not. But it started off

with a story in the hill about whether or not any of this material might now be considered classified. And if so, what might that mean, and it was speculative and stuck to the facts of what he reported and what was known. And then another news channel took it and messed it up and turned it into something else, and then President Trump --

BROWN: That he did, in fact, leak --

TAPPER: Yes, and then President Trump said something that is not what anybody has written responsibly about this issue.

BROWN: It was interesting. We were having this conversation earlier that you heard Sarah Huckabee Sanders go after the leakers when it came to the Donald Trump junior meeting with the Russian national and going after them, and then the president is tweeting out a story that was essentially from anonymous sources.

TAPPER: The White House literally sends out press releases that are transcripts of calls that senior administration officials have done with reporters. They don't have a problem with anonymous sources. They don't have a problem with background. They have a problem with stories that are damaging to them. Again, in that case, they are different from every other administration not at all. Every single administration hates leaks that hurt them and loves leaks they supply that make their boss look great. That are damaging to them. Again, in that case, they are different from every other administration not at all. Every single administration hates leaks that hurt them and loves leaks they supply that make their boss look great.

BROWN: Thank you, Jake.

We'll be back at the top of the hour.

Next, at least one Republican says she'd need a complete overhaul of the health care bill to get to a yes vote. Plus, we're learning new details about why the president is taking a hands-off approach to getting it passed.


BROWN: The majority leader Mitch McConnell is desperately trying to find a way to save the Republican's health care bill. Some GOP senators are saying the bill is likely dead. President Trump weighing in on Twitter this morning tweeting, I cannot imagine that congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new health care bill fully approved and ready to go. And today protesters being removed

from Republican offices on Capitol Hill. Take a look at this video including the offices of Senators Flake and Cruz.

Maeve Reston joins me now more. A White House official is saying Trump will not be playing a large role in selling this health care bill. What can you tell us?

[15:55:00] MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Trump has been so inconsistent about the health care bill, and that's been a major struggle for Republican lawmakers. Remember a couple weeks ago he talked about the house version being mean. Now, you have a situation, where Republican leaders are scrambling to try to convince at least 10 senators who are currently a no on the bill to come to the table, but they all want different things, so it's making negotiations really difficult. And the longer this goes on, the more of a chance there is that the bill will be dead because time is not something that's helping them with negotiations.

BROWN: And Senators John McCain, Bill Cassidy, they were saying without changes this bill is stagnant. Let's listen to what they said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: If you shut out the adversary or the opposite party, you're going to end up the same way Obamacare did when they rammed it through with 60 votes. Only guess what? We don't have 60 votes. My view is it's probably going to be dead.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R) LOUISIANA: The draft plan has now been in serious rewrite. So, we don't know what the serious rewrite is. Clearly the draft plan is dead. Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don't know, I haven't seen the serious rewrite plan.


BROWN: Maeve, on that note do you think it's possible for Republicans to make enough changes and potentially rewrite this bill in three weeks?

RESTON: It is possible, certainly. But again, they're kind of boxed in between the moderates and the conservatives who all want different things. I have to say, just going out and talking to voters in places like Colorado over the last couple of weeks, the health care bill is one of the first things you hear about, people being concerned about it, not knowing what's in it. That's a lot of what senators were hearing when they were home in their districts over the break. So, there's so much pressure on them and this bill is perfect in the eyes of many that it's going to be an uphill battle for the Republican leadership.

BROWN: All right, Maeve Reston, thanks so much.

President Trump already backing off his plan to partner with Vladimir Putin on a cyber security unit.