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Trouble Mounting, Trump Heads Overseas; Massive Iceberg Breaks From Antarctica; Trump Leaves "Paralyzed" White House, Flies To Paris; Internet Protests Proposed Net Neutrality Rollbacks; Brazil's Former Pres. Lula Da Silva Sentenced To Prison; Trump's FCC Chair To Undo Obama-Era Regulations. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, as the Russia collusion controversy continues to grow and with his White House described as paralyzed, U.S. President Donald Trump leaves town for a state visit to France.

SIDNER: Plus, the battle for the future of the Internet; what has tech companies like Facebook and Google, uniting with Web sites like Pornhub.

VAUSE: And one of the biggest icebergs in recorded history has broken away from Antarctica; what that says about the state of the planet as temperatures continue to rise.

SIDNER: Hello, thanks for joining us. I'm Sara Sidner.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is another hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

Just a few hours now before Donald Trump arrives in Paris. He's the official guest of the French President there to celebrate Bastille Day.

SIDNER: But while he's out of the country, Mr. Trump is leaving behind another political mess at the White House. CNN's Sara Murray has the very latest.


SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Another bombshell throwing the Trump administration off-track, leaving White House officials muddling through the aftermath of a new Russia revelation. President Trump, laying low for the fourth straight day, as administration officials saying he spent much of his time huddling with aides and watching television. His mood, anywhere from frustrated to furious. But President Trump is insisting all is well, tweeting: "The White House is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cuts, reform, and many other things. I have very little time for watching TV." This is what did advisers grapple with the fallout from a meeting last June, between a Russian lawyer, and Donald Trump Jr., Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, and former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.

In a series of e-mails, the person helping to arrange the meeting, telling Don Jr. it would include dirt on Hillary Clinton; "sensitive information", that "is part of Russia and its government's support for Trump." Now, a Top Republican close to the West Wing says, the White House is paralyzed; a blow to an administration hoping to tackle big- ticket legislative items from health care to tax reform. Still, Trump is leaping to his son's defense on Twitter saying, "My son, Donald, did a good job last night. He was open, transparent, and innocent. This is the greatest witch hunt in political history. Sad!"

A source close to the White House says Trump was dismayed by his eldest son's meeting with the Russian lawyer but doesn't believe his son ran afoul of the law. Even if Donald Jr. dissent --

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to hear him out and take it out and see what happens.

MURRAY: He says in hindsight, perhaps, he should've behaved differently.

TRUMP JR.: Listen, I think -- like I said, in retrospect, I probably would've done things a little differently. Again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me, this was opposition research.

MURRAY: Other sources close to the White House were stunned by the latest revelation, even though too long predicted Trump's reliance on his family members, political neophytes were sure to backfire. As for Trump's attorney, he insists the President had no prior knowledge of his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer.

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let's focus on what the President was aware -- nothing. He was not aware of the meeting, did not attend the meeting, and was only informed about the e-mails very recently by his counsel.

MURRAY: The Russia cloud, still hovering over the White House; Trump is taking off for Paris, hoping a few days visit to the city of light might allow the latest torrent of bad news to subside. Sara Murray, CNN, Paris.


SIDNER: And with us from Paris to discuss why Mr. Trump is going there, and what he hopes to accomplish. There is Dominic Thomas; he's the Chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. Thank you so much for joining us once again. I do want to ask you how much attention are these allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia getting in France? Not just among the leadership, but among the French people.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIRMAN, FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES AT UCLA: Well, there's a lot of media coverage, and a lot of attention to all things American politics. The French followed very closely the primaries, the whole campaign, and have paid very careful attention to what's been happening in the White House since President Trump was elected. So, there's daily coverage in the news media, but I wouldn't say it's reached a kind of obsessive level. They certainly watch very carefully the visits, the President Trump has made outside of the United States to the G7, and to the G20, and much of the focus has been on that, and then, an anticipation of his official visit to France starting today.

SIDNER: President Trump, in the past, has cited sized NATO, he's criticized France, he's criticized Germany, he's talked about trying to have closer ties with Russia. What kind of nervousness is there among the leadership of President Macron, himself, because of what he's heard from Trump's own mouth?

[01:05:15] THOMAS: Right. So, there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the role of the United States in global leadership today. If we just think back several years when President Obama would travel to major meetings, whether it was the G20, the G7, the G8, and so on, most world leaders looked for photo ops with President Obama. As we saw at the G20, which many have recalled the G19, plus the United States or the G7, the G6 plus the United States.

Many leaders were reluctant to be seen, to be embracing President Trump. And his statements, of course, on NATO, and the European Union, his critique of Angela Merkel, of the Mayor of London, and so on, have really kind of rattled the political landscape here. And I think we see here President Emmanuel Macron deliberately engaging in a policy of diplomatic -- a kind of a diplomatic offensive and strategy playing here to keep President Trump in the fold, and not to marginalize him. And inviting him to France and bringing him here for the Bastille Day celebrations is an important step in that direction.

SIDNER: What is it that they can work on? I know that they don't have much time together and this is somewhat of a photo-op, but what can they work together on?

THOMAS: Right. Well, there are some very clear issues that they're going to be discussing. I mean, first of all, the press conference has been very carefully choreographed with two questions for each of the leaders, and the real focus is going to be on the conflict in Syria, and on the question of counterterrorism. The bigger picture really is, of course, the opportunity to come and to be welcomed in France for Bastille Day is important political capital for President Trump. But I think that Emmanuel Macron is deliberately here trying to send some very clear messages to Donald Trump.

The American policy first is one thing, but it's a strong reminder of the United States' long historical involvement overseas during the First World War, Second World War, the Marshall Plan, and so on. But I think there's also another message here from Emmanuel Macron if it's so much of the 2017 campaign and was organized around the far-right National Front, which in many ways shares points of commonality with Trump's protectionist policies, America first sort of policies.

And I think that Emmanuel Macron is what trying to demonstrate here that it is possible to have engagement and discussions with the once political opponents and to try and convince them of the policies that are important to you. And I think Emmanuel Macron has not given up on the climate agreement on the Paris Accord and will try to find time to speak with President Trump about the importance of not withdrawing from the international political scene but remaining engaged.

SIDNER: Thank you so much, Dominic Thomas, there in Paris, ahead of the visit from President Trump and the celebrations for Bastille Day.

VAUSE: More now on the politics of the White House, joining us from Seattle, Washington, CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin; and here in Los Angeles, Political Analyst, Michael Genovese. OK. Good to see you, both. Michael Genovese, here, let's start with you. The U.S. President, we've heard, will have a news conference in the next couple of hours, it will be very structured. But it's a pretty sure vetted; there will be questions about the Russia collusion, Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mails. So, you know, he goes over friends, you know, this a moment when he should be strutting the world stage, all of these controversies go with him no matter where he goes.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, out of the frying pan into the fire. He leaves one set of controversies and inherits another when he goes to France. Well, he and Vladimir Putin were the two least popular leaders at the G20 meeting. And so, the President, while he will be meeting with Macron, the expectations are fairly low. And he's got the albatross around his neck that everywhere he goes, there are going to be questions about what's going back in America.

But in Europe, it's even more profound because the international system that the United States helped to create after World War II, the one that has prevented war for over 70 years, made to worse. That's the one that the President is abandoning, and the Europeans are trying to prop up. And so, yes, as your previous guest said, they're going to be talking about counterterrorism and Syria. The backdrop is the withdrawal of America from leadership, and the question is: can Europe replace the United States?

SIDNER: Let's talk about what the Russians are doing when it comes to all this and they seem intent on sort of playing down all the things that are going on here, which, of course, involve them. Here is what Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had to say.


SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER OF RUSSIA (through translator): I was astonished when I found out that a Russian attorney is accused or Donald Trump Jr. is accused of talking to a Russian lawyer. This sounds crazy to me. When you talk to a lawyer, how can this be a problem? How can this pose a threat to someone? I just found out from news on T.V. I watched my T.V. last night, and this morning, I turned on my T.V. again and this is all what Western networks are talking about. It's amazing how serious people can turn a fly into an elephant. Maybe, there is even no fly there.


[01:10:32] SIDNER: All right. He's saying there's no fly there. But Michael Zeldin, I'll go to you. Given all the legal, potential legal ramifications of the e-mails that we have all now seen, that were put out there by Donald Trump Jr. himself. They also involve Jared Kushner, as well, is this a fly-sized or elephant-sized problem for the administration?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a growing problem for the administration. It may have started out small. The President aggravated it with his tweets and his firing of the FBI Director. But it's now taking a life of its own, especially because of Donald Jr.'s e-mail transaction, and then subsequent meeting with the Russians. Remember, the initial call into him is we have dirt on Hillary Clinton, and we'd like to share it with you. His response is: I love it.

SIDNER: Right.

ZELDIN: Rather than, oh, my God, this is terrible. The Russians are trying to influence our election, I better check with the FBI about this. He loves it. He goes forward with it. At about that same time this end of June to end of July is a very critical period here because that's when Jared Kushner is getting his data operations -- operation going. That's when the Russians are beginning to do the negative news via Facebook, targeting. And all these -- and the President, now President but then-candidate Trump is saying to Russia, if you can hear me, I hope you are going to look for Hillary's missing e-mails.

So, all of this is coalescing at the same time, and now you have all these changing stories about did it happen? Did it not happen? It happened this way, but maybe the next day it happened a different way. All that bears on the credibility of these people as potential witnesses. So, it's a growing problem. I don't know where it stands on the spectrum between fly and elephant, but it's --

VAUSE: But it's very Shetland pony, perhaps.

SIDNER: Maybe smoke and fire; the better comparison there.

VAUSE: So, Donald Trump Jr., he's not a part of the White House. So, you know, in one way, he's not facing similar problems as Jared Kushner, who, you know, is a Senior Adviser to the President. And there are calls now that maybe he should not have access to top security clearance material -- classified material, as you say. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to Democrats who say that Jared Kushner's security clearance should be revoked?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Once again, we don't discuss security clearances, but I think Democrats are trying to play political games, and I think it's ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any concern over the top adviser to the President --

SANDERS: Did nothing wrong, no. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Michael Genovese, you know, political games to one side: if Jared Kushner was not Jared Kushner, son-in-law and married to Ivanka Trump, and he is Jared Kushner married, you know, to Betsy Kushner, living, you know, (INAUDIBLE). You know, he was just an ordinary bureaucrat working at the White House, would he have lost his security clearance by now or the very least suspended? He is after all the focus of an FBI investigation.

GENOVESE: Right. This is the third time he's submitted a new clearance. Yes, he would probably be in trouble. He probably would have his clearance suspended, pending an investigation. But you know, he's the favored son. He's the young prince, and he's Donald Trump's favorite son-in-law, favorite relative, and very tight with the President, and so. You give it -- they give him a special pass. And the problem is: all of this is likely to catch up with him, because of all the problems that he's caused by his own behavior.

SIDNER: It's interesting because, Donald Trump himself, he went on sort of a tweet tantrum, if you will, and started talking about some of this. And said, well, you know, I'm going to take in the meeting again myself. Is that a problem?

GENOVESE: Well, again, they play fast and loose with all these things that are Russian related. And to see the Russian representative saying what he did, it's like the Russians saying I'm shocked there's gambling at Rick's. Well, you're the guys that are running it. So, you know, there's a lot of dissembling. And the last 48 hours, the President is narrative; has exploded and has been blown out of the water. And so, the White House is scrambling for a new narrative. And narrative's important because it frames for people's heads; how you look at the problem. And those who are sympathetic to the President used to be able, 48 hours ago, to look at that and say, no, there's nothing -- there's no --

[01:15:03] VAUSE: It's a nothing burger.

SIDNER: It's a nothing burger. It's fake news. It's a witch hunt. It's --

VAUSE: I just want to -- in terms of perception, though, I mean, part of the narrative. It's not helping, there's video which CNN obtained exclusively which shows Donald Trump back in 2013 hobnobbing with pretty much everybody who is at the center of this Russian collusion controversy. You've got the family there, you also got Rob Goldstone, who is a publicist, he sent me initial e-mail to Donald Trump Jr. to set up the meeting in the first place. Michael Zeldan, I'm just wondering, is there any way this video could be used in legal proceedings?

ZELDAN: Well, it depends on how the legal proceedings play out. You know, you think of undercover FBI type of investigations that we see in the movie, where the organized crime family says I don't know anything about what you're talking about, I don't know who this person is, I never even met them. And then they show the videotape of them altogether in the back room of the restaurant and that story collapses. So it depends on what it is that it needs to be used for but I think what it does do further is undermine the confidence that people have in the veracity of those who are speaking about this, the President, and his children, and his top advisers. And that undermining of veracity really does not help them as this matures into a court case or a Mueller Special Council investigation where in the end, he will have to make evaluations.

Do I believe Former Director Comey or do I believe the President when it comes to whether they were asked to fire Flynn? Do I believe Donald Junior when he says this was just about adoptions and then he changes it to it was about Hillary and then it was about nothing. All those things don't help these people in any way, shape, or form and counsel should be telling them, and maybe they are being told this but not listening, just be quiet. Stop talking. You keep digging yourself a deeper hole.

VAUSE: When you are in a hole, stop digging.

SIDNER: Yes. But that is not something this administration is doing at all. They are not listening to anyone who is saying stop talking and tweeting. The optics here, you talk about message. You know, the press conferences are now -- we are just looking at them like oh, it's normal but they are completely abnormal. Now you have it taped and its audio. It's like we have gone back to the 1950's and listening on the radio. Does that hurt or help them?

ZELDAN: Probably in the long-run, it hurts because the President is so obsessed in controlling the narrative, he looks desperate. There's a great line from T.S. Elliot's play "The Cocktail Party" which is most of the harm done in the world is done by people who need to feel important. And that's Donald Trump. He needs to be the hammer, not the nail, the guy who stirs the drink and he's lost control of it. In losing control, he's desperate and lashing out at the people he works with. He's self-destructing. I don't know if it will continue but he really needs to become more presidential.

VAUSE: I think he is a day trader and I don't think he thinks more than 24 hours ahead and that's one of the issues here. Thank you very much for being here. Great to have you both with us. Thanks so much. We'll take a short break. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., Brazil's former President learns his fate in the corruption and money laundering trial.

SIDNER: Plus, the internet is fighting for its future as net neutrality protests sweep the web. We'll explain what it is all about and why it's happening now.


[01:21:04] SIDNER: Brazil's popular former President has been found guilty of corruption and money laundering charges. A Brazilian court sentenced Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to nine and a half years in prison on Wednesday. Our Shasta Darlington has more from Rio de Janeiro.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN BUREAU CHIEF AND INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A stunning blow for a man who was elected President twice and left office with an approval rating over 80 percent and was planning his comeback. He is leading in the polls for presidential elections next year. But now Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, has been convicted of graft and money laundering and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. He will likely appeal that conviction and be able to appeal it in freedom.

However, if the conviction is upheld he will not be able to run in elections. Again, a stunning blow for someone who is very popular in Brazil but not a complete surprise. He's been under investigation for the last year and will likely face four other trials. Federal prosecutors accuse him of masterminding the corruption and bribery scheme known as car wash. Lula himself denies the allegations and says this is a political witch hunt. In fact he is just the highest profile conviction. The corruption investigation has already brought down dozens of major league politicians and political leaders and was the driving force of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.

VAUSE: It's been described as the battle over the future of the internet as we know it. On Wednesday, tech giants like Google and Amazon joined thousands of Websites in what could be the biggest online protest ever and the issue is once again, net neutrality. In 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama urged the FCC to guarantee all internet traffic is treated equally.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This set of principles, the idea of net neutrality has unleashed the power of the internet and given innovators a chance to thrive. Abandoning these principles would threaten to end the internet as we know it.


VAUSE: Now with a new Chairman of the FCC, the Trump administration wants to roll back those regulations, arguing there are bureaucratic straight jacket reducing investments in broad band. But the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web has warned about what will happen.


TIM BERNERS-LEE, INVENTOR, WORLD WIDE WEB: What sort of web do you want? One where the cable companies control the winners and losers online? Do you want a web where the cable companies determine which opinions are read which creative ideas succeed? Which innovations actually manage to take off? That's not the web I want.


VAUSE: If all that means nothing to you, then maybe this will. A roll back of net neutrality regulations will impact internet porn. PornHub is one of many online porn sites. They say internet service providers can provide fast lanes for some companies which mean slow streaming. Evan Greer is the Campaign Director for Fight for the Future, the group behind the protest and he joins us now from Boston. Evan, good to see you. Thank you for being with us. Looking at PornHub, 66 million visitors every day. It would have to be one of the biggest online companies to join the protest.

[01:25:10] EVAN GREER, CAPMAIGN DIRECTOR, FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE: You know, the momentum today is out of control. There's beyond Porn Hub there's been so many websites from Reddit to itsy and those cool nooks and crannies of the website whether gaming sites or forums where people discuss politics. It's everything that you could think of that makes up the internet is coming together to say no to cable companies charging us extra fees or engaging in censorship.

VAUSE: And the biggest of them all is Google. The company issued this statement reading, thanks in part to net knew falsity the open internet is an unrivalled source of choice, competition, free completion and opportunity and should stay that way. Google has a fight in this. Without a free and open internet, would there even be a Google?

GREER: Really, what's at stake here is will there be a next Google or next Netflix? Net neutrality is the first amendment of the internet. It gives all of us a voice and opportunity. The internet has created so many jobs and democratized our economy and society. When we talk about what is at stake here, it's not just about videos. And even those videos, it's also about the future of freedom of expression and the future of our democracy as a whole. That's what we are talking about. It hangs in the balance and is worth fighting for.

VAUSE: Yes. And the big carrier companies who want the regulations rolled back, they're not opposed to an open internet. They say they just don't like the Obama era rules. Is there a compromise here?

GREER: Unfortunately, the cable companies are just essentially; pardon my French, full of it. They are citing misleading studies they funded. And what they are saying when they support net neutrality, they are saying we like free speech but we want to get rid of the first amendment. Title two is what prevents cable companies from engaging in censorship and charging extra fees and ruining the internet for their own profit. They are pouring a lot of money into misinformation here and people should educate themselves and make sure their voices are heard and not just the voices of lobbyists from these companies.

VAUSE: The FCC is taking comments from the public on all these proposed changes, John Oliver has been vocal and talked about how difficult it is to make a comment to the FCC. Watch this.


JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN: It seems once more, we the people, must take this matter into our own hands because the FCC are again going to invite public comment on their website and conveniently for them, the process is more complicated than it was three years ago. You have to go to and when you get in this page, you have to put in the proceeding number and hit search and on the next page restoring internet freedom is the only link. And then click express. Only then can you leave your comment.


VAUSE: Watching that, it seems the FCC may not be too interested in what people have to say which then raises the question, what are the chances here with Donald Trump in the White House and not Barack Obama?

GREER: So the reality is that outside of Washington D.C., this just isn't a partisan issue. Voters from across the spectrum, independents, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, all agree they don't want Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to be the editors of the internet. Because this isn't a partisan issue among voters that means our members of Congress are really in play here. And they oversee the FCC. So even though this FCC Chairman is a former Verizon lawyer, has made it clear that he doesn't care what the public thinks, he has to care what Congress thinks and Congress is supposed to answer to us. Everyone needs to be taking action.

We have a page so you don't have to go through all that stuff that John Oliver was just talking about. You can just go to battle of the net and easily submit a comment and contact your lawmakers with a couple of clicks. And the reality is, they really care what the public thinks about this, they know it's unpopular with voters, and they need to know that if they stand by and let the FCC get rid of these protections, they're going to be seen as enemies of the internet and enemies of freedom of speech.

[01:25:00] OK,, we'll leave it there, Evan. Thanks so much. Appreciate you being with us.

GREER: Thanks for having me on.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up, Donald Trump sits down for a television interview, and it's not with FOX News. What the president told a famous American televangelist, coming up next.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SIDNER: I'm Sara Sidner.

The headlines for you at this hour.


VAUSE: Meanwhile, in Washington, a top Republican says the White House is paralyzed after revelations Donald Trump Jr met with a Russia lawyer last year to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

SIDNER: A new video shows his father and several of the key players who set that meeting up were together in one place.

CNN's Pamela Brown has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The behind-the- scenes video, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows then-businessman Donald Trump in Las Vegas in 2013 at several events during the weekend of the Miss USA Pageant, hanging out with the men at the center of the newest development in the Russia controversy.


BROWN: The men, Russian pop singer, Emin Agalarov, and his father, Aras, a real estate developer in Russia, were helping Trump hold his Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow later that year.



BROWN: In the video, Trump is seen having dinner with the Agalarovs, along with their publicist, Rob Goldstone, seen her leaning over to talk with Trump.

On Tuesday, Trump's son, Donald Jr, released e-mails from Goldstone, pitching a meeting between the president's son and a Russian lawyer --


[01:35:00] BROWN: -- promising she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.

According to the e-mails released by Trump Jr, Emin Agalarov, seen here between Trump and Goldstone, told Goldstone to set up the meeting. Quote, "Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information. But it's part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump."


BROWN: The exclusive footage provides a closer look at the friendship between the two families and could help explain Donald Trump Jr's willingness to take the meeting arranged by Goldstone.

At dinner, Trump can be heard boasting to the men about his work on the Miss Universe Pageant.


BROWN: The next day, in front of reporters, Trump spoke grandly about the promise of taking Miss Universe to Russia.

TRUMP: I think it's a great thing for both countries. And, honestly, they wanted it in Russia very badly. BROWN: Trump predicting his pageant could even bring Russia and the

U.S. closer.

TRUMP: It's really is a great country. It's a powerful country. It's a country that we have a relationship with. But I would say it could certainly help that relationship.

BROWN: Investigators plan to examine the Trump Tower meeting and the e-mails.

On FOX News, Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr, who does not appear in the 2013 video, said he had limited knowledge of the family.

DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I met them once or twice, and a casual relationship, and talked about potential deals, and they didn't go anywhere.


BROWN: But new video and others shows the president's own connections.

TRUMP: What's wrong with you?

BROWN: In 2013, he appeared in one of Emin's music videos.

TRUMP: You just don't have a pretty face. I'm really tired of you. You're fired.

BROWN: And wished him happy birthday in a video posted on Emin's Instagram.

TRUMP: Emin, I can't believe you're turning 35.

BROWN: On CNN's new day, their lawyer says the e-mails don't add up.

SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN & ARAS AGRALAROV: It's just fantasy world. 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 being the intermediary.

BROWN (on camera): The father of the Russian pop star, Aras Agalarov, spoke out to a Russian radio station in the wake of this e-mail release and said he doesn't personally know Don Jr and also said he doesn't really known Goldstone either, saying it was a, quote, "tall tale" that Goldstone asked Trump Jr to contact him about dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: For the first time in more than two months, President Trump has given a television interview to a network that was not named FOX. He sat down with TV televangelist, Pat Robertson, of the Christian Broadcasting Network.


PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: What do you think he wants? I know he said what he wants but what do you think his game is?

TRUMP: He wants what's good for Russia. And I want what's good for the United States.


TRUMP: And I think, like in a case like Syria, where we can get together and do a cease-fire, and there are cases, many other cases where getting along can be a very positive thing. But always Putin is going to want Russia, and Trump is going to want United States. And that's the way it is. And sometimes you're not going to get along on things and sometimes you will.

But we had a good meeting. It was a face-to-face meeting. It was a long meeting. It was two hours and 15 minutes. Everyone was surprised by the amount of time, but that was a good thing, not a bad thing.


TRUMP: Yes, I think we got along very well. And I think that's a good thing. That's not a bad thing.



VAUSE: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Michael Hiltzik, is joining us now. He's a columnist with the "Los Angeles Times."

You expect the softballs from the televangelist from the Christian Broadcasting Network. But right now, it seems FOX News is giving them a run for their money.

Very quickly, here is Sean Hannity interviewing Donald Trump Jr on Tuesday night.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, HANNITY: One of the things you said tonight, maybe not so Trumpian in the sense - although I do think your father and you are a lot a like -- you said, "in retrospect."


HANNITY: Explain that a little bit more detail.

DONALD TRUMP JR: Again, I think I probably know more now. I think in the grand scheme of the hysteria that has been talked about over the last eight, nine, 10 months, things are probably different than 13 months ago when a couple of people were talking about it and they launched this notion. It's just a little bit different. I know more now, but hindsight is always 20/20.

HANNITY: Donald Trump Jr, thanks for coming in. I appreciate it.


HANNITY: I think you answered every question I could think of.


VAUSE: Every question he could think of. But I guess, Michael, the question is, ducking the tough interviews, is that a strategy that is work for the Trump family right now?

[01:39:47] MICHAEL HILTZIK, COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: It's bizarre as strategies go. It's one thing to sit down and peel verbal balls of yarn from your clack, your clique. Normally, what a normal president does, in fact, any politician on a national scale, is you want to broaden your appeal. You want to appeal to the largest possible audience. You want to get people who don't know much about you or are not sure about your policies, you want to get them on your side. What the Trumps are doing is exactly the opposite. They are preaching to the choir. They're narrowing their appeal. Nobody needs -- the Trumps don't really need to appeal to the audience of FOX News or Pat Robertson. They need to appeal to other audiences, and they're not even going on those shows.

VAUSE: When the president does sit down with a real journalist, like Lester Holt of NBC, trouble is sure to follow. Listen to this.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Monday, you met with the deputy attorney general, Rob Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Right.

HOLT: Did you ask for a recommendation?

TRUMP: What I did was, I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not --


HOLT: You had made the decision before they --


TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There's no good time to do it, by the way. They -- they were --


HOLT: In your letter, you said, "I accepted their recommendation."

TRUMP: Yes, well --

HOLT: But you already made the decision?

TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire regardless.


VAUSE: That interview was crucial on a lot of levels. It undercut his communication message coming out of the White House. Donald Trump is a seasoned guy and knows what it's like to be in the spotlight. Can you explain why he did that? Why it was such a bad interview?

HILTZIK: These are complicated issues. These are not issue that are in Donald Trump's wheel house. These are -- certainly a complicated thread for somebody like Donald Trump. He doesn't have practice fielding questions like this. And I think avoiding Lester Holt in the future and relying on Sean Hannity and Pat Robertson is, from his standpoint, the best risk-aversion strategy he can employ because he's not going to get these sorts of questions. He's not going to put his foot in a pothole as he does when he does get questions from interviewers who are practiced and who know their stuff. And we see this -- it's not only Donald Trump. We see it with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. They don't really want to take tough questions from experienced, knowledgeable interviewers. That can only be trouble for them.

VAUSE: This goes to the bigger picture of the divided country. If Donald Trump is only going to talk to Donald Trump supporters, they're going to hear what he says and everyone else will have their own opinions.

HILTZIK: Everybody else is going to hear what Donald Trump says but they're going to hear it through a sieve, little snippets, and they're not going to be the most favorable snippets for Trump. If he knew what he was doing and he was capable, he would sit down for an interview with an experienced interviewer and field those questions, and do it well, but he can't do that.

VAUSE: The president loves Twitter. He is back tweeting. And he sent out one of my favorite tweets in a long time. It came out, I think, on Wednesday. "The White House is functioning perfectly. Focused on health care, tax cuts reform and many other things." This is the best bit. "I have very little time for watching TV."

Apparently, he heard on television he was watching too much television. This is a guy obsessed with television.

HILTZIK: That's right. These are transparent statements. I think many Americans are tuning them out at this point. They're so transparently false. They're transparently self-promoting. They don't work. They didn't work all that well at the beginning. They work less and less the more you hear it. The more Donald Trump claims that things are -- the White House is a well-oiled machine, when they know they have accomplished really nothing, then I don't think anybody is being fooled. VAUSE: As a reporter, how concerned are you with reports that the GOP

and others are trying to dig up dirt on the reporters who are covering the Russia collusion story and then feeding what they get to friendly media outlets?

HILTZIK: As a reporter, and as a member of the public, I would just find it a sign of desperation. And I think it's not going to work. It's going to be obvious why they're trying it. I don't know what they're going to find but it won't be effective.

VAUSE: OK, Michael, good to speak with you.

HILTZIK: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you, sir.

[01:44:17] SIDNER: Coming up, a colossal iceberg is now adrift off Antarctica. A NASA scientist will tell us what happened and why it matters, coming up next.


SIDNER: One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded has broken away from Antarctica. You can see it in this image. The white crake shows the rift in the Larsen "C" ice shelf. The iceberg split away sometime between Monday and Wednesday.

VAUSE: Scientists say it weighs more than a trillion tons and is the size of Wales or the U.S. state of Delaware.

CNN meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, joins us now to explain the impact all this will have -- Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This thing is massive. You described it quite well there. But if you were to distribute this ice across the United States, it would cover the lower 48 in 10 centimeters of ice or snow. But the question is, is this from human- induced climate change? The verdict is still out on that. I'll leave it to you to decide that.

But one thing is for sure, is we have nifty instrumentation so determine the difference between land ice and sea ice. This is important because this determines whether or not we have rising sea levels or not.

Let me explain. Here's a diagram that my producer put together. Think about the ice -- sea ice that we have, the ice shelf that created this large, large iceberg. This is compared to or as an analogy of the ice in a glass. If you melt the ice, you're not going to see a rise in the liquid in your cup. But if you take ice cubes and place them into your favorite beverage, you're going to see the sea levels rise. That's not what we saw with this recent ice calving event. We saw it breakaway. It was already floating. So we're not expecting sea level rise to take place from this event.

But this is a massive iceberg. We all know that. It was roughly 1 trillion tons which is equivalent to 6.5 billion blue whales. If you wanted to calculate that, do a Google search. The other thing about this is the sheer mass. We're talking about seven times the size of New York City or downtown Manhattan, and that puts it into perspective, don't you think? John, Sara?


VAUSE: Lots of whales.

VAN DAM: Lots of whales, big city.

VAUSE: OK. Thanks, Derek.

SIDNER: Thank you so much, Derek.

VAN DAM: Thanks, guys.

SIDNER: Joining me now is Eric Rignot, a professor of earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and a senior research scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Thank you so much for being here.

You look at the pictures and it's massive. But how significant is this break, scientifically? What conclusions can be drawn from this event, if any?

ERIC RIGNOT, PROFESSOR OF EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE & SENOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST, NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY: It's a pretty unique event in the story of Larsen "C." We look at the last record and the point has never reached that far back in the past 125 years, since the human eye first set on the Larsen "C" in 1983. During that whole time period, calving of Larsen "C" was always in the same position and 40 kilometers further back.

SIDNER: A lot of people will be looking at this and say is this due to global warming, is there a direct link there? And some scientists are saying maybe not a direct link. How do you see this?

[01:50:02] RIGNOT: I see a direct link with the climate warming that has been prevailing in the peninsula. The peninsula has been warming up -- it's a clear record since the '50s -- by more than two degrees until 2012. This has led to the collapse of the Larsen ice shelves "A" and "B" in '95 and 2002. And this wave of warming has been progressing further south. And we expect to see the sign of that. And it follows a similar pathway to what was experienced by Larsen "B." The ice starts to retreat. The ice shelf is becoming too thin and, at some point, it reaches a threshold by which the whole ice shelf can collapse in a domino effect, like it did for Larsen "B" in March 2002, in about three weeks. So we are not at that stage for Larsen "C." It needs to calf farther back for that to happen. But the trend we see right now is following a path that seems quite familiar.

SIDNER: When you talk about that, and having the whole shelf collapse, the whole ice shelf collapse, what are some of the impacts that could have on humans and other species?

RIGNOT: It's going to have, of course, an impact on the marine life. And it's going to change the environment completely in this part of Antarctica. But the larger-scale impact for humans is that it's going to allow the glaciers that feed this floating ice, this land ice to flow faster. We've seen that for Larsen "B." It started to speed up by a factor of three to eight in 2002, and it is still flowing at this fast speed today. And that dumping of that land ice into the ocean, as was explained, is raising the sea level. It's only about one centimeter of global sea level that's held back by Larsen "C." So that's not a major threat. But what we're seeing unfold is a very good proxy as to what may happen if climate warming expands farther south in the Antarctic continent and starts teasing much bigger ice shelves that are holding much larger glaciers.

SIDNER: Eric Rignot, thank you --

RIGNOT: Thank you.

SIDNER: -- so much for explaining that to all of us. We appreciate it. The pictures are just stunning.

VAUSE: OK. And terrifying as well.

Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., one of the world's greatest mysteries, thought it had been solved with this new photograph. But wait, fake news alert, and the fate of Amelia Earhart still up in the air.


SIDNER: Director Quentin Tarantino is known for "Kill Bill," but his next project features a real-life crime story, the Manson family murders.

VAUSE: The cult leader, Charles Manson, and his followers were convicted of a series of killings in 1969. The most well-known victim was actress, Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker, Roman Polanski.

SIDNER: Sources say that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence have been approached to star in the film which Tarantino will write and direct.

[01:55:08] VAUSE: Feel good movie of the year.

OK, it was one of the greatest mysteries of all time, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

SIDNER: A new documentary thought it had uncovered a photo that showed the famed aviator after her plane crashed. That is, until two bloggers said -- those bloggers -- not so fast.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Might as well put this photo in the "fun while it lasted" file, and it didn't last long. A History Channel special on Amelia Earhart promised to shock us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it's proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

MOOS: Uh, oh.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS CORRESPONDENT: There are new doubts this morning.

MOOS: Doubts that Amelia Earhart and her navigator were photographed alive in the Marshall Islands after crashing in the Pacific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Amelia Earhart?


MOOS: No, that's probably wrong.

And her navigator, Fred Noonan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic.

MOOS: Probable not him either.

As for the blurry hunk of something being towed that was supposed to be the wreckage of their plane, don't count on it.

The documentary's theory is the pair were picked up and imprisoned by the Japanese.

But a couple of bloggers uncovered what appears to be the original photo published in a travel log book in 1935, nearly two years before Amelia Earhart even took off on her final flight.

Matt Holly, an American living in the Marshall Islands, was one of the bloggers who tracked down the photo.

MATT HOLLY, AMERICAN LIVING IN MARSHALL ISLANDS: This is one of the magical mysteries of the universe, like where did the dinosaurs go or where is Jimmy Hoffa.

MOOS (on camera): Just last week, I, and most of the world's media outlets stood.

As if the latest photo weren't already questionable enough.

Dissecting the photograph that has since been debunked.

(voice-over): Debunked by a second Japanese blogger, who says he spent half an hour Googling and found the original photo in Japan's National Library.

The History Channel says it has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to follow the facts where they lead.


MOOS: Just so they don't lead to Gullible's Island.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SIDNER: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM --

VAUSE: There's no such thing as Gullible's Island.

SIDNER: -- live from Los Angeles. No it was Gilligan's, if I do recall correctly.

VAUSE: She's Sara Sidner.

SIDNER: And he's John Vause.

VAUSE: We'll be back. Stay with us.


[02:00:08] SIDNER: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

VAUSE: Ahead this hour --