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New Questions about Trump Jr.'s Meeting with Russian Lawyer; Trump & Macron Mark Bastille Day in Paris. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired July 14, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's called opposition research. That's very standard in politics.
[05:56:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really very unlikely that Trump knew nothing about this.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What we don't want to do is jump to a conclusion.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We have made a series of document requests to Donald Trump Jr.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think any witness who's been asked to testify before Congress should testify.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I'm new to politics" doesn't work. Ignorance is not a defense under the law.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The American people deserve better than Obamacare.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The meat of this bill is exactly the same as it was before, and in some ways even worse.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I promised to repeal Obamacare, to continue Obamacare.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, July 14, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is off. John Berman joins me.
Great to have you here in studio.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: It's another busy news day.
BERMAN: It is. CAMEROTA: Let's get to our starting line, a spectacular show of force
along Paris's famed Champs D'Elysees. President Trump and the first lady joining France's president to mark Bastille Day, 100 years since American troops arrived on French soil to join World War I.
But even overseas, new questions about Russia. What and when did the president know about his son's e-mails and the meeting with the Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton? President Trump defending his son, saying most people would have taken that meeting.
BERMAN: The scramble to respond to this controversy now has White House aides exposed to scrutiny from the special counsel. Sources tell CNN that aides of the president and Jared Kushner's legal team, they began strategizing in late June about how to manage the disclosure of these newly-discovered emails.
And all this going on as the latest health care bill by Senate Republicans, at least right now, is falling short of winning the support it needs. Two Republicans have already said they will not support it. But Mitch McConnell says he still wants a vote next week. We're covering every angle of this for you.
Let's begin with CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, live for us in Paris. Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
President Trump is indeed witnessing history here this morning as he is watching the Bastille Day parade, which this year coincides with the 100th anniversary of U.S. troops arriving here in France.
Now, as he's watching helicopters fly overhead and fighter jets fly, as well, there's still that Russian cloud that is looming, including those new questions this morning about what he knew and when he knew it.
ZELENY (voice-over): New questions about who knew what and when about the meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer. And the emails that prove Donald Trump Jr. thought he'd be getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Kremlin.
A source familiar with the process tells CNN that Jared Kushner and his legal team discovered the emails in mid-June. A person close to Kushner says they discussed whether or not to immediately go public. That source adding that Kushner told his lawyers he planned to sit down with the president to discuss the June 2016 meeting, an interaction "The New York Times" reports took place. All this raising doubt about the president's insistence that he only learned about the emails in the past few days.
JAY SEKULOW, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: The president, by the way, never saw an e-mail, did not see the e-mail until it was seen today. DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: It was such a nothing, there
was nothing to tell. I wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff.
ZELENY: Yahoo! News also reporting that sources tell them that two members of President Trump's personal legal team were informed about the e-mails three weeks ago.
Despite this knowledge, the president's son only publicly acknowledged the meeting with the Russian lawyer after he was approached by "The New York Times" last weekend, leaving the White House scrambling to craft a response, and further drawing the president's closest aides into a crisis deepening by the day.
WARNER: We feel it's very important that we have all the appropriate information so we can ask the right questions.
ZELENY: The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN the panel will request additional documents from both Trump Jr. and Kushner.
WARNER: It seems strange to me that those meetings were, at least, conveniently forgotten, at least by Mr. Kushner.
ZELENY: And Republicans and Democrats leading the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed they will request Trump Jr.'s testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sending a letter to request his presence.
ZELENY: The president appearing to support that idea in a conversation with reporters aboard Air Force One flying to Paris before issuing this staunch defense of his eldest son.
TRUMP: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. Most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research.
ZELENY: But that simply is not true. Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as President Trump's own nominee to be the next FBI director, have said that that meeting should have raised red flags for those Trump campaign officials a year ago. So all of those questions will be awaiting the president when he flies back to the United States later today.
But for the next couple hours or so, the president is going to be sitting next to the French president, Emanuel Macron, watching all this military might go forward. And it's certainly a moment the French president tried to impress on President Trump about his "America first" policy, his isolationist policies, a bit of a history lesson here as there are U.S. troops marching in this parade as long -- with the French troops -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: And Jeff, very interesting to watch their relationship develop as we watch live what looks like possibly the end of this parade that they're watching.
So despite their differences on issues and the rocky start to their relationship weeks ago, President Trump and French President Emanuel Macron are standing side by side right now to mark Bastille Day with this impressive military parade.
CNN's Melissa Bell is along the parade route in Paris. Tell us all the pageantry and all the symbolism here.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it has been an extraordinary display, not just of the military ties between the United States and France, Alisyn, but also the history of those ties with that sort of history lesson, the beginning of this parade this year specifically about World War I and the entry of the United States into that war.
And you had the sense even yesterday, with the events that were planned here for Donald Trump, that was Emanuel Macron's plan all along, to say, "Look, you may have been pursuing an isolationist policy. Your discourse, your language so far might have raised alarm bells here in Europe," and certainly, it's done that, Alisyn, but perhaps by reminding you of the importance of these ties and of the reason that they were drawn and of the fact that they were drawn in blood a century ago, perhaps Donald Trump can be brought back into the fold.
And I've been watching throughout his ceremony. It's been extraordinary, Alisyn, watching the two men continue that extraordinary complicity that we saw emerge from that press conference yesterday, chatting throughout, looking as though they were almost friends. And I wonder whether Donald Trump will leave here with a sense that at least there is one European leader with whom he can do business. And if Emanuel Macron has won that, then he's achieved probably more than he'd hoped to when he extended this invitation -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Melissa, thank you very much. We see them applauding now, just looking happy, beaming, and the music was striking up again.
BERMAN: You know, at one point as Emanuel Macron and Donald Trump grow closer, Emanuel Macron is 39 years old, the same age as Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr., whom the president of the United States keeps referring to as a young man, as if he is, you know, a distant infant. But he's sitting next to a leader of a major country here, and maybe his chief ally.
CAMEROTA: There are a lot of interesting parallels that we'll get to.
CAMEROTA: So let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analysts David Gregory and Ron Brownstein; and congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian. Great to have all of you.
So David, before we get to the investigation and all the new threads that are developing here, do you want to just remark on this very interesting relationship that continues to develop between president Macron and President Trump?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is really a fascinating display that we've been treated to, and an amazing spectacle of this parade.
[06:05:07] I think that President Trump, especially someone who is so new to politics and the presidency, is very much figuring out these relationships as he goes along. And not unlike other presidents, is striking up relationships based on the chemistry that he feels in the course of these set pieces: meetings like this, being put in positions like this. And if he -- if he finds a bond, if there is a spark that develops, he's really going to run with that. We saw that with the Chinese premier. We may now be seeing it with the French president, as he's new to office, as well.
And I think Macron has also played this relationship rather well, standing up to Trump in various points with small gestures and larger gestures. And I think this may be a sense that the president has that he has some acceptance among a new European leader, where he feels some chilliness with the more prominent leaders like Merkel in Germany.
BERMAN: All right, Ron Brownstein, what did the president know and when did he know it? It's a cliche question. But it's really -- it's really in play right now because of this new reporting from CNN overnight that says that a lot of the White House aides might now be in jeopardy of being investigated by the special counsel because of this -- how this all unfolded.
Yahoo!, Michael Itzkoff reported that sources told Yahoo! News that Marc Kasowitz, the president's chief lawyer in the Russia investigation; Alan Garten, executive vice president, chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, were both informed about the e- mails in the third week of June after they were discovered by lawyers for Kushner.
And then we know because of the reporting from "The New York Times" over the weekend that White House aides were part of the initial very misleading response from Donald Trump Jr., and now they're going to have to answer for this, maybe -- you know, maybe under oath, Ron.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, that is why, you can see in this just little development, why these investigations are so debilitating for the White House. Because the permutations, the variations are just infinite.
And look, this continues a pattern. If, in fact, the president was aware of this earlier than he said, it's sort of raising to the ultimate level what we have seen throughout.
I mean, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort all knew that this meeting occurred. And yet, they either participated in or were silent as others argued for months, including the vice president, that there was no contact with anyone from Russia.
One of the reasons Michael Flynn had to leave the administration, ostensibly, was because he misled the vice president about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Jared Kushner allowed the -- also allowed the vice president to go on national TV and say there were no contacts with the Russians.
So, you know, this -- taking this to the level of whether the president was misleading about whether -- when he knew about this and participated, potentially, in a statement that was completely misleading about the purpose of this meeting, contradicted by the plain language in the e-mails, as I said, just extends a pattern that we have seen from the outset, raising it to the highest level possible.
CAMEROTA: Karoun, another confusing bit of reporting that investigators are now looking into is whether or not President Trump -- when he knew about the meeting, if he knew about the meeting, and if he was involved in the crafting of that first damage control statement that was the misleading one that was wrong, about what the meeting was originally about. It wasn't about adoption.
So that was supposedly crafted on the plane back from the visit after the G-20, and we don't know whether the president was involved. You know, his lawyer, Jay Sekulow, was on our air and basically said the president wasn't involved and didn't know anything about that. But there are other threads and reporting that suggest otherwise.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. And it also raises the question of why lawyers might have been involved when the president himself wasn't involved, when the president and his son and his son-in-law have different legal teams at this point.
So the question basically takes us back a few weeks. It doesn't take us all the way back to last year at this point about who knew what when. And if it becomes that, then that's a whole other host of questions that we'll have to examine about what level of coordination this rises to or intent to coordinate with Russian officials.
But it does raise the question of who is trying to -- what message is trying to be sent here, how much obfuscation. Because remember, there were four different stories as to what actually happened here between it didn't happen at all; it was a Russian adoption meeting; to now where it's like, "OK, it's exactly what it said it was in the e-mails, but it's not a big deal because everybody does it."
Although to tell you the truth, we're not even fully there because, as the president said in his press conference comments, it's a Russian lawyer, not a Russian government lawyer, which doesn't match with what was in that e-mail. It said "Russian government lawyer."
So if the president is directing this, that's extremely problematic for him, because this is raising the most hard and fast allegations of intent to coordinate or collude that we've yet seen.
BERMAN: Looking at live pictures right now from Paris. It looks like the parade is wrapping up there and the celebration of Bastille Day. The French president, Emanuel Macron, right there, President Trump looking on. Very shortly, President Trump will leave the parade, heading to the airport and return to the United States. He's spending the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster here in New Jersey.
[06:10:11] The flight last week home from Europe very eventful. Who knows how eventful this flight home will be?
You know, David Gregory, Karoun was just talking right there about the response from the White House. And we are talking right now about June and July of this year, about when the president knew and what did he do about it, not, as of now, back to last year.
Misleading the American public, Jeffrey Toobin and other lawyers will tell you, not in and of itself illegal. I mean, you can talk about the moral ramifications of that, but you can mislead and lie to "The New York Times" all you want. It won't get you thrown in jail.
However, it will raise the eyebrows, no question, David, of the special counsel that's looking into this. Why was the White House so concerned about the timing of this?
GREGORY: So concerned about the timing? Why, by the way, I mean, with this revelation about the e-mails, we know that it contradicts months and months of White House denials about the very substance of this investigation which the president continues to call a witch hunt and has called a hoax when it is clearly not.
So what is the president hiding? What are those aides hiding? They knew about this. They decided not to be forthcoming about it. The president has never come out and had a press conference to answer any and all questions regarding this. They simply don't come clean. And that's why this thing is so suspicious and has been now for so long.
Look, the president made very clear when he was a candidate that he didn't take any of the prospect of Russian interference seriously. And now as the leader of the country, he still doesn't take it seriously.
So there is a legal investigation going on about potential cooperation with an attempt to interfere. But this is fundamentally a leadership question about how seriously the president takes this and what he'll do to prevent it from ever happening again.
And at the same time, we have to remember that while the president embroils himself in his own communications, his own botched communication strategy, because he takes it over, he doesn't trust his communications people -- they turn off the cameras at press briefings; they are not leveling with the American people -- other things are not getting done.
Here's a president who's on the sidelines just hoping that there's a health care repeal bill when he campaigned on it being the No. 1 thing that he was going to do, and he's really a spectator in this process. It's not leadership, and it's not driving an agenda. And that's what's got to worry people around him and, certainly, his supporters.
CAMEROTA: Hey, Ron, what I hear coming out of the White House is this belief that because no information was exchanged, no dirt was handed over, reportedly, from this Russian lawyer, the White House and the president think, end of story, nothing to see here.
CAMEROTA: They don't think that, because of the enthusiasm before the meeting expressed by Don Jr. and the receptiveness to the meeting, that that's where the problem lies.
BROWNSTEIN: Look, there are so many issues there, Alisyn. And the first thing and one I felt from the beginning -- as I said, these kind of investigations are very difficult on a White House. They're also very difficult for the media, because we are left to debate allegations and charges back and forth without a full understanding of the facts that the special prosecutor is ultimately going to have in their possession.
Whatever we are saying about what happened at this meeting and potentially other interactions is inevitably subject to change as people are testifying under oath. I mean, it's one thing, as David said, to change your story to "The New York Times." But before long there are going to be people testifying under oath, probably in front of multiple venues.
And even without the possibility that the meeting looks different when all of the facts are in and other interactions may change our picture of it, there is the threshold issue, which the FBI director nominee noted. If you get an e-mail that says, "This is part of the Russian government effort to help your father," and you take the meeting and you don't tell anybody, that is a distinctive and unusual choice.
BERMAN: All right, guys. Stick around. We've got a lot more to talk about. We've got our eye on Paris right now, where the parade on Bastille Day is wrapping up. President Trump has been watching the whole thing in the city of Paris, a city by the way, that he slammed repeatedly during the presidential campaign; he slammed, actually, even as president. Now the president's singing its praises. Why the sudden change of heart? Much more next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:18:29] TRUMP: I have friends who used to go to Paris. They don't go anymore. They say, "No, Paris isn't Paris."
I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: What you just missed was President Donald Trump and the French leader, Emanuel Macron, they were shaking hands. That was about a 30-second handshake...
CAMEROTA: It was epic.
BERMAN: ... they just had on that stage right there.
CAMEROTA: We're going to rerack that tape.
BERMAN: It was the handshake to end all handshakes. The mother of all handshakes from the French leader, President Emanuel Macron, and President Donald Trump as they're leaving this Bastille Day celebration.
What a fascinating trip this has been, one of friendship, following that sound bite you just heard from candidate Donald Trump, who disparaged Paris, really, every chance he got. He talked about a friend Jim, Jim who used to go to Paris all the time and now won't go to Paris, because he's afraid for his security.
The Associated Press, by the way, just went looking for Jim; couldn't exactly find Jim. But that's another story.
Want to bring back...
CAMEROTA: Can I just superficially say that I don't want to forget the first ladies? They both, obviously, are married to quite glamorous, fashionable women, who -- it's just a -- it's just a beautiful picture of the four of them in front of this, you know, Parisian crowd at Bastille Day and along with their first ladies. It's just very -- it's fun to watch.
BERMAN: President Trump noted yesterday France, of course, America's oldest ally. President Trump said some people don't know that. It's actually part of usually basic American history. Lafayette is the name that comes up from time to time when studying the Revolutionary War.
[06:20:07] But President Trump clearly, I think, enamored with the reception he has received from the official, you know, French leadership over the last week and, in fact, months, since Emanuel Macron was elected president.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I mean, you can hear his change of tone. His eyes seem to have been opened to the beauty of Paris and the magic of Paris. He talked all about that. So different than the sound bite we just played when he was skeptical about the merits of Paris and suggested it had become dangerous. And now you see all this pageantry.
BERMAN: Which, by the way, President Trump loves. And I think Emanuel Macron, president of France, knows that. Here's another handshake, second handshake in less than five minutes. Watch it.
CAMEROTA: This -- nobody is letting go. Oh, it's -- now they're arm wrestling. Wait a minute. What's happening here? This has morphed. It's a handshake hug. There's a lot happening. What? It's a double handshake. OK. This is -- this is the master of handshaking.
BERMAN: I have to say, I would assume that both presidents actually enjoy now all the focus on their various handshakes and probably make a joke of it in private, given how much everyone has spoken of it. But I think, you know, you can tell there is a new type of affection there. Another one.
CAMEROTA: That was a hug.
BERMAN: I was just going to say, one of the things that President Emanuel Macron knows is that President Trump does love pageantry. Remember all the reports around his own inauguration. That President Trump wanted a more traditional military presence there, you know, a more traditional military-type parade, which doesn't happen at U.S. inaugurations. Emanuel Macron probably knew that and that President Trump might appreciate this type of parade. Also, this specific invite on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. involvement in World War I. It's something that President Trump surely loves.
And the big lunch yesterday, or dinner, I think it was, Paris time, on top of the Eiffel Tower, you know, very elegant. Something, again, that probably appeals to President Trump's sensibilities. You can see the president waving good-bye.
CAMEROTA: And applauding Paris.
BERMAN: Again, very different from the campaign rhetoric we heard from him.
Let's bring back our panel: David Gregory, Ron Brownstein, Karoun Demirjian.
Karoun, we're not going to make you talk about the handshakes that we just witnessed, the several handshakes we just witnessed. But we will make you talk about what they represent. Because again, this is something very different. What we are seeing right now, his behavior as president, his posture toward Paris, as it will, quite different than what we saw from candidate Donald Trump. Why the change?
DEMIRJIAN: Well, he's now president and has to work with these people.
And Macron has also made a very concerted effort to make sure that he is reaching out to Donald Trump, despite his "make our planet great again," you know, criticism of the president when he left the Paris Climate Accords. He has then made a point of trying to engage.
And in a way, I think it's a very good thing that he's putting Trump -- bringing Trump to Paris for a display like this, because you know, these sorts of ostentatious displays are the sort of thing that you see in countries that are not part of the West more often. Like Moscow does this sort of thing all the time. You see this sort of display of grandeur and military pomp and circumstance happen in states that have more strong men leaders.
So the fact that we're getting a taste of this from a western leader who's clearly kind of figured out what appeals to Trump and how to, as much as he's taken a strong stance of criticizing him, also appeal to his taste for these things, his stature as president of the United States, and you know, bringing him for the most special day in France is flattering to his ego, as well. That is smart politics right now. CAMEROTA: David Gregory, this is -- I just see it as such vintage
President Trump. You know, he -- he can make a 180-degree turn in his opinion of something. You know?
So, first, he has this kind of hunch about Paris because, let's face it, there were tragic and horrible terrorist attacks. So he thinks that it's just a dangerous city, and he says that. And then he gets there and gets a warm reception, and he's suddenly sort of beguiled by France and its people and its leaders. And, you know, he then loves Paris.
GREGORY: Well, I think that this is actually the kind of transformation that happens when someone moves from being a candidate to being a leader of state, a head of state, that is more understandable. There's the rhetoric of the campaign and talking about terrorism, and then it's being the president of the United States and meeting the new leader.
And I come back to the point I made before. I think for the president, who doesn't really have an ideological core and he doesn't really have a core even with regard to his foreign policy; for him, personal relationships are really what matter. And I think if he has a spark of a relationship here with the Europeans that he feels is more positive than that that he's had with German Chancellor Merkel or even with Theresa May, then he wants to run with this, because he thinks that he can actually achieve something.
[06:25:15] We've seen this in past presidents. Berman and I saw this with President Bush and his first encounters with Vladimir Putin, a sense of personal chemistry, believing at that point they can make something of that.
And I think in this case there is, no question, an appeal to ego, that he enjoys being part of this moment, something that he has not been part of.
So what I think it contradicts at the moment is a president who wants to run as -- and even govern as a more nativist president who's going to try to isolate foreign countries on trade and national security matters, now realizing, "Hey, I've got maybe some new room here as the leader of the free world to exercise some will."
BROWNSTEIN: You know...
CAMEROTA: All right. OK, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say, you know, Macron clearly is positioning himself as the bridge between a conservative U.S. president and a European continent that is deeply skeptical of his "America first" vision.
There's a precedent and an analog for this, and it did not end well. This is very similar to, I think, what former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is a brilliant politician, positioned himself as the bridge between George W. Bush and Europe, and that ultimately divided his party and led to him being called, you know, Bush's poodle when he -- when he went to the extent of supporting the war in Iraq and really debilitated the Labor Party.
Eventually, the gap between the fundamental world view of Macron and Trump puts limits on this relationship even though, clearly, I think he's being designated as the bridge between this president and a Europe that is dubious of many of his views of world affairs.
CUOMO: Some people call him the Trump whisperer in Europe, which will be interesting to see.
CAMEROTA: Interesting perspective, panel. Thank you very much for standing by with us through all that. So Senate Republicans are unveiling their new plan to overhaul Obamacare. Can they pass it? What is new in it? We'll tell you. We'll be right back.