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Russia Investigation; Turkey's Failed Coup Anniversary; Kid Rock Running for U.S. Senate? Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired July 15, 2017 - 00:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. President Trump returns home amid new revelations about that controversial meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer. It appears more people were in the room.

In Turkey, the president marks one year since a failed coup attempt by sacking thousands more police and civil servants. We'll tell you what he said as he addressed his country.

Later, a closer look at whether President Trump has inspired a celebrity friend to run for office. None other than Kid Rock may seek a new stage in the U.S. Senate.

It's all ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta and we begin right now.


ALLEN: Thank you again for joining us.

U.S. President Donald Trump returned from Paris on Friday to even deeper political turmoil than when he left. We are now learning the controversial meeting in June 2016 between Mr. Trump's oldest son and a Russian lawyer, on the pretext of gathering damaging information on Hillary Clinton, was attended by more people than previously disclosed.

Still, the president's attorney insists Mr. Trump learned of it only recently.


JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So I think we're trying -- the meeting was not an issue until what?

E-mails were released. Here's the legal issue.

What law was violated by that meeting?

And your experts have said it, too: nothing. And at the end of the day, that's what this is about.


ALLEN: President Trump is spending the weekend at his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.


(INAUDIBLE) a visitor, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, fresh off Air Force One, all the way from France.


ALLEN: Fresh back from France, Mr. Trump's club is hosting this year's U.S. Women's Open golf tournament. The president, as you likely know, is an avid golfer and it will give him a short break from the political storm in Washington. For the latest on that, here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another player has emerged in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, despite Donald Trump Jr.'s insistence he disclosed everything there was to know about the meeting with the release of several e-mails Tuesday.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: So, as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it?

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is everything. This is everything.

SCHNEIDER: Today, news that Russian American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin also in attendance.

Akhmetshin told the Associated Press he was in the room for the 20-to- 30 minute meeting with Trump's eldest son and Veselnitskaya that also included publicist Rob Goldstone, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now a top adviser to the president.

CNN has learned at least two others were in the room, a translator and a representative of the Agalarov family. Akhmetshin is a registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya's organization that is focused on overturning the American sanctions against human rights abusers in Russia, according to lobbying records.

Akhmetshin's lobbying caught the attention of Senator Chuck Grassley, who described him a Russian immigrant acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests, apparently with ties to Russian intelligence. That was in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting Akhmetshin's immigration history earlier this year.

Akhmetshin denied to "The Washington Post" that he served as a Russian intelligence agent, saying: "I never worked for the Russian government. I served as a soldier for two years. At no time have I ever worked for the Russian government or any of its agencies. I was not an intelligence officer, never."

The e-mail chain released Tuesday indicating there was another person at the meeting.

The British publicist who arranged it, Rob Goldstone, wrote this to Donald Trump Jr. two days before: "I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.'

No names producing those names was ever released by Don Jr.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.

It was a short meeting.

SCHNEIDER: President Trump defended his son while speaking in Paris, but continues to insist he didn't know anything about the meeting until several days before Don Jr.'s e-mails were released.

This morning, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway seemed to suggest that more evidence was needed to prove collusion.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Well, even the goalposts had been moved. We were promised systemic -- hard evidence of systemic, sustained, furtive collusion.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The scramble to respond to the details trickling out may have exposed some White House aides to special counsel scrutiny. They could be called by Robert Mueller and his team to explain what they learned about this June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Sources close to --


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): -- Jared Kushner's legal team say White House aides and Kushner's lawyers began strategizing in late June how to manage any later disclosures of the e-mails Kushner's team discovered from Don Jr.

Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has now joined the growing chorus of lawmakers pushing for Jared Kushner's security clearance to be revoked.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: It is absolutely ridiculous he should have that clearance. It is not justified in any way. The president could revoke it in a moment and he should.

SCHNEIDER: No official response from the White House but we do know that top aides are well aware of this changing story of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting in June 2016 and, of course, they are not happy with shifting details -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, joins us now from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Larry, thank you for joining us. This is an issue that seems to keep evolving.

Now that we know that a Russian lobbyist was in that now infamous or not infamous meeting, why would the Trump team lie about it?

Who was there?

His lieutenants even praised Donald Trump Jr. for his transparency this week when now we know he wasn't being transparent. He was covering up.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: He certainly was. And I think the underlying premise was they hoped this would never be discovered.

And, of course, the irony is Donald Trump Jr.'s brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, is really the source of all of this since he had to update his papers for security clearance.

Look. This violates the basic rule of scandals that we've talked about really since the beginning of the Trump administration. Drip, drip, drip. Dribble, dribble, dribble. That's what you always avoid.

You try to get it all out as quickly as possible and actually be transparent because, if you aren't, you're going to pay for it, just like Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump administration are paying for this now.

ALLEN: David Gergen, who has worked for Republican and Democrat White Houses, said this could be the most incompetent cover-up in history.

So why, after many months in office and seeing how relentless the news media is --


ALLEN: -- to get to the truth, why wouldn't the Trump team think, well, let's get ahead of this, let's be transparent, let's try things differently?

SABATO: Well, first, David Gergen is absolutely correct. This is incredibly incompetent.

Look, why isn't it happening?

Because I don't think there is anybody in the White House, maybe even his family members, who can really talk turkey to President Trump. No one wants to give him bad news and, when they do, he ignores it.

Sometimes apparently they have sat him down and explained the facts of life as it applies to his administration, to Washington and the scandal. But either he's not interested in listening or he listens and then, at first opportunity, changes course. So I don't know what you do about that. You can change lots of things

in the White House but you can't change the person in the Oval Office.

ALLEN: Now though, that this president has lawyers speaking out for him and trying to explain this, when you somehow wonder if Sekulow knows all the facts, trying to explain away this meeting and the mishaps and the missteps surrounding it with his lawyers now beefing up around him due to the Mueller investigation, one would think maybe they could have an impact with this president.

SABATO: Again, the report is, at least, maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. But the report is that the lawyers also can't contain the president. They do, as is their legal responsibility, they outline the facts for the president. They recommend actions.

They think he's accepted those recommendations. And then it will be an hour or two or a day or a week or it will show up on Twitter that, in fact, he's reversed course.

ALLEN: And what of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, his adviser and some saying that his security clearance should be revoked after he for some reason forgot to mention this meeting and another on the forms he had to fill out?

SABATO: Well, apparently the president is effectively the only person who can revoke that security clearance. And I don't think that's going to happen.

ALLEN: No, I don't think so.

SABATO: Lot of different reasons. But it will continue to be an issue simply because Trump will not revoke it. There are many people, mainly Democrats but now some Republicans seem to be having questions about whether Kushner should have that security clearance.

ALLEN: Larry Sabato, thank you.

SABATO: Thanks, Natalie.


ALLEN: The president says he was not aware of his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer until very recently. Now a former top Trump campaign adviser is saying he never heard anyone in the campaign mention Russia.

Michael Caputo testified before the House Intelligence Committee Friday. The public relations specialist lived in Moscow for several years. He's one of several former Trump campaign aides who were being questioned as part of --


ALLEN: -- multiple investigations into Russian meddling in last year's election.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I had no contact with Russians and I never heard of anyone in the Trump campaign talking with Russians.

But I never was asked questions about my time in Russia, that I never even spoke to anybody about Russia, I never heard the word Russia and we did not use Russian dressing. There was absolutely no discussion of Russia on the Trump campaign to the day I left.


ALLEN: CNN's Drew Griffin sat down with Caputo before Friday's Capitol Hill hearing.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Michael Caputo wrapped up his testimony late Friday afternoon in front of House investigators. He said he denied there was any involvement in Russia while he was part of the Trump campaign.

He is a longtime supporter of Donald Trump but he was no fan of how this campaign was run. He was actually fired from the Trump campaign in June of last year after seven months of infighting with campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

In his closed door session in Congress, he says that he told House members he saw no collusion with Russia. In fact, no one in his circle even spoke of Russia to him at all. Not even over Russian policy issues because the campaign, he says, was in constant disarray.

Let me ask you some questions you'll probably get in Congress.

Before, during, or after your involvement in the Trump campaign, did you bring any Russians to that campaign? Did you talk about Russia or the possible help the Russian government could give the campaign?

CAPUTO: Never once. Never once.

GRIFFIN: Did you overhear anybody talking about collusion, getting help from the Russians, either through information, through fake news spreading, through tweets.

CAPUTO: No. I heard nothing of the kind. In fact, we were so busy just trying to keep up with the sun rising and setting on that campaign that I can't imagine anyone had the time, nor the wherewithal, to go out there and even do something like this. Anybody who covered the Trump effort knew this was a pell-mell operation from the moment he woke up in the morning until the moment he went to bed.

GRIFFIN: I've heard it described as a (INAUDIBLE) show.

Too harsh?

CAPUTO: Too harsh for family television, yes. GRIFFIN: This is cable.

CAPUTO: Right. OK. Yes, I think that - I think the Trump campaign was in many ways a (INAUDIBLE) show. There's no question about it. But that was always to be expected. He's not a politician.

GRIFFIN: Michael Caputo is important to U.S. congressional investigators because of his longtime ties to Russia and his ties to several other players in the Trump campaign.

He was a protege of Roger Stone, a friend and colleague of Paul Manafort, both of whom are expected to testify in these investigations. He also worked for years in Moscow as a political consultant and a relations expert working for politicians, for major Russian-owned companies, all with ties to the Kremlin.

And as for these recent revelations about Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a woman that he was told was a Russian government attorney, that meeting took place 11 days before Caputo was fired. He was still a communications aide at the time.

He says he never heard about that meeting or the Russian lawyer, before, during or after it took place. He learned about it, he says, just this past week -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Now we turn to Honolulu, Hawaii, where a high-rise fire has killed three people. Officials say flames broke out on the condominium building's 26th floor. There were no water sprinklers in the apartment where the fire started. More than 100 firefighters are battling the fire, which, at last check, is not yet under control.

Coming up here, Turkey marks one year since a failed coup attempt. We'll hear from a mother who dared to defy soldiers.

Plus, the oldest tournament in tennis is feeling the effects of the Brexit. Yes, Wimbledon and Brexit. We'll have that in a moment. Stay with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN (voice-over): This was the scene one year ago in Turkey amid a coup attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It failed and a crackdown against perceived government opponents has not let up. There are reports that more than 7,000 police, academics and civil servants have just been dismissed.

Here's what President Erdogan said about the purge.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): They are asking how many people are dismissed from work, how their needs will be met from now on. Let them work in the private sector.

Why should we care?

Will we think about them?

Let them work in the private sector.

Will the state look after them?

The state looked after them and they betrayed the state.


ALLEN: Events to mark the failed coup anniversary are planned across Turkey. A national unity march is set for later in Istanbul. But the country remains divided. Our Gul Tuysuz has a story of a mother who defied soldiers trying to overthrow the president.


GUL TUYSUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few people knew Sophia Bayat (ph) before this moment. She led a seemingly quiet and simple life. But this conservative mother of two surprised even herself.

During the coup attempt last year when she stood up to tanks and soldiers, she said she made a split-second decision that night when she turned on the TV, that she would go out to confront the soldiers trying to topple the government of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

She says, as a woman, she thought she might be able to stop the soldiers and appeal to their conscience.

"But they only had anger and violence in return," she tells us.

She says when she wouldn't leave, they threatened to shoot her.

"I told them I wasn't afraid of them," she says. "They roughed me up but I kept saying, 'I am not afraid,' and that they could shoot me if they wanted to."

When soldiers begin firing on the crowd, Bayat (ph) says she was shot in the leg while trying to carry away the wounded. A strong supporter of Turkey's president, Bayat (ph) is glad to see those who she believes are responsible for the coup behind bars.

And while many in Turkey are united behind Turkey's president, for others, the post-coup Turkey has become an intolerably oppressive place.

TUYSUZ: Since the coup attempt, the government has declared a state of emergency. More than 100,000 people have been detained or arrested. Tens of thousands of workers, including civil servants, teachers and journalists have been dismissed from their jobs.

Critics of the government say that the post-coup crackdown has turned into a cleansing of all voices of dissent, with both the coup and the crackdown leaving scars on an already fractured nation -- Gul Tuysuz, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: The Pentagon confirms a U.S. raid killed the leader of ISIS' Afghanistan affiliate on Tuesday. A drone strike hit ISIS Khorasan headquarters in Kunar province to the east of Kabul. U.S. commanders have promised to oust the group completely from the country by the end of this year.

In Israel, mourners are paying tribute to two police officers shot and killed in Jerusalem Friday. They were reportedly members of the Druze (ph) community, an Arabic-speaking religious minority. Israel says they were slain by three Israeli Arabs in a terror attack. The attackers were also killed.

The body of human rights proponent Liu Xiaobo has been cremated at a private ceremony. The Nobel Peace Prize winner from China died Thursday from multiple organ failure after he developed cancer. He had been serving --


ALLEN: -- an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power," as China put it. And although he was allowed to go to hospital, he remained in custody. Liu was 61 when he died. His case was condemned internationally.

There are calls in Britain to restrict the sale and possession of acid after a recent spike in attacks. On Friday, five men were targeted in what police believe were linked incidents around London. Two teenage boys have since been taken into custody.

Still to come here, the U.S. is no stranger to celebrities running for political office.

So is it possible that singer Kid Rock is the next one to throw his hat into the Senate ring?

We'll talk with someone about that in a moment.





ALLEN: Kid Rock there singing about wanting to be a cowboy.

But is it possible he also wants to be a politician? The entertainer has been performing since the '90s and is famously known for some of his suggestive lyrics. He just launched a website called

And he says the website is for real. His fans are thrilled but some are questioning if he's just pulling a publicity stunt to promote his music and some merchandise.


ALLEN: David Graham, a writer for "The Atlantic," joins us now from Durham, North Carolina, to talk more about what to make of this.

David, thank you for joining us.

DAVID GRAHAM, "THE ATLANTIC": Thank you for having me.

ALLEN: First of all, is Donald Trump the inspiration for Kid Rock?

Is this a joke by Kid Rock?

A PR stunt to promote his new album?

Or might he truly aspire to serve in the federal government as Senator Rock?

GRAHAM: He's somebody who has been involved in politics for a while. He was a high-profile endorser of Mitt Romney (INAUDIBLE) his theme song. He endorsed Donald Trump after previously having backed Ben Carson. So he's got a political interest.

There are reasons to believe it may be a stunt. He hasn't filed paperwork or said what party or state he'd run in for sure. But just because it's a publicity stunt doesn't mean he might not run and doesn't mean he couldn't be a formidable candidate.

ALLEN: Yes, Why not?

I mean, nobody else has figured out how to end gridlock. Maybe it's Kid Rock standing up there.


ALLEN: If he assume he were to run as a Republican, I'm just trying to picture Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, say, Susan Collins and Kid Rock holding a news conference. He might bring some swag.

He might bring something, right?

Certainly he would bring something, whatever that is.

GRAHAM: He brings star power. And he would bring name recognition. Absolutely.

ALLEN: So for those of our international viewers who may not know Kid Rock, what more can you tell us about him? GRAHAM: He's best known for this, you know, series of hits as a kind of rap-rock guy in the late '90s and early 2000s. A little country, a little bit city. Tends to be a little bit obscene, a little bit on the sexual side in the lyrics. Recently then veered into classic rock and then country.

He's got this -- he's worked in endorsing politicians before but he's not somebody certainly who is a traditional politician. If he ran, it would be in the Donald Trump mode of celebrity making an unexpected run.

ALLEN: Right. So you call his lyrics obscene --


ALLEN: -- or what have you, sexually laced. You know, what rocker might not have that package to bring to a campaign and, you know, considering what we saw during the Trump campaign, with the bus episode, with Mr. Trump's comments about women, women alleging sexual assault, does anybody really have baggage anymore?

And does it matter?

GRAHAM: That's the question. And I think there are a lot of people who think that maybe it doesn't. I think maybe a little bit more cautious view would be to say Donald Trump is an unusual candidate who is able to get away with things that other candidates would not have been able to get away with and still can't.

But he was able to do that because he was a celebrity with this fixed image and people had that baked in.

And that's something that, if Kid Rock ran for Senate, he would also bring. People know what they're getting. They don't expect him to be a straitlaced, buttoned-down church choirboy. They expect somebody who's going to be a little outrageous and he'd bring that for sure.

ALLEN: He could indeed shake things up but might be time for that. We'll see. Thanks so much, David Graham, we'll look for any of your follow-up stories on Mr. Rock.

GRAHAM: Thank you. I'll be watching.

ALLEN: OK. Thanks.


ALLEN: We'll keep you posted on Mr. Rock's political ambitions.

Let's turn to sports for a second. Venus Williams will play Garbine Muguruza for the women's singles title at Wimbledon Saturday. But whoever wins, they are looking at a slight pay cut of about 100,000 U.S. dollars, thanks to Brexit.

The British pound has plummeted since the U.K.'s decisive vote to lead the E.U. But you don't have to feel too badly for them. The winner will still take home about 2.8 million U.S. dollars.

On Monday, in a CNN exclusive, the Duchess of Cornwall. We'll show you the very different sides of Camilla, known as the friendliest member of the royal family. She has a cordial relationship with the news media.

And in a rare interview, she talks with CNN's Max Foster about how she's helping victims of domestic violence.


CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: I think we can talk. It was a taboo subject. But I think we can talk about it now. And if I can talk about it and bang the drum a bit, so can a lot of other people. So that's what I'm trying to do to help.


ALLEN: Often seen but rarely heard. More of our chat with the Duchess of Cornwall as we follow her on a busy day of engagements. That's Monday, only here on CNN.

Before we go, one of the unspoken thrills about going to an art exhibit is letting everyone on social media know you were there and capturing a perfect selfie is an art form in itself. But not for this apparent culture vulture.

A woman in Los Angeles accidentally -- oh, my goodness -- toppled a row of art displays in her pursuit of selfie satisfaction. The pedestals came down just like dominos, as you can see. She is says to have caused around $200,000 worth of damage.

There's speculation the whole thing might have been a publicity stunt but the gallery denies that. Whether she posted a selfie, we don't know.

That's CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be right back with our top stories. Thanks for watching.