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President Defends Son, Misstates Facts; Trump: "Something Could Happen" On Climate Accord. Senate Intet Committee Asking for Info on Donald, Jr.Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with the president's defense of his son and his continued misstatements of facts. Continuing because there's a pattern which includes making bold claims unsupported by facts or even contradicted by them, leveling serious accusations, allegations about individuals with vague attribution, or no attribution at all, unless somebody said somehow counts, which it doesn't.

In Paris, for Bastille Day, standing next to his French counterpart, he defended the meeting his son had last year with a Russian lawyer who is peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton, a lawyer his son was told was a Russian government lawyer with information from the Russian government. He's a wonderful young man, the president said, making is sound like Trump Jr. isn't nearly the exact same age as the president of France is.

As for the meeting, here's what the president said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent. I've had many people, I've only been in politics for two years, but I've had many people call up, oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or frankly, Hillary. That's very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world but it's very standard where they have information and you take the information.


COOPER: So, the lawyer he said was not a government lawyer. The meeting went, in his words, very quickly. One of the other two people in the room left quickly, the other one tuned out. The intent, it seems, to frame the meeting as no big deal.

But keeping them honest, the facts, just the facts which the president glosses over say the exact opposite. The lawyer may or may not be just a private lawyer. But that's not what Trump Jr. knew or thought when he agreed to see her. Look at the e-mail from the go-between Rob Goldstone. Don, hope all

is well. Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.

And the two others in the room, they weren't just random couple of guys. They were Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort. As for who left when and who was or wasn't really paying attention, we only have Trump Jr.'s account and that of the Russian lawyer.

But let's take it at face value for a moment, that both he and the president said nothing came out of the meeting. The lawyer, they say, did not bring the dirt, which the president said makes it really no big deal. But again, keep them honest, the big deal is what Trump Jr. thought he was getting, which was information, presumably intelligence from the government of a foreign adversary, information important enough to bring in Kushner and Manafort.

Again, from the emails, quote: This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it's part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.

And Trump Jr.'s reply? If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.

Russian gathered dirt on a political opponent and news the Kremlin is backing your father in the election, sounds like a pretty big deal, not a big fat nothing the president says it was. And remember, his son's biggest complaint about the whole thing is that the woman did not deliver.

Which brings us to the president's auxiliary defense we heard today, that even if she did bring the goods, and again, we only have the son's words that she didn't, but even if she did, the president said it's the thing that happens all the time.

Keeping them honest, it is utterly, totally completely the opposite. Every campaign professional that we've spoken to, Republicans, Democrats alike say what matters, what makes the meeting newsworthy is just how uncommon this is. And as for what should be done when approached, the way Trump Jr. was, who are you going to believe, the president, or the president's choice for FBI director?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me ask you this: If I got a call from somebody saying the Russian government wants to help Lindsey Graham get reelected, they've got dirt on Lindsey Graham's opponent, should I take that meeting?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Well, Senator, I would think you'd want to consult with some good legal advisors before you did that.

GRAHAM: So, the answer is, should I call the FBI?

WRAY: I think it would be wise.

To the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state, or any non-state actor, is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.


COOPER: The president did more than just minimize what happened after his son decided to schedule the meeting instead of calling the FBI. He also sought to blame others for the Russian lawyer even being in the country, including President Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch.


TRUMP: Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see she was in the halls of Congress also. Somebody said that her visa, or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Now, maybe that's wrong. I just heard that a little while ago. But I was surprised to hear that. So she was here because of Lynch.


COOPER: Yes. Maybe it's wrong. I just heard a little while ago. A spokesman says the former attorney general has neither any personal knowledge of the lawyer's travels or any role in here being here, pointing out that the State Department actually issues visas and that the Department of Homeland Security oversees entry into the United States at airports.

In any case, listen to the president again on how he knows this.


TRUMP: Somebody said that her visa, or her passport, to come into the country, was approved by Attorney General Lynch.


[20:05:07] COOPER: This is the most powerful man in the world, a formal press conference, standing next to another head of state, president of France in a foreign capital, leveling an allegation at the top law enforcement official and his predecessor's administration, backing up that allegation. A serious one, unless the meeting was no big deal as the president also said it was. Backing up his allegation with somebody said.

Frankly, if we attributed a story containing a damaging allegation to somebody, we'd be facing a libel lawsuit and deservedly so. The president of the United States and before that candidate Trump has made a habit of it. Mr. Trump also defended his son on the flight over. As part of another continuing pattern, he again cast out on the entire notion that Russia hacked the election.

Telling reporters: I'm not saying it wasn't Russia, what I'm saying is that we have to protect ourselves no matter who it is. You know, China is very good at this. I hate to say it, North Korea is very good at this.

He also again suggested that individuals might be responsible. This time, he didn't talk about these individuals weighing 400 pounds.

Keeping them honest, though, and we're going to keep repeating that phrase as long as the president keeps muddying the waters, here's what his own intelligence officials have to say, not President Obama's intelligence officials, or retired intelligence officials, President Trump's current intelligence officials.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Assembled leadership of the intelligence community. Do you believe that the January 2017 intelligence community assessment accurately characterized the extent of Russian activities in the 2016 election, and its conclusion that Russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the hacking and leaking of information, and using misinformation in order to influence our elections? Simple yes or no would suffice.








COOPER: More now on the president's trip from CNN's Jeff Zeleny who joins us now from Paris.

So, Jeff, even though the president has traveled all the way to Paris, it does seem like he can't escape questions regarding Russian involvement in the election and lengthy answers as well.


He can't escape questions and that's for a couple of reasons. One, Russian meddling is hardly a local U.S. concern. Russian meddling is a concern in every democracy, every place there is elections, including here in France. That's one of the reasons, of course, it was on the minds of many people here, French reporters as well.

But it was clear in that press conference, you played the sound just a few moments ago, the president was speaking like a father today. He said his son is a good man and there's zero evidence that anything happened in that meeting. Well, that did little to sort of quell the concern of Republicans on Capitol Hill. Senator Chuck Grassley, first and foremost, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he wants to see Donald Trump Jr. next week. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, also is likely to have a date with Congress as early as next week as well.

So, as much as the president wants to discount this or move on from this or change the subject, even here in Paris, he cannot do that. And it's not just pesky reporters who are asking this question, it's coming up in his meetings, et cetera.

It's also perhaps more importantly on his mind. When he was flying over here last evening, he talked with a group of reporters on Air Force One. No fewer than five times did he call this a witch hunt. He said it's stirred by Democrats, stirred by the media.

Well, Anderson, that is a sign that he has not yet accepted this because the reality is, Republicans on Capitol Hill in both the House and Senate are leading these investigations. The special prosecutor appointed by his own Justice Department. So, that is something clearly, it's on everyone else's mind, but clearly on the top of his mind as well.

COOPER: Both President Trump and President Macron in France today, I mean, they both seemed to be going far out of their way today to emphasize they have a good relationship, including President Trump raising the possibility of some movement on the Paris climate accord.

ZELENY: No question. So much has happened since that early tense handshake at the end of May in Brussels when they had their first meeting. And there is a lot to be gained for both of them by having this sort of good relationship here. For Macron, he puts France front and center, shows how important France is as he's building his new leadership. For President Trump, he, of course, is a little bit concerned about America being as isolated.

But it was on the climate change agreement that he seemed to open the door at least a crack today for a possible change of heart. Let's listen.


TRUMP: I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We'll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time.

And if it happens, that will be wonderful. And if it doesn't, that will be OK, too. But we'll see what happens.

[20:10:00] But we did discuss many things today, including the ceasefire in Syria, and we discussed Ukraine, we discussed a lot of different topics. We briefly hit on the Paris accord. And we'll see what happens.


ZELENY: Now, I think a reality check tonight is there's very little chance of the U.S. going back into that climate accord here, Anderson, but it was striking watching those two leaders. One 71-year-old president from the United States, one 39-year-old new leader here in France, they both have a lot to gain from being together here.

And tomorrow, they will be together again in the morning at that Bastille Day parade. But you've got the sense that the president has used Paris as a punch line so often he was running for office. Today, he was filled with flattering his host -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, Jeff, thanks very much.

Lots to discuss. Joining us now is Charles Blow, A.B. Stoddard, Jeffrey Lord and Scott Jennings.

Charles Blow, just -- first of all, on the whole idea that something could happen on the Paris climate accord, the president has pulled out of the Paris climate accord. And when he did, he said, maybe we can renegotiate something. Maybe that's what he's referring to? But the idea that he's going to suddenly backtrack seems ludicrous.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, there's no reason for us to try to struggle to make this make sense. The president flatters whoever he's in front of. He says whatever pleases the audience that he's pandering to. And that's what he does.

So whether or not it is true, whether or not it holds any weight, I never put any weight in it. I'm kind of judging him by his actions. And his actions do not dictate that he has any opening on this at all.

COOPER: It's interesting, Scott, I mean, to Charles' point, you know, the president talks tough about a lot of things. It is true when he's in front of somebody else, he seems to -- I mean, he was asked about comments he made about Paris being, according to his friend Jim, who nobody can seem to understand who his friend Jim is, Paris isn't Paris anymore, it's not the same because of terrorism and immigration.

And yet when he's there and asked about it, you know, he talks about how lovely pairs is and a great city, and because the president, he wants to come back to it.

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASST. TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: The president of the United States is not in France to spit in the face of the French president, to make fun of the French people, to make fun of Paris. He's over there to continue to build our alliance with France. I think it makes perfect sense we would make the pomp and circumstance and politeness and diplomatic speak that you would expect out of the United States.

COOPER: Even on the climate accord?

JENNINGS: Look, his position on this is well known. It was the same in the campaign as when he made the decision. I don't anticipate that is going to change.

I think he probably thought he was giving a polite answer there. I certainly think Republicans don't want him to have a change of heart on that.

The reality is, he's there to build a strong relationship with an old ally. And I think he had a pretty successful day doing that. It appears they put any awkwardness in their relationship behind them. That's a good thing because there's one thing that unites these two countries and that's the desire to fight terrorism, which the president talked a lot about today. And, frankly, I think the American people cared a lot about what they had to say on that topic.

COOPER: A.B., I mean, the president again reiterated this idea that it's standard operating procedure to do what Donald Trump Jr. did, which is meet with somebody who you believe is representing a foreign government. That's just not factually correct. I mean, according to every campaign person we've talked to.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. I think it's natural for him to be a dad, and talk about how his son is a good kid. But he --

COOPER: But his son is not a kid. I mean --

STODDARD: Right. Well, I think he was sort of tantalizing him a bit to sort of try to create this sense that he must be forgiven because he didn't really know what he was doing.

But listen, no one in the White House around him thinks this meeting was not consequential in the e-mail, and what the email -- and Don Jr.'s response what was in the e-mail. It wasn't, oh, the Russian government? What do you mean is helping my father? All of them know that this is consequential. And they're very afraid of what this means.

But his reaction is typical Donald Trump. It's not surprising at all. He turns it around to what he wants it to be. He's defiant about the political ramifications.

He finds someone to blame. He's a very skilled blamer. He's done it his whole life.

This isn't going to change. He will never, ever say anyone around him, especially his family or himself made a mistake. And so, he's going to barrel through on this kind of defiant response.

Even though the people around him are trying to help him succeed are very worried about what the fallout from this meeting means going forward because it's the first time that someone close to him showed a willingness, it doesn't mean Donald Jr. is exposed in any way legally, but just what it means about his willingness to take that meeting and what that e-mail said, is very consequential.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, we talked about this before. Do you -- Donald Trump Jr. has now, since we talked, backtracked saying, well, I would do things differently.


COOPER: Do you still say that this is normal behavior to meet with a representative, or a alleged representative of a foreign government? LORD: I do, absolutely. Today on my way here I was reading a column

from December of this past year by Michael Reagan, President Reagan's son, who pointed out as this controversy was beginning that President Carter sent the industrious arm and hammer to the Russian embassy in Washington, to talk about getting some Russian influence in the 1980 campaign against former Governor Reagan by releasing Jewish Refuseniks in the Soviet Union, because that would help certain key states.

He then also pointed out that President Carter himself, according to the Anatoly Dobrynin, went to Dobrynin as did Tip O'Neill in 1984, to make the pitch to the Soviets for Walter Mondale.

So, yes, this kind of thing has been done before. It's just ridiculous I think --

COOPER: Do you think it's appropriate?

LORD: Huh?

COOPER: Do you think it's appropriate?

LORD: I just don't -- I honestly don't think it's that big a deal. You know, should it be publicized? Sure. I mean, I think that's a good thing.

But if we're going to have -- I said this to you the other night, if we're going to have an investigation, let's open up the whole thing, the whole can of worms about Russia, the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Let's get it all out there so everybody can see what the involvement was or was not.

COOPER: Right. But you're saying -- you're -- but saying that implies that that stuff hasn't been reported, and the FBI has had plenty of opportunity to look into any of that, and I would assume if there was any there there, there would be investigations, because that was looked at and litigated a lot during the campaign.

LORD: Yes, well, of course, the question is, why --

COOPER: I mean, what there is, there is a real FBI investigation into Russia now and the Trump campaign. There is not one on --

LORD: Certainly, there's grounds to think that Director Comey's decision was political.

COOPER: So, you're saying the FBI back then was intentionally not investigating Clinton --

LORD: He laid out this clear bill of indictment of Secretary Clinton. And at the very end said there's nothing to see here. And then, I mean, we don't need to litigate that.

COOPER: Scott, as a Republican who's worked for campaigns, do you believe this is just business as usual, meeting with foreign adversaries and attorneys? JENNINGS: It's certainly true. People call campaigns all the time,

claiming they have information. It happens all the time. A lot of the things don't pan out.

It's probably more rare to come from a foreign national. The e-mail chain is certainly a little unusual.

In hindsight, I think -- I've heard Donald Trump Jr. say, I think I would have handled this differently. And, of course, those of us who have been in campaigns, who've been around the block a few times, would have had the experience to know immediately what to do with it, which is to send it to the campaign's lawyer and let them tell you what the right answer is here.

I think the fact that he's saying, I acknowledge I would have handled this differently, and I want to answer questions about it, tells us something about his mindset --

COOPER: You want him to turn over all his e-mails?

JENNINGS: I want them to do what they said they were going to do, which is cooperate with the investigation. He brought up the fact that, well, Hillary was investigated, this -- the Trump folks, Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., they're saying, hey, we're going to cooperate.

And so, I -- as a public posturing matter, I like that. That should give the public confidence that we're going to learn what happened and I think that's fine.

COOPER: But just in terms of confidence and transparency, Charles Blow, I mean, Donald Trump Jr. only has gone this far because he was forced to multiple times by "The New York Times."

BLOW: Absolutely. I mean, these guys are like a barrel of eels soaked in oil. They're twisting and turning and trying to figure out and a way to make this not be exactly what it is. And what it is is a list of facts that he agreed to take this meeting, he thought that it was, according to that e-mail, Russian government lawyer, that the Russian government was supporting his father, and he did not do the right thing.

And this whole idea that a 39-year-old man is supposed to get some benefit of the doubt because he's so naive and he's so innocent, he's just a little boy the way Trump is talking about him in Paris -- no, he's not, he's a grown man. People go to jail much younger than that for doing the wrong thing.

He did the wrong thing and there's no way around that. It is highly, highly, highly, highly inappropriate and now, we have to wait for Mueller to figure out if it is also criminal. But it is highly inappropriate, it is not normal, it is not right.

COOPER: I still think about the barrel of eels in oil. That's a Louisiana expression?


COOPER: Thanks to everybody.

Perspective next from Fareed Zakaria on the president's visit.

And later, the remark the president -- that he made to the French first lady that has some people saying, what?

We'll be right back.


[20:23:07] COOPER: More now on the surprising suggestion the president dropped today in Paris, a reminder of the moment when he said he was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris. At the time, he was making a case for pulling out of the Paris climate accord and he had nothing good to say about it.

Today, though, he hinted that in his words something could happen.

Joining us now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS".

I don't know if it's just the president's lexicon which he often says, like, you know, I'm going to have an announcement in two weeks, or, you know, there's something big is going to happen just like to tease stuff, or just to be polite. But the idea that there's going to be some sort of -- I mean, the U.S. isn't going to pull out of the Paris accord seems highly unlikely.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Well, it's highly unlikely, but mainly because there was no reason to pull out of it. The Paris Accord is a series of voluntary agreements that the United States has set, for example, the United States has set its own targets. It can adhere to them or not adhere to them. There's no punishment mechanism. There's not even really a reporting mechanism.

So, the United States could have stayed in the Paris accord and done whatever Donald Trump wanted on energy, on coal or whatever it was. So, he did it for symbolic reasons. It is unlikely he would undo it.

COOPER: I guess somebody listening though would say, well, then, why have a Paris accord at all?

ZAKARIA: It's -- that's a good point. It created a certain kind of international norm and a standard, where everyone was trying to reach that standard, particularly countries like China and India, which had never taken part in it. But the Chinese can renege on this, as can the United States.

And so, Trump's reneging on it was just about sending a signal to his base. So, it wouldn't make any sense to renegotiate, you know, to come back in.

COOPER: Although the president did say, to be fair, when he announced that the U.S. was going to pull out of it, that he was going to be looking to renegotiate it in some way. ZAKARIA: Well, if you can, it's 174 countries, the chance that you

would have a renegotiation is zero, as everybody who was involved in this has said.

[20:25:00] I think the important thing to remember is, you know, we take presidential rhetoric very seriously. We --

COOPER: The words coming out of the president's mouth.

ZAKARIA: The words coming out of the president's mouth are very important. If you think about, you know, Ronald Reagan saying to Gorbachev, tear down that wall. George Bush Sr. saying after the invasion of Kuwait, these shall not stand. These are always measured and consequential.

With Donald Trump, that simply is not the case. Donald Trump just says what he feels at the moment will -- you know, it's sort of -- it's kind of impresario performance where he's just saying what sounds right at the moment. I don't think anyone thinks he's going to come back into the Paris deal. It's not even clear what that would mean. I don't think he does. But at the moment, it seemed like the right thing to say.

COOPER: He also reiterated this idea that Russia, that his belief that Russia was maybe not behind this, that it could have been China, and he went on to say that if it was Russia, we wouldn't even know about it, because I guess because they're so good at this sort of stuff.

ZAKARIA: You know, that does strike me as somewhat interesting, because it's really part of a pattern. Donald Trump really dislikes almost every country in the world. He has always said nasty things about whether it's China, Mexico, the European allies, the Saudis, you know, particularly through the campaign.

The one country he's always been favorably disposed to, gives them the benefit of the doubt is the Russians. And this is consistent. It actually began about ten years ago. It is interesting coincidentally when Russian money started pouring into the West that he went to Moscow, the Miss Universe thing. He was so fond of Vladimir Putin tat he imagined that he met him, and five times claimed that he had met him, even though, of course, we know this is completely untrue.

COOPER: Right. He claimed to have met him and that they had a relationship.

ZAKARIA: Exactly. And he couldn't have been nicer, he said. But more importantly, he's always said nice things about Russia, the Russians, the Russian government. And this is part of that pattern where he doesn't, for some reason as Lindsey Graham said, he's the one person in Washington who doesn't believe the Russians interfered in the democratic process, and more importantly, who doesn't want a tough response.

And I think that's in some ways the real intellectual puzzle here, why is Donald Trump so soft on the Russians. Maybe there's some benign explanation. You can't avoid the fact that uniquely among all the countries in the world, he has nice things to say about Russia.

COOPER: Yes, Fareed Zakaria, thanks very much. Fascinating.

Coming up, breaking news in the Russia-White House watch. What the Senate Intelligence committee is looking from Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. That's next.

[20:30:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. The Senate Intelligence Committee is requesting more documents from Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., now that we know at least one e-mail chain shows some willingness to cooperate with Russians. When Kushner filled out the required form to get a security clearance, the SF-86, he did not disclose the meeting. In fact, he listed zero foreign contacts.

This Saturday Kushner's lawyer said again that the form was prematurely submitted and that he is since added more than 100 calls meetings with foreign contacts from more than 20 countries.

Joining us now is Ken Cuccinelli, the Former Republican Attorney General of Virginia, and CNN Legal Analyst Laura Coats. So, how problematic, or is it problematic in your opinion that Kushner has had to revise his security clearance form now three times, that he had to had over a 100 names to it that he didn't initially disclose, would it be tolerated if he were someone else lower down in the government?

KENNETH CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it would be tolerated as an ordinary matter. Whether the people he works with would tolerate it as another matter. And that's the real difference with family, I think. But, you know, as these things keep going, the damage is really on their side. It creates a drip-drip approach to addressing whatever is revealed rather than just getting it all out there, and addressing it all at once.

So I think they're harmed more by it than anybody else is. And obviously, then as it repeats over a number of different people, perhaps in the family or in the close circle, you start to expect it. And so the form gets filed, not only answers some questions, but then the next question is always, well, what did they forget on this one?

COOPER: You know, Laura, I mean I think Ken makes the good point, is the drip, drip, drip of it, it steps on and raises questions about credibility. I mean, if you have a witness who tells you, oh, yes, I've told you everything, and then days later, and oh, there's more, and then, once more evidence comes out they say, oh, yes, I forgot about that, too.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's absurd to think that would somehow make you seem more credible, if you say things like -- well, I prematurely gave the information. Prematurely completed a form and signed it and handed it in and told you everything on it was truthful and I attested to it, but I forgot to mention over 100 different things from 20 different countries. So it's not only undermining your credibility, but in fact, as much as political consequence. There are actual criminal penalties associate with this sort of thing and for very good reason. The purpose of the form is not simply to educate me on where in the world Carmen, San Diego game be played. It's actually they tell people the information they need to know to assess your security clearance, and whether or not it's appropriate to give one to see very important and top secret information. It's not a courtesy. It's actually a requirement for a very good reason.

COOPER: Ken, you heard the President again today basically saying, you know, there's nothing to see here in regards to his son's meeting with the Russian attorney. Has Donald Trump Jr. opened himself in your opinion up to any kind of legal exposure here at all?

CUCCINELLI: No. The short answer is no. Laura hit the exposure that normally arises in these situations. And that is when you're filling out forms, if it is believed, or proven that you have intentionally lied on federal forms, then you can get in trouble for something like this meeting.

Now, Donald Trump Jr. said, you know, I really would do this differently if I had it to do over again. But let's be really clear, there's no --

COOPER: And also we should point out, he doesn't have a security clearance, he's not applying --

CUCCINELLI: Correct. Yes. He is not in the Jared Kushner category at all. He's never been going in that direction.

COOPER: Right.

CUCCINELLI: So he's not in that category. It just looks ugly. But let's be really clear. There is no law violated by this meeting, or how it came about. None. Zero. And from my own Senator, Tim Kaine, the vice presidential candidate in that race to be throwing words around like treason, he's a lawyer, he should know better. Treason is when you help the enemy, not when other people help you and that hyperbole, look, Donald Trump Jr. has opened the door to the hyperbole. But let's be really clear there isn't a legal consequence to Donald Trump Jr. for this meeting or how it came about.

COOPER: Laura, there is a federal law that states that code a foreign national shall not directly or indirectly make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value in connection with any federal state or local election. I've heard different opinions. Most people I've talked to seem to think it's a stretch to try to apply that to this. Do you believe it is?

[20:35:14] COATES: I don't think it's a stretch. And I do think he's exposed to criminal liability. I do disagree with the concept that he has committed treason because treason is constitutionally defined that you have to be at war with the other nation, not just have a geopolitical rivalry in some respect what we have with Russia. But the idea of the campaign finance laws could be a sufficient hook. I'm not saying you have all the information, evidence you would need to actually convict or perhaps prosecute, but you certainly have that pendulum swinging back in the direction of criminal liability. Because you have the elements that you would actually need to pursue an investigation for that reason. You've got the statements by this man, Donald Trump Jr., saying that he would love to have information. He knows the pretext about receiving is going to be of value to them.

Remember, the campaign finance laws are about getting something that you don't have to otherwise expend your resources on. And certainly, opposition research falls into that category.

COOPER: Ken, very briefly, you disagree?

CUCCINELLI: I do disagree. I mean, Laura at least characterize it as a stretch, I think, is accurate. And my point isn't that no lawyer couldn't creatively come up with offenses here, but the reality is, this just isn't close.

COOPER: Right.

CUCCINELLI: Now, if something completely different happened in those 20 or 30 minutes than what we understand now, then maybe that changes.

COOPER: Right.

CUCCINELLI: But it doesn't appear anything changed hands. There was no behavior of the campaign that --

COOPER: Right. I mean at this stage, all we know really is what Donald Trump Jr. has said and what this Russian attorney has said. And it's not under oath. So, we'll see if everything comes out when he comes back.

COATES: Well, that's true. But you have to take the situation, in- kind donations do also count. And so you can have information constitute a violation. That could be a possibility.

COPPER: I got to go. Laura Coates thank you, Kenneth Cuccinelli as well.

Coming up, an awkward moment in Paris earlier today when President Trump greeted the French First Lady with a comment about her appearance. But first, the senate GOP leadership releases a new version of the health care bill. The question now is whether the changes are enough to get back the votes they already lost. We'll have the latest from Capital Hill.


[20:40:22] COOPER: After losing too many Republican votes in their health care bill last month, Senate GOP leaders released a new version today. CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now with the latest on that. So, how does this bill differ from the previous one?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there are some significant changes to the bill. But this is by no means the dramatic overhaul that many senators were looking for. Let's give you a few of the highlights.

This is a 172-page bill. So this isn't everything by a long shot. But one of the top lines, there's now going to be an option for people to buy cheaper plans with fewer benefits. You're going to be able to use health savings accounts to pay for your premiums without a tax penalty. There is $45 billion set aside for substance abuse and opioid treatment. This is a key provision for a couple of senators that are wavering.

One of the big problems with this bill though for moderates is the fact that it maintains those deep Medicaid cuts that the original bill had in place. That's why there are some that are still sitting on the fence. And finally, there is no repeal on the taxes for the most wealthy earners. There are tax cuts in this bill, but that investment tax that was a key provision that some moderates did not want to be in this bill is no longer in it. At this point, Anderson, there are still many Republicans digesting this and trying to figure out if they can support it.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, how does -- how is it being received? Does it bring the party together as promised today by McConnell?

NOBLES: Well, put it this way Anderson, Mitch McConnell needs 52 or 50 votes. And he only has 52 Republicans available and there are already two that have said they can't support the bill, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. So we're keeping a close eye on those who've shown a lack of support in the past. And among them is Nevada's Dean Heller. This is what he said this afternoon after ringing the bell for the first time.


DEAN HELLER, (R) SENATOR, NEVADA: Everything at this point matters, so having that discussion does matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, what is your kind of message then to Moderate Republican?

HELLER: He's been a good, you know, he's been working pretty hard at this. He's been a really good individual trying to get to yes on this particular piece of legislation. Some of us have a little bit different ideas. But at this point, the conversations I've had with the leader have been very, very good. And I would anticipate I'll have continued conversations with him throughout the weekend. Thanks, everybody.


NOBLES: And another conversation that Dean Heller will have is with the Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval. He is taking his cues as to how it is going to impact his state through the governor. Today, the governor said that he has major concerns about this bill as it's currently written, Anderson.

COOPER: Ryan Nobles, appreciate it.

Joining me now is CNN Senior Economic Analyst and former economic adviser to the Trump campaign, Stephen Moore, and Democratic economist Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. So Steven, first of all, what do you make of the latest version of the bill? I mean, are the changes enough to get both conservatives and moderates onboard?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: You know, it's interesting Anderson, you guys just mentioned that the two no votes right now are Rand Paul and Susan Collins.

COOPER: Right, and they are different.

MOORE: They're on the opposite sides of the little ideological perspective. So this is a very delicate balancing act for Mitch McConnell. You know, every time you move it a little bit to the right, you lose a moderate. Every time you move it a little bit to the left, you know you're going to lose a conservative. I think at the end of the day, by the way, Rand Paul is going to be a yes vote. I think they will get the 50 votes. It may take a few more weeks and they might have to cajole somebody and do some twisting of arms.

What I like about this new version, and I do like the idea that Ted Cruz has. This amendment basically allows people to buy much cheaper plans to kind of opt out of the Obamacare regulations. If you do that, especially for young people, they're going to be able to cut their costs by half, or maybe even, you know, more than half, by having that option. What I don't like is the fact that they did retain those taxes increases on the investment because I think that really hurt the economy. We need to get rid of that.

COOPER: Austan, what do you think of the Cruz amendment?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, DEMOCRATIC ECONOMIST: Look, the Cruz amendment is atrocious. It's literally going to take us back to the dark ages when insurance companies largely competed by figuring out how to entice the healthy to sign up for insurance, and how to exclude the sick.

COOPER: Why is it going to do that?

GOOLSBEE: And get them off of their plans. The Cruz plan will allow insurance companies to create policies that are really cheap for people who don't have preexisting conditions. And so that is why the bill has succeeded in unifying some people, not the Republicans, but it has unified the doctors, the nurses, the hospitals, the AARP, the EMDs, and the vast majority of the voters against it. Because it's going to send us back to the days where the insurance system wasn't broad based. It was about cranks giving (ph).

[20:45:02] COOPER: Stephen, when you hear about the -- I mean, when people at home hear what Austan just said about all the opposition to it or in the -- seemingly in the medical community from a wide spectrum, should that mean something to them?

MOORE: Well, no. Look, I disagree with Austan's analysis here. Look, before Obamacare took effect, 90 percent of Americans did have insurance and the vast majority of them Austan were, as you know, were happy with their insurance. And the worry was, you know, that this is why Obama had said, you know, if you like your plan, you'll be able to keep it. If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep it.

And what has happened as a consequence of Obamacare is everybody's costs have gone up. And what's happened is a lot of people who now can -- who are healthy can afford the health insurance under Obamacare. You're seeing, you know, some families are paying 3, 4, $5,000 a year more than they did previously because of Obamacare's mandates.

So, look, the way I feel about this, this is America. If you want to buy a plan that is stripped down and it basically gives you basic coverage if something catastrophic happens to you, you break your leg or you get a disease, you know, you should be able to have that kind of policy. If you want a different policy -- I mean, Austan, why should everybody have the same policy?

GOOLSBEE: Look, all I'll tell you is this. Look, my only observation is the following. If the characteristics of this bill are good, then why are they rushing to try to have health and human services give a score rather than the Congressional Budget Office?

MOORE: Well, because we don't trust the CBO anymore.

GOOLSBEE: The answer is because the more you hear about this bill, the more you're going to hate it. They don't want people to read it. Any Republican that votes for this, it is going to stick to them like a bad smell. And a lot of them will lose their job for voting for it.

COOPER: We got to leave it there.

MOORE: But you know what, in terms of the politics Austan, the political repercussions of not getting rid of Obamacare for Republicans in 2018 are much worse than they are if they pass this. And look, it will be judged ultimately, Anderson, by whether this reduces premiums for Americans. Because this is a big class of American families, they can afford it. Most people just want a plan that they can afford so they can -- they have other money so they could do other things. And Obamacare has increased. Look --

COOPER: All right. We got to go.

MOORE: Not too many people are saving $2,500 a year as you promised.

GOOLSBEE: Never get sick. That's the secret to the new plan is never get sick and you'll be fine.

COOPER: Austan Goolsbee, Stephen Moore, guys thanks very much.

Coming up, back to Paris, why President Trump's greeting to the French first lady is raising some eyebrows overseas and here. We'll be right back.


[20:50:45] COOPER: Sort of an awkward moment today between President Trump and French First Lady Brigitte Macron in Paris. What he said has been provoking some strong reactions. CNN'S Kate Bennett joins us now with more. So what exactly -- explain what the President said to the French Lady? KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITEHOUSE REPORTER: So, he specifically commented on what good shape she was in but whether it was a gaffe or an accuse (ph) of compliments, what he was really doing was commenting on her appearance and saying that she was in remarkably good shape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, thank you very much.



BENNETT: Now, we asked the White House for comment on this moment. They didn't get back to us. And it's difficult to hear the audio and understand the context of it but this is something we've seen from the President before. Recently in a couple of weeks ago, do you remember when he spoke to that Irish reporter in the Oval Office and mentioning the beautiful Irish press is here and she has a great smile. So for the President, this is likely something that just felt complimentary, however, can obviously be construed as, again, boundaries where women's appearances are concerned.

COOPER: Is this the first time the President Trump has met the First Lady of France?

BENNETT: No, it's not because actually they were together just last week in Hamburg. The two couples sat side by side at the performance of the Philharmonic at the G20. And even back in May at the G7 in Italy, they met there as well. So they have known each other and interacted before.

COOPER: All right. Kate Bennett, thanks very much. With me now is Michael D'Antonio and Gloria Borger. Gloria, what do you make of this interaction?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, at one level, of course, this is a President who is used to performing but is not used to any kind of protocol. And this would not be the way you would assume that a President of the United States would greet a first lady of another country. I think if you read between the lines here, honestly, Anderson, what he is saying is for a 64-year-old woman, you look pretty good. And she seemed to me -- and again, I'm seeing her from the back, she didn't quite know how to take it and kind of moved on and it was -- it seemed to me to be a bit of an awkward moment and --

COOPER: And also I don't think we've done a good job of a chyroning actually what he said. Because I think he then also turned to the president of France and repeated it, saying that she was in good shape.

BORGER: Right. And, you know, the President of France is much younger than his wife. In fact, we were doing a little math before and there's a quarter century difference between both of these couples only in reverse directions. And, you know, I think she seemed a little -- sort of like she wanted to get out of that moment. This is a President, as Kate was saying, who pays an awful lot of attention to appearance.

COPPER: I've seen an earlier chyron where he turned to the President, I'm being told now that CNN hasn't confirmed if that's what he said to the French President. Michael, I mean, you know this -- the Donald Trump -- you wrote a book about him, you spend time with him. Does this surprise you?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Not at all. I mean, Gloria is correct that he does have an entertainer's instinct. And I don't know if you've noticed this, but I've seen that he often offers a quip to a foreign leader when they're standing together. He tries to illicit a laugh. I think he wants to be charming and this is an example of that but he obviously has gone astray and this happens I think more often when he's fatigued, you know. His brain says something and it comes out of his mouth when in another moment he would have had the energy to restrain himself.

COOPER: You know, Gloria, I can't help but wonder if this is the kind of thing that people who like this presidency it one way and people who don't like this presidency it another way and say, look, this is much to do about nothing. He's just giving, you know, a compliment.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: To that you say what?

BORGER: You know, I don't-- look, I don't think it's a -- I don't think it's a big deal. I think it may not be what protocol demands but this is Donald Trump. And he's-- he likes to compliment women and he likes to make the small talk, as Michael was talking about. And if were meeting a spouse of someone in New York City, he might say, "Gee, you're in great shape. You look terrific." And I'm not quite sure --

COOPER: There's also the fascinating sort of handshake protocol that he's not only had with the president of France but also the sort of the two-handed hug he gave the first lady, which is a gesture we saw before that I can think he used with Michelle Obama at the inauguration.

[20:55:08] D'ANTONIO: Well, it's, you know, the French embassy actually contacted me about handshaking to discuss Donald Trump.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: What did they want to know from you?

D'ANTONIO: They wanted a little bit of insight and to how do you shake hands with this guy. Because they've seen him wrestle with the Prime Minister of Japan and, you know, at Macron did quite well. He was prepared for it. COOPER: Well, I noticed at this time, he did the one handshake but then he also Macron put his other hand on top of -- I was like how much did they practice this sort of stuff?

D'ANTONIO: Well, the other thing that I think I came to mind, as Gloria was speaking about the entertainment aspect of this is, President Trump also considers himself kind of a Hollywood guy and, you know, if you're out in Hollywood, everybody talks about how great you look --

BORGER: Right.

D'ANTONIO: -- and, boy, you had some work done? And it's not a bad thing to say.

COOPER: I'm not sure have you had some work done is not a bad thing to say, even in Hollywood.

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I don't know, asking for your service.

COOPER: Well, that's probably true.

D'ANTONIO: Can you recommend me.

COOPER: Michael D'Antonio, thank you, Gloria Borger as well.

Coming up, the politics of Washington are following President Trump to Paris with the controversy of his campaign, meeting with the Russian lawyer is not dying down.


COOPER: The President in Paris, his son and son-in-law facing new heat in Washington. It's at tough of the hour begins with our reporters are rounding up the news that matters. Manu Raju with breaking news in the Russian investigation, Jeff Zeleny in Paris with the President, Pamela Brown on a curious gap in Trump Jr.'s email chain and Ryan Nobles on the newest incarnation of Republican Senate Health Care Bill that Republican senators on exactly rushing to embrace. We'll begin with Manu Raju. What are you learning?

[20:59:57] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, tonight the Senate Intelligence Committee saying that they planned to ask to put both Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner for more records, records about past meetings that may have occurred between Russian officials and themselves over the past several years and years.