Return to Transcripts main page
White House Under Siege After Emails Bombshell; American League Wins 5th Straight All Star Game; Interview with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired July 12, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:32:32] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump Jr. is in fix mode, breaking his silence on FOX News, an outlet obviously friendly to the Trump administration.
Moments ago, President Trump tweeting his support. My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest witch hunt in political history. Sad.
Also sad that the president continues to ignore what is so obvious and made obvious by his own son. It ain't a witch hunt. It is real by his son's own emails.
Let's talk strategy here with CNN media analyst Bill Carter and CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.
So, how will they deal with this? Instead of the president and his people putting their arms around the Russia investigation and saying, boy, these are bad guys, look what they did, look what they did to my own son, there's supposedly something else.
Philip Rucker, "The Washington Post", winds up writing a piece saying there's a different strategy. Attack those who report on it. We have an excerpt from the piece.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He says: A handful of Republican operatives close to the White House are scrambling to Trump Jr.'s defense and have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter. Their plan, as one member of the team described it, is to research the reporter's previous work, in some cases going back years and to exploit any mistakes or perceived biases. They intend to demand corrections, trumpet errors on social media and feed them to conservative outlets such as FOX News.
So, Brian, I can just -- I can just hear what the Trump supporters who I interview all the time would say about this is, which is good, why does the White House have to be perfect and you all don't have to be perfect? And when you all get it wrong, it's fine, but when Don Jr. makes a mistake, you go after him, like the sharks that you are.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, low standards from everybody, right? Hearing that reporting from "The Washington Post", my reaction was, these operatives are five days late. This story is not over, but the details of Don Jr.'s e-mails, that's, of course, exposed. The e-mails have been published. There's no need to discredit the journalists because Don Jr.'s confirmed all "The New York Times" reporting in his own words.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: There's no dispute now with the evidence. The evidence is in his own words. It's not the unofficial or unspoken sources, but attacking the media.
CAMEROTA: But, Bill, this was nothing -- nothing came out of it. You hear them in the studio, there's nothing, nothing came out of it. So, all us journalists who keep creating this firestorm, they're going to go after.
[06:35:03] STELTER: But attacking the media does create a counter- narrative.
CUOMO: Oh, yes.
STELTER: The president is tweeting during this segment, creating a counter-narrative, attacking the media. Why we just say about sources?
CUOMO: There are different levels of responsibility here. We'll deal with the president first. Him calling this a witch hunt, when clearly it isn't, unless his son made this all up. If he didn't make it all up, then we see that there was an effort on the part of someone who thought they were acting for the Russian government to try to infiltrate his campaign.
A new tweet from the president. Remember, when you hear the words sources say from the fake media, oftentimes those sources are made up and do not exist.
STELTER: Let's be -- why don't we address the president?
STELTER: That's not true. We don't make up sources, Mr. President. Who is telling you we do? I would love to know who is telling him.
CARTER: That's a fireable thing. If you make up a source, you're fired.
CAMEROTA: It's so shocking when that happens, it becomes a national story.
STELTER: Bill, you worked at "The New York Times" when Jayson Blair happened.
CAMEROTA: We all know Jayson Blair's name.
CARTER: He was fired.
STELTER: It was a national scandal because he made up sources.
CUOMO: And also, look, see it for what it is. See it for what it is. When they were running with the story a few days ago about Comey having confidential information in his memos, right, which wound up being selectively accurate, what was it? Unnamed sources.
The White House couldn't trumpet the stories enough. Unnamed sources were fine then, but not fine here. What is the difference? One they like, one they don't.
If he's going to have to go after media here, he has to start with "The New York Post", because in their editorial, they do something that I would argue is inappropriate, they go to the personal and called Donald Trump Jr. an idiot, and say that this was criminal stupidity.
So, I guess if you're going to attack the people reporting on it, start with your friends at "The Post."
STELTER: The context, of course, being, this is the president's favorite tabloid. He grew up with this paper. He reads this paper all the time.
CARTER: It's significant because Rupert Murdoch who runs it is very close to him and has been an unofficial adviser.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but back to Don Jr. for a second. So, you watched the Hannity interview last night. So, what did you think? I mean, how did he come a off?
STELTER: I thought Hannity actually asked a lot of important news- making questions. There's still a lot more that journalists would have asked. But I do think we got to the root of Don Jr.'s defense which is naivete, right?
STELTER: Political inexperience.
STELTER: He says he may have other meetings with Russians, but if so, he didn't tell us that.
CAMEROTA: But isn't that valid? He is a political neophyte.
CARTER: He is. CAMEROTA: He was like, oh, you have something juicy for me. He
didn't know, I mean, it sounds like he's saying to call the FBI right away. He's never been in politics.
CARTER: The note said basically you know that we support your father, et cetera. And all along, they've been denying this right and left. And he came on, how many times did he come on the air and said, we had no meetings, it's garbage, it's disgusting. And it happened. So, his credibility is completely shot.
CUOMO: He changed his story, OK? That's a credibility issue. Also, wasn't the only person on the e-mails who knew about it. Jared Kushner. So, now --
STELTER: This is not a Don Jr. scandal.
CUOMO: He's at one of the highest levels of advising the president. And we're supposed to excuse this because we doesn't know what he's doing?
Paul Manafort, a man I respect and who deserves respect. He's had his own problems, but certainly not a political neophyte. So, that defense gets strained very quickly.
CAMEROTA: So, they were on all the e-mails that Don Jr. --
CUOMO: They were aware of what was going on. Look, they will say, we had no idea what this was, we just walked into it. But we don't know that that's true.
We also don't know what people are saying is push back in the focus group and other places is, but nothing came of it. We don't know that.
CARTER: We don't know that and we do know they didn't report it. We know they didn't go to the FBI. We know they didn't own up to it.
CUOMO: And Kushner changed his decision closure form when this e-mail chain came up in his preparation. So, to your question, how do we know they were on the e-mails, during Jared Kushner's preparation for this, the reporting is that these e-mails were discovered. So, ostensibly, if they were discovered as part of Jared's prep, he must have had a role or exposure to them.
CAMEROTA: Or, maybe he's disclosed, oh, yes, I was in a meeting.
CUOMO: He did, that's exactly what he said.
CAMEROTA: Right. So, then they dug into it.
All right. There's a lot that we need to still discuss. Thank you, gentlemen. We're out of time.
CUOMO: But the headline winds up being clear. Don't attack the investigation. There's some real things to follow up. Look what was done to your son. All right. So, let's change topics for a second. Breathe in, breathe
out. The American League baseball trying for its fifth straight win in the all-star game. They needed extra inning heroics to do it. We will give you the moments that matter, next.
[06:43:31] CUOMO: All right. So, the best in baseball took the field in Miami last night for the all-star game.
Andy Scholes has the highlights.
Extra innings for "The Bleacher Report."
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Chris.
You know, for the first time in more than a decade, the all-star game not deciding who has home-field advantage in the World Series. That's going back to what has the best record in the regular season.
Now, Yankee superstar Aaron Judge, he's unable to keep up the momentum after winning the home run derby on Monday. He went 0 for 3 in the game last night.
The funniest moment from the night came in the sixth inning. Nelson Cruz comes to the plate with his cellphone, asked umpire Joe West to take a picture. You see Yadier Molina squatting down to do that.
The game would go to extra innings, and Nelson Cruz's teammate, Robinson Cano, hitting a solo in the tenth. That ended up being the game winner. The American League wins for the fifth straight time, final 2-1.
All right. For the first time ever, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor meeting face-to-face ahead of their mega bout on August 26. McGregor taking plenty of shots at reports that Mayweather owes the IRS more than $22 million.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONOR MCGREGOR, UFC FIGHTER: He's in a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) track suit. He can't even afford a suit anymore. His little legs, his little core, his little head, I'm going to knock him out inside four rounds. Mark my words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right. You might think McGregor looks sharp wearing pinstriped suit. Well, those aren't actually pinstripes. They are words. I can't say on TV. Alisyn, if you want to know what it says, head over to bleacherreport.com.
[06:45:03] CAMEROTA: I'm scared. But I didn't know that boxing was just yelling at each other and sort of roasting each other. I could do that.
SCHOLES: The best part.
CUOMO: It's one of the things that's rejuvenated the sport.
CAMEROTA: Is that right?
CUOMO: Conor McGregor, his ability to trash talk in this is an event in and of itself. And often, he winds up getting in a fight at those things. This is kind of the evolution of the marriage of those two sports, like it wasn't violent. But I'm telling you, this is going to be a fight that everyone you know who doesn't watch fighting, they're going to watch the fight.
CAMEROTA: I believe you. You have opened my eyes to it where I'm now excited for August 26th. So, thank you.
CUOMO: It's going to be a big night.
CAMEROTA: All right. So, will Donald Jr. be called to testify before the Senate? A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee joins us live with reaction to all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S SON: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. 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 underreported for years, not just during the campaign. So, I think I wanted to hear it out.
But really, it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was actually a about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK, that's Donald Trump Jr. speaking publicly for the first time last night about his meeting with that Russian attorney. The Department of Justice is investigating this as Don Jr. insists he did nothing illegal.
So, joining us is Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the committees investigating Russia's election meddling.
Good morning, Senator.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So, listen, the way this meeting has been described has been the gamut from nothingburger which we hear on the right, to approaching treason which we've heard on the left. So, how do you categorize it?
COONS: Well, I think it's important that we all take a deep breath, continue our investigations, make sure we get the facts straight and understand this in the broader legal context.
This is a striking development in that Donald Trump Jr. received e- mails in which he was proffered, he was told he might receive directly from a Russian government attorney, that's at least what the e-mail said, information from a hostile power, Russia, that was seeking to help his father win the presidential election, about his father's campaign opponent.
Just on the face of it, that forces aside all the things that have been said by Trump campaign officials and the White House that there was no interaction with Russians that was inappropriate.
[06:55:09] There was no attempt at collusion. This lays all that bare because his enthusiasm for this meeting and his lack of surprise to get an e-mail that saying that the Russian government was trying to help his dad win the election, are both pretty striking.
I think what needs to happen next is that Bob Mueller who is conducting an independent investigation should pursue these leads appropriately. And then as much as we can without causing any interference with Bob Mueller's investigation, both Senate Judiciary and Senate Intelligence Committees who have good bipartisan on going investigations should get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can.
CAMEROTA: Well, Senator, you're playing it safer than Senator Tim Kaine is. Let me play for you how he categorized this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: This question of collusion which essentially starts to transition this into potentially a treason investigation, when he was approached with this idea, he should have turned it over to law enforcement immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Is Senator Tim Kaine going too far with bringing up treason?
COONS: Well, Tim Kaine is absolutely right that what Donald Trump Jr. should have done is hand this over to law enforcement. He tries to throw this off Donald Trump Jr. as just opposition research, as the sort of thing that is routine in a campaign. Anybody who comes with damaging information about your opponent, you meet with them. But this is of a different kind.
CAMEROTA: But is it treason?
COONS: An e-mail that says a hostile power that says wants to share information is exactly the sort of thing that should have been turned over to the FBI. CAMEROTA: Sure. But what about categorizing it as approaching
COONS: Well, colluding with a foreign power, partnering with Russia to try and influence our presidential election certainly raises questions, not just about whether this was ethical -- it clearly wasn't -- but whether or not it breaks those constitutional boundaries that prevent American citizens from helping a hostile power.
I'm not there yet, but I think that's exactly why we need to have an investigation to more thoroughly understand the details of what happened and why. I don't disagree with Tim Kaine that that's one of the questions on all of our minds, but as a lawyer, I'm going to be careful about saying that I clearly see the elements of that charge.
CAMEROTA: Are you calling on Don Jr. to testify in front of your committee?
COONS: Yes, he should provide sworn testimony both to the ongoing investigation led by Bob Mueller and to the two Senate committees. Again, I do think it's important we keep coordinating between those investigations to make sure that we don't repeat the mistake that happened in Iran Contra where the two investigations get crosswise with each other.
CAMEROTA: But have you reached out to Don Jr., to say, we'd like to come in?
COONS: That's not my role. That's something that the chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein I believe will do, if they haven't already done it, I expect they'll do it imminently. They've already sent out letters asking that e-mails and other relevant materials be frozen, that nothing be destroyed.
And it's my expectation that will move forward quickly.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what else is happening today in front of your committee, and that is the FBI nominee, the director -- the nominee for director, Chris Wray, is going to be coming in. What questions do you have for Chris Wray?
COONS: Well, the FBI director is one of the most important federal law enforcement positions and this would be an important confirmation hearing in any context. But at a time when the most recent FBI director was abruptly fired and the Judiciary Committee is beginning an obstruction of justice investigation over how and why the past FBI director was fired, we're going to have critical questions for Chris Wray.
I intend to ask him first whether he believes the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered inappropriately with our last election and intends to continue doing so, because I'll remind you, the FBI has a critical counterintelligence role. And then I'll ask him whether he can be counted on to be independent of President Trump. And let's be clear, given recent allegations by former FBI Director Comey, he's going to have to be willing and able to stand up to an overreaching president.
And last, I'm concerned that Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't honoring his promise of recusal. His commitment to step aside from ongoing investigations related to the last election. So, those are the three of the things I'm going to focus on today.
CAMEROTA: OK. Senator Chris Coons, thanks so much for previewing it with us. Great to have you on NEW DAY.
COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.
COONS: All right. The legal issues here are still very unclear, if there are any at all. But there are a lot of political implications. There are reports of chaos among the president's inner circle about how to handle this e-mail chain from Donald Jr. and this meeting and the solicitation allegedly from a Russian government source. It all comes as the president tries to blame all of this on us. Is that a winning strategy? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR.: More than happy to cooperate with everyone. I just want the truth to get out there.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: We cannot rely on any public representations that are made by the family about their contacts with the Russians.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: These e-mails are a textbook example of criminal intent.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: If you want to seclusion, it's in the DNC. I mean, it is up to their necks.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I know Donald Trump Jr. is new to politics. But this is going to require a lot of questions.
TRUMP JR.: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the middle of the campaign. Opposition research is very common.
COONS: A core question here is what did the president know and when did he know it.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Other shoes will drop. Other shoes will drop before this thing is over.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
We begin with the White House under siege, consumed by the snowballing revelations about Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mails and his meeting with a Russian lawyer during last year's campaign. There are multiple reports of White House turmoil because of what Donald Jr. exposed with his own mails.
The finger pointing inside the White House is described in "The New York Times" as a circular firing squad.
CAMEROTA: So, the president's son admitting that he would handle things differently if he could do it all over again. His newly released e-mails are the clearest proof yet that Trump Jr. understood that the meeting was intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.