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Battle Rages for the Syrian City of Raqqa; Donald Trump Jr. Emails; President Trump Heads to Paris; Russian Pop Star Central To Trump Controversy; Scientists: Earth Entering Sixth Mass Extinction Event; Rufus The Hawk Becomes Fan Favorite At Wimbledon. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired July 12, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a CNN exclusive on the front lines as the battle rages for the Syrian city of Raqqa. Coalition forces pushing ISIS from their self-declared capital.
Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mail bombshell How they undermined the White House and questions now being asked if the president's son may have broken the law.
Also ahead: dire warnings. Scientists say the planet is entering a mass extinction event but it's not too late to act.
Hello, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
VAUSE: Now that ISIS has been defeated in Mosul, Iraq, the focus is on driving the terror group out of Raqqa in Syria, a military offensive that could take months, maybe longer. Just this week a U.S.-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, known as the SDF, breached the city's ancient wall. And CNN journalists were there. Here's Nick Paton Walsh with an exclusive report.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where it ends. ISIS's twisted idea was built on claiming their own state.
For now, ahead of us, there's just a few square miles of old city streets, an urban sprawl left of their capital Raqqa. The major threat on this street, we are being told, is from snipers, although these Syrian, Arab and Kurdish forces have pushed further inside the old city and now have positions past its historic old wall.
A few days he earlier, surgical coalition air strikes punched holes through these 1300 year old defenses. They say that I move forward in daylight because of ISIS snipers, but here they are literally 20 meters away from the historic old city wall of Raqqa, a milestone in the war to rid the Middle East of ISIS.
American special forces providing precision firepower from two miles down the road. Marked here where civilians were trapped perhaps as human shields.
"Some days ISIS has cut off water and everything," he says.
They told them to stay inside. If they go out they'll slaughter them.
We're the first journalists they take in. Over this side they said they're safe from sniper cover. And there is the old city wall right there. Something we just hear regularly throughout the time we're here. Targeting ISIS positions deeper inside Raqqa.
They are the foot soldiers in the global fight against ISIS fueled by hope of U.S. support for a Kurdish homeland nearby afterwards.
He didn't vote Trump here, but the White House has led this assault gather pace, whisking through three miles of Raqqa's outskirts in as many weeks to here. It is eerily empty. The one civilian we do see further out unable to speak, yet her story is in her blood shot eyes.
At least 50,000 other stories of loss and horror are now encircled inside Raqqa. Hostage to the question, when does ISIS's resolve to die finally break? Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Raqqa, Syria.
VAUSE: Joining me now is CNN military analyst, retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona. He is in Port Awford (ph) in Oregon.
Colonel, good to see you.
For the U.S., the focus is now clearly on Syria and liberating Raqqa.
Will that be taking services away from Iraq, even though ISIS still controls a small amount of territory west of Mosul?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think so and we're starting to see a lot of material being shifted from Iraq into Syria to be used in the battle, particularly these up-armored Humvees, which they need for the urban fighting in Raqqa now that fighting is fairly contained in Iraq.
There are several pockets left and the Iraqis have the capability to deal with that with not as much U.S. support. Now the U.S. support will continue but the focus has shifted to Raqqa. That is the next priority for the U.S.-led coalition. So you're going to see a lot more airpower, a lot more artillery and a lot more U.S. forces on the ground there to support that.
VAUSE: It's believed more than 2,000 militants right now in Raqqa.
Where's the rest?
FRANCONA: Well, that's very interesting. ISIS knew this was happening. This is not a surprise to them.
FRANCONA: They knew that the handwriting was on the wall in Mosul. They also knew it in Raqqa. So over the last few months, before the city was surrounded, they've been infiltrating a lot of their -- exfiltrating a lot of their forces into that Deir ez-Zor province, which is southeast of Raqqa.
That's where the final battle is going to take place. Hopefully, it's going to be the Iraqis coming from the east and the Syrians and the SDF from the west and bottle them up there in the Euphrates Valley.
And that's where the final stand will take place. That will be the final battle. And then of course, that just ushers in the next set of problems.
VAUSE: One of the problems, not necessarily to do with ISIS but to political tensions in the region, we've seen the U.S.-backed Kurdish- led forces, the SDF, make amazing progress in Raqqa.
But at the same time does that raise some tensions and concerns among the local Arab population about the Kurds and their future territorial ambitions?
FRANCONA: Yes, we're seeing a little bit concern among the Arabs in these towns, even in Raqqa. But if you read a lot of the literature, a lot of what little information comes out of Raqqa, the people in Raqqa are so sick of being under the ISIS rule that they're ready to be liberated by virtually anybody.
And the Kurds know this. And the SDF has taken steps to try and reassure the population that, once they kick ISIS out, they're going to come up with some sort of a local governing council to do that.
I don't think the SDF has real territorial demands on Raqqa as such. But they do want some sort of an autonomous Kurdish region. I don't think that's any secret and of course that's an issue the United States is going to have to address with NATO ally, Turkey.
VAUSE: Yes, as far as ISIS is concerned, one of the big selling points for them was this territory it was holding in Iraq as well as Syria. Now they've lost that or are about to lose that.
What are their plans essentially to keep their support after this overwhelming defeat?
FRANCONA: Well, we've seen what they're doing in Iraq. I assume they'll try and do the same thing in Syria. Although I don't think it would be as effective.
We're seeing a ratcheting up with their social media campaign. They're trying to convince the Sunnis in Iraq that they should continue to support what the new ISIS will be.
I suppose they'll revert to something like the Islamic State in Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq, from which ISIS sprung. And they're appealing to the Sunni population by trying to convince them that the Shia government in Baghdad is Iranian-dominated and they're not going to -- they're going to remain disenfranchised. And the Shia government is not going to look out for them and ISI, AQI, whatever it becomes, will.
And surprisingly, John, people are -- it resonates with a lot of Sunnis.
VAUSE: Yes. Clearly this is not the beginning of the end, end of the beginning, I think, is the saying.
Colonel, good to see you.
VAUSE: Thank you. Yes.
VAUSE: Donald Trump Jr. defending his meeting last year with a Russian lawyer. Critics, though, say this is the first concrete evidence the Trump campaign was willing to collude with Russia.
The emails show Trump Jr. was promised information from the Russian government which was meant to help his father's campaign. Trump Jr. says he released these emails to be transparent but he was also told they were about to be published by "The New York Times."
The e-mail exchange is with publicist Rob Goldstone, who told Trump Jr., quote, "The crown prosecutor of Russia" -- whatever that is -- "offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary Clinton and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
"This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The president's son has now given his first interview about this controversy and who else would he speak to but FOX News?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR. (R), SON OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.
And again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me this was opposition research. They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I had been hearing about that were probably under reported for years, not just during the campaign.
So, I think I wanted to hear it out, but really it went nowhere, it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was actually about. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and in Seattle, Washington, former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty.
So, Ron, first to you. Russia just seems to be the briar patch for this administration. It's notable there's been no tweet storm from the president about fake news, just a statement about Don Jr. being a good person.
These leaks are coming from within the White House and all this begs the question, is Don Jr. taking the fall?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, I think it, above all, it says to me that all the efforts of the president to say this is fake news, this is behind us, this is out, people have been looking forever, they haven't found anything, all of that really just goes up in smoke. I mean, I think above all, what this tells us, is there's still a lot that we don't know.
BROWNSTEIN: And our capacity to be surprised by what comes out is enormous. Just look at the way Donald Trump Jr.'s story changed over the course of three days and where you end up is with this extraordinary release of emails, which is I think most extraordinary for how ordinary it seems to him.
I mean, he gets an email that says someone is coming to you with information that is part of the Russian government's effort to help your father in his campaign. And your first reaction to that is essentially great. Let's have a meeting. There's no sense of surprise. There's no, what are you talking about?
This seems -- you know, he seems very nonplussed by the idea that the Russian government is trying to help his father.
So I think that begs the question of whether that idea had crossed his desk before.
And by the way, while we're speaking of tweeting, the former FBI director, James Comey, tweeted tonight and weighed in on this question and saying that what was reported here today, in his view, fit the textbook definition of collusion.
So many innings to go in this story.
VAUSE: And with that in mind, Jill, one of the big questions right now is how close is this Russian lawyer to the Kremlin. She insists the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., it was just a private matter. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump Jr., I met him in a private situation. It was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Jill, what do we know about Natalia Veselnitskaya -- I know you can say it better than me.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalia Veselnitskaya, she's very well connected. She has been working. She's about, I think, 42 years old. She's been working as a lawyer, representing some pretty high level people, especially in the Moscow regional government.
And that's a very powerful part of the Russian government. I mean, that is where -- Moscow is where all the foreign money comes in, where the deals are made and as it was growing, there's lot of real estate. And she's been involved in real estate, development of the suburbs, et cetera.
So she's really very well connected. Some of her clients are quite well connected and then she decided that she would work to try to get rid of the Magnitsky Act, and as we know, that's the United States act that created a blacklist for Russians who had violated human rights, rules and laws and angered President Putin very much with that law.
So I don't think it's really -- you can't say she's really a lawyer for the Kremlin. But she's a very well connected person.
VAUSE: What has been interesting is there's been a lot of criticism obviously but there's also been criticism from some over at FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's a hell of a defense to say that your collusion was incompetent and that it didn't work out.
The fact is that this is not just opposition research. These are not somebody coming out of the woodwork in Indiana with a story about the Clintons. This is a foreign power -- and not just any foreign power, an adversary foreign power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And CNN has learned the London editor-in-chief for the conservative website Breitbart wrote an internal message saying, "so like, this is straight up collusion, right?"
The final story on Breitbart covered the basic facts, did not go to the mattresses for Donald Jr.
So, Ron, how long before this Russia story starts to resonate with those hardcore Donald Trump supporters?
BROWNSTEIN: You know, I say, I'm glad you asked that question. As you look in today, the history of public opinion polling and it is very hard to peel away a president's own party from that president. It's happened very rarely. Richard Nixon, for example, did not fall under 50 percent approval
among Republicans until, virtually, the day he resigned in 1974.
So, if Republican elected officials are waiting for a cavalry call from the base of the party to kind of stand up and demand a more thorough accounting, they've been willing to stand up for it. It's probably not going to come for a very long time if ever.
Ultimately, the question, I think, here is really among less from the bottom up from the top down. Whether these leaders in the Republican Party -- I think that, you know, the message of this first month of the Trump presidency is there may not be a bottom in what you are asked to defend on many, many different fronts; this foremost among them.
And I think the question more is going to be: is that leadership willing to take a more aggressive posture in looking for real answers?
You hear, you know, flailing whispers of it, flares of it, but no systematic pressure yet from Republicans in Congress. More of a defense and an attempt to kind of shift the focus back to their agenda. That's going to have to be the pivot if this --
BROWNSTEIN: -- dynamic is going to change.
VAUSE: And, Jill, this undercuts the administration's line when it comes to Russian collusion.
Where does it lead the repeated Kremlin denials when it comes to Russian interference in last year's election?
DOUGHERTY: Absolutely a great question because President Putin, over and over again, has said, show us the proof. In other words, you don't have any.
And now, here is proof, at least, the administration or Don Trump Jr. thought that he was going to get incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, which was coming from Russian sources and the source of that was the Russian government.
So, all of a sudden, as I was looking tonight on the Russian Web site's for this story, it's not being covered very much at all. There are some references to it but very, very little. I think it's a very hard type of story for the Kremlin to deal with, or to explain.
VAUSE: Well, clearly the Democrats see this as a smoking gun. Listen to Senator Warner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: These facts that have shown in the last 24 hours that there clearly was a Russian government effort to discredit Clinton and to help Trump.
And that Trump official at the most senior level was aware of that?
How high that goes?
We've still got questions to ask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And you know, one thing which is interesting on the same day that Donald Trump Jr. finalized the meeting with the Russian lawyer that was last June 7th, last year. His father secured the nomination and then, Donald Trump made this promise at a campaign stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on, probably, Monday of next week and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it informative and very, very interesting.
I didn't need to do this. It's not easy, believe me. I didn't need to do it. But I felt I had to give back to our wonderful country, which has been so good to me and to my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, Ron, you can spend all day connecting the dots that are out there, there are a lot of dots and you can send yourself insane, really.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, as I said before, I think, to me and to many, what's most extraordinary about these e-mails is how ordinary the idea that the Russian government is trying help Donald Trump seems to Donald Trump Jr.
It doesn't bat an eyebrow at that suggestion and rather, immediately, is thinking about how to leverage it for the biggest political advantage.
I think the other question that Senator Warner left out is not only how high this goes, but how broadly, how wide this goes. Because, this, while coming clearly under the umbrella of a Russian effort to help the candidate, Trump, is around a fairly narrow set of questions.
It does not, at least on the last information we have so far, which is probably not the last war we're going to have in this meeting.
At least on the information we have so far does not yet implicate the question of either the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's e-mail and or which I think is also an important area of investigation that the role of Russian agencies in spreading fake news and you know, misleading news stories targeted into key states in the U.S. election.
And whether they had any help in deciding where from Moscow to target those efforts. I mean, those are, in many ways, the broader questions that most of the public is still focused on. This meeting at this point does not yet address that.
But one thing I feel pretty confident about is that, as these stories have shifted, it's just under the glare of the news media. Once people start testifying under oath and documents are subpoenaed, it is likely our understanding of what happened in that initial meeting is going to be different at the end than it is today.
VAUSE: You know, Jill, just back to that promise of the press conference to deliver the, you know, the information on Hillary Clinton and all the bad stuff she has done. That, you know, that news conference never happened, was never held by Donald Trump.
Even if this Russian lawyer had no information, some have suggested it could've been a typical Kremlin play to see if the Trump campaign was at least open to the idea of working with the Russian government.
In a very broad sense, does that ring true?
DOUGHERTY: Yes, I think it could. There's no question, that maybe they wanted to just find out whether the, you know, the campaign was interested in something or would be interested. What is a little weird is they offer something and then they don't provide it. That is a little strange.
When you listen to the interview with Natalia, she seems to think she was going to Donald Trump Jr. for some type of help and help maybe in getting rid of the Magnitsky Act that was highly political. So in a sense, you could see maybe that is what she wanted to do.
But, you know, was this a test?
Was this just kind of trying to find out something about the campaign or did they actually feel that, you know, maybe that was the first foray and they could have more with Donald Trump Jr.?
He seemed very --
DOUGHERTY: -- eager to get more information.
BROWNSTEIN: And real quick, John, I mean, not only him, he brought in Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. Nobody expressed concern about talking to someone that was presented as an agent of the Russian government, whether it was an overstatement or not.
And none of them contacted the FBI or did anything like that. So all of them, at least expressed a willingness to talk, whether or not they knew what the purpose of the meeting was before they walked in the door, they heard it once they got there. And none of them kind of ran from the room raising concerns.
VAUSE: OK. And with that, we are out of time but good to have you both with us on a night like tonight because you have unique expertise on this. Thanks to you both.
And U.S. president Donald Trump will be leaving his political problems at home when he heads to Paris for a state visit. When he gets there, he'll be greeted by demonstrations and protests.
VAUSE: Welcome back.
Donald Trump Jr. is defending his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign, saying he just wanted to talk. A series of emails explains the president's son met with the attorney because he was promised incriminating information about Hillary Clinton and that the information was part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump, his dad.
So far this week, President Trump has held no public events. It will be the same on Wednesday. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump is expected to hold a joint news conference after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. Safe to assume he will face at least a few questions about his son's meeting with that Russian lawyer.
Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann joins us now from Paris with more on Donald Trump visit to France.
You know, Jim, just last week, it seemed Europe had abandoned Donald Trump over disagreements about climate change, immigration. The question here, is Macron trying to end Donald Trump's isolation or, at the very least, prove he can have a working relationship with the American president?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, in effect what the government spokesman said here the other day was just that, is that Macron would like to extend a hand to Donald Trump and not to back him into a corner and make him feel like he's excluded in international affairs.
And so they're going to be emphasizing the positive, no doubt, when the two men meet tomorrow afternoon, there's certainly plenty of disagreements. As you mentioned, the climate change being perhaps prime among them but also other things, too, policies on Iran and the Middle East, places where they disagreed.
They agreed, though, on things like security issues and fighting terrorism. So there will be some ground for agreement. But it's going to, I think, a chance, for Trump, at least 24 hours, for President Trump to get away from the Washington morass --
BITTERMANN: -- except for that press conference, where he's going to probably face from the White House press corps a number of tough questions.
The two men here will be mainly celebrating France's grandeur, as they say. They're going to be taking part in the Bastille Day parade on the 14th and Trump will be in the reviewing stand for that.
And the night before, they're going to be having dinner together. The presidents and their wives will be having dinner together in the Eiffel Tower, prestigious location for a dinner.
And so it will be a chance for President Trump to bask in the reflected glory of a young president of France -- John.
VAUSE: Yes, Trump may have Mar-a-lago in Florida but Macron has the Jules Verne Restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.
When Donald Trump does arrive, though, in Paris, he will be greeted by protesters.
What are police expecting in terms of the size and scope of those demonstrations?
BITTERMANN: Well, there are expected to be demonstrations. It's difficult to say at this point exactly how big they'll be. But no doubt Trump's policies have sort of sparked the demonstrators here, especially the ecologists, for example, who are dead-set opposed to the United States dropping out of the climate change agreement.
And for the left wing here who are upset about the way Donald Trump has outlined his policy of exclusion of immigrants to the United States. So there's a number of forces here that are not necessarily going to band together.
There's also a demonstration by Americans in Paris meant to take place tomorrow afternoon. So there's a number of different people who are will be protesting.
The police are going to be out in force. They've mobilized about 11,000 police and security operatives to maintain security during their visit. Hopefully to avoid the kind of thing that was seen during the G20 meetings in Hamburg, where things got out of control.
But you never know. Demonstrations here do have a tendency to turn violent at some points along the line -- John.
VAUSE: The American president did call for unity and he is bringing people together.
Jim, thank you, Jim Bittermann, live in Paris.
And it is time now for a quick break. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, we'll meet the Russian pop star at the center of the controversy surrounding Donald Trump's son.
Also, CNN caught up with the Russian lawyer who met with Don Jr.
What does she have to say about their encounter?
More on that in a moment.
[02:30:14] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines.
Donald Trump Jr. is defending his meeting with a Russian lawyer last year, told by getting damaging information on Hillary Clinton. He released e-mails to say which claimed the information was part of Russia and its government support to his father who is now the U.S. president.
Meantime, Donald Trump arrived in Paris on Thursday where he could actually face questions about his son's meeting with that Russian lawyer. Mr. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will probably joint news conference later in the day. Early this hour expected to try and find common ground after disagreeing on issues like climate change and immigration.
Qatar is promising to fight terrorism and stop those who finance it in a new agreement signed with a U.S. A number of Gulf States have isolated Qatar for over a month now accusing the country supporting terrorism. Thursday they say the agreement is a good first step but not enough to ease their concerns.
So, with a reality T.V. star in the White House perhaps on entirely a surprise over Russian pop singer is playing a key role in the latest Trump controversy. His name is Emin Agalarov and he recently posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the caption, finally, sunshine, what news.
He and his father have been in the news quite a bit for their tie to the U.S. president. Here is CNN's Ivan Watson.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Believe it or not this pop music video is at the center of a political controversy that's riling Washington. A Russian pop star, miss universe contestants and a celebrity cameo.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's wrong with you Emin? You're fired.
(voice-over): The Russian pop star Emin is now one of a colorful collection of Trump associates linked to a controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. Trump Jr. says, he met the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya for the first time June 9th, 2016 in New York. She spent years lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, U.S. legislation that punishes Russians implicated in human rights abuses and corruption.
She promoted this documentary film aimed at undermining the law. Veselnitskaya meeting with Trump Jr. organized by Rob Goldstone a British P.R. agent in the music industry, and once a judge on the Trump owned Miss USA Beauty Pageant.
Goldstone told CNN Veselnitskaya stated she quote, Had some information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the DNC which she believed Mr. Trump Jr. might find important. In an interview Tuesday, Veselnitskaya denied working for the Russian government.
Goldstone says he set up the meeting at the request of his client, the singer named Emin. Emin partnered with Trump in hosting the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in Moscow in 2013. A year later, Trump sent Emin a video message on his birthday.
TRUMP: You're a winner. You're a champ. You're great at real estate and boy, can you entertain.
(voice-over): Emin boasted of his close ties to the Trumps last year on Russian State T.V.
EMIN AGALAROV, RUSSIAN POP STAR (through translator): His daughter, Ivanka was in this office two years ago when we discussed the Trump Tower project. I met many times with the sons, Eric and Donald. We message each other constantly.
(voice-over): In addition to music, Emin is an executive at Crocus Group, a real estate company run by his billionaire father Aras Agalarov. The patriarch is an associate of Trump. This Trump tweet in 2013 suggests they had plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The billionaire Russian businessman also has ties to the Kremlin. In 2013 he received a medal of honor from Vladimir Putin. In e-mails published by Trump Jr., Goldstone wrote that the father met with a Russian prosecutor and wanted to share sensitive information to help Trump's campaign. Now, these alleged attempts to meddle in U.S. politics may have landed this Russian businessman in hot water.
TRUMP: What's wrong with you Emin? Emin --
VAUSE: And CNN's Matthew Chance managed to track down the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump's son says she offered no compromising information about Hillary Clinton despite e-mails showing that Donald Trump, Jr. was keen to accept sensitive information from her.
Natalia Veselnitskaya says she arranged the meeting which took place at Trump Tower in New York last June to lobby for the repeal of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian officials accused of corruption and human rights abuses. The Kremlin banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children in retaliation, which she also wants overturned. [02:35:14] Well, we caught up with Veselnitskaya as the explosive e- mails sent to Trump Jr. by a British music publicist to arrange the meeting were made public. Take a listen.
CHANCE: Was it real it the Kremlin that sent you to lobby to Trump?
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN ATTORNEY (through translator): Just a second. When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump, Jr., I met him in a private situation. It was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
And the whole story which I had was spelled out. It was the same for everyone, including for Donald Trump, Jr., who having listened to my story didn't understand based on our conversation how he could help me.
CHANCE: Is that what it was? A way of getting a meeting? Was that -- was it a way? Was it a way? Is that why?
So, Veselnitskaya denies offering compromising information to the Trump campaign, and being sent to New York on the orders of the Russian government. The Kremlin also denies any connection with this lawyer, saying they don't even know who she is.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
VAUSE: When Donald Trump Jr. posted those e-mails on Twitter, many were less stunned. A brief almost universal jaw dropping moment which is quickly followed by a lot of legal experts by a mean the president's son may have committed a crime. But exactly, what law could he have broken?
A closer look at the legal jeopardy facing Trump Jr., CNN contributor and former ethics down at the Obama Administration, Neil Mason, joins us now from Washington. Neil, it's always god to see you.
NEIL MASON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: John, nice to be here again.
VAUSE: OK. Let's look at the big picture first specifically with regards to what we now know in those e-mails about from Donald Trump Jr., do those e-mails relate to perjury, violation of campaign finance laws or, you know, some have even suggested possibly treason?
MASON: Well, John, when I was in law school, they used to give us for examinations complicated hypotheticals that potentially implicated a variety of laws and this is one. The e-mails of course show Donald Trump Jr. embracing an offer which the e-mails indicate, are coming from the Russian government to help the Trump campaign and hurt the Hillary campaign.
The most likely criminal violation that's shown and it's still too soon to say if there was a violation. But the most likely is a campaign finance law violation. That's because under U.S. law, campaigns are not allowed to solicit help from foreign governments or foreign individuals in the form of contributions whether that's contributions of cash or what we call in-kind contributions. So there is a serious issue there. And there are a variety of other legal questions as well.
VAUSE: OK. So, with the campaign finance Lawrence Meyers specifically June 3rd last year. The e-mails show that Trump Jr. was promised information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be useful to your father. And that was in one of the e-mails. And just to avoid any doubt whether information was coming from the e-mail is going to say, this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.
Seventeen minutes later, Donald Jr. replies, if it's what you say, I love it especially later in the summer. So explain why that is so significant.
MASON: Well, from a campaign finance law perspective and a variety of other perspectives as well. What you have is a foreign government saying, hey, we're going to help. This is evidence of the much talked about collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It's not this positive evidence. It's not final evidence. But it's another piece in the puzzle. And potentially could see some serious penalties levied, including criminal ones.
VAUSE: OK. Getting back to the campaign finance laws and in particular what it means to receive something a value, essentially there seems to be an exemption here. That same law goes on to say, 'the value of services provided without compensation by any individual who volunteers on behalf of a candidate or a political committee is not a contribution.
[02:40:06] Some have sort of argued that maybe this means information offered up is not something a value and that might be the exemption for Donald Trump Jr.
MASON: Well, certainly the argument has been made. I think the better view. The majority view is that that exception is not intended to cover opposition research or other dirty tricks by a foreign government. Think about it, John. If it were, it would be a loophole large enough to drive a truck through. You'll have candidates soliciting foreign government help all over the world.
So the law is not -- there's an argument about it. But the majority view is that that exception does not apply in this case.
VAUSE: OK. Last month President Trump twitted out this, the reason that President Obama did nothing about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to rock the boat. He didn't choke. He colluded or obstructed. And it did the dems and crooked Hillary no good. Could the president come to regret that tweet? He's essentially saying collusion is knowing that something illegal is going on and doing nothing to stop it.
MASON: I do think that when the history of the age of the Trumps is written, it'll show that Twitter did them some good but did them a lot of harm. In those tweets, Donald Trump Sr. is essentially implicating Donald Trump Jr. after the information we have today.
President Trump has done plenty in his Twitter account to harm himself, including creating evidence of the obstruction of justice charges that are now being investigated reportedly in connection with the president's firing of Jim Comey. Now, we have tweets that may come back to harm President Trump's son.
Neil, as always good to see you and I'm sure we will speak again before it's too long.
MASON: Thanks for having me, John.
VAUSE: A year on since she became British Prime Minister, Theresa May is now attempting a kind of re-launch. Mrs. May has faced widespread criticism within her party after a gamble on an early election backfired. This speech Tuesday she said, she recognizes voter's frustrations.
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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: A clear understanding that E.U. referendum result was not just a vote to leave The European Union but a deeper and more profound call for change across our country. I believe that at the heart of that change must lay a commitment to greater fairness in our country as we tackle the in justices and best of interests that threaten to hold us backed and make Britain a country that it works for everybody, not just the privileged few.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Mrs. May is looking to show up her position as prime minister before publishing the great repeal bill on Thursday. The legislation is a critical first step to replacing European law in the United Kingdom.
Just a few hours from now, Spain's king and queen will begin a state visit to the U.K. the first for Spanish monarch in 31 years. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will greet them with a ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards parade. Later they will attend a state banquette at Buckingham Palace.
Well coming up, a new study with the catastrophic outlook for the world's wildlife, why scientist think the planet might just be in the midst or a mass extinction event.
[02:46:03] VAUSE: Well, scientists are warning that the earth is entering its sixth mass extinction event. A comprehensive new study found that nearly one-third of the planets land based vertebrate species were rapidly disappearing. Researchers placed the blame mostly on human contributions to climate change including fossil fuel emissions and habitat destruction. Well, more on this, joining us now via Skype, Paul Ehrlich. He is the president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. Paul, thanks for being with us. You know, over the past 500 years the earth has seen five mass extinctions. Your study finds number six though stands out for some very bad reasons.
PAUL EHRLICH, PRES., CTR FOR CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, STANDFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, the last one was about 66 million years ago, long before there were people when we kissed goodbye to the dinosaurs, except for the birds.
Now, human beings are causing, this is the first time we've had a mass extinction caused by a knowledgeable agent doing the extinction. We know the last one was an asteroid hitting the earth. Now it's just human over population and over consumption.
And the sad thing is of course, we are utterly dependent on the plants, animals and the micro organisms of the planet and wiping them out is the equivalent of sawing off the limb we're sitting on. And that is it's pushing us towards the collapse of civilization because of the essential services that we depend on from those other organisms. It's a dangerous situation.
VAUSE: You know the numbers are seemed so incredibly bleak. In the last 40 years, which is in my lifetime, 50 percent of the wildlife on this planet has been wiped out. Is one of the problems here simply trying to get people to understand the scope and the extent of this crisis?
EHRLICH: Yes. And not only is it trying to get people to understand it, but trying to get politicians to understand it, to take the actions that we need to preserve this life support systems for our grandchildren and for me for a great grandchildren.. So, it's a gigantic problem. It's largely political and economic.
As long as we feel that we can grow forever, you know, the average economist lives in a magical world in which they think you can grow forever on a finite planet. And we're quickly seeing in the climate situation which is similar and tide to the extinction situation that we can't grow forever on a finite planet without suffering catastrophic consequences.
But unhappily, of course, I just going to say, we're living in a country governed by thugs, ignorant people who have only their self interest. And things are going backward. In other words, we're seeing the EPA which was too weak destroyed. We're seeing the Endangered Species Act also too weak but something being attacked now by the administration. So, it's a grim situation where the people who should be doing something about it are actually making it worse.
VAUSE: Paul, very quickly, we run out of time. There is some debate if the mass extinction event has begun over on the verge it happening if we don't change what we're doing about how we're treating this planet, will that be a distinction without a difference.
EHRLICH: Yes. Exactly. There's no question at all that we're well into it both in loss of species and what we did in the paper. We have loss of populations. For example, if we still had honey bees in Africa but they gone extinct to North America. That would costs us about $18 billion a year and a much depressed diet, although, we would have loss the species. It's a lost of populations that supplies us with the services we demand. That's the critical issue and that's going on in a horrendous rate.
VAUSE: Paul, thank you so much for us for being with us. Thank you for the study. It's important. You also note and say, it's not too late, things can change and all is not lost at this point. Paul, but thank you so much.
EHRLICH: Absolutely. My pleasure.
[02:50:05] VAUSE: Well, we haven't killed off all the white humpback whales because one was spotted off the Gold Coast in Australia. Her name is Migaloo, spotted at the Gold Coast area, making an annual migration towards the Great Barrier Reef. And everyone thought it was really good.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I come all the way from Ireland and it's worth every mile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thrilled to see mystical Migaloo, just so thrilled. Mission accomplished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Migaloo making the annual trip along with hundreds of other humpbacks to mate and carve in warmer waters.
Also coming up, Paris and Los Angeles are in the race to host the 2024 Olympics. But the losing city actually gets a consolation prize. And we will explain.
VAUSE: Well, Paris and Los Angeles are certainly now to host the Summer Olympics in 2024 and 2028. They'll just have to work out who would get which year. The International Olympic Committee broke its tradition awarding two games at the same time. French President Emmanuel Macron was in Switzerland for the vote.
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EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): The values that olympism represents which these games precisely allow us to develop are our values. They're threatened, challenged by many today. So, this is the best time to defend them. These values of openness, tolerance, justice, disrespect for the environment. We have had many questions on this subject. This is what the Paris bid defends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, President Trump Donald Trump meanwhile has publically backed L.A.'s bid. He met with the IOC's president last month.
The men's quarter finals at Wimbledon will get underway in just a few hours. Scottish hero and defending champion Andy Murray takes on American Sam Querrey. Well, seventh-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer will take center court.
And history was made at the All England Lawn Tennis Club on Tuesday. Johanna Konta became the first British woman to advance to the semifinals since 1978, and she will face five-time Wimbledon champ, Venus Williams on Thursday.
So, when it comes to tradition, it's hard to beat Wimbledon with strawberries and cream with tennis whites. And there's one player that seems to come back every year. He's injured, always wins. Here's our Christina Macfarlane.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the court where many historic battles have been won and lost, Sampras against Agassi, Venus against Serena Williams, and Nadal versus Federer. But throughout it all, there's been one player who's ruled the roost. And his name is Rufus, the real hawk eye of center court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rufus's job, he is the chief pigeon carrier here at Wimbledon. We're here all year round, but we start at 5:00 every morning during the championship to scare away any pigeons that may be interested in eating the grass seed and therefore interrupting play in the middle is a really important point.
MACFARLANE: Pigeons have been a pesky problem at Wimbledon for decades. But thanks to Rufus, gone are the days when these feathery thieves needs flatter down and disrupt play.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 1999 when he first joined. And that it was -- we were seeing on the television and the pigeons were being batted away from baseline. And they just kept coming back in again. You know how persistent pigeons can be. And they don't know the difference between -- whether there's a match going on and when there isn't. So, that was kind of really crucial point. And that's when they kind of go in touch and that we can have pretty good situation.
MACFARLANE: Now, Rufus is a firm fixture on center court and a celebrity in his own right with fans liking to see him both on and off the court.
[02:55:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like his agent. He's met Andy Murray. He's met Nadal. And we a chat to Boris back the other day.
MACFARLANE: How many Twitter followers does he have?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With nearing 10,000.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So 10,000 for his 10th anniversary I think is a good number.
MACFARLANE: Here he comes. I want it nice and strong.
As I got to grips with the basics of falconry, we received word that Rufus's biggest fan arrived had at Wimbledon, and he wasn't difficult to spot. I absolutely love the detail that you've got on (INAUDIBLE) outfit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So first down here, we have the leggings for Rufus's legs, you know, the classic sort of bird legs. And then this big part up here, this was made from -- in Denmark. Finally, this was an old bomber hat, a vintage hat and I took and I painted it. Actually, if you look at his hat, this is exactly like --
MACFARLANE: The same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I added a little dazzle to with it.
MACFARLANE: A little twinkle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. A little twinkle.
MACFARLANE: All that effort certainly paid off when the two hawks came face to face in the queue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess he was like looking at the feathers to try to decide if I was a real bird or not, and then we flew off together.
MACFARLANE: As they say, birds of a feather stick together. And this year, Rufus has a mate for life.
Christina Macfarlane, CNN, Wimbledon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, it is Britain. OK. Sometimes, you have no choice but to rely on the kindness of strangers like at Panama City in Florida this past weekend when beach-goers formed a human change to save nine people swept out to sea in a rip tide. How many, about 70 to 80 strangers linked arms and for more than an hour worked together helping the swimmers safely back to shore.
Well, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. The news continues with Max Foster in London after a short break. You're watching CNN.
[03:00:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. President's oldest son reveals e-mails that show he was offered information on Hillary Clinton from a lawyer tied to the --