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New Questions About When Trump Learned of Son's E-mails; Senate GOP Has No Votes to Spare on Health Bill; Interview with Rep. Sean Duffy. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired July 14, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MOLLY BALL, POLITICAL WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: And he gets that from his mother's side of the family, you know. His mother, Ivana Trump is from the former Czechoslovakia. And Don Jr. is actually fluent in the Czech language.
[07:00:13] But he is a chip off the old block. And I think more than any other siblings, he's a fighter, he likes being in public, in politics. He's out there defending his dad on Twitter and on television in a much less scripted way than Ivanka or Eric or certainly Jared, who is very powerful, we know, but who you never see.
And so, you know, he's a risk-taker. He likes to go out there and fight. And that very characteristic may have taken him too far in this case.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Molly, Kate, thanks so much.
A quick programming note. Join us tonight for a special report, "The First Son, The Life of Donald Trump Jr." that's at 9:30 Eastern only at CNN.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence has become so overwhelming that he and his campaign were working with the Russians.
CAMEROTA: Even overseas new questions about Russia.
JAY SEKULOW, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Let's focus on what the president was aware of. Nothing.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It seems strange to me that those meetings were at least conveniently forgotten.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I'm more than happy to cooperate. I just want the truth to get out there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you vote no on this bill, essentially, it's a vote for Obamacare.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: The Cruz Amendment is a huge move in the right direction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans leaders didn't fix the problems. They made them a whole lot worse.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off this morning. John Berman joins me here in studio. Great to have you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here. Good morning everyone.
CAMEROTA: Feels like a Friday so far.
BERMAN: A little bit.
CAMEROTA: We're having fun, because President Trump bidding au revoir to Paris.
BERMAN: That is fun.
CAMEROTA: The president and first lady joining France's president to mark Bastille Day in this massive parade. All sorts of pageantry. It's been 100 years since American troops arrived on French soil to join World War I.
The two men said good-bye with a complicated maneuver, the never- ending handshake. We will show that to you. Mr. Trump now returns to Washington to face the crisis over his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer. There are new questions surfacing about the president's claim that he only found out about that a few days ago.
BERMAN: While that's going on, White House aides and Jared Kushner's legal team, they're facing new scrutiny from the special counsel for their role in responding to the release of Don Jr.'s e-mails.
All the intrigue going on as the roll-out of the new health care plan crafted by the Senate Republicans being -- being analyzed right now. It might still not have enough support to even reach the president's desk.
CNN has every angle covered. Let's begin with CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who's live for us in Paris this morning.
Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. President Trump is wrapping up a whirlwind trip to Paris here as we
speak. He'll be taking off momentarily on Air Force One. About 30 hours or so on the ground here in Paris. And interestingly, at least five or six of those were spent in conversation and dinner and meetings with the new French president, Emanuel Macron.
You saw that long handshake right there at the end of this Bastille Day parade. That was the reason, ostensibly, that he was invited here to Paris. Now, this also does coincide, as Alisyn was mentioning, with the 100th anniversary of U.S. troops arriving here in France.
But we did see both presidents standing and applauding as American soldiers and fighters were walking through the parade route here, as well as French fighters. And this was something that was a day of pageantry here, but also diplomacy.
But despite all this, the Russia cloud still hanging over President Trump when he returns back to the U.S.
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.
[07:05:12] SEN. MARK WARNER (R-VA), VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: 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: So the president there defending his son, of course. But as he flies back to the United States, these questions do hang over the White House and certainly will into next week, when the president's son could become the first member of the Trump inner circle to appear before Congress in this widening Russia investigation -- Alisyn and John.
CAMEROTA: Jeff, thanks so much for laying all of that out for us.
Let's bring in our political panel. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN political director David Chalian; and congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian. Great to have all of you.
David Chalian, you're here in studio with us. I'll start with you. So investigators today, it seems as though they are now trying to figure out what the president knew about this meeting, what the president knew about the e-mails requesting the meeting, and whether or not the president was involved in crafting that damage control statement that first was erroneous that the meeting was only about adoption, Russian adoption. Investigators have their hands full, because there are all sorts of conflicting statements about these three things.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. Those are certainly the questions. And the president in his remarks at the press conference yesterday seemed to indicate, well, he brought the adoption thing again. He's like adoptions and other things were discussed, some other things were discussed, which makes me wonder, "Well, what do you know about those other things that were discussed?"
Because the other question to add to your list of questions, Alisyn, is the actual content of the meeting. It is -- that to me is going to be a big avenue for investigators. We don't know what was actually discussed, what was actually proffered. We only have the characterization by Don Jr. that it was nonsense. But we don't actually know what the material was that was proffered, why he thought it was nonsense. And I think that's going to be...
BERMAN: Look, and also, adoptions were never mentioned in the e-mail exchange, at least that we saw right there. What was mentioned was Russian government information that was damaging to Hillary Clinton, No. 1.
You know, the other thing we don't know is was there a phone call between Donald Trump Jr., you know, and the Russian performer who may have been feeding this information to the publicity guy.
So all of those details need to be filled in there, Karoun. And it's just interesting that once again in this White House, their public response to something -- we've seen this in politics with other leaders over time -- but how they chose to respond to it, by giving a misleading statement, has only deepened the problems.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. And the other part of it is that there's been several misleading statements. If you're going to choose a characterization of what this was that is not true, you have to stick to it. And if you keep changing what the characterization is, then it becomes clear that none of your statements have been correct; and then people start to doubt the statements you're making at all about what actually transpired in the meeting as we are raising questions about right now.
And so you do wonder if this is -- at what level this was directed, if the president was involved in every decision that's been made, including the release, the public release of the e-mails at the very end, and now this attempt to say, "Well, it's not a big deal because everybody does it," which, you know, kind of inspires the whole, you know, two wrongs don't make it right sort of adage.
BERMAN: It's also not true. It's also not true. I mean, these things do not happen. You know, every politician I've talked to over the last four days, none of them say they would have taken that meeting.
DEMIRJIAN: Right, exactly. And especially because it is Russia. Because Russia is an adversary. We have known it's an adversary. They tried to make the argument that the meetings happened before it was -- that we were where -- the era that we're in right now, where it's all that we talk about.
Yes, but we knew Russia was an adversary before. We've been sanctioning them in 2014 over Ukraine. It wasn't exactly like it was a close friendship that it makes sense to say, "Oh, sure, we'll talk to a lawyer from Russia."
So that all is -- it goes against sensibility, basically. And as you said, there are many members of the GOP that have been reiterating over and over again right now, or asking the FBI director nominated to tell them, you know, this isn't normal. CAMEROTA: So David, this obviously -- Don Jr. is not in the
administration. Jared Kushner is. And a lot of this came to light, because Jared Kushner didn't fill out his required form for security clearance properly. And so he had to disclose this. And that's what began, as we understand it at the moment, this whole ball rolling for lawyers to start to look into this.
[07:10:17] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, let's pull back a little bit and remember the fundamental assertion from the White House over many months of this young administration, and that is, there was no collusion, no cooperation of any kind, that this is all a hoax, and it's an excuse by Democrats.
Well, we now know that all of that is not true and that they deliberately misled the American people when there were clearly figures like Kushner, like Manafort and perhaps the president who knew that there was this kind of meeting going on and who knew, according to Don Jr.'s own e-mails that they welcomed help from the Russians to help defeat Hillary Clinton.
CAMEROTA: They say that doesn't equal -- the White House, David, says that that doesn't equal collusion. It never happened.
GREGORY: Well, first of all, what does matter is that they were open and welcoming that kind of help. The fact that they had the meeting -- the fact that the president would stand up and say anyone would take that meeting, as John just said, is clearly untrue.
And it is a basic point of competence that the leader of the free world and the leader of our country should know who our adversaries are and what they might be up to. And one of the things I've said consistently here is that the willful disregard of the fact that Russia is an adversary and is out to hurt the United States and not help the United States is something that Donald Trump has repeatedly been willing to just put aside.
And whether it's because of his business relationships with Russia, whether it's because he looks up to Putin because he thinks he's a tough guy and a strong man, or whether he likes the fact that he's being flattered, all of which has clouded his judgment to make him say things that are demonstrably untrue.
And so the bigger picture here is, investigators want to look at a pattern of falsehoods from the White House as they try to make sense of and explain their behavior. It's their behavior. The president's reactions, his falsehoods, deliberately saying things that aren't true and failure to explain things that create more questions that have made this investigation worse, that have made it more intense.
In the end there may be no collusion. There may be no crime whatsoever. It may simply be incredibly bad judgment. That would be significant enough.
But the way they're acting, the way they're hiding information, the fact that the president is involved in a misleading statement coming back a week ago on Air Force One, they're going to have to account for that to the American people. And you can't behave that way and just sort of get away with it, because you put some tough guys on TV, you know, to push people around and -- and divert from the fact that they made an assertion that's not true. They didn't tell the truth about this for months.
BERMAN: We should note that President Trump has just left Paris. We understand he is on his plane flying back to Newark, New Jersey, right now. He often watches television on his flight. So if you're watching, Mr. President, good morning. Thank you for your viewership.
Before he left, he did send out a picture. He tweeted a picture of himself alongside the French leader, Emanuel Macron. He says it was a great honor to represent the United States at the magnificent Bastille Day parade.
Congratulations, President Emanuel Macron. And David Chalian, we saw this parade. We saw, you know, an incredible series of handshakes between the two leaders. You know, we see personal diplomacy at work right now. Clearly a relationship that I think Emanuel Macron is cultivating quite a bit right now, and President Trump is at least willing to entertain.
CHALIAN: Absolutely willing to entertain. I mean, I think that President Trump went on this trip to allow Macron to make the effort to build the relationship, to see -- to see if they could form something...
CAMEROTA: So mission accomplished.
CHALIAN: Well, certainly, It looks like they have formed some sort of a bond in public here. We do know that they talked at length about Syria. They talked at length about terrorism, where the two countries can work together. And it seems like their talk was a little less intense around the issues they disagree on.
So President Trump left open this notion yesterday that there might be some future work on the Paris Climate Accords that he pulled out of.
BERMAN: Do you think he meant that? I'm not sure he meant that. It sounded like the type of thing that we hear from President Trump or candidate Trump. Sure, maybe it could happen.
CHALIAN: Yes, no, I think it was sort of a brush-off kind of remark. But I don't know why he would say that. What would be -- what would be the reason to say that, unless he was trying to just, you know, keep the relationship going and not be rude to his host.
CAMEROTA: That's it. That's the reason, to make nice while he's with the French president.
CHALIAN: That very well may be his reason, going back to the original point of a relationship being cultivated.
CAMEROTA: OK. There's a lot, obviously, to analyze and watch for today. Panel, thank you very much for all of this. BERMAN: Senate Republicans, their latest health care bill is meeting
with resistance already, and they have no margin for error. Two Republican senators already say they will vote against. They'll even vote against the motion to proceed to bring it to the floor. Can the Republican leader turn the tide?
[07:15:05] CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live now from Capitol Hill. Good morning, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
Well, already it seems as if this bill is in trouble. President Trump acknowledging as such in that Twitter storm this morning, saying that he'll come back to his desk pen in hand, ready to sign, that this is something Republicans have to deliver.
Also earlier, aboard Air Force One, expressing a new appreciation for how difficult this might be, saying -- and I'm quoting here -- it's one of -- "I'd say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is health care. It's like this narrow road about a quarter of an inch wide. You get a couple here. And you say great, and then you find out you just lost four over here. Health care is tough."
And what is tough about this? The moderates and the conservatives of his own party trying to see eye to eye. The revision here including an option for cheaper plans with fewer benefits. That is a nod to the conservatives, the Ted Cruz Amendment. A provision to allow people to use their health savings account and pay for their premiums. That is not allowed under the law now. A $45 billion boost to help with opioid addiction.
No significant changes to Medicaid from the last bill, which means huge Medicaid cuts, a real serious blow to the moderates.
And finally, no repeal on taxes for the very wealthy. That a nod to the moderates.
But so far, we have two Republicans who are definite nos. The Republicans cannot afford to lose another vote. Otherwise this dies, and it dies before it is even going before a vote or debate -- John and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Suzanne, thank you very much. We will be speaking to Congressman Sean Duffy about this coming up.
Also, the president coming to his son's defense while in France, saying most people would have taken that same meeting with the Russian lawyer. Congressman Duffy is going to give us his response to that, as well.
[07:20:48] CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans unveiled their newest plan to dismantle Obamacare. Can this one pass? Let's discuss it with Republican Congressman Sean Duffy. Good morning, Congressman. REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), : Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Do you like this new revised plan?
DUFFY: Listen, I think -- I like any plan the Senate can pass. They need to get a product that you can get, you know, moderates and conservatives in the Senate to get behind. And so I think they're making good progress. I think Mitch is pushing them hard. I think a lot of senators went home over the Fourth of July break, and they got an earful from their constituents that Obamacare is failing them, prices are skyrocketing, deductibles are increasing. And they need to fix it.
CAMEROTA: But is that -- but is that the earful that they got? Because I mean, a lot of the videos that we've seen of the earful that they get is people saying do not cut Medicaid by $772 billion over the next two years. I rely on it, or we need more help for opioid abuse than what we see in here.
DUFFY: Well, I think you've seen the left, who loves Obamacare. They've been giving pressure to the House and Senate for the last, you know, six months.
But the right has been somewhat silent. But when they went home, the right has reared its head and said, "Hey, listen, I've let you do your work. I've stood pat and supported you. But if you don't get this done, we're going to, as your supporters, we're going to go ballistic on you."
I mean, so they haven't heard from this side of the political aisle in the debate until they went home. And when Republicans, conservatives who are -- and even independents were getting hurt by the health care law, Obamacare, they're mad and they're letting their Republican senator know about it.
So you think, just so that I'm clear, that the town halls that your colleagues are confronting when they go home, that people -- their constituents are mostly saying: "Come on, you've got to repeal Obamacare." That's what people are saying to them?
DUFFY: What I'm saying is you have a couple of constituencies. You have Democrats. You have liberals who have been coming to town halls for months. That's not changed. Republicans have not been engaged, because they thought the House and the Senate would get a health care bill done. When they thought -- Republicans thought that the Senate may not act, now they're engaging and they're reaching out to their senators and now they're also letting their opinions be known that no action is unacceptable in health care.
CAMEROTA: OK. So let's just dive in, you and I for a moment in terms of the details that we know so that you can tell me if you are comfortable with all of these. Here are these proposed changes to the bill: option for a cheaper plan with fewer benefits. We know that that's what Republicans have been pushing for for a long time. Why pay for benefits that you may never use? That's in there.
HSS payment allowance on premiums, meaning you have more control over your own health savings accounts.
Here's the 45 billion for substance abuse, opioid treatment. Then no changes in Medicaid from the previous bill. That's what I refer to as the $772 billion cuts over the next ten years. And then no repeal on Obamacare taxes on the wealthy. Are you comfortable with all these things?
DUFFY: What I want, Alisyn, is I want people to be able to pick a plan that works for them and the risks that they face in their life and to find a plan that fits their budget, a plan that they can afford.
And right now in my home state of Wisconsin, you might have an Obamacare gold or silver plan, and it might have a whole array of coverages that are just absolutely wonderful, but you can't afford it. Or if you can afford it, the deductible is so high, you can never use it.
DUFFY: So I want to make sure that we can still -- we can still offer those plans. This is The Cruz amendment. We can offer all those plans to the American people, or the Wisconsinites.
But we can also have insurance companies offer other plans that fit my budget and fit my...
DUFFY: My life. And I think we'll be able to save, I mean, a health savings account for health care risks in the future is a good thing, as well.
CAMEROTA: And just very quickly, but the 45 billion, that's the sticking point for the rest of these. Do you think that's enough?
DUFFY: Listen, you know, at this point, I think it is. You know, as we get into trying to wrap your hands around opioid abuses across the country, which is ravishing my own district, as well, and my state.
Like many other places in this country, if it's not enough, that Congress will act to give more. This is not an issue that's Republican or Democrat. This is just crushing communities and families. So if we go with $45 billion and we need more, I think the Congress is going to act to give more money to address this crisis.
CAMEROTA: OK. Because I mean, you know governors say that they're going to need more.
[07:25:04] DUFFY: But again, the Congress is going to act. And again, if we go through this money and we need more money, this doesn't affect just Democrats. It affects everybody. And I think more money will flow.
CAMEROTA: OK. We haven't gotten your take yet on the Don Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer now that we've seen the e-mails. How do you characterize what happened here?
DUFFY: I don't have an issue with it. So let me take a step back, Alisyn. In politics, if I meet with -- whether it's a citizen or a non-citizen, and they give me information or an idea or talk about policy. There's nothing wrong with that. That's not a crime.
And so to have a potential meeting where this source might give you evidence that the DNC was taking money from Russia or that Hillary Clinton was committing a crime, and then once you find out that this is a bogus meeting and after 20 minutes you kick them out of the office, I have no problem with what Don Jr. did. And I don't think any -- any prosecutor would either.
CAMEROTA: So the fact that it was a hostile foreign power, does that change it for you?
DUFFY: Hostile foreign power? What does that mean? So do we say you can take information from non-hostile foreign powers.
I remember looking at Barack Obama when he said to Mitt Romney, "The 1980s want their foreign policy back," basically showing love to the Russians. Or Hillary Clinton with her little red reset button. The ones who have loved the Russians have been the Democrats. And to now say, when Obama was there, they were great friends of ours, but now that Trump is there they're a hostile state. First of all, I agree, they're no friend of the U.S. I want to be clear on that.
CAMEROTA: OK, so...
DUFFY: But I think to report this...
CAMEROTA: To follow your logic, they're no friend to the U.S., so meeting with them as somebody who sends an e-mail saying that this is from the highest level of government, that's OK?
DUFFY: So my question is what are they trying to do? If this is information about money that went to the DNC from Russians, we're OK with that...
CAMEROTA: You know that Don Jr. was looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton. That's what the e-mails say. How do you feel about that?
DUFFY: So if Hillary Clinton has done something wrong, if she's committed a crime, if there was information that -- that you were going to get about what Bill Clinton did with the Russians in greasing the skids for uranium one when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, I'm OK. I don't care where they come from.
CAMEROTA: You would trust the Russians. You would trust the Russians to give you that information?
DUFFY: What I would -- what I would say, Alisyn, if I got that information, I can then -- I can run it down within my team. I can report it to the FBI. There's a number of different things that I could do with that information. But I have -- I have no problem with -- with a meeting that basically
turned into nothing. You have to recognize, Don Jr. had a 20-minute meeting.
CAMEROTA: No, I get it.
DUFFY: He said this woman is crazy, get the hell out of here.
CAMEROTA: I mean, if we believe his account -- obviously, he has a few credibility issues given that his story has changed. But if we believe his account, it turned into nothing.
So you're saying, you would -- if you got an e-mail saying that this comes from the highest level of the Russian government, we have some information from you. You would take that meeting before you called the FBI.
DUFFY: So there's two distinctions. One -- one, there is politics and legality. I think politically, I would go, you know what? I might have someone else take that meeting. I might not take that meeting myself. But I might still want the information.
But you have a family, the Trumps, who have been wildly involved in business in New York. But these aren't -- these aren't politicos. These are people who have not been involved in politics. And I think you've seen through the course of their campaign there's been some political stumbles.
CAMEROTA: So it was naivete?
DUFFY: This would probably be one of them. Yes. But I don't think -- I don't think it's a bad act on the part of Donald Jr. at all, in my opinion.
CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you, we appreciate your view. Congressman Sean Duffy, thanks so much.
DUFFY: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Have a good weekend -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Two senators -- two Republican senators already say they cannot support the latest Senate Republican health care plan. Up next, we're going to break down the changes that this plan makes with one of the original architects of Obamacare. Stay with us.