Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Defends Son; Interview with Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Senate Grills FBI Pick; Massive Iceberg Breaks Away; Food as Fuel; Conway uses Props to Explain; Pence's Spokesman on Russia Meetings. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:59] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In about an hour, President Trump will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and hold a joint news conference. But his trip is being somewhat overshadowed by the controversy over Don Jr.'s e-mails revealing a previously undisclosed meeting between top Trump campaign members and a Russian lawyer. In a new interview the president tells Reuters that, quote, "many people," unquote, would have taken that meeting if the opportunity presented itself.

Let's discuss this and more with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. He serves on the Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Russian election interference.

Good morning, senator.


CAMEROTA: Now that we've all seen Don Jr.'s e-mails in black and white on the front page of the papers where he expresses interest and even enthusiasm about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from what he thought was a high level Russian source, what do you do about that? What is Congress going to do about that?

BLUMENTHAL: We are investigating not only Russian interference in the election campaign, which was extraordinary, unprecedented in its scope and sophistication, but also the potential Trump campaign collusion with that Russian interference. And these e-mails are bombshell evidence of criminal intent, often the most difficult elements of --

CAMEROTA: Why? Why? Hold on, what do you mean that there are bombshells of criminal intent?

BLUMENTHAL: What they show is, as you said so well just a few minutes ago, interest and enthusiasm for working with the Russians on interfering in the election and what the signal was.

CAMEROTA: Well, hold on a second. I mean -- I mean I just want to press back on this because it's not criminal, it's not a crime, to develop opposition research on your opponent. BLUMENTHAL: Correct, not if it comes from legitimate sources and it's

obtained by legitimate means. If it's obtained by hacking into the DNC, which is a violation of law, it involves a conspiracy to violate the law and the intent on the part of Manafort, Kushner, Trump Jr. to be part of that illegal acts (ph) of --

CAMEROTA: But you're connecting these two things, which we don't see a nexus of. You're connecting the Russian hack of the DNC with whatever this meeting was that Don Jr. was trying to arrange?

BLUMENTHAL: The meeting was to obtain information. The hacking was the means to obtain that information. And there is more evidence that has to be elicited. No question that we're very far from criminal charges here and from proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But if you're asking, what's the significance of these e-mails, it is criminal intent, which is often the most difficult part of any case to prove. You know, these words "I love it" will haunt Donald Trump Jr. I can see a prosecutor's closing argument repeating those words again and again and again because they show what the purpose and motive was of this meeting, obtaining information.

CAMEROTA: They show intent, but what's the name of that crime? What's the name of the crime that loves opposition research?

BLUMENTHAL: If you want the specific statutes that may have been violated, 18 United States Code 1030, which is cyber fraud and abuse. The other conspiracy statutes that forbid defrauding the United States government by interfering with elections committed by the Russians. No question that the Russians interfered with our election. The only question is whether Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, on behalf of the Trump campaign, were part of a conspiracy to do so.

CAMEROTA: Are you saying that in your mind this rises to the level that Tim Kaine suggested, Senator Tim Kaine suggested, of treason?

BLUMENTHAL: It could rise to the level of espionage and treason if it involved participation in a conspiracy in effect to undermine the lawful functions of the United States government by a foreign power.

[08:35:02] Remember, Russia is a dangerous adversary who attacked the United States. I'd argue to you that it was an act of war by an enemy operating to try to interfere with our elections, the core of our democracy, an attack on this country and to participate in a conspiracy to accomplish that end in my view could well amount to treason. Now, again, we are far from charges or indictments here.


BLUMENTHAL: Not to mention conviction.

CAMEROTA: But, senator, I mean, what if this is what the White House says, the naivete of a political neophyte who met with somebody who misrepresented herself. She didn't have anything. She didn't offer anything. She didn't offer up any sort of oppo research or anything. And it all kind of disintegrated when they got in there. BLUMENTHAL: Well, a conspiracy need not accomplish all of its ends. In

effect the ends here, to interfere with the election, was accomplished. Maybe not in this meeting. But, again, the meeting itself was part of a larger train of events. Part of a mosaic. And a prosecutor will have to put together that tapestry. I know from my own experience as a federal prosecutor not always easy to do so, but e- mails show a critical element here that the Trump campaign was saying, we're open for business. We'll deal with you. And that is absolutely bombshell evidence.

CAMEROTA: I know that you talked to the FBI director, the nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray, yesterday, and I know, correct me if I'm wrong, that you support -- you will support him as becoming the FBI director. But you said in that conversation that you foresee a firestorm brewing that will threaten the FBI. What does that mean?

BLUMENTHAL: That means very simply we may see a repeat of Jim Comey being fired. The threat to the political independence of the FBI, the threat to its integrity and its dedication to the rule of law may again be threatened, especially as its investigation, through the independent counsel, comes closer and closer to Donald Trump himself, through his son, through his son-in-law, through his former campaign manager. And so my question to Christopher Wray was, will you resign if the president demands a pledge of loyalty or asks you to go light on someone, as he did with James Comey, and he was unequivocal and very convincing, not only in that hearing yesterday, but also when he spoke to me privately that he would resign.

And he also said very tellingly that the investigation ongoing by Special Counsel Mueller is not a witch hunt. The president's called it a witch hunt, but Christopher Wray, the next director of the FBI, I hope, has said it's no witch hunt, it should be pursued vigorously.

CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much. Nice to have you on NEW DAY.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Alisyn.

Scientists, they have their work cut out for them as a huge iceberg breaks off the Antarctic Peninsula. Is this climate change at work? And where is this iceberg headed, next.


[08:42:18] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day.

President Trump is in Paris where he'll hold a press conference in just hours. The president is expected to be asked about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer.

BERMAN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will unveil the latest Republican health care plan today. The measure is said to include more money for opioid addiction treatment and rolls out under increasing pressure. President Trump says he will be angry if this all fails.

CAMEROTA: House Republican Whip Steve Scalise is out of intensive care, but he does remain in serious condition as he battles an infection. He was critically injured last month after being shot at a congressional baseball practice.

BERMAN: One of four men missing since last week in Pennsylvania was found dead inside a nearly 13-foot grave. Police say his body was found near other human remains, but those have not yet been identified.

CAMEROTA: And a group of teenage girls from Afghanistan will be allowed to travel to the U.S. to take part in a robotics competition after their visa applications were denied twice. The story was first reported by Politico, which says President Trump personally intervened to green light their visas.

BERMAN: That's fantastic news.

CAMEROTA: That is a great news story.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to for all of the latest.

Meanwhile, scientists are watching closely as one of the largest icebergs ever recorded is breaking away, has broken away from Antarctica. CNN's Kyung Lah has more for us.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A crack more than 120 miles long on the east side of the Antarctic peninsula finally breaking off, creating a spectacular iceberg weighing more than a trillion metric tons, roughly the size of Delaware.

PROFESSOR ARADHNA TRIPATI, UCLA GEOCHEMIST: It's one of the largest icebergs in human history.

LAH: UCLA Professor Aradhna Tripati has spent her career studying Antarctic ice, traveling to the very peninsula where the ice shelf called Larson's Sea broke off. Professor Tripati has seen two other big sections of the peninsula break off and dissolve. The first in 1995, and then another in 2002. She watched as this crack grew for years, caught off guard that this break happened so soon.

What this latest break means is something scientists aren't yet agreed on. Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, is a continent covered in ice, and icebergs have been breaking away from ice shelves for millions of years. But at the end of the 20th century, the peninsula was one of the fastest warming places on the planet. That warming has slowed or reversed slightly in this century.

LAH (on camera): You learn all of this just from samples of ice?

TRIPATI: You learn it from samples of ice, from samples of rock.

LAH (voice-over): This geochemist says the overall trends in the arctic point to global warming.

TRIPATI: The fact that we've had seven out of the 12 ice shelves on Antarctica collapse in the last few decades, and this one appears to be ready to go with the breaking off of this major iceberg, that is hard to attribute to anything else.

[08:45:16] LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: All right, up next for us, the president's team pulling out all the stops and props in their defense against collusion allegations. We're getting "The Bottom Line," next.

CAMEROTA: You didn't say collusion illusion.

BERMAN: Confusion, collusion.

CAMEROTA: Plus, trying to eat less, certain foods can curb your appetite naturally. Nutritionist Lisa Drayer has more in today's "Food as Fuel."


LISA DRAYER, CNN HEALTH CONTRIBUTOR: Many of us eat too much, but it turns out some foods can actually help us cut back, like spicy red pepper flakes. They contain a compound called capsaicin, which gives it that burning sensation. But research has shown it also reduces hunger and helps people eat less at the next meal. Try sprinkling red pepper flakes on pizza, pastas and stir-fries.

Barley is another natural appetite suppressant, thanks to a unique combination of dietary fibers that make it extra filling. You may already be familiar with barley in soups, but you can also eat it for breakfast as a hot cereal.

And it may seem counterintuitive, but the right appetizer before the main course can help you eat less overall. Mixed green salad and broth based soup are your best options. Their high water content will help you feel fuller.



[08:50:14] BERMAN: All right, White House officials pushing back hard against any allegations of collusion with Russia, even using some interesting methods that have Twitter reacting a lot. Watch this.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I just want to review, in case you run out of time, this is how you see it so far. This is to help all the people at home. What's the conclusion? Collusion, no, we don't have that yet. I see illusion and delusion. So just so we're clear, everyone, four words, conclusion, collusion, no. Illusion, delusion, yes. I just thought we'd have some fun with words. Sesame's Grover word of the day perhaps, Sean.


BERMAN: All right, let's get "The Bottom Line," shall we, with CNN political analyst David Drucker.

My question to you, David, is, conjunction junction, what's your function? No, I mean --

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, you stole -- wait a minute, you stole my joke. We must -- I don't know if you've been, you know, colluding with somebody and sneaking into my head, that's what I've been thinking of for the last couple of hours.

BERMAN: What was she doing? What was she doing? Because that predictably, extremely predictably, is all over social media right now with people putting all different kinds of things on pieces of paper there trying to make light of these questions.

DRUCKER: Well, look, she was having a little fun and I don't think we should beat her up for that. I do think it was interesting that she did violate one rule, which is never restate the air when you're trying to make a correction. So she threw the collusion word out there --


DRUCKER: And she said, not yet, which I'm sure a lot of people are saying, you're right, not yet, but we're getting there. So, you know, I think this will make the rounds for a while and it's just a part of what we're dealing with these days.

CAMEROTA: It's making the rounds. And people are putting their own memes there and having different arrows pointed. And we've been enjoying words that rhyme with confusion and collusion, protrusion.

BERMAN: That's our favorite.

CAMEROTA: Protrusion. Contusion. I could go on.

So, David, are we going to talk about the Mike Pence thing?

BERMAN: Yes. So what's interesting, David, is that people were talking about what effect the Don Jr. e-mail might have or the discussion or the parameters of how we're talking about the whole Russia investigation. There was a really interesting interview yesterday with Vice President Pence's spokesperson where he would not flat out say that the vice president didn't have meetings with Russians. Watch this very carefully.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the vice president ever meet with representatives from Russia?

MARC LOTTER, VICE PRESIDENT'S SPOKESMAN: The vice president is not focused on the areas where, you know, on this campaign, especially things that happened before even he was on the ticket. As he has said, when he joined the campaign, his entire focus was on talking to the American people, taking the case that President Trump was going to make to the American people and doing everything he could to make sure he and President Trump were elected, sent to Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I understand --

LOTTER: Now his focus is getting that agenda accomplished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fully aware of the statement there. Just come back to this question. If it wasn't a private citizen from Russia, did he ever meet with representatives from the Russian government during the campaign?

LOTTER: You know, that's stuff that the -- the special prosecutors and the counsels are all looking at. I can tell you that in all my time with the vice president, I knew that he was focused entirely on talking to the American people.


CAMEROTA: Why is that tap dance happening?

DRUCKER: Yes, that's some -- that's some broad shoulder debating, as the vice president might say. Look, I think that -- I'll cut Marc Lotter some slack in that the vice president himself has been hung out to dry more than once by vouching for members of the administration regarding these meetings and regarding things like this and then it turns out they weren't telling him the whole story, he didn't have the full picture. So it could have been as simple as the interviewee not knowing all of the facts and not wanting to state anything that was going to come back later to haunt him and make it look like they were trying to cover something up.

You know, on the other hand, this is interesting because Mike Pence has always been for Republicans from the day that he was picked the person who has vouched for President Trump and vouched for the fact that whatever, you know, his peccadillos are and whatever his unconventional behavior is, at the end of the day he's rock solid, you can depend on him to put the country first and in particular to protect Republican values.

BERMAN: Yes, I don't think this means that Mike Pence had meetings with Russians. You know, we -- we don't know. But it's so different than what the vice president, when he was vice president-elect, said in January, that no one had any meetings with Russians. Now his own guy won't even say that Vice President Pence didn't have meetings with the Russians.

DRUCKER: Well, and we -- because we've seen where that rabbit hole leads them and I think that's why they're being so cautious because they never know what's going to be dug up and what they don't know. And unless he's been fully briefed and they fully vetted everything going back months, they wouldn't know for sure.

BERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, thank you for your contribution to --

BERMAN: That doesn't -- that wasn't -- that didn't do it. You tried.

DRUCKER: Conjunction junction, what's your function?

[08:55:00] CAMEROTA: Thank you for that.

DRUCKER: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: He helped, I think, dispel confusion.

BERMAN: Yes, there, that was good.

All right, strangers coming together to rescue a family caught in a rip tide. "The Good Stuff," next.


CAMEROTA: OK, it's time for "The Good Stuff." This is a really important one. Strangers banding together to help save a family's life. This all unfolded at Panama City Beach in Florida. Roberta Urse (ph) couldn't see her boys in the water, and she soon realized that they were trapped in a rip current.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming and crying that they were stuck, they couldn't go nowhere.


CAMEROTA: OK, so Roberta ran into the water, but she started getting pulled in by the current, and that's when a group of at least 80 people jumped into action. They held hands to make a human chain and saved the family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since they helped me, when I grow up, and they start -- and if they can't swim, I'm going to help them.


CAMEROTA: That is beautiful. By the way, this has happened to my kids and me where we've been in a rip tide. It is the scariest thing in the world. It's really hard to get back to shore when you're in there. And that is so beautiful.

[09:00:04] BERMAN: It took a lot of people to bring them in, which is why you've got to be really, really careful. Wonderful they were all there.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right, time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow.

Good morning to you.