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Iraq's PM Declares Mosul 'Liberated' from ISIS; NYT: Trump Jr. Met Russian for Dirt on Clinton. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WEISS: They still have a large purchase in Syria in the Euphrates River Valley, and I don't even mean Raqqah, which is also encircled by pro-U.S. proxy forces, but also in the desert bad lands of al-Anbar province.

[07:00:28] This is what I call ISIS's briar patch country. This is the place to which they repair when they are looking to recalibrate and regroup and, you know, plot their grand return.

Now the question is, will Iraqi politics cohere to such an extent that ISIS cannot come back? That I have much less confidence in than I do, you know, this victory.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously, the work is continuing. Gentlemen, thank you. So sorry to cut you short. We're out of time. We've had a lot of news this morning. We want to thank our international viewers, also, for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It was a nothing meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump Jr. met a Russian lawyer who claims she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The woman in question wasn't just anybody off the street. She was closely tied to the Kremlin.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our election.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The idea that we can work in a cyber-security group is a dangerously naive view to take of Russian intentions.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like any other strategic alliance.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., changing his story about his meeting last June with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. Trump Jr. had started off saying he never met with anybody like that. Then he said, "Yes, I met with someone like that, but it was about nothing to do with the campaign."

And now he admits that he sat down with someone who had offered information to hurt Hillary Clinton. How big a deal is this? What does it say about the Trump campaign's willingness to accept help from the Russians? Those are the questions.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, President Trump backtracking on his push for a cyber-security unit with Russia after facing pierce bipartisan criticism for proposing that both countries cooperate to prevent election interference. All of this coming after the president tweeted it is time to move forward on Russia. So we have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is live at the White House. Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

Well, news of a potential meeting, this meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian national during the campaign, as first reported by "The New York Times," raising new questions now about Trump associates, the Trump campaign and its link to Russian officials, really going to the heart of the question behind those federal investigations: whether or not there was collusion. Also a focus this morning on the changing explanation that Donald Trump, Jr., gave about why that meeting took place in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): "The New York Times" reporting that "Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton" before agreeing to meet with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin at Trump Tower on June 9, two weeks before his father became the Republican nominee.

Trump Jr. admitting in a statement that "potentially helpful information" was a pretext for the meeting, but insisting that nothing meaningful was provided, noting, "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."

The president's son insisting that his father knew nothing about the meeting, a statement reiterated by Trump's legal team. PRIEBUS: It was a nothing meeting.

MALVEAUX: In Donald Jr.'s initial statement, released Saturday, he gave a different explanation for the meeting, explaining that they primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children and making no mention of Hillary Clinton. Both statements noting that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort were also in attendance.

SCHIFF: I think we're going to want to question everyone that was at that meeting about what was discussed.

MALVEAUX: This as President Trump is facing scrutiny over his response to Russia's election hacks after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump walking back a tweet about forming an impenetrable cyber-security unit with Russia to guard against the threat.

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

MALVEAUX: Facing backlash, President Trump reversing course 12 hours later, tweeting, "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a cyber-security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't. But a ceasefire can and did."

[07:05:10] GRAHAM: It's not the dumbest idea I've ever heard, but it's pretty close.

MALVEAUX: President Trump also insisting Sunday that he'd "strongly pressed President Putin" about Russian meddling during Friday's meeting, but not indicating if he accepted Putin's vehement denial, saying only, "I've already given my opinion."

TRUMP: I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows.

MALVEAUX: This after the Russian foreign minister said Friday that President Trump heard and accepts Putin's denial, a claim the president's aides denied on Sunday after initially declining to answer questions about the matter during a gaggle aboard Air Force One.

PRIEBUS: The president absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And President Trump declaring just yesterday now is the time to move forward to work constructively with Russia. But that, of course, might be difficult. Lawmakers and Congress, they are finalizing a bill that would slap additional sanctions on Russia because of its meddling in the election. Administration officials are quite frustrated by this, because they feel that President Trump needs more flexibility to negotiate with President Putin -- Alisyn, Chris.

CAMEROTA: All right, Suzanne, thank you for all that reporting.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss all this. We have CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein; CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd; and associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard. Great to have all of us figure out all these conflicting stories and what happened here.

First things first, Phil Mudd, if a known Russian lawyer with Kremlin and Putin ties were coming to the U.S. to meet with a campaign, is that something that the FBI and CIA would know about, would catch wind of, or can these things sort of happen secretly?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think they would necessarily know about that. That would depend, in part, on whether that person has a direct relationship with the Russian government. I think, though, looking in retrospect, this starts to get more and more interesting if you're a federal investigator a year after the event.

Let's collate a few items here, Alisyn. We have this breaking news. We also have the reporting that Jeff Sessions' story about how many times he met with Russians changed. We had General Flynn in January so embarrassed about his relationship with Russians that his story changed. We're seeing less than 5 percent of this.

That the FBI is gathering massive quantities of financial information, e-mail and phone information. If you match that with what we've seen, the 5 percent with what they're collecting, you can start to get a picture of why this meeting last summer starts to look more and more interesting. Somebody is not telling the truth here, and I suspect they're going to figure it out.

CUOMO: A.B., you hear that? That's the silence of people saying there's nothing to any of these questions that the investigators are looking at this morning, because this is exactly one of their major concerns. Not that the Trump campaign was seeking out, was you know, working with Russians, but that the Russians were looking for opportunities.

The big question here, though, circles around Donald Trump Jr.'s changing statements. Again, months ago when he was asked, did you ever meet with anybody. Were there any Russians who came to you? No, no, no.

Then he says, "Yes, I had a meeting, but it was about adoptions and stuff, nothing to do with the campaign."

Then he says that he willingly sat down with someone who offered up information about the Russians and Hillary Clinton. The impact of the changing stories?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR/COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, I think you're talking exactly about what's of consequence here. The fact is the Trump campaign associates now, including the son-in-law and a son all have had these meetings with Russians, never a bunch of Greeks, but are always Russians. And then they forget them. They forget to put them on government forms. They forget what happened at the meeting, how many times they had meetings.

And in the case of Don Jr. really has gone from -- I mean, it's just beyond questionable that he goes from denial to it was about the Magnitsky Act and adoption, you know, really important issue, obviously, to Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, who came along for the meeting.

And then it becomes -- you know, he reveals that, actually, he was enticed into the meeting because there would be damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Also of consequence is the president's statement, sort of distancing himself. Mark Corallo's statement says that the president didn't know about it, never attended the meeting.

But this is becoming really more -- more than smoke and, obviously, is something that we don't know what the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller knows beyond this, but obviously, he's amassing -- his investigation seems to be growing, not shrinking. He's hiring more personnel.

[07:10:07] And this is the kind of thing that really calls into question the question of collusion, whether or not it was a direct sort of active collusion is really not what people have suspected all along, is that people like Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and perhaps others in the campaign might have become unwitting sort of dupes to the Russians.

CUOMO: Which make no sense until the evolution of the understanding of this meeting. That was always something that people questioned. How would you not know? This is something, though it is still a legitimate question. What's the chance that you would sit down and take a meeting with somebody and have no idea who they are, except that they have this loaded suggestion?

CAMEROTA: Well, that's more likely, I think, that you might -- if you think somebody has good oppo research, Ron, you might sit down and talk to them, but why would you bring the campaign chairman and the president's advisor, Jared Kushner, and son-in-law, why bring those two with you if this is just some sort of fishing expedition and you don't know what's coming?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And under the version, the latest version, all of them show up for a meeting where they don't know who is. But I mean, eventually everyone involved, probably in multiple venues, is going to have to question -- answer questions under oath about what happened and what they knew and what they discussed.

So whatever we have now, you know, as Phil said, is just the beginning, I think, of the story. Look, there are several kind of thresholds here. The first is, as everyone has said, we have a repeated pattern of meetings with Russians that are conveniently forgotten by a wide array of people associated with the campaign and the administration, from the attorney general to the first national security adviser to the president's son and son-in-law. I mean, it just goes on and on.

Second, the threshold is -- the second threshold is you sit down in a meeting with someone who is a lawyer from Russia, who promises you information, you know, that's disadvantageous to the other campaign; and you don't get up out of the room. You stay there, and you don't tell anybody that there are Russians proffering this kind of information.

And of course, then you go on and you have, of course, as a candidate, President Trump, you know, basically asking the Russians to find in a public setting, you know, Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

All of this -- what all of this says to me, and I agree very much with A.B. that this is an investigation that is getting bigger, not smaller. This questions are not going away. And there will be, you know, people are going to have to answer questions about all of this under oath, and that may look very different than a statement that he released on Saturday and on Sunday to "The New York Times." The idea that everyone shows up for a meeting, and no one knows who they're meeting with, the very top echelon of the campaign, we'll see if that explanation sustains itself through, you know, an extended investigation.

CUOMO: Do we have the excerpt of what Don Jr. had said publicly about what meetings he had had and not had? Do we have that?

All right, good. No, this is about this particular meeting, which is where Jared -- which is where Donald Trump, Jr. says it was a short meeting. It was about adoption. And then he amended that statement and said, yes, I sat down with this person, because they were supposed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that wound up to not really be the case. I'm saying earlier, OK, in an interview with "The Times" in March, OK, he denied participating in any campaign-related meetings with Russian nationals.

"Did I meet with people that were Russian? I'm sure. I'm sure I did," he said. "But none that were set up." OK? Well, now he just proved that to be untrue. None that I can think of at the moment and certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way."

And he would also say, "Did I meet with any Russians about anything? No, never."

OK, so Phil Mudd, what are your questions, if you sit down with these guys, with your FBI hat on, in light of the, "No, I never did it. OK, I did it, but it was about adoptions. It was nothing to do with the campaign. I had no idea who it was. To the, oh, yes, I sat down because she supposedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton"?

MUDD: Well, first of all, I have to stop laughing when I go into the conversation. Here is my question, and this is why the investigation is so complicated. I'm sure people might ask, "Why is this going to take months or even years?"

If you multiply these statements changing over time by dozens of people, that's one aspect of the investigation. You go into the initial conversation and you get one story. You realize after dozens more interviews that that story changes. Different people say different things about the same meeting. You go re-interview that person six months later, they start to say something different. The story evolves.

Match that, Chris, with the information you're collecting on financial transfers. I'm going to assume people tell different stories about -- stories about why they got money from the Russians or whoever else, as well. You start to match that with phone and e-mail information. And you can start to see why it takes so long for this to come together. I'm looking at this saying, if we're getting the smoke that's changing over time from just a couple of interviews with newspapers from these people, think of what the FBI is dealing with when they're looking at mounds of data and dozens of interviews. It's tough.

[07:15:08] CAMEROTA: And A.B., I mean, look, I know that it's hard for lots of people to follow all the different Russian threads. There are many. And to be honest, there is not one sort of tie that binds everything yet. I mean, obviously, that's what Robert Mueller is looking into. We'll see if that ever happens, you know, the so-called smoking gun, if that ever happens.

But there is also policy connected to this. I mean, Congress is wrestling with Russian sanctions right now. So at the same time that, you know, President Trump is making nice with Putin or hatching some cyber-security deal with him, the same time...

CUOMO: Or not.

CAMEROTA: Or not. At the same time, his advisers are saying we never met with anybody. It was certainly nothing of significance. Congress is trying to impose sanctions on Russia.

STODDARD: Yes. This is really why Senator Lindsey Graham said yesterday that this whole -- this whole posture towards Russia, Trump's and towards Putin's, threatening, you know, the success of his presidency because of all this other policy.

So we've seen the sanctions bill go through the Senate. It was about 97-2. Now it's stuck in the House, and there are sort of different versions of why. There's going to be a lot of pressure on congressional Republicans to push through that, despite the objections from the White House. You see a bipartisan group of senators pressuring the White House to change their decision, to give those two compounds back in New York and Maryland to the Russians that were forced to be evacuated in response to Russian interference in the election by President Obama before he left.

So they're saying, if you give -- give these compounds back and invite these Russian officials back in, you're really giving in. So there's a lot of pressure when you lost pressure from the Congress. Since the executive branch refuses to deal with this issue of interference and refuses to mitigate the threat we now face. As they perfect their active measures for the next election, there's going to be a lot of pressure on these other policy issues on sanctions, on those compounds, et cetera, from congressional Republicans, because they know the administration refuses to act.

CUOMO: And also, important to note here, Ron Brownstein, two things. One, all brought in self-inflicted. OK? You have Don Jr. He took this meeting. He's the one who's running around with his -- you know, his fake news campaign all the time. And now it looks like, wow, doth protest too much, given these obviously changed statements and a huge credibility issue for him.

And on the other front, you have what happened with the Putin-Trump meeting. The day before the president once again questions the reality about whether or not Russia hacked. Then he goes into this meeting and comes out of it with people saying, "He was really direct. He was in there with it, Putin, and he asked him once, twice, maybe three times about this, and he was really strong."

He comes out of the meeting and proposes working with Russia on cyber- security and says it is time to move on, and then tweets something that is almost impossible to understand which is, you know, yes, we talked about it, but I know it's not possible. I know it can never happen. What is that all about? Again, self-imposed, but what's going on there?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, there's erratic quality to the policy making and the decision making of the administration where words that, you know, mean something on Tuesday don't mean anything on Wednesday.

I always felt that there was -- all weekend I have felt that there was less to the difference and the accounts of the Putin-Trump meeting than met the eye.

You know the Russians say that President Putin offered his denial, and the president accepted the U.S. version is that they agreed to disagree. They both lead you to the same place, which is both President Putin and President Trump saying, "We need to move past this. We need to move it behind us, as opposed to the president saying to President Putin, "Look, we know what you did. I don't care what you said. We know what you did. There are going to be consequences for it, and here are the further consequences if you ever do it again."

I mean, they're both kind of ending up in the same place with just saying, "Whatever happened, we have to get past it." I think most people would agree that the way you change the future behavior, if you have any hope of changing the future behavior of someone like Putin, it is by imposing consequences for what they did in the past. And that is clearly not the direction that President Trump wants to head in this relationship.

CAMEROTA: Ron, A.B., Phil, thank you all very much.

CUOMO: All right. So let's talk about something else that the president has talked about this morning, which actually matters to all of you, which is health care.

We have Republican Congressman Mo Brooks joining us right now from Alabama.

Sir, it is good to see you. People on this show remember you very well from your poise and your profound emotion on the morning of that horrible shooting in Alexandria. As you know, we've been following how the whip, Scalise, is doing. We know he was back in the hospital. We know he's fighting.

I know that "how are you doing" has become a loaded question for you. But give our viewers some peace of mind. How are you doing?

[07:20:05] REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I'm doing fairly well, considering the circumstances we all went through. And it's good to be on your show, Chris and Alisyn. Thank you for the invitation. And I look forward to focusing on public policy issues. What's happened has happened. Our prayers are with Steve Scalise and his family, and we hope for a speedy recovery.

CUOMO: You were strong then. You're strong now and equally committed to your work for the people. So let's get after it. The president tweeted this morning, "I can't imagine Congress would dare leave Washington without a beautiful new health care bill fully approved and ready to go." Do you think that's possible?

BROOKS: It's possible that the Senate will do its job, do something on health care and send it to the House of Representatives, where we would either reject it and move to a conference committee or accept it.

But the indications are right now that the Senate is mightily struggling to come up with a plan to properly deal with the health care issue that is in front of us.

CUOMO: If the CBO score comes out and once again shows that what's being seen as tax savings will wind up leaving millions of people off the Medicaid roles at some point, whether it's now, five years or seven years, do you think that that is a death sentence for this bill?

BROOKS: Well, it is with some senators and not with others. We always have to keep in mind our financial ability to pay for things. And there are a lot of struggling American families out there who are working for a living who are otherwise self-sufficient, who are right on the edge of having to go on welfare because of all the tax burdens that they're facing.

And I'm like everybody else. I would love for every American to have a perfect health care system where we can deliver perfect care every time someone is ill, but we don't have enough money. And we're already risking an insolvency and bankruptcy of a nation that it took over two centuries of our ancestors to sacrifice the bill.

So we have to take into account our financial limitations and do the best we can. With Medicaid, by way of example, we're already forcefully taking $350 billion a year, more than that, from hard- working American families to help those who are not able to or, for whatever reason, don't pay for their health care.

Now, the question is, what is -- what are our limitations? How much more can we do without having a tragic adverse effect on, say, the goose the=at lays the golden egg.

CUOMO: Congressman, so that policy argument that you're making winds up being put into conflict with the reality of where this money that's being saved will go. People will say, "Look, you're so concerned about how much you can afford." That's one thing. But you're going to give it in a tax cut to the wealthy.

So if you really care about those middle-class families that are struggling and the poor who need Medicaid, you shouldn't be given a tax break to the wealthy.

BROOKS: I understand the argument you make, but at the same time understand that those folks who had the money are the ones that create the jobs that employ us. So sure, we can take money from the people who have been successful in America, but every time we do so, they have less money to invest.

And in a free enterprise economy, it's the wealth that creates the businesses that creates the jobs for our blue-collar and middle-class workforce. So again, it's all interrelated, and it's a tough balance to achieve as evidenced by the Senate having such a difficult time.

CUOMO: But where you are down there in Alabama, there's big Medicaid need down there. In no way do I presume to tell you about your own constituency. You are famed for your understanding of it. You know people need the Medicaid money down there. You know without expansion and without more money, less people will be covered. What do you say to them?

BROOKS: Well, you're right. There are those people that are in that category, but there's also another set of people who have seen their health insurance rates triple, triple up 223 percent over the last four years on the individual markets and exchanges.

And the people who are having to pay those bills, they're screaming to high heaven, because they can't afford it. It means that they don't have the money, by way of example, to send their kids to college, or they don't have the money, by way of example, to put the kind of food that they need to be able to put on their tables or to pay for the housing that they need for their families.

So again, all this is interrelated. And there are limitations on how much we can afford. And I'm hopeful that we will be able to help those struggling American families that are doing it the right way, that have taken advantage of America, that have those jobs which right now they see these premiums skyrocketing; and they're at a loss of what to do. So there is no easy solution. There needs to be a proper balance, and that's what we're all trying to focus on and work towards.

CUOMO: Another problem with this bill is, according to the CBO score and the experts that we've had on to analyze its implications, you do have this group within the individual marketplace which you could argue, on just a raw human level, are much fewer than the millions of people who will be affected by the Medicaid cuts.

But this bill, even if that is the group you want to target, doesn't make it better for them any time soon, and the reductions in rates even over time aren't that impressive. So if you want to help that group, you're not doing enough. BROOKS: Well, that's the argument you can make. But on the other

hand, to extend that argument to where you wanted, where premiums go back to, say, 2009, pre-Obamacare years, then you'd have to dramatically cut the quality of health-care benefits for those people who, in the past, were unable to pay their own way. And so again, you've got that balance.

But let's be clear about the Senate bill that you're talking about.

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

BROOKS: I would be extraordinarily surprised, based on what I'm reading, the comments from various senators, if that's the bill that actually comes out of the Senate. So really, we're talking about a health care bill that we don't know about yet, because the Senate has not yet drafted it.

And we'll see whether Mitch McConnell and the Senate can do its job. So far they've not been able to, and they've had seven months. They were sworn in in early January, just as we were in the House. And seven months later, we -- well, six months later, we still don't have that legislation.

I'm puzzled about the impasse and why they weren't working for the two or three or four months, for example, when we were working in the House and finally got a bill out. They could have been doing the same thing in the Senate at the very same time.

CUOMO: Let's take a quick break, but I want you to handicap it for me. What do you think the chances are that something gets done this summer?

BROOKS: Well, based on the reports I'm seeing recently, I don't think that the chances are very good. But at the same time, Mitch McConnell has been able to pull a rabbit out of a hat on occasion. And perhaps he can force some kind of compromise in the United States Senate on this particular health care bill.

Time will tell. I think the big issue is what comes out of the Senate, is that good for America or bad for America, short-term and long-term.

CUOMO: Let's take a quick break. Congressman, can I indulge you to stay with us for another block to talk about other things that are on the plate for the Congress?

BROOKS: Yes, sir. If you wish.

CUOMO: Wow. We're getting lucky this morning.

All right. Up next, we'll have Congressman Mo Brooks staying with us to talk about the work of the American people. Will it get done in light of what is now breaking news about the Russia revelations? Is this just a distraction, or should it be the focus on Capitol Hill? Next.

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