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Sixteen Dead In Military Plane Crash In Mississippi; Interview with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia; NYT: Email To Trump Jr. Said Russian Government Had Info On Clinton; Customers Can Now Sue Banks For Wrongdoing. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:06] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Three potentially explosive words inside a new account of Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer and one explosive word that is missing.

According to "The New York Times," Donald Trump, Jr. was told before the meeting that he would be given compromising information about Hillary Clinton that was part of a Russian government effort to helps his father's campaign.

"Russian government effort." Those three crucial words. They are new and very important, especially given the word that is missing: denial. No one in the White House or Donald Trump's orbit is denying this happened.

HARLOW: That e-mail reportedly came from this man, Rob Goldstone, a publicist who helped coordinate the meeting. Earlier this morning, the Russian lawyer in that meeting with Trump, Jr. told NBC News this.


NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): It's quite possible that, maybe, they were looking for such information. They wanted it so badly.


HARLOW: "They wanted it so badly," her words. Donald Trump, Jr. has hired a lawyer. He says this is much ado about nothing.

All of this is happening as the Senate Intelligence Committee gets ready to begin interviews with Trump campaign officials. We will speak live with a member of that committee in just a moment.

First, though, our team of reporters on the ground covering all of the angles. Let's begin at the White House with Jason Carroll. Good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Poppy. You know, the White House is basically saying there is no there, there. No evidence, they say, of collusion. The Deputy Press Secretary basically saying, look, at this point, the only thing that's inappropriate about that meeting is the person or persons who leaked information about it.

Having said that, "The New York Times" is reporting that that meeting did take place last June of 2016 at Trump Tower. Trump, Jr. there in attendance. In addition to that, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort there; the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that Russian attorney, who you heard just briefly there in that interview, also in attendance who apparently, allegedly, was supposed to have some sort of damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.

Well, Trump, Jr. has hired an attorney to represent him in this matter. He has released a statement that says, in part: in my view, this is much ado about nothing. The meeting lasted about 20 to 30 minutes and nothing came of it. His father knew nothing about it. The bottom line is Don Jr. did nothing wrong.

Don Jr., for his part, also coming to his own defense in much the way that his father does, on Twitter. Tweeting out this morning saying the following: media and Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a year, I understand the desperation.

And also, it should be noted that there are now at least seven former or current Trump associates who are now facing questions about their contacts with Russians, what they said about it, what they did not say about it. A source telling CNN that the Senate Intel Committee is expected to start those interviews with some of those Trump officials sometime this week -- John, Poppy.

BERMAN: All right, Jason. Remember, what Donald Trump, Jr. calls a nonsense meeting, he received an e-mail about it, reportedly telling him it was part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign. Now, moments ago, we heard, really for the first time, from the lawyer who was in that meeting. This is how she explained her side of it.


KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What was the purpose of that meeting?

VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): I never knew who else would be attending the meeting. All I knew that Mr. Donald Trump, Jr. was willing to meet with me.

I could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for probably the first seven to 10 minutes, and then he stood up and left the room. It was Mr. Jared Kushner. And he never came back, by the way.

And the other individual who was at the same meeting was always looking at his phone. He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation. That was Mr. Manafort. SIMMONS: They had the impression, it appears, that they were going to

be told some information that you had about the DNC. How did they get that impression?

VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): It's quite possible that maybe they were looking for such information. They wanted it so badly.

SIMMONS: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have connections to the Russian government?

VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): No.


HARLOW: Matthew Chance is live in Moscow with more. Matthew?

[09:04:50] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much. Well, I think it was very interesting that, in that interview, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who is that Russian lawyer we've just seen speaking to the NBC reporter here, basically denied that she had any kind of compromising information from the Russian government or from anyone else about the Democratic Party and about Donald Trump's then opponent in the race for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

Of course, that was what we were told was the basis for that meeting being held, that they wanted to hear information like that. She said they wanted it badly.

So it talks to the idea that this was an offer from a Russian citizen to come into Trump Tower and to give, you know, kind of negative information about a political opponent in the United States, and Donald Trump, Jr. signed up to that, scheduled a meeting, and brought in senior members of the campaign team as well. And I think that speaks volumes about what was going on potentially in that campaign at the time when this offer was made.

From the Kremlin's point of view, they've tried to distance themselves as much as possible from this. They haven't commented on this latest allegation, you know, of an e-mail. This revelation there's been an e-mail saying that they reciprocated.

But they have said they don't know who this lawyer is. They don't monitor the meetings that every Russian lawyer has in Russia and abroad. And so they, I have to say, attempted to distance themselves as much as possible from this latest damaging episode.

BERMAN: All right, Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Thanks so much.

This latest controversy comes at a pretty crucial time. A source tells CNN the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to begin interviewing Trump campaign officials this week.

Now, with us, a member of that committee, Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat, of West Virginia. Senator, thanks so much for being with us. The news this morning -- SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good morning, John.

BERMAN: -- you've been in the middle of it all. "The New York Times" reports that Donald Trump, Jr. was sent an e-mail that the information he was going to get in this meeting with a lawyer was part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign. And as far as we can tell this morning, no one associated with Donald Trump, Jr. is denying the existence of this e-mail. Your reaction?

MANCHIN: Well, it tells you how low we've sunk in politics in United States when you're taking -- willing to take a meeting to try to help you in a political fight of your life from an adversary who is trying to do us harm and destroy us as a country. I just -- how we've sunken this low in the process and think it's acceptable is unbelievable to me.

HARLOW: So Richard Painter, whom you know as an attorney and also, you know, formerly led the ethics division of the Bush White House, said this is akin to treason. Do you think it is?

MANCHIN: I don't know what the criminal ramifications of this action is or this meeting. We're going to find out. But even if it has no criminal implications, whatsoever, just -- I mean, you just don't do things. This is not using good common judgment.

I've said this before, coming from the private sector to the public sector and the Trumps being as successful as they've been as a family, that's a difficult change. But you have to -- you have campaign managers around. You have people around you that set the parameter.

And to have a campaign manager, who was Paul Manafort, who should have never been the campaign manager, thinking this is acceptable behavior and you sit down and talk to him? And Paul Manafort, being the person who has openly said, you know, he's for hire. He'll take a dollar from anybody for any reason and any purpose, and he's done that.

It's just such a bad, bad scenario for us to get ourselves into. And, you know, we are a rule of law. We are a country with a rule of law and basically justice is blind. And there's no one -- no one -- at the top of the rung or the lowest part of that rung that's going to be immune from this, so we'll see where it goes.

BERMAN: Just to be clear --

MANCHIN: We'll just see where it goes.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, Senator, what the White House and allies of Donald Trump, Jr. says, you know what, nothing came of this meeting. You know, they're not denying that they were offered information from the Russian government to help the father, but nothing came of that meeting. Is that the appropriate measurement to gauge --


BERMAN: -- whether or not this was something -- go ahead. MANCHIN: No, you can't. I mean, you know, I've been in many

campaigns myself. I know when people are basically trying to peddle their goods to make themselves look important, thinking they've got a scoop in this and that. We know when it's credible or not. You do enough due diligence, and you've got good people around you to make good decisions.

And a campaign that thinks they're behind the 8-Ball, thinking we'll do whatever it takes, well, you might do whatever it takes in the private sector to get a one up, if you will, an advantage on your competitor for the sake of being successful. But in the public sector, in a transparent way, in the laws that we have to obtain -- you know, work under, this is not acceptable. And no one can defend it as being acceptable behavior, especially with someone like Russia.

HARLOW: So you --

MANCHIN: Who would think that you would sit down thinking Russia is going to be your friend, and what's the purpose of them wanting you to have an advantage?

HARLOW: Senator, you have a race coming up.


HARLOW: And the argument has been made by some around the President that this is -- including Donald Trump, Jr., by the way, yesterday -- this is how opposition research works.

[09:10:02] Just to be very clear for you, no matter how tough your campaigns have been or your races will be, if you were offered information through a source from the Russian government, knowing from an e-mail that you got that it was part of a Russian government effort to help your campaign, is there any scenario under which you would accept that meeting?

MANCHIN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I have been in the private sector all my life, and I've been in the public sector most of my life in West Virginia, you know. And I know right from wrong. They don't have to tell me.

And then we have lawyers and we have campaign advisers and we have managers. And if I felt any of them would go down that path, they wouldn't be with me the next day if they would accept something as seedy as this and thinking it's acceptable because we're in a campaign battle and we've got to win at all costs.

There's certain things that you've got to be able to go home with your family and go to bed at night, thinking that, you know, it was a good fight. I fought the good fight. I did it the right way.

Maybe it didn't work out. But the bottom line is -- excuse me -- you don't stoop to those levels. It's not worth it. This process is not designed for this type of winning and thinking you win at all costs.

No, I'm sorry. That's not who I am, not what I'm going to do. It's not what I'm going to partake in. I just --

BERMAN: Senator --

MANCHIN: -- wasn't raised that way.

BERMAN: Senator, I have to say, that's stronger than we've heard you come out on this investigation for some time. You usually, you know, sit back and say, I'm waiting, I'm waiting, I'm waiting. It's interesting to hear your talk about this --

MANCHIN: Well, that's true.

BERMAN: I hear you. I want to get one question into health care because I think --

MANCHIN: Yes, go ahead.

BERMAN: You know, you're in the middle of that discussion as well.


BERMAN: Although you should be!

MANCHIN: I should be.

BERMAN: Because you have long been seen as the Democrat most likely to work with Republicans --


BERMAN: -- even Republican leadership to get health care reform through. Yet have you heard from Republican leadership in the last week?

MANCHIN: Not the leadership, John. I haven't heard from leadership at all. I have talked to Susan Collins. I've talked to Lisa Murkowski. I talked to Bill Cassidy. We had Democrats, moderate Democrats.

We want to fix. We want to repair the Affordable Care Act and the problems we have in the private market and also different things that we can do to make this thing robust and take care of people. Also, we want to hold people accountable and responsible of how they're using their health care in a most -- you know, most accurate way but also to enhance the quality of life, to get them in a healthy lifestyle.

John, here's the thing. In West Virginia, if you never had health care before, the only health care you had was you went to the emergency room. Well, you didn't go to the emergency room for preventative care, to try to keep yourself healthy. You went when you were sick or you needed help.

Now, all of a sudden, you've got the most valuable thing that we can give you, the wealth of a health card and not one word of instructions and no education of how you should use it to have a better quality of life, to have a healthier life. Let's try some things. Be compassionate. Have some empathy.

And we're willing to sit down and there's a lot of good Republicans. But for them to go down the road, thinking budget reconciliation, I can get rid of this with 50 plus one vote, well, the Democrats passed it and divided the country with 60 Democrats and no Republicans but the process was open.

They tried to get Republicans involved, and they even had amendments from Republicans. Now, the Republicans have sat down, and Mitch McConnell leadership has said, we don't want you involved.

There's not going to be any open hearings. There's not going to through a normal process of the health committee or any of this, and we're going to do it by ourselves. And if we fail, then we'll call you.

That's not what we were here for, that's not what we were sent to do. So I'm asking Mitch and everybody, we'll bring people to the table. We'll sit down and work with you piece by piece, section by section. We're just not going to repeal and throw the baby out with the bathwater. We know it needs to be fixed, work with us.

HARLOW: Senator Manchin, 30 seconds to go but could you just speak to what a full repeal without a replace would mean for the state of West Virginia?

MANCHIN: There's not one person --

HARLOW: What would that --

MANCHIN: The demographics in my state, every demographic gets hit, Poppy. Every one of them, whether you're old, whether you're young.

Opiate addiction, for the first time you're getting treatment. Mental illness, you're getting treatment. People that never had health care are getting health care now. We need to work with them and educate them. People that are working and then what we call people working that don't have the luxury of having health care before have it for the first time. Children, they can protect children.

And now you're going to take all that away because of budget reconciliation. You say we're going to come back and fix it but we'll repeal it now? No.

And I've said this, when you say repeal, that means you're taking something away. When you say repairing it, you're going to fix it and make it better. That's what we're sent here to do. We're sent here to fix things and make it better.

HARLOW: Senator Joe Manchin, thank you for being with us this morning.

MANCHIN: Thank you also. Sure thing. Thank you.

BERMAN: Riled up on a few accounts, I think, this morning, Senator Manchin. HARLOW: Absolutely. Very sad news. Look at the pictures you're

looking at. This is a military plane that has crashed in Mississippi. Everyone on board was killed, that is 16 people. This morning, they still don't know the cause.

[09:15:02] BERMAN: Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with the details. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. The president tweeting his condolences along with the first lady a short time ago. The Marines saying that they do not know what happened here. It was a Marine Corps KC-130.

That's an aircraft that normally conducts refueling operations but also can carry cargo, carry troops, crashing yesterday afternoon. You see the aftermath here in Mississippi.

It came out of Cherry Point, North Carolina. No indication even so far that the pilot was able to make any kind of radio call that the plane was in distress. No indication of that, but that's all part of the investigation.

The FAA says they called the Marine Corps instantly, of course, when the plane disappeared from their radar. Sixteen souls lost on board. All members of the U.S. military.

And what the Pentagon is telling us at this hour, they are now reaching out to families across the country, next of kin, to notify them, and after that is done, then the names of those who perished will be made public -- John, Poppy.

HARLOW: Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon. Thank you for that.

Ahead for us, Donald Trump Jr. reportedly told about a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign back in June. This is in an e-mail that no one from the White House is denying exists, but did he break any laws by taking that meeting?

Senate Republicans try for a health care do-over. Again, jn just hours, they start wading through changes to their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Is it too late?

BERMAN: Plus, celebrations in Iraq after the prime minister there declares total victory over ISIS in Mosul. What does this mean for the next few months?



BERMAN: All right, the big news this morning, according to the "New York Times," before Donald Trump Jr. decided to take the meeting with the Russian lawyer last year, he was told in an e-mail that the damaging information he was promised about Hillary Clinton was, quote, "part of a Russian government effort." HARLOW: Right. Three very important words. So far this morning, no denial from the White House, just deflection. Before this new detail came out, our next guests felt the president's son, Don Jr., having that meeting, quote, "bordered on treason." So how does he feel now?

Joining us is Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. It's nice to have you here, sir. Let me read your tweet before this latest revelation from the "New York Times," "When a Russian agent calls to offer dirt on a political opponent, a loyal American will call the FBI." Does this new big revelation from the "New York Times" change that at all for you?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: It's what I suspected all along. You know, this is a tragedy for the United States because we have competitive elections between Democrats and Republicans, but we're all Americans.

And many, many soldiers have gone to die in wars fighting fascism, Russian expansionism through the cold war period, and there are Democrats, Republicans and independents, and we stand together as Americans.

And the Russians have been spying on the United States, seeking to destabilize western democracies since the 1917 Russian revolution. This has been going on for 100 years. We know what is going on when we get a call saying the Russians have dirt on our opponent and that call never should have been taken.

BERMAN: OK. If Donald Trump Jr. did receive an e-mail and again he's not denying it. The White House is not denying it, saying, that this meeting is going to deliver information, a part of a Russian government effort. In taking the meeting, did he do something illegal?

PAINTER: Well, in times of declared war, we have the treason statute. In times of undeclared war, and that was throughout the entire cold war period, and today, we have other statutes to address conduct which is essentially treasonous, which is a conduct undermining the American system of democracy.

We have statutes that govern computer hacking and computer crimes. We have statutes that govern campaigns, foreign nationals and foreign governments are not supposed to be making contributions in kind or in any way to American political campaigns.

We have a wide range of statutes that have been used to address the fundamental problem of people engaged in conduct designed to undermine our democratic system and to assist a foreign power. And that is what that e-mail said, that there was a Russian government objective to influence our election.

That should have been reported to the FBI. That is criminal conduct by the Russians and nobody in the United States should have anything to do with it.

HARLOW: Some are also, Richard, pointing to federal campaign law that stipulates no person shall knowingly solicit, accept or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs B through D of this section.

By admitting that he took this meeting because of the intent, which was to help his father's campaign and now the "New York Times" is reporting it was clear through an e-mail that Donald Jr. got that it was a, quote, "Russian government effort to do so," could he have broken federal campaign laws?

PAINTER: He could have. If he knew what is reported in "The New York Times" if that version of the story is true, he could have serious exposure under the federal campaign laws.

And if he knew that the Russians had information they had obtained through espionage and computer hacking, which is the way they generally obtain information, he'd have exposure there as well. We need to know the facts and know which statutes apply.

BERMAN: Richard, in the White House defense that nothing came of this meeting, does this cover him on this? Even if nothing came of it, does that matter?

[09:25:04]PAINTER: Well, first of all, you have a meet with the top three people. Donald Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort are all there, and they say that nothing happened at the meeting. Niet, that's my answer to that. I don't believe it.

And secondly, it doesn't matter. If there was an attempted collaboration with the Russians, that would be just as problematic, if it failed, as if it succeeded. And, third, we know that it succeeded in the end.

The Russians obtained an enormous amount of information through computer hacking, through espionage in the United States and used it to influence our election. So something obviously came to that meeting. We know full well what it was because it happened in November.

BERMAN: We now know before that meeting, a little what happened in the meeting, we don't know --

HARLOW: There's no direct connection.

BERMAN: -- directly what happened after the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., but we appreciate your comments on this, Richard Painter --

PAINTER: Not with Donald Trump Jr., but we know what the Russians did.

BERMAN: We know what the Russians did, but we don't know what the connection was, if any, between the campaign and after that point, but I understand your argument here. Richard, thank you very, very much.

All right, it just got easier for you to sue your banking credit card company.

HARLOW: What are you doing after the show?

BERMAN: CNN chief business correspondent, Christine Romans before the bell. How does it work?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, a lot of people didn't know that you couldn't sue them. For the first time you can sue your bank and credit card company. The fine print of all those banking rules, you couldn't do that before, but the CFPB, the official consumer watch dog is issuing this new rule gives you more muscle in your dispute with your banks.

It prevents them from forcing you to negotiate behind closed doors, in private arbitration, and now allows class action lawsuits. The CFPB is an independent money police set up after the financial crisis to protect consumers from the excesses of the financial industry.

But today its very existence is questioned by this administration. This is an interesting moment for a new consumer friendly regulation. It's going to cost banks more money and the Treasury Department accuses the CFPB of imposing too many regulations.

The administration wants to scrap many banking rules. In fact, President Trump putting his first mark on the Federal Reserve by appointing an industry friendly guys as bank regulators to the fed.

HARLOW: So we hear consistently as you sit down with these bank CEOs, they say, we are strapped by all this regulation and can't loan as much, crippled. We can't earn as much. Shareholders can't get as much. Do the numbers tell that story?

ROMANS: The numbers don't tell that story. When you look at bank stocks, bank earnings and bank payouts to shareholders, these have been soaring. Income for the banks last year, a record $171 billion. They paid out $102 billion in dividends.

Now on Friday, we'll start to hear from the big banks in their corporate earnings season this time around. When you hear that how the banks have been held back so much by banking reform after the financial crash, just take a look at the stock prices. Take a look at how much investors are making investing in these bank stocks and put that all together.

HARLOW: There's also an important difference between the smaller community banks that are hurt a little more from the regulations than the big guys on Wall Street.

ROMANS: Very good point.

HARLOW: All right, Romans, thank you, as always.

Today on Capitol Hill, Republicans getting down to work. A really important lunch, working lunch, on their health care bill. Is it do or die time? What could they do over? Can they get this thing through? We're live on the Hill, next.