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Trump Jr. Acknowledges Meeting Russian Lawyer During Campaign; Fallout From Trump's Putin Meeting; Mnuchin Expects Tax Reform This Year. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:03] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: "Promise 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: In attendance, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, then-campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. It is 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 and congressional investigators who are looking into Russian interference in the campaign. Did the Trump campaign collide with Russians in order to hurt Clinton and win the White House?

Trump Jr. responding with a 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." We should point out that was in Moscow. "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 statements were vague, ambiguous, and made no sense. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events."

ROMANS: Now Don Jr. has been a vocal critic of accusations there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian even tweeting on June 8th, this is in 2016, one day before the meeting, "Thanks, James. Comey debunks "New York Times" report about Trump campaign having repeated Russian contacts." And here's what Don Jr. told our Jake Tapper in July when he was 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 notice he won't say "Well, I say this." We hear experts, you know, his house cat at home once said this is what's happening with the Russians. It's disgusting. It's so phony.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: That was six weeks after the meeting there. The White House is fighting back against the bipartisan furor 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."

But even the President's closest allies here are distancing themselves from his position on Russia's election meddling. Listen to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.


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


ROMANS: Why can't President Trump himself 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 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.


BRIGGS: President Trump now appears to be backing away from the idea of forming this cybersecurity unit with the Kremlin. He tweeted, "Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded."

But by last night assuming about faith "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cybersecurity unit doesn't mean I think it can happen -- it can't. But a cease-fire can and did." President Trump is referring to a cease-fire in Southwest Syria. He negotiated with Putin that appears to be holding.

ROMANS: But that good news did not help him escape the criticism for floating the idea of a joint cybersecurity arrangement with the Russians. Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeting, "Partnering with Putin on a cybersecurity 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 its pretty close." And this former Defense Secretary Ash Carter.


ASH CARTER, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You know the Russians pulled out the old play book. I've seen all this from 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.


[05:05:01] ROMANS: All right, to help break it all down, this morning CNN Politics Reporter Eugene Scott and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent. Good morning.

Let say on subject of a cybersecurity, you know, the idea of working with the Russian on cycbersecurity. I mean the response wasp pretty bipartisan and pretty swift here. And the President himself seems to realize that the optics have look a little funny. Like working with the burglar, the guy who just robbed your house. What do you make of the idea of working with the Russians on cybersecurity, James?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Christine, I think some of the metaphors that have been used are pretty good. But I'll give you another one. It's akin to saying to the Fox, you're in charge of the hen house.

The United States works very closely with four other nations or groups. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia is part of the five eyes.

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: Those are the countries. Those are the groups that we would work closely with and do something like a cybersecurity task force. To do that with Putin, I recognized reaching out. I recognize President Obama did it with Cuba and Iran. I recognize attempts to forge a relationship.

But I think it's insanity to think that we will actually try to do something with Putin who all the folks in the intelligence agency that have talked to agreed unequivocally, that it was Russia that meddled in our election.

BRIGGS: And Eugene, giving that admission. Was this a huge win, the sit down between Putin and Trump? Should Moscow feel fantastic about everything that came out of the meeting?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I would think so. It's not only a huge win. It's another win. If you look at how the Trump administration responded to American Intelligence agencies regarding what they've said about Russia, it's made Russia looks more favorable across the board. Not the opposite.

And I think they would come out of this meeting thinking that maybe Trump is not going to press us as hard as his intelligence agencies say he should.

ROMANS: I will say that the U.N. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, she did say that, you know, look we should sit down and talk to Russia. We should tell them this is not allowed. And so she sort of defended the idea of some sort of a cybersecurity unit just so the U.S. could get its perspective across --


ROMANS: -- to the Russians. Let's talk about the other story. The story about Don Jr. and other top members of the Trump team meeting with a Russian attorney during the election. They have been promised -- they've been promised dirt I guess on the Clinton campaign.

How damaging is this in your view, James Gagliano, this was the nominee and people around the nominee who were meeting with the Russian national about either up or research. I mean there's everyone does the opposite, right? You're up a research or something more unseemly?

GAGLIANO: A couple of things to unpack here, Christine. And first of all, you're right. The appearance of this, the appearance of impropriety it is unseemly. But I went back and looked at this from the legal perspective.

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: And on the federal side, I could find nothing in the compulsory reporting requirements. Some states in the United States have policies -- I think Texas is one. Ohio's another. If you witness a felony or if there's a felony committed in your presence and somebody, you know, gets grievous bodily harm, you are compelled and again, a misdemeanor if you don't -- to report that.

Don Jr., we also have to understand, is not an employee of the White House. He's not subject to the same disclosure requirements to say, Jared Kushner is. Somebody that's in the White House and part of the staff. He never filled that in SF-86. The unseemly nature is the changing, evolving story.

BRIGGS: Right. And on Saturday Don Jr. said that essentially they took this meeting and it was about Russian adoption. But he says he didn't know the name of the lawyer. Here is the son of the nominee, a surrogate and adviser, saying he didn't know the name of a lawyer that was coming to Trump Tower to talk about Russian adoption, which is hard enough to believe.

Then on Sunday, Eugene, he acknowledges that this meeting was taken in the context of getting information about the Clinton campaign. What does that evolution from Don Jr. say about adding smoke, about the allegations of collusion?

SCOTT: I think it's clear that we don't have all of the facts out yet. And I think what it revealed is that Don Jr. didn't completely know what was going on initially or at least that's what he's saying. And the reason why that's a problem is you would think that vetting would happen before you take this type of meeting at Trump Tower during a campaign months after there have been concerns about interference in the election from Russia, right?

And so, the reality is -- I think feeds the narrative that this campaign was run by quite frankly amateurs who perhaps were not really aware of how you go about doing something like this.

ROMANS: It shows. I mean a campaign willing to accept the Russian help. But you're right about it. Remember those days the revolving door at Trump Tower? The people coming in and out? Professional wrestlers and --

BRIGGS: Yes. Kanye West.

ROMANS: You know exactly. I mean, it was kind of a chaotic time. But this was the nominee. And Don Jr. was on television repeatedly calling anybody who said there was a Russian influence, you know, crazy.

[05:10:00] BRIGGS: He does say in his statement he doesn't admit that he knows this was a Russian lawyer.

ROMANS: Right, right.

BRIGGS: He didn't know the name.

SCOTTS: Who takes a meeting at campaign headquarters with someone whose name you don't know and brings in Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort? That just doesn't seem wise.

BRIGGS: Naivete or something more?

GAGLIANO: And don't you have to suspend disbelief Dave to think that isn't a conversation he would have had with his father? I mean as you said, the person comes to Trump Tower and has a meeting fairly high- level meeting like that and he's part of the transition team and he doesn't talk to his father about it? I just find that hard to believe.

BRIGGS: Right. And Paul Manafort who was the campaign chairman at that point was in the meeting as was Jared Kushner. James and Eugene we'll see you guys in about 20 minutes.

ROMANS: Yes, thanks guys.

BRIGGS: Thank you.

ROMANS: Right the Trump administration still wants to pass tax reform this year. And the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, says a plan is on its way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Our plan is to have a full- blown release of the plan in the beginning of September with being able to vote and getting this passed before the end of the year.


ROMANS: Virtually no one thinks it's going to be easy. You know most experts say full reform in 2017 will be a tough slog. But Mnuchin says the administration wants the full package. Corporate tax cuts, simpler tax brackets for individuals, and a focus on mid income tax cuts.

However, analyst say the current plan mostly benefits wealthy Americans. Now Mnuchin counter with this. He says eliminating deductions keeps the rich from getting a huge tax cut.


MNUCHIN: We'll reduce and eliminate almost every single deduction. So that means that people who were in the high tax states will have no tax reduction.


ROMANS: Right now Americans can write off high local taxes in states like New York and Connecticut and California. But the White House proposal discards all tax deductions except for mortgage interest and charity. The idea is to offset the revenue lost to those cuts.

However, it's not just the wealthy that benefit from tax deductions. The foundation found that it helps the majority of the middle-class filers, as well. This is why tax reform is not easy.

BRIGGS: It's not.

ROMANS: It is not.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Senate Republicans back on Capitol Hill today. Are they any closer to a health care plan? Next, we'll tell you why one leading Republican says the GOP should be "Ashamed of not passing health legislation."


[05:16:27] ROMANS: Senate Republicans return from the holiday recess this morning, and they're ready to get back to work on health care reform. 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 of 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 health 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 health care. Listen here to Senators Ted Cruz and John McCain on the prospects for still getting a deal done.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If you shout 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. 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 can't believe we can get it done. I think there's an agreement. My objective for last six months, helping lead the working group on health care, 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: The President Trump sounding like 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."

[05:18:02] BRIGGS: Long road ahead.

All right. The All-Star break is here in basketball -- baseball, excuse me. Getting ready for tonight's home run derby. Can anyone outslug Yankees rookie Aaron Judge? Coy Wire has more in this morning "Bleacher Report.


[05:22:42] BRIGGS: All right, Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities kick off tonight with the old home run derby. And Miami, all eyes on the two favorites -- Yankees' Aaron Judge and hometown boy Giancarlo Stanton.

ROMANS: All right. Coy Wire has more in this morning "Bleacher Report." Good Morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Tonight's home run derby is all set up in Southeast to be one of most thrilling ever.

Yankees rookie phenom Aaron Judge is taking the league by storm this season, leading the Majors with 30 home runs. He's an absolute monster, 6'7", 282 pounds. He's bigger than most NFL players. This guy could be on his way to being the next face of baseball, playing on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights in New York.

His batting practices before games have turned into a show in and of themselves. Who's his competition? Marlins Slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Judge, they could be doppelgangers at 6'6", 245 pound he's a little bit smaller, but he's the reigning derby champion and he'll be looking to put on a show in front of his home crowd in Miami.

A cyclist is fortunate to be alive after an horrific crash in the Tour de France. Richie Porte one of the heavy favorites to win hospitalized after he lost control on a wet and dicey downhill stretch. Slamming into a stoney bank. He suffered a fractured pelvis and collarbone. Some riders had shown concern about the perceived dangers of that descent before the race. The other rider in the crash, Dan Martin, said, "The Tour organizers got exactly what they wanted."

Steve Winfree is a big baseball fan who's been fighting kidney disease for 14 years. And he loves collecting baseball cards with his wife, Heather. Well, Heather secretly made a special baseball card with his face on it, slipped it in a pack, and captured the moment he learned a kidney donor match had been found.


STEVE WINFREE, FIGHTING KIDNEY DISEASE FOR !$ YEARS: His wife Heather thinks he is a great catch, so she decided to go to bat for him. Now Steve will be a rookie recipient at Vanderbilt Transplant Center,

HEATHER WINFREE, WIFE OF STEVE WINFREE: I sign up today (INAUDIBLE). And you could be have a new kidney. Fighting (ph) into this month.


WIRE: Christine and Dave, it may have difficult to hear but Heather was the donor match for Steve. She found out earlier that day in the transplant could happen as soon the end of the month.

[05:25:09] BRIGGS: Coy got it both with that one.

WIRE: That makes you easy. Wow.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A year ago my mom had a liver transplant. And I have to tell you the families who donate organs of their loves one, the families who give, you know, a healthy kidney to someone and the families who lose a love and give organs, there are the heroes, heroes. I got to tell you it just amazing good luck to them. It'll be a long run but good for them.

BRIGGS: Made their day better Coy, thank you.


BRIGGS: All right, up next President Trump ceded meeting he meet with the Russian with ties to the Kremlin. Does this meeting rise to the level collusion or simply naive to take. We'll discuss next.


ROMANS: President Trump son Donald Trump Jr. now admitting he met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin in effort to help the Trump campaign.

[05:30:06] Probably (ph) get admission now raising a big question. Is this evidence of Mnuchin?

BRIGGS: And President Trump now appearing to fallback (ph) his agreement with Russia to create --