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Trump in Paris as Controversy Grips Washington; Senate GOP Unveil Latest Health Bill; Graham Questions FBI on E-mails; Missing Pennsylvania Man Found Dead. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:00] SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: "That act holier than thou, if the same thing happened to them, they would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat." President Trump insisting that there was zero coordination between his campaign and Russia, referring to collusion accusations as a "hoax made up by Democrats," and, "the greatest con job in history," a characterization rejected by Trump FBI Director Nominee at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: As the future FBI director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, NOMINEE, FBI DIRECTOR: I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.

MURRAY: The president again saying he only learned about his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer in the past few days, although exclusive video obtained by CNN from the 2013 Miss USA Pageant shows the president schmoozing with the Russian family at the center of the controversy.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (2013): These are the most powerful people in all of Russia (INAUDIBLE) the richest men in Russia.

MURRAY: President Trump also asked if he believes Vladimir Putin's denial on election interference. The president dodging instead of siding with his own intelligence chiefs, responding, "something happened and we have to find out what it is."

TRUMP: Well, when I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think, probably not.

MURRAY: In a separate interview, the president again questions a U.S. intelligence community and their conclusion that Russia meddled in the election to harm Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: If Hillary had won, our military would be disseminated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That's what Putin doesn't like about me.

Congratulations. Great job.

MURRAY: With the White House under fire, the president is hoping to change the narrative with his visit to France.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We want to reassure everybody, as we did at the G-20, as Secretary Mattis and the vice president have done in recent visits, that we stand by our allies, we stand by Article Five.

MURRAY: Presidents Trump and Emmanuel Macron looking to put their differences aside after Trump abruptly pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.


MURRAY: Now, President Trump will be meeting with Macron after a welcome reception at the U.S. embassy. Remember, these two world leaders have had their differences. Who could forget that awkward handshake at the G-7. But they will have plenty of time to stand together today. In addition to this formal bilateral meeting, they'll be holding a press conference and also having dinner, along with their spouses, at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

Back to you guys.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That sounds very glamorous. Thank you so much, Sara.

So, joining us now to discuss this trip, CNN political commentator Errol Louis, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post" Karoun Demirjian, and CNN political analyst David Drucker.

Good morning. Great to see all of you.

So, Errol, the president and first lady touched down. I think -- obviously we shared a little bit of video of that. We can see it again. This is them arriving in Paris. It will be very interesting, of course, to watch President Trump and President Macron. Their body language is always interesting, their epic handshakes. What do we -- of course, and then the press conference, which is the first time that we assume questions about Don Jr. will come up. What, Errol, are you expecting?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm expecting that in addition to all the things that we're going to end up talking about, there will be some real interesting stuff around trade and tourism and all the normal things that go on when two nations of this kind are together.

When the questions begin, though, I'm very interested to hear what the French press is going to ask because we've got this narrative and, you know, it's going to probably continue here for a long time where the president says, you know, all of American media is against him except for the conservative press, right? It's all fake news. We're making things up. We're, getting paid more somehow to say things that are damaging to him and so forth.

The French press, who are a pretty sharp bunch, they have nothing to do with any of that and they're going to ask very straightforward questions, I think, about, you know, what did you do, when did you do it, what's going on with your son, why would you take information from the Russian government, are you aware that they're trying to destabilize other western European governments and on and on and on. And it will be interesting to see what President Trump has to say about this.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, I think it's going to be fascinating to hear him speak out loud about the revelation about his son, Don Jr. And you know that's going to come up, at least with the American press, assuming he calls on genuine reporters there.

And, you know, and, Karoun, we've got a preview. The president floated a little bit of how he's going to respond to this. Number one, he said that everyone would have taken this meeting that Don Jr. took, which isn't true. We've talked to a number of members of Congress who said they would never have taken a meeting like that. And, number two, he says there was zero coordination. Listen to what he told Reuters, the president, "there was zero coordination. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. There's no coordination. This was a hoax. This was made up by the Democrats. This is the greatest con job in history, where a party sits down the day after they go their ass kicked," he said it, not me, "and they say, huh, what's our excuse?" You know, is that it, Karoun, the White House has two lines here, number one, everyone would have taken the meeting, and it's still a hoax?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I don't think that that's necessarily it because this is chapter four, I think, that we've seen in the last five days since -- or six days, or whatever it's been, less than a week since this first came out.

Look, the president's traditional point the finger and blame game right here is not quite as plausible as it usually is when he's saying, oh, don't believe the media and their fake sources and the hoax and this is all a smear job. This is his own son who put out those e-mails in which it says very clearly, hey, we've got Russian government information that's damaging to your opponent. Oh, great. I love it. It would be really ideal if it came out in late summer. And more discussion about, OK, this is a Russian lawyer with government ties. It's there in black and white. It's something his own son put out there. So now this -- the blame game of this being a hoax and don't trust the people who are saying it, who is he talking about?

[06:05:29] And at the same time he's also, as you said, in that Reuters interview, making the point of, well, you know, everybody would have done it, so no big deal, which is basically talking both ways, right? Either his son is -- I mean there's what his son put out there, which seems to suggest some level of coordination, or at least an intent to coordinate. And then at the same time he's saying, oh, we'll everybody coordinates. You can't say there's no coordination and coordination at the same time. And this is all just very confusing.

And just one other note. Just -- it's very interesting that he's in Paris right now meeting with Macron. I mean can you imagine, on a day when we've got, you know, massive icebergs breaking up from Antarctica, what they would be talking about in a different environment, when this isn't just, you know, well, it's front and center on everybody's mind, trying to clarify what's been going on in that family, really, at the epicenter of this administration with -- with these Russia ties.

CAMEROTA: It will be fascinating to see what's on the Parisian reporters' minds, the French reporters' minds --


CAMEROTA: If they do want to talk climate change. We assume that they will.

David Drucker, what do you see?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think this is a very interesting trip for the president because even though he's had a lot of frosty ties with our traditional allies, President Macron invited President Trump to meet with him and to enjoy the Bastille Day festivities, and President Trump accepted. And so I think we have to look at this as the potential for a very important relationship for this president who, you know, despite what he said coming out of the G-20 hasn't necessarily gotten along with the leader of Germany. And others in Europe are so concerned, and rightly so, about his commitment to NATO and just his commitment to the traditional U.S. role as the leader of the west, notwithstanding that speech that he delivered in Warsaw. And so I think there is so much that can come out of this, especially because really the way to Trump's heart is the personal. And so in by inviting Trump to Paris and by showing him around -- and, by the way, that restaurant in the Eiffel Tower is a great spot. There is -- you know, don't -- don't discount these things. That's how I avoided the line in the Eiffel Tower. It is a great spot. But these are the kinds of things, I think, for this president in particular given that so much of him is relying on the personal rather than the policy and values, that this could be a very useful relationship for the United States and this could be a way for Trump to sort of learn and appreciate the value of our European alliances.

BERMAN: Well, it's a useful relationship for the president today because he gets to be somewhere other than Washington, D.C., you know, facing the heat on, you know, the latest report about his son, Errol Louis. It doesn't escape, though, the greater questions about Russia and the investigation. The president was asked more about that yesterday. You know, was Russia involved? What did you tell Vladimir Putin inside the meeting? And the president's latest response is, you know what, I think something happened. Basically, I think something happened and we need to keep on looking into it. Something happened isn't exactly what the U.S. intelligence services say. They say Vladimir Putin directed, you know, a weaponized cyberattack on the U.S. election system.

LOUIS: You know, it's this odd sort of -- sort of time shifting conversation that you have with the president when he talks about these things where he says, gee, something happened, and, gee, somebody ought to look into it. We have to find out what happened. It's like, well, you know, coincidentally enough, Mr. President, you have 17 intelligence agencies, the top four of which have sort of looked into this already and they've presented some conclusions. You might want to follow up on that.

And here again, you know, the public conversation about this coming out of the White House has been almost exclusively political and never touching on what is the follow-up. How do we slam the door on this to make sure it never happens again. You know, the joint cyber security idea was floated for a couple of hours and then it went away, but there has to be some kind of a response.

BERMAN: He did say, by the way, in that answer, though, he does say, so it doesn't happen again. He did tell that to Reuters, which is a different -- a little bit of a different take on it from the president.

LOUIS: Well, we'll see what he suggests to put in place --

BERMAN: Right.

LOUIS: Whether it's legislation, best practices, keeping in mind, of course, that --

BERMAN: Sanctions.

LOUIS: Yes, all of those things have been suggested by multiple sources.

BERMAN: But speaking of time shifting, Karoun, President Trump likes to time travel back to the campaign and he was doing it again in this interview with CBN that he sat down with yesterday. So let me just play a portion where he talks again about Hillary Clinton.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Hillary had won, our military would be disseminated. 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, because from day one I wanted a strong military. He doesn't want to see that. And from one I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. He doesn't want that. He would like Hillary, where she wants to have windmills.


[06:10:17] CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, this is -- I -- what do you think, Karoun, about why the president likes to dwell in that sort of same context?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I mean, it helps feed his support, I think. I think he is just -- he's a guy that cares about the politics of it more than the -- he seems to be interested in the policies. And this seems to be a way of presenting itself.

I mean, look, there -- people on both sides of the aisle, frankly, are kind of not willing let go of the 2016 elections. You have to sometimes remind people that are opposed to the president that even if he's impeached, it doesn't make Hillary Clinton president. And the president's kind of in this mindset that he's always justifying himself and everything he's doing is, well, I'm better than Obama, well, I'm better than what you would have gotten with Clinton. I'm not sure I totally buy his explanation, especially on the military front, just because Hillary Clinton was rather hawkish for Democrats and also Trump's military plans for expanding have fallen -- I mean he's been criticized by people like John McCain and Mac Thornberry who say not good enough and that it's just all talk.

But, again, he's about branding his policies and that -- the best forum in which he thinks he can do that is to continue this narrative of the election because it diverts attention away from what he's doing now back to the choice that people had and Hillary Clinton was a polarizing figure. So I'm sure that he thinks that it helps him.

This was an interesting way to present this in terms of the Russia probe, though, because, you know, he's saying, oh, well, you know, Putin wouldn't have -- would have liked her more. We know that Putin and Clinton had a very inimical relationship, so that's probably also not true.

BERMAN: We also know from Don Jr.'s e-mails that the Russian government had incriminating, you know, information about Hillary and wanted to help Donald Trump. That he should check out his own son's e- mails, which he is now in opposition to.

All right, just hours from now, Senate Republicans will roll out their latest health care bill. There are already strong reactions before it's even released. Does Mitch McConnell have the votes to pass? We'll discuss, next.


[06:16:08] CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans will unveil the latest version of their health care bill. What changes will be made and do they have the votes? CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill.

What's the latest there, Suzanne?


Well, we're just hours away from getting that online. Five hours to be exact. Already there are two Republican senators who are objecting to this. On the conservative side, Senator Rand Paul, who says this is worse than what he had seen before. That it does not go enough to repeal Obamacare with the taxes, subsidies and regulations intact. Then you have moderates Susan Collins, the senator from Maine, who says it goes too far because of all of the cuts to Medicaid. So that is what you're dealing with.

At the same time you've got the vice president, Mike Pence, who will, again, make an encore appearance here on The Hill to try to push this through, meeting with Republican senators. And the president, who's remained low key in this latest round of negotiations, now warning those senators that there's a political and personal price to pay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand waiting for our senators to give it to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.


MALVEAUX: So, here are some of the things that we're expecting for the revised bill. Something to sweeten the pot, $45 billion in opioid treatment for addiction, taxes on wealthy Americans to remain, not repealed as the last go-ground, more money for stabilization funds, as well as no major changes in Medicaid. That is from the previous bill, meaning that there will still be severe cuts.

Alisyn. John.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Suzanne.

BERMAN: All right, Errol Louis back with us, Karoun Demirjian, David Drucker, all here.

David Drucker, you know, Suzanne mentioned that there are two Republicans against this right now. Mitch McConnell can't lose one more. One more and this thing is essentially sunk. And one of the ones who's against it is Rand Paul, who's been pretty consistent. Just listen to what he said.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I just came from the Republican caucus. Many other members behind closed doors are willing to admit that it's not a repeal bill. This needs to be the discussion. Our promise to the American people was that we would repeal Obamacare. Now it looks like we're voting, if this bill goes through, we're voting to keep Obamacare.


BERMAN: The thing is, David Drucker, there's no way to give Rand Paul what he wants or to give Ted Cruz or Mike Lee more of what they want really without taking away from the Susan Collins of the world, is there?

DRUCKER: No, and the Republicans really find themselves in a pickle here. You know, so much of this, John, is because Republicans, many of them, have changed their position on the Medicaid expansion. Seven, eight years ago when we were covering the Obamacare debate, the bill that eventually became the Affordable Care Act, I couldn't find a Republican anywhere near here that supported expanding Medicaid. Now that it's time to repeal Obamacare, you have a lot of Republicans, in the House as well, that don't want to repeal the Medicaid expansion and are very concerned about how it's going to affect their states and districts. So many rural hospitals depend on it. So many of their voters depend on it, even if they don't know it or even if they wish they did not depend on it.

And so Republicans are in this bind where their voters want them to repeal Obamacare, but they're afraid that the -- the consequences of repeal will end up leaving their constituents on the short end of the stick when it comes to health care and access and everything else. And they'll end up paying for it.

And so McConnell, Mitch McConnell, has a very narrow lane to try and get through to try and tie this all together. I think the question is, can he get the bill that they're going to introduce today on the floor and start to agree to what kind of amendments it would take to get them to 50 votes so that Mike Pence could break the tie?

One thing on the tax cuts that they're not going to get rid of in this bill, they're going to make the argument to the conservatives that they will get rid of those taxes in the tax reform bill that they're working on quietly. And so that's one sales pitch they're going to make. But this is a very difficult position they're in.

[06:20:16] CAMEROTA: Let's talk about another big event on The Hill yesterday, and that was Chris Wray's confirmation hearing or appearance there in front of the Senate committee. And he's going to be the FBI director, it looks like. It looked like it went well. They had many exchanges. It seems like the senators responded to him well. But here was a particularly interesting exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham asking the nominee what he would do in a situation -- a hypothetical situation that seemed awfully familiar. So listen to this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, let me ask you this. If I got a call from somebody saying the Russian government wants to help Lindsey Graham get re-elected, 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 advisers before you did that.

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

WRAY: I think it would be wise to let the FBI know.

GRAHAM: You're going to be the director of the FBI, pal. So here's what I want you to tell every politician. If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.

WRAY: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Errol, whatever could he be referring to, Senator Graham?

LOUIS: You know, it was actually, I think, exactly the right way to frame it, which is to say, you know, if we have a replay of what we just saw, before your predecessor was fired, what would you do? How can we avoid a repeat of that crisis? And, you know, there were smiles and there was a little bit of levity around it, but, in the end, deadly serious stuff. And, of course, you know, the nominee gave exactly the right answer, which is to say, if this happens again, number one, I'm not swearing any loyalty oaths. Number two, if you see foreign interference, reported it to us. This will become part of what the FBI does. That doesn't mean that we're out of the woods on the current crisis, but it does suggest that we won't have a repeat of it.

BERMAN: It was interesting, though. You know, he said -- he said definitely no loyalty oath. He would never swear a loyalty oath. You know, he was crystal clear on that. He said it's not a witch hunt. And he said what Bob Mueller, the special counsel, is doing, he wouldn't consider it a witch hunt.

But in that specific answer, Karoun, that we just heard, and the questioning from Lindsey Graham, it seemed to me that a specific, you know, yes or no answer would have sufficed early on. Really it was Lindsey Graham who answered the question for himself. I was a little bit curious why the nominee wouldn't be more clear about the fact that Don Jr. perhaps should have called the FBI as soon as being given that offer.

DEMIRJIAN: Well, this is classic dynamics of a hearing, right. Everybody who is hoping to get congressional confirmation tries to make the most diplomatic approach possible without actually, you know, throwing dirt on anybody's face. And Lindsey Graham is Lindsey Graham and he just is in his element playing the prosecutor again and going after these things. And he's always got, you know, a little twinge of humor there, which is -- you know, it was evident as he's saying tell us -- tell us to call the FBI. Come on, it's not that hard, right? And Wray has played ball in a way that many other -- many other people testifying before congressional panels probably would not have.

I think the other really interesting thing was to listen to the interplay back and forth. I mean Lindsey Graham is the most obvious example, but there were a lot of other times when they were asking him, specifically because Wray had said, I would resign before, you know, I compromise my integrity if I'm asked to, you know, interfere with the Russia probe in any way or anything like that if I can't convince them not to. There were a lot of people that kept -- a lot of senators that kept making him go back to those comments, on both sides of the aisle. So it is this sort of -- they have an opportunity with Wray, who's very popular on both sides of the aisle, to kind of cement what should be. It doesn't mean that you won't see a repeat of what happened before, because that was all kind of driven by the side of the president. But everyone kind of was taking the moment of saying, OK, here's what I think this should be, and Wray was playing into that because, you know, that's -- he is somebody who's trying to commit to staying independent.


Panel, thank you very much. Great to get all of your perspectives.

But we do want to get to this breaking news. There are major developments in the case of four missing young men in Pennsylvania. Authorities have made a shocking discovery. We have the latest on this murder mystery, next.


[06:28:20] BERMAN: All right, we have some breaking news out of Pennsylvania. One of four men missing since last week was found dead inside a nearly 13-foot grave and police made another discovery as well. CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us with breaking details.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's been a lot of leads in this case. Finally a big break.

Now, just to back up a minute. The four men disappeared last week in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That's about an hour outside of Philadelphia. During that time -- during this whole time, this has been a missing persons case. Now, this grim discovery. It was just announced after midnight. And the county's district attorney saying, make no mistake about this, this is a homicide.

District Attorney Weintraub confirmed the remains of 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro. They were found in a 12.5 foot deep grave underneath concrete. Other remains were also found in that same grave, but authorities have not confirmed if they are the remains of the other three missing men in this case, Jim Patrick, Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis. Authority's main suspect here, this guy right here, 20-year- old Cosmo DiNardo.

Now, the remains were found with the help of cadaver dogs on one of DiNardo's family's properties. DiNardo is in jail right now on $5 million bond after being arrested for trying to sell the car of one of the missing men. And, get this, he had been arrested on an unrelated gun charge on Monday but was released on a $1 million bail. The D.A. now says he's hoping this recent charge will give them the time they need to now file homicide charges.

Still a question though here, the motive, how are all these guys connected? Authorities won't comment on that just yet. We're learning more -- we're expected to learn more, rather, later this morning. But certainly some strong leads in this case. Hoping to bring some closure to these families.

[06:30:01] CAMEROTA: Yes, absolutely. All right, Brynn, thank you very much for the update on that.

So a hearing is underway in Britain's high court over new medical evidence in the case of baby Charlie Gard.