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NYT: Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign; 16 Dead in U.S. Military Plane Crash in Mississippi; GOP Health Care Bill on the Brink. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 06:00   ET



SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president's campaign did not collude in any way.

[05:57:23] MAGGIE HABERMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES" (via phone): Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an e-mail compromising information about Hillary Clinton. Part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign.

REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: That's opposition research. You're always looking to get the upper hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's been revealed for the first time is potential, real coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Rest assured Donald Trump Jr. Will be somebody we want to talk to.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO DONALD TRUMP: There was no information given. There was no action taken. If we learn nothing from that meeting...

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Doesn't matter what he learned. It matters why he took the meeting.


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

CUOMO: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, July 11, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with another major development in Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Here's the starting line: "The New York Times" reports Donald Trump Jr. was told in an e-mail that a lawyer he had met with last summer would offer him dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father win the election, fueling new questions about the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia.

The White House is rushing to defend the president's son, saying this is meaningless coincidence. But we now know of at least seven current or former Trump campaign members that have lied, changed their stories, or simply not been forthcoming about their contacts with Russia.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So Congressional investigators want to talk with the president's son about his meeting with that Russian lawyer. The vice chairman of the Senate Intel Committee calls this development, quote, "clear evidence," unquote, that Trump officials met with Russians, with the intention of hurting Hillary Clinton.

And we are following breaking news for you. A U.S. military plane crashes in a remote field in Mississippi, killing at least 16 people. What caused the Marine Corps aircraft to plummet from the sky?

So CNN has all of this covered for you. Let's begin with Jason Carroll. He is live at the White House -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Alisyn.

You know, the White House now seeming to have to keep up with what it seems like daily reports about this meeting that Trump Jr. took in June of 2016. The latest report offering new insight into what Trump Jr. knew before that meeting took place.


CARROLL (voice-over): Another potential bombshell report from "The New York Times," alleging that Donald Trump Jr. received an e-mail informing him that the Russian government was trying to help his father's campaign. Before his June 2016 meeting with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner; former campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and a Russian lawyer thought to have compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

Three unnamed sources tell "The Times" that the e-mail, sent by Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, who coordinated the meeting, indicated that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. Six weeks later, Trump Jr. slammed the Clinton campaign for suggesting that the Russians were involved in an effort to help then-candidate Trump.

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: It just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they'll say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie.

It's disgusting. It's so phony.

CARROLL: Trump Jr.'s newly-hired lawyer insisting in a statement that his client did nothing wrong, noting, "Don Jr.'s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign, and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed."

The White House on the defensive.

CONWAY: Don Jr. has very explicitly stated he didn't even know the name of the person with whom he was meeting. There was no information given. There was no action taken. There was no follow-up.

SANDERS: The president's campaign did not collude in any way.

CARROLL: Congressional investigators probing potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia already expressing interest in speaking with Trump, who tweeted Monday that he would be "happy to pass on what I know."

WARNER: This is the first time that the public has seen clear evidence of senior-level members of the Trump campaign meeting with Russians to try to obtain information that might hurt the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

CARROLL: Trump's legal team choosing to reiterate an earlier statement when asked about the new report, noting, "The president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting."


CARROLL: So, to date, at least seven former or current members of team Trump have come under question for not being forthcoming about their initial contacts with Russians. You see the list of notable names there on your screen. A source telling CNN that members of the Senate Intel Committee will begin interviewing some of these Trump officials, beginning as early as this week -- Chris, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Jason, thank you very much.

Joining us on the phone now with more on this new reporting is "The New York Times" reporter, their White House correspondent and our CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman. She co-wrote the story about Don Jr.

Good morning, Maggie.

HABERMAN (via phone): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: OK. So tell us more about this e-mail that seems to, from your reporting, have made it explicit to Don Jr. that there was this Russian lawyer who wanted -- or was claiming to have some sort of compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

HABERMAN: Right. So, you know, in the course of setting up this meeting with Don Jr., this intermediary, Rob Goldstone, who is an acquaintance of Don Jr.'s, made clear -- and it's not clear whether he himself had direct knowledge of this or whether, you know, this has been funneled through several other people, which it appeared to have been. That he was hearing from.

But he made clear that he was trying to offer potentially, you know, compromising information about Hillary Clinton and that it was part of a broader Russian effort to help his father's campaign. That was made very plain. And Don Jr. went ahead with the meeting anyway, and did not set off alarm flags.

Now, look, this was -- this meeting was four or five days before it was widely reported that Russian government hackers had infiltrated the Democratic National Committee e-mail servers. And so that was not on anybody's radar in a huge way. But it was also clear at that point that Russia was considered an adversary of the U.S., and this did not set off the alarms that you would typically expect it to with a campaign.

As you both know, this campaign did not function typically. And Don Trump Jr. had a pretty open-door policy. But his is the first concrete, you know, in-writing example that we know of saying here is this effort, and it has a Russian correlation that just becomes harder for everyone to say, "We had no idea."

CUOMO: Maggie, just in terms of sourcing, were you told about the e- mails? Did you see the e-mails? How much do you know about the content of the e-mails?

HABERMAN: We were -- we were told about the content of this e-mail. And again, I don't want to suggest that we know more than is in the story. The story -- the story represents what we know. We don't know whether there were other e-mail exchanges. We don't know, you know, what was said in this meeting. We just know of how this -- this particular original, I believe, exchange went.

CAMEROTA: So, Maggie, what makes you and "The New York Times," if this is true, think that this Russian lawyer is connected to the Kremlin somehow?

HABERMAN: I'm sorry, Alisyn, can you repeat that? You just faded out for a second.

CAMEROTA: Yes. How do you know that this Russian lawyer that Don Jr. met with is connected to the Kremlin?

HABERMAN: I mean, this is based on reporting. You know, she was pretty emphatic in a statement that this is actually just related to she wanted to talk about adoptions and the issue of Russian adoptions. The issue of Russian adoptions is essentially about sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses. This is our understanding from our reporting.

CUOMO: And the e-mail, just in terms of bootstrapping the context, the e-mail indicated that the person he would meet with, who was this Russian lawyer, was part of this government effort on behalf of the Kremlin to influence the election, right?

HABERMAN: No, the e-mail, as we understand it, said that this information was part of it.

CUOMO: So the information that she was going to get. All right.

HABERMAN: I don't...

CUOMO: So it was coming two different ways?

HABERMAN: ... more specific. Correct. I don't know that it was more specific about who she was in particular. CAMEROTA: Maggie, thank you very much for sharing your reporting with

us this morning. We'll see you very soon.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss all of this. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN political commentator Errol Louis; and CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.

David Gregory, nice to see you back with us after a little break. So let's talk about this. What jumps out at you from this "New York Times" reporting about this e-mail to Don Jr. and the meeting that he had?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what immediately jumps out is about all of the questions it creates, all the follow-up questions it creates about just what they were doing, why they would take this meeting, not knowing who they were meeting with, what the nature of the information was, where it was coming from.

But even more striking than that is the shocking incompetence and arrogance of these folks, to suggest and to -- say such horrible things about their opponents, when at the same time, they're -- they're trafficking in potential information, which is dirt about an opponent. That's not the new part. The fact that it would be someone connected to the Russian government ought to give you pause.

And it just shows that, even in the course of the campaign, they were letting themselves be vulnerable to potential blackmail, to infiltration, to all kind of things by a Russian government looking to interfere in our election.

This is the same time, if you recall, that candidate Trump was inviting Russia in a press conference to hack Hillary Clinton's e- mails and to find the missing e-mails and reveal them. So a complete disregard for what Russia could have actually been up to and was up to in terms of trying to interfere with the election. So I think it's that -- the lack of understanding that they were vulnerable and the arrogance, the inexperience with all of that.

And then just all of the questions about what they were doing here, not knowing who they were meeting with and pulling in top people very close to the candidate at that time into such a meeting?

CUOMO: Now, there are two layers of analysis we have to go through. The first one is Don Jr., his role, what does it mean. And then you have, what does it mean in the larger investigation.

On the first one, the White House has a pretty clear line of defense, which is this meeting amounted to nothing. We have Kellyanne Conway, part of the tour de force interview that she did here yesterday morning where she laid this out. And then it had an echo throughout the day. Here it is.


CUOMO: Don Jr. changed his story.

CONWAY: This is why the media -- this is why...

CUOMO: Don Jr. says he met with her, because she had bad information on Clinton.

CONWAY: ... the media has a much lower approval rating than Donald Trump, or Ivanka Trump or Mike Pence.

CUOMO: He said it.

CONWAY: This is why -- this is why.

CUOMO: He said it.

CONWAY: Look, he learned nothing from that meeting.

CUOMO: It doesn't matter what he learned. It matters why he took the meeting.

CONWAY: Yes, it does.


CONWAY: Yes, it does. It matters completely.

CUOMO: It does not matter for the purposes of the investigation.


CUOMO: They're looking into whether or not Russia was trying to get inside the election. He admits he took the meeting because someone was offering him that kind of information. It matters, period.


CUOMO: All right. We learned two things. One, that's not the piece of sound I wanted them to run the rest of the show, because that's me, and I don't care about what I think about.

CAMEROTA: What did she say?

CUOMO: What I was doing there was testing her line, which is nothing came out of the meeting, Errol. They learned nothing. He didn't act on the meeting. Nothing ever happened with another meeting. So because it amounted to nothing, it doesn't matter.

I don't think that works legally in terms of or ethically in terms of -- or ethically in terms of analyzing Don Jr.'s decision to accept this solicitation, this offer for the meeting and go. What's your take?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. I mean, one reason that Don Jr. has hired a lawyer and that he and his lawyer are going to probably have some follow-up conversations about this with Bob Mueller and his team, I'm sure, is because, yes, it doesn't matter whether you actually act on the fruits of an illegal meeting, if that, indeed, is what it was. You know, the state of mind, as you know, is part of any sort of a

crime. To make it out, you have to not just do something, but the intent also matters. And when you're talking about something like conspiracy or collusion, the state of mind is, in some ways, really most of what we're talking about here.

So if you get together and you know, you know that. If there's an e- mail that now proves it, if there's an e-mail saying that the Russian government has some compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Would you like to meet and talk about it? And you go to that meeting, you're sort of three-quarters of the way there to having a real problem. Whether you decide to do something there or not, whether you figure out all of the information and how you're going to use it or not, there's a problem here. It cries out for further investigation.

Who else knew about it? Where did it come from? Did you pass the information on to anybody else? What was your state of mind? What was the state of mind of the campaign? Were you looking for this kind of information from other sources? Did any of it ever come? On and on and on and on.

And the fact that you now have these seven people who keep forgetting about these kind of meet meetings were then trying to downplay it or then sort of moving the goalposts and saying, "Well, that's not real collusion," that's going to be a problem. And they're going to have to answer it. I think a lot of these questions are going to have to be answered under oath.

CAMEROTA: Just to show our viewers and those who may be listening, these are the seven people who did not disclose or reveal meetings with Russians until after it was reported in the media. We have Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, J.D. Gordon, Jeff Sessions, Don Jr. now, Jared Kushner, Carter Page.

Phil Mudd, you're not on that list.


CAMEROTA: This is my question to you.

MUDD: Yet.

CAMEROTA: Do you agree with Errol? Is the meeting, itself, a problem?

MUDD: Yes, there's a couple things that I think we need to take away from this. Miss Conway is not an investigator. She's wrong.

There's two parts of an investigation. One is relatively easy, and that is what happened. We know over the course of time that a lot of Trump officials met with Russians, for example, as you know. That's why General Flynn was terminated. He spoke with the Russian ambassador.

The difficult thing in an investigation like this is taking a step forward and saying, why did they meet? What is the intent? Regardless of whether Mr. Trump Jr. got information he thought was valuable, we know from the e-mail why he met with this person. Not only did the meeting took place, but he knew he was potentially receiving information that was about the campaign.

The other thing -- I've got to say this, Alisyn -- is the sleaze potential. Do you understand what the lawyer is saying here? The lawyer is saying, "This is inconsequential. They're just getting opposition research." That lawyer needs a lesson in American morals.

Here's the deal. We go into 2020, and you're telling the Chinese and the Russians that it's appropriate for their intelligence officers to collect negative information in advance of a campaign to pass it to the campaign to take down another candidate. Is that OK in America?

This lawyer needs his ass kicked. This is just -- I understand what he's saying for his client. But what he's saying for American politics -- it's OK to encourage the Russians to do this next time and pass it to the next campaign -- you can't do that.

CUOMO: All right.

GREGORY: We also have to remember the context, too, which is this was 2016. This is last year. Russia is an enemy of the United States. Russia has been playing a long game, both in its own aggrandizement in its region but also in this area of hacking, of cyber-intrusion, of trying to compromise critical infrastructure in the Ukraine, trying to interfere in Ukraine's election.

Here you have Manafort as a campaign manager with ties to the Ukraine. You have Michael Flynn with all of his ties to Russia. We -- there are business interests that Donald Trump has had over the years with Russia, the full extent to which we do not know.

And yet here, Donald Trump's son is taking a meeting to receive potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton, who we know, and we knew at the time that Vladimir Putin personally disliked and wanted to undercut and prevent from becoming president.

Now you are either sort of shockingly naive or arrogant enough to believe it doesn't matter, that you're going to move forward on that, instead of getting some good advice from grown-ups in the government at the time, who would tell you, this is a bad idea.

Or you wanted so much to get this information from wherever it came that you didn't worry about the Russians and all their problems. Because you just wanted what you could get on Hillary Clinton. Again, this is the kind of thing we're going to have to learn more about.

CUOMO: Now, there is a second issue here that really shouldn't be an issue for the White House. It shouldn't be a problem for the White House, but I fear that it is. And that is, even if everything that we've heard here that is bad for Don Jr. winds up being not true and unsubstantiated, OK, so Donald Jr. is taken out of the equation. He did nothing wrong. Still, it casts a really bright light, maybe the brightest so far, on why the investigation is legitimate into what Russia was doing. [06:15:00] Don Jr. has clean hands. Make that an assumption until you

know otherwise. It still shows that this is a real investigation into what Russian efforts were, even if the -- you know, the solicitation was not returned. So that's a political problem for the White House, on top of a legal problem.

CAMEROTA: Well, coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak with the deputy assistant to the president. We have Sebastian Gorka here to talk about all of the things in the news. So we'll look forward to that.

Panel, thank you very much.

CUOMO: We're also following breaking news: 16 people have lost their lives after a U.S. military plane crashed in Mississippi. The FBI is on scene, trying to figure out what went wrong.

We have CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the breaking details.

Not a lot is known here except for the worst piece of information, which is over a dozen lost.


Sixteen souls lost on this Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft that crashed in Mississippi late yesterday. No details, because nobody knows what happened to it. It's not eve clear if the pilot was able to make a may-day call or give any signal that the plane was in distress.

The video from the ground, obviously, showing the wreckage, the flames, it crashing into some sort of field or apparent agricultural area.

This plane is a real work horse at the U.S. military. This version, this Marine Corps air frame is used for refueling aircraft sometimes but also hauls cargo, hauls troops. It is just one of the decades-old workhorses of the entire aviation fleet.

The Marine Corps now investigating. In several hours from now when they are able to contact all the family members, all the next of kin, sometime after that, we will learn the names of those who perished -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that's such a tragedy. Barbara, please keep us posted on that story. Thank you.

We also have other breaking news for you. Federal agents and police are investigating an explosion outside of an Air Force recruiting center in Bixby, Oklahoma. Witnesses tell local media that someone on a motorcycle threw a backpack at the recruiting center, which then blew up. The doors of the center clearly damaged, as you can see. No injuries are reported.

CUOMO: All right. So we have news of a potential advance in the health care situation. Senate Republicans are really getting desperate to get to a "yes" on health care reform. But what would be the basis of common ground? And is this becoming more about getting it done than what they get done? We're going to discuss the latest with our panel next.


[06:21:44] CUOMO: All right. So here's the latest information on the health care battle. Senate Republicans are not done with this. They're trying to get it to a vote next week. They believe they have a measure to repeal and replace. They're meeting for a lunch today. The question is: Can they get these ten remaining Republican senators who are against the current plan on board?

Let's bring back the panel: David Gregory, Errol Louis, and let's bring in CNN political analyst David Drucker. David Drucker, good to have you with us.

David Gregory, the urgency. How do you see this, in terms of balancing that urgency of getting something done with getting the right thing done?

GREGORY: The political imperative is so big here, which is from, you know, conservative Republicans, grassroots Republicans who are reminding members of Congress and their senators, "Look, this is why we sent you to Washington, to get rid of Obamacare. And even what you've been talking about in the Senate is more of Obamacare Lite." And not even having that supported means they're in the position of trying to hang the repeal sign on anything they do.

David Drucker and I were talking before we came on this morning. You know, in this kind of quiet period, you never want to count anything out from -- from being accomplished. But it seems a very difficult road.

And I think that what is particularly -- additionally difficult, I should say, is if their fallback position is that they work with some Democrats to get something done, I don't think Democrats are going to participate, as long as it's under the guise of any kind of repeal, as opposed to just fixing.

And I think that's the -- there are so many different interested parties here within the Republican camp. I don't see how they -- how they get them together in this amount of time.

CAMEROTA: Errol, here are the ten Republican senators currently voting "no" on the current incarnation of the health-care bill. You see all their faces and names up there. How are they going to vote on this this week? I mean, that was -- you know, Reince Priebus says that the president wants them to resolve this, to have health care in place before the August recess. There's also some reporting that they're going to vote on it this week. How is that going to go?

LOUIS: Well, I think what we've seen from Mitch McConnell is that, if they don't have the votes, they're not going to hold the vote. We saw them go from needing two to needing six, now needing ten. They wait any longer, the number could conceivably even change from there. The reality is, what the White House needs, what the Senate leadership

needs, what individual senators need are all sort of in different places. And the many -- it would be interesting to test the faces you just showed, with who's up for re-election next year? Not all of them really need this as badly as the White House seems to want it.

And again, you sort of have to put the big overlay on all of this. Yes, there's the promise that they all made to their constituents when they said that they were going to repeal and replace. But there's also this lurking, really big question about how to pay for the tax reform, the tax cuts that they want. The other big piece of legislation that was going to be funded by getting rid of a lot of the Obamacare subsidies. This is going to be a compounded problem. And we're going to see this roll forward.

CUOMO: And some of it is also -- some of it is specific. So you would think they would take care of that by giving something to that particular senator.

But some of it is more comprehensive, just in terms of what the basic philosophy is of who's being helped and who isn't in this. For example, Susan Collins, from Maine, the senator there, she has a bigger holistic issue with this. Listen to what she says.


[06:25:10] SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do need a complete overhaul in order to get to "yes." My hope is that we can avoid the mistake that President Obama made when he passed a major health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, without a single Republican vote. I don't want us to see us make the same mistake and pass an overhaul of the -- of the law without a single Democratic vote.


CUOMO: David Drucker, is that somewhat of a clarion call to Mitch McConnell to rethink the strategy here? Because if there are more Susan Collins out there, he's got a problem.

DRUCKER: Well, yes, and I think there are some Republicans that would like this to be bipartisan, because it gives them political cover. They remember keenly what happened to Democrats after the Obamacare law was passed. Democrats had to own it. They paid for it in two different midterm elections. I think Republicans are looking over their shoulder and thinking, "I don't want that to happen to me."

I think, though, Chris, the real sticking point here from a policy perspective, the thing that is really grinding the gears, is the Medicaid expansion. You know, when the Affordable Care Act was under development, under a Democratic House and Democratic Senate, among the things Republicans wholly agreed on, not just that they were opposed to the mandate to purchase insurance. They were opposed almost unanimously. In fact, they were unanimous in opposition to expanding Medicaid. For years, it's been a Republican policy that Medicaid needed to be reformed, whether it was block granted or -- or pared back in some fashion to account for the growth in spending and all the other entitlement programs.

Now, there's a split among Senate Republicans and, in fact, among House Republicans generally, with many wanting to keep the Medicaid expansion. In some cases, it's because of the opioid abuse issue.

But having said that, this is causing a real problem for them as they move forward and try to do something about this.

And then on the other hand, you have the political pressure which we've been talking about from the right, the fact that. if they don't repeal Obamacare, even if it's Obamacare light and it's a partial repeal, if there's one thing that Republican strategists who monitor the base tell me could get Republicans in trouble in 2018, even in a Senate election where the map is very favorable to the GOP, it's the idea that they weren't able to use their majorities to actually get done a major priority and campaign promise on such a high level. And so that is competing with the policy concerns of how health care could blow back at them if they don't get it right.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, here's what President Trump tweeted yesterday about this, about his dream for this: "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new health care bill fully approved and ready to go."

What has President Trump's role been in trying to wrangle this together?

CUOMO: Seems to be just driving the bus.

CAMEROTA: Is it? Or is he hands off the bus?

CUOMO: You're saying, like, "You're going to get thrown underneath it. Here comes the bus."

GREGORY: And the president's behind the wheel. The image that he's got this beautiful health care bill, and it's crystal, and he's shining it up in the Oval Office. And it should just be passed. That's the image in my head.

I actually think he's not that involved. I think he's -- he's just -- he's trying to urge them to do something. But from the beginning, he's never really driven this in a particular direction. And in some ways, he's upset conservatives, because he's taken a more pragmatic line about keeping enough of Obamacare. And that's what has alienated a lot of conservatives.

CUOMO: Yes, a Republican lawmaker said to me, "We need less 'me' and more 'we' out of the White House." And that tweet is evidence of that. He's putting it all on them. And that's fair. They are the lawmakers. But he needs to be with his team.

CAMEROTA: I've heard Chris Cuomo use that term. You sure that wasn't...

CUOMO: Surrender the "me" to the "we"?

CAMEROTA: ... Chris Cuomo?

CUOMO: Not yet.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, panel, very much.

So Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last summer with a Russian lawyer is getting a lot of attention from, now, congressional investigators. How significant is this development? We take a closer look next.