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Trump Jr. Admits to Meeting with Russian Lawyer; Bipartisan Backlash Over Trump-Putin Meeting; Senate Back to Work on Healthcare Reform; Iraq Declares Victory Over ISIS In Mosul; Laptop Ban Lifts For Two More Airlines; Amazon Prime Day. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 10, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr. now admitting he met with the Russian Lawyer with ties to the Kremlin in an effort to help the Trump Campaign. Startling admission now raising a big question, is this evidence of collusion?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president now is appearing to walk back his agreement with Russia to create a cyber-security unit. We'll tell you what's behind this sudden about-face.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

President Trump's eldest son now admitting, he met with the Russian. He says he was told it could help his father's campaign.

Donald Trump, Jr. responding to a report from "The New York Times" that he was "promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the campaign."

That meeting held in early June, two weeks after Mr. Trump clinched the nomination.

ROMANS: In attendance, Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner, then-campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, Donald Jr., and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. It's the first known meeting between several top members of Trump's team and a Russian National during the campaign and it goes to the fundamental question facing FBI Congressional Investigators who are looking into Russian Interference in the campaign. Did the Trump team, the Trump Campaign, collude with Russians in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton and win the White House?

BRIGGS: Trump Jr. responding with this statement to CNN, it says in part, "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.

After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.

Her statement vague, ambiguous, made no sense. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events."

ROMANS: Don, Jr. has been a vocal critic of accusations. There was collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. Even tweeting on June 8th, one day before the meeting, "thanks, James Comey debunks "New York Times" report about Trump Campaign having repeated Russian contacts." Here's what Don, Jr. told our Jake Tapper in July when he asked about collusion.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ELDEST SON: Well, it just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they'll say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie. You noticed he won't say, well, I say this we hear experts. You know, his house cat at home once said that this is what's happening with the Russians. It's disgusting. It's so phony.


ROMANS: For more of the meeting and why this Russian lawyer asked for it, let's bring in CNN's Elise Labbot in Washington.

ELISE LABBOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, Christine, Donald Trump, Jr. says that he and two other senior members of the Trump team met a year ago with a Russian lawyer who claimed she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Now, he says the meeting was set-up by an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant that was held near Moscow. And that acquaintance told Trump, Jr. that the individual might have information helpful to the campaign.

Now, this person turned out to be a Russian lawyer who started the meeting saying she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee to help Hillary Clinton.

Now, Trump, Jr. said this woman didn't bring any evidence saying her statements were "vague, ambiguous, and made no sense". And he said he quickly realized that she was using Hillary Clinton as a pretext to talk about U.S. Policy.

Now, the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, formed a group who was purporting to seek the removal of an adoption ban on Russian children to the U.S. that was put in place years ago as retaliation for an American Law passed in 2012.

Now, that law is known as the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanction over Senior Russian Officials thought to have violated human rights. And Ms. Veselnitskaya has also sought the repeal of that legislation.

And this could be of interest to Special Counsel, Robert Mueller whose investigation is looking into contacts between Russia and the Trump Campaign and allegations of collusion which President Trump has denied, Dave and Christine. BRIGGS: Elise thanks. The White House is fighting back against the

bipartisan furors sparked by President Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Over the weekend, the president appeared to agree with Putin's assessment that Russia did not meddle in the U.S. Election tweeting, "I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion."

Even the president's closest allies are distancing themselves from his position on Russia's election meddling. Listen to U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley.

[04:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. Everybody knows they're not just meddling in the United States' election. They're doing this across multiple continents and they're doing this in a way that they're trying to cause chaos within the country.


ROMANS: So, why can't President Trump bring himself to say what Ambassador Haley and others are proclaiming about Russia's Election meddling? Here's Former CIA Director, John Brennan.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I don't think he demonstrates good negotiating skills when it comes to Mr. Putin. Again, two days before in Warsaw, he gives Mr. Putin the opportunity to point to the failures of U.S. Intelligence. To me, I think he ceded that ground.

And also, right before he met with Mr. Putin and talked with him at some length, which I'm glad he did, he said it's an honor to meet President Putin, an honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me it was a dishonorable thing to say.


ROMANS: For more on the follow-up from the president's meeting with Putin, let's bring in CNN's White House Correspondent, Athena Jones.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. After two days of confusion over the contradictory readouts provided by the two sides, the U.S. and the Russians, after that lengthy sit down between President Trump and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the White House is finally setting the record straight.

Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus refuting the Russians' claims that President Trump took President Putin at his word when Putin denied Russian meddling in last year's election. Take a listen to what Reince Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin. What the president did is he immediately came into the meeting, talked about Russian meddling in the U.S. Election, went after that issue at least two separate times. This was not just a five-minute piece of the conversation. This was an extensive portion of the meeting.


JONES: Now, Priebus' comments came a day after several administration officials given multiple opportunities to correct the record that refute Putin's claim, declined to do so. Back to you.

BRIGGS: OK. President Trump now appears to be backing away from the idea of forming this cyber-security unit with the Kremlin. Sunday morning, he tweeted, "Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber-security unit so that election hacking and many other negative things would be guarded", but by last night it's seeming about-face.

"The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cyber-security unit, it doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't, but a ceasefire can and did." President Trump is referring to a ceasefire in Southwest Syria he negotiated with Putin that appears to be holding there.

ROMANS: But, that good news didn't help him escape the criticism for floating the idea of a joint cyber-security arrangement with the Russians. Republican Senator, Marco Rubio tweeting, "partnering with Putin on a cyber-security unit is akin to partnering with Assad on a chemical weapons unit."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also weighing in saying, "it's not the dumbest idea I've ever heard, but it's pretty close."

And this is from Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter.


ASHTON CARTER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Russians pulled out the whole playbook. I've seen all this going back to Russian and Soviet days. When confronted with something they've done wrong, ask for U.S. Intelligence, old trick. Propose a working group, in this case on cyber, but this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary. It's they who did this.


ROMANS: For more on the prospect of U.S.-Russia cyber-security team and what President Trump did or did not say to Vladimir Putin, let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Matthew Chance. Matthew, what's the view from the Russian perspective?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the view from the Russian perspective is a very positive one. They went into this face-to-face meeting with very low expectations. They thought when they were going to get a second meeting with Trump given the poisonous nature of the Russian issue in U.S. Domestic Politics.

And they were, of course, very happy with the fact that the two leaders manages to sit then for over two hours and to hammer out or to go over at least some of the most difficult issues in the -- in relationship between the United States and Russia. President Putin said to his spokesman that he is satisfied with the meeting as well you might imagine he is.

In terms of the working group, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister said, "Look, the issue of cyber-security hacking in all its forms, organized crime, counterterrorism these are areas that affect both the United States and Russia equally, and areas where there should be working groups and cooperation."

So, that's the way this is being characterized here. There hasn't been any immediate reaction I have to tell you this morning to President Trump's latest tweet that he doesn't necessarily think that this cyber-security unit can actually happen as far as the Russians are concerned. This was an area of progress that they've highlighted as a result of this first face to-face meeting between Putin and Trump.

[04:40:00] ROMANS: Fascinating. All right, Matthew Chance, for us in Moscow this morning. Thanks, Matthew.

BRIGGS: All right, as we mentioned all signs appear to be honoring a ceasefire in Syria this morning. The truce brokered by the U.S., Russia, and Jordan went into effect Sunday in Southwest Syria, part of an agreement between Russia and the U.S. hammered out and announced Friday at the G-20 Summit in Germany.

President Trump tweeting Sunday, "Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of a meeting good," exclamation point. President Trump and Russian President, Vladimir Putin also agreed to set up a three-day de-escalation zone in Syria to be secured by Russian Military Police.

ROMANS: The president right now has no public events scheduled today, but we do know he hit the links Sunday, spending just over four hours golfing at his club in Sterling, Virginia. The White House, excuse me, not disclosing his activities at the club. This is now the 20th weekend the president visited a Trump property and at least the 36th day he has spent at one of his own golf clubs.

BRIGGS: The outgoing director of Government Ethics Office is lashing out the Trump Administration in his final days on the job. Walter Shaub has been hounding the White House for months about the conflicts of interest. He leaves office next week and says tougher guidelines are needed now more than ever.


WALTER SHAUB, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: And I'd like to see some rules to address presidential conflicts of interest because every past presidents since enactment of ethics in government act has understood that a president can have conflicts of interest and should address them. And the breach of that ethical tradition has been the start of every problem that's flowed from that in the past several months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Norm Mason (ph) who is...


BRIGGS: Shaub insists he was not pushed out of his job but willingly chose to step down.

ROMANS: All right, the Senate returns from the holiday recess this morning and will get back to work on healthcare reform, but if Republicans can't pass the bill, health insurers want them to shore-up ObamaCare instead. Insurers say uncertainty is forcing them to boost rates or leave the exchanges completely.

For example, Humana, Aetna, and Anthem are already out in 2018 blaming a lack of information on top of millions of dollars and losses. Here are a few complaints insurers want lawmakers to address sharing the cost for lower-income Americans, enhancing credits for younger consumers to attract more of them to the exchanges, and making continuous coverage attractive so Americans don't drop out.

Insurers blame lack of stability for two-thirds of the 2018 rate hikes. Some insurers were charged as high as 50 percent more to offset the cost of sicker-than-expected policyholders. All right, 42 minutes past the hour. Senate Republicans back on Capitol Hill today but are they any closer to healthcare plan? We'll discuss next why one leading Republican says the GOP should be ashamed of not passing health legislation.


[04:45:00] ROMANS: Senate Republicans returning from the holiday recess this morning and ready to get back to work on healthcare reform, but it seems no one is optimistic about getting a plan passed. One idea back on the table now, repealing ObamaCare without immediately replacing it. Republican Senator, Bill Cassidy, a physician calls that idea being pushed by the president a non-starter.

BRIGGS: And this from Iowa's GOP Senator, Chuck Grassley, "52 Republican Senators should be ashamed that we have not passed healthcare reform by now. We won't be ashamed. We will go from majority to minority."

One thing is clear, Republicans, can't seem to get on the same page when it comes to reforming healthcare. Listen to Senators, Ted Cruz and John McCain on the prospects for getting a deal done.


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. To my view, it's probably going to be dead.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If we can't get this done right now, I agree with the president. Then let's honor the promise on repeal and spend more time to get it done. I believe we can get it done. I think there is an agreement. My objective for the last six months helping lead the working group on healthcare has been to reach consensus to bring together and unify the Republican Conference, and the way we do it is focusing like a laser.


ROMANS: President Trump sounding like it's now or never on Twitter last night tweeting, "for years, even as a civilian, I listened as Republicans pushed the repeal and replace of ObamaCare." Now, they finally have their chance.

BRIGGS: Some heart-pounding moments at a beach north of Miami after a swimmer was attacked by a shark. It happened when the victim was just about to get out of the water at Haulover Beach. The person was bitten in the lower extremities but is expected to be okay.

Authorities warning swimmers saying in part, although these incidents are rare, we ask beach-goers to always be aware of their surroundings. Just try getting back in the ocean today if you're anywhere near South Florida, terrifying.

ROMANS: All right, it's a day of deals for Amazon and that's good for the company's bottom line. Just as online competition heats up. There's a war going on in retail and it's over your online dollars. That's up next.


[04:50:00] BRIGGS: Iraq is declaring victory in Mosul. Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi has started congratulating soldiers on the great success of their eight-month push to drive ISIS out of the country's second-largest city.

The prime minister's office putting out a statement saying the remaining pockets of ISIS are encircled in the last inches of the city. It is a matter of time before we declare to our people the great victory.

Al-Abadi says Iraqi soldiers are fighting to free civilians whom ISIS has been using as "human shields." CNN's Nick Paton Walsh monitoring the situation from Erbil, Iraq. He has the latest.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi arriving in Mosul last night to declare victory here to speak of its liberation. We've seen him roaming the streets, talking to the normal residents here in the east of the city appealing to them to go back to the work, go back to their jobs.

And really, I think Iraq is in full celebration mode. There were people dancing in the streets with soldiers. A real sense, I think that after enduring an eight-month slog in Mosul to rid themselves of ISIS, Iraqi troops have now reached the river that runs through the city that marks the backend of ISIS territory here, raising the flag there as we've been seeing on social media.

And, although there are some small pockets of ISIS, that since last night were holding out really the moment I think it now where for Iraq has to reflect upon the sacrifice its made -- the sacrifices it's made for the world, frankly to kick ISIS out of its territory, Haider Al- Abadi making sure many feel the appreciation that his government has for the work and the blood that is being lost in that goal.

But, much more complicated task potentially socially ahead of Iraq here. They have quickly to begin to heal the rift between the Sunni Ethnic Group and the Shia Ethnic Group. The Sunnis once were the minority ruling under Saddam Hussein. Now, they find themselves marginalized. They're extremists, feeling empty towards ISIS letting it get a foothold and the Shia who predominantly the government and the military now, they have to heal somehow, but it's important not to lose sight of this moment.

It's important for Iraq, for its sacrifice, for what it's done to make the world potentially safer, as well, from ISIS and Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi certainly here to be sure that is not missed. Back to you.


[04:55:00] ROMANS: Well, the battle (ph) is in three years -- three years actually...

BRIGGS: What a long slog and still a long road ahead to rebuild.

ROMANS: That's true. All right, 56 minutes past the hour. The west has been baking and now the eastern part of the country is about to join in the heat wave, Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri has the latest forecast.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, a couple of cities across the country this week may be seeing some of the hottest temperatures of 2017, St. Louis could be one of them, heat indices across this region up to around 100 and above 100 in few places.

In fact, Kansas City having a heat advisory in place where they'll certainly expect temps to be right around 100 degrees across the afternoon hours but look at Washington, get up to near 100 as well and it actually stays there for a couple of days towards the heart of the week.

And then we'll see a little bit of a cooling trend coming into this weekend with additional thunderstorm potential returning there on Saturday. Here's what's going on out west, it's still extremely dry, still extremely hot.

In fact, if you look at the situation across parts of the Western U.S., Fresno, Tucson, Cedar City, Utah to name a few cities have not seen rainfall on 50 to 60 days in a row now, so this is really beginning to build as far as the fire weather concern being elevated and we know record heat has been also experienced in recent days and 72 record temps in the past several days across parts of the Western U.S.

And with that elevated fire risks to the north, we are watching for some scattered storms. Unfortunately, these are dry thunderstorms, so certainly easterly following for a few days across here. Guys?

ROMANS: All right, thanks for that, Pedram. Let's go check on "CNN Money" this morning. Global markets higher after the U.S. ended the week with stock market gains. The NASDAQ jumping 1 percent, all three indices rose after a strong jobs report in the U.S. The American economy added a robust 222,000 jobs in June.

The unemployment rate moved a little bit higher that's because the labor force increased. More people are out there looking for work. Investors this week keeping an eye on quarterly reports especially for the big banks, their profit reports, JPMorgan, CitiGroup, and Wells Fargo all report their earnings this week.

U.S. Officials are lifting the laptop ban on two more airlines. Passengers on Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airlines can now carry their laptops on board. In March, the U.S. banned electronics in cabins on flights from eight countries including Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The concern was that the devices could conceal explosives. Last week, the ban was lifted from several other Mideast Airlines. Officials say it's because they introduced tighter security measures.

It's Amazon's annual day of deals called Prime Day, the 30-hour shopping spree for Prime Member starts tonight at 9:00 p.m. Amazon uses Prime Day for two reasons to boost sales and to lure customers to buy its Prime Membership. Prime members spend more on average about $1,100 a year, versus $600 for non-members. Prime Day arrives just as competition is heating up for online shopping especially from Wal- Mart. Wal-Mart's digital sales skyrocketed 63 percent in the first three months of the year. Is your inbox just full of like...

BRIGGS: Well, other online retailers are trying to compete now. So, we all win today. If you're cyber...

ROMANS: Just don't spend more money than you have. That's my only advice...

[05:00:00] BRIGGS: I will -- I will indeed.

EARLY START continues right now.

President Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr. now admitting he met with the Russian Lawyer with ties to the Kremlin in an effort to help the Trump Campaign. The sterling admission now raising a big question, is this evidence of collusion?

ROMANS: And President Trump now appearing to walk-back his agreement with Russia to create a cyber-security unit. What's behind this change of heart?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, July 10th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Big news this morning, President Trump's eldest son now admitting he met with the Russian he says he was told could help his father's campaign.

Donald Trump, Jr. responding to a report from "The New York Times" that he was "promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the campaign.