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White House Under Siege After E-mail Bombshell; Interview with Rep. Steve King of Iowa; Senate Delays Recess To Work On GOP Health Care Bill; Russian Family At Center Of Trump, Jr. Meeting Speaks Out; Trump Attorney Live On New Day. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired July 12, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:32:05] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president standing by his son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeting today, "My son Donald did a good last night. He was open, transparent, and innocent. This is the greatest witch hunt in political history. Sad."
It comes amid reports that the White House is under siege with infighting in the West Wing over how to respond to the Russia revelations.
CAMEROTA: So joining us now is Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Good morning, Congressman.
REP. STEVE KING (R-IA), MEMBER, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: How do you characterize what Don, Jr. did in taking this meeting?
KING: Well, I've listened to the media on both sides of this and I try to put myself back in, let's say, the position of Donald Trump the senior, and then Donald Trump, Jr. and I'm thinking if that information came to me as a candidate, I would want a firewall.
And this fell to Donald Trump, Jr. He should have had a firewall, I think. But you want to push that as far down the chain as you could to get reliable information and then feed it back up if it were valid and something that was legitimate --
CAMEROTA: But just explain what --
KING: -- and ethically useful.
CAMEROTA: Just -- I just want to be clear on what you mean by a firewall.
So, if you got an e-mail saying the crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. King." If that came to you, what would you have done?
KING: I think -- and it's hard for any of us to look back through this in the rearview mirror and see it objectively -- but I think what I would have done is see if I knew the individual, and it sounds like Donald, Jr. did know the individual. He said he did.
CAMEROTA: The intermediary, yes.
KING: So I would have kicked it down the chain as far as I could go and still get a credible research and response on it. I think that's the right thing to do.
CAMEROTA: But kicking it down the chain --
KING: But this --
CAMEROTA: I just want to be clear. You mean you would have given it to a lower-level staffer to say check this out, or you want to kick it up the chain to the FBI?
KING: It would have been down the chain and it likely would have gone to my youngest son, who is my campaign chairman. I would have asked him to delegate that and trusted his selection of this.
If it never came back to me that's what I would expect, and that's what happened. It didn't come back to anybody.
CAMEROTA: So you would be OK with your youngest son taking that meeting?
KING: I trust him a lot, you bet. He's my campaign chairman and he's been with me for nearly 20 years on this.
CAMEROTA: Yes, of course. Of course, you trust your son.
I'm saying do you trust the Russians? Do you trust the crown prosecutor of Russia to give you sensitive information for the government's support for a campaign from Russia?
KING: Well, Alisyn, I don't think we know of that. I was trying to remember this morning how many Russians I've met with over the last half a decade or so and it's dozens of them. And I can't remember all of those meetings that took place. Some of the -- many of the faces I would actually remember but not all the meetings. And so, in this business you're meeting with all kinds of people.
It was a 20-minute meeting. It brought no results out of there.
And I'm thinking what if -- what if, in Donald, Jr.'s mind, he's thinking what if the solid lockdown facts on Peter Schweizer's book, "Clinton Cash" -- what if how the uranium got passed over to the Russian control under the pen of Hillary Clinton, what's the Russian side of that, I would have thought that would have been blockbuster. There's a potential for that and it's bait that was hung out. [07:35:09] So you don't know what's there and to judge this thing in this way with this media hyperventilation -- there's no law that's been broken, there's no follow-through on this. He put it behind him and is married.
Jared Kushner found it. Nobody remembered it.
KING: They found it when they were scouring through Jared Kushner's e-mails.
CAMEROTA: Right, it wasn't disclosed properly, the way it was supposed to. But, Congressman --
KING: Well, but you can't know that. I mean, if I had to disclose every meeting with the Russians I've had, I'd have to go through every scheduling item and then have to think about everyone and think well, was there a meeting that popped up that wasn't on the schedule.
CAMEROTA: But if you were going to be in the cabinet or part of the president's top advisors you would have to disclose every meeting that you had with the Russians.
KING: You would, at least, seek to do that.
[07:40:00] KING: And they discovered this meeting and Jared Kushner released the information on that. Some said it undercut his brother- in-law. I think he was just complying with the regulations.
And if you're sitting in that Trump White House, how would you imagine that this would be a big media thing that's going to consume this country for a few more days?
CAMEROTA: Because there are investigations that are -- as you know, congressional investigations as well as a special prosecutor investigation going into whether or not a) Russia meddled, and whether or not there was some collusion.
And, Congressman, this is the clearest evidence yet that there was a desire for collusion from Don, Jr. Even though it didn't produce any product he desired the information and the collusion so much so he said I love -- I love it. I love the idea.
KING: But, Alisyn, don't you know and doesn't America know that the Clinton campaign had a desire to collude with Ukraine and they sent an operative over there to meet with the president of the Ukraine?
CAMEROTA: I mean, Congressman, I'm just interrupting you because we keep hearing this talking point. We hear this talking point from everybody on the -- many people on the right. We hear it from Sebastian Gorka, we hear it from Kellyanne Conway, we hear it from you, so we know it's a talking point that has gone out.
I hear you. You are quite upset about something that happened with the Clintons, though they're no longer in politics.
You guys are in power. The Republicans control the House, the Republicans control the Senate, the Republicans control the White House.
CAMEROTA: Maybe you should investigate that if that's --
CAMEROTA: -- what you're more concerned with than our sitting president's connection.
KING: I didn't say that I was more concerned with that. I made the point that that's clearly a violation of the ethical standards that the media is trying to put on the Trump people.
And from my standpoint, it's this. That if this continues -- this immobilization of the presidency over these kind of things it's going to force this Congress to do an investigation -- a complete and thorough investigation and that means go back all the way to the 650,000 e-mails of Anthony Weiner --
CAMEROTA: So you --
KING: -- and look at Comey and his activities.
CAMEROTA: OK, OK.
KING: I don't want to do that, Alisyn, but -- yes, go ahead.
CAMEROTA: Let me be clear. That's where you think all this is headed. Where you think that questions about Russian collusion and whether or not Russia meddled, you would like to see it in terms of what Hillary Clinton may have done. You don't think there's anything --
KING: I --
CAMEROTA: -- to see with the current Trump White House. Is that what you're saying?
KING: I don't know whether there is or isn't. I've not seen that yet. But what I'm saying is this, that the Comey investigation -- now him picking the special counsel on top of it --
KING: -- on its face appears to be collusion. And if these things that don't have a crime behind them --
CAMEROTA: Wait, wait. What do you mean? The Comey investigation --
KING: -- are going to --
CAMEROTA: -- appears to be collusion. What do you mean?
KING: Well, Hillary was under investigation. We all know that.
KING: They interviewed her in a -- in a secret room somewhere. I have questioned both Loretta Lynch and James Comey under oath before the Judiciary Committee and here is what I learned.
There were no notes taken in that interview. She was not sworn under oath. There was no audiotape, there was no videotape --
KING: -- and they won't -- they won't release the names of the individuals that did the interviews.
KING: But it wasn't Comey and it wasn't Loretta Lynch.
CAMEROTA: I hear you. You're concerned about this. I get it.
CAMEROTA: Are you concerned that Don, Jr. wanted to get information from what he believed was a high-level Russian connected to the Russian government?
KING: I think that he was looking for information that would help his father's campaign. And if we're going to outlaw dialogue like this, then we have to outlaw also negative campaigns in their entirety, and this goes on on both sides constantly.
But this was a tiny little thread of information that went nowhere. He did seem a little overly eager. I think he should have had a firewall. I think Don, Jr. should have kicked it down the chain.
And I can tell you today, he will have a firewall in place. He will have more experience with the political campaign. He was a businessman at that day. He had very little campaign experience.
CAMEROTA: So you chalk this up to naivete?
KING: I don't know that I would call it naive. You can't confuse somebody being naive if they don't have the experience back there to give them a foundation for it. This wasn't a --
CAMEROTA: Isn't that the definition of naive? I mean, you're saying he --
KING: Well --
CAMEROTA: -- didn't --
KING: No, no. CAMEROTA: -- he didn't know better that Russia is a hostile foreign power --
KING: No, naive is a personal characteristic.
CAMEROTA: -- or he didn't see it that way.
KING: I think that he's astute and he is smart and he has delivered this information to the public, and Jared Kushner did what he should have done when he discovered this meeting. That should be the end of it now or we could let the investigators thread this in and see if there's anything else out there.
But if this persists -- and, you know, I listened to David Gregory say the White House has got to do something because they're immobilized because of these investigations --
KING: -- that are going on. Well, they're immobilized by the media making something out of not very much.
CAMEROTA: But we're not standing in the way of the president doing his agenda. I mean, look, let's just -- very quickly, health care.
KING: Yes, it is because --
CAMEROTA: How are my questions to you standing in the way of you coming up with a viable health care solution for Americans?
KING: They changed the subject in America. We need public support to move a good health care system in this Congress. And that's one of the reasons why we went home for the Fourth of July. It's one of the reasons why going for August is a good idea --
KING: -- because we will hear from the American people --
KING: -- about what they want and we'll look them in the eye, and we're far more likely to get a solution in September than we are before we go home.
CAMEROTA: So, about that, just so I'm clear. You're timetable with health care -- because we know lots of Americans are, obviously, very concerned and on tenterhooks about this -- you don't think that anything's going to happen this summer with a health care plan?
KING: The Senate might actually pull a rabbit out of the hat over there and I hope they do. And I think the foundation of the bill that they've presented is comparable and reasonable, and it's got a reasonable chance of passing the House, especially if the Cruz amendment is attached. I think it's a better bill yet. But let's see what they can produce and I want that to happen. You know, I spent seven and a half years working to repeal Obamacare.
I couldn't get what I wanted out of this Congress and I turned around and I voted for the best thing we could get out of the House.
And we cannot let this continue. The American people have been pushed off their insurance. Their premiums have gone -- have skyrocketed to where the -- and the co-payments are so high that the insurance is unusable.
KING: My state's been hit as hard as anybody's.
KING: I want this solved but the Senate's got to do it now and then send it back to the House.
CAMEROTA: And, Congressman, this morning the president has already tweeted, I think, twice and he has tweeted about the Russia stuff. So would it help you if the president tweeted more about his agenda, and say health care, and say building the border wall, and all of those other things that he promised?
KING: Well, you know, I've told him personally -- and I think Chris Cuomo will get a laugh out of this -- that I need the president tweeting because I need the cover for my Twitter account. But it would be better to have more tweets driving policy.
Build the wall. And I would like to say to America a wall is not a fence, it's not a virtual, it's not a balloon in the air, it's not a drone. It's a wall. It's a concrete wall and it's 2,000 miles of concrete wall. We all --
CAMEROTA: And it's $1.6 billion. I mean, that's what might be holding up, you know, the funding for the government. But are you comfortable, Congressman, with providing $1.6 billion of taxpayer money, not from Mexico, to build that wall?
KING: Absolutely yes, and more, and I'd throw another $5 billion on the pile and I would find a half of a billion dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood's budget. And the rest of it could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people that haven't worked in three generations.
We've got to put America back to work. This administration will do it. And we've got to let -- we've got to free them up so that they can and support the right agenda for this country.
CAMEROTA: You want to take food from people who are the people who are on the lowest rung in terms of the nation's safety net, and their children -- in terms of food stamps, you're happy to take -- you're willing to take money from them to build the $1.6 -- or to give the $1.6 billion for the border wall?
KING: For a couple of reasons. One of them would be that, you know, we will create the kind of security that would bring about 10 million new jobs in America just by enforcing immigration law.
The second thing is I wouldn't impose anything any more strict on anybody in America than what Michelle Obama did with her school lunch program. And so, I would just say let's limit for that. Anybody that wants to have food stamps it's up to the school lunch program. That's fine.
And -- but we have seen this go from 19 million people on, now, the SNAP program, up to 47 million people on the SNAP program.
CAMEROTA: And you don't think all of them need it?
KING: Oh, I'm sure that all of them didn't need it. And so, we need to sit this down and ratchet it back down again. We built the program because to solve the problem of malnutrition in America, and now we have a problem of obesity.
And when you match up the EBT card with the -- what the scales say on some of the folks, I think it's worth looking at. Michelle Obama looked at it. Republicans should be able to look at it, too.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Steve King, we appreciate you coming on NEW DAY with your perspective on all of these things.
KING: Thanks a lot, Alisyn. I appreciate you.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris --
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, coming up, these e-mails. Putting any legality for Donald, Jr. and that exposure aside, it is most stark evidence yet of Russia's efforts to interfere in our election, at least evidence that's been made public. So how did the Russians mentioned in this e-mail explain all of this? We have their lawyer, next.
[07:48:17] CAMEROTA: The billionaire family that helped arrange the controversial meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer is offering their side of the story now through their new attorney. The family says at no point did they think the purpose of the meeting was to spill dirt on Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: That point is counter to what we see in this e-mail chain given by Donald Trump, Jr. How so? We have CNN's Alex Marquardt with the details?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, this will be a great one, there's no question, because of the fact that it's Miss Universe in Moscow.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In November 2013, Donald Trump was in Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. At his side, his business partner for the pageant, fellow billionaire and real estate developer Aras Agalarov.
Just days before, Agalarov had been awarded one of Russia's honors by Vladimir Putin, himself. And now, Agalarov, along with his pop star son Emin, were hobnobbing with Trump who later told Russian reporters he was considering a run for president.
TRUMP: Well, a lot of people want me to run and a lot of people want to see a different approach.
MARQUARDT: The origins of Donald Trump, Jr.'s controversial meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya can all be traced back to the Miss Universe pageant.
Noah Kirsch has covered Trump's business ties for "Forbes" magazine.
NOAH KIRSCH, REPORTER, FORBES MAGAZINE: Agalarov decided he wanted the most beautiful women in the world to be in his music video. That led him to a meeting with Miss Universe -- the Miss Universe organization which, eventually, he said led him to an invitation from Donald Trump, himself.
MARQUARDT: An invitation to the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas where they reportedly brokered the deal to host the Miss Universe competition later that year in Moscow.
[07:50:00] The Agalarovs claimed they spent $20 million on the event.
TRUMP: So we'll be there on November ninth in Moscow and -- come on up here folks, where are you? Where are my partners? Where are my very powerful, very rich, very nice great people?
MARQUARDT: With them in Vegas, Emin's British publicist Rob Goldstone.
A few days later, Trump wondering aloud on Twitter, "Do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe pageant in November in Moscow? If so, will he become my new best friend?"
He didn't attend but Putin reportedly sent a present for Trump and Emin Agalarov performed.
EMIN AGALAROV, POP STAR (Singing)
MARQUARDT: After, Trump tweeting the Agalarov father, "I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a fantastic job. Trump Tower Moscow is next. Emin was wow."
The relationship grew. Trump even appeared in Emin's music video.
TRUMP: Emin, wake up, come on. What's wrong with you?
KIRSCH: We know that Emin Agalarov spent time at Trump properties, that he received a personalized video message from the president on this 35th birthday. And I know from my conversation with him that, at least according to Emin Agalarov, this relationship extended up to and past the November election. MARQUARDT: So when the message came via Rob Goldstone that Emin Agalarov wanted Donald, Jr. to meet a Russian government attorney, he likely assumed it was coming from trusted friends.
Today, the Agalarov's new lawyer claiming Goldstone's e-mail was utterly inconsistent with what our understanding was of the purpose of the meeting, telling CNN Goldstone is out of his element in writing these e-mails and having these communications.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, New York.
CUOMO: Out of his element. What does that mean? Does that mean he made it up? Does that mean he got something wrong?
We have someone who can answer those questions. The Agalarov's attorney, Mr. Scott Balber. Counselor, good to have you on the show.
SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS AGALAROV: Good to be here, thank you.
CUOMO: Please answer that question. What does that mean, he was out of his element, Mr. Goldstone?
And just to refresh everybody's recollection, Donald Trump, Jr. was in an e-mail chain with Goldstone about a meeting set up either with one of your clients or someone that they knew who wound up being this attorney -- this female attorney that they met with and with some others.
So, what does that mean that Goldstone was out of his element in these e-mails?
BALBER: Well, Rob Goldstone, as you know, is a music publicist. He was the publicist for Emin Agalarov. He's not a political guy, he's not a lawyer.
And we suspect that he was trying to do a favor for his client and make this introduction to the lawyer, but this is not his realm and therefore he said things which were, quite frankly, foolish and, ultimately, false.
CUOMO: Do you know Goldstone?
BALBER: I do not know him personally, no.
CUOMO: By reputation, is he known to be a pathological liar?
BALBER: I don't know his reputation. I have no reason to suggest that he's a pathological liar but what I will tell you that what he says in the e-mail is not true.
CUOMO: But -- well, how do you know it's not true?
BALBER: Well, I know it's not true because I've had communications with the people referenced in the e-mail and it's simply fiction that this was some effort to create a conduit for information from the Russian federal prosecutors to the Trump campaign.
And let me just pause for a second and let's look at how absurd it would be.
As I was listening to the broadcast you indicated that Mr. Trump and Mr. Agalarov had a relationship dating back to the Miss USA pageants and Miss Universe pageants. And the story here is that the Russian federal prosecutors spoke to Mr. Agalarov senior, who had his son, the pop star, reach out to his publicist to contact the Trump campaign.
It's just fantasy world because the reality is if there was something important that Mr. Agalarov wanted to communicate to the Trump campaign I suspect he could have called Mr. Trump directly as opposed to having his son's pop music publicist be the intermediary.
CUOMO: Well, that's interesting. Let's unpack it one-by-one. The idea of any other communications between Donald, Jr. and one of the Agalarovs, which you're saying which would have been a more convenient thing. It is suggested in the e-mail chain and Donald, Jr. does indicate yes, have Emin call my cellphone. That call, what was it about?
BALBER: That call -- that call didn't occur.
CUOMO: Well, let me ask you about that. I know that you have said that before and that's -- but I'm curious because if that call didn't occur, Counselor, why does Goldstone then say in a subsequent e-mail, I believe, to Don, Jr., "You are aware of the meeting and so wondered if --" and then he talks about scheduling.
Why would Mr. Goldstone believe that Don, Jr. would be aware of a meeting if he hadn't communicated with somebody else and that somebody else, by dent of the nature of this loop of communication, would have to be Emin?
[07:55:15] BALBER: Well, I really can't speak to what Rob Goldstone was thinking or what he wrote or why, but I'll tell you again that that call didn't happen. I don't know if there was someone else who spoke to Donald Trump, Jr. about this prospective meeting but it wasn't my client.
And again, I don't know where Mr. Goldstone got his information from but it's just categorically incorrect.
CUOMO: So, Mr. Goldstone, who's the publicist for your client, was wrong when he suggested that Donald Trump, Jr. had spoken with your client?
And he was wrong when he said the crown prosecutor of Russia met with his -- Emin's -- father this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. Very high-level, sensitive part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump, helped along by your clients.
That is some doozy of a lie. That's a lot of information and specificity just to pitch a meeting, is it not?
BALBER: Again, I can't speak for Rob Goldstone. But I will tell you again, categorically, that no meeting between the Russian prosecutors and Mr. Agalarov happened in any respect relating to Hillary Clinton or the U.S. election.
CUOMO: When did --
BALBER: It just didn't happen.
CUOMO: When did your client fire Mr. Goldstone?
BALBER: I don't know that he fired Mr. Goldstone. Why? I'm not sure what --
CUOMO: The man told a lie like this about your client and he didn't fire him as his publicist?
BALBER: First of all, we saw the e-mail yesterday for the first time. So what is going to happen vis-a-vis Mr. Agalarov's music career and his publicist, I don't know. But it's been less than 24 hours since we saw this e-mail chain.
And yes, my clients are very concerned about what was said in these e- mails. Again, they're flatly false and we will try to find out, ultimately, what the source of Mr. Goldstone's commentary was. But I'm sure you'll be asking him and his counsel separately.
CUOMO: Mr. Goldstone has not wanted to come on. If you can help with that all, seeing that he does have a relationship with your client, we would very much appreciate that. He really is the only person who can put some meat on the bones of this speculation.
Last question. Your clients' relationship to the lawyer involved here, the woman who took the meeting, is what?
BALBER: Well, again, I've said this before. Natalia is an acquaintance of Emin and she has been pursuing this Magnitsky Act for some time. And as a result, Mr. Agalarov was willing to make an introduction to give her a forum to talk about this Magnitsky Act issue, and that really is the totality of our involvement.
CUOMO: That is something that this kind of story was made up by the publicist for your client and he's still working for him. We will want to see what happens here.
Counselor, thank you very much. Appreciate your perspective on this.
BALBER: My pleasure. Thank you.
CUOMO: Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris. We're obviously following a lot of news, including a live interview with President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: We're now beyond obstruction of justice.
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: For me, this was opposition research so I think I wanted to hear it out.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Any time that you're in a campaign and get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.
BRIAN FALLON, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think you'd see a piece of evidence that would be as much of a smoking gun as this e-mail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president was not aware of the meeting, did not attend this meeting.
TRUMP, JR.: It was such a nothing. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: This was an attempt at collusion. And so now the question is really, was it successful?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, July 12th, 8:00 in the East.
And we do begin with the top story.
The White House reportedly in crisis mode, consumed by the latest Russia revelations in newly-released e-mails from Donald Trump, Jr.
"The New York Times" reporting that members of the president's inner circle are embroiled in what they call a circular firing squad trying to figure out the source of the latest leaks.
CUOMO: The president's eldest son breaking his silence, claiming he never told his father about his meeting with a Russian lawyer and admitting he would handle things differently if he could do this all over.
All this, while President Trump is calling this the greatest witch hunt in political history and blasting us for reporting on it. Remember, his son's own e-mails just acknowledged an alleged attempt by Russia to infiltrate the election and the president is saying that's not true.
Joining us now is President Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow. Counselor --
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Good morning.
CUOMO: Good to see you again.
SEKULOW: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: Why would the president question the veracity of his own son's e-mails?