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Soon: Senate GOP To Unveil New Health Bill; Today: Trump Faces Reporters Amid Russia Firestorm. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired July 13, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- world. It's really hard to get back to shore when you're in there, and that is so beautiful.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Took a lot of people to bring them in, which is why you got to be really, really careful. Wonderful they were all there.
BERMAN: All right. Time now for CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow. Good morning to you.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, you two. We miss you, Berman.
BERMAN: You too.
CAMEROTA: I'll send him soon.
HARLOW: Hope you had fun, Ali.
CAMEROTA: I have.
HARLOW: All right. You guys have a great day.
CAMEROTA: You too.
HARLOW: We've got a lot to get to.
Good morning, everyone, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow.
In just moments, President Trump meets face-to-face with French President Emmanuel Macron. He may be in Paris, but he can't shake those questions about Moscow.
Just hours from now, he will face reporters, and you can bet he will get a flurry of questions from the firestorm surrounding the meeting that his son had with a Russian lawyer. Why? Because of a Russian government effort. The President defending his son once again, telling Reuters in a new interview, there was zero coordination between Russia and the campaign.
Let's begin this morning with our Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny who has the background of the Champs-Elysees instead of the White House. He just traveled over there on Air Force One.
So the message today from the President will likely not be about Moscow, but he will face questions about it.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. That is certainly the expectation because the President is going to do something today he very seldom does. That is take questions from reporters.
He'll be attending a news conference later today alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. He'll be taking two questions from U.S. reporters and two questions from French reporters. And, of course, the matter at hand regardless of where he is, still questions about the Russia allegations, the Russia revelations that have really dogged and overshadowed the agenda for the White House this week.
But it is important to note the President is back in Europe for the second time in less than a week, accepting the invitation of the French President, the new French President, to be here for the Bastille Day celebration tomorrow, which is also marking the 100th year of the U.S. participation, the entry, into World War I. So President Trump, tomorrow, will be lining the parade route, watching the U.S. soldiers and sailors and airmen along with the French troops as well.
But, Poppy, there also are some business meetings to be held here, of course. He and the French President are going to be having a meeting for more than an hour or so talking about security, counterterrorism, and other matters.
Of course, this is one way the President is trying to, you know, still cement his relationship with other leaders around the world, of course. And by removing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, it has given the sense that the U.S. is not as engaged with world activities. President Trump trying to send a message he wants to be engaged on trade, on other things, on counterterrorism. So he has that chance today.
But, Poppy, again, so many things hanging over the White House, particularly the revelations about his oldest son, last summer, meeting with the Russian lawyer. And we have some sound from an interview with the President yesterday talking to Pat Robertson defending his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That's what Putin doesn't like about me. And that's why I say, why would he want me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, of course, that was sound there of the President talking about -- you know, trying to sort of, you know, change the narrative here that Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win, saying that, you know, he is actually tougher on Russia than Hillary Clinton would have been.
But, Poppy, this all has this sense of the President still trying to look for an enemy, if you will, someone to fight with, if you will, trying to deflect this to Hillary Clinton, which, of course, is beside the point now. He won the election. Unclear why he's still talking about Hillary Clinton, Poppy.
HARLOW: Yes. Unclear, clearly. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
Also, one top Republican senator says the news of Donald Trump's -- Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer is ramping up interest in a congressional hearing with another person who was in that meeting. That, of course, is former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Let's go to Washington where we find our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. So this is Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary, saying, we want Manafort to come testify and we want to hear from him next week.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And, you know, this hearing that he has scheduled really doesn't have to do with this Russia investigation. You know, it's not particularly related to this. It's more related to the Foreign Registration Act.
And it seems like they see this as a window, as an opportunity, to question Manafort because he himself has been sort of involved in some of the controversy within the Foreign Registration Act registering very late after the fact, after it was revealed that he was working on behalf of the -- of Ukraine lobbying efforts on the U.S. And Grassley yesterday basically said, you know, that he's going to -- he's threatened basically to subpoena Manafort if he doesn't agree to appear before the committee.
[09:05:18] However, there are two things kind of that may, you know, help Manafort in this case and may even, outside of his refusal to appear, that would prevent him from testifying, and that's this special counsel investigation, which could prevent him. You know, Grassley said he would reach out to Special Counsel Bob Mueller to see if it, in any way, would conflict -- his appearance would conflict with their investigation.
HARLOW: Shimon Prokupecz in Washington. We'll see what Manafort says. And if he is compelled to testify, of course, he could take the Fifth, I guess, unless offered immunity. We'll --
PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right, yes.
HARLOW: We'll see if they ask for a deal. Thank you very much, Shimon. Appreciate it.
Here to discuss all of this as the President is in Paris, Rebecca Berg, CNN political analyst and national reporter for RealClearPolitics; Matt Lewis, CNN political commentator and conservative writer and senior columnist for "The Daily Beast"; and Laura Coates, our CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. So, Laura, just to start with you on that beat of Manafort, if he is
compelled to come before Grassley's committee, before Senate Judiciary, next week, is there any way you see him not taking the Fifth unless he is granted some sort of immunity deal?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Frankly, Poppy, no. And being compelled, I'm assuming you mean that there is a subpoena to have him come --
COATES: -- because I doubt he will volunteer to appear. Everyone's very, you know, cooperative until a lawyer gets involved and until you have a looming actual criminal statute that may actually define your behavior. No one's cooperative at that point in time.
So what's likely going to happen is he is well aware that Congress only has at its disposal two things if he decides to not appear or to not answer questions. And that is he could go for contempt proceedings and that goes back to the Department of Justice, or he could ask a federal judge, and the Congress could do that, to say compel him to testify and give answers.
But that criminal probe that Mueller has will take priority because that's the one that, if there is criminal conduct found, could lead to incarceration. And the Fifth Amendment is really his only way of trying to get out of that.
HARLOW: Is there any reason the Department of Justice, Laura, just to button this up, would grant him immunity? Because remember, this is what Michael Flynn asked for through his attorney. I have a story that I want to tell if, basically, I'm protected to tell it. Any way DOJ would want -- would be -- do you think would agree to this?
COATES: At this point in time, they have zero incentive to do so. It would be premature to give it. Remember, their goal is to try to figure out there's a counterespionage undertaking in the United States related to the 2016 election. Who was involved? Who were the biggest fish? Who were the different arms of whatever happened there?
And so if this is the beginning or perhaps the tip of the proverbial iceberg that would lead them to figure out who really is at fault, if anyone, why would you make that decision at this premature basis, which would basically immunize anybody who, right now, is under this microscope? They have zero incentive to do so.
HARLOW: All right. So, Matt Lewis, reading the transcript of this Reuters interview yesterday -- I wish it was on camera so that we could play it for everyone but -- with the President, this is the line that I think stood out to me the most.
The President said, quote, somebody did say if he did do it -- he's talking about Putin and Russia hacking the election. Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn't have found about it -- found out about it. Which is a very interesting point. Two questions. Is this the President, once again, questioning whether
or not Russia hacked the election? And at the very least, is this not him complimenting Putin's intelligence?
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, I think it's both things. And I think it's weird that Donald Trump is engaging, I think, at all in this level of -- this is the kind of thing maybe that pundits should be talking about or college students in dorm rooms. The fact that he's like engaging in this intellectual exercise of, like, well, trust me, if Putin had actually wanted to hack the election, we wouldn't have heard anything about it, attributing these almost super powers to Vladimir Putin.
It's -- I think it's just part and parcel of, you know, of a larger story, a larger narrative, which is that Donald Trump should be focused on other things other than trying to weigh in on this and intellectualize it. It's -- you know, I think it's part of the reason why the trip to Paris is going to be, you know, sort of, you know, overshadowed by this story. And it's part of the reason why health care is actually in trouble right now as well.
HARLOW: Right. I mean, he isn't out there rolling up his sleeves, holding town halls, canceling a foreign trip, akin to what President Obama did when his health care bill was on the ropes. Now, some could argue, you know, Republican leadership in the House and in the Senate, you know, Mitch McConnell doesn't want the President to be doing that, but it is not his focus, it seems, right now.
[09:10:06] Rebecca, let me ask you about this, the meeting between and the joint appearances for the next two days between Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump. There's a lot that could benefit the President on this trip, but remember the joint press conference that Macron held with President Putin at Versailles? And he lit in to Putin. There is a danger here for President Trump in not knowing which way Macron is going to go.
REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: There is. But absolutely, as much as this is going to be potentially an awkward trip -- remember that President Trump pretty much supported Macron's opponent, Marine Le Pen, in the presidential race in France. As much as this will be awkward on both sides, President Trump needs allies right now.
As we saw at the G20, the United States is more isolated than it has been in recent memory in terms of our international relations. European allies who have partnered with the U.S. in the past feel very wary of their position and their relationship with the United States.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed and hinted that she feels a little bit worried about the relation with the United States. And Theresa May, our partner in the United Kingdom, has also expressed worry.
And so we need partners. We need friends. And so that's why this is going to be such an important trip. And I think France views it the same way. Because for Europe, things are better if the United States is strong,
if the United States is cooperating. And that's what they need right now from President Trump so that's going to be the objective for them.
HARLOW: And just to be clear, Matt, I mean, they have common interests, namely Syria, right, and an end to the humanitarian crisis and the war in Syria. Also, though, you have Macron doing some things that President Trump really likes, like committing to spending two percent of their GDP on defense, being critical of Germany on trade just like President Trump has been. What do you think makes this trip a win for President Trump?
LEWIS: Well, I think it's actually a mistake to look at it -- if Trump looks at it as a win, that's a short-term thing, right? So that means that you come back and there's positive press and that it's -- you know, people say that it was a win.
I think a win is actually a long-term win, which is to establish a relationship, to build that relationship for the long term of cooperation. I think that is the key. And I think it could go either way.
Right now, they're frenemies, you know. You could argument that, like, Donald Trump is this populist, nationalist and Macron is this sort of cosmopolitan, you know, internationalist. That's one way of looking at it. And if that's the dichotomy, then that's probably not -- that doesn't bode well for the relationship.
But you could also certainly argue that they both have a lot in common, including a shared interest of actually getting along. These two countries go back a pretty long ways, all the way back actually, and it's much better for the world if they get along.
HARLOW: It is indeed. Rebecca, op-ed this morning from Gary Cohn and also national security advisor H.R. McMaster in "The New York Times," let me read part of it to you.
The United States cannot be a passive member of the international organizations. We are working with friends to confront common threats, seize mutually beneficial opportunities, and press for solutions and shared problems.
Now, one interesting note, Russia, Putin, not mentioned once in that op-ed. And in addition to that, does this fly in the face of "America First," saying we cannot be a passive member of international organizations and the international community, or is there some way it goes hand in hand, Rebecca?
BERG: Well, I think this is certainly an effort by the administration to try to reassure some of our international partners that "America First" is not going to mean isolationism. But this has been the major concern among our partners overseas, that the United States isn't really interested in working toward our shared common goals but only its own goals and is pursuing this more isolationist path.
So you can see, with this France trip as the background music, this is definitely an effort to try to reassure our European partners and our Asian partners, for that matter, that the United States is not going to withdraw from the world. That's not what "America First" means.
But certainly, if you think back to the campaign trail to some of Donald Trump's rhetoric in that setting, that's what a lot of his supporters took away from what he was saying when he said America first. That we weren't going to engage in these conflicts overseas. We weren't going to -- we were going to be limiting our trade with some of these countries, pursuing only bilateral trade negotiations, for example.
So competing messages, for sure. And you wonder what Donald Trump's -- some of his supporters who took that "America First" message to heart might be thinking when they see an op-ed like that.
HARLOW: I've talked to a lot of them all around the country. You wonder that indeed.
Rebecca Berg, thank you, Matt Lewis, Laura Coates. Nice to have you all on.
We are less than two hours away from getting our first look. And frankly, lawmakers, a lot of them getting their first look at the revised GOP Senate health care bill. The President vowing to be very angry if the Senate doesn't pass it this time around. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[09:15:08] TRUMP: They have to do it. They have to get together and get it done.
PAT ROBERTSON, CBN NEWS ANCHOR: What will happen if they don't?
TRUMP: Well, I don't even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset, but I'm sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. They've been promising it for years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And he's been promising it for years as well. Our political reporter, M.J. Lee is on the Hill with more. Some of the words out of some of these Republican senators have to give the administration pause.
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, quote, "Not everybody's having a good time." Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, "a painful process right now." Does this thing have the momentum it needs?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Poppy, I think what we're about to learn today is whether there's any life left in this bill. You're absolutely right that the mood here has been pretty pessimistic when we were speaking to Senator John McCain he told reporters yesterday that he would be surprised if this bill passed next week. Now, all of that having been said what we are about to learn in a couple of hours is exactly what changes were made to this bill, this bill that was introduced last month, and simply did not have enough support.
Leadership has been in touch with a number of the rank and file members trying to figure out what kind of changes could be made to win over some of these no votes and make them into yes votes.
And we already know some of the details of what kind of changes are expected. Of course, barring any last-minute changes we know that some $45 billion in additional funding for opioid treatment that is expected to be in the bill, more money to go towards stabilization funds, that is also expected.
Notably I will note that any big changes to Medicaid those changes are not actually expected. And that is going to be crucial for some of these moderate senators who have raised a lot of concern that there are too steep cuts that are in the original Senate bill.
And the last thing that I would note just in terms of what changes we are expecting, this Cruz amendment that we have been talking about all week even until -- even as of rather last week unclear, Cruz said so himself, whether this amendment would make it into the bill.
This is very, very important because we know that someone like Cruz, Mike Lee, they are really unwilling to support this bill unless this conservative amendment makes it into the legislation.
HARLOW: Look, a lot of people say if anyone can get it done Mitch McConnell can get it done. He couldn't last time. Will this be different? We'll see. M.J. Lee, thank you very much.
A lot ahead for us. We're watching as President Trump meets -- looking at live pictures out of Paris, the president meeting with French President Macron. High stakes for this meeting followed by high drama when the president takes reporters' questions. You can bet there will be some Russia questions in there.
Also, President Trump defending his son again over that meeting with the Russian lawyer. Why? Because of a Russian government effort. What the president says and says others like Democrats would have taken the same meeting. Would they have? We will ask one.
Also, a major break in the case of four missing men in Pennsylvania. You're looking at live pictures of the property that is being searched right now. Investigators have discovered human remains, a tragic story. We'll bring you the latest, also the person of interest ahead.
HARLOW: All right. We're just a few hours away from the president facing questions on camera for the first time since the world learned that his son, his son-in-law and then-campaign manager all went to a meeting last summer that promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton that was knowingly coming from the Russian government.
President Trump has already come out defending his son once again telling Reuters in a new interview, quote, "Many people would have taken that meeting." Joining me now Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of California. She serves on the House Foreign Affairs and House Judiciary Committees. It's nice to have you. Thank you, Congresswoman, for being here.
REPRESENTATIVE KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me on.
HARLOW: You've been very clear and outspoken in your criticism of the president. You recently tweeted a Maxine Waters quote saying, "The president will impeach himself." So now your fellow California Congressman Brad Sherman has formally put forth these articles of impeachment.
But there are many in your own party who say hold on, that's moving too fast, you know, don't go there yet. Do you support him in this move?
Well, I also believe that we need to let the process work its way through. We need to see what the Mueller investigation is going to do. I understand the interest from my colleagues and wanting to put forward articles of impeachment as well as putting forward legislation that calls for a vote of no confidence.
We in a lot of ways are responding to our constituents who are definitely demanding that that happen, but I would prefer to let the process work.
HARLOW: All right. So the president recently said in his interview with Reuters this, "most of the phony politicians who are Democrats who I watched over the last couple of days, most of those phonies act holier-than-thou, if the same thing would have happened to them, they would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat." Fort the record, would you have taken this meeting?
BASS: Absolutely not. And not only would I have not taken the meeting, I would have run as far and as fast away from that as possible. But let me just tell you something, I would have looked at that in hindsight and would have felt that the other side was setting me up.
So I think it's ludicrous to think that just anybody would take that. The Russian government calls me up or someone saying they represent the Russian government calls me up and says they have dirt on my opponent? I would run as far and as fast as possible away from that.
HARLOW: But you've gone as far, Congresswoman, to call these e-mails released by Don Jr. himself a, quote, "smoking gun and the evidence needed to move forward." Evidence of what? Evidence of something illegal? Are you saying that there was a law that you believe he broke?
BASS: Well, here's -- first of all I'm not a lawyer, let me tell you that, but let me just say that -- HARLOW: OK, but you're a member of Congress and you know what the
laws are when it comes to federal campaigns, et cetera. So do you think he broke a law?
BASS: Well, I do think he broke the law, but the question is whether or not the law applies to him in the same way that it would to Jared Kushner.
[09:25:04]And so Jared Kushner has a security clearance that should be immediately revoked. So you can't look at these two in the exact same way. I don't think that it was something that he could get arrested for, but we'll see how this process works out because I do believe that this, you know, drip, drip, drip of information --
HARLOW: Congresswoman, my apologies for interrupting you, but we are looking at live pictures of French President Emmanuel Macron just getting out of his m motorcade there. This is at (inaudible), which is a number of museums and monuments all related to French military history, also honoring veterans.
He's waiting for President Trump to arrive as well for these two days that the two will spend together in Paris. Of course, all of this the big picture celebrating Bastille Day in France and also the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.
A personal invitation that came from President Macron to President Trump at the White House shortly after the two met earlier this year.
Let's bring in our Nic Robertson, our senior international diplomatic editor. Nic, this is a big meeting for both of these men. Both alpha males. Both new presidents. Both with a lot on the line. What should we expect?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, both new to sort of this level of diplomacy, of leadership, so, you know, in some ways they've got a lot to prove. They have a lot of differences. They certainly know where those differences are.
This first sort of engagement, if you will, to set the tone President Trump is the honored respected guest for the Bastille Day celebrations. This of course this visit is steeped in French military history. You have dozens upon dozens of generals that are buried here.
You have Marshal Ferdinand Falk, who was the Supreme Allied Commander during World War I and we know part of President Trump's visit here will be to commemorate the United States coming in and joining the French, supporting the French 100 years ago today back during the First World War.
They'll visit the Tomb of Napoleon I. If ever there was a sort of a heavy solid symbol of how power passes from one leader to another, surely it must be the Sarcophagus of Napoleon. This red court size sat upon this big green slab of granite.
The power of one man who charged across Europe, who created such a name for himself then ended his years essentially in exile, eventually buried in this very honorable place where I say so many generals were buried.
The composer of the French national anthem is also buried there. So this is very much a scene setter in keeping with the military nature of the event, but also, you know, in keeping I suppose, if you will, with some of the commonalities between President Trump and President Macron that they see, if you will, some sense of common vision about ISIS.
That they see there's potential for cooperation counterterrorism that already goes on at significant level, there is potential for cooperation in Syria coming together. But then so much that divides them.
So this if you will this first meeting is in a place that gives them a chance to find what they have in common rather than to sort of immediately be thrusted into the environment where their differences on trade, on climate change, might be immediately apparent -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Nic, stay with us. Thank you for that. Let's also bring in, I believe we have Josh Rogin, do we? Josh, are you with us?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I am.
HARLOW: Hi, Josh. So Nic was just talking about the differences and also the commonalities. I mean, this is, look -- and no one will forget that white knuckle handshake between the two the first time they met. So maybe our cameras will zoom in on the handshake when President Trump arrives in just a moment.
And you'll remember French President Emmanuel Macron said there was nothing innocent about that handshake. He was showing his strength and the strength of France and President Trump was doing the same for the United States.
He has been critical of the president for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, inviting climate scientists to France after the U.S. pulled out. He also in jest said make the planet great again.
But at the same time he's been on the same page with the president somewhat when it comes to NATO and funding, committing France to spending 2 percent of GDPs on defense spending.
And also he, Macron, has been critical of Germany on trade just as President Trump has. So how important is it for President Trump to solidify a solid relationship with a western leader, i.e., Macron, right now?
ROGIN: Right, I think that's the key question. There's no way to paper over the fact that these are two leaders who have drastically opposing views of the way that the international community should operate in the direction of the world in general, on trade --