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Emails: Information On Clinton "Is Part Of Russia And It's Government's Support For Mr. Trump"; Trump Statement: "My Son Is A High Quality Person"; Special Counsel Plans To Examine Donald Trump Jr. Meetings. Aired at 9-10p ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:02:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our breaking news, the president's eldest son reveals what he his father and everyone in the Trump orbit ahs denied for more than a year now. He reveals in a chain of e-mails from June of last year that he did have contact with the Russian in campaign capacity to talk about damaging information on Hillary Clinton that he believed was coming from the Kremlin. He even believed this was a Russian government attorney. All of the angles right now from Jim Sciutto, will all the moving parts, Jim Acosta, at a rather restrained White House, Manu Raju, with reaction on Capitol Hill, and Ivan Watson in Moscow. We begin with Jim Sciutto. Jim, so we know that Donald Trump Jr. received an e-mail offering compromising information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian source. How did meeting actually come together and how are all the players connected?

JIM SCIUTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a bit of a complex web. So we decide to lay it all out for you all the names involved in visual form here. So we have on one end Vladamir Putin, of course president of Russia, he is trying the Intel community, he's determined to influence the election. And on the other side we have Donald Trump Jr., of course the oldest son of President Trump, who at the time was working on behalf of his father's campaign.

Now, you have Rob Goldstone, he's a publicist, former tabloid reporter who was the one that Donald Trump Jr. e-mailed on June 3, 2016 with this offer of a meeting with this Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin. Goldstone, he and Donald Trump Jr. they go back to, well, the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia through -- I mean, Agalarov, he is the pop star, the son of a Aras Agalarov a Russian real estate tycoon. In fact, in Russia he's known of something of a Donald Trump of Russia.

Trump partnered with him to bring the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow. And it's through that Miss Universe Pageant that Goldstone met the son, and that was the origin of the relationship behind that e-mail. So they were very familiar by the time that June e-mail was sent.

So you have the prosecutor general, this is where it gets particularly interesting about the information involved here. Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika, he is a Putin appointee. He is also close with the other player in all of this, it's Natalia Veselnitskaya, she is the lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower that day as well as with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, met there.

So, you look at all the faces on the screen there. You have a connection going back to, that Miss Universe Pageant there. That's where Goldstone was familiar with Donald Trump Jr. Goldstone saying that he could introduce Donald Trump Jr. to this lawyer who we know is connected back to the Kremlin. And the lawyer of course, offering information provided by, Chaika, who is the prosecutor general in Russia. Who is, again, close to Vladamir Putin. Offering this important information which he says is damaging to Hillary Clinton. And, Goldstone saying in that e-mail part of a larger effort by the Russian government to influence the campaign to the advantage of Donald Trump.

[21:05:13] It is admittedly, Anderson, a complicated web there that's why we're putting all the faces on the screen there. But again, none of the people involved in this e-mail came out of nowhere. The lawyer connected back to this prosecutor, Goldstone, this, little known, publicist connected to Donald Trump Jr. back to through the Miss Universe Pageant, the Miss Universe Pageant provide enough connection between Donald Trump and this Russian oligarch who is connected back to Vladamir Putin. It's a complicated web, but when you get to that e-mail this is the network behind it.

COOPER: We should point out. I talked to the attorney for the, the Russian pop star and his father. And they -- the attorney denies that they're in any way connected to the Kremlin. We just want to point that out. And denies that the father had a meeting, or that either man had a meeting with the Russian prosecutor which is what Goldstone indicated in that e-mail. So jus on the record, they are publicly denying it.

We got news on the special counsel. Robert Mueller's investigation. What can you tell us about that?

SCIUTTO: That's right. My Justice Department colleagues here reporting tonight that now in light of this e-mail and this previously undisclosed meeting with this Russian lawyer, the special counsel, Robert Mueller will be investigating both that meeting and the e-mails involved. And this interesting note that the special counsel did not know about this meeting until very recently and source of it was a refilling of Jared Kushner's security clearance form known as the SF86. You'll remember the first time he filed this to get his security clearance he listed really no meetings. Then he filled again and listed some of them, but apparently he looked back at his records and discovered this other meeting, previously unreported with this Russian lawyer, resubmitted. That's the origin of how we now know about this meeting. And, that's how "The New York Times" got it. And that's now how the special prosecutor is really in charge of all this, finding out about this meeting via that refiled security clearance form. And they're not going to be looking at them.

One other point I would make, Andersen. Remember this is one meeting that we now know the function of this meeting which was from Donald Trump Jr.'s perspective to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton. There were many other meetings that took place between Trump world and Russian officials during and preceding and the months preceding the election. Those are all areas of investigation now for both the Hill investigators but also the special prosecutors.

COOPER: Jim Sciutto appreciates the update. Let's get a quick update from the White House now. Jim Acosta, the response from the president --


COOPER: -- and staff has been pretty restrained.

ACOSTA: It has been. No tossing around, the phrases, the fake news, or enemy of the people. The news is getting pretty real over here tonight, Anderson. The president just tweeted within the last hour, that he loves his son. And that he is a great person who loves his country. That is -- was essentially a tweet that the president was putting out there to direct people to Donald Trump Jr.'s appearance on Fox News, later on this evening.

But, Anderson, if you were in the briefing room earlier today as I was, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, was talking to reporters off camera. It was a very restrained response and a pretty not so robust defense of the president's son. All she essentially did was read the president's statement earlier today that the president feels that his son has handled these e-mails in a transparent fashion, that's despite the fact that he changed the story a number of times on this. And when asked whether or not members of the president's team might be brought up on charges of treason or perjury, she said that was ridiculous.

COOPER: Donald Trump Jr., some of the comments he makes on Fox News have been released.

ACOSTA: That's right. And not really (INAUDIBLE) he can try in this interview with Sean Hannity, Anderson, but he does say at one point that he wished he had done things a little differently. Here's more of what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Things are going a million miles an hour again. And, hey, wait a minute. I heard about all these things but maybe this is something. I should hear them out. This was, again, just basic information that was going to be possibly there, I didn't know these guys really enough to understand that if this talent manager from Miss Universe had this kind of thing so, I wanted to hear him out.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you tell your father anything about this?

TRUMP JR.: No, it was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell. I mean I wouldn't have remembered it until, you start scouring through the stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes which was a shame.


ACOSTA: Now, what's interesting, Anderson over here at the White House. Tomorrow, the president is going to have another one of these schedules where he's going to be behind closed doors. We're not going to see the president talking in front of the cameras. The only time we'll see the president make his way in front of the cameras is when he departs the White House for this trip to Paris. He's scheduled to meet with the president of France later on this week.

Anderson, this is the third day in a row, that the president has been behind closed doors with no public event scheduled with him in front of the cameras. I talked to a White House official about this earlier this evening. They said no they're not wagon circling around here. This was essentially a few days so the president and his team to reboot after that foreign trip last week.

[21:10:14] But, Anderson, make no mistake, you know, covering the White House for a number of years now, it is highly unusual during the week with really no holidays going on to see the president and his team, president of United States and his team with no public events on the schedule for three days in a row.


ACOSTA: It does not get more unusual than that, from a public event standpoint.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

The view from Capitol Hill now, we're six months into the administration. Lawmakers would like to be busy with other things or instead busy with this. Some are investigating it. Others are reacting to it. Some are doing their best to avoid the subject entirely. And any way you look at it, it is quite a mix.

CNN's Manu Raju has laid developments, including from some of the congressional investigators. So you've been on the Hill, Manu, today. What's the reaction from Republican lawmakers?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, they're all over the place, Anderson. There are some who are really frustrated that this drip, drip, drip of information continues to undercut the president's own agenda. People like Trey Gowdy at South California raised that concern as well as James Lankford of Oklahoma said that this is actually overwhelming, what the White House is trying to do.

Others, like the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying that this is something that he -- that the investigators need to look at. And then there are others that are saying that they need more information, including Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, saying that we needed to understand why and how this Russian lawyer got in the United States in fact writing a letter to Senior Trump administration officials to get more information.

But then there are others who are raising serious concerns about this controversy. Here is a mixed of reactions from the Hill today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Any time you are in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no. So, I don't know what Mr. Trump Jr.'s version of the facts are, definitely he has to testify. That e-mail was disturbing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Other shoes will drop before this thing is over. I've said that for weeks.

RAJU: How damming does this look?

MCCAIN: I have to see what it's all about.

RAJU: Do you have any -- personally have any concerns with the fact that the president's son met with a Russian lawyer in an effort to get dirt on the Clinton campaign after being told that the Russian government want to help his father's campaign?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I'm sure that Senator Burr and Senator Warner and their committee will take a look at all aspects of the Russian investigation.


RAJU: So that was the Senate majority leader, Anderson, punting on the question. Not saying he has any personal concerns. But Democrats taking a much tougher line including the former runningmate to Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, saying that this could be potential treasonous violation, something that he believed that the special counsel needs to look at into the possibility that treason may have been committed. So other Democrat is not going that far including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but also raising significant concerns and calling for Donald Trump Jr. to testify in public session, Anderson.

COOPER: Right. I mean, I guess that's the next question is, how does new information we learned today affect the on going Russian investigations?

RAJU: Well, the House and Senate Intelligence Committee, the top Democrats on those respective panels are calling for Don Jr. to testify in, and before their committee, as well as everybody else who is involved in setting up that meeting. They're asking for records, and the like in Adam Schiff and Mark Warner, the two Democrats on those panels.

But the chairmen of those committees have not been as forceful. Mike Conley, who is leading the House investigation and the Russia side has not made any public comments on this, declining to comment. Earlier today, Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee approached him today. He said he did not want to comment on Donald Trump Jr. because he could be potential witness.

But I asked him, does this give you any clear indication that there could be collusion here? He said, I am not going to go there, because we are "very early in this investigation". So a sign, Anderson, there's a lot more that Capitol Hill wants to dig into in light of these revelations, Anderson.

COOPER: Manu Raju, I appreciate it. Long way to go. Thanks.

There's a chance of a Cold War back when traditional means of communicating between Washington and Moscow was a pair of red phones and a grim-faced Soviet ambassador. The whole notion of meetings set up by concert promoters, which tied the pop stars and beauty pageants and all the rest of it is a little odd. So it's tossing to a reporter in Moscow for reaction to it all. CNN's Ivan Watson is there for us tonight.

I mean so many players in this, many of them Russian nationals. What can you tell us about some of the people involved?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATION CORRESPONDENT: It's such an eclectic cast of characters, Anderson. You've got the Russian lawyer, the British music promoter, you've got a pop star, and his dad, and Azerbaijan, the billionaire real state developer. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya was known to be lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, which is this U.S. legislation that punishes Russians implicated in corruption or human rights abuses with sanction, with asset seizures. She'd been shopping around a documentary that was aimed at undermining that piece of legislation and had defended a firm that had its assets seized in connection with that.

[21:15:09] Now the British music promoter and his name is Rod Goldstone, he says he runs his own P.R company, Oui 2 Entertainment, and he had also been a judge on Miss USA pageants, beauty pageants. He also says that his client is this pop star who goes by his first name Emin, his last name is Agalarov, and he worked with Donald Trump on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant here in Moscow and he boasts on his website that he is the only person who have gotten Trump to appear in a music video, which happened in 2013, a year later Trump appeared in a Happy Birthday video on his 35th birthday.

Now the father is Aras Agalarov and he is the president of this company called Crocus Group, they own Nobu Restaurants here in Russia, they own shopping malls, and they're building stadiums for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

It's an eclectic mixed, but it reveals something about the unique world that Trump had moved in that involves real estate business internationally, entertainments, and then this move into politics that has ended in such a dramatic controversy now, Anderson.

COOPER: Is this getting a lot of coverage in Moscow? I mean is this viewed as a big deal?

WATSON: We haven't seen a huge explosion of response here, not like in the U.S. The Kremlin has the not commented on this yet. And it is more kind of a reaction right now that we are seeing to the Summit, the meeting that took place just last Friday, the historic meeting between President Trump and Putin in Germany. I mean remember, that was just last Friday, their first face-to-face meeting. And there's still reaction to the fact that one of the three basic agreements that these two presidents reached, that was for setting up the cybersecurity working group has essentially fallen apart.

We have one newspaper here, Kommersant, saying we can't trust Trump's tweets anymore. The Kremlin has been a little bit more protective of Trump with a Kremlin spokesman saying, hey, we believe we can still work with him. But we're also hearing from Russian officials that they're threatening to finally respond to those sanctions that the Obama administration put out at the end of December, amid charges of meddling in the U.S. election.

When the Obama administration seized two Russian diplomatic compounds and expelled 35 Russian diplomats, we're starting to hear murmurs again that the Russians may finally run out of patience and respond in kind, Anderson.

COOPER: Ivan Watson from Moscow. Ivan, thanks very much.

Coming up next, perspective from someone who's briefed many presidents in both parties, and some of the deepest secrets this country has, Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, there was a thing or two about Russian spying, speaks out when we continue.


[21:21:59] COOPER: When Donald Trump Jr. released his e-mails, he gave the world a window into a moment, not just a political maneuvering but also international intrigue. Just how much of it showed up on the radar of various U.S. intelligence agencies? If any of it did at all, we don't know. However, it's good to get some perspective from someone who has deep knowledge of how the intelligence being worse in this country and Russia, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, former Director of both the CIA and the NSA.

General, the e-mails released today, for you, how much do they intensify the questions about what exactly went on between the Trump campaign and Russian government?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, my lesson learned from the e-mails and put aside what may or may not have happened, whether any information was transmitted or not, there was a clear sign in the e-mail, Anderson, that the Trump campaign welcomed assistance, cooperation, collusion, however you want to describe it, welcomed assistance from the Russian government to help them defeat Hillary Clinton for president. And that's a nontrivial event.

Look, I'm not a lawyer. I'm not going to claim it's illegal, certainly not treasonous. But it does display something the administration itself has denied throughout its entire existence.

COOPER: It's also interesting because a lot of Trump surrogates have been making the argument, and Donald Trump Jr. in fact made this argument before, you know, today's release of the e-mails, that it's just standard operating procedure. This happens in all campaigns. People look for opposition research and they have meetings with all sorts of people.

Seems what's different about from the e-mails today is that whether or not she actually was from the Russian government, this lawyer, Donald Trump Jr. met with her with the assumption she was a Russian government attorney and that this information came from the Russian government.

HAYDEN: Right. And that's an important point. I do think there are distinctions between talking to the New Zealanders or Australians about something. And doing this kind of activity, with a government that the American Intelligence community was beginning to evolve the story of how much they were getting involved inside the United States election. But again, Anderson, I repeat, put that aside. Let me just admit it for purposes of argument that that's innocent. That's normal or that's just politics.

What we've got is the campaign with a categorical denial, the administration, with a categorical denial. Any such meetings ever took place. And that's concerning to me, not just for the past, but for the present and the future. I mean the administration makes these, really, absolutist claims. And it doesn't seem as if it has done its home work to make sure they're on solid ground. That's bad politics, but it's really bad policy.

COOPER: I talked to a former CI officer, who focus on Russia, Steve Hall, earlier today, and one of the things he said was that, Russia, it's possible, I mean that their modus operandi, it's not uncommon for them to use a third-party rather than having a Russian diplomat or government official actually meeting in this case with Donald Trump Jr. and it's very possible that this sort of thing was a probe just to see was somebody in the Trump orbit willing or open to the idea, even if she didn't have any concrete information.

[21:25:10] HAYEN: And absolutely plausible scenario. They make use of all the tools they have. They have far more control over their citizens than we have over ours. And so that scenario that you've laid out, Anderson, I mean it's one that somebody of my background would assume the Russians were doing in terms of using all of the tools they had available to make this approach.

Keep in mind, Anderson, I mean, the American Intelligence community has concluded that this was a massive synchronized long-term effort on the part of the Russian federation to manipulate the American electoral process.

COOPER: You know, back in May when I spoke to you, you told me how concerned you were with this administration underscored that the U.S.'s prosperity and success are not guaranteed, saying a quote which I've now repeated a million times, it's like kind of passing, and you said, "I have seen how thin the veneer of civilization really is." Are you any less concerned about that now?

HAYDEN: No, I'm not. And that actually brings me home to the point that this made on me in the last 12 hours, Anderson. And that's the style of decision making that we saw in the campaign, chaotic, not particularly rules bound, not respective of protocol, or have accepted practices, not seeking out or accepting expertise. But that that kind of decision making that this incident reveals about the campaign, I fear, we're still seeing too much of that within the administration.

I have often said that the pass/fail effort from my point of view is whether or not those wonderful people that President Trump has chosen for those senior positions and a fairly well-functioning American government can break through to the circle of family and friends around President Trump who's accustomed to running a family business, not an extended government. And this incident reveals the kinds of things I fear we're still seeing elements of and how we are being governed today.

COOPER: One of the things that the president said today was that he praised his sons what he called transparency. A lot of people obviously have taken issue with the idea that Donald Trump Jr. is being transparent.

I mean you're a student of human behavior. I'm sure you've read a lot of interviews with people over the years in your work. When you hear somebody giving one explanation one day and then coming out with a statement the next day which adds to it and then seems to sort of contradict what it was said the day before, and then the next day, under pressure, that their e-mails are about to be released, releases a lot of e-mail, do you find that a credible narrative from that person? At certain point, do they lose credibility in your opinion?

HAYDEN: They do. And look, Anderson, under completely different circumstances, you know, we've had stories from your network, when I'm the director of CIA, that are coming out, they're not happy stories. And, frankly, our rule of thumb is you can't win by hiding the ball. You've got to get well ahead of that wave, otherwise, it's going to crash over you, and that's no way to handle these kinds of things. And to make sure frankly, that the story ends up in a point where you think the truth resides.

COOPER: General Hayden, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: When we come back, a new story from "The New York Times", from Maggie Haberman who's been breaking so many of these stories over the last several days just out. We'll have details from her.


[21:32:23] COOPER: Little did we know when we said good night to Maggie Haberman about a half hour ago that she would turn around and get another new scoop on the Donald Trump Jr. story. New inside details up right now in "The New York Times" website along with Peter Baker. Maggie joins us now by phone. Apologies for interrupting your dinner Maggie.


COOPER: Well, I apologize to your family, at least. A fascinating details on this that on the plane ride back Air Force One from having met with Vladimir Putin, Trump aides were actually, according to your reporting, trying to work out a statement for Donald Trump Jr. to make, correct?

HABERMAN: Right. I mean, they were involved in drafting it. You had, you know, Donald Trump Jr. who basically, you know, was essentially flying solo. You now, now literally you had the president and his aides flying on Air Force One on their way back from Europe. The president, according to one person who's familiar with the account, did not, you know, craft it, that he signed off on it. He knew what was being said.

Look, you know, I think what is also really interesting here and what we have going on right now is you have, you know, something of a circular firing squad of blame developing, where you have the legal team for the president getting very frustrated with Jared Kushner. You have, you know, the president getting very frustrated with his legal team including his long time lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. I mean, one of the hallmarks of the president is that when he, you know, feels frustrated or things are not going well, he focuses his ire on an aide. And this is not a surprise what's happening here.

There is also a lot of contradiction as to exactly who authored, who approved what, who wanted to do what. We have three people telling us that Don Jr., you know, advocated on Saturday for pushing back, much more fulsomely and being more public with what had happened. We have other -- the other sources insisting that that wasn't what happened. Although it would be in keeping with how Don Trump Jr. has typically handled thing to want to sort of say more and defend himself. But this is becoming complicated.

COOPER: So, just on that question of whether Donald Trump Jr. wanted to give out more information or push back harder. You're saying the president signed off on the statement that was given Saturday. That statement basically was saying that the meeting was about adoption, that statement, which was then later on in subsequent days, had to be amended.

HABERMAN: Yes, it's not clear that the president actually knew that there was more than that there. You know, we have had, you know, Don Jr. and aides to the president insist that the president was not really aware --

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: -- of the nature of this meeting or what happened. It's not clear, you know, when sort of the e-mails were known to exist, how much the president was read in. But he's certainly was aware of this happening.

[21:35:07] COOPER: And just very briefly, you said the team of Marc Kasowitz, the attorney for Donald Trump, for President Trump, are frustrated with Jared Kushner. Do you know why?

HABERMAN: They believe that he is a "freelancer" who whispers in the president's ear. And who is trying to help himself. I mean I think that what has gotten lost, in the largely, in this issue with this meeting, that Don Jr. was the key in arranging is that Jared Kushner is the one who went into government who had to amend his foreign contact form for security clearance. And that is part of how, you know, all of this became known.

COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, thank you for your time, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

The next story is up --

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: -- on "The New York Times" website now. With us now is Ryan Lizza, Bianna Golodryga, Carl Bernstein, and Nan Hayworth, Paul Begala, and Asha Rangappa.

Asha, let's start off with you. Just legally in terms of legality, is Donald Trump Jr. in trouble?


COOPER: In what way?

RANGAPPA: Well what these e-mails basically show is a level of knowledge and a level of intent that before now was not so explicit. And that opens up potential liability. It's not a smoking gun. Nobody is going to know -- prosecutor can prosecute this person on Donald Jr. on just this e-mail alone. But it does open up the question of things like election fraud, conspiracy to commit election fraud, you know, getting, soliciting, something of value from a foreign government which is illegal to do in election.

Again, it's a high bird in a proof, but you now have some ,you know, pretty in black and white. You have information that he knew what he was getting into.

COOPER: Congresswoman, you heard Maggie Haberman's reporting about --


COOPER: -- what she described as some kind of a circular firing squad in the White House. And have the leaks coming from different things, how concerned are you, as someone who obviously wants the president's agenda to move forward, wants to focus on issues that area important for the future of this country about the nature of what is happening right now in this White House.

HAYWORTH: You know, it's what Maggie has there is some sort of high level, you know, intriguing gossip. That's it. That's all it is. I mean this is all, again, you know this is not the story. It's been exhaustively covered. And kudos to you, when you were talking with General Hayden and you talked what we need to defend here. Absolutely true, it is essential that we defend what this country is about and what it represents so that we can indeed, counter enemies like Russia. And Russia can be considered a hostile power. There's no question. Bu the way we do that is actually through with the president is doing. That we should be talking about which is putting Americans back to work, getting our energy going again, making sure our government runs better. Making sure the VA runs better for veterans. This is a real story. And you know you're on to this.

COOPER: So, the Russian hacking, you don't believe this part of a real story or real threat?

HAYWORTH: There is no story here that Donald Trump Jr. being involved with Russian hacking. Donald Trump Jr. --

COOPER: No, n, I'm not saying there is.

HAYWORTH: -- participated in politics as usual.

COOPER: Right. But just Russia in general does the hacking concern you?

HAYWORTH: Yes, in the sense that we should always be fighting to make ourselves less vulnerable. The DNC should have been less vulnerable than it was.

COOPER: Yes, they clearly drop the ball --

HAYWORTH: -- so the hacking it took place under service.

Exactly, Secretary Clinton clearly did not follow security procedures. James Comey said that even if he gave Loretta Lynch a break.

COOPER: That sounds a little bit like you're blaming the victim here.

HAYWORTH: I'm not blaming the victim.

COOPER: But your --


COOPER: -- for the DNC --

HAYWORTH: No, they won't because they, in fact, put us at risk. Secretary Clinton put us at risk.


HAYWORTH: And she has the most knowledge of anyone in this electoral process of what we were dealing with.

COOPER: Paul, just in terms of where Donald Trump Jr. is now and Maggie Haberman's reporting. I mean one of things you talked about in the past, the Clinton White House, that Bill Clinton even in the darkest days, when he was facing all the stuff with Monica Lewinsky and the lies, he was able to compartmentalize things. Not sure what that says about him. But he was able to do it. And that is essential in the White House. Is this White House able to do that?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It says he's psychologically suited to be president, because you have a lot of different things coming at once, sometimes a foreign crisis, sometimes domestics, sometimes political, sometimes personal, sometimes all at once at the same time. But his mother passed away when he was about to leave for a summit in Russia. He had to be able to compartmentalize. I mean it's essential for a president. This president seems obsessed with the Russia story. And for good reason because he knows there is something there. I'm really struck by Maggie's reporting, I always I am, of the circular firing squad.

OK, I have been through nothing like this but close. You either come together or you come apart. But the people that went through impeachment with the Clinton are like brothers and sisters to me. We would die for each other. It looks like already this very tight, small family business is turning on itself, according to Maggie's reporting. That's a big problem because, you know, my, our old colleague, the late Bob Novak used to say in his column world, that you either source are a target.

[21:40:4] Well, the people in that inner circle are either a source or a target for Mr. Mueller in his investigation. And, they're going to start turning on each other. They're going to start ratting on each other. And I think Maggie's reporting is a leading indicator to that.

COOPER: Carl, you have said that to say that these e-mails as a smoking gun is premature?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Yes, so it's premature and at the same time is I also said we are in the midst of a malignant presidency. And part of the malignancy is the constant lying by people named Trump.

And what we are seeing here is, now we see that much of the focus of where investigations are going is into the Trump family. It's something that has the president, I'm told, and I wanted to ask Maggie about this. It has the president in your rage, is that he knows that Mueller is looking at his family's finances, at his son-in-law's finances, at his finances. At his -- all of the Trump organizations' finances to look for links. And he is in a rage about this. But right now, make no mistake. The Trump family is under investigation by the Congress of the United States, by Mr. Mueller, and this is a really provocative situation when you have a president like Trump and also, when one of the questions is about incessant lying, obfuscation, undermining investigations.


BERNSTEIN: But, no, is there a smoking gun? No, but we've got a long way to go. We're early in the process. And that again one of the reasons the president is furious.

COOPER: All right. It's interesting when -- when you read these e- mails, and we don't know if this is the complete list of e-mails but this is what Donald Trump Jr. put out. When said that, the Russian government is backing his father, he doesn't seem to react to it in any way. Some people said it sounds, like -- almost like it's a second reference or perhaps this has been discussed before. But it just seems to be kind of an aside in this e-mail and not remarked on. I mean, if -- if I'm hearing that for the first time, I would --


COOPER: I would -- I would just be surprised. I would be like, wait a minute, what?

GOLODRYGA: Yes, exactly. There just seem to be some sort of common knowledge about this, this effort by the Russians. There wasn't much of a surprise or hey, I'm going to call you. Let's not talk about this over e-mail. Tell me more. Instead, he says, oh maybe this will be good for later in the summer. But what this does seem to clarify because one has to remember anyone who studies Vladimir Putin knows that what really irks him even more than the sanctions over Ukraine are the Magnitsky Act sanctions.

And these are sanctions that affect him personally. Forty four Russian businessmen that he has ties to, that are charged with corruption, that are charged with human rights abuses are not allowed to conduct business in the U.S. and abroad. This is something he desperately wants to lift it. And you do see a potential reason as to why this president would want to reach out to the Republican nominee, to see what if anything can be done, to get these sanctions lifted. But remember how he retaliated.

COOPER: Right.

GOLODRYGA: He is the reason why Americans, that out of most countries in the world, more Americans adopted Russian children, and he turned around in retaliation and curtailed that from happening.

COOPER: Yes. We have to take a break. We're talk to Ryan and the rest of the panel, continuing when we come back.

Up next, we also will digs the role, the entire Trump family playing in this latest iteration of Russia White House watch and how Trump's other son is reacting tonight.


[21:47:08] COOPER: Well, as the Russian meeting e-mails came to light, there is road of silence from the White House and fairly profound tweet from the president and new reporting from Maggie Haberman on growing tension in the west wing. Back now with the panel.

It is interesting, Ryan, you know the president has been largely silent on this, other than --


COOPER: -- you know, a short statement, short tweet tonight. He's not calling this a witch hunt. He's not going after the media on this one.

LIZZA: Yes. Maybe he's listening to his lawyers. Maybe he's listening to White House aides. Usually that doesn't last very long as we've seen with this investigation, right, any part of it he's usually tweeting. But, just to take a step back. I think my takeaway from today is the fundamental narrative of this story has shifted, right?

The one thing that all partisans of the president could say is no evidence of collusion, no evidence of collusion, no evidence of collusion. That is the thing that was exploded today. Because we have clear evidence that at the very least, the senior members of Trump's campaign were willing and eager to collude with people who represented themselves as representatives of the Russian government. And I just think at that point --

COOPER: And whether --


COOPER: -- they did represented the government or not, whether they had actual information or not.


COOPER: It almost doesn't matter because --

LIZZA: It does not matter --


LIZZA: -- was a sting of staff. It was basically, hey, we are the Russian government, would you like to collude with us? Love it, let's do it. I mean that was -- that's the gist of this e-mail.

COOPER: Congresswoman --


COOPER: -- different.

HAYWORTH: Well, I've -- to me, you know, look, Donald, Jr. put his e- mails out there and knowing, listen, I started politics as an absolute neophyte. I'm a doctor. And feel blessed to be one because politics is a very rough, tough business. And I was blessed to have many good friends and bless to have a great career. But, Donald Trump Jr.'s e- mails that showed to me is a guilelessness, in a sense. If you really think something wrong is happening, if you really think you're going to be doing something, you're not going to put it in an e-mail, you're not going to say, yes, absolutely, I think he felt --

LIZZA: But that's exactly what he did.

HAYWORTH: But nothing happened and nothing illegal was -- but nothing illegal was represented even in that communication.

COOPER: You know, it's e-mail that they --

(CROSSTALK) LIZZA: -- learning here is we might not have laws that actually deal with this sort of thing. I mean, I think the idea that this is a campaign finance violation, I mean doesn't really --